Romans 9 and Unconditional Election

David Bovenmyer’s seminar notes, GCC Pastor’s Conference—June 19, 2012

In the time I have allotted, I won’t be able to go through the chapter verse by verse, but must confine myself to giving three overall assumptions and then some observations on the passage. So I’ll dive right in.

Assumption #1: Paul’s purpose in this passage was not to address the questions and issues that surfaced in the church during the middle ages.

This may seem too obvious to mention, but, frankly, it’s all too easy for us to have our minds filled with the issues of our day or to have our thinking colored by our theological tradition or by the debates throughout the history of the church, and never really discern the issues and questions that the writers of scripture were addressing. Continue reading

Romans 7 Refers to a Man Under the Law, Not a Man Under Grace

Here are some thoughts on the identity of the “wretched man” of  Romans 7:14-ff. These verses refer to a man attempting to serve God under the law of Moses (Torah), not a man under grace and serving in the “way of the Spirit.” These are preliminary thoughts and I would appreciate any feedback that you may have for me.

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Is Faith a Work?

© David Bovenmyer, 2012

The Bible teaches that all people receive justification from God by grace through faith in Christ, apart from any good works.  Salvation is monergistic—worked by God alone.  God does the saving through Christ and we add not even one good work to it.  Yet the Bible also teaches that people must place their faith in Christ in order to be justified.  God doesn’t believe for us; we must believe.  However, none of us would believe without God’s drawing and calling.  Therefore faith is synergistic—people believe with the influence and help of God.  Continue reading

God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility to Choose

Pastor David Bovenmyer, Ames, Iowa

Copyright Great Commission Churches 2002, 2007, Used  by Permission

1. What is the purpose of this paper?

The relationship of God’s sovereignty and man’s ability to choose, and particularly how it relates to God’s election of individuals for salvation, is a fascinating subject and one that has been debated for centuries. Has God given man the power to believe or reject the truth, and therefore have a part in determining his own eternal destiny? Do we have the freedom and ability to choose or reject Christ? Because of sin, has man lost the capacity to respond to God in faith? Continue reading

Is Faith the “gift” in Ephesians 2:8?


For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; (Ephesians 2:8, NASB95)

Some Christians believe that the word “that” in Ephesians 2:8 refers to the word “faith” as its antecedent.  The following comments from various commentaries on the passage show that the Greek language does not support this.  Neither can the word “that” refer to “grace.”  Rather, the word “that” modifies the previously presented concept of “salvation.” Continue reading

Is regeneration by faith or is faith by regeneration?

What is regeneration?  The word means to be born again.  John 1:12 and John 3:6 indicate that this new birth is not physical but spiritual. Just as we were born into a physical family, we are born into a spiritual family and become children of God (John 1:12). This regeneration is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5), who was poured out upon us richly.  Regeneration seems also to be envisioned in the passages that refer to passing from death to life and being resurrected with Christ, although the term is not specifically used in these passages (John 3:33, John 5:24, Ephesians 2:1-10, Colossians 2:12-14).

Some pastors and teachers  teach that regeneration precedes faith and is necessary for it.  They believe that mankind is so fallen that his heart is unable to respond to the gospel or believe in Christ. They say that we must first be regenerated before we can believe. Some believe that regeneration and faith occur simultaneously and that regeneration is only logically prior to faith.  Others believe that regeneration often is temporally prior to faith.  Either way, they believe that regeneration is the condition and means of obtaining faith. Continue reading

Dead Men Can Believe!

What Does it Mean to be “Dead in Sin”?

I’ve often heard the argument, based on Ephesians 2:1-3 that since fallen man is dead in sin, he is incapable of seeking God, doing good, desiring God, responding to the call of God, or believing in Christ while in this dead state.  The argument is that man must first be regenerated before he is able to respond to the gospel and believe.  In the following points, I give my analysis of Ephesians 2:1-10 and its context and argue that Paul did not intend to use the “death” analogy in the sense of such total disability, and that indeed, men must believe in order to be made alive.  Continue reading

Does 1 John 5:1 teach that faith is caused by regeneration?

The following is an evaluation of John Piper’s interpretation of 1 John 5:1

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. (1 John 5:1, ESV)

Commenting on 1 John 5:1, John Piper says, “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Son of God has been born of God.  This is crystal clear that the reason you believe is that you have been born of God, not the other way around.”[1]

I take Piper to mean that being born again is the cause of belief.  Piper also seems to be envisioning and emphasizing initial faith more than an ongoing confession of faith. Continue reading