Elezione collettiva oppure individuale

From Diwygiad

L'elezione è collettiva oppure individuale?

Nel tentativo di salvaguardare - così come essi la intendono - la giustizia e la coerenza di Dio, sia nella Sua gratuita offerta di salvezza tramite Cristo nel "chiunque crede in lui" e la seria minaccia di castigo eterno per coloro che la respingono e sono increduli, vi sono studiosi che mettono in questione la dottrina dell'elezione individuale e dell'elezione incondizionata. Se Dio ha scelto incondizionatamente solo alcuni individui ai fini della salvezza - essi sostengono - essa renderebbe "Perché Dio ha tanto amato il mondo, che ha dato il suo unigenito Figlio, affinché chiunque crede in lui non perisca, ma abbia vita eterna" solo una parodia di vangelo. Al fine di rendere sensata la loro obiezione, essi presentano un ulteriore aspetto dell'elezione, vale a dire che essa sarebbe non individuale, ma collettiva, e negano che Dio avesse avuto davanti a sé, in un decreto fisso e predeterminato sin da prima della fondazione del mondo, alcun individuo particolare.

Another area where new ideas are surfacing is the relationship of corporate and individual election. Corporate election refers to God's choosing the church in history as His Own special people. Individual election refers to God's unconditionally choosing in eternity past specific individuals to receive saving grace. There is considerable overlap here because God has entrusted to the church the means of grace which God normally uses in bringing the elect to salvation. Yet there are many in the historical church who are not God's elect. It is also possible in special circumstances for some of God's elect to be saved without ever being a part of the visible church.

As we explore the relationship between corporate and individual election, we don't find answers to every question. Individual election, rooted in God's secret decretive will, relates to the church in its invisible aspect, the church as only God can see it. Corporate election relates to the church in the historical process, which is regulated by God's revealed prescriptive will. God's revealed will defines human responsibility within history, and God's decretive will establishes God's sovereign control over history. With both the secret and the revealed aspects of God's will involved in this relationship between corporate and individual election, there will be a degree of mystery. I agree with Spurgeon's classic statement on divine sovereignty and human responsibility:

I do not believe they can ever be welded into one upon any earthly anvil, but they certainly shall be one in eternity. They are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the human mind which pursues them farthest will never discover that they converge, but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring. Rather than insist that every question be answered and every loose end tied, we should heed the counsel of John Calvin regarding "learned ignorance": ... I reverently adore with fear and trembling what is too sublime for the angels themselves. Often therefore in my writings I admonish my readers, that on this subject nothing is better than a learned ignorance; for those rave like madmen who arrogate to know more about it than is fit (The Secret Providence, page 46). In regard to corporate and individual election, there is a natural tendency to try to remove the mystery in their relationship. The two opposite extremes in this are the Baptist and Roman Catholic positions. According to the Baptist view, only those who are members of the church from its invisible perspective can be valid members of the visible church. According to the Roman Catholic view, everyone who is a member of the visible church is a member of the church from its invisible perspective. Both of these views identify the membership of the church from both the visible and the invisible perspective as the same set of people and thus remove much of the mystery.

Among those who acknowledge that the membership of the church from these two perspectives is not identical, some limit the mystery in lesser degrees. Some overemphasize the invisible and individual aspects of salvation at the expense of the visible and corporate. For example, some limit the benefits the non-elect receive in corporate election to mere outward privileges and downplay the importance of the means of grace in the visible church. Others overemphasize the visible and corporate aspects of salvation at the expense of the invisible and individual. For example, some argue that all the members of the visible church are saved, but only the elect will persevere in that salvation. Both of these approaches, the overly individualistic and the overly corporate, are rationalistic distortions of the Biblical message. I believe the relationship between corporate and individual election is in accordance with these principles:

The church in history should be administered in accordance with principles revealed in Scripture. We can't administer the church in terms of the decree of election because it is secret. The non-elect in the church often receive more than mere outward privileges. They may also experience what the Westminster Confession of Faith calls "common operations of the Spirit" (WCF 10.4). The visible church can have a sanctifying influence on the non-elect among its membership analogous to the sanctifying influence of a godly wife on an unbelieving husband (1 Corinthians 7:14; 2 Peter 2:20). Christ accomplished redemption in history in terms of the decree of election, and the Holy Spirit applies that redemption in history also in terms of the decree of election. When the Holy Spirit works grace in the lives of the non-elect, that grace is always the resistible grace of His common operations. The Holy Spirit works special and irresistible grace only in the lives of the elect. Resistible grace, which is rooted in God's desire that His revealed will be obeyed, is always genuine and sincere. Those who resist this grace and never believe are themselves responsible for their loss and not God. Though the non-elect can be valid members of the visible church in history, they are never in that vital covenant union with Christ that is the basis for full salvation. We have to relate to the visible church in history in terms of outward appearances. We regard everyone in the church in terms of their profession and baptism except when someone's conduct compels us to do otherwise. We know there are people in the church whom we today regard as saved whom we will one day learn were never saved. All the members of the covenant community have both the promises and the obligations of the covenant. The obligations of the covenant are faith, repentance and new obedience. In order to receive that which is promised in the covenant, the members of the covenant who have reached the age of discretion1 must meet the obligations of the covenant. Only the elect, who receive the enabling grace of God, meet the obligations of the covenant. Parable of the Soils

What I want to do next is to examine Scriptures which relate to the relationship of corporate and individual election. I will begin with the parable of the soils. In this parable, the seed, representing the gospel message, falls upon four types of soil: hardened, thorny, stony and good. The soil represents the hearts of those who hear the gospel message. In analyzing the parable, we need to remember that although we can see soil, we cannot see the hearts of those with whom we share the gospel. The hardened soil is the only one of the four where there is no appearance of life from the sown seed. The seed never penetrates the ground and is soon eaten by birds. This represents those who pay no heed to the gospel message and soon forget about it.

With the other three types of soil, the seed sprout and produce plants. These plants on three types of soil represent three types of professing converts. At the beginning, all three types have life and none are bearing any fruit. There is nothing to significantly distinguish them except the soil they are in, and that represents the human heart which we cannot see. This newly sprouted life represents a profession of faith and membership in the visible church and thus participation in corporate election.

Over time, very significant and discernible differences in the plants develop due to the different character of the three soils. Only the plants in good soil bear fruit. The good soil represents hearts prepared by the irresistible regenerating work of the Holy Spirit to respond to the gospel with saving faith. The fruit as the outward manifestation of inner regeneration, sets the good soil plants apart from all others. Some good soil plants bear more fruit than others, but they all and they alone bear fruit.

Notice that the plants on the stony and thorny soils are never said to bear fruit. Bearing fruit is the sole distinctive of the good soil plant (Matthew 13:23). The thorny ground plant "becomes unfruitful" (Matt. 13:22 NJK) or "proves unfruitful" (Matt. 13:22 ESV).2 The parable describes the planting of a seed among already mature thorns which choke the newly sprouting plant and thus stunt its development and prevent it from bearing fruit. The parable does not say that newly sprouting thorns encroach on a mature plant which was already bearing fruit and thus weaken it to the point that it ceases to bear fruit. The parallel passage in Luke 8:14 says that the thorny ground plants produce no ripe fruit. Even if this language is taken to imply the production of unripe fruit, that leaves the question of what is symbolized by unripe fruit. Unripe fruit is not good fruit, and this passage is no proof text that the non-elect in the church temporarily bear good fruit in the same category as the fruit borne by the elect in the church. The stony and thorny soil plants are like the fig tree which Jesus cursed because it had no fruit (Mark 11:13). They are like the vineyard in Isaiah's parable which brought forth no good grapes (Isaiah 5:1-6).

Also, notice that the stony and thorny soils are not good soil that stopped being good soil and became rocky or thorny soil; these soils were never that good soil which represents a regenerate heart. This parable points to the balanced view that the non-elect can be part of the church from its visible aspect but not from its invisible aspect. The plants in three types of soil represent elect and non-elect together in the visible church. In the early stage of development, one cannot easily distinguish the life which results from the common operations of the Spirit, from the life which results from the irresistible regenerating work of the Spirit. This stage of development represents the church in history when the church as we see it (its visible aspect) differs from the church as God sees it (its invisible aspect). At this stage, corporate election includes some not included in individual election.

After a period of time, the presence of good fruit sets apart and identifies the plants which have the good soil of regenerate hearts. Only the plants in good soil are able to produce that good fruit which gives outward evidence of the inward reality of true salvation.

Romans 11

Another good passage of Scripture is Romans 11 where Paul uses the olive tree as a metaphor for spiritual Israel (vv. 16-24). This passage clearly illustrates the principles found in God's revealed will for the administration of the covenant in history. Natural branches represent covenant children who receive household baptism. Grafted on wild branches represent adults who become part of the church through proselyte baptism. Broken off branches represent those who fall away and leave the church. Both natural branches and grafted on branches can be broken off. Also, broken off branches can be grafted back in; the falling away can be temporary backsliding or it can be permanent apostasy.

Here we have an even clearer picture that the non-elect can be for a time a part of the covenant community in history. We see here illustrated the principle that not all Israel (corporate election) are of Israel (individual election), that not everyone who is a Jew outwardly (corporate election) is a Jew inwardly (individual election). Branches are grafted in because of professed faith and broken off because of manifested unbelief. This illustrates the covenant as historically administered and not the covenant in terms of the decree of election. Faith in this context is that credible profession of faith through which a pagan becomes a member of the visible church. A branch can appear sound until some event occurs which demonstrates its true nature. The coming of the Messiah into the world was such an event for the Jews. The Jews of that time had to respond to that event, and those who did not respond in faith manifested that they were not truly "of Israel" (Romans 9:6) and so were removed from the visible church. Paul specifically warns the Christians at Rome that this will happen to them as well if they ever manifest similar unbelief.

All the branches partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree. For the non-elect, this refers to the common operations of the Spirit which enable them to "escape the pollutions of the world" (2 Peter 2:18) for a time. For the elect, this sap is the irresistible work of the Spirit which produces true saving faith, which perseveres. Regarding the sap which flows to the elect, we can be "confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work ... will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). The sap cannot be an undifferentiated flow to elect and non-elect alike or else all would persevere and all would be fruitful.

John 15

This organic metaphor is developed even further in John chapter 15 where instead of an olive tree, we have a grape vine. The olive tree and the grape vine were the only two ancient symbols for Israel in the vegetable realm. Here the grape vine is identified with Jesus, who is the true Seed of Abraham and the true Israel of God. The people of God are here branches on the Vine. Verse 2 says, "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away." Normally "in Christ" refers to that vital covenant union with Christ which is the essence of salvation. Here "in Him" is used to refer to all of those who are a part of the covenant community within history. Jesus as the Vine is the true Israel, and not all branches on the Vine of Israel are of Israel in the sense of individual election. In John 15, that vital covenant union which is the essence of salvation is referred to as abiding in Christ. Those who abide in Christ are those who are truly born again (cf. 1 John 3:6 & 3:9; 2:3 & 3:24). Every branch is responsible for abiding in the Vine, which is both necessary and sufficient for bearing fruit. In other words, no branch can bear fruit without abiding in the Vine, and every branch that abides in the Vine will bear fruit. The branches which are cut off are not described as those who stopped abiding in Christ and thus stopped bearing fruit. All that is said is that they do not bear fruit. Nothing is said to indicate they ever did. This is consistent with the parable of the soils where only the good soil plants bore any fruit. "By their fruit you will know them."

In one sense, as described above, the non-elect are in Christ while they are members of the covenant community in history3. In another deeper, more significant sense, they are never really a part of God's people. This is made clear in 1 John 2:19:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. Notice what Jesus will say on judgment day to the non-regenerate who cry out "Lord, Lord," and point out that they had exercised some spiritual gift at some point in the past, which is evidence that they had been a part of the covenant community in history at some time and in some sense: Matthew 7:23 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' Jesus' response to these people is not, "I no longer know you!" but "I never knew you!" In some more profound and substantial sense, they were never a part of the covenant people. Matthew 18:23-35

An article on the internet uses the parable of the unforgiving servant to argue that God forgives the non-elect as long as they stay in the visible church. In the parable, a master forgives a servant a great debt. The servant then refuses to forgive a fellow servant a small debt, and the master learns of this. At that point, the master throws the unforgiving servant into prison. The argument is that just as the master forgave the servant his debt for a time, so God forgives the non-elect in the church as long as they are members in good standing.

I believe the key to addressing this argument is to ask specifically what is meant by forgiveness in the context of the parable. According to the principles of covenant administration, the servant received both the promise and the obligations of the covenant. The promise of forgiveness was never unconditional in the sense that he was forgiven irrespective of his future behavior. The forgiveness the master gave him was from the beginning forgiveness consistent with the Lord's Prayer petition, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." The master in the parable represents God, but only God as He operates within history. The master of the parable could not represent God in His eternity. From His eternal perspective, God knows the end from the beginning and knows the nature of the root before any fruit, either good or bad, is born. From this perspective, God knows from the beginning which of His servants in history have their sins cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19) and removed from them as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

Calvin in his commentary on Matthew 18:31-33 says,

As to the clause which immediately follows, it is foolish to inquire how God punishes those sins which he has already forgiven; for the simple meaning is this: though he offers mercy to all, yet severe creditors, from whom no forgiveness can be obtained, are unworthy of enjoying it. Calvin there calls the forgiveness in the parable an offer of mercy. It is instructive that in this parable, the master in the end holds the unforgiving servant responsible for paying his original debt and more. The master's original response to his servant's great debt was to plan on selling the servant, his family and his possessions and applying the money received to the debt. Considering the size of the servant's debt to his master, that punishment seems mild. The master upon discovering the servant's unforgiving spirit withdraws the previously offered forgiveness. The master doesn't reason that he had already forgiven this servant his original debt and so now he can punish him only for throwing the second servant into prison. No, the master throws the unforgiving servant to the tormentors until he repays fully his original debt. This man's last state is much worse than his original when the master was planning on selling him. So this man's debt was never forgiven in any totally unconditional sense. What the master had done was to promise his servant forgiveness if indeed the servant met the obligations of the covenant. As we apply this to our experience of salvation, we need to remember that all those whom God truly forgives, He will also enable to be forgiving. Thus forgiving is not a price we pay to be forgiven but an evidence that we are forgiven. If we are not forgiving, that is evidence that we were never really forgiven.

The "If Indeed" Qualification

From the perspective of God's secret decree and individual election, God gives salvation unconditionally. From the perspective of God's revealed will and corporate election, God promises salvation to those who meet the obligations of the covenant. Salvation is still all of grace because God gives the elect the ability to meet the obligations of the covenant, which are saving faith and its necessary fruits. In several places, the New Testament specifies that the promises God gives to His people corporately will be fulfilled individually if indeed God enables them to meet the obligations of the covenant:

Romans 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. Romans 8:16-17 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you -- unless you believed in vain. 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified. Galatians 3:4 Have you suffered so many things in vain-- if indeed it was in vain? Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 4:11 I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. Galatians 4:20 I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone; for I have doubts about you. Ephesians 4:20-21 But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: Philippians 2:16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Colossians 1:21-23 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight -- if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister. 1Thessalonians 3:5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain. Hebrews 3:6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 1 Peter 2:2-3 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. We need to remember these qualifications in our understanding of the relationship between corporate and individual election. For example, take Paul's letter to the Ephesians. In the first fourteen verses, Paul talks about the many spiritual blessings that belong to him and to those to whom he is writing. He mentions election, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, and the sealing of the Spirit. Does this mean that all of these spiritual benefits belonged to everyone whose name was on the church roll at Ephesus? I think the "if indeed" qualifications help us to answer that question correctly. On one level, Paul regarded everyone who was corporately elect as individually elect. He treated them as if they were inwardly what they professed to be outwardly. He considered their baptism with water as the sacramental counterpart of a baptism with the Spirit. Yet on another level, Paul recognized that there were some who were not what they professed to be. If we read far enough in Ephesians, we will find one of Paul's qualifying statements in that letter:

4:20 But you have not so learned Christ, 4:21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: Or take Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth. The letter is written to the church. Paul refers to the ones to whom he is writing as the body of Christ (12:27), and he says that he and they were baptized into that body by the Holy Spirit (12:13). These statements are generally true because there is a large correspondence between corporate election and individual election. Yet there are exceptions to the rule and there are these "indeed if" qualifying statements. In chapter 5, Paul exhorts the Corinthians to purge from their midst certain public sinners who were called brothers. In chapter 6, Paul reminds them that the unrighteous cannot inherit the kingdom of God. In chapter 10, Paul warned them against idolatry and sexual immorality by reminding them that many of those corporately redeemed from Egypt in the Exodus perished individually in the wilderness for their sins. In chapter 15, he has one of those qualifying statements (v. 2). These qualifying statements in the New Testament epistles to churches indicate that the statements about salvation in these letters are provisional statements made on the charitable assumption that the profession of the people addressed through their testimony and baptism is indeed consistent with their true spiritual condition. Also, if every statement about salvation in the New Testament epistles to churches is referring to the corporate aspect of salvation, then where do these letters teach anything about the individual aspects of salvation? Also, these New Testament epistles at times tie these statements about salvation to final perseverance and glorification, as in the golden chain in Romans chapter eight. Statements about salvation which are tied to statements about final perseverence can refer only to a divinely decreed individual salvation and not to some corporate salvation experienced temporarily by everyone in the visible church at some point in history.

The Apostasy Passages

There are apostasy passages which make clear that those who abandon the faith have forfeited much. They are in a sense severed from Christ (Galatians 5:4; John 15:2). Yet there is another sense in which they never were a part of God's people. In terms of the church as God sees it, such people were never a part of God's people, and their leaving merely made this clear from the human perspective. This is the message of 1 John 2:19:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. Those who apostatize could not have had that union with Christ that truly saves because that union cannot be lost (John 10:28). What they did experience were blessings such as the resistible common operations of the Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the outward cleansing of baptism with water, and the sanctifying peer pressure of the people of God. Peter talks about some who apostatized in 2 Peter 2:20-22:

20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." These apostates did forfeit much. Through their association with Jesus and His church, they had for a time escaped from the pollutions of this world. For a time, they had not walked in open sin as the rest of the Gentiles walked. Yet one cannot keep that up when his heart has not been changed, for out of the heart proceed all manner of things that defile a man. Peter uses two graphic proverbs that indicate that their temporary reformation was outward only. These apostates had been washed through their baptism with water, but they were still pigs at heart. They manifested this when they returned to wallowing in the mire of their old sinful ways. They had been fed holy food, but they were still dogs at heart, and so their appetites had not changed. They manifested this when they returned to their former repulsive diets. King Saul

Some have argued from the experience of King Saul that the non-elect in the church begin with the same initial covenant grace as that experienced by the elect. The argument is based on 1 Samuel 10:1-11:

1 Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: "Is it not because the LORD has anointed you commander over His inheritance? 2 "When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachel's tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, 'The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, "What shall I do about my son?"' 3 "Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. 4 "And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands. 5 "After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying. 6 "Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 "And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you. 8 "You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do." 9 So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, "What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?" The argument points out that Saul's experience with the Holy Spirit was similar to that of David, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson. In contrast to Saul, these all persevered and proved to be elect saints. The argument is that Saul and these others all started with the same grace, and that Saul differed only in that he did not persevere in this common state of grace. It is true that the Spirit of Jehovah/Elohim rushed upon (Hebrew verb tsalach with preposition al or el) Saul (1 Samuel 10:6,10), David (1 Samuel 16:13) and Samson (Judges 14:6,19;15:14). Interestingly similar language is also used for the coming of an evil spirit from God upon Saul in 1 Samuel 18:10: an evil spirit of God rushed upon Saul. Significantly different language is used for Gideon's experience: the Spirit of Jehovah clothed Gideon (Judges 6:34). The languge used to describe Jephthah's experience is that the Spirit of Jehovah was upon him (Judges 11:29). Language very similar to that used of Jephthah is used of the pagan prophet Balaam in Numbers 24:2: the Spirit of Elohim was upon Balaam.

There is nothing here to indicate that this language is salvific. The above theory assumes that the Spirit's rushing upon David when he was anointed as king in 1 Samuel 16:13 was his first experience of covenantal grace. The Scripture implies that David was a man after God's own heart before that anointing:

Acts 13:22 22 And when He had removed (Saul), He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.' 1 Samuel 13:14 14 "But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you." 1 Samuel 16:1,7 1 Now the LORD said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons." 7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused [David's brother Eliab]. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 10:6 and 9 do speak about Saul's being changed into another man and another heart. The Hebrew phrase translated "another heart" is never used elsewhere. The Hebrew phrase translated "another man" is elsewhere always used of a second man as opposed to a qualitative difference in the same man. There is no other usage of this specific language where it refers to regeneration. This language could refer to the change in Saul that resulted from his possessing spiritual gifts. All of these verses are talking about the Holy Spirit gifting people with the supernatural power needed for some act. The Bible elsewhere teaches that one can have these gifts without having salvation:

Numbers 24:2 2 And Balaam raised his eyes, and saw Israel encamped according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him. Matthew 7:22-23 22 "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' 1 Corinthians 13:2 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. There is nothing here to indicate that there is no distinction between Saul's initial experience of covenant grace and the initial experience of these others who persevered.


1 Regarding the age of discretion, see "A Letter on Paedocommunion" at http://grovergunn.net/andrew/paedoltr.htm. 2 The Greek word here translated "became" or "proved" is ginomai. In the 1958 second edition BDAG Greek Lexicon, its usages in Matthew 13:22 and Mark 4:19 are categorized as a substitute for the Greek "to be" verb eimi (II.1.). In the 2000 third edition, these usages are categorized under the definition, "to come into a certain state or possess certain characteristics, to be, prove to be, turn out to be" (7.). The Greek word here translated "unfruitful" means barren, such as the elm tree is a barren tree (Hermas Similitude 2:3) and the desert is a barren place (Jer. 2:6 LXX). 3 "They are said to be in Christ because they are in the society of the church and by baptism are initiated into Christ and in both their own opinions and the opinions of others seem to be planted in Christ, but who adhere to him rather by contiguity of external communion, than inhere by continuity of internal communion, and by the vivifying influx of the Spirit." Turretin, 2.607.

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