Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ASK TETH Episode 04 - The Spirit, the Bride, the Gospel, and Regeneration



The bible says, "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Rev 22:17 KJV) Can you explain why this cannot be characterized as an "offer" of eternal salvation?




There are many reasons that Revelation 22:17 cannot be considered an “offer” of eternal life. The first and foremost is the context. The previous verse states precisely who this declaration is to be made to, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things IN THE CHURCHES.” (Revelation 22:16a) Those in the churches are those who have already brought forth a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ through the waters of baptism. Such people already have an affirmed profession of faith in Christ and are thus ALREADY IN POSSESSION of eternal life (John 6:47). It follows that whatever is being “offered” in such a scenario is most certainly NOT a means whereby they may OBTAIN the eternal salvation they evidently already possess. One cannot DO something to acquire something they already possess.

But there’s even more in the context. There are those who say, “Come.” That verse describes them as “the Spirit” (i.e., God himself), “the bride” (the church), and “him that heareth” (the born again who have the spiritual ears to hear). Then there are those who are bidden to “Come” – “him that is athirst” and “whosoever will.” Now it is certain that not every man is thirsty or willing to partake in spiritual things. Indeed the bible explicitly states that man in his natural condition does not desire spiritual things but regards them as foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14) and that he will not seek after God because God is not in all his thoughts. (Psalm 10:4) Thus whatever else might be said of those who are bidden to come, this group most certainly does NOT involve all of humanity. TETH: So in summary, we see that these words were addressed to believers in the church, not to all of humanity, and that those who are bidden to come is likewise NOT all of humanity, but those who have a spiritual “thirst” or “willingness.” It follows that this verse DOES NOT support the unscriptural notion of the Well-Meant Offer of salvation to all of humanity that is so commonly taught in Christian churches today.

Also, the bible clearly states, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1Co 1:21 KJV)  


But notice, who does Paul say that the gospel saves?  The unbeliever? No, it saves them that believe! This is precisely what the Primitive Baptists have always taught – namely that a man must possess the God-given capacity of faith in order to receive gospel truth. What most of Christendom teaches regarding I Corinthians 1:21 is actually more in keeping with “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that DO NOT BELIEVE by changing them and making them into BELIEVERS.” That is not remotely what that text says. That passage teaches that those who have faith (believers) are able to receive the gospel truth of their salvation by Christ and that this saves (or delivers) them from a former state of ignorance regarding the truth of how they were eternally saved by what Christ HAS ALREADY DONE FOR THEM and prepares them for proper entry into the Lord’s Church as an obedient disciple of Christ.

Also the bible says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Rom 10:9-15 KJV)


I won’t belabor the point of Romans 10 here as I have written on it elsewhere, but I will point out that Paul’s argument does not stop in verse 15. The rhetorical questions that Paul asks in 14 and 15 are further explored in his argument. Indeed he answers these questions by stating, “But I say, Have they not heard?” He goes on to point out the manifold ways that people had heard, including an allusion to Psalm 19:4 wherein the heavens are said to declare the glory of God. You can find a more complete analysis of Romans 10 on my blog in the article: “Exercise in Right Division: Romans 10:9.” http://theearstohear.blogspot.com/2014/06/exercises-in-right-division-romans-109.html

The regenerate are only known when they believe the Gospel and persevere in that faith. Isn’t that right?

That may be the only way that they could be known BY US, but this does not eliminate the possibility that they are known by God apart from possessing explicit gospel affirmation and perseverance in obedience. To make this point very explicitly – If there was “found some good thing toward the Lord” in the infant Abijah who died in infancy is that child in heaven or hell? Did he ever bring forth your required fruit of gospel belief or perseverance during his natural life? Clearly not. With this observation we establish something that all of God’s people should be very clear about. One’s eternal standing before the throne of divine justice is not in any sense related to whether or not humanity observed some evidence of one’s regeneration during their natural lives, but is based entirely upon whether or not God saw you as in Christ by covenant from before the foundation of the world. Stated plainly, God is able to discern the beneficiaries of the covenant with perfect clarity since he knows them by name. We, on the other hand, lack that perfect aperture on the covenant’s extent and only have access to a non-comprehensive examination of external evidences. Our opinion on one’s state of grace is of no consequence whatsoever, because we are not the judge, neither do we look upon the heart.

All that said, we should resist the insistence that one’s regeneration must be evident before men in order to be actual before God.

Do not separate regeneration from the preaching of the Gospel.

The entire OT is a treatise on the separation of regeneration from explicit NT gospel revelation (Ephesians 3:5, Colossians 1:26). That is an indisputable fact that MUST shape a proper understanding of the nature and purpose of the gospel message. It is not that which gives LIFE, but that which gives LIGHT (II Timothy 1:10). One must be alive in Christ already in order to perceive beauty and benefits of gospel LIGHT (I Corinthians 2:11).

Or so it seems to me,
TETH

21 comments:

  1. Hey Teth, I would like ask about the rapture. Many verse in the bible tell us to be holy before Jesus returns. One example is Jesus talking about the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins. If one failed to live holy when Jesus comes again (rapture), will that person be left behind?

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  2. ANON: Hey Teth, I would like ask about the rapture. Many verse in the bible tell us to be holy before Jesus returns.

    TETH: True. Exhortations to personal sanctification and obedience are repeatedly set forth in the bible.

    ANON: One example is Jesus talking about the 5 wise and 5 foolish virgins. If one failed to live holy when Jesus comes again (rapture), will that person be left behind?

    TETH: I don't think this parable designs the "rapture" as is commonly believed. I have heard some say that this passage has reference to final judgement but I'm not sanguine about that interpretation either. I'm inclined to think it designs the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. Many who were not properly prepared for the coming Messiah were caught up in that temporal tragedy while the disciples of Christ dispersed prior to the siege escaped it. It's admittedly a somewhat enigmatic statement. Key in all of this is the exhortation to preparedness that all of the Lord's disciples should take seriously regardless.

    God bless,
    TETH

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  3. I'm really confused. We can't go to heaven by doing good works. So why do we have to live holy in order to be raptured? Isn't faith in Jesus enough? Is there any condition to be raptured?

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  4. ANON: I'm really confused. We can't go to heaven by doing good works.

    TETH: That is correct.

    ANON: So why do we have to live holy in order to be raptured? Isn't faith in Jesus enough? Is there any condition to be raptured?

    TETH: I do not believe in the "rapture" (some event separate from Christ's return). There's a lot of "rapture-ism" taught in Christianity today but I don't know any Primitive Baptists that preach the Dispensational notion of a "rapture." We believe the Lord will return and so shall we ever be with the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:13-18). The eternally saved have their salvation as a result of God's work entirely and not based on any actions on their part. Nevertheless they are exhorted to live righteously in this life as this is enormously beneficial to their well-being and the only reasonable way to serve the Lord in this life (Romans 6:11-14, 12:1).

    God bless,
    TETH

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  5. Wow. If there is no rapture, all believers will have to undergo the 7 years of Tribulation? I don't think I'm ready to be beheaded.

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    1. ANON: Wow. If there is no rapture, all believers will have to undergo the 7 years of Tribulation? I don't think I'm ready to be beheaded.

      TETH: The Lord said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33) and many saints have endured beheading and worse. I believe it is honest to admit that one feels they're "not ready" for such; I find it far more credible than the zealous and short sighted claims of those who would assert the contrary. I believe God's grace to endure such afflictions is given in full measure in the moment and not before.

      TETH: All that said, what is the scriptural evidence you would set forth for the pre-trib "rapture"? Have you ever considered other ways of interpreting those texts? I ask because I've encountered a lot of folks who have been schooled in Dispensationalism who have never heard any other take on the matter.

      God bless,
      TETH

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  6. I don't see the need for Paul to warn them about the 2nd coming if there is no rapture, since they still have to endure the 7 years of tribulation.

    But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

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  7. Jesus also warned that no one would know the day or the hour he is coming. I don't see the need of Jesus warning if we still have to go through the tribulation. I mean, it's not like we as believers will go to hell, so in my opinion this what Jesus said is referring to the rapture.

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  8. ANON: I don't see the need for Paul to warn them about the 2nd coming if there is no rapture, since they still have to endure the 7 years of tribulation.

    TETH: Perhaps we're talking past each other. When I'm referring to the "rapture" I'm speaking of an event where God's people are taken out of the earth that is separate from the second coming of Christ that subsequently follows(I Thes 4:13-18). I don't believe in that "rapture." I believe the Lord will return and that will be end of time on this earth.

    ANON: Jesus also warned that no one would know the day or the hour he is coming.

    TETH: True.

    ANON: I don't see the need of Jesus warning if we still have to go through the tribulation. I mean, it's not like we as believers will go to hell, so in my opinion this what Jesus said is referring to the rapture.

    TETH: I don't think that follows of necessity from the Lord's statement that no man knows the day or hour. Do you consider yourself a premillennial Dispensationalist? Have you looked into any of the amillennial (NowMillennial) explanations of the end times?

    God bless,
    TETH

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  9. Isn't Thessalonians talking about the rapture, since it says we will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord, and the second coming will be Lord setting his foot on the mount of olive?

    "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

    On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. (Zechariah 14:4)

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  10. ANON: Isn't Thessalonians talking about the rapture, since it says we will be caught up in the air to meet the Lord, and the second coming will be Lord setting his foot on the mount of olive?

    TETH: So in your view Thessalonians is speaking of the Second coming of Christ and Zechariah the Third coming of Christ. I don't believe that. I believe both are speaking of the same event - the second coming - which has several components that occur across time within the confines of that event. It is not difficult to construct a narrative from these verses wherein the Lord puts his feet on the mount of olives and wherein we also meet him in the air. Denial of such would seem to stand or fall on the unnecessary assumption that these two things must occupy the exact same moment in time. I believe they can be resolved with one another by seeing that they each describe different aspects of the same larger event that has several components. It has been some time since I did much study on the second coming and Dispensational theories, but this is calling to my recollection some of the unnecessary interpretive conclusions from which dispensational theology proceeds. I believe there are better explanations than the notion of a "rapture" event that is separate from the second coming of Christ, the last day, and final judgment.

    TETH: Is there a book or author whom you believe explains your eschatology well? If so I would be interested in examining his line of reasoning. Perhaps I'll do some analysis of it from NowMillennial standpoint on my blog in the future.

    God bless,
    TETH

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  11. What about Rev 3:10? What could this verse be referring to?

    "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."

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  12. Can you tell me why rapture is false? I need to warn others if there really is no rapture, so that they will stop being deceived and prepare themselves for the tribulation. Thanks

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  13. I think we are really living in the last days. There's rumours of wars, homosexual rights, earthquakes in various places, hurricanes, mass shooting, solar eclipse ,supermoons etc. So many signs in just 3 months. Do you think this 'rapture' idea could be the great deception that cause many people to fall away from their faith? They have false hope that they will not go through the tribulation. Then when the tribulation comes, they are not prepared at all, many might question their faith and choose to believe in the antichrist.

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    1. ANON: Can you tell me why rapture is false?

      TETH: I believe I’ve identified a few of those reasons already. I think that a secret rapture is not required to reconcile the bible’s statements regarding the second coming of Christ. I believe interpretations that insist upon this rapture are more fanciful and popular than biblical and necessary.

      ANON: I need to warn others if there really is no rapture, so that they will stop being deceived and prepare themselves for the tribulation.

      TETH: The Lord already said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:33) We know that this tribulation has for some taken the form of extremely severe and cruel treatment at the hands of evil tormentors (Hebrews 11:35-40). I believe we are to be “prepared” for such things, to the extent that this is even possible prior to being in those circumstances. I’m not sure that knowing that one’s tribulation is actually THE tribulation would change the miserable circumstances.

      ANON: I think we are really living in the last days.

      TETH: I’m inclined to agree. But Christian history is littered with “last days” proclaimers who did not live to see the last day come in their lifetimes. I think we can affirm that we are in the “last days” while also recognizing that these “last days” may be an extended period of time that will not conclude during our natural lives. Stated another way, saying “we’re in the last days” is not the same as saying “the Lord will return while some or all of us are still alive.” Hopefully the distinction I’m making here is clear. I don’t see how it can be reasonably opposed.

      ANON: There's rumours of wars, homosexual rights, earthquakes in various places, hurricanes, mass shooting, solar eclipse, supermoons, etc. So many signs in just 3 months.

      TETH: Perhaps. I think you’ll find that history is full of such events that other Christians have pointed to as a sure sign that the end is imminent.

      ANON: Do you think this 'rapture' idea could be the great deception that cause many people to fall away from their faith?

      TETH: I believe that it is an unscriptural belief and so those who believe it are under some manner of deception as a result. What’s more I think there are MANY false doctrines being taught among professing Christians. The greatest of these, IMO, is the idea that Jesus Christ did not actually accomplish the redemption of his people at Calvary, but that he is looking to something that you or I do to finish the job.

      ANON: They have false hope that they will not go through the tribulation. Then when the tribulation comes, they are not prepared at all, many might question their faith and choose to believe in the antichrist.

      TETH: The bottom line is that the Lord Jesus Christ SHALL save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21) irrespective of the ravages of the tribulation because he covenanted to do so (John 17:2) and he is not a liar (Titus 1:2).

      Or so it seems to me,
      TETH

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  14. ANON: What about Rev 3:10? What could this verse be referring to?

    TETH: It seems to refer to the church at Philadelphia being spared from some particular trial or affliction that would come upon others. I can see why a Dispensationalist would rally this scripture to buttress his case for a secret rapture of the saints, but I do not think that a secret rapture is the only possible means of making good on this promise. The Lord has often said he will "keep thee" to his people in a variety of different contexts, none of which involve a secret rapture (Exodus 23:20, Psalm 91:11, Isaiah 42:6, etc.)

    TETH: So while I recognize that the idea of a secret rapture of the church prior to the THIRD coming of Christ has been very liberally promoted in Christendom over the last hundred years or so, I believe that a sober and dispassionate reading of the scriptural evidence upon which that idea rests reveals that the idea is more sensational and fanciful than biblical. Have you read any of the Amillennialist (NowMillennialist) interpretations of those passages? I believe they are worth a listen.

    God bless,
    TETH

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  15. This is what someone on Instagram said. "The greatest proof of a pre-trib rapture is found in the Old Testament. The prophets saw the cross, God became man, the Great Tribulation, the 2nd coming of Messiah to earth to set up His kingdom, and the 1000 year reign of the Messiah. What they didn't see was the church age or any sudden departure of people from the earth pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture, which is powerful evidence of a pre-trib rapture. Had it been for mid-trib or post-trib, they certainly would have seen it and record it."

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    1. ANON: This is what someone on Instagram said. "The greatest proof of a pre-trib rapture is found in the Old Testament. The prophets saw the cross, God became man, the Great Tribulation, the 2nd coming of Messiah to earth to set up His kingdom, and the 1000 year reign of the Messiah.

      TETH: I think it is potentially very misleading to say that the prophets “saw” all of these things without some qualification about what one intends by “seeing.” I would say the prophets spoke or wrote of all of these things – they were given a prophetic word about them, but they did not “see” these things in the sense of having an explicit NT understanding of what all these types and shadows represented and how they would be fulfilled in the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. That is a very important point of distinction with respect to what the prophets “saw” apart from which that statement could be very misleading.

      ANON: What they didn't see was the church age or any sudden departure of people from the earth pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture…

      TETH: This is a pretty common teaching among various Dispensationalists. “They could see the mountain peaks ahead (incarnation, second coming, etc.) but could not see the valley that separated them (the church age).” Some go so far as to refer to the church age as “parenthetical.” But I think all of this is more fanciful than biblical. The fact that Joel 2:28-32 is explicitly identified as a prophecy of the church age (Acts 2:16) is sufficient to prove that prophecy regarding the church age existed in OT times. It also underscores the aforementioned distinction with respect to what they “saw” in their time.

      ANON: which is powerful evidence of a pre-trib rapture.

      TETH: They just admitted they didn’t see ANY church age or ANY rapture, now they’re suggesting that what they DIDN’T SEE is evidence of a PRE-TRIB rapture. I don’t think that follows. This argument sounds like...

      WITNESS: I didn’t see anyone rob the bank, morning, noon, or night.

      DETECTIVE: Ok. That means the bank was robbed in the morning.

      TETH: It seems that they are trying to reconcile the bulwark of pre-trib eschatology they’ve erected with the absence of compelling testimony regarding this in the OT.

      ANON: Had it been for mid-trib or post-trib, they certainly would have seen it and record it."

      TETH: That seems to be a completely unwarranted conclusion, IMO.

      God bless,
      TETH

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  16. The day the Son of Man is revealed will be just like in the days of Noah and Lot. God's people were taken before the judgment fell. So isn't it true that rapture is true. The bible also says God did not appoint us to suffer wrath.

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  17. Or could it be possible there is post trib pre wrath? We will go through the tribulation, but before God pours out his 7 bowls of wrath, we will be raptured?

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    1. ANON: The day the Son of Man is revealed will be just like in the days of Noah and Lot.

      TETH: This is true that things will be the same in many respects but we should resist the temptation that the Lord’s statement means that it is true in EVERY respect. (Luke 17:27)

      ANON: God's people were taken before the judgment fell. So isn't it true that rapture is true.

      TETH: I don’t think this is necessarily the parallel that is drawn here. The text explicitly calls out that the things that were the same: eating, drinking, and marrying. I think this has respect to a general state of unawareness of an impending judgment and the conducting of one’s affairs as if things are going to continue going on just as they have for a long time.

      ANON: The bible also says God did not appoint us to suffer wrath.

      TETH: What text are you referring to? It’s helpful to provide the text you have in mind rather than making a generalized statement that could be very misunderstood if it is devoid of its context. There are many places in the scripture where God’s people suffer God’s wrath (Numbers 11:33) and it is also threatened against the Lord’s people as well (Deuteronomy 11:17) if they persist in disobedience to God (Deuteronomy 32:35, Hebrews 10:30). While it is true that none of God’s covenant people are appointed to suffer his eternally abiding wrath, it is evident that many of God’s people DO suffer his wrath in the form of temporal judgment and chastisements during their natural lives.

      ANON: Or could it be possible there is post trib pre wrath? We will go through the tribulation, but before God pours out his 7 bowls of wrath, we will be raptured?

      TETH: I don’t believe in the “rapture” as a distinct event that is separate from the second coming of Christ. As to whether or not God’s people will suffer “the tribulation” I can only say that the Lord promised, “in this world ye shall have tribulation.” (John 16:33) We know that there have been many Christians who have suffered HORRIBLE tribulations during their natural lives (Hebrews 11). I’m certain that if you told one of them, “Well, look on the bright side, you won’t have to live through THE TRIBULATION” it would be of very little consequence to those who had seen their children sawn in two in a hollow log. So to my way of thinking, whether “tribulation” or “the tribulation” God’s people have already experienced some horrible instances of it and we’re told that we’re going to experience some of it and the Lord’s admonition applies either way, “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” I know that answer doesn’t have a lot of sizzle and it won’t sell DVDs or T-shirts related to a tribulation seminar, but it is my take on the matter.

      God bless,
      TETH

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