Disabled from Birth by God’s Design?

Does not the insistence of the need for a “prevenient” (prior) working of enabling (or irresistible) grace assume that the gospel revelation itself is not sufficiently gracious and enabling?

  • Why do so many seem to presume the Holy Spirit’s inspired truth, preserved in the scriptures and carried by the Holy Spirit led Bride of Christ is not sufficient to enable the lost to respond willingly to it’s appeals?
  • Why should we accept the far-fetched claim that mankind is born able to place their trust in the claims of the Koran but not the Bible?
  • Does it make much sense to teach that mankind is born in a kind of fallen condition that makes them unable to even respond willingly to God’s own powerful and gracious appeals to be reconciled from that fallen condition?
  • Where does this presumption originate and why do so many seem to accept it without question?

First of all, we can see that this assumption has not always been prevalent in the church.

Irenaeus, (130-202) wrote, “We have known the method of our salvation by no other means than those by whom the gospel came to us; which gospel they truly preached; but afterward, by the will of God, they delivered to us in the Scriptures, to be for the future the foundation and pillar of our faith,” (Adv. H. 3:1)

Athanasius wrote, “The Holy Scriptures, given by inspiration of God, are of themselves sufficient toward the discovery of truth.”

And, most importantly, the scriptures themselves teach:

“…you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:15-16).

“Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

“It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).

“Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Yes, they have: Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world” (Rom. 10:17-18).

“And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him BECAUSE OF THE WORD OF THE WOMAN who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed BECAUSE OF HIS OWN WORD. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42 NKJV)

“At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There THEY SPOKE SO EFFECTIVELY that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.” (Acts 14:1)

“…from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets (the written word of God) he tried to persuade them about Jesus. Some were convinced BY WHAT HE SAID, but others would not believe.” (Acts 28:23a-24)

‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:16-18, emphasis added)

“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 Christ,  which 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 Spirit…” (Eph. 3:1-5, emphasis added) 

We must not presume that just because man is born fallen that the gospel is not up for the task of enabling the fallen man to respond to its appeal for reconciliation from that fall. In other words, there is no reason to assume that God’s message of hope is hopeless to enable a willing response from those who need it the most.

Think about this objectively for a minute.  To teach this concept of pre-faith regeneration or even the necessity of “prevenient grace” means you have to affirm that God (for some unknown reason) decided to punish all of us for the sin of Adam by making us all innately incapable of responding willingly to His own word unless He actively did something to make us able again. Does that make any rational sense if viewed objectively?

The lost can accept the Koran, the Book of Morman and every Satanic lie the world has to offer, but the awesome truth revealed in the Bible was placed on shelf beyond every man’s reach.  Why? Why would God intentionally make mankind’s fallen nature able to accept the truths revealed in every other factual history book but not His own Holy word? Why has God decided to permit the fallen man to place his trust in the mythical fictions produced by atheists and liars, but banned them from birth from seeing the rich and beautiful truth of His graciously inspired word? [Granted, for the Classical Arminian the truth of God is brought down to a lower shelf to be made accessible for everyone at some mysterious point and some mysterious way, but that makes one question why they assume He put it on the top self to begin with?]

Calvinists speak of mankind being born with an innate distain for God and His revealed truth, yet they often fail to mention that mankind is born like this due to God’s own sovereign decree (according to their own systematic). So, God decided that all mankind would be born with an uncontrollable distain for truth and then sends them to burn in hell for eternity for rejecting that truth? And this is supposed to bring Him glory? How so?

Scripture does not teach that men are born with a depraved mind, a calloused heart, defiled, and hardened so as to be totally unable to willingly respond to the clearly revealed truth of God. Instead, it teaches that mankind may “trade the truth in for lies” (Rom. 1:25) so as to be given “over to a depraved mind” (Rom. 1:18).  It says they may “become calloused” (Acts 28:27a) so as to grow into a condition that is unable to “see, hear understand and turn” (Acts 28:27b). Scripture says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21).  Notice that this is never described as a condition from birth.

The author of Hebrews warns, “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). And even more explicitly, “if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 3:7).  Again, nothing here indicates all are people born in a totally hardened condition from birth, but instead a sharp warning is given against allowing such hardening to come. What is the point in warning a blind man to not allow himself to become blind?

The first chapter of James also makes this truth quite clear:

When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15).

When sin is “full-grown” it “gives birth to death?”  Calvinists would have us believe its full grown from the time we are born, in that they teach we are “corpse-like” dead and thus totally incapable of willingly responding to God’s revelation — and this by God’s eternal and unchangeable decree!

Now, I know Calvinists are quick to argue that Total Depravity does not mean mankind is as bad as they could be, but that is not addressing my point of contention. I am not making that argument.  I am talking about “Total Inability,” which is mankind’s supposed inability to recognize their fallen condition and repent even when confronted by God’s powerfully revealed truth. That presumption is simply unfounded in the text.

So, where do Calvinists go to support the concept of mankind’s Total Inability to respond willingly to the gospel truth?  The three most quoted proof texts* for Calvinists do not even reference the gospel, yet the gospel is God’s powerful, gracious Holy Spirit wrought solution to the very fallen condition they presume is preventing man’s ability to respond willingly to its appeal.

*Romans 8:7-8; John 6:44; 1 Cor. 2:14: All of these proof texts are addressed HERE and on many of the podcasts.  1 Cor. 2 is discussed more fully HERE.


Here is a discussion between a Southern Baptist Calvinist and me, a Southern Baptist Traditionalist, over these issues.

Added point of clarity: Mike Keel, a listener, sent me this and I like it. “My take-away is this: scripture is entirely sufficient for bringing one to repentance and reconciliation to God. At the same time, I believe the Holy Spirit draws the unbeliever through various means including human agency, scripture, and an internal call.”

Point being is that I am not suggesting the Holy Spirit is not still actively working to draw the lost to Himself. I simply deny that His doing so suggests the work of scripture is insufficient in and of itself to lead one to faith. Additional revelatory work does not suggest the previous work is somehow insufficient to accomplish its purpose.

258 thoughts on “Disabled from Birth by God’s Design?

  1. “Why do so many seem to presume the Holy Spirit’s inspired truth, preserved in the scriptures and carried by the Holy Spirit lead Bride of Christ is not sufficient to enable the lost to respond willingly to it’s appeals?”

    Jesus taught in the parable of the seeds that the preaching the gospel does not always save.

    19 When any one hears the word of the kingdom, and understands it not, then comes the wicked one, and catches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side
    20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that hears the word, and anon with joy receives it;
    21 Yet he has not root in himself, but endures for a while: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, by and by he is offended.
    22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that hears the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

    So, Jesus describes three situations in which the person hears the word preached but the result is that the lost do not respond willingly to it’s appeals. So, it happens.

    23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

    However, there are situations where the lost do respond to the gospel (the word of the kingdom).

    Is it by chance that one person understands the gospel and another does not so that one is saved and another not?

    Does it make sense to teach that mankind is born in a kind of fallen condition that makes them unable to even respond willingly to God’s own powerful and gracious appeals to be reconciled from that fallen condition?

    Does not God tell us the truth when He writes, “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of His disciples that are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31)? Are God and Jesus on the same page?

    How are we to account for the salvation of one but not the other as Jesus explains and which seems to be born out in human experience? One explanation is that there is something wrong with people such they do not understand the gospel sufficient to gain salvation and God must do something to help a person understand and thereby accept the gospel.

    Are there other explanations out there that explain this? Maybe not.

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    1. “How are we to account for the salvation of one but not the other as Jesus explains and which seems to be born out in human experience? … Are there other explanations out there that explain this? Maybe not.”

      To me, it seems your missing ingredient is autonomous choice. The one things that seems to hold you back from believing in it, is you think that choice can never choose irrationally. Yet Satan knew he could not defeat God, yet still chose to rebel.

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      1. By autonomous choice, I’ll take it that you mean having libertarian free will. Thus, the person, enabled so by God, now realizes his choice is between eternal death and eternal life. The rational, and obvious, choice is eternal life. Thus, all who are autonomous – having libertarian free will – naturally, and freely – choose eternal life.

        I think it would be that Satan rebelled and then found that he could not defeat God. Satan was deceived by himself to rebel and deception is contrary to autonomy and libertarian free will – as deception distorts the choices one thinks to have before him.

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    2. You say that the parable of the seeds shows that the preaching of the gospel does not always save, and of course we all agree. But why not?

      Free will or Divine Determinism?

      The fact that most scholarly Calvinists have to appeal to mystery to how the first free choice of man was made to sin in the garden proves that the free will concept is mysterious but it still can’t be denied.

      I refuse to blame man’s rejection of the gospel on God, which seems quite inevitable of you teach all men are born with unalterably hardened hearts by God eternal decree and thus can do nothing other than reject His gracious offers of forgiveness.

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  2. “When sin is ‘full-grown’ it ‘gives birth to death?’ Calvinists would have us believe its full grown from the time we are born…”

    Not true.

    Calvinists believe that God actually restrains sinners (including those who are not saved) from being as bad as they could be if left alone to themselves in the fallen state. All of us have sinned in Adam and are fallen from birth.

    “… in that they teach we are “corpse-like” dead and thus totally incapable of willingly responding to God’s revelation — and this by God’s eternal and unchangeable decree!”

    True!

    “Now, I know Calvinists are quick to argue that Total Depravity does not mean mankind is as bad as they could be, but that is not addressing my point of contention. I am not making that argument. I am talking about “Total Inability,” which is mankind’s supposed inability to recognize their fallen condition and repent even when confronted by God’s powerfully revealed truth. That presumption is simply unfounded in the text.”

    Really?

    Roman 8:7-8 says “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

    And Ephesians 2… “And you were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirits that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, LIKE THE REST OF MANKIND. But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN OUR TRESPASSES, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. AND THIS IS NOT YOUR OWN DOING, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, not a result of works, so that no one may boast…” [emphasis mine]

    Can it be any more clearer, Leighton?

    “So, where do Calvinists go to support the concept of mankind’s Total Inability to respond willingly to the gospel truth? The three most quoted proof texts* for Calvinists do not even reference the gospel…”

    Please explain why you think that Romans 8 does not reference the gospel. How can you say that?

    John 6 is VERY much a reference to the gospel… How can you say that?

    And 1 Corinthians 2 is also very much a reference to the gospel… You are not making sense.

    “… yet the gospel is God’s powerful, gracious Holy Spirit wrought solution to the very fallen condition they presume is preventing man’s ability to respond willingly to its appeal.”

    Actually, it is the giving of the Father to the Son those who are coming to Him, and the all-sufficient work of His son Jesus Christ at the cross of Calvary, and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in raising to spiritual life those who are dead in their trespasses and sins, i.e., a TRIUNE-wrought solution. This is the powerful overcoming solution to the very fallen condition of man that prevents man from being able to respond willingly to the appeal of the gospel.

    Consider the words of John Piper…

    “… total depravity means that our rebellion against God is total, everything we do in this rebellion is sin, our inability to submit to God or reform ourselves is total, and we are therefore totally deserving of eternal punishment.

    It is hard to exaggerate the importance of admitting our condition to be this bad. If we think of ourselves as basically good or even less than totally at odds with God, our grasp of the work of God in redemption will be defective. But if we humble ourselves under this terrible truth of our total depravity, we will be in a position to see and appreciate the glory and wonder of the work of God…”

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    1. You said:
      It is hard to exaggerate the importance of admitting our condition to be this bad. If we think of ourselves as basically good or even less than totally at odds with God, our grasp of the work of God in redemption will be defective.

      Great point. I think this is true for Arminians as much as Calvinists. Calvinists have their own weird inconsistencies for sure, but we should all, if we are saved, admit we stand level at the foot of the cross. You do submit to one of those weird inconsistencies when you say “God restrains sinners.” That’s just silly and meaningless language when everything that God wants to happen always exactly happens as God decrees. Under determinism,any proposing of an alternate possibility than what is engaging in disingenuous language.

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      1. “You do submit to one of those weird inconsistencies when you say “God restrains sinners.” That’s just silly and meaningless language when everything that God wants to happen always exactly happens as God decrees. Under determinism,any proposing of an alternate possibility than what is engaging in disingenuous language.”

        But God does restrain sinners so that they do not do all the evil they desire. Joseph’s brothers were restrained – not allowed dot kill Joseph but only to sell him as a slave. Jonah is restrained from fleeing the work God had assigned to him. Satan was restrained from harassing Job – he could not kill him. Stephen was stoned, but God would not allow Peter to be killed. At times, the Jews picked up stones to stone Jesus but God would not allow it – His time had not come. The Romans/Jews were not allowed to kill Jesus – Jesus had to voluntarily give up His life. Even now Satan prowls the earth looking for those he might destroy but God restrains him so that you are safe.

        If God did not restrain sin, sin would be overwhelming on the earth.

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    2. “All of us have sinned in Adam and are fallen from birth.”

      Thus people are born as sinners and thereby excluded from the kingdom of God when, at that point, none has actually sinned.

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      1. Hi Rhutchin,
        Dr. Flowers asked… Where did the sinful desires that God is restraining originate? The autonomous will of man? Or God’s eternal decree?

        I’m going to assume that we all here have understanding in knowing the difference between PROXIMATE CAUSE and ULTIMATE CAUSE. A PROXIMATE cause is an event which is closest to, or immediately responsible for causing, some observed result. PROXIMATE cause is to be clearly differentiated from ULTIMATE cause which is understood as the higher-level cause, and commonly refereed to as the REAL cause.

        You know that a foundational underpinning concept in Calvinism is the assertion that everything which comes to pass, does so CAUSED BY divine immutable decrees which God makes millenia before the event comes to pass. I assume you know that assertion is unquestionably understood to be the REAL cause for all events, including sinful evil events. And that all other causes such as depravity and Adam’s fall etc are merely PROXIMATE causes.

        And yet, even though you understand the difference between PROXIMATE cause and REAL cause, when you answered Dr Flowers question of where did sinful desires originate…. your answer was “All of us have sinned in Adam and are fallen from birth.” So instead of acknowledging the REAL cause, you appealed to a PROXIMATE cause..

        Answers like this give the observer the impression that Calvinists are somewhat dishonest on the subject of the decrees. When discussing GOOD events, the Calvinist has one answer, and for EVIL events, a different answer. the Calvinist will sight God’s decree as the REAL cause for a salvation event without hesitation. But when ever discussing SINFUL/EVIL events, he becomes querulously mute about the decrees as if at that moment the decrees don’t even exist in his mind.

        I know Calvinists are smart enough to know that the REAL cause for all sin and evil are God decrees. And they are smart enough to know that total depravity or Adam’s fall are merely PROXIMATE causes. But why can’t they just be forthright and sight the decrees as the REAL cause for SIN/EVIL events? It really leaves the observer with the impression of dishonesty. So it would helpful to understand why that behavior is consistent. Thanks.

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      2. br.d. writes, “You know that a foundational underpinning concept in Calvinism is the assertion that everything which comes to pass, does so CAUSED BY divine immutable decrees which God makes millenia before the event comes to pass…. I assume you know that assertion is unquestionably understood to be the REAL cause for all events, including sinful evil events. And that all other causes such as depravity and Adam’s fall etc are merely PROXIMATE causes.”

        So, we have God as the REAL cause and all secondary causes are PROXIMATE causes. Here is a case of double-think on your part.

        What do you mean by REAL cause? Do you mean to suggest that God operates the person like a puppet to force the result. If so, you do not understand Calvinism. To identify the difference between REAL and PROXIMATE cause, we use example of David’s numbering of Israel.

        – “the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.’” (2 Samuel 24:1)

        – “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.” (1 Chronicles 1:21)

        We see that God is the REAL cause and Satan is the PROXIMATE cause. Satan is under God’s control, and restraint, and cannot incite David to anything unless loosed by God to do so (the same situation with the temptation of Eve). God is the REAL cause of all that happens because nothing can happen except by God’s decree. Satan cannot incite David to number Israel without God first decreeing that Satan be loosed to incite David to number Israel. In the same manner, Joseph cannot be sold except by God’s decree, Satan cannot enter Judas except by God’s decree, Jesus cannot be crucified except by God’s decree, etc.

        Now the question is, So What? For good events God is the real cause without the necessity of an intermediate proximate cause. For evil events, God is the real cause working through proximate causes. So, what’s the big deal??

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      1. There are numerous passages in scripture in addition to the ones already cited that demonstrate that God is sovereign over all of the affairs of man and also over higher beings, and that He restrains people from sinning more, and prevents higher beings (Satan and demons) from carrying out even more evil that they would desire to do…

        Consider what God told King Abimelech when He revealed to the Abimelech that He had prevented him from touching Abraham’s wife, Sarah. “… IT WAS I WHO KEPT YOU FROM SINNING AGAINST ME. Therefore I did not let you touch her.”

        Consider what Jesus said to Peter regarding Satan. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, BUT I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU THAT YOUR FAITH MAY NOT FAIL.”

        Consider what God did to prevent Abraham from sacrificing his son, his only son, Isaac?

        Consider what God instructed Satan to do regarding Job… “Behold, All that he has in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” And after what Satan did to Job’s family and possessions, God allowed Satan to go much further… “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

        Consider what happened to Saul of Tarsus? “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

        Consider what Ananias in Damascus was told regarding Saul… “But Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer the sake of my name.”

        So, please ask yourself… Is it fair to say that God restraining sinners is “just silly and meaningless language?” or “disingenuous language”?

        Is it not a false dichotomy to suggest that there is nothing left to restrain when God has already made the determination of what is going to happen? Is it really “baffling” as Leighton suggests?

        I submit that it is not baffling because the scriptures make it very clear. God is sovereign over all the affairs of man and of creation. He has perfect knowledge the past, present, and future. He has ordained the beginning from the end, and the end from the beginning of all things. He restrains evil simply because the scriptures teach that He does. It is not baffling. It is part of His eternal decree.

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    3. Two Calvinists on this thread have claimed that God restrains people from sinning more. What Bible verses present or make this point?

      I have seen many Calvinists make this claim but have never seen supporting verses given that support this claim.

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      1. Indeed

        And as I’ve argued (without rebuttal)…what is their left to restrain except God’s own determinations if autonomous free will doesn’t exist.

        Say that man wants to kill but God restrain him from killing. Where did the man’s desire to kill originate if not the eternal decree of God which bring all things to pass? Cals have God restraining His own determinations. Baffling.

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    4. I said this to rhutchin before perhaps you can come up with a better answer:

      How can God “restrain” what God himself purposed and decreed? If I have my dog on a leash, and I’m holding him back when he tries to attack you, I’m restraining my dog, because my dog has a will contrary to mine. But if I trained my dog for 5 years specifically for one purpose, to attack and kill you, than what am I really restraining but my own secret will? My point in this comment is simply this: under Calvinists logic, what God wants always happens, regardless of anyone’s desires or anything at all. That is the very definition of slavery—one will dominating another entity. All of creation is God’s slave, under determinism. So God is, like in the Incredibles, making his own villains, giving them desires to do more than they can do, then restraining them from doing it.

      But I think all of the classic Calvinists texts attempting to show God overrides free will actually fail when studied more closely. Let’s take the first, Abimelech. Does this passage really teach God overrode Abimelech’s free will? The reason Abimelech was kept from sinning, was not because Abimelech really, really wanted to rape Sarah and God came down and said “Nope, I’ll violate your free will.” It was because Abimelech didn’t know she was married. That’s why Abimelech says “in the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Now that’s not Calvinistic Divine determinism… does God immediately correct Abimelech and say “Wait, buddy, you wanted to rape her so bad and I came in and stopped you and changed your will.” No, God says this ” Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this.” So wait up here: does the text teach us that God intervened here for Abimelech’s sake or for Abraham’s sake? It wasn’t for Abraham’s sake at all. God says directly “and I also kept you from sinning against Me, therefore I did not let you touch her.” God stopped Abimelech why? A monergistic unilateral decision for Abraham’s sake? The text says the opposite. God stopped the action because God synergistically honored Abimelech’s pure intentions due to Abraham’s lie. Again, did God give Abimelech the “integrity of his heart” unilaterally and monergistically? No, God says he intervened not monergistically, but for one reason and one reason alone: “In the integrity of your heart you have done this.” If God unilaterally and monergistically forced Abimelech to not sin, why does God still leave open the possibility of Abimelech sinning in verse 7? “But if you do not restore her, know that you will surely die, you and all who are yours.” God didn’t take away Abimelech’s free will, he honored it by intervening, yet still even after intervention left open the possibilty of Abimelech still deciding to continue in sin, without a hint anywhere of God forcing Abimelech’s hand or will. Verse 7, proves free will and that God respected and did not violate Abimelech’s choice in the matter, but rather just gave him new information so that he could do what he already wanted to do—not sin against this man. Because God directly states Abimelech *still* had a choice in the matter, and consequences would follow.

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      1. “Does this passage really teach God overrode Abimelech’s free will?”

        Abimelech never had “free” will to begin with. Did you not read the passage carefully? God said, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore, I did not let you touch her.” Who kept Abimelech from sinning? Abimelech? No, the LORD! God restrained Abimelech from sinning against Him.

        If you think that the source of the “integrity” of Abimelech’s heart was his so-called “free” will, then you would be in error. God prevented Abimelech from even touching Sarah, which if he had done so, it would have been a grievous sin, albeit done in ignorance. Why would God even bring up the issue of keeping Abimelech from sinning if Abimelech was truly as “innocent” as he had claimed?

        Consider Proverbs 21:1… “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”

        The heart of King Abimelech was in the hand of the LORD; and it was the LORD who turned it wherever the LORD willed it to be. The integrity within Abimelech’s heart was from the LORD Himself.

        Please ask yourself the following… How did I come to believe the LORD? Was it my doing? Do I deserve credit for believing in Him? Or did the LORD in His sovereign will cause my heart to believe in Him?

        The answer is very simple for me… I was once an Arminian, but I began to see over time that all of the credit of my belief in Him is due unto His name… and not unto me. The LORD arranged for me to believe in Him from before the foundation of the world. All glory and honor is due to Him!

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      2. It is interesting to me that believers upon a heavy realization of predestination and grace, often gravitate towards complete determinism, as if they only option were to equate the two. I believe in predestination and I believe in grace alone, but not the way the Calvinists insist I define it, so I don’t believe in determinism which puts evil into the very heart of God, a claim I consider blasphemous. Although I don’t think Calvinists thoroughly think that through and see themselves pious for their willingness to accept something they don’t like. However, my own theology has just as many things I don’t like, yet I accept the Biblical testimony.

        Predestination means God chose before the foundation of the world, but it doesn’t mean that God desired all to be damned and it doesn’t mean that God forces the wills of the elect. I find abundant support in Scripture for those two propositions.

        Grace means we can’t do a single good thing and we have no power to perform a righteous act, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make a choice and exercise trusting faith. Calvinists insist that choosing and faith has to logically be meritorious, yet the Bible clearly and flatly denies their claim, by explaining that we can make a choice and exercise a faith that is not inherently meritorious yet justifies us.

        You wan to argue that autonomy, by it’s very nature, gives bragging rights. But your smuggling your presuppositions in to make that point, by insinuating a choice alone makes you “better and smarter” than another person. Rather, the biblical terms would be being “wise” and being “foolish” and the Bible exhorts us to be wise.

        I want you to read this parable from our Lord and then answer me one question:

        24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain came down and the rivers came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it did not collapse, because its foundation was laid on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain came down and the rivers came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it collapsed, and its fall was great.”

        In this parable, what made the difference between the destinies of the two men, and would it truly be wrong to call one “wise” and another “foolish” if our Lord himself did so?

        I’m a wise man, and I’ve built my house upon a Rock that can never fail me. And apparently Jesus thinks it’s perfectly fine for me to say that.

        Bless!

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    5. 1 Corinthians 2 verse 6 and beyond (including vs. 14) is NOT a reference to the Gospel. There is a major transition of the timing and topic of what Paul is talking about in vs. 6.

      If you believe vs. 6 and beyond is talking about the Gospel…and not the “meaty” subjects Paul talks about from vs. 6 and beyond…then as you read in to chapter 3, you must conclude that the entire congregation of the church at Corinth was unregenerate.

      Ludicrous.

      This is an answer to one of the many errors in your reply.

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      1. 2 Corinthians 2:1-5, is a clear reference to the gospel, “I proclaimed to you the testimony about God For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified….so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

        Does Paul shift focus in v6, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature…we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began”? That depends on the understanding of “God’s secret wisdom.” You don’t tell us what you think it is, (perhaps you don’t know) however, you assure us that it has nothing to do with the gospel.

        About this wisdom Paul says, “None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

        Then, “…God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”

        The gospel can be antecedent to “it.” Had the Jews understood the gospel, they would have believed Jesus and not crucified Him. Also, God reveals the gospel to people by His Spirit. Jesus said, ““The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables.”

        If not the gospel, then what is this “secret wisdom of God”? You need to offer a viable alternative if you want to advance the idea that it is not the gospel. Reason says that the context of 1-5 carries into v6ff unless there is an indicator that the subject matter has changed. What is the indicator of this that you see in these verses?

        I do not see any reason for chapter 3 to be skewed by Paul speaking of the gospel here, and you do not explain why that should be the case. You need to offer some reasonable explanations for the statements you make. You are not doing that suggesting that you have only your personal opinions to offer on the issue.

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      2. Please don’t assume that I have only my personal opinions to offer. Rather, I hesitate to do all the thinking for people that sound like they can reasonably approach the Scriptures and interpret them…with or without the bias that comes with a certain theological perspective.

        I’ll make this as quick as possible.

        First, vs. 1-5 is a reference to the Gospel.

        Second, I would be very careful in the language used to delineate the difference between what Paul is talking about in vs. 1-5…and what he goes on to talk about in vs. 6 and beyond. There is a definite difference, but to say or infer that something is “beyond the Gospel” is not somewhere that I would tread lightly.

        Third, I would not argue that the Spirit brings to bear the Gospel on the hearts of the lost.

        That being said, let’s take a quick, closer look at 1 Corinthians 2…

        In vs. 1-5, Paul is speaking about a time in the PAST where he preached the Gospel to them as a lost group of people. In vs. 6 and beyond, he is speaking about presenting a SAVED group of people with “meatier” aspects of the Word in the PRESENT. In vs. 7-8, Paul certainly does mention the difficulty the Jews and past generations had with understanding the prophecies regarding the Messiah.

        In vs. 9-10, you have the completed transition from the time in the PAST where Paul was presenting the Gospel to a group of lost people, to the time in the PRESENT where he is beginning to explain the awesome things God has prepared for those that love Him…and the “deep things of God” (those things that go beyond the Gospel…treading lightly).

        So, beyond vs. 6…Paul is talking about things the princes of this world didn’t know (vs. 8), the glories of Heaven (vs. 9), things freely given to us by God…things we didn’t have at salvation (vs. 12). I didn’t know, or could have even imagined, these things when I got saved. According to vs. 14, I couldn’t receive them as a natural man (an unregenerate man, obviously…nor as an immature Christian, apparently). The only thing I could/needed to receive, as a lost man, was the Gospel. Once I received that, I was then in a position where I could receive the “deep things of God.” Even at that, Paul’s issue with the Corinthians, and an issue that is still dealt with today, was that a believer can be “carnal” in the sense that they are still not matured to the place where they can receive these “deep things.”

        By the time you come to chapter 3, Paul is referring to these believers as “carnal”…another way of saying they are “natural” like in 2:14. This is what he has been driving at since 2:6 and they are both (“natural” and “carnal”) referring to the immature state of “babes in Christ” who have received the Gospel but are not mature enough to receive the “deep things of God.” If you believe that Paul is talking about lost people in 2:14, then where is the distinction as he moves in to chapter 3 talking about those that are “carnal”? If that distinction is nowhere to be found…and you believe that Paul is talking about the Gospel throughout chapter 2…then, as I said earlier, you must conclude that the entire congregation of the Corinthian church was unregenerate.

        Instead, the context (ignore the chapter division) lays out an obvious transition from vs. 5 to vs. 6…and, at the same time, an obvious continuation of subject and thought from chapter 2 to chapter 3.

        Therefore, my point stands that there is a transition from chapter 2 vs. 5 to vs. 6…and that the statement “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” is not referring to a lost man’s inability to receive the Gospel, but an immature Christian’s inability to receive the “deep things of God.”

        God bless.

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      3. OK. That sounds reasonable, so let’s work with it.

        v6 begins, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature,…” The key word here is “mature” which I think sets up Paul’s comments to the “immature” beginning in chap 3. So, I think we can reasonably understand that Paul is transitioning to issues of spiritual growth (apparently a big issue considering Hebrews – “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity,…”)

        In that context, Paul says, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.” Growing in Christ is not accomplished through human wisdom but by the Scriptures (words taught by the Spirit).

        v14 then makes a strong statement – “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.” This is an interesting statement. Are we to understand that the wisdom we find in the Proverbs or Paul’s letters and throughout the Scriptures are foolishness to the unsaved? I think that is exactly how we should understand v14.

        However, the foundation for the “wisdom” found in the Scriptures is the gospel. If the unsaved do not understand those things Paul wants to teach the mature, then can they understand the gospel? 1:30, “It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” As Christ is our wisdom, and Christ is the gospel, to consider wisdom foolishness is to consider Christ foolishness is to consider the gospel foolishness. I don’t think you can separate that which Paul now seeks to teach to the “mature” from that which he taught earlier, the gospel. This from chap 1, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 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, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

        While I think you are correct in concluding that Paul, in v6, wants to move beyond the gospel, I don’t think anything in Scripture can be separated from anything else – v14 applies to anything in the Scriptures including the gospel.

        On chap 3, Paul writes, “…as to carnal…” He is not saying that the Corinthians believers were carnal but that he fells that he must speak to them as if they were carnal because they are so immature. Paul’s complaint is not that they are natural and carnal but that they are immature and acting like those who are carnal – they are still clinging to their old habits, perhaps. The believer can no longer be described as being in the flesh – he is a new creation, old things have passed away – but Paul must teach, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The Corinthians had not been renewing their minds (maybe their order of Logos software was still in the mail or they could not afford a computer). Their care group was probably spending too much time on having fun and not studying and were in need of a couple Bereans to teach them the ropes. Regardless, I don’t think we can conclude that Paul is calling them carnal believers – an oxymoron.

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      4. I essentially agree with your assessment of “carnal believers”. My point is, since the transition of past and present ministry by Paul…and the transition of subject from preaching the Gospel to the lost and teaching the “deep things of God” to believers has happened in vs. 6 and continues in to chapter 3…I don’t think the context allows for vs. 14 to be referring to the lost receiving the Gospel or any other truth from the Scriptures. Again, context shows that by the time you come to vs. 14…Paul is SPECIFICALLY talking about REGENERATE church members receiving the “deep things of God” that are “beyond the Gospel.”

        Is it true that the lost will find the Gospel and/or the Scriptures in general to be foolishness without the work of the Spirit? YES. But that is not equal to, nor does it require the conclusion, that man is unable to receive the Gospel in his unregenerate state.

        So, to apply the “cannot receive” statement of vs. 14 to the Gospel when the transition has been made in vs. 6…AND since the Bible refers to salvation as a gift/water of life/et al that is to be received…is an error as far as I can tell.

        Again, God bless.

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      5. Then, the remaining issue is whether v14 can be shown to be a universal truth and encompass the reaction of the unsaved to the gospel..

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      6. Chris, even if 1 Cor. 2:6 was a reference to the Gospel, it doesn’t prove Paul was teaching inability, because being a “natural man” was something Paul taught was a choice we make. Look on down at Look on down just a few verses later:

        Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

        Paul said if “anyone” thinks he is wise, let him become a fool. Paul didn’t say “but some people can’t become a fool, because the natural man can’t receive the things of the Spirit.” Paul’s whole point in this entire passage was “choose not to be a natural man, but rather choose to be a spiritual man.” That applies to believers and the lost, both. Just because something is “foolishness” to us does not, according to Paul, mean an inability to accept it. And just because we bear the label Christian doesn’t mean we are “spiritual.” So Paul clearly shows here that as you say, Chris, man can receive the Gospel in his unregenerate state, by becoming a fool according to the world.

        bless

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      7. dizerner writes, “it doesn’t prove Paul was teaching inability, because being a “natural man” was something Paul taught was a choice we make. Look on down at Look on down just a few verses later:

        Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.

        Paul said if “anyone” thinks he is wise, let him become a fool. Paul didn’t say “but some people can’t become a fool, because the natural man can’t receive the things of the Spirit.”
        +++++

        Paul is writing to Corinthian believers. Maintaining context, “anyone among you” where “you” would be the Corinthian believers, Paul is not speaking expansively of the whole world – he is not including unbelievers – the natural man – in this. A person is born a natural man – it is not a choice one makes.

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      8. you can’t prove to me that Paul assumed everyone in the Corinthian church would be saved—in his very letters to Corinth he talks about the unbelievers being in the meeting and becoming convicted of their sin. Also you are wrong to apply the term “natural man” only to unbelievers. Paul applies it to believers as well. i disagree with almost all of your conclusions from all of your posts. i’ve responded to this, but you pay so little attention to my points and simply change the Scripture to whatever you want to agree with your philosophy (from my perspective) i don’t find discourse profitable any more. no hard feelings bless.

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      9. dizerner writes, “you can’t prove to me that Paul assumed everyone in the Corinthian church would be saved”

        Even I don’t believe that. Paul knows everyone who claims Christ is not of Christ. Paul writes to believers – even to us today. No reason to waste time on unbelievers as they are in their own little world and don’t care.

        Also, “…you pay so little attention to my points…”

        You write much but often say little. Cut out the non essential language and bottom line what you want to say. I don’t like to wade through words upon words that say nothing trying to ferret out substance that might not even be there – so I tend to read the first sentence or two and decide from that if it is worth my time to read more. Try writing simply and directly to issues – focus on substance.

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  3. Like you, Leighton, I can’t remember a time I didn’t know of the concept of God or know some Scripture or the truth in it. That kind of extremely fortunate upbringing I think can’t help but color some of our views. When it comes to babies, I think we are very tempted not to think straight or Biblically—babies are a very emotional topic. I’ve seen several ministers almost try to make an argument with baby pictures alone—”see these cute adorable little things, how could they possibly be sinful.” So, for myself, always holding myself to the strictest accountability, I have to lay aside a couple of influencing factors when thinking about original sin and prevenient grace—one is the fact that, I never got a chance to “sow my wild oats” in the classical sense, and I knew God from my earliest memories. The other is the emotional side of us humans—we are extraordinarily emotional creatures and if we think we never let our emotions get the best of us, we are lying through our teeth.

    Original sin is an important doctrine, and I think you’d agree. I also think you’d agree there are offensive things found in the Bible, and even the Gospel is often called an offense. And I think you’d agree that original sin offends a lot of people. But this isn’t what you have trouble with—you have trouble with the idea that humans are “so dead” they can’t “respond” to the Gospel message with “just” Scripture alone. This particular article isn’t really about irresistible grace or unconditional election, is it? It’s about one thing alone, and that is whether there exists any so-called “prevenient grace” apart from just preaching the Scriptural message. You want to make the argument that the preaching of Scripture *is* prevenient grace, and therefore by extension nothing else is. In so doing, you take a few little jabs at some ideas of “original sin” being “totally sinful” so to speak.

    When we read verses like “no one seeks after God” or “in my flesh dwells no good thing” we have to consider whether that leaves room for some inherent goodness in us. What’s remarkable to me, is both how evil humans can be, but also how much morality and kindness a completely unregenerate person can show. I have to ask myself, if this looks really good on the outside—if a so-called “unsaved” person, being evil, can give “good gifts” to their children, so to speak—why does that moral action carry no weight with God. We see with Cornelius that some of his altruism seemed to gain him some kind of attention with God—does everyone’s altruism do this? Even Bill Gate’s or Princess Diana’s? This is where it gets tricky, measuring the morality of an action. The widow’s mite shows us, we can judge by outward appearances, but only God can weigh up all the factors of every action.

    But if we begin to say evil people can do good things, does that lessen the completeness and intensity of the Work on the Cross being alone sufficient? So we can argue against prevenient grace two ways—one by saying it isn’t necessary because only the Cross does it all. But in that sense, we argue prevenient grace is indeed based in the Cross. I’d define prevenient grace as this: any grace shown by God to a person before regeneration occurs and before the said person becomes a child of God. Is prevenient grace then necessary for salvation? Does prevenient grace then somehow align with “total inability”? Even the rain and sunshine could be considered a “prevenient” grace witnessing to the graciousness of God—if we truly consider ourselves not worthy of that rain or sunshine. Otherwise we are just getting what we think we deserve—we don’t truly see our selves as sinners deserving hell.

    We can see countless testimonies of prevenient grace in this sense, the sense of the working of the Spirit in a life before regeneration occurs. I think you’d even agree with me on that—people feel convicted for a crime, people sense a “greater being out there,” people somehow find a witness that they are a “bad person.” And the thing is—a lot of that happens without a single Scripture. I’m not saying the Scripture doesn’t always lead to the truth—it will, with a right heart. But tons of prevenient grace happens without Scripture being quoted right and left. When my own mother finally got saved from a very godless family and background, she was amazed that as she read the Bible she had already come to a lot of the conclusions without ever reading it—”I knew that was true somehow!” Yet if you argue that only the Scripture alone, and always sufficiently, is prevenient grace, I think that discounts this much more prevalent and complex view of how grace works in our lives before salvation.

    In regards to “presalvific” workings of God, we also really need to factor in the working of Satan to actively blind and imprison people. Also we need to factor in previous prayers for people, and the power of that. And the state of people’s hearts, their own inclinations to good or evil, to God or Satan. Now that kind of delicate and varied view of the presalvific state, is not the kind of situation Calvinists preach. They want everything black and white, cut and dried. I think we’d both agree with the Calvinists that regeneration is passing from death to life, that there is a binary system of two kinds of people in the world, spiritually dead and spiritually alive, the kingdom of God or Satan. But where we’d both disagree with Calvinists is that God cannot at all work in the lost prior to regeneration because of this “Total Inability.” The sad thing for me though, is I feel like you’ve concluded prevenient grace is just some stopgap concession by Arminians to the Calvinists, conceding too much of TI in your estimation, and thus looking unnecessary to you.

    I think prevenient grace is a powerful and Biblical and fundamental doctrine—solid through and through. Because when a sinner is not in the family of God, why should God “draw” them? If you say because God loves all sinners, you have to be careful not to consider the fact that God puts severe conditions on that love, that God is a God of wrath. How can you, as atheists point out, love someone at gunpoint? How can you threaten someone with the full fury of your wrath but then say “because I love you.” Now we believe just that-that *is* the Biblical Gospel—that God, in his love, has offered to save us from his own wrath towards us. But what does that mean, then? If God has any wrath anywhere, and if only salvation is what removes that wrath, then why does God act kindly towards sinners before they are saved? What is the real reason that keeps all sinners out of hell at this very moment, when they are not trusting in the Blood which alone can save? This is were I think many Calvinists are incorrect in asserting Christ does not intercede for the unregenerate.

    I see the *only* foundation for *any* grace in *any* way since Adam’s transgression as being based in the Work of the Cross. And much of that grace comes to us humans while we are in an unregenerate state of spiritual death. Maybe the point isn’t so much what we can or cannot do, but what we deserve? Grant for a moment that an unregenerate soul can seek God—does he deserve, then, to find God? Even in his seeking, he deserves hell. And I’d argue that unregenerate people can surely seek God and choose God, but I’d also argue that’s impossible without prevenient grace. This prevenient grace is a not a concession to some Calvinists’ beliefs where we shouldn’t concede their premises. It’s a beautiful and powerful doctrine of “God loving sinners while they are still sinners.” Because once we are a child of God, then we’re in his family, we aren’t destined for wrath, all things are become new, we have the very life and blood of our Savior running through our spiritual veins. But was Paul kicking against the goads him necessarily being convicted by his memorization of the Torah, as most devout Pharisees did? Or was it the look in the eyes of the Christian families he murdered as the Spirit of Jesus looked back at Paul, and those Christians prayed for Paul’s forgiveness as they were being led like lambs to the slaughter.

    Prevenient grace for me then, is a bedrock doctrine. I’ve seen it and I’ve heard of it working in the lives of sinners and I see it all through the Word of God. I’d believe in it if Calvinism didn’t even exist. There’s a time when God doesn’t owe me anything, there’s a time when I’m outside his covenant as a sinner, there’s a time when everything about the sinner is abhorrent to God, yet God still works by his Spirit to enlighten, to convict, to strive, to correct, to forgive the unforgivable, to show mercy to the disgusting and wretched, to offer clothes to the blind, pitiable and naked. That’s not *irresistible* grace and it seems more than anything we see God’s grace being resisted. I remember a story from the faith-filled reverend R.W. Shambach, as he was witnessing to a young sinner, and he cornered him in a booth at a bar, because the Spirit was so powerfully compelling him to witness to this young man. He tried everything, pleading, warning, exhorting this young sinner to come to Christ, and the Spirit was visibly moving on this young man as he showed such conviction and uneasiness, but he fought it all the way, he fought it for hours. And when that young man left the bar, having resisted the grace of God for his soul, having loved this present world, and got on his motorcycle and drove off, he was dead within a few hours in a motorcycle crash.

    That man never passed from death to life, but did he taste the grace of God? I think he did. Not irresistibly, but most definitely preveniently—prevenient to any good or godly response or acceptance or seeking or yes to God. Now you can say only the Bible alone can convict a man, and only a rote recitation of Scripture alone could ever be considered “grace” that leads to salvation, but since that veil was rent over 2000 years ago, I think the Spirit has worked in all manner of ways. I think we see many, many people for whom the words of Scripture are an incomprehensible Martian language, but when you bring to them basic concepts about personal sinfulness and God’s holiness and the need for to get right with God, the Holy Spirit can use those Biblically based truths to work without a direct recitation of chapter and verse. We derive our truth and doctrine from Scripture under the anointing of God, but if so we’ve got to believe God lives in us and we are led by his Spirit. I know prevenient grace might seem to you like an unnecessary concession to Calvinistic theology, but maybe you are making it more complicated than it has to be—grace shown to the undeserving, grace shown to the unregenerate, grace shown to the sinful.

    And remember too, Tozer, one of those men of God that helped lead you on the right path, fully embraced the concept of prevenient grace. As Chapter 1 of Pursuing God starts out with:

    “Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.

    “Before a sinful man can think a right thought of God, there must have been a work of enlightenment done within him; imperfect it may be, but a true work nonetheless, and the secret cause of all desiring and seeking and praying which may follow.

    “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. “No man can come to me,” said our Lord, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the out working of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: “Thy right hand upholdeth me.”

    “In this divine “upholding” and human “following” there is no contradiction. All is of God, for as von Hugel teaches, God is always previous. In practice, however, (that is, where God’s previous working meets man’s present response) man must pursue God. Or, our part there must be positive reciprocation if this secret drawing of God is to eventuate in identifiable experience of the Divine. In the warm language of personal feeling this is stated in the Forty-second Psalm: “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come. and appear before God?” This is deep calling unto deep, and the longing heart will understand it.”

    Again Tozer writes (as he typically does in such an honest and endearing fashion) in the Fellowship of the Burning Heart:

    “When the great God brought salvation to men, He put it in the form of a message, and according to Paul in the Corinthian epistle, He decreed that men should be saved through preaching. That is, they should be saved through hearing that message. We call that message, the Gospel.

    “What was before that? Some theologians refer to this as ‘prevenient grace.’ That is the grace God brings to their hearts before they hear, and before they believe. I don’t know too much about ‘prevenient grace,’ and I don’t think anybody else does. So when you hear anybody expostulating on that learnedly and at length, write him off, because he knows more than the Bible reveals. But there must be some preparation of God in the heart or there would be no believing at all. On the other hand, there isn’t enough preparation to save the man, so he has to hear something.”

    I’d write off Tozer’s reprimand for studying the idea of prevenient grace as more of an indictment that theologians *haven’t* put enough time into studying it, not that they *couldn’t.*

    Bless!

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  4. Thank you Leighton and Good words Dizerner. I have been thinking and studying through this very thing and what I find in scripture always has God first initiating and seeking and inviting (I would call this prevenient grace, as Dizerner states above, this could take many forms, but I believe they are all the gospel in one form or another, which I think may be somewhat the point Leighton is making?) The obvious implication from God’s invitation/command is that God expects the man to make a decision (and of course the obvious implication is that man has the ability to make that decision) based on God’s initiating/seeking/inviting. This may not necessarily be the point at which he is saved, but he responds positively to God’s invitation/seeking/prevenient grace. There is then a third action, and that is God’s conditional response back to the man after his decision to positively respond to God. This is when I believe God does to us what we can not do for ourselves, we are changed into and made a “new creation,” given a “new heart.” See this dynamic in the following scriptures:

    Deut 10:16-17 So circumcise the foreskin of your minds and hearts; be no longer stubborn and hardened [God’s prevenient command/invitation; the obvious implication that God expects that the CAN circumcise their minds and hearts]

    2 Chron 7:13-22 If my people, who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways [God’s prevenient seeking/command/invitation-obvious implication that the people CAN do this], then [if they do this-man’s response] I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin ….[God’s conditional response back to them]

    Job 36:5,10-11 Behold, God is mighty, and does not despise any … He opens their ears to instruction and commands that they return from iniquity [God’s prevenient seeking (of all, not just an elect few-he does not despise any), God actually opens their ears to instruction and and then commands them to return from iniquity, as if they CAN do this]. If they listen and serve him [man’s response], they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness [God’s conditional response back to them]. But if they do not listen, they perish by the sword and die without knowledge.

    Psalm 145:8,9, The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made [God’s Prevenient grace]. 18 The LORD is near to all [God’s conditional response back to those who positively respond to His prevenient grace] who call on him, to all who call on him in truth [man’s positive response]. 19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. 20 The LORD preserves all who love him [again, God’s conditional response back to the positive response of men to whom he has shown prevenient grace-God hears their cry, fulfills their desire, saves them, preserves them], but all the wicked he will destroy [God’s conditional response to those who respond negatively to His prevenient grace].

    Isaiah 55 Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.
    Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts [God’s prevenient grace/invitation]. Let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely [forgive] pardon [if man responds positively to God’s invitation, God will conditionally, based on the positive response, have mercy on him and freely forgive and pardon].

    There are many more just like this in the Old Testament, but a few from the New Testament:

    2 Cor 3:15-16 Yes, down to this very day whenever Moses is read [God’s prevenient grace through the reading of His word], a veil lies upon their minds and hearts. But whenever a person turns in repentance to the Lord [obvious implication is that the CAN turn in repentance – their positive response to God’s prevenient grace], the veil is stripped off and taken away [God then lifts the veil and helps them understand so they can be saved].

    Eph 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation [God’s prevenient grace through the hearing of the gospel], and believed in him [man’s positive response to God’s invitation/grace], were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit [God’s conditional response of salvation and the giving of His Holy Spirit], 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is [after God’s prevenient grace to every man in making His existence evident to man (Romans 1)] and that He is a rewarder [God’s conditional response to a man who responds to God’s prevenient grace] of those who seek Him [man’s response to God’s prevenient grace, repentance and seeking God, obvious implication is the man CAN seek Him].
    Note: Ironically this is one of those verses the Calvinist uses as a proof text to show that man can not respond to God.

    James 1:21 So get rid of all uncleanness and the rampant outgrowth of wickedness, and in a humble spirit receive and welcome [man’s response to God’s prevenient grace through His word] the Word [God’s prevenient grace through His word] which implanted and rooted in your hearts contains the power to save your souls [God’s conditional response to man’s positive response to His prevenient grace, the saving of our souls].

    John Chrysostom (347-407 AD).
    “All is in God’s power, but so that our free will is not lost. . . . It depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords us much help. . . . It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God’s to perfect and bring to the end.” (On Hebrews Homily, 12)

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    1. Hi Andy. Good post. It seems we agree but I just prefer to avoid theological jargon like PG when biblical words like gospel and revelation are sufficiently gracious. If you think about it the gospel itself meets ever critera of PG, so why not just stick with the word “gospel?”

      Does that make sense?

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      1. Yes, that makes sense and I understand where you’re coming from. Seems to me that theological terms can be helpful at times though, but can also be confusing if not defined or understood.

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      2. Leighton said:
        And no text IMHO clearly indicates man lost the capacity to willingly respond to God in the fall.

        Without God’s grace? Do you think humans can respond to God without God’s grace? The point is what we are inherently. Got may not have abandoned a single human being, but in Adam all died and were sold on the auction block of sin, and the wages of sin is death. There was no reason for God to “wait around” seeing if humans will repent from their sinful ways, if he’s going to withhold all grace from them. It’s not going to happen. The Gospel includes a lot of things, a whole lot of things. Part of that is breaking up our fallow ground, making level ways straight, preparing the way of the Lord. Or can the Lord just always show up and we’re completely ready? The whole ministry of John the Baptist was prevenient grace, because people needed to *get ready* for the Messiah coming in power and holiness. You could say, well I just avoid theological jargon like justification, sanctification, glorification, mercy, faith, repentance, holiness, since we can just call it all the “Gospel” and that’s just good enough for me! The point is the Gospel is an amazing multifaceted and complex relationship between God and man, otherwise why not stop study of theology and just starting singing Jesus Loves Me and Kumbaya, or like some modern “Free Gracers” do, say all you need to hear is “believe on Jesus” with no reference to what that might mean (Bob Wilkin, etc.). Even the word “Trinity” doesn’t appear in Scripture, should we stop using it? All it means is “three.” All prevenient grace means is “grace beforehand,” and you want to convince me that’s not in the Bible?? All I can see is grace beforehand everywhere. The Gospel is not in a vacuum, nor was it done instantly, nor does it come to our heart from a vacuum, but rather a fallen world still tended by the grace of God none of us deserve. Even Hebrews 11 is prevenient grace, the inspiration of lives of faith gone before recorded for us today to keep our lamps burning bright. Did Noah find “the Gospel” in the eyes of the Lord, or did he find grace? Grace is part of the Gospel, and grace has two kinds: Before and After regeneration. When a sinner is in the bondage of sin yet feeling the work of the Spirit in conviction, why do I have to be compelled to call that under a blanket generic term “Gospel”? Say I’m praying for a lost friend, and due to my prayers he feels conviction in his bondage to pornography. I talk to him and he says “Man stop praying it’s making me feel bad about my life.” This friend already knows the essentials of the Gospel, let’s say, as most do in America in this age, some broad idea that Jesus was went to die for sins and you have to believe in him. A lot of people know that intellectual fact, yet feel no conviction in their lives. Paul called it “a veil over their eyes” and if the Gospel didn’t ever need prevenient grace why upon the reading of the Law didn’t all the Jews in a synagogue get up and shout “Wait, we need to get right with God!” It wasn’t just the “Gospel” message that was convicting my hypothetical friend, the same old and trite rehearsed factual truth about Christ and sin he many have heard many times. It was the active working of the Spirit to pull back the veil, to move upon the waters, to convict of sin and righteousness, through the working of prayer and faith and genuine love from my heart, to form Christ in a person’s heart. America has heard far too much of the “Gospel” without any genuine love, holiness, humility and power, that should always accompany it. After all, wasn’t the demonized women following Paul in essence preaching the Gospel, “These men preach unto you the way of salvation.” Yet she did it with such an obnoxious and wrong spirit, it was completely opposite in effect.

        As gotquestions.org says succinctly (and for once accurately):

        By definition, every theological system which affirms the necessity of God’s grace prior to a sinner’s conversion has a type of prevenient grace.

        BTW, I’d love to hear Brian on the blog.

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      3. Depends. Do you think the Holy Spirit’s inspired word recorded in Scripture and spread through the HS indwelled messengers (His bride) is gracious?

        God graces us through means and I’m not willing to separate the grace from it means. (Ie the gospel may or may not come in power or with sufficient grace for the hearer to respond)

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      4. Also you quoted: “By definition, every theological system which affirms the necessity of God’s grace prior to a sinner’s conversion has a type of prevenient grace.”

        And I do too. I call it gospel or Divine revelation. I find it redundant and unnecessary to give it another theological name.

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      5. The only way a term can be redundant is if their is no distinction that can be made. Would you call conviction of sin, “the Gospel”? For example, if a unbeliever came up to you and said “I’m feeling kind of bad about some things I’m doing, what do you think that means?” Would you just answer “Well, that’s the Gospel! You are experiencing the Gospel! Praise the Lord!” Wouldn’t you rather explain in detail that there is a Holy God who examines our every deed and thought for things that displease him, and in the Christian faith we call that “conviction of sin.” So perhaps God is convicting you to bring you to repentance and faith?” Terms are meant to give specific meanings, and the Gospel can be broken down into specific sub-ideas that in no way make it redundant. I could list 20 terms that involve “the Gospel” but I don’t think a single one is redundant. If we can find a “distinction worth a difference” as you like to tell the Calvinists 😛 then we can justify the existence of a theological term. I’m wondering whether being saved from one’s earliest memories might color one against any idea of “prevenient” grace since in that case one has no experience of living in sin and darkness before meeting the wonderful Savior? What do you think? In my own case, my mother prayed a special prayer for me before I was born and I was raised in a Christian environment. For me, that’s prevenient grace, because I did no action towards God to seek any relationship or reconciliation with him before I was born.

        Bless.

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    2. I like your tripart division of verses. I was thinking, I’d see all the verses concerning preparing the heart or it’s preparation to be prevenient to a further working of grace. Just getting rid of a theological term that defines a real category seems a bit frivolous.

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  5. Thank you Leighton for addressing the issue of total depravity again as it relates to any presentation of the gospel. I especially like that you pointed to Hebrews 3:7-8 which cannot be understood in any other way than that God does indeed speak to the unregenerate heart of those that can accept or reject that calling to salvation. And as you know, I believe God gives that calling to each and every one at some point after their conscience has been awakened, (unlike infants and imbeciles), and that their damnation arises from rejecting His merciful drawing. But I would like you to deal with Matt 13:19 (hard soil on which the gospel does not work), Rom 3:11(“none seek”), and Rom 11:32 (“committed them all to disobedience”).

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    1. Thanks Brian. I address Rom 3:11 here: https://soteriology101.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/the-walking-dead-mans-fallen-condition/

      God’s giving both the Jews and Gentiles over to their disobedience in Rom 11:32 seems to be referring to His cutting off and grafting in of the two groups. Israel, generally speaking, has been cut off from special revelation because of their unbelief and so the message goes to the Gentiles (Acts 28:27-28). The point of Paul seems to be that God’s ultimate goal is showing mercy to all. The last chapter of my book deals with this.

      Finally the hard soil. How did it become hard is the real question, bc the Cal seems to assume it was born that way by God eternal and unchangeable decree. I believe this soil represents the hearts of those who have continually rebelled and grown (over much time) calloused to God’s revelation.

      Make sense?

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      1. Leighton,

        Regarding the “hard soil” we need to keep in mind the genre of that passage (I.e. it is a parable, parables have a major point in this case the Word goes out and there are differing responses). The intent of the parable was not to teach that people are born already hardened or even that they hardened themselves over time. Those things will need to be established from other passages. Every detail of a parable is not supposed to be teaching a theological truth. That is the wrong way to interpret that genre and will lead to errors and speculation.

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      2. I agree. But when one interprets the hardened soil as if it’s representative of man’s natural condition from birth then such questions should be addressed in the the context of all scripture in order to reveal the error of that view.

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      3. Thank you Leighton for responding about the three passages I listed. Let me clarify further from these passages why I think that just the hearing of a human presentation of the gospel, written or oral, does not overcome what was inherited from Adam in every man’s nature, without a personal influence by the Holy Spirit being added to it.

        When you discussed Rom 3:11 in a previous blog, you said – “KEY POINT: Proving that the lost cannot seek God does not prove that they are unable to respond to a God who is actively seeking to save the lost.” You seem to agree that man’s nature has nothing within it to enable the person to take the initiative to seek salvation. We probably agree that there is in man’s nature sufficient ability from his conscience to excuse/accuse him for his sin. But there is nothing enabling to seek salvation. Agreed? So that inability has to be overcome by God’s initiative. So I am wondering why you would not see Rom 11:32 as being about Paul as addressing the divine commitment of “all of them” to this Adamic disobedient nature, as individuals, and promising that He would have mercy on “all” as individuals, whether Jew or Gentile. Where do you get “all of them” and “all” in this passage to mean just “two groups”?

        Finally, if self-hardening can make the hearing of the gospel ineffectual, there must be some limiting factors to the power of the gospel, meaning that it was unable to break through that hardness of the human nature once hardened. You probably would agree that divine hardening would also make the human proclamation of the gospel of no effect as seen in the examples provided by you concerning Israel during Jesus’ visit, and the example by Paul of future divine delusion (2Thess 3). You would probably also agree that such divine hardening can be taken away by a personal intervention by God Himself, using gospel preaching but also adding the necessary personal enlightenment and conviction that would be necessary to break up that hardness to fully understand that gospel. Why then is it so hard to accept the idea as biblical, that inherited human nature is divinely “hardened” or inept from birth, as long as it is also accepted as obvious that God takes the initiative to overcome that ineptitude or hardness at least a few times during one’s life.

        But it has to be only when they have “ears to hear” given to them by God that they are able to “hear” His voice in the preaching of the gospel (Heb 3:7-8) and able to respond. It is impossible for me to believe that such a “hearing” is guaranteed every time a literal reading or proclamation of the objective truth of the gospel is presented, based on Scripture and experience.

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      4. “Just hearing a human presentation of the gospel” to me sounds like “JUST hearing from a HS indwelled child of God declare the HS wrought truth of the very Word of God Himself”

        I think we underestimate the power of His proclaimed word by suggesting it could come without power. Make sense?

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      5. I am not suggesting that the gospel is not a powerfully divine thing, only that God has not chosen that it would be the only essential powerfully divine thing to enable one to sufficiently make a saving faith decision.

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      6. Robert – Thankfully Jesus gives us the interpretation of this parable that we should know and believe. Of the hardened soil He says it concerns those who hear the word but do not understand it! If it is the same seed of the gospel that is being planted, then there must be something deficient in the sowing of seed alone that could not overcome that lack of understanding, even though it was sown in the “heart”. I propose that from other passages, personal divine enlightenment and conviction must accompany the message to break through the hardness and bring understanding that can be acted upon by one’s will for salvation. I hope this helps.

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    2. In addition, attention should be given to the issue of faith.

      Paul writes, “pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.” 2 Thessalonians 3:2

      Then, in Hebrews, “..without faith it is impossible to please God…” and then Paul, “Those controlled by the sinful nature (wicked and evil men of 2 Thess) cannot please God.”

      Thus, the unsaved do not have faith (unto salvation). So, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. But “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.”

      Thus, to be saved, a person must have the Spirit whereby he hears the gospel which produces faith – a belief that God exists and the He rewards those who seek Him.

      The unsaved, apart from any help from God, does not, and cannot, respond to the preaching of the gospel.

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      1. Roger, We do agree that the “unsaved, apart from any help from God, do not, cannot, respond to the preaching of the gospel.” But Praise God that He does give to each person the necessary enlightenment and conviction (“the faith” or needed revelation, but more importantly, a direct understanding of it) so that each person by, an act of their own will, can place (but not irresistibly) their faith, trust, in this “faith” that is presented to them by God’s Spirit through preaching.

        The Calvinist often confuses passages that speak to The faith (revelation) with passages that speak to Personal faith (ability to accept or reject). And 1Corinthians 2:14 is more about Paul confirming that he, as an apostle, has received revelation from the Spirit of God and that empirically driven (soulish) Greek philosophers are unable to even recognize that such revelation must be received by God’s chosen apostles. Thus the wisdom of men is inferior to the wisdom of God based on its origin, or lack of divine origin. I hope this helps.

        And please, Roger, do not respond by your normal argument that no-one would reject the gospel once they understood it. The parable of the sower (the shallow and rocky soils), and the warning of Heb 3:7-8, prove otherwise, and I do not wish to go over that same ground with you again. Thanks. I hope this helps.

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      2. brianwagner writes, “He does give to each person the necessary enlightenment and conviction (“the faith” or needed revelation, but more importantly, a direct understanding of it) so that each person by, an act of their own will, can place (but not irresistibly) their faith, trust, in this “faith” that is presented to them by God’s Spirit through preaching.”

        This cannot be true as the preaching of the gospel is the means whereby faith is conveyed to people. Not everyone hears the gospel preached, so not everyone is given the necessary enlightenment and conviction.

        Not everyone who hears the gospel reacts with faith. This is shown when Christ says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,…I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” It cannot be argued that such people were given “enlightenment and conviction” at least not to the extent as those who responded in faith. The decision on salvation is a no-brainer; remove the hindrances of a wicked heart, Satan’s deceptions, and convey faith through gospel and a person naturally accepts salvation. Where a person rejects salvation, we know that something is off kilter such that there was no “hearing” of the gospel (even though much listening might have taken place) and no conveyance of faith that would have led to repentance and the pursuit of a holy life.

        The parable of the sower does not detract from this. Three soils depict the wicked heart of the unsaved and the basis for rejection of the gospel. Only good soil – a good heart – receives the word and that word produces fruit – the person responds in faith.

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      3. All do not “hear” with God’s enlightenment and conviction at the same time. The hardness must be overcome. But the promise is there that they will all be enlightened and convicted as some time and perhaps multiple times. Please Lord, pour out your enlightenment and conviction in abundance on all who bear your image!

        All are warned to not harden their hearts when they “hear His voice” (Heb 3:7-8). Such a warning makes no sense and would be misrepresenting the truth if Calvinists are right, for the elect, in their view, are unable to harden their hearts when they hear God’s call, and the non-elect would not even hear it. God does not use lying warnings to complete His will!

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      4. brianwagner writes, “All are warned to not harden their hearts when they “hear His voice” (Heb 3:7-8).”

        The author of Hebrews begins, “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling,…” So, he is speaking to believers. You expand the audience to non-believers (don’t you) and then claim, “Such a warning makes no sense and would be misrepresenting the truth if Calvinists are right,…”

        This is a common warning to believers. Paul writes, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–…” and “…my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,…” Then James, “when he asks [for wisdom], he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind…he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” This warning is in the same sense as all these.

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      5. If you have ever preached a sermon to a group of professing believers, Roger, you would address them as Brethren. But you would add warnings in that sermon, knowing that it is highly probable that some are not truly saved. That is what Barnabas is doing in Hebrews! In fact you can find this in almost every epistle. In Hebrews and James, you also have the Jewish nuance as part of the word “Brethren”. I hope this helps.

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  6. I think Layton, that God has eternally decreed ( 😉 ) that you be raised up to demolish a false gospel and exalt the true gospel that “is the power of God unto salvation”. Praise the majestic and all powerful God in heaven that we have the TRUE gospel and not a man-made ‘system’ to empower us to become children of God!!!!

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  7. Hi Brian!

    A few questions.

    Romans 3:11 (KJV)….
    “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”

    Just curious (Question #1). What translation are you using that reads….

    “there is none that CAN seek after God”?

    You wrote….

    “I think that just the hearing of a human presentation of the gospel, written or oral, does not overcome what was inherited from Adam in every man’s nature.”

    And yet…..

    Acts 14:1 (NIV)…
    At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There THEY SPOKE SO EFFECTIVELY that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.

    Acts 28:24 (NIV)….
    Some were convinced BY WHAT HE SAID, but others would not believe.

    Not really a question, but rather an observation.

    You wrote….

    “Why then is it so hard to accept the idea as biblical, that inherited human nature is divinely ‘hardened’ or inept from birth, as long as it is also accepted as obvious that God takes the initiative to overcome that ineptitude or hardness at least a few times during one’s life.”

    I guess my question (#2) to you is if this ineptitude or hardness is removed/overcomed, then why are most still hard and reject the gospel? In other words, if the natural (fallen) rebellious nature against God is overcomed, then why do most still rebel against God?

    You wrote…

    “I am not suggesting that the gospel is not a powerfully divine thing, only that God has not chosen that it would be the only essential powerfully divine thing to enable one to sufficiently make a saving faith decision.”

    So my question (#3) would be are you saying the cross of Christ is insufficient to save a lost sinner?

    And my final question (#4).

    Do you see prevenient (enabling) grace as being irresistible? In other words, does prevenient (enabling) grace always occur without cooperation and without consent?

    Blessings, brother.

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    1. Hi Philip, Thank you for the questions! I hope you are willing to continue to modify your position based on clear Scriptures and that you will discuss the other two passages I presented in this section.

      I agree that inability is an inference in Rom 3:11 (not in any translation), associated with the meaning of “under sin” from 3:9. But it is a logical inference, not just a theological one. We both would agree that the Scripture affirms that some begin seeking (cf. Heb 11:6). But the inference of inability for those “under sin” in 3:11 is logical since the result that none under that condition “seek God” allows for no alternative. Now it may be just an inability of opportunity, but it is inability just the same, for according to Scripture, man under sin does naturally have a conscience that accuses/excuses him of his sin, but still he does not seek. And Rom 11:32 affirms that God is behind this commitment to disobedience and lack of opportunity (initially). So the question would be what “under sin” means to you in 3:9 and how do you not see inability as a logical inference since the result is no one in that condition seeks God.

      Thank you for sharing questions based on inferences you are making from certain Scriptures. Are they not logically necessary inferences but just theological ones, based on assumptions you are bringing to the text? First, it is a sound hermeneutic not to try to lay a foundation for any doctrine from historical narrative in Scripture. Narrative tells us what happened, but not all that may have happened in that situation. God used the proclamation to bring about the faith (14:1). And I have no problem with the dative (BY the things spoken) being the meaning in 28:24 (though it could be just the Direct Object for this verb). Those contexts still do not discount that other activities by the Holy Spirit would have been necessary for that faith result. Nor does the context indicate why “the things which were spoken” (NKJV) were not effective enough on all who were present.

      I only believe that the inability is divinely overcome temporarily, or perhaps it is better to say, momentarily. Some unbelievers are enabled by God’s enlightenment and conviction to “hear His voice” when the gospel is presented to a group of unbelievers. They must respond positively during that time if they want to be confirmed in a state of grace, regeneration. They cannot squirrel away the grace of that moment, to use it later. That initial rejection would be a hardening against the call for an immediate decision of faith, and the warning is clear for such hardening (Heb. 3:7-8).

      The cross is the necessary payment for sin, but God has chosen that by the foolishness of preaching to save those who trust in that payment, and has promised the necessary enlightenment and conviction, at least a few times, so that the preaching is understood enough, and so a free-will decision for or against the gospel can be made.

      Yes, God’s initiative in enlightenment and conviction is irresistible, overcoming the inability from being “under sin”, but only momentarily, so that a decision for or against that irresistible hearing of God’s voice can be made during that period of enlightenment and conviction.

      I hope this helps, my brother.

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      1. So why not simplify by saying the gospel, as presented by God through a variety of means, is sufficient to enable the lost to respond to its appeal for reconciliation?

        We can speculate about God’s mystical secret inward working that may by necessity accompany the gospel appeal but why? Nothing IMHO taught in scripture teaches such a necessity. In fact all the power and significance is put on the word or gospel itself. No chapter or verse is dedicated to expound in upon this other necessary power that makes the gospel sufficient. And no text IMHO clearly indicates man lost the capacity to willingly respond to God in the fall.

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      2. Good morning! Great question Leighton. And I am not dogmatic about these opinions, (in other words, they do rise to the level of sound doctrine, qualifying a pastor, or to the level of gospel, necessary for salvation). But my opinions are based on some logical inferences made especially from the verses I chose in this discussion, and I am happy to hear alternatives, or where my logic is faulty.

        If the seed in the parable can include the gospel, then why does the planting of it on hard soil (in the heart) result in a lack of understanding, which would be necessary for salvation?

        We are by nature children of wrath, committed to disobedience by God, who allows our conscience to become awakened by the law, reviving sin and causing our spiritual death (Rom 7:9, I realize my literal understanding of this verse is not common). Our nature from Adam was prone to sin. God allows us no other choice but to be confirmed under sin. Then God takes merciful opportunities to present each one at various times enabling grace to choose to know Him and be saved. But in factoring in verses like the parable of the sower and the warning of Heb 3:7-8 (Today if you hear), leads me to inescapably believe that such enabling grace (necessary understanding) does not happen every time the gospel is preached. I hope this helps.

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      3. Good points. I too agree this is a very secondary matter but I do wish to unpack it.

        To go back to the parable (which we must be careful not to over read)…the soil isn’t hardened or throny or rocky naturally (from birth) IMO. These are conditions caused by life it appears to me. Thoughts?

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      4. Agreed, that the parable is naturally speaking about hardening, most likely self-hardening, in agreement with using free will to live out the Adamic nature, under sin, which as I mentioned, I believe God permits in everyone and thus commits all men to disobedience. But the main point, I was trying to make from the parable is that the nature of the power in the gospel in itself is unable to bring necessary understanding in such a heart.

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      5. We were typing at the same time it appears. My last post addresses this somewhat but I’ll add that the REASON the gospel is “unable” is not due to an incapacitated will due to the fall.

        And I’m sure the parable is not meant to say his hearers can do nothing about the condition of their soil. This is a warning not just a declaration

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      6. I agree, Leighton, it is a warning to unbelievers to consider what soil they are, and also an encouragement to the disciples that they may need to do some ministry to help soften the soil before it will be able to receive the gospel with understanding. But the snatching happens after the hard heart heard the gospel message. No matter how it got hard, there was a lack of understanding IN the heart (read Matt 13:19 again) that was not overcome by the planting of the gospel IN the heart. Agreed?

        And I think you would agree also, that the hardening, however it was caused, is a form of personal agreement with the sinful nature received from Adam. The question is whether God first allows, or confirms, such hardening before taking any divine initiative to overcome it. You did affirm that His initiative is necessary for man to begin to seek Him. That appears to affirm some sort of inability, at least inability based on the lack of opportunity provided by divine initiative. So what are those “under sin” 3:9 doing in the meantime before God takes the initiative? They can only be hardening their hearts in agreement with the Adamic nature that they have, in my view. I believe Rom 11:32 confirms that He does commit all to disobedience before taking any merciful initiatives.

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      7. The context says that these are the conditions that characterize the spiritual life of a person. I suspect that people can float among the three conditions but are always in one of them or a combination. However, a person cannot make himself “good soil.” God must do that.

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      8. I meant “do NOT rise to the level of sound doctrine…”. Sorry for making such confusing mistake. I even proof read it once before posting… 😦

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      9. I knew what you meant. 🙂

        I just reread the parable and notice the first seed it snatched by Satan, the second by trouble/persecution and the third by materialism/greed. None are said to be results of an incapacitated natural condition from birth. This seems to be a warning parable to be careful these things don’t happen to you. Don’t assume you are the good soil but continue in cultivation (discipleship)

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      10. Not sure why my answer ended up out of order, three above this one. But I post it here again and see what happens –

        I agree, Leighton, it is a warning to unbelievers to consider what soil they are, and also an encouragement to the disciples that they may need to do some ministry to help soften the soil before it will be able to receive the gospel with understanding. But the snatching happens after the hard heart heard the gospel message. No matter how it got hard, there was a lack of understanding IN the heart (read Matt 13:19 again) that was not overcome by the planting of the gospel IN the heart. Agreed?

        And I think you would agree also, that the hardening, however it was caused, is a form of personal agreement with the sinful nature received from Adam. The question is whether God first allows, or confirms, such hardening before taking any divine initiative to overcome it. You did affirm that His initiative is necessary for man to begin to seek Him. That appears to affirm some sort of inability, at least inability based on the lack of opportunity provided by divine initiative. So what are those “under sin” 3:9 doing in the meantime before God takes the initiative? They can only be hardening their hearts in agreement with the Adamic nature that they have, in my view. I believe Rom 11:32 confirms that He does commit all to disobedience before taking any merciful initiatives.

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      11. Brian,

        Thanks for the gracious response.

        Suffice to say I think we disagree on a few things, but that’s okay. Maybe you’re right and I need to reconsider.

        Also, glad to see that you understand the notion of prevenient grace being equally irresistible. My Arminian brothers don’t appreciate it when I refer to them as 2 point Calvinists (embracing TD and IG), but, if the shoe fits.

        Blessings, brother!

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I appreciate always your graciousness, Phillip! But even more so, I enjoy your love for the truth of God’s Word. I would still be interested to know how you would understand the implications of Matt 13:19 and Rom 11:32 for this subject of TD and PG.

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  8. Leighton,

    You said…. “Nothing IMHO taught in scripture teaches such a necessity. In fact all the power and significance is put on the word or gospel itself. No chapter or verse is dedicated to expound in upon this other necessary power that makes the gospel sufficient. And no text IMHO clearly indicates man lost the capacity to willingly respond to God in the fall.”

    I agree completely.

    Now regarding the parable of the seed, we also need to be sensitive to this being kingdom related (Luke 8:10), and not necessarily Paul’s gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection. I believe, as Gentile believers, we must be very cautious getting our doctrine from the 4 gospels, which were a fulfillment of the promises given to Israel.

    God bless, brother.

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    1. you say:
      Also, glad to see that you understand the notion of prevenient grace being equally irresistible. My Arminian brothers don’t appreciate it when I refer to them as 2 point Calvinists (embracing TD and IG), but, if the shoe fits.

      The shoe doesn’t fit. All Arminians to a man believe the grace of God *can* be resisted, so why do you confuse and muddy the waters by trying to equate their position to a Calvinist one when it’s not the case. Because prevenient grace can be twisted to fit your meaning of “irresistible” that in no way implies that it really is. Everyone can misuse prevenient grace, and that is a form of resisting. Most of us get rain and sunshine and a functioning body and mind “irresistibly,” so if I can get you to agree to that, than boom you believe in irresistible grace too! You really need to let a proponent of theology define their own terms. The point is, even if you can’t decide *whether* you get prevenient grace or not, you can always misuse it and that’s a form of resisting, just as a person can’t “resist” getting preached the Gospel to if a street preacher walks by yelling the Gospel. Does that make the Gospel “irresistible” because they *have* to listen, being in earshot? It’s just a silly nonsensical word-game to call that irresistible, and also incorrect.

      you say:
      Now regarding the parable of the seed, we also need to be sensitive to this being kingdom related (Luke 8:10), and not necessarily Paul’s gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection. I believe, as Gentile believers, we must be very cautious getting our doctrine from the 4 gospels, which were a fulfillment of the promises given to Israel.

      This is a mind boggling doctrine that has infiltrated a few Christians I’ve encountered. Paul preach a different Gospel than Christ?!! Christians don’t follow the words of Christ, himself? It’s mind boggling that anyone could accept this kind of weird way of cutting up the Gospel and the New Testament, when neither Paul nor Christ ever in the slightest way indicated they preached a different Gospel or spiritual truth than each other. Do you have any good book or site that attempts to use Scripture to build the case for this?

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      1. Brother Dizerner,

        I apologize if my remark came across as offensive.

        Let me ask the following.

        What is the goal of prevenient grace?

        Is it not to overcome the effects of the fall? Is it not to put every man in a position where he or she can respond favorably or unfavorably to the gospel? Is this prevenient grace not 100% successful in accomplishing its task? Or do you believe this prevenient grace fails in most cases and there are thousands (perhaps millions) of people who are never given the opportunity (by having their depravity overcame) to believe or not?

        And, finally, does prevenient (enabling) grace always occur without cooperation and without consent? In other words, does God overcome our fallen nature because we agree and consent to having our fallen natures restored?

        Peace.

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      2. you say:
        What is the goal of prevenient grace?

        I believe it is best expressed in Luke 1:17:
        …so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

        you say:
        Is it not to overcome the effects of the fall?

        It is a step in the process, not the complete remedy. It’s like you arguing that being anesthetized for an operation *IS* the operation.

        you say:
        Is it not to put every man in a position where he or she can respond favorably or unfavorably to the gospel?

        Sure, I can go with that.

        you say:
        Is this prevenient grace not 100% successful in accomplishing its task?

        As much as preaching Gospel words is 100% successful in accomplishing that a person hears the Gospel, but does not guarantee the outcome or response of it. As much as being born with a physical body is 100% successful and irresistibly gives a human body, but we still decide what to do with it.

        you say:
        Or do you believe this prevenient grace fails in most cases

        I don’t like to be a pessimist but it would seem that both the Gospel and prevenient grace fail in most cases, since people seem to more often resist than accept them.

        you say:
        And, finally, does prevenient (enabling) grace always occur without cooperation and without consent

        As much as, hearing the Gospel occurs without cooperation and without consent, if you are in range of a preacher’s voice. You can choose to walk away from the preaching, and you can choose to walk away from prevenient grace.

        you say:
        In other words, does God overcome our fallen nature because we agree and consent to having our fallen natures restored?

        When humans fell, they fell much harder and farther from the glory of God then most people seem to realize. We are born into a dirty and demonic world through no fault of our own. Overcoming our fallen nature is a huge and elaborate process that only finds completion in the afterlife.

        Bless.

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      3. Leighton, forgive me, because this should be a subject on another thread…..

        Matthew 4:23….
        And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

        Matthew 9:25….
        Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

        Matthew 10:5-7….
        These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

        Dizerner,

        Were Jesus and the twelve preaching the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. you say:
        Were Jesus and the twelve preaching the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)?

        They were preaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah in the OT. Jesus, upon his resurrection, clearly indicated that were it not for the Israelite being “slow of heart to believe all the prophets wrote” they would understand the Messiah *must suffer (death and burial)* and then *enter his glory* (be resurrected). Yes the death, burial and resurrection was completely core to everything about Jesus, why he came, his message, his kingdom and his salvation. The four Gospels are full of references to the Work of Christ and there is no justification to separate them from such a central and core Gospel message.

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      5. Dizerner,

        I find your responses somewhat confusing.

        I asked…. “Is it not to put every man in a position where he or she can respond favorably or unfavorably to the gospel?”

        To which you responded…. “Sure. I can go along with that.”

        But then you state that you believe this prevenient grace fails in its objective in most cases. So this prevenient grace fails to put most in a position to respond favorably or unfavorably. Now I am not saying that prevenient grace fails because most reject the gospel, but that prevenient grace has failed because most are never brought to a point, or position, to accept or reject (which is the goal of prevenient grace). In other words, the reason the majority reject the gospel is because the influences of the fall have not be properly dealt with.

        Grace.

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      6. you say:
        I find your responses somewhat confusing.

        Phillip, I think you are confusing two different issues. Prevenient grace has a *goal* just like preaching the gospel has a *goal.* The goal of both is for a person to believe on Jesus Christ. You are making the goal of prevenient grace only to bring a person to a place of choosing by overcoming the effects of the fall. That’s what prevenient grace *does*, but that’s not the *goal* of prevenient grace. Think about it this way—is the goal of preaching the Gospel *just* to preach it? No, the goal is for people to understand and believe it. That’s why I keep comparing Gospel preaching to prevenient grace.

        you say:
        In other words, the reason the majority reject the gospel is because the influences of the fall have not be properly dealt with.

        Of course not. People have autonomous free will. However to exercise that will they have to know Jesus and the Gospel is real, and they have to know they are sinners.

        If I preach the Gospel to someone I irresistibly accomplish my goal of them hearing the Gospel, unless they run away or cover their ears, lol. The fact that them hearing the Gospel is irresistible because I take the iniative to preach it to them, doesn’t mean it’s irresistible grace, even though they are experiencing the “grace” of hearing a Gospel message. Just because some aspects of grace are “forced” upon us does not make them “irresistible.” And what is the reason? The reason is because a free autonomous choice is not taken away about the response to that grace. After all, how can you even “resist” something you never recieve? Of course grace has to begin with God’s initiative irresistibly *offering* more grace. If grace was not irresistible in that basic, fundamental sense, we’d never have anything at all to even resist. I can’t throw away a gift I never receive. Paul may have “irresistibly” been knocked off his horse, Jonah may have been “irresistibly” swallowed by a whale, but that doesn’t mean Jonah or Paul had to be obedient to the heavenly vision. Grace was offered (and in a weird way you can call it irresistibly) but what is done with the grace is completely resistible.

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      7. Dizerner,

        You said…. “They were preaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah in the OT.”

        Exactly. That is all they had to believe and that is all God expected them to believe.

        I will close with this (perhaps we can discuss further when the topic is article related).

        Luke 18:31-34….
        Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” But they (the 12 apostles) understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.

        So the 12 (Matthew 10:5-7) couldn’t have preaching the gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection because it was hidden from them.

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      8. Dizerner,

        Okay. I think I understand your position better now. Thanks for clarifying (or forgive me for being slow).

        So you see prevenient grace as twofold. To overcome man’s depravity (which is 100% accomplished) and accept the gospel message (which is anything but 100%).

        Interesting.

        If, however, the goal of prevenient grace is, as Classical Arminianism teaches, to release the sinner from the bondage of sin in order for the lost sinner to now make a “freed will” response to the gospel, then this prevenient grace is, indeed, irresistible.

        God bless.

        Like

      9. you say:
        If, however, the goal of prevenient grace is, as Classical Arminianism teaches, to release the sinner from the bondage of sin in order for the lost sinner to now make a “freed will” response to the gospel, then this prevenient grace is, indeed, irresistible.

        That’s pure hogwash. You are playing with words to make it say something it doesn’t say in some preconceived desire to make Arminians the same as Calvinist. Prevenient grace is resistible as much as any other grace. You are again making the same mistake in logic.

        Suppose I turn this back on you. Do you believe grace can be resisted? And say you answer “Yes, I believe grace can be resisted.” Then I say “Aha! You can’t resist grace if you never got any grace to resist, can yoU! By saying you believe grace can be resisted you are in fact believing in irresistible grace! Only after you get grace can you ever resist it!” And that is, essentially the only argument you are making.

        My position on prevenient grace aligns with Clasical Arminianism. We believe that prevenient grace is *not* regeneration, but a temporary suspension of the effects of the fall. I really think you should consider not misrepesenting Arminian belief in this manner through meaningless tricks with word definitions.

        Bless!

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      10. “We believe that prevenient grace is *not* regeneration, but a temporary suspension of the effects of the fall.”

        A distinction without a difference.

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      11. Prevenient grace *never* brings eternal life and *never* passes a person from death to life. That’s a distinction with a pretty big difference if you ask me. When Christ called people to follow him, he said he was the light of the world, and that light was shining *in darkness.* But the darkness did not always lay hold of it—because men’s deeds were evil. Christ brought people prevenient grace, the knowledge that he was the truth and the ability to follow him.

        Bless!

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      12. Earlier you wrote, “We believe that prevenient grace is *not* regeneration, but a temporary suspension of the effects of the fall.”

        Now you write, “Prevenient grace *never* brings eternal life and *never* passes a person from death to life.” In this case, there has been no suspension of the effects of the fall, temporary or otherwise in prevenient grace – the effects of the fall would only have been mollified.

        Of course, maybe you have an inadequate understanding of the effects of the fall (original sin and all that).

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      13. We don’t limit the effects of the fall to only eternal damnation and spiritual death, but (even as all Calvinists do that I’ve ever heard besides you) also describe the effects of the fall as a blindness and an inability to choose. Certainly you wouldn’t argue that blindness and an inability to choose is the exact same thing as everything encompassed by spiritual death? That is, it is only one part or aspect of it, the part that is then temporarily suspended.

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      14. Now dizerner writes, “…it is only one part or aspect of it, the part that is then temporarily suspended.”

        So, rather than suspending the effects of the fall, you really meant suspending a “part” of those effects.

        Thus, what you originally meant to write was, “We believe that prevenient grace is *not* regeneration, but a temporary suspension of [PART OF] the effects of the fall.”

        The distinction between “irresistible grace” and “prevenient grace” is in the effects of the fall that God overrides. The Calvinists say that God does more than the non-Calvinist wants to credit Him.

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      15. I thought it was obvious that it was a part and not a complete suspension of all effects of the fall. Even believers don’t get a complete suspension of all effects of the fall until heaven.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Dizerner,

        Nowhere did I accuse you of blurring prevenient grace with regeneration.

        Would you at least agree that your understanding of prevenient grace is “partially” irresistible, given that there is a “temporary suspension of the effects of the fall”?

        Blessings, brother.

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      17. No, I would not concede that any of the grace is “irresistible,” I see all God’s grace as being resistible.

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      18. Dizerner,

        Just so you know I have no intention to misrepresent classical arminianism, the quote below is from a prominent classical arminian, Roger Olson (I believe I have shared it before).

        “‘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.”

        If I am understanding Roger Olson correctly, this healing of man’s deadness is irresistibly achieved. Man neither cooperates nor consents to this healing. It is irresistibly brought about thus enabling the sinner to “at least make a decision to repent and trust in God and Christ or not.”

        Your view might be different than Olson’s and that’s fine, but that is his position. And while Olson might omit the word “irresistible”, the implication is still there nonetheless.

        God bless, brother.

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      19. You believe the Gospel is inherently sufficient power to regenerate a person, like Leighton, right? But you believe that inherent sufficiency that is in the Gospel is still up to a person’s choice to put faith in. Leighton just wants to eliminate the words “prevenient grace” and just call it “the Gospel” even though he would admit to calling the Gospel as a real grace that precedes regeneration (same definition, different terminology). But if prevenient grace doesn’t *force* a decision, how is it any different whatsoever than preaching the Gospel, which also doesn’t force a decision, yet is a real grace? Why can’t I turn that objection back on you, and call preaching the Gospel an irresistible grace? Do you believe in irresistible grace, Phillip? Would you define preaching the Gospel as an irresistible grace towards unbelievers? If not, why not?

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      20. Phillip in the past when he posted as “wingfootted1” once tried to argue that I was a “one point” Calvinist since I hold to depravity. I corrected him on this (just because someone holds one point or more of the TULIP acronym does not mean they **are** Calvinists).

        The common denominator of all genuine Calvinists is the affirmation of unconditional election (if you affirm THAT you are a Calvinist, if you deny that you are not a Calvinist). Now Phillip/wingedfooted1 is trying to claim that if a person affirms depravity and believes in prevenient grace they are “two point Calvinists”:

        “Also, glad to see that you understand the notion of prevenient grace being equally irresistible. My Arminian brothers don’t appreciate it when I refer to them as 2 point Calvinists (embracing TD and IG), but, if the shoe fits.”

        This is completely off base and wrong. Arminians are not “2 point Calvinists” if they embrace TD and IG.

        Because Arminians do not “embrace . . . IG”.

        Irresistible grace as commonly used in discussions is a uniquely calvinistic belief/doctrine.
        One of the major disagreements between Arminians (and other non-calvinists and it has been for centuries) and Calvinists is on this doctrine of irresistible grace.

        For the calvinist God only gives IG to those preselected for salvation, and this grace ALWAYS results in the person becoming a believer. Arminians and other non-Calvinists deny unconditional election and they deny that this IG as presented by calvinists exists! Arminians affirm that prevenient grace is given to people to enable but not necessitate a faith response. And this prevenient grace can be resisted. Hence for those who understand the terms and use the terms as used properly by others in the discussion, the Arminians deny irresistible grace and posit prevenient grace instead and affirm this grace can be resisted.

        As Phillip has been told this before, for him to try to bring it up again is both dishonest and confuses terms and gives them definitions that ONLY Phillip holds to.

        Dizerner recognized this immediately and responded:

        “The shoe doesn’t fit. All Arminians to a man believe the grace of God *can* be resisted, so why do you confuse and muddy the waters by trying to equate their position to a Calvinist one when it’s not the case. Because prevenient grace can be twisted to fit your meaning of “irresistible” that in no way implies that it really is. Everyone can misuse prevenient grace, and that is a form of resisting. Most of us get rain and sunshine and a functioning body and mind “irresistibly,” so if I can get you to agree to that, than boom you believe in irresistible grace too! You really need to let a proponent of theology define their own terms. The point is, even if you can’t decide *whether* you get prevenient grace or not, you can always misuse it and that’s a form of resisting, just as a person can’t “resist” getting preached the Gospel to if a street preacher walks by yelling the Gospel. Does that make the Gospel “irresistible” because they *have* to listen, being in earshot? It’s just a silly nonsensical word-game to call that irresistible, and also incorrect.”

        Dizerner is correct here.

        Arminians do believe that the grace of God can be resisted so it is completely twisting things to suggest as Phillip does that they believe in IG.

        Dizerner is correct that “You really need to let a proponent of theology define their own terms.” This is exactly what Phillip is not going by playing word games (as Dizerner again states it well “It’s just a silly nonsensical word-game to call that irresistible”) and redefining the Arminian view on prevenient grace so that it ends up becoming the calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace.

        As the interaction between Phillip and Dizerner continued, because of how Phillip is twisting things and redefining things in his own idiosyncratic way Dizerner said:

        “That’s pure hogwash. You are playing with words to make it say something it doesn’t say in some preconceived desire to make Arminians the same as Calvinist. Prevenient grace is resistible as much as any other grace. You are again making the same mistake in logic.”

        Dizerner is correct what Phillip is writing is “pure hogwash”, and he is “playing with words to make it say something it doesn’t say in some preconceived desire to make Arminians the same as Calvinist”.
        I have said before, and repeat it again, Phillip for whatever reasons hates both Calvinism and Arminianism. So he attempts to equate the two, ignoring their real and historical differences. I had told him in the past to research this further and apparently he has not, as he continues to present the same falsehoods and misrepresentations that he did in the past (now Arminians are not “1 point Calvinists” they are “2 point Calvinists”).

        But again anyone who truly understands the terms as used historically and properly does not use these terms in the way that Phillip uses them and with his false and incorrect definitions of them.
        Phillip really needs to stop doing this as it only leads to unnecessary confusion and a waste of time correcting his incorrect definitions. Phillip needs to use the terms as others use them. It does not mean that he has to agree with the concepts, only that he uses them correctly and uses them the way others do as well. We will see if Phillip is amenable to being teachable on this and modifying and changing his definitions of the terms and his usage of the terms.

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  9. I wonder what the Calvinist does with Cornelius and Lydia, both described as worshiping God prior to their regeneration. Seems their “total depravity” did not prevent them from seeking God , and responding to the Good News presented them. How can the Calvinist make the claim that the Philippian jailer who asked “What must I do to be saved?” was not seeking God? And what do they do with the answer – “Believe..” since according to them this is not possible for an unregenerate man? Why did Jesus answer Nicodemus’ question about how can I be born again – “14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. ”
    Where in scripture do we find an example of a man who is described as being regenerated and then believing? Isn’t it odd that Calvinists are never able to point Biblical examples to support their claims.

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      1. Phillip has brought up the example of Sergius Paulus before. What Phillip does not bring up however is that the genre of Acts is that of historical narratives. These narratives do not tell us every detail of what occurred, they are summaries of events. We don’t know what Sergius’ experience was. We don’t know if others had witnessed to him already or told him some things about the Christian message. It says he was a proconsul and that he was intelligent. Intelligent people, especially leaders want to have information about things, especially in their area and involving important people that they will meet. That being the case you can be sure that he did not simply summon Paul and Barnabas to share things with him, without knowing anything about them at all. An important person like this does not just summon ordinary people off the street to meet with them. He knew of Paul, he knew of Christianity, and he knew this before they came to meet him. We don’t know how much that he knew, so he is not a good example of someone just desiring to hear the word. As a Politician you can be sure his interest in Paul was not solely spiritual.

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    1. One of the categories of persons that sometimes come up in the NT is that of “God-fearers”. These are people who were not born Jewish and yet they worshipped with Jews in the synagogues. So this kind of person was exposed to spiritual things, was open to them, and was seeking after God. Cornelius is explicitly referred to as a “God-fearer”. In Acts 10 he is described as a God fearer in v. 2 “a devout man, and one who feared God with all his household, and game many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually” and in v.22 “Cornelius . . . a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews”. So Cornelius is not just some pagan who suddenly starts seeking after God. He was already seeking after God as a God fearer and God set him up to hear the gospel from Peter. Lydia was described as “a worshipper of God” before she hears Paul. So she is yet another already religious person (perhaps a God fearer like Cornelius). These are both people who were already seeking God before they heard the gospel message. And it must be kept in mind that total depravity does not mean that people are not religious or never ever seek after God (the NT says the first century Jews zealously were seeking after God, their problem was that most of them stumbled on the stumbling stone/Jesus wrongly trusting in their keeping of the law to save them rather than trusting in Christ alone to save them). it means the effects of sin are extensive, so extensive as to effect every aspect of a person (their mind, their will, their body, every part of them is effected by sin).

      Total depravity refers to the extensive effects of sin.

      Now Calvinists incorrectly go from this to claiming the nonbeliever is like a physically dead corpse that cannot understand spiritual things whatsoever. But that is their conception of the consequences of depravity. It seems that from the Bible we must reasonably conclude that sin has effected all aspects of people. But we do not have to agree with the Calvinist that the result of total depravity is that the sinner is like a physically dead corpse. In scripture death most often refers to separation. So the sinner is spiritually dead meaning they are separated from God due to their sin, not in relation to him (cf. in the parable of the prodigal son, when the son leaves he is “dead ” to his father, not meaning incapable of doing anything, but separated from his father).

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      1. “These are both people who were already seeking God before they heard the gospel message. And it must be kept in mind that total depravity does not mean that people are not religious or never ever seek after God …”

        The issue here is why these people just happen to be seeking God. What is unique about them? In the parable of the sower and the seed, Christ explains that is was the good soil that received the seed and produced fruit. Good soil represents a good heart and a good heart, necessarily, is one prepared by God to accept the seed of the gospel.

        This is because of total depravity. Paul describes those who are totally depraved in Romans:

        “…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”

        “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” and Hebrews, “..without faith it is impossible to please God,…”

        “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

        Then Corinthians, “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,…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,…”

        “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,…”

        So, here is a description of the unsaved in a few verses:

        1. He does not have the Spirit of God so is controlled by the sinful nature.
        2. He does not have faith.
        3. He is hostile toward God.
        4. He does not accept the gospel and the gospel is foolishness to him.
        5. He is blinded by Satan so as not to even see the gospel.

        This is just a sampling of that which the Scriptures say about the unsaved from which the Calvinists conclude that the unsaved are totally unable and inable to respond to the gospel absent radical action by God to change their condition. While some don’t appreciate the illustration of a corpse to provide a sense of the dire straits in which the unsaved find themselves, the sense is still that the unsaved cannot respond to the gospel without help from God. So Jesus says in John 6, “…no-one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” It is only through ignorance of the Scriptures that people deny the Total Depravity – Inability – of the unsaved to respond to the gospel absent God’s direct action to change their condition.

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    2. The problem with your argument is that you assume that Cornelius, Lydia, etc., were not regenerated by the time they had begun seeking God. All people who become saved in time were actually chosen by God long ago from before the foundation of the world. Regeneration takes place before a person has saving faith, not the other way around. Who is to say that Cornelius and Lydia were not already regenerated by the time they began to seek God? The scriptures state that Cornelius was a “devout man who feared God with all of his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.” This is strong evidence that he had been regenerated before He came to know Christ. God had chosen that man long before he was born. John chapter 6 provides a detailed description of this process. The father gives His chosen to the Son. All that the Father gives to the Son, come to the Son. No one comes to the Son except the Father draw him. The exact moment of regeneration is not necessarily an overwhelming cathartic religious experience for many believers. Ephesians 2:1-10 is a good example of the principal that regeneration precedes faith.

      It is important to recognize that it is a common assumption that Nicodemus was saved. The gospels do not explicitly say that Nicodemus was saved, although chances are pretty good that he was.

      There are numerous examples in scripture providing evidence of people who had been regenerated first, and then they believed…

      Examples include Nathaniel under the fig tree (John 1:46-50), Simeon in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-33), the Centurion whose servant was sick (Luke 7:1-10), the woman who anointed Jesus (Luke 7:36-41), the woman with the disabling spirit (Luke 13:10-17), the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43), the woman at the well (John 4:1-42), the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9:1-38), the men of Judea who were “cut to the heart” before they believed (Acts 2:37-41), and others.

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      1. Hi David! Cornelius was not saved before Peter arrived (cf. Acts 11:14), so therefore he was not yet regenerated. This is a main problem with Calvinist theology, it tries to make regeneration a pre-salvation work. But regeneration is birth and birth means life and life is salvation! John 1:12 definitely places regeneration after receiving Christ and after believing on His name, for becoming a child of God is regeneration, it is being born from above, or born again into God’s family. To make regeneration different from becoming a child of God is ludicrous and hermeneutically unsound! And there are many other verses that place this salvation moment after the exercise of personal active faith (cf. Eph 1:13-14).

        Calvinism demands a pre-salvation regeneration, or what they define as the changing of a resistant will into a compliant will, that will then afterwards irresistibly, and passively, receive salvation. Calvinism has to have it this way to preserve its unbiblical dogma of the predetermination of all things before creation, including all divine and human choices, even though the Scripture reads differently concerning God’s and man’s decision making. Calvinism cannot have just any one freely accepting God’s grace or rejecting it freely, for that wouldn’t logically fit with the predetermination of all things before creation, even though such divine and human free interaction logically fits with the revelation and tenor of Scripture.

        Your biblical examples taken from historical narratives do not prove your doctrine of saving faith after this unique, unbiblical kind of regeneration. You have to read your theology into those texts. And you are forcing the logic of John 6. True, to come to the Son, one must be drawn, but everyone will be drawn at some point (cf, John 12:32), but not everyone will come, for there is no promise that if you’re drawn you have to come all the way into salvation. And being given to the Son is not explained as far as what the Father looks for in the person He gives to the Son. For example, the context is about encouraging the crowd to believe on Jesus (John 6:29, 35). From the rest of Scripture it is easy to see that the Father gives to the Son (baptizes into the body of Christ) those who are freely responding to God’s drawing of them, enabled by His enlightenment (1:9) and conviction (12:32), but not irresistibly (cf. Heb 3:7-8), and then coming all the way to the Son by trusting in the Son. I hope this helps.

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      2. This is a confused take on Calvinism.

        You say, “Calvinism demands a pre-salvation regeneration,…Calvinism has to have it this way to preserve its unbiblical dogma of the predetermination of all things before creation,…” Surely, at this stage in your career, you know that this is a false statement. Calvinism demands a pre-salvation regeneration because of Total Depravity and the inability of a person to respond to God in his natural state, “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8) and “…without faith it is impossible to please God:” (Hebrews 11). The unsaved do not have faith requiring that God convey faith to the person and God has chosen to do this through the preaching of the gospel. In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains how good soil – a good heart – receives the word and produces fruit. The regeneration process is necessary to prepare the heart of sinful man to receive the word whereby faith comes. Of Cornelius, Peter says, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” It is through faith that a person repents and believes the gospel. Calvinism says that the natural man has no faith to begin with and is unreceptive to the gospel and cannot receive faith because of a wicked heart. God must regenerate the unsaved – changing the heart – thereby providing for faith to enter in leading to repentance and belief of the gospel.

        You then refer to Calvinism’s “…unbiblical dogma of the predetermination of all things before creation, including all divine and human choices, even though the Scripture reads differently concerning God’s and man’s decision making.” Why not just be forthright and state that it is Calvinism’s insistence that God is omniscient that you have issue with since you do not hold that God is omniscient.

        When you say, “Cornelius was not saved before Peter arrived (cf. Acts 11:14), so therefore he was not yet regenerated,” this is your personal belief. In Titus, we read, “God saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” This can express a logical order such that the washing of regeneration precedes the renewing of the Holy Ghost. We saw Cornelius renewed with the Holy Ghost and this would be made possible by the washing of regeneration. Salvation and regeneration are two different concepts even though the process of salvation can include regeneration even as it includes the events of hearing the gospel with the conveyance of faith followed by the act of repentance and the pursuit of a holy life.

        Then for some reason, you argue the Universalist view on John 6 and John 12. John 6 is clear that being drawn to Christ equals salvation as Christ says, “I will raise him up at the last day.” By attaching John 12 to this, you are saying that God draws everyone to Christ who then saves everyone. Have you now yielded to Universalism??

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      3. You are a smart man Roger! I wish you were a fair minded one. You know that I have accurately portrayed the Calvinist view of regeneration as a pre-salvation work, and that you have inaccurately portrayed my view of the pre-salvation grace of enlightenment and conviction that God does give to everyman as being the same as the false gospel of Universalism.

        Your unbiblical pre-salvation regeneration is irresistible and particular resulting in the guaranteed unjust damnation of the many. My biblical pre-salvation illumination is universal but resistible resulting in true responsibility for everyone concerning God’s offer of salvation.

        It is sound hermeneutics and the normal reading of the contexts that show that biblical regeneration is the moment new life and salvation are given, and not a pre-salvation work like illumination. Calvin, himself, confused the two terms, illumination and regeneration. And you have also confused the pre-salvation aspects of repentance and revelation faith with the biblical teaching concerning personal active salvation faith when it is exercised by an individual.

        Repentance and revelation faith are presented to an individual’s will that has also received the pre-salvation graces of enlightenment (illumination) and conviction so that he can responsibly make a personal faith decision for or against that grace that will provide him salvation from his sin.

        Please become more fair in the presentation of your opponent’s arguments. You are a smart man.

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      4. Everything, Roger! I am sorry for the portions I did not make clear enough for you to understand, and for the portions you did not read carefully enough to try to understand.

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      5. Brian,

        Your response referring to John 6 and 12 suggesting that all men are drawn leaves no other conclusion than to suggest that you adhere to universalism. Does history support the universalist concept that Jesus has drawn ALL men to Himself? When Jesus was lifted up from the earth, were ALL men promptly drawn to Him? What about the millions of people who never heard of Jesus Christ? Do you think that the Mormons are correct in claiming that Jesus visited North America? Is there any evidence that the peoples throughout the Americas knew of Jesus before the Europeans arrived? Or does God have a special way of dealing with them pertaining to salvation? Perhaps another way of salvation?

        John’s gospel dispenses with and repudiates universalism. Chapter 6 is quite clear about that. Verses 37- 40 says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.”

        Verse 44 – 46 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, And they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me – …”

        Are you suggesting that John contradicted himself in chapter 12 when he wrote that Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself…”?

        Did the pre-columbian peoples in the Americas come to Jesus? Did the Father draw them unto Himself? If John did not contradict himself, and if the Bible is true, then the “all” in chapter 12 cannot be universalist in the sense of drawing before death every human that ever lived. Perhaps the verse should be viewed in a different way…

        Are you uncomfortable with being all-knowing and all-powerful? If so, then why?

        I have heard it said many times (by James White) that the only consistent Arminian is a universalist. Do you agree?

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      6. David, Asking so many crazy questions (like the ones about Mormanism) seems to indicate to me that you do not want to have a serious discussion. If you do, you may want to first consider two things, and then, if you want, you can come back asking one or two serious questions about specific Scriptures. 1.) There is a difference between God universally providing sufficient opportunity for everyone ever born to seek Him and find Him (cf. Acts 17:28, Rom 1, 2) and Universalism, meaning everyone gets saved eventually. 2.) The promise “I will raise him on the last day”(John 6:44) logically only needs to be tied to the undistributed premise “No can come to me” and not to the distributed premise “unless the Father…draws him.”

        This is only one way of salvation – by grace through faith. Praise the Lord that He did not pre-determine that only a few would get an irresistible, against their will, salvation experience, damning everyone else who bears His image, but determined that everyone bearing His image would be given a responsible opportunity to receive or reject the grace necessary to save them from sin. “Have they not heard”(Rom 10:18)? He has “mercy on all”(Rom 11:32)! Praise His name!

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      7. Hi Brian,

        You wrote: “There is a difference between God universally providing sufficient opportunity for everyone ever born to seek Him and find Him (cf. Acts 17:28, Rom 1, 2) and Universalism, meaning everyone gets saved eventually.”

        I appreciate the distinction made between your concept of universal “drawing” of the Father, and of universal salvation. My question related to Mormonism is a serious one. Do you believe that God universally provided sufficient opportunity for everyone ever born to seek Him and find Him? How could the “universal provision of sufficient opportunity” happen if millions of people had never even heard the gospel and/or the name of Jesus Christ before missionaries and explorers arrived 1400 years later in the Americas?

        The Aztecs, Toltecs, Mayas, Incas, etc., built impressive civilizations for many generations, and all of them were without the gospel, yet Jesus had already ascended into Heaven. Did any of those people have a way of salvation?

        John 6:37 says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out”.

        Were any of the pre-columbian North and South Americans given to the Son by the Father? And did they subsequently come to Him?

        John 6:38 says, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

        Will Jesus be raising up on the last day any of the pre-columbian North and South Americans?

        John 6:44 says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

        Did the Father draw any of the pre-columbian North and South Americans? And will they be raised up on the last day?

        If faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, then did these peoples ever hear the word of Christ?

        In short, does your persistent commitment to autonomous free-will of mankind and synergistic salvation, lead you to the uncomfortable conclusion that there could be another way of salvation?

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      8. Hi David! I don’t think you read closely enough my previous post, especially the last paragraph. Nor do I think that you looked up the Scriptures I listed in support. I answered all these questions that you posted.

        But to clarify further, the one way of salvation (the gospel) can be boiled down to trusting in God’s mercy to receive His righteousness to replace our sin. We know the name and some of the history of that mercy – as the Lord Jesus Christ. But even the OT saints, and those without any Scripture (before and after Moses) were trusting in the same core message.

        A good example is seen in Jesus story of the tax collector who expressed that faith in the words “God be merciful to me a sinner” and went home “justified”. God’s personal use of creation and conscience (Rom 1, 2) is sufficient to bring everyone to a moment by Him through His enlightenment and conviction to be enabled to make that prayer of faith, though not irresistibly. I hope this helps.

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      9. Hi Brian,

        You said… “I don’t think you read closely enough my previous post, especially the last paragraph. Nor do I think that you looked up the Scriptures I listed in support. I answered all these questions that you posted.” Actually, I did read them… and did so very carefully. Are you saying that those scriptures answer the questions that I posed?

        You then said, “But to clarify further, the one way of salvation (the gospel) can be boiled down to trusting in God’s mercy to receive His righteousness to replace our sin. We know the name and some of the history of that mercy – as the Lord Jesus Christ. But even the OT saints, and those without any Scripture (before and after Moses) were trusting in the same core message.”

        Do you really believe that the Aztecs, Olmecs, Incas, and other indigenous tribes had a Judaic understanding of who God is? Were they trusting the same “core message”? Are you suggesting that they had access to a similar message which we know as the Lord Jesus Christ? Please explain how this happened.

        You seem to be suggesting that there is another way of salvation apart from Jesus Christ. If not, then please explain. How was Christ involved in their salvation?

        You then said, “A good example is seen in Jesus story of the tax collector who expressed that faith in the words ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ and went home ‘justified’.” The scriptures state that the tax collector “went up to the Temple to pray”. That was the Jewish Temple, not a pagan center of worship. That tax collector went to the Temple of the Most High God. He was praying to the great I AM. Please explain to me how the peoples of the Americas were provided the same “sufficient opportunity” to pray to the Holy One of Israel?

        You said, “God’s personal use of creation and conscience (Rom 1, 2) is sufficient to bring everyone to a moment by Him through His enlightenment and conviction to be enabled to make that prayer of faith, though not irresistibly. I hope this helps.”

        Actually it does not help your position. The passages in Romans explains why there is no excuse for anyone. I see nothing in those passages which suggest that pagans, apart from the work of the Holy Spirit and hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, become enlightened and convicted to enable them to make a prayer of faith. Romans 2:12 states “For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. Romans 3:9-12 says, “What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks are under sin, as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one: no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’

        Please explain how anyone who did not have access to the “core message” was saved.

        The Apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”.

        Did the peoples of the Americas have a “sufficient opportunity” to believe in the Son of God before the missionaries arrived?

        Did God the Father give any of those peoples to the Son? Did any of them come to the Son? Will Jesus raise any of them up on the last day?

        Is it fair to say that the persistent allegiance to the concept of the autonomous free will of man, and of synergistic salvation, forces one to accept the unrealistic concept that every person who has ever lived has been given a “sufficient opportunity” to believe and exercise saving faith? The Arminian wants to believe that everyone is given a sufficient opportunity. Why? So that there can be boasting at the end of the day for those who “chose” rightly? Is there a deep down desire within Arminians to take some of the credit for their salvation?

        Why not truly acknowlege that God is sovereign over all, and give Him the glory that is due unto His name?

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      10. Hi David. Actually, it may surprise you, but all my answers to your questions in your last post (except for the ones posed in your last major paragraph), are a qualified yes! The only qualification is that not ancient groups, as groups, but all the individuals in those groups have been loved by their Creator and given the opportunity to repent (cf. 2Pet 3:9). I would suggest you read Elihu’s discussion of pre-Mosaic, or universal drawing in Job 33:14-30. Another good book that discusses these things from Scripture and from historical example is Eternity in Their Hearts, by Don Richardson.

        Christ paid for the sins of the world (1John 2:2), and faith in the mercy of the Creator is faith in Jesus.

        The tax collector did not know about historical person, Jesus, nor did he pray to Jehovah in the temple, nor was he even basing his prayer what he believed about Judaism. But according to Jesus, he addressed God generically with the title God and expressed his trust in God’s mercy for his sins.

        Read Rom 1 and 2 carefully again and see what exactly God brings people to know and then answer Paul’s question in 10:18 which points back to chapters 1 and 2.

        You asked, “Is it fair to say that the persistent allegiance to the concept of the autonomous free will of man, and of synergistic salvation, forces one to accept the unrealistic concept that every person who has ever lived has been given a ‘sufficient opportunity’ to believe and exercise saving faith? No it is not fair to say that, for the Scripture does teach that concept, so therefore it is not unrealistic.

        You asked, “The Arminian wants to believe that everyone is given a sufficient opportunity. Why?” Because the Scripture says so as I have shown in the verses I listed and discussed briefly.

        You asked, “So that there can be boasting at the end of the day for those who ‘chose’ rightly? No, boasting would be inappropriate, for salvation is all of God. Do you boast in yourself, David, every time you actively, personally receive a gift that you didn’t deserve from the hands of someone who loved you and offered it freely to you?

        You asked, “Is there a deep down desire within Arminians to take some of the credit for their salvation?” No, I believe such a question is just a ploy used by Calvinists to unlovingly denigrate the motivations of their brothers with whom they disagree, without looking more seriously at the biblical evidence given for the differing understanding. I think you should not use such statements in your future discussions, David, if you are trying to be helpful.

        You asked, “Why not truly acknowledge that God is sovereign over all, and give Him the glory that is due unto His name?” God is sovereign over all, and I give Him the glory due His name! This is another kind of denigrating question that you should avoid asking, David. Both sides naturally think the other side is not giving enough glory to the character and sovereignty of God. But let’s deal with specific understandings of Scripture that describe how His character and sovereignty is truly expressed and let God be the final judge as to which people “truly acknowledge” those things. Ok? I hope this helps some more.

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      11. brianwagner writes, “Christ paid for the sins of the world (1John 2:2)…”

        Actually 1 John 2:2 says, “Jesus is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world…” Jesus was offered up by God as a propitiation for the sins of His elect in particular and in general, for the whole world. God is then able to apply that propitiation to anyone He wants (regardless how He decides to do this). Later in 1 John, we read of God’s intent, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (or the sins of His elect). Elsewhere in the Scriptures, we understand that it was not God’s intent to save everyone.

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      12. you say:
        Are you suggesting that John contradicted himself in chapter 12 when he wrote that Jesus said, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself…”?

        I don’t mean to answer for Brian, but here’s my take on it: Christ promised wherever he is lifted up he will draw all men. There is a clear condition that he be lifted up (so that men can see his sacrifice) as well as the double meaning that he is lifted up (as a sacrifice). This is what Paul meant when he said in Gal. 3:1 that “Before your eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” Even Paul himself experienced that drawing without responding to it since he kicked against the goads. I don’t think John 6 proves particular redemption or irresistible grace as I show here: http://www.theos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=4999&p=66659#p66659 — the Calvinists merely quote certain verses constantly ignoring the entire surrounding context (not a way I’d ever do exegesis).

        you say:
        I have heard it said many times (by James White) that the only consistent Arminian is a universalist. Do you agree?

        You forgot, “or an Open Theist.” I know Brian believes in a more sophisticated salvation, where a clear understanding of Christ crucified is not necessary, but a rather just a basic need of salvation and a prayer to a Supreme being, and also entertains Open Theistic ideas. I don’t think the logic of James White follows at all, because it’s making the basic mistake of equating foreknowledge with causation (which rhutchin here does and it’s a common sloppy conclusion ever since the ideas where thought of, but easily disproved with logic).

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      13. David,

        It is reasonable that **if** your calvinistic theology is true, then it would make sense that regeneration precedes faith. However there are two major problems with this. First, many of us are convinced via scripture, experience, etc. that calvinistic theology is false. Second, the regeneration precedes faith doctrine that you and other calvinists espouse is not exegetically derived (i.e. it is not a result of proper interpretation of scripture but instead results from reading in this concept into the biblical texts). This is very easy to demonstrate.

        David you wrote:

        “There are numerous examples in scripture providing evidence of people who had been regenerated first, and then they believed…
        Examples include Nathaniel under the fig tree (John 1:46-50), Simeon in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22-33), the Centurion whose servant was sick (Luke 7:1-10), the woman who anointed Jesus (Luke 7:36-41), the woman with the disabling spirit (Luke 13:10-17), the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43), the woman at the well (John 4:1-42), the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9:1-38), the men of Judea who were “cut to the heart” before they believed (Acts 2:37-41), and others.”

        Take any of these examples and show us from scripture how the regeneration precedes faith doctrine is presented by these scriptures.

        For example in the Luke 7 passage dealing with the Centurion, where in the text does it say that regeneration preceded faith?

        And we can ask this question of any of the examples that you have provided. None of them has the word regeneration in the texts or the surrounding texts/context. None of them states that regeneration precedes faith. It appears that instead you simply read in this concept that you believe INTO these texts.

        This is insufficient to establish this doctrine and does not persuade others that it is true or biblical.

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      14. Robert writes, “…many of us are convinced via scripture, experience, etc. that calvinistic theology is false….”

        That is the problem. You let experience, etc. corrupt that which the Scriptures say.

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      15. you say:
        Please explain to me how the peoples of the Americas were provided the same “sufficient opportunity” to pray to the Holy One of Israel?

        I think he pretty much did that already. All you need is:

        1. A concept of a Supreme Being. According to Romans 1, all people have that (otherwise how are they without excuse, if they have no idea?)
        2. A concept that one is sinful to said Supreme Being.
        3. A trust in the Supreme Being to justify the ungodly (a primitive faith in grace).

        This could be illustrated by Job who illustrates all three of these points without any Gospel message or understanding of Jesus specifically as a person in history that performed a specific work.

        you say:
        You seem to be suggesting that there is another way of salvation apart from Jesus Christ. If not, then please explain. How was Christ involved in their salvation?

        One would describe anyone partaking of the above 3 step method as accessing the grace in Christ, even unknowingly of the specific name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Catholics accept this view as “lesser light.”)

        I think both Open Theism and Molinism could logically affirm a synthesis of freedom and yet everyone having an opportunity for salvation (see William Lane Craig for a good explanation of the Molinistic universal opportunity.)

        you say:
        Did God the Father give any of those peoples to the Son? Did any of them come to the Son? Will Jesus raise any of them up on the last day?

        Are you aware that many Calvinists consider all babies and small infants who die, to be automatically elect? Couldn’t you apply the same argument against them? You wouldn’t limit God’s ability to do such a thing?

        you say:
        Is it fair to say that the persistent allegiance to the concept of the autonomous free will of man, and of synergistic salvation, forces one to accept the unrealistic concept that every person who has ever lived has been given a “sufficient opportunity” to believe and exercise saving faith?

        No, it’s completely unfair. I accept free autonomous will, yet I deny that every person of all time has had an opportunity or sufficient grace for salvation. In fact, I’ve debated with Brian at length on this very topic in several on these blogs, and we came to no satisfying agreement. I personally would *prefer* if Brian’s view were true, and I am open to it, I just can’t find enough Biblical support to satisfy me personally. I think the fall has produced enormous amounts of collateral damage in the lost souls of those I would truly label victims of another man’s sin.

        you say:
        The Arminian wants to believe that everyone is given a sufficient opportunity.

        In general that’s true, but there are many exceptions, including me. I’ve debated exegetically at length and with vigor against that view.

        you say:
        So that there can be boasting at the end of the day for those who “chose” rightly? Is there a deep down desire within Arminians to take some of the credit for their salvation?

        I wish this old canard would die. You’d think Calvinists were more fleshly constantly thinking about boasting all the time, whereas I’ve never head a single Arminian coming to this conclusion. Receiving a gift does not give one bragging rights in our view, period, end of story, not logically and not in Christ’s view either.

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  10. Brian wrote of rhutchin:

    “Please become more fair in the presentation of your opponent’s arguments. You are a smart man.”

    This is a major reason that usually I do not choose to interact with rhutchin’s posts. He may be smart but in repeatedly unfairly presenting the views of others (e.g. repeatedly and constantly accusing non-Calvinists falsely of holding to the false doctrine of **universalism**, he is doing so yet again in this thread) this is being dishonest. He has been corrected many times on this, and yet continues to present these misrepresentations and caricatures and false claims of what others believe. This dishonesty needs to stop.

    If rhutchin wants to have civil and mutually encouraging interactions with other believers, these unfair presentations of others views and arguments needs to cease. If he does not cease from this behavior a lot of time is being wasted correcting these false presentations. Rhutchin could start with say one of his common misrepresentations: stop accusing non-Calvinists of holding to universalism.

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  11. Dizerner

    In response to James White’s claim, you wrote:

    “I don’t think the logic of James White follows at all, because it’s making the basic mistake of equating foreknowledge with causation (which rhutchin here does and it’s a common sloppy conclusion ever since the ideas where thought of, but easily disproved with logic).”

    James White is not credible in his claims. I used to like him years ago when he focused on apologetics and errors of theology and cults. Then he **converted** to Calvinism and it appears to be his major focus, so he is not as committed to these other areas as he used to be. Now he frequently talks about his calvinistic beliefs and attacks non-Calvinists who challenge his Calvinism. Seems he is much more focused on fighting other believers now than fighting false cults and theologies. This is sad.
    An example of how his views have changed is that prior to his conversion to calvinism, he held to universal atonement. He knew the scripture on atonement and he correctly concluded that unlimited atonement is true. At THAT TIME he never called himself a “universalist” or argued that non-Calvinism leads to universalism.

    In his own testimony of how he changed views from unlimited atonement to limited atonement, he does not tell us that scripture led him to change his views. He tells us that certain arguments by calvinists convinced him that limited atonement is the correct view. So it was not scripture that led him to reject unlimited atonement and adopt limited atonement: it was the arguments of calvinists! So considering that he converted to calvinism not because of scripture but because of certain arguments: his claims concerning non-Calvinism are not credible. Now if he had changed his views because of scripture, I could respect that. But changing his theology just based upon the arguments of certain calvinists, that is not sufficient and not persuasive at all. Based on this you have to take the things he claims with a large grain of salt! 🙂

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      1. Dizerner,

        I don’t believe that he was ever a self professed Arminian. What I have noticed, again, is that at one time he did really good counter cult ministry. Debated and refuted cultists, wrote books on it, etc. Then he ***converted*** to five point Calvinism and now he debates or tries to debate other believers on the subject of Calvinism. So, sadly and unfortunately, a very good apologist when it comes to non-Christian groups changed his focus and now is “battling” other believers on Calvinism!

        We need him debating and correcting false religions and cults and philosophies not attempting to correct and convert other believers to five point Calvinism.

        Dizerner the source you cite does describe his change from holding to unlimited atonement to limited atonement (and he says that it was not scripture that changed his view it was some arguments by five point Calvinists).

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    1. Robert writes, “…basic mistake of equating foreknowledge with causation (which rhutchin here does…”

      What I have done is point out that some people will say that God looks into the future to discover what men will do (gaining foreknowledge) and then react to the things that He learns about people. For example, someone will say that God looks into the future to discover whether a person accepts Christ and having learned this, God then makes them His elect. Thus, some people make foreknowledge the basis/cause of certain of God’s actions.

      I have not equated foreknowledge with causation except as described above, and I was explaining how others actually do it. That should clarify Robert’s comment as it provides proper context for understanding it.

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  12. I have been requesting that people should not misrepresent the views of other people (whether it be the views of Arminians, Calvinists, etc.).

    I reread Brian Wagner’s recent post and he misrepresents the Calvinist view when he writes: “Praise the Lord that He did not pre-determine that only a few would get an irresistible, against their will, salvation experience,”

    Calvinists do believe that individual person’s salvation would be predetermined, chosen for salvation in eternity, before they were alive before they did anything good or bad. However they do not believe that the elect “would get an irresistible, against their will, salvation experience.”

    They believe that God regenerates those whom he chose for salvation (i.e. the elect) and that this regeneration changes their will so that they desire to follow Jesus, desire to obey Jesus, desire spiritual things. Now I disagree with them on this claim that regeneration precedes faith and I disagree that regeneration changes people’s desires in this way (I believe it is the pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit that changes people’s desires and their interest in spiritual things). But their view is that the will of the elect person is changed by regeneration so that they do not come to faith **against their will**. They are not forced to believe against their will, rather, with their will having been changed by regeneration, they desire Christ and salvation.

    So it is a misrepresentation to claim as Brian Wagner does, that they “get an irresistible, against their will, salvation experience.”

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    1. Sorry Robert… but you need to rethink your assessment. The elect, according to Calvinism, in their unregenerate condition do not want to have faith or to receive salvation or to have their will changed so that they then can passively receive the gift of faith and irresistibly accept salvation. So, yes… it is all against their will, the will they were born with, according to Calvinism!

      If you are forced to like something… you were forced to like something you did not choose to like, even though you may confess later that you now like it, and are glad that you were forced to like it against your will. I hope this helps.

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      1. Brian you are still mistaken in your claim that Calvinists believe that the sinner is forced against their will to believe. Again, in THEIR THINKING regeneration changes the will of the sinner so that they now desire Christ. I think the error you are making is that you operate from the framework of people having libertarian free will so that the person has a contrary to God will at one point and then God forces them against their will to desire him. But THEY don’t hold to libertarian free will, they will make much of how the sinner is dead in sin and a slave of sin and so only capable of sinning and desiring to sin while unregenerate. Then regeneration comes along they tell us, and this changes everything including the will of the person so that once regenerated THEN they desire Christ.

        Perhaps a better way to explain the error you are making regarding the Calvinist view is to remember that according to THEM, God turns or changes the will at any time as he completely and directly controls the will of the person (hence they like to proof text from Proverbs using the verse about the heart of the King being directed by God). If God controls the will as they maintain, then he simply turns it any way that he wants. So again the person who is regenerated and then chooses to trust Christ is not doing so AGAINST THEIR WILL, rather, God has changed their will, redirected their will so now they desire Christ. Again, I don’t agree with them at all on this, but THAT is their view. If you want to see this check out their own comments on regeneration and its effects, you will see this same claim over and over again (i.e. that the will of the sinner is changed via regeneration so that previously they were contrary to Christ, in rebellion and yet then their will was directly changed by God so that now they love Christ and seek to follow Him). A friend of mine likens this to a magical pixie dust that once sprinkled on a person supernaturally changes their will so that they start desiring Jesus. None of this is found in the Bible, but again it **is** their view. Brian you need to stop misrepresenting them on this.

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      2. Robert writes, “…a better way to explain the error you are making regarding the Calvinist view is to remember that according to THEM, God turns or changes the will at any time as he completely and directly controls…”

        Not exactly – which you should know since you later quoted RC Sproul on regeneration.

        Jesus said, “…out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’;” Thus, the heart of the person turns the will of the person in one direction or the other. God does not change a person’s will; God changes a person’s heart – so from Ezekiel, “I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

        James tells us, “God chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” When the gospel is preached, it has an unique effect on some people – those who are described as “hearing” the gospel. It brings about a new birth and conveys faith to the person and with this faith, the person repents of their sin and believes the gospel, and this begins the process of renewing the mind as one studies to show himself approved of God.

        In all this, the will is affected also. Adam had libertarian free will and lost it when he sinned thereby becoming a slave to sin. When the preaching of the word regenerates a person and conveys faith, the change to the person’s heart re-establishes libertarian free will. Anyone with libertarian free will combined with the truth of the gospel will choose eternal life over eternal death.

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  13. Brian this is from R. C. Sproul, look at it carefully this proves you were mistaken and misrepresenting their view:

    R.C. Sproul on Regeneration

    Our natural prejudgment of reality is against God. To receive the truth of God requires that our “anti” bias be changed. The key work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration is not giving new knowledge to the brain but changing the disposition of the heart. Before the Spirit turns that heart of stone into a heart of flesh, we have no desire for the things of God. We may desire the blessings that only God can give us, but we have no affection for the things of God. At the moment of regeneration, the eyes of the heart are opened somewhat, but this is just the beginning. The whole Christian life involves an unfolding and enlarging of the heart’s openness to the things of God.
    1.Regeneration is the divine work of God the Holy Spirit upon the minds and souls of fallen people, by which the Spirit quickens those who are spiritually dead and makes them spiritually alive. This supernatural work rescues that person from his bondage to sin and his moral inability to incline himself towards the things of God. Regeneration, by being a supernatural work, is obviously a work that cannot be accomplished by natural man on his own. If it were a natural work, it would not require the intervention of God the Holy Spirit.
    2.Regeneration is a monergistic work. “Monergistic” means that it is the work of one person who exercises his power. In the case of regeneration, it is God alone who is able, and it is God alone who performs the work of regenerating the human soul. The work of regeneration is not a joint venture between the fallen person and the divine Spirit; it is solely the work of God.
    3.The monergistic work of regeneration by the Holy Spirit is an immediate work. It is immediate with respect to time, and it is immediate with respect to the principle of operating without intervening means. The Holy Spirit does not use something apart from His own power to bring a person from spiritual death to spiritual life, and when that work is accomplished, it is accomplished instantaneously. No one is partly regenerate, or almost regenerate. Here we have a classic either/or situation. A person is either born again, or he is not born again. There is no nine-month gestation period with respect to this birth. When the Spirit changes the disposition of the human soul, He does it instantly. A person may not be aware of this internal work accomplished by God for some time after it has actually occurred. But though our awareness of it may be gradual, the action of it is instantaneous.
    4.The work of regeneration is effectual. That is, when the Holy Spirit regenerates a human soul, the purpose of that regeneration is to bring that person to saving faith in Jesus Christ. That purpose is effected and accomplished as God purposes in the intervention. Regeneration is more than giving a person the possibility of having faith, it gives him the certainty of possessing that saving faith.
    5.Regeneration is a gift that God disposes sovereignly to all of those whom He determines to bring into His family.

    R.C. Sproul, The New Birth, Tabletalk, March 2007, p. 6-7 and The Purpose of God, An Exposition of Ephesians published by Christian Focus Publications.

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    1. Nope… you still are mistaken Robert! And I know you don’t mind people disagreeing with you at all… 😉 I think you would agree that the elect according to Calvinism before regeneration do not want their will changed by God or anything that may come as a result of it being changed. So before regeneration it would be against their will to experience regeneration, faith and salvation. Agreed? They don’t want the pixie dust! Just because you point out that after regeneration they are forced to passively receive faith (which many Calvinist’s believe happens simultaneously with regeneration, and others as a post regeneration gift), doesn’t mean that all of this divine work is still not against the personal will with which they were born, and by which they expressed “freely”, according to Calvinism, their own choices within their bondage to the sin nature.

      But I would argue that even after regeneration their will is not yet free, for it cannot reject any grace/faith necessary for salvation. Only after salvation (the moment of which is really hazy in Calvinism, because they have separated new birth from new life) is their will finally free to reject grace that is needed for living out the Christian life that they now possess. So Dizerner may be more accurate in saying “regardless of their will”, at least for the stage between regeneration and life, within Calvinism, but I still hold to the logic of saying it is against their will. For if the will is not free to reject, what is done to the person is against their will because it is against the very definition of will.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. you say:
        For if the will is not free to reject, what is done to the person is against their will because it is against the very definition of will.

        This is the real sticking point for me as well. I know *I* would describe it as against their will, but I go overboard to “play by the other guy’s rules” in the hopes they might listen more to what I have to say.

        But rhutchin who seems to constantly correct standard descriptions about Calvinism as “not Calvinism” doesn’t sound like any Calvinist I’ve ever heard. I guess he’s made his own amalgamation of beliefs like Leighton has done with Arminianism. I don’t know it if it makes more sense to give that peculiar a stance a specific term to differentiate it. It’s a bit ironic that rhutchin tries to say prevenient grace and regeneration is “a difference without a distinction” then tries to separate libertarian free will from the heart, then even further tries to say libertarian free will doesn’t even have a true choice but must always choose God. To me, those are real distinctions without differences; if the heart is not the center of choice, what is it’s function? And if choice means you have no choice, how is it free? I guess these things somehow make sense in some people’s minds.

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      2. Dizerner writes, “But rhutchin who seems to constantly correct standard descriptions about Calvinism as “not Calvinism” doesn’t sound like any Calvinist I’ve ever heard.”

        I think that attests to your general ignorance of Calvinism and Calvinist doctrine even though you think otherwise.

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      3. you say:
        I think that attests to your general ignorance of Calvinism and Calvinist doctrine even though you think otherwise.

        Isn’t that a bit of a meaningless claim without any evidence to back it up? Can you quote some prominent Calvinists describing these very strange beliefs you hold?

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      4. Okay, can you name one Calvinist that believes humans have “libertarian free will” at any point in time? (Also maybe some work by them so I could read it.) Note that I don’t mean “free will” because the word “libertarian” was specifically added on to differentiate between Calvinistic “free will,” that we don’t consider free.

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      5. Robert provided god resources for this. He refers to Michael Horton who, “quotes John Owen ‘The will is liberated, not violated. If it be compelled, says John Owen, “it is destroyed.'”

        When Owen speaks of the will being liberated, he is speaking of that liberation consistent with Libertarian free will.

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      6. you say:
        When Owen speaks of the will being liberated, he is speaking of that liberation consistent with Libertarian free will.

        Absolutely not in anything even remotely close to the sense that Libertarian means (free).

        Here’s what he said on free will:
        “the whole Pelagian poison of free-will … a clear exaltation of the old idol free-will into the throne of God … That the decaying estate of Christianity have invented… [Free will is] corrupted nature’s deformed darling, the Pallas or beloved self-conception of darkened minds… it is subservient to the decree of God, as I showed before… infallibly complying with God’s providence and working by virtue of the motion thereof. But surely to assert such a supreme independency and every way unbounded indifferency as the Arminians claim, whereby, all other things requisite being presupposed, it should remain absolutely in our own power to will or not to will, to do anything or not to do it, is plainly to deny that our wills are subject to the rule of the Most High…against its exaltation to this height of independency, I oppose… for nothing but a divine will can be a pure act… Nothing in this sense can have an independent principle of operation which hath not an independent being.”

        Nothing in this is what any Arminian means by LFW. He constantly couches it in doublespeak like the following:

        “Neither doth this motion being extrinsical at all prejudice the true liberty of the will, which requireth indeed that the internal principle of operation be active and free, but not that that principle be not moved to that operation by an outward superior agent.”

        To claim opposite things at the same time is not a cogent or persuasive argument, but the claims of insanity and throwing out rational discourse. It would be as if:

        “Neither doth the squarishness of the square at all prejudice the circular nature of that selfsame square, as long as it remains square in nature, yet retains its properties of being a circle by operation of its circularity.”

        It’s just nonsensical and self-defeating doublespeak, and why I say Calvinists would make spectacular politicians.

        Bless!

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      7. When Owen speaks of free will, he writes, “The Holy Ghost works in us and upon us, as we are fit to be wrought in and upon;
        that is, so as to preserve our own liberty and free obedience.”

        The liberty of which Owen speaks is gained when the believer is freed from slavery to sin. The believer chooses between the flesh against which he struggles and obedience to God through the working of the Spirit. He can choose otherwise because he now has liberty where before he could only choose to sin.

        Regarding free will and the Arminian, Owen objects to a use off free will to choose salvation independent of God.

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      8. So you believe the libertarian free will of man, is that which has been determined by God, is that correct or incorrect?

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      9. God created Adam with libertarian free will in the garden; Adam (and his posterity) lost LFW when he sinned; God restores libertarian free will to His elect in regeneration. So, God determined that Adam should have LFW and then in restoring LFW to His elect, He determined that they should have LFW.

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      10. I’m asking if all choices of all humans are defined by you as that which has been determined by God—that’s a yes or no question.

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      11. All choices people make are necessarily determined by something – else a choice would not be made. When God created the world, He knew everything that was to happen until the end. In every choice that people have made or will make in the course of time, God has already decreed (decided) whether to intervene to prevent certain choices or allow natural events to reach a natural conclusion. When God created the world, everything was thereby determined and now human history is unfolding in accord with God’s omniscient knowledge.

        So, Yes, all choices of people have been determined by God (recognizing that God does not have to cause that which he determines).

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      12. Do you believe God can determine a choice that is made truly autonomous from God’s control, but only determined by God foreknowing what the autonomous choice would be, so that the choice is determined, not by a lack of autonomy on the chooser, but merely by the fact God foreknew what the autonomous chooser would autonomously choose? Or would you say that’s incorrect.

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      13. It is not possible for a person to make a choice autonomous from God’s control. That which is truly autonomous is God. If God knows the future of people who claim to be autonomous, then those people cannot be autonomous.

        It sounds like you want a person to be able to make choices without God knowing those choices until after they are made. If that is the case (since you seem unable to explain what you mean), then you are proposing that God not be omniscient.

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      14. It’s not about when chronologically God knows a choice, it’s about whether God himself is controlling the choice. It doesn’t matter when, for example, I know that you rhutchin, have decided to do some act—just because by some means I know you will do it, does not make me the one who is really deciding for you. Foreknowledge does not equal causation logically; think about it this way; if I know what you did yesterday with 100% certainty, does that mean I caused you to do it? No, that’s silly, you’d say. Yet you want to argue if God knows what I will do before I am born with 100% certainty that somehow means I don’t have autonomy. Knowledge of an actions logically *has nothing to do with causation* of the action. Nothing. Knowing about a thing is *never* logically linked to causing a thing to happen. Now what you *can* argue is that if I know something is going to happen and I don’t stop it, I’m irresponsible; but you *can’t* argue that if I know a thing is going to happen and I don’t stop it, I *myself* caused it. Can you see that point?

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      15. Didn’t we agree that we would establish our positions using the Scriptures? What Scriptures support your idea about the autonomy of man or God’s knowledge? Why should anyone believe your reasoning?

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      16. OK. You don’t have any Scriptures to support your idea about the autonomy of man or God’s knowledge. Thus, you reason from the Scriptures to draw out your conclusions. So what Scriptures are reasoning from?

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      17. When we get a statement in Scripture that says “If you do _ then _, and if you do _ then __” that expresses indeterminacy and autonomous choice the way any normal person would express it in language. Calvinists demand that the only proof of true free will in Scripture that an Arminian could give, is if every single decision in the Bible read like this: “David then prayed to the Lord (out of his autonomous libertarian free will not casually determined from before the creation of the world by the secret counsels of God) and then David traveled to Bethlehem (out of his autonomous libertarian free will not casually determined from before the creation of the world by the secret counsels of God) and etc and etc.” In normal speech using contingencies with uncertainty is expressing belief in autonomy; it is *not* assumed to be a framework of determinism with carefully crafted deceitful “free will” phraseology.

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      18. Your definition of autonomy cannot be that a person is autonomous with respect to God. The person is always subject to God’s rule and acts within the constraints of God’s rule. (e.g., Joseph’s brothers could not kill Joseph but could sell him, Potiphar could not have Joseph put to death but could have him thrown in prison, the Jews could stone Stephen but not Peter.)

        The problem with “free” will is that everyone knows that people have a will and make decisions – no one has yet to show that the will is “free.” Calvinists will accept any proof of “free” will or “Libertarian free” will that you can develop. The problem is that the proofs offered by non-Calvinists are of the form, “I feel free, so I am free.” Have you run across a proof based on a rational argument and not one’s feelings?

        You cannot cite verses to prove your belief about the autonomy of people; how should we expect any different regarding “free” will. That is why you are forced to continually offer philosophical musings as you have done above rather than Scriptural proof.

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      19. Look. Calvinists us philosophy (sometimes more than us, lol). You can’t even talk about the meaning of words and grammar without some philosophy so it’s unavoidable.

        But let’s put that aside for a moment. Don’t you think your constantly excusing away free choices could be used to justify personal sin in your own life? You could rationalize any personal sinful addictions by saying “well it must be what God decreed” instead of taking the Biblical approach of confessing, repenting and forsaking your personal sinful habits? Where in the Bible does it say that God wants you be in the bondage of sin?

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      20. Dizerber writes, “Calvinists us philosophy (sometimes more than us, lol). You can’t even talk about the meaning of words and grammar without some philosophy so it’s unavoidable.”

        This is wrong. Calvinists appeal to the Scriptures for their basic doctrines (the supremacy and sovereignty of God, and the depravity of man). One can speak of the meaning of words as used in the context of the Scriptures. Philosophy – or the tools of logic to which philosophy adheres – may build on Biblical doctrines but cannot be used to establish Biblical doctrines.

        1. Don’t you think your constantly excusing away free choices could be used to justify personal sin in your own life?

        Of course not. What does Paul argue in Romans 2? – “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” Then James, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”

        2. You could rationalize any personal sinful addictions by saying “well it must be what God decreed” instead of taking the Biblical approach of confessing, repenting and forsaking your personal sinful habits?

        God decreed that I should choose to sin if that was my desire. That I take advantage of the freedom that God gave me is all on me.

        3. Where in the Bible does it say that God wants you be in the bondage of sin?

        I don’t see that God wants me to be in bondage to as He revealed Christ to me. Nonetheless, I am not sinless as Paul explains, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out…So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.”

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      21. well two points.

        first your posts are full of philosophy to make your points, then you hypocritically tell me that i’m using so-called “philosophy” just because I apply a little bit of logic to a Scripture verse. I take a scripture verse and apply logic to it, we can’t understand words and grammar without logic. you called that philosophy—that was your word.

        You take “God works out all things according to the counsel of his will,” then insist that can only mean determinism by applying massive amounts of man-made Calvinistic philosophy to that verse, for example.

        Or take a recent post of yours, you say this:
        “It is true that God tempts no one. However, if God did not move out of the way so that Satan could enter the garden, Eve could never have been tempted to sin. Did not God allow Satan to toy with Job. What was Satan’s purpose – to tempt Job to sin. We are told that both Satan and God incited David to number Israel. We conclude that Satan directly affected David’s sin but that God took responsibility for it because Satan only did that which God wanted to be done.”

        Notice how you use logic, you say “because such and such, we conclude such and such.” Yet if I do the same thing you call it philosophy—it’s not philosophy, it’s the basic inescapable logic we use to understand words and make any deductions in meaning whatsoever. You constantly do this, and really need to stop, because not only are you making a super basic error in logic, you are being extraordinarily hypocritical. To any objective outside observer it looks like you use logic as long as it suits your point, but when it contradicts you, instead of saying “I was wrong,” you accuse the other argument of being “philosophy” with an incorrect definition and understand of what philosophy is, and a blindness that you, yourself, are you using the exact same kind of logical argumentation in ALL your posts. I really wish you could see this very basic point, it would raise the quality of your posts 1000% percent.

        Once you admit that basic error you constantly make, we might be able to have some real meaningful dialogue and discussion about what the Scripture is really telling us. Until you do, you will be stuck in constantly labeling any logic that disagrees with you as “philosophy” and think in your mind that you got out of it somehow.

        bless.

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      22. dizerner writes, “You take “God works out all things according to the counsel of his will,” then insist that can only mean determinism.”

        No, I take “God works out all things according to the counsel of his will,” to mean that “God works out all things according to the counsel of his will,” and then insist that God works out all things according to the counsel of his will. Can you think of an exception to this – something that God does not work out according to the counsel of His will? Are you saying that God did not work everything out before He created the world?

        dizerner writes, “Notice how you use logic, you say “because such and such, we conclude such and such.” Yet if I do the same thing you call it philosophy.”

        The rule is that you start with the Scriptures and derive logical inferences from those Scriptures. I start with the garden of Eden and ask, Could Satan enter the garden if God did not move out of his way so that he could enter? You are still looking for Scriptures upon which you can build your philosophy on autonomy and your ideas of “free” as it relates to the will – if you had found them, you would have been ecstatic and argued from them, but alas, you haven’t found any yet.

        When you start using the Scriptures to develop your beliefs, we will be able to have some real meaningful dialogue and discussion about those Scriptures and what they are really telling us.

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      23. Well, you’re being ridiculous as always. I have over 10,000 verses proving free will any time the Bible describes a choice, an action, a warning, a possibility, even the literal word “free will” or the words “will of man” or the words “you are not willing.” It almost seems like literal insanity to me, that you think all of that doesn’t prove free will, but then you think a verse that says God does what he pleases or workings things out to his will as complete Divine determinism. It’s just a silly game you’re playing, not an honest inquiry into the truth, because you take what you want to believe already, then you say the Scripture proves your point when it doesn’t prove your point.

        What if autonomy IS a part of God’s working all things out according to the counsel of his will? What if God wills autonomy? That’s when you bring in your philosophy to argue that sovereignty has to mean complete Divine determinism, a concept with absolutely no Scripture backing it up.

        So again, you simply claim all Scriptures support your view by using philosophy to interpret them to mean what you already want them to say, then when someone else uses logic to show what the Scripture could or could not mean, you call it philosophy. It’s a crazy game that keeps changing the rules to always in, like a kid does on a playground. You can’t honestly dialogue with someone like that. I gave it a good shot and put a lot of effort in to see if you’d ever notice you’re hypocrisy, but you haven’t—so I simply have to stop dialoguing with you, because you’ve shown yourself to be not an honest person.

        Blessings!

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      24. dizerner writes, “I have over 10,000 verses proving free will any time the Bible describes a choice, an action, a warning, a possibility, even the literal word “free will” or the words “will of man” or the words “you are not willing.”

        Good. It will then be an easy chore for you to choose those that are the most compelling. It will help us determine what you mean by “free” when you speak of the will.

        dizerner writes, “What if autonomy IS a part of God’s working all things out according to the counsel of his will? ”

        That is to be determined through the Scriptures – not your personal wants and desires. So, show the Scriptures that shaped your conclusions.

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      25. Just out of curiosity, can you write me a hypothetical Bible verse that would in your view truly prove autonomous free will to you? I’m actually wondering if you would literally interpret any ordering of any kinds of words always as determinism. Give me a made up and hypothetical verse that would, if it were in the Bible, convince you of free will.

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      26. We have in Hebrews 7, ‘Therefore Christ is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” This is a true statement. Yet, we have in John 6, “No one can come to me unless….” To provide man autonomy from God to make decisions regarding salvation, John 6 has to be erased from the Scriptures.

        But there is also Romans 8, “The mind of sinful man is death…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” 1 Cor 2, “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,…” 1 Corinthians 12:3, “Therefore I tell you that no-one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no-one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”

        There are too many verses that speak against a person being autonomous, that it is impossible to frame a verse, in the form of Hebrews, that would convey a sense of autonomy. Scriptures expresses that people have wills. Nothing in the Scriptures describes any freedom or autonomy of the will in a positive manner – the sense is always that people are not free (except from coercion) and not autonomous.

        That is why you are discovering that you cannot find verses to support your philosophy about autonomy and all those who encouraged you in this respect are useless to you at this point.

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      27. you say:
        There are too many verses that speak against a person being autonomous, that it is impossible to frame a verse that would convey a sense of autonomy.

        If you had been honest, and said this from the beginning, it would have saved us hundreds of pages of discussion.

        Even the clearest most articulate description of man having an independent will in the Bible, would not convince you due to your presuppositions.

        Then after admitting this plainly, you say this is why Scriptures say what you already insist they say no matter what.

        I think any honest person can see this is not being honest with Scripture.

        Bless.

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      28. dizerner writes, “Even the clearest most articulate description of man having an independent will in the Bible, would not convince you due to your presuppositions.”

        You still are unable to cite any verses among the thousands that you say the Bible contains that establish not just that a person has a will but an independent will. What is the problem? You continually argue around the issue and can’t seem to support your philosophy with actual Scriptures. Does this mean that you are having problems finding such Scriptures?

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      29. Hi Roger, God is working out everything according to His plan that reflects His desire (Eph 1:11). Praise His name, that He desires ask to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1Tim 2:4). Praise Him that He has not planned anyone to perish but that all get an opportunity to repent (2Pet 3:9). Praise Him that He is commanding everyone, everywhere, to repent (Acts 17:30), and that He wants this good news proclaimed to every creature (Mk 16:15), for it is good news for every creature, but they must not harden their heart when they hear His voice (Heb 3:7-8).

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      30. Oh, Brian. Must you? How about dealing with the issues raised on these verses.

        “God is working out everything according to His plan that reflects His desire (Eph 1:11). Praise His name, that He desires ask to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1Tim 2:4).”

        1 Timothy 2:4ff – “[God] wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.”

        The Universalist says that “all men” is equivalent to everyone living. God wants all men to be saved; God will save all men.
        The non-Universalist says that “all men” is equivalent to “Jews and Gentiles.” Christ gave Himself a ransom for both Jews and Gentiles; thus. Paul says, “for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle…a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.” Supporting this, Ephesians 3, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation,…This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus, ” and Romans 1, “the gospel…is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

        Which side do you take on this issue?

        “Praise Him that He has not planned anyone to perish but that all get an opportunity to repent (2Pet 3:9).”

        2 Peter 3:9 – ‘God is…not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

        The Universlaist interprets the universal negative to mean that God does not want anyone to perish, so God will save everyone.
        The non-Universalist interprets this to mean that God does not want any of His elect to perish and has delayed judgment to bring all His elect to salvation – so God will not save everyone; just His elect.

        Which side do you take on this issue?

        “Praise Him that He is commanding everyone, everywhere, to repent (Acts 17:30), and that He wants this good news proclaimed to every creature (Mk 16:15), for it is good news for every creature, but they must not harden their heart when they hear His voice (Heb 3:7-8).”

        In addition, Paul tells us, “The mind of sinful man is death…he sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” Sinful man has no faith; he cannot obey God’s commands including the command to repent. As no one can come to Christ except God draw the person, God must act on a person else they cannot be saved.

        The Universalist says that God draws all people and thereby all people must be saved because of Christ’s promise to raise those drawn by God.
        The non-Universalist says that God draws His elect to Christ so only the elect will be saved per Christ’s promise.

        Which side do you take on this issue – no fudging the verses to distort their meaning?

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      31. Hi Roger! Jesus words in Matt 7:21 proves that you have set up a false disjunctive syllogism – either election or universalism. There is at least a third alternative. Those who do not do the will of the Father and end up lost!

        The plan that is according to His will (desire), which God is working all things out in accordance with, includes the freedom for some to reject doing His will. Jesus says the lost are not doing His will. Therefore His plan is more open than you want God to have the freedom to have. And His desire can still be for all who are now alive to be saved, knowing it is possible for some to reject His desire (will) for them! I hope this helps!

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      32. Matthew 7:21 says that all will not be saved – only those who do the will of God will be saved. You have shown that Universalism fails. Thus, you agree that all will not be saved. If all will not be saved, then the verses you cited must be consistent with Matthew 7:21. You did not identify a third alternative – you merely emphasized the one option: all will not be saved.

        Then you start rambling about Jesus’ desires rather than addressing the nuts and bolts of the verses you cited. For example, 2 Peter 3:9 uses the universal negative that is emphatic – “not wanting anyone to perish.” This is a true statement and cannot be undone – it can be combined with other Scriptures to give us a broader understanding of what God is doing but it always maintains it’s truth value. If God does not want anyone (meaning any person who lives) to perish, then none will perish because God always gets what He wants (recognizing that God expresses certain “wants” – His laws – to be dependent on the freely expressed actions of people).

        You have to severely weaken 2 Peter 3:9 to get your conclusion but undoing the universal negative makes that extremely difficult – even impossible – which you seem to recognize as you ignore the problem preferring instead to pretend their is no universal negative and just throw out what you want to believe.

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      33. Roger, are you familiar with the two Greek words in Eph 1:11 that are translated with the English word “will” in the various other NT verses we are discussing? One means God’s intention or plan and the other His desire. His plans are being worked out according to His desire. Would you agree?

        Matt 7:21 says that not all will be saved. I agree. But it gives a necessary inference that God’s will (desire) has not be met by some. Yet Paul uses this word for desire to show that God desires all to be saved. And Peter uses the word for plan to show God has not planned any to perish but that all would get an opportunity to repent.

        So you cannot get around that God’s will in Matt 7:21 is not being fulfilled, and that His plan is in accordance with that will (Eph 1:11). Therefore I hope you will see that 1Tim 2:4 and 2Peter 3:9 fit perfectly with God’s universal mercy for all who are made in His image! And I hope you will be able to see the soundness of this reasoning. It may take some humility though to admit it is sound since you have fought so hard for Calvinism’s misunderstanding of Eph 1:11 as teaching the predetermination of all of God’s and man’s choices before creation. I hope this helps.

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      34. my second point was this: Paul didn’t say believers live in Romans 7. Romans 7 is not an excuse to sin, as you are using it. Paul said “how can you who are dead to sin any longer live in it.”

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      35. Would it be correct to conclude that you don’t mean to promote sinless perfection and you actually recognize that believers still sin – and this is what Paul is helping believers to understand in Romans 7? Otherwise, your comment makes no sense.

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      36. Do you think “How shall we who are dead in sin live any longer in it?” means we can never be free from sin? Nowhere does the Bible teach we can’t help sinning, rather that living under Law produces sin.

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      37. Brian Wagner completely ignored the Sproul comments that I posted. If Brian justs want to ignore facts and hold to his misrepresentation of the calvinistic view that is unfortunate.

        He still thinks that I am mistaken on this:

        “Nope… you still are mistaken Robert! And I know you don’t mind people disagreeing with you at all… ;-)”

        I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, but you are disagreeing with facts and continuing to misrepresent the calvinist view (cf. ““Praise the Lord that He did not pre-determine that only a few would get an irresistible, against their will, salvation experience,”). You continue to misrepresent the calvinist view and so you have become a bit hypocritical. It was you that said to rhutchin: “Please become more fair in the presentation of your opponent’s arguments. You are a smart man.”

        Wagner should abide by his own words here.

        Brian in your response you ***did not cite any calvinists*** to support your claim about what they believe.

        I am going to quote some more calvinist primary sources so that it is absolutely clear that you are misrepresenting their view.

        Let’s start with Sproul from one of the most famous Calvinist books ever written, CHOSEN BY GOD:
        “Natural man does not want Christ. He will only want Christ if God plants a desire for Christ in his heart. Once that desire is planted, those who come to Christ do not come kicking and screaming against their wills. They come because they want to come. They now desire Jesus. They rush to the Savior. The whole point of irresistable grace is that rebirth quickens someone to spiritual life in such a way that Jesus is now seen in his irresistable sweetness. Jesus is irresistable to those who have been made alive to the things of God.” (p. 122-123)

        This is their claim, that regeneration changes a person’s desires so that they find Jesus irresistable/”Jesus is now seen in his irresistable sweentess”. This is not someone being forced to believe against their will as Wagner claims!

        Here is another example, from a recent calvinist book titled PROOF: Finding Freedom through the intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. In chapter 5 they call irresistable grace “Overcoming grace”. P. 89 “God’s remedy is grace that overcomes. Through this overcoming grace, God changes his chosen people one by one so that they abandon their rebellion, long for holiness, and FREELY surrender to Jesus.” (Emphasis mine) p. 91 “Through overcoming grace, God unshackles us from the enslaving contagion of sin so that we GLIMPSE THE OVERWHELMING BEAUTY OF JESUS and his kingdom. Our immediate response to this work of grace is “repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. THIS RESPONSE DOES NOT HAPPEN FORCIBLY, with GOD RUNNING ROUGHSHOD OVER OUR WILLS. Instead, GOD CHANGES OUR DESIRES SO THAT WE LOVE HOLINESS and long to see God’s justice flow all around us. With WILLS HEALED AND HEARTS TRANSFORMED, we run to Jesus, “freely, being made willing by his grace . . . . And, to paraphrase a few lines from Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant [note this is wrong they meant Robert Palmer] – who most likely wasn’t thinking a lot about theology when he wrote these words – – whenever God calls us, though his “methods are inscrutable, the proof is irrefutable,” and Jesus becomes “SIMPLY IRRESISTABLE”.(Emphasis mine). Note the authors of PROOF (Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones) directly contradict what Brian claims they believe that God forces people to believe against their wills.

        Now I want to quote an old friend of mine (at least until he moved to Escondido to be a professor at the Calvinist seminary there), Michael Horton. I had conversations with him before he became well known. Here is Michael discussing irresistable grace in his book FOR CALVINISM (it was a debate with Roger Olson with each writing a book arguing for their views, Michael representing the Calvinist view). In a section titled EFFECTUAL CALLING OR IRRESISTABLE GRACE he discusses his views on regeneration/irresistable grace and its effects.

        P. 105 “traditionally, Reformed theology has referred to this inward work of the Spirit through the gospel as **effectual calling**, not as **irresistable grace**. “Irresistable” SUGGESTS COERCION, the sort of causal impact that is exercised WHEN FORCE is applied to someone or something. As we will see, Calvinism DENIES IN EXPLICIT TERMS THAT GOD COERCES PEOPLE AGAINT THEIR WILL, either toward belief or unbelief.” (Emphasis mine)

        Does everyone see this? Yet again a calvinist is directly contradicting Brian’s claim about what they believe.

        Michael then develops this claim that it is not coercion against people’s wills/being forced to believe against their wills, further by citing major Calvinistic authorities.

        “The Westminster divines add that God is pleased ‘in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit,’ all of the elect ‘out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ.’ He accomplishes this by ‘enlightening their minds . . . taking away their heart of stone . . . renewing their wills . . . and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; YET SO THEY COME FREELY, BEING MADE WILLING BY HIS GRACE’” (HIS EMPHASIS).

        He then cites the Synod of Dordt; “the Synod of Dordt affirmed that God’s inward calling always meets with success. However, just as the fall “did not abolish the nature of the human race’ but “distorted’ it and led to spiritual death, “so also this divine grace of regeneration does not act in people as if they were blocks and stones, nor does it abolish the will and its properties or coerce a reluctant will by force, but spiritually revives, heals, reforms, and – in a manner at once pleasing and powerful – bends it back”

        He then quotes John Owen “The will is liberated, not violated. If it be compelled, says John Owen, “it is destroyed.”

        One other example this one comes from calvinist philosopher Greg Welty who is a professor at a Southern Baptist seminary. Welty addresses Brian’s’ caricature/misrepresentation directly:

        “Second, it’s not clear that the Calvinistic view is a form of coercion anyway. Since Freedom form coercion means having the freedom to do what you want to do, then yes, if you do something even though you did not want to do it, that would be coercion. But at no stage in the Calvinistic pre-conversion/conversion/postconversion story is the SINNER FORCED TO DO ANYTHING HE DOES NOT WANT TO DO. Rather, God (mysteriously no doubt) CHANGESW HIS WANTS. We go from wanting our idols and sins to wanting God and his righteousness. But wants are not actions. SO REGENERATION DOES NOT PRODUCE ANY ACTIONS THAT GO AGAINST OUR WILLS. Instead, regeneration, is a matter of God’s renewing the will so that the whole person delights in God and is inclined to find Him wholly attractive, to prefer Him above all else. And with that renewed will, we choose in accordance with it, and we choose Christ.” P. 241 in A SOUTHERN BAPTIST DIALOGUE- CALVINISM (Emphasis mine).

        Note Welty says explicitly that “regeneration does not produce any actions that go against out wills.”

        These are all calvinist sources (and they can be multiplied), they all deny what Brian claims they believe. So he is misrepresenting their view. Brian may not like what they believe or agree with it (I do not agree with them on this), but he needs to represent them fairly and accurately.

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    2. Robert, thank you for taking the time to post all those source material. From the debates and interactions I’ve had with Calvinists, I can add firsthand that most would object to that terminology. Even though I think it’s the logical conclusion, and they only object to it because of the offensive nature that overriding a will has intuitively to most people, I do agree in the spirit of the fairness we also wanted to be treated with, we should delicately use any phrases about overriding the will or forcing the will. What I usually do is say “your logic leads me inescapably to the conclusion that such and such, even if you don’t agree that it does.” I’m trying harder to not give the other side grounds for misrepresentation and the dreaded (and vastly overused) “strawman” defense. Perhaps the best way to say it is that determinism goes against their “autonomy” as Calvinists seem to have highjacked the word “will” to mean something other than autonomy (this is why I try to avoid the word will.) If someone sprinkles magic love dust potion on a girl, there’s not a person in the world that wouldn’t admit she didn’t truly love back of her own free choice and volition. Bless.

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      1. Dizerner,

        Dizerner,

        “Robert, thank you for taking the time to post all those source material. From the debates and interactions I’ve had with Calvinists, I can add firsthand that most would object to that terminology.”

        The best way to see what they believe is to go to reputable sources that are calvinists. The reputable sources that I provided clearly argue that people are not forced to believe against their wills when they become believers. Now we may not agree with this, or understand this, or it may appear to us that they are being forced to believe against their wills.

        But that is **our perception**, not **their position**.

        I think that many non-Calvinists forget that in consistent Calvinism (i.e. theological determinism) if everything is ordained as they claim, then God continuously, directly and completely **controls** every human will (remember these are the same folks who like to proof text from Proverbs about how God controls the heart of the King and directs their every choice).

        God could only be causing us to act against our will, if we really had a genuine will, if we really were in some sense independent of God, if we really had libertarian free will. But in consistent calvinism libertarian free will is denied by God’s ordaining all events and where all is ordained there is no such independence. If God ordains our every thought, desire, action, all of it, then there is **no independence of the will whatsoever**. If there is no independence of the will whatsoever, then how can anyone be actually going against God’s will? They can’t, they are playing the role in the play that God preassigned for them to play.

        Genuinely going against God’s will is a non-Calvinist concept. It is similar to speaking of how God allows or permits things to occur (this also presupposes the non-Calvinist understanding of free will, and yet calvinists will speak of God permitting or allowing things to occur/how is he allowing or permitting events if He actively ordains all events and actively controls all things?). Some concepts only make sense in a non-Calvinist world. Calvinists while they are mistaken on some things, live in the same real world that the non-Calvinist lives in, so they unavoidably will borrow from our concepts when explaining things.

        Non-Calvinists also sometimes forget how determinists view regeneration. In their thinking regeneration changes everything. So a non-regenerated person has certain desires, and when that person is regenerated their desires completely change. In the sources I provided, multiple calvinists spoke of how regeneration changes a person’s desires, how it makes Jesus attractive to them, so they desire Jesus. If you push as to how exactly this happens, they appeal to mystery (we have no idea how it works) and they appeal to the supernatural nature of regeneration (it is a miracle so it can produce miraculous effects such as completely changed desires in the heart of a person).

        “I do agree in the spirit of the fairness we also wanted to be treated with, we should delicately use any phrases about overriding the will or forcing the will.”

        The best way to fair while at the same time demonstrating their view is mistaken is to first be actually operating on their view, not what you think their view is.

        So I will say that this whole regeneration story that they are telling makes sense if it is true, but where in the Bible does it present any of these claims? Where does it say that regeneration completely changes a persons’ desires? Where does it say that regeneration makes the sinner now “sweetly desire Jesus”? None of it is there in the Bible. It is an extrabiblical narrative invented and perpetuated by calvinists. They interpret the Bible by this narrative they have invented.

        This is why Biblicists, those who limit their views to what the Bible presents don’t see any of this in connection with regeneration. It is like the story of the emperor with no clothes. All the calvinists are gawking at how beautiful regeneration is and how it changes people’s desires and makes Jesus sweet to the sinner: but the Biblicist kid sees the emperor with no clothes, the view has no support from scripture.

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      2. Robert writes, “…God continuously, directly and completely **controls** every human will…”

        Calvinists nuance it to say that God is “in control” of every human will and exercises complete control through direct (causative) and indirect (natural) means. So, the heart of man is wicked and from that heart he wills to do evil. God does not need to cause this as it occurs naturally. God can allow evil men to run loose or constrain the sin that they do. thus, Joseph’s brothers could not kill Joseph but could sell him into slavery. Balaam was constrained only to bless Israel as much as he wanted to do otherwise and receive his wages. God is said to move David to number Israel but we are told that Satan was His agent to accomplish this. Proverbs says that God controls the heart and thereby controls the will but God will often let the heart run to evil as when David sought Bathsheba.

        Robert writes, “…In their thinking regeneration changes everything….”

        Regeneration is the catalyst for everything to change. Regeneration basically changes the heart – so that the person is said to be made alive, or to have a new birth. That then allows faith to come in and faith leads to the person believing God and initiates the renewing of the mind. In regeneration, the person starts a clean slate, so to speak, and through faith, begins to fill the mind with the Scriptures. The act of regeneration does not actually change the person’s desires. It neutralizes the desires of the flesh allowing new desires to form by faith through the hearing of the gospel.

        Of course, the argument for regeneration is derived from Total depravity plus verses such as Ephesians 2 which speak of God quickening His elect and Ezekiel which speaks of God giving His elect a new heart. To say that there is no argument from the Scriptures for regeneration is to plead ignorance of the Scriptures, at least, those Scriptures cited by Calvinists in support of this doctrine.

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      3. Well, I can agree we can have desires we don’t necessarily *will* to have, but at the same time, on the other hand, autonomy means we can *will* against desires we may feel. What is temptation, after all? Obviously it’s not God giving us new desires, but that Satan can also tempt us with desires, but only if we do not *resist* does desire *conceive*. So I’d agree regeneration gives us new desires, if anyone is in Christ, he is, after all, a new creation.

        you say:
        so they unavoidably will borrow from our concepts when explaining things.

        I’ve noticed this happens a surprising amount, if you pay close attention!

        Consider this ironic and funny gaffe from a determinist:

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      4. you say:
        so they unavoidably will borrow from our concepts when explaining things.

        I’ve noticed this happens a surprising amount, if you pay close attention!

        Consider this ironic and funny gaffe from a determinist:

        “After you hear Romans 9, you have a choice to make.”

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      5. No. White makes a point. Romans 9 is clear in saying, “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” This stands alone a a truth about God. The choice to those who hear White, or read it for themselves, is to choose whether to believe this truth or reject this truth.

        Why did you think this a gaffe?

        I listened to this debate; I though Bryson was a buffoon; he just could not engage White in discussion of key points.

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      6. Well I think you’re a buffoon if you thought Bryson was a buffoon. Not only did Bryson make intelligent points that White kept redirecting from, White postures, condescends and red herrings way too much to try to “look right” to the audience (though I still love him as a brother).

        You fail in your effort to defend White’s claim we have a “choice” about Romans 9. Under the Calvinist’s interpretation of Romans 9, man has no choice at all. It is very surprising you don’t see that. In fact, if you keep watching the debate, White himself switches up what he is saying and ends with “What will Jesus do with you?” So to any thinking and rational mind, it’s obviously a pretty huge gaffe.

        Bless!

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      7. The issue here is not how people understand Romans 9. The issue if that which Romans 9 clearly says – “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

        Do you have a problem with this statement in Romans 9?

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      8. you say:
        Do you have a problem with this statement in Romans 9?

        Does the statement, “God has mercy on those who humble themselves” logically contradict with the statement “God has mercy on home he wants to have mercy”?

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Let’s work with that. Can we identify those who humble themselves? I think we can agree that each and every individual does not humble himself – so we are dealing with a limited number of people and not all people.

        We need Scripture to tell us that the unsaved humble themselves and then God has mercy on them. There are verses where the prophets implore/command the people to humble themselves and turn away from their sin which was always rejected (except by God’s remnant).

        So, what have you found concerning people who humble themselves and thereby receive God’s mercy.

        As a second issue, as Paul phrases this, God can have mercy on those who do not humble themselves. So, God can have mercy on those who humble themselves and then God can choose some for mercy who refuse to humble themselves. Do you agree on that?

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      10. Scripture does say the Lord knows how to humble those who walk in pride. But it also tells us the Rock is something that we either fall on, breaking us, or that falls on us, crushing us. Scripture *doesn’t* say that God makes the decision for us about whether to humble ourselves or not, or that there is absolutely no difference our autonomy can make. The Scripture tells us that, although God can confirm us in our own decision, we are fundamentally responsible due to our autonomous choice to walk in pride or humility; our autonomous choice that is our true image of God and is created ex-nihilio. Otherwise God is just playing a game with a bunch of puppets, rather than beings sacredly created in his own image. How can the very *image* of God, that Christ said we bear, mean that we are controlled by God? God himself is controlled by no one, and to be in God’s image means we are not puppets because God is not a puppet. Even if Calvinists hate the language of puppetry, I don’t see how, logically, you can conclude any differently from the deductions resulting from determinism.

        Bless.

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      11. I think most of what you say reflects your personal philosophy. If you have a short direct Scriptural argument for people to humble themselves absent any involvement from God, that would help. Nonetheless, Romans says that God will have mercy on whom He wills regardless whether such people humble themselves – so the issue of God having mercy on someone who humbles himself does not limit the scope of the verse.

        As to puppetry, Calvinist determinism does not require that God “cause” that which He determines. Under the puppetry analogy, God is pulling the strings thereby causing that which He determines – that analogy has nothing to do with Calvinist determinism.

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      12. you say:
        Nonetheless, Romans says that God will have mercy on whom He wills regardless whether such people humble themselves –

        STOP there. You are adding your man-made philosophy to the text of Scripture. There is no “regardless whether such people humble themselves,” are you writing your own Bible now? Show me that in Romans 9, and I will become a Calvinist this instant. Anyone can prove their point if they simply “add” what they want at the end of the verse.

        Do you believe God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, both said humans are made in the image of God? Do you think God is autonomous? Answer those two, and you’ve become as Scriptural as a person can be. You’ve become a real Bible love, a biblicist.

        you say:
        Calvinist determinism does not require that God “cause” that which He determines.

        I don’t understand this statement. Do you feel most Calvinists would agree with it? To me it sounds like an Arminian statement of simple foreknowledge.

        blessings

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      13. God did not cause Adam and Eve to sin but He opened the door so that Satan could go in and tempt them to sin. That God knew the outcome is evidenced by His having had Christ slain from the foundation of the world. God works all things after the council of His will and restrains Joseph’s brothers from killing him but gives them the freedom to sell Joseph into slavery.

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      14. well i agree with all this, i agree God is in control of our salvation, all we have to do is have faith and that’s it, i don’t think Christ is masochistic and planned his own suffering just for the heck of it, I find that idea preposterous, he did it to redeem the sin of creation

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      15. dizerner writes, “i agree God is in control of our salvation, all we have to do is have faith and that’s it, i don’t think Christ is masochistic and planned his own suffering just for the heck of it, I find that idea preposterous, he did it to redeem the sin of creation’

        Of course, no one is born with faith – God gives faith to those He chooses and such faith then manifests its presence as belief. Christ planned His suffering with the goal of saving God’s elect and He had no intention to fail.

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      16. Calvinist logic:

        We have a choice to believe we have no choice.

        I think God himself would be confused by that logic.

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      17. You do believe whether a person accepts determinism is determined by God alone. So your definition, then, of a choice made by man is “that which has been determined by God.” Do you agree or disagree with this?

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      18. People believe, in part, based on the information they have. People who believe God do so because they have faith. As Jesus explained, “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’” So, God teaches His elect and gives them faith to believe that which He teaches them. So I think you are correct.

        So, do you also believe what you have said?

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  14. Since dizerner did not like my characterization of Bryson as a buffoon, I listened to the Bryson – White debate again. I found the examination by White on John 6:44 as compelling as the first time I heard it. Bryson was incoherent and unable to grasp either that which John 6:44 tells us nor was he able to respond to the question asked by White. Maybe you can provide a coherent response to White’s question where Bryson could not. If not a buffoon, Bryson certainly gave a pitiful response on John 6:44 and generally to all issues throughout the debate – basically ignoring any Biblical issues. White argued for the Scriptures – Bryson argued against Calvinism (and demonstrated that he does not really understand Calvinism despite his claims otherwise).

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    1. Good Morning Roger –

      John 6:44 – No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

      1. Logically the promise to be raised it only necessarily connected with the undistributed premise – “No one can come”, or all who come.
      2. Logically the distributed premise/condition of being drawn is connected with coming, but NOT necessarily connected with the promise of being raised. In other words, since it is an distribute premise, there may be those who are drawn that do not come, but all who do come have been drawn. For example, No one can come unless they hear the call of the gospel, and he will be raised up. Even the Calvinist agrees that many will be called that will not come.
      3. There would have to be an undistributed premise like – All who are drawn will come – to then connect it necessarily to the promise of being raised up.

      I hope this helps take away the theological inference that Calvinists have tried to place on this verse dogmatically, even though logically and according to the tenor of Scripture, it will not bear the weight.

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      1. Brian,

        Your argument for a universal “drawing” makes sense only if it is a universal drawing of the ELECT.

        “All that the Father gives me will come to me”… verse 37

        “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day…” verse 39

        “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”… verse 44

        Verse 44 clearly says that unless the Father draws a person, then that person cannot come to Jesus. AND, Jesus raises up those who come to Him due to the drawing by the Father.

        Perhaps you should re-examine the logic of your position. Please read “A Logical Analysis – John 6:44” by Brian Bosse. This is available online as a PDF… It is easily found by searching.

        Have a good day.

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      2. Hi David, (and Roger, Robert and Dizerner). I read Bosse’s paper, and as I thought, he did not deal with the very important observation of which premises are distributed and which ones are undistributed in John 6:44. I must apologize, for I used in the previous post those terms backwards, something I do often. It’s also like I can never remember when to use Yin or Yang. 🙂

        Anyway, the distributed term is always universal (using all or none in the premise) and the undistributed term does not use a universal qualifier, so therefore “some” should be used. I actually like the terms words Universal or Particular to describe premises in a logical syllogism. Maybe that comes from my theological background. 🙂

        Anyway, Bosse tries to make both premises universal, that is all the drawn that will ever exist, and all that end up being enabled to come, and therefore do come to salvation. Logically Jesus only uses a universal qualifier with the premise – are able to come. Since no universal qualifier is used with the premise – drawn by the Father, only “some” can be dogmatically assumed as the appropriate modifier for that premise. Even the last premise – “will be raised up” has no universal modifier, so only “some” can be dogmatically assumed.

        Because of this oversight by Bosse, not recognizing which premises are distributed and which are not, he also misuses a law of logic that he leans upon to prove his conclusion. That rule he identifies as “the law of contraposition”, of which he said, “simply states that p→q is logically equivalent to ¬q →¬p.” He said, “This is intuitively obvious as the following will illustrate: ‘If you believe (p) then you will be saved (q)’ is logically equivalent to ‘if you are not saved (¬q), then you did not believe (¬p)’” (p. 9, fn 19). Unfortunately, the real law of contraposition states “All A is B is the same as All not B is not A.”

        Bosse left out the fact that universal qualifiers are necessary in the protasis for this law to be true. In his example, he is assuming that salvation only happens to those who believe, which would have to be true for the negation of it to be always true. What about infants who die without believing? That is why the universal qualifier must be in the protasis in both statements and no universal modifier must be in the apodosis in both statements if the contraposition law is used.

        So, my logical assessment of John 6:44 stands. Jesus is only saying that no one is able to come (coming = saved), unless someone is drawn by the Father, and if that someone is drawn and then able to come, he will be resurrected. The universal premise is “being able to come” and is tied to a non-universal premise, some who are drawn, and these two premises together are tied to a non-universal premise, some that will be raised up.

        Now I will concede, that logically, “some” does not discount the possibility of the meaning of “all” in any premise that is without a universal qualifier, but the meaning of “all” cannot be placed in it dogmatically. John 12:32 has a universal qualifier placed in the premise, to be drawn by the Son. How the Son’s drawing of everyone is related to the Father’s drawing of some is not necessary to discuss here. Both are true. All are drawn by the Son. One has to be drawn by the Father to be able to come, but that does not mean He too does not draw all, or if there might be other requirements to be able to come.

        But if one is able to come, which has to include at least being first drawn by the Father, he will be raised up. Jesus probably was using ellipsis in John 6:44, meaning He assumed that the listeners would understand he was not just saying that resurrection was for someone who has been drawn and who has just become able to come, but who actually did come. And, one must remember that He is addressing a crowd whom He identified as generally wanting food, and He was dramatically trying to separate out from the crowd those who would want to come to Him and believe in Him because He had the words of everlasting life. I hope this helps.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “The universal premise is “being able to come” and is tied to a non-universal premise, some who are drawn, and these two premises together are tied to a non-universal premise, some that will be raised up.”

        Is that true? This is a point that James White argued in his debate with George Bryson (I just watched it for dizerner). White argues on the basis of the pronoun “him” that “unless the Father who sent me draws HIM,…” is non-Universal but that “I will raise HIM up at the last day,” is universal in that Christ will raise up each and every HIM that God draws to Christ.

        You want to conclude, “One has to be drawn by the Father to be able to come, but that does not mean…there might be other requirements to be able to come.” Are there other requirements implied in the verse? No. Jesus is emphatic (I think). God draws HIM – Christ raises HIM (If God draws Brian – Christ raises Brian). The only requirement stated in the verse for Christ to raise Brian is that God draw Brian and the raising of Brian is certain when the condition that God draw Brian is met.

        As an aside, as Robert explained, “no one,” is universal in scope. That is why you use “some” later in your argument. This supports the Calvinist conclusion of Total Inability – no one has a natural or inherent ability to come to Christ – a person MUST be drawn by the Father in order to come to Christ. The big question, then, is whether God only draws some (His elect) or draws all people so all are His elect.

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      4. I am glad Roger you affirmed that White agrees that the premise, unless the Father draws in non-universal, which does mean others indeed could be drawn who do not end up being able to come. And you are correct that the last phrase turns on the meaning of the word “him” and should be seen as universal, (everyone of the “hims” that meet a certain criteria). Thanks for the correction. By itself it is a non-universal premise, but in the context, because of the universal premise – able to come – it takes on a universal idea. Thanks again.

        You would also agree, I think, that there is an ellipsis between the first two premises and the last one. The first two are negative. The last is a positive, which makes assumptions from the first two. One of those assumptions is that nothing else is required besides being drawn and being able to come. And you would agree, I think, that actual coming is necessary before Jesus will raise “him” up, not just being able to come. And I think you will agree that seeing and believing are mentioned as prerequisites to being raised (vs. 40) and that some in that crowd actually saw but did not believe (vs. 36).

        The main point still remains, that Calvinists have to make 6:44 say too much to become actual proof for their election doctrine. It is not that they can’t theologically infer that it fits, but there are other inferences that the logical structure of that verse allows, that fit the context and do not require the twisting of the clear normal meaning of 12:32. I hope this helps.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “I am glad Roger you affirmed that White agrees that the premise, unless the Father draws in non-universal, which does mean others indeed could be drawn who do not end up being able to come.”

        The verse says, “…unless the Father who sent me draws him…” The Father is performing the action. It is non-universal in that the Father does not have to draw everyone. The Father decides whom to draw. Then Christ refers to the one “drawn,” the “him,” and says, “I will raise him up.” In order to come, the Father must draw, and that person the Father draws, Jesus raises. Your conclusion – that the person drawn does not have to come – is a corruption of the verse (but creative thinking on your part).

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      6. briabwagner writes, “You would also agree, I think, that there is an ellipsis between the first two premises and the last one. The first two are negative. The last is a positive, which makes assumptions from the first two.”

        The second premise “unless the Father who sent me draws him,” has the effect of overriding the universal negative of the first premise. It then takes precedence so that the third premise “I will raise him up,” ignores the first premise and only refers to the second premise and the drawing. Jesus raises “him” whom the Father draws. That the person cannot come on his own becomes irrelevant because only those drawn are now in view.

        Then, “that Calvinists have to make 6:44 say too much to become actual proof for their election doctrine.”

        To say that God is the one who “draws” a person to Christ is no different than to say that God “elects” or chooses whom to draw. Of course, the first premise, “No-one can come to me,” affirms Total Depravity. Now, it is incumbent that God choose whom to draw whether all or some number less than all with the assurance that whomever He draws, Jesus will raise up. The verse provides a lot of information that we should use – just like the Calvinists.

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      7. Thank you David for the recommended article. It will be interesting to see how Bosse deals with the distributed term – unless the Father draw him, in regards to the promise, also a distributed term, to be raised up. My logic is sound. The one raised up in this verse is drawn and comes, but the verse still does not prove all who are drawn come, even though all who come get raised up. Nor does it prove that only those who come get raised up. I will comment on Bosse after I get a chance to read his article, which will not be till later today or tomorrow. Thanks again.

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      8. Brian makes some good and valid points on the John 6 passage:

        “1. Logically the promise to be raised it only necessarily connected with the undistributed premise – “No one can come”, or all who come.”

        It is nice to see an appeal to logic in regards to these verses. Many just read into the passage whatever their theology demands ought to be there. This is very different from logically analyzing the text.

        “2. Logically the distributed premise/condition of being drawn is connected with coming, but NOT necessarily connected with the promise of being raised. In other words, since it is an distribute premise, there may be those who are drawn that do not come, but all who do come have been drawn. For example, No one can come unless they hear the call of the gospel, and he will be raised up. Even the Calvinist agrees that many will be called that will not come.”

        The text presents that all who come (after having been drawn, because the text says you cannot come unless you are drawn) to Jesus (which in this context means have a faith response) will be raised.
        But the text does not say ALL WHO ARE DRAWN WILL COME. That premise is assumed by calvinists and read into the passage (the text does not present this premise).

        Brian is correct when he says “In other words, since it is an distribute premise, there may be those who are drawn that do not come, but all who do come have been drawn.”

        Most non-Calvinists believe that all will be drawn at some point in their lives (because God says he desires the salvation of all), but that not all who are drawn will come to faith in Christ (cf. later in the gospel of John, specifically in John 12:32 John says precisely this, that all will be drawn, but we know from other passages that not all will become believers, so we conclude that all are drawn but only some come to faith in Christ).

        The calvinist assumes that all who are drawn will come and that only the elect will be drawn (primarily because Jesus is focusing on believers who will come to him and He raised up, it should be noted however that Jesus does not say that only those who come to him will be raised up, nonbelievers will also be raised up to face judgement, so all will be raised, whether believer or unbeliever. But the text does not say only the elect are drawn OR that all who are drawn come. Both of these are common calvinistic premises not present in the text of John 6 or presented by John 6.

        “3. There would have to be an undistributed premise like – All who are drawn will come – to then connect it necessarily to the promise of being raised up.”

        Right, what the Calvinist needs from the text of John 6 is the premise that “All who are drawn will come”: but the text never says this
        .
        So calvinists regularly read in this premise.

        The best interpretation from a non-Calvinist perspective on John 6 that I am aware of is this one by Robert Hamilton available here:

        http://evangelicalarminians.org/robert-hamilton-the-order-of-faith-and-election-in-johns-gospel-you-do-not-believe-because-you-are-not-my-sheep/

        This passage takes some time to explain, and Hamilton explains it very well.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Brian makes some good and valid points on the John 6 passage:

        “1. Logically the promise to be raised it only necessarily connected with the undistributed premise – “No one can come”, or all who come.”

        It is nice to see an appeal to logic in regards to these verses. Many just read into the passage whatever their theology demands ought to be there. This is very different from logically analyzing the text.

        “2. Logically the distributed premise/condition of being drawn is connected with coming, but NOT necessarily connected with the promise of being raised. In other words, since it is an distribute premise, there may be those who are drawn that do not come, but all who do come have been drawn. For example, No one can come unless they hear the call of the gospel, and he will be raised up. Even the Calvinist agrees that many will be called that will not come.”

        The text presents that all who come (after having been drawn, because the text says you cannot come unless you are drawn) to Jesus (which in this context means have a faith response) will be raised.
        But the text does not say ALL WHO ARE DRAWN WILL COME. That premise is assumed by calvinists and read into the passage (the text does not present this premise).

        Brian is correct when he says “In other words, since it is an distribute premise, there may be those who are drawn that do not come, but all who do come have been drawn.”

        Most non-Calvinists believe that all will be drawn at some point in their lives (because God says he desires the salvation of all), but that not all who are drawn will come to faith in Christ (cf. later in the gospel of John, specifically in John 12:32 John says precisely this, that all will be drawn, but we know from other passages that not all will become believers, so we conclude that all are drawn but only some come to faith in Christ).

        The calvinist assumes that all who are drawn will come and that only the elect will be drawn (primarily because Jesus is focusing on believers who will come to him and He raised up, it should be noted however that Jesus does not say that only those who come to him will be raised up, nonbelievers will also be raised up to face judgement, so all will be raised, whether believer or unbeliever. But the text does not say only the elect are drawn OR that all who are drawn come. Both of these are common calvinistic premises not present in the text of John 6 or presented by John 6.

        “3. There would have to be an undistributed premise like – All who are drawn will come – to then connect it necessarily to the promise of being raised up.”

        Right, what the Calvinist needs from the text of John 6 is the premise that “All who are drawn will come”: but the text never says this.

        So calvinists regularly read in this premise.

        The best interpretation from a non-Calvinist perspective on John 6 that I am aware of is this one by Robert Hamilton available here:

        http://evangelicalarminians.org/robert-hamilton-the-order-of-faith-and-election-in-johns-gospel-you-do-not-believe-because-you-are-not-my-sheep/

        This passage takes some time to explain, and Hamilton explains it very well.

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      10. brianwagner writes, “John 6:44 – No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

        1. Logically the promise to be raised it only necessarily connected with the undistributed premise – “No one can come”, or all who come.”

        The promise is “I will raise him up at the last day.” In applying logic, we ask, “Who is “him””? The “him” is identified in the preceding phrase, “unless the Father who sent me draws him.” The “him” is thereby identified as a person drawn to Christ by God. Applying logic, we then ask, “Why is God drawing ‘him’?” The answer is the declaration by Christ, “No-one (no him) can come to me.”

        When you say, “only necessarily connected,” I have no idea what you mean. Necessarily is a strong term (only seems to be redundant) to say that they can be no other outcome. So, you seem to be saying that the promise must be connected only to the first premise and can have nothing to do with the middle statement, “unless the Father who sent me draws him,” and that seems in error to me.

        Then, “2. Logically the distributed premise/condition of being drawn is connected with coming, but NOT necessarily connected with the promise of being raised. In other words, since it is an distribute premise, there may be those who are drawn that do not come, but all who do come have been drawn. For example, No one can come unless they hear the call of the gospel, and he will be raised up. Even the Calvinist agrees that many will be called that will not come.”

        This is not possible because of the use of “him.” When Jesus says, “no one,” we understand Jesus to mean that there is not a single individual who comes to Him. When Jesus switches to “him,” He focuses attention on one single particular individual and we understand Jesus to mean that God must draw any single individual in order for that person to come to Christ. Christ has shut the door on your interpretation as He purposely does not use all encompassing terms – e.g., “People will not come to me unless God draws them.” Christ is pointing to the individual – Those to whom Christ is speaking would have understood Jesus to mean, “You cannot come to me unless God draws you – that is why you do not believe in me.”

        Then, “3. There would have to be an undistributed premise like – All who are drawn will come – to then connect it necessarily to the promise of being raised up.”

        If Christ had said, “All who are drawn will come,” He could then say, “I will raise them up,” and we would understand that all would be saved. Jesus could not say “all” and then “him” as even Jesus knew the rules of grammar. As it is, Christ says, “him,” – unless the Father who sent Me draws him – and then says “him” again – “I will raise him up.” Nothing could be clearer about what happens to “him.”

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    2. I apologize for the insult it angered me that you threw it out so easily. Calvinists will quote John 6:44 until they are blue in the face, but why don’t they preach entire sermons on John 5:40 or verses like that? They simply take a verse that sounds, on the surface, deterministic, then ignore the contextual passages leading up to and following it. Bryson doesn’t give as focused a job on some points as I wish Arminians did in debate, as they tend to take a scattershot approach not understanding the jugular ideas that lie behind Calvinism. Also check out White’s radio debate with Bryson. At one point this interesting exchange takes place:

      George Bryson: Yea, the question is, why did they not belong to God? And it was because they were not willing to believe.
      James White: That’s not what Jesus says, could you show that to me?

      It’s so sad to me that Bryson, instead of giving White an easy and clear answer in John 5:40, “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life,” gave white more fodder for his low view of Arminians with the line “read my book.” Please check out my refutation of John 6:44 in this thread: http://www.theos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=4999&p=66659#p66659 . I’ve had a Calvinist tell me that I “spent to much work explaining” it, which I find ironic since Calvinists write whole books on one simple topic, then want to assume pasting a verse proves a point. Verses take careful thought, study and contextual comparison, as Christ said we should study his Word.

      Bless.

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      1. Your article serves as a prelude to actually understanding v44. You conclude, “Who comes to Christ? Those who are willing to come and seeking the glory of God in his Word.” Let’s work with that.

        v44 begins, “No-one can come to me unless…” to which you explain that we should read this as, “No-one can come to me unless they are willing to come and are seeking the glory of God in His word.”

        V44 says, ““No-one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,..” Therefore we should equate God’s drawing of a person to God’s making them willing to come and to be seeking the glory of God in His word – God does the drawing, therefore it is God who makes the person willing.

        Is that your understanding of your conclusion?

        White’s point is that those whom God draws do not include every person in the world (as God does not make all willing/seeking) as Bryson maintained – You and White seem to be on the same page here. Christ makes a promise to the people God makes willing – I will raise him up at the last day. Thus, they are saved. So, God draws a limited number of people to Christ – they are those God makes willing to come – and Christ promises to ensure their salvation.

        I see you in agreement with White and arguing against Bryson on this verse.

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      2. you say:
        White’s point is that those whom God draws do not include every person in the world (as God does not make all willing/seeking) as Bryson maintained – You and White seem to be on the same page here.

        Well, you are right that I don’t entirely agree with Bryson or many Arminians when they claim that all are literally drawn. I actually have a pretty heavy doctrine of election and predestination, as I see the Bible teaching. However my views are a bit nuanced and sophisticated; I don’t believe election necessarily leads to the conclusion of determinism or loss of autonomy. One obvious and necessary condition is that Christ be lifted up. I take this as a dual meaning: that we are to lift up Christ’s sacrifice, in which he was literally lifted up on a cross. That means, that even though not every human who existed in the world may have experienced the drawing of Christ, everyone who hears the Gospel message preached by someone with the Holy Spirit to accompany it, is Biblically, by definition, elect, and will experience the drawing of Christ. That means that I don’t have to look out at a group of people and say “Here’s the good news of salvation to all kinds of men! Some of you are decreed to be damned by God and there’s no autonomous response you can do to change it, you literally have no real choice… BUT~! some of you also are decreed by God to accept Christ and be saved!” The whole point that Calvinists try to hold on to some kind of “free will,” shows how powerfully it’s depicted in Scripture. The whole point that Calvinists try to distance themselves from “double election” or God authoring evil, shows that idea is deeply against both our intuition about what a Supreme Being would be if they were holy, and the many passages of Scripture that distance God from the actions of his creation. My version of the Gospel is, “All of you who hear this message are being drawn by Christ, but many of you will decide not to come; you will love other things more than Christ; you will love the world, you will love the approval of men, you will love pride, lust, materialism: but you are the one who decides, not God. To hear this message is for you to be called to the banquet God has prepared, for even though no man can live holy without grace, the Gospel is an offer of grace to live holy.” I explained before through the parable of the wedding feast, how I believe Biblical election has worked: at first God worked through select men and women until such a time as Christ came and God divorced Israel, and from the point of the Cross the message goes out, and by definition, all who hear the message are called to be elect (because you cannot believe in someone you don’t hear about, and apparently the Spirit is transfered this way).

        you say:
        God does the drawing, therefore it is God who makes the person willing. Is that your understanding of your conclusion?

        No, that’s not what I see the tenor of Christ’s reasoning is. Christ was saying they do not have God’s Word *abiding* in them, even though they search the Scripture. He then attributed that fact to the reason that they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God—in other words, their wrong fleshly motivations. I don’t think Christ at any point meant to say that they were decreed by God to sin, and thus had no hope of repentance. I think Christ put the blame solely and squarely upon their wrong autonomous choice, and that, in the face of the election and grace of God. This is perfectly illustrated by Isaiah 5, which conclusively demonstrates that God’s “election” does not mean irresistible grace or perseverance of the saints, because God preserves the free autonomy of his elect to be able to rebel. This is why God can truthfully and honestly say to Israel “What more could I have done, that I did not do for you?” That would be a deceitful lie if determinism were true, and God alone was responsible for all the choices of men.

        Bless.

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      3. dizerner writes, “The whole point that Calvinists try to hold on to some kind of “free will,” shows how powerfully it’s depicted in Scripture.”

        Calvinists believe that believers make a decision to accept salvation. This requires that they be freed form slavery to sin, have Libertarian Free Will restored and be given faith, all of which can be conveyed by the gospel. The decision to believe is a Libertarian Free Will decision.

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      4. Maybe we aren’t so different then, because that’s how I’d describe my beliefs too. But I don’t think God takes away people’s ability to say “no” so how is their any “freeness” if there is no “freedom” at all to say no. I can’t get my mind around that.

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      5. How do you understand Romans 8, “…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so”? especially the part, “nor can it do so,” as it relates to the freedom of the unsaved?

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      6. Yes, we are in bondage to sin and in our flesh is no good thing. Also Christ said that which is born of flesh is flesh, so unlike Leighton Flowers in this blog, I believe all humans are born incapable of responding righteously to God *on their own*. But that’s where grace comes in! Even you believe grace restores our LFW, but I guess you believe it only restores it after regeneration. I believe grace can restore our LFW before regeneration, and that’s called prevenient grace (and NO it doesn’t mean we are saved to get our LFW back).

        bless

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      7. dizerner writes, “Even you believe grace restores our LFW, but I guess you believe it only restores it after regeneration. I believe grace can restore our LFW before regeneration, and that’s called prevenient grace (and NO it doesn’t mean we are saved to get our LFW back).”

        Then the issue is to define regeneration. Calvinist define regeneration to include among other things the removal of the heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh and the restoration of LFW. Following that regeneration the preaching of the gospel is able to convey faith to a person whereupon the person can, and does, believe.

        So, you have grace restoring LFW followed by regeneration – heart surgery. As far as we know, it’s all one operation. Isn’t it?

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  15. David,

    Earlier you presented texts that supposedly show that regeneration precedes faith. I responded to your post and asked you directly to show us from any of these texts that the texts actually present regeneration preceding faith. You never responded.

    Now you comment on John 6 and your post has some of the same problems which I will point out shortly.

    You wrote:

    “Your argument for a universal “drawing” makes sense only if it is a universal drawing of the ELECT.”

    No, your comment here is begging the question, you merely assume (without demonstrating or proving in any reasonable way, that ONLY THE ELECT ARE DRAWN). You assume this premise that only the elect are drawn based upon your calvinistic theology. But just as there is no biblical text presenting regeneration preceding faith, likewise, there is no biblical text presenting that only the elect are drawn. In John 12:32, the same author of John 6, the apostle John presents that all are drawn (and we know from other biblical texts that not all are saved so universalism is false, there is a universal drawing and yet not all end up as believers, thus the non-Calvinist concludes that all are drawn but not all come to faith in Christ). THAT is explicitly stated by the text. That is not a premise the non-Calvinist invents and reads into the text, it is instead presented by the text.

    You claim that it only makes sense if it is a universal drawin of the elect, OK, then demonstrate your claim to be true, rather than just declaring it.

    [[“All that the Father gives me will come to me”… verse 37
    “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day…” verse 39
    “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”… verse 44]]

    Regarding who these folks are that Jesus gives to the Father, check out Hamilton’s article (I cited it in another post where I talked about Brian’s points on John 6).

    None of these verses state that ONLY THE ELECT ARE DRAWN or that ALL WHO ARE DRAWN COME.

    “Verse 44 clearly says that unless the Father draws a person, then that person cannot come to Jesus.”

    True, no one can come to faith in Jesus unless drawn. The text does not say however (nor does any text in John 6) that only the elect are drawn or that all who are drawn come to faith in Christ.

    “AND, Jesus raises up those who come to Him due to the drawing by the Father.”

    In the context of John 6 those who come to Jesus are those with faith (i.e. believers). Jesus says he will raise them up. But Jesus raising them up is not due to the drawing by the Father. What Jesus is emphasizing is the mutual involvement of the members of the trinity in the salvation of people who have faith (hence he speaks both of what the Father does and what he does, this goes well with a major theme in the gospel of John, the divinity of Christ, that he is God in the flesh not merely a religious teacher or authority).

    “Perhaps you should re-examine the logic of your position. Please read “A Logical Analysis – John 6:44” by Brian Bosse. This is available online as a PDF… It is easily found by searching.”

    “Been there done that”! 🙂

    I have already seen and read Bosse’s article, before you brought it up. And it does not prove the calvinistic case at all, not even close.

    Perhaps in a separate post I may show some of the problems in Bosse’s article.

    David you need to show us your conclusions from the text rather than merely making Calvinistic claims without support (exegetical or logical).

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  16. I said that I had already seen and read the Brian Bosse article. No doubt when Brian gets a chance to read it he will point out problems with it, but for now, here are some problems with Bosse’s article.

    First, he says there are five verbs in the verse (p. 2) he then presents some discussion of what these verbs mean. Now it is important to know the meanings of these verbs, but the verse in the Greek begins with “oudeis” (No one). The meaning of “oudeis” is crucial to the proper interpretation of the text and yet Bosse does not discuss its meaning nor how it fits the text (sometimes in the Greek the first word is placed there for emphasis, if this is true, then the presence of oudeis at the beginning of the verse means that Jesus is saying emphatically that NO ONE . . . ). This means Bosse’s whole subsequent analysis is already off base. The verse begins “No one is able to . . .” Bosse speaks of “dunatai” (able or can) but this is disconnected from “oudeis”. The verse is presenting a universal negative (i.e. NO ONE can come to me unless He/she is drawn by the Father). To fail to discuss “oudeis” completely misses the universal negative presented by this verse.

    Second, because Bosse fails to discuss “oudeis” and how it impacts the meaning of the verse, he then presents (p.7) the original meaning of the verse (“Original: (A) No one is able to come to Me . . .”) and his suggested revised version of the verse (“Revised: (A1) He is not able to come to Me . . .”).

    Immediately after presenting these two forms he writes:

    “A1 does not change the meaning of the verse. “No one is able” has been converted into “he is not able.”

    No, this is not true at all, these two versions do not have the same meaning at all. “No one is able to come to Me” presents a universal negative: “He is not able to come to Me” does not present a universal negative and so does not present the correct meaning of the verse. Compare these two sentences to see the difference.

    P1 – No one is able to come to my party.

    P2 – He is not able to come to my party.

    P1- presents a universal negative, P2 does not. P2 simply says that a PARTICULAR person (he) cannot come to my party. P1 says no one is able to come to my party.

    Third, after presenting his suggested revision of the first part of the verse (“He is not able to come to Me . . .”), guess which meaning Bosse uses for the rest of the paper? Yes, he uses his revised meaning, which is a mistaken interpretation of the phrase. So he misinterprets the first part of the first eliminating the universal negative that it presents and uses this erroneous interpretation for the rest of the paper. So the whole thing is completely skewed and off the tracks.

    Fourth, he then presents four possibilities all of which are based upon his mistake. He argues against three of them concluding the fourth makes the best sense. But all of them are off and wrong because of his initial mistake, his revision of the meaning of the early part of the verse (neglecting “oudeis” and how it makes the early part of the verse to be presenting a universal negative).

    Fifth, based upon his mistaken interpretation of the early part of the verse, on p. 13 he presents a syllogism which is supposedly representing the Arminian view. This is worthless as the premises are based on his mistaken interpretation of the early part of the verse. After presenting this off the wall syllogism he says that it shows that “given the Arminian position . . . John 6:44 entails universalism”. Well there it is again, the false representation of Arminianism as entailing universalism. I have said this a million times, but it needs to be said again: proper interpretation of scripture involves comparing scripture with scripture. We have some verses that make universal statements, universal declarations, for example that God gave Jesus as an atonement for the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2). We also have statements that say that not all people will be saved (e.g. Matt. 25 talks about sheep who are believers and goats who are not). So the non-Calvinist position is that while Jesus was given as an atonement for all, not all will be saved (and THIS is NOT UNIVERSALISM, the false doctrine that all will eventually be saved). Anyone who has done any study of the non-Calvinist position knows that it is not universalism, it does not posit that all people will eventually be saved. Universal atonement does not entail universalism. Many non-Calvinists make the provision/application distinction when it comes to the atonement (i.e. Jesus is provided for the world, that is universal, that is the provisional element of the atonement; simultaneously, the atonement only covers, only is applied to those who believe, this is the applicational element of the atonement, scripture presents both elements, hence a good theory on the atonement will include and not neglect either element). Calvinists such as Bosse equate the unlimited atonement view with universalism when they are not the same at all. And there is no way that you can show that non-Calvinists affirm universalism based upon John 6:44 or any other verses in John 6.

    Sixth, on p. 14 Bosse presents his calvinistic assumptions, with no proof or demonstration from the text that the text presents these ideas: “The Calvinist, contra the Arminian also believes that all who are drawn will necessarily come and will be raised up on the last day. Regarding those drawn, the Calvinist believes that only the elect are drawn.”

    Now we know that Calvinists believe this (i..e that all who are drawn will end up becoming believers; that only the elect are drawn): BUT WHERE IN THE TEXT OF JOHN 6 (OR ANYWHERE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER) are these beliefs presented by scripture? Nowhere, nada, nix, nein. And Bosse may declare these beliefs but he gives no support from scripture nor does he even argue for these beliefs, he merely states them.

    Seventh, Bosse presents a false dilemma at the end of his paper in its very last lines: “It is interesting to note, based on the logical analysis done above John 6:44 does teach some type of universalism. It either teaches the salvation of all the elect (Calvinism) or it teaches the salvation of all every person (universalism).”

    This is a complete fail! What Bosse completely misses, leaves out, and again this is based on taking his revised meaning rather than the intended meaning of the early part of the verse is that the verse does present a universal truth. The universal truth that is present because the verse starts with oudeis/NO ONE.

    What is this universal truth so clearly stated in the verse and also so clearly missed by Bosse and his entire paper???

    No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them.

    THAT is the universal stated in John 6:44.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robert writes, “And there is no way that you can show that non-Calvinists affirm universalism based upon John 6:44 or any other verses in John 6.”

      The charge of Universalism comes when some non-Calvinists link John 12 – “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”” – to 6:44. If God draws each and every person to Christ and Christ raises that person on the last day, then “all” are saved. To avoid this conclusion, Calvinists define “all” in John 12 to mean Gentiles as well as Jews linking it to Revelation 5 – “they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

      Like

    2. Robert writes, “What is this universal truth so clearly stated in the verse…

      No one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws them.

      THAT is the universal stated in John 6:44.”

      Yet this is followed by another universal truth, “Jesus will raise him up at the last day.” The implication is that no one can come unless God draws “him” and God does draw “him” to Christ and these “him” must be saved if it is true that Christ will raise “him” up on the last day. All the “hims” that God draws to Christ are saved. That this refers to God’s elect (defined as those whom God draws) seems clear – the issue being whether “God’s elect” encompass all of mankind or some number less than all.

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      1. The text nowhere says all drawn are saved. Eisegesis 101. Calvinists change “No one can come unless drawn” into “all that are drawn come.” Sad thing is, that’s not in the Bible anywhere.

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      2. How do you understand Christ’s statement, “I will raise him up at the last day”? Who do you say “him” is?

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      3. He who endures to the end, as Scripture says. We endure, not by our own power, nor by our own good works, nor by our own righteousness, but we endure by faith in the gracious power of God, by which we are preserved through no strength or goodness of our own, but only as a free gift conditional upon maintaining our faith that Christ alone is our righteousness. We don’t have to ascend into heaven in our righteousness, and we don’t have to descend to hell to pay for our sins, the word is near us, in our mouth, and in our heart, that if we believe Christ is who he said he was, and confess him however possible (some people are deaf, mute or mentally challenged), we will be saved, and all those saved are the ones raised at the last day by Christ.

        bless

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      4. dizerner writes, “…all those saved are the ones raised at the last day by Christ.”

        If I understand your comment, then you conclude that if God draws a person, then Christ will certainly raise that person – for God to draw a person is for God to save that person.

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    3. Thanks for pointing out the deliberate snowjob that paper makes out of John 6:44. I felt like the author thought if he pasted in enough pretty logical symbols like A → B ⊢ ¬B → ¬A that somehow made his logic more impeachable. Yet like most false theories, he snuck in a false presupposition very early on.

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  17. Leighton, thanks for the forum and information that you provide. I am studying soteriology and consider myself to be a non-calvinist. I was curious of what your thoughts are on 1 Peter 2:8, in regards to the topic of your post. It appears that Peter is saying that certain people were destined to disobey the message and stumble.

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    1. The disobedient stumble against the word, (or doctrine), to which anyone who disobeys is appointed. Whosever believes the word is appointed to eternal life and whoever disobeys is appointed to stumble and be destroyed

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      1. It is also true that those God has personally appointed to eternal life will be taught by God and will be drawn to Christ by God. In your system, you have some remarkable people believing the word without first being appointed to eternal life. You are able believe what you will but will you allow God to choose from among those who refuse to believe the word under your system some additional people to appoint to eternal life who otherwise would be doomed to eternal death?

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    2. Jude does say “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation.” I believe you can have a very real and hardy belief in predestination and not be a Calvinist. The Bible is quite strong on predestination, and certain types of Arminians work hard to give that a different definition. A view of election under a creation with autonomy is foreknowledge. Because that, when God created, he knew the free choices of all people (and the inclination of their hearts), it was a form of predestination, both for those saved and those who end up choosing evil, however this predestination did not involve God forcing choices for people by his decree, but rather starting a creation in which God knew what all choices would be. When God said “Let there be…” he marked out everyone for their fate, in one sense, but without violating their free will, yet God still went ahead and pulled the trigger on whatever would happen. This is why in Romans 8:29, foreknowledge comes logically *before* predestination, it illustrates to us the indeterminacy inherent in creation.

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      1. If you could support the things you say from the Scriptures, you could turn your philosophy into a theology. I suspect that you probably cannot do that. One difficulty is that your statement, “A view of election under a creation with autonomy is foreknowledge,” necessarily denies that God is omniscient. I guess that means you also need to find a definition for “autonomy” that is consistent with omniscience.

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      2. I quote more Scriptures to support my views then you do, so your constant accusation that I don’t support them from Scripture is just a lie and a vain imagination of yours. You will write tons of stuff that is your opinion with no supporting Scriptures at all, or some vague reference to something unrelated that you then declare “proves” your point. We all connect what we think is true to how we interpret Scripture, you do, and I do, so stop this ridiculous accusation.

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      3. It’s good to point out and realize, that the Scriptures themselves admit they can sometimes be 1. hard to understand and 2. not obviously clear in meaning. That’s why we are described as “laboring” in the Word, and why people would ask Christ the meaning of verses, and why Peter said Paul wrote some things that are hard to understand and can be twisted. In the light of this I don’t think we are ever safe to assume the Scriptures are self-evidently obvious.

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    3. Good question Chris! There are other legitimate translations of this verse in 1Pet 2:8 and also the one in Jude 1:3 that need not bear the Calvinistic meaning the Calvinistic translators gave in the KJV. The “being disobedient: whereunto they also were appointed” (1Pet 2:8) should probably be more grammatically translated as “because being unpersuaded in that which they were placed”, meaning they are rejecting the truth concerning their calling, their divine place, to be a holy nation, and that’s why they are stumbling at the truth about Christ that is being presented to them now.

      The “who were before of old ordained to this condemnation” (Jude 1:3) should probably be more grammatically translated as “who previously were written about for this judgment” meaning that in the Gospels and Pauline Epistles that were circulating, Jesus’ and Paul’s words about such apostates and their coming judgment were written about. But since Jude relies heavily upon 2Peter as a source, he is probably speaking specifically about 2Peter 2:1. I hope this helps.

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  18. “‘Depravity can be understood as an inability to initiate or attain salvation without the grace of God.’ As a result, man is so affected by the fall, that he, unlike Adam before the fall, must receive additional grace enablements beyond creative grace enablements in order to have a genuine opportunity to choose to walk with God. This includes such things as God’s redemptive love, Christ’s payment for sin, conviction of the Holy Spirit, drawing of the Father and Son, power of the gospel, etc. None of which were necessary for Adam and Eve prior to the fall because God’s provision of creative grace was sufficient.”

    Brother Leighton (only),

    The above was posted at SBC Today and I would appreciate your thoughts. It seems you and I share the same opposing view regarding the quote above.

    Consider….

    Genesis 5:24….
    And Enoch walked with God

    Genesis 6:9….
    Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

    Romans 4:3…..
    “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

    Now were the men above “grace enabled” (in other words the issue of total depravity was addressed) before they could “walk with God” or “believe God”?

    I maintain, because of the fall, man is incapable of earning, thru the righteous requirements of the law, his right standing before God. However, man never lost his ability to respond favorably to God (Adam a perfect example). Grace, for me, is God fulfilling what God requires (which no man can do) and makes salvation obtainable thru faith (which every man can do).

    However, the quote from SBC Today appears to imply that fallen man must be “grace enabled” (depravity overcomed) before he can “choose”.

    Am I missing something?

    Thanks.

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  19. Leighton (only),

    I take it that you do not wish to step on another brother’s toes here regarding the quote/stance above, but please let me add the following….

    I would argue that Adam and Eve knew nothing about “Christ’s payment for sin, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the power of the gospel”. Adam and Eve couldn’t grasp the notion of a Roman cross or the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and God didn’t expect them to.

    Now I do believe Adam understood the need of the covering and the shedding of blood for their fallen condition, but to suggest that Adam and Eve understood Paul’s gospel is ridiculous. Shoot, even the 12 apostles didn’t “get it” during Christ’s earthly ministry.

    I just don’t see anywhere in scripture where Adam lost his ability to respond favorably to God. If Adam was “grace enabled”, please point to the verse.

    If you care to respond, I am willing to listen (no pun intended).

    Grace.

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      1. Leighton,

        Thanks for taking a moment to respond.

        I don’t think neither of us is suggesting that man “initiates” or is capable of “attaining” salvation without God’s grace. In the case of Adam, it was God who came looking for Adam. It was God who provided the needed covering.

        However, I don’t see in scripture God “zapping” Adam and addressing his depravity (fallen condition).

        Here’s the problem(s) I have with the Arminian notion of prevenient grace.

        Two lost sinners experience the drawing of the Father and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Both, I am guessing, are brought to a point where they can now freely choose to accept the gospel. One does, the other doesn’t. Why? It isn’t because of depravity, because that issue has been successfully addressed.

        And how is this notion of Arminian prevenient grace not equally irresistible? Are only some sinners brought to a point where they can freely choose, or all? If some, why? If all, how?

        I want to share an article I found on-line with you. It’s a little lengthy, but I think it explains PG accurately. I once made a joke (or so I thought) that if PG is a result of the cross then everyone from the OT must have experience subsequent grace. That is, a grace that comes afterwards. I thought I was being original, but to my amazement, that concept exists.

        The below is from a Roman Catholic website. If you are interested, I can provide the link.

        “Operating grace is distinguished from cooperating grace. Operating grace occurs when God acts on the soul without any cooperation by our free will. This type of grace is also called prevenient (from the Latin: ‘to go before’) because it occurs prior to even the possibility of an act of cooperation by our free will. Whenever we knowingly choose a holy act, an act of cooperation with grace (such as prayer or a kind deed), our act is preceded by the grace of God, acting without any possible cooperation on our part. God first touches our soul with grace, enabling us subsequently to cooperate with grace, if we freely choose to do so. This ‘first grace’ of God is before every holy act of every human person, including the Virgin Mary, and the human nature of Christ.

        For example, the Virgin Mary freely chose to say ‘Yes’ to the plan of God at the Annunciation; this is called her ‘fiat’ (from the Latin: ‘let it be done’). Her fiat was a knowingly chosen holy act, done in cooperation with grace (a very full cooperation in this case). However, she would have been entirely unable to cooperate with grace at that time, and at any time, without the prevenient grace of God. Before Mary said ‘Yes’ to God, He first gave her His grace so that she would be moved and enabled to respond subsequently, in free cooperation with His grace.

        This ‘first grace’ is called prevenient or operating grace, and the next grace is called subsequent or cooperating grace. Prevenient grace is called operating, rather than cooperating, because this first grace is not at all accompanied by our cooperation. At that point, the grace of God is acting (i.e. operating or working) alone. Only subsequently may we then respond to this first grace, by our free will, so as to cooperate with subsequent grace.

        Prevenient grace is certainly always logically prior to subsequent grace, and it is often also chronologically prior to subsequent grace. Sometimes the sinner refuses to cooperate with prevenient grace, and so there is no subsequent grace. But the prevenient grace is given nevertheless. Even the most wicked persons on earth have frequently received prevenient grace. They are wicked not because of a lack of prevenient grace, but because they refuse to cooperate with subsequent grace. It is not the case that the wicked have turned away prevenient grace. It would be impossible to do so, because prevenient grace is first, and the refusal of grace is second. So even the worst sinners have often received prevenient grace.

        Although grace is sometimes described as if God offers grace, and sinners refuse the offer, this description is not theologically accurate. When God acts in prevenient grace, it is not possible for us to refuse prevenient grace. Any response by the sinner, either refusing or accepting grace, occurs after the prevenient grace was first received. And therein lies the culpability. The sinner was truly touched by the grace of God, and subsequently the sinner refused to cooperate. The first grace of God truly affected the soul, and next the sinner refused to cooperate. All sinners have received and been affected by prevenient grace. If a refusal to cooperate with grace occurs, this refusal is always subsequent to the prevenient act of God. The human person is not able to refuse prevenient grace; he can only refuse subsequent (cooperating) grace from God. Prevenient grace always occurs without cooperation and without consent.

        To use an analogy, prevenient grace is like the water in which a fish is immersed. The water surrounds him. He moves in it, and it is even within him. The fish has no choice at this point. He is immersed in the water, whether he likes it or not. The fish can then choose to swim, or not to swim in the water. But he cannot refuse to be in the water. Similarly, all human persons have prevenient grace, not merely as an offer of grace, by as an actual effect in their soul, moving and enabling them to do good. They can refuse, subsequently, to cooperate with grace, but they have already been touched by grace in this way.

        This concept is absolutely essential to a proper understanding of grace. Consider what the alternative position would be. If God merely makes an offer of grace, which we must first accept before we can receive any grace, then we would have no grace with which to make that good choice to accept the offer. We would then be unable to accept any grace. For without prevenient grace, the grace that goes before, we would have no grace, and therefore no ability to accept any grace. Accepting grace from God is an act of love for God. But grace is necessary whenever the free will commits any act fulfilling the command to love God, or to love your neighbor as yourself. So this alternative position fails. The idea of prevenient grace is necessary to the concept of grace as a free gift from God. We make no choice prior to, or concurrent with, this first grace, because a previous grace would be required in order to do so. In prevenient grace, God acts alone, entirely before any act of our free will. No one ever cooperates with prevenient grace; to do so is entirely impossible. Only subsequent grace allows for cooperation.

        God is morally obligated (in a manner of speaking) to give everyone prevenient grace, because He designed human nature so that it cannot function properly without grace and cannot avoid sin without grace. God cannot deny prevenient grace to any human person, not even to the worst of sinners, for He cannot act contrary to His own plan for human nature. Therefore, prevenient grace is not merely offered to all sinners; prevenient grace affects all sinners. Prevenient grace never fails to affect each and every soul, even those that are very sinful, even if they are in a state of actual mortal sin. It is the refusal to consent to, and cooperate with, subsequent grace that distinguishes the sinful person from the holy person. Prevenient grace occurs without consent or cooperation; subsequent grace requires consent and cooperation.”

        Leighton,

        I would argue the Arminian solution for Total Depravity is just a softer form of the Calvinistic solution.

        God bless, brother.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Leighton,

        Thanks, again, for taking the time to read the above. I have a friend who is a former Catholic and he told me prevenient grace reeks of Catholicism. I think the above proves that.

        Now here’s how I see it.

        Where does PG come from?

        If the cross (which is the solution for sin), then how did everyone believe prior to the cross? If it is a result of the cross, then everyone from Adam to the Thief experienced “subsequent” grace. That is a grace that comes after something. By the way, some Calvinists teach that regeneration grace is a result of the cross. So, kind of makes you wonder how those from the OT were born again prior to the cross.

        If PG is not a result of the cross, then that implies that the gospel (of the death, burial, and resurrection) is insufficient to save. Something else is needed.

        If TD/TI is true, then going from the “law of works” to the “law of faith” changed nothing, because for both Calvinists and Arminians, man is just as incapable of believing as he is in keeping the law.

        I appreciate the interaction.

        Blessings, brother.

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  20. Leighton (only),

    I will close with this.

    Both Arminians and Calvinists embrace the need of PG (a doctrine credited to Augustine). So while those who label others who reject TD and PG as Pelagian (or Semi-Pelagian), we could equally refer to those who affirm TD and PG as Augustinian (not a compliment in my book).

    The only difference, that I can tell, between the Calvinist and Arminian regarding PG is the goal. For the Calvinist, the goal is to bring the sinner to a point where he WILL come to faith. While for the Arminian, the goal is to bring the sinner to a point where he CAN come to faith.

    Both are 100% successful in achieving its goal, so in way, both are irresistible (unless the Arminian wants to admit that not all sinners are brought to this point, which only begs the question “why not?”).

    Now here comes the throne in the Arminian’s side.

    If two sinners are both “grace enabled” (successfully brought to a point where they can believe or not), why does one sinner accept and the other sinner reject the gospel? It wasn’t because of grace, because both had the issue of depravity removed/overcomed. So why is one sinner willing to believe and the other sinner isn’t? Why is one sinner convinced and the other sinner isn’t? Why does one sinner humble himself and the other sinner doesn’t? (Depravity is not the issue, because that has been successfully addressed.)

    I would argue that humility is not a gift (nor grace enabled) and something that man must conjure up on his own.

    The way I see it is this….

    If we attribute every little detail of how and why we believe to God then, ultimately, Calvinism is true. Eventually, when pushed, man must make a decision “on his own” and apart from “grace enablements” or Calvinism is true.

    This, however, does not imply that man earns his salvation. Faith is not a work. Nor is the reason why he comes to faith a work either.

    I would greatly appreciate your thoughts.

    Blessings.

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  21. 1 Peter 1:1 (KJV)….
    “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…”

    Leighton (only),

    Completely unrelated to the topic at large, but I want to ask you a question in private (I hope).

    Do you believe Peter is writing to Jews (only) or the church?

    This isn’t a loaded question.

    I believe Peter is addressing the Jews only and nothing regarding a gentile church.

    I’m just curious what your stance is.

    Blessings.

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  22. “I further believe that Adam was endowed by God with the ability to choose otherwise by what I call creative grace (he did not earn it, and it was not meritorious, virtuous etc., but by grace). While I do not think all creative endowments are absolutely eradicated (we still make choices every day that we could have chosen otherwise), I do believe the ability to choose to exercise faith and walk with God (restoring our relationship to what Adam had), requires more grace work of God than just creation. I refer to this as redemptive grace.

    Thus, God created man with otherwise choice always knowing that man would misuse his freedom, and therefore, God sovereignly always knew that His plan would be a coextensive creative/redemptive plan; both of which are entirely of grace. The restoration of this particular ability (to exercise saving faith) is provided in God’s redemptive love—grace-enablements. This includes things like, sacrifice of Christ, resistible drawing of the father and the Son, conviction of the Holy Spirit, power of the gospel etc. All of this is experientially provided subsequent to the fall.”

    Leighton (only),

    As this comes from one of your peers I understand why you might be hesitant to respond. However, can you show me in scripture where Adam (or his children) ever experienced these redemptive grace enablements?

    And more important, if these are to be considered as “redemptive”, are we suggesting that those who experience these enablements are partially redeemed? Isn’t redemption only provided thru the shed blood of the Saviour? And aren’t those redemptive benefits only accessible thru faith? Read our brother’s words carefully. He is saying before man can even possess the ability to believe he must first experience redemptive grace and this redemptive grace restores that man (regardless if he chooses to accept or reject the gospel) to a pre-fallen state.

    When Abraham believed God was it only because of the direct effect of the “sacrifice of Christ, resistible drawing of the father and the Son, conviction of the Holy Spirit, power of the gospel etc…”?

    You maintain man (starting with Adam) never lost his ability to respond favorably to God (thru faith). Obviously, we have Baptist brothers who disagree.

    In Him.

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  23. You ask good questions and you nail it when you write:

    ‘Scripture does not teach that men are born with a depraved mind, a calloused heart, defiled, and hardened so as to be totally unable to willingly respond to the clearly revealed truth of God. Instead, it teaches that mankind may “trade the truth in for lies” (Rom. 1:25) so as to be given “over to a depraved mind” (Rom. 1:18). It says they may “become calloused” (Acts 28:27a) so as to grow into a condition that is unable to “see, hear understand and turn” (Acts 28:27b). Scripture says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21). Notice that this is never described as a condition from birth.’

    Read: https://crosstheology.wordpress.com/does-romans-3-teach-that-all-are-sinners/

    Like

    1. Good article.

      I think part of the hang-up is that people think Grace always “looks like” sparkles or magic or visions or feelings or urges. Grace — efficacious help from God — can also take more “boring” forms.

      For example, Scripture is a form of Grace, legitimately creditable to the Holy Spirit.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. rhutchin

    In response to the question: “why do Calvinists consistently sight determinative/decrees as the REAL cause for GOOD events, while consistently omitting them as the REAL cause for SINFUL/EVIL events…always pointing instead to PROXIMATE causes. The question was asked so as to understand consistent Calvinist behavior. The concern is from the point of Christian ethics, in regard to honesty.

    Thanks for your response……you kind of answered the question somewhat for me where you stated:

    “For good events God is the REAL cause without the NECESSITY of an intermediate PROXIMATE cause. For evil events, God is the REAL cause working through PROXIMATE causes. So, what’s the big deal??

    Thank you for stating that as a Calvinist you hold God accountable as the REAL cause for all sinful/evil events. That statement helps me to understand…..as I have never known you to state that so unambiguously.

    However, I found your appeal to NECESSITY a little confusing. All Christians know there are REAL causes and PROXIMATE causes for EVERY event. And if God so chooses to use a PROXIMATE cause or not, He is to be honored for whatever He chooses. Who are we to judge God? So when speaking of good events or sinful/evil events, most Christians can speak unambiguously, but Calvinists consistently don’t.

    Dr. Flowers specifically asked you the question: Where did the sinful desires that God is restraining ORIGINATE?” And you states a PROXIMATE cause as your answer to where they originated knowing that was not the REAL answer. I’m trying to understand this from a behavioral point of view. Because it is so perennial, it becomes a question of honesty. I appreciate that you can understand that concern. Thanks.

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    1. br.d. writes, “Thank you for stating that as a Calvinist you hold God accountable as the REAL cause for all sinful/evil events. That statement helps me to understand…..as I have never known you to state that so unambiguously.”

      Thus, we understand that the distinction between REAL and PROXIMATE is the same for everyone. That distinction is no longer an issue given your response. Presumably, you understand that Calvinists have done nothing unique.

      Thus, you move on, “Dr. Flowers specifically asked you the question: Where did the sinful desires that God is restraining ORIGINATE?” And you states a PROXIMATE cause as your answer to where they originated knowing that was not the REAL answer.”

      That was the real answer. We know that Adam’s sin changed everything. Adam’s mind became corrupted consequence to his sin so that even he would now be subject to sinful desires without the necessity of an outside influence to serve as a catalyst. Adam’s progeny are now born with corrupted minds through inheritance. Thus, we can read later in Genesis 6, “every inclination of the thoughts of [man’s] heart was only evil all the time.” This is the consequence of Adam’s sin. God does not need to instill such thoughts into the mind of man as the corrupted mind is self-enabled to devise wickedness on his own. Paul describes corrupt people in Romans 8, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires;…The mind of sinful man is death,…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

      This is not a position held only by Calvinists; all people agree on this because there is no other way to take the Scriptures..

      Like

      1. “Real” is a terrible word to use here. “Ultimate cause” is probably better, because there are times when ultimate causation is more meaningful to us, and there are times when proximal causation is more meaningful to us (meaningful = per what interests and for what purposes). And both ultimate and proximal causes are completely real.

        David’s census is an important example of this. Joseph’s abduction is another important example. Another important example is comparing Romans 9:20-21 to 2 Timothy 2:20-22 (same “timen/atimien use” dichotomy, but different focus on ultimate vs. proximal cause).

        “Decree,” although popular among Calvinists, is another term that should probably be jettisoned. Decree has connotations of whole pleasure (and we know evil does not wholly please God even if through it some good arises) and whole purpose (and it’s silly to posit that trivialities are wholly purposeful; it is ridiculous to think that each twist of the falling leaf justifies itself by some effect vs. counterfactual twists). It’s better to say that God very often “suffers” evil and triviality (probably per an interest in the natural freedom of creation).

        For reminder, I am a Christian deterministic compatibilist but am not a Calvinist.

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  25. And you stated a PROXIMATE cause as your answer to where they originated knowing that was not the REAL answer.””

    That was the real answer……..”

    Thanks rhutchin….I understand. You do know that even though the question of honesty is not a concern to you, it will remain a concern to outsiders. Its only expected for that to be the case. Take care my friend.

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  26. In response to STANROCK :-]

    “Real” is a terrible word to use here. “Ultimate cause” is probably better,….

    Hi there Stanrock!
    Nice to hear from you! Hope you’ve been well. Yes I totally agree. I knew I was taking liberties to emphasize the word REAL with the caveat it is common vernacular to be equated with ULTIMATE. But I was careful to always write it as REAL and not as real, so its precise meaning would be clear. But I totally agree with you. And I noticed in this thread that it was written both as REAL and real which exemplifies beautifully what you sighted as a concern for ambiguity. :-]

    You mentioned something interesting:
    “Decree,” although popular among Calvinists, is another term that should probably be jettisoned. Decree has connotations of whole pleasure

    I’m not sure how a devout Calvinist could jettison that concept. It seems to me to be one of the shining components that separates Calvinism from its alternatives. So I’m unable to imagine them as not holding it sacred. You make an interesting point on the “pleasure” issue. But isn’t it true that Calvin himself emphasized a very harsh and stoic insistence that it is within God’s prerogative to derive all the dark pleasures he pleases, and who is man to judge?

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  27. It appears that one of the key errors of Calvinism is to insist – with their usual ‘inference’ rather than genuine statement in scripture – that God cursed man with depravity upon Adam’s sin. All scripture genuinely teaches is that death was introduced into the creation upon Adam’s sin; it is only (faulty) ‘logic’ or ‘philosophizing’ that turns scripture’s ‘death’ into Total Depravity.

    In reality, most people know what death is, if they have ever experienced the death of another. This is the understanding of death that is universally understood by all men, whatever the term for it is in their own language. It is only Calvinist philosophizing that insists that the death God cursed man with was spiritual, rather than the actual, genuine, known by all people of all times in all cultures and languages end of physical functionality known as ‘death’.

    In making this assumption, great liberties are taken, and great errors are perpetrated.

    Again, we can only ‘know’ what scripture actually tells us, buy much of what is ‘known’ by Calvinism stems from faulty definitions and incorrect interpretations.

    The concept of ‘Total Depravity’ is nowhere found in scripture, and it is an abomination to the character of God. It appears to be the foundational error upon which all of the errors of Calvinism rest. And it is only accepted by the masses because it has been declared ‘orthodox’, which is merely another way of saying something has been declared true by consensus.

    Only when an individual genuinely unpacks the concept of Total Depravity – at least as held by Calvinism – can they have the opportunity to judge it as to its scriptural, logical and moral grounds. Like much of Calvinist theology, the scriptural basis is very slim and rests on questionable readings of a very few verses. What all sincere believers must do whenever confronted by any so-called ‘orthodox’ interpretation is remember that it is just that – an interpretation. Indeed, the need to declare ‘orthodoxy’ rests on the genuine existence of differing interpretations or opinions. (As an aside, note that those who defend their particular interpretations with a claim of ‘orthodoxy’ attempt to use the ‘consensus of the experts’ strategy, rather than genuinely defend their claims. We have seen this same strategy used by the defenders of ‘string theory’, ‘global warming’, vaccination ‘science’, and many other questionable theories that are declared ‘true’ by consensus.)

    Back to ‘Total Depravity’. By Calvinist definition this requires God to curse all men with spiritual ‘death’ before they are even conceived, due to the sin of another, i.e., Adam. This is so often taken for granted as ‘true’ that few ever consider what that really means. Or that there is another alternative explanation – being physical death – that was once universally accepted (before Calvin) and which preserves both the integrity of scripture and the character of God.

    In cursing man with physical death, which is tragic enough, it can at least be granted that God was being merciful, in that those who chose to pursue sin would not be left in an eternal state of dysfunction and destructiveness. By instituting physical death, God started the process that would lead to new life, with the promise of an eventual restoration of immortality, or the glorified body that became possible after Jesus.

    However there is no moral defense of the Calvinist assertion that God cursed man with spiritual death, i.e., a total inability to respond to God. Such a claim, by necessity, makes God the author of all evil, for he has unilaterally determined that no man is capable of good. All of this is masked by semantics, as Calvinism pretends that Adam somehow provoked the utter wickedness they claim men now ‘enjoy’. In reality, their theory suggests that it was God who instituted and unilaterally cursed man with utter wickedness. Calvin recognized the gall of his assertion, thus his convoluted attempt to explain that this was necessary for God’s ‘glory’. Few Calvinists today even fully understand what they assert when they appeal to a man-made concept termed Total Depravity or a so-called ‘sinful nature’. No such terms or concepts exist in scripture. Note that much of the ‘confusion’ exists due to English terms and their lack of clarity, as is true with most doctrinal error.

    The alternative explanation for any and all verses that Calvinism might claim ‘prove’ Total Depravity is that physical death was the curse introduced into the creation by Adam’s sin, and all of scripture demonstrates God’s explanation for this physical death, and – even better – his promised solution, which is new life through Jesus. Both explanations are logically feasible, but only one is morally reprehensible, which is Total Depravity. This, of course, was the valid claim of all dissenters to Calvin and remains the primary valid objection to Calvinism today.

    Since I asserted that few unpack this doctrine, I will attempt to do so, and show the more reasonable and moral alternatives.

    Calvinism:
    God cursed all men with spiritual death.
    Such a curse leaves men helpless and hopeless in their sin, granting Calvinism’s most beloved definition of Sovereignty, in that men can no longer choose between good and evil. What is rarely admitted is that this is because God ‘chose’ that all men be given over to evil. Calvinism asserts that man now has a ‘sinful nature’, which is not merely that sin is possible, but that it is inevitable. Because God cursed man with this sinful nature. It did not ‘arise’ of its own from Adam’s sin, like a scar from a a wound, as clever Calvinist arguments attempt to suggest, but it was a deliberate curse placed upon man by God. In other words, Adam’s sin did not make men desperately wicked, God’s curse did. As atheist philosophers have rightly suggested, the (false) concept of Total Depravity indeed makes God the author of evil. (It also leaves Calvinists with no logical explanation for Adam’s sin, minus convoluted explanations that man once had a free will, but ‘lost’ it, or rather, God ‘took’ it away.) Such a decision was not essential, as, in eliminating man’s ‘free will’, God could instead have ‘chosen’ to make all given over to good, so that no one could sin, rather than no one could not sin. The entire existence of sin and evil would have been avoided, had God not determined that they exist, and that all men be under their control.

    Non-Calvinism:
    God cursed all men with physical death.
    Such a curse, while seemingly tragic, is actually man’s only hope, as it brings with it the opportunity for new life. Under this, I would argue biblical, assertion, Adam freely chose to sin and God added to his creation the curse of physical death, in order that sin would not go on indefinitely in any man or in the world. God did not recreate man or change his nature, as is nowhere suggested by scripture; indeed, his conversation with Cain demonstrates not only that Cain still knew and understood God, but that he had the complete freedom to ‘do well’ and be accepted by God. God warned Cain of the deceptive nature of sin, how it tempted and lured with half-true promises of pleasure, but only later revealed its inevitable result, which is to corrupt and destroy. His warning demands that Cain could both understand and do what was right. As this narrative, and all of scripture demonstrated, God did not desire Cain’s sin, nor did he determine it, for he had not cursed Cain with a ‘sinful nature’ or ‘Total Depravity’ as Calvinism falsely asserts. Cain had complete freedom to choose whether to obey God or succumb to the lies of Satan (sin). Calvinism’s Total Depravity did not exist then, and it does not exist now. As Paul carefully explains in Romans, depravity arises from repeated resistance to God, from a stubborn continuance in sin, not from some nowhere described ‘curse’ from God. ‘Total Depravity’ as properly described by Paul, is the result of man’s continued resistance to God’s voice, not an inability to hear and understand it because curse by God. At most, God gives men over to their depravity, which suggests not so much an active curse as a discontinued attempt to call them to righteousness, as their ‘addiction’ to sin has so inebriated them that they do not clearly ‘hear’ his voice.

    For the sake of brevity, I will sum up by saying that scripture’s references to the ‘natural’ man or the man who lives by his ‘nature’ is talking about the man who lives solely for the sake of physical pleasure, or the very real physical ‘highs’ that indeed arise from compulsive eating, drinking, sex and other ‘natural’ activities that. Natural activities, like eating and drinking, when abused, lead to destruction and, frequently, unnecessarily early poor health and/or death. The ‘natural’ activities that God designed to bring pleasure and sustain life have been corrupted by Satan in tempting man into obsessive, unhealthy use of them. Thus, what is ‘natural’ has become deadly. In appealing to genuine fleshly desires, necessary to sustain life, Satan diabolically turned what was intended for our good into our very destruction. The ‘natural’ man lives only for his fleshly desires, whereas the ‘spiritual’ man tunes into the voice of God which leads him to ‘proper use’ of the flesh, as well as a love for others which protects them from his uncontrolled selfish whims.

    In reading scripture with these interpretations, all of the cruel, unjust, morally repulsive assertions of Calvinism become unnecessary. Scripture not only makes perfect sense, but life as we actually know and live it does as well.

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    1. First, God did promise that “in the day” that Adam would disobey he would “surely die”. One has to come to terms with what God meant by that warning and how it was carried out on that day that Adam disobeyed. Second, Adam’s nature did change – “his eyes were opened” and “he knew he was naked”. He even developed a desire to hide. One has to consider that something was now living in Adam’s nature, in his flesh, that was not there before, but was now prodding him to further distance from God. Paul calls it “sin” dwelling in his flesh.

      Third, there is no indication that Cain’s wrong reaction to God’s non-respect of his offering was caused by temptation from Satan. The more natural conclusion is that in his nature, inherited from Adam there was a propensity, or at least an ability, to react badly to God’s interaction. Unlike God’s command to Adam, which did not provoke to evil, God’s law now becomes something that indwelling sin can grab a hold of and push one towards death as Paul says in Romans 7.

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      1. Brian, I find your description most helpful. As I read scripture, I endeavor to remain aware of how much my understanding is shaped by my past, and the teachings and traditions of men, as well as how limiting the English language is in expressing the original meaning. Thus, when I present my thoughts, here or elsewhere, I freely admit that they are speculative and tentative, undergoing construction, which I daresay will last the rest of my life.

        The concept of ‘original sin’ is one which I have yet to make a full-fledged assault upon, but my early grapplings lead me to suspect that most of what I ‘believe’ stems more from tradition than a careful reading of scripture. As I read I attempt to do some word studies, (I am not proficient in the original languages of scripture), and try to go past the English, ‘orthodox’ or vernacular meaning. Your description – and I appreciate that you state it as a ‘natural conclusion’ – is perhaps the most faithful to what is actually said in scripture that I have yet to see.

        I find it helpful, even necessary, to discard the non-scriptural terms that are most commonly thrown around, bringing with them all of their baggage. Scripture does not speak of ‘Total Depravity’,’Original Sin’, ‘the sin nature’, or ‘the Fall’ and in using them we tend to grant their various assertions unthinkingly.

        I would agree that with Adam sin was introduced into the creation, for the first time, and obviously had enormous ramifications. I am not sure that we can legitimately conclude that the ‘nature’ of man was changed, however. At this time I find the concept of a before non-existent propensity for sin the least, shall I say ‘creative’ or imaginative description for any ‘change’ that scripture does not genuinely describe in detail.

        What are we actually told? Death, or a limited span of years granted to the creature, is the promised and received curse for disobeying God. This seems to imply that had Adam, or any other man, not disobeyed we might have enjoyed immortality a lot sooner. We also receive some clues from the very description of the tree ‘of the knowledge of good and evil’. We might note that it is not the tree ‘of the curse of a sinful nature’ or the tree ‘of spiritual death’, so it seems a bit of a stretch to assert that these were its ramifications.

        Adam, who originally only knew the existence of ‘good’, being the good and perfect will of his Creator, had now discovered, or perhaps introduced, ‘evil’, a second will, that which is resistant to the first. In other words, he could no longer unthinkingly do anything, for now there was a ‘battle of wills’ in the created order, and he must carefully consider whether or not he was consenting to God’s good will, or his own, demonically inspired, selfish will. The easiest, or most ‘natural’ thing to do was follow the desires of his flesh, but like the child who has been introduced to processed sugar, it has once and for all had its natural ‘appetite’ corrupted. Following his ‘natural’ desires was sure to lead to trouble.

        Scripture most often terms this battle of the wills as being with ‘the flesh’ or ‘natural man’ in the English translations, which appear to suggest that the route through which Satan leads men into resisting God’s will is through the corruption of our natural, fleshly appetites. Who can deny that many of our sins stem from the abuse or misuse of natural, in themselves healthy appetites? Surely we must acknowledge that our appetites for food, drink, community, sex, and so on stem from the subconscious, survival instincts God placed within us that make life both possible and enjoyable? Imagine having no instincts, having to read the ‘checklist for survival’, or dare I say ‘Ten Commandments’ of everyday life? It would be extremely limiting to have to remember the rules to breathe, eat, drink, sleep, etc. Instead, our ‘flesh’ drives us to do those ‘natural’ things which bring us health and life.

        It seems to me that the ‘change’ that occurred, which leads all men to eventually sin, is that the ‘natural’ elements of our nature become the primary, and oftentimes, only factors in living. Satan encourages us in this faulty and destructive thinking, insisting that life is really all about these ‘natural’ elements and nothing else. As a little child, we first learn to walk and talk, and in the meantime, the process of rational thinking is being nurtured. However, if the process of rational thinking, which leads us to understand that there is more to life than walking and talking, is prematurely shut down, we may never discover the benefits and joy of knowledge, understanding and wisdom, or the pursuit of truth.

        That’s about as far as I have gotten, and, again, this is just me thinking out loud. I make no claims to have ‘arrived’ at understanding. I am merely trying to leave behind the baggage of what others (men, creeds, institutions) have told me scripture means and seek the genuine leading of the very Spirit of God, who works with all of the tools of life experience, nature, relationships, and much more to enlighten us with better understanding of static letters, words which have been translated, interpreted and often clouded by the devices of Satan. This seems to me why we needed the intervention, the incarnation of the Living Word, to demonstrate and interpret what the written word was intended to reveal, but had been twisted and distorted by the traditions of ‘the teachers’. He promised that he would not leave us alone to ‘figure things out’, but would send the very Holy Spirit to guide us, teach us and lead us into a greater, fuller understanding of truth.

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