Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Death of Death

I have recently ventured into reading John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, and it has already proved beneficial. However, reading Owen is not easy. I don't have enough dictionaries to follow everything. With that being said, I just read this paragraph from the opening section written to the readers of this book. He is combating the idea of a general atonement and the idea of "free-will" which goes along with it. I found this sentence very good.

It seems our blessed Redeemer's deep humiliation, in bearing the chastisement of our peace and the punishment of our transgressions, being made a curse and sin, deserted under wrath and the power of death, procuring redemption and the remission of sins through the effusion of his blood, offering himself up a sacrifice to God, to make reconciliation and purchase an atonement, his pursuing this undertaking with continued intercession in the holy of holies, with all the benefits of his mediatorship, do no way procure either life and salvation or remission of sins, but only serve to declare that we are not indeed what his word affirms we are,--namely, cursed, guilty, defiled, and only not actually cast into hell.


BillyB said...

I'm not sure I agree with this being a good sentence.

It appears to me that he is saying that everything that Jesus did for us does not procure life and salvation or remission of sin, but serves to declare that everything Jesus said isn't true and we are not actually cast into hell.

If the writer is saying this, I must say the sentence isn't good at all, but a lie.

If he isn't saying this, then the sentence isn't good, because it doesn't simply communicate what he is saying.

Am I wrong in believing that what Jesus did, DID procure life and salvation and remission of sins and that he did this because we indeed were cursed, guilty, and defiled and would most certainly have been cast into hell.

Randy said...

He is actually saying the opposite. He's argument is against those who believe that Jesus died for every man the same way and that salvation is ultimately up to the man, not Christ. His point is that Jesus actually accomplished the salvation of those who believe. He is arguing that Jesus did more than simply provide an opportunity, he secured he salvation of the elect. He is arguing that those who hold to a general atonement mean what he says in that sentence. He does not affirm that.

BillyB said...

I don't read that at all in that sentence. Could you break it down for me?

Plus, are you saying that a man has no part in believing?


If you receive a letter in the mail and it says, come and get your gift. You have a decision to make. You can throw the letter away, because you don't believe there is a gift. You can hold onto the letter, because you think it might be a gift and you may go down to get it. You can believe that it is a gift and go receive it. Belief is instilled in you because of what the words say in the letter but until you choose to believe, and receive the gift, the gift will not be yours.

No doubt Jesus accomplished the salvation. It is the gift of God, for all who believe.

I agree, his death did not secure salvation for those who refuse to believe.

Re: Free Will

You really don't believe we have free will to accept or reject God? You don't believe that once we accept Christ, that we have free will to be disobedient? You think that our lives operate on a program ingrained in us by God, which we are powerless to alter?

I think that's pretty far fetched. If that is true, then every sin we commit was programmed by God. No way Jose.

Please give my questions the same amount of thought that I have given to proposing them. Please.

Randy said...

A couple of things. Owen is combating the idea that Christ died only to provide a possible opportunity for all to be saved. His point is that Christ did more, not less, than provide a way. He secured the salvation of those whom God would send His special grace upon. As far as free will goes, I think it's clear that even believing is a gift from God. If God does not put His Spirit in someone and cause them to obey Him (Ezekiel 36), then they will not respond in faith. Our wills are in bondage to sin. Therefore, if left to ourselves, we will always reject God. I do believe that prior to the fall of man, Adam and Eve were free to not sin. However, after the fall, we are all sinners by nature and by practice. Our wills are inclined to sin. That is why Paul can say that God simply turns over those who reject Him to their own desires (Romans 1). If we were on equal ground to choose or reject, that would be one thing. However, that is not the picture that Scripture gives. Rather, we are sinners who are by nature children of wrath.

Lest you misunderstand me. I certainly do believe that man chooses or rejects God. In fact, man always rejects Him. But, once God causes a man to be regenerated (born-again), which is up to the Spirit of God (John 3), then they joyfully choose to follow Him. So every part of Salvation is completely of God in such a way that the elect are enabled to respond in faith. This is a very quick response, but I already know that do not agree. I am not on here trying to convince you. However, we need to take into account all of the Scriptures. Every part of salvation is a gift given by God (even faith). I certainly cannot say that I completely understand the mystery, but I do want to be faithful to Scripture.

As far as your analogy goes, I do not believe that God is the author of our sin. In fact, I believe that God is gracious and will save some even when all have rejected Him. As far as your analogy goes, however, you are arguing against what Owen has said and actually for the statement he makes in this sentence. You are saying that Christ has only paid for sins once someone believes. Owen is arguing that the cross paid for all the sins of the elect and therefore accomplishes their salvation so that they will believe.

BillyB said...

Thanks Randy,

But still, I don't see how that sentence, which we are discussing says any of that.

Please explain how what he is saying has anything to do with free will at all?

I agree, Christ died for all sin, it is the gift of God, the atonement granted by the sacrifice of Jesus. I haven't said otherwise. However, the gift is only for those who accept it, which is what I think you are saying that the writer is saying, but, still, I just don't read that.

I agree, all of the scriptures are needed to understand what God is saying. Thats why I believe when the bible says that God so loved the world, he means the world. When he says whosoever believes, he means whosoever. The world includes everyone. IF whosoever doesn't include everyone, then, God doesn't love everyone. Which of course, is against his nature, God IS love.

It's a real shame that a word, one word, "elect" has caused so much confusion. I appeal to what I know about God's nature. LOVE

I wonder why God didn't say, "For God so loved the elect, that he gave his son, that whosoever the spirit causes to believe should not perish but have everlasting life, regardless of what they want. It is will of God to save a few, and send the rest to hell."

The answer is obvious, of course, that's not what he meant.

Bless you brother. I hope you don't think my words are said in anger or flippantly or snidely. They are said in love, with a hope to convince you that you are wrong and that anyone who believes that all people don't have the opportunity to be saved are wrong. I think the value of blogs is for ideas to be shared. If you would rather I not continue to post, please just say the word.

Just one more question: What is the benefit to the Kingdom, for anyone to believe that he is one of God's favorites? Seems to me that would be grounds for boasting, even if the way to salvation give no reason to boast.

Are all those on the broad path to hell, who aren't allowed to be saved, inferior creations, or are we all, as the childhood song says, "precious in His sight"? Just wondering.

BillyB said...

One more thing:

You said: " once God causes a man to be regenerated (born-again), which is up to the Spirit of God (John 3), then they joyfully choose to follow Him. So every part of Salvation is completely of God in such a way that the elect are enabled to respond in faith."

Are you saying that God regenerates a man before he choses to believe?, and that after he is born again, he is able to respond in faith. Why, after a person responds in faith, does a person, who is a new creature, still sin?,

I contend that free will is involved before and after salvation. If we aren't free to chose to be faithful, then God was indeed cruel, when he didn't create us perfect and unable to sin. I also contend that God didn't create us that way, because he wanted voluntary fellowship. He didn't want a windup doll, a robot, with no choice. Didn't Job choose to serve God, without the help of the Holy Spirit or the regeneration available by the atonement of Christ?

Just wondering.

Randy said...


A couple of things. Owen in this sentence is stating that if Christ died to do all those things, but actually does not secure the salvation of some, then then He didn't actually do what the Bible says. The book is written against a "general atonement" and in favor of particular redemption. Within the context of combating that belief, he writes that sentence as a declaration of what they believe.

As far as regeneration goes, I certainly do believe that God has to do that in order for some to believe. I also believe that whoever believes will be saved. While in some minds that seems to be a contradiction, the fact is that Scripture teaches that.

As far as you commenting on my blog, I do not mind. However, I have looked at this issue for a long time now and have become quite convinced that it is God who does everything in salvation from election to glorification. So you can feel free to comment, but I'm not sure that you need to try to convince me of your point of view.

As far as "free-will" goes, I do believe that we have a will. However, I do not believe it's free. I believe that the Scriptures teach that our will is not free; it's a slave to sin. It is in bondage and the Holy Spirit has to set it free so that we can pursue Christ and Godliness.

BillyB said...

May God bless you richly.

Anonymous said...


I know you don't know me. But it seems we both know Randy and misery loves company, so here I am. Just joking Randy, lighten up man.

I do agree with sharing thoughts on blogs. What a great place to have a roundtable discussion.

Let me first tell you that I would agree with most of what Randy does concerning this topic. Though I am not out to bash you or even convince you that you are wrong. So don't take this as Randy and I tag teaming you. My main concern for you is that you believe the gospel. I would assume that you do from most of your thoughts.

Owen is hard to read, and it would probably be more helpful for Randy to simply type out that whole chapter for us, so we could see it in context.

Using your letter illustration... if no one would ever chose to receive the gift of the cross... Christ died and no one chose to believe... then would anything have actually been accomplished on the cross? You said "no doubt Jesus accomplished salvation". Really? If no one chooses to believe, then who's salvation did he accomplish? You said "his death did not secure salvation for those who refuse to believe". If no one chooses to believe, then there was no salvation secured. So what happened on the cross? I believe that it was an actual atonement, that it actually happened in the moment, not contingent on man's ultimate authority to chose whether or not it should be applied one day in the future.

I also believe that regeneration precedes belief. Although I am not clear as to how that affects a persons continual fight against sin while here on earth? Maybe I just misunderstood your question.

I also believe anyone who believes will be saved. There is no one crying out to God who is not elect.

I agree with you that this is all very far fetched. Almost as far fetched as God becoming man, to live a perfect life, die a horrendous death, rise from the grave 3 days later to save a bunch of sorry sinners, me included. Way far fetched. But biblical nonetheless.

I find most of your questions to be very logical, just not very biblical. I say that in love.

I think it would be more than worth your time in checking out this message from C.J. Mahaney concerning God's sovereignty and man's responsiblity and how they are a mystery. Good, good stuff. You can find it by clicking here.

By the way, these are not new objections, Paul addressed them early on in Romans 9:18-24. It is also helpful to meditate Hebrews 10 (candles optional) to think on what was accomplished once for on the cross.

Again, I am not trying to be hard on you and don't expect to convince you. It seems like you have thought through this a great deal. No one should jump into these things lightly and it seems you haven't.


BillyB said...


It all boils down to interpretation of the scriptures. I know that the way I believe is scriptural, because the Holy Spirit has settled it in my mind and in my soul. I believe the gospel. I disagree with you guys on whom the gospel is for.

I don't remember saying that the gospel is far fetched. I don't believe it is far fetched. I think it is entirely logical.

What was accomplished once on the cross was the perfect sacrifice for the attonement of sins.

Our area of disagreement centers on whether God choses some for salvation and most to perish. The bible says, “God is not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.”.

Randy says that we have will, just not free will..it is a slave to sin. We surely are slaves to sin, but people have the ability to chose God.

The old testament and the new testament are full of people who chose God. Job being a prime example. Job, of course, depended on the system of sacrifices that God had instituted for them to maintain his relationship toward God. But the bottom line is Job chose to worship God. Moses chose God. Joshua chose God. In the wilderness, all of the people said they chose God. Joshua said, chose for yourself this day, whom you will serve. Many chose God. To say that man doesn't have the capacity to chose God is just not true. The problem was obvious though, the ONLY way to maintain this right relationship before God was constant sacrifices. God set up this system of sacrifices so that mankind would understand that a sacrifice could redeem the sinner.

God, in his love for us, did away with the old system of sacrifices.

"But this man, [Jesus] because he continueth ever, hath an
unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save
them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he
ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high
priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate
from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth
not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice,
first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this
he did once, when he offered up himself."
Hebrews 7:24-27, KJV

May God bless you guys richly. I won't be posting here further. It seems that the readership is few, and we both know neither of us will change our personal beliefs on this matter.

Meanwhile, let's all try to reach the world for Him, as he has commanded.

Anonymous said...


Hey man. The last thing I want is to contribute to you not commenting here. I think all your questions are valid. And you are really thinking through this.

As far as the readership being few, I am not sure how you come to that conclusion. As typical blogs have only a few percentage of actual readers ever commenting. So a friendly conversation between us may be helpful to other readers.

I have refrained from posting on your guy's conversation for a long time. I thought it time though that I shared my convictions.


Randy said...


I certainly do not want you to feel like you can't comment. However, if that is what you choose to do, that is certainly your choice. I think that you do not fully understand my position, so I hope that you will study it a little more. The problem is that just doing a search on "Calvinism" will not get you very far. There are several people who say that Calvinists believe things that they simply do not believe. Just throwing out Scripture doesn't answer the questions. If that were the case, then you can't answer Ezekiel 36, or even Mark 10:45 (which says that Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many). As far as choice goes, I don't disagree that people choose God. However, the question is why do some people choose God and others reject Him? The answer in Scripture is that God has "chose us in Him before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1). The Bible doesn't place us on a neutral plane where we can either choose good or evil. Rather, it says that our hearts are continually wicked. It says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It says that we are by nature children of wrath. It says that we are dead in our trespasses and sins. It says that none is righteous, not even one. It says that we have all turned aside. That is not placing us on neutral ground. God doesn't just decide that this person is more deserving than the other. Everyone deserves Hell, not heaven. If God so chooses to rescue some from Hell by sending His Son to purchase them, He gets the glory and there is no room for boasting. However, the Bible does tell us to boast. We are to boast in the cross (Galatians 5:14). I will certainly boast in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, because on the cross Jesus paid for all my sins (even the sin of unbelief) and purchased my soul for His glory.

Jeff and Beverly said...

I have been looking at the scripture as to why I don't understand this point of view. It goes back to the beginning I guess and what the scripture says.

When Adam and Eve at from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. - it gave them the knowlege of good and evil - therefore allowing all others after them to:

know when they were doing, saying, thinking, beholding, hearing, listening to, contemplating something that was evil.

It also gave them knowledge to know when they were doing, saying, thinking, beholding, hearing, listening to, contemplating good.

This knowledge allows our brains to choose whether we do, say, think, hehold, hear or contemplate anything we do to either do good or evil when facing even the simpliest of decisions.

This Word of God when heard is sharper than any two edged sword that can convict us of our sin and the need for repentence because of the knowlege of good and evil.

God has given us permission, through the knowledge of good and evil, to choose which way to go in every situation, including whether or not to choose God.

I do believe however that the work of salvation is entirely of God because of the simple fact that God allowed the tree of knowlege of good and evil in the garden, He allowed the serpent to tempt Eve, He allowed and provided the knowlege that came from the the tree.

This is why I strongly believe that God wants us to choose Him of our own will, eventhough our will may be in bondage to sin nature. With our will being in bondage of a sin nature and His Word being able to cut through that, even when we are trying to resist, is a greater glory to God and is a constant reminder to Satan that eventhough we have a sin nature His Word has power over that sin nature.

Us having the sin nature gives Satan seeminly an advantage since he is the ruler of this world. But when even one chooses God, because God has allowed us to know the difference between good and evil, it is even more the victory for God.

God is deserving of all glory and praise because no matter how you look at it, God will always defeat Satan at his own game. Those who don't choose God can not blame God, only themselves because they did not accept the escape he had provided for them.

Anonymous said...

This has been quite enlightening. I believe the basic problem is that people get confused as to the meaning of “free will.” Calvin’s teaching come from Augustine who teaches that man does have “free will.” Augustine stated that man’s problem is that he loses his “liberty” at the fall and this loss of “liberty” is passed to all men until “regeneration” (being born again which means born from above which is both a gift and act of God prior to saving knowledge). The devil believes in God. Sinner may believe there is a God. Man will never have a saving knowledge of God until God restores man “liberty.” A helpful post is found at http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/four-fold.html
R. C. Sproul has good information on the Augustine’s view of free will and liberty.
Thank all of you for the love and care demonstrated in these posts.

Jeff and Beverly said...

There was a young rich man who asked Jesus what must he do to follow him.

Jesus replied that he must first sell all his possession and leave behind all that he knew.

The young rich man chose not to follow Jesus because to him the cost was to high.

Jesus told him what he must do but did not force him to do it. He let the young rich man choose for himself. He has no one to blame except for himself for refusing the invitation Christ gave him. Jesus gave him the invitation but the terms of the invitation were set by Jesus.

Since Jesus himself gave us the example of how following him should be then I believe this is still true today. He gives the invitation. Tells us what we have to do to accept the invitation. Then lets us choose whether or not to accept the invitation.

We can know that Jesus is real and believe intellectually God is all that he is. But it is our hearts that have to accept and believe and submit to him. Without our heart knowing this it doesn't matter what the head knows.

A doctor can give me a bottle of medicine to make me better as long as I take it by the directions. I know that it is real. It is within my reach. I may know that it can make me better because others have taken the same medication and gotten well. But until I choose to pick the bottle up, follow the directions for taking it, it does me no good at all.