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Brandan
01-15-19, 07:52 AM
Bob,

I think a good discussion on the word "means" is in order. I've heard some free grace preachers say that men are regenerated via the means of the Gospel. Others state that NO MEANS are used. I believe that Holy Spririt regeneration is primarily epistemological, or in other words, regeneration and Holy Spirit baptism comes primarily in the form of knowledge.... GOSPEL Propositions that is.

Your wrote on another thread: https://www.pristinegrace.org/forum/showthread.php?4263-Accepting-pedo-baptists-to-the-Lord-s-table&p=58011&viewfull=1#post58011


Because scripture teaches that Holy Spirit regeneration is 'without means', I do not accept most notions of re-baptism of those formerly baptized as professors.
I agree that regeneration does not come in the form of baptism or communion or anything that is DONE. However, Gospel preaching IS used by the Holy Spirit to convict. But there are some primitive baptists that would take offense and say that this is the "means" heresy. They believe the Holy Spirit regenerates people metaphysically and the Gospel is not needed or used in regeneration. That the person is now "ready" to hear the Gospel - but what this regeneration is is not really discussed. They just get all bent out of shape at the "means" preachers who say the Gospel is used in regeneration. In other words, it's another issue to divide over.


Many years ago I wrote an article on it.. You can read it here:

Mysticism is the order of the day when most talk about the Holy Spirit. And I’m not just talking about charismatics. I’m talking about most evangelicals. You know, baptists, presbyterians, methodists… and yes, of course “calvinists.”

So what do we know that's metaphysical about The Holy Spirit? Well, for starters, He is omnipresent. In other words, He is everywhere at once. He is actively involved with every single activity in this world. God, the Holy Spirit is actively spinning the electrons around the protons and neutrons in the molecules that make up the screen you’re using to read this article. Whether or not you’re one of His chosen people, the Holy Spirit is actively holding your eyeballs in your sockets.

So if the Holy Spirit is everywhere, how is it that He is able to indwell believers? And why isn't it metaphysical? Well, the answer lies in how he indwells His people. Most professing Christians speak of a metaphysical and/or mystical indwelling that they have difficulty explaining. More often than not, they’ll tell you that one can tell the Holy Spirit is indwelling you by feeling “something”. What that “something” is, they have difficulty putting into words. It’s a mystery they say! “Just believe what I say and you too can get this wonderful feeling.. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make any sense to you. Just ‘let go and let God’. See, the Holy Spirit will speak to you in a small voice when you’re really quiet and you can just hear him ‘talking’.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I propose the error lies first in the fact that religionists everywhere haven't even thought about this. I’m serious! All of us are born into the world as ignorant people. We don’t, nor can we think rationally. The idea of logically trying to solve this problem (scripturally of course) has escaped the thought of most professing christians. Why? Well that’s a topic for another article. But I digress! The error also lies in the fact that men have ignored the plain teaching of Scripture. They don’t understand the Gospel of an accomplished redemption in Christ alone. They just don’t understand the Gospel, and therefore the God of the Gospel is unknown to them. They speak of a different holy spirit, a figment of one’s imagination, something more akin to casper the friendly ghost.

I propose that the Holy Spirit works in His elect people is primarily epistemological, or in other words, He works in the form of knowledge - propositional knowledge that is! He convicts by revealing knowledge. He reveals the truth to His people. Ethically, He teaches us what is right and wrong. I’m not at all denying the metaphysical supernatural events performed by the Holy Spirit, or that He supernaturally causes our brains to comprehend and understand this knowledge. I’m simply suggesting that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is primarily epistemological.



Rom 12:2, (KJV) (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=rom&chapter=12&verse1=2&verse2=&version=kjv), And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Eph 3:6, (KJV) (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=eph&chapter=3&verse1=6&verse2=&version=kjv), That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

1 Cor 2:11-16, (KJV) (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=1co&chapter=2&verse1=11&verse2=16&version=kjv), For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. (12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (14) But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (15) But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. (16) For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.




I now also propose that regeneration is also an epistemological process. The conditional primitive baptists teach that men are privatisticly or metaphysically regenerated and may not have any knowledge of any Gospel propositions before conversion. Classical calvinists teach that regeneration occurs right at conversion - that regeneration is dependent upon knowledge of the Gospel. I disagree with both teachings! I believe that regeneration is a process that takes place in the life of the elect individual sometimes starting long before they are converted. But it is mostly an epistemological process. The Holy Spirit reveals pieces of the truth before revealing the full truth of the Gospel of Justification by grace alone without conditions. For example, how can one know what salvation is unless of course he knows what sin is? How can one know who Christ is unless He understands who God is, and how can one understand who God is unless they know what His attributes are? Regeneration isn’t just single event! It’s a series of events, and starts in the womb for many of His elect people. John the Baptist for example lept in Elizabeth’s womb for joy (Luke 1:44 (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=luk&chapter=1&verse1=44&verse2=&version=kjv)). The hand of the Lord is upon His people from before they are born and throughout their entire lives even before conversion. His love for them is unending, and He is in the process of preparing them for Gospel conversion their whole lives before they are actually converted to the truth in its Gospel fullness.


I believe the camps, the anti-means men, and the Gospel regeneration camp (those the anti-means men would call means men) BOTH believe in salvation by Grace alone and without works. They would not see faith as a work, but they have a different opinion on what Holy Spirit regeneration is.. Is Holy Spirit regeneration an epistemological process - or not? I fall into the camp that YES, God does use Gospel Propositions and Gospel preaching to REGENERATE His people. I do not believe this makes me a "means man." But others would disagree. Yes, the quickening is all supernatural, He prepares the minds for the receiving of the Gospel. But is regeneration the preparation of the mind, or is it the receiving of the Gospel, or is it both?


Anyway, I would appreciate your thoughts on this important matter. Thanks. - Brandan

alt731
01-15-19, 04:11 PM
Thank you for opening this important subject. As it happens, Bob's expression 'without means' caught my attention too. However, I take a different view to you on what regeneration is, so I'd like to add my two cents.

I fully accept that God uses his word to convict; it is, after all, a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Also, scripture teaches that the Spirit reproves the world of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8).

However, I wouldn't call any of that regeneration. I basically believe that regeneration is the creation of a new heart that trusts in God.

So I don't believe God uses the gospel to regenerate his people, or give them new hearts. But when they hear the gospel, God gives them ears to hear, and new hearts to believe that what they're hearing is true. In other words, I believe regeneration accompanies the preaching of the gospel, but is not causally affected by the preaching of the gospel.

Since I take regeneration to mean the creation of a new heart that trusts in God, I should also define "trust" or "faith" from a Biblical standpoint. When it comes to the meaning of "faith" (as in, "saved by grace, through faith") I believe this is best defined as trusting in God. Faith is the natural assurance of the heart that everything God says and does is good and true. So I don't believe, in other words, that faith inherently means, "believing the gospel." I would rather say it means, "believing on God." The distinction is as follows: one who believes on God believes that whatever God says is true, because God is true. One who believes the gospel accepts merely that a specific message happens to be true.

As I said before, God tends to regenerate men who have heard the gospel, and in this sense (only), the preaching of the gospel is a means of salvation. For the unregenerate, God begins working in their life, causes them to come across his central message (the gospel), begins to show them the truth of it as it relates to their own lives (even while they have an unregenerate heart that rejects these revelations), and then one day, miraculously, he gives them a new heart to trust him completely (regeneration), and they trust him and trust that his message is true. They now know they are saved. They have the assurance of faith.

I ask you to examine Abraham's faith. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. The specific message that Abraham had been given was that one who would come from his own body would be his heir, and his offspring would be as the stars of the sky (Genesis 15:4-6). So when it says Abraham believed God, its saying that he trusted that God is true, and this was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Paul says that the gospel is God's power to salvation to everyone who believes. But remember the context here. Paul was speaking about the gospel as an instrument ordained of God to be preached by his holy apostles to the nations, to bring to them the knowledge of God. In other words, the hearing of the gospel was the way in which many of the gentiles heard of God. They were used to hearing of that which is not God. Now they were hearing of the true God, his nature and attributes, and what better revelation of the nature of God is there, than the gospel, which speaks not only of God's power and authority, but also, supremely, of his love? Paul later asked, "How then shall they call upon him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe on him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without one who preaches?" The gospel was the means by which people heard of God.

So its not that believing the gospel, specifically, is "faith" but rather, faith is trusting in God, and those who have been given hearts to trust in him (regenerated/born again) believe the gospel they have heard, or sometimes, they believe in God first, and go onto believe the gospel when they hear it.

For examples of the latter case, in scripture, I'd point to both David and the same example you used, John the Baptist, who were regenerate from the womb. They were born again, before they were born! David said, "But thou art he that took me out of the womb; thou didst make me trust, upon my mother's breasts" (Psalm 22:9) and, "thou art my God from my mother's belly" (Psalm 22:10). He said, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou established praise" (Psalm 8:2). Elizabeth said of her son John, "behold, as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped with joy in my womb" (Luke 1:44). These little babies knew they were surrounded by an almighty power, one that controlled everything, one who was all-good, and one they could trust. They had faith. They were already converted from darkness to light. They didn't know all the doctrines and propositions of the gospel. But what they believed in was their God!

---

Sorry if this post wasn't very helpful/didn't address the question adequately enough.

Brandan
01-15-19, 05:08 PM
I fully accept that God uses his word to convict; it is, after all, a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Also, scripture teaches that the Spirit reproves the world of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8).

However, I wouldn't call any of that regeneration. I basically believe that regeneration is the creation of a new heart that trusts in God.But how is that done without Gospel propositions? How can one trust in God unless they know who He is? Certainly impartation of knowledge is used to do this.... Meaning, it's epistemological.


When it comes to the meaning of "faith" (as in, "saved by grace, through faith") I believe this is best defined as trusting in God. Faith is the natural assurance of the heart that everything God says and does is good and true.I'd go even further and suggest that it's simple belief - mental assent to Gospel propositions.


So I don't believe, in other words, that faith inherently means, "believing the gospel." I would rather say it means, "believing on God."But believing in God means to believe the Gospel. :)


The distinction is as follows: one who believes on God believes that whatever God says is true, because God is true. One who believes the gospel accepts merely that a specific message happens to be true.One who believes that the Gospel propositions are true is a believer in the Gospel and inherently trusting in God. I don't think you can separate the two.


As I said before, God tends to regenerate men who have heard the gospel, and in this sense (only), the preaching of the gospel is a means of salvation.Amen - agree with that. But HOW does God regenerate His elect? What does it mean to "open the heart" (as in the case of Lydia the seller of purple)? Acts 16:14


For the unregenerate, God begins working in their life, causes them to come across his central message (the gospel), begins to show them the truth of it as it relates to their own lives (even while they have an unregenerate heart that rejects these revelations), and then one day, miraculously, he gives them a new heart to trust him completely (regeneration), and they trust him and trust that his message is true. They now know they are saved. They have the assurance of faith.Sounds to me like an epistemological process.



Sorry if this post wasn't very helpful/didn't address the question adequately enough.John, thank you very much for taking the time to comment. Hopefully we can learn from each other. I do appreciate your post. - Brandan

alt731
01-15-19, 05:41 PM
Hi Brandon,

So, in response, I'd delineate between trusting in God from trusting in the gospel in this way:

When we trust in God, we're trusting that in a being who is all powerful, whose nature is love, who is good and in him is no lie. You can call this propositional knowledge if you like. I'm not fussed what it gets called. But whatever it is, I believe both David and John the baptist had it from the womb. As I quoted, "thou didst make me trust, upon my mother's breasts" (Psalm 22:9) and, "thou art my God from my mother's belly" (Psalm 22:10).

When we trust in the gospel, we're trusting specifically that Christ died for the redemption of his people, that on account of his redemption all the blessings of God flow forth to his people.

So I'd say, trusting in God is not the same as trusting in the gospel. I don't believe Mary and Joseph, for example, knew that their son (/son in law) would die on a cross. They knew that God was good, and I'm sure they trusted that as a consequence of their sin, they needed a redeemer, and that God was going to provide one. But even these consequences, which can fairly be called 'believing the gospel' are not exactly what I mean by trusting in God.

I suppose that one who trusts in God does trust that God has dealt with their sin, in some way. They know that they are safe in God, and sinful and nothing without God. So in that sense, those who trust in God trust in the gospel. But all that, I believe, is known and felt, even in the spirits of tiny little babies, who are regenerate from the womb. But the specifics of how it is all worked out, the exact propositions of the gospel, which get preached in church, about the blood, and about the death and about the resurrection, I wouldn't count all that as included in belief in God.

I'd say that those who are regenerate from the womb, believe in God, but they haven't yet heard the gospel. Nevertheless, they have ears to hear and hearts to understand, and they will end up believing God's word when they hear it, knowing the authority and power of it in their souls, with the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and that it corresponds perfectly with their experience, and they will believe the gospel at that time.

Brandan
01-16-19, 05:19 AM
Hi Vadim,

I would agree that the gradual revelation of knowledge to the elect individual does not result in partial life in Christ. It's just a gradual revelation of propositions. But I remain unconvinced that this entire time in the life of the elect individual is not used by God for this person's eventual regeneration and faith. Maybe not knowledge of God is revealed, but the person is spending a good time getting to know who they are themselves (though they know NOT who they are in the Grand scheme of things). They are living a life of continual sin, and are hopelessly dead. When we are brought to faith in Christ, all of these sinful events are used by God. Salvation is to be saved from one's sin (Mat 1:21). When faced with the revelation of the Gospel, we each personally know in great detail many of our transgressions.


“Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But, while joined by many bonds, which one precedes and brings forth the other is not easy to discern.”

When I get time later today I'll write more... The question I have is, HOW did the Lord open the heart of Lydia? What knowledge did Lydia possess at the time? I agree that she was not regenerate. But is regeneration a single MOMENT? Even when we flip a switch, there is a process involved. It may seem like a short while, but each move of the switch is a process to go from off to on. How does God, the Holy Spirit do this?

Next we deal with John the Baptist who leapt for joy in his mother's womb... Was he regenerate at the time?

Thank you dear brother for posting! It is so nice to see! Please help me to learn more of the truth.

Brandan

Bob Higby
01-16-19, 07:22 AM
Wow, great discussions again that I have missed for years as P-Net dwindled down in activity!

So what shall we say about regeneration being an epistemological process? Right now it is 3 A.M. where I am so I will only present talking points:

1. Regeneration 'without means' simply refers to the fact that the Holy Spirit makes a person anew without depending on any other human resource, even preaching of the Word. When Christ told Nicodemus 'except a person be born of water and wind he/she will not enter the kingdom of God', he referred to the fact that the work of the Spirit depends on no human activity or resources. God regenerates a person to be able to recognize and receive truth in an instant (like physical birth is at a point in time), not in a process.

2. Epistemological knowledge is indeed a process and follows this regeneration. For some it starts with conviction of a supreme God who takes care of everything for salvation without knowing the details of how (example: the OT worshipers of one infinite personal God who looked forward to redemption God's way but didn't know exactly how it would all be carried out in Christ). For others it starts with knowledge of aspects of gospel truth without yet having full assurance of faith. The actual public declaration of justification by God of a human soul, in the presence of the heavenly angels and saints as well as the conscience of believers, is not the same event as regeneration--it is the result of regeneration. We do not know what the gap in time is between regeneration and the full assurance of faith in connection with gospel knowledge I tend to believe it is not great in most cases but cannot really say that for sure.

Hard stuff, I admit! Looking forward to further enlightenment. Btw, on the issue of epistemology I can't think of a better work than Dr. Robert Reymond's "The Justification of Knowledge" published in the 1970's, it is available online!

Bro. Bob

Brandan
01-16-19, 08:13 AM
Thank you Bob, you are always quite clear and easy to understand. Here is a link to the pdf you mentioned: http://www.sgbcsv.org/literature/JustificationOfKnowledge.pdf

I'm looking forward to understanding more!

Brandan
01-16-19, 08:18 AM
Bob you wrote:
1. Regeneration 'without means' simply refers to the fact that the Holy Spirit makes a person anew without depending on any other human resource, even preaching of the Word. When Christ told Nicodemus 'except a person be born of water and wind he/she will not enter the kingdom of God', he referred to the fact that the work of the Spirit depends on no human activity or resources. God regenerates a person to be able to recognize and receive truth in an instant (like physical birth is at a point in time), not in a process.
So this "light switch" that the Lord turns on in the mind/affections of the individual, what is it exactly? Is it epistemological or metaphysical? Even babies who aren't born have life, they just aren't able to breathe - is this the analogy you are referring to? When we are born again, our "brain-heart-lungs" can now breathe the fresh air of the Gospel? Many thanks!

Brandan
01-16-19, 11:58 AM
Means are discussed in this thread: https://www.pristinegrace.org/forum/showthread.php?4191-Has-God-Predestined-Any-Humans-to-Salvation-Who-Don-t-Hear-the-Gospel-in-this-Life

Brandan
01-16-19, 09:53 PM
1) Scripture clearly shows that natural man is spiritually dead and his carnal mind is hostile to God.Agree!


2) Scripture clearly shows that the external preaching of the word without the work of God in the heart of man for the regeneration of his heart does not lead to faith in the wordAgree!


3) Scripture clearly shows that the birth from above (regeneration) is a direct action of God without means.Agree!


4) Scripture clearly shows that God in regeneration gives the elect a new heart and a new spirit, taking from their flesh a heart of stone and giving a heart of flesh.Agree, but what exactly is that "heart of flesh?" The heart in my opinion is the "affections" of a man. But what are affections? Aren't affections caused by revelation? And what is revelation? It's the revealing of knowledge (supernaturally of course!)


5) Scripture clearly shows that the main result of regeneration is the acquisition of a new human heart that is able to believe in Christ through the word Agree. Again though, what is that new heart? Is it metaphysical, or is it a mind / epistemological change?


(6) Scripture clearly shows that faith in Christ is the assurance of the heart of the believer that all the promises were fulfilled by God in Christ personally for him.Agree! This is belief in Gospel propositions. Mental assent to truth. 100% epistemological.


7) the Scriptures unambiguously testify that through faith in Christ we come to the only true knowledge of God, as our eternally loving Father, who is the Light and in whom there is no darkness.Agree!


8) from all the above it is obvious that the fundamental difference between a natural man and a regenerated man lies in their hearts.And what exactly is that heart? Is not the heart part of the mind?


a) Natural man has a heart of stone unable to believe the wordRight - he is unable to know the truth. His mind and affections and the heart are at enmity with God. This appears to be 100% epistemological to me as well. Unless someone can explain how it's metaphysical - or something that is in between epistemological and metaphysical.


b) a Regenerated person has a new heart able to believe the wordAgain, what is that new heart?


9) since Scripture clearly shows that God's work of replacing the heart of stone with the heart of flesh is God's direct work without means, it is clearly God's supernatural work.Oh no doubt about it, it definitely is supernatural. Epistemological processes can be supernatural, don't you think?


10) since regeneration is a supernatural work of God then it logically and inevitably follows that the natural mind is beyond the knowledge of the way in which God carries out this work.
Maybe the finer points! God is directing ALL things, and he causes our mind to comprehend. That is supernatural. God directly puts information into our minds. But this information comes in the form of words - implantation of knowledge is epistemological - and supernatural.


11) Scripture does not reveal to us the way God does the work of regenerationMaybe not directly... I'm not ready to concede this point yet Vadim...


12) since Scripture does not reveal to us the way in which God performs the work of regeneration, it follows logically that even a regenerated mind is unable to comprehend this way. Look at this: Eph 4:18-19, (KJV), Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: (19) Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Jn 12:40, (KJV), He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

This too seems like it's epistemological. God actively hardens the heart - he causes men to believe in lies. He further shuts them up in their epistemological prison.


13) ERGO: the Way God regenerates man is incomprehensible to both the natural mind and the regenerated mind. It is the mystery of the GREATNESS of GOD!Again, I agree, it's not conceivable to the unregenerate mind. To the regenerate mind... I'm not ready to concede this point entirely...


Thanks for the discussion all the brothers!I think I need to read Robert Reymond's book that Bob recommended. Maybe my brain has been infected with too much platonism! Thank you dear brother Vadim. Much love to you in Christ!

Bob Higby
01-17-19, 12:12 AM
Brandon, whatever it is, I don't think it is Greek Platonic thought!

Vadim said, Scripture does not reveal to us the way God does the work of regeneration. And my conviction is that this is the crux of the issue. I do not have a problem with the fact that regeneration is a mystery of God that we cannot explain how it works, since it is prior to even the first illumination of logical epistemological truth (whether that is preparatory to gospel knowledge or actual gospel knowledge when the Word is communicated). What I teach against strongly is the notion of paradox in connection with 'mystery', the idea that propositions regarding the truth of God can contradict one another and that these contradictions must be accepted without the need to explain and resolve. Paradox in this sense is pure evil.

Metaphysics? Wow, too many definitions out there (contradictory) to really answer your question. If we go with this one: Metaphysics is a major branch of philosophy. It concerns existence and the nature of things that exist. Altogether it is a theory of reality. Ontology is the part of metaphysics which discusses what exists: the categories of being, then I really have no problem with issues with regeneration being metaphysical. But I do not use the word to try and teach what the reality is because there are too many paradoxical contradictions out there on what metaphysics consists of.

Bro. Bob

Bob Higby
01-17-19, 12:25 AM
A good question to focus on, isn't the very first acceptance of REAL epistemological truth dependent on Holy Spirit regeneration having occurred beforehand? I guess the real issue here is whether we can pinpoint the timing of regeneration to ALWAYS occur immediately before an epistemological experience. What does the Bible say about this (I'm not giving answers right now as I have to study further). --Bob

Bob Higby
01-17-19, 05:43 AM
Thanks so much in the Lord Simplici!

We had a thread way back in 2004 on the issue of "Does God Observe the Law of Contradiction". A contributor to our forum at that time happily answered 'yes' and I challenged this notion very firmly, quoting a former Australian colleague of mine who had left gospel faith and promoted this humanist 'law of contradiction':

The universe is both planned and unplanned, fixed in purpose and yet open, operating according to both absolute law and no law at all, beautiful in its harmony yet awful in its unpredictability, predestined but constantly subject to undetermined change.

So I cannot provide a better example of the ultimate conclusions of paradox theology than this, it is a truly classic example!

Bro. Bob

Brandan
01-17-19, 08:54 AM
Brandon, whatever it is, I don't think it is Greek Platonic thought!
I was referring to this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anamnesis_(philosophy)


In philosophy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy), anamnesis (/ˌænæmˈniːsɪs/ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:IPA/English); Ancient Greek (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_language): ἀνάμνησις) is a concept in Plato (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato)'s epistemological (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology) and psychological theory that he develops in his dialogues (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialogue)Meno (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meno_(Plato)) and Phaedo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaedo_(Plato)), and alludes to in his Phaedrus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaedrus_(dialogue)).
It is the idea that humans possess innate knowledge (perhaps acquired before birth) and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us.
While I don't agree with that quote and consider it to be pagan, I do believe the Lord gives us knowledge all throughout life even before regeneration and that belief can and does utilize this knowledge. (example: words, and their meanings). I also believe regeneration utilizes this knowledge, and while the person may not be regenerate, the Holy Spirit enlightens the individual and re-assembles this knowledge within the mind. That is why I called regeneration a process - because in order for the mind and affections to change, it would stand to reason to me that knowledge would already exist within the mind of the elect individual so that it can be re-assembled and understood. In other words, enlightened. And that process would begin as the Holy Spirit led that individual to acquire that knowledge prior to the "re-assembling" if you will.

OK, you may all think I'm crazy, but that's how I've understood it, and that's part of what I meant when I wrote that article earlier in this thread. I put myself out here for correction and teaching.

But is this pre-regenerate knowledge "means?" I don't think it is.

Thanks, Brandan

Brandan
01-17-19, 03:50 PM
Vadim, this is very good, thank you. No need to apologize, I am just very thrilled that you are here and communicating. I wish I could speak to you, but I am content to know that we can at least communicate via written word for now. You are doing so well for having such a large language barrier. We understand you very very well.

I am looking forward to your next part in the confession. Bro. Brandan

Bob Higby
01-18-19, 09:40 AM
Thanks to both of you (Brandan and Vadim). Wow, a lot to think through and respond to here!

Knowledge is part of the nature of the human being, so I don't agree with Gordon Clark that knowledge is possible only for the regenerate. So I agree with Robert Reymond in the Justification of Knowledge (where he challenges Gordon Clark on this, though he is a Clarkian on the issue of the incomprehensibility of God) that there is a reasoning and logic instilled in mankind that is not dependent on gospel regeneration. Both the regenerate and unregenerate can know that blue eyes are blue (one of Reymond's points)!

Brandan, yes, what you cited from the Greek philosophers illustrates exactly why I did not think you were getting your ideas from them!

Vadim, "Therefore, logic and its laws are the creation of God, and they are not identical to his essence. God is ABSOLUTELY FREE! Accordingly, God is not accountable to any laws of logic" .

On this one I would propose that we have to distinguish clearly between the logic of unregenerate philosophers (there is MUCH, of course) and that of regenerate believers. Yes, there is no created law of God that he is bound by. However, I would point out that since God thinks and feels emotionally in an immutable manner (another point where I agree with Reymond and not Clark), these are expressions of His actual nature which is immutable: God never has variations in what or how He thinks and feels! He acts out of the constraint of His own nature, He cannot do otherwise! So where I might agree that God is absolutely free where man is not free in the sense that his purposes and actions are beyond the right of any creature to criticize, there is a restraint to the the notion that God is free (i.e., He cannot deny himself, He cannot hate himself, He cannot sin against Himself, and most importantly in this focus, He cannot think and act contrary to His nature!). So if we accept that God is absolutely immutable, then there is a restraint on the notion that He has the absolute free-will that creatures do not have. Regenerate beings even in eternity future will not have free-will except to live according to God's eternal purposes for them. Likewise, God is free only to think and act according to the restraint of His essential nature.

Whatever we think of Gordon Clark's views on the importance of logic (these are indeed philosophical and not always based on the views of regenerate philosophers), the essence of his though is that when God has revealed propositions of truth in the revelation of scripture, He thinks exactly as man is exhorted to think and his thoughts are not incomprehensible to the regenerate! I have to agree with that, otherwise God's revelation makes no sense at all.

Some of what I have said here recently may be contrary to what I might have supported in past writing, I admit. I have come to deny the distinction between pre-regenerate and regenerate knowledge of gospel truth. And I affirm that the very first correct epistemological notion in a soul that has anything to with the way of the gospel is dependent on regeneration having already occurred as a strict miracle of God dependent on no means. To give a simple illustration: the miracle of Christ changing water into wine cannot be logically explained as Gordon Clark tries to do so. It was not a stealing of one or more person's wine somewhere else and switching the water with this. It was a true miracle of changing water into alcoholic wine, a new material creation like the manna of old and the fish and bread supplied by Christ when he fed the multitudes having no lunch.

Bro. Bob

Brandan
01-20-19, 07:06 AM
Vadim. I believe you are jumping to hasty conclusions about what Bob thinks. Give Bob an opportunity to respond. He is not saying God is not free to do as He wills. He is saying God is not free to do something He has determined not to do. God does not change. He is immutable. This is not saying God is restrained but that God does what He says.

Bob Higby
01-20-19, 11:12 PM
Hello again in Christ Vadim.

But that's exactly what Gordon Clark unfortunately does in his essay God and Logic. In the end, he gets the "God" of the pagan philosopher Hegel, not the God of the Scriptures. It was Hegel who taught that God in his bare essence is pure Logic. Logic and its laws ("the law of contradiction") are part of the created reality. God is the Creator of reality and he is transcendent to it.

I agree with you that Clark uses the arguments of Hegel in his teaching, he was a philosophy professor for a large portion of his earthly career at Butler U. What I don't believe, based on reading all of Clark's Ancient Philosophy, Historiography Secular and Religious, and portions of others is that Clark stops at Hegel. Like you, I disagree with his thesis that "God is logic and logic is God" since the laws of logic are part of the creation and are not equal to the Creator. Nonetheless, I think we currently have a difference on the nature of God's revelation in the scriptures and whether this revelation actually reveals the thinking of God in specific propositions, the content of which God does not think otherwise with regard to the essence of the truths revealed therein. Yes, there is infinite mystery beyond what is in that revelation that we do not currently understand and an infinite amount beyond as creatures we will never understand, since He is the infinite God that transcends all limitations of creature thought.

Also, I stand by my qualification to the proposition that God is absolutely free: he cannot deny Himself, he cannot fail, he cannot lie, he cannot sin against Himself, he cannot act contrary to His own nature and disposition (a factor in His immutability). So if we believe all of those things that God cannot do are true as revealed in the scriptures He has given to mankind, I affirm the in infinity of God beyond all of that: in his transcendent essence He is absolutely free to act as He pleases.

Bro. Bob

Brandan
01-21-19, 06:51 PM
Vadim, I am riveted. Please take your time and provide your arguments against this position while still maintaining God's immutability.

Bob Higby
01-21-19, 11:45 PM
Hi again Vadim. I am not offended by or disappointed in anything you have said, I'm starting to believe (contrary to before) that there really is some difference of language involved (I don't know for sure). I certainly feel little affinity to the church 'fathers', most scholastics, and R.C. Sproul who changed so many times I cannot pin down where he stood on many issues. Anyway, my continuing compassion for you as a brother in Christ is sure and certain!

I do think Brandan has perceived the crux of where there might be a 'debate' here in the sense that some notions of the 'absolute freedom' of God in His infinity definitely compromise His immutability.

Bro. Bob

Bob Higby
01-23-19, 07:25 AM
Thanks Vadim.

For me, Hegel is simply another Aristotelian, no matter how 'refined'. He has been called the most difficult of all philosophers to understand. But he still is a repeat of the logic of Aristotle in essence.

I would be interested in your agreement with Cornelius Van Til on "the essence of God is absolutely unkowable", also, where you would agree and disagree with Karl Barth's theology of the absolute freedom of God.

I will evaluate and explain more fully as time permits, right now I'm 'pumped up' trying to finish my paper on the historical doctrine of Satan and its implications today.

What might be helpful is a comparative explanation of how you perceive my teaching versus your own on the incomprehensibility of God and the absolute freedom of God. We probably have many areas of agreement.

Yours in the true gospel of Christ, --Bob

Brandan
01-24-19, 05:03 AM
Vadim. I am having a hard time understanding. I believe God is absolutely free. However if He is free to stop being God is He then God? If He cannot stop being God then there is a restriction in a sense. His restriction is He must BE God and be absolutely free in the sense that He does not stop being God. Would you state that God can stop being God?

Brandan
01-27-19, 10:41 AM
Somehow this thread became closed... Not sure how that happened! I apologize to everyone for this.. Re-opening thread...

Bob Higby
01-27-19, 10:54 PM
Thanks Brandan. Since I thought the thread was closed I did not respond to Simplici, but have definite thoughts to express. I honestly thought you closed it because we have strayed so far from the original topic and wanted new threads opened on the issues currently under discussion--both on the nature of God's absolute freedom as a covenant-keeping God and also on the nature, value, and limitations of philosophy in contrast to revealed truth (not a bad idea). --Bob

Brandan
01-28-19, 06:25 AM
If you would like to start a new thread to discuss immutability, feel free! As I find time I hope to respond.

Bob Higby
01-29-19, 12:51 AM
Just one note of clarification before i start new threads: I have always opposed any notion of a 'law of contradiction' that God created, this was my disagreement with our old contributor Disciple. I do not believe any quotation of mine can be found that supports the existence of such a law ordained by God--I have opposed this consistently, vigorously, and passionately. Bro Bob

Bob Higby
01-30-19, 07:41 AM
Vadim,

Don't misinterpret what I am saying here. You are getting overly semantic and there are definite semantic barriers here. It is wrong for you to accuse other believers of idolatry based on semantic differences. I am talking about differences based on the perceived meaning of words in English, or for that matter, words in any language. When a word is used by a teacher, it is of utmost importance that anyone challenging the use of that word has an affirmation from the 'horses mouth' (as we call it in English) that the position taken by the challenged teacher is accurately stated.

I would agree with you that I may have chosen a poor word if I stated that God is 'limited' in His freedom. Of course He is not. I agree with you that His freedom is absolute. In addition to confessing that, we need to clearly define what the Bible states the pleasure of God is in His freedom, immutability, potency, goodness, infinity, and transcendence. On the matter of the salvation of mankind He has revealed this to us in His personal appearance in the incarnation of Christ and in His written Word.

We know that God states He will accomplish all of His pleasure in His predestinarian counsels (Isa. 46:10 in context). This needs to be understood in the context of the everlasting covenant of Grace. When God cuts a covenant of promise as He did with Abraham in Genesis 15, He is stating that He is bound by His own covenant and will not break it in harmony with His immutable nature. The very fact that God is 'bound' in this sense would be viewed by some as denying His absolute freedom. But fulfilling this covenant is His pleasure and is in harmony with His own immutable nature, so the fact that God would bind Himself to a covenant it is an expression of God's absolute freedom. There is no contradiction here between God's freedom and God's constraining Himself to an everlasting covenant that will surely come to pass no matter what.

Religious determinists like Mohammed teach that God in His freedom can and does change His mind continuously. Any promise that God has made He might choose to revoke and do the opposite at any time. To me the covenant is the apex of understanding the difference between a pure philosophic or religious determinism and the God of all Grace revealed in Christ and His scriptural revelation. So when I say that God cannot deny Himself in His covenant promises, I'm stating that He chooses to be bound by any covenant promises that He makes--otherwise we don't have full assurance of faith in our ultimate salvation in Christ.

Bob

Brandan
01-30-19, 11:38 AM
I suppose it’s a matter of will not instead of can not. God CAN do anything. HE IS ABSOLUTELY FREEE. There are no constraints. But we know HE WILL NOT do certain things. This is a matter of semantics. Here in the west when we say we can’t do something it often means we WON’T do something. I cannot beat my wife. We all knew I could if I wanted to, but I just can’t. I simply won’t!

Brandan
01-30-19, 01:06 PM
OK, well I don't have any problems reconciling your position with Bob's. I'm convinced it's semantics. :) Grace and Peace!

Brandan
01-30-19, 03:37 PM
a) He acts out of the constraint of His own nature, He cannot do otherwise!


I read this to say, He acts according to His will, He will not do otherwise!


b) Likewise, God is free only to think and act according to the restrain of His essential nature.


I read this to say, God only thinks according to what He decides to do. When talking about "restraint" from God, it's merely according to His will. We all know God CAN do anything He wants, and He is not restrained. However, we also know that He WON'T do what He has not purposed to do. You could call this a constraint, but in reality, it's just God doing what He purposed to do. Either way, it means the same thing to me.


с) So if we accept that God is absolutely immutable, then there is a limit on the motion that He has the absolute free-will


I read this to say, God is absolutely immutable because that is what He has purposed to be. If you want to call His purpose a constraint OR limit, it's ok, means the same thing to me. Bottom line God does and is what He says. I know He is immutable and will remain immutable not because of any constraint upon Him, but because God says He does not change. It's who He has purposed to be. He WILL NOT change. HE IS immutable. If someone wants to say He is constrained by His immutability, it doesn't bother me. All it means is He will be what He says He will be. God is still absolutely free and not constrained in reality. The use of constraining words like can't are human expressions to describe what God says He has purposed. It is not an oxymoron - just a figure of speech - a human way of speaking.

Brandan
01-30-19, 05:56 PM
Hi Vadim,

I understand your frustration, but that's how we talk over here in America. The phrase "I just can't - I just can't" is one that I and others use often. But the real meaning is "I won't" depending on the context of the discussion. I don't know if this is common in Russian, but it is here.

The phrases, "God can't stop being God" and "God won't stop being God" mean the same thing to me. God can't stop being God because He WILLS NOT to stop being God. Therefore the "constraint" is just a way of talking - it's an expression of "WILL NOT".


Gen 6:6, (KJV), And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.


Ask yourself, did the writer of Genesis blaspheme the Lord when He wrote this? Or did he try to explain in human terms the abhorrence of sin that God has? Take those words at face value, and you can build a doctrine of open theism - which many have! Is it postmodernism to say that those words don't actually mean that God changed?

You may think that this is "very sad", and you're right. But I've known my brother Bob a long time, and I know not to criticize him when I first see something that doesn't sit right with me. I take time to try and understand where he is coming from. All of us believe that God does as He pleases. That He does everything that He desires. That He is absolutely free. That should be enough for all of us. And as a fallen people, we are often inconsistent with our speech and sin every day. Of course, that doesn't mean we should not try to clarify what it is we actually mean, and try to overcome the limitations of our languages.

You wrote: "I don't consider Robert an idolater. I believe his theology does not adequately Express his faith." Brother, I'm right there with him. I know my theology does not adequately express my faith. I hope to learn more and more and to grow in the goodness of His grace.

Gospel Blessings,
Brandan

Brandan
01-30-19, 08:07 PM
Brandаn! I understand. Based on what you wrote, I don't think that you do. I don't think you understand the nuances of our language.


Last question: are you satisfied with the level of honesty of the discussion? You don't have to answer that question to me personally. Answer this question to yourself.Yes, I am satisfied. I wouldn't have posted it publicly if I didn't think it personally.


I think the continuation of the discussion is absolutely meaningless. I am not finding any fruitfulness in it at this time. But who knows? Anyway, Gospel blessings to you Vadim. - B.

Brandan
01-30-19, 08:28 PM
One more final note, here in Missouri, where I grew up, we would use English very improperly. For example, I'd ask my mom, "Can we go to the park today?" I wasn't asking in a FORMAL sense. I was asking in the informal sense. "Can we go" really meant, "may we go?" English teachers here are constantly correcting their students over this! One must be willing to try and understand what the speaker is trying to convey. As brothers, we should be willing to give the benefit of doubt to each other.

Razor
01-30-19, 09:02 PM
One more final note, here in Missouri, where I grew up, we would use English very improperly. For example, I'd ask my mom, "Can we go to the park today?" I wasn't asking in a FORMAL sense. I was asking in the informal sense. "Can we go" really meant, "may we go?" English teachers here are constantly correcting their students over this! One must be willing to try and understand what the speaker is trying to convey. As brothers, we should be willing to give the benefit of doubt to each other.
I had to learn three languages.

West Virginia English,Texas English and Louisiana English.

The struggle is real.

Bob Higby
02-01-19, 01:48 AM
ALL:

Thanks for all of your posts and thoughts on this issue, I have been involved in much personal work and responsibilities lately and haven't had opportunity to log in and respond myself.

I especially thank Brandan for his honest clarifications in dealing with the issue.

Often some matters become clear by asking questions having to do with contrasting what is affirmed by its opposite. That is what I will do here with Vadim.

He (God) acts out of the constraint of His own nature, He cannot do otherwise!

So,if you disagree with this, it is imperative to me that an example be given where God might act contrary to His essential nature. You have said earlier that the essence of God is something unknowable to us and that might be the answer you would retreat to, I just don't know. For me there is no contradiction between God's nature, attributes, and what He has promised He will do with an oath.

Likewise, God is free only to think and act according to the restrain of His essential nature. This is my statement. I want an example of where God is free to think and act contrary to His essential nature and that would clear up the opposition for me.

So if we accept that God is absolutely immutable, then there is a limit on the motion that He has the absolute free-will. I may have gone too far on this one and I admit it was a poor choice of words. God does have absolute free will. So the constraint or limit is on what He has promised to do in His revelation. He will not will to choose contrary to His covenant and purposes, that is what we can be confident of. We know He won't decide tomorrow to go back on His covenant and send every member of humanity to damnation for their sinful rebellion. That fact is the reason I chose the 'limit on free-will' language but I have modified that here.

In these examples, the limited nature of God acts as a cause. Limited freedom of the will of God plays the role of the investigation. There is a causal link. The limitations of God's nature produce the limitations of God's will. This refutes the view that here the question is only in semantics. I do not believe the nature of God itself is limited in any sense, He does ALL according to His purposes and pleasure. So yes, it is not an issue of semantics in this particular case. It is an issue of misunderstanding between us though.

The question of the actual submission of God to the logical law of contradiction Has not been resolved. (my message is 42). All statements that this is not so are refuted by the practice of reasoning which in fact subordinate God to the law of contradiction. . Vadim, you have lost me here. I have never taught that God is subject to a law of contradiction, I don't believe He created such a law and I don't believe it exists. That law is the creation of man to avoid facing the truth on all eternally relevant matters. I will defend that my statements when finally analyzed are not contradictory.

In any case Vadim, I immensely appreciate your honesty and passion to defend truth.

Bro. Bob

Brandan
02-01-19, 05:22 AM
Thank you Bob. While I disagree with Vadim’s position that this is more than semantics (at least as it pertains to us) I do agree we probably shouldn’t use constraining words to describe God. From now on I will try not use the words, “God can’t.” It will be, “God won’t.” I do greatly appreciate the zeal Vadim has for the truth.

Bob Higby
02-04-19, 12:29 AM
Vadim, I’m going to have to summarize my thoughts and try and bring this together somehow.

Firstly, I do not view the essence of God as only what he is in His transcendence. When in his immanence He has communicated certain truths in revelation, I believe these truths are commanded for man to believe and that they express the particular portion of His essence, nature, and character that the particular truth communicated reveals.
I do not believe ‘mystery’ applies to what God has revealed once a regenerate believer learns the truth of revelation on any particular issue of the gospel. These things are only a mystery to unsaved humanity, as Christ taught in His parables regarding the kingdom.

I’m sorry, I thought both ‘contradiction’ and ‘non-contradiction’ were included in the ‘law of contradiction’, in the sense contradiction and non-contradiction are both defined in logical propositions. I guess I accept your point that God created such a law, however, many teach that God speaks in true paradoxes that we cannot resolve (and I abhor that). Even for unregenerate people, reason and logic following all the ‘rules’ of non-contradiction can be used to teach anything persuasively (as any humanist knows). So the 'law of contradiction' is inadequate for the unbeliever. Only once we know the truth of the gospel does the error of speaking dialectically regarding revealed truth become apparent (in my view). Having said that, logic and reason are still subordinate to God's sovereign revealed will but I don't believe anything in His revealed will will be contradictory or truly paradoxical (other than what might 'appear' to be such when isolating a misuse of textual verbage from the whole of scripture).

Anyway, I have agreed with you that God has absolute freedom, there are reasons I don’t like to term this ‘free will’ but don’t want to debate that now. I also agree that we cannot know the essence of God in his infinity or transcendence beyond what is revealed. For what is revealed, our knowledge of God’s essential nature, character, and covenant purposes on those things begin in regeneration and mature over time.

Bro. Bob

Bob Higby
02-04-19, 01:12 AM
I almost forgot. I do need to state the points I will not concede and cannot perceive myself as conceding.

1. I will not affirm that God cannot do certain things, for the NT clearly says such there are such things (2 Tim. 2:13, Titus 1:2). So I still stop short of confessing that He has no constraints on His freedom as God (though I confess that He has absolute freedom and believe I'm not contradicting the other point I've made).

2. I will not answer the question 'can God make a square circle' because I think anyone will answer that either way according to their bias and it resolves nothing.

3. The key question of Christ's immutability as God as it relates to His incarnation, did He have the free will to choose to sin (again, considering 2 Tim. 2:13 above) or should we state that He was unable to sin. I don't expect an immediate and simple answer to this, I have debated it on other websites extensively without resolution.

Bro. Bob

Bob Higby
02-06-19, 02:40 PM
Brethren,

I am going to respond to a few of Vadim’s points (cited in bold and italics below) but this will be my last post in this thread. I get the impression that attempting to resolve the significant differences in rhetoric here is starting to generate more heat than light & I need to get back to the central gospel passion of my very existence, which has nothing to do with speculative philosophy regardless of what has been alleged of me.

Jesus asserts,"all things [are] possible unto the." Paul States: "he cannot..."There is a contradiction: The One to whom everything is possible, something can not.
There are two ways to treat this contradiction

I cannot follow the ‘two ways’ logic you have outlined following this statement, simply because I do not accept the premise (assertion) that there is a contradiction. What you are citing is a contrast of rhetoric in scripture, I (and many other expositors) to not accept this as a paradox or contradiction. I will admit that ‘restraint’ is potentially the wrong word to use when describing a contrast with ‘freedom’ when it comes to God, simply because the very concept of God’s freedom means so many different things to different people. But for most simple people, ‘absolute freedom’ in God means also Platonic ‘free will’ ascribed to him, which results in the conclusions such as: God might finally get so sick of our foolishness on planet Earth that He will just blow it all up and start over. The same reasoning is used of opponents of the Gospel with regard to denial of the second coming (God will no longer keep this promise because He got tired of man’s wickedness) or forms of Deism (God created everything but in His free-will abandoned all of His creation long ago to itself and the basic laws He invested the creation with). Also, I constantly here ‘what if God had done differently’ in preaching and discussion, which is reasoning that the Bible does not use.

For me, what we can know in our limited state regarding God’s freedom is revealed in scripture: no one is His counselor, He is not accountable to any outside entity (law or person) for what He purposes and does, He does strictly as He pleases in all of His predestined plan. Then we have His plan of salvation and all associated doctrine clearly stated. The two passages I mentioned from Paul refer to the certainty of God keeping His covenant of redemption and Paul felt comfortably using ‘cannot’ instead of only ‘will not’ in describing this. When God cut the covenant with Abraham in Gen. 15 and passed through the pieces of the animal, He was committed to non-failure in keeping His promises to the extent that ‘cannot fail’ is appropriate language to describe this covenant promise.

But this is not a philosophical theology of ‘God cannot’ which some of what I have stated has been interpreted as being. For me, stating that God is unable to break His covenant (which the very of nature of a covenant for God implies) is not a broad and ontological philosophy of God’s transcendent being, so I do not see a contradiction or paradox between God’s absolute freedom and the rhetorical statement that He cannot do certain things.

The Guarantee of salvation lies in the love of God which was revealed to the chosen in Christ. Agreed, provided that ‘love’ (a very confusing English word when used generally) is the equivalent of charity, generosity, beneficence, kindness and not ‘passionate sentiment’ as it typically means in English common use today.

God is absolutely free and omnipotent. God is God. YES!

the Act of salvation is God's actualization of his absolute freedom and omnipotence. YES!

Is this theology scriptural? Yes. It's simple, pure, logical. YES IT IS, AGREED!

the application in theology of the methods and techniques of rational speculative philosophy will inevitably lead to the denial of some of the tenets of faith or to the "theology of paradox"
This is where we’re going to need to agree to disagree and retain hope in God that the difference between us on this will not impact reasonable discussion of the many issues of gospel theology we interact with on this forum. I do not subscribe to rational speculative philosophy (or any humanistic philosophy, for that matter). Philosophy was my worst hated subject in Theology in college/seminary and I only study it to try and understand what all the ancient and more recent non-Christian philosophers had to say and how to answer their errors to someone hung up on particular philosophical mentors. The ‘law of contradiction/non contradiction’ is a humanistic invention, although I have conceded that part of this applies to scriptural revelation from the standpoint of affirming that the assertions of scripture when considered as a whole are consistent and are not paradoxical/contradictory. Of course, as I stated earlier, the Christ-haters will always use the perceived contrasting rhetoric of the Bible to condemn it—even if this is nothing but constructing a very ugly and offensive ‘straw man’.

On to my passion, affirming the true Gospel without human distortion (to the extent that the Lord gifts me for doing so) and exposing the errors in the history of dogma (contrasted with the truth) that compromise the gospel and muddy it up.

If you wish to post a last word on this subject I will leave it as it stands just I have done in the thread on philosophy.

Eternal Grace and Peace in the Lord Jesus Christ, Bro. Bob

Razor
02-06-19, 06:03 PM
Thank you Bro. Vadim for reminding me of the importance of words and how we use them in expressing our thoughts.

Thank you Bro. Bob for providing an occasion for the reminder. ;)

VoxVeritas90
03-17-19, 09:31 AM
Gentlemen, I am so glad that this discussion was maintained in a friendly manner, but I do think some clarity can still be offered.

First, to say that logic is a part of the created order makes God a confused being. Think with me for a moment on what this says about the Godhead before creation. If logic was created alongside the rest of the laws of reality, then God was illogical before creation. His thoughts were unordered and chaotic. This idea completely destroys the decree of God, which all happened before creation itself. Now while Clark did take this idea a little far, he said it well. Logic is the way God's mind works. It is not a law unto Him, it is a part of His essential nature. Just as He is just, good, loving, wrathful, and the like, He is logical. We describe Him as such because He tells us to. We are called to be logical (to organize our thoughts in accordance with logic) because this is the mind of Christ. It is not a restriction on God, it is a descriptor. We are saying that these laws that we have over us are to give us the character that God has. We are to emulate Him, and this is a way in which we do that. Logic is not a law that God obeys, it is that system that He organizes his own thoughts by. So long as God was thinking, He was doing so logically.

Second, I am amazed that so many people missed the point that would end this discussion completely. No one is restricting God's freedom to say that he acts according to His nature. Scripture tells us everywhere that God acts and plans according to His good will. His good will comes out of his very nature. His nature is truth and goodness and light. He never acts or decrees otherwise. Again this is no restriction, it is a descriptor. God cannot sin because He is good and never desires to sin. He will never desire to sin because of who He is, not because some law of His nature forces Him to. We all agree God is completely free and nothing outside Him compels Him, but even scripture says His nature compels Him. It's who He is. His freedom is a lack of force or constraint, not to say that He has no driving force in Him. HE IS GOD ALMIGHTY, KING AND SOVEREIGN OF ALL! His nature is beautiful and could not be otherwise. God did not create His own nature, or decide His attributes. No one and nothing dictates to Him how to think or behave. All of His freedom comes from His essential nature, just as all His other attributes.

I desperately wanted to say this, whether I helped the discussion I cannot say. I hope I have expressed my own faith in the God who is and faithful represented His word.

May God be the Judge

VoxVeritas90
07-09-19, 12:59 PM
To begin I must express my deepest respect to you Vadim. I'm is obvious to me that you thought long and hard about your post and that this is a subject very close to your heart. I wish to encourage this discussion in spirited dialogue, but I will pull no punches.

First and foremost I must admit I'm surprised by some of your comments. You are clearly a very bright man and I have been edified greatly by the confession you wrote. Your response here, however, is very poorly reasoned and borders on nonsense in a few places. I'll try to work my way through this all from top to bottom.

I begin by objecting to your "God of the philosophers" charge. You simply assume that I hold my beliefs based on reasoning upward to God from man and assert a convoluted train of thought showing how I got there. This is disingenuous at best and could border on slander at worst. I believe that logic is a part of God's nature because of scripture, nothing else. Jesus is called the logos, which is where we get logic from. God's statements throughout scripture are perfectly logical all the time. He is not the author of confusion. He even implores the Israelites to come and reason together with Him. Though there is no direct statement in scripture declaring God's inherent nature as logical, I feel perfectly comfortable drawing that conclusion from the above mentioned scripture and elsewhere. To assume that I arrived here by other means and accuse me of your assumptions is far from fair, and honestly not the best way to handle a critique. Try critiquing what you do know before jumping to conclusions.

Answer: From this statement, it inevitably follows that we must recognize that logic is not part of the created order. Therefore, we must recognize that logic is divine. But, the fact that logic is an immanent part of our world is a self-evident fact. To consider any part of our world (material or ideal) not created and therefore divine is idolatry.
Next I will deal with this objection. First I must note that you clearly did not read my explanation of what this sentence means. I spent an entire paragraph unpacking this point I made and you dealt with none of it. That is quite shameful, so I will explain it again and why your objection is a non issue.
I never said that logic is Divine or should be worshipped and it doesn't follow from my point. What I said was that assuming logic is a law that God created for us at the moment of creation poses problems for the scriptural view of God and His decree. If logic had no existence or application until creation, this would mean that God was acting and thinking illogically before creation. This cannot be the case as we know from scripture that God is not confused and is all knowing and all wise. So we must then assume that logic is more than just a law for us. It preexists creation itself. As I said above, it is not a law to God, He governs logic and it's application. It is a law to us. God is all logical in the same way that He is good, just, powerful, wrathful and so forth. These are essential attributes to Him. God cannot choose to be evil. This is not a law He must obey, rather it is a truth about who He is and what He is like. God is not amorphous and nebulous with the ability to contradict Himself and His nature. God has a nature, a personality (3 of them in fact), and a will. These aspect s of Him have content and are not just empty terms. If you still struggle to understand what I mean by all this I can explain my view further at your request. Suffice it to say, you missed my point entirely and I have demonstrated that with quotation and explanation.

Moving along I'll cover your next point. I won't post the whole quote but it is easy enough to read.
Your first point is also nonsense. Saying God organizes His own thoughts logically and compels us to do likewise in no way makes philosophers into prophets. Yes we are thinking like God in the sense that we discover truth in the application of logic and grow in our knowledge of God and His creation, but that is not at all what a prophet is or does. A prophet speaks for God. He tells us what it is directly that God wants us to know with certainty. Prophesy is the direct speaking of God. Logic and it's application is not. I never said it was. It doesn't follow from what I said. You just lept to a ridiculous conclusion and went from there. Logic and prophesy are two very different things and I would hope you would know that already.
After that you accuse me of making myself God by a considerably convoluted stretch of my statement and bad logical form. Yes logic is how the mind should work. I am not perfectly logical, I know no one who is, therefore your attempt fails at the beginning of the syllogism. However next you say that a logical person i.e. me must have the identical thoughts as God. This is utter foolishness. Even if you and I have the same exact thought it does not mean I am you or that you are me. This isn't how identity works either. This is bad logic, wrapped in category errors, mixed with foreign applications and baked at 350 until we have one terrible pie of an argument. This would fail to convince my children all of whom are under age 10. Honestly I don't know how you didn't see how foolish this statement was when you wrote it. But it makes me seriously question your ability to think coherently. I don't mean that to insult, but it is really that bad. None of it makes sense and it shows you haven't read or understood what my post even covered. For this one I'd like an apology.
Thirdly you say that: 3) From this it inevitably follows that the more logically a person thinks, the more such a person becomes like God. This is absurd and heresy.
I actually completely agree. Thinking logically makes one more like God. AND THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT. We are being conformed to the image of Christ. We are supposed to be growing to be more like Him as we grow in grace. One day after the resurrection we will be like Him exactly. Or at least in as much as a creature can be like Him. We will be good, righteous, honest, logical, loving and share in many of the communicable attributes of God. This is the intent of creation itself. Romans 8 makes that abundantly clear. I am not the one in hereay here my friend. Sorry.

Lastly I will deal with the misunderstanding you have of my meaning the mind of Christ. Of course I do believe that being more logical makes one think more like Christ. However that is not all that means. Christ thought logically. He also thought honestly. And lovingly. And truthfully. We have much to learn to reach the mind of Christ, but this is one aspect of that. An atheist may be logical, but he suppresses the truth. He lies and hates his Creator. This is not the mind of Christ. To think that is what I meant again shows you weren't paying attention, if you even read my entire post.

My final point will be to make some closing remarks and summarize my rebuttal.
First, I am not convinced that you read my post in it's entirety, which would be quite shameful if true. But you did not respond to any of the second half of my post, or even appear aware of it's contents. It explains how most of your concerns are non issues, and had you read the post it would make more sense to respond to the second half rather than the first. It had the meat of my position in it. That coupled with your lack of understanding my point makes me think this was a shotgun response. I documented your errors and responded to your entire post. Keeping it in it's context and walking through your train of thought. You did not do this to me at all. You selectively quoted portions without context or explanation, misinterpreted them (which I showed), and then took grandiose leaps to make ridiculous points that sometimes didn't even make sense. You assumed my reasoning without asking and applied idolatry and heresy to me without cause. All of this you should be held responsible for, hence my lengthy an public response. Your final comment said that my position could be held by any half conscious seminary student with any one philosophy book under his wing. Clearly you've never met any seminary students. My view is in a strong minority and often unheard of when I discuss it with my friends who attend or have graduated seminary. If this was an attempt to call me lazy, stupid, or uneducated then I must confess I'm impressed. You managed to sound lazy, stupid, and uneducated in your response, while missing the mark entirely. Your response was selective, dishonest, assumptive, uninformed, incoherent, and frankly in bad taste. Often on this forum there is disagreement, but we do so with respect and by siting our opponents in context to make the discussion honest and fair. You did not do this. If you think I misunderstood your previous posts, prove it. Quote something. Explain something. Interpret something. Don't just make claims about others without backing them up.

If you'd like to continue this, feel free. I'd be more than happy to unpack anything I said and dig deeper into this subject. But at the very least you ought to apologise for mischaracterizing my motivation, intelligence, and confession . I await your response

May God be the Judge

VoxVeritas90
07-11-19, 03:35 PM
Well Vadim I must confess that I am seriously disappointed. I asked you (and so have others in various discussions) to substantiate your position with facts, quotations, reasoned arguments and the like. You once again refuse to do so and then walk away from the conversation as if you are the victor. To me, this is a cowards move. I am sorry to be so curt but that is my honest judgement. I won't go through your entire post, as I don't feel a full response is necessary here, but several points seem important to address.

First, I am surprised at your denial of an apology. I noted in several places where you took my statements out of their context and twisted them to mean what I was not saying and then called it blasphemy. I don't know your view on blasphemy but biblically speaking it is a very serious charge. I pointed out that you mischaracterized my motives, my exegesis, and my confession of faith, and yet with no answer you brush this aside saying that you still feel justified. By siting no evidence or making any attempt to answer my charge of slander you show that you have no answer. You have slandered a brother in Christ which is cause for apology and reconciliation. If you cannot see that after my documented evidence then I cannot help you, but it is no less serious.

Second I will summarize my issues with a couple of your points.
You make several points of comparison between my view of God's attributes and Roman views, even pulling in Spinoza to attempt to discredit the very idea. You did this same thing to Bob and I would like to put this to bed once and for all. We call this the genetic fallacy, meaning that you pair an original or association with the idea and attempt to discredit the idea. It is fallacious. We all agree with medieval Rome on the Trinity, the two natures of Christ, sin as offense against God's character and law, and many more things. Association does not disprove an idea. You provide no evidence for your claim of association, just assume it, and even if it were true it would be a fallacious argument. I will do what you have not done and prove your point wrong. Scripture does NOT teach that literally everything is possible for God, as you propose. God cannot lie, sin, repent, or deny himself. Scripture says all of these out right. If it is your belief that He can do these things, your issue is with scripture, not me. Here you have been answered with scripture, something you refuse to do. Again, as before, you are shown and documented in error. Feel free to respond with more than just assertions.
Next you are still hung up on the divinity of logic, which seems like a moot point, but I will again answer hoping you will understand. No, logic is not a Divine entity. It is a Divine attribute. You insist that if I view it as a Divine attribute that it should then be worshipped. So my question is, do you believe God has any attributes, and if so do you worship those attributes? If you do not believe God has any, then we worship different Gods and I hope you repent of this. If you believe He does and then worship His attributes, that is paganism and also a sin to be repented of. If you believe He has attributes and do not worship them, then we are in agreement and your argument is invalid. So either you have a god with no substance, a pagan religion, or a failed argument. Your choice.

In point 5 you make the same logical blunder you made before,and again take my words out of context. While I agree that Clark takes the "Christ as logic" position a little too far, I do not believe that your conclusion is warranted, and my own words show you cannot construct your syllogism. I never said that logic and Christ are synonymous, merely that the word logos is where we get logic from. That coupled with other scriptures to show God's logical behavior and His desire to see men think logically means simply that it is a part of His nature. You could no more make a syllogism from that than you could any other attribute, like love or justice. Your conclusion is unwarranted and simply doesn't follow. I showed that before, you did not answer any of my critique, so my point stands.

4) there Is nothing stupid in my conclusion that your position inevitably leads to equality between Scripture and Aristotle's logic. This is an inevitable logical conclusion. Scripture is a revelation about God. If logic is how God's mind works, then Aristotle's logic is inevitably also a revelation about God. The difference is that the prophets reveal to us what God wants, and Aristotle reveals to us how the mind Of God himself works! But both are revelations about God. And another question what kind of revelation is more fundamental!
Next, you wrote the above statement, and I wanted to deal with it directly. It is the only cogent argument I have seen so I wanted to deal with it. I completely agree that logic and scripture reveal things about God, but you again make a leap in equating the two. Logic is a tool for discovering truth. It is not truth itself. This is a very simple and easy distinction but you still seem to miss it. Yes being logical means we are thinking as God thinks. No it does not mean we are God, that logic gives us revelation from God, or that we should worship logic. This is not a logical conclusion from anything that I said. You were so close, and you even understood well my point about how logic aids us in understanding truth from God. It is a shame really, considering that when I started reading that point I was prepared to actually have something meaningful to respond to. You say my position leads to you conclusion. How? You don't explain it or give reasons. You just say it as if that makes it true. Read my posts, or Bob's earlier ones. We give you quotes, syllogisms, facts, and logical arguments. You just make assertions. That isn't debate or even dialogue. It doesn't further the discussion and it is incredibly disingenuous.

My final comment (to be entirely honest) is one of derision. I make no apologies here because I feel this final comment is deserved. You have won nothing, and frankly owe myself, Bob, and some others apologies. You have accused us of blasphemy, idolatry, and sin in need of repentance. You have done this by taking quotes out of context, assuming things about others that have no foundation, made illogical arguments (this has been shown. Just saying otherwise doesn't make it true), using logical fallacies (documented), and finally just declared yourself the winner and walked away. This is incredibly shameful behavior, and to be honest I am shocked. After reading your confession and many of your posts I found you to be lucid, insightful, and impressively exegetical. I was very glad to see you as a part of this forum and proud to call you a brother in Christ. Certainly we have some disagreement, but on the essentials we appear to agree. However, after all I've seen on this I must say I've changed my opinion. You seem to have a very different God than anything I can even conceive of. Not because it is so advanced or complicated, but because it is utter nonsense. Your God is illogical and appears to have no essential attributes. I have no idea how you reconcile the Trinity or any other doctrine of God. Outside of that you behave like a disgruntled child. You have made no real points in these posts (I still don't know what your position is, just what it isn't) and your critiques are illogical and unfair. You wrench your opponents statements from their context and misinterpret them into heresy. This, as I'm sure you know, is slander, which is baring false witness. That is a sin, and you commit it with abandon. You go so far as to assume I am not a brother, and even imply in your final sentence that I am not a monotheist, which frankly has nothing to do with any of this. It is an odd statement and is very uncharitable. Quite frankly it is rude and I object to it. It is you sir that have walked out into heresy, which again I have shown. You have behaved sinfully, esposed heresy, and uncharitably behaved towards a brother. You ought to repent of these things and apologise.

You can feel free to walk away from this forum. That is a very cowardly move in my opinion and shows me that you have no answer. You did not answer Bob's points, or mine, and have not satisfied any burden of proof for your position. I hope to see you respond to this post. I'd like some clarification on several things you've said. I'd also like to see your apology for your slander against me. It is documented, and ignoring it doesn't make it less true.

May God be the Judge

Brandan
07-12-19, 04:10 PM
https://www.pristinegrace.org/media.php?id=1329

VoxVeritas90
07-12-19, 05:53 PM
With all due respect, I see the importance of bringing up an article like that, but I feel entirely justified in my tone of response. I believe that there is no better time to be forthright than when someone slanders you. I have don't everything I can to be respectful an document Vadim's error and misquotations. To me, it is he who ought to be chided for his behavior. Perhaps I am jaded, but that is my honest 2 cents. Thank you for contributing though, Brandon. It is always nice to see participation in these threads.

Brandan
07-12-19, 08:12 PM
James,

No need to explain yourself to me brother. I was just posting for everyone’s benefit. We lost a dear brother from the forum today. I hope he returns. He had a lot to offer....

Thanks,
Brandan

Php 2:1-11 (KJV)
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

VoxVeritas90
07-12-19, 11:18 PM
Who is lost? Is everyone okay?

Brandan
07-13-19, 05:49 AM
Yes, we lost Vadim's presence on this forum - that is what I meant. He asked me to remove all of his articles too...

VoxVeritas90
07-13-19, 10:36 AM
My goodness. I am so sorry. Please convey my apology if you speak to him. I had no intention of driving anyone away.

Bob Higby
07-14-19, 08:11 PM
VoxVeritas,

I agree with the essence of all the conclusions you have stated. In the end I stated that I'm comfortable with the "God cannot ___" statements of scripture based on the fact that He acts always according to His essential nature, which cannot be said to enslave Him of course. The notion of some in this regard (no one here) is that God might in His freedom change His mind at any time and renounce His covenant promise, which I totally reject.

"If logic was created alongside the rest of the laws of reality, then God was illogical before creation. His thoughts were unordered and chaotic. This idea completely destroys the decree of God, which all happened before creation itself. Now while Clark did take this idea a little far, he said it well. Logic is the way God's mind works. It is not a law unto Him, it is a part of His essential nature. Just as He is just, good, loving, wrathful, and the like, He is logical. We describe Him as such because He tells us to. We are called to be logical (to organize our thoughts in accordance with logic) because this is the mind of Christ."

All law is created and is an expression of God's purposes--but is not in any sense constraining to God. Law is an expression of God's ordered and logical mind. When we talk about the laws of reality, we are talking about laws that were created to govern the universe in harmony with God's essential nature. So I think you could express this proposition in a better manner, which I will leave to you.

Bro. Bob

Bob Higby
07-14-19, 08:18 PM
What I meant is that logic is indeed a created law of God as pertaining to humanity and all creatures, though for regenerate creatures created anew in Christ it is 'internal law' written on the heart according to the New Covenant promise. When we state laws of logic that are legitimate we are only expressing the image of the Creator.

Don19
10-28-20, 06:29 PM
This is an interesting topic. I was initially attracted to the “without means” position just due to my own experience. I had what was, as it were, a sudden change of heart in late December 2018, where I went from being basically an atheist/agnostic to a seeker of God. I just felt, immediately, that God is true because He is love, and that Christianity is true. And so for a time, I would have called that “regeneration” and understood it as something that preceded gospel conversion, as I started out with an essentially works or law based understanding of my relationship with God. But it didn’t last too long. By late January 2019 I had been convicted of my sins, shown I cannot remain in good standing with God on the basis of my commandment-keeping, and thereafter heard the word of truth, believed it, and received the earnest of the Spirit (Eph 1:13-14, James 1:18). I’m amazed at how blind I was for so long, since Paul so clearly lays it out here: “ye believed, ye were sealed” - bam, bam, in that order -- and that’s precisely how it happened with me. I believed, and received the testimony of God in my heart that it is finished for me, that I am sealed.

It is this latter experience that is regeneration, I believe. (Nevertheless, I think I see something of the former in Mark 12:28-34; compare to Matthew 22:35-40.) I propose that regeneration puts us in a position similar to Adam before eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, only without the possibility of death. But unlike Adam prior to his eyes being opened, we know good and evil, but all condemnation of sin is removed from our conscience (Heb 10:2). Jesus said that unless His disciples were converted, to become like little children, they shall not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3). “Conversion” in the New Testament sense--or regeneration--was not occurring during Jesus’s earthly ministry, because the Holy Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had to be glorified first (John 7:37-39), and because a testament requires the death of the testator (Heb 9:16). Regeneration is a distinct point in time when a man believes upon Christ and receives the Spirit of promise (1 Cor 2:12; Gal 3:2, 14; 2 Cor 1:22). By one Spirit are all Christ’s elect baptized into one Body - 1 Cor 12:13: that being the baptism of the Holy Spirit, not water baptism. The “one baptism” of Eph 4:5 is Holy Spirit baptism (John 1:33), Likewise, “baptism” in Rom 6:3-4, Col 2:11-12, and Gal 3:27 is Holy Spirit baptism.

By the way, I have to thank Bob Higby here, as it was from reading one of his articles that I saw that these Pauline passages concerning baptism are not talking about water but the Spirit. Likewise, the circumcision “without hands” (Col 2:11)--that is, the circumcision of Christ, is the same thing. Circumcision was established as a sign of the covenant; so, likewise, the Holy Spirit is a seal of the righteousness which we have through faith.

So by the power of the Holy Spirit, God translates a man into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col 1:13); assuring him of his salvation (Rom 8:15-17, 1 Thess 1:4-5); and casting out fear by perfect love (1 John 4:18), just as Jesus cast out devils by the same Spirit, plundering Satan's kingdom (Matthew 12:24-37). So Christ’s words to Nicodemus about the necessity of the new birth to see or enter the kingdom of God must be understood in the light of the gospel revelation which came afterwards: a man must receive the Spirit through gospel faith. And this is the kingdom foretold in prophecy and preached by John the Baptist. But John himself neither saw nor entered the kingdom, as Christ said the least in His kingdom was greater than John (Matthew 11:11). It is not John’s baptism of repentance that creates new life or regeneration, but gospel faith and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And likewise, in Ezekiel: “And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them” (Eze 36:27). What is this other than Holy Spirit baptism? The keeping of the judgments refers to the testimony of the Spirit that one is justified in God’s sight. John says in his first epistle the one who is born of God “cannot sin” - not that we don’t sin in the flesh, but we cannot fall short of the glory of God, because we have this testimony that we’re eternally secure in Christ (see also Rev 12:17 and Rev 19:10 concerning the testimony of Jesus). And we walk in God’s statutes because we are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God (Col 3:3), crucified with Christ and the life we live in the flesh we live by the faith of the Son of God (Gal 2:20). We walk in God’s statutes because we are in Christ, and He is in us, and He walked in God’s statutes perfectly. His works are our works. As Jesus said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

So Old Testament saints were not “regenerated” since they did not have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. David’s prayer in Psalm 51 for God not to take the Holy Spirit from him is not applicable to the New Testament elect which have received the permanent indwelling. God took the Holy Spirit from Saul, but promised never to do so in the New Covenant (2 Sam 7:13-15). And men could be cut off from Israel. But the New Covenant is unlike the old (Heb 8:9) - it is of promise, not of law (Gal 3:18, 4:21-31). And all the Old Testament elect, who died in faith, did not receive the promise - that better thing is reserved for the New Testament church (Heb 11:39-40).

So to answer the “means” question: it is by means of the word of truth. Just as Jesus said, it is finished, and gave up the Ghost, so too we believed, and said in our hearts it is finished, and received the Holy Ghost! And so we died with Christ (Romans 6:3-4, 7:4).

Brandan
10-28-20, 09:08 PM
Dear Don,

I'm so glad to hear of your conversion and your love for the Gospel! And I'm glad to see someone post here on this forum with such excitement. It's not every day that I see this, so I'm very happy... I hope that we have many good years of communication in the truth. I like to keep in touch with as many believers as possible, and I'm very thankful the Lord has led you to this website...

You have an interesting take on regeneration... My own opinion is a person is quickened and regenerate when they see themselves as they are - sinners, morally bankrupt, and unable to please God in and of themselves, and then looking to Christ for everything. This was Adam in the garden when he fell into sin, in my humble opinion. It was at this moment that God revealed to him who he was, his dire position, and his great need for a substitute. And all of God's elect have similar experiences in their fall. A fall in this sense isn't a fall into sin, as all men are created in such depravity and iniquity.



So Old Testament saints were not “regenerated” since they did not have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. David’s prayer in Psalm 51 (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=psa&chapter=51&verse1=&verse2=&version=) for God not to take the Holy Spirit from him is not applicable to the New Testament elect which have received the permanent indwelling. God took the Holy Spirit from Saul, but promised never to do so in the New Covenant (2 Sam 7:13-15 (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=2sa&chapter=7&verse1=13&verse2=15&version=)). And men could be cut off from Israel. But the New Covenant is unlike the old (Heb 8:9 (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=heb&chapter=8&verse1=9&verse2=&version=)) - it is of promise, not of law (Gal 3:18, 4 (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=gal&chapter=3&verse1=18&verse2=&version=):21-31). And all the Old Testament elect, who died in faith, did not receive the promise - that better thing is reserved for the New Testament church (Heb 11:39-40 (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=heb&chapter=11&verse1=39&verse2=40&version=)).

Well I'd beg to differ on this, but I like your effort. :) All of God's people - no matter when they were born - whether in the days of Noah or thousands of years after the time of Christ - they were regenerated, converted, and taught to lean upon Christ for all of their salvation (which requires the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit). In the Old Testmament, the message was "Someone's Coming!" When Christ was alive on this earth, the message was "Someone's Here!" And now we today believe in the same way by looking back on Christ! And this can only be learned by Holy Spirit. And only regenerate people can believe! Certainly the fullness of the Gospel was breathed into this world in much greater detail as we no longer see in types and pictures. The Holy Spirit sent the Gospel into the world and people from every tongue, tribe and nation now also believe. And the gifts of the Spirit were poured out at Pentecost. But David was just as regenerate of an individual as any other believer is today. And his prayer not to have the Spirit taken from him is my same prayer - it is the prayer of all believers at some point in their lives... The Spirit in my own life ebbs and flows - His presence is felt in my own life in varying degrees depending on the circumstances. And as a believer, I long for that felt presence of the Holy Spirit - that close communion with Christ.

John Gill had this to say about it: "and take not thy Holy Spirit from me; or "the Spirit of thine holiness"; the third Person in the Trinity; so called, not because this epithet of "holy" is peculiar to him; for it is used also of the Father, and of the Son, Joh 17:11 (ref:Joh.17.11); but because he is equally holy with them, and is the author of holiness in his people, which is therefore called the sanctification of the Spirit, 1Pe 1:2 (ref:1Pe.1.2); and without whom David knew that purity and holiness of heart and spirit he had desired could not be renewed and increased in him; and therefore deprecates the taking of him away; which shows that he was not as yet removed from him, not with standing he had fallen into great sins; and his sense of sin, and confession of it, and his fervent application for pardoning grace, and purity of heart, abundantly prove it. The Spirit of God is a gift of his, which is without repentance, and where he once is as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, he ever abides: his external gifts may be taken away; but internal grace is an incorruptible seed, and always continues. By sin the Spirit of God may be grieved, so as to withdraw his gracious influences, and his powerful operations may not be felt; and this is what is here deprecated. The Targum interprets this of the spirit of prophecy which David had, by which he composed psalms and songs prophetic of Christ, and of Gospel times, and which was not taken away from him; see 2Sa 23:1 (ref:2Sa.23.1)."



So to answer the “means” question: it is by means of the word of truth. Just as Jesus said, it is finished, and gave up the Ghost, so too we believed, and said in our hearts it is finished, andreceived the Holy Ghost! And so we died with Christ (Romans 6:3-4, 7 (https://www.pristinegrace.org/bible/bible.php?view=1&restrict=0&keywords=&startbook=0&endbook=0&references=0&andor=0&ascdesc=0&highlight=1&chaplinks=1&abrv=1&book=rom&chapter=6&verse1=3&verse2=4&version=):4).Amen! Christ and His Truth is the means! However, as it relates to our regeneration, the "means" debate is kind of silly because God uses all the circumstances of our lives for our good and to effectually call us into fellowship with Him. Of course He uses "means" - everything is a "mean" in the life of the elect individual - even our sin! :)

In the Gospel,
Bro. Brandan

Don19
10-29-20, 05:23 PM
Dear Don,

I'm so glad to hear of your conversion and your love for the Gospel! And I'm glad to see someone post here on this forum with such excitement. It's not every day that I see this, so I'm very happy... I hope that we have many good years of communication in the truth. I like to keep in touch with as many believers as possible, and I'm very thankful the Lord has led you to this website...

Thank you! :)


You have an interesting take on regeneration... My own opinion is a person is quickened and regenerate when they see themselves as they are - sinners, morally bankrupt, and unable to please God in and of themselves, and then looking to Christ for everything. This was Adam in the garden when he fell into sin, in my humble opinion. It was at this moment that God revealed to him who he was, his dire position, and his great need for a substitute. And all of God's elect have similar experiences in their fall. A fall in this sense isn't a fall into sin, as all men are created in such depravity and iniquity.

I see regeneration foreshadowed in God clothing Adam and Eve, whereas they had tried to cover themselves in fig leaves. But regeneration is something God does. Of course, that foreshadows the righteousness of Christ with which we’re clothed. Our nakedness is covered by His righteousness.

When their eyes were opened and they knew good and evil, sin worked death in them - that is spiritual death, because God said they would die in the very day they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And the fig leaves are representative of all of man’s righteousness.



Well I'd beg to differ on this, but I like your effort. :) All of God's people - no matter when they were born - whether in the days of Noah or thousands of years after the time of Christ - they were regenerated, converted, and taught to lean upon Christ for all of their salvation (which requires the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit). In the Old Testmament, the message was "Someone's Coming!" When Christ was alive on this earth, the message was "Someone's Here!" And now we today believe in the same way by looking back on Christ! And this can only be learned by Holy Spirit. And only regenerate people can believe! Certainly the fullness of the Gospel was breathed into this world in much greater detail as we no longer see in types and pictures. The Holy Spirit sent the Gospel into the world and people from every tongue, tribe and nation now also believe. And the gifts of the Spirit were poured out at Pentecost. But David was just as regenerate of an individual as any other believer is today. And his prayer not to have the Spirit taken from him is my same prayer - it is the prayer of all believers at some point in their lives... The Spirit in my own life ebbs and flows - His presence is felt in my own life in varying degrees depending on the circumstances. And as a believer, I long for that felt presence of the Holy Spirit - that close communion with Christ.

John Gill had this to say about it: "and take not thy Holy Spirit from me; or "the Spirit of thine holiness"; the third Person in the Trinity; so called, not because this epithet of "holy" is peculiar to him; for it is used also of the Father, and of the Son, Joh 17:11 (ref:Joh.17.11); but because he is equally holy with them, and is the author of holiness in his people, which is therefore called the sanctification of the Spirit, 1Pe 1:2 (ref:1Pe.1.2); and without whom David knew that purity and holiness of heart and spirit he had desired could not be renewed and increased in him; and therefore deprecates the taking of him away; which shows that he was not as yet removed from him, not with standing he had fallen into great sins; and his sense of sin, and confession of it, and his fervent application for pardoning grace, and purity of heart, abundantly prove it. The Spirit of God is a gift of his, which is without repentance, and where he once is as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, he ever abides: his external gifts may be taken away; but internal grace is an incorruptible seed, and always continues. By sin the Spirit of God may be grieved, so as to withdraw his gracious influences, and his powerful operations may not be felt; and this is what is here deprecated. The Targum interprets this of the spirit of prophecy which David had, by which he composed psalms and songs prophetic of Christ, and of Gospel times, and which was not taken away from him; see 2Sa 23:1 (ref:2Sa.23.1)."



Okay, I definitely have to disagree with Gill here. There was a very real possibility of having the Spirit taken in the Old Testament. God did that to Saul, but specifically promised that, unlike with Saul, His mercy would not depart from us in the New Testament (2 Samuel 7:15). I see David as not wanting to lose God’s favor on account of his sin, as Saul did. The Spirit is the Author of holiness, yes. He is the Author of sanctification. Yes. But why? Because we’ve been set apart by God, and sealed by the Spirit. The Spirit is life because of righteousness (Rom 8:10). In other words, when God baptized us with His Spirit in the New Covenant, He is saying to us not only that we are objects of His favor, but that there is nothing we can ever do to lose His favor. Hence, it is said we are sealed by the Spirit. And we are kings and priests unto God. Well, Saul was a king, but was disgraced. But we have the sure mercies of David. We will never be disgraced. Yes, of course, only those chosen from before the foundation of the world will ever be saved in both Old and New Testaments. But God's eternal decrees play out in time. So without the New Testament gift of the Spirit, we could never know that we're elect.

Jesus promised to send the Comforter, and in doing so He even said it would be expedient for the disciples (!) for Him to depart so that the Comforter would come to them (John 16:7). The disciples, though they were followers of Christ, did not have the comforting ministry of the Spirit as of yet, for He was not yet given (John 7:37-39). Jesus promised the Spirit would dwell IN them and not merely with them (John 14:17). I believe Jesus is referring to Himself here. Jesus Christ dwelt with them in the flesh but would be IN them IN their flesh. (Hence, every spirit that denies Christ is come in the flesh is not of God, but is the spirit of antichrist. 1 John 4:2-3.) Indeed, the New Testament repeatedly talks about Christ IN us (e.g., Col 1:27, Rom 8:10); Paul says he is crucified with Christ and that the life he lives in the flesh he lives by the faith of the Son of God (Gal 2:20). And this is what it means for Christ to be in us: that we are in an indissoluble love relationship with Him, which cannot be severed either by us or Him, for we are His members, His body (1 Cor 6:15-20). Not one of His bones was broken (Psalm 34:20; John 19:33, 36).

And so Jesus Christ told His disciples, who were not yet converted, that they must in fact become converted and become as little children. And that whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein (Luke 18:17). This is the Spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15, Gal 4:5-7) - the legal significance of which to the Gentile audience is that it was illegal for an adopting father in the ancient world to disown an adopted child (but a natural born one could be disowned). Paul says we’ve all been made to drink into one Spirit (1 Cor 12:13), and so everyone who’s experienced the new birth has received this comforting ministry. And we are to walk in Christ just as we received Him (Col 2:6) - so in this way, walking in the Spirit has in focus the security of our salvation, and not merely a felt presence of God which may be conditionally withdraw due to sin. That's how we worship God in Spirit and in Truth. This ministry of the Comforter was absolutely not occurring in the Old Testament, which is why Heb 11:39-40 says the better thing is provided for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Regeneration only occurs twice in the New Testament. In Titus 3:5, I believe the usage conforms to what I’ve laid out. I don’t see the washing of regeneration as distinct from the renewing of the Holy Ghost, but rather as a re-statement of the same beautiful thing in other words. Kind of like how I’ve referenced the sealing of the Spirit, the Comforter, Christ in us, the Spirit of adoption. Moreover, "washing" continues the metaphor of water for the Spirit (John 4:13-14).

And in Matthew 19:28, Jesus says His disciples shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. While the saints will judge the world (1 Cor 6:2), I see this as referring to our present-day spiritual reality as regenerate persons. The one who is spiritual judges all things but he himself is judged of no man (1 Cor 2:15). I see this as requiring the gift of the Spirit, because otherwise in judging others after the flesh we condemn ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5, Rom 2:1-3). But in the Spirit, we are perfectly blameless before God, and always will be. Furthermore, Jesus says this will occur when He is sitting in the throne of His glory. That’s right now! (Acts 2:30-36)


Amen! Christ and His Truth is the means! However, as it relates to our regeneration, the "means" debate is kind of silly because God uses all the circumstances of our lives for our good and to effectually call us into fellowship with Him. Of course He uses "means" - everything is a "mean" in the life of the elect individual - even our sin! :)

In the Gospel,
Bro. BrandanI totally agree that all the circumstances of our life were ordained by God, and ultimately used to bring His elect to Him. Yes, even our sins! Nevertheless, regeneration happens with sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth (2 Thess 2:13).

Bob Higby
10-30-20, 02:04 AM
Thanks so much Don for your gospel testimony and wisdom demonstrated in these posts! More interaction to come soon. I am going to post a new thread on Augustine's late 'conversion' to the gospel of sovereign grace while the opportunity is there. I look forward to all future dialog and fellowship! --Bob

Don19
10-31-20, 07:25 AM
Thanks so much Don for your gospel testimony and wisdom demonstrated in these posts! More interaction to come soon. I am going to post a new thread on Augustine's late 'conversion' to the gospel of sovereign grace while the opportunity is there. I look forward to all future dialog and fellowship! --Bob

Thank you, I appreciate that! I have enjoyed many of your writings here. :)

There’s a diversity of views that may be denominated as sovereign grace. I am aware that Augustine may be placed in this category, even if Roman Catholic. Moreover, the papists do have a doctrine of predestination. Yet, they have no gospel. I am pretty sure Augustine denied the doctrine of assurance, as I understand it. And for that, I cannot regard him highly and, frankly, regard any and all such doctrines as “another gospel.” And a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit.

I’ve spent a good while reading materials from “the Church of Greenville” (letgodbetrue.com) since I first found their website when I was much newer to the faith in April 2019. While there’s a lot of good stuff on their website, and they are sovereign grace adherents (and proponents of immediate Holy Spirit regeneration), they have no doctrine of assurance that I would countenance. They say, essentially, that while salvation is solely by God’s sovereign grace apart from man’s will or works, it can only be by works that we prove we’re elect. This is a horrible denial of the testimony of the Spirit (Romans 8:16). And of God’s perfect love which casts out fear (1 John 4:18), just as Jesus cast out devils by the same Spirit. And of the intent of Jesus in Luke 11:11-13. I needn’t remind everyone what Jesus had to say about those who speak against the Holy Spirit.

Such a theology negates the many promises of the gospel. Jesus promised us rest (Matthew 11:28-30). There are many today who propound sovereign grace and who claim to be saved by faith alone and yet are still working. Why? To prove their election. Yet, in doing so they transgress the Sabbath, as the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between God and His people (Exodus 31:12-17). Therefore, I conclude that working to prove one’s election (otherwise known as perseverance) is unbelief. It’s idolatry. It’s worshiping the works of your own hands (Isaiah 2:8). Though they claim their works are wrought by God, nevertheless it is clear from the testimony of Scripture that God will not accept any graven image made by the hands of men, even if it’s intended to honor Him. In the same manner, those who are working for their assurance are not worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth. Nor is it the childlike faith that Jesus sets forth as a requirement for entry into His kingdom. They purpose to build the Tower of Babel to ascend up to heaven by God’s grace, which they claim to possess in a faith that works.

Ironically, many of them say they keep the Sabbath, and judge those who don’t; yet they exalt a day of the week over the finished work of Christ. And this in spite of Paul’s admonition not to let any man judge in us respect of the Sabbath (Col 2:16-17).

And, to be sure, there are a number of verses in the New Testament these types will use, all of which they misunderstand and misapply. Similar to papists, who are duped by the very words of Jesus into believing that they eat His literal body and drink His literal blood. God has put those verses in Scripture as a stumbling block for those who don’t worship Him rightly. Indeed: “And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.” Eze 14:9

Brandan
10-31-20, 07:50 AM
I'm familiar with the Church of Greenville - there are a lot more problems with that church than just a lack of assurance... What I've read is actually downright shocking - and has to do with the behavior of the folks there as well... Of course, such behavior is a result of their doctrine - which upon examination is law based and not Gospel based in my opinion.

Bob Higby
10-31-20, 03:01 PM
Hi Don. There is more than one issue raised here that are critical to judging all matters by the gospel.

• Holy Spirit regeneration as contrasted to Holy Spirit enlightenment on various issues relative to the current era, both in the New Covenant and the Old Covenant. I, for one, am not convinced that the Old and New Covenant eras were drastically different on the matter of Holy Spirit conviction (as opposed to regeneration) for a time. I think that is where we need to go in this exchange. I see no difference between the Holy Spirit departing from Saul (as opposed to David) and the departure of the Holy Spirit from those once ‘enlightened’ (Heb. 6, 10) as in Christ’s parable of the soils and Luke’s passionate affirmation (I believe Luke was the author of Hebrews) at the end of chapter 10: “We are not of those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who believe to the saving of the soul..” Only these have received Holy Spirit regeneration. The difference between the Old and New Covenant era in this regard is the GREATER MEASURE of the Holy Spirit received in the massive outpouring of the Spirit to God’s elect at Pentecost and extending through to the Parasouia (Pentecost is still present). This is what is referred to as Holy Spirit baptism in the New Testament, the greater measure of the Spirit that believers are given as a result of full knowledge of gospel truth once Christ has come and established His kingdom.

• Water baptism as a sign of the New Covenant. I have no issue with the teaching that it is a sign, rather, I have issues with the teaching that it is to divide believers when there is no clear evidence from either: 1. The New Testament or 2. The history of the Ekklesia that God settled all of the debate decisively. I stand with John Bunyan on this, who was clearly a Free Congregationalist (and not a Baptist) on the issue. The fellowship of believers he attended at Bedford were nonconformist to the Church of England and nothing else. They accepted all believers to communion, regardless of their water baptism views. They even believed that elders and deacons were not to be judged on different views of this matter. All of this history has been lost in the shuffle of dogma. Ultimately, Bunyan received submersionist baptism but he NEVER accepted the notion of it being a dividing wall between believers.

• The progression of Augustine’s thought—well--he did teach works-based assurance until the very end, that is my point. His conversion to a gospel-centered approach to God’s sovereignty would only have occurred to Holy Spirit conviction in studying God’s revelation in the scriptures. It is impossible that it could have happened based on any study of his from the teachings of men available to him at the time he lived (except very few and puny ‘snippets’ from Ambrose of Milan, Polycarp, and maybe some others).
Well, something to think about, study about, and dialog about!

Bro. Bob

Don19
10-31-20, 05:26 PM
Hi Don. There is more than one issue raised here that are critical to judging all matters by the gospel.

• Holy Spirit regeneration as contrasted to Holy Spirit enlightenment on various issues relative to the current era, both in the New Covenant and the Old Covenant. I, for one, am not convinced that the Old and New Covenant eras were drastically different on the matter of Holy Spirit conviction (as opposed to regeneration) for a time. I think that is where we need to go in this exchange. I see no difference between the Holy Spirit departing from Saul (as opposed to David) and the departure of the Holy Spirit from those once ‘enlightened’ (Heb. 6, 10) as in Christ’s parable of the soils and Luke’s passionate affirmation (I believe Luke was the author of Hebrews) at the end of chapter 10: “We are not of those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who believe to the saving of the soul..” Only these have received Holy Spirit regeneration.

I don’t share the same interpretation of Hebrews 6 and 10, which are probably some of the hardest verses in the Bible. Here, having mentioned the Church of Greenville in my previous post in a negative light, I have to side with them on their interpretation: the warnings in Hebrews are targeted to a unique generation of Jewish Christians. Both Hebrews 6 and 10 include phraseology that can only be applied to genuine believers (e.g., made partakers of the Holy Ghost and sanctified by the covenant in Heb 6 and 10, respectively). However, if they apostatize, which is what the author of Hebrews is warning about, they would be cursed. The greater-to-lesser argument is made, how much sorer a punishment is one worthy of who has trodden underfoot the Son of God versus the one who despised Moses’s law? (Heb 10:28-29) The curses they’d be subject to are under the Old Covenant, not the New -- otherwise, a greater-to-lesser argument is fallacious because the New Testament is not like the Old (Heb 8:9). In particular, the destruction of Jerusalem is in view. At the time the epistle was written, the covenant was “ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13) - so not quite vanished away yet.

I think it would be incorrect to view the warnings in Hebrews merely in the context of God’s chastening (a la Ananias and Sapphira and some Corinthian saints who abused the Lord’s supper), because the curses are covenantal. It’s not as if God is truly angry with His children that He would take vengeance on us, but He covenanted with Israel to bless them for obedience and curse them for disobedience (e.g., Deut 28:15-68). So the covenant curses were set to come upon Israel after the flesh, and the Jewish believers, as partakers of both covenants, would be subject to the curses under the first (but Jesus offered an escape to the faithful Jewish Christians in the Olivet Discourse). Peter moreover exhorted his hearers to save themselves from that untoward generation (Acts 2:40).

But there are no curses for us under the New Covenant, as Christ became a curse for us. But God always keeps His covenants, which is of course a source of comfort to us!

And as you rightly pointed out in one of the articles you wrote here, which I read, the blessings and curses under the Old Covenant pertained only to this life, and did not necessarily have any bearing on eternity.

And I believe Paul wrote Hebrews, but he doesn't identify himself as such in the epistle because he is the apostle to the Gentiles, and some of the things he says in the epistle are not applicable to Gentiles.


The difference between the Old and New Covenant era in this regard is the GREATER MEASURE of the Holy Spirit received in the massive outpouring of the Spirit to God’s elect at Pentecost and extending through to the Parasouia (Pentecost is still present). This is what is referred to as Holy Spirit baptism in the New Testament, the greater measure of the Spirit that believers are given as a result of full knowledge of gospel truth once Christ has come and established His kingdom.

I agree that the promises are from Pentecost to the Parasouia. But the ministry of the Comforter is unique to the New Testament. God was not "IN" His people in the Old Covenant in the same way that He is in the New. Paul teaches we've become dead to the law through the Body of Christ (Rom 7:4). It's a different ministry of the Spirit which is unique to the New Testament (John 7:37-39). The Spirit is specifically given as the earnest of our inheritance (2 Cor 1:21-22, 2 Co 5:5, Eph 1:13-14), by Whom we are sealed (Eph 4:30)--that is, shut up, as God shut Noah in the Ark (Gen 7:16), or as Song of Solomon 4:12 states - A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.


• Water baptism as a sign of the New Covenant. I have no issue with the teaching that it is a sign, rather, I have issues with the teaching that it is to divide believers when there is no clear evidence from either: 1. The New Testament or 2. The history of the Ekklesia that God settled all of the debate decisively. I stand with John Bunyan on this, who was clearly a Free Congregationalist (and not a Baptist) on the issue. The fellowship of believers he attended at Bedford were nonconformist to the Church of England and nothing else. They accepted all believers to communion, regardless of their water baptism views. They even believed that elders and deacons were not to be judged on different views of this matter. All of this history has been lost in the shuffle of dogma. Ultimately, Bunyan received submersionist baptism but he NEVER accepted the notion of it being a dividing wall between believers.

I agree that it should not used to divide. I don’t view it as a sign of the covenant, though, or see how that could possibly give us any assurance (and, as Col 2:11-12 states, the circumcision of Christ is "without hands," precluding water baptism). I see the Spirit as the sign of the covenant. The gospel Peter preached required water baptism to receive the Spirit (Acts 2:38). Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom (Matt 16:19), which authority he exercised temporarily in the administration of water. Also, he had to approve new Samaritan converts before those could receive the Spirit (Acts 8:14-17). So Peter still had the keys to the kingdom at this point.

But then God gave the Gentiles the Spirit without water in Acts 10. Hence, Peter’s and Paul’s gospels differed on this point. Gal 2:7 indicates Peter preached the gospel of the circumcision and Paul the gospel of the uncircumcision. In Paul's gospel, the Spirit is given by faith (Gal 3:2, Gal 3:14).

So the gift of the Spirit was the purpose of the administration of water prior to Acts 10. As Peter asked, how can any man forbid water to the Gentiles to whom God has given the Spirit? (Acts 10:47). It’s a lesser-to-greater form of reasoning. The gift of the Spirit was the entire purpose of water baptism, and marked entry into the kingdom, which was irrevocable and makes salvation a 100% certainty. Regardless of anything we do or don't do from that point on, we're secure!

I still regard water baptism as an ordinance, insofar as Peter commanded the Gentiles to be baptized in water even after receiving the Spirit. But if someone's not baptized in water, or not baptized in water as you might think it should be done, yet he's received the Spirit, he's received the greater baptism and really lacks nothing.


• The progression of Augustine’s thought—well--he did teach works-based assurance until the very end, that is my point. His conversion to a gospel-centered approach to God’s sovereignty would only have occurred to Holy Spirit conviction in studying God’s revelation in the scriptures. It is impossible that it could have happened based on any study of his from the teachings of men available to him at the time he lived (except very few and puny ‘snippets’ from Ambrose of Milan, Polycarp, and maybe some others).
Well, something to think about, study about, and dialog about!

Bro. Bob

Yes, this is an interesting dialog, though it appears we have several points of disagreement. I don't agree that the Holy Spirit is the only way he could have discovered this.

Bob Higby
11-21-20, 11:53 PM
Hi Don. Here are my thoughts on your latest post. I have put your comments in bold and mine in plain text, your quotations of me in italics. I hope I did all this correctly!

Here, having mentioned the Church of Greenville in my previous post in a negative light, I have to side with them on their interpretation:

Ok. I respect your sincerity of purpose in what you are defending.

. . . the warnings in Hebrews are targeted to a unique generation of Jewish Christians.

I am not convinced of this at all. They are targeted to the whole people of God and Hebrews is rated by many scholars as a General Epistle.

And I believe Paul wrote Hebrews, but he doesn't identify himself as such in the epistle because he is the apostle to the Gentiles, and some of the things he says in the epistle are not applicable to Gentiles.

I recommend very much David Allen’s book on the Lukan authorship of ‘Hebrews’; he presents arguments that in my thinking are so convincing they are extremely difficult to refute. I had believed in the Lukan authorship from my own studies for a long time before reading Allen. The Greek constructions in the book are the most literate of all NT writings, very much the same as in the gospel of Luke and Acts—but very unlike Paul’s Greek. He states for the third time (2:3, following the same in Luke and Acts) that he is not an eyewitness to the events of Christ’s passion and resurrection. Luke is writing to all persecuted believers in Asia and the whole Roman empire at that time, both Jew and Gentile. So, the book named ‘Hebrews’ is written to all believers at a time of great persecution shortly before Paul’s death. The name should be “Christ Superior to All” or something similar, but the addiction to one-word names for all Bible books was well-established by the second century onward. It was nothing sanctioned by God. I can’t remember who it was in the second century that first proposed the name ‘Hebrews’ for the book—though I know it happened then, but there is no indication whatsoever in the book itself that it is written mainly for those of an Abrahamic bloodline.

The closing greetings of the book are characteristically Pauline, possibly indicating Luke is writing some of these on Paul’s behalf. And since Paul spent his last few years before death with Luke beside him, I perceive that the argumentation of the book is presented with Pauline input.

I can find nothing in the book that is inapplicable to Gentiles, including those with an Abrahamic bloodline who had been progressively scattered as distant as Rome and all of Europe starting with the judgment on the 10 tribes in 722 B.C.E.

Both Hebrews 6 and 10 include phraseology that can only be applied to genuine believers (e.g., made partakers of the Holy Ghost and sanctified by the covenant in Heb 6 and 10, respectively). However, if they apostatize, which is what the author of Hebrews is warning about, they would be cursed.

But as we go on here in your argument, it becomes clear you are only talking about a temporal and not an eternal curse. Dispensationalists (John MacArthur comes to mind) argue that the curse to come as a result of this apostasy mentioned is what those ‘Jews’ of Abrahamic physical descent will experience in the judgment on Jerusalem if they travel there for the feasts in 70 A.D., yet he teaches that such apostates will still be ‘saved’ in eternity regardless of that Christ-denying sin in the end. The assumption is that Roman and Asian Jews understood the law required them to travel to Jerusalem every year (twice) for all of the Leviticus 23 festivals. But this is untrue, many of them understood that such travel was to a ‘place to far’ (Deut. 14:24) and very few Roman and Asian Jews travelled to Jerusalem for these feasts. They observed them locally according to the specifications of Deut. 14 in their own local place of worship.

Apostasy is real and not fictional, those involved have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit and will not have final salvation. The ‘Man in the Cage’ in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is a great example of this. Christ warned very clearly about this sin to those who had said He was possessed of the devil. A person cannot sin against the Holy Spirit without once having been convicted of the Holy Spirit that Christ is Lord and God, having a non-salvific partial knowledge of the truth and taken the Lord’s supper, then subsequently ignored or openly rejected that conviction due to God’s sovereign hardening.

The greater-to-lesser argument is made: how much sorer a punishment is one worthy of who has trodden underfoot the Son of God versus the one who despised Moses’s law? (Heb 10:28-29). The destruction of Jerusalem may indeed be a form of the Old Covenant curse of failing to obey that covenant, but the ‘sorer’ punishment is the curse of the gospel, not the curse of the law. These have rejected the New and Everlasting Covenant of Grace in the Gospel. At the time the epistle was written, the Old covenant was “ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13) - but not quite vanished away yet.

I’m convicted it would be incorrect to view the warnings in Hebrews merely in the context of God’s chastening (such as Ananias and Sapphira and some Corinthian saints who abused the Lord’s supper), because the curses are covenantal. God is not truly wrathful toward His children so that He would pour out eternal vengeance on them. He covenanted with Israel to bless them for obedience and curse them for disobedience (e.g., Deut 28:15-68). So the temporal covenant curses were set to come upon Israel after the flesh.

And as you rightly pointed out in one of the articles you wrote here, which I read, the blessings and curses under the Old Covenant pertained only to this life, and did not necessarily have any bearing on eternity.

Totally correct. There are no curses for us under the New Covenant, as Christ became a curse for us. God always keeps every one of His covenants; the wholly promissory covenants (Noah, Abraham, David, New) have no curses announced to those for whom these are purposed! But there are curses for false professors, the ‘far greater’ punishment for those who disbelieve mentioned in Hebrews

The difference between the Old and New Covenant era in this regard is the GREATER MEASURE of the Holy Spirit received in the massive outpouring of the Spirit to God’s elect at Pentecost and extending through to the Parasouia (Pentecost is still present). This is what is referred to as Holy Spirit baptism in the New Testament, the greater measure of the Spirit that believers are given as a result of full knowledge of gospel truth once Christ has come and established His kingdom.

I agree that the promises are from Pentecost to the Parasouia. But the ministry of the Comforter is unique to the New Testament. God was not "IN" His people in the Old Covenant in the same way that He is in the New. Paul teaches we've become dead to the law through the Body of Christ (Rom 7:4). It's a different ministry of the Spirit which is unique to the New Testament (John 7:37-39). The Spirit is specifically given as the earnest of our inheritance (2 Cor 1:21-22, 2 Co 5:5, Eph 1:13-14), by Whom we are sealed (Eph 4:30)--that is, shut up, as God shut Noah in the Ark (Gen 7:16), or as Song of Solomon 4:12 states - A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Beware of using analogy as a hermeneutic to prove truth, especially from the Canticles. Well, the ministry of our Advocate was operational in the Old Testament also, though, just not in the measure that came with the clarity of the Gospel and kingdom of God that commenced in the person and work of Christ.

Water baptism as a sign of the New Covenant. I have no issue with the teaching that it is a sign, rather, I have issues with the teaching that it is to divide believers when there is no clear evidence from either: 1. The New Testament or 2. The history of the Ekklesia that God settled all of the debate decisively. I stand with John Bunyan on this, who was clearly a Free Congregationalist (and not a Baptist) on the issue. The fellowship of believers he attended at Bedford were nonconformist to the Church of England and nothing else. They accepted all believers to communion, regardless of their water baptism views. They even believed that elders and deacons were not to be judged on different views of this matter. All of this history has been lost in the shuffle of dogma. Ultimately, Bunyan received submersionist baptism but he NEVER accepted the notion of it being a dividing wall between believers.

I agree that it should not used to divide. I don’t view it as a sign of the covenant, though, or see how that could possibly give us any assurance (and, as Col 2:11-12 states, the circumcision of Christ is "without hands," precluding water baptism). I see the Spirit as the sign of the covenant. The gospel Peter preached required water baptism to receive the Spirit (Acts 2:38). Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom (Matt 16:19), which authority he exercised temporarily in the administration of water. Also, he had to approve new Samaritan converts before those could receive the Spirit (Acts 8:14-17). So Peter still had the keys to the kingdom at this point.

But then God gave the Gentiles the Spirit without water in Acts 10. Hence, Peter’s and Paul’s gospels differed on this point. Gal 2:7 indicates Peter preached the gospel of the circumcision and Paul the gospel of the uncircumcision. In Paul's gospel, the Spirit is given by faith (Gal 3:2, Gal 3:14).

So the gift of the Spirit was the purpose of the administration of water prior to Acts 10. As Peter asked, how can any man forbid water to the Gentiles to whom God has given the Spirit? (Acts 10:47). It’s a lesser-to-greater form of reasoning. The gift of the Spirit was the entire purpose of water baptism, and marked entry into the kingdom, which was irrevocable and makes salvation a 100% certainty. Regardless of anything we do or don't do from that point on, we're secure!

Well, there is a difference in the ministries of Peter and Paul in respect to water baptism for sure. Paul states that he was not sent to baptize but to proclaim the gospel. However, my conviction is that an error is made in reading too much into the apparent difference in administration of water and the order thereof. Repentance (change of mind) in Peter is the same as faith (belief) in Paul when it comes to the first activity of a believer in relation to hearing the gospel. There are plenty of instances of Gentile baptisms in Acts, so I see no evidence of distinctive practices. I do not see that Peter is making water administration into a conditional-time event before the Spirit can be poured out. He is saying “change your mind” (about the gospel presented and your murder of Christ) and be baptized “unto” (in connection with) receiving the remission of sins and reception of the Spirit in greater measure. But Peter is not saying that one who believed that day and waited until the next day to be baptized would have a delay in Holy Spirit infilling. The ‘order’ in exact time of faith, Spirit reception, and water administration varies in different instances in Acts.

On the keys, I don’t accept the notion that the ‘keys’ are something different for the eleven (the power to require water baptism as a condition of receiving the Spirit) and all New Covenant believers who possess the same promised keys. These keys refer to the power of binding and loosing that occurs when the true gospel of Grace is proclaimed by us. The binding and loosing actually happens by the sovereign power of God, we are just His ‘flunkies’ in the proclamation that He uses to regenerate or harden. Not that God always uses direct human proclamation to achieve His purposes of regeneration for the elect.

I still regard water baptism as an ordinance, insofar as Peter commanded the Gentiles to be baptized in water even after receiving the Spirit. But if someone's not baptized in water, or not baptized in water as you might think it should be done, yet he's received the Spirit, he's received the greater baptism and really lacks nothing.

We do not disagree on the above point, as far as I can tell.

“The progression of Augustine’s thought—well--he did teach works-based assurance until the very end, that is my point. His conversion to a gospel-centered approach to God’s sovereignty would only have occurred to Holy Spirit conviction in studying God’s revelation in the scriptures. It is impossible that it could have happened based on any study of his from the teachings of men available to him at the time he lived (except very few and puny ‘snippets’ from Ambrose of Milan, Polycarp, and maybe some others). Well, something to think about, study about, and dialog about!”

Yes, this is an interesting dialog, though it appears we have several points of disagreement. I don't agree that the Holy Spirit is the only way he could have discovered this.

You could be right if it was merely a change in head knowledge, however, in all the tireless hours I have spent in study of the “church fathers” I have not found a single reference having even this level of clarity on the gospel. The snippets of gospel language in ‘fathers’ that are used by NT scholars to propose that they had a clear understanding of the apostolic testimony convince me of nothing So what Gus says at the end of his life is either a mere intellectual show of Bible knowledge (which I doubt very much, considering the content) or evidence of his regeneration at some past point.

Bro. Bob

Don19
11-22-20, 09:42 AM
Hi Don. Here are my thoughts on your latest post. I have put your comments in bold and mine in plain text, your quotations of me in italics. I hope I did all this correctly!

Here, having mentioned the Church of Greenville in my previous post in a negative light, I have to side with them on their interpretation:

Ok. I respect your sincerity of purpose in what you are defending.

. . . the warnings in Hebrews are targeted to a unique generation of Jewish Christians.

I am not convinced of this at all. They are targeted to the whole people of God and Hebrews is rated by many scholars as a General Epistle.

And I believe Paul wrote Hebrews, but he doesn't identify himself as such in the epistle because he is the apostle to the Gentiles, and some of the things he says in the epistle are not applicable to Gentiles.

I recommend very much David Allen’s book on the Lukan authorship of ‘Hebrews’; he presents arguments that in my thinking are so convincing they are extremely difficult to refute. I had believed in the Lukan authorship from my own studies for a long time before reading Allen. The Greek constructions in the book are the most literate of all NT writings, very much the same as in the gospel of Luke and Acts—but very unlike Paul’s Greek. He states for the third time (2:3, following the same in Luke and Acts) that he is not an eyewitness to the events of Christ’s passion and resurrection. Luke is writing to all persecuted believers in Asia and the whole Roman empire at that time, both Jew and Gentile. So, the book named ‘Hebrews’ is written to all believers at a time of great persecution shortly before Paul’s death. The name should be “Christ Superior to All” or something similar, but the addiction to one-word names for all Bible books was well-established by the second century onward. It was nothing sanctioned by God. I can’t remember who it was in the second century that first proposed the name ‘Hebrews’ for the book—though I know it happened then, but there is no indication whatsoever in the book itself that it is written mainly for those of an Abrahamic bloodline.

The closing greetings of the book are characteristically Pauline, possibly indicating Luke is writing some of these on Paul’s behalf. And since Paul spent his last few years before death with Luke beside him, I perceive that the argumentation of the book is presented with Pauline input.

I can find nothing in the book that is inapplicable to Gentiles, including those with an Abrahamic bloodline who had been progressively scattered as distant as Rome and all of Europe starting with the judgment on the 10 tribes in 722 B.C.E.

Both Hebrews 6 and 10 include phraseology that can only be applied to genuine believers (e.g., made partakers of the Holy Ghost and sanctified by the covenant in Heb 6 and 10, respectively). However, if they apostatize, which is what the author of Hebrews is warning about, they would be cursed.

But as we go on here in your argument, it becomes clear you are only talking about a temporal and not an eternal curse. Dispensationalists (John MacArthur comes to mind) argue that the curse to come as a result of this apostasy mentioned is what those ‘Jews’ of Abrahamic physical descent will experience in the judgment on Jerusalem if they travel there for the feasts in 70 A.D., yet he teaches that such apostates will still be ‘saved’ in eternity regardless of that Christ-denying sin in the end. The assumption is that Roman and Asian Jews understood the law required them to travel to Jerusalem every year (twice) for all of the Leviticus 23 festivals. But this is untrue, many of them understood that such travel was to a ‘place to far’ (Deut. 14:24) and very few Roman and Asian Jews travelled to Jerusalem for these feasts. They observed them locally according to the specifications of Deut. 14 in their own local place of worship.

Apostasy is real and not fictional, those involved have committed the sin against the Holy Spirit and will not have final salvation. The ‘Man in the Cage’ in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is a great example of this. Christ warned very clearly about this sin to those who had said He was possessed of the devil. A person cannot sin against the Holy Spirit without once having been convicted of the Holy Spirit that Christ is Lord and God, having a non-salvific partial knowledge of the truth and taken the Lord’s supper, then subsequently ignored or openly rejected that conviction due to God’s sovereign hardening.

The greater-to-lesser argument is made: how much sorer a punishment is one worthy of who has trodden underfoot the Son of God versus the one who despised Moses’s law? (Heb 10:28-29). The destruction of Jerusalem may indeed be a form of the Old Covenant curse of failing to obey that covenant, but the ‘sorer’ punishment is the curse of the gospel, not the curse of the law. These have rejected the New and Everlasting Covenant of Grace in the Gospel. At the time the epistle was written, the Old covenant was “ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13) - but not quite vanished away yet.

I’m convicted it would be incorrect to view the warnings in Hebrews merely in the context of God’s chastening (such as Ananias and Sapphira and some Corinthian saints who abused the Lord’s supper), because the curses are covenantal. God is not truly wrathful toward His children so that He would pour out eternal vengeance on them. He covenanted with Israel to bless them for obedience and curse them for disobedience (e.g., Deut 28:15-68). So the temporal covenant curses were set to come upon Israel after the flesh.

And as you rightly pointed out in one of the articles you wrote here, which I read, the blessings and curses under the Old Covenant pertained only to this life, and did not necessarily have any bearing on eternity.

Totally correct. There are no curses for us under the New Covenant, as Christ became a curse for us. God always keeps every one of His covenants; the wholly promissory covenants (Noah, Abraham, David, New) have no curses announced to those for whom these are purposed! But there are curses for false professors, the ‘far greater’ punishment for those who disbelieve mentioned in Hebrews

The difference between the Old and New Covenant era in this regard is the GREATER MEASURE of the Holy Spirit received in the massive outpouring of the Spirit to God’s elect at Pentecost and extending through to the Parasouia (Pentecost is still present). This is what is referred to as Holy Spirit baptism in the New Testament, the greater measure of the Spirit that believers are given as a result of full knowledge of gospel truth once Christ has come and established His kingdom.

I agree that the promises are from Pentecost to the Parasouia. But the ministry of the Comforter is unique to the New Testament. God was not "IN" His people in the Old Covenant in the same way that He is in the New. Paul teaches we've become dead to the law through the Body of Christ (Rom 7:4). It's a different ministry of the Spirit which is unique to the New Testament (John 7:37-39). The Spirit is specifically given as the earnest of our inheritance (2 Cor 1:21-22, 2 Co 5:5, Eph 1:13-14), by Whom we are sealed (Eph 4:30)--that is, shut up, as God shut Noah in the Ark (Gen 7:16), or as Song of Solomon 4:12 states - A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.

Beware of using analogy as a hermeneutic to prove truth, especially from the Canticles. Well, the ministry of our Advocate was operational in the Old Testament also, though, just not in the measure that came with the clarity of the Gospel and kingdom of God that commenced in the person and work of Christ.

Water baptism as a sign of the New Covenant. I have no issue with the teaching that it is a sign, rather, I have issues with the teaching that it is to divide believers when there is no clear evidence from either: 1. The New Testament or 2. The history of the Ekklesia that God settled all of the debate decisively. I stand with John Bunyan on this, who was clearly a Free Congregationalist (and not a Baptist) on the issue. The fellowship of believers he attended at Bedford were nonconformist to the Church of England and nothing else. They accepted all believers to communion, regardless of their water baptism views. They even believed that elders and deacons were not to be judged on different views of this matter. All of this history has been lost in the shuffle of dogma. Ultimately, Bunyan received submersionist baptism but he NEVER accepted the notion of it being a dividing wall between believers.

I agree that it should not used to divide. I don’t view it as a sign of the covenant, though, or see how that could possibly give us any assurance (and, as Col 2:11-12 states, the circumcision of Christ is "without hands," precluding water baptism). I see the Spirit as the sign of the covenant. The gospel Peter preached required water baptism to receive the Spirit (Acts 2:38). Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom (Matt 16:19), which authority he exercised temporarily in the administration of water. Also, he had to approve new Samaritan converts before those could receive the Spirit (Acts 8:14-17). So Peter still had the keys to the kingdom at this point.

But then God gave the Gentiles the Spirit without water in Acts 10. Hence, Peter’s and Paul’s gospels differed on this point. Gal 2:7 indicates Peter preached the gospel of the circumcision and Paul the gospel of the uncircumcision. In Paul's gospel, the Spirit is given by faith (Gal 3:2, Gal 3:14).

So the gift of the Spirit was the purpose of the administration of water prior to Acts 10. As Peter asked, how can any man forbid water to the Gentiles to whom God has given the Spirit? (Acts 10:47). It’s a lesser-to-greater form of reasoning. The gift of the Spirit was the entire purpose of water baptism, and marked entry into the kingdom, which was irrevocable and makes salvation a 100% certainty. Regardless of anything we do or don't do from that point on, we're secure!

Well, there is a difference in the ministries of Peter and Paul in respect to water baptism for sure. Paul states that he was not sent to baptize but to proclaim the gospel. However, my conviction is that an error is made in reading too much into the apparent difference in administration of water and the order thereof. Repentance (change of mind) in Peter is the same as faith (belief) in Paul when it comes to the first activity of a believer in relation to hearing the gospel. There are plenty of instances of Gentile baptisms in Acts, so I see no evidence of distinctive practices. I do not see that Peter is making water administration into a conditional-time event before the Spirit can be poured out. He is saying “change your mind” (about the gospel presented and your murder of Christ) and be baptized “unto” (in connection with) receiving the remission of sins and reception of the Spirit in greater measure. But Peter is not saying that one who believed that day and waited until the next day to be baptized would have a delay in Holy Spirit infilling. The ‘order’ in exact time of faith, Spirit reception, and water administration varies in different instances in Acts.

On the keys, I don’t accept the notion that the ‘keys’ are something different for the eleven (the power to require water baptism as a condition of receiving the Spirit) and all New Covenant believers who possess the same promised keys. These keys refer to the power of binding and loosing that occurs when the true gospel of Grace is proclaimed by us. The binding and loosing actually happens by the sovereign power of God, we are just His ‘flunkies’ in the proclamation that He uses to regenerate or harden. Not that God always uses direct human proclamation to achieve His purposes of regeneration for the elect.

I still regard water baptism as an ordinance, insofar as Peter commanded the Gentiles to be baptized in water even after receiving the Spirit. But if someone's not baptized in water, or not baptized in water as you might think it should be done, yet he's received the Spirit, he's received the greater baptism and really lacks nothing.

We do not disagree on the above point, as far as I can tell.

“The progression of Augustine’s thought—well--he did teach works-based assurance until the very end, that is my point. His conversion to a gospel-centered approach to God’s sovereignty would only have occurred to Holy Spirit conviction in studying God’s revelation in the scriptures. It is impossible that it could have happened based on any study of his from the teachings of men available to him at the time he lived (except very few and puny ‘snippets’ from Ambrose of Milan, Polycarp, and maybe some others). Well, something to think about, study about, and dialog about!”

Yes, this is an interesting dialog, though it appears we have several points of disagreement. I don't agree that the Holy Spirit is the only way he could have discovered this.

You could be right if it was merely a change in head knowledge, however, in all the tireless hours I have spent in study of the “church fathers” I have not found a single reference having even this level of clarity on the gospel. The snippets of gospel language in ‘fathers’ that are used by NT scholars to propose that they had a clear understanding of the apostolic testimony convince me of nothing So what Gus says at the end of his life is either a mere intellectual show of Bible knowledge (which I doubt very much, considering the content) or evidence of his regeneration at some past point.

Bro. Bob


Hello Bro. Bob,

Thank you for your thoughtful and thorough response. I was actually starting to rethink Heb 6 in the last few days, myself. The lead up to this passage is Paul (or whoever wrote Hebrews) exhorting his audience to move on from milk to meat. It may not be an OT curse in view; if so, the “falling away” would be going back to works of law from grace. Perhaps the sense is it is impossible to repent or be in a good or fruitful relationship with God through works of law if you’ve tasted of the good gift of the Holy Spirit, the grace of God, and become a partaker of the Holy Spirit (definitely only describes someone in Christ). In particular, the fact that v. 9 talks about “things that accompany salvation” is leading me to this view. And the exhortation to work towards full assurance. James says that the one who converts an erring brother shall save a soul from death and hide a multitude of sins (Jas 5:19-20). This is not eternal death, but loss of fellowship with God. Paul tells us, that if you live according to the flesh you will die (Rom 8:13). This is a true warning to believers - going back to the flesh (including works of law) will only make us defile our garments, and we’re in an even worse state than if we’d not know the truth if we’re entangled against in the corruption of the world (2 Pet 2:18-22). We’re to walk in Christ as we received Him (Col 2:6) - which is in the Spirit. But if we forget the Spirit, all that’s left is the corruption of the flesh. Hence, James also said that a multitude of sins will be hidden. This is because, even if we do things that are outwardly righteous after the flesh, it is sin. Why? Because we’re only doing good for self-serving reasons. The carnal mind is enmity against God and those in the flesh cannot please Him. The only obedience that pleases God is obedience that works for neither salvation nor assurance, but which works by love, which works out of gratitude towards God.

In any event, while I may have waffled on the particular sense of Heb 6, I am definitely more adamant that not only is it is not the sin against the Holy Spirit, the sin against the Spirit is not as you describe it (or how Bunyan treats of it). Firstly, I would note it is not called “the unforgivable sin,” but it is rather said that the one who speaks against or blasphemes the Holy Spirit does not have forgiveness. There’s a big difference there, and I hope to show why. Jesus even shows a distinction between speaking "a word" against the Son of man, versus "speaketh against the Holy Ghost" -- notice "a word" is absent. Matthew 12:32

I, for one, do not accept this notion that a single act or word spoken in time puts one past forgiveness. As long as one is still alive, God may yet save him. Indeed, in the same context that Jesus talked about the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, He said that an evil man brings forth evil things from the evil treasure of his heart, and a good man brings forth good things. Matthew 12:33-35. So it's not about a decision or a single moment in time, but a condition of the heart.

If Saul of Tarsus had been in the shoes of those Pharisees at the time, he might have said the same things. Would that put him past forgiveness? Of course not.

So what is it? I have already written about how God gives His people the Holy Spirit as an earnest of our inheritance at the time we believe, which is specifically a pledge of our inheritance, and is otherwise known as the promise of the Spirit or Holy Spirit baptism. Therefore, the Holy Spirit translates the elect into the *kingdom* of His dear Son (Col 1:11-13)--note Jesus is talking about the *kingdom* when He mentions Holy Spirit blasphemy--and in doing so He *casts out* fear (1 John 4:18), just as Jesus cast out devils by the same Spirit. He who fears is not made perfect in love, as John says. But anyone who believes he can lose salvation has reason to fear, and is still a slave of sin. And so anyone who denies eternal security speaks against the Holy Spirit, because he denies even the premise of the sealing of the Spirit, the promise of the Spirit. Such a person doesn’t have forgiveness because it’s obvious he’s never received the Holy Spirit. If he had, he wouldn't speak that way. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.

But it goes beyond that. Because if I said, that God has given me the earnest of my inheritance, and that I no longer work to keep my salvation or to prove that I am saved, and someone should tell me that the promise I received of God was not of God, then it is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. I’m talking about the immediate witness of the Holy Spirit. To denounce that is really the one sin that a man could commit that shows he’s not in the kingdom of God. And if anyone should wonder, how do you know it's the Spirit? Well, Jesus said Satan does not cast out Satan; if he did, his kingdom is divided against itself. Hence Jesus said “all manner of sin and blasphemy” shall be forgiven, except Holy Spirit blasphemy. But, frankly, even many Calvinists say that a man can only know by his own works whether he’s truly elect, and I have serious doubts about anyone who teaches such things. If you take that to its logical conclusion, it is a denial of the gospel. Case in point, I could show you right from the lips of John Piper, that he holds, “you don’t get into heaven by faith alone.” I know that there are a lot of verses they will use to support such teachings. Frankly, God has put such things in the Bible to deceive them. "If the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet." The Bible talks about knowing the truth (e.g., 1 John 2:21), and this is not an exhaustive knowledge of Scripture but an experiential knowledge of the truth--as Jesus said, ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32. But those who don't know the truth are likely to be deceived by their "plain reading" of the Bible, just as God intended (Matthew 11:25-26, Matthew 13:10-17).

Finally, to the subject of the differences between Peter’s gospel and Paul’s, I can’t see Acts 2:38 as anything other than a condition set forth to receive the Spirit. This shows that the gift of the Spirit is not the same thing as gospel faith. The Samaritan believers had faith but didn’t have the Spirit yet. But that was definitely a unique situation in early Acts that has been superseded by Paul’s gospel which includes the gift of the Spirit solely by faith (and God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to Paul’s “my gospel” - Rom 2:16, and he also calls it “my gospel” in 2 Tim 2:8).

Bob Higby
11-25-20, 11:33 PM
Hi again Don.

"I, for one, do not accept this notion that a single act or word spoken in time puts one past forgiveness." I do not accept this either, I'm not sure if you are claiming that I did. When the scripture states "He said this because they said 'He has an evil spirit'", what Christ's accusers had said indicated a rebellious heart condition on their part that the one act of speaking this only brought to light. So yes, it is definitely a heart condition.

Since no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' in genuine confession without Holy Spirit regeneration (1 Cor. 12:3, Rom. 10:9), I don't accept the notion that "The Samaritan believers had faith but didn’t have the Spirit yet." Again though, there may be a distinction between regeneration and the full measure of the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal power that needs to be discussed here.

"any Calvinists say that a man can only know by his own works whether he’s truly elect", YES, we both would agree that this notion is anti-gospel to the core. Any notion of works-based assurance is anti-gospel and denies Rom. 3:28. By works-based assurance, I mean the idea that we can measure our level of works in relation to the law(s) of God and somehow know that where we are at in our experience right now is a sufficient level of 'holiness' to be prepared/ready/fit for death and enter Christ's presence with confidence.

Bro. Bob

Don19
11-26-20, 09:28 AM
Hi again Don.

"I, for one, do not accept this notion that a single act or word spoken in time puts one past forgiveness." I do not accept this either, I'm not sure if you are claiming that I did. When the scripture states "He said this because they said 'He has an evil spirit'", what Christ's accusers had said indicated a rebellious heart condition on their part that the one act of speaking this only brought to light. So yes, it is definitely a heart condition.

Okay, glad to have cleared that up.


Since no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' in genuine confession without Holy Spirit regeneration (1 Cor. 12:3, Rom. 10:9), I don't accept the notion that "The Samaritan believers had faith but didn’t have the Spirit yet." Again though, there may be a distinction between regeneration and the full measure of the Holy Spirit in Pentecostal power that needs to be discussed here.

I'd been contemplating 1 Cor 12:3 in the last few weeks. I found an interesting comment online recently that seems to tie the whole context together. Otherwise, what use is it to tell us that no one speaking by the Spirit calls Jesus accursed? Isn't that obvious?

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/5212/how-should-we-contextualize-pauls-jesus-is-accursed-in-i-co-123

Paul is making a subtle reference to the Ten Commandments. He refers
to the command to make no idols, and then the command against taking
the Lord's name in vain. Thus, it is "word-and-response." The spoken
Word comes from God (idols are dumb) and His people "take His name"
upon them through the Covenant oath, a legal, public profession.

"Amen" seals the vow. It is a self-malediction that makes the
agreement binding. Those swearing the oath agree to be cursed if they
break it. This is why Jesus in Revelation is the "Amen." He has kept
the Law for us. And He has sent His Spirit that we may keep the Law
through that Spirit.

Paul is saying that no man who has received the Spirit can curse
Jesus. And no man who has not received the Spirit can truly bless
Jesus. Blessing and cursing was God's job (beginning in Genesis 1-3).
Every Covenant has Sanctions, but in the New Covenant, God's people
have become prophetic, speaking as His legal Covenant representatives.
We can bless and curse, which is no more than calling evil evil and
calling good good. This is because those who believe and have received
the Spirit have not taken Jesus' name in vain. The true saints always
persevere, and this perseverance is one of the gifts of the Spirit.


So, if I understand this right, Paul isn't saying, that no one can say Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit, as in no one can open his mouth and utter those words apart from the Spirit. It's obvious that many false professors do this. Matthew 7:21-23 comes to mind. But, rather, I see Paul's meaning as no one can truly call Jesus their own apart from the Spirit (see also Rom 8:9). And no one sealed by the Spirit can ever depart from Jesus, as the Gentiles departed from their dumb idols, as He seals us particularly with the seal of His love and jealousy (Song 8:6-7). Therefore, in receiving the Spirit, we take on His name, and that never happens in vain. God will save His own people for His very name's sake! (Isaiah 48:9-11)