<<In the letter you forwarded to me that was sent to James White you deny that you condemn anyone to hell and that you do not require perfect theological knowledge for someone to be saved. However, your denial seems to contradict some things I've read on your web site. While you may not say the specific words (i.e. you don't state it that way) yet the implications of what you're saying are clear. Maybe you don't see this. If you are saying that John Calvin is not saved because of the few quotes you have discovered in his works that you disagree with, then are you not saying he is lost and therefore going to hell?>>
I am saying that he was lost (unregenerate) when he wrote those things, but I am not saying that he went to hell. If God did not regenerate him after he wrote those things and before he died, then he is in hell. But if God regenerated him after he wrote those things and before he died, then he is in heaven. I do not know.
<<You allow that he may have repented and actually been saved after he wrote those things, but that is not the point.>>
It certainly is. I cannot say that Calvin is in hell. Yet this is what I am being accused of.
<<The problem with your position is that you equate believing the gospel with understanding that salvation is the work of God alone and not based conditionally on anything the sinner does. Indeed, salvation is the work of God from beginning to end, but understanding this is not the gospel. "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Sciptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve...." (I Cor. 15:3-5) So here we see, of first importance, that Christ died for our sins (atonement) and that His death and suffering were real, appeasing God's wrath against our sins (propitiation), and that His resurrection was also real, declaring Christ's work on the cross as complete and accepted by God as payment in full for our sins. Now, can a lost sinner who, by God's grace, sees his need of salvation believe the gospel as it is plainly laid out here in I Corinthians and not understand all of the ramifications of it? If he believes that Christ died for him on the cross, that He paid the debt of his sin, and that God has accepted that payment in full, is he not saved? Even if he mistakenly thinks that he came to Christ of his own accord, not yet understanding that it was God that drew him to Himself?>>
Interesting you should bring up 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. Do those who believe that Christ died for everyone without exception believe the gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:3-5? Do they, as you have shown, believe in atonement and propitiation? No. Please see "Gospel Atonement" at www.outsidethecamp.org/gospatone.htm .
<<I think the Scriptures are quite clear on this point. No where is a sinner's salvation conditioned on his complete understanding of God's sovereignty in saving him.>>
I totally agree. Nowhere is a sinner's salvation conditioned on his complete understanding of God's sovereignty in saving him. In fact, nowhere is a sinner's salvation conditioned on ANY understanding of ANYTHING. Do you believe that a sinner's salvation is conditioned on his believing the gospel? Well, this is wrong, too! A sinner's salvation is conditioned SOLELY on the work of Jesus Christ. I have NEVER said or even IMPLIED that a sinner's salvation is conditioned on his understanding of anything. That's what you guys do not see. What I HAVE said is that when God saves a sinner, He gives that person an UNDERSTANDING and BELIEF of the GOSPEL. NOT a CONDITION of salvation, but an IMMEDIATE RESULT (FRUIT) of salvation. An understanding of the gospel includes an understanding of the basics of the gospel, which is the PERSON of Christ and the WORK of Christ. Every Christian understands that Jesus is the God-man mediator. And every Christian understands that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation.
<<"And it shall be, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:13) Your interpretation of Scripture has added this, but it is in fact not there.>>
Absolutely wrong. I do not add to this at all. What does it mean to "call on the name of the Lord"? Can a person call on the Lord's name while not knowing who the Lord is? Can a person call on the Lord's name while not knowing what the Lord has done?
<<Now, briefly, a word about your defense. It appears to me that you lay hold on the verses of Scripture that seem to buttress your position, but you do not directly address the verses that contradict your position. For example, I quoted Acts 16:31 in my last e-mail and you responded by pointing out that in Acts 16:32 "they spoke the word of the Lord to him......". Well, I certainly didn't deny that they did, but that is not addressing the fact that Paul and Silas' response to the Phillipian jailor's question, "what must I do to be saved?", was "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved....." To infer that "speaking the word of the Lord to him" means they explained to him further that he must believe that the work of salvation is God's from beginning to end is adding things into Scripture that are not there. If I am misunderstanding what you meant, please clarify this for me. Thank you for taking the time to respond to someone who doesn't agree with you about some things............>>
"Speaking the word of the Lord to him" means that he explained what it means to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. It means to believe in His PERSON and His WORK.
To God alone be the glory,
The primary fruit of Christian conversion is belief of the gospel. One can have a false love, a false joy, a false peace that mimics true love, true joy, and true peace, if that person believes a false gospel. The quotes from Calvin show that he believed a false gospel.
<<and gave his life to preaching the gospel, propogating it in the world as a reformer of the church, wrote multitudes of correspondence defending the truth, and is considered by the "orthodox" church as one of its foremost theologians and expositors.>>
If the "orthodox" church considers those quotes from Calvin to be orthodox and to be the true gospel, then the "orthodox" church isn't orthodox after all.
<<His breadth and depth of knowledge about the things of God are all over his works, yet because he would allow (not being dogmatic about it, because he is not infallible) that a sinner may be saved without believing that God has saved him from beginning to end, you say he is not a Christian (of course, you will say that the Bible is saying it, not you).>>
Calvin certainly had a lot of knowledge. But I think you're missing the reason why we consider him to be unregenerate when he made the statements. It is because he believed in universal atonement.
<<Astounding. So you, and not John Calvin (as is, remember), nor Charles Spurgeon, nor Arthur Pink, are going to heaven.>>
No, I never said that. I might see Calvin, Spurgeon, and/or Pink in heaven.
<<In spite of the fact that they all believed that Christ is the God-man mediator and that they understood that it is the work of Christ alone that makes the difference between salvation and damnation.>>
Wrong. See the Calvin quotes especially.
<<Let me ask you this, could you be wrong?>>
Not on the gospel.
<<No? You have infallible knowledge?>>
No. That is a non sequitur. I do not have infallible knowledge. But I do know what the true gospel is and that those who confess a false gospel are unregenerate.
<<The Holy Spirit has given you and the others with you a special knowledge He has not given the rest of the church?>>
I have no "special knowledge" that God has given me and not the rest of believers. All believers believe what I believe about the gospel.
<<Is your church the only true church?>>
No. There are true churches all over the world.
<<The problem here is one of definitions. Your definition of a regenerate man is more narrow than the Scriptures' definition. If someone tells me he loves the Lord, and believes in the Trinity, and trusts in Jesus Christ alone for his salvation, and produces fruits that show forth a true repentence from sin, then in spite of what he may or may not understand about the sovereignty of God in salvation, I accept him as a brother until he shows me otherwise. This is as far as the Bible warrants me to make a judgement. To you however, this "brother" is a self-deceived God-hater, regardless of the fruit he produces, regardless of the tears he may weep over his sins, regardless of his blameless testimony before the world, regardless of anything because he does not necessarily affirm (because he may lack understanding) that the work of salvation begins and ends with God. The Holy Spirit is not bound to reveal this truth to everyone that is saved, God is sovereign in choosing how much of Himself He will reveal to whomsoever He wills.>>
God's Word shows that when He saves someone, He gives that person an understanding and belief of THE GOSPEL, which includes the person and work of Jesus Christ. When He saves someone, He causes that person to REPENT of believing a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner. That is clear.
The whole "The Holy Spirit is not bound to reveal this truth to everyone that is saved" is a very lame argument. You could use this argument to say that Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, and even atheists are saved. After all, the Holy Spirit is not bound to reveal the truth to these people, is He?
<<To some, He will give enough understanding to be a babe in the Kingdom, to others He will pour out great knowledge and understanding. Do you not see this?>>
A person who believes in salvation conditioned on the sinner is not "a babe in the Kingdom"; he is totally outside the kingdom. Certainly Christians differ in knowledge and understanding. But there is certain knowledge and understanding that is common to ALL Christians, from babes to the most mature. EVERY Christian, from babes to the most mature, believe the GOSPEL of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.
<<If the only people that are truly saved are those that live up to your definition,>>
This is not my definition. It is the Bible's definition.
<<then how will those in the kingdom be "more that the stars of heaven and more than the sand on the seashore"? Even if you take the number from the beginning of time, are so few being saved?>>
God's people come from all nations, tribes, and tongues.
<<When your theology (which determines your practice) forces you into making unbiblical conclusions, then it is time to re-examine your theology. Who in the annals of church history would make the assertions you have made? How is it that you have come to have this knowledge that has been withheld from the church of Christ these two thousand years?>>
Same old tired arguments. This is not something new. Every believer from the beginning of the world has believed the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone.
<<Is God doing more through you and your church than He ever did through Geneva? Please prayerfully consider this Marc, there are some who understand that salvation is through Christ alone but still do not love the Lord.>>
Right -- these are the people who claim to believe the true gospel but who also speak peace to those who bring a false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner.
<<There are some who understand that salvation is through Christ alone that do not produce the fruits of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22-23 or show forth the Christian love defined in I Corinthians 13:4-7.>>
True love will not speak peace when there is no peace. If a doctor knows that a patient has a deadly disease and knows the cure, would it be loving to tell him that everything's alright? No -- this would be hatred. To tell a person who believes in and speaks peace to those who believe in a false gospel that everything is alright with his soul is not love; it is satanic hatred.
To God alone be the glory,
<<You assume the primary fruit of Christian conversion is a complete understanding of the atonement, when in fact the primary fruit
of Christian conversion is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance toward God.>>
What does "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ" mean? What does "repentance toward God" mean?
<<Did not the Lord say "Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all." (Lk 18:17)? Is not the meaning here that one must have a simple child-like faith, a faith that understands Jesus' love and His dying for sinners? A faith that lays hold of God's mercy in Christ? Or will you explain this passage away in order to fit into your theological box?>>
The atonement is not some "higher theology"; it is simple enough for even a child to understand.
<<Or Peter, did he not say "like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord" (I Pet. 2:2-3)? Did all these Christians the apostles were writing to understand every aspect of the atonement? Why did they have to grow then?>>
A Christian does not "grow" from believing the "milk" of the false gospel of salvation conditioned on the sinner to believing the "meat" of the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the work of Christ alone. Every Christian, from newborn to old, believes the GOSPEL, which includes the PERSON of Christ and the WORK of Christ.
<<Can you not discern the fruits of the Holy Spirit? Can a man repent unless it be given him from God? How is it that you attribute the work of the Spirit in the hearts of these sinners saved by grace to the devil?>>
When a secular person converts to Islam, he goes from immorality to morality. Would you say that this "repentance" is given him from God and that he is now a true believer?
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