In Christ, Eph 1:4: A question for Reformed Baptists

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by examiningcalvinism, Jan 17, 2007.

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  1. examiningcalvinism

    examiningcalvinism
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    Hello Reformed Baptists,

    I would like to enter into a dialogue with you concerning Ephesians 1:4. Let me be upfront when I say that I am a Classical Arminian, Southern Baptist who believes in Eternal Security, and with a Molinistic "Middle Knowledge" perspective of God's Providence.

    I will allege that Calvinistic Election involves Two Elections, that is, a primary election "in the Father" with a secondary election "in the Son." (In the event that some are unaware that the term "in the Father" is in the Bible, refer to 1st John 2:24.)

    1) I will present a segment of Ephesians chapter 1 in terms of how passionately Paul spoke of what we have "in Christ," as opposed to what some may argue that we had "in the Father," independent of Christ.

    2) I will present a series of quotes from John Calvin, and some other modern Calvinists. I do not ask that you defend them, but merely that you help explain them. My purpose is to shed light on what I have understood to be the essense of Calvinistic Election, and then to compare it with Scripture.

    Let's begin:

    Ephesians 1:3-4: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him."

    At Ephesians chapter 1, notice how prominently "in Christ" is found. Paul mentions “In Him,” “In Christ,” “In the Beloved,” 11 times in the first 13 verses:

    The saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.” (v.1)

    Blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (v.3)

    He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” (v.4)

    Which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (v.6)

    In Him we have redemption through His blood.” (v.7)

    Which He purposed in Him.” (v.9)

    The summing up of all things in Christ.” (v.10)

    In Him also we have obtained an inheritance.” (v.11)

    We who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” (v.12)

    In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (v.13)

    Just so that there is no confusion, let me be very clear when I state that John Calvin absolutely did affirm an election in Christ. The question is whether he taught it as a seconday Election. Calvin writes: “Paul testifies indeed that we were chosen before the foundation of the world; but, he adds, in Christ (Eph 1:4). Let no one then seek confidence in his election elsewhere, unless he wish to obliterate his name from the book of life in which it is written.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.126, emphasis mine)

    So Calvinism absolutely does indeed affirm that election is in Christ. Again, the question is whether or not he taught it as a secondary election, on the back end of an "in the Father" election. Consider the following quotes which seems to indicate that Calvin taught that God chose us "in Himself," first and foremost:

    John Calvin writes: “Paul further confirms this, declaring that God was moved by no external cause; He Himself and in Himself was author and cause of our being elected while yet we were not created, and of His afterwards conferring faith upon us.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.69, emphasis mine)

    Calvin writes: “Then, when Paul lays down as the unique cause of election the good pleasure of God which He has in Himself, he excludes all other causes.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.69, emphasis mine)

    Calvin writes: “Christ therefore is for us the bright mirror of the eternal and hidden election of God, and also the earnest and pledge. ... We see here that God begins with Himself when He sees fit to elect us....” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.127, emphasis mine)

    Calvin adds: “The calling is therefore a certain and specific calling, which seals and ratifies the eternal election of God so as to make manifest what was before hidden in God.” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.70, emphasis mine)

    Calvin writes: “First he points out the eternity of election, and then how we should think of it. Christ says that the elect always belonged to God. God therefore distinguishes them from the reprobate, not by faith, nor by any merit, but by pure grace; for while they are far away from him, he regards them in secret as his own.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.393, emphasis mine)

    Calvin writes: “Christ certainly counts none among His own, unless he be given by the Father; and He declares those to be given who before were the Father’s (ibid. 17:6).” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.147, emphasis mine)

    Calvin writes:God has chosen His own to be holy and without blame (Eph 1:4).” (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, p.134, emphasis mine)

    John Calvin writes: “This way of speaking, however, may seem to be different from many passages of Scripture which attribute to Christ the first foundation of God’s love for us and show that outside Christ we are detested by God. But we ought to remember, as I have already said, that the Heavenly Father’s secret love which embraced us is the first love given to us.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, pp.76, emphasis mine)

    Calvinist, William MacDonald, writes:Election refers to His sovereign, eternal choice of individuals to belong to Himself.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary, pp.2290-2291, emphasis mine)

    Calvinist, James White, concludes: “I just also believe the undisputed and unrefuted fact that I come to Christ daily because the Father, on the sole basis of His mercy and grace, gave me to the Son in eternity past.” (Debating Calvinism, p.306, emphasis mine)

    Putting it all together, these quotes from Calvin, MacDonald and White, seem to indicate that God has an eternal flock of sheep called "the elect" and that the Father has given His own secret sheep to His Son, such that these whom God has eternally hidden in Himself, He then has chosen "to become" in Christ. Is this understanding faithful to the Ephesians text, which text seems to ascribe to Christ, the first foundation of our election?

    Election according to Adrian Rogers: Election is essentially that based upon our position in Christ, we have the privilege of adoption in the Father as a child of God.

    In other words, God has chosen us, not to become in Christ, but rather that God has chosen us in union with Christ, and that it is this union, in which we have become "one spirit" with God (1st Corinthians 6:16-17), in which we have become enjoined to His body, that we were foreknown in Him. (Romans 8:29) This is not foreknowledge of faith. This is foreknowledge of a people, that is, a people in Christ, by grace through faith. These who are "chosen in Christ" are both individually foreknown in Christ, as well as corporately predestined, by the Father, to receive all that He has sovereignly placed in His Son, as stated in Ephesians chapter 1, and in Romans chapter 8, which is 1) the believer's conformity into the image of Christ, 2) the Christian Calling for unique purpose in the body of Christ for the edification of the Body and for the evangelization of the lost, and 3) justification and glorification.

    I trust that this dialogue will become fun and exciting, but not mean-spirited. I look forward to a stimulating conversation.
     
  2. Allan

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    With this post - your about to get more than just Calvinists stepping up to the plate most likely. Good luck.

    I may just be back to add to the debate but I will step aside and allow our Calvinistic brothers set the stage as you requested. This should be interesting... :type:
     
  3. Jarthur001

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    Look here comes one now. Better run. :)

    Hello examiningcalvinism,

    I see this was your 1st post. Welcome to BB. Your should enjoy yourself around here. We hardly ever fight about Calvinism. At this point I need to duck. :)

    This is the clasiic way non-Cals handly Eph 1. Lets see if it works.

    In your own words, what do you feel like "In Christ" means?



    In Christ....5 pointer....James
     
    #3 Jarthur001, Jan 17, 2007
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  4. Jarthur001

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    Dear brother Allan,

    There is no such thing as luck, as we soon shall see. :) :) :)

    I think you use to use this "in Christ" Allan. Should you tell him now it does not work, or should we wait a while?

    In Christ...James (the blessed)
     
    #4 Jarthur001, Jan 17, 2007
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  5. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
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    What you allege will require a much better case for any response by me. For instance, some context in all of your snippets would be helpful (i.e., what passages of Scripture are being discussed and also the antecedents to the pronouns used in the snips). Furthermore, your (mis?)understanding of Calvin's understanding of the Trinity may help clear some things up regarding your confusion. Is Calvin clear in the context of these snips that by "God" we are to understand "Father" as you have implied?

    Oh, and welcome to the board :)
     
  6. Allan

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    I still haven't seen my understanding disproved but I'm not sure exactly his view is regarding it. However there were other points I took note of that concerned me... I was going to wait a bit and see if it would be take up by others first.

    But I'm sure Jarthor you will cause great pains to course through his head. :laugh: (j/k)
     
  7. examiningcalvinism

    examiningcalvinism
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    Thanks for the warm reception Allan, James and Brandon!

    First, to Brandon. If there is a particular quote that concerns you contextually, tell me which one, and I will give additional surrounding text.

    To Jarthur: What does in Christ mean to me?

    • First, according to Ephesians 1:13, one is “sealed” in Christ after listening to the faith-producing Gospel (Romans 10:17) and believing in the Gospel.
    • When you become sealed in Christ, the Holy Spirit regenerates you in new birth, and you become born of God, born from above. The old creature in Adam passes away and is crucified with Christ, and a new creature is reborn in Christ. Hence, your identification with Christ.
    • In Christ, you receive a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26) as you have become a new creature. (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
    • In Christ, you have become “one spirit” with God (1st Corinthians 6:16-17), analogous to a husband & wife becoming “one flesh.”
    • In Christ, you are foreknown. (Romans 8:28-29)

    Now I would like to ask you a question :)

    1st John 2:24 states: "If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father."

    Tell me, what does "in the Father" mean to you?
     
  8. Jerome

    Jerome
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    The terms secondary, on the back end of, and foremost suggest a qualitative dichotomy not expressed in the quotations.
     
  9. examiningcalvinism

    examiningcalvinism
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    To Jerome

    In terms of a secondary election in Christ, allow me to ask you this question:

    Ephesians 1:4 states that we were chosen in Christ.

    Question: Do you believe that this means that "the elect" were chosen in Christ?
     
  10. Jarthur001

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    Hello examiningcalvinism,

    Hold on now. Every statement above but number 2 is talking about a saved person. In number 2 there is a progression toward slavation. But even in it, my the end of the statement the person is saved. Are you saying that "in Christ" means a person is saved? Are you sure about this?

    This passage is talking about the atonement. If you read the chapter it is talking about being "right" with God the Father. This only happened in the blood of Christ on the cross. The guilt of man is two fold. They are gulity of sins, and they are guitly through Adams race. The sin nature in other words. The atonement takes care of the very sins we partake in. Being redeemed by the Son removes us from the slave market of sin, and places in us the Holy Spirit which we then can walk by the Spirit.

    Therefore...to be in the Son (redeemed and now owned by Him) we are also in the Father (right through the atonement).


    In Christ....James
     
  11. Brandon C. Jones

    Brandon C. Jones
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    The context to all of them and the antecedents to all of the pronouns and the verses under discussion. Minimally, you need to demonstrate this in order to discuss someone's point of view. Anything less will lead to caricatures at best and is not worthy of discussion.

    BJ
     
  12. Rippon

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    On a side note -- William MacDonald is not a Calvinist by any stretch . I used to get his materials ( much of which are good ) . I have met him at PB conferences in the past . Dave Hunt ( not friendly toward Calvinists ) quotes him appreciatively . But then again , Mr. Hunt has quoted Pink , Spurgeon ( out of context to be sure ) and many other Calvinists when it suits his purposes .
     
  13. reformedbeliever

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    Well for one, i'm glad a flamin arminian has come along to straighten us out. :laugh:
     
  14. skypair

    skypair
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    Very good, examining! :clap: Just as there are "2 folds," (John 10:16), there ARE two "elections" --- one to justification and one to sanctification. ALL (OT and NT) first are justified in God, ALL, NT first, are then "elected" to sanctification of the indwelling Spirit!

    "Election" would be the correct word for the second "gift" because any who are "in God" God has predestined to receive His Son and be comformed to Him. Maybe there is hope for reform and free will "detente" after all!

    What I see you saying is that we must believe God first. We must be given His righteousness in our souls before we can receive the Holy Spirit righteousness in our spirits -- same as OT saints who only, to date, have the former.

    Good man.

    skypair
     
  15. skypair

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    Yet there is such a dichotomy -- OT vs. NT salvation. I don't believe, however, the Calvinists are "up to speed" on this.

    skypair
     
  16. examiningcalvinism

    examiningcalvinism
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    James

    James,

    In your explanation of the Father, you acknowledged ownership in the Son, but not in the Father. You simply mentioned getting "right" with the Father. However, recall John 14:6 in which Jesus is talking about coming to the Father. I'm proposing that when you come into an abode in the Son, through His merit, you also come into an abode in the Father as sons of God. (John 1:12) As outsiders, we may call someone "Sir" or "Mr." but inside that family, what does their son call him?, but "Father." When you come into an abode in the Father, you are adopted into the family of God, and no longer are restricted to calling Him "God" and "Jehovah", but now "Abba" and "Father."

    Question for me: Is everyone "in Christ," saved?

    Answer:
    Everyone who is sealed in Christ, is, yes, saved, since 2Cor 5:17teaches that anyone who is in Christ is a "new creature," born again. Being born again, you are born into God's family as an adopted child of God, and hence, the "Abba Father" relationship. (There is also another general perspective of being in Christ, though unrelated to redemption. As you no doubt also know, Arminianism teaches a Universal Purchase, though not a Universal Redemption. From that standpoint, Arminianism would teach that all mankind is "in Christ" under ownership, coming under His Lordship and Judgment. Being in Christ by purchase, rather than redemption, does not bring you in the abode with the Father (John 14:6; 1 John 2:24), as does one who is redeemed.

    Is this where you were heading in your sequence of questions?
     
  17. skypair

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    Guilt is guilt, friend. You're making a distinction without a difference. Christ only died one death -- man only makes one profession in which he is both saved from sin and removed from the market.

    Try to "go with" examining for a way, James. Might be you could learn something.

    Me -- I can see that by faith ALL men who were ever saved first are justified by believing God -- Adam believed in the skin God gave him and received the righteousness of God. Noah believed in the purity of family and received righteousness. Abraham, etc. "believed God and it was "counted for righteousness" -- "stage 1" of salvation.

    Notice that Paul never calls these OT "hall of fame" saints "in Christ." They'll be "in Christ" post-trib following "the resurrection of the just" into the MK of Messiah/Christ -- "stage 2" of salvation (which the church already has!).

    I like examining's paradigm and look forward to his followon commentary. :D

    skypair
     
  18. examiningcalvinism

    examiningcalvinism
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    Brandon

    Brandon, if you had a specific quote of interest, I would have given additional surounding text. However, since you want "every" quote broken down, I leave it to you to do your own research. You have the references and the page numbers. Have at it.
     
  19. examiningcalvinism

    examiningcalvinism
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    Rippon

    William MacDonald is a 4-Pointer who dogmatically professes Unconditional Election. Just as Hunt comments from him cocerning the Atonement, I comment from Ron Rhodes concerning the Atonement. If you have a reference from Dave Hunt to the contrary, please forward it to my attention for review.
     
  20. examiningcalvinism

    examiningcalvinism
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    Skypair

    Skypair,

    I do not know what to expect from James, but I'm intruiged by the coming line of questions. This feels like Christmas morning, now having so many knowledgable brothers in Christ to converse with. I must leave for a few hours, but I will be back to resume.
     
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