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

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why Does One Believe and Another Doesn't?

(from the series: Questions Calvinists Ask)

Why doesn’t everyone believe and receive when they hear the gospel? Certain people like to say that the reason lies with God’s sovereignty. His answer is very simple: because God doesn't give them faith ... because He has not elected them. God does not choose the person to have faith and therefore he does not believe. These have tried to stump others who don’t believe this way by asking the question, “Why does one believe and another doesn’t?”

This question comes up a lot! If a non-Calvinist doesn't have an answer to this question, then it is implied that we have had our legs cut out from under us. Well, I have an answer: There are many reasons and I don't know them all. What a concept!

I say the reasons are as complex and various as the snowflakes. Each person is made up many experiences, many passions, many sins, different family backgrounds, etc… To understand why one responds to the gospel and another doesn’t, you would have to be able to analyze a person’s whole life and soul. I believe it is just that complex. When a lost person won’t receive Christ, the “Doctrines of Grace” advocate likes to simplify it and blame it on God. He has just one reason … but … there are many reasons. To be able to answer this question, I would have to be God Himself!

Here are some other thoughts on this question:
__________
Matthew says:
Why do some people choose to keep to the speed limit and others do not?Why are some men faithful to their wives and others not?Why are some people willing to listen to the opinions of others and others preferring to be ignorant and obstinate?I think we can safely put the question of why some believe along with those questions.There are many factors at work that result in some people choosing certain actions over others. There are many reasons why a person may become open to the message of the Gospel (dissatisfaction with life, uncertainty about death, guilt over behaviour, breakdown of relationships etc).
________
KC says:
We agree the scripture is the only authoritative source for finding our answer and that our understanding is invalid if it fails to satisfy the scripture but unfortunately it is philosophy that frames both our approach and our interpretation. A prime example is in the approach we each use to answer this question. Presupposing that God determines all things you would search to see what God would add in a man that he might believe. My presupposition being that, though God has established our boundaries, He created each of us in accordance with His will that all men be saved having all we would need to obey His command and that it is not God who adds rebellion in a man but man himself. While God most surely created the vessel, He did not ordain that it be filled with wrath and fit for destruction. I would then find that it is not a thing God adds that allows a man to believe, but a thing a man adds that would cause him to reject the truth, namely pride in its various forms. Does God move that we might be saved? Absolutely ... and it is He alone who can save us, but as you already pointed out, there is no record where He saved anyone who rejected His Christ, His salvation.
______

So Why Does One Believe and Another Doesn't? The reasons are various, but they lie within each person. God searches the hearts and minds, He knows. I don't need to know. It is OK not to know.

101 Comments:

  • Thanksyou for quoting me.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 3/17/2007 12:18 PM  

  • To Matthew's questions,I guess the short answer would be that the cause is our inherent sin nature.

    As to people who are obedient types who are nevertheless lost, I guess I'd say that we all have some ability to adhere to laws and rules. It seems as though God restrains us from being as evil as we could be, that He has bestowed a measure of grace and mercy on creation as a whole.

    I certainly agree that there are factors at work in influencing us in our choices. I don't think we have a will that is completely neutral, free from any influence at all.

    But since the Bible tells us that no one seeks after God, no one understands, no one does good (Rom 3), and that we're dead in our sin and trespasses, we won't (and are unable to) become open to the gospel of our own accord.

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/17/2007 1:16 PM  

  • OK Rose. I let about 10 minutes pass after I signed off the last posting before taking up this one. All the dust has settled :-)

    Here's my tuppence worth. Those who believe do so "through grace" (Acts 18:27) which is evidently more than a general kind of grace. It must be more, because if everyone has it, then the fact that everyone doesn't "use it" shows how weak it is.

    The Bible holds those who won't believe responsible for unbelief: John 3:18/3:36/5:40 etc., I have never yet heard a Calvinist "blame it on God" but put the blame where it rightly belongs: on the wicked, sinful, stubborness of the sinner.
    We always must come back to the idea that God does not owe the sinner anything. While, doctrinally, we can talk about God withholding saving faith, yet pastorally and evangelistically, we must follow the emphasis of Scripture. The Sovereignty of God AND the responsibility of man are two parallel truths that must be BOTH carefully maintained in order to be balanced.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/17/2007 1:22 PM  

  • 'So Why Does One Believe and Another Doesn't? The reasons are various, but they lie within each person. God searches the hearts and minds, He knows. I don't need to know. It is OK not to know.'

    But Rose, if you say that the reasons for some believing and others not believing are found within the persons, then you are necessarily claiming that some people, for whatever reasons (genetic, environmental), are more receptable to the gospel than others are...

    But this is not the claim the non-Determinist wants to make, for this is unfair. There needs to be an equal playing field and all people must be equally receptable to the gospel. If all people are not then it is not fair as they could not choose. If the reason they do not believe is found within themselves, and they cannot help the way they are, then they are unequally treated.

    By Blogger sofyst, at 3/17/2007 6:42 PM  

  • Acts 7:51

    By Anonymous Bud, at 3/17/2007 10:39 PM  

  • Rose, you have stated my sentiments exactly. And I do mean exactly.

    All throughout scripture, God searches the hearts. What for if there were no reason? Are our hearts evil? Yes, but we are not left to our own devices. The grace of God is ever present and he is ever calling us to Him. The entire bible shows us this love of God for mankind.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 12:32 PM  

  • Gayla, Paul is talking to the Jews and letting them know that just because they are Jews doesn't mean that they are exempt from sin. He's showing them that the Jews are not better than the Gentiles and then quotes from the Psalms.

    Romans 3:9 "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;"

    Psalm 14 & 53 show that the Jews had turned their backs on God where they once had served Him, and no one was seeking Him and no one was obeying the Lord.

    Being dead in trespasses and sin does not mean that we are incapable of responding to the gospel. Where do the scriptures specifically state this? If you are going to apply this analogy of incapability to someone dead IN sin, then you must also apply the analogy to someone who is born of God and is dead TO sin. And we all know that being born again does not exempt us from sin.

    We are all capable to respond to the gospel, but the bible says that we WILL NOT. It does not say that we CANNOT. We are all born as dead men walking unless and until we receive the gospel and become born again.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 12:50 PM  

  • Goodnight: "Here's my tuppence worth. Those who believe do so "through grace" (Acts 18:27) which is evidently more than a general kind of grace. It must be more, because if everyone has it, then the fact that everyone doesn't "use it" shows how weak it is."

    Acts 18:27-28 "And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ." (emphasis added)

    As you have stated, the weakness is with the creature, not the Creator's grace. When Paul says "through grace" he is showing the reader that these men (vs 28) were shown through the word that Jesus is the Christ. They believed that word and received salvation through grace by faith. Where do you get that these men were specially sought out by God and that this same grace is not offered to all men?

    Goodnight: "While, doctrinally, we can talk about God withholding saving faith, yet pastorally and evangelistically, we must follow the emphasis of Scripture."

    The only time God withholds saving faith is when one rejects His word. The sinner is fully capable of both receiving or rejecting His word. That is where God's sovereignty comes into play. He chooses to save those whom receive His word and not save those whom reject His word.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 1:16 PM  

  • Sofyst: "But Rose, if you say that the reasons for some believing and others not believing are found within the persons, then you are necessarily claiming that some people, for whatever reasons (genetic, environmental), are more receptable to the gospel than others are..."

    Speaking for myself, everyone is equally ABLE to receive the gospel, but for whatever reason choose not to. It is because THEY have hardened their own hearts from the beginning.

    Sophyst: "But this is not the claim the non-Determinist wants to make, for this is unfair. There needs to be an equal playing field and all people must be equally receptable to the gospel. If all people are not then it is not fair as they could not choose. If the reason they do not believe is found within themselves, and they cannot help the way they are, then they are unequally treated."

    There is nothing unfair about it. All people ARE equally able to receive the gospel. Whether they've experienced adversity most of their lives or have been virtually adversity free does not necessarily make them more or less receptive to the gospel. It is up to each person as to how they react to their individual situations when it comes to accepting or rejecting the gospel. We make our own choices and those choices have consequences.

    Maybe Rose can do a better of job of explaining this.

    Where is the "fairness" in God's choosing one over another without equally giving man a choice to choose?

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 2:56 PM  

  • Acts 7:51 "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."

    Bud, what are you trying to say here? I think I know, but would like to hear what you have to say.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 3:00 PM  

  • Hi Rose. Sorry that I didn't greet you in the beginning.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 3:06 PM  

  • I was just offering one answer to the question about why some don't believe. They don't believe because they actively suppress the ministry of the Holy Spirit, much like those mentioned in Romans 1:18-20 suppress God's general revelation.

    That's all.

    Also gives lie to the R'd doctrine of "irresistible grace."

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/18/2007 3:49 PM  

  • Acts 7:51

    Amen Bud!

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 5:30 PM  

  • Rose:

    Dawn: I 'll come back to your comments when I get time tomorrow.

    Bud: To say that Acts 7:51 "Also gives lie to the R'd doctrine of "irresistible grace." can only be true,if Calvinists denied that nobody can resist the Holy Spirit. Can you produce me quotations from *any* representative Calvinist commentator or theologian who takes that position? I'll stick my neck out on this one and say that you can't. On the other hand, I can show you from any of the various commentaries etc., the standard Calvinistic belief that man can and does resist God.

    "He [Stephen] purposeth to take from the Jews all color of excuse; and, therefore, he upbraideth unto them, that they had purposely, and not of ignorance, resisted God." (Calvin on this very verse)

    Rose: Looking forward to your comments on these things.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/18/2007 6:04 PM  

  • Dawn said, "Gayla, Paul is talking to the Jews and letting them know that just because they are Jews doesn't mean that they are exempt from sin. He's showing them that the Jews are not better than the Gentiles and then quotes from the Psalms."

    Actually, Paul is addressing the saints, aka, Christians, aka beloved, as stated in Rom 1:7 - "...to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints..." His letter is written to the saints in Rome; that is his audience.

    I agree with you - that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin (as stated by Paul in 3:11)

    In Psalm 14:1-3, which Paul is quoting, David is lamenting the moral corruption of the entire human race - They have ALL turned aside, NO ONE seeks after God, NO ONE understands. There's no indication that either David or Paul is speaking only of the Jews.

    "Being dead in trespasses and sin does not mean that we are incapable of responding to the gospel." Really?

    "Where do the scriptures specifically state this?"

    Specifically from the meaning of the word, 'dead.' -

    nekros
    nek-ros'
    From an apparently primary word νέκυς nekus (a corpse); dead (literally or figuratively; also as noun): - dead.

    Dead, by definition, means you are rendered incapable. And what do dead people need? Life. And who makes us alive in Christ? God.

    Eph 2:4-5 - 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)

    "If you are going to apply this analogy of incapability to someone dead IN sin, then you must also apply the analogy to someone who is born of God and is dead TO sin. And we all know that being born again does not exempt us from sin."

    OK.

    Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. ~Romans 6:11

    No, we're not 'exempt' from sin, but as new creations, having the Spirit of God living in us, we are now capable of obdience to God. And you can see the exhortation of Paul in the above verse.

    "We are all capable to respond to the gospel, but the bible says that we WILL NOT. It does not say that we CANNOT.

    And now I will ask you - can you supply any references to show what you're asserting? (keeping in mind that I do agree with you that we 'will not' respond -on our own initiative)

    Thanks for the dialogue. :)

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/18/2007 6:29 PM  

  • Gayla: "Actually, Paul is addressing the saints, aka, Christians, aka beloved, as stated in Rom 1:7 - "...to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints..." His letter is written to the saints in Rome; that is his audience."

    Yes, the entire church at Rome is his audience, but I had always seen Paul as addressing the Jews in most of his letter to Rome (while at the same time teaching both Jew and Gentile) and at times addressing the Gentiles as well.

    Gayla: "In Psalm 14:1-3, which Paul is quoting, David is lamenting the moral corruption of the entire human race - They have ALL turned aside, NO ONE seeks after God, NO ONE understands. There's no indication that either David or Paul is speaking only of the Jews."

    You may be right that David and Paul are speaking of ALL of mankind. I've gone back and forth about these passages in my own mind. The reason I was leaning toward David specifically talking of Israel was because it had said these people had "gone aside" and had "turned back" implying that they'd once served God. So, to me, the heathen already do not seek God, but it was teaching that EVEN the Jews were no longer seeking God. Therefore, NO ONE at that time was seeking God.

    My point: This does not mean that we are incapable of seeking God. I would agree, if God's grace were not ever present upon this earth we would not be capable of seeking God.

    Gayla: "Dead, by definition, means you are rendered incapable. And what do dead people need? Life. And who makes us alive in Christ? God.

    "No, we're not 'exempt' from sin, but as new creations, having the Spirit of God living in us, we are now capable of obdience to God. And you can see the exhortation of Paul in the above verse.
    "

    Absolutely we need life and that life is given us by God through Jesus. And I agree that we are fully able to obey the word of God once we've been born again.(Remember that we can obey much of the word even when we're not born again. Right?) However, "if dead, by definition, means we are rendered incacapable," then please explain why we are still capable of sinning if we are dead to sin. (Romans 6:2,11)

    Dawn: "We are all capable to respond to the gospel, but the bible says that we WILL NOT. It does not say that we CANNOT."

    Gayla: "And now I will ask you - can you supply any references to show what you're asserting? (keeping in mind that I do agree with you that we 'will not' respond -on our own initiative)"

    Since we agree that we "will not" respond on our own initiative, but rather it requires the grace of God (Romans 1), please provide scripture that states we CANNOT respond to the gospel unless God grants that response.

    Gayla: "Thanks for the dialogue. :)"

    You're welcome.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/18/2007 8:30 PM  

  • Sigh.

    I find it frustrating that the same, tired and false expositions of the meaning of "dead" continue to be circulated.

    Gayla, you are assuming that nekros in Ephesians means the rough semantic equivalent of "the unregenerate are like rocks, incapable of repsonding to God." This is Westminster Calvinism nonsense, and it is patently false.

    If you examine the lexicography and actual usage of the word in the OT, it does not mean "insensate, unaware, incapable of responding."

    This is easily demonstrated by considering God's warning to Adam in the Garden. In Genesis 2 the Lord used a peculiar Hebrew form known as a hendiadys - a very strong and powerful form which is variously transated as "dying you shall die" or "you will most certainly die."

    The key to understanding the meaning of the mOt tamUt in Genesis is to observe what actually happened to Adam on that day.

    He was not rendered insensate, unaware and incapable of responding to God. Not at all, for in his unregenerate state, before the animals were slain to provide cover, Adam confessed his sin albeit begrudgingly.

    This in itself proves that the "dead" are capable of responding to God, in their "dead" state.

    What happened to Adam in that day? If you evaluate the outworking of his disobedience, Adam suffered the destruction of a number of relationships. The relationship between Adam and God was corrupted. The relationship between Adam and Eve was corrupted. The realtionship between Adam and the created universe was corrupted. Eventually the relationship betwen Adam's rational spirit and physical body was corrupted.

    When approached from the perspective of biblical theology rather than systematic theology, there is a clearly demonstrable field of meaning for the word "dead" which means "a severed relationship." That in fact is the preferred meaning for what Adam experienced, and for what Adam distributed to his descendants.

    That was Paul's point in Ephesians; not that they cannot respond to God, but that the Lord undertook their salvation when they were alienated from him.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/18/2007 8:53 PM  

  • Gayla, it is impossible to explain why some people do not commit certain sins except by the exercise of the will.

    Of course that men are able to choose a wise course of behaviour makes it difficult to see why they cannot do things to seek God (which they often appear to do).

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 3/19/2007 5:06 AM  

  • Dawn: Read what Acts 18:27 *actually* says. It doesn't say that "They believed that word and received salvation through grace by faith" as you interpret it. It says that they "believed through grace" and (we know) that such grace derived faith led them to receive salvation. The emphasis of the text is on the grace that produced the faith.

    That these folk were especially sought out by God is drawn from other Scriptures. They were "especially sought out" in the same manner that all the elect of God are "especially sought out" - they were individually the "one sheep" whom the Good Shepherd set out to find, rescue and bring safely home. When it comes to the purpose of God, there can be no failure on God's part (unless we want a God who has failure, disappointment and frustration as attributes) It cannot be said that Christ *purposed* to seek and to save those who finally make it to hell, for the very same reason.

    Noting carefully your wording, the issue is not whether this same grace is *offered* to all men, but whether it is *applied* to all men. I note from the Scriptures that the gospel is to be preached indiscriminately to every last person, and we seek to do that by various means, but the *application* of gospel grace is in the hands of God and He effectually gives it to whomsoever He will, usually through the means of evangelism.

    You wrote: *The only time God withholds saving faith is when one rejects His word.* I agree, but only to a point. What of those who have never heard His word? You query in another post *"Where is the "fairness" in God's choosing one over another without equally giving man a choice to choose?"* History alone shows that men have not had an equal choice - are you still going to charge God with injustice? The sinner, certainly in and of himself, is capable of rejecting the word of God. His capability of receiving the Scriptures is God given. Again, he believes through grace. God's sovereignty comes into play long before the sinner decides one way or the other. Those who received His word were sovereignly chosen to do so. Those who do not receive His word were sovereignly left to perish *in their sins.* Please note the emphasis of the last part of that sentence: left to perish *in their sins.*

    Good morning Rose: It is not for me to set your agenda for you. (God forbid, as the AV would put it.) This matter of the unreached heathen both of the OT and every generation since keeps raising its head as we debate these issues. Is God unjust if He does not treat men equally, especially in this matter of salvation?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/19/2007 6:51 AM  

  • Colin,

    I'm not going to supply any quotes from a Calvinistic commentator in re: Acts 7:51 because it is not germane to the case in hand.

    The Calvinist lie to which I referred was in the matter of Irresistible grace, the refutation of which is clearly evident in Acts 7:51.

    Why would you think I would waste my time searching for a Calvinist commentator's statement on that verse to the effect that Acts 7:51 clearly refutes his preconceived condition?

    It is ridiculous that you would ask for such a position.

    But I will supply you with this quote which, in the words of a Calvinist himself, proves that Calvinism is dogma rather than exegetically derived doctrine. In the mind of all Calvinists, their doctrine is "fixed" and no longer debatable.

    As proof I give you Paul Helm, whom every Calvinist believes to have soundly refuted R. T. Kendall's thesis about Calvin's view of faith and the extent of the atonement.

    On page 2 Helm writes, It was held that Luther, Calvin and other Reformers had established from the Scriptures certain unassailable positions...

    This is obviously a short extract, and if you are interested you can read the entire thing in context, but the point is clear - Calvinism is a system which in the minds of its adherents is "unassaible" and beyond the criticism of biblical exegesis and biblical theology.

    Rational discourse is no longer possible if Calvinism is questioned in any way.

    So it is absurd of you to ask me to cite a Calvinist who holds a divergent view of Acts 7:51!

    As to your contention that the WCG does not teach that men are insensate and like rocks, I am astounded! It is clear from the WCF that the unregenerate are completely incapable of responding to God in faith, that the "gift of faith" must be conveyed with their regeneration, and that at that moment they are given a "belieivng nature" (my words, not Calvinism's).

    Are you really going to hold to that position? If so, it is easily refuted - by the words of the prominent Calvinists themselves, and by the WCF which I shall be glad to quote.

    But first let me make sure that that is what you are actually saying.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/19/2007 8:34 AM  

  • Bud: "Gayla, you are assuming that neros in Ephesians means the rough semantic equivalent of "the unregenerate are like rocks, incapable of repsonding to God." This is Westminster Calvinism nonsense, and it is patently false."

    No. No, I'm not assuming that. I'm using the Greek (Strong's) word for dead as used for that word in that verse. No need to assume when I can look it up for myself.

    It's interesting to note that the same people (in general - I've not read enough of your stuff, Bud, to know if you do this) who argue and insist that the text 'means what it says,' i.e. all means all, and world means every single person in it - would now argue that dead doesn't mean lifeless.

    ...the Lord undertook their salvation when they were alienated from him.

    I completely agree.

    Matthew: "Gayla, it is impossible to explain why some people do not commit certain sins except by the exercise of the will."

    I don't know that it's impossible Matthew. Do we not see God's, mercy and grace bestowed on the human race in many general ways?

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/19/2007 9:59 AM  

  • Bud: It is you that made the charge of a Reformed lie and, without relating what it was (something which you still haven’t done) tell us that Acts 7:51 refutes it. Working on a complete lack of information, I took a guess that you were getting at the common enough notion that Calvinists believe that men cannot resist the Holy Spirit (which is, after all, what Stephen in Acts 7:51 charged the Jews with.) This being, as I supposed, what you were getting at, I asked you to produce any Calvinist commentator or theologian on Acts 7:51 who taught this common notion. I supplied one quote from Calvin to show that it is blatantly untrue. Rather than have me play guessing games again, I can only ask you to substantiate your claim that Acts 7:51 exposes a Reformed lie in the matter of Irresistible Grace. I think you would need to state briefly (as it can done) the Calvin doctrine of Irresistible Grace and how Acts 7:51 exposes it as a lie. You made the allegation. You substantiate it.

    Re: the quotation above from Helm, what he *does* say is that the Reformers established *from the Scriptures* certain unassailable positions. Surely, every Christian can do that on many doctrines? If I claim to establish (say) the Trinity "from the Scriptures" as I debate JW's, then am I guilty of embracing a teaching that is "beyond the criticism of biblical exegesis and biblical theology?" I think not. Furthermore, the fact that Calvinists are prepared to come on comment pages like this, and debate the issues, shows that we are willing to be exposed to the searchlight of Scripture. Your fresh allegation would only have credence if we were unprepared to discuss these things. As it is, I am now pursuing you for the third time to show me how Acts 7:51 exposes the doctrine of Irresistible Grace as a lie. Question Calvinism if you want. However, we can only have a rational discourse if you stop the shadow boxing and get on with what you have to say.

    Re: the WCF, we have moved ground a little from your original allegation that the unregenerate cannot respond to God to the narrower idea that they cannot respond to God in faith. There are differences among Calvinists as to whether regeneration precedes faith or accompanies it. It is not something that I myself am clear about. I tend to run with the idea that regeneration precedes faith i.e. that the sinner whom the Spirit has savingly awakened will infallibly believe on Jesus Christ. On a practical level, when I preach the gospel, I preach that it is the commandment of God that all men believe to the saving of their souls and urge them to look immediately to Christ in faith and be saved. I have used the illustration before: I drive the car. I let others do the serious mechanicing.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/19/2007 10:15 AM  

  • "I don't know that it's impossible Matthew. Do we not see God's, mercy and grace bestowed on the human race in many general ways?"

    Yes, this explains how depraved people are able to do what is right. But it does not explain why some do some things that are right and others do not.

    One man may steal but not murder, while another man may never take the Lord's name in vain yet may commit adultery.

    God Bless

    Matthew

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

  • Colin;

    I have not "moved the ground a little" from my original allegation that the unregenerate cannot respond to God. It is a given in British Calvinism that the unregenerate are incapable of responding to God. My omission of the prepositional phrase "in faith" is readily understood as an ellipsis in the context of these conversations.

    Although you know this, I will for the sake of those who are unaware of this fact, cite the WCF in this regard. Chapter IX "Of Free Will" paragraph 3 says, "Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation: so as, a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto."

    This has has developed into the doctrine of "total inability" and by it adherents of the WCF mean that the unregenerate cannot respond to God's offer in the gospel by believing it. The gospel, labelled the "outward general call extended to the elect and the non-elect" by the Westminster Calvinists, cannot bring about salvation of the unregenerate because men are incapable of responding. "They are of themselves unable and unwilling to forsake their evil ways and turn to Christ for mercy." This is a direct quote from pages 52-53 of Thomas and Steele's work, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended and Documented.

    On an aside, those of you who haven't figured it out yet, Calvinism reverses the order laid out in the New Testament; they teach that we are born again (= regeneration) so that we can believe!

    Given this is the context of our disagreement, I think it is unfair to assert that I have moved the ground by adding the phrase "in faith" when I responded to your response to my response to Gayla's misinterpretation of the meaning of nekros in Ephesians 2.

    Now, as to the matter of Irresistible Grace...

    Let's first clarify what this doctrine does (and does not) mean according to the Calvinists. It is, after all, their doctrine and they are entitled to frame it any way they like. The Reader's Digest version is that this doctrine does not state that every movement of the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted. It does state that the Holy Spirit is able to overcome all resistance in the case of those whom God has determined to salvation; they cannot but believe.

    If needed one could supply lengthy quotes from the WCF which prove that the "effectual call" - the semantic equivalent of the "irresistible grace" abbreviation - is regeneration imposed which serves as an enablement that those who have been been born again are rendered capable of believing. British Calvinism constructs a doctrine under which only those who have been quickened and renewed by the Holy spirit are able to embrace the grace offered by the gospel. The unregenerate, never having been made (or enabled, if you must) to freely come cannot be said to have actually resisted God's will. God's saving grace is irresistible only to those upon whom it has been imposed.

    The reprobate who are not "effectually called" (indeed, for whom Christ did not die) cannot reject the gospel call or resist the Holy Spirit because neither is offered to them. But for those to whom it is extended, the grace is not only irresistible, it is, as John MacArthur declares, inevitable. (Saved Without a Doubt, p. 61). This is MacArthur's echo of the Canons of Dort, III, IV:10.

    The point of all of this is that in both the WCF, the Canons, and in the modern interpretations thereof, there is no human freedom of the will to believe. Faith is not a human response to the gospel; it is imposed. As Paul Enns concludes in Moody Handbook of Theology, "Through irresistible grace God drew to Himself those whom He had elected, making them willing to respond." (p. 49)

    I can see that this has grown much longer than I had anticipated, so I'll have to leave it here for now. I've got a full plate today and several hundred people coming for tonight's training in preparation for our Easter Services.

    I'll try to follow this up later with my views on why the "I" is a false doctrine.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/19/2007 12:24 PM  

  • Matthew: "Yes, this explains how depraved people are able to do what is right. But it does not explain why some do some things that are right and others do not.

    One man may steal but not murder, while another man may never take the Lord's name in vain yet may commit adultery."


    I contend that it is still God - since He is the Creator and we are His creation - exercising His good pleasure to restrain whomever He wishes from being as evil as they're capable of being. (Remember the story of Abimelech, and God PREVENTING Him from having relations with Sarah, even though he was unaware she was Abraham's wife?)

    All sin, whether it's child molestation or taking the white-out from work, is an offense to a holy God and a belittlement of His Name. And I think it is our inherent sin nature that explains why one person murders his kids while another 'merely' tells a white lie.

    Also, 'doing the right thing' or adhering to some law or rule is only an example of being able to modify one's behavior; it certainly doesn't speak to the heart, which is evil all the time, says God.

    One more thing - all of our righteous deeds are like filthy rags, anyway, before our holy God. (Isa 64:6)

    OK, sorry to ramble so...

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/19/2007 1:12 PM  

  • Bud: All in your own good time. Today is a bank holiday in Ireland (St. Patrick's Day carried over from Saturday) and so I've obviously more time on my hands than you have, although I am sitting at a sermon here, yet without feeling any of the normal days' pressure. Your definition of irresistible grace seems kosher enough. Now, we just need to see how it is refuted by Acts 7:51 which you allege.

    Secondly, having access to the appropriate portion of the WCF, you should know that Calvinists do not believe that the elect sinner is forced into deciding for Christ or has it imposed upon him. The next paragraph to the one you quoted teaches that *grace* alone enables the sinner *freely* to will and to do that which is spiritually good. It is the critics of Calvinism who use words like "impose" etc., when Calvinists use words like "drawn" or "enabled." As with a critic in another comment page, I am not obliged to defend what I do not believe. Furthermore, your fresh charge (which, I suggest lengthens out the time it takes to reply to these matters) that faith is not a human response to the gospel is certainly not a Calvinistic concept. God doesn't believe for the sinner, but he does enable the sinner to believe. If God working in us both to will and to do His good pleasure negates our participation, then your problem is with the Apostle Paul who is extremely comfortable with such language in Philippians 2:13.

    Thirdly, you err in saying that the reprobate cannot reject the gospel or resist the Holy Spirit because it is not offered to them. It *is* offered to them, as demonstrated by the verse that "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14) Not all the called evidently come, for only the chosen few come (no matter how we view the grounds of God's choice) while the many hear the outward call. The preceding parable relates how those who refused to come were "bidden" and how they made excuse. An excuse (to quote Billy Sunday) is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. They had every *reason* to come because they were bidden to come by God and they snubbed the gospel. Again, it is you who is saying that reprobates cannot reject the gospel or resist the Holy Spirit because it is not offered to them. This is *not* a Calvinist concept. Indeed, we invoke Acts 7:51 as a proof text that they can and do reject the gospel.

    As said before, in your own good time. While I obviously don't appreciate everything you say, nor even your approach to this debate, I appreciate you taking the time to debate me on these matters.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/19/2007 1:20 PM  

  • Colin,

    Sorry, but I'm not buying your definition of what the WCF teaches. I'm well aware of the words they use, but "freely" in the WCF does not mean "unconstrained."

    Salvation in the Calvinist system is imposed.

    Calvinists are like politicians - they appear to give something with one hand, but then take it away with the other. This is a classic case in point.

    More on that later.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/19/2007 4:18 PM  

  • Bud! Another allegation :-)Imposed carries the thought of something unwanted e.g. an imposed tax. If this was the case, we would have a whole host of professing people in churches confessing that they are Christians against their will and that they would do anything to get out...if they could. I've never met one yet. BTW...this opens up a another thought. If you run with the "once saved, always saved" doctrine,(as basically, I do)does this mean that our eternal security is imposed on us? Why can we not get out?

    Or does God work in us both to *will* and to do His good pleasure, which is to keep us by His power through our the means of our faith? Does God working in us and specifically in our wills = inposition? I don't think so.

    Something to think about, although I must admit this Acts 7:51 business certainly has me wondering what Reformed Lie is about to collapse like a house of cards.

    Enjoy your meeting tonight.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/19/2007 5:07 PM  

  • I think that the softness or hardness of one's heart is the major reason for one's reaction to the gospel.

    Jesus spoke directly to this in the parable of the sower and the seed. Now as to why some hearts are soft and some hard I must say that there is no clear-cut answer - hence all of the dialog.

    For me though I think that this is where the 'made in the image of God' thing comes into play. Like it or not we are most like God (in a sense) when we obey or disobey.

    Adam in the garden had a choice - harden his heart or keep it soft. Disobedience hardens and obedience softens. The problem with this line of thinking is that it can lead to self effort and works based salvation (salvation based on our choices).

    So, I think that I usually arrive at a place that says that man is responsible for the condition of his own heart but even the purest/softest of hearts will not take the first step ... God initiates the offer ... in grace he sows the seed ... in grace we receive the seed depending on the softness of our heart soil.

    In a sense all of life is about heart soil:

    + trials often come like giant blades of a plow and crush and pulverize the hard soil of our hearts

    + the rains of adversity and turmoil come providing water capable of providing softness

    + in a sense all of life is geared at softening our hearts ... giving us an opportunity to trust God.

    It is a mystery why our hearts sometimes stay hard in bitterness and why sometimes they turn in repentance. I wish we all repented when the gospel was presented ... sometimes our hard hearts simply choose not see His goodness and repent.

    Guess that is my input ... won't be able to get back to the conversation for a bit. Thanks Rose for supplying a great question.

    Blessings, Bob

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 3/19/2007 8:27 PM  

  • Colin,

    I'm beginning to wonder if you really know what Calvinism and the Calvinists commonly teach, if you are being disingenuous, or if you are playing a shell game.

    You have already conceded that my brief explanation of the doctrine of IG is "kosher enough", but now you want to retract that concession?

    OF COURSE Calvinism adheres to the view that regeneration is imposed. This a necessary inference of the WCF statement in re: unconditional election. The WCF is quite clear that election has nothing to do with what a man is, was or does; none of this moves God to elect and therefore regenerate.

    In X:1 the WCF clearly states "... and by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace."

    Like a typical shell game or the "misdirection move" in a sleight of hand trick the WFC tosses in "they come most freely" but that in no way attenuates the imposition of the divine will as revealed in the other terms in their definition.

    Even so great a Calvinist as Spurgeon himself averred that this irresistible was "the mighty, overwhelming, constraining force of a divine influence..." (Spurgeon At His Best, p. 89).

    [Aside: This could lead to a lengthy debate about the difference between hypo- and hyper-Calvinism and a philosophical excursus about the means by which the divine will is operative in the space-mass-time universe (the old nature vs. grace debate), but that leads nowhere.]

    Can one freely resist a "mighty", "overwhelming", "constraining" force that "[makes] willing", "determining them" in extending the "effectual call" (= irresistible)?

    If the clear and simple meaning of these terms are not ample testimony to the fact that the effectual call, a.k.a. the irresistible grace, imposes salvation, then language means nothing and discourse is not possible. You will have successfully deconstructed Calvinism and made debate impossible.

    What say you?

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/19/2007 9:29 PM  

  • Good morning, Rose.

    Bud: No mind games on my part. I'm too busy (and honest) for that kind of thing. I have no problem with your definition of Irresistible Grace. You rightly ruled out the common notion that Calvinists deny that men can resist God, but you still insist on maintaining that Acts 7:51 "Also gives lie to the R'd doctrine of "irresistible grace." I just want to know how? If you want to take back the allegation, that's fine with me. But if you don't, then you need to tell us how Acts 7:51 does so. I really can't believe that we are about 6 contributions each into this debate and your original charge has still to be honestly stated, never mind defended.

    My problem with your use of the word "imposed" flows from yet another allegation that you made (to Gayla) that Westminster Calvinists believe that the unsaved are like rocks in this matter of regeneration. I contested it on the basis that God treats us as responsible beings and not as inanimate and therefore non responsible people. The term "impose" suggests that something is forced upon us against our will, when the WCF uses terms like "freely" etc., and speaks of our will being renewed, not by violence but by grace. There are no unwilling conscripts in the army of Jesus Christ. It is true that Calvinists believe in unconditional election, which eventually leads to the regeneration of those thus elected (I see your point there) but still, it is wrong to leave the story there and speak of an imposition in regeneration as if we were puppets (or rocks) with no feelings or emotions or even desires to be saved. If there is to be proper debate, then this needs to be acknowledged. I refuse to defend something I do not believe.

    I also asked the question that if God works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure (as in Philippians 2:13) then is this to be considered as imposition also? Is it an imposition upon us that the regenerate are eternally secure in Jesus Christ? Is there an opt out clause for those who have been born again? Personally, I wouldn't use the word "imposition" and I,m thankful that I haven't done so.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/20/2007 5:07 AM  

  • Gayla, are you arguing that God selects the particular sins and good deeds that a person will do?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 3/20/2007 5:56 AM  

  • Rose, Sorry to post two posts in a row, but I'm putting this full quote in a separate posting so as not to overload my previous one, which contains my main points and which I would rather Bud attended to. As a matter of interest, Spurgeon quoted Charles Wesley's hymn in one of his sermons (#385)
    It may be found here: http://www.ccel.org/w/wesley/hymn/jwg01/jwg0158.html

    The (minor) point I am making here is that even Arminians, such as the Wesley brothers, were happy to use words like "Force" and other similar things. I suggest to you that these words are being made to bear a meaning that is consistent with grace. If so, for the Arminians, why not for the Calvinists?

    “O my God, what must I do?
    Thou alone the way canst show;
    Thou canst save me in this hour;
    I have neither will nor power:

    God, if over all thou art,
    Greater than my sinful heart,
    All thy power on me be shown,
    Take away the heart of stone.

    Take away my darling sin,
    Make me willing to be clean;
    Have me willing to receive
    All thy goodness waits to give.

    Force me, Lord, with all to part;
    Tear these idols from my heart;
    Now thy love almighty show,
    Make even me a creature new.

    Jesus, mighty to renew,
    Work in me to will and do;
    Turn my nature’s rapid tide,
    Stem the torrent of my pride;

    Stop the whirlwind of my will;
    Speak, and bid the sun stand still;
    Now thy love almighty show,
    Make even me a creature new.

    Arm of God, thy strength put on;
    Bow the heavens, and come down;
    All my unbelief o’erthrow;
    Lay the aspiring mountain low:

    Conquer thy worst foe in me,
    Get thyself the victory;
    Save the vilest of the race;
    Force me to be saved by grace.”
    (Charles Wesley)

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/20/2007 6:00 AM  

  • Bud, that was a great exposition on the meaning of dead!

    Gayla: "It's interesting to note that the same people (in general - I've not read enough of your stuff, Bud, to know if you do this) who argue and insist that the text 'means what it says,' i.e. all means all, and world means every single person in it - would now argue that dead doesn't mean lifeless." (emphasis added)

    Gayla, thanks for proving the point! :-) Dead does mean lifeless and Jesus gives us life! The question is, what kind of life are we talking about here? What kind of life has Jesus given us? Are we physically dead when Jesus gives us life? No. We are spiritually dead. We are never rendered incapable of responding positively to the gospel. If we can respond negatively then logic dictates that we can certainly respond positively. What we are rendered incapable of (as Bud so aptly explained) is a relationship with God. (Those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.) But if we will receive the word of God He will render us capable of a realationship with Him. In its context, we non-calvinists have not changed the meaning of dead. The Calvinist is the one who has changed the meaning as he has with "all," "world," "whosoever", "anyone," etc., etc.

    Bud's words bear repeating.

    "This [Adam's ability to respond positively to God's calling] in itself proves that the "dead" are capable of responding to God, in their "dead" state."

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 9:06 AM  

  • I am desparately trying to follow this discussion - loop after loop after loop!

    I have one issue, that appears to be easily agreed upon by all - that we are saved by grace through faith. It is repeated often.

    But grace can mean many things. I am thinking that there is a possibility that the discussion keeps going in circles because some may have a different idea of what grace actually means or the action by which it is given. Is this the real root of the difference?

    I was always taught that the grace that saves is the gift of Christ. Is this not correct?

    By Blogger Missy, at 3/20/2007 9:20 AM  

  • Goodnight: "Dawn: Read what Acts 18:27 *actually* says. It doesn't say that "They believed that word and received salvation through grace by faith" as you interpret it. It says that they "believed through grace" and (we know) that such grace derived faith led them to receive salvation. The emphasis of the text is on the grace that produced the faith."

    I'm well aware of what the text actually says. The text is not in a vacuum. We've got 65 other books from which we may glean. Taking just one example, Ephesians 2:8-9, we see that we have are saved by grace through faith. Act 18:28 explains that these men were given the word and obviously they believed the word were convinced of the the word and placed their faith in that word and they were saved by grace.

    Acts 18:27-28 "And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: FOR he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ." (Emphasis added)

    We'll just have to agree to disagree.

    We mostly agree on the fact that Jesus is seeking those who are His. But it does not mean that He elected them for no reason. He elected them on the foreknowledge that they would believe His word. He has offered the word to all, would love to "apply" that offer to all, but sadly knows that not all will receive His offer. He does not withhold grace from anyone and He draws all men unto Him. He effectually draws/calls those who receive His word. Again, every person has that same chance. It just depends upon what is in the heart. (Romans 10:9-10)

    Goodnight: "What of those who have never heard His word?"

    I believe that those who seek God (Acts 17:26-27) will find Him and He will either bring someone across their paths to deliver the good news or He'll do it Himself like He did with Paul or He could send an angel. God is God and He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart.

    Goodnight: "You query in another post *"Where is the "fairness" in God's choosing one over another without equally giving man a choice to choose?"* History alone shows that men have not had an equal choice - are you still going to charge God with injustice?"

    I wasn't charging God with injustice. Sophyst was the one who brought in the "fairness" bit and said that the idea that it was within one's self to have the ability to accept or reject the gospel due to genetics or circumstance was unfair. So I asked where is the fairness in the Calvinist's philosophy that God chooses only certain ones to heaven while leaving others to Hell for no apparent reason and without a choice in the matter. IF that is truly how salvations works then I would have to believe that God had good reason and would be just in doing so. But the bible teaches quite the opposite.

    Goodnight: "Again, he believes through grace."

    Common grace is given to us all. And with common grace we have the ability to respond positively to the gospel. We are without excuse. We cannot be without excuse if we have no ability to respond positively to the gospel without God's doing it for us.

    Goodnight: "God's sovereignty comes into play long before the sinner decides one way or the other. Those who received His word were sovereignly chosen to do so. Those who do not receive His word were sovereignly left to perish *in their sins.*"

    You are right. God's sovereignty does come into play long before the sinner decides one way or another. Because God, in His sovereignty, chose to give man a choice. That choice was to receive or reject the gospel of his own volition dependent upon the state of his heart. We'll have to agree to disagree that God sovereignly (though He is sovereign) chooses one for no apparent reason to go to heaven while leaving another in his sin. I agree that some are left to die in their sin and will therefore go to hell, but it was not because God did not give them an HONEST TO GOODNESS chance.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 10:16 AM  

  • Missy: "But grace can mean many things. I am thinking that there is a possibility that the discussion keeps going in circles because some may have a different idea of what grace actually means or the action by which it is given. Is this the real root of the difference?"

    Unfortunately, this is not the case. The Calvinist believes that God only chooses certain people to extend saving grace.

    Missy: "I was always taught that the grace that saves is the gift of Christ. Is this not correct?"

    It is grace that saves, but it through our faith. I can agree with the Calvinist that more grace is given to the one saved, but only because the recipient has believed and received God's word. This is a God-given choice.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 10:21 AM  

  • Colin,

    The reason that Acts 7:51 refutes the doctrine of I.R. ought to be obvious, even to a Calvinist!

    The doctrine of U.E. states that the Holy Spirit's ministry is NOT, repeat NOT, extended to the reprobate.

    There is nothing for the reprobate to resist because the call is not issued to them!

    Only those to whom the call is issued can resist!

    If these people are resisting the Holy Spirit, as Stephen declared, then the Holy Spirit must be issuing the call to them, otherwise there's nothing to resist.

    Do you want the longer explanation with all the proofs cited from the canonical doctrines of Calvinism? I'll be happy to supply them.

    Or is this enough?

    Irresistible grace is on the face of it, prima facie, a lie.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/20/2007 10:50 AM  

  • Thanks for your response, Dawn! But what do you believe God's saving grace is?

    By Blogger Missy, at 3/20/2007 10:53 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 11:49 AM  

  • I believe God's grace is unmerited favor. And like you stated, it comes in many forms. I think there is common grace that allows men to be civil, there is grace that draws us to God, there is grae that allows us to respond to God, there is grace that keeps us alive and there is grace that saves us from hell. I'm sure I'm forgetting some forms.

    What does grace mean to you?

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 11:50 AM  

  • You all have such a good job commenting on this, I don't know why I would need to add anything.
    Thanks for reading.

    Carry on as long as you like.
    I do appreciate your visits. I read every comment that comes in.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/20/2007 1:25 PM  

  • One thing, though:

    Gayla, you said:
    It's interesting to note that the same people -- who argue and insist that the text 'means what it says,' i.e. all means all, and world means every single person in it - would now argue that dead doesn't mean lifeless.

    Dawn's answer to you is perfect to me. Even before she posted that comment, I had remembered that the word "dead" is another one of the "Questions Calvinits Ask" about. Would you not agree that the word means "separated from God?" Breath in our nostrils is life. So it must be explained... and not taken perfectly literally - it is somewhat figurative, is it not?

    Well, there will be a post on that subject.

    In a way, your comment reminded me of something my mom says to me a lot. She rails on me because I don't see the Catholic Mass by taking this phrase of Jesus' literally:
    "Take eat, this is my body."

    Thanks for your interaction, Gayla.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/20/2007 1:33 PM  

  • Rose,

    I'm sorry that my responses to some of the folks here on this thread have become so long.

    I've decided to truncate my comments here, but I've posted a lengthy statement about what "death" means over at my own blog.

    http://heightschurch.com/Altitude/?p=370

    Please forgive the crass commercial message!

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/20/2007 1:57 PM  

  • Dawn, I am thinking of the specific SAVING grace that is presented as irresitable or not in this discussion, the gift everyone is in agreement that God is giving, but no one is specifically stating.

    Is the saving grace the gift of belief or the ability to believe, possibly through the Holy Spirit; or is the Holy Spirit actually the saving grace - or maybe a regenerate heart?

    The saving grace I had come to believe in was the gift of Christ - not a gift presented to or inside any man, but FOR every man. People are given gifts everyday that they think they are too good to use. This is why I think some do not believe.

    By Blogger Missy, at 3/20/2007 2:00 PM  

  • Bud: You write: "The doctrine of U.E. states that the Holy Spirit's ministry is NOT, repeat NOT, extended to the reprobate." This is the basis on which you allege that Acts 7:51 refutes the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace and repeat your allegation again that Irresistible Grace is a lie.

    Let me be a little more charitable than that and say that your premise is founded on a mistake. The same chapter which you quoted from earlier in the WCF (Ch. 9) and paragraph 6 deals with those who are not elected and clearly states that such " may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet they never truly come unto Christ, and therefore cannot be saved…" I'm surprised that you missed it, but there you go. I knew that you couldn't sustain your argument.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/20/2007 2:14 PM  

  • Bud,
    Can I borrow some of your info for the post on "dead."
    I just want to compile a link list with answers to commonly asked questions by the Calvinist. That is what this new series is about.
    So ... can I borrow some of your wisdom?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/20/2007 2:52 PM  

  • Colin:
    ... but there you go. I knew that you couldn't sustain your argument.

    What tone of voice did you say that with?
    :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 3/20/2007 2:53 PM  

  • Missy: "Is the saving grace the gift of belief or the ability to believe, possibly through the Holy Spirit; or is the Holy Spirit actually the saving grace - or maybe a regenerate heart?"

    I'm sorry Missy. You did say saving grace the first time and I missed it.

    I'll start out by saying that I think the ability to be able to believe and receive God's word is a common grace given to all mankind. The problem is that mankind can get themselves to a place in their hearts that they WILL NOT receive the Lord. To me, it is mostly pride and selfishness, but it can be many things put together that make a person disbelieve the gospel.The saving grace takes place once someone receives the word and believes. At that point, the Lord gives us the grace to continue in that belief and He strengthens that belief. He gives us a new heart.

    Missy: "The saving grace I had come to believe in was the gift of Christ - not a gift presented to or inside any man, but FOR every man. People are given gifts everyday that they think they are too good to use. This is why I think some do not believe."

    Definitely Christ/God is a gift of grace for God is love and He loved the world so much that He came to earth as a man and died for our sins in our place.

    I don't believe that the people who reject God's gift of salvation is because they think it is too good to use. Rather they are not willing to believe the word of God for whatever reason. They may not want to give up their sin. They may not believe because the do not see God physically. They may not believe Jesus rose from the dead. There are many reasons for which they may not believe. Only God knows.

    If I've not been clear enough, please feel free to ask more questions. If it is off topic, you're welcome to email me at dawnws1 at hotmail dot com (I did not use the correct format because I don't want to receive spam. Be sure to put Missy in the Subject so I will know it is you.)

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 3:01 PM  

  • Bud, I meant to ask, too, if I could borrow your post on dead so long as I give you credit.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 3:04 PM  

  • Dawn, I hope you know I am not targeting you by any means! I appreciate that you are answering my questions in such a gracious manner. I was posing these questions to the forum here to see if everyone is actually in consensus as to what the Saving Grace is that everyone is referring to.

    For the most part it seems to me that the Saving Grace that is given by God, as referenced in these discussions, and by your answer above, is the ability to believe in Christ and not Christ Himself.

    By Blogger Missy, at 3/20/2007 3:14 PM  

  • Oh no Missy. I did not think that you were targeting me. I was just offering to answer any questions you may have concerning Calvinism, but off topic to this particular post. I remember when I was first trying to figure out what Calvinist's actually believe and it was very hard to get answers.

    Rose has an excellent series on these issues that you may find helpful. They're on her side bar to the right under her "Posts of Note" section: Calvinism & TULIP.

    Missy: "For the most part it seems to me that the Saving Grace that is given by God, as referenced in these discussions, and by your answer above, is the ability to believe in Christ and not Christ Himself."

    I'm sorry. I did not explain myself well. I hope that others will give their input as I think we all learn from each other.

    I should have said that common grace gives us the ability to RESPOND to the gospel. (I think we are all born with faith in general, it just depends on where we place that faith.)

    Saving grace first of all saves us from Hell. It also gives us the ability to gain a deeper and stronger faith. We will understand the things of the spirit whereas we were not able to do so before we were born again. (I Cor 2:10-16) We will have the power of God to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. We are sealed until the day the day of redemption. We will have the holy spirit within us and not just around us.

    I hope others will pitch in with their explanation.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 4:06 PM  

  • Dawn, I don't think I am being clear enough. I have heard about what the saving grace DOES, but what IS it? (I am not upset - just frustrated that I can never quite express myself clearly enough! :( hehe)

    By Blogger Missy, at 3/20/2007 4:24 PM  

  • Missy, I have to go right now, but the simple answer is that it is unmerited favor. It is the favor that God bestowed upon mankind in that He came down in the form of His Son Jesus and took our sin upon Himself so that we would be made righteous through Him forgiving us of our sin. I guess it may be like you originally thought that it is ultimately the gift of Christ Himself and saving us from Hell.

    Hopefully someone will chime in with their explanation.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/20/2007 4:43 PM  

  • Thank you so much, Dawn! I hope others have some input, too. It might help me better grasp the differences here. Have a wonderful day!

    (Rose, I hope you don't think I am rude - it may seem like I might be totally off topic, but this does help me with this discussion!)

    By Blogger Missy, at 3/20/2007 5:14 PM  

  • Rose: "Would you not agree that the word means "separated from God?" Breath in our nostrils is life. So it must be explained... and not taken perfectly literally - it is somewhat figurative, is it not?"

    I would definitely agree that being spiritually dead means separation from God. Sorry, if I wasn't clear about that. I realize we're not talking about someone's being physically dead.

    The Greek word for dead in Eph 2:1 & 5 is that nekros word, and the definition says, 'dead - figuratively or literally.'

    I don't see how this changes anything though. Vs 1 says, you were dead (figuratively) in your trespasses and sins.

    Vs 5 says, even when we were dead (figuratively) in our transgresions...

    And in that dead state, God made us alive. We played no part in it.


    Dawn: I wasn't charging God with injustice. Sophyst was the one who brought in the "fairness" bit and said that the idea that it was within one's self to have the ability to accept or reject the gospel due to genetics or circumstance was unfair. So I asked where is the fairness in the Calvinist's philosophy that God chooses only certain ones to heaven while leaving others to Hell for no apparent reason and without a choice in the matter. IF that is truly how salvations works then I would have to believe that God had good reason and would be just in doing so. But the bible teaches quite the opposite."

    Here's the thing about 'fairness.' BTW, nowhere does Scripture teach anything about God having to be 'fair.'

    Anyway, In making the charge that God isn't 'fair' in allowing/sending people to hell, our underlying statement is that our salvation IS fair. And basically, if we were to get what's 'fair' we would all get hell. So, that God chooses 'some' for salvation is a display of mercy that we neither earn nor deserve, nor can we demand. Dawn, God does have good reason for allowing/sending someone to hell - this, and all that He does, is to display His glory, it is for His Name's sake. He is just in leaving every single one of us to our sin and eternal separation from Him. It is by His mercy that He saves even one of us.

    (I've been doing a little studying on God's name sake. It's amazing when I read about all the MANY things He does...'for the sake of My Name.' We humans are so into our selves and think we stand supreme at the center of the universe. It's quite the opposite) :)

    I do have a small discussion going on at my blog, if anyone is interested. The post entitled Got Control?

    By Blogger Gayla, at 3/20/2007 5:31 PM  

  • Rose: OK. *Slightly* triumphant. Thought a bit about it afterwards and felt a wee bit bad. Now that you have coughed a little, feeling a wee bit worse. Only excuse is that I had waited about 6-7 postings before I got to what the great lie was about Acts 7:51 and Irresistible Grace and finding it to be an non event, felt somewhat triumphant. Sorry, if I've blotted my copy book. Or my halo slipped.
    If it is all about Brownie points, do note the charitable bit about being mistaken instead of lying through your teeth.

    Signed: Your unprofitable servant
    :-)

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/20/2007 5:37 PM  

  • Colin,

    Hang on a bit longer; I'm not finished yet. I had hoped that you would see the problem that logical inference poses for the doctrine of I.R., but apparently you don't.

    Check the post I put up this morning on my blog; it lays out a small portion of the exegetical data that will play into my lengthier refutation of I.R.

    And for the record, I'm not interested in convincing you or winning the argument in your eyes. I'm out to innoculate those who are as yet uninfected with Calvinism.

    If you find yourself beginning to at least question your deductive theological method and the "received doctrines" of Calvinism, or at least entertain the possibility that the exegesis of these passages done four centuries ago might possibly yield to better interpretations based on better lexicography and grammatical research, so much the better for your welfare.


    I've got 3500 people here to care for so this gets whatever leftover bandwidth I have available.

    Back next week.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/20/2007 8:30 PM  

  • Bud: As said before, all in your own time. I think you assume too much in these debates. Your first posting on this particular comment page simply said "Acts 7:51" which was then followed in your next post, after someone asked you to clarify, by the allegation that this verse nailed a Reformed lie. It took a lot of coaxing, after one unsuccessful guess on my part, to get you to state what you actually meant by your words. Even then, it came to nothing as it was based on your notion that Unconditional Election meant that the Spirit of God had no ministry among the reprobates. Thankfully, that but took one short quote from the WCF to show this to be notional, rather than factual. State your case clearly, although do bear in mind that if everyone threw words like "nonsense" and "lies" and "infections" at their opponents, then the worth of this comment page would plummet.

    Your comment about questioning my deductive theological method is appreciated, although I must remind you that the requirement to be ever seeking greater Biblical accuracy applies to us both. For the record, I once stood on these matters where you now stand, and forsook that position for my present stand. Presently, I am happy to defend what Calvinists actually believe and refute the things which others want to father on us but which form no part of our belief.

    If you want to leave me for dead (no matter how you define it) in this debate, then that's up to you. I am quite happy that any unconvinced non-Calvinists should read my responses to your various attacks. You have not yet been able to establish any of your charges - a point that won't be missed, I'm sure, by those looking on.

    Dawn: I agree with you that Acts 18:27 was not given in a vacuum. View it as an important part of a jigsaw that tells us how blind, lifeless sinners come to believe and be saved.
    Yes, they that seek God will find Him. The problem is that there is none (in and of himself) that seeketh after God (Romans 3:10) Hence the need for the Lord to make the first move.
    I think you're guessing a bit with the angel crossing the paths of the heathen. Which is a nice thought, but I'm all for the book, chapter and verse type argument.
    I also agree that there are several things on which we must agree to disagree. A point which can be made in any debate. One thing, though, that I cannot let run: You state that it is a Calvinistic concept that God should leave others for hell for no apparent reason. Just to close a possible loophole here, a man goes to hell because of his sin.
    Salvation is all of grace. Damnation is all of sin. Whatever reasons God has exercised in why He chose some and not others are not revealed to us. We may be sure that they are wise etc., in accordance with His own character.

    Rose: :-)

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/21/2007 10:42 AM  

  • Colin,
    "Here's my tuppence worth. Those who believe do so "through grace" (Acts 18:27) which is evidently more than a general kind of grace. It must be more, because if everyone has it, then the fact that everyone doesn't "use it" shows how weak it is."

    Where does the bible say there are different kinds of grace?

    "The Bible holds those who won't believe responsible for unbelief: John 3:18/3:36/5:40 etc."

    The bible only holds responsible for unbelief those who are able to respond with belief. Would you agree? That is my reading. If yours is different, then how is it different?

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 11:44 AM  

  • Todd: There is a mercy (which I am taking as an synonym for grace) that extends to all men, without exception. Such is revealed in Psalm 145:9 and improved upon in Matthew 5:45 " That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." It clearly relates to outward blessing. There is then a grace, that all men, without exception, do not enjoy and that is a saving grace. This grace is extended, ultimately, to those who are saved. This is drawn from verses like Romans 9:15 where God has mercy on whom He will have mercy and whom He will He hardens. Romans 9 is clearly in the context of salvation as borne out by the context that refers to vessels of wrath who are fitted (and I believe that they fit themselves) to destruction etc. If God's saving grace is thought to extend to all men (without exception) we are back wondering (along other things) as to why for several millennia, the gospel was largely confined to the people of Israel and why even today, there are large areas of populations left void of any gospel witness. I know that there is failure on the part of the church to fulfil its mandate, and we should never negate our responsibility, but nether should we charge God with failure also.

    The Bible holds all men accountable to believe in and honour their Creator. Their bondage to sin does not rob them of their responsibility to do so. Their bondage to sin has robbed them of their ability to do so, otherwise the Bible exaggerates the condition of the sinner when it has portrays him as lost…alienated…without strength…without God and without hope in the world…spiritually dead…spiritually blind…spiritually deaf…spiritually paralysed etc., A man cannot sin himself out of his responsibility before God. If it is required that a man cannot be required to do what he cannot perform, then why is the sinner accursed who continues not in all things that are written in the Book? (Galatians 3:10) remembering that to offend in one point is to offend in all (James 2:10) Is the sinner able to continue perfectly in the whole law? If not, is he responsible for his disobedience? If not, why are sinners in hell? I trust this helps.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/21/2007 1:10 PM  

  • Thanks Colin, for taking the time to discuss this.

    Mercy seems to be a large part of God's grace. Although He does give separate individual meaning to them as in Psalm 145:8.

    I personally always like to use the general default term "lovingkindness" for grace. Matt. 5:45 that you mentioned , is a good example to me of Christ asking His hearers to show their enemies the "love" of their "Father in heaven"(granted, maybe not the Father of the 'enemies' in the same sense as the 'sons' in that sentence), to show them the love or lovingkindness or the actual grace of God. To show their enemies the same loving posture that God shows to His sons. Mercy does not really fit in here in this context, does it?. They are supposed to show the love as sons(of the Father) but aren't really in the position to show mercy. God will not even show mercy to all enemies of Him and His children. So mercy is not really available to all.

    I'm pretty sure I could go through a lot of bible verse saying, look here, grace is available to all men. But I think there are some sticky theological arguements that lead to nowhere on that one so maybe we don't have to go there.

    So beyond te question of whether grace is available to all as an offer, let's stick with the original question of "are there diferent kinds of grace"?

    As I go through the uses of the word grace in N.T. scripture I see the word grace can generally be subtituted by "an offer of lovingkindness", or "a message of an offer of lovingkindness". All this is to say is I don't see any different kinds of grace being offered to different kinds of people. In the end it's either an offer(of God), or gift(of God), or posture(of God), or honor(of God), or nothing. All of those things or nothing. the whole package or othing. I don't see anything more than just a "general kind of grace". Where do you see grace being portayed as anything other than God's complete undeserved gift of favor? or complete offer of salvation, etc?

    Now I'll drop this off back at Roses and discuss that second question I had next. Thanks Colin.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 3:16 PM  

  • Gayla: "And in that dead state, God made us alive. We played no part in it."

    We played no part in the making us alive because we cannot do that. The only part we play is by placing our faith in the Lord as shown in 1:13 and 2:8. HE makes us alive. All Paul is telling us is that we were once dead and now through faith we are made alive. He talking about faith vs. works. The fact that placing faith in the Lord is the prerequisite to salvation had already been established.

    Sophyst was the one who charged God with unfairness if our salvation is left up to us. I simply countered his statement and asked where the "fairness" was in God's choosing some and not others.

    Gayla: "Dawn, God does have good reason for allowing/sending someone to hell - this, and all that He does, is to display His glory, it is for His Name's sake."

    I agree. We all deserve Hell. Thank God that He's given us a choice in the matter. Sending some to Hell is for His Name's sake and for for punishment.

    Gayla: "He is just in leaving every single one of us to our sin and eternal separation from Him. It is by His mercy that He saves even one of us."

    Absolutely.

    Gayla: "(I've been doing a little studying on God's name sake. It's amazing when I read about all the MANY things He does...'for the sake of My Name.' We humans are so into our selves and think we stand supreme at the center of the universe. It's quite the opposite) :)"

    God loves us and we ARE precious in His sight. We DO matter and it IS about us. I'm not saying that it is ALL about us, but it is about us, too. It's about God's loving us and wanting a relationship with us. It is about His Glory, but we are part of HIS Glory. He cares about us so much that the we're to put our trust in Him. We're to cast our cares on Him. We're more important than a sparrow. The very hairs of our heads are numbered. He would that NONE of us should perish. He takes NO delight in the death of the wicked. He would rather they trust in Him.

    There is a balance and those of us who are non-Calvinists (though I don't contend to speak for all non-Calvinists) do not take God's sovereignty for granted. We're well aware that HE is in complete control. However, God HAS allowed us a certain amount of freedom and within that freedom we can either accept or reject the word of God.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/21/2007 3:20 PM  

  • Goodnight: "Yes, they that seek God will find Him. The problem is that there is none (in and of himself) that seeketh after God (Romans 3:10) Hence the need for the Lord to make the first move."

    No one that I know of has ever said that we seek the Lord without the Lord first approaching us. I believe we've established the fact that the grace of God is ever present and that there are many ways that He tries to get our attention.

    Goodnight: "I think you're guessing a bit with the angel crossing the paths of the heathen. Which is a nice thought, but I'm all for the book, chapter and verse type argument."

    Not guessing at all.

    Galatians 1:8 "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."

    I'm all for the book, too.

    Goodnight: "You state that it is a Calvinistic concept that God should leave others for hell for no apparent reason. Just to close a possible loophole here, a man goes to hell because of his sin. Salvation is all of grace. Damnation is all of sin. Whatever reasons God has exercised in why He chose some and not others are not revealed to us. We may be sure that they are wise etc., in accordance with His own character."

    I said: "So I asked where is the fairness in the Calvinist's philosophy that God chooses only certain ones to heaven while leaving others to Hell for no apparent reason and without a choice in the matter."

    Sorry that I was not clear. I should have used some punctuation. It should read:

    Where is the fairness in the Calvinist's philosophy that God chooses only certain ones to heaven (while leaving others to to die in their sin, effectively sending them to Hell) for no apparent reason?

    To be clear, I agree that we all deserve Hell because of our sin. But at least God has given us a choice.

    Goodnight: "Salvation is all of grace. Damnation is all of sin."

    We agree.

    Goodnight: "Whatever reasons God has exercised in why He chose some and not others are not revealed to us. We may be sure that they are wise etc., in accordance with His own character."

    But that's the travesty of the Calvinist doctrine! God HAS very PLAINLY chosen to reveal why some go to Heaven and some Hell. It's because some refuse to place their faith in God and others DO place their faith in God. No mystery! :-)

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/21/2007 3:43 PM  

  • Colin,
    This was my second question:
    (and thanks for your answer.)

    The bible only holds responsible for unbelief those who are able to respond with belief. Would you agree? That is my reading. If yours is different, then how is it different?

    My answer, in response to my own question was that..."all men are responsible for belief since all men are able to believe". Of course there are certain vessels for destruction, after a purpose, to whom the offer of belief is not made to. Then there are many throughout scripture that God has shown us Himself hardening, each instance explaining why and sometimes even for how long. But outside of those specific instances, man is not in a hardened unresponsive state to God. And when we have the audacity to ask why, the answer provided us is 'who are we the created to ask of the creator why', and that as the Creator He can harden whom He wills as He wills, and is not in the posiion to have to answer our curiosity.

    So anyway, that's my answer to my question.

    "The Bible holds all men accountable to believe in and honour their Creator. Their bondage to sin does not rob them of their responsibility to do so. Their bondage to sin has robbed them of their ability to do so, otherwise the Bible exaggerates the condition of the sinner when it has portrays him as lost…alienated…without strength…without God and without hope in the world…spiritually dead…spiritually blind…spiritually deaf…spiritually paralysed etc.,

    That's not good enough, because a person cannot have a responsibility if they don't have a response ability. I don't see how one can phrase it like that and hope for it to be sensible.

    You describe the sinner as being of all of those conditions above. None of them prevent him from responding, nor does the bible say that it does. The sinner is all of tose hings by himself but simply has to behold the revealed Son and then believe.

    This is not an adequate explanation of what I see scripture saying in regard to the question, but I've got to run off for a couple hours so I thought I'd just give you something to chew on with regard to my second question/respone, and my own thinking on it. Thanks for your time here Colin.


    "A man cannot sin himself out of his responsibility before God. If it is required that a man cannot be required to do what he cannot perform, then why is the sinner accursed who continues not in all things that are written in the Book?

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 3:51 PM  

  • Whoa, I thought I whacked the last paste up off. Oh well.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 3:52 PM  

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    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 10:41 PM  

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    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 10:43 PM  

  • Colin,

    "The Bible holds all men accountable to believe in and honour their Creator. Their bondage to sin does not rob them of their responsibility to do so. "The Bible holds all men accountable to believe in and honour their Creator. Their bondage to sin does not rob them of their responsibility to do so. Their bondage to sin has robbed them of their ability to do so, otherwise the Bible exaggerates the condition of the sinner when it has portrays him as lost…alienated…without strength…without God and without hope in the world…spiritually dead…spiritually blind…spiritually deaf…spiritually paralysed etc.,

    Their bondage to sin has not robbed them of their ability to do so, contrary to what you've said, and as I've emboldened above.

    The reason I know is that my flesh is sin. The principle of evil is present within me. I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, which is in my members. I am a wretched man. But yet, through Christ my mind is set free! from my mortal flesh and serves the law of God. Through Christ, the requirement of the Law with regards to me, has been fulfilled! But....ahhhcht, on the other hand, with my flesh, I serve the law of sin. In fact everything that is not faith is sin.

    And everytime I take my mind's eye off of God, I am everything you listed right here Colin: lost…alienated…without strength…without God and without hope in the world…spiritually dead…spiritually blind…spiritually deaf…spiritually paralysed etc.I will be this way the next moment if I turn to my flesh in trust. But I am told that nothing good dwells in me, and am now under obligation to live according to the Spirit because I'm an adopted son of the Creator. So, even though it is constantly waging war against the 'law of the Spirit of life', in my mind, I trust not my flesh, and remain a son of God, through the Spirit Christ.

    Needless to say, I'm using alot of the language from the NASV Romans chapter 8 and 9.

    I think you are going to have to reword this in order to make it scriptural: Their bondage to sin has robbed them of their ability to do so

    If it is required that a man cannot be required to do what he cannot perform, then why is the sinner accursed who continues not in all things that are written in the Book? (Galatians 3:10) remembering that to offend in one point is to offend in all (James 2:10) Is the sinner able to continue perfectly in the whole law? If not, is he responsible for his disobedience? If not, why are sinners in hell?

    There is no man who is not required to continue in all things that are written in the book. Nor is there any man who is not a sinner nor any man that is able to continue perfectly in the whole law. Not sure where you wanted to go with this.

    And lastly:

    There is then a grace, that all men, without exception, do not enjoy and that is a saving grace

    Can you give me an example of grace that is not saving grace? This idea of grace on one hand and saving grace on the other has always puzzeled me.

    The reasoning contained in your describing of grace seems to be borne out of insufficiency of knowledge rather than actual scriptural text.

    You are clearly asking alot of questions about grace, in the first half of your last comment, regarding grace that have controversial but relatively simple answers. A quick way of getting to the bottom of those questions is to solidly define and distinguish between 'grace' and 'saving grace'.

    As a Pastor one would need to have a good working model of each. What is yours? I think I gave you mine already, but if not then I think you can tell from what I said already that all grace is one and the same for those reasons I cited.

    What's the difference between 'grace' and 'saving grace'?

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 10:48 PM  

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    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 11:13 PM  

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    By Blogger Todd, at 3/21/2007 11:15 PM  

  • Good morning, Rose. It's our day off! Just taking a few moments to answer a few queries here. And then, off into the city centre for morning coffee and a few bookshops. Just looking, but I'll take a few Euro with me, just in case I get tempted. Learning to play the Irish Tin Whistle, so there will be a few tooting sounds, hopefully musical, this afternoon.

    Todd: It is not so much that there are different *kinds* of grace, but more that there are different *degrees* of it. None deserve any of it, some are given more than others. When the gospel is preached, sinners are invited to partake of saving grace. If they refuse, it is God's prerogative to leave them in their chosen sin and therefore they have no room to complain. God leaves *some* in their chosen sins…*others* He draws savingly to Himself, granting them faith to believe unto the saving of their souls.

    Re: the state of unregenerate man. How can a blind man see? How can one "without strength" (not merely weak, but without strength) come? He cannot come unless he be drawn (John 6:44) The sinner, in himself, is without God and without hope, but you seem to want to impart some hope to him through what he has in himself.

    I don't think that you have grasped my point re: the responsibility of man even though he is unable to respond. The parallel is a good one. If man is responsible to keep 100% the whole law, 100% of the time and is punished if/when he fails to do so, then (by your argument) he must be able to do so. But we know that he is not and that because of sin. Likewise, sinners are punished for not fleeing to Christ, when they are not able to do so. The only chains that hold them back are self forged i.e. their own sin. It is this that makes them responsible and therefore punishable. All God has done in the reprobation of sinners is withhold his saving grace - something which, by definition, he is under no obligation to impart to anyone.

    I gave you an example of grace that is not saving in Matthew 5:45. Again, the Lord may impart to a man who finally perishes many benefits from the gospel. It may restrain him from engaging in certain sins and lead him to live (as far as men's standards are concerned) an outwardly moral life etc., But if he ends his days in hell, then it is evident that the goodness of God that leads men to repentance etc., was not extended to him. It may well have been offered, but it was evidently not sought and therefore not given. Again, there is the balance between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. I never seek to reconcile them, but preach both with equal conviction.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/22/2007 4:26 AM  

  • Dawn: I liked your reference to Galatians 1:8, although for it to be of any real use in your argument, you would need millions of appearances of such angels on a regular basis to those who are living in countries where the gospel, by the ordinary means of evangelism, have never really penetrated. Besides, I don't think that this was what Paul was getting at when he invoked the angel preaching! The angel in Galatians 1:8 wasn't preaching the gospel, but "another gospel" which of course was "not another" i.e. it damned rather than saved. He was using the reference to the angel from heaven to heighten the idea that we should never depart from the true gospel, even if an angel from heaven (or even Paul himself) came up with something else. It is much in the same bracket as Paul saying, "Though I speak with the tongues of angels…" Not that he ever did. The "though" carries the idea of "if" and is used hypothetically for the sake of argument, rather than making any solid claim. But I did smile (even appreciatively) at your reference to the verse, even though I don't think it stretches over the matter at hand.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/22/2007 4:38 AM  

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    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/22/2007 8:57 AM  

  • Goodnight, I understood Paul's "if," but God does use angels for His purposes. God is God and He can do whatever He wishes. You have no idea whether or not God has used an angel to give the gospel to someone in a third world country. Or a dream for that matter. If someone is truly seeking God, then God will reveal Himself to that person and show that person the way to salvation, somehow.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/22/2007 8:59 AM  

  • Good morning, Rose! I linked to this post on my blog. I hope you don't mind??

    I had posed a question regarding Saving Grace earlier in this discussion to help me understand it a little better, but it might have appeared off-topic. So I have decided to carry on at "home" with it. Thanks!

    By Blogger Missy, at 3/22/2007 9:33 AM  

  • Dawn: I am the last person who wants to limit God, but I decline to work on something of which there is very little said in Scripture. Without negating our responsibility at any time to reach as many as we can, I am also content to know that Christ will infallibly save all those given to Him of the Father. It is this that fuels my evangelism.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/22/2007 9:41 AM  

  • Rose~, I totally agree with Dawn.

    The idea that God would not provide any revelation to save the heathen apart from the activity of missionaries casts serious doubt on His intention to save lost sinners.

    I think the fate of the unevangelised is as much a problem for the Calvinist as for the Non-Calvinist.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 3/22/2007 11:27 AM  

  • DF

    If we may reduce the situation you speak of, to theological prepositions (without losing sight of the human value of souls and the need of missionary endeavour etc., but for debating purposes) we would come up with the following:

    1) Every last sinner ever born was/is lost because of sin
    2) God has not *purposed* to actually save every last sinner ever born
    3) God has only actually *purposed* to save His elect
    4) God has purposed to actually save His elect, ordinarily through the means of evangelism, but is not tied to doing so
    5) God is under no obligation to those whom He has not elected to even ensure that they hear the gospel, although He has commanded His people in this NT era to preach the gospel to them
    6)No such command was issued in the OT, where grace was largely confined to the Jews
    7) Many people in all ages have lived and died without hearing the true gospel once
    8) If the elect were among them, then God had other means of reaching them
    9) Many non Calvinists must reconcile these facts with their idea that God must deal with all men more or less equally if God's *purpose* is to save all sinners, without exception
    10) Since the Calvinist does not believe that it is the *purpose* of God to save all men without exception, then the issue of some heathen not hearing does not lean so heavily on his theological position.
    11) Calvinists (as well as every other Christian) should do all that they can to evangelise the hitherto unreached, because they are not guided by the decree of God, which has not yet revealed to them, but the commands of Scripture which have and which commands the gospel to be preached to every creature.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/22/2007 12:52 PM  

  • Colin,

    Todd: It is not so much that there are different *kinds* of grace, but more that there are different *degrees* of it. None deserve any of it, some are given more than others.

    The best I can make of this is that this is what your church has taught you. But does scripture? Where do you see this? I know you see it in Matt. 5:45 but anywhere else?

    Are you confusing differing measures of grace with differing measures of faith?


    When the gospel is preached, sinners are invited to partake of saving grace. If they refuse, it is God's prerogative to leave them in their chosen sin and therefore they have no room to complain. God leaves *some* in their chosen sins…*others* He draws savingly to Himself, granting them faith to believe unto the saving of their souls.

    You say here that those who don't "chose sin", and don't "refuse" the gospel message are then granted faith. You're saying if they chose to believe then they are granted faith? Whaaaa...That's sort of a jumble is it not?

    Re: the state of unregenerate man. How can a blind man see? How can one "without strength" (not merely weak, but without strength) come? He cannot come unless he be drawn (John 6:44) The sinner, in himself, is without God and without hope, but you seem to want to impart some hope to him through what he has in himself.

    Where does it say that unregenerate man cannot behold the gospel message and be drawn through to the revealed Son of God? Apart from those of Israel whom God has already demonstrated to us as Him having specifically hardened? I'll show you where it says the opposite:

    Act 17:26-27 says He made man so that they may seek Him.
    "and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;"

    2 Chrom 15 says that when they sought Him they found Him. Then it says whosoever will not seek God will be put to death. In Romans 1 God tells us He's made Himself evident and able to be clearly seen by all men. Seek and you shall find, Luke 11:19.

    A blind man doesn't need to see once Jesus tells them I am the way the truth and the life, because by hearing will come faith.

    What else does the gospel message do than to draw people to God, and don't we all start out unregenerate? Everyone who has heard and learned from the father comes to Christ.

    I "seem to want to impart some hope to him through what he has in himself"?

    I do? I guess that's what you've been taught by Calvinism. No wait, I guess I do. Our eyes and our ears which God has told us He made for the purpose of seeking Him, these things within my eye and ear sockets I have been given within myself to seek Him.

    I don't think that you have grasped my point re: the responsibility of man even though he is unable to respond. The parallel is a good one. If man is responsible to keep 100% the whole law, 100% of the time and is punished if/when he fails to do so, then (by your argument) he must be able to do so.

    Oh really? Do you realize that we were never offered salvation from damnation through fulfilling the requirements of the Law? Nor was anyone, ever. That is one of the basics that one must grasp to understand and properly teach what we have through Christ.

    But we know that he is not(able to keep the law) and that because of sin. Likewise, sinners are punished for not fleeing to Christ, when they are not able to do so. The only chains that hold them back are self forged i.e. their own sin. It is this that makes them responsible and therefore punishable. All God has done in the reprobation of sinners is withhold his saving grace - something which, by definition, he is under no obligation to impart to anyone.

    Oh really? Withhold His saving grace? I think the quickest way to reduce that to unusual church doctrine is to point out that grace does not save. Faith saves. Again, where does scripture mention different 'degrees', as you put it, of grace? This is a very fundamental question Colin that needs a clear and consise explanation.

    "I gave you an example of grace that is not saving in Matthew 5:45.

    In Matt. 5:45, causing the sun to rise and the rain to fall, giving people equal share with God's sons in the elemental things of the world, is surrounded here with the word 'love'. He's teaching love. He's offering our enemies the world in all it abundant parts, not our gift of grace through faith. Worldly beauty and God's love for it(for He so loved the world) not God's grace.

    Again, the Lord may impart to a man who finally perishes many benefits from the gospel.

    That's faulty teaching Colin. The benefits of the gospel are only accessible through the Spirit. The unregenerate can in no way attain any of the benefits of the gospel. You're referring to things which are temporal benefits and have no eternal value whatsoever as opposed to God's grace. The difference between them is one of flesh and Spirit. That is why the word 'grace' is not used in this passage. Elementary.

    It may restrain him from engaging in certain sins and lead him to live (as far as men's standards are concerned) an outwardly moral life etc., But if he ends his days in hell, then it is evident that the goodness of God that leads men to repentance etc., was not extended to him. It may well have been offered, but it was evidently not sought and therefore not given. Again, there is the balance between God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. I never seek to reconcile them, but preach both with equal conviction.

    Several observations.

    Your use of the word evidently several times shows you examining the blurry facts after they've happened, and then surmising why they came to be, instead of knowing exactly what the rules are up front. It shows lots of your own speculating. Nothing else of ay value.

    The goodness of God is there for everyone. It's not extended to some and not others. This is another major error Colin. the goodness of Godi is a personality trait of His that is not extended or withheld but simply God's nature which He informs all men of openly through His word.

    Rom. 2:14 ...not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

    ...even to those who don't know it's there. It's a constant. His kindness or goodness are a constant. And your using it, a constant, as a synonym for grace, which you say is not fully and constantly available to all men, causes you a problem.

    You tell me "it(His goodness that leads to repentence) may well have been offered, but it was evidently not sought and therefore not given".

    You say evidently? Isn't there greater evidence in the bible, as to whether or not a man seeks for something than whether or not it was finally given to him? Is that sensible evidence on which to determine whether or not an offer was given? Or evidence as to whether or not it was sought?

    Here is where your theology gets all tangled up.

    You say at he top that "When the gospel is preached, sinners are invited to partake in saving grace" and given a choice. The one that choses right, gets drawn safely to God, and God grants him faith. So I think Rose will let me get away with a nice tame Whaaaaaa....t?(I will not go to the nuts implication here out of courtesy)

    Here you are saying you have to 'seek in order for it to be extended' or offered to you...."but it was evidently not sought and therefore not given".

    And then, here, that it is 'extended before it was sought'."It may well have been offered, but it was evidently not sought and therefore not given."

    And then here you have 'an invitation':
    ...sinners are invited to partake of saving grace, they can chose or refuse, and God selects them, presumably accordingly.

    According to you also, if the man in your last illustration recieved the offer, then, that would had to have been God drawing him to Himself as in John 6:44? Correct? But then your man was lost? But according to you...He draws savingly to Himself. But He lost him. How safe is that?

    So He drew the man to Himself but then lost him. Great.

    So you teach this stuff? Are you comfortable that all of this conforms to God's word Colin?

    It sounds to me like you are trying to mimic some theology you don't quite understand.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/22/2007 2:22 PM  

  • I didn't mean to say, and be drawn through to the revealed Son of God?

    ...but I kind of like it.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/22/2007 2:27 PM  

  • Todd,

    "Grace does not save. Faith does"
    Do you want to retract that statement?

    I'll come back probably tomorrow to the other stuff.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/22/2007 3:17 PM  

  • No, I see no reason to retract it.

    And I understand it's late over there to the east so if you'd wish to reply there certainly is no urgency.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/22/2007 3:39 PM  

  • Todd, I take the line that we are saved by grace through faith. grace is the basis of salvation and faith the instrumentality.

    "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." (Titus 2:11)

    Naturally, the unbeliever will not be saved, but I think it totally wrong to say that grace does not save. I wouldn't have said that, even in my non Calvinist days. If you have the online Bible, type in "grace" in the search (or just use a concordance)and run your eye down the several references to what grace is said to do. It justifies, forgives us our sins, makes us accepted in the Beloved etc., and it saves.Paul was what he was by the grace of God (1 Corinthians 15:10)

    It's not too late over here in the "old sod" (20:05 hours) but there is a place to draw the line for the evening.

    I hope tomorrow to sum up my position and move on. Bud says that he will get back to me next week, so I'll maybe take that up, if he does. These debates can be endless. Usually at the end, we have to agree to disagree. Let us rejoice, that we all desire to serve God and desire to point sinners to Christ alone, who alone can save sinners.

    Rose: I have posted something on your other page. I am thinking of reserving my comments from now on to simply pointing out where people attribute to Calvinists things which we do not believe i.e. straightening the record rather than debating. Yet, who knows? There is a debater in us all. Maybe the secret is to have a good debate and then let a few go by. There is a work to be done too outside of Blogdom.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/22/2007 4:08 PM  

  • Goodnight, just a couple of questions.

    Is the Gospel offered to all?

    Will the unevangelized be condemned for not believing in our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 3/22/2007 4:19 PM  

  • Colin,

    I would not say that grace does not save. Nor would I say that it does. To say grace saves and leave it at that is misleading. It's a free gift of lovingkindness from God through which salvation, which is not a free gift, comes through faith, in His son.

    Sums up like that real well with no disagreement from scripture.

    Saved by grace through faith. Whenever grace is mentioned in the bible it's always directly tied to either faith or the Son, or simply God's rich favor through Christ.

    Why doesn't the bible use the term "saving grace" like you do? For there to be specifically saving grace, then there would have to be grace that is not saving grace. Where is there grace that is not saving grace?

    All mentions of grace in the bible can be substituted with God's lovingkindness. Which is a free gift of the bestowing of the Son for our faith to rest on.

    Rom. 5:15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.

    Grace is a free gift. Are you saying salvation is a free gift? Or is the offer itself free? Christ is the offer. His blood instead of ours. Very kind undeserved offer. In exchange for the obedience of faith.

    Grace is freely bestowed on us:
    Eph 1:6to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
    Salvation is not. Is your 'saving grace' freely bestowed on anyone?

    The following, is not 'saving grace' because these people are already saved. And it's unclear if we are given different measures of grace or just that the gifts we have been given are a free outpouring of the free gift of grace.
    Rom. 12:6
    Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

    The free gift is available through faith.
    Gal. 5:4
    You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.


    Now let's see if grace does these things that you claim here:
    It justifies, forgives us our sins, makes us accepted in the Beloved etc., and it saves.

    Grace does not bring us forgiveness, as you've said, the blood does.
    Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

    Are we justified by grace as you've said?
    Titus 3:6...richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    But through Jesus Christ(not freely but with having faith therein), not simply by grace alone.

    Saved through grace alone?:
    Acts 15:11 "But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are."

    He's already mentioned faith and Christ in his immediately preceeding remarks. Not leaving us wondering which 'same way as' he was referring to. He mentons faith in Christ.

    Saved through grace?:
    Rom 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;

    No, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Which is a gift because it should have been our blood instead of His.

    Saved in accordance with grace?:
    Rom 4:16
    For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace,


    Yes. By faith.

    Salvation brought by grace?
    "The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men." (Titus 2:11)

    Appeared to all men! All men saved by grace! Through faith.

    Here's more grace that doesn't save without faith.
    Rom. 5:2 through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;

    It takes faith to get into this saving grace, not the other way around as you propose.

    I will take another look at your theology Colin but I'm able again to say you are in error as to your stating what grace does. Grace does not save without faith. Salvation is not a free gift. Grace brought and provided for us Christ. To behold and have faith in.

    Saving grace? Or is this a man-made term needed to prop up a larger branch of theology.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/22/2007 7:04 PM  

  • Good morning, Rose: I have enjoyed the interaction on this site with various contributors, but finding it difficult to answer each and every question due to my obligations here to maintaining an evangelistic and pastoral ministry in Cork. Sometimes a paragraph takes 5-10 minutes…other times 30-40 minutes and then this generates more response and on it goes. Perhaps it might be overall more profitable if I summed up a few things and then restricted my comments to where it might be necessary to correct a misconception e.g. where it was alleged during the week that Calvinists denied that the Holy Spirit had any ministry among Reprobates, when this is not so.

    Calvinists believe that souls are saved by grace alone through the God given instrumentality of faith.
    God is not obliged to give saving faith to every last sinner and does not do so.
    Many sinners are left in their chosen sins and perish for the same.
    The Judge of all the earth does right and no man is punished unfairly.
    The Gospel is to be preached indiscriminately to every creature.
    Christians are guided by the commands of Scripture, not the decrees of God, many of which they are not privy to.
    The reason why some believe and other's don't (the original posting) is that God leaves some in their inherent unbelief (for which they are fully responsible) and lifts others out of that unbelief by nothing less than sovereign grace.

    Beyond this, I cannot go at the moment. If I may be so bold as to advertise that there an Calvinistic emails section on our church web site, where many questions on these controversies are answered. This enables me to keep a greater control on the *volume* of traffic and enables me to return multi questions to the sender, and say: "Pick out your main argument, keep it succinct, and I'll try to answer it." We do not duck awkward questions. If we do not know the answer, then we just say so.

    I'll drop in regularly here, as said, probably to correct misconceptions rather than engage in full blown debates. Thanks for the opportunity of discussing these things.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/23/2007 4:39 AM  

  • Colin,

    I just wanted to see if my suspicions were correct.

    You judge for yourself.

    Your spent virtually all your time above defending Calvinist doctrine, and then gloated considerably about it, with virtually zero time defending the Word of your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When I got us onto the word of the Lord you did the same thing. Your Sword is actually John Calvin and his beleif system which you use to parry with others who cite the Lord's word. The Lord's word does not seem to be doing justice to your beliefs so you go to Calvin.

    My only curiosity was whether or not you could think for yourself and think through to the end of these claims you were making.

    Now you've offered to go away and continue to defend Calvin at your site, and come back as needed to defend Calvin. Your site is hung heavily with the trappings of Calvin your master, and those of his followers. Do you see what you've reduced yourself to in the Lord? You've demonstrated yourself here, to me, as someone who calls himself a teacher in the Lord but who is barely a teacher in Calvin. That is not saying that one cannot be a teacher in the Lord and also a teacher of Calvin, but you are not.

    I come out and try and have a real debate, rarely, to several times a year, to test for error in my understanding of God's word against charges of error from others. My understanding, as you've seen, comes solely from the word and other teachers who serve the Lord solely from His word.

    If you'd like to use you're blog discussions as a time for theologically gadding about then I can relate to you since theology has a life of its own apart from the clearminded study of the word, and is much more sensational and intellectually self-gratifying to me than studying the word on my own as well. So trust me, I know right where you are coming from.

    As for me, I take profitable posts like these, which I've spent the better part of a day on, and post them in my reference blog so as not to have wasted into obscurity a profitable building block in, not merely my own private understanding, but my ability to teach and edify others in the rich blessings of Christ that, in my humble perception, many in the pastoral community miss. And as Christ has enabled others do for me.

    Nonetheless, I'm sure Calvin would be very proud of you Colin.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/23/2007 10:23 AM  

  • Rose,
    What a wonderful opportunity it is to get out and discuss here once in a while. Thanks.

    By Blogger Todd, at 3/23/2007 10:26 AM  

  • (This was a comment that goodnightsafehome had left earlier, but it was messing up the post page because of a long link.)

    goodnightsafehome
    Bud: I cannot but help notice your tendency to throw out allegations about Calvinists without supplying any corresponding proof. You charge us with lies on the matter of man's ability to reject God and quote Acts 7:51. I have asked you to supply quotes from any Calvinistic commentator or theologian and I assume that you are going to be honourable enough to follow this up. If you do not have access to Matthew Henry or any of the Calvinistic commentators, then email me, and I'll supply you the URL's to find them online. For my part, I supplied you with one small comment from Calvin on your chosen text which plainly shows that Calvin himself taught that the Jews of Stephen's day "had purposely, and not of ignorance, resisted God." I have even stuck my neck out on this one and stated that I do not believe that you can produce one quote. I stand to be corrected.

    I notice now that since the above request (Which I make for the sake of honesty and general helpfulness to the readers here) that you have made a further allegation about "Westminster Calvinism." Alas! (or Sigh!) Again, no proof. If this was a court of law, your case would be thrown out without even being heard. For the record, the WCF does not teach that the unregenerate are like the rocks, incapable of responding to God. The WCF teaches that men have a *responsibility* to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and that they are punished as responsible creatures if they don't, and judged to have observed lying vanities and forsaken their own mercy. I have paraphrased for the sake of space, but the URL for the WCF's "Practical Use of Saving Knowledge" is:
    here is the link

    As in Acts 7:51 the unregenerate have the capacity to respond negatively to God. Sin has robbed and blinded and bound the sinner, so that only the mighty power of God can release him from his bondage. But this is as far a cry as you can get from likening him unto an inanimate rock, which bears no responsibility at all.

    Rose: It is a good job that you are not Judge Judy! :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/23/2007 2:25 PM  

  • Colin,

    Hang on to your shorts. I'll get back to Acts 7:51 when I'm finished at the Conference, perhaps as early as Sunday.

    And for the record, you are right about one thing. I have satirized (or is it parodied?) the Calvinist in the matter of total inability. The Calvinist does not claim that the unregenerate are "rocks"; merely that they are incapable of responding to God's "external call."

    They aren't rocks, they are quadrapalegics. They can hear the gospel but they can't move a muscle toward it.

    This is the Calvnist's position, even though there is not one shred of exegetical evidence in support of it. The position rests on eisegesis wherein the Calvinist smuggles his own definition of "dead" into the lexicography.

    They hope that waving Ephesians 2:5 will somehow make us go away with our tail between our legs rather than engaging seriously with the text in its own right.

    I am not arguing the view that the unregenerate mind is hostile to God, that the unregenerate affections are alienated from God & etc. I am arguing that the Calvinist's definition of total inability is not based on biblical theology or exegesis.

    It is therefore not entitled to the position to which the Calvinists have exalted it - that of dogma which is now beyond question.

    So in that vein, I'd like to join Todd and ask you to defend a couple of doctrines from actual exposition of some biblical texts, without resorting to the WCF.

    My wish list would be to see you defend: (1) the doctrine of the "two calls;" (2) the doctrine of monovolitionism (that God cannot causally will a thing that never happens); (3) the doctrine of limited atonement.

    That should suffice for now.

    At this point I think that most folks in this forum will expect to see some biblical exegesis, not mere proof texting or citation of the WCF or the Canons.

    I have posted on another URL (out of respect for Rose's space) the beginning of an exegetical refutation of the doctrine of total inability (which forms the logical necessity of the debate you and I are having here re: irresistible grace) - specifically about the biblical theology of death.

    I would ask the same of you, whether in this forum or another.

    On a side note, I should have posted that a long time ago because I owe it to Jazzycat but somehow other projects got in the way...

    So have at it. I'll be back in a couple of days.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/23/2007 7:23 PM  

  • Colin,

    Sorry, but the WCF's "Practical Use of Saving Knowledge" strikes out.

    It is neither good theology or careful exegesis. The sloppy prooftexting brings disrepute on the entire document.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/23/2007 8:00 PM  

  • Good morning Rose: What's your thoughts on the matter below?

    A couple of things, Bud.

    I don't do satire in theological discussions. The matters are complex enough, without clouding the water. One reason why I have had to partially withdraw from these debates with various people is simply that I do not have the time to answer the *many* questions which came my way. It doesn't help to be chasing up some matter, and then have the questioner admit that he was being less than honest afterwards. Rereading the piece, you followed it up with:

    " As to your contention that the WCG does not teach that men are insensate and like rocks, I am astounded! It is clear from the WCF that the unregenerate are completely incapable of responding to God in faith, that the "gift of faith" must be conveyed with their regeneration, and that at that moment they are given a "believing nature" (my words, not Calvinism's). Are you really going to hold to that position? If so, it is easily refuted - by the words of the prominent Calvinists themselves, and by the WCF which I shall be glad to quote. But first let me make sure that that is what you are actually saying."

    All that and then to admit that you were engaging in satire. That, to my mind, is sheer time wasting and, although I enjoy satire in *other* situations, yet in its place and when well flagged. You would need to reveal where else you tried to be funny, before I can engage you further.

    2) If I remember right, and I do, it was *you* who first introduced the reference to the Westminster Calvinists. This is when I took you at face value and refuted your claim re: the unregenerate being like rocks. Then, in the piece above, you reveal yourself as being glad to quote the WCF.

    This particular thread is going the way of all threads i.e. fast becoming history. I believe that, under God, I can hold my own with you, or anyone else, in these debates on the doctrines of grace. You are not the first critic of Calvinism I have encountered in lengthy enough debate. I was able to make good use of my last *serious* debate with a non Calvinist:
    www.corkfpc.com/mcgoverncalvinism.html If I could do that again, I would be a lot happier. These debates take time. Again, if are saying one thing in debate, only to reveal later that its face value is equivalent to a $3 note (I assume they don't exist) then, you may look for something else to debate.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/24/2007 5:05 AM  

  • Sorry..."Someone else to debate"

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/24/2007 5:07 AM  

  • Colin,

    The "satire" was to call men "rocks"... I thought I made that clear.

    In the following section, which you just quoted...

    =====
    As to your contention that the WCG does not teach that men are insensate and like rocks, I am astounded! It is clear from the WCF that the unregenerate are completely incapable of responding to God in faith, that the "gift of faith" must be conveyed with their regeneration, and that at that moment they are given a "believing nature" (my words, not Calvinism's). Are you really going to hold to that position? If so, it is easily refuted - by the words of the prominent Calvinists themselves, and by the WCF which I shall be glad to quote. But first let me make sure that that is what you are actually saying.
    ===

    The only piece of overstatement is the "men are like rocks" thing. Everything else in that paragraph is absolutely true.

    I don't think that was a waste of your time. The one small bit of parody in no way attenuates the substance of the paragraph or the accuracy with which I have portrayed Calvinism.

    So let me restate the question: Are you in agreement with the Calvinist position on total inability, to wit, that the unregenerate in and of themselves cannot respond to the offer of salvation?

    That was the point of the "offending" paragraph, and I think you know that very well.

    But let's not get misdirected from where we're at in this discussion.

    You have asked me to produce exegetical evidence that Acts 7:51 refutes the doctrine of irresistible grace. I am, as time allows, going to do that. I have begun that by my post on "what does it mean to be dead".

    I am asking you to do the same, by producing biblical exegesis in defense of three Calvinist doctrines.

    As for my part, I promise that henceforth my words will be chosen judiciously and carefully and that any attempt at humor or "shorthand" will be restrained.

    Are we on or not?

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/24/2007 8:49 AM  

  • To be honest with you, Bud, I feel at the moment as if I'm standing on the shore at the Atlantic Ocean and wondering whether I should try and swim across. The heart says "Go for it" while the head says "Don't!" Having read some of your stuff, I'm not so sure that an Atlantic Ocean type debate is going to work.

    I read your page about your blog about the how "In another thread a Calvinist brother has challenged me to consider “The Practical Use of Saving Knowledge” as if it some how constituted proof that the doctrine of total inability was somehow correct." I made reference to TPUSK for another reason. I quote you the context of my statement:

    *For the record, the WCF does not teach that the unregenerate are like the rocks, incapable of responding to God. The WCF teaches that men have a *responsibility* to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and that they are punished as responsible creatures if they don't, and judged to have observed lying vanities and forsaken their own mercy. I have paraphrased for the sake of space, but the URL for the WCF's "Practical Use of Saving Knowledge" is: here is the link *

    It is of little use me quoting the WCF to someone who doesn't believe it, if I want to establish Scripture truth. I quoted it because, you made a foolish statement (which you describe as satire or parody) that the WCF taught that the unregenerate were like rocks, incapable of responding to God. I showed from the TPUSK that this was not so, because it treats men as responsible people. As I dip my proverbial toe in the waters of this Atlantic Ocean, I wonder how on earth I am ever going to get across, if I have to take time to defend not only what I say, but why I say it.

    This being the case, I am declining your invitation to debate. I intend to keep an eye on Rose's Page and seek to point out where Calvinists are being misrepresented. We gladly stand over what we believe. We tend, naturally enough, to get upset when people who should know better, father things on us which we do not and would not believe. I know this position has upset Todd, but I'm sure that he'll get over it.

    If you want the last word on this particular issue to get something off your chest, then the field is yours.

    Rose: Thanks for accommodating this debate. See you around! Fair fa' ye! :-)

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/24/2007 9:49 AM  

  • Bud,I've had second thoughts. We'll forget about swimming the Atlantic. A nice wee pond somewhere is manageable. Either on one of your pages or mine (or better still, both) I'll take you up on Limited Atonement. Strictly Scriptural…no references to Calvin, Calvinists, Reformers, non Calvinists, Confessions of Faith (yours or mine) or whatever etc., No parodies or satire. I think this is where the problem which I express in my last post comes in i.e. references to others and things strictly outside the Bible. So straight Bible. You and me and the words of Scripture. So, instead of saying "Calvinists believe..." ask me "Do you believe..." and if I don't, I don't and it doesn't matter who does or who you think does. Same for me.

    Give me the one main verse that teaches universal atonement and we'll take it from there. Why *must* this verse teach universal atonement and not particular redemption?

    Let's keep the posts as short as we can. No realms and realms of stuff that swamp the opponents. One main point at a time. Bigger points can be shortened into smaller points. Remember, we both hope that people will want to read our comments and it befalls us to make it readable.

    Advance notice: I'll be away for two weeks before and after Easter and that'll probably put the matter on ice. So maybe wait until after Easter? What's your thoughts?

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/24/2007 2:15 PM  

  • We're on.

    I'll finish my arguments on irresistible grace, you start yours on unlimited atonement.

    It may take some time, but that's okay.

    By Anonymous bud, at 3/24/2007 5:44 PM  

  • I'll email you tomorrow. It's getting late here and our clock goes forward an hour for day time saving :-(

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/24/2007 5:55 PM  

  • Rose: Good morning! I hope Philip is in "good form" the day

    Bud: I emailed you via your church website.

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 3/25/2007 8:00 AM  

  • Todd: "Grace does not save without faith. Salvation is not a free gift. Grace brought and provided for us Christ. To behold and have faith in."

    Great comments on faith and grace!

    Greater degrees of grace and faith are applied to us in differing ways, but I won't get into all of that.

    James 4:6 "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."

    2 Corinthians 10:15 "Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly,"

    Grace alone is not what saves us, but rather it is faith coupled with God's grace. Our part is the faith and God's part is the grace. That, to me, is saving grace. And maybe, like you say, we should not be using the term "saving grace." It is simply faith + grace that equals salvation so it may not necessarily be a deeper degree of grace working here. I've used the term "saving grace" to help distinguish the difference between common grace and grace coupled with faith. I'll just have to think about it some more.

    By Blogger Dawn, at 3/25/2007 4:08 PM  

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