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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Make Good Wine: “Take” the Water and the Blood

Part of a series of articles by Dr. Jim Reitman

In my previous post I asserted that “eternal life” in John is not just a future destiny for believers but also a present lifestyle characterized by “doing” the righteous work of the Father—the “good wine” of Isaiah’s Vineyard. John 15 offers a transparent picture of this desired “fruit of the vine” and how it critically depends on whether the branches “remain” or “abide” in the Vine. A Free Grace view of John 15 makes it clear that once branches are in the Vine, their eternal destiny is secure (Zane Hodges, Absolutely Free, pp. 134-38). The same Beloved who was to tend the Vineyard in Isaiah 5 is now himself the Vine, and the Father is the vinedresser (15:1). To make fruit, the “wine sap” must flow from the Vine through the branches. The “one believing” in 3:16 is the one abiding in John 15 and can “bear fruit” (“deeds done in God,” cf. 3:21) from his “wine sap” of eternal life.

When we stop abiding in the Vine we stop trusting Jesus for life—we stop living out of that eternal life and thus cannot bear righteous fruit (15:4). We can tell when we are abiding in the Vine and “doing righteousness” by whether we love the brethren: No one who hates his brother “has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn 3:10b-15); such a person is literally detached from the Vine—no wine sap! So, how do we keep the vital sap flowing in the branches in order to “make good wine,” to “do righteousness”? This post will explore the “mechanics” of sustaining communion with the Son to accomplish this end as we “incarnate” him in our world.

Bad Wine to Good: “It is Finished”
The last mention of wine in John occurs in the last scene of the Passion which is strange indeed, if we don’t consider how the symbolism of the event is rooted in imagery already established in John 2-4. John is notorious for dropping hints in editorial comments. If his readers didn’t get the Kingdom imagery of turning water into wine (2:1-10) as the intended result of believing in Him (2:11, 23; 3:3, 5, 16), John has Jesus circle back to Cana “where he had made the water wine” (4:46) and perform another miracle in 4:47-54. It is interesting to see how the word “believe” is used: In 4:50 the nobleman trusted Jesus’ assurance that his son lived, but when he saw that his son was given life in the face of certain death from fever “he himself believed, and his whole household” (4:53); that is, they trusted Jesus for eternal life for they saw he could indeed deliver on his promises. John’s point (see 4:46, above) is, now that they had eternal life they were “suitably constituted” to join Jesus in making wine out of water.

There is no mention of wine again until the last scene of the Passion narrative. Now, remember the vineyard in Isaiah 5: It “brought forth wild grapes” (5:3b-4). And what do you get from wild grapes? Sour wine. Note the connection in John 19:28-31, 33-37 (NKJV, emphasis added):
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away….But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

DID YOU SEE THAT?? The crucified Messiah is inviting us to take communion! They did not break his bones, so “one intact loaf” could be divided among his people to “reconstitute” his one Body! His blood poured out, so each member of his Body could be cleansed of sin! Seen through the lens of Isaiah 5, it is also an invitation for his people to “take” the water and make good wine: Here at the foot of the cross we have sour wine—all the idolatrous, worthless deeds done by the nation Israel in darkness—and Jesus simply “takes” it. (We would expect “swallows it” here, but the Greek is lambanō, “actively receive” [cf. 1:11-12]; see the “Receive?” “Believe?” post under Light Leads to Life.) Then in goes the spear and out comes water and blood!! John is thinking like a Rabbi: Israel’s sin cleansed by the blood of Christ—their “sour wine” turned into water and offered for the people of God to “take” again (as he “took” their sins) and make good wine. John then quotes Zechariah 12:10b. Time for us to put on those rabbinic thinking caps again…

The Second Exodus
Zechariah 12:10 ushers in the Day of the Lord. The ensuing imagery supplies a graphic depiction of that Day in which water and blood play a major role. When “they look on Him whom they pierced” (12:10, LXX), they will all mourn, family by family, (12:11-14), and “a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness” (13:1 NKJV). The Lord of hosts (the God who executes judgment) will cleanse the Holy Land, which has now become a “second Egypt” with all the idolatry and false prophets (13:2-6). This “clean up campaign” recalls the Lord of host’s intent to “clean up” his vineyard in Isaiah 5, addressed to his “Beloved,” but this time God refers to Messiah as his “Shepherd”:
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate,” declares the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones” (Zech 13:7 NASB).
In “striking the Shepherd” He initiates a “second Exodus,” sending a remnant of His people back into the “wilderness” to purify them (13:8-9). He gathers the nations to Jerusalem, completely purging the Land, “plowing up the Vineyard” with massive geologic changes, as Messiah returns to the Mount of Olives (14:1-6).

At this point, the “fountain” that initially cleansed the remnant (13:1) becomes rivers of “living water” that flow from Jerusalem (where Messiah is installed as King) to irrigate the now leveled wilderness where the gentile nations reside (14:7-9). Jerusalem, however, is “raised up” and inhabited by the remnant who make wine at the King’s winepresses (!) (14:10). When the Lord of hosts gathers all the nations to Jerusalem to purge them with a plague (14:11-15), those who are left from the nations are obliged to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles by bringing their harvest to Jerusalem. Now, look at this: The nations are irrigated by the “living waters” flowing from the King in Jerusalem (14:8) so they can bring in their grapes to make wine at the King’s winepresses (14:10)! Those who don’t bring their harvest to the Feast very simply get no rain (14:17-19), just like the worthless vines of Isaiah’s vineyard (Isa 5:6). In the end, we have a “Vineyard” that now includes all the nations of earth, but the Temple in Jerusalem houses only the sanctified people of God in a state of “Holiness to the Lord” (Zech 14:20-21).

The moniker “Holiness to the Lord” signifies that His people have finally been fully delivered from “Egypt” to be “Holy, for I am holy” (Lev 11:44-45), as attested in the “harvest” by “good wine for the King.” This wine is the same righteousness and justice amid the nations of earth that Isaiah was sent to elicit from the remnant of Israel (Isa 6). With this imagery of irrigation and harvest, Zechariah 14 thus illustrates the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you, and in you all the families of earth will be blessed” (Gen 12:2-3). Zechariah’s Day of the Lord thus begins with “striking the Shepherd,” a metaphor of Messiah’s “piercing” to bring forth water and blood (Zech 12:10; 14:7), thereby constituting the Body of Christ; however, it is consummated only in the reconstituted remnant of Israel—the “not yet” and the “already” of the Kingdom of God. John’s gospel shows how this imagery of water and blood inaugurates this Kingdom in our communion with Christ.

“Taking” the Water: Drinking from the “Rock”
The piercing of Christ in John 19 is thus associated with Messiah’s piercing in Zech 12:10 and the “bundled” allusions to the “fountain” of cleansing (13:1), “striking the Shepherd” (13:7), and “living water” flowing from the King in Jerusalem (14:8). But John’s readers should also clearly recall the woman at the well, who accepted Jesus’ offer of “living water” that would “become in her a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:10, 15b-16). Indeed, as soon as she “took” the water, it immediately flowed out of her to “irrigate” Samaria, where many of them believed and became her “harvest” to the Lord (4:28-42, cf. Zech 14:16). This was just what the nation Israel was commissioned to do in the first Exodus, where the Lord also instructed Moses to “strike the Shepherd” so that they could have “living water” (Ex 17:5-7). Instead they rebelled and fell in the wilderness (see esp. Ps 78:12-41). Paul recounts this same scenario for a divided assembly of believers (1 Cor 10:1-13), so that they might grasp the critical importance of their communion in Christ (10:14-22): “All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ” (10:2-4). Paul’s point is that we get true life from God, not idols, and just as water from the Rock in the wilderness, the cup and bread symbolize the vital role of sustaining communion in Christ so as to appropriate that life in the “two-way blessing” of Abraham’s covenant (see above).

Paul’s comparison of the Body of Christ to Israel shows how communion is meant to remind us of the critical importance of maintaining fellowship with each other and with the Lord: “Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?” (10:18). This allusion to eating the OT sacrifices (especially the guilt and peace offerings) is a picture of restoration of “table fellowship” in sharing the sacrifice with one another and with the Lord, to whom the sacrifice is offered. By analogy with these OT offerings, the rite of communion therefore depicts the “maintenance” of both “horizontal” and “vertical” fellowship in the Lord. The next four chapters in the book then reveal how this “dual communion”—from their baptism into Christ to the springing up in them of “living water” in gifts of the Spirit—is meant to culminate in their testimony of life to the unbelieving world (14:22-25), just as in the woman at the well. But in light of the “leaven” of sin in the Body of Christ how do we maintain our “Passover” communion with him (5:6-8) in order to accomplish the mission we were sent to fulfill? In other words, how do we “keep the water pure” in order to make “good wine”?

“Taking” the Blood: Maintaining “Holiness to the Lord”
Here, finally, is where we find that the “gift” of God’s Son as a ransom for sin (John 3:16) is the “gift that keeps on giving.” The blood shed at the Cross, attested by the spear in his side (19:35), is blood that can be applied at the altar whenever we need it to cleanse us of sin and restore table fellowship, depicted by Christ’s footwashing in 13:1-20. When Judas is sent away from the table (13:21-30), it depicts the crucial importance of maintaining table fellowship among the “already clean” (cf. 13:10-11) whom Christ chose to send into the world (13:20). The key implications of footwashing in the Body of Christ are fleshed out in the role of Christ’s blood in 1 John 1:5-2:2. Some take this passage to refer only to the conversion of unbelievers, but this is sadly mistaken. Very simply, the “as needed” foot-washing Jesus enjoins of his disciples in John 13 is fulfilled in the “as needed” application of blood that was shed for sins once for all, so that they might not sin (1:9-2:2); the blood keeps the “water” pure! John is unambiguously clear that fellowship with God—“abiding in Him,” “knowing Him,” “walking in the light,” “the love of God”—will be mirrored in the way we treat each other (cf. 1:5-2:11; 4:19-21). If these are markers of all believers, then “abiding” in John 15 and the entire First Epistle loses all significance for the Body of Christ: Abiding is crucial in maintaining “Holiness to the Lord.”

Hence, the rite of communion shows that we maintain fellowship to sustain a holy community set apart for God’s purposes: to make the “good wine” of righteousness and justice that attests eternal life to a world in darkness; in fact this is the entire “strategic intent” of First John. Strictly forensic views of passages like 2 Cor 5:17-21 and Romans 5 totally miss the vital link between reconciliation and righteousness in order to attest eternal life. In this regard I’ve examined 2 Cor 5:17-21 elsewhere and plan to do the same with Romans 5. All I wish to do at this point is whet our appetites with Romans 5:17, 21, which establishes the key role of “taking” the gift of God in consistently attesting eternal life through righteousness. Keeping in mind the Kingdom imagery of Zechariah 12-14 above, listen to Paul’s conclusion in Romans 5:21:
…so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (NKJV).

An analysis of Romans 4-5 leading up to this conclusion shows that the work of atonement is intended to result in a “righteous reign”; the ensuing opus magnum in Romans 6-8 makes it unambiguously clear that this “righteous reign” is to be lived out in this present life by the lead of the Holy Spirit to ensure an eschatological co-reign with Messiah. The verb “reign” is in the aorist tense, signifying that this event is being viewed as a singular, intact reign that extends uninterrupted into the eschaton (on Greek tenses, see “Receive?” “Believe?” under Light Leads to Life). How can this be if sin in this life “contaminates” our “Holiness to the Lord”? Answer: Ongoing appropriation of the “gift of God” (5:17, cf. Jn 3:16):
For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned [aorist, singular, intact] through the one, much more will those receiving [present, ongoing] the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign to life through the One, Jesus Christ (my translation).
Again, the conspicuous verb is lambanō, to “actively receive,” “take,” “appropriate” (see above, Bad Wine to Good): In order for us to take active part in the singular, intact reign of God and attest “eternal life” through righteousness, we are called to actively appropriate the gracious “gift of God,” Messiah’s righteousness, by repeatedly “taking” his shed blood and the “water” of his Spirit that was given in his resurrection (cf. Rom 4:25).

To conclude the series, therefore, “the ones believing” in John 3:16 obtain an ongoing experience of eternal life because these are “the ones receiving” God’s gift of His Son. They are enabled to “reign in righteousness to eternal life” in this present life because they remain in communion with the King of Righteousness. And they will continue to reign with him in eternal life during the coming eschaton as a direct result of their faithfulness in this life (cf. Rom 8:17). A life of consistent “believing” can be sustained in ongoing communion with our King, because his blood is always available to cleanse any intercurrent sin, so that it does not disrupt our “table fellowship” with him or with one another in attesting eternal life to a fallen world. Now that’s a 3-D gospel. May the God of all grace bless you all in communion with the Son he gave!

40 Comments:

Blogger Missy said...

Jim,

I'm still visiting with Dad, but I wanted to give my first impression and hope I can get back to the full series and leave some questions and comments. I have to say, I left this one feeling like I just read a mystic passage from a gnostic bible. The development in it is not a solid as the previous posts. But I could be wrong. I wish I could be more specific right now - but it's more an impression. I'm just starting to go over it again with the scripture references.

The phrase "abide in" is one that stumps me, here, too. John 8 in particular really seems to say that one must remain in Christ for eternal life. It seems there (in John 8) that to abide in Christ is not to be a slave to Christ or righteousness, but rather a brother - hence a Son of God. And to become a brother is kinda a non-reversible thing - you can't undo that. But you can place yourself under someone as a servant or slave - even Jesus - without becoming a brother. A slave can leave - a son belongs forever.

I think we both are coming to a same conclusion, but in different ways?? Sorry if I make no sense, but I wanted to leave a note before I got too distracted again...

11/12/2009 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Missy,

Again, I'm grateful to have someone keep me "honest." And I'm grateful for the opportunity to clarify but I don't really understand what you said, on either point...

When you have a little more time, I'd welcome any elaboration!

11/12/2009 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi Jim And MISSY!

I enjoyed the article. I read it a 2nd time to get more of the connections.
I am planning on using an "abide" message as a 2nd lesson for my students, when we get together again(God willing), in 10 days. I believe that Jesus's concern for His disciples, and all of us, and His desire for all of us to be disciplined In Him can begin to be learned through HIS powerful and powerfully emotive monologue and prayer between "Arise. Let us go hence" and the Garden.
Here, HE reveals HIS heart of total commitment, and His desire
for total reliance upon HIM.
He also expresses HIS desire for love within the brotherhood. These are all things you've said, Jim, but I believe it's a good anchor to buttress the work of the Cross, and begin to hope that they will begin to feed themselves.

Now, I'd like to study the whole work again, time permitting.

Hey! I'm curious, what different roles will the Church have in the Kingdom vis a vis Israel, any ideas?

More to Follow,

Duane

11/12/2009 07:09:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi Again!

A couple few things:

I'm getting all of your bullet points (I think). I'm having trouble seeing the big picture, or flow chart if you will, because it seems somewhat here-and-there.
a couple more things I do get:

"Niether pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on ME through their word. That they ALL may be one, as THOU FATHER art in ME and I in THEE, that they also may be one IN US. That the world may believe that THOU hast sent me."
Sorry about the KJV, but the whole passage, as I said, from "Arise, Let us go hence" to the end, trips me out.

The second thing is related to the sharing of communion. I think Timbo might appreciate this: The liturgical church where I worship credits the taking of communion with almost Roman significance.
It seems to me, the real power would be givng it the place spelled out in the Word:
Confession, to renew individual fellowship with FATHER,
Prayers "for the unity of the church and the whole people of God" (those words in our liturgy), and preferring one another before ourselves, to encourage unity of the church.
If a) the church celebrated communion alongside the message it is symbolic of, and
b) more often than once in a while
for non-liturgical churches,and once per month for our lit. church.

Most importantly, if we began to live like that, without regard to day of week or if Communion Sunday, the Lord would make sure that the whole world would know.


For Unity IN Christ,
For the Unity of the whole people of God.(But what would that look like?)
soli deo gloria

Duane

11/12/2009 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Duane,

Thanks for the feedback, Bro.

On your point about communion and fellowship: Yeah, I'm resonating with ya. What would happen, indeed??

On the "big picture" I guess I went "out there" pretty far for my last post, so I suppose I can see Missy's "gnostic bible" comment in retrospect. But it's John's fault, after all; he had to close the scene by saying that Zech 12:10 was fulfilled at the Cross, and that's what narrative theology "gave back" to me! ...as a Progressive Dispensationalist, of course. I just think those (PD) lenses make eminent sense for the "big picture." Your question on the relationship between the church and Israel certainly speaks to that. (BTW I used a theological "cuss word" among Dispensationalists---"inaugurated")

Now, I understand why truly sane people like Missy would be confused by my post (of course, that would exclude you, Bro Duane, so why don't you get it??). :-) Along these lines ("sanity")---and with direct relevance to the topic of this last post---it reminds me of a story I once heard:

There was a schizophrenic who was really annoying his family because he kept saying he was sure he was dead. They finally got fed up with it and took him to the doctor and told the doc he had to do something with the guy. He told the schizophrenic he could prove to him that he was not dead.

"Do dead people bleed?"

"No, of course not."

"Well, here's a scalpel, gimme yer arm....OK, there, see?? Ya cain't possibly be dead."

(Pause)

"Well, I'll be d-----! I was wrong; dead people DO bleed!!"

(Of course, for the purposes of this post, the punch line should probably be rewritten to read: "Well, I'll be saved, dead people do bleed!)

Well, that's my story and I'm...s-s-s-stickin' to it! (With apologies to Messiah, who I'm pretty sure might actually be laughing. We love you, Jesus! Thanks for your unspeakable gift!!)

11/13/2009 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi Jim & Missy (you too KC)!

I had to brush on my gNosticism. I still don't get the connection:OD. Is that good thing?

I was listening to Ravi Zacharias on the way home. It was an audience question session. Someone asked, "what do you think of the argument that the concept of evil was just dreamt up by humans?"
Ravi in answer, told of another questioner who once asked: "How can I know for sure that I exist?"
Ravi answered "And whom shall I say is asking?"
I would suggest an alternative response to the same question:
"Does anyone in the audience have a question?"

11/13/2009 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Still thinking of Bobby.

It's good that we are called to move Heaven and Earth with our prayers. Aside from waiting on the Lord in the flesh, or our own family, can there be a higher calling?
I have more to say, but I don't know how to express it.
We're called to spend eternity together, that's a long time. If we get to know each other a little bit here, so much the better.

It just ocurred to me, I am so grateful Bobby was candid about his anxieties. That can be such an encouragement to someone who is also struggling with fears, and maybe doubts. FATHER knows, I've be there.

God Bless You All,
Thanks For Being Here

Duane

11/13/2009 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Amen, Bro. Duane, love your heart.

11/13/2009 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Bro. Duane,

I appreciate your heart as well. As I do the rest of you here. I cam relate to what bro. Bobby shared, I have been there too often myself. It is good to know that God does not kick us out for fears & doubts that arise. Sometimes we have to go through a Psalm 73:13 experience to arrive at a Psalm 73:23-26 experience! God Bless y'all.

11/13/2009 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Amen Brothers. It's not that we will never have fear or doubt but rather that we resolve it all through faith in our Lord.

11/13/2009 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger David Wyatt said...

Beautifully said bro. Kc! I believe that may be part of the reason I love the Psalms so much. So often the psalmists began with words like, "Help, Lord!!" But no matter how much they feared or faltered, they always ended up praising the Lord! That's how I always want to end up! God bless y'all.

11/13/2009 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Duane I really appreciate all your comments through this series.

11/14/2009 05:45:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jim,
I'm still chewing on this last article.

I still see great need for a clear doctrine on election. As I stated elsewhere the strength of modern Reformed Theology is found in its doctrine of election even though the theology is founded on philosophical presupposition. The Determinist proof-text is easy enough to correct but the system still seems to stand in the absence of a positive response. A scriptural doctrine of election would resolve a majority of the arguments raised by those who would be opposed to the Gospel in “3-D” and should answer all charges of Pelagianism. If we fail to make it clear that election is only in The Elected One-and-Only then many will continue to perceive that salvation is by grace through predestination.

11/14/2009 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Jim,

Man, I'm so sorry to leave you hanging! My Dad and I have been discussing gnosticism a lot since he's been here, so it was on my mind. My comment was metaphorical regarding feeling a need to unravel a deeper meaning in your text. I was not referring to any parallel with gnostic doctrine. We are now reading and discussing a newer translation of Homer's Odyssey to discover some ancient truth in the migratory patterns of Mesopotamian peoples - no telling what metaphorical phrases I'll use now. :)

I was looking forward to this article because I have always had some difficulty with the concept, as traditionally taught, of "carnal" Christians. You've given me much to think about. However, I think I'm missing a piece of the puzzle - it's not clearing up for me. My second paragraph above is kind of how I work my way through it.

I'm hoping that as I read through your other articles, a little more focused on the framework that supports this last article, I may come across that puzzle piece.

I know the time and consideration you must have put into this, and I appreciate you so much for that, bro. I am blown away by your humility in accepting criticism from this foolish young(ish) woman and others. I'm hoping one day to be more like KC, and refrain from commenting until I've spent a little more time in understanding. :)

Bless all of you guys for the gracious and insightful comments!

11/14/2009 06:43:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Thanks, Missy, for coming back "into the fray." Maybe we could get more into the "abiding" issue and what that really means as John characterizes it, not only in John 15 but also in the entire first epistle. I'll leave that to you, but I appreciate your tenacious determination to peel off the outer layers!

11/14/2009 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

KC,

I agree this is a substantial "rock" still buried in the "field" of soteriology.

I think this may well bring us to the point where our brother Bobby can pull out his best gifts to expound on union in Christ, and hopefully "get translated" into a version of English we can understand. ;-)

(You know I love you, Bro. Bobby!)

11/14/2009 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hey There!

Hi Missy. Forgive me if this is an out of the park foul ball, but are you interpretting the "flesh" and "carnallity" of Paul, as being flesh and blood material person?
Or as the unregenerate mind-will of every son of Adam? or am I misinterpretting g-nostycism meself :)?

KC and Jim, and everyone,

On election: I see no need to re-invent the wheel, besides the risk of plagiarizing someone else's work if we are on a similar track and use the same arguments and arrive at the same conclusions.

I have not seen much in the way of "heavy hitters" batting for the free will side of election, but Norman Geisler who is Collaberating with Ravi Zacharias, whom I like alot, argues for Free Will:

http://evangelicalarminians.org/Geisler.Free-Will-and-Detrminism-Baker-Encyclopedia-of-Christian-Apologetics

is a short article. He has written a whole book on the subject, which I probably should purchase, and read.

I've taken another walk through lower Romans in the past week, which I was studying anyhow. There is enough there alone, to satisfy me on the question. I'm putting my notes together now.
In Him,

Duane

11/14/2009 09:31:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Yeah, Duane,

I had Geisler for anthropology in seminary in 1982, where he was accused by some of being a semi-Pelagian, but I have never had any problem with his view. I'm not interested in reinventing the wheel either, but I anticipate that others who have had different exposure may come in from a different angle and could have a lot of trouble with it.

Anyhow, I'm grateful for the work you have been doing!

11/14/2009 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Brothers I think if we allow election to be framed around our will that we will fail to maintain a scriptural perspective on the importance of identification.

I think it’s important that we first accept that election is not about our choice but God’s determination in Christ. We can then move forward to develop a positive response from scripture to illustrate that election is in Christ and His body. Jim’s verbiage of “repository” fits so well with Paul’s use of “vessels” in Romans 9 where Paul defends God’s determination of election by faith (spiritual birth) rather then nationality (physical birth). The importance of mans freedom to choose in “the purpose of God according to election” is so clearly demonstrated in Esau’s rejection of his birthright (identification) and Jacob’s choice to “receive” it. The list goes on and on.

Jim I really do hope I can persuade you to go for the grand slam and close this doctrine with a scriptural perspective on election. I think it's critical for a complete soteriology. I have no doubt that Bobby’s contribution in this will be invaluable.

11/14/2009 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby Grow said...

First off, thank you all for your continued prayers; I find out the results of the biopsy this wednesday --- please pray the results are good (I have a peace from the Lord that they are).

Secondly, thanks Jim for all the work you've put in here; it's not easy to do NT usage of OT promise/fulfillment interpretation, but is certainly worthwhile and fruitful for a rich understanding of God's Word!

I'll just try to hit on a few themes, and try to keep them related to the post.

1)Union with Christ or John's abide in. I think that what this presupposes is that Christ is in union for us first (as our mediator); and thus we are included in His union with the Father by the Spirit through adoption (a Pauline theme). What is key here is understanding a doctrine of Christ's vicarious humanity for us. The humanity that He assumed in the Incarnation was real humanity -- or our humanity [all of humanity] -- which was created and recreated in Christ by the Holy Spirit. So to be in Christ is first conditional upon Christ's "being in us;" it's contingent upon His choice for us first, and then we speak out of His Spirit filled choice by the same Spirit. How this relates to "abiding in," I think, must be grounded upon Christ through and through. In other words, not only is Christ the vine, He is also the branch; we live out of His perfect Humanity for us (He is the continuously abiding branch --- if we take the logic of His humanity in the Incarnation seriously that is). When "we aren't abiding," all were doing is rejecting, at that moment, His abiding for us --- but that doesn't ultimately negate communion/fellowship, instead it makes the "amount of fruit" we bear less or more (per Christ's fruit for us).

2)On Election, I see Christ as God's elected one for us (in His humanity); and I see Jesus as the electing God and elected God. So in other words, when we talk about pre-destination; it is referring to Christ's election and choice for us --- His choice to take our reprobation and give us His elect life. Again, we have to see Jesus as the archetypical man (the real man); and see our humanity as proximate and conditioned by His. In this way, election and reprobation is grounded in the God-Man Jesus Christ; not us, per se. As we are joined to Him by faith, as we appropriate His salvation by the Spirit; our election and spiritual union is fully realized.

I don't know if that helps, but I thought I would give it a shot.

Thanks again for all the prayers, everyone; I'm still in need of them!

11/15/2009 08:40:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Food for Thought!

Thanks Bobby!

Still Praying.
I think when Jesus prayed Father, "And now Father, Glorify thou Me with thine ownself with the Glory that WE had together before the world was"
Something tells me, just a hunch, HE's praying here that the cross be all that it is meant to be, therein is the Glory of the Father and the Son. I just got goosebumps. Father sending Son to His doom, Son willingly going.

That's Glory!

Your Brother

11/15/2009 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Bobby,

I'm glad the biopsy's done. It is our privilege to intercede on your behalf (and your family's) in Jesus.

I am in basic agreement with your points on union and vicariousness, especially your take on election, which I would think would raise quite a few eyebrows among more "mainstream" Calvinists. (Although I increasingly wonder exactly who "left" the original stream, I do not believe Calvin went far enough to resolve some of his apparent inconsistencies on these issues, admittedly being far from an expert on Calvin.)

On abiding and union, I would take the biblical term "fellowship" in a very different way than I think you are using it. I think First John is pretty unequivocal that "communion/fellowship" and "abiding" are mutually dependent, and that we can indeed voluntarily depart from "communion" with him, both "vertically" and "horizontally" (and I am pretty confident these two in John are mutually contingent). From a theological standpoint, I would therefore not collapse the notions of "union" and "communion." I think they are very different, though we cannot have communion without first being in union.

Assurance and eternal security are therefore based on our union, which cannot be abrogated by our choices once we are "in" Him and he in us. However, our communion depends on our voluntary appropriation of his gift of the Spirit ("water") and of his gift of blood thorough ongoing (periodic) confession of sin cleansing to maintain our "Holiness to the Lord."

The interval "period" for confession and cleansing is not specified in the NT, but I believe the whole rite of communion is predicated on the sense in 1 John 1:5-2:2 of "however frequently it needs to be done"---whenever the "light" brings it to our attention by way of conscience. This kind of ties the last post in the series to the first two.

Anyway, that's where my thinking is at this point; I am seeing so much more profound grace in the gift of our Savior now than before I embarked on this series, thanks to KC's gracious invitation.

11/16/2009 10:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Bobby Grow said...

Jim,

Thank you for your continued prayers (and all of you, find out results on Wed. and I'm quite nervous but trusting the Lord)!

I was afraid that what I said might appear to collapse union with communion; and I don't want to do that. I believe, like you Jim, that communion (for us) can be broken; but union is never broken (once "in Him"). What I was thinking was that Jesus' union/communion are never broken from the Father by the Spirit; and thus objectively speaking neither is ours (as we stand "in Him"). So the security of our 'subjectively' oriented communion can be broken (given our fallen situation still); but that it is always secure through Christ's objective union and communion for us. So our union and communion with Christ are objectively grounded in Him; but I would want to say --- this side of glory --- our communion can be broken (because of sins) with Him, but never lost because it is objectively centred in Christ's communion for us. That's why if the Lord comes back while we're in sin [God forbid] we are still covered. So I would just say that I too see union/communion as mutually interelated; and that ther is an objective/subjective distinction to be made. That union with Christ cannot be broken, but neither can communion; because they are both grounded in Christ's perfect and continuous union/communion with the Father. The only break in communion that we experience is because of our ongoing sins; but within that category there is restoration because of the perfect union and thus communion that Jesus has within the God-head.

Don't know if that makes sense.

As far as Calvin and predestination and election; there is debate, of course on that. My view largely comes from TF Torrance and even a bit of Barth and some Scottish theologians. I think it really comes from the inner logic of scripture and Christ's life though ;-).

Thanks again for all your guys' prayers; still need them!!!

11/16/2009 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

That's good as far as it goes, Bobby. I do think we eventually need to address what Missy brought up---the relationship between abiding and communion and what that means in John 15. I also think that John 6 (eat my flesh, drink my blood) bears on this last post, though I really didn't have the space to address its connection to the final scene of John's passion.

11/16/2009 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I really appreciate the discussion and I hope it will continue.

Bobby I’d love to see how your theme on election is worked out in Romans 9! ;-) BTW our prayers continue, they’re specific and we’re not one bit afraid to ask our hearts desire!

11/17/2009 01:40:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Brethren please remember Bobby and family this morning as they go for the biopsy results.

Please also remember Jim. He's presenting a paper at ETS in New Orleans this morning and will be traveling back home later this week.

11/18/2009 05:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Kitty said...

Wow such much food for thought in this post.

Will pray for Bobby and Jim!!

11/19/2009 12:36:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Sis, thank so much for always being there for us in prayer!

I agree, there's a lot of "meat" to chew on in this whole series. ;-)

11/19/2009 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hey Guys and Gals!

Is it ever appropriate on these blogs to say:

HEY! IS ANYBODY OUT THERE?!!!!
I's gets lonely sometimes.


Your Brother

11/22/2009 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

Hey, Duane!

That's what I'm talkin' about!

I just got back from New Orleans where I presented a paper on "Disillusionment." Nobody seemed to have a problem with that topic amid all the theological esoterica!

I thought about you guys when I was sauntering up and down Bourbon St. :-)

Sorry we couldn't hook up, KC.

11/22/2009 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi Jim!
Welcome Home. I hope that was a big adventure. My big adventure of the day was annual congregational meeting. If they had had those in the middle ages, there would have been no reason to invent the rack.;)
Disillusionment eh? That would require me to be illusioned in the first place, eh?

Bobby has been busy on his blog. We're still praying that it's benign.

11/22/2009 09:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Kitty said...

Wow so much inspiration in this post. Lots to reflect on. And praise God for 3-D Gospel :) Hope that you are very well KC! x x x

11/23/2009 06:36:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Hey Duane! I would say not only appropriate but in this case apropos! ;-)

It really has been quiet everywhere hasn’t it?”

11/23/2009 11:23:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jim, welcome back brother!

I really had hoped we might get face-to-face and we were so close on Wednesday (about an hour away) except for the fact that I was out on a boat. :(

I’m really sorry to hear your topic wasn’t on the hot list but I suspect that it should be! You know your paper would always be welcome here. ;-)

11/23/2009 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kitty, thanks, we’re all well here and I pray you are both doing good. ;-)

I’m hoping that there will be some further discussion here once others have had a chance to “dissect” all of the articles.

11/23/2009 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger agent4him said...

KC,

Thanks for the offer, but the paper has been accepted by Trinity Journal, and I had to sign an agreement that it would not be published anywhere else until it was published in the Journal this coming Spring. I'll send you a copy, and if you still want to post it later, maybe we can get permission from the Journal.

11/23/2009 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I'd really appreciate a copy but I'm hoping that by spring we'll be able to publish it at your site (very big grin). :)

11/23/2009 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Duane WATTS said...

Hi KC and Jim and Friends!

May your Thanksgiving be Full of Gratitude and Love,

Your Brother,

Duane

11/26/2009 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger agent4him said...

I'm workin' on it, Bro.

Same back atcha. :-) And to all who have visited!

And may Bobby and his clan be swept up by your grace, O Lord!

11/26/2009 04:00:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thank you so much Bro. Duane! I pray for you all the same. ;-)

11/26/2009 04:47:00 PM  

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