Straw Men and Salvation, Part 3 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #8)

The Bible says in John 6:37: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck:

The Father works sovereignly in people’s lives. There is an election of God which is the Father’s gift to the Son. The Son has no concern that His work will be ineffective, for the Father will enable people to come to Jesus. Jesus has confidence. But people may have confidence also. One who comes to Jesus for salvation will by no means be driven away.

Today’s quote is from Blaise Pascal. He said: “It is good to be tired and wearied by the futile search after the true good, that we may stretch out our arms to the Redeemer.”

Our topic today is titled “Straw Men and Salvation (Part 3)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

The third straw man concerns the antiquity or recency of a teaching. If something was taught by the early church, then it must be true. If a teaching is more recent, then its truthfulness is at least suspect, if not untrue.

Christians can be carnal, living by and for their fleshly desires. This teaching, however, is said to be new in this century, allegedly making it suspect, if not unbiblical. On the other hand, lordship and lordship-like statements by those who lived earlier in the history of the church must surely indicate that the lordship view is true.

Sometimes this straw man has a mate. Not only does the antiquity of a view make it truthful but also the number of people who held or hold it makes it true. The more the better to substantiate its truthfulness.

Of course, the smoke screen this straw man and its mate throw up can be easily dispelled. The fact that something was taught in the first century does not make it right (unless taught in the canonical Scriptures), and the fact that something was not taught until the nineteenth or twentieth century does not make it wrong, unless, of course, such teaching is clearly unscriptural.

Baptismal regeneration was taught in the early centuries, but it is wrong. The majority of the church doesn’t practice immersion. Does that make a belief in immersion wrong? Today, the majority of the church is not premillennial (believing in Christ’s return for His church before His earthly reign). Does that make that doctrine wrong? The ransom-to-Satan theory regarding Christ’s atonement (i.e., that in His death Christ paid a ransom to Satan) was taught in the early church. Does that make it right?

The antiquity or recency of a teaching and the number of people who are for or against it make for interesting study, but neither factor proves or disproves the truth of that teaching. The charge of newness was leveled against the teachings of the Reformers. With characteristic straightforwardness, John Calvin responded to it this way:

“First, by calling it new they do great wrong to God, whose Sacred Word does not deserve to be accused of novelty…. That it has lain long unknown and buried is the fault of man’s impiety. Now when it is restored to us by God’s goodness, its claims to antiquity ought to be admitted at least by right of recovery.”

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