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Thread: What does the word "means" mean to you?

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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.

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    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.
    This is my signature.

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    Who is lost? Is everyone okay?

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    Yes, we lost Vadim's presence on this forum - that is what I meant. He asked me to remove all of his articles too...
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    My goodness. I am so sorry. Please convey my apology if you speak to him. I had no intention of driving anyone away.

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    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
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    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.
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

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    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).

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    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 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).

    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; 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; 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."


    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, 7:4).
    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
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandan View Post
    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; 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; 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."
    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. Brandan
    I 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).

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    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
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Higby View Post
    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

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    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.
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    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!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Higby View Post
    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.

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    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
    I got four things to live by: don't say nothin' that will hurt anybody; don't give advice--no one will take it anyway; don't complain; don't explain. Walter Scott

  35. The Following User Says Thank You to Bob Higby For This Useful Post:

    Don19 (11-22-20)

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