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  

5 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?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete
  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.

    ReplyDelete
  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

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    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

      Delete