This morning I posted another memory verse and made some brief comments about Revelation 5:9-10 and its witness to the perfection of the atoning work of Christ in behalf of His people. Fairly quickly the following was sent through the website:

Good piece of eisegesis James! Results of the Atonement Seen? Results, yes. The full extent of “how”, NO. The only thing that this portion of Scripture conveys is that it “describes” what has been done; not “how” (to its full extent). No where is the “world” (as the Calvinist thinks) defined like you want it to. All it says is that God has made a “kingdom and priests” from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation”. No where does it say that God slam-dunked people into salvation against their acceptance of God’ teaching. This would go aaginst Jn. 6:45…ALL OF THE VERSE. Come on James, think outside of your Calvinism.

Come on, Steve, think outside your Arminianism! It is easy to make those kinds of statements. It is a lot harder to demonstrate that someone is, in fact, allowing their exegesis to be determined by external factors. Of course, I would argue Arminianism is inherently philosophical before it even comes to the text of Scripture, but that’s another issue. Let’s take Steve’s assertions apart here.

Results of the Atonement Seen? Results, yes. The full extent of “how”, NO. The only thing that this portion of Scripture conveys is that it “describes” what has been done; not “how” (to its full extent).

OK, I must confess, this is confusing. Looks like we agree that the result of the atonement, that being Christ by His blood redeemed men from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. But I don’t get the “how” part. What is unclear about the statement “You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” The how of the purchasing for God is quite clear, is it not? “By your blood.” Not “by your blood plus the free will actions of men” or “by a potential atonement plus…”, right? If the term “by” (evn tw/| ai[mati, sou) is not explaining the “how” of “redeemed for God” or “ransomed for God” (hvgo,rasaj tw/| qew/|), then how is it functioning? Remember, the Lamb here is being praised for what He has done, not for what He has made possible.

Now, if all Steve is saying is that this text is not a compendium on the entirety of the work of salvation, well, no one said it was. But I don’t get the feeling that is, in fact, his argument, for he says: “No where is the “world” (as the Calvinist thinks) defined like you want it to.” Well, isn’t this just the point here? Christ’s death accomplishes redemption for whom? “Men from every tribe, tongue, people and nation.” Isn’t that all the world? Isn’t that the point John had made in his gospel as well?

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.

See how John here does the same thing as he does in Rev. 5, specifically, he defines those for whom Christ will die as “the nation” and “not the nation only” but “the children of God who are scattered abroad.” Given that the “nation” is Israel, we would have the same Jews/Gentiles = the world formula we see in Jewish thinking of the day and reflected in the New Testament. Isn’t that the very view of “world” that Steve says doesn’t exist?

All it says is that God has made a “kingdom and priests” from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation”. No where does it say that God slam-dunked people into salvation against their acceptance of God’ teaching. This would go aaginst Jn. 6:45…ALL OF THE VERSE.

Why is the phrase “by your blood” left out in recounting the text? I wonder! Because that would point to the atonement/death motif that fills the context! The reason Christ (not the Father as Steve misses) has made them a kingdom and priests to God is because He likewise redeemed them by His death! Is it Steve’s assertion that this is some nebulous, non-specific group? His phraseology seems to suggest this, but his wording is not specific enough to be sure.
   
Next we encounter one of those ever-present straw-men, so common in the rhetoric that marks those who oppose Reformed theology. I haven’t a clue who Steve is referring to when he refers to God “slam-dunking” people into salvation “against their acceptance of God.” Who teaches such a thing? If this is a tortured reference to irresistible grace, it should be noted that God takes out a heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh; that a person is born from above, changed, and part and parcel of the new nature is a love of Christ and His truth. The new creature is a believer and that is why the gospel is part and parcel of the work of the Spirit, for it is the gospel that announces the object of faith. Every one of the elect has chosen Christ! We simply do not believe God is dependent upon creaturely “free will” to bring about His own glory: I have embraced Christ, believe in Him, because of what God did through the Word and the Spirit, not the other way around.
   
As to John 6:45, I made reference to this text just recently. Since no one I know of believes what Steve is referring to, it is pretty hard to comment. John 6:45 is explaining more fully the nature of the drawing of the Father to the Son. It involves the work of the Father, through the Spirit, of teaching: that is, when the elect are drawn to the Son, they are not drawn to one about whom they are ignorant. The Father reveals the glory of the Son, the one drawn is coming and is believing in the Son. No “secret Christians” here.
   
Finally, “Come on James, think outside of your Calvinism.” Well, Steve, I get the feeling that you might not have an overly sound idea of what Calvinism is! You surely provided nothing of substance to support your charge of eisegesis, but I thank you for the opportunity of going more in-depth on the topic.

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