In this post I will be quoting from and commenting on an article, NO CONDEMNATION IN CHRIST JESUS. By A. W. Pink, who died in 1952. He begins:
“Regeneration is a radical and supernatural change of the inner nature, through which the soul is made spiritually alive, and the new life which is implanted is immortal. And since it is a change in the inner nature, it is in a sphere in which man does not have control.”
Although I certainly agree that man must be spiritually reborn, the exact timing of his spiritual immortality in scripture is left in question. In Luke 20:35 Jesus states “those who are considered worthy to attain to …the resurrection from the dead”; and then there are the If statements of Jesus in scripture. Being worthy to attain flies in the face of what Pink says here.
Man certainly has no control over his own immortality, Paul makes that clear in 1 Cor. 15, yet, immortality is not something that man did not previously possess. It is clear that Adam and Eve possessed both spiritual and physical immortality. They possessed dominion over the earth before they lost all by believing Satan and disbelieving God who had provided all of this to them as free gifts.
The Jews also possessed a chosen position in the Olive Tree. But those Jews, who disbelieved God’s Revelation of Himself in Christ, lost what they possessed because of their disbelief as did Adam.
And so today in this fallen world it is imperative that man be saved from his fallen state. “This mortal must put on immortality” in order to possess once again the gift of eternal life and rule (dominion) with God in Christ.
Pink, continues: “No creature is at liberty to change the fundamental principles of its nature, for that is the prerogative of God as creator. Hence nothing short of another supernatural act of God could reverse this change and cause the new life to be lost.”
So, if God has retaken dominion or total control of earth, and I have no doubt that in so far as the granting to us of salvation and immortality through the gospel that He is in total control; but if dominion is His on earth; then His word should make this fact clear to us. And if His salvation for us is predetermined then it must be without condition. So His conditions for sonship are either not there in scripture or they are made clear to us in scripture. Which is it? We seem to hear from today’s theologians that God’s love and His grace is unconditional either toward some or all of mankind depending upon which camp we are hearing from. So are these correct? — is there or is there not a condition required by God in order for man to inherit eternal life?
Pink continues — The born-again Christian can no more lose his sonship to the heavenly Father than an earthly son can lose his sonship to an earthly father. The idea that a Christian may fall away and perish arises from a wrong conception of the principle of spiritual life, which is imparted to the soul in regeneration.
So far as the believer is concerned, the penal side of the sin question has been settled once and for all. His case has been tried in the supreme court, and God has justified him: in consequence thereof the Divine decision is “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).
The teaching of Paul which is used here in support of one not falling, or not being able to lose sonship, carries with it a potential built in condition. “In Christ” man is according to this verse without condemnation; in Ephesians Paul states that “in Christ” we are predestined to eternal life, and that was God’s determination from before the foundation of the earth. But if it is possible that man can be removed from his position in Christ everything changes. So that is the real question at issue. Does scripture explain in it’s definitions section (the gospels relating Jesus’ teachings) what “in Him” or “in Christ” implies?
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
John 15:1-2,4,6 NASB
There is no clearer definition or warning in all of scripture than this one. Abiding in Him is a requirement for the most important promises given to man by God. This would include His protection for eternal life. So combining Jesus’ teachings we may conclude that God will not allow the removal of one, who is abiding in Christ, and we know that He will not do this Himself. Also, He will let no man pluck one from His hand who then is abiding in Christ; but that being the case who then is the entity responsible for that one who is no longer abiding? We cannot blame God if we do not abide, we cannot blame Jesus if we do not abide, we cannot blame any other man, so who is responsible for our not continuing to abide in Him? He, God, takes responsibility for us only when we abide.
No man can come to the Son except the Father call him. Jesus told us this, and He also told us that “many are called but few are chosen”. Why would God call one and then not choose whom He had called? Jesus told us why in the parable immediately preceding His statement. The one cast out had no wedding garment. In Christ we are clothed for the wedding. We are clothed in His righteousness, having none of our own. But, Scripture says: “The bride hath made herself ready”. Paul tells us to put on the whole armor. Every piece of that armor is attained as we abide in Christ. Apart from Me you can do nothing. Abide in Me. Every man is responsible to God alone for his sin. Only the man who is positionally in Christ has his sins cleansed and is justified and regenerated unto eternal life with Christ. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.
As for our regeneration, it may be a bit difficult to know exactly when our souls are transformed to immortality. James says: Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
And Paul says: do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.
But the scripture that really makes it clear that we have not yet arrived the very moment of our belief is John’s presentment of the born again relationship to our sonship under God in John 1: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, John 1:12
If what A.W. Pink says is true how can we understand this passage of scripture? Listen again to what he says: “Regeneration is a radical and supernatural change of the inner nature, through which the soul is made spiritually alive, and the new life which is implanted is immortal.” Yet, what John describes in verse 12 above he goes on to say later is true of all who are born of God. So regeneration as described by Pink is not at all what John has described as regeneration or being born again. John says that we are empowered to become sons of God through this experience.
Pink went on to say: “And since it is a change in the inner nature, it is in a sphere in which man does not have control.” What John is presenting however is an active involvement by man in a process of becoming, and is not at all what Pink has said here.
As for those not in Christ, only God can impart eternal life for those outside of Christ as part of His Judgment of the wicked. If they are to be made immortal it will be at the judgement seat of God, because they deserve eternal punishment. But for the called or chosen: “The gate is narrow and the way is straight that leads to eternal life”. Yet His burden is light. To believe in Him in faith is our calling. Our loving Him is our motivation to be overcomers. Do not neglect so great a salvation. What Scripture describes is the cooperation of man with His God in the exercise of a gift which is free. And the bride has made herself ready.