Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Does "Determinism" Accurately Describe the Salvation of God's People Taught in the Scriptures?

This dialog was taken from a recent exchange on YouTube in response to the video John Piper - What's your stance on birth control.  The interesting part of this dialog to me is the matter of whether or not our salvation is the result of determinism:

TETH:  Piper believes that the number of children someone has can be a "redemptive issue." In stark contrast, the gospel speaks of a successful savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who "by his own blood... entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Hebrews 9:16) The work of eternal redemption is a past accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ. Piper misses this critical fundamental truth of the gospel and thinks far too much of our "role" in redemption. Our role is zero.

RESPONSE:  And how will they hear unless someone tells them?

TETH:  The work of eternal salvation is a past accomplishment of the Lord Jesus Christ. Like gravity, it exists whether one hears about it or not. The gospel informs God's people of this reality so that they can be delivered from ignorance and live in gospel obedience. God's people believe this truth not to make it true, but because it is true for them. Hearing the gospel does not impart eternal life; rather, eternal life makes possible the hearing of the gospel. (I Corinthians 2:11-14)

TETH:  Salvation doesn't exist unless someone gets saved. so ...

TETH:  Men are saved by what Christ did (Romans 5:19, Hebrews 10:14) not by what they do (Titus 3:5, II Timothy 1:9) Men believe gospel truth because they have eternal life, not to obtain eternal life. This is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ taught saying "He that is OF GOD heareth God's words." (John 8:47)

RESPONSE:  Is this Determinism or Calvinism? "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God." The word mixed with faith brings salvation.

TETH:  The bible teaches that we are saved by what the Lord Jesus Christ did:
  • 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)  
  • For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
  • Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Hebrews 9:12).
The bible also teaches that salvation does not come to us based on what we do:
  • So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. (Romans 9:16)
  • Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5)
  • Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works. (II Timothy 1:9) 
The bible also teaches that regeneration (the new birth) precedes faith in time:

  • Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God (I John 5:1) - "is born" is literally "has been born" which is perfect tense or past completed action.
  • But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which WERE BORN, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
Since regeneration precedes faith, and faith is required to believe the gospel, it follows that only those who have been born again will receive and believe the gospel.

  • 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)
So the gospel does not provide faith to a man, rather, the gospel is received by a man who already has faith. This man is already in possession of eternal life and the gospel tells him about that eternal life and the God that purchased it on his behalf.
  • For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which ARE SAVED it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18)
The "salvation" that is brought by the gospel is the deliverance of God's people from ignorance to a full understanding of their salvation. It gives them light (information) not life.

  • But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (II Timothy 1:10)
Only God can impart life and he does it immediately in the new birth for all his chosen people.

You call this belief "determinism" - do you believe that God chose a people to save before the foundation of the world?

  • 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)
If God chose a people in Christ before the foundation of the world - will these people be saved?
  • There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
If by determinism you mean that "salvation is the result of God's plan to save a chosen people and he actually fulfilled that plan and saved them" then I would say, "Yes, our salvation is the result of sovereign determinism."


IN CLOSING:  I believe it is impossible to assert that the salvation taught in the bible is anything other than the result of God determining beforehand to save a people based on absolutely NOTHING found in them and based TOTALLY on the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ who said, "With men this (salvation) is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

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