This is my response to Jason's latest entry titled "Garrett's Response 5.1."
Jason begins by writing:
"What follows is in regard to Garrett's post: http://old-baptist-test.blogspot.com/2011/07/jasons-5th-revised.html
"Not only are discipleship and sonship "consistent" but so are regeneration and conversion. But, what Jason means by "consistent with" is simply that the regenerated will possibly or likely be converted to Jesus, not that they absolutely will."
What Garrett is not considering is the strength of this position to explain a gradual gospel belief. Let us examine Nicodemus. He appears in the gospel of John three times. First, by night, at which time Jesus spoke to him of the necessity of being born again (John 3). Second, Nicodemus argues for a fair hearing of Jesus with his fellow Pharisees in regard to taking Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:45-53). Thirdly, Nicodemus seems to openly show discipleship in bringing a kingly amount of spices to assist Joseph of Arimathaea in preparing the body of Jesus (John 19:38-42).
Do we presume that Nicodemus was unregenerate because he does not show strong enough evidence of spiritual life? Garrett's soteriology implies a Pauline experience of regeneration/conversion as the norm when it was exceptional in nature. Surely Garrett is familiar with many professed believers in Jesus Christ that cannot point to a specific time that they came to believe in the gospel. If regeneration incorporates gospel faith or if regeneration is part of a process that necessarily extends to gospel conversion immediately, how does one understand the process of coming to faith in Nicodemus, or the rejection of Christ by Peter? Or 2 Timothy 2:13?"
First, it is to be noticed how Jason has stopped replying to my arguments and begins to make affirmative arguments. Of course, I started this in the affirmative and Jason in the negative. This is clear because he began his blog in order to negate my writings on hardshellism. But, now he does not like the negative and wants to go into the affirmative mode. Interesting and revealing, is it not?
Second, Jason's reference to "gradual belief" and his argumentation thereupon is only such that a Hardshell Hyper Calvinist could make.
And, what about the case of Nicodemus? Did he trust his salvation to Jesus and to his coming into the world? If so, when? Was he born again when he first came to Christ "by night" in John 3? Most Hardshells would affirm that he was born again at such a time, when he had not yet come to believe that Christ was the Son of God and Savior of the world.
Jesus said to Nicodemus - "YOU (Nicodemus) must be born again." Obviously, Nicodemus was not "born of water and of the Spirit" at that time! Every old Hardshell from the 19th century that I have read have all said that these words to Nicodemus show that he was, though a religionist, a lost man, not saved, not born again. Jason, if he argues like most of his neo-Hardshell brethren, will be affirming what Christ denied! Affirming that Nicodemus was already born again when Jesus said that he needed to be born again. Jason will also be affirming a contrary view to his own forefathers of the 19th century. Neo-Hardshells argue that Nicodemus' belief that Jesus was a "miracle doer" and a "teacher" come from God is proof of his prior regeneration. But, Jesus did not see it as evidence of his already being born again, for he told Nicodemus that he needed to be born again, which he would not say if he were already born again.
Jason believes that Nicodemus' asking the Sanhedrin to give Jesus a fair hearing is proof of his regeneration! Unbelievable! Pilate and Herod also gave Jesus a "fair hearing," or at least the same kind of hearing as Nicodemus argued for in the Sanhedrin. Jason will have do better than that in order to prove that one has been "born again."
Jason then refers to the latter end of the gospel story where Nicodemus anoints the body of Christ with kingly ointment. He thinks this is proof that Nicodemus was at least born again at this time. Well, that may or may not be. One cannot say for sure, including the Hardshells. But, even if we grant that he was born again at this time, the Hardshells cannot divorce faith in a known Christ from being coupled together with his regeneration/new birth experience.
Further, I do believe, as the scriptures and old Baptist teachings demonstrate, that not just any kind of faith or believing will save a man. There are kinds of faith/believing that is no part of regeneration, but, there is a genuine kind of faith/believing that is part and parcel of being "born again" of water and Spirit. The faith/believing of "demons" will not save nor is it a proof of regeneration. By the way, as an aside, those Hardshells that see simple faith in theism as an evidence of regeneration must, to be logical and consistent, accept the idea that the demons are born again! Solomon said - "The simple believeth every word." (Prov. 14: 15) This simple belief is exemplified in children believing in Santa Claus. This kind of "believing" is seen in the shallow ground hearer of the parable. He "believed for awhile and then fell away." He was what is called a simple temporary believer. He believes only in a "shallow" manner as "shallow" heart people do. His belief is not of the saving kind, does not include full conviction nor a trust and commitment to Christ. He believes in things people say about Christ, on a superficial level, but he does not believe it with his whole heart. But, believing with full conviction and with deep heart felt trust and confidence, is what saves and is what is produced in being born again. The shallow ground hearer's "heart" is neither "good" nor "honest," for only the "good soil" is both "good" and "honest." Shallow ground, like rocky or stony ground, is not "good" soil for seed and plant growth. Thus, if the "believer" does not have a "good and honest heart," he must have an evil and dishonest heart. Simply put, this "believer" was a "simple" believer, a demonic kind of believer, a "dishonest" and insincere believer.
By the way, let Jason answer this question - "if good seed is sown into good ground, will it always and necessarily produce fruit or a plant?"
Jason next brings up the case of Peter once again. But, once again he fails to prove Hardshell premises from references to the case of Peter. Jason says that Peter increased in his faith and understanding and from this fact wants to enquire as to the time when his belief was equal to his regeneration. In Matthew 16 Peter says "thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." John says "whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." (I John 5: 1) Thus, Peter was born again in Matthew 16. Therefore, since one cannot become unborn, or lose his regeneration life, his future need of "conversion" was not his regeneration, but of his conversion from false notions and beliefs. But, where has Jason ever shown that Peter was born again while without faith and understanding?
"Garrett's view of salvation is incapable of explaining severe disobedience in the children of God. Where was God's irresistible grace in Samson's life when he stopped off for a harlot?"
I may be "incapable" to "explain" to one blinded by Hardshell notions the relationship of the regenerated to sanctification and perseverance, but to others I should have no problem. My propositions/premises are stated clearly and unambiguously in scripture. But, Jason and the Hardshells have no clear-cut scripture passages which affirm that unbelievers will be finally saved.
Jason, from the above words, seems to now want to discuss the relationship of predestination and the divine decrees to regeneration, justification, calling, sanctification, perseverance, etc., and so we will follow him in this, though we should first finish our debate on whether the Hardshells are primitive Baptists or not, and on their denial of means in salvation and of the necessity of faith for salvation.
I cannot give much of a reply to Jason on the above remarks until he defines what he means by "severe disobedience." If by "severe disobedience" he means becoming a total apostate from faith in Christ, then I certainly do believe that this is impossible for the born again child of God. What saith the scriptures? "Whoever has this hope within him (whoever is regenerated) purifies (continually) himself." (I John 3: 3) "Whoever is born of God keeps himself." (I John 5: 18) Thus, if a professing believer in Christ is seen to be one who is not "purifying himself" habitually, and who is not "keeping himself," then it is proof that he was not "born of God." And, again, we have "universal categorical propositions" given in these passages, not limited categories. All those who are born again keep and purify themselves. John also said "whoever is born of God" will "overcome" (persevere) and this because their faith is begotten in their souls and such faith assures victory. (I John 5: 4) John also said of some temporary hypocritical believers who were apostates from faith in the truth of the gospel concerning Christ, - "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." (I John 5: 19) John said "whoever is born of God does not practice sin." (I John 3: 9)
"The final point to make here is that Garrett's view is ultimately contradictory. To illustrate this line of reasoning, I want to refer back to a statement Garrett made in reference to Luke 11:52:
"The scriptures teach that, from the human perspective, from the perspective of second causes, we may hinder others from being saved, just as we may help them to be saved.
Now, from God's perspective, men do not successfully hinder the elect from finally obtaining salvation, both regeneration and conversion. The passages do not say that the elect are kept from salvation, although they may be hindered for a time, so that they could have been saved earlier than they actually were. Men are hindered from being saved, looking at the matter from the standpoint of means and second causes, or from the human finite perspective."
Garrett would have us believe that the regeneration that entails or necessarily leads to gospel faith is absolutely predestined and unchangeably fixed, yet claims here that wicked men can hinder it for a time. Any space of time results in a contradiction with a necessary gospel belief. The actual point in time that God decreed gospel faith in the elect would have no delay; therefore, the wicked men are not actually hindering anything in the text in time or eternity. Surely Brother Garrett can see the problem here. It is not logically possible that a salvation absolutely determined at a specific point and time could happen "earlier"."
Hardshells do not have any problem with believing that being "regenerated" or "called" has been "predestined." "Whom he predestinated, them he called." I have shown that the scriptures and the old Baptist confessions and writings affirm that we are "called by the gospel" (II Thess. 2: 14), are "called by his word and Spirit" out of spiritual death (London Confession). So, yes, the foreknown and chosen have been predestined to be called by the gospel, in their lifetimes, to life, hope, faith, and repentance. But, Jason and the Hardshells believe that this calling is not by the gospel, contrary to Paul, however, and that only a vaguely defined "life" is produced by the divine "begetting." Peter says, however, that "hope" in Christ is also "begotten" by the word and Spirit in effectual calling (I Peter 1: 3), and John says that "faith" in Christ is also "begotten" in regeneration (I John 5: 4, 5), and agreeable to scripture, Jason has already admitted that love for God and Christ is produced in regeneration. But, how can Christian faith, love, and hope be produced in this divine birth apart from the Father teaching and convincing of gospel truth? Further, he either does this by personally teaching these things directly, or through gospel preaching.
Jason objects to my affirming that men, in scripture, are said to hinder others from being saved. But, he does not respond to the scriptural proofs I gave. Jason offers no scriptures to justify his rejection of the scriptures that I presented or to justify his propositions. Did Jason tell us what was the "kingdom" of Matthew 23? and of what it means not to "escape the damnation of Hell"? Is that some kind of temporal punishment, brother Jason?
My explanation is in accord with the prior beliefs of the old Baptists. Jason's is not. They believed that 1) The predestined time for God to regenerate/effectually call could not be hindered or prevented, and 2) People in scripture are said to be instruments in saving some and in hindering others from being saved. Jason thinks that one cannot hold both views because they contradict and therefore he believes that one of these propositions must be false. First, in response, where is the justification for believing that our ability to reconcile biblical propositions is the deciding factor for accepting them as truth? Can we comprehend the mind of God or fathom the mysteries of theology?
I showed how "perspective" is important in reconciling seemingly conflicting statements in the word of God. I can give lots of examples of this, but let me give one. First, the bible teaches that there is no such thing as "chance." Solomon said - "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD." (Prov. 16: 33) On this verse Dr. Gill wrote:
"This is to be ascribed, not to blind chance and fortune, to the influence of the stars, or to any invisible created being, angel or devil, but to the Lord only; there is no such thing as chance, or events by chance; those events which seem most fortuitous or contingent are all disposed, ordered, and governed, by the sovereign will of God." (Commentary)
Though we say, scripturally, that there is no such thing as "chance," yet we also believe there is such a thing as "chance." So, we say about "chance," that there is, and is not, such a thing. What we mean is, yes, in one sense, from the divine side and perspective, there is no such thing as "chance," but in another sense, from the human side and perspective, or the perspective of "second causes," there is such a thing as "chance." Solomon also said - "time and chance happeneth to them all." (Eccl. 9: 11) Is Solomon contradicting what he said in Proverbs 16: 33? Does he not believe in what are seeming contradictory teachings? Are both not true whether we can "reconcile" them or not? Of course, in this instance, we can see a reconciliation, as I have shown. Jason should respond to the scriptures I cited, in addition to the passage about "shutting up the kingdom against men," which state that second causes, and creatures, hinder men from being saved. Let me ask Jason - "would you agree that men and their depraved natures keep or hinder them from being saved?" If a man's own self and nature can prevent and hinder his salvation, then why cannot other means and second causes?
"Garrett effectively emptied the "hindering" of this text of any content whatsoever. So, again, what is hindered here if it is not eternal salvation?"
That is false, for I clearly showed that the "hindering from entering the kingdom of God" was hindering from eternal salvation, of entering the "everlasting kingdom of our Lord." (I Peter 1: 11) I also showed how this failure to enter the kingdom at the last day was connected with failure to "escape the damnation of Hell." Thus, this substantiates and justifies my interpretation and destroys Jason's proposition that says one cannot, in any sense, or from any perspective, keep another from being saved.
Further, Jason has no problem affirming that men hinder other men from being kept from temporal destruction, or from being saved by conversion or with a "time salvation," but does have a problem with saying the same things about eternal destruction and salvation. But, if both are the "work of God," then he is an object of his own protestation and condemnation. He will, of course, in order to try and be consistent with himself, affirm that conversion is not the "work of God" as is "regeneration." Is conversion the "work of God" brother Jason?
Further, God is continually "striving" by his word and Spirit with all men (Gen. 6: 3), is calling all men, witnessing to all men in their consciences (Rom. 2: 14, 15), and men are continuously "resisting" this influence, this striving and witnessing (Acts 7: 51 - "ye do always resist the Holy Ghost"), and are thus "hindrances" to the good that would be produced by "yielding" to the influence of the Spirit. So, when are sinners regenerated? It is when the natural resistance, and the resistance of second causes, are taken away by the Lord and the soul instantly "yields." (Rom. 6) Regeneration is the time when the soul is made to "surrender" to the Lord and his influence, when his resistance is conquered.
Next, Jason cites these words of mine:
"If we look at Paul's words in II Thess. 1: 8, 9, can we tell which proposition it is? Is it universal or limited? Does Paul say "some of those who know not God and obey not the gospel will not be eternally destroyed"? Does Paul affirm that some of the saved, who escape "eternal destruction," nevertheless did not know God and did not obey his gospel? Jason argues that the language is not universal but limited, avowing that Some S(unbelievers) are P (saved). But, the language of Paul will not allow a limited proposition. I do not need to use the words "all" or "every" in the proposition to affirm a universal proposition. They are necessarily implied (deduced). The absence of such words do not imply a limited categorical proposition."
Jason then responded by saying:
"All of this was unnecessary. Garrett failed to meet my argument here, which was that Paul cannot logically be understood in 2 Thess. 1:7-9 to mean that every single person is damned that has ever rejected Christ in even a single act of willful disobedience to the gospel. Was Peter damned? Plainly, Paul is understood to mean that those that live a life of gospel disobedience shall be damned."
I need not respond to Jason any longer. My rebuttal has not been met by what Jason here says. And, I do not want to waste time in rehashing. The words of Paul are a universal categorical proposition and Jason denies it.
It is interesting here that Jason says - "Paul is understood to mean that those that live a life of gospel disobedience shall be damned." It is a contradiction from what Jason just argued earlier! He wanted me to explain the relationship of salvation to the believer's lifestyle. He seemed to take the view that one could be "regenerated" and yet be a heathen worshipper of heathen gods and live in sin and disobedience. But, now he affirms that Paul taught that "those that live a life of gospel disobedience shall be damned." I don't think that most of today's Hardshells will agree with him on that. I am glad that he admits this much. I would ask Jason - "did God predestinate that you live this life of gospel obedience?"
Jason next cites these words of mine:
"When Jason reads John 5: 25, 28, about the "dead" ones "hearing" the "voice of the Son of God," and being quickened, does he not argue that this "voice" is not the gospel? That it is always effectual and irresistible? Yes, he does. Then why does he take a totally different view about hearing the voice of Christ in John 10? In John 10 the voice of Christ is the gospel, but not in John 5! In John 5 regeneration is the result of hearing the voice of Christ, but in John 10 conversion is the result of hearing the voice of Christ. In John 5 the voice cannot be resisted, but in John 10 it can be resisted!"
Jason then responded:
"John 10:27 corresponds to John 5:24, not 5:25. John 5:24, 25, and 28 show three distinct groups of individuals: those that presently hear the words of the gospel who have already passed from death to life by the life giving voice of Christ (24), the unregenerate that will be quickened by the life giving voice of Christ (25), and the physical dead that will be resurrected by the life giving voice of Christ (28)."
Jason is complicating what is important in the verses mentioning hearing the voice of Christ for salvation, or for being raised from spiritual death to spiritual life. The "voice" that is heard, Jason agrees, involves hearing with faith and understanding the "words" or teachings of Christ. In this he departs from the belief of his fellow Hardshells, and that is a good thing. Dr. Gill and the founding fathers of hardshellism taught the "voice of Christ" was equated with hearing the "gospel." This is what I showed was affirmed by Elder James Osbourn.
Hearing the "voice" of Christ occurs in two time periods in the life of the believer. He hears it first when he is quickened from spiritual death. But, Christ does not cease to speak to the believer nor do believers cease to hear it, after their regeneration, but they continue to hear it throughout their lives, and is the means assuring their sanctification and perseverance.
Jason is in error to associate the term "sheep" with being regenerated, as I have shown in previous replies, but with election. The dead sheep hear the voice of Christ and live.
"Though John 10:27 uses the word 'voice', it must be evaluated in context. The words of Jesus are in context, not his voice alone, as in 5:25, 28. It is the words of Jesus that the Pharisees of 10:25,26 failed to believe, not simply the sound of his voice. When Jesus contrasts his sheep to the Pharisees in 10:27 it is precisely in their disbelief of his words that the comparison is made. This is a natural reading of this text. When Jesus refers to his sheep in contrast to the Pharisees in 10:27 it is in the spirit of 5:24 - the words of Jesus are understood by those that have already passed from death to life, which is why the Pharisees believed not because they were not born again (in the spirit of Jesus' dialogue with Nicodemus in John 3)."
Jason says that the "voice" of Christ in John 5 is not the same thing as the "voice" in John 10. And why? Such a view fails brother Fralick's "Desert Island Test" for sure. No person reading these chapters for the first time would see any reason for thinking the "voice" of Christ is different in both contexts. If the "voice" of John 10, however, is in fact the same "voice" of John 5, that raises the spiritually dead, then Jason has affirmed gospel means, for he has defined hearing the voice of Christ, in John 10, to be hearing the gospel!
Notice what Dr. Gill said about John 5: 25.
"the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live; which may be understood either of a corporeal resurrection...or rather this is to be understood of a spiritual resurrection, and the rather, because this sense best agrees with the foregoing verse...so then by the "dead" are meant such who are dead in trespasses and sins...And by "the voice" of Christ is intended his Gospel, which is a voice of love, grace, and mercy, of life and liberty, of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by him; and which being attended with his power, is the means of quickening dead sinners; who may be said to hear it, when it comes not in word only, but in power, and works effectually in them; and is spirit and life, and the power of God unto salvation to them; when they receive it, understand, believe, and obey it: and such persons "shall live"; comfortably, pleasantly, and delightfully, a life of faith on Christ, a life of communion with him, and shall live eternally with him hereafter."