Does 1 Corinthians 2 Support Calvinism?

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement of the notable Calvinistic author, John Piper:

The manual of operation for the Christian wartime mentality is the Bible. It was inspired and authorized by the Commander, and contains all the truth needed to win people over from the enemy camp, deprogram their old thought patterns, train them in strategies of righteousness, and equip them with armor and weapons to defeat Satan and liberate his captives” (2 Timothy 3:16–17; Ephesians 6:10–19). (from the sermon titled: “How the Spirit Helps Us Understand”)

However, I disagree with Piper’s further assertion regarding the insufficiency of the inspired word of God to provide the help needed for the lost to respond willingly to its appeals and instructions. Piper goes on explain the dilemma very eloquently from the Calvinistic perspective:

“The manual is one of a kind. The Communists had their Manifesto. The Maoists had their Little Red Books. The Muslims have their Koran. But only the Bible contains the writings taught not by human wisdom but by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:13). Only the Bible reveals “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The Christian manual of operation is unique because it reveals “the things of the Spirit of God”—things from God that man can’t find out on his own, things that are often very foreign to our way of thinking. And therein lies a great problem.

I want to talk about that problem today and how God works by his Holy Spirit to overcome it. The problem is described in 1 Corinthians 2:14. “The unspiritual man does not receive (i.e., welcome) the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” The NASB gives a more literal rendering when it says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The problem is: what good is a manual of operation that can’t be understood by ordinary people? If the Bible reveals the “things of God” and the natural man is not able to understand them because they are spiritually appraised, then how will this book ever be able to win anyone over to God’s side?”

Are you following the problem as the Calvinist sees it? The Christian manual cannot be understood and accepted by the lost, but the Koran and the other lies of false religions can. False teachings are believable to the natural man but the truth of scripture is not. Why not?

According to the Calvinistic system of interpretation, all of humanity is born in such a condition (by God’s unchangeable eternal decree) where by they can read all the books offered up by the false religions of the world and accept them as truth, put their trust in their lies, and even affirm them as being divinely authored. But, mankind is born incapable of accepting or affirming the claims of Christianity unless causally determined to do so by irresistible spiritual means. And this is how God decreed it to be. As Piper puts it, “…what the natural man can’t understand is the heart of the Christian message.”

So, in Calvinism, if you are one of God’s “elect” then you will be effectually or irresistibly given a new nature at some point in your life where by you will be granted the ability and willingness to accept the claims of Christianity and place your trust in Christ (something you will be irresistibly compelled to desire as in accordance with your new nature). If you are not one of the “elect” you will remain in a condition of inability from the time you are born to the time you die so that you can not ever willingly accept the inspired and glorious truths of Christianity. The “non-elect” (reprobate) are rejected by God from before creation and have absolutely no opportunity or ability to willingly accept the truths of God’s inspired and gracious revelation. These “non-elect reprobates” will spend eternity suffering in eternal torment for reasons they had absolutely no control over and this is all decreed by God so as to bring Himself the most amount of glory.

The question for consideration is this: “Does the apostle Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 support this Calvinistic premise?”

Piper verbalized the problem well when he asked, What good is a manual of operation that can’t be understood by ordinary people?” This is a very good question indeed, especially given the many passages of scripture that speak directly to the power and sufficiency of God’s inspired word (Jn. 20:31, Heb. 4:12, Rm. 10:17, 2 Tim. 3:16, Rm. 1:16, Acts 20:32, 1 Pet. 1:23, Is. 55:11, Ps. 19:7-8, Heb. 1:1, Jn. 6:63).

Even if we concede the debate over the nature of man and affirm with our Calvinistic brethren that all are born completely unable to willingly come to Christ on their own, does this concession end the debate over Total Inability? No.

The question is whether or not the nature of the GOSPEL, God’s inspired Word, is sufficient to enable a fallen man to respond to its appeal. Focusing only on the nature of man ignores this question. Is the WORD of God, that which brought everything into existence, sufficiently powerful to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent?

I think we all would agree that God’s word is sufficient to accomplish its purpose, but the question is, “What is that purpose?”

Why did God have these inspired truths recorded for us and spread throughout the world? Why did He inspire the writing of this “manual of operation?” Let’s allow the inspired apostle John to answer that question for us:

“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

The purpose for the “written” manual of operation is so “that you may believe.” So, do you believe that God’s purpose in having these inspired truths written have returned to Him void? I do not.

Though I disagree with his answer, Piper continues to frame the problem by asking another very good question:

“If the Bible reveals the ‘things of God’ and the natural man is not able to understand them because they are spiritually appraised, then how will this book ever be able to win anyone over to God’s side?”

The Calvinistic response to this question was already presented above. In short, the nature of the gospel, according to the Calvinist, is not sufficient to enable a lost man to respond willingly to its appeals or instructions. Therefore, according to the Calvinistic interpretation, God has to irresistibly change the nature of man so as to give the gospel sufficiency. In other words, God has to “reconcile” [fix] the nature of the fallen man in order to enable the fallen man to even respond willingly to the appeal of God to be reconciled from that fallen condition. This most certainly is putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

What was Paul’s intention in 1 Cor. 2? Have Calvinists simply misunderstood the point of the passage? Let’s take a closer look.

It is absolutely impossible to rightly interpret Paul’s intention of 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 without first having a firm grasp on the concept of “wisdom” in the Greek culture. Paul uses a form of the word “wisdom” twenty six times in just the first three chapters. Needless to say, the apostle’s theme is overwhelming.

The mistake of many Calvinists is to presume this passage is a contrast between the abilities of the “regenerate” and the “unregenerate,” or the “natural man” versus the “spiritual man.” In actuality, the contrast is between “human wisdom” and “divine revelation.”[1]

Obviously Paul felt the inspired scriptures were sufficient to grant mankind the understanding for salvation, as he wrote to Timothy:

“…from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:15-16)

The Calvinist begins on the wrong footing when he reads the phrase, “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,” and assumes that man’s “unregenerate” nature determined his assessment in such a way that he could not have deemed it otherwise. God does not determine the man to deem His own word as foolish. That is the free choice of those depending on “human wisdom” versus those depending on the spiritually wrought truth of “divine revelation.”

Besides Calvinists beginning with an unfounded assumption, their interpretation places the culpability back onto their Maker. Consider the claims of Calvinism; God decreed for fallen man to be born incapable of assessing His own word as anything other than “foolish” and then are made to “perish” as a result. This is NOT the intention of Paul in this or any passage. His intention is to say that those who rely on human wisdom instead of the spiritual truths brought by the inspired apostles will see the cross as foolish and perish as a result.

Paul’s overarching concern in this passage is to make a case for true wisdom as held in contrast with the “wisdom of the wise” (1:19), the “wisdom of this world,” (1:20; 3:19), or the carnal “wisdom of men” (2:5). The Greeks boasted in their wisdom and Paul is providing them a spiritually inspired warning by teaching them what true divine wisdom looks like. That wisdom is contained in the gospel revelation (1:24, 30; 2:7). And there is nothing about that revelation that is insufficient in enabling a willing response (Rm. 1:16). Those who ignore the apostle’s warning are not to be thought of as victims of God’s unchangeable decree, as we must conclude if the claims of Calvinism are true. No, anyone who chooses to trade the clearly revealed truth in for lies stands as a fool “without excuse” (Rom. 1:20; Ps. 14:1)

Once a clear distinction is drawn between the wisdom of the world and heaven’s wisdom, Paul moves on to speak of “the deep things of God” (vs. 10). Just as you cannot know what is in my mind unless I reveal it, so too, no one can access the “deep things of God” unless these mysteries are made known by His Spirit. What does the scripture tell us is the means employed to help us understand the depth of God’s spiritual mysteries?

Paul expounds in Ephesians 3:1-10:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you;that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief.By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christwhich in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spiritto be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 

Clearly, the means by which God assists mankind to understand the deep mysteries of spiritual truth is by inspiration of chosen messengers. As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 2:13, “…we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

The Holy Spirit revealed mysteries to “His holy apostles and prophets” and in turn they write down “insight into the mystery of Christ” and “preach to the nations” so that the “wisdom of God might now be made known.” There is absolutely nothing in all of scripture that even remotely suggests that humanity is unable to willingly respond to this gracious Holy Spirit wrought truth of divine revelation! The Koran and the book of Mormon are NOT more believable than the Bible, God’s holy word!

Now, lets focus on the key passage of this debate: First Corinthians 2:14 reads as follows:

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 

Simply put, this can be taken in one of two ways:

Calvinistic Meaning: “The reprobate, who has not be irresistibly regenerated by the Spirit, cannot accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for God has unchangeably decreed that revealed truth (apostles teaching, scripture) will only be seen as foolish to him.” (God is ultimately responsible for man’s unbelief)

Non-Calvinistic Meaning: “The man who freely chooses not to accept the things that come from the Spirit of God (apostles teaching, scripture, etc), but freely deem them as foolish, cannot understand spiritual truth, because those are the means of spiritual revelation.” (Man is responsible for his own unbelief)

The understanding of 1 Cor. 2:14 becomes very simple when we answer the first question posed by this verse, “Why won’t the natural man accept the things that come from the Spirit of God?”

  • Because God so determined it

or

  • Because the man freely chose the wisdom of the world over the wisdom being revealed by spiritually wrought means (apostles, scriptures, etc)?

We believe Paul is saying that the “natural man” is one who will not accept the wisdom from the Spirit of God, because he himself considers these things to be foolish by HIS OWN FREE CHOICE, NOT GOD’S DETERMINATION. Therefore, he is incapable of ever understanding spiritual things unless and until he turns from human wisdom and accepts the wisdom being revealed by the spirit through His chosen means (apostles, scriptures, etc).

How can any man really understand something he has already deemed foolish in his heart? He cannot. Those who rely upon the wisdom of this age over and above the clear revelation of the Spirit cannot begin to understand the deep truths of God. This message seems to be the clear intention of the apostle.

The following verses support this line of reasoning as Paul goes on to confront the carnal brethren in Corinth as likewise being unable to receive these same “deep things of God” due to their carnality (3:1-3). The clear implication is that these believer’s choices to live carnally, just like the unbelievers choices to deem God’s word as foolish, is the root cause of their inability to accept and understand spiritual truth (the apostle’s teaching). The believer’s carnality, like the unbeliever’s rejection of God’s word, is a result of their own choosing, not of God’s determination. It is the responsibility of the believer to turn from carnality so as to receive spiritual meat of God’s word, just as it is the unbeliever’s responsibility to turn from fleshy wisdom when confronted by the Holy Spirit wrought truth of the gospel, “the power of God unto salvation” (Rm. 1:16).

—————————————-

[1] https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/643-who-is-the-natural-man-in-1-corinthians-2-14

*When the term “freely” is used we mean: Contra-causal free will, which is the ability of a morally accountable agent to refrain or not refrain from any given moral action.

162 thoughts on “Does 1 Corinthians 2 Support Calvinism?

  1. I’m glad you dealt with this important proof text Calvinists try to use! It was great that you tied in the Corinthians Greek mindset to elevate man’s wisdom, or as we would say today, philosophy tied to empirical science, over divine revelation through divinely chosen messengers.

    The confusion is heightened in my view by the addition of a pronoun, them, to the infinitive, to know. It would be normal to have the clause following that infinitive be indirect discourse – “he is unable to know that they are spiritually discerned.”

    James 2:20 has the same infinite, indirect discourse clause combination. This change in 1Cor. 2:14 takes away the notion that someone functioning from only a soulish, natural, viewpoint is unable to come to know anything from the Spirit of God. It just, means, as you have pointed out so well Leighton, that from the natural perspective they can not recognize when the information is from the Spirit.

    As you know, I believe God directly makes it plain at some point to everyone through enlightenment and conviction that the information is from Him, and when they hear His voice they should not harden their heart!

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  2. above writes:
    The believer’s carnality, like the unbeliever’s rejection of God’s word, is a result of their own choosing, not of God’s determination.

    Exactly. Paul definitely did not remove the ability of an autonomous response to revelation by saying the natural man cannot appraise spiritual things. People seemed to forget Paul applied this very passage, not to the unsaved, but to the Corinthians themselves (lol). Take a look at 1 Cor 3:1:

    And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. (1Co 3:1 NAS)

    Shall we then say, according to Calvinism, that believers as well have a sin nature decreed by God such that they cannot choose, of their own free will, to be “men of flesh” or to be “spiritual men”? Yet Paul constantly presents being a person of the flesh or spirit as a choice believers can make with real world consequences, not as a choice God makes for believers and then they cannot fight or resist God’s decree to make them sin or to make them holy. Paul says to these Corinthians:

    for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, (1Co 3:2 NAS)

    But why?

    3 for you are still fleshly. (1Co 3:3 NAS)

    Was this something the Corinthians could help or not? Why would Paul reprimand them for something Paul himself thought they couldn’t help doing? Obviously Paul thought they had chosen and decided to be something they didn’t have to be—fleshly.

    For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (1Co 3:3 NAS)

    Are we then to argue, according to Calvinism, that these Corinthians were reprobate and their total inability and depravity forced them to walk like “mere men” with no “response-ability,” no ability to change or decide to be spiritual men? At this point we can see the whole dichotomy of “spirit versus flesh” or the “natural man versus the spiritual man” or the “old man versus the new creation” are something that, once we know the truth, we thereafter have a choice about whether to walk in and apply that truth. But we should keep reading! Where in the end, does Paul lay the blame?

    18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish that he may become wise. (1Co 3:18 NAS)

    Let no man… be deceived by his total depravity by God’s election? Paul says “let no man *deceive himself*.” Wow. How does that fit in with Calvinist’s version of total inability? Paul directly says that any man who thinks he is wise, has the ability here, to “become foolish” by humbling himself to the Gospel message, so that he can “become wise,” or else the man is deceived, not by God nor by Satan, but by himself! Paul goes on later again and again to apply this message as something the Corinthians can respond to or not respond to:

    14 I do not write these things to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. (1Co 4:14 NAS)

    16 I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me. (1Co 4:16 NAS)

    21 What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness? (1Co 4:21 NAS)

    Here is not a hint that the Corinthians response is unconditionally predetermined by the election of God, but rather it is truly up to them to become a natural or spiritual man. Here we have Paul presenting to them the finished work of Christ, but telling them that now the ball is in their court and they must do something about it:

    7 Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. (1Co 5:7 NAS)

    above writes:
    His intention is to say that those who rely on human wisdom instead of the spiritual truths brought by the inspired apostles will see the cross as foolish and perish as a result.

    Excellently stated.

    above writes:
    There is absolutely nothing in all of scripture that even remotely suggests that humanity is unable to willingly respond to this gracious Holy Spirit wrought truth of divine revelation! The Koran and the book of Mormon are NOT more believable than the Bible, God’s holy word!

    Well, people are described as in spiritual darkness and under the deception and power of Satan until the Gospel and Holy Spirit reach them—but being in darkness does not remove the free will, they simply cannot respond to something they don’t know about, which is exactly what Paul said, “And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” (Rom 10:14 NAS) So just as Paul’s obvious implied answer is “they can’t,” so is Paul obviously implying that once they hear, they always “can.”

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  3. I am not sure that Pastor Flowers has really fleshed out the issue. He writes–

    1. “Why won’t the natural man accept the things that come from the Spirit of God?”
    • Because God so determined it, or
    • Because the man freely chose the wisdom of the world over the wisdom being revealed by spiritually wrought means (apostles, scriptures, etc)?”

    Under Calvinism, what has God determined? – That “man be able to freely chose the wisdom of the world over the wisdom being revealed by spiritually wrought means (apostles, scriptures, etc).” Calvinism agrees with Pastor Flowers in saying that people freely choose to reject the gospel. God has determined/decreed/decided that natural man be free to reject the gospel.

    So, the issue is not just whether people can freely choose to reject the gospel on their own (everyone agrees that they can and thereby do so) but also whether people can freely choose to accept the gospel without help from God. Why do some people accept the things that come from the spirit of God when so many others do not – What makes them different?

    Paul tells us.

    Paul begins 1 Corinthians1 by assuming this difference. Paul writes, “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved (to those whom God has called) it is the power of God (and the wisdom of God.)”(v18;24) How do some people come to be described as “those who are being saved”? It is because they are “those God has called.” In Romans 8, Paul adds, “…those God predestined, God also called; those God called, God also justified…”

    The gospel is preached to people already divided into two different groups: those who are perishing and those who are being saved. The preaching of the gospel is not the means whereby those hearing the gospel are then separated into these two groups.

    In 1 Corinthians, Paul begins with two different groups of people. Paul explains how these groups differ in their reaction to the preaching of the gospel. It is only by ignoring the context in 1 Corinthians that Pastor Flowers is able to advance the argument that the preaching of the gospel divides people into the two groups – those perishing and those being saved.

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  4. Brother Leighton,

    “Therefore, according to the Calvinistic interpretation, God has to IRRESISTIBLY CHANGE THE NATURE of man so as to give the gospel sufficiency. In other words, God has to ‘reconcile’ or FIX THE NATURE OF THE FALLEN MAN in order to enable the fallen man to even respond willingly to the appeal of God to be reconciled from that fallen condition.”

    Now compare that with prominent (classical) Arminian Roger Olson…..

    “‘Total depravity’ simply means that there is no spiritual good useful for salvation and developing a strong relationship with God in any person born of Adam’s race (except Christ) that is not a super-added gift of God. With Calvinists I can affirm that we are all spiritually dead apart from supernatural grace, but I add only that 1) even the spiritually dead possess the formal image of God, and 2) supernatural grace HEALS THAT DEADNESS so that sinners can at least make a decision to repent and trust in God and Christ or not.”

    Now the Calvinist and the (classical) Arminian might disagree regarding HOW the issue of TD is resolved, but make no mistake, both firmly believe the issue must be fixed before a lost sinner can come to saving faith. And, as you say, “this most certainly is putting the proverbial cart before the horse.”

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    1. With Calvinism it’s not a “partial” prevenient grace enabling a decision, but a full and complete regeneration done irresistibly. Olson is not saying someone has to be born again to accept Christ, yet it would seem this is virtually what Calvinism teaches.

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      1. Which is why I stated “the Calvinist and the (classical) Arminian might disagree regarding HOW the issue of TD is resolved….”.

        However, both the Calvinist and classical Arminian embrace some form of “irresistible grace”. For the Calvinist, the goal of IG is to ensure the lost sinner will respond favorably to the gospel. For the classical Arminian, the goal is to bring the lost sinner to a point where, according to Olson, he can “at least make a decision to repent and trust in God and Christ or not.” While the goal of IG is different for the Calvinist and classical Arminian, this goal is irresistibly achieved.

        Regardless, this “fixing” of the fallen nature of man, however it is accomplished, is “putting the proverbial cart before the horse.”

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      2. Here is a condensed version of 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.

        +++
        The message of the cross is:
        – foolishness to those who are perishing, but
        – to those who are being saved it is the power of God.

        In the wisdom of God, the world [those who are perishing] through its wisdom did not know him, but God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe [those who are being saved].

        [Of those who are perishing,] Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,…

        …but to those whom God has called [those who are being saved], both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
        +++

        Paul touches on the depravity of those who are perishing by describing their “wisdom” by which they reject the gospel. Those who are attracted to Christ by the preaching of the gospel are those whom God has called and because they are being saved, the preaching of the gospel works effectively in them.

        You say, ‘Regardless, this “fixing” of the fallen nature of man…is “putting the proverbial cart before the horse.”

        How is this so? Paul tells us that those who is being saved are those who are called by God. It would seem that God does “fix” something through His calling that results in a positive response to the gospel. If this is putting the cart before the horse, what, in your thinking, is the cart and what is the horse?

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      3. But… under Arminian sinners are irresistibly enabled to be able to resist… how does that make sense? The point of the word “irresistibe” is to say there is no possibility for resisting. Remember that old Borg saying, “resistance is futile?” That’s the only time you can say irresistible. I mean, people are forced to choose, in the sense they have no choice about making a choice, however no one would say that then means they have no choice simply because they have to choose. It’s applying the word recursively back onto itself resulting in a loss of meaning of the original word.

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      4. dizerner writes, “But… under Arminian sinners are irresistibly enabled to be able to resist… how does that make sense?”

        What is it that irresistible grace does? It does several things but one of those things is to convey Libertarian Free Will to the depraved person. That freedom of will was lost when Adam sinned and people became slaves to sin having no inclination toward God. When a depraved person hears the gospel preached, it is only foolishness to him. Through His grace God restores LFW to the person. Now when the person hears the gospel preached, he considers what is said and has the ability to choose whether to accept it. The person was irresistibly enabled to hear the gospel. He does not resist that enabling of LFW – he applies that enabling of LFW to accept or resist the gospel.

        Prevenient grace to the Arminian is enabling grace – an enabling that allows a person to consider the claims of the gospel. The person does not resist the enabling – it is irresistible – he applies that enabling to choose to accept or resist the gospel.

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      5. Dizerner,

        You must understand that Phillip denies depravity and for whatever reasons he cannot stand both calvinists and Arminians in their belief that grace is necessary before a person can come to faith in Christ. So he tries repeatedly and unsucessfully to lump Calvinists and Arminians together, as if they hold the same views when they do not.

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      6. Dizerner,

        Robert, the Closet Arminian, is an ungracious, un-loving brother in Christ. He is incapable of interacting with others who might disagree with him about anything. He was banned at SBC Today earlier this year for that very reason, and yet, the Closet Arminian is already on record at this website for referring to other brothers in Christ as “a theological bigot” and “Calvinist troll”.

        You might have some Arminian beliefs that you commonly share with him, but I pray you don’t share his character or demeanor.

        God bless, brother.

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    2. Phillip is back again, to promote his view that no grace is necessary for a person to come to faith in Christ.

      He quotes the common calvinist position that a person must be regenerated first in order to believe (i.e. so the irresistible grace is a person being chosen to be regenerated with this regeneration then causing them to have faith in Christ). He quotes Olson as representative of the Arminian position that a person must a person must have some sort of preconversion grace in order to be enabled (but not necessitated) to believe. The common denominator of both (which Phillip denies, which is why he at times appears to advocate some sort of Pelagian or semi-Pelagian view) is that a person must have some grace from God before they are converted. Note Phillip speaks of “both firmly believe the issue must be fixed before a lost sinner can come to saving faith.” Apparently Phillip denies this, so his position is that nothing needs to be fixed (cf. a denial of depravity) and no grace is necessary for a person to come to saving faith.

      While I disagree with the Calvinist’s conception of depravity and their view that regeneration must occur before the person can believe. I do believe that some sort of grace is necessary for a person to come to saving faith.

      In my thinking, this preconversion (or if you prefer “prevenient”) grace, I really don’t care what you call it, is the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit who enables but does not necessitate a faith response. Without that preconversion work of the Spirit no one could understand the gospel when it is proclaimed to them, they would not be convicted of their own sin, not know who Jesus is, not know that He is the only way of salvation, etc. As this work of the Spirit is not deserved or earned it is properly described as grace from God. As it occurs before a person is saved it is preconversion or prevenient. This work of the Spirit while necessary for the person to be capable of believing can nevertheless (contrary to calvinists) be resisted. Hence it is also referred to as “resistible grace”. As a friend of mine puts it: it enables but does not necessitate a faith response. It makes a faith response possible, but the person can also resist this work of the Spirit and remain unsaved. If they continue to resist the Spirit over their entire lifetime they will end up eternally separated from God.

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  5. Leighton,

    You said, “Therefore, according to the Calvinistic interpretation, God has to irresistibly change the nature of man so as to give the gospel sufficiency…”

    1) Actually, it isn’t that God’s action toward us is required to give the gospel sufficiency; it’s that *only the gospel is sufficient to enact this irresistible change of nature* (Ephesians 2:1-5). Big difference. God *uses the gospel* to quicken men (Romans 1:16). Ironically, it is the freedom of man that truly makes the gospel “insufficient”. It is rather the non-Calvinists who find themselves under your indictment – I would rephrase the quote above, “according to the non-Calvinistic interpretation, man has to freely choose Christ so as to give the gospel sufficiency.”

    You said, “…In other words, God has to ‘reconcile’ or fix the nature of the fallen man in order to enable the fallen man to even respond willingly to the appeal of God to be reconciled from that fallen condition.”

    2) How else do you propose we fix the nature of fallen men?

    Other things could be said, but I just hoped to provoke some further thought.

    Respectfully,
    RL

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    1. Robert writes, “…it’s that *only the gospel is sufficient to enact this irresistible change of nature”…”

      This is what Phillip argues (if I understand his position).

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  6. I pointed out to Dizerner that Phillip has some sort of unexplained extreme dislike for both calvinists and Arminians in regard to their belief that grace is necessary before a person can come to faith in Christ.

    This post by Phillip illustrates his antipathy perfectly. Those who know their theology know that the concept of “irresistible grace” is a CALVINIST CONCEPT not a concept held by Arminians and other non-Calvinists. Calvinists as theological determinists believe that a person who comes to faith in Christ must be determined to do so. Because the Calvinist has a certain view of depravity in their thinking this condition cannot be overcome unless the person is necessitated into having faith. For many calvinists this necessitating factor that irresistibly causes the individual to have faith in Christ and so then be saved is regeneration. So for them, the person is regenerated first, this regeneration causes the person to have faith. As they cannot resist this form of grace, it is called “irresistible grace”. Non-Calvinists including Arminians believe that the preconversion grace of God that a person receives can and sometimes is resisted. So for anyone who is informed and properly educated in the theologies of calvinism and Arminianism knows that the calvinist posits irresistible grace and the Arminian does not. Arminians believe in free will and deny irresistible grace. This is common knowledge.

    Except for Phillip apparently.

    Phillip wants to ignore the standard usage of the term/concept irresistible grace and argue that contrary to what is commonly known, ARMINIANS BELIEVE IN IRRESISTABLE GRACE!! This is surprising and shows Phillip is intentionally ignorant of the concept and is trying, again because for whatever reason he hates Arminians on the subject of grace being necessary for a person to believe.
    Look at what Phillip says about how Arminians hold to irresistible grace:

    “However, both the Calvinist and classical Arminian embrace some form of “irresistible grace”. For the Calvinist, the goal of IG is to ensure the lost sinner will respond favorably to the gospel. For the classical Arminian, the goal is to bring the lost sinner to a point where, according to Olson, he can “at least make a decision to repent and trust in God and Christ or not.” While the goal of IG is different for the Calvinist and classical Arminian, this goal is irresistibly achieved.”

    Arminians do not “embrace some form of ‘irresistible grace’”, this is a lie and an intentional misrepresentation by Phillip.

    If this were the first time that Phillip had said this kind of thing we could easily ignore it as just a simple error made by him. We all make mistakes from time to time. But Phillip has been trying to misrepresent Arminians in this way ***for years***. This indicates that he is trying to do this on purpose. He has been corrected numerous times and yet continues to make these false claims. It seems he prefers some form of Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian belief. It would be understandable if he fairly and properly presented the Arminian belief on prevenient grace and then gave his reasons for disagreeing with it. But that is NOT what he does, instead he tries to misrepresent Arminian theology. This time by claiming, falsely, that Arminians “embrace some form of irresistible grace.”

    P.S. -Oh, and Phillip if you read this, you really need to deal with your anger and bitterness, that is a much bigger issue than your false claims about Arminian theology.

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    1. Robert writes, “In my thinking, this preconversion (or if you prefer “prevenient”) grace…is the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit who enables but does not necessitate a faith response….Non-Calvinists including Arminians believe that the preconversion grace of God that a person receives can and sometimes is resisted.”

      Arminians actually don’t believe that “grace” is resisted. They say that grace”enables” but that enabling cannot be resisted – how does one resist enabling. All the depraved person knows is that he now is “enabled” to consider the claims of the gospel and it is the gospel that he is then able to resist. If it were the grace (the enabling) that were resisted then the person, now unenabled, would never consider the claims of the gospel because he would have reverted to his previous depraved state by his resistance of the enabling. However, for the Arminian, it is crucial that the person actually consider the gospel and reject that gospel as only thereby can God judge him.

      So, we have the Calvinist and the Arminian agreeing that people are so depraved as only to reject the gospel as foolishness and also agreeing that God must enable the depraved person in some manner so as to allow him to consider the gospel and decide whether to accept it. The means by which a person is enabled to consider the gospel is through Libertarian Free Will which is conferred to the depraved person by means of that enabling. While the Calvinist argues that the enabling which confers LFW to the person necessarily leads to acceptance of the gospel, the Arminian counters that such is not the case.

      There is the quibble about describing the enabling by the Holy Spirit as regeneration. However, the depraved person is certainly different after being enabled particularly with respect to his will that has been changed such that it is altogether different that it was before – so different that a reasonable person would conclude that it was regenerated to that same ability to choose enjoyed by Adam before he sinned..

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      1. you say:
        If it were the grace (the enabling) that were resisted then the person, now unenabled, would never consider the claims of the gospel because he would have reverted to his previous depraved state by his resistance of the enabling.

        Actually many Arminians including me believe exactly this. When you reject the light you become judicially hardened, and Peter said it’s actually an even worse state than before.

        you say:
        However, the depraved person is certainly different after being enabled particularly with respect to his will that has been changed such that it is altogether different that it was before

        But nothing about Arminian prevenient grace actually *saves* the unbeliever or *regenerates* them to life, it merely enables them to see and respond.

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      2. dizerner writes, “When you reject the light you become judicially hardened,…”

        That is not Arminianism. Under Arminianism, one does not reject the light, one rejects that which the light shines upon – the gospel. The purpose for prevenient grace is to enable a person to consider the gospel – that which a person is unable to do in his depraved state. Under Arminianism, God cannot judge a person unless that person has the opportunity to reject the gospel – that is the complaint against Calvinism; the Calvinist has people condemned to hell without giving them a chance to accept/reject the gospel. If it were true that a person could reject the “light” without regard to the gospel, the Arminian would be no different than the Calvinist.

        dizerner writes, “But nothing about Arminian prevenient grace actually *saves* the unbeliever or *regenerates* them to life, it merely enables them to see and respond.”

        That’s the whole issue. What must be changed in the depraved person under the Arminian prevenient grace? How must a depraved person be changed to “enable” the person to see and respond to the gospel? Do you know what Arminianism says on this point?

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      3. you say:
        That is not Arminianism. Under Arminianism, one does not reject the light, one rejects that which the light shines upon – the gospel.

        Well I just completely disagree, and being an Arminian I think you need to prove or quote some sources to back up your point. Christ *is* the light, it’s not that the light somehow shines on Christ.

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      4. Rhutchin,

        You said…. “Arminians actually don’t believe that ‘grace’ is resisted. They say that grace ‘enables’ but that enabling cannot be resisted – how does one resist enabling? All the depraved person knows is that he now is ‘enabled’ to consider the claims of the gospel and it is the gospel that he is then able to resist.”

        Exactly.

        If you read Arminianism carefully, enabling grace cannot be resisted. It is irresistible. In Olson’s own words this enabling grace “HEALS THAT DEADNESS so that sinners can at least make a decision to repent and trust in God and Christ or not.”

        The “goal” of enabling grace is to heal the sinner’s deadness. And that goal is successfully achieved and cannot be resisted. Now what the sinner does with the gospel is up to him, but the goal of enabling grace has been accomplished.

        You said…. “So, we have the Calvinist and the Arminian agreeing that people are so depraved as only to reject the gospel as foolishness and also agreeing that God must enable the depraved person in some manner so as to allow him to consider the gospel and decide whether to accept it.”

        Bingo!

        Our Arminian brothers are far more Calvinistic then they care to admit (or realize).

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      5. Some say things like, “So for them, the person is regenerated first, this regeneration causes the person to have faith.” And they misunderstand if they do say such. Regeneration does not cause the person to have faith. The BF&M says correctly of regeneration, “It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Regeneration in Southern Baptist theology correctly states that the sinner “responds” to the change of heart. The regeneration didn’t **cause** it. Regeneration enabled the response of faith.

        Now, rhutchin said, “However, the depraved person is certainly different after being enabled particularly with respect to his will that has been changed such that it is altogether different that it was before…”

        Exactly. I’ve yet to see a non Calvinist of this new Traditionalist persuasion explain in their theology what happens when this sinner has something done to him by the Holy Spirit so-called enabling him to accept or reject the good news (which is non sensical in itself) and he rejects it. Does he revert back to his depraved state after having his deadness temporarily dealt with?

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  7. Proverbs 18:2…..
    Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.

    Proverbs 26:12….
    Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dizerner,

    I appreciate your post because you understand how Phillip is using the term/concept “irresistible grace” incorrectly:

    “But… under Arminian sinners are irresistibly enabled to be able to resist… how does that make sense? The point of the word “irresistible” is to say there is no possibility for resisting.”

    Right and Arminians like other non-Calvinists believe that God’s grace can sometimes be resisted. we see this most clearly with believers when God commands or reveals something to us or leads us to do something but then we choose to give into temptation or sin instead.

    ” Remember that old Borg saying, “resistance is futile?” That’s the only time you can say irresistible.”

    Good analogy for a trekkie like myself and your point is absolutely true, it is theological determinists/calvinists who view the pre-conversion grace of God to be irresistible. That is also why they say it is only given to the preselected elect.

    ” I mean, people are forced to choose, in the sense they have no choice about making a choice, however no one would say that then means they have no choice simply because they have to choose. It’s applying the word recursively back onto itself resulting in a loss of meaning of the original word.”

    Correct, unfortunately Phillip is trying so hard to misrepresent Arminian theology that he is wrongly pinning on them that they believe in irresistible grace (when they do not).

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    1. Robert writes, “Right and Arminians like other non-Calvinists believe that God’s grace can sometimes be resisted.”

      The grace that is resisted is not prevenient grace but the grace of God in making His gospel known to the world and that gospel is then resisted – “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.”

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      1. I would agree that prevenient grace, is in that sense, irresistible in its purpose, which is to enlighten. When Christ stood before the Pharisees, for example, they were forced to reject or accept him, they could not take a neutral stance about Christ and ignore the choice before them. When the Gospel is witnessed with the Spirit’s power the sinner by prevenient grace, he or she is irresistibly brought to a choice by grace, to accept or reject further and more powerful and life-changing grace (which is what I believe “grace for grace” means in John 1, describing the spiritual encounter of light with darkness and ending with that prhase). It is no the “prevenient grace” that is rejected by the sinner, but rather the “grace for grace” in which the prevenient grace attempts to lead to saving grace.

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  9. Robert above writes:
    Actually, it isn’t that God’s action toward us is required to give the gospel sufficiency; it’s that *only the gospel is sufficient to enact this irresistible change of nature*… Ironically, it is the freedom of man that truly makes the gospel “insufficient”… How else do you propose we fix the nature of fallen men?

    When the Gospel comes to a person, yes they are irresistibly forced to be able to resist, and yes they have no choice but to make a choice. This doesn’t take away their true choice or ability to resist, simply because they are “forced” to be able to resist, that’s a nonsensical word game simply used to try to force Arminian to be “just as bad” as Calvinism in the sense of irresistible grace. Prevenient grace DOES NOT FULLY FIX the fallen nature of it man, it merely allows them TO SEE AND ACCEPT the fix. A fix for a fix, if you will.

    Rhutchin above writes:
    Arminians actually don’t believe that “grace” is resisted. They say that grace”enables” but that enabling cannot be resisted – how does one resist enabling.

    All Arminians do *actually* believe that grace *can* be resisted. To claim otherwise is being completely unreasonable. The enabling FOR A CHOICE cannot be resisted but the CHOICE is still there afterward. If you MAKE someone choose you don’t take away their choice by irresistibly forcing them to choose—that’s just a silly semantics game to try to make a point that doesn’t follow logic.

    Les Prouty above writes:
    I’ve yet to see a non Calvinist of this new Traditionalist persuasion explain in their theology what happens when this sinner has something done to him by the Holy Spirit so-called enabling him to accept or reject the good news (which is non sensical in itself) and he rejects it. Does he revert back to his depraved state after having his deadness temporarily dealt with?

    Plenty of them explain it. This enabling is not new life nor regeneration nor salvation. It is enlightening and a freeing of the will to respond or reject. So we have *information* that gets through (opening the heart’s eyes) then we have the will being activates (choose to no longer be a slave of sin but instead a slave or righteousness). This “irresistible” enablement TO resist is not regeneration by any conceivable definition, but rather the enablement to CHOOSE regeneration through faith in the cross. And yes, if a person RESISTS the grace of regeneration they do go back to their depraved state and deadness. Christ said “Accept the light while you have the light.” Christ as light, enabled them to make a choice. We don’t have a choice about choice, when Christ is presented and in front of us—we *have* to choose. But that doesn’t mean we have no choice. Once that light is gone, so is prevenient grace gone.

    Rhutchin above writes:
    So, we have the Calvinist and the Arminian agreeing that people are so depraved as only to reject the gospel as foolishness and also agreeing that God must enable the depraved person in some manner so as to allow him to consider the gospel and decide whether to accept it.

    Calvinism absolutely does NOT teach a person is enabled to decide, only GOD ALONE decides under Calvinism.

    Les Prouty above writes:
    The regeneration didn’t **cause** it. Regeneration enabled the response of faith.

    No, Calvinism logically requires regeneration to already happen before a person can believe, and most Calvinists teach that all regenerated people WILL have faith necessarily. In other words, the direct causation of faith is regeneration itself by election, because Calvinists define faith as a meritorious and good action, which only regenerated people can do. The Bible, however, says Abram believed while still ungodly, and ungodly people are not regenerated people. It says “Awake Oh sinner, and Christ will give you light,” showing that prevenient grace comes while the person is still in a fallen and unregenerate state.

    Rhutchin above writes:
    However, the depraved person is certainly different after being enabled particularly with respect to his will that has been changed such that it is altogether different that it was before – so different that a reasonable person would conclude that it was regenerated to that same ability to choose enjoyed by Adam before he sinned..

    The will is restored in that sense, for the moment of Gospel presentation, but not the pure nature, for Adam never knew sin. When we are presented with Christ, whatever light and truth we have, gives us as real a choice as Adam had in the garden, but not with the same consequences or the same events beforehand. No sinner walked in the garden with God and had a love relationship with him.

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    1. Hey dizerner,

      Thanks for your response. Sorry, but I’m having trouble seeing how (the first half of) your response relates to my comment. I am not sure why you are talking about “forcing” and “resisting”?

      But I would like to respond to this quote of yours, “Prevenient grace DOES NOT FULLY FIX the fallen nature of it man, it merely allows them TO SEE AND ACCEPT the fix. A fix for a fix, if you will.”

      1) How do you define prevenient grace?

      2) With respect, this comment seems to prove my point above: that it is actually the Arminian whose gospel is “insufficient”, since the Arminian (or non-Calvinist) must first cooperate with a “pre-fix” *to be fixed*. The Calvinist can proudly proclaim with confidence, Romans 1:16, knowing they have a *sufficient* and *powerful* gospel that saves sinners. It’s hard for me to see how the Arminian gospel has this kind of power to save, since God must first offer prevenient grace, then partially fix the fall nature of man, and wait for their acceptance (or not) – indeed, the power is left in the hands of man. Hope that makes sense.

      Peace,
      RL

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      1. The other Robert, judging by his words, a calvinist, whose initials appear to be “RL” wrote:

        “1) How do you define prevenient grace?”

        The standard definition of it, is that it a grace that goes before. Goes before what? Goes before salvation. In other words, it is grace the sinner experiences from God before they are saved, while they are nonbelievers. From what the Bible says about the work of the Holy Spirit before a person gets saved, since it is a work of God and we do not deserve it and cannot earn or merit it in anyway: I would say that grace that goes before, is the work of the Spirit in a nonbeliever before they become a believer.

        Robert/RL do you believe that nonbelievers experience a preconversion work of the Spirit in which He convicts them of their sin, reveals Christ to them, reveals their works will not save them, reveals that Jesus is the way of salvation, etc.?

        And if you do believe that occurs and that this occurs before a person is saved, if you do not like the term “prevenient” then what do you suggest that we call this work of the Spirit???

        Robert you also wrote:

        “2) With respect, this comment seems to prove my point above: that it is actually the Arminian whose gospel is “insufficient”, since the Arminian (or non-Calvinist) must first cooperate with a “pre-fix” *to be fixed*. The Calvinist can proudly proclaim with confidence, Romans 1:16, knowing they have a *sufficient* and *powerful* gospel that saves sinners. It’s hard for me to see how the Arminian gospel has this kind of power to save, since God must first offer prevenient grace, then partially fix the fall nature of man, and wait for their acceptance (or not) – indeed, the power is left in the hands of man. Hope that makes sense.”

        I gotta be honest this does not make much sense. The gospel refers to the good news connected with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 15). The message about Jesus is “good news”. While this good news is part of the process of salvation that a believer goes through. To quote an old and now deceased Calvinist friend of mine, Francis Schaeffer, in this life we do not experience full healing. Our healing is only partial. It is only in the eternal state when we have the resurrection body that we will be completely healed. So the talk about a “pre-fix” in order to be “fixed” implies that once we become believers that everything is fixed, everything is healed. As Fran used to say: we experience substantial not complete healing in this life.

        Regarding Romans 1:16 I think you are missing something important. When Paul says in that verse that the gospel is sufficient to save, powerful to save. He is using a shorthand expression for some significant things that are not all mentioned in that verse. Paul when he speaks of the power of the gospel to save is simultaneously speaking of all of the major themes that he will go on to elaborate on in the rest of the book of Romans. These themes include that all are sinners whether Jew or Gentile, that sinners are justified through faith not works, that the believer’s sins are forgiven they are given the Holy Spirit and that changes everything for the person, etc. Paul’s expression then, the power of the gospel, includes all of these things.

        And with regard to the gospel there is no such thing as an “insufficient gospel” because the genuine gospel as it includes the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus, justification through faith, the giving and indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the glorification of the believer, etc. is perfectly sufficient to save. There is not an insufficient gospel held by non-Calvinists and a sufficient gospel held by Calvinists: there is only one gospel, and you either hold it or you do not. And you can be a calvinist and hold to it or a non-Calvinist and hold to it. Paul does speak of a false gospel, but this is a denial of the true gospel: and genuine believers whether they be calvinists or non-Calvinists hold to the true gospel.

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      2. If I flip a light switch on, did I “power” the power plant that supplied electricity? Adding one necessary conditional for something to happen is not giving that conditional all the credit, power or glory. No one anywhere would argue that way except Calvinists, with all due respect, wanting to protect a particular and cherished doctrine of man. The Gospel is the power of God for ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE, and that is the conditional placed in this very text. The Calvinist version would have to read “The Gospel is the power of God creating faith in all the elect” and it does not say that. Hope that makes sense.

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      3. Robert:
        Thanks for taking the time to reply. It’s a bit tricky now, because what started as an initial comment on Leighton’s article has now been mixed with some replys from others on this thread.

        1) On Prevenient Grace. I appreciate your response. Here was your question, “do you believe that nonbelievers experience a preconversion work of the Spirit in which He convicts them of their sin, reveals Christ to them, reveals their works will not save them, reveals that Jesus is the way of salvation, etc?”

        My answer is: No I don’t. I would maintain that the Scriptures say “that conviction of sin, a revelation of Christ to the heart, and justification by faith through Christ alone” are (as Leighton would oppose) “spiritually discerned” and *cannot* be understood by the “natural person” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Instead, these things would seem to indicate to me that such a person is born again. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).

        2) Sorry my second point didn’t seem to make sense. Hopefully I can clarify:

        You said, “I gotta be honest this does not make much sense. The gospel refers to the good news connected with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 15) … this good news is part of the process of salvation that a believer goes through. To quote an old and now deceased Calvinist friend of mine, Francis Schaeffer, in this life we do not experience full healing. Our healing is only partial. It is only in the eternal state when we have the resurrection body that we will be completely healed. So the talk about a “pre-fix” in order to be “fixed” implies that once we become believers that everything is fixed, everything is healed.”

        – I agree. The gospel is indeed the “good news” of Christ. But Romans 1:16 teaches us that residing in the very content of the gospel (i.e. 1 Cor 15) is God’s supernatural power to save, his means. It is by the content of the gospel that he quickens- and you actually seem to articulate that when responding to Romans 1:16.

        – The whole “pre-fix” / “fix” concept was a minor point in reply to DIZERNER, where he said, “Prevenient grace DOES NOT FULLY FIX the fallen nature of it man, it merely allows them TO SEE AND ACCEPT the fix. A fix for a fix, if you will.” He and I were using the word “fix” for salvation. I take issue with his position and would refer you to my comment again with that sense in mind. And, of course, I agree with you (and F. Schaeffer) – we will never experience complete healing in this life.

        You said, “And with regard to the gospel there is no such thing as an “insufficient gospel” … Paul does speak of a false gospel, but this is a denial of the true gospel: and genuine believers whether they be calvinists or non-Calvinists hold to the true gospel.”

        – I fear you may have missed again *the reason* I am using the language “insufficient.” Leighton said that the gospel of the Calvinist is “insufficient” in his article above. So you should take issue with him on that. Instead of calling the Calvinist’s gospel “insufficient” (until God regenerates man), as Leighton did; I am proposing, given Romans 1:16, that the gospel (from a Calvinist perspective) has the very supernatural, quickening power of God residing in its glorious message. Make sense? Again, I agree that there is only one true Gospel message that both the Calvinist and non-Calvinist *content-wise*.

        DIZERNER:
        Thanks for your response too.
        You said, “If I flip a light switch on, did I “power” the power plant that supplied electricity?”
        – Sort of yes, actually.
        You said, “Adding one necessary conditional for something to happen is not giving that conditional all the credit, power or glory.”
        – Right, not all; just some credit.
        The Gospel is the power of God for ALL THOSE WHO BELIEVE, and that is the conditional placed in this very text. The Calvinist version would have to read “The Gospel is the power of God creating faith in all the elect” and it does not say that. Hope that makes sense.
        – No need to re-write verse for the Calvinist, I think the “Calvinist version” can read just as it stands. But you make a fair point for your side as well, I understand how you read it the way you do. But like John 3:16, I don’t think “to everyone who believes” means they these believe first, and then experience the power of the gospel; but that the power of the gospel *is the experience* of all those who believe.

        Peace,
        RL

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      4. It seems to me RL, like many Calvinists, that you are simply starting with your assumption that God must work unilaterally for the Gospel to be “powerful.” If I say to someone, “push this button, and the entire earth will explode,” the power is activated by the button, but the finger pushing is *not* the power that blows up the earth. This is real crux—Calvinists would literally imply, that the finger pushing the button *is* the power that will blow up the earth. Obviously this button is connected to some other huge apparatus, and the only thing the button pushing does, is allow an outside power to work. Because we have this “weakest link of the causal chain” focusing on this button pushing, we could try to argue that the button is the *only* thing that matters, indeed the *only* power at work. But what good would pushing that button do, if it was not linked to some monstrous system of explosives rigged to explode the earth? It would be a “do-nothing” button that just goes “click-click-click.” If human will was the real “power” of the Gospel as Calvinists would have it, why did Christ need to die? What does the Holy Spirit need to be poured out? Why does the Father raise up Christ? All we need is our “all-powerful” free will, and we can “save ourselves.” This is the ridiculously charged language far too many Calvinists end up using in their perennial fight against what they see as “synergism.” And the reason I used words like “forcing” and “resisting” was it seemed to me, you were making the implication that prevenient grace was the same thing as saving grace, just pushed back one level further. We don’t see it that way. We see prevenient grace as awakening the sinner to the presence of the “button” and the realization that he can “push” it. But without the Gospel of Christ, all that pushing would do is just “click click click” and save no one at all. The button is not the savior.

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      5. ‘If human will was the real “power” of the Gospel as Calvinists would have it, why did Christ need to die?”

        Calvinists do not attribute power to the human will. The power is in the preparation of the human heart by the Holy Spirit and the drawing of God using the gospel backed up by the promise of Christ to raise the person on the last day. The will makes the obvious choice – that of accepting and believing the gospel (after all, that choice is a no-brainer).

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  10. Thank you, thank you for all that you write. I have always had a problem with Calvinism but I’m in a predominately Calvinist town so there is nowhere to turn for other thinking. Calvinism has brought great distress to my soul. It destroys who God is. In many ways it makes God no different than a pagan god and also not very different from the Muslim god. God is the best and only God so anything that twists Him is awful to me. Please continue all that you do. It’s like breathing fresh air and hope is renewed.

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  11. Dizerner,

    Your wording previously about a “partial prevenient grace” leads me to the following question.

    Would you say the below somewhat resembles your understanding of prevenient grace? I got the below from “Got Questions”, which is a reformed website, so it might not accurately reflect your view.

    “In this classical Arminian position there is, essentially, a lesser and greater drawing via prevenient grace, which comes through the proclamation of the Gospel and the internal calling of God, sometimes referred to as the full intensity of prevenient grace. That is, God is drawing all men in a lesser sense and then drawing those who have the Gospel presented to them in another, greater sense. Some have called this latter drawing the dispensing of particular prevenient grace. In this position, God has given all men a prevenient grace that results in a universal healing of total depravity by the grace of God through the atoning work of Christ. This, in turn, has alleviated, though not fully, the corruption of inherited depravity. This position resembles what is sometimes called the partial depravity of Arminianism, since total depravity no longer describes what people are but rather what people were. That is, because of the atoning work of Christ, all people are no longer completely incapable of hearing and responding to the Gospel (John 6:44, 8:43); rather, all people have some ability. However, similar to the other position in classical Arminianism, people are not completely freed from their bondage of sin until the Gospel is presented to them and God calls them internally through its presentation. Arminius might have referred to this concept when he spoke of the intermediate stage between being unregenerate and regenerate while others have referred to people in this stage as partially regenerated. Since Arminians believe that regeneration logically comes after faith, when a person repents of his sin and exercises saving faith in Christ, then that person is fully regenerated.”

    God bless, brother.

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    1. It’s an okay description except for two statements I strongly disagree with.

      First: “In this position, God has given all men a prevenient grace that results in a universal healing of total depravity by the grace of God through the atoning work of Christ.”

      No Arminian I know would ever use the phrase “universal healing of total depravity” that seems far, far too strong. The part that is healed is the ability to understand the Gospel message and accept it, and that is a very small part of our depravity.

      Second: “Arminius might have referred to this concept when he spoke of the intermediate stage between being unregenerate and regenerate while others have referred to people in this stage as partially regenerated.”

      I’ve never heard or read anyone talk of “partial regeneration,” it seems like a great misrepresentation. Regeneration is a 0/1 binary on or off condition. We can be “enlightened” before regeneration, enlightened is to have light shine upon us, as light shown upon the darkness of the regions of Galilee.

      I’d also emphasis more what prevenient grace does. It does two things mainly, and we shouldn’t be nebulous about some kind of generic “healing” or “fixing” or “partial regenerating” as if it were the Gospel itself. This grace first enables people to *understand* the Gospel, then enables people to *accept or reject* the Gospel. The spiritual death and total inability described in Scripture is never so severe that a person never had a chance to respond with prevenient grace. Under prevenient grace we understand that creation testifies of a creator, firstly, then whenever the Gospel is presented, the Holy Spirit witnesses to it and opens the understanding and ability of choice. There is no regeneration or healing of sin in any sense accept to understand and accept the Gospel, because the Gospel *is* the power of God to *anyone* that believes. And that’s how I’d describe it.

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      1. Dizerner,

        I appreciate the gracious response.

        You said…. “There is no regeneration or healing of sin in any sense accept to understand and accept the Gospel.”

        Just for clarification, are you saying we are partially healed of sin as to bring us to a point of being able to understand the gospel?

        And, if so, is this partial healing a direct result of the work of the cross?

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      2. Tough question whether I’d describe prevenient grace as a technical healing—a healing of man’s spiritual blindness I guess, but only faith in the cross heals our sin nature. Christ said he came that those who were blind may see, and I don’t think Christ excludes anyone except for their personal rejection of him.

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      3. Dizerner,

        You said…. “but only faith in the cross heals our sin nature.”

        Precisely.

        “And by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24)

        Which is exactly what I meant (and guessing brother Leighton meant as well; brother Leighton, feel free to chime in here) when I say “this most certainly is putting the proverbial cart before the horse.”

        God bless, brother.

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      4. Phillip what do you think “grace for grace” means in John 1:16. Do you think in any way, we might even need grace to find grace?

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      5. Good (early) morning, brother!

        John 1:16 (amplified)….
        For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received [all had a share and we were all supplied with] one grace after another and spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing and even favor upon favor and gift [heaped] upon gift.

        The “we….all” refers to believers. As believers, we are constant recipients of God’s grace, one after another. Not sure why you would think this verse applies prior to our conversion. Obviously, this grace, blessings, and gifts don’t apply to unbelievers.

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      6. Good morning Philip! Wouldn’t you concede that John is written to, and addressing, unbelievers to bring them to faith (20:31)? Doesn’t that open the probability that the “we” is a rhetorical pronoun of the author identifying with his audience, meaning, “all of us in the world” in agreement with 1:9?

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Philip, you claim grace is only given to believers, and this verse about grace could not apply prior to conversion or to unbelievers. Do you realize John 1 is describing the incarnation of Christ as a description of the very grace of God? When Christ was incarnated, many who would believe in him were still living in sin. The fact that Christ gives light to everyone or that he came to his own people (who did not receive him) is called grace. And notice how this verse goes:

        16 Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness,
        17 for the law was given through Moses,
        grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

        Why not say grace twice in 17? Verse 17 could say “but grace after grace came though Jesus Christ” but instead it says grace and truth. So why doesn’t 16 say we have received “grace and truth” from his fullness? The reason, I believe, is that the Gospel includes prevenient grace—the very plan and execution of the incarnation itself has been a grace that paved the way for “all who receive him” to reach a further grace. Indeed I think all of John 1 describes prevenient grace. Anyone who hears of Christ has the “right” or “authority” to become a child of God, born of the Spirit.

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      8. Dizerner,

        In case you haven’t guessed it I do not embrace the teaching of TD/TI. And since I don’t hold to TD/TI I am not obligated to come up with a solution for it. I believe man needs to be saved, not fixed (I hope you know what I mean).

        I think you and I both reject the Calvinistic cure for TD (regeneration precedes faith). However, I (seriously) question the Arminian solution as well. I see glaring errors for both solutions.

        So here, again, is the question….

        Is prevenient (enabling) grace a result of the work of the cross?

        Please think this thru.

        All I ask, brother, is that you apply the exact same scrutiny to the Arminian solution for TD as you would the Calvinistic solution for TD.

        God bless.

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      9. you say:
        Is prevenient (enabling) grace a result of the work of the cross? Please think this thru.

        Without the work of the cross, I don’t think God could ever postpone judgment, so in a sense, even the goodness in nature is a reflection of God’s grace in Christ. Scripture says God could overlook sin because he knew a sacrifice would be made in several places, and Paul said he was forgiven because he did things ignorantly. You notice too Paul experienced the grace of “goads” he kicked against, convictions of the Spirit (who convicts the world of sin). Prevenient grace is a strong overriding Biblical theme, and I’d say it’s all based in the 2nd Person of the Trinity, so I’d have to say yes, after thinking it through, prevenient grace must logically be in some way connected or dependent on the work of the cross.

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      10. Morning, brother Brian!

        I think its safe to say the book of John is written to both believers and non-believers as John 20:31 clearly points out.

        However, the fullness of His grace, this grace piled upon grace, including spiritual blessings and gifts, I would think is reserved only for believers.

        At least that is my take.

        God bless.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. you said:
        I would think is reserved only for believers.

        So only a certain group of elect ever receive God’s grace?

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      12. Dizerner,

        You said… “Philip, you claim grace is only given to believers…”

        No, not at all, brother. I apologize if I said anything to give you that impression.

        Titus 2:11….
        For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

        I was just referring to John 1:16 meaning that the fullness of His grace, including spiritual blessings and gifts are reserved only for believers. Anyone can believe the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ and be recipients of these blessings and gifts.

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      13. Dizerner,

        You said… “…so I’d have to say yes, after thinking it through, prevenient grace must logically be in some way connected or dependent on the work of the cross.”

        So you would consider prevenient (enabling) grace as a redemptive benefit of the cross.

        Are you suggesting that everyone who hears the gospel is partially redeemed?

        Are we “healed” because we believe? Or do we believe because we are “healed”?

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      14. You ask tough questions for sure. I’d never want to give the impression that prevenient grace in any sense saves or brings salvation. However it might belay judgment and be an expression of trhe forebearance and mercy of God. Say one day I walk by a street preacher, I listen to what he says. I think that guys a weirdo why does he think he knows anything, and I go get a coffee. But now for some reason I start thinking about some of what he says. Something starts to get to me. I start thinking maybe God is real, maybe things aren’t right between me and him. But I may put it off, I may think that I love my sinful lifestyle too much, I may think about the persecution it will bring from others. I’ve been awakened to some spiritual truth, however little, but I’m in no way regenerated. Is that grace? Does it take grace to make me more keenly aware that I have a sin problem or that the spirtual world is a real thing? This is the phase of the valley of decision, and it takes two things: it takes information and it takes deliberation. That’s grace, for me to get those things, and it won’t come from Satan, who is actively trying to blind me. It won’t come from my carnal lifestyle. If I’m dead in sin, as a Calvinist would describe it, I couldn’t even understand these truths, yet I need them to be saved. So the Calvinist has to say, we don’t even see spiritual truths until *after* we are born again; then how can we be born again without spiritual truths? This is the amazing miracle of Calvinism: people are born again *before* they believe in Christ, not, as Arminianism teaches, *when* they believe in Christ. You would think even Calvinists would believe in prevenient grace, from Scripture and experience—people wrestle with conviction and don’t always make a commitment of faith immediately. Yet *how* could they be convicted *without* grace? It seems to me simply impossible to try to imply that all grace always brings complete salvation and regeneration. Because prevenient grace is *based* on the work of the cross, does it then necessarily *have* to bring all the results and benefits of what the cross did? I don’t see any Biblical reason to insist yes. How can we be convicted without the work of the cross? Yet upon conviction we are not saved yet, for we must confess him Lord. How can we know Gospel truths of sin and mercy without the work of the cross? Yet that being based in the work of the cross doesn’t bring any kind of automatic salvation, for we must put personal trust and faith in it. Something being based in the cross, does not mean it must contain the full power of its work. And that’s how I’d defend prevenient grace, which I think Calvinists badly understand, mainly due to our side explaining it very poorly or infrequently.

        God bless!

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      15. dizerner writes, “It seems to me simply impossible to try to imply that all grace always brings complete salvation and regeneration.”

        The term, grace, refers to the work of God in which God engages for the benefit of people – particularly His elect. It was God’s decision (His grace) to send Christ to the cross for our sins. It was God’s work (His grace) to raise Christ for our justification. Paul writes, of “the riches of God’s grace (His gifts) that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” It is God’s work of grace that “In Christ we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will…”

        God’s acts of grace necessarily accomplish that which God has determined to bring about. So, the reality is that, “all grace always brings complete salvation and regeneration,” even if you think it impossible (and why you should think it impossible is incomprehensible to me).

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      16. rhutchin do you consider yourself a hyper-grace? Because it is, according to my understanding, completely orthodox for Calvinists to believe in common grace for the reprobate (which grace necessarily does NOT lead to salvation).

        According to : http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/articles/hypercal.htm

        A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:

        Denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear, OR
        Denies that faith is the duty of every sinner, OR
        Denies that the gospel makes any “offer” of Christ, salvation, or mercy to the non-elect (or denies that the offer of divine mercy is free and universal), OR
        Denies that there is such a thing as “common grace,” OR
        Denies that God has any sort of love for the non-elect.

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      17. God extends common grace to all people. God in His omniscience, knew all that would happen from the beginning of the creation of the world to the end and judgment day. Everything is now unfolding according to God’s omniscience. In His omniscience, God knew those He would bring to salvation and those He would pass over. It is God who opens the womb and a person is born; it is God who sustains a person so that he goes to sleep at night and wakes the next morning; it is God who has appointed the day on which a person is to die and stand before Him to give account of his life. God extends His saving grace to His elect and it is these people whom God chose before the foundation of the world. God has worked all of human history according to His will.

        To deny all this, you must follow brianwagner and reject the notion that God is omniscient.

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      18. Lol Roger! I am not that important to follow. He can just follow the normal reading of Scriptures and a definition of omniscience that arises naturally from its contexts instead of following men and their philosophical definitions for omniscience which they twist Scriptures to fit.

        And feel free to be more personal and call me Brian or identify me more accurately as Brian Wagner. I am a great proponent of trying to encourage less hiding behind the anonymity of logon names, which just seems to me to be a little less loving way to share in the discussion of truth.

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      19. brianwagner writes, “He can just follow the normal reading of Scriptures and a definition of omniscience that arises naturally from its contexts instead of following men and their philosophical definitions for omniscience which they twist Scriptures to fit.”

        We have already recognized that omniscience encompasses God’s infinite understanding requiring that God know the future. If that were not enough, God’s perfect wisdom which derives from His infinite understanding makes this certain.

        Let us know if you ever sort out how God’s “infinite understanding” and “perfect wisdom” allow for your understanding of God’s limited knowledge. I am very slowly wandering through McCabe and he seems to be oblivious to these issues (so far), so I suspect that you have no answer (since you seem to believe what men say).

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      20. hahaha… You were the one who asked me to suggest men who hold a similar position as my own! You know me well enough Roger to know that I clearly advocate against leaning on the authority of any man’s position accept those who are prophets and apostles and only their clear teachings on any matter.

        You hurt my feelings, my friend, just a little, by accusing me of seeming “to believe what men say.” But I forgive you. And you already know my answer as to what the Bible clearly teaches about God’s infinite understanding, so don’t play dumb for the local reader’s sake that by saying such a silly thing like you suspect that I “have no answer”. You really should work on being more interested in fostering understanding than appearing like you have an unassailable position by such misrepresentation.

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      21. Well I believe in omniscience and I believe in predestination, even a personal predestination as Scripture instructs us. I’m not 100% sure how it all works, however I don’t think God created anything with the only purpose to destroy it, that’s not his nature. Somewhere creation corrupted itself from God’s good intentions. Both of our belief systems do believe God predestined us to be his children, and God’s grace is sufficient to keep us. I always tell Calvinists we are really on the same plane going to the same destination of salvation by faith through grace—we just differ on how the plane’s internal engine runs or it’s flight dynamics. God bless.

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      22. “Somewhere creation corrupted itself from God’s good intentions.”

        Do you really think that “creation” somehow could act without God’s knowledge or apart form His purpose?

        It was God who opened the door so that Satan could enter the garden to tempt Adam/Eve. God did this knowing the outcome, having already determined that Christ would go to the cross. There is no “somehow” to it. God had decided what He would do – from creating the world to judgment day – and He knew all the implications of His actions so that nothing was unaccounted.

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      23. dizerner writes, “God decided he would give his creation free autonomy. That’s what God decided.”

        Most seem to agree that Adam was free to will (he may have had autonomy but only with respect to Eve and not with respect to God as he was subject to God’s law – Do not eat…) However, that freedom of will was lost when Adam sinned when he became depraved now requiring God’s action (grace) to regenerate that freedom of will in sinners by which they then choose salvation.

        Your statement is broad and does not distinguish that situation that existed before Adam sinned and that which prevailed after he sinned.

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      24. Dizerner,

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

        So are you saying that prevenient (enabling) grace is indeed a redemptive benefit of the cross?

        It seems you are suggesting that at least some of the blood of Christ is applied to everyone who hears the word of God. That everyone is somehow at least partially redeemed by the blood of Christ.

        Yet the scriptures are clear that it is by faith that we obtain access to the blood of Christ (Romans 3:25, Acts 10:43). In other words, no faith, no redemptive benefits.

        Can you show me in the scriptures that everyone who hears the word of God experiences a partial redemption by the blood of Christ?

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      25. Nope, I clearly, clearly, stated, over and over, that prevenient grace does not save. It seems to be something stuck in your thinking that all grace must salvific or it cannot be grace. Have you, by any chance, been extensively exposed to any heavy Calvinistic preaching or teaching?

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      26. Dizerner,

        I guess I am just a little confused.

        In the description of prevenient grace that provided earlier it stated…

        “In this position, God has given all men a prevenient grace that results in a universal healing of total depravity by the grace of God through the atoning work of Christ…”

        ….which at the time you strongly disagreed with.

        However, now you say that prevenient (enabling) grace is indeed a result of the atoning work of the cross and that this grace is given to everyone who hears the gospel; regardless if they believe or not.

        Then you followed that up with….

        “…but only faith in the cross heals our sin nature.”

        And yet you suggest that prevenient (enabling) grace (via the atoning work of the cross) provides a necessary “partial” healing which then brings us to a point of faith that scripture says is necessary to grant us access to the atoning work of the cross.

        Is it faith that grants us the atoning work of the cross? Or is it the atoning work of the cross that grants us faith?

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      27. you said:
        And yet you suggest that prevenient (enabling) grace (via the atoning work of the cross) provides a necessary “partial” healing which then brings us to a point of faith that scripture says is necessary to grant us access to the atoning work of the cross.

        Is it faith that grants us the atoning work of the cross? Or is it the atoning work of the cross that grants us faith?

        Absolutely faith comes first, absolutely. I never, ever want to give the impression that it does not. Unbelievers are not “atoned for.” But the work of the cross does more than atone—it allows God to be merciful to sinners in their valley of decision. The partial healing, is not a healing of the sin nature, but a healing of the deadness or inability to respond to the Gospel.

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      28. Dizerner,

        You said…. “It seems to be something stuck in your thinking that all grace must salvific or it cannot be grace.”

        Brother, again, I apologize if I said something to give you that impression. However, the cross of Christ is salvific and you are the one who tied prevenient (enabling) grace (or a partial healing of the depraved nature) to the blood shed at the cross.

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      29. Sure I did. But I think there are people in hell for whom Christ died. During their lives, the Holy Spirit strove with them and revealed the Gospel to them, but they said “no.” The resisted the grace of God that only comes through Calvary. In God’s dealings with mankind, *all* dealings through history, there is only *one* mediator between God and mankind. *All* grace towards men, from Adam to the last man to ever live, will only come through Christ and his work on the cross. I also believe people can be regenerated but grieve and blaspheme the Holy Spirit, like Judas, thus losing their salvation. Did Judas partake of the grace of God through the atoning work of the cross? He surely did during his lifetime. There are only two moments in a human beings life the Cross of Christ has no effect or grace on them, that is when they physically die in sin, or when they commit the unpardonable sin. That’s it. There is no Calvinistic election unto damnation, nor a deliberate passing over.

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      30. dizerner writes, “There is no Calvinistic election unto damnation,…”

        That’s because the Calvinists do not say that God elected some to damnation. If you believe that there is no election to damnation, then you agree with the Calvinists.

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      31. Dizerner,

        You said…. “The partial healing, is not a healing of the sin nature, but a healing of the deadness or inability to respond to the Gospel.”

        So the shed blood at Calvary has nothing to do with this “partial healing”?

        If “no”, what heals them?

        If “yes”, then are they not partially redeemed (atoned)?

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      32. you say:
        So the shed blood at Calvary has nothing to do with this “partial healing”?
        If “no”, what heals them?
        If “yes”, then are they not partially redeemed (atoned)?

        The benefits of the Cross are not restricted to redemption. There is a common grace for sinners and people who will end up in hell for whatever reason. So why do I see God’s common grace, logically, as having to be causally connected to the Cross in some way? Because without the Cross there is no reason to postpone judgment; you would agree with me that without the Cross, all people should be immediately put into hell. So rain, sunshine, plants, animals, light, biological and mental fucntioning, all things that are described as God’s goodness and common graces in the Bible must logically and necessarily be based in the Cross. Because God said to Adam, in the day you eat of it you shall die. When Adam ate that fruit, he should have been immediately thrown down kicking and screaming to hell. There was only *one* reason he wasn’t—the Cross. So every descendent of Adam benefits from the common grace the stems from the Cross. Even a Calvinist will generally admit this kind of common grace, although they see it as for the Elect’s sake alone, and not the sake of the so-called “Reprobate.” Some might argue common grace should be called something else, and not grace, since it’s not specifically salvific. But all grace really means is getting something you don’t deserve—right? And any good his people experience is of grace thus is of the Cross. If there were no Cross would there be any reason for any common grace, would God be long-suffering toward anyone?

        And also realize,Phillip, I’m not a Calvinist. I can look at the verse and I don’t have to qualify it in any way as being only for a certain group.

        The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

        And that’s grace, grace based in the Cross, grace even for those who don’t use it to obtain that further salvific grace.

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      33. The purpose of the cross –
        “Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Romans 4:25
        “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
        “For Christ himself is our peace…His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two (the Jew and gentile), thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”

        It is God from whom these benefits flow as it is God who sent Christ to the cross to accomplish His purpose. The cross does nothing in itself – it is God who takes the cross and does something with it to benefit those He is saving.

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      34. you said:
        The cross does nothing in itself

        This is not what Scripture says!!

        19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Col 1:19-20 NAS)

        The Father does not reconcile all things to himself every single time a sinner believes on the cross!!

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      35. Colossians 1:19-20 is cited by the Universalists to show that God saves all people. Are you now advancing the universalist position on salvation? Or are you content to understand that Paul speaks of something other than universal salvation as the Calvinist maintain?

        Regardless, following our discussion, “For God was pleased to…” indicates that God acted, in this instance, with His purpose to accomplish that which He had determined He would do when He created the world – in this instance by the death of Christ on the cross.

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      36. No, of course I’m not a Universalist nor advancing the Universalist position, that’s a non-sequitor. Merely citing Colossians 1:19-20 and believing what it says does not make me a Universalist. My point is to show that the work of the Cross happens logically prior to any partaking of the graces of it. Obviously not all will be found IN CHRIST, and only in Christ are ALL things reconciled.

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      37. Colossians 1:19-20 tells us what God has done. Anything a person does is always in response to something God has done. You seem to be more accepting of Calvinist doctrine than opposed.

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      38. Dizerner,

        Again, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

        Isaiah 53:5…..
        “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”

        1 Peter 2:24…..
        “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.”

        The purpose of the shed blood of the Saviour was for a spiritual healing. His blood was spilt to address the problem of sin. “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

        Now you state that our fallen sin nature is “partially healed” by a prevenient (enabling) grace, and you have tied this “partial healing” to the work of the cross.

        So, again, how does the cross provide this “partial healing” of man if it is without the blood of Christ? Scriptural support would be appreciated.

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      39. There’s plenty of Scriptural support for prevenient grace. You can tie a lot of God’s general goodness, graciousness and mercy to the Cross. If the Father did not somehow reconcile all things through the cross, he would have to no longer postpone judgment, as Scripture says does (is longsuffering, not wanting any to perish, while we wait for a new heaven and earth where righteousness dwells). All of God’s grace in dealing with man, I repeat, even grace towards sinners who never get saved, is all based in the work of the cross. Not all grace is salvific, but ALL grace is through Christ.

        19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. (Col 1:19-20 NAS)

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      40. Phillip writes, “The purpose of the shed blood of the Saviour was for a spiritual healing. …Now you state that our fallen sin nature is “partially healed” by a prevenient (enabling) grace, and you have tied this “partial healing” to the work of the cross.”

        For clarification, “Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Romans 4

        We have two problems: our nature is that we are sinners – born that way – and we naturally sin. God sent Christ to address both issues. By His death Christ provided the basis for God to forgive sin and by His death Christ provided the basis for God to impute Christ’s righteousness to sinners.

        This idea of “spiritual healing” in the conversation suggests that there is confusion on that which Christ accomplished on the cross and by His resurrection. When God extends grace to a sinner, He does so because His purpose is to extend these benefits to the sinner and God always achieves that which he purposes to do.

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      41. Dizerner,

        Dear brother, the question still stands.

        How does the cross provide this “partial healing” of man’s fallen nature (his sin problem) if it is without the blood of Christ?

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      42. I never said it’s without the blood of Christ, the Cross and the Blood are synonymous. And no. That simply *doesn’t* mean it’s salvific grace.

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      43. Dizerner,

        Romans 3:24-25…..
        “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation (atoning sacrifice) by His blood, through faith…”

        So you believe there is shed blood which is applied to anyone who hears the gospel, but this blood is not salvific or redemptive?

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      44. Well, I realize you keep trying to “phrase” it in a way that you can equate with salvific atonement so you can say “gotcha,” despite the fact that you know full well I believe the blood/cross is not APPLIED to the sinner, it merely provides them grace in their valley of decision, or they’d be immediately in hell.

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      45. Brother Dizerner,

        What I am attempting to understand is your view of prevenient (enabling) grace. You believe that in order for someone to believe the gospel their depraved nature must first be healed; at least partially. You referred to this as a “partial healing” of the fallen nature. You are now saying that the cure for this fallen nature is found in the blood shed at the cross.

        So it is the blood of Christ that “partially heals” the fallen nature of man, but this same blood is not redemptive or salvific (as you see it).

        The scriptures state plainly that we are “healed BY faith”. But you seem to saying that we are “healed TO faith”. Because without this “partial healing” we cannot come to faith. So at least SOME of the blood is applied to lost sinner prior to coming to faith.

        This is what I meant by saying “this most certainly is putting the proverbial cart before the horse.”

        Now you say you are not a Calvinist, and I believe that, but I want to show you just how close your belief aligns with Calvinism.

        John Piper writes…..

        “And when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your belief—like all other spiritual blessings—was purchased by the death of Christ. The sin of unbelief was covered by the blood in your case, and therefore the power of God’s mercy was released through the cross to subdue your rebellion and bring you to the Son. You did not make the cross effective in your life by faith. The cross became effective in your life by purchasing your faith.”

        Since you believe that prevenient (enabling) grace is an outflow of the work of the cross, yours would read as follows….

        “And when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your ability to believe—like all other spiritual blessings—was purchased by the death of Christ. The effect of total depravity was partially healed by the blood in your case, and therefore the power of God’s mercy was released through the cross to subdue your rebellion. You did not make the cross effective in your life by faith. The cross became effective in your life by partially healing your depravity thus enabling you with the ability to believe.”

        I pray you can see the glaring errors in both.

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      46. O dear. I’ve written a lot against the teaching that unbelief is covered by the Cross (it’s not without faith) or that the atonement is automatically applied. Prevenient grace implies neither, you are simply building up this doctrine to heights that we don’t preach it. I debate with Calvinists constantly, and not one has ever confused me with a Calvinist, lol. You should change your statement of prevenient grace from “ability to believe” into “ability to understand and choose.” I already believe God gave all men a measure of faith. Any sinner can have faith (trust) in God but they first need to understand and then need to choose.

        you say:
        So at least SOME of the blood is applied to lost sinner prior to coming to faith.

        Can I ask you one question, since you seem to vehemently deny any kind of prevenient grace. What keeps every sinner right now out of hell? And what, exactly and precisely, is the reason keeping sinners out of hell based in? Thanks for the dialogue and respectful tone.

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      47. Dizerner,

        You ask…. “What keeps every sinner right now out of hell? And what, exactly and precisely, is the reason keeping sinners out of hell based in?”

        Well, the quick and easy answer is God’s grace, but its more than that. God, the Father, is not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance. I tie it to the will of the Father, but not necessarily to the cross (the Son. Yes, one in the same, but I trust you know what I mean). I do see the cross as redemptive. And when I say it is more than that, I mean God’s word, every letter, has to be fulfilled (Romans 11:25 for example).

        Upon further reflection, regarding the cross, you said “it merely provides them grace in their valley of decision.”

        No. You seem to believe much more. You believe the blood “partially heals” them; every single one of them that come within earshot of the gospel. So in a way, you believe in a universal “partial” healing for everyone who hears the gospel.

        Let me also say that I really do appreciate you engaging me in this discussion. And I mean that. Most Arminians I have encounter brush off my comments and questions simply because they believe “I am right, because…….well, because I just am.” At least you attempted to answer the questions I asked, even if only to your satisfaction.

        Though I see your solution to TD as being unbiblical (the proverbial cart before the horse), it is okay with me that you believe it (even though it pains me). All I suggest is that when the Calvinist gives you his answer for TD that you give him grace and allow him to believe it too, even when you know he is wrong.

        No hard feelings here.

        May the Lord bless you greatly, brother.

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      48. Look phillip I’ll be honest with you. I wouldn’t normally describe prevenient grace as a “healing,” I honestly think Calvinists have kind of forced us to use that word, by saying that what he describe has to be described as a healing. On my own I would not use the word healing and I think that is misleading, but I support it just for solidarity with the main points of Arminianism. I think rejecting the Arminian view of prevenient grace merely because they chose to use the word healing, when that might not really be the idea behind it, might be a bit hasty of you. After all, before you judge what a word is, you should ask how the other side defines it; not how you do. Because I let Calvinists use the term “free will” even though I frankly think they simply logically shouldn’t and can’t. And I always try to show grace, shoot I may have even learned a thing or two from a Calvinist (don’t tell anyone).

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      49. Dizerner,

        Well I also believe to support you point is that not Arminians agree how prevenient grace works. I was quoting Roger Olson who holds to the classical Arminian view of TD. There appears to be a wide variance of TD and the solution for it within the camp of Arminianism. But you can’t blame Calvinists for the “healing phrase” because some Arminians believe it too.

        That said, Arminians do seem to agree that a supernatural work of grace is needed to overcome man’s depravity, that without, man will never come to faith in Christ.

        God’s word says faith comes by hearing the word of God. I agree. However, Arminianism, for the most part, seems to teach that the word is fine and dandy, but the issue of depravity must be addressed first.

        Do I believe in depravity? Of course. The bible teaches it. And I even see evidence of it here by some of the comments I read. Even I’m depraved by evidence of my everyday life.

        All that said, I don’t see the Augustinian notion of TD in scripture. Apparently, Calvinists and their Arminian offspring do. Now since they both believe in TD, they are both obligated to come up with a solution for it. And to date, I haven’t seen, or read, a biblical one.

        The Calvinist sees the Arminian solution for TD as unbiblical. And I believe they are right. The Arminian sees the Calvinist solution for TD as unbiblical. And I believe they are right. So while both camps fight with one another over who is right and wrong, I just sit back and laugh (irony implied). I look at both camps and think “if only you applied the same scrutiny to your own belief as you do to the other”.

        Of course both camps come together and accuse me, falsely, of being Pelagian, or Semi-Pelagian. So they have that in common too. But, you know, sticks and stones.

        Some time ago, I actually had an Arminian tell me that the apostle Paul held Arminian beliefs. Not that Arminians held Pauline beliefs, but that Paul actually held Arminian beliefs! How sad.

        The blessing of not being a Calvinist or Arminian is I am not held captive by their beliefs. Nor do I have to answer for what they believe.

        If I am “vehemently” opposed to prevenient grace, its only for the same reason you are opposed to “regeneration precedes faith”. And that is because you don’t see it in scripture.

        Regardless, I hope and pray you continue to give this notion of prevenient (enabling) grace more thought. Especially regarding its origin and how it is applied to the lost sinner. Now, if you happen to be a member of the SEA it’s not going to be easy, because you will probably be forced to relinquish your membership.

        John 12:42-43 (NIV)….
        “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

        Sorry for the lengthy response.

        God bless.

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      50. you say:
        Now, if you happen to be a member of the SEA it’s not going to be easy, because you will probably be forced to relinquish your membership.

        No, I’m not a member of anything. Don’t they also hold to eternal security? That’s a man-made doctrine if ever there was one.

        you said;
        And that is because you don’t see it in scripture.

        Now wait a second. You said you believe in common grace, or some kind of grace that God bestows preveniently, you just don’t like it tied to the work of the Cross, since you see that as for salvation alone. So you basically believe in crossless prevenient grace right?

        As for the bickering and bitterness, it’s sad to see and easy to get pulled into. Sometimes I have to stop posting with Christians just to remember what being Christ-like is again. bless.

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      51. Phillip writes, ‘I don’t see the Augustinian notion of TD in scripture. Apparently, Calvinists and their Arminian offspring do. Now since they both believe in TD, they are both obligated to come up with a solution for it. And to date, I haven’t seen, or read, a biblical one.”

        I take it you mean a Biblical solution for TD and not Biblical support for TD. The solution for TD is argued by Calvinist from verses like these:

        – “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight,..” Colossians 1
        Man’s condition (alienated from God); God’s solution (He reconciled you), and God’s purpose for doing so (to present you holy in his sight).

        – “God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” Colossians 1
        Man’s condition (dominion of darkness); God’s solution (He rescued), and God’s purpose for doing so (brought us into the kingdom of his Son).

        – “you were dead in your transgressions and sins… because of his great love for us, God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2
        Man’s condition (dead in sins); God’s solution (made us alive), and God’s purpose for doing so (you have been saved).

        – “when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” Romans 5
        Man’s condition (God’s enemies); God’s solution (reconciled to him), and God’s purpose for doing so (you have been saved).

        So, now you have read a Biblical solution to TD even if you do not buy into TD or the solution’s Biblical support.

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      52. “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees…”

        “Jesus went into their synagogue, and a man with a shrivelled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”…it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.” Matthew 12

        The Pharisees wanted to kill Jesus because he healed a man. What explains such behavior? – Total Depravity does.

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      53. Dizerner,

        You said… “Sometimes I have to stop posting with Christians just to remember what being Christ-like is again.”

        Wow. So true and so sad. But, judging by some of the commenters here, I fully understand.

        Romans 4:16…
        “Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace….”

        Ephesians 2:8…..
        “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…”

        Acts 18:27…..
        “he greatly helped those who had believed through grace..”

        I see grace in Jesus Christ (in a salvific sense). I see grace as the opposite of works. What God required of me He provided in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived the life I couldn’t live and died the death I deserve.

        Grace makes salvation obtainable by faith. If it wasn’t for God’s grace, man would have to earn salvation. And we both know he can’t (there’s your inability). But believe? Yeah, man can do that, at least once equipped with the word of God.

        But when both Calvinists and Arminians speak of prevenient grace, they mean a grace that overcomes or deals with man’s depravity (TD). It something that God must do to change us if we are going to believe (because, for them, we can’t). And they mean something far different than simply “coming to a knowledge of the truth”.

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      54. Phillip writes, “Yeah, man can do that, at least once equipped with the word of God.”

        That’s the rub. Many people are, or seem to be, “equipped” with the word of God as they sit together and hear the gospel preached in all its simplicity. Yet, not all those who hear the gospel preached and are thereby “equipped” with the word make the choice to turn from their sin and grab hold of salvation. So, what is going on?

        I don’t know how the people like Phillip explain this, but Calvinists found the answer in Total Depravity and Arminians agreed. If nothing else, Total Depravity explains why two people can hear the gospel and go in different directions – one submitting to Christ and the other walking away after concluding that it’s all foolishness.

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      55. Dizerner,

        Regarding the SEA you asked….

        “Don’t they also hold to eternal security?”

        Actually, I believe this is a doctrine that they are divided on. I have no clue what the percentage is, but my understanding is this doctrine has caused a lot of in-house bickering. I believe Arminius, himself, thought it was worth further study. So, yeah, you would still be welcomed with open arms. Me? Nope. TD is mandatory. At least that was what one of their major contributors told me.

        Again, you said….

        “Sometimes I have to stop posting with Christians just to remember what being Christ-like is again.”

        That is probably the saddest observation of them all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this portion of scripture posted or referenced to, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Brother Brian Wagner has referred to it a couple of times that I know of and yet he was still relentlessly spiritually abused.

        2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NIV)….
        “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.”

        Thankfully, these folks are easy to spot. You usually only have to read a couple lines to know these folks should be ignored. Love and grace are foreign to them. But we should still pray for them. Now I don’t want to apply broad brush strokes, because I know it doesn’t apply to all, but in my own experience in the blog-sphere both Calvinists and Arminians have been the rudest and mean-spirited that I have come across. Again, I don’t mean to imply that they are all that way (because I know they are not), but it seems to be something that Calvinists and Arminians have in common, generally speaking. Maybe its because of all the bickering going back and forth between the two camps. Who knows?

        However, I have enjoyed the exchange with you. It was enlightening. Sometimes even funny. And that’s the way it should be. Just because we disagree doesn’t mean we have to be disagreeable.

        Peace.

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      56. “Arminians maintain that ‘prevenient grace,’ a benefit that flows from Christ’s death on the cross, neutralizes human depravity and restores to pre-Christians everywhere the ability to heed God’s general call to salvation” – Bruce Demarest: The Cross and Salvation (The Doctrine of Salvation)

        Prevenient grace is responsible for “healing the nature vitiated by original sin and restoring the liberty of the children of God” –Thomas Oden: Transforming Grace (58)

        Dizerner,

        Just a couple of quotes I found on-line. And, obviously both have glaring errors.

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      57. The logic of Arminian prevenient grace is to counter, from the Arminian side, the Calvinistic notion that sinners are so dead in sin as not to even be able to respond to the Gospel call, often compared to Lazarus in the tomb. Calvinists, too, believe in a common grace but one that is never effectual for salvation, merely a postponement of judgment for the reprobate. The key concept of prevenient grace for Arminians, is not and never that that grace does what saving grace does, but rather to explain to Calvinists and counter their arguments, that grace for the elect only being irresistible at moment of Divine monergistic regeneration. Prevenient grace never by any Arminian has meant to be the same thing as saving grace, and if you find quotes that sound similar, it is only because of swinging the pendulum back to far in the Arminian camp while fighting the Calvinistic idea that sinners can’t even do anything at all towards God until after complete regeneration. So once you understand this reason for the Arminians seemingly perhaps over strong emphasis on just how powerful prevenient grace is, realize what they are taking a stand against. Arminians believe sinners can respond to the Gospel by the working the Holy Spirit, and they call that prevenient grace, but not a one would conflate it with regeneration or salvation, so for you to continually try to imply they would say that, does seem a little disingenuous—though perhaps you are pointing out a valid critique of taking the doctrine of prevenient grace too far, even into the area of regenerative grace, and one that should be corrected by Arminians. The only point we want to make is that, sinners can respond to the Gospel call without regeneration first, and that necessarily takes grace. I think even you might agree with that statement. So we call that prevenient grace.

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      58. Dizerner,

        Here’s another attempt, though more lengthy, to explain how prevenient grace works.

        “Prevenient grace flows from the universal atonement. When Christ died for the sins of the whole world, the universal gift entailed this initial grant of grace which enables the sinner to turn to God. This gift does not, however, involve ‘entire regeneration’ — i.e., this gift doesn’t save. It is a first step in the regenerative process, but it is not justification; it is not saving grace. The universal atonement does not mean or even imply any kind of universal salvation because, according to scripture, the effects of the cross pertaining to salvation — i.e., the application of the blood of Jesus for the sins of any particular, individual sinner — does not occur automatically but, rather, functions within a continuum of human response. In this respect, it is important to differentiate between grace in prevenience and grace in justification: prevenient grace is the stage of grace which enables our response, but which does not forgive sin and does not save: it leads to conviction of sin and enables faith, but it does not compel our faith-response. Saving grace, however, is the stage of grace which actually forgives sin and does save: it is justification in its ontological sense. Prevenient grace suspends the affect of the Fall upon the human will, enabling us to conform sufficiently to God’s Will that we can turn to God. Saving grace, on the other hand, eradicates the guilt and affects of the fall by placing within the believer God’s regenerating presence. The difference between the two stages of grace is wholly in the recipient. They look different and have different effects because they impact the believer at different points in the believer’s journey: one prior to faith, the other following faith.

        When we combine the universal atonement — that Christ died for all — with the following verse, we find that prevenient grace, FLOWING FROM THE UNIVERSAL ATONEMENT, enables our response of faith; following our response, THE FULL EFFECTS OF THE ATONEMENT ARE APPLIED to the repentant sinner. Regarding this, Paul said:

        Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood effective through faith. (Romans 3:23-25)

        Notice how the ‘atonement by his blood’ is applied: ‘through faith’. In other words, the atonement is indeed for all, and Christ truly died for the sins of the whole world, but the effects of the atonement are not universally or automatically applied; rather, they are applied through and for faith. When we respond to the gift of grace — prevenient grace — with faith (which comes as a part of that prevenient gift), the effects of the atonement are applied to us: namely, the imputation of guiltlessness and the regeneration to new life in Christ. How is this possible for one who is “dead in trespasses and sins,” you may ask? For humans it is impossible, but for God — who gives us the enabling grace before our response — it is not impossible to so enable (or ‘quicken’) us so that we can respond to the gift without also wholly regenerating us. By saying this is impossible for God, Calvinists often violate the Scriptural mandate that: ‘for God, all things are possible.’

        Hence, we see that the Atonement is universally offered and, in one aspect, UNIVERSALLY APPLIED THROUGH PREVENIENT GRACE IN AS MUCH AS ALL ARE ENABLED TO RESPOND TO GOD’S GIFT WITH FAITH. To those who respond to the gift of grace with faith, THE FULL EFFECTS OF THE ATONEMENT — including the forgiveness of sins and the regeneration of our mortal souls — are applied to the salvation of the believer. There is no universal salvation because the directive and enabling presence of prevenient grace is not irresistible in terms of outcome, and neither is the application of the effects of the atonement. While Christ truly did die for all, the benefit of His atoning death doesn’t apply to all; and this is why we are called, as our Lord’s disciples, proclaim the gospel: by so-proclaiming it, we participate as a means of grace in the gospel mandate that all those alive might hear and have an opportunity to respond to the offered gift of forgiveness, proclaim Christ as Lord, and receive the atonement which Christ offers (and which he paid for) upon the cross.” – Pastor Gregory S. Neal – St. Stephen United Methodist Church

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      59. Finally! An excellent description of prevenient grace I can fully get behind and support. Pastor Neal has done a great job belaboring out what is and is not falling under prevenient grace. I really want to break it down to as simple a concept as possible and a Scripture came to me.

        “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me.”

        Christ’s drawing upon all men is directly causally linked to his being lifted up, here. Yet just because all men are drawn, does not mean all mean come. So we have a grace, linked to Calvary, that does not always effectually save.

        I really appreciate the way you forced me to hammer out this doctrine, it’s not often tackled fully head on like this.

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      60. Let’s examine what Pastor Neal:

        1. “When Christ died for the sins of the whole world, the universal gift entailed this initial grant of grace which enables the sinner to turn to God.”

        Then, either all should turn to God or none should. If some turn to God and others do not, then we have God differentiating through that grace between those He wants to save and those He does not – Calvinism.

        2. “it is important to differentiate between grace in prevenience and grace in justification: prevenient grace is the stage of grace which enables our response, but which does not forgive sin and does not save: it leads to conviction of sin and enables faith, but it does not compel our faith-response.”

        If this grace does lead “to conviction of sin and enables faith…,” then that conviction of sin should result in the person exercising faith to believe. If not, then there could not have been conviction of sin in any realistic manner.

        3. “Prevenient grace suspends the affect of the Fall upon the human will, enabling us to conform sufficiently to God’s Will that we can turn to God.”

        If one is able to “conform sufficiently to God’s Will that we can turn to God,” then the person should turn to God. If some turn to God and others do not, then we have God differentiating through that grace between those He wants to save and those He does not – Calvinism.

        4. “When we respond to the gift of grace — prevenient grace — with faith (which comes as a part of that prevenient gift),…”

        If faith is part of grace, then he says, “When we respond to [faith] — prevenient grace — with faith…” This is nonsense. But earlier – “[prevenient grace] leads to conviction of sin and enables faith.” Thus, one responds to conviction of sin with a faith response.

        5. “There is no universal salvation because the directive and enabling presence of prevenient grace is not irresistible in terms of outcome,…”

        This would mean that the conviction of sin is resistible. But if, by grace, God convicts of sin and man resists, has God actually convicted of sin in an incompetent manner? If some resist God’s conviction of sin and others do not, then we have God differentiating through that conviction of sin between those He wants to save and those He does not – Calvinism.

        Pastor Neal writes gibberish.

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      61. Roger, if God convicts and man resists it does not follow that God is incompetent. It only points to His fulfilling His purpose in bringing man to a response-able opportunity. And we would expect God then to differentiate between those who respond to that conviction, based upon the reality of their acceptance or rejection of it, setting that neither was predetermined by Him.

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      62. Two issues here. If God’s purpose is truly to convict, then He is capable of doing so. If a person is not convicted, then it could not have been God’s purpose to convict. The second issue is whether God convicts such as people are equal in being convicted. If so, then all should respond to that conviction oe all should reject that conviction. If one person accepts and one resists, then were they equal to begin with? If God convicts and leaves people in unequal situations such that one accepts and one resists, then that was God’s purpose.

        People start out in the same position – sinners who have no desire for God. If the only change is what God does, then God has determined their final choice – whether to accept or reject.

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      63. I am sorry, Roger, that you misunderstand my logical reasoning about God’s sufficient conviction. His conviction does not have to be equal. It just has to be sufficient for a response-able choice to be made by each one in agreement with His justice and His freedom to allow man that choice. It certainly does not require God to determine the choice for man, especially for him before that man even exists, that is before creation.

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      64. Dizerner,

        So what Pastor Neal is saying is that all men are at least partially atoned by the work of the cross which brings them to a point where they can believe. Then, once they believe, the remaining effects of the atonement are applied.

        I can’t find that notion in scripture. At least the apostle Paul never mentions it. In fact, the word says that without faith, the gospel preached doesn’t profit them. Not even a little bit (Hebrews 4:2).

        However, here’s another observation. If prevenient (enabling) grace is a result of the shed blood at Calvary (the work of the cross) which happened at a moment in time, then exactly how did the OT saints believe?

        Since the OT saints, let’s say from Abel to Zechariah, believed years, even hundreds of years, prior to the cross, it would seem to mean that this grace was anything but prevenient. In fact, this grace would be “subsequent” grace since it came after, even way after, these people believed.

        Remember, all the OT saints were held up in Abraham’s bosom for a reason. It wasn’t until after Christ’s death on the cross that these believers were granted access to heaven. So to say that prevenient (enabling) grace is tied to the finished work of the cross is a HUGE oversight for OT believers. Because until the blood was shed at Calvary, there wasn’t anything to apply; even partially.

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      65. you say:
        Remember, all the OT saints were held up in Abraham’s bosom for a reason. It wasn’t until after Christ’s death on the cross that these believers were granted access to heaven. So to say that prevenient (enabling) grace is tied to the finished work of the cross is a HUGE oversight for OT believers. Because until the blood was shed at Calvary, there wasn’t anything to apply; even partially.

        Right. But remember I tied in some Scriptures that say God overlooked sins that were done in the past by looking ahead to the Cross. The Cross happened physically in time, but the effects of the Cross happened from Adam to the 2nd coming, because there is one mediator between God and man even in the OT (“I know my Redeemer lives”). It might help to go over some of my old posts because I did cover this. Also about the Gospel profiting them, we do say prevenient grace can not PROFIT people. I don’t see the problem? The Gospel itself could be called prevenient grace. Think of it like a temporary grace in the valley of decision, Christ drawing all men because he was lifted up. Bless.

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      66. Dizerner,

        Let me make another observation.

        You want to use John 12:32 to support your understanding of prevenient (enabling) grace.

        “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

        Notice the drawing comes after the lifting, which for you would mean prevenient (enabling) grace comes after the work of the cross.

        So, again, how did all those who during Jesus’ earthly ministry believe prior to His being “lifted up”?

        No. What this “drawing” means to me is that all men will be held responsible for their response to the cross. Either thru faith, which leads to eternal life, or judgment for those who reject God’s provision.

        This “drawing” is what Paul referred to as preaching “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

        God bless, brother.

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      67. you say:
        So, again, how did all those who during Jesus’ earthly ministry believe prior to His being “lifted up”? No. What this “drawing” means to me is that all men will be held responsible for their response to the cross. Either thru faith, which leads to eternal life, or judgment for those who reject God’s provision. This “drawing” is what Paul referred to as preaching “Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

        A drawing is an active working of grace, a pulling towards Christ. It’s directly linked to the reason that Christ is lifted up (dual meaning, like many things in Scripture—Christ lifted on a physical cross, and us lifting up his Gospel truth). This drawing could not logically be connected to responsibility or judgment. It’s free—the drawing is free to all men where Christ is lifted up. Sure they will be held responsible, as discussed elsewhere in Scripture, but this verse is not at all touching upon that truth. It’s saying that wherever Christ is lifted up, he has promised to draw all men. And that’s before they get saved, you can’t get around that.

        you say:
        Notice the drawing comes after the lifting, which for you would mean prevenient (enabling) grace comes after the work of the cross.

        The effects of the work of the Cross are not only contained to a physical time. If you wanted to argue that, you’d have to show that OT saints can’t be saved. Since all humans, like the initial creation itself, procede from out of the spiritual darkness they are born in, into the light of Christ giving light to every man, ever human has experienced a spiritually lost state at some point. This is the individual human’s separate timeline, their darkness to light—when in physical time God sent Christ to die, does not keep all people who existed for all time from benefiting from what Christ did. There is One intermediator between God and humans, the man Christ Jesus.

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      68. Dizerner,

        You said…. “But remember I tied in some Scriptures that say God overlooked sins that were done in the past by looking ahead to the Cross. The Cross happened physically in time, but the effects of the Cross happened from Adam…..”

        I don’t believe that is biblical, brother.

        If the effects of the cross happened from Adam forward, then why were they denied immediate access to heaven?

        Yes, in His forbearance, God passed by the sins committed earlier (Romans 3:25), because God knew He would resolve the issue of sin with the blood shed at Calvary. This is also why Jesus preached to those held captive in paradise (1 Peter 3:19). But not one of the atoning benefits were applied until after the death of Jesus Christ.

        To believe otherwise just isn’t scriptural.

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      69. I think your logic doesn’t work. If you want to argue that the only way for the atonement to have effect, is the FULL effects have to happen IMMEDIATELY, why aren’t you and I in heaven then? Why do we have to live out our lives full of tears, struggle and turmoil, the trouble Christ said we would have in this world? It’s simply a faulty argument to say that the ONLY time the atonement can have an effect is if the FULL effects are immediately applied. Scripture doesn’t even teach eternal security—we can, after being regenerated, yet fall away.

        you say:
        But not one of the atoning benefits were applied until after the death of Jesus Christ. To believe otherwise just isn’t scriptural.

        Abraham’s bosom WAS a benefit of atonement, which came through God’s covenant with Abram. And not putting all humans immediately in hell is also only because of the One Mediator between God and man.

        I’ve asked you once to make a case for God showing any grace to sinful humans that is not based in the One Mediator. I feel like, until you do that, you’ve not made your case Scripturally.

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      70. Brother Dizerner,

        I never said the full effects happen immediately. I am just saying that none of the effects of the shed blood can be applied until first, the blood is shed, and second, by faith.

        Pastor Neal, and I guess now you, believe at least one of the benefits of the atonement is universally applied to all before Calvary occurred, and, at least one of the benefits of the atonement is applied without the need of faith.

        Neither lines up with logic or scripture.

        You said… “Abraham’s bosom WAS a benefit of atonement.”

        No. Abraham’ bosom was a holding place created by God for believers who, one day, would benefit from the atonement.

        You said…. “I’ve asked you once to make a case for God showing any grace to sinful humans that is not based in the One Mediator. I feel like, until you do that, you’ve not made your case Scripturally.”

        Genesis 6:8-9….
        “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.”

        Though Noah walked with God, he was still a sinner. And, yet, God (the Father) spared him and his family from the coming judgment. I would say that was grace.

        Like

      71. Noah offered sacrifices that were a pleasing aroma to God. Noah most certainly relied on the ONE Mediator between God and man, Christ Jesus.

        you say:
        none of the effects of the shed blood can be applied until first, the blood is shed

        I completely reject this proposition. I think it both against logic and Scripture. Until you can show me, from Scripture, where one human being didn’t need the One Mediator between God and man, you’ve failed your case against prevenient grace.

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      72. Brian,

        Conviction define…

        “the act of convicting someone, as in a court of law; a declaration that a person is guilty of an offense; the state of being convicted; the act of convincing a person by argument or evidence.”

        Now while I believe the Holy Spirit accomplishes this thru the written word (Hebrews 4:12), its also obvious this is achieved.

        John 3:20…
        For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

        Sounds like to me that even the lost are convinced they are guilty sinners.

        God bless, brother.

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      73. Thank you Philip for looking at this subject of conviction further. You would probably agree that the English definition you posed has little weight to prove what the context in Scripture means for this word. And being convicted generically as being a sinner is not the emphasis Jesus makes when promising that the Spirit will convict the world, but specifically that they are not trusting in Him (John 16:7-8)!

        I believe God brings conviction that everyone needs His righteousness (1Cor. 1:30), also known as His Son, Jesus, even if they never hear the full story of the life of Christ (cf. Job 33:26).

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      74. Brother Dizerner,

        No one is saying that believers aren’t saved without the One Mediator. Every believer, both OT and NT, are saved by the One Mediator.

        However…

        Hebrews 10:4….
        For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

        Hebrews 8:6….
        But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.

        Hebrews 9:16….
        And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, FOR THE REDEMPTION OF THE TRANSGRESSIONS under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

        Hebrews 12:24….
        to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to THE BLOOD OF SPRINKLING THAT SPEAKS BETTER THINGS THAN THAT OF ABEL.

        While I completely agree that Christ died for all, only believers’ sins are redeemed; even partially. And that is the purpose of the Mediator.

        1 Timothy 2:5…..
        For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

        For Pastor Neal to claim that there is a universal healing of man’s fallen nature thru the atoning work of Jesus Christ, without faith, isn’t scriptural. And no one can be a recipient of the blood at Calvary until the blood has been spilt. Which is precisely why the OT saints, up to the thief on the cross, were denied immediate access to heaven.

        God bless.

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      75. you say:
        No one is saying that believers aren’t saved without the One Mediator

        Obviously I think you ARE saying that. You are arguing that merely because some effects of the atonement are delayed until the blood is shed, therefore NO effects can flow from it. That’s both an error in logic and un-Scriptural.

        you say:
        While I completely agree that Christ died for all, only believers’ sins are redeemed; even partially.

        Nobody anywhere is arguing for partially redeemed sins. It seems to be something stuck in your thinking that simply won’t ever come out.

        you say:
        For Pastor Neal to claim that there is a universal healing of man’s fallen nature thru the atoning work of Jesus Christ, without faith, isn’t scriptural.

        CAN YOU PLEASE SHOW ME WHERE NEAL USED THE WORD HEALING? You’re really frustrating me, brother. You seem so insistent on misrepresenting my position I’m afraid I’ll have to stop posting.

        Like

      76. Brian,

        John 16:8….
        And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment

        Well, obviously man has to be convinced he’s a guilty sinner first, if there is any hope of him looking for a remedy (Jesus Christ) second. Then, if they reject God’s provision, that are staring at judgment (third).

        God bless.

        Like

      77. Exactly! And praise His name that He brings that conviction, sufficient to lead to full salvation, but not irresistibly, to all mankind at least a couple or three times!

        Like

      78. Brian,

        Regarding infants and those mentally challenged (which sometimes I wonder if I fall into that group!) who we would consider incapable of hearing the word of God, He is gracious and merciful.

        Thanks for chiming in!

        God bless, brother.

        Like

      79. I agree… And can also personally identify with being a part of the mentally challenged group! 🙂

        Like

      80. Brian,

        You said… “Exactly! And praise His name that He brings that conviction, sufficient to lead to full salvation, but not irresistibly, to all mankind at least a couple or three times!”

        Amen.

        However, there is no scriptural support (that I know of anyway) that says this conviction partially heals, or fixes, our depraved nature. And that is my point.

        Blessings, brother.

        Like

      81. Hi Philip! Would you concede that the divine conviction and enlightenment temporarily overcomes the inability of the fallen nature, providing sufficient grace to lead to salvation, but with the warning that if one hears His voice in that moment of conviction, but then hardens their heart, they return to that previous inability?

        Like

      82. Brother Brian,

        In a word. “No.”

        While I do believe man has a fallen, depraved, nature, I don’t see anywhere in scripture that our depravity is “temporarily overcomed”. Man is fallen and incredibly wicked, but I don’t believe man lost his ability to respond to God. Adam didn’t.

        Fallen, depraved sinners are, after all, able to be convicted (convinced they are sinners).

        Do you believe this enabling grace that temporarily overcomes our fallen nature is a result of the cross?

        Just curious.

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      83. Not a part of the cross, Philip.

        And we may be speaking past each other, for you probably agree that man has to respond, that he doesn’t go looking for God’s grace, and that if he responds negatively to God’s initiative, he can not force God to give him another opportunity later to receive grace that leads to salvation.

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      84. Brian,

        I think there is much we agree on.

        From what I read in scripture, faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). The seed, or the word of God, must first be planted in the hearts/minds of man. God does that.

        God definitely, biblically, takes the initiative in reaching out to man. But, again, as previously stated, man never lost his ability to respond to God. And this planting of the seed doesn’t overcome man’s fallen nature.

        I do believe in depravity, just not total inability.

        Thanks for the response.

        Blessings, brother.

        Like

      85. Phillip, then you would agree that there is nothing in man’s nature that would cause him to begin looking for salvation, even if He feels convicted by his conscience, without God’s direct involvement? And would you agree that if he rejects God’s initiative, he can not just, of His own nature return to that point of conviction, but would need God’s to call again personally?

        Like

      86. Dizerner,

        Sorry. No intention to frustrate.

        Neal wrote… “Prevenient grace suspends the affect of the Fall upon the human will, enabling us to conform sufficiently to God’s Will that we can turn to God.”

        While Neal doesn’t use the word “heal” it is the underlying theme. Heal, overcome, suspend. All words with the same intent.

        However, what Neal is saying is that this prevenient (enabling) grace restores (even temporarily) us to a pre-fall, pre-lost state. And, this prevenient grace is a result of the finished work of the cross given to all, regardless of faith.

        I just don’t see this as scriptural, brother. Obviously, you do.

        Peace, brother.

        Like

      87. Who defines prevenient grace as bringing us to a pre-fall, pre-lost state in our nature? I never said that. Only that we are informed, and our will is free to make a choice. Again this language you hear Arminians use is only to counter the Calvinist’s counter-argument that Arminian’s can’t believe in true depravity if humans can respond to God.

        I see prevenient grace as Scriptural and gave good arguments that I really don’t think you’ve understood, because when you describe to ME what *I* believe, it isn’t what I said but something different. I don’t mind if you think the logic of what I said leads to a different conclusion than I came to, but you never show that, you simply say “this is what you believe” with no argument at all. How can I possibly even have a rational discussion if my arguments are ignored and my own beliefs are redefined by the person I’m talking with? I don’t think I can.

        Obviously, something about prevenient grace doesn’t sit well with you intuitively. You seem to think it somehow is “getting saved” before you “get saved.” Yet other times you describe something that seems really similar to what I would call prevenient grace.

        Your only argument that I ever heard for how God could have grace apart from the cross is “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Yet you make the assumption that Noah had no Mediator expressed in his sacrifices. Otherwise you really will have to set up a system of meriting God’s favor through good works (which is a whole other huge topic).

        If prevenient grace so offends you, that you think it harms the concept of saving grace, I will no longer use it merely for your sake. You’re a brother in Christ and I don’t want you to be offended. I don’t want anyone confused about salvation by faith through grace, even if I think the ways of God’s gracious long-suffering in waiting for our repentance include some more complex interactions that yet are not just about salvation, but the future possibility of it. Let it not be said:

        For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.

        If you find prevenient grace un-Scriptural, I would never even begin to label it as an essential doctrine nor want your walk with Christ to be at all hindered! Obviously I’ve been unable to convince you, and I’d only encourage you to follow Christ to the best of your ability (by grace!)

        But now it’s that point in a discussion where no new information will probably change anyone’s mind so I’ll bow out.

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      88. Brian,

        The word convicts, because man is convict-able.

        The word teaches, because man is teach-able.

        A far cry from total inability.

        The Holy Spirit, thru the written word, convicts (convinces) man is lost. The Holy Spirit, thru the word, shows the righteous requirements that God demands (the remedy). The Holy Spirit, thru the written word, teaches us that those who reject God’s provision for the guilt, are staring at judgment (eternal damnation).

        God is heavily involved.

        Like

      89. Granted, Phillip. But you didn’t answer my specific questions. And I think you would agree that convict-able is not the same as able to seek to be convicted, or to seek a solution for the conviction that one’s conscience might bring.

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      90. Dizerner,

        I agree with your overall sentiment.

        Again, no hard feelings here.

        But, again, I hope and pray that you continue to study this notion of prevenient (enabling) grace being tied to the finished work of Christ on the cross.

        Please keep the two thoughts I have provided in the back of your mind while going forward in discussing/studying prevenient grace. And I promise to do the same with yours.

        Much blessings to you, brother.

        Like

      91. Brian,

        Sorry. Didn’t mean to ignore you.

        My point is that all of your questions are answered once the sinner is equipped with the word of God. The problem. The solution. And the consequence.

        God provides it all.

        But the point of all of this is that none of this overcomes/suspends/heals man’s depravity.

        Grace.

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      92. Hi Phillip, I still think you are not answering the specific questions I asked. Would you mind if I posed them again? Here they are –
        Would agree that there is nothing in man’s nature that would cause him to begin looking for salvation, even if He feels convicted by his conscience, without God’s direct involvement? And would you agree that if he rejects God’s initiative, he can not just, of His own nature return to that point of conviction, but would need God’s to call again personally? And do you agree that convict-able is not the same as able to seek to be convicted, or to seek a solution for the conviction that one’s conscience might bring?

        These seem easy enough questions to answer for someone like you. 🙂 But what I have found in discussions like these we often do not understand the nuances of each one’s position, or how significant the other one feels they are. You and I would agree that man left alone without experiencing God’s gracious initiatives would be lost forever. We also agree, I think, that God takes that initiative with everyone, personally. But I hope you see that the questions I am making concern the lasting effects of God’s initiatives, if any, when they are rejected, as well as the “inability” within the human nature, because of depravity, to take any initiative to begin any effective search for God’s grace, or to store it up for later after it has been personally rejected. Thanks for your consideration.

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      93. Brian,

        Sorry for the delayed response. Had to step away for a while.

        “Would agree that there is nothing in man’s nature that would cause him to begin looking for salvation, even if He feels convicted by his conscience, without God’s direct involvement?”

        No, because conviction is tied to God thru the spoken word. However, once convicted, man is capable of seeking salvation, which I believe God leads him to. (Problem – guilty sinner. Solution – Jesus Christ).

        “And would you agree that if he rejects God’s initiative, he cannot just, of His own nature return to that point of conviction, but would need God’s to call again personally?”

        Not sure. No doubt there is an everlasting conviction, or convincing, of sin (John 3:20). Now they may suppress it, but I believe they will be reminded of it (it will resurface) again when the word is preached. Curious, do you have a biblical example to the contrary?

        “And do you agree that convict-able is not the same as able to seek to be convicted, or to seek a solution for the conviction that one’s conscience might bring?”

        I don’t think people seek conviction. However, as stated earlier, once convicted man is capable of seeking a remedy.

        Acts 13:7 (KJV)……
        Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God.

        A depraved, lost sinner who desired, or wanted, to hear the word of God.

        Acts 2:37-38….
        Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

        Depraved sinners who, after conviction, willingly sought a remedy (and Peter, via God, gave them one).

        John 8:7-9…..
        So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

        Depraved, lost sinners who knew they were guilty of sinner (convicted by own conscience via the words of Jesus), starting with the oldest.

        The biblical examples above only seem to rebuke TD/TI. Though totally dependent upon God’s initiative, man is capable of responding to that initiative.

        Like

      94. Hi Phillip! Never feel like you need to hurry in replying to me. I understand completely how schedules go, and I don’t think either of us are making any earth shattering ministry contributions on this website! 🙂 But it is important to test each other’s views against God’s Word and to have our own views tested. So I am grateful for sites like this one. And the general topic, soteriology, itself is so very important, of course.

        I will take your first “no” answer as a “yes”, for that is what I think you were trying to say. Yes, you would agree there is nothing in man’s nature since God’s spoken word is not in there initially. As for biblical examples of what I am saying, I would point to all the warning passages in Hebrews where those who had positively experienced God’s grace were in danger of irrevocably falling away from having the opportunity to truly get saved, since those being warned, some of the readers, had not yet entered into God’s rest of salvation. The warning, Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart, represents that warning the best in my view, since God is taking the initiative in calling, but rejection of that indicates there may never come another opportunity.

        I also see in verses like the Lord “opened” Lydia’s heart, and “now is the accepted time”, and being sent a “strong delusion” that God’s initiative for saving grace is not constant, but it is necessary, so that there may result many times an “inability”, not of function but of opportunity, in the unbeliever if those divine initiatives are rejected, and especially if God chooses to make them into a vessel of dishonor after their rejection.

        You and I agree that if God does take a personal initiative (though we may not agree on how that actually is defined) to extend His grace to lead to salvation to an unbeliever, it is assumed that the unbeliever is not so hardened to be unable to accept it and benefit from it, but rather that he is truly able to receive it.

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      95. phillip writes, “conviction is tied to God thru the spoken word. However, once convicted, man is capable of seeking salvation, which I believe God leads him to.”

        More accurate to write, “…conviction is tied to God WORKING thru the spoken word.” The idea of being “capable” is a little fuzzy. A person needs faith and this is given to the person by God. It is one thing to be convicted of sin; it is another to seek remedy through Christ by faith.

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    2. Phillip shares a non-Arminian source discussing Arminian theology. It has some problems that ought to be duly noted. Before getting into the quote I remind everyone again that the biblical categories are two: a person is unsaved and so not regenerated, and a person is saved and so regenerated. Just as someone is not “partly pregnant”, similarly from the Biblical perspective one is either regenerated or one is not.

      “In this classical Arminian position there is, essentially, a lesser and greater drawing via prevenient grace, which comes through the proclamation of the Gospel and the internal calling of God, sometimes referred to as the full intensity of prevenient grace.”

      Referred to as “the full intensity of prevenient grace” by WHOM?

      I know lots of Arminians and I have not heard them speak of “full intensity prevenient grace” versus “less intensity prevenient grace”. Already the quotation is off a bit.

      “That is, God is drawing all men in a lesser sense and then drawing those who have the Gospel presented to them in another, greater sense.”

      Again, I have not seen Arminians making this distinction themselves. This is not to say that none of them do, only that I have not seen it (and I am familiar with folks on a prominent Arminian site, the Society of Arminian Evangelicals, SEA).

      “Some have called this latter drawing the dispensing of particular prevenient grace.”

      Again, who are these “some”?

      “In this position, God has given all men a prevenient grace that results in a universal healing of total depravity by the grace of God through the atoning work of Christ.”

      This statement is misleading as depravity refers to a condition, prevenient grace does not “heal” this condition. Rather, it makes a person in this condition capable of doing something they previously (without this grace) could not do (namely choose to trust in Christ for salvation). And yet while that person is enabled to choose to trust God, until they do so, they remain spiritually dead, unsaved.

      “This, in turn, has alleviated, though not fully, the corruption of inherited depravity.”

      This is off base because many Arminians affirm depravity but deny “inherited depravity” and inherited guilt.

      “This position resembles what is sometimes called the partial depravity of Arminianism, since total depravity no longer describes what people are but rather what people were.”

      Another mistaken statement. Arminians believe in ***total*** depravity, with “total” meaning not that a person is as bad as they could be, but that the extent of sin and its effects has effected all aspects of human persons (their bodies, minds, everything = “total”). In contrast to some, for example some Catholics who believe that sin has effected the body but not the mind, that the mind is unaffected by the consequences of sin. Arminians do not believe in “partial depravity.”

      “That is, because of the atoning work of Christ, all people are no longer completely incapable of hearing and responding to the Gospel (John 6:44, 8:43); rather, all people have some ability.”

      Not sure how many Arminians would agree with this statement either. Most Arminians that I know do not believe that prevenient grace has come and universally eliminated the inability to trust in Christ. Rather, they believe that as an INDIVIDUAL experiences prevenient grace that INDIVIDUAL then has the capacity to choose to trust in Christ for salvation.

      Speaking from my own experience I have seen after a message or Bible study or sermon, how two different individuals seemed to have two very different experiences of the work of the Spirit (one seemed to have not experienced anything while the other seemed to have experienced the work of the Spirit, and later at another meeting the first who had not seemed to experience the work of the Spirit, then seemed to experience the work of the Spirit, this suggests that the work of the Spirit is as Jesus characterized it in John 3, like the wind, you feel it when it is present but it comes and goes and you do not understand this: i.e. that the Holy Spirit who is also God is sovereign acting as He pleases in different situations).

      “However, similar to the other position in classical Arminianism, people are not completely freed from their bondage of sin until the Gospel is presented to them and God calls them internally through its presentation.”

      This is a good place to speak of the “slave of sin” metaphor sometimes used by Paul. Paul in Romans 6 compares the experience of the nonbeliever and the believers by means of likening them to having two slave masters (in the first century many were slaves or knew slaves or had slaves so this was a concept all would have been familiar with). Paul says that if we look at the nonbeliever they live as if they have a slave master named “sin”. “Sin” is telling them what to do and their life appears to be one in which their habitual practices are sinful thoughts and actions. Does this analogy mean that the nonbeliever is always obeying sin, always doing some sort of sin? No, at times they may disobey “sin” and do the right thing (e.g. when a nonbelieving firefighter saves someone from a burning building). On the other hand the believer is someone who ought to act as if he/she has a slave master named “righteousness”. Paul urges people who are already believers to follow righteousness not sin as their slave master. This indicates that it is not automatic, a person must choose to live a lifestyle characterized by righteousness, by obedience to God, rather than characterized by sin. People sometimes push the “slave of sin” metaphor too far, as if the nonbeliever can only sin according to this metaphor. But that cannot be true because if it were true that the nonbeliever can only sin according to this metaphor then the believer by parity of reasoning can only do righteousness and never sins! But we still sin. The metaphor is meant to point to what characterizes the nonbeliever and believer, what their lifestyle is like.

      “Arminius might have referred to this concept when he spoke of the intermediate stage between being unregenerate and regenerate while others have referred to people in this stage as partially regenerated.”

      If you go back to Arminius’ time you will find that both calvinists and non-Calvinists used this language of person being “partially regenerated”. I think it is inaccurate and leads to confusion because I prefer the biblical categories of the nonbeliever who is unregenerate and the believer who is regenerate. If you want to speak of an intermediate state, say a non-believer who has experienced the preconversion work of the Spirit and so is enabled to choose to trust, versus a non-believer who has yet to experience the preconversion work of the Spirit. I guess you could speak this way as long as you are clear that in both cases the person is a nonbeliever and they are not regenerate.

      “Since Arminians believe that regeneration logically comes after faith, when a person repents of his sin and exercises saving faith in Christ, then that person is fully regenerated.”

      See I would say that that person before they have faith is unregenerate and that when they repent of their sin and choose to trust in Christ THEN God saves them/they become regenerate. I suggest avoiding the language of partial versus fully regenerated and replacing it again with the biblical categories of unsaved/unregenerate and saved/regenerate.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Phillip intent on attacking Arminians sides with rhutchin the Calvinist. This demonstrates desperation on Phillip’s part, willing to try anything, side with anyone, if it might help him in his attack of Arminians.
    Phillip’s post also makes for an opportunity for a clarification.

    He writes:

    “The “goal” of enabling grace is to heal the sinner’s deadness. And that goal is successfully achieved and cannot be resisted. Now what the sinner does with the gospel is up to him, but the goal of enabling grace has been accomplished.”

    The goal of enabling grace is NOT to “heal the sinner’s deadness”.

    It may help here to recall that there are two conditions a person can be in: they are either an unbeliever who is spiritually dead (“dead” meaning separated from God and hence separated from “life”). Or they are a believer who is now spiritually alive. The person who is spiritually alive, the believer, has been reconciled with God, had their sins forgiven through the cross, been made a child of God, and has been given the Holy Spirit. The nonbeliever in contrast up until the moment they are saved, is spiritually dead, estranged from God, the wrath of God is upon them/their sins are not yet forgiven, not a child of God, and not having the Spirit dwelling in them.

    Now with these two conditions in mind.

    When the Holy Spirit works in the nonbeliever enabling them to have a faith response, enabling that choice to trust in Christ for salvation: ***until they are saved they are still spiritually dead***.

    So while the person may through the work of the Spirit be enabled to have the choice to trust or not trust: they are not yet spiritually alive (they are not spiritually alive until they are saved). So this enabling does not “heal the sinner’s deadness”: that is confusing the two categories.

    A person is EITHER spiritually dead or spiritually alive.

    Up until the point where they are saved, they remain spiritually dead.

    This also explains why Les Prouty’s question above is off base, Prouty wrote:

    “I’ve yet to see a non Calvinist of this new Traditionalist persuasion explain in their theology what happens when this sinner has something done to him by the Holy Spirit so-called enabling him to accept or reject the good news (which is non sensical in itself) and he rejects it. Does he revert back to his depraved state after having his deadness temporarily dealt with?”

    The “something done to him by the Holy Spirit” is the preconversion work of the Spirit.

    If you don’t experience that you will not be saved.

    Because it is during this preconversion work of the Spirit that the sinner is convicted of sin, shown who Jesus is, shown that Jesus is the only way of salvation, shown that he cannot save himself/herself by their own works but must instead rely on God to save them, etc. etc. Once the sinner experiences this work of the Spirit he/she is now in the place where they can decide to choose to trust or choose to reject God and salvation.

    Prouty says of this work of the Spirit which enables but does not necessitate a faith response “so-called enabling him to accept or reject the good news (which is non sensical in itself)” How is this non-sensical? Is Prouty claiming the enabling work of the Spirit is non-sensical?

    Prouty then asks: “Does he revert back to his depraved state after having his deadness temporarily dealt with?”

    The reason this question is off base is because Prouty like Phillip is neglecting to think and reason in the ***biblical categories of nonbelievers being spiritually dead and believers being spiritually alive***.
    If you use the biblical categories, you see how this question does not make sense.

    Before “Joe” experiences the preconversion work of the Spirit, he *is** spiritually dead. Say that “Joe” goes to a Billy Graham crusade and experiences the preconversion work of the Spirit, so that “Joe” is enabled to now make a choice to trust God to save him (which also means he has the choice to reject God and remain an unbeliever). Is “Joe” now spiritually alive because he has been enabled to make the choice to trust? No. Until he becomes a believer he remains spiritually dead and separated from God. So say that “Joe” instead chooses to reject God and the gospel at the crusade. Is he spiritually alive or spiritually dead? He remains spiritually dead, separated from God by his sins that are not yet covered by the atonement of Christ. The enabling of the Spirit does not make him spiritually alive, he remains dead until he becomes a believer (if he becomes a believer, if he continues in his rejection of God and continues to do so, he remains spiritually dead for this life and then experiences the second death or eternal separation from God). Instead of thinking in terms of his “deadness” being temporarily removed, why not instead think in the biblical categories: a person is either spiritually dead or spiritually alive. Until the person is spiritually alive, no matter what they experience, they remain spiritually dead
    .
    Phillip ended his post with yet another attempt to attack Arminians:

    “Our Arminian brothers are far more Calvinistic then they care to admit (or realize).”

    Arminians disagree with calvinists on unconditional election (which is the key doctrine that distinguishes calvinism from other views): Arminians deny it. Arminians disagree with limited atonement: they affirm universal atonement. Arminians deny irresistible grace: they believe that grace can be resisted, that the preconversion grace that a person receives may be resisted. On the “P” Arminians disagree with some believing a person can lose their salvation and some believing that a person cannot lose their salvation. Arminians agree with calvinists that depravity in some sense is real. But here Arminians hold differing views of depravity (with some holding a very calvinistic conception of depravity and others holding to depravity but not the same ways as calvinists).

    So precisely how are Arminians “far more Calvinistic then they care to admit (or realize)”?

    As a point of history, in the past Phillip when he was still posting as “wingedfooted1” at one time was calling me a “one point Calvinist” at SBC today since I believe in depravity. This is a completely careless and inaccurate use of the term Calvinist. While I personally believe that one cannot lose their salvation. Say that an Arminian denies “U”, denies “L”, denies “I” and also believes you can lose your salvation/denies “P” but they hold to depravity/”T” does that make THAT person a “one point calvinist”???

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  13. Robertgreglyon,

    Thanks for adding to “Robert” so that our posts can be distinguished. 🙂

    “Thanks for taking the time to reply. It’s a bit tricky now, because what started as an initial comment on Leighton’s article has now been mixed with some replys from others on this thread.”

    I understand, that is one of the major difficulties of this medium, trying to reply when multiple responses have occurred.

    [[“1) On Prevenient Grace. I appreciate your response. Here was your question, “do you believe that nonbelievers experience a preconversion work of the Spirit in which He convicts them of their sin, reveals Christ to them, reveals their works will not save them, reveals that Jesus is the way of salvation, etc?”
    My answer is: No I don’t. I would maintain that the Scriptures say “that conviction of sin, a revelation of Christ to the heart, and justification by faith through Christ alone” are (as Leighton would oppose) “spiritually discerned” and *cannot* be understood by the “natural person” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Instead, these things would seem to indicate to me that such a person is born again. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).”]]

    I have to disagree with you on this, because it appears as if you are saying that only a person who is born again can understand these things.

    I have done a lot of witnessing and I know people who experienced the work of the Spirit and so they now understood that they were sinners, that Jesus was the way of salvation, etc. AND YET THEY WERE NOT YET SAVED, NOT YET BORN AGAIN. Then they heard the message again and became “more open” (a term used by many referring to a person seeming to have more knowledge and understanding of spiritual things then they had before and yet they are not yet saved). I have had people share their testimony with me and share having had this exact experience. I also have witnessed to some people who also had this experience of becoming more open and understanding more and yet up till now they are not saved persons.

    To use one example, I know a guy named Gene whose mother was a Christian, he is not a believer and yet he shared with me how he went to a Billy Graham crusade and heard the message and he knew he should go forward and accept Christ and be saved. He also knew that he said No because he did not want to give up control of his life to Jesus. After this experience he had a co-worker who was in the very next office who witnessed to him. Gene knows and understands a lot about the Christian faith, he has been witnessed to by me and others for years, and he is not born again and yet he understands things. He appears to have experienced the work of the Spirit and yet He keeps saying “No”. He is just one example and I can share many others, so I know these kind of people exist, and none of them is born again. So Robert while your theology may lead you to claim that only a born again person can ever understand spiritual things, my experience and the direct words of people contradicts this theology. I believe that Leighton is correct about these verses in 1 Corinthians and that you are mistaken about them.

    [[“2) Sorry my second point didn’t seem to make sense. Hopefully I can clarify:
    You said, “I gotta be honest this does not make much sense. The gospel refers to the good news connected with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (cf. 1 Cor. 15) … this good news is part of the process of salvation that a believer goes through. To quote an old and now deceased Calvinist friend of mine, Francis Schaeffer, in this life we do not experience full healing. Our healing is only partial. It is only in the eternal state when we have the resurrection body that we will be completely healed. So the talk about a “pre-fix” in order to be “fixed” implies that once we become believers that everything is fixed, everything is healed.”
    – I agree. The gospel is indeed the “good news” of Christ. But Romans 1:16 teaches us that residing in the very content of the gospel (i.e. 1 Cor 15) is God’s supernatural power to save, his means. It is by the content of the gospel that he quickens- and you actually seem to articulate that when responding to Romans 1:16.”]]

    Yes “residing in the very content of the gospel . . . is God’s supernatural power to save”. But Paul has made it clear, especially in the book of Romans that “his means” is through the instrumentality of faith. If a person does not have faith, then all the gospel preaching in the world will have no effect upon them. It is the proclamation of the gospel accompanied by the preconversion work of the Spirit which enables a faith response. The person must then choose to have this faith response or they will not be saved. The faith of their parents, or friends will not save them. It has to be their own individual choice to place their trust in Christ alone, that must occur for them to be saved.

    [[“– The whole “pre-fix” / “fix” concept was a minor point in reply to DIZERNER, where he said, “Prevenient grace DOES NOT FULLY FIX the fallen nature of it man, it merely allows them TO SEE AND ACCEPT the fix. A fix for a fix, if you will.” He and I were using the word “fix” for salvation. I take issue with his position and would refer you to my comment again with that sense in mind. And, of course, I agree with you (and F. Schaeffer) – we will never experience complete healing in this life.”]]

    Right, I understand what you are saying here. I just wanted to be clear that the gospel will be involved when a person is saved. And yet even when saved they will not be “fully fixed” or “fully healed”, instead the most we can expect in this life is substantial healing.

    [[“You said, “And with regard to the gospel there is no such thing as an “insufficient gospel” … Paul does speak of a false gospel, but this is a denial of the true gospel: and genuine believers whether they be calvinists or non-Calvinists hold to the true gospel.”
    – I fear you may have missed again *the reason* I am using the language “insufficient.” Leighton said that the gospel of the Calvinist is “insufficient” in his article above. So you should take issue with him on that. Instead of calling the Calvinist’s gospel “insufficient” (until God regenerates man), as Leighton did; I am proposing, given Romans 1:16, that the gospel (from a Calvinist perspective) has the very supernatural, quickening power of God residing in its glorious message. Make sense? Again, I agree that there is only one true Gospel message that both the Calvinist and non-Calvinist *content-wise*.”]]

    I am uncomfortable if either a Calvinist or non-Calvinist speaks as if they alone have the true gospel while the other has a false or “insufficient gospel”. Again I believe that Calvinists can be genuine believers as can non-Calvinists: and that if they are genuinely saved persons then they both hold the true gospel. The disagreement between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is not about the true gospel. The disagreement is about things such as the nature and implications of depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, compatibilism versus libertarian free will, God’s providence, etc.

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    1. You said, “I have to disagree with you on this, because it appears as if you are saying that only a person who is born again can understand these things…I have done a lot of witnessing and I know people who experienced the work of the Spirit and so they now understood that they were sinners, that Jesus was the way of salvation, etc. AND YET THEY WERE NOT YET SAVED, NOT YET BORN AGAIN…So Robert while your theology may lead you to claim that only a born again person can ever understand spiritual things, my experience and the direct words of people contradicts this theology.”

      I understand where you are coming from. I just simply don’t see the Bible giving us any justification for believing that what you have *experienced* with Gene (and others) was a genuine work of the Spirit. In fact, I only find things contrary to your experience written clearly in Scripture, testifying that *only those who are born again* can truly understand their sinfulness, the exclusivity of Christ, the necessity of faith, etc. (Romans 8:4-7; 1 Cor 2:14; 2 Cor 4:4; Acts 16:14). My hope is to be firmly fixed and informed by Scripture, not experience. Here is question for you: Where in Bible do you find teaching or narrative that is consistent with your opinion above?

      You said, “Yes “residing in the very content of the gospel . . . is God’s supernatural power to save”. But Paul has made it clear, especially in the book of Romans that “his means” is through the instrumentality of faith. If a person does not have faith, then all the gospel preaching in the world will have no effect upon them. It is the proclamation of the gospel accompanied by the preconversion work of the Spirit which enables a faith response. The person must then choose to have this faith response or they will not be saved.”

      I think I can agree to an extent. But again, our presuppositions differ. You believe faith activates salvation and I believe God activates faith unto salvation through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). This is the enduring debate, of course. But thanks for your reply, you are right to make the distinction between faith and the gospel, there is a difference.

      Peace,
      RL

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      1. “If a person does not have faith, then all the gospel preaching in the world will have no effect upon them. It is the proclamation of the gospel accompanied by the preconversion work of the Spirit which enables a faith response.”

        The preconversion condition of the person is that he has “no” faith as you state. You recognize the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit (as both Calvinists and Arminians also do) joined with the proclamation of the gospel to enable a faith response. Thus, you oppose the position that the preaching of the gospel by itself is sufficient to enable a faith response.

        Under these circumstances, if one person accepts the gospel and another rejects the gospel, then we can trace these decisions back to preconversion work of the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit has treated each person differently effectively drawing one to salvation while ignoring the other leading to rejection.

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      2. robertgreglyon,

        You quoted me and then responded:

        [[You said, “I have to disagree with you on this, because it appears as if you are saying that only a person who is born again can understand these things…I have done a lot of witnessing and I know people who experienced the work of the Spirit and so they now understood that they were sinners, that Jesus was the way of salvation, etc. AND YET THEY WERE NOT YET SAVED, NOT YET BORN AGAIN…So Robert while your theology may lead you to claim that only a born again person can ever understand spiritual things, my experience and the direct words of people contradicts this theology.”
        I understand where you are coming from. I just simply don’t see the Bible giving us any justification for believing that what you have *experienced* with Gene (and others) was a genuine work of the Spirit. In fact, I only find things contrary to your experience written clearly in Scripture, testifying that *only those who are born again* can truly understand their sinfulness, the exclusivity of Christ, the necessity of faith, etc. (Romans 8:4-7; 1 Cor 2:14; 2 Cor 4:4; Acts 16:14). My hope is to be firmly fixed and informed by Scripture, not experience. Here is question for you: Where in Bible do you find teaching or narrative that is consistent with your opinion above?]]

        There are some problems with your comments here. First, the Bible does not tell us everything that happens in a particular situation. In most cases it provides a summary, especially the narrative portions. And also in most cases we are not told everything about a situation being discussed, the authors are usually highlighting things, focusing on particular things. If this is true, then we cannot argue from the silence of the Bible to some conclusion. For example after Peter gives his message at Pentecost, we are told that many became believers. We are not told what each of those persons was thinking, what prayers they made to God, we are only told the highlights (message given by Peter, positive response by many to the message). When it comes to narratives about evangelism in the Bible we are usually told who gives the message and that many (or in some cases some, or even an individual) come to faith. The Bible does not tell us how each individual prayed to God, how each individual repented of their sin, how the Spirit was revealing Christ to each individual, etc. This does not mean these things did not occur, we just are not told this information. My point is that the silence of the Bible on certain things does not mean they did not happen. Beware of arguments from silence using the Bible, they only prove that the Bible did not speak of that fact.

        Second, you seem to doubt Gene’s experience as well as others, claiming that “I just don’t see the Bible giving us any justification for believing that what you have *experienced* with Gene (and others) was a genuine work of the Spirit.” The Bible does not tell us about the conversion or non-conversion experience of every person including Gene. If it did so it would be a much larger book!  That is my first problem with your statement here: it is as if you are saying that unless the Bible specifically talks about Gene and his experience, then his experience was not/or is not real. As I said, I can recount multiple experiences of people/s conversion or continuing lack of conversion experiences. I also know people (including myself) that did not believe the first time we heard the message. In fact we heard multiple times and did not believe. Some of us experienced witnessing by Christians that went on for weeks, months, even years, before we became believers.

        Now here is the thing, you can discount our experiences but upon what basis?

        There are no Bible verses that say each person became a believer the first time they heard the message. And for those of us who were not instantly converted, we know we were experiencing the work of the Spirit, we know we were convicted of sin, that scripture was being illuminated for us by the Spirit, that we were learning, understanding, and knowing spiritual truths that previously we never knew, that in some cases previously we were very hostile towards or indifferent towards. Many of us can recount the process of how we started having no interest in Christianity and yet as time went on we heard, learned and understood more and more. And yet we also know that we were not yet saved. You simply cannot dismiss these genuine experiences as out of hand simply because they do not fit your theology. They do not contradict any Bible verse, they contradict your theology: big difference. Others here if they shared their conversion experiences could share the same things, that they were becoming more open, more understanding, knowing the Spirit was working on them, and yet they were not yet saved. This may not fit your theology, but it does not conflict with scripture at all. The only scripture that it conflicts with is some verses that you apparently have misinterpreted (e.g. the 1 Cor. 2 passages that Leighton Flowers discussed).

        [[You said, “Yes “residing in the very content of the gospel . . . is God’s supernatural power to save”. But Paul has made it clear, especially in the book of Romans that “his means” is through the instrumentality of faith. If a person does not have faith, then all the gospel preaching in the world will have no effect upon them. It is the proclamation of the gospel accompanied by the preconversion work of the Spirit which enables a faith response. The person must then choose to have this faith response or they will not be saved.”
        I think I can agree to an extent. But again, our presuppositions differ. You believe faith activates salvation and I believe God activates faith unto salvation through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). This is the enduring debate, of course. But thanks for your reply, you are right to make the distinction between faith and the gospel, there is a difference.]]

        Well I understand that we have differing presuppositions, we better agree that justification is through faith. We may disagree about how that faith comes about in a person, but there is no room for disagreement about the instrumentality of faith.

        Just some clarification regarding your statement that “You believe faith activates salvation and I believe God activates faith unto salvation through the gospel.”

        I would say that the Holy Spirit working in conjunction with the proclamation of the gospel enables but does not necessitate faith. Non-Calvinists believe that while the sinner experiences a grace from God before conversion (that is unmerited and unearned) namely the preconversion work of the Spirit. That grace is resistible. The Holy Spirit can reveal Christ to a person, convict them of sin, etc. and yet they may not end up as a believer.

        In scripture (John 16) we are told that the Spirit convicts the world of righteousness, sin and judgment. In scripture we are also told that not everyone is saved. If we put these two statements together the conclusion is that while the Spirit works on the world (and world cannot mean only believers, or only those who end up as believers) since not all will be saved, some must therefore be resisting this work of the Spirit. So scripture presents this reality, that more people will experience the work of the Spirit than the number that will eventually become Christians.

        Experience confirms this reality if you get out and actually witness to folks. You will see evidences that the Spirit is working on people (e.g. them becoming more open towards Christianity, them becoming more interested in spiritual things so that they want to hear what the Bible says, they want to go to a church service, they want to read the Bible for themselves, they start asking questions not to attack Christianity but to understand it better, etc. etc. etc.), and yet they still not are saved, and in some cases never will be saved. Our experiences then do not contradict scripture when it comes to evangelism and the preconversion work of the Spirit, they will only confirm what scripture says. Now scripture may not explicitly refer to individuals such as Gene (or myself, or many, many others) and describe how he would experience the work of the Spirit and yet continue to say “No”: but Gene’s experience merely confirms what scripture explicitly declares (that the Spirit will convict the WORLD of sin, righteousness and judgment AND yet not all will end up believers, e.g. Matthew 25 the sheep and the goats).

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      3. “The Holy Spirit can reveal Christ to a person, convict them of sin, etc. and yet they may not end up as a believer.’

        Christ is revealed through the preaching of the gospel. If Christ were revealed by the Holy Spirit, there would be no need for the preaching of the gospel. The Holy Spirit prepares a person to hear the gospel and the gospel tells him about Christ. The person who does not believe was not been prepared by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does not do half the job and then quit.

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    2. Regarding Gene, the conclusion we draw from his actions is that he had heard the gospel but was not buying what it said – it was foolishness to him. That was Paul’s declaration – the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing.

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  14. Rhutchin writes:

    “The preconversion condition of the person is that he has “no” faith as you state. You recognize the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit (as both Calvinists and Arminians also do) joined with the proclamation of the gospel to enable a faith response. Thus, you oppose the position that the preaching of the gospel by itself is sufficient to enable a faith response.”

    God’s standard operating procedure is the Spirit working through the Word. So normally when the gospel is being faithfully proclaimed the Spirit is present and active. The Spirit is working through the one sharing the gospel and the Spirit is also working in the one who is hearing the gospel. To speak of the “preaching of the gospel by itself is sufficient to enable a faith response” is to mistakenly separate the Word from the work of the Spirit. This is a mistake because they normally work in conjunction.

    “Under these circumstances, if one person accepts the gospel and another rejects the gospel, then we can trace these decisions back to preconversion work of the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit has treated each person differently effectively drawing one to salvation while ignoring the other leading to rejection.”

    This is mistaken as well. If one accepts and one rejects, we do not trace these decisions to what rhutchin claims “The Holy Spirit has treated each person differently effectively drawing one to salvation while ignoring the other leading to rejection.” The Bible does not teach this point that the Spirit draws only one, the one who accepts and IGNORES the other, the one who rejects. No, the Bible says explicitly that the world will be drawn. This means that each individual will experience the drawing of the Spirit at least once in their lifetimes. God says he loves the world and that Jesus died for the whole world and that the Spirit convicts the whole world. That is clearly God making efforts to save the world. And yet some will not end up as believers. Is their lack of faith caused by God, as rhutchin claims by God IGNORING them: or is their rejection their own choice and thus their own responsbility?

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    1. The proclamation of the gospel is done at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who calls pastors to preach and others to go to the mission field. It is the Holy Spirit who then goes with the pastors and missionaries to empower the preaching of the gospel through His preconversion work on the hearers. Your mistake is to make the preaching of the word an action in which the Holy Spirit is not involved. It is to relegate the Holy Spirit to the position of having to take advantage of opportunities afforded it by those who preach or witness rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to create those opportunities. You neuter the Holy Spirit.

      “This means that each individual will experience the drawing of the Spirit at least once in their lifetimes. ” A person is drawn to Christ by God through means of the gospel. It is the preconversion work of the Holy Spirit acting on the person that enables the person to be drawn (are we to think that the Holy Spirit does not know how to prepare a person to be drawn?) – otherwise the preaching of the gospel has no effect on the depraved person as the gospel continues to be received as foolishness. If the Holy Spirit enables all people equally to be drawn to the gospel, then all will respond to the drawing by God and be saved – it is only where the Holy Spirit passes over a person and does not prepare them to be drawn that we see a person continuing to respond in their depravity. Again, you seem bent on neutering the Holy Spirit.

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  15. Dizerner,

    I hope you are discerning the semi-Pelagian/Pelagian doctrine that Phillip is now openly spewing out. At times in the past he wasn’t so forthright about what he holds. But now he is being quite open. What is also evident is his intense dislike for both Calvinists and Arminians.

    He is also trying (unsuccessfully to parallel your beliefs with Piper:

    [[John Piper writes…..
    “And when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your belief—like all other spiritual blessings—was purchased by the death of Christ. The sin of unbelief was covered by the blood in your case, and therefore the power of God’s mercy was released through the cross to subdue your rebellion and bring you to the Son. You did not make the cross effective in your life by faith. The cross became effective in your life by purchasing your faith.”
    Since you believe that prevenient (enabling) grace is an outflow of the work of the cross, yours would read as follows….
    “And when you believe as you ought to believe, you will discover that your ability to believe—like all other spiritual blessings—was purchased by the death of Christ. The effect of total depravity was partially healed by the blood in your case, and therefore the power of God’s mercy was released through the cross to subdue your rebellion. You did not make the cross effective in your life by faith. The cross became effective in your life by partially healing your depravity thus enabling you with the ability to believe.”]]

    Phillip then adds:

    “I pray you can see the glaring errors in both.

    We should pray that he sees the glaring errors of his semi-Pelagianism! Phillip claims he believes in depravity but then gets upset when others point out that God has to deal with this condition in a supernatural way.

    Dizerner, you wrote:

    “Can I ask you one question, since you seem to vehemently deny any kind of prevenient grace.”

    That is just it, since he “vehemently denies prevenient grace” he is hostile to Arminians.

    “You ask…. “What keeps every sinner right now out of hell? And what, exactly and precisely, is the reason keeping sinners out of hell based in”
    Well, the quick and easy answer is God’s grace, but its more than that.”

    You see a comment like this from Phillip and you think wow he is not that off base, but then he says there is “more than that”. What more do we need then God’s grace? If God’s grace is not enough, not sufficient, then we have some real problems.

    “Though I see your solution to TD as being unbiblical (the proverbial cart before the horse), it is okay with me that you believe it (even though it pains me).”

    Note dizerner that it “pains him” that you hold to the truth of total depravity and the need for God’s grace. Well it pains the rest of us to see a Pelagian in action. You don’t have to be calvinist to know Pelagians are wrong in their doctrinal beliefs.

    “All I suggest is that when the Calvinist gives you his answer for TD that you give him grace and allow him to believe it too, even when you know he is wrong.”

    So then supposedly Phillip feels this same way about Arminians? No, he detests Arminians and constantly and repeatedly misrepresents their views.

    “That said, Arminians do seem to agree that a supernatural work of grace is needed to overcome man’s depravity, that without, man will never come to faith in Christ.”

    “God’s word says faith comes by hearing the word of God. I agree. However, Arminianism, for the most part, seems to teach that the word is fine and dandy, but the issue of depravity must be addressed first.”

    Here we see again that Phillip does not understand that the Arminian believes that the Spirit and the Word work together. Just hearing a gospel presentation is not going to lead a sinner to beg God to save him. He will just shrug it off and say that’s nice, Jesus came and died for my sins, how nice of Him. No, that sinner has to be convicted of their sin by the Spirit, shown who Jesus is (not just a good teacher, not just a prophet), and shown that Jesus is the way of salvation. When the Spirit works in a person they end up begging God to save them, realizing they are sinners completely underserving of what Jesus did.

    “Do I believe in depravity? Of course. The bible teaches it. And I even see evidence of it here by some of the comments I read. Even I’m depraved by evidence of my everyday life.”

    Well this is what is so strange about Phillip, he says he believes in depravity, sees it all over, and yet he thinks that this depravity does not impact the sinner’s capacity to trust the Lord at all. Listening to Phillip you could think that we don’t need the Spirit at all to work in sinners, just give the message and watch them come to faith on their own, through their own abilities, their own intelligence, their own understanding.

    “All that said, I don’t see the Augustinian notion of TD in scripture.”

    Depends how this “Augustinian notion” is defined. I don’t share the typical calvinist conception that depravity means the nonbeliever is like a physically dead corpse incapable of anything.

    “Apparently, Calvinists and their Arminian offspring do. Now since they both believe in TD, they are both obligated to come up with a solution for it. And to date, I haven’t seen, or read, a biblical one.”

    Note dizerner that this same guy claims to believe in depravity, but now he says he denies total depravity. Total depravity in its normal usage means that sin has effected every aspect of mankind (our bodies, our minds, everything). The Bible has clear references that sin has effected all aspects of mankind. So who denies it? Not Calvinists, Not Arminians. Who then? Well Pelagians like Phillip.

    “The Calvinist sees the Arminian solution for TD as unbiblical. And I believe they are right. The Arminian sees the Calvinist solution for TD as unbiblical. And I believe they are right. So while both camps fight with one another over who is right and wrong, I just sit back and laugh (irony implied). I look at both camps and think “if only you applied the same scrutiny to your own belief as you do to the other”.”

    Note that Phillip is the one “laughing”, the one who denies total depravity, the one who denies that grace is necessary for a person to come to faith in Christ. I disagree with calvinists on some things, and I disagree with their beliefs concerning the consequences of sin. But I do not disagree with them that sin has effected every aspect of humanity.

    “Of course both camps come together and accuse me, falsely, of being Pelagian, or Semi-Pelagian. So they have that in common too. But, you know, sticks and stones.”

    Phillip shows his ignorance here. His beliefs have been historically described as Pelagian or semi-Pelagian. Phillip needs to do some historical research to eliminate his ignorance in this area. I don’t mind if he says he believes X, Y and Z. But if X, Y, and Z have for CENTURIES been referred to as Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian beliefs, he needs to own up to it.

    “Some time ago, I actually had an Arminian tell me that the apostle Paul held Arminian beliefs. Not that Arminians held Pauline beliefs, but that Paul actually held Arminian beliefs! How sad.”

    Hmm, let’s compare some typical Arminian beliefs with Paul. Arminians believe that universal atonement is true (so did Paul). Arminians affirm corporate election (so did Paul especially in Ephesians 1). Arminians affirm the ordinary view of free will (so did Paul). Arminians deny determinism (so did Paul). Arminians believe the grace of God can be resisted (so did Paul). Arminians believe that God loves the world and that God desires that all be saved (so did Paul). Arminians deny unconditional election and reprobation believing this contradicts God’s love and desire for all to be saved. Etc. Etc. Etc.

    And what exactly is sad about those beliefs just listed?

    Fact is that Phillip is so against total depravity, so against the necessity of grace for a person to come to faith that he has to attack these things and so attack Arminians. Instead of making the ignorant and ill- informed statements he makes he ought to consider how much he holds in common with Arminians. But he is incapable of that as he hates the doctrine of total depravity so much.

    “The blessing of not being a Calvinist or Arminian is I am not held captive by their beliefs. Nor do I have to answer for what they believe.”

    Yep, he is not captive to “their beliefs” which again include things like God actually loving the whole world and desiring for the world to be saved; providing Jesus as an atonement for the whole world, etc.

    “If I am “vehemently” opposed to prevenient grace, its only for the same reason you are opposed to “regeneration precedes faith”. And that is because you don’t see it in scripture.”

    So Phillip does not see the preconversion work of the Spirit, the incarnation of Jesus, etc. in scripture?

    “Regardless, I hope and pray you continue to give this notion of prevenient (enabling) grace more thought. Especially regarding its origin and how it is applied to the lost sinner.”

    If only Phillip would follow his own words, he needs to seriously reconsider his unjustified attack of Arminians, his denial of total depravity, his denial of the need for grace for sinners to end up begging God to save them.

    “Grace makes salvation obtainable by faith. If it wasn’t for God’s grace, man would have to earn salvation. And we both know he can’t (there’s your inability). But believe? Yeah, man can do that, at least once equipped with the word of God.”

    If believe means that a person can agree to the proposition that Jesus died on the cross, yes the sinner can do that. But the devils believe that Jesus died on the cross as well, they have intellectual assent for that reality. They just don’t repent of their sin, they just don’t beg God to save them. And nobody begs God to save them unless they have experienced the preconversion work of the Spirit, the prevenient grace that makes a faith response possible but does not necessitate it.

    “But when both Calvinists and Arminians speak of prevenient grace, they mean a grace that overcomes or deals with man’s depravity (TD). It something that God must do to change us if we are going to believe (because, for them, we can’t). And they mean something far different than simply “coming to a knowledge of the truth”.”

    Again, the work of the Spirit in the sinner is undeserved and unmerited, it is grace from God. Without that grace, that grace that comes before a person gets saved, that grace that enables a faith response, people may believe that Jesus died on the cross, but they will have no conviction for their sins and they will not beg God to save them.

    PS – Oh, and Phillip if you read this and want to quote some more verses from Proverbs, feel free to do so, Proverbs is one of my favorite books.

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  16. Dizerner,

    I want to provide a clarification about some things that Phillip said earlier in this thread:

    [[Regarding the SEA you asked….
    “Don’t they also hold to eternal security?”
    Actually, I believe this is a doctrine that they are divided on. I have no clue what the percentage is, but my understanding is this doctrine has caused a lot of in-house bickering. I believe Arminius, himself, thought it was worth further study. So, yeah, you would still be welcomed with open arms. Me? Nope. TD is mandatory. At least that was what one of their major contributors told me.”]]

    Arminians are not divided on the issue of eternal security, rather, there are some who hold to it and some who do not (in my observation most Arminians deny eternal security). They certainly disagree on this, but they are not divided on this.

    Phillip’s statement that:

    “but my understanding is this doctrine has caused a lot of in-house bickering.”

    Is not true at all, I post at SEA’s discussion group, and while there is disagreement about eternal security and the issue is sometimes discussed, there is not “a lot of in-house bickering”. This is Phillip’s completely unsupported opinion, gossip actually.

    Regarding Arminius, during his lifetime he did not come to a set conclusion regarding eternal security and he did say it was “worth further study”. Subsequent Arminians after Arminius for the most part have concluded that eternal security is not correct.

    I believe this is a major reason why Baptists who hold lots of Arminian beliefs, sometimes distance themselves from Arminians thinking that they all deny eternal security (when Baptists all affirm eternal security). They do not all deny eternal security.

    To use myself as an example, I am Baptist in theology, affirm eternal security, and would be considered Arminian by most. And yet when I dialogue with Arminians at SEA who deny eternal security I am treated with respect and we don’t “bicker” over this doctrine.

    “So, yeah, you would still be welcomed with open arms. Me? Nope. TD is mandatory. At least that was what one of their major contributors told me.”

    Total Depravity “is mandatory” at SEA because it is the Society of Evangelical Arminians, and Arminians do affirm total depravity. This should be no surprise that an Arminian group would expect its members to affirm total depravity.

    Just as you would expect that an Arminian group would deny membership to a Pelagian or semi-Pelagian like Phillip.

    Differing groups have differing doctrinal stances. You cannot be expected to be allowed to be a member of a Calvinist group if you deny unconditional election.

    Phillip may not be welcome to join an Arminian group with his Pelagian beliefs, but I am sure if there were a Pelagian group that required its members to deny total depravity, Arminians and Calvinists would not be allowed to be members in that Pelagian group as well.

    If there were an open theist group where you had to hold the open theist views on foreknowledge, then Brian Wagner would fit in there nicely and be welcomed while others such as myself who are not open theists would not be welcomed there as members.

    Each group will have its own standards, nothing wrong with that. Which is why I would not expect to be welcomed to whatever Pelagian group Phillip is a member of. Or whatever open theist group Brian Wagner is a member of.

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  17. There are so many instances of Prof. Flowers butchering the text that it’s hard to determine where to start debunking his argument. There are several false premises and false dichotomies referenced in this article. As I’ve stated to Prof. Flowers previously in other correspondences, I don’t believe he’s truly thinking out his interpretations to their logical conclusions.
    But let me address a few of his false premises and dichotomies:
    One huge false premise is that “natural man” can believe the Gospel without the Holy Spirit applying the Gospel message to each believer’s heart. Prof. Flowers believes that the Spirit inspired the Gospel message and alone is sufficient to save. However, he seems to reject the fact that the Spirit must open/prepare the heart to receive the message. Here’s the truth of salvation that we all must grasp: SALVATION IS A DIVINE MIRACLE! It’s not just a matter of one recognizing his sinful state and need for a Savior. Recognizing your sinfulness and need for salvation doesn’t save anyone.The Gospel message has been inspired by the Spirit as holy men of old spoke as the Spirit moved them. However, the Spirit must ALSO apply that inspired message to the hearts of those that God has chosen before creation. I don’t see any mention of this fact in any of Prof. Flowers writings.

    Here is a false dichotomy that Prof. Flowers deduces from the text:

    “The understanding of 1 Cor. 2:14 becomes very simple when we answer the first question posed by this verse, “Why won’t the natural man accept the things that come from the Spirit of God?”

    Because God so determined it
    or

    Because the man freely chose the wisdom of the world over the wisdom being revealed by spiritually wrought means (apostles, scriptures, etc)?”

    Yes God predetermined that most men will not believe the Gospel and die reprobates. But that’s not the point of this passage. Here God is explaining how the “natural man” views the Gospel and why he views it that way. The natural man does depend on his own wisdom because he has no other wisdom from which to glean. The only other wisdom is the Gospel, but he can’t glean from that wisdom because it can only be spiritually understood by the working of the Holy Spirit. Mankind will always find the Gospel to be foolishness because his wisdom comes from his fallen nature. So therefore, God must apply His wisdom to man’s heart so that he can freely believe. So this passage is NOT comparing God’s predetermination of the reprobate vs mankind’s free choice to believe the Gospel as folly. The passage (1 Cor 2:14) is clearly revealing the nature of fallen man and why he believes God’s Word to be folly.
    Unfortunately Prof. Flowers, you tend to introduce other concepts from other parts of Scripture that conflate and convolute the apostle’s original intention in that particular passage. This is why your hermeneutic will ALWAYS be flawed and you will never come to truth. For example, you made the statement, “It is absolutely impossible to rightly interpret Paul’s intention of 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 without first having a firm grasp on the concept of “wisdom” in the Greek culture. Paul uses a form of the word “wisdom” twenty six times in just the first three chapters. Needless to say, the apostle’s theme is overwhelming.” -This is theology built upon a false premise for it’s absolutely false to interpret this passage based on knowing the Greek concept of wisdom. This is a clear case of isogesis and the text does not support it. In fact, your perspective is really untenable because of your insertion of the Greeks’ concept of wisdom. Paul is giving us a robust description of mankind and it’s offensive to the “natural man”. This passage has nothing to do with the Greeks’ concept of wisdom, yet you introduce it into the text with no basis for doing so. What’s really sad is that, in essence, your debunking Paul’s argument by reframing the message to fit your hermeneutic and it’s so clear that you’re doing this. This is quite dangerous because you’re twisting the very Word of God to suit your perspective and then teaching it as truth.

    When you refute a clear statement of Scripture (i.e. 1 Cor 2:14) by having to reframe the author’s original argument/intent, an experienced bible student can see right through your mishandling of the text. I speak the truth in love Prof. Flowers!

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