The Potter’s Promise: A Commentary on Romans 9

“Confused by the issues surrounding Calvinism? Does Romans 9 teach unconditional predestination? Want to cut through some of the red tape? Then read Leighton’s book. He is charitable but gets right to the point, making a strong, biblical case for a God who is glorified by sacrificing Himself for creation and not by sacrificing creation for Himself. He makes a strong case for the God of Jesus Christ. Chapter 5 is one of the best point by point refutations of a Calvinist reading of Romans 9 that I’ve read, and I’m very grateful for this work. It will be a blessing to the church.” – Austin Fischer, author of Young, Restless and No Longer Reformed

A former Calvinistic Reformed Baptist minister and now a Professor of Theology, recounts his theological journey in and out of Calvinism. In so doing, Professor Flowers sets out to help his readers understand a non-Calvinistic “Traditional” Southern Baptist interpretation of one of the most quoted and relied upon chapters for defending Calvinistic soteriology: Romans 9. Flowers writes, “Paul is not attempting to distinguish between those vessels eternally blessed with effectual salvation and those vessels cursed with reprobation; instead, the apostle is drawing a distinction between those vessels blessed to carry out the noble purpose of fulfilling God’s promise and those vessels hardened in their rebellion in order to ensure the fulfillment of that same promise…it is all about The Potter’s Promise to bring the Word to all the families of the earth!”

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283 thoughts on “The Potter’s Promise: A Commentary on Romans 9

  1. For anyone who really cares to understand Roman’s 9, understand first that you can’t read it in isolation, with a 21st century mind and hope to understand what Paul is saying. Go back and read Mal. 1:2. Read Gen. 25:23. Read Romans 10 and 11. And especially, take the verses that the Calvinists constantly quote, like “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and read the OT counterparts. Like Ex 33:19, where Moses is bargaining with God, for goodness sake! Read about the potter and the clay and then read Jer 18:6, Which the verse refers to. and the verses after these.
    6 O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.

    7 At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it;

    8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

    9 And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it;

    10 If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

    ?Do you see how God is not arbitrarily picking who to punish and who to reward, but that it depends on their response to him!

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “Do you see how God is not arbitrarily picking who to punish and who to reward, but that it depends on their response to him!”

      Is it true that “it depends on their response to him”? Calvinists asked the question, “How come people do not respond alike to God? How is it possible for one person to believe God while another does not believe when the two people are basically the same in that both are depraved sinners? The answer that the Calvinists came up with was TULIP.

      You don’t like that conclusion. So, how do you explain it? What conclusion have you come to?

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      1. I’ve already explained my conclusions numerous times. It’s called previnent grace. My response to God matters not one wit if grace is irresistible. Because I can make no response unless he forces it. And if he doesn’t force it, hell is my destination and I can do nothing to change that. So, why care about anything? C’est la vie. And as far as sin goes, who cares? Because if Jr. is right, sin is non-existent. Bad becomes good, because God ordained and decreed it so. I really believe this is why so many serious Calvinists come off so arrogant. They think they can do no wrong. Being elect, there is no reason not to be nasty, because all their nastiness is ordained by God, and must be righteous. Quite a contrast to the clear teachings of scripture.

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      2. wildswanderer writes, “I’ve already explained my conclusions numerous times. It’s called previnent grace.”

        Even prevenient grace is irresistible because no one can refuse it can they? Prevenient grace takes totally depraved sinners and gives them the ability to accept or reject salvation. However, it makes all sinners equal giving each the same ability to accept or reject the gospel.

        Prevenient grace does not explain what makes one person accept the gospel and another reject it. Unless prevenient grace grants more to one than another, all should either accept the gospel or all should reject the gospel. If one accepts and one rejects, then prevenient grace is nothing more than irresistible grace having the effect of drawing some to Christ while passing over others.

        You express opinions; you never explain anything. Now, I don’t even think you understand grace – you seem somewhat ignorant of prevenient grace.

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      3. rhutchin, as long as you look at prevenient grace through your TULIP lenses, of course you won’t see how one person can accept and one reject. Because of your doctrine, you must deny that man has libertarian free will, and can make a genuine choice for or against God, once his eyes are open to his sinful state. Your TULIP lenses complicate the simple truth of the gospel.

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      4. wildswanderer writes, “Because of your doctrine, you must deny that man has libertarian free will, and can make a genuine choice for or against God, once his eyes are open to his sinful state.”

        Of course, Calvinism says that God grants libertarian free will to certain people by grace and these people exercise that freedom to accept the gospel. Doesn’t prevenient grace say the same thing except that God irresistibly gives libertarian free will to all people? How is it that some people with LFW accept the gospel and some don’t? You have no answer. You have no idea what prevenient grace is all about (or irresistible grace for that matter). You only seem able to repeat what people tell you but never able to understand what it is that people say.

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    2. Any careful and honest reading of the Scriptures plainly reveals that God is the unilateral, particular initiator and the one who always and completely saves the individuals that He chose before the world began. This is the very foundation of Biblical Christianity. If you take away this foundation, you are no longer standing in Biblical Christianity.
      Simply reading the Gospel of John ends this dispute–at least for those who truly look to the Word of God for truth.
      As soon as chapter 1 verse 12 and 13 we see the blueprint of salvation. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, who were born, not of blood, nor the will of man, but of God.”
      Only the ones born of the will of God will receive and believe on Him. Being born of God comes first. And if anyone doubts this plain Scripture, and the sequence, they can go to the 1st Epistle of John chapter 5 verse 1. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone that loveth Him hat begat loveth also that is begotten of Him”.
      “Whosoever believeth” is an unfortunate failure of the King James to communicate what the original Greek text is saying. The original Greek renders this “everyone believing” (present action). Because “whosoever” in English came into being 1000 years later and has adopted its own definition, people read that as “Whosoever will choose to believe”…or “Whoever makes this choice to do this out of their own will and resources”. And since there is a large group of professing Christians with a deep seeded hatred of God’s choice in salvation, they will press, push and promote this idea. But for those who are concerned with the meaning of the text to know what God means, we see that it is plainly “everyone presently believing” which says nothing about universal ability, or that “if you do this, then you will be born of God” as modern false Christianity has presented the gospel. Now, “is born of God” in 1. John 5:1 also fails to communicate the tense…
      the tense in the original is a past completed action. So “has originally been born of God” is accurate to the original Greek. So what is being said here is “Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has originally been born of God.” Being born of God is the “soil” from which the “plant” of believing springs forth. Now this, as I said, is highly offensive to the natural man, who is obsessed with self determination.
      It means that each man is powerless to initiate the new birth. I could go on to chapter 3 of the Gospel of John, where Jesus brings this to the forefront of truth to Nicodemus, telling Nicodemus that he cannot initiate his own new birth, and that the new birth is necessary FIRST before he can see or enter the kingdom of God. And when Nicodemus presses Jesus on how, Jesus points Him to God’s unilateral will and FIRST ACTION on the soul in the new birth….”the wind blows where it listeth, you hear the sound thereof, and know not where it comes from and where it goes, so is it with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
      ****Everyone who passes over this first principle, set forth in the Gospel of John (and other places in Scripture),will end up in fierce opposition to this core truth of Christianity, and fall into the cult of Arminian theology, which is a systematic rejection of every core truth of salvation. **** Everyone who opposes what I wrote here has an obligation to explain to me John 1:12,13 and 1. John 5:1. I predict I will get none

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      1. I see you posted this more than once Roy, so I will repost my answer in each place for you! 🙂

        Roy, I prefer not to reply to you because of previous interaction where clear presentation of Scripture with normal grammatical, contextual meaning was still rejected by you for your “Calvinistic-like” beliefs. I answer only because of your challenge and the importance of these texts which have been twisted away from their normal contextual meaning.

        IJohn was written to help professing believers test to see if they are truly born again (5:13). John gives many tests throughout the epistle and here in 5:1 he says that if one has truly been born again, he will continue believing. You correctly understood the grammar, but not the implication. John is not trying to teach that regeneration proceeds the commitment of faith. Believing is necessary before regeneration and will continue after it. Scripture consistently puts the commitment of faith before the reception of salvation (cf. Eph 1:13-14), and regeneration is salvation, not a pre-salvation work.

        Even the sequence of John 1:12 proves this – which is 1. receiving Christ (the same as believing in His name) precedes 2. being given the right to become the child of God (the same as regeneration). It would be silly to say regeneration is not the same as becoming a child of God or that one gets the right to become a child of God after being regenerated! But that is what you and Calvinists do, Roy! My prayer is that you will become teachable and enlightened by the plain meaning of Scripture (2Tim 2:15).

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      2. brianwagner writes, “Even the sequence of John 1:12 proves this – which is 1. receiving Christ (the same as believing in His name) precedes 2. being given the right to become the child of God (the same as regeneration). ”

        I think this identifies the point of disagreement. Calvinists say that regeneration is a “change” to the person that must be made in the depraved person to enable the person to believe. You say that a person is required to believe and that this belief then entitles the person to be regenerated (to be changed into a child of God).

        The Calvinist definition of regeneration explains how it is that two people can hear the gospel and one believes and the other does not. Under your system, the response of one to believe while another does not cannot be explained – it’s magic (or as Pastor Flowers might say, It’s a mystery).

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      3. It’s not a mystery. It’s enlightenment, which is universal (Jn 1:9) but not continuous (Heb 3:7-8). It’s God’s lovingkindness for all who bear His image to have at least one opportunity to accept the salvation since He paid for all the sins of the whole world (1Jn 2:2).

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      4. brianwagner writes, “It’s not a mystery. It’s enlightenment, which is universal (Jn 1:9) but not continuous (Heb 3:7-8). It’s God’s lovingkindness for all who bear His image to have at least one opportunity to accept the salvation since He paid for all the sins of the whole world (1Jn 2:2).”

        So, God gives everyone at least one opportunity to accept salvation. If they all blow that opportunity, do you allow God to choose among those rejects some to give a second chance, or third chance, or fourth..until He gets the ones He wants to save or does God keep giving everyone additional chances until He gets fed up with them or they die?

        Of course, this still does not explain why one person would accept salvation while another person rejects salvation when both presumably get the same enlightenment. Maybe God gave a tad more light to those that He favored or maybe some were just sleeping when their enlightenment came and never knew they had it or maybe someone stole their enlightenment when they weren’t looking.

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  2. Any careful and honest reading of the Scriptures plainly reveals that God is the unilateral, particular initiator and the one who always and completely saves the individuals that He chose before the world began. This is the very foundation of Biblical Christianity. If you take away this foundation, you are no longer standing in Biblical Christianity.
    Simply reading the Gospel of John ends this dispute–at least for those who truly look to the Word of God for truth.
    As soon as chapter 1 verse 12 and 13 we see the blueprint of salvation. “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name, who were born, not of blood, nor the will of man, but of God.”
    Only the ones born of the will of God will receive and believe on Him. Being born of God comes first. And if anyone doubts this plain Scripture, and the sequence, they can go to the 1st Epistle of John chapter 5 verse 1. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone that loveth Him hat begat loveth also that is begotten of Him”.
    “Whosoever believeth” is an unfortunate failure of the King James to communicate what the original Greek text is saying. The original Greek renders this “everyone believing” (present action). Because “whosoever” in English came into being 1000 years later and has adopted its own definition, people read that as “Whosoever will choose to believe”…or “Whoever makes this choice to do this out of their own will and resources”. And since there is a large group of professing Christians with a deep seeded hatred of God’s choice in salvation, they will press, push and promote this idea. But for those who are concerned with the meaning of the text to know what God means, we see that it is plainly “everyone presently believing” which says nothing about universal ability, or that “if you do this, then you will be born of God” as modern false Christianity has presented the gospel. Now, “is born of God” in 1. John 5:1 also fails to communicate the tense…
    the tense in the original is a past completed action. So “has originally been born of God” is accurate to the original Greek. So what is being said here is “Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has originally been born of God.” Being born of God is the “soil” from which the “plant” of believing springs forth. Now this, as I said, is highly offensive to the natural man, who is obsessed with self determination.
    It means that each man is powerless to initiate the new birth. I could go on to chapter 3 of the Gospel of John, where Jesus brings this to the forefront of truth to Nicodemus, telling Nicodemus that he cannot initiate his own new birth, and that the new birth is necessary FIRST before he can see or enter the kingdom of God. And when Nicodemus presses Jesus on how, Jesus points Him to God’s unilateral will and FIRST ACTION on the soul in the new birth….”the wind blows where it listeth, you hear the sound thereof, and know not where it comes from and where it goes, so is it with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
    ****Everyone who passes over this first principle, set forth in the Gospel of John (and other places in Scripture),will end up in fierce opposition to this core truth of Christianity, and fall into the cult of Arminian theology, which is a systematic rejection of every core truth of salvation. **** Everyone who opposes what I wrote here has an obligation to explain to me John 1:12,13 and 1. John 5:1. I predict I will get none.

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    1. Roy, I prefer not to reply to you because of previous interaction where clear presentation of Scripture with normal grammatical, contextual meaning was still rejected by you for your “Calvinistic-like” beliefs. I answer only because of your challenge and the importance of these texts which have been twisted away from their normal contextual meaning.

      IJohn was written to help professing believers test to see if they are truly born again (5:13). John gives many tests throughout the epistle and here in 5:1 he says that if one has truly been born again, he will continue believing. You correctly understood the grammar, but not the implication. John is not trying to teach that regeneration proceeds the commitment of faith. Believing is necessary before regeneration and will continue after it. Scripture consistently puts the commitment of faith before the reception of salvation (cf. Eph 1:13-14), and regeneration is salvation, not a pre-salvation work.

      Even the sequence of John 1:12 proves this – which is 1. receiving Christ (the same as believing in His name) precedes 2. being given the right to become the child of God (the same as regeneration). It would be silly to say regeneration is not the same as becoming a child of God or that one gets the right to become a child of God after being regenerated! But that is what you and Calvinists do, Roy! My prayer is that you will become teachable and enlightened by the plain meaning of Scripture (2Tim 2:15).

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      1. John 1 reads–
        11 [Jesus] came unto his own, and his own received him not.
        12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
        13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

        We have a contrast. Some did not receive Christ but some did. Those who received Christ are described as those who believed on His name. Such were uniquely born of the will of God (by God’s willful decision) – not born of human parents (not gained by being born a Jew) or by a willful decision by the person.

        The issue concerns the meaning of the phrase, “to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” How does this apply to those who already are born of the will of God and who already believe on the name of Christ. It is the same as saying to the person after he has been saved – Now, you have the power to become a son of God. If a person believes on Christ, isn’t he already a son of God? Why does John say that it is only after the person comes to believe in Christ that he then has the power to be a son of God?

        If one views this “power” as the freedom to choose whether to believe in Christ, he upsets all that John says because the person is already believing in Christ. This “power” is exercised by the person after they come to believe in Christ.

        On this Calvin explains, “…Christ gave to the unclean and the uncircumcised what appeared to be impossible; for an incredible change took place when out of stones Christ raised up children to God, (Matthew 3:9.) The power, therefore, is that fitness (hikanotes) which Paul mentions, when he  gives thanks to God, who hath made us fit (or meet) to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints, (Colossians 1:12.)”

        Until a better explanation comes along, I’ll go with Calvin on this.

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      2. That’s the problem Roger, you go with Calvin to make “right to become a child of God” to mean inheritance. I’m going to stick with John (the apostle) who consistently makes it mean the immediate result of regeneration.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “I’m going to stick with John (the apostle) who consistently makes it mean the immediate result of regeneration.’

        All agree to that – the immediate result of regeneration is that the believer now has the power to become a son of God. Calvin went further and described what “the immediate result of regeneration” meant. Can you expand on what you think “the immediate result of regeneration” means?

        A person comes to you and says, “I am now a believer.” You respond, “That’s great! You now have the power to become a son of God.” He asks, “What do you mean – I now have power to become a son of God?” You respond….

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      4. Only God can bring about regeneration and form the new life in a believer, John 1:13. God sees the faith and grants the new birth which is regeneration, not regeneration first then faith. I pray Roger that the scales will fall from your eyes on this.

        I also pray that you will read through the OT with view to see how God’s intention and plan has always been to declare His name throughout the earth, not just through making Israel as a light to the nations and a kingdom of priests for the world. See Acts 17: 26-27 where Paul clearly reveals that intention and the possibility of its fulfillment in individuals lives since the dawn of creation.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “..read through the OT with view to see how God’s intention and plan has always been to declare His name throughout the earth, not just through making Israel as a light to the nations and a kingdom of priests for the world.”

        The issue is whether Israel was to do this. Obviously, you have not yet found any verses that tell us they were. Thus, your deflection. So, should I start with Judges and work from there? Perhaps the Psalms. Maybe Jonah given his eagerness to evangelize Ninevah.

        brianwagner writes, “See Acts 17: 26-27 where Paul clearly reveals that intention and the possibility of its fulfillment in individuals lives since the dawn of creation.”

        Here we have:

        26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
        27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

        This would have been a good opportunity for Paul to give a nod to the Jews. The burden is on the people – “…that men would seek him…” Maybe Paul meant to say, “That the Jews would encourage men to seek God.” Perhaps the Holy Spirit was otherwise occupied and missed this opportunity to tell us about the Jews role in evangelizing the gentiles.

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      6. I’m sorry Roger, I thought you would recognize the allusions to OT passages in the phrases light to the nations and a kingdom of priests. Do you need me to give you the references to these well known phrases? How would you understand these phrases as to Israel’s responsibility?

        Also you ignored the point I was making from Acts 17:26-27, that God was not just using Israel. Why did you ignore it and what do you think of those verses proving God’s intention and provision for men to seek and find Him?

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      7. brianwagner writes, “I thought you would recognize the allusions to OT passages in the phrases light to the nations and a kingdom of priests. Do you need me to give you the references to these well known phrases? How would you understand these phrases as to Israel’s responsibility?”

        References would be nice. The only references of which I am familiar regarding Israel being a light to the nations occurs in the prophets and the context was a prophetic reference to Christ. So, it would be nice to see what you are referencing.

        By kingdom of priests, I understand that Israel was to keep the laws God commanded. By being light to the nations, other nations would be able to observe Israel. In neither case was Israel commanded explicitly (and I don’t think implicitly) to evangelize the nations. Israel was specifically commanded not to have any dealings with the nations they drove out of Canaan.

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      8. brianwagner wrote, “See Acts 17: 26-27 where Paul clearly reveals that intention (God’s intention and plan has always been to declare His name throughout the earth) and the possibility of its fulfillment in individuals lives since the dawn of creation.”

        Then he wrote, “you ignored the point I was making from Acts 17:26-27, that God was not just using Israel. Why did you ignore it and what do you think of those verses proving God’s intention and provision for men to seek and find Him?”

        What’s to ignore? Paul does not speak of Israel being the vehicle to accomplish this by evangelizing the nations. Paul is speaking to the Greeks and the whole context relates solely to the Greeks. Paul says nothing about Israel and context does not imply, or require, a connection to Israel.

        Nonetheless, Pastor Flowers needs to address this in his book since his whole argument stems from his claim that Israel was to evangelize the nations. If he really thinks Acts 17 helps his case (I don’t see how it would) then he can offer it up.

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      9. Roger – Ex. 19:6, kingdom of priests – For whom do you think they were to be a kingdom of mediators if not the other nations? Is. 42:6 – light to the nations – The NRSV is probably correct in seeing all the imperfects as consecutive (translated as past) in agreement with the first perfect verb in the verse. This has always been Israel’s purpose, and yes it will be again in the Millennium! See their correct evangelistic zeal in Ps 96 (cf. 67, 117). The nations in Canaan were under the judgment of God and Israel was the executioner (Gen 15:16, 9:4). But don’t forget Rahab.

        And then there was the inspired story of Ruth… preserved to demonstrate to Israel that while they were doing what was right in their own eyes, their God was still effectively reaching out to the Gentiles. And don’t forget the part of Solomon’s dedication prayer which was for the Gentiles who responded to Israel being an effective light for God (1Ki 8:41-43). Remember the Queen of Sheba? Even Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes was written as an evangelistic reasoning for the Gentile mind.

        There was never a man born that God did not want to show His mercy unto salvation, using creation and conscience from the beginning until now (cf. Rom 10:18), and Israel throughout the OT and the Church since Pentecost. I hope this helps.

        And I was not mentioning Acts 17:26-27 to support Flowers’ thesis from Rom. 9. I was just interested in expanding the conversation to included God’s ultimate purpose of showing mercy to the Gentiles in OT times, even without Israel (His elect nation), and to see your response. Do you have any? That passage indicates clearly the God’s intention was for them to seek and to find, correct?

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      10. brianwagner writes, “Ex. 19:6, kingdom of priests – For whom do you think they were to be a kingdom of mediators if not the other nations?”

        The role of the priest in Israel is described in Leviticus in great detail. They were mediators between Israel and God and such gentiles who came into Israel and were circumcised. No where do we read of the priests evangelizing the nations. Who does God send to evangelize the nations? – the prophets, Jonah being a good example. The priests were mediators under the Old Covenant; Christ is mediator under the New Covenant. It is Christ who commanded, “Go into all the world…” Nowhere do we read of the priests of Israel commanded to do this. As Paul writes in Ephesians 3, this was the great mystery not revealed to Israel – that the gentiles were fellow heirs of salvation.

        brianwagner writes, “Is. 42:6 – light to the nations – The NRSV is probably correct in seeing all the imperfects as consecutive (translated as past) in agreement with the first perfect verb in the verse. This has always been Israel’s purpose,…”

        Isaiah 42 obviously deals with Christ – even you cannot deny that. The question is whether it also applies to Israel. Considering v1 alone, one might draw this conclusion. However, v1 is modified by the following verses, and it is clear that Isaiah certainly speaks of Christ but nothing supports the idea that Israel is also in view. If you want, you can try to make that argument – but not without assuming much I suspect.

        brianwagner writes, “See their correct evangelistic zeal in Ps 96 (cf. 67, 117).”

        Psalm 96
        1. Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
        2 Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.
        3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples.

        Comment: Some say this psalm is a prophecy of the coming Messiah. It is consistent with that view. Does it also apply to Israel? If so, the meaning need only be that Israel do these things by their obedience to God’s commands – especially through the sacrificial system. As is true today, evangelism is the living of a godly life so as to be seen by the lost and then to “…be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” The failure of Israel in evangelization was its failure to obey God.

        Psalm 67
        1. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah
        2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
        3 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
        4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah
        5 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
        6 Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.
        7 God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

        Comment: Note the first line, “May God be gracious to us and bless us…” The Psalm appeals for God’s blessing, and it is through this blessing “…that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” In other word, the nations would observe God’s blessing of Israel and by that blessing come to know God and praise Him. The intent of the Psalm is not to encourage Israel to evangelize the nations and no one in Israel took it to mean such – from what we read in the OT.] Perhaps you can demonstrate otherwise; but I am doubtful.

        Psalm 117
        1 Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.
        2 For great is his love towards us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever. Praise the LORD.

        Comment: I don’t see any connection to the issue. The Psalm encourages the nations to praise God because of the way He treats Israel (and by blessing Israel, all nations benefit).

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      11. brianwagner writes, “And I was not mentioning Acts 17:26-27 to support Flowers’ thesis from Rom. 9. I was just interested in expanding the conversation to included God’s ultimate purpose of showing mercy to the Gentiles in OT times, even without Israel (His elect nation), and to see your response. Do you have any? That passage indicates clearly the God’s intention was for them to seek and to find, correct?”

        Salvation has always been available to the gentiles from the beginning. According to Paul in Ephesians 3, this was a mystery hidden from the Jews and only revealed to Paul. As it was God who hid this from the Jews, it cannot be true that God intended the Jews to evangelize the world.

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      12. brianwagner writes, “Scripture consistently puts the commitment of faith before the reception of salvation (cf. Eph 1:13-14), and regeneration is salvation, not a pre-salvation work.”

        We read in Ephesians 1–
        13 In whom you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
        14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

        Consistent with that which he writes in Romans (Faith comes by hearing), Paul here says that a person exercises faith (believing) after hearing the gospel. Then the person is sealed with the Holy Spirit. Thus, the person is said to be saved – the person receives the salvation offered by God and God installs His Spirit into the person to help the person.

        Regeneration is not specifically addressed, so Paul does not tell us, “regeneration is salvation.” That is an assumption you make isn’t it? Titus 3 gives the impression that regeneration is part of the process that brings a person to salvation – the washing of regeneration (whatever that means). For Arminians/Calvinists, the washing is of grace and enables a person to exercise faith.

        I have not run across an argument from Scripture that allows a person to be dogmatic in stating that regeneration is salvation. Have you developed such an argument? If so, can we see it?

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      13. REGENERATION= BIRTH= LIFE= SALVATION Calvinists have confused regeneration with the pre salvation work of enlightenment and have twisted the Scriptures to limit that gracious work of enlightenment by God as only for a few, thus denigrating His character and the scope of His mercy!

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      14. brianwagner writes, “REGENERATION= BIRTH= LIFE= SALVATION Calvinists have confused regeneration with the pre salvation work of enlightenment…”

        The translated term, “regeneration,” is not used very many times in the Scriptures. How were you able to nail down the definition to mean “salvation.” Can you give me a brief explanation of the verses you used and how that led you to this conclusion.

        RC Sproul has a definition of “regeneration,” and I still can’t figure out how he arrived at his definition (he writes well and he still confuses me).

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    2. So do you think Jesus was mocking Nicodemus’ complete inability because of the predetermined fate to never be born again by Jesus himself? Jesus spent all that time with Nicodemus, personally instructing him about the ways of God, just to mock the fact that Nicodemus had absolutely no potential to respond? Or when Christ called the rich young ruler, looking at him with real love, was he mocking a vessel created unto damnation with no chance of ever responding? Or when Christ preached to the crowds to be his disciple, eat his flesh and follow him, was Christ asking his own vessels of damnation to do something he knew they could never respond to? It makes no sense what a crazy confusing mess Calvinism makes of Scripture as well as vilifying the very character of God when it removes a real autonomous ability of God’s creation to respond to him. And all for the man-exalting and man-centered motivation that Calvinists can feel selfishly secure in their destiny, instead of letting God go outside their man-made deterministic box. Just take the words “whosoever” and “if” give them their true meaning of a universal condition going out to all who hear the word, and Bible is full of these conditional calls to all who hear, and you’ve easily and entirely defeated Calvinistic denial of autonomy.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Roy,

      1 John 5:1 has nothing to do with the order of salvation. It has to do with identifying a brother in Christ and because of that we are to love him because we love Him who begat. If we love Him who begets, we will also love who is begotten of Him. The only way for us to know who is begotten of God is by what they believe.

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      1. Don Johnson writes, “1 John 5:1 has nothing to do with the order of salvation. It has to do with identifying a brother in Christ…”

        I don’t see that. John summarizes in v13, “These things have I written unto you that believe [so that] you may know that you have eternal life,…” John is writing to the individual believer to give the believer himself assurance of his salvation. His purpose is not to enable believers in general to identify other, or “true,” believers in their midst.

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  3. t” is the purpose for which man was created. Man did not want to do so, and God allowed man to decide. Adam was created to enjoy God forever, but Adam gave it all away. That’s what free will is all about isn’t it – doing your own thing on your own despite what God would like to do with you.”
    What? Now we can do our own thing? Not according to every Calvinist author ever. Make up your minds!

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “What? Now we can do our own thing? Not according to every Calvinist author ever. Make up your minds!”

      Calvinist all say that man is a slave to sin until regenerated by God. So, man “does his own thing” which is to sin. I don’t know what your issue is here? What Calvinist author are you reading who says otherwise?

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  4. “How is it that some people with LFW accept the gospel and some don’t?”
    You seem incapable of understanding that free will really does imply that men can determine their destiny by a choice. Why do some people choose to commit adultery and others choose faithfulness? Step outside of your “everything is predetermined” mindset.

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “You seem incapable of understanding that free will really does imply that men can determine their destiny by a choice.”

      So, given free will and the choice between eternal life and eternal death, what do people choose? The answer is obvious – the person always chooses eternal life. To do otherwise is to make an irrational choice which denies free will. If a person is not able to make rational choices as is characteristic of those enslaved to sin, then God has not granted that person free will (whether through prevenient grace or irresistible grace).

      Issues of sin that plague believers after God regenerates them are explained by Paul in Romans 7. Thus, no believer is perfect and lives a life without sin. No believer chooses faithfulness to God all the time, but we do see believers choosing faithfulness more and more as they grow in faith.

      Nonetheless, the salvation decision – eternal life or eternal death – is a no-brainer for the person with free will; he easily chooses eternal life. I don’t think you understand the concept of “free” in free will.

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      1. Could you explain your argument that people can only choose what you view as rational? If a will is free, why can’t it choose to be irrational, I don’t get that logical connection at all. Then it ends up sounding like you are arguing that for a will to be free, it can’t be free. Self-determinition is freedom (freedom from God’s causal decree), and this results in a true optional self-determining choice between option A and option B. You can’t argue that because you think option B is worse, the choice is therefore not free, because that is a non-sequitor (it does not logically follow in the conclusion from the premises). But you’ve used this several times now, and I’d like to hear a real justification for the argument that free means you can’t be irrational if you want.

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      2. The term, “rational,” refers to reason and understanding. The person with free will understands that he has a choice – eternal life or eternal death – and is able to think/ reason about that choice – discern the difference between the two; that difference being great and not insignificant. The person then makes a choice that is consistent with his understanding – it is reasonable for him to choose as he does.

        If a person does not know that he has a choice or understand the choice before him and is prone to making an irrational choice, then his will is not “free” in the LFW sense. LFW is often described as “contra-causal” choice. The idea behind contra-causal choice is that the person is able to make a decision on his own and no one makes the decision for him. He can choose which way to go and makes his decision consistent with his understanding of the facts. Nothing causes him to choose one way or the other, but his choice can be influenced by outside factors/information.

        Self-determination is freedom from God but it does not mean free will.

        So, what does “free” mean to you?

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      3. Free will means that a choice is, in its most fundamental essence, not controlled by the choice of any other will outside. That is the meaning of freedom (no other thing controlling). There are things that can influence you, but you have to decide to let them influence you. I’ll be honest that your point carries a little weight with me, in that, you would think, if a person saw all the ramifications of one choice or the other concerning eternal destinies in heaven or hell, that no sane person could choose hell. However, I think a choice can be required even with incomplete information (enough information to understand, but not fully and vividly feel the ramifications of). So you have immediate counter-temptations (one marshmallow now or two later?). Also if the choice of heaven also fundamentally includes a change in your nature that, as a free choice, you do not like or desire, even irrationality of choosing pain. And you’re making a huge assumption that logic alone guides people’s decisions. For me, that is mostly true, because logic has played a very strong factor in my life. But trust me when I say, I’ve seen people freely act irrationally. I personally can’t relate to that, but I wouldn’t therefore say it can’t happen.

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      4. dizerner writes, “…I think a choice can be required even with incomplete information (enough information to understand, but not fully and vividly feel the ramifications of).”

        The issue is not one of “choice” but “freedom of choice.” What do you mean by incomplete information?

        Do you mean that the person does not have to know that he has a choice? If a person only knows that he will die one day and knows nothing of eternal life, does he have free will with respect to determining his destiny?

        Maybe, you mean that the person does not have to know how the options differ. If a person thinks that eternal life and eternal death are essentially the same, is he free with respect to determining his destiny?

        Again, I don’t think you have grasped the concept of “free” in free will. You only seem to be saying that a person is free so long as he is not coerced. Is that what you are saying?

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      5. You said:
        Do you mean that the person does not have to know that he has a choice?

        Of course not. Never implied that.

        You said:
        ? If a person only knows that he will die one day and knows nothing of eternal life, does he have free will with respect to determining his destiny?

        No, he can’t make a choice for that which he is unaware.

        You said:
        Maybe, you mean that the person does not have to know how the options differ.

        What? No, not even close. I never implied anything about “not knowing how the options differ.” Incomplete knowledge is not an absence of knowledge.

        You said;
        If a person thinks that eternal life and eternal death are essentially the same, is he free with respect to determining his destiny?

        No. He has to know there is a difference between his choices.

        You said:
        You only seem to be saying that a person is free so long as he is not coerced. Is that what you are saying?

        Yes, but it’s not like a game show where you pick what’s behind door number 1 or door number 2 and don’t know which is which. God’s Word clearly describes our choices, even if we don’t know exactly what heaven and hell will feel like (incomplete knowledge, but *some* knowledge and *enough* knowledge).

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      6. dizerner writes, “Yes (a person is free so long as he is not coerced), but it’s not like a game show where you pick what’s behind door number 1 or door number 2 and don’t know which is which. God’s Word clearly describes our choices, even if we don’t know exactly what heaven and hell will feel like (incomplete knowledge, but *some* knowledge and *enough* knowledge).”

        Then considering that the person can think rationally as part of the freedom he enjoys, everyone with LFW will choose eternal life. That’s the conclusion of the Calvinists. Consequently, if a person is rejecting eternal life, he is still depraved and enslaved to sin and continues in that state until God extends grace to him.

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      7. Again I will admit your argument has some force rhutchin (especially since I heartily agree with the logic that eternal life is a wiser choice, lol). *However,* and this a big however, I don’t think people’s autonomy means they are forced to act logically. Think of this—the very author of evil and sin (under my Arminianism) is Satan’s first decision to “become like God,” and to me that is *the* most irrational decision anything could ever make. Perhaps that is why, in essence, all sin *is* irrational, yet our fallen nature and the deceptive powers of Satan, can make the irrational seem desirable. Or again, what to me is the *second* most irrational decision ever made, Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God’s clear command and thereby commit treason, is completely illogical in the light of their having a complete paradise and no reason to distrust God. But the irrationality of these acts does not convince me of Divine determinism, that God somehow initiated their irrational decision (why would God be irrational?) but rather convinces of me of true autonomy, the only thing that ever *could* be irrational when a good Creator made a good creation.

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      8. dizerner writes, “I don’t think people’s autonomy means they are forced to act logically.”

        If a person cannot reason, he is not free in the LFW sense of “true” or “genuine” freedom. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has this, “‘Free Will’ is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives.” And “…one acts with free will when one’s deliberation is sensitive to one’s own judgments concerning what is best in the circumstances, whether or not one acts upon such a judgment.”

        So, why should we care what you think. You think one thing, another thinks another thing, a third thinks a third thing, etc. Personal opinion gets us nowhere. Maybe you don’t like definitions because you just want to think things that catches your fancy.

        Dizerner writes, “the very author of evil and sin (under my Arminianism) is Satan’s first decision to “become like God,” and to me that is *the* most irrational decision anything could ever make.”

        Why is that irrational? Does not God say to Israel, “I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.” Through Peter, “just as [God] who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;”

        Maybe you could explain Satan’s problem in more depth?

        dizerner writes, “in essence, all sin *is* irrational, yet our fallen nature and the deceptive powers of Satan, can make the irrational seem desirable.’

        People sin because they have been deceived and believe a lie. That voids contra-causal freedom – freedom requires truth. Jesus said, “you will know the truth [from the Scriptures], and the truth will set you free.” It is through regeneration that the depraved person is freed from sin and able to see the truth of the Scriptures – they then choose consistent with that truth (or so the Calvinists have concluded).

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      9. _So, why should we care what you think. You think one thing, another thinks another thing, a third thinks a third thing, etc. Personal opinion gets us nowhere. _

        Oh come on, this is completely stupid to argue. Everything anyone anywhere says is just what they think. All that any human has is his mind. You want to use solipsism to argue that I’m wrong? That’s a completely different topic. Don’t bring hardcore skepticism about epistomology and philosophy and ontology into a discussion about Biblical free will to think you show I’m wrong? Its stupid to argue that merely because I think something, and that’s all that I have, that I’m wrong. I’m seriously disappointed in your lack of logic, respect and willingness to think over someone else’s thoughts. The argument you made here shows you are not dealing honestly about ideas, but just want to make me look bad through any means you can find. That’s not honest discussion, brother.

        You say:
        “become like God,” and to me that is *the* most irrational decision anything could ever make.”
        Why is that irrational? Does not God say to Israel, [be holy as I am.]

        How can you not understand that “like” does not mean emulate in that sentence. Satan wanted to be the equal of God or even replace him. I assumed you’d know the original passages describing his rebellion (have you even studied Scripture)? It’s impossible to talk to someone who constantly twists, misdirects, misrepresents and is so misinformed. Satan was not wanting to “be holy like God is holy.” That’s a no-brainer.

        I can’t continue this discussion with someone so irrational (and who also, like so many immature debaters on the internet, wants to simply declare they are right every other sentence, which is not even an argument).

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      10. dizerner writes, “The argument you made here shows you are not dealing honestly about ideas, but just want to make me look bad through any means you can find. That’s not honest discussion,…”

        Honest discussion is when we get our ideas from the Scriptures. That way everyone is on the same page. The goal here is not to show that you are wrong but to discover what is right.

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  5. “Nonetheless, the salvation decision – eternal life or eternal death – is a no-brainer for the person with free will; he easily chooses eternal life. I don’t think you understand the concept of “free” in free will.”

    That’s funny, because you are the one who keeps insisting that the free will will always choose God, which cancels out any concept of freedom. This is the weakness of your systematic theology. It cancels out the beauty of grace, the free gift that can be accepted or rejected.

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “It cancels out the beauty of grace, the free gift that can be accepted or rejected.”

      Grace is not the free gift that can be accepted or rejected. Grace enables the free gift of salvation to be accepted or rejected (where before it could only be rejected).

      Are you proposing that prevenient grace can be rejected?

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      1. “Are you proposing that prevenient grace can be rejected?”

        Of course it can be rejected. But, just so we know we are talking about the same thing, how about a definition of sorts…..”The illumination does not guarantee the salvation of anyone, but it makes the choice of salvation possible. John Wesley described “the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning his will, and the first, slight, transient conviction of having sinning against him. All these,” said Wesley, “imply some tendency toward life, some degree of salvation, the beginning of a deliverance from a blind, unfeeling heart.”

        The trouble with these discussions is that they soon become vain debates about the meaning of words and have little to do with the reality of what actually takes place in men’s hearts. People reject God’s grace by ignoring it, drowning it out, surrounding themselves with noise, and friends and concentrating solely on the cares of this world. The Holy Spirit is patient, but if there is anything He’s not, it’s irresistible. Why do we sing songs and say prayers asking the Spirit to fall on us, renew and revive us? Precisely because we know that we are capable of ignoring Him.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. wildswanderer writes, “Of course [prevenient grace] can be rejected…how about a definition of [prevenient grace]…..”The illumination does not guarantee the salvation of anyone, but it makes the choice of salvation possible. John Wesley described “the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning his will, and the first, slight, transient conviction of having sinning against him. All these,” said Wesley, “imply some tendency toward life, some degree of salvation, the beginning of a deliverance from a blind, unfeeling heart.””

        Read Wesley carefully as he has done you a service in defining what the Arminian believes. Prevenient grace is the illumination; it is conferred on the individual irresistibly. The person goes to bed one night and wakes the next morning knowing something is different but not what. While unaware of what God has done, he only knows he sees things differently. Thus, God has undone that depravity that prevented him having any desire for salvation. But, Wesley says, this illumination “does not guarantee the salvation of anyone.” It only allows salvation to be considered. It is salvation which can then be accepted or rejected. The illumination of salvation (prevenient grace) cannot be accepted or rejected – only that which is illuminated, salvation, can be accepted or rejected. God has kick-started the process – “the first wish to please God, the first dawn of light concerning his will, and the first, slight, transient conviction of having sinning against him. All these imply some tendency toward life, some degree of salvation, the beginning of a deliverance from a blind, unfeeling heart.” In other words, the person realizes that he has sinned against God and he is able to consider Christ as the remedy for his sin.

        The Calvinist says that prevenient grace is only extended to God’s elect and that it does guarantee the salvation of His elect as God cannot open a person’s eyes to see Christ and Christ not be irresistible to the person.

        So, irresistible grace – the illumination of which Wesley speaks – is not resisted; that which is resisted is the salvation that is illuminated.

        wildswanderer writes, “People reject God’s grace by ignoring it, drowning it out, surrounding themselves with noise, and friends and concentrating solely on the cares of this world. The Holy Spirit is patient, but if there is anything He’s not, it’s irresistible.”

        The claim is not that the Holy Spirit is irresistible; the claim is that the grace is irresistible. The Arminian claims that the Holy Spirit gives the person the ability to accept or reject salvation but does not complete the process. That ability is not resisted but is applied to accept or reject salvation – it allows for salvation to be resisted. The Calvinist says that the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to the person sufficient to draw the person to Christ and be saved. The critical question is why one person accepts salvation and another does not; the Calvinist pursued an answer; the Arminian buried his head in the sand.

        If you are concerned about the meaning of words and concepts thinking how they contribute to vain debates, then you should not engage those debates. You cannot subscribe to universalism, Calvinism, Arminianism, etc. without understanding the claims each makes and this requires that words be properly defined to avoid misunderstanding. You do not seem to understand either Calvinism or Arminianism, yet you want to discuss these things as if you do understand them – thus promoting vain debates. Don’t you find that curious?

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  6. “Do you mean that the person does not have to know that he has a choice? If a person only knows that he will die one day and knows nothing of eternal life, does he have free will with respect to determining his destiny?”

    The person who does not know the choice yet, still has eternity in his heart. He is capable of searching and seeking to know what that yearning for something more then this life is all about. Jesus said that those who hunger and seek for righteousness will be filled. He didn’t tack on any qualifications. Once a person has sought long enough and hard enough, God will at least send something into his life to illuminate his will enough to know what the choice is. Then, he can make a genuine choice to accept or reject God’s drawing.
    John1:9 “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
    Every man.

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “The person who does not know the choice yet,…God will at least send something into his life to illuminate his will enough to know what the choice is. Then, he can make a genuine choice to accept or reject God’s drawing.”

      So the person does have a choice – his will is illuminated so that he chooses between eternal life and eternal death. If a “genuine choice” then the person understands how the choices differ – the great gain to eternal life and the great loss from eternal death. If a “genuine choice” then the person rationally considers those options. The person with “genuine choice” will choose eternal life – to do otherwise is neither rational and reflects no understanding of the choices voiding any “genuineness” in choice.

      Christ does light every man as John writes but John is promoting the theme that Christ did not come to save just the Jews but the gentiles also. Thus, by “every man” is meant both Jews and gentiles. This is not the grace (prevenient, whether irresistible or not) necessary to undo depravity and enable a person to respond to the light of Christ. This is explained later by John – “…his own did not receive him.
      Yet to all who received him…[were]… born of God.”

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  7. “The illumination of salvation (prevenient grace) cannot be accepted or rejected – only that which is illuminated, salvation, can be accepted or rejected.”
    Again, you are splitting hairs, and assuming that man can reduce the working of the Spirit to a formula, which is not only unrealistic, it also wrongly assumes we can understand God’s prompting, as if He can only work in a textbook fashion.
    The Holy Spirit gives grace, so if you are rejecting grace, you are rejecting Him.

    And, yes, we can quench His work at any point in the process, before or after full illumination, we can even choose not to believe after being Christians for 50 years. That’s the reality in the real world, which does not operate on formulas that men dream up to try to explain the unexplainable.

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  8. The “decision” to accept Christ certainly has to happen on a level deeper then logic. Men can use logic to talk themselves into or out of anything. We can’t ignore the spiritual dimension and hope to understand what is going on. A person’s understanding of his condition doesn’t save him and even mental ascent that Jesus was who he said he was doesn’t save anyone, IMO. There has to be a submitting of our spirit to the working of God before regeneration can happen. And the flesh is still working at odds to God’s leading while all this is taking place. Which is why logic and rationality have little to do with it. There are likely many people who think they are Christians because they have mentally admitted that Jesus is God, but they never took the step of allowing him to do any work on a deeper level then the mind.
    “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “There has to be a submitting of our spirit to the working of God before regeneration can happen.”

      Then you cannot be Arminian. Arminianism says that a person cannot respond to God absent prevenient grace by which a person is enabled (regenerated) to respond to the gospel. So, you are neither Calvinist nor Arminian.

      wildswanderer writes, “The “decision” to accept Christ certainly has to happen on a level deeper then logic.”

      Deeper level?? The Holy Spirit convicts the person of sin and presents the person with two options – eternal life and eternal death. How much deeper do you think we have to go?

      wildswanderer writes, “A person’s understanding of his condition doesn’t save him…”

      It puts him on the road to salvation. Once a person understands his condition (the work of the Holy Spirit convicting him of sin), he need only hear the gospel to which he responds by believing.

      wildswanderer writes, “There are likely many people who think they are Christians because they have mentally admitted that Jesus is God, but they never took the step of allowing him to do any work on a deeper level then the mind.”

      According to Paul, “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

      “…as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”

      God begins a work in His elect and God completes that work – He gives His Spirit to a person to make it happen.

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  9. One man’s logic is another man’s fruitcake. For example, rhutchin’s logic is not logical to my way of thinking. Constantly appealing to man’s logic in a discussion of the workings of man’s spirit with God’s Spirit, well, that’s not logical!
    So, we pick out verses that seem to support our position, while ignoring those that don’t. Is that logical? There are plenty of warnings about falling away in scripture, and I could list them all, but you would only find a way to twist their meaning. I don’t follow Arminius, I try to follow Christ. If someone asks what my view is on how salvations happens, saying “arminian” is shorthand for saying I reject Calvinism, it doesn’t however mean, that Jacob Arminius was right about everything. Although, I don’t see how stating that
    “There has to be a submitting of our spirit to the working of God before regeneration can happen.” contradicts anything that arminians typically believe.
    Mentally admitting that Jesus is God does not necessarily mean a person is being led by the spirit. Again, you are trying to put God in a box, and pretend that he can only work in ways that line up with your doctrine.
    These verses are for those who may be on the fence, and truly seeking truth:
    “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32″And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”John 12:32
    \
    Titus 2:11-14King James Version (KJV)
    11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

    12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

    13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

    14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
    Also see:
    John 16:8-11

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “For example, rhutchin’s logic is not logical to my way of thinking. Constantly appealing to man’s logic in a discussion of the workings of man’s spirit with God’s Spirit, well, that’s not logical!”

      According to “human” logic, a person with free will choosing between eternal life and eternal death makes the obvious, rational choice – eternal life. Now throw in the influence of the Holy Spirit and the outcome is even more certain (as if it were not before). Even more support for the Calvinist conclusion. What point are you trying to make?

      wildswanderer writes, “There are plenty of warnings about falling away in scripture, and I could list them all, but you would only find a way to twist their meaning.”

      That is not disputed. However, there are verses that speak to God’s preservation of His elect. So, we take all the verses together and draw a conclusion. The Calvinist conclusion says that those verses guaranteeing that God preserves His elect and direct, to the point and certain. Those verses speaking to a falling away are more wishy-washy suggesting that those who fall away were never saved in the first place. What conclusion did you reach when you looked at all the verses together? And if you concluded that believers can fall away, how did you override those verses so vividly describing God’s preservation of His elect?

      wildswanderer writes, “Although, I don’t see how stating that “There has to be a submitting of our spirit to the working of God before regeneration can happen.” contradicts anything that arminians typically believe.”

      Do you see prevenient grace effecting a change in the lost person to enable them to believe (the basic Arminian position as I understand it)? If yes, how do you conclude that this “change” should not be called regeneration which, by definition, describes change?

      wildswanderer writes, “you are trying to put God in a box, and pretend that he can only work in ways that line up with your doctrine.”

      I merely have God doing that which the Scripture He wrote says He is doing.

      So, what is your definition of “all” in the verses you cited and where from Scripture did you pull this definition?

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  10. “What point are you trying to make?”
    Simply, that man does not always make logical choices when presented with the options. And as for what preveniant grace does, it opens ones eyes to his need. It’s not regeneration.
    Conviction, not salvation. Otherwise, you have regeneration happening twice. Which is where your position gets weird. It’s as if God has to regenerate us to regenerate us, which as far as I can tell is pretty much the standard Calvinist belief. I’ll try to address the verses later, when I have more time.

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “…man does not always make logical choices when presented with the options.”

      OK, but that’s not the issue. We both agree that people do not always make logical choices when presented with options. The issue is whether people who make irrational choices are “free.” Certainly they are “free” in the sense of not being physically coerced to make an irrational choice. Do they have LFW freedom (genuine or true free will)? If they did, they would not make irrational choices. So far, you are have not been able to argue against this conclusion.

      wildswanderer writes, “…as for what preveniant grace does, it opens ones eyes to his need. It’s not regeneration.”

      If a person’s eyes are closed to the gospel and grace open’s his eyes, he has been changed. The language you use is describing a change. All regeneration says is that a person has changed in some manner. I don’t understand why you are saying regeneration is not a change in a person who goes from having closed eyes to open eyes. Can you explain what you are thinking on this?

      wildswanderer writes, “Conviction, not salvation. Otherwise, you have regeneration happening twice. Which is where your position gets weird. It’s as if God has to regenerate us to regenerate us,…”

      Regeneration can have several parts. You have identified one – grace opens a person eyes to the gospel. Of Lydia in Acts 16, we read, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Colossians 1 says, “[God] rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,…” That action by God is not a physical change in location but a spiritual change – and regeneration. John 3 says, “…no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Being born again his is another change – regeneration. God has to dramatically change people to bring them into His kingdom and this can require several specific changes as can be seen in these verses. Why do you describe these things as “weird”?

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  11. In the verse in John, Jesus predicts what kind of death he will have, then, predicts what effect his sacrifice will have-to draw all men to himself. Since we have plenty of evidence in scripture that not all will believe, this drawing must refer to all men being given the opportunity to accept his sacrifice for them.

    In Titus, we are first told who the grace that gives salvation appears to-all men. And since we know that not all men accept it, we know that the next verse is talking about what that grace teaches those who do accept and begin to mature in Christ.

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “In the verse in John, Jesus predicts what kind of death he will have, then, predicts what effect his sacrifice will have-to draw all men to himself. Since we have plenty of evidence in scripture that not all will believe, this drawing must refer to all men being given the opportunity to accept his sacrifice for them.”

      One major theme John develops is that salvation is not for the Jew only but also for the gentile. The drawing described in John 12:32 (” I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”) refers to Christ drawing both Jews and gentiles to Himself. In John 6, John describes another drawing – that of God who draws people to Christ and in that context we know that God draws His elect to Christ and this drawing is their salvation.

      wildswanderer writes, “In Titus, we are first told who the grace that gives salvation appears to-all men. And since we know that not all men accept it, we know that the next verse is talking about what that grace teaches those who do accept and begin to mature in Christ.”

      Specifically, the verse says, “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” “All men” here refers to both Jew and gentile. Salvation is not just for the Jew; it is for the gentile also. This grace “brings” salvation but does not “confer” salvation on anyone. The question we then ask is, “What is this grace?” I think it is the preaching of the gospel to all the world as the preaching of the gospel is necessary to the exercise of faith. What do you think this grace is? All people do not accept salvation because “not everyone has faith.” (2 Thessalonians 3:2) – especially wicked and evil men (which describes all people at one time until God changes them).

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  12. I just have a couple of questions: Why are you concerned about people in North Korea and other countrys where the gospel is not preached? According to your beliefs, everyone who God wants to save, will be saved. Why send missionary’s, why even plant churches? Under Calvinism, its all wasted effort. God will do all the work. There are people being saved in these countries through radio and through other means, but yes, the gospel has to go out. Although it is possible for a man to be reached without preaching, it is a rare soul who seeks that hard after righteousness. No one seeks God when he is totally blinded by sin, but again, man can respond to the evidence of God, which is found in creation and men who are made in his image.
    God is sending dreams to those in Arab countries. He does work in ways other then preaching, but he has chosen the foolishness of preaching as a main vehicle. People are dying because they haven’t heard, but under Calvinism, those people were never meant to be saved anyway, so why even pray for them? This is one of the things that I find so repulsive about determinism. The fatalism that says: Whatever will be will be. And this is the first reaction people have when they encounter Calvinism. “Then why do anything? What’s the point?” It’s a very demotivating view of life and God.

    Second question: Why do you all assume that you are part of the elect? Calvin had to come up with a reason that some seem to fall away, so he made God an even greater monster by claiming that God enlightens some people for a time, maybe even for most of their lifetime, then takes his enlightenment away, but that those people were never actually saved. Under your view, you can never know if you are among the elect, or God is just messing with your head. How can anyone have an intimate relationship with that kind of God?
    As for the question of how a person can choose irrationally when he has libertarian free will, that’s like asking how a person can make free choice if he is free. That question totally escapes me. You might as well ask why unicorns don’t dance on pins when the moon is full.

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  13. wildswanderer writes, “According to your beliefs, everyone who God wants to save, will be saved. Why send missionary’s, why even plant churches? Under Calvinism, its all wasted effort. God will do all the work.”

    The system God has set up is to call His elect out of the world through the preaching of the gospel. Thus, Christ commands, “Go into all the world…” The firm belief of the Calvinist is that the preaching of the gospel will always be effective and everywhere the gospel is preached, people will come to Christ. The Calvinist considers this to be certain. So, Calvinism says that we are to preach the gospel in every corner of the world, and that God has His elect in every corner of the world.

    Wildswanderer askes, “Why do you all assume that you are part of the elect?”

    Never assume anything. If God had made me perfect and without sin, then I might assume with great certainty that I am one of His elect. For now, my testimony is that of the Thessalonians, “the gospel came not to me in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” I cannot go through the day without pondering the gospel and all that it entails. I actually could argue with God that He has not saved me when I consider the sin that still resides in my life because I am constantly asking Him for forgiveness. In the end, if I am one of God’s elect, it is purely by God’s grace – so I don’t worry about it. God can do with me as He pleases.

    wildswanderer writes, “As for the question of how a person can choose irrationally when he has libertarian free will, that’s like asking how a person can make free choice if he is free.”

    I describe the freedom of libertarian free will as the following–
    1. The person is aware that he has a choice – eternal life and eternal death.
    2. The person understands the difference between eternal life and eternal death as it affects him.
    3. The person is able to think rationally and make decisions consistent with that which he knows and understands.

    Because of this, I conclude that true or genuine free will (LFW) precludes a person making irrational choices, so that the person who makes an irrational choice – choosing eternal death over eternal life – demonstrates that his will is not free.

    Perhaps you describe LFW such that a person can make irrational choices. It seems obvious that LFW, as you conceive it, is something entirely different than what I describe it to be above. Perhaps, you can explain your concept of LFW.

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  14. “I describe the freedom of libertarian free will as the following–
    1. The person is aware that he has a choice – eternal life and eternal death.
    2. The person understands the difference between eternal life and eternal death as it affects him.
    3. The person is able to think rationally and make decisions consistent with that which he knows and understands.”

    There’s nothing wrong with your definition per say, but as I said before, it seems to assume that this is all taking place mentally. When you factor in the reality of the spiritual war that is taking place in a person’s spirit, that affects his mind and soul, it’s not as simple as: “Ok, let’s see, eternal damnation behind door #1 or eternal bliss behind door #2? I’ll take door #2, Monte! Believe me, I was under the conviction of the Spirit literally dozens of times and picked door #1 dozens of times because I irrationally convinced myself each time that I didn’t need God. Or I could choose him another time. Or, I just chose to distract myself until God ceased to convict me. Your scenario seems to assume that the devil gives up when God opens a person’s eyes to his condition. On the contrary, he doubles his efforts. Again, to state that all men will choose right, tells me that you are still unable to divorce preveniant grace from your concept of irresistible grace. I’m convinced that I could have continued to reject God and choose selfishness, which ironically, always ends in misery, even in this life. Which brings me to another point. I don’t think choosing Christ mainly to get a “get out of hell free” card is a very stable foundation for a lifetime commitment. Many pastors tried to literally scare the hell out of us. ( I went to a Christian school with a lot of old fashioned fire and brimstones pastors on chapel day.) The kids who got saved under that kind of preaching often strayed and had a roller coaster relationship with God. It is better to choose Christ for Himself then for the fringe benefits.

    I remember hearing a pastor say once that when you are convicted and choose not to respond, that you should thank the Holy Spirit for His prompting, because He is not obligated to keep convicting you. He is only obligated to give you one chance. I would actually do this in my mind and heart each time after that when I refused to accept His offer. I feel that this kept me from becoming hard hearted toward God, and I hope to thank that pastor for his wise advice when I meet him in heaven.

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “When you factor in the reality of the spiritual war that is taking place in a person’s spirit, that affects his mind and soul,…”

      All you say by this is that a person’s “free” will can be compromised. That is what the Calvinists say. The will of the unbeliever has been compromised so that he no longer has a “free” will. You are arguing the Calvinist position with you as the example. Had God made you free – pulling you out of the spiritual war – you would have chosen salvation sooner. Instead, God let Satan toy with you for a while. I suspect God did this so that you would recognize that your dependence on God never stops as Satan is always asking God for permission to sift you.

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  15. Lol, no I didn’t say that my free will or anyone else’s was compromised. It’s precisely because of free will that we can choose whose influence to follow. Under you assumption of how God woks, He’s really just playing both sides of the board and all spiritual warfare is just God messing with us. God never pulls us out of the war until heaven. Why not just admit that you really don’t have any such thing as free will in your doctrine?

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “It’s precisely because of free will that we can choose whose influence to follow.”

      Technically, if we “follow” some influence, that influence then becomes the determiner of our choice. I don’t think you mean that.

      The idea behind fee will is that a person considers all the information he has and makes a decision that is consistent with that information. In the choice between eternal life and eternal death, the person reasons that one choice provides some “good” and the other does not. He understands that there is a great gulf between the two. His reasons that there is no basis to choose eternal death. It is God who frees a person to reason like this. Even you now reason like this. As Colossians tells you, “God rescued you from the dominion of darkness and brought you into the kingdom of the Son.” In doing that, God freed you to “hear” the gospel and once you heard the gospel, you easily accepted His salvation. Without God, you would still be in the dominion of darkness.

      We are born into the midst of a spiritual war and we grow up in the dominion of darkness. Until God removes us, we have no hope and our only hope (a hope that we are ignorant of) is that God will rescue us. Think of people born into Islam. Fortunate are those who have parents, friends, and even strangers praying for them.

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  16. Every time you claim to believe in LFW, you add a caveat that cancels out that free will. God’s rescue depends on faith. We do none of the work in salvation, but He will not force us to choose Him. You create a scenario where a person who has heard the gospel his entire life, knows it inside and out, is only still an unbeliever because God really doesn’t want him to be one. It’s a scenario where, when I was very close to surrendering and then Satan put a temptation in my path, I would have to say, no, God put that temptation there by moving Satan’s arm. This is dangerously close to dualism. God with a light and dark side. Star Wars, anyone?

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    1. wildswanderer writes, “You create a scenario where a person who has heard the gospel his entire life, knows it inside and out, is only still an unbeliever because God really doesn’t want him to be one.”

      The bottom line: We are saved by grace. If God does not free a person, the person cannot escape slavery. It is God who enables; the person quickly takes advantage of his new freedom.

      How can it be that a person “has heard the gospel his entire life, knows it inside and out” yet rejects eternal life unless Satan rules over him. It is only when God rescues a person from Satan’s dominion of darkness that the person sees clearly that his sin has doomed him – the result: he runs eagerly to Christ for salvation.

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  17. No, your bottom line is that God loves some and hates others, and only saves the ones he loves. Or, as John Piper has supposed, God has two wills, one that wants to save everyone and one that doesn’t. Dualism again.
    I think by now it is clear to all other participants that your definition of free will does not include the ability to make real choices. How can man choose to continue to be enslaved? The same way a Christian can choose to sin after experiencing freedom from sin. They both do what Adam did, they weigh the options and choose irrationally, because God has left that option open to them. Time for me to move on…I have other Calvinists to annoy. All in good fun, of course.

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    1. “No, your bottom line is that God loves some and hates others, and only saves the ones he loves.”

      “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

      “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

      God says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

      If God saves some but does not save all when it is within His power to save all, then those whom God does not save can say that God did not love them. God never said that He wanted to save each and every person; He did not even say that He would save all the Jews. God said that He would save His elect. Men make God to have two wills but God has one will.

      “I think by now it is clear to all other participants that your definition of free will does not include the ability to make real choices.”

      Clever, when it is you who deny people free will. But let the reader decide.

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      1. dizerner writes, “Since when did “free” mean you have “one” option, that makes no sense.”

        That a person has more than one option but one option stands out as the preferred choice does not negate the freedom with which a person chooses. A person coming inside after working several hours under a hot sun in a dusty environment may be offered several choices of liquids to quench his thirst, including water and hot coffee, and may be drawn to water as much as repulsed by hot coffee yet his choice is still free – He can choose either one. Similarly, with salvation, one is still free to choose between eternal life and eternal death even though he is attracted to life and repulsed by death. Freedom to choose does not negate differing appeal of the options available – a person does not have to be equally likely to choose A over B in order to be free, he just needs to have the option to choose any one over the other.

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      2. God does have two “wills” if we take the English word in the Scriptures and see the two original words that have been translated “will”. One means desire, and God does desire all to be saved (1Tim 4:4). He did not make all His love and hate choices before creation, for He did not will (plan) to bring into existence all the human individuals that would ever exist. He was able to, but He just didn’t.

        He left Himself the freedom to choose between possibilities after creation, even who could be born. But He did will (plan) that whoever was born would be brought to a place of repentance (2Pet 3:9), where they could make a free decision for or against His offer of salvation. What a wonderful, merciful, just God!

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      3. – God does desire all to be saved and we are to understand that “all” means “not the Jew only but the gentile also.” This is the great declaration of John 3:16 – God loved the world (not just the Jews as Nicodemus would have thought) and a central theme of John – that salvation was for the gentiles as well as the Jews.

        – “He did not will (plan) to bring into existence all the human individuals that would ever exist. He was able to, but He just didn’t.” It is impossible for God not to have planned to do so. God is all wise; His understanding is infinite. It is impossible for God to be other than wise and to have less than infinite understanding. God cannot make a decision with regard to an event without knowing all the ramifications of that decision. When God decided to let Satan enter the garden to tempt Adam/Eve, He knew the outcome and had even planned for that outcome by already decreeing the death of Christ that would certainly come many years later. God also knew that He would expel Adam/Eve from the garden, that Cain would murder his brother, and that evil would multiply until He destroyed the world with the flood of Noah. If God could not know the ramifications of His decisions, he could not make decisions that reflected accurately His perfect wisdom or infinite understanding – in effect, He would not be God.

        – It is true that God “did will (plan) that whoever was born would be brought to a place of repentance (2Pet 3:9), where they could make a free decision for or against His offer of salvation.” It is also true that God knew who would be born and the decisions they would make. If not because God is all-wise and infinite in understanding, it is because God determines who is born (having the ability to open or shut the womb), it is God who sustains the life of every person so that a person does not die until the day God has decreed for their death; it is God who calls men to preach and directs their paths to this person or that. When an evangelist preaches at a church, we say that God has drawn those who attend while leaving many others outside pursuing their desires without hearing of salvation.

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      4. Hi Roger, God is all wise and does know all the ramifications of all His and man’s decisions. The Calvinist needs to explain what was the ratification that made God choose to predetermine all His and man’s choices before creation and then reveal in Scriptures that all His and man’s choices have not been predetermined?

        Why would God want to present Himself to most people in Scriptures as one freely interacting and showing salvation mercy to all mankind, but reveal His true plan to a few “smart” philosophical theologians?

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      5. brainwagner writes, “The Calvinist needs to explain what was the ratification that made God choose to predetermine all His and man’s choices before creation and then reveal in Scriptures that all His and man’s choices have not been predetermined? ”

        Or perhaps the person who thinks God has left the future unsettled needs to explain why the Scriptures present God as knowing the future and making decisions that necessarily must include the future to the extent that nothing is left unsettled.

        The Scriptures are very clear in saying that God does not purpose to save all people where we define “all” as meaning each and every individual. The Scriptures are clear in saying that God purposes to save all people where “all” is defined to mean “both the Jew and the gentile.” Maybe , those who think God wants to save “all” have a definition problem with the Scriptures.

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      6. Roger, Feel free to call me Brian! I know I am a brain! But that is compliment that is not necessary! 🙂 And typing from my phone in the morning and not proofreading is what caused my use of “ramification” to turn into “ratification”. Thank you for kindly overlooking my misspelling and assuming correctly what I meant.

        It was you who mentioned God’s knowledge of the ramifications of His decisions. I still await your naming one. But instead of offering a response to my challenge to suggest a reasonable ramification that made Him decide to predetermine all His choices, and man’s, forever, and then to provide Scripture that present things differently, you just return the challenge declaring – “Scriptures present God as knowing the future and making decisions that necessarily must include the future to the extent that nothing is left unsettled.”

        All the Scriptural conditional statements, invitations, universal commands, and statements of God’s post-creation decision making prove God NOT having predetermined all things. His revelation of any future detail in Scripture does guarantee those future details, but Roger, you know “some” does not guarantee “all” in logical reasoning. And all the things that I just mentioned logically preclude all the future as being predetermined.

        You then, I think, try to give one of the examples that you say “present God… making decisions that necessarily must include the future to the extent that nothing is left unsettled.” You point to – “the Scriptures are clear in saying that God purposes to save all people.” You intimate that this must be a predetermined set of individuals from before creation. Unfortunately you have only begged the question. God’s purpose, if open and conditional, would include a desire for all to be saved, but not a plan to force all to be saved, but a plan to provide a possibility of any to be saved. If God’s purpose is closed and unconditional, then of course, it would include a desire for a distributive “all” to be saved, and must include a plan to force just those in that limited “all” to be saved, with no plan to provide any possibility for anyone else bearing His image to be saved. That divine purpose is not in the Bible I am reading! I hope this helps.

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      7. brianwagner writes, “It was you who mentioned God’s knowledge of the ramifications of His decisions. I still await your naming one. But instead of offering a response to my challenge to suggest a reasonable ramification that made Him decide to predetermine all His choices, and man’s, forever, and then to provide Scripture that present things differently, you just return the challenge…”

        A good treatment of the issue of omniscience was prepared by Stephan Charnock. I’ll assume that you are familiar with it, maybe even have read it, but have not been impressed by it. On the other hand, I have been impressed by his effort. So, we will never agree on the issue of omniscience.

        That leaves those verses which appear to indicate that God has not determined all things. If God is omniscient as argued by Charnock, then God does know His will and knows it perfectly so He has determined what He will do and brings about that which he has determined in the course of time.

        Elsewhere, I think you, following others, purposely misrepresent the situation saying that God must “force” people to be saved. If by “force,” you mean something similar to that which God did to Paul on the road to Damascus or that Christ did in calling Lazarus from the tomb, then there is no problem. I get the impression that you do not – but why not?

        The definition of “all,” is important as you note above. While the Calvinists can point to Ephesians 3 and other verses noting the “Jew and gentile” purpose for the gospel, the non-Calvinist has yet to offer an argument for “all” to mean each and every person in the critical verses (at least, I am not aware of it being done but maybe you are and will share).

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      8. Good Morning Roger, So you decided to ignore my challenge again. The reader can decide if such a good “ramification” would actually exist that would cause God to choose to predetermine before creation all His and man’s choices forever. And you are welcome to stick with Charnock’s understanding of omniscience; though I choose what I believe defines omniscience is a logically consistent understanding that reflects Scripture’s revelation better.

        God did miraculously force Paul to freely face his rejection of the truth concerning Jesus’ Messiahship. God did miraculously force Lazarus to rise from the dead. Calvinists love to use unrelated illustrations to try to prove their theology at the expense of ignoring clear teaching passages of Scripture. Their theology is that man’s will does not want anything salvific from God. That would include, logically, that he does not want his will changed. But the Calvinist has to have God forcefully go against that will of man and change man’s will so that it will irresistibly accept God’s salvific efforts. “Force” is a very appropriate word, because man’s will has no alternative in the Calvinist’s view.

        I am sure Roger, you and I have gone over the passages where the context deals with the word “all”. My age prevents me from remembering exactly which post!  Those uses of “all” would be taken by the normal first readers, without needing any outside definitions brought to it (necessitated by one’s theology), to indicate “all” has a universal meaning and not a distributive one (cf. John 1:9, Acts 17:30). But the best example is the universal meaning of “all” in 1Tim 4:4 and 6 is made clear by Paul’s universal meaning of that word “all” used four times in the previous three verses.

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      9. brianwagner writes, ” So you decided to ignore my challenge again.”

        I guess that means I don’t understand the challenge. What is the challenge and how do I respond to it to your satisfaction?

        Also, “…the Calvinist has to have God forcefully go against that will of man and change man’s will so that it will irresistibly accept God’s salvific efforts. “Force” is a very appropriate word, because man’s will has no alternative in the Calvinist’s view.”

        Even the non-Calvinist requires that God forcefully go against the will of man. I think everyone pretty much agrees that the initial condition of the unsaved is that “none seeks God.” Thus, the preaching of the gospel (with God calling people to preach and putting on their hearts those to whom their are to preach) forces itself onto the will of the unsaved and forcefully causes them to consider things that they would not otherwise consider in their unsaved desires.

        The issue is the degree to which God is involved in the salvation of any person. At the least, the Calvinists and Arminians say that God must enable a person to believe – which I see you defining as God forcing Himself on the unwilling sinner – that the person has options to accept or reject does not negate the initial force required to give the person those options. Except for the Pelagians, does anyone exclude the initial action by God to force a change on the unsaved to cause them to consider their need for salvation? Isn’t the issue generally one of degree of force required and not force alone?

        Regarding the definition of “all,” the issue is where to condition the context of its meaning. Even you allow that the definition of “all” in v4;6 (chap 2 rather than 4) is derived from the earlier uses. We can go back to Ephesians 3 for context – and thereby establish consistency across Paul’s writings – that is one exegetical methodology to follow. One may also exegete a passage withing itself without regard to that which one reads in other letters/passages. If one is consistent in doing this across the board on any issue, two unique theologies will arise. In the end, your complaint is with the exegetical methodology (i.e., systematic) followed by the Calvinists. Let’s recognize this.

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      10. Hi Roger, I hope this clarifies the challenge.

        You said – God cannot make a decision with regard to an event without knowing all the ramifications of that decision.
        I said – The Calvinist needs to explain what the ramification was that made God choose to predetermine all His and man’s choices before creation and then reveal in Scriptures that all His and man’s choices have not been predetermined?

        You did not explain such a ramification that would make God choose to be portrayed in Scriptures as so inconsistent with the reality of predeterminism as Calvinists see it.
        You said – “Even the non-Calvinist requires that God forcefully go against the will of man.”

        I will concede that God does guarantee to present to every man’s head the enlightenment (Jn 1:9) that is needed and to every man’s heart the conviction (Jn 16:7-8) that is needed, even though his will does want those things initially, at least not for the right reasons. That could be called, perhaps, a forcing of divine opportunity upon a person, presented to enable the will to make a free choice for or against God’s saving grace. But it is not a forcing of an obstinate will to change coercively without prior enlightenment or conviction and providing a free response-able choice to change itself (repent) to receive God’s grace.

        You are correct that our disagreement over the meaning of “all” in 1Tim 2:4 and 6 is one of exegetical methodology. The reader can decide if local context can sufficiently determine the meaning of “all” as universal in 1Tim 2:1-6 or whether a theological concept from an outside passage should make this word “all” distributive instead of universal. Certainly God is going to make sure that representation of both Jews and Gentiles and even every tribe will be in glory. (I personally believe that this will also be accomplished including the salvation of infants who have perished in infancy). But the correct hermeneutic is that local context determination of meaning trumps theological eisegesis. In fact, all the “all’s” in Eph 3 appear to be universal in meaning also. The distributive meaning is rare, though it does exist in Scripture, but the Calvinist certainly would not want it to be used in one of his favorite passages – Eph. 1:11! 🙂

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      11. brianwagner writes, “The Calvinist needs to explain what the ramification was that made God choose to predetermine all His and man’s choices before creation and then reveal in Scriptures that all His and man’s choices have not been predetermined?”

        I think that is the wrong question for the Calvinist, but we will work with it.

        Charnock has done a sound analysis on omniscience. He focuses on one verse, “God’s understanding is infinite” – Psalm 147.

        Understanding encompasses knowledge and “infinite” understanding must include complete/perfect knowledge. We agree, I think, that God has a perfect knowledge of the past and present so God has perfect understanding of everything that happened in the past and of that which happens in the present. The question is whether “infinite” understanding requires a perfect knowledge of the future.

        Understanding requires a knowledge of the future ramifications/impacts of present actions. So any action God takes in present time – e.g., impregnating Mary – by His infinite understanding, He knows all that comes in the future because of this action. For any action taken by God, infinite understanding tells us that God knows all the future ramifications/impacts of whatever action he takes. So, starting at the beginning, “God created the heavens and the earth; God created man.” Infinite understanding tells us that God had knowledge of everything after that action and following as a consequence of that action.

        If the above is not true, then we must be mistaken about the meaning of “infinite” understanding.

        So, your question, “what the ramification was that made God choose to predetermine all His and man’s choices before creation.” In other words, what action did God take made God choose to determine all His and man’s choices? That action was God’s decision to create the heavens and the earth. When God decided to create, He had infinite understanding – and perfect knowledge – of all that would follow after that creation. We might use the analogy of a line of dominoes. Once God sent the first domino falling into the next, He knew the final outcome because it was all before Him.

        It is the concept of “infinite understanding” that necessitates that God have perfect knowledge of the future.

        As to your second question, “…and then reveal in Scriptures that all His and man’s choices have not been predetermined?” Given that infinite understanding cannot be separated from a perfect knowledge of the future, the only explanation is that you have misunderstood those Scriptures that you read to say that some events in the future are undetermined.

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      12. Good morning Roger. If God with His infinite understanding did not have to determine to create, then logically it can not be a necessity that when He does determine to create He does not have to determine everything in that creation. Your implication does not follow necessarily but only as a possibility because of God’s freedom of will working with His infinite understanding. If creation was only a possibility in God’s infinite understanding and the it became a determination within God’s infinite understanding, then it follows that other things can now be just possibilities within God’s infinite understanding only later to become determinations after God’s and man’s free interaction.

        The Scripture reflect this reality in its normal reading, with the future already partly determined and partly with open possibilities, all understood within God’s infinite understanding. I hope this helps.

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      13. I don’t think your logic is sound. Once God makes any decision e.g., the decision to create the universe – He has an infinite understanding of all that will happen once He creates the universe and therefore a perfect knowledge of whatever His understanding encompasses – necessarily, this understanding includes a perfect knowledge of all future events following His creating. I think you must disagree at this point to pursue your conclusion.

        Is it possible for God might not determine everything in that creation? Infinite understanding says No. God’s infinite understanding encompasses an understanding of His will for that creation. As God should not be thought to create without purpose, His understanding of His purpose for creating is perfect. In the mind of God everything is understood and His freedom of will expressed fully both in its freedom and that which God wills and this is in His understanding.

        Let’s review some things God decides. It is God who opens or closes the womb, thus no person is born except God determines that they should be born. God understands – thus knows – how every person’s life and every decision a person makes fits His purposes. It is God who sustains the life of the person and a person only dies when God withholds life thereby calling the person to stand before Him. Thus, God’s understanding of the place any person has within His purposes includes a perfect knowledge of that person’s life.

        To say that God does not determine everything in His creation is to deny His sovereignty – what is there that God does not determine and in what sense can we say that God does not determine? Can God not “know” what he will do if He has infinite understanding? Can God not “know” what people will decide if He has infinite understanding? If God does not “know” what people will decide or what He decides, then He cannot be said to have infinite understanding nor could we say that God is omniscient.

        The only sound conclusion that we can draw is that God has an infinite understanding and this precludes God not knowing and determining all things. Your interpretation of certain passages in the Bible to conclude that God has not determined all things can only reflect a wrong understanding of those passages – one that conflicts with the Biblical teaching that God has infinite understanding. At least, you don’t explain how God can have infinite understanding without also having determined all things.

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      14. So are you saying, Roger, that God’s infinite wisdom only knew human creation as a predetermination from all eternity and not just as a possibility that He then freely chose to make a determination? If so, wouldn’t that make human creation an eternal necessity?

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      15. OK, now you are deflecting and not saying anything substantive regarding God’s “infinite understanding.” That’s fine so long as you know that you have no real counter argument to deal with infinite understanding – your position does not work with infinite understanding. I have yet to read anyone who really takes Charnock head-on, so I don’t see you getting help from others on this. If you find something, let me know.

        Creation was a possibility until Genesis 1; then, creation became an actuality from beginning to end – that is the effect of infinite understanding and that is the way the Calvinist approaches it.

        I diverge from those who make everything God knows an eternal necessity. I think we have to allow God to have an original thought just because He is a free being/entity – as impossible as that may seem; after all what could God really think that He had not already thought?

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      16. I like to think so. However, even an original thought is accompanied by infinite understanding, so once God acts on a thought it is defined fully. So, let’s say that God had an original thought to create the universe. Once God actually decides to create, then that universe is determined fully from beginning to end because God does not create without purpose and that purpose would be carried out. Thus, we would not have God creating the universe and then changing His purpose – by an original thought – as that would invalidate His infinite understanding.

        The Bible does not really address the issue of God having an original thought, so I think we are on shaky ground trying conceive of how it might work with God and then trying to build something on it.

        But, again, you deflect. I take that to mean that you have never read anything to counter Charnock’s argument for omniscience based on infinite understanding and how it proves God’s omniscience of even future events. If you run across anything, let me know. Omniscience seems to be the toughest issue for the non-Calvinist, and I can see why you have concluded – similar to the Open Theists – that God cannot be allowed to know the future if one is to develop a viable theology to counter Calvinism.

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