Whodunit

Twice already (here, here), new posts have sprung, phoenix-like, from the ashes of the post Jesus the Hyper-Calvinist. Except (phoenix-unlike), JHC won’t actually die. At this point, with 162 comments, it is my longest single thread ever. Quite a long time ago, the discussion shifted from the original intention of the post, to a general discussion of Calvinism vs. Arminianism between guests Echo and Tony. There’s a lot of good stuff buried in there that I don’t want people to miss.

Most recently, this longish comment (well, about average for Echo), and a handful preceding it, seem to indicate that the discussion has turned a corner — in content and in tone. So I’m closing that thread for further comments, and starting fresh here. (Plus, with my dearth of original posts lately, I’ll take this chance for a redirect!)

Much of the Calvinist/Arminian debate centers around Whodunit. The Calvinist wants to say God dunit, because otherwise some measure of credit (/merit/glory) are ascribed to us for the role we play in our salvation (active choice, positive response). Despite agreeing that man should not be getting any glory, the Arminian wants to say Man dunit, because otherwise it doesn’t seem fair when God punishes the non-elect (e.g. Pharaoh), if it was God whodunit (or who didn’t dunit) in the first place.

Let’s think again about Faith as a gift (since Calvinists and Arminians agree that Faith is a gift from God). Let’s say you go to the store, and you buy a sweater. You wear the sweater around, and eventually somebody says, “Hey, nice sweater!” At this point, you get to say things like “Thanks, I got a great deal on it, it’s made of cashmere, I really love this color”, etc. All of which are reasonable to say, since you did a good job picking out the sweater. What a great consumer you are, with your eye for a bargain, and your tastefully chic sense of fashion.

On the other hand, let’s say you go to the Christmas tree, and you open a gift, and it’s a sweater. You wear the sweater around, and eventually somebody says, “Hey, nice sweater!” How do you react? The essence of polite response is to disclaim all personal responsibility for the gift, and redirect credit to the giver: “Isn’t it a nice sweater? My aunt gave this to me for Christmas! She always gives such nice gifts. It must have cost her a fortune! Look, it’s cashmere, and I really love this color”, etc.

I think you can see where the analogy is headed, but in the end, the analogy is not that helpful, as Arminians will add elements to the analogy about accepting vs. rejecting Aunt Enid’s love for you and her wonderful plan for your wardrobe, returning the sweater for a leather motorcycle jacket, etc.

I think it is helpful, however, to try to see things from God’s perspective (or what we can only faintly imagine his perspective is like). The following Arminian scenario makes no sense to me: God predestines that some will be graciously given a measure of faith sufficient to believe unto Salvation, and “after” that faith is given, “then” (from God’s timeless vantage point) God has to sit on his hands, withold his omnipotence, and “wait” for man to make a choice, to choose to exercise that faith (and possibly not exercise that faith in the end?). How crazy is that? Is God sitting in heaven, biting his nails, watching us open his gift, thinking “I hope he likes it, I hope I picked the right color, maybe I should have gone with wool”?

The analogy needs to be improved. When we open that gift, we don’t find a sweater, an accesesory to add to our life and improve it. We find a bridal gown. We find a diamond engagement ring. God has not bought a gift for us. God has bought us. God makes us his own. And unlike man, God does not propose marriage in hope. Being omniscient, he knows who will say “Yes”. Having electively doled out the faith that is the precondition for loving him, he knows who will accept and return his love, and the bridegroom doesn’t propose to those that don’t love him — to those who prefer to remain single.

For better or for worse, God dunit. Those passages (in close proximity in Rom 8 and 9) deserve to be represented in full, not just hidden away behind hyperlinks.

For Better:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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 those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

For Worse:

As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 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.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

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

Advertisements

43 Responses

  1. Rube as always Nice post!

    Think on one thing; God is Omnipotent, but does that mean as ALL powerful, he uses his power endlessly, and every time He gets a chance to? All powerful also says that he is free and has the power to NOT act or use His power, no?

    So in the Armenian analogy, yes God is All Powerful, but not “sitting on His hands” just not forcing them (his hands)!

    God is all knowing, but yet His ways remain as “the mysteries of God” that He has revealed in His son. If He is truly All knowing, all powerful, why not make man so bright the knowledge of God was not a mystery? Make this all so easy for us mere mortals!

    The answer is still in His sovereignty you guys hold to. Because of His sovereignty (ability to control all things), He doesn’t HAVE to choose us, He doesn’t HAVE to use His power at ALL times. In fact, His sovereignty allows Him NOT to use His power as much as it empowers Him to use it.

    He is sovereign, merciful, and just therefore God doesn’t put His wrath on you and me every time we mess up, and every time the Children of Israel did the opposite of what He said, but He was patient, waited to react, slow to anger, rich in love, and long-suffering. Does this mean because He didn’t punish right away and He did give them chance after chance after chance, that He was just sitting up there on his hands doing nothing? No, His choice to not act is just as much a part of His sovereignty as His choice to move!

    These are all attributes of His sovereignty that Calvinists leave out of God’s personality as supreme ruler, because it doesn’t really fit their theology that God is supreme, so He must choose us all. Can’t we say in the same manner because He is the supreme ruler, he doesn’t chose us in a pre-destined way, but made the way in His son Jesus and gives us the choice, which is supported in Scripture. Even Echo agreed that we have a choice and our choice matters to God! So why can’t that choice be ours, and not a result of God making us feel that way simply because He is sovereign? I say because of His sovereignty he is free to make me choose and not force His hand on me.

    In this set of verse Paul says we choose 3 times!

    Romans 3:22-26
    We are made right in God’s sight when WE TRUST in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, no matter who we are or what we have done. 23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. 25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when WE BELIEVE that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. 26 And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because THEY BELIEVE in Jesus.

    As for God’s promises, His gift to us, Romans says this.

    Romans 4:16
    “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 ALL of His promises, IF we just believe!
    Now you guys will say, “yes but Faith is a gift and you must be given this gift from God and that is why some believe and some do not.”

    This argument is philosophically sound, but these are matters of the spirit not philosophy; the spirit doesn’t make sense to the flesh, nor does it have to apologize for seeking truth outside of Philosophy!

    God’s word later in Chapter 4 of Romans says this about the faith of Abraham, our Father of Faith!

    Romans 4
    20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. 21 He was absolutely CONVINCED that God was able to do anything he promised. 22 And BECAUSE OF Abraham’s faith, God declared him to be righteous.23 now this wonderful truth – that God declared him to be righteous – wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. 24 It was for us; too, assuring us that God will also declare us to be righteous IF WE BELIEVE in God, who brought Jesus our Lord back from the dead. 25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised from the dead to make us right with God.

    Amen to the word of God,
    Tony

  2. All powerful also says that he is free and has the power to NOT act or use His power, no?

    I’ll ‘choose’ No for $1000, Alex. This is probably a root source of our disagreement. Omnipotent doesn’t mean that any sentence that starts with “God can” is correct. For instance, God cannot make a rock so large that he can’t lift it, or microwave a burrito so hot that he can’t eat it. God cannot lie. God cannot contradict his truthful nature by acting in a logically impossible way. As I see it, for an omnipotent, omniscient being, it is not logically possible to be passive. If God does not do something (for instance not elect somebody), it is logically equivalent to say that he caused that something not to happen.

    It’s hard to think about that with our human minds. I didn’t end the war in Iraq. But that’s not the same as saying I caused the war in Iraq not to end. It’s not the same because I don’t have enough power (semi-potence) to cause the war to end or not end. Not so with God.

    I’m curious: in your mind, can/do you make a distinction between these categories:?

    1. A person who God predestined to give sufficient faith, and who accepted salvation

    2. A person who God predestined to give sufficient faith, and who rejected salvation

    3. A person who God predestined to give insufficient faith, and who rejected salvation

    4. A person who God predestined to give NO faith (God hardened their heart), and who rejected salvation

    As a Calvinist, of course, I contend that categories 2. and 3. are empty. I would think that even an Arminian would think twice about category 2, and why bother making a distinction between 4. and 3? Or are there other meaningful categories I left out (for instance this is not meaningful: God predestined to give insufficient faith, but the person overcame that defecit to accept salvation anyways)?

  3. PS what translation are you quoting from? I can barely recognize the bible in that language–it makes me queasy!

  4. Rube,

    I would suggest a slightly modified analogy for what it means to get the gift of faith from God. Rather than getting a wrapped present under the tree that contains a sweater from your aunt, I would suggest that getting faith as a gift from God is more like getting your hair from your father, or your eyes from your mother. “Oh,” says the observer who has been a long time friend of the family, “you have your mother’s eyes, and your father’s hair. It’s so amazing to see them both in you.” To which you blush, because it’s all just a little too personal, because you’re not sure you want your mother’s eyes, or your father’s hair, but you’re stuck with them.

    I don’t mean to say that we aren’t sure we want faith, but that we’re stuck with it, but what I mean to bring out is that faith is not something handed to us that we must accept; rather it is part of who we are. It is part of who/what God created us to be. This is what it means to be part of God’s family tree.

    Remember when Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees, and he said that they do what their father does? Then he tells them that their father is the devil, and that they are liars, just like their father, who was a murderer from the beginning, and that when he lies he is speaking his native language.

    But the elect are different. God is their father. This is spiritual ancestry that is in mind here. Spiritual ancestry gives rise to certain behaviors just like physical ancestry gives rise to certain hair color or eye color or whatever.

    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.”

    Clearly, your behavior to accept or reject the truth is a result of your spiritual heritage. There is something different in the very constitution of believers and unbelievers. This goes all the way back to the beginning:

    Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

    Jesus said that what he was saying goes all the way back to the beginning. And this came true right away in the story of Cain and Abel. Cain was of the devil, and so he murdered his brother. His father was the devil. There has been from the beginning an ongoing struggle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. This represents the children of God and the children of the devil. And this verse also indicates that Jesus Christ is the ultimate Son of God, who perfectly does the will of his Father.

    And a long, long time later, when Jesus came to earth, he spoke the same language that he spoke to the serpent in front of Adam and Eve. He spoke in the language of offspring, of children. There are children of wrath and children of mercy. There are vessels for noble purposes and vessels for common, and the Potter has every right to make whichever he wishes.

  5. Yeah, I was thinking about how the analogy might include gifts that are not exactly what we expect or desire, and how receiving the sweater anyways is an act of submission to Aunt Enid’s wonderful plan for my wardrobe. I think you are right that it is more of a heritable characteristic than a given gift. But I think also this gestalt shift is very important:

    God has not bought a gift for us. God has bought us.

    I read that somewhere else recently; I forget where, but I find it very illuminating. Arminian discussions of limited atonement always center on a gift purchased and given, and the recipient’s role in accepting/opening/applying the gift. But really that’s the wrong perspective. Salvation is not a noun to be handed over, but an action. You yourself is what is purchased — the whole agorazo with his blood discussion is relevant here, as well as the language of slavery. We are bought like a slave, and just like a slave, there’s nothing we can do about it.

  6. We miss Tony’s point as usual!
    When looking through the tinted glass of Calvinism It makes it hard to see others point. I do understand though you probably think the same of me:) I didn’t say God made something he couldn’t do something about. I didn’t say that he made something and then it turned out to be too big to lift, what I said or meant was, that God as being all-powerful has the power to not do something, or not MAKE something happen. You guys take sovereignty and make it something by definition it is not, God being sovereign doesn’t mean that He has to do everything; it just means he has the power. No where in the term used for all powerful is it indicated that the power is used at all times for every occasion. Even if he doesn’t do something that is not using His power. I’m simply saying that God is free to do what he wants because of his sovereignty, and this freedom makes him equally free to not do something! He is free, that is what I’m saying about His sovereignty!

  7. Tony,

    Re: 1

    You seem to have a different concept of God’s providence than I do. I am convinced that the conception of it that has been taught to me is true to the Scriptures. So in the name of upholding the truth of Scripture – not my own ideas – I would engage you on this point.

    You seem to believe that God can choose to exercise his power in our lives, or leave us to ourselves, to do what we will. This means that any time God acts, he is intervening in our lives, in history. However, if God chooses not to act, history will still continue, and our lives will continue, and things will, in general keep going. I think this is being true to this comment:

    “All powerful also says that he is free and has the power to NOT act or use His power, no?”

    So apparently, if God does not act in a situation, we will continue to live and breathe and nature will continue according to its laws.

    I don’t think I have set up a straw man here. I’m pretty sure your statement quoted above, along with other things you have said, testify that this is what you believe. And frankly, I think this is what most people believe. Even Rube didn’t seem to correct it, and seemed to imply the same kind of belief. Perhaps in both of your cases, you either didn’t realize that you were doing it, or it wasn’t done deliberately, or whatever.

    How can I put this delicately, so as not to offend people? How about this: God presents an alternative to this view in the Scriptures. I’m sure you have probably never given this particular concept much thought. I never had until someone brought it up to me. Why would it even occur to us to think about it? I mean, who sits around and asks themselves questions like, “What does it mean for God to act in history?” Or, “At what level is God involved in history?” Or, “What does God do, exactly?” Well, while we might not sit around and ask these kinds of questions, the Bible does answer them. Perhaps that only shows how much we need the Scriptures to teach us. It doesn’t just teach us the answers, but also which questions to ask.

    So let’s ask this unintuitive question. How involved IS God, really, in what takes place in this world?

    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,

    Well, that’s the ESV version. The KJV says:

    (KJV) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

    What I’m focusing on here is that Jesus, being God, upholds all things by the word of his power. Alternatively, the ESV translates this as upholding the universe by the word of his power.

    Now, what the Greek says is “ta panta”. This literally means all things. But the ESV is not wrong. We define the word “universe” as that which encompasses all things. So the ESV is just trying to put this in everyday parlance.

    But the point is, all things are upheld by the Word of God, the Word of his power. But what does it mean for all things to be upheld by the Word of his power? That’s perhaps the key question here. While we may not yet know precisely what it DOES mean, we can say what it does NOT mean. It does NOT mean that God is uninvolved in what’s going on. It doesn’t mean that God created a self sustaining universe. It doesn’t mean that the Deists are correct when they say that the universe is like a watch that God put together and started and walked away from, while it continues to run on its own. God did not merely create the universe and breathe life into it. He did not merely start things going and then walk away. He is not merely the first cause. So what DOES it mean?

    Well, let’s see what some other Scriptures have to say.

    Mat 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.

    Surely you’ve heard the song, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.” That song is partially correct, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. This is the verse the song comes from, but it says nothing about God merely “watching us…from a distance” as Bette Middler would have us believe. He is not just watching us. In fact, a sparrow is a small thing. Two of them are sold for a penny. They weren’t WORTH much to the people in those days. Despite how little value man puts on these sparrows, Jesus is saying that God puts a HIGH value on them. He says that not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father. Unless God signs off on it, it doesn’t happen. A sparrow can’t even die unless God is involved. Why? Because of the high value he puts on his creation. It is HIS.

    Isa 45:7 I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things.

    Isa 46:8 “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,
    Isa 46:9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,
    Isa 46:10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’
    Isa 46:11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

    Psa 145:14 The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
    Psa 145:15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
    Psa 145:16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.

    Neh 9:6 “You are the LORD, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.

    Dan 4:34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
    Dan 4:35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”

    Psa 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.

    Act 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,
    Act 17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
    Act 17:26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
    Act 17:27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,
    Act 17:28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

    Job 36:27 For he draws up the drops of water; they distill his mist in rain,
    Job 36:28 which the skies pour down and drop on mankind abundantly.
    Job 36:29 Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thunderings of his pavilion?
    Job 36:30 Behold, he scatters his lightning about him and covers the roots of the sea.
    Job 36:31 For by these he judges peoples; he gives food in abundance.
    Job 36:32 He covers his hands with the lightning and commands it to strike the mark.
    Job 36:33 Its crashing declares his presence; the cattle also declare that he rises.

    Job 37:10 By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.
    Job 37:11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning.
    Job 37:12 They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.
    Job 37:13 Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.

    Job 38:4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.
    Job 38:5 Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?
    Job 38:6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone,
    Job 38:7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
    Job 38:8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb,
    Job 38:9 when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band,
    Job 38:10 and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors,
    Job 38:11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
    Job 38:12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place,
    Job 38:13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?

    Job 38:24 What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
    Job 38:25 “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain and a way for the thunderbolt,
    Job 38:26 to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man,
    Job 38:27 to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground sprout with grass?
    Job 38:28 “Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew?
    Job 38:29 From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
    Job 38:30 The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
    Job 38:31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
    Job 38:32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children?
    Job 38:33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?
    Job 38:34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?
    Job 38:35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
    Job 38:36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?
    Job 38:37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
    Job 38:38 when the dust runs into a mass and the clods stick fast together?
    Job 38:39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
    Job 38:40 when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in their thicket?
    Job 38:41 Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God for help, and wander about for lack of food?

    Job 40:8 Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?
    Job 40:9 Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?
    Job 40:10 “Adorn yourself with majesty and dignity; clothe yourself with glory and splendor.
    Job 40:11 Pour out the overflowings of your anger, and look on everyone who is proud and abase him.
    Job 40:12 Look on everyone who is proud and bring him low and tread down the wicked where they stand.
    Job 40:13 Hide them all in the dust together; bind their faces in the world below.
    Job 40:14 Then will I also acknowledge to you that your own right hand can save you.

    There is a TON of support for God’s involvement in all things in the last couple chapters of Job. I would highly recommend you go back and review those chapters. It is quite overwhelming proof that God is intimately involved in all things.

    Mat 6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
    Mat 6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
    Mat 6:28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
    Mat 6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
    Mat 6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

    Pro 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

    Psa 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.

    Act 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

    Gen 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.
    Gen 8:22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

    Jer 31:35 Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar– the LORD of hosts is his name:

    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.

    So the bottom line is this. That God is in active control of everything is not up for debate. Now that you have thought about it and seen it proven from Scripture, there should be no more question about that specific point.

    The only question that remains is: how can it be true that God controls everything, causes everything, is intimately involved in everything that comes to pass – yet we still are said to have free will and to make choices?

    You see, to say that either God is involved in everything OR we have free will and make choices is what is technically called a “false dichotomy”. Now, don’t get all upset about this word “false” here. All this means is that to insist that it is either one or the other, but it can’t be both, is an attempt to force a false choice. It is a choice that the Bible neither poses nor enters into. The Bible clearly affirms BOTH.

    Hyper-Calvinists, as they are called, insist that since God is in control of everything, bringing to pass everything that happens, then free will must be an illusion.

    Arminians say that since we have a choice, God can choose not to act. In other words, he is not intimately involved in all things that come to pass.

    Meanwhile, Calvinists say that both are correct.

    The Westminster Shorter Catechism says:

    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.

    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.

    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.

    So the question is no longer: does the Bible affirm both, and do Calvinists affirm both, but how can it be true? It IS true that the Bible affirms both. Many, many passages have been cited. Probably so many that you neglected to bother to read them all. But not just these passages are valid here. There are also the numerous passages that speak of God predestining us to either life eternal or to unbelief. Many have been cited. Yet somehow, you still deny that this is true. I don’t understand that. But certainly, whether or not the Bible affirms BOTH God’s sovereignty and our free choice is no longer a question. It has been proven.

    All that remains is admitting that what the Bible says is actually what the Bible says. I don’t understand why this is so difficult for us to accept, but it always is. It’s never easy to affirm that the Bible says what it does. Sin always clouds our judgment.

    But make no mistake: the Bible does declare that God is not just in charge of all things, but micromanaging them as well. He brings ALL THINGS to pass. Yet, we still have free choice. These two do not contradict each other.

    If we are committed to believing what the Bible says, then we MUST believe both. We cannot believe one to the exclusion of the other. Just as Jesus Christ is FULLY man and FULLY God, and we cannot choose one at the expense of the other, so it is in this case. Both are true. Just as God is one God yet Three Persons, and we cannot choose one at the expense of the other, so it is in this case. Both are true.

    At this point, I’m not really interested in you understanding HOW it can be true – we can talk about that if you like – but I am most concerned that you admit that this is what the Bible teaches. We cannot question that. It’s clear and obvious. The sky is blue. That’s clear and obvious. That this is taught by Scripture is not hidden between the lines. It is clear and obvious. It’s ok to admit that even if you don’t understand how it can possibly make sense. The important thing is to submit to Scripture, accepting ALL of what it says, not PART of what it says.

    The Bible says that we have free will. It’s clear. Clear as crystal. The Bible also says that God is running the show. It even demands that we believe this. God’s tone in Job 38-41 is not soft spoken. He is pretty irritated with Job to say the least! God is demanding that Job think a certain way and realize his folly. We MUST take a lesson from this. We have to believe what the Bible says, even if it’s a bit too big for us to fully understand. In fact, this is probably the most important reason for us to believe it, because the fact that it’s too big for us to understand proves that we have actually encountered God.

    So please, listen to Scripture. Not to me. I have little to say. But Scripture has much to say. It says that God is sovereign and that he has decreed everything that takes place, and that he governs all things, and that we are totally dependent upon him – yet, we have free will to make a choice.

    Jesus said we should thank God for our daily bread, asking him to continue to provide it for us. But how can that be if we have a job and work, and thus earn a paycheck which buys the bread? Seems like I provided the bread for myself and God had nothing to do with it. But then why would Jesus say what he did in the Lord’s prayer?

    Scripture teaches both. Paul says that if a man will not work, he shall not eat. Simple. Jesus says that we should ask God for our daily bread and thank him for it.

    Being unable to reconcile these two concepts is not a sufficient excuse for believing one and throwing out the other. You don’t get to pick and choose which parts of the Bible you want to believe.

    This is directed at all of us, really.

    E

  8. Tony,

    Re: 6

    Apparently, I did not misconstrue what you were saying in post 1, nor, apparently did you say it mistakenly. It seems you were quite deliberate about saying what I thought you were saying. Very good then. So 7 gives at least part of an answer to 6.

    E

  9. I didn’t say that he made something and then it turned out to be too big to lift, what I said or meant was, that God as being all-powerful has the power to not do something, or not MAKE something happen. You guys take sovereignty and make it something by definition it is not, God being sovereign doesn’t mean that He has to do everything; it just means he has the power.

    No, I didn’t misunderstand you; I was trying to express that your concept of God having omnipotence but not exercising omnipotence is as logically ridiculous to me as making a rock so large he can’t lift it. And that’s just my natural understanding — Echo sealed the deal quite nicely, showing scripturally that God perpetually maintains his active control over the universe — he’s not a watchmaker that let His creation spin off on its own, and he’s not even a watchmaker that occasionally pops in to tinker with the watch. So I deny that God is “free” to withold his omnipotence. He is “free” to run the universe the way he wants to, and since he is perfect and immutable, there is only one perfect plan for all of history, and it’s all spelled out and predestined. Einstein famously criticized the random element of quantum physics by saying, “God does not play dice with the universe”. I say “God cannot play dice”. Unlike us, God cannot throw dice without determining their outcome. Thus the closest he could come to ‘playing’ a game of Yahtzee, would be either to win or lose on purpose.

    And frankly, I think this is what most people believe. Even Rube didn’t seem to correct it, and seemed to imply the same kind of belief. Perhaps in both of your cases, you either didn’t realize that you were doing it, or it wasn’t done deliberately, or whatever.

    !! I tried to correct it! Where did I imply it?

    Hyper-Calvinists, as they are called, insist that since God is in control of everything, bringing to pass everything that happens, then free will must be an illusion.

    I insist that since God is in control of everything, bringing to pass everything that happens, then free will must be an illusion (or more succinctly, determinism, therefore free will is an illusion). But I do not call myself a Hyper-Calvinist. I refer you again to the definition of five flavors of Hyper-Calvinism near the bottom of the post that started it all. None of those five definitions mention believing that free will is illusory — or even mention ‘free will’ at all! I suppose you are free to tack on a sixth definition if you want, but I am not required to accept it.

  10. Echo,

    Ok, I said this in the earlier thread but of coarse a tthis point it is all running together I’m sure. I’m not denying God’s involvment in everything, technically by Him not acting, He is acting so I agree with that statement to some degree, I think. Right now I’m in the middle of work, but by the time I have to write I will have to get home to the family.

    So on the point from post#7, I most certainly agree God is All powerful, All-knowing, and is involved in my life, deism is not my claim, that is for sure, actually the whole God pre-destined it always appeared desit to some degree to me, He planned it, said it, and now he is just sitting back watching it all go down! But I do see now that Calvinism can be explained a little differently than this, but it rides on the fence in my opinion.

    Anyway, I do see God as involved, and all of the scriptures you qoute for His involvment are good, but I guess I see His involvment a little differently than the pre-destined idea. that has been my issue from day 1, not that God can’t be sovereign, this is not my claim, but the definition of His sovereignty is different.

    He is indeed my creator and knows everyting about me better than myself, but his working everyhting out for me without my say is my cross-roads.

    Tony

  11. Rube,

    I’m not applying the label hyper-Calvinist to you. I think you’re getting hung up on certain words. The difference between what you’re saying and what I’m saying is slight.

    Anyway, you said:
    Omnipotent doesn’t mean that any sentence that starts with “God can” is correct. For instance, God cannot make a rock so large that he can’t lift it, or microwave a burrito so hot that he can’t eat it. God cannot lie. God cannot contradict his truthful nature by acting in a logically impossible way. As I see it, for an omnipotent, omniscient being, it is not logically possible to be passive. If God does not do something (for instance not elect somebody), it is logically equivalent to say that he caused that something not to happen.

    – Echo:
    It is your last sentence here that I was referring to. Here’s the reformed view.

    God decrees everything that happens. Whether you stand up or sit down, God decreed it before the foundation of the earth. Whether you have faith or not, God decreed it before the foundation of the earth. Whatever happens can only happen because God first decreed it.

    Unless God decrees it, you can do nothing.

    Joh 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

    God’s inaction cannot cause anything, because nothing happens on its own apart from God causing it.

    In what I wrote above, I said that God is not merely the first cause. Well, he’s far more than the first cause. He’s EVERY cause of everything.

    Does that mean that he decreed the fall and sin? You bet it does. Does that mean he’s evil? Nope. As Joseph told his brothers, what we mean for evil, God means for good.

    That means when Adam and Eve blew it for the whole human race, they did it because God decreed it. But they also did it because they chose it. But when they chose it, they sinned. When God decreed it, he did not sin. He glorifies himself even through our sin. He uses it for his purposes.

    To naysayers, all I can say is that this is what Calvinists believe. And they believe it because the Bible teaches it. I understand it’s tough to swallow, but you really can’t prove that the Scriptures don’t teach it, unless of course you choose to simply ignore parts of it.

    This is not something new that I’m making up. This is the classic reformed view. This is the view that EVERYONE held among Protestants for a couple hundred years.

    The Arminian view only came along later, and was a result of the counter-reformation. Look it up.

    E

  12. Tony,

    Re: 10

    How do you say that you just don’t agree with predestination in light of:

    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.

    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 1:11 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,

    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.

    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.

    Tony,

    How is it that the Bible SAYS God predestines us to salvation, but you simply shrug your shoulders and say that you don’t believe that? How do you do that?

    I mean, you can see clearly that the word here is “predestined” right??? Are you concerned about translations?

    Fine, here’s the KING JAMES VERSION of the same verses…

    Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,

    Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

    Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
    Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

    Joh 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

    Here’s the Strong’s for the Greek word which is the same word used in both Romans and Ephesians.

    G4309
    προορίζω
    proorizō
    pro-or-id’-zo
    From G4253 and G3724; to limit in advance, that is, (figuratively) predetermine: – determine before, ordain, predestinate.

    If for some reason you are very stubborn and insist that I have only quoted Paul on people being predestined to salvation, here’s Peter saying that people are created for the purpose of being destroyed:

    2Pe 2:12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,

    And I have already quoted John. Want to see some verses from the Old Testament? Oh, no, you probably don’t. It IS just as valid as the NT when properly interpreted you know.

    So I don’t understand how you can look at these passages, even glance at them, and yet still insist on denying that they teach predestination.

    I WELCOME you to look the passages up in your NIV or whatever other translation you want. I haven’t seen one yet that doesn’t use the word predestine.

    How can you just deny that that’s there?

    And by the way, don’t tell me that I deny man’s free will, because I don’t. And Calvinists haven’t since the Reformation. Calvin didn’t, the reformed churches didn’t, they wrote about it in their confessions. For HUNDREDS of years, ever since there WERE Calvinists, they’ve been affirming free will. The Westminster Confession of Faith even gave free will its own chapter.

    So don’t say “you have your verses, and I have mine”, because I’m quite content to claim the entire Bible as mine. I have written about a number of verses that you strung together somewhere and explained them. You haven’t even attempted to explain ANY of the verses that declare that man has been predestined. Why is that?

    All you HAVE said is that you don’t have all the answers.

    Look at this:

    1. The Bible says yes to predestination. (In fact, that’s where we got the idea!)

    2. You say no to predestination.

    3. When number 1 is pointed out to you, you simply say, well, I don’t have all the answers.

    I mean, if the Bible was unclear or something, that’d be one thing.

    Let’s substitute a different doctrine for predestination and look at how silly it sounds. Are you ready?

    1. Suppose Bobby says that Jesus isn’t God.

    2. Suppose Jesus’ divinity is proven from Scripture.

    3. Bobby shrugs and says, well, I’m not sure what those passages mean. I don’t have all the answers.

    That’s clearly someone who has simply rejected the Bible. How are you different? You’re not. It’s just a different doctrine. I don’t understand how you can look the Bible right in the eye and say that the sky is red. How do you do that?

  13. Rube,

    Re: 9

    I guess what I was trying to say is, God doesn’t just allow people to be lost by simply passing over them for election. He decrees – positively – everything that comes to pass. So he deliberately decrees some to be reprobate.

    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–

    2Pe 2:12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,

    E

  14. I’m with ya; that’s what I was trying to say too. In a context of omnipotence/omniscience, “allowing something not to happen” is logically equivalent to “causing something not to happen”.

  15. Rube,

    I would politely disagree with your logical equivalence. In one view, everyone damns themselves on their own apart from God, while out of that mess, God selects some to be saved.

    In the other view, God determines that some will be saved and some will damn themselves before he even begins to create anything – from all eternity.

    These two views are not logically equivalent. But that may not have been what you had in mind. I dunno.

    E

  16. In one view, everyone damns themselves on their own apart from God

    What I’m saying is that there is no “apart from God”. Maybe you’ll agree better if I say that “Omnipotent, omniscient God allows something not to happen” is a logically self-inconsistent statement. The only way to make that collection of words meaningful is if they mean the same thing as “Omnipotent, omniscient God causes something not to happen.” It’s a fine distinction, but there are a million ways to respond to Tony that I (and you) disagree that God can choose when to exercise his sovereignty, and when not to. However, I’m not sure if there are any that would cause him to change his mind.

  17. Rube,

    It is a fine distinction you’re making, but I guess I’m trying to make a finer one. When you speak of God causing something not to happen, it sounds to me like God is *simply* preventing something from happening, rather than actually causing something to positively happen.

    I need an example. Well, I’m having a hard time thinking of something. I’ve got it. Chemical reactions. We know that when we mix certain chemicals, there is a chemical reaction. Let’s use the old hydrogen peroxide and baking soda volcano trick. You mix these two chemicals, and it fizzes over. So if you make a paper mache volcano and put baking soda inside the cone, then pour hydrogen peroxide into it, it creates a cool effect like a miniature volcano. Let’s say that God does not want the volcano effect to take place for whatever reason. Does he restrain the natural reaction, sort of like preventing the hand of a watch from moving on its own? I mean, a watch’s hands move because they are run by a motor. You can stop a watch hand from moving by applying enough force to the hand to work against the motor, right? So the chemical reactions WILL take place, so to speak, UNLESS God acts to prevent it. Is that right?

    I say no. God IS the motor driving the watch. Every time you mix these chemicals together, they react because God is actively causing it. If God did not cause it, there would be no reaction. The laws of physics and nature are not something that God *simply* ordained, but operate on their own. God constantly upholds the laws of nature. The laws of nature are nothing other than a pattern in God’s behavior. Gravity always functions because God always causes things to behave that way. There is no inherent regularity in nature itself, but in God who providentially rules over all things. Electrons rotate about the nucleus of an atom because of electrical forces. But those electrical forces are directly caused individually by God. He has decreed everything that comes to pass. Every orbit of an individual electron around the nucleus was planned out by God. Sure, there are patterns, and man wants to say that this is inherent in nature, but that means there are patterns in God’s decree. God does this to comfort us, to remind us that he’s being deliberate about what he’s doing. If everything were random, God would still be in control of course, but nothing would make sense to us, and our existence would be more terrifying. But God acts in a regular way so that we can develop rules about how he typically operates. This comforts us and allows us to progress in harmony with his operations. It allows for us to take dominion over the creation because there are patterns in the creation and God made us to discover them and work with them.

    So God never has a need to work against nature so as to prevent chemical reactions from taking place, as if they would take place on their own unless he acts to prevent it. No reaction would take place unless God actively caused it.

    In the same way, mankind would have never fallen unless God had first decreed it to take place. We cannot make any choices that God has not decreed beforehand. God does not allow people to be reprobate, he causes them to be. He doesn’t merely cause them not to come to faith. He doesn’t merely not save them, and thereby cause them to damn themselves. Rather, the fall is part of his plan.

    Sometimes when people die, people say that God took him. If someone has a heart attack, some people say that God called him home. I think this is more or less true, but it’s a slightly incorrect perspective. Day in and day out, God causes our heart to beat. It doesn’t beat on its own unless God prevents it. God causes every single beat to take place. When it stops beating, it is because God has stopped causing it to beat.

    If God suddenly ceased to act, the universe would cease to exist. He upholds all things by the word of his power, and in him all things have their being. He is not just our Creator, but also our Sustainer. Have you just thought of something? It is because God caused neurons to fire and chemicals to be realeased across a synapse.

    Just imagine what this implies. Think of how awesome God’s capacity for keeping track of it all must be! Every electron that orbits every atom is like a little child on a swing that God is pushing. How he must delight in it all! The more we search and discover all the amazing things about our universe, the more impressed we must be with God. The God who makes the movements of quarks appear random is the same God who tosses galaxies at one another, causes black holes to capture our imaginations, upholds the laws of gravity continually, provides a rabbit for a hungry wolf, causes the stomach of a baby bird to digest the food its mother has given it, and causes stars to explode their life giving energy. This same God became flesh and dwelt among us and died for us, suffering on our behalf, and rising from the grave proving his power over even death itself. It is he who has consigned us to life or death, it is he who has determined the depth of the ocean, the height of the atmosphere, the nature of quarks, the unsearchable distances of stars 14 billion light years away and speaks to us in his Word. He is the one who decides who comes and who goes, who believes and who rejects, who lives and who dies, who breathes and who ceases to breathe.

    As we take in the knowledge of this lofty Creator and Sustainer in ever increasing gulps, we begin to fathom how unfathomable our God truly is. And when we realize that our faith is not our own doing, but is the result of inheritance from our Father, and is the result of the life giving breath of the Spirit who works through the preaching of the Word of God – then we begin to imagine just how humble we ought to be before our awesome God. For when we truly begin to understand that there is no reason why we shouldn’t be condemned to hell other than God’s mercy, when we can no longer take ANY of the credit for choosing to have faith, because we never chose it in the first place, anymore than we choose to fall in love, when we truly begin to understand this, how can we not tremble?

    How can we consider that it is God who has decided to have mercy on us and call us to faith and bring about faith in us and not fear? It is God’s will that moves us.

    Ask yourself, O Christian, why do I believe? Ask yourself why you aren’t in hell right now, facing an eternity of the wrath of God? What prevents you from having such a destiny? Why won’t you suffer worse torment that you can even begin to imagine forever? Because God wrote you to be a believer. He spoke of you, and you were given birth. He sent his Word, and it was life to your dead soul. He has not just created you once, but twice. You have been born again. Even as he stitches us together in our mother’s wombs, so too does he enliven us in the church’s loving embrace. For the church is our mother, and it is there that God knits us together a second time, a further time, and we are given spiritual birth and are made alive in Christ.

    Yes, the same God who pushes every electron around its nucleus breathed life into you in your mother’s womb, and breathed life into you by his Spirit through the preaching of his Word. It is his Word that has been like oxygen to your lungs. In went the Word by the Spirit and you opened your eyes for the first time and gasped for air. And what did you see, O child of God? You saw Jesus, and falling at his feet you recognized your unworthiness, confessing your sins. But it is just then that he laid his hand on you and said, “Fear not, for I hold the keys to Death and Hades.” And then he bade you rise on your feet and he embraced you, and welcomed you into his Father’s house, and called you his brother and his son.

    Rube, I am not convinced that deep down every Christian doesn’t know that this is what has happened. I think we all know. I think it rings true because it is true. The Bible certainly teaches it. And I am confident that any true Christian, given enough exposure to these truths will eventually accept them, because they are God’s truths, and believers have the Spirit in them, giving testimony to the truth of his Word. True believers cannot but be sanctified provided they are continually exposed to the truth. I am convinced that every Christian longs for that day when they see Jesus face to face.

    While we long to see him, in this life, it has been given to us to hear him. We cannot see him. But we can hear him. This is what he says to us. He calls us to himself, and this calling draws us. He breathes life into our dead souls and we live and hear him, and hearing him, we follow, for his sheep know his voice and are drawn to him. It has not been given to all to hear him. To some who have been given to hear him, they do not follow him because in his voice they do not discern the voice of their shepherd. That is not because it is up to us to discern the voice of our shepherd. It is not as if he is everyone’s shepherd, and we follow him only if we recognize that. No, everyone who is his sheep hears him and recognizes the voice of their shepherd. If that doesn’t take place, he is not their shepherd. For his sheep know his voice, he says. And one day, he will separate the sheep from the goats. Not good sheep from bad sheep, but sheep from goats. Different species altogether. Created differently. That is why it is true that if they go out from us, they were never really of us in the first place. We cannot tell sheep from goats. But we do know that his sheep hear his voice. Not everyone in the church is saved, but everyone who is saved is in the church. For there may be goats in the sheep pen, but his sheep know his voice and follow him. There are no sheep outside the sheep pen, save those who have not yet heard his voice because he has not yet spoken to them.

    And it is a little scary to realize these truths. What if I’m not his sheep? We don’t need to be afraid, because if we didn’t ask such questions, it would be because we didn’t care. If we care, then we are seeking to follow our shepherd’s voice. It is also a bit unnerving for things to be totally outside our control too. But this anxiety goes away when we see how totally wicked and sinful we are, and how prone we are to failure at anything even partly good. For if we are fallible and our salvation depended on us, then our salvation would be fallible too. But our salvation is sure and certain because God is sure and certain. He is always faithful, his love endures forever. This is not cause for fear and anxiety when you stop and think about it, but cause for great comfort and peace and joy. Thank GOD your salvation doesn’t depend on you in anyway! Thank God that it’s out of your hands, because if it were in your hands, you’d mess it up, and then you really would be in trouble! But God won’t mess it up. We are not in trouble, we are saved. We are his and he is ours.

    But by believing these things, we don’t deny our responsibility or our duty. Rather, it is by believing these things that we begin to take our responsibility more seriously. Since God loved us SO much to tell us this great story of redemption, to pay such a terrific price to purchase us – shouldn’t this drive us to love him? And if we truly love him, won’t we love our neighbor who is made in his image? And if we know that our salvation doesn’t depend on us at all, won’t that move us to pity our neighbor, who doesn’t have the same privilege? How can we look down on ANYONE, when we are exactly the same as they are? Any good in us is not to our credit but God’s! So won’t we be kinder to our brother as a result? And isn’t this what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves? And isn’t this good fruit? And didn’t Jesus say that by their fruit you shall know them? Doesn’t this belief make God greater and more glorious and more readily lead to good works on our part because it provides greater motivation and understanding? Yes. It does. Couple that with the fact that the Bible teaches it, and we become compelled to accept it. We become driven to believe it. We must believe it. We want to believe it. We want to believe it because of its beauty and awesome glory that it brings to our great God.

    Who is like God? To whom will we compare him? Weren’t we born for this: to learn who he is? Isn’t this what life is all about? To live is Christ – because he is our life. He gives us life and is the focus of our life. He is what grabs our attention and points us to his Father. How we long to see him!

    We cannot yet see him. But we can hear him. You who have read this and believed it have heard his voice in it, for they are his words. And my part is just to…

    Echo_ohcE

  18. Amen. We are not in disagreement at all, except perhaps…

    It is a fine distinction you’re making, but I guess I’m trying to make a finer one.

    No, it is I who makes the finest distinctions! If I might make a fine distinction between the fineness of your distinctions and the fineness of my distinctions…

    Seriously though, what you said is what I’ve been trying to say all along. And once you understand God’s sovereignty in this incredibly full way, the statement “free will is an illusion” is pretty easy.

  19. Echo,

    I don’t deny any of the verses you quote as being the word of God; nor did I deny their truth; it’s your reconciliation that hits me wrong, maybe because I’m programmed that way, who knows!

    You quote this verse,
    John 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.

    The direct answer would be John 12:32
    Jesus said “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Since we agree that the Holy Spirit of God is the one who draws us, Jesus said, if I be lifted up, (in the context speaking of His crucifixion), he promises to draw ALL men to Himself! See you and I agree that we can only come to the father if the Holy Spirit draws us, the difference is you say only a select few are drawn by the Holy Spirit, and I say along with Jesus that ALL men are drawn by the Holy Spirit based on His word, His promise; not mine!

    John 6:33
    For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. 34 They said to him, Sir, give us this bread always. 35 Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, I am the bread that came down from heaven. 42 They said, is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, I have come down from heaven? 43 Jesus answered them, do not grumble among yourselves. 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. 45 It is written in the Prophets, and they will all be taught by God. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me€” 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.

    I have contended that Jesus compared himself to the manna or bread from heaven, and that God sent this bread and it was to be collected by Israel. It was then the people’s obligation to go get the manna for the day. Later in John 6 Jesus says whoever believes and eats His flesh will have eternal life! I also believe that we are drawn by the Holy Spirit, but the drawing doesn’t mean or imply it was predetermined in and of itself. The scriptures teach that He draws ALL men, and an all-powerful God certainly can draw ALL men to himself. Jesus said, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself!

    You said 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 1:11 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,

    These verses speak of the predestination of being chosen in HIM. We are the elect in Christ; therefore the predestined part of the scripture is speaking of us being adopted through Christ’s death. It was the death, resurrection, and redemption in Jesus Christ that was predestined according to the purpose of God, not that Tony or Echo would be the one’s saved or not.

    You quote Peter
    2Pe 2:12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,

    you say they are born to be destroyed, except this is a metaphor in the scriptures, it is saying that the False Teachers are LIKE these irrational animals that were born to be destroyed, it doesn’t say or imply that God created anyone specifically to be destroyed, that is a stretch you have to admit that, come on! This scripture doesn’t prove your argument.

    If that is the case my scripture holds more water for sure about these same False Prophets,

    2 Peter 2:1 but there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach their destructive heresies about God and even turn against their Master who bought them. Theirs will be a swift and terrible end. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of them, Christ and his true way will be slandered.

    Echo; just remember I have never said something wasn’t true that is in the word, you said I think that!

    But this is your assumption; I simply see the scriptures saying something else as a whole! And these scriptures you laid out are all answered to show that more than just a select few are chosen by God!

    He draws ALL MEN to himself, if He be lifted up (crucified). Jesus knew that if would just be crucified, as it was pre-destined to happen, then and only then can ALL MEN be drawn by the Holy Spirit of God!

    Peace,

    Tony

  20. Let me briefly respond to Tony before Echo drops another 50,000 word cluster-bomb:

    I have contended that Jesus compared himself to the manna or bread from heaven, and that God sent this bread and it was to be collected by Israel. It was then the people’s obligation to go get the manna for the day.

    Your analogy is not only irrelevant, but also incorrect. John 6:49 does not talk about Israelites failing to exercise their free will to go gather and eat manna. It says they ate the manna (therefore they must have also gathered the manna) AND DIED. See Heb. 11 in re: dying in faith without receiving the promise.

    Also, you quote a whole big context of John 6, and somehow manage to ignore the clear language of predestination! “All that the Father gives me will come to me”, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Even if you choose to believe that all are drawn by the Father to Jesus, you must admit that not all are given by the Father to Jesus. Because if all were given, then all would come, and that’s Universalism. Given = Predestined. Many are called (drawn), but few are chosen (given). Not all are saved = not all come = not all are given by the Father to the Son = not all are predestined to salvation by the Father = not all are chosen to respond, even though many are called. Do you allow for an in-between category of people who are drawn, but not given, but somehow under their own power they come anyways? Also, I’m still waiting for your feedback on the four categories in comment #2 up yonder.

    These verses speak of the predestination of being chosen in HIM. We are the elect in Christ; therefore the predestined part of the scripture is speaking of us being adopted through Christ’s death.

    I don’t even understand those sentences

    It was the death, resurrection, and redemption in Jesus Christ that was predestined according to the purpose of God, not that Tony or Echo would be the one’s saved or not.

    “He predestined us for adoption”. You are misreading the plain text about as bad as George Bryson, who claims this adoption is only talking about inheritance/glorification (as if this changes the fact that we were chosen before the foundations of the world). See here, unfortunately, the podcast has expired for free.

    it doesn’t say or imply that God created anyone specifically to be destroyed, that is a stretch you have to admit that, come on!

    I will admit that it is possible to conceive that this verse, in isolation, allows for either the animals or the animals and the people to have been created specifically to be destroyed. But Rom 9 demonstrates that Pharaoh was created specifically to be destroyed, to God’s glory. Right after the part I quoted above, see v22 “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction”. That is unquestionable you have to admit that, come on!

  21. It is becoming obvious that you Calvinsts are reading the entire Bible through Calvin’s spectacles (indeed, if you guys had your way these improperly interpreted Calvinistic verses will be turning up everywhere) and that in this

    These verses speak of the predestination of being chosen in HIM. We are the elect in Christ; therefore the predestined part of the scripture is speaking of us being adopted through Christ’s death. It was the death, resurrection, and redemption in Jesus Christ that was predestined according to the purpose of God, not that Tony or Echo would be the one’s saved or not.

    Tony is showing us the unfiltered, pure, plain and obvious meaning of the text to which he refers.

  22. Who’s my daddy!

  23. Rube,

    Re: 18

    No, free will isn’t an illusion. Autonomy is the illusion. We don’t have sovereignty, we have dependent free will.

    Dual agency!

    “You meant it for evil, God meant it for good.”

    E

  24. Seriously Tony, I want to point out to you that one of the purposes of doctrine is so that we can respond to the God that actually is there and not a god of our own autonomous construction. In that light, then, the god you are creating is NOT the one that is there, and if I had to pick between believing in your god and being an atheist, I would definitely pick the latter. Your contingent god doesn’t exist.

  25. Tony,

    Re: 19

    You said:
    “The direct answer would be John 12:32
    Jesus said “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” Since we agree that the Holy Spirit of God is the one who draws us, Jesus said, if I be lifted up, (in the context speaking of His crucifixion), he promises to draw ALL men to Himself! See you and I agree that we can only come to the father if the Holy Spirit draws us, the difference is you say only a select few are drawn by the Holy Spirit, and I say along with Jesus that ALL men are drawn by the Holy Spirit based on His word, His promise; not mine!”

    – Echo:
    So then all men will be saved? No one will go to hell? Is that what he’s saying?

    You said:
    “I have contended that Jesus compared himself to the manna or bread from heaven, and that God sent this bread and it was to be collected by Israel. It was then the people’s obligation to go get the manna for the day. Later in John 6 Jesus says whoever believes and eats His flesh will have eternal life! I also believe that we are drawn by the Holy Spirit, but the drawing doesn’t mean or imply it was predetermined in and of itself. The scriptures teach that He draws ALL men, and an all-powerful God certainly can draw ALL men to himself. Jesus said, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself!”

    – Echo:
    So again, all men will be saved? Or perhaps Jesus’ drawing us is useless unless we consent to be drawn? He is “all-powerful”, then why isn’t his drawing effectual? Why doesn’t it bring anything about?

    You said:
    “These verses speak of the predestination of being chosen in HIM. We are the elect in Christ; therefore the predestined part of the scripture is speaking of us being adopted through Christ’s death. It was the death, resurrection, and redemption in Jesus Christ that was predestined according to the purpose of God, not that Tony or Echo would be the one’s saved or not.”

    – Echo:
    Finally an answer! This is nice, neat work here Tony, bravo! And actually, you should be given credit for John 12:32 as well. But anyway, the passage in Eph 1 says that he chose “us”, he predestined “us”. Indeed, Christ too was predestined, but we ourselves have been predestined to be saved – in him. This refers to our being united to him in his death and resurrection, as you said, but this is what has been predestined. We have been predestined to be “in him”. We were chosen before the foundation of the earth was laid. Verse 3 says:

    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,

    It is WE who are blessed. How are we blessed? By being predestined.

    You said:
    “you say they are born to be destroyed, except this is a metaphor in the scriptures, it is saying that the False Teachers are LIKE these irrational animals that were born to be destroyed, it doesn’t say or imply that God created anyone specifically to be destroyed, that is a stretch you have to admit that, come on! This scripture doesn’t prove your argument.”

    – Echo:
    You are really stepping it up a notch this post. I commend you. I think you might just be right in saying that it is the irrational animals who were “born to be…” etc. However, Peter is saying that these PEOPLE are LIKE these animals, and then goes on to say that they will be destroyed. In what WAY are they like these animals? In that they were born to be destroyed. And what is the result? That they WILL be destroyed. Paul confirms this when speaking of Pharoah, saying that God said to him, “For this reason I have raised you up…” etc. Why did God raise Pharoah up in the first place? To show his power through Pharoah, because Pharoah would be hardened by God and would at the same time harden his own heart, and thus he would refuse to give up the Israelites, and thus God would show his power by bringing the plagues on Egypt, ultimately ending with the destruction of Pharoah and his army in the Red Sea. That was Pharoah’s purpose in life, to do exactly what he did so that God could respond in exactly the way he did.

    E is for Enough for now

  26. Rube,

    Re: 20

    Obviously I was reading 19 and responding to it as I went through. Sorry for echo-ing you!

    E

  27. Bruce,

    Re: 21

    You’re quite right. Finding the concept of man’s predestination in a verse that says that man is predestined is utter folly. Of course we need gymnastics to show us this.

    In fact, a far more sound way to interpret Scripture is to take verses one at a time out of context, and interpret them in light of our reason. Whatever seems to make sense to us according to reason and even experience, this is what the text should mean. We should not interpret Scripture with Scripture.

    Ugh! It’s so clear!

    E

    PS Do something about your son and this free will business, will you?

  28. Bruce,

    Re: 24

    Don’t be too hard on him. He’s probably confused because he didn’t want to read my entire post. There’s a lot of that going around. There seem to be many on this board that want to read half of someone’s post and then comment on it, misconstruing it entirely. Since my posts are nowhere near as long as the Bible…well, I think the implication is clear. We can’t be too hard on those who want to read half of things. They are, after all, busy people.

    You know who you are.

    E

  29. Tony,

    Re: 19

    You said:
    “I don’t deny any of the verses you quote as being the word of God; nor did I deny their truth; it’s your reconciliation that hits me wrong, maybe because I’m programmed that way, who knows!”

    – Echo:
    I read this too fast last time and missed this and so didn’t comment on it. You bring up an interesting point. Most of us see what we’re looking for.

    Look, I understand that probably all your life you have been trained to see things the way you are seeing them. I can totally understand that. I can appreciate that. I grew up Pentecostal. Now I go to a reformed church. Trust me, the transition was NOT at all easy.

    One thing in my post that you didn’t respond to was the argument that all of this belief in God’s absolute sovereignty and providence makes God MORE GLORIOUS. Furthermore, I argued that it leads us to desire to love him all the more, since what he has done for us is greater, and who he is, is greater. And if we love him all the more, then we will love our neighbor all the more who is made in his image. Furthermore, this teaching leads (hopefully) to greater humility on our part, because we know there is nothing about us that brings us to salvation.

    Now, you might say that I am not a very good example of humility. You would probably be quite correct. All I can say in response is: you should have seen me before. I grew up Pentecostal but was downright vicious to my fellow man. I had hardly a drop of humility to spare for anyone.

    But this reformed theology AFFECTED me deeply. This is why I chose to go to seminary. This is why I care to spend hours discussing these things with you. Tony, I don’t care if I’M proven right. I want YOU to be better served by believing more of the truth! I know how much happier you will be, and how much more fulfilling life will be when you recognize God for the amazing God that he is, and when you recognize the glory of the salvation God has given to us. What God has done for us is astonishing.

    To realize that these things are true leads to a firmer faith and greater motivation to good works. Is it possible that I’m simply mistaken on this point? Perhaps it is possible that greater faith and works can spring from error? What do you think?

    E

  30. Echo,

    Chatting with you guys has definitely made me look at our Lord as more glorious and wonderful than ever before, regardless of my stance on pre-destination.

    No matter what Bruce wants to say to me and my false god, I think this is really the only thing that we cross wires on, and regardless of what many may think, it’s not because I want to keep some of the glory for myself. I give it all to Him and God knows this!

    I think it’s funny to hear someone like Bruce who doesn’t know me, my life, my heart, my relationship with God, but he can judge me so gloriously. Maybe that is what he is called to do, judge others with such insight!

    I’m passed caring what Bruce and other Calvinists think of me and other followers of Christ who don’t see everything the way they do; I know God, He knows me; thais is the point of the gospel, and that is what matters in heaven!

    Also regarding my post and your answers. All you said was, “so all men will be saved?”. But this is not enough. I was simply pointing out that Jesus himself said when He is crucified, He will draw all peoples to himself!

    Simple clear scripture in response to you saying that only the people drawn by the Holy Spirit can come to the father (stating that those drawn by the Holy Spirit are the Elect of God, right ?)

    If only the people drawn by the Holy Spirit can come to the father, then how do you reconcile the words of JEsus! Surely not by saying or mocking that all men are not going to be saved! I understand your point here, but the answers you and Rube both gave to this and the manna and bread of life comparison is simply to dismiss it, not reconcile it.

    Peace,
    Tony

  31. Tony,

    Re: 30

    I didn’t mock anything, least of all the Scriptures.

    The question I’m trying to put to you is this: by answering my question with that particular Scripture, and the way you are using it, your claim is that all (each and every individual) human being is drawn to God by the Holy Spirit.

    You yourself know for a FACT that that’s the wrong way to interpret that verse. There are PLENTY of people who have lived and died on this earth since Jesus ascended into heaven who never heard even one word about Jesus or God. Not one word. There were plenty of pagans throughout the globe even to this very day who have never even heard the name of Jesus. At LEAST you have to admit that this is true for everyone living in the Western hemisphere up to about the time of the reformation.

    So since your use of this passage demands that we interpret it as “every single individual human being” in order for it to correct what I have said, my answer to you is that you are interpreting the passage incorrectly. You are taking too simplistic a view of the phrase “all men”. It doesn’t mean every single individual human being. If it DOES mean every single individual human being, then Jesus was simply WRONG. Surely you aren’t claiming that Jesus was wrong. Don’t forget that Jesus also said:

    Mat 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

    Here it says “many are called”, not every single individual human being. But further, it says that “few are chosen”. What does that mean?

    It means that there is a very large category: those to whom the message of the gospel goes; those who are called, drawn. Then there is a smaller category: those who are chosen.

    Jesus’ point in John 6:44 is not to say that all those who are drawn will be saved. That’s not the point. The point is, apart from the initiation of God, there is no coming to faith. YOU cannot generate your own faith. GOD must first draw you, call you, and ultimately choose you. Otherwise, you cannot be a member of the “few” who are “chosen”.

    You are implying that every single human being who has ever lived since the time of Jesus death have been drawn to God. Now just ask yourself if that’s true. Is it true? You know that isn’t true. So either the Bible is wrong, or there’s another way to interpret the passage.

    For one thing, “all” doesn’t always mean “every single individual”. But it is of course more complicated than that, even though once you have thought about it, it’s common sense. All John 12:32 is saying is that the world is reconciled to God in only one way: Jesus Christ. By what he did, he prepared a way for the whole world to be saved. There is no other way of salvation. He’s no longer only drawing the Jews, but also the Gentiles. “People from every tribe, tongue and nation.”

    Here’s another example of the same kind of thing:

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

    Well, first we have to discuss what propitiation means. It means that Jesus bore the wrath of God for us.

    Main Entry: pro·pi·ti·a·tion
    Pronunciation: prO-“pi-shE-‘A-sh&n
    Function: noun
    1 : the act of propitiating
    2 : something that propitiates; specifically : an atoning sacrifice

    Main Entry: pro·pi·ti·ate
    Pronunciation: prO-‘pi-shE-“At
    Function: transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s): -at·ed; -at·ing
    Etymology: Latin propitiatus, past participle of propitiare, from propitius propitious
    : to gain or regain the favor or goodwill of : APPEASE, CONCILIATE
    synonym see PACIFY

    Ok? So the point here is that Jesus is the one who appeases God’s wrath due for our sin. He bears the wrath of God. We sinned, that makes God angry, but Jesus satisfies his just anger/wrath. A price must be paid for sin. If Jesus is the propitation, then God is no longer full of wrath. His wrath has been poured out. It’s like when you get really mad at someone, you yell at them or punish them somehow, and then you forgive them and it’s over. Or like when a criminal is sentenced to 10 years in jail – once they have served their 10 years, their punishment is over. They cannot go to jail again. In the same way, Jesus takes God’s wrath unto himself for us. But the verse says that it’s not just for us, but for the whole world.

    Ok, that’s cool. Jesus paid the price for sin for the whole world. Since “whole world” must mean every individual human being, then Jesus paid the price for the sins of every individual human being. What great news! No one’s going to go to hell! I mean, after all, once you’ve gone to jail and served your time, that’s it, you’re done. You can’t go to jail again. God cannot (because he will not) punish sin twice. That would be unjust. The price has been paid in Jesus Christ for the sins of the whole world. So, no one will go to hell. All men will be saved.

    Surely you can understand that insisting that phrases like “all men” and “whole world” MUST mean “every individual human being” inevitably leads to universalism. Surely you can have a little sympathy for universalists. They are at least interpreting these types of verses in the same way. Of course, they overlook this:

    1Jo 5:18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.
    1Jo 5:19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.
    1Jo 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

    Whoops! Here believers are contrasted with the “whole world” as if they are not part of the “whole world”. What – are believers not in the world somehow? Indeed, we are not OF the world, but aren’t we still IN it? I mean, we do live in the world. If the Bible says “whole world”, and it means every single individual human being, then surely Christians are part of “whole world”. But here we are clearly not. Here the contrast is Christians who believe the truth on the one hand, and the “whole world” which lies by the power of Satan on the other hand. Here, CLEARLY “whole world” does not mean every single human being. This is obvious.

    Now it’s not really hard to understand. Look at this:

    Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
    Rom 10:18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”

    Paul is claiming that in HIS DAY – which would be, of course, the first century – the Word of Christ has gone out to all the earth. Now, if we think this means the entire planet, we’d have to say that Paul was simply wrong. After all, there was the Western Hemisphere where American Indians were running around worshiping the Great Spirit and lots of other pagan deities. But not only them, but the Incans, the Mayans, the Aztecs, etc. NONE of them had heard about Jesus Christ at that point. And what about the Chinese and the Japanese? Or the Indonesians or indigenous Australians? There were PLENTY of people who had not yet heard of Christ. In fact, there are still people groups in Africa and South America, who live in jungles and have had no contact with the outside world, much less a missionary.

    So, is Paul wrong? No. When he says “all the earth” and “ends of the world”, he is speaking pretty much about the Roman Empire. From India on one hand, to Spain on the other. To those in the ancient world, this was the whole earth. But of course, they knew that there were unexplored places remaining – and certainly GOD knew that there was more to the earth than the Romans supposed.

    The point is that words like “all” and “every” and “whole” were not used in the ancient world with the same precision that we use it with today. However, we still say things like “everyone knows that…” even though we don’t actually mean that every single person on earth knows it. For example, we might say that everyone knows that Bill Clinton is a liar and adulterer. But do we really mean every person on earth? We might also say that the entire planet or the whole world is connected to the internet. But do we mean that there isn’t someone somewhere who doesn’t have a computer? Because there are plenty of people on earth who don’t have a computer. I don’t imagine even half the world has one yet. There are BILLIONS of people, then, who don’t have a computer. I mean, how many people are there in Africa, and how many of them have a computer? 5%? 10%? Or China, with its 1.5 Billion people. How many of them have a computer? 15%? Or India? 20%? Or Russia, or Indonesia? Does this mean that we’re LYING when we say that the whole world is connected to the internet? No – there are even people in Iran who are getting online. There are some people everywhere who are getting online. There are SOME in Africa, SOME in India, SOME in China, etc. Thus we say the whole world is online, and we’re making a true statement.

    Yet for some reason, when we interpret the Scriptures, we forget this common sense. This is understandable. We all do it. It’s because sometimes we’re just trying too hard. We have notions that the Bible is perfect, inerrant, divine; so it CAN’T be wrong. This pushes us to forget that while the Bible is SURELY all of these things, it is also written by human beings TO human beings. It utilizes ordinary language. It’s not mathematically precise all the time. It’s not a Calculus textbook or an engineering technical document. It’s a book written by people to people about God and our relationship to him. God inspired it, so we know it is the ONLY standard of truth and righteousness. It is inspired, inerrant, perfect, divine. But it is not ONLY divine. It is human. It is spoken to us at our level in our language.

    If we can say that the whole world is connected to the internet without every single human being being connected to the internet, the Bible can make the same kind of statements. All we mean is that there is more or less no place on earth where the internet has not extended its reach. (Even though there are some natives in some jungles that have not been reached.) In the same way, Paul is saying that the gospel has more or less gone out to everywhere on earth – as far as he knew. He didn’t mean that there wasn’t anyone on earth who hadn’t heard yet. He meant that the gospel has gone out to the world. It was no longer restricted to Israel. Same with the propitiation business. Jesus is not just OUR only hope, but for the whole world, there is no other hope BUT HIM.

    It is not just one people group who can be saved, but the whole world can now be saved through Christ. It’s no longer the Jews who are God’s people, but the doors of salvation have been opened wide to the whole world. Everyone can now come in.

    But, despite all this great news, which is truly great and very exciting, there remains the still small voice of God who says, “many are called, but few chosen.” God is reminding us that he gets all the glory.

    Now, you have complained that you are not trying to keep some of the glory for yourself. Well, I’m glad you set that as a goal, but truly, every single time you sin, you are sinning BY trying to rob God of his glory. The fundamental thing about sin is that it is self worship rather than God worship. It says that I belong on the throne of the universe, rather than God. It is willful rebellion against God’s rule and reign. If we didn’t want to steal any of God’s glory at all and wanted to give it ALL to him and save none of it for ourselves, then we would never sin.

    So, just like me, you have a sinful nature that tends to want to rob God of his glory. Don’t be alarmed at this; it’s just what sin really is. Consider Adam in the garden of Eden. God said don’t eat of this tree. Adam responded (by his actions) by saying that God essentially has no right to tell me what to do. If Adam thought that God did have that right, he would have obeyed. But he didn’t obey, so he obviously must have thought that God didn’t have the right to give him commands. Perhaps he thought that it was unjust that God should give him commands. Whatever the case may be, every time we sin, we are saying to God that he has no right to give us commands. He must not have that right in our minds if we disobey him. Sure, I can ask you, “Does God have the right to give you commands?” And you’ll say that he does. But actions speak louder than words, don’t they? And when we sin, we are not by our words confessing Jesus as Lord. We are confessing ourselves as lord by our actions.

    So by our sinful nature, we already tend to try to rob God of his glory. God has no right to give me commands, only I have that right. Are you sure you give God ALL the glory? I don’t. I’ll be the first to admit it. I try to rob him of his glory all the time. This is why worshiping God is so important. When we worship God, we confess that he IS worthy of obedience because he DOES belong on the throne of the universe, and we ARE subservient to him, despite what our actions say. It is important that we acknowledge that because it’s true and because we spend all week denying it with out sinful actions.

    Everything we do is tainted with sin, because we are never FULLY obedient. If we were FULLY obedient, we wouldn’t sin. Now, some people say that it’s possible to go for a few minutes without sinning. And if you can go a few minutes, maybe you can go an hour. And if an hour, perhaps a day?

    But such lines of thought misunderstand that sin is a matter of the heart, and actions only reflect what’s in the heart. The fact that we still commit acts of sin proves that our heart is sinful. If our heart were not sinful, we would not sin because we wouldn’t want to. But our hearts are still sinful, thus we still sin, even if only occasionally. But if our hearts are still sinful, then we have not been able to eradicate sin altogether in our hearts. If that’s true, then you can bet that no matter how good and pure you think you might be, all your actions, everything you do is partially tainted with sin, because your heart is tainted with sin. We are not always aware of it. Nor do we always understand it. As God continues to sanctify us, we usually become more and more disappointed in ourselves at just how sinful we are. Consider your own life; didn’t you once upon a time do things without thinking that you now perceive to be sinful and try to avoid them? I mean, when you were younger, perhaps you did certain things in ignorance, not realizing that they were sinful. But now that you are older and wiser, you avoid those things because you know it’s wrong. It’s just like a child; we need to be trained. And in this life, the training never stops, because there’s always more to learn.

    When we sin, even if we don’t know we’re sinning, we’re still sinning. However, the fact that we do it in ignorance is taken into account by God, whose mercy endures forever. As Paul says:

    Rom 2:15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
    Rom 2:16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    So we may even be excused for sinful behavior because it was not done consciously. But being excused for sinful behavior is not the same as saying that it’s not sin. It’s still sin. You might excuse a baby for screaming at the top of his lungs because he doesn’t know any better. That doesn’t mean the baby is practicing good manners. It’s still rude to scream, and nothing will change that. But we excuse the baby because he doesn’t know any better. But the behavior is still rude and inconsiderate. It’s a me first attitude that most of us find offensive. I’m sure if you’re hungry, you don’t scream at your wife. If you do, you might consider whether such behavior is childish.

    But anyway, the point is, we are all sinful, and so everything we do is tainted with sin. However, just because everything we do is tainted with sin, that doesn’t mean that God will judge us harshly. No, he’ll judge us fairly, just like a father takes pity on his crying baby and tries to figure out how to comfort him by checking the diaper, seeing if he’ll take food or just holding him and stroking his back and reassuring him that everything’s ok.

    But that God is kind to us doesn’t make our actions not sinful. They are still sinful, though excusable.

    So now, let’s once again come at this question. Is it possible that in your interpretation of the Bible, you are trying to rob God of his glory?

    That’s like asking if sin might be having an affect on how you interpret the Bible.

    It’s GUARANTEED.

    I don’t have to be able to look on your heart and become your judge in order to make this statement. This is true of EVERYONE, and the Bible makes it clear, and common sense makes it clear, as I think I’ve gone to great lengths here to demonstrate. We are GUARANTEED to continue to sin as long as we remain in this world. Sanctification is a process that doesn’t end in this life. When we die, we are made perfect. When Jesus comes back and we receive our resurrected bodies, then we will be unable to sin. In the meantime, our hearts remain sinful, so our actions remain sinful.

    We cannot look at the Bible without looking at it sinfully. Some look at the Bible with less sin than others, because they have less sinful hearts because they are more sanctified. Certainly a Christian of 20 or 30 years is more able to understand the Bible than a recent convert.

    Again, as I’ve said before, the reason isn’t the intellectual difficulty of the Bible, but the fact that we are slow of heart to believe it.

    Recall the Emmaus road episode:

    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.

    Jesus rebukes the disciples not for being dumb. He doesn’t say, well, that’s alright. The Old Testament does make it very clear what was supposed to happen to me, and you didn’t understand that, but that’s because the language is too hard for your feeble minds to understand. Here, let me help you.

    No, he rebukes them for being essentially unwilling to accept what the Bible said. They were slow of heart to believe it. They didn’t want to believe it. They were SINFUL! The reason why they didn’t understand from Scripture that Jesus’ death was actually a good thing, was because they were sinful and therefore refused to believe it!

    But do you think they were actually aware of that? No, they were deceived. They were deceived into thinking that the Messiah was simply another David who would kick out the Romans and lead them to victory here on earth. Little did they know that Jesus Christ would conquer not the Romans, but Death itself! Jesus Christ appeared to them to be weak, but in actuality, he was the most victorious hero there ever was! But they robbed him of his glory. When they should have understood that he was a much greater King than David, they didn’t. The Son of God, King of the Universe which he created, disappointed the disciples because he didn’t defeat the Romans, but rather was crucified. They were offended at his weakness, which is why they all abandoned him and then spent the weekend feeling sorry for themselves and hiding from the Romans and the Jews. “Oh,” they said, “he failed to defeat the Romans, we hoped for nothing.” How they robbed him of his true glory! His true glory shows that the Romans were NOTHING! Jesus had a bigger fish to fry, namely Death itself! If the disciples had only known this, they wouldn’t have concerned themselves with the Romans either, but would have been praising Jesus for his marvelous obedience to his Father and his love for us that he would be obedient even unto death on a cross. But instead of recognizing that they had been eyewitnesses to the single greatest act of love that ever did or even COULD take place – they sat around feeling sorry for themselves. They were disappointed in their Christ, because they thought he had been defeated.

    They robbed him of his glory. And when Jesus confronts this, he confronts it truly, telling them that the problem is their wicked heart that seeks to rob God of his glory.

    Ok, so now we’ve demonstrated that everyone is sinful and tainted with sin. We have further demonstrated that even the apostles misinterpreted the Scriptures because of their sin and because of their desire to rob God of his glory.

    I freely admit that I am no better than the apostles, and that if I misinterpret the Bible, it is because of my wicked sinful desire to rob God of his glory. We all do it.

    So now, I would ask you to search your own heart. Do you think it might be possible that you have misunderstood something because of a desire to rob God of his glory? It’s not only possible, but GUARANTEED that we will do this to some extent when we read the Bible. It’s guaranteed.

    Do you think maybe that insisting that we choose God rather than God choosing us makes us just a little bit praisworthy? I mean, if you were SMART enough to choose to have faith, shouldn’t you be commended? Isn’t there something different about you that pagans lack? Aren’t you making a wiser choice than a pagan? Shouldn’t you be commended for your wisdom?

    But if instead, it is all God’s doing, then it is God that is to be commended, not you. You are not smarter than pagans. You are not wiser than pagans. You have not been the better man. And we can say this for sure because you did not choose to have faith. Faith came to YOU, not the other way around. You didn’t one day make up your mind to believe. Rather, one day, you realized that you DID believe, and you couldn’t help but respond.

    I’ll tell you what. If what we have said is true, then it is DEFINITELY true that your interpretation robs God of his proper glory. Absolutely. There’s no denying that.

    But we might not be right, right?

    So, ok, if we’re wrong, how do we rob God of any glory? How has sin clouded our judgment? Our motive is clearly to give all the glory to God. Your response is simply to deny that you are robbing God of his glory because you don’t think that that’s what you’re doing, and you think it’s unfair of us to say that that’s what you’re doing.

    But if you want to prove your point, you aren’t exactly going about it in a way that’s going to convince anyone. You are responding in a way that…well, it only serves as further evidence against you, I’m afraid.

    But you know, that really doesn’t make you any different from me or Bruce or Rube. We’re all the same way. We all sinfully deny the clear, plain truths of Scripture because of sin. We all deny the truths of Scripture because of a sinful desire to rob God of his glory.

    I have an idea for you Tony. Rube says that free will is an illusion. I have disagreed with this vehemently as have you. Free will is not an illusion. The illusion is autonomy. Anyway, I think a good thing for you would be to think about how Rube’s view might be reflecting a sinful desire to rob God of his glory.

    Because here’s something that is true. If we believe something about God, theology, etc, and it is wrong, then it’s because we have misinterpreted the Bible. If we have misinterpreted the Bible, it is because sin has clouded our judgment. If sin has clouded our judgment, then it is because of our desire to rob God of his glory. If the Bible is a book about God, and we misinterpret it out of a desire to rob God of his glory – well, this only makes perfect sense. After all, the Bible says, essentially, “This is how glorious God is.” We typically respond with, “Yes, well, I don’t think he’s quite THAT glorious. He’s only *this* glorious.” And thus we misunderstand the Bible.

    This is HOW we misunderstand the Bible. Doesn’t that make sense? Isn’t that reasonable? So if we misunderstand it, it’s because we are slow of heart to believe it. In other words, we misunderstand it because we simply deny it. The Bible says, perhaps, that God is 100-fold glorious. We say, yeah, that’s ok, but I think he’s really only 87-fold glorious. The Bible says God is GREAT, we say he’s pretty good. The Bible says that God is majestic, and we say that he’s got good manners. The Bible says his mercy endures forever, we say that he is somewhat merciful and it lasts a little while, usually about a week. The Bible says that salvation is by grace through faith, we say that it’s by grace through faith and a couple of works. The Bible says that these words are trustworthy and true, we say that these words are a somewhat valid opinion. You get the idea?

    This is what happens. Every error in doctrine is the result of sin. Every single one. And every sin is the result of a desire to rob God of his glory.

    You are not exempt, nor am I.

    But we must try to pursue giving God his due glory. We must try to cut off as much sin as possible. Part of that means continually refining what we believe the Bible says. We should assume that we always have a lot to learn about the Scriptures. We should constantly refine our ideas. We should be wary and cautious of our own ideas, KNOWING that they are tainted with sin.

    You’ll perhaps notice that I don’t ever give a short and sweet answer. That’s because I don’t want to make assertions, I want to make arguments. I don’t want to say simply that “I believe such and such.” I want to say that “I believe such and such for these reasons, and here’s what the Bible says, and oh by the way, there’s also this, this and that.” I want to put not just what I believe out there, but why I believe it. I want to demonstrate that not only is my reasoning sound, but that it’s derived – AT EVERY POINT – from Scripture. That’s my goal.

    Now why is that my goal? Because, while it makes for longer posts, it gives you, the reader, the chance to interact not just with a stupid 30 second sound bite like the TV News, but you can interact with the entire stream of thought on the matter. You can investigate why I think the way I do, and you can hold it up to Scripture and see for yourself if it measures up. It is full disclosure, and believe it or not, it makes it much, much easier for you to understand what I’m saying, and that makes it much easier for you to argue against it. There is more material there, in other words, for you to object to. I have hidden nothing from you, so that my thoughts can be fully exposed, so you can see for yourself how they have been shaped, and can judge for yourself.

    I know some people really resent that. They say that my posts are too long, and boy am I arrogant. But I just consider it full disclosure. I try not to skip steps. I know that if I skip steps, communication will not take place. I figure that the ones who think my posts are too long would probably rather that I do skip steps. This assures me that they aren’t really interested in communicating.

    You, Tony, are obviously interested in communicating, along with a number of the rest of us here. You are interested in examing the entire thought process, and you are interested in interacting with the whole package. So I commend this, and I would encourage you only to keep it up with great vigor and patience, because that’s how communication takes place. It’s work.

    So I’m sorry for being verbose. I wish that more people here would interpret my verbosity more charitably, but they lack the patience. I should probably feel more compelled to accomadate their weakness and write shorter posts. But then, of course, those who ARE interested in communication will miss out on what they would have been willing to investigate.

    Communication is part detective work. It’s like solving a crime. You have the evidence perhaps, but only after you have gathered it. Once you have gathered it, you have to interpret it, and draw the right conclusions. Then you have to present this all in court and pronounce judgment. Communication is complicated. I feel bad when people try to oversimplify it, because they are missing out on the richness of the experience.

    By the way, the Bible is God communicating to us. So now my understanding of communication finds a new application. See?

    E

  32. To those who think my posts are too long:

    I addressed you in my previous post in the last 7 paragraphs or so.

    E

  33. the answers you and Rube both gave to this and the manna and bread of life comparison is simply to dismiss it, not reconcile it.

    Tony, Tony, Tony. I already showed you that your manna analogy falls apart when you actually look at the words of Jesus: Manna has nothing to do with atonement, it has to do only with earthly provision, thus the Israelites ate the manna and still died. The point of Jesus comparing himself to manna is that he is greater than manna. More specifically, if you want to find the human response of gathering manna in Jesus’ words, they’re just not there. Jesus did not draw a distinction between Israelites that responded to manna positively and lived, vs. Israelites that rejected manna and died. They all ate the manna, and they all died.

    As for reconciling Jesus’ words, I did quite a lot of reconciling, that you seem to have ignored. I’ll quote the Rosetta stone again for you, you can write it on a 3×5 card, and go and read all of your prooftexts again:

    “All that the Father gives me will come to me”, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Even if you choose to believe that all are drawn by the Father to Jesus, you must admit that not all are given by the Father to Jesus. Because if all were given, then all would come, and that’s Universalism. Given = Predestined. Many are called (drawn), but few are chosen (given). Not all are saved = not all come = not all are given by the Father to the Son = not all are predestined to salvation by the Father = not all are chosen to respond, even though many are called.

    This is pretty funny:

    Simple clear scripture…

    considering how you try to evade predestination of the elect in Eph 1, and predestination of the damned in Rom 9.

  34. …and the crowd is on thier feet here at Ruberad’s blog, as Rube delivers a stunning blow to his opponent. Just listen to ’em cheer! In fact, I could be wrong, but I think I hear some of them singing. I can’t make out the words, can you? Something about the tyrrany of irrationalism coming to an end…

    Meanwhile, some years from now, at bedtime, a story is told:

    Once upon a time, dear children, there was a little girl named Church. She was a lovely little girl, and very sweet. Her mother’s name was Wisdom. The little girl loved her mother very much, and always listened to what she had to say.

    But one day, when the little girl was outside playing, the dirty little boy next door hopped their backyard fence to come make fun of Church. His name was World. So World taunted Church, saying, “Church, Church, such a scared little girl. Church, Church, afraid to give the woods a whirl.” World was, of course, dear children, talking about the forbidden woods, called Temptation. Now little Church knew better than to go play in Temptation, because her mother, Wisdom, had told her not to, and Church always obeyed Wisdom. But today was a little different. For some reason, today Church could bear World’s taunts no longer, and decided to shut him up. She had to show him that she wasn’t afraid of him. After all, he’s just the dirty little boy next door. Why should she be afraid of something that he isn’t? So Church replied, “I’ll show you World, you dirty boy. I’ll show you World, Temptation’s a toy.”

    So Church picked herself up, leaving her pretty little dolls lying about in the well manicured grass. She picked herself up in her pretty little dress. And marched, she did, to that old dark wood, and marched right in, while World simply stood. Mouth agape and totally shocked, World couldn’t believe it, he’d been defrocked! So he turned and went home, for his fun was now over. Church was now just like him, she’d brought herself lower. So World went home, he didn’t care, what fate might befall good, pure Church in there.

    Well what happened next, you surely are asking, she went into the wood, in its darkness was basking. For the first few steps she was not alarmed, in fact I think she found it quite charmed. But as she marched on and the forest grew thicker, her mind became clouded, and it started to whisper. “Come in further, dear sweet little child, come into the darkness, it’s really quite mild.” On and on she tramped and she traipsed, the brush was quite thick, right up to her waist. Well after a while, she came to a clearing, and toward it she walked, though night was now nearing. To her great surprise, her surprise indeed, sat a princely man upon a black steed. “Greetings dear child,” he said with a grin, “I’m Irrationality, won’t you come in?” As these words he did speak, a funny thing happened, a cottage appeared, Church’s knee she was slappin’. But he looked so impressive, upon that black steed, so impressive he was, he didn’t have to plead.

    So into the house, inside they went, when to Church’s delight, the sights were not spent. If a house that appears right out of thin air, were a strange sight to see, you’d not believe what was in there. For inside this house were lots of sweet things, lots of pretty dolls, and other girly things.

    So Irrationality said to Church, “Dear girl, I’m so delighted you have come. Please sit with me, and we’ll talk a while.” “Thanks you very much, Sir,” said Church. “I’d love to talk with a man so obviously cultured as you.” For you see dear children, Irrationality had many beautiful things in his home, and it was quite obvious to Church that he was some sort of rich world traveller, what with his surprising assortment of beautiful dolls, and other girly, pretty things.

    Meanwhile Wisdom sought her daughter and came up short. “Where is my daughter – it’s dinner time!” Soon it began to get late, and Church’s Father came home from work. As he came in after a hard day, he called to his wife and daughter, “Wisdom! Church! I’m home!” Wisdom rushed into his arms and began to sob. Church’s Father said, “What’s wrong, Wisdom, what’s happened? Where’s Church?” “She’s gone,” she stammered, “I think into Temptation.” “The forest?” “Yes.” “How do you know?” “Earlier, I saw World hop the fence and come over and taunt Church. He was making fun of her because she was afraid of the woods. But then she got up and stormed off. I thought she was just walking away from him, but now I fear that she has gone off into the woods against my constant advice not to.” And Wisdom cried out about no one ever listening to her. “There, there, my bride, we’ll find her.”

    So Church’s Father put his coat back on, and left his home to go and seek Church. And though he was in a 3 piece suit and wearing wing tips, he subjected himself to the dirty, overgrown filth of the muddy forest of Temptation. In he went, and he didn’t look back. In he went, as a matter of fact.

    He moved through the forest so effortlessly that you might have thought that the trees were actually getting out of his way if you had seen it. And the most amazing thing of all was that he knew right where to go. It seemed like from the moment he stepped into that forest, he headed straight for that clearing where his Church was.

    When he got to the clearing, he saw the house, and could hear Church laughing with delight. It sounded like she was having the time of her life. And marching up to the door of the house, he walked right in without knocking.

    “Church,” he said, “what are you doing here?”
    “Having fun, daddy! Yay!” Church was delighting herself with her dolls.
    “You have displeased me, Church.”
    “But daddy, don’t you love dolls? Here daddy, have a doll and play with us.”
    Irrationality spoke now, “Yes, come and play with us. We’re having a delightful time. We are playing with whatever doll suits our fancy. You see, I can conjure up any doll I wish. I am not limited by money or any other kind of rule at all. Any wish Church can think of, I can conjure that doll. Watch. Think of a doll Church.”
    So Church thought of a red dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns, big claws and a tail that sweeps the very stars from the sky. Such a doll would be very beautiful to her, she thought, so she imagined it, and Irrationality conjured it, and compelled her to worship it. Which she did. “Oh daddy, isn’t it beautiful?”
    Church’s Father does not get angry easily. He is a very patient man. Nonetheless, he called her by name, “Church, it’s time to go home now. Your mother’s been worried sick, and she’s got dinner ready.”
    “But I don’t want to leave daddy! Come play with my dolls. Don’t you love them? If you love me daddy, you’d love my dolls.”
    Her Father sighed. “Church,” he said gently, “come, now.”
    “But DAD-dy!” She kept playing. Irrationality looked up at Church’s Father and smiled, and giggling annoyingly, bent back down to conjure more outlandish dolls.
    Church’s Father had finally been pushed far enough. He grabbed Irrationality by the throat and threw him across the room. It was then that Irrationality himself turned into the 7 headed dragon. And he raised himself up to his full height and bellowed, “You can’t have her, she’s mine. We’re to be married.”
    “Is this true, Church?”
    “Yes daddy, we’re married. I love Irrationality, and he loves me, because he always tells me what I want to hear.”
    And that, children, is when Church’s Father grew angry. From nowhere he produced a sword, and proceeded to battle Irrationality. Church was indifferent, playing with her dolls. Irrationality breathed fire and blasphemies at his opponent, but Church’s Father was quick, and dodged them all. Irrationality attacked with his claws, but to no effect. Church’s Father was tough, no doubting that. Finally, Irrationality moved in for the kill, seeking to bite at Church’s Father’s throat when he found that there was suddenly a sword piercing his belly. And her Father had managed to grab him by the throat again, and was squeezing the life right out of him. Irrationality tried to scream, but found he had no breath. He could not fight against such a powerful grip on his throat. He was blinded by the pain in his chest from breathing so heavily, and paralyzed by the pain in his belly from the sword. And with a loud crash, he fell to the ground – vanquished at last.
    Then Church’s Father picked up his daughter, who was now screaming and kicking and hitting him, and tucked her under his arm and turned to leave. As he did so, the dolls and the house disappeared, and so did Irrationality. Church was so upset she was beginning to lose her voice from all the screaming. She did NOT want to leave.
    And so her Father brought her back home. When they arrived, Wisdom was happy to see them, and hugged them both. Church was pretty stand-offish. She was mad at her mother for sending her Father to come get her, and mad at her Father for dragging her away from Irrationality, and dissatisfied with her old dolls, which now seemed so ordinary. But, little by little, as the days became months and years, she warmed up again to her mother, Wisdom, and consequently to her Father, and consequently to her mother. And as she matured, her dolls became more and more precious to her, because they had been given to her by her parents, and weren’t just something her imagination made up and Irrationality conjured. And so it was that the house was happy once again. And every night, Wisdom made them dinner. They ate and were satisfied.

    And like all good children, they that heard this bedtime story were pacified, and went to sleep. And their sleep was sweet, for they rested in the hands of their Father, and they didn’t have a care in the world, because they know that he cares for them, and that his ways are better than their ways. And so they rest from their labors; yes, they shall rest from their labors.

  35. Have you ever wondered how it is that the Judaizers who demanded people be circumcized were making people take on the yoke of the law? After all, the sign of circumcision was given to Abraham as a sign of the righteousness by faith which he had before he was circumcized, according to Romans 4. In other words, circumcision was not a sign of the Mosaic (law) covenant, but of the Abrahamic (promise/gospel) covenant. So how come taking the sign of the gospel covenant meant taking on the yoke of the law?

    If you ponder this question, it will begin to become puzzling. However, the answer is not difficult. The answer is that the Judaizers had transformed the sign of circumcision into something that God had never intended. Circumcision had never been intended by God to be a sign of the covenant of works, but of the covenant of grace. What is symbolized by circumcision is found in Gen 15, where GOD pledges himself to Abraham, not the other way around. It is GOD who “walks the aisle” between the pieces of the animals. It is GOD who pledges himself to Abraham. Circumcision meant that God would be faithful to the one circumcized, not the other way around.

    So then why does Paul say what he does? Because they had transformed circumcision from what it was supposed to be into something it was never intended to be. They turned it into a work which they declared to be preconditional for salvation. You can’t be saved, they said, until you have been circumcized. They transformed circumcision from a sign that God would be faithful to save you, a sign that says that your salvation is ultimately in God’s hands, to a sign that signified that your salvation is ultimately not in God’s hands, but yours. These Judaizers were saying that yes, God does 90% of your salvation, but you still must do that last 10%. It is not faith alone, it is faith AND works.

    So what’s the relevance here Echo?

    Arminians do the same thing. They turn our belief into a work that you must do in order to be saved. No longer is it faith alone, it’s faith AND this one work. This waters down the gospel from what it truly is. A watered down gospel is a false gospel. That’s it.

    But you say that these people are still preaching Christ, how could it be a false gospel!

    The Judaizers only added one, small, little work to the work of Christ by which we are saved. They didn’t change everything about the gospel, they only added this one thing. They only added circumcision.

    That was enough for Paul to declare it another gospel in the book of Galatians, and he said that those who teach another gospel, well:

    Gal 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
    Gal 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

    There are not degrees of falsehood. There is truth and falsehood. That’s it. There’s God’s righteousness and our filthy rags that we lovingly refer to as righteousness. God’s standard is an infinite perfect standard. God does not compromise even a little bit.

    The Arminian gospel is like the Judaizer’s gospel. It is the gospel with a little bit of something mixed in. It is either the pure, unadulterated gospel, or it is NOT the gospel.

    Faith plus works, even if it is only one work, is NOT faith alone.

    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.

    Gal 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

    I like the NIV’s translation of verse 21. It says that if justification were through the law, then Christ died for NOTHING.

    Our sinful tendency is to deny that we’re really all that bad and sinful. We don’t want to believe that. We don’t want to believe that we are COMPLETELY and ENTIRELY at God’s mercy. But if we’re ENTIRELY at God’s mercy, then our salvation is not in our hands but his. That’s what it MEANS to be entirely at his mercy!

    We don’t want to be entirely at his mercy. We want to believe our salvation is a little bit in our hands. We want to think that we have just a little bit of control over our salvation, because for some twisted, sinful reason, this gives us a measure of assurance that we will in fact be saved.

    But rest assured, your salvation is NOT in your hands, but in God’s. You are in fact ENTIRELY at his mercy. But what MORE does God have to do to convince you that he will deal mercifully with you? Rather than punish you for your sin, he sent his only Son to dwell among us and to live and die and live again for us!

    For those of you who have children, would you offer up their lives to save ANYONE??? I doubt that there has ever been a human being on this earth that would ever give up their children for anyone else. Maybe some wicked people throughout the ages have sacrificed their children for their OWN good, but NEVER for someone else’s.

    But God, because he wanted to be merciful to us, sent his Son to die for us. And it’s not like we were his best friend when he sent him either. It’s not like we were very close to God when he sent Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sins and to be our federal head and give us his righteousness. No – far from it. We were his ENEMIES!!!

    And still you are afraid to put ALL of your trust in God, but demand that you still should have a little bit of control over your own salvation, because you are unwilling to accept that God loves you more than you love yourself. You are unwilling to accept that God will show you more mercy than you would ever show yourself. You are unwilling to accept that he is worthy of your trust and submission. You are unwilling to accept that you are quite as bad and sinful as God says you are in his Word.

    Rom 3:10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
    Rom 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.
    Rom 3:12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
    Rom 3:13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
    Rom 3:14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
    Rom 3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    Rom 3:16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
    Rom 3:17 and the way of peace they have not known.”,
    Rom 3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    Guess what? That passage is about YOU!!!! You, O Christian, YOU have failed to be good, you have failed to fear God, you have been swift to shed innocent blood, you have not known the way of peace, YOUR mouth is full of curses and bitterness, YOU have not sought God or worshiped him as is his due, YOU have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worship the creation rather than the Creator! YOU have done these things.

    But here is another passage about you:

    Rom 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

    And this:

    Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

    Do you see that? It is GOD who has justified you, God who has declared to you that you are forgiven in Christ. It is GOD who has made a provision for your sin.

    And yet you dare to put a little bit of the responsibility in your hands. You dare to say that you are afraid to trust HIM completely. You dare to demand that just a little bit of your salvation is up to you. You dare to believe this, despite all the incredible evidence to the contrary?

    How dare you? How?

    How can you believe that there is some good in you that is capable of embracing God? This denies that you are really as sinful as the Bible says you are. For sin is to oppose God to his face. But you claim that you don’t REALLY oppose God to his face. You claim that you can recognize the truth of God apart from his regeneration, apart from him working in your heart.

    This is arrogance before God, and merely more opposition before his face.

    And this is not some small, minor error that doesn’t matter much. You say, why can’t we all just get along and accept our differences? Well, you know what? You can believe that infants shouldn’t be baptized if you like, and while this is sinful, wicked error, it’s not the end of the world. There is room in the true church to believe many errors. Who among us is free from error? Not me. I would never claim such a thing for myself or anyone else but Jesus Christ.

    But this Arminian error, this dream is not some small thing. It’s ANOTHER GOSPEL. It’s a FALSE GOSPEL because it’s not THE gospel. While all errors are intertwined with the gospel, you can still believe the one true gospel and inconsistently believe things like believer only baptism. While believer only baptism is an error, it is not by itself a false gospel.

    The Arminian gospel, on the other hand, is a false gospel. It is a lie. It is another gospel and is to be condemned. Protestants who believe in the Arminian gospel are not really Protestants. The gospel of faith PLUS works is what Protestants traditionally were protesting AGAINST! That’s the whole reason why we broke from Rome in the first place!

    Rome talks about grace! They talk about faith! But they also deny that salvation is by faith alone. At least they’re forthcoming about it. The Arminian gospel denies that salvation is by faith alone too, but they claim that this isn’t the case. It’s a false gospel that claims to be the true gospel.

    Which is more dangerous?

    Act 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,
    Act 17:31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

    Repent! This command is for EVERYONE! Repent!

    E

  36. Perhaps we may be tempted to say that as long as we’re saved, it doesn’t matter what we believe. For that matter, it doesn’t matter what we do.

    1Pe 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
    1Pe 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,
    1Pe 1:15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
    1Pe 1:16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
    1Pe 1:17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,
    1Pe 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,
    1Pe 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

    God doesn’t just command us to do or not do certain things, but he also commands us to believe.

    Mar 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

    Believing the right thing is a matter of obedience. The gospel has not, not, not overthrown the law. It upholds it.

    We are not antinomians, nor are we legalists.

    Legalists believe that salvation is earned by us by obedience to God’s commands. Antinomians believe that God’s commands to us no longer matter. Christians believe that we cannot earn our own salvation, but they also believe that they should seek to strive to be ever more obedient to the law of God.

    We should be able to say:

    Psa 119:77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.

    You see? God’s mercy to us does not nullify the law. The psalmist prays that God would have mercy on him, precisely because he wants to see the law upheld! This points forward to the gospel, in which by faith we may receive Jesus’ perfect righteousness. We are made righteous in Christ by faith alone. This does NOT mean that we simply throw out the law as if it didn’t matter. Rather, the law should be our delight.

    Jesus said:

    Mat 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
    Mat 5:18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
    Mat 5:19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    As part of loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, strength, etc, we are to believe what he commands us to believe.

    Sin is unacceptable, no matter the form. Whether it is lusting after a woman or unbelief, sin is sin. Lay it aside, cut it off, God is watching.

    E

  37. Echo,

    I have been gone for so long it will take me a while to respond to all of this. I have some reading to do for sure!

    Inresponse to #31 you said something well A LOT of things that seemed very cicular
    example
    “You didn’t one day make up your mind to believe. Rather, one day, you realized that you DID believe”

    This type of logic steal has the element of stealing God’s glory, the glory has just changed a little. After all it is up to you to “realize that you DID believe”. So your taking the credit for the realization here, and that means your in sin just like the rest of us! Your approach to saslvation cased ont hat definition, is taking some of the glory, responsibililty to be saved. Technically we would just all have to live our lives and hope to be chosen, or have some writing on the wall!

    The entire system you laid out in 31 seems to be very sinful, after all you imply that calvinists have interpreted the scriptures correctly without error, and somehow think since you assume to take no glory, and others way takes some of the credit by receiving it, then you guys are right and everyone else is wrong. That is not good enough of an argument on who’s way get’s less glory?

    Ok gotta go for now, I have a lot fo reading to do!
    Peace,
    Tony

  38. WB Tony,

    To pile on to your reading list, and in relation to the question of whether a “correcter-than-thou” attitude gets glory, I recommend to you an article from (Calvinist) R. Scott Clark’s, titled “Why Are Some Reformed People Such Jerks?” (If that title doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what would!)

  39. Tony,

    Re: 38

    You misunderstood. As do all Arminians. That’s why they’re Arminians. It’s ok. Let it simmer a while. And no, it’s not up to you to realize something, and THEN you’re saved. No. You missed something.

    E

  40. So your saying you can be “saved” and not even know it? Since you are elect?

  41. I don’t think Echo’s saying (and I wouldn’t say) that the elect are saved all their life, and one day they just wake up and realize it. The elect are born with original sin, and there is a specific time in their life when the Holy Spirit regenerates them. Re-generation = Again-Born. Regeneration is what enables (elect) man to have faith unto salvation. Since matters of the heart belong only to God, the question of how much time elapses between regeneration and faith is an academic one. It would seem that justification (salvation) immediately follows faith, with no gap, but the salvation status of someone in between regeneration and faith is also an academic question — the only significant answer being “he’s elect, so he will have saving faith, and he will be saved”.

    So I think what Echo is saying is, by the time you have faith, you’re already regenerate. Even though regenerate doesn’t necessarily mean Saved=Justified (yet), it’s like the ESPN highlight reel. When the announcer starts saying “He…could…go…all…the…way…” you know it’s a foregone conclusion.

    As a side-note, this is why Calvinists have an easy answer in terms of Infant Salvation, i.e. it’s completely up to God. Regeneration is a spiritual action, not an intellectual one, so there’s no reason the Holy Spirit cannot regenerate a fetus before it is born (or aborted). There’s no need to wrangle an age-of-accountability doctrine out of scripture, which is pretty tough. For more discussion, see here.

  42. I’m with you on the age of accountability issue being a tough one, but so is this ” so there’s no reason the Holy Spirit cannot regenerate a fetus before it is born (or aborted)”

    In fact I understand your explanation completely and it does make sense, but the scriptures are far from declaring it as so! You have deduced from several different scriptures this is the way it must be, afterall! But there is nothing clear in scripture that states what the idea about this salvation of the elect and when regeneration and justification taking place. Not to mention nothing clear about either side of what happens to a fetus still born or aborted and where it ends up, given it had no choice in the matter (Arminianism) or chance to be regenerateed by the gift of faith God placed inside of them! (Calvinism)

    We seem to be getting off track a little!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: