Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eph. 2:1-4, the wrath and the grace of God

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 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 — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands — remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2: 1-13)

[In response to my previous post refuting the heresy of Eternal Justification]

Brandan Kraft (on the Facebook Predestinarian Network page): You have quoted Eph. 2:3, but what about verse 4? “Eph 2:4, (KJV), But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,” Here Paul clearly states that while we were by nature children of wrath (that is we were by outward appearance no different from a reprobate) God LOVED US.

The defenders of the heresy of Eternal Justification have sortof responded to the critique of their position in my previous post. It has been rather amusing reading their so-called responses which can be seen here. Basically, their responses have followed these tactics: 1) Advocating for the idea that the "eternity" of God is that of eternal timelessness, 2) Against my usage of Eph. 2:1-3, argue against the idea of the unregenerate being sinners under wrath by referring to Eph. 2:4, and/or 3) Argue that making justification based upon faith leads to work righteousness

It has been extremely revealing that the crypto-hyperists do not even bother thinking logically with respects to their position. They ignore the entire critique of their hermeneutical method. They also ignore the fact that their position logically commits them to actual sinlessness and glorification now, and of course that time and sequence would not be real and just a matter of illusion. (Of course, since there is no real difference between God's decree to do something and the doing of it except from Man's perspective, I guess we are all actually glorified just that we have not realized it yet.) The irrationality of these hyperists is just sad — that they can claim that there is no difference between God's decree of justification and the event of justification itself, yet they refuse to consistently apply this to all of God's other decrees.

Similarly, Rom. 8:29-30, the Golden Chain of Salvation, is not read by them as being a chain in any sense of the term. Even if a temporal order in the Ordo Salutis is denied (which may well be the position of these hyperists), some form of order between the things (predestination, calling, justification, glorification) must exists otherwise the verse does not make sense at all. If one were to hold to eternal justification, one must also hold to eternal calling since calling is prior to justification in Rom. 8:29, regardless of whether you treat it as a temporal or logical order or something else altogether.

Let us however go back to the second objection by hyperist Brandan Kraft, and address the first issue of timeless eternity in the next post. Is such an interpretation an accurate handling of the Word of God, or merely the reading of foreign [Neo-Platonic] ideas into the text of Scripture?

In order to exegete the Scriptures well, I have included the first 13 verses in Eph. 2, certainly sufficient to show the context of the first 4 verses. It must also be stated that Kraft's objection continues to suffer from the 1-Dimensional thinking he is utilizing - viz that love and wrath cannot both coexist at the same time. Of course, one wonders about the counter-example of a parent angry at their child for disobeying rules.

Eph. 2:1-3 states that we, referring to believers, were at one time "children of wrath" and walked in the same ways of disobedience like the rest of mankind. Verse 4 introduces the power of the Gospel by stating what God has done ("But God"). While we were still wretched sinners under His wrath, God who loves us has decided to save us through His grace (v. 5) and give us all the benefits of salvation (v. 6). Verses 8-10 inform us that our salvation is purely of grace through faith not of works, and so salvation is of God from beginning to end.

So while God's love for the elect is truly from "eternity" (I am using this carefully since the hyperists have an unbiblical notion of this term informed by their Neo-Platonism), the idea that the context of Eph. 2 as nothing to do with events in time is totally unfounded. We can already see in verse 7 through the phrase "the coming ages" that the idea of time is prominent in the entire passage. As if the grammer of the verses was not clear enough, verses 11-13 should nail the coffin on the strained eisegesis of the hyperists, for they clearly speak about changes in time ("at that time" cf v. 12). So once we were _____ ("separated from Christ", "having no hope and God in the world" etc), but now we are ____ ("have been brought near by the blood of Christ" etc). The entire passage is just pregnant with the concept of happenings in time, and tells us the state of the elect before and after our conversion.

The hyperists' second objection therefore fails because they 1) did not refute the plain teaching of Scripture that the unregenerate elect are under God's wrath before their conversion, and 2) love and wrath can exist at the same time by one individual towards another (one) individual

We would look briefly and refute the third and last objection raised by the hyperists against the orthodox doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone. Instead of this fundamental doctrine, the hyperists put foward their doctrine of "faith by justification alone". According to their flawed thinking, making justification by faith implies that justification depends upon faith, which would make salvation synergistic as both God and Man cooperate in the work of salvation.

One thing that we can see immediately is that the Arminians and the Hyperists share one thing in common — the unbiblical conviction that faith is a work of men. The Arminians believe that faith is Man's work, so therefore unconditional election is false for how can God saves Man without demanding of him his exercise (work) of faith? The Hyperists on the other hand believe that since faith is Man's work, therefore salvation is not dependent on faith, for otherwise faith would be made a condition for salvation which creates an opening for works righteousness.

The biblical teaching however is that faith is a gift of God (cf Eph. 2:9, Phil. 1:29), not a work of men. It is precisely because faith is God's work and gift that the Hyperists' third objection falls flat. Once again, it seems that the Arminians and the Hyperists actually do deserve each other, for they share a lot of false assumptions in common.

In the next post, we would look at the idea of time and eternity (of timeless eternity and everlasting time) and see what the Scriptures teach about the matter.

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