"A related point is illustrated in 2 Timothy 2:18,19, "Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his."
Now, it is apparent that if a mediated, intellectual gospel belief is equated with faith, which is obtained and necessary in regeneration, it would of necessity persist as the basis of the vital union between Christ and the regenerate."
Jason's first error in interpretation is evident in his interpretation of what Paul meant when he spoke of "the faith." There is no question but that Paul equates "the faith" with "the truth." Thus, "the faith" does not refer to belief, or to the action of believing, but to the object of faith, to the gospel doctrine. I don't think Jason will deny that "the faith," in scripture, often refers to the doctrinal system of Christian beliefs. When Jude said that we ought to "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 3), he is referring to the Christian religion. When people ask - "what faith are you?" - they are asking "what is your religion?" Paul is said to "preach the faith which once he destroyed" (Gal. 1: 23). That is, he preached the gospel.
So, when Paul spoke of some having "the faith" of their profession "overthrown," he is talking about them having their set of beliefs overthrown, their religion, what they own as being "the (religious or theological) truth." The Greek word for "truth" denotes what is "real," or "reality," of what is genuine, what is not a falsehood or non-reality.
Jason argues that those professing Christians, such as Hymenaeus and Philetus, of whom Paul speaks, and who had "erred" in the foundational truth of the Christian religion about the doctrine of the resurrection, and who's "faith" was "overthrown," were nevertheless clearly regenerated. But, where does he get his proof that they were genuinely regenerated? Or, genuine believers of the gospel? Does Jason not merely assume it and then base his whole line of reasoning on that assumption? Is there anything in the context that would suggest that these were viewed as having been certainly regenerated? Further, if Jason cannot first prove that they were definitely regenerated, then all his reasoning upon his premise is to be rejected.
So, from what I have already said, Jason must prove two things. He must prove that "the faith" is not equated with "the truth," but refers to the action or state of believing. Second, he must show that these men were certainly believed by Paul to have been truly regenerated. If he cannot prove these things, then all his deductions based upon this unproven premise cannot be accepted.
As a side note, let me say that it is strange for me to have to be demonstrating to Jason, one who believes in the eternal security of all the elect and called, that the "errorists" that Paul references were not genuine born again children of God. Jason's view that they are in fact genuinely saved is the view of the Campbellites and Arminians with whom I have debated. They too argued that these errorists were genuine born again Christians and they say that this verse proves that you can lose your salvation. Jason agrees with this reasoning, but would say that these errorists only lost a "time salvation," but not their eternal salvation. But, the truth is, both the Campbellites and the Hardshells are wrong, for these errorists proved by their departure from "the faith" and "the truth" that they were never truly Christians. Wrote John:
"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 2: 19)
Hymenaeus and Philetus were not really "of us," for "had they been" truly "of us," then "they no doubt would have continued with us." But, their departure and apostasy was evidence of their status as impostors, as hypocrites, as empty professors.
My brother Jason ought always to read Dr. Gill on such passages. Dr. Gill wrote:
"and overthrow the faith of some; the Ethiopic version reads, "of many"; that is, of nominal professors of religion; not of true believers, for true faith cannot be overthrown. Hence it follows,
Ver. 19. Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure,...That faith, which is the faith of God's elect, is of the operation of God, and is the gift of his grace, and of which Christ is the author and finisher, is firm and immovable as a foundation; it is solid and substantial; it is the substance of things hoped for; and it is permanent and abiding; it stands sure, being supported by the power of God, and prevalent mediation of Jesus Christ; and so cannot be overthrown by false teachers, when an historical faith, or the faith of temporary believers may: or the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is here meant, which was said to be past by the above false teachers; which is a fundamental doctrine of the Gospel, without which the preaching of it is vain, and faith is vain; and which is a doctrine of God, of pure revelation; and this will be effected by his power: this stands sure upon the testimony of the patriarchs, prophets, and of Christ, and his apostles; upon the sure word and writings both of the Old and New Testament; and will stand its ground against all opposition, and will have its certain effect; for the Lord Jesus knows who are his distinctly and perfectly; nor will he lose them, nor anything that belongs to them; not their bodies, any more than their souls, nor any dust of theirs, but will raise it up at the last day. Or else the doctrine of eternal election may be here designed; which is the foundation of all spiritual blessings, of faith and of holiness, of joy and comfort here, and happiness hereafter, and even of complete and everlasting salvation; and is of God's laying, and is owing to his sovereign pleasure and free rich grace; and stands sure, not on the foot of works, but upon the unchangeable and unfrustrable will of God; and this secures from a final and total deception by false teachers: and also into the account may be taken the persons of God's elect themselves; who are of God's founding, and are as immovable as the firmest foundation whatever, even as rocks and mountains, and stand sure upon the rock of ages, Christ Jesus, and shall never perish; nor can they be deceived by false Christs and false prophets, but will remain safe and sound, when the faith of ever so many is subverted by them."
Gill believed what the apostle John believed. Apostasy from the Christian faith and gospel is evidence of a lack of genuine regeneration and conversion.
"In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached..." (Col. 1: 22, 23)
The apostle John also said the same:
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." (II John 1: 9)
It is clear that failure to continue in the fundamental doctrines of the gospel is proof of a lost condition, of a professing Christian who has not been truly regenerated and converted.
Gill said that "true faith cannot be overthrown." Thus, the errorists Paul mentions did not have true faith, were not genuinely saved. The "faith of God's elect" (Titus 1: 1) is such a faith. John said that faith is the Christian victory, and that all God-begotten faith would "overcome," that is, not be "overthrown." (I John 5: 4)
The scriptures speak of "the faith" of demons. (James 2) There is a "faith" that "stands in the wisdom of men," but another that "stands in the power of God." (I Cor. 2: 5) There is hypocritical and pretended faith, a "vain faith." (I Cor. 15: 14) In the latter passage, interestingly, Paul equates "the faith" of those who denied the resurrection with such a "vain" faith. There is a "faith" that men have "dominion" over, and there is a "faith" that only the Lord rules over. (II Cor. 1: 24) There is "unfeigned faith" (I Tim. 1: 5; II Tim. 1: 5) and there is a feigned faith.
So, what about those who "err from the faith," who apostatize from Christ and the gospel?
"For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows...O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen." (I Tim. 6: 10, 20, 21)
What did the apostle John say of those who don't abide in the doctrine of Christ? What does he say about those who "went out from us" Christians? What did Paul say about those who do not "continue in the faith grounded and settled" and who "move away from the hope of the gospel"? Further, about those who depart or err from "the faith," Paul wrote:
"...he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel." (I Tim. 5: 8)
What is the state of "infidels"? What is the state of those who do not have faith in the faith of the gospel (infidels)? "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth..." (II Thess. 2: 12)
Surely then, to be "worse than an infidel" is to be a lost unregenerate man. Those who deny the faith of the gospel, the faith of God and Christ, are doomed. Such apostates show, by their departure, that they are "reprobate concerning the faith." (II Tim. 3: 8)
Jason speaks about "a mediated, intellectual gospel belief is equated with faith." But, where has he ever proven that there is, in scripture, a non-mediated, non-cognitive, non-intellectual faith? Does not Paul say that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God"? Does he not ask - "how can they believe in (have faith in) him of whom they have not heard?" And, "how shall they hear without a preacher" of the gospel? It is adding to the words of Paul, and twisting their clear meaning, to assert that Paul did not mean that any and all "faith" came in that manner, or that he denied that there was such a thing as a faith that is not mediated, intellectual, and cognitive. Paul did not say "this kind of faith" or "this kind of believing" is non-cognitive.
Jason denies that faith is "obtained and necessary in regeneration." He believes a man can have a false faith, a false religion, and yet be "regenerated." But, such a notion is foreign to anything taught in the new testament. The notion! A man without faith in Christ nevertheless having Christ living and reigning in such a man!
Jason refers to a "straw man" when he suggests that I believe that faith in Christ is "the basis of the vital union between Christ and the regenerate." I have never affirmed such a belief and neither did the old Baptists who wrote the oldest confessions. On this I agree with Dr. Gill. Only the blood and sacrifice of Christ is "the basis of" all aspects of salvation. But, faith and repentance are means of salvation, the very substance of it. Jason and the Hardshells do not believe that faith and repentance are inseparable from salvation, and affirm that those without faith and repentance may be saved nonetheless!
"Here, in this chapter of 2 Timothy 2, the inconsistency of this view is manifest, for the text proves that it is possible that the regenerate are in a vital union with Christ, though their intellectual gospel belief has been overthrown."
But, where has this been first proven? "The text proves" no such thing! Here is a good example of faulty hermeneutics. First of all, Jason has not proven from the text, or context, that the apostates Paul refers to, were "the regenerate," or that they were "in a vital union with Christ." He only assumes it, without warrant, and expects us to accept it! Further, as I have shown, their apostasy proved their unregenerated and unconverted state! The scriptures I cited prove it. Consider also the fact that Jason himself seems to agree that Paul's distinction, in the context, of "vessels" that are God's vessels, vessels of "honor," or "vessels of mercy," with those "vessels" that are vessels of "dishonor." These descriptions are descriptions of elect versus non-elect! (See Romans nine) Surely the apostates that Paul speaks about, in II Tim. 2, and in all other passages in his epistles, are identified with being "vessels of wrath," while those who "continue" in the faith of Christ are identified with being "vessels of mercy."
Faith that is overcome or overthrown is not that faith that itself overcomes! (I John 5: 4)
"This would prove that it is incorrect to equate faith with mediated gospel knowledge. It surely cannot be advocated that those who deny the resurrection of Christ could be said to believe the gospel, but you have here in this chapter the possibility in the mind of Paul that some regenerate children of God have been led astray by false teachers into heresy."
Jason does not equate knowledge of God and Christ with faith. He believes that "faith" is ignorant of God and Christ. His "faith" has no understanding or knowledge of God or Christ! Where is his authority, from scripture, for such a redefinition of things? Does he not realize the seriousness of his changing the meaning of words and concepts given in the scriptures? He believes that "faith" does not come by hearing! He does not agree with Paul that no one can believe in Christ apart from intellectually and cognitively "hearing" the story of Jesus!
But, I never said that "those who deny the resurrection of Christ" had ever truly "believed the gospel"! Why is Jason putting words in my mouth and arguing with them? And, what is Jason's view? One can reject the announcement of the resurrection of Christ, the core of the Christian faith, and still be one who has "faith" and is "regenerated"! Hardshells teach that a man can even be "anti" Christ and still be one who has a non-cognitive and sub-conscious, yet, saving "faith"! Heathens, who worship false gods and goddesses, "born of the Spirit"! Heresy! "Damnable doctrine"!
No, Jason, you and the Campbellites are both wrong to think that these apostates were genuine Christians! Jason said - "but you have here in this chapter the possibility in the mind of Paul that some regenerate children of God have been led astray by false teachers into heresy."
But, that is a baseless assumption, "read into" the passage by Jason. I have disproven his false inference.
"It is necessary to recognize that Paul is admonishing Timothy in his ministry to children of God that may be in error."
That is not actually correct. Timothy's ministry embraced all men. Paul told him to "do the work of an evangelist," which meant that he should preach the gospel to the lost, to those who knew not Christ. Further, Paul and Timothy knew that not all those who were members of the visible church, and who publicly professed faith in Christ, were not really saved, but were hypocrites and false professors. His ministry was to all the "children of God," to all who "name the name of Christ." (I Tim. 2: 19) Does Jason believe that all those who "name the name of Christ" are genuine? Does Jason deny that he has a ministry to the lost? That he does not have anything to say to them?
Does Jason mean "regenerated ones who may be in error" when he speaks of the "children of God who may be in error"? What kind of "error"? Can they be in error about there being only one God? Can they be in error about God being the God and Father of Abraham? Of Christ? Can they be in error about the work and person of Christ? Can they be in error as to whom they trust in for salvation? To affirm that the biblical description of "children of God" includes those who are heathens and pagans, and who believe not in the one true and living God, and in his Son Jesus, is the kind of serious "error" that Paul is talking about! Ironic! A "regeneration" that teaches a man nothing about God!
"I call the reader's attention to several places in this chapter (2 Timothy 2) to show that Paul is not pronouncing finally on the eternal destiny of those that have been carried away into Gnosticism."
Well, Dr. Gill disagrees. So do I. Did he not associate them with dishonorable vessels in the passage's context? So, Jason believes that a man can believe gnostic heresies and yet be owned by Christ in the day of judgment! What a heresy is Hardshellism! One can well understand my calling it a "cult," and for my bitter opposition to it! Is gnosticism an evidence of regeneration or degeneration?
"Verse 12 and 13 indicate this in that Paul shows in context of enduring all things for the elect's sake, "if we deny him, he also will deny us", right next to, "if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself." Verse 19 places the certainty of the knowledge of the identity of the regenerate in the mind of God, not in the mind of Paul, as the LORD knoweth them that are his. Verse 21 shows that Paul's exhortation is for the young Timothy to purge himself from the influence of false teachers that are vessels of dishonor in the church of God in verse 20, like Hymenaeus and Philetus, not that those overthrown in their faith are certainly vessels of dishonor."
Jason's error, as I have shown, consists in his not recognizing that the embracing of fundamental error, pertaining to Christ and his salvation, by a person, is proof that "the faith" and the "regeneration" of that person was not genuine.
In this passage Paul gives four "if" statements meant to identify a class, or a certain character, a description of a specific individual. 1) "If we died with Christ" 2) "If we suffer with Christ" 3) "If we deny Christ" 4) "If we believe not." (II Tim. 2: 12, 13) "If" statements have a protasis and an apodosis. It is the "if, then" logical formula. "If this, then that." It deals with logical consequences, to express the dependency of one thing upon another thing.
Part of helping us to properly interpret this passage is to ascertain what class of people is referred to by the pronoun "we" in the passage. Paul is either referring to 1) all we professing Christians or 2) all we human beings. The latter is clearly the "we" of Paul. His intent is to put men into classes or groups based upon certain adjectival qualities. So, let us examine Paul's four distinct classes of people.
First, there is that class who have "died with Christ." I don't think that there is any question that this is a description of one who has been either chosen or called. Second, there is that class who "suffer" for and with Christ. Again, there can be no question but this is a description of genuinely saved people. Thus, so far, there are two classes mentioned by Paul and they are both descriptive of saved people. Those who have "died with" and "suffered with" Christ are saved. But, the question is, do the next two classes that Paul mentions also describe saved people?
The third class is of those who "deny" the Lord Jesus. Can we say that Paul is now describing the same class as he had described by the first two adjectival descriptions? Or, a different class? Jason will take the former position, while I will take the latter. The fourth class is of those who "believe not," that is, they believe not in Christ, or in his word.
Clearly, just as the first two classes described denoted truly saved souls, so the last two classes denote truly lost souls.
Jason's position is that these four descriptions are of the same class! But, there is no such class of saved people, who have died and suffered with Christ, and who are, at the same time, members of the class that deny and reject Christ! That is Hardshellism! It is to be bitterly opposed!
Jason affirms that those who "deny" Christ and who have "no faith" in him, are nevertheless saved! He also thinks that the result of denying Christ and rejecting him as Lord and Savior, is not eternal condemnation! But, let us try this assertion. First, is not eternal salvation under consideration when Paul says "we shall also live with him," in the case of those who have died with Christ? Is eternal salvation not under consideration when Paul says "we shall reign with him"? Clearly it is. Well, why would we think that eternal destiny and eternal damnation are not referred to when Paul speaks of being "denied by Christ" in the future? And what about Paul's mentioning of God "abiding faithful," in response to a person not believing God and the record he has given of his Son?
Jason and the Hardshells would argue that Paul is saying - "if we believe not in Christ he will still be faithful to save us anyway"! What a twisted and dangerous interpretation! One to be opposed!
On verses 12 and 13 Dr. Gill wrote:
"if we deny him, he also will deny us...there is a partial denying of Christ, which was Peter's case, though his faith in him, and love to him, were not lost; and there is a total denying of him, a thorough apostasy, and from which there is no recovery; and if there be any such apostates among those who have named the name of Christ, he will deny them, he will not own them for his another day; he will set them at his left hand; he will declare he knows them not, and will banish them from his presence for evermore."
Jason cannot claim to be taking an old Baptist view of the passage! Dr. Gill's is such, however. Gill saw the denial of Christ as bringing eternal death and condemnation. Gill does not see the elect and called under consideration in this class of people who "deny" Christ! What are they denied, by Christ, if it is not final salvation? Hardshells affirm that Christ will not finally deny salvation to those who deny him!
"Lastly, verse 25 and 26 make it obvious that those overthrown in their faith are possibly regenerate children of God, as Paul states that it is possible that they will repent and acknowledge the truth of the gospel. The children of God can be taken captive of the devil from the intellectual truth of gospel faith, as Peter was nearly sifted like wheat, but can possibly recover themselves, as those that are converted from the error of their ways (James 5:19,20)."
Jason is incorrect in thinking that "giving them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth" is not a description of being regenerated or converted. He thinks that it is a giving of repentance and faith to those who are already regenerated and saved, apart from repentance and faith.
I deny that "children of God can be taken captive of the devil"! Jesus said that none would be able to snatch any from his hand! To think of such a thing is horrible! Satan attacking the possession of Christ and making slaves of his people! God's people are saved from being slaves to Satan and to assert that they can once again become his slaves, after having been liberated, and after having been made the slaves of Christ, is unthinkable! Heresy of the worst sort!
People still in the snare and captivity of the Devil are yet the slaves of Christ! Saved but still not liberated from Satan's bondage! Christ frees us from Satan's bondage, but not once for all! Saved but not restored by new birth! Not "recovered"! Not "converted" from damnable errors!
On these verses Dr. Gill wrote:
"Ver. 13. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful,.... The Syriac and Ethiopic versions read, "if we believe not him". This may be understood, either of such who are altogether destitute of faith, who do not believe in Christ at all; and particularly do not believe what was just now said concerning his denying such that deny him, but mock and scoff at his coming, and at a future judgment: this unbelief of theirs will not make void his faith or faithfulness; see Ro 3:3, he will abide faithful to his word of threatening; and what he says in Mr 16:16 will be found to be an everlasting truth: or it may be understood of true believers, whose faith sometimes is very low, as to its exercise on Christ, and with reference to their future glory and happiness; but Christ is faithful to all his, covenant engagements for them, to bring them to glory, and to every word of promise concerning their happiness, and to every branch of the faithful saying above mentioned; and he is ever the same in his love to them, and in the efficacy of his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; and his salvation is an everlasting and unchangeable one; nor do the saints' interest in it, and security by it, depend upon their acts of believing, or their frames, but upon the firmness and unchangeableness of Christ, the object of faith."
Dr. Gill interprets "he abides faithful" as meaning that "he will abide faithful to his word of threatening," not to his "word of salvation" to such characters as do not believe in Jesus!
"If gospel knowledge is equated to faith, Garrett is forced in one of two directions in this chapter: (1) those with an overthrown faith were of a certainty never truly born again, or (2) it is possible that regenerate children of God can lose their actual faith and become unregenerate. (2) is manifestly denied by his adherence to Calvinism. (1) is denied because 2:13 shows those with an overthrown faith to be in vital union with Christ, and 2:25 refers to repentance to orthodoxy, which establishes the possibility that those with an overthrown faith were regenerate children of God. While it is a possibility in the mind of Paul, but not a certainty, that these with an overthrown faith were never truly born again, it is clearly possible to him that they were deceived and may repent."
How does 2: 13 prove that those whose faith is overthrown had true saving faith or were truly regenerate? Jason says it does say it, but he did not demonstrate how it does. Dr. Gill disagrees with Jason on his assumption. Gill said - "This may be understood, either of such who are altogether destitute of faith, who do not believe in Christ at all." But, Jason thinks that it can only be language applicable to those with genuine faith!
"2:13 shows those with an overthrown faith to be in vital union with Christ, and 2:25 refers to repentance to orthodoxy."
But, I have shown that this statement is false.
"This establishes that an intellectual, gospel faith is not the fundamental basis of the vital union of the regenerate with Christ, and if it be not the fundamental basis after regeneration, neither can it be the fundamental basis in regeneration in the first instance."
No, Jason did not "establish" anything correct about the passage!