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BTRC Correspondence with a Pastor of Bread From Heaven Assembly

 (Christian Reformed Church in the Philippines)

 

Dearly beloved,

My name is pastor
L.G. of bread from heaven dagupan assembly. our church belongs to the christian reformed church in the philippines. i was delighted to see a tagalog version of the heidelburg catechism in google which led me to your website.


my purpose for writing is simply to greet you with a warm christian love and some questions that i pondered. i thought that reformed churches are very scarce now a days and yet here you are fighting for the truth and leading people to the feet of Christ.

It was and still is my utmost desire to know and understand the reformed faith. my question however is this - yes we say that we are reformed but how come people are not attracted to the gospel if we are the ones bringing it to them? sounds so ironic. maybe we used to much cerebral method in promulgating doctrines that we missed the heart in which compassion resides.. i believe that worship is done using not only mind, but our heart, body, soul, streangth...

let me pause a question: will i go to hell if i am not so sure as to wether there is an unconditional election or not? will i suffer in the lakes of fire for not comprehending total depravity? its a good thing that Jesus came full of grace and truth here on earth. otherwise, life will be so difficult because of the presence of evil and those so called theologians that makes the bible so unbearable to read. they focus much of their energy, time and resources on biblical truths but missed out the desires of God. and what is that? its called compassion, love, grace and mercy.

sometimes people who focused on thruths without love turns out to be gongs sounding loud but with no tune. and people learning too much from debatable topics becomes a modern day pharisee. this is just a thought however in which i pondered. hope you could assist me in this.

yours in Christ,

ptr. L.G.


Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

 

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Dear Pastor L. G.,

 

It is interesting to hear from you. I am thankful that our little websites have somehow been profitable for you.  I am Pastor Alex Aquino of BTRC Antipolo. I maintain the BTRC websites. I apologize for the very delayed response. I seldom open the “bastionoftruth” yahoo account. Anyway, your questions are to me very interesting, yet to tell you honestly, they are strange considering that they come from a Reformed minister as you. I’ll answer them as follows:

 

my question however is this - yes we say that we are reformed but how come people are not attracted to the gospel if we are the ones bringing it to them? sounds so ironic. maybe we used to much cerebral method in promulgating doctrines that we missed the heart in which compassion resides..

 

I am not quite sure upon what basis you have made this judgment. Perhaps you were disappointed at the absence in our websites of appeals such as, “God loves you… He desires to save you…”. We do not have the right to do that because that is not Reformed and that is not Biblical. Perhaps you have judged us to be all heads and no hearts. That is not fair. You will have to personally talk with us at least an hour, or sit under one of our minister’s preaching one Lord’s Day, or sit in one of our Bible study sessions to see if our emphasis is merely "cerebral" before you can fairly make such judgment. We do have a heart for the lost. We pity those who are in bondage of moral sin and its consequences. But we pity all the more those who may end up in hell who all the while believe they would end up in heaven. Nothing is more pitiable than those who are deceived by a false assurance from a false god, a false Christ, and false spirit revealed by a false gospel (2 Cor. 11:3, 4). It is cruel and unfair to withhold the truth or sugarcoat it to perishing souls.

 

i believe that worship is done using not only mind, but our heart, body, soul, streangth... let me pause a question: will i go to hell if i am not so sure as to wether there is an unconditional election or not? will i suffer in the lakes of fire for not comprehending total depravity?

 

It seems that you have confused worship and evangelism here. As ministers it is our duty to preach the whole counsel of God and to withhold nothing that will profit the Church of Christ. If we refuse to do this we shall be accountable: “…how I KEPT BACK NOTHING that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house… Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. I have not shunned to declare unto you ALL THE COUNSEL of God” (Acts 20:20, 26, 27). May I ask you this question: Why did our Reformed Fathers spend all efforts to combat the heresy of Arminianism during the Synod of Dordt? Answer: Because Arminianism denies GRACE. Arminianism is “Pelagianism raised again out of hell”. It will damn a soul to hell. Now, if a person's ignorance of unconditional election or total depravity will not infringe the GRACE that saves him, then there is no problem. But if these doctrines are presented to him and denies them, he is in big trouble. He is denying grace. He cannot be saved.

 

 its a good thing that Jesus came full of grace and truth here on earth. otherwise, life will be so difficult because of the presence of evil and those so called theologians that makes the bible so unbearable to read. they focus much of their energy, time and resources on biblical truths but missed out the desires of God. and what is that? its called compassion, love, grace and mercy. sometimes people who focused on thruths without love turns out to be gongs sounding loud but with no tune.

 

First the Bible itself admits that it is a book unbearable for some to read: “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). But great theologians such as our Reformed fathers made the Bible easier to read and more enjoyable to the believers’ hearts comfort. Calvin and other Reformed theologians spent their greatest efforts revealing the desires of God to His people, His particular love, particular compassion and particular grace (which the C.R.C. officially denies since 1924). I can personally testify to that being one coming from the Arminian-Pentecostal camp.

 

and people learning too much from debatable topics becomes a modern day pharisee. this is just a thought however in which i pondered. hope you could assist me in this.

 

The Gospel of Grace which Calvinism staunchly defends is not a “debatable” topic but absolute truth although it is frequently “debated.”

 

I hope to hear from you again as your questions are very intertesting.

 

 

Cordially,

Alex Aquino

 

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Dear brethren who are in Bastion,

i have attached in word.doc our simple conversation which i believe will sharpen our understanding. thanks for your reply!

L.G.

 

OPEN DIALOGUE # 1

 

L. G. > My question however is this - yes we say that we are reformed but how come people are not attracted to the gospel if we are the ones bringing it to them? Sounds so ironic. Maybe we used to much cerebral method in promulgating doctrines that we missed the heart in which compassion resides…

 

Alex Aquino > I am not quite sure upon what basis you have made this judgment. Perhaps you were disappointed at the absence in our websites of appeals such as, “God loves you… He desires to save you…”. We do not have the right to do that because that is not Reformed and that is not Biblical...

 

L. G. > What is not biblical? That God does love and desire salvation for all?  The highlighted reply of yours seems vague. Let me show you using some verses. 

 

1.     As pertaining to "little ones", yes God loves them and wants them to be saved. Mt 18:14 “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” (NIV)

 

2.     Pertaining to other people and I believe older ones, the bible declared in 1Ti 2:3, 4 “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (NIV)

 

3.     and of course, who can forget the classic verse of John 3:16!

 

From these verses, can we easily conclude then that we cannot, as Reformed, say that, “God loves You!” or that “He desires to save you!”? A thought again my friend.

 

OPEN DIALOGUE # 2

 

L. G. > I believe that worship is done using not only mind, but our heart, body, soul, strength... let me pause a question: will I go to hell if I am not so sure as to whether there is an “Unconditional Election or not? Will I suffer in the lakes of fire for not comprehending “Total Depravity?”

 

Alex Aquino > It seems that you have confused worship and evangelism here. As ministers it is our duty to preach the whole counsel of God and to withhold nothing that will profit the Church of Christ. If we refuse to do this we shall be accountable: “…how I KEPT BACK NOTHING that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house… Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. I have not shunned to declare unto you ALL THE COUNSEL of God” (Acts 20:20, 26, 27). May I ask you this question: Why did our Reformed Fathers spend all efforts to combat the heresy of Arminianism during the Synod of Dordt? Answer: Because Arminianism denies GRACE. Arminianism is “Pelagianism raised again out of hell”. It will damn a soul to hell. Now, if a person's ignorance of unconditional election or total depravity will not infringe the GRACE that saves him, then there is no problem. But if these doctrines are presented to him and denies them, he is in big trouble. He is denying grace. He cannot be saved.

 

L. G. > Wow! Tough words! As if all salvation hangs on to the verge of whether we accept the doctrine formulated by Arminius. Tsk…tsk… I was born-again (by God’s grace!) not knowing the battle that raged long ago between Arminius and Pelagius. None the less, I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus as atonement for all my sins. He died on my behalf so that the righteousness of God is imputed on me. There is now NO condemnation to all who are in Christ! But, it seems that I’m damned to hell again if I cannot comprehend “Unconditional Election” nor total Depravity”? Oh boy… very dogmatic it seems. It looks like the simplicity of the Gospel is under attack.

  

OPEN DIALOGUE # 3

 

L. G. > Its a good thing that Jesus came full of grace and truth here on earth. Otherwise, life will be so difficult because of the presence of evil and those so called theologians that makes the bible so unbearable to read. They focus much of their energy, time and resources on biblical truths but missed out the desires of God. And what is that? Its called compassion, love, grace and mercy. Sometimes people who focused on truths without love, turns out to be gongs sounding loud but with no tune.

 

Alex Aquino > First the Bible itself admits that it is a book unbearable for some to read: “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable  wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). But great theologians such as our Reformed fathers made the Bible easier to read and more enjoyable to the believers’ hearts comfort. Calvin and other Reformed theologians spent their greatest efforts revealing the desires of God to His people, His particular love, particular compassion and particular grace (which the C.R.C. officially denies since 1924). I can personally testify to that being one coming from the Arminian-Pentecostal camp.

 

L. G. > In regards to the Holy Writ, I admire it so much. I am against however to much debate which ruins the hearers. Anyways, from this DIALOGUE # 3, I have two questions:

 

1.     Does Calvin teach about PARTICULAR GRACE? If he did, when is grace considered “particular”? When is grace tagged as “common”? In other words, are there really “common grace” and “special grace”? it makes me wonder again… back then I only thought of God’s divine grace shared by all humanity may they be wicked or righteous for God loves them both. God gives rain to the wicked and to the saint.

 

2.     My other question from this DIALOGUE # 3 is that, did the C.R.C. officially deny what Calvin and other early theologians had considered to be the doctrinal standards? Where is that written? Any source you could share?

 

OPEN DIALOGUE # 4

 

L. G. > … and people learning too much from debatable topics becomes a modern day Pharisee. This is just a thought however in which I pondered. Hope you could assist me in this.

 

Alex Aquino > The Gospel of Grace which Calvinism staunchly defends is not a “debatable” topic but absolute truth although it is frequently “debated.” I hope to hear from you again as your questions are very interesting. Cordially, Alex Aquino

 

L. G. > I would suggest to dismiss “Dialogue # 4” for this simple reason, it doesn’t give much challenge. However, the way I see it is that you are so in-tuned in defending Calvin rather than the will of God. That is, God wills and desires that all men will be saved. I think the doctrine of “TULIP” is not the primary here. So, let’s dismiss this # 4 dialogue.

 

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BTRC’s Response:

 

OPEN DIALOGUE (Bread from Heaven Dagupan Assembly [Christian Reformed Church of the Phils.] and the Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches in the Phils.)

 

 

OPEN DIALOGUE # 1

 

 

L. G. [BFH] > What is not biblical? That God does love and desire salvation for all?  The highlighted reply of yours seems vague. Let me show you using some verses. 

 

1.     As pertaining to "little ones", yes God loves them and wants them to be saved. Mt 18:14 “In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” (NIV)

 

2.     Pertaining to other people and I believe older ones, the bible declared in 1Ti 2:3, 4 “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (NIV)

 

3.     and of course, who can forget the classic verse of John 3:16!

 

From these verses, can we easily conclude then that we cannot, as Reformed, say that, “God loves You!” or that “He desires to save you!”? A thought again my friend.

 

 

REPLY <Alex Aquino BTRC>:

 

1.     The “little ones” in this passage were no doubt objects of the Father’s love and care. However, in the context of the passage, they are likened to sheep. Whether already saved or still lost sheep, doesn’t make a difference. They are sheep, not goats. Sheep in the Gospel narratives is always descriptive of God’s and Christ’s particular and exclusive relationship to His elect. Matthew 25:31-46 speaks of the nations as separated on Judgment Day as sheep and goats. It is clear therefore that not all men are sheep and therefore not objects of God’s particular love. In John 10 Christ the Good Shepherd describes His chosen ones as sheep who hear His voice. The Pharisees do not listen to His voice because they were not His sheep in the first place, not the other way around―that they were not His sheep because they did not believe (verse 26).

 

2.     1 Timothy 2:3, 4 should be interpreted in the light of its immediate context (verse 1 & 2). It does not teach that God desires to save all men without exception. Rather, He desires to save all men without distinction. Paul had just admonished the Ephesian church to pray for all men without distinction of rank, race or nationality (“for kings and for all in authority,” verse 2). We ought to pray for those in authority that they may grant us peace and freedom so that the spread of the Gospel may be facilitated, since God desires to save “all men”, again, not without exception but without distinction of rank, race or nationality. You may consult William Hendriksen’s commentary on these. He was a C.R.C. minister and was professor at Calvin Seminary.

 

3.  John 3:16: The term “world” (Greek: kosmos), again, does not mean all men without exception but all men without distinction. Add to this the inclusion of the physical cosmos since Jehovah God established an everlasting covenant with Noah and creation (Genesis 9:9ff. See also Romans 8:18-23). Take to account the immediate context where Christ speaks to Nicodemus whose view of the privilege of salvation is still confined to the Jewish nation. In this light see how Paul distinguished the “world” (i.e. Gentiles) from “Israel” in Romans 11:15: "For if the casting away of them [Israel, AA] be the reconciling of the WORLD [in the context: Gentiles, AA], what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Consider also John 13:1: “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his OWN which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” Notice that there is a distinction between Christ’s “own whom He loved unto the end” who “were in the world.” They are not the “world” where they (whom He loved) are in. See? “world” doesn’t always mean “all men” without exception. Notice John 17:9: “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” Christ prays only for His disciples and all those who will believe His message through them. He does NOT pray for the “world”. If you will perhaps point to the word “whosoever” in John 3:16 suggesting that salvation is available to “all”, the word “whosoever” does not occur in the original Greek. It says only “the believing ones” not “whosoever believeth”. Do a survey on the evangelistic messages of the apostles, particularly in Acts. There are no such appeals as “God loves you” or “God desires to save you”. What they proclaim is in principle, “Repent and believe this Gospel!” This is also exactly the appeal of Christ in His preachings. So, ponder again dear correspondent.

 

CONCLUSION: It is not God’s desire and will to save all men but only His Elect. To them particularly and exclusively is He gracious. Therefore, as Reformed people we may not say that God loves and desires to save all. However, it is our duty to witness to all (as much as we can) and confront them with the command to repent and believe.

 

 

OPEN DIALOGUE # 2

 

 

L. G. [BFH] > Wow! Tough words! As if all salvation hangs on to the verge of whether we accept the doctrine formulated by Arminius. Tsk…tsk… I was born-again (by God’s grace!) not knowing the battle that raged long ago between Arminius and Pelagius. None the less, I repented of my sins and accepted Jesus as atonement for all my sins. He died on my behalf so that the righteousness of God is imputed on me. There is now NO condemnation to all who are in Christ! But, it seems that I’m damned to hell again if I cannot comprehend “Unconditional Election” nor total Depravity”? Oh boy… very dogmatic it seems. It looks like the simplicity of the Gospel is under attack.

 

 

REPLY <Alex Aquino BTRC>:

 

First, a correction: There was never a battle in Church history that raged between Arminius and Pelagius. That was impossible because they both believed the same heresies and they lived one millennium apart. There was a battle between the faithful and able Augustine (from whom Calvin learned much of his theology) and the clever but detestable Pelagius in the 5th Century. There was not even a personal battle between Calvin and the heretic Arminius. The two did not even meet nor correspond with each other in writing. Calvin died while Arminius was very young. It was Arminius’ disciples who officially attacked the simplicity of the Gospel, and were confronted by our faithful Reformed fathers in the Synod of Dordt.

 

Secondly, we at BTRC don’t evangelize presenting the controversy between Calvinism and Arminianism. We preach the only and true Gospel of God’s Sovereign Particular Grace. We preach a Gospel of grace that is grace indeed. We do this without mentioning Calvin or Arminius. In order not to be misinterpreted we present the various antitheses to that Gospel. We warn people of false gospels (Galatians 1:6-9), like the false gospel of salvation that depends on man’s accepting or rejecting Christ. This is necessary because modern Christianity has become a religion of doctrinal indifference. It preaches a false jesus (sic), a false spirit and a false gospel (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4).  CRC has shown a fatal symptom of this in its expression “Reformed Accent” instead of saying absolute truth.

 

Indeed, the simplicity of the Gospel is under attack! It says simply, “Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9). The Gospel says salvation is ALL of GRACE (Romans 11:6). The Gospel says salvation is ALL of God and NONE of man (Romans 9:16). But sinful men have added free-willism, conditionalism, universalism, humanism, “accepting”, in other words added human merit into that simple Gospel of grace. So in the years 1618-1619 our Reformed fathers defended this simple Gospel against the heresies of the Arminians or Remonstrants who attacked the simplicity of this Gospel by adding that which is of man in the Gospel of God’s pure Grace. In 1924 the Christian Reformed Church (NA) attacked that simple Gospel of grace by adopting as dogma the heresy of “common grace” and the universal “well-meant offer of the Gospel”. CRC has not repented of her apostasy up to the present resulting in her falling into the heresies of Arminianism, Pentecostalism, allowing women to take office in the Church and who knows what else in the future?

 

May I ask you, Pastor, this simple question? “What is your understanding of the Gospel?”

 

 

  

OPEN DIALOGUE # 3

 

 

L. G. [BFH] > In regards to the Holy Writ, I admire it so much. I am against however to much debate which ruins the hearers. Anyways, from this DIALOGUE # 3, I have two questions:

 

1.     Does Calvin teach about PARTICULAR GRACE? If he did, when is grace considered “particular”? When is grace tagged as “common”? In other words, are there really “common grace” and “special grace”? it makes me wonder again… back then I only thought of God’s divine grace shared by all humanity may they be wicked or righteous for God loves them both. God gives rain to the wicked and to the saint.

 

2.     My other question from this DIALOGUE # 3 is that, did the C.R.C. officially deny what Calvin and other early theologians had considered to be the doctrinal standards? Where is that written? Any source you could share?

 

 

REPLY <Alex Aquino BTRC>:

 

1.  Calvin did teach particular grace. It is subsumed in His doctrine on the sovereignty of God particularly on Divine predestination. God is gracious ONLY to His Elect. For His grace is invincible, irresistible power. The Canons of Dordt in its defense of Irresistible Grace imply that such grace cannot be common. If God desires the salvation of all men and therefore is gracious to them, why are not all saved? Your answer will surely be, “because some accepted and others rejected Christ.” So you are then portraying a God who has a desire, or a will but does not have the ability to save. That is not the God of the Bible. Psalm 115:3 says, “But our [and certainly ours too in the Bastion of Truth] God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.” Ephesians 1:11 says, “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. The sun and the rain common to all, righteous and wicked alike does not imply a “common grace” but a common bounty, providence. Such common bounty is a blessing to the Elect (Rom. 8:28) but a curse to the Reprobate (Proverbs 16:4). They will reveal their sin, their ungratefulness, in spite of God’s goodness, therefore are rendered inexcusable and compound their condemnation. Let me use this illustration. A living plant is planted on very fertile soil where a dead tree trunk also stands. They share common soil but the effect is opposite. The more fertile the soil, the faster the living tree grows and flourishes. And also the more fertile the soil, the faster also the dead trunk decomposes. The same thing is true with the Elect and the Reprobate who receive this common bounty which is mistaken by the CRC as “common grace.”

 

2.  The Christian Reformed Church adopted the theory of Common Grace as dogma in their “De Drie Punten” (The Three Points [of Common Grace]) in 1924 at the Synod of Kalamazoo (Acta der Synode, 1924, pages 145-147).  In adopting as dogma the theory of Common Grace, the CRC rejects the Biblical and Reformed doctrine of Total Depravity. It denies the Reformed Confessions teaching Total Depravity: The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord’s Day 2, Question and Answer 5, Lord’s Day 3, Q & A 6-8, The Belgic Confession Articles 14 and 15, The Canons of Dordt Heads III and IV Article 1. The CRC theory of Common Grace also denies the Biblical and Reformed doctrine of Predestination: The Heidelberg Catechism LD 19, Q & A 52 (“…with all His chosen ones…”), LD 21 Q & A 54; The Belgic Confession Article 16; The Canons of Dordt Head I Articles 7 & 9 and Head II Article 8. Although quoting much from Calvin, CRC proponents of Common Grace took him out of context. This quotation from his “Institutes of the Christian Religion” will represent his true position:

 

“How comes it then that God not only makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, but as far as the advantages of this life are concerned, His inestimable liberality is constantly flowing forth in rich abundance? Hence we certainly perceive that the things which really belong to Christ and His members, abound to the wicked also… in order that they may be rendered more inexcusable” (III, 25, 9).

 

 

 

OPEN DIALOGUE # 4

 

L. G. [BFH] > I would suggest to dismiss “Dialogue # 4” for this simple reason, it doesn’t give much challenge. However, the way I see it is that you are so in-tuned in defending Calvin rather than the will of God. That is, God wills and desires that all men will be saved. I think the doctrine of “TULIP” is not the primary here. So, let’s dismiss this # 4 dialogue.

 

 

REPLY <Alex Aquino BTRC>:

 

Ok, let us dismiss it if you wish but I just want to say this. The reason why I zealously defend Calvinism is because it IS the Gospel. YES (unashamedly and unapologetically), it IS THE GOSPEL. Calvinism is what the Word of God teaches. It means that it must be preached to unbelievers, not only to some intellectually elite group in the church. It is not mere cold abstract theology. Secondly, because I am confessionally Reformed and I think that it is the solemn duty of every Reformed minister and believer to proclaim and defend the Reformed faith. Our ministers in the BTRC sign a Formula of Subscription to the Reformed Creeds: Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt before they are ordained to the ministry. Does the CRC require the same of its ministers? Calvinism is true Christianity. It is not about a man, a sinful, weak (yet saved by grace) man like Calvin. Calvinism is about God, a sovereign gracious God. Calvinism is about the WILL of God – the sovereign, gracious will of God.

 

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Dear Pastor L.G.,

Almost two weeks ago I have sent you email where my response to the "open dialogue" you initiated was attached. I thought maybe my message did not get through the internet. So if it failed to reach you, please inform me and I will re-send it to you.

The Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches are willing to continue in this dialogue with Bread from Heaven Dagupan Assembly as it is a matter of life and death. So do not hesitate to correspond with us.


In His Service,
Alex Aquino

 

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L. G. wrote:
> Good pm Alex, Your email went through. Only, our anniversary is fast approaching and it's actually tomorrow. I have lots of things to do and to finish re preparing stuffs. Let's just continue the dialogue later. Anyways, I was about to be amazed on how you do research. However, I was saddened by the fact that to Bastion, if it's your doctrine, the gospel is TULIP. I was really struck by surprise. The Apostle Paul described the gospel so vividly and is summed up into 10 words - Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead! this is the gospel in a nutshell. nothing more and nothing less.

 

L.G.

 

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

 

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Dear Pastor L.G.,

That which you regard as research is actually what we know as Reformed truth. It is with these what you call research which made us reject the damnable heresy of Arminianism and embrace the Reformed faith. I am quite surprised that you are totally ignorant with these basic arguments considering that you profess to be Reformed. I am not surprised that you are surprised that we confess the blessed TULIP as Gospel. What you regard as the summary of the Gospel poses many problems. Among them is that even the INC, 7th-Day Adventists, the Dating Daan, the Oneness sects, the Roman Catholic Church, etc. can claim that that is their gospel but they are condemned by Scripture as Antichristian. And you said no more, no less, but again you add to it man's free-will and accepting.

I look forward to your response.

Alex

 

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Good am [i.e. "morning," AA] my friend,

your reply was fast indeed. however, it seems that you are no longer in the mood for a dialogue and had shifted to a debate which i find it fascinating. you are not open to the others suggestions instead you are trying your best to inject your "doctrine."

anyways, if you will examine closely my VERY last letter, you will never see that i mentioned the word "free-will." meaning, you are bringing into the dialogue what was overdue. in order for us to truly understand the beauty of the scripture, let us just answer each question precisely and not bring in again topics which was already discussed if there is one.

Anyways, i did not add to the gospel as you said i did. review again my last reply. what i did wrote is that in a nutshell it is "summed" up to this -
"Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead." all in all it is "ten" words which will benefit the not so good in memorisation Christians.

To further prove my claim, allow me to quote the bible:
1Co 15:1-4 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...

i see that from the very words of the Apostle Paul, this is the gospel that truly saves us. and if you will read very carefully the letters which i tried to amplified, there is the presence of the word "IF" meaning, it is conditional.

As a reformed faith enthusiasts, i believe in God's sovereignty. we can read it from the book of Romans. however, it is not only the place where in we should formulate the dogmas. there are many insights form the bible. it is very rich in truths.

If you say that there is no free will, then why did Adam and Eve sinned in the first place?

And if suppose i do not adhere much to TULIP, you say that i am damned. that's still OK to me. why? because God is sovereign and he is the perfect judge. who can argue with God without fault? if God wills that i go to hell, then its still good to me because heaven will be wrinkle free. i am evil by nature inherited from the first Adam right? however, God's goodness and righteousness for that matter came through the second Adam even Christ. if sin entered and was imputed to us because of the sin of one man even the first Adam, how much more the second Adam's obedience will result in the salvation of all who come to him. but i know that you will argue that God is the one who predestined some to be in heaven or some to be in hell. well, i say, God has given every person a chance to repent but some did not.

If you are still open to a dialogue then let us keep it that way. Debate seems to be arrogant in nature. i suppose your last letter is from that type.

I also sense that you are so fond in TULIP. well good for you. but let me remind you that if you are in the Reformed Faith, then by the very word, it means you keep on reforming right? so lets help each other in bringing out what is best for all.

by the way, since you like research, try reviewing the history of the reformers. some of them who are really die-hards had persecuted some even put others to death. looks like their theology had not produced fruits for the kingdom. to much head knowledge but lacks the heart.

P.S. why don't we just select one topic and start there. else, we will just look for ways to hurt each other which i believe is not glorifying to God.

L.G.

 

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Dear Pastor L.G.,

 

 

It was quite obvious that my email response to the dialogue you initiated was replete with Scriptural proof while you haven’t presented any convincing Scriptural ground so far to refute them and prove otherwise. You haven’t even clarified what the dialogue you initiated seeks to accomplish although I understand that you wish to “sharpen our understanding”. I did just that and now you are complaining that this dialogue degenerates into a “debate”. I believe “argumentation” and “reasoning” is inevitable. You (are supposed to) reason and argue from the Scriptures in your preaching as you guard the (supposed) flock of God (Acts 20:28). In fact I am only in the defensive stance, not in the offensive in this dialogue. And I am confident that what I am presenting is thoroughly Scriptural. The Lord, in calling his people to repentance said through His prophet, “Come now, and let us REASON TOGETHER, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). The book of Acts, giving an account of Paul preaching the Gospel, reports, “And he REASONED in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks” (Acts 18:4). Paul in vindicating his ministry wrote, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down IMAGINATIONS [“ARGUMENTS”, NIV], and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every THOUGHT to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Peter reminds God’s elect, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). I also point to the fact that this must be done “with meekness and fear”. Indeed with “meekness,” guarding one’s self against the tendency to merely argue for argument’s sake and to assert that one is right and his opponent is wrong. But more than that, such giving a reasonable answer requires a spirit of “fear”. A reverential fear that takes into account that the glory of God is at stake.

 

I mentioned free-will not without reason (nor for a wrong reason), for you mentioned that you were saved by “accepting” Christ (please review what you wrote). “Accepting” is obviously tantamount to being saved by “free-willing” and that is absolutely not a Biblical and Reformed teaching. That is the false gospel of Arminianism stalwartly combated by our Reformed fathers. They clearly understood the Scripture which taught, “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It DOES NOT submit to God’s law, NOR CAN it DO so” (Romans 8:7, NIV). Christ Himself said, NO MAN CAN come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:44).

 

Your argument that the gospel has to be enclosed in a nutshell of ten words for memorization to guarantee the accuracy of someone’s knowledge of the Gospel does not stand. No one gets saved through a memorized “minimum” gospel. That is being “mechanical”. It is an influence of modern commercial thinking where things become “instant” and “user-friendly.” That’s the nature of your gospel, a “user-friendly” gospel. This is the popular system in most churches (including the CRC who had torn down its confessional walls) to accommodate as much of indifference as possible, the result being that of a “least-common-denominator” Christianity. If there is one subject of ignorance and much confusion in modern Christianity, with its eminent ministers, office bearers, scholars and institutions, that is the subject of the Christian Gospel. Again the nutshell you formulated and the passage (1 Corinthians 15:1-5) you quoted can be claimed by any Christian sect or cult. You hear it with passion from Pastor Louie Santos of the “Friends Again” TV program, yet he is a heretic who adopts Sabellanism or Modalism, or popularly known as “Oneness” Pentecostalism. He and his church blatantly denies the Trinity while quoting exactly the same verses which you consider accurately and unequivocally represent the Gospel of salvation. It cannot be denied that the Gospel contains the historical fact of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. But no one is saved by merely believing historical facts. The true Gospel by which God’s elect are saved is the “interpretation” of those historical facts. I quote here the same passage you quoted for me, but with emphasis on the element you ignored: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

 

You wrongly interpreted the conjunction “IF” as suggesting that salvation is conditional. Paul did not use it in the sense that salvation is conditional but he was merely stating a fact. In effect Paul was saying, “If you keep in memory what I preached to you, it shows that you are saved. But if not, you have revealed yourselves as those who have believed in vain. You reveal yourselves as unsaved.” Your conditional view of salvation is a glaring contradiction to your supposed “enthusiasm in the Reformed faith and belief in God’s sovereignty.” How can God be sovereign (meaning He absolutely accomplishes what He desires) if salvation is conditioned upon the dead sinner? This is your gospel to my understanding: “Good news! God loves you and He desires to save you… sent His Son for you… but there is Bad News too! He cannot save you unless you let Him. So save Him from this embarrassment by “accepting” Him.” No, dear correspondent, salvation is absolutely UNconditional.

 

Now I return to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, I emphasized that the Gospel is the interpretation of the historical fact of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. In other words, what do the Scriptures teach “about” the historical fact of His death, burial and resurrection?

 

“But he was wounded FOR OUR [Israel’s] transgressions, he was bruised FOR OUR [Israel’s] iniquities: the chastisement OF OUR [Israel’s] peace was upon him; and with his stripes WE [Israel] are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of US ALL [Israel] … He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many [not ALL]; for he shall bear THEIR [Israel’s] iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of MANY [not ALL], and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:5, 6, 11, 12)

 

I have emphasized words and phrases here that give you some idea on how the Scriptures interpret the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. There are many others such as Psalm 16, 22, Isaiah 55 but I would confine my arguments in this passage of Isaiah. Christ the Suffering Servant of Jehovah died a “substitutionary” death. This is indicated by the exclusive pronouns such as FOR US, OUR, US ALL. This is exclusive of spiritual Israel (the Old Testament Church), not for Babylon, Persia, Egypt, Greece, etc. This means that Christ died not for entire humanity but only for a particular people (His Church). That is why your nutshell gospel is deceiving. “Christ died for us” you say. Even the liberal and Modernist will agree with you and yet not be saved. They will take it to mean that He died for them not to atone for their sins but only as a “good example” to follow. The poor deluded Roman Catholic will certainly and readily agree with you while he/she will maintain that Christ has to be sacrificed repeatedly every blasphemous Catholic Mass. Yet the Old Testament teaches as early as then that the death of the Servant was to JUSTIFY (declare righteous) His bothers. I am thoroughly aware that the New Testament mentions that Christ died FOR US. But always consider to whom such words were spoken. Were they spoken by John, Paul, or Peter to all men without exception or were they spoken/written to Christians (see Ephesians 5:25-27)? Even 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 you quoted says “Christ died for US.” That is, the Corinthian “Christians,” not all men. Christ indeed died FOR (Greek, huper: “in the place of”) them. If you assert that Christ died “in the place of” all without exception, then why are not all saved? I predict that your answer will be that of the enemies of the Reformation.

 

By your criticism of the Reformed denial of the “free-will” you reveal yourself again as an Arminian and not Reformed. I am really alarmed why your churches still identify yourselves as Christian REFORMED Churches when you have seriously departed from the ideals of the 16th Century Reformation. Why not be honest and identify yourselves only as Bread From Heaven Assemblies and remove the “CRC” parenthesis. Is it because the term “Reformed” secures for your denomination some historical identity or institutional dignity? Or does belonging to such denomination provide financial security (Pardon me but I’m just asking. I mean no offense)? Why not be a Methodist? Or a Pentecostal/Charismatic? Or an Independent Arminian and be honest and consistent with your doctrine? Why must you insist being “Reformed” while being dishonest and inconsistent with what the term “Reformed” truly stands for?

 

The Scriptures do not deny (nor do we at BTRC) that man has a “will”. Adam in the state of righteousness had a will as well as in his fallen state. All human beings have “wills” otherwise they will not be humans but brutes. The question in view here is not whether man has a will or not. But whether his will is free to do that which is truly good in his fallen condition or not? I have given above Romans 8:7 and John 6:44 and God’s Word answers, “NO.” Fallen, sinful man’s will is indeed free but only in the sphere of sin. His will is a willing “slave” of sin and Satan. Sin and Satan are the sinner’s will’s master and not Jesus Christ. The unregenerate sinner may freely choose (sinfully) what clothes to wear, which woman he marries, his career, place of residence, religion. But confronted to choose the right and good, he CANNOT. He has no ability. His will is not free in that direction. He is TOTALLY DEPRAVED (See our Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 2, Q & A 5 and the Scriptural references). He is spiritually DEAD. He needs to be “born again” (John 3:3).

 

I beg to disagree that God merely gives every single person a chance to be saved (there is no such teaching in the Bible) and that the reason why not all are saved is because they forfeited that chance. This is Arminianism in its worst form. This is unworthy of God and an affront to His Sovereignty! This denies the Bible’s doctrine of Predestination and rejects the sovereignty of God! I ask you this: What about the Pagans outside Israel in Old Testament times who were not given the chance to be saved through Jesus Christ? They are certainly in hell now, many of them, and God did not give them a single chance in their lifetime!

 

The truth is, God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy; and He will harden whom He will harden (Romans 9:18; Exodus 4:21). Some go to heaven not because they grabbed the chance to be saved, but because God “prepared them in advance for glory as vessels of His mercy” (Romans 9:23). Others go to hell not because they forfeited their chance, but because they were “prepared for destruction as vessels of God’s wrath” (Romans 9:22). God is not unfair and unjust in all these for He has the authority and power as “the Potter has to the clay” (Romans 9:19-21).

 

You have a corrupt understanding of the term “Reformed”. To reform is to restore what was right and lawful in the beginning. It is a return to the “Old Paths” (Jeremiah 6:16). It has also the idea of developing the truth in its fuller implications. But it ever remains the truth and doesn’t “change.” The Roman Catholic Church departed from the teachings of the apostles like justification by faith alone, the authority of Scripture, the lawful offices in the church, Scripture-regulated worship, etc. So God called men in the 16th Century to “reform” that which was “deformed” and marred by the antichristian church. To reform doesn’t mean to change any teaching at anyone’s wish and arbitrary choice. This, to my understanding, is your idea of being “Reformed”: Calvinism has been “reformed” (according to your idea of “reform”), and has been moderated through the centuries and has finally transformed into “Arminianism” so that the serious doctrinal battles of those past centuries are now obsolete and irrelevant. That, according to your understanding, is being “Reformed”. But in reality this is “deformation”, not reformation. The CRC has fallen into the same error of Roman Catholicism. It has “deformed”.

 

I cannot rely on your suggestion that I should do research and review on church history about some Reformer who persecuted others. How can I trust your assessment on these Reformers if you yourself get mixed up with persons in Church history? For example, you believed all along that there raged a controversy between Pelagius and Arminius, which as I have said previously was impossible for they existed 1,000 years apart! OK, give me one Reformer whom you accuse of being a die-hard tyrant and I’ll do a research on him/her. John Calvin was a die-hard for God’s glory (his enemies tagged him as “that God-intoxicated man”) and I’m sure he is one of your suspects. I’ll send you a weblink about his supposed tyrannical leadership if you wish. Yes Luther, was cruel to the deluded and cultic Anabaptists, left them to rot in cages hanged on a cathedral in Münster, Germany, I’m aware of that. But that did not change the truth they so loved, proclaimed and fought for. We ought to understand their actions within the context of their circumstances.

 

Your ignorance of church history renders you to be too judgmental on the Reformers with whom you identify your denomination. It makes me wonder whether you ever attended Seminary (where Church history is supposedly taught) before you were ordained to the ministry. You have judged them without first exploring with honesty and diligence their lives and labors recorded in history. Have you even read their books? Not much, perhaps? But have you read their hearts? Never? So don’t be judgmental lest you yourself be judged.

 

You suggested starting another topic and focusing upon there but you haven’t presented your Scriptural counter-arguments and settle each of the issues you yourself brought up. Again, I remind you that I stand in the defensive. I am just defending the historic Reformed Faith that is the Apostolic Faith. But if you are still willing to pursue with this dialogue (which you believe degenerated into a “debate”) then you may suggest another topic. I’ll be willing to continue correspondence. I know I may be hurting you in this argumentation because I have challenged your cherished convictions. Well, I hurt too. But not for my self but for God whose blessed truth is being watered down and trampled upon. I believe this discussion still tends to glorify God despite the clashes and controversy. If I choose not to be hurt just by stopping to disagree with you, that certainly will not glorify God.

 

Pardon me for being too lengthy, yet I firmly believe that my case is never trivial.

 

Pastor L.G., with all my heart, I implore you, return to the Old Paths. Return to the Faith of our [Reformed] Fathers. Repent of your false gospel which cannot save (Galatians 1:6-9) and believe the true Gospel and the true Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4). There is no hope in man. Take heed of God’s call, “Come out of her [C.R.C.] my people!” (Revelation 18:4)… “Wherefore come out from among them [C.R.C.], and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17).

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Alex Aquino

BTRC Antipolo

 

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Dear Alex,

I am so happy to have heard again from you. Anyways, regarding the "mixed persons" that are years apart, my apologies. I was thinking about the battle between the doctrines of Arminians and the Calvinists. That's what I'm really after at. For a long long time this has been the heated debate and has affected and separated innocent new Christians at the time of their conversion (God's will or free will let us not debate on this).

Since I initiated the first dialogue, please be reminded that it is for the best. It came from an honest person trying and wanting to know more about doctrines though I was taught in the walls of CRC.

I strongly believe that  the bible is the only basis on which our faith should stand. But, since there are formulated doctrines or should i say dogmas, that are presented to me, I could not just take it in wholly without scrutinizing each i.e. TULIP.

When I saw your website, to my delight I wrote hoping that since you are reformed, maybe you could help me out here.

Anyways, my question (in my first letter) is this, "yes we say that we are reformed but how come people are not attracted to the gospel if we are the ones bringing it to them? Sounds so ironic. Maybe we used to much cerebral method in promulgating doctrines that we missed the heart in which compassion resides… "

Now, this does not mean that we are not doing our best to preach the gospel. However, as to what I have researched, the smallest denomination, considering it's rich history, is the reformed denominations. And within the confines of that denomination, the CRC is the smallest. I'm just wondering why? And since you are in Bastion now, maybe you could tell my as to why you left CRC?

So, maybe we could do this slow and easy for us to really get the benefit out of this.

Yours in Christ,

L.G.

 

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Dear Pastor L.G..

Thank you for your patience in writing and keeping up with this communication. I think we have laid down our history as a Reformed denomination in our websites. I want to clarify that we did not come from CRC. We "came out" from the Foursquare Gospel Church (according to God's command), a Pentecostal-Charismatic-Arminian denomination. It is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the Phils., at least. Reformed literature were introduced to us at Foursquare Bible College. We were not aware that one of our basic reference books in Theology was one written by Louis Berkhof, a Reformed man and a CRC seminary professor. We were made aware of the historic Calvinism-Arminianism controversy but regarded it with indifference, assuming that it was just a matter of emphasis (God's sovereignty and human responsibility). We took our church history subject seriously, so our increasing familiarity with Reformed literature had been increasingly confirmed by history to our estimation. It was also through this that we began to "feel" that the doctrinal convictions of our Pentecostal denomination flow contrary to the verdict of church history. Three essential issues stood out in our controversy with our former denomination' s theology: (1) Christ-centered preaching (rejected by Foursquare), (2) Salvation cannot be lost (rejected also by Foursquare) and (3) our criticism of the Pentecostal view on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which was a result of Foursquare's adopting of the G-12 scheme and its accompanying Encounter Retreat where the devilish Holy Laughter was introduced. We were reprimanded and ordered to fully subscribe to official Foursquare doctrine, otherwise, we must resign our posts. We chose the latter upon the growing conviction that the historic Reformed Gospel of sovereign grace is the only true Gospel that saves. For a few months we sought guidance from a so called Reformed (Calvinistic; the likes of Spurgeon) Baptist church and ministerial academy thinking then that they genuinely represented the cause of the Reformation. But to our dismay they adopted Arminian principles like "common grace" and the "universal well-meant offer of the Gospel."  During our study in the academy which I mentioned, one of our pastors, then a fellow student, who was assigned to research on the interpretation of the "Two Witnesses" of Revelation happened to find a good reference book with a sound and reasonable interpretation. He got curious and searched the author's name in the internet. It was Herman Hoeksema who was once a minister in the Christian Reformed Church of  America but was deposed (with others) for not subscribing to CRC's adoption of the Three Points of Common Grace. Hoeksema eventually became the founder of the Protestant Reformed Churches in
America in 1924 all of which came from CRC. Upon studying their doctrinal stand, we discovered that these Protestant Reformed Churches truly and faithfully represented the ideals of the 16th Century Reformation. We adopted their doctrinal Confessions and theology and practices (though not all) and we founded our denomination patterned after them. We sought their assistance in providing us with their literature, although we do not have official ecclesiastical ties with them. We did not nor do we intend to seek financial assistance from them. The BTRC is entirely an indigenous Reformed denomination.

Reformed denominations may be the smallest Christian denominations in the world. But among them, CRC I believe is one of th largest. The Protestant Reformed Churches numbered about less than two hundred churches when they left CRC. When controversy concerning the doctrine of the covenant broke in the 1950s more than half of the PRC denomination left and returned to CRC. Today there are 86 or 87 PRCs in the US. Quite small compared with the CRC.

You see, the birth of our little and relatively weak denomination was never occasioned by any non-essential, non-salvific, or trivial reason like administrative/leadership conflicts or money scandals but the essential issue of God's sovereign particular grace.

I hope to hear from you again relating to me the background of your particular congregation this time. You may ask further questions for I will be much willing to answer them.

Cordially,

Alex

 

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Alex,

i know that you are doing your best to explain to me re your faith and i am so happy to know that you are a studious person. actually my dilemma is so simple. i was called by God in 1999. it was never my intention to be a pastor nor to be a christian born-again "alive-alive" if you know what i mean. but God is so good to have given me a chance to know him. He had been patient and gracious. anyways, speaking of my dilemma, it comes in a matter of common sense. the reformed faith started, if i am not mistaken, in 1500. it was a time of awakening from deep sleep. the scripture was not thoroughly read. good enough that a german monk did and the wave of revival started (i'm using plain language here). to my understanding, theology back then is not that intense. as time passes, it was refined again and again and defined. for instance, TULIP's definition as i have noticed, are not the same. each denomination gives their own definition aside from interpretation. so does the arminians. my guess is, like my professor who once said, "in every reaction to an action is overreaction." in other words, calvinism and arminianism was way pass overdue. if you try to search for other comments in the web, you will see a lot of calvin boys transfering to arminianism and likewise. there had been switching of camps on both sides. to some, they have adopted calminian (calvin plus arminius) views already.

the point is, i am not so bothered nor affected by these theological standpoints. i still believe that God is so sovereign and yet man has a responsibility. for example, we say that there is a total depravity. meaning, man in his own self could not do any good since he is depraved, he is corrupted since birth. this is calvinistic thinking right? but if you would ask, when did man became depraved? the answer would be, in time of the "fall" right? but if you would read carefully the genesis account, you will see that after the alleged fall, men began to call on the Lord i.e. abel and seth. if man are totally depraved, there is no possibility that they could understand spiritual things. and yet, sone of seth are declared sons of God.

now, this bothers me really. speaking of total depravity, i was wondering as to when did it end or is it still in effect? if the first adam caused a huge consequence, as in every person on the face of the earth was plagued by sin, couldn't the Second Adam cure it 2000 years ago? i mean, if adam negatively affected the human race, could not Jesus positively by his death and resurrection, affect positively the human race? if we say that mankind is totally depraved until now, then the logical conclusion would be, is the first adam superior to the Second? surely we don't believe that do we? i strongly believe that adam caused us all to be weak nad fall short from the glory of God. but, by Christ's death and resurrection, heaven now is open for all. the temple's dividing sheet was tron. meaning, all can come to God in Christ of course. however, using Jesus' parables regarding the kingdom, he said ta-ht many are called but few are chosen. in other words, God calls everybody but not every body would heed that call. calvin would say, they could not hear because they are not predestined to. of course this would be another topic.

and so, alex, i think lets just keep this slow and educating. lets start on what you have to say on total depravity if you believe this to be true. and if possible, try to limit quotations form other theologians because they too may err right? lets just be honest with ourselves in dealing with this dilemmas. after all, you said that you came out from the four square. others came out from the reformed tradition as well. what if, lets say, you find another denomination who champions more than where you are now, what then?

L.G.

 

Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

 

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ON TOTAL DEPRAVITY

[Response in Attached Document]

 

The Reformed faith as a “movement” (a mighty work of God, in fact) did begin in the 1500s. It began with Martin Luther’s protest to the doctrinal and moral corruption of the Roman Catholic Church (the harlot mother of Arminianism). It was not Luther’s intention to leave the Roman institution but he was “kicked out” for insisting on his reforms (which are Biblical). While Ferdinand Magellan was claiming the Philippines for Spain and for Roman Catholicism in 1521 by the “sword and the cross,” God was shaking and convulsing Catholic Europe by the sword of Protestant preaching. It was said by church historians that Luther tore and smashed down the foundations of the corrupt Roman church but it was John Calvin who built upon the ruins and systematized the body of Biblical truth. It was technically to John Calvin that the term “Reformed” ought to be attributed. Luther was not Reformed but technically a Protestant, although the Reformed movement was under the Protestant movement.

 

The Protestant and Reformed movements may have begun in the 1500s but their teachings are as old as the Bible. The Reformed movement in which Calvin stood as one of its prominent leaders derived its theology basically from Augustine who lived 1,000 years earlier. Augustine in turn learned his theology from the apostle Paul who taught in his epistles the doctrines of Sovereign Particular Grace which is known and systematized today as the so called TULIP.

 

The TULIP is a reaction of faithful Reformed Christians in “defense” of the simple Gospel of salvation by grace alone through Christ against the denial of the Arminians. The Arminians rejected God’s grace by their rejecting the totality of man’s sinfulness. The Reformed fathers defended the Word of God by affirming the truth of Total Depravity. The Arminians corrupted the interpretation of sovereign unconditional election taught by the Bible and interpreted it to be a “conditional” election, that is, God’s choosing for salvation is dependent upon man’s choice. The Reformed fathers defended God’s Gospel of grace by affirming that election is totally dependent upon God’s free choice, not man’s choice (John 15:16). Hence, Unconditional Election was affirmed. The Arminians rejected God’s grace by teaching that Christ died for all and has substituted Himself for all to give all a chance to be saved. But the Reformed fathers defended the Bible’s pure and genuine teaching that Christ died only for His Elect sheep. Hence, our teaching, the Limited or more accurately, Particular Atonement. The Arminians rejected the grace of God by stubbornly insisting that the Holy Spirit’s work of grace to give spiritual life to a sinner can be resisted by the sinner. The Reformed fathers defended God’s Word by affirming that the sinner who is in reality DEAD has no ability either to accept or reject God’s gift of life. It is the Spirit who invincibly gives life, without consulting the DEAD sinner. Therefore we have Irresistible Grace. The Arminians insisted on their false gospel by teaching that salvation can be lost and that the believer may be born-again and again and again… die again… and be born again and again (ridiculous) as many times as his so called “free-will” wills. But the Reformed fathers defended the Gospel of grace by affirming that God gives life that is ETERNAL. Appealing to common sense, how can life that is “eternal” (that is unending) be intermittent and salvation (according to the heretics) lost and regained over and over?

 

It is careless to say, that the doctrinal stance of Christians in the past were mere overreactions to certain doctrines. As you yourself said, it was only your “guess.” You do not have any objective criteria upon which you must base your assumption. Calvinism is not an overreaction to Arminianism. It was Arminianism which wrongly reacted to Calvinism and corrupted the teachings of the Bible. Calvinism’s TULIP is merely its defense of God’s simple Gospel of grace. Your observation that certain Calvinists are recently switching to the Arminian camp and certain Arminians are converted to the Calvinistic camp proves nothing. What you are doing is to deny that there is an absolute Biblical truth. You have fallen into the grave error of “relativism,” which means that nothing is absolute. That’s what they teach now in almost all seminaries. If there are so-called Calvinists who cross the Arminian camp, I believe they are not genuine Calvinists. They do not understand the Gospel and therefore are not saved. They may have been raised in Calvinistic churches without being taught the historic Calvinistic/Reformed Confessions. The CRC is among this type of Calvinists as well as many modern Presbyterians. Arminians, on the other hand, who cross the Calvinistic camp, may have different reasons for taking such a step. One [wrong] reason is that Calvinism has become a fad and there has been a mistaken impression that there is a revival of Calvinism. But Calvinism is generally a “hated” doctrine! It is not easy to revive it, humanly speaking. Others embrace Calvinism because find certain Calvinists attractive and admirable for their skillful argumentation or impressive credentials. But such are not true converts to Calvinism for they do not understand it as the Gospel. But there are certainly Arminians whose minds and hearts have been opened by God, whose spirits were quickened, and to whom supernatural faith is given to believe the only and true Gospel, and they repent of their Arminianism, realizing that it will damn them to eternity. They have wholeheartedly subscribed to the Biblical tenets of historic Calvinism. Those so called “Calminians” (if there are such… this really makes me laugh!) are miserable fools. There is no such thing as a combined Calvinism and Arminianism. Calvinism and Arminianism are two diametrically opposite teachings. Either you subscribe wholly to one or deny it entirely and subscribe to the opposite ideology. There is no such person as a 4-point or 3½-point Calvinist. He is still a heretic Arminian if he does not wholly subscribe to the 5-Point Doctrines of Grace.

 

It is a sure danger signal when you are not at all affected by the controversy of these two opposing views since you have lost your sense of discernment on false doctrine, considering the fact that you are a preacher. Truly, God sends a strong delusion to those who refuse to love the truth so that they will believe the Lie (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). I pity your congregation. Remember that we as teachers have so much accounting to give before our Judge on the Final Judgment.

 

I heartily agree (for the Bible does teach) that there is no contradiction between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Calvinism certainly believes both. But Arminianism denies God in denying His sovereignty by unduly emphasizing man’s responsibility. As to your dilemma on how man could be totally depraved and “when” it ended or is it still in effect, it could have spared you the undue confusion if you have listened to our fathers from the very beginning instead of judging them based on “hearsay” reports by your seminary professors. Total Depravity, by the mere use of the word “Total” denotes that the sinfulness and corruption resulting from the fall of Adam covered the “totality” of the human race (from Adam up to the last person to be born) and the “totality” of the individual person. When Adam sinned, he died. He died spiritually for the communion between him and His God was severed. He died physically and immediately and the process of death began its work in his aging and physical weakness. Therefore all men and women, the elderly and even the fetus and infants—all of us, who came from him, inherited his guilt and corruption. All of us became “totally depraved”. Each of us individually is crooked, sinful, depraved, through and through rotten to the core. Our hearts from which spring issues of our lives are corrupt. Our intellects were corrupted. Instead of holy knowledge, we had intellectual blindness and foolishness. Our wills, too, were corrupted. We were inclined to choose that which tend to our self-centered desires. Even in the sphere of religion, we mold gods, idols, of our own making and baptize them “Jesus”, “Father”, “Holy Spirit”, believe what we want to believe about them. In our self-centeredness we tend to emphasize by the words of the Psalm “The Lord is my SHEPHERD” instead of “The LORD is my shepherd”. We are much more delighted and inclined to thus express our faith, “God is GOOD” (because we benefit) instead of reverentially and submissively confessing, “God is GOD!” Not only that. Our emotions were also corrupt. Our emotions more often call the shots instead of our intellects. Much of emotionalist religion nowadays hates doctrine and intellectual exertion. “I want a religion that makes me feel good about my self”, most would say. Doctrine is a “turn-off.” But above all that, Adam and all those who came from him lost the image and likeness of God, that is righteousness, holiness and knowledge (Ephesians 4:24 and Colossians 3:10) and was exchanged with the very image of the Devil (John 8:44).

 

Now, your dilemma on the Scriptures you mentioned has no basis at all. It is true that when Adam fell into sin he became totally depraved. What bothers you is that how could a part of his generations, particularly those in the line of Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, etc. be able to believe, worship and serve Jehovah? The answer dear correspondent is the “Gospel” about which you are still ignorant and confused. The first Gospel was announced to our first parents in Eden in Genesis 3:15:

 

 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

 

When Adam fell, the entire human race fell with him and became enemies of God and allies with Satan. But in His eternal counsel and sovereign particular grace He would not allow this to continue. He divided fallen humanity into two camps: the seed of the woman (the Elect) and the seed of the serpent/Devil (the Reprobate). And our verse tells us that God Himself intervened and put perpetual enmity between the two seeds. Time passed and Adam and Eve bore children. Among their children, Abel and the line of his generations manifested to be the “seed of the woman” and Cain’s line manifested themselves to be the “seed of the Devil.” What happened is Cain and his generations remained in their sins and lived worldly and carnal lives. They invented musical instruments and excelled much in the arts, among them were the “geniuses,” the wealthy, the best engineers and businessmen and builders of cities—they are of the world and of their father, the Devil. But unto Abel and Seth’s line of continued generations did God give the gift of “regeneration” (being spiritually made alive) so that the image of God in them which was lost in the fall was renewed, and therefore they became spiritually-minded. It is not due to their inherent goodness (for they were once dead too) but by virtue of their being chosen (elected) as the “seed of the woman” that they were given the privilege to worship God. While the strong line of Cain was building cities, Abel and Seth’s weak and unpopular generations “began to call upon the Name of the Lord.” Through them God established the worship of Jehovah on the face of the earth. However, though already regenerated, depravity remained in them until they breathed their last. Nevertheless God planted the incorruptible seed of eternal life in their hearts so that they longed for God’s righteousness and their depravity was suppressed and restrained (though not extinguished). Besides struggling against the enemies outside (the world and Satan) they also struggled against the enemy inside them, their old sinful nature. There was a fierce battle between their old self and their new self. And it is the same with all true believers throughout the ages.

 

One of your dilemmas is this: The first Adam caused quite a devastating ruin to all men, but did not the Last Adam (Christ) reverse all these including total depravity so that everyone has a chance now to enter heaven? If this is not the case (you complain) Adam is greater than Christ in that Adam inflicted more consequence upon the human race than Christ did!” I will return to this issue later. But based on how I deduce from your argument, you are not in a dilemma at all concerning “when” total depravity actually ended. You do know “when” it ended and you are wrong! You thought it ended at Christ’s cross. That is HERETICAL teaching! Repent of such heresy! It is the first time I heard of such teaching! Is that the official doctrine of Bread From Heaven? Does Rev. Nomer Bernardino and CRC Philippines subscribe to such teaching? This needs to be confirmed. But the New Testament Scriptures teach us that even beyond the event of the death and resurrection of Christ, Total Depravity remains as it was from the beginning.

 

“And you hath he quickened, who were DEAD [not merely sick] in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind [obviously NOT in times past before Christ died and resurrected]; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Ephesians 2:1-3)

 

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (Romans 8:7).

 

In this verse, Total Depravity (that is inability to obey God’s will) is a reality when the mind was yet carnal and not merely before Christ died and resurrected.

 

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

 

Here, it is glaring truth that the inability to receive spiritual things (that is Total Depravity) is a reality during a period when a person is still a “natural” (unregenerate) man. This is not a reality prior to the time Christ died and resurrected.

 

No, Pastor L.G., Christ never, by His death and resurrection, reversed the total depravity of the human race caused by Adam’s sin. There are many things amiss in your assumption. Among them, first, this is not fair (If I will go along with your argument) with Old Testament people who were not saved because they were outside of Israel and were not given a single chance to be saved. Second, there is no single Biblical proof to support your idea that Total Depravity ended in the event of the death and resurrection of Christ. Third, the Bible teaches that Total Depravity is suppressed and counteracted at the moment of “regeneration” and totally ends—not in the death and resurrection of Christ—but in the resurrection of the believer (John 3:6, 7; Ephesians 2:1-5; 1 Corinthians 15:42-49). The Scriptural truth is, the death and resurrection of Christ secured the “legal” basis (since God is just) for God to freely bestow the privilege of the “new birth” to those whom He eternally chose (the seed of the woman). All sinners, on their own, do not deserve any of God’s privileges. But God counted His Elect perfectly righteous in Christ so that now they have the right to all of God’s blessings in salvation. The Elect are “in Christ”. They are not anymore “in Adam”. Fourth, your conclusion that God, through Christ, merely gave all men (inferring from your conclusion, New Testament people only) the “chance” to be saved has no support whatsoever in the Bible. You have misinterpreted the passage where Christ said, “Many are called but few are chosen”. Christ was not referring to internal, effectual call whereby the sinner is irresistibly drawn to Christ (consult John 6:44) but to an external call. This external call is the preaching of the Gospel to all. Christ only meant that many would hear the preaching of the Gospel and commanded to believe and repent, but a few will be given a “new heart” to believe because only few were chosen. I would not quote Calvin at all. I would quote Christ to prove this:

 

“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:26, 27).

 

Notice that these verses teach that the Pharisees do not believe because they were not Christ’s sheep in the first place, not this that they were given a chance to be saved but do not believe and therefore were not His sheep. Luke also reported in Acts 13:48:

 

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”

 

Notice here that many believed because they were ordained to eternal life, not this, that they were ordained to eternal life because they believed. This only proves that your heretical “chance for all” theology does not weigh in the balance of God’s Word.

 

Now you might still have a hard time reconciling God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Total Depravity implies also Total Inability (Romans 8:7). You would argue exactly as a Pelagian and an Arminian upholding that “responsibility implies ability”. “How could God require from us [you ask] when we do not have the ability to fulfill it? Since man is responsible, therefore it implies that he is not totally unable; the conclusion therefore is that he is NOT Totally Depraved.” I respond by reminding you that the gift of freedom and ability bestowed by God to Adam in his creation, he (Adam) willfully wasted and lost. Does that mean that he is not anymore responsible? Let me use this illustration. If I have a debt, say the mortgage on a house, and I have a good job, but I squander all my income and I squander my gifts and neglect to do my work, so that I lose my job, do I have the right to accuse the bank with injustice when they insist that I continue to pay my debt, even when I cannot possibly do so? Of course not. I cannot get out of that debt. The same holds true with respect to the debt we have toward God's law. We owe God perfect obedience. That is an inescapable debt. Though we are Totally Depraved and posses Total Inability, we are still responsible before God since we ourselves have squandered our gifts in Adam. Though we are totally unable we are still responsible.

 

Now, if I may return to the issue that Adam seems to be superior than the Second (or Last) Adam in inflicting the entire human race with greater consequences by his sinful act than Christ’s benefits, that is obviously not the case even though the Bible teaches that heaven is exclusive for God’s Elect. The key word here is “GRACE”. Christ is greater than Adam because of grace. The basic argument of Romans 5:12-21 where you derived this comparison is that the punishment and death caused by the one sin of Adam was “deserved”. If the whole human race fell in a state of Total Depravity, it is justly what is due to the fallen human race. God is obliged to execute His justice. But the one act of the Last Adam (Christ) in bestowing righteousness and life is totally “undeserved.” It was out of God’s “undeserved” kindness, goodness and grace. He is not obliged to save but He freely chose to do so with His Elect. Here the Word of God speaks in terms of “quality” and not “quantity” as you suppose. Heaven is not open for all for nobody deserves it. Some make it to heaven, not because they grabbed the chance, but because God predestined them. I do not base my statement on quotations by Calvin but on Romans 8:29-30.

 

One more thing, regarding your understanding of the curtain of the Jewish Temple being torn upon Jesus death, the Bible does not teach anywhere that it meant that heaven is now open for all. I ask you this, why did NOT God open heaven for all the generations before the event of the ripping of the Temple curtain? Is God therefore unfair? The true meaning is that it signified that Christ by His death made it possible for “believers” to go directly into God’s presence. There is no more need for the mediation of Old Testament priests, animal sacrifices, Temple services and all types and shadows in the OT. Implied in the ripping of the curtain was the revealing of the vanity and bankruptcy of the Jewish religion then. When the curtain was torn, the Holy of Holies was exposed and what do you find there? Fine interior design symbolic of the external beauty and extravagance of false, hypocritical and powerless religion but the most important item was gone—the Ark of the Covenant. Herod built a beautiful temple but the presence of Jehovah was not there. Christ exposed it all!

 

As you requested, I have not quoted a single Theologian to prove my position though I have mentioned a couple to relate historical fact. I have been honest with myself and with God. And what if (you asked) I find another denomination that champions more than what I now stand for? This is a sort of a begging of the question. The reason many came out of the historic Reformed tradition is because they have apostatized like the Arminians. Many separate from established Reformed churches because those “Reformed” churches apostatized. I left the Foursquare church because like CRC it is an apostate church. I’m not a denomination or a Calvin fanatic. It boils down to as simple as this: What is the true Gospel? And in God’s grace I heard this Good News! It so happened that the historic Reformed Faith (not the same as CRC’s Reformed faith) proclaims and defends this true Gospel which alone can save. Because of this Gospel, I have committed myself to the true Reformed Faith.

 

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Dear Alex,

Again I was overwhelmed by your answers though it took you so long to reply. Maybe you really did study well. However, we really could not engage in knowing the truth simply because you keep answering small questions with big ones. I mean, it will not get us anywhere if you will keep on including theological biases.

Let me rephrase my question: What is Total Depravity to you?
If you can answer that plainly and without much jumping between verses (as in text proofing) coupled with biases, then it would be good. Your answers however must be limited to one verse only. No more quotations from other theologians. Just pure verses. then after that, we can discuss slowly.

Just give me your definition of Total Depravity then we Will start from there. agree?

L.G.

 

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Dear Pastor L.G.,

If you are overwhelmed and "annoyed" with my being very lengthy, I take it that you are too indolent to think, considering that we are laboring at something that is not trivial but very important--the TRUTH, the GOSPEL. Pardon me if my reply was delayed. Please understand that I do not have my own internet connection. I usually do my website updates and email correspondences during weekends. If I am able to send you email sometimes, it is through my cell phone via GPRS. It doesn't work however if I send attachments. It is a shame that I haven't done diligent study lately considering that God's Word says,  "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). What I have communicated to you is stored knowledge--basic Bible knowledge. Knowledge every true "Reformed" pastor should possess.

Here's my "simple" definition of "Total Depravity": Man is DEAD. Dead that he cannot even get up and take medicine so that he would be alive. This is the single verse that I would give: Ephesians 2:1, "As for you, you were DEAD in your transgressions and sins... (NIV)"

But you haven't given your clear definition of Total Depravity yourself if you believe it at all. As I understand from your previous statements your belief is heretical, fatal error.

So, til then Pastor
L.G....

Alex


 

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Dear Alex,

 

The first time I wrote to you, if I’m not mistaken, I addressed you as “beloved.” Implied to that is the fact that I wish neither harm nor insult. It was you who have changed your tone in the latter letters.

 

The reason why I don’t like lengthy explanation was that it was quoted from other theologians. I understand that we are all “taught of God” if we are truly born-again Christians. In this light, it is my belief that you can defend or correct me for that matter if you yourself will use only the scriptures and not somebody else’s interpretation.

 

Now, going to Total Depravity, your verse was rather not appropriate to back up your meaning of Total Depravity,

 

“Man is DEAD. Dead that he cannot even get up and take medicine so that he would be alive.”

 

This meaning is Calvinistic in nature and attached to it are series of verses that will text proof the claim should you continue.

 

Anyways, Ephesians 2:1 does not talk about Total Depravity. It simply tells us that people are dead because of following the ways of the world v2. People are dead because they are disobedient v2. People are dead because of gratifying the desires of the flesh or the sinful nature v3. Because of this, people are objects of God’s wrath v3. Since people are doomed for destruction, God made a way. That “way” is called “love” v4. That “way” is Jesus Christ. Eph 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit… (NIV)

 

Eph 1:13 clearly states that the reason why the recipients of Paul’s letter were “included in Christ” was that they heard the word of truth and believed.

 

It seems that Total Depravity is not in Ephesians 2:1. What I do propose however is, “God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.” Is this found in the book of Ephesians? Yes! Paul stated in Ephesians 1:11 that God predestined the recipients, therefore, God’s sovereignty. Then in Eph 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. (NIV) Therefore, man’s responsibility. This is how I view the scripture. It is clear and simple.

 

Hopefully you could come up a verse that is strong enough to point Total Depravity. Anyways, I do believe that mankind is depraved. But to say “Total”, where can I read that? And if man is “Totally Depraved”, until when?

 

Hope to hear again from you soon my friend,

L.G.

 

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Pastor L.G.,

 

I tell you this, that from the beginning I did not intend to speak peace with you due to your first letter’s critical tone against the genuine Reformed Faith. I consider you an enemy of Grace and Truth. It is not our custom at the Bastion of Truth to address as “brother’ or “friend” anyone believing a false gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). You may notice that I never addressed you as brother, friend or beloved in my letters, only Pastor and “correspondent.” Perhaps I was wrong in even saluting you with a “Dear…”

 

I don’t remember quoting any theologian in my last letter. I mentioned Reformed men of the past just to clarify historical facts of which you are really ignorant. I quoted Reformed theologians in my earlier letters because I assumed that we have common ground thinking that we come from the same denominational tradition. But I was wrong. You are not Reformed at all. I was lengthy with my explanations because I do want to clarify my arguments and I assumed that you, being a seminary graduate and an ordained minister, possessed the spiritual and intellectual discipline to examine arguments in the light of God’s Word. But I realized that you are too indolent to take up such discipline.

 

You’re interpretation of the Ephesian passages is worse than the heresy of Arminianism. You are deliberately “twisting” and therefore “corrupting” God’s inspired Word to suit your own man-centered bias. You have substituted the preposition “in” or “through” (in other versions) with your preposition “because”. The inspired Word says, “And you who were dead “IN” trespasses and sins.” But what you are doing is making the Word of God say, “And you who were dead BECAUSE of trespasses and sins.”  The inspired Word says, “you who were dead …Wherein (or literally, “IN which”) ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (2:2). But you are corrupting God’s Word by saying, “people are dead BECAUSE of following the ways of the world; dead BECAUSE they are disobedient; dead BECAUSE of gratifying the desires of the flesh.”

 

And you still insist in your perverting the Scriptures by presenting the Arminian view expressed in your words, “Since people are doomed for destruction, God made a way. That ‘way’ is called ‘love’ v4.” There is nothing in the verse that says that. Verse 4 says that the reason why God saves is, “God…” being “…rich in MERCY” and Whose LOVE is great toward His Church (Paul says “US”—the Ephesian Christians who are eternally chosen [Eph. 1:4], not all men without exception), and not because people are doomed to destruction, as you suppose. And Paul accurately and deliberately pictured Total Depravity by describing it as “death” to exalt and magnify God’s grace in quickening (making alive) His people (Eph. 2:5). But you, in opposition to Paul, are undermining that grace.

 

I beg to disagree that Ephesians 2:1 is a weak proof in favor of Total Depravity. There is not anywhere a more explicit proof of depravity than this, and no stronger language can be used—DEAD! DEAD “in” the sphere of—not “because of”—trespasses and sins; DEAD “in” the sphere of—not “because of”—following the ways of the world and disobedience. Again, you persist in wickedly twisting the Scriptures by assuming that “the REASON why the recipients of Paul’s letter were ‘included in Christ’ was that—or BECAUSE (since you said “reason” earlier”)—they heard the word of truth and believed,” when in fact Eph. 1:13 merely states a point of “fact”: that the Ephesians were included in Christ “WHEN” (NIV), or “after” (KJV) they believed the Word of Truth, and NOT “because” they believed the Word of Truth. The Ephesian Christians’ being included in Christ was shown or manifested (not conditioned) in their believing the Word of Truth. I hope that is clear.

 

I never denied both God’s sovereignty and human responsibility—as you have read in my previous letters (that is, if you possess the virtue of diligence). Having said so, I reiterate that there is no contradiction between man’s Total Depravity [Deadness] and his moral responsibility.

 

When did Total Depravity begin (though you have not asked) and when will it end? As far as all men are concerened Total Depravity (deadness) began when God realized His threat, “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die!” (Gen 2:17). It shall end as far as the redeemed are concerned, “when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, DEATH is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54). But Total Depravity shall certainly never end with the impenitent and haters of the Truth.

 

In His Service,

Alex

 

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Dear Alex,

 

Grace and peace be unto you!

 

I thought that I could really learn from you but to the looks of it, we are not getting anywhere. You keep on calling me “indolent” but I keep on calling you “dear.” Anyways, if it’s what you want then by all means go ahead. However, if you only asked me as to what passage is really strong to represent “Total Depravity” then I could have happily given you.

 

You said, “I beg to disagree that Ephesians 2:1 is a weak proof in favor of Total Depravity. There is not anywhere a more explicit proof of depravity than this, and no stronger language can be used.” My Dear Alex, there is a better passage.

 

It looks like you are so righteous and I am not. It looks like you are in the truth but I am not. Good for you. However, it has always been my journey to understand what grace is all about. “Truth” is much easier once you are born-again but grace probably takes time to master.

You say that I am “wickedly twisting the Scripture” and I think that is a harsh assumption my friend. I’m only applying Acts 17:11 in our conversation.

 

You say that I am an “Arminian” but can you prove that from the Scripture?

 

You love lengthy letters but it’s really getting nowhere simply because you love expounding/explaining the difference between “BECAUSE” and “IN.” Didn’t Adam sin against God BECAUSE he ate the forbidden fruit? Let me rephrase, “When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he’s IN sin. Isn’t he?” To me it’s the same. If you would read different renditions of the bible you will see that those who wrote it are using different words to explain best to the satisfaction of the readers. Or should I say, so that the readers may understand better.

Speaking of renditions, didn’t you know that KJV has 5000 “corrupted words?” ask the Philippine bibles Society.

 

You say that my first letter was on a “critical tone.” Well, review it well. It was an honest question, in fact, you advice me to get out from CRC right? I assume that you are trying to help me. But when things are not doing well for us, you now attack me deliberately. If you are in the spirit of Christ, it wouldn’t be an offense to call someone a friend for even Jesus called Judas, “friend.”

 

You said, “I assumed that we have common ground thinking that we come from the same denominational tradition.” Well, I did not come from “denominational tradition.” I was called by God for salvation and service. I serve, not because of “gratitude” like what others are imposing. (by "others" I mean - the traditional way of explaining why reformed people serve God) I simply serve because it is already innate. I can’t explain much in plain language of what is happening to me nor can I explain the works of the Holy Spirit to each one of us. But I do know that according to his divine pleasure and purpose, wonderful things do happen.

 

Since you view me as an “enemy,” then what is the use of communicating? Since I started the conversation, let me now end this…

 

SHALOM!

 

P.S. Since you love Pauline letters, for that I salute you. However, if you really want to understand about Total Depravity in the light of Jesus’ words, study Matthew 22 as He tells us about the kingdom of God. As you read and reread, try asking,

 

1. “Is it God’s will to call all people or few?

 

3. [sic] Did God send servants to call those whom they have contact with?

 

4. Many are called but few were chosen. Why?

 

5. Do you think the reason why the person was thrown out simply because God did not elect him before the foundation of the world? Or is it the man’s fault?

 

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

 

Pastor L.G.,

 

This is my last letter since you have declared to end this so-called “dialogue.” I have written my responses below each of your statements.

 

<Dear Alex,

 

Grace and peace be unto you!

 

I thought that I could really learn from you but to the looks of it, we are not getting anywhere. You keep on calling me “indolent” but I keep on calling you “dear.” Anyways, if it’s what you want then by all means go ahead. However, if you only asked me as to what passage is really strong to represent “Total Depravity” then I could have happily given you.

 

You said, “I beg to disagree that Ephesians 2:1 is a weak proof in favor of Total Depravity. There is not anywhere a more explicit proof of depravity than this, and no stronger language can be used.” My Dear Alex, there is a better passage.>

 

You can never learn from me since it appears that you are still unregenerate. An unregenerate person cannot even “see” the Kingdom of God (John 3:3), much less, enter it. An unregenerate person cannot understand spiritual things: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). I did call you “indolent” and it was not without basis lest I be judgmental. You resent my arguments which only appeared lengthy because I quoted Scripture frequently. It seems that you also hate reading quoted Scripture. You do not refute them directly, instead you evade them. If you are a genuinely “born-again” person you would love the Lord not only with all your heart but with all your “mind” as well by denying yourself, take off from your comfort zone and exert mental effort. Ephesians 2:1 is still the best passage that represents the Biblical doctrine of Total Depravity and one of my strong proofs is that you are not able to show that “better passage” you are so proudly referring to. You just reveal your arrogance in refusing to show that passage, if there is such at all.

 

<It looks like you are so righteous and I am not. It looks like you are in the truth but I am not. Good for you. However, it has always been my journey to understand what grace is all about. “Truth” is much easier once you are born-again but grace probably takes time to master.

You say that I am “wickedly twisting the Scripture” and I think that is a harsh assumption my friend. I’m only applying Acts 17:11 in our conversation.>

 

Me being righteous is not for me, or for you or for anyone else to judge. That is up to the Lord, the Righteous Judge, Who is greater than even my own conscience (1 Cor. 4:3, 4). However, I would insist that I am in the truth and you are in grave and fatal error. It shows in your erroneous concept of Grace and Truth. Grace is a truth. And if you say that “‘Truth’ is much easier once you are born-again,” then I see no reason why “Grace” cannot be easier too once you are born-again, since Grace is also a truth. You said, “grace probably takes time to master.” I am not sure what you exactly mean by this. But if by that you mean that an Arminian is someone who can be saved in spite of his still inferior knowledge of grace, that is salvation is partially of God and partially of man, and then afterwards matures as a Calvinist who possesses a “superior” understanding of grace, that is salvation is “all-of-God and none-of-man,” you are fatally mistaken. There is only one principle of grace: “all-of-God and none-of-man.” A believer may take a journey in understanding the fuller implications of grace in his life but he consistently understands that one principle of grace. The evidence of grace in a person is his possessing the knowledge of faith that believes that he is saved by pure grace. Therefore, a person who claims to be regenerate yet denies grace as the Bible understands it is not saved. For this reason, the Arminian is not saved although he speaks of “grace.” I deliberately mentioned that you are “wickedly corrupting the Scriptures” because the injustice you are doing against God’s holy Word was quite too obvious. And you are lying in saying that you are applying Acts 17:11 while you are substituting the “Spirit-inspired” Greek preposition “in” (en) with your subtle and unwarranted “because” (hoti or gar). You have wrongly interpreted several Scripture passages you quoted in your previous letters. Is that the appropriate way to examine the Scriptures as the noble Bereans did?

 

<You say that I am an “Arminian” but can you prove that from the Scripture?

You love lengthy letters but it’s really getting nowhere simply because you love expounding/explaining the difference between “BECAUSE” and “IN.” Didn’t Adam sin against God BECAUSE he ate the forbidden fruit? Let me rephrase, “When Adam ate the forbidden fruit, he’s IN sin. Isn’t he?” To me it’s the same. If you would read different renditions of the bible you will see that those who wrote it are using different words to explain best to the satisfaction of the readers. Or should I say, so that the readers may understand better.

Speaking of renditions, didn’t you know that KJV has 5000 “corrupted words?” ask the Philippine bibles Society.>

 

You ARE certainly an Arminian and therefore a heretic. Since you have too little patience with my enumerating Scripture passages, I will just give you one verse to prove that, and that is, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Biblical and Reformed teaching is that Christ shall save HIS PEOPLE from their sins. But the Arminian teaches that God opens the way to save all men and therefore offers salvation to all men without exception. This is your teaching and this is Arminianism condemned by Scripture. Your false “Christ” saves out of obligation (to save all), but my Christ saves out of mercy (Romans 9:16).

 

My lengthy letters doesn’t get anywhere because you don’t counter-argue with my Scriptural proofs. You are too evasive. Again, you persist in your twisting the inspired Word of God and this time by doing a play on words where you are sowing much more confusion to your own ruin. Adam sinned “IN” eating the forbidden truth. Eating the forbidden fruit itself is sin and not the “cause” of sin. The act itself is sin.

 

The problem with modern Bible translations is that their primary orientation is towards readability (man-centered) rather than faithfulness to the original languages (God-centered). Aren’t the PBS guys Arminians too, like you? From which seminary did they acquire their Biblical language skills? From Asian Theological Seminary? where they cater to all denominations and turn out to be a market of various and even contradicting thoughts? where absolute truth is mocked and relativism shapes the hermeneutic of church leaders and seminary teachers? where it is considered a mark of high stature to question the integrity and inspiration of the Bible through the spectacles of liberal/modernistic theology and higher criticism? If there exists even a drop of the virtue of diligence in you and you are able to mortify your sin of indolence, I suggest that you open, read and study this link: http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_10.html or download the other document attached in this email since you have again manifested your apostasy in rejecting the good old reliable KJV. You are accusing the original translators of the KJV for “corrupting” the Bible. Didn’t you consider that many of the original manuscript sources used by the NIV are themselves corrupt? You are accusing the KJV translation as corrupt. Assuming that that is true, it is only the translation that is corrupted (I would prefer “weak”). Faithful and diligent scholars and pastors can always consult the original. But the NIV’s “original sources” (not the translation this time) are themselves corrupt! So what do you expect of the translation? Besides, the translators of the NIV are mostly Arminians (Read the denominations listed in the Preface, your own apostate denomination is included). Further, the NIV doesn’t aim towards accuracy but towards ecumenicity—a wicked alliance of apostate churches culminating in the one world church of Antichrist.

 

<You say that my first letter was on a “critical tone.” Well, review it well. It was an honest question, in fact, you advice me to get out from CRC right? I assume that you are trying to help me. But when things are not doing well for us, you now attack me deliberately. If you are in the spirit of Christ, it wouldn’t be an offense to call someone a friend for even Jesus called Judas, “friend.”>

 

Yes, your first letter was critical of the Reformed faith. You wouldn’t ask such a subtle question if you are truly Reformed. Whether it was out of personal concern for you or not, I admonished you to come out of the apostate CRC because it is your solemn “duty” to be separate from the false church. Concerning Jesus’ addressing Judas a “friend”, in the Greek there are two words which translators have rendered “friend” - one implying “affection and regard,” the other not. One is properly rendered “friend” (philos); the other expresses more nearly what we mean by “companion” (hetairos). Jesus used the latter word: “companion” (See also, Mat. 20:13; Mat. 22:12) and not “friend.” Jesus died only for His friends. He did not die for Judas because he was never Jesus’ “friend” in the proper sense of the word.

 

<You said, “I assumed that we have common ground thinking that we come from the same denominational tradition.” Well, I did not come from “denominational tradition.” I was called by God for salvation and service. I serve, not because of “gratitude” like what others are imposing. (by "others" I mean - the traditional way of explaining why reformed people serve God) I simply serve because it is already innate. I can’t explain much in plain language of what is happening to me nor can I explain the works of the Holy Spirit to each one of us. But I do know that according to his divine pleasure and purpose, wonderful things do happen.>

 

See? By saying you did not come from “denominational tradition” it suggests that you are only paying lip service to the Reformed Confessions, attaching the term “Reformed” to your denomination’s name and that in merely blushing “parentheses,” for financial security, perhaps, and institutional identity? Your motive in serving your lord sounds pious but very subtle and proud. No one has an “innate” tendency to serve God. Our innate tendency is to overthrow God from His throne and break the yoke of His Christ upon us (Psalm 2). Paul’s motive in preaching was out of compulsion (1 Cor. 9:16) but it is also a compulsion of Christ’s love (2 Cor. 5:14) and not out of some miserable “innate” thing. You are really an Arminian even in your concept of “calling.”

 

<Since you view me as an “enemy,” then what is the use of communicating? Since I started the conversation, let me now end this…

SHALOM!

P.S. Since you love Pauline letters, for that I salute you. However, if you really want to understand about Total Depravity in the light of Jesus’ words, study Matthew 22 as He tells us about the kingdom of God. As you read and reread, try asking,

 

1. “Is it God’s will to call all people or few?>

 

Answer: Your passage obviously says “MANY are called.” It doesn’t say “ALL are called” or “FEW are called.”

 

<3. [sic] Did God send servants to call those whom they have contact with?>

 

I think that’s obvious unless I misunderstood your question.

 

<4. Many are called but few were chosen. Why?>

 

Answer: I believe your question is founded on an expected but “wrong” answer. The true answer lies on the true meaning of the word “call.” First, it is not an invitation to salvation. There was an invitation as far as the parable is concerned. But there is no such thing as an invitation to salvation in the Bible. Many are called, that is, (1) many are made to hear the “external” preaching of the Gospel; (2) many are confronted with the command to believe and repent; (3) many are made to hear the command to love the Lord with all their being. But many also reject that call because (1) there are those who simply flatly refuse; (2) they mock the things of the kingdom; (3) hatred is aroused upon those who hear the call, persecute and murder the bearers of the Gospel. These wicked multitudes are “called,” that is merely called with an “external” call. But notice in 22:10 that those chosen were “gathered.” Jesus did not use the word “call” this time. That implies the efficacious, victorious work of the Spirit to regenerate them through an “internal call.” Don’t be offended if I refer this to “Irresistible Grace,” the fourth point of Calvinism.

 

Why? The answer, Sir, is undoubtedly Election. Again I know that you will resent my answer because I am imposing my Calvinism. But remember that it was the King in the parable who provided wedding robes (of Christ’s righteousness) and gave them to those whom he ordered to be “gathered.” One man superficially and falsely responded to the call but came to the banquet with his own clothes. That is his own clothes of self-righteousness, instead of the righteousness provided by the King. Because of this the King became angry. Interpreting Scripture with Scripture I must refer you to Romans 8:30: “…whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified (clothed with the robe righteousness).”

 

<5. Do you think the reason why the person was thrown out simply because God did not elect him before the foundation of the world? Or is it the man’s fault?>

 

Answer: Both are true. I have been telling you over and over that there is no contradiction between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Again, comparing Scripture with Scripture, (which you hate obviously, that is why you are trapping me by confining me within this particular passage), I refer you to Acts 2:23: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” and Acts 4:27, 28: “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” In these two verses, God’s Word tells us that wicked men were “responsible” for the murder of Jesus but that they have done what God had sovereignly “determined beforehand.” You may consult your cherished NIV or other spurious versions if you distrust the good old reliable KJV—the Bible of the martyrs and the faithful.

 

In case you accuse me of imposing Pauline theology into Christ’s blessed Words, I respond with an accusation that you are engaging Christ and His servant Paul in a cock fight. Perhaps you will contend that Christ never taught Predestination. But in Matthew 25:34 Christ said in another parable, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

 

Frankly, I am relieved that you have finally decided to end this correspondence/dialogue. Honestly, Pastor L.G., I have too little patience with ministers/pastors who insist with their false gospel. I believe they are to be rebuked sharply (Gal. 1:6-9). However, patience and pity ought to be shown to their deceived but searching members. I was able to keep up with this correspondence for only one reason: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). And if it shows that you haven’t learned anything from me I would respond with, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Corinthians 4:3).

 

 

Farewell,

 

Alex M. Aquino

Bastion of Truth Reformed Churches

in the Philippines

 

“Standing fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel which was once delivered unto the saints” (Phil. 1:27; Jude 3)

 

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