Hey Brook, I recently read an article by an author who listed his top 4 reasons why the message of Inclusion isn’t real.
Do you care to comment on these points?
- The many warnings in Scripture about the importance of repentance, belief, calling on the name of the Lord, and the present and eternal consequences of unbelief. This includes the many passages about a place of punishment and some who do end up there.
- Every passage about those who believed and received the Spirit (didn’t have Him before!) in the early church, and every conversion experience in history since then. One moment they were not new creations; the next moment they were. Clearly, we do not have the Spirit at birth, or the entire book of Acts needs to be re-written!
- Many verses like 1 John 1:9 and Acts 26:18 and 2 Corinthians 5:20 that say forgiveness from God is received only after admitting one’s sinfulness and turning from unbelief to belief (at salvation) and that reconciliation takes two parties with a response on our part being necessary. Take a minute to look those passages up and ponder them.
- The doctrine of “Inclusion” either promotes salvation of all for eternity, no matter what, or in more cases, claims that all begin saved but not all end up saved. So either it tosses Scriptural warnings about unbelief to the wind and gives false security to all; or it ignores God’s promises to the believer and teaches loss of salvation for some in the end. Either way, it’s not the new covenant message.
Hey bro, I respect that not everyone is going to be able to understand the message of Inclusion. It requires a shift in thinking from a Roman-Greek Dualism to a Jewish thinking mindset to understand. For many people we are stuck on the first, and the transition to the second can be very difficult and confusing.
Also, the message of Inclusion has different meaning for Terms. For instance, while the phrase “Born Again,” Is used commonly to describe when a person gets saved, the phrase has a different meaning in the message of Inclusion. The phrase “Born Again,” is used to describe what happened to Humanity at the resurrection (1 Peter 1:3). Humanity was recreated, spiritually alive. What people generally call “Born Again,” the Inclusionist calls, “Born of God.” (1 John 3:9) So there is a lot of confusion and many terms have to be understood in that transition.
To you points,
1. The many warnings in Scripture about the importance of repentance, belief, calling on the name of the Lord, and the present and eternal consequences of unbelief. This includes the many passages about a place of punishment and some who do end up there.
By no means do I discount the verses that stress the importance of repentance and believe and calling on the Name of the Lord, but you have forgotten one very important thing. All of those verses are directed to the Jews. It is not until Acts 10, with the house of Cornelius that we see the gospel going to the Gentiles. Everywhere in scripture that suggest Repentance and Faith is required “TO BE FORGIVEN (future tense)” is directed to the Jews.
Further, the place of Punishment described in the ministry of Jesus, again, was directed to the Jews, under the old Covenant, whom God was getting ready to destroy by the Roman Armies. For the Jews to escape this coming destruction, they had to convert. Those who did not believe were condemned already, has nothing to do with the afterlife. Instead, it talks about the Fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32, and the condemnation that was going to befall THAT generation because of the Covenant of Moses. It was the Covenant of Moses that was condemning people and would ultimately lead to their destruction That is the context of these punishment verses.
As such we misunderstand, that some salvation and Judgement passages are not talking about the afterlife, but are instead talking about Jews, escaping the destruction, and being Saved/Delivered from the destruction to come.
2. Every passage about those who believed and received the Spirit (didn’t have Him before!) in the early church, and every conversion experience in history since then. One moment they were not new creations; the next moment they were. Clearly, we do not have the Spirit at birth, or the entire book of Acts needs to be re-written!
This is very weak slight of hand argument. Receiving the Spirit and Becoming a New Creation are not synonymous, although the author is implying that they are. The new Creation happened on the cross, when Jesus tore down the separation of Jews and Gentiles and created one new human race (Ephesians 2:15, Galatians 6:15). It’s Past tense. 2 Corinthians 5:17 is a conclusion statement of the previous verses, about Jews and Gentiles have been included in Christ, and Therefore if any man is in Christ (Which all Jews and gentiles are in Christ), he is a new creation. Who was included? All Jews and Gentiles.
As to the fact that people receive the Spirit, I have no objection to that. Only that you understand what is taking place. Since the time of Pentecost the spirit has been poured out on all flesh (Acts 2:17). But it is only those who believe that experience this outpouring. But more importantly than that, the outpouring of the Spirit is not same things as Jesus coming into a person’s life.
John 1:9 says that Jesus lighteth every man that comes into the World. Paul himself, when describing his conversion said, that Jesus was revealed to be inside him already (Galatians 1:16). The Apostle James said that we are saved by accepting the already engrafted Word that is in us (James 1:21b …and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.) Further, Paul said his preaching say thus, Romans 10:8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
For more about the New Creation
Understanding the ministry of the Gospel to the Jews and to the Gentiles is a major issue that people miss. Until Acts chapter 8 with the stoning of Stephen, the gospel is exclusively to the Jews. Compare Peter’s message to the Jews at Pentecost and the Gate beautiful, with Peter Preaching in the house of Cornelius, the first Gentile converts, and we see that one group had to Repent & Convert/Be baptized, while another group had the Holy Spirit fall on them before Peter finished Preaching. This is the difference in the language between the Gospel to the Jews and the Gospel to the Gentiles.
I’ve written more about this here:
Paul is preaching to the unbelievers, that the Word (Jesus) is near them, in their mouth and IN THEIR HEARTS (already). That is what they preached to the unbelievers. The book of Acts doesn’t need to be rewritten is just needs to be understood, with audience relevance, and with a Jewish mindset.
3. Many verses like 1 John 1:9 and Acts 26:18 and 2 Corinthians 5:20 that say forgiveness from God is received only after admitting one’s sinfulness and turning from unbelief to belief (at salvation) and that reconciliation takes two parties with a response on our part being necessary. Take a minute to look those passages up and ponder them.
1 John 1:9 is written to the Jews, as they are the only people who had to convert/be baptized from out of the old covenant, to receive the forgiveness that was freely available to them in the New Covenant. Acts 26:18, speaks to what we pointed out before, that people need their eyes opened to see Christ in them, but as speaking to the forgiveness, there is nothing in this verse that says they “will be forgiven” in the future, rather it says to receive the forgiveness that God has already granted them. 2 Corinthians 5:20 says nothing of being forgiven, only of being Reconciled. Again, understand the reality. Reconciliation to God has already taken place, an individual can only accept or reject what has already taken place.
It is the same thing with healing. Healing has already been accomplished by the Stripes of Jesus, (1 Peter 2:24), but yet people are still sick on the earth. When we agree with what the scriptures say is already true, we manifest that reality on the earth. That is what’s going on with 2 Corinthians 5:20, the Reconciliation is done, from God’s Perspective, now we can agree with it, and be reconciled. But this has nothing to do with forgiveness when a person believes.
4. The doctrine of “Inclusion” either promotes salvation of all for eternity, no matter what, or in more cases, claims that all begin saved but not all end up saved. So either it tosses Scriptural warnings about unbelief to the wind and gives false security to all; or it ignores God’s promises to the believer and teaches loss of salvation for some in the end. Either way, it’s not the new covenant message.
This is not a valid argument against the doctrine of inclusion. This is the author’s attempt to link Inclusion with Universalism, or the loss of Salvation, when they are not necessarily connected. It is the ad hominem argument of appeal to the stick. Since people are afraid of being labeled as Universalist, and equally afraid of losing their salvation, one tries to connect a teaching to either of these two things, to invoke fear that a person will reject the teaching, not on merits, but out of fear.
Trying to link inclusion with theories of hell and the afterlife are irrelevant and not necessarily connected. Universalism can be found outside the teachings of inclusion, and similarly, there are Inclusion teachers who believe in Eternal Conscious Torment or even Annhilationism.
Inclusion doesn’t toss out Scriptural warnings about unbelief, rather it places them in their context of the old covenant Jews, and Jesus’s warnings to Israel about their impending destruction.
I hope those responses help you to begin your study. It is by no means an easy one, but don’t let anyone try to scare you away from your study on this subject by implying things about the teachings that are not true. I highly recommend this series to help you in your study.
Enjoy the Study my Friend.