Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quotes from J. Vernon McGee

J. Vernon McGee is a 4-Point Calvinist. He is a beloved preacher. He passed away in 1988. His sermons continue to be broadcasted on the radio. On my site, I have some youtube clips from him, and it gives some perspective to his views. He definitely believes in the Calvinist doctrine of Unconditional Election, though sometimes he discusses Election in terms that Jacob Arminius also spoke of, as it relates to Election being in Christ, and hinging upon the doctrine of Identification. Nevertheless, here is a selection of some of the quotes that I found from him, that I would like to incorporate in the main website. Here they are:

“The Lord Jesus died to save you. He lives to keep you saved. He is going to come someday to take you to be with Himself and to consummate that salvation.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon, p.19)

I would like to use this quote at 1st John 2:2 since it speaks of Jesus as our Advocate and Defender, who "lives to keep you saved." I do believe that Jesus died for the Church (positive affirmation). I also believe that He died for the world (positive affirmation), with the view that having died for the world, whosoever within the world, whom He died for, believes in Him, may become incorporated in the Church that He loves. The point is that I do not see how an argument can be raised that uses God's love for the Church as a basis to negate His love for the world.


“Under the Law the best man in the world is absolutely condemned, but under the gospel the worst man can be justified if he will believe in Christ.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon, p.27)

McGee is a Calvinist, so sometimes he will clarify his statements as "anyone can be saved if they want to," with the caveat that only those who are effectually called will "want to." Watch for this. Nevertheless, I see 1st Tim 1:15 as a great cross reference to John 3:16.

“The Lord Jesus gives you eternal life when you trust Him as Savior because He paid the penalty for your sin.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon, p.93)

I couldn't help but notice the mention of "when" as it provides a timeline for when a person receives eternal life. Must one have eternal life in order to believe, or does one receive eternal life only after he believes? So I may use this quote at the write-up for Ephesians 1:13.

“We are to pray for whoever is in power. Remember that the man who was in power in Rome when Paul wrote was bloody Nero, yet he says we are to pray for kings, whoever they are.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon, p.36)

This was McGee's commentary on 1st Timothy 2:1-4, and I see that he uses the phrase “all men” within an indiscriminate context of "whoever" is in power, indiscriminately. My view is that God desires that you pray for everyone, indiscriminately, because God desires that everyone, indiscriminately, be saved. That's how I view the passage, so I would naturally like to incorporate his quote in that write-up.

Now he gives a commentary on 1st Timothy 4:10, which I really like: “Whoever you are, He’s your Savior and He’s the only Savior. ‘Specially of those that believe.’ He is the Savior of all men, but you can turn Him down if you want to. Let me illustrate this for you. They say that a plane leaves the Los Angeles International Airport every minute, and I could get on any one of them (if I had the courage!). All I need to do is get a ticket and get on the plane. It’s a plane for everybody, you see, but not everybody will take it. Christ is the Savior of all men, but only those who believe will be saved (see John 3:16; 1 John 2:2).” (Thru the Bible commentary series: First and Second Timothy, Titus and Philemon, p.66)

I've heard people view this passage within the context of a "town doctor" illustration, such that the town has only one doctor, and the doctor is available to everyone in the town, but only those who actually visit the doctor will receive his treatment. In the same way, then, Jesus is the only Savior that this world has, and only those who spiritually visit Him will receive His treatment (i.e. eternal life).

“…it was about fifteen hundred years before He stated as He does here that He loved Jacob.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: Proverbs through Malachi, p.993)

I'm throwing this in here. It was brought up in some previous discussions, and I came across this quote as a I checked out another commentary of his (OT commentary). The verse, "Jacob have I loved and Esau I have hated" was uttered in Malachi, not Genesis. I will be quoting McGee here because I think that it's an important reminder since sometimes people think that God said that He hated Esau before he was born.

“But let’s understand one thing: God never said this until Jacob and Esau had become two great nations which had long histories.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: Proverbs through Malachi, p.993)

Exactly.

“We need to understand that the difference here between loving and hating is simply that the life of the nation that came from Esau, which is Edom, and the life of the nation which came from Jacob, which is Israel, demonstrate that God was right when He said that He loved one and hated the other.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: Proverbs through Malachi, p.993)

That's the point that I was trying to make, and Paul added to his quoted reference with "just as the older will serve the younger" which can only apply to the nations and not the individuals since Jacob specifically declared himself to be the servant of Esau, when he bowed low before Esau when they met.

“The histories of the nation of Israel and the nation of Edom are altogether different. God says that because of Esau’s life, because of the evil which was inherent in this man and which worked itself out into the nation of Edom, He is justified in making this statement.” (Thru the Bible commentary series: Proverbs through Malachi, p.993)

I'm still trying to process this statement. Nevertheless, I believe that Paul's usage of the passage is to demonstrate the sovereignty of God at Romans 9, in terms of why God may save whom He will, namely, the despised Gentiles. I feel that one point that is lost on the discussion of Romans is that it's focused on the issue of Jews & Gentiles, being a running discussion from Romans 9 to Romans chapter 11. I believe that Paul has the Jew in mind, and he anticipates the Jews attributing injustice to God, and then turns to the Jew to say, in so many words, 'who are you o man?, does not the Potter have right over the clay.' I believe that the message is that God will save whom He will (i.e. the Gentiles), and in the way that He will (faith vs. works). Often, you will hear Arminian preachers stating that we are saved by the grace of God, and not dependent upon man, being "all God," and the Arminian means it from the standpoint that receiving God's grace is not a matter of willing & running, that is, will-power and man-power, but simply about surrendering and receiving the free gift of eternal life. Calvinists will often insist that this amounts to a works-based salvation, but perhaps that is simply a matter of perspective. Sorry for the run-on quotes and thoughts. I'm simply thinking out loud. McGee is one of my favorite preachers. I absolutely recommend his commentaries. They are a real joy to read, especially when he quotes well known preachers and adds his own experiences. The only downside is when he sometimes gets into hand-wringing.

I will be more active in posting again in the next few weeks, Lord willing, unless we get a hurricane.

5 comments:

chalee said...

richard said:"Let me illustrate this for you...Christ is the Savior of all men, but only those who believe will be saved."

special eyewitness news reporter jake arminius is on the scene with lifeguard sue:

jake: it's a terrible scene here on the beach...a passenger liner with 2300 passengers on board sank just off the coast. fortunately, sue was there to save everyone on board! thanks to her heroic efforts, she was the savior of 2300 people today!

sue: i swam out as soon as i could, but i was only able to rescue 4 people...the other 2000 or so people drowned before help could get to them.

jake: exactly! as i was saying, sue is the savior of all 2300 passengers, but especially those 4 who actually were...um...saved...

i'm pretty sure arminians are the only people in the entire WORLD who use the word "savior" in this bizarre way...and then only when they happen to be arguing against calvinist theology.

a "savior" who fails to save. a "savior" who can only offer "potential" salvation.

the God of scripture is "mighty to save." the arminian distortion, not so much.

richard said:"I will be quoting McGee here because I think that it's an important reminder since sometimes people think that God said that He hated Esau before he was born."

then i will continue to quote the apostle paul:

rom9:10Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.

according to paul, God both loved someone and hated someone "before they were born and had done anything good or bad." sure looks like paul is referring to individuals when he says "twins."

richard said: "Nevertheless, I believe that Paul's usage of the passage is to demonstrate the sovereignty of God at Romans 9, in terms of why God may save whom He will, namely, the despised Gentiles."

yep, but you're still failing to deal with why paul speaks of God affirming His purpose in choosing/electing...in a salvational context...and doing so prior to "jacob" and "esau" being born or making choices. (as a natural result of that, you neglect to mention that God also may harden whom He will...and choose not to extend mercy.)

richard said: "That's the point that I was trying to make, and Paul added to his quoted reference with "just as the older will serve the younger" which can only apply to the nations and not the individuals since Jacob specifically declared himself to be the servant of Esau, when he bowed low before Esau when they met."

by your same reasoning, since jacob "specifically declared himself to be" Esau in gen 27:24, jacob really must have been esau.

this sort of arminian logic can truly boggle the mind.

was isaac not speaking of jacob to esau when he said "I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants"? what makes fearful jacob a more compelling witness to you than his disappointed father in this case?

it's better to attempt to make sense of these issues using the whole counsel of scripture.

calvinists understand rom9-11 to be defending God's fulfillment of His salvational promises to His chosen nation of israel. His promises were fulfilled in choosing isaac... and jacob...and paul, even as He rejected ishmael and esau. as mcgee got right, God's salvational promises to israel did not fail...because "not all who are descended from israel are israel." God's promises to israel have always been validated by reserving a remnant to Himself..."a remnant chosen by grace."

which is why calvinists like spurgeon have said it doesn't matter whether paul is speaking of individuals or nations (and i wouldn't say it's impossible that paul is referring to nations). if God is making the foundational choice to love or hate "before they were born or had done anything"...if God is the One reserving some to Himself and choosing them "by grace", then that is the issue being ignored by those who claim that the foundational choice in salvation is ours and not God's.

rom11:1I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me"? 4And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal." 5So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

richard said: "Calvinists will often insist that this amounts to a works-based salvation, but perhaps that is simply a matter of perspective."

this is the most reasonable sentence in this entry.

yes, if Jesus commands everyone to "repent and believe" and offers everyone the same sort of "prevenient" grace to enable them to believe, then the only distinction between believers and unbelievers comes from within themselves...obedience that they are able to generate from within themselves while the unbeliever continues in his natural course of disobedience. except that the bible teaches that our choices and actions reflect our nature (or our hearts), and that our natures are all rebellious from birth and our hearts are all deceitful.

the calvinist's answer is the only one that strikes me as consistent with the whole counsel of scripture on this matter.

but if you're convinced that you weren't really more intelligent than your neighbor to recognize the value of the free gift of eternal life, and no more spiritually sensitive or humble than your neighbor in surrendering to the prompting of the Spirit to "repent and believe," then that, at least, is a good thing and in accordance with scripture.

Kevin Rhyne said...

Richard,

Often, you will hear Arminian preachers stating that we are saved by the grace of God, and not dependent upon man, being "all God," and the Arminian means it from the standpoint that receiving God’s grace is not a matter of willing & running, that is, will-power and man-power, but simply about surrendering and receiving the free gift of eternal life.

I am assuming that Arminian preachers in your example are referring to

“So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9:16)”

Where does the Text say anything about “of God” meaning “man surrendering”? Brother, if Arminians chop that verse in the manner you described, then you guys need to lose the accusation against Calvinists that we are married to a logic or system when we come to Scripture. The verse points to the actions of God and completely removes the actions of man as the ultimate cause of regeneration. Born of God is the language used. I’ve watched three births in my lifetime and not one of them depended upon the baby just surrendering and receiving the free gift of their first breath. Birth happened to them. It was not something that depended upon their free will.

Incidentally, John says the same thing, not that the Holy Spirit should have to repeat Himself.

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Richard Coords said...

Hey Kevin,

I'm starting to get caught up in my emails. Yes, I was referring to Romans 9:16. In terms of surrendering to Christ being akin to a salvation that is "all God," I'd like for you to consider a quote by John Calvin:

John Calvin writes: “Now it may be asked how men receive the salvation offered to them by the hand of God? I reply, by faith. Hence he concludes that here is nothing of our own. If, on the part of God, it is grace alone, and if we bring nothing but faith, which strips us of all praise, it follows that salvation is not of us. … When, on man’s side, he places the only way of receiving salvation in faith alone, he rejects all other means on which men are accustomed to rely. Faith, then, brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of Christ.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, p.144, emphasis mine)

So in your view, was John Calvin being illogical? In other words, what he is saying is that bringing nothing but faith is tantamount to coming to God empty-handed. To Calvin, coming to God with faith, renders salvation a matter of "not of us." Now you can argue about what Calvin actually taught about where faith comes from, but the point stands, which is that a "grace alone" salvation, to Calvin, was none other than a "faith alone" salvation, which is precisely the Arminian argument.

So Calvin could essentially echo the Arminian sentiment, and still be a 4-Point Supralapsarian. How? My next post will address it.

Rocco said...

We should all start focusing on fulfilling the GREAT COMMISSION,
which came from JESUS (God Himself),
and go out and share the Gospel to the end of the earth, and love THEM as He has loved us.

The children of God need to go out and do the work that the Father has sent them to do, rather than argue over figuring out the mind of God.

If you are Saved by the blood of CHRIST, and now posses ETERNAL life,
you know it was through the single work of JESUS. God doesn't direct us to have theological debates over it, He calls us to go out and share the message of Eternal life.

DO you know that this discussion of election verses free will is the single largest divider of the church today. I believe with my heart that it is satan using man's pride to distract true believers from their God directed mission.

Stop giving satan victory, and start giving glory to God by obeying His call to the HIS Chidren.

Peace 2 U

Dwight Osborne said...

This is the truth of the Bible: 1) We are elected to salvation and 2) we have free will to accept or reject Jesus Christ. Do I understand or can I explain why both are true. No, indeed, I cannot. But the Bible says both are true and as the infallible word of God then the conclusion must be that both are the truth. What are the two most important that we as Christians should do?
1.) John 6:29-"To believe in the One He has sent and
2.) Matthew 28:19 & 20: to share the gospel with a lost and dying world.
These acts bring glory to God.