Armininan Scripture ‘proofs’ for unlimited atonement

Reading was John 10:11-18
Affirmation 2010.
Point 3 of the doctrines of grace. 1618 synod which met 154 times. 
Limited atonement is controversial. 
Today we looked at Scripture used by Arminianism 
Verses that could imply that Christ died for the ‘world’ include:
John 6:51
John 3:16 
1John 2:1-2 
The Great Commission actually does include this phrase in that meaning, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel’
But if everyone is saved then it runs against scripture. God is seen to fail in his purpose which is John 3:17. 
John 6:33 give life to the world but not everyone is saved – which some Arminians have been willing to go as far as saying that God’s purposes can be frustrated. 
Is 46:9-10 Ps 33:11 
If Christ died for everyone it makes a non-sense of these verses.
Rom 8:32
Rom 5:7-11
If Christ has died for us, God will surely go on to give us the ‘lesser’ things, causing us to persevere in the faith.
Lots of uses of ‘world’ where it does not mean ‘all’
John 7:1-5, 7
1 John 5:19
John 12:17-19
John 14:18-19
Hardly anywhere does world mean everyone who has lived and will ever live.
Many of these armininian proof texts are in John and it is worth remembering that he was an apostle to the Jews – 
1 John 2:1-2 trying to expand the perspective of the Jews to embrace the Gentiles. 
‘All’ men does not mean saviour of all men, the phrase ‘especially those who believe’ clearly indicates a qualification in ‘all’
John Owen gives 500 instances where all men does not mean all men. 
Matt 10:21-22
Matt 26:31-34
Mark 1:35-37
Christ is said to die for those who fall away!
1 Cor 8:11 Yes ‘fall’, but not fall forever. ‘Perish’ here is like an inner guilt of being removed from God because of fouling our conscience. 
2 Pet 2:1 
Hebrews 10:28-29 the Lord that bought them is God the Father. But this is not referring to the ransom of the cross. This is an opposite to the phrase about being sold into their enemies’ hands. They are blessed by being in the confines of the church but never converted. All acknowledge this is hard to interpret and we would not want to base our doctrine on that kind of verse.
Do these verses address the saved but some are not all saved in the end. But ‘charity of judgement’ is a familiar tactic used to address the whole body of a new testament church, knowing that some were actually not saved amongst them

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Affirmation 2010 Point 3: Unconditional Election

Alex Hutter took the doctrine class on the 15th July. We read Psalm 3 and noted verse 8, which makes it plain that salvation is God’s work.

Salvation belongeth unto the LORD

We continue in our studies guided by Affirmation 2010 which states helpfully what we are and are not to believe. In this way it helpfully differs from classic credal statements (although ‘apologists’ have long since taken their enemies to task, often in unstintingly acrid terms).
We’re looking at section 3. The Doctrines of Grace 
Arminians believe in election – they do not have a choice (irony!) as it’s in the Bible. Luke 18:7, Romans 8:33, 11:7, 1 Thess 1:4, 2 Tim 2:10 chosen , 2 thes 2:14 chosen, , Eph. 2:10 ordained , Jude 4 – ordained to condemnation – i.e. reprobation.  
Anyone with a sense of the bible as authorititative must form a view onelection. Some think 1 Peter 1:2 teaches conditional election.

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

‘We are elected to salvation because of God’s foreknowledge’. But this interpretation stems directly from views of the freedom of the will, the previous point in the famouse TULIP acronym (total depravity). they say God foreknew who would choose him. Nahum 1:7 is also ‘twistable’ for this cause.

The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

But then so is any verse that commands the sinner to repent and believe the gospel. ‘If God offers the gospel he is inconsistent to command us to do so’, it is claimed. But Pink points out that God does not lose the right to command just because we are vile sinners. That would be like not condemning a kleptomaniac of theft because he ‘couldn’t help it’. God’s sovreignty and man’s responsibility are likened by Spurgeon to two rails of a train track which we cannot get to meet. Yet you need them both. Salvation is all of God and all of our obligation – both rails. Hypercalvinism will prevent you from calling sinners to repent, likely leading to negation of assurance.

In Romans 11:2, Paul says: ‘God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.’ But these verses do not tell us that God foreknew who would believe – one would need to insert additional logic to come to that conclusion. This is the opposite to exegesis: my ideas are proved from the text. But the Bible must always speak for itself using scripture to interpret scripture where there is any doubt. Ryle countered Keswick teaching of ‘let go let God’s from the introduction to his book ‘Holiness’.

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 2 Thes 2:13

If God chose us because we would believe, then what difference would it make if he chose me? Why have a concept of election at all? Does not this teach that ‘obedience’ of faith follows election not the other way around. 
Barnes notes on 1 Peter 1:2 are very helpful : (from ‘The passage does not affirm… )
Arminians accuse Calvinists of pride, but which teaching implies pride? that God saw belief in me or that God chose outright?
In John 5: the invalid is in a hopeless condition, but commanded to rise take up his bed and walk. Paul on the road to Damascus did not choose God!


Affirmation 2010 Point 3: Total Depravity

Having sung ‘Amazing Grace’ together, Alex Hutter took our class yesterday, 1st July 2012. Here is a summary of what was said.

The five points of Calvinism, refutes the five points of Jacob Hermon.
1500’s TULIP was devised in opposition to arminian heresy.
The teaching of ‘freedom of the will’ claims we have free will under the umbrella of God’s will. Arminian teaching is that man’s will is not bound by God. Yet we assert that it is bound, by my own sinful nature. Complete free will equates with the ability to choose good as easily as evil. But even God’s will is not free like that! He is holy – He will and can not choose evil.
Total depravity is different to saying man is absolutely depraved.  See Matthew 5:44-46
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
There is certainly the capacity for absolute depravity – we would all say ‘there but for the grace of God go I’, and, with the disciples, ‘Lord is it I? ‘ (cf.  Matt 26:22)
Total depravity means being ‘incapable of doing or desiring anything that is pleasing to God’.
Westminster confession was quoted:
we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good,[8] and wholly inclined to all evil,[9] do proceed all actual transgressions.
We have nothing to offer God. It is always important to remember this teaching was set up in opposition to free-will heresy.
Every aspect of our nature is tainted by sin; not one part of our being is unaffected.
Sanctification is different to morality. 
So cannot the heathen choose that which pleases God? Morality is about me, pride, self, man-centred. Some even use it to mock God – ‘look God, see how I can be moral without God’ – but in such boasting and arrogant blasphemy they just prove the point that their morality is flawed. Holy Isaiah found that all his ‘righteousness is as filthy rags’ (Is 64:6). The pharisee’s motives for good works are partly his own salvation.
Jn 14:15 and 21 show that the only proper motive to good works is love to God not love for the world, self or any other thing.
2 Tim 2:20-21 shows the path to doing that which is pleasing to God.
Isaiah 6:8
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
There is no pleasing God without faith and in my own strength (Heb 11:6). World religions claim there is some hypothetical balancing out of good and bad deeds.  But nothing unclean will enter heaven; just just one sin will bar us from heaven. Romans 8:7 means that, in the flesh, we cannot please God. So man cannot save himself.
Genesis 6:5 ‘Every every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.’
Jeremiah 17:9 ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’
These are powerful verses. Man does not even seek God:  Romans 3:10-11
John 5:40: ‘ye will not come to me that he might have life’
We cannot receive the things of the spirit of God because they are spirituality discerned. People without spiritual life from above, from God are simply not listening. The Pastor sometimes speaks of the way that you can hold a ‘good’ conversation with someone about salvation by grace only for them then to walk off saying that they’ll ‘do their best’.
Sermons seem to just bounce off. This is so different when we are made alive to God.
Actually we love darkness rather than light John 3:19
Also see, Eph 2:4-5 man has nothing good to offer God except our vile heart?! Why give that to God and why would he want or accept it?!
People may well not accept that they’re as bad as that. Yet their perception of God is irrelevant – of course the gulf between what the scripture says and what people think is growing.
We see in the Scriptures that it is clearly God who saves.
Ps 3:8 salvation belongs unto the Lord.
It is his to give to who he pleases. See Romans 9:15-18, John 1:13, Eph 2:8 which answers the wrong thought that I could be saved by faith I generate.
Implications
TULIP tells us that salvation belongs to the LORD. So we ought to be more prayerful. Ask the God who can save. We’re told to pray. Total depravity is in fact an encouragement to evangelism and our own salvation. We are wary of hypercalvinism though. To be involved in this work is such a privilege. In reality, if we actually did nothing towards evangelism, not even prayer, we would prove there was no spiritual life in us. There is no need for an altercall: applying pressure on the will is wrong but also so is it wrong to give no call at all because how can they hear…
John 3 tells us ‘you must be born again’. But in general the gospel is ‘repent and believe’. If a doctor made a cure for your disease but only made it for his daughter – you would still bang on his door to get a shot of it. So sinners must go to God for the cure.
We must also avoid emotional pressure on sinners to make a decision.
Do not expect the world to behave like Christians – getting people to be more moral, as per the ‘social gospel’ will not work.
We should be very thankful for being saved by God as we could not do it ourselves.

Affirmation 2010 The Trinity: Three in One

Alex Hutter led the Doctrine Class on 12 February 2012. The topic was The Trinity.

We have three principles to uphold in thinking about the Trinity.

  1. One God
  2. Three Persons
  3. These Three are co-equal and co-eternal

We believe something called the perspicuity of scripture, meaning that what we read in the bible we can take at face value. Yet we are dealing with topics far beyond our capacity to understand and it is no wonder if we struggle. We have truths, yet we cannot make ‘the ends meet’, yet there are no contradictions. Many have argued that the Trinity can be helpfully explained by analogies: the ‘three legged stool’, the clover leaf, the various roles/titles a person can maintain. Yet these always fall so far short that they are actually misleading and end up in a heretical position, which is always characterised by falling short on at least one of the three principles above. These short-comings are in no way a new phenomenon – the Doctrine of the Trinity has a long history of opposition:

  1. Tri-theism opposes the principle that there is One God
  2. Sabellianism opposes the principle that there are three Persons in the Godhead
  3. Arianism opposes the principle that there are three persons in the Godhead – Jesus is held to be a mere ‘demi-god’.

Affirmation 2010: The Trinity

Alex Hutter took the doctrine class on the subject of the Trinity on Sunday 26th February 2012. This was the second study on this topic. We saw that biblical references to the Lord Jesus Christ varied as to his being: ‘begotten not made’ in respect of his eternity, ‘made flesh’ in respect to his incarnation. We considered phrases which seem to imply at least a subordination of the Son to the Father, ‘My Father is greater than I’ Jonh 14:28, and yet, ‘I and my Father are one’ John 10:30. This is hard for us to reconcile or think about aright. Since none of us has been God and man at the same time. We saw that it was possible to have ‘equals’ and yet for one to be subordinate to the other, as in the relationship between husband and wife. As Jesus said, ‘a servant is not greater than his lord’, yet the two are still human and essentially equal.

But here is someone who not only cares for me, but comes to me, from the glory of heaven itself to save me. He comes not in the form of anything but a human, no more, no less, and vindicates and restores the image of God in mankind.
We spent a while considering the enormity of what we call the incarnation. If we really believed it, we would make more of it. We also grappled with some questions that arise. Some have said that Jesus was not a real man, like the New Testament gnostics. But Jesus bled, he wept, grew weary, hungry, and he ate to satisfy that hunger. He was a man; had taken upon him fallen human nature, yet without sin. And he had existence before the incarnation: visiting Abraham, wrestling with Jacob, which are what we call ‘Christophanies’.
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. John 8:58
We briefly asked the question, ‘was Jesus able not to sin or was he not able to sin?’. This is a classic conundrum faced head on by the Early Church fathers (see this article from the Monergism website on human nature). We are indebted to God for these men who saw clearly amidst the heresy and it’s potentially devastating impact on the future of the church.

Affirmation 1d – The Divine Rule

These notes refer to the Doctrine Class of the 23rd October 2011, Alex Hutter leading. We covered the section of Affirmation 2010 where it says:

The 66 books of the Bible were recognized by the Lord’s people as inspired and, by these books’ own testimony, they became the divine rule by which all beliefs and practices were to be tried and tested.

  1. Our pathway so far:
    1. God speaks to us; we call this revelation
    2. God speaks to us as follows:

i.    General revelation (general to all peoples at all times)

  1. Nature / creation
  2. Conscience

ii.    Special (peculiar to specific groups or individuals at specific times)

  1. Miracles, dreams, voices, prophets etc)
  2. Jesus Christ is the “climax” of revelation “both perfect and complete”
    1. There is nothing revealed about God that is not perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ, or better revealed elsewhere.
    2. God’s revelation to us secured in the bible

i.    It is the infallible Word of God

  1. Despite human authors; they wrote under inspiration of God
  2. Despite having been compiled by the church; they too were guided by God who looks after His Word

ii.    It prevents against Chinese whispers if Word of God were transmitted verbally from person to person

iii.    We can arrive at a great esteem for the scriptures through an intelligent analysis but cannot absolutely prove it; in the end we believe it by faith

  1. The scriptures are “the divine rule by which all beliefs and practices [are] to be tried and tested”
    1. Having received this book, what are we to do with it?

i.    Base our own beliefs on it

  1. Do we have liberty to pick which bits we believe?
  2. Which particular bits are under attack in our day and age?
    1. Genesis; particularly the creation accounts in the first few chapters
    2. Many of the miraculous stories in both old and new testaments

i.    Esp the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ

  1. Also many of the historical facts will often come under fire (e.g. some make a big fuss that they can’t find anything about Jonah in Nineveh’s archaeological data)
  2. Considering the affirmation, by its own statement, does not “cover every tenet of the Faith once delivered to us”, why was it considered necessary to include a statement like this?
    1. Are some apparent bible believers drifting in this area?
    2. What excuses are given by apparent “bible belivers” in respect of Genesis 1 – 3?
    3. NB: This has its own section in the Affirmation!
    4. Are we at liberty to compromise with some of these things in order to remain intellectually respectable?

ii.    Try the beliefs of others by it

  1. What if a much renowned and famous preacher we all respect greatly (think of one) comes one day and preaches that the Son of God has always been God but is not eternally the Son; but became so at the incarnation.
    1. Do you accept it because he said it, so it must be true?
    2. Do you hunt around for what others think?

i.    That can be helpful

ii.    Are we guilty of leaning too much on what others think (creeds and confessions; even the affirmation (!), without searching the scriptures ourselves?

iii.    Is there a weakness in that? What?

  1. In the end, we must go to the bible.
  2. What else are we to do with it?

i.    Try our practises by it!

ii.    Which is harder; to base our beliefs our practises on the bible? Give reasons.

  1. The devil believes! (James 2:19)
  2. We are to be doers, not hearers only (James 1:22). This implies hearing is easy.
  3. Parable of the sower;
    1. Those that fell on stony ground; believed but had no root and withered away in times of persecution
    2. Those that fell on thorny ground; believed, but got choked by the deceitfulness of riches

iii.    We might enjoy a doctrine class and intellectual study, but unless our lives show that there is a true love for God (not just for theology) by obedience to His commands, there is no salvation.

iv.    What prevents us trying our practises by the Word of God?

  1. The practises of others
    1. Both the world and the church!
    2. Just like we might lean too strongly on the creeds and confessions for belief; so also we might lean too strongly on others for practises!

i.    This is how everyone else behaves

ii.    This how others spend their money

iii.    This is what others do

  1. How do we react when our practises are challenged by the practises of others?

i.    Legalism!

  1. Backsliding / coldness of heart (we don’t care what God says)
  2. Lack of familiarity with scripture?
  1. If we are to try all beliefs and practises by the bible, what does this obviously imply?
    1. That we read it!
    2. That we study it, when necessary
    3. That we learn from those who know more about it than we do

i.    Sermons

ii.    Books

iii.    Articles relevant to the times

  1. The bible is said to be a sword

i.    Would you go in to battle having never used a sword?

ii.    Do we think to be well armoured Christians, ready for the fight, without being practised with our swords?


Affirmation 1e – Commending word-for-word translations of Scripture

These notes relate to the doctrine class of Sunday 20th November 2011, Alex Hutter leading.

As we have seen in previous weeks, God speaks to us through general revelation (creation and conscience), and special revelation (specifics about the gospel that come to our hearts directly, dreams, miracles, Scriptures, Christ). Having a text enabled the church to ‘freeze dry’ truth. Speech is ephemeral, text is not. Scripture  also interprets general revelation for us. We get our beliefs and practices from it. We’re to be hearers and doers.

In our studies of the Affirmation 2010, we have arrived at:

God, by His singular care and providence, has preserved His written Word.7 The authentic and preserved Texts are the Hebrew Masoretic and Greek Received Texts, and these are the Texts which underlie the Authorized Version, which is by far the best and most accurate English translation of God’s infallible and inerrant Word currently in use.

We reject modern and unfaithful versions, based upon corrupted texts and making free use of dynamic equivalence in the translation.

In the first place, how can we be sure that we’ve got the word of God? The original manuscripts may have been legitimate, but we’ve only got copies. We cannot compare the copy with the originals. We only have that which is ‘close’ to the word of God. Thus, it is said, we need textual critics who can tell us which is which. But the Bible is the product of a supernatural act of God. It is that which was ‘Once delivered to the saints’ (Jude 1:6). Jesus and the apostles were happy to quote from the scriptures as if they were the originals, even though they didn’t have them. For example,

Luke 4:16-21: ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your hearing’.

No doubt the Lord was reading from a copy. The doctrine of the preservation of scripture is clear in Ps 119:152, Ps 119:160, Is 40:8, Is 59:21, Matt 24:35, 1 Pet 1:24-5. It thus is enduring, not just for as long as we have the original papyrus. God cares for his word – he looks after it. The very idea which undermines a full view of the inspiration of scripture is based on unbelief.

If I am reading a translation, can that still be God’s word? Yes, Jesus and the apostles would quote from the Septuagint. Unless I’m going to be as good as the translators, then I have to question whether I am going to do a better job than them? In general, the Old Testament Masoretic texts are generally accepted as authentic.

A useful text on these matters is ‘The Lord gave the Word’ by Malcolm Watts (available free on the TBS website). The Masoretes were a guild of scribes possibly dating as far back as 70AD. They were very strict in the way they copied the scriptures.

However, the New Testament is far more contested. The ‘Greek Received texts’ get laughed at in spite of being the basis of our Bibles up to and including the King James and New King James versions. Also known as the Byzantine or Majority texts, the oldest copies we have are dating back to 5th century.

The ‘critical text’ – mainly based on 5, or very few texts. Two of them Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Sinaiticus. Two scholars, Westcott and Hort, theorised that the minority texts are the oldest and therefore must be the most reliable. The New International Version is based on this – Mark 16:8 is the last verse of this gospel according to this corrupt text. So, according to the critical text, the rest of Mark 16, with the resurrection and ascension, are not in Mark. Or consider John 8:1-11 which “ought not to be there” says the corrupt text. Perhaps that which appears older, may just not have been used as much. There are other parts missing too. Mr Watts points out that two key underlying texts are evidently less accurate. Luke 22:31 – the KJV uses ‘you’, not because it is archaic, but because it is accurate. English is quite unusual for having dropped a plural/singular distinction. ‘We reject modern and unfaithful versions…’ almost all the modern Bibles except the KJV and the NKJV are based on the wrong texts. Should our Bibles be based on a corrupted text found in a Roman Catholic library or at the foot of Sinai? Another problem with most modern translations is their use of ‘dynamic equivalence’ – it is not a word-for-word but a phrase-for-phrase translation. We have noted before how important a single word in the Old Testament was for Paul: Galatians 3:16 where a ‘seed’, not ‘seeds’, refers to Christ.

The New Living Translation says, ‘He died’, not, ‘he slept with his fathers’, because it does not expect modern man to understand the phrase translated literally. The preface of the NIV is clear enough: because these days the ‘Lord of Hosts’ does not mean much to us, it becomes ‘God Almighty’ – I feel a sense of outrage – you’ve got no right to do that! God commands the hosts of heaven, this is what God says about Himself. Even a human writer would object to his work being mangled in this way! The Bible is God’s word and work. We’ve ‘improved’ the Bible, we’ve got “more than a word-for-word translation” says the NIV preface. If it is dynamic equivalence, is that then the word of God? In a sense, the NIV opened the flood-gates. The Message: in John 3:16 ‘a whole and lasting life’?!

We have got the word of God. We should at least stick to a Bible that uses a word-for-word translation method.