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.”

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,

No comments:

Post a Comment