I had not intended to say anything else on the subject of entering into God's rest as it relates to I Cor. 10, Jude 5, and Hebrews 3 & 4, but Jason Brown, Hardshell apologist, has made some statements that I cannot let pass.
Jason Brown wrote (see here):
"Now, Brother Garrett infers from Hebrews that those who do not receive the promises of God in the gospel in time are eternally damned. In this he is rebuked by the plain declaration of Hebrews 11:13, 39, and 40. To the same degree that the Old Testament saints stood apart from the reception of the promises of God in the gospel dispensation, is the same degree that eternal inheritance is separable from gospel belief. He cannot say that there is no difference because the gospel dispensation gives gospel dispensation believers, "some better thing". If it was the view of the Apostle that there was no substantive difference, surely he would not have asserted that they, "died in faith having not received the promises", which emphasis Garrett must deny in order to defend a standard of knowledge for eternal life that is plainly controverted by Paul."
Here brother Jason asserts classical Hardshellism. He says that those who do not believe the Gospel ("receive the promises of the Gospel") are not eternally damned. Yet, Dr. Gill taught no such thing. The 1689 London Confession taught no such thing. The only ones who have taught such are the Hardshells and Universalists. In previous postings, Jason has admitted that all those who hear the Gospel and reject it are lost. But, he will not say that all who have died without hearing the Gospel are lost.
"Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name." (Psa. 79: 6)
The heathen do not know God, and the record says that the Lord Jesus Christ, when he returns, will come "in flaiming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God and obey not the Gospel," and that their fate is to be "punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord." (II Thess. 1: 7-9) Jesus defined the "eternal life" as knowing "the only true and living God," and in knowing Jesus Christ. (John 17: 3) John said - "he who has the Son has life." (I John 5: 12)
The word "hath" ("exei" from "echō") means to have or to hold, to have (hold) in the hand, to have or hold in the sense of wearing, to have (hold) possession of the mind, to hold fast, keep, to have or comprise or involve. Thus, to "have" Christ is to lay hold of Christ with the heart, mind, and understanding. It is a cognitive "having." It is simply preposterous to affirm that heathens "have" Christ even though they have no knowledge or faith in him. "Hath" in Greek is indicative present active voice and shows that the whole of regeneration is not passive.
Jason says that not all who fail to hear the Gospel are lost, and yet, at other times, he has said that all the elect will hear the Gospel preached directly from the mouth of Jesus. Jason does not believe that the Scriptures teach that "those who do not receive the promises of God in the gospel in time are eternally damned." However, if Jesus preaches the Gospel to all the elect, then do they not all "receive" it? Further, if they hear the Gospel preached to them by the personal appearing of Christ and believe it, then they cannot be "heathen," and so Jason must agree that no heathen is saved.
Jason says that Hebrews 11: 13, 39-40 proves that not all Gospel unbelievers are lost, and that some who are heathen will be saved.
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (vs. 13)
"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." (Vs. 39, 40)
I do not see anything in these verses that prove that the heathen "who know not God and obey not the Gospel" will be saved. I do not see where they teach against the Gospel being a means in salvation.
Commenting on verse 40, Dr. Gill wrote in his Commentary:
"...and the saints then were saved as now, by his grace and righteousness: only with this difference between them and us; they had Christ in the promise, we have him himself that was promised; they had him in type and shadow, we have him in reality and truth; they believed in, and were saved by Christ, who was to come; we believe in him, and are saved by him, as being come. Hence our case is, with respect to these circumstances, better than theirs; we have a better covenant, or a better administration of the covenant of grace; we have a better priesthood, and a better sacrifice; the Gospel is dispensed in a better manner, more dearly and fully: our condition is better than theirs; they were as children under tutors and governors, and were under a spirit of bondage; but we are redeemed from under the law, and are clear of its burdensome rites, as well as of its curse and condemnation; and have the spirit of liberty and adoption."
What promises did the Old Testament believers not receive? Some have argued that they were not born again (such as Scofield) and use the above verses to prove it. But, clearly they were regenerated and had been circumcised in heart and ears. Further, these are technically new covenant blessings, though received in old testament times. Some even use the above verses to prove that believers did not even receive the promises when they died, teaching soul sleep.
The promises that they did not receive are in two categories. The first concerns new covenant blessings that saints now receive since the resurrection of Christ. The second concerns that "heavenly country" and the promised "city." Notice the context of Hebrews 11.
"For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God...These all died in faith, not having received the promises (respecting the antitypical promised land), but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." (Heb. 11: 10, 13-16)
What did Old Testament believers receive and not receive? That is the question. They did not receive the promised city, the better and heavenly country, at least not while they lived on earth. But, neither do New Testament believers. They all, from under both testaments, confess that they are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Not till the "new heavens and the new earth" come into being will all believers no longer confess that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. The New Jerusalem will not come down from God out of Heaven until after the beast has been slain and Armageddon has occurred. (See Rev. chapters 19-21)
They also did not receive certain new covenant blessings that believers do now. Christians do have something "better" than what believers had under the old covenant, or under the law. Christians enjoy greater revelation, a more abundant life in Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a superlative measure. Christians have a better priesthood, a better sacrifice, a better covenant, a better temple and worship, etc. But, how does this fact prove that the Gospel is not a means in salvation? How does the fact that old testament believers did not enjoy the same blessings as do Christians now prove that the Gospel is not a means? Why use logic to prove such a proposition anyway? Why not just state the bible verses that teach that those who do not hear and believe the Gospel are nevertheless saved?
"To the same degree that the Old Testament saints stood apart from the reception of the promises of God in the gospel dispensation, is the same degree that eternal inheritance is separable from gospel belief."
But, what he says makes no sense. It is somewhat unintelligible and incoherent. For a man who bases so much on "logic" for his faith, it is surprising to see Jason make so many of these kind of arguments. Jason can cite no Scripture that affirms the salvation of any of the heathen, so he must rely on the kind of tortured logic as given in the above words. What does he mean by "stood apart from"? I think he is making the same argument that he has made before, though he tries to state it in a different manner, which says:
If the Gospel is a means in salvation, then it must be the same Gospel, in degree of revelation. Since the Gospel that was believed by Old Testament believers is different in degree from that which is believed by New Testament believers, therefore the Gospel cannot be a means. We can put his argument into the form of the following syllogism.
1. For the Good News to be a means in salvation, it must be the same in degree for all the elect.
2. The Good News is not the same in degree for all the elect.
3. Therefore the Good News cannot be a means in salvation.
But, where did Jason get his major premise? Where does the Bible support it? Jason asserts premise number one, and yet the Bible is against him on it. This premise, or presupposition, is like so many other Hardshell premises that I have dealt with in my book on the Hardshells. Apparently the Apostle Paul was not in agreement with Jason's man-made proposition. Paul says that "the Gospel" that was preached to the ancient Israelites was "the Gospel" that was preached to New Testament believers. (Heb. 4: 2)
"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them..." (Heb. 4: 2)
"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal. 3: 8)
Gill wrote this on Heb. 4: 2:
"For unto us was the Gospel preached as well as unto them, or "even as they"; for though the Gospel was preached to the Israelites in the wilderness, in the ministry of Moses, and by types and sacrifices; yet they were not evangelized by it, or cast into a Gospel mould, or brought into a Gospel spirit: however, it was preached unto them; which shows the antiquity of it; the sameness of the method of salvation in all ages; the necessity of salvation by Christ, and the unity of Christ's church under different dispensations..."
"So, it is not a chief problem of the "Hardshells" to explain how all of the elect inherit eternal rest apart from the same degree of gospel revelation, but a problem for Stephen Garrett who has to explain how Old Testament saints could have had eternal life when they died in faith without receiving the promises."
Here Jason repeats the argument he made in the previous incoherent citation. It is not logical. It is based upon anti-biblical presuppositions. It is not based on plain Scriptural citations. This is quite revealing. I have many times, in my book and in my blog writings, challenged the Hardshells to simply cite bible verses where their premises are stated. I have challenged the Arminians in the same manner in regard to Christians losing salvation. Where is the verse that says this in plain words? And, that don't rely upon inferences and deductions?
In reading Jason's words, one has to wonder whether he believes that any amount of Gospel revelation must be believed to have "faith." We have already noticed Brown's "double speak" on this topic.
"All the "hubbub" is because Brother Garrett misses the epistemic focus of Hebrews, as can be evidently seen from a consideration of Hebrews 11:13,39 and 40. The concern in Hebrews is not centrally about inheriting eternal life, but it is a call to professed believers to ensure that they have true belief, as there is no rational basis to hope for immortal glory by any that fail to embrace the promises of God in time. I take the thesis of Hebrews to be introduced in 2:1-4, and it is this theme that is central to this epistle. In this way, Brother Garrett's insistence on his interpretation fails to account for the application of the truth that only true believers inherit eternal life, which is to, "examine whether you be in the faith or not"."
This is more double speak. The book of Hebrews does not concern inheriting eternal life and yet is concerned about making sure that professing believers are genuine believers! What is the purpose of exhorting them to make sure they are "true blue" Christians? Is it not so that they might be eternally saved? How are these two things mutually exclusive as Jason supposes? Are they not rather joined together? Has Paul not already affirmed, in chapters 3 & 4, that "for Gospel believers only" is written over the entrance to the heavenly city and country, the antitypical promised land? Is not entering this "city" and "heavenly land" called "inheriting eternal life" in Scripture? Only Hardshells and Universalists want to separate entrance into eternal life from Gospel faith and repentance. They want to offer hope for salvation to those who are not Christians.
Further double speak is seen in Jason's affirming that "there is no rational basis to hope for immortal glory" for any who fail to embrace the Gospel and yet constantly arguing that faith in the Gospel is not necessary for salvation.
"Hebrews asserts that gospel unbelievers have no rational basis to hope for eternal rest. Those apart from gospel revelation have no gospel knowledge as a basis to hope for anything but the damnation of God."
"No rational hope"? What about any hope from Scripture? Quit relying upon reason! Take what the Scriptures say as the basis of your faith! Also, quit speaking by way of circumlocution and tell us forthwith - are those without "gospel knowledge" lost or not? Does their having no "basis to hope" for salvation mean that they will in fact be damned? Or, can some of those who have no "basis to hope" be nevertheless saved? "Shell down the corn" and just tell us plainly.
"There is no rational basis to affirm that those outside of gospel revelation will enjoy the eternal rest of God, nor is there any rational basis to affirm that those that depart from the living God by rejecting the gospel will enjoy eternal rest. All of this follows from the fact that Paul asserts gospel belief as the only sufficient grounds for hope (Hebrews 3:14)."
This is repetition. Again, if one is not a Christian, and does not believe in God the Father of Christ, and in Christ the Son of God as Lord and Savior, though having no "rational basis" to expect salvation, will he perhaps be saved any way?
Jason is guilty of double speak when he affirms, on one hand, that all the elect will have the Gospel preached to them by Christ himself, and become Gospel believers by such preaching, and then on the other hand attack the idea that only Gospel believers will inherit eternal life! Truly "the legs of the lame are not equal." (Prov. 26: 7)
"Notice that Paul quotes the O.T. promise in Psalms 95:7 in Hebrews 3:7 and 13, which is available TODAY."
When Paul speaks of "Today" he does not mean "entering Heaven today" but "hear his voice today." The text is "Today if you will hear his voice" and not "Today if you will enter into God's rest, city, and heavenly country." The message is, chiefly, "hear today and enter tomorrow." This does not mean that nothing is entered or enjoyed in initial conversion (rebirth), but that the focus of the Apostle, in talking about entering the promised rest, and the eternal city and heavenly realm, is on tomorrow. Many passages of Scripture promise present benefits to believers, resulting from the sacrifice of Christ, but many also promise future benefits.
"This is not a reference to a future enjoyment of the eternal promise of God, though it is analogous to it. This is the same promise that was made to the faithless generation of Israel. It is for this reason that it is evident that the rest of God in Hebrews 4 is not a direct reference to eternal rest, though analogous to it..."
Jason has been guilty of more double speak on this subject than I can now list. He sometimes seems to allow that "eternal rest" is included in Paul's discussion of God's "rest," but then at other times says plainly that the promised rest of God "is not a reference to a future enjoyment of the eternal promise of God," and "is not a direct reference to eternal rest." Thus, the "rest" only denotes a "time salvation"! This is silly and 99% of all Christians will stand bewildered at the few Hardshells who, in cult fashion, so stubbornly resist what is the plain and normal meaning of the text. Jason leaves himself a way out, however, for he always is willing to grant that eternal rest is under consideration by way of similitude and analogy. So, more double speak, more effort to "have it both ways." Of course, as I have shown, such attempts only involve Jason in more absurdities and contradictions.
"It does not follow from this that vital union is impossible without propositional knowledge or critical cognizance of the union..."
Though the average reader will be somewhat puzzled at the precise point that Jason is making here, being a former Hardshell, I am familiar with the argument, and can state it more clearly than Jason has in the above words. It is an affirmation that people can be saved and yet not know it. That they can be regenerate while still outwardly an unbeliever, one who has not publicly confessed Christ. When Hardshells reason along this line, they are often heard to say - "you do not have to believe a fact for it to be a fact." In other words, you do not have to believe that you are a child of God to be a child of God. The argument is further made that you can be a believer internally and sub-consciously but be an unbeliever externally and consciously. The argument is made that you can have non-cognitive "faith" without cognitive faith.
But, as Jerry Falwell once said, "if you can have salvation and not know it, then you can lose it and not miss it." So very true! Though Jason wants to distance himself from the "Hollow Log" view of regeneration (see my posting on this here), he nevertheless is often seen reverting to it. Jason is obviously reasoning from the premise that "propositional knowledge" is not a conjunct of regeneration ("vital union" with Christ), is not one of the things that "accompany salvation." (Heb. 6: 9)
How can one have "knowledge" without "propositions"? And, how can one have "faith" (belief) without knowledge?
Jason has argued, when forced into logical corners, that all the elect have Gospel faith, for all hear the voice of Christ, Christ directly preaching the Gospel to them, and yet here he argues that it is wrong to assert that Gospel propositions are received into the mind when one hears Christ preach to him personally. He is a classic example of people who "oppose themselves." (Acts 18: 6: II Tim. 2: 25)
I have many times challenged the Hardshells on their idea of a non-cognitive and subconscious belief (faith). There is absolutely no justification for such an absurdity. It is an oxymoron to speak of non-cognitive faith. Faith, in Scripture, always presupposes knowledge. Again, the average Christian who hears such proclamations from Hardshell "apologists" must stand amazed to hear them speak such non-sense. A "faith" that does not believe or know anything! That is calling faith ignorant.
The Apostle Paul defined faith, and in such a manner that he made propositional knowledge to be integral to it.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb. 11: 6)
Here Paul equates "faith" (belief) with acceptance of propositions! First proposition - "God is." Second proposition - "God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." Of course, "faith" is not limited to these propositions, but it must include them.
Further, Paul speaks of "believing to the saving of the soul" in the context. (10: 39) Had Paul been a Hardshell he would have said - "saved to the believing of the soul." A soul is not saved till it believes, and this is the theme throughout the Book of Hebrews.
"Reality is not dictated by our intellectual knowledge of it; rather, knowledge is reflective of reality. Surely there is a correlation, but what is real is the foundation of what is known to be real. What is known is not the foundation of what is real, which is the philosophical and Biblical truth in which most of Christendom, and, even, the atheistic, secular world errs. It seems a common habit of man to forever arrogantly confound reality with what he apprehends of it."
Again, this is repetition. He made the same argument in a previous citation already examined. Though I do not have to believe in order to be elected to salvation, and though I do not have to believe in order for Christ to love and die for me, yet the Scriptures teach that I must believe in order to be finally saved. (See Mark 16: 16) The Scriptures teach that there is no real salvation where there is no real faith. Faith "accompanies salvation." Jason says that it is not logically possible to believe that I am saved unless I am first saved. Who denies this? But, has Jason not said that we cannot say of any unbeliever that he is saved? That we have "no rational basis" to do so?
It is possible to believe in the reality of a future event, however, a thing which Jason's logic would seem to deny. Since the new heavens and the new earth, and my resurrection to immortality, are not yet realities, Jason's logic would say that I cannot know it. Since he uses the word "real" in the sense of "already existing," then he has no foundation to his knowledge of what is yet future.
"I want to note two things here. First, my Primitive Baptist brethren all concede that the sense in which people are exhorted to enter into the rest of God is in entering the temporal rest of God, which is a foretaste of the eternal rest. No PB would disagree with that. No one, not even Garrett, can argue that Paul is exhorting Christians to enter the literal eternal rest of God because the literal rest cannot be fully entered until death."
Comparing "let us labor therefore to enter into that (future) (promised) (eternal) rest" with other similar passages, shows that final salvation is the object to be gained by perseverence.
"...but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matt. 10: 22)
"So run, that ye may obtain." (I Cor. 9: 24)
"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." (Rev. 2: 7)
"He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." (2: 11)
"And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations." (2: 26)
"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." (3: 5)
"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name." (3: 12)
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (3: 21)
Thus, in light of such verses, it is perfectly appropriate to exhort all to believe and persevere in order that they might partake of those things promised to the "overcomer." And, who is the "overcomer"?
"Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5: 5)
And, how does one become a "believer"? "The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe." (John 1: 7) "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?" (I Cor. 3: 5) And, Paul asked - "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10: 14)
Further, the verses I cited in my previous posting, about "winning Christ," and "winning the prize," and "being found in him" at the last, do also show that an act in time determines future condition.
Further, Paul is not exhorting believers in Hebrews to enter God's rest, but to hear his voice, and to labor and persevere, so that they might have the right to enter. Just as John said that those who receive Christ and believe on his name receive "the right to become the sons of God," (John 1: 12) so those who believe have other rights, rights to the city of God, and to the heavenly and eternal land of rest. Notice these words of the Apostle John:
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Rev. 22: 14)
"So, the sense in which people can be exhorted is only to the end of being personally assured of the final rest. In that the temporal rest is a foretaste of the eternal rest, there is a logical sense that all Primitive Baptists are exhorting people to the eternal rest of God when they exhort them to the temporal rest, as these two are not fully separable."
Brown is full of "in this sense" yes, and "in this sense" no. A little of this is sometimes necessary, but to do it inordinately demonstrates double speak. Jason does not believe that people can be exhorted to final salvation, but can only be exhorted to assurance of it. But, we have already shown that to be false. Notice the preaching of the apostles in these words:
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you." (Acts 3: 19-22)
Here sinners are exhorted to faith and repentance, to be converted, "that your sins may be blotted out," and "that the times of refreshing shall come," which time is equated with the return of Christ and "the restitution of all things."
"The sense in which Paul "obtains" final, eternal salvation is from the sense in which temporal preservation and sanctification are the necessary effects of the spirit's presence in the inner man."
Paul never obtained what he sought and hoped for in this life! What he hoped for was to be saved after death, and at the time of Christ's return. How can one obtain "final" salvation in this life? Notice these words of our Lord and Savior:
"Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life." (Mark 10: 28-30)
Notice that those who have forsaken all to follow Christ are promised, for so doing, not only temporal benefits, but "in the world to come eternal life." If one can obtain eternal life apart from following Christ, then why did Jesus limit it to those who follow him?
"So, in terms of the effects of the spirit's presence, there is a sense in which final, eternal salvation is "obtained" or progressed toward by the regenerate as the effect of being effectually called."
Again, one cannot obtain final salvation in this life! Jason ought to be more honest and simply admit that he does not believe that sinners should be exhorted to repent and be converted so that they might be eternally saved in the world to come.
"Some degree of "running" in sanctification is the necessary effect of the predestination of God. What is specifically obtained is not final salvation, as this cannot be fully realized in time, but a greater conformity to the image of Christ..."
Who ever argued that final salvation can be obtained in this life? Did Jason not? Did I not say that such was absurd? Of course final salvation cannot be obtained in this life. The question is whether we do anything in this life in order to obtain salvation in the life to come. Have I not shown that men believe and repent in time in order to be saved after death and in the resurrection?
"Logically, Brother Garrett cannot affirm that the basis of man's obtainment of eternal salvation is his actions in time. Man's actions in time are simply the effects of this obtainment..."
Brother Garrett can affirm it, however, because Scripture asserts it. How can Jason deny what is so clearly taught in Scripture? By such a stance does not Jason deny that one must believe and repent for salvation? I have cited numerous passages in this and in other posts that disprove Jason's statement. Do we not "sow to the Spirit" so that we might "reap everlasting life"? (Gal. 6: 8) And, does Paul say, in view of this, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not"? (vs. 9)
"...to quote Romans 10:13 and imagine that God, with bated breath, waits for man's confession of belief to elect man from eternity. I find such views of the Holy Scripture utterly repugnant because they reek of the odious assertion of the flesh, "I am the center of the universe." It shocks me that Garrett wants to embrace ignorant applications of mainstream Christianity yet reject what he considers the shallow, ignorant, and non-wholistic applications of some Primitive Baptists."
Jason has more than once misrepresented my views even though he has been warned not to keep doing so. I have never taught that God chooses us because we believe but rather that we believe because we have been elected, just as Paul taught in II Thess. 2: 13, 14. I have never taught that men can produce saving faith, but that saving faith is the work of God.
"It is clear that Brother Garrett, though he claims otherwise, cannot actually affirm that the passages he quotes make the obtainment of eternity contingent on time..."
The passages I cited clearly prove what Jason denies and he is simply stubbornly refusing to acknowledge it because he will not let go of his Hardshell presuppositions.