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MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/election/elmss926.s.htm
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell
Part II: Examining Scripture On The Will-Related Doctrines
Chapter IX: Examining The Convicting Ministry Of The Holy Spirit In Scripture
- If we conclude efficacious grace and the divine effectual call do not exist, and that man authors his own faith, we counter the dogmatic Calvinist view that regeneration precedes faith in place of the Holy Spirit's convicting ministry. We also thereby oppose the Amyraldian belief that the Holy Spirit mediates salvation faith.
- However, Calvinists and C. Gordon Olson claim Scripture nowhere reveals all individuals enjoy the Holy Spirit's convicting ministry (Olson, "Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism: Toward An Amyraldian Soteriology," [Presented at the Evang. Theol. Society Annual Mtg., Toronto, 12/29/81]). We rather affirm that Scripture DOES teach this as follows:
- As we found in our chapter on the extent of the atonement, the world "world" (kosmos) in the N.T. in verses like John 1:4-5, 9 means individuals, so John's reference in these verses refers to Christ's shining into the spiritual darkness of every individual in the world. [We avoid alleging the phrase, "coming into the world" goes with "man" in John 1:9 to mean Christ illumines all individuals in history since elsewhere in John's Gospel where erchomai ("coming") is modified by eis ton kosmon "into the world," the Incarnation or Messiah's coming is in view, not a usual human birth (as in John 16:21 where John replaces erchomai with gennao (to be born) cf. Moulton & Geden, Conc. To the Grk. Test., p. 381-387; 384-385 (ERCHOMAI) and p. 556-557; 556 (KOSMOS)].
- This John 1:4-5, 9 ministry is predicted in Isaiah 8:20-9:6 where Messiah as Supernatural Counselor is said to come, revealing God's guiding truth to those in Galilee who lived in the spiritual darkness of looking to mediums instead of written Scripture for revelation and guidance, Isaiah 8:19-20; 9:1-2, 6.
- Calvinist theologian, Edward J. Young confirms this Isaiah 9:1-2 passage's fulfillment in Christ's earthly life, adding John 1:9 in a footnote supporting that confirmation, cf. E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah, 3 vols., 1972, reprint (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974), vol. I, p. 325.
- If we combine John 1:9 with what John 16:8-14 says of the convicting ministry of the Spirit, we have evidence of the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit re: all the world's individuals, cf. Rev. 22:17a.
- Also, Romans 1:18-20 reveals God uses general revelation to witness of His eternal power and Godhead in countering man's bent to rebel against Him, Romans 1:18-20 with 3:9-18. In view of Paul's word in Acts 17:26-27 that God is not far from every lost person, and has organized the ages and habitational boundaries to prompt even unregenerate men like those Greeks to whom Paul spoke to grope after Him, God then uses general revelation to convict men of His existence, power and Godhead.
- In summary, we have the following facts on the Holy Spirit's convicting ministry of individuals:
- When God in grace elicits conviction either through the means of the lesser level of natural revelation and/or through the greater level of the Gospel itself, God emphasizes these respective truths so fallen man may readily choose between the errant view that the world, the flesh or the devil usually send him regarding these truths, or to believe the divine revelation he receives from God.
- If one accepts God's revealed truth at the level of natural revelation, it is God's apparent intent to extend the truth of the Gospel to that one to believe in Christ in accord with what we read in Acts 17:26-27 and Revelation 22:17.
- When such a person hears the Gospel or hears it before responding to the witness of general revelation, the Holy Spirit under Christ's direction (John 16:13-14) and in accord with John 1:7 convicts him in relation to sin, righteousness and judgment as revealed in John 16:8-11.
- He is then totally free and responsible to believe or reject the Gospel solely on his own volition as Revelation 22:17 implies. If he believes in Christ, a human function devoid of merit or work, God alone graciously justifies and regenerates him, Romans 3:27; 4:5.
- Thus, God's character is upheld along with man's volitional liberty and accountability: (a) man is left totally depraved in his sinful nature but fully free to believe; (b) faith becomes logically essential, but (c) not at the cost of giving man room to boast, for all the glory of salvation goes to the God of grace Who alone justifies the sinner; (d) finally, no room exists for God to be accused of injustice for the eternal damnation of the lost: the lost will be eternally damned for having rejecting the convicting insight given to them by an infinitely sovereign, loving, gracious God.