Tuesday, October 9, 2007

WHO CAN BE SAVED?

Revelation 22:18-19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

These two verses are interesting in so many ways but there is just one aspect of these verses I would like to consider at this time. The idea to consider is that "God shall take away his part out of the book of life". I have searched commentaries and many have either skipped over this or glossed over it. And yet, this single phrase is so bound with truth. The argument amongst many 4pt vs 5pt Calvinists usually exists in the area of the extent of the atonement. This debate not only exists amongst themselves but also amongst Calvinists and non-Calvinists as well. How this phrase is interpreted can tie knots in our theology IF our theology is built more on philosophy than the revealed Word of God. So let us look at this phrase very closely and see what God has revealed to us.

The first clue to the understanding of this phrase is actually in verse 17. The Gospel call is universal in scope and is not bound by any limits whatsoever. "Whosoever will" is as broad a call as a call can be. The call is made to all men without distinction of any sort. The call made to all men is genuine without any reservation of any sort. It is not just a Gospel for the "elect". It is the Gospel for the WHOLE WORLD. The Gospel is Good News TO AND FOR all. How does that impact verse 19 then you may be wondering?

The idea that Christians can lose their salvation is not in sight here, that is one thing that is for sure. But that is NOT the MAIN idea of that phrase. There is a difference between having your name removed verses having your place removed. In the book of life, there is a "place" for all names to be written down. Just because there is a place for that name does not mean that all will be written down. For example, here in Louisiana, when we go to vote, there are many names recorded in a register. The only ones who can vote are those who sign their names in their place. There is the offer to all to vote, but only the signer can vote.(Please do not push this illustration too far, it will fail as will ALL of men's illustrations but its reason for being used illustrates clearly what is being said.) I'll say it once again. The book of life, as it were, has an available place for ALL. The all here is not just without distinction, but all in its entirety. The call of verse 17 illustrates that. However, those who reject the truth of God's word or add to God's word will/can not be saved but not only that, they will LOSE/FORFEIT their opportunity to be saved, their place will be removed. II Thessalonians 2:11-12 teach the same thing. Listen. "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." For what cause? It is mentioned in verse 10 and verse 12. The did not receive or believe the truth! And the sending of the strong delusion is equivalent to having your place removed from the book of life. When that happens, there is no hope of salvation. When the truth of salvation by faith in Jesus is rejected, what other alternative is there to salvation? There is none. God's word teaches that there can come a point in time where a line can be crossed and one can forfeit any hope of ever being saved. Not that they would want to be as is clear from their rejection of the truth and Jesus.

Why then is this important? Because 5pt Calvinism teaches that there is only a chosen group that can be saved and that the others, though the Gospel they may hear, cannot respond nor would they want to respond because they are not among the chosen. I am saying, that is not so. The opportunity for ALL to be saved is apparent in Revelation 22:17-19. I am saying that the Gospel offer to any is a genuine offer and has potential. What the person does in response to that offer is what determines one's eternity.

In conclusion, I am not saying ALL will be saved. I am saying that the opportunity for ALL to be saved is legitimate. There IS NOT a secret list in heaven of those who can be.(while I believe it is known who will be). There IS the book of life. Upon those pages, every human born into this world has a place in the book and the opportunity of having their name written in their place if they will receive/believe the truth. Rejection of that truth can and will result in losing that opportunity and not only that, but the place as well. The Scriptures testify that TO DAY if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts...

24 comments:

Grosey's Messages said...
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Grosey's Messages said...

Sorry Luke I needed to correct some spelling mistakes.
:)
Good rationale there Luke, except just as you said,"In conclusion, I am not saying ALL will be saved. I am saying that the opportunity for ALL to be saved is legitimate. There IS NOT a secret list in heaven of those who can be.(while I believe it is known who will be). "
So there is not that much difference betweens saying that the foreknown list is also the foreordained list.
a 5 point calvinist position does not deny the free offer of the gospel to all, with the real opportunity for any to be saved. The problem is that no one would be saved, except the Father draws him (John 6:37).A real offer does not preclude an unwillingness by man in his sin to refuse that offer.
The difference between calvinism and non calvinism is the very real reliance upon God's enabling for the elect to want to be saved, where they didn't want to be saved prior to the effectual working of God's grace.
Every Blessing Luke, :)

Luke said...

Hey Grosey,

I almost emailed this to you to have you interact with me. Thanks for stopping by. Let me challenge us though.

1. To me, there is a huge difference between the "foreknown list" and the "foreordained list" and it comes from this. I believe that this passage illustrates that provision was made for ALL. That is why there was a "place" to blot out. That is why I see the atonement as being limited only by the ones willing to receive, not in the actual offering of it to and for all.

2. I have no problem in saying that God made the first move or initial action in regards to salvation. Again, this passage states that He reached out to ALL men and had a place for ALL men. Some will receive and have their names written down in their place, others will reject and have their very place blotted out. So I see God as being resistible in his grace by the very one's who are blotted out. He had made provision, they were not willing though He had reached down and out to them.

3. And that difference, at least for me is explained this way. It is the sharing of the Gospel which reveals to men their "snake bitten" condition(John 3:14-15) That is why the compulsion to go and preach is so necessary. It is the Word which stirs up the faith(Romans 12:13) So I do not believe in a secret stirring but a Word stirring thus the evangelistic zeal to spread the Gospel.

By the way, I tried to stick with just my Revelation passage so as to keep it the topic of focus. And verse 17 does just that. The Spirit and THE BRIDE(emphasis mine) say come. It is the Church's obligation to share the Gospel because the Gospel is that which stirs up the faith, let's men know that which they truly thirst for.

One last question to you Grosey. You did know it was coming didn't you? :) John 6:37, why do you make that open to all people when Jesus in John 17:6 saw it as restrictive to just the Disciples among whom was Judas as well. John 17 has a distinctive separation between the disciples(5-19)(24-26) and then us(20-23). It appears to me that John 6:37 is restricted to the 12 as compared to the "Jews" in the passage. The whole debate in chapter 6 was "WHO" Jesus was and "WHERE" He came from. Those who had not truly looked to His Father would not receive Jesus as the Son of God. Added into this chapter is the idea that the Father is drawing but that changes at the Crucifixion where Jesus says that He will then be the One doing the drawing.(John 12:32) If you haven't caught it yet, my dispy is showing through I think.

Grosey, blessings to you through Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who even reached to the down under.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Luke,

I believe the heart of the difference between the Calvinist and non-Calvinist lies in each position's understanding of the Fall.

As a Calvinist, we believe that the Fall was total. When Adam sinned it effected not only his relationship with God, but ours also. It effects our heart, mind, and will. From conception, we are rotten to the very core of our being. Apart from Christ, there is no spiritual goodness in us. Therefore, man in his natural state is utterly incapable and utterly undesirous to put his trust in an infinitely holy God.

Non-Calvinists on the other hand believe that there is still a little bit of good left in our heart. We are just spiritually sick, not dead. God holds the spoon of medicine to our lips, but we have to drink it. Men are then saved by the strength of their own faith. Faith becomes a work.

The bible, however, clearly teaches that we are spiritually dead, not just sick.

"None is righteous, no, not one. no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; togehter they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Romans 2:11-12).

And because of our "deadness", it requires a miraculous resurrection from the dead. A miracle that we can only give praise and glory to our gracious God for.

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved..." (Ephesians 2:4-5)

Over and over in scripture we read that God chose us; that we (believers) are His elect. This may be simple but the word "elect" means chosen. If we choose God, then God becomes the elected one. Just a cursory reading of the bible makes this a nonsense statement. Our chosing of God comes only after His regenerating work on our hearts. He is soverign in salvation. He doesn't just sit in Heaven, hoping that the death of His Son will not be in vain. His Son died to actually save His sheep - those whom he chose before the foundation of the world.

So salvation is not 99% God and 1% man. It is 100% God. It is such a humbling thing to understand - that I deserve hell, and would eternally be there, if not for the amazing grace of my God.

Luke said...

Anonymous,
I do know what Calvinist theology is and I do know what it is not. But none of what you said addresses the Revelation passage. You can disagree with my interpretation but then I will require you to post your own. If you have no interpretation, then my is better than yours by default. And by the way, telling me to read Gill or MacArthur on this passage will do no good either. Both of them gloss over the impact of the passage. Thank you for stopping in though.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hello Luke, Steve and anonymous,

Steve, I have disagree that there would be no difference between a foreknown list and foreordained list, because, theoretically, if God stands independent of both time and space, a foreknown list could be the product of God's foreknowledge of a person's future free choice.

One other thing is that Arminians also do heavily rely upon God's enabling grace (Prevenient Grace), but while insisting that the enabling is not necessarily irresistible. That, then, can raise the issue of the deadness of man in sin, but I wouldn't want to push that so far that the power of the Gospel becomes neutered, or that God is somehow unable to pursuade a lost person to receive Him, by their own free will, without involuntarily changing their mind for them viz. preemptive regeneration.

Another point is that in order for the "offer" of salvation to be a bona fide offer, it must have substance. For instance, imagine if I was to offer you a check for $100.00, but suppose that I also knew that you wouldn't accept it. Therefore, using that knowledge, I could choose to leave the account empty, and the result would be the same. The meaning is that when we offer Jesus in salvation, we don't want to offer a bad check. In other words, Jesus had to have paid the price at Calvary, in full (money in the account), or else the offer of salvation becomes a "empty" offer. In other words, I cannot offer Jesus to someone unless I know for a fact that Jesus literally did pay the price for their salvation. In other words, I believe that by the blood of Christ, God has appropriated redemption in Christ, and whosoever will may come and partake of the redemption that is available, and offered, in Christ. But if a person refuses, then he has not availed himself to the free gift that was so graciously offered, together with God's help to receive it. Now the complaint will be that men need more than just God's "help" and that due to the deadness of man in sin, he needs the "giver of life" to make the decision for him, which I don't feel is Scripture, since I believe that God puts the decision to us in the form of "the offer".

Anyway, sorry to be so verbose. I just kept typing :)

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Luke,

As I read your post, I collected a couple of notes along the way:

1) The phrase, “if any man,” like the word “whosoever,” implies the possibility of both positive and negative response. This is also referred to as "the power of contrary choice." In terms of the word, “whosoever,” John Goodwin (a puritan of the 16th century, contemporary with Arminius, and with a similar testimony, comments on John 3:16's use of the word "whosoever": “...Suppose a great king having many sons, should express himself thus: ‘I so love my children, that whosoever of them shall be dutiful unto me; I will bestow principalities, dukedoms, or other great matters upon them.’ Should he not plainly imply a possibility, at least, that some of them might not prove dutiful unto him? In like manner, if the word world, in the Scripture in hand, should signify the elect, the distributive, whosoever, must needs imply that some of these elect might possibly not believe, and so perish; because believing, and not believing, and not perishing thereupon, occasions the distribution here made.” (Redemption Redeemed, p.24)

2) Not all “will” be saved, but all “can” be saved, and that being by the grace of God who seeks, draws, knocks, pierces, pricks and convicts lost hearts.

As for the issue of the Book of Life, and whether it refers to a "place" being removed, this I've honestly never considered. Before proceeding, I'd like for you to check out a particular link, and tell me your thoughts, as it relates to the Book of Life:

http://www.letusreason.org/Doct5.htm

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/NT/Rev13_8.html

If you read through the explanation given by "Let Us Reason" Ministries, you can then see how I've adapted it in my own writeup. Essentially, he draws a distinction between the Lamb's Book of Life and the Book of Life. These are both discussed in different passages of Scripture. It's funny how you are going through this puzzle because I recall my own search too. One person kept giving me conflicting answers, and then after reading the link from "Let Us Reason," it seemed to make sense. Let me know what your thoughts are.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

I'll cut & paste, one particular blurb:

Psalm 69:28 and Exodus 32:32-33 refer to the Book of Life which is distinct from the Lamb’s Book of Life. The Lamb’s Book is the Book of the Redeemed, and names are added as people become saved (i.e. "from the foundation of the world" meaning from the time of Genesis to present). The Book of Life is the book of all that ever lived, and the wicked have their names blotted out of it. Revelation 20:15 states: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Let Us Reason Ministries explains the differences in the two books: “Those who received Christ have their name written in his book of life (the lambs book) and it is retained in the book of life. Those who reject him, never have their name written in his book. Their name is also removed from the book of life, of which everyone’s name is written down that ever lived. The other books mentioned are the biographies of the individual. The times they heard the Gospel and rejected it, their good and bad deeds that will determine their degree of punishment, not their salvation. God has perfect record keeping.” (Let Us Reason Ministries)

Luke said...

Richard,

I'm thinking, don't rush me. :) Just wanted you to know I'm looking at the book issue in greater detail. Thanks for the links.

Luke said...
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Luke said...

*UPDATE*
Let me try again. The Second LINK posted by CalvinismExamined should be:

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/
files/NT/Rev13_8.html

It was missing the html and would not take you to the appropriate link.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Luke,

Once you're done solving the puzzle of the Books, you can solve the meaning behind the lone Bible reference to "the chosen angels," as per 1st Timothy 5:21.

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/Paul/1Tim5_21.html

Luke said...

Richard,
I am not thoroughly complete with the book idea but upon examination of this revelation passage again, I'm leaning towards my original assertion. The reason is because of the phrase also states that the person who does this will not only have his/her part taken out of the book of life but out of the holy city as well and not only that but the things that are written in the book of Revelation which in this case would refer to the blessings, of which there are 7. Hence, that if their part is removed from the holy city as well, in order for them to be removed, they had to have a part. And of the "non-elect" as addressed in Calvinism, they never had a part to begin with.

As far as the one verse wonder about "elect angels", I'll just go with your link for the time being.

I'm gonna go read some more of Geisler's "Chosen but Free" now. It is pretty interesting.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Luke,

You wrote: "If their part is removed from the holy city as well, in order for them to be removed, they had to have a part."

I agree, and that's evidence that there is no one who was ever born "non-elect" or "passed-by", which serves as further evidence that God has a wonderful plan for everyone (perhaps in this life, but especially in the next).

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Luke,

In a book where Jesus warns against adding and subtracting, wouldn't you naturally expect people to be extra careful about, for instance, adding the word "before"?, such as at Revelation 13:8? People sometimes amaze me:

"All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain."

WARNING: Don't insert "before".

A lot of people simply do not realize that "from the foundation of the world" means from Genesis to present, rather than from pre-Genesis. See for Luke 11:49-51 for a perfect example.

P.S. I linked your post to my writeup. I think that you hit a Home Run here.

Luke said...

Richard,

I'm still trying to find online some/any detailed information as to why the ESV(english standard version) changed "From" to "Before". From all that I have been able to gather, this was an "interpretive" move rather than a "translation" move. I believe that theology guided their call in the Revelation 13 passage. As I said though, I have been unable to find direct information directly relating as to why the translators did that. Perhaps they were using another text but none of the ones I looked at in the gk text had the word "before" in them. I'll keep up my search. Here is a link for anyone wanting to begin looking at the ESV.

http://www.esv.org/translation
/philosophy

Thank you for the plug. I do like interaction with what I write here. And, I haven't forgotten about the "books", I'm still chewing on that one. I may even use that for an upcoming post just to get my ideas out there and on paper.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Luke,

I did not mean to insult your intelligence with my previous post. My point was simply that I believed that you were using the Revelation passage to support a false premise.

I believe you misunderstand Calvinism if you believe that it teaches that the Gospel call is for the elect only. We believe that there is a general call to salavation to everyone who hears the Gospel. However, because of our fallen condition it is ineffectual apart from the grace of God.

Now to the Revelation passage. You make much of the word "place" in verse 19. I believe the same idea is conveyed in Rev 22:14. There we read that "those who wash their robes" have the right to the tree of life (ESV). Notice the logical order, purification (or salvation) and then the receipt of the right. So, we can conclude that those with the right, or share, or place in the tree of life are believers.

We don't have to guess what John meant by "place." He has already defined it earlier in the book. Those with the right to the tree of life are believers, the Church, the elect of God. Anyone that takes away the words of the book, is not part of the true Church. They may be members of a local church, and look the part of a believer. But when they claim greater knowledge than what has been revealed in scripture, they show themselves to be false professors of the faith. They then should be removed from the Church, beacause they have no legitimate place in the tree of life.

Luke said...

Anonymous,
Once again, you have failed to address the phrase, "have his part removed". To say he did not really have a part because he was a faker and then to say what he didn't have, a part, is removed is silly. That would be like me telling you I am gonna steal an automobile that you do not have. I cannot take what you do not have. You cannot lose what you do not have.

As pertaining to whom the Gospel is to be preached. Notice the title of this post. "Who can be saved?" As a Calvinist, you cannot say everybody or anybody, you can only say the elect. OR you hold to a much different Calvinism than most who claim the title. Calvinism teaches that only the elect can be saved, as a consequence of the fact that as you believe that Christ only died for the elect. I believe that the Scriptures teach that ALL, not solely without distinction, but all as in all, CAN be saved AND that Christ died for EVERY man/woman of earth. But back to the passage.

Those who have a right to the tree of life and the holy city are those whose names have been written down.(I'm not giving in on that yet Richard) :) (I think 20:14 makes this plain. To me anyways.) Or as you have stated, washed their robes. Why can they enter in? Because their place was not removed. In fact, their place was secured WHEN they believed/received Jesus. Their names were written down. Why can the others not enter in? Because when the book of life is opened, 20:14, their name is not written down. And for those in that situation, it is because they either subtracted from or added to God's Word.

So yes, we do need to understand what "place" actually means. In THIS passage, it is in reference to those who will add/subtract from the Word of God. What kind of a threat would it be to tell a person who had no part that their part would be removed? AND what kind of a threat would it be to tell a person that CANNOT believe that they have to believe or else?

That is the difference between where you and I are coming from. And as of yet, your dealing with verse 19 has not addressed the issue how a part,as you say, that does not exist, can be removed. Calling them pretenders does not address the text of this passage.


PS: You'll have to do a little better than that if you want to insult me. In other words, twice you have presumed something about me. One, that I do not understand Calvinism and Two, that you know my feelings. And so as is my habit to show that I am neither angry or insulted, I should have but failed to insert a smiley. Here's one looking at ya! :) And with the same sincere heart as my friend Grosey(we are still friends huh Grosey?) May God's blessings be bountiful upon you!

Luke said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to address your "Church" passage. I do not equate the Physical city with its inhabitants. And so while I do understand what you are saying, I must add that I believe that the new Jerusalem is a PHYSICAL place, especially in light of(no pun)verses 11 through the end of the chapter.
Verse 2 makes that clear when it says that the new Jerusalem came down "AS" a Bride adorned for her husband. In other words, it wasn't a bride, it was just filled with glorious splendor.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Luke,

Do all have a "place" in the Kingdom of God, though either may accept or reject it?

Consider the parable of the Marriage Feast. Luke, take a look at these few brief comments on that Parable, which I feel further proves your point:

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/Gospels/Matthew22_2.html

In addition, whatever thoughts that you provide, I'd be more than happy to quote you.

Richard Coords

Luke said...

I apologize for not responding yet Richard. I am in the middle of welding a frame for a basketball goal and it is taking most of my week to get the thing up. I believe the Matthew 22 passage is very telling in that the very ones bidden would not come. Verse 10 has a very interesting quality to itself all on its own. I will endeavor to give this more time before the week is out. Right now, it looks like I have more responsibilities than time(ministry related), but I will give this a much more detailed response.

Thanks for your encouragement. I hope to write soon.

Anonymous said...

Luke,

Extremely interesting topic. I don't have the entire concept of the 2 books and everything worked through yet but I am working on it. It's stretching my noggin a little bit.
Yesterday at Sunday school and then today reading through the comments a thought came to me about Calvin followers and their focus on grace. It almost seems that they idolize grace to the point idolotry. To where they focus so much on grace that it stands in front of the grace giver. Am I inaccurate??

Joy382

Luke said...

Joy382,
It would be fair to say that Calvinists of all flavors would not agree with your statement. However, that does not mean that your statement is false either. There are some who would agree that it would appear that they seem to focus more on the grace than the Giver and yet over all, I believe that your statement would be inconsistent with Calvinism.

So, there are some individuals I have dealt with that I would say your statement would have applied to them or have been very close to applying to them. But there are many others, like Grosey, who I would say that your statement is far from being applicable.

Perhaps, a better way of stating this so that the Calvinist would not feel like he/she is being attacked would be to say that you have noticed that some hold to a theology more than a relationship with Jesus. That statement would also apply to many other groups as well.

Thanks for stopping in and commenting. Hopefully, this week will be freed up as compared to last week and I'll be able to begin regular posting again.

www.examiningcalvinism.com said...

Hey Luke,

One person wrote: "We believe that there is a general call to salvation to everyone who hears the Gospel. However, because of our fallen condition it is ineffectual apart from the grace of God."

Yes, but how can he invite anyone, indiscriminately, to salvation, if Jesus did not procure salvation for everyone? Consider the apostle, Paul. Not only did he offer salvation to the Jailor, but he also offered it to his family, without knowing WHO was in his family, or HOW MANY PEOPLE were in his family. That proves that salvation is available to all, and for it to be available for all, it had to be procured for all. That's why there has to be an unlimited atonement. You can easily get off on a tangent abount an unlimited atonement, but Paul's account reinforces what we already know from Numbers 21:6-9 as it relates to John 3:14.

Luke,

I need for you to review an article on Acts 16:30, concerning the Jailor.

http://www.examiningcalvinism.com/files/NT/Acts16_30.html

Thanks,
Richard