Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ASK TETH Episode 05 - Saved Unbelievers



I’ll pose to you a question that I’ve asked several ministers along the way: Using the Bible, how do you prove that born-again unbelievers exist? 



It is very easy to sustain the notion that there are many people saved who are “unbelievers” in the sense that they have God-given faith but they either have not encountered or have not believed the particulars of the explicit NT gospel during their natural lives. First off, NONE of the OT saints ever encountered the explicit NT gospel of I Corinthians 15:3-4 (Ephesians 3:4, Colossians 1:26). While all of them had faith in God, none of them were “believers” in an explicit NT gospel sense at all. For more on this topic check out my video entitled Regenerate Yet Unconverted.
Just give me one example. Show me where Paul or anyone else teaches that God’s elect people can be regenerated without knowing Christ or believing in him?
Again, the bible abundantly attests to the fact that ALL of the OT saints had faith and were eternally saved though NONE of them ever knew Christ or believed in Him in the sense of hearing and understanding the explicit NT gospel that explains the mechanics of our eternal salvation in Christ. That is completely indisputable and those who suggest that all of God’s people knew such things are guilty of projecting NT knowledge back onto a people to whom such things were never explicitly revealed. Job said, “I know it is so of a truth but HOW should man be just with God?” (Job 9:2) The explicit NT gospel of I Corinthians 15:3-4 and II Corinthians 5:21 is the very answer to that question and Job freely admits he does not know that answer. It follows that Job did not know the explicit NT gospel. So Job was a regenerate man who possessed God-given faith, but his faith NEVER embraced the explicit NT gospel but only some types and shadows thereof.
Furthermore, if you claim that justification by faith has nothing to do with our eternal salvation, then show me the segue in this text (i.e., Romans 4). 
Romans 4 is speaking of eternal salvation from an experimental standpoint because faith is the means whereby a child of God may experience the truth of his justification by God, even as Christ taught saying, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Faith is a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit that is experimental to a child of God. It is able to see, perceive, and receive spiritual truth. To say that, “justification by faith has NOTHING to do with our eternal salvation” would be an overstatement. Justification by faith is a regenerate man’s perception of the preceding truth, by cross or covenant, that he is justified by God and not by his own works, nor even by his faith. Obviously then, Justification by faith is related to our justification by Christ in that it embraces the truth of our justification by Christ in our experience and communicates to our conscience that through Christ we have peace with God. Our faith then is an evidence that Christ’s justifying intercession took place on our behalf. Believing such things does not justify us, but rather imparts to our understanding that we ARE JUST in Christ as a matter of personal experience.
Some of the assumptions that Primitive Baptists make about salvation by grace don’t hold up to Scripture. For instance, they claim that faith is essentially a work of man, so faith cannot be a part of salvation if we are saved by grace.
This is a coarse assertion. Faith is the gift of God. It is a capacity to receive spiritual truth and it is imparted to God’s people monergistically in regeneration. The exercise of that faith is NOT a monergistic act of God, but is a synergistic act of God and man because it involves our willing and active participation. Thus we do not believe it is “essentially a work of man” as you suggest, but rather that the exercise of faith is a synergistic work of God and man. Indeed this notion is affirmed even by reformed minsters such as RC Sproul who says, “God does not believe for us. Faith is not monergistic." (Chosen by God, RC Sproul, p.118)

Incidentally, this creates an enormous contradiction in reformed theology (one of many, I might add). Consider the following observations:

  • Since one cannot be eternally saved without justification…
  • And since in reformed theology the exercise of faith is required for justification…
  • And since the exercise of faith is admittedly SYNERGISTIC…
  • It follows that eternal salvation is SYNERGISTIC in their system by unavoidable logical consequence.
Thus to call such a system “monergistic eternal salvation by sovereign grace” is an enormous logical contradiction. It is for this reason that I have often referred to the common reformed position on Justification by Faith a form of Christian Irrationalism.

I have encountered some reformed types who have the spiritual presence of mind to see the enormous problem represented by that relentless logic based upon their own affirmations. Unfortunately, instead of training their attention on building a more biblical view of what the bible intends by “justification by faith” they instead insist upon the daffy notion that man’s exercise of faith must be a monergistic act of God. In other words, if they can remove the synergism from mans actions, then the whole thing resolves back to monergism and their “grace theology” is exonerated from the dreaded accusation of synergism. But this is just an exercise in defining “monergism” by its own antonym – because any act that involves the willful and active participation of man, as the exercise of faith evidently does, is a synergistic act by definition. I have come to regard this even more wacky theological position as HyperMonergism – the believe that because the work of our eternal salvation is the result of a monergistic act of God that therefore EVERYTHING that ever happens is a monergistic act of God. The ramifications of that concept as it relates to the author of sin should be evident to any rational observer. It is nonsense of the highest order.

The Primitive Baptist position is that faith is an evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). All of God’s people are given faith in regeneration, but not all of them are given the same degree of revelation to embrace with that faith, neither do all men employ their faith to embrace the same degree of the truth they’ve had revealed to them. We have long held that a great many Arminian Christians are regenerate children of God, but we would plainly state that while they have God-given faith, and while they fear God and work righteousness in this world, they remain in UNBELIEF with respect to MANY gospel truths and their theology actually opposes the gospel in manifold ways.

So the bottom line is that:

1. All God’s people have God-given faith (Galatians 4:6, 5:22).
2. They do not all encounter the same degree of revelation.
3. The degree varies from explicit (I Corinthians 15:3-4) to non-existent (I Kings 14:13).
4. They do not all embrace all of the truth they hear (Matthew 16:21-23).
5. Faith is an evidence and a gift – a provision of the covenant, not a condition.

I believe that once these biblical precepts are properly understood, it becomes readily evident that a great many of God’s people pass from this lifetime without ever encountering or properly understanding the explicit NT gospel mechanics of their salvation in Christ. It was evidently NOT God’s plan to communicate that level of gospel truth to all of his elect family during their natural lives.

Or so it seems to me,
TETH  

13 comments:

  1. "All of God’s people are given faith in regeneration."

    Just curious. What passage(s) do you claim teach that God gives faith in regeneration?

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    1. Brother Fralick,

      Welcome back. As to a passage that teaches that God gives faith in regeneration, I would ask you to consider Paul's statement to the churches of Galatia, "And because ye are sons (ELECTION), God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts (REGENERATION), crying, Abba, Father (FAITH)." (Galatians 4:6) That verse sets the cry of faith on the footing of regeneration and sets regeneration the footing of sonship and thus to election thereunto.

      Later in that same epistle Paul affirms that faith is a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God (Galatians 5:22), which once again states that the capacity of faith is a function of regeneration.

      Moreover, the capacity of faith given in regeneration does not, of necessity, embrace all aspects of gospel truth it encounters. This is explicitly revealed to us in places like Matthew 16:16-23 where regenerate Peter, who has faith, does NOT believe the gospel though Jesus Christ just preached it to him. Neither does it believe these gospel particulars until sometime AFTER the resurrection of Christ (Mark 16:14, Luke 24:10-11).

      These observations make it certain that there is a distinction between possession of the capacity of faith imparted in regeneration, and the subsequent exercise of that faith in affirmation of the gospel truths one may encounter during their natural lives. This distinction underscores the need for and profitability of discipleship (learner-ship) in the life of a child of God, wherein they may pursue a better understanding of the saving grace of God and develop a better stewardship of that grace in mortifying sin in their own lives.

      May I ask, do you believe that God does NOT give the capacity of faith in regeneration? If so, when do you believe that the capacity of faith is given to one of God's elect?

      May God bless our studies and understanding of his word,
      TETH

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  2. I believe that God does much more than give a mere capacity to have faith in regeneration, but imparts faith itself. I am particularly interested in whether you believe believe Ephesians 2:8 teaches that God imparts faith in regeneration.

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  3. Brother Fralick,

    Welcome back again. My thoughts below...

    KF: I believe that God does much more than give a mere capacity to have faith in regeneration, but imparts faith itself.

    TETH: I have never stated that God imparts "a mere capacity to have faith in regeneration." God gives men the capacity of faith in regeneration. The bible reveals that the exercise of that faith by those in possession of it is greatly varied (Matthew 16:16-23) as is the degree of spiritual truth they encounter during their natural lives which ranges from the revelation of full gospel mechanics at the church at Corinth (I Corinthians 15, II Corinthians 5:21), to the types and shadows revealed to Abraham (Genesis 12:3, Galatians 3:8), to literally nothing cognitive at all where Rachael's Children are under consideration (Jeremiah 31:15-17, Matthew 2:16-18).

    TETH: Having said all of that I'd like to ask you to provide explicit answers to the following questions in your response:

    1. What do you mean when you say "God imparts faith itself in regeneration"?

    2. What is the minimum parcel of truth do you believe is imparted and is actively and cognitively understood and believed at regeneration?

    3. Please be specific in defining that parcel of truth by providing scripture references that show the specific doctrine believed by ALL of them at regeneration and proving that the following of God's saints possess this minimal parcel of truth at the following moments in time:

    a) Job in Job 9:2,
    b) Peter in Matthew 16:22, and
    c) Rachel's Children in Matthew 2:16.

    KF: I am particularly interested in whether you believe believe Ephesians 2:8 teaches that God imparts faith in regeneration.

    TETH: I believe that God imparts faith in regeneration as I have already stated. Faith is defined as an "evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). Ephesians 2:8 additionally adds that this faith is the "gift of God." These two observations tell us that faith is not a condition of the covenant, but a provision of the covenant. It is not something we are exercising in order to effectuate Christ's saving work on our behalf. Rather it is a fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit that indicates Christ's saving work transpired on our behalf. That is what is intended when the bible defines faith as "evidence."

    TETH: To draw that out more explicitly, when Ephesians 2:8 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith" it is affirming that we are saved by the unmerited favor of God as evidenced by the faith in God we possess. Since all men have not faith, the possession of God-given faith in the Lord proves that a man is already in a saved state (Matthew 16:16-17) even when that faith is not being exercised with respect to the full degree of gospel truth that has been perfectly set before it for reception (Matthew 16:21-23). So while I do not believe Ephesians 2:8 explicitly teaches that "the capacity of faith is given IN regeneration" in the way that Galatians 4:6 does, I do believe it teaches some critical observations regarding the evidentiary purpose of faith in the life of a child of God that helps us acquire a proper understanding provided we reconcile those statements (line upon line) with other doctrine shaping observations regarding faith in the scriptures (precept upon precept) - namely Hebrews 11:1, Matthew 16:16-23, etc.

    TETH: I would like to know:

    1. Do you believe Ephesians 2:8 teaches that God imparts faith in regeneration?

    2. What minimal parcel of doctrine do you believe is imparted in regeneration based on Ephesians 2:8?

    3. Does that minimal parcel fit all instances of regeneracy in scripture?

    4. Are there exceptions to your minimal parcel of doctrine imparted in regeneration?

    5. If so, what are they?

    May God bless our studies and understanding of his word,
    TETH

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    1. Be forewarned, however. The exercise in answering the questions above has been instrumental in dragging a great many false notions of what men "believe" at regeneration out into the sunlight of scripture's testimony in a way that proves they are mere Christian traditions rather than biblical truth. It's a profitable endeavor that helps underscore the absolute sovereignty of God in the salvation of his people in spite of their very frequent lack of understanding or acceptance of all the truth set before them.

      God bless,
      TETH

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  4. Hello TETH,

    What did the OT saints have faith and/or believe in?

    If it is God, does that not include Christ (the Word)?

    John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

    John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

    John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

    Luke 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

    Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them (Jews in the wilderness): but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.



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    1. TETH ANSWER 101

      Hello and thank you for taking a moment to leave a thoughtful comment and questions. My thoughts follow…

      ANON: What did the OT saints have faith and/or believe in?

      TETH: They had faith in God, the belief that the true and living God exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). So they believed in God along with a wide variety of things that were revealed to them throughout the OT. These revealed things range from gospel types and shadows (Genesis 12:3) to literally nothing at all (I Kings 14:13). All of them possessed the God-given capacity of faith but they did not all receive the same degree of revelation or opportunity to embrace such truths during their lives.

      ANON: If it is God, does that not include Christ (the Word)?

      TETH: Yes. Of course Jesus Christ is the Word and is God (John 1:1). It follows that they believed things about Jesus. But they did not know Jesus by name, understand his saving work at Calvary, know that he would rise from the dead, etc. While they had numerous types and shadows that prefigured Christ’s work, these things did not explicitly reveal the person and work of Christ as we find taught in the New Testament (I Corinthians 15:3-4, II Corinthians 5:21). So I think it’s important to resist the urge to project NT gospel knowledge back onto the OT saints because the degree of detail and explicitness that we have with respect to gospel mechanics in the NT did not exist for the OT saints.

      ANON: John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

      TETH: Abraham saw the day of Christ in a form, most likely at Mt Moriah when the ram was substituted for his son. He also had “gospel” truth imparted to him in the form of “in the shall all nations be blessed.” But again it is important to avoid the crass error that Abraham’s knowledge of the “gospel” was in keeping with what we have in the NT. That is simply not the case, though many people believe it.

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    2. TETH ANSWER 102

      ANON: Luke 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

      TETH: There is no doubt that the OT was speaking of such things in types and shadows. It is also evident from Christ’s discourse that his Jewish audience DID NOT understand what these types and shadows represented. I believe you will search in vain to find a Jew in the time of Christ who understands the NT to teach that Jesus would die on a Roman cross for the sins of his people, that he would be buried, and that he would rise again the third day. The NT proves beyond any doubt that even those to whom Jesus Christ was preaching such things (the disciples) did not believe these things were the teaching of the OT at all (Matthew 16:21-23, Mark 16:11-14).

      ANON: Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them (Jews in the wilderness): but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

      TETH: This text DOES NOT teach that the Israelites in the Wilderness heard the explicit NT gospel of I Corinthians 15:3-4 or II Corinthians 5:21. The term “gospel” simply means “good news” and while the “good news” they heard, in types, shadows, and promises most certainly had reference to Christ’s saving work, it was not given to them in the explicit NT sense. Indeed the NT affirms that such things were hidden to them (Ephesians 3:5, Colossians 1:26, etc.).

      TETH: So I think it is very important to understand what is meant by the “gospel” when that term is invoked in different contexts. All refer to “good news” but all do not refer to an explicit description of gospel mechanics per I Corinthians 15:3-4 and II Corinthians 5:21. Paul’s letter to the churches at Galatia draw this point out very clearly, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” That verse affirms that “the gospel” was preached unto Abraham, but we should be careful to notice that it also explicitly defines that “gospel” – “in thee shall all nations be blessed.” That is “good news” and it undoubtedly has reference to Christ’s future work, but it is an interpretive error to insist that this “gospel” message contained the explicit content of “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that he was buried and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures.” That is simply not the case. Neither would anyone regard preaching “in Abraham shall all nations be blessed” as a thorough understanding of the Christian gospel in our time.

      May God bless our studies and understanding of his word,
      TETH

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  5. One other scripture for you, "Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."

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  6. Thanks for the quick response TETH,

    What scriptures do you think Paul was referring to?

    1 Corinthians 15:3 For fI delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

    Examples:

    Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

    Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

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  7. Hello TETH,

    Here are some more scriptures for you concerning the gospel.

    Acts 26:22-23 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day,

    witnessing both to small and great,
    saying none other things than those which

    the prophets and Moses
    did say should come: 23

    That Christ
    should suffer, and that he
    should be the first that should rise from the dead, and
    should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

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    1. TETH ANSWER 201

      Welcome back. My answers follow:

      ANON: One other scripture for you, "Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."

      TETH: I anticipated that this scripture would be referenced in my previous response. I believe your question and my response may have passed each other. My answer was, “Paul’s letter to the churches at Galatia draw this point out very clearly, “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” That verse affirms that “the gospel” was preached unto Abraham, but we should be careful to notice that it also explicitly defines that “gospel” – “in thee shall all nations be blessed.” That is “good news” and it undoubtedly has reference to Christ’s future work, but it is an interpretive error to insist that this “gospel” message contained the explicit content of “Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures, that he was buried and that he rose again the third day, according to the scriptures.” That is simply not the case. Neither would anyone regard preaching “in Abraham shall all nations be blessed” as a thorough understanding of the Christian gospel in our time.”

      ANON: What scriptures do you think Paul was referring to [in the following texts]?

      1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

      TETH: He is making reference to the allusions of in the OT scriptures found in various types, shadows, and prophecies and teaching how the explicit Gospel of Jesus Christ (v3-4) is the fulfillment of all those OT teachings. Again, the point is that the explicit NT gospel of I Corinthians 15:3-4 WAS NOT TAUGHT OR UNDERSTOOD in the OT scriptures. It was hidden in types and shadows and only NT gospel instruction is able to explain those allusions, because apart from that explanation people lack a clear NT understanding of gospel mechanics.

      Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

      TETH: Clearly an allusion to the resurrection but also a very veiled and esoteric reference to anyone who lacks the NT. Stated plainly, if you heard this read as a 1st Century Jew you would never conclude “This is speaking of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, who will come and die for our sins according to scriptures such as this and who will be raised again the third day.”

      Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

      TETH: Again, the fact that people did not understand OT gospel allusions such as this is clearly evident by the Ethiopian Eunuch’s admission that he did not understand what Isaiah was saying, “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31) I believe those who think that if they had been handed the book of Isaiah that they would have understood this to be a direct reference to the crucifixion of the Messiah are guilty of projecting their NT understanding into the past, or having an unsustainably optimistic view of their own interpretive prowess.

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    2. TETH ANSWER 202

      Acts 26:22-23 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

      TETH: Clearly these events are referenced in the OT writings of the prophets. But establishing that the prophets wrote of such things in types, shadows, and prophecies does not in any way establish that those things were understood in the form of NT gospel mechanics. Indeed the gospel is the EXPLANATION of all of that and if these things were understood from the OT writings alone, then there would be no need for an explicit NT gospel, nor for NT gospel instruction in the Lord’s church. So one must distinguish between the veiled OT allusions to yet-future gospel events and the explicit gospel of the NT that explains precisely how those allusions were fulfilled in Christ.

      God bless,
      TETH

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