Gospel Power: The Sufficiency of the Gospel in enabling the lost

William Birch and Micah Currado, two good Arminian brothers, and I have had a few cordial points of disagreement regarding the sufficiency of the gospel revelation in enabling the lost to respond in faith. In response to our previous discussions (seen HERE and HERE), Micah most recently wrote:

In this matter, I’m reminded of the dangers of quarreling over words, or of spending time on disputations (2 Tim. 2:14). I hope that my response below will demonstrate a Christian charity between fellow believers bought by the blood of Jesus. I pray that my readers will not focus on matters of doubtful disputation leading to their ruin, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ, who redeemed every person in the world (1 Tim. 4:10, John 2:2, 2 Peter 2:1, etc), who graciously offers this salvation by simple trust in Him (John 3:16, Eph. 2:8-9) which we are free(d) to do, and who promises eternal life to those who are believing in Him. In this core element, Dr. Leighton Flowers and I are in full agreement, standing together against the flood of faithless and merely moralistic teaching.

I could not agree more and I wish all my theological interactions were with brethren who are as careful, kind and Christ-like as Micah and William have been in our exchanges. Allow me to begin by addressing some of the pertinent sections of William’s most recent article (seen HERE), then I will touch on Micah’s latest response. (their words will be in blue)

Arminians affirm both Total Depravity and Total Inability. We affirm not free will but freed will — freed by the Holy Spirit in order to freely respond to the Gospel.

The Arminian must establish from scripture that mankind lost their freedom to respond willingly to God Himself. I simply do not feel John 6:44 and 1 Cor. 2:14 meet that burden when understood in the right context. Obviously we may just have to agree to disagree on that point, but I will say that neither Micah or William take the time to engage my interpretation of those passages.

That human beings are born with a sin nature is denied only by Pelagians and certain semi-Pelagians. That statement is constructed not as a boogie-man tactic but as bare fact.

William is simply appealing to the historical “fact” that other Christians (mostly Calvinistic) have employed this “boogie man tactic” so as to escape culpability for following their poor example. The fact that others throughout history have attempted to label those who agree with my perspective as heretical or semi-heretical does not make it less of a fallacious tactic.

William could just as accurately call my view “semi-Augustinian” or “semi-Chrysostomian” or  “semi-Barthian”  but the reason he does not is because to appeal to those notable historical Christians would not serve the fallacious purpose of associating me with a “bad character” or a “boogie man.” The difference is that the “Pelagian” label is associated with a known heretical belief (of which I have clearly disavowed HERE).

The fact is that most of the earliest Church Fathers held to one false view or another, as have many notable and respectable believers throughout human history. To “boogie man” those good believers by marginalizing, decontextualizing, exaggerating, and often times out right misrepresenting their views is something that those throughout history should be ashamed of doing and something we should not encourage today by following their fallacious example.

Someone who denies this understanding of prevenient grace may argue, as does Leighton Flowers, “we must not presume that just because man is born fallen that the gospel is not up for the task of enabling the fallen man to respond to its appeal for reconciliation from that fall.” But the message or words of the Good News are not magic words: words do not enable a person to believe in Jesus.

I’m not sure why William would make this argument against my view. After all, from my perspective the words need not be “magical” (i.e. infused with some supernatural inner working or ‘Prevenient Grace’) in order to have their intended effect.  They simply must be clear and understandable. This seems to be a case against his own perspective rather than mine. The words are sufficient to accomplish their purpose without a ‘mystical’ (magical) or ‘supernatural’ work because mankind has the basic capacity to hear, understand and respond to clearly revealed truth. It is his view that appears to require a work of “magic,” not mine.

…a carnal or natural person “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness” to that person…

As stated above, it might benefit our conversation for William and Micah to engage with my interpretation of these texts in question instead of presuming their interpretation of them, otherwise we will continue to go around and around without addressing the biblical evidence.  As I’ve explained elsewhere, the natural man who deems the things of the Spirit foolish do so by their own free moral choice, not by compatibilistic compulsion imposed by Calvinistic philosophy (i.e. man is free and thus accountable as long as he does what he wants to do but what he wants is determined by his nature which is ultimately determined by God).

I have to ask if William is a compatibilist? If not, then why does he think some of humanity deems the things of Spirit as foolishness as if they were not free to deem otherwise?  I believe William has fallen into the same erroneous line of argumentation upheld by our Calvinistic friends…i.e. that mankind is born only able to deem the revelation of God as foolish due to their innate nature yet they are still held culpable because they are doing so “freely” (according to their preset innate desire/nature).

…indeed, that individual cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised, examined, or discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). Unless the Holy Spirit enables and grants a person to freely believe, that person will not believe, because that person cannot believe.

What is it that the natural man cannot understand? “The deep things of God,” (vs. 10) those things which are “a mystery that has been hidden” from this generation, otherwise “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (vs. 7-8). Paul is not talking about THE GOSPEL, which is being revealed NOW through Holy Apostles so as to explain the “deep things of God” in such a way that man COULD understand. As Paul explained in Ephesians 3:

2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Would William conclude that the means God chose to reveal these otherwise mysterious truths is insufficient?  Paul specifically says, “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ.” So, why would one assume that God’s grace and power given to the apostles to reveal the MYSTERY OF CHRIST (the “DEEP THINGS OF THE SPIRIT”) isn’t sufficiently understandable or believable?

I think the mistake Calvinists (and some Arminians like William) have made in their interpretation of passages such as 1 Cor. 2 is to assume the mystery of Christ (things hidden in the Spirit of God) cannot be understood even AFTER they are revealed by the means of inspiration (i.e. the Gospel revelation).  William has mistakenly conflated the hidden mysteries of the Spirit with the Gospel itself, rather than understanding that the Gospel IS THE MEANS by which the Spirit is revealing otherwise mysterious and unknown truths for the first time in human history through divinely appointed apostles. Micah and William may disagree with me on this point, which is fine, but I’ve not seen evidence that they have actually engaged with me over these differing interpretations.

Second, neither Calvinist nor Arminian suggests that God, for some unknown reason, decided to punish all of us for the sin of Adam by making us all innately incapable of responding willingly to His own word. God did not “make us innately incapable of responding willingly” to the Gospel: we are born innately incapable of responding willingly to the Gospel apart from the inner work of the Holy Spirit. This is part of what being “dead in sins” entails. (Eph. 2:1)

As pointed out before, William does not take the needed time to define what is meant by “we are unable by nature” in relation to “we are unable by God’s decision.” We, as Christian theists, do not believe in mother nature, so to say that something is “natural” is to say that is it designed or at least permitted by God. Does William believe that God punished mankind by making them unable to respond willingly to His own revelation?  When God was explaining the curse of labor pains and toiling the soil, did He forget to mention the worse of all the curses, “You now are morally incapable of responding willingly to my appeals or commands?”

If this innate moral inability is not a punishment decided directly by God, then does William believe it is a “natural consequence” that God permitted? If so, could God have prevented mankind from losing that ability by NOT permitting it? If not, why not? And if He could have prevented mankind from losing this ability, then why simply give back what he permitted for them to lose in the first place? Why not simply stop them from losing the ability to begin with? Also, who decided, if not God, that the inspired revelation wouldn’t be sufficient apart from an extra work of enabling grace? Couldn’t God have revealed truth in such a way that it would have been sufficient to enable a response without doing some other prior work?

Now, I might be willing to live with the mystery of this quandary if I clearly saw that scripture afforded this mystery. In my estimation, however, there is no biblical indication that mankind lost their moral ability to respond willingly to God’s own revelation due to the fall.  Mankind cannot, however, understand deep spiritual mysteries hidden in mind of God unless God sends clear revelation, like the gospel (Rm. 10:14; Eph. 3:1-11).

One is dead to the spiritual realities involving God, His Son, His Spirit and His word. We are unable by nature. We are born sinners. God does not punish all of us for the sin of Adam by making us all sinners. We are naturally born sinners. We are sinners by nature. (Rom. 3:23) We are born unbelievers. God does not punish all of us for the sin of Adam by making us all unbelievers. We are unbelievers by nature. (John 3:18)

How does proof that we are all born sinners by nature also prove that we are incapable of admitting that fact when confronted by the Holy Spirit wrought truth of God?  It’s one thing to be become completely in bondage to sin because of your rebellion. It is a whole other thing to be born in bondage and completely incapable of admitting that you’re in bondage and accepting help to escape when it is offered by a loving Creator.

Even if the matter were as Leighton has outlined above, would God be unjust in punishing us in such fashion, given that He Himself subjected nature to entropy because of the sin of one man (cf. Rom. 8:20)?

Only if I were to affirm inherited guilt would this be an issue for me, which I do not.  No one is condemned for the sin of Adam except Adam. We will each be judge for our own choices and actions in light of God’s revelation (John 12:47-49). Nothing stands between anyone and their reconciliation with God save only their own unbelief.

Often these same individuals will insist that an enabling, in whatever manner conceivable, is a gratuitous doctrine. People are capable, in and of themselves, to freely respond to the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. All that is required is that a person hear the Gospel. If that is true then there is no need for such individuals to insist that the Gospel enables the person to believe in Christ. Some, inconsistently, still do.

I had to read this argument several times to follow William’s meaning. I finally realized that William is once again conflating man’s inability to understand/accept hidden spiritual mysteries with his belief that man is born unable to understand/accept the Gospel itself. On our view, the gospel is necessary to understand otherwise unknown and mysterious truths which have been hidden for generations.  As Paul says in Romans 10:14,

“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 anyone preach unless they are sent?

The apostles were just now being sent to proclaim these deep hidden spiritual truths, which they could not have believed unless someone told them. The inability here isn’t an innate incapacity to understand/accept clearly revealed truth. It’s an inability to believe in something unknown or unrevealed.

St Paul teaches that, with regard to the Jewish people, their minds are hardened; even to this very day a veil remains unlifted over their minds (2 Cor. 3:14), by which veil they are incapable of freely trusting in Christ. He continues teaching that the Gospel is veiled by the Devil, who has “blinded the minds of the unbelieving” (2 Cor. 4:3), by which blinding an inherent inability is rendered as a reality. Therefore an enabling by God must be performed if anyone is to freely trust in Christ.

Notice the order William presumes in 2 Cor. 3:14, but keep reading in verse 15 and 16:

“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.”

William, along with Calvinists, simply get the order incorrect by insisting that God removes the veil so as to enable one to turn to the Lord, when the text clearly indicates that it is by turning to the Lord (and His clear revelation brought by inspiration) that one may understand so as to have the veil (the misapplication of God’s law) removed.

Can mere words of the Gospel cause a person to no longer be hostile toward God apart from the inner working of the Holy Spirit?

William, like Calvinists, seems to be presuming that mankind is born fully hostile/hardened/defiled based on the fact that they are born with a sin nature. The scriptures teach that mankind, while sinners, may “become hardened” or “grow calloused” (Acts 28:27-28) or “be given over to their desires so as to become defiled” (Rom. 1).  This is something that mankind can become if they continue in their rebellion, as was the case with the Israelites of the New Testament, especially that of Saul prior to his own conversion.  In my estimation, Calvinists and some Arminians misapply some of the teachings about the calloused condition of man once “given over” to their depraved and calloused wills as if it applies to an innate condition from birth. There must be a distinction drawn between the heart of a sinner and the heart of a hardened sinner.

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” (Acts 28:27-28)

What might they have done had they not “become calloused” according to the scripture above? “Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn…”  And notice the contrast with the Gentiles (while still sinful), who will listen. What is the distinction Paul is drawing between the Jews and the Gentiles in this text?  One is calloused and thus unable to turn while the other, who are still sinners, are willing to listen and respond.

Now, for the sake of brevity, if that is even possible at this point, I have attempted to narrow my focus upon the key elements of Micah’s latest response, entitled Unmediated.

First, allow me to offer a definition of the term “unmediated” as that seem to be a crux of the matter. One dictionary offers us this definition: “without anyone or anything intervening or acting as an intermediate; direct.” This definition, and how we apply it to mankind’s natural abilities to comprehend and accept directly revealed truth, is essential to this discussion. Micah argues that reading or hearing the inspired word of God is a “mediated” (by way of means, or through a mediator) form of divine revelation. And Micah asserts that those means are insufficient to enable the natural man to respond freely to God’s own appeal. He believes that the Holy Spirit must do more than inspire the words which clearly reveal truth and call us to reconciliation through faith in order for us to have the ability to freely respond. I content that his view is not convincingly established by the scriptures.

Below I have pulled out several quotes from Micah’s article that relate directly to this matter.

What I called “mere information” Leighton prefers to call “divine inspiration.”  I certainly agree with him that the propositional truths of Scripture are in a different category than, say, a grocery list or even a profound poem by Milton. Scripture was “God-breathed.”

Yet, ironically, if Micah is correct, the natural man is able to freely respond to the average list or poem but not the “God-breathed” revelation, unless graced in some supernatural manner. Should we assume this is true? I see no biblical reason to do so.

However, the inspired Bible is not God Himself; it is instead information from God.  Likewise, the message of the Gospel is not God Himself; it is information from God.  This is all I meant by “mere information.”  

Of course, I agree with this distinction (as Micah kindly acknowledges), but to be clear for our readers — our point of contention is not over whether or not the gospel is God Himself. No one is suggesting the gospel is God. Our point of contention, as I understand it, is over whether or not the message inspired by God is sufficient to enable a free response. It is simply a false dichotomy to in any way imply that one must either believe the Bible is an insufficient means of revelation to enable faith or to believe the Bible is equal to God Himself.

In practical terms of response-ability, I agree that the message of the Gospel produces faith in its hearers (Rom. 10:17) and it is then the response-ability of the hearer to “mix” that faith within their heart (Heb. 3), resulting in salvation if they do. But I’ll clarify that in a moment.

To be clear (or maybe more precise) on this point; I do not believe that the message of the Gospel “produces faith in its hearer.” I believe the Gospel enables the hearer to freely respond.

Certainly we should agree that “no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).  Suffice to say, I believe that the unmediated presence of the Triune God is the drawing in view (John 12:32, 16:8), while Leighton would hold that the mediated means of the scriptures are in view.  The unmediated presence and influence of God is going to be my focus for this article.

I too affirm the Holy Spirit’s unmediated presence and continual influence, but do so while maintaining the sufficiency of the means by which He has chosen to reveal Himself and his inspired truth (even by mediated means). In other words, I see no biblical reason to believe that God’s unmediated presence and influence somehow suggests that His work through means is insufficient to accomplish its given purpose.

For instance, the mediate means of writing articles in response to each other’s theological perspective is sufficient for Micah and myself to understand and converse. If Micah were to come over to my house tomorrow to further discuss these matters in an “unmediated” manner, would that suggest that the articles were no longer sufficient to convince readers of his persepctive?  Of course not. It would only reveal that Micah has chosen more than one way in which to communicate with me about his views.  I am not sure why it would be any different with God’s chosen means of communication with fallen humanity.

Proof that God uses a variety of means to communicate does not suggest that some are insufficient and others are not. Was the testimony of the witnesses sufficient to allow Thomas to believe their testimony despite the fact that he refused to do so? I believe it was. It was Thomas’ own fault for not believing their testimony, not a lacking in the testimony or an inborn incapacity due to the sin of Adam. I blame Thomas alone for his unbelief in light of that clear testimony. The fact that God chose to reveal Himself more personally to Thomas was purely gracious, not required or necessary for a faith response. It must be established biblically that the proclaimed inspired truth is insufficient apart from some extra supernatural grace. Respectfully, I do not believe Micah has met that burden thus far in our discourse.

I believe that Leighton’s view downplays the cosmic spiritual war that surrounds us. The unsaved are styled as “blinded by the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4)…People are not merely uninformed (for which they would need only God’s inspired truth propositions), they are enslaved to a dark power which seeks to hinder and blind them to God’s truth.

Allow me to reword Micah’s argument in such a way that reveals how I read it from my worldview: “I believe that Leighton’s view of God’s word is more powerful than the cosmic powers that surrounds us. The unsaved are styled as ‘blinded by the god of this world’ (2 Cor 4:4) in such a manner that even hearing God’s inspire word is insufficient.  People are not merely in need of God’s powerful, life-giving inspired truth, because God’s own word isn’t sufficient to set the fallen man free apart from some extra supernatural (unmediated) grace.” This would be a high bar to prove from scripture in my opinion.

Yes, we are enslaved but that is why God sent truth, which may set man free (John 8:32). I see no biblical reason to suggest that God’s inspired truth is insufficient to do just that.

In the apostolic era, some men tried to cast out a demon by invoking Jesus Christ (Acts 19:15).  Their words were essentially the same words the Apostles would use, but the invocation of the name and saving power name of Jesus didn’t work, because the Spirit, in this case, was not present in power.

So also the scriptures or message of the Gospel are not sufficient of themselves to cast from us the oppressive presence of spiritual darkness inflicted on humanity by Satan and his forces of evil. We need a Power stronger they they, which will liberate us in just an unmediated way as they afflict us.

Is there a verse which relates the unmediated work of the Spirit in driving out demonic spirits to the necessity of an unmediated work of the Spirit to enable a free moral response to God’s own inspired truth? If so, I have not found it.

I agree that the Gospel message is sufficient to enable belief, but only within a paradigm of God’s unmediated activity in the hearts of unbelievers.

Stated another way: “The Gospel brought by unmediated revelation to His chosen apostles is insufficient to enable the belief of their hearers unless God also chooses to reveal that same truth to each hearer individually by those same unmediated means used to bring the inspiration to the apostles in the first place.”

(1) Where is this taught in scripture? (2) Why even use the mediated means of the apostles writing scriptures if those means are not sufficient anyway? Why not just reveal truth directly (unmediated) to each individual to begin with and cut out the insufficient “middle man?”

With Leighton and all Christians, I believe that the Gospel message is a production of the Holy Spirit. However, it is not a procession of the Holy Spirit and must not be conflated with His personal activity in our souls.

I agree, which is why I teach God’s “personal activity” comes as a result of a faith response to God’s inspired appeal, not the other way around. This is why we disagree with Calvinists (and others) who suggest the Holy Spirit’s direct indwelling (unmediated involvement) must proceed a faith response.  The gospel is God’s APPEAL to have a personal/direct “unmediated” encounter with God. To suggest God must encounter us in that direct/unmediated way in order for us to freely respond to an APPEAL to do so seems to get the proverbial cart before the horse.

If a sworn enemy sends me a letter requesting to meet in person so as to be reconciled, does that enemy need to personally hand deliver the letter for it to have the sufficient means to enable my response? Of course not. A currier can carry the letter and it would still sufficiently communicate the intent of that enemy and the means by which we can be reconciled.  Why would God’s chosen means be less sufficient?  Where does the bible explicitly teach that such inspired means are not sufficient to enable a free response?

Jesus is the one who “enlightens every man” (John 1:9)…

How?  By what means?  Did every man get the unmediated revelation that the apostles got when writing the scripture?  I agree that God enlightens every man, but He does so through His chosen means.  See Eph. 3:2-11 quoted above.

…we are not merely made in the image of God but in some mysterious way God is in contact with each of us, for “in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

As believers in Him, yes, we live and move and have our being in a personal – direct – intimate – relational way. But we are not like the apostles who received direct revelation from the Spirit. Instead, we believed their message so as to receive His Spirit.

The view articulated by Leighton essentially posits that since the Bible says that the hearing of the message produces faith…

Again, not trying to nitpick, but I do not believe that hearing the message certainly produces faith, but that it enables a free response of faith. The gospel enables the lost man to place his trust in Jesus (Rm. 10:14). That is important in this particular discussion because the burden on me IS NOT to show that hearing divinely inspired truth is sufficient to save the lost, but only that it is sufficient to enable a free response of those who are lost. What’s the difference?  One cannot conflate the responsibility of the lost to respond to God’s revelation and the responsibility of God to graciously save/indwell those who freely believe.

Let me reaffirm that there is a difference between what I am calling God pressing upon the soul and God inhabiting the soul. Contra Leighton’s claim, there is no inherent danger that I might blur the distinction between God’s prevenient grace with regeneration proper.

Micah may draw that distinction systematically but the question for our discussion is whether scripture ever does. I my opinion, his perspective creates a somewhat confusing systematic by which God must work to enable his own means to work and I simply see no need for such qualification in scripture. If indeed God’s pressing upon the soul is accomplished by means of inspired revelation (rather than some unknown supernatural “unmediated” way never explicitly expounded upon in the Bible), then God still gets all the credit for those means, doesn’t He? So, what is it that we gain by making such difficult qualifications?

Is not this article sufficient means to communicate my message and potentially persuade a hearer to adopt my view? Must I show up to the hearer’s home in person to be given due credit for my efforts? Why would my mediated message be more sufficient to inform and convince a hearer than God’s?

I assert that Jesus’ words “you can do nothing without me” (John 15) are not only to the Christian but can also be applied to every act of every person, for it is in Him that “all things consist” (Col. 1:17).  We can do nothing spiritual without Him…

I agree, but then again I don’t believe someone responding to God’s inspired revelation as being “without Him,” do you?  For instance, I spent a summer in Russia away from my family who prayed for me, spoke to me by letter or on the phone daily. I might say to them, “I could not have made it through the summer without you.”  Was their prayers and daily correspondence insufficient to be credited to them simply because they were not with me in person (“unmediated”)? They supported me through means, and they get the due credit for that support. As Jesus said, “Blessed are they who do not see me but still believe.”

I disagree with Leighton’s view that the gospel makes a direct contact with our souls in a way commensurate with the unmediated contact by God Himself.

That is just it. They are not commensurate.  The gospel is making an appeal for a direct intimate contact with our soul. I just believe those are sufficient means to enable the lost to respond in faith.  Only when man responds willingly to the appeal to be reconciled are we blessed with the direct “unmediated” presence of our Lord.

Based on previous discussions, Leighton believes that the Holy Spirit’s activity could have simply been paused after the writing of Scripture and people would still be able to come to faith.

This is not entirely accurate. I believe the Holy Spirit continues to work to preserve and carry His word by means of inspired Holy Spirit indwelled messengers.  We cannot assume the gospel’s preservation and continued dispersion would have happened apart from the continual work of the Spirit through His bride.  The point of the former conversation, to which I believe Micah is referencing, was only to illustrate the sufficiency of the inspired word in enabling the lost to respond to its appeal. I was not making a case that the gospel would have continued to accomplish its intended purposes absent the Holy Spirit’s work in other ways.

I would also take issue with the many quotes provided in Micah’s article of other believers and Early Church Fathers. I honestly tried to read them with full objectivity in order to understand why Micah reads them as uniquely supportive of his perspective. In order for me to give a more meaningful response it would be necessary for us to go line by line through those quotes and expound on what Micah believes the author is intending.  I simply do not see specific support for his position in those quotes.

I appreciate these brother’s sharpening my iron as I hope to sharpen theirs.  Blessings to all.

239 thoughts on “Gospel Power: The Sufficiency of the Gospel in enabling the lost

  1. Thanks for your gracious response, Leighton. Not entirely surprisingly, we still don’t entirely agree on this matter, but I’m at peace with that. 🙂

    I would like to hear your response to my assessment of Hebrews 4:12 as referring to Jesus and not the Scriptures, and John 6:63, as I felt those were the crux of my argument. I wrote, in part:

    “Even Jesus Himself, speaking these words of life, said that “No one can come into me unless the Father draws Him.”
    What greater proof could there be that the words of the Gospel are insufficient without an additional action from God?The work of salvation involves the preaching of the gospel of Jesus’ work of redemption, the conviction of the Spirit, and the drawing of the Father. It is an intrinsically Triune effort.” ( https://yieldtogod.wordpress.com/unmediated-part-two/ )

    Your thoughts?

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      1. I must be blind. Can you point it out to me?
        (And I assure you this is not some trick designed to then point out my need for your personal interaction, ha ha!)

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      2. Strange. A section I wrote is missing. I had copied and pasted it into WordPress but maybe I missed something or saved an earlier version? Basically I pointed out that several translation refer to “it” not “him” but my point isn’t to argue for an either/or perspective in that I believe the word may reference both the messiah and his chosen means, His words. BOTH are sufficient to accomplish their stated purposes.

        Plus, I did reference other texts which specifically speak of scripture making you wise for salvation, etc.

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      3. How would you defend your rejection of inability in the light of :
        Apart from me you can do nothing
        That’s a strong verse to me that could hardly be written more clearly; it doesn’t seem to me Jesus is speaking in the capacity of Creator here, as in “You can’t even breathe or think without God sustaining all things.” But rather that he speaks in the capacity of Redeemer here, as in “Mankind is so far fallen in sin all goodness has to begin with Me.”

        Also I have another question. If the Gospel alone is sufficient as you say, how will men know it is true? What is the method to verify the Gospel is the correct message from God, as opposed to, say, the Koran?

        Thanks if you have time.

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    1. This is just crazy talk about not being able to hear or understand the gospel .. Ro 1:18-20 tells us that we can understand God WITHOUT WORDS! And we can understand that God demands that we worship Him, thank Him, and give Him praise (cf. Rev 14:6).

      But further, all in the world that “original sin,” “total depravity/inability,” born dead in sin,” etc. are is INNATE IGNORANCE OF GOD (Adam was created in the very presence of God — and lost that for us = original sin). Once a person knows about Christ and His sacrifice for the sin that they KNOW they are guilty of, they can, being given intelligence by God, understand and OBEY it.

      Now if someone wants to debate how the Holy Spirit is involved, He INHABITS the gospel and the Word of God. He brings, not regeneration or prevenient grace, but LIGHT. He enlightens our hearts.

      Do you know what the argument for total depravity/inability is? It is the argument that the spirit of man is “dead” to God. Not at all! It is the soul that dies in sin. It is the SOUL that needs to be saved (Jas 1:21, 5:20, Heb 10:38-39). Our spirit is ALWAYS alive! It is how Lazarus can respond to Jesus from the grave! It is how we process any thought that comes to mind through our senses. There is absolutely no need of “divine healing” coming before salvation — else there is no need of salvation.

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  2. Leighton,
    I always enjoy your gracious and well thought out responses. This was no exception.
    I wish there was a better word to use than “enable” when speaking of the Gospel. For me it is too closely associated with ability and seems to carry the idea of making able that which is otherwise unable. I don;t think that is what you mean. Perhaps it provides men an opportunity to believe since all men are able to believe.
    I’m sure I would be challenged that this leaves out the work of the Holy Spirit but that is not my intention as you rightly point out the Gospel is the work of the Holy Spirit.
    Keep up the good work.

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    1. How would you defend your rejection of inability in the light of :
      Apart from me you can do nothing
      That’s a strong verse to me that could hardly be written more clearly; it doesn’t seem to me Jesus is speaking in the capacity of Creator here, as in “You can’t even breathe or think without God sustaining all things.” But rather that he speaks in the capacity of Redeemer here, as in “Mankind is so far fallen in sin all goodness has to begin with Me.”

      Also I have another question. If the Gospel alone is sufficient as you say, how will men know it is true? What is the method to verify the Gospel is the correct message from God, as opposed to, say, the Koran?

      Thanks if you have time.

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      1. Just a thought, but when a person is being convicted by the Holy Spirit, where is Jesus? Is He off somewhere unconcerned about the person the Holy Spirit is convicting, drawing to Jesus? He also is concerned and involved, isn’t He, since it was through His death that the person is being reconciled to God? You know, Jesus said in John 12, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me.” Then it goes on to tell us that He was talking about His death:

        John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.

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

        33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

        When the Holy Spirit draws anyone, that is also Jesus drawing them to Himself, through the Holy Spirit. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” Romans 1:16. When anyone is drswn, convicted by the Spirit of God, the power of God to come to Jesus and believe and be saved, is there. We aren’t doing it without Him at all.

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      1. Although you didn’t intend this for me, may I respond? the relying on theis John 15:3-5 (KJV)
        3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
        I don’t think Christ is speaking about ability to believe. The context is bearing fruit and He is speaking of Believers relying on His strength and guidance to do God’s work and not trying to do it on their own.

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      2. Of course you can answer. I see. So you would say Jesus meant “Apart from me you can do nothing but believe.” I would say that’s an interesting interpretation that does have some Biblical merit. It makes me think of Romans 4.

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      1. So we can believe apart from Jesus? That’s my question and point. I don’t… I don’t think I believe that, but it would be the “natural ability to respond” that Traditionalism seems to preach.

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  3. I’m only halfway through reading but this:

    When God was explaining the curse of labor pains and toiling the soil, did He forget to mention the worse of all the curses, “You now are morally incapable of responding willingly to my appeals or commands?”

    And if He could have prevented mankind from losing this ability, then why simply give back what he permitted for them to lose in the first place? Why not simply stop them from losing the ability to begin with?

    Couldn’t God have revealed truth in such a way that it would have been sufficient to enable a response without doing some other prior work?

    This all seems like superfluous argumentation to me. God explained the curse before Adam sinned, not afterwards when it would be too late anyway. And this is the curse: you shall die. That is not a “thorns” issue, that is not a “child bearing” issue, that is not a “soul” issue, that is a fundamental spiritual issue, they spiritually died and that speaks to their moral abilities. Of course God could have just not put the tree in the garden, but that is not a valid argument, it is merely a tangentially irrelevant hypothetical.

    Quote:
    How does proof that we are all born sinners by nature also prove that we are incapable of admitting that fact when confronted by the Holy Spirit wrought truth of God? It’s one thing to be become completely in bondage to sin because of your rebellion. It is a whole other thing to be born in bondage and completely incapable of admitting that you’re in bondage and accepting help to escape when it is offered by a loving Creator.

    What we argue is what Scripture says—does Scripture ever indicate more is needed. Now God does say “is not My Word like a fire,” and the Word is given inherent power in Scripture, but it is connected to the purity of the heart speaking it in faith by prophets or evangelists or godly believers. As God said to Jeremiah “I will put my words in your mouth” because it was Jeremiah’s call to speak them. But we get indication more is sometimes necessary because of spiritual warfare, mainly. And I mean we can paraphrase Scriptural truth and it still has power, it isn’t the verbatim of it always, although I’d say the verbatim has a power of its own as well. I think though the reason the Word is said to be communicable and efficacious is because the Divine Translator will always cause people to know what he means by it—the Spirit coming and teaching us all truth. I believe I’ve seen that—the Holy Spirit take my imperfect words and use them to speak something. When Wisdom calls out in Proverbs, speaking to all the sons of men, we feel a real impassioned persuasion, an emotional appeal—for me it’s that stamp of truth and veracity that God’s Words have, like the men at the cross saying “No one speaks like this man.” Yet for Pilate, he meant nothing at all, and says “What is truth?”

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    1. Yea, sure, bearing fruit, but what else that is righteous or godly can we do but bear fruit? It seems to me that’s describing everything.

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  4. Okay, I finished the entire article. Phew. Well, it seems to me that phraseology is becoming super important here. We want to make sure we are not saying the same thing from different perspectives or in different ways.

    Are we really “giving ground” to Calvinism by saying man is so sinful he can’t even respond or understand to God’s words without some extra grace of some sort.

    We both believe:

    1. Man is sinful in nature such that he can’t do righteous acts without grace.
    2. God’s words to man always come with the ability to do them.

    The question is, how much is supernatural or exterior to the simple meanings of the words. Now Paul did say we use spiritual words for spiritual things; we can describe, righteousness, faith, grace, sin, but I’m not sure without some kind of spirtiual understanding we could know what they mean. One might argue that spiritual understanding is inbuilt into people without the Holy Spirit’s help. It does seem odd to fight so passionately that man doesn’t need that much grace, or that the Holy Spirit doesn’t have to do that much work. In the end our agreements on 1 & 2 are very important and meaningful and the majority of the doctrine. It seems to me, where the Calvinist really differs is not in this area, but in the area of the unconditional and the irresistible—it doesn’t really matter if we both put man at absolute zero, so to speak. The Calvinist insists then that means unconditional and irresistible. There’s the real point of contention for me. To try to make humans less sinful or less incapable to “fix” that, seems to me to be missing the point. The point is human autonomy or volition, does it play a real role? That’s my take on this debate.

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  5. Dizerner
    /So we can believe apart from Jesus? That’s my question and point. / How is believing what Jesus says believing “apart” from Jesus? .Why do you think our creator needs to take some special supernatural (?) action for us to understand Him and believe Him? Since God’s plan is to reveal Himself to His creatures, is it not reasonable to create them with this ability? If God desires for us to hear Him is it not reasonable to create us with ears?

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    1. Hey Ernest. Yes you make a good point that God wants us to be saved! The question is, is sin a real force or principle of something acting within us, or is sin just us choosing to do something naughty? Those are two vastly different paradigms of looking at sin…. even though we both will say, God created the possibility of sin, but doesn’t want it to happen… right? In other words, if God wants us all in heaven, why doesn’t he already create us there? If God doesn’t like the devil, why does he let the devil go around like a roaring lion? If God wants all saved, why wasn’t Jesus born to Adam, so that other world religions never confused people? See, I think your argument “God wants something therefore God will make it happen!” doesn’t quite match how the Bible describes the spiritual war we are in, or sin and evil. Of course God didn’t want people to be born spiritually blind or deaf, that’s why God told Adam not to eat the fruit. Unless you’re a Calvinist who believes God decreed Adam to sin, you’ve got to admit this world is not what God wants, and has thing that God does not want. That’s the very meaning of “an enemy has done this,” which Christ told us caused the tares.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Leighton,

    You continue to push this point, arguing against inability, claiming that the gospel itself alone, *****apart from the preconversion work of the Spirit***** is all that is needed for someone to be converted to Christ. And I will continue to maintain that your position is not what Southern Baptists Traditionalists really believe. Adrian Rodgers held the Traditionalist position, and he is better representative of what Baptists have believed regarding the preconversion work of the Spirit than you are.

    I quote him yet again:

    “Spiritual blindness makes beggars of us all. … The blind need more than light in order to see. … I used to think, as a young preacher, that what you had to do to get people saved is just to tell them how to be saved. Just turn on the light. But it doesn’t matter how much light there is, or the person is blind because he cannot see it. It takes more than light, it takes sight. And a person who is blind cannot see the light, no matter how strong the light is or how pure the light is. It takes more than preaching to get people saved. That’s the reason I frequently say to you, I can preach truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart truth. That is the reason why we must be a praying church. That’s the reason you must be a spirit filled soul winner. That is the reason that we must have the anointing, because we are dependent upon God to open blinded eyes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It takes more than light, it takes sight. We need to understand that nobody can be argued into the kingdom of heaven. Nobody can be educated into the kingdom of heaven. I’m not against letting the light shine. You must let the light shine. You must preach. But remember, there is another dimension.” (Jesus is God’s Answer to Man’s Darkness: John 20:30)

    Note his third and fourth lines here: “I used to think . . . Just turn on the light.” He says at one point that he believe as you do, just share the gospel and that is enough. But then he changed his mind “But it doesn’t matter how much light there is”. Rodgers then realized “It takes more than light, it takes sight”. And WHO is it that provides this “sight”? It is the preconversion work of the Spirit. Rodgers clearly understood this: “It takes more than preaching to get people saved. That’s the reason I frequently say to you, I can preach truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart truth.” The Spirit must impart truth to an individual or they will not be saved. Note Rodgers who was a great preacher among Southern Baptists says explicitly that it “takes more than preaching to get people saved”. Was Rodgers against preaching? No, definitely not. But he recognized the role of preaching, or witnessing, the Spirit uses these things to impart truth to people, to change their hearts, to enable them to have a faith response to the gospel. Rodgers held to the same view I hold and that other Baptists that I know hold to: preaching and witnessing is crucial, and yet ultimately it is the work of the Spirit in the human heart that enables a person to have a faith response to the gospel. No work of the Spirit = no conversion. Rodgers says at the end of this quote that “You must preach”. But then he qualifies it with “But remember, there is another dimension”. And what is that other dimension that he is referencing here? The preconversion work of the Spirit.

    You don’t have to be Arminian to affirm what Rodgers says here, nor do you have to agree with Calvinists in their conception of depravity to affirm what Rodgers says here. To affirm what Rodgers says here you need affirm that the preconversion work of the Spirit (what Rodgers called the other dimension, what Rodgers called the imparting of truth by the Spirit) is necessary for a person to be saved. Without it no one gets saved.

    Leighton, from a historical perspective, I have spoken to some others more knowledgeable about Baptist history than myself, and they say your current views sound very much like the Campbellites. It may be helpful for you to research this movement for your own good. In particular look at how other Baptists responded to the Campbellites and what their arguments were against the Campbellites. You will find words remarkably similar to those of Adrian Rodgers above.

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    1. Robert, As a Southern Baptist traditionalist, Its what I believe, so if you are keeping score that would make it 2-1 in favor of Flowers but of course we don’t measure truth by voting on it or appealing to authority do we?

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      1. Ernest,

        I take it that your “2-1 in favor of Flowers” is referring to the views of you and Leighton?

        Sorry, I take some persons’ claims, statements and opinions far weightier than you and Leighton.

        Adrian Rodgers for example.

        While I respect Leighton and believe that he makes useful contributions here at his blog against the errors of Calvinism in particular. I believe in terms of Southern Baptist history and influence Rodgers’ words, his authority, his representing what Southern Baptists believe about the work of the Spirit has much more weight than you and Leighton combined! Incidentally I notice that you make no effort to show where Rodgers is in error, if he is in error on this.

        Regarding “appealing to authority” sometimes it is legitimate sometimes it is a logical fallacy. Seems to me that anyone familiar with the work and ministry of Adrian Rodgers would recognize him as a good authority of what Southern Baptists ought to believe. So appealing to him and his words is no fallacy of improper appeal to authority. Now if I were appealing to Hilary Clinton on this, you could rightfully accuse me of improper appeal of authority, as what authority does she really have regarding the preconversion work of the Spirit? 🙂 On the other hand, Rodgers is a very good authority on this subject. Again his words and opinion have much more weight in my view, than the words and opinion of you and Leighton.

        Besides being a excellent representative on this, I have seen the exact same things in regard to my own experience in evangelism. It is not our eloquence or education or intelligence or anything else that is critical when evangelizing, what is critical is the work of the Spirit, something you and others for whatever reasons seem to think ought to be minimized or even ignored.

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    2. Robert, this discussion would make a good podcast if you’re interested? I’ve replied to Peter Lumkins charge about the Cambellite movement. It’s missing the point of our actual contention IMO.

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      1. Leighton,

        Can you direct me to where you responded to Peter Lumpkins? It is significant that Lumpkins who is no Calvinist also apparently is concerned about your views and apparently sees some sort of connection with Cambellite teachings.

        You could clarify as to what you mean when you say “It’s missing the point of our actual contention IMO.”?

        I think we all agree that the Word is powerful. Where I don’t think there is agreement is on the necessity of the preconversion work of the Spirit in folks coming to Christ in faith. You **seem** to be suggesting that the Word alone, without the work of the Spirit is sufficient. I was always taught and I teach this myself is that the Spirit always works through the Word. But working through the Word is not the same as suggesting the Word alone is sufficient. Seems to me that Adrian Rodgers clearly understood this (in the words that I quoted from him he clearly says preaching is not enough, that light is not enough, that you need to have the work of the Spirit for a person to be converted), and other Baptists that I know understand it this way as well. And yet you seem to be suggesting something different.

        At this point I do not even see this as an Arminian or Calvinist thing either: I know both Arminians and Calvinists who agree with me on this. I think Leighton that in trying to distinguish yourself from Calvinists and Arminians you are missing that at times there is overlap, where all three groups, Traditionalists, Arminians and Calvinists ought to be able to agree about the preconversion work of the Spirit being necessary for a person to come to faith. Calvinists will of course argue that He only works in this way with the preselected elect (i.e. they will limit this work of the Spirit to only certain persons). Arminians and Traditionalists believe that God is working in this way, the Spirit is working in unsaved persons in this way, who will ultimately never be saved (i.e. the grace of God can be resisted, an unbeliever can experience the enlightenment of the Spirit regarding spiritual things, the identity of Jesus, etc. etc. and still they can say No to it and reject Christ and salvation). This seems to be the view that Adrian Rodgers held (i.e. the Spirit must work in a person for them to become a believer and yet people can reject this work of the Spirit and end up in hell; that is what Rodgers taught and preached and for my whole Baptist experience that is what I always heard, from mentors, friends, coworkers, what I always presented: but now you come along seemingly claiming we are wrong on this). Am I infallible? No, and yet I don’t believe that I am wrong on this. I don’t believe Rodgers was wrong on this. I don’t believe my mentors were wrong on this. I guess it is possible but it seems highly unlikely to me.

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      2. Lumpkins is a good brother and friend, but even by his own admission he is not a Traditionalist (he refuses to sign the Traditional statement to this day).

        In a FB discussion Peter wrote this:
        ///All,
        Given the rather vigorous exchange on the Holy Spirit’s role in the conversion of unbelievers over the weekend, I made, in passing, a reference that what was being suggested by one brother was reminiscent of the Campbellite movement beginning the middle of the 19th century, a movement which ripped at the fiber of Baptists all over the south eventually claiming whole Baptist associations for Alexander Campbell’s restoration movement; namely, the notion that the Spirit’s activity in the conversion of sinners was limited to a *mediate* work whereby He worked exclusively through gospel witness alone and not through *immediate* activity upon the gospel recipient him/herself (i.e. unbeliever). The pens of J.B. Jeter (Calvinist) and Andrew Broaddus (non-Calvinist), along with other Baptist lights of the day worked together to overwhelm Campbellism eventually squeezing its influence into creating its own denomination—Church of Christ>>>Disciples of Christ. Below are just a few excerpts which demonstrate the point I was making that what was being said in the comment thread over the weekend sounded strangely like the Campbellites of the 19th century.
        The Harding-Moody Debate (1889)—“The Scriptures are sufficient to produce the faith of the Gospel.”
        Harding (Campbellite): “So, my friends, if the dead sinner is to be quickened, the Word of God is represented as sufficient to do the work; if he is to be begotten, it is expressly said that God begets us ” with the word of truth;” if he is to be converted, the law of the Lord is “perfect” for that very purpose; if he is to be saved, Peter was to speak “words” by which Cornelius was to be saved, and Paul says “the Gospel” is “the power of God unto salvation.” And when Jesus wanted his disciples sanctified he prayed, ” Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John xvii. 17.) Now while these words of God, spoken by holy ones of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, are ringing in your ears, turn your eyes upon J. B. Moody, of “off-hand” quotation notoriety, and hear him talk about “the insufficiency of the Scriptures!” It is passing strange that such a very frail worm of the dust should thus put his words in contrast with those of the great Jehovah” (p 559)
        Moody (Baptist): “Mr. Briney said in the Mayfleld debate: “The personal power of the Spirit is not present with the Word in the conversion of the sinner.” Again, he said: “The Scriptures teach that the Gospel alone is sufficient for the conversion and sanctification of sinners.” Mr. Briney here says in effect that ” I deny that there is any personal power of the Holy Spirit exerted upon the sinner’s heart in conversion.”//////

        I responded in part by saying: After thinking on this for many hours this weekend it seems to me our difference amounts to this:

        Is the Holy Spirit sufficiently enabling the lost by the means of gospel or is He making the gospel sufficient by use of additional means (some kind of prevenient grace that makes an otherwise disabled will able to freely respond)?

        As I’ve tried to make clear from the beginning, I do believe the HS is drawing us through scripture AND other means (mediate, immediate, etc).

        Please know, my contention has never been to deny that the HS works through other means besides the gospel appeal. My contention has only been to say that ALL of the means God employes are sufficient to enable the lost to respond to those means. (i.e. you don’t need one to enable the effectiveness of another)

        I don’t believe the HS is working to fix or heal or ‘preveniently grace’ an otherwise disabled will so that he is able to freely respond to clearly revealed truth. I believe the HS is making himself known through many different means, all of which are abundantly sufficient to enable anyone to respond freely. That alone is my argument, yet it seems some have taken that to mean I don’t think the HS ever works in any other way except by inspiring scriptures and compelling preachers (probably due to a poor job of wording on my part).

        I believe the gospel is powerful and thus sufficient to enable those who hear it to respond to its appeals…WHY? Because it is a gracious work of the HS from start to finish.

        I don’t believe the Koran is more believable to the lost man than our Bible is. And I believe any additional work the HS does in addition to the work of bringing the gospel is purely of grace, not necessity (i.e. it is necessary for God to do more than He has done through His own Holy Word in order to grant the fallen man the moral ability to respond freely…an unnecessary affirmation if we deny total inability, which I thought we did?!?).

        Traditionalists have gone to great lengths to biblically deny the concept of Original Guilt, and rightly so, yet some seem to want to hold on to a far more troubling doctrine, the doctrine of “original” Inability (i.e. we can’t morally desire to accept the clearly revealed truth of God unless the HS does an additional work of grace above and beyond that which He has done in the revelation itself.)

        Peter replied: ////In one breath, you claim, “As I’ve tried to make clear from the beginning, I do believe the HS is drawing us through scripture **AND other means (mediate, immediate, etc)** and then turn right around and opine, “…unless the HS does an **additional work of grace above and beyond that which He has done in the revelation itself**; even more, identifying the latter as far more troubling than the concept of Original Guilt.////

        To which I said: I’m simply arguing that all of the means God employes are sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which they are sent. I believe the work the HS does to bring the gospel is sufficient to enable the one who hears it to respond freely. I believe any other work the HS does adds to that already sufficient work of grace. He doesn’t work to make the gospel sufficient by healing the disabled condition of fallen man (as the Arminian concept of “prevenient grace” teaches).

        The HS, in my view, is not having to overcome total inability (the concept that mankind, due to sin, is unable to willingly believe clearly revealed truth). Instead, the HS is at work through a variety of sufficient means to make that truth known to all the world. The proclamation of the gospel is one means among the many, but it is sufficient to enable a free response. Not because fallen humanity is “good enough” to respond, but because the HS wrought gospel is powerful enough to enable even a fallen man to respond.

        The question boils down to this: Is the Holy Spirit sufficiently enabling the lost by the means of gospel or is He making the gospel sufficient by use of additional means (some kind of prevenient grace that makes an otherwise disabled will able to freely respond)?

        If you deny total inability there is no reason not to affirm the sufficiency of the gospel in enabling a free response. Traditionalism, as I understand it, denies total inability, and thus would have no logical or biblical reason for insisting on the necessity of an additional work of the HS to enable a free response to the gospel revelation.

        Peter, if an innate moral inability to respond to the gospel doesn’t exist (which is what Traditionalism says) then what is the HS accomplishing with that extra *immediate* working of grace? The HS is either enabling the lost man to respond to the gospel because sin made him disabled, OR the HS is simply adding to the already sufficient work of revelation by making Himself even more abundantly clear. I vote for the latter because, like the Traditionalist statement states, total inability is not biblical.

        Please give me a call in the next couple of days and let’s talk it through. That has really helped in 3 other conversations with other scholars today…I’m sure we can talk it through as well.

        I wish now to respond to the sincere concern express by my brother Peter Lumpkins in the original post.

        I had to do a little freshening up on the Campbellite controversy. As I remembered from my seminary days it was a conflict over whether the remission of sins is applied at faith or only after baptism. Harding, the Campbellite, argued that baptism was necessary for the remission of sins, whereas Moody argued for what we all here affirm; that baptism is an act of obedience following justification, not a law/work required for justification. I strongly agree with Moody, who argued:

        “I now have to say, after studying the Scriptures for forty years, and after having written a second translation of the New Testament,*** that the dispensation of the Gospel is a dispensation of grace, and as such it must be received into the heart by faith and love, not by work or works.*** The Gospel received into the heart by faith becomes an inward principle, that subdues the whole man and makes him a, servant of God and Jesus Christ. I cannot accept of baptism as a law of pardon, nor of any law of pardon. Law of pardon is not a Scriptural expression.” – Moody (closing words of opening speech in the debate referenced above)

        Notice Moody’s phrase, “the dispensation of the Gospel is a dispensation of grace, and as such it must be received into the heart by faith.”

        This is the heart of my argument. Because I see the Gospel itself as an unmerited work of divine grace, I affirm its sufficiency to enable whosoever hears it to respond freely the truth therein. I do not believe the scriptures teach the need for an additional work of grace to make the gospel sufficiently believable to the natural man.

        I do however believe that the HS works through a variety of other gracious means in order to make His gospel truth more widely known. The HS is constantly at work in our world to woo, convict and draw the lost to Himself by a variety of means, paramount of which is the gospel itself. These additional works of divine grace do not, in my estimation, devalue the sufficiency of gospel itself, but serve to further the reach and impact of that already sufficient work of grace.

        In other words, affirming that the HS does more than bring us the gospel does not suggest to me that the gospel alone is insufficient. Our Bible is abundantly believable. The HS’s work to further convince people to believe the Bible doesn’t mean the Bible in and of itself can’t be believed by the natural man. To draw that conclusion is to affirm the Calvinistic doctrine of inability, as I understand it. (please show me how that is inaccurate, if it is)

        For example, suppose you email me a true teaching that you believe God revealed to you. I read it and reject it. So, because you care about me, you decide to call me and talk to me about it and as a result I accept it. Does the fact that you graciously chose to call me prove that the email wasn’t sufficient for me to accept the truth you revealed in that email? Of course not. More revelation doesn’t prove that the former revelation wasn’t sufficient for a free response. It only proves that God wishes to reveal Himself even more abundantly. My rejection of your teaching in your original email was totally MY CHOOSING, not a lack of clarity or believability on your part…just as those who reject the gospel cannot say, “The truth wasn’t sufficiently revealed.”

        Now, regarding the Campbellite controversy. I read through much of the debate between Harding and Moody and the major point of contention is clearly over the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins, not the sufficiency of “gospel grace” (Rick Patrick’s term that I’m stealing).

        Though I might affirm part of what Peter quoted in the OP from Harding, that in and of itself doesn’t make me a Campbellite. It only makes me in agreement with one point that a Campbellite affirmed…and which the other guy may have affirmed to some degree (we don’t know because that wasn’t really their major point of contention).

        The part I do want to contend is this… Dr. Moody confronts someone named ‘Mr. Briney,’ and Peter seems to think he might represent my view, but I assure you that he does not (at least not according to these quotes provided by Peter):

        ///Moody (Baptist): “Mr. Briney said in the Mayfleld debate: “The personal power of the Spirit is not present with the Word in the conversion of the sinner.” Again, he said: “The Scriptures teach that the Gospel alone is sufficient for the conversion and sanctification of sinners.” Mr. Briney here says in effect that ” I deny that there is any personal power of the Holy Spirit exerted upon the sinner’s heart in conversion.”///

        I ***DO*** believe the personal power of the Spirit is present with the Word in the conversion of the sinner. I just don’t believe that personal power is flipping the “enable switch” to make the word sufficiently believable. The word is powerful because it is from HIM (Rm. 1:16). I believe the word is sufficiently powerful because it is HIS, yet God still graciously does more to make that word known and dispersed to the lost world.

        Also, I do not believe “The Scriptures teach that the Gospel alone is sufficient for the conversion and sanctification of sinners.” Only God can convert the sinner and he does so when one humbles himself and believes the gospel. Sanctification is a work of the indwelling spirit after faith. This is an important distinction. I’m not arguing man can justify or save himself in response to the gospel alone. I’m saying the lost can freely believe the powerful HS wrought gospel and God chooses to graciously convert, regenerate and then sanctify him by the power of the indwelling Spirit.

        Finally, I ***DO NOT*** “deny that there is any personal power of the Holy Spirit exerted upon the sinner’s heart in conversion.” Instead I affirm that the personal power of the HS accomplishes every aspect of bringing the gospel to this otherwise lost and hopeless world, and whosoever believes that gospel will be converted by the power of the HS, indwelled by the HS and then sanctified by the HS.

        The gospel is the means God has chosen to make “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10) clear to us. The word reveals the truth that would otherwise remain a mystery. The scriptures ARE the way God has chosen to explain deep spiritual truth that we wouldn’t otherwise know or understand. So, to say that God’s means of explanation/revelation need further grace to make them understandable just isn’t biblical. His revelation is always sufficient to reveal what He wants revealed.

        Listen, we can all find commonality with almost any rouge movement throughout history and play the ‘guilt by association card.’ (i.e. Matt Slick did this to me the other day by reading a Catholic document that said a point I happened to affirm and then proceeded to call me a Catholic for the rest of the debate. Affirming one point that Catholics teach does not a Catholic make.) We should not do this to each other. That indeed will set us back many years in the advancement of our cause.

        I love and respect Peter deeply. I am taking his advice in talking to scholars personally as I better learn how to explain my views on this. I have had 4 long conversations thus far and I’m looking forward to a few more. I’ve learned this issue isn’t quite a cut and dry as some may believe it is. But, by His grace, I continue to seek His truth and sincerely appreciate the sharpening iron of my brethren in the process.

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  7. Thank you Leighton! I guess, simply put for my thinking – We are trying to figure out how much innate effective power the Scripture has on its own when it is heard with the mind of the unregenerate, no matter how hardened that person might be against it at that moment of hearing. Jesus explained that the Word was heard and sown sometimes in hard hearts. And He said that the hardened heart could not understand it, so it became easy for Satan to take the Word out of the heart so that the person should not be saved by believing it. (Matt 13, Luke 8).

    I have concluded from Christ’s explanation that even hard hearts have their thoughts and intents divided by the presence of the Word, so that they at least “sense” its truthfulness, importance, and their need to pursue to understand it. Why else would Satan care if the Word remained in a hard heart?

    I want to now speak theoretically, for I do not think the Holy Spirit sits idly by to watch how far the Word can effectively interact with a heart before adding other means of positive influence. I do believe the unregenerate heart is freed by the presence of the Word, like I said, enough to “sense” its truthfulness and possible benefit. I believe such an unregenerate heart is now free enough and does make a choice for or against pursuing further understanding. Hypothetically, because of the innate power of the Scripture, that unregenerate person can then pick up a Bible and read more, while the HS sits idly by watching, :-), and the Scripture can divide/plow that hard heart enough for the seed of the gospel to root enough so that the heart must decide to trust or reject the salvation being offered.

    If trusted, the Holy Spirit has to, being faithful to the promise of God, finally :-), to get personally involved and cause regeneration to take place in response to the trust expressed by that heart which was changed only by the innate power of the Word. Of course, I do not believe this is a typical senario, just a theoretically true one based upon the verses we are discussing (Heb 4:12 especially).

    On a side note… I don’t think we should confuse – “preaching” with “proclamation of the Word”. Preaching should contain and explain the Word, and the HS does often personally “whisper” into hearts His illumination when preaching takes place… But I believe that just quotations from God’s Word, on their own, have innate power that causes a minimal work in every heart, without the HS’s personal “whispering” added to it.

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    1. Great post Brian. I’ll tell you what really scares me about this line of discussion and what comes most to my attention, and that is a gravitation to preaching the innate goodness of man and that sin is not a demonic power within us, but just some naughty choices we make. This will leave Christians warring according the the flesh and blind to the real battle within us. Now I know these traditionalists don’t want to go that far, but it’s just one step in the wrong direction. Every time I hear this denial of depravity, I literally cringe inside. Sin is something that lives in us without Christ, our old man must be crucified with him, there is depths to our own sinful flesh and weakness and depravity that even godly men are not aware of! It’s like Peter saying “Lord I won’t deny you!” We cannot trust in this innate goodness of man, it is a very bad and destructive doctrine, striking at the core of the Work of the Cross, where the is only one solution, be crucified, be crucified, be crucified, or sin will live again in you. bless and thanks for putting up with a brother’s rant

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      1. Dizerner,

        “I’ll tell you what really scares me about this line of discussion and what comes most to my attention, and that is a gravitation to preaching the innate goodness of man and that sin is not a demonic power within us, but just some naughty choices we make. This will leave Christians warring according the the flesh and blind to the real battle within us. Now I know these traditionalists don’t want to go that far, but it’s just one step in the wrong direction. Every time I hear this denial of depravity, I literally cringe inside.”

        So your concern about this teaching is that it will gravitate towards the “innate goodness of man and that sin is not a demonic power within us”. I think that is a good thing to be concerned about. And it is possible that a denial of depravity will result in people viewing man as basically good. I don’t think Leighton denies depravity, he just conceives it different than calvinists and Arminians do. And that is OK, that is not what concerns me about this teaching.

        Here is what I am concerned about Dizerner. I do a lot of evangelism, and I train people to do evangelism. I want my people to have their confidence in the power of God, specifically the Holy Spirit when they are witnessing and sharing their faith. Improperly and untrained people will have thoughts such as “if only I had shared X verse, then Joe would have been saved . . .” “if only I was more intelligent and explained the gospel more intelligently than Sue would have been saved . . .” “if only I had explained X more to Tom, then he would have been saved . . .” etc. etc. Note these kinds of statements make it seem as if we convert people, as if we save people, when we do not, God alone does. God alone changes hearts. God alone enlightens hearts and gives understanding of their spiritual condition through conviction of their sin, revealing Jesus to them, etc. etc.

        I want people who witness, confident in the work of the Spirit not in themselves or their techniques or whatever. The people I train are confident evangelists, not because they are the most intelligent, educated, knowledgeable, informed, longest Christians, etc. No, they are confident because they know it requires the work of the Spirit and they are confident in Him doing this work (and many of them have seen it first hand as they evangelize what the Spirit can do).

        I have used this example before, confidence in the power of the Spirit is why I can get in front of an audience of hundreds of inmates and not be nervous, because it is not about me, it is about the work of the Spirit in their hearts. If you deny this work of the Spirit or claim the Word alone is enough, then you could easily slip into thoughts such as “if only I had more clearly presented the Word . . .” “If only I had shared more of the Word . . .” etc. etc. I don’t want evangelists engaging in “if only” and putting their confidence in themselves (put in biblical terminology, they place their confidence in the flesh), I want evangelists confident in how the Spirit works, confident that He can change and enlighten the hardest heart.

        If you put your confidence in the Spirit rather than your own presentation of spiritual things, you can be a servant of Jesus, humbly presenting the truth, not having regrets about what you coulda, shoulda, woulda done. Instead you know you planted seeds and that the Spirit will use what you have done. We are not the **Junior Holy Spirit** convicting people of sin and preparing their hearts for a faith response, there is only one Spirit and He is quite good at convicting folks of sin and enlightening people. One of my concerns when I see the comments of some is that I am wondering: how many of them have actually been involved in leading others to Jesus? Seems they are waxing eloquently from their theological chairs and behind their computer monitors, but what real world evangelism have they done? Have they witnessed the incredible and miraculous work of the Spirit? Is it just **theory** for them, or have they seen the incredible transformation the Spirit can bring?

        It is interesting that I have met others who held the same views about the work of the Spirit that I do, and sometimes they are calvinists, sometimes Arminians, sometimes whatever. And yet we have seen the same thing. Adrian Rodgers certainly saw it, that is why I quoted him in this thread. Rodgers was a great preacher and yet he knew that what was really changing people was not really him, instead it was the Spirit.

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      2. Not, either or, but, both and! Confidence should be in both the Holy Spirit and in His Word. I am confident that both have individual innate power when interacting with the heart of man! The HS does not need to turn on a switch in His living, powerful Word for it to have any positive effect. Nor does He have to punch a hole into the heart for the seed of the Word to be planted there and to have some positive effect. Even if the heart is hard, the potential effect is eventually salvific if the Word’s initial innate positive effect is responded to positively, and more truth from Scripture is pursued until the gospel is understood, in my view.

        And the Holy Spirit can do some very important work without Scripture, to reveal truth about God and sin! And man’s heart can respond to that truth to draw him towards repentance, even before He hears one powerful Bible verse.

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      3. Good input, Robert…

        . Improperly and untrained people will have thoughts such as “if only I had shared X verse, then Joe would have been saved . . .”
        I think I’m improperly trained (heh) as I suffer this a lot, but I have a sensitive conscience too.

        I want people who witness, confident in the work of the Spirit not in themselves or their techniques or whatever.
        Powerful insight for sure… puts our fleshly struggles at rest, when we know God can use the weak things.

        The people I train are confident evangelists
        Do you use EE, that is such a great program I think, my mother used to head up our churches EE program years ago.

        If only I had shared more of the Word . . .” etc. etc. I don’t want evangelists engaging in “if only” and putting their confidence in themselves
        It’s funny you say this, I was just listening to a famous preacher who preached thousands of sermons admitting to struggling with this issue for awhile…. always feeling like he could have done better somehow.

        We are not the **Junior Holy Spirit** convicting people of sin and preparing their hearts for a faith response
        Lol, yea, for sure. I’d say the more we simply trust him, the more he can get us out of the way.

        but what real world evangelism have they done?
        Good point, man, I don’t know if we are all called to evangelize in exactly the same way, like door to door, I’m not knocking that. My dad back in the day (2 years passed on now) dragged me door to door, and it’s not that I didn’t love Christ, you know, but I feel like he did it for religious compulsion as some kind of good work. He didn’t even have his own life sanctified you know, and I’m thinking what kind of witness is that, and I know Leighton may think the Word itself will work, but when people see a hypocrite, when people feel a hypocritical heart, I’m sorry, but I really know they can sense that. I have people tell me as soon as you even touch on religion “Well, the church is just all about money,” or “I know a Pastor who did this or that,” or you know, they just bring up some negative image and it’s all they can think about. Now I’ve just ended up in some odd places with some real sinners, lol, and sure they all could recite the Christian tagline “Jesus died for my sins,” but they don’t really understand what that means and it’s not at all real to them. I mean, the ability to just be a friend to them, to actually show genuine concern, to just for once not be a hypocrite all about racking the numbers in, filling the pews. or converting everybody to my “cool club,” but just showing a person instead, who you really are, opening up, becoming vulnerable, admitting your own doubts and struggles but yet all mixed in with just how real and vivid a true experiential religion can be, showing them you understand why they struggle with it, why it just seems so weird, it’s hard to understand, all the different paths and religions and ideas, and saying in the end, “You know Jesus has been something real to me,” and it’s, it’s not annoying them somehow, but out of an undeniable expression of true friendship and love, well to me that’s really the most powerful witness of all. Just talking about it, makes me wish someone had ever witnessed to me that way, LOL. Well, I’ve rambled again…

        And yet we have seen the same thing. Adrian Rodgers certainly saw it, that is why I quoted him in this thread.
        For all Adrian Rodgers critics, hearing a few of his sermons I have no doubt at all he was a great man of God full of the Word. I agree with you on this, it is a bit misguided this attempt to save God’s reputation by lessening the power of the sinfulness of man, God did not leave us stranded, he’s been working nonstop sin man fell, but if you just look at what happens when the Holy Spirit leaves, when prevenient grace has left the earth, you see the bowls of wrath and the kingdom of the Beast and all hell breaks loose. That alone should convince us not to underestimate sin.

        Thanks for taking the time to share with me, Robert.

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  8. Leighton,

    Thank you for providing your response to Peter Lumpkins. It is lengthy so it will take me some time to look it over, and then hopefully I can respond to you. I do appreciate your providing that response, as I believe it will help me better understand your position.

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  9. Robert,
    I also recognize the authority of Adrian Rogers, however quoting what he wrote provides no evidence to what would define the “Traditional Baptist belief” if such exists. It represents one mans view amongst millions. To argue this way is no better than the Founder’s arguments for Calvinism – it is true because all the early Baptists were Calvinist. Wonder if the Pharisees tried to make the same point? Why not judge a man’s writings against Scripture?

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  10. Dizerner
    Thanks for your response / See, I think your argument “God wants something therefore God will make it happen!” / …but that is not my argument. My argument is God desires to reveal Himself through His word. It is reasonable to believe that He created us with this ability to understand and believe that revelation. I believe scripture supports this and not the idea that He creates us with an inability and later graciously gives us this ability. I am sure you remember from our previous discussions that I reject the idea of prevenient grace as unscriptural.

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    1. Do you believe man has a sin nature? Do you believe God hates sin? At this point I could say, if you answer yes, “it is reasonable to believe God created us without a sin nature because God desires us not to sin.” I don’t think you are seeing this, that the fallen world means by definition, people and things are not as God desires… do you accept man has a sin nature?

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      1. Dizerner,
        You would have to define sin nature. I do not believe God created man with a proclivity to sin. I believe that man without the aid of the Holy Spirit will succumb to the enticing power of sin. The best analogy I can give to sin is drugs. Men are attracted to the perceived pleasure and partake. When they partake they become addicted. I believe this is what the Bible is describing when it says we are slaves to sin. Yes I do believe God hates sin.

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      2. So you believe that someone, if they simply decided to, could never sin and live righteously by their choice? People get a bit waffley when they don’t fully embrace a sin nature, and start saying things that seem contradictory like a compatibilist. You believe man has NO proclivity to sin but without some external power will ALWAYS sin. Do you see how that seems a bit strange to me? When it comes to this sin nature thing I’m learning why people take one side or the other, just like with Calvinism, like what motivates them to choose, and in both cases it is often issues of apparent injustice.

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      3. Dizerner, I don’t believe there is some defect in man that causes men to sin. God created men with the ability to choose and this comes with the ability to choose.wrongly. I think men are tempted to sin and they succumb to temptation Jesus spoke of man’s weakness. Jesus warned His Disciples – Matthew 26:41 (HCSB) 41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Paul often referred to the weakness of the flesh. I believe we choose to sin and each time we choose to sin we could have chosen not to sin. I am not trying to waffle but when people begin speaking of a sin nature, I have not found anyone that can adequately explain it – to me that’s where the waffling begins.This weakness in man is not an inability to resist temptation because we can resist it but at times we don’t. I would say the external power is the temptation. I believe that temptation is a power of Satan. You said that men will always sin. This is not true and I think what you meant is all men will sin. This merely illustrates the power and the perpetual bombardment of sin in this fallen world and our need to Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

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      4. Well, I can explain the sin nature, but I find people that reject it have a kind of spiritual stubborn blindness even when you present very clear Scriptures—might almost make you think man has a sin nature that doesn’t like to hear the truth of it! But you do accept the Scripture says all men sin, even though you want to say it’s just a wonderful stroke of probabilistic luck that every person happened to have sinned, since not a single one of them actually necessarily had to sin, but could have simply chosen not to. That alone is enough to make one scratch one’s head, brother, before we even get on to about 100 strong verses on it. The real root of it is the inheritance of spiritual death, Romans 5, Romans 7, slavery to sin (without a greater grace or STRONGMAN, not just man choosing to be good) but because people see God’s grace never left the fallen race, they start to say man is inherently good and take away the credit and glory of God’s grace towards a fallen race. See, when Adam and Eve sinned, they deserved hell, period, right then and there off the bat, and that would preclude you or me existing, at least in the way we did end up existing (in Adam). But this kind of thing, making man inherently good (which at least even Leighton denies), it’s a real stronghold that’s not easy to tear down, because it puts righteousness all in the flesh and all in man and his meritorious choices to do right. People want to mix grace in because the intuitive knowledge of sin is so deep in us—only a few works righteousness proponents have the guts to just say man is inherently good. So although I could immediately present you in depth studies, from my experience it won’t help any more than telling an atheist Jesus died for him, he simply rejects that “interpretation” of what Scripture says. It would really need to start with prayer, and I hope Leighton notices this, that people following his broadcast may be encouraged by his soft stance on the sinful nature to live putting their trust in their own flesh, and not seeing the need to escape the power of inward living sin, but an identification death with Christ on the cross to reckon the old man dead, in whom there was no good thing, nor ability to please God (except by reckoning himself dead).

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      5. Dizerner,
        Thank you for your response. I would be happy to look at scriptures that say men have a sin nature, but I have never had someone show me. The Calvinist tries to prove total depravity/inability by presenting scriptures that say men are sinning, but I have never denied that men sin. They are depraved and all men do sin but this does not prove that this is all they can do. In fact, experience shows that on occasion, men will refrain from sin. History shows that some men have laid down their life for others, and Jesus says there is no greater love than this. Maybe you can do a better job than the Calvinist.
        You wrote that /even though you want to say it’s just a wonderful stroke of probabilistic luck that every person happened to have sinned, since not a single one of them actually necessarily had to sin/ This does NOT represent my view. I showed you scripture that represents my view: MEN SIN BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO WEEK TO RESIST TEMPTATION. Let me give you a metaphor that should help. We are swimming in a sea of sin that is constantly trying to pull us down. Even the strongest swimmer will be pulled under when he relaxes. We are not able to constantly fight the sin battle we are in.In our own strength, we are too week. We do have the Holy Spirit who is our life preserver and as long as we abide in him, we can keep our heads above the water of sin.

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      6. I would be happy to look at scriptures that say men have a sin nature, but I have never had someone show me.
        No, what I think you will be happy to do is try to explain them away, lol, and there’s no way you haven’t seen them before (you’re simply posturing your case as stronger than it really is).

        But let’s just start with one so we don’t make too many sweeping statements. The single most powerful verse I have is Romans 5:19:

        For, just as, through the disobedience of the one man, sinners, the many were constituted, so, also, through the obedience of the one, righteous, the many shall be constituted—

        That word “constituted” other translations use “made” or “appointed,” for me that’s weaker to the meaning, but from the context it’s clear to me it means “substantiated,” to make into something. I’m very familiar with out this verse is normally argued for OS deniers, so we’ll see what you do with it.

        I would argue this verse clearly links the disobedience of the one man as the sole causative act for the appellation of “sinners” to the many (of humanity), and Paul meant to argue it worked in just the same logical fashion as Christ’s one act being the causative factor for believers to be “righteous ones.” I don’t think this verse means in name only (just called sinner or righteous) nor do I think this verse logically allows for any other act of individual people to cause the the man to become sinful ones or righteous ones.

        How would you read that verse differently, then.

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      7. Dizerner,
        You asked my understanding of Romans 5:19 (KJV) 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
        I believe that men become sinners when they sin. The Bible states we are not responsible for others sins: Ezekiel 18:19-20 (HCSB)
        19 But you may ask, ‘Why doesn’t the son suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ Since the son has done what is just and right, carefully observing all My statutes, he will certainly live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.

        Paul has already explained what He means back in verse 12 about how Adam,s sin made sinners : Romans 5:12 (HCSB)
        12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.

        That is the nature of a sin – it leads to other sins. It is addictive like a drug and man becomes a slave to it.

        BTW the Greek word that you translated “constituted” is the Greek word kathistēmi and BDAG gives this definition: cause someone to experience someth., make, cause – it references this verse for this definition.

        So men are caused to experience sin.

        I think it is notable that a sin nature is not even hinted at. Maybe your 2nd best verse can help your position.

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      8. Not even hinted at? It’s your presuppositions that refuse to look at the text a certain way. Being constituted a sinner by another person, is a description of a nature. Okay, here’s my 2nd best verse:

        Rom. 7:17

        In that case, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

        Now this could hardly be clearer, but I’m sure you’ll find some crazy weird way around it. Paul literally says sin is living inside him, and that living sin, is making Paul do things that Paul does not want to do, and Paul specifically says that he, Paul, is not even the one doing it.

        So what way would you find to deny that.

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  11. Dizerner,

    I am going to take the easy and probably lazy route first, respond to you before I respond to Leighton’s long response to Lumpkins! 🙂

    [. Improperly and untrained people will have thoughts such as “if only I had shared X verse, then Joe would have been saved . . .”
    I think I’m improperly trained (heh) as I suffer this a lot, but I have a sensitive conscience too.]

    I think you understand my point dizerner, I was talking about the issue of trust. Where is our trust focused? On what the Spirit can do, or on what we can do? Nothing wrong with having a sensitive conscience and having regrets, but again my point was on where our trust is focused.

    [I want people who witness, confident in the work of the Spirit not in themselves or their techniques or whatever.
    Powerful insight for sure… puts our fleshly struggles at rest, when we know God can use the weak things.]

    Well see that is the paradox of Christian good works. We do them, but we do them as God works through us. This is why Jesus said you have to abide in him to produce good fruits. As you abide in Him, and follow the leading of the Spirit you will do genuine good works. It is also a paradox because while He works through us to accomplish these things, He also tells us that different people are rewarded differently. But we do not do any of it to be saved, we do it because we are saved.

    [The people I train are confident evangelists
    Do you use EE, that is such a great program I think, my mother used to head up our churches EE program years ago.]

    EE is very good, as for myself I am an eclectic (i.e. I don’t say on thing is “it”, I use whatever the good things available to us are; e.g. a friend of mine Ray Comfort puts out these great tracts, ever seen them? If not go to his website and look them over, great stuff).

    [If only I had shared more of the Word . . .” etc. etc. I don’t want evangelists engaging in “if only” and putting their confidence in themselves
    It’s funny you say this, I was just listening to a famous preacher who preached thousands of sermons admitting to struggling with this issue for awhile…. always feeling like he could have done better somehow.]

    Again I would distinguish between you and this famous preacher having a sensitive conscience, and where our trust should be focused. I think we always feel like we could have done better or more, but that is talking about evaluating what we do. I am not talking about self evaluation but again about where you focus your trust (the sufficiency of the Spirit’s work or the sufficiency of your own efforts?)

    [We are not the **Junior Holy Spirit** convicting people of sin and preparing their hearts for a faith response
    Lol, yea, for sure. I’d say the more we simply trust him, the more he can get us out of the way.]

    Now you got it! This is really what I am getting at. When we evangelize we are mere vessels for His use. He is the one changing hearts, He is the one enlightening people and revealing their condition and revealing the identity of Jesus, etc. etc. We do our part as best we can, but we also “get out of the way” and see Him do his part which is much more important and more powerful than our part. Our attitude is that we are thankful that we have been used, grateful that we even play a part in the whole thing. At the same time if we have the right attitude, trusting in the sufficiency of the Spirit it is freeing and liberating because it really does not depend on us but upon Him!

    [but what real world evangelism have they done?
    Good point, man, I don’t know if we are all called to evangelize in exactly the same way, like door to door, I’m not knocking that. My dad back in the day (2 years passed on now) dragged me door to door, and it’s not that I didn’t love Christ, you know, but I feel like he did it for religious compulsion as some kind of good work. He didn’t even have his own life sanctified you know, and I’m thinking what kind of witness is that, and I know Leighton may think the Word itself will work, but when people see a hypocrite, when people feel a hypocritical heart, I’m sorry, but I really know they can sense that. I have people tell me as soon as you even touch on religion “Well, the church is just all about money,” or “I know a Pastor who did this or that,” or you know, they just bring up some negative image and it’s all they can think about. Now I’ve just ended up in some odd places with some real sinners, lol, and sure they all could recite the Christian tagline “Jesus died for my sins,” but they don’t really understand what that means and it’s not at all real to them. I mean, the ability to just be a friend to them, to actually show genuine concern, to just for once not be a hypocrite all about racking the numbers in, filling the pews. or converting everybody to my “cool club,” but just showing a person instead, who you really are, opening up, becoming vulnerable, admitting your own doubts and struggles but yet all mixed in with just how real and vivid a true experiential religion can be, showing them you understand why they struggle with it, why it just seems so weird, it’s hard to understand, all the different paths and religions and ideas, and saying in the end, “You know Jesus has been something real to me,” and it’s, it’s not annoying them somehow, but out of an undeniable expression of true friendship and love, well to me that’s really the most powerful witness of all. Just talking about it, makes me wish someone had ever witnessed to me that way, LOL. Well, I’ve rambled again…]

    Well again I am an eclectic, I don’t advocate just one way (e.g. say going door to door). I have a friend that evangelizes by going to the grocery, post office, etc. and just handing out tracts and talking to people while in line. That is all he does and yet he has led many, many people to the Lord. I know others who are very good at going in teams of two. The mistake is to limit yourself to only one method. Off topic – a personal opinion of mine while we are on this topic of door to door evangelism. I love what the Mormons do in having their young people go on a two year mission. They have to go door to door and share their faith and be ready for attacks of their faith. I know their theology to be false but I think this is very smart. Imagine if we Christians did this with our people? They would learn evangelism, learn to defend their faith, it would be very good for them.

    You mention being a friend to nonbelievers. I consider this really important. It is one of the things I train people to do. Be a friend to nonbelievers, pray for the opportunity to share with them, and as it is God’s will for us to share He will provide the opportunity. We need to be available but as we are being available we need to be genuine friends with people. People will take things much more from a friend than from a stranger.

    Of course the best witness is always a good example. When people say “I notice that you are different . . .” When they actually observe you being different, that is powerful. And again in evangelism is not just doing one thing, it is doing them all, continuously and repeatedly.

    [And yet we have seen the same thing. Adrian Rodgers certainly saw it, that is why I quoted him in this thread.
    For all Adrian Rodgers critics, hearing a few of his sermons I have no doubt at all he was a great man of God full of the Word. I agree with you on this, it is a bit misguided this attempt to save God’s reputation by lessening the power of the sinfulness of man, God did not leave us stranded, he’s been working nonstop sin man fell, but if you just look at what happens when the Holy Spirit leaves, when prevenient grace has left the earth, you see the bowls of wrath and the kingdom of the Beast and all hell breaks loose. That alone should convince us not to underestimate sin.]

    It is about balance, we want to talk about the sinfulness of man, at the same time we want to trust in the power of the Spirit. That is why the gospel is called good news, it is good news to a sinner who recognizes through the work of the Spirit that he/she is a sinner and that Jesus is the only way to be saved and that Jesus loves them so much He died on the cross for them, and their sins can be forgiven through the cross, and . . .

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    1. I’ve listened to Comfort’s Hell’s best kept secret twice this year, once just yesterday. It has some real truths to meditate on about Law preparing the heart for grace. I saw him at the live stream of the Reason Rally the other day, it was too bad they stopped his work there.

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  12. “I don’t believe there is some defect in man that causes men to sin.”
    I don’t doubt for a moment that there is a deep defect in all men that cause them to sin. How can anyone look at this world or his own soul and believe he is not defective? We are all badly broken. The error the Calvinists make is to say we can’t recognize our brokenness even when God reveals it to us. And, so they think Arminians believe that we somehow help God to save us, which is just insane. We do the opposite, we do the only thing we can, which is to fall at His feet, to fall out of ourselves and into His grace.
    Believing we have some innate goodness will always lead us to a works religion. Our job is never to try harder to be good, our job is always to go deeper into the vine so He can work through us. Jesus said he came to heal the brokenhearted and set captives free, not that he came to make good people a little better.
    We are dead in sins until God quickens our hearts to realize our deadness. This is what we call prevenient grace. Then, we either “get low” and humble ourselves or we fall back into the sin of Adam and try to make ourselves a god again.

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    1. Wildswanderer,
      I think I have answered your objections with my answer to Dizerner above. Man does not sin because he has a defect. Scripture says we sin because we are too week to overcome temptations. If you can show scripture that says otherwise, please post them.

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  13. I’m a bit confused about how you say men without the Holy Spirit will always sin and yet at the same time that they aren’t born with a sin nature. It would seem that, in theory, an unregenerate person could be sinless if he didn’t have a built in proclivity to sin. Maybe we are just saying the same thing in different ways. I totally agree that sinning is not all men do, even if not regenerated. The Total depravity that I would agree with is the one where all our facilities are corrupt (when we are in the flesh) not that we can never do anything good. We’ve all met non believers who lived uprightly in a lot of ways.
    When Paul talks about having two natures, and the many verses that talk about the flesh, to me, speak of men having a carnal nature.
    And of course Romans 7:15 comes to mind:
    “We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do.”
    It sure seems to me that this is speaking of something within us that is broken, that we are slaves even when we don’t want to be, and even if this verse is about non-believers, it still indicates to me that we have a sinful nature that has to be rooted out by the Spirit.
    In theory, (being raised on Wesley) I still hold hope that someone somewhere is completely sanctified and not longer sins at all, but I grew up with that belief and honestly, I think most that believed they were entirely sanctified were mistaken. But, that’s another subject. It seems the question at hand is whether we are born sinners or only sin due to the temptations of the world, flesh and devil.

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  14. Wildswanderer,
    Maybe where I differ with the idea of a sinless nature of man is that I do not think there is something inherent in man that causes him to sin. I believe the cause of sin lies outside man. The Bible speaks of entering temptation and escaping temptation : 1 Corinthians 10:13 (HCSB)
    13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.
    It also speaks of falling into temptation:
    1 Timothy 6:9 (HCSB)
    9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction.

    I believe that temptation is the force that causes men to sin.
    Satan used Temptation in an attempt to cause Christ to sin.

    I believe that the reason men sin is because they are Spiritually week: Here are some verses I think support that view:

    Matthew 26:41 (HCSB)
    41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

    Romans 8:3 (HCSB)
    3 What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering,

    1 Corinthians 8:7 (HCSB)
    7 However, not everyone has this knowledge. In fact, some have been so used to idolatry up until now that when they eat food offered to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled.

    I agree that man is carnal, but I can not find carnal nature in any of the many Bibles versions I have. Carnal is used by Paul to describe that which is not spiritual or a man who is following his fleshly desires rather than the Holy Spirit. Remember the flesh is weak.

    Because of man’s weakness I don’t think it is theoretically possible for man to be sinless any more than it is theoretically possible for me to lift 1000 pounds without help. The good news is we do have the Holy Spirit and Gods word to resist sin one temptation at the time.

    I believe that sin is like drugs in that it is addictive. One sin will lead to another. That’s what the scripture is describing when it says we are slaves to sin.

    One other thing I believe is that God hates sin so much He would not create us with a flawed nature that causes us to sin. But of course that is just my opinion. Others believe differently and I am open to hear their arguments.

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    1. God did NOT create us with a sin nature, that’s not what we teach about that, sin entered through the disobedience of the one man into all people. What do you even think the “old man” or the “body of flesh” is in Scripture, and why do you think it needs to be reckoned dead in Christ and put off as crucified with Christ?

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      1. So What was the mechanism for this sin entering all men because the Bible says it entered into the world and SPREAD to all men. I say that is the nature of sin not of man. Sin spreads like a disease.

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      2. To be crucified with Christ is obviously a metaphor indicating that it must end or die if you prefer. And thats precisely what we would expect. Following temptations of this world (or Satan – the prince of this world) rather than the Holy Spirit must end. I don’t see a problem with this.

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      3. Obviously a metaphor???? That’s not obvious to me at all. Is sinning a metaphor too? I know you don’t see a problem, but whether you see it or not, it’s surely there.

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      4. Well, Dizerner, I am not sure how you would nail that body to a cross literally and, if you can, how this says anything about a sin nature. Perhaps you can explain.

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      5. I think your presuppositions are blinding you to fairly clear words, at that point, explaining is not going to make you see any verse as saying what you presuppose they cannot say.

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  15. Dizerner you wrote /Adam was the mechanism, Adam is who we all derive life from until we are born again./ Where do you find this? Would you say the same for Noah? The Bible says that Christ created all that was created ( John 1) all life comes from God.

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      1. When the sin of one constituted the many sinners, the substance that we would come from (through deriving our life from our ancestors) was present in Adam. Hebrews explains this principle about the superior Priesthood:

        7:9 And—so to say a word—through Abraham, even Levi who taketh tithes hath paid tithes;
        7:10 For, even then, was he, in the loins of his father, when, Melchizedek, met him.

        Now this is what makes Rom. 5:19 make sense:

        Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned

        The all sinned is past tense here—even though some men aren’t born yet. People want to force a paradigm of works onto this passage, where people do right or do wrong, and get punished or blessed for what they do, but that’s a works system of righteousness where our deeds merit us the punishment or reward. Rather God set up a system where no one can be good enough, but righteousness must be sought by faith in grace alone:

        For God has locked up all under sin…
        They failed to obtain righteousness because they sought it by works…

        But when Romans 5 says no one sinned after the similitude of Adam, the way Adam sinned was by a free choice with no sin nature that cursed all of creation. You admit we are all unfairly cursed by Adam in the natural world, I’m sure, right? I don’t get food poisoning, poverty, tooth decay, ear infections, sickness, depression, abusive relationships, all because of my OWN sin right? That world was set up before I was born. So when you use Ezekiel 18 to try to prove a works righteousness, you’ve failed to realize that God set up a system where we are all unfairly punished for another man’s sin, at least in the natural, very heavily. Now that is a punishment for an iniquity, the iniquity you try to use in Eze. 18 to say I’m not punished for, but I AM punished with sickness, abuse and eventual death, and not because I sinned in the womb. Eze. 18 doesn’t say “you won’t be punished or affected by another man’s iniquity,” see? People abuse children, do you think the children don’t “Bear the iniquity of their fathers” but thus all abused children are abused because of their own iniquity? Well, no, of course you wouldn’t say that, even though I could make the argument that it IS the FATHER’S iniquity that is causing their pain. Aha. You see what I’m getting at? Now if we are born with a sin nature as a result of Adam driving our bus off a cliff, that’s not bearing Adam’s iniquity, that’s bearing the consequences of Adam’s iniquity, just like abused children bear the consequences of the iniquity of their abusive fathers.

        Now Corinthians tells us “All die in Adam,” that is, all people are IN Adam, and thus all people die. And Romans 5 tells us “by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one,” that is, death has a reigning power all because of the one man’s disobedience, and we see that is because we are IN Adam, as Scripture tells us.

        This is why we need to be BORN AGAIN and become a NEW CREATION, and that is not just a metaphor for trying harder and trying to overcome sin in the flesh and turn over a new leaf. Satan delights in saints trying harder, instead of trusting in the FINISHED WORK OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS, where sin in the flesh was crucified and destroyed on our behalf.

        That way just as in Romans 7 sin LIVED in Paul, when he reckons himself dead in Christ and resurrected in Christ (NOT A METAPHOR, A REALITY), afterwards he says “IT IS NOT I WHO LIVE, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME.”

        See that’s the way sin and righteousness work, all people are either in Adam or in Christ, and either sin is living in us, or Christ is living in us. Yes the flesh is WEAK, the flesh is weak because it’s sinful, that’s why we are not to trust in our flesh, it’s sold to sin in Adam, but we are to completely and totally trust the life of Christ in all things, for he defeats sin FOR us, we will never overcome in our effort and power.

        blessings

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      2. Good morning David and Ernest! Perhaps I have not read your discussion closely enough, but it sounds like a semantic argument. Do I “have” a disease or “am” I diseased? Could the sin of Adam have caused him and his soul to be HIV (sin) positive? Did he pass that virus in his soul onto every soul that comes from his (Traducian), including yours and mine? We are/have been infected with this infection.

        It is a part of our nature, in my view, because our nature, in my view, is not just my spirit/soul but also my body/flesh. God allows that sin infection to become full-blown guilt, when we of our free-will, when our conscience is mature enough, we disobey Him. The Rom 5:19 verse speaks to this as does Rom 7:9 and 11:32.

        Eph 2:3 – “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

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      3. Dizerner,
        Reviewing your previous post, here are some points I think we disagree on.
        You wrote /The all sinned is past tense here—even though some men aren’t born yet. / Are you denying that the spreading of sin and death is not still happening? Paul is merely stating that the reason death had passed to all men is all of those men sinned. He does not say death has passed to all men even those who aren’t born. You are interjecting that into the text. (Maybe begging the question – but I don’t really know your presumption here.
        You wrote /….that God set up a system where we are all unfairly punished for another man’s sin,…./ No God set up a world that was GOOD so how can you use the word unfairly. The Bible clearly says we are not PUNISHED for another’s sin. Surely you are not saying God is the punisher but if not who is? You later corrected that saying / bearing the consequences of Adam’s iniquity/ I agree with that and that we bear the consequences of others sin.

        You wrote /Yes the flesh is WEAK, the flesh is weak because it’s sinful, / No the Flesh is sinful because it is weak, unable to resist Temptation.- This maybe the key to our disagreement. What do you think?

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  16. The Arminian says, “Arminians affirm both Total Depravity and Total Inability. We affirm not free will but freed will — freed by the Holy Spirit in order to freely respond to the Gospel.”

    Pastor Flowers responds, “The Arminian must establish from scripture that mankind lost their freedom to respond willingly to God Himself. I simply do not feel John 6:44 and 1 Cor. 2:14 meet that burden when understood in the right context.”

    Later Pastor Flowers maintains that man has indeed lost “freedom to respond willingly to God Himself.” Pastor Flowers writes, “Yes, we are enslaved but that is why God sent truth, which may set man free (John 8:32). I see no biblical reason to suggest that God’s inspired truth is insufficient to do just that.” He basically adds that the preaching of the gospel is the means whereby men are freed to respond willingly to God.

    Pastor Flowers says, “…which may set man free…” By saying, “…may…,” Pastor Flowers seems to be telling us that he has not figured out why the preaching of the gospel does not appear to save all who hear it given that it is sufficient to free any person who would then exercise that freedom, quite naturally, to accept salvation.

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    1. Good morning Roger! I wonder if you would address two side issues that I have noticed over the last year in your postings on this site! You rarely address the person directly, even though they are in the “room”, and you almost always keep even repetitious conversations going which makes it seem that you need to have the last word. Both of these issues are not unique to you, but I was wondering what you think about them. Thanks.

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      1. brianwagner writes, “I wonder if you would address two side issues that I have noticed over the last year in your postings on this site! You rarely address the person directly, even though they are in the “room”, and you almost always keep even repetitious conversations going which makes it seem that you need to have the last word. Both of these issues are not unique to you, but I was wondering what you think about them.”

        1. I try to address the substance of a comment without respect to the person making the comment. If you make a comment, I assume that there are 100 others who could make the same comment. So, I write to all 101.

        2. I try to work toward a conclusion where two unique views are possible but not resolvable – like the pronoun in 2 Peter 3:9. That was a nice, clean outcome. It was actually somewhat of an epiphany for me. I like getting to a conclusion like that.

        I like closure and want to come out of a discussion clear of strawmen, false claims, and fluff.

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      2. Thank you Roger for responding to my questions. My personal opinion is that addressing personally the person whose argument you are interacting with will make your argument be more persuasive to all the other 100 listening in!

        And, as you try to work towards two unique possible views for the interpretation of certain verses, and you keep conversations going to do so, what makes you feel they are not resolvable and then you stop? Also, it appears to me that most times you keep conversations going when you do not accept a unique view that counters the presuppositions you have.

        Two such presuppositions are 1. for theological definitions, like the traditional one for omniscience, and 2. for Scriptural hermeneutics, like a loyalty to anthropomorphism when God’s present activity is discussed.

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      3. brianwagner writes, “And, as you try to work towards two unique possible views for the interpretation of certain verses, and you keep conversations going to do so, what makes you feel they are not resolvable and then you stop?”

        If they are resolvable, that will probably happen over time as people consider both views. I don’t think it is likely to happen here. Nonetheless, once both views are identified, there is not a lot more to be said.

        Then, “Also, it appears to me that most times you keep conversations going when you do not accept a unique view that counters the presuppositions you have.”

        A lot of the time, it is me trying to figure out what the other party is saying and how it fits into the whole scheme of theology. To do that, I sometimes find that it helps to get into the minutia even though it can be very tedious.

        Then, “Two such presuppositions are 1. for theological definitions, like the traditional one for omniscience,…”

        Is that a presupposition or is there a traditional definition. I kinda think that there actually is a traditional definition making any deviation from that definition a presupposition.

        Finally, “…and 2. for Scriptural hermeneutics, like a loyalty to anthropomorphism when God’s present activity is discussed.”

        I think people get into trouble with the manner in which the Scriptures describe God’s activity. As an example, let’s take the occasion where the three men tell Abraham of the plans for Sodom, etc. Here, we read:

        Genesis 18
        20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous
        21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

        From this, it would appear that God does not know what it actually happening in Sodom. Does God really have to “go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me”? That would seem to deny God’s omnipresence and His omniscience. However, other Scriptures strongly indicate that God already knows exactly what is happening in Sodom and does not actually have to do a site visit.

        This seems to be an obvious anthropomorphism. If so, then there are anthropomorphisms, and the presupposition, and the need would then be to identify the exceptions to the rule and explain how they are exceptions. Seems the proper approach to me.

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      4. Or, Roger, the Genesis account confirms that changes in the infinite understanding of divine omniscience from things known as possible to things known as settled is the correct definition of divine omniscience based on the presuppostion that God’s Word is perspicuous countering the false traditional definition of immutable omniscience that is based on the the presupposition of man’s unproveable philosophic assumptions.

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      5. Brian continues to spew out his false open theism theology, yet again attacking the truth about omniscience: “countering the false traditional definition of immutable omniscience that is based on the the presupposition of man’s unproveable philosophic assumptions.”

        Brian is relentless is espousing this false open theism theology. As has been pointed out innumerable times, Christians hold to what Wagner calls the “traditional definition” based upon a myriad of scriptures, not PHILOSOPHIC ASSUMPTIONS. I know many, many folks who hold the traditional view and it is not based on their study or even knowledge of philosophy, rather, it is based upon their study and knowledge of scripture. Brian you can keep espousing your nonsense, but you are persuading no one to reject the truth and believe your lies.

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      6. Robert writes, “Brian you can keep espousing your nonsense, but you are persuading no one to reject the truth and believe your lies.”

        Brian has correctly discerned that “free-will theology” does not work if God knows the future perfectly. Unless, you have rejected free-will theology (and bought into Calvinism), you are in denial about the significance of omniscience to a theology of salvation and that omniscience substantiates Calvinism. In other words, you would be espousing a lie also.

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      7. Thanks for the support Roger! 🙂 And I agree wholeheartedly with what you said to Robert, if you would just change one word… “perfectly” to “as settled”. As you know, we not only disagree on how Scripture defines the nature of God’s omniscience, but also how Scripture defines perfection in God’s nature.

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      8. Care to explain why free will theology does not work if
        God knows the future as settled? It seemed to work logically for plenty of theologians down through the ages.
        I can’t see how God’s knowing what I will do makes me any less free to choose between options, if that is what you are saying.

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      9. wildswanderer writes, “Care to explain why free will theology does not work if God knows the future as settled?”

        Free Will Theology opposes Calvinism by saying that Christ died for each and every person and a “well-meant” offer of salvation is made to all. By omniscience, God knows those who will accept salvation and those who will reject salvation when He creates the world. Effectively, Christ dies for those whom God knows will be saved and the offer of salvation is for those that God knows will be saved.

        Thus, the Calvinist asked, For what purpose could Christ die for those that God knew were not to be saved? and What true offer of salvation could be made to those whom God knew were not to be saved? If God is omniscient, then the elect and the reprobate were known to Him when He created the world; Thus, there was the need only to send Christ to die for the elect as no purpose would be served in sending Christ to die for the reprobate. Only by denying God a settled knowledge of the future – specifically knowledge of those who would be saved and those who would be lost could it truly be said that Christ died for each and every person and each and every person had the opportunity to be saved.

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      10. I already have heard your position numerous times. I was asking Brian to explain his. By pre- dividing people into the categories of reprobate and elect, you totally miss the point.

        “SF adherents hold that at some point God made a decision to create the world. Again, this can be understood as a logical order, not a temporal one. Prior to God’s decision to make the world, there was nothing for him to know about what humanity would or wouldn’t do. He hadn’t decided to create us. We were non-existent. After deciding to create the world, then God knew everything that would happen – sin, some people believing in him, others rejecting him. But at that point our world was actualized, God knew what we would do because we would eventually do it. At that moment God also knew what he would do about sin and how he would redeem humanity – by sending Jesus: God himself in the flesh. After deciding to create humanity in his image, and granting us the ability to make decisions, and granting us a privileged position, God couldn’t take back his choice to create. He couldn’t make us cease to exist, without doing violence to his character and to his creation.”
        https://wesleyanarminian.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/an-explanation-of-simple-foreknowledge/

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      11. Hi WW… forgot your first name also. Sorry! Also sorry that I did not respond to your question, thinking it was for Roger and not for me.

        But the short answer is knowledge of the future does not come to God as if He were an observer of someone’s else’s creation, it comes from God. And if God’s omniscience of the future is immutable (Calvinist/Arminian view) then that future will happen exactly as God knew/knows it would from all eternity. If the future is settled, God has no actual freewill to change it, nor does man, or else His omniscience of it would change and would have been faulty before. Putting God in different non-sequential reality (Calvinist/Arminian) makes the Law of Non-contradiction invalid, for the Scripture says God is from everlasting to everlasting, who was and is and is to come, which a normal understanding would say proves God’s eternality is linear and sequential.

        To say God knows a freewill choice as settled before that freewill is even created and given a chance to exercise itself on a decision equivocates the normal meaning of freewill. God does know all the possible choices and outcomes available to that freewill, but because of randomness (like flipping a coin), the actual choice as being settled can not be known, unless He predetermines it. Again, the settled knowledge of that event can not come to God from an outside source, for it would have to include all His intimate interaction with that event. There is no future for God to foresee that does not include all His choices either determined or still possible.

        Of course, God can and has predetermined some future events and thus He comes to know those as settled after He predetermines them. And He knows (understands) perfectly all of His still possible choices and man’s possible choices and all the possible outcomes that He can freely cause or permit. And that is how His omniscience of the future should be defined, for that is how He created/planned the future to be as revealed in His Word.

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      12. “If the future is settled, God has no actual freewill to change it, nor does man, or else His omniscience of it would change and would have been faulty before.”

        Among the problems I have with the idea that God knowing the future somehow negates freewill, is this kind of either/or scenario you are creating. I don’t know that I can fully explain, but when you suppose that God sees everything in a linear fashion, you are just putting God in a box, IMO. Just because God knows every action he will take does not somehow make my actions less meaningful, or negate causation from my actions. God, if understood as timeless in the classic sense, is freely acting in the moment, while men are also freely acting in the moment, but God is simultaneously seeing both past and future, not in some linear fashion, but from His position, above and beyond time. It helps me to see it as the Holy Spirit acting from inside time while God the father observes and instructs from outside of time, but that’s just to keep it straight in my little mind, I’m not saying there is any such real division in the Godhead.

        I’m not hostile to Open Theism, but at this point in time (lol) it doesn’t work for me logically, knowing that time is relative and God is not bound by his creation. There is more to be said, but later….

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      13. Two things WW. 1. “It doesn’t work for me logically”. What logical fallacy have I committed? You did not answer the logical fallacy that I presented – Denial of the Law of Non-Contradiction to have God’s reality being both sequential and non-sequential at the same time. 2. You also described God’s reality where the future and the past are still existence eternally… with the past still happening and the future already happening. Where is that in the Bible? In my opinion, you are making an attempt to maintain non-biblical philosophic notions about the character of God, and thus, the law of non-contradiction must be jettisoned.

        The Bible does not teach God is non-sequential or “outside/above” time, whatever that means. Though He has no beginning, and He does not measure it like we do, using creation, the experience of His eternity is still before/after and from/to… from everlasting to everlasting… who was and is and is to come! Yes, that is linear, and that is the normal reading of Scriptures. Should we twist Scriptures away from their normal meaning to satisfy the philosophers’ educated guesses based on general revelation alone? Should we believe in contradictions?

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      14. “It doesn’t work for me logically”. What logical fallacy have I committed?”
        Ok, like I said, I’m not sure I can fully explain why it doesn’t work for me logically, and I’ll admit…it has more to do with my understanding of time then my understanding of scripture, although there are certain scriptures such as Jesus getting very specific about Peter’s denial, that make one wonder how God could not know the future as it is. I also dislike the word “settled” because the future from our perspective is always uncertain and although I believe the future is known in God’s mind, it is known as actions and interactions with free creatures, not in some deterministic sense.
        It seems to me that OT runs into the same problem as Calvinism here, by seeing God’s Omniscience as dependent on his decree. I mean, big deal, he can know the future that he pre-sets. I can do that, how is that an attribute? If I decide what I want to eat for breakfast for the next week and I don’t allow anyone to fix me anything but I want, I have just pre-determined breakfast and I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt what I will eat. But, if I let me wife decide to fix all kinds of bizarre concoctions for breakfast and yet, I somehow tell her beforehand what she will choose each day, then, that would be miraculous foreknowledge! Is God’s omniscience dependent on his power?
        Now, I know, “eternal” does not have to mean non-sequential, but God created time. Time is relative to gravity. How in the universe can God be said to experience time as we do when he dwells everywhere in the universe? (multiverse?) In one place in the universe, it’s long ago and in another it’s the future, from our perspective. Maybe God is not outside time in the sense that some theologians have imagined it, but He certainly can’t be on earth time! But, the outside of time view makes sense, because I can’t see how God can create something and then be bound by it. He can enter it as one person of the Godhead, but it can’t hold him, IMO.
        I’ll be the first to admit there is mystery in SF. But, any system that doesn’t contain mystery can hardly be big enough, for a God you can understand completely can’t be God at all…

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      15. Wildswanderer,

        I do not want to get into it with what Wagner says as he has his own terminology and he holds to an aberrant view rejected by virtually every believer in every Christian tradition. I don’t like engaging in word games as he does. But I do want to comment on a couple things that you have said here.

        “I also dislike the word “settled” because the future from our perspective is always uncertain and although I believe the future is known in God’s mind, it is known as actions and interactions with free creatures, not in some deterministic sense.”

        Exactly, “settled” sounds like no choice is involved. But if we are choosing freely we will have a choice (between at least two different possibilities) and then make a choice (we will choose one possibility making it the actual choice and not choosing the other possibility). God knowing both the possibilities we will have and the actual choice we will make would mean that He is actually omniscient. No need to play word games or invent a terminology. We need only say that from our perspective we do not know the future or what choices we will end up making.

        But God does not operate from our perspective, if He did he would just be a bigger version of us. That is a major problem with the open theism that Wagner espouses. Get behind the jargon and the terminology and you find a god that is just a bigger verson of ourselves. Like us He operates in time just like we do, like us, He does not know what is coming and must wait to see what we will choose to do or not do. This god who is just a bigger version of us is not the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible is not just a bigger version of us, He is transcendent, above and beyond time as He created the entire universe and time.

        “It seems to me that OT runs into the same problem as Calvinism here, by seeing God’s Omniscience as dependent on his decree. I mean, big deal, he can know the future that he pre-sets. I can do that, how is that an attribute?”

        That is another thing you will note about Wagner’s position, just like the Calvinist, his god cannot know the future unless he decrees it and forces it to occur as decreed. This again does not fit the Bible where you have God knowing things before they occur, things he did not decree (e.g. knowing Judas’ denial before it occurs, not forcing Judas to do it, but nevertheless knowing that Judas is going to freely choose to do it).

        “If I decide what I want to eat for breakfast for the next week and I don’t allow anyone to fix me anything but I want, I have just pre-determined breakfast and I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt what I will eat. But, if I let me wife decide to fix all kinds of bizarre concoctions for breakfast and yet, I somehow tell her beforehand what she will choose each day, then, that would be miraculous foreknowledge! Is God’s omniscience dependent on his power?”

        That is a folksy analogy but it makes a good point. Is our world, and specifically the world of human persons more like the first you at breakfast where everything is decided beforehand or like the second you at breakfast where other people’s choices intrude upon our experience?

        “Now, I know, “eternal” does not have to mean non-sequential, but God created time. Time is relative to gravity. How in the universe can God be said to experience time as we do when he dwells everywhere in the universe? (multiverse?)”

        This is again where Wagner presents an error. Wagner will acknowledge that God is the creator of the universe, but apparently Wagner does not understand what this entails. As my physicist friends and others who are into science tell me, and I believe they are correct: God created the universe so He created this experience of time that we experience. But by definition if He created this, as creator He is beyond this reality that He creates. Scientifically informed people view our experience of time as being directly connected to the physical universe the universe that God created. As creator of it, He is beyond it. For Wagner or others to speak as if God is in time just like us is again to make Him into just a bigger version of us. Examine open theist literature and you will find a loss of transcendence. God experiences time just like we do and so dos not know the future just as we do not, according to open theists. But non-open theists have recognized even before the findings of science that God as creator must transcends his creation. He is not in time just like us nor is He just a bigger version of us. God is not a bigger version of us He is a different entity than us.

        “In one place in the universe, it’s long ago and in another it’s the future, from our perspective. Maybe God is not outside time in the sense that some theologians have imagined it, but He certainly can’t be on earth time!”

        Exactly, again as Creator by definition He transcends what He has created.

        “But, the outside of time view makes sense, because I can’t see how God can create something and then be bound by it. He can enter it as one person of the Godhead, but it can’t hold him, IMO.”

        I know of one scientist who presents it as we are in certain dimensions, say three. But God is not only in those three dimensions He is into fifteen or more different dimensions. As a three dimensional figure is more complex and of a higher order, imagine a fifteen dimensional figure compared to a three dimensional figure!

        “I’ll be the first to admit there is mystery in SF. But, any system that doesn’t contain mystery can hardly be big enough, for a God you can understand completely can’t be God at all…”

        Amen brother, and a god who is just a bigger version of yourself is not the God of the Bible!!!

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      16. Hi WW. You asked – “Is God’s omniscience dependent on his power?” I would say that is the best way to look at it. If He predetermines something, only He can guarantee it will happen. What you have predetermined for breakfast is still subject to God’s permissive will… a car accident and coma (God forbid) before then, and your breakfast plans are changed against your will.

        If you do not like the word “settled” then you may actually be more in line with open theism. You said that to God the future “is known as actions and interactions with free creatures, not in some deterministic sense.” If He knows some of them as still open possibilities for His and man’s free will interactions and therefore unknown as to one sure choice and the rest as counterfactuals, then you agree with me. But to say there are true possibilities known by God and there is also known by Him which one will happen is against the law of non-contradiction for it is truly saying a number of possibilities but no possibility since there exists a settled certainty.

        Yes God predetermined, but not before creation, that Peter would be tempted by Satan to deny the Lord, and He predetermined to permit it, to manipulate it, and to limit it to three denials before the rooster would crow. He also prevented Peter’s faith from failing, in answer to Christ’s prayer for him.

        What we see in the universe does not prove the past still exists… it just exists in our observations of the past light that has reached us, though I believe there is an appearance of age that we see and not the real age, since the Scriptures normally read point to a young earth. But the size depicted by what we see is real and beyond can only be the presence of God (in inapproachable light), in my view. Accepting these understandings, including the eternal sequential reality for God agrees with Scriptures but does not leave us without any “mystery” to keep us busy! Mystery can be incomprehensible, but it must not be contradictory!

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      17. “Is God’s omniscience dependent on his power?” I would say that is the best way to look at it.”

        My understanding that any one of God’s attributes stands alone and is not dependent on the others. It would seem to having to pre-determine in order to know, would limit God’s omniscience, and God’s attributes are by definition limitless.

        “He knows some of them as still open possibilities for His and man’s free will interactions and therefore unknown as to one sure choice and the rest as counterfactuals, then you agree with me.”
        I’ve read several books by open theists, so I don’t have a problem understanding what you’re saying, it just doesn’t seem that knowing all possibilities can actually be omniscience. Again, I’m not as dead set against open theism as some, but the more I have looked into it, the more it becomes implausible in light of how God has designed the universe. Quantum physics is baffling, in that time there does not seem to be linear, for example.

        “But to say there are true possibilities known by God and there is also known by Him which one will happen is against the law of non-contradiction for it is truly saying a number of possibilities but no possibility since there exists a settled certainty.”

        Again, I get what you are saying, I just think you are looking at it backwards. I’m saying all the possibilities exist in real time, and yet, God knows which one will be, or rather, which one is. I’m saying I don’t type this sentence because God determined that I would or because God foreknew I would. I’m free to type it or not, but God knows which I will do, because He foresaw it after deciding to create, but before He put time into motion. Yes, there is a linear sequence in that once, there was only God and at some point in time, space, or where ever you want to put the sign post, He put all the building blocks of creation into motion. And maybe He even decided to create and then saw all possible world and picked the best of the lot, but in either case, I see no problem with free will still existing, within the limits of the created universe, of course. It seems to me that OT actually negates quite a lot of the free will that traditional arminianism allows that men have.
        “But the size depicted by what we see is real and beyond can only be the presence of God (in inapproachable light), in my view.”

        That may well be so, but obviously that unapproachable light is not bound within the universe, so it is not bound by any of the laws of the universe, such as time.
        Again, although I agree with a lot of what Robert said above, I don’t see Open Theist as reducing God to where He has no transcendence. I believe Greg Boyd, for example, is really trying to understand certain scriptures the way they naturally read, but that the OT interpretations often cause more problems then they solve.
        Thanks for the explanations!

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      18. Brian, you said: “Yes God predetermined, but not before creation, that Peter would be tempted by Satan to deny the Lord, and He predetermined to permit it, to manipulate it, and to limit it to three denials before the rooster would crow. He also prevented Peter’s faith from failing, in answer to Christ’s prayer for him.”

        This is an interesting statement as this sounds really close to Calvinistic theistic meticulous determinisn. The natural reading of this statement appears to state that God predetermined the CIRCUMSTANCES and LIMITATIONS of Peter’s life.

        But the logical questions arises: How much predetermining are we talking about here?

        1. Is God just determing Peters circumstances? Or

        2. Were any of these players free to act? (in the contra-casual sense) Peter, the devil, and Jesus.

        Brian, Im not sure where u stand in regards to Gods sovereignty, but it sounds similar to absolute meticulous control of the universe.

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      19. Thanks S for seeking clarification. According to Scripture God does purpose and plan some things, but no verse says He has meticulously determined and thus meticulously controls everything. According to Scripture God permits some things, and gives such universalistic invitations, warnings, and conditional statements about the future that many things are therefore not yet determined and therefore those things can not be known as completed but only as the possibilities that they truly are.

        God does have meticulous observation of everything that is happening. And He has meticulous understanding of all possibilities that still exist for which He has not determined an outcome. But He does not use meticulous control of every action by man, though He does for some things. We only know what meticulous things He controls by His revelation in Scripture of those meticulous details that He says will happen, which His omnipotence and truthfulness thus guarantee will happen. We should not, as the Calvinist does, then extrapolate from there that God then uses meticulous control from everything, based upon a predetermination of everything before creation. That view undermines the normal reading of Scripture as I outlined in the paragraph above.

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      20. brianwagner writes, “According to Scripture God permits some things, and gives such universalistic invitations, warnings, and conditional statements about the future that many things are therefore not yet determined and therefore those things can not be known as completed but only as the possibilities that they truly are.”

        As you allow for God to determine events in the future, it seems to me that you have to allow for some determination of events leading up to that major event. For example, Daniel 9 is seen as giving a timetable to the coming of Christ. That timetable necessitates certain events occurring consistent with that timetable (e.g., Israel must be a nation with the temple rebuilt), thereby determined – at least by heavy involvement of God is events leading up to the major event. That would appear to limit the non-determined events to the inconsequential.

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      21. Hi Roger! Yes, Scriptures like Daniel 9 and especially Daniel 11, as well as any unconditional prophecy indicates that God does predetermine many things. God’s “heavy involvement” as you call it, is the key! But that involvement does not make non-determined events inconsequential, especially when each person’s free will response to God’s inviting/enabling grace is that non-determined event!

        Sequential (before and after) thinking (determining) and sequential (before and after) interaction (giving and receiving) are logically necessary for relationships to function within the pluralistic/unified Godhead.

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      22. brianwagner writes, “…each person’s free will response to God’s inviting/enabling grace is that non-determined event!”

        If we accept the idea that the person is dead in sin and must first be enabled and then that the Holy Spirit must convict of sin plus some other things, certainly God has such an involvement in the salvation of a person that it could be determined. If “You are saved by grace,” is a concise description of salvation, then salvation would be determined.

        Then, “Sequential (before and after) thinking (determining) and sequential (before and after) interaction (giving and receiving) are logically necessary for relationships to function within the pluralistic/unified Godhead.”

        Certainly in the sanctification process but even here “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” Does it apply to salvation – perhaps but is the outcome ever in doubt as “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”?

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      23. I thought, Roger, that we had discussed the meaning of “dead” before, and that it means in Scripture separation/under wrath, not total inability of the spirit to function with some freedom, especially to respond positively/humbly to God’s enabling grace to seek to understand it and trust it, though not enabled irresistibly. There is, of course, total inability to please God, as a child can, until after regeneration, and even then there remains for the child of God a total inability to ever earn righteousness from God.

        We are saved by grace, and God does determine, according to His plan, that when He sees His drawing grace freely accepted synergistically, He determines at that moment to monergistically 🙂 give the new birth.

        And He continues His synergistic interaction with those who are now His children, but monergistically keeps them from ever losing faith. So yes, after regeneration, there is an irresistible element to sanctification, and that element will even be heightened further after resurrection, in my view of Scriptures.

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      24. brianwagner writes, “…the meaning of “dead” before, and that it means in Scripture separation/under wrath, not total inability of the spirit to function with some freedom, especially to respond positively/humbly to God’s enabling grace to seek to understand it and trust it, though not enabled irresistibly.”

        Oh Brian!!! Do you see what you have written? You write, “…not total inability of the spirit…” and then “…respond positively/humbly to God’s enabling grace…” Without “enabling grace” would you not have “total inability”? If you really meant to say that death is just separation from God and not total inability of the spirit, then a person’s ability to respond is not to be conditioned on enabling grace but on the hearing of the word (unless you mean enabling grace to effect the preaching of the gospel and factors unrelated to any change in ability of the spirit other the through the preaching of the gospel – the point that Pastor Flowers presses).

        So, I agree that “dead” means separation/under wrath. The confusion is your use of the term “enabling grace” and if you mean it to have anything to do with any “ability” of the spirit.

        Then, “We are saved by grace, and God does determine, according to His plan, that when He sees His drawing grace freely accepted synergistically, He determines at that moment to monergistically 🙂 give the new birth.”

        We agree that God does respond when He sees His drawing grace accepted. The acceptance of God’s grace is evidence that it was extended in the first place. Can we say that the person who does not accept God’s grace was ever extended that grace in the first place? There is no way to know as the Scriptures only speak to those who accept that grace. You may speculate that God extends grace to the reprobate, but you have no way to prove it definitively from the Scripture.

        Of course, whether the new birth precedes one’s acceptance of God’s grace or follows is debated. From John 3, we see that the new birth is the work of the Spirit of God and independent of any action by the person – not necessarily in response to any action of the person.

        Then, “And He continues His synergistic interaction with those who are now His children, but monergistically keeps them from ever losing faith. So yes, after regeneration, there is an irresistible element to sanctification, and that element will even be heightened further after resurrection, in my view of Scriptures.”

        I agree; you could be a Calvinist one day.

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      25. Roger – Others will have to decide if you are obfuscating the clear biblical evidence by your obviously false statement, in my view, when you said – “You may speculate that God extends grace to the reprobate, but you have no way to prove it definitively from the Scripture.”

        Acts 17:26-27 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, 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;

        1John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

        Rom 11:32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

        2Pet 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, [and] bring on themselves swift destruction.

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      26. Rhutchin quoted me and then wrote:

        [[Robert writes, “Brian you can keep espousing your nonsense, but you are persuading no one to reject the truth and believe your lies.”
        Brian has correctly discerned that “free-will theology” does not work if God knows the future perfectly.}}

        No Brian has not correctly discerned that free will theology does not work if God is perfectly omniscient.

        Brian ******is******* an open theist and he denies that free will and omniscience are compatible.

        So he redefines omniscience and attacks what the vast majority of believers across all Christian traditions believe regarding God knowing all things (all possibilities, all actualities, every past, present or future event without exception).

        Calvinists, ****just as open theists do****, also deny that free will and omniscience are compatible.

        SO IT SHOULD BE ABSOLUTELY NO SURPRISE THAT AN OPEN THEIST (BRIAN WAGNER) AND A CALVINIST (RHUTCHIN) AGREE THAT FREE WILL THEOLOGY SUPPOSEDLY DOES NOT WORK IF GOD IS OMNISCIENT.

        The claim that free will is incompatible with omniscience is a belief held by *****BOTH***** open theists and Calvinists.

        And it should be kept in mind that BOTH of these false theologies in terms of what Christians believe are MINORITY positions.

        Just because rhutchin and Brian agree on this, does not make it true, in fact considering they both make ***exactly the same error***, suggests only that they are open theists and Calvinists. Nothing more or less.

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      27. Robert writes, “No Brian has not correctly discerned that free will theology does not work if God is perfectly omniscient.

        Brian ******is******* an open theist and he denies that free will and omniscience are compatible.”

        I don’t think Brian denies free will. I think he is leaning Open Theist (there are differences in what he says and what Open Theism says) in denying that the future is settled, and I think he does this in order to provide a means for free will to work.

        Then, “Calvinists, ****just as open theists do****, also deny that free will and omniscience are compatible.”

        Calvinists claim that free will and omniscience are compatible – omniscience does not cause a person to make the decisions that are certain with omniscience.

        Then, “SO IT SHOULD BE ABSOLUTELY NO SURPRISE THAT AN OPEN THEIST (BRIAN WAGNER) AND A CALVINIST (RHUTCHIN) AGREE THAT FREE WILL THEOLOGY SUPPOSEDLY DOES NOT WORK IF GOD IS OMNISCIENT.”

        Free Will Theology which maintains that God sincerely desires and wills for each and every person to be saved through a free will decision does not work because God, through omniscience, already knows who will decide to be saved and who will not – God does not will the salvation of those whom He already knows will reject the gospel.

        Then, “The claim that free will is incompatible with omniscience is a belief held by *****BOTH***** open theists and Calvinists.”

        Open Theists and Calvinists claim that free will is compatible with omniscience (as each defines it); they claim that Free Will Theology is not compatible with omniscience.

        Then, “And it should be kept in mind that BOTH of these false theologies in terms of what Christians believe are MINORITY positions.”

        Calvinism, while it may be a minority position, is consistent with the Scriptures. Brian would make the same claim for his view.

        Finally, “Just because rhutchin and Brian agree on this, does not make it true, in fact considering they both make ***exactly the same error***, suggests only that they are open theists and Calvinists. Nothing more or less.”

        Brian leans Open Theist, but he is not Calvinist (from what I read). I lean Calvinist, but I am not Open Theist or close.

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      28. Hi Robert – Your use of exaggeration is curious – “relentless…. innumerable…. many, many…. no one.” You may need to relax a little, my friend. Most people who interact on this site are able to reasonably judge who is interacting logically with Scriptural evidence. They can also figure out who is ignoring or twisting Scriptures to maintain their loyalty a theological view that has an underlying philosophic presupposition.

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      29. Brian Wagner the open theist writes:

        “Hi Robert – Your use of exaggeration is curious – “relentless…. innumerable…. many, many…. no one.””

        It is no exaggeration, you repeatedly, over and over and over espouse your false theology of open theism here. You seem to bring it up whenever you can. Someone who does this over and over and over ****is**** relentless. And as it happens on every thread you write in and you write in a lot of threads here, it is ****innumerable****.

        And in all your attempts at attacking the truth on omniscience I have not yet seen anyone reject the truth in favor of your error. That is just a fact that you don’t want to recognize.

        “Most people who interact on this site are able to reasonably judge who is interacting logically with Scriptural evidence.”

        True, which is precisely why no one is buying your open theism and false theology.

        The only regular poster who agrees with you that free will and omniscience are incompatible is rhutchin, and he is, well, he is rhutchin, that is all that needs to be said.

        From reading various posts it is rather clear that in regards to regular posters, you are the only open theist posting. Occasionally another open theist wanders in and posts, but they don’t stay very long. You on the other hand, keep espousing your nonsense and false theology over and over and over again.

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      30. We could say that several people are relentless in their beliefs; of course if a person were not relentless for the gospel, he would not be saved. Look how Paul reacts to fuzzy thinking on the gospel in Galatians.

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      31. brianwagner writes, “…the Genesis account confirms that …”

        Don’t you need to add that it confirms that God is not omnipresent?

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      32. Roger, God’s omnipresence is like His omniscience. It must be defined by Scriptures. He has infinite understanding of all that has existed, exists and can possibly exist or has been already determined to exist. But changes in His thinking from things undetermined to determined exist/happen within His infinite understanding.

        He is everywhere present by His Spirit in whatever presently exists. He is not present in the past, for it no longer exists. He is not present in the future, for the future does not yet exist. And He is able to change, add if you will, aspects of His presence (like theophanies and incarnation) to His omnipresence to influence, relate to, and experience (come to “know” in that sense) the free-will choices and possibilities that still exist for man and Himself.

        Hope that helps answer your question!

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      33. brianwagner writes, “changes in His thinking from things undetermined to determined exist/happen within His infinite understanding.”

        I think you need to have God’s infinite understanding subordinate to changes in His thinking – as God’s thinking changes resulting from things undetermined to determined, God’s understanding also changes to reflect the changes in His thinking. If God’s thinking is subordinate to His understanding (as I read your comment), then His thinking is ruled by His understanding and changes from undetermined to determined would not change His thinking as those changes would not change His understanding (if God’s understanding could change, then it could not be described as infinite).

        Then, “He is everywhere present by His Spirit in whatever presently exists. He is not present in the past, for it no longer exists. He is not present in the future, for the future does not yet exist.”

        Whether God is present in the past and future as He is in the present is an interesting issue. I am not sure the Scriptures really settle that point. I don’t see God bound by the laws of physics that rule in this universe since God is present both inside and outside the universe. Given that it is the laws of physics which supposedly prohibit time travel, God would not be so bound.

        Nonetheless, Genesis 18, refers to God’s presence in the present. God is present with Abraham and in Sodom at the same time. Thus, when God says, “…I will go down and see if what they have done…” we should not think that God needs to go down to actually see what is being done (or has been done) – God already knows it. The wording may suggest that God is affirming the wickedness of Sodom – putting them on trial – subject to His judgment of that wickedness and subsequent destruction. Here God relates to Abraham on Abraham’s level as you explain, “He is able to change, add if you will, aspects of His presence (like theophanies and incarnation) to His omnipresence to influence, relate to, and experience (come to “know” in that sense) the free-will choices and possibilities that still exist for man and Himself.” I think a similar argument could be made regarding language that people might think suggests that God is not omniscient.

        So yes, your comments helped as far as they went.

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Hello Brian, You have asked some interesting questions but I don’t think they are germain to my understanding of sin nature which I reject. I believe man is more aptly described as weak. Sin is in the world and it is alluring to mankind. Because man in the flesh is weak, He can not continually overcome the force of temptation. Death has spread LIKE a disease through mankind as each man sins – just a simile here and shouldn’t be pushed beyond this.

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    1. So how do you understand the word “nature” in Eph 2:3? I thought my discussion was very germane (going to the “nature” of the subject being discussed)! lol…. 🙂

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      1. Brian,
        That’s a good question. Lets look at the passage containing the verse to understand what Paul meant: Ephesians 2:1-3 (HCSB)
        1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler who exercises authority over the lower heavens, the spirit now working in the disobedient. 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.
        I think Paul is describing the condition of the unbeliever and the way they were living prior to being born again. They were dead – separated from God by the sinful life they were living. They were subject to the authority – power- of Satan. I believe this descrbes the weak state of the flesh. They were by nature – ie born – subject to the wrath of God. …. The Good News that Paul goes on to say is that you were given a new life. Elsewhere we are told that this new life is accompanied by the Holy Spirit – Jesus called Him a helper.

        So I guess the short answer is “by nature” means born. We are born weak unable to resist Satan’s power of temptation.

        I do not know Greek so I looked up the definition of φύσις : physis
        BDAG gives this: condition or circumstance as determined by birth, natural endowment/condition, nature, esp. as inherited fr. one’s ancestors, in contrast to status or characteristics that are acquired after birth

        I don’t think that contradicts my understanding

        Maybe, as you say, it is more a difference of semantics however as I understand ” sin nature” , it is a difference of active vesus passive. I think man sins because he has a weak nature unable to resist temptations not that he has some proclivity or propensity … I don’t know which word you would use, perhaps neither of these.

        “Sin nature” is one of those terms that people often use without a clear understanding of what it means – I AM NOT ACCUSING YOU OF THAT. I certainly do not know what it means but I don’t think it agrees with scripture when others define it. Jesus used the term weak. For me that describes the nature of man described in the NT. So for me, I think man has a weak nature rather than a sin nature.

        I have tried to argue against sin nature on the grounds that I don’t think God would create man with a propensity to sin and was promptly taught that was not what was taught, “It” is just inherited from Adam. The problem, as I see it, is who did Adam inherit it from. I don’t have a problem with God creating man weak, since we were always created to rely on His strength.

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      2. Hi Ernest! I am trying to figure out why you are parsing this issue the way you are. I hear you say man’s nature from Adam is “weak”. Would you say that left to itself from birth, that nature when confronted by God’s law, it would be so weak that it would necessarily sin without any intervention of God’s grace?

        I am thinking you did not look up the other two verses I listed before. They say that this is exactly what happens at the age of accountability. Here they are written out –
        Rom 7:9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
        Rom 11:32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

        I see Paul saying that “sin came alive”, for it was dormant in our soul until the age of accountability. Sin’s presence from Adam is what I would call a propensity or proclivity, and I think you are calling it just a weakness. Did Adam have that “weakness” from his creation or was that “weakness” caused by his sin, changing his nature and then passed on to his offspring?

        I think you said you agree that Eph 2:3 is about getting a nature from birth that was subject to the wrath of God. Why is a soul subject to His wrath from birth if it is just weak unless that weakness includes a proclivity for sin that can not be remedied except by redemption and resurrection?

        I also believe that Paul indicates that this proclivity still dwells in his flesh (Rom 7:20). The word “sin” when used in the subject position in a sentence is part of who we are in our flesh until our resurrection removes it from our body.

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      3. Brian, You asked /Would you say that left to itself from birth, that nature when confronted by God’s law, it would be so weak that it would necessarily sin without any intervention of God’s grace?/ Yes, I think I have already said that because man is weak, he is unable to resist the temptations of the world and he will sin. Maybe where we differ is I see the cause (instigator ?) of sin is temptation. For me it is the means Satan uses to cause men to sin. I think you are saying the cause (instigator?) lies within the man – his “sin nature” . Maybe our disagreement lies in how we answer the question – What causes man to sin?
        Sorry for not responding to your other 2 verses. I did not understand what you were asking.
        Romans 7 – I don’t think Paul is referring to an age of accountability. He is writing about when when Israel was given the Law they did the same thing Adam did, they disobeyed. This is not just a treatise on his life but on Israel as well. When he says “I” , he is telling the story of both.
        Romans 11:32 Again not about age of accountability. Leighton has addressed this passage in previous posts and I agree. Its about God temporarily hardening the Jews in order that the Gentiles might be saved. – Was this a typo and you posted the wrong verse?

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      4. No typo, Ernest. Both verses are dealing with individuals. Rom 7:9 is Paul as an individual “alive” and then he “died”. That must be speaking about his spiritual life and death. Rom 11:32 is also talking about everyone being committed to disobedience, not just Israel, which is also spiritual death of every individual.

        You also did not answer my two other questions – 1. Did Adam have that “weakness” from his creation or was that “weakness” caused by his sin, changing his nature and then passed on to his offspring? 2. Why is a soul subject to His wrath from birth if it is just weak unless that weakness includes a proclivity for sin that can not be remedied except by redemption and resurrection?

        And you did not address Paul talking about “sin” still in his flesh in Rom 7:20, which I mentioned.

        You mentioned temptation from without being the cause of sin… but James said temptation starts within – Jas 1:14 “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” The outward enticement comes after the inward desire. Paul talked about being confronted by the law and sin reviving. The law is certainly not a sinful temptation, but it did provide the human nature an opportunity to be tempted and for sin that dwells within that nature to revive.

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      5. Brian,
        / 1. Did Adam have that “weakness” from his creation or was that “weakness” caused by his sin, changing his nature and then passed on to his offspring? 2. Why is a soul subject to His wrath from birth if it is just weak unless that weakness includes a proclivity for sin that can not be remedied except by redemption and resurrection?
        /
        1.Yes I do believe that weakness existed in Adam before he sinned and it was passed on to his posterity. God created him that way. I believe it was God’s desire that Adam would rely on Him.
        2.Why is a soul subject to His wrath if it just has a proclivity to sin? In both cases the wrath comes because all souls sin.

        /The outward enticement comes after the inward desire./ You seem to believe that the desire is sinful. I don’t think this true. The inward desire is acted upon by the power of temptation and sin occurs when we submit to the temptation. We can desire food and be tempted to steal a loaf of bread to satisfy that desire by stealing or even lusting. In both cases I believe temptation is the “culprit”. Jesus warned us of temptation not desire. I think this is consistent with what James said.

        /And you did not address Paul talking about “sin” still in his flesh in Rom 7:20, which I mentioned./
        I think you have to look at more than just vs 20:
        .Romans 7:13-22 (HCSB)
        13 Therefore, did what is good cause my death? Absolutely not! On the contrary, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. 21 So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. 22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law.

        Paul seems to be personifying sin using terms like sin living in me. But notice he is speaking of sin not sin nature.
        ” 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. ” That would be a strange comment if he meant his sin nature. – if it is his nature how is that not him?

        /Paul talked about being confronted by the law and sin reviving./ again its sin not sin nature He also said Romans 5:13 (HCSB)
        13 In fact, sin was in the world before the law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no law.
        Sin was revived when Israel was given the law as I stated earlier.

        I agree with Peter, sometimes Paul is hard to understand.

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      6. Good morning Ernest! I appreciate that directly addressed by questions. I hope you do not mind if I continue this conversation, for your reply as caused some more questions.

        But first let me answer your questions –

        you asked – “Why is a soul subject to His wrath if it just has a proclivity to sin?”
        The short answer is that our flesh with such a proclivity cannot inherit heaven but must be changed by resurrection or stay under that wrath and end up in hell.

        you asked – “‘So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me.’ That would be a strange comment if he meant his sin nature. – if it is his nature how is that not him?”
        I must yield the members of my body to the flesh/sin that still dwells within them. The flesh/sin causes the act of sin, but I am responsible for the yielding, which enabled that act to happen.

        Here are my questions –

        1. Are you comfortable with God calling Adam’s creation “very good” even though he had a nature with the “weakness” you describe, that to me sounds like a proneness to sin?

        2. Don’t you agree that Adam’s “weakness”, as you put it, changed when he sinned and “sin” began to dwell in his members? Didn’t he pass that change unto his children, or do you think sin comes to dwell at the first yielding to temptation? Paul says that “sin” entered the world by Adam (Rom 5:12). How do you understand that “entered”?

        3. I don’t believe desire is sinful, but it is sin prone. Sorry if I gave that impression. I was just showing from James that the “sin” that is a part of our nature (either from birth or after our first sin) is why we are “drawn away” by our own desires towards an act of sin. Paul said this happens when God’s command is presented to us, don’t you agree?

        4. Though Paul has said some hard things, it is obvious in Rom 7 that he is connecting what “evil” HE does with the sin dwelling in him. Is it him or is it sin? He is responsible for what the sin does in him and through him, wouldn’t you agree? So it appears to me, that just like as believers we are now partakers of the divine nature (2Pet 1:4), and we are responsible for what that nature does in and through us, we also still have the nature of sin in our flesh.

        I still think this discussion is one of semantics. To me the indwelling Spirit and indwelling sin proclivity are so much a part of me that I can rightly say they are part of my nature… and they have their own individual natures as well.

        You are correct that the Scripture does not use the word “nature” to form the phrase “sin nature”, but it does use the words “sin” and “flesh” as subjects of a significant number of sentences, showing they can produce actions, have power, that is, have a nature and can be said to be a part of our overall nature. How do you understand Paul’s clear statement – “I am carnal” (Rom 7:14)?

        But perhaps a more basic question… are you willing to change a position you hold strongly in light of Scriptural evidence? I hope that I am. If you have Scriptures that clearly support your view, I will happily consider them.

        Like

    2. Ernest, you write ” The Bible clearly says we are not PUNISHED for another’s sin. Surely you are not saying God is the punisher but if not who is?”

      Actually that’s not true. The Bible does not say “You are never punished for another’s sin” it says you won’t “bear their iniquity,” those are two different concepts, and this is in Eze. 18.

      Number 14:18 says:
      but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.

      No it says “visiting,” this is not the same as “bearing,” perhaps. The pain and falleness of this world is God “visiting” the iniquity of Adam on us, but not us “bearing” Adam’s iniquity, would be us all going to hell, not just having a sin nature.

      Like

      1. Dizerner,

        Here is how my Bible translates it : Ezekiel 18:18-20 (HCSB)
        18 “As for his father, he will die for his own iniquity because he practiced fraud, robbed ⌊his⌋ brother, and did what was wrong among his people. 19 But you may ask, ‘Why doesn’t the son suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ Since the son has done what is just and right, carefully observing all My statutes, he will certainly live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.

        It seems the translators thought the Hebrew meant suffer punishment. I can’t read Hebrew so I will have to accept that translation unless you can offer a reason that they are wrong. In my mind to suffer punishment means the same thing as to be punished.

        We have the same thing in Numbers:
        Numbers 14:17-18 (HCSB)
        17 “So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as You have spoken: 18 The LORD is slow to anger and rich in faithful love, forgiving wrongdoing and rebellion. But He will not leave ⌊the guilty⌋ unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ wrongdoing on the children to the third and fourth generation.

        Like

      2. eze 18 is talking about the afterlife, not punishment in this world. life and death used that way are talking about spiritual salvation

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      3. So ernest. You think God wouldn’t give us a sin nature because he doesn’t want us to sin. But you think it’s perfectly okay for God to give us a WEAK nature that can’t say no to sin. What’s the difference? How is God not just as blameworthy for making us weak?

        Like

  18. Leighton,

    I want to begin a response to your interaction with Lumpkin. I will not try to go through everything, just make some points on this.

    [[soteriology101 says:
    June 7, 2016 at 8:53 pm
    Lumpkins is a good brother and friend, but even by his own admission he is not a Traditionalist (he refuses to sign the Traditional statement to this day).]]

    Lumpkins is a non-Calvinist, not sure where he stands on Traditionalist doctrines or why he would not sign the statement.

    Lumpkins wrote and you quoted him as saying:

    “I made, in passing, a reference that what was being suggested by one brother was reminiscent of the Campbellite movement beginning the middle of the 19th century, a movement which ripped at the fiber of Baptists all over the south eventually claiming whole Baptist associations for Alexander Campbell’s restoration movement; namely, the notion that the Spirit’s activity in the conversion of sinners was limited to a *mediate* work whereby He worked exclusively through gospel witness alone and not through *immediate* activity upon the gospel recipient him/herself (i.e. unbeliever). The pens of J.B. Jeter (Calvinist) and Andrew Broaddus (non-Calvinist), along with other Baptist lights of the day worked together to overwhelm Campbellism eventually squeezing its influence into creating its own denomination—Church of Christ>>>Disciples of Christ.”

    Lumpkins for some reason also saw that your view seems reminiscent of the Campbellite view, a view which Baptists strongly opposed as Lumpkins says as well. Leighton you need to ask why multiple people now are seeing similarities between your view and the Campbellite view?
    Lumpkins then provides examples:

    [[Below are just a few excerpts which demonstrate the point I was making that what was being said in the comment thread over the weekend sounded strangely like the Campbellites of the 19th century.
    The Harding-Moody Debate (1889)—“The Scriptures are sufficient to produce the faith of the Gospel.”
    Harding (Campbellite): “So, my friends, if the dead sinner is to be quickened, the Word of God is represented as sufficient to do the work; if he is to be begotten, it is expressly said that God begets us ” with the word of truth;” if he is to be converted, the law of the Lord is “perfect” for that very purpose; if he is to be saved, Peter was to speak “words” by which Cornelius was to be saved, and Paul says “the Gospel” is “the power of God unto salvation.” And when Jesus wanted his disciples sanctified he prayed, ” Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John xvii. 17.) Now while these words of God, spoken by holy ones of old, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, are ringing in your ears, turn your eyes upon J. B. Moody, of “off-hand” quotation notoriety, and hear him talk about “the insufficiency of the Scriptures!” It is passing strange that such a very frail worm of the dust should thus put his words in contrast with those of the great Jehovah” (p 559)
    Moody (Baptist): “Mr. Briney said in the Mayfleld debate: “The personal power of the Spirit is not present with the Word in the conversion of the sinner.” Again, he said: “The Scriptures teach that the Gospel alone is sufficient for the conversion and sanctification of sinners.” Mr. Briney here says in effect that ” I deny that there is any personal power of the Holy Spirit exerted upon the sinner’s heart in conversion.”//////]]

    Leighton you then state:

    [[I responded in part by saying: After thinking on this for many hours this weekend it seems to me our difference amounts to this:
    Is the Holy Spirit sufficiently enabling the lost by the means of gospel or is He making the gospel sufficient by use of additional means (some kind of prevenient grace that makes an otherwise disabled will able to freely respond)?]]

    Leighton it seems you are speaking of two different views here,

    View 1 = “Is the Holy Spirit sufficiently enabling the lost by the means of gospel”

    View 2 = “is He making the gospel sufficient by use of additional means”

    View 1 seems to be saying that the Spirit ENABLES the lost using the gospel as the means (and a question here then becomes enables them to do what?)

    View 2 seems to be saying that the gospel becomes SUFFICIENT by means of some sort of “additional means” (and a question here then becomes sufficient to do what?)

    It also seems to me seeing the two positions that you present here that they are referring to two different things, enablement and sufficiency. Can the Spirit use the Gospel to enable someone to have a faith response? I’d say Yes. Speaking of the gospel being sufficient, I would ask, sufficient for what? I view the work of the Spirit as extremely personal, meaning He will use whatever He wants to use to reveal truth to people with the aim being to enable them to make a faith response. He has been known to use, dreams, gospel presentations, conversations with believers, the witness of believers, etc. etc.

    “As I’ve tried to make clear from the beginning, I do believe the HS is drawing us through scripture AND other means (mediate, immediate, etc).”

    Well isn’t that what I just said? So you believe the Spirit does draw us through scripture (including the gospel) AND OTHER MEANS. QUESTION = Leighton if the Spirit does not draw a person will they be enabled to come to faith in Christ? I would say No. No drawing means the person will not have faith. This means that the work of the Spirit is necessary and must occur before the person becomes a believer. As this work is not deserved by us/unmerited, Arminians have called this “prevenient grace” meaning a grace that comes before (comes before what? Before conversion). People may disagree about how this before conversion grace operates (e.g. some believing it restores the will). My point is that people believe that it is necessary, without it, the person will not come to faith in Christ.

    “Please know, my contention has never been to deny that the HS works through other means besides the gospel appeal. My contention has only been to say that ALL of the means God employs are sufficient to enable the lost to respond to those means. (i.e. you don’t need one to enable the effectiveness of another)”

    Well see Leighton and all of these “means” that you speak of are what others refer to as prevenient grace/PG (again it is grace that comes before the person’s conversion, it consists of different things, but it is all grace and as it is a grace that comes before conversion it is called prevenient grace).

    “I don’t believe the HS is working to fix or heal or ‘preveniently grace’ an otherwise disabled will so that he is able to freely respond to clearly revealed truth.”

    True some believe that PG does precisely that, it fixes or heals the will. To be honest I see no reference to that happening in scripture. At the same time, I do see multiple references to the Spirit giving people information, revelation, whether it be of their sinful conviction (He convicts the world of sin) or the identity of Jesus (apart from the Spirit no one can say Jesus is Lord), etc. And this is critical, absent this information they cannot become believers. For example, absent being individually convicted of sin, they will not see how the gospel is good news or how the gospel saves.

    ‘I believe the HS is making himself known through many different means, all of which are abundantly sufficient to enable anyone to respond freely.”

    Agreed, and would you agree that all these different means occur before the person is converted? Would you agree that they are all undeserved?

    “That alone is my argument, yet it seems some have taken that to mean I don’t think the HS ever works in any other way except by inspiring scriptures and compelling preachers (probably due to a poor job of wording on my part).”

    I think it is both a poor job of wording on your part and also that at times you have argued against the concept of PG. You have also argued that PG only fixes broken wills, when that is not what many, including myself would claim about PG.

    “I believe the gospel is powerful and thus sufficient to enable those who hear it to respond to its appeals…WHY? Because it is a gracious work of the HS from start to finish.”

    Slight problem here. You speak of the gospel as if it an object, and if a person is given this object, that is sufficient for them to be saved. But it is not, as again if the person is not convicted of their sin (a personal and very real work of the Spirit before the person will believe the gospel) merely giving them the object/the gospel, merely presenting the gospel to them, will not suffice. It is the Word PLUS the work of the Spirit when the Word goes out that changes hearts. That is what concerns me about your view, you seem to state it as if the gospel is this object, if we give that object to people they will then be able to believe (without the Spirit working personally in them). No they won’t if the Spirit does not work personally and individually in them. That is also why you can do a presentation and present the gospel and see such different responses, the Spirit is working differently in one than He is in the other. It is not just get the object out there/present the gospel, and that is it. It is present the gospel and the Spirit then using that and working in the person’s heart that changes them. The same is true when a preacher does a message for his congregation. He gives out the message, but that alone will not change them. The change comes when the Spirit works in them and brings about change using the Word.
    “I don’t believe the Koran is more believable to the lost man than our Bible is. “

    I hope so! 🙂

    “And I believe any additional work the HS does in addition to the work of bringing the gospel is purely of grace, not necessity (i.e. it is necessary for God to do more than He has done through His own Holy Word in order to grant the fallen man the moral ability to respond freely…an unnecessary affirmation if we deny total inability, which I thought we did?!?).”

    Leighton if it is “purely of grace” and if it happens before conversion, why can’t you call it PREVENIENT GRACE????

    “Traditionalists have gone to great lengths to biblically deny the concept of Original Guilt, and rightly so, yet some seem to want to hold on to a far more troubling doctrine, the doctrine of “original” Inability (i.e. we can’t morally desire to accept the clearly revealed truth of God unless the HS does an additional work of grace above and beyond that which He has done in the revelation itself.)”

    Well see Leighton, here is the error again. You start good when you speak of denying original guilt (I don’t believe that Adam’s guilt is passed on to his descendants, each is guilty for their own sin according to Ezekiel, the sins of the Father and the sins of the son, each is responsible for their own sin). You then speak of a doctrine of original inability. If you mean that each person is born without the capacity to understand spiritual things, unable to do so unless regenerated first, then there is no such thing. At the same time, there is inability to believe unless a person experiences the preconversion work of the Spirit. Again take the one element of being convicted of your sin by the Spirit, if you don’t experience that, you are unable to believe the gospel, unable to become a believer. Another thing you seem to neglect is that scripture even tells us that we have an adversary that does things to blind people to the gospel. They don’t unblind themselves, so WHO unblinds them? The Spirit does so by revealing things to them.

    “To which I said: I’m simply arguing that all of the means God employes are sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which they are sent. I believe the work the HS does to bring the gospel is sufficient to enable the one who hears it to respond freely. I believe any other work the HS does adds to that already sufficient work of grace. He doesn’t work to make the gospel sufficient by healing the disabled condition of fallen man (as the Arminian concept of “prevenient grace” teaches).”

    Again, Leighton ask yourself, think about it, if the Spirit DOES NOT work in the sinner, can they believe on their own without His help?

    You don’t have to believe that PG fixes a disabled will to believe in it. You do have to believe that there is such thing as this grace that is undeserved and comes before conversion.

    “The HS, in my view, is not having to overcome total inability (the concept that mankind, due to sin, is unable to willingly believe clearly revealed truth).”

    Again let’s assume that the problem is not inability, assume that people can come to faith if they experience the work of the Spirit. The issue remains can they still come to faith if the SPIRIT DOES NOT WORK IN THEM IN A PERSONAL WAY??

    “Instead, the HS is at work through a variety of sufficient means to make that truth known to all the world.”

    AGREED.

    “The proclamation of the gospel is one means among the many, but it is sufficient to enable a free response.”

    Is it sufficient to enable a response if the SPIRIT DOES NOT WORK IN THAT INDIVIDUAL??

    “Not because fallen humanity is “good enough” to respond, but because the HS wrought gospel is powerful enough to enable even a fallen man to respond.”

    Again, is the gospel alone, without the personal work of the Spirit in that person’s heart, going to save them? Put another way, if they are not personally convicted of their sin upon hearing the gospel, can they become a Christian? No.

    “The question boils down to this: Is the Holy Spirit sufficiently enabling the lost by the means of gospel or is He making the gospel sufficient by use of additional means (some kind of prevenient grace that makes an otherwise disabled will able to freely respond)?”

    Again forget this idea of fixing the will, just focus on whether or not a person can become a believer if the Spirit does not work in them in a personal way.

    “If you deny total inability there is no reason not to affirm the sufficiency of the gospel in enabling a free response.”

    Wrong, you can deny inability, and still affirm that the gospel alone, the giving out of that object, is not enough, the Spirit still has to work in a personal way with that person.

    “Traditionalism, as I understand it, denies total inability, and thus would have no logical or biblical reason for insisting on the necessity of an additional work of the HS to enable a free response to the gospel revelation.”

    Again, deny total inability all you want, deny that the will has to be fixed by PG, you still have to maintain that the personal work of the Spirit is necessary or that person will not be saved.

    “Peter, if an innate moral inability to respond to the gospel doesn’t exist (which is what Traditionalism says) then what is the HS accomplishing with that extra *immediate* working of grace?”

    He is accomplishing things such as convicting that individual of their sin, He is revealing the true Jesus (when there are many false Christs out there, Jesus is only a prophet/the false Jesus of Islam, Jesus is the first creation of God/the false Jesus of Jehovah’s’ Witnesses, etc. etc. etc.), He is revealing that Jesus is the only way of salvation, He is revealing to the person that they must repent of their sin, etc. etc.

    “The HS is either enabling the lost man to respond to the gospel because sin made him disabled, OR the HS is simply adding to the already sufficient work of revelation by making Himself even more abundantly clear.”

    What does “making Himself even more abundantly clear” mean? Isn’t the Spirit revealing things to a person including their sinful condition and the true identity of Jesus NOT REDUNDANT, but necessary???

    Well that is my start, I may not even need to go into your comments about the Campbellite controversy, if you catch my drift here.

    Like

  19. Hello Brian and Dizerner,
    Thank you for being patient with me. Due to the format of this forum I have found it difficult to reply directly to a question and I think I have missed some you have asked. I am not avoiding you on purpose. There have been some occasions where you both asked the same question or used the same Scripture reference. I admit to laziness and only gave one answer..
    Brian asked:

    1. Are you comfortable with God calling Adam’s creation “very good” even though he had a nature with the “weakness” you describe, that to me sounds like a proneness to sin?

    Yes I am comfortable with Adam and me being created weak because I feel God desired for both of us to rely on His strength. I don’t view it as a “proneness” but I understand your point.

    2. Don’t you agree that Adam’s “weakness”, as you put it, changed when he sinned and “sin” began to dwell in his members? Didn’t he pass that change unto his children, or do you think sin comes to dwell at the first yielding to temptation? Paul says that “sin” entered the world by Adam (Rom 5:12). How do you understand that “entered”?

    No, I think Adam was weak before He sinned. I believe when we sin we become slaves to it. I think it is similar to an addiction. Before Adam there was no sin in the world. It literally entered through Adam. It spread throughout the world from man to man as each were tempted by the power of sin. Some people have the view that we sin because we are sinners. I disagree, believing we are sinners because we sin. I think Paul uses the word sin meaning an act and also a force. I admit that I may be confusing the two.

    3. I don’t believe desire is sinful, but it is sin prone. Sorry if I gave that impression. I was just showing from James that the “sin” that is a part of our nature (either from birth or after our first sin) is why we are “drawn away” by our own desires towards an act of sin. Paul said this happens when God’s command is presented to us, don’t you agree?

    Again, I am not sure what you mean by sin being a part of our nature. Maybe we are saying the same thing when I use the analogy of becoming addicted to sin ( thats my modern version of the Biblical “slave”). We probably do agree here.

    4. Though Paul has said some hard things, it is obvious in Rom 7 that he is connecting what “evil” HE does with the sin dwelling in him. Is it him or is it sin? He is responsible for what the sin does in him and through him, wouldn’t you agree? So it appears to me, that just like as believers we are now partakers of the divine nature (2Pet 1:4), and we are responsible for what that nature does in and through us, we also still have the nature of sin in our flesh..

    I would agree, we are responsible for our sins.

    Dizerner you asked
    /So ernest. You think God wouldn’t give us a sin nature because he doesn’t want us to sin. But you think it’s perfectly okay for God to give us a WEAK nature that can’t say no to sin. What’s the difference? How is God not just as blameworthy for making us weak?/

    I think I addressed that above – I think there is a difference if you are saying we are given a proclivity to sin. By weak nature I mean one that needs to depend on Him for strength to resist temptation. Does this Help?

    Am I willing to change my view given clear contrary evidence? I hope so but I am hardheaded (part of my sin nature). I have changed my eschatological view from premil to ahmil with a mixture of preterism, but I try not to be dogmatic about it. I’m taking a wait and see stance right now.
    God bless

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very funny Ernest! It certainly is sin/flesh dwelling in me that tempts my will to stubbornly hold onto positions I have long publicly espoused. 🙂 But I do get encouraged once in a while, still, when the Lord’s Word wins out and I change my mind, even at my age! I changed my mind on a fairly major idea just this year!

      I do appreciate greatly your desire to answer questions you are asked, especially concerning your view of various Scriptures. You agreed that sin entered the world through Adam. You said – “It spread throughout the world from man to man as each was tempted by the power of sin.” But you have not clarified how that “power of sin” , which you also called a “force” spread throughout all mankind… and if it then “dwells” in each man after it spreads to a man. I am guessing that you do not believe in the Traducian theory of the soul but that each soul is created pure at conception. Is that correct? But if sin comes to “dwell” in me, I would consider it a major part of who I am now in the flesh, before my resurrection when it will be removed.

      You also have not addressed Paul’s meaning of calling himself “carnal” (Rom 7:14). What do you think he meant?

      Though not for this site, we could really get into a great discussion about Christ’s return and what that will look like… but I am guessing that His disciples believed He will reign in a literal earthly kingdom, and they with Him, when He promised – “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Matt 19:28

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Ernest, yea, this format can be really confusing. I appreciate your respect for the Word and your openness. I’ve actually debated sin nature a lot so I may come off over-prepared.

      For me, Romans 5 and 7 are the most powerful passages and I think I’ve meditated on them more than any other single chapter of Scripture. i would never presume to say they are easy to understand!

      One interesting thing that comes up is, in one place it says sin is transgression of the Law, yet another place it says sin is not imputed when there is no law. I’ve had people try to use that to say there cannot be sin without law, there is no law being broken and thus no sin happening! In that same verse is written, “For until the law sin was in the world.” BUT. How can SIN be IN the world with no law, if without law sin is not imputed and sin is transgression of the law? Yet sin is IN the world! I think harmonizing that is a real key especially for people struggling to understand. Because sin is reigning with no law, and the results are death for all, WITH NO LAW, and in the end Paul says “those without the law will perish without law”!!!! They will perish, the punishment for sin. And Paul again later says “All have sinned, there is no difference, and fall short.” People with no law sin and fall short …. OF WHAT …. and perish. Rom. 2 does say people’s conscience can be their own law they fall short of. It might help harmonize this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dizerner and Brian
        Yes, I try not to be dogmatic in those areas where I am inferring various points from scripture. I learned many years ago that crow doesn’t taste good and it has a long lasting aftertaste.
        / But you have not clarified how that “power of sin” , which you also called a “force” spread throughout all mankind… and if it then “dwells” in each man after it spreads to a man./ It spreads because men are tempted when in they are in the presence of sin. I would say Satan is the agent and temptation is the power he uses. Mark 14:38 (HCSB) 38 Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Luke 4:13 (HCSB)
        13 After the Devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him for a time.

        /I am guessing that you do not believe in the Traducian theory of the soul but that each soul is created pure at conception. /
        I believe they are born innocent, humble, and weak
        Matthew 18:3 (HCSB) 3 “I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
        What do you think Jesus meant by that?
        He also said Matthew 19:14 (HCSB)
        14 Then Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.”
        I know you do not believe the kingdom is made up of people with a proclivity to sin so what did Jesus mean by people like this?

        /You also have not addressed Paul’s meaning of calling himself “carnal”/
        He meant he was relying on the flesh rather than the power of the Holy Spirit. thus being in the flesh is being weak and subject to sin,s power.

        /He will reign in a literal earthly kingdom,/ ABSOLUTELY !!!!!!! Heaven will come down to us.

        Re Sin and law
        Sin preceded the law coming into the world. Sin came with Adam. The law came with Moses. Sin is disobeying/rejecting God and it has resulted in death – separation from God – again preceding the Mosaic law.

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      2. Dizner, you said:

        “One interesting thing that comes up is, in one place it says sin is transgression of the Law, yet another place it says sin is not imputed when there is no law…”

        I think what Paul meant was that “no law = no guilt of sin” was a fallacious agrument and he was being facetious. Because He made it clear that their has ALWAYS been a Law at work, 1 written on our hearts and the other written on stones. And a violation of either, is still a violation of God’s law and ALL will be judged accordingly. So sin has always been in the world because the law has always been in the world, in our hearts, to convict us and therefore, God’s judgement on humanity is always rigtheous. No one can argue that they didn’t get the memo.

        1. My issue with “sin nature” / “original sin” is: is humanity also born Guilty of Adams sin?
        2. IF we are born guilty/condemned already (because Sin = Violation of Gods Law), then why do little children get to go to the Kingdom of Heaven?
        3. IF we are born Not Guilty, then it makes more sense for Jesus to say that little children will see the KOH.
        4. I think when the Bible talks of being “children of wrath” or “by nature” we commit sin, it doesn’t mean we are born that way, but rather, its a hyperbolic description of us in our current condition as a harden sinner and because we practice sin. I think this is the more reasonable way to understand how one can be innocent as a little children and get a free pass into heaven, but then judged once at the age of accountability.

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      3. Jesus clarifies the little children he is talking about as “who believe in Me.” That is a VERY specific group of children. Very small children can be EVIL (I’ve seen it with me own eyes and SELFISH. Jesus is not telling us to become child-ISH right? But child-LIKE about the things of God? Because that is a huge, huge difference. We don’t become righteous be playing with toys, saying “Mommy, can I have this,” or soiling our diapers. That is NOT righteousness. Righteous is simple trust and obedience, and if you think all children do that, I don’t think you’ve ever met the human race, lol. The whole “guilty of Adam’s sin” is just a huge canard and red herring for me. It’s trying to mix issues and it creates confusion. If Adam drives us all of us a bus, we aren’t guilty for Adam’s choice, but we still all crash. When Adam took us across God’s “NO TRESPASSING” sign, he drove us all in his bus with him. Sorry, but that’s BIBLE. Does that mean we made the choice? No, of course, not. Does that mean we don’t suffer the effects? No, of course not. The free pass for heaven for infants, is not clearly taught in Scripture (either way). So basing a doctrine on it seems wise. Bible says ALL die through Adam, and ALL live only through Christ. Christ is the Mediator and Savior of ALL men, all were put into Christ as the SECOND Adam. Babies do not squeak around that somehow, they are in Adam. If God saves he saves them just like he does every sinner of all time, but he gives them a vicarious faith.

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      4. Hello Dizner, Thank you for the point by point answer. The only thing I wish more of our Christian brothers is to be more honest in their evaluation of scripture and logical in their systematic and conclusions. Maybe I’m reading in too much in your responses but it appears to be pious flak and superficial for the most part. Where’s the integerity in being a Christian and having the mind of Christ? 1 Cor 2:16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ”

        And I may seem harse but I question people’s intergity because when I ask a question with logical entailments, I PRESUPPOSE that you are a sensible Christian with the ability to evaluate or make judgement calls based on the Christian standard [the God Standard.] I guess I was presumming too much in you Diz. All I hear from your answers are a cop-out to just about every question:

        B1. “God’s Law and Court is not man’s”

        B3. “God does not abide by My standard of justice. My standard is sinful and it’s a sin to insist God abides by it”

        C. “I am SINFUL. God is HOLY. I do not have a perfect or good or accurate sense of justice. What I think is right is often sinful to an infinitely pure and holy God.

        I was not asking you to evaluate the questions on the your non-christian subjective standards. My point here is that if you, a supposed Christian, don’t even have God’s moral compass to work with, then theres not point in debating you. And it may be presumptuous of me to claim to have God’s moral compass, but if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be Christian.

        And that is why I say you would make the worst court of law ever. “You have no accurate sense of justice.” This is the pious flak I speak of, especially to hear that a Christian does not know right from wrong or his left hand from his right. Please, Diz stop non-sense. It doesn’t make you more pious.

        Human Government and Law was given and established by God.

        “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”
        Romans 13:1‭-‬5 ESV

        And what you call, “humanistic evaluation,” you can accuse of a non-christian. But at least give me the benefit of the doubt that we are both Christians operating under God’s standard, which is KNOWABLE. I’m ranting now so I’ll stop. Please re-consider my questions from a Christian perspective, having the mind of Christ, KNOWING God’s standard, LOVE, JUSTICE, MERCY, GRACE. Maybe I’m begging the question, but I conclude that people throw flak because they might be proven wrong in their systematic.

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      5. My point here is that if you, a supposed Christian, don’t even have God’s moral compass to work with, then theres not point in debating you.
        I really am not interested in debating my own opinion or feeling, or your own opinion or feeling, only what the Word of God declares to us. Call that “pious flak” if you want, but I call it being a Christian.

        And it may be presumptuous of me to claim to have God’s moral compass, but if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be Christian.
        Your arguments move “God’s moral compass” from his authoritative inspired revealed Scripture, into your own subjective feelings about right or wrong and good or evil.

        especially to hear that a Christian does not know right from wrong or his left hand from his right. Please, Diz stop non-sense. It doesn’t make you more pious.
        You’re missing the point—I’m making myself less pious, not more, I’m saying I am so IMpious, that I should not trust myself to know right and wrong subjectively but look to God’s Word instead.

        Please re-consider my questions from a Christian perspective, having the mind of Christ, KNOWING God’s standard
        God’s holy standard says all who come from Adam are constituted sinners, have desperately wicked hearts, and without the grace of God deserve hell.

        You won’t get me to budge from that Biblical viewpoint by hurling accusations of false humility, not being inclusive and intolerance at me.

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      6. Dizner, you said:

        1. Dizner: “I really am not interested in debating my own opinion or feeling, or your own opinion or feeling, only what the Word of God declares to us. Call that “pious flak” if you want, but I call it being a christian.”

        1a. Is that your opinion or feeling?

        2. Dizner: “You’re missing the point—I’m making myself less pious, not more, I’m saying I am so IMpious, that I should not trust myself to know right and wrong subjectively but look to God’s Word instead.”

        2a. If you can’t even trust yourself to know right from wrong, then why should anyone trust anything you say?

        2b. How do you even know God’s word is true when you can’t even perceive truth? You couldn’t trust your faculties right?

        2c. And if you’really so IMPIOUS, why and who are you arguing for?

        3. Dizner: “You won’t get me to budge from that Biblical viewpoint by hurling accusations of false humility, not being inclusive and intolerance at me.”

        3a. You just proved my point. All flak to maintain your biblical theories. So now you agree you were being humble? Pious?

        One thing I find wrong in this western culture is REDUCTIONISM. The atheist wants to reduce us to primordial slime while the christian wants to reduce us to primordial dust. There is no self-worth in people like these and therefore they have lost the right to argue for anything.

        Christians should not follow the way of the reductionist. We should walk humbly and acknowledge that we are dust, but we ought to strongly embrace and rejoice that we were created fearfully in His image and likeness. This is the confidnece we have as children of God- children of light. We see the inherent value of all things in God’s creation. And therefore, we can and have the absolute right to argue and advocate for all that is good. Or else the millions of fetuses violently killed are just dust, – those recently killed in Florida are just dust… all humanity is just dust, all condemned at birth, born sinners anyway, deserving of hell at conception. Even murderers, rapists and child molestors, the gays were all born that way, so why should they be responsible for their nature or proclivity to sin, rape, or kill? Who cares right? – God does- and so should you. But what do you know about right or wrong…? j/k This is why it is so improtant to divide the Word rightly. And thank God our justice system was not founded on faulty theology, or esle all instead of claiming insanity, would claim “in – sinnity” born unable to do otherwise…get out of jail free card. For Impractical theology makes for impractical living.

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      7. Sounds pretty humanistic. First off—revelation from God is not my feeling or opinion, but to you of course it could seem like that. If you have a different holy book—or your own conscience is your holy book just like the atheist—you can claim I’m being subjective. But I can’t prove to you something isn’t my feeling any more than you can prove to me something IS yours… I know it’s not my “feeling” that told me the Bible is inspired, but obviously that’s not demonstrable to you nor do I expect it to be. But to simply accuse me of choosing the Bible on a subjective whim—because one day I just thought it was a be a great idea to make it my moral compass for all things in life—well, it can’t but ring hollow when it’s not what my “sinful” nature would want to be true anyway. I’ll tell you what DEVALUES human life—to devalue sin against God. That what we do matters—and not just a little, but matters with an eternal weight—nothing gives more value to our actions than the weight of their meaning before our eternal JUDGE. And that’s what man in the end wants to run away from, run away from the Judge into humanism, feel good altruism, and building up some Babel’s tower of technology and entertainment, oh yes, humans can fix our world and humans can fix our morals and humans can fix our society and our minds and our hearts, but underneath we rot away with an unacknowledged coldness of heart and disposition towards dark things. Hell makes rape not matter? Hell makes killing not matter? But have you raped in your heart, or killed in your heart, by anger or lust? This is the real problem we want to dress up and polish with our professional pride and intellectualism, but measure, for one moment, if you will; how much love really lives in your own heart? How much do you REALLY care? Or do you think more about just wanting to feel good about everything and feel good about yourself. How do I know God’s Word is true if I’m a sinner? The very Word that declares me a sinner? Certainly not what I want to declare myself. Oh, I know this secular apostate church age, where being Christian just means being “a nice guy” not that Christ will return taking flaming vengeance on all who oppose him, and all people will run from the face of a holy God judging all their idolatrous ideals they put before pure worship of his own Greatness (God forbid God be so self-centered and not share the throne!) No. This is the love of many growing cold, this is seducing spirits, the loving of a lie, the great falling away, the church is often being rotted from the inside out. Why tempt it with completely renouncing the name of Jesus, when we can just make Jesus a peace loving hippy, and cover up our hatred for the Bible and the holy standards of God with the self-righteous rags of our humanistic altruistic ideals that deny the very source of all worth. “Divide the Word rightly,” he says, laughable. Was I being pious and humble by calling myself a sinner? Sure, I’m pious for saying I’m sinful and humble for saying I’m proud. Flak to maintain my Biblical “theories” that humans stand sinful before a holy God. I can only shake my head. Of course, that’s “reductionism,” reducing all the pride and glory and pomp of our goodness and worthiness to nothing but a bunch of sin on a man called Jesus, crying and moaning and screaming “God why did you forsake me!” He wasn’t forsaken to polish the dung of our feelings of self worth, but that we might find our value in dying, in finally losing the source of all our problems—us—and being lost rather in Christ. Yes, more “pious flak” aimed directly at your bomber of secular humanism carrying the payload of sinful intuition and silly logic games. Man wants to be anything but the sinner he is, but the Cross always has, and always will, say otherwise. regards.

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    3. Ernest you believe Adam had a law, right… it’s pretty clear that “thou shalt not” is about as law-ish as it gets…

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      1. Dizerner,
        Where do you read that these children were believers, I think you are reading this into the text.

        Matthew 19:13-15 (HCSB)
        13 Then children were brought to Him so He might put His hands on them and pray. But the disciples rebuked them. 14 Then Jesus said, “Leave the children alone, and don’t try to keep them from coming to Me, because the kingdom of heaven is made up of people like this.” 15 After putting His hands on them, He went on from there.

        Mark 10:13-17 (HCSB)
        13 Some people were bringing little children to Him so He might touch them, but His disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 After taking them in His arms, He laid His hands on them and blessed them. 17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

        Luke 18:15-17 (HCSB)
        15 Some people were even bringing infants to Him so He might touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 Jesus, however, invited them: “Let the little children come to Me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

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      2. It might help to read those entire passages instead of cherry pick pasting in.

        And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world for the causes of sin. — Mat 18

        1Indeed, if anyone gives you even a cup of water because you bear the name of Christ, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward. 42Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to fall into sin, cut it off — Mark 9

        Notice in both these passage it is very, very clear it’s not just “any” child, but one that believe in Jesus. Notice the welcoming is in “Jesus’ Name” and the subject is “Those who bear the name of Christ.”

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      3. Dizner, I agree with Ernest that you’re reading that the little children “were believers” into the text. The burden of proof is on you to show that they were and if you can’t find that proof, are you willing to change your position?

        I believe what Jesus meant was that unless you are INNOCENT like these little children, you won’t see the kingdom of heaven. Obviously all eventually fall short once they pass the age of accountability and are NOT innocent. However, regarding “little children” I believe they are “INNOCENT” because they have no Guilt of sin, because they were NOT BORN A SINNER. And when they do bad things, their hearts don’t condemn them because they don’t know better.

        1 John 3:21 “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God.”

        Here are my points of contentions: (The issue is NOT how Jesus saves. The issue is How Man is Condemned)

        A) You seem to think that when I said being “born in sin” = being “born a sinner” is a red herring. I’m stating the obvious that you refuse to acknowledge.

        A1. Do you agree that “sin” = “a violation of God’s law” 1 John 3:4 “…sin is lawlessness.”
        A2. If yes, then does “born in sin” = “born a sinner” – a violator of God’s law?
        A3. If no, please define what you mean when you say people are “born in sin.”

        B) You said:

        “If Adam drives us all [on] a bus, we aren’t guilty for Adam’s choice, but we still all crash. When Adam took us across God’s “NO TRESPASSING” sign, he drove us all in his bus with him. Sorry, but that’s BIBLE.”

        B1. So if Adam [who is guilty] crashes the bus and everyone dies, who is guilty for crashing us?
        B2. So if Adam drives us all across God’s “NO TRESPASSING” sign, who is guilty of that violation?

        If you answer that ALL THE OCCUPANTS in the bus are guilty for Adam’s stupidity for crashing us and trespassing, you would make for the worst court of law ever. But this is the logical conclusion you wish to avoid.

        *** I believe that you mean to say that all those on the bus are NOT guilty for Adam’s stupidity but they “suffer the consequences” of the crash and trespass.***

        B3. But what are the “consequences” of Adam other then death and HELL? ***Please be patient, almost done****

        B3(a) If your child (who was innocent / NOT GUILTY) was on that bus with Adam and you are God, the Judge, would you sentence your child to Hell with Adam also?

        **** If you [being human – having sensibility and knowing right from wrong] would not sentence your innocent child to hell with that perpetrator, then why do you think our Most Holy God would? ****

        This is the dilemma when people believe in “original sin” and “born in sin.” You can’t help but NOT IGNORE the fact that those statements logically conclude that people are born INHERENTLY GUILTY and therefore BABIES are deserving of Hell or CONDEMNED even before they had done any right or wrong. Dizner, based on your belief then, children would go to Hell because of Adam’s consequences, but as ERNEST has provided many times, the son is not guilty for the father’s crimes, so why should the son pay for it in hell? This is the Crux of the argument. Because if they/children/infants “were NOT GUILTY” then they wouldn’t deserve hell right? This is why “Total Depravity/Inability” only works in the Calvinist systematic. And Arminians are strange bed fellows with them for believing in the same fallacy and create “prevenient grace” to get around this issue.

        I don’t deny human depravity or being a slave to sin; these are conditions that develop after the age of accountability. I just don’t believe it in the same manner as you, of how it came to be – like being “born in sin / a violator / disabled / unable” and therefore are condemned at birth as a mere consequence of Adam’s sin – yet WITHOUT GUILT. In your system, there will be many INNOCENT people in hell as a consequence of Adam.

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      4. I’M NOT READING IT INTO THE TEXT YOU HAVE TO QUOTE THE ENTIRE PASSAGE TO KNOW THE SUBJECT.

        It might help to read those entire passages instead of cherry pick pasting in.

        And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world for the causes of sin. — Mat 18

        1Indeed, if anyone gives you even a cup of water because you bear the name of Christ, truly I tell you, he will never lose his reward. 42Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be thrown into the sea. 43If your hand causes you to fall into sin, cut it off — Mark 9

        Notice in both these passage it is very, very clear it’s not just “any” child, but one that believe in Jesus. Notice the welcoming is in “Jesus’ Name” and the subject is “Those who bear the name of Christ.”

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      5. No, in my system innocence is not defined by a humanistic emotional feeling. The Bible does not say our feelings about what is just match justice. If I were God, I wouldn’t put anyone in hell. I just say “You were bad so I’ll punish you a little or put you over here,” but I wouldn’t burn and torment someone day and night forever and ever. That’s the difference between God and me—he’s holy , and his system of justice doesn’t match mine. Do you think it matches yours? That kind of humanistic evaluation leads to annihilationism or UR, which denies Scripture. Do you agree someone who doesn’t OBEY the law is guilty of it? Let me clue you in on a law no one fulfills—love the Lord your God with all your heart. I don’t believe in an age of “accountability” I believe in an age of “ability”—as soon as a human is “able” to sin, he will. Because he doesn’t love his God the way the Law demands. And whether babies can or cannot do an action, as soon as they can, they will not be able to fulfill the Law. And if you think that is not just, your offense is the Cross—where the pure one became our sins, violating the core of our understanding of justice. It would be UNJUST to FORCE a baby to grow up and necessarily sin. Why should that baby HAVE to sin and die simply by growing? Your own positions creates injustice you don’t even acknowledge or see. As well as a horrible cursed world with immense varieties of harm and pain. You want to take your stand on your human sense of justice. That’s a house of sand, friend. Some little girl born into sexual slavery, not one day of her life is she free of abuse. You think that’s fair? You think that’s because of her sin? Some small child born with a terrible sickness paralyzed from the waist down in pain, never knows friendships or running or playing. You think that’s just? You think that’s the child’s sin and fault? You think this world being punished for nothing ANY of us did, is JUST? Don’t squeak out and make excuses and say “Wellll, THAT justice is just okey dokey just fine.” It’s the same standard you are using. Your emotional feelings of what is just does not match up with the Bible or experience. We are a sinful race, with nothing good in us, worthy of hell since day 1, and Jesus is the only good any of us ever have. Let Jesus be your only good. Then your feelings of justice won’t be an enemy of the Cross and every high thought will be subdued to Christ. Bless.

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      6. Sorry Dizner, you completely avoided my questions and went on a rant. I would appreciate it if you’d answered my questions point by point. (Except the whole little children part which you answered already) … WE overlooked the most important part:

        “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
        Matthew 18:3‭-‬4 ESV

        Innocence and humility seems to be the main point above. We can dicuss Gods standard of justice (revealed in scripture) and compare it to our theological systems at a later time. Sincerely.

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      7. I answered the heart of your objection, but okay.

        A) If yes, then does “born in sin” = “born a sinner” – a violator of God’s law?
        Yes. No one positively fulfills the Law (pure total love).

        B) Who is guilty of that violation?
        Adam.

        ” you would make for the worst court of law ever. “
        God’s Law and Court is not man’s.

        B3. But what are the “consequences” of Adam other then death and HELL?
        Sinful nature, sin and a cursed world.

        B3(a) If your child (who was innocent / NOT GUILTY) was on that bus with Adam and you are God, the Judge, would you sentence your child to Hell with Adam also?
        I’m not God and God does not abide by MY standard of justice. My standard is sinful and it’s a sin to insist God abides by it.

        If you [being human – having sensibility and knowing right from wrong]
        I am SINFUL. God is HOLY. I do not have a perfect or good or accurate sense of justice. What I think is right is often sinful to an infinitely pure and holy God.

        Dizner, based on your belief then, children would go to Hell because of Adam’s consequences, but as ERNEST has provided many times, the son is not guilty for the father’s crimes, so why should the son pay for it in hell?
        That’s a misunderstanding and misapplication of Ezekiel 18. Ezekiel 18 is not saying one man’s sin does not fundamentally affect others, it often does. Ezekiel 18 is saying even in the midst of sour grapes, God offers grace and salvation.

        Because if they/children/infants “were NOT GUILTY” then they wouldn’t deserve hell right?
        All humans deserve hell, they are in Adam sold to sin. That’s why Jesus died for children and babies too.

        And Arminians are strange bed fellows with them for believing in the same fallacy and create “prevenient grace” to get around this issue.
        There just isn’t good teaching out there. People are confused and don’t understand how to see prevenient grace in the Bible—it’s there—overwhelmingly there on almost every page. Every time a human isn’t instantly cast into hell, thats’ grace, brother.

        In your system, there will be many INNOCENT people in hell as a consequence of Adam.
        No son of Adam is innocent, so son of Adam is free from sin. That would circumvent Jesus, they wouldn’t even need Jesus to die for them, they’d earn their way to heaven by their own purity and no human can bridge the infinite gap that divides us with God’s holiness—NO human can, NONE.

        God bless.

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  20. Dizerner why would you go to a passage that refers to little ones and not children or infants like the passages I quoted. They are not the same. Children are from the Greek paidion. You need to show where the scripture says paidion – children are believers or brephos. – infants are believers. instead you show in an unrelated scripture that says little ones mikros are believers. The passages you referred to describe different events than the ones I showed you.

    To claim that Jesus is saying we must be believers like these children really ignores the characteristic of the children that would be obvious to His listeners. Do you really think that He is focusing on the children being believers. I don’t think so. Maybe you need to reconsider this and address the passages I gave you.. Explain how an infant can be a believer.

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    1. Good Morning Ernest! I have tried to stay out of this conversation so you wouldn’t feel “ganged up” on. 🙂 But I felt I needed to point out that you were the one that introduced Matt 18 to the context where Jesus took a paidion (a child of training age) and set him in the midst of his disciples and identified him as a little one (mikrpon) who “believes”. And one could argue that brephos (infant) can also come to faith. For infancy continues until nursing stops, but would include an age (2-3yrs) where a child could become a believer (cf. 2Tim 3:15 – from infancy you have known the sacred writings that are able to make you wise unto salvation).

      A different concern that I have however is that even if one believes (like me) that there is no guilt in the soul of an infant until the age of accountability, the other passages about Jesus blessing/praying/touching infants/little children brought to Him should not be used to prove the legitmacy of baptism for infants. There was baptism (John’s) available for these infants, which the disciples would have offered if that was the habit of their ministry. But they did not offer baptism and did not even want the children brought to Jesus. A blessing should even be given to someone who curses, so Jesus’ blessing in this context does not prove the personal salvation of infants.

      I agree with you that Jesus was using children as an example of humility (not innocence) and also an example of willingness to believe. His challenge was to “become” like one of those, which definitely requires humility and trust (or repentance and active faith if you will).

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      1. Hey Brian, if Jesus just wanted to prove humility when a child as an example, could he not have uses an adult to show the same?

        Could there be a more benign teaching by using a child instead of an adult? I.e. a blameless lamb?

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      2. Hi there Simple… (I forgot your first name, if you told it to me before. I’m sorry if I forgot, but I would rather address you by it, if you wouldn’t mind too much. 🙂 )

        I believe the context of the passages we are discussing were were to teach the disciples humility in response to their arguing about who would be the greatest and their rejecting children from meeting Jesus. And the readers of these gospel accounts would learn that humility is the key to enter God’s kingdom, not childhood innocence.

        But you are correct that being guiltless is also required, but even more than being guiltless is required… the perfect righteousness of God is required. Children do not have that. But they are a great example of humility and simple trust!

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      3. Brian, I enjoy discussing this with you, Dizerner and Simple. I don’t feel ganged up on, You bring a different understanding that I respect. While we disagree, it helps me to read God’s word from different perspectives and hopefully come to a better understanding.

        I am not sure how baptism is relevant to discussing “sin nature” but I agree that it is for believers. We run down a lot of rabbit trails, don’t we? … and that’s OK.

        I am glad we agree that we are not born with original guilt. Leighton often says that we are not held responsible for what we can not respond to. I believe that applies here in that without understanding, a baby can not respond.

        I admit that I am reading innocence into the text about children but I think that would be required to enter the kingdom.

        Earlier you asked about traducianism which I reject. There are several passages that represent God as taking an active part in the forming (creating /making ?) of a person.:

        Jeremiah 1:5 (HCSB)
        5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
        Job 10:9 (HCSB)
        9 Please remember that You formed me like clay. Will You now return me to dust?
        Psalm 119:73 (HCSB)
        73 Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding so that I can learn Your commands.
        Psalm 139:13-14 (HCSB)
        13 For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know ⌊this⌋ very well.

        I do not think God would form us with a proclivity to sin. I believe, like Adam we are formed in the image of God and we WERE very good. David said he was wonderfully made.
        Like Adam we sinned. When we sin, we become slaves to sin. I think it is significant that Jesus described the flesh as weak. I think it was the same flesh that Jesus had. (Do I hear gun’s being cocked?) I believe Satan recognized that, and tempted Him.

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      4. Ernest,

        I do not want to waste much time on this, however you made a comment that may be the root of your errors.

        “I do not think God would form us with a proclivity to sin.”

        No one is claiming that God formed us with a proclivity to sin.

        No one is saying that when God first created Adam and Eve he created them evil or with a proclivity to sin.

        What people are suggesting is that once Adam and Eve **did sin**, that that initial sin had major consequences for the entire universe (which is one of the reasons Paul says in Romans 8 that the creation is groaning for deliverance from its sinful condition).

        It is kind of like a still pond, when it is still there are no ripples or waves. But throw a rock into the middle of it and the ripples and waves start forming. Likewise. When Adam and Eve were first created the pond was still. But when they sinned that sent ripples and waves that we and the creation are still experiencing today. It is that rippling effect of their sin that you seem to be completely ignoring and not sufficiently taking into account.

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      5. I’m glad Ernest that you were not thinking about infant innocence justifying baptism of infants! 🙂 Also, I have two more things –
        1. You did not say whether or not you agree that it is not just innocence but also the imputation of God’s righteousness that is necessary for entrance into God’s kingdom.
        2. How do you deal with these verses that suggest strongly, that though your verses show God is forming each conception, He is using material that has been corrupted by Adam’s sin-stained nature? Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalms 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking
        lies. I also believe Rom 7:9 points to indwelling, though dormant “sin” from conception until the time of the age of accountability when a person’s first sins and receives personal guilt, at that moment indwelling sin revives and the soul experiences the separation/death of sin’s guilt. I think this best helps understand Rom 5:12 mean – “sin entered the world… because of this all sinned (after that). And it also helps me understand why Paul calls himself “carnal” 7:14 and that “sin” still dwell in his flesh 7:20.

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  21. Dizerner – Babies are born innocent. We are not guilty of Adam’s sin and neither are babies. Original sin is nothing more than an artifact left over from Augustine’s Gnostic beliefs.

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  22. Dizerner You wrote /That’s a misunderstanding and misapplication of Ezekiel 18. Ezekiel 18 is not saying one man’s sin does not fundamentally affect others, it often does. Ezekiel 18 is saying even in the midst of sour grapes, God offers grace and salvation./

    I never claimed Ezekiel 18 said one man’s sin does not affect others. Of course it does. It says the son is NOT GUILTY of the fathers sin. FROM THIS WE KNOW WE CAN NOT BE GUILTY OF ADAMS SIN. Ezekiel 18:14-17 (HCSB)
    14 “Now suppose he has a son who sees all the sins his father has committed, and though he sees them, he does not do likewise. 15 He does not eat at the mountain ⌊shrines⌋ or raise his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife. 16 He doesn’t oppress anyone, hold collateral, or commit robbery. He gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing. 17 He keeps his hand from ⌊harming⌋ the poor, not taking interest or profit ⌊on a loan⌋. He practices My ordinances and follows My statutes. Such a person will not die for his father’s iniquity. He will certainly live.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bro Ernest original sin doesn’t mean we are guilty of Adam’s sin and it also doesn’t mean you can’t get God’s grace right away, it’s just the dead sinful part of our hearts that the Holy Spirit brings life to. It’s really nothing to be afraid of if we just trust God’s grace, God’s grace in Christ can be there for every child that needs it. It might seem like a harsh truth—that we all are sinners before a holy God—but God provided our remedy. Imagine this—you want to say all people are born pure and good, well that would be nice, I admit it. People wouldn’t need Jesus obviously and people could just choose to never sin. That would be nice! But it’s just as nice if we know that as soon as we are born we have the REMEDY. The remedy is right there. If you are born with ebola or malaria, does that make God unjust? You know that literally happens right, babies are born sick all the time? You wouldn’t argue with me “Well babies are pure so they don’t get sick! Sickness is a punishment for sin, Eze. 18 says no punishment for others sins. so NO BABIES ever get sick!!!!!” Well, we know babies get super sick and we try to heal them. But look—if we are all born with a sin disease, as much as you don’t like that, we also have the REMEDY right there—RIGHT there! Jesus is there to be the remedy right away, and say “You were crucified with me, you died in me, your old man was buried with Christ, the sinful flesh was condemned in my sacrifice, I’m the cure.” Jesus is the cure, and he enlightens every man coming into the world, right? So we are all born with sin ebola, but the Jesus vaccine is right there—it’s right there, because even though Adam left us with sour grapes, God said I will make a remedy so every man will only perish for his own sin. And I think a lot of people think this sin nature business makes God mean or unjust or something, but no it’s just the curse of sin and Jesus is the cure—right there, light for every man. Bless.

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      1. Dizerner , you wrote / it’s just the curse of sin and Jesus is the cure—right there, light for every man. /
        You are arguing that this curse is a sin nature, right. That this sin nature is somehow inherited from Adam.
        Where does God tell Adam that he has been cursed with a sin nature and it will be passed on to his posterity? God does not seem to mention it when He tells Adam the other consequences.
        What is the mechanism for this sin nature to be passed along?
        What is the term that scripture uses for sin nature?

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      2. We died in Adam, Adam died from his sin, the sting of death is sin. We all live in Christ by Christ’s one righteous act—by faith. Died in Adam—live in Christ. No third option.

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      3. Dizerner, perhaps I am just dense but I don’t think you answered my questions. Let’s try again:
        You are arguing that this curse is a sin nature, right. That this sin nature is somehow inherited from Adam.
        Where does God tell Adam that he has been cursed with a sin nature and it will be passed on to his posterity? God does not seem to mention it when He tells Adam the other consequences.
        What is the mechanism for this sin nature to be passed along?
        What is the term that scripture uses for sin nature?

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      4. Ernest God didn’t tell Adam those consequences before the trespass. God didn’t say “In the day y0u eat of it, all this stuff will happen.” There was only one warning and within it was the warning of what would truly happen: “You shall die.” That’s what a sin nature is—a body of death as Paul calls it in Rom. 7. So yes, God did warn Adam. And if Adam spiritually dies, and we are all in reality an extension of Adam (all of “stuff” from Adam, contained in Adam), then we all die when Adam dies. That’s the point of Romans 5. The Scripture uses a lot of terms for the sin nature, “dead in sins, sinful flesh, body of death, old man, sin living in me, sin in the flesh, death (spiritual), etc.”

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  23. Dizerner, God told Adam and Eve the consequences of their sin after they committed it and He seems to have left out the curse of a sin nature. Do you think briars and the pain in childbirth were more important? How is “you shall die” mans sin nature? Earlier you were arguing that man’s sin nature was the reason men sin. The Bible says men die because they sin. The wages of sin is death. It seems you are arguing the reverse.

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      1. Dizerner to be spiritually dead means to be separated from God and is a result of our sin. Ones nature is what one is born with. We are born with a weak nature. Remember Jesus said the flesh is weak. When man is born he has committed no sin and we are not guilty of the sins of others.

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  24. Brian you asked:

    1. You did not say whether or not you agree that it is not just innocence but also the imputation of God’s righteousness that is necessary for entrance into God’s kingdom.

    I’m not sure that it is “necessary” since it is an act of God. I do believe He does impute His righteousness to all He saves. He does say it is necessary to be born again. Do you think this imputation of righteousness is associated with “sin nature”? I have always viewed righteousness as our standing with God.

    2. How do you deal with these verses that suggest strongly, that though your verses show God is forming each conception, He is using material that has been corrupted by Adam’s sin-stained nature? Psalms 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalms 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking
    lies. I also believe Rom 7:9 points to indwelling, though dormant “sin” from conception until the time of the age of accountability when a person’s first sins and receives personal guilt, at that moment indwelling sin revives and the soul experiences the separation/death of sin’s guilt. I think this best helps understand Rom 5:12 mean – “sin entered the world… because of this all sinned (after that). And it also helps me understand why Paul calls himself “carnal” 7:14 and that “sin” still dwell in his flesh 7:20.

    I have no problem with the verses. I think you maybe begging the question. I don’t agree He was using corrupt material.
    Psalm 51:5 is poetry (think hyperbole) and David is speaking of himself, not mankind.
    Psalm 58:3 as above – Do babies really speak lies?
    Romans 7:9 and others I don’t see anything about a sin nature here. Paul is speaking of the relationship between sin and the law. He is explaining – For apart from the law sin is dead.
    You seem to be inserting sin nature when the passages just say sin. I agree that sin has power and it can affect the person, even weakening him further so that it will be more difficult to resist further temptation. I do not believe God forms us with a sin nature that has a proclivity to sin.

    I don’t think you ever said what you think Jesus meant when He said the flesh is weak.

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    1. Hi Ernest! My comments concerning the imputation of righteousness were given to counter your suggestion that Jesus was teaching that “innocence” was the requirement for entering the kingdom of heaven. I was suggesting that Scripture does not just emphasize the removal of sin (forgiveness) which brings about innocence, but that addition of righteousness, imputed from God, as necessary for salvation. Righteousness does change our standing, but we actually receive Jesus’ life, which includes His divine righteousness, when we are born again.

      The hyperboles in the poetry of the Psalms still must point to a reality which the figure of speech is symbolizing. What is David trying to say in those two verses, even if he is using hyperbole. I think David is saying that mankind is weak in nature… yes, because the weakness came from Adam when his nature changed and had the indwelling force of sin added to it.

      For some reason you do agree sin is a force, but you do not want it to be a force on the inside of man’s flesh and a part of his nature. It seems you want it to be only some kind of force that exists externally and must find some kind of connection with man’s weakness through temptation. Does that force only tempt through the physical senses? Can that force tempt the inward soul directly without the senses? Must that force be initiated by another person (man or spirit)? Doesn’t Paul clearly say that sin dwells in him (7:20) and the law of sin dwells in his members (7:23)?

      You are correct that I was inserting the word “nature” when sin is used as an indwelling force. Would you be ok with saying it is a sin force that dwells in my nature?

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  25. Brian
    /when his nature changed and had the indwelling force of sin added to it./ I have no problem with that
    /It seems you want it to be only some kind of force that exists externally and must find some kind of connection with man’s weakness through temptation. / Yes that is correct in the sense sin has power

    Would you agree that Paul uses personification when he describes sin? I think we need understand that in order to understand what he is writing. examples – slave to sin, sin’s claim, sin rules over you, sin indwelling, sin living, sin having dominion….

    /Does that force only tempt through the physical senses? / I can’t think of an example where the physical senses are not somehow involved but the temptation I believe is against the heart or will.

    / Can that force tempt the inward soul directly without the senses?/ I don’t know but you seem to be leaving out Satan in this scheme. I would say that Satan is the agent of temptation rather than sin.

    /Must that force be initiated by another person (man or spirit)/ Yes, ultimately Satan.

    / Doesn’t Paul clearly say that sin dwells in him (7:20) and the law of sin dwells in his members (7:23)? Yes…. and didn’t Jesus clearly say the Pharisees were Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!

    /Would you be ok with saying it is a sin force that dwells in my nature?/ I would be OK with “sin is a force that lives in me” realizing that I am personifying a force saying it lives. ( or dwells)

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  26. Dizerner, you asked /We still suffer from the sins of others, like a baby born sick and deformed. Why?/ Sin has consequences but all illness and birth defects are not the result of isin. You are making the same mistake the disciples made associating blindness with sin.

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    1. Waaaait, you don’t think sickness is the result of sin? The mistake the disciples made wasn’t connecting sickness to sin, it was connected sickness to personal sin? Where do you think sickness comes from and why do you think God created sickness? Do you think the creation is not fallen and cursed?

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      1. Oh, so you admit some people are born sick? Because you just said “I don’t believe people are born sick.” Seems like you have the non sequitur right now, sorry…

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      2. I was speaking of people in general. Of course some babies are born sick but it is incorrect to say babies in general are born sick. Many are born healthy. It is therefore a non sequitur to link a babies sickness to man’s “sin nature”. Let’s not get distracted with the consequences sin. The question is where is the evidence that man was born with a sin nature – a proclivity to sin.

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  27. John 16:5-8 (NKJV)….
    “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for IF I DO NOT GO AWAY, the Helper WILL NOT COME TO YOU; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. AND WHEN HE HAS COME, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…”

    Leighton,

    Hope you are still “watching”.

    If conviction is necessary/mandatory before belief, then just how did those during Christ’s earthly ministry believe? According to the Arminian system (the pre-conversion work of the HS), Jesus’s words and miracles should have fallen on deaf ears and blind eyes.

    Your thoughts?

    Grace.

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    1. Hi Phillip! I hope you don’t mind my stepping in on this discussion! I think the phrase “will convict” in verse 8 does not have to be taken as an inceptive future, meaning “begin to convict”, as if the Holy Spirit didn’t bring conviction at all in any way in the OT era before Pentecost. But Jesus is promising as encouragement to His sorrowing disciples that their ministry will be accompanied by the HS’s conviction which will include new information in that conviction, which Jesus outlines in 9-11 – “9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”

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      1. Blessings, Brian.

        No, I don’t mind you stepping in. I just don’t want a particular “Mr. Know-it-all” Arminian stepping in and dominating the discussion. From your other comments I feel you can remain objective so I can appreciate your input.

        You said “verse 8 doesn’t have to be taken as an inceptive future”. Perhaps not, but that is certainly the language used. However, if John 16:5-8 is referring to the coming cross, which I believe it is, then it is definitely futuristic.

        Now consider John 8:7-9 (KJV)….

        “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, BEING CONVICTED BY THEIR OWN CONSCIENCE, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

        My point with the above is simply that the Lord’s words were spiritual (he was dealing with their sin problem) and His words were sufficient without any pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit to get the desired result. At least that’s how the text reads.

        Leighton and I seem to be reading the scriptures the same way when it comes to TD/TI and PG. I still hope to hear from him, but I have no issues discussing it with you, brother.

        God bless.

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      2. Thank you, Phillip, for the kind words and blessing. I agree with Leighton and you, I think, that any time Jesus speaks, or the Scripture is quoted, there is the planting of spiritual, effective seed that will enable in the physical hearer’s heart the opportunity (and ability, if you will) to seek for further understanding that can lead to an opportunity to trust in God’s mercy.

        But I also believe that the Spirit has, since creation (Gen 6:3), and He will continue to, use “words” spoken by creation, conscience, and man that then become enlightenment (prevenient grace, if you will) that can inspire the same kind of seeking that Jesus’ or Scriptures’ words do on their own. But that enlightenment of the Spirit does not happen every time to everyone who look at creation, or who feel the motions of their conscience, or who hear a man’s message, in my view.

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      3. Phillip has reappeared from whatever rock he was hiding under. I know you were attacking me with the “know it all” comment. You are mistaken, I really don’t know it all or claim to know it all. I am quite certain that I have limitations (one of the reasons I surround myself with a very intelligent and informed group of people, you learn that way and are kept accountable). No need to dominate the discussion either as the truth regarding inability stands (i.e. without the preconversion work of the Spirit no one can believe). Now you can keep denying this and even ridiculing those who espouse some form of inability. But you will keep failing as you have no case. The scripture says that we have to be convicted of our sin before we can believe, only the Spirit does that. And He does that before a person becomes a believer. So it is undeserved and unmerited actions by HIm, ie.. grace, and without this grace we cannot become believers on our own. He also reveals Christ to us (1 Cor. 12:3) which is also necessary for us to believe. Without the Spirit working in us before conversion, none of us can believe. You can go back under the rock you’ve been hiding under again.

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      4. Brian,

        The gospel of John is full of examples of fallen, depraved sinners putting their faith in Jesus Christ and explaining the reason why. Below are just the first 4 examples and please keep in mind the Lord’s words from John 16:5-8…..

        John 1:49-50 “Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, BECAUSE I SAID UNTO THEE, I saw thee under the fig tree, BELIEVEST THOU? thou shalt see greater things than these.”

        John 2:11 “This BEGINNING OF MIRACLES did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; AND HIS DISCIPLES BELIEVED ON HIM.”

        John 2:19-22 “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered THAT HE HAD SAID THIS UNTO THEM; AND THEY BELIEVED THE SCRIPTURE, AND THE WORD WHICH JESUS HAD SAID.”

        John 2:23 “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, WHEN THEY SAW THE MIRACLES which he did.”

        Now if we want to associate the Lord’s miracles and words to a form of grace, that’s fine. Certainly the Lord said or did something to cause them to believe (I see it as rather being gracious). But to suggest His words or miracles somehow overcame or removed their depravity thus enabling them to come to faith is unwarranted. The hardware is already in place (the ability to believe). All it needs is the catalyst (divine evidence).

        I agree wholeheartedly with Leighton that fallen man never lost his ability to believe.

        Still hope to hear from you, Leighton.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Brian,

        Just another observation. Regarding John 16:8-9 (NKJV)….

        “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me…”

        Verse 9 reads “because they do not believe in Me”, and NOT “because they cannot believe in Me”. BIG difference.

        Have a great Labor Day weekend, brother!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Understood… But I can’t help thinking about those words by that great French theologian – Napoleon! 🙂 “Ability is nothing without opportunity!” You have a great Labor Day weekend also, my friend!

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      7. Hello Everyone, Has anyone talked about this verse:

        “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
        Deuteronomy 30:11‭-‬14 ESV

        So according to Calvinism and Arminianism, “can” we or “can’t” we Do what God commands? God says WE CAN, so im gonna believe in God and not in total inability/depravity.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Yes. True. We can obey Gods commands, but we can’t earn righteousness or salvation by means of obeying the law. That doesn’t mean (as Calvinists presume) that the list are unable to admit their inability and trust in God.

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      9. Unfortunately, Simole, in order to make Calvinism work, they make all Scriptures as written only for unsaved and saved elect people. The universal commands, invitations, and warnings are not for everyone in their view.

        But you rightly read those words which were given to all those in Israel that day, which included many who hardened their hearts after what they heard and never got saved.

        I choose with you to believe that when God speaks, the opportunity to seek to understand and to trust what is heard is automatically there too, as well as the opportunity to resist and reject what is heard. With enlightenment is ability. I like Jesus’ universal invitation to the crowd one day – Mark 7:14 When He had called all the multitude to [Himself,] He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand:”

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      10. brianwagner writes, “Unfortunately, Simole, in order to make Calvinism work, they make all Scriptures as written only for unsaved and saved elect people.”

        The Scriptures are for the reprobate also – ““But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”

        Then, “The universal commands, invitations, and warnings are not for everyone in their view.”

        Of course, they are for everyone. “…thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”

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      11. Yep, the gospels are written for everyone as part of God’s enlightenment opportunities that they might believe and receive everlasting life from Him (John 20:31).

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      12. brianwagner writes, “Yep, the gospels are written for everyone as part of God’s enlightenment opportunities that they might believe and receive everlasting life from Him (John 20:31).”

        Paul writes, “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” and “if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,…” and “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires;…The mind of sinful man is death,…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.”

        Even enlightenment has it’s limits requiring an exception – the case where the Spirit takes control and those the Spirit controls are those being saved; it is the spirit’s control that enables the message of the cross to be the power of God.

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      13. Enlightenment is not Spirit control, but enabling opportunity to seek or reject. Paul says clearly that the veil is taken away when it turns to the Lord, not when it is turned to the Lord.

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      14. brianwagner writes, “Enlightenment is not Spirit control, but enabling opportunity to seek or reject. Paul says clearly that the veil is taken away when it turns to the Lord, not when it is turned to the Lord.”

        Enlightenment is enabling opportunity to seek or reject but will seek only with the Spirit’s control. Paul says clearly that the veil is taken away when [a person with the help of the Spirit] turns to the Lord, not that [a person] is turned to the Lord by the Spirit.

        Are you saying something different than me?

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      15. Close… but you use the word “control” which seems to me that you are making it as synonymous to “help”. I wouldn’t use the word “control” because that would seem to me to make resistance impossible for the person who is being offered the Spirit’s help.

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      16. brianwagenr writes, ” I wouldn’t use the word “control” because that would seem to me to make resistance impossible for the person who is being offered the Spirit’s help.”

        That’s the term used in the translation – “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.”

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      17. I am surprised, Roger, that you would not know that the word “controlled” is bad translation of what the Holy Spirit had Paul write. The word is “εν”, which has a number of possible meanings. And if you did know… shame on you!

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      18. brianwagner writes, “I am surprised, Roger, that you would not know that the word “controlled” is bad translation of what the Holy Spirit had Paul write. ”

        And how are we to know that it is a bad translation? Context suggests that “control” is an acceptable translation of that which the Holy Spirit means to convey. Earlier, we see that those in the flesh are enemies of God and cannot please God. Given the prior context, to be “in the flesh” would seem to have a sense that the influence of the flesh is strong in the unsaved even to the point of exerting control over the unsaved. By contrast the influence of the Spirit in the believer is also strong even to the point of controlling the believer.

        What you seem to want to do is weaken that which we read here. If the Holy Spirit had meant a weaker sense, would not Paul have written something like, “The mind of sinful man leads to death,” or “the sinful mind is indifferent toward God,” or “Those having a sinful nature will not please God.” That would be more wishy-washy. Yet, we have strong language, “is death,” “is hostile/enmity,” and “cannot please God.” Given the strength of the flesh in the unsaved, “control” is not a bad translation as it is close to the mark – the idea of the passage is not that of a laissez-faire attitude of the unsaved toward God, is it? Can you suggest an alternate translation that maintains the context or are you satisfied with the alternate translations. Maybe you favor the Message as it has a much weaker rendering of the passage.

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      19. You should know that a bad translation is one that imports a theological meaning that the text/word does not specifically give. There is a Greek word for “control” that the HS could have chosen. He did not. He chose “in” which has a number of meanings (in, with, by). Therefore this context should not be used dogmatically to prove someone’s theology and nor should a translation twist the literal translation into something else to try to prove someone’s theology.

        I do agree that the passage is saying those unsaved (in the flesh) cannot please God for any saving or everlasting result from the mindset which is a part of the flesh, even if it uses God’s law. Salvation must take place within the motions of the human spirit, not the flesh, and I believe, as you know, that the HS provides the human spirit enlightenment which provides it a free opportunity to accept or reject grace that will enable it to seek and eventually trust.

        After trust is placed in God’s mercy, regeneration takes place, the mindset changes, pleasing God, not for any saving, but for everlasting results is now possible, but the flesh is still there serving the law of sin (7:25) when we resist God’s grace as His children. You can have the last comment, if you wish, in this thread. We are going over old ground again, my friend.

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      20. brianwagner writes, “…this context should not be used dogmatically to prove someone’s theology and nor should a translation twist the literal translation into something else to try to prove someone’s theology.”

        Context is to be taken consistently.

        The, “I believe, as you know, that the HS provides the human spirit enlightenment which provides it a free opportunity to accept or reject grace that will enable it to seek and eventually trust.”

        I have no problem with that. However, if such enlightenment truly provides free opportunity, then grace will be accepted for there is no basis to reject it and then, the end is not in doubt. “God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

        Finally, “After trust is placed in God’s mercy, regeneration takes place, the mindset changes, pleasing God, not for any saving, but for everlasting results is now possible, but the flesh is still there serving the law of sin (7:25) when we resist God’s grace as His children.”

        Or the process of regeneration continues as trust is placed…

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      21. And yep, we as believers are a savor of life unto life for the unsaved, and a savor of death unto death unto for fellow believers as Paul clearly reveals in 2Cor 4, that we should die to self, just like Jesus said, so that the world will be drawn to Him, who is life!

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      22. brianwagner writes, “we as believers are a savor of life unto life for the unsaved, and a savor of death unto death unto for fellow believers as Paul clearly reveals in 2Cor 4,”

        That may be but in 2 Corinthians 2, Paul has it different. “For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.”

        So Paul uses that illustration in two ways – but not as obvious in chap 4 and we might not know if you had not told us..

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      23. The more normal Hebrew parallelism is AB AB not chiastic AB BA. So among those Saved- aroma of death, among those Perishing – aroma of life is more normal. And with Paul continuing the theme in chapter 4 of living out the death of Christ as an example to the believers to follow, so that the life of Christ would become more evident to the lost, the normal parallelism fits better contextually. I am sorry you can not see that. You can have the last word, if you wish. I have explained it as best I can. Blessings, my friend.

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      24. brianwagner writes, “The more normal Hebrew parallelism is AB AB not chiastic AB BA.”

        Rather than a chiastic structure, I think the focus might properly be placed on the “…men…de…” structure with a contrast being employed. In addition, the Greek is interesting with “the aroma of death unto death” and “the aroma of life unto life” and can be taken, as many take it, to mean that the gospel separates people into two groups and to some, the gospel is the aroma of death leading to death while for others, it is the aroma of life leading to life. Paul apparently saw no confusion here thinking that the reader would understand his point. The theme continues into chap 4 where Paul says the gospel is veiled to those who are perishing which I would take to reinforce the earlier implication that the gospel is the aroma of death unto death to those who are perishing.

        Simon Kistemaker disagrees with your position in his commentary on 2 Corinthians, but notes that one Maurice Carrez (footnote 52) kinda went in your direction. Of Carrez, Kistemaker writes, “this version is no so much a translation as an interpretation.” So, who really understands Greek today and who can we trust?

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      25. Simole writes, “So according to Calvinism and Arminianism, “can” we or “can’t” we Do what God commands? God says WE CAN, so im gonna believe in God and not in total inability/depravity.”

        Extending the context, we also read–

        15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.
        16 For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

        The Calvinist says that people can obey God’s laws but not from a love of God or a desire to glorify Him but from love of self and a desire to glorify self. Remember Christs’ words in Matthew 7, ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” People do not keep God’s laws because they are the will of God but because they reason some advantage for themselves in keeping those laws which to them are only common sense and have nothing to do with a God in whom they do not believe.

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      26. Rutchin:
        1. So if people “Can” obey God, will u concede that total Depravity/Inability is false? (Regardless of ulterior motives?)

        – note: you are confounding”Ability” with “motive”, which is not necessary.

        2. If people Can obey God, especialy for ulterior motives, does this mean that people’s will and God’s will are 2 different wills. *Therefore, freewill must exist? (Not in the compatabilist sense)

        3. Rutchin: “People do not keep God’s laws because they are the will of God but because they reason some advantage for themselves in keeping those laws which to them are only common sense and have nothing to do with a God in whom they do not believe.”

        – this sounds very much like freewill/volition to me
        Please remain consistent with ur theology:

        – If I was a Calvinist, I would have said: “People dont keep God’s law because God ordained them, from eternity past, not to keep His laws and He also ordained that they not see, hear, or feel anything that is of God, so that they might be Justly punished for not believing in a God they could never ever have dreamed of or believe in”.

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      27. Simple writes, “1. So if people “Can” obey God, will u concede that total Depravity/Inability is false? (Regardless of ulterior motives?)
        – note: you are confounding”Ability” with “motive”, which is not necessary.”

        People can obey God’s “laws” and not God as they have nothing to do with Him. The ability of the lost is to do that which benefits him to which end they are motivated. The lost have no ability to obey God (i.e., to love God and seek to glorify Him) and have no motivation to do so being motivated only to seek their own glory.

        Then “2. If people Can obey God, especialy for ulterior motives, does this mean that people’s will and God’s will are 2 different wills. *Therefore, freewill must exist? (Not in the compatabilist sense)”

        Why should we think that the depraved person might will that which God wills? The depraved has no interest in that which God wills – having no love for God nor any desire to glorify God.

        Finally, “3. “People do not keep God’s laws because they are the will of God but because they reason some advantage for themselves in keeping those laws which to them are only common sense and have nothing to do with a God in whom they do not believe.”

        – this sounds very much like freewill/volition to me
        Please remain consistent with ur theology:

        – If I was a Calvinist, I would have said: “People dont keep God’s law because God ordained them, from eternity past, not to keep His laws and He also ordained that they not see, hear, or feel anything that is of God, so that they might be Justly punished for not believing in a God they could never ever have dreamed of or believe in”.

        Under Calvinism, people willfully pursue their desires. That God ordained people to pursue their desires does not require that God cause those desires.

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      28. Rhutchin,

        I noticed how you make every effect to avoid the logical conclusion i your answers.

        1. Rhutchin: “People can obey ‘God’s law’ but not God”?
        – this is the kind of double talk that someone here has mentioned before. And I delcare today that this type of person/thinking, is a: “theological sociopaths”

        2. Rthuchin: “Under Calvinism, people willfully pursue their desires. That God ordained people to pursue their desires does not require that God cause those desires.”
        – again, theological sociopathy: it’s like saying, “I got my wife pregnant (by natural means) but it’s really not my child … it’s hers!” …Ugh theological sociopathy, driving me insane!

        Reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies “Collateral” https://youtu.be/lBS9AHilxg0 @ 0:44 – just watch – Jamie Fox to Tom Cruise : “you killed him”…

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      29. Simple writes, “1. Rhutchin: “People can obey ‘God’s law’ but not God”?
        – this is the kind of double talk that someone here has mentioned before. And I delcare today that this type of person/thinking, is a: “theological sociopaths””

        There is no double talk here. For one to obey God, necessarily one must love God and seek His glory. For one to obey God’s law does not require that a person even know that it is “God’s” law but only that such law advances his personal agenda. Even atheists will obey God’s laws but will not attribute them to God but to common sense – after all there is no God to the atheist.

        Then, “2. Rthuchin: “Under Calvinism, people willfully pursue their desires. That God ordained people to pursue their desires does not require that God cause those desires.”
        – again, theological sociopathy: it’s like saying, “I got my wife pregnant (by natural means) but it’s really not my child … it’s hers!” …Ugh theological sociopathy, driving me insane!”‘

        You have it wrong again. It is God who ordains that a woman get pregnant through the natural means of intercourse with her husband. We see a clear example of this in the first chapters of 1 Samuel with regard to Hannah. God can interfere in natural events to prevent that which we might ordinarily expect to happen.

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      30. A couple of things in response to PHILLIP. First, Phillip often appeals to what in logic is called the fallacy of appealing to silence. So he will say well it does not say X in that verse, therefore X is not true. But this is an invalid way of presenting your case. True Jesus says they did not believe, but the verse does not say why they did not believe. From other verses we know there are various reasons why people do not believe. From other verses we also know that unless the person experiences the conviction of the Spirit prior to conversion they cannot believe. Unless the Spirit reveals Jesus to them they cannot believe. Phillip ignores these evidences of inabiity and appeals to arguments from silence. It is not in this verse so it must not be true. Phillip needs to take a logic class because he makes this mistake so often.

        Second, Phillip in the past promised that if I was involved in a thread he would cease posting in that thread. I guess we cannot trust HIm to keep his promises.

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      31. Agreed.

        And I don’t know who said it, but…

        “Its better to be prepared for an opportunity that never comes, than to have an opportunity come and not be prepared.”

        Of course if we start quoting fallen creatures, we might be here all weekend (or even die from old age).

        Blessings, brother.

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  28. Leighton/Brian,

    Sorry for the length of this post, but just something I want to point out.

    Robert writes (June 7, 2016; 4:47pm)…..

    “The Spirit must impart truth to an individual or they will not be saved. Note Rodgers who was a great preacher among Southern Baptists says explicitly that it ‘takes more than preaching to get people saved’. Was Rodgers against preaching? No, definitely not. But he recognized the role of preaching, or witnessing, the Spirit uses these things to impart truth to people, to change their hearts, to enable them to have a faith response to the gospel.”

    Please notice the similarity between what Robert writes above and Calvinist John Hendryx writes below…..

    “This means that people need to hear the gospel in order to be saved, but we can preach till we are blue in the face and nothing will take root unless the Holy Spirit sovereignly applies that word to the heart that one might hear. To use some biblical imagery, we cast the seed of the gospel indiscriminately because the Holy Spirit alone can ‘germinate’ the word unto life in Christ. The fallow ground of our hearts must first be plowed up by God, for the soil of our heart is not good by nature, but only by grace. The seed will not find good soil until God makes it so.

    For Ezekiel the prophet says:

    ‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.’ (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

    Notice that this passage demonstrates that in order for obedience to take place the Lord must first cleanse our hearts, put a new spirit in us and remove our hardened uncircumcised heart. No one believes and obeys while their heart is still stone. Our blind eyes must be opened, our deaf ears unstopped, and our corrupt nature supernaturally changed by the Holy Spirit, before we can begin to have any good thoughts about Christ.”

    Now Robert isn’t advocating “regeneration precedes faith”. We know that. But he is advocating that unless a supernatural work is done to the hearts of men, no one will come to faith. Both Robert and Hendryx believe in TD/TI. Both Robert and Hendryx believe the gospel, or the word of God, alone is insufficient to save lost man. Something else is required. And that something else is prevenient grace; though they differ on what that PG entails.

    The apostle Paul writes to us in Romans 1:16…

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because IT is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…”

    But for both Robert and Hendryx, the gospel has no power without an additional supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. For them, it’s the gospel plus something else.

    Adrian Rogers writes…
    “That’s the reason I frequently say to you, I can preach truth, but only the Holy Spirit can impart truth.”

    True. Absolutely. But, if someone is preaching with the use of scripture, then the Holy Spirit IS imparting truth because all of scripture is God breathed (2 Timothy 3:16).

    Acts 17:2….
    Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths REASONED WITH THEM FROM THE SCRIPTURES…

    Acts 18:28….
    for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, SHOWING FROM THE SCRIPTURES that Jesus is the Christ.

    2 Timothy 3:15….
    and that from childhood you have known THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, WHICH ARE ABLE TO MAKE YOU WISE FOR SALVATION through faith which is in Christ Jesus

    Robert, like Hendyx, believe preaching the word alone is moot (something else is necessary).

    But what does the book say?

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

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

    And this doesn’t even begin with all the biblical examples coming from the gospel of John.

    John 4:39-43…
    And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him BECAUSE OF THE WORD OF THE WOMAN WHO TESTIFIED, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed BECAUSE OF HIS OWN WORD. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

    God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess one could argue that the effectiveness of Paul, Barnabas, and the Samaritan woman’s speaking was directly related to how accurately they represented Scripture’s/Jesus’ words in their speaking! I do agree with you that the Word of God has innate power like a seed. And as I pointed out above on this page, that is why Satan takes it out of the hard heart when he can, “so that they may not believe and be saved.” If the hardness could not be overcome by the presence of the word, you would think that Satan would just let it stay there and ignore it.

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      1. Brian,

        You wrote:

        “I do agree with you that the Word of God has innate power like a seed.”

        I think all of us here believe that the Word of God has innate power. No controversy on that point only widespread agreement. And scripture (as you know) itself represents the Word as being like a seed (most notably in the Sower parable).

        However what is of concern is the comments of people such as Phillip that leave out the work of the Spirit in a person coming to faith in Christ (or argue against the necessity of the Spirit’s work).

        Without the work of the Spirit none of us would ever become believers.

        We don’t convict ourselves of sin, we don’t enable ourselves to confess Jesus as Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3), etc.

        Many of us can share conversion stories of how we were ignorant of our own sinfulness, ignorant of God’s plan of salvation until God started drawing us through people witnessing to us, meeting believers, hearing messages, going to church meetings, beginning to read the Bible ourselves, etc. In all these things the Spirit was working to lead us to faith in Christ. This all seems rather obvious to anyone who is a genuine believer. And yet we have people talking as if all a person needs is to hear a gospel presentation, and *****WITHOUT THE WORK OF THE SPIRIT***** they can become believers.

        Brian why do you think that some folks are so neglectful of the Spirit and His work in leading people to Christ?

        I doubt they deny the trinity, I doubt they do not believe that the Spirit works in leading people to Christ, and yet for whatever reason they downplay, minimize, ignore, and even want to argue against this preconversion work of the Spirit.

        I understand that people want to maintain the power of the Word, and that is a legitimate concern, but the Spirit always works with and through the Word, they are not separate realities. It is not as if in acknowledging the inherent power of the Word you have to neglect/or deny the power of the Spirit. Again it seems obvious that we ought to have confidence in both the power of the Word AND the work of the Spirit in leading people to faith in Christ.

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      2. Hi Robert. I guess the question is how much work can the innate power of the Word do on its own, in confronting the unregenerate mind and will, and without personal involvement of the Holy Spirit? My view is that verses like Heb 4:12, “The Word of God is living and powerful… piercing… and is a discerner…” indicate that conviction can come directly from contact with the Word and without, theoretically speaking, the Holy Spirit doing “more”.

        I also believe verses like Luke 8:12 and Rom 10:17 indicate that the innate power of the Word, apart from, theoretically speaking, the personal involvement of the HS, can enable an unregenerate heart to express faith.

        Of course, I believe the HS is omnipresent (we won’t discuss omniscience, lol), therefore He see every thing that is happening resulting from the Word’s innate power, and He probably speaks His own words of conviction as well before faith comes to fullness. But I do think that theoretically the Scripture is enough to bring a person to saving faith. The HS then, seeing the true faith commitment to Christ, causes the new birth to take place.

        I think you were basically saying the same thing Robert, and I heartily agree when you said – “it seems obvious that we ought to have confidence in both the power of the Word AND the work of the Spirit in leading people to faith in Christ.” And we should pray for God to use both.

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      3. “I guess the question is how much work can the innate power of the Word do on its own, in confronting the unregenerate mind and will, and without personal involvement of the Holy Spirit?”

        In a sense this is a moot question, as the Spirit never just sits there and thinks “I’ll see how the Word impacts this person without my involvement, I will just sit back and let it do its thing!”

        The reason I say He does not do this is because the salvation process is VERY PERSONAL. The Spirit is a person and He works in a very personal way with those He is working in. As you know this is one of the problems with Calvinism, at times they present the salvation process as if it is mechanistic (God regenerates a person, then this regeneration causes the person to desire Christ, like a machine). But the salvation process is not mechanistic, it is one person (God) relating to another person the human person.

        I do a lot of evangelism (have about 80 volunteers that I have trained and who do evangelism, plus chaplains, etc.) and one of the things we do is we “debrief” people after their conversions. We ask them to describe their conversion experience, how did they start getting interested in Christianity, who spoke to them, etc. etc. In EVERY SINGLE case people speak of very personal actions the Spirit does in their life. A grandmother who prayed for them for a long time (well who was she speaking to? And did God then just sit by without then working in the person’s life?). Or another person was interested in philosophy, and they “just happened” to encounter a Christian who was familiar with apologetics and was thus able to answer their philosophical questions. Or they speak of going to hear a message and feeling as if the message was directly speaking to them (who was doing that?). Over and over there are these special touches, personal touches, things you just know that God was doing in a very personal way with them.

        “I also believe verses like Luke 8:12 and Rom 10:17 indicate that the innate power of the Word, apart from, theoretically speaking, the personal involvement of the HS, can enable an unregenerate heart to express faith.”

        And these verses, is it not the case that a Christian shares them with these nonbelievers? Who arranged for the believer to be in a conversation with these nonbelievers (or did it just happen by chance, by accident). I have had many speak of having these conversations with believers and after they are saved they realize these were “divine appointments”, that God wanted these conversations to happen, they did not happen by accident. We also have scripture speaking of how will they hear without a preacher? And that is just it, God is the one who sends the “preacher” whether it is a pastor giving a message, an evangelist giving a message or a believer just witnessing to a nonbeliever.

        “Of course, I believe the HS is omnipresent (we won’t discuss omniscience, lol), therefore He see every thing that is happening resulting from the Word’s innate power, and He probably speaks His own words of conviction as well before faith comes to fullness.”

        “Probably”? I think it is much stronger than that, he not only sees what is happening, He actively pursues people, actively works in their hearts to reveal Christ to them so they are able to confess Him as Lord (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). John 16 also has Jesus explicitly speaking of the work of the Spirit (Jesus does not speak of this as a passive mere observing by the Spirit but as Him actively convicting people of sin, righteousness, judgment.

        When the Bible speaks of the Word going out and not coming back void, it is again speaking of how the Word goes out and God speaks to people through that Word and He works in their hearts so the Word never goes out void.

        “But I do think that theoretically the Scripture is enough to bring a person to saving faith.”

        And again, it seems to me this theoretical possibility, is a moot point because the Spirit works in and through the Word: the Word never goes out without the Spirit being involved with it and using it in people’s hearts.

        “The HS then, seeing the true faith commitment to Christ, causes the new birth to take place.”

        It is true that the Spirit causes regeneration and does so with people who trust in God alone to save them. But **BEFORE** regeneration, there is a lot of activity by the Spirit going on (and it is precisely this activity that people talk about when then describe their conversion experience. The conversion experience is very personal, very relational, not mechanical at all.

        “I think you were basically saying the same thing Robert, and I heartily agree when you said – “it seems obvious that we ought to have confidence in both the power of the Word AND the work of the Spirit in leading people to faith in Christ.” And we should pray for God to use both.”

        Well this is what we pray when we do evangelistic messages. We pray that the Spirit would work through the Word and bring conviction, reveal Jesus to people, help them to understand scripture, show them Jesus is the way of salvation, show them who Jesus is and what He did for them, etc. We then share the Word with confidence knowing that the Spirit is actively working through the Word that has been shared.

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      4. brianwagner writes, “I do agree with you that the Word of God has innate power like a seed.”

        The issue is whether the Word has power unto salvation. In the parable of the seed, we find that there are cases where Satan is effective in removing the word before it can do anything. We also are given two cases where the Word has some initial effectiveness but the end result is not productive. It is only when the seed is placed in “good” soil, as contrasted with the three previous soils, that it is effective and here only with those who appear already to be saved as these people produced significant crops (or good works). In Hebrews 4, we read early in the chapter, “we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.” This supports the conclusion that “faith” is necessary to any innate power the Word might manifest. Passages were cited showing that Paul reasoned with the Jews from the Scriptures – with mixed results – allowing no conclusions about the power of the Word in itself.

        That Satan works against the Word removing it in some cases and blinding people in other cases speaks to the potential of the Word. Of course, Satan has no idea who God will convey faith to – and Satan’s fight is against God’s elect as he hates them – so Satan takes a shotgun approach seeking to prevent the Word impacting any person.

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      5. So, Roger, I am guessing that you believe that Satan does not understand the “truth” about the irresistible gift and work of faith in the elect, nor does he know that all things are predetermined. But I believe that you’re wrong about all things being predetermined, and you’re wrong to reject that the enablement by the Word (the revelation called “the faith”) for a man’s heart helps him begin seeking, though he is still able to become hardened.

        If he seeks, he will find, and his ability to believe, which is part of his nature from birth, will be given the opportunity to trust the revelation, the faith, which is truth about Christ. God sees that reception by faith and according to His sovereign plan gives the new birth.

        I think the evil one knows this is the ordo salutis, and that is why he steals the seed and blinds the minds everywhere he can. Why else would he? Do you a more reasonable idea that fits with him understanding the so-called truth of Calvinism?

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      6. brianwagner writes, “I believe that you’re wrong about all things being predetermined,…”

        That’s because I understand God to be omniscient and you do not. If God is omniscient then all things are predetermined, which you obviously figured out.

        Then, “…you’re wrong to reject that the enablement by the Word (the revelation called “the faith”) for a man’s heart helps him begin seeking,…”

        Above you write, “I also believe verses like Luke 8:12 and Rom 10:17 indicate that the innate power of the Word, apart from, theoretically speaking, the personal involvement of the HS, can enable an unregenerate heart to express faith.” Now, you seem to ratchet that statement down. I don’t see a problem with the Word enabling faith – faith comes by hearing – but to add that the Word can enable the “expression” of that faith absent any involvement of the HS is a different matter. In the parable of the seed, the Word requires “good” soil to be effective. Do you have the word producing the good soil so that it can be effective

        Then, “If he seeks, he will find,…”

        Paul is clear, “There is no-one righteous, not even one; there is no-one who understands, no-one who seeks God.” At a minimum, you require the Word to initiate the seeking. Yet, not everyone who hears the Word also seeks. Thus, something else is in play.

        Then, “…and his ability to believe, which is part of his nature from birth,…”

        Paul again is clear, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” and we know from Hebrews that “without faith it is impossible to please God,” and then “faith comes by hearing the Word.” No one is born with faith, so no one has the natural ability to believe. This ability can only come after, and as a consequence of, hearing the word.

        Finally, “I think the evil one knows this is the ordo salutis, and that is why he steals the seed and blinds the minds everywhere he can. Why else would he? Do you a more reasonable idea that fits with him understanding the so-called truth of Calvinism? ”

        Satan need know nothing more than that every preacher in the world states Genesis 3:15 as finality. Why Satan does anything knowing that all is lost, and there is no way he accomplishes anything, is hard to explain. I’m sure Satan is hoping that the Calvinists don’t know what they are talking about and that God is ad hocing a plan.

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      7. My guess, Roger, and a pretty reasonable one, is that Satan might know a little more than Calvinists about the nature and plans of God with humanity. And so did/does the incarnate Son when He prayed… “if it be possible” (in a first class condition of understood reality).

        Rom 8 is talking about anything that is initiated by the carnal mind cannot please God in an everlasting way or earn His righteousness. But responding with your spirit to the enablement of the HS to seek and eventually make a decision of trust, if you do not harden yourself against it, is what the Scripture teaches. It is the Spirit getting a foothold in the carnal mind. It does not please God to earn His salvation, but it does cause the ability to humbly follow His drawing to the point of personal trust when God then fulfills His will and grants everlasting life in the new birth.

        On another point, I wish our friendship was such that you would be willing to say, “You define omniscience in a different way than traditionally understood” then to say that I don’t understand God to be omniscient. Could you do that for me?

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      8. brianwagner writes, “My guess is that Satan might know a little more than Calvinists about the nature and plans of God with humanity.”

        I doubt it. The Calvinists take their knowledge of God and His plans from the Scriptures. I doubt that Satan ever looks at the Scriptures because of his hatred for God – why read that which gives glory to the one you hate? I suspect Satan lives in his personal delusional world denying the reality that is around him.

        Then, “And so did/does the incarnate Son when He prayed… “if it be possible” (in a first class condition of understood reality).”

        Christ understood the reality – it was not possible.

        Then “Rom 8 is talking about anything that is initiated by the carnal mind cannot please God in an everlasting way or earn His righteousness.”

        So nothing the carnal mind thinks can please God – the unsaved cannot please God because they have no faith.

        Then, “But responding with your spirit to the enablement of the HS to seek and eventually make a decision of trust, if you do not harden yourself against it, is what the Scripture teaches.”

        At the least, we have the enablement of the HS – and all that entails – plus the faith conveyed to the person through the hearing of the Scripture. If a person were to harden himself against the Scriptures, we would know that he had not been enabled by that Spirit or received faith. The enablement of the Spirit does what it says – enables. – a blind man enabled to see cannot help but see.

        Then, ” It is the Spirit getting a foothold in the carnal mind. It does not please God to earn His salvation, but it does cause the ability to humbly follow His drawing to the point of personal trust when God then fulfills His will and grants everlasting life in the new birth.”

        Agreed.

        Then, “On another point, I wish our friendship was such that you would be willing to say, “You define omniscience in a different way than traditionally understood” then to say that I don’t understand God to be omniscient. Could you do that for me?”

        Let’s say that you don’t believe that God is omniscient – a technical term describing God’s knowledge of all things as we see them past, present and future as traditionally understood.

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      9. I guess you and I Roger will have to wait till Jesus returns to see who was delusional in these matters and who represented His Word more accurately. Blessings, my friend.

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      10. But we both feel convinced… so that seems to support the idea of delusion, unless you are admitting that you do not feel convinced of your position, but only wish to appear so! 🙂

        And I think you might want to be careful of speaking evil of dignities, like the evil one. He may be self-deceived, but having been a covering cherubim before his fall, I think he has a pretty good idea about God’s nature.

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      11. brianwagner writes, “But we both feel convinced… so that seems to support the idea of delusion,…”

        OK. Let’s label that conclusion as delusional (weakly). Delusion is generally associated with people who are psychotic or otherwise are mentally impaired, and I don’t think you fit that category. You are able to make a rational argument for your position even though it is wrong. You don’t like the Calvinist system and you have figured out that you must argue against omniscience and TD if you are to oppose Calvinism. Of course, maybe you have some psychosis regarding Calvinism that is driving you, but that would mean that you do not have free will of the sort that I think you perceive yourself to have.

        Then, “And I think you might want to be careful of speaking evil of dignities, like the evil one….I think he has a pretty good idea about God’s nature.”

        Which supports my conclusion that he is delusional to think he can oppose God and win.

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      12. Brian Wagner continues to try to push his false and unbiblical theology of open theism (i.e. he wants his denial of God’s omniscience, his unbelief in omniscience to be redefined as actual belief in omniscience by means of definitional and semantic game playing) when he says to his “friend” rhutchin:

        “On another point, I wish our friendship was such that you would be willing to say, “You define omniscience in a different way than traditionally understood” then to say that I don’t understand God to be omniscient. Could you do that for me?”

        So rhutchin is correctly claiming that Wagner does not believe that God is omniscient (“then to say that I don’t understand God to be omniscient”). Wagner wants this changed so this disbelief, this rejection of God’s omniscience should be seen merely as a **difference in definition** (“that you would be willing to say, ‘You define omniscience in a different way than traditionally understood”).

        Rhutchin responded:

        “Let’s say that you don’t believe that God is omniscient – a technical term describing God’s knowledge of all things as we see them past, present and future as traditionally understood.”

        That is a good way to state it, Wager “doesn’t believe that God is omniscient” in light of what everyone else (across all theological lines, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant) believes.

        It occurred to me yet again, while reading this exchange, why Wagner’s attempt to recast and redefine the issue is wrong.

        If a Jehovah’s Witness came along and said:

        “Well I believe that Jesus is the Son of God I just DEFINE it differently than you do”.

        Someone ignorant of JW beliefs could say “How nice the JW’s agree with us on this!”

        But they would be wrong, because the JW’s define Jesus as “Son of God” meaning he is the FIRST CREATION OF GOD, the entity that God first created, BUT NOT GOD HIMSELF. Similarly the open theist defines God’s omniscience as meaning He does not know future events if they ****involve freely made choices by us****. The rest of us correctly see this as disbelief in omniscience, rejection of omniscience.

        The open theists will then go further in rationalizing their disbelief in omniscience by arguing that there are some things God cannot know (e.g. such as existing contradictions) and that knowledge of what people will freely choose to do in the future is unknowable by anyone including God. The ordinary Bible believing Christian will then think, “Don’t many of the future events that are prophesied in scripture, events that involve freely made choices (e.g. Judas was prophesied to make certain choices in connection with his betrayal of Jesus, these choices were not determined/not necessitated, Judas acted freely and yet God knew before he made these choices what these choices would be)???

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      13. Robert writes, “Brian Wagner continues to try to push his false and unbiblical theology of open theism (i.e. he wants his denial of God’s omniscience, his unbelief in omniscience to be redefined as actual belief in omniscience by means of definitional and semantic game playing)…”

        There is a method to his denial of omniscience. Brian does not like the Calvinist system and he has come to realize that one must deny God’s omniscience if he is to oppose Calvinism. If a person agrees with the claim that God is, indeed, omniscient, then they have no basis to oppose Calvinist theology. Denial of omniscience is Non-Calvinism 101.

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      14. Hey Roger, Here’s a little exercise! What is the traditional definition of Christian baptism? Does it include regeneration and the baptism of infants within its definition? My view is that such was at least considered the traditional definition from the 5th to the 16th century. Is it ok if some still define it that way, even if you think it is not longer the traditional definition or if it is not the biblical definition?

        Is it right to say that omnipotence should not be defined to include that God is able to sin, and that it is in fact impossible for Him to sin? Should omnipresence be defined to exclude God’s presence in places that do not exist in reality? He is not present in the past or in the future since those “places” do not exist in reality. Should omniscience include experiential knowledge, or should that be put into a different category? Does not the incarnation and passion effect changes at least in the experiential knowledge of the Godhead? One member of the Godhead is becoming flesh and is being forsaken. The other members of the Godhead are not.

        The main point of this little exercise is to demonstrate that we should test traditional definitions and refine them if necessary to reflect clear biblical delimitations. We should not believe that these delimitations destroy the idea of perfection, but rather they help define that term as well. And if you are going to be tolerant in identifying the proper definition of baptism, shouldn’t the same tolerance be afforded to others trying to honor God’s word by clarifying all definitions of God’s nature with Scripture?

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      15. brianwagner writes, “The main point of this little exercise is to demonstrate that we should test traditional definitions and refine them if necessary to reflect clear biblical delimitations.”

        On that, we both wholeheartedly agree. So, the question is: What does the Bible say about God’s knowledge of the future?

        You have allowed that God knows all the possible events occurring in the future although, for maybe dubious reasons, you maintain that God cannot actually know what people will do with the “free” will God grants to them. However, the basic question seeks to be: What does God know about the future and when did He know it? As an example, there are timelines given (Daniel for example) and while these may not be understood fully by us, they are unambiguous to God. So, when Daniel writes the prophecies, do we understand that God only decided at that point in time to do this or did God know that He would do this from the beginning and only tell us – through Daniel – at that point in time. Certainly, giving that prophecy to Daniel was within the possibilities that God knew, but could God have known more. However, given all the prophecies in the prophets, we can certainly conclude that future history was, and still is, on a tight and certain schedule.

        Then if you allow God to know those future events that He would determine, we have more certainty of God’s knowledge of future events. Certainly, we can allow God to know that He would create the universe and the earth, and all that revealed in Genesis 1 and know these things in eternity past as they involve no reaction to choices made by the creation. So, we have God loosing Satan to run roughshod in the garden – was it ever in doubt what that outcome would be? Could God, at that point, know that people unrestrained, corrupted by Adam’s sin, would lead to God bringing about the flood of Noah’s day? What is really beyond God’s understanding and knowledge – particularly of depraved concerning future events?

        Why don’t you write a book fleshing all this out to give your take on what God knows and does not know. I would review your effort if you did – to keep you from going down rabbit trails and other things.

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      16. Roger, I am glad that you do believe traditional definitions should be tested, and refined if necessary, by Scripture. I was hoping you would respond to the specific exercise, which you rightly saw had implications for an open theism discussion. We can discuss your points on that further if you wish, but I would like your response on the specifics parts of the exercise I posted first, if possible. Thanks.

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      17. Brian asks, “What is the traditional definition of Christian baptism?”

        I have no idea. I have a southern Baptist background and go with what they hold to – believer’s baptism. Never thought to challenge it.

        Then, “Is it right to say that omnipotence should not be defined to include that God is able to sin, and that it is in fact impossible for Him to sin?”

        I always took it as being theoretically possible for God to sin but impossible practically.

        I hold to the Calvinist view of omniscience wherein God knows what He decrees and since God decrees all things, including all future events, God knows all things.

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      18. Well that was a half-hearted attempt at the exercise! 🙂 It would be easy for your to confirm what I said was the “traditional” Christian view of baptism from 400 to 1600. It definitely included regeneration and infants. Also, your view of omnipotence is probably not in line with the traditional view which would say it is impossible for God to sin, even theoretically. And you did not mention what you think about God’s presence not being in the past or future.

        It is interesting that Calvinist believes that it is theoretically possible for God to still makes decisions with a free will, but they believe practically He can’t (another limit to His omnipotence, as well as His free will). And you ended with the number one problem of Calvinism, and stated again in non-Calvinist way. Calvinists believe, without clear Scripture evidence, and in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, that God decreed everything (not “decrees”) into the future forever. And as we discussed before, making a decree requires sequential thinking… but the Calvinist just shouts back with fingers in his ears, “Anthropomorphism! That Scripture doesn’t really mean what it says!”

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      19. brianwagner writes, “Well that was a half-hearted attempt at the exercise! 🙂

        Yeah, that’s because I see you deflecting and avoiding the issue.

        Then, “It would be easy for your to confirm what I said was the “traditional” Christian view of baptism from 400 to 1600. It definitely included regeneration and infants.”

        That’s because I don’t know what the traditional view of baptism is. Or if there even is one.

        Then, “Also, your view of omnipotence is probably not in line with the traditional view which would say it is impossible for God to sin, even theoretically.”

        I have not been in a discussion on that and don’t really know the arguments on it.

        Finally, “And you did not mention what you think about God’s presence not being in the past or future.”

        Does omnipresence mean that God is physically present in the past as well as the future? I’m not sure that the Scriptures speak to this issue. Off the top of my head, no Scripture comes to mind that speaks to that issue.

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      20. brianwagenr writes, “It is interesting that Calvinist believes that it is theoretically possible for God to still makes decisions with a free will, but they believe practically He can’t (another limit to His omnipotence, as well as His free will).”

        You lost me on that.

        Then, “And you ended with the number one problem of Calvinism, and stated again in non-Calvinist way. Calvinists believe, without clear Scripture evidence, and in the face of clear evidence to the contrary, that God decreed everything (not “decrees”) into the future forever. And as we discussed before, making a decree requires sequential thinking…”

        Again, you lost me. But, let’s address what I kinda understood you to say.

        “…making a decree requires sequential thinking…” Is this true? It requires that one be able to order decrees sequentially as one decree builds on another. Certainly God created a world and created people who live sequentially of necessity. Thus, God must be able to see the world as those He created see, and live in, that world. If making decrees requires sequential thinking, it does not mean that God is limited to thinking sequentially in order to develop His decrees. How God thinks may be beyond our comprehension, but we could envision it encompassing the ability to think sequentially and certainly to make decrees that unfold in a sequential order.

        Finally, “…but the Calvinist just shouts back with fingers in his ears, “Anthropomorphism! That Scripture doesn’t really mean what it says!””

        There is more to it than that.The Scripture actually does mean what it says – even to Calvinists. For example, when John writes in Revelation, “the dragon stood on the shore of the sea. And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name” John actually meant this. The question for us is whether John saw a physical “dragon, etc.” or does he describe what he saw as a dragon knowing that believers would be able to figure out what he meant? We both agree that John, and the Scriptures, mean exactly what we read using the proper dictionary.

        There is nothing wrong with the use of Anthropomorphisms, to which we both agree. We understand that God is a spirit, thus having no body, but we read in Exodus, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” We understand the idea that is being conveyed, but I don’t think either one of us knows how it was actually happening. Would Moses describe his encounter with God in the burning bush as a face-to-face encounter with God?

        To speak of Calvinists, “…shout[ing] back with fingers in his ears, “Anthropomorphism! That Scripture doesn’t really mean what it says!” hardly argues against their position and even points to the lack of a counter argument.

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      21. Here I am laughing again Roger! You accuse me of not having a counter argument, when that is exactly what I have posed, but you have pulled a “Hillary” defence… “I don’t know what … I have not been in discussion… no Scripture comes to mind… you lost me… again you lost me.” It is amazing to me how certain you are about the traditional definition of omniscience, but not about omnipresence or baptism.

        Thank you for the attempt at discussing sequential thinking which you at least conceded – “we could envision it encompassing the ability to think sequentially and certainly to make decrees that unfold in a sequential order.” Now if you could adjust that view to seeing the Scripture as confirming that He is still making decrees after exercising His ability to think sequentially.

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      22. brianwagner writes, ” It is amazing to me how certain you are about the traditional definition of omniscience, but not about omnipresence or baptism.”

        It is because your Open Theist position depends on your denial of omniscience but omnipresence and baptism don’t matter. You brought up baptism as an example of a doctrine where the “traditional” view does not stand up to sound exegesis. That’s fine except that the traditional view of baptism is all over the board – there is no agreement among denominations on this dating back, at least, to the 1500’s or so. That is not true with omniscience and I’ll refer to Robert’s earlier email on this point because I have nothing to add. If Robert and I agree on anything, that is remarkable. On the issue of omniscience, people have always agreed, as Robert notes, that God knows the future as completely as He knows the past and present. That is why the argument has never been, Does God know the future?, but How does God know the future? Your comments comparing my arguments with “Hillary” are nothing but deflection in an attempt to hide the void in the Open Theist argument.

        Then, “Thank you for the attempt at discussing sequential thinking which you at least conceded… Now if you could adjust that view to seeing the Scripture as confirming that He is still making decrees after exercising His ability to think sequentially.”

        I have no problem with sequential thinking. God can think sequentially but God is not limited only to sequential thinking. Humans think sequentially because that is all they can do. God is not human and is not so limited. What exactly does the argument for sequential thinking accomplish? It does not require that God be making decrees as time passes – all of God’s decrees can be made before He creates the world and manifested sequentially as time unfolds – just because God is able to think sequentially (and therefore see the passing of time as it appears to His creation).

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      23. Sequential thinking is not a limitation. It is a description of reality. There are not two contradictory realities existing at the same time taught in the Scripture.

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      24. brianwagner writes, “There are not two contradictory realities existing at the same time taught in the Scripture.”

        The Scriptures are primarily a history of humans. That history is sequential because that is the way history works. That is the reality of human life. That history says nothing about God except that He interacts with people and events that occur in a sequential order. Human history says nothing about how God could or does think. What leads you to think that sequential thinking must be reality for God just because it is reality for humans?

        However, you are correct to say, “Sequential thinking is not a limitation [for God].” God must certainly understand sequential thinking because that is how the humans He created think. That does not mean that God thinks sequentially.

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      25. Brian Wagner now employs another of his standard open theism arguments (i.e. we can find instances in church history where the acceptable tradition of the time appears to be false and unbiblical, e.g. the tradition of infant baptism, if that is POSSIBLE then could we not argue the same may have happened with the traditional understanding of omniscience?):

        “Hey Roger, Here’s a little exercise! What is the traditional definition of Christian baptism? Does it include regeneration and the baptism of infants within its definition? My view is that such was at least considered the traditional definition from the 5th to the 16th century. Is it ok if some still define it that way, even if you think it is not longer the traditional definition or if it is not the biblical definition?”

        My understanding of church history/tradition is that we find two strands of tradition when it comes to baptism (the believer baptism strand and the infant baptism strand). Note Brian traces the infant baptism view to “the 5th to the 16th century”. What was happening prior to the 5th century? Seems there was evidence of believer baptism being practiced. And after the “16th century” what do we find? We find both traditions, believer baptism and infant baptism. We also find significant numbers in support of both traditions. Most would conclude that we ought to then decide between the two via proper interpretation of scripture.

        Brian goes on to say:

        “The main point of this little exercise is to demonstrate that we should test traditional definitions and refine them if necessary to reflect clear biblical delimitations.”

        And I think most of us here would agree that we ought to test our definitions and traditions in light of what the Bible properly interpreted presents.

        And that is just it, if we do so the so-called traditional understanding of omniscience is a view held virtually unanimously throughout church history. Everyone has held it except for some Socinians (an unorthodox group that denied the trinity) and some modern open theists in the twentieth/twenty first century, a number so small that you could almost number them on one hand). And people have held the ordinary view of omniscience because they are convinced that the Bible properly interpreted presents it.

        It is true that Christians have disagreed on baptism with significant numbers taking both the believer baptism view and the infant baptism view.

        However let’s talk about open theism in terms of numbers throughout church history. Just for the sake of argument, say that there have been a total of 1000 Christians in church history. What would the numbers be that held the ordinary view of omniscience? It would be 99.9 percent (i.e. a vast number hold the ordinary view and an extremely small number hold to open theism). What this means is that we have an extraordinary amount of agreement among Christians on this issue.

        We also have to wonder could Wagner and the other less than 1% be right about omniscience while the 99.9 % is wrong about omniscience. I guess this is theoretically possible, but it is highly unlikely.

        And if we were to question the ordinary believers who hold to the ordinary view why they hold it? Most would bring up scriptures, such as that God knows what we will say before we say it, such as the numerous biblical prophecies where God speaks of future events before they occur. My point is that the ordinary view is exegetically based, it is based on bible verses that believers have always taken to indicate that God knows the future.

        It is therefore a very dubious comparison to compare the traditions on baptism (where there are two main views held by many) and the ordinary view of omniscience (where there is one understanding that has been held by the vast majority of Christians across all theological traditions, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants all agree on this).

        Wagner has given no good reasons or arguments for those of us within the 99.9% to reject our view of omniscience in order for us to hold the view held by Wagner and the other less than 1%.

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    2. For whatever reason Phillip wants to question my view on the preconversion work of the Spirit. My view is simple and forced upon me by certain Bible passages. The Bible says the Spirit convicts people of their sin (Jn. 16:8). The Bible says (various verses) that people must repent and believe (repentance involves realizing your sinfulness and turning away from it, the Spirit’s convicting work is what makes people realize they are sinners, people do not realize they are sinners on their own). The Bible says (1 Cor. 12:3) that a person cannot confess Jesus as Lord without the Spirit (now this does not mean that I could not get a nonbeliever off the street and give him $100 to say “Jesus is Lord”, it means the Spirit gives the person understanding of who Jesus is so that they can say with understanding that Jesus is Lord and believe it). Because of these verses I conclude that the Spirit must work in a person before they become a believer. Do these things involved a supernatural work of the Spirit? I would respond with an EMPHATIC “Yes” as He is God and His work will involve the supernatural.

      We could also ask the contrary as well to make this point: what if the Spirit DID NOT CONVICT A PERSON OF THEIR SIN, DID NOT GIVE THEM THE ABILITY TO CONFESS JESUS AS LORD, could they still become a believer? I would say No.

      Phillip quotes me as saying:

      “The Spirit must impart truth to an individual or they will not be saved. Note Rodgers who was a great preacher among Southern Baptists says explicitly that it ‘takes more than preaching to get people saved’. Was Rodgers against preaching? No, definitely not. But he recognized the role of preaching, or witnessing, the Spirit uses these things to impart truth to people, to change their hearts, to enable them to have a faith response to the gospel.”

      I had been talking about how Adrian Rodgers one of the great Southern Baptist preachers, though he believed in preaching and did it well, he also believed in the preconversion work of the Spirit (i.e. that the Spirit had to do certain things in order for a person to become a believer).

      It should be noted there is no contradiction between the scripture and the work of the Spirit, in fact Orthodox Christians have always maintained that the Spirit works in and through the Word to change people.

      Phillip then writes:

      [[“Please notice the similarity between what Robert writes above and Calvinist John Hendryx writes below…..
      “This means that people need to hear the gospel in order to be saved, but we can preach till we are blue in the face and nothing will take root unless the Holy Spirit sovereignly applies that word to the heart that one might hear. To use some biblical imagery, we cast the seed of the gospel indiscriminately because the Holy Spirit alone can ‘germinate’ the word unto life in Christ. The fallow ground of our hearts must first be plowed up by God, for the soil of our heart is not good by nature, but only by grace. The seed will not find good soil until God makes it so.
      For Ezekiel the prophet says:
      ‘I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.’ (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
      Notice that this passage demonstrates that in order for obedience to take place the Lord must first cleanse our hearts, put a new spirit in us and remove our hardened uncircumcised heart. No one believes and obeys while their heart is still stone. Our blind eyes must be opened, our deaf ears unstopped, and our corrupt nature supernaturally changed by the Holy Spirit, before we can begin to have any good thoughts about Christ.””]]

      Actually what I say and what Hendryx says are very different. I am talking about the work of the Spirit in a nonbeliever (a work that can and is sometimes resisted). Hendryx is arguing for something else, that the nonbeliever must receive the Spirit via regeneration FIRST and that this regeneration then causes things to occur in the believer (and there is no resistance to this work). The way Calvinists who hold Hendrx’s view usually state it is that the “stony heart” must be changed first via regeneration into a fleshly heart and then the person will believe. I don’t believe that the person must be regenerated first in order to believe.

      The nonbeliever has the ability to believe, and their faith will be developed as the Spirit works in them.

      Phillip continues:

      “Now Robert isn’t advocating “regeneration precedes faith”. We know that.”

      Ok, then why claim that my view is similar to Hendrx’s view when Hendrx **is** talking about regeneration changing the heart to cause belief in the passages cited??

      “But he is advocating that unless a supernatural work is done to the hearts of men, no one will come to faith.”

      Ok, and would ANY OF US HERE claim that the work of the Spirit in nonbelievers IS NOT SUPERNATURAL?

      That convicting of the nonbeliever by the Spirit is that not supernatural?

      That enabling of the nonbeliever to confess Jesus as Lord is that not supernatural?

      Does Phillip even believe in the Holy Spirit?

      Is the Spirit God?

      Are His actions supernatural?

      “Both Robert and Hendryx believe in TD/TI.”

      Not true, I believe in total depravity (i.e. that sin has effected every aspect of man’s being, hence it is “total”, every part of us is corrupted by sin, which is also why we physically die). But I do not claim that the nonbeliever is unable to believe. They are certainly capable of believing after the Spirit works in them revealing their sinfulness, revealing Jesus to them, revealing the way of Salvation to them, etc. etc.

      “Both Robert and Hendryx believe the gospel, or the word of God, alone is insufficient to save lost man.”

      Yes, if a person hears the gospel BUT IS NEVER CONVICTED OF SIN BY THE SPIRIT, NEVER ENABLED TO CONFESS JESUS AS LORD BY THE SPIRIT, then they will not become Christians.
      Say a person attends an evangelistic meeting and is a nonbeliever and hears the gospel presented: can that person become a Christian if they are not convicted by the Holy Spirit of their sin?
      I am really wondering why, at this point, Phillip appears to be so against the Spirit, so against His preconversion work.

      Does Phillip deny the trinity?

      Does he believe the Spirit does not exist?

      Why doesn’t Phillip want to give credit to the Holy Spirit for what He does in nonbelievers to lead them to faith in Christ? I just don’t get it.

      And if Phillip grants that the Spirit exists, is God and does things, WHY CAN’T HE GRANT THAT THE THINGS THAT THE SPIRIT/GOD DOES *****ARE SUPERNATURAL****?????

      “Something else is required.”

      Yes, something else is required, the preconversion work of the Spirit.

      “And that something else is prevenient grace; though they differ on what that PG entails.”

      Various people call the grace that God gives to nonbelievers in leading them to faith, prevenient grace (“grace” because it is undeserved, unmerited, “prevenient” because the word means to come before, hence it is a “grace that comes before” comes before what? Conversion). Most orthodox Christians (and this also includes Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox) believe that a nonbeliever cannot come to faith without God giving them grace, without God working in them in some way. Calvinists like Hendrx believe this grace is the nonbeliever being regenerated and this regeneration then causing them to believe (I disagree with this idea). I do agree that some sort of grace must precede a person coming to faith in Christ. From talking to people about their conversion experience and from the scriptures that speak of what the Spirit does, it seems clear that the Spirit is involved in people’s conversions. Does Phillip really believe a person can become a Christian without the Spirit working in them? I find this hard to believe and yet Phillip keeps attacking the preconversion work of the Spirit.

      Phillip writes:

      [[“The apostle Paul writes to us in Romans 1:16…
      “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because IT is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…”
      But for both Robert and Hendryx, the gospel has no power without an additional supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. For them, it’s the gospel plus something else.”]]

      The problem is that Paul, the same person who wrote Romans 1:16 also wrote 1 Cor. 12:3. Paul saw no contradiction between the gospel having power and the Spirit being necessary for a person to confess Jesus as Lord. Perhaps Phillip sees a contradiction or wants to ignore scripture that does not fit his view (which apparently is that hearing the gospel alone, with the Spirit doing nothing in a person is sufficient for that person to be saved).

      “Robert, like Hendyx, believe preaching the word alone is moot (something else is necessary).
      But what does the book say?”

      The book says that the Spirit must convict people of sin (Jn. 16 again) and that the Spirit must enable a person to confess Jesus as Lord or they cannot do it (1 Cor. 12:3).

      So *****the book says***** the Spirit must work in nonbelievers or they cannot be saved.

      WHY IS PHILLIP DENYING THIS SIMPLE BIBLICAL TRUTH????

      What does Phillip have against the Spirit and His work, that he must try so hard to deny it and argue the Spirit is not needed for a person to be saved???

      I would love to hear from others why they think Phillip is so anti-Holy Spirit?

      It makes no sense to me, why a professing believer would have such strange and wrong views about the Spirit and His work.

      Like

  29. Leighton/Brian (and anyone else not named Robert),

    I have noticed that Robert has posted some comments either directed towards me or about me. I haven’t read them. So I won’t respond to anything he has written to me, or about me, simply because I have no idea what he is saying. But, rest assured, I do know how he is saying it. While I might read some of his comments directed to others from time to time, I won’t read anything addressed to me, or about me. I have been doing this for about 3 years now and the Lord has blessed me greatly for doing so.

    Blessings.

    Like

    1. Phillip out of the blue, writes this long post attacking my view on the preconversion work of the Spirit. I took the time to respond to his post.

      Now I notice that after attacking my view he writes:

      “I have noticed that Robert has posted some comments either directed towards me or about me. I haven’t read them. So I won’t respond to anything he has written to me, or about me, simply because I have no idea what he is saying.”

      This makes no sense.

      You attack someone’s view and then you will not look at their response.

      I don’t mind if someone disagrees with me, but to take the attitude that Phillip is taking is just not right. I am very clear in what I am saying for him to claim “I have no idea what he is saying” is again just wrong.

      “But, rest assured, I do know how he is saying it.”

      That makes no sense either, how would you know ***how*** I am saying something if you don’t read ***what*** I say?

      “While I might read some of his comments directed to others from time to time, I won’t read anything addressed to me, or about me.”

      Is this the way professing Christians are supposed to be conducting themselves at this blog?

      Again I am not bothered by disagreement, but someone who attacks but then refuses to look at the response. There is something wrong with that.

      I will let others be the judge of who is behaving in the right way here and who is not.

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  30. Leighton/Brian (and anyone else not named Robert),

    I just want to share with you what Robert has just recently posted to another brother in Christ at SBC Today.

    “I see that Phillip has posted some things. I am reluctant to interact with him here because I have a very negative history with him (i.e. over at Leighton Flowers website he has said I was a Pharisee, unsaved and hell bound).”

    Unbelievable and, yet, so Robert.

    How many times on this site alone have I stated that I consider Robert to be my brother in Christ?

    The guy just continues to disappoint.

    Sad.

    Like

  31. Leighton/Brian (and anyone else not named Robert),

    At SBCT Robert writes….

    “At the same time I also do not believe that TD leads to INABILITY to believe. I do however believe that apart from the pre-conversion work of the Holy Spirit…..a person CANNOT become a believer.”

    Cannot defined: an auxiliary verb expressing incapacity, inability, withholding permission, etc

    Go figure.

    Like

  32. Can prevenient grace be interpreted as the rationality, freewill and Scriptures given by God to man for his salvation? Just a thought.

    Like

    1. Can prevenient grace be interpreted as the rationality, freewill and Scriptures given by God to man for his salvation?

      The Calvinist include these as components of saving grace. However, it does indicate that Adam’s sin made people irrational and destroyed their free will – to which Arminius seems to have agreed. That a person’s free will and rationality were destroyed by Adam’s sin is objected by some (Pelagius being the most famous).

      Like

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