Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace (Part 42) - Act 15:9; 1Ti 1:16Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Wednesday, February 11, 2015.
For a paperback book in outline form which addresses over 150 difficult verses that Arminians use against Sovereign Grace, check out: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace: Rooting Arminianism Out of Every Verse. For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace 64. Act 15:9 A. "And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." (Act 15:9) B. Does this verse teach that the Gentiles were regenerated by their faith? C. An examination of the context. i. Peter was referring to Cornelius and the other Gentiles with him to whom God sent Peter to preach the gospel (Act 15:7 c/w Act 10). ii. God had made a choice that they would hear the gospel and believe (Act 15:7). D. Cornelius was already cleansed by God before Peter was sent to him and before he believed the gospel (Act 10:15 c/w Act 10:28; Act 10:35 c/w Act 10:1-2). i. Concerning Cornelius' eternal life, God had already purified (cleansed, washed) him (Tit 2:14 c/w Act 10:15; Tit 3:5; Eph 5:25-27). ii. Purify v. - 1. To free from admixture of extraneous matter, esp. such as pollutes or deteriorates; to rid of (material) defilement or taint; to cleanse. 2. To cleanse from moral or spiritual defilement; to rid of base motive or feeling; to free from taint of guilt or sin. iii. But in Act 15:7-9, Peter is referring to conversion of the Gentiles when they heard and believed the gospel, not to their regeneration and eternal salvation which preceded it. E. There is a spiritual purification which a child of God can obtain by faith. i. Those who believe are pure; those who are unbelieving are defiled (Tit 1:15). ii. James exhorted wayward Christians to purify their hearts (Jam 4:8). iii. Saints are exhorted to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit (2Co 7:1). iv. The elect to whom Peter wrote had purified their souls in obeying the truth (1Pe 1:22). v. Every Christian who has the hope of eternal life in them should purify themselves (1Jo 3:3). vi. This is done by fleeing sin quickly (2Ti 2:22). vii. This is done by confessing our sins to God and thereby obtaining forgiveness (1Jo 1:9). (See Section II,10,B on Temporal Forgiveness) viii. When we walk in the light with Christ, His blood cleanses us from all sin (1Jo 1:7). F. It was in this way that God purified their hearts by faith. i. Peter preached to Cornelius and the Gentiles that whosoever believeth in Christ shall receive forgiveness of sins (Act 10:43). (See Act 10:43 - Section III) ii. Cornelius and his house were saved temporally by believing the gospel which Peter preached to them (Act 11:14). (See Act 11:14 - Section III) iii. By believing the gospel, repenting of their sins, and being baptized, their hearts were purified by faith (Act 15:9). iv. In that it was God who made the choice that they would hear the gospel and believe (Act 15:7), it can be said that God purified their hearts by faith (Act 15:9). 106. 1Ti 1:16 A. "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." (1Ti 1:16) i. Does this verse teach that we believe on Christ to get everlasting life? ii. No, it doesn't teach that because it doesn't say that. B. Believers in Christ have eternal life (Joh 6:47), they don't believe to get eternal life. C. Eternal life precedes belief; it doesn't come as a result of it. (See Joh 5:24 - Section III) D. This verse simply says that belief in Christ is directed towards eternal life. i. To adv. - 1. Expressing motion directed towards and reaching: governing a noun denoting the place, thing, or person approached and reached. The opposite of from. ii. Belief in Christ puts one on that narrow path which leads to life (Mat 7:14). iii. We believe unto righteousness and our confession of Christ is made unto salvation (Rom 10:10). a. Unto prep. - 1. Expressing or denoting motion directed towards and reaching (a place, point, or goal); b. Instead of trying to establish our own righteousness (Rom 10:3), we believe and confess towards Christ, His righteousness, and His salvation. (See Rom 10:10 - Section III) E. Those who believe to life everlasting are those who were ordained to eternal life (Act 13:48). F. Paul was a pattern to them which should hereafter believe (1Ti 1:16). i. Paul obtained mercy from God, not because of his belief, but because of his unbelief (1Ti 1:13-16). ii. Paul was a child of God before his conversion. a. Paul was elect before his conversion (Act 22:14). b. Paul was regenerated (called by the grace of God) before his conversion (Gal 1:15 c/w Rom 8:29-30). c. God called Paul by his grace to reveal Jesus Christ in him, not to him (Gal 1:15-16). d. This is why Paul could feel the pricks in his heart and was resisting them prior to meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus (Act 9:5 c/w Act 2:37). e. Stony hearts don't feel pricks, but hearts of flesh do (Eze 36:26-27). f. Therefore, Paul was a regenerate, elect child of God before he believed on Jesus. iii. As it was with Paul who was the pattern, so it is with every child of God. For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace