Archive for the ‘Particular Redemption’ Category

High Priest Argument for Definite Atonement aka Particular Redemption aka Limited Atonement

February 6, 2014

Sometimes it is hard to explain to people why the sacrificial nature of Christ’s death is relevant to the question of the scope of the atonement: i.e. whether the atonement was made for all, hypothetically all, or particularly the elect.  One way to explain this is by reference to the fact that Christ is not just the lamb of God, whose death takes away the sins of the world, but that Christ is also the High Priest who makes the offering.  The following provides an easy explanation of this argument, so that you can present it to your friends, without requiring them to know everything about the Old Testament sacrificial system.

At the heart of it, the offering of a lamb as a burnt offering involved killing the lamb and roasting it in fire.  That’s quite similar, as hopefully you’ve noticed, to the core of having lamb for dinner.  What then differentiates lamb chops from a sacrifice?

It’s not the fact that the lamb can still be eaten in the dinner context.  Yes, there were “whole burnt offerings” where the entire animal was fully consumed by the fire, but the more typical context of animal sacrifices involved the cooked animal being eaten – partly by the priest and partly by the person offering the sacrifice. That’s why the apostles taught gentile Christians, you may recall, to buy their meat without asking whether it was a sacrifice to one of the gods.  So, it is not the degree of cooking that distinguishes the sacrifice from the dinner.

Instead, what distinguishes the two is the ritual, especially the prayer.  The prayer asks God to accept the animal as a sacrifice and consequently to accept the person for whom the sacrifice is offered.

Furthermore, sacrifice could be made for one person or a group of people.  For example, when sacrifices were made on behalf of Israel as a nation, sometimes lots of animals were killed, but there was not a one-to-one relationship between the animals and the people of Israel.  Likewise, in some cases a sacrifice might involve more than one animal, but only one person.  How could these situations be distinguished?

Again, the answer lies in the ritual – particularly in the prayer.  The prayer is what distinguishes a sacrifice from one person from a sacrifice for a family, tribe, or nation.

Now, apply that principle to Christ’s death.  For whom does Christ pray? Does Christ pray for all mankind indiscriminately? Or does Christ pray for all the believers – all the elect?  Does Christ specifically pray for those given to him by the Father?

In theological terms, this is the “impetration” aspect of the atonement – for whom does Jesus ask the Father for forgiveness of sins and eternal life? Without any request, the sacrifice is just a tasty meal.  With the request, the sacrifice is made for the people identified in the request.

Now, someone might try to claim that Jesus asks for life for everyone, but the Father turns Jesus down except in the case of those who make the difference and autonomously cooperate in some way.  Such an idea, though, lacks any Scriptural testimony and drives a wedge between the Father and the Son, which contradicts the idea that “I and my Father are one.”

Indeed, the Scriptures do not describe that Jesus prays for each and every individual, that the Father would accept His sacrifice on their behalf.  For example, Jesus says: “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. … For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.” (John 17:1, 2, and 8-10)

-TurretinFan

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Francis of Rome on Atheists and Redemption

June 2, 2013

Francis of Rome was recently reported speaking about good works and atheism:

Wednesday’s Gospel speaks to us about the disciples who prevented a person from outside their group from doing good. “They complain,” the Pope said in his homily, because they say, “If he is not one of us, he cannot do good. If he is not of our party, he cannot do good.” And Jesus corrects them: “Do not hinder him, he says, let him do good.” The disciples, Pope Francis explains, “were a little intolerant,” closed off by the idea of ​​possessing the truth, convinced that “those who do not have the truth, cannot do good.” “This was wrong . . . Jesus broadens the horizon.” Pope Francis said, “The root of this possibility of doing good – that we all have – is in creation”:

“The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can. He must. Not can: must! Because he has this commandment within him. Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. That we can kill in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

“Instead,” the Pope continued, “the Lord has created us in His image and likeness, and has given us this commandment in the depths of our heart: do good and do not do evil”:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

“Doing good” the Pope explained, is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always.”

Where is Francis of Rome correct?

Atheists can do civil good. They can outwardly conform to the law of God in a variety of ways. They can (and many do) give to the poor. They can (and nearly all do) abstain from killing their neighbors. These things do not fully comply with the law of God, because they do not arise from right motives. Nevertheless, we sometimes refer to these deeds as good in view of their outward conformity to the law of God.

That we do good to our neighbors is written in the law. The second great commandment commands us to do good to our neighbor. Moreover, the parable of the good Samaritan commends to us the activities of an unbeliever, as an example of what our behavior should be. Thus, there is Biblical warrant for using the actions of unbelievers as examples of (partial, outward) compliance with God’s law.

Atheists have the law of God written on their heart. They have a conscience. That which may be known of God is manifest to them, for God has shown it to them. That conscience may be seared. The image of God may be damaged, distorted, and perverted, but it is there.

Where has Francis of Rome erred?

Francis was wrong to say that all are redeemed. The Israelites were redeemed – the Egyptians were not. By analogy, the elect are redeemed, the reprobate are not.

Francis was wrong to say that we are all “children of God of the first class.” There may be some sense in which all humans are God’s children, but not in the highest sense. Recall that Jesus himself compared the Jews to God’s children and the non-Jews to dogs. There is a distinction between the people of God and those outside the people of God.

Response to Some Objections

Some of Rome’s apologists will respond, like Bryan Cross:

It is important, as you mentioned, to distinguish between redemption accomplished objectively, and redemption applied subjectively. Pope Francis was speaking of the former when saying that Christ has redeemed all men, and therefore not implying universalism.

Bryan may be right to insist on that distinction, but Francis is not making that distinction – he’s arguing that the “this Blood makes us children of God.” The consistent reference to “us” in Francis’ lecture is everyone, and specifically not just Roman Catholics. The blood acting on subjects to make them something is not simply objective redemption accomplished, contrary to Bryan’s wish.

Jason Stellman, recent apostate/revert to Rome (it is unclear if he was baptized RC or not) put it this way:

Again, it’s not that “our sins are paid for” in the sense Protestants think of it (i.e., God imputing our guilt to Christ, pouring out his wrath upon him, and then imputing his righteousness to us). So the reason redemption accomplished doesn’t imply redemption applied is that the former doesn’t mean for Catholics what it does for Protestants. Jesus did not suffer divine anger and retribution for a certain group of people who then cannot but be saved. Rather, he recapitulated Adamic humanity in himself by offering a sacrifice that pleased the Father more than our sins displeased him. When seen in this way, redemption applied ceases to be a foregone conclusion and actually becomes something we must actively pursue through faith and the sacraments.

Expressing the recapitulation theory this way, however, doesn’t rescue Francis. Francis is talking about something that has been applied to people, not something that is merely available to people.

Jimmy Akin similarly says:

So far so good: Christ redeemed all of us, making it possible for every human to be saved.

That is not what Francis said, though. Francis did not say simply that it was possible for them to be saved, but that this redemption had made them children of God “of the first class.”

Jimmy Akin continued:

We can be called children of God in several senses. One of them is merely be being created as rational beings made in God’s image. Another is by becoming Christian. Another sense (used in the Old Testament) is connected with righteous behavior. And there can be other senses as well.

Here Pope Francis may be envisioning a sense in which we can be called children of God because Christ redeemed us, even apart from embracing that redemption by becoming Christian.

Had Francis not added “of the first class,” then this avenue might be available. Yet Francis talked about them being made children of the first class.

Mark Shea took umbrage with the way the story was reported in HuffPo (and who can blame him). However, Shea (and Andrew Preslar) helpfully pointed out that CCC 605 specifically states, “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer,” quoting from the regional council of Council of Quiercy of 853, as reported in Denzinger’s Sources at item 624 (Latin numbering, corresponding to item 319 in the English). That original source stated:

316 Chap. 1. Omnipotent God created man noble without sin with a free will, and he whom He wished to remain in the sanctity of justice, He placed in Paradise. Man using his free will badly sinned and fell, and became the “mass of perdition” of the entire human race. The just and good God, however, chose from this same mass of perdition according to His foreknowledge those whom through grace He predestined to life [ Rom. 8:29 ff.; Eph. 1:11], and He predestined for these eternal life; the others, whom by the judgment of justice he left in the mass of perdition,* however, He knew would perish, but He did not predestine that they would perish, because He is just; however, He predestined eternal punishment for them. And on account of this we speak of only one predestination of God, which pertains either to the gift of grace or to the retribution of justice.

317 Chap. 2. The freedom of will which we lost in the first man, we have received back through Christ our Lord; and we have free will for good, preceded and aided by grace, and we have free will for evil, abandoned by grace. Moreover, because freed by grace and by grace healed from corruption, we have free will.

318 Chap. 3. Omnipotent God wishes all men without exception to be saved [1 Tim. 2:4] although not all will be saved. However, that certain ones are saved, is the gift of the one who saves; that certain ones perish, however, is the deserved punishment of those who perish.

319 Chap. 4. Christ Jesus our Lord, as no man who is or has been or ever will be whose nature will not have been assumed in Him, so there is, has been, or will be no man, for whom He has not suffered- although not all will be saved by the mystery of His passion. But because all are not redeemed by the mystery of His passion, He does not regard the greatness and the fullness of the price, but He regards the part of the unfaithful ones and those not believing in faith those things which He has worked through love [Gal. 5:6], because the drink of human safety, which has been prepared by our infirmity and by divine strength, has indeed in itself that it may be beneficial to all; but if it is not drunk, it does not heal.

Setting aside the problems of this nearly Arminian/Amyraldian view of the atonement, notice that this text does state that Jesus suffered in some sense for all, but simultaneously states that “all are not redeemed.”

Moreover, redemption is (in the Bible) explicitly expressed in terms of distinction:

Revelation 14:3-4
And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.

Moreover, redemption is expressed as the basis for the effectual call:

Zechariah 10:8
I will hiss for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased.

Stellman tries to defend the claim of universal redemption by citing:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Col. 1:15-20).

The problem with an appeal to that text is that if Stellman is saying that “all things” there refers to each and every human being that ever was or will be, and he is saying that this passage refers not just to a desire but something actually done, then he’s stuck with saying that God reconciles all men to himself and is at peace with them. In what sense, then, could they said to be “children of wrath”? No, the attempted justification cannot stand.

Finally, note Francis’ concluding prayer:

“Today is [the feast of] Santa Rita, Patron Saint of impossible things – but this seems impossible: let us ask of her this grace, this grace that all, all, all people would do good and that we would encounter one another in this work, which is a work of creation, like the creation of the Father. A work of the family, because we are all children of God, all of us, all of us! And God loves us, all of us! May Santa Rita grant us this grace, which seems almost impossible. Amen.”

In this prayer (to Rita) he asks (of her, not of God) grace to do something that allegedly by created nature and redemption they already can do, namely good works. Moreover, Francis insists on a universal love of God, and asserts that we are all children of God, as he had already done in his homily. I would just note finally how this teaching by Francis eviscerates the doctrine of adoption.

John 1:12
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

1 John 3:1-2
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Francis is wrong on redemption and wrong on adoption.

-TurretinFan

From the Bunkers Beneath Liberty University – Limited Atonement and the Free Offer

April 9, 2009

As you may be aware, there is a secret Calvinist production studio hidden deep below Liberty University, where no one would think to look. From that production studio, one of our volunteers has presented a selection from John Murray on the doctrine of Limited Atonement and its interaction with the Free Offer of the Gospel. Sorry for the Ninja gear, but identities must be protected.

http://www.xtranormal.com/players/jwplayer.swf

(Direct link to video)

-TurretinFan

Particular Redemption – Quotation from Reymond’s Systematic Theology

June 29, 2008

Monergism.com has provided a lengthy excerpt from Robert Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. on the subject of Ten Lines of Evidence for Particular Redemption (link to excerpt).

Reymond’s Ten Lines:

1) The Particularistic Vocabulary of Scripture
2) God’s Redemptive Love Not Inclusive of Fallen Angels
3) The Irreversible Condition of Lost Men Already in Hell When Christ Died
4) The Limited Number of People, by Divine Arrangement, Who Actually Hear the Gospel
5) Christ’s High-Priestly Work Restricted to the Elect
6) The Father’s Particularistic Salvific Will and Work
7) The Death to Sin and Resurrection to Newness of Life of All Those for Whom Christ Died
8) The Implication in the Particularity of the Gift of Faith, a “Purchased” Blessing, For Christ’s Cross Work, the “Procuring” Act
9) The Intrinsic Efficacy of Christ’s Cross Work (Necessarily Exclusivistic)
10) An Atonement of High Value Necessarily Exclusive of an Atonement of Universal Extension

I encourage those who are considering the issue of Limited Atonement/ Particular Redemption to consider what Reymond has to say on the subject.

-TurretinFan

Reconciling Universal Redemption with Limited Decree to Save

March 28, 2008

I had asked:
How is purchasing a redemption for both believers and non-believers consistent with decreeing to save only believers?

Dan (aka Godismyjudge), at Arminian Chronicles replied (link to Dan’s reply):

1) the decree to save believers should not be understood as foreknowledge of individual believers (i.e. Sue and John, but not Robbie), but rather the formula that anyone who believes shall be saved

2) that decree was preceded by a decree that Christ, by His death, shall be the basis of salvation (this decree can’t be limited to the elect, because is explanatorily prior to the decree of election)

3) the decree regarding Christ’s death means salvation is possible for everyone through Christ’s death

I answer:

I don’t find Dan’s answer very clear, partly because he uses words that either have different meanings to him than to me or have no standard meaning (such as “foreknowledge” and “explanatorily”). Allow me to try to explain Dan’s position for him.

As to (1-2), it seems to me that Dan is trying to say that the decree to purchase redemption for mankind universally was a first decree, and that a decree to apply that redemption to the class of believers was a second decree, and that God’s advance knowledge of who would be members of that class follows the second decree. I think that by “explanatorily prior” Dan means what we call “logically prior.” Thus, we should not read a temporal sequence into the order.

I hope that if I have misunderstood Dan, he will correct my misunderstanding. Assuming I have correctly understood him:

a) The order seems purposeless or at cross purposes;
b) For example, the first decree seems to be aimed at a purpose to save mankind universally, whereas the second decree seems to be aimed (at least in part) in saving mankind only partially;
c) The attempted escape is to place God’s advance knowledge of the membership of the class of believers posterior to the second decree, but
d) It doesn’t seem credible that God would make the second decree without first knowing whether it would save anyone, because He Himself is bound by His own decrees.
e) Another attempted escape might be to argue that the first decree was only aimed at making all men savable, but
f) A similar criticism arises that the second decree still seems counter to the first decree by providing a barrier to the savability of men, and
g) There is a real question about whether there is any Scriptural basis for an intent to make mankind “savable,” as distinct from “saved.”

Thus, it does not really seem that (1-2) of Dan’s reply help resolve the apparent conflict, or – at best – they simply move the conflict someplace else.

As to (3), it seems that “the decree” referenced is supposed to be the first decree. This would seem to begin to take escape (e) discussed above. Additionally, since the first decree does not include any decree for application of the benefit of Christ’s death, it actually does not mean “salvation is possible for everyone through Christ’s death.” In fact, it does not mean that salvation is possible for anyone at all, since it does not include any way for the benefit of Christ’s death to be applied to men.

Alternatively, “the decree” in (3) might be aimed at pointing to the second decree. If so, then the same criticism from (f) as well as (d) above would apply. A decree to save those who fit within a formula is inherently discriminatory, with the formula being the discriminator. Unless there is some kind of expectation that everyone would fall within the formula (which apparently, per (3), there was not) then the formula does not mean “salvation is possible for everyone through Christ’s death.”

Indeed, one could (though why they would, I have no idea) insert between Dan’s second decree and the advance knowledge a recognition of human total inability to meet the formula. Then, it becomes clear that a decree that Jesus die for everyone (in the abstracted way Dan posits in his first decree) is not sufficient to make “salvation is possible for everyone through Christ’s death.”

I’m guessing that Dan’s ultimate order would look something like this:

1. Decree to create.
2. Recognition of the fall.
3. Decree that Christ will die.
4. Decree that Christ’s death will be applied to those who have faith.
5. Decree that it will be “possible” for anyone to have faith.
6. Recognition of who actually has faith.

Embedded within (5) would be a decree to give all men prevenient grace, or something like that.

There are a number of problems with this expanded order, though.

(a) The idea of creating without having the purpose of the creation mind already seems odd. One pictures the person in Dan’s order saying to himself, “So I’ve got this creation, what should I do with it?”

(b) The idea of the fall being something that is only recognized once there is a decree to create does not seem fully consistent with God’s omniscience. Even if this could be escaped by middle knowledge, though …

(c) The idea of the knowledge of who will believe being recognized somehow separately from the fall does not seem fully consistent either with God’s omniscience or middle knowledge.

In short, I’m not sure how Dan’s explanation doesn’t just make matters worse for the Arminian or Amyraldian.

-TurretinFan

As Wise as Sheep

February 17, 2008

Sheep are not wise. It is no great compliment to be called a sheep. Nevertheless, in Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, Christ proclaimed the parable of the Shepherd and the sheepfold, in which he compared us to sheep, and Himself to the Shepherd.

John 9:35-10:29
35Jesus heard that they had cast him [the man who was born blind, whom Jesus miraculously healed] out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?
36He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?
37And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.
38And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.
39And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
40And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
41Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. 1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. 18No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
19There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
21Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
22And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. 23And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. 24Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
25Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. 26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

There are many things that can be gleaned from the passage. One is the fact that Jesus is divine. If we were going to emphasize that, we’d continue down the passage, for Jesus is shortly afterward explicitly accused of blasphemy.

In this post, though, we are going to focus on the soteriological aspects of the passage. The sheep are the elect, those who will be saved from judgment on judgment day. We know this because Christ says “I give unto them eternal life.”

1. Once a Sheep, Always a Sheep

This would seem to be an obvious fact from the nature of things. Sheep do not change their species. Sheep do not become goats, they do not become wolves, they do not become dogs. A wolf may slip in disguised as a sheep or a goat may get caught up in a sheep stampede. But a sheep is a sheep, and a non-sheep is not a sheep. There is no more saddening condemnation to hear than to hear: “ye are not of my sheep” from the mouth of God. On the other hand, to know that one is a sheep is the most encouraging thing we can know. We know that the sheep will never stop being a sheep, because Christ says: “they shall never perish.”

2. Once a Sheep of Christ’s, Always a Sheep of Christ’s

Again, this would seem to be an obvious fact. Christ is God. He cannot be robbed by thieves. No one is stronger than God to be able wrestle sheep away from him. Furthermore, sheep are not self-determiners of their ownership. No one asks a sheep for his permission to own the sheep. A sheep cannot decide to become someone else’s sheep. A sheep can wander off from the flock, but the Shepherd will bring him back. Furthermore, Christ explains this in the passage above: “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (and likewise, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all.”)

3. The Sheep Come Because they are Sheep

Some people have suggested that people become sheep because they come. This is absurd. Sheep are sheep before they come. A lost sheep is a sheep. A sheep cannot hear his master’s voice, unless he is a sheep. This also leads us to the second suggestion we sometimes hear: that a sheep become’s Christ’s by hearing his voice.

But that is not how ownership of sheep works. Furthermore, that’s not how the matter is described in the passage. Instead, the passage states: “the sheep follow him: for they know his voice, and a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” You see, there is a reason why the sheep follow the shepherd and not a stranger, it is because they know his voice. They follow the shepherd because they are his sheep, not the other way around.

4. The Sheep are Called Particularly

It is often overlooked that the sheep are not called en masse. One sees people discussing the passage as though the Shepherd is standing out in a huge field of sheep yelling, “Here Sheep!” That fits with the mistaken view above that sheep become sheep (or Christ’s sheep) by coming. That’s not the picture here. The picture here is Christ calling his sheep particularly, individually, by name: “he calleth his own sheep by name,” “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep.”

5. The Sheep will be Saved

There is no doubt, no uncertainty about sheep of Christ’s that are still outside the fold. Christ declares the certainty of their salvation. This conflicts both with an open theistic view of God, and with a universalistic intent theory of the atonement. Christ aim is to save the sheep (“My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all”) and he will save the sheep (“other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice”).

6. The Sheep are Given to the Shepherd and the Shepherd for the Sheep

The Shepherd’s duty is to save the sheep. Christ states: “Them also I must bring.” Likewise, He states “My Father, which gave them to me.” They are his sheep, with Him leading the way: “when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him.” And furthermore, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” We can also see the same thing negatively put here: “But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not.”

7. The Sheep are the Blind that Now See, the Others Think they See, but do not

Recall how this passage begins. The man born blind is healed, so that he sees and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. The Pharisees do not see, and mockingly ask whether they are blind. Jesus tells them in essence that if they realized they were blind, they would be given sight, but since they think they see, they remain dead in sins.

8. What do the Sheep do right?

– the sheep hear his voice
– the sheep follow him: for they know his voice
– a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
– the sheep did not hear them.
– they shall hear my voice;
– My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me

9. Why don’t others do the same?

“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.”

10. Conclusion

That’s the simple truth of monergistic salvation. The sheep do hear and follow, but they do so because they are the sheep. The others do not, because they are not Christ’s sheep. Christ is our Good Shepherd, who was prophesied by Jacob:

Genesis 49:24 “…from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:”

David also prophesied of Jesus in Psalm 23:

Psalm 23:1 (A Psalm of David.) The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

(Its worth noting as an aside against the Ebionites that this is Jesus being referred to as Jehovah.)

Asaph likewise prophesied of Jesus in Psalm 80:

Psalm 80:1 (To the chief Musician upon Shoshannimeduth, A Psalm of Asaph.) Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth.

Isaiah, that great prophet of God, likewise prophesied:

Isaiah 40:10-11
10Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. 11He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

(again, Jesus is identified with Jehovah)

The weeping prophet, Jeremiah prophesied the same thing:

Jeremiah 31:10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.

Ezekiel also:

Ezekiel 34:12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

It is this Shepherd whom John and the other evangelists preach to you, and which confirmed by the other Scriptures:

Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

1 Peter 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

Let us give thanks unto the Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the Sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

-Turretinfan

The Real Turretin on: The Will of God in Salvation

February 11, 2008

Ismael Hilerio has provided a some reading from the real Turretin on the Will of God in Salvation. (link) This title may whet your theological appetite: “God acts seriously in the calling of reprobates, although he does not intend their salvation

-TurretinFan

What Watson and I believe about the Atonement

January 12, 2008

Thomas Watson writes:

*** Quotation from Body of Divinity ***

Use one: Of instruction. (I.) See into what a wretched deplorable condition we had brought ourselves by sin; we had sinned ourselves into slavery, so that we needed Christ to purchase our redemption. Nihil durius servitute, says Cicero, ‘Slavery is the worst condition.’ Such as are now prisoners in Algiers think it so. But by sin we are in a worse slavery, slaves to Satan, a merciless tyrant, who sports in the damnation of souls. In this condition we were when Christ came to redeem us.

(2.) See in this, as in a transparent glass, the love of Christ to the elect. He came to redeem them; and died intentionally for them. Were it not great love for a king’s son to pay a great sum of money to redeem a captive? But that he should be content to be a prisoner in his stead, and die for his ransom; this were matter of wonder. Jesus Christ has done all this, he has written his love in characters of blood. It had been much for Christ to speak a good word to his Father for us, but he knew that was not enough to redeem us. Though a word speaking made a world, yet it would not redeem a sinner. ‘Without shedding of blood there is no remission.’ Heb 9: 22.

Use two: Of trial. If Christ came to purchase our redemption, then let us try whether we are the persons whom Christ has redeemed from the guilt and curse due to sin. This is a needful trial; for let me tell you, there is but a certain number whom Christ has redeemed. Oh, say sinners, Christ is a redeemer, and we shall be saved by him! Beloved, Christ came not to redeem all, for that would overthrow the decrees of God. Redemption is not as large as creation. I grant there is a sufficiency of merit in Christ’s blood to save all; but there is a difference between sufficiency and efficiency. Christ’s blood is a sufficient price for all, but it is effectual only to them that believe. A plaster may have a sovereign virtue in it to heal any wound, but it does not heal unless applied to the wound. And if it be so, that all have not the benefit of Christ’s redemption, but some only, then it is a necessary question to ask our own souls, Are we in the number of those that are redeemed by Christ or not?

*** End of Quotation ***

(source, with context)

Praise be to our Redeemer!

-Turretinfan

What Dabney and I Believe about the Atonement

January 10, 2008

R. L. Dabney writes:

If you were a soldier and had not deserted the colors of your country, an accepted substitute would free you from all service and punishment. You are guilty of desertion toward God, and are also bound to pay a service to which sin utterly disables you through your own folly and fault. From these obligations Christ frees you, but it is only to bind you to His service more firmly by love. Now you should follow the Captain of your salvation with all your might, longing to follow Him better, not from fear of being shot for desertion (that danger is gone if Christ died for us), nor from fear of losing emoluments (they are already earned for us by our Substitute, and paid in advance to true believers), but because He asks us to follow Him. And now, if we love Him, we would die for Him were it necessary, because He died for us. If we do not love Him, it is proof that He never became our Substitute. “Now are ye My friends, if ye do what-soever I command you.” John xv.14.

(see the entire tract here)

-Turretinfan


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