Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Can an Unregenerate Man Seek God?

"Ho, everyone that thirsteth..." (Isaiah 55:1)  Is this dead fellow thirsty?

There is a great deal of preaching under the moniker of "sovereign grace" in the Christian marketplace today. I am firmly convinced that the VAST majority of such teaching cannot be logically reconciled with the fundamental precepts of grace (TULIP), and that such teaching is nothing more than well-meant-offerism cloaked in a thin veneer of grace terminology. A biblical analysis of the statements made in such sermons is revealing....

STATEMENT ONE:  "And here’s the beautiful, beloved, exciting, dynamic promise:  if you seek him, he will come to you. He will reveal himself to you. He will save you.”
This is a VERY common teaching in Christendom, but it is most certainly NOT the teaching of eternal salvation by sovereign grace. This statement hinges the eternal salvation of a sinner on an act of seeking.  In so doing it attributes a capacity to one who is "dead in trespasses and in sins" that he does not have (Ephesians 2:1). In reference to the natural man, the apostle Paul and King David agreed that, "There is none that seeketh after God." (Romans 3:11, Psalm 14:2-3) This establishes an absolutely irrefutable point of sovereign grace theology, and one that is almost universally misunderstood in Christendom today - namely, that "except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) That passage teaches that a man must be in possession of eternal life through regeneration in order to have the spiritual capacity required to receive spiritual truth. Indeed, "What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so, the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God." (I Corinthians 2:11) It follows that all such preaching that requires the earnest seeking of God in order to obtain eternal salvation is contradictory to the teaching of scripture. Once one understands that regeneration is a quickening (Ephesians 2:1) and that it precedes any act of faith in time (I John 5:1) and thus it precedes any spiritual act of seeking in time, it is likewise unavoidably established that those who seek, are ALREADY in possession of eternal life, else they would have no capacity for seeking in the first place.



One must have faith in order to seek, for who seeks that in which he does not believe? If someone has the faith to seek, then they are born again, because faith is a fruit of the Spirit of God imparted in regeneration (Galatians 4:6, 5:22). Moreover it is undeniable that all such seeking is pleasing to God, and if it is pleasing to God then this seeking must be done in faith because without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6) All of these observations establish that men do not seek the Lord in order to obtain eternal salvation, but rather because they already HAVE eternal salvation.
STATEMENT TWO:  “Seek me. Search for me. Find me. And when you do, I will be there. I will love you. I will save you. I will take care of you. I will give you eternal life.”
This preaching places the burden of the shepherd squarely upon the shoulders of the sheep. If sheep are responsible for finding the shepherd in order to be recipients of his love, grace, watchful care, and eternal salvation, then I submit that the entire shepherd/sheep metaphor misrepresents the nature of the relationship between God and his people. A shepherd is one who finds and cares for the sheep. He loses not one of them. His love motivates his search for them and he calls them by name. He does not sit and wait for a sheep to find him so that he may ask to join his flock. The shepherd HAS a flock already and he knows them by name and he finds every one of them, else he is not a good shepherd, much less a great one. (John 10:11,14, Hebrews 13:20)

To this some may object saying, "Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.'" (Isaiah 55:6-7)  But to this we can only point that our brother Isaiah is addressing, "everyone that thirsteth." (Isaiah 55:1) This call to seek the Lord is issued to those "blessed" folk who have a hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6). It is an admonition made to God's people who would practice wickedness in keeping with the inclinations of the old man, rather than obeying God in keeping with the unction of the new man. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
STATEMENT THREE:  “I just preach to everyone, and I preach to everyone, come. And if you come, he will give you eternal life.”
Since we do not know who God's people are in this world, it is often appropriate to broadcast gospel truth. But our issue here is not with the broadcast audience, but with the nature of the "gospel" represented by such erroneous promises. When someone says "if you come, he (God) will give you eternal life," they are promoting a quid-pro-quo form of eternal salvation that denies the fundamental truth that regeneration precedes faith. The following questions are intended to draw that issue out more explicitly and to tie the salvation of God's people all the way back to its source in the covenant promises which were certain before the foundation of the world.
  1. Can a man who is dead in trespasses and in sins "come" to Christ?  
    • No. (Ps 14:2-3, John 5:40)
  2. If he is able to "come to Christ" is he one who is incapable of seeking God?  
    • No. (Romans 3:11) 
  3. Is seeking God a good thing to do?  
    • Yes, God often commands it. (Isaiah 55:6)
  4. Is it pleasing to God?  
    • Yes.  Otherwise God would be commanding you to displease Him.
  5. If it is pleasing must it be done in faith?  
    • Yes, without faith it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
  6. If a man has faith is he in possession of eternal life?  
    • Yes.  "Verily, Verily, I say unto you, He that believeth in me HATH everlasting life." (John 6:47)
  7. Can a man who has faith do anything in order to obtain eternal life?  
    • No, he already has eternal life (John 3:16), thus anything he ever does is NOT done in order to obtain eternal life.
  8. Did he produce that faith naturally or was it a gift from God?  
    • Faith is a gift of God, not the produce of the natural man. (Philippians 1:29, I Corinthians 2:11)
  9. Does faith produce regeneration or does regeneration produce faith?  
    • Regeneration produces the capacity of faith in a child of God (Gal 4:6, John 3:3), otherwise man's flesh would be profitable unto salvation and the Lord expressly forbid such. (John 6:63)
  10. Why is anyone regenerated?  
    • God's people are regenerated "because [they] are sons." (Gal 4:6)
  11. How did they become sons?  
    • "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will," (Ephesians 1:4-5)  They become sons unconditionally based on election.
  12. Is it possible that one of God's chosen people could somehow end up in hell?  
    • No.  It is a covenant promise of the Lord Jesus Christ "that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." (John 17:2)
  13. So did Jesus Christ save his people from their sins?  
    • Absolutely, yes. (Matthew 1:21, Romans 8:31-39)  Indeed that is the core proclamation of the gospel and the reason that it is good news.
Having provided sound answers to those questions ask yourself this: 
Is the gospel a quid-pro-quo offer of salvation to all of humanity 
or a proclamation of the finished work of Christ on behalf of his people? 

These questions and their undeniably biblical answers establish in no uncertain terms that Gods people are saved as the result of what God has done by covenant on their behalf plus absolutely nothing else. It follows that being saved by grace is not the result of any "seeking" on the part of the sheep, but rather the result of the abiding love and unyielding diligence of the great shepherd and savior of the sheep - the Lord Jesus Christ - apart from any assistance on the part of his people whatsoever. It is precisely as the apostle Paul declared saying, "For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14)
STATEMENT FOUR:  “And so you must seek him. And if you ask, and if you seek, and if you knock, the door of salvation will be opened to you.”
Again, this is the same error once again. Simply stated, if one must seek in order to obtain eternal life, then either man is not totally depraved and salvation is not by sovereign grace, or no one is going to be saved, because depravity makes such seeking impossible. (Romans 3:10-18) If, on the other hand, one has the God given faith to hunger and thirst for righteousness and to seek the Lord while he may be found, the Lord Jesus Christ proclaims that such people are "blessed" already and "they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6)

The gospel proclaims the finished work of Christ on behalf of his people and it assures those that believe this testimony that they are among them. God's people are encouraged to seek the Lord, to be certain, but this is not in order to obtain the eternal life they already have, but in order to grow in the grace and knowledge of him so that they may enter into the more abundant life that is found through obedient discipleship.



62 comments:

  1. SEEKING GOD BY STEVE FINNELL

    IS IT POSSIBLE FOR MEN TO SEEK GOD? IF THOSE OF THE "GRACE ONLY" PERSUASION ARE CORRECT IN THAT GOD SELECTS A FEW TO BE SAVED AND THE MAJORITY OF MANKIND, THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, WILL BE SENT TO HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY, THEN OF COURSE MAN'S ATTEMPT TO SEEK GOD WOULD BE FUTILE. ARE THEY RIGHT?

    CAN MEN SEEK GOD?

    MATTHEW 6:25-33.......33 BUT SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THESE THINGS WILL BE ADDED TO YOU.

    Why would Jesus say, seek God's kingdom? Men can seek God. Seeking God is not an impossibility.

    Acts 15:13-18......16 'After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will restore it, 17 So the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,' 18 Says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.

    James answered, Simeon has related, and the Prophets have agreed that mankind may seek the Lord, however, those "grace only' advocates who believe in the doctrine of predestination, without qualifications, disagree.

    Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

    Men come to God. Men seek God. God does not force men into salvation. God does not force men to have faith. God does not compel men to repent. God does not overpower men and then force them to be baptized in water for the forgiveness of their sins. God does not force men to confess Jesus as the Christ the Son of God.

    GOD IS A REWARDER OF THOSE WHO SEEK HIM!

    SEEK GOD-------IT IS POSSIBLE!


    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ANSWER 101

      TETH: Thank you for taking the time to interact with my blog. You make a number of statements that I’d like to address…

      SF: Is it possible for men to seek God?

      TETH: Yes. It is possible for regenerate men to seek God. It is impossible for unregenerate men to seek God (Psalm 10:4, Romans 3:11)

      SF: If those of the “grace only” persuasion are correct in that God selects a few to be saved and the majority of mankind, through no fault of their own, will be sent to hell for all eternity, then of course man’s attempt to seek God would be futile. Are they right?

      TETH: You cover a lot of ground in that statement so let’s break it down and address its many components…

      SF: God selects a few to be saved.

      TETH: While there are some who claim the moniker of “sovereign grace” (or “grace only” as you put it) who would affirm that few are saved, I believe that such people do so through a misinterpretation of passages like Matthew 7:14. The bible’s testimony is that those who are saved will be “a great multitude which no man could number.” (Revelation 7:9) So I certainly do not believe that only a few are saved and there is no reason that the “grace only” position must be defined by such a belief.

      SF: the majority of mankind, through no fault of their own, will be sent to hell for all eternity

      TETH: With regard to the “majority of mankind,” I refer you to my previous answer. With respect to “no fault of their own” – this is certainly NOT the bible’s testimony. The bible places the responsibility for sin in the domain of humanity, squarely in the lap of man himself through an act of disobedience. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”(Romans 5:12) and again saying, “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) Man is responsible for the entrance of sin into humanity and we are individually responsible for the practice of sin which we have all committed (Romans 3:23) and it is for this reason that we stand in need of a savior.

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    2. ANSWER 102

      SF: Can men seek God?

      TETH: The point of this blog post is to affirm that UNREGENERATE men cannot seek God. This is affirmed by King David who said, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: There is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 14:2-3) as well as by the apostle Paul who said, “there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:11)

      SF: Why would Jesus say, seek God's kingdom (Matthew 6:25-33)? Men can seek God. Seeking God is not an impossibility.

      TETH: My article does not assert that seeking God is an impossibility. My assertion is that man in his natural or unregenerate state cannot seek God (Romans 3:11) because he is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1), enmity against God (Romans 8:7), and incapable of regarding spiritual truth as anything other than foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14).

      SF: Acts 15:13-18......16 'After these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will restore it, 17 So the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,' 18 Says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.

      TETH: This text merely affirms that there are those out of humanity who will seek God. It does not affirm that all of humanity is capable of seeking God. If it did it would be at odds with the apostle Paul who taught that unregenerate men do not seek God (Romans 3:11).

      SF: James answered, Simeon has related, and the Prophets have agreed that mankind may seek the Lord, however, those "grace only' advocates who believe in the doctrine of predestination, without qualifications, disagree.

      TETH: Again that passage does not affirm that all of mankind is capable of seeking God. Paul clearly states that they are not (Romans 3:11), because “the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God, they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14) King David said, “The wicked (that’s the unregenerate in this context, TETH) through the pride of his countenance WILL NOT SEEK AFTER GOD, God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalm 10:4)

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    3. ANSWER 103

      SF: Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

      TETH: True enough, it is also true that “all men have NOT faith.” (II Thessalonians 3:2). If you admit that “seeking God” is something that would be pleasing to God, and it undeniably is, and that without faith it is impossible to please Him, and it undeniably is (Hebrews 11:6), and you admit that “all men have not faith” as Paul taught, then it follows that not all men have the ability to seek God, because seeking God is a pleasing act and if it is pleasing it must be done in faith, an attribute which not all men possess.

      SF: Men come to God.

      TETH: True. “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:45) Now consider what the Lord Jesus Christ is teaching in this verse. If every man has heard and learned of the father, then every man is going to be eternally saved. Clearly NOT all men come to God (Matthew 25:41). It follows that not all men have heard or learned of the Father. This is a strong affirmation of both election and immediate Holy Spirit regeneration.

      SF: Men seek God.

      TETH: “The wicked through the pride of his countenance, WILL NOT SEEK AFTER GOD.” (Psalm 10:4) Do these “wicked men” seek God? Or do they have to be drawn of the father to ever be able to seek God? “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44) Answer those questions correctly and you’ve taken an important step toward understanding why salvation is by sovereign grace.

      SF: God does not force men into salvation.

      TETH: Really? The eternal life imparting mercy of regeneration is described as being “born from above” (John 3:3), being “translated” (Colossians 1:13), and being “quickened” (Ephesians 2:1). There is no way for something that is dead to participate in its own conception, translation, or quickening. While the bible does not describe this as salvation by “force” it does regard it as “the working of his mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:19) Do you believe that man can resist the quickening work of God? If he can, then this so-called “mighty power” of God is easily defeated by the will of man.

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    4. ANSWER 104

      SF: God does not force men to have faith.

      TETH: Well he gives it to some of them as a gift does he not? “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8) “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;” (Philippians 1:29) And he does not give it to all men (II Thessalonians 3:2). Let me tell you something – if God gives you faith – you HAVE faith whether you like it or not. If that’s not FORCING you to have faith, I don’t know what is.

      SF: God does not compel men to repent.

      TETH: Does he not grant repentance to them as a gift of his grace? “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (Acts 11:18)

      SF: God does not overpower men and then force them to be baptized in water for the forgiveness of their sins.

      TETH: Baptism is an act of obedience, not a requirement for eternal salvation (Luke 23:43) It has nothing to do with one’s righteous standing before the throne of God, because we are made righteous by “the obedience of ONE” (Romans 5:19) not by the obedience of TWO.

      SF: God does not force men to confess Jesus as the Christ the Son of God.

      TETH: He quickens them so that they are both desirous and capable of such, and until such quickening, they are incapable of making such a confession in sincerity, because they are enmity with God (Romans 8:7) and their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness (Romans 3:14).

      SF: God is a rewarder of those who seek him!

      TETH: True. But my blog is not making the assertion that it is impossible for men to seek God, it is asserting that it is impossible for the unregenerate man to seek God (Romans 3:11). What does this tell us? It teaches us that those who seek God in sincerity do so because they HAVE eternal life, not in order to obtain eternal life. Because all such seeking is an act done in faith and those who have faith are those who have already passed from death unto life through regeneration, else they would lack the faith required to believe that God is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6).

      SF: Seek God ------- It is possible!

      TETH: Is it possible for those whom Paul has in mind in Romans 3:11?

      SF: You are invited to follow my blog. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

      TETH: Thanks for the invitation. I will check it out. May God bless our studies and understanding of his word.

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  2. You used Galatians 4:6 multiple times to assert that Christians have always been sons of God and that the spirit is given only to those who are "already" sons.

    However, the very next verse (Gal 4:7) stands in direct opposition to that belief by saying that those who get the spirit "are NO LONGER SLAVES but sons."

    The implication here is that sons of God were in fact once slaves. It is only when they are given the spirit that they become sons and then are no longer slaves.

    Also I think Galatians 3:26 is worth pointing out.

    "for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith."

    Once again, the clear implication here is that "somship" is conditioned on being "In Christ." A person is not a son without first coming to be "in Christ" which of course happens THROUGH FAITH. To say that a person is FIRST a son and THEN subsequently gets in Christ, is robbing Christ of supremacy in salvation.

    So it is clear from Galatians that believers have not ALWAYS been sons. We become sons when we come into relationship with Christ, and NOT before. And coming into relationship with Christ is "through" faith. Being a son is "through" faith. It's not the other way around - we don't get faith "through sonship" but we get sonship "through faith."

    Joh 1:12 "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,"

    Again, sonship here is clearly a condition of a person first believing and receiving Jesus. Sonship cannot possibly be something we have always possessed throughout eternity apart from first being in relationship with Christ.

    We cannot have sonship before we have Christ; before we are IN HIM.

    Certainly there are many aspects of salvation I do not understand - and much of what you wrote is insightful to me. There are many things your wrote that I want to further ponder and meditate on. I appreciate your devotion to the scriptures.

    Jordan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TETH ANSWER 101

      Jordan,

      Thanks for taking a moment to interact with my blog. You make a number of comments that I’d like to share my thoughts on, but I’ll start by stating an overarching principle of right division for handling the topic of SONSHIP without turning a blind eye to some of the scriptural data: If one does not develop a more nuanced approach to the topic of SONSHIP than the “You’re not a son until you believe” position you suggest, then one’s theology of SONSHIP will contradict some of the testimony of scripture. Stated plainly, I believe one must recognize the COVENANTAL, GENETIC, and EXPERIMENTAL dimensions of SONSHIP that scripture addresses and be clear about which of them is in view when the bible speaks. Perhaps what I mean by that will become more apparent as I respond to your comment…

      JH: You used Galatians 4:6 multiple times to assert that Christians have always been sons of God and that the spirit is given only to those who are "already" sons.

      TETH: Yes. If God sends His Spirit into the heart “because ye ARE sons” then it is certain that sonship precedes regeneration, at least in some sense. More on that in a moment…

      SH: However, the very next verse (Gal 4:7) stands in direct opposition to that belief by saying that those who get the spirit "are NO LONGER SLAVES but sons." The implication here is that sons of God were in fact once slaves. It is only when they are given the spirit that they become sons and then are no longer slaves.

      TETH: This verse does not refer to the first instance of one’s sonship, but rather to the first cognitive understanding of one’s sonship. It is speaking of sonship in an EXPERIMENTAL sense rather than in a COVENANTAL sense. With this we establish that there is more than one way that someone could be said to be a son of God. Consider the example of sonship in nature. One may possess the mind and purpose to have a son and think of all the things that one intends to do in raising that son before that son is ever born. In the mind and purpose of the father, the son was a son before he was even born. If the father committed himself to doing certain things for that child (caring for him, teaching him, etc.) then he would have likewise established COVENANTAL SONSHIP based on his promised purpose in raising the child. If we can recognize that such things are true of mere men, how much more so can this be said of God, who declares the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done? (Isaiah 46:10). Indeed we are taught that God’s elect were chosen “in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4-5). That “in Him” is “in Christ.” So to suggest that there is only one way that someone can be “in Christ” is to take a view scripture that is too narrow to accommodate its full testimony. (For more on that subject you might want to watch my video entitled – “In Christ” Rightly Divided).

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    2. TETH ANSSWER 102

      TETH: So all of the elect are sons of God COVENANTALLY before they ever come into natural existence. We might refer to such an arrangement in the mind and purpose of God as COVENANTAL SONSHIP. It is this disposition from which their regeneration proceeded per Galatians 4:6. So they were regenerated as a subsequent function of God’s COVENANTAL purpose that was set forth “because they are sons” via covenant.

      TETH: But there are other facets of sonship found in scripture and we do well to rightly divide them lest we end up with untenable contradictions on the matter. I’ll pause here to state that if we fail to develop proper, non-contradictory, biblical definitions for these other dimensions of sonship then the result will be to set the testimony of Galatians 4:6 at odds with Galatians 4:7. I’m sure you’ll agree that this is unacceptable given that the scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35). So the very issue you raise with respect to verse 7 cannot be handled in the way that you suggest because that approach denies the testimony of verse 6. Rather than assert 7 over 6, as I believe you are doing, we must reconcile the two by recognizing that each has reference to a different facet of sonship. Verse 6 is speaking of COVENANTAL SONSHIP in the mind and purpose of God whereas verse 7 is speaking of EXPERIMENTAL SONSHIP wherein the truth of one’s sonship has become an experimental, cognitive reality to a regenerate NT church convert. “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” (Galatians 4:7) In other words “As a result of this COVENANTAL SONSHIP being worked out via your regeneration, faith, and belief in time, you have come to know EXPERIMENTAL SONSHIP as a vital reality in your life, faith being the primary evidence thereof.” This verse is calling out one’s own gospel experience in hearing the truth that they are a son and not a slave. It is gospel deliverance that is in view here – the cognizant affirmation of the gospel promises that attend a proper understanding of the gospel.

      TETH: Even as the prodigal son returned home thinking of himself as a mere slave and only later learned that he would be regarded as a son by his father, so the gospel informed delight in their understanding of the blessings of sonship which deliver them from that incorrect notion. It is important to note however, that the prodigal WAS a son even when he considered himself worthy of being treated as a slave. His failure to understanding his father’s true disposition towards him, while very a painful misunderstanding on his part, could do nothing to alter his father’s regard for him as a son, because he WAS a son already, just one who had broken fellowship with his father via disobedience. That is because at its core sonship is ever and always beholden to the actions of the father apart from anything the son ever does or recognizes. That is an incredibly important precept to embrace. Our experience or interpretation of things does not determine reality – it either embraces or rejects reality. But I digress….

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    3. TETH ANSWER 103

      TETH: It is important to call out the distinction between what occurs in the mind and purpose of God in establishing sonship for a chosen people before the foundation of the world in a COVENANTAL sense and what occurs in time wherein the truth of that sonship may be embraced and understood by one of those chosen sons through an EXPERIMENTAL encounter with the explicit gospel truth that informs one of their heavenly father’s plan to save them via the atoning intercession of Christ. Those are two different matters entirely. While it could be said that prior to regeneration, God’s elect were chosen SONS COVENANTALLY, it could not be said that they were SONS EXPERIMENTALLY at any point prior to their regeneration because prior to the new birth they lacked the faith required to have such experiences of their sonship.

      TETH: Returning to our natural example, it is easy to see that a son comes into natural existence at the moment of conception wherein a human life begins. This son, however, possesses no cognitive understanding of his state of sonship whatsoever. He is a son via genetics only, but he has no rational understanding of such. Later in life they may come to know their father in an experimental sense, learn things about him, come to recognize his voice, his face, etc. While as a newborn a father may look down and say, “There is my son.” It is only later in life that the son looks up and says, “Dada.” So EXPERIMENTAL sonship follows BIOLOGICAL sonship.

      TETH: That said, EXPERIMENTAL SONSHIP is an incredibly important facet of sonship – because it is by faith that we come to experience our heavenly father as a vital reality in our lives. Likewise it is by faith that we can be taught about the other dimensions of our sonship that long-predated both our new birth and our natural birth, such as COVENANTAL sonship via election BTFOTW. It is for this reason that the bible so frequently speaks of sonship in EXPERIMENTAL terms where it is associated with our exercise of faith. This is very much in view in a great many passages of scripture as well as in the verse you subsequently cite…

      JH: Also I think Galatians 3:26 is worth pointing out. "for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith." Once again, the clear implication here is that "sonship" is conditioned on being "In Christ." A person is not a son without first coming to be "in Christ" which of course happens THROUGH FAITH.

      TETH: This is speaking of one’s EXPERIENCE of sonship that occurs via faith. Apart from affirming this EXPERIMENTAL dimension of sonship, one has no means of affirming the preceding COVENANTAL SONSHIP that long-preceded it.

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    4. TETH ANSWER 104

      JH: To say that a person is FIRST a son and THEN subsequently gets in Christ, is robbing Christ of supremacy in salvation.

      TETH: All of God’s chosen people are sons COVENANTALLY before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4-5) If they are not FIRST sons COVENANTALLY then they will never be SONS EXPERIMENTALLY. If they are not “in Christ” COVENANTALLY by election (Ephesians 1:4-5) then they can never be “in Christ” EXPERIMENTALLY by faith. So again, you’ve got to recognize the different ways that the bible uses the phrase “in Christ” and rightly divide each of them. A quick study proves that no single, monolithic definition of that phrase is sufficient to cover the full breadth of its meaning. (Again, check out “In Christ” Rightly Divided for more on that.)

      TETH: As to the notion that COVENANTAL SONSHIP prior to any man’s EXPERIMENTAL SONSHIP is something that robs Christ of supremacy in salvation, I think that is completely baseless. The bible makes no bones about the fact that is a function of God’s glorious power that he was choosing people “in Christ” before the foundation of the world prior to anything they ever experienced or encountered by faith during their natural lives. Far from being that which “robs Christ of the supremacy in salvation,” it is that which ESTABLISHES Christ’s supremacy in salvation! We should praise God for it as it underscores that he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy (Exodus 33:19).

      JH: So it is clear from Galatians that believers have not ALWAYS been sons. We become sons when we come into relationship with Christ, and NOT before.

      TETH: I would state it this way. God’s chosen people have always been COVENANTAL SONS in the mind and purpose of God, but they have not always been EXPERIMENTAL SONS in the sense of knowing this truth until some point between their conception and death.

      JH: We become sons when we come into relationship with Christ, and NOT before.

      TETH: I agree with that statement, but would insist that you came into a COVENANTAL relationship with God long before you ever came into existence or exercised faith. Your relationship with God predates anything you ever experienced. We love him because he FIRST loved us (I John 4:19). As such I believe your definition of “relationship” is too narrow to embrace the bible’s full testimony on the matter. Such a view in the natural world would insist that there was no father/son relationship at conception but that the child only became a son in relationship with his father when he first believed he had a father. The bottom line is this, the genesis of the father/son relationship is ever and always the result of the actions of the father apart from and long before anything experienced by the son.

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    5. TETH ANSWER 105

      JH: And coming into relationship with Christ is "through" faith. Being a son is "through" faith. It's not the other way around - we don't get faith "through sonship" but we get sonship "through faith."

      TETH: Galatians 4:6 explicitly states that we get faith through precedent sonship – “and because ye are sons God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts crying, Abba, Father.” That is speaking of COVENANTAL SONSHIP and it precedes and is the cause of regeneration and faith whereby one may possess SONSHIP EXPERIMENTALLY. (Galatians 4:7)

      JH: Joh 1:12 "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God," Again, sonship here is clearly a condition of a person first believing and receiving Jesus. Sonship cannot possibly be something we have always possessed throughout eternity apart from first being in relationship with Christ.

      TETH: Again, your view posits a single, monolithic view of sonship that cannot accommodate the many facets of sonship described in the word of God – namely Galatians 4:6. You can’t just assert a definition of sonship that excludes that verse because you find other verses that seem to militate against it. They cannot be set at odds with each other. They must be reconciled to one another. I don’t see that your view makes any effort to do that at all and this is its undoing, IMO. If you’re going to have a logical and systematic Christian theology, you must posit an interpretation that reconciles the two. That is precisely what my view endeavors to do and I do not see where your position makes any attempt at doing that.

      JH: We cannot have sonship before we have Christ; before we are IN HIM.

      TETH: Ask yourself this – Are God’s chosen people “in Him” in some sense before the foundation of the world? (Ephesians 1:4-5) The answer is an unequivocal, “Yes!” In what sense are we “in Christ” before the foundation of the world? Are we “in Christ” by faith? No. We don’t even exist yet. Are we in Christ by church membership? Baptism? Discipleship? Obviously, not. We are only “in Christ” BTFOTW in a COVENANTAL sense. You see, salvation is a matter of an everlasting covenant that is ordered in all things and sure (II Samuel 23:5) and it is for this reason that the bible is able to speak of Jesus coming to “save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) That’s because there are covenantal sons that Christ came to deliver.

      TETH: So I would not deny that “we cannot have sonship before we have Christ; before we are IN HIM” as you state but would point out that we are “in Him” via COVENANT before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5) and we have Christ as our substitute from before the foundation of the world given that there are those unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity (Psalm 32:2).

      TETH: I believe that what you’re really saying is “We cannot have sonship before we BELIEVE gospel truth about Christ” which is a very common belief. But this is existentialism rather than Christian theology. It is the belief that something is not SO until a man believes that it is SO. The fact of the Christian faith is that God’s covenant is sure, it designs a chosen people, it was established prior to our existence, and it is true whether one of us is in a present state of believing it or not. That is the truth of salvation by covenant and it is the bedrock of salvation by sovereign grace, albeit one that is not particularly well known among most “sovereign grace” adherents in our time.

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    6. TETH ANSWER 106

      JH: Certainly there are many aspects of salvation I do not understand - and much of what you wrote is insightful to me. There are many things your wrote that I want to further ponder and meditate on. I appreciate your devotion to the scriptures.

      TETH: That is very kind of you to say, brother. And let me encourage you to press on in your studies of the word of God. I’m always encouraged by an encounter with another disciple of Christ who thinks these things are important enough to ponder them and to openly discuss them. I find far too little of that among most professing Christians. Consider the things I’ve laid out here for you: that there must be more than one sense in which someone can be regarded as a son and that this approach is non-contradictory as well as contextually and theologically valid. Check out my brief article on “In Christ” because I believe it demonstrates that using a single, monolithic definition of “in Christ” is too coarse to accommodate the scriptures usage of that phrase.

      TETH: Keep studying the word and pressing into the truths you find there. Whether or not you and I ever see eye to eye on the facets of SONSHIP, I am certain that your diligent study of the word of God will be an enormous asset to you as you seek the Lord and walk as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ in this wicked world.

      God bless,
      TETH

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    7. JH: I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I also want you to know that it is my desire to truly and sincerely consider what you have to say as a brother in Christ - who also has the spirit. You bring up some intriguing points that I want to meditate on and consider - rather than just hammering back rebuttals in a foolish attempt to simply prove "my point of view." I'm well aware that whatever I know of the scriptures, I don't yet know anything as I should - as Paul said in Corinthians.




      TETH: Again, your view posits a single, monolithic view of sonship that cannot accommodate the many facets of sonship described in the word of God – namely Galatians 4:6. You can’t just assert a definition of sonship that excludes that verse because you find other verses that seem to militate against it. They cannot be set at odds with each other. They must be reconciled to one another. I don’t see that your view makes any effort to do that at all and this is its undoing, IMO. If you’re going to have a logical and systematic Christian theology, you must posit an interpretation that reconciles the two. That is precisely what my view endeavors to do and I do not see where your position makes any attempt at doing that. 

      JH: I want to take some time to look into the Galatians 4:6 verse. My initial reaction is that I don’t find the order of that verse to be as convincing proof of an eternal, covenantal sonship as you are saying. But I will investigate that verse further for sure.

      I do feel however that you aren’t fairly acknowledging the many, many, many verses that clearly communicate faith as being the condition for receiving the spirit, sonship, righteousness, relationship with the father and son, etc. — rather than communicating faith to be something that is the result of faith, the spirit, sonship, righteousness, relationship. There are so many clear verses that show faith to be the precursor, and dismissing those as simply being about the “experience of an already possessed sonship” isn’t a satisfying answer to those verses to me. That answer just simply doesn’t solve issue that is set forth in those verses. An order is very clearly given by so many verses that I will list some of below. That order shows faith, over and over again to be the precursor to receiving of the spirit, sonship, etc.

      One of my biggest qualms with calvinistic thinking is how it so quickly and easily dismisses faith as simply being a “result” of “already having the spirit.” The Bible takes great pains to describe faith as being something THROUGH which the spirit, spiritual blessing, relationship with God comes, and not simply a fruit of already having the spirit, relationship with God and spiritual blessing.

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    8. TETH: Again, your view posits a single, monolithic view of sonship that cannot accommodate the many facets of sonship described in the word of God – namely Galatians 4:6

      JH: I don’t doubt or argue that there are different facets of sonship and of being “In Christ.” However I find it quite difficult to receive a “facet” of either of those concepts which diminishes the clear scriptural teaching of faith as being the precursor to those things rather than the result. I just don’t see the weight of scripture supporting the view that faith is a result of ALREADY POSSESSING spiritual life. I do see a very large weight of scripting supporting the belief that faith comes before spiritual life, and that spiritual life is in fact BY faith.

      “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or BY hearing with faith?” - Galatians 3:2

      Clearly the implication here is that they received the spirit by faith.

      “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” Ephesians 1:13

      Believers were sealed with the spirit when? WHEN they “heard” and “believed.”

      “…God’s righteousness THROUGH faith in Jesus…” Romans 3:22

      Faith doesn’t come as a result of already possessing righteousness, but righteousness comes as a result of faith.

      “…so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” - Galatians 3:14

      Again, Paul states multiple times a very clear order between faith and the spirit. The spirit is never said to come FIRST so that the Galatians would have faith. But Paul clearly communicates that the spirit comes as a result of faith.

      “…Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” - John 1:12

      This verse is of particular significance I think, and cannot be so quickly dismissed. Jesus, like Paul, shows multiple times the relationship between faith and the spirit - or faith and sonship. Like Paul, Jesus always precludes sonship and the receiving of the spirit with a person’s receiving of him or believing of him. There is always a response of the heart required (which in my view, is certainly not done by the mere act of a persons will and self determination. It is a reaction to God’s sovereign dispensing of Grace and enabling of repentance and faith)

      John 1:12 doesn’t imply at all that the sonship referred to here is simply an “experiential” sonship. He doesn’t say that anyone who believes will come to “experience the sonship that they ALREADY have.” Jesus very clearly and plainly says that those who believe will be given the right to BECOME sons. I see no room to garner from this verse that this “becoming” actually means “experiencing” of something that believers “already are”. IMO it is being clearly communicated that those who believe are ACTUALLY “becoming” something that they were not before, in any sense.

      “You refuse to come to me that you may have life.” - John 5:40

      Again, the order is not…. “You don’t have life, and because of that, you refuse to come to me.”

      “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” - John 7:38

      Again, like Paul, Jesus conditions the receiving of the spirit on FIRST believing.

      So again, I am not at all arguing that there are many facets of sonship and “in Christ” that I don’t grasp. I see in a mirror dimly. However, I don’t think that the many verses I gave can be simply dismissed as referring only to an “experiential” aspect of salvation. That view doesn’t really do anything to solve the problem of why faith is always described as a precursor to spiritual life, rather than the other way around. That to me is hugely significant.

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    9. TETH: In what sense are we “in Christ” before the foundation of the world?

      JH: God’s “choice” is Christ, and subsequently anyone who comes to be “in him” through faith. When the Bible describes election, and God’s “chosen,” I don’t believe the focus is on an individual selection of individual people by God, but rather, God chose Christ, and his will was to choose all “In Christ.” Christ IS God’s elect, and chosen one (1 Peter 2:6). We become God’s elect and chosen only to the extent that we become connected to the “chosen and elect one.” You see this same teaching in scripture with every other spiritual blessing (1 Corinthians 1:30). We become righteous only by becoming connected to the “righteous one.” We get peace only by coming into relationship with the one who “is himself our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).

      The Biblical focus of election is not on individual, handpicked persons. I believe the primary emphasis is on God’s handpicked selection of Christ, and subsequently his selection of all who come to be “in him.” So, when Ephesians says we were chosen “in him” i think what that means is that we weren’t chosen “apart from” Christ. We were only chosen as we came to be connected to Christ. So God was able to look forward from “before the foundation of the world” and to see all “in Christ” as if already being in relationship with those who would some day receive Jesus, and be “given the right to BECOME children of God.”

      TETH: I agree with that statement, but would insist that you came into a COVENANTAL relationship with God long before you ever came into existence or exercised faith.

      JH: Immediately I think of perhaps the greatest example of faith and covenant in the Bible - Abraham. Genesis describes Abraham as being a man who was responding to God in humility and obedience long before God had made covenant with him. Genesis begins telling us of Abrahams walk with God in chapter 11. In Chapter 15 Abraham FIRST believes God and it isn’t until chapter 17 when Abraham is 99 that God first makes covenant with him. God’s covenant was proceeded by Abraham’s faith, and so falls in line with Paul, Jesus and the scriptures testimony that a response to God is necessary in order to possess ANY spiritual blessing from God.

      So, in reply to what you said above, I appreciate your point, but I just don’t see scripture that supports the view that there is a sense in which we have ALWAYS been sons, and ALWAYS been in covenant with God in the sense which you are describing.

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    10. TETH ANSWER 201

      TETH: Your response reveals that you and I differ on a fundamental that is further upstream from the matter of faith that we’ve been discussing. Namely, we differ on what transpired in the garden and on man’s condition as a result of the fall. To state the matter very plainly, if we do not have a proper understanding of man’s condition as a result of the fall, then we will not have a proper view of what must be done to correct that fallen condition and who has to do that work. Plainer still, the curing of the sick requires only that one willingly an actively ingest the proper medicine whereas the resurrection of the dead requires a miraculous intervention in which the dead plays no active, participatory role whatsoever. The bible’s most explicit description of man in his fallen condition (the natural or unregenerate man) is found in Paul’s epistle to the Romans.

      “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18)

      TETH: That text establishes that man in his fallen state is utterly incapable of doing any of the “good things” (acceptance or receipt of truth, belief, repentance, etc.) that most of Christianity insist that man is at liberty to do to the eternal salvation of his soul. The state of abject depravity that Paul sets forth is the basis for the Nicodemian Precept - the truth that “except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Man’s fallen disposition is such that he CANNOT believe spiritual truth. Paul affirms this in his letter to the church at Corinth, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (I Corinthians 2:11) That verse makes it clear that for a man to receive and believe spiritual truth he must have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. It affirms that “except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” He goes on to state of man in his natural/fallen state, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Corinthians 2:14) This concept is repeatedly reinforced in the writings of Paul when he affirms that we are “dead in trespasses and in sins” (Ephesians 2:1), and that the “carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7), and that unregenerate men do not have faith (II Thessalonians 3:2).

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    11. TETH ANSWER 202

      TETH: To draw that out explicitly as it relates to your non-sovereign grace theology:

      - Paul says man is dead in trespasses and in sins. (Ephesians 2:1)
      - You say he can exercise faith to the salvation of his soul.

      - Paul says that faith is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
      - You say a man has faith BEFORE he has the Spirit.

      - Paul says that the carnal mind is enmity against God. (Romans 8:7)
      - You say that the carnal mind is capable of desiring God.

      - Paul says that the unregenerate cannot do good. (Romans 3:12)
      - You say that they are capable of doing the good thing of believing and repenting.

      - Paul says that all men have not faith. (II Thessalonians 3:2)
      - You say that all men are capable of exercising faith unto eternal salvation.

      TETH: Those contrasts should give you considerable pause with respect to the doctrine of salvation you are promoting. The bible teaches that man’s condition as a result of the fall was one of total incapacitation where spiritual matters are concerned. He is DEAD to spiritual things. Many protest by saying, “But he is ALIVE. He has natural life in the flesh. He can navigate his world, make decisions, etc.” This is true, but his freedom is limited to the domain of his nature, which is fallen, evil, and incapable of receiving spiritual truth (I Corinthians 2:14, Romans 8:7). Moreover, given that the flesh profiteth nothing where eternal salvation is concerned (John 6:63), and an unregenerate man is ever and only in the flesh which is unpleasing to God (Romans 8:8), it follows that anything that he might do in such a condition would remain unprofitable and unpleasing to God in such a condition. This observation proves that any system of salvation that relies upon decisions or actions of a man in the flesh prior to regeneration are utterly incapable of bringing forth the fruit of eternal salvation. Moreover, all such actions are undeniably functions of his will, which the bible explicitly excludes from having any participatory involvement in the matter of how one obtains the gift of eternal salvation, for it is “not of him that willeth” (Romans 9:16) and “not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man” (John 1:13).

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    12. TETH ANSWER 203

      TETH: So to summarize all of that :

      1. Fallen man is dead (spiritually incapacitated) as a result of the fall. (Eph 2:1)

      2. His fleshly actions are unprofitable unto salvation. (John 6:63)

      3. His will does not determine his eternal salvation. (John 1:13, Romans 9:16)

      4. His carnal mind is enmity against God. (Romans 8:7)

      5. He cannot see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. (John 3:3)

      6. He cannot receive spiritual truth and regards it as foolishness. (I Cor 2:14)

      7. He does not have the God given spiritual capacity of faith. (II Thes 3:2)

      8. He cannot do good. (Romans 3:12)

      9. He has no fear of God. (Romans 3:18)

      TETH: As a result man is in a state of total incapacitation with respect to anything spiritual and he stands in need of God’s resurrection power and mercy (regeneration / new birth) in order to change all of that. It is for this reason that salvation is by sovereign grace, because apart from a grace that saves its chosen object when it is without strength and ungodly (Romans 5:6) no man would ever be saved because he lacks the capacity and inclination to seek God (Psalm 10:4).

      JH: I want to take some time to look into the Galatians 4:6 verse. My initial reaction is that I don’t find the order of that verse to be as convincing proof of an eternal, covenantal sonship as you are saying. But I will investigate that verse further for sure.

      TETH: The eternal covenant of sonship is not so much established in Galatians 4:6 as it is referenced there. As to establishing a covenant of sonship, I would look at passages like, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). That passage very plainly speaks of the election of a people (“us”, “we”) and of God’s purpose in adopting them as children (i.e., sons). That is COVENANTAL SONSHIP in the mind and purpose of God.

      JH: I do feel however that you aren’t fairly acknowledging the many, many, many verses that clearly communicate faith as being the condition for receiving the spirit, sonship, righteousness, relationship with the father and son, etc. — rather than communicating faith to be something that is the result of faith, the spirit, sonship, righteousness, relationship. There are so many clear verses that show faith to be the precursor, and dismissing those as simply being about the “experience of an already possessed sonship” isn’t a satisfying answer to those verses to me. That answer just simply doesn’t solve issue that is set forth in those verses. An order is very clearly given by so many verses that I will list some of below. That order shows faith, over and over again to be the precursor to receiving of the spirit, sonship, etc.

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    13. TETH ANSWER 204

      JH: One of my biggest qualms with calvinistic thinking is how it so quickly and easily dismisses faith as simply being a “result” of “already having the spirit.” The Bible takes great pains to describe faith as being something THROUGH which the spirit, spiritual blessing, relationship with God comes, and not simply a fruit of already having the spirit, relationship with God and spiritual blessing.

      TETH: Again, your view posits a single, monolithic view of sonship that cannot accommodate the many facets of sonship described in the word of God – namely Galatians 4:6

      JH: I don’t doubt or argue that there are different facets of sonship and of being “In Christ.” However I find it quite difficult to receive a “facet” of either of those concepts which diminishes the clear scriptural teaching of faith as being the precursor to those things rather than the result. I just don’t see the weight of scripture supporting the view that faith is a result of ALREADY POSSESSING spiritual life. I do see a very large weight of scripting supporting the belief that faith comes before spiritual life, and that spiritual life is in fact BY faith.

      TETH: Once one establishes the biblical truth that there are many facets to sonship, it is no longer necessary to apply the matter of “faith” to all aspects of sonship. That observation alone dismantles the logic upon which all of the preceding interpretations insist.

      “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or BY hearing with faith?” - Galatians 3:2

      JH: Clearly the implication here is that they received the spirit by faith.

      TETH: In what sense was sonship received by faith? It wasn’t VITALLY received by faith because until someone has spiritual life via regeneration they do not possess faith which is a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God required to receive such truth (I Corinthians 2:11, Galatians 5:22, II Thessalonians 3:2). It follows that the sense in which the Spirit was received by the “hearing of faith” has to do with one’s explicit cognition of the truth of one’s regenerate state that comes as a direct result of gospel instruction. Those people received the Spirit in the sense that gospel truth informed them of his preceding work which made “hearing” and thus instruction a possibility for them in a way that it is not for the unregenerate (I Corinthians 2:11).

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    14. TETH ANSWER 205

      TETH: Stated plainly, the unregenerate do not HEAR spiritual truth (I Corinthians 2:11, Psalm 10:4) and thus they cannot receive the Spirit by faith because they do not possess faith.

      “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,” Ephesians 1:13

      JH: Believers were sealed with the spirit when? WHEN they “heard” and “believed.”

      TETH: The sealing of the Holy Spirit in this passage does not have anything to do with regeneration. It has to do with a man becoming cognitively aware of the promises of God that attend proper gospel instruction namely that nothing can separate them from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:29-39)

      “…God’s righteousness THROUGH faith in Jesus…” Romans 3:22

      JH: Faith doesn’t come as a result of already possessing righteousness, but righteousness comes as a result of faith.

      TETH: This text makes reference to God’s people being righteous as manifest through the primary evidence of regeneration – the possession of God given faith. I might say that you’re alive through the breathing of air, but this does not in any sense establish that you were not alive until you began to breathe. It simply establishes that breathing is an evidence of the life you currently possess. It is a logical fallacy to assert otherwise.

      “…so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” - Galatians 3:14

      JH: Again, Paul states multiple times a very clear order between faith and the spirit. The spirit is never said to come FIRST so that the Galatians would have faith. But Paul clearly communicates that the spirit comes as a result of faith.

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    15. TETH ANSWER 206

      TETH: Again, no one has faith until they have the Spirit (I Corinthians 2:11) and this truth must shape our understanding of that phrase. In what sense can someone receive the promised Spirit through faith? They receive it as a matter of cognition via proper instruction in gospel truth. A regenerate infant such as Abijah (I Kings 14:13) already has the indwelling Spirit of God, but had he lived to the age of instruction he could have receive that Spirit in the since of being instructed in the scriptures so that he might understand such things as the bible describes them. Just as someone can be born of God and eternally saved but can be considered a “disciple indeed” by continuing in the word of God, in the same fashion a man can be born again, but can be one who receives the spirit “indeed” through instruction that manifests itself in understanding and obedience “in deed.” Again, these all design different dimensions of sonship and your hermeneutical error is that you admit to the existence of such dimensions while insisting that these examples must have reference to ALL of them. That is a fallacious line of reasoning, IMO.

      “…Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” - John 1:12

      JH: This verse is of particular significance I think, and cannot be so quickly dismissed. Jesus, like Paul, shows multiple times the relationship between faith and the spirit - or faith and sonship. Like Paul, Jesus always precludes sonship and the receiving of the spirit with a person’s receiving of him or believing of him. There is always a response of the heart required (which in my view, is certainly not done by the mere act of a persons will and self determination. It is a reaction to God’s sovereign dispensing of Grace and enabling of repentance and faith)

      TETH: The very next verse states that such people “were born” (past completed action with ongoing results). That is one of the strongest texts in the bible for establishing that regeneration precedes the exercise of faith in time. To suggest otherwise is to admit that reception of Christ came before they had faith, or to put it more plainly it is to state that “except a man see and receive the kingdom of God, he cannot be born again.” That this is precisely the oppose of what the Lord Jesus Christ taught should give you considerable pause, IMO.

      JH: John 1:12 doesn’t imply at all that the sonship referred to here is simply an “experiential” sonship. He doesn’t say that anyone who believes will come to “experience the sonship that they ALREADY have.” Jesus very clearly and plainly says that those who believe will be given the right to BECOME sons. I see no room to garner from this verse that this “becoming” actually means “experiencing” of something that believers “already are”. IMO it is being clearly communicated that those who believe are ACTUALLY “becoming” something that they were not before, in any sense.

      TETH: In what sense are they give the “right to become sons of God”? Is it in the sense that they DO something to obtain sonship? This notion is contrary to the depravity of man established in the word of God (Romans 3:10-18), contrary to the natural man’s enmity against God (Romans 8:7), contrary to his inability to receive spiritual truth (I Corinthians 2:14), and contrary to the pride of his countenance that will not allow him to seek after God who is not in all his thoughts (Psalm 10:4). Those are enormous impediments to your position and they force a more nuanced handling of what is meant by being given the “right to become sons of God.”

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    16. TETH ANSWER 207

      “You refuse to come to me that you may have life.” - John 5:40

      JH: Again, the order is not…. “You don’t have life, and because of that, you refuse to come to me.”

      TETH: Jesus point to these non-elect men is not that someone who is dead in trespasses and in sins must come to God in order to get life. His point is that He is the source of all life and if they were going to come somewhere to get it, He would be the place to come and that they are utterly unwilling to do so. The truth is that ALL MEN in their natural state are unwilling to come to Christ to obtain life – absolutely ALL MEN (Psalm 10:4, Romans 3:10-18, Romans 8:7). It follows that if someone is going to have life it will require God’s merciful intervention because man’s will can never get the job done, or as Jesus put it, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

      “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” - John 7:38

      JH: Again, like Paul, Jesus conditions the receiving of the spirit on FIRST believing.

      TETH: Totally false. Faith is a fruit of the spirit of God (Galatians 5:22) and unregenerate men DO NOT HAVE FAITH. It follows that any system of salvation that requires man to exercise faith in order to obtain the gift of regeneration is self-contradictory. That’s at the heart of the error your interpretation stems from – you insist upon natural man having abilities that the bible states he does not possess.

      JH: So again, I am not at all arguing that there are many facets of sonship and “in Christ” that I don’t grasp. I see in a mirror dimly. However, I don’t think that the many verses I gave can be simply dismissed as referring only to an “experiential” aspect of salvation.

      TETH: To be clear, I’m not “dismissing” them, I’m rightly dividing them in a way that is not contradictory to the broader testimony of scripture (John 3:3, I Corinthians 2:14, II Thessalonians 3:2, Romans 3:10-18, 8:7, etc.)

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    17. TETH ANSWER 208

      JH: That view doesn’t really do anything to solve the problem of why faith is always described as a precursor to spiritual life, rather than the other way around. That to me is hugely significant.

      TETH: Faith is NOT always described as a precursor to spiritual life – in fact it is not EVER described as a precursor to spiritual life once the word is rightly divided using the fundamental precept that the unregenerate DO NOT HAVE FAITH (II Thessalonians 3:2, Romans 8:7, etc.). That observation is the complete undoing of your every assertion and it forces a more precise handling of what is meant by those preceding texts.

      JH: God’s “choice” is Christ, and subsequently anyone who comes to be “in him” through faith.

      TETH: That is not what the text says at all. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4) That verse is not talking about the “choice is Christ” – it’s stating that “he hath chosen us in Him.” That text states that God chose a people (the elect) and this concept is liberally attested to in the word of God provided one is willing to take a sober view of the bible that is not hobbled by Christian traditions.

      JH: When the Bible describes election, and God’s “chosen,” I don’t believe the focus is on an individual selection of individual people by God, but rather, God chose Christ, and his will was to choose all “In Christ.”

      TETH: God chose a bunch of individuals to save. They are referred to as the “elect” in manifold places (Matthew 24:22,24,31, Mark 13:20,22,27, Luke 18:7, Romans 8:33, Colossians 3:12, II Timothy 2:10, Titus 1:1, I Peter 1:2, 2:6, II John 1:1, II John 1:13) as well as by many other terms such as “sheep” (John 10) and “his people” (Matthew 1:21). The bible is VERY clear on this point.

      JH: Christ IS God’s elect, and chosen one (1 Peter 2:6).

      TETH: Certainly true. But this is not the ONLY way that the bible uses the term “elect.” In many, many, many places (previously cited) that term refers to God’s chosen people, not to Christ himself. So this is another area where you must acquire a more careful handling of the term if you are to avoid taking a singular meaning and using it in all instances – which distorts the meaning of the text in a great many places.

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    18. TETH ANSWER 209

      JH: We become God’s elect and chosen only to the extent that we become connected to the “chosen and elect one.”

      TETH: Yes. And God made that connection in election before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-6) and as such neither you nor I had anything to do with that.

      JH: You see this same teaching in scripture with every other spiritual blessing (1 Corinthians 1:30). We become righteous only by becoming connected to the “righteous one.” We get peace only by coming into relationship with the one who “is himself our peace” (Ephesians 2:14).

      TETH: Brother, connections made “before the foundation of the world” are responsible for our connection with God, and we had nothing to do with that. Nothing whatsoever. Until you understand that truth, I say this with all gravity and sincerity, you do not understand the salvation by sovereign grace taught in the scriptures.

      JH: The Biblical focus of election is not on individual, handpicked persons.

      TETH: Balderdash.

      JH: I believe the primary emphasis is on God’s handpicked selection of Christ, and subsequently his selection of all who come to be “in him.” So, when Ephesians says we were chosen “in him” i think what that means is that we weren’t chosen “apart from” Christ. We were only chosen as we came to be connected to Christ.

      TETH: Complete nonsense, brother. This occurred before the foundation of the world. Moreover God’s mercy is shown apart from anything good we ever do like “choose to follow him” (Romans 9:16, Exodus 33:19)

      JH: So God was able to look forward from “before the foundation of the world” and to see all “in Christ” as if already being in relationship with those who would some day receive Jesus, and be “given the right to BECOME children of God.”

      TETH: False. Your entire soteriology rests on the foundation of a fallen man’s ability to seek God. The bible utterly obliterates that position (Psalm 10:4, Romans 3:10-18). Ask yourself this – can the man of Romans 3 seek God? A sober answer to that questions forces a right turn where you theology is concerned. I believe that is the single most important question on the path of spiritual progress. It is so important that unless you arrive at a proper answer you will persist in error and spiritual growth where understanding the truth of the Lord’s work of salvation is concerned.

      TETH: The bottom line is that you came into a COVENANTAL relationship with God long before you ever came into physical existence in this world, must less ever exercised faith in gospel truth.

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    19. TETH ANSWER 210

      JH: Immediately I think of perhaps the greatest example of faith and covenant in the Bible - Abraham. Genesis describes Abraham as being a man who was responding to God in humility and obedience long before God had made covenant with him.

      TETH: The Lord’s covenant is an everlasting covenant. It existed in the mind and purpose of God from before the foundation of the world. There is a difference between God making a covenant with Abraham in the sense of having committed to doing it and God making a covenant with Abraham in the sense of having explicitly revealed it to Abraham. Again this perfectly mirrors my statements regarding the matter of faith. Faith is the vital capacity whereby men can obtain spiritual instruction. As we are instructed in truth we are “receiving the Spirit” in manifold ways – but not in the sense of regeneration. We had to be regenerate to have the spiritual capacity of faith required for spiritual instruction. So there is a difference between receiving the Spirit in regeneration (which requires no preceding faith neither could it) and receiving the Spirit in instruction (which requires the ears to hear truth – faith – and an encounter with truth) and receiving the Spirit in deed (by putting those things into practice in our lives). Those distinctions are biblical and essential to a proper understanding that a singular view of “receiving the Spirit = regeneration” is unable to accommodate without creating contradictions elsewhere in the scriptures.

      JH: Genesis begins telling us of Abrahams walk with God in chapter 11. In Chapter 15 Abraham FIRST believes God and it isn’t until chapter 17 when Abraham is 99 that God first makes covenant with him.

      TETH: False. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” (Hebrews 11:8) Abraham left Ur “by faith” and unregenerate men do not have faith (II Thessalonians 3:2, Romans 8:7, 3:10-18). It follows that Abraham believed God LONG BEFORE Genesis 17. As a result you’ve got to develop a less ham fisted approach to handling the text that your statement sets forth.

      JH: God’s covenant was proceeded by Abraham’s faith, and so falls in line with Paul, Jesus and the scriptures testimony that a response to God is necessary in order to possess ANY spiritual blessing from God.

      TETH: False, per the fact that the covenant predates history, while not being revealed until later in time.

      JH: So, in reply to what you said above, I appreciate your point, but I just don’t see scripture that supports the view that there is a sense in which we have ALWAYS been sons, and ALWAYS been in covenant with God in the sense which you are describing

      TETH: God’s chosen people (the elect) have been sons COVENANTALLY (that is, in the mind and purpose of God) from before the foundation of the world. Until you embrace that truth, you’ll remain unable to properly understand the other dimensions of sonship and how faith is involved in them.

      JH: . I will post this back to your article. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply :) Jordan

      TETH: May God bless our studies and understanding of his word.

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    20. TETH: That text establishes that man in his fallen state is utterly incapable of doing any of the “good things” (acceptance or receipt of truth, belief, repentance, etc.) that most of Christianity insist that man is at liberty to do to the eternal salvation of his soul.

      Left to himself man cannot seek God, but that's just the thing, God has not left any man to himself. God gives man his "day of visitation," and when God chooses to grant man repentance, man is then enabled to respond to what God is doing. Man is able to "humble HIMSELF" when Gods mighty hand is on him. (1 PETER 5:6 - 1 Kings 21:29).

      Revelation 2:21
      Luke 19:44
      Proverbs 1:20-33
      John 12:35

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    21. Man is incapable of working righteousness by his own power and choosing. The Bible is clear on that and I agree with you. However, the Bible is also very clear that man is fully responsible to RESPOND to Gods sovereign dispensation of the light of his word and conviction of his spirit. Man is made RESPONSE-ABLE, by God - So.. he is ABLE to RESPOND. It's not due to a persons own personal righteousness or something meritorious in them - the Bible never speaks of it that way. The Bible is perfectly ok with giving man the responsibility of "choosing the fear of the Lord," because that choice in and of itself is not a meritorious righteous work. The Bible clearly teaches man is made capable of turning to God by an act of their will, but at the same time the Bible doesn't communicate that this "turning" then earns them Gods approval or that it is a meritoriously righteous work. So the doctrine of man's depravity can be upheld, while at the same time not denying the clear scriptural teaching of man's responsibility. To rightly divide the scriptures, both of these clear doctrines must be acknowledged.

      The Bible is very clear that God gives man a day of visitation, he grants "spaces" of time to repent (Revelation 2) and in doing so he makes them capable to turn to him. Not by an act of righteousness in themselves, but as a response to HIS righteousness. When enabled by God, man can choose to turn to him or harden himself to him. The scriptures speak for themselves on this point. I would again point you to Proverbs 1 as one of many clear scriptures that communicate this. Particularly Proverbs 1:9 which says "Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,"

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    22. The scriptures continuously communicate this same understanding. That God "stretches out his hand" in an offer of repentance to man. Some receive him, and others refuse him. Those who refuse "reject the purpose of God for themselves" 7:30.

      The truth that "God is love" is able to be seen more clearly when we understand that God truly has a "purpose" for every man, and he has a real desire for their salvation and offers a SINCERE call.

      Proverbs says God reproves, calls, stretches out his hand, gives counsel, and then he is rejected.

      The scriptures teach a responsibility of man to "turn." Whatever that "turning" is, it is something different than an act of meritorious righteousness. This idea is not saying that a dead man can bear the fruit of the spirit... this "turning" is something different than the fruit of the spirit. If I was saying that man was required to perform an act of spiritually "alive" righteousness in order to get to God, then you would be right in refuting what I'm saying. But that's not what I'm saying, and you'd be misunderstanding me if you thought it was. The "turning" or "humbling" that the Lord requires of us is not an act of spiritual life that we are performing by our own abilities. It is simply a response to God, enabled by the knowledge of him that he has made and does make available to all. That doctrine can be upheld while at the same time maintaining a doctrine of depravity. The doctrine of depravity doesn't necessitate that man cannot choose to turn to God when God presents them with the opportunity. To say it does is to say something the scriptures don't say.

      The Bible very boldly and unashamedly teaches that man is indeed responsible to turn to God and - listen - believe - receive - in a response to the knowledge of God and his "word." If the Bible has no problem saying plainly that man is able to choose him, then why should we?

      Joshua 24:15
      Proverbs 1:29
      Hebrews 12:25
      Luke 13:34 -

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    23. TETH: ....The state of abject depravity that Paul sets forth is the basis for the Nicodemian Precept - the truth that “except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

      JH: 1 PETER 1:23 "since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;"

      Yes we must be born again to see the kingdom. How are we born again? PETER says by the word of God. How do? Romans 10:17 reveals that the word comes to produce faith. Which brings us right back to Galatians 3:5 which tells us that when faith comes, the spirit then comes. So we are born again not by FIRST hearing the word, which produces faith, which brings the spirit which regenerates us and gives us "new birth."

      We must be born again to see the kingdom, and we are born again by the word of God through faith.

      TETH: (1 Corinthians 2:11) That verse makes it clear that for a man to receive and believe spiritual truth he must have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.

      JH: It does not and cannot - or else it would be contradicting the clear order of Galatians 3:5 and the many other verses I provided in my last post.

      The scriptures repeatedly proclaim that faith comes first and then the spirit.

      TETH: This concept is repeatedly reinforced in the writings of Paul when he affirms that we are “dead in trespasses and in sins” (Ephesians 2:1), and that the “carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7), and that unregenerate men do not have faith (II Thessalonians 3:2).

      Yes, the depravity of man is a reinforced teaching in the Bible. Left to himself, man will not turn to God. However, there is no teaching in the Bible that concludes that God had actually left man to himself. He hasn't left man to himself. Our God is love. Jesus said it best... "While you have the light, walk in the light lest the darkness overtakes you."

      God extends light, and that light can be rejected and refused and ignored. To those who ignore the light and don't "walk in it," God allows darkness to overtake them and their opportunity for repentance is withdrawn. Though, God is able to grant repentance again if he wills in his own time and way.

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    24. TETH: Paul says that faith is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
      - You say a man has faith BEFORE he has the Spirit.

      JH: Its not me saying it man! What else do I do with the verses I gave you? Paul says the spirit comes "BY" hearing with faith. He says we are sons "THROUGH" faith! Jesus says we are given the right to become sons if we receive him. Of course I say faith comes before the spirit. Because Paul, Jesus, Solomon, John, and many more do.

      JH: You bring up Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 2 multiple times to refer to the "carnal mind." It must be recognized that both of those passages in context are clearly dealing with believers. It is the believer Paul refers to in Romans 8 who's mind, when on the flesh, is enmity toward God. It's believers in 1 Corinthians 2, who are carnal, and therefore unable to receive or understand the things of God. You argue from these verses that the unbeliever is carnal and unable to receive spiritual things - this is true - but you must recognize that while that IS true about unbelievers, the focus is on believers in these passages.


      It is the Christian who Paul says is carnal, and unable to receive spiritual truth (while in that state of mind). And it is the Christian in Romans 8 who Paul says has a mind that is at enmity with God while set on the flesh. This is hugely significant and you cannot leave this point out!

      Concerning the mind that is "set" on the flesh in Romans 8 - who is the one who sets the mind on the flesh? God? Or the individual persons Paul wrote to?

      The individuals of course. God will not set a persons mind on the flesh! And he also won't set a persons mind on the spirit. He will provide the opportunity to set the mind of the spirit but the responsibility of doing the "setting" is on us. That "setting" is our responsibility. Or in other words - it's our "response" to HIS "ability."


      JH: It is also worth noting your usage of 2 Thessalonians 2 is a bit unwarranted I think. It says not all men have faith or have "the faith." This means very little in the way of your argument. Paul is simply communicating that there are wicked and evil men, because they don't have faith - or "the faith." There is no implication here that it is impossible for them to have faith. Or that they cannot ever have faith.

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    25. JH: Choice. The analogy of death used to explain our spiritual condition in the Bible can be taken to mean things that the scriptures never intended.

      I am limited in my free will to choose by what is available to choose. I can't choose to be on Mars, because I have no ability to make that happen. I am limited in my choice In that way. I have no ability to choose to go to Mars, simply as an act of the will. No Matter the effort or exertion I put into it, it is simply out of my grasp and above my ability.

      However, if the means to get to Mars are provided, if a spacecraft is designed and built, if astronauts are trained and prepared to fly the ship and all the preparations are made for me to go as a passenger and I'm given the invite, then I can indeed choose to go to Mars. This choice has nothing to do with my abilities or my own intellect. The praise and glory for getting to Mars would go entirely to the ones who built the ship, made preparations, and navigated/flew the craft. If someone was to come up to me and say - "wow, you sure are something special. Good job getting yourself all the way to Mars." - That would be insane. No one in their right mind would give me ANY credit. Nether would I give myself credit.

      In the same way, if you will stay with the analogy... depravity implies that I am incapable of making the choice to "go to Mars." But it doesn't mea. That I'm incapable of making the choice to go if all of the arrangements are made FOR me.


      TETH: The very next verse states that such people “were born” (past completed action with ongoing results). That is one of the strongest texts in the bible for establishing that regeneration precedes the exercise of faith in time.

      JH: You are putting your own understanding on when the birth happened. Your assuming that the birth happened before the receiving of Christ. That's not in this passage though. The "being born" came after the receiving. It wasn't due to their own "willing or working" like Romans 9 says but "of God. Meaning, their birth was by grace. It wasn't a result of works but was by faith.

      Interesting how the Bible contrasts faith and works... As if they are two opposite things. Yet when I say that a person simply believes in Jesus for salvation and sonship, you claim that I believe man does a "work" for his salvation.

      So, Paul says that if salvation is by faith, then it is not by works. But in essence Calvinism says "if it's by faith, then it IS by works." Strange.

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    26. TETH ANSWER 301

      TETH: That text establishes that man in his fallen state is utterly incapable of doing any of the “good things” (acceptance or receipt of truth, belief, repentance, etc.) that most of Christianity insist that man is at liberty to do to the eternal salvation of his soul.

      JH: Left to himself man cannot seek God, but that's just the thing, God has not left any man to himself.

      TETH: God has left all of the non-elect to themselves. He has left them in their unregenerate state wherein they will not seek after God (Psalm 10:4). The non-elect were not chosen unto salvation, do not have Christ as their intercessor, and do not have the Spirit’s regeneration whereby they would possess the spiritual capacity of faith required to participate in spiritual activities.

      JH: God gives man his "day of visitation," and when God chooses to grant man repentance, man is then enabled to respond to what God is doing.

      TETH: God does not regenerate all men, neither did he covenant to do so. Apart from regeneration man lacks faith and all sincere, spiritual repentance is based upon faith (Hebrews 11:6).

      JH: Man is able to "humble HIMSELF" when Gods mighty hand is on him. (1 PETER 5:6 - 1 Kings 21:29). Revelation 2:21, Luke 19:44, Proverbs 1:20-33, John 12:35

      TETH: A regenerate man has the ability to humbly submit to God in faith, but this is not true of every man as many are unregenerate and always will be.

      JH: Man is incapable of working righteousness by his own power and choosing. The Bible is clear on that and I agree with you. However, the Bible is also very clear that man is fully responsible to RESPOND to Gods sovereign dispensation of the light of his word and conviction of his spirit.

      TETH: Man is ACCOUNTABLE to God (Matthew 12:36) and should submit to God to make such an humble submission. But apart from regeneration he lacks the ability to respond and being accountable does not establish that one is capable. A penniless man may order an expensive meal at a restaurant but this is no proof that he has the means to pay the bill. Moreover the bible explicitly speaks of such unregenerate men and that their very purpose in creation is found in their eternal condemnation – “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.” (Proverbs 16:4)

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    27. TETH ANSWER 302

      JH: Man is made RESPONSE-ABLE, by God - So.. he is ABLE to RESPOND.

      TETH: The bible does not use the term “responsible” in reference to man. Nor does it teach that all men are “able” to “respond.” In fact it teaches quite the opposite. “He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.” (John 8:47) In this passage we see that these men are UNABLE to hear (spiritually discern and believe) what Christ taught. Jesus teaches the very opposite of what your doctrine asserts. He says that they don’t hear because they’re not of God. Your doctrine insists that any man can hear whether he’s born of God or not and it is only his personal decision that prevents him from believing. That is contrary to the Lord’s instruction in the matter.

      JH: It's not due to a person’s own personal righteousness or something meritorious in them - the Bible never speaks of it that way. The Bible is perfectly ok with giving man the responsibility of "choosing the fear of the Lord," because that choice in and of itself is not a meritorious righteous work.

      TETH: Simply saying that, “making a right choice is not meritorious” does not eliminate the evident fact that making a RIGHT choice most certainly IS meritorious. This is a very common technique employed by those who insist upon your theology, but it is evidently false. Consider this – does God order men to believe? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31) That statement is in the imperative mood – it is a command. Thus anyone who makes the right choice to believe is obeying a command of God and obeying a command of God is a meritorious act; undeniably so. There’s just no way to credibly assert that making a right choice is not a meritorious act, brother. That line of reasoning is totally false.

      JH: The Bible clearly teaches man is made capable of turning to God by an act of their will, but at the same time the Bible doesn't communicate that this "turning" then earns them Gods approval or that it is a meritoriously righteous work.

      TETH: False again. The bible says that man’s salvation is “not of him that willeth” (Romans 9:16) and that it is “not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man” (John 1:12). The moment you involve man’s will in how he obtains eternal salvation you are at odds with the bible.

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    28. TETH ANSWER 303

      JH: So the doctrine of man's depravity can be upheld, while at the same time not denying the clear scriptural teaching of man's responsibility.

      TETH: Man is totally depraved and incapable of spiritual capacities until he is regenerated (Romans 3:10-18, John 3:3). In such a state he is not “responsible” (in the sense of “response able” as you insist) neither does the bible ever refer to him as such. He is “accountable” in that he will be required to give an account for his actions (Matthew 12:36). There is no conflict between depravity and accountability.

      JH: To rightly divide the scriptures, both of these clear doctrines must be acknowledged.

      TETH: Wrong. Man’s “responsibility” (his “ability to respond” as you define it) is NOT a teaching of the bible at all. The bible teaches mans IRRESPONSIBILITY as a result of human depravity and that he will nonetheless be held accountable for his actions. Only if a man is born again can he see the kingdom of God sufficient to be convicted of his own sinful, wretched condition.

      JH: The Bible is very clear that God gives man a day of visitation, he grants "spaces" of time to repent (Revelation 2) and in doing so he makes them capable to turn to him.

      TETH: Revelation 2 is addressing churches with respect to their wayward practices. It is not addressing all of humanity with respect to their eternal salvation. That is an enormously important contextual qualifier that nullifies your use of the reference to “space” in that text. Moreover, being granted “space” to repent in no way establishes that man has any capacity to repent. I could be given “space” to bid at an auction but this is no proof that I have the money to make the purchase. So your line of reasoning proceeds from two flawed premises: 1) That Revelation is dealing with eternal salvation, and 2) that being given time to do something implies that one is able to do it. Both of those premises are incorrect as is the theological conclusion you draw from them.

      JH: Not by an act of righteousness in themselves, but as a response to HIS righteousness. When enabled by God, man can choose to turn to him or harden himself to him. The scriptures speak for themselves on this point. I would again point you to Proverbs 1 as one of many clear scriptures that communicate this. Particularly Proverbs 1:9 which says "Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the LORD,"

      TETH: They hated knowledge because they have no capacity for anything else, being unregenerate and enmity against God (Romans 8:7). That text makes my point precisely.

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    29. TETH ANSWER 304

      JH: The scriptures continuously communicate this same understanding. That God "stretches out his hand" in an offer of repentance to man. Some receive him, and others refuse him. Those who refuse "reject the purpose of God for themselves" 7:30.

      TETH: The scriptures do not communicate this, though I am well aware of the passages of scripture that many employ to support this notion. I have written on this topic on my blog in response to John Murray’s famous tome: The Free Offer of the Gospel. In that article I examine the scriptural basis that is set forth as the “evidence” for the well-meant offer by that doctrine’s most lauded proponent. In so doing I prove that every one of those texts is either irrelevant or used out of context to establish that the case for the WMO rests on no biblical foundation whatsoever, provided we are willing to avoid those crass errors by right division. I invite you to give it a listen…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3cDQSyluj8

      JH: The truth that "God is love" is able to be seen more clearly when we understand that God truly has a "purpose" for every man, and he has a real desire for their salvation and offers a SINCERE call.

      TETH: Does God love those he sends to hell? (Romans 8:31-39) Does his purpose include having made some men for the day of evil? (Proverbs 16:4)

      JH: Proverbs says God reproves, calls, stretches out his hand, gives counsel, and then he is rejected.

      TETH: Let’s assume for a moment that Proverbs 1 is making reference to eternal salvation. Who can hear such a call, the regenerate man who has the ears to hear via regeneration (John 3:3) or the unregenerate man whose prideful countenance will not seek after God? (Psalm 10:4) The answer to that question is very clear. Consider this, if you are in a burning house and I know that you don’t have a phone, would you consider my efforts to save you SINCERE if I said, “I tried to CALL you”? Why would you accuse God of such folly? The fact is that God did not choose to save all of humanity (Ephesians 1:4-5). He did not send Christ to die for all of humanity (John 10:11,26). Nor does he send his Spirit to regenerate all of humanity (Galatians 4:6).

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    30. TETH ANSWER 305

      JH: The scriptures teach a responsibility of man to "turn." Whatever that "turning" is, it is something different than an act of meritorious righteousness.

      TETH: Wrong on both counts. The bible never states that man is “responsible” in the sense of “able to respond” as you define it. It teaches that man is IRRESPONSIBLE in that he lacks the ability to respond to spiritual things in his fallen condition (Romans 3:10-18, 8:7, I Corinthians 2:14). Moreover, any act of “turning” from sin and choosing to obey God is a meritorious act by the fact that it is obedience to the imperative to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 16:31) Correcting those errors should be your first order of business.

      JH: This idea is not saying that a dead man can bear the fruit of the spirit... this "turning" is something different than the fruit of the spirit.

      TETH: What you are suggesting is a form of prevenient grace. I have written on why that concept is unscriptural as well and I invite you to examine that article.

      http://theearstohear.blogspot.com/2014/02/prevenient-grace.html

      TETH: For a man to “turn” he must believe the testimony set before him that admonishes him to turn. That requires that he have FAITH which is a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Apart from BELIEVING the admonition to repent, he cannot repent because he regards such things as foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14). So your system of prevenient grace that makes a man able but does not actually give him eternal life or the fruit of the spirit is proven inadequate to the task. That belief is an unscriptural contrivance, not the teaching of scripture. I’ll state this again – until you understand man’s condition as a result of the fall, you will never understand the biblical doctrine of salvation.

      JH: If I was saying that man was required to perform an act of spiritually "alive" righteousness in order to get to God, then you would be right in refuting what I'm saying. But that's not what I'm saying, and you'd be misunderstanding me if you thought it was. The "turning" or "humbling" that the Lord requires of us is not an act of spiritual life that we are performing by our own abilities. It is simply a response to God, enabled by the knowledge of him that he has made and does make available to all.

      TETH: So in your system of salvation, “repentance” is done by a man who is not spiritually alive. He is therefore a man who is dead in trespasses and in sins (Ephesians 2:1). Such a man is admittedly not “in the Spirit” because he lacks the spirit of God by definition (Romans 8:9). It follows that everything he does is done “in the flesh” and the Lord Jesus Christ explicitly states that the flesh is unprofitable where eternal salvation is concerned (John 6:63). That system cannot save anyone.

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    31. TETH ANSWER 306

      JH: That doctrine can be upheld while at the same time maintaining a doctrine of depravity. The doctrine of depravity doesn't necessitate that man cannot choose to turn to God when God presents them with the opportunity. To say it does is to say something the scriptures don't say.

      TETH: With this statement you have defined “total depravity” as “partial depravity.” Properly defined “total depravity” designs an abject state of human inability to actively and willingly participate in the acquisition of spiritual life. Your incorrect definition of “total depravity” is a means of having your cake and eating it too. Truth be told you DO NOT believe in “total depravity” and you should stop trying to claim that you do. You believe that man is “response able” and that admission alone proves that what you intend by “total depravity” is not remotely what that phrase means in theological discourse. Stated bluntly, “total depravity” and “response ability” are mutually exclusive.

      JH: The Bible very boldly and unashamedly teaches that man is indeed responsible to turn to God and - listen - believe - receive - in a response to the knowledge of God and his "word."

      TETH: The bible never uses the term “responsible” in this way.

      JH: If the Bible has no problem saying plainly that man is able to choose him, then why should we?

      TETH: The bible never “plainly says” that man is able to choose him. It plainly states that man in his fallen condition is NOT able to choose him. “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalm 10:4) “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10-12) “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” (Romans 8:7) Those verses completely destroy the false notion that every man is “able to choose him” as you insist. Let’s look at the following verses…

      Joshua 24:15 – Spoken to Israel, not all of humanity. The context of the choice is not between serving the Lord or not, it is totally in the domain of NOT serving God. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD…” In other words, the CHOICE that is in view is between the various false Gods. Joshua’s point is that if you don’t obey the COMMAND to serve God they you can CHOOSE whatever false God you want to, because it doesn’t make any difference, they’re all false.

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    32. TETH ANSWER 307

      Proverbs 1:29 – stating that some people did not choose God is no proof that they were capable of choosing God. Moreover, this passage has respect to following the wisdom of instruction and is issued to Israel. It does not design the idea of an offer of eternal life to all of humanity.

      Hebrews 12:25 – This is an admonition to obedience issued to those who are already Hebrew believers. It has nothing to do with how one obtains eternal salvation.

      Luke 13:34 – This has respect to the wicked leaders of Jerusalem preventing people from entering into an open profession of following Christ during the gospel ministry of the Lord. It does not have anything to do with extending “offers” of eternal salvation to all of humanity.

      TETH: So again, you’ve got to pay close attention to the context of these remarks and resist the common urge to wrestle them out of context to defend some unrelated theological contivance you intend to promote. I would again invite you to examine my article on The Free Offer of the Gospel by John Murray. Many of these texts are dealt with in more detail there.

      JH: 1 PETER 1:23 "since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;" Yes we must be born again to see the kingdom.

      TETH: You say that, but previously you insisted that a man who is dead in trespasses and in sins and therefore in the flesh is capable of repenting and following Christ even though such an act is done in the absence of faith (Galatians 5:22) given that he lacks the Spirit by definition, and in spite of the fact that such acts of the flesh are unprofitable for salvation (John 6:63) and in spite of the fact that man’s will is excluded from having any participatory role in how he obtains eternal life (John 1:12, Romans 9:16). Those unalterable facts completely dismantle the system of salvation you are suggesting.

      JH: How are we born again? PETER says by the word of God. How do? Romans 10:17 reveals that the word comes to produce faith. Which brings us right back to Galatians 3:5 which tells us that when faith comes, the spirit then comes. So we are born again not by FIRST hearing the word, which produces faith, which brings the spirit which regenerates us and gives us "new birth." We must be born again to see the kingdom, and we are born again by the word of God through faith.

      TETH: The “word” to which Peter makes reference is Christ, who liveth and abideth forever. The preached word does not live, nor does it abide forever.

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    33. TETH ANSWER 308

      TETH: Faith is a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God. That fact means that a man who lacks the Spirit also lacks faith. That is unavoidable. It is for this reason that Jesus taught, “He who is OF GOD heareth God’s words” (John 8:47) and “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Your doctrine insists that he must see the kingdom of God, via a faith he does not have, while dead in trespasses and in sins, and while in the flesh, and as a result become born again. That is totally false and once again denies man’s condition as a result of the fall. Look again at that condition in Romans 3:10-18 and see if you can figure out how such a man can do the repenting and believing you insist he MUST do to the eternal salvation of his soul.

      TETH: Romans 10:17 does not state that “hearing produces faith” as you insist. It is stating that hearing makes manifest that someone has faith. It is speaking of faith as an evidentiary fruit of regeneration – which is its very definition (Hebrews 11:1, Galatians 5:22). The capacity of faith is the same thing as “the ears to hear.” (Mark 7:16) An unregenerate man lacks these “ears” and as a result he can ever and only regard spiritual truths as foolishness. That is the direct testimony of the word of God regarding man in his natural (fallen) state (I Corinthians 2:14).

      TETH: (1 Corinthians 2:11) That verse makes it clear that for a man to receive and believe spiritual truth he must have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.

      JH: It does not and cannot - or else it would be contradicting the clear order of Galatians 3:5 and the many other verses I provided in my last post. The scriptures repeatedly proclaim that faith comes first and then the spirit.

      TETH: Look at the verse: “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (I Corinthians 2:11) That verse states that a man must possess the Spirit of God, that he must therefore be regenerate, in order to receive spiritual truth. In the same way that a naturally dead man cannot receive or believe natural truths in such a condition, a spiritually dead man cannot receive or believe spiritual truths in such a condition. This is man’s condition as a result of the fall… except he be born again. (John 3:3) which is something God does apart from any willing, active participation on the part of man whatsoever. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” (John 5:25) God calls forth life from the dead and they are made alive and dead men do not actively or willingly participate in their resurrection.

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    34. TETH ANSWER 309

      TETH: This concept is repeatedly reinforced in the writings of Paul when he affirms that we are “dead in trespasses and in sins” (Ephesians 2:1), and that the “carnal mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7), and that unregenerate men do not have faith (II Thessalonians 3:2).

      JH: Yes, the depravity of man is a reinforced teaching in the Bible. Left to himself, man will not turn to God. However, there is no teaching in the Bible that concludes that God had actually left man to himself.

      TETH: So man is totally depraved except that he’s not totally depraved. Brother, you can’t have it both ways. The truth is, you do not believe that man is totally depraved as a result of the fall, because that total depravity was corrected for all men by a universal provision of prevenient grace. This relegates total depravity to a mere theological technicality, not an abiding reality that has any functional or practical bearing on man’s current condition. This is contrary to Paul’s indictment of man in Romans 3. He see’s depravity as a real and abiding reality that is only overcome by saving, effectual grace, not by some universal provision of a potential for salvation provided man will DO something. Brother, anything a man DOES is a function of his will. The bible excludes that from eternal salvation (Romans 9:16, John 1:12). Anything a man DOES in obedience to God is an act of righteousness. The bible excludes our works of righteousness from having any involvement in our eternal salvation (II Timothy 1:9, Titus 3:5).

      JH: He hasn't left man to himself. Our God is love. Jesus said it best... "While you have the light, walk in the light lest the darkness overtakes you."

      TETH: God has left many, many men to themselves because he did not choose to save them (Ephesians 1:4), Christ did not die for them (John 10:11,26), and the Spirit does not regenerate them (Romans 8:9).

      JH: God extends light, and that light can be rejected and refused and ignored.

      TETH: Men need more than LIGHT to be extricated from the state of death into which they fell. They need LIFE. And God does NOT give LIFE to all men. He gives it to the sheep (John 10:11) and some men are not sheep and that is why the do not believe (John 10:26).

      JH: To those who ignore the light and don't "walk in it," God allows darkness to overtake them and their opportunity for repentance is withdrawn.

      TETH: Men are not saved by “opportunity” to repent. They’re saved by the grace of God in applying mercy to them when they were without strength and ungodly (Romans 5:6).

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    35. TETH ANSWER 310

      JH: Though, God is able to grant repentance again if he wills in his own time and way.

      TETH: God does NOT grant repentance to all men.

      TETH: Paul says that faith is a fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22)
      - You say a man has faith BEFORE he has the Spirit.

      JH: Its not me saying it man! What else do I do with the verses I gave you?

      TETH: You rightly divide them so that they harmonize with Galatians 5:22, Romans 3:10-18, and Romans 8:7. That right division is precisely what I provided for you.

      JH: Paul says the spirit comes "BY" hearing with faith.

      TETH: He does not say that. The only way that someone would come to that conclusion is to disregard the testimony of I Corinthians 2:14, Romans 3:10-18, Psalm 10:4, and a myriad of other verses that establish man’s condition as a result of the fall. The bottom line is, you do not believe that any man is in a FALLEN / INCAPBLE condition, you believe that all men are in a POST-FALLEN / CAPABLE condition and that their eternal salvation is now resting on their willing obedience to the command to repent and believe. The bible excludes both willingness (John 1:12, Romans 9:16) and our obedience (Titus 3:5, Romans 5:19) from having ANTYHING to do with how one is made righteous before God.

      JH: He says we are sons "THROUGH" faith! Jesus says we are given the right to become sons if we receive him. Of course I say faith comes before the spirit. Because Paul, Jesus, Solomon, John, and many more do.

      TETH: These verses have respect to our COGNITION of sonship. They design our EXPERIENCES of sonship, not the beginning of our sonship which long predates anything in our experience and goes back to election before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5).

      JH: You bring up Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 2 multiple times to refer to the "carnal mind." It must be recognized that both of those passages in context are clearly dealing with believers.

      TETH: They are speaking TO believers but both the reference to the “natural man” and the “carnal mind” are speaking OF the unregenerate.

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    36. TETH ANSWER 311

      JH: It is the believer Paul refers to in Romans 8 who's mind, when on the flesh, is enmity toward God. It's believers in 1 Corinthians 2, who are carnal, and therefore unable to receive or understand the things of God. You argue from these verses that the unbeliever is carnal and unable to receive spiritual things - this is true - but you must recognize that while that IS true about unbelievers, the focus is on believers in these passages.

      TETH: When you admit that what I Corinthians 2:14 and Romans 8 is true of unbelievers, you establish my point irrespective of whether or not you believe that passage is speaking in reference to believers. It is speaking TO believers but it is making reference to the NATURAL MAN. This is the only MAN an unregenerate man possesses. Thus that characterization is ever and always true of him. The regenerate man, on the other hand, still possesses the OLD MAN as well as the NEW MAN and the two are in conflict. Nevertheless you admit that these things are unavoidably true of the unregenerate and that is all that is required to substantiate my point.

      JH: It is the Christian who Paul says is carnal, and unable to receive spiritual truth (while in that state of mind).

      TETH: But he bases this on a fundamental truth regarding the NATURAL MAN which is man in his fallen condition. The SPIRITUAL MAN has spiritual capacities such as FAITH and is therefore capable of obeying God and acting in ways that one who is ever and only a NATURAL MAN cannot. That is the point. Apart from Paul’s statements regarding the NATURAL MAN being true, his admonition makes no sense.

      JH: And it is the Christian in Romans 8 who Paul says has a mind that is at enmity with God while set on the flesh. This is hugely significant and you cannot leave this point out!

      TETH: I don’t leave it out. Rather I point out that his statement rests on the fundamental observation regarding man in an unregenerate state, who ever and only has the “carnal mind” whereas the regenerate man is in conflict between the old man and the new man. Simply put, an unregenerate man is ever and always of a CARNAL MIND by definition and thus he has the incapacities that Paul lists. Those incapacities make it certain that he can do NOTHING to seek God, choose God, love God, fear God, etc. (Romans 3:10-18). So Paul’s entire argument is based on the fact of man’s CARNAL condition as a result of the fall.

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    37. TETH ANSWER 312

      JH: Concerning the mind that is "set" on the flesh in Romans 8 - who is the one who sets the mind on the flesh? God? Or the individual persons Paul wrote to? The individuals of course.

      TETH: The fall set man’s mind on the flesh (Romans 3:10-18). A regenerate man possesses a carnal, sin nature (from the fall) as well as a “new man” which is born of the Spirit (Romans 8:9, Ephesians 4:24). It is for this reason that God’s regenerate people are exhorted to “put on the new man” because if we just “go with the flow” we will inevitably find ourselves falling back into old, carnal and sinful habits (Ephesians 4:24).

      JH: God will not set a persons mind on the flesh!

      TETH: True enough. The bible establishes that man’s disobedience resulted in his fall and his mind being set upon the flesh. (Romans 5:12,19) You won’t find me supporting the idea that “God set man’s mind on the flesh.” Incidentally, this is one of the distinctions between Primitive Baptists and many in Calvinism. We are not Calvinists and we do NOT believe in the absolute predestination of all things as most Calvinists do.

      JH: And he also won't set a persons mind on the spirit.

      TETH: He provides his sons with the Spirit apart from their participatory involvement whatsoever. That’s called regeneration.

      JH: He will provide the opportunity to set the mind of the spirit but the responsibility of doing the "setting" is on us.

      TETH: Man is not saved by “opportunity” – he’s saved by grace, not as a result of having exercised RESONSIBILITY but out of a state of abject IRRESPONSIBILITY.

      JH: That "setting" is our responsibility. Or in other words - it's our "response" to HIS "ability."

      TETH: The only man capable of such a RESPONSE is one who is spiritually alive and thus already in possession of eternal life. A fallen man who possess only enmity against God is incapable of such a RESPONSE.

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    38. TETH ANSWER 313

      JH: It is also worth noting your usage of 2 Thessalonians 2 is a bit unwarranted I think. It says not all men have faith or have "the faith."

      TETH: It says, “all men have not faith.” (II Thessalonians 3:2)

      JH: This means very little in the way of your argument. Paul is simply communicating that there are wicked and evil men, because they don't have faith - or "the faith."

      TETH: It says that there are wicked and evil men who do not have faith. When coupled with the Lord’s affirmation that men do not believe because they are not sheep (John 10:26) and the unavoidable reality that some men end up in hell as a result (Matthew 25:41) underscores the fact that the non-elect never possess faith during their natural lives because they are devoid of the spirit of God of which faith is an evidentiary fruit.

      JH: There is no implication here that it is impossible for them to have faith. Or that they cannot ever have faith.

      TETH: Not in that text alone, but when coupled with the testimony of John 10:26, which completely destroys the idea that men are not sheep because they don’t believe and establishes that men don’t believe because they are not sheep, the point becomes evident. Plainly put, “all men have not faith” means that some men are unregenerate, and some men are ever and always unregenerate given that they were never chosen unto eternal salvation and God never purposed to save them (Romans 9:21-23). That may be a hard truth, but it is the truth nonetheless and the Lord’s disciples have often thought such truths are “hard” (John 6:60).

      JH: Choice. The analogy of death used to explain our spiritual condition in the Bible can be taken to mean things that the scriptures never intended.

      TETH: It means that man is spiritually incapacitated and unable to do good, understand spiritual things, seek God, or fear God. (Romans 3:10-18). That truth destroys any system of salvation that requires man’s actions.

      JH: I am limited in my free will to choose by what is available to choose. I can't choose to be on Mars, because I have no ability to make that happen. I am limited in my choice In that way.

      TETH: Look at man in his fallen condition in Romans 3:10-18. Can he seek God? No. Can he do good? No. Can he fear God? No. If you take a sober view of man’s condition as a result of the fall, you’ll see that the things you insist man must do in order to be eternally saved are impossible for him (Matthew 19:26).

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    39. TETH ANSWER 314

      JH: I have no ability to choose to go to Mars, simply as an act of the will. No Matter the effort or exertion I put into it, it is simply out of my grasp and above my ability.

      TETH: Neither can you choose to do good, seek God, fear God, or understand spiritual truth while in a state of depravity. It follows that if you’ve ever done such things, which you undeniably have, it is because you were BORN AGAIN else you would never have had any inclination to do such things. Men seek God because they HAVE eternal life, not in order to obtain it. The only “obtain” it via seeking in the sense of coming into an explicit knowledge of it in their experience. But even as an infant is not aware of his parents in a cognitive sense until long after the instant wherein his life started, so it is with one’s “obtaining” life through an experimental understanding of such. This is once again a “dimension” of sonship that is not to be confused with either the vital beginning of sonship nor of the covenantal origin of sonship.

      JH: However, if the means to get to Mars are provided, if a spacecraft is designed and built, if astronauts are trained and prepared to fly the ship and all the preparations are made for me to go as a passenger and I'm given the invite, then I can indeed choose to go to Mars.

      TETH: Dead men do not board spaceships as a result of their will or power.

      JH: This choice has nothing to do with my abilities or my own intellect.

      TETH: So if you chose to get on a ship going to mars it would have NOTHING to do with your ability or intellect? Were you floated aboard the ship in some passive sense without moving a muscle? How does one make a decision to do something without engaging the intellect? The statement that “This choice has nothing to do with my abilities or my own intellect” Is so evidently false that it is embarrassing to have to point that out to you.

      JH: The praise and glory for getting to Mars would go entirely to the ones who built the ship, made preparations, and navigated/flew the craft.

      TETH: Not ALL of the praise and glory, because had you not decided to board and done so under your own power, you would have never made the trip. This observation is intellectually unavoidable because you have placed man’s decision and capacity to board in the critical path to getting to Mars. There’s just no two ways around that fact. Simply denying it does not make the dilemma of your position disappear. It only makes it evident that you refuse to honestly confront it, IMO.

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    40. TETH ANSWER 315

      JH: If someone was to come up to me and say - "wow, you sure are something special. Good job getting yourself all the way to Mars." - That would be insane.

      TETH: Yes. THAT would be insane because it would be foolish to assert that your decision to board and willingness to do so under your own power was deserving of ALL the credit for the entire trip. However, because your decision and boarding was in the critical path to making the trip, it would likewise be insane to insist that it does not deserve some measure of credit for getting you to Mars, albeit a small measure of credit in comparison. THAT is the undoing of your construct.

      JH: No one in their right mind would give me ANY credit. Nether would I give myself credit.

      TETH: To not give you ANY of the credit would be silly, given that by your own admission a decision to board and the effort to board under your own power were REQUIREMENTS of ever making the trip to Mars in the first place. So those who would give you NO credit at all for your part in making the trip are denying that the choice and the boarding were in the critical path. Brother, that’s just completely unavoidable.

      JH: In the same way, if you will stay with the analogy... depravity implies that I am incapable of making the choice to "go to Mars." But it doesn't mean. That I'm incapable of making the choice to go if all of the arrangements are made FOR me.

      TETH: No. Depravity means you’re dead and thus incapable of making the decision to board and incapable of having the strength to board. The bottom line is this, if man is IN ANY SENSE placed in the critical path to making the trip, he will never make it to Mars because he lacks the capacity to board the ship. If God did 99% of salvation and is simply looking to your 1% effort in boarding the ship to get you eternally saved, you’ll never be saved, because the dead do not do spiritual things, indeed they cannot. It is for this very reason that God has to do it ALL and by the time he regenerates his chosen sons (Galatians 4:6) they are already alive and on board the ship and on their way to Mars apart from any decision they ever made or actions they ever took. That’s salvation by grace.

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    41. TETH ANSWER 316

      TETH: The very next verse states that such people “were born” (past completed action with ongoing results). That is one of the strongest texts in the bible for establishing that regeneration precedes the exercise of faith in time.

      JH: You are putting your own understanding on when the birth happened. You’re assuming that the birth happened before the receiving of Christ. That's not in this passage though.

      TETH: No. I’m applying the verb tenses of that passage. “Were born” is an aorist, passive, indicative verb. That means that it took place before the preceding events. Moreover it is passive, which means that man’s action have nothing to do with it. This verb tense is likewise established in other passages like “Whosoever believeth (present tense) that Jesus is the Christ is born (perfect tense, past completed action with ongoing results) of God” (I John 5:1a) The point I’m making is a function of language and verb tenses, not an assumption.

      JH: The "being born" came after the receiving. It wasn't due to their own "willing or working" like Romans 9 says but "of God. Meaning, their birth was by grace. It wasn't a result of works but was by faith.

      TETH: But this contradicts your statement that men must BELIEVE before they are born again. Do they BELIEVE apart from being willing to do so? That is a ludicrous proposition, brother, and the moment you admit that they were “willing” to BELIEVE you have likewise admitted that their “will” was in the critical path to obtaining eternal life in your system of salvation. That is a clear violation of John 1:12 and Romans 9:16. You simply can’t have it both ways.

      JH: Interesting how the Bible contrasts faith and works... As if they are two opposite things. Yet when I say that a person simply believes in Jesus for salvation and sonship, you claim that I believe man does a "work" for his salvation.

      TETH: It is undeniable that if God says, “Believe” in the imperative (Acts 16:31) and if someone “believes” in response, then they are exercising obedience to God which is a righteous work. Paul’s statements regarding faith vs works have to do with the contrast between believing as an evidence of regeneration (Hebrews 11:1), which affirms that man HAS eternal life through a sovereign, life-giving act of regeneration by God alone vs doing things like keeping the law as a means of OBTAINING eternal life. That is the contrast. More to the point, however, is that men who are dead in trespasses and in sins DO NOT HAVE FAITH which is a fruit of the Spirit and thus they CANNOT believe nor can they obey the command to believe.

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    42. TETH ANSWER 317

      JH: So, Paul says that if salvation is by faith, then it is not by works. But in essence Calvinism says "if it's by faith, then it IS by works." Strange.

      TETH: I’m not a Calvinist. That said, what Primitive Baptists believe is that if one must exercise FAITH in order to obtain eternal life then one’s doctrine is in conflict with the fact that a man without the spirit of God does not have the fruit thereof which is faith. It is a contradiction to assert that man has faith before he has the spirit while his mind is ever and only in the flesh and enmity against God. Faith alone is sufficient evidence of one’s salvation, but it is not exercised to OBTAIN salvation, but as an ex post facto evidence of regeneration which makes one’s salvation manifest in their experience.

      JH: Please show me where the Bible says God made a covenant with Abraham before time?

      TETH: God’s covenant with Abraham is related to the coming Christ and the salvation of his seed. “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16) Part of the covenant is election of those who would be chosen “in Christ” and this occurred before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4-5) That is a fundamental tenet of the covenant and it LONG predates God’s revealing of such things to Abraham.

      JH: For time sake, don't feel obligation to reply to all I've said. I can't continue to read these long of posts or write them :) I need to use more of that time for my family.

      TETH: I don’t mind. I think these things are important to our spiritual understanding and that this ultimately benefits our families as well. I certainly understand the constraints on your time. Don’t feel obligated to reply to me in full or even at all. Only do so as you have time and feel it profitable to discuss. No worries.

      JH: The main thing from all of this that I am primarily interested in is your usage of 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 8. So if you wanted to just focus on that, that would be good for me.

      TETH: Both passage are addressed to the regenerate but the logic they employ rests upon observations regarding the NATURAL MAN and the CARNAL MIND. An unregenerate man is ever and only a NATURAL MAN with a CARNAL MIND as he lacks the new man and the mind of Christ. It follows that he is EVER AND ONLY capable of the motions of the NATURAL MAN and the CARNAL MIND and so my point in using these passages is sustained.

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    43. TETH ANSWER 318

      JH: Unless there is another point I've made you want to focus in on as well. But as much as we can simplify and contain this convo would be helpful for me and most likely would make it a more beneficial conversation. Or if you are ever in the Wichita Kansas area lets meet for coffee and continue there :)

      TETH: No worries. Theological discussions have a way of going off into a lot of different directions. They’re pretty difficult to contain sometimes.

      JH: Was King Ahab regenerate?

      TETH: I find it difficult to definitively prove Ahab’s state of grace from the evidence set forth. If his “humbling” of self was genuine and spiritual then he had to be regenerate because a natural man is incapable of such sincere repentance born of faith given that the pride of his countenance will not permit it (Psalm 10:4). His idolatry and continued issues with sin would then be no different from Solomon who had the same problem. Indeed, God’s people are warned to keep themselves from idols (I John 5:21). If on the other hand, Ahab’s “humbling” was not spiritual at all, but merely a pragmatic sorrow in order avoid the consequences of his crimes, then one has no problem asserting that he was unregenerate. This sort of non-spiritual “repentance” is referred to elsewhere in the bible, most notably in the case of Judas. “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders” (Matthew 27:3) While it is said that Judas “repented” it seems evident that this was not a sincere, spiritual repentance but rather of an effort to avoid consequences. Where both Ahab and Judas are concerned, I’m inclined to believe that neither were regenerate men and that their “humbling”/”repentance” was not spiritual but self-serving. That said, I believe it is difficult to definitively prove either case given the scriptural evidence available to us. What say you?

      God bless,
      TETH

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    44. TETH: Anything a man DOES in obedience to God is an act of righteousness.

      JH: When an unbeliever chooses to live his whole life and never commits adultery, then by your definition, he is performing a true act of righteousness.

      TETH: The fall set man’s mind on the flesh (Romans 3:10-18). A regenerate man possesses a carnal, sin nature (from the fall) as well as a “new man” which is born of the Spirit (Romans 8:9, Ephesians 4:24). It is for this reason that God’s regenerate people are exhorted to “put on the new man” because if we just “go with the flow” we will inevitably find ourselves falling back into old, carnal and sinful habits (Ephesians 4:24).

      JH: Interesting, so now the believer has the old and new man. In this state, who is it that "sets" the mind on the things of the spirit and who is it that sets the mind on the things of the flesh? Who does the "setting"?

      TETH: Look at man in his fallen condition in Romans 3:10-18. Can he seek God? No. Can he do good? No. Can he fear God? No. If you take a sober view of man’s condition as a result of the fall, you’ll see that the things you insist man must do in order to be eternally saved are impossible for him (Matthew 19:26).

      JH: It's very interesting that Romans 3:10-18 never uses the word "can't." Whatever definition of depravity is given here, it is not one that says man "can't" seek/fear God. It simply says he "doesn't." There is a large difference between the two.

      JH: i think you are misunderstanding my point with the mars illustration.... another example - a father buys an expensive gift for his son and he holds it out toward his son offering the gift to him. The son lifts up his hands and takes the gift from his father. Because the son lifted up his hands to take hold of the gift his father was offering, did it then cease to be a gift?

      The Bible's description of unbelievers as being "dead" is often taken way past what was intended by that analogy.

      Being dead in sin in the case of the example I gave above would be equivalent to the sons inability to "buy" for himself the gift. He doesn't have the means to. But that doesn't mean he has no ability to accept the gift when it is provided and offered.

      I'm really trying to understand the nature of faith/belief/turning. It's been a major focus for me lately and I most definitely can't say I've got it figured out :) but I can't get around that God puts the responsibility of responding on man. And while I agree with you that the doctrine of man's depravity must be maintained, so also must the clear doctrines of man's responsibility.

      I can't be faithful to scripture and say that God simply "puts faith" into in unbeliever apart from any response on their part. And at the same time I can't say that unbelievers are capable of performing righteous works apart from the spirit. Which is why Paul contrasts faith with works. Faith in some way, which again I don't fully understand, is merely an instrument through which righteousness comes and is NOT righteousness itself.

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    45. TETH ANSWER 401

      JH: When an unbeliever chooses to live his whole life and never commits adultery, then by your definition, he is performing a true act of righteousness.

      TETH: Incorrect. That is not my position. An unbeliever CANNOT obey God because true, spiritual obedience to God requires FAITH and an unbeliever (by which in this context I am assuming you mean an unregenerate man) does not have FAITH. An unregenerate man can exhibit behavior that is consistent with a command of God but it is never done in obedience to God, because God is not in all his thoughts (Psalm 10:4). For example, he may choose to not cheat on his wife or to be honest on his tax return, but because this is done in the absence of faith it is SIN, for without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6) and whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). This is an absolutely critical observation if we are to have a proper definition of obedience to God. Faith is essential to spiritual obedience, and one who lacks faith is therefore incapable of spiritual obedience. Though he may choose to do things that are consistent with God’s commands in many ways, he does not do so in faith, but rather because he sees some practical benefit to his behavior without any thought of God whatsoever.

      TETH: You go on to say…

      JH: Interesting, so now the believer has the old and new man. In this state, who is it that "sets" the mind on the things of the spirit and who is it that sets the mind on the things of the flesh? Who does the "setting"?

      TETH: The mind of the spirit of God. A man who obeys an exhortation to “set his mind” on spiritual things must do so from the spiritual mind as a function of the will of the new man, because the old man is incapable of such an action and because such an active, participatory action is an act of the will, the will of the new man. This is the struggle of Romans 7 that all of God’s regenerate people experience to varying degrees.

      TETH: From there you state…

      JH: It's very interesting that Romans 3:10-18 never uses the word "can't." Whatever definition of depravity is given here, it is not one that says man "can't" seek/fear God. It simply says he "doesn't." There is a large difference between the two.

      TETH: I think this line of reasoning is pretty daft (to be blunt about it). If God states that someone NEVER does something do you believe he intends that they CAN do it or that doing it is impossible for them? Since you seem hung on the absence of a “can’t” in Romans 3:10-18 perhaps you’ll consider the CANNOT of another statement by the apostle Paul, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, NEITHER INDEED CAN BE. So then they that are in the flesh CANNOT PLEASE GOD.” (Romans 8:7-8) That testimony eliminates any objection based on the missing “can’t” in Romans 3:10-18 to any reasonable observer, IMO.

      TETH: Ask yourself this – is turning to God for forgiveness pleasing to God? The only possible answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!” (Luke 15:7) An unregenerate man, who ever and only possesses the carnal mind, CANNOT please God. It follows that he CANNOT repent or do any other thing to obtain the free gift of eternal life. Once again, this underscores that salvation is by GRACE.

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    46. TETH ANSWER 402

      TETH: You then say…

      JH: i think you are misunderstanding my point with the mars illustration.... another example - a father buys an expensive gift for his son and he holds it out toward his son offering the gift to him. The son lifts up his hands and takes the gift from his father. Because the son lifted up his hands to take hold of the gift his father was offering, did it then cease to be a gift?

      TETH: No. Under such an arrangement the expensive item is still a gift. But a man who has no thought of God (Psalm 10:4) whose mind is enmity against God (Romans 8:7) who lacks faith and is therefore incapable of doing anything pleasing to God (Romans 8:8) CANNOT accept that gift because it is utterly contrary to his nature which denies that he stands in need of God’s assistance at all. It is for this reason that man is said to be dead in trespasses and in sins. (Ephesians 2:1).

      JH: The Bible's description of unbelievers as being "dead" is often taken way past what was intended by that analogy. Being dead in sin in the case of the example I gave above would be equivalent to the sons inability to "buy" for himself the gift. He doesn't have the means to. But that doesn't mean he has no ability to accept the gift when it is provided and offered.

      TETH: If accepting that gift is pleasing to God in your arrangement, and you would struggle in vain to prove otherwise, then the dead man is INCAPABLE of receiving that gift because he CANNOT PLEASE GOD. That is the complete undoing of your position. To make matters worse, any such acceptance of a gift would undeniably be a function of the will, which is likewise excluded (Romans 9:16, John 1:13). Adding even more to the undoing of your case is the fact that such an act on the part of an unregenerate man would be an act of the flesh, which Jesus insisted profiteth nothing so far as the matter of eternal salvation goes. (John 6:63). Those obstacles are manifold and insurmountable. That’s why salvation is by sovereign grace not by the exercise of willful, fleshly, capability.

      JH: I'm really trying to understand the nature of faith/belief/turning. It's been a major focus for me lately and I most definitely can't say I've got it figured out :) but I can't get around that God puts the responsibility of responding on man.

      TETH: Man in his fallen condition CANNOT respond, because he CANNOT please God (Romans 8:8) and the response you insist he must responsibly DO to the eternal salvation of his soul is not in the domain of capability for him. I would put it this way: By the time a man performs a spiritual responsible act he has ALREADY passed from death unto life by the new birth, else his act would be faithless and unpleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6, Romans 8:8).

      JH: And while I agree with you that the doctrine of man's depravity must be maintained, so also must the clear doctrines of man's responsibility.

      TETH: Depravity establishes NOTHING if not the doctrine of mans IRRESPONSIBILITY. Man has absolutely NO RESPONSIBILITY WHATSOEVER in how eternal salvation is imparted to him. None whatsoever. But when you see a man bringing forth acts of spiritual responsibility, he is no longer a carnal man, but is born of the spirit of God.

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    47. TETH ANSWER 403

      JH: I can't be faithful to scripture and say that God simply "puts faith" into in unbeliever apart from any response on their part.

      TETH: That is precisely what God does. He gives men spiritual life by direct and divine fiat (John 5:25) giving them the faith whereby they may seek God (Galatians 4:6).

      JH: And at the same time I can't say that unbelievers are capable of performing righteous works apart from the spirit.

      TETH: Neither does my position say that unbelievers (unregenerate men in this context) can do righteousness. A man must be born again to have the spiritual capacity to do something righteous, because whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23) and faith is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) not a prerequisite to obtaining the Spirit.

      JH: Which is why Paul contrasts faith with works. Faith in some way, which again I don't fully understand, is merely an instrument through which righteousness comes and is NOT righteousness itself.

      TETH: Faith is the vital capacity whereby one can perceive and be blessed by spiritual truth. It is an evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:6) namely the regenerating grace of God whereby you received faith and the ability to rejoice in your existing salvation.

      God bless and happy new year,
      TETH

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    48. TETH: If accepting that gift is pleasing to God in your arrangement, and you would struggle in vain to prove otherwise, then the dead man is INCAPABLE of receiving that gift because he CANNOT PLEASE GOD.

      JH: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to prove otherwise :) Of course it is pleasing to God. The moment a person puts faith in God, they come out of the flesh and into the spirit, therefore it is no longer true of them that they “cannot please God.” 

1 Corinthians and Romans 8 teach that as long as a person is “in the flesh” - or - as long as a person is functioning only by his own faculties, then he is in a position of being incapable of pleasing God. However, what those passages DO NOT say is that a person in that position cannot “get out” of that position. 

A person in the flesh “cannot please God.” True. 

But a person in the flesh CAN get into the spirit and then subsequently be in a position of being pleasing to God. 

Faith (Proverbs 1:24 - Isaiah 55:2-3) isn’t in itself “righteousness” in the same sense that “purity, love, kindness” are in themselves “righteousness.” Rather faith is simply an instrument by which God has chosen to dispense his righteousness through, by Jesus (Romans 3:22 - Philippians 3:9).

      Faith in and of itself is not pleasing to God. Neither is faith in and of itself of any significance or value. It is neutral. What matters, and is of significance and eternal value is the “object” of faith in God’s word - Jesus.
      

“That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace…” (Romans 4:16) - The implication of this saying of Paul is that a person simply having faith is SO THAT it can be BY GRACE. 

Therefore, to Paul, a person simply having faith = a person having NOTHING

So, a lot of the misunderstanding here comes from our differences on what the nature of faith is. 

“Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Galatians 3:6) - It does not say that Abrahams belief was itself righteousness. Rather it was “counted as” - implying that it wasn’t actually righteousness but was “counted” as such because God had sovereignly chosen to make faith the instrument through which his righteousness would come. 


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    50. TETH: I think this line of reasoning is pretty daft (to be blunt about it). If God states that someone NEVER does something do you believe he intends that they CAN do it or that doing it is impossible for them?



      JH: Well yes and no. While the purpose of this passage is definitely not primarily to show that unbelievers can seek God before they are born again, it certainly doesn’t teach the contrary. And it still allows the countless scriptures to be maintained where those who are not born again are commanded to repent and believe at the hearing of God’s word. Again, this repentance and belief is not something they “work up” by their own abilities, but rather is a “neutral” response to something that God has “worked up” in them. A person can choose to harden himself to God’s word or light or revelation or conviction - or to respond to it in humility. But God’s act most definitely must come first. “We love because he FIRST loved us.”



      TETH: Ask yourself this – is turning to God for forgiveness pleasing to God? 



      JH: Hmm…interesting question. This is one of those questions i’m really pondering and chewing on in this season. 

So this is how I would respond to it right now… Turning to God in and of itself is not a meritorious act of righteousness. In itself, faith cannot and does not atone for the guilt of past or present sins. Just because a person “turns,” it does not necessitate then that God “owes” them forgiveness or help or favor. God would still be 100% just to ignore and destroy anyone who turns to him. 

So, even with their “turning” and faith, a person has nothing to boast about before God. They cannot claim that they partially “saved themselves” with their faith. This is to totally misunderstand the nature of what faith is. 

A person in the flesh cannot please God, however, when God’s “word” is met with a persons turning, they then are “in the spirit,” and therefore, able to please God. 

So, to sum up what i’m trying to say….. a person’s turning to God for forgiveness is not in itself pleasing to God. It is only pleasing AS it is a response to God’s word - rebuke - call - instruction. It is something God is doing/providing and not something the person is “working up” or “willing” (Romans 9

When God convicts a person and that conviction is responded to with “turning,” then in that moment a person is not in the flesh but in the spirit because their minds have become set on the things of the spirit and are no long on the the flesh. 


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    51. TETH: To make matters worse, any such acceptance of a gift would undeniably be a function of the will, which is likewise excluded (Romans 9:16, John 1:13).


      

JH: I think it’s a misunderstanding of Paul to think that these verses imply there is no human will involved in salvation. I think even you would agree that some form of mans will is involved in salvation, even if it is something God has entirely worked out apart from man. Human will is involved.

      

Romans 9 and John 1 speak of salvation and new birth as NOT BEING by the “will of the flesh” or of “human will.” This simply means, in my understanding, that the new birth doesn’t come into our experience by our own personal “self efforts and striving” to produce righteousness in ourselves (will of the flesh) —— or by another persons self efforts and striving to produce righteousness in us (will of man).

      

So “the will,” in these contexts, speaks of a purely human will without the influence of the spirit - which is of no value to God - A person can exert self efforts and religious energy their entire lives and not move one centimeter toward God. It is not human effort trying to “climb up to God” that the Lord is interested. Rather, he desires us to simply respond to his “climbing down” to us, in the person of Jesus.

Being born again or receiving mercy doesn't come from us “first” moving toward God with our own efforts to attain righteousness - - - but instead comes from our response to how God has FIRST moved toward us by grace in the person of Jesus. I think that is what these scriptures are trying to get at.

I think these verses are actually parallels of verses like Ephesians 2:8-9. 



      You have a good new year as well! God bless!



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  3. Sorry for the misspellings. I wrote that on my phone :)

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    1. No worries. I understand. Thanks for taking the time. :)

      God bless,
      TETH

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    2. TETH: False, per the fact that the covenant predates history, while not being revealed until later in time.

      Please show me where the Bible says God made a covenant with Abraham before time?

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    3. For time sake, don't feel obligation to reply to all I've said. I can't continue to read these long of posts or write them :) I need to use more of that time for my family. The main thing from all of this that I am primarily interested in is your usage of 1 Corinthians 2 and Romans 8. So if you wanted to jus focus on that, that would be good for me. Unless there is another point I've made you want to focus in on as well. But as much as we can simplify and contain this convo would be helpful for me and most likely would make it a more beneficial conversation. Or if you are ever in the Wichita Kansas area lets meet for coffee and continue there :)

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