Archive for the ‘FreeGrace’ Category

Further Response to FreeGrace – Exegesis Defended Against Assertion

June 21, 2008

FreeGrace has provided some further comments, which I will respond to below.

FreeGrace: “Your comment that the “all” fits perfectly with “all kinds” surprises me. I thought you had more academic training than to think that. If you want the “all” to mean only “all kinds of”, then Paul isn’t really saying that everyone in the human race is under sin, only “all kinds of humans”. That, of course, would be a ridiculous understanding. Unless you really don’t think that everyone in the human race is under sin. Maybe I presume too much of you. :)”
I supported my comment in the original post (link). We get the definitive universality of sinfulness from the “there is none righteous, no not one.” The “all” unmistakably refers to “both Jews and Gentiles” in context. If that doesn’t fit with your theory, revise your theory. As for “academic training” and “presume too much,” they would be relevant if you had some sort of merit to your contentions: merit that you could demonstrate with exegesis, not assertion. On the other hand, I don’t rest on academic laurels, but simply on the Scriptures. If you presume that I would go along with your theory without holding it up to the light of Scriptures, you do presume too much.

FreeGrace: “Also, GMB fails to grasp what I’ve said, to be claiming that universal atonement leads to universalism. That is only an erroneous presupposition. His way of interpreting to be “that those who have sinned and those who are justified are one and the same” suggests the same thing you seem to be proposing. That not everyone in the human race has sinned, which is a ridiculous proposal.”
GMB, of course, stands for Gene M. Bridges, who commented on the original post (link). It seems you are having trouble understanding the verses, or simply want to promote your theory regardless of what the verses say.

Here, again, is the text:

22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

You seem to want to imagine that “all have sinned” is the same group as “being justified” AND that “all have sinned” is a reference to the entirety of humanity. If that were so, then the result would be that the entirety of humanity is justified. If that were so, then the entirety of humanity would be saved. There’s no escape from that conclusion.

FreeGrace: “Since Paul has noted in 3:9 that everyone is under sin, not just “all kinds of men”, it is ridiculous to presuppose that 3:23 is referring only to believers, which is what you have done. 3:23 is clearly a re-iteration of 3:9. You may deny it, but that’s what Paul has done.”
If you go back and read the original post (link), you will see that “presuppos[ing]” it is not what I did. Instead, I derived the sense of verse 23 from the context, something you seem incapable of following. I hope this explanation will help. The interpretation of verse 23 does not depend on whether the “all” in verse 9 extends (in context) to all of the members of both sets (in context, it does – because of the “none is righteous, no not one”). In fact the way to logically arrange the discussion is to see Paul making a general statement about humanity in verses 9-10, and then a specific statement about the elect in verses 22-24.
FreeGrace: “For you to say “All have sinned, both Jew and Gentile–consequently all who believed have sinned” is silly. When Paul stated that all are under sin, he wasn’t saying that only all kinds of people have sinned. He was stating the fact that everyone in the human race has sinned. Do you disagree? So 3:23 is simply re-iterating his point from 3:9. After saying everyone in the human race is under sin, and then to say “all believers have sinned” is absurd.”
It’s actually quite a simple, syllogistic way of discussing things:

1. All men are sinners.
2. Believers are men.
3. Believers are sinners.

(3) is proved by (1), not made ridiculous by it (or “silly” or any other name you may wish to tar it with), whatever you may think.

Furthermore, Paul presented the entire argument from verse 9 to verse 20 to deal with the issue of the possibility of works righteousness. Paul denies that we are better than the unbelievers, affirming the universality of sinfulness both categorically (“both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin”) and individually (“There is none righteous, no, not one: there is noen that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no, not one … there is no fear of God before their eyes.”)

Verse 23 serves as a reapplication of that general principle to the believers, “all them that believe” (verse 22) namely those who are “justified freely by his grace.” After all, that’s the reason for Paul’s argument … referring back to verse 9, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise …”

The “we” and “they” in verse 9 is not Jews and Gentiles (for Paul is a Jew writing to Gentiles) but believers and unbelievers. We are not saved because we are saved because we are better. Instead, we are saved by the free and sovereign grace of God.

FreeGrace: “Further, GMB’s comment that there are “not 2 ways of salvation” is absurd. Where does he get that from? Where does he think I’ve said anything close to that? His first point completely misses what I’ve said. The condition for justification is believing, but he seems oblivious to that fact. And his second point is simply his opinion. On what basis does he claim that statements about universal atonement cannot be differentiated from statements about universal salvation. That is just reformed presupposition.”
I assume by “absurd” that you mean that you did not intend to say that there are two ways of salvation. I think, though, that you need to go back to the original post and reread his comment to see the point of what he’s saying. I’ll let him clarify again, though, if he so chooses.

As for the issue of claims about universal atonement being non-differentiable from statements about universal salvation is not “reformed presupposition,” but extensive experience speaking. We look for advocates of the former to try to differentiate their statements from those of the latter, and it comes up empty. This case is no different: rather than differentiate, you have simply sold the house.

What do I mean by saying that you have sold the house? You have acknowledged that, to use your words, “The condition for justification is believing.” If that is so, then there are only three options:

1. The “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” refers (as, in fact, it does) only to believers in the context of verse 23;

2. It refers to “each and every person” and “each and every person” fulfills the condition and is justified (leading to universal salvation); or

3. It refers to “each and every person” but not all of them fulfill the condition which contradicts your original statement that “all have sinned” refers to the same group as “being justified.”

So, you have (1) our position, (2) universal salvation, or (3) self-contradiction. Take your pick.

FreeGrace: “Here is an example of how Christ could purchase (agarazo) salvation for everyone, yet not everyone receive it.”
A. The Whole Foundation of this Argument is Contra-Biblical
1. Christ purchased (peripoieomai) the church with his blood (Acts 20:28).
2. That’s why we can be refered to as the purchased possession (peripoiēsis) (Ephesians 1:14).
3. We, believers, are bought (agorazō) with a price (timē). (1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23).
4. Indeed, the elect was redeemed (agorazō) out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation (Revelation 5:9) and redeemed (agorazō) from the earth (Revelation 14:3) and redeemed (agorazō) from among men (Revelation 14:4).

But Scripture never ever refers to salvation being purchased (agorazō) by Christ’s blood, it speaks of people, namely the elect, being purchased by Christ’s blood.

B. Even if it were Biblical, it is not germane to Romans 3.

Romans 3 refers to believe who are justified, not who might possibly some day be justified, if they choose to be justified. In short, there’s no reason, linguistic or contextual to jump from “being justified” to “potentially being justified.”

FreeGrace: “A man living in an apartment building wants everyone in his building to have a Bible. So he goes out and purchases a Bible for every resident in the building. Then he goes to every apartment and offers a Bible to each resident. Those that want one receive one, and those who do not want one, don’t receive one.”

The great over-spender analogy. Counter query. If the man knows in advance that only 1/2 of the people will want one, would he be wiser to buy the right amount, or wiser to overpurchase? (as he does in your analogy) In fact, wouldn’t the man in your analogy be wiser to go around and find out how many people want a Bible before making his purchase?

Surely, in this example, a Bible has been purchased for each and every person, but to what end? It is simply to make Bible ownership a possibility for each person. If that’s your analogy to salvation, come out and say that you think Christ died on the cross simply to make salvation possible for his people, not – as Scripture says – to save his people from their sins.

FreeGrace: “Now, how can you or GMB claim that statements about “universal Bible purchases” cannot be differentiated from statement about “universal Bible ownership”? Please explain. My example demonstrates that while a Bible was purchased (agarazo) for everyone, not everyone received one.”

No, those can be differentiated. But the atonement reconciles God to man. It does not merely make reconciliation possible. The analogy to creating a stockpile of Bibles falls apart, because the Atonement actually accomplishes something. It also falls apart because it is not a stockpile of salvation that is purchased by Christ, but people: the elect.

FreeGrace: “Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. You have in no way provided me any support for your pov on this passage, as I’m sure you have already figured.”

I’m willing to let the reader judge for himself.

FreeGrace: “I thought it was interesting how you wanted to emphasize the passage, when you put in very small print the last part of v.22 and v.23. Seems you want to “minimize” it. Here is a way to read the passage with only the prepositional phrase in v.25 moved to the beginning of the verse:

Through faith in His blood (v.25)…all (who) have sinned (entire human race) (v.23)…are justified freely (v.24). I added the “who” to smooth the sentence. The key remains: justification is through faith. Paul has included the entire human race in a statement about how to be justified.”
Your problem is clearly seen here. The verse says “are justified,” whether you ignore that or not. It does not say “can be justified” or “should be justified” or “ought to be justified” or “may be justified” or “might be justified” or “would be justified” or “could be justified” or anything else but “are justified” (or “being justified”).

The point of the passage is only partly to talk about justification by grace through faith – you’re missing the other half: the other half of the point is to show that gracious justification is the great equalizer: it is because justification is not based on us distinguishing ourselves from others, but instead is based on grace, that there is no difference between us and the unbeliever except the grace of God.

FreeGrace: “In other words, Paul didn’t limit from the human race who can be justified. He noted the condition, that is, faith. That is the only “limit” on justification. I think your attempt to render “all” in v.23 to refer only to believers reveals your defense of your pov at the expense of what the text says.”

Yes, Paul does implicitly limit who can be justified, by making by grace. If justification were by works, those who wanted to be justified would simply work hard, distinguishing themselves from others.

But instead, all mankind universally is under sin – there is none that seeks after God. God graciously converts some, bringing them to faith in Christ, justifying them by grace. All of these were sinners, none were righteous, for everyone is a sinner. Thus, there is no room for pride to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, because this was not of themselves – they were saved by grace, not obedience to God’s law.

Nevertheless, the limitation on who can be justified is not the main point of the passage, it’s simply implicit in gracious salvation (see above for the main point). If other parts of Scripture were ignored, we could accept universal salvation as being consistent with this text, because God could (again, ignoring other things we know about God from other Scriptures) show the same grace to all, if he so desired, because his grace is freely bestowed, not earned, merited, or procured.


Response to FreeGrace – Unlimited Atonement in Romans?

June 20, 2008

A Non-Calvinist who uses the screen name FreeGrace recently resent me a question he had sent a while back, and which I had hoped to answer more quickly.

FreeGrace: “I recently discovered a phrase by Paul that I believe is clearly indicative of unlimited atonement, though not specifically mentioning it. It is Rom 3:32-25.”

Here is the text, Romans 3:22-25
22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

FreeGrace: “But first, Paul makes the clear point in 3:9 that “all are under sin”, obviously meaning everyone in humanity, not just “all kinds of”, as the reformed like to say.:) “

Actually, the “all” refers to “both Jews and Gentiles,” (“we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin”) which fits perfectly with “all kinds.” In fact, what rules out a barely general (as opposed to universal) reading is the “none righteous, no not one” in the next verse. Anyhow, the sinfulness of man is universal.

FreeGrace: “Then, he repeats that point in 3:23 with “for all have sinned”.”

Actually, it is roughly repeating the same point, which is a little different from what FreeGrace seems to think. The text is:

Romans 3:22-23
22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

The point of “for all have sinned” is in reference to the fact that there is no difference between Jewish and Gentile believers: all have sinned – all are saved by grace, not works.

FreeGrace:”One of the C campers on CW wants to believe the “all” of v.23 is the same “all” found in v.22 in the phrase “all who believe”, but that makes Paul’s statement in v.23 rather silly in light of what he has just said about all of humanity in 3:9.”

That depends on the point of Paul’s argument. It looks like a syllogism. All have sinned, both Jews and Gentiles — consequently all who believe have sinned – there is no difference between Jewish and Gentile believers – they have to be saved the same way: freely by grace through the redemption that is in Christ.

FreeGrace:”iow, why would Paul state that “all believers have sinned” when he has just made the point that everyone in humanity is under sin, a point that the reformed do not argue.”

He would do that to emphasize that it is not the case that some come to salvation by works, and others by faith. All come by faith, since works are unavailing.

FreeGrace: “Anyway, here is the connected thought found in that passage, with only the pertinent words included: “for all have sinned…(v.23) and are justified freely…(v.24) through faith in His blood…(v.25).”

I would respectfully submit to you that the correct way to read the passage is this way:
“22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: (for there is no difference: 23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;) 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

That is to say, I would view the “for there is no difference … glory of God” phrase as a parenthetical – explaining the “all” in the “all them that believe.”

FreeGrace: “By including the entire human race in v.23, and saying “being justified” per KJV or “and are justified” per ESV (a favorite among reformed I learned recently), Paul is saying that the entire human race is justified through faith. That can only be possible if Christ died for everyone, which I think this verse demonstrates.”

Men are justified when they believe. Even if there were some sense in which we could say that men are justified from eternity (not admitted), justification, properly speaking, occurs when a man believes. Not all men (i.e. each and every member of humanity) believe, therefore not all men (in that sense) are justified.

Thus, you have two options:

1) You can deny that not every man believes, which leads to a sort of “Evangelical Universalism,” or

2) You can recognize that the “being justified” just refers back to the part of the passage immediately before the parenthetical, namely to the “all them that believe” the same group upon whom the righteousness of God, which is by faith in Jesus Christ, has been manifested.

I would respectfully submit to you that the latter interpretation is the better one.

FreeGrace: “When Paul penned Rom 5:8, based on his comments in 3:9 and 3:23, I believe he was speaking as a member of the human race, rather than as a believer.”

This seems like a strange jump, and a wrong jump. It is strange because the only connection seems to be the fact that we were sinners. It is wrong, because we can clearly pick out who the “we” is in the context.

Here’s the text of Romans 5:8

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Here’s the context:

Romans 5:1-9
1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; 4And patience, experience; and experience, hope: 5And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

The “we” is the justified, the ones who have access, who have the Holy Ghost, and who shall be saved.


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