Two Quick and Offbeat Thoughts On the Perseverance (= Preservation) of the Saints…

(1) John 10:27-29 says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and NO ONE will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” 

The Point: “No one” up above surely means NO ONE. I mean absolutely no one.  So … even YOU cannot snatch yourself out of God’s hands.

(2) The second one I got from the Puritan John Owen (1616-83). John Owen basically raised a question of the good King Hezekiah whose story is recorded the Bible. And as the story went, Hezekiah was about to die due to being very ill and so he prayed to God asking God to spare him and God gave him an additional 15 years of life.

~~> So the question becomes, given that God has given Hezekiah a 15 years extension on his life, is Hezekiah now free to do as he pleases?

Does he need to look after his health anymore? Can he eat and drink as he pleases now? Can he now become a drunkard, drinking excessively because it will do no ill to his liver? Can he stop doing all exercise?

From John Owen, The Saints Perseverance, in Works, 11:280, accessed at The Puritans on Perseverance of the Saints by Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones

 

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Monergism & Synergism ~ Notes…

(1)
In his book, Grace Unknown, R.C. Sproul states in print, some theological matters that I have heard him say many times on his radio program, Renewing Your Mind. This has to do with the matter of monergism and synergism.

Regarding monergism, this is what Sproul says it is:

“Monergism is something that operates by itself or works alone as the sole active party. Monergism is the opposite of synergism. … Synergism is a cooperative venture, a working together of two or more parties. When the term monergism is linked with the word regeneration, the phrase describes an action by which God the Holy Spirit works on a human being without this person’s assistance or cooperation. … Monergistic regeneration is exclusively a divine act. Man does not have the creative power that God has”
~ pg. 183-4

Regarding synergism, this is what Sproul says:

“As part of the process of our sanctification, perseverance is a synergistic work. This means that it is a cooperative effort between God and us. We persevere as He preserves.”

~ pg. 212
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(2)
Jerry Bridges also says something similar.

In his book The Bookends of the Christian Life, we find written the following:

“… Paul summed up the concept of qualified synergism with a sweeping, dramatic statement: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).”
~ Pg.88

“So while the Holy Spirit is working in us synergistically to enable us to accomplish our growth agenda, He’s at the same time working monergistically to change us according to His agenda.”
~ Pg. 91

In another book of his, which he co-authored with Bob Bevington, The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness, Bridges states:

“Definitive sanctification is monergistic, i.e. God acts independently of man to cause the sinner to see the glory of Christ in the Gospel. … When the Bible uses the word sanctification, it is frequently referring to progressive sanctification, which is gradual transformation of the believer in his or her day-to-day experience. Progressive sanctification is synergistic; the believer works in cooperation with God in dependence on His providing the enabling power to change.”
~ Pg. 216

(3) Bruce Demarest in his book, The Cross and Salvation says something similar.

It should be clear that regeneration differs from conversion in several important respects. (1) Conversion involves a synergism of divine and human working, whereas regeneration is strictly a monergistic operation.”

He also some other things that are quite interesting… but I do not want to digress.

(4) J.I. Packer on the very same issue.

“Regeneration was a momentary monergistic act of quickening the spiritually dead. As such, it was God’s work alone. Sanctification, however, is in one sense synergistic – it is an ongoing cooperative process in which regenerate persons, alive to God and freed from sin’s dominion (Rom. 6:11, 14-18), are required to exert themselves in sustained obedience. God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but God-dependent effort (2 Cor. 7:1; Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:14). Knowing that without Christ’s enabling we can do nothing, morally speaking, as we should, and that he is ready to strengthen us for all that we have to do (Phil. 4:13), we “stay put” (remain, abide) in Christ, asking for his help constantly – and we receive it (Col. 1:11; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2 Tim. 1:7; 2:1).”

I think that Packer’s explanation might have the key to help me understand what has not been making sense.

Grace is like a Boomerang.

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” ~ Romans 11:36

Grace is like a boomerang that God throws and like all boomerangs it returns to to the thrower.

However when God throws it, it does not return the same. What I mean is that God throws it bronze, it returns to Him, silver. God throws it silver, it returns gold.

“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” ~ Isaiah 55:11

~ We are given the privilege of somehow being involved in this process. It is called worship.

“Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” ~ 1 Chronicles 29:14

~ If you think about it… boomerangs are pretty amazing. They used to be used for hunting, warfare, etc. However unlike swords, spears, wrenches, they are ingenious and amazing.

 

Thomas Boston – Note – Where is God working?

Thomas Boston states as regards success and failure in ministry:

“If ministry is unsuccessful it is because God is not in it.”

The thought: You can presume to know where God is working, but you can not presume to know where God is not working.

So do I go here and do that or do I go there and do this?
~ Go where it seems God is working, because your presumption would not necessarily be a bad thing.

What of going where God does not seem to be working?
~ You cannot presume to know where God is not working. (In some sense He is at work everywhere.)
~ You go there if you have a explicit call from God.

On Seeking After God

We often come across people who say that they have wandered around to the ends of the earth in search of god or something transcendent. It is interesting to note that there is an interesting take on this phenomenon in (Reformed) Christian Theology.

R.C. Sproul makes some interesting comments about this whole business of seeking. First, he takes note of the fact, that the Scriptures say in Romans 3:11, that “There is none who seeks after God.” and says that while people are admonished to seek after God, they do not in fact do so. Our human nature is sinful and as such would rather simply avoid God. Sproul says that men are in fact fugitives from God.

So then what do we make of this phenomenon where we meet and hear of all sorts of ppl who say that they have been seeking after God?

According to Sproul, most people seek the benefits of God. They do not seek God Himself. (I think he got this for Jonathan Edwards, BTW). Sproul points out what Aquinas observed re: this matter, viz. that “people are seeking after happiness, peace, relief from guilt, personal fulfillment, and other such benefits. We understand that these benefits can only be found in God Himself”.

Sproul goes on to say “We want the gifts without the Giver, the benefits without the Benefactor”.

The Cosmic Atonement … Theologoumenon

I’ll fix this post later … unpolished thoughts….

“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” ~ Romans 8:19b-21

Within Reformed circles there is a doctrine known as the Limited Atonement or Particular Redemption. The doctrine is highly controversial not only between those who hold to it and those who do not, but so also among those who hold to it. This is so because the doctrine can be understood in more than one way (strict vs. moderate). I personally do not have an opinion on the matter, although if someone put a knife to me, I would have to go with the general or unlimited atonement. In what follows however, I want to think about some consequences that may follow from holding to Particular Redemption. They are quite interesting actually.

Particular Redemption (in a non-Owenist-strict sense) can be stated as consisting of at least the following two statements.

[1] Christ died for the sins of some.
and…
[2] Christ died for all.

The first statement is explicitly hamartiological (study of sin), whereas the second is not. In (1), only the sins of a particular group of people are in view.  In (2) there is no mention of sin. It is possible to die for someone or something (e.g. your country) and sin has nothing to do with it. What (2) is telling us is that Christ died for people in ways that had nothing to do with taking on their sin. This non-hamartiological way in which He died for people is indirect. Let me explain.

Suppose your friend Sanju is dying on account of kidney failure and you decide that you will give up one of your kidneys for him. The problem is that due to complications, the surgery is high risk and may involve your death during the transplant procedure. You decide to take the risk saying that you do not mind dying for Sanju, since you have lived many years already and he is quite a young person. The surgery goes through, and unfortunately you die in the process, while Sanju is saved.

Sanju then goes on to live a good life, getting married, settling down and having a baby named Manju. Now it is obvious that you died for Sanju so that Sanju can live, however can we also say that you died for Manju to live?

That is there are indirect benefits of 1 for the “all” of 2.

One example of this is common grace. Common grace is in the atonement. Christ died so that both the good and the bad experience sunshine and good weather. Oks…

Next up – Adam.

When Adam fell, all of humanity fell along with him. Humanity became sinful. Humanity inherited a nature with a propensity to sin. However – when Adam, fell all of Creation fell.  All of the Universe … the creation… the cosmos became bum. Hence, the entropy of the universe increases… earthquakes take place, volcanoes explode, iron rusts… weeds need to be constantly pulled out… pests exists… All of nature … all of the cosmos became in some sense screwed up.  So when a person points to homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom … well its is on account of the Fall. Nature as great as it is… is fallen. Hence we are told in Romans that the creation is subject to bondage or decay. It is subject to futility. All of the cosmos as great and as wondrous as it is – is still on some level … bum.

So???

What this means is that while Christ died for the sins of some i n some sense, He died for the sins of everyone and everyTHING in some sense. This latter sense does not have to do with sin and moral responsibility. It has to do with His simple goodness and benevolence to all of creation. Here is the thing though…

If Christ died for all of Creation – then this means that at some level, all of creation has some value. Hence we don’t just simply pollute the waters… we do not simply throw garbage around… we become good stewards of nature. We become concerned with ecology. It is not simply the dominion and cultural mandate that give us impetus to be stewards of nature, but so also the atonement…

If Christ died for all of Creation – then it means that He even died for animals… and this impacts how we even treat animals and such.

It is interesting to note that Adam was not given a command to eat animals… just vegetation. Was he a vegetarian? It is until Noah, that we see an explicit command to eat animals and such.  Perhaps eating flesh was not the original intention, however this has been repealed.

Moving on… there are pictures in the Bible, of the Millennium where “the lion shall dwell with the Lion and a little boy will peacefully lead them…” Could this also have been how Eden was, before the creation – animals included – fell ? Perhaps  no animals were carnivores?

One day, Christ shall return and all of the cosmos shall be regenerated. The fallen universe will also rise and be resurrected.