Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Will, Free or Enslaved?

In the discussion in the comments section last week, the question of man’s free will came up. Does the Bible teach that man has a free will? And, if man’s will is not free, are we therefore just robots? I want to briefly address this before moving on to God’s unconditional election, as it is really part of the argument for the Total Depravity of Man.

First, we need to define what we mean by “free will.” Here’s one definition: free will noun 1: voluntary choice or decision “I do this of my own free will” 2: freedom of humans to make choices that are not determined by prior causes or by divine intervention ("free will." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2009. Merriam-Webster Online. 3 August 2009 ) I would contend that the Bible teaches that, by the first definition, man does have free will, but man does not have free will by the second.

It is clear from the Bible that we all make the choices we make of our own volition, but it is also clear that our very nature makes it impossible for us to make choices other than the ones we make. Our sin nature would be classified as a “prior cause” under this definition. The Bible teaches that we have a will, but it is a will enslaved to sin, and this concept is found clearly in Romans 6.

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification. For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. (Romans 6:17-22)

In this passage, Paul, clearly identifies the unregenerate (and the regenerate prior salvation) as being in a condition of enslavement to sin. What does it mean to be enslaved to sin? In his commentary on Romans, John MacArthur puts it this way:

“(T)he unregenerate person is under the continual, unbroken slavery of sin. That is the universal position of the natural man, with no exceptions. No matter how outwardly moral, upright, or benevolent an unsaved person’s life may be, all that he thinks, says, and does emanates from a proud, sinful, ungodly heart. Quoting from Psalm 14, Paul had already made that truth clear. ‘As it is written, “there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for god; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good there is not even one”’ (Romans 3:10-12)” (MacArthur, John. Romans [volume 1]. Chicago: Moody Press, 1991. Page 346)

So the unregenerate will is unable to do good, nor is it able to change itself from bad to good. As it says in Jeremiah 13:23, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil.” That seems to be a pretty clear declaration that we are unable to change ourselves. Do you see how clearly this fits with the Ephesians 2 concept of being “dead in our trespasses and sins”?

Unfortunately, while grappling with this issue, many people erroneously reach the conclusion that Biblical predestination is deterministic fatalism. However, this is not the case. You see, the Scriptures make two things very clear; 1) God is a personal God, and not an impersonal force. He takes a personal interest in guiding and watching over each and every one of us. And 2) man is never portrayed as a robot, but as a being freely choosing his actions, and fully deserving the consequences of his actions. The invitation of the gospel is truly offered to all men. The problem is that all men, each and every one of us, would, if left on our own, freely reject that offer.

Fatalism also carries with it the idea that, no matter what we do, our actions cannot affect the predetermined outcome. But on the contrary, the Bible teaches that we are real people making real choices that do indeed affect the outcome. Our choices have consequences.

The Bible teaches that man has a will; it just is not a free will. In fact, you might say that man’s willfulness is a big part of man’s sinfulness. We are willfully disobedient to God. So where did this idea of a free will come from? The answer seems to lie more in philosophy than in Scripture. The idea goes something like this, “God gives a command | God holds man responsible for obeying the command | Therefore man must have the ability to obey the command in order to be held responsible for it.” Neat idea, but it isn’t found in the Bible.

The problem with this argument is that man is capable of understanding God’s commands; he simply chooses not to obey. This can be easily demonstrated by taking any group of people through a detailed study of the 10 Commandments. Everybody in the group, Baring severe physiological mental incapacity, will understand that stealing is wrong, yet all in the group will have willfully taken something at some time that they knew was not theirs. And, truthfully, the same can be demonstrated for the other nine commandments as well.

John Macarthur puts it this way, “the unsaved person is not free to do good or evil as he chooses. He is bound and enslave to sin, and the only thing he can do is to sin. His only choices have to do with when, how, why, and to what degree he will sin.” (MacArthur. Romans. Page 344)

Let’s be honest, the truth is that without God’s gracious restraint imposed upon us, we would all be much, much worse than we are.

So, in a nutshell, what the Bible says is this: that man is sinful, lost, and hell bound, and there is nothing he can do about it. This is the bad news that makes the Gospel truly the “good news” that it really is! And until and unless we can truly convey this lostness to the people we are evangelizing, they will not accept just how in need of help they really are.

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26 comments:

Jennie said...

Squirrel,
I had commented about my husband's predestination study on your post about 'who controls salvation?' He has condensed it into one part, by the way. He talks about the part that our will plays or does not play in salvation, and I think he brings out some good insights from scripture about the issues of election, predestination, and will.
And like I said, if you like, we can discuss it on my blog on the new post.

Jennie said...

One thing that occurs to me about 'free will' is that we can choose by our will to do evil or to do good deeds, but our good deeds are not able to save us. They are filthy rags; and we are still slaves to sin even when we do good things. The only way we can be free is to submit to God when we hear His word and give up our own will. Then by grace through faith we are justified by faith and then can LIVE BY FAITH, and not by our own power. The Spirit in us brings out good works as we walk in Him by faith.

The Squirrel said...

Jennie, the error lies in thinking that our "good deeds" are in any way good. That is the whole problem. For the unregenerate sinner, helping a little old lady across the street or donating millions to help orphans is are sinful acts. They can be nothing else, since they are not done for the glory of God.

It isn't just that our "good deeds" cannot save us, we must see that they also condemn us, since they are sinful.

~Squirrel

Jennie said...

Yes, 'whatever is not of faith is sin.' So even much of what we try to do as believers is sin.

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe said...

Oh...so even our good deeds are SINS? While I perfectly understand that my good deeds are as filthy rags compared to the goodness and holiness of God, and can never save me (or keep me saved, because I am saved and kept by grace through faith), I have never heard that they are SINS.

Of course, God doesn't even WANT them if we are going to live a filthy life and are just doing them for religion to appease Him.

Then, after I'm saved, my good deeds are good deeds? But sometimes they are sin, too? How do I know the difference?

Cornelius's alms went up before God (Acts). Of course, they could not save him, and he was told what he must do (believe the Gospel). But his alms were never referred to as sin. Seemed to me like they were noted by God as good deeds (not that they could save him).

So, (I'm trying to wrap my mind around this, not be sarcastic): I have inherited total depravity. I am on my way to hell because I am totally depraved, but there is nothing I can do about it. God tells me to do right, but I can't...ever. Even what I do what is right, it isn't really right, it is really sin. Then, Christ died for the elect, but I can't know if I am the elect...all I can do is hope or assume that I've won the Christian lottery. I'm supposed to go out and preach the Gospel if I assume that I am one of the people who has won the Christian lottery, but those people that I preach to can't do anything about their lost situation, either, or respond to this Gospel. They have to win the Christian lottery, too. Then, those of us who have won the lottery do good deeds, which are now not sin, but sometimes they are sin if they don't come from faith, whatever that means. How do you know if your deeds are proceeding from faith? How do I know they are not really sins, since I'm still totally depraved and still many times don't have pure motives. Should I not do anything until I have pure motives?

Jennie said...

Mary,
I think that Cornelius would have been looked at by God as a faithful Israelite before Christ died, who is saved by faith because he looked for the Messiah. So he just needed to hear the word and he was ready to obey and submit to Christ. So he was walking by faith and pleasing God.
So we after we are saved must still walk by faith in submission to God's word as we abide in it. When we try to be like the Galatians (see the following passages) we are trying to return to doing works under our own power instead of by submission. For example (and I have just begun to understand this, and haven't quite figured out how it practically works) if I think I need to do everything everybody asks me to do in Church and feel guilty if I don't then I may be walking in the flesh and not resting in faith and submission. Jesus said 'My yoke is easy and My burden is light.' So I am just starting to understand, as my husband has been teaching us, how to walk in this. We learn from His word and submit to it and obey it as He teaches us what to do. we don't rush around trying to please Him and wearing ourselves out, like Martha. Mary sat at His feet and learned from Him, His word.

Romans 14:23
23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

1 Cor. 3:
9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Galatians 2:
19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Gal. 3:
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?

Lockheed said...

http://purgatorio1.com/?p=854 <-- reminded me of you.

Lockheed said...

"...our good deeds are not able to save us. They are filthy rags; and we are still slaves to sin even when we do good things. "

But prior to being regenerated (born again [John 3], life from death [Eph 2], spiritually resurrected etc), the book of Romans tells us that those who are in the flesh (that is, spiritually dead) are hostile toward God, do not seek God, and do not and CANNOT submit to God's law.

Thus, the deeds unbelievers do are in no way considered "good", as they are always done in opposition to God. Their will then is properly said to be enslaved to sins. As Christ himself explained.

Believers, however, have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them and their desires and actions are different than those of unbelievers. That said, it is important to acknowledge that in the realm of salvation their works do not contribute to their salvation but rather are as fruit from a tree.

It is true that in the overview of works, even the good works of believers are as filthy rags in comparison to the perfection of Christ, but that specifically relates to salvation. Just because this is true, we should still be diligent to be obedient to God. (NOT that anyone claimed otherwise here.)

Lockheed said...

"...so even our good deeds are SINS?

I think the issue here is that the post is specifically relating to unbelievers not believers. The "good works" that unbelievers do are in fact sinful in essence, since they come from a sinful heart. That doesn't mean that they aren't in some way civilly lawful or helpful, but that they in no way obtain the righteousness of Christ required to be considered good on God's scale of reckoning. The good works the believers do are tainted by sin, but are not in and of themselves sins.

Then, Christ died for the elect, but I can't know if I am the elect...all I can do is hope or assume that I've won the Christian lottery.

I find this kind of talk highly offensive. God's sovereign choice of whom to save is not a lottery, it is not random, not based on mathematics... it is a merciful, gracious, sovereign act of God that we cannot at this point in time understand. To call it a lottery is disgusting.

The Biblical position is this...

All have sinned.

No one deserves saving.

God chooses, mercifully, to save some undeserved sinners according to his plan and purpose.

Those who are saved are so saved not because they were able to figure out the Gospel, were better prepared, were more spiritual... they were in fact the least and foremost of sinners, deserving hell with the rest of mankind.

Let me pull apart your questions/thoughts:

I have inherited total depravity. I am on my way to hell because I am totally depraved, but there is nothing I can do about it.

God chose Adam to represent you in the Garden. We must trust that God, omniscient as He is, chose Adam knowing that he would do what all of us would.

Adam, as our representative, sinned, and we, in some mysterious way, sinned with him. Consider it like a king who declares war on another nation... everyone in that king's nation is therefore at war with the other, even those born into the war. We might not like the terms, but that's the case. Scripture tells us we are at enmity with God as unbelievers. We are hostile toward Him. And this is because, Romans 5 tells us, by one transgression the many were made sinners.

... but those people that I preach to can't do anything about their lost situation, either, or respond to this Gospel.

God uses our preaching of the Gospel as the means by which to convert the elect. As it is written "as many as were appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:48). Romans tells us that "faith comes by hearing... the word of the Lord", thus God sends his preachers to tell others the good news of the Gospel and by that preaching the Spirit opens the hearts/ears of those hearing and saves the elect.

Then, those of us who have won the lottery do good deeds, which are now not sin, but sometimes they are sin if they don't come from faith, whatever that means. How do you know if your deeds are proceeding from faith?

Christians, though righteous by faith in Christ, are yet still sinners when they disobey the Law of God. Luther saw we were "Simul Iustus et Peccator", simultaneously justified yet sinners.

Gal 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Gal 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

As a believer we must learn through walking by faith, discipline, and knowing God's Word to do what is right.

How do I know they are not really sins, since I'm still totally depraved and still many times don't have pure motives. Should I not do anything until I have pure motives?

Believers are not totally depraved.

Total depravity describes the condition of the unregenerate before they come under the hearing of the Gospel and are regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Jennie said...

I think the Old Testament saints and people like Cornelius are proof AGAINST total depravity. They walked by faith in God's word even though they weren't regenerated by the Holy Spirit. They looked forward to Christ's sacrifice by faith, and when He came they were in paradise ready to receive Him when He came to preach to them. Cornelius lived by faith and was ready to receive the word by faith when it came by Peter. He was not regenerate until he received the word but he did good by faith in God as the saved Israelites did before Christ died.

Jennie said...

None of these had the Spirit IN them, and so were not regenerate, but the Spirit had by His word opened their eyes and they believed as much as they knew by faith.

Jennie said...

So Cornelius was not regenerate until Peter taught him the gospel, but neither was he a reprobate because of his faith.

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe said...

I'm sorry if I offended by saying "Christian lottery". My intent was not to offend, and I'm sorry if it sounds disgusting, but that is the best I can come up with in layman's terms. Really. I mean, if I have no responsibility at all, I can't think of a better analogy than that. I'm truly sorry for the offense, it SOUNDS random.

And, I hear many Reformed Christians say that they ARE, not WERE, totally depraved. Lots of them say, "I AM totally depraved."

I understand "justified yet still a sinner." That's what I believe, it is Biblical.

I know that good deeds cannot save us or keep us saved, not even people like Mother Theresa.

Jennie, I thought that the verse about whatever we do that is not proceeding from faith is sin, is talking about doing things that some people think are sins, but the Bible doesn't say that they are. If you think they are wrong, and do them anyway, like drinking wine or something, then for you, they are sins.

If you are convinced in your heart that they are permissible, you can do them, but only if you have faith that they are not sins. I don't think the passage is talking about good deeds at all.

God provides good deeds for us to walk in. This takes obedience, and sometimes sacrifice.

This reformed faith seems very, very complicated to me, where the Bible lays out salvation very simply: I have a sinful nature; I can't save myself; but I CAN do something about it -- I can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, and He gives me the measure of faith to be able to do it.

Jennie said...

Mary,
I agree that in the context, the statement 'whatever is not of faith is sin' is talking about what you said; but I think it still applies to what I said. Whatever is not done by faith, in the Spirit, is done for sinful motives. These works will be burned up, but what is done by the Spirit, by faith, will last forever.

Lockheed said...

I think the Old Testament saints and people like Cornelius are proof AGAINST total depravity. They walked by faith in God's word even though they weren't regenerated by the Holy Spirit.

Uh... what makes you think they weren't regenerated by the Holy Spirit? The OT saints and Cornelius had heard the ~Word~ preached and were faithful to it.

Remember, Paul's evidence for depravity and the inability of men comes FROM the Old Testament. "No one seeks for God... no not one".

Faith in Christ isn't one more law people can keep that will save them, rather, faith in Christ is a supernatural response of newly spiritually resurrected people in all generations.

None of these had the Spirit IN them, and so were not regenerate, but the Spirit had by His word opened their eyes and they believed as much as they knew by faith.

If one is not regenerated, they remain dead. The opposite of re-generation is de-generation... life vs death.

Regeneration in the New Covenant era includes a different empowering of the Spirit than in the OC era, but it is the same process. This is why Paul speaks of a "circumcision made without hands" and points out that "they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel".

In fact, the spirit/flesh discussion of Romans 9 is in fact speaking of the same spirit/flesh distinction of Romans 8 (logically). Isaac, Jacob, etc are examples of regenerate Old Covenant elect, just as those who believe in Christ are the New Covenant elect. Yes, there is a difference in the working of the Spirit in the New Covenant, but that covenant of grace was alluded to in Gen 3 and enacted in fullness for Abraham in Gen 15.

Therefore it is not as if regeneration is only a new thing.

Lockheed said...

This reformed faith seems very, very complicated to me, where the Bible lays out salvation very simply: I have a sinful nature; I can't save myself; but I CAN do something about it -- I can believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, and He gives me the measure of faith to be able to do it.

I believe it sounds "complicated" only because Arminian tradition is pounded into us from our early days as Christians.

There is nothing complicated about it, honestly, and I believe a lot of argument against it comes from traditionally American-viewpoints of free will, individual freedom and responsibility rather than looking at what Scripture ACTUALLY SAYS about the issues.


The whole argument is that you CANNOT do anything about it (as an unregenerate, unbeliever) and in fact you don't want to.

Let me show you this in Romans 8. Please walk thru it with me and see how simple it is.

3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

The law made no one righteous, ever, the law could not put away sin. But God did this by sending Christ.

4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Paul begins to express the dichotomy between the flesh/spirit. The law is fulfilled in us (by faith in Christ) who walk by the Spirit.

5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

The dichotomy is more clearly explained. Flesh vs Spirit... Paul will carry this theme on into Romans 9 explaining that those of the Spirit are the predestined elect.

6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

The mind set on the flesh... is death. Unregenerate, at war with God.

7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Look at the language Paul uses here to describe the people of the flesh. Hostile toward God, not subjecting itself to God's law, even UNABLE to do so.

Is THIS how YOU describe unbelievers?!

Now before you argue that this is talking about different kinds of believers or something, read thru it again and recognize that the difference between the people of flesh and those of Spirit are explained in v9:

9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

The difference between those in the Spirit and the flesh is that those with the Spirit HAVE THE SPIRIT IN THEM and ARE OF CHRIST. Those in the flesh do not have the Spirit and are not of Christ whatsoever.

... ok ...

So the message is this:

1) God made man
2) man (in Adam) sinned
3) God CHOSE TO SAVE
4) God SENT JESUS
5) Jesus DIED to SAVE
6) God SAVES some of the race of Adam who are his enemies.

See, your system requires people to become God's friends FIRST, but Scripture tells us that God saves us while we were yet enemies of him.

The Squirrel said...

Hey, everybody.

I don't have a lot of time tonight, so this is just a real quick set of comments.

Mary:"my good deeds are as filthy rags compared to the goodness and holiness of God"

Isaiah actually says that, "all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment" and there is no mention of "in comparison to" at all. He does not say that the cloth itself is worthless or useless, but that it is in such a state of filthiness that it is useless while it remains in this condition. And, if I may carry the analogy just a bit further, laundry does not wash itself.

Also, Mary, you've used the phrase "Christian Lottery" a few times to describe God's election of sinners to salvation. A lottery is a chance, random process, does that describe any of God's attributes to you? God is purposeful in His election and there is no reason to believe otherwise. I'll be dealing with election in another post soon.

"but I can't know if I am the elect..."

I do not know where this is coming from. The Bible clearly says that all who believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and put their faith in Him shall be saved. Anyone who does this is of the elect. Is that difficult?

~Squirrel

Jennie said...

Following are some passages that together support the idea that the Old Testament saints were not regenerated until Christ died and descended into the lower parts of the earth (where Hades was, which included both paradise and a place of suffering) and preached to the spirits there. Those who had waited for Him by faith were led forth and many appeared to people in Jerusalem. The inference is that they had not been in heaven yet because Christ had not yet died for their sins. If they were regenerate already, they would have been in heaven. Also, the veil between God and man had not been torn until Christ's death; I don't believe their salvation was complete until then. This is all only inferred from all these passages, but put all together it makes sense.

Matt. 27:
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Ephesians 4:8-10
8Therefore it says,
"WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH,
HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES,
AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN."

9(Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?

10He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)

2 Corinthians 5:
8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

1 Peter 4:
6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Hebrews 10:
1 For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. 2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

I found this note referring to Matthew Henry's view on the resurrection of the OT saints after Jesus' death:
Matthew Henry suggest that these resurrected saints ascended with Christ to glory, although this is simply an inference." (Annotation of Harold Linsell, in Harper’s Bible Study, Revised Standard Version.)

Matthew Henry’s precise words are: "But it is more agreeable, both to Christ’s honor and theirs, to suppose, though we cannot prove, that they arose as Christ did, to die no more, and therefore ascended with him to glory. ... These saints that arose, were the present trophies of the victory of Christ’s cross over the powers of death, which he thus made a show openly. Having by death destroyed him that had the power of death, he thus led captivity captive, and glorified in these re-taken prizes, in them fulfilling the scriptures, I will ransom them from the power of the grave." (See Hosea 13:14.)

2. It is obvious that Matthew Henry and maybe others of the foregoing in (c) think in terms of "leading captivity captive" in Ephesians 4:8.

The Squirrel said...

One more quick thought, then I've got to dash off to bed.

When I say that our deeds are sinful, that is not to say that they are outright sins, but rather that they are tainted through and through with sin in concept, motivation, attitude, and action.

Prior to salvation, we are totally depraved, but even after we have been redeemed, we are still in a struggle with our old natures. That is why we can say that our salvation is an event, a process, and a promise all at the same time.

It is an event when we are born again, redeemed and saved from the penalty of our sins and given eternal life. This is Justification.

It is a process as we are being saved from the power of sin. When, each and every day, we are conformed less and less to this world and more and more to the likeness of Christ. This is Sanctification.

It is a promise because, one day, we will be saved from the very presence of sin and our struggle with our old nature will be over. This is Glorification.

~Squirrel

Paul said...

Jennie said:
Matt. 27:
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.


"Those who had waited for Him by faith were led forth and many appeared to people in Jerusalem. The inference is that they had not been in heaven yet because Christ had not yet died for their sins. If they were regenerate already, they would have been in heaven."

It does not say in the text who these saints were or when they had died. When they appeared to the people in Jerusalem how did they know these were saints? Did they wear name tags or carry signs? Could they have been newly departed and recognized by those who had known them?

"If they were regenerate already, they would have been in heaven."

Not bodily. That only happens at the resurrection.

Paul said...

1 Peter 4:
6 For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Jennie,
here is a balanced explanation of this passage.

From The ESV Study Bible:
1Peter 4:6
the gospel was preached even to those who are dead. Although some maintain that Peter offers a second chance after death for those who rejected Christ, this view is untenable since it contradicts both the clear teaching of Scripture throughout the rest of the Bible (e.g., Luke 16:26; Heb. 9:27; see note on 1 Pet. 3:19) and the immediate context, concerning the importance of perseverance of believers (4:1–6) and the coming judgment of “the living and the dead” (v. 5). Given the immediate context, “those who are dead” refers to Christians to whom “the gospel was preached” when they were alive but who have since died. This fits with the meaning of “dead” in v. 5. Even though believers will experience physical death (i.e., they are judged in the flesh the way people are), believers who have died live in the spirit the way God does (that is, they live in heaven now, and they will live as well at the resurrection when Christ returns).

Paul said...

1 Peter 3:19
spirits in prison. There is much debate about the identity of these spirits. The Greek term pneuma (“spirit”), in either singular or plural, can mean either human spirits or angels, depending on the context (cf. Num. 16:22; 27:16; Acts 7:59; Heb. 12:23; etc.). Among the three most common interpretations, the first two fit best with the rest of Scripture and with historic orthodox Christian doctrine. These are:

(1) The first interpretation understands “spirits” (Gk. pneumasin, plural) as referring to the unsaved (human spirits) of Noah's day. Christ, “in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18), proclaimed the gospel “in the days of Noah” (v. 20) through Noah. The unbelievers who heard Christ's preaching “did not obey . . . in the days of Noah” (v. 20) and are now suffering judgment (they are “spirits in prison,” v. 19). Several reasons support this view: (a) Peter calls Noah a “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), where “herald” represents Greek kēryx, “preacher,” which corresponds to the noun kēryssō, “proclaim,” in 1 Pet. 3:19. (b) Peter says the “Spirit of Christ” was speaking through the OT prophets (1:11); thus Christ could have been speaking through Noah as an OT prophet. (c) The context indicates that Christ was preaching through Noah, who was in a persecuted minority, and God saved Noah, which is similar to the situation in Peter's time: Christ is now preaching the gospel through Peter and his readers (v. 15) to a persecuted minority, and God will save them.

Paul said...

(2) In the second interpretation, the spirits are the fallen angels who were cast into hell to await the final judgment. Reasons supporting this view include: (a) Some interpreters say that the “sons of God” in Gen. 6:2–4 are angels (see note on Gen. 6:1–2) who sinned by cohabiting with human women “when God's patience waited in the days of Noah” (1 Pet. 3:20). (b) Almost without exception in the NT, “spirits” (plural) refers to supernatural beings rather than people (e.g., Matt. 8:16; 10:1; Mark 1:27; 5:13; 6:7; Luke 4:36; 6:18; 7:21; 8:2; 10:20; 11:26; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 19:12, 13; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 16:13–14; cf. Heb. 1:7). (c) The word “prison” is not used elsewhere in Scripture as a place of punishment after death for human beings, while it is used for Satan (Rev. 20:7) and other fallen angels (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). In this case the message that Christ proclaimed is almost certainly one of triumph, after having been “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18).

Paul said...

(3) In a third view, some have advocated the idea that Christ offered a second chance of salvation to those in hell. This interpretation, however, is in direct contradiction with other Scripture (cf. Luke 16:26; Heb. 9:27) and with the rest of 1 Peter and therefore must be rejected on biblical and theological grounds, leaving either of the first two views as the most likely interpretation.

Lockheed said...

Firstly, the Peter passage specifically mentions ONLY THOSE who were DISOBEDIENT during the DAYS OF NOAH. There is no suggestion of a call of Christ to some OT saints after his death any where in Scripture. Scripture instead tells us that after he had made the sacrifice on the cross he sat down at the right hand of the Father. (Heb 1:3, 10:12)

In fact, that passage is better explained as pointing to the Spirit's preaching of the Gospel through Noah (2 Pet 2:5).

So again, the whole point here is ONE PLAN of salvation throughout history. There was no plan A/B in this. God saves thru regeneration from Genesis to Revelation.

Lockheed said...

Eph 4 doesn't talk about Jesus descending in to hell or something, rather, look at the context:

7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it says,
"When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men."

This has nothing to do with some post-mortem preaching, rather this is an expression of God's saving US SLAVES. WE are the captives, WE are the ones who were given gifts. We're one and the same.