The Arminian and Calvinist Ordo Salutis: A Brief Comparative Study

The ordo salutis is the “order of salvation.”  It focuses on the process of salvation and the logical order of that process.  The main difference between the Arminian and Calvinist ordo concerns faith and regeneration.  Strictly speaking, faith is not part of salvation in the Arminian ordo since it is the condition that is met prior to God’s act of saving.  All that follows faith is salvation in the Arminian ordo while in the Calvinist ordo faith is the result of salvation in some sense.  What follows is how I see the Arminian ordo compared to the Calvinist ordo along with why I find the Calvinist ordo theologically problematic.

Arminian ordo salutis:

Prevenient grace

Faith

[Union with Christ]

Justification

Regeneration

Sanctification

Glorification

Notes on Arminian ordo:

Again, it is important to note that strictly speaking prevenient grace and faith are not part of salvation but are necessary to salvation.  Prevenient grace makes the faith response possible and faith is the God ordained condition that must be met before God will save.  Faith is synergistic in that it is a genuine response that is made possible by God’s enabling grace.  All that follows (the various aspects of salvation) are a monergistic work of God.  While salvation results from faith, faith does not cause salvation.  God causes salvation in response to faith according to His promise to save believers.

There are other aspects or expressions of salvation that are not explicitly included in the above ordo.  Adoption, for instance, would probably be included under both regeneration and glorification.  Regeneration would include the commencement of adoption while glorification would include the culmination of adoption.  Election would be tied to union with Christ.  We would become the elect of God upon our union with Christ (the elect One) as we would come to share in His election through union and identification with Him.  Faith joins us to Christ (Eph. 1:13) and all of the spiritual blessings that reside in Christ become the believer’s upon union with Him (Eph. 1:3-12).

Temporally, these blessings would become ours simultaneously, but logically it is important to place justification prior to regeneration and all that follows, since one must first receive forgiveness and have sin removed prior to the reception of new life and the attaining of holiness (sanctification).  One cannot have life while still under the condemnation of sin and the wrath of God for “the wages of sin is death”.  And one cannot be made holy apart from justification.  So the moment we are joined to Christ we are cleansed by His blood and new life and holiness immediately result from that cleansing.

Predestination would have reference to the predetermined destiny of believers through union with Christ.  Believers have been predestinated to ultimate adoption and conformity to the image of Christ (glorification).  Predestination does not have reference to God’s predetermination of certain sinners to become believers and be ultimately saved.

Calvinist ordo salutis:

Election/Predestination (unconditional)

Regeneration

Faith

Justification

Sanctification

Glorification

Notes on Calvinist ordo salutis:

The Calvinist ordo begins with an unconditional divine selection of certain individuals for salvation.  This divine selection of those to be saved would fall under election and predestination.  God would then regenerate those pre-selected individuals in time (usually upon the hearing of the gospel).  Regeneration would cause a faith response.  Most Calvinists would say that the faith response would be automatic and immediate.  The moment one is regenerated by God that person believes.  Calvinists tend to speak of faith as an unconditional and irresistible gift from God rather than the condition for receiving salvation.  It is part of the salvation package as it arises from a primary aspect of salvation- regeneration.  Calvinists will often say that faith is monergistic, but it is hard to see how faith could be monergistic unless God does the believing for the individual.  But most Calvinists deny that God believes for the person while maintaining that faith is an unconditional monergistic work of God along with every other aspect of salvation.

The difficulty with the Calvinist ordo has to do with the priority of regeneration (the new birth).  Logically, the new birth (regeneration- the beginning of spiritual life) precedes justification in the Calvinist ordo just as it precedes faith (and the Bible is clear that justification is by faith).  So logically speaking we have people receiving new life prior to justification.  Since justification includes forgiveness and the removal of God’s wrath, the Calvinist ordo results in the receiving of life logically prior to being forgiven and prior to the wrath of God being removed.

A further difficulty comes from trying to place adoption in the Calvinist ordo.  Do we place it at the new birth (regeneration)?  If we place it at the new birth then we also have the person becoming a child of God (which I think must be part of regeneration) logically prior to being forgiven and justified.

And still another difficulty comes from trying to place sanctification in the ordo.  I think most Calvinists would agree with where I have placed it here.  Yet I have heard (and read) many Calvinists claim that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification.  If that is the case then the Calvinist also needs to explain how one can be sanctified (made holy) prior to being justified.

It is also hard to place union with Christ in the Calvinist ordo.  When do we become united with Christ?  Do we become united to Christ in regeneration logically prior to a faith response?  This would lead to the conclusion that one can be in union with Christ logically prior to believing in Christ.  If union with Christ is placed after regeneration and faith in the ordo we run into the difficulty of sinners receiving new spiritual life logically prior to being joined to the source of life- Christ.

The Calvinist ordo has much to account for and seems to be hopelessly problematic.  In placing regeneration prior to faith the Calvinist ordo salutis involves itself in numerous theological absurdities while the Arminian ordo avoids them all.

Related posts:

 John Piper Tweets Out and Already Refuted Calvinist Argument on 1 John 5:1

Jesus Says the Dead Will Hear Unto Spiritual Life

What Can the Dead in Sin Do?

Dr. Brian Abasciano on the Conditionality Implied in Romans 9:16 and its Connection to John 1:12-13

Does Jesus Teach That Regeneration Precedes Faith in John 3:3, 6?

Is the New Heart of Ezekiel 36:26-27 a Reference to Regeneration Preceding Faith?

Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

Sanctification by Works?

Examining Inconsistencies in Calvinistic Monergism Part 2: Sanctification

Parallel Passages on Regeneration

Synergism as a Model for God’s Glory

Examining A Rather Strange Proof Text For Irresistible Regeneration

Quick Questions for my Calvinist Friends

Paul Washer’s -“Doctrine” of Election: An Arminian Critique

“Saved by Grace”-Through Faith

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150 Responses

  1. Perhaps it would be helpful to see regeneration as initial sanctification, a component of the entire sanctification enterprise as opposed to distinct from it. In this way, the beginnings of a holy life are the immediate fruit of justification, or the restoration of relationship between the sinner and God.

  2. Another incredibly serious problem with the C position that regeneration precedes faith is that it has one being born of God yet not his child (for one becomes a child of God through faith), which is plainly absurd. Being born of God and being made his child are one and the same thing.

    On the issue of sanctification, I agree with Kyle that regeneration is initial sanctification. Regeneration is what sets us apart as belonging to God.(i.e., sanctifies us). This is also equivalent to election actually. In regeneration, we receive the Spirit, who marks us out as belonging to God, i.e., marks us out as elect, i.e., marks us out as God’s children, all by faith.

  3. On the issue of sanctification, I agree with Kyle that regeneration is initial sanctification.

    Isn’t it convenient then that sanctification in the Arminian ordo directly follows regeneration.

    I think it is also interesting that Arminius often spoke of regeneration and sanctification interchangeably. He is often said to have held to progressive regeneration, but it seems to me that Arminius saw sanctification as a continuation of regeneration. I think he would fully agree with Kyle’s comment,

    Perhaps it would be helpful to see regeneration as initial sanctification, a component of the entire sanctification enterprise as opposed to distinct from it.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  4. Hello Ben,

    Great post.

    I especially appreciate your emphasis on “union with Christ” as being a factor that must be adequately considered if you want to try to develop a proper “ordo salutis”. In another thread I saw how you brought up “union with Christ” to a necessatarian who was arguing owenesque arguments and failing to distinguish between the provision and application of the atonement (i.e., the necessitarian will try to argue that unlimited atonement logically entails universalism: but this is not true if “union with Christ” is required for salvation as we are not united with Christ unless we have faith and not everyone has faith).

    Kyle pointed out:

    “Perhaps it would be helpful to see regeneration as initial sanctification, a component of the entire sanctification enterprise as opposed to distinct from it. In this way, the beginnings of a holy life are the immediate fruit of justification, or the restoration of relationship between the sinner and God.”

    Great point!

    Arminian wrote:

    “On the issue of sanctification, I agree with Kyle that regeneration is initial sanctification. Regeneration is what sets us apart as belonging to God.(i.e., sanctifies us). This is also equivalent to election actually. In regeneration, we receive the Spirit, who marks us out as belonging to God, i.e., marks us out as elect, i.e., marks us out as God’s children, all by faith.”

    I feel compelled upon reading Arminian’s last line here in particular, to cite some key verses from Galatians that make this point that we receive the Spirit when we have faith (and only through faith):

    “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publically portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal.3:1-3)

    There it is black and white, clear as day, when do we receive the Spirit? **When we have faith**. But if faith is when we initially receive the Spirit, then faith must **precede** reception of the Spirit. And if regeneration occurs when we receive the Spirit, then faith must precede regeneration.

    Ben wrote:

    “Isn’t it convenient then that sanctification in the Arminian ordo directly follows regeneration.”

    It makes sense logically it also makes sense experientially as we cannot live the Christian life without the Spirit. So when do you receive the Spirit? When you first believe and are justified. Justification precedes sanctification and the two need to be carefully distinguished as our works as Christians are not done to be justified, but are done as already justified persons.

    Ben wrote:

    “I think it is also interesting that Arminius often spoke of regeneration and sanctification interchangeably. He is often said to have held to progressive regeneration, but it seems to me that Arminius saw sanctification as a continuation of regeneration. I think he would fully agree with Kyle’s comment,”

    I like that phrase to see “sanctification as a continuation of regeneration”.

    Kyle wrote:

    “Perhaps it would be helpful to see regeneration as initial sanctification, a component of the entire sanctification enterprise as opposed to distinct from it.”

    Again, why are we given the Spirit as believers? Isn’t one of the reasons to be enabled to live the Christian life (i.e., sanctification during this life) properly? And yet the Spirit will not be given to unbelievers, a person must be a believer, must be justified before God, have had his sins forgiven and atoned for. And again, as Paul makes clear in the Galatians passage cited earlier: we do not receive the Spirit as a result of doing works of the law/religious works, but only as a result of having faith.

    Robert

  5. The problem with Arminian theology is foundational as it fails at the outset if Eph 2:8,9 or Titus 3:5 are inspired Words of the Lord.
    For by grace are you saved through faith, AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES; It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. —
    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us; by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. The Ephesians passage especially speaks to the gift that is presented to the elect. That gift is Faith.
    If we are able to lean toward God IN ANY WAY, taking any part in the actual transaction that is justification, then we are in effect partially responsible for our own salvation (as Finney falsely taught.) God has never saved as a result of human works (effort) .
    On the other hand, sanctification is a joint operation and C’s hold that while God is absolutely sovereign in all things, He sovereignly chooses to act in time, through the “limbs and organs” that comprise His Church.
    So we CANNOT continue to sin so grace may abound. That is what He saved us from by abounding grace already!

  6. Eric,

    Nothing you have presented here demonstrates Biblically that regeneration precedes faith, nor does it demonstrate faith as an irresistible gift from God to the elect. The “gift” in Ephesians is not faith but salvation. The Greek forbids the view that faith is the “gift” being described. And even if the Greek allowed it, it would lead to Paul saying that “faith is not of works”. Obviously the issue is whether or not salvation is of works or by faith and not whether or not faith is of works (which would amount to a needless statement of the obvious).

    The Titus passage is in perfect harmony with the Arminian view since Arminians do not believe that we earn salvation through “works of righteousness.”

    The Bible never describes faith as works or human effort as you have done here. Romans 4 contrasts works with faith and makes it clear that faith is different than works because by simple trust it receives a gift, rather than working to earn something,

    “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (vss. 4, 5)

    Faith is not works because it is simple trust in God to do what the sinner cannot do (save himself), and not because it is an irresistible gift given only to the elect.

    What really intrigues me is that you and some other Calvinists see sanctification as synergistic, yet I suspect that you would not say that we sanctify ourselves or that we work for or earn our sanctification. Why then do you insist that salvation is earned or worked for if it is in some way synergistic? And BTW sanctification is part of the salvation process.

    And if you equate everything you “do” as a “work”, including believing, then I think the only way you can avoid “working” for salvation (in conformity with that definition of “works”) is to say that God believes for us. Is that what you believe? Or do you believe that we have something to do with believing?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  7. Adding to what Ben said in response to Eric, it is not only that Titus 3:5 is consistent with Arminian theology, but it also supports faith as prior to regeneration, because it speaks of regeneration in connection with the giving of the Holy Spirit, which is of course the normal way regeneration is presented in the NT, as something granted to us in the giving of the Holy Spirit to us. But it is crystal clear in the NT that we receive the Holy Spirit through faith (e.g., Gal 3:1-3 quoted above by Robert, just one among a number that testify to this basic teaching of the NT)! Therefore, faith is prior to the giving of the Spirit and the regeneration that he works in believers.

  8. Ben made some good comments against Eric’s position already, but I want to focus on one particular but serious serious error being made by Eric (I have seen other necessatarians make this same error so it deserves to be firmly dealt with and disposed of).

    First Eric cites Eph. 2 and Titus 3:

    “The problem with Arminian theology is foundational as it fails at the outset if Eph 2:8,9 or Titus 3:5 are inspired Words of the Lord.
    For by grace are you saved through faith, AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES; It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. —
    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy he saved us; by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. The Ephesians passage especially speaks to the gift that is presented to the elect. That gift is Faith.”

    As Ben pointed out the **gift** referred to in Ephesians 2 is not **faith** itself, but SALVATION (check out the Greek to see this clearly). I believe it was Augustine who made this error popular. He wanted to argue that since faith is a gift given only to the elect, only the elect would receive it, thus supporting the false doctrine of unconditional election.

    Second, the serious and major and completely misguided error that necessatarians repeatedly make comes in the next words:’

    “If we are able to lean toward God IN ANY WAY, taking any part in the actual transaction that is justification, then we are in effect partially responsible for our own salvation (as Finney falsely taught.) God has never saved as a result of human works (effort).”

    Let’s start with some simple propositions that any and every bible believing person should agree to: (1) we do not save ourselves through religious works; (2) we are justified by faith alone (the entire book of Romans and Galatians in particular conclusively establish this point); (3) a Christian must have saving faith in order to be justified and saved; (4) faith is an action of trust that human persons do; (5) saving faith does not boast; and (6) the bible distinguishes between faith and works.

    We are fortunate to have an absolutely clear scripture passage that establishes points (1) (2), (5), and (6):

    “Where then is BOASTING? It is EXCLUDED. By what kind of law? Of works? NO, but by a law of FAITH. For we maintain that a man is JUSTIFIED BY FAITH APART FROM WORKS OF THE LAW” (Romans 3:27-28)

    This passage says that we are justified by faith alone (2), that saving faith does not boast (5) because it excludes boasting, that faith and works are not the same thing, are to be distinguished (6) and that we do not justify ourselves through religious works ((1) [the works of the law referred to in the verse 28 eliminates religious works as the way of salvation].

    That leaves points (3) and (4). I will not argue for (3) as this is so plain and clear that to deny this is to engage in heresy.

    But what about (4): that faith is an action of trust that human persons do? This one seems obvious and you would think that professing Christians all agree to it. But that is not true. Unfortunately, there are some necessatarians trying so hard to support and prove their necessitarian beliefs that they have constructed a misguided argument which does two things that are serious serious errors: (a) the argument negates faith as the way of justification, and (b) the argument equates saving faith with religious works (when the bible clearly distinguishes them).

    So what is this misguided argument that Eric and other necessatarians have promoted? It goes like this: they argue that: we cannot be saved through works (this premise is correct), anything that we as human persons do/any effort we make, IS A RELIGIOUS WORK that cannot be involved in our salvation (this is the false premise).

    The problem is that if you are going to argue or suggest that anything we do/any effort on our part ******is******* a religious work, then you have just equated saving faith with works! It is true that religious works are done by us and cannot save us, but it is also true that saving faith is also SOMETHING DONE BY US. God does not have faith for us, neither does he take over our minds and bodies and have faith through us, WE alone are the ones who must have faith. AND WHEN WE HAVE SAVING FAITH IT IS AN EFFORT ON OUR PART, IT IS SOMETHING THAT WE DO.

    It is significant that in the OT, one of the words for faith meant to lean upon a staff or rock for support (cf. the language in the Psalms about God as my rock). The idea being that it was not the leaning that was critical, it was the object upon which the leaning or trust was placed. This is also true with regard to saving faith in the NT. Our faith is our action of trusting, our “leaning upon”, our placing our confidence not in our religious works but in what Jesus did. The extremely important object of faith is the work of Christ not our own religious works.

    If you argue that ANYTHING THAT WE DO is a religious work, then you have just eliminated justification by faith. Because justification by faith involves our action of trusting in the work of Christ for salvation. This is why this misguided argument of the necessitarian is such a serious serious error. It is serious error to claim that we are saved through our own religious works instead of faith (this is the error of cults and false religions). But is **also** serious error to argue in such a way that saving faith is equated with/and made into a religious work that does not save.

    Some errors do not impact salvation and we can let them go even among Christians. But the error of making saving faith into a work, of eliminating justification by faith by making faith into a religious work is an attack on the very nature of justification itself. This error needs to be strongly challenged and refuted. Sadly this error is repeatedly made and propagated not by those from cults or false religions, but by misguided necessatarians trying to argue for their necessitarian beliefs. Sadly I have seen only necessatarians make this error, and I have not ever seen other necessatarians police their own on this error. Apparently, since it is used as an argument against Arminians it is acceptable (the ends justifies the means), this is inexcusable on the part of other necessatarians who know better.

    Robert

  9. Robert,

    Your analysis here of faith and works is absolutely excellent. You need to crystallize it into an article if you haven’t done so already.

  10. Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”

    John 6:29

    ^ to kangaroo and robert, this is the lone verse that Calvinists I debate with gives me when I explain those verse to them.

    They say by this that believing(faith) is also a work? Any comments regarding that?

    Another explanation I get from them in regards with Ephesians 2, that God is the one who gives Faith IOW it is God’s work that the Elect should believe etc.

    Have you guys experienced answering these responses?

    Thanks!

  11. Hello Rex,

    “to kangaroo and robert, this [John 6:29] is the lone verse that Calvinists I debate with gives me when I explain those verse to them.
    They say by this that believing(faith) is also a work? Any comments regarding that?”

    First of all THIS IS SCARY!!!!!

    I made a slight error in a previous post when I said that I have only heard necessatarians argue that since anything we do is a work, and since we have faith, therefore faith must be a religious work. Actually NON-CHRISTIAN CULTS make this same argument. I have run into cultists who run to Jn. 6:29 to “prove” that we are saved by works (of course the “works” then just happen to be whatever that particular cult believes are the things you have to do apart from faith in order to be saved). So think about it, if the necessitarian who professes to be a Christian and also professes to believe in justification by faith, attacks the doctrine of justification by faith in the exact same way that a cultist does so, something is very, very wrong. And again, why aren’t other necessatarians stopping this argument and putting their fellow necessatarians in their place? I have yet to see one necessitarian correct another when the engage in this argument used by the cults against Christianity.

    Second, let’s talk about the passage itself. What is the context of the verse? Jesus is having a conversation with religious Jews (those who believe they are saved by keeping the laws of the Old Covenant). Jesus had said that they were seeking him only for food (v. 26). Jesus then makes a contrast between the “food which perishes” and the “food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you”. Now does eating some food really give us eternal life? No, Jesus is using metaphorical language to convey a spiritual truth. The truth that He is aiming at, that He wants them to know is that FAITH ALONE IN HIM IS WHAT SAVES A PERSON. That is the goal, that is where He is going in the narrative. V. 28 gives their response to his declaration about the “spiritual food” that gives eternal life: “They said therefore to Him ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’”. Now note carefully that there comment refers to the **works** of God, PLURAL. They are religious Jews used to thinking in terms of doing multiple religious works to please and obey God. So from their perspective of multiple works they are asking which ones do we have to do then? In v. 29 Jesus answers this question with: “This is the work of God, that YOU BELIEVE IN HIM whom He has sent.” Some things to note in this response. First, the spoke of PLURAL WORKS, Jesus speaks of a SINGULAR WORK. Second, He clarifies exactly what this SINGULAR action is: “that you believe in Him”. Third, and who is this “him” in which you must place your faith? Fourth, the “him” is he “whom has been sent”. So according to Jesus the one and only “work” that saves is to place your faith in the one who was sent. Well who is that?

    In v. 30 they respond with: “What then do YOU do for a sign, that we may see, and believe You? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness . . .” Now they have shifted the conversation to an issue of authority: by what right do you tell us what we have to do to be saved! Can you do a miracle to prove your authority? Now it is interesting that they bring up the miraculous bread story from their past experience. Jesus is going to use this to prove that He is the person in whom faith must be placed.

    Jesus says in v. 32 that it was not Moses who miraculously gave the bread/manna from heaven it was the Father (“My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven”). In v. 33 Jesus gives one of the most incredible statements in all of the bible (as Christians this does not shock us as we believe He was God in the flesh, we believe that the incarnation occurred). “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven and gives life to the world.” Note he is piggy backing on their bringing up the manna story when bread came down from heaven (but that was a physical bread, a bread that only gave life in the here and now)and likening the incarnation to that story. But in this case it is not manna that has come down from Heaven it is the Son of God/Jesus. And note also that in the manna story that bread came down for the nation of Israel, but this bread/Jesus comes down “AND GIVES LIFE TO THE WORLD.” Notice their response in v. 34: “Lord evermore give us this bread”. But they are not thinking of Jesus they are thinking of physical bread. Jesus then makes this clear in v. 35: “Jesus said to them. ‘I am the bread of life, he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believers in Me shall never thirst.” Jesus says he himself is the bread that comes from heaven and one must come to him, believe in Him. This clearly answers who the “him” is of v. 29. The one who was sent is Jesus, He is the heavenly bread sent by the Father to give life to the world. Jesus reinforces this in v. 38 “For I have come down form heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” And notice how he talks about the will of God in v. 40: “For this is the will of My Father, that EVERYONE who beholds the Son AND BELIEVES IN HIM may have ETERNAL LIFE, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”

    A simple but important principle of bible interpretation is to compare scripture with scripture and carefully consider the context. Cultists and sadly necessatarians run to Jn. 6:29 to “prove” that we are saved by religious works not by faith alone. But that is “proof texting” as it ignores the surrounding immediate context as well as other statements made in John 6 that clarify what Jesus was talking about.

    Some more verses from John 6 itself show this to be true. In v. 41 it says of Jesus AGAIN that He came down from Heaven: “The Jews therefore were grumbling about Him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven. In v. 42 the Jews question whether or not Jesus has come down from Heaven: “Is this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven?’ Jesus repeats what the “work of God” is again in v. 47: “Truly, truly, I say to you he who believes has eternal life. V. 48 “I am the bread of life.” Jesus makes it even stronger with a contrast between the first bread from heaven/manna and himself in verses 49-50: “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven so that one may eat of it and not die.” In v. 51 Jesus again makes it emphatic: “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven, if anyone eats of this bread he shall live forever, and the bread also which I shall give for the LIFE OF THE WORLD is My flesh.” A controversy then arises about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.

    A couple of helpful comments from commentaries here. Leon Morris in THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN says of the “work of God”: “The ‘work of God’ means that which God requires of men” (p.360). And what is it that God requires of man for salvation? As Jesus says repeatedly in John 6, believe on the one who came down from Heaven, BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BE SAVED. Rodney Whiteacre in JOHN says of the “work of God”: “It is not many **works** that God requires but one **work**. And that work is to **believe**, to trust in Jesus as the one sent from God” (p.154).

    And then there is D.A. Carson in THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN:

    “Jesus sets them straight: **The work of God** — i.e., what God requires is faith. This is not faith in the abstract, an existential trust without a coherent object. Rather, they must **believe in the one[God] has sent**. Such language may reflect a specific Old Testament passage, such as Malachi 3:1 where God promises to send, in due time, the ‘messenger of the covenant’ but in fact the language is reminiscent of the entire ‘sentness’ theme in the Fourth Gospel. Jesus is supremely the one who reveals God to us, precisely because, unlike any other person, he has been sent in the courts of heaven and has been sent from there so that the world might be saved through him (e.g. 3:11-17). Faith, faith with proper Christological object, is what God requires, not ‘works’ in any modern sense of the term. And even this faith that we must exercise is the fruit of God’s activity (cf. notes on vv. 44, 65). Although the noun ‘faith’ is not used, this “work of God” diametrically opposed ot what Paul means by “works of the law”. As a result, the thought of the passage is almost indistinguishable from Paul: “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law” (Rom. 3:28).” (p.285)

    I have sometimes preached evangelistically from this passage as you can talk about key Christian doctrines including: the incarnation, the necessity of faith for salvation, the identity of Jesus as God in the flesh, the universal atonement of Jesus giving Himself for the WORLD, faith versus works, etc. It is sad that cultists and necessatarians attempt to proof text from this wonderful section of scripture to teach things that are not true by ignoring the surrounding context and trying to equate faith with works.

    “Another explanation I get from them in regards with Ephesians 2, that God is the one who gives Faith IOW it is God’s work that the Elect should believe etc.”

    Where does it say **in the text** of Eph. 2 that “God is the one who gives Faith”? Or that it is God’s work that the Elect should believe”? Those statements are not in the text, they are READ INTO THE TEXT by zealous necessatarians. Cults do the same thing, they READ INTO THE TEXT what they want it to mean in order to support their preferred beliefs.

    “Have you guys experienced answering these responses?”

    Yep, and again it is really really sad when the necessatarians are adopting arguments used by cultists to attack justification by faith by trying to turn faith (something that in fact we must do to be saved) into a religious work (and then claiming that we save ourselves by our religious work of faith). This is serious serious error which is why I have taken the time to address it here.

    Robert

  12. Robert, Ben, arminian:
    ref: Eph289Titus35…
    “ …and disposed of. “ Very nice Robert.
    “supports faith as prior to regeneration,” impossible.

    Regarding Ephesians 2:8,9, you cannot dispose of common assertions fathers of the early church made, simply by recommending, “look at the Greek.” For two millennia, church fathers like Polycarp and Augustine, Calvin and Luther, and more recently, the late J. M. Boice, Piper, and Sproul, have taught the biblical doctrines of grace like total depravity, election, and the like, (sometimes called Solis.)
    I just don’t see these witnesses for Jesus Christ being “disposed of.”
    Scripture puts forth BOTH ultimate personal responsibility and complete sovereignty of God. Because human minds can’t comprehend something, doesn’t mean we refuse to believe it. (The Trinity?)
    How about I just lay down scripture and those so inclined, can punch holes in the Calvinist assertion that God is absolutely sovereign.

    ACTS13:48 – When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
    EPH1:4 – … just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love
    ROM8:30 – Moreover whom He predestined, these He also CALLED (beckoned, drew, wooed)
    ROM9:10,11 – And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, … (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls)
    ROM9:14 – So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and he hardens whomever He wills.
    ROM16 – So then it does not depend on the man who wills (decides, chooses,) nor of him who runs (works, exerts, strives,) but on God who shows mercy …
    ROM21 – Has the potter no right over the clay, … to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
    ROM22 – What if God, …, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.

    ROM8:38,39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    (NOR Myself?)

    Election = Choosing
    • If we cooperate with God in our salvation, we may boast, though the regenerated might not.
    • Calvinists believe in God’s absolute sovereignty. As RC Sproul once succinctly put it, not one molecule or atom operates outside the control of God.
    • But just because we hold that even the faith to believe is a gift from God, we acknowledge that He has also sovereignly ordained that most work on the earth is to be carried out by the hands, feet and organs that comprise the Head’s Body, the Church.
    Calvinists worship a BIG God. One who is in complete control of His elect, the vessels for honor, and the condemned (vessels for destruction,) as well as the physical universe He created and maintains for His image bearers.

  13. Eric,

    You wrote,

    Regarding Ephesians 2:8,9, you cannot dispose of common assertions fathers of the early church made, simply by recommending, “look at the Greek.” For two millennia, church fathers like Polycarp and Augustine, Calvin and Luther, and more recently, the late J. M. Boice, Piper, and Sproul, have taught the biblical doctrines of grace like total depravity, election, and the like, (sometimes called Solis.)

    This is a very strange comment. Are you suggesting that Greek Grammar and context should be dismissed because your favorite theologians are Calvinists? And your history lesson needs some work. Polycarp was certainly not Calvinist, nor were any of the early Greek fathers (maybe because most of them understood Greek as their native tongue, unlike Augustine). The Ante-Nicene fathers universally rejected determinism and argued against the gnostic sects by appealing to a libertarian view of free will (though they didn’t call it “libertarian”). They can often be found using the exact same Scriptural arguments for free will as Arminians use today.

    They also universally held to a unlimited provisional atonement, and the possibility of true believers falling away to eternal ruin. Even Augustine believed that true regenerate believers who were not given the “gift of perseverance” would fall away and perish. The view that the regenerate would inevitably persevere was invented by Calvin with some 1500+ years of prior Christian history against him. The earliest Christian writers also held to a more synergistic view of salvation.

    Basically, every feature of what is now called Calvinism was opposed by the early church fathers. Calvin and Luther do not belong in the category of “early church fathers” and they certainly do not belong in the category of Polycarp. Luther was an Augustinian Monk and also rejected Calvinistic inevitable perseverance. For more on Augustine, the early church fathers, and the lack of historical support for Calvinism among the earliest Christian writers see,

    Augustine the Libertarian

    The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism Part 2

    Eternal Security Examined Historically

    The Early Church and Calvinism

    The Inadequate Historical Precedent for “Once Saved Always Saved”

    Calvinism, Free Will and the Early Church

    I just don’t see these witnesses for Jesus Christ being “disposed of.”

    If you read the links I provided above, you will find that the Calvinist has far more to “dispose of”, historically, than the non-Calvinist or Arminian. And do you really think that Piper, Boice, and Sproul are infallible? Do you not realize that there are a great many scholars who think they are very wrong about their Calvinism and the way they exegete Scripture? Are you suggesting that Boice, Sproul and Piper should be trusted above those other scholars simply because they are Calvinists? Do you not realize how circular that is? (i.e. “We know Calvinism is true because Boice, Sproul and Piper teach it, and we know Boice, Sproul and Piper are correct because, well…they’re Calvinists!”).

    You might want to read #s 11 and 12 in Debate Tips for Calvinists.

    Scripture puts forth BOTH ultimate personal responsibility and complete sovereignty of God.

    True, but the Bible does not define God’s sovereignty the way that Calvinists do (as meticulous exhaustive determinism).

    Because human minds can’t comprehend something, doesn’t mean we refuse to believe it. (The Trinity?)

    The Trinity is a true mystery, but it is not illogical or contradictory like much of Calvinism. It is inappropriate to put blatant contradictions under the umbrella of “mystery”.

    How about I just lay down scripture and those so inclined, can punch holes in the Calvinist assertion that God is absolutely sovereign.

    ACTS13:48 – When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.
    EPH1:4 – … just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him in love
    ROM8:30 – Moreover whom He predestined, these He also CALLED (beckoned, drew, wooed)
    ROM9:10,11 – And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, … (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls)
    ROM9:14 – So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and he hardens whomever He wills.
    ROM16 – So then it does not depend on the man who wills (decides, chooses,) nor of him who runs (works, exerts, strives,) but on God who shows mercy …
    ROM21 – Has the potter no right over the clay, … to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?
    ROM22 – What if God, …, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction.
    ROM8:38,39 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    (NOR Myself?)

    Do you realize that I could produce a list ten times as long as this full of “proof texts” for the Arminian position, and then ask you to “punch holes” in it? I think I will wait till you address the context and grammar of Eph. 2:8, 9, that you brought up earlier as proof for your position, before “punching holes” in the other proof texts you offer.

    Election = Choosing
    • If we cooperate with God in our salvation, we may boast, though the regenerated might not.

    It is absurd to take credit for or boast in receiving a free and unearned gift. Faith does not earn salvation, so boasting is excluded on that basis alone (Rom. 3:27; 4:4-25).

    • Calvinists believe in God’s absolute sovereignty. As RC Sproul once succinctly put it, not one molecule or atom operates outside the control of God.

    I believe that God controls the physical realm and that He can control all of the spiritual realm as well, but God does not need to control our every thought, desire, or action, in order to be sovereign (since sovereignty does not = exhaustive determinism, and because such a notion would make God the author of all sin and evil).

    But just because we hold that even the faith to believe is a gift from God, we acknowledge that He has also sovereignly ordained that most work on the earth is to be carried out by the hands, feet and organs that comprise the Head’s Body, the Church.

    You have yet to prove from Scripture that faith is an irresistible gift given only to the “elect”. I don’t necessarily disagree with the rest.

    Calvinists worship a BIG God. One who is in complete control of His elect, the vessels for honor, and the condemned (vessels for destruction,) as well as the physical universe He created and maintains for His image bearers.

    Why is a God who needs to meticulously control everything such a BIG God? Why isn’t He big enough to allow the existence of free will creatures and still be able to accomplish all that He plans? Why isn’t He big enough to foreknow true contingencies and perfectly incorporate them into His overall plan? Why isn’t He big enough to bring glory to Himself without the need to create beings in His image for the sole purpose of destroying in everlasting punishment for actions that He irresistibly controlled them to do? Maybe we just have different ideas concerning what it means for God to be big. And that is the point isn’t it? So rather than lean on our understanding of what God should be and what constitutes His bigness, we should allow God to define Himself in Scripture. And I think that is where the Arminian perspective will always win the day.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  14. Hello Ben, Great post!

    Just a quick question. Should repentance come before Faith? And should it be included in the Arminian Order of Salvation?

    Thanks!

  15. Robert,

    Good question. I see faith and repentance as two ways to describe the same condition from slightly different perspectives. Here is a helpful quote from F.Leroy Forlines,

    “While repentance includes a ‘from’ and a ‘to,’ the stress of repentance is on the to instead of the from. Repentance is a forward moving word. This is not to diminish the importance of the from. It is to place primary focus on the to. The ‘to’ of repentance is identical with faith. In Acts 20:21 Paul speaks of repentance toward God.’ In 2 Timothy 2:25, he speaks of ‘repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ Faith and repentance are involved in each other. To exercise faith implies a change from unbelief, whatever the from of unbelief may be. Repentance terminates in faith. If we tell a person to repent, or if we tell him to believe, we are telling him to do the same thing. Repent stresses that change is involved. Faith stresses the end to which change is directed. (The Quest for Truth, pp. 254, 255)

    God Bless,
    Ben

  16. That’s a nice summary. I am teaching on Salvation at my church, and we are going on Week 3. So your post and your site is very useful.

    Thanks!
    Robert

  17. Ben,

    “You have yet to prove from Scripture that faith is an irresistible gift given only to the “elect”. I don’t necessarily disagree with the rest.”

    Here is the proof:

    “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

    In other words, all those who were predestined and called (the elect) were indeed justified. Justification is by faith alone. Then, all those who were predestined and called received faith.

    The Arminian perspective is not biblical.

  18. Here is the proof:

    “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”

    In other words, all those who were predestined and called (the elect) were indeed justified. Justification is by faith alone. Then, all those who were predestined and called received faith.

    The Arminian perspective is not biblical.

    Did you read the post or only the comments? How do you explain the many theological problems that result from the Calvinist ordo salutis as described in the post? If you looked at the post you will find that according to the Arminian ordo salutis (and the Bible) faith is what joins us to Christ. It is by faith that we become a part of Christ’s body and we are elect in Him (Eph.1:3- not elect “to be” in Him). It is the elect body of Christ that is “predestined” to glory, adoption, and conformity to the image of Christ. Nowhere does the Bible teach that sinners are predestined to have faith and get saved. Predestination always speaks of those who are already believers. Believers are predestined to glory, adoption, and ultimate conformity to Christ’s image because they are joined to Him in faith.

    In your quote you left out the first part of the verse, “Those He foreknew…” This means those He foreknew as His covenant people, i.e. believers. So from beginning to end Paul is speaking of believers. He is not talking about sinners being predestined to become believers. If you want to discuss this further I will not be able to respond again for quite a while (as I will be away from the computer until the 28th. And if you do respond further, please do not use the “reply” button. Instead, scroll down to the bottom of the comments thread and reply there.

    You should probably check out the following posts before responding further, as they will help you better see why I think your understanding of Rom. 8:29-30 is inaccurate:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/12/10/corporate-election-resources/

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/what-does-callingcalled-refer-to-in-the-bible/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  19. In the Arminian Ordo you listed, faith comes before regeneration. How does a spiritually dead person respond as if spiritually alive? I don’t understand how a person dead in his sins can respond to anything spiritual. Could you please explain that part of the Arminian Ordo? Thanks for your explanation.

  20. Curtis,

    This was already answered in the post,

    “Prevenient grace makes the faith response possible and faith is the God ordained condition that must be met before God will save.”

    It must also be noted that scripture never places regeneration prior to faith, but rather declares that our being raised to spiritual life is through faith:

    “…having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12)

  21. Also Curtis, there is a lot of material at this site explaining and defending the biblical truth that faith precedes regeneration. I would encourage you to look through the material found through the regeneration topic in the index on the left side of the page. But you might want to start at the last page of the 25 entries on the matter. The chronolgocally first one (the last one listed on the last page, since entries get listed from most recent to oldest) is probably Ben’s basic article on the issue. Here is a link to it: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/does-regeneration-precede-faith/. But there are a lot of great entries. The biblical evidence is pretty clear and rather definitive that faith precedes regeneration.

  22. Hello Ben and Arminian brothers in general. I appreciate your sincere answer to this simple question:

    Why will you go to heaven and Judas Iscariot (or any other non-believer) will not?

    One line response should suffice.

    Thanks

  23. So you think prevenient grace gives a spiritually dead man the ability to accomplish an action of a spiritually alive man while he is still spiritually dead? Surely you can see why this is hard to understand.

    Also, the arminian ordo listed above has Christ being unified with those who are spiritually dead. that is a tough one too! Can you give some comments or direct me to further reading?

    Again, Thank you for responding!

  24. kangaroodort, Are you really saying that you were elected because you believed (faith precedes divine election)? Your faith was the decisive factor that conditioned God to choose you?

  25. My last question for the writer of this blog is: If faith precedes regeneration (Holy Spirit in you). How could John the Baptist be filled with the Holy Spirit yet in his mother’s womb? (Luke 1:15). Did he believe without hearing the gospel even as a fetus? Or was it only a “prevenient” Holy Spirit? Thanks.

  26. Curtis,

    @Surely you can see why this is hard to understand.

    Not really. With men it’s impossible, with God all things are possible.

    @Also, the arminian ordo listed above has Christ being unified with those who are spiritually dead

    Yes, through which union we obtain spiritual life. This is as opposed to the widespread Calvinist view that has one obtaining spiritual life apart from Christ, its source.

  27. Hi J.C. Thibodaux:

    Curtis: “So you think prevenient grace gives a spiritually dead man the ability to accomplish an action of a spiritually alive man while he is still spiritually dead?”

    J.C. Thibodaux: “With men it’s impossible, with God all things are possible.”

    J.C. Thibodaux, you only have 2 options:

    (1) Do you mean with your statement “with men it’s impossible”, that it is impossible for men to understand what Curtis said? If you mean this, you recognize that you do not even understand the very thing you try to reasonably defend.

    (2) Or do you mean with your statement “with men it’s impossible” that it is impossible that prevenient grace gives a spiritually dead man the ability to accomplish an action of a spiritually alive man while he is still spiritually dead? If you mean this, you are clearly saying that only God can do it (not men), and therefore you confirm the very truth you try to deny.

    Can you clarify which of the 2 positions were you supporting with your statement?

    Regards

  28. thanks for the thought provoking response, JC!

    Could you respond to how the Arminian Ordo relates to 2 Cor 5:17? It seems as though being “in Christ” means the creature is new. Yet the Arminian Ordo seems to suggest the newness comes later. Would you be willing to address that?

    Thanks again for taking the time to discuss!

  29. Curtis, if being in Christ is what makes one new, then being made new would logically come after one is in union with Him. Remember, in both the Calvinist and Arminian systems, the ordo refers to a logical sequence, there isn’t necessarily a time gap between steps.

    Patrick, the options you list are incoherent, and indicate you missed the point of what I was saying entirely.

  30. Hi J.C. I may have misunderstood your point. That is why I am asking you to clarify it. Thanks.

  31. Patrick, what I said is already quite clear. If you’re still confused, try reading the context of what I was responding to rather than misquoting it.

  32. Ok. I will give it another try. You meant:

    With God all things are possible, including the fact that the prevenient grace (of God) gives a spiritually dead man the ability to accomplish an action of a spiritually alive man while he is still spiritually dead.

    Now Patrick says:

    According to Arminian theory all men without exception have the prevenient grace of God. Then, all spiritually dead men (without having been born again since regeneration is after faith – according to Arminian theory) are able to accomplish an action (saving faith) that only spiritual alive men can accomplsih. This implies that there is no difference at all between the believing capability of a spiritually dead man and that of a spiritually alive man, which is fully unbiblical.

    Believing capability of spiritually alive man = Believing capability of spiritually dead man + previnient grace? If yes, there are no actual spiritually dead people in terms of believing ability.

    Regards and thanks for the chance of discussing this issue.

  33. Hi again,

    I would appreciate your explanation regarding John the Baptist being filled with the Holy Spirit before believing (he was a baby unable to understand the gospel when that happened).

    Thanks and sorry for posting so many messages!

    Regards

  34. Patrick,

    I apologize as I do not have much time at the computer anymore. I hope to address your question more fully later this week. For now I would ask you to address the theological absurdities in the Calvinist ordo as described in this post and others like it on this site.

    For example, how does a sinner, “dead” in sin (as you well point out) enjoy new spiritual life prior to being justified (forgiven of the sins that cause death and made right with God)? How does a sinner enjoy new spiritual life prior to being joined to the source of Life (Christ)? How does a sinner enjoy the life that the indwelling Spirit gives prior to receiving the Holy Spirit by faith (as Gal. 3 explains)?

    Here is another question for you to consider. How is it that Christ says in John 5 that the spiritually dead will “hear” unto life if what you say is true? Remember, according to you the “dead in sin” cannot “hear” anything since they are like a physical corpse. And take careful note of the fact that Jesus does not say that they will first be given life so they can then hear unto life. If that were the case it would not be the dead hearing unto life, but the spiritual living hearing unto life. Please explain how your theology is not at odds with the words of Christ in John 5.

    In the meantime, I would suggest you check out some more posts J.C. and I have written on the subject (as I have really already addressed your concerns many times). Here are a few category links to help you get started:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/dead-in-sin/

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/dead-in-sin/

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/regeneration/

    Each one will lead you to a list of posts on the subject (many will be repeats). Be sure to click “next” at the bottom of each one to see more posts.

    As for your question on John, I addressed that question in a short debate with a Calvinist (in the third post):

    Gordan raises an interesting point regarding John the Baptist being filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. Union with Christ through faith is the God ordained principle for those who are old enough to exercise faith. Faith cannot be the condition of union with Christ for unborn and small children who lack the capacity for saving faith. Many Arminians and Calvinists believe that children are under grace prior to an age of conscious and deliberate rebellion (an age of accountability). If that is the case, then it is possible that this grace was applied to John in a proleptic sense to empower him for the unique ministry that God was preparing him for. The fact remains that for morally accountable adults the Scriptures clearly teach that one comes to be in union with Christ by faith and not before.

    We must also remember that John’s situation is presented in Scripture as unique and not as a pattern for us to base our soteriology on.

    The entire debate addresses much of what you have asked. Here are the links if you are interested:

    Part 1: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/11/27/gordan-gives-me-props-and-rebukes-at-reformed-mafia/

    Part 2: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/12/28/gordan-takes-another-shot-at-john-540/

    Part 3: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/01/04/wrapping-things-up-with-gordan-on-john-540/

    Hopefully, you will be able to check these out at some time. It could save me the trouble of repeating myself in a lengthy response.

    I look forward to hearing your answers to the questions I have asked above concerning the Calvinist ordo.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  35. WWWHHHHOOOOAAAA!! My head is spinning! I thank God for the thoughtful men He has given to the church! You guys have all given me much to do by way of cogitation! Thanks for the civilized, respectful discussion.

    It appears there are tough questions on both sides. This should fuel the fire of bible study for some time!

  36. Dear Ben,

    I truly appreciate your response and I will be glad to make my best efforts to provide biblical explanations to your good questions.

    I recognize the special case of John the Baptist but, after all, the Arminian principle defending the free will of all men to accept or reject God’s wishes should stand in order to have a fair God for everyone. The chance to say no was not given to John (the Spirit took him without asking) and this inexorably implies a clear symptom of talitarian, exclusivistic decree connected with God’s will towards a man, something that Arminianism has to deny. By logic, Arminians should protest for the violation of John’s freedom of choice.

    It is indeed a hard issue to say what happens to babies who die and I think it goes beyond our scope. In any case it would not be biblical to affirm that not having consciousness grants the person innocence or unaccountability. We know that David recognized his guilty condition before God since he was in the womb of his mother (he was not conscious as a baby but as an adult he was aware of his hell deserving condition yet in his embrionary life). The wrath of God is upon all men without exception and the only way to gain innocence and be free from divine punishment is the personal imputation of Jesus’ holiness through faith. Suggesting any other reason (unconsciousness) for our legal absolution before God would imply that not only Christ saves us. In its very essence the idea of unaccountability because of unawareness is equivalent to say saved because of “no works” being the blood of Christ totally irrelevant.

    It is 23:30 in Spain now but I promise to come back and provide answers to the above mentioned challenges.

    Warm greetings in the Lord

    Pat

  37. Patrick,

    @You meant….

    Very good, I’ll try to answer your questions now.

    @According to Arminian theory all men without exception have the prevenient grace of God.

    Not necessarily, I believe God may withhold or withdraw grace for His own reasons.

    @This implies that there is no difference at all between the believing capability of a spiritually dead man and that of a spiritually alive man, which is fully unbiblical.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see that concept taught in scripture. In addition to Ben’s comments concerning John the Baptist, I would differentiate between the Spirit’s indwelling that coincides with regeneration, and other infillings of the Spirit and His power (e.g. Acts 13:9). Even men who were profane such as Balaam had the Spirit of God come upon them to fulfill a specific purpose (Numbers 24:2). I don’t think a very solid case can be made for equating John’s experience with regeneration prior to faith.

    @By logic, Arminians should protest for the violation of John’s freedom of choice.

    Not really, we believe free choices are generalities, not some all-encompassing rule with no exceptions.

    @We know that David recognized his guilty condition before God since he was in the womb

    David was born a sinner (having a sinful nature), but children don’t literally sin from the womb.

    @Suggesting any other reason (unconsciousness) for our legal absolution before God would imply that not only Christ saves us.

    No, only Christ saves sinners, since we’ve long passed any age prior to accountability. The rub is in what Christ saves us from: sin.

    @to say saved because of “no works” being the blood of Christ totally irrelevant.

    I would categorize infants et al who die early under the category of the creation in general that awaits redemption (Romans 8:19-22), so the ‘irrelevance’ charge can’t really stick.

  38. Patrick,

    I only have a minute, but wanted to quickly comment on this…

    I recognize the special case of John the Baptist but, after all, the Arminian principle defending the free will of all men to accept or reject God’s wishes should stand in order to have a fair God for everyone. The chance to say no was not given to John (the Spirit took him without asking) and this inexorably implies a clear symptom of talitarian, exclusivistic decree connected with God’s will towards a man, something that Arminianism has to deny. By logic, Arminians should protest for the violation of John’s freedom of choice.

    First, the Arminian position is not that God cannot ever override or violate the human will. I believe that God does indeed override the will at times (and note that for God to “override” the will implies that man has a will that is not normally controlled by God). However, that is not what is going on in the case of John the Baptist. Does an unborn child have a will? That would be quite a thing to discuss but I think we can probably agree that an unborn child is not capable of making significant free will choices (and certainly not moral ones). So to say that God violated the will of an unborn baby is a little silly IMO. John just will not serve as the counter example you seek.

    Also, there is no indication that John was powerless to later refuse the special anointing and mission God bestowed upon him as a child. We can just remember the rebellion of Samson (who was also filled with the Spirit in the womb, if I remember right) to establish that. Surely, God’s intention for Samson in filling him with the Spirit was not for him to sleep with prostitutes, marry heathen women, and test God in his arrogance to the point of the Spirit leaving him.

    Again, the point is well established. The Bible is clear that faith is the condition for being joined to Christ and receiving His Spirit and the life that resides only in Him. Faith is the condition for being justified which is an obvious pre-requisite for receiving the new spiritual life that resides in Christ alone. We can speculate on how God’s grace may work in children in general or in very special cases, but these are not what the Bible is addressing when it speaks of faith in relation to salvation.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  39. Hi Ben. Thanks for the message. I am working on the questions you made yesterday. They are very challenging for my reformed position. The discussion will be very enriching.

    I thank God that he continually overrides my natural fallen will inclined to sin and you should thank him too, not at times but every second of your life.

    God’s intention for you in giving you his Spirit was not for you to desire other women, worship your personal heathen idols, and test God everyday with your disobedience yet his Spirit has not left you dear brother.

    I shall address your final paragraph shortly.

    God bless
    Pat

  40. Calvin repeatedly expresses the idea that the sinner cannot share in the saving benefits of Christ’s redemptive work, unless he is in union with Him.

    Every spiritual blessing which believers receive flows to them out of Christ. Jesus calls attention to this organic relationship when He says: “I am the vine, you are the branches: he that abideth in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me you can do NOTHING,” (John 15:5).

    It is quite evident that it is not correct to say that union to Christ is the fruit of man’s believing acceptance of Christ, as if faith were not one of the blessings of the covenant which flow unto us from the fullness of Christ, but a condition which man must meet partly or wholly in his own strength, in order to enter into a living relationship with Jesus.

    Faith is a part of the treasures that are hidden in Christ. It enables us to appropriate on our part what is given unto us in Christ, and to enter ever-increasingly into conscious enjoyment of the blessed union with Christ, who is the source of ALL spiritual riches.

    The union between Christ and believers is effected by the Holy Spirit. Hence Jesus in speaking of the coming Holy Spirit could say to His disciples: “He (the Spirit) shall glorify me; for He (the Spirit) shall take of MINE, and shall declare it unto you,” (John 16:14).

    Since the believer is “a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17) or is “justified” (Acts 13:39) only in Christ, union with Him logically precedes both regeneration and justification by faith, while yet, chronologically, the moment when we are united with Christ is also the moment of our regeneration and justification.

    The Holy Spirit was in a special capacity a part of Jesus’ reward, and as such was poured out on the day of Pentecost for the formation of the spiritual body of Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit Christ now dwells in believers and unites them to Himself (1 Cor. 12:13).

    Conclusion:

    Calvinists believe far more in the necessity of union with Christ than Arminians do, since Arminians affirm, with their egocentric ordo salutis, that they can believe apart from the Savior (before being united to the only source of life).

    All the glory to the Lamb forever.

    God bless
    Patrick

  41. Patrick, do you realize that the standard Calvinistic position is that faith is what unites us to Christ, and therefore, faith logically precedes union with Christ? That is the position of Calvin (Institutes, 3.1.1), the Westminster Confession of Faith (26.1), and John Piper for example. This is so obvious biblically that Calvinists generally recognize it, not realizing it undercuts their system.

    Pointing out that believers are new creatures in Christ and justified in Christ does nothing to prove your point. Since union with Christ comes by faith, and union with Christ brings new creatioin and justification, these blessings can also be said to be by faith. You mention that the Spirit unites us to Christ. That also contrasdicts your position, since Scripture is clear that the Spirit is received through faith (e.g., Gal 3). And what’s more, someone does not belong to Jesus if he does not have the Spirit, and those who have jesus beolong to him. Yet the Spirit, who makes someone to belong to Jesus by his presence in their heart, is given to people by faith. He is given to believers. The doctrine of union with Christ completely militates against Calvinism and supports and vindicates Arminianism.

  42. Hi Arminian,

    I shall comment on your Gal 3 trench soon.

    With all respect I would like to ask you a very simple hypothetical question that requires a monosyllabic (yes / no) answer:

    If the Lamb asked you in heaven: Son, will you not worship me with all your heart for the initial decisive factor that let you get in My House today?

  43. Hi Patrick,

    You realize that it is not just Galatians 3 that reveals that the Spirit is given by faith, right? (Not that it should necessarily matter whether Scripture teaches it elsewhere. Galatians is quite clear.)

    As for your question, of course I would and do worship God for the initial decisive factor that lets me get into his kingdom. I am pretty certain I know where you want to go with that line of questioning, and have heard it before, and am tempted just to answer it now before you bother devloping it, but I suppose I’ll wait till you make the argument.

  44. Hi Arminian,

    You simply have to answer yes or no to that question related to Christ, the second person of the Trinity. We all know the idea behind so you can go ahead with your one word answer. Your answer will not need any further comments.

    Galatians 3 is a very interesting statement. I have no inconvenience in seeing myself doubting trying to find an explanation consistent with reformed theology. I am willing to change my mind if the text is actually teaching that faith precedes the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

    If you want to point out other references supporting the same supposed truth please proceed.

    I am not playing to show off my limited human wisdom. Believe me.

    Regards

  45. Patrick,

    I already answered your question. It was worded kind of oddly, so I put my answer in a statement to be clear:

    “of course I would and do worship God for the initial decisive factor that lets me get into his kingdom.”

    You should probably also realize that Arminians do not believe that faith precedes any work of the Holy Spirit whatsoever in our hearts. We bvelieve that God must work in our hearts to enable us to believe. He must draw us, convict us, work in us. But the giving of spiritual life (beginning with regeneration) that is bestowed by the giving of the Holy Spirit is by faith as is the giving of the Holy Spirit. Since you are open to changing your mind on the subject, then perhaps it would be better to read through the material on this site on the matter of regeneration and deadness in sin and interact with it than to discuss with me in the com box. There is a lot of material here and there has been a lot of discussion.

  46. Hi Arminian. Thanks for the message. It helps me understand your position better and understand the logic of your theology. I think I understand your differences between the work of the Spirit prior to faith and what you mean by actually receiving the Spirit by faith. Arminianism is misunderstood very often.

    I know I was not going to comment further on your answer. Nevertheless, it is clear that you skipped the heart of the question. My question was specific and had to do with your thankfulness to Christ for your initial faith. Not merely your worship to “God” because of his help when you believe.

    Will you thank Jesus for your initial faith? It is clear and simple.

    You can avoid the answer but it is evident that you took another clever path to avoid saying: No.

    Keep in touch

  47. Hi all,

    Reading Galatians 3, I believe that regeneration and receiving the Holy Spirit are not synonyms; regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit through which He gives life to the person taking him to faith; receiving the Spirit is when the Spirit comes to dwell in the heart of the new believer through faith (Acts 2:38, Romans 8:9, Eph. 1:13, etc.).

    Let’s not mix the two different aspects, although complementary, of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

    Regeneration is the cause of faith; receiving the Spirit is one of the marvellous results of faith. Galatians 3 speaks about the latter concept.

    In the Lord
    Patrick

  48. Patrick,

    That is too bad that you insinuate that I was being disingenuous in my answer and trying to avoid the question. That seems uncalled for. I explained to you that I found your question oddly worded, and so I simply tried to answer your question using the language you provided in a clearer way. Now that you have reworded the question in a clearer way, it is easy to answer in one word: Will I thank Jesus for your initial faith? Yes (in fact, I already do). But let’s remember that that is not how you worded your question before. It did not mention anything about thankfulness, but asked if I would worship Christ with all my heart for the initial decisive factor that let me get into his kingdom. Here is wht you initially asked: “If the Lamb asked you in heaven: Son, will you not worship me with all your heart for the initial decisive factor that let you get in My House today? So then why protest when I answer using the language you provided, and in fact accuse me of trying to avoid the question when I simply answer according to the wording you provided? Seems rather strange.

  49. Hi Arminian,

    I am sorry. I need to learn how to control myself when discussing these issues. Passion betrays me and it easy to get carried away by the debate. I sincerely apologize for my lack of consideration.

    I am happy that you will thank Jesus for your initial faith. We will all do so in that glorious day.

    What church do you belong to? Well, maybe this is not the best channel for this. My mail is patriledesma@hotmail.com

  50. The problem is that you have no exegetical basis for sharply separating the reception of the Spirit that brings the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer and regeneration. Indeed, it is the Spirit’s taking up residence in the heart of the believer that then leads to all the benefits the Spirit gives to believers, regeneration, sonship, sanctification, etc., etc. And that is also why all such benefits are referred to as being by faith, because reception of the Spirit is by faith, who then communicates all these belssings to the believer. That is one reason why Scripture repeatedly reveals that spritual life (the beginning communication of which is regeneration) is by faith. It is merely special pleading to try and make the distinction you are making, one born of the need to support your position rather than any particular evidence that regeneration precedes the indwelling of the Spirit. The Spirit gives spiritual life (which again, Scripture says comes by faith). He is the Spirit of life (Rom 8:2). Indeed, the Spirit is life (Rom 8:10), and It is his indwelling that communicates spiritual life to the believer. In fact, one of the passages you quoted for showing the reception of the Spirit by faith (Rom 8:9) is in a context of the Spirit communicating life to the believer. This is tied to his role of indwelling us and making us belong to God. Indeed, the category of being “in the Spirit” vs. “in the flesh” is tied up in the passage with spiritual life vs. spiritual death, having the indwelling Spirit vs. having only the flesh.

    There is so much more that could be said. The scriptural evidence for the Spirit’s giving of spiritual life through his indwelling presence is overwhelming, but it takes some unpacking and I’m out of time. It should be enough to point out Scripture’s clear testimnony that spiritual life comes by faith. Again, I would recommend you read through the material at this site on the subject.

    God bless!

  51. I posted my last response before seeing your most recent patrick. No problem. Thank you for your apology.

    God bless brother!

  52. Hey again!

    I think we have a common ground on the idea that at least the indwelling of the Spirit gives spiritual life to the believer. This indwelling Spirit is received by faith. Are we ok? If so, all the scriptural evidence for the Spirit’s giving spiritual life through his indwelling presence is a truth that we both accept. Let’s go from here. Therefore, what remains to be explained with Scripture (from my side) is the idea of the Spirit doing a regenerating work before the Spirit comes to live in us by faith. In other words, I should provide Biblical evidence to prove this distinction (Spirit operation before faith and Spirit reception after faith).

    Am I in the right path?

  53. First, my apologies on the mistake regarding Samson being filled with the Spirit in the womb (which no one seemed to notice). Just when I thought I had the entire Bible memorized, I’m back to square one. I was at the Library while posting and was going by memory (as there are many similarities between the two with regards to the circumstances surrounding their births and the divine requirements put on them).

    Anyway, it really only reinforces my previous point that John’s pre-birth infilling was unparalleled and not useful for making judgments on soteriological issues like the ordo salutis, especially when we consider all of the clear teaching elsewhere in Scripture concerning the conditional nature of receiving the Holy Spirit, being joined to Christ, and receiving the forgiveness of sins that makes new spiritual life possible. The Bible is clear that they are all conditioned on faith which makes the Calvinist ordo theologically absurd just as I claimed in the post.

    I will touch on some more of Patrick’s comments after reviewing the comments that have been made since I last posted.

  54. Patrick,

    you wrote:

    I thank God that he continually overrides my natural fallen will inclined to sin and you should thank him too, not at times but every second of your life.

    I do not believe that God necessarily overrides my will to not sin, though He certainly empowers me to resist temptation and overcome sin in accordance with the promise of 1 Cor. 10:13. However, if you are thoroughly Reformed, then you need to ask yourself how you can even say that God overrides your will when according to Calvinism God is always controlling your will, even when you sin. Do you also thank God for controlling your will to sin against Him?

    God’s intention for you in giving you his Spirit was not for you to desire other women, worship your personal heathen idols, and test God everyday with your disobedience yet his Spirit has not left you dear brother.

    I never said that His Spirit has left me, nor did I imply that His giving me His Spirit was for the purpose of sinning. God is grieved by my sin and desires my entire sanctification. He always provides the grace and means of escape when I am confronted with temptation. When I sin it is my fault because I did not make use of the gracious provision He has given me through His Spirit’s empowering. But your theology cannot say such things. If determinism is true then when you sin it is just as God decreed from all eternity and you were powerless to resist or escape. Such theology nullifies the precious promise of 1 Cor. 10:13 and leaves us wondering why God grieves Himself by controlling your will to sin in accordance with His irresistible eternal decree, while declaring that He desires your entire sanctification. It is a truly bizarre and contradictory theology IMO.

  55. Patrick,

    I am out of time for today. Hopefully we can continue this discussion some time soon. I hope that you will find some time to answer the questions I posed to you and read some more of the material on this site regarding the problems with the Calvinist ordo.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  56. curtis,

    Thanks for stopping by and for keeping an open mind in discussing these challenging theological subjects. May God bless you as you continue to seek His truth.

    Ben

  57. Patrick said: “I think we have a common ground on the idea that at least the indwelling of the Spirit gives spiritual life to the believer. This indwelling Spirit is received by faith. Are we ok? If so, all the scriptural evidence for the Spirit’s giving spiritual life through his indwelling presence is a truth that we both accept. Let’s go from here.”

    **** You have essentially conceded to my position here. If it is the indwelling Spirit who gives spiritual life to the believer through his indwelling presence, which is received by faith, then that places faith prior to spiritual life, including regeneration, which is the beginning of spiritual life, the origijal impartation of spiritual life. If I say that someone is a member of the Society of Evangelical Arminians (SEA) by requesting membership and affirming our statement of faith, then that entails that the beginning bestowal of membership comes by those means and the member of SEA enjoys membership on that basis. Regeneration is the Spirit’s act of giving spiritual life. But since this life is given by the indwelling Spirit, and the Spirit comes to indwell the believer by faith, the faith that brings the Spirit and his indwelling, life-giving presence, precedes regeneration. It is quite simple and straightforward and biblical.

  58. Dear Ben (and Arminian),

    Before going on with the open questions, I’d like to know if you suggest an alternative communication channel. I have different conversation threads with both of you and it is a bit difficult to keep track of the pending questions. I would not like to distort the core theme of this post. If you do not tell me the contrary, I shall continue here.

    Arminian. We fully agree on the biblical truth that the indwelling Spirit gives spiritual life and that this “supply” of the Spirit is received after faith. However, we still differ in the idea that this indwelling of the Spirit received by faith is the cause of regeneration (as understood in reformed theology) since reformed guys believe that regeneration is caused by the Spirit, but in other instance of His ministry that precedes faith logically speaking. This is exactly the whole point I will try to explain in coming messages. My point is that the Spirit operates in men in different stages of the ordo salutis, namely before, during and after faith.

    You say that regeneration is the Spirit’s act of giving spiritual life. This is a big truth. But the key question is: Does only the Spirit operate in the heart of the believer after faith? Does He not work on the heart of the unbeliever at all? If no, my point is dead. If yes, there is a logical door open to believe that the Spirit enables in some way the unbeliever to believe. If this is so, in what sense does the Spirit operate in this first instance but in providing some kind of “spiritual virtue”? It is true that the Spirit has influenced hearts of unbelievers without leading to saving results. However, this truth does not rule out the possibility of the Spirit influencing hearts with saving fruits.

    Don’t you think that the Spirit of God operated in our hearts before faith?

  59. Hi Ben:

    How does a sinner, “dead” in sin enjoy new spiritual life prior to being justified?

    This question reveals a clear lack of understanding regarding the meaning of justification. You well know that justification in itself is not an organic source of spiritual life. Justification is a legal term and refers to the legal verdict of God, who declares us righteous in His eyes only on the ground of Christ’s perfect innocence that is imputed to us by faith. Justice, holiness and consequently innocence resides in Christ only. Therefore the base of justification is Christ Himself and thus His inherent perfections imputed to us, and not faith. Faith is far from being the base of our justification. Nevertheless, faith is the only channel (means) to be justified. Without faith we cannot be justified because faith is the “tube” that connects us to the source of life (Christ = fountain of living water).

    Now, Scripture says that life comes from God. Spiritual life flows from the Trinity. The Father gives spiritual life, the Son gives spiritual life and the Spirit gives spiritual life. We have a living Triune God and then three persons capable of supplying spiritual life in common will. The fact that Christ provides life when we are united to Him by faith does not exclude the fact that Chirst transfers life via His Spirit prior to faith. Saying that spiritual life can only come from the specific act of personal faith in Jesus is equivalent to say that Jesus cannot provide Spiritual life in any other stage of history but in the very acts of faith. Adam, before sin, enjoyed spiritual life and this life did not come from his faith in the Savior as he had no need to be justified before the fall (God made him righteous at first). Adam’s spiritual life yet came from Jesus (source of life), BUT NOT THROUGH FAITH – at least the Bible does not say that Adam had to believe to come into existence!).

    The creation of the world is a clear example to support that dead matter (dust) can enjoy spiritual life without having exercised a conscious act of faith. Spiritual regeneration is precisely this: sovereign and free recreation from God (free because, like the wind, you cannot control Him, let alone control Him with your faith). Nobody conditioned God to create the world and nobody conditions Him to re-create his people.

    Jesus is the Sovereign fountain of living water and He gives water freely. Is not the term “water” connected with the Spirit in the Bible?

    The difference of Adam receiving spiritual life from the Spirit of Christ in the first creation, differs from us receiving spiritual life from the Spirit of Christ in regeneration in the aspect that Adam was given life in his inanimate state (neutral condition) but we have been given life in our spiritual dead state (sinful condition). This is why we say that regeneration is more glorious than the first creation, as the Spirit of Christ gave us life not from 0 but from -100000000, if you understand what I mean.

    You have a great need to understand the principles of creation to undestand recreation.

    Regards

  60. How does a sinner enjoy new spiritual life prior to being joined to the source of Life (Christ)?

    Spiritual life always flows from Christ but not only in the act of faith. Christ gave spiritual life to Adam and Eve BEFORE they could believe in anything. It is true that Christ gives life when we are united with Him by faith. In no sense this excludes that He can give, through His Spirit, life in other instances.

    Greetings

  61. How does a sinner enjoy the life that the indwelling Spirit gives prior to receiving the Holy Spirit by faith (as Gal. 3 explains)?

    Galatians 3 refers to the reception of the indwelling Spirit by faith, which is a plain glorious truth of the Bible without doubt. However, this action of the Spirit does not refer to his work of re-creation prior to faith. I will give biblical support for this differentiation in my conversation with Arminian.

    Best regards

  62. Hi Ben,

    “Here is another question for you to consider. How is it that Christ says in John 5 that the spiritually dead will “hear” unto life if what you say is true? Remember, according to you the “dead in sin” cannot “hear” anything since they are like a physical corpse. And take careful note of the fact that Jesus does not say that they will first be given life so they can then hear unto life. If that were the case it would not be the dead hearing unto life, but the spiritual living hearing unto life. Please explain how your theology is not at odds with the words of Christ in John 5.”

    This is a good point but the written inexistence of some truths related to another biblical truth is not a fair rule to despise biblical interpretations. This is a very poor, unjust and of course not recommended criterion in theology.

    You cannot say that the Trinity is not a biblical truth because the Bible does not give literal explanation. Can you? Inference is allowed in theology and you could not support many of your Arminian points without it. Therefore, you cannot use the absence of some express written truth within a text in order to attack a view. Indeed, we continually use unwritten truths within a text to explain the meaning of the text: “The Bible gives light to the Bible.” Let’s play fair here. You cannot force me not to use the inference principle and then say that my interpretation is not correct because I am not limited to the information contained in the text.

    If you want to stick to this unfair rule, let’s play with it. Please explain to me how a decomposed dead corpse without literal ears in the grave will be able to hear Jesus’ voice in the second coming as John 5:28 clearly indicates. What is the explanation? Does the text explicitly explain that the Holy Spirit will give life to the dead in that day so that they will be able to hear the voice of the Master? No it does not. But yet it is true because you DO NOW that a decomposed dead person cannot hear and therefore you infer that life has to be given to that person in order to hear. But you cannot defend this truth with the text of John 5:19-29 because this explanation is not given. Does this invalidate your interpretation? Not at all.

    In fact, far from contradicting Calvin’s teaching of regeneration prior to faith, this text confirms that spiritual life is required for the unbeliever (spiritually dead) to hear, understand and respond to the gospel with faith. Equivalently, it is absurd to say that dead corpses in the final judgment will not need the life of the Spirit of Christ in order to hear the voice of Jesus.

    The story of the resurrection of Lazarus illustrates what happens in the ordo salutis. Lazarus was clinically dead and it was impossible for him to hear the voice of Christ (I don’t think you accept the idea that Lazarus was simply sleeping). Yet the Messiah spoke to a dead man and he could heard and respond to the command. The text does not say that the Spirit of Christ resurrected him first so that he could be able to hear with his ears. However, it goes against all logic to conclude that, for this lack of information, we must interpret that a clinically dead man is able to hear with his ears. We know that Lazarus had to receive life first so that his brain could get the message after. Even though the text does not reveal this obvious reason that enabled Lazarus to hear and respond, none of us deny the fact that a corpse needs life prior to any conscious response.

    Following you unfair rule, you should say: “And take careful note of the fact that Jesus does not say that Lazarus will first be given life so he can then hear unto life. If that were the case it would not be the dead hearing unto life, but the living hearing unto life.”

    Although neither Jesus nor the text say that Lazarus was given life first prior to hearing unto life, Lazarus was an actual dead hearing unto life. Did Lazarus remain alive 4 days in the grave? Of course not. The consistent explanation is that Lazarus was actually dead but Jesus, through His Spirit, enabled Lazarus in order to later hear, understand, and respond with obedience to his command (precisely what believers do with the Gospel!). Saying that Lazarus had some living capacity while he was dead is beyond logic.

    We must try to avoid unfair exegetical criteria to defend our positions. This should be a rule in this enriching blog.

    Regards

  63. Patrick,

    @Don’t you think that the Spirit of God operated in our hearts before faith?

    Yes…that’s what prevenient grace is.

    @But the key question is: Does only the Spirit operate in the heart of the believer after faith?

    By spiritually raising us with Christ, also called ‘regeneration.’ The scriptures make it quite clear that we’ve been risen with Christ through faith, not before.

    @We know that Lazarus had to receive life first so that his brain could get the message after.

    People’s spirits live on even after their bodies die, contrary to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine, so that statement doesn’t really follow.

    @Therefore, you cannot use the absence of some express written truth within a text in order to attack a view.

    He’s not using absence of something spoken, he’s appealing to the text itself: Christ clearly places those who live as doing so AFTER and contingent upon hearing Him, not before.

    “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25)

    By God’s grace, the dead can hear His voice and believe and be raised through faith.

  64. Patrick,

    You bring up the fact that the Spirit works in people’s hearts before faith. Yes, of course, that is Arminian theology. That fact taken by iteslef is logically compatible with the idea that the Spirit could regenerate prior to faith. But that is not what rules out the possibility of regeneration preceding faith. It is what the Bible actually indicates about regeneration, the giviing of spiritual life, the work of the Spirit in bringing the covenatal blessing of God, etc., that rules out regeneration preceding faith.

    For example, you say “We fully agree on the biblical truth that the indwelling Spirit gives spiritual life and that this “supply” of the Spirit is received after faith.” But again, this agreement with me refutes the position you have been arguing for. If the Bible teaches that spiritual life is received by faith, as you admit, then regeneration, which you also admit biblically is the Spirit’s impartation of spiritual life, then faith precedes regeneration. Moreover, you admit that the Bible teaches that it is the indwelling Spirit who gives spiritual life. But he indwells by faith, placing faith prior to his indwelling, and therefore prior to his impartation of life.

    Look at it this way: Regeneration is part of the giving of spiritual life. It is the beginning phase of the giving of spiritual life, the initial impartation of it. But it is nonetheless part of the giving of spiritual life. Since spiritual life is given by faith, then regeneration, which is part of that giving of spiritual life is also necessarily given by faith. Regeneration is by faith, and therefore, faith precedes regeneration.

  65. Dear all,

    Thanks for your messages. I am learning a lot from you. I am doing hard thinking these days and it is incredible how interesting these topics are. Sorry that my attitude is not best sometimes. I just get carried away. Thanks for your patience. I will be away over the weekend but I shall be writing back soon. I just wanted to leave a thought for the Arminian perspective:

    Seen from the Arminian position: How can you affirm that unregenerate men (in the flesh) cannot please God (Rom. 8:8), and also affirm that unregenerate men can become regenerated by believing in God–thereby pleasing Him (Heb. 11:6)?

    Regards

  66. Hi J.C.

    Regarding your answer to my comment:

    Partrick’s comment: “We know that Lazarus had to receive life first so that his brain could get the message after.”

    J.C answers:

    People’s spirits live on even after their bodies die, contrary to the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrine, so that statement doesn’t really follow.

    I (Patrick) say:

    I am very surprised for this answer. I do not see common sense at all here with all my respect.

    Best regards

  67. Patrick,

    People who are physically dead aren’t annihilated completely in Christian theology. So there’s no sense in saying Lazarus had to be physically raised from the dead before his hearing Christ, any more than those spiritually dead need to be raised so that they can hear Him. The solution is as Christ said in John 5:25: it was not “those just raised will hear,” but “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God.”

  68. Dear Arminian,

    Thanks for confirming that the Spirit can work in hearts before faith. As you say, this is by itself, at least, a logical door open to the idea that the Spirit could regenerate prior to faith. Although I believe this idea, I am not “affirming” it now as I wish to follow your thinking.

    Do you interpret this possible action of the Spirit in the unbeliever as a special “operation” of God’s prevenient grace? If so, what does “attract” this operation to some or all men?

    I fully understand your point when you say that the Bible has a lot of evidence showing that the Spirit is received by faith. I do not deny this and I thank you for refreshing this emphasis. I have to recongize that I was not so aware of this important truth as I am now.

    But my “thesis” (and others’ too) is that although it is crystal clear that the indwelling Spirit is received in a “fuller” sense by faith, this does not rule out the possibility of receiving the Spirit in a somewhat “embrionary” sense in regeneration (reformed theology would support this view). In other words, I am tempted to think that faith is the channel to receive the fullness of the Spirit but regeneration is an initial “enabling touch of the Spirit” that does not come from faith, but leads to it. I want to stress a parallelism between the creation of Adam and Eve and the creation of a new creature (the Christian). Here we can think of regeneration (re-creation) as the Spirit giving “a little bit” of life to an unconscious receiver. With this in mind, the fact that the fullness of the Spirit is received by faith shall not rule out completely the idea of the Spirit carrying out an embryonary, creative work in the unbeliever placing in him the seeds of life.

    You mentioned in the last paragraph of your post that regeneration is part of the giving of spiritual life. This makes a lot of sense to me. You also say “It is the beginning phase of the giving of spiritual life, the initial impartation of it.” Do you believe this Arminian? If yes, you cannot place regeneration after receiving the indwelling Spirit by faith because, if you do this, you are saying that the initial impartation of life (though only a bit) takes place before faith (before the fullness).

    You place regeneration after justification. It would not make much sense to say that a bit of the Spirit (regeneration) operates after the fullness of the Spirit has been received.

    Sincere regards brother

  69. Hi J.C:

    @ “there’s no sense in saying Lazarus had to be physically raised from the dead before his hearing Christ.”

    Many people (including Christians) and I would say that makes a lot of sense to say that Lazarus needed to be alive to hear a human voice.

    I am not denying the basic doctrine that teaches that our souls exist forever but I think using this idea to support the hearing of Lazarus is extremely risky.

    You are introducing mediumship concepts here. I think communicating with dead people is not very common in the Bible.

    Regards

  70. Patrick,

    You are really getting yourself into completely capitulating to my argument. Your attempt to get out of it really makes no sense whatsoever. Let me demonstrate this:

    Patrick said: You mentioned in the last paragraph of your post that regeneration is part of the giving of spiritual life. This makes a lot of sense to me. You also say “It is the beginning phase of the giving of spiritual life, the initial impartation of it.” Do you believe this Arminian?”

    **** Ok, here you are completely agreeing wit hthe premises of my position. Now the next thing you say is completely baffling. It is like you agree with me that 1+1= 2, and then say that this thjerefore shows that 1+1 does not = 2.

    You said: “If yes, you cannot place regeneration after receiving the indwelling Spirit by faith because, if you do this, you are saying that the initial impartation of life (though only a bit) takes place before faith (before the fullness). ”

    **** This does not only not follow, it is completely nonsensical. Please follow the logic: you agree that the indwelling Spirit gives life to the believer by faith, and in fact comes to dwell in the believer by faith. That places faith prior to the indwelling of the Spirtit and prior to the initial impartation of life that the Spirit gives upon indwelling the believer. Therefore, faith precedes regenration. It is honsetly hard to fathom how you drew the conclusion you did concerning this point. You basically said, “yes, the Holy Spirit imparts life (= regeneration) to the believer by faith, and that shows that the Holy Spirit does not impart life to the believers by faith, but imparts life before faith.” You conclusion totally contradicts the premise you concede.

    As I tried to put it simply before, since spiritual life is given by faith, then regeneration, which is part of that giving of spiritual life (specifically its beginning) is also necessarily given by faith. Regeneration is by faith, and therefore, faith precedes regeneration.

  71. @I think communicating with dead people is not very common in the Bible.

    Funny, he seemed to have little trouble speaking to Moses directly (Matthew 17:3, Mark 9:4, Luke 9:30).

    @I would say that makes a lot of sense to say that Lazarus needed to be alive to hear a human voice.

    You don’t think the Word that spoke the world into existence carries a bit further than your average baritone? Seriously Patrick, your whole argument here consists of rather simplistic appeal to your own inability to understand how Christ can make His voice heard to the dead; which considering that He’s God incarnate, is not a tall order. Read what He said: “the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God.

  72. Hi J.C.

    This is getting really funny here. First, you gave 3 references to the same passage. I said that speaking to dead people is not very common in the Bible. You pointed out 1 example. Plus, saying that the transfigured appearance of Moses and Elijah is exactly equivalent to the case of Lazarus is to be blind to the characteristics of both scenes.

    Regarding the baritone, you reveal your ignorance about the reformed interpretation of this scene. Precisely, this story is an illustration of how the Word of God (Jesus’ words) have the power to give life to the dead enabling them to hear. This is why we preach the gospel, because the gospel (the Word of God) has power to wake up the spiritually dead enabling them to hear, understand, repent… and believe.

    Regards

  73. Arminian,

    Did you say this before or you did not?

    “Look at it this way: Regeneration is part of the giving of spiritual life. It is the beginning phase of the giving of spiritual life, the initial impartation of it. But it is nonetheless part of the giving of spiritual life. Since spiritual life is given by faith, then regeneration, which is part of that giving of spiritual life is also necessarily given by faith.”

  74. Hi all:

    How can you affirm that unregenerate men (still in the flesh) cannot please God (Rom. 8:8), and also affirm that unregenerate men can become regenerated by believing in God–thereby pleasing Him (Heb. 11:6)?

    Thanks for your explanation
    Regards

  75. Patrick asked: “Did you say this before or you did not?

    “Look at it this way: Regeneration is part of the giving of spiritual life. It is the beginning phase of the giving of spiritual life, the initial impartation of it. But it is nonetheless part of the giving of spiritual life. Since spiritual life is given by faith, then regeneration, which is part of that giving of spiritual life is also necessarily given by faith.” ”

    **** Yes, indeed. And those very words disprove your position utterly as you agree with its premises. That’s why it was so baffling when you in effect said: “I agree that sprirtual life is given by faith and regeneration is part of the giving of spiritual life. Therefore, regeneration precedes faith.” Do you see the complete contradiction between the premises you accept and the conclusion you drew? It’s almost as if you said, “I agree that 1+1 = 2, and therfore, 1+1 does not = 2.”

  76. @you gave 3 references to the same passage

    No, I gave 3 passages referring to the same event. They’re clearly in different books.

    @Regarding the baritone, you reveal your ignorance about the reformed interpretation of this scene.

    (?) What are you talking about? That was to illustrate Christ’s power, not describe your position.

    @Plus, saying that the transfigured appearance of Moses and Elijah is exactly equivalent to the case of Lazarus

    There’s no indication in scripture that Moses has been physically resurrected as of yet, and Elijah never died.

    @this story is an illustration of how the Word of God (Jesus’ words) have the power to give life to the dead enabling them to hear.

    You’re still denying what Christ said: The dead themselves hear His voice, and those who hear shall live.

  77. Hi Arminian, you confirmed that:

    “Regeneration is part of the giving of spiritual life. It is the beginning phase of the giving of spiritual life, the initial impartation of it.”

    You recognize that regeneration is the initial impartation of spiritual life. However, in the Arminian ordo salutis of this post regeneration is AFTER justification (this is, after faith). If the first impartation of spiritual life is after justification, then you are saying that you were able to believe without having received the first impartation of life which, in your own words, took place in regeneration.

    Can you clarify on this?

    Thanks

  78. Hi Arminian,

    I agree with our common premise that faith is required to receive the indwelling Spirit. But my whole point is that spiritual life is not always received through faith. The two “receptions” are not mutually exclusive. It is not a contradiction to accept that in some instance the Spirit fills us through faith but that in other instance (re-creation = new birth) the Spirit provides seeds of life to the unconscious, spiritually dead unbeliever. I am comparing the free giving of life of God into creation with the free giving of life of re-creation, which does not exclude the idea that the Spirit fills us more when we believe. I repeat, although you don’t share this view, do you get objectively my logic? The Spirit operates in our hearts through faith and without faith. You said before that you believe in the operation of the Spirit before believing so you must be able to understand my point.

    Thanks

  79. Hi JC,

    Now I think I realized what you meant in John 5:25. Correct me if I am wrong. You mean that the condition to live is to hear. Then you indicate that I am denying this when I say “the condition to hear is to live.”

    Is this right?

  80. Patrick, I stated this some posts back.

  81. Patrick said: “If the first impartation of spiritual life is after justification, then you are saying that you were able to believe without having received the first impartation of life which, in your own words, took place in regeneration.”

    **** Yes of course! Patrick, I continue to be baffled by your comments. The premises you have assented to demand just this (i.e., we were able to believe without having received the first impartation of spiritual life) because they show that the giiving of spiritual life is by faith. Therefore, the impartation of spiritual life (= regeneration), which is undeinably part of the giving of spiriutal life, is by faith. That males faith prior to regeneration. Your comments here are baffling because the whole disagreement is over whether faith precedes the impartation of spiritual life (which again is regeneration). But you then act like the conclusion that faith precedes the impartation of spiritual life mist be wrong because you assume the im,partation of spiritual life must precede faith. That is begging the question in the most extreme manner.

    The biblical truths you have assented to demand the conclusion that faith precedes regeneration. But you seem to deny it simply because you believe that regeneration precedes faith. I am saying, simply yield to the biblical evidence that you have coneded and concede also that faith precedes regeneration.

  82. Patrick said: “I agree with our common premise that faith is required to receive the indwelling Spirit. But my whole point is that spiritual life is not always received through faith. The two “receptions” are not mutually exclusive. It is not a contradiction to accept that in some instance the Spirit fills us through faith but that in other instance (re-creation = new birth) the Spirit provides seeds of life to the unconscious, spiritually dead unbeliever. I am comparing the free giving of life of God into creation with the free giving of life of re-creation, which does not exclude the idea that the Spirit fills us more when we believe. I repeat, although you don’t share this view, do you get objectively my logic? The Spirit operates in our hearts through faith and without faith. You said before that you believe in the operation of the Spirit before believing so you must be able to understand my point.”

    Patrick, I basically answered this in this post: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/the-arminian-and-calvinist-ordo-salutis-a-brief-comparative-study/#comment-5189.

    What you’re doing is basically special pleading, speculating a possible way you could still hold your position that has no evidence for it and goes against what the text of Scripture actually says about faith and regeneration etc.

  83. Patrick,

    I don’t see how your comments about Lazarus are relevant. It seems as though you are saying that Lazarus had to be given life so that he could hear for the purpose of obeying Christ’s command to come alive. Surely you see the problem there.

    Also, as was mentioned before, the Lazarus narrative is dealing with a physically dead man being given new (temporal) physical life. It is not dealing with a spiritually dead person being given new spiritual life. Spiritual death has to do with separation from God and the only remedy for spiritual death is to be joined again to the source of life- Christ, and we are joined to Christ through faith as has already been well established.

    There is nothing in the text of the Lazarus narrative to suggest that Jesus was using it to illustrate an exact parallel to giving spiritual life to spiritually dead people. Rather, based on His power and authority to physically raise the dead to life, which is plainly observable, one can trust in His power to raise spiritually dead people to life, which is not plainly visible (and really His main point was so that those who saw this miracle would believe on Him based on such a demonstration of power and authority, even over death itself). This is the same thing we see in John 5. Jesus first claims that He has the power and the authority to give life to the spiritually dead who hear Him through faith (compare with receiving the Holy Spirit by the “hearing of faith” in Gal. 3). It is a giving of life to spiritually dead that is happening “now”. The physical resurrection will not happen until much later.

    Now this is very important. Jesus goes on to say that His hearers should not “marvel” at His claim to be able to give life to the spiritually dead. And why is this? Because God has given Him the authority to raise all of mankind out of the grave at the last day. Since Christ has the power and authority to raise all of creation to life, He can surely grant spiritual life to the spiritually dead “now”. But notice the nature of the resurrection He describes. It is not a raising to life of believers only. Rather, it is the raising of both the good and the bad, believers and unbelievers. The unbelievers will be raised to eternal death, not life.

    So the reference to physical resurrection is not to illustrate an exact parallel to how spiritual life takes place. Rather, it is to demonstrate that Christ has the power and authority “now” to give spiritual life to the spiritually dead.

    This happens when the spiritually “dead” hear unto life. The order is clear. The dead hear and by hearing they attain life. It is not a matter of something being left out (after all, Christ does not discuss the enabling power of the Spirit that Arminians hold must precede the “hearing”). It is a matter of what you believe flatly contradicting Christ’s point. He is talking about raising spiritually dead people to life. How does this happen? Not through being given life so that they can hear, but by hearing unto life. We can assume prevenient grace, which is not mentioned, is a factor without doing any violence to the text since prevenient grace is not the granting of spiritual life. But if we assume that regeneration takes place first, without being actually mentioned, it turns the text on its head and is exactly the opposite of what Christ is saying. See the problem?

    Not also that in John 6 Jesus says that unless the Jews eat His flesh and drink His blood, they have “no life” in them (sorry, I don’t have a Bible handy so I can’t give an exact reference). It is through eating and drinking of Christ by faith that one receives His life. Unless one does that, he or she has “no” spiritual life in them. So again it is clear that faith precedes regeneration.

    Unfortunately, I will not be able to comment any further until at least Monday.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  84. Dear all,

    Sorry for taking so long to return. I hope you are well. I will try to continue our old discussions. I’d like to start by tackling some statements of the post:

    Notes on Arminian ordo:

    “Faith joins us to Christ (Eph. 1:13) and all of the spiritual blessings that reside in Christ become the believer’s upon union with Him (Eph. 1:3-12).”

    Patrick: The mystical union between Christ and his people is not a simple concept that can be exclusively reduced to exist only because of a subjective, personal and conscious act of faith. I think you are treating the doctrine of union with Christ anthropologically, conceiving it as established by conscious faith only and hence you take this union at a later point in your ordo. Doing this you are losing sight of the eternal basis of such union and of its objective realization in the incarnation of Christ. You only focus on the subjective realization of it in the person’s life (considering solely the personal conscious entrance into this union) ignoring completely the following:

    (1) The union established in the eternal decree of God. From the moment that the Father gave us to the Son, we were really His own, and a relation was established between Him and us, not weak, but so deep that all subsequent relations with Christ spring from this fundamental root-relation alone. In virtue of this union, the Lord could say: “Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me” (Heb. 2:13).

    (2) The union in the incarnation. Entering into our nature, Christ made the preexisting relation actual; when the bond of union passed from the divine decree, into actual existence. Christ in the flesh carries all believers in the loins of his grace, as Adam carried all the children of men in the loins of his flesh. Hence, Scripture teaches that when Jesus died and arose his people died and arose with Him (and in Him).

    (3) The third stage of the union begins when we ourselves appear in our spiritual regeneration; when the Holy Spirit begins to work in our hearts. Until then the mystical union was hidden in the decree and in Christ; but in and by spiritual regeneration the person appears with whom Jesus will establish this union. In the instant of completed regeneration the union becomes an accomplished fact (we are new creatures born of God) yet the person may be unconscious of it.

    Then, the fourth stage (the one you focus on) is the conscious exercise of faith. Here the union with Christ is established subjectively. Our believing capability is a spiritual blessing that resides in Christ and He gives it to us in regeneration (through His Spirit) so that we can exercise it.

    “Logically it is important to place justification prior to regeneration and all that follows, since one must first receive forgiveness and have sin removed prior to the reception of new life and the attaining of holiness (sanctification).”

    Patrick: The forgiveness of God for the believer is a result of a legal declaration stating that the believer is innocent because the innocence of Christ has been imputed to him. This imputation, declaration and forgiveness does not affect the nature of the person. You are considered innocent thanks to the innocence of another. That is it. Justification is simply a judicial decision that takes place once in time in the tribunal of God and therefore has no impact on the actual holiness of the person. In the act of justification there is no special sin removal within the believer. The ground of his forgiveness is outside (namely in Christ).

    “One cannot have life while still under the condemnation of sin and the wrath of God for “the wages of sin is death”.”

    Patrick: The wrath of God (the wage of sin = death) was discharged upon Christ on the cross. When the person exercises faith, he or she is declared innocent based on the innocence of Christ, avoiding thus God’s wrath. This declaration only has legal implications and has nothing to do with the impartation of spiritual life, which can happen before justification without theological conflict.

    “And one cannot be made holy apart from justification. So the moment we are joined to Christ we are cleansed by His blood and new life and holiness immediately result from that cleansing.”

    Patrick: Justification is independent from an actual punctual personal sanctification event. Justification is a divine decision based on the holiness of Jesus, not ours. When we are joined to Christ by faith his cleanliness is considered by God as ours. There is no special work of cleansing in justification within the sinner. The removal of filth starts in regeneration (sanctification is a process), which may take place at the same time of justification chronologically speaking.

    Notes on Calvinist ordo:

    “Calvinists will often say that faith is monergistic, but it is hard to see how faith could be monergistic unless God does the believing for the individual. But most Calvinists deny that God believes for the person while maintaining that faith is an unconditional monergistic work of God along with every other aspect of salvation.”

    Patrick: God does not believe in our behalf. Every believer exercises his own faith without external pressure in the sense that feels natural. God placed the believing capability in regeneration and a God-seeking inclination in the heart. God inclines our hearts towards Him in a natural way that is not felt as obligation. I think the personal act of faith is fully exercised by the person in the same way we make efforts to be sanctified in our daily lives. Many Calvinists are ok not being able to explain how the responsibility of men works together with the absolute sovereignty of God. We can see this logical conflict in the story of Job when God decided to take everything away from him yet all happened because of free actions of sinners (who robbed and killed induced by Satan). I won’t deny God sovereignty in every detail of Job’s calamities and I won’t deny the free responsible actions of the men. Many Calvinists accept this constant paradox with humility.

    “The difficulty with the Calvinist ordo has to do with the priority of regeneration (the new birth). Logically, the new birth (regeneration- the beginning of spiritual life) precedes justification in the Calvinist ordo just as it precedes faith (and the Bible is clear that justification is by faith). So logically speaking we have people receiving new life prior to justification. Since justification includes forgiveness and the removal of God’s wrath, the Calvinist ordo results in the receiving of life logically prior to being forgiven and prior to the wrath of God being removed.”

    Patrick: Justification is a legal issue happening outside the person. You keep on connecting a judicial decision with spiritual life giving as if they were intimately related when they are not. Spiritual life is strictly connected to regeneration (at least in reformed theology).

    “A further difficulty comes from trying to place adoption in the Calvinist ordo. Do we place it at the new birth (regeneration)? If we place it at the new birth then we also have the person becoming a child of God (which I think must be part of regeneration) logically prior to being forgiven and justified.”

    Patrick: Jesus said to some: You do not believe because you are not my sheep (you do not believe because you are not my children). Therefore, objectively, a person can be considered a child of God prior to exercising faith (only a predestined child of God has the potential to believe). Adoption takes place before the foundation of the world in a sense, yet it is subjectively materialized when we believe. You can place subjective personal adoption after justification and the start of mystical adoption at the beginning of the chain (when God predestined his children).

    “And still another difficulty comes from trying to place sanctification in the ordo. I think most Calvinists would agree with where I have placed it here. Yet I have heard (and read) many Calvinists claim that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification. If that is the case then the Calvinist also needs to explain how one can be sanctified (made holy) prior to being justified.”

    Patrick: The judicial declaration of God (justification) is not based on personal holiness but in the holiness of Christ which is an external factor to the sinner. In fact it is logical that we are sanctified “a bit” before justification as faith is a fruit of sanctification (that started in the new birth).

    “It is also hard to place union with Christ in the Calvinist ordo. When do we become united with Christ? Do we become united to Christ in regeneration logically prior to a faith response? This would lead to the conclusion that one can be in union with Christ logically prior to believing in Christ. If union with Christ is placed after regeneration and faith in the ordo we run into the difficulty of sinners receiving new spiritual life logically prior to being joined to the source of life – Christ.”

    Patrick: We become united with Christ in the eternal counsel of God, before the foundation of the world. I think your analysis of “union with Christ” is rather limited as it only deals with its subjective (conscious) stage, which is a key phase yet not the only instance in which we are united to the Lord.

    Greetings and sorry again for my delay
    Patrick
    Patrick

  85. I think Patrick’s latest reply here illustates well the difference between the Calvinist approach and the Arminian approach to theology. His attempt to escape the points made by Ben seems to create all sorts of distinctions and ideas absent from the biblical text in order to uphold the Calvinist system whereas the Arminian approach flows out of the text of Scripture, a more exegetical approach.

    Ben points out that Scripture depicts union with Christ being by faith. Calvinists generally agree. But when Ben points out that Scripture also identifies union with Christ as the basis for every spiritual blessing, Patrick suggests a complicated 4 stage sense of union with Christ that has no real exegetical basis in the Bible. On the other hand, the Arminian approach simply takes what the Bible says about union with Christ–it is by faith and the source of every spiritual blessing–and lets that stand as the theology we should embrace, rather than secret counsels of God with respect to union with Christ Scripture says nothing about, or rather than suggesting that we are united to Christ when we aren’t really united to Christ only to be really united to Christ later because we are united to him in one sense but not another at one point and then later in another sense and still later in another sense till we attain to four stages, most of which Scripture says nothing about. It seems like Arminians can often simply take Scripture in it plain, natural sense whereas Calvinists often have to do exegetical gymnastics to uphold their theology.

  86. Hi Ben,

    Regarding your comment:

    “It seems as though you are saying that Lazarus had to be given life so that he could hear for the purpose of obeying Christ’s command to come alive. Surely you see the problem there.”

    In the Bible Christ does not command Lazarus “to come alive”. He just said: “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43)

    Can you please indicate where does the Lord say to Lazarus “come alive”?

    Thanks

  87. Hi Arminian,

    The doctrine of the mystical union between Christ and his people may be strange for you (surely because you have not studied the subject) but it is not an innovation in theology.

    I recommend you to learn about it (as for your own enrichment – although you shall not agree after) and you would see that there is serious study on the topic dating centuries (Calvin, Kuyper, Owen or Berkhof, among others). There are verses to support the stages mentioned. The global doctrine, of course, may not be accepted by many, but I think it should not be considered as trivial or frivolous.

    I believe Ben’s analysis is correct in the sense that he deals with the subjective, conscious union between Christ and his people. This union, through faith, is true and well supported by Scripture. He reaches logical conclusions from this narrow premise, which makes sense. My point is that, although it is true and extremely important, it is not the whole of it when it comes to studying the theme of Christ’s union with his church.

    I tried to explain how the limitation of his analysis (from a reformed point of view) does not allow for the idea of Christ being united to his people in regeneration (as the reformed argue) prior to conscious faith, from a logical perspective, which is understood as a difficulty to accept the Calvinist ordo, in general, according to Arminians.

    The fact that I explained the reformed view of the mystical union (which is very relevant in the ordo salutis debate) should not be a reason to react with words of general discredit against Calvinists as you did.

    I presented a well-known position on the subject as to show the differences of understanding on the matter of “union with Christ” between Calvinist and Arminian schools, that is all.

    I also noticed that both systems have important differences regarding the meaning of justification (it would be interesting to discuss the concept of imputed rigtheousness for instance).

    Regards

  88. Patrick,

    The parallel you tried to draw with Lazarus was about regeneration and regeneration is about coming alive spiritually (among other things). I realize that Jesus didn’t say “come alive”, but that only further shows why this narrative should not be used to make your point about the priority of regeneration in the ordo salutis.

    As for your other comments, I have not yet reviewed them though I assume Arminian answered them well enough. The Bible is so clear that regeneration is by faith that one really needs to complicate things to an absurd extent to get around it, which appears to be what you have now resorted to doing. Why not just accept the Biblical testimony and adjust your theology accordingly? What do you have to lose? I really do not have time to interact further at this point. Maybe I can comment more specifically at a later date.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  89. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the message. There is just one point that I would like to discuss and this is your understanding of justification (if you don’t mind):

    1) Do you believe in the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Jesus on the believer through faith?

    2) Do you believe that God’s legal declaration in our favor (pardon = judicial absolution) is based only on the imputation of Christ’s active obedience on us?

    3) How can God declare righteous (justify) a person who does not have spiritual life? If he cannot do it, life-giving (regeneration) is logically required before justification (but you say that regeneration comes after justification logically).

    Thanks

  90. Patrick,

    I don’t have a lot of time to get into specifics, so my answers will be very general.

    1) Yes, I believe in imputed righteousness.

    2) No. It is also based on the forgiveness of sins through faith in His blood. We cannot be declared righteous while God is still counting our sins against us.

    3) God declares us righteous based on the blood of Christ cleansing us from all unrighteousness which happens when we are joined to Christ through faith. When we are joined to Christ through faith we are justified by His blood and new spiritual life begins (since life can only begin when sin is removed, since the “wages of sin is death” and we are “dead in sins trespasses and sins” until we are cleansed/forgiven of sin. The question you need to ask yourself (the question that was asked in the post and you have not yet grappled with) is how God can grant spiritual life to someone logically prior to forgiving that person of the sins that cause spiritual death? Do you see the problem? Also, if you say that God can grant spiritual life prior to forgiveness then you drastically diminish the need of atonement and minimize the dire consequences and effects of sin. Still further, you would then be saying that one can become a child of God logically prior to being forgiven of the sins that separate us from a Holy God.

    You’re welcome.

  91. Dear Ben,

    Thanks for your message. It is very interesting to see the tremendous difference between your view and the classical reformed doctrine of imputed righteousness. Please do not take this as an offense as I just want to expose both positions so we can understand each other at least (although we shall not agree afterwards).

    As understood by Calvinists, God’s forgiveness is only based on one ground: the active perfect obedience of Jesus during his life on earth imputed to his children by faith. Condemnation (spiritual death = divine wrath = hell) is the payment for breaking the law of God. The perfect fulfillment of God’s law by Christ is the only reason why God can forgive. The demands of the law must be satisfied for God to pardon. Only Jesus did that. Then, God imputes Christ’s fulfillment of the law to us, so that we are considered innocent (as having obeyed the law perfectly) not in the basis of our own obedience (we all broke the law), but in that of Jesus, which counted as ours through faith. Historically, this imputation of innocence has been considered a legal or forensic act that does not affect the sinful nature of the creature.

    You say that this judicial imputation of righteousness is not the only aspect of forgiveness, adding that “we cannot be declared righteous while God is still counting our sins against us.” Surely you will understand that in the instant we place our faith in Jesus (this is, the instant in which righteousness is imputed to us) God does not count our sins against us since the imputed righteousness is simultaneously accompanied with imputed guilt in the other direction. In other words, in the moment of our faith our sins are imputed to the Son of God and this is why He died (the wage of sin is death). The real effects of our guilt were clearly seen in the death of Christ (technically, Jesus as human could never die as He never sinned, so there was no payment of death for Him according to his perfect life). But again, this second imputation of guilt is also of legal nature. Jesus was treated or counted as a sinner yet he was not a sinner (his holy inner nature was unchanged). Through bidirectional imputation, we were considered perfectly holy and Chirst was considered utterly sinful, even though none of the parts was treated for what they actually were, did or deserved. The consequences of this legal situation are forgiveness for us and condemnation for Him.

    What do you really mean by “God declares us righteous based on the blood of Christ cleansing us from all unrighteousness?” We agree that justification is through faith but I believe that your concept of “cleansing” may be related to some aspect of our inner nature? Do you think that there is actual “physical” sanctification in the creature in the instant of faith? Your statement “since life can only begin when sin is removed” makes me think that you are considering justification not only in forensic terms but also in actual physical levels. It is obvious that Christians continue to sin although they have been justified. Sin is not removed until we die, yet we enjoy spiritual life before physical death. I do not see a complete removal of sin in the creature as requirement to enjoy spiritual life. Justification cannot be understood outside the judicial sphere.

    Regarding your comments:

    “How God can grant spiritual life to someone logically prior to forgiving that person of the sins that cause spiritual death? Do you see the problem?”

    Sins are forgiven in the ground of a legal imputation of righteousness in favor of the sinner and a legal imputation of guilt upon Christ (which can be understood as a forensic removal of our guilt). Therefore, the sins that cause death in the creature were imputed to Jesus and that is why He died. He received the wage of sin (the wrath of God) in our behalf, thus saving us.

    When you question the possibility of God granting spiritual life to someone logically prior to forgiving that person of the sins that cause spiritual death you are missing two major points:

    1. You ignore that the sins that cause spiritual death in the creature do not cause spiritual death anymore for the elect, because Christ already experienced the spiritual death of his people in the cross. Atonement of sins is an actual historical fact and Jesus actually suffered spiritual life on behalf of his people. Condemnation was removed on the cross yet this removal is personally experienced through faith. Thus, there is no conflict between God giving spiritual life to persons whose sins have already been washed on the cross. In fact, the atonement of sins is the basis for the receipt of spiritual life in regeneration (sin was “removed” in the cross) so spiritual life can come for the redeemed by the work of the Spirit. Actual “sin washing” does not happen in the moment of faith but in the moment of atonement. However, I can perfectly understand your position because there is a major difference between Calvinist and Arminian theology. We believe in actual effective atonement of sins in the cross but you believe in a potential atonement that becomes effective when the condition of faith is exercised (faith makes atonement effective, in your view). Logically, following your thinking, the atonement actually accomplished nothing in itself (in this sense the Arminian view of the atonement is totally limited to zero in terms of its redeeming effects in the instant of the death of Jesus, considering it apart from faith).

    2. There is no conflict between the impartation of spiritual life by the Holy Spirit into the believer prior to forgiveness because forgiveness works in the legal dimension (external to the sinner) while spiritual life reception (regeneration of the heart) works in the actual nature of the person. There is no incongruity in placing a spiritual new birth (affecting the inner being) before a legal declaration taking place in the tribunal of God. In fact, the spiritual life imparted prior to faith is required to give that particular fruit of the Spirit (faith). The big problem comes when trying to understand how God can declare righteous (justify) someone who is spiritually dead, as your ordo indicates. If new life comes after justification, as you say, God declares innocent a spiritual corpse (even when is united to Christ, which doubles the contradiction).

    “Also, if you say that God can grant spiritual life prior to forgiveness then you drastically diminish the need of atonement and minimize the dire consequences and effects of sin.”

    I do not see how the fact that God grants spiritual life prior to forgiveness can diminish the need of atonement. Atonement occurred once in history and removed the penalty of death (wrath of God) against the elect as Christ suffered that penalty personally thus saving his people of such punishment. The atonement was not an actual life-imparting act in itself (in the sense of the Spirit supplying spiritual life into the creature) but rather the ground of legal forgiveness applied personally in a future exercise of faith by the creature. The issue is that, according to your theology, the atonement of Christ is only potential (not actual) until faith is exercised. Then you identify the death of Christ as a life-giving event that becomes a reality in the moment of faith, thus taking the consequences of faith far beyond the merely legal implications. As for the minimization of the consequences and effects of sin, the atonement totally minimizes (rather destroys completely) the consequences of sin against the people of God as Jesus himself drank these consequences up to the last drop.

    “Still further, you would then be saying that one can become a child of God logically prior to being forgiven of the sins that separate us from a Holy God.”

    That is right. According to John 10:26 some Jews did not believe because they were not children of God. The cause of their unbelief was that they were not the Lord’s sheep. In other words, being a child of God is the logical cause of belief and not the other way around. Therefore, a child of God is still a child of God in a sense although he has not yet experienced the personal forgiveness of sins through faith (which will always happen sooner or later in the case of the elect).

    Regarding the logical difficulty suggested in my third question you did not provide a clear explanation. You say “when we are joined to Christ through faith we are justified by His blood and new spiritual life begins.” The issue you should face is: How can God declare righteous a person who has no spiritual life? Your statement clearly reveals that spiritual life follows justification logically in your view, which evidently implies that God makes a declaration of innocence and holiness (you agree this happens in the step justification) upon a dead creature (even united to Christ by faith). In your ordo salutis a spiritually dead creature is declared righteous by God even though the creature has not received spiritual life yet. According to you, life reception takes place logically after the declaration of righteousness has occurred.

    Can you explain this?

    Best regards and thanks for this interesting debate.

  92. Sorry, when I said: “Atonement of sins is an actual historical fact and Jesus actually suffered spiritual life on behalf of his people.” I meant “Jesus suffered spiritual death (not life) on behalf of his people.” I made a mistake here.

    Regards

  93. Patrick,

    I really do not have time to respond right now to all of the points of your detailed post. I was hesitant to answer your question since I knew it would branch out in other directions and only make the conversation harder to continue, not to mention distract from the main issues we were discussing.

    Do you know that the Bible speaks of justification and attaining righteousness unto life (check out Rom. 5 for example, esp. verses 16-21- the entire chapter is very instructive on the issue of what constitutes justification and what it is based on)? Do you know that Paul said we are sanctified “by faith”? (contrary to what you seem to suggest in your comments) The Bible really makes it clear that every aspect of salvation is “by faith”. Here is something I wrote in another post long ago:

    For instance, we become God’s children (adoption) through faith (Gal. 3:26). Peter tells us that we are receiving “salvation” as the outcome of our faith (1 Peter 1:8, 9). Christ dwells in our hearts “by faith” (Eph. 3:17, cf. 2 Cor. 13:5). We receive the Holy Spirit by faith (Gal. 3:2; 3:14). We are sanctified by faith (Acts 26:18), and it doesn’t take much reading from John’s gospel before we realize that eternal life is received by faith as well (e.g. John 19:31). That seems to pretty much cover all the bases as far as I am concerned.

    Just a few quick comments from what I had read. First, it is almost impossible to demonstrate from Scripture that the perfect active obedience of Christ is imputed to the believer, let alone that this is all that is meant when Scripture speaks of justification (I don’t really have a problem with the idea- it is actually the Classical Arminian position- but there is really no solid support for it in Scripture at all). To be justified primarily means to be made right with God or to be in a state of right standing with God. There is no question that this involves forgiveness based solely on the shed blood of Christ (Rom. 3:25; 4:5-8 ), and as I mentioned above, the Bible speaks of us being justified unto life and describes every aspect of salvation being by faith (as it should since Scripture plainly declares that we are “saved by faith”), so the intricacies of Reformed theology on the point does not concern me much (though I am in basic agreement with the Reformed view of justification).

    Also, it is a major mistake on your part to suggest that the Reformed position does not count forgiveness as a major factor in justification (especially since Peter seems to basically speak of the exact same concept as Paul through the essentially synonymous terms of forgiveness and repentance rather than justification and faith).

    More could be said, but I am out of time for now. I believe your comments on John 10 have already been addressed, if I remember right, but I will comment on them quickly . Basically, all that is being said in John 10 is that those Jews who are of God (i.e. are presently in right relationship with the Father) will naturally recognize the Son and His words since the Son is the perfect expression of the Father (cf. John 6:45; 7:16, 17; 8:19, 42, 43). Those Jews who “are not of God” and “cannot hear” Christ’s words (John 8:47) are those Jews who are not presently in right relationship with the Father and therefore not able to recognize His Son or His words as the words of God Himself (cf. John 5:37-47; 8:42, 43).

    The text has nothing to do with an eternal election. That needs to be read into the text by the Calvinist. Indeed, Jesus says that the sheep will not listen to a stranger but will run away (10:5). If your interpretation were correct we would have to say that whenever an “elect” person hears the gospel he or she will immediately embrace it and that an “elect” person will at no time listen instead to the voice of “a stranger”, even prior to coming to know the Lord at the point of irresistible regeneration (as the Calvinist sees it). Obviously, that is not the case at all.

    Still, the Scriptures are very clear that we are children of wrath and separated from God prior to justification Again, see Rom. 5 and Eph. 2:1-5, and notice that one is made “alive together” with Christ, i.e. through coming to be in union with Christ and His life through faith, Eph. 1:13), and no misguided appeal to John 10 will change that.

    Not sure if I will be able to interact with the rest anytime soon, but I would suggest again that you familiarize yourself with my other post on these topics that interest you (if you have the time) since so much of this has already been addressed many times.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  94. In your ordo salutis a spiritually dead creature is declared righteous by God even though the creature has not received spiritual life yet. According to you, life reception takes place logically after the declaration of righteousness has occurred.

    Can you explain this?

    I already did, and so have others. Maybe you should review some of the previous comments.

    God Bless.

  95. Patrick,

    Real quick, I made a few corrections in my above comments with regards to some of the references. Also, I just want to apologize if my comments seem short or dismissive. This discussion is important and you have been a pleasure to correspond with, but since my time is so limited it is hard for me to give your posts the attention they deserve and this is very frustrating to me. So let me try to wrap things up on my end.

    I think it has been clearly established that the “Spirit of life” and the “Spirit of adoption” is received by faith. The Scriptural evidence for this is overwhelming and as a result we must conclude that the spiritual life of the new birth is received by faith and does not cause faith as Calvinism teaches.

    Still further, we are joined to Christ by faith and one can only enjoy the life that resides in Him through union with Him. Since one comes to be in union with Christ through faith, faith must precede the beginning of new spiritual life (regeneration/the new birth).

    Third, we see in Scripture that justification and the forgiveness that justification is based on precedes and leads to new spiritual life (Rom. 3:21-25; 4:5-8; 5:9,16-21; 8:10; Col. 2:13-14, etc.). Since justification and forgiveness come through faith and repentance, the new life cannot logically precede faith.

    Temporally, all of the benefits of the atonement and all of the resultant spiritual blessings come to the believer at the moment of union with Christ through faith (Eph. 1:3, 4, 13; Rom. 5:1, 2; Col. 1:14, etc.), but logically one must be identified with Christ’s death (justified) before coming to be identified with His life (regeneration). When we come to be united with Christ (by faith) His death becomes our death and His life becomes our life, but logically speaking His death must become our death before His life can become our life, and Scripture presents it as such (Rom. 6:4-10; Col. 2:9-15; 3:1-4). This should answer the last question you asked.

    If there is something specific that you do not believe I have addressed, please let me know and I will do my best to get to it when I have the opportunity. I only ask you to be patient.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  96. Patrick,

    One more thing. You wrote,

    Surely you will understand that in the instant we place our faith in Jesus (this is, the instant in which righteousness is imputed to us) God does not count our sins against us since the imputed righteousness is simultaneously accompanied with imputed guilt in the other direction. In other words, in the moment of our faith our sins are imputed to the Son of God and this is why He died (the wage of sin is death).

    Notice that you plainly say here that it is only at the point of putting faith in Christ that one receives the benefits of justification so that our sin is no longer counted against us. This establishes my point.

    Also, I was in no way suggesting that Christians must live sin free to be cleansed. Rather, through our faith in Christ the cleansing of His blood is continually applied to the believer so that his sin is not counted against him. Yet, the believer’s continued faith and submission to God will naturally issue in a life that is characterized by holiness rather than sinfulness.

    But if we walk in the light [by faith], as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

    If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:29)

  97. Hopefully no one said this already but, since we know that Scripture is not up for private interpretation (2 Peter 19-20):

    1 John 2:29: “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of God”
    Or, in the Greek, “Practices” = Present tense (taking place now). “Is born”= Perfect tense (Past action with continuing results)

    1 John 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
    With the Greek: “loves”= Present tense (Taking place now). “Is born”= Perfect tense (Past action with continuing results).

    1 John 5:1: The authority: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” or as ESV puts it: “has been born of God.”
    The Greek: “believes” = Present tense & “Is born”= Perfect tense = Past action.

    John 1:13: “Who were born…” the “were born” = 2 Aortist in the Passive. Meaning that the person was a passive agent. Not the initiator.

    Romans 11:5: “The election of grace”= election due to foreseen faith is not unmerited, but merited. Therefore is no longer grace (Romans 11:6)

    Furthermore. Ephesians 2:8: For by grace (feminine) you have been saved (masculine) through faith (feminine), and that (Neuter) not of yourself, it is the gift of God.

    That = a neuter demonstrative pronoun. In the Greek, ever pronoun must match with its antecedent in gender. But there is a rule in the Greek that when the pronoun is neuter and none of the nouns are matching in gender in the previous phrase… the author means to attach all the nouns in the phrase to that pronoun.

    Praise God! :)

  98. Ryan,

    Thanks for stopping by. I would suggest familiarizing yourself with the post and the comments in the thread before getting involved with the discussion, but let me address what you say here:

    Hopefully no one said this already but, since we know that Scripture is not up for private interpretation (2 Peter 19-20):

    Not sure what you mean by this intro. Are you suggesting that any interpretation other than yours is unauthorized “private” interpretation?

    1 John 2:29: “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of God”

    Or, in the Greek, “Practices” = Present tense (taking place now). “Is born”= Perfect tense (Past action with continuing results)

    1 John 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”

    With the Greek: “loves”= Present tense (Taking place now). “Is born”= Perfect tense (Past action with continuing results).

    1 John 5:1: The authority: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” or as ESV puts it: “has been born of God.”

    The Greek: “believes” = Present tense & “Is born”= Perfect tense = Past action.

    Let me just refer you to the following post:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/08/30/examining-a-rather-strange-proof-text-for-irresistible-regeneration/

    John 1:13: “Who were born…” the “were born” = 2 Aortist in the Passive. Meaning that the person was a passive agent. Not the initiator.

    No one claimed that God is not the initiator of regeneration. If you had read the post, you would have known that.

    Romans 11:5: “The election of grace”= election due to foreseen faith is not unmerited, but merited. Therefore is no longer grace (Romans 11:6)

    It seems that you added a little “private interpretation” here ;-) Since faith is simple trust in Christ to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, it is not a work and merits nothing. It simply receives a free and undeserved gift (see Rom. 4). By the way, I do not hold to the “election by foreseen faith” view.

    Furthermore. Ephesians 2:8: For by grace (feminine) you have been saved (masculine) through faith (feminine), and that (Neuter) not of yourself, it is the gift of God.

    That = a neuter demonstrative pronoun. In the Greek, ever pronoun must match with its antecedent in gender. But there is a rule in the Greek that when the pronoun is neuter and none of the nouns are matching in gender in the previous phrase… the author means to attach all the nouns in the phrase to that pronoun.

    No real problem here. The entire economy of salvation is a gracious gift that we did not deserve or merit. God wasn’t obligated to provide a way of salvation for sinners through faith in His Son. Since He chose to do so anyway, this proves that He was entirely gracious in doing so.

    However, the actual language and context would suggest that the “that” refers to “salvation” since salvation by faith is specifically being contrasted with salvation by works in this passage. In fact, the NASB footnotes “that” with “i.e. salvation”.

    Now, since I took a few moments to answer your questions, why don’t you take some time to read the post and address the problems I mentioned for the Calvinist ordo before responding further?

    Thanks and God Bless,
    Ben

  99. Ryan’s comments appealing to Greek grammar appear to be a case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. He apparently can figure out what Greek tenses certain words are, but does not know the rules of Greek grammar for how the tenses relate to one another nor especially how the tenses of participles relate to that of indicatives, nor that time is considered to be present in the indicative, not in particples. It is questionable whether substantive partciples such as we have in many of the verses he cited have any time indication relative to the main, indicative verb at all. But if they do, then Greek grammar actually states that the present tense participle indicates coinciding time with the main, indicative verb, or possibly prior time! One merely needs to look at at good Greek grammar text. In simple terms with a text like 1 John 5:1, that means that the believing (present tense particple) happens at the same time or even before being born again. Not knowing Greek grammar well enough has led Ryan to pint to a passage that specifically does not picture regeneration prior to faith. But to be fair to Ryan, it is a sophomoric mistake that even some scholars have made, hasty to try and prove calvinistic doctrine.

    There is a similar problem with Ryan’s claim about Eph 2:8. It is surprising that he says, “But there is a rule in the Greek that when the pronoun is neuter and none of the nouns are matching in gender in the previous phrase… the author means to attach all the nouns in the phrase to that pronoun.” There os no such rule. I recommend looking at the distinguished Greek grammar by Daniel Wallace, a Calvinist by the way!, pp. 334-335, where he discusses the issue of the antecedent of the pronoun in Eph 2:8, and shows it is highly unlikely for it to refer to “faith”. His treatment is practically definitive. He discusses the rule that Ryan appears to try and mention, but the rule is not quite what Ryan says it is, and Wal;lace shows that it does not apply to Eph 2:8.

  100. Thank you for your responses.

    Though i am not dissuaded by either reply.

    the 1 John texts are not refuted by your post covering James White’s interpretation.

    The texts in 1 John have a particular structure that fits nicely with John’s writing on the topic of regeneration/adoption in his Gospel (1:12-13).

    12: But as many as received (Active) Him, to them he gave the right (Active) to become (Present) children of God: (This verse seems to be referring to adoption)
    13: who were born (Aortist Passive) not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (This verse seems to be referring to regeneration)
    John separates the act of regeneration from the act of adoption.

    If regeneration has something to do with believing… or if it was a response of some sort to believing… or if believing would come before regeneration, this would contradict passages that indicate:

    Romans 3:10: “There is none who understand; There is none who seeks after God.”

    John 3:3: “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

    the word ‘see:’
    1) to see
    1a) to perceive with the eyes
    1b) to perceive by any of the senses
    1c) to perceive, notice, discern, discover
    1d) to see
    1d1) i.e. to turn the eyes, the mind, the attention to anything
    1d2) to pay attention, observe
    1d3) to see about something
    1d31) i.e. to ascertain what must be done about it
    1d4) to inspect, examine

    With these definitions to the word ‘see,’ it appears that understanding, discerning, or otherwise perceiving with the eyes / mind / or any of the senses would not be possible without being regenerated. ‘unless one be born again…’

    John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing…”

    Furthermore, the 1 John texts are written in a way that, when read naturally in the Greek, provide for a past regeneration and a present believing. Therefore fitting nicely with our Lord as well as paul’s understanding.

    this is why I believe Paul would agree:

    1 Cor 2:14: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    Therefore supporting my reading of the 1 John texts because if I was still ‘natural’ i would not be believing unto life.

    1 Cor 12:3: “… no one can say that Jesus is Lord expect by the Holy Spirit.”

    I believe the same is seen in 2 Cor 4:3-6.

    Romans 8:7 also describes the inability of the carnal mind to understand.

    In regards to the Romans 11:7: “The election of grace.” I do not understand how i added private interpretation, is not the arminian position that ‘foreknowledge’ is referring to foreknown faith? My reading is such that it fits into a plain reading of Romans 8 and 9.

    as far as faith as a gift:

    Ephesians 2:8 is clearly presenting faith as a gift, or else there be a floating neuter noun somewhere lost in translation. “Grace” (feminine) is obviously a gift, “saved” (masculine) is obviously a gift, faith (feminine)… it would be a stretch not to assign “faith” to the pronoun as well, considering it is feminine like “grace,” which is obviously a gift.

    If you are so incredulous then it may be helpful to see where else Paul referred to faith in the like manner:

    Romans 12:3: “For I say, through the grace given to me… not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

    Philippians 1:29: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”

    1 Cor 4:7: “For what makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive?…”

    2 Cor 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”

    Since Paul’s question is clearly rhetorical (1 Cor 4:7) and the word ‘anything’ (2 Cor 3:5) tends to refer to everything that is something, including thoughts (consider thought being shared and being turned into great inventions). it is most reasonable to see faith as a gift in Eph 2:8.

    Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith…”

    Ok, have at it :)

  101. And by the way, i had read the post, i didn’t read all the comments. And i don’t think that faith is a ‘monergestic’ work of God. God does the work, we believe through grace (Acts 18:27). But since it is done through grace and newly gifted spiritual life to our spiritual dead existence (Genesis 2:17) it is a gift.

    And forgot to ask, how does a man commit a good deed in simple faith if every imagination of the intents of his heart is only evil continuously (Genesis 6:5 & 8:21).

    God bless

  102. It’s funny that you mention John 1:12-13, which definitively proves that faith precedes regeneration. You read a distinction into the text between adoption and regeneration, but John shows no such distinction. Becoming God’s children and being born of him are parallel in the passage, meaning that being born of him comes after logically faith. v. 13 explains v. 12. Being born of God clearly parallels becoming a child of God. These expressions describe the same basic reality. Indeed, it would be nonsensical to say that one can be born of God and yet not be his child. If anything, one is a parent’s child before actually being born. But I don’t think that John is being so rigid to the physical picture that serves as the basis of this metaphor as to draw any distinction between being born and becoming a child. Becoming God’s child is to be born of God — to be born of God is to become his child. The fact that v. 13 explains v. 12 backs this up. It tells us of those who became God’s children, and then describes to us the nature of their becoming God’s children: it is being born of him, an act pefomed by God (it is God who regenerates). And so the passage presents faith very clearly as prior to regeneration. The one who believes then becomes something that he was not, born of God/God’s child. God regenerates those who believe in Jesus.

    As for your contention that passages like Romans 3:10 (“There is none who understand; There is none who seeks after God”) contradict that idea that God regenerates in response to faith, that simply does not follow. Everyone admits that people do seek God. So both the Arminians and Calvinists interpret that no one seeks for God *on their own*. God must do something to enable a person to seek him, and influence the person to seek him. Arminians and Calvinists simply disagree about what that is. The Calvinist says God must regenerate. The Arminian, loaded with tons of biblical evidence that faith precedes regeneration, says God simply enables and draws by his grace, but does not regenerate until the person believes. The same basic argument applies to various texts that you cite.

  103. Ryan, continuing . . .

    On John 3:3, it is telling that you do not list one of the standard definitions of the Greek word for “see” used there, “to experience”. It just happens to be the definition most likely used in John 3:3, and one that fits perfectly with an Arminian view of the passage! You should see this post by Ben on this site: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/does-jesus-teach-that-regeneration-precedes-faith-in-john-33-6/.

    It is also amazing that you quote a text like John 6:63 (“It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing…”). Yes the Spirit gives life, but John and the NT generally makes it clear that the Spirit is received by faith. We receive the Spirit by faith, and he in turn gives us life, making life by faith (something explicitly affirmed many times in John and the NT!).

    Regardring Greek grammar with respect to 1 John 5:1 and Eph 2:8, you seem to just blow off the actual rules of Greek grammar after having mistated them. I pointed out that Greek grammar actually stands against what you have claimed, and now you just seem to sweep that under the rug and claim your view goes nicely with the Greek. Your claims stand againbst the actualt rules of Greek grammar. The way you read the text is not how the tenses relate in Greek. It is a common mistake among Calvinists. But it is one that can be demonstrated from the grammars to be definitively false. Moreover, you think it is a stretch not to assign “faith” to the pronoun in Eph 2:8 when one of the most repected Greek grammars among evangelical scholars analyzes the issue and practically thinks your view is the stretch? Is the Calvinist grammarian Daniel Wallace really stretching when he finds your view the least likely option among several on the question? Actually most scholars disagree with your view. Are they really stretching? As I said early on, your comments regarding Greek seem like a case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.

    Happily, I am sure we agree on the gospel and a common faith on our Lord jesus Christ.

    God bless.

  104. Thanks for the reply,

    I was under the impression that Greek pronouns need to match in gender as well as number. It turns out that “saved” is plural, and “grace” and “faith” are in the singular. The pronoun “that” is in the singular as well. I think this view simply fits into the rest of the verses I quoted establishing that faith is a thing given by God.

    I separate regeneration, the granting of spiritual life, with the reception of the Spirit of Sonship which is done upon justification. I think this view deals must appropriately with the condition of man after the Fall.

    Thank you for the stimulating discussion.

    Immanuel,
    Ryan

  105. Ryan,

    You really need to read Wallace’s treatment of the Eph 2:8 issue in his widely used Greek grammar. It lays the issue out nicely and is relatively succint. He shows pretty celary that your view is the most unlikely gramatically.

    However, just like Ben, I actually have no problem with the idea of faith being a gift. That is actually the most typical Arminian position, that faith is a gift of God. It is just that Eph 2:8 does not explicitly say that. It would not bother me if it did. It simply does not. Arminians believe that faith is a gift of God in that God enables us to have faith, which is the normal meaning such a statement would have when it is said that one person gives an act (like faith) to another that the other does.

    Your separation of regeneration from reception of the Spirit of sonship seems ot be without any real basis, particularly for John’s Gospel. The text shows no hint of such a distinction. Moreover, your contention just does not make sense given it would require that someone can be born of God yet not be his child. That is simply contradictory on its face.

  106. Arminian,

    Romans 3:4: “But let God be true and every man a liar.” who is Wallace? I have seen many people jump through hopes and rings of fire to support their views. I’m simply saying that if Paul called faith a gift in numerous other passages, then why would he not be calling it a gift again in Eph. 2:8. Furthermore, “Saved” in v. 5, 8 are not matching in number with the pronoun “that” in verse 8. All you are doing is offering an authoritative argument saying, “This guys says so.” You say there are people that say it doesn’t refer to “faith.” i say i have heard many say it does refer to “faith,” which fits in with the other passages i supplied as well as the simple rules of Greek grammar of pronouns matching in gender and number.

    I am glad to hear that you believe that faith is a gift from God.

    Romans 8:15: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.'”

    I have never heard of a child being adopted that was yet to be born. I have given clear scriptures that testify that regeneration is not the same as adoption. John 1:12-13 are not parallel thoughts. Parallel thoughts are not separated by a colon; a colon indicates a bridge, not a parallel road.

    The same is noticed in Ephesians 5:14: Therefore He says:
    “Awake, you who sleep,
    Arise from the dead,
    And Christ will give you light.”

    “Arise” is in the Aortist and “Christ will give you light” is in the future tense. But it is better translated “Rise you out of the dead! and shall be dawning on you the Christ!”
    Seems clear to me.

    You see, the problem with refuting reformed theology is that in order to do so, you have to refute the Bible itself.

    So here is my question to you.

    How do you interpret John 3:8: “The pneuma blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it but cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes, so is everyone who is born of the pneumatos”? and by the way, pneuma / pneumatos = spirit. Strong’s G4151.

    Also have you read John 12:8, after Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, “Then the Chief Priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also.”

    You see, the Chief Priests where Sadducees, they didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead. then when they were confronted with the fact that a dead man had been raised from the dead, they had to kill him because his life shattered their traditions. So is the problem with you, the Bible is clear, but your traditions are rigid.

  107. sorry thats john 12:10, not 8.

  108. Ryan said: “who is Wallace? I have seen many people jump through hopes and rings of fire to support their views. I’m simply saying that if Paul called faith a gift in numerous other passages, then why would he not be calling it a gift again in Eph. 2:8.”

    **** Wallace is one of the most respected modern NT Greek grammarians. You are making claims about Greek grammar. So I am simply pointing out that your claims have been faulty and appealing to a widely recognized Greek grammar. Paul does not call faith a gift elsewhere. At most he implies it is a gift. I believe he does imply it, and I believe faith is a gift. But that is not a good reason to ignore the actual words of a particular passage and its grammar and read the concept into it. It is bad to tamper with the word of God and say it says something in one place that it does not because we see the concept elsewhere. This is about proper exegesis of the word of God and not reading our theology into it, but letting God’s word determine our theology.

    Ryan said: “Furthermore, “Saved” in v. 5, 8 are not matching in number with the pronoun “that” in verse 8. All you are doing is offering an authoritative argument saying, “This guys says so.” You say there are people that say it doesn’t refer to “faith.” i say i have heard many say it does refer to “faith,” which fits in with the other passages i supplied as well as the simple rules of Greek grammar of pronouns matching in gender and number.”

    **** Ryan, do you know Greek. You do not appear to. You seem to be parroting things you have heard, but don’t understand, or perhaps you have a very limited knowledge of it. You don’t even seem aware of the the basic options for the Greek grammar related to the question of Eph 2:8. If you did know them, then you would not be mentioning the number of the verb for “saved”. No one claims that the antecedent of the pronoun is the verb saved. You are the one who brought up Greek grammar. So I am appealing to a distinguished and widely recognized Greek grammar. I could cite more Greek authorities. It is not a matter of, some say it refers to faith and some say it doesn’t. Most scholars recognize that it does not. It is grammatically implausible. You mention that you supplied simple rules of Greek grammar such as pronouns matching gender. But the pronoun does not match the gender of “faith” in Eph 2:8. That is not its antecedent. Perhaps the problem is that you are going by what you have heard many say rather than the actual rules of Greek grammar and Greek authorities rather than teachers who are tying to read their theology into the text.

    Ryan said: “Romans 8:15: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

    I have never heard of a child being adopted that was yet to be born.”

    **** And have you ever heard of a child born to a parent and yet not that parent’s child? You are claiming we can be born of God and yet not be his child. It just doesn’t work.

    Ryan said: “I have given clear scriptures that testify that regeneration is not the same as adoption.”

    **** You have not given one. I do not even know what passage(s) you refer to here. Besides not having given this, if you do try, you really ought to cite a passage from John, since different authors in the NT can express themselves differently. Paul would tend to talk about adoption whereas John would tend to speak of the same reality as regeneration/being born of God etc.

    Ryan: “John 1:12-13 are not parallel thoughts. Parallel thoughts are not separated by a colon; a colon indicates a bridge, not a parallel road.”

    **** This is a bizarre claim. First, do you not realize that the Greek manuscripts written by the apostles did not have colons at all? Moreover, your claim is not even correct for English. One could present parallel thoughts on either side of a colon. You seem to be throwing out baseless and arbitrary claims to try and support your position, which is a sign that there really isn’t any support for it. But you also seemed to be doing this with Greek

    Quite frankly, your quotation of Eph 5:14 is odd. It doesn’t support your position, and you do not explain how it does in any meaningful way.

    Ryan said: “You see, the problem with refuting reformed theology is that in order to do so, you have to refute the Bible itself.”

    **** Ok, now that’s just crazy talk. Do you not see how silly and counterproductive comments like that are? I could easily say, “You see, the problem with attempting to refute Arminian theology is that in order to do so, you have to refute the Bible itself.” Does that sort of comment further discussion? No. It is the sort of comment one resorts to when his position is being effectively refuted and he wants to try and “win the argument” by mere assertion that he is right. Oh, but it gets worse when you compare me to the Chief priests who condemned Jesus to death and rigidly clinging to tradition in the face of the truth. It’s appears that you might be going by the rule if thumb some follow, “when you don’t have the facts of Scripture behind you, beat your chest and insult your opponent.” But that does not commend your position.

    Finally, I could address your question about John 3:8, but a while back Ben answered some of your questions and then asked you to give some answers, but you have not. he said, “Now, since I took a few moments to answer your questions, why don’t you take some time to read the post and address the problems I mentioned for the Calvinist ordo before responding further?” But you have not answered his question. So why don’t you do that before thpwing out morer questions for us?

  109. I said:

    Though i am not dissuaded by either reply.
    the 1 John texts are not refuted by your post covering James White’s interpretation.
    The texts in 1 John have a particular structure that fits nicely with John’s writing on the topic of regeneration/adoption in his Gospel (1:12-13).
    12: But as many as received (Active) Him, to them he gave the right (Active) to become (Present) children of God: (This verse seems to be referring to adoption)
    13: who were born (Aortist Passive) not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (This verse seems to be referring to regeneration)
    John separates the act of regeneration from the act of adoption.
    If regeneration has something to do with believing… or if it was a response of some sort to believing… or if believing would come before regeneration, this would contradict passages that indicate:
    Romans 3:10: “There is none who understand; There is none who seeks after God.”
    John 3:3: “Most assuredly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    the word ‘see:’
    1) to see
    1a) to perceive with the eyes
    1b) to perceive by any of the senses
    1c) to perceive, notice, discern, discover
    1d) to see
    1d1) i.e. to turn the eyes, the mind, the attention to anything
    1d2) to pay attention, observe
    1d3) to see about something
    1d31) i.e. to ascertain what must be done about it
    1d4) to inspect, examine
    With these definitions to the word ‘see,’ it appears that understanding, discerning, or otherwise perceiving with the eyes / mind / or any of the senses would not be possible without being regenerated. ‘unless one be born again…’
    John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing…”
    Furthermore, the 1 John texts are written in a way that, when read naturally in the Greek, provide for a past regeneration and a present believing. Therefore fitting nicely with our Lord as well as paul’s understanding.
    this is why I believe Paul would agree:
    1 Cor 2:14: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
    Therefore supporting my reading of the 1 John texts because if I was still ‘natural’ i would not be believing unto life.
    1 Cor 12:3: “… no one can say that Jesus is Lord expect by the Holy Spirit.”
    I believe the same is seen in 2 Cor 4:3-6.
    Romans 8:7 also describes the inability of the carnal mind to understand.
    In regards to the Romans 11:7: “The election of grace.” I do not understand how i added private interpretation, is not the arminian position that ‘foreknowledge’ is referring to foreknown faith? My reading is such that it fits into a plain reading of Romans 8 and 9.
    as far as faith as a gift:
    Ephesians 2:8 is clearly presenting faith as a gift, or else there be a floating neuter noun somewhere lost in translation. “Grace” (feminine) is obviously a gift, “saved” (masculine) is obviously a gift, faith (feminine)… it would be a stretch not to assign “faith” to the pronoun as well, considering it is feminine like “grace,” which is obviously a gift.
    If you are so incredulous then it may be helpful to see where else Paul referred to faith in the like manner:
    Romans 12:3: “For I say, through the grace given to me… not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”
    Philippians 1:29: “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
    1 Cor 4:7: “For what makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive?…”
    2 Cor 3:5: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.”
    Since Paul’s question is clearly rhetorical (1 Cor 4:7) and the word ‘anything’ (2 Cor 3:5) tends to refer to everything that is something, including thoughts (consider thought being shared and being turned into great inventions). it is most reasonable to see faith as a gift in Eph 2:8.
    Hebrews 12:2: “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith…”

    Phil 1:29 is the clearest.

    These verses make it clear. I’m sorry, but do you know that the Bible speaks about doctrine moving to apostasy the closer we get to the end time. The arminian view is not the view of the church fathers, it was not the view of the Synod of Jerusalem Clergy (Augustine vs. Pelagius), it was not the view at the Council of Orange, it was not the view of Martin Luther, it was not the view that the Synod of Dort, it was not the view of the puritans, original Baptists, and it is not the view of the Bible. those people carrying the seeds of arminianism, and some the full blown fallacy, were condemned as heretics. But for some reason you think that it took the church 1600 years to finally get it right, though it was plainly condemned… I tried to show you, and did so. But again, your tradition is rigid. Learn about the doctrine of man in the Bible and you will see why regeneration is necessary. Man doesn’t love or want God in his natural state, “haters of God” Romans 1:30. And yes, Paul is talking about you, Romans 2:1. If .01 % of the process of salvation of man was contingent on the action of man then God responding with regeneration, 0 people would be saved.
    And Prevenient grace is not biblical: Mark 4:11-12 clearly refutes.

    Furthermore, the answer to John 3:8 is the sovereign grace of God, He is not reactionary, He is not impotent, He is taking what He bought with His blood out of the world. As Nebuchadnezzar found in Daniel 4:34-37:

    “And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have you done?”

    Proverbs 19:21: “There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless he LORD’s council – that stands.”

    Proverbs 20:24: “A man’s steps are of the LORD; How then can a man understand his own way?”

    Jeremiah 10:24: “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in a man who walks to direct his own steps.”

    Ephesians 5:14 is clear, but are you so mōros?
    Therefore He says:
    “Awake, you who sleep,
    Arise from the dead,
    And Christ will give you light.”

    or first He resurrects the dead sinner, giving spiritual life, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead!” Then Christ gives them light, which is in the Gospel that comes not only in word but with the Holy Spirit and power. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’ john 1:4. “Rise you out of the dead! and shall be dawning on you the Christ!”

    My comparison between you and the chief priests went as far as your tradition superseding the Bible and the church elders, no further.

    Case rested, verdict: Arminianism, the rotten fruit from the rotten tree of pelagianism / semi-pelagnianism.

  110. Ryan,

    You reposted a bunch of your early comments. But I already refuted them. I said,

    It’s funny that you mention John 1:12-13, which definitively proves that faith precedes regeneration. You read a distinction into the text between adoption and regeneration, but John shows no such distinction. Becoming God’s children and being born of him are parallel in the passage, meaning that being born of him comes after logically faith. v. 13 explains v. 12. Being born of God clearly parallels becoming a child of God. These expressions describe the same basic reality. Indeed, it would be nonsensical to say that one can be born of God and yet not be his child. If anything, one is a parent’s child before actually being born. But I don’t think that John is being so rigid to the physical picture that serves as the basis of this metaphor as to draw any distinction between being born and becoming a child. Becoming God’s child is to be born of God — to be born of God is to become his child. The fact that v. 13 explains v. 12 backs this up. It tells us of those who became God’s children, and then describes to us the nature of their becoming God’s children: it is being born of him, an act pefomed by God (it is God who regenerates). And so the passage presents faith very clearly as prior to regeneration. The one who believes then becomes something that he was not, born of God/God’s child. God regenerates those who believe in Jesus.

    As for your contention that passages like Romans 3:10 (“There is none who understand; There is none who seeks after God”) contradict that idea that God regenerates in response to faith, that simply does not follow. Everyone admits that people do seek God. So both the Arminians and Calvinists interpret that no one seeks for God *on their own*. God must do something to enable a person to seek him, and influence the person to seek him. Arminians and Calvinists simply disagree about what that is. The Calvinist says God must regenerate. The Arminian, loaded with tons of biblical evidence that faith precedes regeneration, says God simply enables and draws by his grace, but does not regenerate until the person believes. The same basic argument applies to various texts that you cite.

    On John 3:3, it is telling that you do not list one of the standard definitions of the Greek word for “see” used there, “to experience”. It just happens to be the definition most likely used in John 3:3, and one that fits perfectly with an Arminian view of the passage! You should see this post by Ben on this site: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/does-jesus-teach-that-regeneration-precedes-faith-in-john-33-6/.

    It is also amazing that you quote a text like John 6:63 (“It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh profits nothing…”). Yes the Spirit gives life, but John and the NT generally makes it clear that the Spirit is received by faith. We receive the Spirit by faith, and he in turn gives us life, making life by faith (something explicitly affirmed many times in John and the NT!).

    Regardring Greek grammar with respect to 1 John 5:1 and Eph 2:8, you seem to just blow off the actual rules of Greek grammar after having mistated them. I pointed out that Greek grammar actually stands against what you have claimed, and now you just seem to sweep that under the rug and claim your view goes nicely with the Greek. Your claims stand againbst the actualt rules of Greek grammar. The way you read the text is not how the tenses relate in Greek. It is a common mistake among Calvinists. But it is one that can be demonstrated from the grammars to be definitively false. Moreover, you think it is a stretch not to assign “faith” to the pronoun in Eph 2:8 when one of the most repected Greek grammars among evangelical scholars analyzes the issue and practically thinks your view is the stretch? Is the Calvinist grammarian Daniel Wallace really stretching when he finds your view the least likely option among several on the question? Actually most scholars disagree with your view. Are they really stretching? As I said early on, your comments regarding Greek seem like a case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.

  111. Continuing:

    Ryan said: “I’m sorry, but do you know that the Bible speaks about doctrine moving to apostasy the closer we get to the end time. The arminian view is not the view of the church fathers, it was not the view of the Synod of Jerusalem Clergy (Augustine vs. Pelagius), it was not the view at the Council of Orange, it was not the view of Martin Luther, it was not the view that the Synod of Dort, it was not the view of the puritans, original Baptists, and it is not the view of the Bible. those people carrying the seeds of arminianism, and some the full blown fallacy, were condemned as heretics. But for some reason you think that it took the church 1600 years to finally get it right, though it was plainly condemned… I tried to show you, and did so. But again, your tradition is rigid.”

    ***** Tour comments here are ironic and bizarre. Are you actually a hyper Calvinist? Did you not know that Arminainism was the view of the church fathers, that Calvinism was npot present for the first 400 years of the church? This is well known and acknowledged by many Calvinists. The Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints was not around until Calvin, 1600 years. Again, the Arminian view, also known as Semi-Augustinianism, was the view of the Council of Orange, and that council condemned Calvinistic doctrine! Just as Arminainism, with its belief in the need for God’s grace for human beings to be able to believe or do anything good, it stood against Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism,. But the council also stood against Calvinistic doctrine, ruling and declaring, “but not only do we not believe that some have been predestinated to evil by the divine power, but also, if there be any who will believe so evil a thing, we say to them, with all detestation, anathema.” (Man, though I agree that Calvinism is unbiblical, I would not go so far and condemn Calvinists to Hell like this early church council you yourself actually appealed to!) And that was similar to the Synod of Arles (ca. 473), which outrightly condemned Calvinistic views such as these: (i) that Christ has not died for the salvation of all men, (ii) that those who perish do so in accordance with the will of God, or (iii) that it was not possible for those who perish to have been saved. The Synod of Dort was not an ecumenical council nor one with wide-ranging authority. It was a regional conference and was truly a Kangaroo court (hence Ben’s moniker, Kangaroodort). You might want to check into its history and how it was rigged against the truth. Thankfully, some of the Calvinists who attended were persuaded to become Arminians despite all the political corruption associated with it.

    Ryan said: “Learn about the doctrine of man in the Bible and you will see why regeneration is necessary. Man doesn’t love or want God in his natural state, “haters of God” Romans 1:30. And yes, Paul is talking about you, Romans 2:1.”

    ***** All things Arminians believe. God must work in us for us to be able to respond positively to God, though he does not force us to respond or make us respond. His grace is not irresistible. People resist his grace all the time. Scripture makes that absolutely clear.

    Ryan said: “If .01 % of the process of salvation of man was contingent on the action of man then God responding with regeneration, 0 people would be saved. And Prevenient grace is not biblical: Mark 4:11-12 clearly refutes.”

    **** This is just mere assertion. Mark 4:11-12 does not refute prevenient grace. Prevenient grace is clearly demonstrated in Scripture. Scripture says we believe by grace. That is prevenient grace. God must act and work in us for us to believe. Your problem is that you then claim that such grace is irresistible, while the Arminian recognizes that it is resistible in accordance with any number of passages that show people resisting God’s grace.

    Ryan said: “Furthermore, the answer to John 3:8 is the sovereign grace of God, He is not reactionary, He is not impotent,”

    **** I agree that John 3:8 speaks of the sovereign grace of God. God as sovereignly decided to regenerate those who believe, as John 1:12-13 testifies, and as the context of John 3 testifies. So very very ironically, when Nicodemus asks what Jesus means by John 3:8 (and vv. 6-7 too), Jesus essentially answers that regeneration/life comes through faith! He gives the OT bronze serpent illustration in declaring that regenerration/life is granted through faith. The context of John 3 completely overturns the Calvinistic interpretation of the passage. I recommended to you earlier in this thread tha tyou should read Ben’s treatment of that passage: http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/08/20/does-jesus-teach-that-regeneration-precedes-faith-in-john-33-6/. It would still be a good idea for you. By the way, do you seriously maintain that God does not react to us? Scripture is filled with God reacting to human beings. That is a hige problem with Calvinistic theology, that it misses the clearly personal and relational nature of God basicaly reduces all to his will being the only will in the universe, reducing everything to God (pantheism) rather than the biblical view of God making other beings that he interacts genuinely with. Do you need passages that speak of God responding to people? How about every answered prayer mentioned in Scripture?

    You seem to be taking the classic Calvinistic “Machine Gun Hermeneutic” approach here, just shooting out a bunch of verses that you assume a Calvinistic interpretation of as if that proves your position. But it is really a form of begging the question. Citing passages that speak of God’s soveriengty don’t contradict Arminian theology, which holds God is sovereign, but in the normal, biblical sense of the concept rather than the idiosyncratic way that Calvinism defines it (God irresistibly causing all that happens , including sin and evil). On the misguided machine gun hermeneutic you are using, you might want to see this post about the technique: http://evangelicalarminians.org/Glynn.the-machine-gun-hermeneutic?page=3. I could easily compile a proof text list and throw a bunch of Scriptures at you “proving” my position. It just doesn’t seem like a helpful approach. I favor actual contextual interpretation.

    But I should address Eph 5:14 since I suggested you explain your interpretation of it, despite your childish insult (when you ask, “but are you so mōros?”; do you resort to insults because you have no substance behind your views? It doesn’t commend your position when you to resort to such tactics.)

    Ryan said: “first He resurrects the dead sinner, giving spiritual life, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead!””

    **** This says nothing about God resurrecting the dead sinner. It is a call to the spiritually dead sinner to come to life, that is, to believe and receive spiritual life, as scripture repeatedly reveals spiritual life coming by faith. Moreover, there is nothing in the verse about God raising only certain select ones. It is a call to the spiritually dead to rise. The call goes to all generally.

    Ryan said: “Then Christ gives them light, which is in the Gospel that comes not only in word but with the Holy Spirit and power.”

    **** This is not about the Gospel coming to someone, but about Christ giving his light/glory/Spirit/life upon the one who responds to his call, referring to Jesus the giving these things, in a word, giving salvation. Indeed, this passage alludes to Isaiah 60:1, in which context the Spirit, the glory of God, and light all basically describe the same thing. When we rise to receive salvation by faith, Jesus saves us; he gives us his light/glory/Spirit. Eph 5:14 is a call to those who are in darkness, asleep/spiritually dead, to wake up through believing in Jesus (as in Eph 2:1-10); compare also passages such as Col 2:12, which says that we are raised with Christ through faith! Moreover, Eph 5:14 gives the promise of Jesus shining his light/glory/Spirit/life upon the one who responds to his call. (Compare John 8:12 cited below, which speaks of the giving of light as the giving of life.)

    Ryan said: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.’ john 1:4

    **** Yes, great passage. It goes right along with passages like (using the NASB),

    “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. (Joh 3:14-15)
    “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (Joh 3:16)
    “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (Joh 3:36)

    “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes. “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,
    so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (Joh 5:21-24)
    [Notice here how the sovereignty of God and his response to faith are completely compatible. Jesus gives life to who he wants. Who does he choose to give life to? Those who believe. Compare John 3:8, The Spirit blows where he wills, i.e. regenerates who he wills. Who does he will to regenerate? Those who believe.]

    “and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (Joh 5:40) [Coming to Jesus is what gives life; that is what meets with God’s response of regeneration, giving spiritual life.]
    “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (Joh 8:12)
    “but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (Joh 20:31)

    I could go no, but that should be plenty.
    Ryan said: “My comparison between you and the chief priests went as far as your tradition superseding the Bible and the church elders, no further.”

    **** But do you not see that the criticism may well apply to you instead? Might it not be you who are refusing to see the biblical truth because of your tradition?

  112. Oh, btw, hopefully it is completely obvious that your odd claim that colons can’t be used with parallel statements (it would not apply to the original Greek of the biblical text first of all, and it’s not true at all in English either). But I should have pointed out that there is not even a colon in the text of John 1:12-13 in most translations (there are a few who have one, particularly some older translations: the KJV [and NKJV], ASV, and ERV, compared to a ton that do not have a colon). So your claim is all the more baseless.

    Hopefully it can be seen how weak your position is, when you have to appeal to such odd, empty points such as this.

    But even though I am having to share hard and possibly embarrassing truth with you, I hope it will lead to your good and the good of others who may view our discussion.

    May God blerss you and lead us all in his truth.

  113. Ryan,

    You said “Though i am not dissuaded by either reply” I cant say that I am shocked to hear that after reading your responses.

    “The texts in 1 John have a particular structure that fits nicely with John’s writing on the topic of regeneration/adoption in his Gospel ” You are conflating John’s writing with Calvinistic interpretation of John’s writing. It would be helpful to the discussion if you knew the difference.

    “if believing would come before regeneration, this would contradict passages that indicate – Romans 3:10: “There is none who understand; There is none who seeks after God.” Its nice how you conveniently left out prevenient grace and the acknowledgement that Arminians and Non-Calvinists also hold to total depravity. The main reason that believing comes before regeneration is that all the blessings are “in Christ”. Now how do you get “in Christ”? By faith in him.

    “Furthermore, the 1 John texts are written in a way that, when read naturally in the Greek, provide for a past regeneration and a present believing. Therefore fitting nicely with our Lord as well as paul’s understanding. this is why I believe Paul would agree” Once again, you are already presupposing that Jesus, John and Paul were Calvinists before reading the text. Past regeneration – one time act accomplished by God towards all those who believe. Present belief – faith is something that we must possess always until the end “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”

    “These verses make it clear.” I am sorry but they do not make it clear. You are already assuming that your interpretation is the correct one and already painting anyone in a bad light that could interpret it otherwise. For example: “no one can say that Jesus is Lord expect by the Holy Spirit” Arminians would say Amen! as the Holy Spirit has to convict men and enlighten them before they are able to say that Jesus is Lord, just not irresistibly.

    “I do not understand how i added private interpretation” Its not that you added private interpretation, but that you assume that your interpretation is the only possible one. Let me ask you this: not all Calvinists are Presbytarians, so are they the only right ones as far as Church govenment? If so, then is everyone else a heretic if they are not Presbytarians, even if they are Calvinists? Also, there are many 4 point Calvinists, are they heretics as well? You have to make a distinction between dealing with those outside the Body of Christ and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. What do you think of Arminians? Brothers-in-Christ or heretics?

    “do you know that the Bible speaks about doctrine moving to apostasy the closer we get to the end time.” Are you inferring that Arminians and Non-Calvinists are heretics? I would tread lightly if I were you.

    “The arminian view is not the view of the church fathers…it was not the view of Augustine…it was not the view of Martin Luther, it was not the view that the Synod of Dort, it was not the view of the puritans… and it is not the view of the Bible.” Since we are on the views of Augustine – do you agree with all his views? On infant baptism, on Church and State, on the persecution of heretics? Do you believe in Luther’s views on the Jewish people? This is nothing more than gross anachronism as anyone who studies Church History will see that Calvinism was started by Augustine (who was heavily influenced by his decade in gnostic manichaeism) and then brought back by Calvin during the Magisterial Reformation (did you know that there was also a Radical Reformation that was not Calvinistic?).

    “those people carrying the seeds of arminianism, and some the full blown fallacy, were condemned as heretics. But for some reason you think that it took the church 1600 years to finally get it right, though it was plainly condemned” Arminianism did come about in the 1600’s but so did Calvinism. That argument can just as easily be turned around on you.

    “If .01 % of the process of salvation of man was contingent on the action of man then God responding with regeneration, 0 people would be saved.” So you believe that men are robots? Its very simple – God does 100% of the work of salvation and man has to believe (by the preaching of the Gospel and conviction of the Spirit – not regeneration) in order to enjoy the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work (which includes regeneration). Faith is not works which is evident by scores of Scriptures.

    “He is not impotent” Who said that he was?

    “My comparison between you and the chief priests went as far as your tradition superseding the Bible and the church elders, no further” And you are not doing the same? You have a real problem here: you either A – claim that Calvinism=Bible and Calvinism=The Gospel and condemn all who are not Calvinists, or B – admit that Calvinism is a tradition that is a possible interpretation of the Bible and place yourself in the same boat as you claim Arminians are in. Which is it?

    “Case rested, verdict: Arminianism, the rotten fruit from the rotten tree of pelagianism / semi-pelagnianism.” Well, I am glad that we have you to present your side, then unilaterally decide the verdict on your own. So are you saying that Arminianism=Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism? If so just bear in mind that I could say that Calvinism=Augustinianism=Gnostic Manichaeism if I wanted to falsely accuse others like you are. For the 10 millionth time: ARMINIANS ARE NEITHER PELAGIAN OR SEMI-PELAGIAN!

  114. “The main reason that believing comes before regeneration is that all the blessings are “in Christ”.”

    Is the capability to believe a blessing that comes from Christ? Yes or no?

    If you say yes, then believing is in Christ since you said that ALL the blessings are in Christ.

    If you say no, then you do not consider prevenient grace as a blessing from God.

  115. Patrick, that would be akin to stating that belief in Christ is “in Christ” therefore one has to believe in order to believe.

    I consider breathing and my heart beating to be blessings from God, does that mean that I am “in Christ” if I am breathing and have a heartbeat? If so, then everyone is saved.

    The point is that at some point you have to draw the line from Scriptures as to what all receive (even those who end up in hell) and what is received as a result of being “in Christ” which comes from faith in him. For example, I dont think that anyone would argue that justification is by faith therefore only by being “in Christ” do you receive that benefit. Same with Sanctification and Glorification. These benefits are only to those that are “in Christ” through faith in him.

    Now we come to regeneration. Is that a blessing that is “in Christ”? Yes or No?

    If you say “Yes” then you agree with Arminians and the Ordo Salutis that is listed in this post.

    If you say “No” then you say that one has regeneration apart from faith (and justification which is a result of faith) and apart from being “in Christ” which I believe is not consistent with the Scriptures.

  116. Isaiah 64:8:
    Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.

  117. Patrick,

    It’s a little thing called context. Take a look at Eph. 1:13 and tell me if faith is included in the blessings that are in Christ Jesus? The context is concerned with spiritual blessings that accompany and define salvation (e.g. election, redemption, regeneration, etc.). Prevenient grace is not a part of the salvation blessings that reside in Christ, it is the empowering work of the Holy Spirit that makes faith possible, through which we are joined to Christ and come to experience all salvation blessings (just as I explained in it the post).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  118. Ben. The empowering work of the Holy Spirit is never apart from Jesus. Don’t try to isolate the empowering work of the Spirit from Christ himself. If you are able to say that God has some type of grace (prevenient as you call it) that comes from the Spirit but not from Christ… you are going in a very innovative path.

    Plus, Eph 1:13 has nothing to do with regeneration. Through faith the Spirit reinforces our conscious assurance of future promises (check verse 14). In the same way the Spirit that is “received” by faith in other parts of the NT is associated to the empowering of christians for mission/preaching action. Even some NT christians who believed and were even baptized with water did not receive this empowering instance of the Spirit until human hands were placed upon them. Even Christ himself did not receive the empowering Spirit until he was 30, when he started his mission. It would be meaningless to say that he was regenerated at that moment.

    You are simply totally misunderstanding spiritual regeneration with the special receipt of the Spirit that empowers us to preach and evangelize as well as to grow in assurance of future promises.

    Of course the Spirit is received in a sense by faith, specially by prayer. That’s why we pray with faith before preaching so that we are empowered and we can preach the word with power and assurance.

  119. Ryan,

    You have been asked to answer some questions with regards to the post and have yet to do so. I deleted your last post since it is just a long list of prooftexts. Please do not continue to interact here any longer if that is going to be the way you argue your point. You have already brought up several Scriptures and we have shown that they do not support your view. In fact, they support the Arminian view. Just quoting a bunch more passages with no regard for context doesn’t change the fact that the Scriptures you have already called into service have not helped you. It may be time to just agree to disagree, especially since you seem to view Arminians as unsaved. Let me interact with a few things you wrote in your post:

    Does not Christ say, “It is finished,” or “Paid in full.” But no, you say its not so… Christ did everything, but you have to just do this one thing. The reality is Christ regenerates me and gives me the gift of faith because I was paid for in full. All my sins even for my sin of unbelief… I was paid for in full.

    But your contentions are at odds with Scripture as we have demonstrated. Just asserting the same thing over and over does little to help your case. If your unbelief was paid for at the cross when Jesus said “it is finished”, then you were saved even in your unbeleif. So much for sola fide!

    But isn’t the last step that you proposing all about human decision and will?

    The step of faith is the God ordained condition for receiving salvation. You go on and on about how God is free and we are not and we just want to rob God of freedom, etc., etc., but then you deny God the sovereign right (freedom) to create free agents and hold them accountable for their choices. You deny Him the freedom to make salvation conditioned on faith. Why are you trying so hard to limit God’s freedom?

    Faith excludes boasting because it is the means by which we receive an unearned and undeserved gift. It is really just that simple. Again, I suggest you read Rom. 4 carefully. Faith is simple trust in Christ to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. For that reason it excludes boasting, not because it is irresistibly given to some and not others (which seems to me might indeed be a reason to boast, just as the Jews boasted over Gentile sinners because God had chosen them as His covenant people).

    The issue is legitimate boasting. People can boast in all kinds of things but that doesn’t make their boasting legitimate. The believer cannot legitimately boast because he or she did nothing to earn or merit salvation. The believer only received an undeserved gift through faith. That is as far as the Scripture takes it and that is as far as we should take it.

    And no, man does not have free will. That is exactly what I’m saying. The bible does not teach it therefore i don’t believe in it. There is one free will in the universe and that is God’s. The Scripture is clear: I am not a robot, I am, and you are also, a lump of clay:

    Romans 9: 20-21;
    But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?

    Interesting. So the way you understand this passage is that God is angry with His pots for thinking and doing just as He has irresistibly controlled them to think and do? The Potter forms the clay to be rebellious and talk back to God. He forms their wills to reject Him and rail against Him (since they have no free will), and then chastises the pots that He formed to talk back for talking back. Is that correct?

    Arminians base everything on the free choice of man, but the Scriptures are clear, all that stands is the free choice of God:

    Unless, of course, that free choice of God included creating free agents and holding them accountable for their actions, etc. That is apparently a freedom we simply cannot allow God to have. But again, this is a gross caricature of Arminian theology as has already been pointed out to you.

    This is the problem with man, he thinks he deserves something. Don’t i deserve freedom? don’t i deserve this or that? No, you don’t deserve anything but hell.

    Arminian theology is in no way based on the idea that we deserve freedom or anything else. You really need to read up on Arminian theology before you set out to criticize it (from actual Arminians, and not just Calvinists).

    And the only unjust thing in this whole process is that Christ died for you. That an unjust man died for the horribly unjust, debtors and criminals violating God everyday.

    Amen. He didn’t deserve that and we did not deserve the opportunity to be saved through faith in His blood. That is why it is so wonderfully gracious. God’s grace in Christ towards lost sinners need not be irresistible to be grace. To think that grace is only grace if it is irresistible is truly bizarre.

    You see that the problem is the presumption that the criminal man has some rights or some room to speak before God. Do you say that a person in jail due to murder, burglary, or some other felony has rights? of course not. Then why do you criminals think you have rights when you have not committed crimes against fellow man, but the infinitely holy and righteous God?. (just updated this since I previously had quoted the wrong comment here by mistake, making little sense of my response)

    No one said anything about rights but you. Again, it would really benefit you to understand the position you are railing against before making such irrelevant comments as these.

    When you are willing to interact with the actual post you may comment again. Until then, please go elsewhere with your prooftexts and gross misrepresentations of Arminian theology.

    Thank you,
    Ben

  120. Patrick,

    I am sorry, but the burden of proof rests on you to demonstrate that the context of Gal. has reference only to the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, especially when Paul is careful to explain that Spirit as the Sprit of adoption through which we come to be children of God. Much more could be said on that, but since that is your tactic to avoid the problem these passages create for your position, I will leave it to you to make your case and not just assert it.

    You really seemed to miss the point of my comments. Maybe you were just in a hurry. The point is that we are sealed in Christ by faith; therefore, the condition for being joined to Christ cannot be included among the spiritual salvation blessing that reside in Him. But regeneration is indeed included among the spiritual blessings we receive through faith (Eph. 2:5). And you will notice that the blessing of new life is the result of being joined to Christ (we were made “alive together with Christ”), and of course this is all by grace through faith (2:8).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  121. Ryan,

    Is your Calvinist Christian history lesson supposed to make some sort of point? If so, why not explain what we are supposed to learn from it.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  122. Hi Ben,

    I will be responding your questions of latest posts. Sorry if I missed your answer to the following doubt but I just did not read it in your previous posts:

    How can God justify (declare legally righteous or innocent) a person who has not yet been regenerated? Your ordo places justification before regeneration. Regeneration is equivalent to new birth and new birth is equivalent to being a new creature. Therefore you say that we can be justified before becoming a new creature (regeneration).

    Sorry that I insist on this but I just did not see your clear answer, as you seemed to avoid it, according to my impression.

    Regards

  123. Your ordo sequence “justification > regeneration” clearly implies that God declares innocent (justification) someone who is not yet a new creature in Christ (regeneration).

    How can someone not in Christ be declared innocent?

  124. Hi Ben,

    Can an unregenerated man be declared righteous before God?

    Can someone who is not yet a new creature (born again) in Christ be declared innocent before God?

    If you say no you are saying that regeneration (new birth) is a pre-condition for justification, which contradicts your ordo.

    If you say yes… you are stating that unregenerated spiritual corpses can be declared innocent before God, which contradicts Scripture.

    Plus, [faith (1) > union with Christ (2) > justification (3) > regeneration (4)] implies that someone already united with the source of life (2) still does not have new life (4) but he is declared innocent before God anyway (3) prior to enjoying spiritual life (4).

    Regards

    Thanks

  125. Ben said: “I am sorry, but the burden of proof rests on you to demonstrate that the context of Gal. has reference only to the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, especially when Paul is careful to explain that Spirit as the Sprit of adoption through which we come to be children of God.”

    Patrick says:

    The receipt of the Spirit of adoption is completely unrelated to spiritual regeneration in the considered passages. In the same way NT Christians received power for evangelism and assurance reinforcement through faith, the Spirit of adoption strengthens our sense of assurance of being children of God.

    Romans 8:15-17

    Firstly, the Spirit of adoption provides assurance that we are children of God (v15: ¡Abba, Father!). This assurance aspect is implied by the next verse (v16: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs”). Please note how clear the context is regarding assurance of present (sonship) and future benefits (divine glory sharing): v17: “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ… in order that we may also share in his glory.” The work of the Spirit in Romans 8:15-17 makes no link whatsoever with regeneration but deals with current sonship certainty and future benefit warranty.

    You should also notice that the ministry of the Holy Spirit as the one who gives us security about things to come was in Paul´s prayers for the Ephesians (1:18: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the HOPE to which he has called you… the riches of his glorious INHERITANCE.”

    Romans 8:23 continues to stress the point of adoption as a future hope: “waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body”. We see how adoption can be understood as a present reality but also as a future one (eschatological perspective).

    Also, Romans 8:26 says that the Spirit helps us in our weakness (empowering aspect) and He prays for us (protection and security aspect).

    In addition, Rom 8:15 introduces the “slavery” and “fear” factors: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear”, teaching us that the Spirit of God is in contrast with fear, as He provides confidence and courage (the apostles were recipients of this empowering effect).

    From Rom 8:15-17, 23, 26 and Eph 1:18 we learn that Paul involves the Spirit with the following issues: (1) sonship assurance, (2) future glory assurance or hope, (3) protective security intercession (4) empowering effect in our weakness, and (5) encouraging effect in our fear.
    Keep in mind all these tasks attributed to the Spirit and also the fact that spiritual regeneration is not mentioned at all in these contexts.

    Regarding your weak theory on Gal 3 as supposed proof of new life (regeneration) being received by faith, with a basic analysis you may understand that this passage is completely unrelated to spiritual regeneration as were the ones above. You simply missed the entire picture.

    Galatians 3 is continuing the same line of thought Paul expressed in Romans and Ephesians concerning the Spirit’s ministry of empowering Christians for mission and providing assurance of sonship.

    What was the evidence of the Spirit’s presence in the Galatians? The first is mentioned in 3:5, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” (don’t make the mistake to ignore the relevant present tense of “supplies” and “works”). This is not a one-time, past regeneration experience but an ongoing supply of power to carry out wonders in first century NT context. One evidence that the Galatians could point to was miracles that God was doing by the Spirit in their midst. We could think of NT kinds of miraculous signs Jesus did, because the language used is so close to the language which describes Jesus’ miracles in Matthew 14:2 and the gift of miracles in 1 Corinthians 12:6-9. In other words, mighty works like healing and exorcisms and significant altering of circumstances through prayer with faith—these gave evidence to the Galatian believers that the Spirit had been poured into their lives in a special way. Regeneration is just not the issue.

    So it is important that we consider the second evidence of the Spirit in the Galatians, namely, the deep assurance that God is our Father and we are his children. Galatians 4:6 says, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, ‘Abba! Father!'” When your heart is enabled to cry out sincerely to God as your loving Father, it is evidence that the Spirit of sonship is in you. Paul (we saw it already) puts it like this in Romans 8:15, 16, “You received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” So the second evidence of the Spirit’s presence is the assurance we feel that God is our Father and that we are heirs with Christ of glory. (See also 1 Corinthians 12:3, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.”)

    So the third evidence of the Spirit’s presence should be added, namely, a genuine impulse of love. Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” The bottom line in testing the Spirit is the test of love.

    For the above-mentioned reasons there is no ground to interpret the reception of the Spirit in Galatians 3 as that corresponding to spiritual regeneration. There is no sign of new birth emphasis in the context. However, we find indications of wonders, sonship assurance and a test of love as evidences of the constant work of the Spirit that is present in regenerated Christians.

    You should recognize the clear thematic parallellism in Romans 8 and Galatians 3-4, as far as the work of the Spirit in already regenerated Christians is concerned. Galatians 4:3 also brings to light the issue of slavery, which links us back to Rom 8:15.

    IMO, you are using regeneration-unrelated biblical texts to support your erroneous faith>regeneration sequence. In other words, you are misinterpreting other ministries of the Holy Spirit (namely those related to empowering, assurance, etc) as being linked to spiritual regeneration when, in fact, such a link does not exist.

  126. Patrick,

    I can’t give a lengthy response to your post at the moment. We can look more closely at Gal. and the other passages when I get the time, but I would urge you to read through the material again and ask yourself what Paul’s primary focus is in Galatians. The main issue is how one receives “the promises”. What do these promises have primary reference to? They have reference to becoming a part of God’s covenant people/ God’s family/God’s children.

    Those who are God’s people are not those who try to be justified by the law, but those who receive the promise through faith. Through faith one receives the “promise” of the Holy Spirit, which marks that person as a child of God. Through faith one is justified and forgiven. Through faith one gains the “promise” of an inheritance as a co-heir with Christ through whom one comes to be a member of God’s covenant people, and a part of God’s family.

    The context is not really focused on an “empowering” aspect of the Holy Spirit as you claim (which is also received by faith). The context is about how one becomes a part of the covenant community and family of God (God’s children). One becomes a part of that community through faith and receives the Spirit of adoption as a result. You really seem to be trying hard to avoid the obvious in these passages rather than just submitting to what they are saying. What is especially strange is that you do this despite not having even one passage that says that the new birth or regeneration precedes faith. Not one.

    Hopefully I can address this more fully sometime soon.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  127. In your evaluation of the Calvinistic order, you rightly repeatedly identify the relationship in the ordering of the particulars as logical (i.e., not chronological), but the problems you seem to have with this order only apply if the relationship were chronological (i.e., not logical).

  128. Wayne,

    Thanks for taking the time to read my post. You wrote,

    …but the problems you seem to have with this order only apply if the relationship were chronological (i.e., not logical).

    Care to back up that assertion? Do you think a Calvinist would be OK with saying that faith logically precedes regeneration? Why or why not?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  129. @Eric,
    Nothing you have presented here demonstrates Biblically that regeneration precedes faith, nor does it demonstrate faith as an irresistible gift from God to the elect.

    I continue, to see these types of comments. In other words the accusation is that those opposed have not demonstrated their point Biblically, while I suppose we are to assume you have demonstrated your point without question.

    My main point here is to say, I believe it is intellectually dishonest for any of the sides of this conversation, to assert that there is no Biblical warrant for the opposed point of view. I also would say that you would be dishonest to say there are no Biblical passages that cause you to struggle with your own position. The debate that is being waged here, has been ongoing for hundreds of years. Therefore for any to say, all my points are correct and Biblical while yours are not, seems absurd. I also believe, for anyone to say there are no Biblical passages that cause me to struggle with my position, is to say I have risen above the fray and arrived at the truth.

    Now let me be clear in saying, that I believe this discussion, should continue, and I would certainly not call for any to compromise of look for a middle ground on this particular topic where we can all finally agree. What I am saying is that to simply say your point has no Biblical warrant, while I have fully demonstrated mine, will only serve to kill the conversation if all sides take the same position. And in reality the only one you have demonstrated anything to is yourself.

  130. Jack,

    You may want to follow your own advice considering how you have often presented your views here. If you read through Eric’s post you will see that all he did was quote some Scriptures as if they settled the issue. But those Scriptures didn’t even address the ordo salutis. He then followed that with some philosophical objections. That was my point. I see this from Calvinists all the time.

    I continue, to see these types of comments. In other words the accusation is that those opposed have not demonstrated their point Biblically, while I suppose we are to assume you have demonstrated your point without question.

    Not at all, but if one is going to make the claim that regeneration precedes faith one should really try to back that claim up. You suggest that since this debate has been ongoing we should use more caution. Fair enough. That should certainly apply to Calvinism above all since the main tenets of Calvinism were unheard of in the church, except among gnostic sects, until Augustine. The Calvinist doctrine of inevitable perseverance was unheard of prior to Calvin. The idea of limited atonement as well, and some Calvinist scholars even deny that Calvin held to limited atonement. Likewise, the idea that regeneration precedes faith is found nowhere in the church except in Calvinism. Numerous passages show that spiritual life results from faith while there is not one that says that faith results from spiritual life. That puts a pretty big burden on those who claim that regeneration precedes faith to make their case, and quoting a passage that speaks of faith as a gift (though that is highly debatable given the Greek) as if that irrefutably makes the case is a little strange. Hence, my comments.

    When the Bible in so many places uses plain language to say that Christ died for all/ the world/ etc.; or that God desires all to be saved, then the burden of proof is on those who want to say that Christ died only for the elect or that God desires only the elect to be saved, etc. Don’t you agree? In the same way, when the Bible speaks again and again of life being granted to believers on the basis of faith, the burden rests on those who want to say the opposite. Don’t you agree?

    Therefore for any to say, all my points are correct and Biblical while yours are not, seems absurd.

    Where did I say that? What I said was that Eric had not demonstrated Biblically that regeneration precedes faith. That is not the same thing as saying, “all my points are correct and Biblical while yours are not.”

    What I am saying is that to simply say your point has no Biblical warrant, while I have fully demonstrated mine, will only serve to kill the conversation if all sides take the same position. And in reality the only one you have demonstrated anything to is yourself.

    Fair enough, but I don’t see that anyone here has said that. We also need to be honest enough to admit that we do generally think our view has Scriptural support while the opposing view does not, else we would hold the opposing view, correct? But most people who discuss these issues realize that and don’t have a problem with it and don’t let that point of conviction “kill” the discussion.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  131. @If you read through Eric’s post you will see that all he did was quote some Scriptures as if they settled the issue.

    This statement seems quite unfair to me. As you state Eric does cite scripture, and I believe his point is, these passages seem to indicate regeneration before faith. Therefore, this would mean that the logical order of salvation would be regeneration first. This would answer your objection that, “those Scriptures didn’t even address the ordo salutis.”

    I also believe this statement is unfair because, you have written a fairly lengthy article here, and those who would like to respond would have to write an article themselves, if they were to cite scripture and then go on to expound how they believe these scriptures are relevant, which I have done, but I have later noticed that lengthy responses are discouraged. Listen I could start in Genesis 3:15, and type until my fingers bled, expounding how I believe that God does not depend on mans response. For a small example here, I would ask did God sit back and wait on Seth’s response to see if the line would come through him, or rather did God ensure this response? As I said this is a small example, I could have started in Gen. 3:15.

    There are other points you make, I would love to address here, and I will if you give me permission, however if I do so now this will become lengthy. Therefore, let me give you what I believe the Biblical order of salvation is. Those He foreknew, He predestined, those He predestined, He called, those He called, He justified, those He justified He glorified. Now I could have another lengthy discussion on what the word foreknew actually means. However, let me at this time only point out that, if you will notice all these terms are used in the past tense. In other words, it does not say, those He foreknows, or those He predestines, rather all these terms are in the past tense as though they have already happened, before any response.

  132. Jack,

    You wrote:

    @If you read through Eric’s post you will see that all he did was quote some Scriptures as if they settled the issue.

    This statement seems quite unfair to me. As you state Eric does cite scripture, and I believe his point is, these passages seem to indicate regeneration before faith. Therefore, this would mean that the logical order of salvation would be regeneration first. This would answer your objection that, “those Scriptures didn’t even address the ordo salutis.”

    I am sorry if you think it is unfair. Of course Eric thought his Scripture references made his point. Do I not have the right to disagree and explain why? Maybe you just don’t like the way I went about that, but it is hard to always walk on eggshells in these discussions. It does interest me that all of your criticism seems to be directed at me and not Eric. Look at what he wrote,

    “The problem with Arminian theology is foundational as it fails at the outset if Eph 2:8,9 or Titus 3:5 are inspired Words of the Lord…”

    This is how Eric started his response. Now what do you think is implied in his words? First, he unequivocally states that Arminian theology “fails at the outset.” That seems like some pretty strong language. Am I not supposed to respond in kind? I didn’t take offense or make a big deal of it. I understand that Eric obviously feels very strongly that Arminianism is not Biblical. That is clear in that he says if the “inspired words of the Lord” are true, then Arminianism “fails.” What do you take that to mean? Don’t you think that is a rather clear statement that Arminianism is unbiblical and out of harmony with the inspired words of the Lord? Who wants to believe something that contradicts the inspired word of the Lord? Does that sort of rhetoric seem fair to you? But again, I understand that he has strong convictions. That is not a big deal to me. I don’t take offense. I just answer his objection in an effort to show that his verses do not show that Arminianism contradicts the “inspired word of the Lord?”

    I also believe this statement is unfair because, you have written a fairly lengthy article here, and those who would like to respond would have to write an article themselves, if they were to cite scripture and then go on to expound how they believe these scriptures are relevant, which I have done, but I have later noticed that lengthy responses are discouraged.

    Which you have done? Where? Sometimes lengthy responses are discouraged, but that is usually because the topic is straying from the main point of the post and getting too involved so that further discussion becomes too cumbersome and demands too much time. Still, anyone can start a blog and write his or her own articles, making them as long as they want. I often allow very lengthy responses if they are on topic. I do not have an imposed limit on how many words can be used as many blogs do, so I think your comments are a little unfair as well. However, this was Eric’s initial comment and nobody told him how long or short to make it, so why do you assume it was somehow unfair for him to be able to respond fully to my post? He could have made his response as long as he wanted. Even further, you will notice that he did not directly address any of the objections in my post, but only made the typical Calvinist comments about faith being a gift and quoting Ephesians while making some philosophical objections to the Arminian view (which he misrepresented), and essentially saying Arminian theology “fails” and is unBiblical. Still, I approved his comments and allowed him to continue to discuss the issue, even though I couldn’t even be sure that he had bothered to read the post at all. Is any of that really unfair?

    Listen I could start in Genesis 3:15, and type until my fingers bled, expounding how I believe that God does not depend on mans response.

    How about you address the content of the post instead? That is the point of these threads, to comment on the post. That is exactly why lengthy responses sometimes get discouraged. And you betray again that you do not understand Arminian theology as no Arminian believes that God “depends” on man’s responses.

    For a small example here, I would ask did God sit back and wait on Seth’s response to see if the line would come through him, or rather did God ensure this response? As I said this is a small example, I could have started in Gen. 3:15.

    Tell you what, I will respond to this when you respond specifically to the points I made in my post. Does that sound fair?

    There are other points you make, I would love to address here, and I will if you give me permission, however if I do so now this will become lengthy.

    You don’t need permission. That is the point of these threads. And if it is on point I don’t care how lengthy it becomes. But I will insist that you address my points as well. In other threads you have largely ignored many points that would challenge your own view.

    Therefore, let me give you what I believe the Biblical order of salvation is.

    So are you suggesting that my view is unbiblical?

    Those He foreknew, He predestined, those He predestined, He called, those He called, He justified, those He justified He glorified. Now I could have another lengthy discussion on what the word foreknew actually means. However, let me at this time only point out that, if you will notice all these terms are used in the past tense. In other words, it does not say, those He foreknows, or those He predestines, rather all these terms are in the past tense as though they have already happened, before any response.

    I don’t have a problem with any of that. But will you deny that faith is a response in any way? If you deny it is a response, then what is it? If you want to continue to say that this passage has no reference to any response and yet admit that faith is a response, then how is it that Paul says they were “justified?” The Bible couldn’t be clearer on the point that justification is “by faith.” If justification happened “before any response” and faith is a response, then you would be saying that justification precedes faith as well. Surely you don’t believe that. So if faith is a response in any way, then a response is plainly implied by this passage, correct?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  133. Jack,

    If you have the time please read through some of the comments already made on this thread. I know there are a lot, but so many common objections by Calvinists and prooftexts have already been addressed. It would save us both time if we didn’t need to cover the same ground that has already been covered in this thread.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  134. Jack, you said “Therefore, let me give you what I believe the Biblical order of salvation is. Those He foreknew, He predestined, those He predestined, He called, those He called, He justified, those He justified He glorified. Now I could have another lengthy discussion on what the word foreknew actually means. However, let me at this time only point out that, if you will notice all these terms are used in the past tense. In other words, it does not say, those He foreknows, or those He predestines, rather all these terms are in the past tense as though they have already happened, before any response.”

    It seems to me that you, like many Calvinists, really have a problem with faith. It’s like you are allergic to it or something. In your Ordo, YOU DID NOT EVEN INCLUDE FAITH!!!! You went straight from predestined (which we know you think precedes faith) to justification and even to glorification without even mentioning faith. You said very clearly that all this happened – in the past tense – before any response. Therefore you believe that a person is justified without faith. What does the Scripture say? “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith” and “Therefore being justified by faith” and “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ” and “The just shall live by faith”.

    You might say then, how can faith precede regeneration when we were dead in our trespasses, how can a dead person believe (which I think is what you were really alluding to in the previous post)? The problem is that you do not understand Arminianism and the teaching of prevenient grace. Arminians believe that we are dead in our sins and completely incapable of coming to God on our own. Which is why Arminius said:

    “In this state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.”

    Come on, be honest, did you think that Arminius said this? Or do you just conflate Arminianism with Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism like most Calvinists do? The point where we disagree with Calvinists is that this grace (or conviction, which Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would bring to the World) is resistible and that is offered to all, even those that end up lost and without Salvation. This is what the Scripture plainly teaches.

  135. @It seems to me that you, like many Calvinists

    I would again like to point out that I am not a Calvinist, I, like yourself have a issues with Calvinism.

    Having said this, let me say that at the beginning of this post it states,

    @The ordo salutis is the “order of salvation.” It focuses on the process of salvation and the logical order of that process.

    It is here I would like to focus on the word logical. Now please correct me if I am wrong here, but it seems to me that both Arminians and Calvinist, look at scripture and then come up with what they believe the logical order of the salvation process is.In other words they are using their logic to determine this process.

    Now I am familiar with the phrase, order of salvation, and I understand, that there are many Christians, and even theologians that have come up with what they believe to be the logical order of salvation. My point was that the only order I see recorded in scripture is here in Romans 8: 29-30. Therefore when you state

    @It seems to me that you, like many Calvinists, really have a problem with faith. It’s like you are allergic to it or something. In your Ordo, YOU DID NOT EVEN INCLUDE FAITH!!!! You went straight from predestined to justification and even to glorification without even mentioning faith.

    My point here is, this is not my order, rather these are the words of the Apostle Paul. So then if faith is left out here it was not left out by me, it was left out by Paul. I am also not the one who went straight from predestined to justification. Its almost as if you did not realize I was quoting a passage of scripture.

    I do not have a problem with faith. However I believe that faith is given to us. The Author to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Therefore I believe that our faith depends on Christ and not our self. In other words I understand that my salvation is not dependent on my ability to have faith, but rather on God that has created that faith in me. If my salvation depended on my ability to have faith I would most certainly be lost.

    Listen I would really like to say more but cannot at this time.

  136. Jack,

    You wrote,

    It is here I would like to focus on the word logical. Now please correct me if I am wrong here, but it seems to me that both Arminians and Calvinist, look at scripture and then come up with what they believe the logical order of the salvation process is.In other words they are using their logic to determine this process.

    Jack, am I wrong to say that you have made it clear that you believe regeneration must precede faith? Did you use your logic to determine that? You seem to want to say that we need to just assume Paul is giving us the ordo salutis and that should be how we see it, yet you don’t seem to notice that Paul says nothing of the new birth preceding faith in this passage (see below). So it is hard to see what your point is here. Where did you get the idea that regeneration precedes faith in this specific passage? (BTW, I can show you where Paul puts faith before new life in many places in this very chapter).

    My point here is, this is not my order, rather these are the words of the Apostle Paul. So then if faith is left out here it was not left out by me, it was left out by Paul. I am also not the one who went straight from predestined to justification. Its almost as if you did not realize I was quoting a passage of scripture.

    I have a feeling he did, but even if he didn’t his point still stands. Faith is plainly implied since Scripture (and Paul especially) is so clear that justification is by faith. This what I said to you in my response that you did not address yet. Here it is again,

    I don’t have a problem with any of that. But will you deny that faith is a response in any way? If you deny it is a response, then what is it? If you want to continue to say that this passage has no reference to any response and yet admit that faith is a response, then how is it that Paul says they were “justified?” The Bible couldn’t be clearer on the point that justification is “by faith.” If justification happened “before any response” and faith is a response, then you would be saying that justification precedes faith as well. Surely you don’t believe that. So if faith is a response in any way, then a response is plainly implied by this passage, correct?

    I am still interested in how you will answer this.

    Maybe Paul wasn’t trying to express a comprehensive order of salvation, or maybe he was just focusing on God’s actions while assuming our responses throughout (since faith is plainly implied). Really, it is not much different than what I said in the post, since faith is not really part of salvation, but the God ordained condition for receiving salvation. You will also notice that Paul does not include regeneration or sanctification in this verse (or election, or adoption for that matter). So do you conclude from that that regeneration and sanctification are not parts of the salvation process? Hopefully, you are beginning to see the problem with the way you are trying to use this passage.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  137. BTW, you have still not addressed the subject manner of this post and the theological problems that are created by the Calvinist ordo.

    Therefore I believe that our faith depends on Christ and not our self. In other words I understand that my salvation is not dependent on my ability to have faith, but rather on God that has created that faith in me.

    I can agree with all of this. The only difference is that I don’t see God as causing faith in believers in an irresistible manner, nor do I see that anywhere in Scripture. That is why we say that God enables and empowers us to have faith. Again, it is as if you haven’t been paying attention to what we have been saying. If God has to enable and empower us to put faith in Him, then it is not dependent on our “ability” is it? Rather, because we do not have this ability, God must enable that faith response. You should really take a careful look at this post by JCT,

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/the-fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-fallacy-2-arminianism-entails-salvation-by-inherent-ability/

    The whole series is excellent.

    Also, there is probably a better way to understand the Hebrews passage as I explained in another thread. But even if we take it as you do, it poses no problem for Arminianism when Arminianism is properly understood.

  138. I have been told on another thread.

    There comes a point where it does get a little frustrating to keep fielding and answering questions.

    To this I will say again, please do not feel as if any have to waste their time responding. However when I am responded to I am compelled to respond. I have also been accused of not answering all questions that have been posed to me. Therefore, I intend to answer all from this point forward, even though it may take some time, so ask away. Having said this I see that you all have responded to my last response, however I did not have time to completely respond to JPC, so at this time I would like to complete this response. One more point before I do this. If you all would rather I stop responding, all you have to do is request this, and I will surely honor this request with no further communication. Otherwise, as I said you do not have to respond to me, and that will be fine as well. Also I, would think that you all have the capability, to block me from responding, and this would also be fine with me.

    Now to attempt to complete my response to JPC, you have given me a quote here by Arminius, which was,

    In this state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace.”

    The words wounded, maimed, and infirm, here I would disagree with, however, the words bent, imprisoned, lost, and destroyed, I can agree with depending on what is inferred by these terms. The former terms leave room for Divine assistance, where the latter require Divine rescue. Therefore, I am not surprised at all that this was a quote by Arminius, and this is where I see our division. As I have said in the past, I do not believe we need God’s help toward our salvation rather, I believe, we need Divine rescue.

    @ do you just conflate Arminianism with Pelagianism or Semi-Pelagianism like most Calvinists do

    To this I will say again, I am not a Calvinist, I believe I have said this a number of times. I have also said that I have issues with Calvinism, one of which you bring up here, in that I would agree with you that the offer of salvation is made to all.

  139. Jack, you said “To this I will say again, please do not feel as if any have to waste their time responding.”

    Nobody is wasting their time. Hopefully, we are all here for the same reason which is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. I think that problems can arise when one of these happens:

    A. In your response to a post, you do not engage with the actual points made by Ben or JCT but rather go off on something unrelated.

    B. When your responses are questioned, you don’t answer and move on to something else.

    You said “I am not a Calvinist, I believe I have said this a number of times.”

    I think that I, along with others are having a hard time understanding where you are coming from. You are using many of the arguments that Calvinists use yet you say that you are not a Calvinist. For clarification, how many of the 5 points of Calvinism do you adhere to? That would be helpful in these discussions if we knew exactly where you were coming from.

    You said regarding Arminius’ quote “The words wounded, maimed, and infirm, here I would disagree with, however, the words bent, imprisoned, lost, and destroyed, I can agree with depending on what is inferred by these terms.”

    I don’t think that you understood the quote. What Arminius meant is that man’s will is imprisoned, lost, and destroyed which is why he went past the milder terms to these which are much more extreme in describing man in his sinful condition.

    You said “Therefore, I am not surprised at all that this was a quote by Arminius, and this is where I see our division. As I have said in the past, I do not believe we need God’s help toward our salvation rather, I believe, we need Divine rescue.”

    Where do you see the division in this quote? You don’t believe that man’s will is imprisoned, lost and destroyed? I think that everyone here and Arminius himself would agree that man is in need of “Divine rescue” as long as you don’t mean that God forces someone to believe against their will and treats them like robots or sock puppets. Is that what you mean by “Divine rescue”?

    Also, you said that we are in need of “Divine rescue” and then you said that “the offer of salvation is made to all”. Now this places you in a dilemma:

    1. Do you believe that this “Divine rescue” is only given to the Elect and that it is an irresistible rescue? If so, how does this rescue apply to the Non-Elect that end up in hell?

    2. If the Non-Elect don’t receive this “Divine rescue”, then how can you say that “the offer of salvation is made to all”?

  140. Here is the entire quote that Jack is referring to:

    “There comes a point where it does get a little frustrating to keep fielding and answering questions, which takes time for all of us, from someone who does not return the favor, for whatever reasons. This is especially true when persistent questions seem to entirely ignore the answers that have already been given as if nothing has been said at all.”

    And here is a link to that comment and thread to give it some context:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/where-calvinism-gets-romans-9-wrong-not-of-works-means-no-conditions/#comment-7364

    Jack,

    If you really want to answer all questions now, please go back through those discussions to see what has been asked of you that has so far been ignored by you. I doubt that any of us really have the time right now to do that. For now, if you really want to field some questions, why not deal with the theological absurdities I pointed out in this post with regards to the Calvinist ordo salutis? Since you have been defending the priority of regeneration in the ordo, that would be a good place to start.

  141. The author of the article wrote: “And still another difficulty comes from trying to place sanctification in the ordo. I think most Calvinists would agree with where I have placed it here. Yet I have heard (and read) many Calvinists claim that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification. If that is the case then the Calvinist also needs to explain how one can be sanctified (made holy) prior to being justified.” How can sanctification precede justification? The way it does in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” If you can’t understand how sanctification can precede justification in the Calvinist ordo, then you can’t understand it in Paul’s. You presume to teach others and you don’t know something as simple as this?

  142. However, the Reformed version of the ordo salutis puts sanctification after justification. Notice this from monergism.com: “In the Reformed camp, the ordo salutis is 1) election, 2) predestination, 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (faith & repentance), 7) justification, 8) sanctification, and 9) glorification.” (Source: http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Ordo-Salutis/).

  143. Mr. Roberts,

    I don’t think that Paul is presenting an ordo salutis in 1 Cor. 6:11. There is no reason to think he is saying that one aspect of salvation necessarily comes before the other.

  144. Regarding the Calvinist ordo, Monergism.com is not representative of all Calvinists everywhere. However, the founder of Monergism.com, John Hendryx, told me that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification. He said regeneration is the fountainhead and sanctification is the spring that proceeds from it, and that is big trouble for his Calvinism.

    Where do you think sanctification falls in the ordo? You do know that justification involves forgiveness and the truning away of God’s wrath, correct? So please explain how we can be sanctified logically prior to being forgiven and while still under the wrath of God and the condemnation of sin? And if God can make us holy prior to forgiving us, what need is there for forgiveness?

  145. You (wrongly, I think) put sanctification before justification in your version of the Calvinist ordo (you should have obtained one from the Calvinists instead of making it up yourself) and questioned how sanctification could come before. I gave you the answer of how it could – the same way Paul put sanctification before justification. I didn’t say that Paul was writing an ordo salutis in 1 Corinthians 6:11, I was simply answering the question of how it’s POSSIBLE to put sanctification before justification. (In Paul’s case, sanctification refers only to God setting people apart as holy for His use, not the life-long process we know as sanctification). If we view sanctification in your version of the Calvinist ordo as referring only to God setting people apart for Himself (as in 1 Corinthians 6:11), then I really don’t see how it’s a problem if that occurs before justification, since it is God’s action and not ours. I don’t see a problem with God setting His elect apart and then saving them.

    Personally, I think that the version of the ordo I pasted from monergism.com (which, I agree, is not representative of all Calvinists; for that matter, my own views are not representative of all Calvinists, e.g., I believe in credo-baptism instead of paedo-baptism) is the correct order if we take sanctification as referring to the life-long process of being conformed to the image of Christ. So, I’m rejecting your placement of sanctification before justification in that sense.

    As for John Hendryx, regeneration must necessarily be where it starts because without it there is no spiritual life (that whole “dead in trespasses and sins” thing). Dead people cannot will themselves to life.

    I think part of the problem for you seems to be that maybe you’re looking at these as actual steps that occur one after the other. Many of us see at least regeneration, conversion and justification as occurring pretty much simultaneously.

  146. Mr. Roberts,

    You wrote,

    You (wrongly, I think) put sanctification before justification in your version of the Calvinist ordo (you should have obtained one from the Calvinists instead of making it up yourself) and questioned how sanctification could come before.

    I did no such thing. Did you read the post? Look at the Calvinist ordo again. You will clearly see that justification precedes sanctification in the Calvinist ordo. The section you quoted had reference to an apparent inconsistency in the Calvinist ordo. While Calvinists typically put sanctification after justification- and rightly so- many also speak of regeneration as the beginning of sanctification, hence the problem.

    I gave you the answer of how it could – the same way Paul put sanctification before justification. I didn’t say that Paul was writing an ordo salutis in 1 Corinthians 6:11, I was simply answering the question of how it’s POSSIBLE to put sanctification before justification.

    But if Paul was not giving an ordo salutis in 1 Corinthians, then it does not show how it is possible for sanctification to precede justification. Also, your language was a little stronger than just suggesting a possibility in your initial comments where you wrote, “If you can’t understand how sanctification can precede justification in the Calvinist ordo, then you can’t understand it in Paul’s. You presume to teach others and you don’t know something as simple as this?”

    Personally, I think that the version of the ordo I pasted from monergism.com (which, I agree, is not representative of all Calvinists; for that matter, my own views are not representative of all Calvinists, e.g., I believe in credo-baptism instead of paedo-baptism) is the correct order if we take sanctification as referring to the life-long process of being conformed to the image of Christ. So, I’m rejecting your placement of sanctification before justification in that sense.

    Again, I did not place it there. Look again at the post.

    As for John Hendryx, regeneration must necessarily be where it starts because without it there is no spiritual life (that whole “dead in trespasses and sins” thing). Dead people cannot will themselves to life.

    I don’t think you are really grasping the problem. How do you suppose we can have spiritual life logically prior to being forgiven of the sins that cause spiritual death? How do you suppose we can have spiritual life prior to union with the source of life (Christ), which comes by faith? How do you suppose that we can enjoy new spiritual life prior to being filled with the Spirit of life, Who is received by faith?

    As for spiritual death, where do you see in Scripture that spiritual death has reference to the inability of a physical corpse? I suggest you read some of the following posts:

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/05/15/what-can-the-dead-in-sin-do/

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/09/07/john-fletcher-on-being-dead-in-sin/

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/fletcher-on-being-dead-in-sin-part-2/

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/does-regeneration-precede-faith/

    http://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/paul-washer%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%93-%e2%80%9cdoctrine%e2%80%9d-of-election-an-arminian-critique/

    I think part of the problem for you seems to be that maybe you’re looking at these as actual steps that occur one after the other. Many of us see at least regeneration, conversion and justification as occurring pretty much simultaneously.

    Again, I addressed that in the post specifically. We are dealing with logical order and the logical order matters. If logical order didn’t matter, you wouldn’t insist that regeneration precedes faith. I find it interesting that so many Calvinists insist that regeneration must precede faith, but then when serious problems are brought up by Arminians concerning the theological ramifications of placing regeneration first, they suddenly try to down play the significance of the logical sequence. I suppose the logical order only matters when it supports Calvinism and becomes meaningless when it refutes Calvinism. That seems like a problem to me.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  147. HI all,

    Have not read through every detail of every preceding post, so apologies if any comments are duplications of what has already been said.

    Surely the Bible is quite clear on where Faith comes from, because it is clearly stated in Rom 10:17 it comes from hearing the word of God. Christians are not alone in exercising faith, but saving faith comes only from the word of God. The passage goes on to explain that not everybody accepts this word of faith. Well that certainly gels with our experience doesn’t it! But there is no suggestion that this faith is irresistible.

  148. Andrew,

    Excellent point. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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