Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Preservation of the Saints

"...God foreknew just what it would require to save a sinner. For an one to believe in the unlimited foreknowledge of God and then believe that God would prepare a remedy for the salvation of a sinner, that he knew would not save him, is sheer nonsense, and, in my estimation, such an idea stultifies the 'Holy One'." -- J. S. Newman in "Final Preservation of the Saints" Primitive Monitor, Vol. 10 No. 12, Dec. 1895


Bro. Matt said...

Well, obviously I don't totally agree with the quote, but I do have a question and comment.

It almost seems as if the author is implying that if something doesn't make sense concerning God then it can't happen (which could be turned against me as there you go).

However, on my blog, I posted the following verse before I read your blog, and I would like to get your input.

Ezekiel 33:11
Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

This seems to at least kill the Hyper-Calvinist view of predestination. What do you think?

R. L. Vaughn said...

I assume you mean you don't agree with the quote as what you perceive he means about predestination rather than what he means about eternal security, but you can explain if I misunderstand. But the principle seems to apply regardless -- that in eternity, God with unlimited foreknowledge of all things would know whether He would be able to save and keep saved or not.

As far as the making sense part, I suppose that is a problem all can run into. What we think makes sense in our limited knowledge may actually be the nonsense in the light of unlimited knowledge of all things.

Re Ezekiel 33:11, that God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked is often taken in an absolute sense, but contextually in Ezekiel the judgment of Israel may be more specifically intended. One reason to exercise care in interpreting this in an absolute sense is that expressions are used elsewhere that depict God as taking a kind of pleasure in the death of the wicked, judgment against sin, etc. For example, Psalm 2:4-5 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

Bro. Matt said...

You were right. I disagree with what I perceived about predestination, but I totally agree with a view of eternal security in mind.

Also, I thought somewhat along the same lines concerning the passage in Ezekiel, but it is often hard to tell with 100% accuracy whether or not God means an absolute sense, a "local" sense, or both.

At least we agree that what we think makes sense is not always what makes sense! (Does that make sense?)

R. L. Vaughn said...

The sense/nonsense train of thought reminds me of the oft quoted "rule of interpretation":

"If the plain sense of Scripture makes good sense seek no other sense lest it result in nonsense."

Now that would probably be a very good "rule of interpretation" if any of us were qualified to recognize the difference between sense and nonsense!!

R. L. Vaughn said...

Matt, I posted this on your blog, but am pasting some here for those who are not reading both places.

These are a few initial thoughts, though I may change my mind at any time.

Contextually Ezekiel 33:11 is about Israel, though we will have to think about what principle it might provide for broader application.

In the preceding verse it seems that they are saying that things were hopeless. They are under God's judgment and all they can do is "pine away". Why should we do any better? There is no hope. Then God tells the prophet to tell them there is hope. He will judge them in their wickedness. But this should be an incentive to repent rather than to just pine away. As I said on the other blog, I think "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked" is not an absolute. He will have pleasure in bringing judgement on the wicked. But He does not have more pleasure in this than in them repenting and living. There is a contrast of the two in verse 11. I would add that pleasure with reference to God is not about an emotional feeling as with us humans. I would think of it more as a sense of right or satisfaction. So He can speak elsewhere, as Psalm 2:4, about "laughing" at the calamity brought on the wicked through His judgement.

I would be cautious with the spiritual application of this because it would seem to me that the context following verse 11 would spiritually imply works for salvation and falling from grace.