“I am determined to get well”: Yep, you are – to get well or not to.

“Happy enough is the man who is chosen of God; he may not ask a question as to when or where. Yet we could wish it were otherwise in our case, and that zeal and fervour were not restrained and hampered by being yoked to painful infirmities of the flesh. We could do more, and we think we may add, without self-confidence, we would do more, if we were not laid prostrate at the very moment when our work requires our presence. However, unto the Lord be the arrangement of our health or disease, our life or our death ; but while we live, we will leave no stone unturned for the increase of His glorious Kingdom “in the earth. Every interval of relief shall be laid out in His service. The time is short, it must therefore be spent all the more economically; the work is great, the Lord must be trusted the more simply.”

Excerpt from the Introduction by Thomas Spurgeon, son of Charles Spurgeon, of C. H. (Charles Haddon). “Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon compiled from his diary, letters and records by his wife and his private secretary.” Passmore and Alabaster, 1900. Free ebook https://archive.org/details/autobiographyofc04inspur.

One of my Christian relatives was in an accident and will be restricted in movement for a while. She feels, naturally, frustrated, and is determined to get well quickly. She is determined, but, as she is an Arminian (and thus has a thin understanding of the decrees of God), what she means by “determined” is not what the Bible means.

Christians of all stripes who know their Bible have a tendency to forget or no longer trust:

Romans 8:28
And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

Or don’t understand or appreciate the reason for their existence:

Romans 8:38-39
38 I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Arminianism: The submortuarian, relapsarian view of predestination/election

Definition: lapsus – (the) Fall (of man)

Here is an amusing, but pithy, answer to an Arminian objection to the Calvinist view of God’s decree.

“Objection 5. The predestinarians cannot agree about stating their decree; some stating it before the fall, as the supra-lapsarians ; and others after the fall, as the sub-lapsarians.

Answer 1. The Arminians, by the law of retaliation, may be called submortuarians, for their holding no full election till men die; and post-destinarians, for placing the eternal decree behind the race of man’s life. Surely when believers die, they are the subjects of glorification, not of election. Christ should have said (upon this hypothesis) to the penitent thief, this day thou shalt be Fully Elected, not, thou shalt 6e with me in paradise. And may they not also be stiled relapsarians, for saying that the elect may totally and finally fall away; and that he who is a child of God to day, may be a child of the devil to morrow?”

Excerpt From: Ness, Christopher. “An antidote against Arminianism: or A treatise to enervate and confute all the five points thereof.”

Why is Christianity so complicated! All you need is love. Hmmm.

Predestination: Many Christians know what it means but can’t swallow it

Those who believe scripture is God-breathed (theo + pneustos – breathed out by God; divine “expiration”) also believe that there are no deeper meanings lurking below the surface text. So, if one differs in the interpretation of a text, the interpreter is at fault. I was visiting a Christian friend who loves God and talking Bible. She said we can discuss anything but not “predestination.” I started to sputter “But, but…” I said it’s mentioned several times in the Bible. She would have none of it. She said God foreknows whether people are going to believe and as a result predestines them. Perceiving her reluctance to engage further on the topic, I left it there.

What do Arminians make of the four occasions where the distasteful term appears? Romans 8:29-30 For him he did foreknow, he also did PREDESTINATE to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did PREDESTINATE, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having PREDESTINATED us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.. 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being PREDESTINATED according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. Arminians (you choose to be saved) says that “pre” (before) means that God can see before it happens who will believe and on that basis “destinates” (selects) believers for salvation.

My intention here is not to discuss why Arminians get it wrong (which I discuss elsewhere https://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/?s=Foreknowledge), but to state that such a dim view of “predestination” is cockeyed. I suggest they do indeed understand “predestination” but can’t swallow it.

When did Eve sin in the Garden? When she swallowed the fruit? No, when she refused to swallow the command not to. Related: Did God really say. Divine clarity and the doctrine of inspiration.”David Klassen, Shepherd’s Conference, 2015 </a

I’m thinking: perhaps it’s not just a moral will problem but an intellectual one as well, because when Adam took his bite of the fruit, he also took a bite out of his loaf. So both his will and mind fell. So not only is there – sins the Fall – no neutral will, there is also no neutral neurons.

John Calvin and the execution of Servetus

John Calvin – we Jews know what we’re talking about – is the greatest theologian since Augustine. Much drivel has been written about Calvinism. Most people, including most Christians, have an abysmal knowledge or understanding of the profound biblical principle that God so loved the world, not Mars, that he elects to save only those on whom he has mercy.

Then there’s Servetus. Calvin, you murderer, you. Why did you chop off his head, or was it burn? If you want to understand the Servetus episode (who does?) you could benefit – if you put on, as Calvin would say about understanding scripture, the right specs – from these excerpts from the “Memoirs of the life and writings of John Calvin; compiled from the narrative of Theodore Beza, and other authentic documents. Accompanied with biographical sketches of the Reformation” by Mackenzie, John, of Huntingdon, 1809.

https://ia600508.us.archive.org/21/items/memoirsoflifewri00mackiala/memoirsoflifewri00mackiala.pdf

The history of Servetus, so often referred to, and so little understood, merits the minute attention of all who are sufficiently impartial to weigh the opposing interests and circumstances which mark this tragical transaction. The blemishes, real or pretended, of the reformer, having been maliciously employed to discredit the reformation itself, heit becomes of no small importance to elucidate this point of history, and to clear Calvin from the injurious imputations which have been falsely thrown upon him.
It has been confidently pretended, and boldly asserted, that Calvin had, through life, nourished an implacable hatred against Servetus, and that the Genevese theologian had employed all his efforts to satiate it in the blood of the unhappy Spaniard; that he denounced him to the magistrates of Vienna, and occasioned him to be arrested on the day after his arrival at Geneva. Things advanced with an air of confidence are readily believed, and it is scarcely suspected that they may be false. Bolzec, however, the mortal enemy of Calvin, who wrote the life of that illustrious man merely to blast his memory, and who was cotemporary with the facts which he relates; and Maimbourg, equally known by his partialities and his falsehoods, have never dared to advance those things which modern historians have not been ashamed to risk.

The principal accusations exhibited against Servetus were, First, his having asserted in his Ptolémée, that the Bible celebrated improperly the fertility of the land of Canaan, whilst it was unfruitful and barren. Secondly, his having called one God in three persons a Cerberus, a three-headed monster. LANE CRAIG. Thirdly, his having taught that God was all, and that all was God. Servetus did not deny the truth of the principal accusations, but
whilst in prison called the Trinity a Cerberus, a three-headed monster; he also grossly insulted Calvin, and was so fearful that death would be the punishment of heresy at Geneva, as well as at other places, that he presented a petition on the 22d of August, in which he defended the cause of ignorance, and urged the necessity of toleration: the procureur-general replied to him in about eight days, and no doubt did it very ill. Servetus was condemned upon extracts from his books, De Trinitatis Erroribus, and In Ptolemeum Commentarius; from the edition of the Bible which he had published in 1552; from his book Restitutio Christianismi; and from a letter which he had written to Abel Paupin, a minster of Geneva.*

* A copy of the sentence pronounced against Servetus will not be uninteresting to the reader. “We Syndics, judges of all criminal causes in this city, having witnessed the process made and instituted against you, on the part of our lieutenant in the aforesaid causes, instituted against you, Michel de Villeneuve, in the kingdom of Arragon, in Spain, in which your voluntary confessions in our hands, made and often reiterated, and the books before us produced, plainly shew that you, Servetus, have published false and heretical doctrines; and also despising all remonstrances and corrections, have, with a perverse inclination, sown and divulged them in a book published against God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; in sum against all the true foundations of the Christian Religion, and have thereby tried to introduce trouble and schism into the Church of God, by which many souls may have been ruined and lost, things horrible, frightful, scandalous, and infectious, and have not been ashamed to set yourself in array against the Divine Majesty and the Holy Trinity; but rather have obstinately employed yourself in infecting the world with your heresies and stinking heretical poison; a case and crime of heresy grievous and detestable, and deserving of corporal punishment. For these and other just reasons moving us, and being desirous to purge the Church of God from such infection, and to cut off from it so rotten a member, having had good participation of counsel with our citizens, and having invoked the name of God that we may make a right judgment, sitting upon the tribunal of our predecessors, having God and the Holy Scriptures before our eyes, saying in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, by that definitive sentence, which we here give by this writing, you, Michael Servetus, are condemned to be bound and led to Champel, and there fastened to a stake and burned alive with your book written with your hand, and printed, until your body shall be reduced to ashes, and your days thus finished as an example to others who might commit the same things; and we command you our lieutenant to put this our sentence into execution. Read by the seigneur syndic D’Arlord.”

It must be confessed, that the intolerant spirit of the age dictated the sentence of Servetus at Geneva; but, it is not equally evident that Calvin was the author of that atrocity, and that he laboured with ardour to accomplish it.

On the 27th of October, Servetus was condemned to be executed. It Hzhappened same day.

The civil and ecclesiastical jurisprudence of the tribunals with respect to heresy, was undoubtedly grossly inconsistent with the spirit of Christianity, and the principles of equity. But if we could transport ourselves into that age, and contemplate the circumstances in which Calvin was placed, divesting our minds of prejudice, we should no doubt perceive that the sentence was that of the civil judges, and that they strictly followed the ordinary course of the law; that Calvin followed the judgment of all the ecclesiastics of his time, and complied with the sanguinary laws of every country in Europe against heretics.
It cannot, however, be denied, that in this instance Calvin acted contrary to the benignant spirit of the gospel. It is better to drop a tear over the inconsistency of human nature, and to bewail those infirmities which cannot be justified. He declares that he acted conscientiously, and publicly justified the act. Cranmer acted the same part towards the poor Anabaptists in the reign of Edward VI. This doctrine they had learnt at Rome, and it is certain, that, with a very few exceptions, it was at this time the opinion of all parties.* The apostles John and James would have called down fire from heaven; Calvin and Cranmer kindled it on earth. This, however, is the only fault alledged against Calvin; but, “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.”
“It ought, however,” says a sensible writer, “to be acknowledged, that, persecution for religious principles was not at that time peculiar to any party of Christians, but common to all, whenever they were invested with civil power. It was a detestable error; but it was the error of the age. They looked upon heresy in the same light as we look upon those crimes
which are inimical to the peace of civil society; and, accordingly, proceed to punish heretics by the sword of the civil magistrate. If Socinians did not persecute their adversaries so much as Trinitarians, it was because they were not equally invested with the power of doing so.

It was the opinion that erroneous religious principles are punishable by the civil magistrate, that did the mischief, whether at Geneva, in Transylvania, or in Britain; and to this, rather than to Trinitarianism or to Unitarianism, it ought to be imputed.*

Free will in salvation: a hot limp sermon

Joel Beeke in his lecture on Calvin’s preaching said:

“Powerful preaching, says Calvin has a two-fold effect. You never leave a church building the way come. Either the sermon will melt you down or touch you, move you, impact you, save you, or it will condemn you, harden you, make you colder or more distant, the savor of life to life or death to death. If it doesn’t issue in salvation it makes the ungodly more ungodly.”
http://www.rts.edu/Site/RTSNearYou/Jackson/Audio/09%20Fall%20Beeke%201.mp3.

What if the sermon is a weak one, a limp one, a frustrating one. Here is a preacher’s explanation of “not the will of man” in John 1:13.

John 1:11-13
He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 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: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

One word has been changed, which, does not change the sense. It’s not difficult to guess the word. The “will of the flesh” means your father’s willy, and the “will of man” also means your Father’s willy.

It left this Calvinist both limp and hot – under the collar

All is grace: Now that I’m born again, I can and want to believe and repent. What a logical logos I serve!

What is the relationship between repentance and faith. Charles Stanley writes:

“When Peter preached the truth about Jesus Christ in Acts chapter two, he left thousands of listeners wondering what they should do next. 

The apostle’s response in verse 38 is simple. He says, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” As a result, 3,000 people were added to their numbers that day.

Is this the message of most churches today? Does it seem strange that Peter said “repent” instead of “believe”? Actually, Scripture often uses these concepts together. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. Both are essential for salvation and each is dependent upon the other.

But, in terms of salvation, you can’t separate faith and repentance. To be saved, you must place faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. That decision requires a change of mind, or repentance, about your way of life. Both happen at the same time.

Yet, many people mistakenly believe they must repent before they can make a faith decision for Jesus. Repentance doesn’t mean we must completely change our ways and “clean ourselves up” so we can then receive Christ as Lord. There should actually be no delay or separation between repentance and faith.

If you’re holding off on a decision for Christ until you think you’re “ready” or “worthy,” then you’re waiting in vain. Jesus is ready to receive you right now. Only as a child of God will you find the power – His power – to truly become the person He created you to be.” Excerpted from “A Right View of Repentance.”  

Stanley has shown that repentance and faith occur simultaneously – chronologically together. What, though, is the logical sequence of repentance and faith? I examine that question.

 I heard this in a recent Arminian sermon:

There are three stages in the life of someone who really wants to experience coming to Jesus. Repent, next step believe the gospel. That’s what Jesus says repent and believe the Gospel.”

Jesus is not talking about which comes first (logically or chronologically) but that those are the two things you need to do. The order of the words (syntax) which Jesus uses is “repent and (plus) believe” it does not follow that he means “repent, then believe.” Jesus can’t mean that for this reason:

The preacher’s “the first step” can only mean that he thinks “repent” logically must come before “believe.” But how can you repent unless you first believe? Believe what? That you are sinner who is under the wrath of God and need to repent. The biblical (logical) sequence is believe → repent. Believe and repent occur at the same time. When Jesus said repent and believe instead of the logical sequence believe and repent, he did not mean believe then repent, because as I explained above that wold be cockeyed. Think of mommy saying to Jimmy in the bathroom, “wash your face and brush your teeth.” When Jimmy comes out of the bathroom, Mommy is not going to ask “Did you do what I said in the order in which I said it.” Unless she’s Nanny McPhee.

If we add grace and regeneration (born again) to the logical order of how we become a Christian, the Calvinist’s logical order is (effectual) grace –> regeneration (born again) –> belief –> repentance. They all occur simultaneously. The Arminian order is (prevenient) grace –> repent –> believe –> born again. Some Arminians may disagree with the preacher and agree with the Calvinist that believe comes logically before repent. When it comes to regeneration, however, the reason why the Arminian places regeneration (being raised from spiritual death) at the end of the process is because it is he who decides (with his “free will”) whether he wants to accept God’s offer to be born again. But surely, a person who goes through the first three stages (accepts God’s grace → believes → repents) cannot be spiritually dead, because unless God first regenerates him (raises him from spiritual death, from hatred of or indifference to God), he won’t be able or want to believe and repent. “Oh you Calvinists with your logic!” Yes. What a logical logos we serve. “In the beginning was the logos.” (John 1:1). And in the end.

John 1

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon writes:

“Surely the cross is that wonder-working rod which can bring water out of a rock. If you
understand the full meaning of the divine sacrifice of Jesus, you must repent of ever
having been opposed to One who is so full of love. It is written, “They shall look upon him
whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son,
and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” Repentance
will not make you see Christ; but to see Christ will give you repentance. You may not make
a Christ out of your repentance, but you must look for repentance to Christ. The Holy
Ghost, by turning us to Christ, turns us from sin. Look away, then, from the effect to the
cause, from your own repenting to the Lord Jesus, who is exalted on high to give
repentance.”

(All is grace, Spurgeon Archive)

Why do most Christians call grace (that saves) amazing? They can’t see that it is they who are

 

When Calvinism is contrasted with Arminianism, what first comes to mind is God’s role and man’s role in coming to faith. The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation. Faith, for the Arminian is something the believer does, not something God gives, as Calvinism understands it.

The good news of the Bible, writes Steve Lawson, is that God saves sinners, God the Father chose His elect, gave them to the Son, commissioned the Son to redeem them, and sends the Spirit to regenerate them, God the Son laid down His life for the sheep, securing their salvation, God the Spirit gives repentance, faith, and eternal life to these chosen ones. Salvation is a great Work of the triune God’s amazing grace.” (The Gospel Focus of Charles Spurgeon (Long Line of Godly Men Profiles).

Calvinism and Arminianism both agree with all the points in the above paragraph, so what is the difference?

Arminians maintain that the “elect” are sinners that God selected on the basis of God foreseeing from eternity that they would decide to choose to permit God to raise them from (spiritual) death. They love singing the song “Amazing grace (that saved a wretch like me).”

Would it make sense to tell the Arminian that the ultimate reason why people are not saved is because there is something bad in them (in their wills) that causes them to reject the Gospel, and so deserve damnation? Of course it would make sense; it’s clear as day. What about people who are saved? What is the final clincher in God’s decision to save them. For the Arminian – there is no escaping it – the clincher is their decision, something in them, something good in them.

Most Arminians will vehemently deny that the reason why God saved them was because there was something good in them (a good will). In sum, those who say no to Christ deserve to go to hell, and those who say yes to Christ deserve to go to heaven. Rare is the Arminian who says he deserves to go to heaven. He knows deep down in his confused or stubborn soul that there would be nothing amazing about grace if the reason why he was ultimately saved (the final step in his salvation/justification/ reconciliation with God/regeneration) was something he did, not what grace did. I know of one Arminian who. I suggest, tried to wriggle out of the logical conclusion by stating that although he deserved to be saved/justified/made right(eous), this righteousness does not come from himself but from the imputed righteousness of Christ. He was probably thinking of 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The question, however, still remains: why did this person deserve that God impute Christ’s righteousness to him?

If only Arminians could understand or accept 1. the different contexts of “all” and “world” in the New Testament, 2. there is no contradiction between human responsibility and God’s decrees, and 3. God chooses the means as well as the ends of salvation.

Here is and example of each of the three:

  1. All” and “world.”

All

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

“Any” and “all” refer to any, all of “us” (believers). If God wills someone not to perish, he won’t perish. Yet many do perish.

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Romans 9

13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. 14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. 15 For he says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 16 So then it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy.

(See The Apostle Peter takes a leaf off Mr Bean: My bodee is my toooooool).

World

Here is the NIV translation of John 3:16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Who(so)ever” (NIV) has the deceptive connotation of “whoever decides to believe in him.” The Greek says (Young’s Literal Translation – YLT) “every one who is believing in him may not perish.”

Contrast verse 16 (NIV) with verse 18 (NIV) “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” more correctly “he who is believing in him is not judged, but he who is not believing has been judged already, because he hathnot believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (YLT).

How to reconcile “God so loved the world” (verse 16) with “he who is not believing is judged already?” (YLT) This is where Arminianism splits and splutters. In Reformed theology (“Calvinist” if you like), it’s quite simple. “World” in verse 16 does not mean everyone in the world. There are several texts in the Bible that explain why it can’t mean everyone in the world. Verse 18 is one of them. I ask the Arminian: “Does Jesus love the unbelieving ones whom he is going to judge – send to hell, and whom he “knows from the beginning” (John 6:64) – from eternity?” Of course not; he hates them, as he hated all mankind before he chose to have mercy on some and save some as in Romans 9 above.

(See God loves you, he loves you, he loves you. “Since when?).

  1. There is no contradiction between human responsibility and God’s decrees.

Acts 2:23

“This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”

God foreknows because he decreed it. If he didn’t decree it then he was up in heaven saying – from eternity: “Look what those meany Romans AND Jews are going to do to my Son. Oh, well, I am not, as Clive Staples Lewis says, a God of risks for nothing”

Calvinists have no problem with this verse because they love divinely inspired scripture to bits. Of course, it is difficult to wrap this verse round your head. Don’t you know that you and I are and always will remain blockheads when it comes to understanding all the counsel of God. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29) – and all (without exception) the words of scripture.

  1. God chooses the means as well as the ends.

One of the silliest – we’re all blockheads, some more than others – utterances popular with many Arminian preachers is that if salvation is 100% of the Lord – God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy – then there is no point to evangelising. God choose the ends as well as the means.

The ends

38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day…44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

The means

Romans 10

13 For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Logical Arminians say that you can lose your salvation: if you choose to follow Christ, then it follows, as in the blogosphere, that they can choose to unfollow Christ. You might as well be Mohammed whose followers, every time mention his name, has to say “Peace be upon him,” that is, “I pray that he is no in hell.” Or a Jew, who is never sure whether he has done enough to merit salvation. A bad death.

This evening, when I thought about it seriously, the tears came to my eyes. I imagined myself on that sick bed [of someone he knew] and I wondered how it would go with me if I were to be judged in this very moment. I should deserve to go to hell, but I hope I shall not be sent there. In any case I am sure I ought to be sent to purgatory. Yet the mere thought of purgatory makes me shudder. What then will become of me? Oh poor me, how wretched I am!” (See here).

When R. Yochanan ben Zakkai fell ill, his disciples came in to pay a call on him. When he saw them, he began to cry. His disciples said to him, “Light of Israel! Pillar at the right hand! Mighty hammer! On what account are you crying?” He said to them, “If I were going to be brought before a mortal king, who is here today and tomorrow gone to the grave, who, should he be angry with me, will not be angry forever; and if he should imprison me, will not imprison me forever, and if he should put me to death, whose sentence of death is not for eternity, and whom I can appease with the right words or bribe with money, even so, I should weep. “But now that I am being brought before the King of kings of kings [ben Zakkai says “kings” three times], the Holy One, blessed be He, who endures forever and ever, who, should he be angry with me, will be angry forever, and if he should imprison me, will imprison me forever, and if he should put me to death, whose sentence of death is for eternity, and whom I cannot appease with the right words or bribe with money, “1and not only so, but before me are two paths, one to the Garden of Eden and the other to Gehenna, and I do not know by which path I shall be brought, and should I not weep?” (See Ben Zakkai: Judaism, humilty and the good death).

To repeat Steve Lawson at the beginning of this article, this is what the Bible teaches:

God the Father chose His elect, gave them to the Son, commissioned the Son to redeem them, and sends the Spirit to regenerate them, God the Son laid down His life for the sheep, securing their salvation, God the Spirit gives repentance, faith, and eternal life to these chosen ones. Salvation is a great Work of the triune God’s amazing grace.”

The logical progression is: election (predestined to salvation; those the father gives to the Son from eternity, and for who Jesus prays in John 17) – regeneratIon (born again) – faith – repentance – eternal life. Regeneration, faith and repentance occur at the same time.

Amazing grace…that saved a wretch like me.”  Indeed. Christ’s deed – alone