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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Friday, October 19, 2007
Faith & Repentance: How I See It.
The debate about which came first, the chicken or the egg is fairly easy to answer from a biblical perspective. Adam and Eve were created mature and grown, even if they lacked belly buttons on that account, so too we can say that the first chicken was probably full grown and not hatched. No big deal for the Christian. The post modern university kids would have a harder time accepting a simple rational like that because they have been training kids in universities these last few decades to believe that it is intellectually superior not merely to think outside the box, but to presume that there is no answer in the box or even close to it - that there are in fact only relative answers to anything such that the most virtuous conclusion is far removed from certainly by arrogant design, and so long as the rational is clever, poetic, consistent, or even merely complex - it is not regarded as "just" acceptable, but it expects to be praised and exalted, and especially it expects to be above challenge, since that would be bigoted and small minded.

I say, this is what universities are presently good at - teaching young people to believe precision is not merely impossible, but vulgar and contemptible because it demonstrates ones lack of intellectual savvy. In (post-modern) intellectualism, if you don't play along, you are bigoted and anti-intellectual.

But that is not the point of my post. I was just off on a bit of a rant there.

4Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? - Romans 2:4 [ESV]


In my own experience I have always believed that there was a God. I had my own superstitions about who God was etc., based primarily upon what I had heard in my upbringing on television or through my mother's dead catholic faith. In my teen years I was an intellectual atheist, in that while I knew there was a God, I denied him with my intellect because that seemed more intellectual, and it also helped me to live with the fact that I was a sinner. My attitude was that if there was a God so what? I lived a moral life, surely a good God would be inclined to overlook my failing to believe in Him as long as I wasn't a wicked person why would he send me to hell?

So in this way I kept myself intellectually isolated from God. There was no reason to look into God, because even if there was a God there was no good reason to follow Him. Now, this wasn't something I had laid out and planned to believe, it was just the sort of default position that doing absolutely nothing about God produced in my life.

So on the day I decided to try to trick a church into sending me out as a missionary to some far away country, and the pastor began to ask me about my salvation - I was quite taken aback. I won't pester you with the details, if you are interested in them there is a link in the right hand column that tells you "How to be saved" and you can go there and read it, for some of my testimony is in it. It is suffice to say that I had always thought that no one could know if they are going to go to heaven or not. Even though I was at best an agnostic with Christian leanings - I felt that it was preposterous to presume upon such a thing. Only God, if there is a God, can say if a person is saved or not. I mean isn't He the judge?

But the pastor showed me not how to be saved, but whether or not I was going to heaven, and through scriptures he began to show me that there was absolutely no hope of getting to heaven by being good. That even the smallest sin locked the door of heaven, and condemned you to hell and that there was absolutely no good deed that you could do to undo this condemnation. He showed me from scripture that this was not merely his own "twisted" interpretation of the text, but pulled me beside him and had me read the bible myself and see. Verse after verse he showed me, and as He did my condemnation went from distant possibility to absolute certainty.

The pastor reasoned that if there was a God, and this is what He has said, then I can know for certain that I am as lost as a man can be.

That was perhaps the first time I took an active interest in my own salvation. Until then I felt that salvation was something that happened at the judgment seat if it happened at all, and frankly, all you could do about it was live a good life and hope for the best. The thought of condemnation wasn't pleasant, but it was so pleasantly vague that I didn't consider myself lost. I would have admitted that I was a sinner, but certainly not condemned.

When my own condemnation became an intellectual certainty, I found within myself a sudden fear and trembling. I guess deep down I really did know there was a God, and suddenly my relationship with Him had real, measurable boundaries. I was going to go to hell because I was a sinner. Black and white. But that didn't sit well with me, for I immediately reasoned that if I was going to hell because I was a sinner so was everyone else. Suddenly God seemed tyrannical, for it seemed according to my new boundaries, that everyone must be going to hell.

That was when the pastor told me about Jesus Christ and how He (though God in the second person) came to earth in human flesh to live sinlessly before God and to offer His own life on the cross so that as many as believe in Him would not taste this condemnation they had earned, but that their condemnation would be tasted by Christ on the cross in their stead - and that God would certainly punish their sins, but that Christ would bear that punishment and thereby save those who come to Christ in faith from the wrath of God directed at their sin.

In that moment, and I am trying to put this in chronological order to give my understanding of the chicken/egg relationship between faith and repentance, in that moment I suddenly saw the kindness of God for the first time. I would never have understood the kindness of God had I not first been convinced of my own condemnation - but being suddenly thirsty for life, weary of condemnation, and afraid of my Judge on that account, to suddenly learn that this same Judge sent His own son to die for Me gave some very welcome boundaries to my understanding of God and salvation - this God was not merely just, but loving and self sacrificing. In the very instant that I became aware of God's kindness and goodness towards me - in that instant the possibility of my salvation rested entirely upon the character of God, and when I saw God's kindness towards me on this account - it was this kindness towards me that caused my heart to yearn, not for saving myself from the fire below, but to yearn for reconciliation with God. God's kindness towards me, the moment it because real (as opposed to some intellectual abstraction) - the moment I knew that God was actually extending to -me- this profoundly selfless offer of reconciliation, in spite of my sinfulness, and entirely because that was who He was - a kind, loving, forgiving, self sacrifice, do-whatever-it-takes-to-save-you kind of God - when I saw the character of God it caused me to repent of my rebellion against Him, and to turn to Him for this salvation.

The process, theologically speaking, looked like this:
[1] God convinced me that I was a sinner. This happened when the Holy Spirit showed convicted me of sin (c.f. John 16:8) through the reading of the word.

[2] God convinced me that as a sinner I was condemned. Again, this was the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin and of judgment through the reading of God's word (c.f. John 3:18)

[3] God convinced me that He was just in condemning me. Again, this was through the Spirit's conviction and reflected in the bible passages the pastor had been showing me. (c.f. psalms 7:11, & 51:4).

[4] God opened my eyes to the true nature of His character. He granted me that I should believe Him to truly be loving, kind, and good. (c.f. Acts 16:14)

[5] God granted me repentance. In the strength of the certainty of God's good character, it became suddenly (and unexpectedly!) possible for me to turn to God and away from sin. Prior to this moment no thought could have been more alien to my mind.

[6] God drew me to Himself. I gave my life to Christ - all of it. I could have said no in the same way that a person "could" say no if while dying of thirst someone offered them water. I knew that I could reject God and be forever damned, but in that moment even though the option was there, it wasn't really an option. I surrendered to this God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Faith in God's character preceded repentance and faith in God's promises in the logical layout of my salvation - but though I have laid them out thus, the reality is that this all happened more or less simultaneously. Surely my sudden vision of God's true character cannot be separated from the effect of that certainty - a trust in His promises, and a desire to be reconciled. It is not really a practical thing to split them up. Surely I could never have repented had God not opened my heart to see Him as He is, and surely I could not have seen Him as He was and failed to repent.

The faith that saved me and the repentance that came with it are so closely bound it is impossible for one of my limited discernment to determine which one is the facet of the other. Yet experientially I suppose I would argue (in the intellectual realm at least) that repentance must have preceded faith since the first thing God granted was that I would repent of my faithlessness.

I suppose it is similar for all of us who were saved. What I wanted to draw out in this post however, and I hope you are still reading at this point and not skimming, was not some sad little argument about which came first - but to remind you Christian that when you are struggling to obey and asking yourself the hard questions: Where is my repentance?? Why do I sin?? - that you will look back to how God granted you repentance in the first place.

Why is it that I allow myself to fall into sin? That is, why do I resist the Holy Spirit when He would grant me grace to repent? The pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps-fundie-admonishment is because you love your sin and you hate the idea of being sanctified. You don't want to be sanctified, and you don't love God. That is why. And I am not going to tell you otherwise here - that certainly is the reason, but it doesn't give us much advice does it? So I should like to follow that with this: remember that it was knowing God's character that drew you to Him in the first place.

You can try (with limited/carnal/empty success) and make yourself repent. You can make yourself stop doing what is bad, and start doing what is good motivated as you are by the fear that failing to do so will cause God to regard you poorly. Surely we see this work to great effect in all the other world religions. Good Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists all share in this, they know how to improve themselves morally speaking, and you can do the same with the same gusto, and of course, with the same spiritual vacuum, for it is as I have said, an entirely carnal work to improve yourself thus. There is nothing Christian about it - even if it looks Christian on the outside.

No, if you want your repentance to be more than fear motivated, self improvement you have to repent like you did at the start - and that begins in Romans 2:4. The goodness of God causes you to repent. Don't sit there and meditate about how much God hates you for sinning and how you better "get right" fast "or else". Instead meditate upon God, look to Christ. Not just 'oh save me, save me, save me, save me, save me, save me.' ad nauseum. No, look to God's character. Rehearse to yourself who God is. The reason you drew near to God in the first place is not because you were trying to improve yourself morally, it was because God made Himself known to you. You saw God as forgiving and loving, and were overwhelmed by His character - you were more than infatuated, you were "owned" by God - you wanted to be reconciled not because you were afraid, but because God was utterly irresistible to you the moment you truly saw His character.

Look therefore, sinner, look to God. Meditate again upon the one who loved you and gave Himself for you. God grant that you not only see His character, but see how glorious it is and that the fire be kindled anew for this God who loves you so. You will repent brother, sister, you will repent when you see the goodness of God again, and you won't have to fight to make it happen, it will be the joy of your soul as it was the first time. Stop trying to solve your carnal problems carnally. You need to go to the fountain and not the slue.

Sorry about the length.

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posted by Daniel @ 5:25 AM  
38 Comments:
  • At 8:31 AM, October 19, 2007, Blogger jazzycat said…

    Grace indeed. Your pre-Christian thinking was amazingly similar to mine. I thought, "If the God of Bible turns out to be true, I should be O.K. since I am a basically good guy." With this thinking, it took a book by D. James Kennedy called, "Why I Believe" to convince me of my folly. The chapter, "The second birth" convinced me that my position was lost and destined for hell.

     
  • At 10:27 AM, October 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It seems that you describe prevenient grace very well. By saying that you could of resisted, but did not was great. Now just because you did not choose to resist does not mean that others will do the same. That is what Arminianism teaches. Why does it have to be irresistible?

     
  • At 10:37 AM, October 19, 2007, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, I really appreciate your forensic style of writing. You clearly delineate the sometimes muddied mess of theology.

    Your description of your thinking before salvation is very similar to most people I encounter. It is only when we see ourselves in the mirror of God's law that we are truly broken and repentant over our sin.

    However, as you pointed out; the Word of God is always the starting point for any conviction in the life of an unbeliever, or believer for that matter. God operates through His Word (spoken or written) to grant conviction of sin and faith unto salvation.

    Consider the example of Johnny MacArthur the other day: His simple expression of giving the "Lord God" thanks for the game caused the agnostic radio announcer to ponder more deeply the reality of God. We don't know how many others were impacted by this statement and forced to consider that perhaps there really is a God who is sovereign.

    There are two aspects to repentance; first of all our thinking must be changed by the truth of God's word. Then as we begin to think and consider the truth, our actions and behaviour will start to conform with our thinking. So the tangible result of repentance is a visible expression of acknowledgement to the truth, IOW, surrender and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Blessings in Christ,
    Jim

     
  • At 10:40 AM, October 19, 2007, Blogger mark pierson said…

    Good to see you stand by the Bible on this topic of repentance.

    "but in that moment even though the option was there (of rejecting the message), it wasn't really an option. I surrendered to this God who loved me and gave Himself for me."

    Ah, true repentance indeed.

     
  • At 11:24 AM, October 19, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anonymous said, It seems that you describe prevenient grace very well. By saying that you could of resisted, but did not was great. Now just because you did not choose to resist does not mean that others will do the same.

    Or perhaps I am describing irresistible very grace poorly?

    Allow me to kick the cat once more; perhaps we can get a more articulate meow?

    When I say the option wasn't really an option, I am describing irresistible grace.

    In Hebrews 5:7-8 we read this of Christ, " who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." [ESV].

    Notice what it says there, "He was heard".

    We do not imagine that the author of Hebrews is simply stating that God "hears" everything since Christ's being "heard" was predicated upon something. No, the meaning hear must be that in the days of Jesus' flesh, He was praying for something specific, and God answered (heard) that prayer. What was the prayer? The context makes it plain enough - Christ was praying that God would keep Him from death - not merely his own physical demise, for Christ came to the earth to die, and set his face towards Jerusalem like flint - He was not looking forward to the death on the cross, no one will deny that - but the prayer in the days (plural) of His flesh was that God would deliver him from death - that is, that Christ would not make a shipwreck of salvation. It is a humbling picture of our Savior - calling out to God the Father to Keep him from death - from failure - and we do well to understand that when scripture says that Christ was heard it means that God had determined to keep Christ from failing.

    I bring that up because we know that Christ was tempted in the flesh - and if we understand this passage in Hebrews correctly, we see that these temptations came even though God was keeping Christ from failing.

    Now many have asked "Could Christ have sinned?" and the answer is both yes and no. Yes in the sense that it was a -real- option, but no in the sense that God was going to keep Christ from sinning. Yes in the sense that Christ had the freedom to choose to sin, but no in the sense that God was going to deliver Christ out of every temptation so that He did not choose to sin.

    Likewise therefore even though the default position of our sinful flesh is to choose sin - to choose death - yet when God determines to breath life into you, even though you have, like Christ, the opportunity to "choose" death - it is only an intellectual argument - because your entire being is being drawn to choose God, and you will choose God because every other choice will have no value to you.

    That being said, a man can come to see himself as a sinner intellectually, and can learn that God is real intellectually and can understand what the promises of God are, and can assent to their verity and goodness with his intellect, and can even reason Himself into agreeing with these truths, but be entirely outside the kingdom of God. For such a one "salvation" is not so much a choice as an intellectual opinion. If you have a right opinion about God, and tell yourself that it is the correctness of your opinion that saves you, then you are going to be convinced of your salvation insomuch as you are convinced of your own correctness. The greater your ego, the more "security" you will possess.

    Anyone who makes such a mess of the gospel can at anytime choose to neglect it, for just as they intellectually chose to embrace it so they can cast it away, and they can do so after ten or twenty years of being a Christian, or they can do so the very first time they intellectually assent to the gospel. The problem is not that they haven't got a handle on truth, the problem is that they suppress that truth in unrighteousness - or put into modern language - the problem is they hold the gospel truth in one hand but refuse to let go of sin with the other. They can certainly say no to God because they haven't really come to the place I am describing - they have merely come to an intellectual conversation with themselves, and we should not expect to see life here, since it remains an entirely carnal and spiritually dead thing.

    Anyone who thinks you can come to Christ without having your heart opened like Lydia's is a fool or worse, and anyone who thinks that you can have your heart opened by God only to have God fail to produce life in you, has a very, very small (and rather uninformed) understanding of who God is.

    If God's words do not return to Him empty, but fulfill exactly what He sent them out to do, how much more when God opens a heart to save it will that salvation take place?

    Arminianism is founded upon a small and beggarly understanding of God and a very inflated understanding of man.

    Meow.

     
  • At 1:28 PM, October 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It seems that your side want to cling to regeneration before faith and tat is just not true.

    How do we come to be "in Christ"?

    "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of salvation- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise." Eph. 1:13

    All spiritual blessings are found in Christ [including regeneration], and we come to be in Christ through faith. Therefore, faith must precede regeneration, and the atonement is provisional "in Christ". If you read the Pauline writings you will find that this is the foundation of the gospel for Paul. Take the time to read Col. 1:13-23 where this doctrine is beautifully expressed.

     
  • At 3:45 PM, October 19, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anonymous, I don't have a side. I have scripture and a desire to follow truth. If I can be shown that my understanding of scripture is flawed, (and it has happened in the past), I will certainly adjust my thinking accordingly.

    You ask, "How do we come to be in Christ?"

    My answer is that we come to be in Christ as scripture teaches - through our union with Christ in his death and resurrection. We are baptized "into" Christ the moment God opens our hearts to believe, just as God opened Lydia's heart so that she could accept Paul's teaching.

    Does regeneration precedes faith?

    Let's examine together the verse you quoted - first we read the whole epistle to see if Paul repeats himself and sheds more light on this idea - and he does, in Ephesians 4:30. There we read that they were sealed for the day of redemption.

    The picture is of someone being sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption - as promised.

    Now here we must ask the question - when were the apostles saved? Why do we ask that? Because in John 7:37-39 we read that Christ promised to that out of the heart of the one who comes to Christ with his thirst, rivers of living water would flow - and that this Christ spoke concerning the Spirit whom those who believed would eventually receive. The Apostles were of course in that group, and even after Christ's resurrection (but prior to Pentecost) they were reminded of this promise that had yet to come (c.f. Luke 24:46-49).

    When were they saved? When they believed or when they received the promised sealing of the Holy Spirit? Did the sealing by the Holy Spirit save them, in which case they were not yet saved, or were they saved by faith, in which case they were saved. To help you answer that we could ask whether the thief on the cross was saved. No Holy Spirit sealing, certainly. No baptism, no good works - but no where else in all the NT does Christ declare that anyone is going to be with Him in paradise except this fellow. We can speculate about everyone else - but not this one - we know that this thief was saved, and he was saved without having received the promised seal of the Holy Spirit.

    So if the thief was saved before Pentecost, we can presume safely I think that the apostles were saved before Pentecost too.

    Now the question is were the Apostles regenerate before Pentecost or not? We ask that question because we want to fix in our understanding the relationship between regeneration and being born again. Prior to Pentecost no one was born again; yet all believers were regenerate. After Pentecost, -all- believers were born again.

    So we don't want to confuse in our understanding being born again and being regenerate - they happen simultaneously under the new covenant, but it wasn't always so because they are not the same thing. Being born "again" (I prefer born from above) means we are anointed by the Holy Spirit. That was what John the Baptist said Christ was coming to do - anoint people with the Holy Spirit; John was anointing them with water, but Christ was coming to anoint them with the Holy Spirit. They weren't anointed (born from above) until the Holy Spirit anointed them.

    That is why the Holy Spirit fell on Christ at His baptism - He was the Anointed one (the Messiah). The same Holy Spirit that anointed Christ in the Jordan was sent by Christ after his ascension to anoint the disciples at Pentecost - and by extension, the same Spirit anoints all who come to saving faith ever since Pentecost.

    That is what it means to be a "Christian" - it means we have been anointed. But that anointing is described by Paul in Romans six as an immersion into Christ. The anointing we receive has a purpose - it unites us spiritually to our Savior Jesus Christ into His death and into His resurrection. Everyone who is anointed is "in Christ" and it is this union with Christ by which we are accepted in the beloved, and come into possession of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. But those spiritual blessing are plainly described as being in the heavenly places in Christ, heavenly blessing that Paul immediately beings to catalog - blessings such as God choosing to redeem us through His blood to forgive our trespasses before the foundation of the world - that is not merely before we were "saved" but in fact before Adam even sinned, or was ever created.

    So if you want to be coherent in applying Ephesians 1:13 to this discussion, suggesting as you do, that regeneration is included in these blessings, then you must understand that you telling me on the one hand that it is wrong to say that regeneration precedes faith, and "proving" that using a verse that essentially tells me that regeneration took place (according to your logic) before the foundation of the world.

    Well my friend I would argue with you, but I am not quite sure where to begin. You are insisting on the one hand that our regeneration took place before creation - and on this point I would be inclined to agree in the spiritual sense - certainly our regeneration in Christ predates creation - such that when God regenerates us experientially it is no new thing, but was anticipated in eternity past - yet even as you say this you deny it by saying that regeneration does not precede faith - though you give no real logic to support your claim.

    The passage you cite in Colossians describes the practical outworking of the thesis you are apparently denying - that being how it is that we who were elect in Christ experience that election in time. We were once sinners, alienated and hostile, etc. but God reconciled us to Him (as opposed to us reconciling ourselves to God) in Christ.

    I should like to give you more of an answer, but as you seem to be contradicting yourself in saying on the one hand we are regenerate before the foundation of the world in Christ, and on the other, not until we are in Christ - I am at something of a loss.

    Experientially we are regenerated in the same moment we believe. Yet cognitively speaking, although both happen simultaneously our awareness follows our reality. I must be hit by the baseball before I am aware of the pain. My awareness follows the reality - but the two are simultaneous - the instant I am struck my nerves send a message - I am experiencing pain even before the message of pain reaches my mind so that I can react to it. Our minds don't work as fast as reality works - cognition therefore is always playing catch up with reality. In this way, although the two are simultaneous (faith and regeneration), yet the cognitive moment lags behind the regenerative one.

    It isn't that regeneration produces faith, it is that faith is how we articulate regeneration.

    Let me know if you have more to teach me.

     
  • At 4:02 PM, October 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    We are not reborn if we are not in Christ and the way we come to be in Christ is by faith. Do you see then how faith has to come first? Yet the Calvinist says the exact opposite, he tells me that I am in Christ before I have faith. Hope that clears it up.

     
  • At 4:10 PM, October 19, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Anonymous - did you read my last comment to you?

    I will quote from it to answer the charge that the Calvinist says the opposite, for I am certainly a Calvinist, but I by no means fit into the dress you are parading me around in.

    I said, and I quote:

    Experientially we are regenerated in the same moment we believe. Yet cognitively speaking, although both happen simultaneously our awareness follows our reality. I must be hit by the baseball before I am aware of the pain. My awareness follows the reality - but the two are simultaneous - the instant I am struck my nerves send a message - I am experiencing pain even before the message of pain reaches my mind so that I can react to it. Our minds don't work as fast as reality works - cognition therefore is always playing catch up with reality. In this way, although the two are simultaneous (faith and regeneration), yet the cognitive moment lags behind the regenerative one.

    If it your conscience tweaks you for not seeing this the first time, I would suggest you read my whole post over again and see if maybe you didn't miss any other points?

     
  • At 4:13 PM, October 19, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    And I do appreciate that I can be quite verbose at times - and frankly, who wants to read a thing when their mind is already made up?

    Yet I would encourage you (anonymous) to be gracious. I diligently looked up and read every citation you made before I responded to you, and I read your comments in their entirety, not because I am overly polite, but because I am always interested in what others have to say. Perhaps you have some light and God will use you to open my eyes? What a fool I will be on judgment day if I reject that out of hand?

     
  • At 4:45 PM, October 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please help me understand what ou are saying by this analogy of yours. In this is faith the baseball or is it the nerves?

    Louis Berkhoff says that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification, if that is true then God must justify us before we are reborn. Otherwise it would mean that God starts making us holy while we are still under His wrath.

    It then makes snese that we are not reborn if we are not in Christ and the way we come to be in Christ is by faith.

     
  • At 5:10 PM, October 19, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    The baseball impacting you is the moment of your regeneration. Faith happens the moment you become awareness of that pain.

    I am sure that if Louis Berkhoff were still alive, and I explained that I believed faith and regeneration happen simultaneously, but that one is the cognitive expression of the other, he would have no trouble understanding my meaning.

    I think Berkhoff was drawing a reasonable conclusion. If scripture tells us that God died for us while we were yet sinners, it can be reasonably concluded that God was already working to save us before we repented, that is, while we were yet sinners.

    You seem to be confusing regeneration with being born again - as though the two were one and the same, which is no doubt why you misunderstand me.

    Allow me to quote again from my previous quote a portion that you must have skimmed over:

    Now the question is were the Apostles regenerate before Pentecost or not? We ask that question because we want to fix in our understanding the relationship between regeneration and being born again. Prior to Pentecost no one was born again; yet all believers were regenerate. After Pentecost, -all- believers were born again.

    So we don't want to confuse in our understanding being born again and being regenerate - they happen simultaneously under the new covenant, but it wasn't always so because they are not the same thing. Being born "again" (I prefer born from above) means we are anointed by the Holy Spirit. That was what John the Baptist said Christ was coming to do - anoint people with the Holy Spirit; John was anointing them with water, but Christ was coming to anoint them with the Holy Spirit. They weren't anointed (born from above) until the Holy Spirit anointed them.


    Scripture teaches that God died for us while we were still under his wrath. Surely that is not coming as a surprise to you, but allow that truth to have its fullest work. God started making us holy the moment he opened our heart.

    But our heart wasn't opened by faith, it was opened by God - who opened Lydia's heart? Scripture tells us it was God who opened her heart. It doesn't tell us that she had faith and that her own faith opened her heart, it tells us that she had her heart opened by God, and might I emphasize that she was not born again at that point - and using your own terminology - was under God's wrath when He did it.

    I know you can connect the dots yourself, but let me ask you this instead.

    The Apostle Paul: was Paul under God's wrath while he traveled on the Damascus road with papers from the High Priests to imprison as many Christians as he could find? Did Paul seek out Christ, or did Christ seek out Paul. Did Christ extend mercy to Paul while Paul was yet a sinner, or did Christ wait for Paul to come to Him?

    I am just asking so that you have some appreciation of where I am coming from.

     
  • At 5:16 PM, October 19, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Oh, and I am out the door for the rest of the evening, so I am sorry I can't answer any reply right away - but give some serious thought to these things.

    Feel free to challenge me on anything, I am not a debating kind of guy, and I don't mind if after our discussion you are satisfied in your own opinion. It isn't my job to convince you of truth, nor is it yours to convince me. But if we are both sincere, perhaps God will give us light, and for that reason I am grateful for the opportunity even to discuss these things.

     
  • At 11:46 AM, October 20, 2007, Anonymous Isaac said…

    Sorry to get in the middle here, but I was hoping that you could elaborate more on the difference between regeneration and born again?

    Isaac

     
  • At 7:47 PM, October 20, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Isaac - welcome to my blog. ;-)

    In the revelation 14:6, the gospel is referred to as the everlasting gospel. We see the same idea in Paul's description of how Abraham was saved. Even though Abraham was saved under a different covenant, yet he was not saved by a different gospel, but was justified (i.e. saved from God's wrath) by grace through faith just as we are saved today from God's wrath (by grace through faith).

    When we talk about being born from above (born again), we are talking about a very specific -new covenant only- phenomenon. Jesus, in John 14:17 explained to His disciples that the ministry of the Holy Spirit was about to go through a radical change. The Spirit of truth, whom the world could not receive, because it did not see or know Christ, was going to come in a different manifestation - They already knew of the Holy Spirit for even during Abraham's life, and the life of all the old Testament saints, the Holy Spirit had been dwelling -with- them, but after Christ died and rose again, He would not leave them orphans, but send the Holy Spirit to them with a better ministry - for the Holy Spirit was about to come to them and not dwell merely "with" them, but would be -in- them.

    This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is what Jeremiah had foretold (c.f. Jeremiah 31:31-34) and was later articulated again by John the Baptist when He spoke of Christ's coming ministry - for John was immersing men with water but the coming Christ was going to immerse men with the Holy Spirit and with fire. This experience was what Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about in John chapter three, and it is the basis for Paul's defense of against the charge that Christianity produces lawlessness in Romans chapter six.

    We want to keep this clear in our understanding - the new covenant was not that God was going to start saving people from His wrath, for He was already doing that under the old covenant using the same gospel that was saving people in the new covenant. The new covenant was that God would sanctify those whom He saved through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    To put it another way - unless you are born from above (receive the indwelling Holy Spirit through faith after the inauguration of the new covenant), you will by no means "see" the kingdom of God (which is to say, you will by no means become subject to the Lordship of Christ, and thereby obey God in Spirit and in truth.) These are deeeeeeep things here, so I don't want to brush past them too quickly. The kingdom of God has a King - Jesus Christ, and obedience to that King is not optional - if you obey you are in the kingdom, and if you do not you are not in the kingdom. Plain and simple, but it can be misconstrued if you are thinking in terms of entering into the kingdom through obedience - for one enters not through obedience, but rather through genuine faith, which causes the Holy Spirit to indwell the believer, and produce the genuine obedience that we are talking about. The Holy Spirit causes you to want to obey Christ, so as many as receive the indwelling spirit - these same, through tested by trials and tribulations in the flesh - though imperfect in their obedience on account of their flesh and their immaturity - these I say, overcome, and obey - or said another way, these are made to repent, or said still another way, these bow their knees sincerely to their Lord, King, and Savior Jesus Christ.

    The eternal gospel had already justified Peter and the other disciples by grace through faith -prior to Pentecost-; It wasn't as though they were unbelievers until Pentecost then they started believing and were only just then saved. Rather they were saved but were still under the old covenant economy until the Holy Spirit (the Promise) came at Pentecost.

    We make the distinction to draw some hard lines between the gospel and the new covenant. The same gospel that justified Abraham before God, justifies us.

    We see here, I hope, a distinction between our being born from above (which is receiving the Holy Spirit in a one time anointing at the moment of our conversion) and our conversion itself.

    Now for Peter and the disciples it is plain that their regeneration (justification) happened before they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Prior to that they were saved, but the Holy Spirit's ministry had been external and not internal - He was with them, but no yet in them. After that the Holy Spirit indwelt them and the New Covenant in Christ's blood was inaugurated.

    It works the same way for us today. The Holy Spirit is certainly with us -before- we are born again, for He it is the Holy Spirit who ministers to us convicting us of the sin we must repent of, and also of the truth of the gospel. But being the recipient of this ministry does not make us born again, or even saved, it just means that we have become partakers of the Holy Spirit's ministry. The moment we believe however, two things happen: [1] we are justified by the eternal gospel, and (because we are saved under the new covenant and not the old, [2] the Holy Spirit immediately indwells us according to the new covenant and begins to sanctify us.

    Regeneration happens as we surrender to the gospel and even though it happens at the same moment the Holy Spirit comes into us (that is, in the same moment as we are born again) - yet it is still correct to think of regeneration as being separate from being born again.

    That is how it seems to me at least. Being able to differentiate between the gospel that justifies and the covenant that sanctifies clears a lot of the cobwebs out of my thinking on this.

    Let me know if my understanding helps you or just confuses you more.

    Dan
    <><

     
  • At 12:02 AM, October 21, 2007, Blogger St.Lee said…

    Daniel, I wanted to leave a comment about how good your advice was about the goodness of God, repentance and sanctification. Trouble was, by the time I was done reading through the comments I could hardly remember what the main point of the original post was about!

    Since the comments are already quite a way off track, I'll just say I really don't see any basis for seperating "regeneration" and "born again". Don't the definitions of the terms naturally lead one to see them as different terms for the same event? Can you point to some scripture to show them as seperate events?

    When Jesus told Niccodemus "Ye must be born again" and then a few verses later chides him for being a "master of Israel" and not knowing these things, it certainly gives me the impression that being born again was not something that began at pentecost.

    At least that is what my simple reading and my simple mind leads me to. And yes, I did read all of the post and all of the comments.

    But, as I stated first, I found the original post most edifying. Thank you for it.

     
  • At 4:28 AM, October 21, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    St. Lee, thanks for dropping in, for reading the whole thing, and for commenting and questioning.

    Here is where nomenclature seems to get in the way of the thought I am trying to express, so bear with me as I try and clean up that thought, and perhaps this will help to clean that up - keep in mind that the point I am making in the meta here is to make a distinction between the new covenant anointing and the eternal gospel. The former was inaugurated at Pentecost while the latter predated the law of Moses.

    Being "regenerate" means being justified by grace through faith, and being justified in this manner had been going on since before the law of Moses was ever spoken. Before Moses gave the law, God was already justifying people by faith and not by works. There were Jews in Paul's day (just as there are many today), who presume that one is justified by keeping the law, but Paul shows clearly that the purpose of the law was not to invent a new works-based means of justification, but that we have always been justified, not by keeping the "new" law that Moses delivered, but in the same way men have always been justified - by trusting in the promises of God.

    I am restating Paul's argument that is, I am reaffirming "what" justifies us so that we do not mistake the cause for the effect. We are not justified -by- being born from above, rather we are justified by grace through faith and in the moment we are thus justified we are also anointed (indwelt) by the Holy Spirit unto sanctification.

    I want to be up front with you here. The distinction I am making has hardly any meaning at all this side of Pentecost since even if the one is a new covenant thing that only began at Pentecost - ever since then the two things are always coupled together anyway, such that when we refer to our salvation we are refering to both our justification and the beginning of our sanctification and we refer to them as the same event without giving any thought to the building blocks of that event.

    Which is only to say, that even if I am careful to articulate the distinction, practically speaking, the distinction has little merit, and I fully recognize that.

    Now, to your question...

    What began at Pentecost was the fulfilling of the new covenant.

    Jesus told Nicodemus that unless he was born from above he could not [1] see the kingdom of God and again that unless someone was born of water and the Spirit they could not [2] enter into the kingdom of God, and again that [3] even as the wind (pneuma: wind or spirit) blows (pneo: blows or breathes)wherever it wishes and you hear the sound (phone: sound or voice) of it but cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. That is a marvelous pun in the original Greek, since it also is saying that the Spirit breathes wherever He chooses to breath, and you hear His voice, but you cannot tell where He is arriving from or departing to - in this way the one who has been born of the Spirit is born.

    I think the instruction in John 3:8 about -how- a person is born of the Spirit is what confused Nicodemus. How can it be that the Holy Spirit breathes on whomever He chooses, and only that one is born from above, and the ones whom He departs from are not?

    The answer Jesus gave was an admonishment. It was as though Christ were saying, Nicodemus, you being the teacher of Israel ought to understand that God shows mercy upon whom He shows mercy, and that is -"how"- a person is born of the Spirit.

    Nicodemus, like the rich young ruler, had come to Christ because He knew that Christ had come from God. Christ answered Nicodemus, but the narrative records no question, so we must infer the question from the answer. The answer was not "you must be born again" - but if you read closely I think you will agree the answer is "You do not do generate spiritual things yourself, but God must give them to you". To be sure, "being born" is the perfect picture of that inability to cause a thing to happen - for who causes their own birth?

    Now, you asked me specifically to point to scripture that shows regeration and being born from above to be separate events, and I am glad you asked that because it forces me to be more articulate.

    Recall two things. First recall how the Lord taught his disciples to pray: "Thy kingdom come", yet Jesus when everywhere preaching that the time was fulfilled and that the Kingdom of God was at hand.

    Now, I don't see any contradiction in this because the kingdom was about to be inaugurated - that is, it was "at hand" - but wasn't yet inaugurated during Christ's life.

    That is Jesus -was- the coming King who would sit (as promised) on David's throne (meaning would reign eternally over the Israel of God), but during the incarnation Jesus wasn't sitting yet ascended to the throne. So in that sense, the kingdom was at hand, but hadn't yet come...

    Looking back to the discussion Christ was having with Nicodemus, in the light of the whether or not the kingdom had yet come, we conclude that the references to seeing and entering this kingdom were references to the coming kingdom and not to an already present kingdom.

    That gives us some room to chew I think. It is difficult to slice and dice here, because the language is symbolic. That is, I don't feel 100% comfortable saying "Jesus was not talking about justification, but rather the inauguration of the new covenant" - for there is room for Jesus to be speaking of both, and since the conversation turns shortly thereafter from earthly things to heavenly things - that is, from "who does what" here in the now to "what is being done" eternally I find it would be wiser to be cautious here as opposed to overly dogmatic. The Spirit in the here and now has been giving life to whomever He wills, but this is just the outworking of an eternal work of God, for God so loved the world, that He sent His Son into the world to save it.

    The question really before us is what does being "born again" refer to? Does it refer to that same justification that had always been going on, or does it refer to something new that had yet to come? Or both?

    Those who were justified by grace through faith prior to Pentecost were certainly saved, but since the kingdom hadn't come yet, they were not "born" into it yet. When the kingdom came at Pentecost, those who were believers were born again into the New Kingdom - and thereafter, anyone who was saved was saved into the new kingdom.

    The distinction therefore is almost pointless since it is clear that everyone who is saved who now enters into the kingdom of God.

    Yet if we are going to occupy ourselves with questions such as - which comes first: repentance or faith - only then do we bother dissembling these things - and for no other reason than to say with a better(?), more complicated clutter: the two happen at once, though one is a reflection of the other...

    Anyway, it is late and I have to get on with other things right now. Let me know if that answers your question or not, and thanks for showing interest.

     
  • At 8:11 AM, October 21, 2007, Blogger Susan said…

    Daniel,

    I confess that I hadn't read the entire post until this morning. The topic was of interest, but after the first few paragraphs I was skimming (as you say) and therefore didn't finish the post.

    Today, however, I started to read the post from the bottom up. The post was still up, and I wanted to see whatever point you were getting at. Then I kept moving up and rereading to the end.
    Perhaps an even lengthier read thusly than that which I was avoiding when I first skimmed the post, but worth the time.

    You may (or may not) know this is a needed lesson for me now. I don't know how many Christians go through this, but it seems to be a periodic thing with me. Not frequent, but I've been here before.

    Your counsel is wise and accepted. As of late, I keep getting this nudge (for lack of better word) to focus on Christ, focus on Christ rather than whatever sin or situation is going on.

    In addition to the current pull of the world, which I hope will pass if I indeed look to Him, there is a more constant situation with which I live that somewhat demands that I continually look to Christ. It's something I can't blog about, but it's teaching me that my relationship with the Lord is singular. It must not depend on anyone but Him.

    I'm also realizing as I go through this drawing back/return doesn't happen in a day. It seems to take time. I suppose I wallow in the mud longer than I ought, staring at the mud and not the mansion on the hill. Although the first time repentance occurred, it was in the blink of an eye.

     
  • At 9:58 AM, October 21, 2007, Blogger St.Lee said…

    Daniel, thanks for your response. Just to clarify, I didn't exactly "drop in". Your blog is one that I have been following since I found it more than a year ago. I don't comment often, because usually it would just be an "Amen".

    I did follow your point and your reasoning, I am just not sure I can aggree with it. My stumbling block is still the similarity of the two terms. Born again, regeneration. My mind equate the "re" in regeneration with the "again" in born again. The "generation" in regeneration to the "born" in born again. I have been led to believe that the new birth is when a man's dead spirit is made alive by the working of God.

    I agree that this distinction has little practical use for us, and I have probably already wasted too much of both or our time discussing it. Again, I think the whole repentance/ sanctification issue is a much more valuable subject. At least that is where I should be spending my study time since that is an area I feel that I am constantly falling short. That is why I follow your blog, I always find it edifying.

    Have a wonderful Lord's Day!

     
  • At 1:22 PM, October 21, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Susan, it is good to see the forest for the trees in a struggle of this kind, thanks for commenting.

    St. Lee, I am just glad you commented, I really had to look hard at what I said after your comment, and such reflection is always welcome since it causes me to shift from breeze over gear to look-at-what-you're-saying gear. Sometimes taking a step back helps you to articulate it better and see where things went south.

    My Lord's day been pretty wonderful so far - so thanks mang.

     
  • At 11:12 AM, October 22, 2007, Blogger Magnus said…

    Daniel,

    I want to tell you that you are an amazing teacher &/ writer. I have been struggling to make sense of the Arminian and Calvinist debate for awhile now and feel that you are one the Calvinistic sides most gifted advocates. While I am still uncertain about these things and at times want to forget that I have ever learned of Calvinism and Arminianism for at times I do not see how it is too important to being a Christian.

    I admit that I cling to the Arminian belief because it gives me some hope that perhaps I can play a role in my ultimate salvation, but I have yet to be able to reconcile prevenient grace in the Arminian doctrine. Perhaps God is revealing to me that prevenient grace as used by Arminian's is not Biblical, but I search for it and pray that I can reconcile it in my mind. For to me the whole Arminian doctrine hinges on that very thing and it must make sense and be Biblical for me to hold on to it.

    I hope that one day you will tackle prevenient grace as I feel that you will give an honest and thorough study on it. Thank you for taking the time to blog and to share your gift with some of us whom you do not know.

    Magnus

     
  • At 2:30 PM, October 22, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Magnus, You have heard of the immaculate conception I suppose. It is that Catholic doctrine that teaches that Mary, in a special one time act of grace, was born without sin, and kept from sinning by God until at least the birth of Christ - though many Catholics believe that God kept Mary sinless to her death.

    Now why would Rome dream up such a thing?

    The answer is because the Catholic church teaches that we inherit "original sin" from our parents. Which, if that were true, would mean that Jesus must have inherited original sin from Mary. In order to correct that possibility, the immaculate conception was invented.

    I find it rather laughable in a sad way - here they have one doctrine (original sin) that clearly has a big hole in it (Jesus must have inherited original sin), so rather than conclude that their understanding of original sin was skewed, they instead invented a work around. Clearly their understanding of original sin was written in stone, and could not be wrong -therefore God must have done something special for Mary.

    The immaculate conception loudly testifies to how far men have gone to hold onto a doctrine that is clearly not biblical - that is, going so far as to presume that what cannot be found in scripture must be true never the less because they are -that- sure, that their original guess as to how it all works must be the -right- one.

    Now, I don't mean this in any insulting way, but I do see prevenient grace as the "immaculate conception" of Arminianism.

    The mother who loves her two year old child is of course free to allow her child to continue traveling north and into four lines of rush hour traffic. She has the freedom to choose that. No one would deny that she has that "freedom". Likewise she is free to ignore the prompting in her heart to call out to her little one - to rush to him and stop him from running into traffic. But no matter how free she is to make these choices, she isn't really free to choose them. She is bound by her love to choose to save her child from calamity.

    She has no freedom at all when it comes to what her desire is going to be - she can only freely choose to act on it or not. And if the nature of the desire is strong enough - even the freedom she has to choose becomes only hypothetical, since she is not going to choose against her desire.

    Likewise, as a Calvinist I don't pretend that God's grace makes me a robot so that I act contrary to my will - rather God grants me a desire that is contrary to my nature - the desire to turn to him in faith - and though I have an hypothetical choice to ignore it, the choice is entirely hypothetical, because the moment I desire God, I am bound by that desire to choose him, or I never desired him in the first place.

    So yeah, there is freedom, but that freedom is limited in that it is mostly hypothetical. When God gave me the desire to turn away from my sins - I had the hypothetical freedom to say no, in the same way that the loving mother can hypothetically ignore the impending doom of her beloved child when she is in an easy position to do something about it, no one would argue that the freedom isn't there, its just that no one would ever freely choose to exercise it.

    Scripture says that no one seeks after God. The arminians says that God gives everyone prevenient grace so that even though scripture says no one seeks after God, now with prevenient grace, anyone who wants can seek after God. The Calvinists says, no one seeks after God, therefore those who come to God do so because God himself has drawn them.

    In scripture we see that with the conversion of Paul - it wasn't that God had offered prevenient grace to everyone and Paul just sort of changed his mind one day - it was that Christ came to Paul personally and drew Paul (who was about as far away as you could get from Christ), to Himself. The Calvinist says that while we might not all see Christ as a blinding unapproachable light - yet we all meet with Christ the same way - that Christ is no respecter of persons - that just as Christ came to Paul, so He comes to all his own - that He Himself calls them, and that as many as are called come. Not that they become robots, but that just as the mother freely chooses to answer her heart's desire, so to we come to Christ through a desire that we did not offer because we were dead in our sins and incapable of generating it.

    I am rambling now, but I hope that helps a little.

     
  • At 5:00 PM, October 22, 2007, Blogger Magnus said…

    Daniel,

    Being a Methodist it has been very frustrating to see the lack of support for prevenient grace offered by our great theologians. My basic study has shown that most of the texts that are used can in no way justify how we need this prevenient grace to work. I must say that it has caused me great stress to realize that what I had been taught could in all likelihood be all wrong. I had convinced myself that the Arminian view was right when it talked about its opposition to TULIP, but then out of the blue I thought of how prevenient grace as it is being used does not jive with Scripture. I then realized if that is wrong then how can all the stuff that derives from it be right? My friends are no help they tell me not to worry and that Calvinism is evil and that there is no irresitible grace mentioned in Scripture explicitly either, but I am drawing no comfort from that. Anyways, thanks for your time and your taking the time to blog.

    Magnus

     
  • At 5:53 PM, October 22, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Magnus, I wish more Calvinists would examine what they believe with the earnestness you are showing. It is folly to be a Calvinist just because your parents were, or your church is. One ought to be a Calvinist (or Arminian for that matter) because they are convinced of these things from scripture.

    The label "irresistible grace" is just the unfortunate label we use to describe how God makes himself known to us. The pearl of great price is doesn't turn the man into a robot and cause him to sell everything to purchase it - the man sees the value of the pearl, and wills to sell all to purchase it. The man who sees the treasure in the field doesn't become a robot and sell all his treasures in order to buy the field because he has no control - rather it is that he uses the free will he has and directs it immediately to securing what has been shown to be a great treasure.

    Irresistible grace could be understood in this way, not that we are robots who have no free will, but that God opens our heart so that we suddenly see His profound worth, and seeing this treasure we gladly and freely give up our old life to secure it.

    Scripture describes God as opening Lydia's heart in order that she could heed the things spoken by Paul. It doesn't say that God controlled her, it says that God opened her heart. She had no heart for the truth Paul was expounding to her - but God gave her the heart for it - or said another way, he gave her the desire for it. She freely followed that desire.

    The question is can a person ignore a desire that God gives them, and if a person insists that they can, I think they don't understand what it means to receive a God given desire. The answer is no, they cannot resist such a desire - who can see the beauty and worth of Christ? Those whom God shows the beauty and worth of Christ. Who can resist desiring God when God reveals Himself to them? Consider Paul's conversion and you have your answer. You could not find a more anti-Christian zealot on all the face of Palestine than Paul of Tarsus. Yet when God revealed Himself to Paul, Paul's desire was for the Lord.

    So it is with everyone who is saved. We can put labels on these things - but the bottom line is that the desire for God comes from God and not from our dead and sinful flesh - how could what is corrupt desire what is incorrupt? What fellowship does darkness have with light? What leopard can change his own spots?

    Anyway I gotta long ride home. let me know if I have helped at all.

     
  • At 6:00 AM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    James 1:18 says, "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures." [ESV]

    That sums up the moment of salvation well. Romans 9:16 adorns that truth in this way, "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."

    The moment of justification, the moment we are saved from God's wrath and put into Christ eternally - in that moment the truth of the gospel works effectively in us - but it was no random effect, as though the speaking of God's word were some arbitrary thing and its effect a mere possibility - no, for the prophet says in Isaiah 55:11, "so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."

    God has willed the elect be saved, of His own will he brought them forth -by- the word of truth. It never depended upon the recipient of faith - not that recipients ability to will the right thing, or to do the right thing - but upon God who showed mercy to that individual, by giving him the word of truth in such a way that it did not go out from God such that it came back empty, but it succeeded in the purpose God sent it out for - that is, it saved the man.

    That is what John means when he says that no one comes to the son unless the father draws him.

    I hope that addendum helps.

     
  • At 9:29 AM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Magnus said…

    Daniel

    You have been a great help and make things easy to understand. I have no idea why I keep struggling with this, but maybe God is working on me slowly and deliberately to where when it does click I will be secure and have no doubts on that matter. Every time I think I have it I try to explain it and it causes me to doubt again. I am the type of person that I need to KNOW what I believe and then to be able to defend it when challenged on it.

    I do enjoy your blog and visit your site on a regular basis. Keep up the great teaching and writing.

    Magnus

     
  • At 9:55 AM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Magnus, faith is a certainty that God will keep his promise, and it is strengthened not by gritting our teeth, but by seeing God more clearly, that is, by reading God's word and seeing His character reflected in it. The truth will only persuade us in proportion to how reliable we regard the source to be. Thus the more we are familiar with the person of God as revealed in His word, the less doubt we have. I have spent fruitless years pursuing feelings of security, and have learned I think, that pursuing God is far more assuring. Which is not to suggest that you are doing otherwise, but rather is only to say as much for those who may be reading and may benefit first from hearing that we all struggle with truth from time to time, and secondly by hearing that faith is strengthened by having a better vision of the one we place our faith in - well, I shall have considered my time in typing this well spent.

    Thanks again Magnus.

     
  • At 10:39 AM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Magnus said…

    Reading your last comment I remembered a quote, I have since forgotten who said it or the exact words... Learning about God is different than knowing God. Perhaps you are right Daniel, I am trying to learn about God when I should spend more time knowing Him.

    magnus

     
  • At 12:03 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Even So... said…

    No Original Sin, Daniel?

     
  • At 12:20 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Oh, there is original sin, but it doesn't look like what the Catholics have painted it to be. Not some inherited culpability by which the infant who dies must go to hell to pay for Adam's sin - no, not that JD.

     
  • At 3:39 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Even So... said…

    What then, please elaborate...I am thinking in terms of category and validity, like sin as condition, volition, an "age of accountability", etc...how do these things come into play with yuor understanding of original sin?

     
  • At 4:57 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    JD. That is the stuff of another post altogether!

    Suffice it to say that Augustine had concluded from scripture and experience that all men are inclined to sin and will do so at the first opportunity. I certainly believe that, and I believe it from scripture - it is the part that doesn't come from scripture that I have trouble with.

    According to my understanding our inclination to sin does not come to us through Adam's bloodline, but rather through Adam's curse directly, a curse that Christ did not inherit, being no son of Adam.

    If you study that curse you will find in it the seeds of my understanding (or lack thereof) in the matter. For I see in the curse a full explanation of our sinfulness being entirely a consequence of our separation from God, such that the moment we are able to sin, we do so.

    I shall speak more on this.

     
  • At 5:59 PM, October 23, 2007, Blogger Even So... said…

    I look forward to it...BTW, I would like to see what you think of your understanding vis a vis the classic Reformed perspective on original sin, and infant election as per this, etc...

     
  • At 6:53 AM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    I think anyone who dies without having personally sinned goes to heaven, because scripture teaches that a child shall not be put to death for the sins of the father, meaning that unless Christ intervenes Adam pays for Adams sin, and Daniel pays for Daniel's sin, and Daniel by no means pays for Adam's sin.

    I think that Christ bears all our sin on the cross, and not only the sins we are aware of and thereby confess. If only our confessed sins were upon the cross, Christ would avail no one. That thought influences my opinion about whether a person becomes culpable for sin the moment they transgress, or do they only become culpable the moment they knowingly transgress. I am inclined to think that they become culpable the moment they knowingly transgress - that is, the moment that their sin is not an act of ignorance, but an act of willful rebellion. Thus, if a child dies at some young age having exhibited the sinful character of man, but having not done so as an act of rebellion - I think their unconfessed sins are on the cross with Christ along with my unconfessed sins - but that opinion is founded primarily upon my estimation of God's character, and only secondarily inferred from what I have found elsewhere in scripture. Surely when the Israelites refused to go into the promised land after ten of the twelve who came back from scouting out the promised land gave a bad report - but God drew a line in the sand there, if you will recall, that everyone who was twenty or older would perish in the wilderness. God could have said all of them, but God didn't hold those under the age of twenty accountable. So it isn't like we haven't seen this in the character of God, it is just a question of where do we draw the line?

    Some children come to a saving relationship with Christ as early as four years old, others cannot comprehend the gospel till later. I find it entirely contrary to the revealed character of God in scripture to imagine that God will hold accountable those who are unable to comprehend the gospel, so I think the age of accountability is tied to ones ability to comprehend ones sinfulness and need of God for salvation. If a child dies before this happens, I believe that the child goes to heaven. If a full grown adult is mentally incapable of understanding his sin or the gospel and that person dies - I believe their unconfessed sin is put on Christ.

    No one comes to God except through Jesus Christ, and it was Jesus Christ who said, let the children come to me.

    Thus througout history, in every country regardless of whether Christ is preached or not in that country - God saves. Jesus came to call sinners, not the righteous - that is, He came to call those who have rejected god, not those who haven't.

    It isn't a hill to die on, but it is my present take. It needs much polish I suppose, but I think that answers some of your original questions.

     
  • At 10:33 AM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Even So... said…

    It does, and well, keep polishing and perhaps changing, as will I...

    (enter advocatus diaboli)

    So abortion is actually a good thing, no?

    (this devil's advocate driveby was intended as a chnace to polish)

     
  • At 10:46 AM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    So abortion is actually a good thing, no?

    In the same way the murder of Christ was a "good" thing, if you take my meaning.

     
  • At 2:54 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Even So... said…

    We culpable of doing the most heinous things, He capable of turning those into good in the ultimate sense...

     
  • At 3:09 PM, October 24, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bingo.

     
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