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philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
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Reading, UK

 John MacArthur and One Nature

I came across an interesting critique of John MacArthur which said that he taught believers only have one nature. The article also said that Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Needham taught this. It did not provide quotations from Lloyd-Jones but majored on MacArthur. The quotations are as followsSalvation is not a matter of improvement or perfection of what has previously existed. It is total transformation. At the new birth a person becomes "a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Cor. 5:17). It is not simply that he receives something new but that he becomes someone new. The new nature is not added to the old nature but replaces it. The transformed person is a completely new "I." Biblical terminology, then, does not say that a Christian has two different natures. He has but one nature, the new nature in Christ. The old self dies and the new self lives; they do not coexist. It is not a remaining old nature but the remaining garment of sinful flesh that causes Christians to sin. The Christian is a single new person, a totally new creation, not a spiritual schizophrenic. The believer as a total person is transformed but not yet wholly perfect. He has residing sin but no longer reigning sin. He is no longer the old man corrupted but is now the new man created in righteousness and holiness, awaiting full salvation. [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Ephesians, p. 164.]

The relation of the old self and the new self has been much disputed. Many hold that at salvation believers receive a new self but also keep the old self. Salvation thus becomes addition, not transformation. Such a view, however, is not precisely consistent with biblical teaching. At salvation the old self was done away with. [He then cites 2 Cor. 5:17 and Rom. 6:6.] Salvation is transformation–the old self is gone, replaced by the new self. [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary–Colossians and Philemon, p. 148.]
I find this assertion fascinating. Are there any folk out there familiar enough with MacArthur's position to add any comments?


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Ron Bailey

 2005/7/19 6:05Profile
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 Re: John MacArthur and One Nature

Hi Ron, I know MacArthur's teaching quite well and I agree with what he is getting at here, although I do not agree with many of the terms he uses (i.e. nature/self etc. are not biblical words or terms in this context).

Here are transrcipts of 2 sermons dealing with this in more detail:

http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg1928.htm

http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg1929.htm


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Mark Nash

 2005/7/19 9:14Profile
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 Re: John MacArthur and One Nature

As I recall hearing him teach on this he attributes most of the temptations that originate from 'within' as caused by residual [u]memories[/u] of sinful acts. Our nature is transformed, but the mind still has to come to terms with thoughts left over from past behaviors and things we subjected ourselves to. I am coming to concur with this view momre all the time. The probing question that I believe settles whether or not a believer has "two natures" is whether or not a genuine born again believer has an [u]appetite for sin itself[/u]. Can it be possible that a believers 'meat' is to rebel against God on the one hand and 'do' the will of God on the other. A believer may sin due to causes outlined by Paris Reidhead in "The Tragedy of Third Generation Religion", but that is not the same as saying that a believer "craves sin." It has long been my view also that what fulfills a sinner is not the booze or the fornication or the idolatry- it is the 'rebellion' itself. In other words- the flesh don't care how it rebels as long as it can rebel. This is the nature of a sinner- they don't care what flavor the sin comes in as long as they can have the underlying substance of rebellion. This is NOT a characteristic of a believer. If a believer is tempted it is to fulfill a good appetite in a bad way. It is not a craving to rebel against God for sake of rebellion.

John MacArthur's view would seem to concur with this notion as thoughts that arise in the mind may give the appearance of a hunger for sin, but in reality they are merely residuals suggestions of how you "used" to behave. It is an appeal to HABIT- not nature.

God Bless,

-Robert


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Robert Wurtz II

 2005/7/19 9:27Profile
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 Re:

thanks guys
what an incredible resource SI is!


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Ron Bailey

 2005/7/19 11:37Profile
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 Re: John MacArthur and One Nature

I can agree with what has been said here in this thread but I wonder how do we interpret the following...

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Eph 4:22-24)

Do we see this as a command from Paul or as a past event? Can we equate old nature/new nature with old man/new man?

In Christ,

Ron


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Ron Halverson

 2005/7/19 13:39Profile
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 Re:

Interesting.


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Eli Brayley

 2005/7/19 13:45Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
Do we see this as a command from Paul or as a past event? Can we equate old nature/new nature with old man/new man?



This is my own understanding of this passage. I do not speak for John MacArthur. (he will be relieved to hear this. :-) )
Eph. 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
Eph. 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
Eph. 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Eph. 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Eph. 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

I have taken the passage from two verses earlier to get the sense of what Paul is saying here. He is saying that they had been taught, by him (Christ), as the truth is in Jesus... This itself is a powerful statement, but that 'that' in the beginning of verse should not really be there; it has been 'supplied' by the translators, and the verb for 'putting off' is 2nd Aorist infinitive. The significance of the last point is that we might have expected to find this as an imperative if Paul were telling them that they should do it now. (that is a bit technical. If you would like more explanation, please ask.) If fact, if we drop that 'that' we can read something like...

...you were taught by him, to put off, concerning the former way of life, the old man.

Read in this way it becomes the original instruction given, by Christ, to those who have learned from Him. The original instruction then was to "put off, concerning the former way of life, the old man." I think it is important to note that they had not been instructed not only to 'put off the old man' but to 'put of, concerning the former way of life, the old man. that is, the old man and his ways. I think the sense is carried in Col. 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; The verb for 'put off' here is different, meaning to 'strip off, away from yourself'. It is part of three uses of the idea in Colossians;Col. 2:11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in [u]putting off[/u] the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
Col. 2:15 And having [u]spoiled[/u] principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Col. 3:9 Lie not one to another, seeing that [u]ye have put off[/u] the old man with his deeds; where the verb and its noun are repeated. The verb in Col 3:9 is an Aorist participle and the sense is caught perfectly by the KJV; you have put off, or as Youngs Literal has it: “Lie not one to another, having put off the old man with his practices,”
(Col. 3:9, YNG)

It seems to me that Ephesians is reminding them of what they were taught by Christ; to put off, concerning the former way of life, the old man; whereas Colossians is reminding them of what they have already done.

the 'old nature' is a theological term rather than a biblical concept so I personally prefer to use the phrase 'old man' and 'new man' rather than theological concepts of 'nature' and 'self'.

ps the putting on the the 'new man' in Eph 4:24 is also Aorist Infinitive, and would also seem to refer to something happening at a point in time rather than as a process. However, and this is vital, the 'be renewed in the spirit of your mind' is out of step with the verbs which surround it. Both putting off the old and putting on the new are Aorist Infinitives, but 'be renewed' is present tense. Present tense in Bible Greek is more like our present continuous, hence this 'out of step' instruction that they received from Christ means that 'they were taught... to be being renewed in the spirit of their minds'. This is quite definitely... process.

“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:”
(Col. 3:10, KJVS) Here in 'put on' is Aorist participle ie 'having put on the new' but the 'is renewed' is again a present participle which speaks of process. Hence the sense is
"having put on the new man which is being renewed according to the image of him having created him." So the 'creation' of the new man is seen as having been accomplished, but the renewal of that same new man is a constant process.

The two transcipts provided below by Nasher are very interesting. Perhaps we can talk later about John MacArthurs' "smelly old coat"?


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Ron Bailey

 2005/7/19 15:14Profile
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Phoenix, Arizona USA

 Re:

Quote:
"having put on the new man which is being renewed according to the image of him having created him." So the 'creation' of the new man is seen as having been accomplished, but the renewal of that same new man is a constant process.



Thanks for opening that up for us Ron, very helpful.

Some more thoughts here, if we reject the position of two natures, do we also need to drop the two nature terminology? I mean, it seems difficult to describe the struggle that's going on in me without saying something about two opposing somethings, principles, desires, urges, etc.

In Christ,

Ron


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Ron Halverson

 2005/7/19 21:18Profile
philologos
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 Re:

Quote:
Some more thoughts here, if we reject the position of two natures, do we also need to drop the two nature terminology? I mean, it seems difficult to describe the struggle that's going on in me without saying something about two opposing somethings, principles, desires, urges, etc.


Is there a reason for neglecting the scriptural terms for the struggle i.e. walking in the flesh v walking in the Spirit? We are drawing near to MacArthur's 'smelly old coat' I think.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/7/20 5:34Profile
philologos
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Joined: 2003/7/18
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 Re:

Quote:
"having put on the new man which is being renewed according to the image of him having created him." So the 'creation' of the new man is seen as having been accomplished, but the renewal of that same new man is a constant process.

What I add now is only an illustrattion and illustrations must not be used as foundations for truth. However, here is my illustration.

monitor refresh rates. I know very little about this area of knowledge other than the higher the refresh rate the better, generally. Please correct the science of this as necessary. Cathode ray tubes are coated with a chemical that retains light briefly. The momentary image is beamed onto the chemical surface which retains the image long enough for us to see the whole picture. The image needs to be constantly refreshed, if it is refreshed at lower rates the image will 'flicker' and the image fades and is renewed. With higher refresh rates however the image is experiencing continual refreshment/renewal which will result in a 'rock steady' image with no flicker.

Although the image, of the new man, is created in a moment it needs the process of constant refreshing if the image is to be seen clearly and without flicker. I didn't mention it in the grammatical parts of the earlier posts but 'being renewed' is passive in the Greek, (that doesn't mean passive in the sense of being apathetic!) which means that the image is being 'received'. The 'putting off' and the 'putting on' are both active. This is something 'we' do (by the Spirit's enabling) but the 'being renewed' is 'passive' because someone else is doing the 'doing'.

I seem to recall that one of your favourite quoted texts is Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; It's one of my favourites too. 'Salvation' apparently is the consequence of 'regeneration and renewing'. Paul's use of 'renewal/renewing' is very consistent; Rom. 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2Cor. 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
Col. 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

I am often challenged by the little phrase 'let us...' It seems so simple and nothing like the struggle that many experience. You can only say 'let us' to people who can do what is being enjoined upon them. What I am getting at is that all those books entitled 'aids to a holy life' etc may have started from the wrong presupposition. Perhaps they ought to have been entitled 'Hindrances to a Holy Life and how to avoid them'. The only 'aid' we need to a holy life is the Holy Spirit, but there are many hindrances.

If any choose to develop or context the illustration please do remember that it is only an illustration.


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Ron Bailey

 2005/7/20 6:00Profile





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