Archive for April, 2011

Sudden death of David Wilkerson

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

By Spencer D Gear

David Wilkerson

My friend and Christian colleague, Aeron Morgan, posted this information on his website: [1]

Today, Thursday 28 April 2011, here in Australia we have received the sad news of the sudden and tragic death of our dear Brother David Wilkerson, a beloved, humble and faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. The following web-link will take you to a fuller report, put out so promptly by Charisma magazine, of the fatal accident.

This will be a tremendous shock and loss to our fellow believers at Times Square, but believe that God will graciously undertake for Pastor Carter Conlan as he now has the task of guiding the saints there through this hour of sorrow and immense loss. The added painful news is that Brother Wilkerson’s wife, Gwendolyn, was with him in the car and is in hospital with injuries which are reported to be critical.

I am sure that YOU will join the many thousands around the world in prayer for Sister Wilkerson and the family in their bereavement and that she will be fully recovered from her injuries. Pray also for the dear saints at Times Square Church, that God will comfort their saddened hearts, losing an outstanding champion for truth and holiness. We salute the memory of such a dedicated servant of Christ. We are the poorer for his passing, but we cannot question God’s goodness and wisdom, committing the things we don’t understand to HIM “who doeth all things well.” Many of us have been privileged to visit Times Square Church, tremendously impressed with what God has wrought there. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

The Pentecostal world in particular will miss such a needed voice for God in these days of compromise and worldliness, and that faithful prophetic call back to the “old paths” our brother was known for. May God visit us in this late hour prior to the coming of our Lord Jesus. David Wilkerson longed for such a move of God’s Holy Spirit, not only across his beloved America, but in the nations of our world at this troublesome time. Let’s be part of the remnant that will manifest something of the same godliness and passion as our dear brother, together bear something of the burden he shouldered for so long – for without question: IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD.

 

You can read further details on the Charisma magazine website, “David Wilkerson killed in car crash“. The Christian Broadcasting Network has also reported the tragedy in, “Rev. David Wilkerson killed in TX car crash”. Christianity Today reported the sad news in, “David Wilkerson killed in car crash“. Beliefnet reported that “Famed New York City street preacher, author David Wilkerson killed in car crash“.

This Associated Press (USA Today) news item, “Times Square church founder dies in Texas crash”, stated that David Wilkerson was not wearing a seat belt in the car that crashed, when the USA requires the wearing of seat belts:

Wilkerson was not wearing a seat-belt at the time of the crash, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. His wife, Gwendolyn, was also in the car and was wearing a seat-belt, Mange said. She was taken to a hospital, where she was in stable condition with cuts and bruises, Mange said.

I have a particular affinity with Teen Challenge as I was part of its training ministry in drug rehabilitation in Canberra, Australia, for a couple of years in the early 1990s and in the early 1970s I engaged in ministry from a Teen Challenge coffee shop with the needy on the streets of The Valley, Brisbane.

David Wilkerson will be remembered for his pioneering work in Christian drug rehabilitation that was described in his seminal publication, The Cross and the Switchblade. It story became the film, The Cross and the Switchblade, that starred Pat Boone as David Wilkerson.

(image courtesy beliefnet)

Here is what he wrote in his very last blog, “David Wilkerson Today” of 27 April 2011, the very day he died:

To believe when all means fail is exceedingly pleasing to God and is most acceptable. Jesus said to Thomas, “You have believed because you have seen, but blessed are those that do believe and have not seen” (John 20:29).

Blessed are those who believe when there is no evidence of an answer to prayer—who trust beyond hope when all means have failed.

Someone has come to the place of hopelessness—the end of hope—the end of all means. A loved one is facing death and doctors give no hope. Death seems inevitable. Hope is gone. The miracle prayed for is not happening.

That is when Satan’s hordes come to attack your mind with fear, anger, overwhelming questions: “Where is your God now? You prayed until you had no tears left. You fasted. You stood on promises. You trusted.”

Blasphemous thoughts will be injected into your mind: “Prayer failed. Faith failed. Don’t quit on God—just do not trust him anymore. It doesn’t pay!”

Even questioning God’s existence will be injected into your mind. These have been the devices of Satan for centuries. Some of the godliest men and women who ever lived were under such demonic attacks.

To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights—and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, “I am with you. I cannot tell you why right now, but one day it will all make sense. You will see it was all part of my plan. It was no accident. It was no failure on your part. Hold fast. Let me embrace you in your hour of pain.”

Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail—his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world (my emphasis).

Australian Christian cultural apologist, Bill Muehlenberg, has written this fitting tribute to David Wilkerson, “David Wilkerson RIP”.

Messages from David Wilkerson

1.   A Call to Anguish, by David Wilkerson

23 August 2009

This message is a partially transcribed excerpt from an original message spoken by David Wilkerson.  The full message is titled: “A Call to Anguish.”  and can be downloaded from www.sermonindex.net.”

And I look at the whole religious scene today and all I see are the inventions and ministries of man and flesh.  It’s mostly powerless.  It has no impact on the world.  And I see more of the world coming into the church and impacting the church, rather than the church impacting the world.  I see the music taking over the house of God.  I see entertainment taking over the house of God.  An obsession with entertainment in God’s house.  A hatred of correction and a hatred of reproof.  Nobody wants to hear it any more.  Whatever happened to anguish in the house of God?

Whatever happened to anguish in the ministry? It’s a word you don’t hear in this pampered age.  You don’t hear it.  Anguish means extreme pain and distress.  The emotions so stirred that it becomes painful.  Acute deeply felt inner pain because of conditions about you, in you, or around you.  Anguish.  Deep pain.  Deep sorrow.  The agony of God’s heart.

We’ve held on to our religious rhetoric and our revival talk but we’ve become so passive.  All true passion is born out of anguish.  All true passion for Christ comes out of a baptism of anguish.  You search the scripture and you’ll find that when God determined to recover a ruined situation… He would share His own anguish for what God saw happening to His church and to His people.  And He would find a praying man and take that man and literally baptize him in anguish.  You find it in the book of Nehemiah.  Jerusalem is in ruins.  How is God going to deal with this?  How is God going to restore the ruin?  Now folks, look at me… Nehemiah was not a preacher, he was a career man.  But this was a praying man.

And God found a man who would not just have a flash of emotion.  Not just some great sudden burst of concern and then let it die.  He said: “No.  I broke down and I wept and I mourned and I fasted.  And then I began to pray night and day.  Why didn’t these other men… why didn’t they have an answer?  Why didn’t God use them in restoration?  Why didn’t they have a word?  Because there was no sign of anguish.  No weeping.  Not a word of prayer.  It’s all ruin.

Does it matter to you today? Does it matter to you at all that God’s spiritual Jerusalem, the church, is now married to the world?  That there is such a coldness sweeping the land?  Closer than that… does it matter about the Jerusalem that is in our own hearts?  The sign of ruin that’s slowly draining spiritual power and passion.  Blind to lukewarmness, blind to the mixture that’s creeping in.  That’s all the devil wants to do is to get the fight out of you and kill it.  So you won’t labor in prayers anymore, you won’t weep before God anymore.  You can sit and watch television and your family go to hell.

Let me ask  you… is what I just said convicting to you at all?  There is a great difference between anguish and concern. Concern is something that begins to interest you.  You take an interest in a project or a cause or a concern or a need.  And I want to tell you something.  I’ve learned over all my years… of 50 years of preaching.  If it is not born in anguish, if it had not been born of the Holy Spirit.  Where what you saw and heard of the ruin that drove you to your knees, took you down into a baptism of anguish where you began to pray and seek God.  I know now.  Oh my God do I know it.  Until I am in agony.  Until I have been anguished over it…  And all our projects, all our ministries, everything we do… Where are the Sunday school teachers that weep over kids they know are not hearing and are going to hell?

You see, a true prayer life begins at the place of anguish. You see, if you set your heart to pray, God’s going to come and start sharing His heart with you.  Your heart begins to cry out:  “Oh God, Your name is being blasphemed.  The Holy Spirit is being mocked.  The enemy is out trying to destroy the testimony of the Lord’s faithfulness and something has to be done.”

There is going to be no renewal, no revival, no awakening, until we are willing to let Him once again break us.  Folks, it’s getting late, and it’s getting serious.  Please don’t tell me… don’t tell me you’re  concerned when you’re spending  ours in front of internet or television.  Come on.  Lord, there are some that need to get to this alter and confess: “I am not what I was, I am not where I am supposed to be.  God I don’t have Your heart or Your burden.  I wanted it easy.  I just wanted to be happy.  But Lord, true joy comes out of anguish.”  There’s nothing of the flesh that will give you joy.  I don’t care how much money, I don’t care what kind of new house, there is absolutely nothing physical that can give you joy.  It’s only what is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when you obey and take on His heart.

Build the walls around your family. Build the walls around your own heart.  It will make you strong and impregnable against the enemy.  God, that’s what we desire.

This kind of statement gets near the heart of the passion of our late brother in Christ, David. May God so move upon us that His Holy Spirit so ignites our passion for the lost and unlovely that we will move in a ministry of compassion, but with the boldness of a Christ-infused passion.

2.   An Urgent Message

Saturday, March 7, 2009

AN URGENT MESSAGE

I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to send out an urgent message to all on our mailing list, and to friends and to bishops we have met all over the world.

AN EARTH-SHATTERING CALAMITY IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. IT IS GOING TO BE SO FRIGHTENING, WE ARE ALL GOING TO TREMBLE – EVEN THE GODLIEST AMONG US.

For ten years I have been warning about a thousand fires coming to New York City. It will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut. Major cities all across America will experience riots and blazing fires—such as we saw in Watts, Los Angeles, years ago.

There will be riots and fires in cities worldwide. There will be looting—including Times Square, New York City. What we are experiencing now is not a recession, not even a depression. We are under God’s wrath. In Psalm 11 it is written,

“If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (v. 3).

God is judging the raging sins of America and the nations. He is destroying the secular foundations.

The prophet Jeremiah pleaded with wicked Israel, “God is fashioning a calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh, turn back each of you from your evil way, and reform your ways and deeds. But they will say, It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart” (Jeremiah 18:11-12).

In Psalm 11:6, David warns, “Upon the wicked he will rain snares (coals of fire)…fire…burning wind…will be the portion of their cup.” Why? David answered, “Because the Lord is righteous” (v. 7). This is a righteous judgment—just as in the judgments of Sodom and in Noah’s generation.
WHAT SHALL THE RIGHTEOUS DO? WHAT ABOUT GOD’S PEOPLE?

First, I give you a practical word I received for my own direction. If possible lay in store a thirty-day supply of non-perishable food, toiletries and other essentials. In major cities, grocery stores are emptied in an hour at the sign of an impending disaster.

As for our spiritual reaction, we have but two options. This is outlined in Psalm 11. We “flee like a bird to a mountain.” Or, as David says, “He fixed his eyes on the Lord on his throne in heaven—his eyes beholding, his eyelids testing the sons of men” (v. 4). “In the Lord I take refuge” (v. 1).

I will say to my soul: No need to run…no need to hide. This is God’s righteous work. I will behold our Lord on his throne, with his eye of tender, loving kindness watching over every step I take—trusting that he will deliver his people even through floods, fires, calamities, tests, trials of all kinds.

Note: I do not know when these things will come to pass, but I know it is not far off. I have unburdened my soul to you. Do with the message as you choose.

God bless and keep you,

In Christ,

DAVID WILKERSON

The amazing thing about David Wilkerson and the people he inspired (I am one of them) was that he loved the unlovely and ministered at street level with them.

In the 1970s, I was on the streets of downtown Brisbane, running a coffee shop with some other workers, and ministering to the junkies and prostitutes. Why? David alerted me to the need and God moved upon my heart.

That’s an amazing statement he made on his blog, “David Wilkerson Today”, on the very day he entered the presence of the Lord.

Yes, like me, he was a frail man with failings. I wish he had not made that false prophesy about New York City in 2009. But have a guess what? Even with God’s Word before me in written form, I can make errors of interpretation as a fallible human being. The redeemed on this earth are not perfect. That time is still ahead of us in our elevation to glory.

Overall, I judge David Wilkerson to be a humble man of God with a vision that took effect in the lives of those who needed the Saviour.

3.  Message to the USA after September 11 attack

After the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City, David Wilkerson wrote, “The towers have fallen but we missed the message.

Part of that message reads:

Here Is the Message I Believe God Is Trumpeting in Our Calamities.

Deep in my spirit, I hear the Lord saying, “I’ve prospered you above all nations. Yet, for years you’ve persisted in worshipping idols of gold and silver. I’ve endured your shameless sensuality, your mockery of holy things, your shedding of innocent blood, your tireless efforts to remove me from your society. Now time is running out for you.

“I’ve sent you prophet after prophet, watchman after watchman. You’ve been warned again and again. Yet still you won’t open your eyes to your wicked ways. Now I’ve stricken you, in hopes of saving you. I want to heal your land, to destroy your enemies, to bring you back into my blessing. But you don’t have eyes to see it.”

If God wouldn’t spare other nations that have outlawed him, why would he spare America? He’ll judge us even as he judged Sodom, Rome, Greece and every other culture that has turned its back on him.

On “David Wilkerson Today”, David’s son, Gary Wilkerson, has written this tribute to his Dad:

Friday, April 29, 2011

by Gary Wilkerson

“David served the purposes of God in his generation, then he died” (Acts 13:36).
On Wednesday afternoon my father, David Wilkerson, passed away in a car accident. We grieve the loss of a beloved father, a faithful husband and a holy man of God. My mother, Gwen, his wife of 57 years, was in the car also, but we are told she will recover fully.

Dad’s 60-plus years of ministry have impacted the lives of those closest to him and extended to millions around the world. Today we feel a personal loss, but at the same time we rejoice knowing Dad lived life to the fullest, obeying God with devotion and loving Jesus radically.
He was known for his unlimited faith. He believed God could change the lives of gang members and transform the most desperate drug addicts. He believed that a dynamic church could be launched in the heart of Times Square, New York City. He believed he could be a man who loved his wife and children well. And he did.

Dad was not one for fanfare, acclaim or ceremony. He turned down invitations to meet with world leaders yet would give everything he owned to support a poor orphan or a widow in distress.

Like King David of old, Dad served God’s purposes in his generation. He preached with uncompromising passion and relentless grace. He wrote with amazing insight, clarity and conviction. He ran his race well and when his work was done, he was called home.

I don’t think my father would have retired well. I don’t think he was one to sit in a rocking chair and reminisce about times past. I believe that Jesus, knowing this, graciously called him home.

Dad’s last mission on earth was to be an advocate for the poorest of the poor—to provide relief and support for hungry children and widows and orphans. After founding Teen Challenge, World Challenge and Times Square Church, he sought to feed starving children in the most impoverished countries in the world. Today, Please Pass the Bread is saving the lives of thousands of children, through 56 outreaches in 8 countries.

Like King David of old, after having served God’s purpose, he died. I know if my father were able to encourage you with his words today, he would invite you to give your all to Jesus, to love God deeply and to give yourself away to the needs of others.

The works he began outlive him. We can all attest to his impacting us—not only in his preaching, writing and founding of world-changing ministries, but in his love, devotion, compassion and ability to stir our faith for greater works.

David Wilkerson, you have run the race with exceptional faithfulness to your Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. You are now blessed to be in His presence. To those who mourn, there is this message of hope: “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15 ESV). Life and death depend on the sovereignty of God. There is no sudden, accidental death with God. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16).

For David’s wife, Gwen, and the family, they have this assurance from Jesus: “”Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

(David Wilkerson photo, courtesy, ‘David Wilkerson Today

 Notes

[1] Since uploading this article in 2013, my friend, the godly Aeron Morgan, has entered his rest in Paradise & the citation is no longer available online at his homepage.

 

Copyright © 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 30 July 2016.

 

 

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Should the Apocrypha be in the Bible?[1]

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Tobit

By Spencer D Gear

What is the Apocrypha? The Apocrypha (the deutero-canonical books) refers to the extra books in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, that are not in the Hebrew canon of Scripture. Bruce Metzger wrote of the Apocrypha:

‘With the exception of 2 Esdras these books appear in the Greek version of the Old Testament which is known as the Septuagint, but they are not included in the Hebrew Canon of Holy Scripture’ (Metzger 1965:vii).

The books listed in the RSV edition of the Apocrypha (Metzger 1965:iii) are:

  • The First Book of Esdras[2]
  • The Second Book of Esdras[3]
  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • The Additions to the Book of Esther
  • The Wisdom of Solomon
  • Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach
  • Baruch
  • The Letter of Jeremiah
  • The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men
  • Susanna
  • Bel and the Dragon
  • The Prayer of Manasseh
  • The First Book of the Maccabees
  • The Second Book of the Maccabees

In all of this discussion about the Apocrypha, it is important to understand why there is some confusion among Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christianity in discussing this topic.
Some of the confusion surrounds two traditions for the Old Testament canon:[4]

  1. The Palestinian Canon contains 22 books in the Hebrew (39 in English);
  2. The Alexandrian Canon contains 14 additional books (or 15).

The Palestinian Canon was the Hebrew canon that arose in Palestine and was acknowledged by the Jews. The Alexandrian Canon is the Greek list of OT books and is supposed to have arisen in Alexandria, Egypt, where the Hebrew OT Scriptures were translated into the Greek Septuagint (LXX) about 250 BC and following years.

It is considered by some that there were really two Old Testament canons.[5] There was the broader one that included the Apocrypha and the other was the more narrow one without the Apocrypha. This two-canon hypothesis is built around the fact that the earliest extant copies of the Greek Septuagint that we have are from about the fourth century AD and they contain some of the apocryphal books. On the other hand, the Hebrew Bible has only the 39 books that we now have in the Protestant English Bible.
This latter canon seems to have been the canon of Jesus, Josephus and Jerome. There is no quote from Jesus, to my knowledge, that is from the Apocrypha.

Added confusion: The Apocrypha in and out of the Bible

To add to the confusion, the Geneva Bible of 1560, produced by English Protestants taking refuge in Geneva, contained apocryphal books but there was an introduction that stated that these ‘bokes, which were not receiued by a commune consent to be red and expounded publikely in the Church’[6]. Note the spelling of antiquity!

F. F. Bruce states that this is a repetition and expansion of Jerome’s position that apocryphal books were not for the confirmation of doctrine, unless based on the canonical books, and were for the instruction of godly manners. Some who used the Geneva Bible did not appreciate the Apocrypha, so some copies of the 1599 edition printed on the Continent and in London ‘were bound up without the section containing the Apocrypha’. In 1640, an edition of the Geneva Bible was published in Amsterdam that eliminated the Apocrypha, with an explanation between the Old and New Testaments, giving the reason for its deletion. However, the Prayer of Manasseh was appended to 2 Chronicles. The Bishop’s Bible, published in London in 1568, also contained the Apocrypha, but unlike the Geneva Bible, it had no comment about distinguishing between the canonical books and the Apocrypha (Bruce 1988:107-108).

The English Bible that became the standard English translation was the King James (Authorised) Version, published in 1611, and it contained the Apocrypha. However, in 1615 the Archbishop of Canterbury who was a convinced Calvinist in theology, George Abbot, demanded that all Bibles must contain the Apocrypha. To refuse to include the Apocrypha would earn a year’s imprisonment. Why was this a necessary move? It seemed to be a measure to silence the growing influence of the Puritans who objected to the Apocrypha. In spite of this penalty, copies of the KJV without the Apocrypha started appearing as early as 1626. Since the Puritans were gaining influence, the Long Parliament in England in 1644 gave permission for the Apocrypha to cease to be read in Church of England services (Bruce 1988:108-109).

The Westminster Confession of Faith, drawn up in 1646 by the Westminster Assembly, consisting mainly of Church of England ministers, contained this statement in the chapter I.3, ‘Of the holy Scripture’,

The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.

When was the Apocrypha written?

A variety of dates has been given. Matt Slick states, ‘The Apocrypha consists of a set of books written between approximately 400 B.C. and the time of Christ.  The word “apocrypha” means “Hidden”‘. R. Laird Harris is of the view that ‘the Apocryphal books were written in Hebrew during the period from 200-50 B.C., and yet they were not revered by the Jews of Palestine, who did revere the others’ (1969:138). F. F. Bruce calls the Apocrypha a ‘really varied assortment of Jewish literature of the period 300 B.C.—A.D. 100…. While none of these books is included in the Hebrew Old Testament, they do (with one exception) form part of the Greek Old Testament’ (1963:164).[7]

As for Josephus, in his Complete Works (1867) in the writing Against Apion (1867:607-638), he defines the Jewish canon as 22 books in Hebrew that correspond to our 39 books in the English Old Testament. He did not include the Apocrypha. This is what he wrote in Against Apion 1.8:

8. For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be willingly to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in number, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws and the records that contain them; whereas there are none at all among the Greeks who would undergo the least harm on that account, no, nor in case all the writings that are among them were to be destroyed; for they take them to be such discourses as are framed agreeably to the inclinations of those that write them; and they have justly the same opinion of the ancient writers, since they see some of the present generation bold enough to write about such affairs, wherein they were not present, nor had concern enough to inform themselves about them from those that knew them; examples of which may be had in this late war of ours, where some persons have written histories, and published them, without having been in the places concerned, or having been near them when the actions were done; but these men put a few things together by hearsay, and insolently abuse the world, and call these writings by the name of Histories.

The canon of Scripture

There are a significant number of reasons for accepting the Palestinian canon of the OT (without the Apocrypha). Here are a few:

  1. Some of the Apocryphal books have teachings that contradict the NT. Two of these teachings that were raised at the time of the Reformation are promoted in the Apocrypha but denied in the NT. The Apocrypha promotes praying for the dead (2 Macc 12:45-46) and salvation by works (Tobit 12:9). The Bible is against praying for the dead. See 2 Sam. 12:19; Luke 16:25; Heb. 9:27. The Bible is strongly opposed to salvation by works (see Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:5; Gal 3:11).[8]
  2. Some of the apocryphal narratives promote non-biblical, fanciful stories. Take a read of Bel and the Dragon, Tobit, and Judith.[9]
  3. Philo, the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher, who lived from about 20 BC – AD 40, quotes extensively from the OT and even recognised the three-fold classification of the OT books, but not once did he quote from the Apocrypha as containing inspired books.[10]

There has been quite a battle among the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Christians over whether the 14/15 books of the Apocrypha should be included in the Old Testament. The Roman Catholic Church canonised the Apocrypha with the other books of the Bible at the Council of Trent, 1545-1563. The Anglican Church and the Eastern Orthodox have given the Apocrypha a status between that of the Roman Catholics and the remainder of Protestants.

In the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on Jerome, it states,

“He never either categorically acknowledged or rejected the deuterocanonical books as part of the Canon of Scripture, and he repeatedly made use of them”.

That is not the view of the Encyclopedia Britannica article on Jerome and the Apocrypha (only the introduction to the article is available to me online) which states,

“The Septuagint was an important basis for St. Jerome’s translation of the Old Testament into Latin for the Vulgate Bible; and, although he had doubts about the authenticity of some of the apocryphal works that it contained (he was the first to employ the word apocrypha in the sense of “noncanonical”), he was overruled, and most of them were included in the Vulgate”.

My research indicates that Jerome argued against including the Apocrypha (he coined that term), deuteron-canonical books in the Bible. He denied the inspiration of the Apocrypha. Why? When he studied Hebrew with the Palestinian rabbis, they influenced his rejection of the Apocrypha BECAUSE they were not in the original Hebrew canon of OT Scripture. Yes, there were Jews in other parts of the world who accepted the longer canon with the Apocrypha. However, because of the decree by Pope Damasus and the Synod of Rome in AD 382 that favoured the longer canon, Jerome began to translate the Apocrypha, based on the Greek Septuagint text.

However, Jerome regarded the Apocrypha only “for example of life and instruction in manners” but he did not use the Apocrypha to “apply them to establish any doctrine”. In fact, he argued across the Mediterranean Sea with St. Augustine of Hippo on this very point. To begin with, Jerome refused to translate the Apocrypha for the Latin Vulgate, but he eventually did translate a few. After his death, the apocryphal books were all brought into the Latin Vulgate from the Old Latin Version.

The Roman Catholic Church did not officially admit the Apocrypha into the RCC canon of Scripture until the Council of Trent in 1546. This article from Roman Catholic resources states: “1546: Council of Trent: Apocrypha added to the canon, tradition, states the same authority with the Bible”.

In justforcatholics.org there is this brief response:

Jerome and the Apocrypha

Question: St Jerome was persuaded, against his original inclination, to include the deuterocanonicals in his Vulgate edition of the Scriptures. What are your comments?

Answer: True, yet he classed the Apocrypha in a separated category. He differentiated between the canonical books and ecclesiastical books, which he did not recognize as authoritative Scripture. This is admitted by the modern Catholic church:

“St. Jerome distinguished between canonical books and ecclesiastical books. The latter he judged were circulated by the Church as good spiritual reading but were not recognized as authoritative Scripture. The situation remained unclear in the ensuing centuries…For example, John of Damascus, Gregory the Great, Walafrid, Nicolas of Lyra and Tostado continued to doubt the canonicity of the deuterocanonical books. According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent” (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, The Canon).

The practice of the Church up to the time of the Reformation was to follow the judgment of Jerome who rejected the Old Testament apocrypha on the grounds that these books were never part of the Jewish canon. These were permissible to be read in the churches for the purposes of edification but were never considered authoritative for establishing doctrine. The Protestants did nothing new when they rejected the apocrypha as authoritative Scripture. It was the Roman church that rejected this tradition and ‘canonized’ the ecclesiastical books.

Please read the following explanation from the Roman Catholic Cardinal Cajetan, a contemporary of Martin Luther:

“Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St. Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecciesiasticus, as is plain from the Protogus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the Bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the Bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.” (Cardinal Cajetan, “Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament,” cited by William Whitaker in “A Disputation on Holy Scripture,” Cambridge: Parker Society (1849), p. 424)

The apocrypha are useful for edification, but canonical in the sense that they are the rule for confirming matters of faith, no!

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes.

Here are “Some reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible“. Here are examples of theological and historical “Errors in the Apocrypha“.

The Apocrypha and Scripture?

Geisler and Nix (1986:274-275) conclude with a responsible summary:

Whereas there is no doubt a devotional and even homiletical and historical value in them [the apocryphal books], yet they are not part of the theological canon to which the other thirty-nine books of the Old Testament belong because:

1. Some of their teaching is unbiblical or heretical.

2. Some of their stories are extra-biblical or fanciful.

3. Much of their teaching is sub-biblical, at times even immoral.

4. Most of the Apocrypha was written in the post-biblical or intertestamental period.[11]

5. Finally, all of the Apocrypha is non-biblical or uncanonical, because it was not received by the people of God.

Works consulted

Bruce, F F 1963. The Books and the Parchments: Some Chapters on the Transmission of the Bible, rev. ed. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company.

Bruce, F F 1988. The Canon of Scripture. Glasgow: Chapter House.

Geisler, N L and Nix, W E 1986. A General Introduction to the Bible (rev & exp). Chicago: Moody Press.

Harris, R L 1969. Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Josephus F 1867. Josephus: Complete Works. Tr by W Whiston. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications.

Metzger, B (ed) 1973. The Apocrypha of the Old Testament: Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press.

Surburg, R F 1975. Introduction to the Intertestamental Period. St. Louis / London: Concordia Publishing House.

Notes:


[1] For this brief article, I have gained considerable information from Geisler and Nix (1986). When I attended Summit Pacific College in 1975-1976, this was the text used for a subject on bibliology and I have gained great benefit from it since then.

[2] This was previously known as The Third Book of Esdras (Bruce 1963:163).

[3] This was previously known as The Fourth Book of Esdras (Bruce 1963:163).

[4] Geisler and Nix (1986:264).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Note the early English spelling. Today the quote would be: ‘books, which were not received by a common consent to be read and expounded publicly in the Church’.

[7] Surburg (1975:92) almost quotes F. F. Bruce (1963:164) word-for-word, but without bibliographical acknowledgement, affirming the Apocrypha’s writing over the period, 300 B.C. to A.D. 100. It reads like plagiarism to me as F. F. Bruce’s book was published in 1963 and Surburg’s in 1975.

[8] Geisler and Nix (1986:270).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Geisler and Nix (1986:272).

[11] The intertestamental period is considered to be the time between the close of the Hebrew Old Testament and the beginning of writing of the Christian New Testament.. This is the period from the writing of Malachi (ca. 420 BC) and the early first century AD. It’s a period of about 400 years. Surburg (1975:9).placed the intertestamental period between Malachi and the appearance of John the Baptist, a period of 400 years that some have called the ‘silent centuries’.

 

Copyright (c) 2013 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 7 October 2015.

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Is the Bible to be interpreted as literal or metaphorical?

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

By Spencer D Gear

(image courtesy cliparts.co)

One of the ways to put down those who interpret the Bible literally, the fundamentalists, and Bible-believing Christians is to say that we don’t interpret the Bible literally but metaphorically, allegorically or through some other deconstruction. Some add that it is the uneducated or uninformed who take the Bible literally and are perpetrating false views of the Bible.

This is how Robert Funk debunks such Christians:

As I look around me, I am distressed by those who are enslaved by a Christ imposed upon them by a narrow and rigid legacy. There are millions of Americans who are the victims of a mythical Jesus conjured up by modern evangelists to whip their followers into a frenzy of guilt and remorse—and cash contributions. I agonize over their slavery in contrast to my freedom. I have a residual hankering to free my fellow human beings from this bondage, which can be as abusive as any form of slavery known to humankind. I believe that such a hankering is inspired by Jesus himself, who seems to be untouched by religious bigotry and tyranny and unacquainted with the straightjacket of literalism and dogmatism.  Liberation from fear and ignorance is always a worthy cause. In the last analysis, however, it is because I occasionally glimpse an unknown Jesus lurking in and behind Christian legend and piety that I persist in my efforts to find my way through the mythical and legendary debris of the Christian tradition. And it is the lure of this glimpse that I detect in other questers [quests for the historical Jesus] and that I share with them (Funk 1996:19, emphasis added).

Robert M. Price is just as adamant in castigating fundamentalists and Christian supernaturalists for their foolish, inaccurate understanding of the Scriptures:

We are viewed as insidious villains seeking to undermine the belief of the faithful, trying to push them off the heavenly path and into Satan’s arms. But this is not how we view ourselves at all. We find ourselves entering the field as the champions and zealots for a straightforward and accurate understanding of the Bible as an ancient text. In our opinion, it is the fundamentalist, the apologist for Christian supernaturalism, who is propagating false and misleading views of the Bible among the general populace. We are not content to know better and to shake our heads at the foolishness of the untutored masses. We want the Bible to be appreciated for what it is, not for what it is not. And it is not a supernatural oracle book filled with infallible dogmas and wild tales that must be believed at the risk of eternal peril (Price 2005:15, emphasis added).

I came across this kind of issue in my blogging on Christian Forums, with  this perceptive question from one person: [1]

How do we know if certain passages [of the Bible] are metaphorical?

I’m wondering how can we know if certain biblical stories are literal or metaphorical? For example, the story of creation, exodus, the big flood, etc. I’ve always wondered that cause it seems to me there is a lot of disagreement in Christianity concerning this question. And recently I heard that there are some indications in original texts…different writing style or something? Thanks in advance and excuse me for my ignorance

Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar took this line:

‘A classic example in both church and culture today is thinking that the truth of the Genesis stories of creation depends upon their factuality. This has led to disputes about “creation” versus “evolution,” “intelligent design” versus “random evolution,” and so forth. These disputes would not have occurred without the modern (Enlightenment) conviction that truth equals factuality. For many defenders of the “truth of Genesis,” the truth of these stories is dependent upon their factuality and evolution is a competing factuality. A parabolic reading of these stories would eliminate this conflict and place the issue where it belongs. To whom does the earth belong? Is it the creation of God and the gift of God, wondrous and calling forth awe, plenteous and calling forth gratitude and adoration, and intended for the whole of creation? or is it ours?” (Borg & Crossan 2006:219, note 19).

My response to the poster was: [2]

What is your understanding of the meaning of “history”?

This will be a starter from me. Often, “history” is understood two ways: (1) “Actual happenings in the real world”, and (2) “What people write about actual happenings in the real world” (Wright 1992:81). Wright notes that the second definition technically is the correct one and is the only meaning given in the Concise Oxford Dictionary.

In this understanding, which I accept, history is writing about events that happened. Wright goes on to say that history is not “bare facts” or “subjective interpretations” but is “the meaningful narrative of events and intentions” (Wright 1992:82). I agree.

The questions relating to your post include: Is Genesis 1 written about a meaningful narrative and intentions about what happened at the beginning of the world?

On the other hand, what is metaphor? My Australian Macquarie Dictionary defines ‘metaphor’ as ‘a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable, in order to suggest a resemblance, as A mighty fortress is our God’.

However, if we talk about a “literal” creation in contrast to a “metaphorical” creation, it does not help us to determine what went on at creation. Why? Because “literal” and “metaphorical” refer to the way words refer to things, but we are still left with what the metaphor refers to. It has not been defined.

Perhaps better language would be to use “concrete” and “abstract” instead of “literal” and “metaphorical”. When the OT and NT use the metaphor of “sleep” to indicate death, it is still referring to a concrete situation – death.

So, do Genesis 1 and 2 refer to what a person (Moses) has written about what happened in the real world (history), or has Moses written in the abstract, using a metaphor?

Another replied: [3]

Everything in the Bible is for your edification and even the metaphors are to be used to understand what God wants you to know.

My response was: [4]

The issue has many more serious ramifications. Let me explain:

This is what some have written in regard to Genesis 1 being metaphorical and not literal in what is known as the Framework Hypothesis of Genesis 1:

“The evidence that the Genesis cosmogony has been shaped by the employment of the Bible’s two-register cosmology thus demonstrating that the picture of the week of days is one element of a broader pattern in which upper-register realties are described through the metaphorical use of lower-register terminology” (The Great Debate, 185).

“The creation narrative is not to be taken literally but is kerygma-theological, and redemptive” (TGB, 218).

“The Framework Hypothesis regards the seven day scheme as a figurative framework” (JGD, 219). “While the six days of creation are presented as normal solar days, according to the Framework interpretation, the total picture of God completing his creative work in a week of days is not to be taken literally” JGD, 219).

Another has written:

Literal or Metaphorical: Even today there are very few biblical literalists who read Genesis 2 and 3 absolutely literally. They do not believe that God was literally “walking in the garden in the cool of the evening,” for instance. It is certainly good theology to distinguish between God and our metaphorical descriptions of God, but we don’t want to lose the beauty and drama of the biblical story. God is very much a participant in the drama of Adam and Eve. One of the reasons we know and love this story is because God is portrayed in such human terms. But once you acknowledge that the portrayal of God in this story is a metaphor, then there is no reason not to view the whole story as a metaphor. When we do so we find that this is a very rich and profound discussion about human life and happiness.

We lose much of the meaning of the story when we try to make it a historical account of the origin of the species. Remember that this was originally written for a bronze-age culture. If we get hung up on the question of whether Genesis 2 is a factual account, then we will lose the truths the story is trying to communicate, just like we could get a misleading understanding of God if we used these verses to declare that God has hands and feet.

This is how metaphorical / allegorical interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis is explained:

The literalness of the garden is questioned. Although ‘the tree of life and the knowledge of good and evil could have been literal’ and although ‘man faced a real historical choice between life and the knowledge of good and evil’, in fact ‘the language used to describe this choice … is metaphorical. The ‘paradise of Eden’ was taken by pre-Reformation commentators partly as literal and partly metaphorical.’

As for ‘the tree of life’, the ‘serpent’ and other imagery (in Gen.2), Forster and Marston see them as ‘pure symbolism (and not literally as well) in Revelation 20-22 and Gen.2-3’

Here’s another acceptance of metaphorical interpretation of Genesis 1-3:

If we all agree that the serpent is metaphorical, why push for literalism elsewhere in the Creation account? The story of the serpent is part of a larger apocalyptic (or, revelatory) tale — the story of the beginning. Thus, a consistent view of this Creation story is consistently metaphorical. The Creation-Days and their unusual numerology represent something. The Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge represent something. The consumption of the forbidden fruit represents something.

As long as we retain the essentials of the story — the meaningful images that convey to us God’s goodness, our fault, our dilemma, and our hope — there’s no reason to resist reading Creation metaphorically, and every reason to embrace what it appears was intended.

So did God create actual days or were they only metaphorical ways of expression of creation?

I take the view that this is factual history dealing with the reality of the creation of the universe.

Notes

[1] Wolf911 (#1)

[2] ozspen #2

[3] papaJP (#4)

[4] ozspen #5

Works consulted

Borg, M and Crossan J D 2006. The last week: The day-by-day account of Jesus’s final week in Jerusalem. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Funk, R W 1996. Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a new millennium. Rydalmere, NSW: Hodder & Stoughton (A Polebridge Press book).

Price, R M 2005. The empty tomb: Jesus beyond the grave. New York: Prometheus Press.

Wright, N T 1992. The New Testament and the people of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 28 June 2016.

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Baptism of the Holy Spirit: When does it happen?

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

By Spencer D Gear

There is continuing controversy over the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The classic Pentecostal teaching is that the initial physical evidence is speaking in tongues. As examples of this emphasis, here are some statements from various Pentecostal denominations:

  • “WE BELIEVE in the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues as promised to all believers” (Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa).
  • “The baptism of believers in the Holy Spirit is witnessed by the initial physical sign of speaking with other tongues as the Spirit of God gives them utterance” (Assemblies of God USA).
  • “We believe that those who experience Holy Spirit baptism today will experience it in the same manner that believers experienced it in the early church; in other words, we believe that they will speak in tongues—languages that are not known to them (Acts 1: 5, 8; 2:4)“ (International Church of the Foursquare Gospel).

Other evangelicals disagree, saying that it happens at salvation. Examples of these would be:

  • Calvary Baptist Church, Simi Valley, California, an independent Baptist church, believes: “The baptism of the Holy Spirit [is] at salvation, making each believer a priest”.
  • Larry Wood attends a house church in Florida and he believes that “in order to get home to Heaven after a person dies, the person must have believed in Jesus Christ and received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit at Salvation”.
  • Southern Baptist, Jimmy Draper, published this statement in Baptist Press, on the subject: “Doctrine: Baptism by the Holy Spirit”: “This means that you don’t get a piece of Spirit baptism when you get saved and then more later. God does not baptize on an installment plan. All of the Holy Spirit you are ever going to get as a believer you got when Jesus baptized you by means of the Holy Spirit into His body at your salvation. The question is not, “How much of the Holy Spirit do you have?” Instead, you should be asking, “How much of me does the Holy Spirit have?”
  • John MacArthur, eminent Bible teacher of Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California, stated in, “Is Spirit baptism a one-time event?”:

Despite the claims of many, the apostles’ and early disciples’ experience is not the norm for believers today. They were given unique enabling of the Holy Spirit for their special duties. They also received the general and common baptism with the Holy Spirit in an uncommon way, subsequent to conversion. All believers since the church began are commanded to be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18) and to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). Yet these early apostles and believers were told to wait, showing the change that came in the church age. They were in the transitional period associated with the birth of the church. In the present age, baptism by Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit takes place for all believers at conversion. At that moment, every believer is placed into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). At that point the Spirit also takes up His permanent residency in the converted person’s soul, so there is no such thing as a Christian who does not yet have the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19–20).

The baptism with the Holy Spirit is not a special privilege for some believers, nor are believers challenged and exhorted in Scripture to seek it. It is not even their responsibility to prepare for it by praying, pleading, tarrying, or any other means. The passive voice of the verb translated be baptized indicates the baptism by Jesus Christ with the Spirit is entirely a divine activity. It comes, like salvation itself, through grace, not human effort. Titus 3:5–6 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” God sovereignly pours out the Holy Spirit on those He saves.

Others contend that it happens after salvation but there is no necessity of speaking in other tongues.

Now there are some, as we have seen, who say that there is really no difficulty about this at all. They say it is simply a reference to regeneration and nothing else. It is what happens to people when they are regenerated and incorporated into Christ, as Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 12:13: “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body.” … Therefore, they say, this baptism of the Holy Spirit is simply regeneration.

But for myself, I simply cannot accept that explanation, and this is where we come directly to grips with the difficulty. I cannot accept that because if I were to believe that, I should have to believe that the disciples and the apostles were not regenerate until the Day of Pentecost—a supposition which seems to me to be quite untenable. In the same way, of course, you would have to say that not a single Old Testament saint had eternal life or was a child of God….

This is an experience, as I understand the teaching, which is the birthright of every Christian. “For the promise,’ says the apostle Peter, ‘is unto you’ — and not only unto you but — ‘to your children, and to all that are afar off (Acts 2:39. It is not confined just to these people on the Day of Pentecost, but is offered to and promised to all Christian people. And in its essence it means that we are conscious of the incoming, as it were, of the Spirit of God and are given a sense of the glory of God and the reality of His being, the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we love him. That is why these New Testament writers can say a thing like this about the Christians: ‘Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory’….

A definition, therefore, which I would put to your consideration is something like this: The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the initial experience of glory and the reality and the love of the Father and of the Son. Yes, you may have many further experiences of that, but the first experience, I would suggest, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The saintly John Fletcher of Madley put it like this: ‘Every Christian should have his Pentecost.”

So for Lloyd-Jones, the baptism of the Holy Spirit was an experience after salvation. He explained further:

The baptism of the Holy Spirit, then, is the difference between believing these things, accepting the teaching, exercising faith—that is something that we all know, and without the Holy Spirit we cannot even do that, as we have seen—and having a consciousness and experience of these truths in a striking and signal manner. The first experience of that, I am suggesting, is the baptism of the Holy Spirit, or the Holly Spirit falling on you, or receiving the Spirit.  It is this remarkable and unusual experience which is described so frequently in the book of Acts and which, as we see clearly from the epistles, must have been the possession of the members of the early Christian Church.

LLoyd-Jones does not emphasise speaking in tongues as the initial physical evidence of this baptism in the Spirit. He stated in 1977:

“The trouble with the charismatic movement is that there is virtually no talk at all of the Spirit ‘coming down’. It is more something they do or receive: they talk now about ‘renewal’ not revival. The tendency of the modern movement is to lead people to seek experiences. True revivals humble men before God and emphasize the person of Christ. If all the talk is about experiences and gifts it does not conform to the classic instances of revival”.

Another who believed that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was after salvation was Andrew Murray who had 60 years of ministry in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa. He put it this way in his sermon, “Baptism of the Spirit”:

What we see in Jesus teaches us what the baptism of the Spirit is. It is not. that grace by which we turn to God, become regenerate, and seek to live as God’s children. When Jesus reminded His disciples (Acts 1:4) of John’s prophecy, they were already partakers of this grace. Their baptism with the Spirit meant something more. It was to be to them the conscious presence of their glorified Lord, come back from heaven to dwell in their hearts, their participation in the power of His new Life. It was to them a baptism of joy and power in their living fellowship with Jesus on the Throne of Glory. All that they were further
to receive of wisdom, and courage, and holiness, had its root in this: what the Spirit had been to Jesus, when He was baptized, as the living bond with the Father’s Power and Presence, He was to be to them: through Him, the Son was to manifest Himself, and Father and Son were to make their abode with them.

‘Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.’ This word comes to us as well as to John. To know what the baptism of the Spirit means, how and from whom we are to receive it we must see the One upon whom the Spirit descended and abode. We must see Jesus baptized with the Holy Ghost. We must try to understand how He needed it, how He was prepared for it, how He yielded to it, how in its power He died His death, and was raised again. What Jesus has to give us, He first received and personally appropriated for Himself ; what He received and won for Himself is all for us: He will make it our very own. Upon whom we see the Spirit abiding, He baptizeth with the Spirit.

On Christian Forums, not4you2know posted:

My problem with tongues is that so many followers of Christ have not experienced it. If it was the natural outcome of saving faith then every altar call and every confession of faith would be followed by speaking in tongues. Yet there are millions of believers who have never done this; are we then to assume that their faith is not genuine? (#167)

I (ozspen, #172) responded:

For me this problem is overcome if the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not linked with the second blessing of tongues. I do not agree that the second blessing doctrine is scriptural. See my exposition HERE.

When this second blessing doctrine is excluded, it then enables us to see all of the gifts as from God (I Cor. 12-14) and that God gives gifts according to His sovereignty. The biblical language is that the ‘varieties of gifts… varieties of service … varieties of activities’ (1 Cor. 12:4) are given with this proviso:

“All these [gifts] are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills “(1 Cor. 12:11 ESV).

This means that ALL of God’s people have gifts that have been given by the sovereign Spirit, according to the Spirit’s will.

We say, thank you, Lord for the gift(s) that you have given the body and me!

This is my understanding of the giving of gifts and there is no second blessing of the baptism with the Holy Spirit with the initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues.

JEBrady (#174) responded to my post:

One thing that nettles me about your stance (and I did read your link) is, how does a person know if they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, and how does anyone else know if someone has been baptized in the Holy Spirit?

The scripture says not one of the Samaritans had been, but they obviously had become believers, otherwise the brothers ministering to them would not have baptized them. And if they had the Holy Spirit, why did they call for Peter and John? Same thing in Acts 19. I mean, Paul had to ask them if they got the Holy Spirit.
Thoughts?

I replied (ozspen #175):

There is not agreement in theology of the meaning of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. See these three examples.

What is the baptism in the Holy Spirit?

Baptism in the Holy Spirit. What is it?

What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? How does a person receive it?

I am more persuaded to believe that the baptism with the Holy Spirit happens at salvation, based on 1 Cor. 12: 13, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (ESV).

However, there may be a time subsequent to salvation when we receive a special “touch” from the Holy Spirit, but I would not describe this as a baptism in/with the Holy Spirit.

I am satisfied with the conclusion of the second article above that reads:

Baptism in the Holy Spirit – What Does It Mean To You?
To summarize, baptism in the Holy Spirit does two things. First, it identifies us spiritually with the death and resurrection of Christ, uniting us with Him. Second, baptism in the Holy Spirit joins us to the body of Christ, and identifies us as united with other believers. Practically, baptism in the Holy Spirit means we are risen with Him to newness of life (Romans 6:4), and that we should exercise our spiritual gifts to keep the body of Christ functioning properly as stated in 1 Corinthians 12:13. Experiencing baptism in the Holy Spirit serves as an exhortation to keep unity of the church (Ephesians 4:5). Being identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection-through baptism in the Holy Spirit-establishes the basis for realizing our separation from the power of indwelling sin and our walk in newness of life (Romans 6:1-10, Colossians 2:12).
“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).

Your language seems to indicate that you expect people to experience something so that you know they have been baptised in the Holy Spirit (after salvation): “How does a person know if they have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, and how does anyone else know if someone has been baptized in the Holy Spirit?”

This is how I thought as a classic Pentecostal, but there is no need to think like that when I accept that the baptism of the Holy Spirit it received at salvation. The only evidence should be a changed life and desire to fellowship with the people of God.

See my article, “Tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit“.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 15 October 2015.

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Does regeneration precede faith in Christian salvation?

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

By Spencer D Gear

When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed to unbelievers and they respond to salvation, what happens first in the new convert – faith, repentance,  regeneration or something else? When growing up in the evangelical church, I understood that regeneration referred to God’s work of causing me to be born again by the Spirit when I was saved. Was this correct or not?

Let’s read some prominent Calvinists.

Views of some leading Calvinists

R C Sproul states: “In regeneration, God changes our hearts. He gives us a new disposition, a new inclination. He plants a desire for Christ in our hearts. We can never trust Christ for our salvation unless we first desire Him. This is why we said earlier that regeneration precedes faith” (1985, p. 186, emphasis added). Elsewhere, Sproul wrote. “Repentance is not the cause of new birth or regeneration; it is the result or fruit of regeneration” (1992, p. 193).

J I Packer’s view is that “regeneration is monergistic: that is, entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit. It raises the elect among the spiritually dead to new life in Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). Regeneration is a transition from spiritual death to spiritual life, and conscious, intentional, active faith in Christ is its immediate fruit, not its immediate cause” (1993, p. 158). This is a gentle theological way of saying that regeneration precedes faith.

Charles Hodge considers that “regeneration does not consist in any act or acts of the soul…. Regeneration is an act of God…. It is God who regenerates. The soul is regenerated. In this sense the soul is passive in regeneration, which (subjectively considered) is a change wrought in us…. Regeneration subjectively considered, or viewed as an effect or change wrought in the soul, is not an act…. Regeneration is declared to be a new birth…. The first conscious exercise of the renewed soul is faith; as the first conscious act of a man born blind whose eyes have been opened, is seeing” (1975, pp. 7, 31, 32, 35, 41). So, the renewed, born again, soul receives regeneration and then exercises faith – regeneration precedes faith.

Wayne Grudem maintains that “Scripture indicates that regeneration must come before we can respond to effective calling with saving faith. Therefore we can say that regeneration comes before the result of effective calling (our faith). But it is more difficult to specify the exact relationship in time between regeneration and the human proclamation of the gospel through which God works in effective calling. At least two passages suggest that God regenerates us at the same time as he speaks to us in effective calling [1 Peter 1:23, 25 and James 1:18 NIV]” (1994, p. 700).

With this kind of thinking among leading Reformed thinkers, it is not surprising that it is conveyed to the people in contemporary Calvinistic churches.

The online Calvinists’ views

I’ve been doing some blogging (I’m ozspen) on Christian Forums and came across some Reformed Baptists who claim that regeneration precedes faith. Here are some of their statements:

“With all due respect if there’s no scriptural support for it [regeneration preceding faith] why are there truckloads of articles and sermons and books and church councils and creeds and confessions and statements of faith that use scripture to support it?… For example, here’s a giant article with links to at least 2 1-hour sermons on the topic and scripture is used the entire time.
Jesus Teaches Monergistic Regeneration by John Hendryx ” (Skala #23)

“Not “whosoever believes will be born of God,” but has been. You believe because you have been born of God. You are not born of God because you believe” (faceofbear #60).

“And regeneration happens temporally at the same time as faith. It’s not as if you are regenerated and then at a later point in time you have faith. It’s simultaneous. What we mean by regeneration precedes faith is that regeneration is necessary for a man to exercise faith. As prior to regeneration he is spiritually dead and hostile to God and cannot understand the spiritual things of God” (Skala #69);

But wait a minute: What is regeneration?

Let’s check a few theological definitions of the meaning of regeneration:

Charles Hodge, the Calvinist, claims there is “a consent almost universal” that the word regeneration “is now used to designate, not the whole work of sanctification, nor the first stages of that work comprehended in [Christian] conversion, much less justification or any mere external change of state, but the instantaneous change from spiritual death to spiritual life. Regeneration, therefore, is a spiritual resurrection: the beginning of a new life” (1975, p. 5).

Henry Thiessen, a non-Calvinist, states that “from the divine side, the change of heart is called regeneration, the new birth; from the human side it is called conversion. In regeneration the soul is passive; in conversion … it is active. We may define regeneration as the communication of divine life to the soul (John 3:5; 10:10, 28; 1 John 5:11, 12), as the impartation of a new nature (2 Pet. 1:4) or heart (Jer. 24:7; Ezek. 11:19; 36:26), and the production of a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:10; 4:24)” (Thiessen 1949, p. 367).

Wayne Grudem, a Calvinist, defines regeneration as follows: “Regeneration is a secret act of God in which he imparts new spiritual life to us. This is sometimes called ‘being born again’ (using language from John 3:3-8)” (Grudem 1994, p. 699).

John Miley, an Arminian, states briefly that “to be born of God is to be born into his family, and to become his child. Sonship is thus immediately from regeneration. This is the clear meaning of the Scriptures” such as John 1:12-13 and Galatians 3:26-27 (1989, p. 397).

Let’s check out a couple of leading exponents of Reformed theology to see what they think of the idea of regeneration preceding faith.

What was John Calvin’s view?

I was reading in Calvin’s Institutes where he equates repentance with regeneration. John Calvin in Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.3.9-10, wrote:

9. Both of these we obtain by union with Christ. For if we have true fellowship in his death, our old man is crucified by his power, and the body of sin becomes dead, so that the corruption of our original nature is never again in full vigor (Rom. 6:5, 6). If we are partakers in his resurrection, we are raised up by means of it to newness of life, which conforms us to the righteousness of God. In one word, then, by repentance I understand regeneration, French, “une regeneration spirituelle;”—a spiritual regeneration. the only aim of which is to form in us anew the image of God, which was sullied, and all but effaced by the transgression of Adam. So the Apostle teaches when he says, “We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Again, “Be renewed in the spirit of your minds” and “put ye on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Again, “Put ye on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:23, 24; Col. 3:10; 2 Cor. 4:16. Accordingly through the blessing of Christ we are renewed by that regeneration into the righteousness of God from which we had fallen through Adam, the Lord being pleased in this manner to restore the integrity of all whom he appoints to the inheritance of life. This renewal, indeed, is not accomplished in a moment, a day, or a year, but by uninterrupted, sometimes even by slow progress God abolishes the remains of carnal corruption in his elect, cleanses them from pollution, and consecrates them as his temples, restoring all their inclinations to real purity, so that during their whole lives they may practice repentance, and know that death is the only termination to this warfare. The greater is the effrontery of an impure raver and apostate, named Staphylus, who pretends that I confound the condition of the present life with the celestial glory, when, after Paul, I make the image of God to consist in righteousness and true holiness; as if in every definition it were not necessary to take the thing defined in its integrity and perfection. It is not denied that there is room for improvement; but what I maintain is, that the nearer any one approaches in resemblance to God, the more does the image of God appear in him. That believers may attain to it, God assigns repentance as the goal towards which they must keep running during the whole course of their lives.

10. By regeneration the children of God are delivered from the bondage of sin, but not as if they had already obtained full possession of freedom, and no longer felt any annoyance from the flesh. Materials for an unremitting contest remain, that they may be exercised, and not only exercised, but may better understand their weakness. All writers of sound judgment agree in this, that, in the regenerate man, there is still a spring of evil which is perpetually sending forth desires that allure and stimulate him to sin… (my emphasis).

There is no mention here of regeneration/repentance prior to faith.

What about that Calvinistic stalwart, C H Spurgeon?

C. H. Spurgeon (image courtesy The Spurgeon Archive)

If the theology of regeneration prior to faith is alleged to be true, it is a “ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him”, says C H Spurgeon. It is ridiculous because Spurgeon would be preaching faith to a person who was already saved. It would be preaching Christ to one who is already regenerated.

C H Spurgeon, in his sermon, “The Warrant of Faith”, seems to write against the idea that regeneration precedes faith:

Others say that the warrant for a sinner to believe in Christ is his election. Now, as his election cannot possibly be known by any man until he has believed, this is virtually preaching that nobody has any known warrant for believing at all. If I cannot possibly know my election before I believe—and yet the minister tells me that I may only believe upon the ground of my election—how am I ever to believe at all? Election brings me faith, and faith is the evidence of my election; but to say that my faith is to depend upon my knowledge of my election, which I cannot get without faith. is to talk egregious nonsense.
clip_image009[8]I lay down this morning with great boldness—because I know and am well persuaded that what I speak is the mind of the Spirit—this doctrine that the sole and only warrant for a sinner to believe in Jesus is found in the gospel itself and in the command which accompanies that gospel, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” I shall deal with that matter first of all, negatively, and then, positively.
clip_image009[9]1. First, NEGATIVELY; and here my first observation is that any other way of preaching the gospel-warrant is absurd. If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. But you will tell me that I ought to preach it only to those who repent of their sins. Very well; but since true repentance of sin is the work of the Spirit, any man who has repentance is most certainly saved, because evangelical repentance never can exist in an unrenewed soul. Where there is repentance there is faith already, for they never can be separated. So, then, I am only to preach faith to those who have it. Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners. “Nay,” saith one, “but we mean that a man must have some good desires towards Christ before he has any warrant to believe in Jesus.” Friend, do you not know what all good desires have some degree of holiness in them? But if a sinner hath any degree of true holiness in him it must be the work of the Spirit, for true holiness never exists in the carnal mind, therefore, that man is already renewed, and therefore saved. Are we to go running up and down the world, proclaiming life to the living, casting bread to those who are fed already, and holding up Christ on the pole of the gospel to those who are already healed? My brethren, where is our inducement to labour where our efforts are so little needed? If I am to preach Christ to those who have no goodness, who have nothing in them that qualifies them for mercy, then I feel I have a gospel so divine that I would proclaim it with my last breath, crying aloud, that “Jesus came into the world to save sinners“—sinners as sinners, not as penitent sinners or as awakened sinners, but sinners as sinners, sinners “of whom I am chief.”
clip_image009[10]Secondly, to tell the sinner that he is to believe on Christ because of some warrant in himself, is legal, I dare to say it—legal. Though this method is generally adopted by the higher school of Calvinists, they are herein unsound, uncalvinistic, and legal; it is strange that they who are so bold defenders of free grace should make common cause with Baxterians and Pelagians.

Spurgeon rightly states that it is an “unnecessary and ridiculous thing” to preach Christ to a person who is already regenerate. If regeneration happens first, then he is preaching Christ to people who already have it. Regeneration prior to faith is unbiblical theology and Spurgeon admits it up front.

But elsewhere he makes statements of regeneration prior to faith.

We see this particularly in his sermon, “Faith and Regeneration“, where he states:

“We must now pass on to show that WHEREVER IT [FAITH] EXISTS IT IS THE PROOF OF REGENERATION” in his sermon on.

“Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man”.

“Many men refuse to see more than one side of a doctrine, and persistently fight against anything which is not on its very surface consistent with their own idea. In the present case I do not find it difficult to believe faith to be at the same time the duty of man and the gift of God.”

So, he is making two apparently contradictory statements: (1) Regeneration precedes faith (this is the equivalent of irresistible grace), and (2) “If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate” (reference above).

Which is it to be? Regeneration prior to faith OR regeneration is NOT prior to faith?

What do the Scriptures state?

Surely this is the key factor. There are verses in Scripture, when understood in context, that teach that faith is logically prior to salvation/regeneration. Check out Luke 13:3; John 3:6-7, 16; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:24-25; 5:1; Titus 3:5-7; and 2 Peter 3:9.

Let’s examine these Scriptures individually.

Luke 13:3: “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (ESV).[1]

To avoid judgment (perishing), this verse says that the condition is NOT regeneration first, but repentance. So, for anyone to experience salvation, repentance is required. This is a consistent message of Scripture (eg Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30; 26:20). These verses do not enforce the theology that regeneration must precede faith.

John 3:6-7, 16: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again'” (John 3:6-7). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

New birth occurs at regeneration. Who is the creator of this new spiritual life? God Himself! In this chapter of John 3, Jesus makes it clear that faith is the condition for being born again, receiving the new birth, or being saved to experience eternal life. He states that “whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (3:15) and “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (3:16).
What is the means to the end of somebody obtaining salvation or becoming regenerate? Faith! The one who BELIEVES (has faith). That’s a conclusion reached by contextual hermeneutics (interpretation).

Acts 16:31: ‘And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you(B) and your household”‘.

“[You] Believe in the Lord Jesus” and the person will be saved along with his household. The order is the same as for the verses in John 3; “belief” comes before salvation; thus faith is the condition on which a person receives God’s salvation through the Lord Jesus.

Romans 3:24-25: “And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins”

This incredible passage on justification mentions that justification and propitiation are “received by faith”. Yes, God planned this eternal life from before the world came into being (2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2) and, thus, before anyone could receive this justification and propitiation, God planned that justification would be “received by faith”. This pattern is consistent in the NT that faith is first (eg John 17:20; Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:22; 10:9, 14; 1 Cor 1:21; Gal 3:22; etc, etc).

These verses are very clear that justification and propitiation for believers are received “by faith”. This is not eisegesis, but solid exegesis with contextual interpretation.[2]

Romans 5:1: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”.

The text is very clear that justification is received “by faith”. While God is the source through our Lord Jesus Christ, there is no statement here that justification (or regeneration) is the means by which we receive salvation. Justification comes “by faith”. Faith logically precedes justification.

Titus 3:5-7: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, butaccording to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life”.

It is true that these three verses do not use the word “faith” but that regeneration and justification came to us “by his grace”. However this is not a statement to support the view that regeneration precedes faith.
Please note the very next verse where faith (believe) demonstrates faith’s necessity according to Titus 3:8: “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people” (ESV). FAITH, those who believe, comes before good works. Faith is the means to salvation as v. 8 demonstrates and this leads to believers devoting themselves to the ministry of good works.

Eph. 2:8-9 is an explicit parallel to these verses in Titus, also written by Paul, where it is very definite that believers are “saved through faith“: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (ESV).

2 Peter 3:9 states, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance“.

The order here is that repentance comes before salvation/rescuing from perishing. The context is the day of the Lord coming (3:1-13) and scoffers coming in the last days (3:3) and challenging, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (3:4). Then there is a description of the heavens and the earth existing and being formed “by the word of God” (3:5). Then the deluge (great flood). By that same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire by the same word of God when judgment and destruction are coming on the ungodly(3:7).

How will people avoid this judgment and destruction? Contextual interpretation indicates that God is patient, not wanting any to perish and all to come to repentance (3:9). This is a core verse in the passage because it gives God’s remedy for escaping the judgment and destruction: “All should reach repentance”.

What about this verse?

Romans 10:17, in the ESV, states the order of salvation clearly: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ”.

It does not say that faith comes from a preceding regeneration. The initial reading of the verse indicates that faith is produced by hearing the word of Christ and the word of Christ comes before faith. Here, the order that leads to salvation, by inference, is that someone is sent; there is preaching or evangelism; there is hearing of the word of Christ, and there is believing.

Conclusion

I have provided biblical support for the view that God is the source of salvation / regeneration and that a person’s faith/repentance is the means to receive that salvation.

The monergism[3] (that accompanies a view of irresistible grace) that Calvinists support (and reject synergism[4]) does not have biblical support in my understanding of Scripture (some details are above).

The scriptures are clear that human beings can resist the grace of God and some do that (Matt. 23:37) but God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to salvation/repentance (1 Tim. 2:3-5; 2 Peter 3:9). That’s what one would expect from the loving God (1 John 4:16) who loves everyone (John 3:16) and wants all to come to salvation/repentance (1 Tim. 2:3).

Synergism (God’s grace working with human free will) is God’s way for human beings to be saved. God’s gift must be received for regeneration, justification, propitiation, salvation to be experienced by any person. God acts and people receive. That’s Bible.

It is evident from the Scriptures that the Calvinistic doctrine on regeneration preceding faith is short on biblical evidence – it is in error. In addition, as Spurgeon has stated so well, it is ridiculous to preach the Gospel of Christ to someone who is already regenerated. Why preach faith in Christ for salvation to somebody who is already born again by the Spirit?

Regeneration preceding faith is described by Spurgeon as ridiculous, unsound, uncalvinistic, and legal. Sure sounds like he doesn’t believe in this error that is promoted by other Calvinists! But he is inconsistent, as quoted above. He does believe that “wherever [faith] exists it is the proof of regeneration”.

Notes:


[1] Unless otherwise stated, all Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Bibles, 2001).

[2] When I presented these verses that I’m discussing here, on Christian Forums, I was told that “it seems to me that not a single verse you asserted teaches that regeneration precedes faith actually has anything to do with it at all. I am scared that you have read into these passages something that is not there. That’s called eisegesis” (Christian Forums –>Congregation–>Christian Communities–>Baptists, “John 1:11-13, Receiving Christ”, 2 April 2011, Skala # 112, available at: http://www.christianforums.com/t7545666-12/#post57130679 , accessed 2 April 2011).

[3] The “Monergism” website provides this definition of monergism: “The view that the Holy Spirit is the only agent who effects regeneration of Christians. It is in contrast with synergism, the view that there is a cooperation between the divine and the human in the regeneration process. Monergism is a redemptive blessing purchased by Christ for those the Father has given Him (1 Pet 1:3, John 3:5,6, 6:37, 39). This grace works independently of any human cooperation and conveys that power into the fallen soul whereby the person who is to be saved is effectually enabled to respond to the gospel call (John 1:13; Acts 2:39, 13:48; Rom 9:16)” (available at: http://www.monergism.com/ , accessed 3 April 2011).

[4] What is synergism? The evangelical Arminians state: ‘I believe the term “synergism” is not always accurately applied to the Arminian position. The word comes from the Greek synergos, which essentially means “working together”. While monergism (to work alone) may be an acceptable label for what Calvinists believe (God does all the work in salvation), synergism does not always rightly portray what Arminians have historically believed.

‘’The word itself, when taken in a grammatically strict sense, is not a very good description of what Arminians believe regarding salvation. Arminians do not believe that both God and man “work” together in salvation. We believe that we are saved “by faith from first to last” (Rom. 1:17). Since faith is antithetical to works (Rom. 3:20-28; 4:2-5; 9:32; 10:5, 6; Gal. 2:16; 3:2, 5; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 3:9), it is a misnomer to label Arminian soteriology as synergistic in the strictest sense of the word.

‘Arminian theology, when rightly understood, teaches that salvation is monergistic. God alone does the saving. God alone regenerates the soul that is dead in sin. God alone forgives and justifies on the merits of Christ’s blood. God alone makes us holy and righteous. In all of these ways salvation is entirely monergistic. The difference between Calvinism and Arminianism is whether or not God’s saving work is conditional or unconditional. Arminians believe that God will not save until we meet the God ordained condition of faith. Faith may be understood as synergistic only in the sense that God graciously enables us to believe, but we are the ones who must decide whether or not we will believe” (Society of Evangelical Arminians, “Is Arminian theology synergistic?”, available at: http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/27, accessed 3 April 2011).

 

Copyright (c) 2011 Spencer D. Gear.  This document last updated at Date: 11 October 2015.

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