Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

Many Calvinists teach that regeneration precedes faith. They say that a person must be born again before he believes. They argue that new life comes before faith.

John Piper, a Calvinistic pastor, puts it this way:

“We can say, first, that regeneration is the cause of faith… Having been born of God results in our believing. Our believing is the immediate evidence of God’s begetting.” [1]

Gordon Olson, a non-Calvinistic scholar, writes:

“Extreme Calvinists put the new birth before faith, since they believe that spiritually dead humans cannot exercise faith and, therefore, need to be born again before they can believe.” [2]

I would not agree with Olson that this doctrine is necessarily an “extreme” form of Calvinism because most of the mainstream Calvinists today do adhere to it. Instead, I would argue that this point has not always been uniformly understood and adopted in the same way by all Calvinists, [3] which is typical with many of the most controversial points within the Calvinistic scheme.[4]

The Calvinistic teaching has wrongly exaggerated the effects of man’s fallen condition resulting in a misinterpretation of man’s responsibility in light of God’s clear revelation. Calvinists say they believe men are “responsible” but they do not mean what most people think when they hear the word “responsible” (able-to-respond freely and thus guilty for that response).

What Calvinists mean is that mankind is justly punished even though they were born “unable-to-respond” willingly to God’s revelation. They do not mean that mankind is morally capable of responding to God’s appeals to be reconciled from their fallen condition (as implied in 2 Cor. 5:20, John 3:16 and elsewhere).

Calvinists insist that man is born dead in sin and therefore “corpse-like” in his abilities to respond to God’s life giving truth. Therefore, according to their logic, God must bring the corpse back to life so that he will certainly believe God’s revealed truth.[5]

Some Calvinists will argue that the order of regeneration and faith is a logical order not a temporal one, meaning that the two happen simultaneously within time.  They teach that at the moment a person is born again he will come to faith. The moment he is regenerated he also places his trust in Christ. It all happens in an instant of time. Yet logically as we think about this transaction, we must put a causal order to it. Does the Bible indicate that a person must be regenerated so that he can believe or does the Bible teach that a person must believe in order to be regenerated? Do we need life in order to believe or do we need to believe in order to have life? That logical order is what is in dispute.

What is not in dispute is that regeneration is the sovereign act of God whereby He imparts His very life and His very nature to the believing sinner (John 1:12-13; Titus 3:5). Man’s first birth is natural; his second birth is spiritual and supernatural. His first birth makes him a member of a fallen race; his second birth makes him a member of a redeemed race. His first birth gives him a depraved nature (Eph. 2:3); his second birth makes him partaker of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). The moment a person is born again he receives a new life (John 6:47; 1 John 5:12) and a new position as a child of God (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1-2). In short, he is a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).[6] We can all affirm these truths.

But what does the Scripture actually say about the logical order of new life and man’s responsibility in attaining it? Which comes first, new life or faith? Let’s observe:

 

Ezekiel 18:30-32

“Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “Repent, Turn away…Rid yourselves…”
  2. “…get a new heart and a new spirit.”

Verse 32 makes it even more simple:

  1. “Repent and…”
  2. “…live!”

Life comes from repentance, not the other way around.

 

Acts 11:18

When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “Repentance unto…”
  2. “…life”

The Gentiles were not granted life unto repentance, but just the opposite according to the text.  And the gospel is the means God grants mankind the ability to believe.  He sent the gospel first to the Jews and then the Gentiles which enabled their faith response (Rom. 1:16, 10:14-17). (Anticipating those who might invoke Act 13:48, please read THIS.)

 

John 5:40

“yet you refuse to COME TO ME TO HAVE LIFE.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “Come to me…” (through faith)
  2. “…to have life.”

 

John 6:53

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “Unless you eat…drink” (by faith)
  2. “…you have not life in you.”

 

John 6:57

“so the one who feeds on me will live because of me.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “the one who feeds on me…” (by faith)
  2. “…will live”

 

John 20:31

“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “these are written…” (scriptures)
  2. “…that you may believe…”
  3. “…by believing you may have life…”

Life clearly is a fruit of faith and repentance, not the other way around.

 

Acts 15:9

“He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “He purified their hearts…”
  2. “…by faith.”

It does not say He purified their hearts by regeneration so as to make them have faith. Clearly a purified heart is a fruit of faith, not the other way around.

 

John 1:12-13

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

The right to be born of God is given only to those who believe.

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “…all who did receive him…who believed…”
  2. “…he gave the right to BECOME children of God…”

You are not even given to right to become a child of God, much less be born again as his child, UNTIL you “receive him” and “believe in his name.” And while placing our trust in Christ is man’s responsibility, the work of regeneration is all of God’s doing. It does not come by way of inheritance, marriage, works or striving (Rom. 9:30-32).

 

Galatians 3:26

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “You are all sons of God…”
  2. “…through faith in Christ…”

Obviously, becoming a son (born of God) is a fruit of faith, not the other way around.

 

John 12:36

“Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “Believe in the light…”
  2. “…so that you may become children…”

 

Ephesians 1:13

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “when you heard the message of truth…when you believed
  2. “you were included in Christ…you were marked in him…”

For more on how to better understand the biblical doctrine of predestination presented in Ephesians 1, watch this.

 

Galatians 3:2, 5

“I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?… So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “…received the Spirit…”
  2. “…by believing what you heard…”

 

2 Corinthians 3:14-16

But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “…anyone turns to the Lord…” (by faith)
  2. “…the veil is taken away.”

 

1 Timothy 1:16

“But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “…those who would believe in him…”
  2. “…may receive eternal life.”

 

Colossians 2:12

“…having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “…baptism, in which you were also raised…”
  2. “…through your faith…”

 

James 1:18

“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

The order clearly laid out is as follows:

  1. “…give us brith…”
  2. “…through the word of truth…”

Calvinists teach the word of truth will certainly be rejected by the unregenerate, thus how can the apostle say that the word may be the means of new birth? Birth must precede the word if Calvinism is true, and that is not what the text clearly indicates.

The Philippian jailer inquired, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). If Paul was Calvinistic he should have replied, “You can do nothing to be saved. You were born corpse-like dead in your sin and a dead man can do nothing.  If God makes you alive then you will be convinced to believe our gospel.” But Paul does not hesitate to simply say, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).  Believe so as to have new life. Repent so as to live!  That is the gospel appeal sent for all to hear it and respond.


[1] John Piper Sermon: Accessed online here:  And for those who would like to hear an alternative interpretation of 1 John 5:1, listen to this podcast with Dr. Brian Abasciano: HERE or consider this article from Dr. David Allen of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:

1 John 5:1

First John 5:1 states: “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God . . .”29 “Whoever believes” is a present tense participle. “Born” is a perfect tense verb. Some Calvinists suggest the perfect tense indicates completed past action with continuing results and draw the conclusion that faith is the result of being born again. The argument is that the verb “born” is in the perfect tense denoting an action that precedes the faith in the participle “whoever believes.” 

This is an unwarranted and erroneous interpretation. Consider two examples. John 3:18 states: “He who believes is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already. . .” “He who believes” is a present participle. “Not condemned” is a perfect tense verb. Yet, here it is clear that the “believing” precedes “not being condemned.” Consider 1 John 5:10, “he who does not believe God has made Him a liar. . .” “He who does not believe” translates a present participle. “Has made” translates a perfect tense verb. Here again, the perfect tense verb, “making God a liar,” is a result of the present participle, “not believing,” not its cause.

Many Calvinists argue that the use of “born” in the perfect tense produces a range of results expressed by present participles, and faith is one of them. However, exegesis always trumps systematic theology. Likewise, context and sentence structure trumps theology. Let’s compare John 3:18 with 1 John 5:1 to see if the use of “born” in the perfect tense produces the result of faith. Notice the order of events in John 3:18 is A then B. In 1 John 5:1 the order is B then A. Both make use of the perfect tense. The same grammatical structure that places being born of God before faith can also be used to describe justification as occurring after faith. See Rom 5:1. The grammar of the verses does not address an ordo salutis. The use of the perfect tense in Greek provides no support for the notion of regeneration preceding faith.30 To suggest otherwise is to fail to distinguish between tense and aspect in Greek verbs and verbals.

Furthermore, with respect to 1 John 5:1, contextually the simple initial act of believing is not under consideration by John. John is talking about the ongoing life of faith as a believer. Obviously, the new birth precedes the ongoing life of faith. But that is something altogether different from saying the new birth precedes the initial act of faith. John’s use of “born” nowhere precludes the possibility of faith preceding regeneration. One may argue for regeneration preceding faith, but one cannot argue against faith preceding regeneration. The most that can be said from the Greek present participle and perfect tense verb combination is that the actions are contemporaneous.

The broader context of John’s writings indicate he would not teach that regeneration precedes faith and elsewhere teach that faith is a condition for life as he does in John 20:31. This precludes the possibility of regeneration preceding faith. 

Three conclusions, then, are in order:

1. There is no Biblical text that connects faith and regeneration in a grammatical structure that prescribes an order that supports regeneration preceding faith. Nor is there any statement in Scripture which precludes faith preceding regeneration.

2. There are biblical texts connecting faith and regeneration that support faith preceding regeneration.

3. There are texts that would seem to preclude the possibility of regeneration preceding faith. There is no Scripture anywhere that directly says regeneration precedes faith. That is a theological deduction made by some Calvinists that is driven more by their system than it is by Scripture. The Scripture says things like, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved,” as Paul said to the Philippian jailor in Acts 16.

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29 For this section, I have relied heavily upon the excellent work of Brian Abasciano, “Does Regeneration Precede Faith? The Use of 1 John 5:21 as a Proof Text,” 307–22. Abasciano provides the best and most substantive Greek grammatical analysis of the issue with respect to 1 John 5:21 I have seen anywhere.
30 A point well-made by Dan Musick in his post on this subject at [link removed]. Musick examines several texts to which Calvinists appeal in an effort to support the notion of regeneration preceding faith. <Source: http://baptistcenter.net/journals/JBTM_11-2_Fall_2014.pdf>

[2] C. Gordon Olson, Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism, p. 39.

[3] R. C. Sproul believes that regeneration precedes faith.  But in spite of his doctrine, he once wrote the following: “Once Luther grasped the teaching of Paul in Romans, he was reborn” (R. C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, 1993 edition, p. 144).  He must have written these words in haste because to be consistent with his theology he should have said it this way: “Once Luther was reborn, he grasped the teaching of Paul in Romans.” If regeneration precedes faith, then this would make faith unnecessary since the person would already be saved. If a person is regenerated, then he is born of God, a member of God’s family and a possessor of eternal life. If you are a member of God’s family and a possessor of eternal life, then you are already saved. So what need is there for faith? Charles Spurgeon recognized the folly of saying that the sinner must be regenerated before he can believe: “If I am to preach the faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. Am I only to preach faith to those who have it? Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners.” [Sermon entitled The Warrant of Faith]. <LINK>

[4] Examples of other points where Calvinists simply do not agree among themselves:

(1) Atonement: Phil Johnson, President of Grace to You ministries, writes, “But second, don’t imagine that there is just one view for the Limited Atonement position and another view for the Unlimited Atonement position. As if there are two polar opposites here and they compete against each other. This is not really an either/or position even among Calvinists. And in fact, historically, the most intense debates about Limited Atonement have come over the past 400 years, they’ve all been intramural debates between Calvinists, among Calvinists… There are at least six possible Calvinists’ interpretations of it [scripture]… I want to encourage you read Andrew Fuller and Thomas Boston. Read what people like Robert L. Dabney and William G. T. Shedd and B. B. Warfield and Charles Hodge wrote on the subject of the atonement. Read John Owen too, but don’t imagine that John Owens’s book The Death of Death in the Death of Christ represents the only strain of Calvinist thought on the issue. It doesn’t. In fact, far from it.” <LINK>

(2) God’s Love for all: John MacArthur writes, “I am troubled by the tendency of some-often young people newly infatuated with Reformed doctrine-who insist that God cannot possibly love those who never repent and believe. I encounter that view, it seems, with increasing frequency… Unfortunately, Pink took the corollary too far. The fact that some sinners are not elected to salvation is no proof that God’s attitude toward them is utterly devoid of sincere love.” <LINK>

(3) Lapsarian Controversy:

Calvinists are seriously divided among themselves and always have been. There is Supralapsarianismvs. Sublapsarianism vs. Infralapsarianism. ‘The Supralapsarians hold that God decreed the fall of Adam; the Sublapsarians, that he permitted it’ (McClintock & Strong). The Calvinists at the Synod of Dort were divided on many issues, including lapsarianism. The Swiss Calvinists who wrote the Helvetic Consensus Formula in 1675 were in conflict with the French Calvinists of the School of Saumur. There are Strict Calvinists and Moderate Calvinists, Hyper and non-Hyper (differing especially on reprobation and the extent of the atonement and whether God loves all men), 5 pointers, 4 pointers, 3 pointers, 2 pointers. In America Calvinists were divided into Old School and the New School. As we have seen, the Calvinists of England were divided in the 19th century.

Whenever, therefore, one tries to state TULIP theology and then refute it, there are Calvinists who will argue with you that you are misrepresenting Calvinism. It is not so much that you are misrepresenting Calvinism, though. You might be quoting directly from various Calvinists or even from Calvin himself. The problem is that you are misrepresenting THEIR Calvinism! There are Calvin Calvinists and Thomas Fuller Calvinists and Arthur W. Pink Calvinists and Presbyterian Calvinists and Baptist Calvinists and many other sorts of Calvinists. Many Calvinists have never read Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion for themselves. They are merely following someone who follows someone who allegedly follows Calvin (who, by his own admission, followed Augustine). (LINK)

See also this LINK for more on the Lapsarian Controversy within Calvinism.

(4) God’s genuine desire for all to be saved: Watch this CLIP

(5) God’s permissive decree and his implication in bringing about moral evil: See <LINK>

(6) The “order salutis” (the temporal vs. logical order)

[5] More on this point is discussed HERE  and HERE, with many references.

Other Calvinists who teach this doctrine:

When Christ called to Lazarus to come out of the grave, Lazarus had no life in him so that he could hear, sit up, and emerge. There was not a flicker of life in him. If he was to be able to hear Jesus calling him and to go to Him, then Jesus would have to make him alive. Jesus resurrected him and then Lazarus could respond. [Similarly,] the unsaved, the unregenerate, is spiritually dead (Eph. 2). He is unable to ask for help unless God changes his heart of stone into a heart of flesh, and makes him alive spiritually (Eph. 2:5). Then, once he is born again, he can for the first time turn to Jesus, expressing sorrow for his sins and asking Jesus to save him (Palmer, Five Points, 18-19).

Abraham Kuyper observed that, prior to regeneration, a sinner ‘has all the passive properties belonging to a corpse … [Therefore] every effort to claim for the sinner the minutest co-operation in this first grace destroys the gospel, severs the artery of the Christian confession and is anti-scriptural in the highest degree.’ Like a spiritual corpse, he is unable to make a single move toward God, think a right thought about God, or even respond to God – unless God first brings this spiritually dead corpse to life (Boice and Ryken, Doctrines of Grace, 74).

Man is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). He cannot make himself new, or create new life in himself. He must be born of God. Then, with the new nature of God, he sees Christ for who he really is, and freely receives Christ for all that he is. The two acts (new birth and faith) are so closely connected that in experience we cannot distinguish them. God begets us anew and the first glimmer of life in the newborn child is faith (Piper, Five Points, 35).

The Reformed view … teaches that before a person can choose Christ … he must be born again … one does not first believe and then become reborn. … A cardinal doctrine of Reformed theology is the maxim, “Regeneration precedes faith” (Sproul, Chosen by God, 10, 72).

A man is not regenerated because he has first believed in Christ, but he believes in Christ because has been regenerated (Pink, The Sovereignty of God).

The Calvinist says that life must precede faith, and is logically the cause of faith. Faith did not cause the new birth, the new birth caused faith (Cole, “Which Comes First In Conversion–Life or Faith?”).

Calvinists put the new birth before faith, since they believe that spiritually dead humans cannot exercise faith and, therefore, need to be born again before they can believe (Olson, Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism, 39).

… Regeneration logically must initiate faith (MacArthur, Faith Works, 62).

Reformed theologians … place regeneration before faith, pointing out that the Holy Spirit must bring new life before the sinner can by God’s enabling exercise faith and accept Jesus Christ (Killen, “Regeneration,” 1449).

The reformed view of predestination teaches that before a person can choose Christ his heart must be changed. He must be born again … one does not first believe, then become reborn. … In regeneration, God changes our hearts. He gives us a new disposition, a new inclination. He plants a desire for Christ in our hearts. We can never trust Christ for our salvation unless we first desire Him. This is why we said earlier that regeneration precedes faith (Sproul, Chosen by God, 72, 118).

A man must be born again in order to exercise faith (Wells, Faith, 58).

The Reformers taught not only that regeneration does precede faith but also that it must precede faith. Because of the moral bondage of the unregenerate sinner, he cannot have faith until he is changed internally by the operative, monergistic work of the Holy Spirit. Faith is regeneration’s fruit, not its cause (Sproul, Willing to Believe, 23).

[6] See http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/reformed/regenera.htm

249 thoughts on “Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

      1. Regeneration is a sovereign work of God (Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3-8; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:3) a radical work or total transformation (Ezek. 36:26-27; 1 Jn. 3:9) not just an addition…The SOURCE of regeneration is Christ (1 Pet 1:3; Eph 1:3, 2:4, 4:24; 2 Cor 5:17) The AGENT of regeneration is the Holy Spirit (Jn. 3:3-8; Titus 3:5) The INSTRUMENT of regeneration is the Word of God (Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23, 25) which precedes and causes faith (Jn 6:63-65, 1 jn 5:1, Eph. 2:5; Col. 2:13)

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      2. The following quotes hit the crux of the issue: whether Christ alone saves or whether salvation is synergistic cooperation of man and God. This is still extremely relevant for today’s Christian, for many of us carry the unbiblical assumption that Erasmus held, which wrongly concludes any command from God to believe or obey the gospel, must somewhow imply the moral ability to to do so. Large numbers of evangelicals today make this same jump in unaided logic and build a whole theology on it but as Dr. Luther said to Erasmus, “when you are finished with all your commands and exhortations … I’ll write Ro.3:20 over the top of it all” (“…through the law comes knowledge of sin.”). In other words, the commands exist to reveal not our ability but rather our inability, and this moral impotency does not take away our responsibility to obey.

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      3. The need is not to refute those verses, as Scripture cannot be refuted, but to recognize that you have made a start to addressing this issue and now need to progress further and incorporate a great many other verses that speak to this issue. Much has been written on this subject and your efforts are a good start for someone seeking to divorce himself from what has been done and to investigate the issue with fresh eyes unencumbered by what has gone before. Very little can be accomplished by quoting only a few selected verses because you see them supporting that which you believe. You started the process; keep going.

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      4. rhutchin,

        You’re correct in stating there are still more verses which clearly teach faith precedes regeneration. Not sure why you want more texts which disproves I was wondering if someone had some that teach regeneration preceding faith. I don’t know of any do you? I noticed Brian listed some verses but didn’t give any explanation as to why he believes they teach regeneration preceding faith. In fact some of those he listed actually are some of the other verses which teach faith preceding regeneration.

        If there are several verses which clearly support faith preceding regeneration and there are none that clearly support regeneration preceding faith, which one of the two positions should one hold? I believe the answer comes down to whether the Bible is the sole rule for faith and practice or is the WCF.

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      5. I always see this comment by you Professor, and i wonder is he talking about the verses of scripture in the article. If you are I agree with every one of them. For example:

        1 Timothy 1:16

        “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.”

        The order clearly laid out is as follows:

        “…those who would believe in him…”
        “…may receive eternal life

        But before that happens above which I believe with perfectly, one has to be quickened and make spiritually alive first. a spiritually dead man has no ability to do anything pleasing to the Lord. Those in the flesh (sinner the wicked the unsaved) cannot do anything pleasing to God. Repentance and Faith are pleasing to God. I will never understand why the the non-calvinist cannot understand this. That is the Spirit who gives life the flesh profits nothing. We are born again by the Spirit’s renewal and Christ’s quickening which are one in the same.

        Maybe I am just misunderstanding

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      6. “Regeneration is the fountain; sanctification is the river.” – J. Sidlow Baxter

        “…since you have been born again [by the agency of the Spirit], not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God [instrument]” 1 Peter 1:23

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  1. Thanks for this thorough post on the topic. This was the primary reason I left Calvinism. By comparing Wayne Grudem’s teaching on regeneration preceding faith to what I was reading in John’s gospel at that time, I had to reject this doctrine based on a plain reading of many scriptures.

    Personally, I couldn’t make sense of how a logical order could contradict a chronological order. If the logical order is regeneration first, then it made sense that the chronological order must also be so. Regardless though, I only found more proof that faith led to regeneration. The reasoning I heard from my then pastor in support of many verses which supposedly proved regeneration preceded faith were often a stretch (e.g. 1 John 5:1).

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    1. Thanks for this post Gene.
      I always enjoy bumping into Christians who have come out of Calvinism because they have an “insiders” understanding of the socialization processes inherent within the system. As a post-Calvinist, to what do you attribute their perception and interpretation of scripture?

      Would you, for example, say that it starts with a philosophical presupposition that everything is meticulously causally determined by God. And that concept essentially functions as canon for them, and therefore becomes a lens through which all scripture is interpreted?
      I’m sure you’ve had much time to ponder these things, and would appreciate your thoughts.
      Thanks!

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      1. br.d asks, ‘As a post-Calvinist, to what do you attribute their perception and interpretation of scripture? Would you, for example, say that it starts with a philosophical presupposition that everything is meticulously causally determined by God.”

        To understand Calvinism start with God is omniscient – God knew from eternity past that He would create the universe, and God knew the names of those who would be saved and those who would be lost and everything else. Then introduce the notion that God is sovereign (AW Pink’s book on this would be a good read). The normal non-Calvinist responds to omniscience and sovereignty by concluding, “This would mean everything is meticulously causally determined by God.” Well, Yes. Of course, this does not negate the freedom of people to act within the constraints of their sinful natures.

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      2. BR.D, sorry for the way late response. I don’t get on WP much any more.

        You said, “As a post-Calvinist, to what do you attribute their perception and interpretation of scripture?”
        —-I think the reason varies, just as it does for any theological position. Sometimes it might be because we are such avid fans of a Piper or a MacArthur as sound teachers, so we adopt their soteriology (I kind of did this with R.C. Sproul back in 2006). Sometimes you can start with a philosophical stance and it might color the way you interpret Scripture, or vice versa. I think a major reason for younger people interpreting Scripture with a Calvinist soteriology is largely because of the way non-Calvinist theologies have been wrongly presented and misconstrued. Thankfully there are sites like this, as well as books, that properly explain alternatives to Calvinism.

        “Would you, for example, say that it starts with a philosophical presupposition that everything is meticulously causally determined by God. And that concept essentially functions as canon for them, and therefore becomes a lens through which all scripture is interpreted?”
        —-See above thoughts, but also I think there are ways we all see things which we cannot possibly view otherwise, and so we do read Scripture through that lens. But not always. For example, I cannot possibly understand the origin of the universe apart from God. Even if someone somehow were to scientifically prove that the Bible was written as a hoax back in 75 AD or something and found out all the old civilizations were in on it and they killed all the detractors and rewrote all the history books overnight, I would still have to believe in a Creator. I cannot conceptualize it any other way, and I think that atheism is as far fetched as Bigfoot or Ancient Aliens or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. No one will ever convince me otherwise. So yeah, we can come to Scripture bringing down our fist because we are determinists, or as Free-willers, and then interpret accordingly. I think it’s a dangerous move to do that though.

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  2. It seems to me that the Calvinist teaching of regeneration preceding faith not only contradicts the Bible but it denies the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation and it misrepresents what regeneration is.

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    1. “…it misrepresents what regeneration is.”

      In making a statement like this, it would further substantive discussion if you would provide an accurate definition/explanation of the term, “regeneration,” showing from the Scriptures how you came to this understanding.

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  3. Don’t forget baptism in the order.

    “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    Gotta get baptized to have forgiveness of sins. It’s preceding forgiveness, right?

    No offense, really. But the verses you say haven’t been refuted…have been presented in a sophomoric manner. They do not produce the evidence you think.

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    1. Hi Dizerner. No I don’t have a specific verse that states “regeneration precedes conversion. And the main thing I was pointing out is that I don’t think these verses listed prove the reverse order.

      At the end of the day, the order of salvation (and in this case zooming in on one part of the overall order) is a theological construct based on other doctrines. So in the case, Reformed folks’ view of man’s fallen condition dictates a new birth before conversion order. Now there are verses and passages that seem to agree with the Reformed order. But there are no smoking gun verses, just as I think there are no smoking gun verses for the non Reformed view.

      So what we end up doing is throwing verses back and forth, which really doesn’t get us very far since our respective presuppositions dictate where we come out on the issue.

      Kind of like baptism by immersion only. Baptists can’t actually prove it.

      🙂

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      1. Les,

        You post provides a perfect example and explanation as to why this disagreement will never be settled as long as people hold differing theologies.

        First Les you admit that:

        “No I don’t have a specific verse that states “regeneration precedes conversion.”

        See for those who want to be “Biblicists” only holding to what the bible declares, if there is no specific verse that states it, we won’t want to believe it. Many Baptists consider themselves to be Biblicists, so we cannot accept a doctrine for which there are no explicit verses!

        Les then you made an important statement:

        “At the end of the day, the order of salvation (and in this case zooming in on one part of the overall order) is a theological construct based on other doctrines. So in the case, Reformed folks’ view of man’s fallen condition dictates a new birth before conversion order.”

        Ahh so regeneration precedes faith does not come from direct scripture but from your “order of salvation” (i.e. a theological construct determines your view).

        And where does this theological construct come from?

        “So what we end up doing is throwing verses back and forth, which really doesn’t get us very far since our respective presuppositions dictate where we come out on the issue.”

        Ah, so it is your presuppositions that develop your theological constructs which then dictate your interpretation of verses. And as long as people operate from differing presuppositions, they will never agree on theologies or the interpretation of biblical texts. So there you have it, that is why Calvinists and Traditionalists will never agree on whether or not regeneration precedes faith.

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      2. Robert,

        Yes I admit I don’t have a specific verse that states “regeneration precedes conversion. But we all recognize there are some doctrines where we don’t have a specific chapter and verse.

        And yes from our order of salvation, which also is a theological construct. At least we agree that our respective presuppositions dictate how things shake out on something like regeneration and faith. I think it depends on our view of how the fall affected man.

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      3. Les,

        “Yes I admit I don’t have a specific verse that states “regeneration precedes conversion. But we all recognize there are some doctrines where we don’t have a specific chapter and verse.”

        A couple of problems with the statements here.

        First, I function as a Biblicist (meaning I don’t want to hold doctrines that I cannot point to actual verses to substantiate) and my position would be considered Traditionalist and Arminian as I hold beliefs held by both of these two groups (beliefs that I CAN POINT TO actual verses in support, e.g. I hold the Arminian belief that Jesus died for the whole world and I point to 1 Jn. 2:2 in support, and other verses as well, I also hold to the Traditionalist belief that we cannot lose our salvation, and you know these verses so I will not cite any here).

        Second, when you say we all hold some doctrines where we don’t have a specific chapter and verse, is not true of me. I won’t hold it unless I do have a specific chapter and verse. Now it is true that I hold to the trinity (the term is not stated in the bible but the chapter and verses explicitly state that the Father, Son, and Spirit are God and that there is only one God): but that is not the same as holding to a doctrine that I cannot give any chapter and verse support for! 🙂

        “And yes from our order of salvation, which also is a theological construct.”

        I am not really into a fixed “order of salvation” because even in the Bible there are exceptions to the general rule (e.g. the general rule is that you become a believer and then receive the Spirit who indwells you immediately from the moment you become a believer, but in Acts this was not true of the Samaritans who were saved first and received the indwelling Spirit later). I will say that the basic order appears to be that a person must first experience the preconversion work of the Spirit, then they make the choice to trust the Lord, then they are saved, receive the Spirit, are adopted into God’s family, are justified, forgiven of their sins. Then they experience sanctification, and lastly glorification.

        “At least we agree that our respective presuppositions dictate how things shake out on something like regeneration and faith.”

        Actually that is not quite accurate, though I know what you are saying. Take you and I for example, your presuppositions do cause you to hold Reformed theology and Reformed interpretations of scripture. My presupposition is to be a Biblicist, whatever the Bible reveals I am to believe and obey. Because I am a Biblicist I end up with positions not held by everyone (e.g. I see no verses for infant baptism, so I hold the Baptist position, I see verses teaching the necessity of the work of the Spirit so I hold to inability, and yet my conception of inability is not the same as that of a “classical Arminian”, etc.)

        “I think it depends on our view of how the fall affected man.”

        This is part of it as different people have different conclusions regarding the fall and its effect on man (some believe the fall effected man by eliminating his free will, I don’t believe that, some believe the fall effected man by all descendants having the guilt of Adam on them, I don’t believe that, etc. etc.).

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Robert,

        I don’t mean to say that we don’t have any verses which we think we support regeneration/faith order. The very first thing I said, or meant, is that there is no verse that says, “regeneration precedes faith.” We do have verses that seem to say our view is right. But so do you and others. We are all trying as best we can to understand what the scriptures say. Both sides think they have verses to back it up.

        But, I still think even before that our presupposition about man necessarily affects how we interpret particular verses.

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  4. In spite of all the Scriptures presented for this issue, two important texts were left out (at least, I didn’t see them); and they are Ephesians 2:8 that states: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Since God has to give us faith; at what point does He give us the faith kin order to believe on Christ to be saved (Acts 16:31); BEFORE we have life to receive the faith; or afterwards. Can a dead person extend his hand for one to take him out of the grace? Then Philippians puts it like this: “For to you it is given in the behalf of Christ,… to believe on Him.” Note that faith has to be given to us in order to believe on Christ. When does this transaction take place: When we are dead spiritually; or are we able to do in the flesh? Another Scripture that is very relevant to this issue is 2 Thessalonians 3:2, where it says: “For all men have not faith;” which literally can be translated as that “the reason is that not everyone has faith” since they are since they are unreasonable (out of place) and wicked human beings.” Sinful man in his natural state, or in his sinful nature has no ability to believe unless something happens to them in order to believe; and even this has to be by grace (Acts 18:27) “Which had believed through grace;” that is, grace is the channel through which this believers believed. To me this tells me that God of HIs grace had to enabled them to believe; and I would that life had to exist, not only to receive it, but also to put in action, in order to believe in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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      1. Ernest,

        Ernest your statement that:

        “Faith is not a gift. It is man’s response to God’s revelation.”

        Is not nuanced enough. I think I know what you want to say (i.e. that **saving faith** in which we choose to trust in Christ alone, “is man’s response to God’s revelation”) but your statement as it stands is too broad and false because according to Paul there is a “gift of faith” which he alludes to in 1 Cor. 12:9: “ to another faith, by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,” So there ***is*** a gift of faith that is given to only some believers by the Holy Spirit. But this is speaking of the spiritual gift, not saving faith that every believer exercises.

        Your response is to the Calvinist claim that Eph. 2: 8 says that faith is a gift (they are attempting to proof text from Eph. 2:8 to the conclusion that faith is not of ourselves but is a gift, a gift that God gives only to some).

        The best response is not to argue that there is no **gift of faith** (there is, see 1 Cor. 12:9), but to argue that ***saving faith*** in which we do respond to God is a freely made choice and that Eph. 2:8 is not saying that saving faith is a gift in which our choice is not involved. Rather it is saying (this is more clear in the Greek) that salvation is a gift (this is a point of Greek grammar in the passage).
        Three helpful articles on this are:

        https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/716-is-faith-the-gift-of-ephesians-2-8

        http://faithalone.org/journal/1994i/J12-94c.htm

        http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/reformed/godgift.htm

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      2. Ernest,]

        Ernest your statement that:

        “Faith is not a gift. It is man’s response to God’s revelation.”

        Is not nuanced enough. I think I know what you want to say (i.e. that **saving faith** in which we choose to trust in Christ alone, “is man’s response to God’s revelation”) but your statement as it stands is too broad and false because according to Paul there is a “gift of faith” which he alludes to in 1 Cor. 12:9: “ to another faith, by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,” So there ***is*** a gift of faith that is given to only some believers by the Holy Spirit. But this is speaking of the spiritual gift, not saving faith that every believer exercises.

        Your response is to the Calvinist claim that Eph. 2: 8 says that faith is a gift (they are attempting to proof text from Eph. 2:8 to the conclusion that faith is not of ourselves but is a gift, a gift that God gives only to some).

        The best response is not to argue that there is no **gift of faith** (there is, see 1 Cor. 12:9), but to argue that ***saving faith*** in which we do respond to God is a freely made choice and that Eph. 2:8 is not saying that saving faith is a gift in which our choice is not involved. Rather it is saying (this is more clear in the Greek) that salvation is a gift (this is a point of Greek grammar in the passage).
        A helpful articles on this are:

        http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/reformed/godgift.htm

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    1. Whether faith is a gift or not is obviously a difference among us. Reformed types refer to Eph. 2:8-9. Non Reformed interpret this verse differently. John MacArthur, no Greek slouch, says,

      “Our response in salvation is faith, but even that is not of ourselves [but is] the gift of God. Faith is nothing that we do in our own power or by our own resources. In the first place we do not have adequate power or resources. More than that, God would not want us to rely on them even if we had them. Otherwise salvation would be in part by our own works, and we would have some ground to boast in ourselves. Paul intends to emphasize that even faith is not from us apart from God’s giving it.

      Some have objected to this interpretation, saying that faith (pistis) is feminine, while that (touto) is neuter. That poses no problem, however, as long as it is understood that that does not refer precisely to the noun faith but to the act of believing. Further, this interpretation makes the best sense of the text, since if that refers to by grace you have been saved through faith (that is, to the whole statement), the adding of and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God would be redundant, because grace is defined as an unearned act of God. If salvation is of grace, it has to be an undeserved gift of God. Faith is presented as a gift from God in 2 Peter 1:1, Philippians 1:29, and Acts 3:16.”

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  5. Pastor Flowers writes, “Calvinists say they believe men are “responsible” but they do not mean what most people think when they hear the word “responsible” (able-to-respond freely and thus guilty for that response).”

    To avoid confusion, you should say that Calvinists believe that people are accountable to God for their behavior. They are responsible in the negative direction – able to freely choose to sin. For God to judge people, do they also have to be responsible in the positive direction – able to choose not to sin? Calvinists say, No. To be accountable to God only requires that a person sin, not that he be able to do something to undo that sin.

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    1. Thanks for bring up the word responsible. I have seen this several times, ““responsible” (able-to-respond freely.” Other assertions or uses of responsible include, Response-able. But that is not what the word means really.

      Webster: “having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one’s job or role.”

      The etymology, “1590s, “answerable” (to another, for something), from obsolete French responsible (13c., Modern French responsable, as if from Latin *responsabilis), from Latin respons-, past participle stem of respondere “to respond” (see respond). Meaning “accountable for one’s actions” is attested from 1640s; that of “reliable, trustworthy” is from 1690s. Retains the sense of “obligation” in the Latin root word. Related: Responsibly.”

      I think this is another of those things where the word doesn’t mean what our non Cal friends think it means. Accountable, obligated, etc. are better words to describe it. Not ability.

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      1. I’d actually agree people are accountable for something they can’t help (being born sinful). There do seem to be teachings in Scripture that a corresponding greater grace or light or truth, brings more judgment to those who reject it. The two ideas can both be true, and that leads to Arminianism rather than Traditionalism I’d say.

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      2. Excellent Reply….and will not be easily refuted, maybe an attempted response, but no refutation. That right definition is not be used on this site and needs to be admitted and corrected, I could just be tradition, I would terrible hate think it it due to being a little disingenuous. But I will believe the best about our Cal-friends until I know otherwise. I look forward to Professor Flowers retraction concerning the manner, understand and definition he has used with the word “responsible. We are all trying to work through this by the help and grace of God. None of us are perfect, we all have misunderstandings on some things in God’s word, but there comes a time for the truth in Christ to prevail when we are wrong.

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      3. Hi Kevin – Here is what I found at dictionary.com for the word “responsible.”

        1. answerable or accountable, as for something within one’s power, control, or management (often followed by to or for):
        He is responsible to the president for his decisions.
        2. involving accountability or responsibility, as in having the power to control or manage:
        promoted to a responsible position in the firm.

        The point Leighton and others have been trying to make is the “response-able” is a natural part of the definition of “responsible”. Accountability to God’s justice naturally includes that it is “for something within one’s power, control, or management… as in having the power to control or manage.”

        Of course, if Calvinism is true, God is going to hold either you or me accountable for not accepting the truth of this matter of what “responsible” means even though He decided before creation that each of us would be irresistibly hardened in our views of what that word means! 🙂

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      4. Hey Brian, good to hear from you. I will answer this fully tomorrow, but that is very synergistic of you and arbitrary to pick out the definition you think Leighton is trying to make it say. I do not need to go to the dictionary Brian to know that sinful wicked sinners have no ability to obey or believe in God apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. God haters who take love and pleasure in their sins, (voluntary sinful wills) do not have the ability to do what the law of God requires of them, Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. The law of God’s commands are not what man can do, or have the ability to do, but what they ought to do. Mankind lost that ability when Adam fell into sin and spiritual death spread to all humanity resulting in spiritual inability to do anything pleasing towards God or their salvation,. John 3:20 only strengthens and illuminates this fact:

        John 3:20 -Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

        Right here in this verse Brian, it tells us spiritually dead sinners will not come to the light of the gospel because they hate it. There wills are in a voluntary bondage to a love and pleasure of sin. This verse says they LOVE the darkness and will not come to the light of the gospel. He that commits sin as a way of life is wholly within the grip of sin and it also dominates their will. That is unless they are spiritually made alive while still dead in tresspasses and sins. (ephesians 2:1) Then they begin to hate sin. THey come to the light of the gospel. Whom the son sets free is free indeed. A complete misunderstanding on your last statements Brian, God never actively tempts or causes someone to sin. He may permit you in you as a free agent to indulge in sinful activity as a Christian, but God is not to blame. Even Christians can do nothing good or pleasing on their own, “Jesus said without me you can do nothing,) (John 15) nothing is not a little something, meaning your will is not in a neutral state and free from the effects of sin and able to be pleasing or come to faith in Christ.. Read the two verses again I quoted. A sinner wholly in the grip of sin and dominated by its power will do according to his nature, a sinner’s nature is sin, so a sinner will sin. A sinner hates the light of the gospel and will not come to the light.

        Brian said and I quote:Accountability to God’s justice naturally includes that it is “for something within one’s power, control, or management… as in having the power to control or manage.”

        I ask are you a peligian, do you believe you can obey God apart from the Spirit’s power (that includes the believing) without God’s grace. Sure sounds like it. Those who are in the flesh CAN DO NOTHING TO BE PLEASING TO GOD AND THE WICKED LOVE DARKNESS AND HATE THE LIGHT AND WILL NOT COME TO THE LIGHT…..Oh yes, quite the contrary my brother, the sinner although is “not able” will still be held accountable for his works as we all will. The revealed will of God’s requirements are what we ought to do and obligated to do, not what we can and are able to do. Show me where Brian any Reformed Christian has taught (maybe a few in error) that God decided that each one of us before creation would be irresistibly hardened at birth? Show me references please and the scripture we use to teach this accusation and mispresentaton you have made? Also please clarify what you mean by it along with the references and scriptures we use to teach it. I believe you are falsely misrepresenting us and that is sinful and disingenuous. Not just one or two, show the majority of Reformed Calvinist believe this silly nonsense accusation you have made. How is it you guys are making your arguments from dictionary.com and we are arguing our beliefs from scripture…..Hmmmmmm

        God bless

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      5. I think Kevin you missed the connection of why I gave you the definition of “responsible” from dictionary.com. You had just applauded Les for the historical review of the definition of that word.

        And you seemed to concur with Les’ conclusion that Leighton was wrong to add a sense of ability to the meaning of that word. Les was not discussing any Scripture. I just presented evidence that the word “responsible” does include ability with accountability.

        Do you really think a Calvinist should say a reprobate from before creation is “responsible” for rejecting God’s mercy, when most people who hear that word think you mean that it was in his power to accept it when he rejected it? Maybe God declares them “guilty” for that rejection, but many do not think they are personally “responsible” for that guilt since they were never personally able to accept that mercy which they rejected.

        We have talked about specific Scriptures in the past. In this instance, I was specifically discussing the line of reasoning concerning that one word. I don’t think you should have criticized the lack of Scripture discussion. Friends don’t place undue expectations on each other!😉

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      6. Brian I think in due respect my brother you missed my entire response or did not read it carefully enough where the Word of God’s Divine Revelation, not a dictionary, shows the “Total Depravity of Man, every part of man is permeated with sin, including his nature that involves his will. All this leads to “Total Inability” Once again my brother in Christ. it is not what we ought to do, or are obligated to do (But we still are), but the inability of what we cannot do. God commands all men everywhere to repent but they do not have that ability due to Adam’ sinful transgression (Original Sin), where spiritual death spread to all men men (Romans 5) leading to Total Depravity, ( I can load you down with scriptures of Total Depravity. I gave you one in John 3 where evil wicked God haters who are voluntary slaves of sin and take great love and pleasure in that sin hate the Christ who is the light of the gospel and will not come to the light, and have a great love and pleasure while enjoying and engaging in the darkness of their sin. I also gave you one scripture on “Total Inability” Romans 8:7-8 where man in the flesh is hostile to God, hates God and is not subject to the law of God and cannot do the things written within the Holy law of God.(His commands of Holiness) Continuing with, “that no one in the flesh can do anything pleasing to God” I can give you many more scriptures on the “inability of sinful man (the one in John 3 illuminates this truth also).

        Even “Repentance is a gift of God” in regeneration and is not guaranteed to all except to the elect that Paul endures all things for that they might obtain Salvation, (2 Timothy 2:10)

        2 Timothy 2:25 – correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps will grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

        Perhaps, not certain, based on God’s Holy Purpose and Divine Intent from all eternity.

        You see Brian, I can correct you being in sinful opposition to God’s word, but is it not a guarantee that God will grant you repentance from your sin. The verse says, “perhaps, (it is uncertain, but maybe) God will grant Brian repentance leading him to a knowledge of the truth.”

        That is why the law is to be given, to show people that they are sinners in the hands of an angry, wrathful God, and then preach the Gospel of saving grace in Christ indiscriminately to all without exception, letting God do the discriminating, saving His elect according to His providential timing he decreed from all eternity for those elected in Christ and predestined to be saved in Christ in time and history.

        The word “responsible” does not give or say anything about spiritually dead sinners having the ability or power to do anything that is pleasing to God or toward their salvation. The word of God rejects this presumed man-made assumption. It is all of Grace. It is not what thus saith dictionary.com but what saith the Lord in His Divine Revelation of the Holy Word of God.

        Man fell into sin by His own self-determination and will and they continue to do so. Brian. Remember, God is the Potter and we are the clay, he has the right to make from that same lump of clay vessels of honor and dishonor. To have mercy on whom he will have mercy and harden whom he will harden. There are “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction ” and vessels of glory before hand, in advance in glory.

        Just like God raised up Pharaoh for one purpose and that was to display his power in Pharaoh ( to destroy him, he was a reprobate) that he might proclaim His name in all the earth.

        Romans 9:16 – 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

        17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

        18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

        19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”

        20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”

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

        22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?

        23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—

        24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

        25 As he says in Hosea:

        “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
        and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,

        Sorry Brian you have a hard time with what God word says and is Holy will has revealed. But from that same lump of clay that represents the mass of humanity (not temporary hardened Israel, you gotta be kidding me) God will effectually call by the power of the Holy Spirit and save Jews and Gentiles.

        I did make a mistake in your responding to you yesterday and for that I am ask for forgiveness I am sorry, although this might be your belief also

        When you spoke of “reprobates”my thoughts went immediately to Leighton Flowers saying, “Calvinist believe babies are “judicially hardened” from birth” He asked Dr. White that in the Q & A session of the Romans 9 debate and Dr. White told Flowers that was a complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the Reformed Soteriology position. Then Dr. White preceded to explain the difference between “judicial hardening” and “Total Depravity” and afterwards Leighton just kept saying over and over and over, like I said, you believe in “judicial hardening of babies from birth.” Finally, Dr White called him out on it and told him that he would be complaining if he had acted in that disrespectful manner during the Q & A session. Leighton Flowers should have just accepted that what he had believed was different than what the Calvinist believe about babies born at birth. That is what the debates are about, is clearing up misrepresentations and misunderstandings. Not to keep saying your opponent is not telling the truth after he has explained it to you.

        Psalms 58:3 -The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth.

        We believe babies are “wicked” (from the womb) as God’s word says. That being sinfully depraved not judicially hardened, two different theological thoughts.

        But you were talking about the “reprobates from eternity” I am sorry Brian that is what the word of God teaches. I could go into this really deep, but let’s not forget Pharaoh, the very reason he was born and WHY GOD RAISED HIM UP, GOD’S DOING AND PURPOSE.

        The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. (Prov 16:4 KJV)

        Yes, Proverbs 16:4 clearly and as I read out of it what it says, “the Lord has made “ALL THINGS FOR HIMSELF”, (EVEN, YES EVEN!!!! THE WICKED FOR THE DAY OF EVIL!!!)

        Then we have Jacob and Esau, knowing God chose Jacob “before they were even born” and either had done “evil or good”, God chose Jacob that His purpose of Election might stand, (Romans 9:11)

        Romans 9:13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

        God chose and loved Jacob before he was born, and having nothing to do with him being evil or good, because we know Jacob was very evil.

        But Esau, God hated, rejected for eternal destruction, before he was born or had done anything good or bad God rejected and hated Esau and Loved and Chose Esau.

        There is more that can be added to this doctrine of Reprobation in God’s Holy Word, a good source for you to read would be John Bunyan assertion of Reprobation. I am sorry Brian that you are having trouble understanding God’s word that he did elect in Christ some individual to be predestined to be saved in time and some he determined not to save. He passes over them and does not show them mercy, repentance or saving grace.

        But who are you Oh human being (Brian) to talk back to God.Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for honor and some for dishonor?

        I will speak and respond (other than what I choose to) no more on this subject as you know my mind is set and fixed on one thing at this time, Definite Atonement and the Divine Decrees of God that undergird this doctrine of Holy Scripture.

        BTW, your definition or Responsible, with what verse or passage of Scriptures were you relating and connecting it with. I am not against using the dictionary and just giving your opinions I just want verification from God’s word, at least an attempt. No not an attempt, a strong consistent argument attempt!!

        So I reject your rebuke in the love of Christ of putting “undue expectations” on you my friend. I know you don’t like me to say this but it is necessary here. You are a Bible Scholar, I “expect” more of you than just your opinionated word and dictionary.com. Yes I still in the love of Christ criticize your lack of use of God’s word when talking of such important matters (spiritual life and death) So I cast your rebuke in love away from as an intimidation factor and a possible debate tactic. You can use your dictionary and your words and opinions, but it is the Word of the Living God we are all discussing here. “Undue expectation,” for asking for evidence of your opinions, words and dictionary definitions? Really Brian? I love you Brother in Christ, but will not respond any longer to your post if you will not engage with and contend for the faith of God’s word once delivered to the saints, God’s Holy Word and the Gospel of Christ with a consistent argument from God’s holy word. I have not meant to offend you, just responding in kind to the end your response that was unnecessary and unwarranted.

        Your friend in Christ Kevin

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  6. You should check out theearstohear.blogspot and his article on regeneration precedes faith in time. If you could scripturaly and logically refute him on this matter, I’ll repent of my belief that regeneration precedes faith

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    1. Rusty,

      Could you be a bit more specific as to which article you want read. I went to the web site but I’m not sure where or which article you mean.

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      1. Dizerner,

        Thanks for the web site. Unfortunately it’s big on philosophy, and short on exegesis. Not only does he not exegete the few texts he believes supports his case, but he doesn’t even try to refute the many which prove faith precedes regeneration.

        Regeneration preceding faith may make for an interesting philosophy, but it certainly is not a Biblical one.

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      2. Don, just now saw your comment. Did you leave a comment for theearstohear asserting that “it was big on philosophy”?

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  7. But ability is exactly what we are talking about. Ability to choose to either continue to follow their sinful desire or to choose to allow God to regenerate them.
    “For God to judge people, do they also have to be responsible in the positive direction – able to choose not to sin?”
    They have to be able to choose to fall on God
    mercy instead of rejecting him. That’s the issue here. If we don’t have that ability, then God is unjust in punishing those who don’t respond to his leading, because they can’t respond.

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    1. “But ability is exactly what we are talking about. Ability to choose to either continue to follow their sinful desire or to choose to allow God to regenerate them.”

      That is what is contested. My point was/is that trying to use “response-ability” from responsibility is an error and should not be done. It doesn’t mean that.

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      1. Dizerner,

        “I’d say it can mean that…” Well I haven’t been able to find such a definition or etymology so far. And BTW it is not Calvinists who use it. It is non Calvinists who sometimes conflate man’s responsibility with natural ability.

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  8. So, you can be responsible for something that you can’t not do?
    “No. To be accountable to God only requires that a person sin, not that he be able to do something to undo that sin.”
    Seriously? Again, how does this jibe with a just God?
    Alrighty then. If it means “accountable for one’s actions”, I’m not seeing any practical difference. I can’t be held accountable for something I have no ability to prevent.

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    1. Absolutely you can be responsible to God for something you cannot do. Which of the 10 commandments do you want to start with as we examine responsibility and inability to do?

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      1. Sure, and Abraham was justified by faith. So he still had the ability to “do” something about his inability to obey perfectly. He, like us, could, in a sense, trust in Christ to obey for him, even though Christ had not yet come. So, regardless of when, we are not without the ability to do something about our inability. Now, I know, someone will scream ” Justification by Works!” But, Biblically, faith is not a work. What is God holding us responsible for? Our response to Him. Thank goodness He knows the heart, and doesn’t judge us by our works, point taken.

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    2. I’d say we can be accountable for being sinners, even if we are victims of Adam’s making us sinners. Otherwise you are saying “justice” is God owing us mercy, and I don’t think that’s what justice is.

      We don’t want Justice. Justice is the one thing we surely do not want; as the old preacher’s story goes, “Lady you don’t need justice, you need mercy.”

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      1. Dizerner,

        Perhaps you have heard the expression, one that I sometimes use myself: “Don’t ask for strict justice, you will get hell. Ask for mercy and you may be saved.”

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  9. Les,

    I understand what you want to say (i.e. that sometimes God commands us to do something which we do not obey perfectly), but the 10 commandments is not a good example of this principle at all:

    “Absolutely you can be responsible to God for something you cannot do. Which of the 10 commandments do you want to start with as we examine responsibility and inability to do?”

    Take the command not to kill (literally in the Hebrew not to **murder**). So far in my life I have not yet murdered anyone though I have come close to killing a few people (in self defense situations). So I have kept THAT commandment (as undoubtedly have most of the people posting here, I think very few here have murdered someone, if any has). I am responsible for obeying that commandment and so far I have. So your claim God holds us responsible for doing something that we cannot do and the 10 commandments are an example of this is not accurate. Yes I know what Jesus said about murder in the heart, but you made the blanket statement that the 10 commandments as stated, are an example of your principle, when they are not.

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    1. Robert, I think the 10 commandments does work. As you said near the end, Jesus had more to say. His point was that it never has been JUST about the literal, physical killing of someone. The commandments have always also been about the heart.

      But even still, which of us has perfectly not coveted, lied, obeyed our parents, etc? Yet, that is what was/is expected and required. Command, and responsible to keep. But we never could.

      As my former seminary president (Dr. Gray Allison) used to say, “But God!” But God sent the only person who could and would obey perfectly in our stead.

      BTW, several times I have led people to Jesus beginning in Genesis and when talking about sin, I ask if they think they are such a sinner as to deserve hell and eternal damnation. They will usually say “I’n not THAT bad.” I take them to Exodus and talk thru the commandments and ask on each one if they have always ad ever kept them (also bringing Jesus’ NT statements about anger, lust, etc). God has been gracious to use that approach to allow me to lead several to Christ that way.

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      1. Les,

        I believe you are failing to make an important distinction.

        The commandments of God are given and He expects us to obey them (that is the issue of human responsibility to God).

        We also cannot obey perfectly and so the law/the commands of God functions as a tutor that leads us to Christ. How so? Because our disobedience shows us that we fall short of God’s standard which is perfection. Once we see we fall short and that we cannot be perfectly obedient we also see that falling short is sin and so we are sinners by our imperfect obedience to God’s commands. This leads us to Christ because then we see that we cannot save ourselves by perfectly keeping the law (as no one keeps it perfectly) we can only be saved through trusting in Christ (i.e. that His work saves us rather than our efforts at being obedient to Gods’ commands. Sometimes religious people are the most hardened against the gospel because they believe they are saved by their keeping of the commands of God (since they save themselves by their obedience, their religion, they don’t need Christ).

        “Robert, I think the 10 commandments does work. As you said near the end, Jesus had more to say. His point was that it never has been JUST about the literal, physical killing of someone. The commandments have always also been about the heart.”

        They “work” in their function of showing us how we fall short of God’s perfect standard, that is again the function of the law as tutor that leads us to Christ.

        “But even still, which of us has perfectly not coveted, lied, obeyed our parents, etc? Yet, that is what was/is expected and required. Command, and responsible to keep. But we never could.”

        You don’t have to convince me that we fall short of perfect obedience. One of the points that I often make when evangelizing is that God grades on a curve (perfect or you fail, since we all fall short of perfection our score is a failure no matter how good we are or how well we have obeyed His commands, God does not grade on a curve, it is pass or fail, since we all fail, our only way of being saved is if we are forgiven for our many times of being disobedient).

        “As my former seminary president (Dr. Gray Allison) used to say, “But God!” But God sent the only person who could and would obey perfectly in our stead.”

        Well that is similar to something that I say at times: On our own when it comes to God we are failures, but Jesus when it comes to God is the perfect score, if you can connect with him you can be saved.

        “BTW, several times I have led people to Jesus beginning in Genesis and when talking about sin, I ask if they think they are such a sinner as to deserve hell and eternal damnation. They will usually say “I’n not THAT bad.” I take them to Exodus and talk thru the commandments and ask on each one if they have always ad ever kept them (also bringing Jesus’ NT statements about anger, lust, etc). God has been gracious to use that approach to allow me to lead several to Christ that way.”

        Sounds like you use the approach of a friend of mine, Ray Comfort. Ray is a great evangelist and he uses the law to show people they are sinners. He has great tracts too, if you use tracts. Ray is a good guy that has helped a lot of people in their evangelistic efforts. Jesus used the Law to show people their sinfulness as well. And the Spirit does this in his preconversion work, he shows us our sinfulness, that God’s standard is perfection, we all fall short, on our own we are hell bound, but through Christ we can be saved.

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  10. Its both ironic and hypocritical for an Arminian to view the Calvinistic form of prevenient grace as unbiblical, and yet maintain the Arminian form of prevenient grace as biblical.

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    1. Phillip is just intentionally dense when he states:

      “Its both ironic and hypocritical for an Arminian to view the Calvinistic form of prevenient grace as unbiblical, and yet maintain the Arminian form of prevenient grace as biblical.”

      It is not hypocritical at all to say that you disagree with another person’s conception of something.
      There are in fact differing conceptions of prevenient grace.

      Some calvinists claim that a person must be regenerated first before they can believe. I reject this conception of grace for multiple reasons. But rejecting THAT conception of grace does not mean that we must reject all other conceptions of grace.

      The grace of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s heart and mind prior to their conversion, convicting of their sin, revealing Jesus to them, etc. etc. is a grace that occurs prior to their conversion, and this work of the Spirit is neither deserved or merited (hence it is perfectly valid to refer to it as “prevenient grace” which means “a grace that comes before”, comes before what? Conversion).

      To use another example where genuine believers hold differing conceptions of something, consider the conception of the millennium that differing believers hold to (the Amillennial conception of the millennium is very different from the Premillennial conception of the millennium, I reject the Amill conception and prefer the Premill conception, is that “hypocritical”? No. That is rejecting one conception of the millennium and endorsing and embracing another conception of the millennium. I view the Amillennial and Postmillennial conceptions of the millennium to be unbiblical, with the premillennial conception being biblical, of course others who hold the other views on the millennium would undoubtedly say the same thing in response to me, 🙂 none of this is “hypocritical” at all).

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    2. It’s the “irresistible” factor that makes all the difference. Annnd we went over “irresistibly” forcing a choice is not the same thing as irresistibly MAKING a choice for someone.

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      1. David,

        Its more than that. Take the classical Arminian notion that the sinner has to be released from the bondage of sin in order to believe. Olson writes….

        “According to classical Arminianism it is an operation of the Holy Spirit that frees the sinner’s will from bondage to sin and convicts, calls, illumines and enables the sinner to respond to the gospel call with repentance and faith (conversion).”

        Now reflect on the following…..

        Romans 6:17-18 (NKJV)…..
        But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin (by obeying or believing), you became slaves of righteousness.

        There are only two options. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. There is no middle ground. However, it appears the Arminian notion of prevenient grace puts the sinner in a neutral state; one in which he is neither a slave to sin nor a slave to righteousness. Yet the scripture make no mention of a neutral state.

        My point is simply there is no biblical evidence for either the Calvinistic notion of “regeneration precedes faith” (the Calvinistic version of prevenient grace) and there is no biblical evidence of lost sinners being put in a neutral state (released from the bondage of sin prior to conversion) that allows them to exercise their newly freed will to accept or reject Christ.

        I wish Arminians would scrutinize their own doctrine with the same tenacity in which they scrutinize the Calvinistic doctrine. And vice versa.

        Blessings, brother.

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      2. You misrepresent prevenient grace slightly, but considering I’ve written literally thousands of words on just on this blog alone, I’m surprised you think I have no Scriptures for it and don’t study it as seriously as I do Calvinism. I think the doctrine of prevenient grace is as solid as the doctrine of original sin. Plenty of solid Scriptural references for both. What I find however, is that for some reason unbeknownst to me, people can be so prejudiced against a certain idea, that even a forceful explanation of Scripture teaching something just goes right over their head like water off a duck’s back. I’ve not found it very profitable to talk to such a person, because when you lay out 20 Scriptures with a paragraph in detail word by word explaining each one, they’ll swipe aside the whole checkers board with their arm and say they won. See, I’m willing to listen and deliberate a doctrinal point someone wants to make, and even change my mind, but if someone is already not willing to do that what progress could ever be made? In my mind, no progress can be made. Even a valid and solid case will just be dismissed over and over and declared inadequate. Now I don’t think it’s anything near a life threatening state to believe or not believe many doctrines, although I think it’s better to be closer to good ones than bad ones. But what I’m talking about is fairness and openness to consider, not what one already knows to be false, but what the Word might actually be telling us. And when you say prevenient grace is a neutral place, I wouldn’t quite agree with that, except in the area of choice. In reality, if we look merely at externals both our beliefs will “look” the same outwards (a man is sinning, he hears about Christ, he believes, he becomes a Christian), but we are arguing about is not externals at all, but what goes on “under the hood,” what happens internally in the hearts of men that we cannot see. I do get a bit upset when someone says over and over there is no Scripture for something when I present quite forceful ones that a person simply won’t accept, and in that regard I think we all have to keep praying quite hard to overcome our own biases and hear the truth and not be misled into error.
        blessings

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      3. Dizerner,

        You really don’t understand where Phillip is coming from do you? His mind is made up that what he calls the Arminian view of prevenient grace is false and unbiblical. He is extremely prejudiced against Arminians and Arminian theology and things such as the concept of prevenient grace. So no matter what scripture you present, no matter what arguments you make, he just ignores them all. I used to do counter cult ministry and the non-Christian cultists were just like this (this is not to say he is not a believer, only that he is manifesting the same mentality that they do when they reject scripture and cling to what they have made up their minds on). When I respond to something that he says, I am not writing for his sake as his mind is made up and so impenetrable to any kind of truth. What Phillip teaches you is how not to be, that we have to be careful ourselves that we do not have this mentality. We need to be open to correction, open to what scripture says, always submitting our views to what scripture presents. This can be very difficult and humbling.

        Dizerner you wrote:

        ‘You misrepresent prevenient grace slightly, but considering I’ve written literally thousands of words on just on this blog alone, I’m surprised you think I have no Scriptures for it and don’t study it as seriously as I do Calvinism. I think the doctrine of prevenient grace is as solid as the doctrine of original sin. Plenty of solid Scriptural references for both.”

        He does repeatedly and constantly misrepresent it, and the scriptures you cite mean nothing to a made up mind.

        “What I find however, is that for some reason unbeknownst to me, people can be so prejudiced against a certain idea, that even a forceful explanation of Scripture teaching something just goes right over their head like water off a duck’s back.”

        That is the nature or prejudice, it involves a made up mind, it will not listen to reason. Unfortunately there are all sorts of prejudices in this world, whether they be ethnic, racial or even theological.

        “I’ve not found it very profitable to talk to such a person, because when you lay out 20 Scriptures with a paragraph in detail word by word explaining each one, they’ll swipe aside the whole checkers board with their arm and say they won.”

        Then why do you try to talk to Phillip????

        “See, I’m willing to listen and deliberate a doctrinal point someone wants to make, and even change my mind, but if someone is already not willing to do that what progress could ever be made? In my mind, no progress can be made. Even a valid and solid case will just be dismissed over and over and declared inadequate.”

        I agree with everything you say here. With such a person you will not get through all you can do is confront their errors for the sake of others (and there are always others watching).

        “Now I don’t think it’s anything near a life threatening state to believe or not believe many doctrines, although I think it’s better to be closer to good ones than bad ones. But what I’m talking about is fairness and openness to consider, not what one already knows to be false, but what the Word might actually be telling us.”

        It is not an issue of “fairness and openness” when dealing with a made up mind. Those concepts mean nothing when someone is prejudiced about something.

        “I do get a bit upset when someone says over and over there is no Scripture for something when I present quite forceful ones that a person simply won’t accept, and in that regard I think we all have to keep praying quite hard to overcome our own biases and hear the truth and not be misled into error.”

        I know and understand your frustration, I assure you, what is frustrating to me is that I once naively thought when I ceased doing direct counter cult ministry (I was involved in when I first became a believer), that **things would be different** when dealing with professing Christians. I thought they would be more fair, more open, better persons and more civil and nicer. Boy was I naïve and wrong! You find the same made up mind mentality/prejudices with professing believers that you find with cultists. It is just a different prejudice, before it was prejudice against the trinity, against the deity of Christ, against the personhood of the Holy Spirit: now it is prejudice against Arminians, against prevenient grace, against Traditionalists, against Calvinists, against . . . .

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      4. And prevenient grace does not say a person “stops sinning,” rather they are made aware of their sin, their heart is softened towards the truth, and they are given grace to accept or reject Christ in their sinful state.

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      5. Phillip continues to act as if what Roger Olson believes about Arminianism and Arminian theology is what ALL ARMINIANS BELIEVE. This is false, some Arminians hold the same views as Olson, some do not. Just because Olson believes something does not mean all other Arminians agree with him.

        I would be considered Arminian and I disagree with Olson on some things. For example, Olson denies inerrancy, I affirm inerrancy. Does the fact that Olson denies inerrancy mean that all Arminians deny inerrancy? No, I and many other Arminians affirm inerrancy and believe Olson to be in error on this. I am a member of an Arminian organization called SEA and while everyone in the organization is Arminian, we don’t all agree on everything. That is why when representing what I or Olson or someone else says you have to present what we as individuals believe, not what “All Arminians believe” as if all Arminians believe exactly the same things. Because while we may agree on some things, we don’t agree on everything (just as Baptists do not agree on everything theologically, Calvinists do not agree on everything, etc.

        A great example is whether or not you can lose your salvation. While many Arminians believe that you can lose your salvation, some of us do not believe that, especially those of us who are Baptists. So someone who claims that all Arminians believe you can lose your salvation is just making a false and imprecise claim (some believe you can lose your salvation, some do not, to claim all do is absolutely false).

        Phillip repeatedly tries to lump all Arminians together, so what he says is both inaccurate and false and also becomes a misrepresentation of what people believe. His latest post shows this once again:

        [[“Its more than that. Take the classical Arminian notion that the sinner has to be released from the bondage of sin in order to believe. Olson writes….
        “According to classical Arminianism it is an operation of the Holy Spirit that frees the sinner’s will from bondage to sin and convicts, calls, illumines and enables the sinner to respond to the gospel call with repentance and faith (conversion).”]]

        Note Phillip’s favorite whipping boy is Olson, as if Olson represents what all Arminians believe (note note even all so-called “classical Arminians” agree with Olson on everything).

        Phillip then attempts to refute Olson with:

        [[“Now reflect on the following…..
        Romans 6:17-18 (NKJV)…..
        But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin (by obeying or believing), you became slaves of righteousness.
        There are only two options. We are either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. There is no middle ground.”]]

        My understanding is that there are only two kinds of people in scripture who are characterized as (1) unbelievers/slaves to sin or (2) believers/freed from slavery to sin. There are no “in between persons” (e.g. an unbeliever who is freed from bondage to sin), you are either a slave of sin/an unbeliever or freed from slavery to sin/a believer. So I agree with Phillip here, AND I AM ARMINIAN. So what Phillip says of Olson cannot be said of all Arminians. It may be true of Olson but it is not true of me or even other “classical Arminians”.

        “However, it appears the Arminian notion of prevenient grace puts the sinner in a neutral state; one in which he is neither a slave to sin nor a slave to righteousness.”

        I don’t believe that or say that, so it is incorrect to say the “Arminian notion” as if that is what all Arminians believe, when in fact we don’t all believe it.

        “Yet the scripture make no mention of a neutral state.”

        Agreed, and again I am Arminian and don’t believe in a “neutral state” nor do I believe PG puts a person in such a state.

        “My point is simply there is no biblical evidence for either the Calvinistic notion of “regeneration precedes faith” (the Calvinistic version of prevenient grace) and there is no biblical evidence of lost sinners being put in a neutral state (released from the bondage of sin prior to conversion) that allows them to exercise their newly freed will to accept or reject Christ.’”

        I agree there is no evidence for the calvinistic notion of regeneration preceding faith nor is there evidence of PG putting people into a “neutral state.”

        PG does not put you into a neutral state, rather, it is the preconversion work of the Spirit enabling you to have a faith response to the gospel. PG enables faith but does not necessitate it.

        PG does not release you from bondage to sin, you are only released from bondage to sin when you become a believer.

        PG does not restore free will, as we have free will both before we receive PG and after we receive PG. Phillip just continues to misrepresent PG as if all Arminians believe about what PG what he claims.

        Now another tactic used by Phillip is that if he cannot lump all Arminians together as if they all believe exactly the same things about PG, he will make the opposite claim that since they disagree there is nothing to the concept of PG. This is a very unfair attack (attacked as all believing the same thing, or attacked as believing different things, attacked either way) that could be used against any group. You could do the same thing attacking Baptists as all believing exactly the same things (which is not true) or attack Baptists for believing different things (which is true, but not a fair attack). This shows that Phillip just wants to attack Arminians and Arminian theology any way that he can. What he should do is recognize there are differences and treat each individual on a case by case manner (we should all remember this, that not all X’s agree on everything, they may have differences, the individual we are dealing with may differ on some things, this is being both charitable and fair which we should aim for as believers interacting with other believers).

        “I wish Arminians would scrutinize their own doctrine with the same tenacity in which they scrutinize the Calvinistic doctrine. And vice versa.”

        I wish Phillip would scrutinize things more himself, instead of trying to lump all Arminians together and claim they believe exactly the same things. I am very familiar with Arminian theology and also very familiar with some of the differences among Arminians. I have also scrutinized Calvinist doctrine and so-called “Traditionalist doctrine.” It is interesting that I hold beliefs that are Arminian and beliefs that are Traditionalist, so I am ****both**** Arminian and Traditionalist, but Phillip cannot stomach such a possibility so he would like to lump all Arminians together as if they all believe exactly the same thing which is false. As I have said to him before he really needs to study the issues more fully before making his pronouncements about Arminians and Arminian theology.

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  11. Is it not possible to say that those who continue in their believing attachment to Christ will have everlasting life? I believe this can be shown to be the case biblically. Yet, who would argue that perseverance in believing attachment to Christ is the cause of the initial life that unites us to Christ based on the phrase “will have everlasting life” as you have done here? It is profoundly true to state that everyone who believes will have eternal life. It is manifestly false to assume that such life was produced by the wicked hearts of sinful rebels. It is fuzzy headed to presume that sinners in a state of corruption and severed from Christ could produce any fruit to the glory of God, such fruit as faith clearly is. Paul makes it clear that those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Would you have us understand that “prevenient grace” removes everyone from the state of “being in the flesh?” Or must we assume that God is not pleased with the faith he commands?

    Since the term “regeneration” is so rare in the NT Scriptures, it is my view that we should be talking about the calling/drawing that unites the elect to Christ in union with whom we enjoy every spiritual blessing.

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    1. Prevenient grace doesn’t contradict the hymn “just as I am.” When you say “those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” Paul obviously doesn’t mean that accepting Christ is pleasing God through our flesh. If you look at the context of the passage here, the meaning is “those who are in the flesh cannot please God through the law.” Paul was not barring someone from seeking righteousness by faith instead of works, by saying even the admission we cannot please God is pleasing to God. This is just a strange little humble paradox introduced by monergistic thinking. If we have to, say, admit we are proud and humble ourselves admitting we have nothing, that is not thereby having something positive righteously. It’s the difference between coming empty-handed, or hands full of something. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God, is coming to God with our hands full of our fleshly pride and works. It is not meant to say, we cannot come to God empty-handed and say “God have mercy on me a sinner,” because that somehow is “pleasing” to God. It’s only pleasing to God because of the work of Christ allowing it. No prevenient grace does not “remove people from the flesh,” rather it opens a door to a new possibility—reckoning their flesh crucified in Christ. And it pleases God not because of the self-merit, but because of the grace.

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      1. Surely you understand you have read a meaning into the Rom. 8 passage that is nowhere found in it. Paul’s statement about life in the flesh is made in contrast to life in the Spirit. It is a simple statement. People without the Spirit cannot please God. It seems you are saying this universal grace God gives is pleasing to him even in unbelievers? I would be interested in knowing what passage or passages of Scripture you would point to that you believe support your idea of a prevenient grace that leaves people in their hostile rebellion against God.

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      2. you say: “Surely you understand you have read a meaning into the Rom. 8 passage that is nowhere found in it.”

        Of course not, don’t be absurd. The connection of law to flesh is all throughout Romans 5-8. I’m sure you’d want to say in this context, being “in the flesh” means that you don’t have the Holy Spirit and are therefore not saved. Such people cannot please God; so they cannot repent and have faith in Jesus Christ then, right? Is this what Paul meant to say, is this conclusion unavoidable?

        If we actually read it in its CONTEXT instead of ripping it out of context, it clearly means “please God through the Law.” Notice back in verse three it says “What the Law could not do” and then it explains why it was unable to do it: “in that it was weak through the flesh.” Then in verse 4 Paul clarifies “the requirement of the Law” as what he is talking about—the flesh cannot fulfill the requirement of the Law, it cannot please God. In verse 5 Paul talks about “living/walking according to the flesh” and in verse 7, the verse before 8, he gets very clear why the flesh cannot please God: “it is not subject to the Law of God, nor can it be.” It’s about Law the entire time, just following off Romans 7.

        But in Romans does Paul say the Law is the only way to attempt to please God or approach him?

        But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.

        So it seems to me, if you argue that “you cannot please God apart from the Law” then you’ve run into some trouble accepting this verse. Yes, we have the paradox of saying “it pleases God to say we cannot please him, humility is admitting you are not humble” and things like this. We cannot make an argument out of that honestly, just because it is an apparent paradox.

        But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness
        But without faith it is impossible to please God

        Now it seems to me the entire argument is, “if anything we do pleases God we are thereby in some way or sense earning it.” But surely no one could argue that “whatever” this way of pleasing God is, it can’t have anything to do with the Law. It’s not pleasing God by keeping the Law in any sense.

        We have some facts about this method of pleasing God, it is both:
        1. Apart from the Law.
        2. While ungodly.

        Now what if I were to argue to you “Oh this is a way of pleasing God, huh, so that means you are godly doing it?” Of course the text says “the ungodly” so the text is teaching something the ungodly can do, something that is done while someone is ungodly. It makes no sense to then say “But it makes you godly to do it, so you are godly doing it, so in fact, the ungodly cannot do it!” This is the same as trying to use the “humble paradox” where you say humility is such a virtue that it earns something in and of itself, even though the whole point of humility is that you can’t earn anything.

        If we take Romans 8:1-9 in its proper context we read clearly the meaning “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God by the Law.” Not that they cannot please God “apart from the Law” because this is Paul’s entire point up until now—”I thank my God through Jesus Christ there is another way, a way of faith instead of law.” And faith is the way flesh can take to become in the spirit instead. Works, you say? No, no amount of works can make flesh into spirit, rather it’s “conforming from the heart to the doctrine taught you” as Paul says in Romans 6, that faith is a way to come to God in Christ apart from Law.

        The flesh cannot please God of itself through Law, but God can be pleased if the flesh simply “reckons itself dead” by “no longer giving itself to sin as a master” because “one has been buried with Christ in baptism.” In that faith it says we then walk in newness of life. This is not the flesh “pleasing” God, but it is a sinner finding “peace with God” by seeing God condemned sin in the flesh in his Son. To say that accepting the Gospel truth through a choice and through humility is somehow fulfilling the demands of the Law with the flesh, is to argue against the very passage itself which denies that!

        So we see in the end that the whole “but if you have to do anything at all that ends up in God being pleased you’ve earned it,” is both illogical and unscriptural, because it’s setting up a system of Law that is not even what the Bible says Law is. There is no Law in all the Tanach that says “admitting you can’t fulfill it is fulfilling it.” This is bringing a whole new 10 commandments down from a whole new mountain. “Thou shalt not admit you cannot obey.” Sadly, that never has been nor will be fulfilling the Law—admitting we can’t fulfill it. And that humility does not earn anything, and it pleases God because it is Christ that pleased God and it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

        Yes, we please God, but only because Christ pleased God for us. It’s a gift and receiving it is not an act that earns it.

        Those who are in the flesh cannot please God BY THE LAW. What is the way APART from the Law? If it’s APART from the Law why can’t anyone do it? If it’s APART from the Law, how can we boast in it? If it’s APART from the Law how is that earning it? If it’s APART from the Law, how does that prove it’s not a choice? If it’s APART from the Law how does that prove choice earns something with God? Those who are in the flesh CAN PLEASE GOD through FAITH IN CHRIST—I thank my God—through Jesus Christ! This is simply walking through the text.

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      3. That made absolutely no sense as all. Paul did not write anything in that passage about pleasing God through the law or not through the law. I think we have too many differences in our understanding of this passage to even have a meaningful discussion. It’s been real. Have a great night.

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      4. dizerner writes, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God BY THE LAW. ”

        This says no more than “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God by Works.” The problem with the law is that it only deals with half the problem. By the law was the knowledge of sin that one could seek to avoid and through the sacrificial system expunge those sins committed. However, sin is only half the problem. The other half is that people are inherently unrighteous – people are still unrighteous even after dealing with their sins. Being unrighteous, they have no faith. Thus, Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness to him.

        Christ addressed both problems in His death (for sin) and resurrection (for righteousness) – “Christ was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) So, our sins were imputed to Christ who then died for those sins and then Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us through His resurrection making us perfect before God – we are thereby saved from the wrath of God that is to come.

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      5. The Gospel is for the unsaved and unrighteous who cannot please God through their flesh, but by simple faith can accept the message that Christ died for their sins and rose again.

        There is no need to suppose that because sinners are sinful, they are so sinful they cannot even accept a gift by the grace of God, nor does Scripture ever teach that anywhere that I’m aware of.

        We’re going to have to argue over basic word meanings and logic to get to the heart of how monergism is interpreted, such that even Jesus telling people to do something to the determinist doesn’t imply a real ability to do it; which would mean that Jesus was not even communicating any real information.

        We’ve been over a lot of this, and disagree that Total Depravity means by necessity Irresistible Grace is the only cure. That’s an assumption brought in from a precommitment to monergism.

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      6. dizerenr writes, “The Gospel is for the unsaved and unrighteous who cannot please God through their flesh, but by simple faith can accept the message that Christ died for their sins and rose again.”

        Again, Hebrews 11 tells us that without faith, a person cannot believe God. Certainly people cannot please God through the flesh, but it is also true that faith is required to please God at all – and thereby to accept the message that Christ died for their sins and rose again. So, where does such faith come from? It is conveyed to a person through the preaching of the gospel, yet all who hear the gospel preached do not evidence faith. Something else must be involved else all people who hear the gospel should then have faith and that faith would manifest as belief in Christ. Do people have a choice in accepting faith or do they just discover that something has changed and they now believe that which they formerly considered foolishness? The Calvinist explains it by Ephesians 2, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved.”

        Then, “We’re going to have to argue over basic word meanings and logic to get to the heart of how monergism is interpreted, such that even Jesus telling people to do something to the determinist doesn’t imply a real ability to do it; which would mean that Jesus was not even communicating any real information.”

        God told Israel to obey His law – the Ten Commandments. They would not. He then told them to bring sacrifices to atone for their sin. They did but as a work and not in faith. Jesus told people to repent and believe the gospel. Not all did, and those who did seem to enjoy advantages others did not have. It is obvious that people do not do that which God/Jesus commands. Is this to be explained through inability or something else? If not inability, then what?

        Paul describes those who do not obey God by saying, “none seek God,” “they have no fear of God,” “they have no faith,” “they are separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world,” “hostile to God, not submitting to God’s law, nor can they do so.” Given the harshness of the words that Paul uses to describe the unsaved, those thinking that people have a real “ability” to choose salvation apart from God’s enabling grace have a difficult task before them.

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      7. dierner writes, “Paul was not barring someone from seeking righteousness by faith instead of works, by saying even the admission we cannot please God is pleasing to God. This is just a strange little humble paradox introduced by monergistic thinking.”

        In Hebrews 11, we read, “..without faith it is impossible to please God…” When Paul says that the unsaved cannot please God, we are to understand that they have no faith. In 2 Thessalonians 3, Paul affirms saying, “…not everyone has faith….”

        As God provides faith to a person, we can conclude that God has barred, and is barring, people from seeking righteousness by faith instead of works until He conveys faith to the person.

        Has monergistic thinking really introduced a paradox here?

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      8. Yes, because you make faith and works the same thing. The basic argument is “man can’t generate faith, because, then he somehow would earn his salvation.” Which ignores pretty much the whole book of Romans and the contrast between faith and the works of the law. So your answer is to make faith totally God’s doing, which makes one wonder what the faith chapter is there for, and why the saints were being commended for something they didn’t choose, but something that was forced onto them.

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      9. “…why the saints were being commended for something they didn’t choose, but something that was forced onto them.”

        Having God force faith on a person is like Jesus commanding the the lame man to walk. Healing was forced on him, but there is no record that he complained about that which Christ had done to him. Are we to think that those who hate God and are healed of their hatred with faith forced on them will actually complain – more so since they see eternal life being given to them?

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      10. …5A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. 6When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?”

        Jesus also asked people if they wanted to be healed at times and other times he told them their faith had healed them.
        Certainly, if one has totally and irrevocably set their will against God’s, then they would hate to be forced to believe and heaven would be hell for them.
        But the real issue here is probably one’s concept of faith. If it’s only belief, then Satan would be saved. But when we begin to see that faith involves surrender, we understand that it requires not some screwing up of our belief dial, but letting go of ourselves. It’s not a work, it’s just the opposite.

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      11. wildswanderer writes, “Certainly, if one has totally and irrevocably set their will against God’s, then they would hate to be forced to believe and heaven would be hell for them.”

        In the John 5 event, Jesus says nothing about the man’s faith. All the man is looking for is someone to help him into the water. Jesus chooses to heal the man. We see a similar situation with the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7). Jesus chose to bring a dead man back to life. In each case, we might see where the individual involved would have no problem with the healing that was “forced” on them – because they desired life and a good life. As a rule though, Jesus healed only those who evidenced faith by coming to Him to be healed even if that faith was not necessarily unto salvation.

        So, what about the lost who – in their depravity – view heaven as hell for them? Would they really be upset if Christ gave them faith and they found their whole perspective changed? Calvinists say, No, if only because they identify with those people. When Paul says in Ephesians 2, “…you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath,” they recall their prior life where they did not seek God and they had no fear of God. Do any whom God has saved have a problem with God forcing salvation on them even if they believe that they had the deciding vote on whether they wanted to be saved – which we presume none rejected? Would they really hate to be forced to believe? I find such to be difficult to believe.

        It is a given that God knew who was to be saved when He created the universe. The issue is not whether they were to be saved, but how God orchestrated their lives to bring about their salvation and the extend to which God had to “force” salvation on them.

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      12. The problem is, you are forcing a view on scripture that it doesn’t support. IF God forced people to follow him, then you presume he would change their desires and make them want to have faith.
        Never mind, that most Calvinists talk like even believers still have a wicked heart and don’t really want to follow, why would Jesus ever say, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” as in Mark 5?
        Goodness, Jesus must be a poor Calvinist. What he should have said was: “Woman, I irresistibly healed you, and you had nothing to do with it, because you were totally unable to have faith unless I caused you to.”
        or in Matthew 8:10-“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.”
        Jesus was amazed at the faith that he had just irresistibly forced upon this centurion? and again in Matt 15:
        27 Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

        Jesus commends people for their faith, a faith that Calvinists claim they could not even choose, yet throughout the Bible, we are constantly told to choose it.

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      13. wildswanderer writes, “The problem is, you are forcing a view on scripture that it doesn’t support. IF God forced people to follow him, then you presume he would change their desires and make them want to have faith.”

        We have wildwanderer changing the focus here. Originally, the issue concerned God forcing faith onto a person. Having no argument against that, wildswanderer shifts to God forcing people to follow Him. Is it not clear that the person to whom God gives faith readily – even eagerly – follows God and is not forced to do so. God does not change a person’s desires so that they want faith; God instills faith into a person whereby they then hear the gospel preached – that same gospel that was foolishness to them without faith – and it is the gospel that changes their desires. Following Paul, “…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

        Then, “…most Calvinists talk like even believers still have a wicked heart and don’t really want to follow,…”

        Paul speaks to this in Romans 7. It is not the wicked heart that is the problem – for God has changed the heart – but it is the old nature that lingers and causes trouble. Yet, the believer desires to follow Christ, even as his old nature clings to him and tries to draw him back.

        Finally, “Jesus commends people for their faith, a faith that Calvinists claim they could not even choose, yet throughout the Bible, we are constantly told to choose it.”

        The issue here is whether anyone can have faith apart from God granting them faith. Following James, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” Faith is a good and perfect gift given by God to those He chooses. No one can have faith unless God gives them faith.

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      14. Having faith and following God are the same thing to those of us who see faith as submission to God’s will. The following may start out weak or strong, but it is a letting go of our will and surrendering it to God.
        “God does not change a person’s desires so that they want faith; God instills faith into a person whereby they then hear the gospel preached – that same gospel that was foolishness to them without faith – and it is the gospel that changes their desires.”
        It seems to me that you are changing your tune here, but the difference is moot. Here you have the reformed getting saved in order to be saved, but what does scripture say?: “Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth and you will be saved.” How does that translate into: “God will irresistibly cause you believe and if you read the Bible long enough you’ll start to want to follow him.”? It’s not that complicated.

        As for Paul: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
        Yes, we learn by studying the gospel, but that’s a process of sanctification, and I really don’t see what this verse has to do with salvation, but notice that we have to allow God to work in us, he doesn’t force anything on us.

        I agree that God changes the heart. I have heard from Calvinists who don’t, but it seems we are in agreement on something! And this conflict between the old nature and the new can only be real if we have a free will to choose who to follow.

        And Yes, everything good comes from God, but there is nothing in these verses that indicates that we have to accept every gift. Just the opposite, James is all about teaching us that faith is a decision we have to make each day, that we choose to do good or evil, that God does not tempt us but we choose to submit to the old nature. And that’s the other little dirty secret of Calvinism, that God also irresistibly causes most people to be tempted and continue to sin and in fact, chooses most people to be eternally damned through no fault of their own. You can’t have it both ways. If we don’t get to choose faith, then we don’t get to choose hell, it is forced on us, whether you’re hyper or soft-pedaling determinism, whether you believe in double predestination or not the result is the same.

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      15. wildswanderer writes, “what does scripture say?: “Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth and you will be saved.” How does that translate into: “God will irresistibly cause you believe and if you read the Bible long enough you’ll start to want to follow him.”? It’s not that complicated.”

        Let’s add more information to what you have cited:
        “Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed.” Galatians 3
        “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10
        “So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ …” Galatians 2
        “Believe in your heart and confess with your mouth and you will be saved.”

        God irresistibly conveys faith to some and not others through the preaching of the gospel. It is because of this faith that a person discovers he has a desire to follow Christ. It’s not that complicated.

        Then “I really don’t see what this verse has to do with salvation, but notice that we have to allow God to work in us, he doesn’t force anything on us.”

        Again, let’s add more information:
        “God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1
        “from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2
        “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. ”

        God’s work in His elect is all about salvation.

        Then, “there is nothing in these verses that indicates that we have to accept every gift. Just the opposite,…”

        The idea that we “accept” faith is a fiction invented by people like you. Faith is not a decision we make; faith is the means by which we make decisions. Read Hebrews 11, “By faith, people did such and such…” Faith precedes and enables the doing.

        Finally, “And that’s the other little dirty secret of Calvinism, that God also irresistibly causes most people to be tempted and continue to sin and in fact, chooses most people to be eternally damned through no fault of their own. You can’t have it both ways. If we don’t get to choose faith, then we don’t get to choose hell, it is forced on us, whether you’re hyper or soft-pedaling determinism, whether you believe in double predestination or not the result is the same.”

        This is make believe. James 1 is clear in telling us how people are tempted.

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      16. It isn’t make believe, it’s the basic belief for Calvinism. John Calvin: “…”salvation is freely offered to some while others are barred from access to it.”

        And none of the verses you quoted contain an irresistible form of faith. “God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” This is about God faithfulness.
        “let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. ” LET God transform you? The Calvinist’s God doesn’t need us to let him do anything, he just does it against our will or not.

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      17. “none of the verses you quoted contain an irresistible form of faith”

        So, basically there is good faith (which Calvinists call irresistible) – the kind that results in salvation – and there’s bad faith (that non-Calvinists call resistible) – that cannot gain salvation. That’s just another way of saying, “…”salvation is freely offered to some while others are barred from access to it.”

        It all comes down to answering the key question, Why are some people not saved?

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      18. It would have been more accurate to say that none of the verses contain an irresistible form of grace, since faith is actually our response to grace. No, there is not a good faith and a bad faith.
        What you have in Calvinism is grace only being offered to a select few.
        Salvation is freely offered to all.
        John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”
        The key is in the receiving, there is no mystery as to why some are saved and not others.

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      19. wildswanderer writes, “…faith is actually our response to grace….What you have in Calvinism is grace only being offered to a select few.”

        Calvinists say that both grace and faith are “given” to God’s elect. Thus, God’s elect come to salvation. Are you saying that grace and faith are “offered” to God’s elect as well as everyone else (i.e., the reprobate) but only the elect accept the offer?

        What is lacking is an explanation for why people reject the offer of salvation. Given that some accept the offer of salvation under your system, which is the reasonable and obvious choice, there must be a reason why others reject salvation. Can you explain this rejection?

        Then, “Salvation is freely offered to all. John 1:12 ‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name’
        The key is in the receiving, there is no mystery as to why some are saved and not others.”

        “As many as received Christ…” so not everyone chooses to receive. Receiving is based on grace and faith – both provided to the person by God – so the key to receiving is the influence of grace and faith in the person’s decision.

        Again, the need is to explain how those to whom God supposedly extends His grace in the giving of faith could fail to “receive” or choose salvation. Only the Calvinists seem to have taken this issue head-on and provided an answer. Have any non-Calvinists done this?

        In this respect, Pastor Flowers provides an interesting explanation – how God is involved in preventing a person being saved.

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      20. If free will is truly free, there is no mystery. Step outside your determanism, and it’s simple. Only when you insist that gifts have to be accepted, is there an issue.

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      21. wildswandere writes, “If free will is truly free,…”

        What do you mean by “truly” free? If free of “determinism” a person would not reject salvation? If he were to do so, was he “truly” free? We need a definition of “truly free.” Do you have one?

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      22. I think you know what free means.
        Free:a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself
        b : determined by the choice of the actor or performer
        c : made, done, or given voluntarily or spontaneously

        “If free of “determinism” a person would not reject salvation?”

        Really? No, if free, there is no critera, there is no “would not” or “would” You just can’t step outside of the idea that it must be coerced by something, can you?

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      23. wildswanderer writes, “I think you know what free means.
        Free:
        a : not determined by anything beyond its own nature or being : choosing or capable of choosing for itself
        b : determined by the choice of the actor or performer
        c : made, done, or given voluntarily or spontaneously”

        Of course, I know that because that is the Calvinist definition. Do you really want to use the Calvinist definition of free will given that you seem to be arguing against Calvinism?

        Then I said, “If free of “determinism” a person would not reject salvation?”

        To which you responded, “Really? No, if free, there is no critera, there is no “would not” or “would” You just can’t step outside of the idea that it must be coerced by something, can you?”

        What does “coerced” have to do with this? Stop introducing strawmen into the discussion.

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      24. Simple Definition of determinism:
        philosophy : “the belief that all events are caused by things that happened before them and that people have no real ability to make choices or control what happens.”

        In other words, coerced either by God or by circumstances beyond our conrtol.

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      25. wildswanderer writes, ““the belief that all events are caused by things that happened before them and that people have no real ability to make choices or control what happens.”

        Yep. So Adam’s sin changed people so that people have a sin nature and that sin nature prevents a person seeking God just like the Psalms tell us and Paul reiterated in Romans. However, this would be coerced only if that which the person ends up doing is against his will. In this case, people do exactly that which they desire, so not coerced.

        Your definition makes nothing about coercion and you should not either (unless. of course, you find the need for strawmen to make your argument). Your statement, “In other words, coerced either by God or by circumstances beyond our control,” amounts to a strawman because you have no basis to make allegations of coercion.

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      26. Only we have gone over again and again the fact that God’s prevenient grace frees the will so the sin nature is no longer in control and real choices can be made. In your theology, however, effectual grace has for force (coerce) the person’s will, not free it.
        In reality, a person can go on for years in a state where God has revealed his condition, but he has not responded. The will is freed and the person makes an unfettered choice for or against God. Such a state can not exist under Calvinism. Either the person is under direct control of Satan or God pushes his faith button and suddenly he’s a believer through no choice of his own.

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      27. wildswanderer writes, “In reality, a person can go on for years in a state where God has revealed his condition, but he has not responded. The will is freed and the person makes an unfettered choice for or against God. Such a state can not exist under Calvinism. Either the person is under direct control of Satan or God pushes his faith button and suddenly he’s a believer through no choice of his own.”

        So, all you have to do is explain how a person with free will makes an unfettered choice against God absent the work of Satan in that choice.

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      28. No one said Satan was absent or God was absent. Of course, both are present and both are influences, but no one is forced to choose one or the other. We are in a war. Pity that your view of God clouds that reality. Calvinism =Fatalism=who cares and why should I even pray?

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      29. wildswanderer writes, “No one said Satan was absent or God was absent. Of course, both are present and both are influences, but no one is forced to choose one or the other. We are in a war. ‘

        OK. So, given that ALL people are in the same situation, why do some reject salvation? The obvious, rational choice is to accept salvation. So, can you explain why a person would ever reject salvation?

        Then, “Pity that your view of God clouds that reality. Calvinism =Fatalism=who cares and why should I even pray?”

        Basically you are saying that it is fatalistic to have God in complete control of all things. Your intent seems to be to put people in charge of their salvation thereby giving glory to man.

        We pray because prayer produces certain results – because God has promised those results. If a man lack wisdom, he should ask of God and it is certain that God will give the person wisdom. Pray and ask God for forgiveness of sin and it is certain that God will forgive that sin.

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      30. How does it give glory to man? God desires people to love him freely, so he offers real choices with real consequences. Never understood how this glorifies man, since it’s God’s idea.
        “Pray and ask God for forgiveness of sin and it is certain that God will forgive that sin.” So, if a man who is pre-destined for hell prays for forgiveness, God will forgive His sin?
        People reject salvation because they refuse to give up control of their lives, and give their wills over to God. It’s not hard to understand. People in the real world do not always choose rationally, not even close.

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      31. wildswanderer writes, “How does it give glory to man? God desires people to love him freely, so he offers real choices with real consequences. Never understood how this glorifies man, since it’s God’s idea.”

        It depends on what you mean by “freely.” Do you mean that the person has some inherent ability to come to God if only he hears the gospel preached? If God does all He can to save a person and it is then up to the person to seal the deal (so to speak) by deciding to accept God’s offer, then that decision is to the glory of man.

        Then, “So, if a man who is pre-destined for hell prays for forgiveness, God will forgive His sin?”

        Why would a person predestined to hell pray for forgiveness? A person is predestined to hell based on God’s knowledge of the future actions of a person which, in the case of those predestined to hell, includes the knowledge that they never pray for forgiveness. Do you now side with the Open Theists and deny that God is omniscient as your comment indicates? If you are willing to concede that God is omniscient as the Calvinists claim, why do you ask this question?

        Finally, “People reject salvation because they refuse to give up control of their lives, and give their wills over to God. It’s not hard to understand. People in the real world do not always choose rationally, not even close.”

        So, you are siding with the Calvinists in concluding that those who refuse salvation make an irrational decision – while those who accept salvation make the rational decision?

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      32. First, I don’t believe that salvation is just a decision. Second, surrendering one’s will does not normally seem rational. It’s not a strictly cerebral activity, it involves so much more, the will, the soul, the emotions and on and on.
        “A person is predestined to hell based on God’s knowledge of the future actions of a person which, in the case of those predestined to hell, includes the knowledge that they never pray for forgiveness.”
        So, now you’re an arminian who believes God looks down the corridors of time and chooses those for salvation who he knows will choose him? Calvin believed babies would be in hell. Obviously, they would never have the knowledge to make a choice, and the normal Calvinist position is that God chooses due to his secret will, not because he foresees mans choice. I tend towards believing God is outside of time, but able to enter time as the Holy Spirit, so suspect I am neither Open Theist or traditional. There is a mystery there that is not fully answered in scripture. It doesn’t matter, all I need to know is that the choice is sincerely offered to all.
        “If God does all He can to save a person and it is then up to the person to seal the deal (so to speak) by deciding to accept God’s offer, then that decision is to the glory of man.”
        Says who? God gave men dominion over creation. Was that also to the glory of men? God freely allowed men to kill him and forgave them for it. Was that to the glory of man?

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      33. wildswanderer writes, “First, I don’t believe that salvation is just a decision.”

        “…if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It’s as simple as that. To the rational person, it is a no-brainer.

        Then, “Second, surrendering one’s will does not normally seem rational. It’s not a strictly cerebral activity, it involves so much more, the will, the soul, the emotions and on and on.”

        You are making it more difficult than it is. The rational person when offered $10 /hour by one company and $100/hour by a second company to do the same work, all other things being the same, rationally chooses to accept the $100/hour job. So, the rational person faced w/ eternal death or eternal life makes the obvious choice – eternal life (in case it was somehow not obvious to you).

        I had said, “A person is predestined to hell based on God’s knowledge of the future actions of a person which, in the case of those predestined to hell, includes the knowledge that they never pray for forgiveness.” To which you respond, “So, now you’re an arminian who believes God looks down the corridors of time and chooses those for salvation who he knows will choose him?”

        No. How God comes to that knowledge is not stated or implied. However, you make a good point – whether Calvinist or Arminian, both can agree that God knows the future perfectly (regardless how He comes to know that future) and both can agree that those God has predestined to hell will never pray for forgiveness.

        Then, “Calvin believed babies would be in hell. Obviously, they would never have the knowledge to make a choice, and the normal Calvinist position is that God chooses due to his secret will, not because he foresees mans choice.”

        That is why Calvin referred to it as a “horrible decree” – God’s decree that all, even babies, should be condemned by Adam’s sin. Non-Calvinists say that it is horrible to have God in charge of who gets saved.

        Then, “…all I need to know is that the choice is sincerely offered to all.”

        That God knows the outcome of the offer does not affect the sincerity in which it is offered.

        I said, “If God does all He can to save a person and it is then up to the person to seal the deal (so to speak) by deciding to accept God’s offer, then that decision is to the glory of man.” You responded, “Says who? God gave men dominion over creation. Was that also to the glory of men? God freely allowed men to kill him and forgave them for it. Was that to the glory of man?”

        Everything God does is to His glory. Those things that man seeks to appropriate from God are for his glory.

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      34. You’re trying to have your cake and eat it too. You say God knows what man’s decision is going to be as if God’s decision is based on that. Then, you apparently agree with Calvin that babies who have no such decision are condemned to hell.
        Saying: “That God knows the outcome of the offer does not affect the sincerity in which it is offered.” becomes meaningless if man is condemned to hell through no fault of his own, but because God secretly wills it.
        Which by the way, is not confirmed by scipture, which tells us that God wills that all be saved.

        “So, the rational person faced w/ eternal death or eternal life makes the obvious choice – eternal life (in case it was somehow not obvious to you).”
        We covered this. In the real world nothing is so cut and dried. It might sound good in a theology book, but it’s not reality.
        “Everything God does is to His glory. Those things that man seeks to appropriate from God are for his glory.”
        It’s to God’s glory that He is just and gives everyone an opportunity to repent. What is glorious about condemning people without just cause?
        Man is not appropriating anything. God gives him a freed will.

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      35. wildswanderer writes, “You say God knows what man’s decision is going to be as if God’s decision is based on that.”

        I think that God’s knowledge is derived from His decrees. That which God decrees becomes His knowledge.

        Then, “you apparently agree with Calvin that babies who have no such decision are condemned to hell.”

        It is the consequence of Adam’s sin. Adam’s sin tainted all born to Adam and that taint was from conception.

        Then, “Saying: “That God knows the outcome of the offer does not affect the sincerity in which it is offered.” becomes meaningless if man is condemned to hell through no fault of his own, but because God secretly wills it.””

        Man is condemned to hell by his unrighteousness and his sin.

        Then, “Which by the way, is not confirmed by scipture, which tells us that God wills that all be saved.”

        God wants all “what” to be saved? All Jews, all Gentiles, all believers… To what does “all” refer, in context, when God says He wants all to be saved?

        I said, “So, the rational person faced w/ eternal death or eternal life makes the obvious choice – eternal life (in case it was somehow not obvious to you).”
        You responded, “We covered this. In the real world nothing is so cut and dried. It might sound good in a theology book, but it’s not reality.”

        On the contrary, it is that cut and dried and it is reality. I think what you are trying to say is that something else is happening but you don’t seem to know what that is.

        The, “It’s to God’s glory that He is just and gives everyone an opportunity to repent. What is glorious about condemning people without just cause?”

        Is not man’s unrighteousness just cause for God to condemn them.

        Finally, “Man is not appropriating anything. God gives him a freed will.”

        What does man do with his free will if not appropriating something from God? Do you mean to say that man is saved by his own invention?

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      36. Again, you contradict yourself in one post. First, salvation and damnation is strictly based on Gods secret decree and later you say man is condemned by his unrighteousness and sin. Which is it?

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      37. wildswanderer writes, “First, salvation and damnation is strictly based on Gods secret decree and later you say man is condemned by his unrighteousness and sin. Which is it?”

        There is no contradiction. God has decreed that people be free to choose or reject His laws and His salvation – they choose unrighteousness and sin. As a consequence, all people freely choose to reject salvation. The OT provides abundant evidence of this outcome. God then chooses whom he will save from among those who rejected salvation. Before He created the world, God knew that each person would reject salvation and He knew that He would have to saved people else none would be saved. God knew those whom He would save. If you want to deny this, then join the Open Theists in denying God’s omniscience.

        People, like you, did not like this outcome, so they added the corollary that some small number of people are able to choose salvation. However, they haven’t figured out how this could happen.

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      38. And again you contradict yourself by saying all choose sin, when you have stated over and over, that men choose salvation when aware of the choice. Now, you’re saying they don’t ever choose salvation, but God forces salvation on some.Maybe eventually, you’ll be ready to be honest and agree that Calvinism eliminates free will entirely.
        I don’t deny God’s omniscience. I deny that God saves some based on some secret decree. Nor do I say that some small number of people are able to choose salvation, but that every man is born able to choose salvation when convicted by the spirit. God’s foreknowledge is irrelevant to man’s choice.

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      39. wildswanderer writes, “again you contradict yourself by saying all choose sin, when you have stated over and over, that men choose salvation when aware of the choice.”

        Everyone is born with a sin nature and as a consequence of that sin nature, all people freely choose to sin. Notice that you say that “men choose salvation when aware of the choice.” The key word is “when.” The term, “when,” identifies a point in the person’s life at which they become aware of the choice – between eternal life and eternal death. It is “when” they become aware of that choice that they make the rational, obvious choice – eternal life. There is no contradiction.

        Then, “Now, you’re saying they don’t ever choose salvation, but God forces salvation on some.”

        God forcing salvation on a person is like Christ forcing life on the dead. Lazarus did not ask Christ to raise him form the dead; Lazarus was kinda out of it altogether. Christ forced life on him. So, it is with salvation.

        Then, “Maybe eventually, you’ll be ready to be honest and agree that Calvinism eliminates free will entirely.”

        Under Calvinism, God restores free will to the person. Free will (to choose salvation) was lost when Adam sinned.

        Finally, “I don’t deny God’s omniscience. I deny that God saves some based on some secret decree. Nor do I say that some small number of people are able to choose salvation, but that every man is born able to choose salvation when convicted by the spirit. God’s foreknowledge is irrelevant to man’s choice.”

        Given that you really seem to believe that you don’t deny God’s omniscience, this is how one who believes God is omniscient would write your comment.

        “I believe that those who are to be saved were known to God when He created the world. I deny that God has revealed the names of those He knows will be saved. Nor do I say that some small or large number of people will choose salvation but only that number known to God. Every man is born able to choose salvation only when convicted by the spirit. God’s foreknowledge is irrelevant to man’s choice but God knows the choice each person will make before he makes that choice.”

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      40. “God forcing salvation on a person is like Christ forcing life on the dead. Lazarus did not ask Christ to raise him form the dead; Lazarus was kinda out of it altogether. Christ forced life on him. So, it is with salvation.

        Under Calvinism, God restores free will to the person. Free will (to choose salvation) was lost when Adam sinned.

        If you can’t see the contradiction between these two statements, I give up.

        Yes, I believe God know who will be saved beforehand but He in no way forces salvation on them.
        You don’t seem able to see the difference between God’s foreknowledge and His decreeing or desiring.

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      41. wildswanderer writes, “If you can’t see the contradiction between these two statements, I give up.”

        If you cannot explain a contradiction, then none exists.

        Then, “Yes, I believe God know who will be saved beforehand but He in no way forces salvation on them.
        You don’t seem able to see the difference between God’s foreknowledge and His decreeing or desiring.”

        The issue here is the level of God’s involvement in the life of a person to bring about their salvation. God must quicken the person; the Holy Spirit must convict them of sin; God must convey faith to the person through the preaching of the gospel. God had foreknowledge of His actions in bringing His elect to salvation – God always knows what He will do in the future. God made decisions to do these things before He created the world. People are saved because God acts in their lives. If God did not act, no one would be saved.

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      42. “Has monergistic thinking really introduced a paradox here?”

        Absolutely it has. It confuses any action at all that produces a response from God, with fulfilling the Law of God in positive righteousness.

        If God says “stand on your head and I will forgive what you could never earn or deserve” the standing on the head is not earning or deserving the forgiveness, just because it’s doing something. That implication is smuggled in from monergism, producing a paradox where humility is not even possible because it will always end up being a prideful work.

        God’s grace does everything yet still requires our cooperation and we are not forced. I reject irresistible grace as the only concept of what grace could mean.

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      43. dizerner writes, “Absolutely it has. It confuses any action at all that produces a response from God, with fulfilling the Law of God in positive righteousness.”

        I don’t understand this statement. Your example does not help – “If God says “stand on your head and I will forgive what you could never earn or deserve” the standing on the head is not earning or deserving the forgiveness, just because it’s doing something.” What does this even mean?? What is it that “could never earn or deserve” that is forgiven?

        Then, “That implication is smuggled in from monergism, producing a paradox where humility is not even possible because it will always end up being a prideful work.” Humility, if an inherent ability of a sinner would be a work if exercised. Humility, if provided by God to the sinner and then exercised would not be a work. What “implication” flows from what you said before. nothing in your argument makes sense to me.

        Finally, “God’s grace does everything yet still requires our cooperation and we are not forced. I reject irresistible grace as the only concept of what grace could mean.”

        Are we to presume that you accept the need for God’s grace in order for a person to be saved? If not irresistible, then what explains why some respond to that grace and accept salvation and some reject that salvation? If a person rejects salvation both before and after supposedly receiving God’s grace, then God’s grace had no effect; we are not able to conclude that God extended grace in the first place.

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      44. you say: If a person rejects salvation both before and after supposedly receiving God’s grace, then God’s grace had no effect

        This is false conclusion. If I give a bum a million dollars and he uses it toilet paper, that doesn’t mean my gift had “no effect,” because it has a measurable effect—it gave the bum an opportunity and an option he absolutely never would have had otherwise. That is an effect. It seems to be the old argument against free will being a real meaningful possibility if the other choice is never taken.

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      45. “you say: If a person rejects salvation both before and after supposedly receiving God’s grace, then God’s grace had no effect

        This is false conclusion….”

        I should have said – There is no effect from God’s grace in terms of salvation. If you give a bum $million to do X and he does not do X, then you wasted your money. So, are we to think that God wastes His grace or does God extend grace with the knowledge that His grace will accomplish that purpose for which He gave it?

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      46. Excellent answer rhutchin. People are unable to save themselves. Not only that, they hate their creator and continuously disobey His law. They are without hope…” remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

        So the only One who can save them gives them the healing gift of faith (since without faith no one can please God) and should we expect someone to complain? “Hey, wait a minute. I didn’t ask for you to give me that gift!” How absurd.

        “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?”

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      47. Except that kind of “receive” is like “receiving” a bullet.

        Know anyone that boasted about their ability to receive a bullet?

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      48. Dizerner,

        “Except that kind of “receive” is like “receiving” a bullet.

        Know anyone that boasted about their ability to receive a bullet?”

        Exactly how are Paul’s Holy Spirit words like receiving a bullet?

        Or, maybe you were referring to one who hates God and is doomed and without hope except God saves him from eternal damnation and gives him eternal life? How exactly is THAT like receiving a bullet (which presumably kills or injures you)?

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      49. I just mean receiving as a word does allow for what Calvinists oddly call “synergism,” but if you receive something monergistically it is only like being shot, in the sense that nothing you do has anything to do with it. People see “actively” using the “free will” to receive a gift as no more earning it then earning something out of their control as well.

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      50. dizerner writes, “People see “actively” using the “free will” to receive a gift as no more earning it then earning something out of their control as well.”

        This raises the issue of the source of “free will.” Did Adam lose the “freedom” of will, he enjoyed when he sinned? If yes, then God must restore that free will so that a person could then exercise it unto salvation, so the issue is then whether God restores such “free will” for everyone or just His elect. I

        Let’s allow that God does provide free will to everyone, or it was not lost when Adam sinned. Then, since everyone has the same free will, the issue is what explains how some accept salvation and some reject salvation. If God favors His elect such that they choose salvation, then why would the reprobate reject salvation if they were similarly favored – they should make the same decision since God has made them equal to His elect.

        The issue is not whether a person “actively” uses “free will” to receive a gift but why they make different choices – some factor other than free will would have to explain such different decisions.

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      51. You say Adam had free will. Can’t I use your own argument to say he didn’t:

        God’s grace had no effect [on Adam]; we are not able to conclude that God extended grace in the first place [to Adam].

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      52. dizerner writes, ‘You say Adam had free will.”

        Actually, that is a point for discussion. Technically, only God has true “free” will as He is sovereign. Adam enjoyed some “freedom” of will as he was allowed to make decisions for himself without interference from God. True free will would have allowed Adam to consider fully the implications of his actions and he would not have eaten the fruit. If Adam still ate the fruit under those conditions, we would have to know his motive for doing because of its irrationality.

        Then, “Can’t I use your own argument to say he didn’t:

        God’s grace had no effect [on Adam]; we are not able to conclude that God extended grace in the first place [to Adam].”

        You don’t tell us the purpose for that grace. If God extended grace to Adam to prevent him eating the fruit, then we would see the effect of that grace in Adam refusing to eat the fruit. God extends grace for a purpose, and we should think that God extends sufficient grace to accomplish that purpose – else we have God extending grace that He knows will not accomplish His purpose (at least, what we perceive as His purpose)

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      53. Dizerner, oh. I see what you were doing. But I wasn’t speaking of the “How” anything is received, but that everything we are and have has been and continues to be received. The point Paul is making is nothing we have, including faith, is of ourselves. It came from God. Everything we have comes from God.

        And FYI just to be clear, the Reformed position (WCF for instance) is that regeneration or new birth of being made alive or being quickened is monergistic. Then the newly made alive sinner can see the beauty of Jesus and can understand spiritually saving things and HE ACTUALLY REPENTS and BELIEVES. BOLD added. God does not monergistically repent and believe for the sinner. The sinner actually believes. He exercises his newly received gift of faith.

        Thanks for the conversation.

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      54. you say: It came from God. Everything we have comes from God.

        Couldn’t I say my WILL or choice-maker comes from God, so even though I make autonomous choices, I still give God the credit for what I choose?

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      55. “Couldn’t I say my WILL or choice-maker comes from God, so even though I make autonomous choices, I still give God the credit for what I choose?”

        Yes, your will comes from God. But no one makes autonomous choices. No one is absolutely autonomous.

        But you do contribute to your choices just like you contribute to your sanctification. You cooperate with God in your sanctification but can take no credit for it. You make choices to refuse a 2nd helping of pie and choices not to watch that porn or something. But you do not do those autonomously. No one is without the law and no one operates 100% independent.

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      56. Can I just jump in and yell out “yay!” in typical Facebook era spelling? You said,

        “I tend towards believing God is outside of time, but able to enter time as the Holy Spirit, so suspect I am neither Open Theist or traditional. There is a mystery there that is not fully answered in scripture. It doesn’t matter, all I need to know is that the choice is sincerely offered to all.”

        Now I don’t agree with your view here, but I love seeing a non Calvinist appeal to mystery. That is almost always reserved as an accusation against Calvinists. It is said that is how we avoid dealing with the supposed clear texts of non Calvinistic views.

        Thank you brother for rescuing us and providing us some cover for sometimes appealing to mystery.

        “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

        ““The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

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    2. ROBERT answered:
      “I used to do counter cult ministry and the non-Christian cultists were just like this (this is not to say he is not a believer, only that he is manifesting the same mentality that they do……….).”

      Hi Robert,
      Thank you very much for posting this. I’ve been highly interested in the socialization aspects of Calvinism as a society for a number of years. Milieu control, for example, I believe is a way of understanding its group-think and behavior. Are you familiar with the work of Steven Hassan. Mary Alice Chrnalogar, Robert Jay Lifton and Margaret Singer? Very interested in your thoughts on the similarities you observe.
      Thanks

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    3. DIZERNER sites:
      ” they’ll swipe aside the whole checkers board with their arm and say they won.”

      Hi Dizerner, hope you’re well.
      This is a wonderful analogy!! It fits the pattern that I’ve observed repeatedly, as what I would call a “last resort” strategy, where one starts out being civil and really engaging in counter point considerations. But considerations which don’t line up with magical thinking eventually must be smashed. Square pegs must be driven into round holes with a heavy hammer. I listened to a good lecture recently on “principled” dialog vs. “positional” dialog. In the former, both parties discipline themselves to stay within the boundaries of principled logical thought. Whereas “positional” dialog occurs when one or both parties are simply focused on winning…taking a position and militantly holding to it at the sacrifice of all else.

      If I could modify your excellent checker-board analogy just a little….I see it very applicable to the sequential flow of sound logical thinking, which is to be contrasted with paradigmatic magical double-think. Per the rules in checker; moves must be made in a sequential flow, just like sound logical sequential thinking, where each sequence is based on previous premises which link logically, soundly and sequentially, resulting in a solidly based conclusion. Paradigmatic magical double-think doesn’t fit that sequential pattern. It refuses to conform to the law of non-contradiction. It relies heavily on ambiguous language tricks designed to assert [A] and [NOT-A] at the same time. In double-think, concepts are presented as illusions which appear very real, which is why they are called “magical” thinking. Without scrutiny one is unable to realize these as conceptions and definitions for words and terms which are presented and held up as conceptual illusions.

      So to give the *illusion* of winning, the strategy follows: (1) swipe aside the checkers with one’s arm, (2) re-assemble them in the pattern that conforms to double-think, and then (3) declare one’s self the winner. Thanks for your excellent analogy!! :-]

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  12. Faith is multifacetted and is of GOD, and faith is esentialy the desire to believe and the conviction to hold firm to that held belief.

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  13. dizener, Does your head heart from beating it against that wall, lol? Don’t worry, Brother, some of use got what you are saying. I’ve been dwelling Romans quite a bit lately… This whole idea that our initial faith has to be “works” unless God forces faith on us, is really a bizarre way to read it. The whole point is that there are no works involved, only faith.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does hurt a little, lol. I don’t mind one bit that people disagree, but they just say “nope” without digging into the Word and showing their point there. It’s not like I think I can’t be wrong. I just feel like people do what Zedekiah did when he struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “How did the Spirit of the LORD move from me to speak to you?”

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  14. Acts‬ ‭19:1-5‬ ‭(ESV‬‬)
    “And it happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the inland country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
    ‭‭
    1. “receive the Holy Spirit”
    2. “when you believed”

    John‬ ‭20:30-31‬ ‭(ESV‬‬)
    “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

    1. “by believing”
    2. “may have life in his name.”
    ‭‭

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Don Johnson,

        So where does baptism fit into your order?

        ““Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

        By the way, are you still acting in Miami? 🙂

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      2. Les,

        It should happen right after repenting and believing. “For the forgiveness of sins” means “because of the forgiveness of sins.” Just as a doctor may say “take an aspirin for a headache.” You don’t take the aspirin in order to get the headache. You take the aspirin “because you already have a headache.

        Luke uses the same language in Luke 5:14. “And offer for thy cleansing” The offering was “because” he was already cleansed, not in order to be cleasned.

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      3. Les,

        Not currently in Miami. As far as the acting goes, well they seem to think I’m to old and to fat. If they make a remake of Cannon I’ll audition for the role. My sport coats seem to shrunk over the years.

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      4. Don, wish you were back on tv.

        Problem in John 20 is the word “by” is not in the greek. Literally, “believing life you have.” You have to read into it to find a priority of order there. Of course one who believes has life. THAT is the point. Salvation is by faith. Eternal life is by faith. The order of how God does that, where the new birth takes place, is not in there.

        My point about the baptism is to show if one insists on the English translations only to try to prove such a point, well then baptism is prior to forgiveness.

        I don’t believe baptism is so that one gets forgiven. But a wooden reading of the English looks that way.

        Anyway, I doubt you or I will change the other’s mind. Our real point of different is not word order but anthropology.

        Blessings.

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  15. I am not writing here to convince the committed Calvinists to change their view, they will not as long as they are committed to their theology. Rather, I want it out in the open the problems with the Calvinists arguments for their position. If others see these problems they will not be persuaded or fooled about Calvinism. Recall Les a staunch Calvinist’s honest admission that:

    “Yes I admit I don’t have a specific verse that states “regeneration precedes conversion. But we all recognize there are some doctrines where we don’t have a specific chapter and verse.”

    This is correct there is no explicit verse saying that regeneration precedes faith (there is also no verse saying that regeneration produces or causes faith). Faced with this reality, usually what calvinists then do is resort to **arguing a case** that the nonbeliever is incapable of having faith unless they are regenerated first.

    And this “case” depends upon proof texting using verses, even appealing to phrases in verses (i.e. a person has a concept in mind, they then then look for either a verse or even a phrase that they can use to support and argue for the concept they have in mind, note they start with the concept THEN go looking for support for the concept). You can tell when a person proof texts in this way because if you go to the immediate text from which they derive the verse or phrase you find it does not support their concept (also other scriptures may directly contradict their concept).

    Gracewriterrandy appeals to a phrase in Romans 8 (i.e. no one in the flesh can please God):

    “Surely you understand you have read a meaning into the Rom. 8 passage that is nowhere found in it. Paul’s statement about life in the flesh is made in contrast to life in the Spirit. It is a simple statement. People without the Spirit cannot please God.”

    And the argument goes like this. They start with the concept that the unbeliever cannot have faith, but must be regenerated first. So they think they need to find a verse or phrase that says the unbeliever cannot do a single action that ever pleases God or is “good”. Next, argue that faith is something that pleases God or is a good thing. Next combine these two points, if the unbeliever cannot ever do anything that pleases God or is a good action and since faith is a good thing that pleases God, the unbeliever cannot have faith (and here it comes: unless God regenerates them first, thus enabling them to be able to have faith, do this good action). For many they appeal to the phrase in Romans 8 that those in the flesh cannot please God. The problem is that they are not interpreting this phrase in its immediate context. Paul is contrasting unbelievers (those “in the flesh”) and believers (those who “follow the Spirit”) in Romans 8 this is true. But is he arguing that the nonbeliever can never ever go a good action while “in the flesh”? No. He is not speaking absolutely about single actions in this section, he is contrasting lifestyles, one of the unbeliever which is characterized by being in the flesh and the other which is characterized by following the Spirit. We know this is not mean to speak of their actions absolutely because if we apply this by parity of reasoning to the believer: is Paul arguing that the believer ALWAYS follows the Spirit, never sins? No, the believer may at times “grieve the Spirit”, the believer may sometimes sin. But their lifestyle is characterized as one in which they “follow the Spirit”. Likewise, the unbeliever may sometimes do the right thing, sometimes do good, but their lifestyle is characterized as being “in the flesh”. When Paul says those in the flesh cannot please God he is speaking of their lifestyle, not individual acts they do.

    This can be seen in the example of Nicodemus in Acts 10-11. He is described as a “devout man” (i.e. He was a God fearer, a Gentile convert to Judaism, who was devout in his faith and practice). God is pleased with his giving of alms, which is doing good, a good action. But he is not yet a Christian as Peter comes to preach the gospel to him and Nicodemus receives the Spirit and is saved. So before becoming a Christian Nicodemus was a devout man who was doing good by giving alms, and yet he was still “in the flesh” (because in the NT you are either a non-Christian who is “in the flesh” or a Christian who “follows the Spirit”, those are the two lifestyles, one is a non-Christian, one is not. But note that even though Nicodemus is not a Christian he is capable of doing things that please God, doing good, which is seen in his alms giving. If we look at our own experience we see this as well, we have all seen non-Christians who did good things (Policeman who have arrested evil doers, protected people, fireman who have saved people from dangerous situations, Lawyers and judges who have ruled fairly and maintained the law and punished evil doers, people who have taken care of orphans, helped the disabled, etc. etc. etc.). We cannot (should not) deny they sometimes do good actions.

    Even the Calvinists have a concept for this, they call it “common grace”.

    But calvinists will respond that what these nonbelievers do is not really good, it is not done for the sake of Christ so it is not good. This is special pleading, anyone can see they clearly at times do good, but since this does not fit what the calvinists want to believe they must argue that these actions are not really good. Here the resort to another proof texting attempt, they will cite a verse from a section (Romans 14:23) dealing with Christian liberty (what differing believers with differing convictions should do with disputable matters where believers disagree and have differing convictions) where it says “whatever is not of faith is sin”. But this verse is not talking about humanity in general (this is ignoring the context) but specifically about believers in the area of Christian liberty issues. The section is not an attempt to argue that nonbelievers are incapable of doing any good ever under any circumstances, that is not the context at all. It is directly and explicitly speaking to believers with differing convictions.

    So the attempt by calvinists to argue that the nonbeliever can never do any good action fails. It can only be maintained if you take phrases from certain sections (Romans 8 “those in the flesh cannot please God”, Romans 14 “whatever is not of faith is sin”) and ignore their contexts (Romans 8 = lifestyles of believers and unbelievers being contrasted, Romans 14 = issues of Christian liberty).The Bible does not teach that the unbeliever can never ever do any good actions (in fact the first century Jews are an example of people doing good in their attempts at keeping the law: Paul does not say they never did any good when they attempted to keep the law and go good works, No, he says instead that the keeping of the law cannot save you because it can only save you if you keep it perfectly). And we see examples of this in our own experience. But Calvinists ignore this, proof text, and dismiss what we have all witnessed if we are honest in our own experience.

    The Bible does not teach that people are ever capable of doing good works as unbelievers: it teaches that good works cannot save you and that we are sinners who must have our sins atoned for to be saved, our good works (no matter how many they be) cannot save us, only trusting in Christ can.

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    1. In the last paragraph, I meant to say “The Bible does not teach that people are NEVER ever capable of doing good works as unbelievers”.

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      1. Robert writes, “,…I meant to say “The Bible does not teach that people are NEVER ever capable of doing good works as unbelievers”.’

        Jesus said, “…a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” Unbelievers are bad trees.
        Jesus said, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” Unbelievers are evil people who have evil stored in them.
        Paul said, “…Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written: “There is no-one righteous, not even one;…they have together become worthless; there is no-one who does good, not even one.”
        John wrote, “Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.”

        Robert is shown to be wrong once again.

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      2. I usually ignore what rhutchin says, in this case he brings up a common calvinist argument for the false claim that unbelievers can never ever do any good under any circumstances. It is the appeal to Jesus’ comments about good and bad trees:

        “Jesus said, “…a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” Unbelievers are bad trees.”

        And presumably by parity of reasoning believers are good trees. Rhutchin is arguing that unbelievers are bad trees who only do wrong and never can do right. If that were true, if that were Jesus’ point then believers who are good trees only do right and can never do wrong. But is THAT true? No, believers can and sometimes do sin, do the wrong thing. If these “good” trees don’t always do the right thing if they sometimes do the wrong thing, then the “bad” trees can sometimes do the right thing.
        Jesus was neither teaching that unbelievers always do wrong, nor was he teaching that believers always do right/sinless perfection.

        “Unbelievers are evil people who have evil stored in them.”

        I’d like to see when a nonbeliever fireman rescues rhutchin if he has the idiocy to say of the unbelieving firemen that has just rescued him that he is an evil person who has evil stored in him. Or when any other nonbeliever ever does something good for or to rhutchin I really doubt that he will say to them: “you are just a bad tree, that only does evil, . . . you are an evil person who has evil stored in you, and what you just did really wasn’t good it was evil”

        The only way you could maintain this kind of sentiment is if you lived in a hole apart from other human beings. Perhaps that is the problem here. 🙂

        It is this kind of thing that makes unbelievers sometimes rightfully think that believers are out of touch with reality. We are already different as believers from the world, we don’t need this kind of nonsense to appear out of touch with reality.

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      3. Robert writes, “Rhutchin is arguing that unbelievers are bad trees who only do wrong and never can do right. If that were true, if that were Jesus’ point then believers who are good trees only do right and can never do wrong. But is THAT true? No, believers can and sometimes do sin, do the wrong thing.”

        Robert purposely ignores context in order to confuse the issue.

        15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
        16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
        17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.
        18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.
        19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
        20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

        The focus of Jesus’ teaching is the false prophet. The fruit of the false prophet is a bad work. By contrast, the fruit (work) of the true prophet is good. The good work would be that which they teach. Of course, not all believers are prophets, for these are unique individuals appointed by God – “…in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, …”

        Robert also errs in saying, “I’d like to see when a nonbeliever fireman rescues rhutchin if he has the idiocy to say of the unbelieving firemen that has just rescued him that he is an evil person who has evil stored in him.” Robert judges by human standards – to him good is relative – and not God’s standards. Following Isaiah, ‘Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, …” So, will God judge the works of the unbelieving fireman as good? I doubt it.

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    2. Robert writes, ‘Recall Les a staunch Calvinist’s honest admission that:

      “Yes I admit I don’t have a specific verse that states “regeneration precedes conversion. But we all recognize there are some doctrines where we don’t have a specific chapter and verse.”

      I am sure Les meant to say, “BUT,” at the end of that statement as he also referred to the standard “regeneration” verse Calvinists cite. Everyone knows it – Ephesians 2 – “…made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” The phrase, “…made us alive…” refers to a change God causes in the person who was dead. That change is what Calvinists call “regeneration.” The issue is where “…made us alive…” fits within the multitude of verses that Pastor Flowers cited in his comment. Pastor Flowers did not raise this issue, and I suspect it is because he has not yet sorted it out himself. Robert calls this proof texting but even he avoids the implications of Ephesians 2 even though he surely knows the arguments by now.

      Then Robert writes, ‘They start with the concept that the unbeliever cannot have faith, but must be regenerated first. So they think they need to find a verse or phrase that says the unbeliever cannot do a single action that ever pleases God or is “good”. ”

      Lot of imagination here. That the unsaved have no faith comes from the statement by Paul to “…pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.” (2 Thessalonians 3) The from Hebrews 11, “…without faith it is impossible to please God…” and then Romans 8, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” From these verses, the Calvinist concludes that the unsaved do not have faith. That faith is a gift to a person from God is attributed to Ephesians 2. Robert certainly knows these things but pretends not to.

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  16. The funny thing is that REGENERATION is a Biblical word and when the Calvinist discusses it, they avoid the two places it is mentioned.
    Regeneration is not, biblically, something that comes before faith and Grace that saves was given at the cross. It is before my time, but after the time of King David. I believe and he believed. Still the Calvinist will presuppose this supposed regeneration is what allowed me to believe.
    Yet with all their cries of Sola Scriptura, they avoid, like the plague, the two scriptures that mention regeneration!

    In the Bible, “Your faith has SAVED thee.2
    In Calvinism, “Your slavation has Faithed thee.”

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  17. I have some very good news, actually great news. Dr, James White has stepped back into the ring and put his gloves back on to go against some comments made by Professor Leighton Flower (whom if you all did not know I think is a very godly man, . Just wrong about his system of belief of faith preceding regeneration. On Dr. White’s web site he did a Free Radio Geneva where he began a discussion on

    1 John 2:29 -If you know that He is righteous, you also know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

    1 John 4:7 -Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

    1 John 5:1 -Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

    With 1 John 5:1 being the central verse in the discussion with the other two giving light and illumination to 1 John 5:1.

    Now, respectfully, I can see just by looking at the translation of these three verses that the grammar is not only similar but the same. You would have to blind to say it is not. I was told by one individual that 1 John 5:1 was just giving assurance of salvation. Now this was just asserted to me without any interaction with the other verses that I gave him.

    Just to let everyone know so if you want to skip the other stuff: Leighton Flowers and 1 John 5:1 starts about 39 minutes into the show.

    Dr. James White makes it know you need to WATCH THE PODCAST because you will be looking at some text in scripture and some Greek. As you know, Dr. White is an expert in Greek

    The thing about Dr. White is this, is he back to contend earnestly for the faith against the false teach of Professor Flowers for a while or is this just a one time podcast. Knowing James White this is just a one time Podcast. I wish he would stay but he is just that way. Respectfully, he does not take Professor Flowers seriously and the Romans 9 debate I think put the nail in the coffin. But I could be wrong and I think I am.

    Now Dr. White and Professor Flowers are two different birds. Dr. White will do this podcast and move on to something else and forget about Professor Flowers because he will immerse himself into something else.

    Respectfully, Professor Flowers, is chomping at the bits to get Dr. White back into this in-house controversy that has been raging on for 100’s and 100’s of years. He probably has already started a podcast to refute Dr. White which even if he has, Dr, White will probably not even watch and then again I may be wrong and I hope I am. It just depends if Professor Flowers really listens and watches Dr. White’s Podcast, stays with the three verses (and not go all over the Bible) then we may (although I doubt it) a follow up by Dr. White.

    Here is the Link below:

    http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php/2016/03/17/radio-free-geneva-showbreads-dear-john-piper-leighton-flowers-1-john-51/
    I
    Remember about 39 minutes in and you must watch to see the Greek being taught on these 3 verses although as i said i can see the grammar is not just similar but the same in the translation.

    Excellent Dr, White

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    1. Even if the grammarians conceded that the temporal (or logical) causal order could be dogmatically asserted based on this text (which is highly debatable from Greek scholars on both sides of this issues) …but even if it was conceded that the grammar was irrefutable as White seems to think, I still would be very curious to know why proof that rebirth precedes the continued faith of a Christian likewise proves that rebirth precedes saving faith.

      White can tackle the grammar all day but he still has another hill to climb. He has to show that the intention of the author was speaking of saving faith rather than the mark of a true “faith filled” Christian, which is the context of that entire passage.

      BTW, this is the same approach that Cals take when we bring up verses like, “repent and live.” Cals argue that the author is talking about “eternal life” not new birth. Likewise we can contend that the author isn’t speaking of the initial trust one places in Christ but the persisting faithfulness that marks the life of one who has genuinely been born from above.

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      1. Pastor Flowers writes, “I still would be very curious to know why proof that rebirth precedes the continued faith of a Christian likewise proves that rebirth precedes saving faith.”

        The Calvinist says that saving faith is a gift of God (but we could allow that everyone is born with a dead faith for purposes of this discussion). Saving faith is conveyed to an individual through the preaching of the gospel. Saving faith always manifests as submission to God else we would not call it “saving” faith. As all people who hear the gospel do not respond in faith (beginning w/saving faith followed by a faith-filled life), the Calvinist looks for the difference between those who respond to the gospel and those who don’t. One explanation is that one has been regenerated, and thereby is enabled to hear the gospel, and the other has not. Is there another explanation?

        Then this, “…“repent and live.” Cals argue that the author is talking about “eternal life” not new birth.”

        I am not sure about this. The term, “repent,” drives context, so we should read this as “…“repent and live a life of faith.” Again, no one repents outside of hearing the gospel preached and all who hear the gospel preached do not repent. So, it comes down to explaining why two people hear the gospel preached and only one responds by repenting. Why does he respond differently – regenerated?

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      2. That is actually a good response Professor on 1 John 5:1. But is there really a difference (or two kinds of faith) meaning,, saving faith is different from a faith filled christian. The faith in the “faith filled Christian” is not “saving faith”

        I know I was initially saved by Christ,

        I am being saved by Christ (who is still my Savior from sin)

        1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, (but to us who are being saved) it is the power of God

        See that, (but to us (who are being saved)

        and eventually one day I will receive (the finality of my salvation), “deliverance from the presence of sin forever”.

        I think it is Christ’s saving faith from beginning to end. Christ is the author and finisher of my faith and all that it consist or in between.

        Hebrews 12: 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

        You see Leighton, Jesus is the originator of my faith, the author of it, he is perfecting it and he will finish until the the day, the day of Jesus Christ.

        My faith fluctuates at times, sometimes it is weak, other times I am strengthened in faith, so that you could so i am faith-filled. But it is still the same saving faith that I embraced Christ with. Christ is in the process of perfecting my faith and I have a long way to go let me tell ya. I have said on here more than once you are a godly man even if your doctrine I disagree with.

        So Dr. White does not have to prove whether it is “saving faith” or “faith filled faith” lol 🙂 not sure how to say it.

        It is the same faith Jesus is the originator of,and is now perfecting and will complete when he raises us up on the last day. Then there will be perfection because we will see him face to face.

        Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.. I read of people in the Bible being filled with the Holy Spirit.

        Acts 6:5 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit

        In repetition he was full of the Spirit, Acts 6:3 and he was full of wisdom.

        I would say there is no doubt that Stephen was a man who was full of faith (trust in the Living God and Christ our Salvation) for he was full of grace and power doing wondrous things.

        Acts 11:24 – He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

        So yes I understand what you are saying Professor Flowers, but as Christians we can grown in our faith, through the grace that is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.

        Are you saying there are two kinds of faith.

        What is a faith-filled Christian/look like?

        But if you are asserting the WHOLE CONTEXT of the verse is about faith-filled Christians, can you clarify and show this to be so through the word of God Professor. Thanks

        So this (two faiths concept) you seem to be asserting this. Can you clarify and show through scripture. I may be just misunderstanding I am I apologize. If you are saying there are two faiths (a saving faith) and being (faith-filled) concept. Could explain the difference and then explain how the entire verse is about faith-filled Christians and not just those (believing Jesus is the Christ), seems that would be true of every Christian who has been born again, from above, quickened and made alive in Christ Jesus

        Hey, I have always wondered about John the Baptist being filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (his birth) and he never had heard the gospel and if he did he definitely would not be able to comprehend the words of the gospel.

        See, “no man can “come” (synonymous to believing, faith, trust) to Jesus (through the preaching of the gospel) unless the Father (draws, literally drags) of course I do not mean drag against his will. but the drawing is the effectual drawing power of the Holy Spirit. it is the Spirit who gives life John 6:63. The Holy Spirit has what the His (sword of the Spirit) which is the word of God. The Spirit and the gospel are intimately connected but the Spirit has a power and a work distinct from the word. Conviction or Sin

        You know how fast I think being born of God, that is being quickened and made alive in the Spirit while still being dead in tresspasses and sins happens. Regeneration and faith is as quick as (the wink of an eye) I know some believe different and they could be right. In John the Baptist experience it was a long time before he believed in Christ Jesus as His Savior although he was born again by the Spirit of God.. (

        You said and I quote: “Even if the grammarians conceded that the temporal (or logical) causal order could be dogmatically asserted based on this text (which is highly debatable from Greek scholars on both sides of this issues)”

        Could you please show me some of these other scholars that have a different take than Dr. White. I would very interested in how they see it.

        You asserted the context of the entire verse of 1 John 5:1, was talking about a “faith-filled christian” Yes the entire context.

        1 John 5:1 reads,

        Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone loving the One having begotten Him also loves the one having been begotten from Him.

        THe first word is (Everyone) so everyone is faith-filled and full of the Holy Spirit. No I do not think so.

        It just says that (everyone who is in a state of believing, or believing ones) “present Tense” have been born of God” Past Tense”

        I do not think Dr. White has to prove the author is talking about (saving faith) rather than being (faith-filled) Saving faith and being Faith-filled or full of Faith both are results or fruits of the Holy Spirit.

        Some Christians (groups of them at times) in the book of Acts would receive an enduement of power of the Holy Spirit and their faith would increase,

        I know and have experienced this in my own life Professor Flowers. The Spirit has blessed me in times of prayer where I my faith has been strengthened and i was glorifying God who had promised, knowing he was faithful in all that he had said.

        The context of 1 John 5:1 is simply talking about (everyone who is in a “now” present state of believing in Christ)

        John 2:29 -If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

        We do not work righteousness and that causes and results in us being “born of God.

        .1 John 4: 7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

        We do not love to be born of God

        1 John 5:1 – Everyone believing that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone loving the One having begotten Him also loves the one having been begotten from Him.

        We do not believe in Christ to be born of God

        When we have been born of God, we are doing righteousness, that which is pleasing to the Lord,
        When we have been born of God, we are loving the brethren, not only word but also in deed,
        When we have been born of God, we are in a constant now present tense state of believing in Christ

        These are results and fruit of having been born of God we experience these

        John 1; 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

        13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

        Notice the ones who gave the right to become the children of God, Verse 13 says plainly, reading out of the text, (they were already born again or from above. by a being quickened by the Spirit and grace of God; by Christ being formed in men; and by a partaking of the divine nature; and by being made new creatures, as all that believe in the name of Christ are; and which is the evidence of their being the sons of God:

        Like I told Brian on here Professor Leighton, I am an amateur, I like to write and there is a good chance I do not understand what you may be saying and I may be wrong. My prayer is that God will give me ears to hear and eyes to see.

        You know I have been questioning all of this blogging about calvinism and non-calvinism, it has been a conflict that has raged for 100’s and 100’s of years. You talk to saints on both sides and they will tell you how much they love the Lord, fill his strength and joy.

        Both sides preach the same gospel, with some minor disagreements or we would not still be calling each other brother and sister in Christ.

        I wonder if the Devil uses all of this to distract us from the Great commission, seeing Christ glorified in the salvation of souls.

        I also do not think this going back and forth (especially for spiritual leaders) is blessing, encouraging and strengthening the flock of God that God has placed them over. That they are responsible for their Spiritual health and welfare.

        It is found in the whole counsel of God, something a man of your wisdom I know is aware of.

        But the Calvinist and non-calvinist preach the time has come for all to repent of their sins and turn to God and place their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

        How sweet and pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity. Teaching your flock to be spiritually-minded can produce and bring life and peace (LIFE AND PEACE) FAR OUT WEIGHS THE DEBATE OF CALVINISM.

        God bless Pastor and Professor Flowers
        Forgive me for my fleshly sinful immaturity I have shown on here
        It is time to move on from here
        Kevin

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      3. You said, “My faith fluctuates at times, sometimes it is weak”

        Whose fault is that? Did God decide to withhold a level of grace at those times, or was that your own doing despite his provisions of grace?

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      4. That is a good question Professor Flowers and I understand why you have asked it. God always uses means, that strengthens our faith. If we use the means of grace consistently in Christ (because the grace I am talking about is found only in Christ) From what God has revealed to me that I can see are the means of grace, or as you put it the provisions of grace, if I apply myself to a prayerful serious study of God’s word, with the intention to apply it to my life, and also daily reading it, also going into the prayer closet, the secret place to enjoy intimacy with God, or cast my burdens and cares on him and pray for others and just spend time communing with him, also regular church attendance (do not neglect the assembling of yourself together) being strengthened by one another’s mutual faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the most important part of worship , listening to the preaching and teaching of God’s word and corporate prayer with all the saints. If we do not use the means of grace our faith can grow weak. Did not Paul say that we will always have weak Christians among us, but their faith and trust is still believing in Christ Jesus since the day they were born again.God’s power keeps them safe in Christ. (Like I said, Being born again and trust in Christ is like a wink of the eye in my opinion) God also uses times of testing of our faith so that we will confess specific sins and the dross will rise to the top and God will remove it and our faith becomes more like pure Gold in Christ.
        I don’t know if you are setting me up with a question or not, but i will play along. I do want to mention that one time in the old Testament (I know you will remember) God stirred King David’s heart to number the people of Israel, which was a no, no. The bible said God did the stirring of King David’s heart and then God was wroth and angry with King David. (Sorry don’t remember what Book of bible and feeling lazy right now) but in another book of the bible, the story is re-told and it was the devil or an evil spirit that God used to move David to number Israel, and it made God wroth and angry. I cannot say I have really studied it closely, but why would God do this to King David in one book taking responsibility, then in another mentioning it was an evil spirit he used to cause King David to Sin and then God was wroth and angry with him. God I think withheld some grace from King David for that whole scenario seemed divinely appointed. for what reason I confess I do not know. God can give supplies of grace to keep you spiritually minded and obedient and he can withhold undeserved grace for reasons known only to himself and for his own good pleasure unless it is revealed to us in God’s word. One reason God can withhold a level of grace is this. God withhold levels of grace at times to chastise his loved ones in Christ for discipline. Remember i am not a scholar like you or even an advanced student, just an amateur school boy, so go easy on me, because I know I may think I am right until you answer me.

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      5. Remember Professor I am not a scholar like u or an advanced student. It will take me a little time of concentration for me to understand what you are seeking from me, to be sure what you are saying and hopefully I will answer you correctly. Maybe I should ask a question or two first.

        What do you mean by “Your free-
        choice?”

        By “typical” I think you mean what is it characteristic, normal or happening in the usual way. So sorry for having to break it down like this Professor Flowers. Vocabulary is not as strong as it should be. (Perspective) do you mean the way I as a calvinist I would typically, characteristically or normally view a certain person place or thing?

        Here being the concept of “using the means of grace” and that being “my free choice”.

        I think maybe I just don’t like the way you stated it above using the word “concept” which is something abstract of the mind. Not that that is wrong but I would rather say it this way with scripture.

        Philippians 2:12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

        I don’t mean this something I can do by works to procure my eternal salvation, we both know it is by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone

        I am to “work out my salvation with fear and trembling, reverencing God with complete obedience, by the means of complete help and grace of the Holy Spirit. Bringing my Salvation to it’s ultimate conclusion, CHRISTLIKENESS.

        I am making many choices that pertain to my salvation and I do so on a daily basis because Love for Christ and Glory for God have become my dominant desires. Not that they don’t fluctuate due to my disobedience in not choosing to pursue daily in following hard after the God of my salvation.

        Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and and to do his good pleasure.

        I am to follow all of God’s written revelation that still pertains for Christian’s today. The means of grace are necessary to work out my salvation with fear and trembling with reverence toward God with fear and obedience as I cooperate and receive the help and grace of the Holy Spirit to bring my Salvation to its ultimate conclusion, which is “CHRISTLIKENESS”

        and verse 2:13 of Philippians give me assurance that I will grow in Christlikeness, inner and outward holiness and all that encompasses.

        Philippians 2:13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and and to do his good pleasure.

        :Because God is working in me i am willing in an ever-creasing way to be industrious for God and to be pleasing in His sight.

        Hebrews 13:20-21 – Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,

        21,equip you with every good thing to do His will. And may He accomplish in us what is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

        A promise of God that I put my trust in.

        It is by the blood of the “eternal covenant” that God will accomplish in us what is “well pleasing” in his sight.

        I know “choice” means “an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.”

        When I was a sinner in the flesh I could do nothing pleasing to God in the flesh pertaining to my salvation apart from Christ and from the Holy Spirit who gives life, John 6:63. Without Christ we can do nothing. Nothing is not a little something. NOTHING!!!

        Now that I am have been born of God and embraced Christ through God-Given holy precious faith, I am no longer under the dominion of sin. Grace now reigns in me, because of the one man Christ Jesus. I am no longer a voluntary slave of sin and iniquity.

        So yes, because of the Holy word of God, that commands us to make use of the means and provision of Grace found only in the Lord Jesus Christ, I obey those commands to make use of procuring the means of Grace as directed by God’s Holy Word, because it pertains to my salvation in Christ.

        At times the willingness of my heart to procure the means of grace is weak and faint and I do not pursue the Lord as I ought. At other times my heart is strong and I feed on the word of God and exercise the other means of grace faithfully.

        I have learned there will always be that struggle inwardly between the Spirit and the flesh until the day I die

        Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

        17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you
        want to do.

        The Spirit and flesh are against are against and opposed to each other and keep me from doing the things I want to do.

        Not that I make no progress in growing in Christ because I trust God’s word that as I set my mind on the things of the Spirit which is life and Peace: Romans 8:29 says I have been predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son.

        So Am not I irresistibly being made willing to use the means of grace?

        I am cooperating with the Holy Spirit, for example to produce self-control in my life. One of the 9 virtues of Christ that will exhibit a well rounded Christian life. But the fact that being “Self-controlled is being cultivated into my life as i cooperate with the Holy Spirit, I am actually being Christ Control and becoming Holy. As the fruit is from the HOLY Spirit.

        But I do believe the dominant desire within me is righteousness, holiness, loving God with all my mind heart soul and might. and loving my neighbor as myself

        I grow in Christ to the proportion I choose to make use of the provisions of grace.

        I admit I fall way short of obeying God and availing myself of these provisions and means of grace.

        I know I must admit all the influences of the Holy Spirit into my heart, it is the Holy Spirit work or Ministry of sanctification. He is sanctifying me by the word of God, God’s word is truth. I must cooperate with the Spirit so the 9 virtues of Christ, fruit of the Spirit will be cultivated in my life.

        It was said in Barnes commentary, “If a man would yield his heart to those influences, he would be able to overcome all his carnal propensities; and it is because he resists that Spirit, that he is ever overcome by the corrupt passions of his nature. Never was a better, a safer, or a more easy rule given to overcome our corrupt and sensual desires than that here furnished; cooperate, cultivate and yield one’s life to the Holy Spirit daily.

        God Bless

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      6. [RS101] said, “My faith fluctuates at times, sometimes it is weak”

        Pastor Flowers responded, “Whose fault is that? Did God decide to withhold a level of grace at those times, or was that your own doing despite his provisions of grace?’

        Following Paul, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Of Abraham, Paul wrote, “He believed God.” God provides us faith through His word and the more we read, study, meditate upon that word, the more we come to understand and believe God and the stronger is our faith – the extent to which we believe God.

        Of the many graces of God are the word that he gave to each and every person through His prophets and the attraction to that word that He gives to His elect, able teachers to study the word and explain it to people, abundance of wisdom to those who ask Him for it, and on. Yet God does not force any person to take advantage of His grace but does prod His elect in many ways.

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      7. Kevin,

        Just wondering if it ever occurs to you that James White never addresses 1 John 5:1 in it’s context. Though he talks about the first phrase in the verse, he never mentions why it’s there. Or how it relates to second part of the sentence or preceding verses. If he did exegete the verse in its context, one would realize the phrase has nothing to do with the order of salvation. Since the first phrase of 1 John 5:1 when taken out of context is the only example of regeneration preceding faith, one can rest assured Mr. White is not about to start exegeting the phrase in its context.

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Hey Don,
    Interesting concept you brought up there, You may be correct, we all make mistakes that includes Dr. White. But I really believe Dr.White has probably did exegesis in 1 John 5 :1 in Context. You although although I could be wrong, I will take a look at it myself and appreciate you bringing this to my attention

    God bless kevin

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  19. Better yet don since you brought the issue up, why don’t you show me what you mean and exegete 1 John 5:1 in context. Ask any one on here. If I assert something I at least try to provide the evidence (even If I may be wrong and long). So Please exegete this for us in context and we will all work through it together,

    For the truth and the Glory of God

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  20. i HAD SOMEONE RECENTLY AFTER Dr. White applied proper exegesis on 1 John 5:1 that believing is a result of having been born again of God.

    1 John 5:1 – Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

    It clearly and plainly says that those who are in a present continuous state of believing in Christ, “have been born God”

    Just like in 1 John we also read that believers are doing, practicing righteousness, loving the brethren have been born of God.

    it does not say that you believe that you believe and then you are born of God.

    Believing
    Doing righteousness
    Loving the Brethren

    Are the evidences or fruit that one “has been born of God” Past tense

    1 John 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

    1 John 4:7 -Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

    1 John 5:1 – Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

    I was told the other night that 1 John 5:1 is not telling you HOW TO BE BORN AGAIN.

    Of course it is not, no where does God teach us how to be born again.

    john 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

    The sovereignty of the Spirit is what I believe when it come to being ‘born again and then ultimately converted to Christ by faith and repentance in God. As quick as the wink of an eye, in my opinion.

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  21. I think Brian is correct.
    At this time, I am joyfully admitting that when one is quickened and made alive while they are in trespasses and sins they were made alive together with Christ.Ephesians 2:1-5 and verse 6

    Here we are quickened and made alive in sins but, but ,made but, but, made alive together with Christ

    Colossians 2:12-14 New International Version (NIV)

    12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.

    Verse 14 says God made us alive together with Christ, while we where dead in our sins (same as in Ephesians 2)

    Theses two verses if I am not wrong seem to be saying that being born again and being made alive with Christ happens at the same time.

    Brian these two verses show me that I was wrong,and that is what these discussions are all about.. I going to keep studying this issue to ensure I have not missed anything. Have I said faith before regeneration, no.

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    1. Those are great verses, Kevin! But If you are saying that being “made alive” is the same as regeneration by the Spirit and receiving Christ, then you have a problem. For when one gets Christ at the moment he is made alive, he not only gets Christ’s life, but he also gets His righteousness and His indwelling Spirit. There are clear verses that these other two things must be a part of receiving Christ’s life into ours AFTER we express personal active faith in Him.

      [Rom 4:5 NKJV] “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,”
      [Gal 2:16 NKJV] “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
      [Acts 11:17 NKJV] “If therefore God gave them the same gift [indwelling Holy Spirit] as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
      [Eph 1:13 NKJV] “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,”

      Do you see Kevin how these verses plainly teach these gifts of salvation come after faith is expressed?

      Do you think that at the point of regeneration one should be called personally “saved”, or does being “saved” happen after regeneration? I can not think that having the life of Jesus in my life would be anything less than being called “saved”. And I don’t believe the NT teaches I am made alive without the life of Christ! So I believe being born again is being saved. They are the same thing, not two different events at two different times.

      I think Jesus words about the order of salvation from the parable of the sower are instructive –
      [Luke 8:12 NKJV] “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” I think it is normal to understand Jesus’ meaning that hard hearts do actually “hear” the Word when it is given. And the Word, as long as it remains in that heart, will be “living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing …the thoughts and intents of the heart” drawing it towards salvation. But hard hearts believe lies more easily, and the evil one takes away the seed of the Word from that hard heart with his lies. Yet that does not discount that Jesus words clearly indicate salvation was a possibility for that hard heart as seen by His words “should believe and be saved.” Notice too, that belief comes before salvation!

      Also, the Calvinist makes a big deal out of how that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8). However, how does that fit with [Heb 11:6 NKJV] “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Would the Calvinist not have to say that when regeneration takes place the born again person is still not pleasing to God until God then gives them faith later? And this verse would also indicate that coming to God cannot happen until after belief that God exists, already exists in that person. Is the Calvinist saying that being “made alive with Christ” by regeneration means that the person has not yet come to God since they can’t come until after they have faith according to this verse?

      The Calvinist has to twist so many natural understandings of Scriptures to hold onto this two-step giving of spiritual life, that is to them, making alive and then later receiving Christ, who is life! I am glad you have put them both together Kevin as one event! Now I hope you will work on seeing that there are two types of faith in Scripture. The one that is certainly a gift, for it is God’s revelation in the Gospel to which He adds the enlightenment of the Spirit when He presents it to the heart of a person. The other is a personal act of humility in accepting that gift, placing trust in its truth and in the person Christ to take away sins. That ability to make that personal act is a gift of God already in human nature from birth, which has retained His image even after the fall, and it is a gift of opportunity, for that personal act of faith can only be freely made when the gospel and God’s enlightenment are presented to him.

      But the responsibility for that act is the person’s, and the person’s alone. And the warning is when he has heard God’s voice he should not harden his heart. He may not get the gift of another opportunity to get saved!

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      1. brianwagner writes, “But If you are saying that being “made alive” is the same as regeneration by the Spirit and receiving Christ, then you have a problem. ”

        Ephesians 2 describes a “change” that is made to a person. His condition is that of being “dead in sin” and being the object of wrath. Then God “quickens” a person or “makes the person alive.” This is a work of God acting on the person and Calvinists give this action by God a label – regeneration.

        Then, there is the action of “receiving Christ.” Let’s assume that you mean that the person believes in Christ and thereby receives Christ. This occurs only after a person receives faith. Consequently, no one can say that being “made alive” and “receiving Christ” are the same thing. What some do say is that those actions essentially happen simultaneously as one is hearing the gospel preached but in a logical order – being made alive logically precedes receiving Christ.

        Your position, I think, is that God does not quicken a person until he first receives faith and believes in Christ. I think you are saying that being “made alive” is the action of Christ entering a person (“receiving Christ”). Are you? If so, then an exegesis of Ephesians 2 is necessary because it seems to say that the quickening occurs while the person is still dead – perhaps this is your position.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Roger, We both agree that being made alive takes one from death to life. I am saying, as Eph 2:5 says, that it happens “with Christ” when His life is given to the individual that exercises faith in Him.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “We both agree that being made alive takes one from death to life. I am saying, as Eph 2:5 says, that it happens “with Christ” when His life is given to the individual that exercises faith in Him.”

        The issue is to determine what Paul meant in saying “with Christ.” I am not sure that Paul meant this to say that Christ’s life is given to the person by this act of quickening. It need mean no more than that the quickening of the one dead in sin is to be identified with the quickening of Christ in the grave which then enables His resurrection.

        Under your system, you have the one who is dead in sin being able to respond to the preaching of the gospel so as to receive faith thereby believing in Christ and providing a basis for God to quicken the person. So, if one sinner is affected by the gospel, why not everyone who hears the gospel?

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      4. brianwagner writes, “Do you see Kevin how these verses plainly teach these gifts of salvation come after faith is expressed?”

        The verses do not say anything about being made alive. Being justified, having Christ’s righteousness imputed, being sealed all happen after faith is expressed as belief in Christ. These things are not identified as being made alive in the verses you cite. These verses allow for Ephesians 2 to describe an action that occurs prior to that which is described in those verses.

        Then, “I don’t believe the NT teaches I am made alive without the life of Christ!”

        So, you would order events in the following manner (even if they essentially happen simultaneously):
        – hearing the gospel
        – receiving faith
        – expressing faith in Christ
        – being made alive by receiving Christ into one’s life

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      5. brianwagner writes, “the Calvinist makes a big deal out of how that “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom 8:8). However, how does that fit with [Heb 11:6 NKJV] “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [Him],….” Would the Calvinist not have to say that when regeneration takes place the born again person is still not pleasing to God until God then gives them faith later?”

        This is where the argument comes about the relation between regeneration and being born again – whether they are the same thing. Ephesians 2 says that God takes a person who is “dead in sin” and makes them alive. That describes a change in the person. If being “made alive” is a process that encompasses hearing the gospel, receiving faith, expressing faith in Christ, and receiving Christ, it still stars with a change in the person that then enables the following sequence of events. The whole point of regeneration is that God must initiate the salvation process. This is the point of Pelagius’ objection. If God initiates the process, then only those who God acts on can be saved. So, do you have the same objection as Pelagius? Are you uncomfortable with God initiating the process to bring a person to salvation and not treating all people the same?

        Then, “Is the Calvinist saying that being “made alive with Christ” by regeneration means that the person has not yet come to God since they can’t come until after they have faith according to this verse?”

        Yes. Regeneration enables the person to come to God – and then to receive faith when he hears the gospel and then to act on that faith and believe. Without regeneration, a person cannot escape the life described in Ephesians 2.

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      6. Roger, I know you seem hardened against the probability that God has have sovereignly designed salvation to have some synergistic elements in it and that His perfection is not changed if He suffers rejection by relatively freed agents that reject His desires and enablements for their salvation in His plan. But you are also ignoring the argument of the necessity of faith to please God!

        In your view, is the one who is made alive but not yet in Christ pleasing to God or not? They have not yet exercised faith, so they cannot be pleasing to God, even though they have been made alive with Christ through regeneration, in your view, if Heb 11:6 is literally true.

        You asked – “Are you uncomfortable with God initiating the process to bring a person to salvation and not treating all people the same?” My answer – I believe God initiates the process with all, treating them all the same in providing the enablement and opportunity to accept His grace, but not treating them the same after they accept it or reject it.

        And I do not want to try to explain how it is possible to be enabled but still reject. 🙂 I know my explanation is enabling you once again to accept the truth, but you are certainly still free to keep rejecting it! 🙂

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      7. brianwagner writes, “I know you seem hardened against the probability that God has have sovereignly designed salvation to have some synergistic elements in it…”

        Oh, Brian!!! Our differing systems of salvation are built on the foundation of our differing views on the omniscience of God. I have no problem with salvation having synergistic elements. Such elements do not affect God’s knowledge of His elect and the reprobate known from the beginning of the world.

        Then, “you are also ignoring the argument of the necessity of faith to please God!
        In your view, is the one who is made alive but not yet in Christ pleasing to God or not? They have not yet exercised faith, so they cannot be pleasing to God, even though they have been made alive with Christ through regeneration, in your view, if Heb 11:6 is literally true.”

        Without faith a person cannot please God. To please God, the person must come to God and must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. The person described in Ephesians 2 as being dad in sin cannot please God without faith. A person must be made alive in order to receive faith. That faith is not conveyed except through the preaching of the gospel. Thus, we have this sequence of events:

        – The dead in sin is made alive (but without Christ as he has not heard the gospel)
        – The person made alive hears the gospel preached
        – By the preached gospel, faith is conveyed to the one previously made alive
        – The person made alive believes in Christ and Christ becomes alive in him

        Finally, “I believe God initiates the process with all, treating them all the same in providing the enablement and opportunity to accept His grace, but not treating them the same after they accept it or reject it. And I do not want to try to explain how it is possible to be enabled but still reject. 🙂 ”

        Of course, maybe the reason is that you haven’t figured out how to explain it.

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      8. This is interesting to follow. One thing would be to see Brian’s answer to rhutchin:

        “The whole point of regeneration is that God must initiate the salvation process. This is the point of Pelagius’ objection. If God initiates the process, then only those who God acts on can be saved. So, do you have the same objection as Pelagius? Are you uncomfortable with God initiating the process to bring a person to salvation and not treating all people the same?”

        What say you Brian?

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      9. Hi Les, I thought I did answer that. in my last response to Roger right before his followup and yours! Here it is again, and if you need more, let me know! 🙂

        My answer – I believe God initiates the process with all, treating them all the same in providing the enablement and opportunity to accept His grace, but not treating them the same after they accept it or reject it.

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      10. brianwagner writes, “My answer – I believe God initiates the process with all, treating them all the same in providing the enablement and opportunity to accept His grace, but not treating them the same after they accept it or reject it.”

        Now, if you could only figure out why a person could reject salvation under your scenario. Of course, if you have God treating all people the same so as to allow people’s individual differences to play out in acceptance or rejection, that would work and be consistent with a Pelagian based philosophy.

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      11. Thank you Brian. I had missed that answer. You said, “My answer – I believe God initiates the process with all, treating them all the same in providing the enablement…”

        Exactly what is that enablement God provides and what does it do in everyone?

        Thanks.

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      12. Good Morning Les! I thought we would have talked about these things before. But I don’t mind sharing what I believe about God’s enablement to everyone, at least a few times, to bring them to a place of repentance and opportunity to trust His mercy. I will list the Scriptures that I believe teach this. Let me know if you need more of my view. Of course, this is based on my understanding of the Scriptures that the future is only partly settled and the Book of Life had no names in it at creation.

        [Job 33:29-30 NKJV] 29 “Behold, God works all these [things], Twice, [in fact], three [times] with a man, 30 To bring back his soul from the Pit, That he may be enlightened with the light of life.
        [Jhn 1:4, 9 NKJV] 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. … 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
        [Act 17:26-27, 30 NKJV] 26 “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; … 30 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,
        [Rom 1:19-20 NKJV] 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown [it] to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
        [Rom 2:15-16 NKJV] 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves [their] thoughts accusing or else excusing [them]) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
        [Rom 10:17-18 NKJV] 17 So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out to all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”
        [Heb 4:12 NKJV] 12 For the word of God [is] living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
        [Gen 6:3 NKJV] 3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he [is] indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”
        [Heb 3:7-8 NKJV] 7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,

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      13. Good morning to you as well Brian, You said, “I will list the Scriptures that I believe teach this.” This seems to me to only state again that you believe that some kind of enablement occurs. Could you just state what that enablement is in your own words? What does God do in each person?

        Thanks.

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      14. Hi Les, I don’t think I can do better than the Scripture has! 🙂 God strives with every man at least a few times by at least using creation and conscience to make each one know that He exists and that they have sinned against Him. That word of God which is revealed directly to them pierces the thoughts and intents of their hearts and enables them to make a decision for or against it! They are warned that when they hear His voice, they should not harden their heart but repent. If they harden their heart they will be without excuse!

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      15. “to make each one know that He exists and that they have sinned against Him. That word of God which is revealed directly to them pierces the thoughts and intents of their hearts and enables them to make a decision for or against it!”

        Well, that is some explanation. Thank you. Do you think that prior to this action by God you just described, that all people do not know He exists and that they have sinned against God? Are all people, prior to this action by God, born neutral? Or hostile toward God? Thanks for helping me understand where you are coming from.

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      16. Sorry Les that I have not clearly made my position better known in these matters in one of our previous conversations. I think we would all be amazed at how much we are either unclear, not listening, misunderstanding, or wrongly interpreting what each other says! 🙂

        This is the Scripture that I think answers your questions!
        [Rom 11:32 NKJV] 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

        I do lean strongly to the “age of accountability” theory based on [Rom 7:9 NKJV] 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

        But we should be more concerned about being found in the state of rebellion caused by our personal sin, to which God commits us at the age of accountability. And we should be more concerned about responding to the mercy initiatives that God provides to all of us to bring us to salvation. If we harden our hearts against them, we are without excuse!

        And we are unable to repent and believe without those mercy initiatives. And they are not available at all times, nor can they be “stored up” and saved for later to respond to. The enablement and “freedom” to choose is only when God’s mercy/grace initiative is available.

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      17. brianwagner writes, “we should be more concerned about responding to the mercy initiatives that God provides to all of us to bring us to salvation. If we harden our hearts against them, we are without excuse!
        And we are unable to repent and believe without those mercy initiatives.”

        Under your system, some people respond to those mercy initiatives unto salvation and some harden their hearts unto damnation. What you are unable to do is explain how some people actually come to harden their hearts in the face of God’s mercy initiatives. As those mercy initiatives are adequate to bring some people to salvation, why not all people. Your view is very mysterious. I feel like a broken record. Should we just chalk up the incomprehensible irrationality of those who harden their hearts to mystery?

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      18. I too feel like you are a broken record, Roger! 🙂 But I and others do indeed comprehend as rational that you have hardened your heart against the reasonableness of God’s ability to enable a will to make a free choice! Many choose to freely harden their hearts for a number of reasons that are understandable, though negative! We have already agreed that either you or I are doing just that! And we are God enabled to do so!

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      19. brianwagner writes, “I and others do indeed comprehend as rational that you have hardened your heart against the reasonableness of God’s ability to enable a will to make a free choice!”

        Oh, Brian!!! Having seen the hopelessness of your position, you now try to shift the argument. I have not hardened my heart against the reasonableness of God’s ability to enable a will to make a free choice.” I agree fully with this. Isn’t it the Calvinist who says that free will was lost when Adam sinned and God must now enable that freedom if a perosn is to make a free choice (respecting salvation)? Of course, it is, as you know.

        The issue, that you are trying not very successfully to avoid, is the action of a person enabled by God to choose salvation to choose death instead. If God has enabled a person to make a free choice to accept salvation, the need is to explain how a person would choose against salvation. This is what you find yourself unable to do – and both you and I, and Les, see that you have no solution to this – but then, no other non-Calvinist has been able to explain it either, so don’t take this personal. Les and I are just having some good-natured fun with you because of the hole you have dug for yourself.

        Finally, “Many choose to freely harden their hearts for a number of reasons that are understandable, though negative! ”

        Oh, Brian, STOP teasing us!!. Could you identify one or two, or as many as you can, of the “number of reasons.”

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      20. You tell me why you are freely refusing to accept as true my position on what God does to the will of everyone a few times in their lives to enable them to accept or reject salvation. And you tell me why you are freely refusing to see that your ability to reject God’s will now is not parallel to the idea that man can reject God’s will to come to salvation!

        Your explanations, Roger, why you would “be freely refusing” these things will help you understand why I believe God enables people to freely refuse His grace initiatives in their lives drawing them to His salvation.

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      21. brianwagner writes, “You tell me why you are freely refusing to accept as true my position on what God does to the will of everyone a few times in their lives to enable them to accept or reject salvation. And you tell me why you are freely refusing to see that your ability to reject God’s will now is not parallel to the idea that man can reject God’s will to come to salvation! ”

        Poor Brian! It’s getting hot and he’s sweating.

        I understand your position and have no problem with you taking that position if that is what you want. Now, I am pushing you to investigate how your system might actually work in real life. You have God enabling each person to accept or reject salvation. It is easy to see why a person would accept salvation – a simple cost/benefit analysis explains it. The difficulty is explaining why a person would reject salvation. A simple cost/benefit analysis – pitting eternal life against eternal death – says that this should be an impossible outcome (for people that God, in His mercy, has actually enabled to accept salvation – the starting position being that of rejecting salvation). Yet, you are claiming that rejection is not only possible but may be a common outcome. I am not judging your position wrong at this point, but it seems unsustainable. How you ever tried to explain how a person could choose eternal death in your system.

        Again, you claimed many reasons could explain this. Were you just pulling my leg or have you actually identified such reasons (that you apparently feel compelled to keep hidden for now)?

        I do reject your position (hardening my heart against it as you say) simply because, I cannot think of any reason for a person to reject salvation other than in the absence of God’s mercy enabling him to make that decision. I think your claim that a person will reject salvation is unsupportable and must be rejected making your system default to a Calvinist system where all those are saved who experience God’s mercy.

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      22. Being lost is ultimately rejecting salvation/ accepting damnation… but Roger, you would agree that the rejections literally are first of the promise/warning of the salvation/damnation that are not seen. It is also a rejection of a God who has made that promise/warning, and He also is unseen.

        Are you saying that there would be no understandable reason for not humbling oneself to trust that unseen God and His unseen promise even after being led to be convinced of the reasonableness of the promise/warning? Remember there are other reasonable sounding alternative views to trust in! Some are offering unseen salvation without giving up the pleasures of sin. Some are even tied to religious looking events.

        We both agree that in salvation the will is eventually changed irreversibly to trust only in God’s promise. But I believe God does that for those who make the commitment of trust in the reasonable unseen promise made by an unseen God!

        That’s the best I can do Roger for you. I do not think I will be the one the Lord uses to enlighten you on this. But I am praying you will some day come to see it as Scriptural.

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      23. brianwagner writes, “Are you saying that there would be no understandable reason for not humbling oneself to trust that unseen God and His unseen promise even after being led to be convinced of the reasonableness of the promise/warning?”

        Why did you add, “…even after being led to be convinced of the reasonableness of the promise/warning?” If this condition holds, then there is no reason for rejecting salvation – else “convinced” is the wrong word to use.

        If you ask, “Are you saying that there would be no understandable reason for not humbling oneself to trust that unseen God and His unseen promise?” I answer in the negative. There are reasons why people do not humble themselves – Calvinism gives an explanation. When you add things like being convinced, everything changes.

        Then, “Remember there are other reasonable sounding alternative views to trust in! Some are offering unseen salvation without giving up the pleasures of sin. Some are even tied to religious looking events.”

        OK. As Pascal would have shown had he turned his notes into a book, Christ trumps all the other alternatives. On a purely logical basis, everyone should believe in Christ. That people do not tells us that something is terribly wrong – which the Calvinists nailed down as depravity and no one has found any other explanation.

        Then, “We both agree that in salvation the will is eventually changed irreversibly to trust only in God’s promise. But I believe God does that for those who make the commitment of trust in the reasonable unseen promise made by an unseen God!”

        OK. Everyone should do this. It’s a no-brainer when the options are eternal life and eternal death even without throwing in the “convincing” you added above. Why would a person willfully choose eternal death unless there was something wrong with him?

        Finally, “I do not think I will be the one the Lord uses to enlighten you on this. But I am praying you will some day come to see it as Scriptural.”

        But He has. We were able to nail down a key issue.

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      24. Brian, “Sorry Les that I have not clearly made my position better known in these matters in one of our previous conversations.” You probably have. There is a lot written here and it’s sometimes hard to keep up with what we all have said.

        Anyway, thanks for your replies. We differ, obviously. I think on this matter our differing anthropologies are the heart of the difference.

        Les

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      25. Thank you, Les, for considering my view of Scriptures on these matters. I actually think our anthropologies are fairly similar in that God has to overcome the inability caused by sin using His mercy initiatives to do it! I think the bigger issue is still how we each view God’s active sovereign freedom as He interacts within His sovereign plan, which, in my view of Scripture, does NOT include a fully predetermined future. The Scripture reveals, in my view, only a partially determined future, and how His foreknowledge fully encompasses that partially open plan, being composed of all known predeterminations and all known possibilities as they truly are.

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      26. brianwagner writes to Les, “I actually think our anthropologies are fairly similar in that God has to overcome the inability caused by sin using His mercy initiatives to do it!”

        By “inability caused by sin” do you mean to say that you agree with the Calvinists n concluding that people are Totally Depraved. If not, on what point do you disagree with them?

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      27. “I actually think our anthropologies are fairly similar in that God has to overcome the inability caused by sin using His mercy initiatives to do it!”

        Brian, maybe **similar** is a good word. But not the same. I believe that all have inability (as do you apparently) to believe in Jesus. I believe that we all have been given enough revelation by God (Romans 1) to be without excuse (18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.).

        I further believe that no man can believe in Jesus from his spiritually blinded state without God intentionally opening his spiritually blinded eyes. Each person to be saved from his **natural** hostile, God hating state in which he is born must have, because of his natural born condition, a **supernatural** act from outside himself–from the only One who can perform a supernatural act, God Himself.

        So that’s my view of man’s natural condition. Are we in agreement so far?

        Liked by 1 person

      28. Brian,

        “So far so good Les!” Yay! I have a full day of ministry activities. So maybe we can pick this up later to see where we begin to diverge in our views. 🙂

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      29. “What you are unable to do is explain how some people actually come to harden their hearts in the face of God’s mercy initiatives.”

        Yes, this is inexplicable. It seems kind of like anyone who has been sentenced to death and sits on death row knowing that he will be executed, and along comes someone with the authority and power to not just release him, but release him to a billionaire lifestyle for the rest of his life…yachts, luxury beyond description in some ways, etc. and the person sees what awaits him…the chair…OR…all that and says, “nope.” I choose the electric chair.

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      30. Well Les, that was not my quote, but I figured you would agree with Roger and try his worn-out argument! Calvinists love illustrations to try to teach theology! I think it’s better to stick with discussing specific Scriptures.

        But you would agree that your will has been freed enough by God to accept or reject His will for your present life! Why would you ever reject, now that you have been released from a death sentence and given a billionaire lifestyle? 🙂 [Actually we are promised a billionaire lifestyle after a life of suffering.]

        The unbeliever was convinced by God that his sins are worthy of death and God’s judgment!
        [Rom 1:32 NKJV] 32 “…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

        When God’s Spirit convicts them to go to Him for mercy –

        [Job 33:16-17, 23, 26 NKJV] 16 “Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction. 17 In order to turn man [from his] deed, And conceal pride from man, … 23 “If there is a messenger for him, A mediator, one among a thousand, To show man His uprightness, … 26 He shall pray to God, and He will delight in him, he shall see His face with joy, For He restores to man His righteousness.”

        – they have a choice to either repent and trust God for that mercy and to cry: “God be merciful to me a sinner”, or to harden their heart and choose to risk trusting some other way.

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      31. brianwagner writes,”– they have a choice to either repent and trust God for that mercy and to cry: “God be merciful to me a sinner”, or to harden their heart and choose to risk trusting some other way. ”

        We all agree to this. We have moved on and are now investigating the person who hardens his heart and trying to figure out why he would do this. Can you help us out? Have you figured out what might lead a person to reject life in the face of death?

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      32. Maybe, Roger, it would help thinking about how the trust or rejection for salvation is of a person and his promise without having any direct evidence of either the life promised or death threatened. God brings everyone to see the reasonableness of the promise and warning. He doesn’t give them an experience or hell and heaven before they are called on to choose! They must take the step of faith to commit to what their eyes have not yet seen! They must trust in the authority of the Word promised.

        The game is not the reasonableness of my view or your view… it is whether we play this game in your “ball” field of a totally predetermined human history, or on mine (and Scriptures’ 🙂 ) of a partially predetermined human history. Mine has the exercise of true free will for God and a partially freed will for man. Yours, makes both of those impossible!

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      33. brianwagner writes, “Maybe… it would help thinking about how the trust or rejection for salvation is of a person and his promise without having any direct evidence of either the life promised or death threatened. God brings everyone to see the reasonableness of the promise and warning. He doesn’t give them an experience or hell and heaven before they are called on to choose! They must take the step of faith to commit to what their eyes have not yet seen! They must trust in the authority of the Word promised.”

        This is nice but it still describes both those who accept and those who reject. There still remains the chore of identifying that factor or influence that differentiates the one accepting from the one rejecting. You state, “They must take the step of faith…” Are you proposing that the one accepting has faith and the one rejecting does not have faith (as the Calvinist concludes)? Or do you have both having faith but then, the need remains to identify a factor/influence that leads to rejection. Given your example here, I suspect that you have never been challenged to support your system. By contrast, the Calvinist system has withstood challenge. Of course, if you were to identify the reason a person could reject, that would be a great accomplishment (might even get you a Nobel Prize if such were given for theology).

        Then. “The game is not the reasonableness of my view or your view… it is whether we play this game in your “ball” field of a totally predetermined human history, or on mine (and Scriptures’:-) ) of a partially predetermined human history. Mine has the exercise of true free will for God and a partially freed will for man. Yours, makes both of those impossible! ”

        Oh, Brian!! Reasonableness is always a factor. If your view fails the reasonableness test – which it is having a hard time passing – then it is shown to be bankrupt. Free will is not an issue as your system grants free will to both those who accept and those who reject making it more difficult to support and thereby pass the reasonableness test. Calvinism has free will being enabled for those who accept salvation and is important to explaining why they accept salvation; and why those not given free will continue to reject as they always had.

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      34. Keep working on a solution to this problem. Who knows? Maybe there is a solution out there other than that which the Calvinists came up with. That’s the purpose of discussion; to identify issues that need to be addressed – Peer review.

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  22. Brian,
    I see exactly what you are saying and why I have a problem saying “I did not say faith precedes regeneration. Because if one has Jesus dwelling in him in the person, presence and power of the Holy Spirit, He had to repent of his sins towards God and have have faith by embracing Christ as His Lord and Savior. I see exactly what you are saying.

    I know Calvinist use Ephesians verse 1 to prove Regeneration before faith, but as I wrote above, because I seen it in God’s word, We were quickened and made alive in sins and also quickened and make alive in Christ.

    Colossians 2 -12-14 says the same thing. I can only admit at this time that faith precedes or it seems to precede regerations and being made alive in Christ that happens at the same time. I will further investigate not to defend Calvinism as I told you from the beginning if it is wrong I would change. I only want to be sure. Because sometimes things are not always as they seem

    Thanks for pointing that out to me

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    1. 0k Brian,not to boast
      but if feels good to say, I was wrong,

      In connection with him; or in virtue of his being raised up from the grave. The meaning is, that there was such a connection between Christ and those whom the Father hath given to him, that his resurrection from the grave involved their resurrection to spiritual life.

      Being quickened and made alive together with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit does not mean I am putting faith in Christ first. Just as Christ was quickened and raised from the dead we are in union through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit quickened us while we were still dead in trespasss and sins with Christ, then we are

      Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

      Our union with Christ continues, of course faith in Christ happens after we are quickened with Christ while still dead in sins.

      1.Christ death on the cross

      2.3 days in the grave

      3. Then Christ is quickened made alive spiritually resurrected the same as we are quickened and spiritually resurrected with Christ from being Spiritually dead in Sin.

      Then raised up in the heavenly places in Christ, the union continues

      But Faith preceding regeneration has nothing to do with being us being quickened with Christ and Spiritually Resurrected from sin

      This happens and prepares us to embrace Christ with saving faith. Praise to his Glorious Grace.

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  23. Brian.
    just to let you know I have no problems and believe the same as you do according to these verses, Not sure why you would think I would believe otherwise.

    [Rom 4:5 NKJV] “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,”
    [Gal 2:16 NKJV] “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
    [Acts 11:17 NKJV] “If therefore God gave them the same gift [indwelling Holy Spirit] as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?”
    [Eph 1:13 NKJV] “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,”

    Theses verses do not relate with Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:12-14. At least not directly. The two verses I mentioned that I mistakenly took as faith preceding regeneration I was wrong. They are not in the same category as those above. The explanation for these two verses are in my post above, You need to seriously consider them. We are in union with Christ all the way through this process of salvation, even being elected in Christ (before salvation) before the world began, Ephesians 1:4 So no surprise to me that when we are raised from spiritual death from transgressions and sins we are in union with Christ as he was resurrected from the dead and quickened in union with him.

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  24. No Brian.
    Look closely and more carefully. It is your tradition. Ephesians is only saying, the Even while when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, It is during regeneration being made alive while dead in sins we are spiritually resurrected in union Christ. That’s all

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    1. Do you hear what you are saying, Kevin? You believe Paul is saying that first we are dead in sins, but while we are still dead in sins, we are made alive by the Spirit (Calvinistic regeneration, some kind of spiritual life), so now we are still dead but also alive but not yet resurrected with Christ’s life, which is some other kind of spiritual life and which can also be called being “made alive”. Really?

      If we are made alive “with Christ” that is salvation. We have Him, His righteousness, HIs Spirit, etc, which other verses I showed to you reveal clearly are only by faith. You cannot have part of Christ’s life and not have those things too! Yes, we are guaranteed resurrection and glorification with Him so much so that those events can be spoken of as positional and in the past tense (raised with HIm and seated with HIm). But there are not too events of receiving Christ!

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      1. Spiritual regeneration and our being quickened together with Christ are one in the same Brian. Did not say they where different, we are talking about the trinity the deity the Godhead here I did not say I was getting any part of Christ life that is your understanding or I should say misunderstanding. Since you emphasized the Calvinistic regeneration let me ask you how the diminished humanistic god of open theism regeneration works? Only fair to be honest on here. No Brian your terminology below could be correct, your traditional baptist or whatever you are I don’t even know, some denominational brand I think.

        You said and i quote”If we are made alive “with Christ” that is salvation”

        If a sinner has been regenerated, made alive together with Christ and now has received Christ by faith, that is Salvation.

        A Christian can be “with Christ” in heaven. When we embrace Christ through faith I agree with those other verses Brian with have those blessings. There is only one event of receiving Christ.

        Being quicken together says nothing about having faith in Christ. It speaks of his resurrection regeneration life giving power that all three persons in the Godhead are endowed with, they are God.

        1.God raised Jesus from the dead
        2.The Father raised Jesus from the dead
        3.The Holy Spirit Raised Jesus From the Dead
        4.Jesus raised himself from the dead

        You see Brain The Godhead, the three in one, one in essence and being all have regenerating resurrecting spiritual life giving power from spiritual death.

        Acts 2:24 – But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

        Romans 8:11-And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

        Galatians 1:1 -1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead

        John 10:18 -No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

        “Destroy this temple,” He said, referring to His body, “and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).

        John 10:18 – No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

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  25. Brian,
    it does happen in spiritual union with Christ that we are regenerated and made alive, but nothing to do with us having faith before hand. Reading to many scholars now that believe the same way, It is not the sinner have faith preceding regeneration, It is being born again, the new birth in union spiritual union with Christ,

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    1. Picture yourself, Kevin, arguing against Hubmaier in the 16th century! He keeps asking you to look at the simple reading of the context of Scripture and you keep saying by that you are “reading too many scholars now that believe the same way” as you do!

      Do you believe climate change is mostly man-made and that man can make a significant change to its future because the majority fo scientists believe in it? Do you believe in evolution and an old earth because most scientists, even Christian ones, believe that, even though the Scriptures present a young earth model? Do you believe infant baptism is clearly God’s will for Christians because most Christian scholars hold dogmatically to that idea that has no clear Scripture support?

      You need to trust the anointing you have received from God that teaches you about all things and enables you to test all things for yourself by using the Scriptures alone!

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      1. Hey Brian I figured the Ephesians 2 and Colossians verses out on my own. That is why I am so excited so God has shown me this.

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      2. Brian said: “You need to trust the anointing you have received from God that teaches you about all things and enables you to test all things for yourself by using the Scriptures alone!”

        Then I guess I should just stay home from church I don’ need the teachers and the pastor God has placed over me for my spiritual welfare.

        Brian not to be mean, but you need to read your post sometimes and hear your ramblings (that intend to try and make you look intelligent)

        Brian just trust God when studying the scriptures, do it soberly and prayerfully, don’t lean some much on your natural innate God given gifts.

        Just think about it and mediaite about it before responding to defending you innate God given gifts, they can be a weakness

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  26. Careful Brian,
    you are just as hardened against Calvinism saving only those he elected from the foundation of the world. No one deserves salvation. buy wrath and justice, he has mercy on whom he will have mercy and hardens whom he will harden. Some are made vessels of wrath and some are made vessels of mercy from the same lump.

    ..Rom 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
    Rom 9:24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

    Jews and gentiles from the same lump he prepared unto glory, not just temporarily hardened jews Leighton

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    1. Paul ends the whole discussion of how God sovereignly arranged salvation in Romans 9-11 by saying: [Rom 11:32 NKJV] “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.” God does have mercy on WHOM He wants to have mercy! Amen and Amen! And He wants to and does have mercy on ALL… on ALL… on ALL! Amen and Amen!

      The extra emphasis was because I know how much you like EMPHASIS, Kevin! 🙂

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      1. brianwagner writes, “Paul ends the whole discussion of how God sovereignly arranged salvation in Romans 9-11 by saying: [Rom 11:32 NKJV] “For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.”

        Of course, the theme of Romans is that Jews and Gentiles are both the same.
        – the gospel…is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
        – If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?
        – there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
        – There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
        – We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.
        – Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
        – Abraham is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith
        – What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.
        – What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
        – if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.

        Let’s look at context for 11:32:
        25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in…
        30 Just as you [Gentiles] who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their (the Jews) disobedience,
        31 so [the Jews] too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you [Gentiles].
        32 For God has bound all men – both Jew and Gentile – over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all – both Jew and Gentile.

        Paul uses “all” in broad terms.

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      2. “…not everyone is bound over to disobedience by God!”

        Oh, Brian!!!!

        “…God has bound all men – both Jew and Gentile – over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all – both Jew and Gentile.”

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  27. Brian is a little touchy today and is sarcasm gear is working fine 🙂 Makes me chuckle. I think Brian knows we are right about the Ephesians and Colossians verses, I have never heard him say that he is wrong about anything on here and here I mistakenly understood two verses and thought to myself that maybe the Reformed faith is not correct. God immediately showed me something as I mediated on those verses and it was like a light in the darkness. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness overcomes it not. Thank you Lord I have an anointing from the Holy Spirit who teaches me all things, but thank you for the gifts you gave us through your word pastors evangelists and teachers, gifted and blessed of God that Brian thinks he does not need..

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  28. Rom 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

    actually Brian it says he cosigned them all to disobedience , that he may have mercy on all.

    Looks like to me all will get mercy

    No,l don’t think this one verse sums up romans 9-11

    Brain is right partially, all the elect who have faith in Christ will receive mercy.

    Cause God has mercy on whom he will have mercy

    and John 6:37 – all the Father gave to Jesus are guaranteed to come to him, he has promised not to cast them out, he will do the will of the Father and lose none, and raise them all up on the last day.

    It will be the Lord adding to the church daily those who are being saved.

    Let me emphasise (THE LORD ADDING TO THE CHURCH THOSE WHO ARE BEING SAVED,) THOSE THE FATHER GAVE TO JESUS, JESUS WILL GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO jOHN 17:2

    What does Brian do with these verse, we answer his proof texts… hmmmmmmmmm

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  29. God, in quickening Christ, hath also quickened us; Christ’s quickening, or receiving his life after death, being not only the type and exemplar of our spiritual enlivening or regeneration, but the cause of it, inasmuch as we are quickened, as meritoriously by his death, so effectively by his life: Christ, as having died and risen again, exercised that power the Father gave him of quickening whom he will, John 5:21. Ephesians 2:5

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  30. Of course we do not assume that sinners are so evil and rebellious against God that they refuse to even receive the gospel offer. It would be a horrible thing if we assumed that. If the Scriptures did not clearly state that the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, it would be unthinkable for us to merely assume that such hostility could exist. The fact is that that is precisely what the Scriptures state. Additionally, the in same passage the apostle goes on to state that both Jews and Gentiles [not some Jews and some Gentiles] continue in their rejection of Christ having been crucified. And Dizner, of course I read Rom 8 in context. Paul did not write “Sinners are unable to please God by keeping the law; therefore, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” He wrote, “the mind of the flesh is hostile toward God. . .” The sinner’s inability to be subject to God’s law is the evidence of that hostility. “Therefore, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Sinners cannot please God because our desires are diametrically opposed to his revealed will.

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    1. Hi Randy! In Rom 8, Paul is certainly clear about the extent of the sin problem in unsaved man (those “in the flesh”). They continually walk according to the flesh, and they continually think about the things of the flesh. That mindset, ruled by the flesh is in a position of hostility towards God and of rebellion towards God’s rule in that unsaved life. That unsaved man cannot use that mindset to come under subjection to God’s rule or to please God.

      But an important question remains… Can God’s gracious enlightenment create (not irresistibly) a foothold within unsaved man’s spirit, not in his flesh, that can free up man’s understanding and will enough to have an opportunity to choose to seek further grace and understanding, in opposition to his flesh’s mindset? I believe the answer is yes!

      Rejection of such gracious enlightenment leaves man completely without excuse at the judgment. And humble acceptance of God’s gracious initiative leads to God providing more enlightenment, leading eventually to the will having freely an opportunity to humbly trust completely in God’s mercy for forgiveness. When God sees that trust moment, He then provides, according to His promise, regeneration, which is His everlasting life.

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      1. brianwagner writes, “But an important question remains… Can God’s gracious enlightenment create (not irresistibly) a foothold within unsaved man’s spirit, not in his flesh, that can free up man’s understanding and will enough to have an opportunity to choose to seek further grace and understanding, in opposition to his flesh’s mindset? I believe the answer is yes!”

        The question then, is whether this is possible. Can enlightenment without regeneration really do anything? Sinners can clearly understand the Scriptures for the most part as those Scriptures speak to sin and the need for salvation. No real enlightenment is needed there. The problems are (1) No one can come to Christ (John 6), (2) no one can see the kingdom of God (John 3), (3) no-one can enter the kingdom of God, (4) no one accepts Jesus’ testimony, and (4) no one seeks God (Romans 3), (5) no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12) and (6) not all men have faith (sinners do not) (2 Thessalonians 3:2).

        Sinners have a lot of problems to overcome. So, what do you mean by “enlightenment”? What exactly do you see it doing to free up a person’s understanding which presumably is spiritual understanding such that they might then seek even more grace and understanding?

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      2. You really do like go over old ground, Roger! We have covered this all before. All those things you listed that “no-one” does, we both agree that “some” actually do do by God’s grace!

        You just think the “some” are only a few pre-selected before creation (though in reality for the Calvinist they were eternally set on this course with no real divine decision involved), and that God’s grace to get them to come, see, enter, accept, seek, say, and exercise faith was irresistible and called regeneration. Of course it is only irresistible for some things, but then after new life (which somehow was not given in regeneration) is finally received, this “some” can still disobey God’s gracious commands if they want. The irresistibility wore off for some reason!

        I just believe the Bible clearly teaches that the “some” that God’s grace enables to come, see, enter, accept, seek, say, exercise faith, are enabled by His gracious enlightenment which He provides a few times to all (Job 33:20, John 1:9, 2Pet 3:9), and which they must freely accept or reject.

        Yes they are brought “irresistibly”, if you will, to a be able to make a free decision to accept or reject God’s gracious enlightenment. If they freely accept they receive more grace until they are brought to the opportunity to decide to trust in God’s mercy for their sin. If they keep rejecting they lose what enlightenment they had and stand condemned without excuse for refusing God’s mercy in Christ.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “…we both agree that “some” actually do do by God’s grace!”

        Of course. That is basic Calvinism – all of grace. But contrary to the Universalist, some; not all.

        Then, “You just think the “some” are only a few pre-selected before creation…”

        At the least, selected by God. The issue being when God had determined the things He would do. Under your view, God cannot know that Adam and eve will even have children since that was their decision, but Genesis 3, regarding childbirth and the enmity between Satan and Eve’s offspring, tell us that God was pretty confident of that outcome.

        Then, “(though in reality for the Calvinist they were eternally set on this course with no real divine decision involved),…”

        If no divine decision, then nothing happens. Of course, God decides what he will do – God wills this, predestines that, ordains all things. How the mind of God works is the mystery. If a man were to look in the microscope to see an amoeba, itself looking into a microscope to see an amoeba in his sight, then God is the man and we are the amoeba at the end of the chain. What could we expect to know about God if He did not tell us?

        Then, “…and that God’s grace to get them to come, see, enter, accept, seek, say, and exercise faith was irresistible and called regeneration. Of course it is only irresistible for some things,…’

        But, of consequence, for salvation. Paul says, “God who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Thus, “No-one can come to Christ unless the Father…draws him,..unless the Father has enabled him…” so this is the good work begun by God. Of those drawn, Christ says, “whoever comes to me I will never drive away…I will raise him up at the last day,…” God’s actions bring certain results – how else to describe that grace other than irresistible.

        Then, “…but then after new life (which somehow was not given in regeneration) is finally received, this “some” can still disobey God’s gracious commands if they want. The irresistibility wore off for some reason!”

        Without the new life (or new birth), a person cannot see the kingdom of God nor enter in. Thus, some see no difference between regeneration and the new birth (wherein many changes taking place).

        Then, “I just believe the Bible clearly teaches that the “some” that God’s grace enables to come, see, enter, accept, seek, say, exercise faith, are enabled by His gracious enlightenment which He provides a few times to all (Job 33:20, John 1:9, 2Pet 3:9), and which they must freely accept or reject.”

        So, you are free to believe. However, it is only those who accept who are most certainly among the “some.” Those who reject had always rejected, so there is no real basis to say that God had extended grace to them sufficient in purpose to bring them to salvation.

        What does John 1 tell us–

        “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognise him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” If all enabled, then all rejected. Then, “…all who received him, to those who believed in his name,..[were]… born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” We know from John 3, that this was the work of the Holy Spirit.

        2 Peter 3:9 says that God does not want any to perish, so maybe the Universalists are right. The Calvinists, understanding the Scriptures to say that some will perish, limit the verse to God’s elect, none of whom, it is certain, will perish.

        Job 33, speaks of God’s treatment of people warning through dreams and through sickness to turn them from their sin and not die. Whether this refers to salvation, it, at least, refers to physical death. That person says – “‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right, but I did not get what I deserved. He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light.’” So, would this make the Catholics correct – “His soul draws near to the pit, and his life to the messengers of death.“Yet if there is an angel on his side as a mediator (perhaps Mary or a priest), one out of a thousand, to tell a man what is right for him, to be gracious to him and say, ‘Spare him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for him’– then his flesh is renewed like a child’s; it is restored as in the days of his youth.”

        Finally, “Yes they are brought “irresistibly”, if you will, to a be able to make a free decision to accept or reject God’s gracious enlightenment.”

        We still don’t know what you mean when you use the term, ‘enlightenment.” We know from John 6 that it is not God’s drawing, or the work of the Holy Spirit from John 1, or the new birth from John 3. Do you mean no more than the preaching of the gospel?

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      4. And so we are back again Roger at the meaning of “sufficient” as it relates to the grace to lead to salvation! 🙂 To you to be sufficient it has to be irresistible. To me it has to be enabling for a choice for or against to be sufficient.

        But you are in a minority with Calvinists if you truly link regeneration with new birth as the same event. If you do, we are talking about what God does before that event in a person’s life. Of course we both believe that this one event is necessary for the future entrance and seeing of the kingdom of God which is yet to come!

        Enlightenment takes all kinds of forms, but is always, in my view, a personal involvement of God to give the opportunity and ability to seek more knowledge and grace, but not irresistibly.

        You also fudge on describing God’s pre-creation ordaining of who gets selected. You said – “If no divine decision, then nothing happens. Of course, God decides what he will do – God wills this, predestines that, ordains all things. How the mind of God works is the mystery.”

        God’s mind is evidently not so much a mystery to you and other Calvinists. You know it seems for sure that God’s mind cannot change in anyway. This makes decision making an impossibility, for decisions require first forethought and then a change from thinking about future possibilities to making a choice which then produces thinking about future certainties. If the future was eternally set, then no decisions actually take place, no matter how much you profess that they do.

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      5. brianwagner writes, “…the meaning of “sufficient” as it relates to the grace to lead to salvation! 🙂 To you to be sufficient it has to be irresistible. To me it has to be enabling for a choice for or against to be sufficient.”

        I think we have progressed a little further on this. We both agree that a person can only be saved by God’s grace through an “enablement.” Now we want to identify what God has to do to enable a person to choose salvation. For the Calvinists, enablement includes regeneration wherein the heart of stone is replaced with a heart of flesh, “libertarian” free will (or the ability to choose the good) is restored, faith provided, and the person then drawn to Christ.

        Then, “But you are in a minority with Calvinists if you truly link regeneration with new birth as the same event. If you do, we are talking about what God does before that event in a person’s life.”

        From what I understand, even those Calvinists who identify regeneration as different from the new birth, the two occur close together, even simultaneously. This is because, some “enablements” are done by God and some by the Holy Spirit and both occur at the time a person decides on salvation.

        Then, “Of course we both believe that this one event is necessary for the future entrance and seeing of the kingdom of God which is yet to come!”

        Not exactly, When Jesus replied to Nicodemus, ““I tell you the truth, no-one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again,” the context can be taken to point to salvation. While the kingdom of God is described as something to be inherited at a future date, it is still preached as a present reality. One is born again or saved by the word – “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God…Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…” (1 Peter 1)

        Then, “Enlightenment takes all kinds of forms, but is always, in my view, a personal involvement of God to give the opportunity and ability to seek more knowledge and grace, but not irresistibly.”

        So, might we not expect that personal involvement by God would guarantee that each person did seek more knowledge if only, in your view, to make a decision. Nonetheless, we have progressed to identifying “enablement” with the personal involvement of God to do something “to give the opportunity and ability to seek more knowledge and grace, but not irresistibly.” Have you identified what that “something” is?

        Then, “You also fudge on describing God’s pre-creation ordaining of who gets selected. You said – “If no divine decision, then nothing happens. Of course, God decides what he will do – God wills this, predestines that, ordains all things. How the mind of God works is the mystery.”

        I see no fudging. No one is saved unless God decides to save. God’s decision was made in eternity past since, as you agree, God learns nothing new or that He had not anticipated in the passing of time, so nothing prevented Him making those decisions.

        Finally, “God’s mind is evidently not so much a mystery to you and other Calvinists. You know it seems for sure that God’s mind cannot change in anyway. This makes decision making an impossibility, for decisions require first forethought and then a change from thinking about future possibilities to making a choice which then produces thinking about future certainties. If the future was eternally set, then no decisions actually take place, no matter how much you profess that they do.”

        The Scriptures clearly say, “For I am the LORD, I change not;” (Malachi 3) The question then is how far we should take this. There does not seem to be a “time” element to which God is subject. We can speak of eternity past or God being from everlasting to everlasting, but there is no real concept of beginning or ending with God – God IS and there does not seem to be another way to describe Him. When God “thinks” we don’t envision one part having a thought of which another part is ignorant. We can only think of God within the limits of our finite mind which thinks in finite terms as you well demonstrate. Even when we think of infinity, it is in the context of a beginning and ending even if the beginning and ending do not exist. God says, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are…my thoughts than your thoughts.” This basically seems to say that we don’t have a clue how God thinks.

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      6. Well, I’ve done that best I could, once again, to point out the inconsistency in your thinking, Roger. But just some closing thoughts… The terms “close together” and “simultaneously” do not mean the same thing. But God and the Holy Spirit are one and the same! And as to how God thinks, we take Him as His Word about how He thinks! Blessings, my friend.

        My guess is that you will want to make another comment to add to this thread of conversation between us. My lack of reply will only be because I view our conversation as repetitive. We said enough for others to judge which of us is being the most reasonable and Scriptural in these matters, in my view.

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      7. Let’s conclude that it is difficult for the non-Calvinist to describe what they think God does by grace thereby “enabling for a choice for or against to be sufficient.”

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      8. Brianwagner,

        Of course God have done that if he had pleased, but there is no indication in the Scriptures that he has done so. The Scriptures, on the other hand, clearly state that God calls people according to his purpose and that those he calls are justified. None are justified but those who are called and every one who is thus called is justified. God does not change hearts of stone into partially stony hearts nor does he put a partially renewed disposition within us. I know some would like to believe that for some unrevealed reason there are sinners that react better to God’s revelation than others, but I have seen no biblical evidence whatsoever that indicates that such is the case. It is my view that our doctrine should be drawn from didactic passages that deal with the specific doctrine under scrutiny but I have seen no evidence from such passages [e.g. Rom. 8:28-36], that give any indication that there is such an ineffectual prevenient grace that leaves elect sinners in limbo with the possibility of being lost forever.

        It is my view that we could discuss these issues to infinity and never arrive at agreement because the presuppostions with which we begin are radically different. It appears to me that one of your presuppositions must be that there is some basic difference between sinners that in some way enables them to react rightly to God’s superabundant revelation. I find no biblical evidence whatsoever that one sinner is any better by nature than another. I have no difficulty whatsoever with the idea that God has granted greater measures of common grace to some than to others, but however great the revelation of his benevolence toward them may have been, their reaction to it has been hardness and inpenitance and universal rejection of the gospel, until God, by free and sovereign grace, calls them into union with his Son.

        The more I consider the controversy over these issues, the more I am convinced that much of the reason for our disagreement results from differing views regarding faith and repentance. I don’t think anyone who believes the doctrine called “Calvinism” would disagree that unregenerate sinners are able to agree to the facts of the gospel and agree to let Jesus pardon them so they can go to heaven when they die. We would also believe that such sinners can remain in an unregenerate state and perish for eternity. What sinners are not able to do is see, with delight, the light of the glory of God as it is revealed in the face of Christ, resulting in a radical transformation of their stony hearts. Nothing less is conversion.

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      9. Hi Randy, Actually, I am surprised that you do not see there are a multitude of clear Scriptures that reveal God’s appeal to all unsaved to hear His voice and not harden their hearts (Heb 3:7-8). The inspiration of four gospels to appeal to unsaved minds (John 20:31) and the great commission (Mark 16:15) in each clearly demonstrate this.

        Your appeal to inferences from two passages that were not given to teach about how one gets saved is a common tactic by Calvinists. Ezekiel 36 and Rom 8 were not written for that purpose. Ezekiel 36 was concerning the future transformation of the nation of Israel, and Romans 8 is about assurance of salvation, were “called” is not a pre-salvation work but a standing. Neither are about what happens prior to personal regeneration.

        As to human nature – I agree – “I find no biblical evidence whatsoever that one sinner is any better by nature than another” if you are speaking about the soul’s composition at birth. But God’s grace does come to all at various times during life (Job 33:14-30, John 1:4-9, and 2Pet 3:9). It has its own enabling power as seen clearly that even the hardened soil that receives the Word, it can eventually understand and be saved, if the seed’s influence is not stolen, scorched, or choked (Luke 8:12 – “lest they should believe and be saved”).

        I also agree that unregenerate sinners can assent to gospel facts and to desires to be delivered from hell and yet still remain lost. Where we disagree is that the unregenerate soul can, and often does, eventually freely respond, after previous positive responses to God’s enlightenment, to commit to trust in Jesus to save him from his sins. That man never remains unregenerate after making that commitment of faith, for God fulfills His promise and causes His regeneration to take place in such a heart!

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      10. brianwagner, You wrote, “Where we disagree is that the unregenerate soul can, and often does, eventually freely respond, after previous positive responses to God’s enlightenment, to commit to trust in Jesus to save him from his sins.” What you have failed to demonstrate is that there are positive responses to God’s saving activity that don’t eventuate in conversion. I have no question that God’s deals with some more gradually than he does with others and that with his enablement they move little by little more and more toward the light. Some see men as trees walking while others see with great visual acuity. Conversely, there are some who are temporarily enamored by the gospel environment who never receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. I think your burden is to show any didactic passage that indicates that God begins his salvific work in any who ultimately perish.

        Apparently, one of the great differences between us it that we have been trained differently about the interpretation of parables. I was taught that parables were intended to teach one central lesson, but apparently you were taught that we should try to make them walk on all four feet.

        Apparently, Jesus and Paul didn’t understand as you do that Ezek 36 has exclusive reference to Israel. Both of them seemed to think it had reference to being born of God (John 3 and Titus 3) “Born of water and Spirit” and “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Sound strangely like Ezek 36:25-27.

        There is no question that “the called” in Romans 8:28 is a designation for believers, but the “he also called” in verse 30 is clearly speaking of a divine salvific work which will invariably eventuate in justification and glorification. The passage is concerned with the certainty that all who have been justified will also be glorified, but throughout the entire passage the same people are in view. Everyone who is called is also justified and glorified. What I am waiting for you to show me are the examples of those who have been called because they first came to faith in Christ. Show me a passage that demonstrates there are sinners who do not regard the gospel as foolishness and do not ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit and yet finally perish in their sins.

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    2. gracewriterrandy writes, “Sinners cannot please God because our desires are diametrically opposed to his revealed will.”

      From Hebrews 11, we also know that without faith, it is impossible to please God and 2 Thessalonians 3:2, “pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men (i.e., sinners), for not everyone has faith.” So, a lot of things are wrong with sinners among which are different desires and no faith.

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  31. Why do non-Calvinist seem to be hung up on the idea that Calvinists believe “only a few pre-selected people will be called? ” I don’t think I have ever met a Calvinist who did not believe that Jesus has redeemed a multitude that no man can number, but such is the world of straw man stuffing.

    Additionally, all should member that as J.I. Packer has reminded us, “Grace is irresistible only in that sense that it removes the dispostion to resist.”

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    1. Hi Randy. I don’t think there is a straw man argument involved here, for I would think you have heard Calvinists use “few there be that find it” (Matt 7:14) and “few are chosen” (Matt 22:14) in support of their view of election. And I think you might be equivocating on the word “few”, unless you have some good reason to believe that there will be more than 3% to 5% elect of the total human population. For unless the percentages are much higher, from the Calvinist’s viewpoint there will be relatively “few”, at least of those who reached the age of accountability, that God has enabled irresistibly to be saved, even if their number reaches an “innumerable” size. That group pales in comparison with the number damned, according to the results of Calvinist theology.

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      1. There will be no fewer people redeemed in the Calvinists’ perspective than in the non-Cavinists’ POV. The difference is that in the non-Calvinists’ view there would not be FEW saved but NONE saved since only those who wish may come and no one wishes as long as he remains in a state of nature. Sinners may freely choose whatever we wish and that is the problem. I am not sure I understand why you think the Calvinist imagines a smaller company of the redeemed than Arminians do.

        The purpose and effect of the divine decree is to assure that God will have a people for himself. He and he alone has determined how large the company of the redeemed will be and we are encouraged to know that it will be an innumerable multitude.

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      2. Hi Randy. Thanks for your replies. I hope you won’t mind but I am going to put my responses to all of them in this one.
        1. The issue is not that it may be, by percentage, an innumerable few that end up being saved by responding in faith to God offers of mercy, compared to the innumerable many that end up lost for rejecting His offers. The issue is that Calvinism believes God planned it to be that way. The Scripture however teaches that God never planned any to perish, but for an opportunity for all to come to repentance (2Pet 3:9), and that He provides enlightenment to all to bring them to that opportunity. It doesn’t/didn’t have to end up that the percentage will end up being few! But I have personally heard Calvinists teach from Matt 7:14 and 22:14 that the pre-selected before creation was determined to be few compared to the multitude of damned reprobate.
        2. Yes, Hebrews 3:7-8 is addressed to professing believers! It is not a warning that fits the Calvinist elect, for they cannot harden their hearts once they hear, nor can it be for the Calvinist reprobate for they cannot hear and can only harden their hearts.
        3. I think Randy you are equivocating again, this time with the terms “free” and “sincere”. If I spoke out loud right here, right now, of a generous gift I have for you to receive from me, and all you have to do is name it and trust me to give it to you, I don’t think you would feel yourself as very free (able) to name it, or that I am very sincere in offering it, if you cannot not hear my voice tell you exactly what I am offering.
        4. You said – “I think your burden is to show any didactic passage that indicates that God begins his salvific work in any who ultimately perish.” I did just that with the parable of the sower. I agree with the rule of interpretation, not to make a parable “walk on all fours.” But I was pointing to Jesus’ own didactic interpretation of the parable. You did not comment on His clear view that the Word if remaining in the hard soil, would lead to an opportunity for faith and salvation. What else could Jesus have meant when He said – “lest they believe and are saved” (Luke 8:12). He also said of the second soil, that they not only “hear” but they “receive the word” and “believe for a while”. This sounds sufficient to fulfill the burden of proof you placed on me. But also, all the warnings, like Hebrews 6, give didactic examples of individuals that God is appealing to because they have experienced aspects of His grace leading to salvation, but have not mixed it all yet with personal faith. Why warn them if they are truly not going to make it because of His pre-creation, predetermination, of their damnation?
        5. Randy, if you think I am stretching Jesus’ meaning in the parable of the sower, I think that you are certainly stretching Ezekiel’s meaning in the prophecy of Israel’s future as a nation. That prophecy is not pointing to John 3 or Titus 3, nor do those passages directly use its language. If we can match up OT prophecies with the NT that way, we can match up a lot of unrelated things. Roman Catholic allegorical interpretations were notorious for doing just that, and look at what resulted from that! If any NT passage would relate to Ezekiel 36, it would be Paul’s discussion in Rom 11 about how God is not done with Israel yet.
        6. Romans 8 is a chapter of encouragement to those who are in Christ Jesus so that they would have assurance of salvation in the midst of opposition. A list of guaranteed benefits of their salvation is found in Romans 8:29-30. They are not chronologically given, but contemporaneously experienced at the moment of new birth. They happened (aorist tense) altogether at the moment of regeneration, though some have only a positional fulfillment in their lives at the time of Paul’s writing. The special relational knowledge, the determined Christ-like outcome, the divine calling identification, and the positional justification and glorification all started back when these believers to whom Paul is writing were joined to Christ as individuals.
        I hope this helps some.

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      3. brianwagner writes to Randy, “The Scripture however teaches that God never planned any to perish, but for an opportunity for all to come to repentance (2Pet 3:9), and that He provides enlightenment to all to bring them to that opportunity.”

        2 Peter 3 is stated much stringer than you portray it. The key is the phrase, “not willing.” It does not mean “is willing” if the person squanders the opportunity. Many people over the course of time never heard the gospel and never heard of Christ. If God is “not willing” that these perish, then they will not perish. So it is with all people. The negative cannot be negated by any action by a person – if God is “not willing” that any person perish then none will perish regardless how they behave.

        Then, “You said – “I think your burden is to show any didactic passage that indicates that God begins his salvific work in any who ultimately perish.” I did just that with the parable of the sower.”

        What you seem to be saying is that the preaching of the gospel is the beginning of God’s salvific work. However, even you say that God must also enable the person (in some manner you are unable to explain but certainly more than just listening to a sermon) to accept the gospel that is preached. In terms of the parable, we can take the “good soil” as depicting God’s enablement. Your chore is to show God’s enablement – beyond the preaching of the gospel – in the other soils.

        Then, “But also, all the warnings, like Hebrews 6, give didactic examples of individuals that God is appealing to because they have experienced aspects of His grace leading to salvation, but have not mixed it all yet with personal faith.”

        Hebrews 6 is specific, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened…if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance,” It would seem that the “enlightening” was sufficient to bring such people to repentance but not more than that. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news!” The exercise of faith is important – “by grace you have been saved, through faith,” and “This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” So, Hebrews 6 seems to speak to that situation where a person has come to repentance (to turn from their sin for a time) but not to faith (to pursue a holy life and not more sin). This fits the theme of Hebrews where the writer is emphasizing obedience to those who are believers. What is uncertain is the meaning of “enlightenment”? In the context of Hebrews 6, the “enlightenment” seems sufficient to bring a person to repentance but it is unsure if God has given such people faith to move beyond repentance. Yet, the writer seems to affirm that faith has been given as he then writes, “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case–things that accompany salvation.”

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      4. brianwagner writes, “Roger, “Have they not heard…” Rom 10:18?’

        OK. So, maybe we have a distinction between the outward enlightenment/enablement of the preaching of the gospel and the inward enlightenment/enablement of the Holy Spirit in the conviction of sin and whatever else the Spirit may do.

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      5. We only have that, Roger, if our theology wants to twist contexts away from their normal meaning. Read the context of Rom 10:12-18 especially the word “hear” and the word “gospel” that it is related to.

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      6. brianwagner writes, “Read the context of Rom 10:12-18 especially the word “hear” and the word “gospel” that it is related to.”

        Romans 10
        12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
        13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
        14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
        15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
        16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”
        17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
        18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

        This refers to the outward preaching of the gospel. Are you arguing that God’s enablement of people to be saved is the preaching of the gospel – what a person hears is all that is necessary – and that any further coincident inward action of the Spirit is not necessary?

        The difficulty in isolating this text is that something is missing. If the hearing of the message conveys faith to all who hear it – which one can take this passage to say – then all should be saved as that is what faith does. Yet, elsewhere, we find Jesus saying, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” (John 6) and “you do not believe because you are not my sheep.” (John 10) Then Paul ends the chapter, “…concerning Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.’” The takeaway is that Israel heard the message preached and should have believed but it did not. This leads Paul to ask, “Did God reject his people?” and not, “Maybe they need hearing aids.”

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      7. Nothing is missing! God is holding out His hands! Would He do that if they could not come? Really? The gospel initiatives of God are enough to get a person to make a decision to begin seeking more understanding or to harden against knowing more. If they seek they will find. If they harden they will be lost.

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      8. brianwagner writes, “The gospel initiatives of God are enough to get a person to make a decision to begin seeking more understanding or to harden against knowing more.”

        Coincidentally, it is God’s elect who seek more understanding and the non-elect who are hardened. As Paul explained, “God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

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  32. I realize this is something of an old post, but could not ignore what seems, to me, the core problem with Reformed (Calvinist) Theology. It is summed up in Rhutchin’s statement: “Unbelievers are evil people who have evil stored in them.” ???

    That is the tragic, not to mention erroneous, Calvinist conception of the lost. It suggests who is actually behind the ugly, fallacious theology that has long masqueraded as christianity. Whereas God views his beloved creatures – all men – with love and compassion and desires that all turn from their freely chosen sin by embracing the marvelous grace he offers them, Calvinism views the lost as hopelessly evil, forever rejected and hated by God. Calvinists seem genuinely unable to see the serious discrepancy between Jesus’ sending of his disciples to ‘the lost’ and their own redefinition of that mission into a gathering in of ‘the chosen’ – the exact error of Judaism that was so vehemently denounced by Jesus. I can’t think of a better way to destroy compassion, or destroy any desire to spread the gospel to those who desperately need it. Unbelievers are lost sinners, as we all once were, in need of a savior. They all may, as we did, either choose life or death – but life is only possible if they hear and understand the message of God’s love for them, and the grace he offers them.

    God provided all that any man needs to be rescued from sin and death. Indeed, no truly biblical believer doubts that salvation is all of God. It is grace freely offered; not coerced, not manipulated, not deceptively portrayed as a ‘free offer’ that, in Calvinistic reality, most cannot receive because it was never truly meant for them. It is, however, conditional. Any man can receive this free gift. It is not limited to the ‘good’ or the ‘perfect’, but it is limited to those who trust in God’s goodness and promises rather than their own sanctimonious self-righteousness.The good news that Jesus took on flesh to reveal to mankind, and that Satan works night and day to corrupt and distort, is that God loves all men, paid the price to redeem whosoever will from the penalty of sin (death) and desires that all men avail themselves of this genuinely offered grace. Only the deliberate attempt to ignore and/or distort the only possible meaning of ‘whosever will’ can lead one to a theology of limited atonement and limited love.

    Rhutchin repeatedly demands that one explain why some sinners reject God’s free offer of salvation and cling to sin. Perhaps he has a faulty version of the scriptures, one that omits the first 8 chapters of Romans and starts with chapter 9, as most Calvinist bibles appear to do. Romans 1-8 explains, in great detail, why some men reject God’s free offer of Grace, or why ‘they did not see fit to acknowledge God’. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator”. Can they claim that they didn’t know better, that they were ‘dead’ and unable to discern truth? Absolutely not, for Romans tells us that “they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.”

    Rhutchin does not need to continue wondering why some men reject God’s free offer of Grace – Paul answered that question long ago, in the very book Calvinists most love to misinterpret. God gives men up when they exchange the truth for the lie, when they refuse to acknowledge their creator, when they love the darkness rather than the light. Not, as Calvinism so falsely asserts, because God refused to love them, or offer atonement for their sin, or call them out of the darkness they have so long loved – but because they refused to acknowledge and receive this gift, because they loved the darkness and did not want to receive the light of truth. They exchanged the truth for a lie. They made a deliberate choice. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” Shame, treacherous shame on all who falsely claim that God deliberately darkens mens’ minds with an inability to understand – this hideous misdefinition of a ‘sinful nature’ that makes God to blame – when scripture clearly states that all men plainly understand the truth because God showed it to them. And they freely chose to reject it.

    Calvinism creates cold, ugly, legalistic, self-righteous, sanctimonious ‘saints’ who view themselves as the ‘chosen ones’, the only ones loved by God, who can sin like the devil, but without fear of the horrific penalty that awaits all other sinners, unlucky bastards. Ah, the beauty of believing oneself ‘special’, ‘chosen’ and uniquely loved, while all others are ‘evil’, reprobate and headed for eternal torture. It brings great peace, comfort and a total lack of concern for the lost. If one views the lost as ‘evil people’ destined for eternal hellfire by a cruel tyrant who could have spared them if he so desired, one is unlikely to have much compassion for their blindness, misery and enslavement to sin and deception. After all, who are we to be more loving and merciful than God? I used to not understand why so many atheists viewed ‘christians’ as hate-filled, self-righteous hypocrites. Then I discovered Calvinism.

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