Ascol on Whosoever Will

Tom Ascol in a critique of Whosoever Will made the following statement; “Lemke fails to consider how the pervasiveness of depravity impacts the sinner’s ability to act upon these invitations in Scripture. In other words, man is dead in sin, a slave to sin, and therefore utterly unable to exercise anything of spiritual value towards Christ, faith included (cf. Romans 8:7; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-5; John 3:3, 5).

Here are my thoughts on the passages Ascol points to in substantiating mans’ being “dead in sin, a slave to sin, and therefore utterly unable to exercise anything of spiritual value towards Christ, faith included.”

Romans 8:7

Romans 8 does not deal with the effects of sin with respect to salvation but is realted instead to the effects of sin for the regenerated person. He begins by saying, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Paul goes on with his analogy of walking with Christ, Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

Paul’s statement, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” in no way indicates that man is unable to respond to God’s revelation of Himself nor His effort to reconcile sinful men unto Himself.

I Corinthians 2:17

Paul begins this chapter by talking about his approach to preaching, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” Paul wanted to point people to Christ and not to himself.

He transitions from the method of preaching to the message he preaches. “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.” He continues, ” 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

Once again, Paul is not speaking about becoming a Christian. He is speaking to believers about their responsibility to be diligent in holding onto the spiritual things that the Holy Spirit teaches them. These are the things Paul says he continues to try to preach, “comparing spiritual things with spiritual (ones).” Paul then makes the comment, “14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The lost person is not going to understand the “mature things of God” (verse 6) But you, who are spiritual and do have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you have the mind of Christ and you should “know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” What are those things? Paul mentions those things as well, “”Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Praise the Lord for the great things He has planned for those who hear and heed His precious Word as given to us by His marvelous Spirit.

Ephesians 2:1-10

To be “dead – spiritually is defined as being a living corpse: without God’s Spirit in the soul; so unable to think, will, or do anything that is holy.” This idea of being dead spiritually and the inability of a lost individual to think, will, or do anything that is holy is indeed an accurate description of total human depravity. There is however a big difference in asserting man’s inability to do anything holy as opposed to asserting his inability to respond to a Holy God. As Paul makes reference to “walking according to the course of this world and conducting ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” one could ascertain the importance of man’s responsibility in the choices that he makes. In this passage being dead in trespass and sin neither demands nor denies the Calvinist interpretation of being spiritually dead, rendering an individual unable to respond to God and His revelation of who He is to a lost and dying world.

In verse 8 Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” When Paul writes,” it is the gift of God” what exactly is he referring to? This is a very important question. This gift of God in verse 8 can only be a reference to one of two things; it is either a reference to God’s grace or it is a reference to salvation itself. In this passage grace, which can be defined as God’s unmerited favor, has Christ as its agent and faith as its vehicle. Salvation is the focal point of this passage. The “it” that Paul refers to as the gift of God must refer to salvation; it is not a reference to grace. It is also no accident that Paul uses the phrase gift as he speaks of this great salvation. There are several elements that are essential with any gift. Paul mentions the first element as he says salvation is “not of works lest any man should boast.” A gift is something that is unearned. Ironically the wages of sin or that which man deserves or has earned is death. While man deserves to die; salvation is a gift of God.

There is a second element that’s essential in any gift. A gift is bought and paid for by one party and then offered to a second party. A possession is something that someone has bought and paid for. A possession is not a gift until it is offered freely to someone else. There is a third element that is essential in any gift; this possession offered freely has to be accepted freely. Each of these elements is equally essential. Much is made of salvation as a gift being freely offered. It must be understood that there is a big difference between being freely offered and freely secured. The fact that a gift is freely offered has absolutely nothing to do with the cost associated with securing the gift. While the gift of salvation is free to the individual who places his trust in God, that gift cost God dearly.

Perhaps the most overlooked and under emphasized element of this gift of salvation is that of being” freely received.” There is very little mention of the gift of salvation being “freely received.” For some reason this element has caused a mountain of debate. The idea that a person can be so dead spiritually that he cannot recognize, comprehend and certainly accept and receive a free gift from God is just not logical.

Can a person who is spiritually blind understand and respond to the gospel? There are a number of passages in the Bible that speak of man having “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” and they fail to both hear and see. There are other references to eyes that are blinded to the truth of the gospel. One of those passages can be found in John Chapter 12. John writes: “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.’ These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.”

The emphasis of this passage is not really focused on the statement that Isaiah made, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes, lest they should understand him with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.” The emphasis is on the fact that Jesus did so many signs before the religious leaders and they refused to believe in Him, in spite of all they heard and all they saw. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many did believe in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” The reason so many refused to believe Jesus is really seen in verse “for they love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” In this passage the blinded eyes and hardened hearts may well be a reference to their love of the praise of men the Pharisees had in their hearts. This is not a proof text on God’s divine intervention on salvation and election.

John 3:3,5

“3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

In all fairness to this discussion of “man being unable to respond to God in salvation,” how do these two verses speak to man’s inability? It certainly speaks of his depravity and his need to respond but these two verses have nothing to do with man’s ability or lack thereof to respond. If one were to be tempted to lean one way or the other, it would appear reasonable to lean toward his ability to do so, since that is what Jesus is inferring he ought to do. “Do not marvel (or be surprised) that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” Jesus then chided Nicodemus by saying, “”Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things?’” “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Again, sinful men are lost in their sin and in need of a Savior. They are condemned not because they “cannot believe,” but because they “have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” As if this is not clear enough, Jesus goes on to say, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Men love darkness rather than the Light; they do not ‘come to the light.” Those who do the truth, come to the light.” These are clearly choices that men make in response to the Light that shines on all men. The light that is from God shines on all men and those who come to the light are blessed by and with new birth and those who do not come to the light remain in darkness, even unto all eternity.

Grateful to be in His Grip

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Concerning Faith, Grace, and Salvation

    Concerning Ephesians 2:1-10, you wrote:

    “This gift of God in verse 8 can only be a reference to one of two things; it is either a reference to God’s grace or it is a reference to salvation itself. In this passage grace, which can be defined as God’s unmerited favor, has Christ as its agent and faith as its vehicle. Salvation is the focal point of this passage. The “it” that Paul refers to as the gift of God must refer to salvation; it is not a reference to grace.”

    Within Ephesians 2, the salvation you speak of is the grace of God, and the grace of God is our salvation. I do not understand why you are making a distinction between the two in this case, or excluding one from the other.

    Heb 11:6 KJV
    (6) But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

    Faith is required of us (See Hebrews 11:6, “without faith it is impossible to please him”) and grace is the unmerited gift with with which God responds to that faith. The English dictionary also defines grace as an unmerited gift, pardon, or mercy. That grace is our our salvation. Within that context, the grace of God and the salvation of God are synonyms.

    From http://www.dictionary.com, “grace”

    Theology .
    a. the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.

    From http://www.thefreedictionary.com, “grace”

    8.a. Divine love and protection bestowed freely>/b> on people.
    b. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.

    From http://www.oxforddictionaries.com, “grace”

    2 (in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

    Grace is free and unmerited, it is the gift of God. I don’t think that you can properly say that Paul is excluding one or the other. Grace is the gift of God, and that grace is salvation. Paul speaks of grace, grace, and more grace, and you correctly see salvation. My point is that here these are really just two words for the same thing.

    Reply

    • I do not have a real problem with acknowledging and accepting the symbiotic relationship that indeed does exist with the two concepts. Salvation is without question impossible without the impartation of God’s grace. Your contention that God’s grace IS salvation is where we disagree. I see grace itself as the means, as defined by His character, by which God grants salvation; Jesus did not die on the cross to secure God’s gift of grace for us; He died on the cross to secure our salvation.

      So, I respectfully disagree with your statement, “My point is that here these are really just two words for the same thing.”

      Thanks for your comment.

      Grateful to be in His Grip

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      Reply

  2. Grace itself is a very versatile word. The word itself can be used as a noun or a verb. It can speak of the process of a gift, or it can also refer to the result of that gift, namely the gift itself.

    Salvation itself also has a broadness of meaning. Salvation can be:
    a) the process (Philippians 2:12, “work out our your own salvation with fear and trembling”), or
    b) the result (1 Thessalonians 5:9, “God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation…”), or
    c) the cost (2 Peter 3:15, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…”)

    You demonstrate this yourself with your own sentence,

    Jesus did not die on the cross to secure God’s gift of grace for us; He died on the cross to secure our salvation.

    I understand that you mean this in a broader sense, as an initiating step of the means or cost of salvation. However, when we speak in the non-Calvinistic sense, the process of salvation itself is not something that can be considered secure because it depends on variable things such as our faith and repentance.

    Joh 12:32-33 KJV
    (32) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
    (33) This he said, signifying what death he should die.

    Christ’s death on the cross did not actually secure the result of salvation. Christ could have died on the cross, and assuming the free will of men, it would be possible for everyone to resist that call.

    The cross announced salvation, to draw all men unto him (see John 12:32, above). It carried potent symbolic meaning as our Passover. God draws all men, but that does not mean that all men will respond, or that all men will be saved or secured unto salvation. God makes his (s)election from those that respond to that call (many are called, but few are chosen.)

    But on the “broadness” of language concept:

    To use an analogy, I might have a pet dog that is without a leash, and someone might ask me to grab my dog. I could reach out and grab its collar, and say that I have taken hold of the dog. But technically, the collar is not actually the dog itself. However, in the context of the request, I would consider the fastened collar as an equivalent of the dog itself.

    I would make the case that grace is the collar of salvation. As you yourself said, it is the means of salvation, but it is also the only means by which we may lay hold on salvation. Grace would be a synecdoche for salvation, where the part is used to refer to the whole. It is the essential means that symbolizes the result.

    http://www.dictionary.com, synecdoche

    noun Rhetoric .
    a figure of speech in which a part is used for the whole or the whole for a part, the special for the general or the general for the special, as in ten sail for ten ships or a Croesus for a rich man.

    … or as the cross stands for grace, the gospel, and the call to salvation.

    Grace and salvation are broad words to begin with, so it is inevitable that there will be some overlap.

    Reply

    • Again, without reading every word you just wrote dealing with the different nuances of salvation and the cross and grace, my MAIN point of contention has to do with your original statement, “Within Ephesians 2, the salvation you speak of is the grace of God, and the grace of God is our salvation. I do not understand why you are making a distinction between the two in this case, or excluding one from the other.”

      Nothing that you said in this last post addresses the highlighted statement above… I do NOT agree that “salvation is the grace of God and the grace of God is salvation.”

      I understand WHY there are those who will make this assertion but I believe that is an abbreviated and exaggerated conclusion drawn that is not scripturally supported.

      Grateful to be in His Grip,

      ><>

      Reply

  3. “Salvation is the grace of God and the grace of God is salvation.”

    You wrote:

    I do NOT agree… I believe that this is an abbreviated and exaggerated conclusion drawn that is not scripturally supported.

    Yes, this is an abbreviated statement, but I do not think this is exaggerated. If you are only objecting to that one specific phrase, then which portion do you feel is exaggerated or not supported by scripture? It only has two parts:

    1. “Salvation is the grace of God”

    In context, I am speaking of “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9) as in “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). By definition, an unmerited gift of God is the grace of God.

    Heb 5:9 KJV
    (9) And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

    Rom 6:23 KJV
    (23) For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Salvation can speak of simply being “saved” from something, but “eternal salvation” means salvation from the wages of sin, that is, death.

    2. “The grace of God is salvation”

    Perhaps this is the portion that may seem abbreviated. “The grace of God” is a common phrase that can speak of God’s favor in a general way, but did not Paul also speak in this fashion? (see Titus 2:11, below.)

    Tit 2:11 KJV
    (11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

    It doesn’t seem to me that Paul is trying to make theological distinctions between multiple versions of the grace of God, and specifying one particular grace of God that brings salvation. Unless the grace of God is expected to bring something else, then it seems to me that he is saying “the grace of God is salvation.”

    Also as indirect support, I point to the words of Peter who speaks of the “end of our faith.”

    1Pe 1:8-10 KJV
    (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
    (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
    (10) Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

    Unless one were to conclude that faith earns salvation, it seems to me that this implies that the salvation of our souls is that grace that bestowed with which God responds to our faith. Salvation is the end of our faith (salvation does not precede faith, but is the completion thereof.)

    In both of these phrases the article “the” is used to indicate that this grace is “chief”, “vital”, “main”, and “most important.” Yes, other things might qualify as “salvation” (like the exodus from Egypt) and any spiritual gift might be called “a grace of God” (such as tongues or healing) but this speaks of “the” grace of God, in its ultimate measure and fulfillment.

    Even in the case of gifts which could be called individual graces of God (gifts of the Holy Spirit), Paul says that the Spirit is given to us as as an earnest of immortality and eternal life (see 2 Corinthians 5:4-5, below). These lesser graces of that earnest point to the greater grace of promise, that ultimate grace, which is salvation and eternal life.

    2Co 5:4-5 KJV
    (4) For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
    (5) Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

    My statement may indeed seem simplistic, but I am speaking in a sense that is supported by scripture. I think that we could use more simplicity in the gospel, even a simplicity that is in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 11:3). I think it is good to avoid unnecessarily complexity when we can.

    You must have some reason why you would specifically disagree, and I would like to understand. Are there contrary scriptural passages that I am unaware of? Or is there some way that “Salvation is the grace of God, and the grace of God is salvation” could be misinterpreted to cause someone to stumble or to arrive at an otherwise flawed conclusion?

    If I am speaking wrongly, I want to know.

    Reply

  4. do not hear me say that God’s grace is not absolutely essential to salvation… my problem is solely and exclusively with your statement… “Salvation is the grace of God and the grace of God is salvation.” I fully agree with WHAT you say in #1… the problem is you do NOT substantiate the “is” in your dual statement above. I have no problem with “eternal salvation” just Salvation IS grace. Your use of Titus 2:11
    (11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, actually supports MY position that Grace and Salvation are two inseparable things… and salvation is the result of God’s grace… not salvation IS grace.

    Your use of 1Pe 1:8-10 KJV is also interesting. (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (10) Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

    Pay particular attention to ” ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” This verse could well read, ye rejoice with unspeakable joy: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” this rendering does not change the verse at all… the “unspeakable joy and full of glory” do not refer to salvation but rather to “rejoice.”

    verse 10 reads, ” Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:” the grace that was to come was Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross that made salvation possible. God’s grace was already with them.

    So… salvation and grace are not interchangeable terms. Salvation is NOT grace; Grace is NOT salvation.

    Now… this post is not directed at this discussion in the first place. The post deals with the following assertion:

    “Tom Ascol in a critique of Whosoever Will made the following statement; “Lemke fails to consider how the pervasiveness of depravity impacts the sinner’s ability to act upon these invitations in Scripture. In other words, man is dead in sin, a slave to sin, and therefore utterly unable to exercise anything of spiritual value towards Christ, faith included (cf. Romans 8:7; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-5; John 3:3, 5).”

    Grateful to be in His Grip,

    ><>

    Reply

  5. Summary of above:

    1) When it is admitted that grace is not only an inseparable part of salvation, but also the only means by which we can lay hold on salvation, it is entirely correct to say that “Salvation is the grace of God.” This has already been covered and addressed, even in the very same above post that you implied that you were not actually reading to completion.

    2) You have not shown a scriptural reason why one must actually deny that “Salvation is the grace of God”, and neither have you provided a moral reason why the grace (the “dog collar”) and the salvation (the “dog proper”) must be differentiated.

    3) When you read the passage of 1 Peter 3:8-10, you did not seem to notice that Peter also speaks in like manner, equating grace and salvation as like terms. I boldfaced only portions of verse 9, but repeating the same passage for a different (stronger) emphasis that you seem to have missed:

    1Pe 1:8-10 KJV
    (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
    (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
    (10) Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

    One could easily interchange “grace” and “salvation” within this passage without changing the meaning one bit. For consistency’s sake, if you will fault me for saying that “Salvation is the grace of God” then you should also fault Peter for the same. His parallel structure equates salvation and grace.

    4) Besides this, you yourself as using less precise terms even in the same breath of the same post.

    For example, you also said:

    …the grace that was to come was Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross

    Christ’s death on the cross was not a gift, and it was not a grace. It was a symbolic sacrifice for sin, it announced the gospel, it was the means by which God chose to draw all men unto him. Christ’s death was not grace. The actual grace that was to come was salvation unto eternal life.

    My point being is that you are not consistent in your criticisms, and you yourself are employing symbols and literary devices even several times removed from “Salvation is the grace of God.”

    a) His death on the cross was the call to repentance
    b) Faith and repentance precede forgiveness of sins
    c) With forgiveness we receive the grace of God
    d) The grace of God is salvation and eternal life

    * (a) and (b) above are not gifts of God, thus they cannot constitute “grace.”
    * (c) and (d) above actually are gifts of God, thus they do constitute “grace.”

    I have supported my statement from scripture, and you have not been able to show me a good reason why my language was improper. Peter himself speaks in this fashion, and our language requires such mechanisms and devices for communication and understandability. And as illustrated by your use of “the cross” above, you also make use of these types of devices, but with even less precision than myself.

    5) And as for whether this has anything to do with Tom Ascol,

    a) This was in response to your direct quotation above in this article
    b) The nature of faith and grace and salvation is entirely on topic.
    c) We don’t seem to be interrupting anyone else on this board.
    d) Although Tom Ascol cited only through verse 5, you were the one who answered from verse 8.

    Additionally, your statement that the “it” of Ephesians 2:10 is not grace actually weakens your stated position… because “salvation” is not actually named in that passage, other than the reference to grace, with the repetition “By grace ye are saved.”

    Regardless, a biblical discussion of faith and salvation will expose Tom Ascol soon enough. Have you considered that for Tom Ascol to be consistent in his position, he would have to claim that “Faith is the grace of God?” If Tom insists that faith is not of ourselves, and that faith/i> is the gift of God, then by definition he has also said that faith is the grace of God.

    But if faith is the grace of God, why should anyone ever repent? We would just need to wait around and hope that we will be lucky enough to be given faith to repent. Isn’t this exact subject the reason for your entire blog site? This is stated in paragraph two (2) of your “About” page.

    So I still don’t understand why you are objecting, or why you must “disagree.” I was not saying that your interpretation was actually wrong. and I was not questioning your integrity. I have allowed opportunity for you to demonstrate your reasons by logic or scripture. You have not shown any reason why a medical dissection of the two is required.

    As a final test, please try this. If you were to walk up to five normal adult people on the street, or in a church, and say to them:

    “The grace of God is salvation, and salvation is the grace of God”

    Aside from any potential theories as to what “salvation” actually holds in store for us, would anyone jump to a false conclusion, or would they naturally understand its meaning? If you have one, you have the other, but you cannot have the other without the one. This is not only the way language is used in common speech, but the Bible speaks this way as well.

    Even amidst Calvinists that must insist that “faith is the grace of God” I did not imagine that “salvation is the grace of God” would be controversial. If you must disagree, please state a reason.

    Take care,
    -Andrew

    Reply

  6. Here is my original post. “In verse 8 Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” When Paul writes,” it is the gift of God” what exactly is he referring to? This is a very important question. This gift of God in verse 8 can only be a reference to one of two things; it is either a reference to God’s grace or it is a reference to salvation itself. In this passage grace, which can be defined as God’s unmerited favor, has Christ as its agent and faith as its vehicle. Salvation is the focal point of this passage. The “it” that Paul refers to as the gift of God must refer to salvation; it is not a reference to grace. It is also no accident that Paul uses the phrase gift as he speaks of this great salvation. There are several elements that are essential with any gift. Paul mentions the first element as he says salvation is “not of works lest any man should boast.” A gift is something that is unearned. Ironically the wages of sin or that which man deserves or has earned is death. While man deserves to die; salvation is a gift of God.”

    Here is your original rebuttal. “Within Ephesians 2, the salvation you speak of is the grace of God, and the grace of God is our salvation. I do not understand why you are making a distinction between the two in this case, or excluding one from the other.”

    Here is my point. I see God’s grace as a part of His character not so much a “gift” He gives to us. God’s grace is as much a part of who He is as His love for us. As He interacts with us… His grace is no doubt the defining characteristic of that interaction. The real problem I have is this idea that grace, faith, repentance, and believing and some other terms are all “gifts” from God because the next logical step is to equate the “gift” with God’s sole initiative in giving the gift… and then the converse is also employed that without God giving the “gift” faith, repentance, grace and belief are all impossible. That is really the underlying point of contention that I have.

    Now as to this issue of my not proving that your statement, salvation is grace and grace is salvation and that the two terms are virtually interchangeable is not true is like criticizing me for stating to someone that I disagree that the moon is made of cheese or flying saucers are interfering with cell phone transmissions. I disagree with the assertion. Now… perhaps this might help understand my position.

    A Cadillac is an automobile. Not all automobiles are Cadillacs. God’s grace is all-encompassing so salvation is part of His grace. That is not what i am objecting too. I just don’t see the terms as interchangeable. Now… here is another thought I had yesterday… (unrelated to our discussion) but certainly applicable. When I am speaking of salvation in this context, I am really speaking of conversion and not the totality of salvation being justification, sanctification and glorification. So my objection may have more to do with the limitation on the use of “salvation”… which might be a differentiating point of contention that you were not speaking of.

    However, even in the broadest sense of salvation, while I can accept that salvation in all of its components is BY God’s grace, I still maintain God’s grace is more encompassing than JUST salvation alone. Some argue that God’s justice is an expression of His grace and for His glory.

    The issue I raised with Ascol and this post… is that my post was in response to a comment he made, which I post in the first paragraph… is that Ascol uses Ephesians 2 to support the calvinist position that “man is dead in sin, a slave to sin, and therefore utterly unable to exercise anything of spiritual value towards Christ, faith included (cf. Romans 8:7; 1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 2:1-5; John 3:3, 5).”

    You are correct. Ascol pointed to verse 5… not verse 8. That is another problem with a lot of folks… they want to use 1 verse to prove their point while the context of the verse often times is speaking to something completely different from their application. Verse 5 states, “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” so for me to include verse 8 in my critique ought to be acceptable.

    It is interesting that in a LOT of the discussions I see in blogs… issues are raised on fine points in the blogs… but not with the original intent of the post itself. It is as if… one fine point of contention brings the whole intent of the post in question. On some other comments, I make a comment Calvinist’s influence in history… which is different from what they maintain… and that has become the major focus of discussion while the major point of the post itself is completely ignored.

    Again… i appreciate your discussion and the great thing about God’s grace is that he speaks to us individually and He gives us the opportunity to believe things as we see em. And it is through discussion that we can learn and for that I am grateful… and that is why I take the time to post what I am posting.

    May God continue to bless you in your search to “rightly divide the truth”!

    Grateful to be in His Grip.

    ><>

    Reply

  7. Thank you for that explanation. I wanted to understand your reasons and you did a very good job of explaining where you were coming from.

    It seems that you also were considering why we were speaking differently:

    Now… here is another thought I had yesterday… (unrelated to our discussion) but certainly applicable. When I am speaking of salvation in this context, I am really speaking of conversion and not the totality of salvation being justification, sanctification and glorification. So my objection may have more to do with the limitation on the use of “salvation”… which might be a differentiating point of contention that you were not speaking of.

    I don’t think of salvation as a formula as if it were a procedure of chemical reactions, and I entirely understand why you would object to this. Particularly because of your stated focus on this site, you are especially concerned with conversion.

    I would say that technically conversion precedes healing and the forgiveness of sins (see Matthew 13:15, Mark 4:12, Acts 3:19, Acts 28:27.) It is a prerequisite for the kingdom of heaven and eternal life (see Matthew 18:3.) Or in other words, conversion precedes salvation. If we will not change we will not live.

    I have a different focus. When I normally think of the word “salvation” I equate this with “eternal salvation”, “eternal life”, “the blessed hope”, and “immortality”, which becomes inseparable from “the return of Christ” (Job 19:25-27, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Titus 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Hebrews 5:9, 9:27-28). Salvation is the end of our faith, not the beginning thereof (1 Peter 1:9), to be revealed in the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ when he shall appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Our redeemer is our savior.

    Job 19:25-27 KJV
    (25) For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
    (26) And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
    (27) Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

    Heb 5:9 KJV
    (9) And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

    Heb 9:27-28 KJV
    (27) And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
    (28) So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

    Tit 2:13 KJV
    (13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

    1Pe 1:3-5 KJV
    (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
    (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    This is the sense that I probably more commonly associate with “salvation” than any other.

    You explained how you see salvation as the nature and character of God:

    However, even in the broadest sense of salvation, while I can accept that salvation in all of its components is BY God’s grace, I still maintain God’s grace is more encompassing than JUST salvation alone. Some argue that God’s justice is an expression of His grace and for His glory.

    I would say that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that grace and justice are expressions of his love. But regardless of technical definitions, I still think that I agree with your statement more than I can explain in this short space. It is not wrong to use “grace” to represent the character of God. When compared with the “justice” of this world, a pure and loving justice could also be described as an expression of grace.

    You closed with a comment on the nature of blog discussions:

    It is interesting that in a LOT of the discussions I see in blogs… issues are raised on fine points in the blogs… but not with the original intent of the post itself. It is as if… one fine point of contention brings the whole intent of the post in question. On some other comments, I make a comment Calvinist’s influence in history… which is different from what they maintain… and that has become the major focus of discussion while the major point of the post itself is completely ignored.

    That’s the nature of the beast, so to speak. If someone agrees with the main thrust of what you have said, they will often comment on a small portion of difference. But sometimes these fine points are not trivial at all, because big issues can hinge on our perception of what might at first seem insignificant.

    Again, thanks for explaining what you meant. I appreciate your courtesy. Understanding the reason for a statement can be more valuable than the statement itself. In fact, it is very possible for two people to agree on a saying down to the exact wording, yet to interpret it two entirely different ways. It is much better to disagree on the precise wording while sharing understanding.

    Reply

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