Friday, September 19, 2008

THE ARMINIANISM OF DANIEL D. CORNER REFUTED - Part 5, by Joey Faust

by Joey Faust

THE ARMINIANISM OF DANIEL D. CORNER REFUTED - Part 5:
(BY JOEY FAUST) - ETERNAL LIFE IN THE MILLENNIUM
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[The following is a refutation of, "The Believer's Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted," by Daniel D. Corner.]

In the last part of this series I answered the proof-texts that Corner lists at the start of his 5th chapter. In summary, although Corner is apparently a premillennialist, he nevertheless interprets most of the Bible in an amillennial or anti-millennialist fashion. He makes no distinction between Hell and the Lake of Fire; and he always interprets the kingdom as the eternal kingdom or Heaven (instead of the Millennium, as it is found in many passages). As we walk through the rest of his 5th chapter, these errors will continue to be found.

The first sentence of the 5th chapter (p. 75) is noteworthy. It reads:

"In this chapter initial salvation refers to the moment in time when a person extends a trusting-submitting faith in Jesus Christ for his personal salvation and thereby instantly receives the gift of salvation...As a recipient of eternal life he has also been declared righteous in God's sight and made a son of God..."

Corner does not use the phrase "initial salvation" to distinguish it from reward in the Millennium or at the Judgment Seat of Christ. These words are used by Corner to reveal that salvation will not be secured until what he calls "final salvation" is obtained by enduring until the end in holiness:

"Final salvation simply refers to entering the kingdom of God, which only occurs for those who die physically in a righteous state or are in such a spiritual state when the Lord returns." (Corner, p. 75)

Notice, also, how Corner uses other phrases such as "declared righteous," "spiritual state," etc. He does not use these phrases to describe imputed righteousness (i.e. the absolute righteousness of Jesus Christ credited to the account of saved sinners, who are still less than perfect in many areas, practically or experientially). In what way, then, can a new believer be "declared righteous in God's sight," at the "moment" believes, as Corner maintains? As with the word "kingdom," Corner uses such words in a reckless manner, without defining them, and not realizing that he is contradicting himself. For example, is a new believer absolutely perfect the "moment" he believes? What type of righteousness does he possess? If God declares him to be righteous, does this mean that he immediately arrives at sinless perfection the moment he first believes? If not, then Corner must believe that a believer can be "declared righteous" in spite of his imperfections and sin. If so, then Corner must confess that there is a distinction between positional, imputed righteousness (our state), and practical, infused righteousness (our walk). Yet, a few sentences later he tells us that the believer must endure in a "righteous state" to be finally saved.

The only way to resolve these contradictions is for Corner to teach that a sinner, to be "initially saved," must immediately reach a practical, righteous state by turning from sin and doing good works. This is, indeed, the common theology that is presented in most modern churches, regardless of denomination. Charles Potter, the infamous Humanist, boasted and mocked in 1930 that only a few Fundamentalist churches still taught salvation by grace through the Blood, and not by works. He predicted a fast approaching day when all churches would be Humanist churches in order to have any one attend.

But if Corner teaches that sinners are saved by turning from sin and being immediately good, why then does he use words such as "gift of salvation," "because of his faith," etc.? Certainly, a great change in conduct often occurs (and it should occur) at the moment of faith. Yet, the Bible speaks of men like Joseph of Arimathea who was a "disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews" (John 19:38). It speaks of many of the chief rulers who "believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him..." (John 12:42). It speaks of Corinthians who were "sanctified" (1 Cor. 1:2); yet, nevertheless, they walked in divisions (1:10), envy and strife (3:3), carnal, and even "as men." They were "full," "rich," "reigning as kings" (4:8). They were "puffed up" (4:18, 5:2). They had fornication among them, and were boasting in their acceptance and worldly "love" of such open, unrepentant sinners (5:6). They were suing each other at law (6:6-7). They were doing wrong and defrauding their brethren (6:8). Obviously, then, there must be a distinction between positional sanctification and practical sanctification. The Corinthians Paul addressed had positional sanctification; they had the imputed righteousness of Christ. But they had practical sanctification only in certain areas, and in varying degrees. And some did not have it at all!

In summary, Corner uses words and phrases as if he believes in imputed righteousness. However, he quickly reveals that he has no understanding of this great, Pauline doctrine. Instead, he advocates Augustine's eternal salvation by the infused righteousness of Christ (i.e. the practical fulfilling of the law). I do not deny that the moral law should be fulfilled daily in the lives of believers. And believers who fail to yield to the Holy Ghost do so to their own hurt. However, it is important to keep eternal salvation distinct from salvation at the Judgment Seat (reward). Eternal salvation is through faith in the Blood of Jesus, granting us the imputed righteousness of Christ (justification). Millennial reward is obtained through the infused righteousness of Christ, as we field in faith and patience:

Hebrews 6:12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and PATIENCE inherit the promises.

Corner continues to view the kingdom warnings as eternal salvation warnings. In regard to Luke 13:24, he writes:

"The Greek reveals a continuous tense effort to enter the kingdom is to be exerted!" (p. 77).

Again, he has assumed that entering the kingdom always means entering into eternal salvation. He argues:

"The Christian is consequently warned of real spiritual dangers that could prevent his entrance into the kingdom (Gal. 5:19-21; Heb. 3:12-14; 1 Jn. 2:24, 25; Rev. 22:19)..." (p. 78).

This is certainly true, but Corner is wrong about the "kingdom" in these verses. Paul, in Hebrews, explains that he is discussing the "world to come" (Hebrews 2:5). This is the Millennium. It is the "seventh-day rest" (Hebrews 4). Furthermore, Paul uses the phrase "the kingdom" in 1 Corinthians 15:24-25, in reference to the Millennial kingdom. Therefore, Corner and others have the responsibility to prove that the kingdom means the absolute eternal age in various warning passages to believers. Paul speaks of temporary loss to unfruitful believers, while still retaining eternal salvation (1 Corinthians 3:15). This fits perfectly with the view that the Millennial kingdom is a reward for overcoming in practical righteousness, while eternal life in the eternal kingdom is a free gift by faith alone.

Next Corner discusses various Bible verses that promise eternal life, or warn against losing it. He writes:

"Please note, unlike many in our day, Paul neither said of those who shipwrecked their faith: 'They were never really saved to begin with' nor did he say, as others do, that such were still saved, because they once had a moment of faith." (p. 79)

Yet, we might add, that neither does Paul say that these people will be damned eternally in an Arminian sense. Corner writes:

"To OSAS proponent who believes in an absolute and guaranteed entrance into God's kingdom based upon a past moment of real faith in Christ, there will be some shocking Bible passages cited and examined...[Here are the] awkward passages on eternal life." (p. 80, 81)

Indeed, I do not know how OSAS proponents who believe in an absolute and guaranteed entrance into God's kingdom even read their Bibles! But the world is filled with people that can live in denial and unresolved contradictions in doctrine. Corner simply needs to understand that the kingdom is not always the eternal kingdom. His view blasts the whole foundation of justification by faith! Therefore, there is middle, true ground between these two extremes. Eternal security (OSAS) is absolutely true, and is easily defended, once the truths concerning the Millennium are inserted into the mix.

Corner next lists Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:46, Mark 10:30, Romans 2:7, Galatians 6:8, 9, Titus 1:2, 3:7, etc. In other words, he lists the various Bible verses that offer eternal life as a reward for faithfulness and as something that can be lost by believers. His point is that no Christian is guaranteed eternal salvation in the eternal kingdom.

Corner errs by not realizing that often words such as "everlasting" can be used to describe the fullness of duration within an age or world. If they can be used in relation to this lifetime, in this world (Exodus 21:6), they may certainly be used to describe the fullness of duration within a whole millennium (i.e. the next world).

Even so, it is not necessary to limit the words "eternal" and "everlasting" in Bible verses that present "eternal life," etc., as a reward to faithful saints. Every saint will experience the fullness of eternal life on the last day, when the eternal age begins. But only some will enter into it 1000 years earlier, when the Millennial kingdom begins. Experiencing this eternal life (i.e. never dying again) at the Second Coming is often presented to the saints as a prize:

1 Timothy 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Galatians 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

In other words, every saint that does not lay hold on eternal life (in the world to come, the Millennium) will be raised only to be banished to the realm of darkness and death until the end of the Millennium. They will not experience everlasting life at the Judgment Seat of Christ. All saints possess the free gift of eternal life, to begin on the last day after the Millennium. But the prize or reward of eternal life is the promise of entering this wonderful state as a first-born son (i.e. 1000 years earlier than the rest of the sons).

Corner notices that eternal life is often called a "hope." Most of these verses are describing the prize awarded at the Second Coming. In regard to others, Corner should realize that the word "hope" does not always mean that an expectation is uncertain (Acts 2:26-27).

Corner scorns the interpretation of Galatians 6:7-9 offered by Charles Stanley (that it refers only to the gaining or losing of Kingdom rewards). Corner reveals that the loss is everlasting life and destruction. But these penalties are very consistent with my view. The destruction of an erring "saint" is only Millennial. The destruction of a "lost sinner" is Millennial AND absolutely eternal (i.e. during the never-ending, eternal age). Corner errs by missing the qualifications given by the Bible:

Luke 18:29 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for THE KINGDOM of God's sake,
30 Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and IN THE WORLD TO COME life everlasting.

Corner wrongly believes that the "world to come" is the eternal age or state! But the world to come is actually the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-6). The promise for disciples who will confess Christ and forsake all is everlasting life in the Millennial Kingdom! They will not have to wait until the general resurrection at the Great White Throne, after the Millennium. They will have part in the first resurrection (Philippians 3:11).

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