Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Question for Anti-Means Baptists

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:" (2 Peter 1:3)

Are all things that pertain unto life and godliness given by God, or only those things which do not require instrumentality?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

You Can Dance Now

To those Hardshells who were cruel enemies of my beloved father, men like Harold Hunt, I want to say to you - "You Can Dance Now On His Grave" as you have been hoping to do for many years.

On The Adoption Series

The remaining chapters of my book on "The Huiothesia" will not be posted here in the future but only on my Baptist Gadfly blog. Any who are interested will need to go there to read them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Waiting For The Huiothesia VIII

Chapter Eight - Predestined To Full Sonship

As has been observed in previous chapters, the "placement" of "sons," though future, first began with God purposing, before the world began, to have sons and a family of offspring. Such, as a result of this predestining act, would in time be "begotten" by him, and then reared by him to adulthood or complete sonship. The Father would see to it that each begotten child would grow up and be brought to full maturity and completeness, becoming fully like him in nature and character. Here is a case of "family planning" in the highest sense. Every child born into this family will have been born on purpose with no "accidental pregnancies." Birth and infancy, childhood and youth, do not represent the end state the Father has desired or predetermined.

As in human cases, a father and mother who have a planned pregnancy and birth, will obtain much pleasure, not only from the initial birth of the child, but also from their baby's first months or infant state. But, no parent wants their children to remain babies. As babies, they are imperfect. Parents want their babies to grow so that they might have an intellectual and psychological bonding with, and a deeper enjoyment of the child. So too do they not want their children to remain juveniles and adolescents, even though they will enjoy some good times with them in those years. They want them to grow and mature so that they might fully enjoy the family life to the fullest and participate in its responsibilities, and so that the Father himself might enjoy them to the fullest.

The reason why "hiuos" is used to describe the children of God in their fully mature and perfected state is because it often signifies that idea. Neither "teknon," nor the other Greek words used to denote the stages of growth and development of a person leading to adulthood, were used to signify this end state of perfection because by their very meanings they signify what is yet imperfect. Much more will be said on this as we proceed in the next few chapters.

The points established so far are these:

1) "The huiothesia" is what "belongs to" those who are spiritual Israelites (believers)
2) Israel's being the "son of God" was the result of being begotten and reared in Egypt
3) The finality of what it means to be "son of God" is future, connected with the resurrection
4) "Huiothesia" cannot mean "adoption"
5) Adoption teaching is unbiblical and rejected by God
6) "Huiothesia" is not a reference to Roman, Greek, or English "son placement" but is a Jewish concept
7) "Huiothesia" represents the end state to which God has predestined the elect.
8) Adoption was not practiced in the OT
9) Numerous difficulties arise from trying to reconcile adoption and birth models
10) The only basis for adoption theology is a mistranslation and interpretation of "huiothesia"

In order to establish the fact that "huios" is used in Scripture to denote one who is "like" his father (patria), and that a meaningful distinction exists in the NT between "huios" and "teknon," we will look more closely at the various Hebrew and Greek terms used in Scripture to signify a particular stage in life, from birth to adulthood.

Life's Stages

In this chapter we will first be citing from Alfred Edersheim and his famous book "Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ" (SEE HERE), whose authority on Hebrew life and culture is universally recognized, in order to show that Hebrew terms denoting age were used precisely and with care and not loosely. Next, we will see the same holds true for the NT, where the Greek words used closely correspond to this Hebrew division of age. Then we will notice some examples in the NT where the authors made use of these natural divisions of age and maturity to illustrate the progressive stages that the Lord's people pass through from the time of their being "born of God" until their reaching full manhood and perfection at the resurrection of the just. Then, we will focus on "teknon" and "huios" and the distinction in use and meaning in the NT.

As we will see, the stages of life are not always divided alike, some seeing more precise divisions while others see fewer. For instance, the American Institute For Learning And Human Development has twelve stages. In "The 12 Stages of Life - The Twelve Stages of the Human Life Cycle" (SEE HERE) we read these words (emphasis mine):

"Which stage of life is the most important? Some might claim that infancy is the key stage, when a baby’s brain is wide open to new experiences that will influence all the rest of its later life. Others might argue that it’s adolescence or young adulthood, when physical health is at its peak. Many cultures around the world value late adulthood more than any other, arguing that it is at this stage that the human being has finally acquired the wisdom necessary to guide others. Who is right? The truth of the matter is that every stage of life is equally significant and necessary for the welfare of humanity."

Indeed every stage of life for the Christian is very important, but who can doubt that reaching perfection at the resurrection is the most important and desired?

Once we acknowledge the stages of life in Hebrew and Greek thinking, as pertains to human growth and development, we will then see if there are likewise stages of spiritual growth and development and whether the terms used to denote human age are made use of to denote spiritual age. We will see that many scholars of the Bible will acknowledge some division of Christians into categories of age, some being "babes in Christ" while others are "of full age," but will not generally agree on the number of stages that the Christian goes through in his movement towards perfection. For instance, in one Internet article, the title is "4 Stages of Christian Life: Are You Growing Spiritually?" (SEE HERE) Some see three, some see four or more. But, nearly all, as we will see, will at least acknowledge two. But more on this later.

The Hebrew Division

In Chapter VIII, Edersheim said these words (emphasis mine throughout):

"Strange as it may sound, it is strictly true that, beyond the boundaries of Israel, it would be scarcely possible to speak with any propriety of family life, or even of the family, as we understand these terms."

Edersheim states exactly what I have been stating about how we must define biblical terms, not in the way those terms are understood in modern English society, but in the way they were understood by Hebrews in the OT. Modern English definitions of "family" are not to be forced upon the Bible. As has been shown, even though the NT was written in Greek and for the benefit of Gentiles, its jargon is nevertheless to be generally interpreted in a Jewish context. We simply cannot take the words father, family, child, son, birth, adoption, etc., and give them a sense and definition "as we understand these terms." today, as Edersheim says.

In Chapter VII, titled "THE UPBRINGING OF JEWISH CHILDREN," Edersheim wrote:

"THE tenderness of the bond which united Jewish parents to their children appears even in the multiplicity and pictorialness of the expressions by which the various stages of child-life are designated in the Hebrew. Besides such general words as " ben " and " bath "—" son " and "daughter" —we find no fewer than nine different terms, each depicting a fresh stage of life."

"Nine different terms" for "depicting" each "stage of life." One would almost think that the Hebrews were child and developmental psychologists in the way they divided up the stages of life and giving to each stage its own significant designation. Edersheim speaks of the "pictorialness" of these various stages in the life of a person and what the terms for them "depicted." English speaking people today use a number of terms denoting a stage of life, such as babe, infant, child, toddler, adolescent, youth, youngster, juvenile, teenager, minor, girl, boy, etc. However, most people do not use these terms quite as precisely as do psychologists or as did the primitive Hebrews and Greeks.

In the "Education Encyclopedia" at StateUniversity.com (SEE HERE) it is said that the "stages of childhood are defined culturally by the social institutions, customs, and laws that make up a society."

This is true, and in our study we are looking at the Hebrew culture first, then the Greek, to discover how the stages of life are divided and sub-divided in those cultures, and to see how such information is made use of by the NT writers to depict the stages of Christian growth, from the time of spiritual birth to final glorification of body, soul, and spirit at the resurrection of the just. There is good reason then for stages of childhood to be viewed in their biblical context. The Hebrew view of family, child growth and development, and manhood, must be viewed in the context of the OT and in the context of the Greek language of the NT.

In English society today, stages of childhood and the terms associated with them are often used in connection with not only the age of the child, but with his place in the public school system. The major points in the life of a child are broken down into preschool, Kindergarten, grammar, middle (or junior high), and high school. Further, the major "rites of passage" for children are based primarily upon progression in the school system, their festive celebrations being in connection with each "graduation."

The above encyclopedia says that among English psychologists - "There are three broad stages of development: early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence."

This is probably true because of the English school system which generally divides into these three categories or childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence.

Many primitive cultures, seeing the number seven as denoting completion or perfection, and a sacred number, divided the time from birth to adulthood (or old age) into seven stages.

Our Lord spoke of three stages of growth when he said:

"For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." (Mark 4:28 kjv)

The Lord in this parable is speaking about the "kingdom of God." It begins as "seed," then there is birth of the seed, and then growth of that which is begotten or "brought forth," and lastly the final desired end. It is interesting how in this parable the two aspects of germination or generation are evident. The "seed" represents the male side in germination, while the "earth" or "soil" represents the mother who "brings forth" that which the seed produces. Also, the analogy fits the "kingdom of God" in the aggregate as well as the individual members of the kingdom. The kingdom will increase more and more and finally result in full harvest, when every plant has reached perfection. The "full corn of the ear" alludes to the perfection and complete maturity which is achieved at the final harvest of saints at the second coming when they are resurrected and glorified. We might compare these three stages to the Apostle John's division into "children," "young," and "elderly." But, more on that later. Notice how the words of Jesus are similar to Job 5: 26.

"Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season." (kjv)

Notice how growing physically is compared to seed growing into the "shock of corn" just as in the words of the Lord. The Lord's people will come to full age at the resurrection and revelation of the sons of God.

Edersheim continued:

"The first of these simply designates the babe as the newly-"born"—the "jeled," or, in the feminine, "jaldah"—as in Exod. ii. 3,6, 8. But the use of this term throws a fresh light on the meaning of some passages of Scripture. Thus we remember that it is applied to our Lord in the prophecy of His birth (Isa. ix. 6): "For a babe ('jeled ') is born unto us, a son (' ben') is given to us;" while in Isa. ii. 6 its employment adds a new meaning to the charge: "They please themselves (or strike hands) with the ' jalde '— the 'babes'—of strangers "—marking them, so to speak, as not only the children of strangers, but as unholy from their very birth. Compare also the pictorial, or else the poetical, use of the word "jeled" in such passages as Isa. xxix. 23; lvit 4; Jer. xxxi. 20; Eccl. iv. 13; 1 Kings xii. 8; 2 Kings > Compere Hamburger, Rtal-Encycl. voL L p. 642.il 24; Gen. xlii. 22; and others. The next child-name, in point of time, is "jonek," which means, lite/ally, "a suckling," being also sometimes used figuratively of plants, like our English " sucker," as in Isa. liii. 2: "He shall grow up before Him as a sucker"—"jonek." The word "jonek" occurs, for example, in Isa xi. 8, and in Ps. viii. 2. On the other hand, the expression in the latter passage, rendered "babes" in our Authorised Version, marks a yet third stage in the child's existence, and a farther advancement in the babe life. This appears from many passages. As the word implies, the "olel" is still "sucking;" but it is no longer satisfied with only this nourishment, and is "asking bread," as in Lam. iv. 4: "The tongue of the 'jonek' cleaves to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the 'olalim' ask bread." A fourth designation represents the child as the "gamul," or "weaned one" (Ps. cxxxi. 2; Isa xi. 8; xxviii. 9), from a verb which primarily means to complete, and secondarily to wean. As we know, the period of weaning among the Hebrews was generally at the end of two years (Cltethnb. 60), and was celebrated by a feast. After that the fond eye of the Hebrew parent seems to watch the child as it is clinging to its mother—as it were, ranging itself by her—whence the fifth designation, "taph" (Esther iii. 13, "The 'taph' and the women in one day;" Jer. xl. 7; Ezek. ix. 6). The sixth period is marked by the word "elem" (in the feminine, "almah," as in Isa. vii. 14, of the virgin-mother), which denotes becoming firm and strong. As one might expect, we have next the "naar," or youth— literally, he who shakes off", or shakes himself free. Lastly, we find the child designated as "bachur," or the "ripened one;" a young warrior, as in Isa. xxxi . 8; Jer. xviii. 21; xv. 8, etc Assuredly, those who so keenly watched child-life as to give a pictorial designation to each advancing stage of its existence, must have been fondly attached to their children."

One thing is clear from these words of the learned Edersheim. The OT authors were very careful in the words that they used to refer to a person at a certain stage in his or her life. This fact disproves the contention of some that the bible writers were not so careful in the use of these terms so that they used them interchangeably and without meaningful distinction. Further we will see that the same holds true with the writers of the Greek NT. The Hebrews had nine terms for the stages of life and the Greeks and Romans also had something similar. The number is different if we are 1) counting from birth to adulthood, or 2) counting from birth to old age. In each stage of growth there is a change in intellect, physical proportion, or stature, and behavior.

OT Use Of Age To Denote Spiritual Growth Stages

"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? [them that are] weaned from the milk, [and] drawn from the breasts." (Isa. 28:9 kjv)

"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." (Isa. 1:2 kjv)

Though the OT is not as clear on the matter of spiritual growth and perfection as is the NT, yet verses like the above do indicate such growth and stages of development. Hosea 11:1 has already been referred which says that Israel went into Egypt as a "child" but came out of it a "son."

The Greek Division

In “The Greek Concept of the "Seven Stages of Life” and Its New Testament Significance" by R. Larry Overstreet of Northwest Baptist Seminary (Tacoma, Wa. - SEE HERE), Mr. Overstreet observes (emphasis mine):

"Particular words used in Greek and Roman cultures before, during, and after NT times provide insight into how those peoples recognized seven identifiable stages of life a person experiences during the aging process, from birth through old age. This is referred to as the hebdomadal system. Because the terms are also found in the NT, identifying their parameters is beneficial for understanding the implications of the various ages of individuals mentioned. Interpreters of the NT will define with greater precision texts that mention age. To accomplish this purpose, this article first examines the concept of life’s stages in ancient literature and then considers the seven specific stages of life enumerated in that literature. The final section applies the understanding of the Greek terms for the stages of life to the NT."

Most of the terms for identifying age in the Bible are used to denote people in regard to their physical life and state. However, in some cases, the Bible makes use of some of these terms to depict Christians in various stages of growth and development. This makes it important to first understand their application in regard to natural growth and development and then see why they were used by the biblical writers to depict some phase of the Christian life.

Overstreet wrote:

"This article proposes to examine the terminology of the NT related to age identification with the purpose of leading to a clearer understanding of age references in the Scriptures. This is accomplished by tracing the words ancient writers used to identify the various “stages of life” and then applying the conclusions drawn to NT texts. While some flexibility existed in ancient literature in the use of terms for age, the evidence shows that both Greek and Roman civilizations recognized that a person’s life divided into seven stages, the hebdomadal system, extending in identifiable time periods from birth through old age." 

Since it is clear that the NT made use of different Greek words to denote particular stages of life, the question is this: do the NT writers use these terms to also designate stages of spiritual growth and perfection?

Overstreet continued:

"Those stages are explicated by words delimiting them, all of which, except one, are found in the NT. The first stage of life is represented by παιδίον (birth to 7 years), the second stage by παῖς (ages 7 to 14), the third stage by µειρακιον (ages 14 to 21), the fourth by νεανίσκος (ages 21 to 28), the fifth by ἀνὴρ (ages 28 to 49), the sixth by πρεσβύτης (ages 49 to 56), and the final stage of a person’s life is represented by γέροντας (ages 56 until death)."

Thus, the question is, are there any of these words for age divisions used by Bible writers to apply to the spiritual age of those who are the begotten children of God? We will see that they do. Therefore, those scholars who think such terms were used loosely and interchangeably are in error.

Spiritual Infants

"As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby" (I Peter 2: 2).

Concerning ἀρτιγέννητα (newborn), Vincent's Word Studies says: "Peculiar to Peter, and only in this passage. Lit., born but just now (ἄρτι)."

Concerning βρέφη (babes) he says: "The word signifying peculiarly a child at birth, or of tender years. See Luke 18:15; Acts 7:19. Of the infant Jesus, Luke 2:12, Luke 2:16. Here marking the recency of Christian life in the converts addressed."

Thus, it is clear that the Apostle Peter chose specific words used to identify stages of physical growth and development and applied them to stages of spiritual growth. Those who have just been saved and born again are spiritual infants. But, God has predestined souls to become full grown sons, so not only is the birth predestined, but also the growth to perfection.

"Brethren, be not children (paidion) in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children (nēpiazō), but in understanding be men (teleios)." (I Cor. 14:20 kjv)

Those who are just recently spiritually born are not yet "men" in character and understanding. Yet, they are destined to become such. But, more on this later. There are three stages of growth spoken of here in the original Greek—infants, children, full-grown men. Further, as we will see, the Apostle John also made a similar division.

"But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (I Cor. 13:11)

Again, notice how the Apostle uses "nepias" for "small child." This is the state of all when they are first born of the Spirit. They are babes. But, they are not to remain babes, but to grow towards complete manhood and perfection. Going from childhood to manhood is in three areas, "in speech (ἐλάουν), in disposition and aim (ἐφρόνουν), and in mental activity (ἐλογιζόμην)." (Expositor's Greek Testament) But, more on that later as we discuss how "son placement" is connected with the time of perfection when the one who was once a baby and an adolescent finally becomes a full grown man or son. "The progress from grace to glory, which awaits individual believers and the whole Church, is compared to the different stages of human life." (Bengal's Gnomen)

"...That we henceforth be no more children (nepios), tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" (Eph. 4:11-15 kjv)

Again, this is but more evidence that the NT writers used terms denoting a physical stage of growth and development to allude to stages of spiritual growth.

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant (nepios). But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." (Heb. 5:12-14 nasb)

Again, God's children, when they are first begotten, are babes. But, they do not stay babes, but grow and increase, advancing towards perfection as fully developed adults in body and mind.

"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes (nepioi) in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal." (I Cor. 3:1-3 NASB)

Again, this shows how the apostles made use of terms designating stages of physical growth to also represent stages of spiritual growth.

"So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the [d]elemental things of the world." (Gal. 4:3 nasb)

On this verse and the context of it we will have much more to say later as it contains another reference to "the huiothesia." But, notice again, how Christians are first children, then young men, then mature fathers. Notice these words of the Apostle John.

"I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." (I John 2: 12-14 NASB)

Ray Stedman, well known Bible exegete, in an article titled "Growing in Grace" (Ray Stedman.org  - SEE HERE) said the following good things about these verses (emphasis mine):

"Now John introduces us to a third factor which follows relationship and fellowship. He adds a word which we will find frequently on the pages of Scripture -- maturity, full growth, or, as you find it in the King James Version, perfection. The curse of the church has always been immature Christians, Christians who never grow up, Christians who cease their progress soon after beginning the Christian life.

This has happened to many Christians. They have never grown up. The Christian life is much more than a beginning in conversion, it is what happens after that which is of supreme importance. Christians who have never grown up are always a problem and cause many difficulties. If you are a brand-new Christian, just come to know Jesus Christ, and still rejoicing in the thrill of new-found relationship, I am not speaking to you. You are not a problem, particularly, for there is always room and provision for babies in a family circle. But Christians who are yet babies after ten, twenty, thirty, even forty years of Christian life, these are the problem. They are immature, they refuse to grow up. John now comes face to face with this problem and in the text before us he describes three stages of spiritual development, three levels of growth in the Christian life:

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:12-13a RSV)

There are three groups -- children, fathers, young men. These have no relationship to physical age whatsoever, or to sex. It is possible for a man sixty years old in the flesh to be six months old in the Lord. It is possible for a woman to be a father in the sense used here, a mature, developed, full-grown Christian. A young man of thirty can be a babe in Christ, a father, or a young man according to the terms John uses here. These have no relationship to the time that you have been a Christian, the years since your conversion, or even to the position you may hold as a Christian.

Now let us look at these more closely. These successive stages of the Christian life (and, if you are a Christian, you belong in here somewhere) are introduced by the title, little children. John uses here a word in Greek which means "to be born." It is almost the exact equivalent of the Scottish word, bairns, born ones. He is referring to the fact that though they are young and immature, nevertheless, they are in the family. They have become part of the family of God. You cannot get into a family without birth. That is true on the physical level, and it is true on the spiritual level. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again," John 3:7).

Now John immediately describes the experience of all Christians which follows this new birth. "Little children, I am writing to you because your sins are forgiven for his sake." That is the basic Christian position. It is forever true of all Christians that their sins are forgiven, and it is always the first thing they become aware of when they become Christians. There is the lifting of the load of guilt, the solving of the problem of destiny, the forgiveness of sins. What a wonderful experience it is.

John does not mention here some of the negative aspects of spiritual infancy. He merely marks this one consistent, positive condition that is true of all who come to Christ -- their sins are forgiven. He does not mention that, like physical babies, new Christians can often be rude and egotistical, emotionally unstable and overly dependent on other people. That is the way new babies are. They display many negative qualities, but the one thing that is universally true of them is that they are in the family, they have life.

There must be a beginning in the Christian life, but it is only a beginning, it is not an ending. We are intended to move, to go on, to "grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," as Peter said 2 Peter 3:18). This is what all the apostles aim for. Paul said, "Him (Christ) we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ," (Colossians 1:28 RSV). Maturity, that is what he is after.

John moves on to look at the other end of the growth process, the fully matured Christian, the fathers:

I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. (1 John 2:14a RSV) That is the chief characteristic of one who could be called a father, "You know him who is from the beginning." Who is that? Well, that refers to the word with which this epistle opens:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -- the life was manifest, and we saw it, ... (1 John 1:1-2a RSV)

In other words, this is Jesus Christ. The mark of a father, then, is one who has come to know Jesus Christ. The word "know" carries the implication, "coming to know by experience." A father is one who has come to know, by long experience, the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are two inescapable factors about that kind of knowledge. There is personal acquaintanceship; it must be intimate, close, and personal, and, it must be over a long period of time. No one can become a father, in this sense, overnight. There must be years spent in fellowship together. The inevitable result of that kind of activity is resemblance, a mutual identity that grows out of such personal acquaintance over a long period of time. You often see this on the physical level, do you not? If two people live together a long time, know each other well, and are communicating -- talking back and forth -- they grow to be like one another.

Thus fathers are Christ-like. That is their chief characteristic. They possess in great measure the disposition of Jesus Christ. They have left behind the signs of immaturity. Remember Paul says, in that great love chapter of First Corinthians 13, "When I was a child I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things," 1 Corinthians 13:11). That is maturity, to put away childish things. Fathers are no longer juvenile in their attitudes, no longer unstable, petty, flippant, but are steady, thoughtful, competent, easy to live with. We will see more of this as we come back to John's second survey of these classifications, in a further message. The third stage he indicates is that of young men:

I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:13b RSV)

The indicative mark here is that a young man has overcome the evil one. This is the mark of those who are growing, who are strong, who are moving into maturity. They have overcome the evil one. What does that reveal? First it reveals that their eyes have been opened to the true nature of the struggle of life. As Paul put it in Ephesians 6, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood," (Ephesians 6:12a KJV). Our problem is not people. It is the immature Christian who says, "If so-and-so would just leave me alone -- my boss, my mother-in-law, my daughter, my son, my husband, my wife, the Internal Revenue Department -- if they would just leave me alone I would be fine. It's people who are my problem." But anyone who has learned to overcome the evil one knows differently. He knows we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against wicked spirits in high places, against world rulers in this present darkness. The battle is in the mind, with ideas, with attitudes, with subtle and alluring temptations that come in hidden ways. Here is the true battle, and these young men have had their eyes opened to the struggle and have come to grips with these powerful invisible forces that wreak such havoc today.

Yet they are not mature. They are spiritual, but they are not mature. They lack yet the full range of Christian experience.

There is great confusion in Christian circles at this point. There is a difference between spirituality and maturity. Maturity is the final goal. It is what the Spirit of God is aiming at, for you to be a grownup, mature, experienced Christian. Spirituality is the process by which you get there. Maturity is produced by time spent in fellowship, in spiritual relationship, to the Son of God. That is why you can live for years as a Christian and never mature, for the years are not spent in fellowship but in walking outside this relationship of fellowship with the Son of God."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

From Burkitt & Read's Kehukee Ass. History

LEMUEL BURKITT, JESSE READ. NORTHAMPTON COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA, October, 1803 (Burkett-Read History)

"Shaking hands while singing, was a means (though simple in itself) to further the work. The ministers used frequently, at the close of worship, to sing a spiritual song suited to the occasion, and go through the congregation, and shake hands with the people while singing; and several, when relating their experience, at the time of their admission into church fellowship, declared that this was the first means of their conviction. The act seemed so friendly, the ministers appeared so loving, that the party with whom the minister shook hands, would often be melted in tears...many times had a powerful effect. Giving the people an invitation to come up to be prayed for, was also blessed.

The ministers usually, at the close of preaching, would tell the congregation, that if there were any persons who felt themselves lost and condemned, under the guilt and burden of their sins, that if they would come near the stage, and kneel down, they would pray for them. Shame at first kept many back, but as the work increased, numbers, apparently under strong conviction, would come and fall down before the Lord at the feet of the ministers, and crave an interest in their prayers. Sometimes twenty or thirty at a time. And at some Union Meetings, two or three hundred would come, and try to come as near as they could. This very much engaged the ministers; and many confessed that the Lord heard the prayers of his ministers, and they had reason to hope their souls were relieved from the burden of their sins, through the blood of Christ. It had a powerful effect on the spectators to see their wives, their husbands, children, neighbors, &c., so solicitous for the salvation of their souls; and was sometimes a means of their conviction. Many ladies of quality, at times were so powerfully wrought on, as to come and kneel down in the dust in their silks to be prayed for. The act of coming to be prayed for in this manner had a good effect on the persons who came, in that they knew the eyes of the congregation were on them, and if they did fall off afterwards it would be a disgrace to them, and cause others to deride them; this, therefore, was a spur to push them forward."  (pg. 76, 77)

"Let the politician with all his maxims of policy; the deist with all his deistical reasoning, endeavoring to invalidate the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures; the soldier with all his arms and ammunition, see if any, or all of them together, can by all their art, sophistry, or power, or even by the force of gunpowder, effect such a reformation in the morals of men. Can they do what the simplicity of the Gospel of our dear Lord Jesus has done? Can they make those who hate God and religion, with all their hearts love him and his service? Can they make men at variance and enmity love one another? This the Gospel has done in this revival. In some neighborhoods, persons at enmity with each other, and when they met would not speak to one another, after receiving the benefits of the Gospel’s gracious influence, could take each other in their arms with the greatest pleasure, and cause an unbelieving world to say, Behold how these Christians love."  (pg. 81)

CIRCULAR LETTER.

The Messengers of the several Baptist churches belonging to the United Baptist Association, formerly called the Kehukee Association, met at the, Flat, Swamp meeting-house, in Pitt county, North Carolina, October, 1791:

To the several churches in union with this Association, send greeting:

And since Almighty God, in carrying on this glorious work, is pleased by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, it therefore becomes necessary that there should be a number of preachers or ministers of the Gospel. And according to the direction of our last Association, we proceed, in our circular letter, at this time, to make a few observations on the necessary support or maintenance of Gospel ministers; although we are very sorry that there should be the least occasion to write or speak upon that subject." (pg. 82)

"After the removal of Elder White, the church labored under great coldness and barenness (sic) until about 1801, when the church consisted of not more than twenty members in full fellowship. About this time, Elder Burkitt on a circuit of meetings attended this place. He preached, prayed, and sung, but no good effect seemed to attend his labors. At the close of the meeting, he at last told them, “that if there was any person in the congregation who desired to go to heaven or be converted, if he would come up to the pulpit, he would pray to the Lord for him.” No person came for some time. At length a young man came, with tears in his eyes, and requested his prayers. — Some months after, this young man was converted and related his experience at a Union Meeting, Warren, Ready Creek, and declared this was a mean in the hand of the Lord for his conviction and conversion; and said he was a thousand times obliged to the man for praying for him; and ten thousand to the Lord for putting it in the mind of his minister to do so. Soon after this a revival took place in this church, since which about one hundred have been baptized; and sometimes as many as twenty-four at one time. The church now contains one hundred and twenty members."  (pg. 124)

In view of all these citations concerning the beliefs and practices of the Kehukee Baptists from 1765 to 1801, how can any Harrdshell claim that those first Kehukee Baptists were Hardshell in belief and practice?

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Hardshell Cult's "Key"

Under an article titled "Conditional Time Salvation," my father wrote the following in opposition to Elder Thomas Mann's sermon against "time salvation" and Elder Bradley and the "liberal movement" (emphasis mine):

"I want to quote two paragraphs from a letter that Elder Sam Bryant wrote to Elder Lasserre Bradley back last January 14th. He was questioning Elder Bradley in this letter about his denying Conditional Time Salvation. Here is what he wrote.

'You have said that Primitive Baptists tend to put verses in different buckets. I agree, we do. How would you suggest we rightly divide the word of God? You seem to put every verse in one bucket and that is the eternal bucket!! The only way to rightly divide the Bible is to understand that many verses teach that Eternal Salvation is alone by the Sovereign Grace of God and many other verses teach that salvation from the evil in this world is the responsibility of the child of God and is conditional on his obedience to the commands of God. (Otherwise you would have passive obedience). Understanding Time Salvation is the other key that unlocks so much of the Bible. The Bible teaches that our relationship with God is unconditional but that our fellowship with Him in this life is conditional on our obedience to His word. Jesus said "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Notice that Jesus did not open the door for fellowship! He knocks. We have to open the door.

Surely we must have the Grace of God to be able to obey God and without it we couldn't. We need to go to the throne of grace daily to find grace to help us. However, we have to choose to use the grace God gives us to live a Christian life unless we receive it in vain. (2 Cor. 6: 1) If in fact the Grace of God is going to supply what God's word requires in our life on this earth, then we would end up with a modified version of absolutism."

In this article father said "I certainly agree with Elder Bryant."

Though there is much that I could address in Elder Bryant's letter to Elder Bradley, yet in this posting I simply want to focus on these statements:

1) "Understanding Time Salvation is the other key that unlocks so much of the Bible," and
2) saying that such understanding is "The only way to rightly divide the Bible."

One of the evidences of a cult is their claim to having special revelation, a knowledge of truth, or truths, that no other group possesses. Often this special knowledge is spoken of as a "key" which unlocks truth that is locked to others. Further, this "key" to the Scriptures becomes the one defining characteristic of the group, a thing that they pride themselves in. To have this special key, which none outside the group has, makes one feel special, a truly "elect of the elect." Ironic is the fact that it makes those who have the "key" feel to be "elite," and yet, often, the members of the group are anything but elite, socially or economically. It makes them feel extra special when there is in reality nothing special about them.

I warn everyone who confronts this damnable Hardshell Hyper Calvinistic doctrine of "time salvation" to beware of this "key" that supposedly makes all clear and plain. Why? Because it does not unlock the truth, but rather locks it out.

I know Elder Bryant. I was in his home years ago with my father. Spent a few days with him. I also met him at other times. I wrote him several years ago and challenged him to debate hardshellism. He never responded. You judge for yourself why he did not respond. You judge for yourself why others will not respond or take up the challenge. I know why. I hope people who are going on the Internet to check out the "Primitive Baptists" will also discover why.

If I died tomorrow, I am happy with what I have made available to anyone interested in those who call themselves "Primitive Baptists" and have been historically known as "Hardshells." God can lead inquiring souls to our writings, as he has already in the past. I have put these writings out there as a servant of God. I have done my duty and will continue to do it as long as I am able.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hardshell Silence Speaks Loudly

Since 2011, when this blog was created, I have had only one Hardshell to come forward to challenge the things I have written against the Hardshells. I admired him for doing it (Jason Brown), though he stopped his interaction right when things were getting good. One can only guess why he chose to quit, but I suspect it was a result of his losing the debate and because of pressure being put on him by other Hardshells. Now, what does this silence say about the Hardshell people? Thousands of Hardshells have no doubt read our writings here and yet, they keep quiet. What do you think?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hardshell Oddballs

According to the dictionary, an "oddball" is "a person or thing that is atypical, bizarre, eccentric, or nonconforming, especially one having beliefs that are unusual but harmless."

I do not say that every Hardshell is an "oddball," but I firmly believe that many of them are such. When one begins to speak of their peculiarities, they will often respond by saying "the Lord's people are called a peculiar people." (Titus 2: 14) They do the same thing when one points out the general ignorance of the Hardshell people, biblically speaking. They will say "the apostles were also ridiculed for being 'ignorant and unlearned.'" (Acts 4: 13) Of course, neither of these passages bear on the point being made here. First of all, the peculiarity of "the Lord's people" is not what one only finds among the Hardshells, unless of course, they and they only are "the Lord's people." Secondly, the verse in Acts does not lend credence to the attitude that Hardshells in general have towards religious education.

Now, I got my college degree in Sociology, and I tell you that the Hardshell people would make a fascinating study in that field! I also spent many years with the Hardshell people. I know their idiosyncrasies. Many of them are just weird, hard to figure out. They have a group psyche and general spirit and it is an oddity indeed. They have their own Hardshell "worldview." They see things through their unique denominational spectacles and are blind to everything else.

I have been wanting to say this in the past, but thought I might as well make a short listing of it now. Who can doubt that the "kookiness" of the Hardshells is evident in the way they have historically interpreted the Scriptures? Their history is filled with "wacky" interpretations of the Bible.

Perhaps I can enlarge upon this in the future and give some concrete examples of what I am talking about.



Thursday, September 1, 2016

Waiting For The Huiothesia VII

Chapter Seven - Why "huiosethia" is not "adoption"

Numerous reasons have been given thus far for rejecting the teaching of "adoption" as the way people become the children of God and enter his family. In this chapter we will show other reasons why "adoption" is not only not the teaching of Scripture, but also why "adoption" is a mistranslation of "huiothesia."

First, the word in dispute has "huios" connected with "thesia." But, if "adoption" were meant, then why "huios" (sons) rather than "daughter" (Greek "thygatēr") or "child" (Greek "nekron") or "infant" (Greek "paidion") or "minor child" (Greek "nēpios")?  People today do not generally adopt older boys, and never adopt grown men, as the Romans did. Further, people today rarely adopt their own kin, but the Romans did this often. The point is, if simple western adoption were in view by translating or interpreting "huiothesia" as "adoption," then it would be simply placing or adoption of "children" or "babies."

The translation of "huiosethia" in Ephesians 1:5 as "adoption of children" (KJV) is false and generally corrected by later English translations. The Greek compound word is not made up of "teknon" and "thesia" but "huios" and "thesia." But, as we will see, the KJV errs often in this regard, translating "teknon" as both "child" and "son," when it suited them, and often translating "huios" as both "child" and "son" when it suited them. But, more will be said on this important point later. But, for now, let me add this information about the KJV as regard their translation practice in regard to "teknon" and "huios."

teknon (child) is translated "son" in the following passages: — Matthew ix. 2, Matthew xxi. 28; Mark ii. 5, xiii. 12; Luke ii. 48, Luke xv. 31, Luke xvi. 25; John i. 12; 1 Corinthians iv. 14, 17; Philippians ii. 15, 22; 1 Timothy i. 2, 18; 2 Tim. i. 2, ii. 1; Titus i. 4; Philemon 10; 1 John iii. 12. It is also translated "daughters" in 1 Peter iii. 6.

huios (son) is translated "child" in the following passages: — Matthew 5:9, 45, Matthew viii. 13, Matthew ix. 15, Matthew xii. 27, Matthew xiii. 38, Matthew xvii. 25, 26, Matthew xx. 20, Matthew xxiii. 15, 31, Matthew xxvii. 9, 56; Mark ii. 19; Luke i. 16, 5:34, Luke vi. 35, Luke xvi. 8, Luke xx. 34, 36; John iv. 12, John xii. 36; Acts iii. 25, Acts 5:21, Acts vii. 23, 37, Acts iv. 15, Acts x. 30, Acts xiii. 10, 26; Romans ix. 26, 27; 2 Corinthians iii. 7, 13; Galatians iii. 7, 26; Ephesians ii. 2, 5:6; Colossians iii. 6; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; Hebrews xi. 22, xii. 5; Revelation ii. 14, Revelation vii. 4, Revelation xii. 5, Revelation xxi. 12. It is also translated "foal" in Matthew xxi. 5.

This was not good translation practice. Far better it would be if English translators would translate more literally and keep their private interpretations out of the practice. The KJV translators, as all other English translators, should have always translated "teknon" as "child" and "huios" as "son."

Some bible scholars question whether a meaningful distinction exists in Paul’s use of the Greek words for “child” (Greek "nekron") and “son” (Greek "huios"). In this and the next chapter we will see that the biblical writers, in either testament, did not loosely use these terms, nor other terms denoting people at various stages of life. They did not use such words interchangeably and without significance, as some scholars and translators affirm.

If a NT writer used "huios" or "teknon," for instance, it was done on purpose, with meaningful distinction. I realize that sometimes your average person, in every day language, does not always speak so precisely and with care in the use of such terms. But, though this is generally true among the imprecise conversation of the common populace, whose grammar is often incorrect, it is not true among those who write more correctly and definitively. Neither the writers of the Hebrew OT, nor the writers of the Greek NT, used these terms loosely, as the KJV translators and some other scholars have done.

In this chapter we will begin a look at the various Hebrew and Greek terms used in Holy Scripture to denote persons at various stages of life and then make use of this information to help us decide whether the biblical writers used such terms interchangeably and without purpose, as some scholars affirm. We will see that Paul had a reason for speaking of "son" placement rather than "child" placement.

But, before doing that, let us observe other reasons why "huiothesia" cannot mean adoption. The first of the five passages with "huiothesia" that we looked at was Romans 9:4 where Paul says that "the huiothesia" belonged to those who were "Israelites." Several arguments were offered in regard to that passage which showed that it did not teach that "huiothesia" meant "adoption." Now is a good time to look at its use in Ephesians 1:4.

Predestined To Final Salvation

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,.." (Eph. 1:3-5 kjv)

In the Greek text "predestined us unto adoption (or son placement") is written this way:
"προορίσας ἡμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν."

The KJV translators gave us "the adoption of children" for the translation of "huiothesia." Let it be kept in mind that scholars on the meaning of this word are interpreters, and their interpretations are not always correct. To see how scholars disagree in interpretation and translation all one has to do is to consult the various English translations and notice the differences in judgment on various passages.

Some think that the way to decide which translations are correct, or most correct, is to view all the translations and see which is the majority or consensus interpretation (translation) and then accept such on that basis. This might be good in most cases, but it cannot be made a rule for the Bible interpreter, for sometimes the majority of scholars are in error and the truth is with the minority.

As stated previously, there is no justification in either the use of "children" or "adoption" in translating the word "huiothesia" into English. Literally, "nekron" means "child" and "huios" means "son." No Greek scholar on the NT disagrees with this. Whatever kind of "placing" or "placement" is in view, in the compound word, it is qualified by "huios" and not "nekron."

To translate "huios" as "children" in Eph. 1: 4 and other places (as does the KJV and some other English translations) and then claim justification for doing so on the basis that the interpreter thinks that these terms are sometimes used interchangeably and without a meaningful distinction in the NT, is not good translating. I would ask such translators - "Why not just translate literally and not impose your presupposition (about no meaningful distinction in the terms)?" If the text has "huios" and that means "son," and is distinct from "teknon" that means "child," then why lead people astray by doing as they have done? Thankfully, at least many modern English translations do at least omit "children" in favor of "sons," although many of them still keep the word "adoption." They will translate as "adoption of sons" or "adoption as sons," or in some similar manner.

Another fault with most English translations of "huiothesia" is how they will give a plural translation to the word in spite of the fact that it is singular. Thus, instead of "sons" or "children," it would be "son" or "child." One wonders why this is so. It seems to be a minor symptom of the translating and interpretation problem concerning this unique word. Yet it is a little revealing. Translating literally it would be "son placement," using the singular rather than the plural. Literally the text should be translated into English as "having predestined us to son placement."

Noticeable also is the absence of the definite article "the" in the passage, though the KJV and some other English translations add it to the text. Just as it was wrong to translate "teknon" as "son," and "huios" as "child," so it is wrong to add the definite article when it is absent in the Hebrew or Greek text, or to omit it when it is present. In Ephesians 1:5 it is not "predestined to the huiothesia," but "predestined to huiothesia." So, the KJV got these things wrong with their translation of this passage.

1. Used the word "adoption" to translate "thesia."
2. Used "child" to translate "huios."
3. Used the plural "children" for the singular "huios."
4. Added the definite article "the" when it is noticeably absent in the text
5. Used the unnecessary preposition "of" in "adoption of children"**
**some other translations use "as" for "of"

The purpose of the absence of the Greek article is to describe, define, characterize, and qualify, as any NT Greek grammar will confirm. There is a difference in saying "huiothesia" and "the huiothesia," just as there is in saying "the God" and "God" in John 1:1. The absence of the definite article does not automatically infer the indefinite. So, just as "God" in John 1:1 does not mean "a god," so "huiothesia" does not mean "a son placement." As stated previously, of the five passages where "huiothesia" is used only two omit the definite article. This is one and the other is Romans 8:15. On the other hand we saw its existence in Romans 9:4 and talked of its significance in that passage.

Another point that disproves the idea that "son placement" means "adoption of sons," in addition to the several already offered, in this and previous chapters, is the fact that what God has predestined is the end, first and foremost, and then the means to that end.

Many people erroneously connect "the huiothesia" with the beginning of the Christian life, with being adopted or born again in conversion, but this is not the case, for several reasons. Recall that Dr. Packer believed that Ephesians 1: 5 was one of three places where "adoption" or "huiothesia" was shown to be a present reality. However, it is clear that it is not a present reality as yet; And, if it is not a present reality, but a future event, then no one is yet adopted (if adoption be the correct translation).

In the text "huiothesia" is the object of God's eternal purpose, or predestination, in regard to the elect, and would therefore represent the "end" of his design in regard to them. Therefore, final salvation in the eternal state, as perfected sons of God, and sons of the resurrection, must be in view. It must be the end when the elect are all made fully like, in both soul and body, their heavenly Father. Being converted in time is not the end purpose of God in soteriological predestination, but a means to that end. Salvation and sonship, or being made fully like the Son of God, who is himself the express image of the Father, is the culmination or accomplishment of the divine decree.

Divine acts, like rational human acts, are for the attainment of some predetermined end. The purpose of the end is first in view before the determination of the means. What is first in intention is last in execution. It is therefore called the "final cause." The end purpose and design for the elect is that they be be made like the Son of God and enjoy family life with God the Father forever. Notice these words of the Apostle in regard to the decree of election and predestination.

"God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thess. 2:13-14 KJV)

Notice the end and the means to the end. The end is "salvation" and "obtaining of the glory," which is yet mostly future. The means of this salvation are sanctification of the Spirit and faith via the gospel. But, as sanctification and faith are incomplete, being progressive and linear in the Christian life, so the salvation must be what follows it. In this verse we have two of Aristotle's "four causes." The "first cause" goes back to "the beginning," which beginning is in the mind of God, or "before the foundation of the world." The "final cause" looks forward to the end contemplated. It is purpose realized and brought to fruition. We also have "efficient" and "instrumental" causes in the verses. The Spirit is the efficient cause of sanctification and the gospel and the truth are means or instrumental causes.

In Romans chapter eight, where two of the occurrences of "huiothesia" are found, Paul mentions predestination as in Ephesians chapter one. In Romans 8:29 Paul wrote "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son."

Both these statements, "predestined unto the huiothesia" and "predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son" look to the final state of saints in glory, in eternity to come, when they will be fully made into the image of Christ, who is the image of the Father.

Said Dr. MacArthur in a conference on Ephesians (SEE HERE - Emphasis mine):

"There's also more in it than that. The second half of the word — the first is "pre." The second half of the word is "destined," and that sort of takes you to the end. And the end of it is I think best summed up in Romans 8 that we are: "Predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son." So that God's elective purpose was to the glorification, that is the full and final salvation, of those whom He chose."

This is correct. The end of God's decree of salvation is to have a family of sons and daughters, from among fallen humanity, who have been made divine, holy, and perfect. Therefore, since MacArthur agrees that the salvation unto which the elect are chosen is final salvation, then the "huiothesia," the thing predetermined, is also connected with final salvation and "glorification." As MacArthur says, it is the final "destiny." God has predestined the "end" or completion of his purpose in salvation.

In "The Doctrine of Election, Part 1" (SEE HERE - emphasis mine) Dr. MacArthur said:

"And in the discussions that I had with you regarding that, I said that the end is determined by the beginning. Our salvation is secure to the end because our salvation was predestined in the very beginning to be completed.

And we remember that Romans 8 makes a monumental and very clear statement to that regard. when in Romans 8 the apostle Paul writes, “For whom he foreknew, he predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son.” That is, all whom God predestined will become conformed to the image of his Son in eternal glory. And thus “whom he predestined he called, and whom he called he justified, and whom he justified these he also glorified.” And so, we said that the great undergirding foundational truth that secures our future is God’s decree in eternity past. It is the fact that we are chosen for final salvation that makes our salvation secure."

Of course, again this is correct, and if so, then it is wrong to say that Ephesians 1: 5 shows that "adoption" or "huiothesia" is a present realization. Rather, it is in harmony with Paul in Romans 8:23 where he said "waiting for the huiothesia, i.e., the redemption of the body." Thus, these things are yet to be realized, and are not a present possession.

It is interesting that this is one of the verses that supposedly puts adoption or huiothesia in the present experience of Christians, rather than in the future. As we have noted already, Paul put "the huiothesia" in the future when he said that it is what Christians are yet waiting for, and is to take place with the resurrection of the body. Yet, this passage also puts son placement in the future, for God has predestined us to final and complete salvation. We might just as well translate Paul's words as "chosen to salvation in heaven in the eternal state," and "predestined us to final son placement" and "predestined to be made into the full likeness of the Father and the Son at the second coming."

Predestined To End Time Son Placement

Putting Ephesians 1:4-5 together with Romans 8: 23 we have "predestined us to son placement and to redemption of the body for which we are waiting."

Of course God predetermines the ways and means for effecting his end purposes and designs. But, he first sees the end desired and contemplated and then sets about determining the means to that end. The text has all kinds of references to what is mostly yet future for the believer in Christ. He has stated that God had chosen the believer in Christ before the making of the universe "unto salvation." But, salvation is only begun now and is not yet completed. Only at the second coming and resurrection do saints fully realize the totality of this salvation. But, which is the end and which is the means? Is initial salvation in conversion the end of being chosen or the means to the end? Is the end of salvation not yet future and the thing intended?

Paul does speak, in Ephesians one, of present blessings of salvation. But, the emphasis is rather on the eschatological end of God's purpose in salvation and redemption. When Paul says "God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in  Christ," he does not mean that the believer, at the time of his conversion and birth, received all these blessings. Even though Paul speaks in the past tense, saying "has blessed us," yet he does not infer that all these blessings are a present reality for the believer.

God the Father "chose us in Christ" and "blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ" in eternity past in his decrees and in the covenant between the Father and the Son. Some of these spiritual blessings are a present reality, but the chief of them are yet future, and this fact is often stated by the NT writers in their addresses to Christians. In the context of the three occurrences of "huiothesia" in Romans chapters eight and nine, Paul, though he speaks of present blessings of salvation, nevertheless lays the stress on the future, on what is not yet realized by the Christian, being a matter of hope and expectation. In that context he put "waiting for the huiothesia" along with waiting for "the revelation of the sons of God," and for "the redemption of the body," and with the "glory that shall be revealed in us." All these are future events and all connected with "huiothesia" or "son placement."

Another reason for seeing the "huiothesia" of Ephesians 1: 4 as not something realized in the present mortal life of the elect, but something still yet future, is due to what is meant by the words "before him" in "chosen us to be holy and without blame before him." When is it that believers are "before him" in the fullest sense? Is it not in the glorious eternal state? Is that not when God himself will dwell with them and they live in his presence? Is that not the end purpose?

Consider also the fact that the choice is to be "holy and blameless," to be "without defect," before the Lord. Though Christians have a degree of holiness now, and are fully justified now, yet they are not yet in themselves, or in their characters, "blameless" or morally flawless. The Greek word translated "blameless" is "amomos" and means "without spot or blemish morally," or "faultless, unblameable."