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In our modern context, trying to understand the nature of the event in Numbers 31 is, for me, a difficult venture. I understand, well enough, what is being said and even why, but when conversing with some in today’s environment, difficulty exists when some inquire about how a New Testament Christian can justify the actions of the Lord. Of course, there is no created being that can justify the actions of the Lord in any decision He made relative to anything (though we do put forth the effort). He needs no justification. Not one of us in position to know what he (the Lord) knows and, consequently, not one of us is in good position to judge rightly.

Though not one of us is in position to rightly judge, every now and again, New Testament Christians are called upon to do exactly what we are not in position to do. This brief discussion below is my own effort at such. I post this for the benefit of others who might be interested and for some critical remarks that might help me be a better student.

My disputant is a man of reasonable ability, very thoughtful. He was once a preacher, graduating from the BTSOP. Some time back he left the Lord and for about 4 years now (2013 until now), he and I have had on/off conversations along this line.

The discussion was generated by a FB post/share I made:


DLH: Both are tricky topics, as Moses, who is of course a favorite Biblical character of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; authorized and justified each practice.

Fortunately, among the people with whom I am acquainted who claim any of the aforementioned as their professed Faith, I know of not a single one who would justify either slavery or rape.

Thankfully most of the representatives of the respective Judeo-Christian-Islamic ideologies have moved on from the shortcomings of Moses.

Except regarding War Crimes, which is of course another of those tricky topics to itself.

RT: The shortcomings of Moses were what, and what measurement are you using to so judge?

DLH: Oh, just my general feelings on rape and slavery. As to the shortcomings of Moses, his tolerance for and authorization of each (rape and slavery)

RT: Your feelings, Dave, is not a good measuring stick. Give me express reference to that which Moses authorized.

DLH: I am not gonna bother looking up the laws in Leviticus which Moses cited to regulate Slavery. Surely you will not deny that such are there. By regulating Slavery Moses of course authorized such. (I never was great at memorizing citations from Leviticus “back in the day”, I sure would be at a loss to attempt to do so these days)

As to authorizing Rape, I know you are familiar with the fact that after the Israeli soldiers had killed the Midianite men, women, and sons; that Moses permitted the those same Israeli soldiers to keep the virgins (whose parents and brother they had just killed) “for themselves”. This actually is a “two fer” with reference to the unpleasant topics at hand, in that Moses allowed those Israeli soldiers to make those virgin Midianites their “sex slaves”

Sorry that my feelings on the topic of rape and slavery do not merit as a sufficient measuring stick as to such matters, perhaps you might comment as to by what measuring stick rape and slavery might be justified?

RT: Dave, you have to do better than this. Go back and read what the passages say, then we can talk about them. With regard to your feelings, if that is the only measuring stick, then someone else’s feeling, complimentary or contradictory, is just as authoritative.

DLH: 15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. 17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. 18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.

I even posted KJV. Do I have your permission to discuss this text with you now?  Numbers 31:15-18; biblegateway

RT: Yes, please begin.

DLH: 1. Did Moses do wrong by commanding the Israeli soldiers to kill the Midianite boys? If the answer is yes, then no need to answer Question 2

2. By what standard was Moses justified then to command the Israeli soldiers to kill the Midianite boys?

3. Did Moses do wrong by allowing the Israeli soldiers to keep the virgin Midianite girls “for themselves” (after having killed their brothers). If the answer is yes, then no need to answer Question 4

4. By what standard was Moses justifiied then to allow the Israeli soldiers to keep the virgin Midianite girls “for themselves” (after having killed their brothers)

As a reminder, per my feelings I regard both actions as wrong. As you reject my feelings as a sufficient standard as a measuring stick, then I am asking you for your measuring stick with reference to right and wrong. I had in mind to ask you your feelings regarding Slavery, but since feeling are not a measuring stick, then I ask my question thusly:

5. Do you believe that Slavery is wrong?

6. If the answer to 5 is yes, then please provide the measuring stick by which you arrived at that conclusion.

If you do not feel inclined to answer, then no worries.

RT:  I will cut and paste these in a word document on my laptop, then with a reply. At the moment, a phone is disagreeable. So, probably this evening (I hope)

DLH:  That works!

RT: The only way to judge something to be wrong (or right) is by a standard that adjudicates the actions of man. To answer the question, the answer is no. To people’s way of thinking today, Moses did wrong, but what standard will be used to so assert. Thus, I ask you: if Moses did wrong, what standard will you use to make the case he did wrong? Moses was justified in that which was done by a source greater than himself, that source is the Lord. With regard to your 3rd question, there is nothing in the text that speaks of “brothers” to the females. Just the same, the answer is no for the same reason as set forth in the 2nd answer to your previous question. Your 4th question is answered the same as the answer I gave to the 2nd question you asked.

It seems apparent to me, you judge Moses wrong; how do you know whether or not he was wrong?

Tell me, David, what is the context of this scenario in Numbers 31? Whatever difficulty you and I have about the situation (as recorded), this difficulty does not mitigate against anything relative to the Lord’s decision in this matter. As soon as you judge it otherwise, with your lack of understanding of the situation, I ask again: what standard are you using to apply any “wrongness” to the actions done?

What makes slavery wrong, David? Is there any “rightness” to being a bond-servant (a form of slavery)? If so, then what makes it right? Since slavery is not part of the reading you introduced, I will wait for you to answer my questions before I address yours.

DLH: Re: your first comment “The only way to judge… actions of man”

This of course asserts your opinion. This also explains why you can justify the execution of boys and the abduction of girls into sex slavery; whereas I cannot

My standard of right and wrong is based upon effect; hence I regard Moses as being dead wrong for executing boys and for allowing young virgins to be taken as sex slaves

We could discuss genocide; which in the context of Deut 2 and 3 I am certain you would justify; whereas I maintain Moses was dead wrong there as well

We could discuss the slaying of men, women, and children such as in the context of Joshua 6:21; which I am sure you would justify; whereas I maintain that the Israeli army that day was dead wrong for murdering women and children

We could discuss drowning babies; which in the context of Genesis 6-7 I am certain you would justify, but in my book Jehovah was dead wrong for drowning innocent babies

On and on we could go citing examples of atrocities that you can justify but which I seem as being wrong. That which distinguishes our assessments of certain deeds is of course our differing standards for right and wrong; that which you call the measuring stick; that which I like to term my moral compass

Your standard; which is based upon faith; permits you to justify infanticide, genicide, executions of children, and sex slavery: whereas my standard which is based on feelings, does not permit me to justify such atrocities regardless of who authorizes such

We merely judge right and wrong by different standards old friend

RT: That which you call an opinion has two things going for it. 1) It’s based on trying to understand an objective transcendent standard of morality that is higher than man (something you can’t do). 2) It attempts to understand difficult circumstances in life based on a Judge that will call all people to account (something you will regret).

You judge Moses to be wrong, but for no objective, transcendent reason you can offer. You just assert it, just as you assert genocide in Deuteronomy 2 and 3. Rather than assert, make the case for it being exactly that.

You assert that the Israeli army was wrong in Joshua 6, but you can’t say as to why – only that you don’t like it.

As far as you are concern, with Joshua 6, Genesis 6-7 (others), there is no accountability associated with the wrong-doing of man. If you give room for just a little bit of punitive accountability, you can’t say what is the proper measurement for proper application; you can only say what you would not do.

You speak about sex-slaves, but not an ounce of evidence from the text you inserted do you show. You offer the dishonorable shotgun blast, hoping something will stick – and it doesn’t.

All you are able to offer in this discussion is smoke; there is no substance. You offer no standard of measurement to adjudicate wrong action, only an opinion about what you don’t like. That which you deny exists (God) will be the one you stand before, then what will you offer to him? No doubt, you will say to him what he should not have done, thinking you have the higher moral compass. You go ahead and stick to your moral compass, but it is based on no law that is transcendent, only subjective (the “I thinks” of the world).

My standard is based on something greater than man; yours is not. My standard is based on evidence that God exists, while your standard is based on hope that he does not exist. My standard justifies nothing of which you falsely accuse, but your standard can’t say that it (or anything) is wrong, or even why – only that you feel that it is.

Yes, we judge by different standards; true enough, Dave. Your standard based on effect is the standard of “might makes right” (this was said on purpose to see your response to it).

Dave, you have the last word tonight, assuming you want to reply. If so, I will cut and paste, and try to get word to you tomorrow, that is, I will offer no reply additional reply tonight.

I hope you have a great evening, old (and still) friend (I like your term of affection).

DLH: I think every person lives by standards which are a synthesis of conditioned values and natural values.
My effort is to trust the latter.

Natural values are a moral compass developed from ones natural capacity for compassion; hence forging an ethical code based upon each of one’s daily experiences. I don’t expect you to understand or agree, as such would conflict with your ideology. Suffice it to say that your values which are grounded in faith, allow you to justify actions which are naturally wrong.

The very deeds that you can justify in one situation, I am sure you would be appalled by in a non biblical context.

I know you as a person all too well to actually believe that you can justify the atrocious deeds in the contexts aforementioned on their own merits, yet you find yourself in the awkward position of defending the actions of people who are said to have executed such atrocities merely based upon contexts which you have come to trust as being events in accord with what you perceive to be sacred doctrine.

Your conditioned values are subjective and situational; your natural values are at the core of the fact that you are a good and decent person who lives by a moral code which far exceeds that of Moses, Joshua, and others. Which leads me back to the OP.

I am relieved that the Christians, Jews, and the Muslims with whom I am acquainted have adopted values which exceed those of the shortcomings of Moses; whose values are more represented by extremist factions of each rather than by the average representative of each respective religious ideology so mentioned

RT: It is true that people live by values, and some of them are synthesized; no issue there. Those values, however, came from some source – what is that source? You speak of it as a natural source, which is materialistic and mechanical. The material-chemical components of this takes away free-will, but you earlier said to me (in a previous discussion) that man has free-will, thus is accountable. If no free-will, no accountability. This approach of yours, natural values, is arbitrary, situational (fluid) and unknown to man.

Where there is no law, there is no wrong.

I understand perfectly what it is that you subscribe to, but the inherent failing of that foundation means there is no real wrong in this world or, for that matter, no real right in this world. It is all a matter of what one thinks at the time it is thought. It can be nothing else.

You speak of the values I subscribe to, at least some of them, as being naturally wrong. Really? Tell me how natural law can say anything is wrong apart from “I feel.”

As soon as you begin to delineate between what should and should not be done, another may offer a contrary approach, even contradictory, then how will “nature” determine which is the correct approach? Of course, it can’t.  [A natural perplexity, one might say] This would be “naturally,” you know [lined out text was part of original, but it makes no good sense]. Since homosexuality is against nature and self-defeating, is it wrong?

My values are grounded in a transcendent Being that will call all to account one day.

You have spoken against the situations, but have not offered anything of substance as to why – except that you don’t like it; you can’t say why it is wrong, only that you think it is. You dismiss the context of the situation because you focused on one aspect of it; that is [thus], mishandling information. It’s a lot like those in the political environment who play “gotcha.” Context has everything to do with it, and so does the source/foundation of judgment. Admittedly, I find the situation perplexing – I don’t mind saying so – but I also understand the context of the immediate situation and the whole situation (something you don’t). The one in whom I trust is in far better position to adjudicate than you, me or any other.

You speak about my conditioned values, should you not speak about your own? You can’t show for even a moment that my values, that is, the foundation upon which they are built, is subjective and/or situational. I invite you to try. You also speak about the short-comings of Moses, et al, but offer nothing as to why or what is to replace it – except one’s personal feelings, which is exactly why our modern society is where it is regarding a moral compass. It has none.

Brother, this conversation we have had before, and we both know the direction it goes. I am willing to continue it, but what writing is done by you/me will be for the benefit of those who read it (I will post it on my blog, and I invite you to do the same on yours).

DLH: Ron, you are arguing on behalf of the execution of boys, the taking of virgin girls as sex slaves, infanticide, and genocide. Is it really that difficult to know that such things are wrong? I maintain that in any non-biblical context that you would have no problem judging such atrocities as being wrong.

RT: Dave, I am arguing that the standard you have is no standard at all. In fact, to utilize what you apply, there is no chance anyone can be wrong about anything — none. Whatever questions you have about a standard different and greater than your own does not mitigate against the just nature of it. You have offered nothing authoritative, obligatory, objective or better. In fact, you can’t. The best you can offer is “I feel (or think)”.


Addendum – I am disappointed I did not aggressively address the accusations leveled against the Lord better than I did. I guess it is a lesson learned.

1 Peter 3.21 and Conditional Time Salvation


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Some days previous to the discussion that follows, I had a thorough discussion on free-will in relation to salvation. I found this to be a profitable endeavor, so I decided to pursue the same on the words of Peter in 1 Peter 3:21. The discussion below took place just before the close of the calendar year 2016 on a FB Christian Discussion page. Following this discussion are the words of expositors I have included from E-Sword, my electronic Bible program. The mistakes in the posts are retained; I did a cut and paste maneuver. I would cut and paste their words into a word document, reply to them from the same document, then return a cut/paste into the FB page.

RT: Proposition for Discussion: The Bible expressly states baptism saves. This is either true or false. Since there is no middle ground on this, I think it is worthy of a thorough discussion. The statement is true; Peter expressly states it in 1 Peter 3:21. I am looking for one (ones) to deny it.

Carol Dixon: Jesus didn;t say that to Nicodemus-Just faith in Christ. Enough for me. Enough for the thief on the cross

James Henry:  According to the Bible and early church fathers, baptism = regeneration. It is part and required for salvation. The thief on the cross is an exception. Plus that happened before Christ’s resurrection, and therefore doesn’t count anyways.

Brent Becky Baxter:  It is God through Christ who saves. God saves through redemption. Every one who is baptized in water is saved is where in the Bible? 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience. One has to be hard pressed to put water baptism into this context 1 Peter 3:18-21. 18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. 21 Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

BBB: Peters whole context is as the 8 souls were in the ark they were saved from the Judgement. As the Christian is saved from the judgement because he is in Christ, and that is what is symbolized by the baptism of the Christian. Death , burial, and resurrection by faith because the believer is in Christ and the judgement is yet coming

Esther Gilbert:  I would also look at Titus 3:4-7

BBB: Eph 5:26 …so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.BB: Eph 5:26 …so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

RT: Taking the thoughts from the earlier posts, in this one I am making this early morning, I offer the following:  What did Jesus say when He spoke to Nicodemus? He said one must be born from above, and the two components of the new birth are water and spirit, presumably Holy Spirit (though Jesus did not make use of the term, translators capitalized the word). It is true that it is God through Christ who saves – no question. Yet, when Peter spoke by the authority of God/Christ, he said something about baptism. Is one really hard-pressed to get “water” in 1 Peter 3:21? The very verse brought into the discussion teaches it. Peter even spoke in the context of the passage about the significance of water, thus making his explicit reference to water baptism and its relation to salvation in 3:21. Brent quoted the verse for us (KJV), but the translation used makes no difference; it reads similar in the ASV, NKJV, NIV, ESV, Williams Translation, etc. To this point in the discussion, there has been no successful denial of what Peter said when he said baptism saves. The context of Peter is as follows: 1) Christ suffered to make man alive, 2) He went to preach to the spirits in prison, disobedient in the days of Noah, 3) During that time, Peter expressly said 8 souls were saved by water, 4) Baptism corresponds to that which occurred in Noah’s day. 5) This baptism is a matter of a good conscience before God in direct relation to the resurrection. Brent, your 2nd post is accurate. Your Ephesians 5:26 reference said one’s spiritual cleansing is via the Word, but is that a symbol of some sort, or something different? Peter did not use the same terminology Paul used. Paul speaks of the power of God’s Word, while Peter speaks of the physical element we know to be water. Since I know you know the two don’t contradict, what is it we are to understand in relation to the two references?

Dick Dixon: My question to you is why are you so adamant on trying to prove that baptism is the only way to heaven? You use the Apostles to try and prove “your” point but you totally avoid Jesus. He is the way! Get your head out of the water and into Christ.

RT: Did I really say baptism is the only way to heaven? You need to look again at what I said. Moreover, did the apostles speak without the authority of Christ? Should I understand you to mean this? It sounds that way.

[In reply to Esther Gilbert the remark on Titus 3:4-7, Dick Dixon wrote]: Just so you don’t have to search the passage Ron Thomas, this is scripture of salvation without water. Titus 3:4-7 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Dick Dixon [speaking against me, replying to a devo by Syd Swann (below), wrote]: Thanks Syd for this and maybe Ron Thomas could use #1 and contemplate trusting in Jesus and not so much in himself. Just saying!

In a devo for new believers but s good reminder for all. These five steps will get you off to the right S-T-A-R-T, as you follow Christ: 1. Stop trusting in yourself and your own good works, and start trusting in Christ alone for salvation. (Ephesians 2:8–9), 2. Turn away from everything the Bible calls sin. (2 Timothy 2:19), 3. Attend a small group for personal discipleship and weekly worship services. (Hebrews 10:25), 4. Read and obey your Bible every day. (Joshua 1:8), 5. Tell others about your new relationship with Christ. (Mark 5:19–20)

Byron Davis:  Now baptism and salvation are closely related but are separate. One is a gift and the other is an act of obedience. If salvation was hung on baptism and the apostle Paul was concerned about the salvation of people why didn’t he baptise many people? (1 Corinthians 1). I suppose it’s because God saves through preaching…not baptism.

RT: Bryon, is Peter wrong, then, in the OP? Based on what I have seen you post before, I don’t think you will say Peter is wrong. Does salvation hang on repentance? It is true that salvation is a gift, and it is also true that salvation does not hang on baptism, but it is also true that Peter said baptism saves. How do you reconcile this?

Byron: No Peter isn’t wrong. What baptism symbolizes is the thing that saves us…. The death burial and resurrection of Christ is the actual thing that saves. Baptism is closely associated with salvation because it is the new believers call to identify with Christ by baptism.  It’s not necessary for salvation… But should follow closely behind profession. This is the picture when i take the Scriptures as a whole.

RT: Byron, you expressly said that baptism is not necessary for salvation, but Peter said it saves. These two points of expression are opposed one to the other. At the same time, however, you said Peter is not wrong. If Peter is not wrong, then in what way does it save? If I understand you correctly, you maintain baptism is important for it is associated with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, even if in picture (symbolic) form. Since it is associated with the death, burial, and resurrection, can one be saved without that association?

Byron: The reality of what baptism symbolizes saves. That is the picture when all the Scriptures are taken as a whole.

RT: Then, without that reality that you speak of, one can’t be saved, right? One needs to be associated with the death, burial, and resurrection, that is the reality of which you speak. Thus, baptism saves.

Byron: We are saved apart from any good works (baptism is a good work). Before our feet hits the water we are saved by the finished work of Christ… After that we are to bear fruit worthy of repentance…. One of those fruit is obedience in baptism. What baptism symbolize is what saves… Not our act of actually doing it

RT: Baptism is not identified in Scripture as a “good work.” Since you say that it is, please identify a New Testament passage that teaches it. But, let us say that it is (for discussion sake), is it the work of man or the work of God? To ask it differently, is it a work that originated in the mind of man, or is it a work that originated in the mind of God? Since man is saved by the finished work of Christ, then there is absolutely nothing required of him to do or obey! The finished work of Christ was on the cross (“It is finished”), or did you have something else in mind? The problem you have, Byron, is that the Holy Spirit said baptism saves, so your assertion that one is saved before and without baptism is false. You have incorporated theology, not biblical exegesis. Even if I were to grant your distinction, a distinction without merit, “What baptism symbolize is what saves… Not our act of actually doing it” – it still says it saves. There is no way for you to get around it.

BBB: The only water in the context of the 1 Peter passage is that of Noah’s flood. If we can make this baptism what ever we want to then we can also make it a baptism of fire or the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:16). The fact is “corresponding to that” (NASB) in verse 21 means that the pattern in verse 20 is Peter’s meaning and that is, the eight souls were brought safely through the water while in the ark. To get a good and thorough understanding of Peter’s meaning, it must be kept in the whole context beginning in chapter 1:3 the entire implication of being “in Christ”.

Words like “therefore” help keep the reader in the context of the writer and lead the reader to the concluding or summarizing issues the writer is intending to be communicated. Life in Christ is a saving baptism. Thats the context of 3:21 which begins at new birth 1:23 …

RT: From an earlier post, I wrote: “The context of Peter is as follows: 1) Christ suffered to make man alive, 2) He went to preach to the spirits in prison, disobedient in the days of Noah, 3) During that time, Peter expressly said 8 souls were saved by water, 4) Baptism corresponds to that which occurred in Noah’s day. 5) This baptism is a matter of a good conscience before God in direct relation to the resurrection.” To sustain numbers 4 & 5, the following is provided:

“The same earthly copy, namely, saving by means of water, which was presented in the Flood, is again presented in Baptism. Now, as then, it represents the same heavenly original, life issuing out of death. This rendering enables us to retain the usual meaning of ἀντίτυπον.” (Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary)

“The antecedent to the relative, whichever word is used, is clearly not the ark, but water; and the idea is, that as Noah was saved by water, so there is a sense in which water is made instrumental in our salvation. The mention of water in the case of Noah, in connection with his being saved, by an obvious association suggested to the mind of the apostle the use of water in our salvation, and hence led him to make the remark about the connection of baptism with our salvation.” (Barnes)

“The persons and the things compared must be carefully borne in mind. The ὀλίγοι in Noah’s day were saved by water; we also are saved by water. The ἀντίτυπον to that water on which the ark floated, saving its inmates, is the water of baptism;” (Alford’s Greek New Testament Commentary)

It is obvious, men of greater learning than yourself dispute your understanding of the passage. The context of 3:20 (water) applies precisely to Peter’s application in 3:21. One does not have to travel outside the immediate context to understand what is being said.  Your NASV rendering does not alter one bit what the KJV, ASV, or any other translation reads.

I find it interesting that you want to go back to C-1 for a context. I think that is a good thing, but that which you find in C-1 will not mitigate what Peter plainly and expressly said in C-3. “Life in Christ is a saving baptism. Thats the context of 3:21 which begins at new birth 1:23 …” Really? Nothing in the verse says that, nothing in the immediate context says that, and nothing going back to C-1 says that. Funny, how I have not seen others say anything like this!

BBB: So Peter just throws verse 21 into the context for no reason but to make an isolated statement that whatever baptism one wants to think he is stating can be used ? Then one needs to put his faith in water baptism and ignore the context of the epistle the chapter and verses immediately before and after v, 21.

RT: You have misread the context and chapter. There is nothing in isolation here. V. 21 is the context of Peter’s point. The expositors’ I referenced makes this clear, but one does not have to read them to see this. It is very clear without them. The “salvation by water” of v. 20 correspond to the “salvation by water” of v. 21. For the benefit of those following this discussion – there is NOTHING in the water that saves, it is all in the Lord. Still, Peter states that “baptism saves.” In what way, then? It saves because the Lord declares it so. No other reason. For one who “puts his faith in water baptism,” that one is attempting to be saved by a means other than what the Lord said, saved by works. Give me an expositor that you have on your shelf that speaks contrary to what I offered, and then we will go from there.

BBB: You have misread the context and chapter.

RT: Well, okay. I offered you an analysis, and I offered you the analysis of others, but it seems you are the only one who has it correct. I suppose, then, we will let others decide as they read this discussion and the context of 1 Peter.

BBB: And I offered you context without any pre- positional additions. I think this thread has run its course.



Wilbur Pickering’s New Testament Notes: Why ‘antitype’ rather than ‘type’? I suppose because the roles are reversed: the ark was to save Noah from the water, the water was the problem; in baptism the water is part of the solution, it saves us from something else. From what, from sin and death? Probably not. I have been given to understand that for the early Church water baptism was meant to do the following: by invoking the name of the Lord Jesus Christ the convert was placing himself under Christ’s protection and repudiating Satan and the world system (with its values) and the demons controlled by him. Recall that in the New Testament water baptism followed immediately upon conversion (no weeks or months of instruction). Peter discounts the physical effect of water—the point is to appeal to God in good conscience—and goes on to the victory of Christ over death and the whole angelic hierarchy. So obviously He is in a position to protect us from Satan and his angels. RT: Baptism “saves us from something else.” What is that something else? Some sort of demonic influence from a 2nd century (?) teaching? Is that what we are to accept? Paul was told by Ananias to arise and be baptized washing away his sins as he called on the Lord’s name. Conversion in the New Testament was accomplished when sins were forgiven, not before. Paul connected baptism with the blood (death) of Christ and forgiveness.

RWP (Robertson’s Word Picture): The world’s most renown Greek grammarian (or at least he was) commented on 1 Peter 3:21, but some of his remarks were quite disappointing. RWP gives the Greek of the passage along with syntax. His comments may or may not be complimentary to his exegesis. For instance, in the remark, “So here baptism is presented as corresponding to (prefigured by) the deliverance of Noah’s family by water. It is only a vague parallel, but not over-fanciful” means what? Is Peter really that vague in his remark? No, he is not vague; in fact, he is rather clear and plain spoken. Then there is this remark, “The saving by baptism which Peter here mentions is only symbolic (a metaphor or picture as in Rom. 6:2-6), not actual as Peter hastens to explain.” Is the word “symbolic” somehow to less the salvific force of the word? With Robertson’s proper tie-in with Romans 6, there is no small significance to what Paul said when coupling baptism with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Is this merely symbolic? If one so argues, then that symbol saves! Finally, there is this, “Baptism, Peter explains, does not wash away the filth of the flesh either in a literal sense, as a bath for the body, or in a metaphorical sense of the filth of the soul. No ceremonies really affect the conscience (Heb. 9:13.). Peter here expressly denies baptismal remission of sin. This is flat false! Peter does no such thing; this is theological commentary, and nothing more. Moreover, this makes Peter contradict himself in Acts 2:38 and in Paul’s application of 22:16.

PBC (Primitive Baptist Commentary): “Baptism doth also now save us” In order to lessen the force of Peter’s easily understood words, the PBC resorts to a hermeneutical maneuver that is not repeated by any expositor that I have seen. The maneuver is from the perspective of “under the sun” and “above the sun.” In other words, there is the point of understanding that is material and physical in this earthly realm, but this is to be contrasted with the “above the sun,” or spiritual realm. Peter’s remark in 3:21 applies to the “under the sun” realm, not “above the sun.”

Their support for this hermeneutical procedure is as follows: “In the appendix to the Fulton Convention will be found these words: ‘We believe the Scriptures teach that there is a time salvation received by the heirs of God distinct from eternal salvation, which does depend upon their obedience. The people of God receive their rewards for obedience in this life only.’ Please notice that these brethren at Fulton understood that the time salvation was “distinct from” the eternal salvation. It was different from and was separate from the eternal salvation (distinct) They also stated that the benefits were received “in this life only.” (timely not eternal) These brethren at Fulton also believed that this time salvation was dependent upon obedience. They stated that it “does depend upon their obedience.” This time salvation is achieved only when the obedience is performed. The performance of that obedience is the fulfilling of a condition. In order for time salvation to be achieved a condition will have to be performed. One must “do” something in order to experience “time salvation.” Whatever it is that one must do, it will become the performing of a condition. (doing something in this regard is performing a condition) This text in 1 Pet. 3:21 is a case example of “conditional time salvation”. RT: A remarkable sentiment here, but one the Holy Spirit speaks nothing about. There is no conditional time salvation distinct from eternal salvation. Notice the authority for the words and idea is the “Fulton Convention.” In other words, one must go to the mind of man to gain a doctrine of man, then justify it as an exegesis of the passage! Peter speaks nothing in 3:21 concerning “conditional time salvation.” This is a plain illustration of 2 John 9

Not only is the above remark not in accordance with New Testament teaching, but notice also the length they go in describing baptism as a work. “A person who is baptized must put forth some activity—he must make some signal that he desires to be baptized. If nothing else he must “submit” to be baptized. Submitting is “doing.” When one submits to be baptized he is fulfilling a condition necessary to the obtaining of this particular saving. The minister who performs the baptism is also “doing” something in procuring this salvation. This is a salvation that involves “works” of creatures and it requires obedient works. And these works do fulfill conditions.” It is tough to be charitable with comments like this, but charitable I will be. This is entirely misguided! There is nothing in the New Testament that even remotely suggests this. This is a doctrine of man to mitigate the Lord’s teaching on the necessity of baptism.

Ironside Notes: And just as those who entered the ark passed through the flood of judgment to a new earth so in baptism the obedient believer is saved in symbol. It is not the going into the water that saves but that of which baptism speaks and which a good conscience demands: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. RT: The word “symbol” is from a Greek word that other translations render “antitype.” If a believer is saved in a symbol, then that symbol is necessary to salvation – how can it not be, especially when the Holy Spirit declared it so? Yes, it is true that it is not going into the water – in and of itself – that saves, but the salvation that comes from God is in relation to one obeying God in the way He said it was to be done.

John Gill: it saves not as a cause, for it has no causal influence on, nor is it essential to salvation. Christ only is the cause and author of eternal salvation; and as those only that were in the ark were saved by water, so those only that are in Christ, and that are baptized into Christ, and into his death, are saved by baptism; not everyone that is baptized, but he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved, Mk. 16:16, for baptism RT: Is it not interesting the Baptist preacher in one part of the sentence can recognize that baptism saves, but then in another part of the same sentence say it’s not essential to salvation? If it saves, then, by necessity, it is essential to salvation! Now, if he meant that baptism is not the cause of salvation, then there is no exception to be taken to his words. Yet, when he followed with “nor is it essential to salvation” he neutralized his words – especially when the Lord declared that it was essential to salvation. The Lord Christ is the cause of salvation, but one’s salvation will not result with one meeting the conditions the Lord set forth.  

John Calvin: As Noah, then, obtained life through death, when in the ark, he was enclosed not otherwise than as it were in the grave, and when the whole world perished, he was preserved together with his small family; so at this day, the death which is set forth in baptism, is to us an entrance into life, nor can salvation be hoped for, except we be separated from the world. RT: John Calvin certainly spoke true words here!




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This discussion took place between myself and Brent Baxter on a FB Christian Discussion page. Brent, after the discussion, expressed to another that I attacked him. As you read the discussion, you must decide whether I did or not. I can tell you that I made it a point not to do so. I was hard on his handling of Scripture, but I did not attack him. He also mentioned he is pleased to converse with me because he likes the fact that I will engage in conversation to a great depth. Though Brent denies he is a Calvinist, he argued in this discourse as one. In the course of the dialogue, one will see bracketed notes. These are transcribed from the hard copy I printed, with some additional elaborations. Typos and pitiful expressions are from the discourse, a “cut and paste” into this word document.

The original post from Brent Becky Baxter (BBB)

Humbling thought

It is true that God’s word, the Bible was written for His chosen in that it is spiritually appraised by those He has enabled to hear. This enabling comes by no intrinsic value of the hearer but solely by God’s sovereign grace alone. Jesus said. Through John that His sheep hear his voice and another they simply will not follow.
It’s a work He initiates in the believer and swears by His own character to bring it to completeness.
No one knows who is going to hear. Our responsibility as faithful stewards to whom He has entrusted it, is to proclaim the gospel. Reasoning in the scripture as necessary.
This really is a good discussion group for just such fellowship

RT: I will engage. Since God enables some, but not others, then God is responsible for those who are not enabled. If I understand you correctly, this is what you are saying. I am interested in your scriptural support.

BBB: You finally got it.. never quite understood What is so hard to understand about ” He loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses and sin, He made us alive”
Further, Eph 2:3 by nature, children of wrath, leaves no capacity to consent to ones own new birth. The natural man cannot appraise his spiritual condition of needing salvation. 1 Cor 2:14

RT: Thus God is responsible for the natural man’s damnation since the natural man has no capacity to consent. The natural man is not responsible.

BBB: Genesis 2 and 3 gives a crystal clear account of who is responsible for death and damnation and it wasn’t God.
When God set before the nation of Israel life or death, their response was. ” all that the Lord has said, we will do and will obey”. Ex 23:7. Now I don’t know about anyone else but it’s pretty clear that until God puts a new heart in them they can say and do whatever, but it’s only the remnant that God reserves unto himself that are redeemed. Now the whole OT ends in showing how well their self will according to the flesh worked out for them. The arrogance of self effort for them is clearly stated in Malachi. “How have we despised you ?” They said

RT: You go to the OT to develop at NT teaching? Your remark on Ephesians is wrong. I want you to develop this from what Paul taught to Ephesus. In Gen. 2 & 3, was Adam a natural man, that is, a fleshly man? If he was, did he have freedom of will? In Deut 30, was the nation of Israel natural, that is, fleshly? Did they have freedom of will to accept or reject?

BBB: Paul in Romans 5 makes the case for the development of a N T teaching beginning in the O T. The second Adam. Follow closely Romans 5, Romans 8, 1 Cor 15:45.
Adam, had freedom of will concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He ate and died that very day. Than what free will did he have thereafter ? All the choices of a dead man.
How did Israels freedom of will turn out for them ? What was the sum total of their spiritual dead state ? They couldn’t even identify their Messiah . Romams 9. 10, and 11 is not describing a frustrated God who is waiting for Israel to exercise their free will or free choice but God who is in control of who and when He will give life to the spiritually dead. This is consistent with Ezekiel and Gods intentions.
Now as far as Ephesians the spiritual death is clear. That which, while it was dead, God made alive. Paul teaches the same truth in Ephesians that he teaches throughout Romans and he is consistent with the Genesis nerative of death, the need of a new heart in Ezek 11:19. The spiritual birth of John 3

[To this point, note the following remarks he made from the dialogue: (1) “This enabling comes by no intrinsic value of the hearer but solely by God’s sovereign grace alone.” (2) “It’s a work He initiates” (3) “Eph 2:3 by nature, children of wrath, leaves no capacity to consent to ones own new birth” (4) “it’s pretty clear that until God puts a new heart in them…” (5) “but God who is in control of who and when He will give life to the spiritually dead.” To this point this boils down to this: man has no free will in relation to salvation. In other words, there is nothing he can do to initiate or do to be saved, God must do the initiating, that is, enabling him to respond.]

RT: Your remark on Romans 5 needs to be more specific. There is nothing within C-5 that speaks against freewill. With regard to your remarks on Adam, making a choice does not speak against his freewill, only a prohibition set in place concerning a particular tree. There wss [was] nothing Adam could do to generate a plan to get back to God. This speaks nothing against freewill, however. On Romans 9-11, that is answered in 9:30 – 10:3. Israel tried to establish their own plan, complementary to my point on Adam. In Ephesians, spiritual death is clear, but where does Paul speak against freewill? Moreover, your remarks along this line are contrary to Acts 10:34-35. John 3 speaks nothing about freewill (for or against), only that one must be born again from above.

BBB: The contrast between the first man Adam and the second Adam and what comes by each is not unclear or nonspecific. That would be the passages in Romans and Corinthians for those Armenians in Broward co.
As for the passage in Ephesians, here is a list of the fruit of free will from a spiritually dead person not yet made alive:
1- walked according to the course of this world
2- walked according to the prince of the power of the air
That would be Adam and Eves free will.
For Armenians that would be their free will before death, to walk according to the deceiver not according to Gods command
3- walking according to the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience
4- living in the lust of the flesh
5- indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind
6- by nature children of wrath
Now Paul justifies his theology of dead in sin in Romans 3:11 when he quotes the Psalmist that there are none who seek God. Now only a Plegian and Arminian inserts a free will to choose God in this theology
It all goes back to the difference in how one interprets the passage in Genesis 2:17, ” in the day you eat from it you will surely die “.
And therein Ron, you and I evidentially will never interpret the same

[An analysis of the foregoing: Paul’s point in the Ephesian section alluded to by Brent is in the fact those dead in sin chose to walk as Paul described, they chose willfully to live in accordance with the ways of the world. those who chose to walk in a certain way, is it possible those same ones can choose to walk in a different way? In regards to the Romans 3:11 remark, if none seek God, and God controls the who and when of a person’s salvation, then life given to the spiritually dead is a directly a consequence of God’s action. Or, to state it differently, if God chooses not to give person X an enablement to be saved, then person X is not culpable, not accountable for why he is lost.]

RT: Of course, I said nothing in relation to a confusion of contrasts in Romans 5:12-21. It’s obvious the Holy Spirit is making a contrast, but not against free will. Paul speaks about that which passed (death/life) from one to all (be it Adam or Christ), not a contrast of enabling/non-enabling or free will/non-freewill.
There is nothing in Ephesians 2 that speaks against free will, and neither does Paul intimate such a thing. Paul begins his thought in C-2 by saying God made those in Ephesus alive, but did He say how? He made us alive together having raised us up in Christ when those saved were saved by faith, something Paul said they heard (they heard the gospel taught), then obeyed that which they heard, as stated in 1:13 (cf. Acts 16:31-33). There is nothing in chapters 1 and/or 2 that speaks against free will, but there is something in chapter 1 that speaks of hearing, trusting (believing), then being sealed.
Paul’s point in the litany of Scripture (Romans 3:11ff) is NOT against free will, but only that man does not seek the Lord. I will leave off saying anything more on this point until you have something further to say.
Yes, it may be the case that you and I will not interpret the same way, but there is no chance that you are correct in your reasoning against free will. 1) You have implicitly prescribed to God culpability in one’s damnation, making man excusable, something expressly denied by Scripture (Romans 1:2). 2) God commands all people everywhere to repent, but if a person can’t repent because God has not enabled that one to do so, then point #1 is additionally established. 3) You make God partial in salvation with your teaching of enabling / non-enabling, something the Scripture expressly denies (Acts 10:34-35).

BBB: What does mans free will produce ? What is it that free will that initiates the new birth when Christ makes it clear that those He saves are according to Gods eternal purposes..
Free will connotates a will independent from any other will. Man’s free will is not Gods will or it would not be free.
As to the being made alive, its called the new birth. John 1:12. Makes no allowance for the free will of man because the receiving is qualified as that exercise of God. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

RT: Man’s free will produces that which he desires to seek. In and of himself, there is no chance that man can generate his own road to salvation. That is Paul’s point with regard to the Romans in chapters 2 through 11. The eternal purposes of God do not, and never have, mitigated man’s free will. Man’s free will can’t initiate salvation’s path, but it can respond to the Lord’s invitation as it pertains to salvation. Paul had free will to produce the fruits of his service against God’s way of righteousness, but it was his free will that generated his response to the Lord when called (Acts 26:19). Man’s free will is not God’s will; in this you are correct (Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23), but man’s free will can align itself with God’s will (Luke 6:46). Your following remark, however, does not follow. Man’s free will may or may not be in line with God’s will. It’s all about obedience (John 3:36; Hebrews 5:8-9). Yes, being made alive in in relation to the new birth, but Paul explained how that occurred in chapter 1.
Your remark on John 1:12 is perplexing. Those who received the Lord, as the verse states, did so because they were enabled by God to do so? It says no such thing! Those who received the Lord had the right, the power, the opportunity to become children of God. Those who respond to the Lord’s invitation (Matthew 11:28-30) have free will to do so; otherwise, the Lord’s invitation is a plain mockery to those who can’t (not won’t, for “won’t” implies free will). Those who reply and obey are born of God.

BBB: Zombie theology puts the free will of the spiritually dead working alongside Gods will and gives credit to the flesh for the internal workings of the Holy Spirit in the drawing process where Christ states plainly ” no man can come to the Son except the Father draw him.” Purely the Holy Spirit’s work on the rebellious free will of the flesh. As to the mockery of God toward those He has not chosen, What man or chunk of clay can accuse God of unrighteousness in His sovereign choices ? To base an entire theology of free will on that false assumption is not is not a sound Biblical theology of sin.

RT: This is all that you can do in the way of argumentation, to be disparageing? Be that as it may, you have not refuted one single point of anything I have offered. You have dismissed it, but not refuted it. You misuse John 6:44, for you did not cite the next verse that speak of how the drawing occurs. That which you call false theology has certainly stood the test of this discussion, for if you could refute it biblically, you would have. As it is, you have not and cannot. If you want to debate the workings of the Holy Spirit, then we can, or if you want to debate what Paul meant in Romans 9, we can. Hopefully, others will find this discussion beneficial to their own studies.

Robert Kramer: Nothing new here from the reformed theology side. It’s hard to believe they actually believe they’re representing accurately the arguments they oppose. I love my brothers who are “reformed” leaning, but the constant misrepresentation of those with whom they differ continues to leave me perplexed. Seems a lot like what we see in DC today on politics. I certainly hope it’s not an intentional misrepresentation.

BBB: The only intentional misrepresentation set forth as Biblical doctrine in this thread is that man has free will to accept or reject God’s offer of salvation. And the best that has been done in argumentation is to insert the concept of free will in every passage mentioned where it is not. Every person is responsible to accept Gods offer of salvation but until God changes that persons will, he continues in his rejection.
Where in scripture do we find. “The Lord’s invitation is a plain mockery to those who can’t “. Now there is some real sound doctrine to build an argument for free will upon. The fact is God is no respecter of persons. To inject free will or even the remote concept into the Ephesian’s 2 passage or the Roman passages mentioned is pure error.
It’s not hard to separate a works religion from a salvation by grace faith. The only acceptable obedience in relation to salvation is that which is led by the Holy Spirit when a believer is filled by the Holy Spirit. The filling and leading is not a result of an active self will, but a self will that is not in control.
The follower of Christ is to die to self daily, pick up his cross and follow. And the proponents of free will say that by exercising the very thing they are to lay aside is the very thing they are to exercise. To take up ones cross and follow is done by denying himself. Now inject self will into that one and it becomes a works religion.
To acknowledge Gods sovereignty into this passage and the predestination of God for the believer makes it a work of grace on the part of God. (Matt. 16:24- )
What the Armenian and Pelagian heresies do is interpret scripture through the ideology that God’s sovereign will is always subject to the free will of lost man. That there is enough good in every human being to exercise free will to choose or reject God’s offer of salvation and that is the definition of a works religion.
Paul states clearly, in the Ephesians 2 passage with no suggestion of free will in any remote sense that we are saved by grace and that not of our selves. The works religionist adds according to man’s free will to receive or reject.
In the John 1 passage those who are given the right to become children of God, were born not of the will of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God. The works religionist adds except for the exercise of the free will of man
Now there is the boast before God. That one has exercise of free will because there is enough good in his lost dead soul to accept or reject Gods grace.

[Bringing the earlier italicized remarks forward from the dialogue, note the following: (1) “This enabling comes by no intrinsic value of the hearer but solely by God’s sovereign grace alone.” (2) “It’s a work He initiates” (3) “Eph 2:3 by nature, children of wrath, leaves no capacity to consent to ones own new birth” (4) “it’s pretty clear that until God puts a new heart in them…” (5) “but God who is in control of who and when He will give life to the spiritually dead.” (6) “John 1:12. Makes no allowance for the free will of man.” (7) “the internal workings of the Holy Spirit in the drawing process…” (8) “Every person is responsible to accept Gods offer of salvation but until God changes that persons will, he continues in his rejection.” It has been argued that man has no free will in relation to salvation. If man has no free will in his salvation, and if he is saved it is only because God enabled him to be saved with some inner working of the Holy Spirit, then if there is no inner working of the Holy Spirit for a man to be saved, then it is not possible for man to be responsible for his “lostness” or damnation.]

RT: Intentional misrepresentations? You are good at assertions, but wanting in evidence. If I am guilty of intentional misrepresentations, then demonstrate wherein I have done so as you have accused; to this point you have not.
You insert “no free-will,” but I have shown via the context you have misused the passage, both in Ephesians 2 and John 6. What have you done in reply, only dismiss it. Moreover, I have conclusively demonstrated you have made God partial in His handling of man in conjunction with salvation. What have you said in reply. Nothing.
You assert every man is responsible to God, but you fail to make the case for this to be so when you assert that God enables one to be saved, but not the other. There is no chance you can reconcile the idea of man being responsible to God for his “lostness,” but at the same time affirm unless God nudges him he can’t be saved! “Every person is responsible to accept Gods offer of salvation but until God changes that persons will, he continues in his rejection.” Thus, you declare, man is responsible; but if man gets no nudge from God – how can he be responsible? YOU have made God responsible for man’s “lostness.”
I have not affirmed the Lord’s invitation is a mockery to those who can’t respond to God’s invitation; instead, I have shown where YOU make it a mockery. YOU make a mockery of God’s invitation extended to all people, but unless God gives some nudge or enablement, one can ‘t be saved. You say [God speaking], “You all need to be saved, but unless I give you a nudge to be saved, you can’t.” Yes, a mockery in full-force.
You have misused Ephesians 2 to make your case, but the context does not allow you to sustain your point.
You assert that I affirm “pure error.” Very well, demonstrate that I have, rather than just assert it.
Man is responsible for his damnation, but how can man be responsible to God for his own condemnation if God does not (or did not) give him an opportunity to reply in the affirmative with an enabling nudge from God? He can’t. There is no chance you can reconcile this. None!
You speak about “works religion,” in relationship to “saved by grace,” but with your reasoning here, I wonder if you even know what Paul means when he speaks of the word “works” in Romans (for instance).
You say “the only acceptable obedience in relation to salvation is that which is led by the Holy Spirit when a believer is filled by the Holy Spirit.” Where does the Scripture teach this?
You say “The filling and leading is not a result of an active self will, but a self will that is not in control.” Where does the Scripture teach this?
You don’t know what it means to die daily or to pick up one’s cross and follow. To do such a thing as this, does one do this of his own free-will, or is this action generated from an outside source, not of his own free-will at all? Identify what the Holy Spirit means when He speaks of a “works religion,” and as you do so, be sure to develop this from the context in which the term is used, that is, assuming you can find this term in Scripture.
I await your answer to these.
The so-called definition of “works religion” is your own, not anything from Scripture supports this definition from man. Am I wrong? I await your reasoning from Scripture to show that I am wrong.
You remark that “Paul states clearly…” in Ephesians 2 that man is saved by grace and that “not of ourselves.” Fine! Your point is? The Scripture also teaches us that God’s grace teaches man to deny ungodliness and to live soberly, righteously in this world (Titus 2:11-12). Does God’s grace teach the non-free-will person?
It appears you have arrived at a point where you are frustrated in this discussion with your insertion and accusation of those who think contrary to you, calling them “works religionists.”
In John 1:12, you have failed to understand the Holy Spirit’s point. When one submits to the authority of God, believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God, then that one who submitted has the right, the power, the privilege of becoming a child of God. Vincent Word Studies states, “Here, therefore, ἐξουσία [authority, power] is not merely possibility or ability, but legitimate right derived from a competent source – the Word.”

BBB: Free will or Gods will is the great theme of scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Failing to understand scripture accurately is not unique to any one person in this thread.
God reveals the truth about Himself in Biblical Scripture. The reader can accept it or reject it. That’s the sum total of free will according to Genesis 2-3. No one can change it. There is no higher standard of right and righteousness than God Himself. Many cannot accept that God is not subject their model of what is right and what is sin.
Romans 9:11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate MY power in you, and that MY name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it
That is a reality about God that the “fig leaf” of self will has no capacity to accept.
For certain, the history of Israel bears this out. This is the name that The LORD proclaims of Himself. No one can change, redefine, or reinterpret this self proclaimed excellency of His being. All would do well to believe all that He discloses.

RT: Not sure if this is something to which I should reply. I have much to say about this passage, but I wonder if there is fatigue in our conversation. To this point I have enjoyed the dialogue. I hope I have not failed you as a disputant. If you think it is warranted, I will continue. On the other hand, if you want to let it rest, then I will do so.

BBB: The text is self explanatory even a new born babe in Christ can understand it. Fatigue or not one cannot explain it away. There are many things in scripture that are hard to hear and as you and I prove once again there is much to consider. Best wishes my C D friend…

Robert Kramer: Once again, when one doesn’t agree with a Calvinist, they “don’t understand self explanatory texts even a new born Christian should understand” with the accusation of not hearing God’s Word. They believe in “heretical” theology. Brent, so if one does not believe in reformed theology/Calvinism, would you represent them as heretics ?

(This is the last bit of the discussion between Brent and me that is germane to this post.)

Prerogative of the Elders


Do you have elders that you support? Hopefully you do. In your support of them, do you ever complain about some policy of theirs that is in place, something with which you disagree with? Perhaps you have not. On the other hand, perhaps you have. If you have, then you are one of many who have done the same. This usual “course of action” may not always be a bad thing, but it can be.

The men who serve as elders of the local congregation are to be in position to serve the Lord, overseeing the work because of the teachings of the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28). Unfortunately, there are some men who serve who have no real relationship with the Triune God, but only a surface one. It shows. The men who have a surface relationship with God don’t have the Lord’s best interest in view, not even once! Rather, they have their own interest in view or that of another human being, perhaps alongside their own. This is a precursor to church dismay and disarray.

When the Holy Spirit does the leading (teaching), the men who serve as elders are men who should serve as elders. These are men who are committed to the Lord’s way in all things pertaining to righteousness, and moreover, are committed to the individual saint’s spiritual well-being. Don’t you want men like that to serve and lead? I know I do.

These Holy Spirit guided men will apply 1 John 4:1, 1 Peter 4:11, Acts 17:11 and Romans 15:18 in all aspects (and this only includes but a small portion of Scripture to support the point). The men who serve as elders need only allow the oracles of God to be preached, testing all things that are taught in relation to the revealed will of God. Men who do this are guided by the Holy Spirit’s teaching, not some nebulous subjective way of thinking with which many subscribe to today.

What about matters of opinion? In Mark 7, the religious leaders asked of Jesus why His disciples did not walk in accordance with the tradition of the elders (7:5). Are matters of opinion and the traditions of the elders similar? They are in one respect, but in the context of Mark 7, the opinions of the men who lived long before the time of those who inquired of Jesus became more than just a tradition, it became an authoritative rule to be obeyed. What made it worse was with the implementation of their traditions, they necessarily set aside the word of God (7:8).

In the local congregation, the men chosen by the Holy Spirit and the members of the congregation (Acts 14:23) have been chosen for their biblical knowledge, their maturity in years, their maturity in biblical understanding and wisdom in leadership. All of this plays a role in the prerogative of the elders.

Men who serve as elders either put in place or sustain an already-put-in-place policy for the local church. If the so-called policy does not conflict with the express will of God (as in Mark 7), it is their prerogative to do this. Presumably, they believe this is the best approach to the local setting of the saints. I am sure they are open to hearing from the saint’s observations and ideas that would make it better. If they disagree with what is offered, that does not make them wrong. Far from it.

It is to their advantage to let everyone know of the policy and to do so on an intermittent basis, but they have not done wrong in so doing. Such things as the kind of apparel men wear in the leading/assisting in the public service of the assembly of the saints, or the time in which the saints gather together, be it Wednesday, Sunday afternoon, etc. Such things as who the treasurer is, and how often a report is printed for the congregation are important matters, but not so important that some initiate a riff amongst the brethren. Do you think it is?

I have always (or nearly so) thought it is a good policy if the elders of the congregation are transparent in that which is done; the idea of secrecy in the eldership encourages others to murmur and establish their own form of secrecy.

There are some who come into the assembly of the saints (for various reason) who are not aware of all the policies of the congregation; they begin to get frustrated because they don’t understand a rationale for what is done. Sometimes they accuse the men who serve, or one of them, with being dictatorial, domineering or something else when nothing of the sort may be the case. This lack of understanding instills an out-of-place interpretation. How should one approach this difficulty?

Given the men follow God’s word in all other areas, our approach to the men called upon to lead us is for us to submit to their authority (1 Peter 5:5-7). One does not have an option in this matter, that is, if one wants to be pleasing to the Lord. “But, I chafe under their leadership!” someone might say. Perhaps, then, it is proper for you to seek an audience with them, sharing and praying together, trying to address the issue that is bothersome to you.

“It won’t work! I have already tried that,” the critic counters.

I am not as pessimistic as some that it won’t work, but if it is true the prayerful sessions have not worked, then perhaps the failing is less on their part and more on the part of the critic. But, whether it is or not, my suggestion is for each to submit oneself to the Lord, casting all concerns/anxieties on Him; let Him be one’s strength and see what you (personal application) can do to be a positive contributor to the work of the congregation.

It is the prerogative of God that we submit and support those who are leading us. Won’t you?


Believing What God Said (Luke 6:46)


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We live in a society where most express belief in God. By and large, that belief is a personal belief; this personal belief, it is thought, does not allow any other person (including a preacher) to say what is believed is wrong. Of course, all beliefs are personal to some varying degree. Personal beliefs can, however, be very much wrong. For instance…..

There are some who believe in God just like the demons, and these people are wrong in their application of what it means to believe in God. Unfortunately, many of these people call themselves Christian (cf. James 2:19)! How can a person say he is a Christian and NOT do what the Lord said? It is simple, really. One’s personal belief also redefines what a Christian is and does. Just like that which the Israelites did, these people do the same, that is, they seek to establish and walk in accordance with their own way of thinking. (Romans 9:30-10:3). Paul did not think this way (Acts 27:25; 26:19) and he certainly did not teach this way (Romans 10:17). Neither should we think we will escape God if we think and operate this way.

God Spoke on Marriage, but marriage in our society is a very confusing social contract. In truth, we live in a society that seems to hardly know what marriage is. One female to another, one male to another, one man to many women, one woman to many men. How long before a human to an animal? The Lord does not and will not regard favorable anything about what society thinks concerning marriage when it compromises His word. In the beginning God made the male and female, joining them together in communion to perpetuate the human race, thereby creating the basic foundation of a civilized community, the family (Genesis 2:21-24. Matthew 19:3-12).

God Spoke on human behavior also. Human behavior is a consequent to many contributing factors in life. What is taught, observed, responded to, developed, experienced are all contributions to one’s behavior. The best teaching known to man is that which comes from the Lord. There is absolutely no way a man, any man can improve on what the Lord provided with regard to educating a person. Human behavior for a Christian is based on a higher will than anything man can produce. It is a holy and righteous way of thinking (Romans 6:16-18).

God spoke on repentance, and many have called this God’s hardest command. I suppose it could very well be God’s hardest command when one thinks about. Consider that repentance is directly associated with one’s will (man) submitting to the will of another (God). It has been my observation that males have a more difficult time with this than the females, but whether that is the case or not, it is still the same that God demands that everyone repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31). If one does not, then the consequences are eternally deadly. This change of thinking is easy when there is something one wants. What do YOU want?

While some think that God’s hardest command is repentance, there are many who will die in their sins before they give ground on baptism—something else that God said a good bit about. Baptism is a burial in water of a person who willingly submits to the Lord’s authority, seeking to please Him who is Lord over all of the material and non-material universe. Blessings received in this submission are the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16), a new set of clothes (Galatians 3:26-27), a seal of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) and a good conscience (1 Peter 3:21). In short, if one is not baptized in accordance with the Lord’s revealed will, that one is not saved!

These are just a few topics on which the Lord spoke. Do you believe Him? Then let your mind, words and life reflect that you do. otherwise, why would you call Him, “Lord, Lord, and do not what it is that He says”? RT



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In Hebrews 10:29, the Lord calls upon us to think about the blood (life) of Christ in such a way that we are NOT to consider what He did for us as something common or ordinary. I am afraid, however, that many people who identify themselves as Christians do exactly that. They come and they go just as they please, never really considering that their actions directly reflect against them in the Lord’s eyes. Lives lived liked this reflect a disposition as if it does not really matter. But, it does matter. It matters to the Lord and, in time, it will matter to the one who so lives. A life lived in this sort of way, intentionally or not, is a life lived that tramples underfoot the Son of God (cf. Heb. 10:29). It is a shame that the person who lives this way actually thinks he (she) can and will stand prepared to meet the Lord! They are delusional in other areas also. RT

Fill it Up!


Shakespeare once said “A good heart is worth gold.” Yet, how shall one gain a good heart? He can use the standard of society, or he can gain a standard that is greater than the society in which he lives. It’s obvious to you what standard he needs to apply. Though this is so, why is it that so many have failed to apply it, even Christians? Because it takes effort to teach one’s heart what is important in life. Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23, NKJV). To “keep your heart” is to protect it; protect it from the corrupting influences in this world;  instead, one needs to fill it up with that which is of greater value. Paul taught, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord (Col. 3:16). RT



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The Scripture tells us that God’s word is living, active and sharper than any two-edged sword. The point of that remark is in relation to the weaponry the Roman soldier would carry into battle. History has spoken of the might of the Roman army, but the might (strength/power) could not have been attained and maintained without the proper equipment and skilled leaders that could train men for the endurance and battles that each would have to engage. Rome could not have lasted as a leading community, a city-state, then an empire for as long as it did (about a thousand years) without something going for it. But, in the fifth century A.D., mighty Rome came “tumbling down” because of many factors, one of which was that residing in the heart of each of its citizens.

While they held sway over the empire, not only was there skill in leadership, there was a weapon of choice. The two-edged sword was a short sword of about 18 inches in length—though the point is not its length/size as much as its effectiveness. It could be used in close combat and effectively used by a skilled soldier. It was not a defensive weapon, but a “close quarter offensive weapon” (Baker Bible Dictionary, p. 1588).

The sword was clearly used for judgment purposes!

In Hebrews 4:12, the Lord, also, speaks of the sword used for judgment purposes. Its two-edged sharpness intimates its capabilities associated with exposing us and our way of thinking to the very foundation of who we are. In other words, there is no escaping the Lord’s knowledge of our intents, purposes and actions. The Word in its judgment of us helps us to see who we actually are, helps us to shape our individual lives in such a way that we live in accordance with the way Jesus lived His life. If we fail the Lord in this, then we have failed ourselves. In Revelation 19:15, the rider on the white horse has a two-edged sword coming from his mouth, clearly conveying judgment against those who have refused his admonitions to repent.

On the other hand, having heard the Lord and having obeyed His holy will, we are called upon by the Holy Spirit to use the sword to help others learn the same thing we already learned. One does not use the Lord’s sword to plunk people on the head, but to help them see themselves as the Lord actually sees them in the present. Thus, when you use the “sword of the Spirit,” don’t use it to tell someone how right you are, but use it as designed by God about how right He is, and that we one day will be called to account by Him, with God using the very word spoken by Jesus to judge us (2 Cor. 5:10, John 12:48). RT

God is Unfair with Those Who Do Not Understand!




Why did Jesus speak in parables when one can’t really understand what is being said? Jesus said, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path” (Matthew 13:19, ESV). In a different translation it reads, “When anyone hears the message of the kingdom and does not understand it, the wicked one comes and carries off the seed that was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path” (Williams New Testament).

Is it really the case that a person can’t understand, or won’t?

Jesus plainly said that if one can’t understand the message he preaches, then Satan comes and takes away the seed (Luke 8:11), not allowing anything to take root. How can this be fair to the one who does not understand?

Adding to this complexity, Jesus was not speaking of the other three types of people He mentioned because one can easily see there was understanding in the responses they made. If one does not understand and Satan comes along and takes away what is sown, then how can those not understanding be guilty of any kind of sin in rejecting Jesus? This seems rather unfair to say they are!

Those who do not understand are not as innocent as one might think. In John 6 we have illustrated for us those who do not understand. The context begins in John 6:22 when many people interacted with Jesus after having seen and experienced the feeding of so many people with so little food. Jesus, however, knew they were there less for His message and more for that which He could give them. Thus, the people started off with a badly placed foundation, so badly placed it is easily seen to be the wrong foundation. There was no interest in hearing that which came from His mouth, only an interest in that which they could put in their own mouths (so to speak)!

Nevertheless, Jesus worked with what He had.

This wrong foundation did not seem to change much – at least with some of them. Try as the Lord might, some were just not interested in altering their own foundation, altering their own way of thinking in a direction that headed toward God, to that which He wanted to consider.

Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:27-29, ESV).

Consequently, near the end of that which the Lord said, those who failed to understand turned and walked away.

Jesus said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples, when they heard these things, said, “This is a difficult saying! Who can understand it?” When Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining about this, he said to them, “Does this cause you to be offended? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascending where he was before? The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help! The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus had already known from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) So Jesus added, “Because of this I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has allowed him to come.” (John 6:59-66, NET)

Who are those who don’t understand? It will not be those who are incapable of understanding, but those who start with the wrong foundation and choose to stay put – regardless of the evidence to the contrary. RT

Prayer, Politeness and Listening

You’re not merely a polite listener