What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (The Spirit, Part 1)

churchofchristIt’s easy to criticize some of the errors of the more conservative Churches of Christ. And the very natural, very human tendency is to lump all Church of Christ teachings together and reject them all.

And so, I think it’s important to occasionally step back and ask just what there is that needs preserving, indeed, that is precious not only to those of us who grew up in the Churches but to Christendom in general.

Let’s reflect a bit on that question from a historical perspective. Indeed, one of the great mistakes of the Churches in the 20th Century was to pretend that the Churches have no history and that there is no profit in studying the work of our 19th Century forebears. Fortunately, in the last 20 years or so, some excellent books have been written reminding us of our lost history — a history that we should be immensely proud of.

I’m convinced that some of the most valuable parts of our Church of Christ heritage come from our Restoration Movement past. It’s a past that shaped us in many ways, and it would be tragic if we were to forget the best lessons of that past.

Barton W. Stone

An alternative to 1800-style frontier Calvinism

The Restoration Movement began around 1800 or so as two separate movements. The older movement was founded by Barton W. Stone, a Presbyterian preacher in Illinois. The younger movement was founded by Thomas Campbell, also a Presbyterian preacher, from western Pennsylvania.

As is true today, the Presbyterians were Calvinists — although the Calvinism of over 200 years ago was a much stricter version than what we usually hear taught today.

Here’s an example of Calvinism similar to what was taught on the American frontier around 1800 —

In short, in this view of grace I am not saved until I experience a supernatural cleansing from God  — a saving experience that I can describe to the church to demonstrate that God has elected me. Merely having faith in Jesus and repenting of my sins does not qualify me for baptism and salvation. I must be among the elect, and the elect will know he is elected, not because he has faith in Jesus, but because he’s experienced God entering his heart and accepting him.

Therefore, someone might spend his entire life with faith in Jesus, fully penitent, and be baptized or say the Sinner’s Prayer 50 times and not yet be saved because he is not among the elect — unless and until God enters his heart and assures him of his salvation — which may well never, ever occur.

Of course, many — I’m sure most — Calvinists would disagree today, pointing out that the presence of faith is, itself, proof that the convert’s heart is open to the working of the Spirit and therefore the convert is among the elect. But this is not old-fashioned, American frontier Calvinism.

And it was against this brand of Calvinism that the Restoration Movement was birthed — and one reason that there is such a strident anti-Calvinist culture in the modern Churches of Christ.

Technically, we’re discussing “prevenient grace,” the idea that humans cannot come to faith unless the Spirit changes our hearts to be open to the gospel. In Calvinism, only the elect will experience this change, and if their hearts are opened, they will have an experience assuring them of salvation and then they will inevitably respond to the gospel. The elect therefore experience “irresistible grace.”

In classic Arminianism (non-Calvinist Protestantism), every time the word is preached, all hearts that are listening are opened by the Spirit, but not all choose to respond.

The Churches of Christ very rarely address prevenient grace in their teaching, but are generally Semi-Pelagian, meaning that the Spirit is assumed involved in gospel preaching solely in providing the content of the lesson — the word of God. Otherwise, people act entirely as a matter of free will to respond or not.

In Stone’s case, he came to reject this kind of Calvinism at the famous Cane Ridge Revival, held in a very small town in western Kentucky in 1803. There he saw preachers from different denominations — himself included — calling for those present to come to faith in Jesus and repent, and people by the thousands were converted based on the presentation of the gospel and faith in Jesus. A decision to follow Jesus was enough — no mystical saving experience required.

Baptism was not yet an issue for Stone, and yet the converts were baptized, although not necessarily by immersion. Nearly all denominations baptize their converts by one means or another.

To Stone the ultimate test of salvation is not the terms on which you are baptized but whether your life evidences the receipt of the Spirit and the Spirit’s transforming work in your life. And in his autobiography, very late in his life, Stone declared that every person who’d been converted at the Cane Ridge Revival that he had been able to keep up with had in fact evidenced the Spirit’s work in his life until then — and so Stone was convicted that they were truly converted.

As a result, rather than passively awaiting God’s decision to elect, Stone became a revival preacher — that is, he preached asking his audience to make a decision to repent and to come to faith in Jesus. This sounds so ordinary to us, but in those days, that was quite a dramatic change for many — and many responded in tears, because they’d been crying out to God for perhaps decades and yet had never felt saved.

Baptism for remission of sins by immersion came much later for Stone, and while Stone came to adopt that teaching from the Campbells, he never considered the salvation of his converts to be conditioned on how they were baptized — but rather he considered whether they had in fact come to faith in Jesus and whether the Spirit’s transforming work was evident in their lives.

This sort of thought is very uncomfortable for modern Church of Christ members who deny the presence of the Spirit, and yet the Biblical basis for the teaching is solid. But before we get to scriptures, we need to also consider —

Rejection of the Quaker doctrine of the Spirit

Thomas Campbell worked in western Pennsylvania, which means that he inevitably found himself in contact with the Society of Friends or Quakers. William Penn had founded Pennsylvania as a refuge for Quakers, who had been persecuted in England.

The Quakers considered the Holy Spirit to not only indwell each Christian but to continue to provide guidance on par with the inspiration of scripture. As the Wikipedia states,

Most Friends believe in continuing revelation, which is the religious belief that truth is continuously revealed directly to individuals from God.

Stone and the Campbells, especially the Campbells, rejected this doctrine and often wrote against it. As a result, the Churches of Christ still carry a strong conviction against newly revealed truths from the Spirit, especially doctrinal truths.

Early Restoration Movement writings are filled with arguments against the Spirit acting on hearers of the word before baptism and against the Spirit revealing new doctrinal truths. As the background for this teaching was forgotten, many in the Restoration Movement generalized this teaching to deny the personal indwelling of the Spirit altogether — resulting in the so-called “word only” position.

For those who hold to a personal indwelling, the Spirit’s work is generally limited to participating in helping cleanse the believer of sin and mediating before God — but any “direct operation” on the heart by the Spirit is denied, generally in Cessationist terms.

Cessationism is the theory that miracles ended with the end of the apostolic age, or shortly thereafter. And because it’s assumed that any operation of the Spirit on the heart of the believer would be a Quaker-ish miracle, the direct operation of the Spirit is denied  — with very little serious scriptural study in support of that view.

In fact, the possibility of a vital work by the Spirit in the heart of the believer is denied ad hoc, based on our denominational culture and a denial that the world is open to God’s intervention — which is a Modernist heresy. I mean, we contradict that when we say that prayer works, but we won’t even consider that the Spirit might be active. Somehow it’s okay for God to heal the sick by the power of prayer but unthinkable to credit the Spirit with even being present.

And so there’s an element of our doctrine of the Spirit that needs preserving: our rejection of the Calvinist view of prevenient grace, that is, our view that anyone can come to saving faith as a matter of free will. That teaching has caused the Churches of Christ to be very active in the mission field, in church plants, and in personal evangelism (not that we shouldn’t try to do even better).

Moreover, I agree with our rejection of the Quaker “inward light” or concept that all Christians have the same level of inspiration as the apostles when it comes to doctrine. I just don’t see it — and resort to the scriptures in matters of doctrine is sound — even though we often compromise our principles by seeking to impose the words of early church fathers — uninspired writings of early Christians — to fill in the gaps that we think God left us.

However, this is not nearly enough Spirit. The scriptures promise much, much more — and while we may disagree as to how much is available, it is certainly more than has been traditionally taught in the Churches.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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82 Responses to What Must Be Preserved of the Churches of Christ? (The Spirit, Part 1)

  1. Royce Ogle says:

    I believe most of our doctrinal problems have their root in a poor understanding of the gospel. Most people I have encountered, or observed, who have flawed doctrine don’t seem to have a clue what God accomplished through the Son.

    The “gospel” is mentioned often but seldom explained. The result is people who are trying various was to accomplish for themselves what was accomplished over 2000 years before they were born.

  2. Gary says:

    Barton Stone’s prominent place in our heritage should help us have a big tent approach to discerning the limits of our fellowship and the theological diversity we are willing to live with. He was not orthodox regarding the Trinity which I believe in but he made a valuable contribution to our beginnings and still offers us today alternatives to the 20th century Church of Christ status quo. He never made baptism by immersion a test of fellowship and that is the position I have come to hold in recent years. His refusal to try and define and place limits around the work of the Holy Spirit today is refreshing.

  3. In online interactions, I came across a brother who was consistent in his teachings on Spirit and prayer, though I feel him to be consistently wrong. He basically said that the only reason we pray is because we were commanded to. Because God no longer acts in the world today, we should not expect any results from our prayers. (!)

    No, that’s not what I believe… by a long shot. That’s what another brother replied to me in a discussion. As I said, at least he was consistent.

  4. Price says:

    My guess is that most conservative groups would not want to bring up the Cane Ridge Revival…The absence of teaching about the HS seems so odd given the importance that Jesus placed on His assistance and the fact that He is our seal of salvation Eph 3 and how one is determined to be a part of Christ..Rom 8… More teaching on this subject would strengthen the church by an exponential degree !!

  5. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Tim,

    Years ago, I participated in a discussion at Preacher Files. The argument was made that no miracles have occurred since 100 AD. I asked about prayer. in the most condescending tones possible, I was told that God answers prayers, but he exists separate from earth time — so that he actually answers them before 100 AD based on his perfect foreknowledge during the apostolic age. I asked why then God couldn’t do miracles before 100 AD that would be effective today. Well, it seems that would violate the rule that God can no longer do miracles.

    Crazy, incoherent, circular reasoning all for the sake of denying what the Bible promises. Bultmann would be proud. Our conservative brothers are so conservative at times that they actually become liberal — because it’s the liberals who deny miracles. They truly are influenced by our secular culture to be blind to God’s activity today.

  6. Jeff says:

    There is another dimension to Calvinism that is very much alive, even among conservative churches of Christ. That is, the notion that “everything happens for a reason”, even contending that the most horrible of human tragedies are somehow “God’s will” and are “all part of God’s plan.”
    Such unbiblical dogmas are continuously perpetuated, unchallenged in our churches as if they are harmless, but few bother to internalize the disasterous consequences of being told the death of a child you just lost was “God’s plan”, because, you know, “all things work together for good”–Until it happens to them. This thinking is producing more atheists than Christians.

    On a more trivial level, many young ladies wait through their 20’s and 30’s for a marriage partner to be divinely hand-picked and delivered to them, because they have been led to believe that “God has a plan for your life, you just have to wait for Him to make it happen.”
    It’s a difficult angle to address and upon which to affix a label, but even while denying the operation of the Spirit in the life of the Christian, many conservatives contend that “God’s providence” manages our lives, relieving the individual of responsibility to be pro-active, and to make wise choices–Weird.

  7. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    PS == This is mainly at the extreme right wing of the Churches of Christ. Many conservative Churches are less strident, although few would recognize that the Spirit has a “direct operation” on the Christian’s heart today.

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Jeff,

    You make some excellent observations. The truth, I believe, is in between the two extremes. One extreme is that God has a plan for everything and causes everything — which is a form of Calvinism and not biblical. The other extr4eme is that God is no longer active in this world.

    I don’t think everyone is called to a particular job or mission. But I do believe God sometimes calls someone to a particular task. In ancient Israel, Gideon was called to lead Israel’s army, but few other Israelites had a calling. I think the same is true today.

  9. Grace says:

    I believe the Bible says that God is in control.

    1 Samuel 2:1-10 And Hannah prayed and said: My heart rejoices in the LORD; My horn is exalted in the LORD. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation.

    No one is holy like the LORD, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.

    Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the LORD is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.

    The bows of the mighty men are broken, And those who stumbled are girded with strength.

    Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, And the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, And she who has many children has become feeble.

    The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.

    The LORD makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory.

    For the pillars of the earth are the LORD’s, And He has set the world upon them. He will guard the feet of His saints, But the wicked shall be silent in darkness.

    For by strength no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken in pieces; From heaven He will thunder against them. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth.

    He will give strength to His king, And exalt the horn of His anointed.

    Proverbs 16:4 The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.

    Isaiah 45:6-7 I am the LORD, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things.

    Acts 17:24-31 God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.

    Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

    Revelation 4:11 You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power;
    For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.

  10. laymond says:

    Tim, in regards to the Spirit and prayer. Do you invoke the name of Jesus in your prayers, if so how do you explain not all your prayers are answered .
    Jhn 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
    Jhn 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

    Tim, could it be that Jesus just misstated what he intended to say, or is it possible that we (I mean you) misunderstood to whom Jesus was speaking.

  11. hallelujah says:

    Perhaps we are all over-thinking this a bit….

    The Gospel is charged for every man (person), regardless of their level of thought or capability of thought and self-knowing. Will everyone be able to understand the level of “self knowing” described in this article? Probably not, but salvation is potentially available to all as I understand the scriptures. So rather than turning this concept into a ‘self determined (self knowing) elect’, maybe God’s plan and approach is somewhat beyond our (et al) understanding. For examples, please note the following:

    Mark 16:16
    “And He (Jesus) said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned”.

    KJV: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

    Acts 2:38
    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  12. .
    In my mond, it is hard to salvage bits of doctrine that are so identifiable with the CoC, but not because there are no positives there. Confidence in the validity of scripture, a call to orthodoxy, missionality, clear separation of identity between those in Christ and those who are not, insistence that we express our faith tangibly, the Lordship of Jesus– these are all positive things for the church as a whole and needful realities that we should all embrace.

    No, my difficulty lies in our history of taking these things and making them over time into harmful, even dangerous habits and doctrines. Confidence in scripture has led to a de facto bibliolatry, orthodoxy became divisiveness, a rejection of Calvinism has removed any assurance to a believer that he is saved, works have taken pre-eminence over faith, separation between believers and unbelievers has become judgment among believers. It is very difficult to peel away from a good foundation the weak and bent structure which is now built on top of it. If we can do it, the positives are still under there somewhere.

  13. .
    This focus on “plans”is our own theogical substitute for personal interaction with God. When we cease to need -or even acknowledge the reality of- the personal leading of God in our own lives, then we are left to make sense of the last things we think we heard him say and try to extrapolate those things into a multi-millenial program. It’s living by educated guess. Sometimes we really wish he were still alive to explain things to us. But as things are, we muddle along as best we can, assuming there is a grand “plan” which God put in place before he left and trying to get on board with it– whatever it is.

  14. Clint says:

    A few years ago, while I worked as a Preaching Minister at a very conservative congregation in churches of Christ, there was an Elder there who held very strongly to the “word only” position. We had several discussions/disagreements concerning this issue and eventually other issues as well. The thing that I found most strange, was even though this man believed that the Spirit moved or worked only through the written scriptures, on Sundays that he was asked to lead the opening prayer, he would pray that God would give the speaker (Me) a “ready recollection of the things he has prepared.” I found it odd that he would ask God to move in such a way, but by his own admission, refused to believe that God’s Spirit would do any such thing.
    Either way, I appreciated the prayers, even though I’m not sure God or His Spirit ever gave me one of those “ready recollections” but considering my limited abilities, I’m still hoping He does some day.

    God bless your work! I am continually challenged and encouraged by your writings in books and in this blog.

  15. Ryan says:

    “And so there’s an element of our doctrine of the Spirit that needs preserving: our rejection of the Calvinist view of prevenient grace, that is, our view that anyone can come to saving faith as a matter of free will”

    Perhaps it’s just semantics, but I thought Calvinism taught ‘irresistible grace’ as opposed to the Arminian view of ‘prevenient grace’. It seems to me that the churches of Christ emphasis on ‘free will’ is really a kneejerk response to a misunderstanding of what prevenient grace actually means. And this, in turn, most likely stems from the de-storying of the gospel where God indeed acted/acts first. That is, these terms like prevenient grace or irresistible grace or original sin, etc. are all mere concepts which tend to lose their merit and import when stripped from the biblical narrative from which they were derived.

    In my view, the errors presented (Quaker inner light, Calvinist views on grace, etc.) are all instances of modern, individualistic, errors—errors that really come to blossom in the modern period. The coC—also very modern—proposes opposing answers without seeing the underlying problem shared by both parties.

  16. Interesting discussion!

  17. Alabama John says:

    Clint,
    I think He in His wisdom did for the post you just made!

  18. Skip says:

    Hallelujah, The gospel is way deeper and broader than your baptism scriptures. We have a whole lifetime of learning and growing.

  19. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Ryan,

    You sent me to doing some research. “Prevenient grace” is a term coined by Augustine. It refers to grace received, via the Spirit, to allow someone to accept the gospel. The Calvinist version of prevenient grace is irresistible grace. Jacob Arminius (and John Wesley) accepted that the Spirit touched the hearts of those who hear the gospel preached to allow them to accept the gospel, but not just the elect, and those touched by the Spirit have free will to accept or reject the gospel. This “free will” is in fact a gift from God — a grace — and not inherent in human nature, which is too corrupt to accept the gospel without God’s help. Thus, salvation remains a gift from God so that even the ability to choose is God-given.

    The classic proof text is —

    (Act 16:14 ESV) 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

    (Act 16:14 NET) A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, a God-fearing woman, listened to us. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying.

    Contrary to Church of Christ tract rack theology, the Lord didn’t work exclusively through the preaching of the word. The grammar clearly says that God himself did something beyond the preaching.

    I’m no Calvinist, but I do think it’s likely that Arminius is right that hearts must be opened by the Spirit, that is, the Spirit must free us to have “free will.” It makes God the initiator of our salvation and shows him to be concerned that we respond — so much so that he opens our hearts to allow us to respond.

    Hence, Calvinists are right to be concerned with the depravity of man. The solution, however, isn’t irresistible grace; it’s as Arminius taught, in my opinion. But it’s not a question I’ve spent much time on because it’s not a question that the NT focuses on. I think if we get caught up refereeing between Calvin and Arminius we find ourselves dealing with 16th Century questions and answers, whereas it’s so much more profitable to delve into First Century questions and answers, because the NT was written to address those very questions. That is, I’m disinclined to let Augustine, Calvin, or Arminius tell me the questions to ask. Does that make sense?

  20. Royce ogle says:

    God made a choice that through Peter Cornelius and his house would both hear the gospel and believe it. (Acts 15:7,8) an exception? What of Saul, the disciples, and others? And what about Romans 8:28-30? Just as God grants repentance so he makes it so a sinner can believe/faith God.

  21. hallelujah says:

    A lifetime of learning does not undo what Jesus said as a fundamental promise to mankind. It seems over-learning can be as unwelcomed as under-learning.

  22. hist0ryguy says:

    Jay,
    I heard you say “Classic Arminianism” and had to stop in since I am one. Prevenient grace is described differently but the core principle is that God graciously enables us to choose or reject him, which is foreknown and personal. I agree most COC are semi-pelagian, some fully. JMH was investigating the issue with A Campbell’s thought and I hope he will write a paper on it one day. I think you captured the context in which the SCM was birthed. Sometimes, I forget about several leaders who departed from the SCM to embrace Quaker and communal societies which garnered the attention of SCM leaders for a short period. A balance of the Spirit needed in the COC, indeed.

  23. Price says:

    History Guy !! Hope you are doing well…

  24. Doug says:

    Is it possible that the Church of Christ’s dismissive attitude of an indwelling Holy Spirit which is working with a believers spirit is responsible for the combative and arrogant church spirit than many associate with the Church of Christ? I was listening to Chris Tomlin et al’s song “Lay me Down” and the short bridge of the song says “it will be my joy to say, Your will… Your way”. I think it may be very hard for anyone to joyfully yield their will to another without some very powerful help. Personally, I believe the Holy Spirit is the source of that help. Operating a Church based on People’s will rather than God’s will certainly isn’t a prescription for a Godly church. It may have some markings of a Godly church but the foundation is rotten and weak because the peoples spirit is rotten and weak. It seems to me that most churches are based on a collection of people’s wills and the Church of Christ even more so. So much so that they have forgotten the history of the People’s will wars and remember only the rules and regulations that were the result of the war of the wills. Christians should be the most joyful people in the world. Does that describe the typical Church of Christ member who is at war with the crosstown Church of Christ and everyone else?

  25. R.J. says:

    I think that the Doctrine of Total Depravity is flawed in that we did not inherit Adam’s sin but rather through nurture we degenerated into sin from our youth. I think that the “Total” in depravity is misleading since it implies man is only malicious all the time.

    Some go to Genesis 6 in support but that was in reference to Noah’s generation which was exceedingly wicked(as the film just released graphically portrays)! They should rather go to Genesis 8:21. I am in no way denying that man is degenerated and tainted with sin and that only the grace of God(through genuine faith as opposed to works) can save him from that condition he has wrought. But I am rejecting the doctrine of being born in sin and that man is so degenerated that he is incapable of doing any good or have good intentions in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

    Man in his fallen state still bears the image deo however faint that may be.

  26. Ray Downen says:

    Any doctrine which contradicts Acts 2:38 seems iffy to me. Peter and the other apostles that day preached about Jesus. Many heard. 3,000 (approximately I’m supposing, rather than an exact count) believed and obeyed what Peter said the gospel requires. The Spirit was active indeed. In the preaching. I don’t for an instant believe the Spirit picked out who should believe and who should NOT believe. The idea of God causing some to believe and others to NOT believe just doesn’t harmonize with the scriptures which call for us to tell ALL and to baptize those who DO believe and say so. The Spirit is God’s gift to those who DO believe and obey. I don’t think we are taught that the Spirit decides who can believe and who cannot do so.

    Or if the Spirit DOES cause some to be receptive while others are prevented, who is responsible for the lost one remaining lost and heading for Hell? Shall we believe that the gospel is NOT for all? Is it possible that Luke’s way of describing Lydia does not mean that she would have not acted as she did unless the Spirit caused her to be receptive. Or does it merely mean that she already loved God (as evidenced by her sponsoring a prayer meeting in the absence of a “preacher”) God so of course was receptive to the truth when she heard it?

    Our job is to tell others about Jesus and to baptize those who DO believe. Are we doing our job?

  27. Skip says:

    Ray, How do you grapple with Romans 9:11-15. It seems to contradict your point.

  28. Alabama John says:

    If we do not meet all the supposed requirements because of ignorance, or believing false teachers but love God and our fellow man, we will be saved. So many label all that don’t believe just as they do as false teachers. That thinking and teaching in itself could be the majority of all of the false teachings in our midst.

    I’ve seen many that couldn’t meet the requirements as we have taught them and died but I still believe our God takes that into consideration when judging them. It is a “judgment” after all isn’t it.

    Jesus didn’t come to this earth to die to become a loser, but to be the biggest winner over sin and Satan ever. We must quit teaching Jesus loses.

    As I get older and see more and more die, I am convinced when we cross Jordan we will see far more on the other side rushing to meet us, wading the shallow water, reaching for our hand.

    We in the past have been far more discouraging than encouraging and have run far more off from the Lord than we have brought to Him and that is our shame we must bear and it assuredly will be considered in the ‘judgment”.

    That alone shows we are not near as smart as we like to think.

  29. Ray Downen says:

    Christians should be the most joyful people in the world because of what Jesus did for us. Our churches should be actively encouraging and blessing others. Some congregations are not enjoying serving Jesus, it seems.

  30. rich constant says:

    THOUGHT THIS MIGHT HELP
    HISTORY GUY

    http://dsntl8idqsx2o.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2010/03/jmh-diss-rev.pdf

    Academic

    My Dissertation

    The Theology of Grace in the Thought of Jacobus Arminius and Philip van Limborch: A Study in Seventeenth Century Dutch Arminianism (Westminster Theological Seminary, 1985).

    hist0ryguy says:
    March 29, 2014 at 2:03 am

    Jay,
    I heard you say “Classic Arminianism” and had to stop in since I am one. Prevenient grace is described differently but the core principle is that God graciously enables us to choose or reject him, which is foreknown and personal. I agree most COC are semi-pelagian, some fully. JMH was investigating the issue with A Campbell’s thought and I hope he will write a paper on it one day. I think

  31. Royce says:

    R J, Total Depravity does not mean a natural man is as wicked as he possibly can be all the time. It means that he is as alienated from God as he possibly can be. Some unsaved people are quite moral but still “ungodly”, the class of people Jesus died for by the way.

    Your statement “…we did not inherit Adam’s sin but rather through nurture we degenerated into sin from our youth” is one of the most odd ideas I have ever heard. “Through nurture we degenerated into sin..”, who nurtured us to be sinful? Was it our parents? Of course not. Anyone who has had children or been around children must agree that they must be taught to not be selfish, to tell the truth, to not take what is not theirs, and in general, to not be rebellious. Why is it that 100% of children must be taught to do good and do not need to be taught to do bad? It doesn’t take a genius to get the right answer.

    By one man (Adam) sin came into the world, and death by sin. Every human being will die, we got that condition because of Adam. And every human sins, we also go that courtesy of Adam too. But, the 2nd Adam (Jesus) had no human father and never once sinned. So, just using some common horse sense here, One person in the history of mankind who had no human father and that same on person never sinned even once. What a coincidence!

  32. Royce says:

    Ray said, ” In the preaching. I don’t for an instant believe the Spirit picked out who should believe and who should NOT believe. The idea of God causing some to believe and others to NOT believe just doesn’t harmonize with the scriptures”. Really? Acts 13:48, Galatians 1:15, John 17:2,6,9, John 6;65, and many other familiar passages stand in stark contrast to what you say in this regard.

  33. Price says:

    My wife was pointing out to me that the perfect One has a human mother… I just nodded and moved on…

  34. laymond says:

    Alabama John, said “So many label all that don’t believe just as they do as false teachers.”

    Question John, who do you label as a false teacher, one who teaches a falsehood unknowingly or do they have to know it is false before they are a false teacher.

  35. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    The verses that you quoted while in context do not prove your intended position. The verses near them state clearly that all of those individuals had a choice to believe or not believe.

  36. Larry Cheek says:

    Laymond,
    The answer you are looking for is “FOUND ONLY” in the following.
    (2 Pet 2:1 KJV) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

    (2 Pet 2:1 NIV) But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.

    (2 Pet 2:1 NRSV) But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.

    Any one who labels a teacher as “FALSE” using any other than this basis from scripture is not applying God’s label, they are using their own.

    There are false prophets, false apostles, false brothers and sisters, false witnesses, false messiahs. But this is the only false teacher, notice what he is teaching.

  37. Royce says:

    You evidently didn’t read the verses Larry. However, in the case of Paul, or Saul. He chose to follow the religion of his fathers for years, persecuting believers in Jesus, but when it was time, God fulfilled his predetermined purpose for Paul. The passages in John of course teach exactly what they say.

    Wouldn’t it be odd for God to plan to reconcile sinners to himself even before there was any sins and then after thousands of years of human history leave the whole scheme of redemption entirely to man? It’s too silly to even consider.

  38. Royce says:

    ” The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.” Acts 15:6-9

    Notice the phrase, “God made a CHOICE among you, that by my mouth (Peter’s..) the Gentiles should HEAR the word of the gospel and BELIEVE.” They did hear Peter’s preaching about Jesus and they did believe just as God decided they would. Now Larry, I am not taking anything out of context here am I? The words are as plain as the nose on your face. You either believe what the Bible says here or you don’t. Bible words, New Testament words, like “chosen”, “elect”, “foreknown”, and others mean something. When these difficult passages come up the way I see it you have 3 choices as to what to do with them. 1. Ignore them. This is the most popular option by far. 2. Try to explain them away. This is to try to pour in meaning the original writer never intended. This is also a popular option. 3. Believe them. This requires that we study all the more purposefully so that we can understand what God is saying to us. Both God’s choosing and man’s free will are in the Bible and both are true. I, nor you, have the option of choosing which parts of the Word of God we will believe. It is to be taken as a whole as much as possible.

    An example of this is in Peter’s sermon in Acts 2. On the one hand Peter accused the hearers of murdering Jesus. They did and what he said was true. They decided to murder Jesus, no doubt about it! But, alongside that truth is the fact that God planned the whole thing! God orchistrated the killing of Jesus, he planned it as a “definite plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:22). We know from other passages that it was planned before the foundation of the world even! We don’t need to decide if the murderers of Jesus had “free will” or if God predetermined they would commit the crime, both are true! Unless a man can grasp the concept that many things in the Bible seem to be contrary but in truth are not, we will never discover the truth God has for us. Let God be true and every man a liar should be our stand.

  39. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    I definitely did read the verses and the context surrounding them, which lead me to address your comment.
    Read this embedded within your quoted scriptures and explain that they did not have a choice to believe or not, verse 8 identifies they accepted words from God that Jesus gave them.

    (John 17:2 NIV) For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.
    All of the other references contain similar language.

  40. Royce says:

    John 17:6 ““I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.”

    Of course they believed the Word. They were the Father’s chosen given to Jesus. The language is very clear. I never have said that those who are chosen do not believe. That would be silly. And I have never hinted that we should not preach the good news about Jesus to everyone just as commanded. But, not everyone will believe the message, not all are appointed to life, not all are granted repentance, not all are drawn by the Father.

    In short, God is fully in charge of his gift of salvation. I am not and you are not. He is God, I am Royce. It should come as no great shock to us that God chooses. He chose the nation of Israel didn’t he? He chose prophets, sets up kings and takes them down, He is really, really in charge.

  41. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    In your second comment you are identifying that the message to the Gentiles was a choice of God. This is true, but to identify that God chose individuals to perform that task or to believe without them having a choice in obeying that action is not what is being displayed in these scriptures, that concept is not being addressed. God has never forced anyone to believe him or to obey him, he has rendered judgement on many who refused to obey or believe, but all have had a choice including you.

  42. Larry Cheek says:

    Royce,
    I am seeing that you may have given the wrong impression in your comment to Ray. Read it again.
    “Ray said, ” In the preaching. I don’t for an instant believe the Spirit picked out who should believe and who should NOT believe. The idea of God causing some to believe and others to NOT believe just doesn’t harmonize with the scriptures”. Really? Acts 13:48, Galatians 1:15, John 17:2,6,9, John 6;65, and many other familiar passages stand in stark contrast to what you say in this regard.”
    Your later comments are presenting a different concept than you presented here.

  43. Price says:

    Free will discussions always take me back in thought to Jonah.

  44. R.J. says:

    I think we are forgetting that God is beyond the space/time continuum.

    We did not inherit Adam’s sin but his curse. Through his influence, we’ve learned how to stray(as they say “like father like son”). You see, until one reaches the age of reason(which is different for each and every person), they have no sin(some don’t even reach it). By choice each of us have nurtured sin in our hearts. Thus by habit every sane individual has become children of wrath(deserving of punishment) according to Ephesians 2.

    It’s not something we’re born with but have acquired through environmental and/or personal upbringing. We are guilty because we Chose to do wrong. Our God is just and will not condemn a baby nor a mental handicap to die in Gehenna!

  45. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Royce,

    Sorry for butting in, but I think choice 3 requires some refinement.

    the way I see it you have 3 choices as to what to do with them. 1. Ignore them. This is the most popular option by far. 2. Try to explain them away. This is to try to pour in meaning the original writer never intended. This is also a popular option. 3. Believe them.

    I think “believe them” is entirely true but not very helpful. The need for careful exegesis remains. And these verses need to be exegeted in light of the totality of scripture, not to fit anyone’s theories.

    For example, NT references to “election” should use “election” in way that fits with OT usage absent evidence to the contrary. Israel was God’s elect nation, but not all of Israel was saved. Consider —

    (2Pe 1:10 NET) Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin.

    Peter tells us how we can, by “effort” make our “calling and election” become “sure.” Obviously, if we don’t make the effort, our election remains unsure — which makes perfect sense if he’s using “election” in its OT sense, applied to the church.

    Since the meaning of “election” in the OT is clear and is a corporate election from which certain individual might fall, the burden is on those seeking a dramatically changed definition to show that Paul intended to be understood in a way foreign to scripture (that is, the OT, which was the only scripture extant when he began his work).

    So, yes, we should absolutely believe the text, but we should also carefully exegete in light of how the words would have been understood by Peter’s or Paul’s or Jesus’ audience. And people steeped in the OT scriptures would have heard “calling” and “election” in OT terms.

  46. Alabama John says:

    My friend who is a church of God preacher uses Acts 2:38 almost as much as we do, but their emphasis is believing and receiving the Holy Ghost instead of baptism. On his writings and letterhead, baptism is left out to even more stress the emphasis on receiving the Holy Ghost.

    The gift is also left out as well, so, many see that verse differently from us.

  47. Royce Ogle says:

    RJ, I nor anyone else has hinted that infants are guilty before God.

    Just so we have our quotes right…

    ” among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by NATURE children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” Ephesians 2:3

    The reason everyone sins is it is our “nature” to sin. It’s our natural bent. Of course we are guilty when we do wrong on purpose but not one person save Jesus has always chosen to do the right thing every time. Why?

  48. Alabama John says:

    laymond,

    Sorry I missed your question.

    I see the name false teacher as having two sides.

    One teaches a false doctrine or interpretation out of ignorance but with honorable intentions as all of us are bound to be doing. The other false teacher is one who is teaching a falsehood knowing it is false so that in itself makes that one not a real teacher, but a false one.

    Lets face it, we all can’t be right.

  49. Royce says:

    I don’t disagree in the least Jay. You are correct. I don’t hold to Perseverance of the Saints. I do hold to Perseverance of the Holy Spirit. The message of 1st John, much of Hebrews, and Peter 1 and 2 is to make your election and calling sure. Those who don’t do that are not elect are they?

    The principal way we can know if or not we are “in the faith” (saved) is the way we live. Never perfectly so, but always in the right direction, walking in the light, loving God, loving others, and doing the works God had planned for us to do before we were. (Ephesians 2:10.

    I would caution anyone who makes a stringent comparison of the people Israel and the church, the Lord’s body. Not everyone was genuine in the nation. There is quite a difference in the body of Christ. All of them and each of them are true children of God. We can have a discussion about how they got there and if they will stay there but those there do not include even one impostor. Our churches are a reflection on earth of that spiritual reality, the universal body of Christ, but not a duplicate by far. I suppose that most all visible churches have some who are professors and not possessors, those whose lives betray their lips.

    “28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30) In this passage the people referred to as “those” is not some generic group, “those” are individual people God has called to himself. In John 17:20-24 Jesus also mentions “those” and “they” but he also says “that they all…” “All” is a tall word!

    20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:20-24)

    Now this is the Jesus who taught his followers how to get their prayers answered. Wouldn’t it be very odd that the God-man couldn’t get his answered? Reading this great prayer over many, many years gives me great hope. I know me, and know something of my shortcomings. But I also know Christ and I am confident that one golden daybreak I will see his glory with my own eyes because he prayed that I would.

  50. Alabama John says:

    Laymond,

    One is teaching falsely out of ignorance but a good sincere person like us on here who cannot all be teaching it all just right. We all have made mistakes and will continue to do so. We need and can get forgiveness.

    The other is a teacher of false doctrine knowing its wrong and that is a false teacher as that person is not a real teacher.

    Two different uses of the word false.

  51. hallelujah says:

    It is recommend for writers here to review the recent article at:

    http://oneinjesus.info/2014/04/what-must-be-preserved-of-the-churches-of-christ-unity/#comment-47981

  52. Ray Downen says:

    Tim, in regards to the Spirit and prayer. Do you invoke the name of Jesus in your prayers, if so how do you explain not all your prayers are answered .
    Jhn 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
    Jhn 14:14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

    Tim, could it be that Jesus just misstated what he intended to say, or is it possible that we (I mean you) misunderstood to whom Jesus was speaking.

    We do well to notice that John chapters 13-16 are spoken ONLY to the apostles. Jesus was not making promises to anyone in John 14 other than the apostles! We who teach about Jesus should pay close attention to who is speaking in any passage, to whom they are speaking, and we should refuse to apply generally what is promised to particular persons. Only a very few were called to serve Jesus as His apostles. No apostles are alive on earth today. Jesus does not promise to do everything WE ask Him to do.

  53. Royce Ogle says:

    Do you apply that standard to Matthew 28 when Jesus gave what we call the Great Commission?
    What about your favorite text Acts 2:38. Was Peter talking to you? Of course he was not.

    Your subjective application of what scripture applies and what does not is suspect.

  54. Ray Downen says:

    Royce writes

    March 29, 2014 at 8:32 pm — Ray said, ” In the preaching. I don’t for an instant believe the Spirit picked out who should believe and who should NOT believe. The idea of God causing some to believe and others to NOT believe just doesn’t harmonize with the scriptures”. Really? Acts 13:48, Galatians 1:15, John 17:2,6,9, John 6;65, and many other familiar passages stand in stark contrast to what you say in this regard.

    Logic calls for us to see it reasonable that Jesus would not waste breath and time by saying His people should do what makes no sense. If God is going to save people who never hear the gospel, we have no reason to obey the great commission. If people don’t need to HEAR the gospel in order to be saved, we are doing no favor by obeying Jesus and carrying the gospel everywhere. I assert that God does NOT select those who will be saved, and that we are to tell ALL about Jesus while knowing that only some of our hearers will believe us. In describing conversions, Luke doesn’t mention that it takes special action by God to cause hearers to believe and be saved.

    As for Lydia, God did cause her to choose to open her home to the evangelists. Royce speaks of John 17, the intercessory prayer of Jesus FOR HIS APOSTLES. Verses 2, 6, and 9 of John 17 refer to the apostles and no one else. At verse 20, Jesus prays for all others, that we might be united in our love and service for Him. As for Galatians 1,

    11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[c] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,[d] and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to[e] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[f] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

    Paul is claiming that God had “set him apart before he was born,” and I don’t know how Paul could know that. We believe it because Paul said it, but that doesn’t mean we are to believe in predestination.

    If God decides our destiny before we’re born, why would Jesus instruct that we who love Him are to carry word about Him everywhere in the world and baptize “those who believe”? If God picks out who will be saved, surely the sacrifices we are called to make to obey the “great commission” are unnecessary. Luke reports in 13:48

    48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

    God could save people without them having to hear the gospel. So is Luke testifying that God only saves those who DO hear and who “were appointed to eternal life” and believed?

    I’m sure that we are called to do as Jesus commands with results which will please Him because we did what we knew He wanted US to do. We are to tell others about Jesus and His offer of eternal life. We are to LOVE as Jesus loved. We are to LIVE as Jesus lived. Would we be quick to serve sacrificially if we felt there was really no need for us to do so since God had already picked out who would be saved? We are told to tell others about Jesus and to show by our lives that Jesus loves us all. But if God has already saved the people to whom we carry the message, why bother? Paul looked back and felt that God had selected him extremely early to become a servant of Jesus. Was he right?

  55. Ray Downen says:

    Royce comments,

    What about your favorite text Acts 2:38. Was Peter talking to you? Of course he was not.

    Peter was speaking to a great crowd, out of whom 3,000 were baptized into Christ. I do not claim he was speaking to me. I wasn’t there. But I’m confident that the promise Peter made to THEM applies equally to every hearer today. Those who hear and obey the gospel call will surely be saved. What Peter said on that day is no less true today.

  56. Ray wrote: “Any doctrine which contradicts Acts 2:38 seems iffy to me. Peter and the other apostles that day preached about Jesus. Many heard. 3,000 (approximately I’m supposing, rather than an exact count) believed and obeyed….”

    Any doctrine that contradicts any passage (correctly understood in its context – both immediate & the overall context of Gods’ Word – and applied) is “iffy.” But, Ray, I’m surprised at your next statement.about the 3,000 being an approximation. Are you questioning the historicity of Luke here? Maybe Paul also gave an approximation in Ephesians 4:5 when he said “there is…one baptism…” After all, Jesus had spoken to his disciples saying they would experience drinking the cup he was to drink and the baptism with which he was being baptized. Perhaps there are two baptisms after all.

  57. Ray said above, “Jesus was not making promises to anyone in John 14 other than the apostles!”

    Really?

    What about John 14:1-6 where he spoke of “many mansions,” of going “to prepare a place for you,” and of being “the way, the truth, and the life.”

    Are these things spoken only to the apostles?

  58. Royce says:

    .Ray asks if we should believe Paul. I ask should we believe Ray? Paul was appointed as an Apostle and preacher by none other than Jesus himself and Ray doubts his credibility. Odd for someone who supposedly is a great teacher and constantly recommends his own studies to others. I don’t read studies by men who don’t believe the Bible.

  59. laymond says:

    Jerry, said “Are these things spoken only to the apostles?” Jerry, do you know of anyone else that was there ?

  60. laymond says:

    Ray, if God had predestined those who would , and those who would not be saved, can Royce tell us what purpose the death of God’s son, and the message his son brought served, was this all show?

  61. Laymond, do you seriously believe that ‘you’ in John 14:1-3 means only those who were present?

    Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.

    Can you seriously believe this was said only for the benefit of the twelve? If so, I feel sorry for you.

  62. Royce Ogle says:

    God is omniscient, which is to understand he knows everything. He is unlimited in every way, even in loving.

    I’ll take the biblical version of God and his pre-creation planned redemption of undeserving sinners to bring glory to himself. You are welcome to your little god who is limited by the whims of his creatures

  63. laymond says:

    .

    Royce, are you saying you believe in more than one God.
    I really don’t believe God should be formed around each belief, each belief should be formed around God.
    Royce said; “I’ll take the biblical version of God” but he don’t, Royce worships the Nicene Creed’s version. Until he shows me that version in the bible, I will have doubts about what Royce says.
    .

  64. laymond says:

    Jerry, chap 14, is not a stand alone book, when we hold 14 in context with 13 we get a truer picture of that gathering.
    Jhn 13:33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
    Jhn 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
    Jhn 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
    Jhn 13:37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
    Jhn 13:38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.
    Jerry do you think chap 13 applies to you and me as well as you seem to think 14 does. 14 is just a continuation of 13. Do you think Jesus said Jerry, you should lay down your life for Laymond’s sake. Or even someone you seem to like and share a belief with like Jay, or Royce.
    Jerry I doubt you believe that applies to you, I think you believe just certain things Jesus said that day applies to you. If you feel so strongly about some, how come you don’t adhere to all he said.
    How come you just accept the gifts he promised the apostles, and not the hard times.?

  65. Royce says:

    Let’s see…The Nicene Creed or Watchtower magazine? It isn’t a difficult choice.

  66. laymond says:

    Royce, how about just sticking with the one described in the bible, that is what the Witnesses do.
    And no, just because I am convinced that the JW’s are right on a few things, doesn’t make me a member. I don’t know of any religious organization that I disagree with on everything. If they use the bible as proof, I can’t object to it being the truth. And no matter what is said about the JWs they use the bible quite often as proof of what they say. Any version you prefer.

  67. When we try to read narratives in scripture as though they were law, we run into such difficulties as trying to figure out what is applicable to whom. We find ourselves judging jurisdictions and weighing precedent and in so doing we make the scripture harder to understand than it really is. And the reason is that we feel obligated to form legal arguments to buttress our understanding of that which is not law. If we can’t prove it, how can we make someone else believe that it’s true?

    It’s like trying to pick up a baseball with a baseball bat. A toddler can pick up a baseball, but this becomes an insurmountable task for the greatest athlete who insists on using the wrong tool. But we simply can’t put it down. The bat is all we know. We have developed entire courses on how our bat is better than the bats those other people are using. We have been pushing the ball around so long that we are now convinced that this actually constitutes picking it up.

    Jesus’ discourse in John 14-16 reaches us at several levels, rather than being a series of verses which are individually either “to us” or “NOT to us”. We are eavesdropping on a conversation that mixes current dynamics (“Jesus is leaving us! What will we do?”) with universal realities (“Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”) And in some places these come together (“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me…”) The legal thinker tries to separate all these phrases into a usable contractual framework so we know what God is doing for whom and what whom owes to God and what the required delivery dates will be. The simple reader, OTOH, takes in the whole scene and is able to draw incredible amounts of revelation from it, and can even go back later and receive things from Jesus’ words that he did not see the last time.

  68. Ray Downen says:

    Charles suggests that it doesn’t matter to whom anything is promised. It applies however we want to apply it. He writes

    When we try to read narratives in scripture as though they were law, we run into such difficulties as trying to figure out what is applicable to whom. We find ourselves judging jurisdictions and weighing precedent and in so doing we make the scripture harder to understand than it really is. And the reason is that we feel obligated to form legal arguments to buttress our understanding of that which is not law. If we can’t prove it, how can we make someone else believe that it’s true?

    But we who love Jesus are not reading about Him as if every record is law, which is what I hear Charles saying. But the promises made to the apostles are NOT for everyone. Luke was there. He reports that miracles were performed BY THE APOSTLES. He reports that the promise of baptism in the Spirit was made TO THE APOSTLES and was fulfilled TO THE APOSTLES. And some people insist that everyone should and could receive what was promised to ONLY THE APOSTLES. We simply call for common sense in understanding what is commanded for US and commanded to be done by US and not imagine we are apostles.

    Any observer will notice that Christians (followers of the Way) do NOT agree on everything. Yet some insist that all will be led into all truth somehow by the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit promised to every obedience believer (those who turn to Jesus as Lord and are baptized) is not a baptism in the Spirit. The apostle Paul makes clear that in the Christian Way there ls only ONE God the Father, and only one LORD JESUS and only one church founded and led by Him, and ONLY ONE BAPTISM. Since Jesus commanded water baptism, it should be clear to every believer what the ONE BAPTISM is. It’s the baptism commanded by JESUS.

    He did not say HE would baptize each believer. He commands that WE are to baptize each new believer. Any talk about Christians experiencing a second baptism is contrary to clear apostolic teaching. Those who feel they have been baptized BY JESUS (in His Holy Spirit) surely do not think they also need to be baptized as Jesus commanded. Yet receiving the promised GIFT of the Spirit follows being baptized as JESUS commanded. The gift of the Spirit promised to new Christians who have been baptized as Jesus commanded is not a baptism in the Spirit. It’s merely the Spirit coming to live within us. It gives us no powers we didn’t already get from Jesus. It’s up to US to add to our faith, says Peter. Growing in Christ happens as we follow HIM every day.

    It matters greatly to whom a promise is given. Wedding vows are exchanged between a man and a woman. Each promise to be faithful to the other. If they are faithful, they kept their promise. If they leave the marriage and choose to live with someone else, they are not being faithful. It surely does matter to whom a promise is made. This is not making daily life into law-keeping. It’s just recognizing truth as it exists. Jesus promised particular things to His apostles. He kept His promises. We are not His apostles. The promises do not apply to us.

  69. Ray Downen says:

    Jerry Starling writes,

    Laymond, do you seriously believe that ‘you’ in John 14:1-3 means only those who were present?

    Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.

    Can you seriously believe this was said only for the benefit of the twelve? If so, I feel sorry for you.

    John makes clear this was not said in a public discourse. It was spoken only to the apostles. It obviously applies to everyone, but it was NOT spoken to everyone. We do not do well to assume that everything Jesus said to the apostles applies to everyone because SOME of what He said to the apostles applies to everyone.

  70. Ray Downen says:

    Skip writes, “Ray, How do you grapple with Romans 9:11-15. It seems to contradict your point.” I saved your comment but can’t find it now to know what my point in the discussion is.

    Romans 9:11-15
    English Standard Version (ESV)
    11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

    God makes clear that He is God. The good news about Jesus is to be taken to every creature.
    ALL who believe are welcome to obey the gospel and be saved. I don’t believe God prevents particular individuals from hearing and obeying the gospel. I do believe and observe that some CHOOSE to not listen and to not obey the gospel. We realize that God knows who will listen and obey and who will not. That He deliberately prevents some from believing may be implied in Romans 9:11-15. How this agrees with God being a God of love I’m not sure.

    It is stated correctly that God so loved “the world” that He gave His unique Son that whoever believes in Him shall be saved. To my thinking, whosoever includes both Jacob and Esau. But it’s clear that Jacob (Israel) received God’s blessings and Esau did not. Did things change after Calvary? Or is it true that God causes some to not believe the gospel? Regardless of how that question is answered, we are told to GO and TELL and INVITE and BAPTIZE those who believe.

  71. Ray Downen says:

    Alabama says “If we do not meet all the supposed requirements because of ignorance, or believing false teachers but love God and our fellow man, we will be saved. So many label all that don’t believe just as they do as false teachers. That thinking and teaching in itself could be the majority of all of the false teachings in our midst.

    I’ve seen many that couldn’t meet the requirements as we have taught them and died but I still believe our God takes that into consideration when judging them. It is a “judgment” after all isn’t it?”

    Yes, John. God will judge. We don’t get to set the standards or do the judging. God WILL judge and will save all who “obey the gospel.” He promises to do so. He will not judge according to what I believe or what you believe. He will judge according to what HE believes and says is true. And He says that none will be saved who are not saved by Jesus. Jesus explains what sinners must do in order to be saved by Him. Those who listen to and believe the gospel and obey the gospel surely WILL be saved. We are told to carry this good news everywhere we go in the world. It’s promised that those who believe the gospel and obey it surely will be saved. We can think others are saved in some other way than by obeying the gospel. God is the judge.

  72. Ray insists, repeatedly, “But the promises made to the apostles are NOT for everyone. Luke was there.”

    First of all, Ray, this is all quite vague. Since you have the answer as to who was promised what, I do not understand why you do not simply provide a list, with proofs. Instead, we get continuing specific claims with no specific proofs. “I go to prepare a place for you…” For us? Or not? Please show us reasoning that starts with Jesus and not with your observations. “He (The Holy Spirit) will take that which is mine and make it known to you.” Known to whom? To the Eleven? To Matthias? To Paul? To Luke or Mark or the unknown writer of Hebrews? Evidence, please. From scripture, if you would, not from centuries-after-the-fact observations.

    Sorry, Ray, but repetition is not evidence. Neither is the absence of evidence a form of evidence. There is no report– not one– that Thaddeus or Andrew or Simon Zealotes performed miracles. No mention of it at all. So how can you include them as miracle workers while excluding Stephen, whose signs and wonders ARE recorded? What about the seventy-two casting out demons and healing the sick? You left them out as well. Your reasoning leaks like a sieve.

    Inferred adjectives are not evidence. Neither is unsupported extrapolation. Both errors appear in the following: Luke records that Simon saw Peter and John laying hands on people to receive the Holy Spirit. From this, you extrapolate the following conclusion: All the apostles and only the apostles, could perform miracles. (The word “apostles” here is given to mean the Twelve, less Judas, plus Matthias and Paul.) This is a HUGE leap from the initial report to your conclusions. In fact, there is very little commonality between what Simon saw and what you say that his observation means. And last, you offer scripture scraps without any connective tissue of reasoning and treat is as a presentation of truth. You are unloading 700 pounds of beef and trying to convince us that it is a cow.

    You are giving us opinions offered as fact, without enough biblical evidence to make them even readily supportable opinions. The flaw here is not with you, nor your intentions. It is the legal approach you continue to take to scripture and how using that approach fails time and time again to reconcile the text with the conclusions being drawn from it. You continue to try to pick up the baseball with the bat and appear to think that smacking it more often makes it work better.

    Oh, and misrepresenting my position does not add to your argument. I never suggested that it does not matter to whom a promise is given. Perhaps this is another case (as with Simon) of quoting one thing and then arguing as if something entirely different was said. I suggested that some are having great difficulty proving their own rulings on that issue, because of the weaknesses of reason and scripture you continue to illustrate.

  73. Ray Downen says:

    I’ve supposed I could be accurately called an Arminian since that’s opposed to Calvinism. It’s obvious from this article by John Mark Hicks that Arminius wasn’t right on conversion any more than Calvin was! Acts 2 shows how conversion occurs. It’s by hearing about Jesus, believing in Jesus and obeying the gospel call to repent and be baptized. All this dispute about differing kinds of grace is foolish. God graciously offers salvation through obeying the gospel of Jesus. Period. Anyone can obey if they can “hear” the gospel by oral or written teaching/preaching.

  74. Jaohn 5:24 describes people who have eternal life, but misses part of Ray’s program.

  75. Ray Downen says:

    Royce thinks the great commission, given only to the apostles, might not apply to us who learned from those who learned from the apostles. I note that in Acts 8:4 the Christians who were forced out of Jerusalem by persecution thought it applied to THEM, and they were not rebuked by the apostles, so far as the record goes. And as for Acts 2:38, it clearly should apply to every believing seeker through the ages. It wasn’t just for those who asked the question that day.

    But promises of being led into all truth and being reminded of what Jesus had said obviously were given to ONLY the apostles. Anyone can see that Christians today have vastly differing ideas about truth and about the meaning of what Jesus taught. But it was important that the church leaders of that period should not contradict one another. The promise of being led into all truth was very obviously not given to more than the apostles.

    We do well to follow instructions which apply to us and to NOT claim promises which were not made to us.

  76. ONLY the apostles, Ray? On another thread you seem to ascribe infallibility of teaching to Mark and Luke for their writings. Were they inspired in their writings by the Holy Spirit, or by someone else, or not inspired at all? Those are the only choices there are.

  77. Bob Schilling says:

    Let’s move on guys, this horse has been beaten quite enough and your noew into circular arguments.

  78. Skip says:

    Bob, We have beaten many other horses on this website for far longer. It seems to be the nature of the beast. It is far easier to argue from a keyboard than in person.

  79. Skip says:

    Ray, Perhaps it is better to be a Calminian. There are valid scriptures to support the Calvanistic view and valid scriptures to support the Arminian view. All scripture is truth. It is we who have a hard time reconciling both perspectives because they seem contradictory. Thus, instead we like to take sides. For every Calvanistic point I can provide an Arminian counterpoint and for every Arminian point I can provide a valid Calvanistic counterpoint. To me the Calvanistic view is from God’s perspective and the Arminian view is from our perspective. Trust as if it all depends upon God. Work as if it all depends upon us.

  80. Royce Ogle says:

    Skip, I believe you summed it up well. There are extremes on both sides. But, both are Scriptural as you said. Neither Bible truth invalidates the other.

    Ray, do we have the same God as the one in the Old Testament? You know, the one who chose the people who would nightly serve him. The one who hardened some hearts and softened others. The God who was making choices about my future before the creation.

    I see a glaring difference between sovereign grace people and free will people. Calvinists try to reconcile the apparent differences found in the Bible believing both are true. Free will folks tend to just ignore dozens of passages that are troublesome to their point of view.

    No one will convince the other in blog comments. So, I’m not sure how helpful forum is. I appreciate Jays hard work and each of you who are honestly searching for truth. Most people are very fond of the truth they already have and are not interested in entertaining the possibility they could learn something.

  81. laymond says:

    1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

    It seems that Peter thought that only the Apostles, that Jesus sent to preach to the people were receipants of the “Holy Ghost”.

  82. Ray Downen says:

    Royce wonders if we serve the same God as did Moses and other Old Testament godly people. Yes, and no is the only possible answer. Jesus announced that HE now is head over both Heaven and earth, which indicates clearly that it is NOT God the Father who now does what the Father did in Old Testament times. If we believe Jesus, we’ll not be looking to the Father for things He did in Old Testament times.

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