"RS: We are not judging God. We are merely accepting God’s testimony that he is a fair and just God and does not lie, and we make our subsequent conclusions on that basis."
DF: God is fair and just, but He says nowhere in scripture that an unrighteous, depraved, fallen sinner, can be saved by general revelation or by looking looking at nature. If fact, he says they ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.
RS: Read Romans 2:6-8 or Romans 2:14 again. In the latter, St. Paul says that some men disobey and some men “do instinctively the things of the law.” It is these same men who obey that , in vr. 13, are said to be “justified by their works.” Don, your problem is that you’ve already decided that you must exclude these passages from your understanding of how God works in salvation. Instead of believing that God wants to save the Amazon and is waiting for him to “do instinctively the things of the law,” you claim that God put him in the Amazon precisely because he doesn’t want to save him. That is a perversion of both God and salvation.
RS: Read Romans 2:13-16:
DF: I read it, but using the analogy of scripture look at Gal 2:16--" knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified"
RS: This is another problem you have, Don. You make your favorite verses rule out the ones that don’t fit into your preconceived theology, instead of trying to see the truth of both verses. Galatians 2:16 is not talking about people who don’t hear the Gospel, but people who have, namely, the Jews. Romans 2:13-15 is talking about Gentile men who have not had the Gospel preached to them as the Jews have, but who still can be justified by doing what the law requires.
DF: How can a unregenerate be born again? John 3 says you MUST be born again.
RS: God’s grace does it, and he can apply it any way he wishes.
RS: As with most Protestants, you take this scripture out of context. It is Romans 10:17. The context, beginning in verse 16, concerns the Jews who actually heard the Gospel but refused to obey it. In other words, the Gospel came to them by the word of Christ, verbally and directly, but they refused to listen. The verse is NOT teaching that someone must hear the Gospel in order to be saved. In fact, Paul directly answers and defeats your argument about general revelation, since in verse 18 he says that the Gospel was not only preached to the Jews directly by the word of Christ, but also, in Paul’s quote from Psalm 19:4 (“into all the earth went their voice, and to the ends of the world their words”), it was preached to them by the very creation of God as seen in the cosmos, not merely the actual preached word. According to Paul, both are sufficient to bring the message of God. One does so directly, the other indirectly.
DF: It's referring to the Israel. Yes, they heard the gospel but they rejected it. As for Psalm 19:4 that is a stretch to say the creation is the same as preaching the gospel, the Atonement, being regenerate, Born Again, Justified, sanctified, glorified, adopted as Sons of God, etc.
RS: Don, your preconceived idea about the Gospel is now denying the very Scripture passage that says the creation is used of God to bring the message of God’s existence and the possibility for salvation. Go read Romans 10:18 again. It says that the Jews “heard” the “word of God” by the fact that God made the creation. It’s the same thing that Paul says in Romans 1:18-20 and Romans 2:6-8 and 13-15.
DF: So if a man that doesn't know Christ, the gospel, hasn't been regenerated, is lost, living in the flesh can be saved, then there are two ways of salvation. The Cross and nature. If that's the case, Christ did not have to die, all one has to do is look at nature, hug a tree and worship whatever he thinks is the thing to worship. They do not have saving faith, and worship or works without faith is sin.
RS: Don, you haven’t been listening to me. I’ve never said there were two ways of salvation. I’ve made it very clear to you that anyone who is saved is saved by Christ’s atonement and nothing else. Let me say it again. The Gospel comes directly and indirectly, that is, by direct preaching and also indirectly by the creation; man’s conscience; and the law written on his heart by God. In whatever way the message comes to man, and whatever way he comes to repentance, it is Christ alone who saves him.
RS: They are in hell because THEY refused God, not because God arbitrarily decided not to give them the same opportunity to be saved. Scripture NEVER teaches that people are in hell because God didn’t give them the same opportunity to be saved. If you know of one, be sure to let me know.
DF: No, and God desiring all to be saved, is not talking about all without exception, and you know it. If God DESIRED all without exception to be saved, all would be and hell would be empty.
RS: There you go again, Don. Since 1 Timothy 2:4 (“God desire all men to be saved”) doesn’t fit into your preconceived theology, you claim that it doesn’t mean what it says it means, just like all Calvinists. Unfortunately for you, there is no passage that says God desired to save only some but the rest he didn’t desire to save. Or can you find me such a passage, Don? The missing piece in your theology is free will. With man’s free will to reject God, God can desire him to be saved but will not intrude upon his free will to reject God if the man so chooses. You need to get rid of your Calvinism, Don. It’s making you distort and ignore Scriptures you don’t like.
RS; But that is not what free will is.....
DF: Come on Robert, WHAT free will? We are all born under a death sentence. What's free about that? The only "free will" we have is to be able to act according to our essence and nature, which is a child of wrath and at enmity with God, until the Holy Spirit enables us to believe.
RS: Right, the Holy Spirit enables us to believe. We couldn’t do it without his prompting grace. But the decision to act on the Holy Spirit’s grace is from the gift of free will that the same Holy Spirit gave us. That’s what Scripture says, Don. It is constantly asking man to exercise his free will and accept God.
RS: Whatever. The point remains: all men are under the curse of sin and death from Adam and need salvation from Christ in order to be saved. You were implying that I don’t believe that.
DF: I'm not implying that, that's what you said. How in the world can someone who never heard the gospel, is at enmity with God, doesn't know Christ, be regenerated by hugging a tree? All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. All die, therefore all have sinned. Without the Holy Spirit regenerating a person, they are lost, and you can't tell me our native can be regenerated. If so, show me scripture.
RS: I’ve already shown them to you but you don’t want to listen to them (Romans 1:18-20; 2:6-8; 2:13-15; 10:18). Like all Calvinists, you relegate these passages to the hypothetical and, in reality, you make St. Paul a liar.
DF: General revelation cannot save, but only further condemn. God hates sin, and the lost, unregenerate is sin. Looking at the trees won't do it.
RS: That’s right. Hugging trees never saved anyone. Only Christ saves. The tree merely shows the man that Christ made the tree and thus Christ requires his honor and obedience. Otherwise, how could he “be without excuse,” as you claimed earlier, Don? Obviously, even in your own truncated theology the man recognizes God’s existence by the fact that he can hug a tree that God made, since you say that that same man now has no excuse for knowing that God’s exists. You’re only problem is that you won’t let that same men repent and do the things God requires, but Paul says otherwise.
RS: Right, regeneration is from the Spirit of God who does the regeneration after man accepts God by faith when he sees his handiwork in the cosmos. That’s Paul’s argument in Romans 10:18.
DF: And HOW can a man, before being regenerated, while in the flesh, while still a child of wrath, at enmity with God, "accept" God? You are attributing to fleshly man, something that is impossible for him to perform. God regenerates, THEN the person is able to have faith. Like John 3:27 says, or 1 cor 4:7 states, all gifts our from above. And of course, Heb 12:2 says that God is the AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH. We must be enabled to believe or we are lost.
RS: And I’ve said the same thing about a half dozen times to you already – we must be enabled to believe. Go back and read my posts about God’s prompting grace.
DF: It's not whether the fallen man accepts God, but the point is does God accept the sinner?
RS: According to Paul in Romans 2:13-14, there are some whom God does accept.
DF: Robert, this could go on and on and we are not going to agree. That's fine. I will finish your study of Romans and will enjoy it. I'll try not to start anymore arguments.
RS: I hope you enjoy the rest of the study. Just remember one thing, Don: ALL Scripture is given for teaching, correction, training and service. When you find that your interpretation of one Scripture conflicts with your interpretation of another, then you are on the wrong track. Making Romans 2 hypothetical and, in turn, making Romans 3 the only reality, is not good exegesis. It will lead to a distorted view of both God and Scripture, as well as QCM.
Robert, I will indeed enjoy the rest of the bible study. I agree that scripture cannot contradict scripture and we have to be careful to keep things in context.
I've read some commentaries that make Romans 2 hypothetical, and that's because they don't want to face head on Romans 2:6-10.
I pray that you and your family are doing well.
R. Sungenis: Don, glad you think that way about Romans 2. That's a start in the right direction.
God be with you.