Jesus the Hyper-Calvinist

On more than one occasion, I have been accused of being a hyper-Calvinist, which basically means believing that, in the final analysis, man does not have free will. Or as I prefer to think of it, God is truly sovereign. The reason hyper-Calvinists are stigmatized by those on the more Arminian (free-will) end of the spectrum, is fear that hyper-Calvinism will lead to the following two errors:

  • By denying man’s free will, one denies man’s culpability for sin.
  • By denying man’s free will, one denies man’s responsibility to take action.

The hyper-Calvinist is seen as guilty of the latter, especially in that his doctrine inhibits from evangelizing (“Why bother? The elect will all be saved no matter what I do.”), and even if he does, his doctrine of monergism (God’s choice, not man’s) inhibits evangelees from believing (“Look, Mr. non-Christian, there’s elect, there’s non-elect, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you ever become a Christian, it will turn out that you’ve been elect all along, so get back to me on that if you ever do. Otherwise, good luck with the rebellion against God thing. See ya, sucka!”)

You might be interested to note that I recently discovered scriptural evidence that Jesus himself was (is) a hyper-Calvinist. Here is a passage excerpted from John 6:

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

See how that works? Stress monergism, lose converts. But if it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me, right? WWJD indeed!

Here’s what’s missing. Back up a little bit from the text that I emphasized, and we are given the reason that Jesus spoke like this: “For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.” Jesus had a reason to behave like a hyper-calvinist — a reason that nobody else can claim. I certainly can’t say that I am privy to the list of the elect, and neither can you. Therefore I (we) don’t have the right to cavalierly write off anybody as a hopeless case. Better to say:

Look, Mr. non-Christian, yes there’s elect, and there’s non-elect, but I don’t know who’s elect, and you don’t know who’s elect. In particular, we don’t know that you’re not elect. On his own, man suppresses the truth, and is incapable of recognizing the magnitude of the gap between his own sinfulness, and God’s perfection. But if you’re starting to understand how pure and holy God is, and what that holiness requires of you that you cannot accomplish, that’s evidence that the Holy Spirit is working to convict you in a way that you can’t do yourself — evidence of election! God provided the solution; Jesus’ perfect righteousness can be yours to wear like a garment, if you’ll only confess your sin and accept his atoning sacrifice.

So yes, if not believing in free will means I’m a hyper-Calvinist, then I’m a hyper-Calvinist. If I have to choose between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, I’ll choose sovereignty every time.

Addendum: It has been pointed out to me that I might not be accurately using the term “hyper-Calvinism”. What I mean in particular is determinism, and I have indeed been called a hyper-Calvinist on account of my determinism. But certainly, since hyper-Calvinism is a pejorative term (isn’t any term with hyper- a term used for somebody else? Who in their right mind would call themselves a hyper-anything?), there certainly must be many definitions out there as groups of varying degrees of hyperness all redefine the term separately to mean “more than me” (thx BST). In particular, this article I think does a good job defining five flavors of hyper-Calvinism (all heretical, and none me):

A hyper-Calvinist is someone who either:

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

Note that for #1, “call” is used Jesus’ general sense (“many are called, but few are chosen“), not Paul’s effectual sense (predestined–>called–>justified–>glorified). The article linked above also includes this mind-blowing (and right-on-the-money) concept:

The denial that faith is the sinner’s duty illustrates how hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism arise from the same false notion. The one fallacy that lies at the heart of both Arminianism and hyper-Calvinism is the erroneous assumption that human inability nullifies responsibility.

That might be a little dense to understand, so I’ll unpack it a little:

  • Thinking that the truth of man’s responsibility requires us to believe in free will, is the error of Arminianism.
  • Thinking that the truth that there is no free will requires us to believe that man bears no responsibility, is the error of Hyper-Calvinism.
  • The truth of (Calmer-)Calvinism is that man bears full responsibility for his sins, even though it is only God’s sovereign grace that determines whether he’ll be able to faith his way out of them.

Anyways, using those 5 definitions, it turns out that I am not a hyper-Calvinist (nor is Jesus!). So probably a more accurate title for this post would be “Jesus the monergist.” But who would want to read that?

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163 Responses

  1. Rube,
    You know what the defintion of “hyper” is right? It is “anyone more than I am.”

    BST

  2. Uh oh. So “I AM more than I AM”? Hopefully not blasphemy, but that certainly leads to problems of infinite regress!

  3. Is this your idea of putting out a fire by starting another one?

  4. His blog does appear to be a series of controlled explosions. Yay for RubeRad.

  5. Reuben relaxes in his lawnchair cradling a hot chocolate, and THROWS ANOTHER BOMB ON THE FIRE!

  6. I’m not seeing any disagreement, so I must be right…

  7. God is sovereign over the free actions of men. The Word is clear. God is sovereign and man chooses. Of God’s eternal decree, the WCF states,

    God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

    Did you catch that last part? Man’s liberty is not taken away by God’s sovereignty, but rather established. This means that God’s sovereignty is the key to man’s ability to freely make decisions. This is because if God is not sovereign over one square inch of the universe, then that square inch will be ruled by randomness/chaos. Therefore, if God is not sovereign over man’s will, then man is merely the sum of his genes and experiences and everything he “chooses” becomes nothing more than the necessary result of those conditions.

  8. Oh dear. Look at me. I’m totally invading this blog and I didn’t mean to. I just can’t help it. Maybe someone can start a topic about why we feel compelled to speak on blogs. Maybe I just like to hear myself talk. I suspect that’s a problem I have.

    With that disclaimer having been said, please allow me to explore this topic with you.

    You know, when I first heard about election, it totally changed my life. After not having any interest in church for about 8 years or so, this doctrine woke me up to the fact that I didn’t know everything. When I heard it, I knew it was true. When I heard it, I knew that I was right to be dissatisfied with the churches I had been previously attending. When I heard it, I knew that THIS was what those churches had failed to tell me. When I heard it, I was knocked off my high horse, and began to be humble before a sovereign God.

    Despite this, I don’t recommend approaching a non-believer with this doctrine. Better to talk about the Gospel first, and let this sink in later in discipleship. By discipleship I mean that which is conducted by the Church through the preaching of the Word, perhaps Sunday School and Bible studies, but primarily preaching. Maturity comes in time. You don’t need to understand election to be saved. It is something every Christian ought to look into, but for some people, it just is very hard to accept. Heck, it’s hard to accept for everyone I suppose.

    Anyway, if you ask me, and you kind of did by making it possible for me to read this and add my reply, I think the Bible teaches both man’s free will and God’s sovereignty. I think Ron here is right on the money. And he’s obviously a more talented writer than I am, since he can say it so concisely and eloquently.

    And of course, the Westminster Confession, once again, is precisely correct that God’s sovereignty is exactly what establishes our free will. But what does that mean?

    A wise man explained it to me like this. (Note: this is not my opinion, but that of a very wise and respected theologian, who will remain nameless, since I may butcher what he said, and I furthermore don’t feel like I have any real right to speak for him. But I’m simply saying that it’s not my own view for the sake of humility. I didn’t come up with this way of explaining it.)

    So on the one hand you’ve got the sovereignty of God, and on the other man’s freedom. Think of these like two pies. The Arminian says that God gives us a little slice of His pie. The Hyper-Calvinist (a term I am grossly uncomfortable with, because it’s kind of like saying that it’s too much truth) on the other hand says that God has the whole pie, and we just think we’re eating pie. The slice that the Arminian perceives to be his own is just an illusion.

    Now along come the reformers, such as Calvin. (Which is why I don’t like the term hyper-Calvinist; I mean, what, do these folks agree too much with Calvin? Are they more Calvin than Calvin? But whatever, we all know who we mean.) The reformers said that God has His pie, and He has all of it, and we have our pie, and we have all of it. Confounding?

    Not really. A helpful concept here is that of “analogy”. Here’s what I mean. We are made in the image of God. We are like little pictures of God. That doesn’t mean we are God, it means that in some ways, we are LIKE God. While He is infinite, we are finite. Nonetheless, we are like a little picture of Him, in a finite sense. But how exactly do we picture Him? Well, we don’t really know. After all, God is infinite, so it’s not like we could see Him. I mean, if we could see Him, that would mean that He would be bound by space and time, and that doesn’t make any sense, since these things are laws of the universe which He created. I mean, I can’t even see the entire earth all at once, so how could I imagine that I could see God? Nonetheless, in some way that we will never fully understand, we are like a little picture of God. We are an analogy of Him. We can’t understand Him fully, but we can know a little bit about Him by understanding that we are analogous to Him.

    So for example, if I get angry, that tells me that somehow, God can get angry. But, of course, His getting angry is not the same as my getting angry. I get angry because I am reacting to new information. Someone cuts me off, I respond in anger. I didn’t know they were going to do that! God is timeless however. He doesn’t react to new information. He already knew what would happen. So my anger and God’s anger must be different somehow. But somehow they are similar, because I get angry, and the Bible says that God gets angry. Nonetheless, these are not exactly the same.

    So God is sovereign and I have free will. Since I have free will, I know God must have free will. But I know that His free will is not the same as my free will. After all, if God wills something, it comes to pass. Usually when I will something to happen it doesn’t, and I walk away frustrated. God is never frustrated. He wills something to come to pass and it becomes reality. His will is creative. Mine is not. His will is eternal and unchanging. Mine changes constantly. My free will and God’s free will are not alike, but they aren’t entirely different. My free will is an analogy to God’s free will.

    So let’s reverse this, remembering that we are images of God, not the other way around. God is sovereign. He always gets His way. God is independent, uncreated, unchanging, eternal, perfectly righteous and good and true. I am NONE of those things, and those things affect how we should understand our free will in comparison to God’s.

    So I have free will precisely because God is sovereign, and I am made in His image. I am not sovereign in an eternal, independent way, but I have free will in a temporal, DEPENDENT way.

    The problem that both the Arminian and the hyper-Calvinist have is that they think that our free will is (or would be if we had it) the same as God’s. It isn’t the same. It’s an analogy. It’s similar but different in ways we won’t ever fully understand.

    In philosophy, when they talk about free will, they talk about determinism and indeterminism.

    You see, determinists are fatalists, like hyper-Calvinists. Everything, they say, is determined already, everything has a cause; so the chain of causation is infinite. So the root cause of everything stretches back to before I was born. The cause for everything I do is way back beyond my birth in eternity, so I have no free will. It is an illusion.

    Indeterminists, on the other hand, say that nothing is determined, but everything is random. Everything is uncaused. Thus we have free will.

    The only way you can really object to the determinist is to undermine causation. You can say that causation doesn’t exist, or that it doesn’t necessarily have a direction. In other words, the future might cause what takes place in the past. I suppose you could say that when event A causes event B, they both cause each other to take place, but that wouldn’t really help you defeat the determinist. Ultimately, you have to say that there really is no such thing as causation, that this is an illusion. David Hume went this route, but became a complete skeptic and agnostic, so I don’t recommend that.

    So what the philosophical world is left with is determinism. There really is no escaping it. I mean, indeterminists think that the world is ruled by chaos, so there’s no free will there either, just chaos and randomness. You really can’t accept causation as reality and reject determinism.

    But the philosophical world doesn’t like this. If everything has a cause, after all, then fatalists are right! Nothing matters because it’s already predetermined!

    So let me ask you: isn’t it true that every event has a cause? If that is true, then does that mean to you that nothing really matters?

    Let’s say you accept this. You accept that everything has a cause, and therefore everything is predetermined. Does that mean you shouldn’t bother studying? If you don’t study and you flunk your test, isn’t the cause of your flunking that you didn’t study? Doesn’t what you do matter? The problem with those who say that determinism means that everything is predetermined, and therefore nothing matters, is that they think that the grade you will get on the test is already predetermined, so therefore why study? That’s what arises in most of our minds, but if you think about it, this is kind of stupid. Sure, your grade is already predetermined, but if you don’t study, you won’t do as well as if you had studied. Your grade is predetermined, but so is whether or not you’ll study. If you don’t study, you won’t do well, but you won’t do well NOT simply because it was predetermined, but because you didn’t study. The means through which you get there are part of what determines where you end up.

    Let’s put it another way. Let’s say I’m choosing whether or not to have peperoni pizza or sausage. Now, I hate peperoni pizza, because the grease for some reason gives me indigestion. So I’ll choose sausage every time. Did I make this choice of my own free will? Sure, you say, you chose sausage because you like it better. True enough, but what I like was determined by my body, which is a matter of my DNA and other factors. I mean, maybe peperoni gives me indigestion because it gives my father indigestion, and I’ve inherited his sensitive stomach. And maybe he got it from his father, and he got it from his father, and so on. Maybe Adam and Eve would have chosen sausage too. The point is, my choice is determined by my preferences, and that’s a matter of genetic makeup. So really it isn’t my choice after all.

    But when I choose the sausage pizza, I still do so of my own free will. No one has put a gun to my head. No one has coerced me into choosing sausage. I, and I alone chose sausage.

    This is what free will truly is. Free will does not mean uncaused. Thus we have another philosophical position, called “Compatibilism”. Compatibilism says that determinism and free will are compatible. They simply redefine free will, and say that just because there are causes of your choices does not mean that you are not free to choose.

    So free will is exercised when you and you alone make your decision, based on your own preferences, hopes, dreams, desires, etc. These things may have a cause, but that’s who you are. You are not an uncaused being. You are not God. You are not independent. You are dependent. Upon whom? Upon God. If God had not created you, you would not exist. If God did not continue to determine that you should go on living, you won’t. God has appointed you a certain lifespan and has made you a certain way.

    You do have free will. But you are not God. You are not sovereign, you are not autonomous, you are not independent. You are dependent, created, finite. Your free will is given to you by God.

    So the Westminster Confession is right after all. God’s creative power and sustaining providence establishes our free will because we are made in His image, and He is utterly sovereign, and He has made us to picture that here on planet earth.

  9. Hi Echo, how’s it going? If you feel uncomfortable, try firing off small salvos and waiting to see the response? If you write very long tracts, many are unlikely to read the whole thing properly, and you’ll find yourself railing against disagreements with points that you think you made, but didn’t because they weren’t digested. I bet you have interesting things to say, but I can’t tell because I don’t have long chunks of time available for blogging. Is it easier to write than read?

  10. Is this your idea of putting out a fire by starting another one?

    If RubeRad gets enough simultaneous controversy going, he can nab another Best Day Ever!

  11. No one has put a gun to my head. No one has coerced me into choosing sausage. I, and I alone chose sausage.

    It’s moments like this one that make our discussions so colorful. :-)

    I appreciate your final paragraphs, Echo_breveR, especially your discussion of “Compatibilism.” It seems to square pretty closely with my own reconciliation of predestination and free will … which I’ll probably blog about soon. In the meantime, you may enjoy the ironies teased out by this old post of mine:

    theforester.net: Who Decides the Important Stuff?

  12. Despite this, I don’t recommend approaching a non-believer with this doctrine. Better to talk about the Gospel first, and let this sink in later in discipleship.

    By logical extension, perhaps better to get saved into a church full of modern evanjellyfish (because seeker-sensitive types are so good at selling to seekers), and after a time, the elect will grow dissatisfied with shallow doctrine and “graduate” to a reformed church? As have I and countless others (I’ll go ahead and name names, speaking for other participants of this blog: Bruce, Mike S, Ron, Jeff, Forester?…)?

    Echo, I think you end up at the same point I did: “determinism. There really is no escaping it.” As for whether “determinism” equals “no free will”, I think it probably gets down to definition of terms. If you’re careful, I guess it’s possible to define free will in a way that accounts for determinism (which is what most of your comment works towards). But it’s certainly not intuitive.

    At one point you say “Since I have free will…”; that’s really just an assertion on your part, no doubt based on your experience (don’t make me start quoting yourself about theology based on experience)! God’s sovereignty is not our direct experience (else there would never be any Arminians!), yet we understand clearly that God is sovereign from scripture.

  13. Note that I have added an Addendum to the original post…

  14. Echo,

    I read it, but boy oh boy! I will ‘echo’ LimeJelly now and suggest you keep them shorter. Until you showed up, I was the one with the long posts (see all the Theonomy threads and start from the beginning).

    Anyway, I believe I agree with your resolutions (and Ron’s). God predestines the free actions of man. I freely choose what my nature compels me to choose. :)

    Jeff

  15. Man is not a robot, you hyper-calvinists! What about all the “whosoever wills” passages?

    By your logic, it doesn’t matter what a man chooses because God’s already got everything all lined up and decided ahead of time. If God has already decided the outcome of the next [insert your favorite team name] football game, then why should they bother practicing?

    I almost wrote “Chargers” there for your favorite team, knowing that all right-thinking people would favor them…but since you think we’re robots without free will, I can’t be sure you think rightly about football either.

  16. I don’t know that I totally agree with ME, problem is that if you acknowledge that God is omniscient and Eternal then he knows everything that will be. So the Charger game is predestined either way there is nothing that can change the Chargers 38 to 16 victory over the Browns but it still going to be a heck of a lot of fun to watch.

  17. Man is not a robot, you hyper-calvinists!

    Can a robot perceive that he is a robot?

    What about all the “whosoever wills” passages?

    Indeed, what about every command in scripture? Why would God command us to do this or don’t do that, if we had no choice in the matter — if we had no ability to obey? Oh that’s right, man doesn’t have any ability to obey! “Whosoever wills” only wills if the Holy Spirit regenerates them to be able to desire God!

    By your logic, it doesn’t matter what a man chooses

    Note the critically important fine print that human inability to choose does not nullify the consequences following from his choice. What man chooses definitely matters!

  18. I was hoping you would answer correctly the question, “…then why should they bother practicing?” The answer is: because if they don’t practice they’ll probably lose the game.

    God has predestined all things, even secondary causes.

  19. God has ordained that at this point, I say “Amen!”

  20. ME,

    Re: 18

    I had already made that point in the ridiculously long post above that no one read because of its length.

    E

  21. Echo,

    #14, ‘I’ read it. :)

    Jeff

  22. WHEN I WAS JUST A CHILD I ASKED MY MOTHER WHAT I WOULD BE
    WILL I BE RICH, OR WILL I BE PRETTY?
    THIS IS WHAT SHE TOLD ME.

    QUE SERA, SERA,
    WHATEVER WILL BE, WILL BE
    THE FUTURE’S NOT OURS, YOU SEE
    QUE SERA, SERA

  23. Evolution, Morpheus, evolution, like the dinosaur. Look out that window. You had your time. The future is our world, Morpheus. The future is our time.

  24. The Fix is In?
    by Albino Hayford

    Dedicated to John Calvin
    Who can no longer burn me at the stake

    Did God make me a robot
    With no free will to choose?
    Is life fixed from the get-go
    Is it just a mindless cruise?

    Does God just play and tease me
    When He offers me a choice?
    Or does He grin and chuckle
    With a Vegas dealers’ voice

    “The fix is in, my boy
    You never had a chance
    To choose me or reject me
    You all are potted plants”

    Oh no, my friend, the Savior
    Is not who you believe
    His will and heart’s desire
    Is that all of us receive

    But we may walk away
    And choose the other path
    And with our eyes wide open
    Taste the judge’s wrath
    Amen.

    ———————————
    He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
    2 Peter 3:9b

  25. Westminster Shorter Catechism:

    Q11: What are God’s works of providence?
    A11: God’s works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

    Q12: What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created?
    A12: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.

    Q13: Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
    A13: Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

    Free will AND divine providence. Look at that. And no, they weren’t stupid. They knew what the words meant. Scripture teaches both.

  26. Unregenerate man will never choose the Christ of the Bible. The gospel is foolishness and Christ is a stumbling block to him. Each individual must be given a new heart and a new nature (a new birth) before he even sees the kingdom of God. He must be made a new creature before he will choose Christ.

    Lay before a hungry wolf a freshly killed lamb and a freshly tossed spinach salad, and give him the freedom to choose between them. He will always go to the fresh meat and never to the greens. Although his will is free, it is bound by his nature as a wolf. He will always choose as a wolf. Now, if you turn him into a sheep…

    Echo, I confess I didn’t read your entire post. I like what I did read of yours, but you need to compress your thoughts more if you want everyone to get them in this format. I’ll give you an example: this is only the third (short) paragraph and I’ve already lost most readers. Anything I say will go unnoticed by most. I can say that the man without melanin is a decent poet for a tongues-talking gibberish lover, and that Ruberad is a decent violinist for someone who never practices (I wonder how good he would be if he ever applied himself), and neither one of them would receive the compliments.

    And, by the way, I don’t think Calvin would necessarily BURN you, Albino. Your theological errors, while serious, only merit medium rare at the stake.

  27. If any one says that man’s free will moved and excited by God, by assenting to God’s work of exciting and calling, in no way co-operates towards disposing and preparing itself for obtaining the grace of justification or says that it cannot refuse its consent, if it would, but that, as something inanimate, it does nothing whatever and is merely passive, whoever holds that view can go to hell.

    Furthermore,if any one says that, since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing with only a name, a name without a reality, a mere figment [of our imagination], he can go to hell too.

  28. I think I am safe from hell then; simply because I couldn’t possibly say either of those things.

  29. FATALISM – NOUN: 1. The doctrine that all events are predetermined by fate and are therefore unalterable. 2. Acceptance of the belief that all events are predetermined and inevitable.

    DETERMINISM – NOUN: The philosophical doctrine that every state of affairs, including every human event, act, and decision is the inevitable consequence of antecedent states of affairs.
    ——————————————
    You sell the Bible short if you oversimplify it. Don’t make Jesus a deterministic fatalist.

  30. What we have learned from Bruce is that there is usually more than meets the eye behind each commentary. I expect him to further elucidate us shortly.

  31. Pastor John Piper emphasizes the “total depravity” of man with this I’m Bad remix.

  32. Alright. The quote was from the Council of Trent, which as you all know is the effort by Rome to counter the reformation. It convened in 1545 and lasted 18 years. The language is modeled after Gal 1:8 and Gal 1:9. There is a little debate as to what the original word anathema means, for which I have provided the catchy “go to hell”. Reading Paul, (or any decent Greek lexicon) who uses the word anathema quite a bit, it should be plain that going to hell is what he had in mind.

    This particular snippet was directed at Martin Luther’s thesis which he advanced in his “Bondage of the Will” and which is ably clarified by ME above.

  33. We are looking at two sides of the same coin. Election is God’s side, free will is our side. Someone once said that as we enter life, we see emblazoned over the gateway the words “Whosoever will may come”; then as we enter and look back at the backside of the same gateway, we see inscribed what the words “Elect from the foundation of the earth”. Election is God’s side of the coin we call salvation, human responsibility is our side.

    God knows everything, therefore nothing surprises Him. Thus He knows who will accept and reject Him through their free will. Those who accept are the elect, those who reject are the non-elect. D.L. Moody – “whosoever wills are the elect, and the whosoever wont’s are the non-elect”. Every person who is not saved will have only himself to blame; God will not send anyone to hell, but many people will choose to go there by exercising their free will to reject Christ.

    No one who is saved will be able to take any of the credit. Our salvation, from start to finish, is 100% God’s work, and is based entirely on the finished work of the Cross. We were dead in sins, destined for hell, when God in His grace, drew us to Himself, convinced us of our sin and our need for a Savior, and gave us the authority to call Jesus Lord.

    Do I understand this? No. Those eager to logically explain God’s severeignty and man’s free will, forget it! How can man be absolutely free and God absolutely sovereign and directive simultaneously? How can salvation be entirely God’s work, yet require the cooperation of mere men simultaneously? These are unanswerable questions ultimately. The Bible teaches both the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. It teaches what appears to be unconditional perseverance in some places and conditional perseverance in others. These things can never be intellectually reconciled because God is simply too big for us to understand. Both systems of theology emphasize one set of Scriptures while either ignoring or drastically twisting and explaining away others.

    Albino’s answer: Preach the Gospel, not a system. Often we preach like Arminianists (“Come to Jesus, accept Him today, don’t say no to the Savior”) and pray like Calvinists (“Oh, God, draw him to Yourself, reach him, save him, pour out your mercy on him”), and both are Biblical. Jesus died for all of us and desires fellowship with all of us. Whosoever will may come and receive of His forgiveness and grace and salvation. God’s election excludes no one; Jesus’ atonement includes everyone.

    When asked how he reconciled the sovereignty of God and the free choice of man, Pastor Charles Spurgeon responded, “I don’t need to, because friends don’t need to be reconciled.”

    Rather than interpreting the Bible based on any theological or philosophical structure, it behooves us to simply read and believe the Word of God. As we teach the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation, verse by verse, in context, we will at times sound like staunch Calvinists, preaching those passages which emphasize God’s sovereignty, while at other times we will seem like devout Arminianists, as we preach those passages which emphasize man’s responsibility. The key to successful ministry is balance – to stay focused on the Word of God, and not become distracted by the doctrines of men.

  34. @Albino: You define “FATALISM” and “DETERMINISM” as if they were bad things.

    Don’t make Jesus a deterministic fatalist.

    In John 6, Jesus behaved understandably fatalistically (not making any attempt to win back the fairweather disciples), given his inside information into the deterministic future. My whole point is that we do not have that same right.

    And even though Jesus does have free will (since he is omnipotent God), when a man, he behaved as subject to the Father’s ordained plan: Matt 26:39.

    As for us mortals, the illusion of free will, and a Bible full of commandments, are enough for me to avoid a fatalistic attitude. God commands, and despite the fact that the future is already predestined and known by him, I am still responsible to obey. It all hinges on the fact (which I tried to draw out in the original post, but I guess it didn’t work), that Jesus knew the future, but I don’t know the future. Thus Jesus is entitled to behave in apparently fatalistic ways that I am not entitled to.

  35. “illusion” of free will? Commands like, “Resist not the Holy Spirit.”?

    If we really have no choice, what makes us different that puppets or robots? Forced love sucks. Jesus woos us, but does not force us. He is not some sick mad scientist who creates a frankenstien who only says “yes” to Him. He weeps over us, just like he wept over Jerusalem, longing to hold them in His arms, but they would not.

    “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” Jesus calls, but we must answer.

    I know all the election and predestination verses, but I think you have “chosen” to ignore the free will verses in the Bible.

    Ed Silvoso, Argentinian Evangelist, says, “Do you want to hear God’s heartbeat? Come in close and put your head on his chest. This is what you will hear: all saved…none perish…all saved…none perish.” Amen.

  36. I thought the door knocking verse was written to the church. This discussion is about the “transition” from unbeliever to believer. Go sit in a corner for 10 minutes and read John 6:29 and Gal 1:9 1000 times fast.

    And where is the address for the “resist not the Holy Spirit” I have an old Bible. Maybe the newer ones have it?

  37. I’ll try not to make this too long.

    Deuteronomy 29:29
    The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

    This comes at one of the many points in time where our gracious God is yet again renewing the Covenant with His people and outlining some of the Covenant’s attendant blessings for faithfulness and curses for unfaithfulness. Those are “the things revealed”.

    But what are the secret things of God? Election? Regeneration? In this context I believe He speaks of those who will continue in faithfulness to the Covenant and be blessed and those who will forsake the Covenant and be cursed (see chapter 28).

    Our problem here is that we attempt to view the things revealed through the dim lens of the secret things of God when we ought to view those secret things (election, regeneration, etc.) through the clear and revealed lens of the Covenant. This is why all baptized brethren are regarded as regenerate in the eyes of Paul. (see Titus 3:5) Does Paul know who is and who is not regenerate? Not likely. Does he believe that the work of the Holy Spirit is restricted to the point of baptism? Certainly not. But he acknowledges that baptism is a sign of that work and that all who bear that sign are regarded as regenerate brethren. He views the secret things through the lens of those things revealed.

  38. And where is the address for the “resist not the Holy Spirit”

    Acts 7:51
    “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.

    Note how Stephen says their fathers resisted the Holy Spirit. He speaks of the Old Covenant unfaithful here, like those who fell in the desert following the exodus out of Egypt. And here we thought their problem was that they didn’t have the Holy Spirit…

  39. And before anyone doubts that Paul has baptism in mind in Titus 3:5

    By the washing of regeneration I have no doubt that he alludes, at least, to baptism, and even I will not object to have this passage expounded as relating to baptism…

    and

    God does not sport with us by unmeaning figures, but inwardly accomplishes by his power what he exhibits by the outward sign; and therefore, baptism is fitly and truly said to be “the washing of regeneration.” The efficacy and use of the sacraments will be properly understood by him who shall connect the sign and the thing signified, in such a manner as not to make the sign unmeaning and inefficacious, and who nevertheless shall not, for the sake of adorning the sign, take away from the Holy Spirit what belongs to him. Although by baptism wicked men are neither washed nor renewed, yet it retains that power, so far as relates to God, because, although they reject the grace of God, still it is offered to them.

    Whoa. The grace of God is offered to the wicked in baptism? *gasps* What heretic said that? =)

  40. Rev. 3:20 is indeed written to the church…duh…Come on, Bruce, give me a little benefit of the doubt here — I guess we don’t lose our “free will” to open the door to Christ even after salvation,huh?

    Ok, you got me…it doesn’t literally say “resist not the Holy Spirit, but Stephen, in his famous sermon before he was martyred told the Jews, “You’re just like your fathers — you always resist the Holy Spirit.” and in Hebrews 3:15 we are told, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”

    No, God really has given us the free will to say “no” to God if we choose.

    Again, FORCED LOVE SUCKS.

    You Calvinists just don’t convince me that you have a neat little airtight system. Not buying the koolaid and not drinking the koolaid.

  41. You Calvinists just don’t convince me that you have a neat little airtight system.

    Jim, you say that like you aren’t a Calvinist. You may not fancy the label, but your comments on this thread (especially #33) are fully consistent with historic Calvinism (of the pre-Second Reformation sort). Unfortunately, Calvinism after Calvin (sometime around 17th century Dutch Puritanism) became more deterministic and thus very passive (perhaps Que Cera, Cera was a hymn they sang – oh wait, they were against hymn singing. Come to think of it, they were pretty much against everything).

    Calvin strove to implement weekly Communion, believing Christ’s presence to be very real in the elements (though not physical) and thus viewed the Supper as an instrument of God’s grace. That is not the view of a determinist. The Dutch reformed church viewed it as too romish and many celebrated the meal quarterly and some annually. But if God has everything planned out, what difference does it make, right?

    Wisdom is vindicated by her children. Perhaps this is why the Puritans are no more.

  42. Ok, Ron…NOW I’M A CALVINIST? Wow. Could have fooled me. You guys must have a HUGE tent that would fit me in (insert your favorite fat joke here). I don’t buy irresistable grace, I’m not drinking that hideous limited atonement brew, and I’m not fully convinced of perserverence of the saints (although as I grow older, I’m leaning that direction). So how am I a Calvinist?

    Actually it annoys me to be forced to define myself according to somebody else’s theology. That would be like me starting “Albninian Institutes” and classifying all of you as “Anti-Albinian.”

    Ok, you have piqued my interest. Please tell me more (and I’m not being sarcastic here).

  43. Forced love sucks.

    How do you know? Our ability to love God is 100% predicated on whether he graciously reveals himself to us. Anyone without that grace persists in their enmity of God, and is unable to choose their way out of it. Anyone to whom God grants the grace to truly see his greatness cannot help but respond. “You gotta love him!” Personally, I’m eternally grateful that God forced me to love him.

    Jesus woos us, but does not force us.

    Jesus didn’t force those mentioned in John 6:66 (let’s not speculate about the numerology) — and he didn’t woo them either.

    You guys must have a HUGE tent that would fit me in (insert your favorite fat joke here)

    Ummmm, how about “That tent would only be able to fit one of you two at a time?”

  44. Albino’s right, we have free will. Although, I’m not sure he understands free will properly. Free will is not autonomy.

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

    Our free will is subject to God. He is our Creator and Sustainer.

    Heb 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

    “he upholds the universe by the word of his power”.

    You would not be able to take your next breath were it not for the word of his power that brings it about. This is NOT inconsistent with free will. Free will is not independence from God. It is not autonomy.

    Westminster Shorter Catechism:
    Q7: What are the decrees of God?
    A7: The decrees of God are, his eternal purpose, according to the counsel of his will, whereby, for his own glory, he hath fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.

    That’s what it means for God to be the Creator and upholder of all things.

    Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

    How could “all things work together for good” for us if God was not in control of all things? For example, does “all things” include our decisions? Have you ever made a bad decision that God used for your good later on? I have. the Bible makes this claim right here. Don’t try to define “all things” as something other than “ALL THINGS”. All things means all things. God created all things, and he works all things together for our good. He is in control of all things.

    Westminster Shorter:

    Q31: What is effectual calling?
    A31: Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

    The Spirit renews our wills. See the verse from Phil above.

    Even Jesus, God incarnate, was subject to God’s decrees and providence:

    Act 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
    28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

    And that about sums it up. Everything is controlled and planned by God, even Jesus’ murder at the hands of the Jews and the Romans. Predestined is the Bible’s word.

    But that doesn’t harm our free will. It’s not that the Bible contradicts itself. It might seem a bit paradoxical, but it isn’t provided you don’t think that free will means that you’re independent of God.

    You can never be independent of God, but only dependent. You are not autonomous. You are ruled by God.

    “Forced love…”

    God COMMANDS US to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength. If we do not obey this command, he sends us to hell forever. Is this compulsion?

    But why shouldn’t we love him? Take a look around. God gave you that. All the wonderful things in this life that we have – God gave you that. God gave you your very existence. It doesn’t even make sense to hate him. But that’s what we’ve done. We’ve hated him, and thus we sinned. Loving him is righteousness, sin is hating him. “Friendship with the world is hatred (or enmity) towards God.” Don’t hate God by loving the world. Embrace him for what he has done for you.

    But you won’t embrace him without the Spirit first working in your heart to conquer your sin, because your sin demands that you rebel against God in hatred. And you can’t and won’t get over that unless the Spirit FIRST quickens your heart to be receptive to his message. Again, see the verse above from Phil. It is God who works in us both the will and the doing. He causes us to WANT to do it, and he causes us to do it.

  45. Test post. I have been trying to post here, but to no avail.

  46. FORCED LOVE

    I do love Jesus. He means everything to me. But I could have walked away and not accepted his love. That’s what free will is. And I can still be disobedient to Him even now. That’s what makes Jesus so awesome. He didn’t create us as ROBOTS or PUPPETS, but with a soul; and the freedom to choose, like Adam and Eve. He doesn’t want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”, but we must receive Him (“as many as received Him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name”).

    No robot, frankenstein, pre-programmed love here. Not drinking your hideous “limited atonement” brew, and not buying your “irresistable grace” smoothy either. NEWSFLASH: Calvin did not tie it up all in a neat bow for you. Read the Bible for itself, not through your TULIP indoctrination.

  47. First – We are all in the same tent here, brothers. It is a big tent, and it’s only getting bigger. Someday, it will stretch from sea to sea, like a big mountain that covers the whole earth. (Isaiah 54:2-3; Psalm 72:8; Daniel 2:35)

    Second – Jim, on limited or particular atonement: If Jesus satisfied the wrath of God toward all men, then how is it that anyone goes to hell? You are not a universalist are you? Once you understand that Christ came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:68; John 10:11), and that He intercedes to the Father on behalf of them alone (John 17:9,20), the other four points are inevitable.
    The Lord Jesus has no mistresses. He gave and gives Himself for His Bride alone. (Ephesians 5:25-26)

  48. Albino,

    Re: post 46

    You said, “NEWSFLASH: Calvin did not tie it up all in a neat bow for you. Read the Bible for itself, not through your TULIP indoctrination.”

    I say, why do you have to INSIST on attacking me personally and not interacting with what I said? I just don’t understand these kinds of outburts. As if you are trying to correct me, you tell us that we are not robots or whatever, but that we have free will.

    You must have missed it. I said, “Albino’s right, we have free will.” That wasn’t buried deep in the heart of a 10 page post that you only skimmed because your time was too valuable. They were the very FIRST words of my post!

    As for the charge that I cannot read the Bible for myself, don’t you see me quoting the Bible? Indeed, I quoted the Westminster Confession of Faith, but that is not John Calvin, and their theology is just a bit more sophisticated than a simple acronym (TULIP).

    But why do you seem to have the high and mighty attitude that you and you alone are the only person who knows how to read the Bible for himself? Why do you seem to want us to believe that no one has ever taught you ANYTHING about the Bible? Is that what you want for the people in YOUR church? Do you want them to never listen to a single WORD you say? I don’t know what kind of standard of biblical interpretation you expect the rest of us to use, but do you suppose that no one and nothing in this world has had any influence on how YOU read the Bible?

    Even IF I believe something about what the Bible says ONLY because Calvin told me to, is that a valid argument to discredit what I am saying? Is it some commonly accepted notion that everything Calvin said was heretical? I for one am not convinced, and it is quite falacious to assert that JUST because I’m saying the SAME thing Calvin said that I MUST be wrong, and apparently an idiot.

    Don’t you realize that what you are saying is actually quite foolish? But if you want to see it from the Bible, with NO COMMENT, very well. You read these passages and decide for yourself if I am brainwashed to discover the sovereignty of God in salvation in them. Go ahead:

    Joh 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

    Act 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

    Act 22:10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’

    Act 22:14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth;

    Rom 13:2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

    1Co 12:28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

    1Ti 2:7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

    2Ti 1:11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher,

    Heb 5:5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”;

    Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

    Rom 9:10 And not only so, but also when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac,
    Rom 9:11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call–
    Rom 9:12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”
    Rom 9:13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
    Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
    Rom 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
    Rom 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
    Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
    Rom 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
    Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
    Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?
    Rom 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
    Rom 9:23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory–

    Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
    Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
    Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
    Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

    Joh 6:43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves.
    Joh 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

    Joh 6:61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?
    Joh 6:62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
    Joh 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
    Joh 6:64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)
    Joh 6:65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

    Joh 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
    Joh 10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
    Joh 10:16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

    Joh 10:24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
    Joh 10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,
    Joh 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.
    Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
    Joh 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
    Joh 10:29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
    Joh 10:30 I and the Father are one.”

    Joh 17:1 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you,
    Joh 17:2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.
    Joh 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
    Joh 17:4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.
    Joh 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
    Joh 17:6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.
    Joh 17:7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you.
    Joh 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
    Joh 17:9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.
    Joh 17:10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.
    Joh 17:11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

    Rom 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
    Rom 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
    Rom 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

  49. Albino,

    The question is not whether what I am claiming is in Scripture. The question is, how MUCH Scripture do you want to see it in?

  50. Love you, Echo.

  51. Albino,

    I’m not sure how to interpret your last post #50.

    You said, “Love you, Echo.”

    What does this mean? Does this mean that you are admitting to being wrong and that you are sorry? Does this mean you feel sorry for me?

    I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what I think it means, and if that’s not the message that you’re sending, then feel free to correct me.

    I think this should be interpreted as sent in a condescending way. You are saying, “Oh, Echo, *sigh*. You are so childish and naive. I’m so much better than you. I will look down from my place that is higher than you, and I will pity you, and smile at you, pat you on the head, and tell you ‘love you’. Then I tell you to run along, because your complaint is worthy of no more an answer than that.”

    Furthermore, you are saying that you are not apologizing for saying that just because I’m saying the same thing that Calvin did that I am a Calvinized, brain washed robot who doesn’t know how to read the Bible for himself, but who can only parrot the obviously incorrect thoughts of others. After all, if I thought for myself, which by the way is always far superior than allowing others to instruct me, I would have surely come to the exact same conclusions you have, because of course, they’re true and correct, and anyone who is untainted by brainwashers like John Calvin can clearly see that.

    If that were not enough, your little “love you Echo” seems to be your own vindication in your eyes, and is supposed to grant you the moral high ground in the eyes of those who are reading this thread. Everyone is supposed to read my post and say, “wow, that guy is really irritated”, and then read your post and say, “Wow, that guy is so far above bickering, he has Echo’s best interests at heart. He just wants to love him.”

    Well, you know what?

    For your sake, I hope my interpretation is totally off base. I doubt it is, but I hope it is. I hope you explain to me that that’s not what you meant.

    There can be no convincing me that that’s not what you meant, however, short of you admitting that your accusation was ridiculous. It WAS ridiculous. And I’m not mad because you insulted me, I’m mad – and yes, I’m mad, and I’m not ashamed to admit it – I’m mad because you had the absolute audacity to make such an outrageous claim. Your claim is ridiculous and an affront to the Word of God.

    God has told us that it is HE who has given us pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets, etc (Eph 4) as gifts to help us grow in maturity! And you say, “NEWSFLASH: Calvin did not tie it up all in a neat bow for you. Read the Bible for itself, not through your TULIP indoctrination.”

    Yep, for you, you advocate people just sitting in the corner by themselves reading the Bible. That and ONLY THAT is the measure of truth. Why on earth has God given us preachers? Why on earth should anyone go and listen to you preach?

    What you said was extremely smug and hypocritical and contrary to the Scriptures. And your little “Love you Echo” makes it even worse.

    I am absolutely appalled.

    You’re supposed to be a pastor!

  52. Albino,

    Just a reminder, here’s how you responded to me after I posted on here the first time, and spent quite a lot of effort to say everything I wanted to say, so as to be comprehensive.

    Albino Hayford Says:
    October 27th, 2006 at
    I don’t need sleeping pills when I have these seminarians. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz But when you’re not a pastor, I guess you don’t have to keep people awake. Mr. Echo, please make a long story short; your blog was longer than the entire canon. :-)

    If you were wondering why I interpreted your words the way I did, now you know. You might want to take a look at the following verses…

    Mat 12:33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.
    Mat 12:34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
    Mat 12:35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
    Mat 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,
    Mat 12:37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

    Jam 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

  53. Albino,

    Here are some more of your lovely comments to me.

    “Finally, Echo, are you the huge Black man that walks the island with a club on the tv show, “Lost”? ”

    “Sorry, just read this OUTRAGEOUS READING INTO THE TEXT by Echo:

    Wow, bro! Is this the kind of exegisis you are learning in seminary? If it is, go to school first thing in the morning AND GET A REFUND!”

    “You’ve got some nerve to boldly add to the Scripture what is not there.”

    “Then you go on glowingly to speak of “500 years of reformers”, “the church of England” and “parliament” as if they were infallible and almost worthy of speaking “ex cathedra” themselves! Can I be clear? You can have every confession, creed, member of parliament and the Church of England, and I’ll even throw in your golden-boy, Calvin; I’ll stick with that tongues-talking missionary, Paul.”

    “I’m not the blog-master, here, but your efforts are almost as long as Psalm 119, humorless and preachy. Give us a break.”

    By the way, I listened to your sermon at:

    [audio src="http://iglesiabiblica.us/Prayer%20Under%20Pressure.mp3" /]

    Now, maybe I didn’t listen very carefully, but I don’t remember hearing the gospel being preached. Would you mind telling me when that was? I don’t remember hearing it. You see, I don’t remember hearing you telling the people to hope in the finished work of Christ, I heard you telling them to hope in a fresh work of the Spirit. That’s odd, because it’s a different gospel from the one Paul preached.

  54. I don’t want to jump into the middle of a spat between two blog buddies, but something the Man Without Melanin said in post #33 deserves comment. He said, “God knows everything, therefore nothing surprises Him. Thus He knows who will accept and reject Him through their free will.”

    You’re right, Albino. To paraphrase Luther again, however, God’s foreknowledge of a thing necessitates that thing. If God knew from the foundation of the world that I would paraphrase Luther in this post, could I NOT do so? Is it possible to NOT conform to the foreknowledge of God?

    Furthermore, how do you think God foreknows everything? Does He look down the corridor if time and learn things, thereby increasing His knowledge? Surely you don’t teach that God changes! God knows everything because He planned everything. It all happens according to His DETERMINED foreknowledge.

    You did well to point out the heart of the mystery: Spurgeon’s friends who don’t need to be reconciled. The Bible teaches God’s complete sovereignty and control over all things, and simultaneously teaches man’s responsibility for his own actions. We must embrace both doctrines and learn to love the warm tension.

  55. I like how you said “God’s sovereignty” and “man’s responsibility”. I think that is a better dichotomy than vs. man’s free will. The last quote in the post bears thinking about again, and paraphrasing:

    * Thinking that the truth of man’s responsibility requires us to believe in free will, is the error of Arminianism.

    * Thinking that the truth that there is no free will requires us to believe that man bears no responsibility, is the error of Hyper-Calvinism.

    * The truth of Calmer-Calvinism is that man bears full responsibility for his sins, even though it is only God’s sovereign grace that determines whether he’ll be able to faith his way out of them.

  56. Rube did you just go from “hyper-calvanist” to “calmer-calvanist”?

    What’s wrong with the label, “Christian”?

    I quote the greatest philosopher of our day (Ferris Bueller)…

    “Not that I condone Fascism, or any -ism for that matter. -Ism’s in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, “I don’t believe in The Beatles, I just believe in me.” Good point there. After all, he was the walrus. I could be the walrus but it still wouldn’t change the fact that I don’t own a car!

  57. Rube did you just go from “hyper-calvanist” to “calmer-calvanist”?

    Well, if you read the original post and addendum carefully, the point I am really making is that, even though affirming determinism causes some people to label me as a hyper-Calvinist, a proper definition of hyper-Calvinist shows that I am not one.

    A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, “I don’t believe in The Beatles, I just believe in me.”

    That’s an excellent example of why it’s not a good idea to get your philosophy from Ferris Bueller or John Lennon, or from this world in general. A person should not believe in himself, he should believe in the Bible. I rebuke John Lennon: “I don’t believe in me (or my apparent free will), I just believe God’s sovereign control of the universe he created.”

  58. Whatever, professor Bueller IS the Walrus! John Lennon is dead why are you rebuking him?

  59. Cuz it’s better than quoting him. I could rebuke you, if you prefer…

  60. All we are saying is give peace a chance

  61. Not too much of a chance though. It turns out there actually are things that are worth fighting and dying for.

  62. Gee Wiz man you are so not groovy

  63. For most people the label Calvinist is bad enough. Why make it worse by putting HYPER in front of it.

  64. Jim

    You just go from one place to another setting things on fire. :-))

    Brad

  65. Well, if you guys think I was being unfair, let me know.

  66. Suggested reading: “The Deacons Masterpiece”, by Oliver Wendell Holmes

  67. For most people the label Calvinist is bad enough.

    From the comments in this interesting read we get this excellent quote from Charles Spurgeon:

    Calvinism is a nickname for biblical Christianity

    Calvinism is a word that our society has lost the good use of, just like fundamentalism (is it not good to return to a fundamental understanding of the scriptures?) I would suppose, however, that Arminians would say the same thing about the word “Arminian”. Whatcha gonna do?

  68. Here’s a link to “The Deacons Masterpiece”, by Oliver Wendell Holmes. Not sure what you’re getting at, but maybe it’s this, from the interpretive notes:

    logic, logical…… Holmes uses the word in the subtitle, the preface, and at several critical points in the poem. Critics have understood that he is meaning to satirize a particular religious way of thinking. Puritans, as the Harvard historian Perry Miller wrote, based much of their theory and practice on the system of logic established by Petrus Ramus (1515-1572), who opposed Aristotle’s. Holmes is a liberal Unitarian and scientific physician who points out the absurdity of carrying practice to its theoretical logical conclusion, insteading of relying on wise experience. The result of the Deacon’s work may be “logically perfect,” but it does fall to pieces in the end. Although critics maintained this interpretation was obvious, Holmes himself always said the religious criticism was not conscious on his part. In his book, “Autocrat of the Breakfast Table,” he joked about carrying logic to “logical consequences.”

    Perhaps nowadays we would interpret the satire against scientists, engineers, and reformers. In colonial days these were the ministers, which is what Harvard produced. The period before the Civil War was a time of extremely rapid industrialization, growth, and social change in New England, spurred by Yankee inventors. Of course, the Civil War itself forced revolutionary changes, too, changing even the constitutional principles that held the nation together.

    I reject the concept that something can be “too” logical. I parry your link with a link of my own, explaining very well the meaninglessness of the turn of phrase “works on paper, but not in the real world”. I maintain that Calvinism will never “fall to pieces in the end.”

  69. I’m baaaaaack. Brutally busy, but productive and blessed weekend. Voted this morning and looking forward to sitting in the living room with my mug of Dr. Pepper and platter of hot wings to watch the results.

    Echo…after much reflection, soul-searching and rebukes from a few friends and family, I have concluded that I owe you an apology. After reading your summary of my comments, I also conclude that they were insensitive and less than charitable, especially directed toward a total stranger. Although I will continue to post comments in my own, unique style, I will make a greater effort to avoid offending and insulting other Christians in these threads.

    As to the sermon I preached on Acts 4, it was a challenge to pray like the Apostle’s prayed when we are under similar pressure. I think there is much in that message that edifies the church, and point 1 of the message was even highly Calvinistic.

    Anyway, I am still recovering from a busy weekend, but I will be back.

  70. Albino, I hope you can find time to get back into the “sufficient for what” thread. It has gotten very interesting with Mike tearing out three chapters of John. Plus I throw in a comment on your ‘boys.

  71. Albino,

    I accept your apology.

    Please see my post 74 in the other thread if you haven’t already.

  72. Albino,

    I say it again, you are such a good man. And you’re only 5 points from perfection. :-)

    Brad

  73. I appreciate your final paragraphs, Echo_breveR, especially your discussion of “Compatibilism.” It seems to square pretty closely with my own reconciliation of predestination and free will … which I’ll probably blog about soon.

    Soon was yesterday. Enjoy …

    seedlings: God’s sovereignty and our free will

  74. The original post gave this scripture as proof of Jesus as a Calvinist, if that makes sense? But let’s look at this scripture, we can argue for days, but didn’t Jesus say below “But there are some of you who don’t believe”. Just becasue Jesus had insight as to whom would not believe does that mena he made it that way? Or can it mean in His Okniscience he knew who would not believe, but not because He made it that way!

    Just a thought, becasue I still can’t figure out why Calvinists inisist that Jesus makes our decisions for us, in everything, it still baffles my mind. But hey I’m here to listen to clearity if it can be heard.

    I think Jesus knows my decisions and life happenings before it happens, but he is not the puppetier most Calvinist think Him to be. Just my observation in scripture.
    Tony
    The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

  75. Tony,

    Jesus is not a fortune teller either, helplessly peering into a crystal ball to see what will happen tomorrow merely to feed his curiosity.

    Echo

    1Sam 15:29 “And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.”

  76. The point of the post is actually irrelevant to determinism or not. The point is, people accuse determinists of being paralyzed or apathetic fatalists. I’m saying on the one hand — look: Jesus behaved like an apathetic fatalist. John 6 shows us that (a) some disciples left because Jesus taught “sorry, some of you just aren’t elect”, and (b) Jesus didn’t seem too broken up about it.

    But on the other hand, just because Jesus behaved like that, does not instruct us to behave like that. Precisely because we don’t know who’s elect and who’s not, is enough reason for us to evangelize all equally, regardless of whether we believe that the results are deterministically foregone.

    Or maybe say it like this: being a determinist doesn’t require you to be a hyper-Calvinist.

  77. Echo,
    The crystal ball thing is not at all what I implied, I hope. My point is, the scripture speaks of US believing, and no where in scripture can it pointed out that God MAKES us believe, therefore if it is pre-determined before our birth if we are elect or not, and the scripture repeats itself telling us that those whom believe will follow Him in eternity, then God is not predetermining who goes to heavan and who goes to hell. Scripturally speaking, no?

    I just think more of all the scriptures lead me to believe God knows everything, because unlike a crystal ball that may have things appear and may not, God can see all eternity at once, but this doesn’t logically conclude that He determined it to be that way! Not to mention if you think of it on that level, there is no time in God, and He can and always could see eternity as a whole, so then how could we say that before I was born her predetermined it, because before he created me, He could already see it? Right?
    Peace
    Tony

  78. no where in scripture can it pointed out that God MAKES us believe

    Au contraire. John 6:29

  79. God is not predetermining who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. Scripturally speaking, no?

    NO! What do you think “electing” is, if not “predetermining”? Jesus is the (Heb 12:2) Author and Finisher of our faith. Phil 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

    To quote Echo, “if you want to see it from the Bible, with NO COMMENT, very well. You read these passages and decide for yourself if I am brainwashed to discover the sovereignty of God in salvation in them.”

    Here they are.

  80. BRuce,
    john 6:29? Which translation?

    John 28 Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
    29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

    Later in same chapter

    John 6:33
    “For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”
    6:34
    Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.”
    6:35
    Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never * thirst.

    How does this imply He MAKES our decisions for us?
    Seems to me Jesus said the bread of life came down for the entire world, and all who believe will have eternal life, and not die. To compare what Jesus was talking about with the Children of Isreal and the manna, the manna came down from heaven, just like Jesus did, it was up to the children of Israel to gather it up for themselves and their families, and if they didn’t get to tit in time, the manna disappeared.

    As to the question of elect, God called Israel His elect, in the NT There are several scriptures that would imply the same Israel as His elect.

    Mark 24:24
    For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

    If you are the elect, then how are you deceived to unbelief?

    Please, someone respond to my point about God seeing everything in eternity at the saem time, and if He plans my life, how exactly does he do that already knowing the path? Is this making sense?
    Peace
    Tony

  81. That’s Matt 24:24, and “if it were possible” is right in there, and your addition “to unbelief” is not in there. So it’s not possible to deceive the elect into unbelief.

    I think what he’s saying is that “This is the work of God [the work that God does], that you believe in Him who he sent.”

    Keep going in John 6 beyond where you quoted: v37: “All that the Father gives me will come to me” v39: “this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

    Please, someone respond to my point about God seeing everything in eternity at the saem time, and if He plans my life, how exactly does he do that already knowing the path? Is this making sense?

    Not really. Yes he knows your path; how does that prevent him from planning your life? He knows your path because he planned your life.

    Dude, you’re not going to make much headway with the readership of this blog trying to argue us out of predestination. Where did you come from? (By no means am I trying to make you feel unwelcome, just curious)

  82. not sure hwere you see it’s impossible, seeing as how it says if it’s possible, and then you still never address the fact that the scripture above John 6:37 says something else? You only point to verse 37, what does that prove as to predestination?

    I’m not trying to argue you out of predestination, just trying to see where people who claim it come from biblically, becasue far too many qoute church fathers and not the word!

    They also do the same thing you did earlier, in brushing away the scriptures that say something else, like John 6:33-35, and pointing without comment to other scriptures.

    In no way am I under some thought that maybe I will dassle you all with my mastery of words to change the entire Calvinistic world, I just like the chatter becasue it sharpens me, as I’m sure you feel it does for you.

    I came from California to answer your question, now I live in the deep south, bible belt if you will!
    Peace

  83. How does God plan it all when He sees it all?

  84. Now I am really confused. I thought Tony was your brother and I couldn’t believe he would argue with you about predestination.

    I see Tony’s point logically. However Tony it doesn’t change determinism (or predestination for that matter) at all. If God sees all time equally vividly (and he does) and he sees your choices to believe or not believe in him then responds to your choices (he doesn’t but lets say he does) then there is still nothing that can be undone or done differently. So if you choose it or God chooses it it’s still the same Tony. What can be done to change it? At least in understanding predestination you are relying upon the goodness of God and his soveriegn decision making rather then your own very flawed abilities.

    that being said I don’t see how John 6:29 can be a text that supports God forcing us to believe. I think Romans 9 says enough to make it pretty clear who is in charge. Not to the extent where we can relenquish all responsibility however (fatalism).

  85. “How does God plan it all when He sees it all?”

    How can he not plan it all if he sees it all?

  86. I didn’t make quite clear: as for John 6:29, I also don’t think that’s a particularly strong verse for predestination. Reading “This is the work of God” as “This is the work God does” seems to me to be a stretch, which is not supported by the question it is answering “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”

    But the point is, the Bible does not show man choosing God; it shows God choosing man. John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you” Israel (through no choice of their own) were God’s chosen people. This is not complex and mysterious like the trinity (which is not a biblical word); All through the New Testament we find the word “elect”. How can you read any of those verses to mean that man is electing to believe in Jesus?

    Your plan it all vs. see it all distinction is not a valid dichotomy. You make it sound like God witholds his sovereignty, scans the universe through all time, and notes down which people make a choice for Him. If God sees us make a choice for him, and he sees us make that choice every “time” he looks at our place and time from his timeless vantage point, is that ‘choice’ not determined?

    And yet God not only says things like “whosoever wills”, but the Bible is full of commandments: “Do this” “Don’t do that”. Why would he do that if he had it all planned out? Because those commandments in the Bible are part of his means of accomplishing his plan in us. If it were God’s will for people to walk on their hands, and if he put commandments in the Bible “walk on your hands”, don’t you think that God would thus have “caused” many people to walk on their hands who otherwise wouldn’t have?

    Anyways, gotta go.

  87. no where in scripture can it pointed out that God MAKES us believe

    John 6:29 isn’t about predestination. It simply addresses your claim that

    no where in scripture can it be pointed out that God MAKES us believe.

    It’s not about decision making [directly] nor is it about predestination [directly]. It’s about your claim.

  88. Explain Adam and Eve and their choice?

    Why would a perfect God “plan” to have His perfect creation (man) become impefect?

    I’m not saying anything can be done to change what He sees, in the way of my decisions, but I find it hard to believe He makes all of those choices for me becasue He just planned it all out, it sounds more like a game than it does reality, and God’s work!

    I also like the “bread of heaven” analogy and the manna for the Children of Israel. God provided and sent it down, but He didn’t collect it for them. They chose to obey, and follow Him, just like Jesus came down, but it is up to me to see my own rightousness as filthy rags and see the light in Him. I agree no comes unless the Father draws Him, but that it a given in my theology as well. It takes His grace to draw me, but I don’t call it undeniable grace!

    Again there are plenty of scriptures that say who Christ died for, and it’s “all men”, “the world”, etc. I realize that the bible says His chosen people, or elect sometimes, but this seems to be more broad or debatable than “God sent His only begotten son, That whosoever whould believe in him, would not perish, but have everlasting life”

    The other argument I hear from people, is God is a just God. therefore we all deserve hell so He can choose if he’d like becasue He is God. But I find it weird that “if” God was the one who planned Adam to sin and ruin the chance for a perfect life on His perfect earth, then why is it our fault we are so depraved and in need of a savior from original sin. If God planned it, then isn’t original sin his idea, a part of His creation? Seems to go against the perfect God concept to me.

    Also, If He is just, then all options should be available for everyone equally. Justice for all means similar punishment for similar crimes, and similar rewards for similar actions. Justice is not represented in God choosing for me to go to hell, in my humble opinion.

    Thaks for the chat, pick it back up tomorrow.

    Peace
    Tony

  89. Tony…to fully embrace Calvinism is to believe in a Jesus that did not die for sins of the world; a Jesus that does not offer the Gospel to “whosoever will”, and a Jesus who delights in “forced love”, content only to offer the illusion of choice.

    That’s partially why Calvinism is not for me or for my family, and, I would argue, not for the apostles either. Don’t buy the koolaid; don’t drink the koolaid.

  90. Tony…to fully embrace Arminianism (or at least to reject Calvinism) is to believe in a Jesus whose atonement is ineffective; to fail to understand that “whosoever will” is only able to will if God grants them faith, a God who is not sovereign over his universe, but who has to be content to wait and see whether people are going to make the right choice.

  91. I realize that the bible says His chosen people, or elect sometimes, but this seems to be more broad or debatable than “God sent His only begotten son, That whosoever whould believe in him, would not perish, but have everlasting life”

    “seems to be more broad or debatable” is subjective. I see all the same verses as you, some which say “elect”, some which say “all”, but to me, the “all” verses “seem to be more broad or debatable”. As I say above, “If I have to choose between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, I’ll choose sovereignty every time.”

    Jesus said “you did not choose me, but I chose you”. The fact that he had to say that acknowledges that we feel that Christianity is our choice. But Jesus’s statement overrides that feeling.

    In any case, I recommend you read the entire New Testament from the perspective of a 1st century Jew, realizing for the first time that the Jewish Messiah brings salvation, not just for the Jew, but for the whole world. “All men” = Jews + Gentiles.

    Note also the #1 definition for hyper-Calvinist from above: “one who denies that the gospel call applies to all who hear”. What is the call? As Jesus said, many are CALLED, but few are CHOSEN. So yes, the gospel call applies to all. But only the chosen & elect respond to the call. Only the chosen & elect receive atonement. Only then is the call effectual (Rom 8:28-30). That’s what limited atonement means.

    If you want to believe that there is an (unlimited) pile of atonement out there, some/most of which will go unused, I guess you can, but it just seems pointless and silly to me.

    As for Adam & Eve, it’s a tough pill to swallow, or even wrap your head around, but Eden was not paradise. Eden was a beautiful place, but a place of danger, with Adam & Eve having the possibility to rebel & disobey, thus earning death. God’s ultimate plan (for reasons we probably can’t fully understand) was to bring glory to Himself by mercifully redeeming and glorifying a chosen people from their sins.

    To ask why did Adam & Eve sin (or God let them sin or God made them sin) is to ask, why did God bother with earth? Why not just start off with heaven, where everybody is perfect and glorified and there is no sin or death or pain or sickness or weakness or sadness?

    So there is a fine line to be walked; God is not evil, he contains no evil, he does no sin, he bears no responsibility for our sin — (except that his Son took responsibility for our sin!). But He is in control of His universe, and yes it was his plan for Adam & Eve to sin. I’m sure Echo can speak more eloquently (and extensively) in this vein.

  92. Rube,

    Something about pearls and swine comes to mind. Some people just want to know who Cain’s wife was before they’ll accept anything true.

    E

  93. DEAR EVERYONE,

    I’d just like to point out that in post 89, Albino said that Calvinism can’t be right because it undermines the gospel.

    This is a valid argument form, and I just knew all you guys knew that all along when you were giving me such terrific grief for making an argument of the same form. You knew it all along. In my mind, this helps support my argument that for most people, when someone disagrees with you, you judge them to be arrogant.

    Guys, it’s really ok to admit that the gospel is the most important thing in the world, and that anything that undermines it should be cut off on that basis alone. It’s really alright and permissible to admit that.

    The gospel is the very center and focus of our religion. No gospel, NO RELIGION!

    Go to any library’s reference section, find a theological or religious encyclopedia or dictionary and look up “preaching”. You’ll be amazed to find that the proclamation of the gospel is the focus of preaching because it is the focus of what we believe. In fact, the gospel is the content of what we believe. That’s what we believe IN to have eternal life.

    The gospel is what satan wishes to undermine, because belief in the gospel saves. Anything the devil can do to weaken our faith in the gospel in any way – he will.

    It’s ok to admit the importance of the gospel – especially if you already believe it.

    Just admit it, you can do it. When you see someone handling the gospel improperly, it’s kind of like he’s stroking your wife isn’t it? You want to cut his hands off and feed them to him or something. Get your grubby hands off the gospel!

    Gospel or death. Those are your choices. Which will it be?

    E

  94. Rube,

    I’m in no-way concerned about drinking any crazy koolaid, that is for sure. And I appreciate the Calvinist heart for the true Gospel, it is my heart as well! I have run up against a few people in the past month or so, and the debate was on! Unfortunately the ability to have friendly:) debate was only possible for me. It started out talking about drinking and the church. As we talked about that issue, it turned to false doctrine of all who are not Calvinist, etc. and that is what bothers me about a lot of Calvinists. I don’t agree with the theology fully, I think some of it is good, but at it’s core not what I believe the scriptures to reveal.

    Rube’s comment about the Adam and Eve situation is not a good explanation at all. I’m not saying we have to have all the answers, but I don’t know would have been better.

    “Eden was not paradise. Eden was a beautiful place, but a place of danger, with Adam & Eve having the possibility to rebel & disobey, thus earning death. God’s ultimate plan (for reasons we probably can’t fully understand) was to bring glory to Himself by mercifully redeeming and glorifying a chosen people from their sins”

    If they don’t have free will, then there is no possiblity to revel or disobey, it was planned from the beginning according to calvinist theology. This seems plain in my opinion. God is the author of sin, according to a Calvinist. Man is the author of sin by his choice to rebel, in my theology. I don’t classify myself as an Arminian by the way! I follow Jesus and the word, no man’s doctrine!

    My concern for followers of Calvinism, is this: the doctrines seem to focus so much on the soverignty of God, that everything is placed around it! In other words, you take this philosophy as fact, and then everything falls into it’s place (even if scripture is not all that clear about it) and that is that, no if’s and’s or buts! That is my concern, and I have friends who have turned to this and can give me no clear biblical information, they give good insight and argue about it well, but there are things that can’t be explained, and to hang your hat on this as if I’m missing heaven becasue of it is scary.

    I’m not saying all calvinist feel this way, but from what I have seen, if you are not a calvinist, then you are listening to and following false prophets who tickle your ears with false doctrine and half truths, etc.

    I know my heart is right before the Lord, correct doctrines or not, I will be with the King of Kings for eternity!
    Peace
    Tony

  95. the doctrines seem to focus so much on the soverignty of God, that everything is placed around it! In other words, you take this philosophy as fact, and then everything falls into it’s place (even if scripture is not all that clear about it)

    I don’t see the problem with focusing on the sovereignity of God. Since that theology (not just philosophy) is a fact, it does help everything else fall into place. Whenever scripture is not all that clear, we can use clearer parts of scripture to guide our interpretation. Scripture is abundantly clear that God is sovereign. So let’s tackle the hard questions with that in mind.

    correct doctrines or not, I will be with the King of Kings for eternity!

    Amen! For all of our sakes, I am thankful that infallible doctrine is not a requirement for salvation!

  96. Tony,

    You said:

    “I know my heart is right before the Lord, correct doctrines or not, I will be with the King of Kings for eternity!”

    I am glad to read that you have assurance of your salvation, and I am glad to see that you are convinced of something that will take place in the future. If you are convinced about something that will take place in the future, might I ask how you are convinced of it? I mean, are you CERTAIN that you will go to heaven? What makes you certain? How can you know for SURE?

    You said:
    “Unfortunately the ability to have friendly:) debate was only possible for me. It started out talking about drinking and the church. As we talked about that issue, it turned to false doctrine of all who are not Calvinist, etc. and that is what bothers me about a lot of Calvinists.”

    That is unfortunate. There are a lot of folks who claim the title “Calvinists” who don’t speak very kindly to others. They have this very uncompromising attitude about the Word of God. They refuse to compromise on it, and they figure that other people have fallen into various errors because they have compromised the truth. It’s hard not to sympathize with that on the one hand. On the other hand, I’ve seen many Puritan wannabes just make complete fools of themselves. They think they have a right to condemn people like Jesus condemned the Pharisees. The Pharisees were rightly condemned, but for one thing they were teachers, NOT laymen. There’s a HUGE difference. If someone is confused all by themself, that’s one thing, but if they begin teaching their error to others, that’s quite another matter. But beyond this, their condemnation was just because of the one proclaiming their condemnation: Jesus Christ. He has every right to condemn whoever he wishes.

    And that brings up an interesting point. If Jesus really, truly wants everyone to be saved, why were the Pharisees condemned before they died? Jesus even told his disciples that he spoke in parables precisely so that the Jews wouldn’t understand the truth behind them.

    Mat 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
    Mat 13:14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.
    Mat 13:15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

    However, Tony, don’t let someone’s uncompromising attitude turn you off. It is good to be uncompromising about the Word of God. Frankly, if you’re not a “Calvinist”, then you ought to think that “Calvinists” are violating the Word of God somehow. I mean, we CANNOT both be right after all. If you are really convinced that you’re interpreting God’s Word correctly, then you ought to be able to say that Calvinists are wrong. If you don’t think Calvinists are wrong, then you either don’t think you’ve actually got it right, or you think that both can be right. Either way, I think you’d want to rethink that.

    We shouldn’t compromise on the Word of God. For example, some denominations want to ordain women as pastors and elders. Well, either you think that the Bible forbids that or you don’t. If you think that the Bible forbids that, then those who practice it are violating the Word of God. If you don’t think the Bible forbids that, then the people that are forbidding women from being pastors have got it wrong, and are guilty of great prejudice.

    God doesn’t compromise; we shouldn’t either. Remember what he says about those who are lukewarm…

    You said:
    “I don’t agree with the theology fully, I think some of it is good, but at it’s core not what I believe the scriptures to reveal.”

    You know Tony, I used to think like you, or at least like this sentence. I used to think that I knew everything there was to know about the Bible and about theology. Because I believed this about myself, then for me, whether or not something was right was whether or not I agreed with it. If I believed that that’s what the Bible taught, then it was correct. If it wasn’t what I believed to be biblical, then it was wrong. If I agreed with it, it was true, if not, it wasn’t.

    Yep, I used to think that way. Then one day I discovered that just about everything I thought was pretty much wrong, and I had been not just naive, but terribly arrogant in my ignorance. Only then did I become teachable.

    Tony, I’m not saying you’re arrogant. I’m saying I was arrogant, but I’m also saying that your sentence seems to reflect the same attitude.

    So all of that to say this: whether or not you agree with something has nothing – NOTHING at all to do with whether or not it’s true. Whether you believe something is in the Bible does not make it so. YOU are not the standard of truth. Is it possible that you have been deceived your whole life? It’s quite possible. I am living proof.

    Do you think that just because you have the Bible and go to church that you are immune from error? Look at what happened to the Roman Catholic Church. They have the Bible, and they worship many gods! They pray to saints as if they were little gods, and they worship Mary as if she were a goddess. They have gone so far as to declare salvation by faith alone to be heresy. I guess the apostle Paul is a heretic according to Rome. I’m not kidding, it’s in the Council of Trent.

    How did Rome come so far? How did the Church veer so far off course? People who thought they had it all figured out. Arrogant, small minded men who thought that their minds were the standard of truth. Don’t go their way, the way of Cain. Be teachable, submit to Scripture. That’s just a word of advice.

    You said:
    “If they don’t have free will, then there is no possiblity to rebel or disobey, it was planned from the beginning according to calvinist theology. This seems plain in my opinion. God is the author of sin, according to a Calvinist. Man is the author of sin by his choice to rebel, in my theology. I don’t classify myself as an Arminian by the way! I follow Jesus and the word, no man’s doctrine!”

    Tony, contrary to popular opinion, “Calvinists” actually do believe in free will. And they also don’t believe God to be the author of sin. They do not believe God sins.

    So, you can continue to believe that Calvinists teach things that they don’t if you wish, but I really don’t see how that’s helpful to either you or to Calvinists.

    The Westminster Confession of Faith has been the Confession of the Presbyterian Church for over 350 years now. The Prebyterian tradition is the Calvinist tradition. So, you really can’t find much more of a Calvinist document than the Westminster Confession of Faith.

    The Westminster Confession was written by a couple hundred pastors and elders in the United Kingdom over the course of a couple of years during the 1640’s. It is divided into chapters, of which there are over 30. However, man’s free will gets its own chapter, titled, ironically, “Free Will”.

    It says:
    “I. God hath endued the will of man with that natural liberty, that it is neither forced, nor, by any absolute necessity of nature, determined to good, or evil.”

    Perhaps more simply put: We affirm that man has free will. Lots and lots of Calvinists claim that Calvinists don’t believe in free will, and that’s not true. Any yahoo can say he’s a Calvinist and then proceed to make a fool out of himself and the rest of us, but that doesn’t make him a Calvinist. You can’t just say you’re a Calvinist and then believe whatever you want.

    Pretend a Buddhist who worships Buddha claimed to be a Christian, but doesn’t worship Jesus, but Buddha. Why would you call yourself a Christian, if you aren’t one? You’re a Buddhist, so why not call yourself a Buddhist? To which the Buddhist would reply, Oh, I’m a Christian, but I worship Buddha.

    Wouldn’t you scratch your head and say that you have encountered an idiot? You can’t be a Christian unless you believe what a Christian believes.

    There are two ways to be a Calvinist.

    1. You believe what the Westminster Confession of Faith teaches, because you believe that it is in line with what the Bible teaches.

    2. You believe what the “Three Forms of Unity” teach (the Belgic Confession, Heidelburg Catechism, and Canons of Dordt), because you believe them to be in line with the Bible.

    If you don’t hold to one of these confessions, you are not a Calvinist any more than a Buddhist who worships Buddha is a Christian. Now, some people may hold some of the beliefs of Calvinism, but that doesn’t make them a Calvinist. It means they have Calvinist leanings.

    For example, a Baptist might believe that speaking in tongues is ok. Technically, this person is not a Baptist, because Baptists don’t believe in tongues. They aren’t a Pentecostal either, because perhaps he doesn’t agree that the filling with the Spirit is a second experience. This person, however, goes to a Baptist church. Ok then – such a person would be a Baptist with charismatic leanings. But strictly speaking, they are neither.

    In the same way, a Calvinist who says that there is no free will is not a Calvinist. That’s what we call “Fatalists”. There is a difference between Fatalism and Calvinism.

    The precise nature of that distinction would take a long time to rehash. Suffice it to say, however, that in simple terms, the Fatalist denies free will, but the Calvinist affirms it.

    Now, regarding this “author of sin” business.

    You know, there are a lot of people who go around saying, “God is not the author of sin.” And they insist that Calvinists teach that God is the author of sin.

    But unless you can find an English document with the phrase “author of sin” in it that was published before the 1640’s, you’ll probably be astonished to find out that it was the writers of the Westminster Confession of Faith that actually invented this phrase.

    Shock is probably coming over you to discover that Calvinists are so far from claiming that God is the author of sin, that they even invented this phrase, that so many people so tritely use against them.

    Calvinists invented the phrase “author of sin” and by the way, they were saying that God is NOT the author of sin. Observe:

    IV. The almighty power, unsearchable wisdom, and infinite goodness of God so far manifest themselves in his providence, that it extendeth itself even to the first fall, and all other sins of angels and men; and that not by a bare permission, but such as hath joined with it a most wise and powerful bounding, and otherwise ordering, and governing of them, in a manifold dispensation, to his own holy ends; yet so, as the sinfulness thereof proceedeth only from the creature, and not from God, who, being most holy and righteous, neither is nor can be the author or approver of sin.

    There it is, in the very last sentence “author or approver of sin”. Obviously this is trimmed down today to simply “author” in polite conversation.

    But ok, this is a lot of King James English, and not too easy to understand, right? Well, that’s ok. Most of us Calvinists don’t understand it either, which is why some of us claim that Calvinism doesn’t believe in free will, or that God is the author of sin. Of course, if we did understand what Calvinism teaches, then we wouldn’t make these errors.

    Whoever introduced you to “Calvinism” was apparently not a Calvinist.

    But that’s not the point. Here’s what this little excerpt from the 350 year old Confession of the church is saying: God is in control of all things, sovereignly bringing to pass whatever happens. If a tree falls in the forest, God is there to hear it. If you take your next breath, you make thank God for it, because it is a gift from him. But then it asks about sin. If God is in control of all things, actually determining the future before it happens, then isn’t God the author of all sin?

    The Westminster Confession’s incredible reply is “no”.

    Now, at first glance, many people simply think this is impossible. They conclude that Calvinists are being inconsistent. They MUST believe that God is the author of sin, but they just deny it – that’s what some people think. Or maybe they just think Calvinists are stupid. I don’t know what goes through other minds. Only my own.

    But whatever. This is nothing more than the very old philosophical problem of evil. Shall I answer the problem of evil for you?

    It goes like this. If God is in control of all things, then why is there evil in the world? Doesn’t that make God evil?

    Before I answer, believe me when I say this: simply denying Calvinism doesn’t make this problem go away. If God sits by and watches the world go to hell in a haybasket, then it still looks like he’s a party to evil; unless of course he can’t stop it. But then he wouldn’t even be God anymore.

    But this doesn’t have to be a problem. The Bible solves the riddle for us.

    Remember the story of Joseph, how his brothers were wicked and evil and sold him into slavery and told his father that he was dead? What horrible people could do that to their own brother? But they did it. And when Joseph finally revealed himself, he said:

    Gen 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

    That’s the Bible there, the Word of God. There is a deep mystery revealed in these words. I’m not saying it’s a secret, it’s right there for anyone to see. It says very clearly that the evil brothers and God had different intentions. The brothers hated Joseph, so they wanted him to be a slave for the rest of his life. God used this incident to bring about his purposes, and to bring Israel to Egypt.

    The brothers did it. They sold Joseph. But God did it too. He didn’t sit there and let it happen, he brought it about. His intentions, however, were different from Joseph’s brothers.

    Joseph’s brothers sinned because they did something evil towards their brother. God did NOT sin, because he used this in a remarkable way to bring about his purposes.

    God AND the brothers both did it, but had different intentions. God meant it for good, though the brothers meant it for evil. This is confirmed in the New Testament:

    Act 4:24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
    Act 4:25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?
    Act 4:26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’–
    Act 4:27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
    Act 4:28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

    Look at that – wasn’t the MURDER of the SON OF GOD an EVIL act? Yet OBVIOUSLY it was prophesied about long ago, and we know that God doesn’t just look into a crystal ball. The Bible is telling us here that GOD is the one who brought about the death of Jesus Christ. Isaiah says that it pleased the Lord to crush him. How clear can it get? But this wicked act was part of God’s plan all along.

    This is certain, definite proof that God brings about everything that comes to pass. Does that make him the author of sin? No. He neither creates sin, nor does it himself. We do it of our own free will. God has ordained it yes, he has brought it about yes, but HE HIMSELF is not sinning, because his intentions are different.

    When Judas betrayed Jesus, he did a sinful thing. But when God determined that this would happen, and when he brought it about, he didn’t do anything sinful – he was bringing about our salvation!

    Meanwhile, no one is often tempted to feel sorry for Judas. After all, he seemed to make his choice quite deliberately, even though it was predicted long beforehand by God, who was promising to bring it about. God predicted it, and then ensured that it would happen. God used Judas’ sin to help bring about our salvation. Isn’t that bizarre?

    But it’s true. The Bible says it. While we may decide to not believe it, the Bible demands that we believe it. Submit to Scripture; it’s the Word of God.

    Tony, you said:
    “I’m not saying all calvinist feel this way, but from what I have seen, if you are not a calvinist, then you are listening to and following false prophets who tickle your ears with false doctrine and half truths, etc.”

    Listening to a false prophet is vastly different from being one. Just because someone sits under the teaching of a false prophet in ignorance does not mean that they can’t go to heaven. I’m sure that there are even some in the Roman church who are going to heaven. I’m not sure how, but God’s pretty cool.

    So, even if you are listening to false prophets and what not, that doesn’t mean you’re going to hell. It means that you could probably do better with your decision on where to go to church, but not much more than that. Of course, if you’re the man of your household, that’s different, because you’re responsible for the spiritual health of your family. No, I don’t take this charge lightly. I too have a family.

    But the question is, are you listening to false prophets? I don’t know. I’ve never listened to your pastor. But that’s for you to decide anyway. Look:

    Rom 14:23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

    If you go to the best church you can find, and you do so out of faith, hoping that God will nurture you and your family, he will. You’re trying to follow him and his Word. Bravo! But if you are compromising, you’re sinning, because you’re not doing it out of faith. See? Whatever is of faith is good. Keep doing it. That means following the Bible the best you know how, but bearing in mind that you don’t know it all that well, and you’ll probably need help understanding it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to listen to what someone else says when they disagree with you. They might be right.

    I really did turn my whole life upside down like a snow globe, because I had become convinced that everything I had previously believed was wrong. It was a scary feeling, like I was on a journey and didn’t know where I was going. Like being led by the hand with a blindfold on.

    Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
    Heb 11:9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.
    Heb 11:10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

    As it turned out, that scary feeling I had of not knowing where I was going was actually faith. it was the first time in my life when I learned to depend not on myself but on Christ. It felt a little bit like falling. But that’s the gospel’s effect on us. Eventually, we learn to rest in him and to take comfort in him, and it doesn’t feel like falling, but more like taking a break.

    Alright, that’s all I got.

    Echo

  97. That’s all you got? Echo, you’re getting short-winded in your old age. I remember (it seems like only weeks ago) when you could dash of 10,000 words at the drop of a “love you, Echo”!

    Thanks for this one though; I think you gave a good answer to Tony, and it was helpful for me too. As you can probably tell above, I was not able to answer well.

    I’ve seen many Puritan wannabes just make complete fools of themselves. They think they have a right to condemn people like Jesus condemned the Pharisees.

    And back to the original point of my post: whatever your views on determinism/free will/fatalism/whatever, it is foolish to write people off as non-elect, like Jesus did some of his disciples in John 6:64-66.

    There is a difference between Fatalism and Calvinism. The precise nature of that distinction would take a long time to rehash.

    Perhaps it would be more useful to dissect Fatalism from Determinism. The fatalist starts with determinism, and goes overboard thinking nothing matters, since it’s all predetermined. But the determinist realizes that the future is only determined from God’s perspective outside of time and space. It is because we don’t know the future that we experience causality, choice, and consequence. And it was because Jesus had the divine ability to recognize election, that he was justified in behaving like a fatalist.

    As for free will, my understanding of God’s sovereignty and predestination (determinism) tells me that my will is not free. I am not free to choose anything that it is not predestined for me to choose. Thus my experience of control over my destiny is only an illusion, due to my ignorance of the future. There are probably clever ways to redefine “free will” so that it really, truly, non-illusorily does exist, but let’s face it — you have to get at least a little tricky and counterintuitive.

    But there are two important facts that I hope we can all agree on:

    (1) Man’s “free” will is not 100% free. The non-elect are not “free” to choose Christ any more than I am “free” to fly off a cliff. The non-elect may be physically capable of saying words like “I believe I am a sinner, and Christ died for me”, but truly their “free” will is as unable to desire Christ, as my body is unable to beat Albino Shaq in half-court one-on-one (I bet at this point, I could take you down in full-court one-on-one, though!).

    Conversely, the elect are not “free” to deny Christ. If God has revealed himself to you, “you gotta love Him”. Literally.

    So maybe a better term would be “bounded will”.

    (2) Despite predestination, (not just in terms of election, but in all areas of life), man’s sin is man’s fault. Man’s responsibility. It is man’s to take the consequences. Man’s sin earns a wage of death. (Fortunately, Jesus was a man, and he accepted the consequences for his bride).

  98. Echo,
    Just so you know, I’m no swine! I’m not in denial of anything and I don’t refuse to listening to all sides. Just wanted to through that out there from your post earlier, comparing me to the swine!

    You said how can I be sure of my salvation? I guess I’m as sure as any man can be! My certainty in Christ comes from Him and Him alone. Not from my doctrine of eternal security. Not from a doctrine of certain election, assuming that is why you ask how I could be so sure.

    As for compromising the word, I see it like this. I don’t think you and other Calvinists are interpreting the word correctly, I think many of the issues between Calvinists and non-Calvinists are debatable issues. There are good scriptures on both sides, and for you to deny that seems to be turning a blind eye to many scriptures; and hanging your hat on the ones you choose as the less debatable? I do listen to your reasoning and it strikes me as odd in some places, but I think your desire to seek the Truth will prevail above all, and the wrong teaching you and others think I sit under, I believe the same for you. Do I condemn it and think you are not part of the body of Christ? This is where we differ. I believe Jesus is the Savior of the world, and that is the gospel message. He came from glory, lived a perfect life, died for the sins of the world, rose on the third day, and is alive right now! That is the gospel, good news of Jesus Christ and in that I have my hope!

    You said
    “You know Tony, I used to think like you, or at least like this sentence. I used to think that I knew everything there was to know about the Bible and about theology. Because I believed this about myself, then for me, whether or not something was right was whether or not I agreed with it. If I believed that that’s what the Bible taught, then it was correct. If it wasn’t what I believed to be biblical, then it was wrong. If I agreed with it, it was true, if not, it wasn’t.
    Yep, I used to think that way. Then one day I discovered that just about everything I thought was pretty much wrong, and I had been not just naive, but terribly arrogant in my ignorance. Only then did I become teachable.”

    Explain to me how you are any different now. YOU are no different; it is what you believe that is different. You still think you know what the truth is; the truth for you has just changed. So let’s not consider anyone arrogant, or un-teachable. If your premise is true, then you are still arrogant and unteachable yourself; the truth has just changed for you. Don’t be so hard on yourself in other words! If I was so unteachable, I would be on here telling you that you’re wrong and not a born again Christian! My attitude has not reflected a non-teachable arrogant know-it-all; I am seeking the truth constantly, as stated earlier in my posts. I want to know the truth, and in the end if I decide my truth will remain the same based on scriptures, then I’m not an arrogant know-it-all, not according to your logic, I’m arrogant and unteachable unless I believe like you! This is just like the guys your warning me about and not at all consistent with what you said later in the post about following a false prophet and seeking Christ for me and my family, and as long as I’m not compromising then I’m not in sin.

    I just think it is odd, and very judgmental to think that anyone who is not following the doctrine of Calvinism as compromising the gospel, and therefore in sin. Scary connecting the dots if you ask me. Since when is God as sovereign over all things the main point of the gospel?

    God As The Author of Sin?

    I disn’t need an emergency explanation of Evil, but yours still didn’t answer the question of who author’s evil? My point is this, if He (God) created the angels to worship Him except one He created to rebel against Him, and then created Adam and Eve to Glorify Him, except when He would have them sin against Him, so that He can just glorify Himself again through the redemption of fallen man in Jesus Christ; using this philosophy; God seems to be the author of Evil and Sin. He created them both, and then instructed them what to do, or made things happen according to Calvinist doctrine.

    You said,
    “This is certain, definite proof that God brings about everything that comes to pass. Does that make him the author of sin? No. He neither creates sin, nor does it himself. We do it of our own free will. God has ordained it yes, he has brought it about yes, but HE HIMSELF is not sinning, because his intentions are different.”

    I never said God is sinning, I said he created it for us, according to the doctrine you guys follow.
    To me the Judas argument is not a good one. I see it like this, if Judas was being used by God to sin against Jesus, God brought about his rebellion to satisfy something greater. But this is inconsistent with a God who calls us friends, a God who is the author of everything good, and a God who attributes evil to Satan, Not just the end result. See you say God brings about a bunch of bad stuff through our sin because at least in the end good will come about for someone. I believe this is referred to as suffering and the sovereignty of God! Joseph and all his brothers are condemned to die in their sin by God, but at least Joseph will be able to save some people. Maybe my logic is flawed here, but that seems to be what you’re saying.

    So God is not the author, or creator of it, He just manipulates us to sin against Him, only so He can use it for a greater cause, Himself? And this makes sense how? He brings about our sin against Him, so that He can get glory out of it by making it all better in the end? Wow that is the first I heard of that, but it makes sense, it is the only way to defend the origination of sin and evil by a sovereign over all things God argument. By the way, I was looking for a biblical answer to evil, not the Westminster Confession doctrine of faith. I told you earlier my problem with talking to folks about Calvinism, is the constant pointing to doctrinal documents or beliefs written by Augustine, Luther, Calvin, etc. and vague scriptures! I want clear scriptures and no input from doctrinal stance that already have a mind made up!

    I don’t believe I’m following a false prophet or doctrine. My point was that people think, if it’s not Calvinism being preached then it’s a false doctrine, contrary to the real gospel message, but apparently you guys are there too. Either I’m arrogant, or following the wrong doctrine according to the Calvinist position; but I’m seeking to follow Jesus not a man made doctrine. I want what the bible has for me, and not the doctrinal stance written by men and pastors in the 16th century. If that was the case, then I would follow men who wrote similar confessions of faith like John Wesley who doesn’t follow Calvinism but had a large followi9ng then and today based on his theological stance against Calvinism. My church is a non-denominational church that will admit to not having everything all figured out; But has the heart of The Savior on our mind and heart. We want what God wants and will continue to seek after that.!
    Peace,
    Tony

  99. Rube,
    I may have eluded to this statement in my earlier posts, but I don’t think what you said can be logically given your ideas that man is not free to choose or to not choose.

    You said
    “Despite predestination, (not just in terms of election, but in all areas of life), man’s sin is man’s fault. Man’s responsibility. It is man’s to take the consequences. Man’s sin earns a wage of death. (Fortunately, Jesus was a man, and he accepted the consequences for his bride).”

    If your not free to choose, how is it your responsibility? If it was God’s idea, then how is it your responsibility? I can’t get passed this point. If God choose it to be, Lucifer’s rebellion, and Adam’s sin, then how is it their responsibility?

    The Insanity Defense!
    An insanity defense is a strategy used in court to demonstrate that a defendant was insane when he or she committed a crime. In many jurisdictions, a defendant may be found innocent of a crime if it can be proven that he or she was not of sound mind at the time the crime was committed. In fact, if the insanity defense is proven beyond a reasonable doubt, a defendant may be acquitted after admitting to committing the crime, even without showing remorse.
    This is more like the “bounded will” idea. Your bound to make these decisions, therefore you have no chance of doing what you want to do, so your not in your right mind at all! Your in someone elses mind!
    To me this is anotehr concept not backed up in scripture.
    Tony

  100. If you’re not free to choose, how is it your responsibility? If it was God’s idea, then how is it your responsibility? I can’t get past this point. If God chose it to be, Lucifer’s rebellion, and Adam’s sin, then how is it their responsibility?

    Because they did it. If God ordains that I hit my thumb with a hammer, then it is I who feels the pain, who bears the consequences. Indeed, if you can’t get past this point, you’ll probably never accept Calvinism (which probably doesn’t worry you too much).

    There is not necessarily a connection between ability and responsibility. Failure to understand this is a big problem all over our society. The insanity defense is just one big example. If Johnny can’t pass his reading proficiency tests because he has a learning disability, or because he has a troubled home situation, or because he is from a disadvantaged race, we’ll go ahead and pass him. To flunk him would just be unfair.

    But this is good news. This disjunction between ability and consequences has a positive flip-side. It is possible for Jesus to bear our consequences, even though he did nothing wrong. How is that fair?

  101. Even clearer: how is it Pharaoh’s responsibility for not letting God’s people go, when it was God who repeatedly
    hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

    But in the end, it was Pharaoh who committed the sins (using his “free” will and his heart hardened by God), so he and all of Egypt suffered the plagues, and defeat in the Red Sea. And though Pharaoh surely meant it for evil, God meant it for his own glory. It says so quite clearly in Ex 10:1-2, and you must know how often God used his divine defeat of Egypt throughout the bible. In the preface to the 10 commandments, for instance, it is the reason given for obedience.

    So we see again the pattern: God “bounds” man’s “free” will so that man intends evil and commits sins, God uses the sins to further his glory, and yet God holds man responsible for sinning.

  102. But then God is some sadistic puppet master who likes to see you in pain or suck your thumb, one or the other! It still makes no sense why God would ordain it, or better yet, make it impossible for Adam to resist sin, but then punish him. Adam has no choice in the matter but feels the consequence because someone has to? Or he was just to close? Not working for me, but your right I’m not losing sleep over it, just trying to see if both sides make sense. That my friend doesn’t make sense.

    In your analysis of Jesus forcing us to sin, would then make it fair I guess. God makes us sin for His glory, becasue eventually He will send His only son to redeem all of our sins, that God made happen anyway!

    Not at all the theology I was thinking of when I started blogging with you guys that is for sure!

    Peace
    Tony

  103. eventually He will send His only son to redeem all of our sins, that God made happen anyway!

    Not all to be sure, unless you are a universalist!

    Adam has no choice in the matter but feels the consequence because someone has to?

    Pharaoh has no choice in the matter but feels the consequence because someone has to? Does that look any different to you, since Pharaoh was a “bad guy”, and Adam was kind of a “good guy”? Scripture is explicitly clear that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and that Pharaoh bore the consequences of his hard heart. You need to think on that for a while — I don’t think your theology can account for Pharaoh — and once it can, it can account for Adam & Eve, and Judas Iscariot, and Joseph’s brothers (and all of humanity and the problem of evil!) as well! But once you stretch that far, you’ll probably be a Calvinist!

    Come on in, the theology’s fine!

  104. Maybe he is a universalist:

    eventually He will send His only son to redeem all of our sins, that God made happen anyway!

    We’ll find out if Tony takes this quiz:

    The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

    1. All the sins of all men.
    2. All the sins of some men,
    3. Some of the sins of all men.
    4. None of the sins of any man, pending their response.

    Which is it gonna’ be, Tony?

  105. Bruce, can there be a 5th answer?

    “All of the sins of any man, pending their response?”

  106. To settle the Pharaoh thing, this is my surmise of that argument!

    When “Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said” (Ex. 8:15). This is not a case of “sovereign reprobation.” The Scripture teaches that it is always God’s will for men to serve Him, but when they reject Him He rejects them and judges them and makes examples of them. Jesus said if you confess me before men, I will confess you before my father in heaven (Matt 10:32),

    Compare 2 Thess. 2:10-12 — “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; BECAUSE THEY RECEIVED NOT THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH, THAT THEY MIGHT BE SAVED. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: THAT THEY ALL MIGHT BE DAMNED WHO BELIEVED NOT THE TRUTH, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
    These sinners will be damned but not because they are not sovereignly elected and not because they are sovereignly reprobate but because of their personal decision in regard to the truth. God did make an example of Pharaoh, but to go beyond what the Bible says and to claim that God chose to create Pharaoh for the purpose of reprobating him is a great error and is not in line with the name of the loving God.

    As for my quiz, I think I’ll take the 5th option. Call it Universalist, fatalist, Calvinist, whatever kind of ist you want, I don’t care. To me God send His son to die for all humanity, and all sin, it is up to us to collect. You guys continue to point out 1 thing I said as if it proves anything, but never have you answered my questions.

    Take Jesus calling himself the bread of life for example, and paralleling Himself with the manna that God sent down from heaven to the Children of Israel. Were they forced at gun-point to collect their provisions? Did God so entice them with the manna that it was so irresistible, and they couldn’t deny it? Or did they collect it own their own merit, and choice?

    Consider Phil 2, 3 Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.4 Don’t think only about your own affairs; but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing.5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.6 Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.7 He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.8 And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminals death on a cross.9 Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every name”

    Jesus dies for us “while we were yet sinners”, and didn’t think of himself regardless of Calvin’s take on the matter. He humbled himself, which is to say, he thought of others as better than himself.

    As for whom He dies for, and who He desires to be saved?

    2 Tim 3…3 knowing this first: Those scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget…….
    9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, F10 not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

    What is He longsuffering for? He wants us all to come to repentance (He is not willing any to perish), his desire for our salvation is what keeps Him from coming in all of His glory now, and bringing forth the prophecy, that one day Every Knee Shall bow and Every Tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD!

    1 john 1 says “1 my little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (The whole world does mean the whole world right? So all men, women, child, the whole world)

    John 12:32 says, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”

    Cain had a choice –
    Gen 4:6 so the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”

    Israel had a choice:
    Duet 30:15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them>”

    God wants to have mercy upon all men (Rom. 11:32)
    God desires to reconcile all men to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19)
    The promise of faith by Jesus is for all (Gal. 3:22)
    Jesus was a ransom for all men (1 Tim. 2:6)
    Jesus tasted death for all men (Heb. 2:9)
    Jesus bought (redeemed) even unsaved false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1)
    God desires all men to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9)
    The iniquity of all men was laid on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6)

    My point here is there are great thoughts on both sides, to say I’m lost without the theology of John Calvin is just not what scripture teaches.

    Peace,
    Tony

  107. Your proposed 5 is identical to 4; they could be reworded together as “All or none of the sins of any man, pending their response”
    4+5 is an explicit denial of election/predestination: God doesn’t elect Christians, men elect to be Christians; God doesn’t pre-destine, he only fore-knows. Thus election is reduced to God’s response, pending man’s response.

  108. To settle the Pharaoh thing, this is my surmise of that argument! When “Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said” (Ex. 8:15). This is not a case of “sovereign reprobation.”

    You chose the wrong scripture. Ex 9:12, Ex 11:10, Ex 14:8 all say not just that the Lord predicted that Pharaoh’s heart would be hard(ened), but that the Lord did the hardening: “the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh”. Look especially at Ex 10:1-2:

    Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

    In a court of law, that’s what we would call (a) a confession, and (b) motivation.

  109. Rube,
    Again you avoid the other scriptures, we must put all of them together, yes the heart was hardened by God, but Pharoah rejected God and His people. You say I chose the wrong scripture, but that is becasue it doesn’t line up with you stance! God tells us in the rest of the bible that He desires everyone to obey His commands, but if we don’t he can harden our heart, all of us. Jesus said, if we confess Him before men He will confess us before His father, and if we deny Him before man, He will deny us before His father!

  110. As for 2 Thess. 2:10-12, you missed the main point, right under your nose. Let me toggle the emphasis:

    And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause GOD SHALL SEND THEM STRONG DELUSION, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE A LIE: THAT THEY ALL MIGHT BE DAMNED WHO BELIEVED NOT THE TRUTH, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    WHY did they not receive the love of the truth? Because God deluded them; because God caused them to believe a lie. In this respect, look also at Is 6:8-11,Mat 13:10-15, Mk 4:11-12, Lk 8:10, which explains that Jesus taught in parables, SO THAT the non-chosen would not understand, repent, and be forgiven! God is purposefully hiding the truth from some people, and preventing them from attaining salvation!

    As for my quiz, I think I’ll take the 5th option. Call it Universalist, fatalist, Calvinist, whatever kind of ist you want, I don’t care. To me God send His son to die for all humanity, and all sin, it is up to us to collect.

    What it’s called is Arminian. Fortunately, it is not up to us to collect, because in our sinful state, we are unable to collect — unable to desire to collect, unable to recognize our sinfulness, unable to recognize God’s holiness, unable to acknowledge God’s sovereignty.

    Actually, more specifically than Arminian, it’s called Conditional Atonement. You might or might not already be aware that the five points of Calvinism (TULIP) were not only not written by Calvin, but they also came AFTER, and in direct response to, the five points of Arminianism. Hop over here to see the five points side-by-side. I bet if you read them all, you will understand that you are a four- or five-point Arminian.

    He is not willing any to perish

    You must agree that there’s God’s will, and there’s God’s will. Even though He is not willing any to perish, many will indeed perish, so it must be God’s will for them to perish. Neither is God willing that any should ever sin — but people sin all the time. Avoiding the overloaded term ‘will’, I divide them as what God ‘wants’ or ‘desires’, and what God ‘ordains’. There are fancy theological words for these, one is God’s ‘decretive will’, the other is something else.

  111. yes the heart was hardened by God, but Pharoah rejected God and His people. You say I chose the wrong scripture, but that is becasue it doesn’t line up with you stance! God tells us in the rest of the bible that He desires everyone to obey His commands, but IF we don’t THEN he can harden our heart, all of us.

    I initially presented ALL of the scriptures about Pharaoh’s hardened heart, and YOU hand-picked one that (when read all by itself) allows for YOUR stance. To summarize, my stance is
    (a) God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, therefore Pharaoh rejected God. God hardens the hearts of all the non-elect, therefore they reject God.

    And your stance is:
    (b) Pharaoh rejected God, therefore God hardened his heart. IF we reject God, THEN he hardens our heart.

    If you can read ALL of the scriptures about Pharaoh’s hardened heart, and interpret them together as (b) instead of (a), then I can’t see any point in continuing this conversation. Even an atheist can tell that the plain meaning of the scriptural text is (a); your interpretation is obviously colored by your worldview.

    Check back for other threads though, you might find some stuff you like.

  112. Rube,
    Again you avoid the other scriptures, we must put all of them together, and tak ethe whole council of God in context! Yes the heart was hardened by God, but Pharoah rejected God and His people many times before that. Dating all the way back to Joseph!In fact Pharoah attempted to kill all of the male babies of the Children of Israel through the mid-wives and God sent Moses and others to encourage Pharoah to let the Children of Israel go. You say I chose the wrong scripture, but that is becasue it doesn’t line up with you stance! God tells us in the rest of the bible that He desires everyone to obey His commands, but if we don’t he can harden our heart, all of us. Jesus said, if we confess Him before men He will confess us before His father, and if we deny Him before man, He will deny us before His father!

  113. Tony, looks like a possible double-post there, don’t miss my pre-emptive response (to the earlier version)

    And I’m still curious as to your score on the “Am I an Arminian?” quiz

  114. Regarding 106, i knew that rube, I was changing the word “none” to “all” to make it more palatable to Tony.

    He would likely never take 4 but gladdly jump on 5. It just demonstrates that most of the debate is based on misunderstandings of semantics and implications. I posed the question today with some students and found this very evident in their initial responses. (All were fearful of 4 but receptive to 5). After logically looking at what each response actually meant 3 out of the 4 chose number 2 and the fourth couldn’t stop leaning between 4/5 and 1.

  115. Well good for (3 out of 4) of your students for getting the right answer (and LWC and BBC for teaching the truth)! (That fourth guy might need some private tutoring though…)

  116. The Thess sripture is conditional upon their belief, no matter how you read it, “that they might all be damned who believed not the truth!”

    What about the other scriptures? I understand where the TULIP came from, but I still don’t see how it proves anything. Nothing within the TULIP concept proves anything.

    Total depravity of Man –
    The Bible teaches that man is morally corrupt (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-18) and dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) and spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2:14), but it nowhere teaches that man cannot respond to the gospel

    Unconditional Election
    The Bible plainly states that God has called all who will come to Christ. God calls through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14) and the gospel is to be preached to every creature (Mk. 16:15). God calls “whosoever will” (Rom. 10:13; Rev. 22:17). God calls every one that believes on Christ. “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40).

    Limited Atonement
    I gave those to you earlier but was no response, here they are again
    God wants to have mercy upon all men (Rom. 11:32)
    God desires to reconcile all men to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19)
    The promise of faith by Jesus is for all (Gal. 3:22)
    Jesus was a ransom for all men (1 Tim. 2:6)
    Jesus tasted death for all men (Heb. 2:9)
    Jesus bought (redeemed) even unsaved false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1)
    God desires all men to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9)
    The iniquity of all men was laid on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6)

    Irresistable GRace
    Think of the choice Cain was given in Gen 4
    Consider This also:
    2 Cor. 4:3-4 — “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not (who blinded them), lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

    As for P we can let that one pass!

    I’m not concerned about my classification becasue these do not define me or my salvation. Jesus does!

    I didn’t hand pick 1 about God hardening Pharoahs heart, I simply stated that prior to God hardening the heart of Pharoah, God and his peole asked for the Children of Israel to be released several times, then God said He will cause the heart of Pharoah to be hardened. Either way, your philosophy is coming through strong on this last post. If, then, if God hardened Pharoahs heart then God hardenes unbelievers hearts etc.

    You said
    WHY did they not receive the love of the truth? Because God deluded them; because God caused them to believe a lie. In this respect, look also at Is 6:8-11,Mat 13:10-15, Mk 4:11-12, Lk 8:10, which explains that Jesus taught in parables, SO THAT the non-chosen would not understand, repent, and be forgiven! God is purposefully hiding the truth from some people, and preventing them from attaining salvation!

    Read the Is scripture, and it says “They see what I do, but they don’t perceive it’s menaing. They hear my words, but they don’t understand. SO They will not turn from their sins and be forgiven!”

    Where and how does this prove your point? It states that clearly that becasue of seeing and hearing, but not putting it together with The Truth, they will not turn from their sins, because it takes this reality to turn from our sins, and be forgiven!

    You input things into scripture that ar enot there if you use this to prove anything other than all we have to do is see His creation, hear His words, understand, this will casue us to turn from our sins, and then we will be forgiven!

    Another point is this. The parables no one understood, even the disciples had to get him to explain them? Right? So is Jesus talking to His disciples then since the had to explain it to them in v 13-20?

    Not sure this one helps you either.

    Tony

  117. Well good for LWC and BBC for teaching the truth

    Where does he let on what LWC/BBC teaches? I didn’t see it anywhere.

    FWIW, 4 and 5 are out. I don’t believe in a contingent God. If God is contingent, and if holding that is a requirement for being I Christian, then I am not a Christian. Also, 4 and 5 are really just versions of 3. In the original questionaire #4 isn’t there for that very reason. I added it just to confuse things.

  118. Arghh! I can’t resist responding!

    The Thess sripture is conditional upon their belief, no matter how you read it, “that they might all be damned who believed not the truth!”

    No matter how you read it, their (lack of) belief is conditional on whether or not God deluded them.

    The Bible teaches that man is morally corrupt (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-18) and dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) and spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2:14), but it nowhere teaches that man cannot respond to the gospel

    How about I Cor 12:3?
    What do you think morally corrupt, dead in trespasses and sins, and spiritually blind mean? Evidently you think they mean morally corrupt, but able to recognize sinfulness, not quite dead, but alive enough to choose for Christ, and spiritually seeing enough to recognize a good deal when you see it.

    The Bible plainly states that God has called all who will come to Christ.

    I explained this multiple times in this thread already. Search the original post up top for the word “effectual”.

    For your Limited Atonement verses, I have responded to almost all of those issues already. God desires/wants is not the same as God ordains; The Universal Call of the gospel is not the same as the Effectual Call, “all” can always be understood as “New (Testament) and Improved: Now also for Gentiles”. 2 Pet 2:1 is a very interesting verse. Never seen that before, and I don’t have a solid answer off the cuff. I would say that something very tricky is going on here, because obviously one who is “bought=redeemed” is not destined for destruction/condemnation from long ago. But obviously, it’s only obvious to me, and not obvious to you. Hold on that one for now, though, and give me a chance to open a new, separate thread on it. This one has gotten way way too long, and I am in need of fresh material for new posts!
    For Irresistable Grace, yes God also is sovereign over the works of Satan, and also uses those sinful works to His glorious ends, without sinning Himself. See also Job, the Crucifixion, and the Fall.

    Read the Is scripture, and it says “They see what I do, but they don’t perceive it’s menaing. They hear my words, but they don’t understand. SO They will not turn from their sins and be forgiven!” Where and how does this prove your point? It states that clearly that becasue of seeing and hearing, but not putting it together with The Truth, they will not turn from their sins, because it takes this reality to turn from our sins, and be forgiven!

    Once again, you don’t go back enough in causality. What is the cause of seeing and not perceiving, hearing and not understanding? In this specific case, it is because Jesus is speaking in Parables. Jesus is hiding the true meaning. In general, the cause is lack of the Holy Spirit. For the elect, the Holy Spirit adds perception to seeing, and understanding to hearing, so that the universal call is made effectual.

    Also, you misquote. Isaiah doesn’t say “SO they will not turn from their sins and be forgiven”, it says “LEST they … turn and be healed”. I trust Jesus’ words to instruct me how to interpret Isaiah:

    And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12so that
    “they may indeed see but not perceive,
    and may indeed hear but not understand,
    LEST they should turn and be forgiven.”

    Why is that word LEST there? Isn’t it a good thing that they turn and be forgiven? Does not God desire ALL to turn and be forgiven? The reason Jesus gives for speaking in Parables is to KEEP PEOPLE OUT. Keep who out? The non-elect, of course!

  119. Here’s the new post for discussing 2 Pet 2:1

  120. Rube,
    Sorry for the constant nagging, as it must seem, I just really enjoy knowing where you are coming from and in no way am I trying to run on and on, if that is the way it seems I apologize!

    I suppose it’s time to move on, beating a dead horse gets old for all involved! You make solid points but it seems to me you guys assume things more than it is a truth by the word of God alone.

    To your point of The Elect and The Holy Spirit, when are you endowed, empowered, or receive the Holy Spirit and how does this process take place? According to your argument, only the Holy Spirit in us can make it (salvation, coming to our sense about Jesus) happen. Is the elect born with it? Does God give the Holy Spirit to the Elect before they are “saved”?

    And finally, this stuff you added about God’s desires/wants not being the same as what He ordains hits me strange. The God of everything in heaven and on earth who is so powerful, he can do anything, he can make anybody do anything He wants them to do, and says in His word that he wants and desires ALL men to be saved, but “effectually” He doesn’t do it? Why? Why would a God who wants and desires something being so sovereign in everything, not make His desires and wants come to pass?

    Your quote here:
    “God desires/wants is not the same as God ordains; The Universal Call of the gospel is not the same as the Effectual Call, “all” can always be understood as “New (Testament) and Improved: Now also for Gentiles”.
    While this is true, a gentile is really someone who isn’t a Jew right? So that would still mean the same thing as all people now wouldn’t it?

    Anyway, good luck on the other blog, hope it goes well, I assume by your Argh, you resulted to not respond back to my Arminian ways that can not be changed and that is cool. I was not out to change anyone just seeing where people are coming from and presenting the other side as well.
    Peace
    Tony

  121. To your point of The Elect and The Holy Spirit, when are you endowed, empowered, or receive the Holy Spirit and how does this process take place? According to your argument, only the Holy Spirit in us can make it (salvation, coming to our sense about Jesus) happen. Is the elect born with it? Does God give the Holy Spirit to the Elect before they are “saved”?

    Good questions. I have no idea, nor do I feel that I need to have any idea of the mechanics of how any spiritual action works. As for when, certainly God doesn’t give the Holy Spirit to the Elect after they are saved, but whether Holy Spirit & Regeneration & Faith & Justification are all co-instantaneous, or spread out in time, who can know? Probably not very helpful, but Westminster addresses a possible time-delay between baptism and regeneration thusly:

    The efficacy of Baptism is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of this ordinance, the grace promised is not only offered, but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Ghost, to such (whether of age or infants) as that grace belongs unto, according to the counsel of God’s own will, in His appointed time.

    And finally, this stuff you added about God’s desires/wants not being the same as what He ordains hits me strange. The God of everything in heaven and on earth who is so powerful, he can do anything, he can make anybody do anything He wants them to do, and says in His word that he wants and desires ALL men to be saved, but “effectually” He doesn’t do it? Why? Why would a God who wants and desires something being so sovereign in everything, not make His desires and wants come to pass?

    Again, good questions. I could ask you the same. All Christians have to wrestle with the distinction between the perfection that God obviously desires, and the state of the world as it is. It’s the same as the problem of evil.

    As for the other blog, it is for you, so I hope you stick around at least long enough to see what develops. In the meantime, if you want to get really pissed off, you could go read Might makes Right

  122. Rube,

    Interesting discussion on “Might makes Right”. I have to say all the contemplating gave me a headache! Funny how the simplyconnect website didn’t make it, I guess he took your advice!

    I liked this comment you made, we can at least agree on this!

    “Which demonstrates that you are fundamentally opposed to Christianity, which believes our fallen, sinful nature is exactly what is wrong with everything. The only solution lies in the crucifixion of self, in recognition of the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

    This reminds me of when I first began a relationship with Jesus, I hung a sign on the door of my room that had this statement and question!

    “Good Morning Tony, Have You Died To Yourself This Morning”

    I used it as a daily reminded of the need for crucifying myself on a daily basis to better follow Jesus in every area of my life!

    I will stick around for sure to see what comes of the other blog, also I think all followers of Christ must wrestle with the issues of evil, and the state of our world today for sure. But the bible says Satan is the god of this world, for a time until Jesus comes back, so it’s state is attributed to him and him alone, not God’s in my opinion. From abortion to drugs to seriel killers and tyrants who seek to exterminate entire races, they are all works of satan and his crew, these are things I have personally encountered and they are real. So the answer of evil and our twisted world being the way it is, results from
    A. the sinful state of fallen man (we both agree it all starts here) B. the rule satan has had on this world and fallen man since Adam fell!
    Peace
    Tony

  123. I don’t know if this makes a difference to you, but B. was before A. Satan was a deceiver before Eve & Adam fell, and you must admit there’s at least a little causality there (if no snake, would they have tasted the forbidden fruit eventually anyways?) And I don’t know about “god of this world”. “Ruler of this world” I would go with, but Job for instance shows Satan as a ruler still underneath God’s sovereign rule (much like any other ruler in this world)

  124. Right, I wasn’t putting them in cronoligical order, just making a statement in regards to the answer of evil in this world. I was qouting scripture (translation depending) when I used the generic form of god.
    2 Cor 4:3
    And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
    4:4
    in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

    This is a good scripture as well to show just who blinds the unbeliever from seeing and hearing the word of God.
    Tony

  125. Rube,

    Re: 97

    You said:
    “As for free will, my understanding of God’s sovereignty and predestination (determinism) tells me that my will is not free. I am not free to choose anything that it is not predestined for me to choose. Thus my experience of control over my destiny is only an illusion, due to my ignorance of the future. There are probably clever ways to redefine “free will” so that it really, truly, non-illusorily does exist, but let’s face it — you have to get at least a little tricky and counterintuitive.
    But there are two important facts that I hope we can all agree on:
    (1) Man’s “free” will is not 100% free. The non-elect are not “free” to choose Christ any more than I am “free” to fly off a cliff. The non-elect may be physically capable of saying words like “I believe I am a sinner, and Christ died for me”, but truly their “free” will is as unable to desire Christ, as my body is unable to beat Albino Shaq in half-court one-on-one (I bet at this point, I could take you down in full-court one-on-one, though!).
    Conversely, the elect are not “free” to deny Christ. If God has revealed himself to you, “you gotta love Him”. Literally.
    So maybe a better term would be “bounded will”.
    (2) Despite predestination, (not just in terms of election, but in all areas of life), man’s sin is man’s fault. Man’s responsibility. It is man’s to take the consequences. Man’s sin earns a wage of death. (Fortunately, Jesus was a man, and he accepted the consequences for his bride).”

    Echo says:

    Well, I still insist that we have free will, but you’re right, I have to tinker with the definition. That’s not because my definition of free will is a modification of what the definition ought to be, but because the atheist’s definition of free will is not what it ought to be, and I refuse to allow him to have all the control over how I define my terms.

    So let me define my terms.

    Man’s free will is not autonomy.

    Man’s free will is not the same as God’s sovereignty.

    Man’s free will is LIKE God’s soveriegnty (we are, after all made in his image), but it is not the same. They are analogously related.

    Man’s free will is not independent, but dependent.

    Man is a creature. Man’s free will is the only free will a creature can have. It is free, but it is dependent upon its Creator/Sustainer.

    You have to maintain man’s free will in order to maintain man’s responsibility, and God’s not being the “author or approver of sin”. If free will is an illusion, then responsibility is too. You said that man remains responsible, though he is not free. How can that be? How can it be just for God to hold us accountable for something we have done if we had not freely chosen to do it? It can be said that we freely choose to sin while also maintaining that we are slaves to sin. We cannot fail to sin precisely because we cannot fail to WANT to sin. It is OUR heart that is sinful and wicked, and our sin is the consequence/result of THAT.

    Yes, God predestines everything that happens. Yes, he has decreed it all. However, we remain causative/effectual AGENTS. God has given us that. He has given us that so that we can freely enter into fellowship with him.

    It’s true that when the Spirit resurrects you from spiritual death you immediately fall to your knees and repent and beg God for mercy. It is true that there can be no other reaction. But that’s not because you didn’t freely choose it. It IS because you freely chose to repent. Sure, your faith compelled you, but you still freely chose to do it. Sure, you can’t resist doing it, but that’s because you can’t resist WANTING to do it. Why? Because he is our Creator, and the natural response is for us to want to be united with him. That’s why every civilization on earth had a religion. They were crying out to God. But they, like Cain, thought that they could approach him however THEY wanted. And what did they want? Sinful rebellion. Why did they want it? Because they hate God. Why do they hate God? Because they inherited that hatred from their father Adam (just like I inherited a distaste for peperoni pizza).

    Yes, at the end of the day, God is the “first cause”, setting it all in motion. But he is much more. God is not sitting idle at the beginning of some infinite chain of causation way, way back in the recesses of eternity past. God is living and active in this world constantly. But just because God is behind everything does not mean that we don’t have free will. God is an effectual agent in everything that happens, but he is not the ONLY agent. We too are agents, just not in the same way that he is. We are analogies of God, not perfect copies. We are not God.

    As for your use of the word “determinism”, I would suggest you drop it, because it has too much baggage (God being ONLY the first cause, for example). The world is not “determined” by the nature of a first cause which brings everything about according to the laws of nature, as the determinist says; rather, the world is created by its Creator, upheld by its Sustainer, redeemed by its Redeemer, etc. God is constantly at work in the world. Think not of God being the first cause, but EVERY cause; yet not the ONLY cause. For everything is decreed and brought about by God in his acts of creation and providence and redemption, but he employs secondary causes as well.

    Otherwise, it couldn’t be true that “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” There must be dual agency. There MUST be. God is not the only one acting. We are “free”, but that doesn’t mean autonomy. It means dependent freedom, creaturely freedom, analogous to God’s freedom.

    Determinism is a philosophical system based on the rationistic study of causation. It is not informed by special revelation (the Word), but only by general revelation (reason). Do not bring determinism to the Scriptures, and then interpret the Scriptures in light of determinism, no matter how compelling determinism is, or how you may shape it. Drop everything, start from the Scripture. Don’t start from reason, and then shape it with Scripture. Start with Scripture, and then shape your understanding of Scripture with reason. That’s very important.

    Please take nothing personally.

    :)

  126. Tony,

    Re:98

    I’m not sure, but I don’t think you understood a single word I said. I am glad, however, that your hope is in the gospel. Great. Cling to that. It IS your only hope, as it is mine.

    About quoting confessions: since I hold to the Westminster Confession, then those words are my words. I have made them mine. I have claimed them as my own, even though I didn’t author them. Don’t think that you don’t have a confession; you do. You just aren’t quoting anything. You have doctrinal beliefs.

    Speaking of doctrine: doctrine and Christ are not really two different things. Clinging to Christ MEANS clinging to a certain set of doctrines, believing in them. That Jesus died for your sins is a DOCTRINE. By your own admission, a DOCTRINE is your only hope. It is the TRUTH of the DOCTRINE of the gospel that you have put your hope in. This truth that gives rise to the doctrine is found in the Word of God. And, well, Jesus IS the Word of God in the flesh. See John 1. Having faith in the Word of God and having faith in Jesus is not two different things.

    Anyway, we stress the sovereignty of God, because it’s part of being consistent with the gospel. For example, you said that the gospel is your only hope. That’s true. We just want to be sure that we aren’t hoping in ourselves ALONG WITH hoping in Jesus. That’s all.

    See, it works like this. If we have to choose to believe in Jesus all on our own, if we can’t say that this is something God does (i.e., faith is a gift from God), then we are actually hoping a little, eensy weensy bit in ourselves. After all, in that scheme, if we don’t reach out to Jesus, we won’t be saved. So, therefore, we hope in Christ, but we can also sort of pat ourselves on the back a little bit. We’re participating in our salvation, if only a little. The Calvinist says, nope, even this little bit will not be allowed to stand. GOD brings us to himself, not the other way around. God comes to us, like Jesus came to earth. That’s why we insist on the sovereignty of God, and that’s why people have probably told you that you’re messing up the gospel. In your view, you’re hoping MOSTLY in Christ, but not completely. You still have to trust yourself a little bit. I know you would wish to deny that, but you really can’t. I’m sorry. I wish you could. Or better yet, I wish churches were preaching the truth more often than not. But alas, they aren’t. Oh, but now you’re just gonna get mad at me.

    Look, forget the Adam and Eve thing for now. That’s step 56. We’re trying to start with step 1 here. You have to take this one step at a time.

    So, to sum up, God MUST be sovereign so that he can take ALL the credit for our salvation.

    And yep, everything is for his glory.

    Have you ever read John Piper? I think you’d like him. He’s a great, down to earth theologian. He’s not a full fledged, card carrying Calvinist – he’s a Baptist, but he’s good people. He writes good books that I think you would enjoy. Check him out.

    Echo

  127. Echo,

    I have read and heard John Piper through the Passion movement. Not a huge fan, though I have not read any of His books in totality, just a few glimpses.

    As for the trusting in myself just an insy winsy bit. I realize that is the stance Calvinism is taking but I still can’t buy it, based on ALL of what the scriptures teach. Faith is indeed a gift from God, but so is mercy, grace, wisdom, knwoledge, healing, miracles, etc. All of God’s gifts require our action or use of them to be effective wouldn’t you agree? He doesn’t need me, but for His gift of faith, grace, mercy etc, in me to work, I must take action. Without my action, they are just dead gifts. James said Faith without works is dead! So, without you doing something with the faith He gives you, it’s just dead faith! And dead faith is no-faith at all if you ask me!

    I can respect the step by step process, but to me there is noreason to hit step 1, when all of the future steps can’t be explained without me just acccepting step one! I believe step one then all the other unexplainable steps don’t matter, right? That’s not good enough for me, sorry.

    As for God taking all of the credit, He gets it from me. Without Him, I’m nothing and my choice for salvation, means nothing! Without His work, my choice is in vain anyway, so I get no glory of credit from the choice I’ve made. I puff not myself up, and boast only in the cross of Christ and what He has done! The problem is guys like Piper say, God didn’t die for me anyway, He died for Himself! God loves God, sure He thinks I’m alright, but salvation was provided becasue He loves himslef! These are some of the Piperisms, I have a hard tim e wrapping my hands around and connecting them with scriptures that clearly say the opposite. Words of Jesus that totally contradict what Piper and his clan try to spread as “doctrine”.

    And you definitely don’t make me mad, I know your trying to get a point across, leave out any personal attack and I’m gone! You have my word on that!

    Tony

  128. Tony,

    Re: 99

    Your critique of Rube is well founded, but not entirely correct.

    You are right to say that if it is ONLY God who is the effectual agent, then man’s responsibility is destroyed. However, man’s responsibility does not entail that man is the ONLY effectual agent either. God and man are BOTH effectual agents – but in different ways.

    The way in which we are an effectual agent is ANALOGOUS to the way that God is. This is because we are made in God’s image. We are analogies of God. We are not JUST LIKE God, but neither are we completely different from him, despite sin.

    E

  129. Rube,

    Re: 101

    YES! You got it more or less. God HARDENED Pharoah’s heart – however, Pharoah’s actions SPRING FROM this hardened heart, not somewhere else. Because his actions spring from his heart, not somewhere else, his actions are freely undertaken. He is pursuing the sinful desires of his heart. He is doing what he wants to do. However, that heart has been hardened by God. God is acting, by hardening Pharoah’s heart, but Pharoah is acting, by acting out of his hardened heart. The freely undertaken actions of God and Pharoah are both seen to be at work. Pharoah is thus responsible, but God is ultimately behind it all. This doesn’t mean Pharoah has no free will. He does. He freely chose to be evil because his heart was hard. That God hardened Pharoah’s heart is inconsequential to the fact that Pharoah’s actions are freely chosen and thus reflect his heart. Nonetheless, God is always part of the equation.

    E

  130. Tony,

    Re: 102

    No. No. No again. No.

    Read this passage VERY carefully:

    Rom 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!
    Rom 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
    Rom 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
    Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
    Rom 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”
    Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
    Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?
    Rom 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
    Rom 9:23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory–
    Rom 9:24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

    This passage is saying what we are saying. Rube is essentially saying this same thing, more or less, though I would tweak what he is saying a little.

    But look, Tony, look at this passage. Verse 18 says:

    Rom 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    GOD has mercy on whomever he wants, and if he wants to harden them, he does.

    But, you object, saying, wait, how can we then be blamed for sin? Paul knows you’re going to say that. He says in the VERY NEXT VERSE:

    Rom 9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

    In other words: doesn’t that harm man’s responsibility? How can it be Pharoah’s FAULT if God is the one who hardened his heart? Here is Paul’s response to YOU Tony:

    Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
    Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?

    So Tony, Paul, in the WORD OF GOD is asking you; and GOD HIMSELF is therefore asking you: Who do you think you are? Who do you think you are to speak back to God like this? I am not asking you this, the BIBLE is asking you this. You are saying that it’s not possible for God to bring things about and for him still to hold us accountable. The Word of God is clear in its response to such criticism: who do you think you are to talk back to God? That is what you are doing!

    Now this doesn’t just serve the purpose of rebuke. It does rebuke us. And make no mistake, it rebukes ME TOO. It is MY tendency to think just like you are. But we have to remember that GOD is the one who created all things for HIS GLORY.

    Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    Rom 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
    Rom 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
    Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    You see? All things are made by him; he is the source of all things. And all things are made through him, and consist through him. He is not just the Creator but the Sustainer. And all things are “to him”, meaning they are directed to him, they reflect his glory. They serve him. He brings this too about.

    But, you say, how is God glorified by sin? Scripture tells us:

    Rom 11:30 Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,
    Rom 11:31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.
    Rom 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

    Further:

    Rom 3:3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?
    Rom 3:4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”
    Rom 3:5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)
    Rom 3:6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world?
    Rom 3:7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?

    Notice that our unfaithfulness (sin) does not nullify God’s righteousness (faithfulness). Just because WE sin does not mean that God is somehow sinful. That’s the first point. This does not yet say HOW God is righteous despite sin, it just says that he IS. So we MUST begin by submission to Scripture, being committed to accepting whatever it says, no matter how much or how little we like it.

    Are you committed to accepting ALL of Scripture, no matter what it says, whether it agrees with you or not? I hope so. If so, you are obligated to accept that our sin does not harm God’s righteousness.

    Furthermore, it says, “our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God”. This is the truth. By way of contrast, our sinfulness only helps to highlight the righteousness of God, because we recognize that God is NOT like us. Where we break our promises, God does not. Where we are hateful and resentful toward others, God is not. See? If our earthly fathers were not always perfect, and sometimes didn’t train us properly or didn’t love us properly, we can be comforted to know that our Heavenly Father is not like that. He always loves us perfectly. So our sin glorifies God by way of CONTRAST. Think of a diamond on a piece of black velvet.

    It also says “through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory”. This is a fact. It’s in Scripture. This can’t be disputed, unless you want to argue with Paul. Do you want to argue with Paul? Since what he says is the Word of God, you’re really only arguing against God. Do you want to argue with God? Again, I would remind you: who are you to talk back to God? Who do you think you are? We cannot deny – we CANNOT deny the truths of Scripture. We MUST submit to Scripture. God demands it. If you don’t want to submit to Scripture, that’s fair enough, but you might want to come right out and confess that you really aren’t interested in submitting to Scripture.

    Do you want to submit to Scripture? Then submit to this, because I’m not making it up.

    Now that we are in submission to Scripture, and we recognize that even our sin glorifies God, because GOD SAYS SO, and we recognize that we, being lowly human creatures have NO RIGHT to demand of God that he explain himself to us – now we are ready for God to be merciful and give us an explanation. NOT to satisfy our curiosity, NOT to vindicate himself in our eyes, NOT because we have any RIGHT to know, but because he wishes to reveal himself to us: the Bible tells us that the purpose of sin is to bring it about that God would show us mercy.

    Rom 11:30 Just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience,
    Rom 11:31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.
    Rom 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
    Rom 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
    Rom 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
    Rom 11:35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
    Rom 11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

    Do you see what is being said here? GOD is saying that he is the one who has brought about disobedience, and it serves his glory because he is also the one who brings about mercy.

    Imagine if you will if Adam had never sinned. What would be true? Would Jesus have ever come to earth to die for us? No – it wouldn’t have been necessary.

    Rom 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

    Look: God SHOWS his love for us by sending his Son to DIE for us the horrible cursed death of the cross. And what great and abounding love it is! But this SHOWING of God’s love to us, this REVEALING of his love would not be possible unless Adam had sinned. Do you see that? Without sin, there is no need for redemption.

    If Adam had never sinned, how would mankind know anything of the mercy of God? He would never have to show mercy. He would not be revealed to us as merciful, but only as JUST.

    But the great mystery of the cross is that it perfectly exemplifies God’s JUSTICE and MERCY. This is a paradox that no human can ever acheive. If someone stands before a judge, and they are guilty of a crime, the judge can either be merciful towards them by giving them a lighter sentence, or he can uphold justice by giving them a tough sentence. He must do one or the other. He cannot do both.

    God, however, CAN do both at the cross. At the cross, God proves himself to be just, because he proves that he punishes sin. That’s why he punished Christ. But he also proves himself to be merciful, since Christ takes that punishment on INSTEAD of us. We get mercy, while Christ suffered justice. Both justice and mercy are revealed at the cross.

    If there had been no sin in the world, ONLY God’s justice would be revealed. We would all have been holy, because Adam would have been holy, and therefore, Adam would have earned heaven for himself, and we would earn heaven for ourselves – if sin had not come into the world. And this would only be justice, because if we were without sin, it would be perfectly just for God to admit us into heaven. However, as it is, we are sinful, so we have not earned heaven but hell. Surely you don’t wish to stop there, do you? You don’t want to stop at justice do you? Justice demands we all go to hell. BUT mercy is made possible by Christ, because thanks to Christ, God can be merciful to us without short changing his justice. This is the great revelation of God in Christ.

    Behold:

    Rom 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
    Rom 9:23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory–
    Rom 9:24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

    See, verse 22 speaks of God’s justice, which will be poured out on unbelievers, and verse 23 speaks of his mercy. WE believers are the vessels of mercy, meaning we will be shown mercy. We will not be shown mercy because we are believers, but rather, we are believers because God has determined to show us mercy. Again:

    Rom 9:15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
    Rom 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
    Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
    Rom 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    Notice: “it depends NOT on human WILL or exertion, but on GOD WHO HAS MERCY.”

    Read that carefully. This is not the word of Echo, this is the Word of God. Your will and efforts have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR SALVATION. You are not saved because of anything good about you or because you had the soundness of mind to choose to be a Christian. You are a believer because God has determined from all eternity that it should be so. Why, how? “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” And again, “he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.”

    Now, you might be thinking right about now that this is somewhat hard to understand. Let me tell you something. Not understanding it is NO EXCUSE for not believing it. You had better make up your mind to submit to Scripture regardless of what it says, regardless of whether or not you understand it. You have NO RIGHT to withold your agreement from Scripture until such time as you can understand it. God hereby demands that you believe this. You don’t have a choice. BELIEVE it or die. Period. Believe it first, and understanding will come in time. But make no mistake, you have NO RIGHT to blow this off, saying, boy, that’s really complicated, I don’t get it. That’s bunk, and you have no right to make such judgments. That’s an excuse you make to avoid a guilty conscience because you don’t believe what you know you should. The Bible doesn’t say believe whatever you can understand; rather, we are to believe it all, cover to cover, whether we can understand it or not.

    And believe me, this truth is all over the place in the Bible.

    Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
    Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
    Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

    GOD, not me, says that he chose us BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. Do you believe this? You had better. I’m not messing around here. I’m being quite serious. You don’t have the RIGHT to deny what this is saying. “Predestined” is God’s word, not mine. If you believe, it is because you were “predestined” “before the foundation of the world”. Do you believe this? Believe it. It’s in the Bible. Not just my bible, but yours too.

    Just in case you didn’t get the point the first time, Paul repeats it:

    Eph 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,
    Eph 1:12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

    See? God brings about your salvation, not you. God planned it all out from the beginning. Why? His glory.

    1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
    1Pe 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

    Peter confirms that we are “elect…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.” Elect means chosen. Now, you might say that perhaps God’s “foreknowledge” means that he looked into the future and saw that we would believe, so therefore he chose us.

    Maybe you don’t say it, but there are many that do. But seriously, this is wicked unbelief and the reflection of a sinful heart. Furthermore, it’s just plain stupid. If we would already choose God, why on EARTH would he bother to choose us before hand? What does it accomplish? It accomplishes nothing. It’s totally pointless and meaningless. How stupid. It is nonsense. It reverses the meaning to say this. It reverses “God chose us” to “we choose God”. I suppose that our choosing God actually CAUSES HIM to choose us? What kind of nonsense is this? This cannot possibly be the sovereign Almighty Creator of all things. This is more like some man whom we can manipulate. It says God chose us. Period.

    Joh 15:15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
    Joh 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
    Joh 15:17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
    Joh 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
    Joh 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

    Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide”. How crystal clear can it be? How absolutely unequivocating is the Scriptures on this point? This is a totally uncompromising stance here. YOU DID NOT CHOOSE ME, I CHOSE YOU. When? Before the foundation of the world. Why? for his glory. Is that clear?

    It is crystal clear. It cannot be denied. To deny it is wicked unbelief, especially in light of having read this careful exposition of it, which PROVES it from the Scriptures. This is not my word that I’m making up: every single point I have made has been a paraphrase of Scripture which I have pasted in for you. You have no right to deny what I am saying, because I am not saying it. I am only showing you where GOD says it.

    But don’t think for a second that this is a bad thing. This is the most wonderful stuff of Scripture there is! That’s why I’m so concerned to say that you had better believe it! I know how rewarding, comforting, and fruitful it is to believe it!

    Think about this: your salvation is out of your hands. It’s in God’s hands. Does that scare you? It shouldn’t. If your salvation were actually in your hands, I guarantee you would mess it up, sinner. I would too. This is a fact about sinners. We mess everything up we touch. King Midas turned everything he touched to gold; well, we sinners turn everything to sin and misery that we touch. We ruin everything.

    Meanwhile, God is utterly dependable. He is utterly faithful.

    Heb 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
    Heb 13:6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

    God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” And do you know that it’s impossible for God to lie? (See Heb 6). It is. He can’t lie. He can only speak the truth. If he says he won’t leave us or forsake us, it’s TRUE. Our salvation is therefore CERTAIN, because GOD has promised to do it.

    And again he says,

    Phi 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

    Paul says that he is “sure…that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” Now I know you’ve heard that before. Have you ever thought about what it means? We can be sure that in the end we will be saved, because GOD himself has promised to do it. If he began the work of salvation in us, which he has, then he will finish it, which he will. It is certain and true, and we can rest in that, knowing that he who is faithful will do it.

    And look at this passage:

    Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
    Col 1:10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
    Col 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
    Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
    Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
    Col 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

    Now, if God were not in control of what we do, then why would Paul pray that the Colossians would “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord”? I mean, if your “walk” is up to you, then what good does it do to pray about it? Many people ask, “If God is sovereign, why pray to him?” I respond, “If God is NOT sovereign, why pray to him?” We pray BECAUSE God is sovereign, BECAUSE he can bring about what we ask. Are you having trouble with some sin in your life? Don’t ask God to help YOU do it, ask him to do it FOR YOU! That’s truer to the situation anyway!

    It is GOD who has qualified us to share with the saints, it is GOD who strengthens us and delivers us from darkness to light, it is GOD who redeems us and grants that we would bear fruit to him, pleasing him. It is GOD.

    And if you don’t like it, God says:

    Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”
    Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?
    Rom 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
    Rom 9:23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory–
    Rom 9:24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

    Don’t skim it over – READ IT. Read it and submit to it! What God is saying here is crystal clear. If it is hard for you to understand, trust me, that’s a matter of you not wanting to believe it, because it is crystal clear.

    The question is not whether this view is based on Scripture, the question is: how much Scripture do you want to see before you will renounce your stubbornness and submit to it? How overwhelmed with Scripture do you need to be?

    God says:

    Isa 55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
    Isa 55:2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
    Isa 55:3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

    On God’s behalf I say: hear him, listen to him – that your soul may live. Listen to the Word of the Lord. For his sheep know his voice. Are you his sheep? Listen to him!

    Do not make him say it twice. Listen the first time, heed him, submit to him. Stop rebelling against him and submit to Scripture.

    And you know what? If your church doesn’t teach this, or especially if they would say that this is wrong, guess what? They are liars and blasphemers who refuse to LISTEN – that their souls may live.

    If they tell you that this is not true, or they say that the opposite is true, they are in rebellion against God, and they are lying!

    Thank God that doesn’t mean that they can’t be saved. Perhaps they can. We are all sinful, and lies are simply sin. Being sinful does not prevent you from going to heaven. But that does NOT mean that you are ENCOURAGED to sin. You are not. So if they are lying, yes, they are lying! That doesn’t mean that they can’t be saved – THEY CAN! But that doesn’t mean you should keep going to a church where you are lied to. Why would you even want to be lied to?

    And I’ll tell you what. You go find a church that teaches this, you won’t be sorry. You’ll be amazed to discover what you’ve been missing.

    Submit to Scripture, and go find a church that preaches it.

    Here is the charge to pastors:

    2Ti 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
    2Ti 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
    2Ti 4:3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
    2Ti 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

    Stop and look at verse 1: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom…” LOOK AT THAT!!! Look at how serious this charge is! It’s like the most serious kind of oath, taken with God as witness, and Christ Jesus, who is to JUDGE the living and the dead, and by his appearing and kingdom! Wow! That’s pretty serious stuff! And what follows? “Preach the Word.”

    Well, guess what? If you are preaching these truths, you aren’t really preaching the Word as clearly and explicitly as it can be preached, because you aren’t really interpreting it correctly. If this is your pastor, you need to go somewhere else. That doesn’t mean he’s going to hell, but it does mean you would be better off – AND MORE OBEDIENT TO GOD – to go somewhere else.

    But you do what you like. I am not your judge. Remember that you will stand before God someday and give an account for how you reacted to this, just as I will have to answer for writing it.

    E

  131. Tony,

    Re: 127

    You said:
    “As for the trusting in myself just an insy winsy bit. I realize that is the stance Calvinism is taking but I still can’t buy it, based on ALL of what the scriptures teach. Faith is indeed a gift from God, but so is mercy, grace, wisdom, knwoledge, healing, miracles, etc. All of God’s gifts require our action or use of them to be effective wouldn’t you agree? He doesn’t need me, but for His gift of faith, grace, mercy etc, in me to work, I must take action. Without my action, they are just dead gifts. James said Faith without works is dead! So, without you doing something with the faith He gives you, it’s just dead faith! And dead faith is no-faith at all if you ask me!”

    Echo says:

    That’s a very good point. You’re quite right that faith without works is dead. But you have to understand the point that James is making, and it seems that you do when you said that dead faith is no faith at all. That’s absolutely right! But then what can we say? We say that FAITH works if it is true faith. And again, this faith is a gift. That’s why Paul says:

    1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

    “…though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” Now what do you suppose Paul means by that? You want to have a doctrine based on ALL of Scripture? Don’t ignore this verse. Interpret it for me, would you?

  132. Tony,

    Re: 127 (Part 2)

    You said:
    “The problem is guys like Piper say, God didn’t die for me anyway, He died for Himself! God loves God, sure He thinks I’m alright, but salvation was provided becasue He loves himslef! These are some of the Piperisms, I have a hard tim e wrapping my hands around and connecting them with scriptures that clearly say the opposite.”

    Echo says:

    Since you didn’t read what Piper says about these statements, you are missing the point completely. The point Piper is making is that God does everything for his own glory. Our sin is used by him for his own glory, as is our redemption; you have to understand that this is why he created us in the first place. The very reason why we exist is to know God. He created us in order to enter into covenant with us, and thus reveal himself to us. In other words, everything serves God’s glory!

    So, Piper is exactly right, that Christ died for his own glory. Now, he phrases that by saying that Christ died for himself, and he uses that to get your attention. But he doesn’t mean that Christ didn’t die for us, to save us. Piper’s not saying that. I know that when you just read the quote out of context it looks like he’s saying that, but it’s not what he’s saying. You have to give one of his books a chance. Try “Desiring God.” You can probably get it at the library so that it costs you nothing.

    E

  133. Rube,

    Re: 106

    You said:

    “Your proposed 5 is identical to 4; they could be reworded together as “All or none of the sins of any man, pending their response” 4+5 is an explicit denial of election/predestination: God doesn’t elect Christians, men elect to be Christians; God doesn’t pre-destine, he only fore-knows. Thus election is reduced to God’s response, pending man’s response.”

    Echo says:

    A word about “foreknowledge”. It is only today that we think that this means simple propositional knowledge, as if God were simply looking into his crystal ball and discovering the future. So we think that God’s foreknowledge is when he looks out into the future and says, “Oh look, Echo’s choosing me, so I guess I’ll choose him too.”

    This is stupid. Knowledge is actually a much more robust concept in the Scriptures. Are you offended at my use of the word stupid, dear reader? I’m ok with that. It is stupid.

    What does the Bible say about Adam and Eve when Eve got pregnant?

    Gen 4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.”

    If I have to explain what this means in this instance, you’re too young to understand anyway.

    But look, the point is, the word “know” can mean lots of different things in the Bible. In fact, the Bible’s epistemology (philosophy of knowledge) is fully covenantal.

    That means that to know God is to be in covenant with him. That means if God foreknew us, then he was in covenant with us beforehand. Some people say that God foreknew us means that God loved us prior to our being born or whatever. Well, that’s part of it, but it’s more rich/robust than that. It’s a covenantal relationship. That means it is governed by terms, blessings and conditions.

    For you advanced students (for we are all students for life), this means that God was in the covenant of grace with them prior to. Look, here’s the verse…

    Rom 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

    See, the ones who God foreknew were predestined to be saved by Christ and conformed to his image. So the covenant that is entered into between God and those he foreknew is the covenant of grace.

    Now, this is kind of strange. How could God enter into covenant with people who did not yet exist?

    Enter the covenant of redemption, the covenant according to which the Father predestines us, the Son comes to earth and purchases us with his blood, and the Spirit applies that redemption to us. Yep, that’s a covenant. Want to read more about that?

    http://www.mbrem.com/covenant/covchod4.htm

    Here’s an article on the covenant of redemption by Charles Hodge.

    Here’s another by R. Scott Clark, a brilliant theologian.

    http://www.wscal.edu/clark/classicalcovtheology.php#On_the_Covenant_of_Redemption

    E

  134. Tony,

    Re: 107

    Whoops! You slipped.

    You said:
    “To me God send His son to die for all humanity, and all sin, it is up to us to collect.”

    Echo says:

    This clearly means that your salvation, as far as you’re concerned, is partly up to you. This is wrong, unbiblical, yuck.

    Now, it IS true that we DO act of our own FREE WILL when we repent. But when we repent: a) we are already saved, b) it is because the Holy Spirit has quickened our hearts and given us a gift of faith, and this faith – alone – justifies (saves) us.

    Gal 2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

    Paul seems to think that faith alone justifies us, not our works. But you disagree when you say that “it is up to us to collect”. Whoops! You mistakenly are disagreeing with Paul. Better fix it.

    And by the way, faith IS a gift:

    Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
    Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

    Oh, and our salvation is not a matter of works, that is, not of our doing. Oh and by the way:

    Rom 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

    Sometimes it can feel really good to admit that you’re wrong, because you gain so much wisdom and experience from it.

    And oh, by the way:

    Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
    Rom 9:18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    You quoted earlier that Pharoah hardened his own heart, as if it counters what the Scripture says about God hardening his heart.

    What! Does the Scripture contradict itself, and have you chosen a superior verse or something?????

    God hardened his heart. Pharoah hardened his heart. Dual agency. Simple. Scripture affirms both. No more talk of this.

    E

  135. Tony,

    Re: 107 (Part 2)

    You said:
    “What is He longsuffering for? He wants us all to come to repentance (He is not willing any to perish), his desire for our salvation is what keeps Him from coming in all of His glory now, and bringing forth the prophecy, that one day Every Knee Shall bow and Every Tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is LORD!”

    Echo says:

    Look, how many times are you going to do this? One verse says God predestines, and another says that he wants all to be saved, so in order to counter our quoting those that say he predestines, you quote the ones that say he wants all to be saved.

    Look, you – the Bible affirms BOTH. What’s the matter with you? You’re implying the Scriptures contradict themselves! You’re ignoring Scripture! Knock it off!

    God predestines everyone to either salvation or reprobation. But he ALSO wills that everyone would be saved. Now, you can mouth off to God about this if you want, but BOTH are true according to the Scriptures.

    BUT WAIT! You say that this is contradictory! No it isn’t. Scripture affirms both, therefore it isn’t contradictory. Both are true. Period. There is a way to reconcile them. You better figure it out though, and quit cutting pieces out of the Bible. You find a way to reconcile them. I know how to reconcile them. They can be reconciled. Can you reconcile them? Obviously not yet, because you’re pitting Scripture against itself! Why on EARTH would you do that?

    E

  136. tony,

    Re: 107 (Part 3)

    You said:

    “1 john 1 says “1 my little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (The whole world does mean the whole world right? So all men, women, child, the whole world)”

    Echo says:

    Yup. It means the whole world. So does John 3:16. Great. Now what? Now reconcile these verses to this:

    Rom 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

    and this:

    Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
    Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
    Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

    and this:

    Act 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.

    RECONCILE THEM!

    SUBMIT TO SCRIPTURE!

    You tell me how your scheme can reconcile these!

    Grrrr!

  137. Tony,

    Re: 107 (Part 4)

    I’m so disappointed in you:

    You said:
    My point here is there are great thoughts on both sides, to say I’m lost without the theology of John Calvin is just not what scripture teaches.

    Echo says:
    Well, you finally made it clear as a bell that you’re pitting Scripture against itself. Why don’t you just say, “You have your verses, and I have mine?”

    Do you honestly think the Bible is divided? Do you seriously think that because you can cite proof texts to support your view that you are correct, even though your view cannot be reconciled to the whole Bible? Honestly?

    Here’s what you’re doing. You’re making your own little Tony-canon of Scripture. Go and get your Bible, and cut out your little verses and arrange them on the table like cards. That’s your new Bible. You won’t be needing the rest of it.

    Unbelievable!

    You’ve got some nerve pitting Scripture against itself.

    Repent!

  138. Tony,

    Re: 109

    And here you claim that you are not pitting Scripture against yourself. Typical. Lie, deny, counteraccuse.

    I have said that Pharoah and God both acted to harden Pharoah’s heart. You, meanwhile, insist that it must be only Pharoah, and that God isn’t sovereign.

    Somehow, for some reason, in this post, you admit that God hardened Pharoah’s heart, but then you don’t admit the consequences.

  139. Goodness, Echo, you’ve been busy! Thanks especially for pointing out Rom 9:17, which makes it even extra specially crystal clear that God acted sovereignly to harden Pharaoh’s heart, and for his own glory. If I knew my Bible better, I would have pulled that out way back in #101 (or before).

    I have many other things to say, but no time now, or for the rest of the weekend, probably. Just wanted to note that I have read it all.

  140. tony,

    Re: 116 (Echo becomes more aggressive)

    You said:
    Total depravity of Man –
    The Bible teaches that man is morally corrupt (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-18) and dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) and spiritually blind (1 Cor. 2:14), but it nowhere teaches that man cannot respond to the gospel.

    Echo says:
    How could you say that the Bible doesn’t teach that it’s impossible to respond to the gospel after you JUST GOT THROUGH SAYING that we were DEAD IN OUR TRESPASSES!!! Dead men can’t respond! UGH! Man! Ok, fine. Have it your way. Then what does “dead in trespasses mean”? Use Scripture to support your answer, and be sure to reconcile it to John 6:44.

    You said:
    Unconditional Election
    The Bible plainly states that God has called all who will come to Christ. God calls through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14) and the gospel is to be preached to every creature (Mk. 16:15). God calls “whosoever will” (Rom. 10:13; Rev. 22:17). God calls every one that believes on Christ. “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40).

    Echo says:
    So which is it? God calls everyone, or calls calls everyone who believes? Obviously “everyone” includes not just “everyone who believes”, but also everyone who doesn’t believe. So which group of people is called? And what does that have to do with election? Were you going to say that everyone on earth is elected to salvation, but not everyone is saved? Were you really going to say that?

    You said:
    Limited Atonement
    I gave those to you earlier but was no response, here they are again
    God wants to have mercy upon all men (Rom. 11:32)
    – Echo: Yep. Revealed will, secret will.
    You: God desires to reconcile all men to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19)
    – Echo: yep. All men are his offspring (Acts 17)
    You: The promise of faith by Jesus is for all (Gal. 3:22)
    – Echo: nope. You misquoted it. It actually says: Gal 3:22 “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Faith is not promised to be given to all men, else all men would have faith. The promise is of salvation, and the promise says that everyone who has faith will be saved. But then it only says that this promise of salvation will only be given to those who believe, in other words, those who have faith. So you totally botched that one.
    You: Jesus was a ransom for all men (1 Tim. 2:6)
    – Echo: Yep. There’s no other way for men to be saved. This method of salvation is equally valid for all, and there’s no other hope.
    You: Jesus tasted death for all men (Heb. 2:9)
    – Echo: same as previous. No other way to be saved. Hope of all men.
    You: Jesus bought (redeemed) even unsaved false teachers (2 Pet. 2:1)
    – Echo: sigh. He bought all those in the visible church. See discussion…somewhere…above.
    You: God desires all men to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9)
    – Echo: Yeah, and in the same way, he wanted Israel to be saved; Jesus longed to gather them in like a mother hen, but they were unwilling. And the book of Lamentations confirms that God did not fail to punish them severely. He slaughtered thousands whom he wished to save. Yet, this was predestined. Moses repeatedly told the people that they WOULD turn from God. BOTH are true. Quit quoting your proof texts as if they prove that other parts of the Bible are wrong. You claim that we need to reconcile the whole Bible, well, here I am reconciling. Now you try it. Better yet, repent and switch to a Reformed Church.
    You: The iniquity of all men was laid on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6)
    – Echo: Whoops! It doesn’t say all men, it says “of us all”, and the word “us” there is important. This is a letter from a prophet of God to the people of Israel, the visible church. Whoops!

    You said:
    Irresistable GRace
    Think of the choice Cain was given in Gen 4
    Consider This also:
    2 Cor. 4:3-4 — “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world (Satan) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not (who blinded them), lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

    – Echo says: Good. Now reconcile this verse to that in Thessalonians you were discussing previously that said that God sends unbelievers a great delusion, so that they will believe the lie. Reconcile ALL of Scripture, don’t just proof text, picking and choosing what parts of the Bible you want to keep. Does the devil do it all by himself? Is the devil independent? Does Job tell us anything about how the devil operates?

    E

  141. Tony,

    Re: 120

    You said:
    And finally, this stuff you added about God’s desires/wants not being the same as what He ordains hits me strange. The God of everything in heaven and on earth who is so powerful, he can do anything, he can make anybody do anything He wants them to do, and says in His word that he wants and desires ALL men to be saved, but “effectually” He doesn’t do it? Why? Why would a God who wants and desires something being so sovereign in everything, not make His desires and wants come to pass?

    Echo

    Now THAT’S a good question. That’s a GREAT question! Of course, you’re still not admitting that God is sovereign, even though it’s ALL OVER THE PLACE in Scripture.

    Act 4:24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,

    1Ti 6:15 which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
    1Ti 6:16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

    Rev 6:10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

    God = sovereign.

    Unless of course you don’t think that word should be translated that way in those three instances? Would you like to argue about Greek? Perhaps you’d rather just submit to Scripture. It’s certainly easier.

    But nonetheless, this is still a good question. Essentially, you want to know why God doesn’t bring about everything he wants. That’s pretty much the bottom line.

    God has condescended to us in covenant. He has chosen to enter covenant with us. God has bound HIMSELF to certain rules. One of them is that…Well, you know what? I’ll just show you some stuff…

    CHAPTER 7 (WCF)
    Of God’s Covenant with Man
    1. The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.

    2. The first covenant made with man was a covenant of works, wherein life was promised to Adam; and in him to his posterity, upon condition of perfect and personal obedience.

    3. Man, by his fall, having made himself incapable of life by that covenant, the Lord was pleased to make a second, commonly called the covenant of grace; wherein he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ; requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved, and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe.

    4. This covenant of grace is frequently set forth in Scripture by the name of a testament, in reference to the death of Jesus Christ the Testator, and to the everlasting inheritance, with all things belonging to it, therein bequeathed.

    5. This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law, it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the old testament.

    6. Under the gospel, when Christ, the substance, was exhibited, the ordinances in which this covenant is dispensed are the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper: which, though fewer in number, and administered with more simplicity, and less outward glory, yet, in them, it is held forth in more fullness, evidence and spiritual efficacy, to all nations, both Jews and Gentiles; and is called the new testament. There are not therefore two covenants of grace, differing in substance, but one and the same, under various dispensations.

  142. Wow Echo you went off, I bet you feel good now! Huh?

    Re: 131

    Echo, this could go on forever! You asked me interpret 1 Cor 15. I see it like this, Paul is speaking of False teachers who taught differntly than him, directly concerning the ressurection of Jesus. They denied the ressurection and Paul tells the Corinthians to hold fast to the gospel he preached; after all without believing in the ressurection Jesus is dead, not alive!Then he tells them what the gospel is, which is the ONLY message and belief that saves!

    1 Cor 15:
    1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures!

    This is the gospel that saves, the things that don’t save are the doctrines you claim will carry me and my pastor out of hells grasp and into Heaven. If you insist on thinking that when I believe Calvinism as the truth, then and only then will I be granted salvation and finally believe the right gospel, I say that is close to a gnostic idea of religion and spirituality! I believe in the gospel Paul talks about in this verse, God sent His only son, who died on the cross for our sins, he was buried, he was raised on the thrid day, alive and showing Himself to the apostles in the flesh, and others like Paul and myself on a daily basis.

    Do I consider myself in submission to all the scriptures, yes. Do I know every greek and hebrew inturpretation to reconcile every verse with every verse, sorry I’m not there yet! Seems to me you guys think that only calvinist believers of Jesus are saved? That’s too bad! I didn’t realize there is a verse in the bible that says you have to believe and figure out every scripture from Genesis to REvelation and maybe then your equiped to be saved! You called Faith a gift, and grace enables us to accept that gift, that is our hope and salvation! so where do you get off getting so upset over my questions and qouting other verse, asking for your reconciliation of those verses?

    I’m not going word for word down every accusation about me picking and choosing texts, in my opinion that is what both sides do, half of your reconciliation is just “Accept it”. Even if it seems to go against something I believe, just accept it and submit to the fact that it is all true. I have never denied it is all true, so that is somehting you assume of me. I do believe it is all true, and believe it or not, I am trying to reconcile it all, that is what I WAS discussing here, but your obvious frustration for my comments, let’s me know it’s time to move on. You can accuse, “arg”, and sigh all you want to my questions and or comments in response to posts here, but the fact remains how on earth can you judge anyone for their sincerity in trying to get closer ot God? I pose questions to a system of beliefs, and in my opnion your system has too much philosophy, some of what I’ve heard here and other places;

    “if God is soveriegn then He must do this, and if God died for all men, and His blood covers all sin, then how can you explain the sin of unbelief. If we believe He died for all men, then we belief He is no all-powerful because His death doesn’t cover the sin of unbelief. Therefore He couldn’t have died for all mans sins becasue people die everyday not believing God!”

    I think there are good questions to how you guys “reconcile” all of the scriptures, even though you feel as though you got it all figured out obviously. Becasue you can reconcile EVERY verse with every other verse. I guess that means only the scholars who know the original greek and hebrew and can understand every verse are “the elect”. Because simply believing in Jesus is not enough for you. IF you believe in Jesus but not Calvinism, I believe you said maybe there is a chance you will be saved! or you said it like this

    “If your church doesn’t teach this, or especially if they would say that this is wrong, guess what? They are liars and blasphemers who refuse to LISTEN – that their souls may live.

    If they tell you that this is not true, or they say that the opposite is true, they are in rebellion against God, and they are lying!

    Thank God that doesn’t mean that they can’t be saved. Perhaps they can.”

    I guess you mean maybe there is a chance you will know the truth of scripture and finally figure out that Echo is right, and then God will give me the gift of faith. Until then I’m not a repentant sinner who loves God, becasue I havn’t figured it all out yet! Scary thought dude. Truth is your no different than most of the Calvinist folks I run into. Either think like me, or good riddens, and if you ever do think like me, look me up we can have coffee then, attitude. Your fight for doctrine is great, is your fight to see the lost saved the same?

    Anyway I guess you have made it “crytal clear” how you think of me, and my beliefs, they are not much in your opinion. thanks for the banter it was fun while it lasted. I urge you to seek out the message from Joshua Harris on Humble Orthodoxy, and sit under that teaching a few times, and maybe you will see there are some different approaches to the crazy arminian thinkers of this world who love God but don’t think like you guys do! I guess that is it for now, I will crawl back in my hole and figure it all out hopefully!

    Peace To All,

    Tony

    re: 131

  143. By the way, if you think something is the truth, and you tell someone else, are you then a liar?

    To me anyway, a liar is a deceiver; someone who knows the truth, but decides to tell you something different in order to deceive or manipulate you!

    Call me and my friends liars if you will, but I believe we are far from that assumption!
    Tony

  144. Tony,

    I hope Echo will agree with me when I quote another friend of mine:

    We’re not justified by our understanding of justification.

    So Yes, there are tons (millions?) of saved non-Calvinists running around out there all the time. But the Bible shows that teachers, shepherds are held to a higher standard (and false teachers judged with a harsher judgment). To whom much has been given, of him much is required. So teaching Biblically-incorrect doctrine is really really bad.

    Becasue you can reconcile EVERY verse with every other verse.

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. If there are verses you can’t reconcile, then somewhere your theology needs adjusting. Like for instance, my theology was incapable of reconciling 2 Pet 2:1 with what the rest of scripture has to say about Effectual Atonement (AKA Limited Atonement). Echo & Wacky helped me to see that it’s probably because I didn’t have a full enough understanding of some nuances of what Reformed theology has held for hundreds of years. If your theology can’t reconcile all of scripture with itself, then you need to search to find where your theology is wrong. We’ve given you plenty of hints.

  145. Rube, You said…
    “So Yes, there are tons (millions?) of saved non-Calvinists running around out there all the time.”

    I’m OK with this statement but I would also like to point out that there are “tons” of non-saved Calvanist running around as well.

    sez me

  146. Rube,

    I’m with you on most of it! I do want to reconcile things, and try to bring them all together, that is my purpose for this search, but it felt as though your wacky buddy and Echo state it differently. Not to mention even if I reconcile them differently, then it seems they see me as less of a follower of Christ, in touch with only a little part of the truth.

    As far as teachers getting tougher judgement, I’m with you on that one, but it’s hard for me to see them as liars when I know their heart for God is real, and they hunger for the truth in His word, but because they have flawed theology in some minds, they are liars and doomed for eternal punishment. Not buying it.

    As for reconciling ALL scriptures, I will continue on my track for the truth, I do believe in the soveriegnty of God but I guess my definition is different. God is sovereign in the sense that He is paramount and supreme. I’m not saying God was shocked as elluded to earlier by someone, at this point I’m not sure, but consider this verse:

    Genesis 6:5, 6 says,
    Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

    I believe it was the choices of man that made him evil in God’s eyes, that sadenned our Lord. Surprised no, sad to see it so, yes! Earleir in Genesis God said everything including man was good, now 6 chapters later, they are all bad? What happenned? The story of Adam and Eve shows us they had the choice to obey God or not, they didn’t and tried to please themselves rather than their maker, and by His nature of goodness he was forced to punish those in Eden, thus entering the curse once and for all (until Jesus that is).

    One other question and I know I promised to stop, but like you guys I feel passionate about these things, Jesus cast out devils, and healed folks of sickness “who were oppressed b y devils”. I realize you guys say He did this for His glory only, but why were they sick in the first place? Why were they oppressed and at times possessed by the devil?

    Do you guys get sick? If so, do we have the attitude whatever will be will be? And if so, then do we take medicine to make it better? What would be the point? If we are supposed to grow from the suffering and God’s soverignty in our lives. I mena without suffereing are we really being like Jesus? These are the argument sI hear all of the time. and to me I gotta believe Paul was not talking about suffering with an illness or cold for His name’s sake since that is opposite of what Jesus taught and did while on this earth. I mean these honestly as questions to your concept of the soveriengty of God.

    Not to mention after doing some more homework, the word translated sovereign in modern translations as sovereign may not imply God’s soveignty like you guys want to. I will not get into it all becasue there is no sense in it at this point, but taking the word or a modern translation as “the word of God” may be the problem.

    I got Echo over here, telling me I’m in sin with God becasue I’m questioning the bible not him, but the truth is maybe it’s the translation that doesn’t sit well with me who knows. Just becasue you qoute the ESV doesn’t mean it trumps the KJV which by the way the KJV doesn’t even use the word sovereign. Again not a point worth gordging here, but worth mentioning only becasue I was accused of arguing with god’s word which is equal to arguing with God, and how dare Tony do such a thing!

    So off for now, to continue my search for truth, and I pray you guys continue to seek the truth and not the truth of calvinism. Seek truth, read something besides the guys you suggest. If you find yourself reading all of the authors on calvinism, and the scriptures they qoute, are we truly in balance with God and His word? Just a thought. I know most of the guys I see are either listening to, or reading books that only talk about their doctrinal stance and want to learn more about guys like me and combating the argument, hence the qoute from Wacky in the other blog that said I should come back if I ever had something that was actually a threat to Calvinism. Sad that is all he is looking for, an argument! I want answers and I will seek them until my spirit is full, satisfied, and more hungry for God than ever before. Make it happen Lord!

    Peace
    Tony

  147. @DBalc: for sure, there are. I promise not to speculate on percentages either way, if you don’t…

    @Tony:

    One other question and I know I promised to stop, but like you guys I feel passionate about these things, Jesus cast out devils, and healed folks of sickness “who were oppressed by devils”. I realize you guys say He did this for His glory only, but why were they sick in the first place? Why were they oppressed and at times possessed by the devil?

    Not necessarily for His glory ONLY, but yes, for His glory, most importantly. The disciples asked the same question of Jesus, and got the same answer: John 9

    As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

    So yes, it is for God’s glory. And even if we take medicine instead of experiencing miraculous healing, even if we don’t get healed, and even if we aren’t “suffering with an illness or cold for His name’s sake”, I believe that being physically sick (whether a cold or Multiple Sclerosis (that’s from Albino Hayford’s blog, BTW)) does give glory to God, because “His power is made perfect in our weakness” (and Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” passage right there encompasses more than just persecution).

  148. Tony,

    You sure do ask a lot of people.

    Sigh.

    Let’s talk about teachers who teach errors. In fact, let’s talk about a Roman Catholic priest. A Roman Catholic priest teaches people that their good deeds, if there are enough of them, can outweigh their bad deeds. God helps those who help themselves. If you do pennance, God will forgive you. If you pray to Mary, she will ask God to forgive you. If you pray to a saint, perhaps he can ask God to help you. Yep, the Roman Catholic Church is downright pagan. But they also teach that Jesus died, and they administer the Eucharist, and they baptize children in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

    So what do you think about the Roman Catholic priest? Assuming he can keep his hands off the altar boys, is he going to heaven? Is he a truth teller? Does the fact that he sincerely believes the disgusting, filthy, horrible, wicked, awful, binding lies that he tells get him a little bit closer to heaven?

    You seem to have the idea that people who sincerely believe what they are saying cannot deceive people. You yourself know better than this, but you are just refusing to think it through. Don’t say I’m wrong about this. I’m right. There are plenty of sincere Muslims. They are willing to DIE for their cause! But does that mean that when they teach other people to Muslims that they aren’t LYING about how to please God? Of course they are! They’re LYING! They’re lying because what they’re teaching is NOT the truth!

    You see Tony, truth is not a game. What YOU believe is one thing, and I’ll get to that in a minute. But what someone TEACHES someone else is incredibly important.

    What about a Hindu that witnesses about his faith in 300 million gods? I’m not joking. Hindus actually DO believe in 300 million gods. And I bet some of them actually REALLY believe it. I bet some of them really think themselves to be quite brilliant and that they have found the path to eternal life.

    But guess what Tony? The Hindu priests and teachers are all LIARS. Why are they liars? Because what comes out of their mouth is not the truth. That’s the definition of a liar.

    If sincerity had anything to do with the definition of the word “truth” or the word “lie”, then truth would be whatever you think it is.

    In fact, that seems to be what you are arguing for. You seem to demand that we compromise our beliefs. You are asking us to accept your beliefs as being just as legitimate as our own. Well, Tony, it’s not going to happen. Just like you would never admit that Hinduism is a legitimate religion, so too I do not, and WILL NOT admit that Arminianism is anything other than a manifestation of sin and man’s desire to have just a little bit of God’s glory for himself. I cannot and will not compromise on this fact, and you shouldn’t either. You really have no right to ask me to compromise. Jesus does not ask me or you to compromise. He demands perfection. He demands submission. He demands obedience. God doesn’t compromise. And that will be proved when he judges the living and the dead on the last day according to the strictest standard there is – his own righteousness. Anyone who is not as righteous as God himself will be tossed alive into the burning lake of fire.

    This brings us to the other point you made. You’re quite right, our only hope for peace on that day is Jesus Christ! Quite right indeed! AND I am happy to embrace both you and your beliefs on this point, and I rejoice and thank God for it!

    Thanks to Christ, any sin in your life can be forgiven. But make no mistake, your Arminian theology will have to be forgiven just as much as your lust for women or whatever. It is a sin not to believe everything written in the Bible. That’s a plain fact.

    Now, you admit that you don’t have EVERY verse reconciled. Ok, I appreciate your honesty, but God gave that Bible to YOU, and he demands that you believe it. John says in his gospel that that’s the POINT of the writing of the Bible. These words are given that you might believe!

    Look at what’s happening here. You are saying that you can’t reconcile the WHOLE Bible, and yet at the same time, you demand that we compromise and treat your beliefs as legitimate.

    Well, Tony, I’ve got news for you. You are being unreasonable, and are compromising your OWN beliefs. You are compromising the Word of God. You are acting as if it’s no big deal that you can’t reconcile the entire Bible, but it IS a big deal.

    You know, I may not personally be able to comprehend every verse fully. But guess what? The theology that I have given my assent to CAN. You know how I know? Because I don’t believe that I have to reinvent the wheel all on my own. I can go back and read guys like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Knox, and yes, even John Calvin, and I can take a look at what they thought. You know why I can do that? Because these guys are smarter than me, more well versed in the Scriptures than me, and better trained than I am. And I can therefore peacefully accept something like the Westminster Confession of Faith, knowing that faithful Christians have adopted it as THEIR confession for 350 years, and for the most part, that’s gone off without a hitch. The only problems there have been with it don’t come from the people who believe it, but from those who DON’T! Every single controversy among Presbyterians has been started by people who don’t believe the Confession. Isn’t that amazing? Not ONE problem has been linked to people who actually want to stick by the words of the Confession.

    That’s because the men who wrote it were COMPETENT. That doesn’t mean that we accept it blindly like idiots who can’t think for ourselves. It is not Rome! But if you like, feel free to test it against Scripture, and you’ll find that it cannot be disproven by ANY of it.

    Here’s your problem. Your problem is that you are only half listening.

    I say that pastors who are Arminians are liars and blasphemers. You say that when I say this, this means that I’m saying that you aren’t saved. You are only half listening. I didn’t say that you are not saved. There’s a big difference between being a laymen who is confused (YOU) and a teacher who is confusing others (many pastors). Just because you are confused does not mean you can’t be saved.

    JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE CONFUSED DOES NOT MEAN YOU CAN’T BE SAVED.

    I never said that, and I won’t say that. You are only half listening. I have made this clear already, yet you still insist that this is what is being said. Why?

    Furthermore, you keep talking about Calvinism as if it’s the same thing as fatalism, which almost nobody on planet earth actually believes. You do a great job of proving that fatalism makes no sense, and I’m sure your critique would be helpful, if only there were someone to apply it to. We have said repeatedly that Calvinism is not fatalism. The distinction is not all that fine a point either. In fact, there’s a vast difference between fatalism and Calvinism.

    Now, how are people supposed to react to you when they carefully spend HOURS AND HOURS answering your arguments point by point trying to show you that you are mistaken – ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD – and you respond by only half paying attention to what is being said?

    Look – if we have said that Roman Catholics are pagans, you respond by saying that we’re mean for calling you a pagan. This makes us scratch our head and wonder why you are so illogical. No one called you a pagan. What on earth are you talking about? This is the equivalent of what you are saying. I tell you that your teachers are obviously lying to you, and you respond by talking about what nice people they are, and how much they love others. I’m glad they love others, but so do Hindus. That they love others proves NOTHING. Hezbollah has done a LOT of charity work in Lebanon. I suppose they’re actually good people? They’re Islamic TERRORISTS trying to overthrow their government! They want to force people to be Muslims! If they come to power, they’ll actually make Christianity a captial crime! But they do a lot of charity, and they are very sincere, so…

    So what?!

    You have objected nicely to our views, but your objection has been answered. But it’s like you don’t even hear it. It’s like you just hate the fact that your objection had an answer. Your objection was found wanting – I’m really sorry. But that’s what happens when you’re wrong!

    For MOST Christians, when the Bible teaches something that they don’t believe, it pushes them to change what they believe, because they are more committed to being obedient to Scripture than they are to their beliefs. This is what you are accusing us of, even though we straightened out every verse you brought up. Many of us have spent a lot of time and effort compiling those answers – not for OUR sake, but for YOURS!

    And then you call us mean because we proved you wrong. And then you claim that it’s ok if you can’t figure out the whole Bible. Meanwhile, no one’s telling YOU that YOU have to figure out the whole Bible but YOU. You are the one who is trying to figure out his OWN theology. And whoever taught you to think this way is himself guilty of the same mistake. You don’t have to figure out the whole Bible for yourself. You can let people help you. That’s not a sin.

    However, it IS a sin if, when you are confronted with Scripture that directly disproves what you are saying, if you simply shrug your shoulders and say that you don’t have the Bible figured out, and “You Calvinists should just accept me as I am.”

    Pppppppbbbbbbbbbbbttttttt!!!!!

    Raspberries to that! Submit to Scripture! And yes, arguing with Scripture IS THE SAME THING AS ARGUING WITH GOD!!! I can’t even believe that you would act as if it weren’t!

    You have said that we cannot reconcile all the Scriptures either; but that’s a LIE and you know it, because you haven’t been able to submit a verse that couldn’t be answered for. Do you think we’re simply more skilled at explaining away the Bible than you are? Is that all it boils down to for you? You don’t have to believe us because we aren’t REALLY reconciling, just explaining it away? If that’s really what you think, why not say so? Why not just admit that it’s impossible for any human being to understand the Bible at all, and therefore we should just believe whatever we want? Why not just admit what you really believe, what you really think? I won’t mind. Why not admit that how I interpret the Bible is ok for me, and how you interpret it is ok for you, and that you don’t really believe that there is only one right answer? Why not just be honest with us and say that up front?

    Well, if you don’t believe those things, then quit acting like it! If you don’t believe those things, then rethink your position.

    Stop and THINK about what I’ve said.

    And seriously, before you respond to what I’ve said, read it again, and carefully this time. Maybe you should take notes. It’s really, really bad form to misunderstand everything I’ve said so badly. Many of the things I’ve said, you’ve simply accused me of saying the exact opposite. Stop that!

    E

  149. Because what comes out of their mouth is not the truth. That’s the definition of a liar.

    Echo, I have to disagree with you here. There’s a difference between being a liar, and just plain being wrong — and the difference is what you know or understand, and what you intend.

    If sincerity had anything to do with the definition of the word “truth” or the word “lie”, then truth would be whatever you think it is.

    Sincerity has nothing to do with the definition of “truth” or “wrong”, but it does have to do with the definition of “lie”, and that has no effect on the definition of truth, or make truth relative in any way.

    Of course (a) sinners will be judged for being wrong as well as for lying, and (b) things get complicated when you talk about people suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, i.e. lying to themselves.

  150. Rube,

    You said:
    “Of course (a) sinners will be judged for being wrong as well as for lying, and (b) things get complicated when you talk about people suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, i.e. lying to themselves.”

    – Echo:

    This is my point. Again, consider the Roman priest who tells people that they will be saved by having their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds and by doing pennance, etc. Is such a man a liar, or simply wrong? He is more than just wrong; he is lying.

    Joh 8:41 You are doing what your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father–even God.”
    Joh 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.
    Joh 8:43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word.
    Joh 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
    Joh 8:45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me.
    Joh 8:46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?
    Joh 8:47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

    Joh 8:53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”
    Joh 8:54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
    Joh 8:55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word.
    Joh 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

    See how Jesus was talking to the Roman Catholics of his day? He called them liars, despite the fact that they were sincerely trying to uphold the law of God. Or at least that’s what they thought. Or at least that’s what they told themselves.

    Or at least, that’s what they had deceived themselves into thinking via their sin.

    And that’s the point.

    1Jo 2:4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,

    Again, part of his commands are to believe…

    No one obeys perfectly, just as no one understands perfectly, or even believes perfectly what he understands. Nonetheless, insofar as we fail to believe, we fail to obey the Word of God, because what it asserts we are obligated to believe. To NOT believe what is written in the Bible is to call God a liar, and that makes you a liar, since God is obviously not a liar, and we all know that that’s a contradiction in terms. We KNOW that.

    1Jo 2:22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.
    1Jo 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
    1Jo 2:24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
    1Jo 2:25 And this is the promise that he made to us–eternal life.

    What does it mean to “abide in the Son and the Father”? You must have what you heard abide in you. What did you hear? His promise of eternal life. This is clinging to the Son. It seems pretty self evident that unless you believe the gospel you are a liar.

    And again, we’re all liars and sinful, so we need not be afraid, because we can look to Jesus and be healed. Nonetheless, it’s one thing to be a layman and a liar, keeping it to yourself. But when you teach others those same lies – that’s a serious problem. Now you have to worry about being a false teacher. And again, anyone teaching something other than the truth is a liar. There are big lies and small lies, but they are all lies, and thus the language of the devil.

    1Jo 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

    And how loving is it to your brother to tell him to hope in himself for salvation, rather than comforting him with the hope we have in Christ? In fact, such lies destroy people. I have a vast hatred for the Roman Church, and this is why. They destroy people. They are far, far worse than the Nazis, Stalin, the Romans, the Greeks, the Persians, the Babylonians, etc, all put together. They currently have a BILLION apostates under their charge, whom THEY have turned from unbelievers to apostates by baptizing them and getting them to confess the name of Jesus, because they teach them to hope in all kinds of things OTHER than Jesus, and so almost all of them do. They hope in Mary, the saints, the Pope, the church – anything and everything BUT Christ, yet they have been baptized into Christ, and thus are woefully apostates. It is heart wrenching to think of it. It is such horrible wicked bondage. They, like the Pharisees before them, are actually HINDERING people from getting to heaven. That is appalling. Yes, those men are liars and blasphemers.

    1Jo 5:6 This is he who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
    1Jo 5:7 For there are three that testify:
    1Jo 5:8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.
    1Jo 5:9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son.
    1Jo 5:10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

    The testimony John is talking about is Word and Sacrament. Go look at the context if you like. It’s kind of a confusing passage. But just think about it. Here’s the testimony: the water and the blood and the Spirit. The Spirit inspires the Word, which is the testimony about Jesus, which is what is meant by him being the Word incarnate. The Spirit’s testimony is God’s testimony about Jesus, his Son. The blood and water are the sacraments: Lord’s Supper and Baptism. It’s just shorthand. But whatever you make of the passage, it’s clear that if you don’t believe what God says, it’s exactly the same as calling God a liar, and that in turn makes YOU a liar.

    Pro 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
    Pro 30:6 Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

    This means that even if Johnny is sincere, he’s a liar. He literally added to God’s words. But we can do the same thing when we misunderstand, misapply, misinterpret the Word of God. That makes us liars, because God is truth (John 17:17) and whatever he says IS God. Whatever God says is truth, and anything other than that is simply a lie, because if it is not from God, then it is sinful and of the devil.

    Rom 14:23b “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

    How can something be spoken or said be of faith if it is not true? It cannot. This is impossible. If it is from faith it is true. Or, perhaps more precisely, insofar as it is from faith, it is true, right? But if it is untrue, then it is not from faith, and is therefore sinful. So what’s sinful about it?

    So when Tony, for example, claims that God is not sovereign, actually consciously arguing against that fact, are his words proceeding from faith? How could they, since they aren’t true? His words are therefore sinful. I don’t know how to sin when speaking about God apart from lying and blaspheming, and I don’t think these can be separated absolutely.

    So let’s break it down.

    1. What he is saying is untrue.
    2. Untruth cannot come from faith.
    3. Whatever does not come from faith is sin.
    4. Untruth = sin.

    Now, if you don’t want to call this “sinful untruth” a lie, but want to call it something else, I suppose you may feel free, but I don’t think I see a real clear distinction between a sinful untruth and a lie. In fact, if you asked me to define “lie”, I’d probably say something that amounted to “sinful untruth”.

    So, when Tony lies by claiming that God is not soveriegn, I hold out hope in Christ for him, because he claims to hope in Christ, and he isn’t a pastor. But if a man IS a pastor, and he stands up in front of the people of God, he is claiming, whether he means to or not, to be speaking FOR GOD.

    If you say, “Thus says the Lord…” and what proceeds from your mouth is a LIE…

    Well, I see no conclusion I can draw deductively other than that these men are liars and blasphemers.

    How true then:

    Jam 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
    Jam 3:2 For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

    Don’t just read the first verse, read the second. What is the stricter judgment teachers will be judged with? They will be judged MORE STRICTLY according to what their tongue has uttered. Let me paraphrase. Not many of you should teach, because judgment is more harsh for teachers. I mean, we ALL mess up, and we all mess up with regard to what we say. So teachers are going to be judged most severely, since what they say is even more important than what others say, and we all know how easy it is to mess up with what we say. After all, if you could guard what you say, you’d be perfect. As it is, this is impossible. So don’t be a teacher unless you really, truly are called, because it’s NOT A GAME.

    Teachers SPEAK, and when they speak they are preaching the Word (2 Tim 4:2). If a man just reads a passage of Scripture and talks about it, he is claiming the Bible as the authority behind what he is saying. He is claiming God’s authority. He’s claiming that authority just standing in front of the people of God and speaking at all during a worship service.

    So when you speak in the pulpit, you are speaking for God. If what you claim God said is not what God said, this is the very definition of a false prophet.

    False prophets are liars and blasphemers.

    It’s really quite simple and deductively valid from Scripture. This is the point: preaching must be done with great fear and trembling before God, with much grace, because lying to the people of God on God’s behalf is no light matter.

  151. Echo,

    I guess when I get hours, I will try and respond with some real answers. For now, I understand what you are saying, but I really didn’t say you guys are mean, it’s just the spirit most people have when they feel they hold the truth.

    I realize you guys think you have “reconciled” every verse or concern I have, but that doesn’t mean your interpretation or reconciliation of that verse is mine as well.

    You can compare Arminians to radical Muslims and Hindus if you need to, but in my opinion the people teaching you that are wrong! My argument is more than them being just “sincere”, I believe this truth they hold to as well, I believe the docterine of pre-destination is wrong, but again that is my sin He must forgive in your eyes!

    I think we only disagree on a few aspects of the Christian Faith, God’s predestination of those He calls His Elect is the main difference, and that is not a theology that will send anyone to hell for being a liar in my opinion. I think it;s wrong, if I teach it wrong to my kids and that makes me a liar, then God have mercy on my soul. For that matter, if I teach anyhting contrary to the heart of God, I pray for His mercy and grace on me and my family. If God has chosen me, and I don’t fully embrace Calvinism, then His blood will cover my sin of unbelief.

    Echo,I have listened to everything you said regardless of how it may appear in my comments back, I may not agree with everything, but that doesn’t mean I’m not listening.

    Also, you guys have NOT answered all of my questions regarding scriptures, or your philosphies about God, His soverignty, his predestination of The Elect, The difference betweeen his desire, and his will, etc. And some of the answers were not convincing enough for me. But again, the attitude is, “if you don’t hink like me your not living, breathing or listening to the truth, becasue I have the truth! So shut up, submit to scripture, and get out of your sin!”

    Ok, I respect you for thinking like this, but I don’t respect the thinking! Cool.

    I’m done for now, but unfortunately I don’t have hours to take notes and really respond, besides I almost feel like we would have to start over to get to the bottom of everything we hit on, or more of a conversation rather than a blog!

    Peace Everyone,
    Tony

  152. Tony,

    You DID understand what I said.

    “If God has chosen me, and I don’t fully embrace Calvinism, then His blood will cover my sin of unbelief.”

    Woo hoo! I love the gospel!

    However, there’s something important, and I think it’s fundamental, and I’m not sure it’s really been brought up yet.

    It’s the doctrine of Scripture. Or rather, if you prefer, what do you think about Scripture? Here are some questions to consider.

    1. Does the Bible ever contradict itself?
    2. Does the Bible demand that we believe all of it or just some of it?
    3. How do we interpret Scripture? Are there rules?
    4. If something we believe contradicts one part of Scripture but seems to be supported by another part, what should we do?
    5. Should our decision to be Arminian or Calvinistic be based on Scripture alone, or on our hearts?
    6. If our heart tells us something is right, but it contradicts some part of Scripture, what should we do?
    7. What prevents us from easily understanding the Bible?
    8. If our beliefs are unbiblical, how did that happen?

    Anyway, I’d love to hear your answers to these questions, because I think that we have yet to come to common ground and start over.

    Here’s what I mean. We have discovered that we disagree on a wide number of issues, but the more we discuss it, the more upset everyone seems to get. But there’s a reason for that. Both of us, I think, have different approaches to Scripture, and our beliefs in part arise because we differ, I think, on how to approach it. So, I think we should talk about that first, reach agreement on that, and then we’ll move on to the next thing.

    See, Calvinism vs. Arminianism may be a very important debate, but your views in this area depend on your views in other areas. SO, there’s no point debating Calvinism when your view on that is based on other views which we have yet to discuss. So we need to take a step back and try to get to the root, and talk about that, perhaps coming to agreement, and then we’ll both learn something. Maybe when we’ve come to agreement on those more fundamental issues, then perhaps we’ll be able to come to a much broader agreement.

    After all, when two brothers agree, it’s a great thing.

    My intention is to see how you answer these questions and then interact with your answers. If you would prefer me to answer them so you can interact with my answers, just let me know. I’d really rather you give me your gut reaction though. I mean, I’m going to give textbook answers for the most part, so what you say won’t have any affect on that.

    E

  153. Here is the quick of it!

    1. No
    2. All of it
    3. There are reules to the interpretation, ie. context, language, audience, etc.
    4. Searching for other scriptures that reconcile everything together, and/or revert back to #3 and follow the rules
    5. Scripture
    6. Interesting question, I guess beat our hearts into submission:)
    7. The rules:) In other words, we really need to know the history of the bible, and the reason why each book is being written, another problem with interpreting the bible lies in the fact that it was not written in a language that we or shall I say I speak or understand, so I’m at the mercy of the English Translators, as well as folks who claim they know what the bible says in Greek and Hebrew to tell me what the original langauge says as well as what the proper interpretation would be!
    8. Any number of reasons of coarse, taught wrong is the most commen reason, but I think the answer lies within #7.

    My point to that is this, if you and I both talked to God personally and He todl us exactly what the right way was to believe, then I don’t think either one of us would have a problem with dropping how we do things now to follow His way! So we are left with looking at His way in the scriptures, and at times the word seems to be elusive and/or unclear on EVERY subject. This would explain why since the 2nd century, there have been peopl eon both sodes of this debate, and this two sided debate over right and wrong is what keep me from calling everyone a false doctrine follower in danger of going to hell if they don’t line up with my thoughts on every matter!

    Tony

  154. REVISION

  155. Revision,

    I didn’t mean to say God is unclear on EVERYHTING. I meant to imply that He is clear on most things, but there are a few matters that are not Crystal clear, that is why we have the debate! Sorry for the confusion, I’m sure at first read most epople will think I’m off my rocker! But I didn’t mean it like it came off my fingers!
    Tony

  156. Tony,

    Re: 153-155

    I knew what you meant. It’s ok. What you’re saying is that the Bible is, at times, intellectually difficult to understand, and therefore, we need help, right?

    And you also said that if our views seem to be supported by some Scripture, but then we come across some other passage that seems to contradict what we believe, we HAVE to find a way to reconcile the passages, and if that means we have to change our beliefs, so be it.

    So let me suggest something. The answers to questions 7 and 8 are exactly the same. What makes the Bible hard to understand is the same thing that gives rise to unbiblical beliefs. That thing is sin.

    Yes, sin. Sin is what prevents us from understanding the Bible properly. Sin clouds our judgment and prevents us from understanding the Bible properly. The Bible reveals God to us, not as he is in himself, but as he is TOWARD us. We don’t see God as he is in himself. He is infinite, and we are finite. The finite cannot comprehend the infinite. But the Bible nonetheless reveals God. So while we cannot understand him FULLY, we can understand him as he has revealed himself to us.

    But enter sin. Sin comes in and says, “I don’t want to acknowledge God.” You see, if sin could acknowledge God, it would have to stop. In other words, our love of our sin prevents us from WANTING to believe everything that Scripture says. Watch this:

    Luk 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
    Luk 24:26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
    Luk 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

    This comes from the passage where Christ, having risen from the dead, meets some of his disciples on the road and talks to them. They don’t recognize him, but he teaches them how to interpret Scripture. The point here is that he doesn’t admit that the Bible is intellectually challenging, and then pity the disciples because they don’t measure up to the task. No, he rebukes them for being “slow of heart to believe” what the Bible says. He doesn’t say that it’s hard to understand, he says that their heart is slow, unwilling to accept what the Bible says. Because they are slow of heart to believe it, therefore they have failed to understand it.

    The problem with interpreting the Bible is that we are sinful. We don’t want to believe what the Bible says. So we simply deny it. We deceive ourselves. Unbelievers do the same thing with natural revelation:

    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
    Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
    Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    You see, God IS revealed in the creation, but men refuse to acknowledge that truth. They “suppress the truth”. How? “By their unrighteousness.” That is, sin. The deceive themselves into thinking something other than what is clearly revealed in the creation. The unbeliever looks at creation and fails to acknowledge God. That’s not because it’s hard for him to figure out that God exists and is our Creator. That’s plain to see. But because they love their sin, they won’t admit it, because admitting it means that they would have to give up their sin.

    What sinful unbelievers do with natural revelation, believers do with special revelation (the Word). We are sinful, and therefore, we too suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

    The Bible isn’t intellectually challenging to understand. It’s plain and clear. The problem is not the ability of our minds, but the wickedness of our hearts.

    So one way that we can test an interpretation of Scripture against another is to ask, “Which of these seems to be more sinful?”

    So for example, let’s take the Roman Catholic doctrine of praying to Mary. Protestants reject this doctrine. Who is right? Well, we certainly have Scripture on our side, but even more basically, which doctrine seems to be a reflection of sin? The Bible demands that we worship God only and that we make no graven images. Roman Catholics not only pray to Mary, but they make statues of her and I once saw a Roman wedding where the bride and groom, as part of the ceremony, went and laid flowers at the feet of this statue. Is this worshiping God only? Is this obedience to the command not to make graven images? No and no. The Roman doctrine did not come about because people failed to understand the commands of Scripture, but because their sinful hearts want to worship idols. They want to worship a pagan goddess, and they have turned Mary into that. They want to worship how their hearts want to worship. They don’t want to worship God according to his Word, according to his commands, they want to follow their sinful hearts. Because of this, they refuse to accept what Scripture says. This in turn causes them to fail to understand it properly.

    The problem with the Roman church is not the intellectual complexity of the Bible; the problem is SIN.

    So if we pit Arminianism against Calvinism, what happens? Which one appears to be sinful? Which one makes God great and glorious, and which one makes him less so? Which one emphasizes US and our importance, which one emphasizes God and HIS importance? Calvinists have not only the plain teaching of Scripture on their side, which unapologetically declares predestination, but it is also clear that Arminianism is the result of sin. Man sinfully wants to think of himself as very important. Man wants a little bit of God’s glory for himself. He does not want to give ALL the glory, ALL the credit for his salvation to God, but wants to save a little bit for himself. The Arminian says that his salvation is not ENTIRELY God’s doing, but he must cooperate with the grace of God. Sure, Jesus died, and thus made salvation possible, but YOU still have to reach out and grab it. No one’s going to do it for you. But the Bible makes it very clear over and over again that this is not exactly how it works. Yes, we do reach out in faith, but even this is a gift from God, which he gives to whomever he wants. Not everyone has faith, but God gives faith to whom he wills, and this is what saves them. This is clear in Scripture. But our sinful hearts are not willing to accept this. Our sinful hearts long to take a little bit of glory from God. He doesn’t choose me, says the sinful heart, I chose HIM. It is just a little bit of pride, a little bit of ego, and a little bit of disrespect for God. Oh, sure, you will still be saved in the end, but when you stand before God, you will be ashamed of yourself. Because when you see him, and when your sins have finally left you, you will fall on your face and acknowledge your sins. You will admit to him that you tried to rob him of his glory, that you tried to seek his throne for yourself. Yes, he will lay his hand on you and tell you not to be afraid, because he has forgiven you. But God’s grace and forgiveness and kindness toward us is not an excuse for sin. In fact, God’s forgiveness should drive us to repent, because we don’t want to show him contempt after all he has done for us.

    This is why Calvinists react to Arminians the way they do.

  157. To be fair, at least one honest reason for Arminianism is to shield God from looking like the author of evil.

  158. Rube,

    I think that just about every time we sin we justify it somehow.

    E

  159. Echo,

    Point taken, and I see where you guyrs are coming from. I don’t think that I’m anything special, and I don’t think I deserve some glory in the acceptance of Jesus as my savior. To me there is no glory to be given to any man, even if I believe God died for all of our sins, and If I choose to deny this gift it will go unopened. This thinking to me is not sin; I think that if the bible was so CLEAR on the Calvinism points, then we would not be having this debate, and the debate would not have been going on for so many years! Nothing in me wants anyone to think Tony is a great guy who played a major role in his salvation!

    This debate and the debate about Mary are in no way the same! The Catholic Church has these doctrines of Mary, and the doctrines of the saints implanted into the doctrine of their church. I dislike them as much as you do. They came about becasue in the day when the catholic church was THE only church, everyone taught these doctrines of sainthood, and maryology. The only things to this day the Pope has declared as “infalable” are the dcotriens about MAry’s sinlessness, and her ascension into heaven. This stuff was being taught and accepted by everyone, so they implanted it as a biblical thing, but we all know it’s not in the word. There claim is, the opposite is not in the word either, so it’s logical.

    The non-calvinistic view of slavation is not as sinful as you put it, and I in no-way try to attach some glory of my acceptance into the doctrine. There is no pat on the back for choosing in any doctrine I have read or witnessed, so I’m not sure what you are reffering to when you say

    “But our sinful hearts are not willing to accept this. Our sinful hearts long to take a little bit of glory from God. He doesn’t choose me, says the sinful heart, I chose HIM. It is just a little bit of pride, a little bit of ego, and a little bit of disrespect for God. Oh, sure, you will still be saved in the end, but when you stand before God, you will be ashamed of yourself. Because when you see him, and when your sins have finally left you, you will fall on your face and acknowledge your sins. You will admit to him that you tried to rob him of his glory, that you tried to seek his throne for yourself. Yes, he will lay his hand on you and tell you not to be afraid, because he has forgiven you.”

    You seem top imply that you take the bible as it is written, at face value with no interpretation or context involved in you making a decision about what it speaks?

    By the way I have been studying Romans since we started this discussion and as I read the entire book, I’m still more convinced that choice matters in God’s eyes!

    Every Chapter speaks of our belief as a pre-requisite to God accepting us, and I really like this one about Abraham!

    God says it all so well.

    Romans 4″16 So that’s why faith is the key! God’s promise is given to us as a free gift. And we are certain to receive it, whether or not we follow Jewish customs, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe.”

    We are certain to receive it, IF we have faith like Abraham’s!

    I’m not going to spend hours, with all fo the scriptures from Romans becasue of time and space, not to mention you already read them I’m sure. If my sin is blinding me and everyone else then so be it, and God’s grace will have to be enough! As I continue to read more of Romans, it seems to seal in me the truth of His word, and what God has spoken to me and others about salvation. I know this is sure to disappoint, but I can’t make a decision base don which one sounds more like sin, and then say that must be the truth.

    God asking me to choose him doesn’t sound like sin to me, it sound slike the rest of the scriptures!

    Tony

  160. Tony,

    Thanks for the good response! Now that was a well thought out response to be sure! I can sink my teeth into this. I think there are a couple of points we can discuss profitably.

    You said:
    “I don’t think that I’m anything special, and I don’t think I deserve some glory in the acceptance of Jesus as my savior. To me there is no glory to be given to any man, even if I believe God died for all of our sins, and If I choose to deny this gift it will go unopened. This thinking to me is not sin; I think that if the bible was so CLEAR on the Calvinism points, then we would not be having this debate, and the debate would not have been going on for so many years! Nothing in me wants anyone to think Tony is a great guy who played a major role in his salvation!”

    – Echo:
    Your last sentence here is very revealing, specifically the word “major”. You don’t want anyone to think that you deserve any credit for playing a “major” role in your salvation. This is a very significant point. For the Calvinist, we don’t think we deserve ANY CREDIT AT ALL because we don’t think we have ANY role in our salvation, other than that we receive it. But this receiving is completely passive. It’s like saying “I received a punch in the face.” You didn’t do anything to receive it. It happened TO YOU. But you still say that you received it. Or at least, you could. Anyway, the Calvinist believes that if we have any role at ALL in our salvation, then we deserve a little bit of credit.

    So let me ask you this. Pretend that I’m an unbeliever. Maybe I’m a Wiccan. And you invite me to church. Let’s say that I hear the sermon, and I paid close attention. Maybe I was even taking notes. But at the end of the sermon, having had the gospel presented to me, I show no interest in choosing Christ. You ask me about this and I say, “No, I’m not interested in becoming a Christian, thank you. I prefer to remain a Wiccan.”

    So there I am, a pagan, who has just heard the gospel, but chose to reject it. Meanwhile, there you are, a Christian, who has heard the message, but DID choose to respond to it. What is the difference between you and me? Why did you choose it and I didn’t? What is the CAUSE of that decision?

    Is the cause of that decision simply “free will”? Maybe, but isn’t there more to say about it than that? I mean, I choose sausage pizza over peperoni of my own free will, but that’s because I get indigestion when I eat peperoni pizza. This is because I inherited this weakness in my stomach from my father who also gets indigestion from peperoni. So yeah, I choose sausage of my own free will, BUT my choice still has a cause.

    So what’s the cause of your free will choice to accept Jesus? What is the difference between you who have accepted it, and the pagan who rejects it?

    And here’s yet another objection that it would be good of you to answer. There are many, many people who lived in this world throughout the course of history who never ever heard the gospel. They never had an opportunity to choose to accept Jesus Christ. Yet, the Bible says:

    Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    How would you straighten this out? The precise problem is this: even though they never heard the gospel, they’re still without excuse before God. How can that be? And if that’s so, what purpose does the preaching of the gospel serve? What’s the point?

    You said:
    “By the way I have been studying Romans since we started this discussion and as I read the entire book, I’m still more convinced that choice matters in God’s eyes! Every Chapter speaks of our belief as a pre-requisite to God accepting us, and I really like this one about Abraham!”

    – Echo:
    Absolutely our choice matters. Absolutely our belief is a pre-requisite to God’s accepting us (justification). That’s absolutely correct! You are right on the money there.

    But now, ok, we don’t call it merely belief, we call it faith. Faith is actually a more meaningful word than belief. There’s more to it than just belief.

    But let me ask you something. Why do you believe anything? If you’re married, you believe that your wife loves you. Why? You believe that the sky is blue. Why? You believe that it’s safe to fly in an airplane. Why?

    Why do we believe what we believe? What is the difference between believing something and knowing something?

    Isn’t it true that you choose to believe things only after you have been given some good reason to believe it? You believe the sky is blue because you have looked up in the sky and found it to be blue in appearance. If it appears blue, it must BE blue. That’s the inference, that’s the reasoning.

    If you’re married, you believe your wife loves you because she has lived with you for however long, and she agreed to marry you, and she made an elaborate oath, pledging that she would love you. Therefore, based on her testimony and actions, you believe she loves you.

    Furthermore, you believe that it’s safe to fly in an airplane because they rarely crash and because experts are always reminding us of that fact. So because of this, most people believe that flying is safe. (Even if we do get a little bit nervous during take off.)

    But now comes the big question. Why do you believe that Jesus Christ is your Savior? Hopefully it is because the Bible tells you so. (Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.) So you believe that what the Bible says is true. But why do you believe that? Perhaps because the Bible is the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. Why do you believe that? Because the Bible says so. But wait a minute. You believe the Bible is the Word of God because it says so? But meanwhile, you believe that this is true because it’s the Word of God, and that it’s the Word of God because it says so? See the problem? In philosophy, they call this circular reasoning.

    Circular reasoning just means that you have two beliefs that are dependent upon each other. Neither belief can survive without the other. Now, most philosophers find this to be irrational. It’s true, this is irrational.

    But this is not the position Christians find themselves in. Christians believe the Bible is true because they have faith. Faith is not belief, but rather the reason why we believe.

    Yes, to believe is your choice. That’s absolutely right. We do have free will. Calvinism does not deny this.

    But the only way we can believe is if we first have faith. In fact, that free will act of believing is PART of faith. It is a necessary consequent of faith.

    I’m sure I just lost you. Let’s go back to this: faith is the reason why we believe that the Bible is true. Faith is the reason why we believe what pagans don’t.

    But if faith isn’t simply belief, what is it?

    Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
    Heb 11:2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.
    Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

    Faith is the REASON why we believe something that we have no other reason to believe. That’s why it is the assurance of things hoped for. This assurance gives rise to hope. It is the conviction of things not seen. By faith, we know that we can believe in things that we cannot see. We cannot have any reason to believe them other than faith. But nonetheless, faith serves as a reason for why we believe the things we do about God and the Bible, salvation, etc.

    But faith and our beliefs are two different things. It is BY faith that we hope, BY faith that we are convinced, AND BY faith that we understand. That’s what the Bible says. Faith and belief are two different things.

    Our beliefs are the fruit of faith.

    Faith is the reason why we confidently believe.

    So while believing is our choice, insofar as any belief is our choice (although, can you really choose to believe the sky is green once you’ve looked up and seen for yourself that it’s blue?), faith might not be. Belief and faith are two different things.

    So what then can we say about faith that has not already been said? Many things. But the most important thing that can be said at this point about faith is that it is a gift from God.

    Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

    Paul says so right there. Faith is a gift from God. It is not your own doing. Further, he confirms it:

    Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    Here it says that God has assigned us each a measure of faith. Now, this is saying a lot more than simply that faith comes from God. Nonetheless, it is at least saying that our faith is given to us by God.

    It is very much like when you were a kid and you’d make fun of other kids saying, “When God was handing out brains, you got the leftovers because you were late,” or something like that. While we smile at this sort of thing and don’t take it too seriously, nonetheless, there is some measure of truth to it. God really does hand out faith to whom he wills.

    Now, if you never looked up at the sky, you’d never believe the sky was blue. If your wife had refused to marry you, you probably wouldn’t believe she really loved you. And if planes crashed all the time, you wouldn’t believe them to be safe.

    My point is that if you remove the REASON for your beliefs, you will cease to believe. If you insert the reason for the opposite belief, your beliefs will change, such as in the case of your wife and in the case of airplanes. If you don’t have a good reason to believe something, you won’t believe it, and you will believe whatever you have good reason to believe.

    Faith constitutes a good reason to believe. No one will be confronted with a mountain of evidence for something and simply refuse to believe it. We have to judge one way or the other. It is our nature. We are curious. God told us to subdue the earth, and that means we seek to understand as much as we can. We are made to be curious. We can’t help ourselves. And we have to pronounce judgment. You can’t look up at the sky, see that it’s blue, and fail to believe that it’s blue. You can’t do it. Try to do it and you will be unable. In the same way, if airplanes crashed all the time, you would be unable to think that they were safe. You would also be unable to refrain from pronouncing judgment one way or the other. If planes crashed all the time and someone asked you if planes were safe, you would be unable to say “no comment”. You would be quite compelled, I think, to respond as anyone would by saying, “No, they are not safe. They crash all the time. Why are you even asking me? Don’t you know that they crash all the time? Don’t you also, because of that, believe that they are unsafe like every other rational human being?” Or something like that.

    So, if you are given faith, you can’t help but believe. And if you don’t have faith, you have no reason to believe.

    Faith serves as the reason to believe. Faith necessarily gives rise to belief because of our nature. We are made in God’s image, and he is not neutral on anything. To him, everything is good or evil. Very black and white. He does not refrain from making pronouncements. So we who have been made in his image do not refrain either.

    So if we have the reason to believe, we cannot help but believe. It is our nature.

    Conversely, if we don’t have reason to believe, we don’t believe.

    Now, in regards to salvation, this gets a bit more complicated. Romans 1 says that human beings are without excuse. Why? Because God has given them reason to believe in the creation by revealing himself. Look:

    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
    Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
    Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    Ok, so verse 20 says clearly that God has revealed himself in the things that have been made, in the creation. So humans, who have been made to perceive this, are without excuse. There’s just one problem. They don’t perceive God’s glory in the creation. Why?

    Verse 18 tells us the answer. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Their sin clouds their vision. Their sin is like the flaming sword of the cherubim who guard Eden and prevent man from entering God’s presence. Our sin prevents us from perceiving his glory in his creation.

    So, consider again the believer and the pagan. The believer, when he looks up to the night sky and sees billions of stars, is struck with the awesome majesty of the God who created it all. The pagan sees many deities whom he should worship. He sees ways of predicting his own future. He sees only himself and his own glory. So he worships trees and images of animals and all kinds of crazy things, fabricating myths for himself that distort the truth, and all so that he doesn’t have to bring himself to be confronted by the truth of the creation. The pagan would rather deceive himself into believing all kinds of nonsense than believe that there is a Creator who demands his obedience. Why? Because he doesn’t want to obey him. He wants to disobey him. But he knows this is futile, so he has to try to pretend that he doesn’t see God’s glory in the creation. His will to do this is so strong that he thinks he sees what he does not see, and does not think he sees what he does in fact see.

    And you can see this at work by asking any detective how many stories he’ll get if there are 10 witnesses to a crime. He’ll tell you that everyone sees things differently. That’s because what we see is shaped by what we want to see.

    But when God gives us faith, this sinful desire to ignore God’s glory is overcome.

    1Jo 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith.
    1Jo 5:5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

    You see, our faith is what overcomes the world. But to say that our faith belongs to us does not complete the story. Just because it belongs to us does not mean it is our creation or that we are responsible for it. It is not our creation, we are not responsible for it.

    Faith comes from God.

    Faith is what happens when we are raised to new spiritual life.

    Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins
    Eph 2:2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–
    Eph 2:3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
    Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,
    Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–
    Eph 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

    I’m sorry, I know that’s a bit long of a passage. But the point here is that we were dead in our sins, following the desires of the world, until God came along and acted upon us, raising us to new life in Christ Jesus. Apart from this act of God, we would have remained in the world following its ways. But now, God has raised us from spiritual death, so that we live.

    This is what we mean when we say that faith is a gift from God. Faith is the result of God making us spiritually alive.

    The difference between you and the Wiccan who doesn’t accept Christ is simply faith. Meaning, you have been raised to life, and he hasn’t. Dead men cannot do anything but follow the sinful desires of the world, and that means that they have no reason to believe in God. In fact, they have provided themselves with reasons NOT to believe in God: they love their sin. Their sin provides the reason for their unbelief, or rather, in their pagan beliefs, whatever they might be.

    Meanwhile for us, faith provides the reason why we DO believe, and this faith comes to us by God acting upon us, raising us to new life in Christ.

    We call God’s acting upon us in this way “regeneration”. Faith is the result of regeneration. God regenerates us, and presto, we now have faith. That’s what it means to be regenerated.

    But this brings up an interesting point.

    If faith is a gift from God, and everyone who has faith believes, and everyone who believes is saved, then that means that the only people who get saved are the ones to whom God decides to give the gift of faith. If God gives them faith, they’ll be saved; if he doesn’t, they won’t.

    This is proven over and over again in the Scriptures. Look at them for yourself, and you will see it.

    This does not mean that your will does not act. It does. You certainly DO choose Christ. But you only believe in Christ AFTER God first gives you faith. And once God gives you faith, it’s like looking up to the sky, and seeing that it’s blue, you declare it to be blue. You cannot fail to make this judgment that the sky is blue. You cannot deny it; it’s simply true. It’s the same with faith. By faith you sort of “see” that the Bible is true and that God exists, and that Jesus Christ is your Savior. You sort of see these things by faith.

    But this seeing is not the same, of course, as regular seeing. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” So it is different. But it’s a good analogy, as long as you realize that it’s an analogy.

    If you have faith, you cannot help but judge that God is true. And this is because by faith you recognize God’s self revelation. He reveals to you that he is true.

    Thus Rom 10:17 says that faith comes by hearing the word of Christ. It is when God speaks to us that faith results. It is when he reveals himself to us by speaking to us that we begin to believe that he is true: that’s because when he reveals himself to us, we understand him a little bit better, and therefore we know that he is trustworthy and true, thus we believe in him, and believe what he says.

    All this happens by God’s initiation.

    This is what the Calvinist believes.

  161. Good explanation Echo that was enjoyable, articulate, and very non threatening (as if you know everything and I (the arminian) knows CRAP)! Thank you. This style would serve you guys all very well when trying to tell a notsogood listener like myself the truth about Calvinism. Thanks again that was great!

    I will have to look at some more scriptures and get back to you when I have some time to spend, becasue I don’t want to waste your time with half-hearted answers. I can tell you this at first glimpse, I agree with so much of what you say, and believe and this I think I always have. The main thing I don’t jive with is the God predestined it to be this way, you accept or not, but He made it one way or the other! I believe, or may I dare to say my faith tells me something different:)

    No doubt that God through His grace gives us ALL of our gifts, faith included. And It is only through having Faith In Christ that makes the difference between me and the wiccan. Why they don’t believe, I can honestly say it is their sin that keeps them back, it is the fact that they know in their own minds that God exists because of this beautiful creation, but He calls for so much more from us than the wiccan and pagan lifestyles we have come to enjoy!

    When I was not a believer, but I was presented with the gospel, I was sure God was real, but unwilling to give my real sin to Him for so many reasons. I didn’t think He really could forgive me, I wasn’t sure if I could come to Him first, maybe I needed to clean up things first and then come to God as a “new man”. All of this comes from my carnal nature and thinking that really wanted to do right, but had no idea I could actually do it! And on my own there was no way I could do it that is for sure, but my own power was all I had known to that point in my life. Did I believe in God, yes sir, but I wasn’t ready at 17, 18 years old to walk away from my life!

    Anyway, I will continue in my response tomorrow, and try to give some verses to back a few things up. I think we may be on to something here.

    Tony

  162. Tony,

    I eagerly await your response when you can.

    E

  163. Tony & Echo (and anybody else that might have persevered long enough to read this far down!), I’m closing this thread off; you can continue the discussion here.

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