He is alive! Hallelujah!
The End Times
In my last post, we explored Revelation 8:10-11 the Third Shofar. In this post, we will explore the impact of the Fourth Shofar.
“The fourth angel sounded his shofar; and a third of the sun was struck, also a third of the moon and a third of the stars; so that a third of them were darkened, the day had a third less light, and the night likewise.” ~ Revelation 8:12 (CJB)
The ecological and environmental disasters that have happened on earth from the first three Shofars will, doubtless, be the subject of endless debate. Scientists, astronomers, philosophers and theologians will seek to explain the catastrophes that have come upon the earth. With a variety of theories, they will seek to show that these events are natural and are not the evidence of divine intervention.
Men of course will be only too anxious to have their fears put to rest. However, as the Fourth Shofar is sounded all such theories will be confounded and unbelief challenged in unmistakable fashion. God touches the sky. To men the heavenly bodies have appeared untouchable, unembeddable in their paths through an ordered universe; now they are affected. The sun, the moon and the stars feel the touch of omnipotence and to men there is nothing so terrifying.
A collapsing government, an overthrown kingdom or an apostate religious leader is greeted with casual interest, if not total indifference, by all the people immediately involved. But, let there be the possibility of erratic movement in a heavenly body and attention is instant. Therefore, the terrible storm, the blazing forest, the bloodied sea and the poisoned rivers are preparing for the moment when God will touch the heavens. God does this under the Fourth Shofar.
A review of these first four shofar judgments indicates how rapidly God can change the environment in which men had thought themselves independent and secure. Roy B. Hilton expounds: 
Some would have this to refer to apostasy and false teachings bringing spiritual darkness to the earth. But again, why should this not be a literal cosmic disturbance that is to occur in the last days? See Luke 21:25; Isaiah 13:9; Matthew 24:29; Ezekiel 32:7-8. Thus, the first four trumpets judgments are directed toward man and nature, the sea, the fresh water supply, and the cosmic heavens. To me this is the most logical interpretation of these trumpet judgments.
Special Comparative Note on Chapter 8:12 
For Historicists, the sun, moon and stars represent “the political firmament of Rome.” The conquest of Rome and the end of its imperial rule were accomplished in 476 CE.
Preterists assign these events to the times of the Jewish War.
The diminishing of the heavenly lights in this judgment is interpreted by Ironside as a reduction of light of perception in the Tribulation, a binding of those who rejected the all-too-adequate light of the Gospel. Walvoord continues to hold out for a more literal application, considering that what we see here is “an eclipse that extends to a third part of the day and a third part of the night.” Ryrie similarly suggests that the twenty-four-hour cycle will be shortened to sixteen-hour cycle. Lindsey and Morris postulate that the reduction in light might result from air pollution.
Most Idealists apply the calamity applying to God’s dealings with any nation at any given time. Since there is only partial damage, the shofar is sounding not doom, but a warning.
In my next post, we will explore Revelation 8:13 the Three Woes.
 A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones
 Material in this section is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg
Response to Comments
In my last post, I wrapped-up the series on Eternal Security. As promised, I want to take a few minutes to respond to the comments made in the last several posts.
As a reminder, this series was inspired by my own quest to answer the question: Can I Lose My Salvation? I did my best to present both sides of the coin impartially. I spent a lot of time praying in addition to reading and researching Scripture, commentaries, study notes, dictionaries, theology books and other related material. In my last two posts, I answered the question by stating that theologically, I am a Calvi-minian and am in no fear of losing my own salvation. My responses are italicized.
Good morning, Donald;
Can a Christian lose salvation? First, the term Christian must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer or walked down an aisle or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what makes a Christian. A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8–9).
I don’t disagree! Trust and obey, there is no other way.
So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? It’s a crucially important question. Perhaps the best way to answer it is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation and to study what losing salvation would entail:(See: Can a Christian lose salvation? @ http://wp.me/p26QNa-3qg).
Michael, you have stated your position in your usual excellent manner. We obviously disagree on the issue of can a Christian as you’ve described above and in your post, turn his back on His Savior and walk away. I do believe it is possible by his own free will, but highly improbable by the working of the indwelling Ruach.
Secondly, we must look to the question of “Is it possible for a person’s name to be erased from the Book of Life?” First, Scripture is clear that a true believer is kept secure by the power of God, sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and of all those whom the Father has given to the Son, He will lose none of them (John 6:39). The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29b). Salvation is God’s work, not ours (Titus 3:5), and it is His power that keeps us.
If the “anyone” referred to in Revelation 22:19 are not believers, who are they? In other words, who might want to either add to or take away from the words of the Bible? (See: “Is it possible for a person’s name to be erased from the Book of Life?” @ http://wp.me/p26QNa-2dZ ).
Michael, I going to take a pass on this position as my next series will be a look at the End Times. I’ll examine this issue then.
And thirdly: We must answer the question “If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?” The Bible teaches that everyone who is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit is saved forever. We receive the gift of eternal life (John 10:28), not temporary life. Someone who is born again (John 3:3) cannot be “unborn.” After being adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15), we will not be kicked out. When God starts a work, He finishes it (Philippians 1:6). So, the child of God—the believer in Jesus Christ—is eternally secure in his salvation.
However, the Bible also contains some strong warnings against apostasy. These warnings have led some to doubt the doctrine of eternal security. After all, if we cannot lose our salvation, why are we warned against falling away from the Lord? (See: “If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?” @ http://wp.me/p26QNa-2To ).
I think I laid out my position of Apostasy clearly in Eternal Security ~ Part 4 & 5. I stated above: I do believe it is possible by his own free will, but highly improbable by the working of the indwelling Ruach, for a believer to Apostatize.
I think it comes down to the extent of perseverance of the saints, Don. I know you lean towards even a saved believer being able to walk away from his salvation. I actually believe we might WANT to, and even intend to. I just don’t get on board with the idea that, no matter how much we might think we want to walk away, or plan to, that God will actually let us. I honestly think in that case He revokes our will and keeps us anyway. He loves us so much that He stops us from being stupid.
I’m not convinced that He revokes our will; but, by the indwelling of the Ruach it’s not a fight that I think I could win. It is that indwelling that I consciously rely on to keep me from doing the ultimate stupid.
Also, in Eternal Security ~ Part 23, Patrick from Serving Grace Ministries commented:
I think you [Wally and I] are both right. It would be ludicrous to believe that the God who draws all men unto Himself would let go easily. Also, notice that Hebrews 6:5 the author (who I believe to be Paul) is dealing with the issue of maturity in the things of God… those who have advanced beyond the elementary teachings of the Gospel but have flowed in the gifts of the Spirit.
Patrick, you’ll get no argument from me, except for the authorship of the Letter to the Messianic Jews (Hebrews).
And, Spaniard VIII from SPIRITUALMINEFIELD commented:
I disagree with Wally that God takes away our freewill, its unBiblical. I do agree with Wally that you cannot lose your salvation because Jesus plainly said so in John 10:28. Even though you have freewill, you will never choose to abandon Christ, its impossible. Why? Because through faith in Jesus we are born again, becoming a new man, not the same as the old one. Our soul becomes totally devoted to Jesus Christ. If we can lose our salvation, then we never had something that was eternal. Either we have it or we don’t. Thanks for the ping Son.
See my response above to Wally’s comment and the following.
Interestingly, over the last couple of days in my daily readings (both Scripture and devotionals) I have been seeing passages or comments that support the “once saved, always saved” credo of classical Calvinists. “He who wins the victory will, like them, be dressed in white clothing; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life; in fact, I will acknowledge him individually before My Father and before His angels.” ~ Revelation 3:5. I’m not there yet, but who knows what the future may hold. Regardless, I am convinced that I am saved and won’t be left behind.
I close with the following two quotes from devotions I have read in the last two days.
“So how does a branch keep from being pruned from the vine? If God is the divine gardener and we are the branches, how do we make sure that he doesn’t target us for trimming? How can we make sure that we survive the gardener’s shears? “Stay united with me, as I will with you — for just as the branch can’t put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you can’t bear fruit apart from me” ~ John 15:4. According to Yeshua, the secret to growth is connection. The way we stay healthy is simply to stay attached. The formula for more fruit is to remain on the vine. To feed from its roots. To stay plugged into the source of all life.” 
“As God’s child, live today with the surety, hope, and courage that come from knowing that your standing before God is secure.” 
In my next post, I share about Hanukkah.
 Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven ~ December 16th.
 New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp ~ December 15th.
Perseverance of the Saints
In my last post, we looked back at Calvinism and Arminianism Contrasted and I stated my position on each issue, except Perseverance of the Saints. In this post, I will now address that issue and wrap-up this series on Eternal Security. I have color coded each of the cells using the three colors of a traffic signal with green signifying agreement; yellow for a mixture of both [orange in WordPress] ; and, red for disagreement.
[WordPress did not allow me to format the table like I wanted it to appear. You may want to click on the PDF version below.]
|CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM CONTRASTED|
|Perseverance of the Saints||Believers may turn from grace and lose their salvation.||Believers will persevere in the faith. Believers are secure in their salvation; none will be lost.||See discussion below.|
The whole issue of Perseverance of the Saints is tied up in the issue of Apostasy, Election, God’s Sovereignty and (Man’s) Free Will. I’ve covered each of those issues at length in previous posts. Let’s take a quick look back at what we have learned.
In Eternal Security ~ Parts 4 ~ 6 we learned the definition for Apostasy and looked at several passages from Scripture that alluded to Believers possessing the ability to renounce their faith in Yeshua as their Redeemer. Perhaps the clearest was Hebrews 6:4-6.
“For when people have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh, and tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the ‘olam haba [this age] — and then have fallen away — it is impossible to renew them so that they turn from their sin, as long as for themselves they keep executing the Son of God on the stake all over again and keep holding him up to public contempt.” ~ Hebrews 6:4-6
“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” ~ Hebrews 6:4-6 (NASB)
Clearly, to accept the premise that a true Believer can walk away from salvation in Yeshua implies Man’s Free Will is already considered in God’s Sovereignty. The verse under consideration here refers to a class of people who cannot “be brought back to repentance.” The issue is not whether God would forgive them if they repented, but whether there is any way to bring them to repentance at all. The answer is NO.
God’s Sovereignty and (Man’s) Free Will
In Eternal Security ~ Part 7, I declared that I accepted what A.W. Tozer’s had to say on this topic.
“I believe in free will. Free will was given as a gift of God – He’s given us a little provisional sovereignty out of His absolute sovereignty … God Almighty is sovereign, free to do as He pleases. Among the things He is pleased to do is give me freedom to do what I please. And when I do what I please, I am fulfilling the will of God, not controverting it, for God in His sovereignty has sovereignly given me freedom to make a free choice. And when I make a choice, I’m fulfilling His sovereignty, in that He sovereignly wills that I should be free to make a choice.
If mankind does indeed have the free will to accept or reject the Ruach’s prompting to accept Yeshua as the Son of God by faith, then it only seems logical to me that once accepted s/he can recant that decision. Certainly, we all know of friends, relatives or acquaintances who have initially rejected the calling of God to salvation and then have later accepted the reality of their need for Eternal Security.
Now, I freely confess, having walked with Him for the last thirty-eight years, I cannot imagine how I could possibly overcome the power of the Ruach within me to keep me on the straight and narrow to fall into Apostasy. Nor, can I imagine how anyone else could commit such an Unpardonable Sin (see Post 20). As A.W. Tozer stated: “Anyone who is concerned about having committed the unpardonable sin may be sure he or she has not!”
Having been trained in the ministry under the auspices of the Assemblies of God, I would be remiss in not sharing their doctrinal statement on the Security of the Believer. The full statement can be obtained here.
Let me highlight a couple of paragraphs in that statement:
Certainly, there are true Christians who believe and teach Calvinism; there are also true Christians who believe and teach that men and women have free will. Unfortunately, both sides have spent more time arguing doctrinal terminology and interpretations of theology than reaching out to a lost world. The irony of the disagreement is that Calvinists, who believe in predestination, are sometimes more active in witnessing and evangelism than Arminians who believe that man has a free will and should be encouraged to accept Christ as Savior. God, of course, looks on the heart and the actions rather than on the eloquence with which one defends a position.
Once saved can mean forever saved – if one continues in faith, growing in sanctification and holiness day by day. But God will not arbitrarily usurp mankind’s free will. Our sovereign God does not overrule free will just to prove He is sovereign.
I would also be remiss if I did not share with my audience a couple of blog posts that have been shared with me that take a different approach to this issue of Can I Lose My Salvation?
The first is by my good friend, Wally Fry at Truth in Palmyra. Click here
I leave you with my final answer to the question I originally asked and three quotes from people who have influenced by walk with Yeshua:
- Yes, I believe it is possible, but highly improbable to lose your salvation. I have no doubt, I will not lose mine.
- “In God’s faithfulness lies eternal ” ~ Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)
- “This is how God will revive a church and the only way He will do it: there must be among us a oneness of determination to glorify the Lord alone. The Lord will not ask if you are Arminian or Calvinist, but He will ask, ‘Are you determined to glorify Me alone?’” ~ A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
- “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” ~ 1 John 5:12 – 13 (ESV).
In my next post, I hope to respond to your collective comments regarding the content of this series.
CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM CONTRASTED
In my last post, I tackled the issue of Election and declared my position on this one issue as an Arminian. In this post, I want to address the other primary tenets of Calvinism and Arminianism and declare my position on each. I’ll be using the format that I used in Eternal Security ~ Part 15. I have color coded each of the cells using the three colors of a traffic signal with green signifying agreement; yellow for a mixture of both [orange in WordPress] ; and, red for disagreement.
[WordPress did not allow me to format the table like I wanted it to appear. You may want to click on the PDF version below.]
CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM CONTRASTED
|Total Depravity||As a result of the Fall, man has inherited a corrupted nature. Prevenient grace has removed the guilt and condemnation of Adam’s sin.||As a result of the Fall, man is totally depraved and dead in sin; he is unable to save himself. Because he is dead in sin, God must initiate salvation.||From my perspective, both positions essentially say that we are all born sinners because of Adam’s sin and must accept God’s salvation through accepting Yeshua as our Lord and Savior.
|Imputation of Sin||God did not impute sin to the entire human race through Adam’s sin, but all people inherit a corrupt nature because of Adam’s fall.||Through Adam’s transgression, sin was imputed ~ passed to the entire human race so that all people are born in sin.||To me, this is another example of splitting hairs. Sin is sin. We are born with a sin nature, but we don’t pay the penalty for the sins of our parents.|
|Unconditional Election||God elected those whom He knew would believe of their own free will. Election is conditional, based on man’s response in faith.||God unconditionally, from eternity past, elected some to be saved. Election is not based on man’s future response.||I covered this in my last post in Election ~ Part 21.|
|Limited Atonement||Christ died for the entire human race, making all mankind capable for salvation. His death is effective only in those who believe.
|God determined that Christ would die for all those whom God elected. Since Christ did not die for everyone but only for those who were elected to be saved. His death is completely successful.||This is tied back to the issue of Election. Clearly, His death is effective and completely successful for all who believe that He is the Son of God.|
|Irresistible Grace||Through prevenient or preparatory grace, which is given to all people, man can cooperate with God and respond to Him in salvation. Prevenient grace reverses the effects of Adam’s sin.||Common grace is extended to all mankind but is insufficient to save anyone. Through irresistible grace God drew to Himself those whom He had elected, making them willing to respond.||This issue is also tied back to the issue of Election and the Will of Man below. I believe that it is only by God’s Grace and sovereignty that we can accept salvation by the atoning blood of our Savior Yeshua.|
|Will of Man||Prevenient grace is given to all people and is exercised on the entire person, giving man a free will.||Depravity extends to all of man, including his will. Without irresistible grace man’s will remains bound, unable to respond to God on its own ability.||I addressed this issue in Eternal Security ~ Part 7 wherein I agreed with A.W. Tozer’s position of God’s Sovereignty and Free Will when he stated: “God Almighty is sovereign, free to do as He pleases. Among the things He is pleased to do is give me freedom to do what I please. And when I do what I please, I am fulfilling the will of God, not controverting it, for God in His sovereignty has sovereignly given me freedom to make a free choice.”
|Perseverance of the Saints||Believers may turn from grace and lose their salvation.||Believers will persevere in the faith. Believers are secure in their salvation; none will be lost.||I will address this in my next post.|
|Sovereignty of God||God limits His control in accordance with man’s freedom and response. His decrees are related to His foreknowledge of what man’s response will be.||God’s sovereignty is absolute and unconditional. He has determined all things according to the good pleasure of His will. His foreknowledge originates in advanced planning, not in advanced information.||See Will of Man above.|
In my next post, I will address my take on the issue of the Perseverance of the Saints.
 Those doctrines in BOLDFACE indicate the main Calvinistic doctrines known as T.U.L.I.P.
In my last post, we tackled the issue of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach. I want to re-cap where we have been on this journey for those who may not have been on the whole journey with us and refresh the memory (including mine) for those who have walked this road with me.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 1||Introduction to the series where I explained why the study was timely and why is was important to me (and presumably to my readers). I asked the question ~ Can Salvation Be Lost?
|Eternal Security ~ Part 2||I presented a Glossary of Terms that I would be exploring.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 3||We began to explore the concept of Eternal Security.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 4 ~ 6||We looked at the concept of Apostasy and touched on Backsliding. Before wrapping up this series, I will return to this topic and reveal my personal position on this as I answer the question of Can Salvation Be Lost?
|Eternal Security ~ Part 7||In this post, I presented scriptural references to God’s Sovereignty and Free Will and quoted from Clarence Larkin and A.W. Tozer. I concluded that God’s Sovereignty takes into consideration man’s free will to accept or reject His offer of salvation.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 8 ~ 9||In these posts, we looked at the beginnings of The Protestant Reformation and a brief bio-sketch of John Calvin and his teachings.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 10 ~ 13||We explored spread of Calvinism, the Synod of Dort, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Five Points of Calvinism.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 14||I presented a brief bio-sketch of Jacobus Arminius the ‘father’ of Arminianism.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 15 ~ 18||In these posts, we were introduced to the Remonstrance, the historical development of Arminian Theology, as well as the tenets of Arminian Theology.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 19||In this post, we explored the Calvinistic View and Arminian View of Election.
|Eternal Security ~ Part 20||In my last post, we looked at the concept of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach.
I’ve done my best to provide a balanced approach to present the material to date by using the same sources to present the basic differences between Calvinism and Arminianism. Now, I want to look at some of the contested passages I was not able to more fully address previously.
In Part 12, we learned that Calvinists believe in Unconditional Election. Calvinism teaches that from eternity past, God has unconditionally elected certain ones to salvation regardless of any merit on their part. Unconditional emphasizes that election is not conditioned on God’s foreknowledge that certain ones will believe in Yeshua. Election is not conditioned on man’s ability or response. This is frequently referred to as God foreordained those who would be saved and those who would be sentenced to eternal damnation. In support of that position, Calvinists look to the following passages of Scripture:
“Because those whom He knew in advance, He also determined in advance would be conformed to the pattern of His Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers; and those whom He thus determined in advance, He also called; and those whom He called, He also caused to be considered righteous; and those whom He caused to be considered righteous He also glorified!” ~ Romans 8:29-30.
“Before they were born, before they had done anything at all, either good or bad (so that God’s plan might remain a matter of his sovereign choice, not dependent on what they did, but on God, who does the calling)” ~ Romans 9:11.
“In the Messiah He chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in His presence. He determined in advance that through Yeshua the Messiah we would be His sons … Also in union with Him we were given an inheritance, we who were picked in advance according to the purpose of the One who effects everything in keeping with the decision of his will” ~ Ephesians 1:4-5, 11.
In Part 19, we learned that Arminians believe that Election is not absolute or unconditional but Conditional, contingent upon the proper acceptance of such gifts of grace as God by His Ruach and providence puts within the reach of men. In support of that position, Arminians look to the following passages of Scripture:
“He wants all humanity to be delivered and come to full knowledge of the truth” ~ 1 Timothy 2:4.
“Indeed, it is for this that we toil and strive: we have our hope set on a living God who is the deliverer of all humanity, especially of those who trust” ~ 1 Timothy 4:10.
Speaking to the Jewish rulers (clearly God’s elect), Stephen said: “Stiffnecked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You continually oppose the Ruach HaKodesh! You do the same things your fathers did!” ~ Acts 7:51.
“The next day, Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, “Look! God’s lamb! The one who is taking away the sin of the world!” ~ John 1:29.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through Him, the world might be saved” ~ John 3:16-17 (emphasis added).
“In other words, just as it was through one offense that all people came under condemnation, so also it is through one righteous act that all people come to be considered righteous. For just as through the disobedience of the one man, many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the other man, many will be made righteous” ~ Romans 5:18-19 (emphasis added).
“For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:22 (emphasis added).
So, the key difference between Calvinists and Arminians on the issue of Election appears to me based upon the question: Did God foreordained those who could only accept the Gospel message or did He foreknow those that would? As for me, there is no way that I can accept a God of love that foreordained His children to eternal damnation. Consequently, I must come down on the side of the Arminians on this one issue.
In my next post, I will continue to examine several other the contested passages we have encountered along our journey.
Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach
In my last post, we concluded our presentation of Election that we started in Eternal Security ~ Part 2. In this post, I want to tackle the issue of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach. Once those issues are fully addressed, I will move on to the contested passages before wrapping-up this series with my own personal position.
What is the Unpardonable Sin? Interestingly, that phrase is not contained in the Bible. It has developed over the years to refer to blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh. “I tell you that people will be forgiven any sin and blasphemy, but blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh will not be forgiven” ~ Matthew 12:31. Attributing to the Adversary the work of the Ruach can imperil the soul for eternity. “Someone who blasphemes against the Ruach HaKodesh never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin” ~ Mark 3:29. “Everyone who says something against the Son of Man will have it forgiven him; but whoever has blasphemed the Ruach HaKodesh will not be forgiven” ~ Luke 12:10.
Recall in Eternal Security ~ Part 2: Glossary of Terms, Unger stated:
This was a specific sin possible only during the earthly life of our Lord, when He was ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit. Under those unique conditions a person who attributed to Satan the power of the Holy Spirit, so visibly and openly manifested, was guilty of this peculiar sin. For this reason, there could be no forgiveness in the age then present or in the age immediately following. Since no such conditions exist in this age, the unpardonable sin is now impossible. An unpardonable sin and the gospel of “whosoever will” cannot coexist. Were such a sin possible today, every gospel invitation would specifically shut out those who had committed such a trespass.
In both Mathew and Mark, the context for Yeshua’s pronouncement is His defense against the P’rushim’s accusation that He was driving out demons under the power of Satan, not the Ruach. The passage in Luke is contained in several mini-teachings to the talmidim on His way to Jerusalem.
With respect to Matthew 12:31, the ESV Study Bible  states:
The sin is attributing to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God, and doing this through the flagrant, willful, and persistent rejection of God and His commands. This sin is committed today only by unbelievers who deliberately and unchangeably reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit in calling them to salvation.
With respect to Mark 3:29, the ESV Study Bible states:
The opponents’ accusation against Jesus is the unforgivable, eternal sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Mark 3:28 emphasizes that “all sins will be forgiven,” anticipating the eternally valid, substitutionary atonement of Jesus. However, if a person persistently attributes to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God – that is, if one makes a flagrant, willful, decisive judgment that the Spirit’s testimony about Jesus is satanic – then such a person never has forgiveness.
With respect to Luke 12:10, the ESV Study Bible states:
Jesus closes this occasion of teaching his disciples with one of the most enigmatic, debated, and misunderstood sayings of His ministry. Key to understanding this passage is the distinction Jesus makes between, on one hand, the extreme case of blasphemy against “the Holy Spirit” and, on the other hand, the lesser case of speaking in a dishonorable way against “the Son of Man.” One who asks to be forgiven for disrespectful words hastily spoken against Jesus (the Son of Man) will be forgiven. But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – that is, the persistent and unrepentant resistance against the work of the Holy Spirit and his message concerning Jesus – this, Jesus says, will not be forgiven. The person who persists in hardening his heart against God, against the work of the Holy Spirit, and against the provision of Christ as Savior, is outside the reach of God’s provision for forgiveness and salvation. Christians often worry that they have committed this sin, but such a concern is itself evidence of an openness to the work of the Spirit.
As we see, we have a difference of opinion between Unger and the authors of the ESV Study Bible on when the Unpardonable Sin can be committed. Unger maintains that it was limited to when Yeshua was ministering on earth; while the ESV Study Bible it can still be committed by those unbelievers who deliberately and unchangeably reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit in calling them to salvation. While I understand Unger’s position, I can’t reconcile it with the whole of Scripture.
What if someone after Yeshua’s ascension or even today were to repent of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Is there no forgiveness for the person who repents of this sin? Was Sha’ul sinning against the Ruach in the days when he persecuted Believers and even “trying to make them blaspheme” ~ Acts 26:11? Evidently not! He wrote to Timothy and stated: “I received mercy because I had acted in unbelief, not understanding what I was doing” ~ 1 Timothy 1:13.
A.W. Tozer has stated:
“I have discovered a very helpful rule in this matter. I believe it holds good throughout the whole church of God around the world. Anyone who is concerned about having committed the unpardonable sin may be sure he or she has not!” 
Grieving the Ruach
The concept of grieving the Ruach is found in Ephesians 4:30: “Don’t cause grief to God’s Ruach HaKodesh, for he has stamped you as his property until the day of final redemption.” That the Ruach can be saddened or grieved points to the personality of the Ruach. The Ruach is a person who can be saddened by the way we live. Sha’ul has already explained that the Ruach’s power within gives new life to believers. While we continue to battle with our sinful nature, we should be living for Yeshua each day. To refuse to do so, to constantly give in to lying, anger, stealing, and foul talk is to grieve the Ruach of God. Because the Ruach controls and guides speech, praise, prophecy, and tongues, we offend him when we use them improperly.
Sha’ul reminded the readers that the Ruach within them gives both a privilege and a responsibility. Their responsibility is to not disappoint Him by the way they live; their privilege is their promised future, for through the presence of the Ruach, they were stamped until the day of redemption. The seal of the Ruach upon a Believer marks that Believer as God’s property until the day he or she is completely redeemed.
In my next post, I will begin to examine several of the contested passages we have encountered along our journey.
 In my personal devotion time this year, I have been using the English Standard Study Bible as I re-read through the Brit Hadashah, Psalms and Proverbs.
 “Jesus, Author of Our Faith” by A.W. Tozer
In my last post, we concluded our presentation of Arminian Theology. In this post, I want to go back to Eternal Security ~ Part 2 to complete the definition of Election as it applies to the Calvinistic and Arminian Theology.
Recall that Unger defined the Biblical view of Election  as: “This word in the Scriptures has three distinct applications.
- To the divine choice of nations or communities for the possession of special privileges with reference to the performance of special services. Thus the Jews were “a chosen nation,” “the elect.” Thus also in the NT, bodies of Christian people, or churches, are called “the elect.”
- To the divine choice of individuals to a particular office or work. Thus Cyrus was elected of God to bring about the rebuilding of the Temple, and thus the twelve were chosen to be apostles and Paul to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
- To the divine choice of individuals to be the children of God, and therefore heirs of heaven.”
The Calvinistic View of Election
The Westminster Confession, the standard of the Church of Scotland and of the various Presbyterian churches of Europe and America, contains the following statement:
“God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own free will freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw its future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving Him thereto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Therefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.”
In support of this doctrine several arguments are made by Calvinistic theologians: (1) According to the Scriptures election is not of works but of grace; and that it is not of works means that it is not what man does that determines whether he is to be one of the elect or not. For the descendants of Adam this life is not a probation. They stood their probation in Adam and do not stand each one for himself. (2) The sovereignty of God in electing men to salvation is shown by the fact that repentance and faith are gifts from God. These fruits of His Spirit are the consequences and signs of election and not its conditions. (3) The salvation that is of grace must be of grace throughout. The element of works or human merit must not be introduced at any point in the plan. And that would be the case if repentance and faith were the conditions of election. (4) The system of doctrine called Calvinistic, Augustinian, Pauline, should not be thus designated. That though taught clearly by Paul, particularly in Romans 8:9, it was taught also by others of the writers of sacred Scripture, and by Christ Himself. Reference is made to Matthew 11:25-26; Luke 4:25-27; Luke 8:10; John 6:37, 39. (5) That the sovereignty of God is evidenced in dispensing saving grace is illustrated also in His establishing the temporal conditions of mankind. Some are born and reared in the surroundings of civilization, others of barbarism. And precisely so some are blessed with the light of the gospel, while others, dwelling in pagan lands, are deprived of that light and consequently are not saved.
This system of strict Calvinism above outlined has received various modifications by theologians of the Calvinistic school. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, May 1903, adopted the following: “We believe that all who die in infancy, and all others given by the Father to the Son who are beyond the reach of the outward means of grace, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how He pleases.”
The Arminian View of Election
The Arminian view of election has been in recent years more generally accepted than formerly, even among denominations whose teaching has been Calvinistic or indefinite upon this point. This view grounds itself, in opposition to Calvinism, upon the universality of the atonement and the graciously restored freedom of the human will. Election, accordingly, is not absolute but conditional, contingent upon the proper acceptance of such gifts of grace as God by His Spirit and providence puts within the reach of men.
Inasmuch as this subject involves the character and method of the divine government and the destiny of the entire race, the following should be said:
- According to the Arminian doctrine the purpose of God to redeem mankind was bound up with His purpose to create. The Lamb of God was “slaughtered before the world was founded” (Revelation 13:8). God would not have permitted a race of sinners to come into existence without provision to save them. Such provision must not be for only a part but for the whole of the fallen race. To suppose the contrary is opposed to the divine perfections. To doom to eternal death any number of mankind who were born in sin and without sufficient remedy would be injustice.
- The benefits of the atonement are universal and in part unconditional. They are unconditional with respect to those who, through no fault of their own, are in such a mental or moral condition as to make it impossible for them either to accept or reject Christ. A leading denomination emphasizes the doctrine that “all children, by virtue of the unconditional benefits of the atonement, are members of the kingdom of God.” This principle extends to others besides children, both in heathen and Christian lands. God alone is competent to judge the extent to which, in varying degrees, human beings are responsible, and therefore the extent to which the unconditional benefits of the atonement may be applied.
- The purpose or decree of God is to save all who do not, actually or implicitly, willfully reject the saving offices of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among those who have not heard the Gospel may exist “the spirit of faith and the purpose of righteousness.” Thus even those who have no knowledge of the historic Christ virtually determine whether or not they will be saved through Christ. They to whom the Gospel is preached have higher advantages and more definite responsibilities. To them, repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are the conditions of salvation.
- Upon all men, God bestows some measure of His grace, restoring to the depraved will sufficient freedom to enable them to accept Christ and be saved. Thus, in opposition to Calvinists, Arminians assert that not only Adam, but also his depraved descendants are in a stage of probation.
In behalf of this doctrine the following is argued:
- That the whole trend of the Scriptures is to declare the responsibility of men and their actual power to choose between life and death.
- That the Scriptures explicitly teach that it is the will of God that all men should be saved. Only those perish who wickedly resist His will (1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10; John 5:40; Acts 7:51).
- That the Scriptures declare the universality of Christ’s atonement, and in some degree the universality of its benefits (Hebrews 2:9; John 1:29; John 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:18-19; and many other passages).
- That the doctrine of unconditional election necessarily implies that of unconditional reprobation; and that is to charge God with cruelty.
- That unconditional election also necessarily implies the determinate number of the elect, a point that Calvinists hold, though they admit that they have for it no explicit teaching of Scripture. To the contrary, the Scriptures not only generally but particularly teach that the number of the elect can be increased or diminished. This is the purport of all those passages in which sinners are exhorted to repent, or Believers warned against becoming apostate, or to “make certain about His calling and choosing you” (Matthew 24:4, 13; 2 Peter 1:10).
- That the Scriptures never speak of impenitent and unbelieving men as elect, as in some cases it would be proper to do if election were antecedent to repentance and faith and not conditioned thereby.
- That the whole theory of unconditional election is of the same tendency with fatalism.
- That the logic of unconditional election is opposed to true evangelism.
- That the essential features of the Arminian doctrine of election belong to the primitive and truly historic doctrine of the church. Augustine was the first prominent teacher of unconditional election, and he, regardless of the logical inconsistency, granted that reprobation is not unconditional. This doctrine of Augustine was first formally accepted by the church in a.d. 529, in the Canons of the Council of Orange, approved by Pope Boniface II. The prominence of unconditional election in the theory of Protestantism is due largely to the influence and work of John Calvin, who not only set forth the Augustinian doctrine of unconditional election, but also taught unconditional reprobation. John Wesley and his followers were responsible in a large degree for reviving and developing the doctrine of Arminius.
The limits of this post do not permit an examination of the contested passages of Scripture. But as we used to say in our retreats: “The best is yet to come.” In my next post, I want to tackle the issue of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach. Once those issues are fully addressed, I will move on to the contested passages before wrapping-up this series with my own personal position.
 New Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger provide all three views of Election.
Arminian Theology ~ Part 4
In my last post, we continued to drill down into Arminian Theology. In this post, we will conclude our presentation of Arminian Theology. As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.
Terms of Salvation
Human responsibility in salvation involves knowledge of sin, turning from sin, turning toward God, and faith in Christ. Repentance has the idea of change. To repent means that sin must be forsaken; change has taken place. Repentance, therefore, involves action; moreover, repentance, comes before faith.
John Wesley (an Arminian) defined saving faith in three terms: (1) to put one’s trust in the mercy and forgiveness of God; (2) to receive assurance in the Believer’s life for instance, that Jesus is the Son of God; (3) to express reliance upon Christ, turning one’s life over to Christ as Lord. For Wesley, belief is ultimately expressed in obedience. This is in agreement with Arminians today who also emphasize the importance of works as a condition or result of salvation.
Meaning of the Atonement
Arminians generally hold to the governmental view of the death of Christ, which, as taught by Grotius, teaches that Christ did not die a substitutionary death for sinners. Christ suffered to satisfy the justice or government of God. Instead of dying for mankind, Christ made a “token payment” that satisfied the government of God. God therefore sets aside the requirement of the law and forgives sinners on the basis that His government has been upheld and honored.
Extent of the Atonement
Arminians teach that the atonement of Christ was universal. “This does not mean that all mankind will be unconditionally saved, but that the sacrificial offering of Christ so far satisfied the claims of the divine law as to make salvation a possibility for all.” The provision of Christ in His atonement is for everyone; it is sufficient for everyone to be saved (although not all are). The Scriptures emphasize universal provision (John 3:16-17; Romans 5:8, 18; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10; Hebrews 2:9; 10:29; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:2; 4:14). Since Christ made provision for all, the proclamation of the Gospel is to all (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47).
Arminians also teach that the benefit of the atonement includes the following:
(1) The continued existence of the race. It is hardly conceivable that the race would have been allowed to multiply in its sin and depravity, had no provision been made for its salvation.
(2) The restoration of all men to a state of solvability. The atonement provided for all men unconditionally, the free gift of grace. This included the restoration of the Holy Spirit to the race as the Spirit of enlightenment, striving and conviction. Thus man is not only given the capacity for a proper probation, but is granted the gracious aid of the Holy Spirit.
(3) The salvation of those who die in infancy. We must regard the atonement as accomplishing the actual salvation of those who die in infancy.
Salvation May Be Lost
Arminians have adhered to the doctrine that believers can lose their salvation. Although Arminius himself did not clearly state that Believers could be lost, his conclusions pointed in that direction. Arminius taught that man is saved by grace but not apart from his free will. The will remains free. Arminius emphasized that the free will had to concur in perseverance, otherwise the Believer could be lost.
John Wesley also taught that the believer may “make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, that he may fall, not only foully, but finally, so as to perish forever.” The basis for losing one’s salvation is found in passages like Luke 13:14; Colossians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 6:4-6; and 1 Peter 1:10.
Summary Evaluation of Arminian Theology
Arminianism stresses a number of important features. The emphasis on man’s responsibility is surely a Biblical factor: man must believe to be saved (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). If man refuses to believe, he is lost (John 5:40; 7:17). Arminianism’s emphasis on the universality of the atonement is also biblical (1 Timothy 4:10; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:2).
Several features within Arminianism should be evaluated:
(1) Arminianism denies the imputation of sin; no one is condemned eternally because of original sin. Man is condemned because of his own sins. This appears at variance with Romans 5:12-21.
(2) Though variously interpreted, Arminians generally teach that the effects of the Fall were erased through prevenient grace bestowed on all men, enabling individuals to cooperate with God in salvation. There is, however, no clear indication of this kind of prevenient grace in Scripture.
(3) Arminians teach that the Fall did not destroy man’s free will; furthermore, they teach that prevenient grace moves upon the heart of the unbeliever, enabling him to cooperate with God in salvation by an act of the will. While it is true that man must bear responsibility in responding to the gospel (John 5:40), man’s will has been affected because of the Fall (Romans 3:11-12; Ephesians 2:1); man needs God’s grace in order to be saved (Ephesians 2:8; Acts 13:48; 16:14).
(4) Arminians relate predestination to God’s foreknowledge of man’s actions. They stress that God knew beforehand who would believe, and He elected those. In Arminianism, election and predestination are conditioned by faith. The word foreknowledge (Gk. prognosis), however, is basically equivalent to election (cf. Romans 11:2; 1 Peter 1:20). The data of God’s foreknowledge originates in advanced planning, not in advanced information.
(5) Arminianism stresses human participation and responsibility in salvation: recognition of sin, turning from sin, repentance, confession, and faith. For Arminianism, repentance involves change of actions, forsaking sins, whereas the biblical word repentance (Gk. metanoia) means “change of mind.” Although the stress on human responsibilities is significant, if it involves multiple conditions for salvation, this stress becomes a serious matter because the purity of salvation-by-grace-alone is then at stake. The sole condition of salvation stressed in scores of Scriptures is faith in Christ (John 3:16, 36; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9).
(6) Arminianism teaches that Believers may lose their salvation because the human will remains free and so may rescind its earlier faith in Christ by choosing sin. Frequently this view is based on controversial passages like Hebrews 6:4-6 and 2 Peter 2:20-22. The clear emphasis of Scripture, however, is that the Believer has eternal life as a present possession (John 3:16; 1 John 5:11-13) and is kept secure by Christ (John 10:28) because of what He has done (Romans 5:1; 8:1).
In my next post, I want to go back to the topic of Election which we briefly defined in Eternal Security ~ Part 2 as it applies to the Calvinistic and Arminian Theology.
Arminian Theology ~ Part 3
In my last post, we took a brief look at Arminian Theology. In this post, we continue to explore Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology and The Remonstrance. As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.
Arminians teach the doctrine of original sin; it affects the entire being of man; man is destitute of all positive good, and apart from God’s grace, man commits evil continually. Through Adam’s sin, sin and death entered the world. The penalty of death came upon all mankind because of a state of the human heart (not imputation). In addition, all people inherited a corrupted human nature as offsprings of Adam. This is not to suggest a legal imputation of sin, however. The Apology of the Remonstrants declares, “There is no ground for the assertion that the sin of Adam was imputed to his posterity in the sense that God actually judged the posterity of Adam to be guilty of and chargeable with the same sin and crime that Adam had committed.”
ARMINIAN DOCTRINE (THE REMONSTRANCE)
|Election Based on Knowledge||God elected those whom He knew would of their own free will believe in Christ and persevere in the faith.|
|Unlimited Atonement||In His atonement, Christ provided redemption for all mankind, making all mankind saveable. Christ’s atonement becomes effective only in those who believe.|
|Natural Inability||Man cannot save himself; the Holy Spirit must affect the new birth.|
|Prevenient Grace||Preparatory work of the Holy Spirit enables the Believer to respond to the Gospel and cooperate with God in salvation.|
|Conditional Perseverance||Believers have been empowered to live a victorious life, but they are capable of turning from grace and losing their salvation.|
While Arminianism recognizes original sin and depravity, it also teaches that the effects of original sin are erased and reversed in everyone through the grace of God, enabling the sinner to respond actively to God, or cooperate with God in salvation. No one is condemned because of imputed sin from Adam or because of a depraved nature, but only because of individual sins.
Election and Predestination
Arminius related the doctrine of predestination (God appointing certain people to salvation) to the foreknowledge of God (emphasis added). God knew who would choose Him and those are the ones God predestined. He also related his doctrine of predestination to those whom God knew would not only believe but also persevere. Concerning the election of individuals Arminius states “(the) decree rests upon the foreknowledge of God, by which He has known from eternity which persons should believe according to such an administration of the means serving to repentance and faith through His preceding grace and which should persevere through subsequent grace, and also who should not believe and persevere.”
Arminianism includes all mankind in its definition of predestination, which may be defined as “the gracious purpose of God to save mankind from utter ruin. It is not an arbitrary, indiscriminate act of God intended to secure the salvation of so many and no more. It includes provisionally, all men in its scope, and is conditioned solely on faith in Jesus Christ.”
Arminians have always regarded election to eternal life as conditional upon faith in Christ. It is not an arbitrary choice of God; instead it is based on man’s faith response to the gospel.
Prevenient grace is the “preparing” grace of God that is dispensed to all, enabling a person to respond to the invitation of the Gospel. Prevenient grace may be defined as “that grace which ‘goes before’ or prepares the soul for entrance into the initial state of salvation. It is the preparatory grace of the Holy Spirit exercised toward man helpless in sin. As it respects the guilty, it may be considered mercy; as it respects the impotent, it is enabling power. It may be defined, therefore, as that manifestation of the divine influence which precedes the full regenerate life.”
This leads to a belief in synergism, “working together” or a “cooperative action” between man and God with regard to salvation. Because God dispenses prevenient grace, the effects of Adam’s sin are reversed, enabling the person to respond in faith to the Gospel. Man may accept or reject the Gospel and the grace of God of his own free will. “Through this awakening from original sin, one becomes open to the grace freely offered in Jesus Christ. Restoration to close and uncorrupted relationship with God is there by made possible.”
The Arminian system of grace may be summarized as follows; “(1) the inability of man as totally depraved; (2) the state of nature as in some sense state of grace through the unconditional benefit of the atonement; (3) the continuity of grace as excluding the Calvinistic distinction between common and efficacious grace; (4) synergism, or the co-operation of grace and free will; and (5) the power of man to finally resist the grace of God freely bestowed upon him.”
It becomes apparent that there is a relationship between prevenient grace and free will. Wiley cites four propositions in relating prevenient grace to freedom of the will.
(1) Prevenient grace is exercised upon the natural man, or man in his condition subsequent to the fall. This grace is exercised upon his entire being, and not upon any particular element or power of his being.
(2) Prevenient grace has to do with man as a free and responsible agent. The fall did not efface the natural image of God in man, nor destroy any of the powers of his being. It did not destroy the power of thought which belongs to the intellect, nor the power of affection which pertains to the feelings. So, also, it did not destroy the power of volition which belongs to the will.
(3) Prevenient grace has to do further, with the person as enslaved by sin…This slavery is not absolute, for the soul is conscious of its bondage and rebels against it…Thus grace is needed…to awaken the soul to the truth…and to move upon the affections by enlisting the heart upon the side of truth.
(4) The continuous co-operation of the human will with the originating grace of the Spirit, merges prevenient grace directly into saving grace…Arminianism maintains that through the prevenient grace of the Spirit, unconditionally bestowed upon all men, the power and responsibility of free agency exist from the first dawn of the moral life.
In summation, Arminianism teaches that the fall of man did not destroy the power of the choice. Prevenient grace thus moves the person to see his spiritual need, enabling him to choose salvation. But grace, Wiley emphasizes, is prominent in the transaction.
In my next post, we will continue to drill down into Arminian Theology.