Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A New Series of Posts

I think I am going to start a new series. Maybe I will call it "Issues Calvinists Raise" ...or... "Questions Calvinists Ask" ...or... "Talking Points of the Calvinist."

These will just be dealt with and added to the series as I am so inspired.

There are many of these. In the comments of one of the posts below, Gayla brought up the idea that if faith is not a gift, then we can boast if we have faith. I assured her that this is a very popular thing to say. I even heard it from my own pastor via the pulpit some months back. Jonathan Moorhead has said it a few times. I have seen it all over the blogosphere and I know it is an idea in much Calvinist literature. However, I don't think it is a biblical thing to say. As I said to Gayla, I think it is taking a biblical idea against boasting in works and applying it to faith in an awkward, deformed way that is never done in the Bible regarding saving faith in the gospel. I wrote a whole post on that here and I am going to edit it a little bit and add it to my new series - maybe prominently in my sidebar.

Below you will find another post that is going to be a part of the new series.

Please feel free to add your ideas to the mix!
_______________________________
Update:
Some more titles to come for this series (which may or may not be re-postings of things already published)
  • Isn't Any Other View of God's Working in Salvation an Anthropocentric Gospel?
  • How can a DEAD Person Respond to God?
In addition to these already Mentioned:
  • Why Does One Person Believe and Another Doesn't?
  • If Faith is not a Gift, Isn't there Room for Boasting?

62 Comments:

  • This promises to be a great series.

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 3/17/2007 12:17 PM  

  • I am really looking forward to this.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 3/17/2007 12:19 PM  

  • What I actually said was:

    "If we are to believe that we can exercise faith on our own accord, then we’ve just given ourselves something to boast in and take credit for, which goes against what the Word actually says."

    And then I said in response to Jon Lee:

    "Seriously Jon, from where do you glean that any one of us here thinks this? Feel special???? That he chose to save me drives me to my knees in gratitude, as it should each one of us who has been saved by His grace."

    I don't glean these thoughts from anything John Calvin said, make no mistake. I arrive at this from passages of text such as:

    Phil 1:2, For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake.

    Eph 2:8, 9 - which I interpret the gift as being "by grace through faith." Not just the grace, not just the faith, but both.

    John 6:65, 2 Tim 1:9, James 1:17, Eph 1, Romans 1, 4, 5 8

    and a whole host of other texts which, in their totality, tell me something about how God works in salvation.

    Thank God He didn't leave the 'decision' up to wretched, sinful man, otherwise we would have never sought Him in our dead state.

    I just want to add one thing. I cannot ignore passages of Scripture like Romans 8:28-30, and other like it. Do they run completely contrary to what I'd 'prefer' God to be like or what I'd always been taught God was like? You bet. God IS loving and He IS merciful. He is. But God is just, he is a God wrath and He is holy. The totality of Scripture points to a God whose primary focus is His glory, and what He does He does for the sake of His Name. We are His creatures; we do not determine how things roll, as it were.

    Ok...sorry for the extended ramble..

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/17/2007 12:29 PM  

  • God chooses to choose those who have chosen to choose Him, only He is the prime chooser.

    There, now. Doesn't that straighten it all out?

    By Blogger Joe, at 3/17/2007 2:27 PM  

  • Joe, believe it or not I was once a flaming Arminian that was going to write a book entitled, "Chosen by Choice." The idea of God choosing a person because he/she first chose Him is the essence of works salvation isn't it?

    IOW, the only way a person could be saved is because they did something to merit God's choice, no matter what it is. Or, if I were to ask you why God chose you, you would have to begin by saying, "Because I . . ." not "Because God . . ."

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 3/17/2007 3:19 PM  

  • I hold to election (infra), and my basis isn't necessarily because I fear man will have something to boast of if it is said that "he" exercised faith--although that may be part of it.

    Look forward to this series, Rose.

    By Blogger Bobby Grow, at 3/17/2007 6:53 PM  

  • A lot of this debate stems from the Reformed teaching of voluntarism which holds that faith is an act of the will.

    Although there's been a long running scholarly debate about this, there is convincing evidence that Calvin defined faith the way that Romans 4:20-21 defines it. Faith, according to the Bible and, it would seem, Calvin, is a passive action in which the mind finds itself persuaded that God's promises are true.

    If we locate faith in the mind rather than the will, then there is no sense in which faith can be said to be "a work." This is true even if the unregenerate has the capacity to be persuaded (= believe).

    Only those who hold to some form of voluntarism - that faith is an act of the will - can hold that faith is a "work."

    For those of you who are interested in such things, you can check the debate between R. T. Kendall (Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649) and Paul Helm (Calvin and the Calvinists). Helm scores some telling points against Kendall re: the extent of the atonement but in my opinion Helm fails to refute Kendall's assessment of Calvin's view of faith. On the other hand this is all irrelevant anyhow, because the definition of faith that matters is the one in the Bible, not the one in Calvin!

    So, bottom line, we avoid the charge that faith is a "work" by observing that faith is the mind's reaction to compelling evidence; it is the semantic equivalent of being persuaded that a thing is true.

    There is no merit in faith because it is not an act of the will. It is the reaction of the mind to God's compelling truth (Romans 10:17).

    By Anonymous Bud, at 3/17/2007 10:33 PM  

  • IMHO, The only time that faith may be viewed as a work is if it is put forth as the *reason* why God chose us unto salvation - the "condition" in conditional election, or if we hold that our faith has been rewarded by God on its own account. (It is easy to make a *Christ* out of faith.) On the other hand, if faith is but the *instrument* that brings salvation to us, then it has no merit at all, but is merely the beggar's hand that gratefully receives the totally undeserved salvation of God. Unbelief may be accredited as the main reason (i.e. as one sin among many) why a soul is damned.

    I'm don't think that I can run with the idea (as stated by Bud) that faith is not an act of the will. "Wilt thou go with this man?" and she said; " I will go." (Genesis 24:58) and "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17) comes to immediately to mind.

    Rose: Enjoy Philip's preaching today!

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/18/2007 5:00 AM  

  • I would say that ultimately saving faith is an act of the "new heart", or affection. Voluntarism indeeed is a problem that is prevelant in both Calvinist and Arminian camps.

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 3/18/2007 5:17 AM  

  • Bobby Grow: "I would say that ultimately saving faith is an act of the "new heart", or affection."

    I see it as we have received and believed God's word through our limited faith and that once received God gifts us with a "saving faith" via a "new heart" as you have stated. I believe we "all" have this choice and it is not that God has chosen only "some" to salvation.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 12:16 PM  

  • Jonathan -

    "Joe, believe it or not I was once a flaming Arminian that was going to write a book entitled, "Chosen by Choice." The idea of God choosing a person because he/she first chose Him is the essence of works salvation isn't it?"

    I don't agree this is the "essence" of works salvation. I do agree that it is bad theology. God's choice of saving all who would believe in Jesus Christ was in no way determined by the future response of any man.

    By Blogger Jon Lee, at 3/18/2007 3:30 PM  

  • Dawn,

    it all depends on how you define sin, and how that impacts your definition of an biblical anthropology. I believe sin is best captured by Augustine's def. of privation (negatively) and self-love (positively). Until God provides His greater affection (I Jn 4:19), which breaks in on our self-affection, we will remain in bondage. The response to God's love, is to respond back to Him in love--which is to "choose" Him. Once God discloses Himself to someone, the response is "free", but it is free within the space that God's love creates--and the "response" of that person will be to love God back. That's why I've come to conclude the infra election that I have.

    How do you define sin, and an biblical anthropology?

    By Anonymous bobby grow, at 3/18/2007 4:16 PM  

  • Jonathan:
    Straw man!
    Non-Calvinists do not say that we "chose God." Argue with what we really say, Jonathan. I know you were springboarding off of Joe's comment, but I just can't let you get away with that.

    ..essence of works salvation isn't it

    Faith is not works. Choosing might be, but I am not advocating the verbiage "choosing God." You say the only way a person could be saved is because they did something to merit God's choice... did something? DID SOMETHING? When are you going to stipulate that faith is not "doing something"?

    We can't get anywhere until you Calvinists will take that talk off the table. Faith is, in essence, a "non-work" a "non-doing" kind of thing. It may cause you to do things, but ... in and of itself, it is a "non-doing."

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/18/2007 5:27 PM  

  • "Faith is not works"

    I don't know if there's some confusion flying around or what - I personally have never asserted that faith is works. I've contended all along that faith is a gift of God.

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/18/2007 6:36 PM  

  • Gayla;

    The "faith as a gift" position is just as fraught with trouble as is the "faith is a choice" position.

    Check out Rene Lopez paper on this at http://www.scriptureunlocked.com/pdfs/IsFaithaGift.pdf

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/18/2007 7:16 PM  

  • Rose,

    Your new series idea is a good one. But you'll need the skin of a pachyderm to see it through.

    God bless you as you do God's service.

    Carry on in free grace fashion, and let no Calamite hinder thee, sane or otherwise.

    By Blogger tjp, at 3/18/2007 7:28 PM  

  • jonathan moorhead: I, for one, am a died in the wool Arminalvinist.

    By Blogger Joe, at 3/18/2007 7:30 PM  

  • Bud,
    It is a little long to reprint here but I will leave the link to where I successfully showed in our debate that the only conclusion that can be drawn from Eph. 2:4-5 is that man must be made alive (regenerated) through God’s intervention before he can exercise saving faith. If God MUST intervene and do something, then faith is a gift since such faith would flow and result from God’s intervening action. Here is the link Faith is a gift

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 3/19/2007 10:12 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 10:24 AM  

  • If Paul explains faith and works as virtual opposites in God's eyes then how can one become the other? I'll suggest how. Some over enthusiastic theologian didn't know when to quit, and finally managed to form some contorted path of non-reasoning from one to the other. Probably out of the strong desire for it to be so.

    Though it is much more gratifying to talk about the relevant scripture itself.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 10:24 AM  

  • Todd,
    You must distinguish between justification and sanctification when you say faith and works are opposites. Works play no role in justification, but flow from a regenerated child of God in his sanctification (See Romans 8, Eph. 2:10 and many other places).

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 3/19/2007 10:32 AM  

  • Jazzycat,
    the only conclusion that can be drawn from Eph. 2:4-5 is that man must be made alive (regenerated) through God’s intervention before he can exercise saving faith.

    It doesn't say any of that Jazzy. It says we are 'alive together with Christ'. Where is the basis for the rest of your statement?

    We are alive together with Christ, because of grace and through our "having also believed". It clearly states, in whatever language you view it in, English or Greek, that 'salvation' is a gift 'through faith'.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 10:59 AM  

  • Todd,
    What Bible version are you using?
    ESV....
    Eph. 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved--
    KJV.....
    But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
    5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

    NIV.....
    4But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

    Todd, the made us alive comes while we were dead and it is God who does it. DEAD...God makes alive with Christ.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 3/19/2007 11:16 AM  

  • Jazzy,

    I see the different contexts but this post is concerning that boasting concerning ones justification not the sactification of the already regenerated believer through works, that you referred to. These two contexts/distinctions are two separate and individual principles of Paul's which are not one and the same.

    Of course, this isn't even the post, but the post to come will be concerning, in part at least as I understand it, the idea that responding to God with our own faith would give us cause to boast in our ability to save ourselves. That to me is a strange doctrine derived from scripture. The product of over-imaginative so-called theology. I regret having to say.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 11:17 AM  

  • Jazzy,
    I wholeheartedly agree. God does not simply put us in Christ though without anything else. We get there 'having believed'...by the gift of grace.

    All of that other stuff you mentioned is not in the verse.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 11:22 AM  

  • I'm using the New American Standard Version.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 11:24 AM  

  • Todd,
    The boasting thing is a different argument. Eph. 2:4-5 is a text that shows that God must intervene before a person can excercise faith. Hence, faith is a gift. God takes sinners dead in sin and makes them alive so they are able to respond. Dead is unresponsive, alive is responsive.

    Read the link I gave above....

    Eph. 2:4-5 NASV... 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ by grace you have been saved),

    What exactly dead means can be debated. However, this text clearly teaches that God must take action in order for a person to willingly come to faith. Apart from that action, man does not come to faith.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 3/19/2007 11:51 AM  

  • Jazzy,
    God takes sinners dead in sin and makes them alive so they are able to respond.

    No, I don't think it says this anywhere. He certainly gets the sinners attention in many different fashions, His Son, His word, even nature, but never says by regenerating them.

    However, this text clearly teaches that God must take action in order for a person to willingly come to faith.

    Meaning the Eph. 2:4-5

    Not even close Jazzy. The only clear message is simply what is says. This small passage teaches little more, in itself, than that with Christ we are alive. Because of God's rich mercy, love and grace.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 12:12 PM  

  • "Not even close Jazzy. The only clear message is simply what is says. This small passage teaches little more, in itself, than that with Christ we are alive. Because of God's rich mercy, love and grace."

    And what is the "clear message" of what it "simply says"? -

    But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ.

    God did the 'making'
    God did the 'raising'
    God did the 'seating'

    Seems to me that the passage teaches more than "with Christ we're alive."

    However, the point is as Jazzy has been saying - it is God who has done the initiating (and the work). What wonderful news for us!!! He graciously did it while we were yet sinners, dead, yes dead in our sins.

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/19/2007 12:51 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 1:02 PM  

  • Gayla,

    You went on to verse 6. We did not. Yes, the farther you read, the more it will say.

    However, the point is as Jazzy has been saying - it is God who has done the initiating (and the work).

    Yes, that's as Jazzy's been saying, however, we are dealing with what scripture is saying, and primarily Eph. 2:4-5 is saying.

    Where does it say anywhere in this text anything about God initiating anything?

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 1:07 PM  

  • Oops, sorry for going to verse 6. :)

    Ok, so God did the 'making.'

    After this comment, I think I'll be done for now. I do love a good discussion, no doubt, but there comes a time when we just go in circles and we cease to be very productive.

    Todd, I believe what the referenced Scripture is saying is, But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved.)


    I suppose I surmise that God did the initiating from the fact that the verse says He made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions.

    As I said above, this is really good news for us. THANK GOD He didn't leave us there.

    There are some really difficult & weighty texts in Scripture and, IMO, this just isn't one of them.

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/19/2007 1:47 PM  

  • Todd,
    You must deal with what the passage says rather than what you want it to say.

    As Gayla said....
    The passage says:
    1. "God" (The subject of the sentence)

    2. "Even when we were dead in our transgressions." (This is clearly unsaved people)

    3. "Made us alive together with Christ" (made unsaved sinners alive with Christ. He saved them by making them alive while they were still unsaved)

    Now if this message were found nowhere else in Scripture one might could gloss over and do a little creative exegesis to explain it away, but there are numerous passages that teach the same thing.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 3/19/2007 2:34 PM  

  • Jazzy,

    3. "Made us alive together with Christ" (made unsaved sinners alive with Christ. He saved them by making them alive while they were still unsaved)

    Yes, until your last sentence. Where do you get that? Not from the text. Not from any text.

    He saved them by making them alive while they were still unsaved)

    Why don't you just say that He saved them before they believed? That had better be what you're saying because what you said puts them in a saved and unsaved position at the same time. Is there a position like that?

    So He saved them before they believed?

    Because it doesn't say "those who believe" in the passage of verses 4-5.

    So you feel comfortable concluding that the Lord through Paul, and not mentioning 'belief' in these two verses, is saying, not 'those who believe', but is including, 'even those who do not believe'? In effect leaving belief (cancelling it out, nullifying it) completely out of this important principle of being in/with Christ?

    But he just several sentences before included "having also believed".

    But feel free not to believe it, and go off on your own speculative disagreement with this bit of scripture.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 3:07 PM  

  • Wow. I cannot possibly answer everything thrown out here. I have been reading the comments as they come in.
    I just have to say a couple of things, though ... some now and some later.

    Jazzy,
    Give me a break! In your last comment, your presentation eliminates faith altogether. It kind of reminds me of the so-called "golden chain." that some people like to present as a complete picture of the salvation process. There is no faith necessary at all, if you imagine that these passages, on their own, present a complete picture.

    I would suggest to you that rather than, as you say, someone is doing "creative exegesis to explain it away" perhaps "we" are missing something. ;~)

    It is an incomplete picture we have here in this verse that you are camping on.

    The Ephesians passage is not explaining all that happneded for conversion, is it? It doesn't mention the blood sacrifice of Christ, but we wouldn't suggest that His sacrifice wasn't necessary, would we? In the same way, it doesn't mention belief in the gospel, but from Paul's other writings, we know that faith is the vehicle, or the cruciple of that grace by which we are born again.

    What I see going on here is isolation of a text. You are implying that something (belief in the gospel) isn't a part of the process ... because this verse doesn't mention that something.

    There are people being made alive here, and Paul doesn't say whether they believed the gospel or not, does he? Yet, we know that Paul emphasized justification by faith in the gospel.

    This text does not teach "regeneration preseding faith" no matter how much YOU want it to.

    meow.

    As Gayla said:
    There are some really difficult & weighty texts in Scripture and, IMO, this just isn't one of them. It doesn't say anything about faith, therefore you can't teach that it is saying anything about "regeneration preceding faith."

    Very simple.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/19/2007 3:16 PM  

  • Todd,
    We were typing prit near the same thought at the same time. What do they call that?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/19/2007 3:18 PM  

  • Rose,
    I don't know but it's a good sign.

    And forgive me such a belated hello.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 3:47 PM  

  • Just to be clear, twas not I who said this part:

    "It doesn't say anything about faith, therefore you can't teach that it is saying anything about "regeneration preceding faith."

    Carry on...

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/19/2007 4:08 PM  

  • Hi Rose! (Thought I’d add some exuberance hehe)

    It would seem I’m the odd man out (as usual) in my understanding on regeneration. I don’t find the scriptural meaning to be of the same usage as in Systematic Theology. I do not find regeneration to mean or assure new life but rather to be a partial explanation of the grace whereby we are saved. With this view in mind I would say that regeneration precedes new life, as does faith, but that neither one apart from the other insures it.

    By Blogger Kc, at 3/19/2007 7:07 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 7:37 PM  

  • kc,
    Can you help us understand your view on regeneration preceding new life?

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 7:41 PM  

  • Rose I hope you won't mind me posting a link.

    Todd this is a short article that gives my basic understanding. I would appreciate your critique.

    http://justsoyouallknow.blogspot.com/2007/03/regeneration.html

    By Blogger Kc, at 3/19/2007 7:53 PM  

  • KC,
    Interesting article.

    “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”
    Titus 3:5 (KJV)


    Since we generally regard the action of water washing(maybe I'm assuming here) as being the activity of the Spirit(such as the 'washing of water by the Word'and such like, to me, refers to the indwelling Spirit in action), I see the passage as referring to the activity of the Spirit. Since we know that the things in the passage are what the Spirit does to us after we recieve It, upon faith, I look at the passage as referring to that.

    In the passage, I see His mercy as being in the form of providing a Savior, as opposed to mercy from earning it through some other unsatisfactorily righteous way or from prewashing or regenerating us to prepare us to recieve Him, or believe in Him, or recieve the Spiit. I take mercy as sealing us with His Spirit upon believing.

    It's an interesting concept you have that regeneration would prepare us to have faith, but I don't see that myself.

    Anyway I see what you're getting at and this is a quick reply. It's a thought provoking article so maybe I'll say more over there after thinking some more. And thanks vey much for helping me understand your view KC.

    Like I tried to say, I didn't have time to try and satisfactorily understand it so I drop by again.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/19/2007 9:09 PM  

  • Todd and Rose,
    I have been trying to remain brief and I was assuming that it was understood that when God regenerates a sinner by making him alive, saving faith flows from that as Jesus said in John 6:65 (No one can come to me unless the Father draws him). Verses 1-5 does not give all the details and v. 8-9 gives more about how faith fits in. However, we can glean from verses 1-5 that sinners are dead in sin, unsaved, and God takes action and makes them alive with Christ which leads to them come to faith and be saved. There is a process in these five verses where sinners go from being lost to being saved due to God taking a unilateral action. Verse 4-5 specifically states that it a result of what God does.

    To say that I am implying that salvation comes without faith is absurd. Jesus saves sinners is a correct statement. Grace, faith, the atonement, etc. are all part of the particulars of salvation. Each and every verse does not give all the particulars, but that does not discredit the truth they contain. John 6:47 that FG advocates love to quote is a truth, but it does not give all the details. Whether you believe it or not please consider that I and others believe that regeneration enables sinners to willingly, due to their changed heart, come to saving faith in Christ. Regeneration comes with power in our view and accomplishes it’s purpose. A regeneration that comes after saving faith would be like taking medicine after one is well.

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 3/19/2007 9:35 PM  

  • Rose, thanks so much for allowing us the space for discussion.

    Todd, thank you for taking the time to read and for your review. To clarify, I don’t find the actions detailed in Titus to enable us to believe. I consider it an overview of the process that God uses to reveal the truth in us and once revealed, we are commanded to believe the Holy Spirit testimony. I look forward very much to any further thoughts you might have.

    By Blogger Kc, at 3/19/2007 10:18 PM  

  • Jazzy,

    Call me a litle slow but I couldn't figure out what v.1-5 you're talking about. I'm pretty sure that you're referring to other verses in John 6. Those on the drawing and calling and coming and beholding, raising, casting away, etc. They are wide open to be given a variety of meanings so we must rest on what they express to us directly and not conjecture any further because the whole picture will not be known there. We can't know Jazzy. Sorry. Jesus is dialogueing with the Jews in John 6, throwing many things at them that He chose not to fully explain. Any arguement with that? He kept it simple. You've morphed it, apparently, into a complex doctrine. No can do. The doctrine sounds great at face value and will find plenty of takers though so you'll never be lonely. It's just poor exegesis. Unnecessary for anything except quenching our desire to know what god has chosen to not fully explain.

    Whether you believe it or not please consider that I and others believe that regeneration enables sinners to willingly, due to their changed heart, come to saving faith in Christ.

    We believe it. I believe it anyway. For the last two years, that I know of, you've been busy constantly making that known. Without scripture saying it though that lack of clarity makes it dangerous to embrace. I would have to accept the scripture that supports it, and reject other scripture refutes it. And that's poor workmanship. Such scripture that says the gospel is open to all men, scripture that says men are dead in their sins and can and are expected look to God on their own accord if they want to avoid destruction. Scripture that says God has hardened a few, for specific purpose, but that generally men are in an unhardened state at risk of satan hardening their heart or even hardening their own hearts. I would have to deny these clear statements in scripture.

    My responsibility is to look at scripture and gain an understanding that's consistent with it's basic message. What it says explicitly. Not head into the unfathomable depths and start to quarrel about things we can't know for sure.

    "God takes action and makes them alive with Christ which leads to them come to faith and be saved."

    You put people alive with Christ before they come to faith. That's unsupportable. If not worse.


    To say that I am implying that salvation comes without faith is absurd.

    There, that's the word I was looking for, absurd. You place people alive with Christ before faith and that is absurd.

    You refuse to believe it.

    Your doctrine above is more one of bold empty statements.

    Look at our exchange above. The suggestions you make of Eph. 2:4-5 are equally as absurd. You are clearly mistaken here in the following:

    "the only conclusion that can be drawn from Eph. 2:4-5 is that man must be made alive (regenerated) through God’s intervention before he can exercise saving faith."

    There is nothing in that verse that says anything of the sort. Clearly or even remotely.

    You want to believe what you want to believe.

    A regeneration that comes after saving faith would be like taking medicine after one is well.

    Then let scripture clear it up for you. Look at how consistent the followng is with the attached scriptural suggestions:

    Christ is the Doctor, you listen and obey Him and take His slip up to the drug store counter, your medicine is the gospel, you take it, and regeneration is the cure.

    -Christ is the Doctor(I Am),

    -you listen and obey Him and take His slip up to the drug store counter(His feet or His word),

    -your medicine(My Word is Truth)

    -is the gospel(the Way).

    -you take it and regeneration(God's spirit)

    -is the cure.

    Now you give me one according to your view Jazzy.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/20/2007 10:55 AM  

  • Jazzycat, you've ripped Ephesians 2:4-5 from its context. Back up to 1:13 and you will see that it is AFTER they heard the word that they trusted in Christ.

    Ephesians 1:13 "In whom ye also trusted, AFTER that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise," (emphasis added)

    Faith is the basis of our trust and once we trust we are sealed with the holy spirit of promise. I.e., we are born again. This coincides with John 1:12.

    Then we see in Ephesians 2:1 that those whom he has quickened are those who have put their trust (faith) in the Lord. Vs. 4-5 show us that He loved us even when we were dead in our sins and again states that He has quickened us and v 8 shows that we are saved by grace through FAITH. So faith comes before salvation.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 1:20 PM  

  • Bobby Grow: "it all depends on how you define sin, and how that impacts your definition of an biblical anthropology. I believe sin is best captured by Augustine's def. of privation (negatively) and self-love (positively). Until God provides His greater affection (I Jn 4:19), which breaks in on our self-affection, we will remain in bondage. The response to God's love, is to respond back to Him in love--which is to "choose" Him. Once God discloses Himself to someone, the response is "free", but it is free within the space that God's love creates--and the "response" of that person will be to love God back. That's why I've come to conclude the infra election that I have.

    How do you define sin, and an biblical anthropology?
    "

    I "think" I know what you're asking. If I've misunderstood you, please steer me in the proper direction.

    I think sin is simply disobedience to God. We are born sinners and we have dead spirits; therefore, we are not righteous no matter how "good" we think we are. Our righteousness is as filthy rags. We have no ability to have a relationship with God because of sin.

    God loves us all and calls us all, but not all will respond to His call. Not because they cannot, but because they will not, and only God knows why those who will not do not. We may be able to glean some sort of indicaiton as to why through one's actions and/or words, but only God knows the heart.

    Bobby Grow: "Until God provides His greater affection (I Jn 4:19), which breaks in on our self-affection, we will remain in bondage. The response to God's love, is to respond back to Him in love--which is to "choose" Him."

    I really don't believe that we have to first love God before we "choose" to believe His word and trust Him for salvation. I believe that love comes after we have been born again.

    I believe God knows from the beginning who will and will not receive His word, but He gives us all the chance to do so.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 1:57 PM  

  • Dawn: "I believe God knows from the beginning who will and will not receive His word, but He gives us all the chance to do so."

    But Dawn, if this is the case, then, in essence, there still remains a predestined number of people who will be saved. The same argument used against the reformed position can be used here, in reverse.

    It's not much of a real 'chance' is it - since God already knows their fate. Nor is it very 'loving' of God, is it, to allow these people to be born, all the while knowing they're not going to choose Him.

    It's so much more than simple foreknowledge.

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/20/2007 2:22 PM  

  • KC,
    Always a pleasure.

    TJP,
    Thanks for visitng.

    Joe,
    Good to see you around again!

    Thanks everyone!

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/20/2007 2:50 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/20/2007 3:02 PM  

  • Hi Rose, this is to anyone concerned,

    I often wonder...

    God has left Himself so many options...

    He's set His creation in motion with complete sovereignty.

    He's can influence it in so many ways.


    He foreknows how He will have things turn out.

    He foreknows how He will have things turn out, with total freedom to let come what may, or influence as He may, in between His deciding and the playing out of the things He's decided, as long as they turn out in the way that He's decided ahead of time that He wants them to.

    By foreknowing, His mind is made up, and He can exert constant control to guide things exactly according to His foreknowing what outcome He wants.

    I'm not sure He talks anywhere in His word about predestining anything but the outcome.

    Things set unchangeable from the beginning? no, but simply the outcome is unchangeable.

    He's promised certain things, and revealed how certain other things will go already, so that will not change, but he has total freedom to improvise in the meantime, to get to His chosen predesired outcome.

    Could He not foreknow one thing, like whether an individual will look to Him or not, and then influence that individual differently, to see what an individual chooses to do then?

    There are so many possibilities and options He has regarding foreknowing and predetermning.

    But what I am going to suggest is that "don't some Reformed sort of limit the concepts of foreknowing and predetermining more than scripture does? and narrow the implications down more than may really be?

    I really think many of them do.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/20/2007 3:22 PM  

  • Here was my heart-felt reaction to a sermon I heard recently at the Ligonier Conference. I don't spend a lot of time writing on this issue... for a variety of reasons. But it is my simple contribution to the discussion.

    Dr. MacArthur's Theodicy

    By Blogger John R., at 3/20/2007 4:00 PM  

  • Gayla: "But Dawn, if this is the case, then, in essence, there still remains a predestined number of people who will be saved."

    Right. I've never said that I do not believe in predestination. It's just that I don't believe in it in the same way that the Calvinist does. I believe in a limited atonement, but not the way a Calvinist believes it.

    Gayla: "It's not much of a real 'chance' is it - since God already knows their fate. Nor is it very 'loving' of God, is it, to allow these people to be born, all the while knowing they're not going to choose Him."

    Yes, it was a real "chance" for God did not withhold His grace from these people, ever. I agree that it is still a mystery, but they did have a chance.

    Gayla: "It's so much more than simple foreknowledge."

    I do not understand what you're saying here. Please explain.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 4:17 PM  

  • Todd, I think you and I see it much the same way. God knows the beginning from the end. It is a mixture of His foreknowledge and His determination. He knows how we'll react to certain situations. He knows how we'll pray and how we'll react to the way He answers our prayers whether it's yes, yes but not now, yes but not the way you think, or no. He knows all. Nothing that happens is beyond His control. He's allowed for cause and effect. In His sovereignty, he's allowed us a certain amount of freedom.

    I don't know how it all works, but I don't have to. :-)

    Todd: "But what I am going to suggest is that "don't some Reformed sort of limit the concepts of foreknowing and predetermining more than scripture does? and narrow the implications down more than may really be?

    I really think many of them do.
    "

    Those are my sentiments exactly!

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 4:32 PM  

  • Yeah Dawn,
    We love to finish God's sentences when it come to foreknowledge and the predestination of things. Seems to me. And we love our theologians that sanction it and encourage it.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/20/2007 6:35 PM  

  • Todd,
    The v. 1-5 reference is to Eph. 2:1-5 and the v. 8-9 is also Eph. 2. Going back in the thread I had been discussing this passage.

    There seems to have been a disconnect in this whole discussion for which I share a large part of the blame.

    However, I do not think I should have to affirm justification by faith every time I mention regeneration being the root cause of faith happening in a person.

    Since their seems to be much confusion on it let me state again..............
    Regeneration enables a spiritually dead sinner to willingly come to faith in Jesus Christ. Prior to regeneration he is unable to do so. I think Eph. 2:1-5 teaches this.

    I fully understand that those that disagree have to skip around to other verses to discount what Eph. 2:1-5 is stating....

    By Blogger jazzycat, at 3/20/2007 6:35 PM  

  • Jazzy,
    "Regeneration enables a spiritually dead sinner to willingly come to faith in Jesus Christ. Prior to regeneration he is unable to do so. I think Eph. 2:1-5 teaches this."

    Where's the act of regeneration in Eph 2:1-5 preceeding the faith.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/20/2007 6:56 PM  

  • Hey John Rush,
    It is really neat to know that you still drop by occasionally.
    Thanks for visiting. I enjoyed your post. My brother went to that conference as well. I don't think his reaction was the same as yours. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/21/2007 7:57 AM  

  • Jazzy,
    "Since their seems to be much confusion on it let me state again..............
    Regeneration enables a spiritually dead sinner to willingly come to faith in Jesus Christ. Prior to regeneration he is unable to do so. I think Eph. 2:1-5 teaches this.


    "I fully understand that those that disagree have to skip around to other verses to discount what Eph. 2:1-5 is stating...."

    I think if you would stop asserting what you cannot support about Eph. 2:4-5 then the confusion would go away.

    Pointing the finger at others is not an exegesis.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 8:45 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/21/2007 1:05 PM  

  • Jazzy: "I fully understand that those that disagree have to skip around to other verses to discount what Eph. 2:1-5 is stating...."

    No we don't have to skip around to other verses to discount what you are trying to make Ephesians 2:1-5 say. We're doing what we're supposed to do and that is to read these verses in their contexts. Paul did not start out his letter with the words beginning in Ephesians 2.

    Before Paul wrote this epistle to the Ephesians he had visited them on several occasions and had even on one of the visits stayed and taught them for three years, so I’m sure they knew exactly what Paul was trying to convey. Paul was most certainly building on the foundation he had previously laid.

    In Ephesians 2, Paul is simply stating what we were before we were made alive through the Spirit of God and what we are after the Spirit gives us new life. All throughout the bible it teaches that FAITH is the catalyst for salvation. Ephesians 2:1-5 is not teaching that faith is given once we are born again.

    Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"

    Romans 5:1-2 "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

    Romans 10:9-11 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed."

    All emphasis added to the scripture

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/21/2007 1:11 PM  

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