Guest Post

Echo keeps burying these gems deep into long comment trails where nobody will ever see them! I can’t get him to start his own blog, but maybe this is the next best thing: I have (without his permission) lifted about half of this comment and brought it up to this top level (where about 3 more people than nobody will ever see them!)

Enjoy!


Have you ever wondered how it is that the Judaizers who demanded people be circumcised 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 circumcised, 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 circumcised, 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 circumcised. 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!

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48 Responses

  1. To be fair, it seems to me that Arminians seek to reject any credit or glory (or assurance?) due to themselves and the choice they made. The reason I think Arminians reject predestination is because they can’t handle the negative side. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could be true that God predestined and monergistically saved the elect, but the non-elect chose themselves out of salvation, and are just bearing responsibility for their sinful choice? The Arminian asks “How could God be so unfair?” But Paul gives an unequivocal answer to exactly that question in Rom 9. There’s just no getting around it.

  2. Again, forced love still sucks. Fatalism and determinism still suck too. I’m still not drinking the kool-aid and my family will DEFINITELY not be drinking the kool-aid.

  3. You keep saying that. What makes you think forced love sucks? How do you know whether your love was forced? If you don’t like forced love, how do you feel about love that is compulsory, on pain of eternal hellfire?

  4. Agreed that Echo needs to start a blog, his reservations notwithstanding. He’s a blogger at heart, even if he doesn’t admit it. Look how he’s commandeering your toBlog page!

  5. Echo wrongly states, “The Judaizers only added one, small, little work to the work of Christ by which we are saved.” in order to make his comparison to Arminianism. What is the, “one, small, little work” they added? Was it JUST circumcision? Of course not, it was much more. You could take Acts 15:1 out of context to draw that conclusion, which is what I am assuming Echo is doing, but any student of the Bible will tell you the Judaizers were demanding conversion to Judaism and adherence to the entire law. That’s certainly not “one, small little work”. That’s an entire lifetime of works to earn salvation. I don’t know any Arminian who claims salvation by their works. Not one. Every one of them claims it is by grace through faith.

  6. I don’t know any Arminian who claims salvation by their works. Not one. Every one of them claims it is by grace through faith.

    I’m pretty sure Echo would disagree with that. The fact is that the Roman church is Arminian and they staunchly claim that the correct formula is faith + works.

    I am fairly confident that you can see that Echo wouldn’t have needed his polemic if it weren’t for the fact that there exist Arminians who aren’t Papist but, perhaps unwittingly, agree with the Roman church’s soteriolgy. So the point is that the Arminian position amounts to the Roman Catholic soteriology of faith + works in spite of their claim.

    My attention was drawn to the Galatian brand of Judaizer’s by Echo’s two references to Galatians. That the Judaizers in Antioch and the Judaizers in Galatia (separated by miles and years) were identical in their heresy is an assertion that you would need to prove. In any case, I don’t think the “little bit” vs. “a whole lot” of works [soon to become] pissing contest is a deal breaker to the argument.

    I do think that verses like Mark 1:15 where the command is to repent and believe the gospel, along with Romans 10:16 where “they have not all obeyed [ESV] the gospel” make it sound like a human decision is in play need to be reconciled with John 6:29 where it is plainly stated that it is God’s job (work) to make believers believe. Bear in mind that I don’t think that to do such a thing is difficult. A lot more can be said, and probably will.

    On the whole, I give you props for at least referring to the Bible, albeit irrelevantly until proven otherwise, rather than just repeatedly spouting that you hate (so-called) Calvinism, after the manner of some.

  7. I stand corrected on my own statement, “I don’t know any Arminian who claims salvation by their works.” Although my statement is true, because I don’t personally know anyone, but then again I don’t know too many people who would call themselves Arminian. (My land lord is Armenian but evidently that’s different).

    I would have been better off saying that I don’t know non-calvinist or even anti-calvinist Christians who claim that their salvation is by their own works even one small work. By asserting that everyone who rejects Calvinism rejects the true gospel you do a terrible disservice to your own ministry and fellowship. That’s what I was trying to get around to, not a pissing context of semantics.

  8. Albino,

    Re: 2

    You are responding by simply echoing earlier criticism to the entire Calvinistic system. This means that this post above didn’t help you understand the Calvinistic system any better. You have not yet acknowledged – as far as I’m aware – that what was said here or elsewhere in favor of Calvinism was reasonable.

    So you apparently think Calvinism, as a system of doctrine, is flawed because “forced love sucks”. While that would surely make a good slogan for a feminist rally, I don’t see how it is relevant here.

    May I make a suggestion? Try backing up your catch phrase. Try showing us how your catch phrase is more than a catch phrase you made up or someone you heard growing up made up. You quote your catch phrase as if it’s authoritative somehow, but since you haven’t demonstrated that it’s biblical, you haven’t demonstrated that it’s got any authority behind it besides your own.

    What are you quoting? Are you quoting a Confession? Are you quoting the bi-laws of your church? Are you quoting a saying in common use in your church? Who made up this catch phrase? Did you make it up or some preacher you know? Is it based on Scripture, or is it truly what your heart tells you is wrong with Calvinism?

    To say that forced love sucks is strange to me. I’m not sure what it’s supposed to mean. I am sure that it isn’t really a criticism that has any effect, since it’s only a man made catch phrase.

    If in countering your doctrine of tongues I simply said, “speaking in tongues sucks”, I’m sure it would arouse your emotion, but it wouldn’t actually be a legitimate criticism, would it. To say “your doctrine sucks” is actually quite childish. It’s like a 5 year old saying, “My dad can beat up your dad.” To which the other 5 year old can only reply, “Nuh uh, MY dad can beat up YOUR dad.” Inevitably, the two eventually come to blows, which someone’s mother has to break up.

    So should we be like children and just fight about it, and whoever wins will be judged to be interpreting the Bible correctly?

    How foolish! “Forced love sucks.” What does that mean? What is the definition of “sucks”? Does it mean that if love were forced it would no longer be a pleasant experience? This necessarily assumes that love is not “forced”, and that I’m simply claiming that it is “forced”.

    What does it mean for love to be forced? Did you choose to fall in love with your wife, or did you one day realize that you were in love with her, and that you were helpless against it? Do you honestly think that love is a choice? Do you really? Do you choose to love your kids, or do you love them because they were born to you? You have no choice in the matter. Did you choose for your kid to be born to you? You would love any child that was born to you. You didn’t pick out your children to BE a certain way before they were born. You took what you got, and you love them.

    You are forced to love your children. Does that “suck”?

    We don’t believe loving your children is something that you simply choose to do because it’s the right thing to do. I think for you to reject your children would require enormous effort. Even mothers who abort their unborn babies feel bad about it. And these are people who would rather their baby was dead! Yet they still feel guilty. Why? Is it because they simply know right from wrong and that they’ve done something wrong and they now feel remorse? Is it before their Creator that they are ashamed? Partly, but don’t you think that they can’t help but recognize that they were obligated to love that baby, and they failed to do so?

    Do you really think you can choose to be in love with someone or not?

    What if you don’t love someone – can you really choose to BE in love with that person, even though you really don’t love them?

    Do you think that a young man can WILL himself to love a girl he does not love? I have seen it attempted, even attempted it myself, but such a thing doesn’t work. You either love someone or you don’t. There is no choice in the matter.

    Oh, but against all this rational argumentation stands your mighty catch phrase, which sounds so wise and authoritative it must be truth, no matter what rational, biblical, sound arguments are made to the contrary. In fact, I’m sure after all this, you’ll simply repeat your refrain: “forced love sucks.” And after all is said and done, people will reject what I’m saying, because I’ve asked them to think, and they will embrace what you’re saying because it sounds good, because it tickles the ear.

    I am just astonished that this is all you have to say. “Yeah, that’s great Echo, you’ve made yet another argument from yet another direction, but you see, there’s one thing you forgot to consider: forced love sucks. So, I’m sorry, but you’re incorrect.”

    I am astonished that you actually think you’ve made an argument here or that you’ve proven anything. I just don’t understand what on EARTH gives you the ideas you have.

    “Forced love sucks.” Where, exactly, is that in the Bible or anything like that? And how do you disprove the words of Scripture with these words? How does it work? Take me step by step. I’m not the profound architect of ideas that you are. Please start me from the beginning, because I apparently have NO IDEA what you’re talking about. And after all, you’re asserting your little catch phrase as if it’s a commonly accepted maxim among the entire church or something.

    I mean if I had begun my argument by saying, “Well, even though forced love sucks, I still say that…” then you’d have a point. You would be able to show that my argument is not consistent with my own principles. But I don’t confess that “forced love sucks”, and I don’t see it anywhere in the Bible. I see this as something you’ve just made up, and it’s being asserted as if it’s something commonly accepted.

    I think you actually believe that this is going to make me want to rethink my arguments. Do you really think so? “Well, on the one hand, I’ve got all this nice argumentation and exegetical backing for my views. On the other hand, forced love sucks. Hmmm. I’m going to have to rethink this. How can I reconcile my views to the undisputable truth that forced love sucks?” Do you really imagine that that actually went through anyone’s mind? Do you really?

    I’ll tell ya what. Here are some responses to this that you can just cut and paste at your whim, since I know you’ll be too busy to write a good reply.

    1. Echo, you’re mean and you’ve brought the tone of these conversations to a new all time low. I don’t even need to reply to such mean spirited accusations.

    2. Echo, I’m too busy to deal with your stupidity. Why do you think I speak in man made catch phrases to begin with?

    3. Echo, I’m not responding to you anymore. You’re arrogant, and there’s no talking to you.

    4. Echo, you’re not being a loving member of the body of Christ. Can’t we all just get along?

    5. Echo, because (insert random catch phrase here), I surely don’t need to answer you.

    But really, I don’t want any of those responses from you. What I would truly like is an explanation. I want a rational, biblical argument that doesn’t merely say things as if they’re true, but gives me reasons to believe that they’re true and proves it from Scripture. That’s what I want, and one would think that’s what you’d get from a pastor. But that’s the very thing I’ve never gotten from you, and the very thing you’re not interested in giving.

    But it’s ok. I know you’re busy and you’ve got other things to do. After all, rational argumentation is for philosophers, not pastors and theologians. I should really just come down out of my ivory tower and eat with the common people like you. You obviously have the bigger heart, you’re obviously the bigger man, since you don’t bore everyone with rational argumentation and a lot of Scripture references. That just hinders arguments anyway. I’ve got a lot to learn from you.

    E

  9. Daniel,

    Re: 7

    No, you’re right, most Arminians wouldn’t say that salvation is by works but by grace. That’s totally true.

    Now let me tell you a story. I believe that salvation is by grace, not by works. So come over here and mow my lawn, and then you can be saved. But this lawn mowing isn’t a work. Far from it! In fact, I don’t believe in a works based salvation. Now, you might think that having to mow my lawn is a work, but it isn’t. It’s just something you have to do before you can be saved by grace. It doesn’t make you any better before God, but it’s something you have to do before you can be saved. But no, salvation is by grace. So now, come and mow my lawn.

    If you say that there’s anything you have to do before salvation can take place, then your salvation is no longer in God’s hands ONLY, but in yours. You have control over it.

    Here’s a definition of justification:

    Justification is: “A biblio-ecclesiastical term; which denotes the transforming of the sinner from the state of unrighteousness to the state of holiness and sonship of God. Considered as an act (actus justificationis), justification is the work of God alone, presupposing, however, on the part of the adult the process of justification and the cooperation of his free will with God’s preventing and helping grace (gratia praeveniens et cooperans). Considered as a state or habit (habitus justificationis), it denotes the continued possession of a quality inherent in the soul, which theologians aptly term sanctifying grace.”

    Here is another:
    “Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
    “Conditions to Salvation:
    “Salvation is received through repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, being justified by grace through faith, man becomes an heir of God, according to the hope of eternal life.”

    Notice in the second definition here, repentance is a condition of salvation along with faith, while justification is by faith alone.

    Are these two definitions saying the same thing?

    The first says that justification is God’s action alone, but that the person has to cooperate according to free will. The second says that justification is by faith alone, but we have to repent first. (And everyone knows – ahem – that repentance is defined as turning away from sin, not just confessing sin. There are works involved here.)

    Give up? That’s right, there is no difference once they’re properly understood. The first one says that God saves us all by himself, but we have to help him a little bit. The second one says that justification is by faith, but we have to repent first before we can be saved.

    We just have to add a little bit to God’s work.

    But without that one work, we won’t be saved?

    Yeah, but it’s just one tiny little work.

    But if I don’t do that, I can’t be saved.

    Yeah, but it’s just one little thing…

    The top definition was that of the Roman Catholic Church, the second definition was that of the Assemblies of God.

    E

  10. Daniel,

    It’s not a matter of interpreting according to the Judaizers in the book of Acts. It’s this:

    Gal 6:13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.

    It’s a simple act of circumcision in view here. They really just insisted that people take on the sign of the Abrahamic covenant in order to be saved.

    The simple principle in mind is that they’re adding one work to faith in order to be saved. That is a false gospel because it’s not THE gospel.

    Arminians are doing the same thing. They say that you cannot be saved UNTIL and UNLESS you reach out and embrace Christ. They have turned the FRUIT of salvation into a precondition for it.

    False gospel.

    E

  11. PS

    Gal 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
    Gal 5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you.
    Gal 5:3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.
    Gal 5:4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.

    (Why does he have to tell them that circumcision amounts to having to keep the whole law?)

  12. If in countering your doctrine of tongues I simply said, “speaking in tongues sucks”

    I think a better analogy would be to say “Meaningless babble is stupid” (which, by the way, is a paraphrase of “tongues without interpretation is unedifying”)

  13. that I could ‘choose’ to stop loving God while in heaven sucks.

    ‘Love,’ that comes from(?), no, stems from(?), no, is caused by(?), no, …well it’s all so troubling when trying to argue for libertarianism, anyway… my ‘choice’ to love God, which isn’t caused by anything (else whe have Calvinism), but just, what(?), “pops” into existence, for no reason (else we then have prior factors determining what we choose, and that’s a no-no), sucks.

    I mean, Albio’s choice to love God isn’t caused by any reasons, and so is an ‘uncaused’ event. But uncaused events are at best accidental, and at worst, irrational.

    So, irrational love sucks.

  14. The logical conclusion of radical Calvinism is God as puppetmaster, creating a world where all choices have been predetermined. “Bwahahahahaha…you MUST choose me, because I already made the choice for you.” Even if it is “what is best for you”, forced love with no choice sucks. Do you see forced love in Song of Solomon? Forced love SUCKS, because there is no choice involved. I’m not going to bore you by going round and round the tree again with all the verses that speak to “as many as received Him”, etc., but clearly the N.T. teaches that “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved”, that “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance.” He offers eternal life and agape love to all.

    Do you really think God would find any pleasure in robots or puppets? Come on, now, really!

    Take another hard look at the kind of Jesus you are creating with your theological systems. I think you’ll find it’s not the Jesus of the Bible.

  15. You are correct about the logical conclusion of Calvinism, except instead of the derogatory term puppetmaster, use the word Sovereign. Take out the evil laugh, and I 100% endorse your statement, which now reads like this:

    The logical conclusion of radical Calvinism is God as Sovereign, creating a world where all choices have been predetermined. “you MUST choose me, because I already made the choice for you.” [And you over there, you MAY NOT choose me, because I have not chosen you; I have created you a vessel for destruction.”]

    The logical conclusion of Arminianism [radical or not] is God as contingent on his creation, not sovereign over his world. In non-neutral language, God as worrywart, hoping and praying (?) that his “elect” will make the right choice. “Oh no, oh deary deary me, will he like my gift? Will he open it? I’ve left so many messages, why won’t he ever call me back?”

    The Jesus of the Bible says: “You didn’t choose me, I chose you”. “All that the father gives me will come to me”. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” Yes, “everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved”, but the Bible also teaches that no enemy of God CAN call on the Name of the Lord.

    Check out Phil 2:12: “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling”. Talking about sanctification, of course, not justification — after you are saved, fear God, respect him, and strive to obey him more and more. What does it say IMMEDIATELY after that? “FOR it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” What’s that FOR for? It explains the previous command for what you are supposed to “do”. What is the explanation? God works in you! Not you working, God working! For it is no longer me who lives, but Christ who lives in me. And look at this — what is the work God does in us? God enables us to work for his good pleasure — wait a minute, he also enables us to WILL for his good pleasure. Even after we’re saved, when we’re being sanctified, our will cannot on its own choose to follow God’s good pleasure, he’s still doing it for us!

    And I’ll ask again: You keep asserting “forced love sucks”. How do you feel about love at gunpoint? How do you feel about “love me or I’ll kill you” — or even more, “love me or I’ll kill you forever”? How do you feel about love that is compulsory, on pain of eternal hellfire?

  16. Look ‘bino, nobody’s making any headway here. You’re stuck on your human reasoning of “forced love sucks”, because you are thinking in human terms. Yes, if a human forces another human to love him (a) no actual love is produced, because man doesn’t have the ability to force love, and (b) the attempt is a heinous sin, because man’s imperfect, fallen state denies him the authority to demand to be loved. But (a) because of God’s omnipotence and sovereign control over his creation, he has the ability to make man love him, and (b) because of God’s perfect holiness, glory, truth, beauty, etc., God has the authority to demand to be loved.

    Two exercises for you: Go and read Might Makes Right and think about the difference between when man tries to assert authority and when God asserts authority. Then go read about Joey the Arminian, and tell me whether Pharaoh had a choice about his hard heart. One thing you and I (and Pharaoh, if we could get a message from him in his current condition) would probably agree on — forced hate sucks.

  17. The logical outcome of the arminian god is a weak and impotent god, kinda like the finite gods of Greek culture.

    At any rate, as echo asked, are you going to argue for your claims?

    I already gave an actual *argument* against your view of “free” will, showing how choices seem absurd, irrational, accidental.

    In that case, there’s no moral responsibility. People aren’t morally responsible to the maximum degree when they make an accident. I don’t get upset if my son *accidentally* knocks his milk over. I may tell him to be more careful, but it’s not like he planned to pour it all over the table.

    As far as Calvinist understandings of ‘free will,’ why not try to actually learn the position, represent it properly, and *then* knock it down?

    Compatibilism is both theologically and philosophically the stronger position.

    I find it odd that you object to having a prior cause for your choices. This must mean that your choices are *uncaused* events. Why don’t you try explaining how the idea of an *uncaused* event even makes sense. Now, you might try to find a prior cause which determines what you’ll choose. Even though this would refute libertarianism, it suffers from a bigger problem. We would thus see that it’s not a problem if impersonal forces, desires, factors, etc. determine what you’ll chose, bnut it *is* a problem if God determnines! This is autonomy at its finest.

    Anyway, even though God determines what I’ll do, my choice is still free simply because I do what I want to do. Ding what one wants to do seems to fulfill prephilosophical requirments for freedom.

    And, speaking of verses, we don’t need to debate multifarious verses. Take, for example, 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.”

    Question: Are those two ‘hims’ the same ‘him?’

  18. Actually, let me back up and change that a little. Instead of “omnipotence and Sovereign control” (which are facts, of course), I’ll change my reasoning to “(a) because of God’s perfect holiness, glory, truth, beauty, etc., God has the he has the ABILITY to make man love him”

    Think about it ‘bino. If any man were to truly see all the wonderfulness that God truly is, would the man not love? No forcing needed; love is the natural, inevitable response of man recognizing the perfection of the God whose image is borne in us. The problem is, man cannot see God — only God can reveal himself. And he reveals himself to some during their lifetimes, and he reveals himself to everybody else on Judgment day. Every knee will bow, and every tongue confess.

    So it’s not that God “forces” us to love him as much as “allows” us to love him. Although whenever the extreme conditions of omnipotence and perfection get thrown into the mix, there’s really not much difference.

  19. Still not buying it. You are really straining to make “forced love” sound reasonable and normal, when, in fact, it DOES produce puppets and robots. What really makes us different than the animals? We have eternal souls, yes, but we can also “choose” to ignore our creator. Again, does the Song of Solomon sound like forced love to you?

    I, too, believe in God’s sovereignty, but that’s what makes His allowing us to choose such a gift. This all-powerful God, who could treat us like robots and puppets, has given us the free will to accept or reject Him. Wow! What kind of God would do that?

    As to your assertion that not believing in forced love and robotic submission makes God a “worrywart”…um….no, not so much. God’s foreknowledge prevents Him from “worrying” about any outcome. As to “love me or go to hell”; yes, not loving God is a bad, terrible choice, just like not choosing the right wife is a terrible choice that could lead you to years of misery. Does that mean that the choice should be taken away?

    I know that this discussion is really scary for somebody who has their doctrine all locked down into a neat system, but, come on, do you really believe that Jesus is into forced love, and being a divine puppeteer, or presiding over a world of robots with no real choices? Come on now, really??

    Another thought to consider is that God is not the author of evil. So when people ask, “Why do Christians get tortured or raped, or why do the children of Christians die as the victims of crime, or why do godly men die slow deaths from uncurable diseases, is our answer, “God caused that to happen?” I know my answer would be, “God allows people to choose good or evil, and those evil choices have horrific consequences.” Would you prefer for nothing bad to ever happen, and lose all freedom to choose? Not so much. Is God “surprised” by evil, or wringing his hands like a “worrywart”? No, because He is Sovereign, and that includes foreknowledge.

    These are deep, difficult issues, but when you take these, what I call, radical theological issues, you MUST look into the logical outgrowings of what your system creates. In this case, it creates forced love, determinism, fatalism, and they all SUCK.

  20. Don’t know if this needs saying, but I’ll say it anyway. I love all you guys as brothers in Christ. Ruberad is a dear friend who I respect highly, Wacky is an impressive debator and thinker, I have enjoyed the mp3 recordings of his many debates, and would call upon him in a heartbeat to stand with us in any forum confronting atheism, and Echo, although I perceived him at first to be an arrogant tool, has proven to be a pretty decent guy, giving me an immense amount of advice for my upcoming trip to Chicago, and learning to limit his post lengths, to some extent.

    It is really hard to just read text without seeing facial expressions and understanding the personality behind each keyboard. On my next trip to S.D., I would love to hang out with you guys and get to know all of you as 3D people.

    I really enjoy reading this, and other blogs. It is highly profitable and healthy to interact with other Christians who don’t share every one of our doctrinal points. In our disagreements and various rantings, I just don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we are all brothers in Christ who all want to see souls saved and the Kingdom of God advanced.

    Cue the “Blessed be the Tie That Binds” organ music…

  21. You are really straining to make “forced love” sound reasonable and normal

    You are straining to make gracious regeneration sound like forced love. Go back and think about Echo’s description of human love. Even in human terms it is never forced, but always an involuntary response. Same with God. He graciously reveals to us his holiness (and our sinfulness), and our involuntary and free response is to love. If I hit you in the face and you say ouch, did you speak out of your free will?

    What really makes us different than the animals?

    We bear God’s image, and we are the object of his plan to glorify himself through Redemption. And animals cannot love, no matter how anybody tries to force them. Animals do not have morals, language, religion, etc. That’s a really irrelevant comparison.

    come on, do you really believe that Jesus is into forced love, and being a divine puppeteer, or presiding over a world of robots with no real choices? Come on now, really??

    I really believe that Sovereign God presides over a world of creatures whose choices are predestined. I really believe that when God reveals himself to his elect (who he has unconditionally elected), they (we) always respond with love. Does that make us robots? No more than people are robots because if you elect to stick sugar in their mouth, they will ALL have the same (free but involuntary) response of “that’s sweet”. If anybody ‘rejects God’, they haven’t seen what God really is (God has not revealed himself to them), because God is objectively (not subjectively, like you like cake, but I like ice cream), undeniably perfect. Every knee will bow, every tongue confess, when God reveals himself. It’s just a matter of when — in this life, or on judgment day.

  22. “No one can come unless the father draws him.”

    Albino, is that “forced,” or do you think the Father “draws” all men equally?

  23. Wacky…yes…I believe Jesus died for the whole world.

  24. Echo, two things…
    1. Do you think everyone who is anti(or non)-calvinist is arminian?
    2. I am not trying to make allowance for even one work to earn salvation no one is, but that still doesn’t change the fact that you are misrepresenting Judaizers to prove your point.

    I find it comical that you could/would do that given how much you claim to honor the Word. It appears that you honor the Westminster confession more than you honor the Bible.

  25. I’ll go out on a limb and assert that the five points of Arminianism are almost exact logical opposites of the five points of Calvinism. So denial of a petal of TULIP is logically equivalent to acceptance of the corresponding point of Arminianism. Thus any deviation from TULIP is a move in the direction of Arminianism.

  26. Albino,

    We’re not there yet.

    I asked about a verse, John 6:44.

    It says, “No one can come to me [Jesus] unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    Now, the verse is pretty clear that “no one” is able to come to Jesus unless the Father draws that person.

    So, I asked you if the Father draws everyone.

    If not, then the Father draws some people.

    But if the Father only draws some people, then we have Calvinism.

    So, that’s why I asked you if you thought the Father drew all people.

    So, do you?

  27. Wacky,

    I believe that through nature (Romans 1) and through preaching (Romans 10) and through the revealed Word of God, all are drawn to God…yes. Romans 1 even says that because of God’s creation, those who do not believe in Him are “without excuse”.

    Once you have seen God’s hand in nature, and especially heard the Gospel presented through the Scriptures, you must either accept or reject Jesus Christ.

    My point was extremely relevant to the discussion. Jesus died for the sins of THE WORLD. Let that sink in a little bit, and you might see how it applies to our discussion.

  28. Albino,

    “The world” is an ambiguous term in Scripture. Many times it means, “the known world.” Illustrations could be multiplied.

    Anyway, I’d like to move slower. I’m sure we’ll have time to get to your point, but right now we’re dealing with John 6:44.

    Now, John 6:44 tells us that “no one is able to come to Jesus if the father does not draw him.”

    So, there is not one person (“no one”) who can come to Jesus without the drawing of the Father.

    Now, logically, there’s only three positions:

    1. The Father draws all, thus all are able to come.

    2. The Father draws some, thus only some are able to come.

    3. The Father draws none, thus no one is ever able to come.

    And so it looks as if you affirm (1).

    Now, what follows?

    In John 6:44 we read

    “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.”

    Now, my next question is, according to your position, you affirm (logically, at least, though maybe not outwardly and explicitly) universalism, i.e., all men will reign with Jesus forever, none will go to hell.

    I assume that you reject universalism?

    Well, logically, you cannot reject universalism unless you reject the idea that the Father draws all men.

    If the father draws all men, then all men will be “raised on the last day.”

    So, my next question is: Do you either reject the drawing of all men to Jesus, or universalism?

    The problem: If you reject either one of them you’ll have to reject the other… at least according to Jesus, that is.

  29. Actually Wacky, your logic is (atypically) flawed. Jn 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”, can equivalently be rephrased “If the Father does not draw personX, personX cannot come to Jesus”, and therefore contrapositive is equivalently true: “If personX comes to Jesus, then the Father did draw him.”

    Your assertion of what AH asserts is “The Father draws all men” (which I also assert that he asserts, as does our buddy Tony, on the basis of John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”).

    However, Universalism does not follow from Jn 6:44 + AH. Universalism DOES follow from “If the Father does draw personX, then personX does come to Jesus” + AH, but that syllogism involves the converse of Jn 6:44, which is not logically necessary.

    What is a logically valid deduction from from Jn 6:44 is “If the Father does draw personX, then personX MAY come to Jesus”. Combine that with AH, and the syllogism is “All men MAY come to Jesus,” which is what AH, in fact, believes, i.e. that the Father’s drawing is not effectual.

    As I describe here, if you throw v37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me” into the mix, AND you add the assertion that ‘give’=’draw’ (call that ‘G=D’) in this context, THEN you can logically assert Universalim. Let me review: John 6:44 + John 6:37 + AH + G=D ==> Universalism.

    Since we all agree that Universalism is false, and John 6:44 and John 6:37 are true, then at least one of AH or G=D must be false.

    On the one hand, if AH is false, then the Father does not draw all men, Albino and Arminianism are wrong, QED.

    On the other hand, if G=D is false (and AH is true), then ‘give’ is not the same as ‘draw’. John 6:37 says exactly that when God gives a person to Jesus, that giving is efficacious. So the way for AH to be true must be that God draws all men, but not all men are drawn efficaciously. But that’s just the free and universal offer of the gospel (many are called, but few are chosen; if Jesus be lifted up, he will draw all men), which all true Calvinists affirm (but hyper-Calvinists deny). And God’s efficacious giving of some people to Jesus (while others who never come were not so given) ==> that’s Election (and probably Limited Atonement), thus Albino and Arminianism are wrong, QED.

  30. Albino,

    Re: 14

    I’m afraid you’re confusing/conflating things here. When it says that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, that’s certainly true, of course. But you have to understand what we’re saying here. We’re NOT saying that anyone will be saved if they never call on the name of the Lord. That would be retarded, and your criticism would be well founded. Heck, even when we say that justification, indeed salvation (comprising the entire ordo salutis: i.e. justification, sanctification, glorification), is by faith alone, we don’t even mean that anyone will be saved without doing good works! After all, without some measure of holiness, no one will see the Lord. So says the author to the Hebrews.

    But pay close attention to this, it’s important. Just because works will be done by all who are saved does NOT mean that salvation isn’t by faith alone! You know this. However, in the same way, just because everyone who will be saved WILL for CERTAIN call on the name of the Lord, will repent, will do good works, etc – none of that means that these things are PART of the GROUND of our salvation! They are the FRUIT of salvation.

    We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone, but saving faith always produces good works. Among those good works are repentance unto life, calling on the name of the Lord, etc.

    NO Calvinist would EVER deny that all Christians need to repent. No Calvinist would ever deny that all Christians need to strive to be obedient to the law. Nor would we ever deny that we should and need to embrace Christ as our Savior.

    What we are denying is that any of this can happen unless God first raises us to new life in Christ. Until and unless we have been regenerated, there can be no repentance, no good works, no calling on the name of the Lord.

    Consider: is faith required to call on the name of the Lord? How can you call on him you have never heard of? How can you call on him in whom you do not believe? How can you believe without someone telling you WHAT to believe? How can you believe it until and unless you are convinced that it is true? And this being convinced that it is true – isn’t this what we call…FAITH?

    You cannot call on the name of the Lord until you have faith. It would make no sense otherwise. Consider what is involved in calling on the name of the Lord. You must believe that he exists. You must believe that he can and will have mercy on you. After all, aren’t you calling on his name for mercy, for salvation? But all of this is impossible for someone who doesn’t believe. You can’t call on the name of the God you do not believe in.

    So as we can clearly see, there must be faith before there is any calling on the name of the Lord. And we know that justification is by faith alone. So the one who calls on the name of the Lord already has faith. If he has faith, he is already justified by faith alone. Therefore, calling on the name of the Lord is quite obviously the fruit of faith, not a precondition for it. This is only rational and simple. Paul makes precisely the same argument in Romans 10. PRECISELY. Look it up for yourself. But I’m sure you’re familiar with it and don’t need to, so you already know that this is true.

    But what about repentance? Why does someone repent? Isn’t it because he is convinced that he is a sinner? And what is the significance of that? Don’t you have to recognize that you have offended a holy God, and isn’t that what it means to recognize that you’re a sinner? After all, it isn’t some meaningless abstract concept, is it? We repent because we have discovered that we have offended a holy God, who not just created us, but has commanded us certain things that we have failed to do. We have failed to obey his voice. Don’t we have to recognize these things BEFORE we will be moved to repentance? Well, don’t we then have to believe first that God exists (by faith), that he is our Creator (by faith), and that he thus has the RIGHT to command us as he will? Doesn’t it require faith for us to even acknowledge the mere VALIDITY of the law of God which we have transgressed? After all, if the law is not valid, it means nothing that we have broken it. For us to be concerned about the fact that we have broken it, don’t we first have to concede that it is valid, and doesn’t that mean acknowledging God’s existence, AND that he has spoken in his Word? Doesn’t this require faith? But to repent, we still need more. We still need some measure of assurance that God will forgive us. After all, we wouldn’t be moved to repent of our sins (ask forgiveness for them AND turn from them) if we thought that God would never forgive us. Our repentance would be meaningless, and I don’t know about you, but most people would rather not do or say anything meaningless. We typically frown on that which is futile, considering it a waste of time and effort. We are disheartened if we think that what we’re doing is futile and meaningless. So before we can repent, we must have some measure of understanding that God will forgive us, and that means being at least exposed to the good news of the gospel that goes beyond the law to proclaim to us that God can and will forgive our sins! Doesn’t it require faith to believe this? Because don’t we have to believe that the Bible is true to believe this? Don’t we have to believe that Jesus really IS God in the flesh, and that he really did die to pay the price for our sins? We have to at the very least be open to the idea. And doesn’t this have to be by faith? How can we believe these things for which there is no concrete, tangible proof apart from faith? How can we believe the Bible is true apart from faith? How can we be convinced of any of this without some measure of faith? But there is more. To repent means not just to ask for forgiveness, but to express a true desire to turn from the wickedness for which we are asking forgiveness. Wait a minute: it must be a TRUE desire to turn from our sins. Where would such a desire come from?

    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.

    Hmmm. If we really desire to submit to God’s law – something SURELY required for true repentance – we can’t possibly be in the flesh when we do it.

    Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

    Hmmm. It looks to me that Paul is telling us here that unless the Spirit of God dwells in you, you can have no desire to submit to the law of God. But how could you truly repent unless you wanted to submit to the law of God? It is impossible. In order to really be sorry for your sins, don’t you have to want to submit to God’s law? Isn’t that what it MEANS to repent? You are sorry because you wish you hadn’t done it. You wish you hadn’t done it because it violated God’s law, and you now see that that is something you don’t want to do! Paul says that unless the Spirit dwells in you, you cannot possibly desire to submit to the law of God! There can be no repentance until the Spirit dwells in you. That is because there can be no faith until the Spirit has quickened you. That is why the Bible tells us that faith is a gift from God, which he gives to whom he will, because he gives his Spirit to whom he will.

    Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

    Now, one might object that this verse doesn’t actually say that faith is a gift from God. But I submit to you that it’s either faith that’s a gift from God or it’s grace. So ask yourself why Paul would say that grace is a gift from God. I mean, either grace is a gift from God, or you somehow generated it yourself. But if you generate grace yourself, is it even grace anymore? Does it even make sense to say that grace is something you give yourself? No, we ask God for grace. That’s what grace is. It would be pretty silly for Paul to have to say that.

    But what it would make sense for Paul to say is that even faith is a gift from God. It WOULD be important for him to remind us that faith is not self generated but from God.

    But maybe you say that this is a weak argument. I don’t think it is. I think it’s pretty obvious that Paul is saying that faith is a gift from God, because in the next verse he says that the purpose of his previous statement is to exclude boasting. No one can think highly of himself because we are saved by grace through faith, and even this faith is not your own doing, so that no one can take ANY CREDIT AT ALL for his salvation.

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

    But if we are saved by faith alone, and you chose to have faith (whatever that would mean), then you would have some small ability to boast. That’s what Paul is saying.

    But maybe you still aren’t convinced. Ok.

    Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

    The measure of faith that God has assigned. Do you still think that faith can be self generated? God has assigned to you your measure of faith. do you have faith? It is because God has assigned it to you. And actually, don’t get too hung up on this language of “assigned” either. The KJV says:

    For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

    Now, don’t get caught up in this “every man” business either. The ESV captures that part better. Look at the Greek if you will, but it says something like, “each according to the measure of faith that God has dealt (to him)”. The words “every man” don’t appear in the text. I don’t fault the KJV for putting it there, just don’t overinterpret it to mean that God has given every man a measure of faith, unless of course you want to count no faith as a measure of zero. But the meaning is that everyone should think of himself humbly according to the measure of faith that God has granted/given him. More faith means more humility before the God that you can understand better if you have greater faith.

    But anyway, I digress. The POINT is that faith is a gift from God. That should surely be clear enough at this point. And without faith, there can be no works, no repentance, no calling on the name of the Lord. But we are justified by 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.

    Rom 4:5 And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,

    We are justified by faith apart from works. We are justified by faith apart from works. By faith alone we are justified. Faith, not works, justifies.

    Why does faith alone justify apart from works?

    I’m glad you asked that question.

    You see, by faith alone, we obtain the merits of Christ. God doesn’t just toss aside his justice when he forgives us. Rather, he forgives us only because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. However, that alone would not be enough to justify us. If our sins were taken away, there would not be some little bit of righteousness left over.

    Let me explain. I have argued previously that works done apart from faith are not good at all, but only a manifestation of our sinful/wicked/rebellious hearts.

    Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    Only evil continually. And remember our verse from Romans 8 above that explained that the heart that is set on the flesh cannot possibly submit to the law of God. The only alternative is to be indwelt with the Spirit.

    So here’s my point. If you can recall Jesus’ words from the sermon on the mount, he explained that the law of God demands more than mere outward obedience. It demands inward obedience. After all, if you look at a woman with lust in your heart, you have already committed adultery with her in your heart. It doesn’t matter if you actually commit the act. You’re already guilty of it.

    Now if our hearts are only evil continually apart from the indwelling Spirit of God because it’s impossible for the mind set on the flesh to submit to the law of God, then what of our deeds would be left over if our sins were taken away?

    Take a gold star if you said nothing. Absolutely nothing. So if you stand before God and you have no righteousness, because you have no deeds at all, do you yet get the pronouncement of justification? Can God tolerate you in his presence if you are not righteous?

    Nope.

    But that’s what makes the person and work of Jesus Christ so special. He doesn’t just take away our sins. There is a great exchange that takes place. We give him our sins, he gives us his righteousness in return.

    We call this covenant mediation. He is the mediator of a better covenant, says the author to the Hebrews. What does that mean? What does it mean for him to be the final Adam?

    I’m glad you asked that question. It’s a good one.

    You see, in Adam’s first sin, we all became guilty. Yes, even you. Before you were even born, you were guilty of sin because your forefather of your forefathers rebelled against God. Thus you were born with a sinful nature. This is the commonly confessed doctrine of original sin.

    Go open ANY theology book written by ANYONE, and you will find this articulation of original sin. I think even the Assemblies of God would affirm this one. In fact I think the Romans might still affirm it. And if they don’t, it’s only a recent development. But if you go to your denomination’s website, no matter what denomination you are, I’m sure you’ll find something in their belief structure about original sin.

    When Adam sinned, we all became guilty. We were all put under the curse of death.

    Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–

    And all sinned because they were all born with a sinful nature, as I’m sure your church confesses, so all sinned, and all SIN, so thanks a lot Adam, you’ve doomed us all.

    But you see, by birth, we are born under a curse, because we are all sons of Adam. This is, by the way, why it was necessary for Jesus to be born to a virgin. Ahem.

    So being sons of Adam, we are all guilty, even before we were born.

    But by faith, we obtain Christ as our second Adam. Adam’s actions were credited to our account. Adam sinned, we all became guilty. By faith, Christ becomes our new Adam. Christ was righteous, so we who are united to him by faith become righteous. It is credited to our account. It is his righteousness that we obtain in this way by faith, because we obtain him as our second Adam, our covenant head, our covenant Mediator, who mediates a better covenant.

    Rom 5:15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.
    Rom 5:16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.
    Rom 5:17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
    Rom 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
    Rom 5:19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

    Well, at least Paul agrees with me. Hahaha…actually, it is I who agree with Paul, not the other way around. That’s a joke. But do you see how Paul is saying the same thing I was just saying?

    By faith alone we obtain the righteousness of Christ credited to our account. It is based on THIS that we are justified.

    Rom 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

    Phi 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–

    Heb 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

    2Pe 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

    I just wanted to make sure it really sunk in there. THIS is the mystery of the gospel, that by faith alone we obtain a standing before God whereby we are every bit as righteous in God’s eyes as Jesus Christ himself. God counts us perfectly righteous by faith alone, because by faith alone we obtain Christ as our covenant head, our Mediator, our second Adam. Adam sinned, we all became guilty. Jesus was perfectly righteous, and by faith, we become perfectly righteous.

    Never could we become righteous in this way on our own. Yet this is what it takes to be declared righteous by God. This is what it means to be justified. In the end, we are in fact justified by works, but not our own works. We are justified by the works and merits of Christ, which are credited to our account by faith alone, just as Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.

    So you see, it is not our choice that makes us stand before God. It is not our repentance that allows us to stand before him without being consumed by his wrath like the sons of Aaron. We stand before God clothed in the righteousness of our covenant Mediator, and this by faith alone.

    Do not add to it or take away from it. This is the mystery of the gospel, the good news of the righteousness that comes by faith in Christ, whereby our sins are removed, and we are covered in his righteousness as with a garment.

    But that’s not to say, of course, that this has no effect on us. Faith changes our hearts, replacing what once was cold, dead stone with hearts of flesh. And so our very desires are conformed to God’s desires. Our hearts are transformed so that we want to obey him and submit to his law. Thus it is precisely this justification, this legal declaration wherein God declares us to be perfect in Christ, that brings about our desire to repent and submit to the law. Thus sanctification is the fruit of justification. By the same faith that we are justified we are also sanctified. Our desire to submit to the law of God is inextricably linked to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so says Romans 8. It is the Spirit who is working in us to desire to obey God. And as he continues his great work in us, so this work is reflected in our deeds, as they gradually conform to the image of Christ, the perfect image of God.

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

    Look at that. God is working in us that we may will and work for his good pleasure. Our wills being turned towards God is the result of his work in us. Amazing.

    Rom 8:6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
    Rom 8:7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.
    Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    Rom 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
    Rom 8:10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
    Rom 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

    Won’t you hear these words of Scripture and submit to them, O Christian? Won’t you finally turn and submit to Scripture and belief what is written in it? If the Spirit is at work within you, do not kick against the goads. Submit. Believing these things is no great cost to you.

    It might mean acknowledging that you have been wrong. Is that really so bad? We are all sinful. We don’t have to be afraid of being sinful or being wrong or being deceived. It’s a fact of life. We’re messed up sinners! God knows that.

    If you really believe that it’s impossible that you were wrong, aren’t you denying that you are sinful? If you are sinful, can’t it be possible that you were wrong? I’m not talking to anyone in particular anymore, but to everyone. Don’t we have to admit that we are fallen and that we make mistakes? I know it’s hard to admit it. I know it pricks our pride. I know. I have had to admit my sin before many, many people. I have been humbled many times. Did you really think that at some point that wouldn’t happen to you? Did you really think that you could go through life always being right and never being humbled before God and man? Is it so hard to admit that you’re a sinful person in need of God’s mercy? Don’t you know that you’re really a sinner, and that God’s mercy is your only hope?

    And doesn’t that mean that you can be wrong?

    Is it really so bad to admit that you are wrong? Didn’t God become man and DIE so that you would have the privilege of coming before God and admitting that you were WRONG?

    I appeal to you in all sincerity. If God is at work in you, won’t you listen? As long as it is called Today, won’t you hear his voice and submit to him? For Tomorrow is coming, and it approaches far more quickly than you realize. Death comes to us all one way or another. Won’t you repent? Won’t you renounce your pride? Won’t you submit to his voice, O sheep of his pasture? Walk away from error. Depart from sin. Lay it aside. It is not hard. For his yoke is easy, his burden is light. Yes, it’s hard to admit it and face it. But God has made that possible. Indeed, we should count it pure joy to admit our sins to him, because he forgives us! We can be totally honest with him and ourselves because of what he has done for us, and the great love for us that motivated him to do it! Our sins, our errors of doctrine, cannot keep us from being loved by him. Don’t run from him.

    Today, if you hear his voice, harden not your hearts as in the rebellion, when you tested God in the desert. Listen to him. Hear him.

    As long as it is called “Today”.

    Tomorrow will not wait forever.

    E

  31. Albino,

    Re: 19

    Two things.

    1. Would you care to dispute my articulation of dual agency? I know Rube, et al are not too terribly keen in articulating their understanding of the doctrine of providence in this way, but I have articulated such a thing elsewhere on this blog. Have you read that argument, and would you care to disagree with it somehow? The reason I ask is because when you talk about our system turning us into robots, it’s clear that you’re not actually arguing against my position. I haven’t decided if you are arguing against Rube’s position. And I know you aren’t arguing against Wacky’s “compatiblist” position, because that’s basically what I would call my dual agency position in philosophical terms. I covet your comments.

    2. Please exegete the following:

    Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    By exegete I really just mean explain it. Please do not merely say what your interpretation of this verse is, but actually explain it step by step to me if you wouldn’t mind. I’m interested in your basic rules of interpretation of Scripture, and then I’m interested in exactly how you would bring those rules to bear on this verse, so that you can explain how it actually means what you would like it to mean.

    For transparency’s sake, I’ll just mention that I intend for you to lay out your argument for how you can reconcile God not being the author of sin (which I happen to know is another one of those catch phrases that I love so much) with this verse; once you have laid out said argument, I intend to pick it apart and show you where it is flawed.

    But to be REALLY transparent, I actually have a grander scheme in mind. Here’s a hint:

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

    I’ll give you three guesses where this is taken from, and the first two don’t count.

    Give up? It’s the Westminster Confession of Faith. Where do you suppose your catch phrase came from in the first place? But as you can see, you are extending its meaning beyond the intent of the original authors. You’re using it to deny God’s sovereignty over sin. Yep, God’s sovereign even over that. That’s why our sin can’t come between us and God.

    Here’s another hint: dual agency.

    And another:

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

    Dual agency.

    We do it, and God does it. What WE do is sin, what God does is not.

    So now, please explain, if you would, how God can be the creator of ALL THINGS, including evil, and yet not the author or approver of sin.

    I’m just wondering how your “system” (do you have one?) handles these issues. (Everyone has a system.)

    E

  32. Albino,

    Re: 19

    By the way. By the WAY, lest this fail to be mentioned.

    Can we really be saved by loving God? Well…

    Jam 2:8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

    Mar 12:28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
    Mar 12:29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
    Mar 12:30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
    Mar 12:31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

    Hmmm. It sounds like loving God is a matter of law, not of faith. So your “forced love sucks” slogan amounts to “forced law keeping sucks”. But of course, this would have nothing to do with our salvation, which is by 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.

    So when you say that “forced love sucks” as if it has anything to do with our soteriological beliefs (our beliefs about how we are saved), you do not really speak rightly. Your slogan seems to imply that we are saying that God forces us to love him, and then when he sees how much we love him, we are then saved. I know you understand our views a little better than that.

    Let’s throw out another analogy. Let’s say your wife wants something for Christmas that she’s been hoping for for a long time. Maybe she wants a Kitchen Aide mixer. My wife loves hers. She thinks it’s the greatest thing. So let’s say your wife really, really wants one, and believe me, if she doesn’t have one, you might want to think about getting her one. Anyway, let’s say that for months and months leading up to Christmas she’s dropping hints left and right, cutting out ads in the paper for them and taping them to the mirror, the whole 9 yards.

    So you say to yourself, how can I not give her one?

    So the big day arrives, Christmas morning, and your wife spies a box that looks like it just might be the right size. With trembling hands and a skipping heartbeat, she opens the gift, and sure enough, it’s a mixer from Kitchen Aide. With a squeal of delight, she bursts into joy and says thank you a thousand times. Meanwhile, you quietly sit back, satisfied that you accomplished your mission. Your mission was, of course, simply to make your wife happy.

    Now, you gave your wife that gift, and as a result she was happy.

    You caused her happiness.

    She did not generate that happiness on her own, but you caused it by giving her a gift that would make her happy.

    Now, it’s true that she did choose to accept that gift, and she chose to thank you for it, etc, etc, etc. All true.

    But did she make herself happy, or did you make her happy?

    Now here’s a bit of a pickle when you think about it. After all, she’s the one who saw or heard about the mixer and decided she wanted it. Or better yet, once she heard about the existence of such a wonderful device, her desiring it was inevitable. I haven’t heard of a woman yet who knows of the existence of such mixers and doesn’t want one. Those who have them love them like a child. So in some ways, I’ll grant that the desire for the mixer is hers, so she is partly to blame for her happiness, because without the desire, there’d be no happiness.

    On the other hand, you’re certainly the king of your castle, and if you had forbidden her to own one of these devices, she could not have attained the happiness she did. I mean, yeah, if you hadn’t bought her one, she could always buy herself one. Unless of course you tell her that you simply can’t afford it, yadda, yadda yadda.

    The point is: you are the one who made her happy. Maybe she shares part of the responsibility in some way, but chalk that up to a weakness of the analogy.

    You gave her a gift, and it made her happy. Did you somehow force her to be happy? You made her happy didn’t you? Didn’t you make her happy when you put a diamond on her finger and asked her to marry you? Didn’t you CAUSE her to be happy?

    But does causing her to be happy amount to forcing her to be happy? And if so, does forced happiness suck too? Are you violating your wife’s free will somehow?

    E

  33. Daniel,

    Re: 24

    I’m convinced you haven’t read what I said thoroughly.

    You present a false antithesis. You see, I believe that the Westminster Confession of Faith agrees with the Bible and is a summary of the truth contained therein. You disagree. Thus, whenever I say something that agrees with the WCF, you say that I favor the WCF over the Bible.

    Ok. I’ll respond in kind, just like a child would. You insist that you can’t be wrong, no matter how much someone proves it to you from Scripture. You favor your own little private confession of faith that rattles around in your own head over Scripture.

    It is for people like you that the Army changed their recruitment slogan to “I am an Army of one.” I’ve never understood what that was supposed to mean, and always thought it was stupid. However, now I realize that they’re trying to appeal to people like you who think that your beliefs are the standard of truth. If you agree with it, it must be true and correct, if you disagree with it, it must be incorrect.

    That’s all your arguments amount to. “I disagree, so you’re wrong. And oh by the way arrogant and stupid, else you’d agree with me.”

    Thanks. That’s helpful. Way to go. You’ve won me over. I think I’ll heed you and your word, and not worry about whether it’s God’s word or yours. I’ll make you my covenant head.

    No thanks. No thanks at all. I decline your invitation to view you and your beliefs as the standard of truth. I know they are incorrect because I disagree with them.

    Now I have responded in kind. Are we getting anywhere?

    E

  34. Albino,

    Re: 27

    You said:
    “Once you have seen God’s hand in nature, and especially heard the Gospel presented through the Scriptures, you must either accept or reject Jesus Christ.”

    – Echo:
    Whoa! Hold up here! There’s a blurred distinction here that I’ve chosen of my own free will to pounce on. You are referring to Romans 1. It says:

    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
    Rom 1:19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
    Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

    Now what does it say is revealed in the creation? Is it the gospel? No. No mention here of God’s mercy or love. What’s revealed in the creation is the law, the definition of sin, and that God IS. Nothing about the creation will tell you that God is a forgiving God. It all points to God being a God that punishes sin. That’s why man is without excuse on judgment day. Man sins, but according to natural revelation, he should have known better and not sinned.

    Unfortunately, Adam is the one who made this choice for us. But in Adam we ALL SINNED. We all sinned in him. We all became guilty in him. So when we look at the creation, we see the splendor of it and the majesty of it, and we know that God is a great God. We know that we have sinned because the law is written on our hearts. We know right from wrong, even though we choose to do wrong. But it’s because we know right from wrong that we are without excuse.

    Every civilization on earth has worshiped gods. Why? Because God is revealed in the creation. So why do they worship gods? Because they hate the one true God, and so they exchange truth for a lie, as Paul goes on to say. They worship the creation rather than the Creator. They make idols with their hands and then fall down before them like irrational animals, created to be destroyed.

    But faith in the gospel only comes through the Word of God. All men have not come into contact with the Word of God, all men have not heard of Jesus Christ. How about all those people who lived before him! But they too are without excuse because they sinned.

    Doesn’t seem fair, though, does it? I mean, Adam sinned, and then everyone after that was born guilty. Because they were guilty, they hated God and rebelled against him. But they were guilty because they rebelled against him. Hmmm. Which comes first? It doesn’t matter. The fact is, everyone has rebelled against him. Thus everyone is guilty. But they’re without excuse because they are the ones who chose to rebel. Did God cause this? Yeah. Is man still responsible for the choices he makes of his own free will even though God caused it? Yeah. Does this make God the author of sin? No. Man sins. God doesn’t. God cannot disobey himself. He must be true to himself. He cannot lie. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t decree that people would lie. We can’t even exist apart from God’s decree causing it to be so.

    We aren’t deists, are we? God isn’t just the Creator, he is also the Sustainer of the universe. He upholds all things by the word of his power. (Does that sound biblical?) He upholds ALL THINGS by the word of his power. You can’t even take a breath unless his word had brought it about.

    But we can murder one of his children apart from his consent I suppose? We can’t take our next breath, but we can lie?

    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.

    Apart from me you can do nothing.

    Huh. Did Jesus really say that? Did he mean it? Was it figurative? You tell me. I guess I don’t know.

    E

  35. Wacky,

    Re: 28

    BRILLIANT!!!

    E

  36. Rube,

    Re: 29

    Plainly you forgot one small detail.

    Joh 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

    You presume the meaning of “all people” or in the case of the translation you are using, “all men”.

    Queue the eye roll from…well…everyone.

    Yes, I can feel you rolling your eyes even as I type this.

    But really, is it possible that “all people” is a corporate phrase, and doesn’t mean every single individual?

    Didn’t we talk about this already with Tony?

    Remember I said that it’s a true statement that the whole world is connected to the internet? Or everyone has cell phones nowadays? Aren’t these true statements, even though every single individual isn’t the intended meaning? Is my statement flawed?

    If the Bible spoke in the same way, does that mean it can’t be inerrant? Why does inerrancy mean razor sharp precision? It’s not a technical engineering journal. It’s a book written for normal people like you and me. It speaks in everyday language equivalent to the newspaper. It’s not very sophisticated. But we presume that it must be.

    If it says 6 days, then it must be 6 24-hour days, and to say otherwise is to undermine inerrancy! No. People didn’t always use language according to the rules you’re trying to put on it. I’m not speaking to Rube in particular anymore, but everyone. I’m not trying to make a fancy argument about the meaning of the original Greek or Hebrew or whatever. I’m just saying that the Bible is not always written the way you think it must be.

    All men simply doesn’t always mean every individual man.

    Mar 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

    Does “whole creation” here mean that we must also preach to rocks and trees?

    Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
    Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,

    Had the gospel yet been heard in the whole world at that point? Weren’t there even some in Jerusalem who hadn’t had it explained to them yet? Had the gospel come to the whole world? What about the Mayans and the Aztecs on the other side of the world, or the Chinese? The gospel had not yet gone out to every man woman and child in the world. But paul still says truly that the gospel has gone out to the whole world.

    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.”

    But Paul still says what some would say is a lie I guess.

    Rev 13:7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation,
    Rev 13:8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain.

    Sigh…

    If all always means every individual, then I guess we’ll all worship the beast. And that means that everyone who dwells on earth – none of our names are written in the book of life!

    But here deliberately, the phrase “all who dwell on earth” clearly doesn’t mean every single/individual one. CLEARLY. It qualifies the phrase by adding that by this phrase is meant everyone whose name is not written. So here it clearly says that all who dwell on earth is not meant to mean every single individual.

    Now how can that be?

    Ugh.

    I’m not even talking to you anymore Rube. I’m talking to everyone I guess. I’m kind of frustrated I suppose with sloppy exegesis being presented as the only possible answer, when in reality, if we’d just repent of our sin, we’d see things so much clearer.

    How long, sovereign Lord, how long?

    E

  37. Echo,

    Sigh…

    Romans 1 — Man sees creation…man cries out to know God…my Bible says that “if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you…God sends man a preacher (Romans 10)…because “how can they hear without a preacher?” Do you follow the pattern here? Sigh…

    It is really sad how you strain so hard to keep Jesus from dying for the sins of the “world”. Reminds me of Clinton – “What the meaning of “is” is.” Sigh…

    Ok, have we sighed enough now?

    Apparently if someone doesn’t swallow Calvinism’s 5 points whole, they don’t qualify as a thinker or a Bible-believing Christian in your world. That’s where your arrogance comes in.

    Sigh…

  38. We typically frown on that which is futile, considering it a waste of time and effort.

    Which is why I believe in Limited Atonement. God doesn’t have a warehouse full of surplus Atonement.

    Go open ANY theology book written by ANYONE, and you will find this articulation of original sin.

    Except for Finney (and Pelagius)

    Plainly you forgot one small detail.

    Joh 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

    You presume the meaning of “all people” or in the case of the translation you are using, “all men”.

    Sorry, I made the same point before, but this time I forgot the caveat “Even if you choose to believe that all are drawn by the Father to Jesus”. I.e. even with a flawed understanding of some verses, logic unavoidably dictates some kind of distinction between God’s effectual and non-effectual actions upon us, which just ends up being different words that mean the same things as the Calvinist distinction between the free and universal call of the gospel, and the effectual call of the elect.

  39. Actually Ruben, the logic is not flawed. Here’s how:

    A very good literal translation of the verse would be:

    (A)No one is able come to Me (B) if not the Father – the one having sent Me – draws him, (C) and I will raise him up on the last day.

    Let’s put the three sections into formal language, somewhat Revising them:

    RA1) He is not able to come to me (changing no one to he is valid logically, I can give more arguments for this move, but most should see it’s a valid move).

    If q represents “he is able to come to me,” then (RA1) is correctly stated as ~q

    RB1) The Father does not draw him.

    If p represents the Father does draw him then (RB1) is logically equivalent to ~p.

    We’ll keep (C) the same, if r is “I will raise him up on the last day” then (C) is logically equivalent to r.

    John 6:44 = (~p –> ~q) ∧ r

    This reads: [If the father does not draw him, then he is not able to come to me], and I will raise him up on the last day. This (~P –> ~q) is logically equivalent to (q–>p) ∧ r which reads [If he is able to come to Me, then the Father draws him], and I will raise him up on the last day.

    Theologically, then, the necessarily precondition for someone coming to Jesus is the Father’s drawing. Thus q –> p captures this idea and expresses it in formal terms. Thus John 6:44 can be expressed: (~p –> ~q) ∧ r

    Now, the Arminian view (e.g., Albino’s view) is that the father draws all people, making all people able to come.

    And so the arminian position on this verse has a problem. Here’s what Albino’s argument looks like:

    P1: [If he is able to come to Me, then the Father draws him], and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44

    P2: He is able to come to me (Arminian position).

    C1: The Father drew him, and I (Jesus) will raise him up on the last day.

    Thus if all people, if every “him,” is able to come, then every “him” is raised on the last day. This is universalism.

    But the Arminian (and your defense) takes it that Jesus raises only those who do come. So you/them understand the referent in (C), the him in (C), to be the one who actually does come.

    The problem here is that this is not what John 6:44 says. The verse only mentions those who are drawn and those who are able to come. Therefore the “him” in (C) either referrs to the one drawn or the one able to come, there’s no referent for the person who actually does come.

    The Calvinist position is compatible with John 6:44. We could state is formally:

    P1′: [If he is able to come to Me, then the Father draws him], and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44

    P2′: All the elect are able to come to me (Calvinist position).

    C1′: The Father draws all the elect, and Jesus raises all the elect on the last day.

    Hope that helped,

    Wacky

  40. Wacky, I hope I made the corrections to your last comment as you intended.

    You’re still making the same mistake. I’m with you in your formulation of John 6:44 as “(~p –> ~q) ∧ r”. You correctly say “the necessarily precondition for someone coming to Jesus is the Father’s drawing”, but a necessary condition is not necessarily a sufficient condition. You are (Calvinistically) treating the Father’s drawing as a sufficient condition, as effectual, but John 6:44 alone does warrant that.

    But the Arminian (and your defense) takes it that Jesus raises only those who do come.

    And the Calvinist — we all agree that Jesus raises only those who do come! I disagree that the referent can only apply to the drawee, not the comer. But at this level, the argument is semantic only — I don’t think you can press the point that in this verse Jesus is saying that he will raise all that are able to come — except indirectly with the side-truth of effectual calling.

  41. To put a point on it, as I tried to say here, the succinct question to the Arminian is “What is the difference (if any) between John 6:37’s ‘give’ and John 6:44’s ‘draw'”?

    If there is no difference then the logical conclusion of Arminianism is Universalism (all are drawn = all are given -> all come -> all are raised).

    If there is a difference, then we’re back to Calvinism, just in different words (all are drawn, but some are given, come and are raised = many are called but few are chosen).

  42. Ruben,

    First, my symbol came out ∧, don’t know why. But that’s a modal symbol for necessary. Before r there should by a ^ or a & or a . That’s just technicalities.

    Yes, the verse does not tell us about what is sufficient. I agree John 6:44 alone doesn’t tell us that.

    But, the use of “and” means that you *have to* accept the *entire* proposition. So, if there’s a proposition, p & q, then if someone accept p then they *must* accept q.

    Anyway, in the *text* we only read of “hims” that are able, and that are drawn. There is no warrant in John 6:44 for applying the referent of “him” to one who *does* come.

    At any rate, John 6 demolishes Arminianism, v. 44., goes almost all the way there, though.

  43. So does Rom 8-9, but perhaps John 6 is more succinct.

  44. but, it does read, “no one can come unless the father draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    If those two hims are the same, then since we must take the *entire* proposition, if one is drawn then one is raised.

    Who will Jesus raise? “Him.” Which “him?” The one drawn.

    So, it still leads to universalism.

    The only way around it is to bring up the one who *does* come, but John 6:44 only referrs to the one able and the one drawn.

    So, it still leads to universalism….

  45. Albino,

    Re: 37

    If I’m arrogant, you are EQUALLY ARROGANT. you are demanding that I accept your pluralism. Sorry, I’m not biting. Your pluralism is still a view that you are demanding people conform to. You’re being hypocritical. Repent.

    Besides, you completely missed my point. Let me make it simpler.

    General Revelation (the creation) reveals God as just, holy, and full of wrath at sin, because it reveals the law.

    Special Revelation (the Word) reveals God as merciful, loving, kind, slow to anger, etc, because it reveals the gospel.

    See, you talk about one thing being revealed in Rom 1 through the creation, but then you talk about God sending a preacher in Rom 10. That’s exactly the same thing I’m saying, only you said it in simpler language without the technical terms.

    So in a nutshell, I was trying to encourage you not to conflate/confuse general and special revelation. The content (the truths revealed in them) is different.

    E

  46. Rube,

    Re: 38

    *standing ovation*

    E

  47. Wacky, Rube,

    Re: 38-44

    I think Wacky’s diagnosis of John 6:44 is valid in symbolic logic. However, I think it also demonstrates a weakness in symbolic logic.

    Cuz here’s a problem. John 6:44 is saying that the entire set of those who come are within the set of those who are drawn. That’s all that’s being asserted there. It does not say that the members of each set are precisely and only the same.

    However, I would still suggest that the set of those who are drawn is larger than the set of those who come, BUT less than the set of every man, woman and child who has ever existed. I mean seriously, who can say with a straight face that the Mayans prior to the arrival of the Spanish were drawn to Christ? How can you be drawn to Christ without ever hearing his name? Yet, not everyone who is drawn comes.

    For evidence I’d cite the parable of the sower and Hebrews 6 that speaks of apostates.

    Furthermore, I’d say that it’s never obligitory, nor even a good idea, to interpret any verse of Scripture on its own. There are always various contexts, the last of which is always the entire Bible. No verse of Scripture can contradict any other verse, so there must always be a way to reconcile them, because the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, even if it appears to.

    For example:

    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.

    Jam 2:24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

    To read James apart from Paul will certainly lead to error. But to read this verse of Paul without this verse of James may also lead to error. The one leads to the Roman error, the other to antinomianism.

    And no shelter will be found in the original Greek to help you understand. The same word is used for “justify” in both cases. Of course, there almost isn’t such thing as a word that has only one meaning…

    For those of you who might be curious, the trick to reconciling these verses really isn’t a trick at all. James is using the word justify differently than Paul. Paul is referring to the legal declaration that God pronounces over you when you are saved. He declares you righteous, thus justified. This is based on the merits of Christ alone, obtained by faith alone. Meanwhile, James is speaking of the way justification is manifested. One of the ways to interpret this Greek word is “shown to be justified”. So in other words, deeds are the fruit or evidence or manifestation of faith. It is of course the faith alone that justifies before God, but it is the deeds that manifest the faith. Justification is by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is never alone. The context of the verse in James makes it pretty clear, but what makes it REALLY clear is being convinced that Paul and James don’t disagree, and wrestling with the text until it can be reconciled. It’s always good to consider possible counter-examples.

    E

  48. […] by RubeRad on March 6th, 2007 I’ve had a Guest Post before, and I’ve had a Guess Who too — now I give you two great tastes that taste great […]

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