LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The lot of free grace!

The lot of free grace!

(Thomas Watson, "A New Creature")

"Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17

The new creature is a work of free grace. There is nothing in us, to cause God to make us anew. By nature we are full of pollution and enmity—yet now God forms the new creature. Behold the banner of love displayed! The new creature may say, "By the grace of God I am what I am!" In the creation,we may see the strength of God's arm; in the new creature, we may see the working of God's heart! That God should consecrate any heart, and anoint it with grace—is an act of pure love! That He should pluck one out of the state of nature, and not another—must be resolved into sovereign grace! This will increase the saint's triumphs in heaven, that the lot of free grace should fall upon them—and not on others.

The new creature is a work of rare excellency. A natural man is a lump of dirt and sin mixed together. God loathes him! But upon the new creature is a spiritual glory—as if a piece of clay, was turned into a sparkling diamond!

Those are not new creatures, who continue in their sins and are resolved so to do. These are in the gall of bitterness, and are the most miserable creatures that ever God made—except for the devils. These stand in the place where all God's arrows fly! These are the center where all God's curses meet!

An unregenerate person is like one in debt—who is in fear of being arrested by death, and carried prisoner to hell! Can that traitor be happy—who is fed by his prince in prison—only to be kept alive for his execution? God feeds the wicked like prisoners. They are reserved for the dayof wrath!

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99 Comments:

Blogger donsands said...

Such well written words humble the soul, and edify the soul at the same time.

Thanks for the excellent quote.

February 21, 2008 9:11 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

"Those are not new creatures, who continue in their sins and are resolved so to do."

You wouldn't think there would be objections to this principle, but there are many who as Jude says, pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

February 21, 2008 9:25 AM

 
Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

"A natural man is a lump of dirt and sin mixed together. God loathes him!"

Excuse me! Speak for yourself! I have been told that God loves EVERYBODY!!

February 21, 2008 10:17 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Estelle,

Please read my testimony. Here it is...

Testimony

I first came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior in April, 1973. It followed a full year and a half of coming to know that I was a sinner.

It started in November,1971. I began to be aware, somehow, that I wasn't living a life that was pleaseing to God. Over the course of the next several months the realization that I was a sinner began to settle in, deeper and deeper. This was accompannied by a growing desire to read a Bible.

In January and February of 1973 Lake Ontario began to flood over, and the lakeshore residents began to cry out for help sandbagging in order to protect their homes. I thought,'there, If I help sandbag, God will look at this act of mine come judgement day, and all will be well'. A series of events prevented me from getting to the lakeshore, including no transportation. I started to get really scared. Now I could not do anything to earn my salvation. I knew, somehow, that judgement day was coming, and that I was not going to fair well in it.

Then, on March 8, 1973, I met Kevin Bartlett. He was 16 years old just like me. He lived with his twin sister and their mother. What a strange little family. I went to their house, and there, on the wall, was a copy of the 10 commandments. I began to read those commandments and started to squirm. I began to try to justify myself by picking and choosing the ones I hadn't yet broken. As you can imagine, this attempt to comfort myself didn't work very well. Kevin started to tell me that I was a lost sinner, and that my only hope of salvation was in believing in Jesus, that He died for my sins, and was the only way to be saved, just by believing, no works, nothing but faith in Christ alone. Somehow, I knew that he was telling me the truth. His preaching, and the coincident conviction that I was a sinner went on for a whole month. Kevin and his mother made sure to tell me that as I came to Jesus as Savior, He was also to be my Lord. I had no problem with that. I just knew somehow that they were telling me the truth.

On that April 28th night, it was a Saturday, I was at a church service at a Christian retreat house. As the service came to a close I leaned over to Kevin's mom and asked what I must do to be saved. In later times she told me I was shaking at this point. I do not remember that, but I was sure anxious to know what I must do to be saved. She told me to go forward at the end of the service. This I did. I went forward for prayer. I wanted Jesus to save me. I wanted Him as my Lord. The minister asked me if I believed that Jesus was my only hope of salvation. I told him "yes". I knew that no works could save me, just simple faith in Christ, that He died for my sins and rose from the dead three days later. I knew that He was the Son of God. There and then I called upon the name of the Lord. I knew then and there that I was saved. There was no doubt in my mind. I also knew that from that momment on I was to live for Him. How could I not? He had suffered so for my sins.

After I had arisen from my knees, I had this strong desire to tell people about the Savior. I had this deep hunger to devour His word. I wanted to be around Christians. Oh, the joy I had inside! I was cleansed from my sins. I was foregiven. I now had eternal life. What a wonderful night that was--April 28, 1973, at 9:10-9:25 pm.

February 21, 2008 12:06 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Thanks for your insight Estelle, perhaps you might consider a few things?

Watson was writing in another era, so I give him some room. I personally would have said that man is naturally a combo of dirt and sin and is by default God's enemy - which is less provocative, but just as accurate, and has this one bonus feature - we all know that we are commanded to love our enemies - which is the very thing that God does - He loves those who are His enemies.

It is, I think, an error to presume that if God loves a person he cannot at the same time loathe that person - but most of us have been pabulum fed the notion that love and hate are mutually exclusive opposites - such that you cannot love those whom you hate or loathe - but frankly that notion is immature in that it presumes exclusivity for the sake of a tidy antonym.

I don't have a problem with God loving everyone - including His enemies; but I do have a problem with the idea that this means that God doesn't have enemies, or that God doesn't hate people who sin.

Psalm 11:5 says (plainly enough), "The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates."

It is easier to foster jaundiced opinions when we are ignorant of what the scriptures actually says, but here scripture leaves no room for our ignorance - the psalmist Psalms plainly says that God's soul hates the wicked ones who love violence, so if God loves everyone and that love is mutually exclusive, then scripture contradicts itself. Since scripture cannot contradict itself we are therefore taught that love and hate are not mutually exclusive, thus God can love his enemies even if he loathes them.

If that doesn't make sense, perhaps there is room to work on that grid by which you are interpreting scripture.

February 21, 2008 12:18 PM

 
Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Mark, Sounds like you were pretty mixed up at the time.

Daniel, but I'm not wicked and I don't love violence and I'm not mud and I'm not sinful. I'm trying to do the best to bring up my son in a Christian way. Goodnight says all babies will go to heaven and Baptist Girl says we have to be elected and Gayla seems to be somewhere in between.

What I can't get my head round the notion that if my baby dies tonight (God forbid) he will go to heaven because all babies are Elect. But later on in his life it depends on whether or not he is one of the Elect. So somewhere there must be a switch between being automatically elected as a baby (according to Goodnight) and being elected or not according to the predisposition of God (according to Baptist girl).

However much I try, my head can't escape from this puzzle.

February 21, 2008 12:42 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Estelle,

The scriptures teach that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. In some of the places where the Bible talks about sin, the idea of coming up short is in view. That is why man nedds the Savior. Running to take refuge in Him is what salvation is all about. There is a day when God will judge the world. Have you taken your refuge in Christ?

February 21, 2008 12:52 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Estelle,
In God’s sovereignty and foreknowledge, he knows when everyone will die. It is not that everyone starts out elect and some get de-elected. It is that everyone starts out spiritually dead and God graciously intervenes to save some. Those that are passed over never come to God on their own and in fact they are unable (Romans 8:7-8). The elect are chosen before the foundation of the world. Many believe as I do that all infants that perish are saved and thus are elect. God knows all who will die in infancy and all who will be murdered through abortion in the unborn state.

This is information that I have gleaned from the Holy Bible and not from my own thinking. I would recommend a careful reading of the Bible and Romans would be an excellent starting point. I hope this helps.

February 21, 2008 1:21 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Estelle, I appreciate your dilemma.

Behind the question of "Where babes go when they die" is a bigger "theological" question - "Why does anyone go to hell?"

Theologians answer the first question in such that it won't contradict the way they would answer the second question; and that - more than anything else - is why we see such disparity in answers.

Scripture teaches that no one is righteous, and that all (meaning both Jews and non-Jews) have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:10,23). Likewise in Romans 5:12-21 we read about how sin came into the world through Adam and spread to all men - and how God's judgment upon Adam affected all men. From these verses many piece together a doctrine that amounts to pre-condemnation: We go to hell, not because we sin, but because we are condemned by Adam's sin.

This is typically understood in terms of a sort of metaphysical moral flaw in the human character, they reason that we sin because we are born with the "propensity" to sin which we inherited from Adam - and that this propensity itself is condemnable.

If one starts off that way, it is clear that even babes go to hell because they inherit this propensity, and the propensity itself (according to their theology) is condemnable.

When we think of "original sin" as something tangible that we inherit that causes us to be pre-damned, it allows us to give rather sloppy, but passable answers to many of the other dilemmas scripture presents. Why do people sin? Oh - because of original sin! Thus we tweak the idea of original sin just a smidge more, and we get a "total depravity" that has nothing to do with our separation from God and our own lack of spiritual life - but instead ends up being a throw-back to Adam's sin, a pre-condemnation.

It's pretty lazy theology, but it suffices for many.

If we go that route we conclude that babies must go to hell because they have inherited a condemnation through whatever theological label we want to apply - original sin, or total depravity - it all amounts to the same thing - we are condemned for the sins of our father.

But scripture says - no. The son shall not be put to death for the sins of the father, nor the father for the sins of the son.

We can also let the pendulum swing the other way and tell ourselves that Adam's sin was so entirely inconsequential - that we suffer no consequences from Adam's sin - and that would be making an error in the other direction. While this lends itself to the teaching that all babies go to heaven, it also contradicts the scriptures that show that all of us are unrighteous...

In between these two extremes we have many flavors, but ultimately one's opinion of what happens to babies who die is going to have to line up with their understanding of why people sin, and more broadly, why people are condemned.

My own take on it is that Adam's sin had the consequences stated in scripture - no more, but no less. Prior to sin entering into the world, Adam and Eve had free access to the tree of life - they were allowed to eat of its life sustaining fruit daily, and were kept alive in doing so. When they sinned they were cut off from this privilege, effectively severing their link to life everlasting. Futhermore, and more critically, they were severed from their awareness of God, and severed from God's (active) provision for their daily needs. Adam's curse was to be cast out of God's presence, God's sustaining life, and His abiding provision - in effect they were cast out of His influence and persuasion. Adam and Eve knew God face to face but their grandchildren knew about God through the testimony of others - not first hand. Sin was loose in the world, and God was no "present" in any experiential way - the curse that men inherited was a God vacuum and a sin filled world. Without God's influence and bombarded by sin's influence it became impossible for a person to grow up to be "godly" - as there was no perfect image of God left in the world. Hence Total Depravity, rightly understood, is not some characteristic that is injected in our genes, but is the inheritance into which we are born - we inherit Adam's debt in not in the sense that we are born condemned to hell - but condemned to earth and condemned to godlessness - but our flesh is not condemned by Adam's sin, it is condemned only by our own sin the very moment we sin, which we all inevitably do because we have only sinful influence at work in us from the day we are born.

Thus, as I see it, babes go to heaven when they die because they are not condemned by their own sin. Plain and simple.

If that is going to fly with what the bible teaches us about election, then we must accept that there are two ways for God to save his elect - he can either allow them to live long enough to sin, and then save them from their sin through Christ's death, or he can take them to himself before they sin, and while they must come to God in Christ, they do so without requiring Christ's righteousness to be applied to their account through faith - but rather are united with the Spirit through their election.

These things, to be rightly explained, would require much more writing than I am able to give at this time - briefly put, that is my summary.

February 21, 2008 2:02 PM

 
Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Mark, I don't really understand what you mean by "Have I taken my refuge in Christ?". I believe in Jesus and I go to church and take communion when I can and I say my prayers. Does that answer you?

Jazzycat, thank you, that is the best answer I have had. I can understand that if God really is almighty and all-knowing then he could prescribe and know in advance which babies were going to die prematurely and preordain that they are elected. But if he knows that already, one wonders why he bothers to have them born at all, but I guess that is another question.

Daniel thank you for the time you have taken to reply, even if it seems that you need a PhD in philosophy to understand it. LOL!. And that is the problem, isn't it? You all seem to want to refer me to the bible, but then there is the question of *interpretation* of it, and there seems to be so much disagreement, doesn't there? I mean who should we listen to? John Calvin,Thomas Cranmer, Jacobus Arminius, John Wesley, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King or the Pope, to name but a few theologians? They all have different interpretations of what is correct. Or whether you were born of parents who were baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, jews, christadelphiniums, Mormons, scientologists, conformists, non-conformists, Papists and so on and so on (yes, Goodnight, I have been busy googling). And they all believe passionately that they are right to the point where they hate each other and will even kill for it. In the name of the same God.

You know, I even read on someone's website that their favourite reading was "The Bible and other anti-Calvinist books" (sorry I didn't bookmark it). It seems that we risk following the interpretations of MEN, not the "word of God".

Just who is a girl to listen to? Well, our vicar says you don't have to take everything in the bible literally. Do you really believe that Methuselah lived for nine hundred years? I note that George Gershwin didn't!

February 21, 2008 3:29 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"Do you really believe that Methuselah lived for nine hundred years?"

yes.

And Noah lived 350 years after the flood, and ended up living 950 years. Shem, Noah's son, lived 500 years after the flood, and was 600 years old and lived during the time of Abraham, and Abraham lived to be 175 years old. And I'm thinking they may have known one another.
So it seems that after the flood people began to live less long lives.

The Bible is the Word of God, which is the truth, and is our final, and all sufficient authority. God the Holy Spirit is sovereign, and He has placed pastors and teachers in the Church.

Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth, and if He has sought you out and chosen you, then you will know, for you will call upon Him in humility, and you will know that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that there is absolutely no other way to the Father ecept through Him.

He is a great and merciful holy Lord. I thank him every day for saving my soul, and opening my eyes to His Gospel, which is the Cross, where He died for our sins, and the Empty Tomb, where He came forth on Easter Sunday.

That's for sharing your heart Estelle.

February 21, 2008 4:33 PM

 
Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Donsands, I notice you only pick up on the trivial stuff. Frankly, I would be more interested to know why you think your *interpretation* of the bible is more "correct" than anyone else's.

And I simply don't believe that those people lived that long, that is ridiculous. I believe that Jesus died on the cross to save us all. Period.

February 21, 2008 4:53 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Estelle, there really are only two approaches to interpretting the bible you either decide that some or all of it is untrue, or you decide that all of it is true.

Other divisions could be made, but really, this is the one that matters, because the division is really about who decides what is fit to be believed, and what can be discarded. The group who believes that there is error in scripture ultimately ends up believing only as much as it decides is plausible - which means that they will only believe as far as their preconceived notion of truth allows. If anything in scripture offends their education, morality or intellect, they can dismiss it and thereby they (and not God) become the person who determines what is true.

The other group does not cut up scripture with the knife of their own perspective, but accepts the whole of it as true.

Of the two approaches, believing scripture is at first the harder of the two, but once embarked upon becomes - by far- the easiest.

I was one who took pride in my intellect. I was brought up Catholic, and frankly, I was willing to believe only as much of the bible as seemed believable to me. Clearly the men who wrote it were little better than ignorant cave man - they knew nothing of evolution, of philosophy, of science - they themselves were so utterly primitive, it stood to reason that their writings could be no better.

Yet it wasn't until I found myself challenged by another intelligent fellow that I gave my opinion of scripture any real thought. I met a fellow who believed every word of it - all of it, the ark, the flood, Adam and Eve, a literal six day creation - and I just couldn't wrap my mind around how an otherwise brilliant fellow could succumb to such a fairy tale? I was willing to accept that Jesus was God, and that he died on a cross to save sinners - but come on? Most of the bible was bunk wasn't it?

He challenged me, I say, in this way - he said to me that if I couldn't believe all of the bible, it was absolutely hypocritical to believe any of it. For if I believed one part and not another, how was I to know which parts were valid and which were false? Surely it came down to a personal preference, and if truth were a matter of personal preference, then the bible may as well be entirely wrong. The only way the bible can have any value beyond being a collection of moralisms that can be set aside or embraced according to spurious prerogative is if all of it is true. If only some of it is true, God is impotent, the truth is something that we can never be sure of, and it is a foolish thing to even attempt to know it, and far more foolish to assume we have picked and chosen what is true when we read it.

Having said that, we who believe the bible is true may differ on what we think it means - and that is expected since we differ in maturity, intellect and personal experience - most of us will come to a better, more biblically consistent theology as the years roll on - and our current understanding of scripture will grow in one direction or another. We expect there to be disagreements about doctrine amongst those who are living out their faith, and we expect there to be disagreement in doctrine with those who have no faith and are only living out an approximation of faith based on some intellectual doppleganger that passes itself off as the real McCoy when in fact it remains ever a counterfeit - a tare - deceived into thinking itself something more, and deceiving others into the same empty deceit, and even revelling with those who are likewise deceived. But those who are in the faith no one another not so much by the way their theology meshes, but by the same testimony that springs from the same gospel.

I am certain that many on Team Bluecollar disagree with some of my theology - but not one would disagree with my soteriology, or the gospel I believe - not one would imagine that scripture contradicts itself or is untrue.

To be certain, and I think this is the shared testimony of everyone who writes for Team BlueCollar - until I believed the scriptures were true, they were incomprehensible - yes I could read the words, but my understanding was confused, and thin - nothing connected, and the whole of scripture was a riddle with a few bits here and there that sounded nice, and the rest was all gobble-dee-goop. But the moment I determined to believe every word - then the scriptures opened to me.

I appreciate that you regard scripture so richly on the one hand in that you believe they hold some truth, but then I marvel at the magnificent opinion you have of your own discernment - to state your eternal destiny on your own ability to choose the right truth needle out of the bible haystack, if that makes any sense.

Noah's decendents did not attain to the lifespan of the antidiluvian host, but they all began to live shorter lifespans, to be sure, around the time that Noah died, that is when it all went south. I think that makes sense. Scientists are trying to isolate the gene that causes premature aging - there really is no reason why these bodies we have cannot live for hundreds or even thousands of years - it is as if we are programmed to die of old age. But that is another topic altogether...

February 21, 2008 5:34 PM

 
Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

And there is another option. It isn't a question of true or false. It's a matter of how it is *interpreted*. Some of it is factually correct, exactly as written, and some of it is allegorical. That is what our vicar says and I believe him. I have no reason to doubt that he is less right than you believe that you are.

I'm off to bed! Good night, God bless you.

February 21, 2008 5:55 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

estelle,
Do you trust your vicar's inerpretation more than your own?

If a person will pray for understanding prior to reading, then Scripture will speak to them and they can receive the Word of God unfiltered by a vicar or us on this blog. It is certainly alright to listen to what men say and learn from them, but Scripture must be the final authority.

As Daniel pointed out, once one decides to discard portions of Scripture as untrue then it becomes an exercise in futility. For example: If God created the universe, then believing people used to live to 950 years of age should not be a problem. If you do not believe God created the universe, then the Bible will not teach you very much......

February 21, 2008 6:32 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

I have a question about the babies issue.

My pastor's wife and I discussed this within the past year. She and I both agree with the Biblical view of God's election of souls.

If this be true (and I believe it is), why couldn't it be that some babies are elect and some are not? If all are born with a sin nature - true they may not have lived long enough to have committed a sin per se, but they are born with the propensity for self and sin. They have the original sin nature, as it were.

If God elects to show some mercy and others not - if He will have compassion on whom He will have compassion and others not - then why would this not also apply to babies?

February 21, 2008 7:05 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"The group who believes that there is error in scripture ultimately ends up believing only as much as it decides is plausible - which means that they will only believe as far as their preconceived notion of truth allows."

So true. Thanks Daniel for sharing, your thoughts really nailed it down.

I think that's one way to see it Susan. But there's only one truth, and we all know that for sure, but the secret things belong to God.

February 21, 2008 7:20 PM

 
Blogger donsands said...

"Donsands, I notice you only pick up on the trivial stuff." -Estelle

Not sure where you're coming from here. I am naive for sure. If you expound a bit It might help.

February 21, 2008 7:21 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Susan,
I had a lengthy e-mail debate with my pastor over babies going to heaven this past fall. My position being that all infants dying would go to heaven and his being there was insufficient Biblical information to know. Some Calvinists even have the view that only infants of elect parents go to heaven. I totally reject that view and he agreed on that point. I believe this view comes from placing too much emphasis by covenant theology on family structures including infant baptism. Although I go to a PCA church, I am more in line with the doctrinal positions of reformed Baptists. It seems to me that, although infants are born with a sin nature, they differ from adults in that they have not committed actual sin and God in his mercy may extend saving grace to them all.

February 21, 2008 10:05 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

and God in his mercy may extend saving grace to them all.

Jazzy, I think that's the key word here: He may...

We can't know, I guess. But He may, and He may not as well.

I'm with you regarding the position on families.

February 21, 2008 10:40 PM

 
Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Good morning everyone. I'm busy today so won't take up much space today ;-)

I think Jazzycat has hit the nail on the head when he says stuff like:

"I had a lengthy e-mail debate with my pastor...";

"My position being that...";

"Some Calvinists even have the view...";

"I totally reject that view...";


"I believe this view comes from placing too much emphasis by covenant theology...";


"It seems to me that...".


Jazzycat, how eloquently you make my point for me! It all boils down to *interpretation*. Some of you appear to be slavishly adhering to the interpretation of John Calvin (when you agree with him!) but I notice that elsewhere there are just as passionate followers of Jacobus Arminius and the two factions will argue over interpretation for a lifetime.

So don't you think it is a little arrogant of you to suggest that I consider my own interpretation (or my vicar's, which I believe)? I might just as easily ask you to consider yours. It is all down to *interpretation* and that is why there is so many bitter disputes and hatred generated in this world about what is true and what is allegory.

Jesus died on the cross to save us all. That is my vicar's interpretation and that is mine. If you challenge that, you are challenging the opinion of a Holy man of God who does countless counselling and charitable and pastoral works in our parish and if such a good man is not elected than I don't think I want to be either.

February 22, 2008 4:11 AM

 
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Well said Estelle. I feel the same way about my priest.
Maalie is my big brother (he who has been banned) and even he likes and respects the priest. He was so gentle and loving at our mother's funeral, and continues to be a great help, comfort and spiritual advisor to me.

I just wish I was articulate as you are.

February 22, 2008 7:02 AM

 
Blogger Maalie said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 22, 2008 7:23 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

OK, now that we all have aired out our philosophical and theological wings...

I am now going to dictadorially narrow the scope of this discussion -

On the previous thread Colin Maxwell asked these questions:
"Whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be saved" (Romans 10:13)

1) What does "whosoever" mean?
2) What is the result of "whosoever" calling upon the name of the Lord?

it would be nice if someone could answer these questions!"

And so from here out the conversation WILL NOT go beyond these questions. Estelle, please answer these questions. If not then the conversation is over. I do not want the conversation to go beyond these questions.

February 22, 2008 7:53 AM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Mark,

A very important question indeed and a good reminder to search the Scriptures and read in context.

The context of the preceding verse (Romans 10:12) aids in understanding the word whosoever, methinks:

"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.

Here is what Matthew Henry wisely notes about Romans 10:13.

"There is not one God to the Jews who is more kind, and another to the Gentiles who is less kind; but he is the same to all, a common father to all mankind. When he proclaimed his name, The Lord, the Lord god, gracious and merciful, he thereby signified not only what he was to the Jews, but what he is and will be to all his creatures that seek unto him: not only good, but rich, plenteous in goodness: he hath wherewith to supply them all, and he is free and ready to give out to them; he is both able and willing: not only rich, but rich unto us, liberal and bountiful in dispensing his favours to all that call upon him. Something must be done by us, that we may reap of this bounty; and it is as little as can be, we must call upon him. ...

"That the promise is the same to all (Rom_10:13): Whoever shall call - one as well as another, without exception. This extent, this undifferencing extent, of the promise both to Jews and Gentiles he thinks should not be surprising, for it was foretold by the prophet, Joel 2:32. Calling upon the name of the Lord is here put for all practical religion. What is the life of a Christian but a life of prayer? It implies a sense of our dependence on him, an entire dedication of ourselves to him, and a believing expectation of our all from him. He that thus calls upon him shall be saved.

February 22, 2008 10:22 AM

 
Blogger Estelle des Chevaliers said...

Mark, it sounds like you have been reading the works of General Francisco Franco, as well as John Calvin.

In order to answer your question, I would first need you to answer "saved from what"? Possibly from the oppression of dictators?

Must rush...

February 22, 2008 10:42 AM

 
Blogger Only Look said...

Good post about the power of God's free grace imparted to us horrible sinners and that He makes us a new creation in Him. What an incredible and liberating truth that sets us free from the burden of our sin debt.

It is so hard...yea impossible, apart from the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, to get men and women in this present world to believe that there is life in a look at Him. Once and for all....Only Look To Christ!! Let it be forever settled there at the cross. Let Him take all of your debts and set you free into His everlasting presence.

Grace upon grace,

Brian

February 22, 2008 11:12 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Estelle des Chevaliers said...
Mark, it sounds like you have been reading the works of General Francisco Franco, as well as John Calvin.

In order to answer your question, I would first need you to answer "saved from what"? Possibly from the oppression of dictators?

Must rush...
===============

Estelle, game over.

February 22, 2008 11:41 AM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Estelle, in order to respect Mark's request to not get off topic, I've put the question about babies up at my blog.

Feel free to pop in if you'd like.

(and anyone else who'd like to discuss it)

February 22, 2008 3:33 PM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Also, Estelle, this post may or may not be of benefit to you, but I wanted to direct you to it, as it might be helpful.

It's just my feeble attempt at a simple explanation of the gospel.

Click here.

As I mentioned to you in another comment, seek God and you will find Him. He is opposed to the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. As you're reading in the Word, ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Again, I don't know you, but it seems that perhaps He is in the process right now of moving in your life. You have questions and concerns - it seems like He's stirring your heart. And the reason I say this is because, our natural inclination is to hate the things of God, but you seem to be seeking real answers.

We will answer you impferfectly, as will your vicar - he's a mere man, a mixed bag of sinfulness and righteousness just like us (and our own pastors). But the Holy Spirit of God will lead you into the truth, as you read the Scriptures and seek God's face.

Christ is our only hope. Our salvation doesn't lie in ourselves, in the things we do or don't do - not in counseling others, not in good pastoral works, not in how we raise our kids, not in morality. Nothing. Only the finished work of Christ on the cross. We cannot "add to" what He has already accomplished.

Read in Romans 3, for starters. There you will find exactly what the state of man is before a holy God.

February 22, 2008 4:02 PM

 
Blogger Susan said...

Daniel,

I hope you hop over to Gayla's for the babies discussion. I have a question for you on your own view of this issue.

Gayla,

What you wrote directly above my comment here is so beautiful. It is so well-stated. Your words are a delight to the soul.

February 23, 2008 9:54 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Susan, I have hopped over and peeked in, but I confess - the whole baby salvation thing is a topic that requires serious, synoptic foundation before it is even lightly covered, and I find most of the people who have opinions in the matter cut up scripture into band aids and apply their snippets over the failing kidneys of their arguments imagining that these bandaids in fact make their case.

It is a time consuming, laborious process to talk teachable people out of their own settled opinions, much more so those who are not teachable ;-P Not meaning anyone in particular, just whining that I don't have the time I should like to really dig into this. It is a good topic to discuss, and I am sorely feeling my own absence from the blogosphere.

February 24, 2008 8:06 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would even be tempted to include Jesus into the "all have sinned" scripture in Romans 3. Likewise you would also be hard-pressed to find anybody who would disagree that Paul is compareing the Jew and the Gentile in Romans 3. However, Romans 5 is different. In verse 12, the last portion of that verse, Paul is clearly teaching that "all sinned" - notice the past tense - in Adam, the idea being that, as in the case of Levi paying tithes to Melchizedek while in his great grandfather Abraham's loins, Hebrews 7:9-10; Likewise, the whole human race was in Adam's loins when he sinned; thus the whole human race sinned in him.

That the whole race has a sin nature is beyond argument.

February 24, 2008 11:54 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark if that were so, I wouldn't argue the point. Apparently it is not beyond argument, and simply saying so doesn't make it so.

I don't doubt that it is a settled matter in your own thinking - and I am certainly aware of your position, it was my own for many years.

I just find that it doesn't knit as well with the truths I find in scripture as other models.

February 24, 2008 2:34 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

Finney argued that man sins because of the example of others around him. He too was in disagreement with the concept of original sin.

What I am going to do at this point is bring my other comment from Gayla's thread over to here because I have developed a string, or system of my own in it, puting together the thoughts together with that other one. It is influenced by my considerations of Affective Theology.

February 25, 2008 7:40 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

In essence, if I read John 3:3-8 right, the ONE thing that separates man from God is life, in this case, the regeneration life provided for us solely in the New Covenant; that New Covenant that is comprised of undividable components: the indwelling Holy Spirit, forgiveness of sins, and so on.

With that life one enters the very life of the triune God. It is a shared experience within Him where we enter into an ever growing knowledge of God, John 17:3; experience the love of the Father as Christ does, and also His glory. Read the whole 17th chapter of John to see that eternal life is a shared experience.

In short, life is what separated man from God. Man was outside it, leaving him to answer to a sin nature that took its place in the fall. No life, no heaven.

February 25, 2008 7:42 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

I agree with your last post entirely Mark, but I would qualify the part where you say, "leaving him to answer to a sin nature that took its place in the fall"

I have asked scripture this question: Why is it that Adam didn't drop dead the moment he transgressed God's command, "...for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."?

The answer I come to, after reading the whole bible enough times to know that there are two deaths - is that there are likewise two lives. Just as there is a physical death, and a spiritual death, so too there is a physical life and a spiritual life. I believe that when Adam sinned he -immediately- died spiritually, and was immediately driven from the Tree of Life that had been sustaining him physically. Spiritually he was cut off from life, and physically he was cut off from life. The spiritual death was immediate, but the physical death lingered.

The consequences of Adam's sin have been visited on all his descendants thereafter. Not one of us is born with spiritual life - but we are all born spiritually bankrupt - utterly void of life - totally depraved, if you will. This death, both spiritual and physical, can be described as our "sin nature" or our "old man" - I don't really have a problem with that.

But I want to be clear in my understanding - On judgment day, if Adam is condemned, it will not be because he had a sin nature - it will be because he sinned. The consequences of his sin are a sin nature, first for himself, and then for us - but Adam isn't going to be condemned for the consequences of his sin - he is going to be condenmed for sinning.

Likewise, though all of us are born with a sin nature - we (Like Adam) will not be condemned on account of one sin's consequence - we will all be condemned for our own sin.

The babe who is born with a sin nature is born spiritually dead (because of Adam) and given the opportunity to grow up that child will respond to the death that is in the world just as everyone else responds to it - the moment the child knows the difference between good and evil, the child will chose to serve evil - that is, the child will sin; and the moment the child sins he or she is culpable before God for his or her sin.

But the infant who dies, who does not himself or herself sin - will not be condemned because he or she inherited the consequence of Adam's sin. That one, although spiritually dead and in need of spiritual life - is not condemned by their own sin, nor condemned by Adam's sin, but will be united to God in Christ - not requiring faith for that union because faith is needed only for those who are going to be saved from sin. Christ saves those who have no sin from death, and Christ saves sinners from both sin and death.

The question before us is if Adam is guilty before God, is it because of his sin, or because of his sin nature - we inherit the one, not the other, so the question is of some import I think.

Having said all that - this truly is one of those doctrines that clears out our theological closets - do we presume upon the bible to influence our theological understanding - or do we presume upon our traditions and what other men have said before us to instruct our biblical understanding? Surely wiser and better men than myself would sneer at my sad understanding of scripture - but I will not stand before them on judgment day for what I believed and why I believed it. I will stand before God - and I am content therefore to let His word speak, and If in time I am convinced away from my present opinion, it will only be because scripture demanded it.

In this scenario - scripture does not (at least according to what light I imagine myself to have) demand that we inherit the condemnation of Adam's sin - it only demands that we suffer the fall out from Adam's sin - that fallout is spiritual death and a sin nature - but just as Adam will not be condemned for these - so too we are not pre-condemned for another man's sin.

That's how I see it - and I wish I had time to stay and defend it - even this post is costing me dearly in time. ;-)

February 26, 2008 2:37 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

The way I see scripture, Romans 5:12-21 is teaching parellels between 2 representative heads. Adam, the representative head of the whole human race; and Christ the representative head of the spiritual race that are in Him. ALL sinned in Adam the day he partook. He is guilty of that very sin, and the whole race is guilty of that sin by imputation. Christ obeyed and righteousness is imputed to those in Him.

The New Covenant is the sole basis for God's dealings with those who are His. Christ is the life giving spirit, 1 Cor. 15:45. I see only one kind of life given to those whom Christ gives life to; and that life is defined in John 17:3. That life is one of knowing God in an ever increasing way. I do not believe the New Covenant can be broken up. Knowing God and the forgiveness of sins are inseparable.

Let's contrast here:

ALL are guilty for Adam's first sin.

As a result of his sin mankind is led about by the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. The whole world is under the sway of the devil.

ALL mankind is hatefull of the light, for their deeds are evil. It is their nature to be children of wrath.

Enter Christ, the life giving spirit.

ALL in Him are cleansed, filled with the Spirit - are made alive!

They now know God. John the Baptist knew his Lord even before he was born, while still in the womb, and typifies the regenerate man.

1) In Adam we are guilty of his sin.
2) We inherit his propensity to sin. (meaning we have no life; certainly not that spiritual life that brings about that participation in the life of the Triune God.)
3) We commit our own sins - again, the result of not having that spiritual life in Christ - and are guilty for our own sins.

Your model devides the New Covenant up.

February 27, 2008 7:57 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, as I understand it, the new covenant was inaugurated at Pentecost, and it did not bring into being a new way of being justified - as Paul makes plain -we are justified in the New Covenant in exactly the same way Abraham was justified without the New Covenant - by grace through faith. I think it is fair to conclude that regardless of which covenant a person is in, those who are made righteous by faith are the ones who are justified. Those who attempt to be righteous by works - these are not. The righteousness of Christ is imputed both forwards and backwards from the cross. Those who were righteous by faith under older covenants were righteous by an imputation of Christ's righteousness, just as we are under the New Covenant.

To be concise - there is nothing "new" about that. The gospel is an "eternal gospel" not a thing that changed when Christ came.

We don't want to mix up justification and sanctification in our theology or we will find ourselves needing to create apologetic presumptions such as "federal headship" in order to explain the reality of total depravity.

Entering the kingdom (being born from above) does not change the way one is justified, it changes the way one is sanctified.

When people were justified under the old covenant - their forensic justification had no real world effect. They were left with nothing but the law and their conviction. They pined for deliverance from their sin. They were justified believers, but they were not spirit filled - the Holy Spirit was with them, but not indwelling them. Christ said, just prior to Pentecost that the Spirit was with them, but would be in them. There is a distinction.

Under the Old Covenant economy you could be annointed by the Spirit for some ministry - but this annointing was temporary (c.f. Sampson, Saul, etc.) - it was not the indwelling seal of the new Covenant upon them, but a temporal filling for a particular ministry.

The New Covenant is not another way of being justified, it is the only way of being saved (from sin).

Said another way, the believers under the old covenant were saved from one of sin's consequences - they were saved from sin's condemnation (ie they are justified). Under the New Covenant they are saved from -all- of sin's consequences - they are still saved from condemnation (justified), but they are also saved from sin's power - which is what Romans six through eight is about. The final blow against sin takes place when we are united with our resurrection bodies and released from sin's presence entirely.

The reason people confuse being born again with being justified is because they happen simultaneously under the New Covenant ecomony. When God demonstrated that Christ was the Son of God by raising him from the dead - the sign of Jonah - from that moment on, you could not be justified if you denied the revelation of God - that is, if you denied that Jesus was the Christ. To be sure, it was only days later that Pentecost happened - and the New Covenant was inaugurated.

Those Jews who rejected the divinity of Christ demonstrated themselves to have been never justified in the first place, and those who were justified by their previous faith, saw Christ for who he was, and on Pentecost thousands of justified Jewish believers accepted Christ and in doing so entered into the New Covenant.

The Apostles didn't get justified the moment they were born again at Pentecost, they were already justified as faithful Jews.

Because I see a distinction in scripture between justification and being born again - I am not inclined to use federal headship to answer some of the harder questions - instead I answer the questions without that particular presumption - and the answers I get lead me to believe that anyone who dies without [1] coming to a knowledge of good and evil sufficient to damn them, and [2] choosing to sin against God - will go to heaven because they are not condemned just because they possess a sin nature. Adam received a sin nature after he sinned - and if Adam is condemned it won't be because he has a sin nature, it will be because he sinned. Likewise, we who are born with a sin nature are enslaved to it from birth - but unless we are able to obey it with the full knowledge that we are rebelling against God in doing so - unless we can do that we are blind and have no sin - and even with our sin nature we are not condemned - for being in possession of a sin nature is not what condemned Adam, and it will not be what condemns those infants who inherit Adam's sin nature, but have no sin of their own to condemn them yet.

That is how I see it.

Mark - either we believe that Abraham was "born again" - and make a mockery of Pentecost, and the New Covenant - or we admit that Abraham was justified under an old covenant in the same way that we are justified in the new - and along with that truth we accept that the New Covenant is concerned with sanctification rather than justification - and follow that in your thoughts and see if my reasoning is so obscure.

let me know. and sorry about any typos I am in a hurry.

February 27, 2008 8:46 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

As I see Romans 2:29 -.. but he is a Jew that is one inwardly; and circumcission is that of the heart, in the Spirit... I see that this is the very definition of a Jew, both going backwards, before the cross as well as coming forward.

Unless your definition of Federal headship is different than mine, than I have already indicated in the above that Ihave no problem with such a doctrine when I refered to Adam and Christ as representative heads of respective races.

To be sure all of the benefits of the New Covenant were visited backwards to the pre cross saints, including the sanctification. That is how they lived unto God, under the law whereas those who were not really Jews did not. Notice the very definition of Israel is found in Psalm 73:1 - God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. That pureness was both brought about and sustained by God visiting New Covenant blessings backward in time to them. Else the above would be impossible.

Yes, The Old Covenant, with its attending Law was to shut people unto the faith that afterward to be revealed. Yes, by that law was the knowledge of sin. And, yes, not all under that covenant knew the Lord. In that covenant man's inability shown through; whereas in the NC the "I will's" of God shine through. By it people, yea all those therein, know God. And yes, by it people are made temples of the Holy Spirit.

Now, were Old Test. saints inhabitied by the Holy Spirit? As I look at Ezekiel 36:26-27 and consider David, Daniel, Asaph, etc. I must wonder if that was not the reason why these beautiful saint's hearts came to be such as they were - God's Spirit within. I mean look at Psalm 19; 119 and 139 - The writings of ones wonderfully toughed, yea, influenced by the Spirit. How else do these shine as lights amongst their apostate brethren?

February 27, 2008 11:20 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

If you were to ask me if I think David, Daniel, Asaph, etc. were regenerate I would shout "YES!".

February 27, 2008 11:25 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

I wonder if the "with you" versus the "in you" was speaking corporately. The Old Cov. was comprised of both those who knew God as well as those who did not. The OC God dwelt in the tabernacle/temple, but also individuals; whereas in the NC within hearts - individuals as well as the church corporately are temples of the Spirit.

February 27, 2008 11:34 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Considering John 7:38-39, the Spirit was yet to come to those who believe... Note this is in the context of a gospel invitation. Yes admitedly the Spirit was not yet given; and yet, as pointe out earlier His ministry was very evident in OT saints - the very life of God was in them.

February 27, 2008 11:40 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, do you think saints were born again? I think they were justified, but not born again.

February 27, 2008 1:12 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

That should read "OT saints"

February 27, 2008 1:48 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

I'm looking at knowledge of God versus no knowledge of God. I believe knowledge of God can only come through a regeneration experience; otherwise the carnal mind is enmity against God.

I see Jeremiah, a man rejected by nearly everyone, even his own father's house, and still he lived for the Lord; whose sanctification and devotedness to serving Him would make many a NT saint look uncommited.

I see Daniel the prophet, whose prayerlife was unshakeable, whose commitment to following God's law was unwavering; and his 3 friends who would not veer off even when faced with a furnace (I work in a heat-treat facility where furnaces burn orange-hot at 1800 degrees F), and still their faith and devotedness can serve up as examples for the Christian to follow.

I see those Psalms dealing with confession and repentance and the love for God and His word as perfect illustrations of the working of God's Spirit upon the lives of the writers.

The above are just some of the many examples of the beautiful artwork of God the Holy Spirit upon the life and heart of those who otherwise would have followed their apostate brethren into spiritual harlotry had they not been regenerate.
When the NT speaks of the lot of Christians, that of being conformed into the image of Christ, I can also see evidences of that in OT saints, and thereby take courage in the abilities of God in my life.

February 28, 2008 7:48 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, for any readers passing by, I will mention that knowledge "about" God is not what you mean when you say, "I'm looking at knowledge of God versus no knowledge of God". Rather you mean having a genuine relationship with God initiated by His grace, and consummated in our acting upon a faith He Himself enables in us.

I am reminded that creation gives every man enough knowledge about God that every person who becomes aware of creation is without excuse the moment they suppress the truth about God that is evidenced in creation.

But what you are talking about is knowing God - and I am sure you would agree that [1] no man can know God who does not seek God, and [2] that no man will ever seek God of his own accord, unless [3] God draws that man to Himself through Christ.

I submit that this is true whether one is drawn to God under the old covenant or the new.

Many are "called" by God's witness of Himself - as given in general through creation, or with much fuller revelation in OT Israel or in the NT church. Surely those who taste the graces of God, and see with their own eyes the work of the Spirit - these who reject God after such things are without hope in the world, for God cannot do anything greater to impress them than has already been done. If they reject the evidence of God - whether their understanding be as full as possible, or merely through what creation witnesses - yet they are called through that awareness of God to either reject or pursue God.

Yet we know that having no life in ourselves, every last one of us choses to reject God rather than pursue Him. We are all called by creation, to pursue God, and many are given far greater knowledge of than what creation demands - but however we are called, we all reject what is proffered.

Yet a few are chosen who, like everyone else, would have otherwise rejected God, and certainly many have been rejecting God with fervor - but when God determines it is time to draws His chosen - they come -- every last one of them.

Those who are chosen are not merely made aware of God and called to a decision - these are chosen by God and drawn to him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit who works externally to draw men to God.

Under the Old Covenants, this drawing brought God's chosen people into a justified state by grace through faith - this drawing brought them into spiritual Israel; through responding to this call they became partakers of the Old Covenant.

In the New Covenant this same drawing - this external work of the Holy Spirit brings God's chosen people into the same state of justification by grace through faith, but instead of bringing them into the old way of sanctification (the old covenants) it brings them into the New Covenant, that is, they are born again.

People were not born again under any other covenant but the final one - the "Promised Covenant" or the "New Covenant". Under this covenant they are born again (which is synonymous with entering into the kingdom of Heaven). This born again thing is a New Covenant blessing -only-. It wasn't inaugurated until Pentecost, and certainly wasn't retroactive in the Old Covenant.

I asked you the question because you seemed to be attributing to the OT saints things that can only be true of NT saints. The New Covenant is not a new way of being justified, it is a new way of being sanctified, and if that distinction isn't understood,... well, it makes for some interesting conclusions down the road.

February 28, 2008 2:36 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
I am another reader and have been following this exchange.

First, let me say that I have come to agree with your take on Romans 7, so I think I my mind is open to your views.

However, I believe you are off track here. You are essentially asserting that under the new covenant one can be justified by faith prior to regeneration, but it takes regeneration after justification for a person to be sanctified. Further, you state OT saints were justified by faith but not regenerated and thus not sanctified as in the New Covenant.

Jesus stated well before Pentecost that a person must be born again to even see the Kingdom of God. He did not speak of it as being a future event. Also, 1 John 5:1 seems to nail the order tight when John says: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God..... If you believe then you have been born of God. Regeneration first and then faith.

Eph. 2:4-5 seems to indicate a one step quickening process (regeneration) from spiritual death to spiritual life. Can you show a N.T. passage that indicates a two step process?

February 28, 2008 5:25 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

Thanks for staying with us!

I notice that immediately after the Fall, right in front of God, man's fallenness was manifested in Adam blaming his wife - every man for himself, selfishness' first manifestation - and then the gall to blame God for the fall.

I ask you. In this encounter do we see Adam manifest that desire to have the Lord blot out his transgression, or to be washed thoroughly from his iniquity or to be cleansed from his sin? Do we see Adam acknowledge his transgression? Do we see Adam conform to God's desire to have truth in the inward parts? Does Adam want God to purge him with hyssop, or to be whiter than snow? Do we see Adam ask God to create in him a clean heart, or not to take His Spirit from him? Do we see Adam ask God to restore to him the joy of His salvation?

No.

All of the above is expressed by David in Psalm 51, after his sin of adultry. Adam expressed none of these things. Only regeneration in David brought about the above prayers; regeneration IS THE answer.

February 29, 2008 7:20 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Wayne,

Thank you brother for taking the time to examine the discussion and offer your thoughts.

I think you will find that I did not use the word "regeneration" in any of my comments - which is to say that you may be reading into what I am saying something that isn't there.

To be certain, and to alleviate your fears, I most certainly do believe that unless the Holy Spirit works upon an unbeliever (quickens him or her), he or she will by no means be justified. If the sticky thing here is whether or not Dan believes that men can be justified in their own power, the answer is no, Dan does not believe that at all.

To be clear, if by regeneration we mean coming into possession of eternal life by grace through faith, then OT saints were certainly "regenerate". But let's continue to be clear here, that in no way implies that they were in the kingdom, that is, that in no way means that OT saints were born again.

Now I know that modern Christianity has equated the term "born again" with "saved" and "justified" - but I believe that while under this covenant these things happen simultaneously, and no one can have one without having the other - yet I believe it is a common theological inaccuracy to describe them as the same thing.

You rightly mention Christ's conversation with Nicodemus, and though you are quick to point out that you personally see nothing in that conversation that suggests a future event, yet I remind you what Christ said of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:11 which is repeated in paraphrase again in Luke 7:28, "11Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

John the Baptist was certainly "regenerate" in the sense that you are using the word, yet the testimony of God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ twice informs us (unequivocably) that John the Baptist was by no means in the kingdom. How is it that the greatest prophet who was ever born of a woman was not in the kingdom, if the Kingdom was already there?

John the Baptist himself preached that the kingdom was at hand (Mat 3:2), as did our Lord after John was imprisoned (Mat 4:17). Christ spoke in the sermon on the mount saying that the kingdom of heaven belonged to the poor in spirit and those prosecuted for righteousness sake, and he spoke many times of the Kingdom of heaven being at hand.

Now, what we make of this depends not on the grammar, but on what is being said and when. To preach that the kingdom was at hand can only suggest that the kingdom was something being waited for, and that the time of waiting for its inauguration had ended.

This tells us that OT saints were -not- in the kingdom, at least not in the sense that the term is used everywhere and by everyone in scripture, for even the greatest OT prophet wasn't in the kingdom, for the kingdom had not been inaugurated in John the Baptist's life time. It had come, in the sense that the King had finally arrived, but the inauguration had not yet taken place.

So when Christ speaks to Nicodemus, telling him that he must be born from above if he wants to enter the kingdom - Jesus is not speaking about how to be justified, he is speaking about how to be born from above, unless we are going to argue that John the Baptist wasn't justified - and I don't think we want to do that.

Being born from above is synonymous with entering the kingdom - that is why John the Baptist was not in the kingdom - he was an OT saint, justified by grace through faith, but not born again because in John's lifetime the Holy Spirit, who was certainly evident in John's life, and had been filling John since before he was born - had not yet come to indwell believers.

Now - let's be straight here. Saul was "filled" with the Holy Spirit - in the same way a sail is filled with air, as opposed to the way a glass might be filled with water. So long as the wind was blowing, and the sail was catching the wind, the boat would move in whatever direction the wind moved it. John was filled whenever the wind blew. But Saul shows us that such a filling is by no means equivalent to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are different annointments - the one being an annointing for some ministry, the other (in the NT) an indwelling Promise in the person of the Holy Spirit. The former could be removed, but not the later. The former was an annointing of a different order than the latter - as one involved a keeping and securing and the other did not - one was a seal, and the other was not.

If we fail to see the distinction, it will certainly flavor our understanding on this point.

Recall that 1 John 5:1 was written well after Pentecost, and as such when John says "born of God" he is saying that the person is being indwelt by the Holy Spirit according to tenets of the New Covenant - John is saying anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is in the kingdom (born of God), since entrance into the kingdom takes place the moment one receives the seal of Promise - the Holy Spirit, that is, the moment one is born again.

But OT saints were not born again. Pentecost hadn't come yet, so John's remark is only correct when it is applied correctly.

This is how I see it, correct me if you think I am wrong:
[1] Before creation, God elects the sinner
[2] Creation is made
[3] Adam is created with both physical and spiritual life
[4] Adam sins and loses spiritual life, and is cut of from the tree of life which was sustaining his physical life.
[5] Adam's descendants are born without spiritual life, and without access to the tree of life (hence they die physically as well)
[6] Through the witness of creation God makes himself known Adam's decendants such that they are without excuse - creation demands a creator, and the order in creation demands that this same creator has ordered things (meaning he has a will that creation follows, and we are therefore, as part of creation, likewise obligated to follow)
[7] God draws to Himself those whom he has previously elected - and He does so through the effective the Holy Spirit who quickens them - that is, God extends grace by which a man can have faith
[8] the elect sinner, having received God's grace (in that the Holy Spirit has revealed God in an irresistable way to the unbeliever), responds to that act of grace by extending faith towards God.
[9] Abram was chosen by God to be the Father of the race by whom God would reveal greater revelation of Himself that was evident in creation
[10] The Holy Spirit quicked Abram (grace)
[11] Abram, responding to the grace of God, believed God and this "faith" was accounted to Abram as righteousness, that is Abram was justified by grace through faith.

The quickening process is not in itself justification, it is only the grace that precedes justifying faith. If this is what you refer to as "regeneration" then I agree with you wholeheartedly, though with a different nomenclature.

I believe that a man is brought to justification through grace, and I understand grace as being the quickening work of the Holy Spirit irresistably revealing God to the unbeliever such that the unbeliever believes and is justified. "Quickening" precedes justification.

Yet, as I mentioned, I would not call the uickening "regeneration" - since regeneration by definition implies the generating again of a thing that was once there. In the unbeliever, faith cannot be "re"-generated, but it must be generated out of nothing. So while I would call the quickening work of the Holy Spirit a generating of faith, I would not call it a "regeneration" of faith. Likewise, I would not call it a "regeneration" because eventually it will graft the unbeliever "back" into that spiritual life that Adam forfeit - because the quickening itself does not do that, we are grafted in by a faith that is heralded by grace, but the grace itself is not the life we receive, it is the herald of it. So it would be inaccurate to use the term regeneration even in that sense.

Now, that may seem ni-picky, and I apologize if it does, but precision in language is the currency of understanding in such discussions.

To wind it up, justification is a forensic truth; the OT saints were certainly justified, but they were not indwelt by the Holy Spirit in the same way the New Covenant believers are. They were declared righteous by faith, but they were not empowered by the cross life to overcome sin, that is, they were not regenerate in the sense that I would use the word regenerate.

If I make this much longer it will be impossible to reply to without writing a book, so I will cut it off there.

Let me know if you still believe I am as far off as you thought.

February 29, 2008 8:49 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, after reading my reply to Wayne, let me know if my understanding of quickening suffices to satisfy your concerns in this latest regard.

February 29, 2008 8:50 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
I don’t think we are far apart at all. There are a couple of points we see differently. A lot of it has to do with definition of terms. Let me clarify my view on some of the terms we are using including the order of salvation. We seem to differ somewhat on these terms. I will not go through them all, but pick it up at the external call…….
1. external call: elect and non-elect alike receive this call which comes from Bible, radio, t.v., books, preaching, evangelism, etc. Even to the elect (as was case with me) this call may go unheeded for decades.

2. effectual call: The elect only receive this call and they all respond. It is irresistible as you said. I believe the effectual call time period can be rather long. It can start out as an interest to sincerely seek and progress from there until a time of truth conviction comes. I have never had anyone put this process in a neat box that fits all circumstances.

3. regeneration: regeneration = being born again. At this point the elect sinner is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and his nature has been totally changed. He is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) and immediately has the gift of faith and repentance.

4. saving faith: Comes shortly after regeneration (born again). This is where we differ as it seems as I believe regeneration comes first and it also occurred to the OT elect.

5. justification: God’s declaration of not guilty because of sinners faith in Christ’s atonement and his righteousness. It is an effect of regeneration but not part of it as you seem to think that I think.

6. adoption: adopted as son of God.

7. sanctification: process that is enabled by the Holy Spirit that results in the new regenerated creature growing in grace in a process that he cooperates with to varying degrees.

I’m out of time as Friday is a day I do a little work in the family business. Later today I will read your comment more thoroughly and try to understand your view better. I can say that I am not comfortable with my understanding of the relationship between the effectual call and regeneration. At the present, I do view them as separate acts of God, but I don’t have them reconciled and am open to change in my understanding. More later I hope………

February 29, 2008 10:24 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

Firstly, After Christ, the King, had come the Kingdom seems to receive those of the OT into it. See Luke 13:28-29 - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God...

Secondly, I do not see in your response to Wayne why there was a difference between how David responded when confronted with his sin, and how Adam responded. David acknowledged that the sacrifices of God are a "broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart". David pocessed these while Adam blamed Eve, and even God Himself. Why the difference???

February 29, 2008 11:05 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Wayne, after I had come to saving faith, but before I began to study scripture, my understanding of salvation was rather whimsical. I believed that I could lose my salvation by sinning - in fact for years I thought I was lost and beyond redemption because I had sinned after coming to saving faith. I was of the mistaken opinion that if my salvation had worked, I had to be forever sinless until I died in order to sustain it.

As I began to study the truth, most of my misconceptions fell away. It is, after all, the nature of light to dispel darkness. Yet I recognize that it wasn't as though I was actively seeking to dispel the darkness, or that I even knew that the "light that was in me was darkness" - it was that when the true light shone, the darkness fled. But the light of truth will only dispel the darkness of error wheresoever that light is comprehended. When scripture illumines some error, it often does so out of the blue rather than as a concentrated effort on my part to find error in myself.

I expect we are all like that, and this expectation strengthens me to presume that we all have patches in our understanding that have been informed by erroneous doctrines - however we received them, whether by bad teaching, or drawing poor conclusions - however they came, we all have some patches that cling to us like grit on a fry pan, which comes clean only after truth scours it away.

Given that, and not to present myself as exalted by reason of greater illumination, but rather I should say that there seems to be a light in my understanding that is not in yours, and the only conclusion I can draw is that one or both of us is presuming upon something that we regard as light and truth, but is in fact something we inherited not from the Spirit, nor through scripture, but by default according to some imagination, or some thoughtless teaching or poorly drawn conclusion.

The point of confusion seems to be on the matter of being born again.

You seem to be (and correct me if I am wrong) saying that being "born again" precedes faith; and you come to this conclusion because you regard he quickening of the Holy Spirit and the new birth as one and the same - thus you say that we are first born again, then we are justified by faith, and with this conclusion settled in your mind, you further conclude that all the OT saints were likewise "born again" - because we all agree that the OT saints were certainly quickened by the Holy Spirit into their faith.

While scripture clearly shows that the quickening precedes saving faith, it does not clearly draw the equation you are making. I won't deny that the quickening we speak of precedes faith, but I don't think scripture equates being born again with this quickening. I suspect you are making that presumption the same way most people do - because people presuppose that being "born again" is just another way of describing being "saved from hell" - and with that equation set as a default presumption in their mind, they can only presume that since people were saved in the OT they were in fact "born again" in the OT, and it would thereafter follow that being born again must therefore be the quickening that precedes faith - or something similar.

I don't pretend to know your presumptions, but I do see something in your reasoning suggestive of these a priori presumptions.

So I hope you will be patient with me as I suggest that rather concluding that being "born again" is synonymous with being "saved from hell" or being justified - I suggest to you, and perhaps an unfiltered reading of scripture will support this view, that being born again is not merely a new way of describing an old thing - for were it so, surely Nicodemus would have caught on - but is in fact something that was entirely new.

The New Covenant was that God would put his Spirit in a person and write upon that person's heart the laws of God - and cause that one to keep those laws.

There would hardly be a point in making a New Covenant if all the promises of the New Covenant were somehow already in effect in under the old Covenants.

I hope that makes sense.

We agree that men have been justified in exactly the same manner regardless of what covenant they find themselves under - all men are justified when God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, quickens the unbeliever, such that they receive saving faith in God. We agree that this is not something that a man can thwart, nor that a man can make happen by his own will.

But I hold firm the idea that this is by no means being "born again" - this is merely being justified.

We confuse justification with being "born again" because every since Pentecost whenever a sinner has been justified, he is immediately brought into the new covenant and "born again" - filled with the indwelling Spirit Who Himself is the New Covenant promise to God's people. Such that in our generation, it is perfectly acceptable to use the words "regenerate" and "born again" and "justified" to describe the same person - because everyone who is justified is born again and regenerate.

I do not believe that a man is born again before he is justified - for how does a man who is cut off from God receive the benefits of God's covenant until he is reconciled to God through faith? God, in this age, is certainly at work drawing the elect sinner by grace to the moment that the elect sinner enters into justification (becomes a believer) and enters simultaneously into the New Promise (the indwelling Holy Spirit), but the order would be:

quickening, faith, justification, new covenant (born again).

That is what I see given the light I have. Let us see if it is in fact darkness or not.

February 29, 2008 11:22 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, in the exchange recorded between Adam and God, we see no repentance, which indicates no Holy Spirit working upon Adam. In David we see the repentance which indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit working on David.

That is the difference.

Now let's move onto the more revealing comparison - David and Saul.

Saul at one time is filled with the Holy Spirit, that is, God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is at work in Saul, producing in him a man who was "small in his own eyes" - just as the Holy Spirit will eventually work in David. But at some point Saul becomes unrepentant - indicating what scripture plainly states about Saul - that he was no longer being acted upon by the Holy Spirit.

If being acted upon by the Holy Spirit in the OT is the same as being born again - that is, if we dare to say that David was "born again" because he was acted upon by the Holy Spirit - we must likewise allow that Saul was also born again, but having "lost" the Holy Spirit, which (if we are going to be consistent) would, by your equation, constitute losing "being born again" - and force us to conclude that one can lose their salvation.

Am I following your logic correctly?

February 29, 2008 11:44 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

The rebirth is a "character changer". Saul, from the very start, was disobedient to God in his disobeying Samuel's instructions. David, on the other hand, except in those notorious episodes, was a man after God's heart - the product of regeneration.

Another thing: David's murder of Uriah, and adultry with his wife were forgiven, while Saul's disobedience to Samuel wasn't - all indicating to me that David had a different relationship with God than Saul, Saul merely being acted upon by the Spirit for kingship.

February 29, 2008 11:55 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, the rebirth is certainly a "character changer" - how can the Holy Spirit come to indwell a man without that man's character eventually conforming to the person of God?

The question is whether the sanctifying ministry of the Holy Spirit was identical through the various covenants, and I say no it wasn't. You seem to be saying yes it was - or at least going out of your way to suggest it.

Let me know for sure.

February 29, 2008 12:17 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

The Abrahamic Covenant, "in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" finds its fulfillment in the New, Acts 3:25-26 - "in turning away everyone of you from your iniquities", and also, the Gospel itself is seen in that covenant in Gal. 3:7-9, 14. Also, in Galatians 3:14 the "promise of the Spirit" was part and parcel of the fulfilling of the Abrahamic Cov.

All the Old Testament Covenants either dirrectly or indirectly showed a progressive revelation of Christ and of His Kingdom, that kingdom brought forth in the New Covenant. That the Old Testament Saints could have the New Covenant blessings visited upon them is no problem in my book.

February 29, 2008 1:01 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

I must get ready for work now.

May the Lord bless you.
Except for short visits between now and 2 PM eastern, when I leave for work, I shall not be able to respond thoroughly. Hope to be back tomorrow.

Mark

February 29, 2008 1:13 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
You said......I suspect you are making that presumption the same way most people do - because people presuppose that being "born again" is just another way of describing being "saved from hell"

No, I realize being born again is different from justification. I view justification as God's response to faith. Hence, we have the doctrine of justification by faith alone. I believe regeneration is required prior to saving faith. While I am not completely settled on the relationship between quickening, the effectual call, and regeneration, I believe that quickening by the Holy Spirit makes the external call effectual and at some point in time the sinner is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, which changes his nature and causes him to respond in faith and repentance (conversion). I believe both NT and OT believers are regenerated (born again) prior to believing God (OT) and coming to saving faith in Christ (NT).

You must concede that your view of only NT saints being born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit leaves you with two classes of believers, OT saints and NT super saints. Why did Jesus speak of being born again as a present requirement to Nicodemus if it were to be something that was not yet in effect, but would be added at Pentecost? I also believe the kingdom of God here is referring to eternal life.

February 29, 2008 5:40 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Wayne - so John the Baptist didn't have eternal life?

I wholeheartedly affirm that: the OT saints are by no means partakers of the New Covenant Promise.

I am confident that: the kingdom is a reference to inclusion in the New Covenant promises.

Thus I concede that NT sanctification is by all means superior to OT sanctification, and of an entirely different order.

February 29, 2008 6:47 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

But justification hasn't changed a lick.

February 29, 2008 6:48 PM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
You said.....Wayne - so John the Baptist didn't have eternal life?

This statement is based on the premise that your view of Matthew 11:11 is correct and that I agree with it. While I enjoy your fresh insight and as I said earlier I really appreciate your view of Romans 6 and 7 that has really been a benefit to me, I do not believe you are correct on this passage. I would like to offer the following quote on the passage from a sermon by Dr. Ligon Duncan of First Presbyterian in Jackson, Mississippi:

"And yet, in verse 11, at the very end of that verse, the Lord Jesus tells us that John is not as great as even the least in the kingdom of heaven. What in the world does Jesus mean by that? After paying him this tremendous compliment, what is Jesus saying? He's not saying that John wasn't saved. But, he is reminding us of several very important things.
First of all, he's reminding us that He, Himself, represents a transition point in the history of God's dealings with His people. Jesus says that the Law and the Prophets were until John. All the things that lead up to the Messiah came to their culmination in John. With the coming of the Messiah, with Calvary and with Pentecost, the people of God are ushered into a new era. They experience a new fullness of the Spirit, a new fullness of His indwelling, a new universal proclamation of the gospel, a greater depth of spiritual experience than was normally experienced by those believers under the Old Covenant.
The Lord Jesus is saying that John - though he is the Joshua, though he is the Moses to point you to the promised land - John does not experience himself the blessings of the promised land realized. He is not unlike Moses, is he? Moses' job was to take the children of Israel into the land, and yet, Moses had to peer from Pisgah into the land. Moses never entered into the land. He was buried outside the land. His whole life was devoted to bringing the children of Israel into the land; but he, himself, did not go in. Joshua took the people of Israel in. So, also, John the Baptist. He would die in prison. John never got to see Jesus' incredible miracles with his own eyes. Can you imagine if you were like Simeon, holding that little baby in his arms and imagining the things that this child was going to do for God and for His cause and yet, he, himself, never saw our Lord do His great deeds. John never saw Calvary. He never saw Pentecost. His whole life was devoted to preparing the way for the Lord Jesus Christ and he never saw those things with his own eyes. You and I have been given those things in this book. We have been given a heritage that John was never even allowed to see. And, you know, the sad thing is that we discount it. We overlook it. We don't realize the privilege that is ours. That's precisely what the Lord Jesus is saying here. He is saying that ‘those who were children of the kingdom - My kingdom that I've inaugurated now in a fullness that had never been experienced before under the days of the Old Testament - My people are greater even than John the Baptist; even the least of them are more blessed, more privileged and have more benefits.’

February 29, 2008 10:41 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Wayne,

I'm taking my computer tower in for servicing tomorrow (Saturday), and shall be gone all day. I hope to be back on line some time in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, BC blog is all yours.

Mark

February 29, 2008 11:54 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Wayne, If L.D. is suggesting that John the Baptist was in the kingdom, then he does so at his own peril, since Christ Himself holds John up in direct opposition to those who are in the kingdom.

I don't think it is a slight against John the Baptist in any way, but a statement (even as L.D. grasps and expounds in his own language) that exalts the new covenant blessings in the coming Kingdom.

Christ Himself, in teaching the apostles to pray - taught them to pray - not to thank God for the kingdom as though it were already there, but rather to ask God to inaugurate His kingdom - that His kingdom would come.

In Luke 23:51 Luke describes Joseph of Arimathea as, "...a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for the kingdom of God. When I think of Joseph of Arimathea, I am reminded of the mindset of those disciples Christ spoke with on the road to Emmaus. How they "...were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel..." - what uncommon faith Joseph must have had, to go to Pilate and ask for Christ's body, to place it in his own tomb. I don't doubt that the faith of Joseph of Arimathea was saving faith - yet Luke describes this saint as "waiting for the kingdom."

Granted the kingdom is at once a spiritual reality, and will one day be a physical reality, but the message John the Baptist (and later Christ) was preaching was not that the physical kingdom was at hand, or the physical kingdom would have been inaugurated - rather the message was to repent because the Spiritual kingdom that had been proclaimed was about to be inaugurated. I believe that inauguration happened at Pentecost, and while I respect Ligon, I see nothing in his handling of Mat. 11:11 that would persuade me away from what I see in scripture.

Which is not meant as a dismissive thing to say - I am nothing, and have no illusions about that, and I reserve always in my thinking the possibility that I am sorely mistaken - but I also trust the anointing I have, that when truth is set before me, He who is my anointing will convict me of it - perhaps not instantly, but eventually, so long as I am humble (teachable).

I say that to encourage you that if you continue to see nothing in what I am saying, that you not fail or give up trying to dissuade me from an empty vanity. I have no interest in "winning a debate" - my only interest is to be convinced of what is true and that in the proclaimation of that truth Christ be glorified, and His children be set free (in practice) from bondage.

March 01, 2008 9:41 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
While I do not accept all of covenant theology, I believe the covenant established with Abraham was with spiritual Israel. One salvation for the elect throughout history (Gal. 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.) Also, Gal. 4:21-31 and Romans 9:4-9 seem to speak of one promise without distinction.

You said…… I wholeheartedly affirm that: the OT saints are by no means partakers of the New Covenant Promise.

I believe the promise made to Abraham was the new covenant promise, which essentially was the person and work of Jesus Christ. How can OT saints be saved if they are not covered by the fulfillment of the new covenant (Hebrews 9)? If they are saved by the new covenant promise as Hebrews indicates, how can they not be partakers of the new covenant promise?

Also, I believe Romans 11:26-27 is speaking of spiritual Israel and it is speaking of one group of people without distinction throughout redemptive history.

March 01, 2008 1:24 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Wayne, no one is suggesting that Abraham didn't receive a promise from God concerning Christ. What is being considered is whether or not the promise had yet to be fulfilled or not.

Scripture makes it very plain, and by "very" I mean inescapably plain, that the prophets were waiting for the fulfillment of the promises that had been given. To presume that because a promise is given that the promised benefits are in effect is an error.

I can promise my son an inheritance - and deliver the inheritance to a law firm who will dispense it on my demise to my son. The inheritance is no longer mine, but his - he is certainly the recipient of my "promise" but he is by no means in possession of it until the appointed time.

Pentecost was the appointed time - the awaited kingdom was at hand, the time for the fulfilling of the promise was nigh.

The blood of bulls and goats couldn't take Abraham's sin away any more than it could take away the sins of OT Israel. These were "placeholders" pointing to the one sacrifice that would propitiate God for all the sins of everyone who ever had turned to God in faith, or ever would (including Noah who predates the Abrahamic Covenant by ten generations at least.)

The reason we call justification 'forensic' is because it isn't experiential - that is, it does not register to our senses. That's because it is a legal decision in God's court - a declaration that our debt has been paid. Not that the debt has been excused mind you, but that it has been paid.

In the OT the saints were just as justified by faith as we are - and in exactly the same way as we are justified. Both the OT saints and the NT saints will come before God on the day we are judged and regardless of which covenant we were born into, we will all find that our redemption was purchased with Christ's blood.

I hope I can cast some light on to the difference I see. I agree that the OT saints were justified by Christ's sacrifice - even if they didn't have enough light to comprehend "how" God was going to save them, that is, even if they didn't know that God Himself was going to unite himself to themselves, and take their sin into Himself as he offered himself on a cross, to die, and that his innocence would demand a resurrection that we could partake in through the same union, and thereby become partakers of that life that is in Christ - even though the OT saints were ignorant of the nuts and bolts of how it was all going to come together - yet I say, they were saved by Christ. It has never been a requirement that a sinner understand "how" it all works in order to be justified, for all a sinner needs to be justified is that God grants that sinner grace through which the saving faith that justifies a believer comes.

Though they come into possession of a promise of an inheritance - they do not receive the inheritance.

We have come into a -better- promise. We receive the same inheritance when we die, but the better promise includes something for the here and now - the indwelling Holy Spirit - a new way to be sanctified.

Like yourself I believe the Israel in Rom 11:26-27 represents all who are (or ever were) justified - regardless of which covenant they were (or are) in (including Noah). Yet until we stand before the Judge ourselves on judgment day our "justification" is about as tangible as an inheritance we are guarenteed to one day receive. It has no substance in itself - but is the promise of substance.

The New Covenant promise has substance (a new way of being sanctified), but this substance doesn't travel back in time to the OT saints, or there would have been no reason for any of them to have been converted. Yet Christ tells His "aready saved" disciples (c.f. Matt. 18:3) that they -must- be converted or they will not enter into the kingdom.

If they were already in the kingdom because they were justified under the Old Covenant, why did they need to enter the kingdom again, and why did Christ say that they had to be converted? Converted from what into what?

I mean, if we have been fed all the pabulum we inject our tradition into those verses. I am reminded of the little stick they use to tie down elephants. When the elephant is a wee-little elephant they tie it down with a peg, and try as he might, the elephant can't pull himself free. Eventually - long before he grows big and strong - he gives up trying, having settled in his mind that the stick cannot be pulled out. Then when he is full grown, and fully capable of pulling that little toothpick out of the ground, yet he doesn't even think about it because long ago he understood that he couldn't pull the stick out, and that it was futile to even try.

So too, when we train ourselves in our infancy to equate words in order to facilitate a cohesive understanding when we are babes - how we hear a word like "converted" and no longer bother to ask the question - convereted from what to what - we just presume that it means "become a believer" because that is the toothpick that held us as babes.

Which is not to suggest that you are a babe - rather it is because that illustration is on my mind presently, that I saw an opportunity to pull it into use here as a general illustrative observation, and not intended or directed at you in particular.

Yet the point stands - what do we do with Matt 18:3? We know from a synoptic reading that this discussion was taking place between the twelve - eleven of whom were saints. We ought not to conclude (I think) that they were "lost" and in need of salvation - that is, we ought to be careful not to say that Christ is speaking of unbelievers being converted to believers. What I conclude is that these men were not in the kingdom, and needed to be converted to enter the kingdom. They were certainly part of Israel - but to equate Israel with the kingdom is to say that [1] Israel did not exist before Pentecost, [2] Isreal did not exist before the "time was at hand", etc. You get the gist of it.

I don't doubt that the covenant given to Abraham and mentioned in Gal. 4:21-31 and Romans 9:4-9 speaks of its fulfillment in Christ - what I am having trouble seeing from your theology is any distinction being made between the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant.

We rightly conclude with Paul that God promised spiritual descendants to Abraham and that one is not of the promised children because of physical ancestry, but rather through spiritual ancestry. Yet there is no link between covenants such that all that is enjoyed under the dispensation of the one covenant is retroactively applied to those who preceded it. That is, we do not imagine that the better benefits of the new covenant are projected backwards in time to the OT saints simply because we are all spiritual children of Abraham.

Let me know if I have belabored that too strongly. ;^), and thanks for your continued patience.

March 02, 2008 8:19 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Daniel,
While I do not view these points as you do, I concede there is certainly some difference in the work of the Holy Spirit in the new covenant. I will keep my antenna up in Scripture for any support of your position including the ones you think conclusively support your view.

I agree with your thinking that many very knowledgeable Christians are bound by tradition, and I admit I was a prisoner to my PCA denomination tradition until about 3 years ago. This denomination tradition is essentially the Westminster Confession. Although I am a strong believer in a church having a doctrinal statement of beliefs, I am no longer bound by anything other than Scripture. I have developed a few differences with the Westminster Confession, but fortunately my church only requires our pastors and officers to acknowledge a belief in the confession. I strongly affirm all five of our membership vows, which is all that members must affirm.

Thanks for the interesting discussion and it will definitely cause me to seek more verification or possibly doubt for my view.

Wayne

March 02, 2008 1:23 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

I go back to my original point - that you simply cannot separate the benefits of the NEW Covenant. Unless they were applied backwards no one would have believed; no one would have had that broken and contrite spirit and heart.

Look at Jeremiah 32. Beginning in verse 23, and going on to verse 36, we see what happens to God's law when unregenerate, largely apostate Israel is exposed to it. Failure.

Now, look at verses 38- They shall be My people
39-I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me forever
40- I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Pictured here is that contrite heart God so desires - Isaiah 66:2. If God had not visited these benefits backward there would have been no David, the man after God's heart, nor Asaph, nor Daniel. They all would have gone the way of the people mentioned in Jeremiah 32:23-36.

That being converted was a principle in place from the earliest of redemptive history. Becoming as a little child was coming to God knowing that you are completely helpless. Note David's Psalms, how he is so child-like in his dependence upon God.

Mark

As you say that Christ's sacrifice went backwards to all of God's chosen, even to the earliest times, so did the benefits of His cross-work - the New Covenant -

March 05, 2008 8:08 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, the picture I see from scripture is that an unbeliever is justified by grace through faith - because God has entered into a covenant with that "new believer."

I believe that the covenant that God enters into with the new believer is determined by whichever covenant is current at the time. If a man was justified while the Mosaic covenant was in effect - then God enters into the Mosaic Covenant with the man; if the man is justified after Pentecost, then God enters into the New Covenant with the new believer. A man who was brought into the Mosaic could expect to receive the benefits and promises of that covenant: atonement for sins; God made the new believer His special possession among all people of the earth (providing the new believer obeyed God and kept God's covenant); God made the new believer one of a kingdom of priests and part of a holy nation; likewise God gave the new believer the Sabbath as the permanent sign of the Mosaic covenant).

Yet in the New Covenant the believer receives better promises: atonement for sin is still given, but it is not masked in symbolism as it was in the older covenants - but openly understood; Unique to the New Covenant was the "New Birth" (Being born from above; i.e. being indwelt by the Holy Spirit as a Seal unto the day of redemption); this "new heart" this "new Spirit" was a promise peculiar to the New covenant - justified believers under this new covenant could expect to be sanctified by God in a way that was both different and superior to the way God sanctified men under former covenants.

Noteworthy is that each covenant provided atonement for the sinner - that is, there is no reason to project the atonement from the New Covenant back into the former covenants, as though they lacked this promise, or as though the atonement is somehow especially "linked" to this covenant and not to the others. God's promise to atone is not specific to this covenant, but was available under all the previous covenants.

Since there is no need to project the atonement of the N.C. backwards into older covenants, there is even less need to project the promises associated with newer covenants into the older ones, unless we are convinced that the New Covenant is in fact some overarching covenant that singularly is pictured by the older "symbolic" covenants. But I don't buy that for a moment.

I believe we are saved into whichever covenant is current - period. The only place I tie justification to being "born again" is in the covenant that speaks of being born again - that is, the new covenant. Justified believers under the older covenants were not born again - they were justified by faith, and received only the benefits and promises of the covenants they were brought into when they were justified.

I am being purposely brief, so I hope I haven't missed anything. Let me know if you see the big picture of what I am saying. You have restated your position several times, and it continues to boil down to "justified" = "born again" without showing that this is so.

My position is that Justified = brought into a particular covenant, and made a recipient of the promises and benefits of that covenant - which in our age is the New Covenant, such that I do not confuse or blur into one the notion that all saints were "born again" - reserving that benefit and promise, as I believe scripture attests, to the New Covenant only.

March 05, 2008 5:40 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

I asked you to consider Jeremiah 32 in my previous comment to you. Please explain why there were those who turned to God their backs under that covenant while there were others - David, among others - who came to God with contrite and broken hearts and spirits. You say I have stated my position several times, yet you have provided no satisfactory answer. The law was a school master; but only the elect true Israel treated it that way. The rest, those who were not really Israel, turned their back on God. Mission accomplished.

God having visited the crosswork of Christ backward to the OT saints insured that there would be a remnant. Had He not done so there would be no remnant, man's nature being hostile to God would be the reason.

As a result of the Fall every intent of man's heart was evil continually. Mankind goes from the womb are estranged from the womb. They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies. No man is capable of loving God with all the strength or obeying His every word. No man wants to. No man could have obeyed God under the OT system. Yes, blessings were experienced for obedience; and only those who experienced the enablement of God, provided by His having visited the benefits of Christ's crosswork backwards, shared in those blessings.

Your note that the NC is built on better promises is acknowledged. The OC showed men their need for Christ and the NC. The remnant embraced that aspect of that ministry while the non-elect rejected it, it being natural for them to do so.

I acknowledge that God's ways were mediated to humanity through the OC during its time. Fallen humanity, represented by OT Israel, did with it what came natural; they spurned it.

The NC means LIFE. No LIFE, no Heaven - and that was true for the believing remnant of the OT.

March 06, 2008 8:09 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark said,
Look at Jeremiah 32. Beginning in verse 23, and going on to verse 36, we see what happens to God's law when unregenerate, largely apostate Israel is exposed to it. Failure.

Now, look at verses 38- They shall be My people
39-I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear Me forever
40- I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Pictured here is that contrite heart God so desires - Isaiah 66:2. If God had not visited these benefits backward there would have been no David, the man after God's heart, nor Asaph, nor Daniel. They all would have gone the way of the people mentioned in Jeremiah 32:23-36.


I thought I had answered this already. Humph?

In verses 23-35 of Jeremiah 32, the prophet describes how Israel broke the Mosaic covenant.

I pause here to remind us that even though they broke the Mosaic covenant, Leviticus 26:42 reminds us that God would renew the covenant if they returned to Him.

I remind us of that so that we are not so much in danger of confusing the next verses in Jeremiah which refer to the New Covenant with what followed, historically, which was a renewing of the Mosaic Covenant. We know this was a renewing of the Mosaic covenant and not the New Covenant, because they rebuilt the temple upon their return, and reestablished the sacrifices prescribed under the Mosaic Covenant.

Verses 37-38 is where God tells us that even though He was the one who scattered them, yet He will bring them back to the plot of land He drove them from and that they would dwell there in safety, and be his people and He their God. God says that at some point after they have returned he will make a new covenant with them - and precedes to describe it.

Now, as I pointed out above - this New Covenant didn't begin then, but rather God renewed the Mosaic Covenant as is evidenced tangibly in the rebuilding of the temple, and the reestablishment of the daily sacrifices as required under the Mosaic covenant. So the latter verses in Jeremiah 32 are not recording what was going to happen to Ezra, Nehemiah, and that lot - rather it was describing the "New Heart" that Israel would eventually receive when her Savior came.

We are instructed in Hebrews 9, that the holy place wherein the priests ministered daily for such offenses as ritual uncleanness etc. represented the Mosaic Covenant, and the Holy of Holies represents the New Covenant - and that the one is not only superior to the other - that is, only once each year (on Yom Kippur) the High Priest entered the Holy of holies with blood to atone for sin. This "once per year" atonement was superior to the daily ritualistic cleansing, for it cleansed from all the sins committed in that year - this was a picture (the author of Hebrews tells us) of the old Mosaic covenant and the coming New Covenant - the old system, represented by the daily sacrifices, and the new covenant represented by the once (per year) and for all atonement.

The point the author of Hebrews makes is that the coming of Christ, who went into the real holy of holies not with the blood of bulls and goats, but with his own blood - this same Christ having entered into the Holy of holies in heaven, does leave it, but continues there interceding day and night for us - but the intercessory work there has to do with the atonement.

I do not deny that the atonement is applied to all saints in every covenant - for all covenants point to this truth.

What I deny is that we should combine the atonement with being born again - which is a New Covenant promise.

Under the Mosaic covenant, there was a veil between the place where a man was justified (the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement) and the place where a man was sanctified (the "holy place" - where the priests entered and ministered daily with regards to purification.)

What we do when we are confused about the distinction between the atonement and the manner in which saint is sanctified, is that we are confuse what is done in the holy place with what is done in the holy of holies.

Yes, the atonement applies to all saints - and rightly so - but the manner of purification/sanctification is not the same throughout the covenants. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a new covenant benefit that must not be confused with the atonement. The Holy Spirit, prior to Pentecost, did not indwell believers, but he has always convicted men of sin and of righteousness - that is His ministry, and he needn't indwell a person to minister to that person in that way. In fact, the Holy Spirit has ministered in this way to many who will never be saved (c.f. Hebrews 6:4-6). But -that- ministry, the "external" one must never, ever be confused with being "born again." Being born again means to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and that didn't happen before Pentecost, excepting of course, in the person of Jesus Christ who was indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

You seem to be adamantly convinced that the only way the Holy Spirit works upon a believer is if that believer is born again. I think this is an error on your part, as scripture clearly shows the Holy Spirit working in men who were never justified. How did God harden Pharaoh's heart - without the Holy Spirit? How did Balaam prophesy - without the Holy Spirit? How did Balaam's donkey speak - without the Holy Spirit - or was he just a very smart, er... donkey?

If God's spirit had not worked upon the Israelites they would by no means have repented - I have never denied this. But what I do not equate so quickly is the idea that everyone in whom God's spirit works is born again - and I do not press into the OT saints the NC benefits.

Consider the possibility Mark - that your entire opinion is resting upon an equation that isn't there.

My understanding of these things in no way causes me to doubt or contradict the idea that the Holy Spirit regenerates a man, and not his own cleverness or intellect. There is nothing in my understanding that imagines or suggest that man has ever had to go it alone when it comes to justification, and even sanctification. Where we differ is that your theology places the atonement -only- in the "New Covenant" (correct me if I am mishandling your opinion) and therefore because the atonement transcends all covenants, you project the New covenant to all the other covenants.

I say that the atonement itself is not the "new covenant" - but that the true atonement that was offered in Christ was heralded by the New Covenant - that just as the earthly Holy of Holies was superseded when Christ entered the heavenly reality of it - so too the earthly way in which sanctification was handled was replaced with a spiritual way - the new birth.

The OT saints were by no means atoned for by the blood of bulls and goats - these were just place holders for the reality that was to come. Just as the purification laws and whatnot were placeholders for the coming indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They didn't have that back then - they only had the place holder.

Yes, if a man became contrite it was not his doing, but the Lords through the work of the Holy Spirit - but this was not an indwelling - not a born again experience - this was a part of justification - a part of the atonement - not a part of sanctification.

If there is one thing I want to people to see with clarity, it is the line between sanctification and justification.

March 06, 2008 12:04 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Jeremiah 32:37-41 (New King James Version)
New King James Version (NKJV)
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

37 Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. 38 They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. 41 Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’

Read this part especially...
"but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me."

Sounds like a New Covenant promise to me; or else this renewing of the Old ended up being a miserable failure as the returnees did not take long to fall away from God.

That whole thing about Balaam's donkey and such... Hmmm. Can you say "caracature"?

Some how you seem to enjoy mischaracterizing other positions. Where am I blending Justification and Sanctification. Only in your view of my position is that happening.

It seems your position puts you in an unenviable position of explaining why some believed, obeyed and had contrite hearts, while others did not.

Note: please shorten your answers. Get to the point quicker if you can. Those of us with sixth grade reading ablities have a hard time following you. :^)

March 06, 2008 12:34 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark,

Did they erect the temple after their return from Babylon? Did they reestablish the Mosaic sacrifices? - if you say "Yes" you cannot soberly deny that God fulfilled his words from Leviticus 26:42 - that he would renew the Mosaic Covenant if after they broke it, they turned again to Him. They turned to Him, and the Mosaic Covenant was renewed - or God is a liar.

In order to keep my comments shorter I will not answer each thing you say in one post.

March 06, 2008 1:04 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, you say, Sounds like a New Covenant promise to me; or else this renewing of the Old ended up being a miserable failure as the returnees did not take long to fall away from God.

The renewal -was- a miserable failure, I am surprised you are only seeing it now. As the author of Hebrews makes abundantly clear in that had the Mosaic covenant been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second (c.f. Hebrews 8:7).

The reason they needed a new covenant, was because they demonstrated that they couldn't keep the Mosaic covenant.

When God renewed the Mosaic Covenant it wasn't a "let's try it again and hope it works this time" sort of thing - he had already promised that a better covenant was coming - but they had not yet endured under the Old Covenant, all that they were held by God accountable to endure.

March 06, 2008 1:10 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark you said, That whole thing about Balaam's donkey and such... Hmmm. Can you say "caracature"?

I am not painting a caricature, I am showing that not everyone that the Holy Spirit acted upon was born again. Balaam's donkey is a perfect example of that. You would find it very difficult to argue that Balaam's donkey was born again - and rightly so, but the argument you are making leaves only one conclusion - that everyone who has ever experienced the Holy Spirit's ministry in their life in any capacity or under any covenant -must- (by definition) be "born again" - and Balaam's donkey shows you how wrong that premise is.

March 06, 2008 1:14 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

When I said "The renewal -was- a miserable failure,"
====
I was pointing out that your contention that there was a renewal of the Old here was mistaken.
=======
I am surprised you are only seeing it now. As the author of Hebrews makes abundantly clear in that had the Mosaic covenant been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second (c.f. Hebrews 8:7)."
=====
Daniel, you have taken this right where I wanted to go. Believe me, I've been pondering Hebrews 8:7 since 1979. I am sorry to have to leave for work now. Perhaps we can take this up again tomorrow. However the fault did lie with the people because they were hostile to God by nature. They needed a nature change. Such was brought about through the NC. David, Asaph and the others had the NC blessings visited backwards in time in order to be that remnant who actually was faithful to God.

March 06, 2008 1:19 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

" am not painting a caricature, I am showing that not everyone that the Holy Spirit acted upon was born again."
====
I NEVER said such a thing. YOU did. Nonsequitur, anyone?

March 06, 2008 1:21 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, you asked Where am I blending Justification and Sanctification.

I thought I had showed you exactly where, in drawing your attention to what the author of Hebrews tells us about the tabernacle.

He points out that the holy of holies was entered into for one purpose, and that once per year - for the purpose of atonement. He points out that the holy place, the room in front of the holy of holies, is entered daily - not for atonement, but for purification. The outer room not atoning for anyone, but only the inner. The Mosaic covenant, or so the author tells us, is pictured by the outer room, and the -end- of that covenant pictured by the inner room - the holy of holies. When Christ entered the Holy of Holies in heaven, it ended the Mosaic covenant, because a new covenant was inaugurated.

What ended? The Mosaic way of sanctification is what ended.

What you suggest is that there never was a Mosaic way of sanctification, but that the way we are sanctified today (being born again) happened to all men through out every covenant because you do not see a distinction between the atonement itself, and the covenants in which that atonement if effective - you simply push the new covenant backwards in time - and that is where I think you are tripping up.

March 06, 2008 1:23 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

See ya tomorrow

March 06, 2008 1:23 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark said, It seems your position puts you in an unenviable position of explaining why some believed, obeyed and had contrite hearts, while others did not.

There are no unenviable positions when one is talking about God's truth. It is a privilege and a great honor to take part in a discussion where our very words are being recorded and will be recalled before God one day.

I have explained why some have believed and others have not, but I will restate it here for you, but I will use covenantal language, because perhaps you will understand that better?

All (including the elect) are born utterly depraved, and unless God intervenes, they (having no life in themselves) will by no means repent and seek God.

Those who are elect God brings into whatever covenant is current by drawing them to Himself through the ministry of the person of the Holy Spirit. This drawing is irresistible: those whom God "drags" to Himself (it is an act of grace!) through the Holy Spirit's "quickening" ministry come to justifying faith, and in the moment they do, they enter fully into whatever covenant is current.

They are atoned for by the blood of Christ (regardless of which covenant they are saved into), but, depending upon which covenant they are saved into, they will only be sanctified according to the promises inherent in (attached to) the covenant they are saved into.

Those who are not drawn by God, are by no means made contrite.

Plainly stated, those who become contrite do so because God personally works it out in them that they begin to will and do God's good pleasure. We remind ourselves at this point that the manner in which God works this out in the believer is governed by the covenant the believer finds himself or herself in.

Those who are not contrite are not worked upon by the Holy Spirit because they are not being drawn to God.

March 06, 2008 1:36 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, you said, Daniel, you have taken this right where I wanted to go. Believe me, I've been pondering Hebrews 8:7 since 1979. ... However the fault did lie with the people because they were hostile to God by nature. They needed a nature change.

I will start with that much, and pick up the next bit in the next post.

We agree that in our depravity we are hostile to God.

We agree that unless God intervenes in some way we will remain hostile to God.

You suggest that the only way that God has ever intervened has been by changing our nature - which you correlate to the new birth of the New Covenant - hence you see the New Covenant being projected backwards in time to everyone who was ever "regenerate" - a term you used synonymously with the rebirth.

I suggest that this is sloppy and simplistic, that in attempting to answer a valid question you have grasped a near, but not accurate answer.

Since all men are by default hostile to God, if follows that when God enters into a Covenant with a man, He is entering into a covenant with a person who is hostile to Him. If we want to be succinct, we may even note that without this default hostility there would not be a reason for God to enter into such a covenant.

If God determines to enter into a covenant with a man while that man is still hostile to God, we cannot premise the covenant upon a change in man's nature - rather we premise the covenant upon God's grace.

If the covenant is premised on God's grace we conclude that it was not premised upon a "change of nature" - which leaves us with only one logical conclusion - that the "change in nature" you speak of, does not belong in this part of the equation.

March 06, 2008 2:07 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, If I were you, and I read that the change of nature doesn't factor into that part of the equation, my next question would be - well, where do you (Daniel) think it factors in?

There is a change in relationship that takes place the moment an unbeliever comes to justifying faith. In the moment the new believer was justified, he entered into a new relationship with God - a relationship that was defined according to the covenant he was brokered into. If this relationship took place under the Mosaic Covenant, the Holy Spirit ministered to you externally through out your life. You were by no means indwelt by the Holy Spirit - that is, you were not "born from above in God's Spirit" - but you were not left to your own depravity either. You were a person in whom God's Spirit was working.

If I were David, and I had to describe that - I would say that where once you were a sinner - you were now converted. The reason David loved God's law was because the Holy Spirit was producing that work in David.

But recall that the -same- Holy Spirit, worked the -same- change in Saul with only one exception: God took away this anointing from Saul.

This anointing, was not the same as the new birth - it was inferior to it in that a man could mess it up and lose it, as Saul did. No one denies that God was working in the power and person of the Holy Spirit in OT saints - but what is denied (by me at least) is that this power is one and the same as the new birth. I say it that is an over-simplification that may work in a "close enough" sort of way for most doctrine - but when we begin to discuss deeper things like whether or not children are saved - such simplifications can be detrimental.

They did not need to be "born again" - they needed to have the Holy Spirit work on them according to the tenets of the covenant into which they were brought.

Thus I am careful not to count as one and the same what happened to say, John the Baptist, and what happened to say, the least who is in the kingdom - for it is evident that the work of the Holy Spirit was done in John, but under the New Covenant the Holy Spirit no longer simply works externally in a man, but internally through the new birth.

March 06, 2008 2:38 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

The other part you said mark was, Such was brought about through the NC. David, Asaph and the others had the NC blessings visited backwards in time in order to be that remnant who actually was faithful to God.

I hope I have at least driven some thoughtful pause into this presumption in my last post.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is dictated by the economy of the covenant into which the believer is saved, as John alludes to in John 14:7 - the Spirit was formerly dwelling "with" them, but would (on , and following, Pentecost) be -in- them.

It isn't that the Holy Spirit wasn't working in the OT saints, it is that they weren't recipients of benefits that were unique to the new covenant (the new birth).

They didn't call the new birth the "existing birth" or the "same-old-same-old birth that's been 'round since old Moses' day" - it was aptly described as a "new" birth, because it was something that those men who were already saints under the old Covenant - did not have, but ought to have been anticipating - since it was promised from as far back as Jeremiah's day. Hence Christ's admonishment of Nicodemus for not understanding what he was talking about (you are the teacher of Israel and you don't know these things?)...

March 06, 2008 2:46 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, said, I NEVER said such a thing. YOU did. Nonsequitur, anyone?,

Chalk that up to my being in too many discussions lately.

Sometimes when I get my golf club out, everything starts to look like a little dimpled white ball. I commend myself to your grace.

March 06, 2008 3:02 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Daniel,

As I mentioned way back up in this meta, though in different words, the new birth became a universal offer after Pentecost, whereas before, it was only for the few, the remnant, as it were. You acknowledge some sort of change in character for those whom God justfied in the OT; yet stop short of attributing that to some sort of new birth. Interesting. Adam clearly displayed the signs of spiritual death the moment God confronted him after the Fall. He took to blaming Eve, then, ultimately, God Himself. Such is not the contrite heart or broken spirit displayed by David after Nathan's challenge to him. Psalm 32 and 51.

That the work of God's Spirit on Saul was of a different kind than that experienced by David is also something I covered earlier. David was foregiven the moment he acknowledged his sin to Nathan, whereas Saul was not when he acknowledged his sin to Samuel. God imputed Saul's sin to him whereas He did not impute David's sin to him - Psalm 32:1-2 - indicating that God had entered into a different type of relationship with David than with Saul.

March 07, 2008 7:32 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

Your position does not satisfacterly answer why there is that change of character from a hard heart (death) to contrition, the soft, pliable heart and broken spirit (life).

That the Spirit was merely "with" the disciples and not "in" them does not indicate that He was not in the OT saints. The OT saints displayed far more faithfullness to God without the presence of Jesus with them than did the disciples, who had Jesus with them; indicating to me that the disciples were in a different kind of relationship than were the OT saints.

March 07, 2008 7:47 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

The OT saints can be used as objects and examples of Christlikeness, whereas the disciples, well, not so much so.

Now, you said yesterday that Jeremiah 32:37-41 is a case where God was going to renew the old Mosaic Covenant with Israel. Look at the wording in verses 39 - "that they may fear Me forever", or "I will make an everlasting Covenant with them...". I say that was sloppy handling of that passage on your part. Clearly the NC was in view here.

March 07, 2008 8:00 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

If not the visiting backwards of the total of Christ's crosswork to the OT saints, then where, in the OT economy, was there provission for a changed character?

March 07, 2008 8:03 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, (re: Adam, David, contrition, and the new birth), allow me to use the same argument you are using, but with different circumstances involving the same people...

When Adam was confronted by the consequences of his sin - that is, by the certainty that eventually this sin would become public knowledge, the first thing scripture records Adam doing is hiding from God. Not exactly the picture of contrition.

When David was confronted by the inevitable consequences of his sin with Bathsheba, he likewise tried to cover it up - for weeks on end he tried to cover it up. Again, not exactly the picture of contrition.

Do I conclude that David was not contrite because his initial response was sinful? Or do I conclude that Adam is in hell because his latter contrition isn't as explicitly stated in scripture as David's?

If scripture had not recorded David's contrition, we would certainly have deduced it when we see God making a covenant with David. In other words, the explicit inclusion of that information was not necessary for us to deduce David's contrition. We can see it plainly enough elsewhere - and we rejoice that God has made David's contrition not only explicit but implicit.

Yet what of Adam? Clearly we lack the explicit verse that demonstrates Adam's contrition. Based upon that are we free to conclude, as you seem to be, that Adam was not justified?

Recall that after the fall God clothed Adam in the skins of innocent animals. Let that image teach you something. Adam, a sinner, clothed in the skin of innocence. Remind you of anything? Of course it does - it points to how Adam was justified before God - he was justified "in Christ" - atoned made for Adam by the same means that atonement was made for David - Adam, like David, was atoned through a union with Christ on calvary.

That is not the same as saying Adam or David was born again. It is saying they were both justified.

The atonement - man's only means of justification - is offered identically in each covenant, and it is received by trusting that God would do it somehow - this was never conditioned upon an ability to articulate -how- God was eventually going to do it.

Through the atonement God brings a man into the covenant that is valid at the moment, or alternately through the covenant that is valid at the moment God brings a man into atonement. The point is that the atonement is not the -whole- covenant, but part of it, just as the Holy of Holies was not the whole temple, but just part of it. It was the part of the temple that pictured atonement, just as the "holy place" pictured sanctification.

Adam's failure to respond in the same manner as David does not prove Adam was unregenerate, it only proves that Adam was a sinner.

Likewise David's contrition by no means proves him regenerate, as men like Haman, Esau and Judas were all quite contrite when the consequences of their choices caught up to them.

All of which I only to demonstrate (I hope) that we are not engaging in good theology when we draw conclusions from circumstantial events, and much more so when subsequent events contradict our circumstantial conclusions.

I am ready to agree that Adam did not respond in the same way David did given the scenarios - but I am by no means convinced that these circumstantial events demand the conclusions you are drawing, and to be sure, I would say you are drawing rather untenable conclusions given the remainder of Adam's history in scripture.

March 07, 2008 10:47 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, you say, that my position does not satisfactorily answer why there is that change of character from a hard heart (death) to contrition.

Your position is that the =only= way a person can become contrite is by being "born again".

My position is quite similar to yours, only more nuanced.

I say that the =only= way a person can become contrite is by receiving contriteness as a benefit of God's covenant with that person.

We are saying the same thing, except that insist that the way we become contrite in the new covenant (the new birth) is the way we become contrite "period". I am saying we become contrite according to the provisions give in the covenant into which we are brought.

Said another way, you are saying that the Holy Spirit's ministry in the believer is identical in every covenant, and I am saying that the Holy Spirit's ministry is defined by the covenant He is ministering under.

That is our difference.

Would you agree?

March 07, 2008 10:56 AM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"Yet what of Adam? Clearly we lack the explicit verse that demonstrates Adam's contrition. Based upon that are we free to conclude, as you seem to be, that Adam was not justified?"
=======
Why do you do that? I saw you do that with Wayne as well. It is most dishonest when one presuposes what another is trying to say and draws up a conclussion the other does not actually share.

I never said that after the initial encounter with God after the Fall that Adam did not walk from that encounter justified. I was merely illustrating the sure signs of spiritual death in Adam, and the sure signs of spiritual life in David. It was a death versus life issue. I do not doubt Adam did not end up justified after this encounter. You may go ahead and think that though, if you wish. :^)

Now, as far as David's time of running from God after his sin, Psalm 32 gives us a glimpse of what his life was like during that period - lack of sleep, crying, body wasting away - the sure signs of spiritual life, albeit something all go through if they try to run instead of confess.

The Tabernacle set up - A type of Christ is in view. Surely the OC was the means by which God mediated blessings or cursings. Surely by its law was the knowledge of sin. Surely it was the school master to lead one to Christ.

But

Its cerimonies were merely symbolic. The blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin. The comers could not be made perfect.

The sanctification that I focus on in the OT saints is that of their lives, lives lived entirely for God, complete with their short-comings. Whether Jeremiah lowered into the pit, Daniel in the lion's den, his friends thrown into a furnace; or even the early days of Daniel's captivity and the no pleasant bread fast he placed himself on - all showed devotion to God; practical sanctification if you will.

Now, where in the OC economy is a character change provided for?

March 07, 2008 11:40 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, I mean nothing sinister if you or Wayne put a spin on something and I follow that spin (in text) to its logical conclusion. The reason I do that is because I want to illustrate that the reason I am not impressed by a thing that sounds plausible up front, but falls apart when you examine it.

By drawing attention to the inevitable train wreck produced, I hope to show why I am not quick to jump on board.

If I am drawing wrong conclusions, it is not because I am trying to be obtuse, but rather because you have worded a thing in a way that leaves one to conclude you mean "X" such that when "X" is exposed, you clarify that you meant "Y" all along.

I don't mind misunderstanding you and being corrected, if you don't mind articulating yourself more clearly in the correction.

Text is, after all, a rather poor format for this type of discussion, and as such, I expect, and allow for all sorts of miscommunication. I "do that" therefore, to make sure I am understanding the fullness of your point, and to make sure you really mean what you seem to be saying.

If it turns out that you don't mean it - praise the Lord! for in this way I have avoid mistaking your meaning, and what you have said will be more clear to those who are reading along with us.

March 07, 2008 12:16 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, you asked where in the Old Covenant (Mosaic) economy is a character change provided for?

Let's start with the very instant the Mosaic Covenant came to Israel.

We look to Deuteronomy 10, and here is Moses coming down from Mount Sinai with the tablets of stone in his hands. What is one of the first things Moses tells this new covenant people? He tells them (in verse 16) to circumcise their own hearts.

Yet later on he explains God has a plan, a plan that has yet to be established - in Chapter 30:5-7 Moses explains to these people who are presently under the Mosaic Covenant, that is, presently under the command to circumcise their own hearts, that at some point, after they have entered into Canaan, God Himself is going to circumcise their hearts.

As you make plain in your previous comments, Israel certainly did not have a circumcised heart, in that they fell away from God - which leaves us to conclude that Moses was prophesying about the New Covenant God was going to make with Israel.

We see in this that sanctification, under the old covenant, was a matter of circumcising your own heart. In the New Covenant it would be a matter of God circumcising your heart.

To answer your question then, in the OC economy, the Holy Spirit graced the justified believer such that the justified believer could circumcise his own heart. In the NC economy, God circumcises the justified believer's heart.

The difference, as I have said previously, is in the manner in which the Holy Spirit ministers sanctification to the believer under the various covenants. In the Old Covenants, the Holy Spirit ministered from the outside in, and in the new He ministers from the inside out.

If a man changes, regardless of the covenant, it is because the Holy Spirit is ministering in that man's life. All that changes is how.

March 07, 2008 12:50 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

"We see in this that sanctification, under the old covenant, was a matter of circumcising your own heart. In the New Covenant it would be a matter of God circumcising your heart.

To answer your question then, in the OC economy, the Holy Spirit graced the justified believer such that the justified believer could circumcise his own heart. In the NC economy, God circumcises the justified believer's heart."
===
(Oh, if only I had internet access at work)

Still you fail to show me what it was that made a man predisposed to circumsize his own heart.

Incidently, God having told the Israelites to circumsize their own hearts is akin to His telling the world today to repent. Only those predisposed ( drawn and enabled by the Father, John 6; and those sanctified by the Spirit, 2 Thess 2:13) will answer the call.

March 07, 2008 1:07 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

I must work the entire weekend. That means, unfortunately, limmited ablity to angage your feeble position; but I'll do my best with the time I have, The Lord willing.

March 07, 2008 1:10 PM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, you said, Still you fail to show me what it was that made a man predisposed to circumcise his own heart.

I believe it was the Holy Spirit predisposing a man to circumcise his own heart, as can be found in the following quotes from this discussion:

- ...the Holy Spirit was with them, but not indwelling them...

- ... these are chosen by God and drawn to him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit who works externally to draw men to God. ...

- ... I most certainly do believe that unless the Holy Spirit works upon an unbeliever (quickens him or her), he or she will by no means be justified ...

- ... God draws to Himself those whom he has previously elected - and He does so through the effective the Holy Spirit who quickens them - that is, God extends grace by which a man can have faith ...

- ...I believe that a man is brought to justification through grace, and I understand grace as being the quickening work of the Holy Spirit irresistably revealing God to the unbeliever such that the unbeliever believes and is justified. "Quickening" precedes justification ...

- ... we all agree that the OT saints were certainly quickened by the Holy Spirit into their faith. ...

- ... The Holy Spirit, prior to Pentecost, did not indwell believers, but he has always convicted men of sin and of righteousness ...

- ... the Holy Spirit regenerates a man, and not his own cleverness or intellect ...

- ... Yes, if a man became contrite it was not his doing, but the Lords through the work of the Holy Spirit - ...

- ... In the moment the new believer was justified, he entered into a new relationship with God - a relationship that was defined according to the covenant he was brokered into. If this relationship took place under the Mosaic Covenant, the Holy Spirit ministered to you externally through out your life ...

- ... They [OT saints] did not need to be "born again" - they needed to have the Holy Spirit work on them according to the tenets of the covenant into which they were brought. ...

- ... To answer your question then, in the OC economy, the Holy Spirit graced the justified believer such that the justified believer could circumcise his own heart. ...

I apologize if I have been too vague in these comments, it was not intentional, to be sure, I felt I have answered your question a dozen times, yet I am happy to reiterate unequivocally that I think in the OT times it was the =Holy Spirit= that made a man predisposed to circumcise his own heart.

I appreciate you taking the time to engage my feeble position, and I understand that you are busy this weekend, so I won't be looking for any fast turn-arounds.

Grace to you Mark.

March 07, 2008 3:48 PM

 
Blogger mark pierson said...

... these are chosen by God and drawn to him through the ministry of the Holy Spirit who works externally to draw men to God. ...

- ... I most certainly do believe that unless the Holy Spirit works upon an unbeliever (quickens him or her), he or she will by no means be justified ...

- ... God draws to Himself those whom he has previously elected - and He does so through the effective the Holy Spirit who quickens them - that is, God extends grace by which a man can have faith ...

- ...I believe that a man is brought to justification through grace, and I understand grace as being the quickening work of the Holy Spirit irresistably revealing God to the unbeliever such that the unbeliever believes and is justified. "Quickening" precedes justification ...

- ... we all agree that the OT saints were certainly quickened by the Holy Spirit into their faith. ...

... the Holy Spirit regenerates a man, and not his own cleverness or intellect ...

- ... Yes, if a man became contrite it was not his doing, but the Lords through the work of the Holy Spirit - ...
=========
In the above, where you use the word "quicken" - a new testament word - I would say born again; quickening meaning the impartation of new life - something only posible when the Holy Spirit is inside a person.

It's late and I'm typing in the dark. Tomorrow I must shovel the driveway as a huge snowstorm is passing over head. Then I'm off to work. I'll visit and interact when I can. My working hours for Sat and Sun are 3-11 PM, eastern.

Grace to you, brother

March 08, 2008 12:46 AM

 
Blogger Daniel said...

Mark, quicken is a word used by the KJV, and in that version it appears more often in the OT than the NT.

In the NT the zoopoieo (to make alive) is translated as quicken, and it is the same word that is used in the septuagint (Greek) translation of the OT, penned hundreds of years before the NT.

I offer the possibility therefore, that you are mistaken in your statement that this is a NT word.

I am not free to conclude that zoopoieo (give life, make alive) is synonomous with being "born again", It means to be given life - what I would call being justified. Being born again, -is- a NT term however, and -only- a NT term. I don't believe the two to be synonymous, first based on the internal evidence of scripture itself - if the two were synonymous we should expect to find the term "born again" used at least a few times in the Septuagint in place of zoopoieo, and we see no such thing. Likewise, internally speaking, we should see no distinction being made between the NC and the OC with regards to being born again, and we see quite the opposite - a clear line is drawn between the economy of the OC and the NC. Furthermore I am convinced by external evidences - 3000 OT saints were converted at Pentecost - how could that be if born again and zoopoieo are synonymous? Without belaboring the point, I see enough evidence to show that there is a distinction, and rather than recoil from it because it requires some thought, I have examined it and found the distinction has not injured any of my reformed conclusions - it only describes how to come to them more reasonably and logically.

March 08, 2008 10:34 AM

 

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