[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Monday, March 06, 2006

Counselling Nightmare Due to the P of TULIP

by Antonio da Rosa

So I don't understand: if someone says that he is believing in Christ alone for eternal life, and not on anything else, and you have no cause to doubt him, but his works do not meet up to your "fruit inspection", how do you counsel him?

Believe harder?
or
Work harder?

What a counselling nightmare it becomes when we judge other people's salvation based upon our perception of fruit bearing in their life!

If you tell him to believe harder, and yet he is saved because he believed already, you will cause serious doubt to fall upon him! "Didn't I already believe? That wasn't enough?"

If you tell him to work harder, he will come to the conclusion that it is up to him to work harder to get final salvation, when he already was told that it was by grace through faith apart from works (Eph 2:8, 9). So therefore you tell him he needs to work for his salvation (works-salvation).

If they profess to trust in Christ alone for eternal life apart from any other thing, and we have no reason to doubt what they say is true, the thing they need is discipleship! Not for one to tell them that they aren't saved because they aren't working hard enough!

They need to be told that they are in a new relationship with God, that of God being their father, and they being His son or daughter. They are now in His family. And now that they are in His family they have responsibilities, like all of our sons and daughters do. If they choose not to follow the responsibilities, we tell them, that like any good father, God will chasten them, correct them, and incur God's temporal child-discipline. They will not go to hell or be thrown out of the family, but God will deal with them as a father does his erring son. If they continue, let them know that God's hand will be mighty upon them, and they may incur premature physical death and a very poor assesment at the judgement seat of Christ (the bema) and will incur great loss of rewards, glories, honors, and position in Christ's kingdom.

Telling such a person that they have yet to believe, or that they need to believe harder is to confuse and mystify the exercise of simple faith. A person knows whether they believe something or not!

Telling them they have to work harder is to point them into the direction of works-salvation, that heaven would be ultimately conditioned on their faithful obedience.

Antonio da Rosa
Lakeside, CA

61 Comments:

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Dorothy, at Monday, March 06, 2006 5:13:00 PM  

  • It's the Holy Spirit's job to convict them of their sins. If they are not listening to him then all they are doing is pushing God away. It is up to him to decide at that point what to do, I agree with you there! The church shouldn't do anything untill they have waited for Jesus to deal with the issue. He is in control!

    By Blogger Dorothy, at Monday, March 06, 2006 5:14:00 PM  

  • Hi Dorothy :)

    (wave)

    Hi Antonio:)

    Great post, great thinking. I've wondered this too. I'm sure this has occured to many.

    Why don't the Epistle writers follow up their warnings to Professed Christians with evangelism?

    Thanks bro :) :)

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Monday, March 06, 2006 5:43:00 PM  

  • Hey Antonio,

    Glad to see you posting again. Your article definitely highlights an unwanted consequence of the Calvinist agenda (Arminian too).

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Monday, March 06, 2006 5:52:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio! Good to see a post from you, brother! I see your point with clarity. There are several things that I scratch my head over as to the Calvinist message ... and what they say to people in different situations.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, March 06, 2006 6:11:00 PM  

  • Antonio, this reminds me of the dark ages when the word of God was locked up in the language of Latin. Only 'God's priests' could tell the people what to do to merit salvation. Heaven forbid the Bible would be in the plain language of the people, they might find out the truth and put those papal fiends out of work.

    Today we have the same scenario in "churchianity". The 'theologically elite intellectuals'who must give us lengthy and detailed instructions on how to gain eternal life. Once again, we have fallen into the trap of a man dominated religion.

    Keep speaking the truth in love brother.

    Jim

    By Blogger Jim, at Monday, March 06, 2006 6:45:00 PM  

  • (.......but his works do not meet up to your "fruit inspection", how do you counsel him?)

    You don't because that would be legalism. The gospel is about grace not fruit inspections.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Monday, March 06, 2006 7:33:00 PM  

  • Jazzycat how do you define grace relative to salvation?

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Monday, March 06, 2006 7:42:00 PM  

  • I think Eph. 2:8-10 sums it up very well. Grace is from god alone with no human input. Faith alone is also a gift of God and not by works. The position that free will and agency must choose God with anything other than 100% of God's grace is adding works to the mix. verses 8 and 9 credits faith to be a gift and goes on to say, if it is not a gift then man can boast.... "Lord I thank you for your grace and my using my free will to respond." That is the boasting I think this passage is referring to.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Monday, March 06, 2006 8:00:00 PM  

  • Jazzy,

    In light of John 6:29 which reads,

    "Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'"

    It seems Jesus places a condition here on meriting eternal life, He says, 2nd person plural, you believe. Where is there room for boasting in this? Notice the context, the people wanted to "work the works of God" in order to merit everlasting life. Jesus exhorts them, by juxtaposing their concept of works with simple fiduciary belief in who Jesus is. Jesus doesn't see their belief as a work to boast in--why do you, Jazzy?

    BTW you really didn't provide a definition of grace, you just gave an illustration.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Monday, March 06, 2006 8:37:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Doug E., at Monday, March 06, 2006 8:48:00 PM  

  • Hey Antonio,

    I’m going to argue that you also base your counseling on fruit inspection. How do you know if someone is a Christian? Would not their testimony of the fact that they believe, be fruit? Fruit is more that big deeds, it is also seen in the attitudes of their heart and their confessions.

    It seems to me that there would be a more difficult counseling nightmare that would arise in not looking at any fruit. If someone would come to you and say yeah I’m a Christian, I believe in Christ sacrifice for me, that why I mock him, and do all manner of blasphemies against him. How would you counsel him? Would you believe him just because he says he believes? Or would you use discernment?

    To accept everyone simply because they say they believe would not be wise.

    In fact you said,

    “So I don't understand: if someone says that he is believing in Christ alone for eternal life, and not on anything else, and you have no cause to doubt him, but his works do not meet up to your "fruit inspection", how do you counsel him?”

    This statement is a bit confusing. If someone came up to us and said they believe in Christ alone for eternal life and “I have no cause to doubt him,” How would I not have cause to doubt him without some “fruit inspection?”

    This statement seems to argue against your very point. If I have no cause to doubt him then how would I make that judgment without inspecting the fruit. You too, when counseling, do the same thing.

    Now, if I had no cause to doubt him, I would neither tell him to believe harder (question his faith) nor tell him to work harder. If there were areas of sin in his life we could talk about that, but not as if correcting those sins are what will get him eternal life.

    God Bless,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Monday, March 06, 2006 9:42:00 PM  

  • Wouldn't it be cruel not to inspect the fruit of the ones you love?

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Monday, March 06, 2006 9:43:00 PM  

  • H.K.,

    Yes it would be very cruel!

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Monday, March 06, 2006 9:46:00 PM  

  • Bobby,
    Giving a little more context to your verse:
    Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
    28Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
    29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

    Taking this in context by starting in verse 26, you see in verse 27 where Jesus says not to work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life. He then says he will give it to you. He goes on to say that, “On him God the Father has placed the seal of approval.” Jesus says you don’t have to work because he will give it to you. This means the gift of eternal life is given to you and part of the gift is the faith to believe which is what Eph. 2:8-9 says. Jesus does not see faith as a work to boast because as a gift it is not a work to boast in. However, if faith (belief) comes other than 100% from God, then it can be boasted in and that is what Eph. 2:8-9 verifies.

    I think it is helpful to remember that God uses his Word, preaching, etc. to give the external call to sinners. There are many passages such as above and John 3:16 that give the external call, but do not speak to ability. Since we do not know who the Holy Spirit will quicken and give the internal call, we should give the offer of salvation to all that will listen. This is what Jesus did in the above passage.

    I think grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor that he gives sinners. One other point…. The “P” in this post is about God’s work and his grace not about fruit judging by sinners.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:04:00 PM  

  • Actually Jazzy, you failed to recognize that Jesus by way of contrast, as I pointed out earlier, does communicate how they were to "appropriate" the "food that does not spoil"; believe. What is the Johannine understanding of belief, not the Pauline, in this particular context?

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:14:00 PM  

  • Great post, Antonio. Good to see you posting again.

    With regard to counselling, their is the issue of Church discipline.

    While we need not necessarilly question the salvation of a Christian involved in serious wrongdoing, it would be wrogn to have fellowship woth that person. There is a clear duty of separation from evil in the New Testament.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 1:23:00 AM  

  • Antonio,

    You say: "Telling such a person that they have yet to believe, or that they need to believe harder is to confuse and mystify the exercise of simple faith. A person knows whether they believe something or not!

    Telling them they have to work harder is to point them into the direction of works-salvation, that heaven would be ultimately conditioned on their faithful obedience."

    My brother, I have sat through some very intense counseling experiences dealing with deep sin issues with Calvinist pastors. I have never once experienced anything even remotely simular to what you describe above. Never. To me what you have set up here is a mischaracterization of what would be the experience of one going to receive counseling from a calvinist pastor. Take it from one who knows personally, it ain't like you say.

    In those sessions the word of God was opened and I was discipled. The word was used to instruct me in righteousness, and to correct me. I was prayed with and then there was follow-up. I never once was told to "work harder" or "believe harder". I think Jay Adams would have been happy to observe those sessions. It is not at all how you describe it. Take it from one who knows, who has been there and done that.

    Mark Pierson

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 4:59:00 AM  

  • Mark, personally I have witnessed what Antonio is describing. I have a Calvinist friend who's strategy in counselling an inconsistent Christian is to point out all of his sins and to get him to doubt his salvation.

    This is certainly the logical application of Calvinist treatments of warning passages, which are viewed as having primary reference to false professors.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 5:03:00 AM  

  • I run into this issue from time to time. I'm in charge of the counseling department (among other things) in a grace church of approx. 2200 people.

    Our strategy has been to take them to John 1:12, 3:16, 5:24 and 6:47 and review the terms of assurance with them. Part of the scheme here is to use CBT to get them to think differently about how they view assurance. Then we have them pray over and journal on these verses during the week.

    It seems to do the trick. It then opens the door to deal with sanctification issues.

    By Anonymous Bud Brown, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 6:04:00 AM  

  • Bud, thanks for your thoughts and thanks for visiting.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 6:24:00 AM  

  • Bobby,
    Did the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus use his free will to believe on his own?

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 6:48:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I will stand by my own experiences. I have not seen what is described here. I do not like it whaen somebody seems to have an ax to grind against some system that they feel that they should misrepresent it in order to get their point accross.

    Another question that this post generates: Is there data out there that suggests that Calvinist pastors have any less success than their non-calvinist counterparts in leading Christ's sheep down the path of sanctification and discipleship?

    Again, I felt nothing but love and concern from that counselling pastor. I must stand up and say this post does not present Calvinist counseling in a true light. People will believe about Calvinism what they want to believe. I do not delude myself by thinking that these comments of mine will change minds. If people want to go on believing what was portrayed in this post, they will do so. I can't change that. I just wanted to be able to stand up as a witness and say the things contained in this post do not match up with my experiences. If I am standing outside on a bright shinny day and someone comes along and says that it is dark outside, well, I guess that I would have to disagree.

    There are strong feelings on both sides of the calvinist divide. Who is to say that one day we won't be sharing a jail-cell together; or standing shoulder to shoulder in front of a firing squad?! It can happen you know. Why not learn to stand shoulder to shoulder adoring the Savior?

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 6:59:00 AM  

  • Doug,

    Thanks for your clear answers :)

    Warmly,

    Jodie

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 7:23:00 AM  

  • Hi Mark!
    I hear ya. You know, I was thinking in the last 30 minutes about your earlier entry. I am aware of a counseling situation where the husband had a pornography issue. The calvinist pastor asked the wife many questions about the husband that led her and her husband to believe he was questioning the husband's salvation. The pastor did seem to accept her assurance that the husband was a vibrant believer by the time he left. This couple was left scratching their head a bit, because the husband had been a Christian for about 25 years. After this, they wondered what the pastor left with. Did he believe that the husband was unsaved? The pastor has since made it clear that he does believe the husband to be a brother.

    I think these things are very difficult to deal with.

    It sounds to me like your counseling experience was awesome. That is just how these things should be handled. I don't believe that all Calvinist pastors would approach things the same way, just like not all Baptist pastors would approach this the same or all Free Gracers etc...

    I want to say this, which I have said before somewhere. (I say this with the utmost respect:) I don't believe that all self proclaimed TULIP subscribers are really totally committed to the doctrine. When it gets down to the nitty gritty, most of us really do say within our spirit that we don't know how this all works in terms of eternal perspectives ... and we just take things at their simple face value. If a person says they believed in the work of Christ on their behalf, but now they struggle with life as a Christian and might be "hanging it up" I believe there are very few that are so committed to "P" that they would insist to that person, "You never were really saved to begin with" no matter what the person says about his own conversion.

    This teaching is alll very academic at times, I believe. Your counseling experience is a perfect example of this fact. Your counselor just helped you with Biblical guidance. He doesn't seem to have gotten out Calvin's Institutes or John MacArthur's books to do it. Am I wrong?

    I am not so sure that some have worked out all the implications of TULIP. That is all that is trying to be done here by Antonio, I believe. It is just logical.

    I stand shoulder to shoulder with you, brother. (Your shoulders are a little larger than mine!)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 7:26:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    Is this to say that Antonio and the other non-Calvinists here have worked out the implications of TULIP while the calvinists have not? Hmmmmm!

    Just like a person of the "Free Grace" position takes the Bible in it's entirety and carefully works to be sure that it is interpreted and understood correctly, so it is with the Calvinist. We just see things through a different lens.

    A Calvinist, just like his non-cal. brother, believes that he derives his belief system after carefull consideration of the entire Bible, not from reading the "Institutes". It is not the "TULIP first and then what the rest of the Bible has to say" mentality that you seem to imply is the Calvinist approach.

    It is safe to say that EVERY PERSON on this thread is an adherent of some construct or another. We all stand on someone else's shoulders to some degree, whether it be Ryrie or Chaffer or Darby or Hodges or, in my case Spurgeon. None of us can claim revelation in a vacuum. We are not prophets or the Apostle Paul.

    As I see things through my particular lens of Calv. I consider that, like you, sanctification is a cooperative effort. That is why chapters like Romans 12-14 and 1Cor. 12-14 and Eph.4 exist. The body of Christ is to edify one another. Gal.6 even tells us to bear one another's burdens. James tells us to confess our faults one to another. Col. 3:16 tells us to teach and admonish one another. Those of us with teaching gifts should labor to accurately present the Bible to the sheep so that they see Christ clearly and are subseqently transformed into His image..2Cor.3:18.

    Isn't it interesting that when Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb that He also commanded that his grave clothes be removed. As Christians we have been called out of the grave by Jesus Himself. Now it is up to the brothers and sisters to help remove the grave clothes from one another. We are to love one another. That is THE sign to the world that we belong to Christ

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 9:20:00 AM  

  • H.K.

    No problem, But just so my point is clear. Agreeing on fruit inspection in the way we are discussing it, argues against Antonio's point.

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 9:22:00 AM  

  • Rose,

    You know I love ya, and your reasoning is usually great, but I'm going to have to disagree with your assessment of TULIP leading to bad counseling.

    First of all, in the situation you described maybe the pastor did see a good reason that this man was not a believer that you don’t know about, or perhaps He maybe he didn't use a Biblical rule to judge the man's faith. But this can happen in both camps.

    If fact, free gracers also question peoples faith (and rightfully so).

    Here is a statement Antonio made the other day on his blog...

    "The ramifications of Lordship Salvation is that it is a false gospel and people who believe false gospels do not believe the truth, do not believe the saving message of Christ."

    Is he trying to get me to doubt my salvation? Tying to make me think that my belief is not good enough?

    Of course he is, and good for him because if he is right, then I am in bad shape.

    Questioning people's faith is not a product of TULIP. It is a product of believing the Word of God. Now if some misconstrue that questioning and base their judgment that the person is not a Christian by not fully understanding the situation, as I believe Antonio does in his statement or a pastors bad judgement, this is no fault of TULIP. It’s the fault of fallen men making bad judgments.

    God Bless,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 9:51:00 AM  

  • Jazzycat asked me:

    "Bobby,

    Did the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus use his free will to believe on his own?"


    Not in the neutral/Pelagian way your question assumes or implies. I hold to the concept of original sin (Rom.); and thus the idea that indeed man will never seek after God, given his bondage to love of self. Surely man has free-will, but as Augustine and later Luther point out given the sin nature man will only choose things that benefit himself (given his concupiscence). I believe God must penetrate this vicious circle of self love (all self love is the positive articulation of sin contra its negative understanding "privatio"/privation of righteousness. Augustine saw the need to communicate it this way post-Pelagian debates). The way He penetrates this of course is through His Word (Rom 10); and the Holy Spirit overwhelming self love with God's love (Rom 5)--thus giving man the opportunity to respond to God in love (I Jn 4:19).

    Since I'm semi-Augustinian, along with the Council of Ephesus and the second Council of Orange--like I said above I accept the concept of original sin, just not the supralapsarian decretism of Augustine's perspective.

    How would this apply to Paul, on the Damascus road? God unilaterally moved upon the heart of Paul, in the manner described above, and Paul responded in reciprocating love back to God, i.e. salvation occured.

    BTW, I don't believe, as many Calvinists do, that Paul's Damascus road experience provides a normative grid for understanding an "ordo salutis" (order of salvation). It only illustrates one way or another. Same for Lazuras resurrection. If the intention of the author of those texts was to provide such a soteriological framework, that would be one thing--but contextually it wasn't their intention. Lazuras' resurrection foreshadowed Christ's resurrection--and Paul's Damascus road experience descriptively show's narratively how God was establishing His church through the work of the Spirit--to the Jews first, then the Gentiles. I would be careful of using passages like these for your own theological purposes, and not for the purposes originally intended.

    Bobby

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 10:35:00 AM  

  • Doug,
    No, I didn't know you loved me, but I am happy to hear it. I need all the love I can get in the blogosphere. I am needy that way. :~)

    What you say about the questioning of faith should be based on what message the person is believing, not whether or not they believe as they say they do. There is a difference in challenging a person's doctrine and challenging a person who says he believes, challenging his faith in whatever it is he has faith in, because his actions don't pass a test. Face value ... that is what I think we need to take people at.

    You're right, we fallen men make a lot of bad judgements.

    I do think you may be missing the point, though. The point is, if consistent bahavior is the necessary proof of saving faith, then a counseling situation could wrongly become evangelizing. That is, if these things are carried out to their extreme ends. Like I said, though, I don't think most of the Calvinists I know do this! You are all much more reasonable than that, I believe. :~)
    We love you too. (that is me and the mouse in my pocket)

    Bluecollar,
    It is just called taking things to the logical ends. Like with Unconditional Election - the logical ends being "why do we need to preach the gospel at all if the 'elect' will be saved no matter what?" That is another subject, though. Friends! :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 11:01:00 AM  

  • I grew up in the free grace movement and I could share some counseling nightmares, but I will not. Suffice it to say that as Mark said...and forgive me for having not adhered to this...we need to help one another uncover our graveclothes.

    Sometimes I think it would be good if we read the book of Job and then re-read it and then after re-reading it, we made a commitment to reading it every day and then after that hanging each portion of the book around the house and then setting about to memorize it.

    Antonio does have a good point. Each one of us does need to rest in Grace and not place our faith in fruit. Even Spurgeon had to war with Calvinist friends who wished to call him to the catacombs of a performance based religion. I have too as well as have been deceived by it. The Joy of the Lord must be our strength. Having said that...performance based religiosity is alive and kicking among the free grace movement in ways not thought of. Even the AWANA program teaches us to apply to sanctification unbiblical means that lead us to pride and away from knowing God if we do not take stock of it as parents begin to compete against one another and by use of their own children seek to vindicate each other. It can get ugly and stressful as well and it can rob other believers of their joy and make people think that God does not love them unless they perform at a certain level. There are soooo many other areas I could speak on. That is just the tip of the iceberg really.

    Can we look at Job again? He opened up and complained in the bitterness of his Spirit. His friends got mad at him and basically told him, "How dare you speak about God like that!"

    They thought they knew stuff, but in reality they didn't have all the facts. That's the problem, none of us have all the facts in each situation or with each other on this blogisphere and so if we are not Spirit led, we can become like those Children at the marketplace trying to make Jesus mourn, yet demanding that he sing and dance for us at the same time. He spoke this in regards to John the Baptist and the doubts he had while he faced death and yet everybody outside his cell was celebrating and enjoying life with Jesus. We just don't know what one another is going through and so we all speak to soon.

    What was Job rebuked for? Go back and read it...as he tried to vindicate himself he began to teach works salvation. Did he believe in works salvation? Of course not.

    Go back and read it....God basically told him, "Who do you think you are...when you can do the things and understand where I was then I will admit that you can save yourself!"

    Elihu? The need for Elihu is definitely there. In fact perhaps God even placed him there to hold Jobs feet to the fire demanding that he admit he was saved by grace as he spewed so much offense against God's work, yet never cursing him. However Elihu had no clue as to Jobs trials. Elihu walked a tightrope in his speaking.At the Judgement seat of Christ we will give account for all things both good and bad as believers...not sure how this will be meeted out, but the Bible teaches this. Colossians 3:25

    If we were to conclude through Jobs trials, his soteriology we might begin to wonder if he understood it wholly and the fruit of his lips might give us evidence otherwise.

    In our fruit inspection we must understand that it is the Holy Spirit that bears witness of Himself and if we are not Spirit led, the we need by all means stop talking of things we know nothing about in the same way Jobs friends needed to.

    The bottom line? God rebuked Job's friends for not understanding God Himself. They may have gotten some facts straight here and there, but it was Job that spoke rightly of God. Spoke rightly of God. His name must be exalted above all in accordance with His word. That is the only thing that matters as Christ is the focus and the foundation of our fruit.

    I guess we need to ask ourselves in these debates, " How much am I becoming like the disciple who Jesus loved" not even desiring to exonerate or exalt myslef or am I becoming like Diotrephes in 3 John who wouldn't allow anyone in as he loved to be first. Please lets go read about him and meditate on his works. He may have even been right about everything too.

    There is hope though as John at the beginning was a son of thunder and wanted to call down fire like Elijah but did not understand the Spirit of God. Later he calmly satisfied himself at the bosom of Christ. That is the fruit. Abiding in Him.

    I do not consider myself to be a Calvinist anymore as in one sense I got sort of pushed into it being labeled one, but this area of perseverance is tricky as Job was rebuked for glorifying himself in the midst of his trial and so we are left to conclude that only Grace is acceptable to be received in Job's perseverance. Are we all at the same level as Job? Of course not, but just being a child of God makes us a target of Satan and this beautiful gift we received totally free is going to cost us in some form or way later on. It's in the Bible. Did some of the Puritan's and Calvinists get legalistic about it? Of course, but as I told you the critical spirit that exists all to common among many free gracers brings us into a mirror image of that bondage as well. We may not confess it with our lips, but we have an underhand way of making others feel they need to earn our graces and glory. I grew up under it.

    There are many wonderful Calvinists like Mark as well as Terry Rayburn who really are wonderful in understanding Grace. Please lets don't try to stereo type. There are many wonderful free gracers as well. I remember a beautiful man from the Sword of The Lord named Leon Maur. What a joy he was as well as an encouragement. There are other lights in dark places...everywhere. With the Lord's help I am going to try to be one of them in the future.

    Antonio does however make salavation abundantely clear and we all need to stick to the message concerning the gift of God and not confuse it. Some of us may disagree in areas concerning Sanctification, but the door must be opened without restraint and we mustn't attempt to help God out. I do think this is what is happening among *some* in the Lordship movement and I must admit began to happen to me, but please lets not confuse men like Mark and Terry Rayburn among them and let us consider that among the free grace movement some have sent many away weeping in their tactics and performance based logic. Please consider this.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 12:31:00 PM  

  • Rose,

    We seem to be talking past each other a bit. Let me start by saying what I've been saying, that FG's and Calvinist make our assessment on whether a person is really a Christian based on their and actions.

    If you base your judgment of a person's faith on their confession then you are basing it on an action, because a confession is an action.

    You cannot experience a person's faith, only that person really knows if he really believes what he says he does. Your judgment can only be based on their actions. That is one of the reason James said, I will show you my faith by my actions.

    Now on to your argument. Here is where your argument is the strongest. You said,

    "The point is, if consistent behavior is the necessary proof of saving faith, then a counseling situation could wrongly become evangelizing."

    Does perseverance of the saints logically demand judging by consistent behavior?

    And

    Is consistent behavior the necessary proof of saving faith?

    My answer to both is no.

    It would only be “yes” if we were omniscient.

    Let me explain. If we were to see Peter in his denial, we would not automatically assume that he is not a believer because he is not consistent, nor would we assume that his inconsistency is proof that he does not have faith. Faith is not actions as is usually misrepresented, the two are separate. Even Calvin and Luther understood that we were saints and sinners at the same time. They never assumed consistent behavior.

    When a person comes to you and says, "I used to believe but the 'truths of Christianity' are all lies propagated in order to control people." How do you know he ever really believed?

    Are you going to counsel Him by telling him He is a Christian, or are you going to counsel him by evangelizing?

    Is he a Judas, who looked like a believer but never really was, or is he a Peter who is in denial?

    The Calvinist and the free gracer, not being omniscient, must do the same thing. Look at the evidence and make a judgment call and do our best. Maybe evangelization is the correct thing to do.

    Again P in TULIP does not logically demand basing a persons faith on consistent actions.

    God bless,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 12:52:00 PM  

  • Bobby,
    Very good response. I think we are pretty close on this issue although not in complete agreement, if I understand your position correctly.

    Jazzycat

    By Blogger jazzycat, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 1:27:00 PM  

  • Doug,
    I can go along with you the way you have written there.
    You cannot experience a person's faith, only that person really knows if he really believes what he says he does.
    So true!

    The Calvinist and the free gracer, not being omniscient, must do the same thing. Look at the evidence and make a judgment call and do our best. Maybe evangelization is the correct thing to do.
    This is also very well stated ... as long as "looking at the evodence" includes listening to the person's words.

    I really liked your words about Peter and Judas. Good thoughts.
    Maybe you are more reasonable than some of the "P" proponents. ;~)

    Mark,
    I appreciated what you have shared here as well. We as Christians really need eachother and the life is a place where we can show eachother the Lord. Good words, ECW.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 1:31:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I hope you can forgive me as in the past I mischarictarized you in areas. I am glad you are contending for faith alone and salvation being a gift alone with no strings attatched.

    Please understand that you helped me in areas. Grace is all I hope in brother and it is so good that you stress resting in grace.

    I understand it has been hard for you as I have seen some of the scorn you endure on other sites. I used to think you brought it on yourself. While I don't fully agree with everything you do, I do believe that you have received hardship for a blessed message and hope you continue on. will you consider some of the things I have mentioned though in how I guess we all need to work on being always gracious toward one another in this message of grace. Forgive me for having failed you though in this endeavour. I am not really one to talk.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 2:09:00 PM  

  • Rose,

    Thanks for the discussion.

    You said,

    "as long as "looking at the evidence" includes listening to the person's words."

    Yes, it most certainly does include listening to the person's words.

    This has been one of those discussions I start to look back on and say, Now why was I discussing this? :-) I'm sure it's has some value somehow, but my head was starting to hurt. ;-)

    God bless,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 2:40:00 PM  

  • Bdehr, nice to see you again.

    God bless,
    Jim

    BTW, does anyone notice how smart Antonio is? He puts up a post and get 30+ comments without even saying boo. That is one slick blogger.

    By Blogger Jim, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 3:28:00 PM  

  • Jim,

    I hear ya!

    yah, ya gotta love him!

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 3:51:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio,

    This is a thought provoking post. Yes, you've portrayed a dilemma. But I wonder if the true question is not of works or belief, but of bearing fruit? And if so, then the best counsel would pertain, not to initiative, but to rest and relationship.

    Jesus was one with the Father and He acted as He did because of His inner character (Is 59:17). Also, He spoke as He did because He spoke from the abundance of His heart (Ps 40:7-10). In like manner, if we would so cling to Christ that we became more like Him, such things would flow from our lives quite naturally, as we yield to Him.

    In other words, an attitude of works is saying, "I work to have a relationship with God." making man the source. But an attitude of fruit makes God the source: "Because I have a relationship with God, good fruit flows from me naturally, by His Spirit at work in me."

    He is the vine and we are the branches, and we find our strength through abiding in Him.

    "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him."
    (John 6:27)

    By Blogger Cleopas, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 5:26:00 PM  

  • I thank you all for your stimulating comments. I don't have time to personally answer each one of them.

    The problem still remains.

    What will a Calvinist tell someone they do not believe is saved? If this person is not bearing fruit and is in sin, and the Calvinist deems him unsaved, what then? What becomes the counsel of the Calvinist to the counselee?

    Will he tell them to work harder or believe harder, or maybe just tell him to wait to see if God will regenerate him, because once the man is regenerated he won't help but bear fruit up to inspection!

    In any case, is becomes a most unfortunate slippery slope, this fruit inspection for one's own assurance or to determine someone else's salvation.

    So many sermons I have heard from both lay pastors to famous ones warn "you better watch out, you may be unsaved... You need to go back to square one!"

    What tragedy of the most ginormous proportions.

    What counsel to you give a man who professes faith in Christ yet all Calvinist tests and indicators point to a state of unregeneracy?

    "You have yet to really believe the gospel! Your faith is mere spurious faith, for the wrong reasons!"

    or maybe

    "You need to make your calling and election sure by working harder!"

    or even

    "There is nothing really I can do. If you are reprobate, not even my prayers will help. If you are elect, you will at some time come back to repentance."

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 6:28:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    You said,

    "What will a Calvinist tell someone they do not believe is saved? If this person is not bearing fruit and is in sin, and the Calvinist deems him unsaved, what then? What becomes the counsel of the Calvinist to the counselee?

    Will he tell them to work harder or believe harder, or maybe just tell him to wait to see if God will regenerate him, because once the man is regenerated he won't help but bear fruit up to inspection!"

    We would evangelize them. We would not tell them to work harder, or tell them to believe harder.

    If we thought they were not saved we wouldn't tell them to work harder because we don't believe salvation is of works. And we wouldn't tell them to believe harder because if we don't believe they are saved then we don't believe they believe as it is.

    Your argument is based on some strange hypothetical that the Calvinist is telling a truly born-again person that they are not saved.

    This would clearly be wrong in every situation, and if this is taking place then your argument have weight, but since you haven't proved that the Calvinist is wrong in his assesment. Your argument doesn't really prove anything.

    It is only true if your underlying presupostition is true that the Calvinist is calling a saved person unsaved.

    God Bless,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 7:02:00 PM  

  • Doug, I should have included that this man thinks he is saved and believes in Jesus. You failed to answer my following questions:

    What counsel to you give a man who professes faith in Christ yet all Calvinist tests and indicators point to a state of unregeneracy?

    "You have yet to really believe the gospel! Your faith is mere spurious faith, for the wrong reasons!"

    or maybe

    "You need to make your calling and election sure by working harder!"

    or even

    "There is nothing really I can do. If you are reprobate, not even my prayers will help. If you are elect, you will at some time come back to repentance."

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 7:29:00 PM  

  • >"Because I have a relationship with God, good fruit flows from me naturally, by His Spirit at work in me."<

    Wow! Loren this is a most profound truth. This statement alone convinces me that Antonio is right. We can rest in nothing but his grace...not the fact that we are elected or any other biblical truths. We must only look to the cross and Grace alone with our eyes on nothing else or we become anthropocentric. Wow Loren, you were the first to pose this to me months ago and I gave the Cain scenario. Forgive me. You are right! I was wrong.

    Antonio is right as well. WE must look to the cross and we can only do so by resting in His grace.

    I think the hardest thing for man to believe whatever doctrinal position they hold to...it is irrelevent as they themselves can be fig leaves too. The hardest thing for us to believe is that we can believe we are forgiven of all our filth. We can be and we are through the cross.

    Believe it!

    You are forgiven if you believe on the name of the begotten Son of God. Believe.

    WE ARE FORGIVEN by the blood of Christ. Now lets go out and spread some of this grace around Praise God what I received as a little six year old boy IS TRUE. So sorry I deviated from it.

    Remember Job though as well as John the Baptist and their doubts and may we endeavor to love and bear with one another knowing that others may be struggling in ways we do not know.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 8:04:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I would tell him he has yet to believe. Which leaves two options

    1. I'm right, and I need to show him with scripture why I don't believe he is saved.

    or

    2. I'm wrong, in that situation it doesn't matter what I tell him.

    But you have yet to show that my test is wrong.

    God Bless,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 8:09:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    Here is a question for you, do you believe that everyone who says they are a Christian is one?

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 8:19:00 PM  

  • Hi Brian,

    Good to hear from you again! I like the way you look for Jesus when you decide what to believe. He is the truth, so He should always be our starting point.

    Loren

    By Blogger Cleopas, at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 9:50:00 PM  

  • Hey Brian,

    You quoted this...

    >"Because I have a relationship with God, good fruit flows from me naturally, by His Spirit at work in me."<

    You do realize this is the calvinist position also. This does not prove Antonio right. In fact he would argue against it. He could not say good works naturally flow from us becasue we are in a right relationship with Christ. He says, works are what we do on top of our relationship with Christ.

    They don't naturally flow in his theology, that is why He believes a person can have faith(which puts him in a right relationship with Christ) and have no fruit.

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 10:48:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    I was hoping that you would have been able to get back to me tonight, but I understand the time constraints. I've enjoyed having a bit of an easy day were I was able to spend quite a bit of time here, but my free time is up as the next seven days are going to be extremely busy. So I will make this my closing statement.

    In your argument you asked me to assume that someone came up to me and said they were a Christian and that I was to assume that they were not.

    So I did, and I gave you my response. Which would be to evangelize the person.

    So now if you come back with a critique of my response, it is going to be quite strange, because to critique my response would have to assume that I was wrong in my belief that the hypotical person was not a Christian. But that is what you told me to assume.

    If you go back and read my previous comments in this thread with Rose, you should get a better understanding of the criteria I use in making judgement calls on whether or not a person is a Christian even with my belief in Perserverance of the Saints.

    God Bless,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Tuesday, March 07, 2006 11:49:00 PM  

  • I like what Cleopas has said:

    "But an attitude of fruit makes God the source: "Because I have a relationship with God, good fruit flows from me naturally, by His Spirit at work in me."

    Well said!

    I must get back to my normal daily activity. I have spent an unusual (for me) amount of time on one blog yesterday. I wish you all the best. This blog truely does contain the writings of some of blogdom's finest writers and minds. I respect you all. However, since we can not agree on just how deeply the fall effected the human race and what are the real effects of regeneration or just when regeneration takes place then it would seem that all we really are doing is spinning our wheels here. Neither one of us truely understands the other's position. It is almost exactly 5 months since my entrance into blogdom and I have tried to explain my positions for that entire time. After a while you realize that it is time to move on.

    I wish you brothers and sisters the very best! See ya around blogdom!

    Mark Pierson

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 4:26:00 AM  

  • Hi Antoio,
    Good questian.

    I have a brother who always assumes no one is saved even if they say they are, and another who always assumes everyone is saved if they say they trust in Christ alone.

    I gotta go....

    Good post. Good thread. Interesting perspectives.

    brother John

    By Blogger J. Wendell, at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 10:49:00 AM  

  • Hi Doug,

    I appreciate your clarity even though we're in disaggreement:)

    I believe that tons of people are not saved who think they are, and I know Antonio agrees with this. Anyone who has trusted in Jesus Plus has failed to trust Him for eternal life.

    I would say that no matter how wise someone is in trying to counsel a professed believer who has the earmarks of being a unbeliever, that they may not be regenerate, there seems to me to be a problem with doing that.

    In the Scriptures I don't seem to find the Epistle writers A, explicitly saying just that, and B, following up their warnings with a discussion of justification by faith alone like in Ro. 3-5.

    What I think is taught is that flagrent rebellion is an offense, is not normal for the regenerate, and may be or will be heavily rebuked both by God and the church.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 11:37:00 AM  

  • I have never been able to understand how T and P can go together as Calvinistic theology.
    Total depravity teaches that man is wretched and unable to even desire to know God without God opening the sinner's ears o hear and eyes to see, and reveals Himself to the sinner.
    Perseverance of the Saints teaches that only the true elect will continue in good works and their faith to the end. Effectivly people with 'false faith' will not persevere and thus be weeded out.
    This seems a contradiction.
    1. Only the elect can desire to know God and seek Him out (because He has caled them).
    2. Those who seek God but are not of the Elect will fall away.
    For one to turn away from God one must first have been looking towards Him. Only the Elect can even desire to look towards God or have God revealed to them so none will ever fall away.
    This seems like a 'keeping your cake and eating it too' situation.

    By Blogger Modern Day Magi, at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 5:05:00 PM  

  • Take heart Mark,

    Really sometimes I think we all cross hairs in differant points and perhaps you are right...maybe we are spinning our wheels. I see Antonios group arguing for the fruit of lips while others argue the fruit of works and not lipservice...i.e Herod saying, "
    Go and find out where the child is so that I may come and worship him."

    We all know he wanted to kill him. His son would later have the same cleverness and Jesus even called him a fox.

    I think as Loren was mentioning Yeshua is the foundation.;His Spirit bears witness of Himself and I see it in each of us at times yet we all somehow want to think each other is apostate at times.

    I think this is because we confuse the two (fruit via lips or works) as there seems to be a history of ill feelings in the past from all of us and I am hoping to try to look past all that and see Jesus in each of us instead of the flesh...which is something I used to do unfortunately. Love believes all things. I want to be like that now. We are all growing.

    One thought I often have though is that perhaps we confuse bearing fruit with working to attain rewards. I think the two are entirely differant. As Loren said, and I agree, the Holy Spirit in us is fruit in Himself and will bear witness of Himself regardless.

    Rewards? Paul said he beat his body into subjection or else he disqualified himself. Striving for the masteries involves our intent discipline.

    you see we may bear much fruit, but if we do not make ourselves a living sacrifice and get in harmony with the Spirits work then we disqualify ourselves on the day of rewards. We might pile up endless works and bear much fruit, but everything involving intent, motive and discipline will be measured. This means getting out of the comfort zone for the glory of God. These rewards dont come easy. On Judgment day our works will be piled up but the fire may burn most of it to nothing and the loss may be greivous that day, but we can rejoice in that we will be saved by fire.

    We may even labor hard but lack in motive or have false intentions. That will burn away too. It will not be an easy day.

    Remember that Parable of the Vineyard owner? Some of the guys started working in the morning and some in the afternoon, yet some late in the evening, yet all received the same?
    With perhaps one crown a piece;
    Thats going to be most of us on Judgment day saved yet so as by fire. The Apostle Pauls are going to be rare on that day I believe. I think perhaps missionaries will receive most of the rewards, while those of us here at home soaking up life yet bearing fruit here and there will have it all burned away.

    Itslike the Nascar races where somebody wins or places well but later they inspect and although the cars finish the race, they are dropped in standing or fined or get points taken away for the season.

    We can take delight however in knowing and Abiding in Him. Until we learn how to do that, then we will never grow or even place in the standings, but thank God we may get to be doorkeepers in heaven.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 6:45:00 PM  

  • Mark, Brian, Jim and Cleopas,

    My own view is that perseverance theology, no matter how well intentioned and devout, fatally affects the offer of eternal life. I can learn from people who espouse it because I send it through my internal correlation software(!) and am deeply edified. I see how desperately we need to cling to Christ and persevere.

    But I don't agree that it is a minor point that we can put aside because it is disruptive because it is tied to our understanding of the promises Jesus makes in the Gospel of John.

    Does that make sense??

    Jodie

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 9:15:00 PM  

  • Thanks for your kind words, Mark :)

    I'm going to quote you on that:)

    Maybe you should blow off your normal daily acitivity if you want to be that aggreeable.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Wednesday, March 08, 2006 11:02:00 PM  

  • MDM, that is an excellent point which has occurred to me.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, March 09, 2006 12:38:00 AM  

  • Modern Day Magi,
    I agree with Matthew. I really appreciate that contribution. Unlike Matthew, I had never thought of it before ... so ... much thanks! Now I see yet another "paradox" in the tulip that validates my "ill-at-ease" disposition toward this doctrinal system.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Thursday, March 09, 2006 5:58:00 AM  

  • Vedy intedesting MDM!

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Thursday, March 09, 2006 2:01:00 PM  

  • I agree that we all must embrace Grace, but admit that physicaly not all perservere as there is a sin to death, but I believe the Holy Spirit never stops and even when in misery and backed into a corner the soul crys out for God. Consider Samson.

    On a Sanctification note...No one understands this better or directs a proper understanding of it than Chuck Swindoll. Some consider him a weak teacher. Clearly those that do are not listening. It is hard for me to listen to him anyway as well as do. This is why we need grace. I think many a proud Calvinist/Arminian or whatever label embrace would benefit much from his pride shattering messages.

    He definitely gets unders the skin, but always pours grace on at the end. Lutzer is good too.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Thursday, March 09, 2006 5:56:00 PM  

  • Brian, I am glad you agree with me about the 'sin unto death'.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, March 11, 2006 8:11:00 AM  

  • Yes I do Matthew, but with one caveat. I believe the heart of the man is still yearning for God despite his misery and his Idolatry. I really see it as a Solomon kind of thing.

    I also have kicked around the idea that Ahab was saved but that His wife made him miserable. Ahab did try to serve God in some points and God took note of it.

    There did come a point though where God called a demon and asked him to go lie to Ahab through a false prophet so that he would be killed in battle. It is a touchy and vague subject, but I see its witness there throughout scripture.

    I also believe Saul was saved. The scriptures even witness that he was changed and given a new heart, but he was indeed in misery. Dr Lutzer agrees with this position as well.

    By Blogger Bhedr, at Sunday, March 19, 2006 6:11:00 PM  

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