« The Blameless Blasphemer | Main | God Is Always In Control »

Comments

Ben

Amen. Thanks for sharing.

Stuart

The notion that those who are of the elect will always persevere, and those Christians who don't persevere were never regenerated in the first place is problematic.
Rom 8:30 refers to the elect as Paul describes that the elect are predestined, called, justified and glorified. These terms are in the past tense which would appear to indicate that indeed perseverance is assured of for the elect. However, Paul also referred to the Galatians as called/kaleo in Gal 1:6. These Galatian believers, despite being called were deserting Christ to follow another gospel. Paul's bears witness to the fact that these called ones were apostatizing from the faith. If “called” refers to the elect in Rom 8:30, hermeneutical honesty requires us to acknowledge that “called” in Gal 1:6 also refers to the elect. Yet some of those Galatians who were of the elect were still deserting Christ. That also explains why Paul expressed his astonishment that such were falling away as these were called, regenerated believers. If these were never believers in the first place, Paul would have no reason to express his amazement.

Shane Kastler

Hi Stuart -- Thanks for the comment. Your reference to "hermeneutical honesty" is certainly a legitimate concern. However, one of the major rules of proper hermeneutics is to understand various passages in their own context. This is what you failed to do when comparing Romans 8 and Galatians 1. Just like English, Greek has synonyms, where the same word might be used to mean two similar yet different things. The word "kaleo" has a very wide range of meaning and is used in numerous different forms in the New Testament. It would be grave mistake to approach the word with a "wooden" forced translation in every passage. The context of Romans 8 clearly speaks of a link between every group mentioned. All of the "called ones" in the passage are also "predestined, justified, and glorified." Clearly, Paul is speaking of what would be called an "effectual call." The passage in Galatians addresses "professing" believers who may not actually be true believers. They claimed to be "called" but their present actions are showing otherwise. Furthermore the word "kaleo" can be translated to "call out" as in pleading with someone to repent. A form of the word "kaleo" is even used to "call" someone in an accusatory fashion. The reason why Paul expresses astonishment is simple. Paul was not omniscient. He hoped and believed they were genuinely converted, but he couldn't know this with certainty. He expresses the proper emotion that any Christian would have when they see loved ones straying from the truth and flirting with a false gospel. Time would tell if they were legitimate or not.

Thanks again for the comment,
Shane K.

Stuart

Thanks for your reply and explanation Shane. I agree with you that kaleo can have different meanings depending upon its context. So with that in mind, it is incumbent upon us to examine the particular context of Gal 1:6. Kaleo can have various shades of meaning such as to call or summon someone but when Paul uses it in referencing the brethren, as in Rom 8:30 and Gal 1:6 as far as I know of, he is specifically referencing the elect.
It is indeed true, that there are 'some' who profess Christ but are not actually regenerate believers. However, that does automatically entail that 'all' were never believers to begin with as that would constitute a fallacy of over-generalization. Note that Paul wrote that these particular Galatians were called "by the grace of Christ" which would seem to indicate an effectual call. Also, these Galatians were deserting Christ. One cannot desert Christ unless one had been previously loyal to following Christ. One cannot turn to a different gospel unless one had previously been following the true gospel.
Lastly, lest there still be doubt about whether Paul was uncertain if these were true believers or not, notice just a few verses later in v.15. Paul uses the same word kaleo to refer to himself. He also employs the same phrasing to refer to himself where he writes "called me by His grace," as compared with Gal 1:6 "called you by the grace of Christ." Since Paul describes his own effectual calling as being set apart in his mother's womb and called by His grace, it would be highly unlikely that Paul would perceive these Galatian as unconverted since he uses the same word and phrasing to describe these Galatian believers as he does in reference to himself.
It is for these reasons that I arrive at a different interpretation from you. We can always agree to disagree though as I appreciate your gracious tenor of your writings.

Shane Kastler

You are right in saying we will probably have to “agree to disagree.” I think it's important to note that Paul is writing to a church, which is always visibly made up of a mixture of true believers and false professors. And typically when Paul writes, he addresses them as “brethren” or “saints” or other terms that would denote salvation. In one sense some of them truly are “brethren” in another sense some of them appear to not be, based on their conduct. Paul gives the benefit of the doubt; but goes on to address the issues at hand. For example when he called the Corinthians “saints by calling” it became clear that some of them in the church were not really saints at all. Which is why he said the church needed to deal with the sin. Sadly, we have many examples of people professing to be followers of Christ and then falling away. This happens all the time by people who were never born again in the first place. A classic example would be Judas, who was one of the 12, was sent out to preach, and perform miracles; yet ultimately betrayed Jesus and died as the “son of perdition.” He had all the outward signs of a believer, yet Jesus said he was “a devil from the beginning.” Also, I would once again reiterate the fact that Paul is not all-knowing which explains his astonishment at the Galatian desertion. They seemed very genuine, yet their so-called faith was easily undone. And I think this is our point of contention. I would say they were never genuine, and time proved this by their apostasy. Whereas, it sounds like you are saying they were genuinely born again, then lapsed back into a condition of spiritual death. This is an odd concept, not found in Scripture. But I will concede that many passages must be studied beyond Romans and Galatians on this topic, with each taken in context while still understanding how they all fit together. This is no small task. And that good men can come to different conclusions. Still yet, we keep studying on.

Blessings to you,
Shane

Stuart

Hi Shane - yes we disagree but that is not surprising since this topic has been debated for centuries and sadly, often with much rancor and division which which makes for a poor Christian witness. Thus I appreciate our cordial discussion.
Yes, there are some in the church who are unregenerated but I believe it is a mistake to presume that all of those who fall away were not believers to begin with. One would then have to explain how unbelievers can apostatize when they never believed in the first place. By definition only those who genuinely belong to the faith can apostatize and fall away from the faith. That is precisely why Paul describes the Galatians as those who were deserting Christ by following another gospel. It is not possible to desert Christ and follow another gospel unless those Galatians were already loyal to Christ and the true gospel to begin with. As I wrote earlier, he described those particular Galatians in precisely the same terms as he described himself as one who is of the elect. That is why Paul is astonished that they are turning away as he considered them to be of the elect as he does himself. Paul would certainly not be astonished by those whom he considered as unelected to be deserting Christ as that would simply be "par for the course." Instead of astonishment, following another gospel would be an unsurprising expectation.

As for Judas, I'm unsure why you refer to him as a devil from the beginning. John 6:64 does say that Jesus knew from the beginning those were not believing and the one who would betray him. The word "betray" indicates that Judas was previously loyal to Jesus as Judas could not betray Jesus and be a traitor if he was disloyal to begin with. Later on in Jn 6:70-71 we find: Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose [aorist tense] you, the Twelve? And one of you is [present tense] a devil!” 71 Now He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot; for he, one of the Twelve, was about to betray Him. These two verses indicate that like his peers, Judas was chosen in the past but is now a devil due the fact that he was about to betray Jesus. Also note that in Jn 17, Jesus describes Judas in exactly the same terms that he uses to describe the other disciples. The Father gave all twelve to the Son (v.6). Jesus gave the words he received from the Father and they all received the word and believed (v.8). In v.9, Jesus prays for the disciples "because they are yours." In v.11 Jesus asks the Father to "keep them in Your name." If Judas were not of the elect then Jesus would have not referred to Judas as being given by the Father and kept in His name. The only singular distinction between Judas and the rest of the disciples in this passage is that except for Judas, none of the others was lost. Instead, Judas chose to turn aside from his ministry and apostleship (Acts 1:25). Lastly, if one still considers Judas to never have been a true follower of Christ, one would have to conclude that Jesus must have then erred in giving Judas the authority and power to cast out unclean spirits and heal the sick (Mt 10:1). Since Judas performed the same miraculous acts as did the other apostles, how did that happen.? How did Judas not meet the same fate as the Sons of Sceva? If Judas were of Satan and casting out spirits by Satan's authority, then Satan would be dividing his own kingdom as every house divided against itself cannot stand.

I have enjoyed our short discussion as iron sharpens iron. We could keep going back and forth but I'm not sure how beneficial that would be. I do believe that genuine born again believers can lapse back into a condition of spiritual death as Paul sternly warns of that possibility in Rom 8:13 but that would involve a more lengthy discussion. Instead, allow me to propose a scenario to illustrate my position - kind of a "rubber hits the road" example to highlight our difference.

I don't know what your eschatological views are but just for the sake of example let's suppose that the saints do end up going through the great tribulation and we find ourselves having to choose whether to accept the mark of the beast. Given this scenario, my question to you would be: Would you ever take the mark of the beast? As far as I can figure out, you have the following options:
1) No, don’t take the mark because of the consequences spelled out in Rev 14:9-11.
2) Yes, take the mark since a believer's salvation is secure and you cannot lose it.
3) Yes, take the mark as it just goes to show that you were never a Christian to begin with.

~ If you choose the first option, it directly contradicts the teaching of eternal security as these verses warn that 'anyone' who takes the mark is eternally condemned. Therefore, I don't think it is possible to be both post-trib and also believe in eternal security/OSAS as this passage testifies otherwise.
~ If you choose the second option, and you hold to the security of the believer, you are at least consistent in your belief however it directly contradicts the plain warning of these scriptures.
~ If you choose the third option, that would not make any sense as you would certainly vouch that you are in fact a genuine believer and I don't doubt that you are. However I think it demonstrates the weakness in the "they were never believers in the first place" argument. You would attest to the fact that you are a believer and if you took the mark it would be difficult for anyone who knows you to claim that you were never a believer to begin with. Rather, it is easier to explain away both in the scriptures and in actual practice that you were at one time a genuine believer but in the midst of terrible persecution apostatized from the faith by taking the mark and worshiping the beast. That at least to me would be the more plausible explanation. That is why we as His saints are exhorted in v.12 to persevere/endure by keeping the commandments of God and the faith.

Anyway, I enjoyed our dialogue and may the Lord bless you also.
Stuart

Shane Kastler

Hi Stuart,
It has been a pleasure discussing this topic with you. It is indeed, very important. I know we don't see things the same way; and alas I must be content to leave it at that. But I do appreciate your kindness and cordial tone in our debate. Christians need to re-gain the ability to disagree in a spirit of love. As for your argument that true apostasy is not possible unless there was true conversion. I simply disagree with this premise. Many people exhibit an outward allegiance to Christ, while being inwardly unchanged and unregenerate. Your argument is that for a person to truly be an apostate they must have truly been a believer. I could just as easily argue that it is impossible for a true believer to become an apostate, based on Jesus's words of holding true believers in his hand (John 10:27-30); that true believers are “kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5) and the aforementioned golden thread of Romans 8:28-30 where all who are “called” are “justified” and “glorified.” Of course we have already discussed these passages and disagree on what they mean...... In conclusion, while I think Christians should take seriously all warnings against apostasy, I am of the belief that those who are truly born again will not ultimately reject the faith, as they are “new creatures” in Christ and will not return to a state of spiritual death. God in His sovereignty will prevent this from happening. Your example of the “mark of the beast” is largely moot for me; because I believe that you are describing a hypothetical impossibility. While I do not hold to a “pre-tribulation rapture” of Christians; I do believe that Christians will suffer and ultimately prevail by the power of God. And one of the ways that God preserves his saints is by way of warning, admonition, encouragement, and rebuke.

God bless you Stuart. Thanks for taking the time to think these issues through and interacting with me. We may not agree on all aspects of theology. But I think we agree that we are doomed apart from the grace and salvation found in Jesus Christ. On this point, we are friends and brothers.

Blessings in Christ,
Shane Kastler

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

My Photo

Listen to Past Sermons