Resistible Grace or Sinless Perfection? A Call For Theological Precision in The Calvinist Accounting of Monergistic Conversion

 A recent question in the ??Questions?? thread reminded me of an issue I raised long ago [1].  I thought it would be beneficial to raise this question again in more detail and maybe get some feedback from any Calvinists out there that may be able to come up with a satisfying answer.

The question has to do with why, in Calvinism, the newly regenerated sinner necessarily turns to Christ in faith [2].  Calvinists tend to bristle at the suggestion that the newly regenerated sinner chooses Christ in such a way that the choice cannot be considered free.  Most Calvinists still want to speak of the process in terms of freedom.  They tell us that such a person, once regenerated, will be motivated by the new nature created within and as a result recognize the beauty and value of Christ in such a way that this person will freely, in accordance with the new desires produced by regeneration, turn to Christ.  Calvinist John Piper illustrates the point,

The most immediate and decisive work of God in the new birth is that the new life he creates sees the superior value of Jesus over all else. And with no lapse of time at all, this spiritual sight of the superior value of Jesus results in receiving Jesus as the Treasure that he is. (source)

My question pertains to how this faith response can be a theological certainty given the remaining presence of the sinful nature?  Unless the sinful nature is wholly overcome or eradicated, what is to prevent the regenerated sinner from yielding instead to the desires and motives still remaining in the sinful nature, and reject Christ?

Many Calvinists seem comfortable with the idea that the sinful nature is at least wholly overcome when the sinner is regenerated.  This would explain how the regenerated sinner might be said to “freely choose” Christ without the possibility remaining of the desires of the flesh interfering in the process [3].  But if that is the case, why is it that the sinful nature is able to overcome the godly desires of the regenerated nature and produce sin in the regenerate post conversion?

It seems to me that for the Calvinist to be consistent, he should hold to a view of sinless perfection from the moment of initial regeneration onward, a view of entire sanctification that would even make the strictest Wesleyan uncomfortable.  There should never again be a moment when the regenerated believer chooses again in accordance with the sinful nature.  If the sinful nature and its desires are wholly overcome at the point of initial regeneration, why should that change?  Unless the believer ceases to be regenerated, there should be no reason for the believer to ever sin again [5].  Sin should no longer be possible.  But Calvinists do not believe this.  It is contrary to both Scripture and reality.

This is likely the reason why some Calvinists are even comfortable in saying that while initial conversion is monergistic, sanctification is synergistic (which creates further difficulties for both Calvinist theology and Calvinist polemics: see here and here).  But I have yet to see an explanation as to why this should be the case, given the Calvinist assumptions on how the newly regenerated nature apparently operates to guarantee the person will “freely choose” Christ.

So it seems to me that the Calvinist has some issues to work out.  If the newly regenerated nature does not wholly overcome the sinful nature, guaranteeing a positive response to Christ, then it can only be said to enable the sinner to choose between competing motives.  If that is the case, then Calvinism will quickly find its accounting of initial conversion to have no practical difference from that of  Arminian prevenient grace.  Irresistible grace suddenly becomes resistible, in which case we gladly welcome the Calvinist to the Arminian camp.

On the other hand, if the Calvinist wants to maintain that the regenerated nature eradicates or wholly overcomes the sinful nature, they need to explain how or why this should suddenly change after initial regeneration so that the regenerated nature’s desires are often overcome, evidenced by the sinful choices that believers still occasionally make after conversion [6].  If the Calvinist answer is to make sanctification synergistic, then the Calvinist needs to also explain how synergistic sanctification isn’t sanctification “by works” in accordance with the Calvinist charge that Arminian synergistic conversion amounts to salvation “by works”? 

Conclusion

In light of the above questions and potential inconsistencies created by the Calvinist accounting of the conversion process, there is need for theological precision on the part of the Calvinist regarding the specifics of the claim that regeneration causes faith in the sinner.  There is especially need for precision regarding the claim that regeneration causes the sinner to “freely” embrace Christ. It is not that this issue, in general, necessarily presents an impossible or fatal problem for Calvinism (though the specific claim that we can “freely” choose something that has been predetermined or necessitated is incoherent, see footnote # 3 below), but it does mean the Calvinist has some explaining to do as to how their view makes sense, and at the very least, exposes a need for Calvinists who make such arguments to be more careful and precise in explaining how and why regeneration causes faith in the sinner, as well as explaining how and why this process should change post conversion.

[Note: Some necessary revisions have been made in the conclusion since its original posting.]

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[1] See the last two paragraphs of my post, Fletcher on Being “Dead in Sin” Part 2

[2] I refer to the person as a “regenerated sinner” for the sake of illustrating that we are speaking of the regenerated person logically prior to coming to faith.

[3] See my post, The Reality of Choice and the Testimony of Scripture, for why I find the language of choice to be wholly incompatible with Calvinist determinism.

[4] Here it is proper to speak of the regenerated person as a believer rather than a sinner since we are now focusing on the person’s state after regeneration has produced faith.  Strangely, if my observations are correct, the Calvinist might be forced to view the will of the regenerated “unbeliever” as stronger than the will of the regenerated “believer”.  This makes one wonder why faith should not be considered a detriment to the person’s ability to resist sin, which is obviously in sharp disagreement with the testimony of Scripture (e.g., Eph. 6:16; 1 John 5:4; Acts 26:18).

[5] In fact, it is often Calvinists who tend to emphasize the Christian’s weakness as a sinner (e.g., see the typical Calvinist interpretation of Romans 7).  I have often interacted with Calvinists who claim that Christians sin “a thousand times a day”, or something similar.

[6] See my post, Sanctification by Works?   It should also be noted that Calvinists seem to view resistible grace as no grace at all.  For this reason, Calvinists say that Arminians deny salvation by grace because Arminians see such saving grace as resistible.  But if the Calvinist holds to synergistic sanctification then the Calvinist must admit that resistible grace is no less grace than irresistible grace.  If that is the case, the Calvinist insistence that Arminianism does not teach salvation by grace is shown to be completely baseless.  Sadly,  Calvinists seem to keep ignoring such obvious inconsistencies and continue to libel Arminiansm as a system of “works salvation.”

90 Responses

  1. It’s a mystery.

    Lol.

  2. Would it make sense to say that the regenerated will is such that it irresistibly chooses Christ for salvation but may still at times disobey His commands?

    I think “4-point” Arminians would say this about our post-conversion life.

  3. Easy. Because the Bible says so. The Bible clearly represents monergistic regeneration, but also holds that we still sin after re-birth. Anything beyond that is speculation.

  4. Tom,

    You are probably correct. Strange that God would irresistibly preserve our faith, but not irresistibly cause our obedience.

  5. I don’t think that Tom’s suggestion makes too much sense. It might be logically possible, but it sounds like special pleading. Why would the regenerated will have such a character as to irresistibly cause obedience to the gospel charge, but not any other command of God?

    As for 4 point Arminians, they do not necessarily say the same thing about post conversion life. They hold that people can freely begin to believe in Christ, but believers cannot turn away from the faith because God won’t let them. I think Ben is right to observe, “Strange that God would irresistibly preserve our faith, but not irresistibly cause our obedience.” But that is still different than saying that the regenerated nature irresistibly causes them to choose Christ for salvation but not for other things. In the 4 point Arminian scheme, disallowing them to turn away is God’s action. It is different than saying the new nature irresistibly overcomes the old nature to believe but not for any other obedience. 4 point Arminians who would chalk it up to the new nature rather than additional, specific action of God might find themselves in the same trouble as Calvinists on this question.

    That being said, let me say that it is nonsense to speak of being irresistibly caused to choose Christ (or anything), since in the case of irresistible causation, there is no choice.

  6. “In the 4 point Arminian scheme, disallowing them to turn away is God’s action. It is different than saying the new nature irresistibly overcomes the old nature to believe but not for any other obedience.”

    That makes sense more sense than what I was suggesting. Thanks for the response.

  7. Jon,

    What do you mean by monergistic regeneration? I hold to monergistic regeneration in the sense that God alone is the one who regenerates us (we do not regenerate ourselves), but that does not mean that God’s act of regeneration isn’t conditioned on faith. If you mean that God irresistibly and unconditionally regenerates us unto faith, then to say the Bible “clearly represents” that view is quite wild in my opinion. I certainly have never seen such a concept “clearly” represented in Scripture. Not even close.

    If your answer to the rest is “I don’t know, and I don’t need to know”, then that is fine with me. You are just not interested in the theological precision this post calls for. As for speculation, in another thread you asked me why saints cannot apostatize in heaven. You do know that is largely a matter of speculation right?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  8. Here are my thoughts.

    Question 1: How can a faith response be a theological certainty given the remaining presence of the sinful nature?

    Answer: According to Determinism, God scripts all thoughts (past, present and future), as part of the “total plan” of an immutable, comprehensive eternal decree, without which, the C-God could not possess infallible knowledge of all things yet to be.

    Question 2: What is to prevent the regenerated sinner from yielding instead to the desires and motives still remaining in the sinful nature, and reject Christ?

    Answer: Because their thoughts are allegedly scripted. Everything is predestined…thought, word and deed, throughout eternity, and hence, it is an *extremely controlled environment,* with the divine illusion of freedom, all for the purpose of displaying a variety of divine attributes.

    You wrote: Initial conversion is monergistic whereas sanctification is synergistic.

    That would actually be an illusion created by the deterministic paradigm, as it only appears synergistic, when yet everything is monergistic, even sin, and hence, the charge that C is the author of sin: stands. (This is where a clever C will “prove” that 1+1=3 and show that the C-God is not the author of what He scripts.)

    I don’t believe that any of this reflects the true God of the Bible, but merely represents the pagan philosophy of Determinism superimposed on Scripture.

  9. 100% of all your objections to Calvinism (collectively) is that you are implicitly trying to hang on to the same creature and save that creature. You don’t have any actual regeneration going on, just a change of ‘salvation status’ of the same creature with the same heart, same mind and same speech ( the speech that God broke up at the tower of Babel).

    Additionally, you have a false concept of predestination and election that you call ‘determinism’. The determinism of philosophy and which is spoken and understood by the mind that thinks the speech God broke up at Babel can understand God has nothing to do with Christ Jesus or new creation. You are all standing outside regeneration, pontificating about what it might be like if you, supposedly in freedom, ‘choose’ to do …whatever is necessary for a free willed entity to do to be reborn. You can’t regenerate yourself. Period.

    In Christ, we are free FROM that problem. In the speech God broke up at Babel, you are not. Freedom FROM sin is just as important as freedom TO DO good. You poke fun at Calvinism because you are slaves to the speech that is not Christ AND you think your speech, the speech which cannot create anything, is the only speech in total reality. You are effectively equating the speech God broke up at Babel, human speech, with Christ ..which is the unforgiveable sin.
    Granted, all men do that by default as a consequence of being fallen in the speech of the serpent, the speech God broke up at Babel. But you have hope in Christ to be non-metaphorically born again as a new/different creature and the committing of the unforgivable sin attributed to the old creature. That, and the separation from sin is WHY you must be born again.

    As of your last post, you are just going around in circles, making sense to yourselves and on your way to the lake of fire. You didn’t get this far and complicated in your objections against Christ and new creation for yourselves and never hear the real gospel.

    Question: How does an arminian get out of/escape human speech? He/she doesn’t. They don’t want to. Human speech and the common sense of a non-creating paradigm is the only speech in which arminianism/free will makes sense.

    Your speech makes sense to you. Christ as Word of God makes sense to those of us who have actually been born again by hearing the Word of God.

    Luke-54 11:52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

    In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

  10. ccr,

    I am sorry, but I just can’t make any sense of your comments. Like you say, your speech may make sense to you, but to me it is incoherent. That is too bad coming from someone with a moniker of “christianclarityreview”. We will just have to agree to disagree since it is clear to me that we simply will not be able to understand each other. However, I would strongly caution you against saying I am going to the lake of fire, etc., just because we disagree on Calvinism/Arminianism. Just curious, is their anyone out there besides you who knows the “real gospel?” You can consider that a rhetorical question.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  11. Richard,

    I agree. It was more of an exercise in showing that their claim that we choose Christ “freely” after regeneration is inaccurate.

  12. Kangaroo,

    You said: “What do you mean by monergistic regeneration? I hold to monergistic regeneration in the sense that God alone is the one who regenerates us (we do not regenerate ourselves), but that does not mean that God’s act of regeneration isn’t conditioned on faith.”

    Where in Scripture do you find that REGENERATION is conditioned on faith? How could a spiritually dead person choose to place their faith in God? How could a dead person see the light?

    And if you say prevenient grace, I will simply ask why you chose God and not your neighbor. If you were wiser, humbler, etc., then you believe you merited your salvation somehow.

  13. Jon,

    Thanks for sharing this novel Calvinist argument. I have never heard it before (wink, wink). Would you like me to direct you to the numerous posts at this blog that address these comments?

    Let me briefly address the last part. You say that you hold to synergistic sanctification. Is that correct? So how is it that synergistic conversion means we merit salvation (according to you), but synergistic sanctification doesn’t mean we merit sanctification? Does everyone progress in synergistic sanctification the same way? Suppose you are more sanctified than a fellow brother who got saved at the same time you did. Is that because you are wiser, humbler, etc.? If two believers have the grace to endure temptation (1 Cor. 10:13) and one gives in while the other stands strong, does the one who stands strong have reason to boast over the one that fell? Was it because he or she was more wise, humble, etc.?

    Anyway, you said the Bible clearly taught that regeneration precedes faith. So the burden of proof is on you. Just where exactly is that “clearly” taught? And while you are at it, please show me the Scripture that correlates spiritual death with the inability of a physical corpse.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  14. Jon,

    Regarding your last point, the Bible never makes a rebuke against those who claim that since they freely believed in Christ (apart from monergistic preemptive regeneration) have thusly established their own “merit.” This is an extra-biblical, philosophical argument, super-imposed upon Scripture by those who have an extra-biblical agenda. No offense. I’m just saying that your point is not Scripturally based.

    Regarding your first point, you correctly answered Prevenient Grace.

    Regarding your second point, in terms of why one person chooses one way, while another person chooses another way, why do you believe that Adam & Eve (two perfectly sinless creatures) choose to misuse their freedom and fall? Why did the woman first choose to disobey, and then her husband second? They did not have total depravity. So how do you account for their free choices, apart from the same type of free-will that Arminians espouse?

  15. CCR,

    You wrote: “Additionally, you have a false concept of predestination and election that you call ‘determinism’.”

    You asserted that your view of predestination was unlike the philosophy of determinism, but making that assertion is all that you did. You never explained how you can distinguish the two.

    Note: you cannot say that whereas Determinism in philosophy is devoid of God, Predestination in Calvinism is based upon God, since the early Determinists absolutely affirmed God’s hand in Determinism (see Aristotle, Plotinus, the Gnostics, ect., all who affirmed divine causation. These were not evolutionists.)

    Arminians would like to know how Calvinists distinguish their theological Predestination from philosophical Determinism. Both systems have “God” doing the predestining and determining, and both systems believe that nothing is left *un-determined.* So where is the difference between the two?

    Further, if you believe that one must become a Calvinist in order to become saved, then you have added something extra to the gospel, and which the Bible says will surely bring a curse. So do you wish to clarify?

    P.S. Your comments on “Babel” did not make a shred of sense. It was totally incoherent.

  16. Richard,

    How would you distinguish your indeterminism from that of pagan philosophy?

    (Ps. of course I don’t agree with ccr on Arminians being unsaved.)

  17. Richard,

    You said: “the Bible never makes a rebuke against those who claim that since they freely believed in Christ (apart from monergistic preemptive regeneration) have thusly established their own “merit.” ”

    Well, of course not, since it never assumes unregenerate people choosing God! Your statement is pure question-begging. You insert your definition of people believing and then say the Bible never rebukes it. But see, the Bible says that we are saved by faith ALONE, apart from works. It also says that the entire package of salvation, including saving faith, is a GIFT of God (Eph. 2:8). But if your system is true, then you can claim some merit in salvation since you chose God while your neighbor rejected him (a point Kangaroo conveniently ignored).

    You can push the question back to the fall all you want (and we can talk about the fall and how Arminianism doesn’t explain it), but that it not the issue. We are not talking about unfallen beings here. We are talking about totally depraved persons who are spiritually dead. How in the world can a pagan DESIRE God? Especially in light of Romans 3 and Romans 8:7-8.

  18. Kangaroo,

    You said: “So how is it that synergistic conversion means we merit salvation (according to you), but synergistic sanctification doesn’t mean we merit sanctification?”

    Because sanctification doesn’t MERIT anything – it was never meant to. Only Christ can merit our salvation and we receive this by faith when his righteousness is imputed to us. After we are born again and joined to Christ through faith, THEN we will live lives of progressive holiness. This holiness is not the GROUNDS of our salvation, our justification is. You must distinguish between justification and sanctification, and the roles of each.

    PS. Yes, I would love you to show me where my first question has been answered.

  19. Jon,

    1) Actually the Bible does assume “unregenerate people choosing God.” See Paul’s sermon to the pagan Athenians at Acts 17:26-27: “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, ***that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us***.” That is the norm, and based upon that norm, no Bible writer ever raised the Calvinist objection, which tells me that the Calvinist objection is an extra-biblical fabrication.

    2) My definition of “people believing” is simply the natural reading, whereas the Calvinist reading is that people must be “in Christ” in order to believe in Christ.

    3) The Bible says that we are saved by faith alone, but…without ever saying that faith “can be a meritorious work if we believe that faith comes apart from irresistible, secret regeneration.” Calvinists like to try to equate faith as a “work” if done apart from irresistible grace, but again, that’s an extra-biblical objection. Did the apostles simply not have time to address it?

    4) At Eph 2:8, salvation is the “gift” of God, through faith, just as eternal life is the free gift of God: “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

    4) While you repeat that I can claim some merit, I repeat that this is a fabricated objection, since no Bible verse ever raises your objection.

    5) Arminianism beautifully explains the Fall, which Calvinists like RC Sproul has admitted that he cannot explain why Adam fell. RC Sproul: “But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know.” (Chosen By God, p.31)

    6) You wanted to know why a pagan would ever desire God, and 1) I would point to the power of the Gospel, and 2) the Holy Spirit’s kicking and goading upon the unregenerate heart, just as Paul described at Acts 26:14.

    7) Regarding indeterminism, I cite the church fathers in opposition to the Gnostic determinists, in which Irenaeus (30-200 AD) quoted Matthew 23:37: “This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God…And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice…If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things and to abstain from others?” (Against Heresies XXXVII, Book 4, Ch. 37) Furthermore, I would cite Matthew 25:41 as a basis for indeterminism, because Jesus said that Hell was made for the devil and his angels, with no mention of any alleged “non-elect” people, so I can say that on the authority of Jesus that this means that Hell was not *determined* for man, but that according to the context, man will go there too, if man rebels against God like the devil and his angels did. That’s indeterminism.

    I cannot convince you, though, because committed Calvinists absolutely love and revere Calvinism, and they loathe any kind of Savior who does not predetermine “whatsoever comes to pass.” Calvinists have described the Arminian concept of God and Jesus to me as a “pitiable wimp,” “cosmic bellhop,” “great grandfather in the sky,” “incompetent,” “unhappy” and who “waits impotently at the door of a man’s heart.” So if that’s what you think too, then what can be accomplished here?

  20. I wonder to what degree that God has called Christians to argue over theology. The Bible says to give a defense for what you believe, and I do not accept the witness of Calvinists regarding Calvinism. I think it’s Satan’s masterpiece, and I wouldn’t wish Calvinism on my worst enemy, let alone my Christian brothers. I think that at some point, you need to just state your testimony & defense, and leave it at that, and anything more than that is evil.

  21. Jon,

    You wrote:

    You said: “So how is it that synergistic conversion means we merit salvation (according to you), but synergistic sanctification doesn’t mean we merit sanctification?”

    Because sanctification doesn’t MERIT anything – it was never meant to.

    Somehow you have seemed to entirely miss the point. If synergism in sanctification does not equate to sanctification by works, then synergism in intitial conversion (we believe as God enables us) does not equate to salvation by works. In other words, if we can be sanctified synergistically (and sanctification is by faith), and it not be of works, then we can be converted synergistically, and it not be of works. To say “sanctification doesn’t merit anything-it was never meant to” does not address the inconsistency. Likewise, I can just say “faith doesn’t merit anything-it was never meant to.” And that is correct. But you have asserted that if salvation is conditioned on faith, it must be of works (merit). Why not apply that assertion to sanctification?

    Only Christ can merit our salvation and we receive this by faith when his righteousness is imputed to us.

    Exactly! We receive the merit of His salvation by faith. By faith we receive a free and undeserved gift from God. That is why it is not of works, and that is why it excludes boasting. We do not earn it, we just receive the free unearned, undeserved gift through simple trust in Christ to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves- save us (Romans 4). Any nonsense about grace not being grace unless it is irresistible, or a gift not being a gift unless it is irresistible, is Calvinist philosophy imposed on the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible say such things.

    After we are born again and joined to Christ through faith, THEN we will live lives of progressive holiness.

    First, we are joined to Christ and His spiritual life by faith (Eph. 1:13). We recieve the Spirit of life by faith (Galatians 3:2, 5, 14; Rom. 8:1-16). The righteousness that imparts life is recieved by faith (Romans 5:15-21; 8:10). We are children of God by faith (Gal. 3:26-29; John 1:12, 13). Therefore, faith plainly precedes regeneration (new spiritual life; becoming God’s children).

    Second, is our progressive holiness synergistic? You said it was before. So do we progress in holiness by works, according to your own claims about synergism equating to works in conversion?

    This holiness is not the GROUNDS of our salvation, our justification is.

    I never claimed otherwise, but I would say it is more accurate to say that Christ is the grounds of our salvation. But it seems you have latched onto something important here, recognizing the importance of justification logically preceding holiness. We can’t become holy until we are forgiven and justified. Neither can we expereince new spiritual life while still in our sins and under the condemnation of the death that our sins cause in us. Sin must first be removed and the blood of Christ applied before new life and holiness can begin. In other words, justification must logically precede regeneration and sanctification. Since justification is by faith, it follows that faith must logically precede regenration.

    You must distinguish between justification and sanctification, and the roles of each.

    See above. You must distinguish between justification and regeneration and recognize the necessary priority of justification in the ordo salutis. When you do that you will see why claiming that regeneration precedes faith creates numerous theological absurdities.

    PS. Yes, I would love you to show me where my first question has been answered.

    Here are a few to get you started:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/the-arminian-and-calvinist-ordo-salutis-a-brief-comparative-study/

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

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

    https://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/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/03/10/parallel-passages-on-regeneration/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/02/19/examining-inconsistencies-in-calvinistic-monergism-part-2-sanctification/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/sanctification-by-works/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/synergism-as-a-model-for-gods-glory/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/the-fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-%e2%80%93-fallacy-10-wait-now-faith-is-a-work/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/the-fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-%e2%80%93-fallacy-9-faith-is-some-reason-to-boast/

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

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/06/12/the-fallacies-of-calvinist-apologetics-fallacy-1-if-we-have-libertarian-free-will-what-makes-us-choose-one-way-or-the-other/

    That should keep you busy for a while.

    God bless,
    Ben

  22. But see, the Bible says that we are saved by faith ALONE, apart from works. It also says that the entire package of salvation, including saving faith, is a GIFT of God (Eph. 2:8). But if your system is true, then you can claim some merit in salvation since you chose God while your neighbor rejected him (a point Kangaroo conveniently ignored).

    Jon,

    First, you are not really in a position to be complaining about things being conveniently ignored, as you have conveniently ignored a great deal in our discussions so far (like how I had just asked you to produce a single passage of Scripture that correlates spiritual death with the inability of a physical corpse).

    Second, I answered you with the same question regarding two believers who resist temptation or fall to it in order to get you to see how your question is problematic. Maybe you missed that part, or just conveniently ignored it. Let me try again. If one believer resists temptation while another does not, can the one believer claim some sort of “merit” in resisting temptation since he resisted while his fellow believer did not?

    For more on this, I left several links to posts (above) that address this in more detail.

  23. Kangaroo,

    Your posts are very long, so if I missed anything, it was not intentional. However, you took the time to scoff at my question, but never answered it, so it looked like you were ignoring it.

    As for your question on linking spiritual death with the inability of a corpse, this question is almost too obvious to answer. Aren’t you the one always touting taking the plain meanings of words? How many “dead” people have you seen get up out of the coffin and “choose” to love someone? Paul uses spiritual death for a reason in Ephesians 2. The onus is on you to show why death means slightly alive.

  24. It’s interesting that you quote Ephesians 1, one of the strongest election passages, to support your view. The very next verse after the one you quote speaks of God choosing us before the foundation of the world. Of course, you would say this is referring to a corporate body? But the text never indiacates that. It is talking about individual people who God has chosen for eternal life.

    Regarding your questions on justification/sanctification, here goes. Sanctification is synergistic, yet it is not of works because the Holy Spirit is working through us to empower us to do good works every step of the way. We work together, yet even the work we do is powered by the Spirit. So, I couldn’t boast to my neighbor because even the areas I may be more sanctified in (using our example) are due 100% to the HS. See, the Calvinist is not an either/or. He is not a indeterminist or a determinist (in the philosophical senses). He is a God’s Providencest :)

    In regeneration the Spirit is working completely by himself, apart from anything we do at all. He is making a dead man alive. Breathing life into our corpse. He gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. He turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. We cannot see until He opens our eyes. Regeneration MUST precede faith. “Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom 8:8 (In the flesh refers to the unregenerate.)

  25. Richard,

    1) Actually the Bible does assume “unregenerate people choosing God.” See Paul’s sermon to the pagan Athenians at Acts 17:26-27: “He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, ***that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us***.”
    Brother, this is simple question begging. You are reading your theology into the text and then concluding your theology is correct. Yes, people seek God! The Calvinist gladly agrees with this! The question is WHO seeks God and WHY? The answer is those who the Spirit draws to him. They seek him because God has opened up their eyes and given them hearts that desire him. If this is the “norm” that keeps you from considering Calvinism, then you need to rethink that.

    2) My definition of “people believing” is simply the natural reading, whereas the Calvinist reading is that people must be “in Christ” in order to believe in Christ.

    No, this is not what the Calvinist says. The Calvinist does not believe you are “in Christ” until you are joined to him by conversion (faith). However, you will never believe while you are spiritual dead. You must be made alive first.

    3) The Bible says that we are saved by faith alone, but…without ever saying that faith “can be a meritorious work if we believe that faith comes apart from irresistible, secret regeneration.” Calvinists like to try to equate faith as a “work” if done apart from irresistible grace, but again, that’s an extra-biblical objection. Did the apostles simply not have time to address it?

    Actually, the apostles addressed justification being by faith alone many times. No, they may not have addressed every particular future instance that men would devise. But ANY WORK is a WORK and not faith by definition. If you believe that your faith causes God to regenerate you (or causes him to choose you as most Arminians (but not Kangaroo) believe), then you believe in salvation by works.

    4) At Eph 2:8, salvation is the “gift” of God, through faith, just as eternal life is the free gift of God: “The free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

    Salvation is the entire package. Faith is one component of this package. The whole package is a free gift.

    4) While you repeat that I can claim some merit, I repeat that this is a fabricated objection, since no Bible verse ever raises your objection.

    5) Arminianism beautifully explains the Fall, which Calvinists like RC Sproul has admitted that he cannot explain why Adam fell. RC Sproul: “But Adam and Eve were not created fallen. They had no sin nature. They were good creatures with a free will. Yet they chose to sin. Why? I don’t know. Nor have I found anyone yet who does know.” (Chosen By God, p.31)

    Richard, please tell me how Arminianism beautifully explains the fall.
    6) You wanted to know why a pagan would ever desire God, and 1) I would point to the power of the Gospel, and 2) the Holy Spirit’s kicking and goading upon the unregenerate heart, just as Paul described at Acts 26:14.

    But isn’t the gospel equally powerful for all in your system? So why did you choose, but not your neighbor? Are you smarter, humbler, better, wiser, etc.?
    7) Regarding indeterminism, I cite the church fathers in opposition to the Gnostic determinists, in which Irenaeus (30-200 AD) quoted Matthew 23:37: “This expression, ‘How often would I have gathered thy children together, and thou wouldst not,’ set forth the ancient law of human liberty, because God made man a free (agent) from the beginning, possessing his own soul to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God…And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice…If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things and to abstain from others?” (Against Heresies XXXVII, Book 4, Ch. 37) Furthermore, I would cite Matthew 25:41 as a basis for indeterminism, because Jesus said that Hell was made for the devil and his angels, with no mention of any alleged “non-elect” people, so I can say that on the authority of Jesus that this means that Hell was not *determined* for man, but that according to the context, man will go there too, if man rebels against God like the devil and his angels did. That’s indeterminism.

    No, that’s not indeterminism. Indeterminism means there is literally no reason, no cause to be exact, for a given effect. So you might choose Jesus even if you don’t want to. Or you might choose hell even if you love Jesus. That is literally what indeterminism means. If you don’t believe me, look it up. It is a philosophical construct that does not cohere with reality.

    I cannot convince you, though, because committed Calvinists absolutely love and revere Calvinism, and they loathe any kind of Savior who does not predetermine “whatsoever comes to pass.” Calvinists have described the Arminian concept of God and Jesus to me as a “pitiable wimp,” “cosmic bellhop,” “great grandfather in the sky,” “incompetent,” “unhappy” and who “waits impotently at the door of a man’s heart.” So if that’s what you think too, then what can be accomplished here?

    Richard,

    I cannot convince you, though, because committed Arminians absolutely love and revere Arminianism, and they loathe any kind of Savior who does predetermines “whatsoever comes to pass.” Arminians have described the Calvinist concept of God and Jesus to me as “evil” and “Satanic” and “cruel” and “unfair” and “unjust” and “unloving”. So if that’s what you think too, then what can be accomplished here?

    Richard, does the reversal of the argument show you its absurdity? I am open and willing to be convinced of your system if you can simply show me that it is Biblical. Honest. I am not in love with Calvin (though he was a great theologian). I am in love with Jesus. I love that he saved me from first to last and didn’t just make my salvation a theoretical possibility. Are you willing to even consider that you may be mistaken on this important issue?

  26. Richard,

    Pursuing truth is not evil. Perhaps this attitude is what has lead to an anti-intellectual mood among evangelical Arminians. Jesus is the truth. This is important stuff. Don’t give up. You don’t have to talk to me, but keep reading and studying up on it. Have you ever read a book by a Calvinist? “Chosen by God”, by RC Sproul is a good place to start.

  27. Jon,

    You wrote,

    It’s interesting that you quote Ephesians 1, one of the strongest election passages, to support your view.

    It is interesting that you just assume this passage supports Calvinist unconditional election. That is question begging.

    The very next verse after the one you quote speaks of God choosing us before the foundation of the world.

    Oops, you forgot the “in Him” part. That creates big problems for your interpretation here.

    Of course, you would say this is referring to a corporate body? But the text never indiacates that. It is talking about individual people who God has chosen for eternal life.

    You obviously do not know much about the corporate election view. That is probably because you have only read about it from Calvinist misrepresentations. I recommend the following articles to help you gain the proper perspective on corporate election and the proper interpretation of Ephesians 1:4,

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/Abasciano-Corporate-Election-in-Romans-9:A-Reply-to-Thomas-Schreiner

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/Abasciano-Clearing-Up-Misconceptions-about-Corporate-Election

    http://evangelicalarminians.org/glynn.Dr.Brian-Abasciano-Responds-To-Dr.Dan-Wallace-On-The-Issue-Of-Corporate-Election

    Regarding your questions on justification/sanctification, here goes. Sanctification is synergistic, yet it is not of works because the Holy Spirit is working through us to empower us to do good works every step of the way. We work together, yet even the work we do is powered by the Spirit. So, I couldn’t boast to my neighbor because even the areas I may be more sanctified in (using our example) are due 100% to the HS.

    Sorry, that cannot be accurate if you are “working together.” Look at the following copy of your above paragraph with my additions:

    [Faith] is synergistic, yet it is not of works because the Holy Spirit is working through us to empower us to [believe] every step of the way. We work together, yet even the work we do is powered by the Spirit.

    A nice description of Arminian prevenient grace working to bring us to faith, but not irresistibly so.

    See, the Calvinist is not an either/or. He is not a indeterminist or a determinist (in the philosophical senses). He is a God’s Providencest

    Sorry, I can’t make any sense of this. Feel free to elaborate.

    In regeneration the Spirit is working completely by himself, apart from anything we do at all.

    I agree, but that does not mean it cannot be in response to faith, as the Scriptures everywhere testify.

    He is making a dead man alive. Breathing life into our corpse.

    I agree, but again this is in response to faith and is the result of being joined to Christ (through faith), Who is the source of spiritual life.

    He gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. He turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh. We cannot see until He opens our eyes. Regeneration MUST precede faith. “Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3. “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom 8:8 (In the flesh refers to the unregenerate.)

    See the following posts on John 3 and Ezekiel 33,

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/john-3/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/ezekiel-3626-27/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  28. Jon,

    I think you have misread Richard. I wouldn’t doubt it if he has read more from Calvinists than you have. Here is his website which interacts with numerous Calvinist writings, including Sproul’s.

    http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/index.html

    On a side note, how many Arminian books have you read?

  29. Jon,

    You wrote,

    As for your question on linking spiritual death with the inability of a corpse, this question is almost too obvious to answer. Aren’t you the one always touting taking the plain meanings of words? How many “dead” people have you seen get up out of the coffin and “choose” to love someone?

    How many corpses have you seen “resist” anything? How many corpses have you seen “reject” anything? Yet those who are dead in sin reject the gospel and resist the Holy Spirit all the time.

    I wonder what the father of the prodigal meant when he said his son was “dead?” I wonder what Jesus meant when he said the hour has “now come” when the dead “will hear” unto life (John 5:24)?

    Please see some of the posts I linked to above concerning the problems with the Calvinist understanding of “dead in sin”.

    Paul uses spiritual death for a reason in Ephesians 2. The onus is on you to show why death means slightly alive.

    Yeah, and where do you see that reason being the inability of a physical corpse?

    I will take your response as a rather “obvious” concession that you cannot produce a single passage of Scripture that correlates spiritual death with the inability of a physical corpse.

  30. Kangaroo,

    “Oops, you forgot the “in Him” part. That creates big problems for your interpretation here.”

    How? All Calvinists believe we were elected IN Christ.

    “Sorry, that cannot be accurate if you are “working together.” Look at the following copy of your above paragraph with my additions:”

    Why not? Unless, of course, you beg the question, which is what you’re doing.

    “I agree, but again this is in response to faith and is the result of being joined to Christ (through faith), Who is the source of spiritual life.”

    Please provide Scriptural backing. So, let me get this straight: We are joined to Christ, who is the author of life. We gladly choose him. So. . . why do we need to then be regenerated? What is the point? If we are already joined with Christ, wouldn’t we be alive? Are you saying that dead corpses join themselves to Christ?

  31. “How many corpses have you seen “resist” anything? How many corpses have you seen “reject” anything? Yet those who are dead in sin reject the gospel and resist the Holy Spirit all the time.”

    Right. The point is that the person’s SOUL is dead. He is dead in the sense that his eyes are blinded and his ears are deaf. He is dead in sin and trespasses. Because the person’s soul is dead, he willfully rejects and resists the gospel.

    Your only answer as to why dead men believe is prevenient grace. There’s only one minor problem with PG though – it’s not in the Bible.

    “I wonder what the father of the prodigal meant when he said his son was “dead?” I wonder what Jesus meant when he said the hour has “now come” when the dead “will hear” unto life (John 5:24)?”

    It meant that God had changed his heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ez. 11:19). It did not mean that they changed their own heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

    “Please see some of the posts I linked to above concerning the problems with the Calvinist understanding of “dead in sin”.”

    Will try to read them.

    “Yeah, and where do you see that reason being the inability of a physical corpse?
    I will take you response as a rather “obvious” concession that you cannot produce a single passage of Scripture that correlates spiritual death with the inability of a physical corpse.””

    So, let’s walk through your logic here: There is no where in Scripture that correlates spiritual death with the inability of a physical corpse, ergo, spiritual death must mean spiritually alive! Makes perfect sense! I don’t know why I never saw that.

    But as an Arminian, don’t you believe in total depravity, just as Roger Olson does? Doesn’t that mean you also believe in spiritual death? (And not spiritual death interpreted to mean spiritual life).

  32. Jon,

    Have you bothered to read any of the posts I linked too? I don’t really have time to keep going back and forth with you on this, especially when those posts address so many of your points. You wrote,

    “Oops, you forgot the “in Him” part. That creates big problems for your interpretation here.”

    How? All Calvinists believe we were elected IN Christ.

    So you were “in Christ” from eternity (the foundation of the world)?? You don’t see the problem there? Paul says there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. If the elect were “in Christ” from eternity, then they were never under condemnation. Is that what you believe?

    “Sorry, that cannot be accurate if you are “working together.” Look at the following copy of your above paragraph with my additions:”

    Why not? Unless, of course, you beg the question, which is what you’re doing.

    No, I am working with standard definitions of things like cooperation and not allowing you to say nonsense is rational, just because you say so. If you are OK with your view being irrational, then you cannot appeal to rational arguments to make your point against me.

    “I agree, but again this is in response to faith and is the result of being joined to Christ (through faith), Who is the source of spiritual life.”

    Please provide Scriptural backing. So, let me get this straight: We are joined to Christ, who is the author of life. We gladly choose him. So. . . why do we need to then be regenerated? What is the point? If we are already joined with Christ, wouldn’t we be alive? Are you saying that dead corpses join themselves to Christ?

    You really need to do some reading. Scriptural backing for what? That we are joined to Christ by faith? Eph. 1:13, for starters. Do you also need Scriptural support for Christ being the source of life? I hope not. Again, this has been covered in great detail in the posts I referred you to. You said you would be happy to read any if I provided the links, but it is obvious you haven’t.

    Spiritual corpses do not join themselves to Christ. First, the whole “spiritual corpses” language is not representative of what it means to be dead in sin, and you have yet to provide any “Scriptural backing” that it is. Second, the Holy Spirit joins us to Christ when we believe (Eph. 1:13).

  33. Jon,

    You wrote,

    How many corpses have you seen “resist” anything? How many corpses have you seen “reject” anything? Yet those who are dead in sin reject the gospel and resist the Holy Spirit all the time.”

    Right. The point is that the person’s SOUL is dead. He is dead in the sense that his eyes are blinded and his ears are deaf. He is dead in sin and trespasses. Because the person’s soul is dead, he willfully rejects and resists the gospel.

    But resisting the Holy Spirit and rejecting the gospel are spiritual things with spiritual consequences. We resist and reject with our soul and spirit. But you say our soul is dead, like a corpse. So again, how many corpses have you seen resist or reject anything?

    Your only answer as to why dead men believe is prevenient grace. There’s only one minor problem with PG though – it’s not in the Bible.

    Sure it is. We already played this game. But it is strange that you reject PG because it supposedly is “not in the Bible” but you compare spiritual death to the inability of a physical corpse without the least bit of Scriptural support. Likewise, you place regeneration before faith, when the Bible never does. Furthermore, I assume you hold to limited atonement, a doctrine that even many Calvinists admit is void of any Scriptural support.

    “I wonder what the father of the prodigal meant when he said his son was “dead?” I wonder what Jesus meant when he said the hour has “now come” when the dead “will hear” unto life (John 5:24)?”

    It meant that God had changed his heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ez. 11:19). It did not mean that they changed their own heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

    Did you read my post on Ezek. 33 I referred you to? Still, you miss the point entirely. Jesus says the dead will “hear” unto life. You say the dead can’t hear. The spiritually dead are “corpses who can’t hear” remember? So who’s right, you or Jesus? The prodigal’s father really meant that the son had a heart of stone and needed a heart of flesh? Talk about reading your theology into a text where it doesn’t belong. Rather, it is quite obviously a reference to a severed relationship, and then that relationship being restored (he was “dead”, now he is “alive”). It has nothing at all to do with inability.

    “Please see some of the posts I linked to above concerning the problems with the Calvinist understanding of “dead in sin”.”

    Will try to read them.

    That would be helpful.

    “Yeah, and where do you see that reason being the inability of a physical corpse?

    I will take you response as a rather “obvious” concession that you cannot produce a single passage of Scripture that correlates spiritual death with the inability of a physical corpse.””

    So, let’s walk through your logic here: There is no where in Scripture that correlates spiritual death with the inability of a physical corpse, ergo, spiritual death must mean spiritually alive! Makes perfect sense! I don’t know why I never saw that.

    It obviously does not mean spiritually alive, but there is no support for your contention, at all. There is tremendous support for my contention that it has reference to the results of a severed relationship (as in the prodigal) that leaves us devoid of spiritual life. The solution is to be joined to Christ, and we are joined to Him through faith. It really is not that complicated. Maybe if you get around to reading some of those posts, you will see that.

    But as an Arminian, don’t you believe in total depravity, just as Roger Olson does?

    Indeed, I do.

    Doesn’t that mean you also believe in spiritual death? (And not spiritual death interpreted to mean spiritual life).

    I absolutely believe in spiritual death. I just define it Biblically (that is, I let the Bible define what it means rather than a Calvinist theologian).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  34. The answer is easy. Regeneration which is associated with coming to faith in Calvinism or being born again does at no point mean that our sinful nature is eradicated. The sinful nature is substantially weakened and sin has no longer dominion over the person, he becomes a slave to righteousness instead of a slave to sin as he / she was prior to regeneration and Paul teaches in Romans 6. With that said even after regeneration the Reformed confessions make it abundantly clear that sin has not been eradicated, and the christian continues to sin daily. In that sense calvinism and lutheranism agree with Luther’s Heidelberg Disputations where the great Reformer proved from scripture that after regeneration christians remain simul justus et peccator, simultaneously just and sinners. The forgiveness of sin is required daily and this is why Christ in the Lord’s prayer where he advises Christians how to pray and “forgive us our trespasses” is a most important petition in the Lord’s prayer. As the tax collector said “God have mercy on me a sinner”, the calvinist agrees that this is what a christian confesses daily since he sins daily.

  35. Bill,

    You write:

    The answer is easy. Regeneration which is associated with coming to faith in Calvinism or being born again does at no point mean that our sinful nature is eradicated.

    Then how is a faith response guaranteed when a person is regenerated in Calvinism? If the sinful nature is only “weakened”, then how can it be a sure thing that faith will follow regeneration? Can’t the sinful nature, weakened though it may be, still interfere in that process?

  36. kangaroodort, regeneration does not happen apart from the preaching of the gospel and faith that follows. God uses the means of grace to regenerate a sinner, i.e. the preaching of the gospel. In regeneration or the new birth, the sinner gets a hold of Christ as his Savior, his substitute who died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin and also lived a sinless life. Christ’s perfect obedience is imputed to the sinner and Christ takes upon himself the sin of man and nails it to the cross. So basically it is a double imputation where the man’s sins are imputed to Christ and Christ’s righteousness or perfect obedience imputed to the sinner. When a sinner apprehends this wonderful exchange by faith and as a result trusts fully in Christ for salvation, in Christ’s works, not his own, he is born again. This happens when the Spirit works faith through the preaching of the word or it could be the reading of God’s word. But far from removing the filth of the flesh, in regeneration a sinner turns to Christ’s mercy. Good works always follow faith as both John Calvin and Martin Luther told. But at no point did either of the Reformers teach that as a result of regeneration we attain sinless perfection, quite the opposite regeneration happens when we stop trusting in our own works and trust fully in Christ’s work, his righteousness, for the forgiveness of all past, present, and future sins. We are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Somebody that believes in sinless perfection is actually not regenerated, since has confidence in himself, that he’s able to be sinless, while calvinism teaches the opposite that we should trust Christ, since the best works of the Saints are like filthy rags Isaiah 64:6 . True faith in a Savior requires that we acknowledge our sin both before and after salvation. Both Luther and Calvin agreed on this.

  37. Bill,

    I don’t see that your response answered my question. It was pretty straight forward. Also, you seem to go back and forth regarding the priority of faith and regeneration. Some of your comments suggest that regeneration precedes faith while other suggest that faith precedes regeneration. Which is it? If you do not hold to regeneration preceding and causing a faith response to the Gospel, then this post is not addressing a position that you hold. It was written in specific response to the view that regeneration precedes and causes faith in the elect. Did you read the post?

  38. Somebody that believes in sinless perfection is actually not regenerated, since has confidence in himself, that he’s able to be sinless, while calvinism teaches the opposite that we should trust Christ, since the best works of the Saints are like filthy rags Isaiah 64:6 .

    This doesn’t follow at all. One can believe in the possibility of sinless perfection without that meaning the person has confidence in Himself. One can hold to this while having confidence in God’s grace and power working through him to accomplish that work. Do you believe that when you are tempted you can overcome and resit that temptation by the grace of God? (1 Cor. 10:13) Can you also fall to that temptation despite God’s gracious enabling to resist and overcome? If you believe that, does that mean you have confidence in self when tempted? Of course not.

  39. Bill, you said:

    “The sinful nature is substantially weakened and sin has no longer dominion over the person, he becomes a slave to righteousness instead of a slave to sin as he / she was prior to regeneration and Paul teaches in Romans 6.”

    How does that fit with your interpretation that in Romans 7 Paul is referring to a Christian? In it he says:

    “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin…. but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”

    Sounds like according to you Paul is still a slave to sin. How can you be a slave to sin and righteosness at the same time? That is a flat contradiction.

  40. kangaroodort, I am lutheran. i do not believe regeneration precedes faith. They are both simultaneous or better regeneration follows faith, even for calvinists though regeneration precedes faith only logically but not temporally (both are simultaneous, nobody is regenerated without faith), nonetheless not all calvinists subscribe to this, and Calvin himself never taught that regeneration precedes faith even logically.

    With regard to your three questions on 1 Corinthians 10:13, there is no doubt that Christ enables us to overcome temptation in the real world, but not always. Peter denied Christ three times, and even after Pentecost Peter and Barnabas refused to eat with Gentiles for fear of the Jews Paul rebuked Peter for this Galatians 2:11 – 15 . So my answer to you is that it is impossible not to sin after salvation, we are sinners by nature and this is why we sin. We are not sinners because we sin, quite the opposite we sin because we are sinners. And the sinful nature is not eradicated by the gospel, simply weakened, but will be eradicated after judgment day when we are raised in incorruptible bodies. The redemption of the body that we all eagerly await that Paul describes in Romans 8. Christ took away the punishment of sin, but sin remains until after the resurrection. We will be delivered from the bondage of corruption (sin) but we have not been delivered yet (Romans 8:21). For now God has subjected all creation to futility (Romans 8:20) in hope that we will be delivered in the resurrection. And in this hope we were saved (Romans 8:24). Christians only have the firstfruits (Romans 8:23) but haven’t been delivered. The gospel does set us free from the law of sin and death, it takes away the curse of the law, in the day that you sin you shall surely die. We have been fully delivered from the curse of the law, the sins we daily commit are not imputed to us, they were laid on Christ. So Christ removes the penalty for sin but does not remove sin as long as we remain alive on earth. The full removal of sin is after the resurrection, but the penalty for sin has already been removed, and we can rejoice that our daily sins are forgiven forever.

  41. JPC, christians are slaves to righteousness in that they have the obedience of faith, they have cast all their cares on Jesus and as Paul says in Philippians 3:9 not having his own righteousnes (which is like dung or manure Paul teaches in the previous verse) but a righteousness received by faith, the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Christ’s perfect obedience to the father). So the flesh the old Adam or sinful nature is a slave to sin and can’t do nothing but sin, but the new nature we receive is a slave to righteousness. So to answer your question Paul and every christian have the same struggle that he describes in Romans 7, his flesh a slave to sin and his new nature a slave to righteousness. Galatians 5:17 (ESV) summarizes what happens to a christian : “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”

  42. Bill,

    I understand that regeneration preceding faith has reference to logical order, but that order is still important. In Calvinism, regeneration not only precedes faith, but causes it (I understand that Calvin might not have held to this, but it has become a major feature of Calvinism since). That is the issue being addressed in this post. It is aimed at those who hold that regeneration precedes faith and calls on them to address some of the obvious difficulties this raises. You are offering solutions that do not correspond with the problem being described in this post, so I don’t see how your response is relevant.

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but also disagree with some as well. That’s OK. I am am fine with you holding to some things I do not. But the point of the post is pointing out a consistency problem in Calvinism. If you do not agree with Calvinism on that point, great! I don’t either.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  43. Bill, so are you saying you misspoke in your original post? You clearly said that we are no longer slaves to sin:

    ““The sinful nature is substantially weakened and sin has no longer dominion over the person, he becomes a slave to righteousness instead of a slave to sin as he / she was prior to regeneration and Paul teaches in Romans 6.”

    Then in your response to me you said:

    “his flesh a slave to sin and his new nature a slave to righteousness”

    Do you want to amend your original statement to say what you really meant which is that we were only a slave to sin prior to regeneration but now after regeneration we are a slave to both sin and righteousness at the same time?

  44. JPC:

    Romans 6:17 and Romans 6:18 is clear christians are slaves to righteousness. The unregenerate prior to conversion is a slave to sin, the christian after conversion is a slave to righteousness. Paul is unequivocal, so how can I amend something that scripture so clearly affirms. I can not and will not.

    Romans 6:
    17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

    Now what Paul means here is very simple, because we are not under the law but under grace sin has no dominion over us Romans 6:14 . Again we are slaves to righteousness because sin is not imputed to us, but not because we do not sin. The moment we look at the law and read the Sermon on the Mount we will conclude that we sin daily, but thanks be to God that we are not under the law but under grace ! So a christian transgresses the law daily, but because he is not under the law what otherwise would be sin is not imputed to the christian. Luther call this doctrine brilliantly simul justus et peccator (simultaneously just and sinner) and the most magnificent explanation of this precious gospel doctrine is in the Heidelberg Disputation defended by Luther himself. if you read this you will understand the doctrines of Luther and Calvin of indwelling sin in the believer. Here is the link http://bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php In summary a christian is 100% sinless and 100% purely a Saint (because he is cloaked with the robe of righteousness as Isaiah calls it provided by Christ’s perfect obedience on the cross) and at the same time a christian is fully a sinner (if his actions are measured against God’s perfect law, a christian is incapable of producing a single sinless good work). Luther explains it magnificently on the link I just provided.

  45. Bill, is Hebrews 12:14 talking about imputed righteosness or practical righteosness?

    “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord”

    How about Romans 8:4?

    “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

    What about Titus 2:11-12?

    “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

    Many more verses could be cited that could show beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christians can be and are commanded to be holy in this life. It is done the same way we are saved from the penalty of our sins; by grace through faith. You keep confusing the righteousness by the works of the law with the righteosness that is produced by faith. One is impossible while the other is commanded of all believers.

    I agree with Romans 6 but disagree with your false idea of simultaneous just and sinner. That flies in the face of the whole tenor of Scripture. How do we know who the children of God are? John tells us in 1 John 3:10:

    “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

  46. JPC, 1 John also teaches that whoever claims to be without sin makes him a liar. So we all sin. It also teaches that if we confess our sin he is faithful and forgive us our sin. So your quote of 1 John refers to unrepentant sin which a christian can not commit. Simply because a christian confesses that everything he does is polluted by sin, so the christian confession covers all human action so he has confessed his sin. When a lutheran goes to church every Sunday he repeats after the pastor “I am a poor miserable sinner deserving nothing but temporal and eternal punishment” and upon this confession through faith in Christ the christian receives the Pastor’s absolution. The life of the christian is a life of repentance, the works of the christian are good solely because the christian sees that they are sinful and trusts in Christ for the pardon of the sin. Solely on this condition God accepts his works, on account of Christ. Heidelberg Disputation number 7 which I gave a link on my prior post is clear:

    “The works of the righteous would be mortal sins if they would not be feared as mortal sins by the righteous themselves out of pious fear of God.”

    So Luther clearly teaches that unless we consider every thing we do sinful God we can not do any good work. A good work is by definition one that the christian confesses is sinful, upon that confession alone God accepts a good work. You need to read Luther’s thesis on the Heidelberg Disputation and the defenses of those thesis which are after the thesis on this link I gave you before http://bookofconcord.org/heidelberg.php

  47. Hebrews 12:14 and Romans 8:4 are clearly imputed righteousness. Titus 2:11 – 12 talks about imputed righteousness when it speaks about salvation and then our work of thankfulness for that salvation. With that said any works that follow salvation, as I said they are considered good works only because we confess that our best efforts are sinful and fall short. Still God accepts our works, no matter how weak and polluted by sin they are, but he does so only on account of Christ. Our works have no merit and they would be mortal sins if it weren’t that God pardons the sin in our works because of Christ. Calvin called it justification of works, by which God pardons the sin in the works of a christian.

  48. And one last thing, Romans 10 warns us specially against trying to seek our own righteousness as the Jews did. The only one righteous is God and he supplies His righteousness to us, he imputes it. Anybody seeking to establish his own righteousness is committing the galatian heresy and putting himself under the law. But Christ is the end of the law for everyone who believes, because he supplies his own righteousness to us which we passively (without doing any works) receive by faith. Scripture is so plain that we have no righteousness neither ought we to seek such a righteousness. The purpose of the Law is knowledge of sin, but is not that we should obey it, simply because we can not obey it. I am going to quote from Romans 10 and specially Romans 4 that clearly shows there is only one righteous, and one righteousness solely, the righteousness of Jesus that is imputed. In us men, even after conversion, nothing but sin dwells in us. But in conversion the holy spirit shows us this and through repentance we put our trust in Christ instead of our dead works.

    Romans 10:
    2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

    Romans 4:
    4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”[a]
    4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works

  49. Bill,

    I agree with a lot of what you say, but it does seem that you read a specific understanding of imputed righteousness into just about everything. I do believe that God makes us righteous (specifically, makes us right with Him), but it remains for us to walk in that righteousness (walk in right relationship with Him).

    Paul saying we are slaves to righteousness certainly doesn’t just mean righteousness is imputed to us. You seem to recognize that, but then end up making every verse that talks about holy living about imputed righteousness.

    JPC’s point is not that righteousness is in no way imputed to us, or that we can in some way establish our own righteousness. Any righteousness we have is derived from God’s forgiveness, empowering and grace. But we are still “obligated” to walk by the Spirit (Rom. 8:12, 13, cf. Gal. 6:7-9). The alternative leads to death rather than life.

    Anyway, I think we are all pretty close on all of this. The point is that one cannot be a slave to sin and a slave to righteousness at the same time. That was JPC’s main point I think. But all of this is a tangent to the main issue being discussed in the post, so it would be best to focus on that or just agree to disagree on the rest.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  50. Sorry, confused JPC with someone from another discussion board in my comments above. I just edited them accordingly.

  51. Every Calvinist needs to read Jeremiah 18:12. The doctrine of Total Inability is plainly described. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it is being used as an argument against God, and God rebuked Total Inability in the following verse. So I agree that Calvinism is in the Bible. God rebukes the Calvinism which is recorded in the Bible.

  52. kangaroodort, totally agree that we have to walk in that righteousness. Because we are sinless in Christ, we are dead to sin and have been raised in newness of life with Christ, we ought to also walk accordingly. Nonetheless it is on account of the righteousness of Christ that God accepts us as sinless, but yes you are right we ought to walk accordingly. But our walk, our works, are always going to be imperfect at best, polluted by sin. Ecclesiastes 7:20 . 1 Kings 8:46 , Isaiah 64:6
    And we see this with every old testament Saint that is mentioned in Hebrews 11 , they were Saints and holy on the eyes of God , yet they committed horrible sins after salvation. Some of the heroes of the faith like Sampson far from walking closer with the Lord towards the end of his life slept with a prostitute and the holy spirit withdrew the strength that Sampson had and he died at the hands of the enemy. And yet he is a godly man, in heaven right now, mentioned in Hebrews 11. David is another example, Moses who could not enter the promised land as well, Noah who got drunk and naked, you name it. Everybody mentioned in Hebrews 11 was a Saint because of Christ’s righteousness imputed to him, but a Sinner because of the offences and transgressions they committed, but because these men of faith are under grace and not under law they are all mentioned as godly men and as the best examples of the christian faith in Hebrews 11.

  53. Richard, you totally do not understand the gospel. The gospel is the good news that God does not impute our sin to us, not that we stop sinning. Now because the christian is not under the law what would otherwise be daily transgressions get not imputed to him, but the christian does break God’s law daily if it weren’t for the fact that he is not under the law and solely because of this is considered sinless in the eyes of God. Like the pharisee you seem to think you are without sin based on your own works. But christianity means we all ought to be like the tax collector who cried God have mercy on me a sinner. Blessed is the man to whom God does not impute his sin says David. But the man that does not sin is not blessed, simply because that man does not exist (except in his own mind, as the pharisees thought they were sinless). So blessed are those whom God does not impute his sin. There is no blessedness in not sinning, this will only happen until after the resurrection, but not here on earth Ecclesiastes 7:20 . While we live here we need Christ’s forgiveness and imputed righteousness daily every second.

  54. And Richard, Jeremiah 18 is not talking about christians but unbelievers, i.e. men that did not trust in Christ sufficiency for salvation.

  55. Let me add Richard, Jeremiah 18:12 you mentioned, this men not only do they not see Christ’s sufficiency for salvation they neither see Christ’s necessity for salvation. They are lawless individuals that don’t believe God and believe they are entitled to do whatever they want. There is no sin in their eyes, as a result no repentance, and no need for a savior. This verse certainly has nothing to do with calvinists who first of all preach the total depravity of man and his desperate need for a savior. Both are missing on the men of Jeremiah 18:12 who far from seeing themselves as depraved and in desparate need of a savior, they on the other hand have no fear of God.

  56. Bill,

    I don’t think what you write jives with what Paul writes in Rom. 8 and elsewhere. Part of the new covenant is a regenerated heart that is empowered by the Spirit to obey the law in a way that is pleasing to God. So your seeming claim that even our walking by the Spirit is “polluted by sin” doesn’t seem right to me. Maybe you are referring to the fact that our walk in general will always be imperfect because of the lingering effects of sin and the influence of the sinful nature in our lives. But if you are suggesting that any good thing we do is still polluted by sin, then I think that is contrary to Paul’s teaching in Rom. 8 and elsewhere (esp. noting the transition from Rom. 7 to Rom. 8).

    Your comments to Richard seem way out of line to me. You have made huge assumptions based on a very short point he was making. And again, while you do lip service to God’s power at work in us to walk in holiness and overcome sin, your comments always seem to end up giving far too much power to sin in the believer’s life. You seem to be saying that while we are slaves to righteousness, that is more or less academic (only positional, or how God sees us), while being slaves to sin is more real and far more powerful with regards to our daily lives. That seems contrary to the Gospel to me (though I would not venture to say, “you totally do not understand the Gospel”).

    Lutheranism isn’t the Gospel and Luther was, in my opinion, wrong about a great many things (as we all are).

  57. kangaroodort, I will say it one more time. Simul justus et peccator (simultaneously just and sinner) is what the Reformation was all about. Yes the phrase was coined by Luther, but all the Reformers adopted it including Calvin and the Geneva reformers. This means we are 100% saint (because of Christ’s imputed righteousness) and 100% sinner (because the best works of the saints are like filthy rags Isaih 64). I didn’t say we are 10%, 20%, 50%, or even 80% sinner, the christian is 100% sinner if we measure the works of the christian against God’s perfect law as expounded on the Sermon on the Mount, this is the teaching of the reformers. Now as I said luckily because Christ fulfilled the law that he outlined in the sermon on the mount on our behalf we are 100% saints and purely sinless, but the sole reason is Christ. Our works do not add one iota nor detract one iota from our salvation, no matter what I do between now and the end of the day my reward in heaven will be the same. Whether I help the poor or indulge my sensual appetite however my flesh desires the love of God for me is not going to be moved one bit. Why ? Because God loves me solely on Christ’s merit received by me through faith, and whatever I do is totally irrelevant to me being a christian sealed by the holy spirit whose name is written in the book of life.

  58. Does this mean I should sin ? Of course not. But my christian liberty in Christ does not depend on whether I sin or not. It is totally assured in that Christ has never sinned regardless of what I do. Should I abuse this liberty ? I already answered and said no,

  59. Bill,

    That’s the kind of doctrine that leads to antinomianism and it is plainly contradicted by Romans 8 and Gal 6 and many other passages. If your faith is not producing anything other than sin, then it is not saving faith.

    Nobody is claiming that we are saved by works. We are saved by faith from first to last, and we are sanctified by faith. If someone is living in sin and rebellion (as you suggest we have the liberty to do), then he is not living by faith. That doesn’t mean the believer is perfect, but if he is controlled by sin rather than the Spirit, then he will die (spiritually), and does not belong to Christ (Rom. 8).

    And I find no evidence at all that Christ’s active obedience is credited to the believer through faith. I know that is what many in your tradition say (and even some Arminians say that), but I have never found that in Scripture. If I do, I will hold to it, but until then, I have no reason to assume such things.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  60. Ben, where did I say faith is not always followed by good works ? i’d rather say fruit of the holy spirit. Because God looks at the heart and not outward appearance. Fruit of the holy spirit neither I nor any christian can stop doing. I never said faith produces sin, quite the opposite the Old Man or Old Adam or Flesh we still have fights against the spirit and the result is that we do the things that we do not want to do. These actions that we do not want to do which Paul in Romans 7 identifies is what I meant by indwelling sin in the believer. But notice how Paul unlike an unbeliever repents of that sin, the unbeliever can never be like the man of Romans 7. The unbeliever loves sin, he loves what he does with his mind not just his body, and he wishes he did more. There is no war between the spirit and the flesh in the unbeliever unlike the christian of Romans 7, the unbeliever is not tortured by sin but delights in it. Paul on the other hand in Romans 7 hates what he does. This is the difference between believer and unbeliever. The believer of Romans 7 delights in the Law of God, even though he breaks God’s law all the time. An unbeliever hates the law of God. So when measured against the law we can not do a single sinless good work, not one and this applies to both believers and unbelievers. The difference is the heart of the believer hates the sin he commits while the heart of the unbeliever loves the sin he commits. This is fruit of the holy spirit, not that the believer does not sin, but that he hates his sin is of the holy spirit.

    With that said because the holy spirit is in us and God works through us, he rewards the good works which I called fruit of the holy spirit and every christian has and pardons the sin that is in every work of the christian. You guys obviously have not read the Heidelberg disputations that I put a link on that Luther wrote or you wouldn’t be making these comments. So i am going to repeat Luther here, who brilliantly wrote:

    Heidelberg Disputation number 6 (Martin Luther):
    6 The works of God (we speak of those which he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.
    In Eccles. 7:20, we read, »Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.« In this connection, however, some people say that the righteous man indeed sins, but not when he does good. They may be refuted in the following manner: If that is what this verse wants to say, why waste so many words? Or does the Holy Spirit like to indulge in loquacious and foolish babble? For this meaning would then be adequately expressed by the following: »There is not a righteous man on earth who does not sin.« Why does he add »who does good,« as if another person were righteous who did evil? For no one except a righteous man does good. Where, however, he speaks of sins outside the realm of good works he speaks thus (Prov. 24:16), »The righteous man falls seven times a day.« Here he does not say: A righteous man falls seven times a day when he does good. This is a comparison: If someone cuts with a rusty and rough hatchet, even though the worker is a good craftsman, the hatchet leaves bad, jagged, and ugly gashes. So it is when God works through us.

  61. The key phrase is this God works through sinners, so the works of that God does through a believer are always polluted by sin. But because they are God’s works he does not impute that sin, he pardons it. And Luther wrote this brilliant comparison which I quoted on my last paragraph to defend his thesis that the works that God does through his saints are not sinless:

    Luther:
    This is a comparison: If someone cuts with a rusty and rough hatchet, even though the worker is a good craftsman, the hatchet leaves bad, jagged, and ugly gashes. So it is when God works through us.

  62. And the whole Romans 7 and Romans 8 thing Arminians make it too complicated. Both are Christian experiences. Romans 7 shows confession of sin and repentance towards God, and Romans 8 shows the forgiveness of sin in Christ Jesus.

    At no point does Romans 8 teach that a Christian stops sinning, quite the opposite it shows that our hope as far as stopping to sin is after the resurrection as I extensively quoted Romans 8 passages in earlier posts.

    Romans 7 is a chapter on repentance and Romans 8 a chapter on the forgiveness of sin and the imputation of Christ”s righteousness to the Christian and through faith in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.

  63. There is certainly a weakening of the sinful nature after conversion, the first fruits. But nothing even remotely close to Wesleyan sinless perfection.

  64. Bill,

    God bless you, but I do not care about your Lutheran talking points or what certain confessions say. I only care about Scripture. I did not suggest that we never sin. Not once did I say anything like that. And I certainly never suggested that you said that faith produces sin. It is like you are having a discussion with someone else.

    My last post was primarily concerned with this statement:

    Whether I help the poor or indulge my sensual appetite however my flesh desiresthe love of God for me is not going to be moved one bit. Why ? Because God loves me solely on Christ’s merit received by me through faith, and whatever I do is totally irrelevant to me being a christian sealed by the holy spirit whose name is written in the book of life.

    That is a view than plainly leads to antinomianism as a logical implication. That doesn’t mean you are an antinomian, but it does make room for such a practice. Your comments suggest that a believer could live a life fully devoted to pleasing the flesh and still be guaranteed heaven based on imputed righteousness. That is false because Paul makes it clear that a life controlled by the flesh and the desires of the flesh will result in spiritual death.

    You say we should walk in holiness, but we are at liberty to walk in sin instead. Paul says we “have an obligation” to live by the Spirit and not the flesh. You say we are free to live by the flesh. Paul says we are not and that living by the flesh will lead to death and destruction in contrast to life. That is big trouble for your claims. In fact, he says a child of God is identifiable by the fact that they are being led by the Spirit. But you say a believer has the liberty to live according to the flesh and not the Spirit and remain a child of God. Paul disagrees, and so do I.

    Again, this does not mean we are perfect and never sin. Nobody said that. What it does mean is that sin no longer dominates and controls us. Rather, the Spirit is continually working sin out of our life and conforming us more and more to the image of Christ. That Biblical reality cannot comport with any Theology that claims that imputed righteousness means we can (have the liberty to) live a life fully controlled by the flesh and still be considered righteous by God and on our way to heaven. I am sorry if that grates against the confessions you hold authoritative, but that is where I stand. I respect your right to disagree.

    Now if you want to discuss the specific issue being dealt with in the OP, feel free to comment. Otherwise, I would ask you not to comment further.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  65. Bill,

    You wrote:

    There is certainly a weakening of the sinful nature after conversion, the first fruits. But nothing even remotely close to Wesleyan sinless perfection.

    I am not a Wesleyan and I am not arguing for sinless perfection; not here or in the OP. The reference to sinless perfection in the OP is specifically an issue of logical inference based on a Calvinist doctrine that you say you do not hold. Please carefully review the OP again before commenting further. I fear your responses are largely based on misunderstanding. Thanks.

  66. Kangaroodort, a Christian is free. Christian freedom means that nothing he does or does not do makes him more or less of a child of God begotten by the Spirit. That Paul acknowledges this freedom is without a doubt. Galatians 5:13 and 1 Corinthians 10:23 . As I said just because a Christian is free from the law’s condemnation does not mean that he should abuse that liberty. But this liberty can not be denied and Paul affirms it in the two passages I quoted. Is Paul an antinomian ?

  67. Also when I spoke about indulging the flesh for the rest of the day bear in mind that this is not antinomianism. Paul describes it as his own Christian experience. Was Paul an antinomian? I already explained why not, and why the Romans 7 experience has to be a Christian. Paul hated what he did with his mind, but the members of his body loved it. The unbeliever loves sin wholeheartedly with both body and mind.

  68. Bill,

    Please think carefully about what Paul says in Romans 8 and Galatians 6 and how it conflicts with your views. I disagree with your view on Romans 7, but even the view that this represents a Christian does not necessarily lead to the conclusions you have drawn. We are not free to live in sin and indulge the flesh without any fear of eternal consequence. That is plain from Romans 8 and Gal. 6 and numerous other passages in the epistles and the Gospels.

    Your reference to Galatians 5 needs to include verses 17-21, where Paul ends by saying that those who live lives controlled by sin will not inherit the kingdom of God. So the liberty Paul speaks of in Galatians 5:13 certainly does not mean that we are free to live a life controlled by sin and remain in right standing with God (cf. Rom. 8:3-17; Galatians 6:7-9, cf. Rom 2:6-8; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Eph. 5:3-7, etc.).

    1 Cor. 10:23 does not have reference to being controlled by the sinful nature. It has to do with eating meat sacrificed to idols and how that might affect a believer’s conscience (though there is nothing inherently wrong with it since the believer knows that idols are not real). Even here Paul acknowledges real potential spiritual danger for those whose conscience is weak and violated by such actions to the point that one for whom Christ died might be “destroyed” a s a result. Likewise, 1 Cor. 6:9-10 flatly contradicts the interpretation you seem to want to assign to those verses.

    It seems clear that we are not going to agree. I am OK with that. I would only ask you to carefully review these passages I have referred you to and others like it and think about how they may or may not comport with your views on imputed righteousness. I am fine to leave things there.

    If you want to discuss the subject matter of the post regarding Calvinism, we can discuss that. If you want to keep pushing your Lutheran views, this is not the place for that. So I will ask you again not to comment further unless it is directly related to the OP.

    Thanks and God bless,

    Ben

  69. Again Ben, you completely restrict the freedom of a christian with your interpretation of 1 Cor 10:23. It may be in the context of meat sacrificed, but Paul’s freedom was a freedom indulge the lust of the flesh in any activity. And this clearly proven by 1 Corinthians 6:12, where Paul says the same thing as in 1 Cor 10:23 but this time he’s talking about enjoying sex with a woman just for the sake of pleasure and outside of marriage. The apostle is clear in 1 Corinthians 6:12 12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.” (NIV) Paul is emphatic, I have the right to do anything he says as it relates to sexual immorality, whatever gives the most pleasure to my body I have a right to it as a Christian. And I will not let you or anybody else take away this scriptural right from me. And for you to call this antinomianism is wrong, you are simply denying christian freedom. Now that I have clearly defined how free a christian is in all matters, and that he is free in all matter of sexual behavior, let me add the following. A christian hates sexual immorality, the holy spirit that lives in him hates it, so a christian will never commit that sin and enjoy himself without repentance. With that said when a christian obeys the command of being sexually pure, by no means does he do it out of obligation, but out of freedom, he obeys it because he wants to. A christian does not obey God’s commands out of fear of punishment, because he’s under no condemnation, he’s free from the law’s condemnation. And this is the freedom that characterizes the christian and differentiates him from the unbeliever.

  70. This is the difference of being under the law of Moses where there was punishment for disobedience and obedience was grounded on that fear and law of grace or faith or law of christ. Under the law of faith or in the christian dispensation obedience is rooted in love and not fear. A christian doesn’t obey God’s commands because he has to obey them or else, but he wants to freely obey them. So God’s commands are not commands any more but guidelines for life if you call which a christian embraces however weakly out of pure love for Christ of a free will but a christian does not owe any obedience to God, Christ has already obeyed God, so the christian is under no obligation to obey God’s commands. However, out of thankfulness for Christ’s obedience, because the christian wants to do it even though he doesn’t have to do it, he yields the members of his body as a living sacrifice to God Romans 12:1 .

  71. It’s called obedience of faith (keeping God’s command out of a free will and love), which is very different from the obedience of the law (keeping God’s commands otherwise God will punish me). The obedience of faith as Paul calls it in those words twice in the book of Romans is a mark of a christian, but it is an obedience that flows freely out of faith in Jesus. It is not an obedience not in the sense that the Christian has to do something for God, but quite the opposite the christian wants to do something for his neighbor because God has already done everything for the christian (Christ’s has obeyed God’s commands perfectly and the christian can add nothing to or subtract anything from Christ’s obedience). As Luther put it brilliantly, “God does not need our good works but our neighbor does”. You can google these quote from Luther, if you haven’t heard it. But let me blunt God does not need nor care about my obedience, he already has Christ’s obedience. However in light of Christ’s obedience apprehended by faith a christian now freely produces good works with the right motivation pleasing to God, which is exactly the opposite of having to obey God’s commands out of obligation. Now we have no obligation, since Christ has satisfied this obligation. He fulfilled the law, the law was not abolished, but was fulfilled and the implications of this I have clearly shown.

  72. Maybe a practical example from the bible will help. David, when he killed Bathsheba’s husband and took her as his wife. Did God’s love for David change ? No, God loved David unconditionally. Whether David committed adultery or not, whether David committed murder or not, God’s love was immutable. It is one of those cases where God loves the sinner but hates the sin. So God loved David so much, that no matter what David did, God would love him the same. Whether David murdered or didn’t God’s love for David was not affected. Now here comes the second part though. God hates sin, so God was very angry when saw David’s sin. But what was not angry at David, he was angry at David’s sin. And because God loved David so much and hated his sin so much, he disciplined David out of love. As Hebrews teaches God disciplines his children (he does not discipline the unbeliever but the believer only), so as Christian we need to know that we will attract God’s discipline if we sin. But God will not hate us, he will love us, regardless whether we sin or not. But no christian wants to attract God’s discipline, so no christian should disobey God’s commands. however should we disobey God’s commands we need to know that God’s discipline is out of love for us and we need to love his discipline.

  73. Now God loves the sinner but hates the sin which I just outlined is a comfort for the believer. In the case of unbelievers God hates both the sin and the sinner. The only reason God loves believing sinners (christians) is on account of Christ’s obedience imputed to the sinner. Only because the sinner is in Christ he is loved by God in spite of his sin. And God will never be angry with a believer no matter how much the believer sins, but God will be very angry with a believer’s sin, and as a result and out of love he will discipline the believer (the holy spirit will convict him of his sin). Now in the case of unbelievers, because they are under God’s wrath, when they sin God hates both the sin and the sinner. The unbeliever does not have the shield of faith and Christ’s righteousness imputed to him, so the wrath of God on the unbelieving sinner remains.

  74. And one last thing, as much as I disagree with Ben’s last post that a Christian should fear for his salvation should he sin. Let me be clear that should somebody decide to sin purposely because he is saved, and use the gospel as a license for sin he will not only grieve the Holy Spirit but lose the witness of the spirit. This means he will lose the holy Holy Spirit that cries Abba Fatther, he will lose his salvation. And at that point as I said he will be an unbeliever in God’s eyes and a sinner that God hates. God may even give him up to hone desires of the flesh as Romans 1 teaches and full perdition. So yes, the Christian needs to fear for his salvation if he chooses to purposely sin, because he will lose it.

  75. A christian who willfully sins grievously will lose his assurance of salvation (which means losing the witness of the spirit that testifies with our spirit that we are children of God). So he can lose his faith and become an unbeliever. He will be unable to confess Jesus as his personal saviour. With that said God may restore that individual back to faith, or the holy spirit may convict him of his sin prior to him losing his assurance salvation. We do not know for sure at what point and if God ever abandons those that have truly come to faith, because he is faithful even when we are faithless scripture tells us. So God may bring those that have fallen from the faith back to faith. The lutheran confessions teach that yes, one can commit apostacy, and Luther always held to that possibility. With that said God in his sovereign grace and mercy may choose to restore those back to faith, the lutheran confessions teach. Calvinism teaches that they left because they were not from us, so anybody that stops professing Christ as his savior and does so until the end of his life was a false professor to begin with and never had true faith. I do not have a definitive answer as to whether the lutheran or calvinist position is the most biblical. Though I do lean towards the lutheran view.

  76. But here again, see that where Ben and I disagree is that what can separate man from God is never sin but unbelief. Thus Luther’s famous phrase “sin boldly, but believe more boldly”. What a christian needs to fear is not sin, because it is never imputed to him. What he needs to fear is unbelief. I know that no matter what I do I am forgiven, no matter how big my sin is, because Christ died for it and paid it in full. And this is not antinomianism. But what I also know and what I fear is that if I sin, I will lose my faith, and as a result of unbelief I will perish. Just like we are saved by grace through faith and this is not a of ourselves but a gift of God. So also through willful sin the holy spirit may leave me and i may lose my faith, and this is my fear as a christian. But my confidence is that God will never allow any temptation to go that far and will always provide a way of escape, so that the holy spirit will never depart.

  77. My trust is fully in God, who has brought me to faith and will keep me in the faith for he so promises in scripture that he always finishes the good work he has commenced.

  78. Luther’s beautiful letter to Melanchthon: http://www.scrollpublishing.com/store/Luther-Sin-Boldly.html

    13.”If you are a preacher of Grace, then preach a true, not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here we have to sin. This life in not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. . . . Pray boldly-you too are a mighty sinner.” (Weimar ed. vol. 2, p. 371; Letters I, “Luther’s Works,” American Ed., Vol 48. p. 281- 282)

    13. If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.

    On the day of the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle, 1521

  79. So through faith alone a man is saved, and through apostasy (distrust in the promises of God , i.e. loss of faith) alone can a man lose his salvation. All other sins, that fall short of final apostasy are forgiven.

  80. Bill,

    Why do you insist on pushing your views here? I am disappointed that you have yet again completely disregarded my request to not comment further unless it is directly related to the OP. Why do you have such a lack of respect for my blog and for my request as the owner of this blog? Let me remind you again of what I have said,

    Now if you want to discuss the specific issue being dealt with in the OP, feel free to comment. Otherwise, I would ask you not to comment further.

    ________

    Please carefully review the OP again before commenting further. I fear your responses are largely based on misunderstanding. Thanks.

    _________

    If you want to discuss the subject matter of the post regarding Calvinism, we can discuss that. If you want to keep pushing your Lutheran views, this is not the place for that. So I will ask you again not to comment further unless it is directly related to the OP.

    Instead of respecting my request and guidelines for further dialogue, you have now left 11 more posts advocating for your Lutheran views with no real interaction with the direct subject matter of the OP. That is exactly the opposite of what I asked of you.

    I also asked you to specifically address the deliberate language used by Paul in Rom. 8 and Gal. 6 which contradicts the view that you insist Paul holds regarding imputed righteousness. But you didn’t do that either.

    I will let your comments stand for now, but if you continue to ignore my requests, you will not longer be allowed to comment here.

    I will address your latest comments when I get the chance.

  81. You write:

    Let me be clear that should somebody decide to sin purposely because he is saved, and use the gospel as a license for sin he will not only grieve the Holy Spirit but lose the witness of the spirit. This means he will lose the holy Holy Spirit that cries Abba Father, he will lose his salvation. And at that point as I said he will be an unbeliever in God’s eyes and a sinner that God hates. God may even give him up to hone desires of the flesh as Romans 1 teaches and full perdition. So yes, the Christian needs to fear for his salvation if he chooses to purposely sin, because he will lose it.

    This is in obvious contradiction to what you have been arguing for up to this point, that because of imputed righteousness, sin doesn’t matter. For example,

    Whether I help the poor or indulge my sensual appetite however my flesh desiresthe love of God for me is not going to be moved one bit. Why ? Because God loves me solely on Christ’s merit received by me through faith, and whatever I do is totally irrelevant to me being a christian sealed by the holy spirit whose name is written in the book of life.

    Well, which is it?

    In one breathe you say that sinning doesn’t matter because of imputed righteousness, and in the next you say that sinning will cause loss of salvation. And then later you write:

    So through faith alone a man is saved, and through apostasy (distrust in the promises of God , i.e. loss of faith) alone can a man lose his salvation. All other sins, that fall short of final apostasy are forgiven.

    Let me further highlight the problem here:

    Compare: ” Let me be clear that should somebody decide to sin purposely because he is saved, and use the gospel as a license for sin he will not only grieve the Holy Spirit but lose the witness of the spirit. This means he will lose the holy Holy Spirit that cries Abba Father, he will lose his salvation. And at that point as I said he will be an unbeliever in God’s eyes and a sinner that God hates.

    With…

    All other sins, that fall short of final apostasy are forgiven.

    See the problem there?

    You write,

    A christian does not obey God’s commands out of fear of punishment, because he’s under no condemnation, he’s free from the law’s condemnation. And this is the freedom that characterizes the christian and differentiates him from the unbeliever.

    The Apostle Paul writes,

    Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12)

    And…

    Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

    Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

    You write,

    But let me blunt God does not need nor care about my obedience, he already has Christ’s obedience.

    And in an earlier post, you wrote:

    Because God loves me solely on Christ’s merit received by me through faith, and whatever I do is totally irrelevant to me being a christian sealed by the holy spirit whose name is written in the book of life.

    But Jesus does not agree that obedience or disobedience has no bearing on God’s special love for us as Christians,

    If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)

    If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. (John 14:15-17)

    Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21)

    Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

    You write,

    Now we have no obligation, since Christ has satisfied this obligation.

    But the Apostle Paul disagrees,

    Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation–but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

    You suggest that in 1 Cor. 6:12-13, we have Christian liberty to indulge in immoral sex. But Paul had just finished stating:

    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    So I am sure you can understand why I just cannot agree with your arguments here. They seem to me to so plainly be at odds with numerous Scriptures .

    In one breath you say that because of imputed righteousness, sin doesn’t matter in the life of the believer with regards to his eternal destiny or with regards to heavenly rewards. You may not mean it, but you also suggest that repentance is not necessary since such sins are already forgiven and God only sees Christ’s righteousness, even when we sin in such a way. But then you also admit that continued sin can cause God to change his view and consider that person to now be an unbeliever who He hates because of his sin.

    You claimed that I believe that sinning can cause someone to lose their salvation irrespective of abandoning the faith, while you believe that only unbelief can cause someone to lose their salvation. But I said nothing of the sort. I never said that just committing a sin can cause someone to lose their salvation. I said a believer is not controlled by the sinful nature (while you suggest that one can be), and if he is, then we have no reason to consider that person a believer, and that it is an obvious contradiction to say that we are slaves to sin and slaves to righteousness, while Paul makes it clear that the two are mutually exclusive.

    Continuance in unrepentant sin corrodes faith and leads to unbelief. If someone is continually indulging the flesh because they believe they have the God given freedom to do so (as your theology suggests), then that person is for all intensive purposes an unbeliever. They might “claim to know God, but by their actions deny Him.” In other words, a believers life is no longer characterized by sinfulness, but by the obedience of faith, empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit. You seem to agree, but your Lutheran theology is at odds with this Biblical truth based on its confused view of imputed righteousness essentially making sin of no consequence in the believer’s life.

    We are probably closer on this than you realize, but I see your doctrine as dangerous because it downplays the seriousness of sin in a believer’s life and the deadly consequences that can eventually attain once someone gets comfortable with the idea that sin doesn’t matter because of imputed righteousness.

    I will ask you one final time not to keep pushing your Lutheran views in this thread. We simply disagree. You have made your points and I have made mine. We don’t need to keep going on and on about it. If you want to address the OP, you can comment further. Otherwise, consider any questions I asked in these comments to be rhetorical for the sake of encouraging you to think more about what I am saying. May God bless you as you continue to seek Him and His truth.

  82. As requested I will considered this closed. Thanks and God bless.

  83. Ben: In light of the above questions and potential inconsistencies created by the Calvinist accounting of the conversion process, there is need for theological precision on the part of the Calvinist regarding the specifics of the claim that regeneration causes faith in the sinner. There is especially need for precision regarding the claim that regeneration causes the sinner to “freely” embrace Christ.

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for the Op, I appreciate your thoughtful analysis.

    You have taken a different approach to the monergism question than I have been pondering, but it is definitely a very close relative of my ponderings. My question for the Calvinists I have dealt with is this:

    You, the Calvinist, have asserted that man’s Total Inability makes it necessary for God to be the only active agent in the process of Salvation. “Dead people” can’t do anything, so the One with resurrection power is the only possible source of anything happening. Man is totally passive in the event, Regeneration (Being Born Again), the Ability to Believe and Repent, and Faith itself are all entirely caused and given by God to man. This act of God is irresistible so that man cannot but respond positively to God’s action upon him.

    If this is true, why then would a monergistic, Holy God not also cause irresistibly man’s complete (or to call upon my Wesleyan perspective, “entire”) sanctification, and thereby his ability to live a holy life in keeping with the nature of the God who “works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13), i.e. the cessation of all sinning? (Not the inability to sin, but the perfect enactment of the ability to not sin.)

    If it it all up to God to do, as monergism boldly asserts, then why doesn’t God cause His Elect to not only “live” but to live in perfect consistency with His, God’s, holy character? It would seem that the Calvinistic, monergistic God has dropped the ball if the elect have not been given the ability to irresistibly follow the gracious leading of the Holy Spirit perfectly.

    If God is solely responsible for all the spiritual advancement and accomplishment within the believer, then the lack thereof begs the question of God’s very nature and character being what we, both Calvinists and Arminian, believers have always ascribed to God: His Holiness, His omnipotence, His Love, and, most importantly, especially to our Reformed brothers, the Sovereignty of God.

    If God is Sovereign, and his Sovereign decree and desire is that we are ” to be holy and blameless in his sight” (Lev 11:45, Eph 1:4, 1 Peter 1:16), then why are truly Elect believers subject to “sin in Word, Thought, and Deed daily”? ( WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM: Q. 82. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?)

    Well, Ben, you’ve probably said it better than I have, but just wanted to share my thoughts.

    Dare to Be Gracious!

    Doug

  84. Doug,

    That’s what I would call a non sequitur. I just doesn’t follow that because regeneration is monergistic, therefore sanctification can not be synergistic. You need to logically connect the two and not just assume what you are trying to prove.

    Why couldn’t God monergistically regenerate individuals and then require their cooperation in their sanctification? It’s kind of like asking why God took 6 days to create the world or why he waited thousands of years to send Christ. We just don’t know. That’s God’s business. But I’m not sure how your argument above follows.

  85. Jon,

    It is a little more involved than that. We have no reason to think there should be a reason why God would take a certain number of days to create the universe. But we certainly do have good reason to think that if God can, and does, fully overcome the sinful nature in conversion, then he should likewise do so in sanctification, based on His repeated stated desire for believers to be sanctified. Take a look at the links I gave Doug to look at for more on that.

    Also, if sanctification is synergistic, then that means, according to Calvinist reasoning, it should be considered “sanctification by works.” But that is only if we want to be consistent, of course.

  86. Edited “salvation by works” to “sanctification by works” above, which is what I meant to write. However, I would contend that sanctification is definitely an important aspect of salvation and is not “optional” for the believer.

  87. I would agree, as would any Calvinist, that sanctification is “by works” in the sense that the Spirit quickens us to enable us to perform good works.

    The question for your theological system is how can dead people perform good works?

  88. Jon,

    Sanctification is not “by works.” It is “by faith” (Acts 26:18).

    The question for your theological system is how can dead people perform good works?

    Who said anything about dead people performing good works? But, to roll with your analogy, one could just as well ask how “dead people” can resist the Holy Spirit, or reject the Gospel, or rebel against God. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a dead person resist, reject, or rebel against anything.

    Some suggested further reading for you:

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

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/jesus-says-the-dead-will-hear-unto-spiritual-life/

    https://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/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  89. Jon:
    Doug, That’s what I would call a non sequitur. I just doesn’t follow that because regeneration is monergistic, therefore sanctification can not be synergistic. You need to logically connect the two and not just assume what you are trying to prove.
    Why couldn’t God monergistically regenerate individuals and then require their cooperation in their sanctification? It’s kind of like asking why God took 6 days to create the world or why he waited thousands of years to send Christ. We just don’t know. That’s God’s business. But I’m not sure how your argument above follows.

    *****************************

    Jon,

    The whole idea of monergism, at least the way those many Calvinists with whom I’ve spoken have asserted, is about the need of God to do everything because 1) He is Sovereign and declared it to be such, and 2) that man is unable to do anything for himself because of the sinful nature.

    I am told over and over again, that if God is not the sole agent in the entire process, that man then has reason to boast of his own accomplishments (which, of course, isn’t true in the least, but that is the argument being made). They say “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil 2:13), that is, that God is the one doing the work, not us, to will and do His good pleasure. If the work of God in the initial fiat of regeneration and faith is irresistibly all of God, then how is the work described in Phil 2:13 any less resistible as we pursue “His good pleasure”, which is to “be holy as He is holy” (Lev 11:45, Eph 1:4, 1 Peter 1:16), and to sin not. (1 John 2:1)

    It seems to me, that if God is sovereignly irresistible in his actions in the first part, that he would be logically and philosophically obligated to be so throughout. It is logically inconsistent to say that I cannot refuse to accept His will of regeneration, the desires and control of the sinful nature notwithstanding, and then post-regeneration can refuse the workings of His indwelling Spirit in His leading toward holiness. Does this not subject the Sovereignty of God to the will of man?

    Dare to be Gracious!

    Doug

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