Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 4)

Gratefully, this is my last post on Ephesians 2:5-6 for the foreseeable future. We have been considering this passage in order to make one simple point: These verses are not a proof-text for monergistic regeneration. 

Exegesis first & last

I am keenly aware that since Calvinists hold to their particular form of Total Depravity, monergistic regeneration is a logical necessity if anyone is going to be saved. This doctrine is closely tied to other doctrines in their system as well, which is why focusing on one doctrine and one verse at a time can be difficult for my Calvinist brethren. 

They tend to see individual Scriptures through the lens of systematic theology, and often say something to the effect of “The passage cannot say people are saved by choosing to believe, because other verses teach Total Depravity, and therefore they cannot choose to believe.” If we take the bait and go to those passages to look at the context, and find their exegesis is faulty, we will soon find ourselves looking into the context of verses related to Unconditional Election. This will lead to verses on Divine Sovereignty, Limited Atonement and sooner or later back to Monergism. But it is a difficult task to deal with one verse at a time in context.

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Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 3)

This is the continuation of my last post. We are still addressing the Calvinist argument that Ephesians 2:5-6 teaches monergistic regeneration because the text does not show any action on the part of man. In the last post we brought our first witness against this argument, namely the immediate context. In verse 5 it includes the phrase “by grace you have been saved.” We noted that Paul expands on this phrase in verses 8. In those verses he teaches that we are saved (i.e. justified) through faith. The grace of God saves us, and we receive that grace through believing. The fact that the same phrase is used in verse 5 and verse 8 shows us that the same topic is being taught in both verses.

But we have another witnesses against the monergistic reading of Ephesians 2:5-6. So without further ado, let’s put our second witness on the stand.

Witness #2 – Colossians 2:11-13

The context of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is very similar to his letter to the Ephesians. There are some slight differences, but the topics he covers are basically the same. What is pertinent for us is the parallel passage to Ephesians 2:5-6 found in Colossians 2:11-13. 

Colossians 2:11-13

11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 

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Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 2)

It Teaches Justification, not sanctification

In the first post of this series we went through Ephesians 2:1-10 to show in context why Ephesians 2:5-6 are not valid verses to use as a proof-text for monergistic regeneration. We noted that when Calvinists quote this passage with that in mind they are in error. The passage does not teach that God by grace does an internal work of transformation in the heart of the sinner. 

The passage is not teaching that the sinner is actually taken out of their sin and raised up to the right hand of God with Christ Jesus. Instead the passage is talking about a positional change, from being condemned in sin, to being accepted and blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. It is teaching us about the new status we have in Christ Jesus as adopted children. So, though it is talking about regeneration (rebirth), it is addressing the positional aspect of the new birth, not the transformative aspect. To use theological terminology, it is speaking about justification, not sanctification. 

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Are You Sure You Wanna Use that Verse? (Eph. 2:5-6 – Part 1)

They Beleive What?

The condition of the lost sinner is termed “total depravity” by Calvinists; not merely moral depravity, but total constitutional depravity; not merely unwillingness to repent and believe, but inability to repent and believe. The work of grace which they say is required is called “monergistic regeneration.” Monergistic means that this work is done unilaterally by God. God does not wait for the sinner to meet any conditions before transforming him, but God does it unilaterally whenever and to whomever he chooses. And regeneration is an old theological word meaning rebirth, or as moderns usually say, “born again.” So, the conclusion is that because sinners are incapable of repenting of sin and trusting in Christ, God unilaterally causes them to be born again. Only after He does this can the sinner genuinely repent and trust in Christ. 

In the next few posts we want to look at the go-to proof-text that Calvinists often cite as biblical evidence of monergistic regeneration. Hopefully we will see very clearly that this is probably not a passage the honest Calvinist will want to use again in the future since it fails on at least 3 major points to confirm their doctrine. The passage we will be considering is found in Ephesians 2:5-6:

5 …even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…

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Monergistic Circumcision? Is That Really A Thing?! (Deuteronomy 30:6)

Which Comes First?

Does the Bible teach that people must be born again (i.e. regenerated) before they can repent and believe? This has been debated among evangelicals going back to the Reformation, and can be seen even earlier in the writings of Augustine. Calvinists and Lutherans teach monergism, which means they believe people must be born again before a person can repent and believe. Arminians believe that being born again is a divine gift given to people when they place their trust in Christ. In this post we will look at one of the common proof-texts for monergistic regeneration.

Many broken Microphones

Deuteronomy 30:6

6 “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

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Dancing on the Edge of Calvinism

Enticed by Calvinism

There have been times in my life where I desired to accept the Calvinist theological system. Primarily because of the great blessings I have received from sitting at the feet of the puritans, reading their writings. I deeply appreciate their devotional depth and their focus on the glory of God in all things. Calvinism, at least in its classical form, also emphasizes the need for holiness, a need that I have recognized from the first day Christ saved me. This is a basic aspect of the Christian faith that is obviously lacking in our day in which worldliness is rampant among those who confess Christ. Besides these reasons for desiring Calvinism, there is the simple fact that embracing a tradition that already claims to have an airtight logical grid through which to view every verse of Scripture was very tempting to my lazy heart. But I was never able to embrace it, though I honestly tried to accept as much of the system as I could without throwing God’s word under the bus. 

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Died to Save, Died to Gather – John 11:50-52

John 11:47-53

So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

cross nail
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Drawn by the Father – John 6 (Part 7 – Application)

(For the first post in this series click here.)

John 6:37, 44 and 65

All that the Father gives me will come to me…

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him….

And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

 

snail finish

Congratulations to both of us! We have made it to the end of this extremely long series of posts on John chapter 6. I believe that those who are seeking to understand the context of John chapter 6 will not be able to ignore the abundance of evidence that the context provides for my interpretation. I am certain there are many subtle mistakes in my understanding of theses verses. I know this because I keep finding such mistakes as I meditate more on the context and wording of these verses. But I am confident that my basic perspective on these verses is fully supported by the Scriptural and historical context of John’s Gospel. This present series of posts is merely a seed (though obviously not as small as a mustard seed;) for those who are seeking to understand Jesus’ teaching in John chapter 6. I expect that those with honest hearts will not rest until they have searched the book of John to see whether or not these things are so. And I am confident that even if I have failed to make Jesus’ words completely clear, God’s word will not.
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Drawn by the Father – John 6 (Part 6 – Father’s Testimony)

(This post is part of a series on John chapter 6. To read the first post in the series click here.)

John 6:37, 44 and 65

All that the Father gives me will come to me…

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him….

And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

How Did God Give People to Christ?

We have discussed the context of Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities and the transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant in the Gospel of John. Now all that is left is to finish un-wrapping the other two so-called “Calvinist verses” in John chapter 6.

We have seen that the Father was placing his faithful followers under the Lordship of Messiah. And since they are obedient to the Father, Christ is able to confidently say, “They will come to me.” When we consult the context of John 6:37 we discover that there is not the slightest hint of Calvinism found in it. Reformed theology has read its doctrines into the verse and then tried to validate its error by appealing to it.

Now we need to turn our attention to John 6:44 and 65. We started off by asking who God gave to Christ, now we must ask how he gave them. These two verses are closely related to John 6:37. John 6:37 tells us that the Father is giving his followers to the Son. John 6:44 tells us how he gives them, namely by “drawing” them to Jesus. And John 6:65 reiterates John 6:44 using different words.
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Drawn by the Father – John 6 (Part 5 – Getting Prepared)

(This post is part of a series of posts on John chapter 6. To read the first post in the series please click here.)

John 6:37, 44 and 65

All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Preparing the Way

In the last post we concluded by giving the proper interpretation of John 6:37. We will soon turn to consider John 6:44 and its parallel verse 6:65. But before we do we should tie up a few loose ends. Whenever we have a paradigm shift in how we view different aspects of God’s word, many new questions begin to present themselves to our thinking. The questions I would like to address here are, “What about those Israelites who were not faithful to God? Did Jesus come to save them? Is there any hope for them? Does John 6:37 only apply to men like Nathanael, or also to men like Zacchaeus, the corrupt tax collector?”
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