Wednesday 28 January 2015

Comments on Romans 8 and other texts

I had some objections brought to my attention in a discussion I briefly had with a Calvinist fellow and Sam Shamoun had also chimed in and asked me about Romans 8 and I hope to answer it here.
(Let me preface despite the fact I hold to Arminianism, I believe Calvinists are brothers in the faith.)

"please read Romans 8:26-39 and show me where the person's free will whom God has foreknown, predestined, called, justified and glorified is exempted from all the list of things which cannot separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I had stated that free will wasn't mentioned and said it was an argument from silence regarding this point. 

The response:"Actually it is included if you read carefully. Here goes: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.' No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities nor powers, neither things present nor things to come, neither height nor depth, NOR ANY OTHER CREATED THING, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35-39). Since both the person being saved and his will are all a part of the category of "any other created thing," how can you say the text doesn't mention it? Are you saying that the believer and his will are not part of the order of created things, but are exempted?"

Here is Romans 8:26-39:
"Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

More Than Conquerors
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

My point on this text as well as John 10:27-30, was that no one and nothing could separate us from the Father or snatch us from the Son's hand. The point was in the context, there is an exception.

I can't be snatched from the Son's hand, not by any individual, Sam Shamoun cannot be snatched from the Son's hand, HOWEVER, I can walk out of the Father's hand and Sam Shamoun can walk out of the Father's hand. Paul is talking about an external thing or person removing the believer, NOT the believer themselves walking out on the Father.

I am not talking about an individual who is a nominal Christian or a heretic, I am talking about an individual who himself was in Christ, but now has apostatized away from the faith. I am also not saying believers and their will are not part of the created order, I am only saying that a believer can fall away if he doesn't repent and return to the cross.

Why in the world are there warnings not to turn away in the first place if we couldn't fall away. The warnings are directed to us, not to the unbeliever.

Furthermore, you are secure in Christ if you remain in him. If one doesn't abide, they are cut off. Let me stress that there is a difference, between someone who is secure in Christ and they trust in him for salvation, enabling them to live a holy life, and someone who tries to rely on their works for their salvation. There is also a difference between falling into sin and practicing it. Someone who falls into sin in a moment of weakness and repents isn't lost but someone who carries on in their sin will have no assurance of salvation.

John 6
"make sure to read John 6:66-71 and 17:12, along with 6:35-40, since Jesus makes it plain that Judas was never one of those whom the Father gave to the Son. If he were then Jesus would have guaranteed that he would never perish but would be restored after falling away, just like he made sure for the others who also betrayed and abandoned him."

The subject of Judas may need another paper. I would need to think on this topic. But I'll gladly comment on the verses below regarding him.

"John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”"

Firstly, Christ himself will not drive away those whom the Father has quickened and brought into the family, referring to their conversion. Jesus is not going to say to those who come to him "Get Lost, I don't want you", he'll happily welcome you into the Father's arms and it is the will of the Father that those he gives to Christ will not be lost.

But to say the danger of apostasy is absent from the text is nothing more than an argument from silence. What about Jesus warning to abide in the true vine or else you will be cut off? Again, Remaining and trusting in Christ, not trusting in works, since trusting in works damns you. A piece of fruit cannot grow on it's own or have nutritional value apart from the vine itself. If you cut the fruit from the vine, it will die. There is a risk of being lost and John 6:35-40 doesn't suggest that isn't the case, since later in the context the other disciples abandoned him.

The Father doesn't remove the choice of a person when they come to him, It is his will that none who come to him will perish, but he allows the Christian to either continue to walk in the spirit and remain in him, or he will allow them to renounce him. Again, the choice of the believer is NOT taken away by the Father.

"66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

70 Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)"

The apostles themselves didn't know who was the traitor was until it was revealed by Jesus. John writing to his readers is writing after the events and Jesus himself knew the hearts of the apostles. Only Jesus himself knew who the the false apostle among them was at that time. But again, the subject of Judas needs a separate paper.

Yes you can technically argue that those who left never believed to begin with but how do you deal with someone who has been in Christ for years, regenerated and born again and falls away? To say there is no possibility of falling away renders the warnings vacuous and pointless.

John Wesley in his explanatory notes had the following to say:
"Verse 35

[35] And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

I am the bread of life — Having and giving life: he that cometh - he that believeth - Equivalent expressions: shall never hunger, thirst - Shall be satisfied, happy, for ever.

Verse 36

[36] But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

I have told you — Namely, John 6:26.

Verse 37

[37] All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

All that the Father giveth me — All that feel themselves lost, and follow the drawings of the Father, he in a peculiar manner giveth to the Son: will come to me - By faith. And him that thus cometh to me, I will in nowise cast out - I will give him pardon, holiness, and heaven, if he endure to the end-to rejoice in his light.

Verse 39

[39] And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Of all which he hath already given me - See John 17:6,12. If they endure to the end. But Judas did not.

Verse 40

[40] And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Here is the sum of the three foregoing verses.

This is the will of him that sent me — This is the whole of what I have said: this is the eternal, unchangeable will of God. Every one who truly believeth, shall have everlasting life.

Every one that seeth and believeth — The Jews saw, and yet believed not.

And I will raise him up — As this is the will of him that sent me, I will perform it effectually."
John Wesley's Explanatory Notes:

There really isn't much else I can say on this topic at this particular time.

Answering Judaism.

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