I woke up with this passage running through my mind at 4 am this morning:
“…and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” -2 Timothy 3:15-16
Before Paul goes on to expound upon the inspiration and authority of our scriptures he first establishes their sufficiency to lead us to salvation.
The gracious Holy Spirit, by means of inspiration, has sufficiently made known all we need in order to respond to Him in faith. The word of God is powerful and effective, as the author of Hebrews puts it:
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” -Hebrews 4:12
Should we ever conclude, therefore, that God’s words, graciously inspired by His Spirit, are somehow insufficient to lead anyone who hears them to faith and repentance?
Need there be some kind of extra grace that makes the grace of the gospel powerful enough to lead one to salvation? I see no convincing evidence of this need in scripture, do you? If you do see it, is that because God has granted you a grace which makes you more capable of seeing truths revealed in scripture that He has kept from me and other believers? Or could it simply be that we all have the same gracious revelation and any errors of interpretation or suppressing of its truth is due only to our own free will?
I suspect that much of the dispute within in the church over the centuries would not have been necessary if we simply dropped this unfounded presupposition that God’s gracious work needs more grace to work.
16 thoughts on “IS THE GOSPEL SUFFICIENT?”
Yes, it all out there for all to see.
If it were not visible to all, why does the Bible say that Satan:
Blinds people to the truth…
Hinders or snatches away the truth that is in their hearts (sower, Matt 13)
Hinders missionaries (1 Thess 2) .
If you want more….Even Piper has an article entitled “Satan’s 10 Strategies Against You”
Now why is Satan so actively keeping people from seeing something that the reformed God has no intention for them to see?
Your ministry is appreciated Dr. Flowers!!!!
I agree!! It seems some fail to understand the power of the spoken word of God. It is shown in Genesis ,in the beginning God spoke and things were created. Jesus was the word, in the beginning was the word and the word was God! By our own free will we can stop our ears or open them! Here is a favorite verse Psalms 107:20 “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions”. Keep up the good work!!
Thank you Leighton.
Good points FROMOVERHERE.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith … Rom 1:16,17
Is the Spirit inspired and God breathed gospel that reveals the righteousness of God really the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes? Or do these verses need to be revised to read “for it is the power of God for salvation only to those who God, before they hear it, regenerates them so they are able to understand the righteousness revealed in it, so they will then believe.”
Please read the article provided by the link below (SBC Today: February 2015). I agree that the gospel, in and of itself, is sufficient to save fallen man. However, there are some Traditionalists, apparently, who take issue with this. In the comment thread (below the article) I challenged this with its author and his comments are there as well. However, notice the comments by those of both Andy and Mary who seemed to take my stance.
Also, I would appreciate any feedback from my brothers (and sisters) from this site regarding the exchange.
My first observation is there is a lot of very subtle, and questionably ambiguous language in the discussion.
I take into consideration that the reformed camp are consistently working to infiltrate institutions everywhere they can. An infiltrator must APPEAR to be non-threatening.
Until the infiltrator gains a foot-hold attaining power within the institution to then dominate it.
So I suspect a lot of the very subtle ambiguous language is designed to appease the reformed camp which wants to infiltrate, while at the same time not appearing to do be threatening to the TS camp which they are attempting to infiltrate.
Additionally, one of the problems that is ubiquitous with the reformed society is their surreptitious use of language full of equivocations and double-speak.
For example the statement:
“Fallen man is thoroughly incapable of exercising saving faith on his own, an incapacity that is overcome only by God’s grace enabling”
This statement does not exclude the Calvinistic notion that man requires monergistic regeneration prior to having faith, so it can work for both camps.
Ronnie gives the appearance of having a stance which would eventually conflict with the reformed camp.
As an Extensivist, I unconditionally reject Calvinism’s compatibilism, and I maintain that the clear teaching of Scripture is that God endowed man with libertarian free will.
But then again, the non-Calvinist discovers that Calvinists often masquerade themselves in non-Calvinist garb – so it would really take a prolonged scrutiny to know if Ronnie’s intentions are honest.
Andy seems to be confirming my suspicions that she finds the language ambiguous and possibly double-speak.
Mary seems to be much more forceful and points to the problem as either dishonest or contradictory language – people say A but then turn around and say Not A.
When language is used to try to appease two opposing parties, its intuitive to be suspicious of dishonesty.
Hope that helps :-]
I appreciate the feedback.
I agree. My final comment was that the Traditional Statement was misleading and, now, I start to wonder if it was intentional.
The Traditional Statement reads clearly enough….
“We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will…..”
But brother Rogers writes…
“Thus, fallen man is thoroughly incapable of exercising saving faith on his own, an incapacity that is overcome only by God’s grace enabling…”
Both cannot be true.
Brother Rick (Patrick) writes……
“I believe the TS affirms TD but not TI. That is, man is totally depraved in that there is nothing good in him. However, *he has not lost the ability freely to respond to the gospel*–hence, no TI…….Totally depraved man possesses the inability to save himself, *but retains the ability to respond to the Holy Spirit’s initiative* in drawing him through the gospel.”
Brother Ronnie (Rogers) writes….
“It appears to me, that you believe upon hearing the gospel man today has unfettered freedom to choose to seek and follow God; consequently, his choosing is on par with Adam’s in that no other works of God are necessary to *overcome (call it enable, overcome, place man in a position of true understanding and freedom to choose to follow or not etc.,) the effects of the fall* so that sinful man may be freed to decide as Adam did…… Yes, he can respond to God *because the Holy Spirit’s initiative*, drawing, and gospel are all grace-enablements.”
Now, ironically, these two brothers think that are in one accord. But look closely at what each is saying.
Rick… “he (fallen man) *has not lost the ability freely* to respond to the gospel.”
Ronnie… “the effects of the fall so that sinful man may be *freed* to decide…. he can respond to God *because the Holy Spirit’s initiative*, drawing, and gospel are all grace-enablements”
So, according to Rick, fallen man is “free” to respond TO God’s initiative.
According to Ronnie, fallen man must first be “freed” BY God’s initiative.
The first (Rick’s) is traditionalism.
The latter (Ronnie’s) is Arminianism.
And yet they were in complete agreement. Or so they think.
Thankfully, a few on-lookers noticed it.
Yes I agree with you Phillip and I totally understand your concern.
I think the terms used in the language are to vague and ambiguous for my taste.
Politicians speak using vague and ambiguous language.
And so don’t snake oil salesmen and Calvinists
But I don’t think Jesus speaks that way.
If I were going to try to stay engaged with that group It think I would look for specific terms that cannot be used equivocally – so you can figure out what people are hedging on.
But I’m not sure how well that would be received.
Ironically, there was this “feud” between the writers of the TS and Arminian Roger Olson. Olson insisted the TS read “semi-Pelgianism” because of the omittance of prevenient grace.
Now, apparently, its there, but one must read the fine print.
yes I’m afraid you’re right Phillip.
It appears to be the territory.
Good chatting with you – you have a good heart!! :-]
Let me also add that I love both my brothers in Christ (Ronnie and Rick).
However, Ronnie clearly clings to TD/TI and, obviously, some form of irresistible grace (that is, a grace that overcomes man’s depravity without his consent).
And we know that a little leaven, leavens the whole lump.
Brother Leighton, on the other hand, is a true “former” Calvinist. He rejects the TULIP in full.
Yeah!!! I love Dr. Flowers!!!
I know we have discuss this in some length, but I think some clarification might help.
Grace, from my stand point, is something God does FOR us.
Prevenient grace, is something God does TO us and without our consent.
Examples of grace can include, but not limited to, divine revelation, creation, spoken or written word, and the cross.
Perhaps that will make some sense.
If what they mean by “Prevenient” grace is a “Monergistic” work – then I can certainly see concern for that as a Calvinistic concept and to what extent and in what ways they envision that.
Meme Monday – You Can’t Choose 🙂
Whenever I hear Christians say they believe in free will then use terms like enable, enabled, enlighten and enlightened, I have to ask them to explain in detail what those terms mean to them. I have found that a lot of them that use those terms believe those terms mean that God has to do a supernatural magical transformation of a person’s will into a believing will (Calvinism) or a free will (Arminianism).