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

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Non-Calvinist Praying for a Friend

Dear Lord,
I pray that you would help SK. I pray that you would bring her the peace that only you could give, that you would take anything I said - my poor witnessing technique - I know I missed a lot of things - and use it to prick her heart. Please Lord, bring into rememberance the things she heard in the past from others about your mercy and love. I know you love SK and died for her. She is a fractured soul, but you can make her whole beyond any healing she has known. I hope she will hear your voice and listen to the testimony about you and that you will send others around to water the seeds that have been planted. No matter what Lord, I know that you are a good. I hope that SK can see this.

129 Comments:

  • Hi Rose,

    Is this prayer rhetorical to any degree? (Such determining my kind of response. I don't want to make a fractured soul a theological battleground)

    Regards,

    P/s Sorry I didn't get posting you when you were ill. I hope that you are feeling better now.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/16/2008 12:08 PM  

  • No. It isn't rhetorical. I prayed this this morning, but the initials and posssibly the gender may have been changed to protect the innocent... I mean guilty.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/16/2008 12:24 PM  

  • How exactly would a Calvinist have worded this prayer?

    By Blogger Jim, at 5/16/2008 12:34 PM  

  • Hi Rose/Jim,

    Jim asks: How exactly would a Calvinist have worded this prayer

    I can't answer your question here, as the word "exactly" puts it all beyond my remit. Who am I (or anyone) to speak for the entire Calvinistic constituency? It's a pity though that the word "Anti- Calvinist" was used in the title - I would thought that coming to God as a Christian of whatever stamp would have sufficed? I will certainly pray that SK comes to know the Lord as her Saviour as I believe that is my duty to do...and I am more than happy to do so.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/16/2008 1:04 PM  

  • Colin,
    No offnese intended with the title. I wasn't thinking of how I was a non-Calvinist when I prayed this morning. ;~)

    I thought later, though, about how often I have seen Calvinists say that 'Arminians' pray like Calvinists and that is what I was thinking when I shared this prayer. I didn't mean to make SK a subject for debate or anything, but I thought the post could have a two-fold purpose: people like you might pray for my friend. Also - maybe it would show that a non-Calvinist doesn't necessarily pray like a Calvinist as I have seen said around the blogosphere. Then again, maybe this is just how a Calvinist WOULD pray... who am I to say?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/16/2008 1:18 PM  

  • Fair enough, Rose.

    I suppose the more logically Calvinistic parts of your prayer (if we must examine it with that in mind) is that you ask God to actually save your friend. (And I hope, He does!)

    Sometimes non Cals preach (not necessarily you) and say to the congregation in effect God has done all that He can do - now its up to you. In which case, we query why we should pray to God at all after this point and actually ask Him to save the sinner? It would seem to be more effective to pray to the sinner and ask them to finish the work off which God has started but cannot or will not complete, without their final and overruling word.

    But as you say, the intention is not to make the obviously straitened circumstances of your friend a football pitch for theological debate.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/16/2008 1:28 PM  

  • Colin,
    You said we query why we should pray to God at all after this point and actually ask Him to save the sinner? It would seem to be more effective to pray to the sinner and ask them to finish the work off which God has started but cannot or will not complete, without their final and overruling word.

    I thought about this today. I also wonder under the Calvinist scheme of looking at things, why bother praying about people's salvation at all if it was determined before the foundation of the world who would become saved? Why would we ask God to open people's hearts - He will do what He wants without regard to our thoughts on the matter.

    I find prayer a topic that can be very challenging, I have to admit.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/17/2008 11:32 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    It was also determined beforehand that God would save His people through means - not least the prayers of His people. It is no coincidence that 3,000 were saved and added unto the church after a prayer meeting! It is not either/or in this matter, but both. We pray and evangelise etc., and God uses these means to bring people to Himself. Paul sowed, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

    When you pray, are you asking God to change His mind? Or are you asking Him to form for the first time favourable views on the subject that concerns you? (Not accusary questions, but thought provoking ones)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/17/2008 12:59 PM  

  • About..

    "It was also determined beforehand that God would save His people through means - not least the prayers of His people."

    ..if our prayers/actions are factored into the mix then I might be a Calvinist :)

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/17/2008 5:07 PM  

  • Good morning Rose/Kansas Bob!

    Bob writes: ..if our prayers/actions are factored into the mix then I might be a Calvinist :)

    Bob, when God eternally decreed to save this man and that man who shall be born in Zion, He alsoeternally decreed to save them through those means which He uses to bring them to the birth. For me, it was largely through a belated decision on my part to study the Bible for a examination in school. The decision to save me, as opposed to some others in the class (assuming they are still unsaved) was entirely God's without any human contributiion, but still ... the means are as much part of His sovereign plan as the initial decision (I use human terms here to try and describe God's ways) to save in the first place.

    BTW: I don't come here looking for converts to the Calvinist cause. But if you feel you are being irresistibly drawn... :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/18/2008 3:46 AM  

  • About..

    "He alsoeternally decreed to save them through those means which He uses to bring them to the birth.

    ..sounds like possibly God factors in Man's actions when He predestines the elect.. I am okay with that.. I have always said that His predestination is based on His foreknowledge.. but I didn't know that it was Calvinist position :)

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/18/2008 8:10 AM  

  • Hi Kansas Bob:

    If you mean by "foreknowledge" that God looked down the long corridor of time from etenrity past and foresaw who would believe on His Son and elected them on that condition, then I cannot agree with you.

    If, OTOH, you mean by "foreknowledge" that God onconditionally "foreloved" His people from eternity past and on this basis elected them to salvation, then I can and do agree with you.

    Having decreed the salvation of His people, on the basis of nothing else than His free grace alone, God ordained that these elect folk would be brought to Himself for pardon and mercy etc., through His preappointed means. "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." (1Corinthians 1:21) That is why we preach - primarily to see the elect gathered in, although we preach indiscrimately to all men, seeing we know not who the elect are among unsaved souls.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/18/2008 11:54 AM  

  • The universalists hold a similar view goodnight.. only with a different ending.. they consider that God elected all. Guess I disagree with Calvinism for similar reasons that I disagree with Universalism.

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/18/2008 3:22 PM  

  • Hi again, Kansas Bob:

    You write: The universalists hold a similar view goodnight.. only with a different ending.. they consider that God elected all. Guess I disagree with Calvinism for similar reasons that I disagree with Universalism.

    I don't follow your reasoning here on this one. Surely we both agree (against the Universalists) that God has only elected some (albeit many) though not all and therefore we both disagree with the Universalists? Again, we both agree that people need to hear the Gospel i.e. of salvation through the blood of the known Christ to be saved, whereas we both disagree with the Universalists who have Hindus and all religionists of whatever hue saved?

    Push a Universalist hard enough and he will start telling you that people are or will be in Heaven because of something which they have contributed to their salvation. "I am saved because [cause] ..." Conditional Election folk (and I assume from your remarks here that you are such) have room to say: "I am saved because I am elect..." Glorious truth! But I see a fly in the ointment here if you take it further and I say: "I am elect because I had the spiritual wit to believe and this faith led to and is the direct cause of my election." OTOH: I am in the happy position of attributing my saving faith to the fact that I was elected, not because I did something or was seen to do something, but because of the free grace of God alone. I have very little in common with the Universalists other than those very basic Bible concepts which I share with all Theists of whatever name, again as we both do.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/18/2008 3:51 PM  

  • Where we disagree goodnight is in the idea that grace must be received.. as in a gift must be received.. if Ed McMahon himself came to my door with the big check and I simply rejected his offer that might be filled with grace, love, mercy (fill in the blank) then the gift would be to no effect because it was not received. I think that God's gift must also be received.. I think that is part of the deal.. I don't know why we make such a big deal of it.. all it is is saying yes to Jesus.

    For me Calvinism is like Universalism in that it's view of humanity is that of a pet owner. Here is an excerpts from what I wrote a while back about Universalism.. something I called Divine Pets:

    "Maybe we are all divine dogs and cats - loved deeply by their Owner but not really respected by Him ... made by Him but not really in His image ... His to play with and stroke lovingly but truly unable to be a collaborator with Him in His kingdom . I find this to view to be somewhat condescending and demeaning."

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/18/2008 4:08 PM  

  • Bob: Are you under the impression that I (or Calvinists)do not believe that the gift of God is to be received?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/18/2008 4:18 PM  

  • Where we disagree is to whom the gift is given.

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/18/2008 4:23 PM  

  • Bob: Surely we both agree that the gift is actually given only to the elect, or (to word it another way) that only the elect actually receive it?

    I suggest that we disagree on how the elect become elect? I root it entirely in the free grace of God without any human contribution whatsover. You appear to me to put man at the centre of his own election?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/18/2008 4:32 PM  

  • Interesting.. to simply say that anyone can receive grace is put to man at the center of his own election.. it is like saying that the receiver of the gift is more important than the giver of the gift.. which I do not hold to.

    I merely submit that God offers grace to all and predestines based on His foreknowledge of whether one receives or rejects His gift.

    If one holds that receiving His gift is a work than I would question whether they have ever truly received an undeserved, unmerited, grace-filled gift.. or if their view of a gifts falls more in line with that of a birthday entitlement where the gift is expected and is no longer really a gift.

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/18/2008 4:51 PM  

  • Bob: The issue I raised here is how the elect became elect. In other words, is election conditional or unconditional? I argue for unconditional election. You, OTOH, argue for conditional election i.e. on the condition of your faith, as foreseen by God, you believe that you were elected. (If I am misstating your position, then please correct me). If I root election solely in the choice of God alone and argue that such leads to the elect sinner believing, then that is a different kettle of fish from saying that the foreseen faith of the sinner is the basis of his election. There is the root of election and there is the fruit of election. I place faith in Christ as the fruit. You place it as the root. I had no part to play in my election. OTOH, by your own admission, you have everything to play. It may not be anyone’s intention to make the receiver of the gift as important as the giver, but an observer looking on cannot fail to see that election in your scheme has your faith at its very heart and indeed could not exist without it.

    We may agree to differ here. Time is moving on, on this side of the Pond, and I must close for the night. Feel free to continue the discussion if you desire, and I’ll get back to you (DV) in the morning. Enjoy the rest of the Lord’s Day.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/18/2008 5:12 PM  

  • Good night goodnight. Here are a few thoughts/questions for tomorrow:

    If some are unconditionally elected then it seems that some are unconditionally damned. Am I missing something, or do you hold that a human is sent to Hell because God predestined it?

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/18/2008 5:38 PM  

  • Good morning Rose/Kansas Bob:

    There is no such a thing as unconditional damnation. The human soul is sent to hell because of his or her sin and nothing less. God does not deal with us in eternity as neutral beings, but as guilty, hell deserving sinners. The marvel is not that souls go to hell because of their sins, but that some go to Heaven purely because of God’s grace.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/19/2008 2:30 AM  

  • Interesting perspective goodnight.

    "some go to Heaven purely because of God’s grace"

    If this is representative of unconditional election then it seems that the converse would be unconditional damnation because it also seems to say that some go to hell because of God's choice to not elect them. If he chose to elect all as the Universalists affirm then sin would would not be an issue.

    Guess I am just confused at why you are okay with the idea that man is at the center of eternal damnation but has nothing to do with eternal election. Seems like an unjust view of humanity.. but I may not be following your logic.

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/19/2008 8:04 AM  

  • Hi Kansas Bob,
    Thanks for your part in the discussion. Your questions to GNSH (Colin) resonate with me.

    Colin,
    You said: It was also determined beforehand that God would save His people through means - not least the prayers of His people.

    That got me thinking. You are willing to say that God uses human means (prayers) to save people, yet you won't agree that God has made it possible for humans (just plain ordinary humans - not born again ones) to play any part (before regeneration) in the drama of their salvation? IOW, other people's prayers lead to an unsaved person's salvation more than anything is his own unregenerate heart/mind - his own make up as a human being?

    ... like the knowledge of God and the emptiness of life separated from God etc... none of those things experienced by the unregenerate can lead him to faith when hearing of the truth. We have covered this before I remember. These things within the person can't be 'the means' of the person coming to faith because they are "totally depraved" (as you would define that) ....but the prayers of others can be 'the means' God uses?

    That is a surprising point of view.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/19/2008 9:06 AM  

  • Bob:

    [i] Is it fair to say that a murderer goes to the gallows (or whatever) because the authorities refused to pardon him? [ii] Or does it sound more accurate to say that a murderer goes to the gallows because one night he slit someone’s throat and watched them bleed to death? (Forgive the preacher’s licence here)
    [iii] If in the latter case, are the authorities under any obligation to be merciful and give him a royal or state pardon?
    [iv] Even if they grant the same to others?

    My answers to the above questions:
    [i] The refusal of the authorities to pardon is only incidental to the hanging of the murderer.
    [ii] This is the more accurate way of stating it. Had he not have murdered his victim, he would not have hung on the gallows. He is directly responsible for the crime and therefore the consequences.
    [iii] No – obligation and mercy cannot sit together in the same breath as in this question.
    [iv] No – they have the right to pardon whom they will and withhold pardon from whom they will.

    I think that you are being too kind to the sinful humanity in insisting that they must have a say in election. Where this issue is taken out of the hands of the guilty and deserving of hell sinners can hardly be called unjust.

    Your logic that if God chose to save all (as saith the Universalists) then sin would not be an issue is also faulty. It would seem to me (if God was still operating on the same principles and I would argue that He would be) then that Christ would actually bear away forever all the sins of all humanity and ensure that the Spirit of God convicted and regenerated them, as He currently does with His more limited grouping of the elect.

    Regards,

    P/s Thank you, Rose, for letting Bob and I use your comment box to have this amiable discussion together. I hope that God is using your prayer to bring SK to Himself.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/19/2008 9:08 AM  

  • I wonder if God uses circumstances - even things that are difficult for Christians personally or even troubling to their spirits when these come into their realm of experience - to fit into the big picture of glorifying himself.

    Duh, of course he does.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/19/2008 9:16 AM  

  • Another interesting response goodnight. It seems that, from your example, it would be appropriate for the earthly authorities to pardon some and not others based purely on their whim. This type of pardon would not wash with matters of earthly temporal justice.. at least not on this side of the pond.. why should it wash with heavenly eternal justice?

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/19/2008 9:33 AM  

  • Rose,

    Read it again, Rose, even as you quote it. The term…not least the prayers…of His people clearly suggests that there are other means that God uses. (The original matter, as you may remember, centred round your prayer for SK, hence the emphasis in my reference to the prayers of Christians) Your second sentence (upon which you build the rest of your comments here) seems to limit my view of means to the prayers of God’s people. Which is not the case.

    Yes, unregenerate people can be brought to faith in Christ through the means of their knowledge of God – as taught (say) in Sunday School or a tract etc., Yes…perhaps the emptiness of life separated from God may be used to speak to the unregenerate. Where Total Depravity comes in is that the unregenerate will not make ultimate use of these means without the direct intervention of the Spirit of God. Left to its sinful self, the sinful soul takes these same means and uses them to curse God and to drive themselves further away from Him. When all is said and done, there is none that seeketh after God, is there (if Paul be right…and he is, he is) and will not, until they are enabled by the Spirit of God to do so.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/19/2008 9:39 AM  

  • Kansas Bob:

    Has the authorities over there never issued a pardon for crimes?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/19/2008 9:40 AM  

  • Of course our authorities have issued pardons.. why do you ask?

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/19/2008 9:45 AM  

  • Of course our authorities have issued pardons.. why do you ask?

    I just thought it was relevant to our discussion.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/19/2008 9:52 AM  

  • Colin,

    Can I deduce from your response that it is be appropriate for British authorities to pardon some and not others based purely on their whim?

    -Bob

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/19/2008 9:56 AM  

  • Can I deduce from your response that it is be appropriate for British authorities to pardon some and not others based purely on their whim?

    Bob: No. Personally, I struggle with that idea. Furthermore, I do not believe that God pardons some purely on His whim as if He were a despot (in the modern meaning of the word) When God thinks or speaks or acts, all His attributes come into play, so that He does not deny Himself.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/19/2008 10:05 AM  

  • "When God thinks or speaks or acts, all His attributes come into play, so that He does not deny Himself."

    Can't argue with you there Colin.. I think that the Universalists would also agree :)

    Sorry for that last one.. just couldn't resist.

    I have enjoyed the dialog and hope that I have not offended in any way. Maybe a few others will pop into the conversation.. I don't think that I have much else to say.

    Blessings, Bob

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/19/2008 10:13 AM  

  • Fair enough, Bob. I always enjoying chatting with those of different views in an amiable setting. Maybe, as you say, some of the others will come in as Rose has done already.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/19/2008 10:35 AM  

  • Hi Rose my dear sister! ;-)

    Colin I appreciate you so much. ;-) That being said…

    Is it possible for any to be elect apart from Christ?

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/19/2008 7:17 PM  

  • Good morning Rose/KC:

    KC: No, I would all that all who are elected (at least unto salvation) are elected in Christ. As Paul puts it in Ephesians 1:4 "Chosen in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world"

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/20/2008 4:05 AM  

  • Hi Sis. ;-)

    Colin I think that is an excellent verse to consider. Who do you understand is the “us” that is chosen in Christ in this verse?

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/20/2008 6:53 AM  

  • Hi Kc

    I consider the "us" to be the elect souls of all ages -

    [i] Those in the past who have since left this scene of the time,

    [ii] Those who are alive here and now and confess faith in Jesus Christ

    [iii] Those who are alive here and now and who do not yet confess faith in Jesus Christ but will do so before they die

    [iv] Those who are yet to be born, and who confess faith in Jesus Christ before they die.

    I assume that you agree with me on this?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/20/2008 7:58 AM  

  • Colin I consider that these verses were addressed to “the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus”. I suspect the intent of your question was to determine who I consider elect in which case my answer must be those who are in Christ. To be specific:

    [i] Those in the past who have since left this scene of the time,
    I agree contingent upon the fact that they are in Christ.

    [ii] Those who are alive here and now and confess faith in Jesus Christ
    Agreed, semantics aside. ;-)

    [iii] Those who are alive here and now and who do not yet confess faith in Jesus Christ but will do so before they die
    On these I would disagree. Those who believe not are condemned.

    Would you consider a man can be both elect and condemned? ;-)

    My best regards to you as well, always.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/20/2008 8:34 AM  

  • Kc:

    You are right to close up the unintentional loophole I left re: those elect in the past i.e. that they are in Christ. (My written words caught lagging behind my thoughts) We agree on the first point and also the second. You express disagreement on the third because (as you say) those who believe not are condemned. You then apply the obvious question: Would you consider a man can be both elect and condemned? ;-)

    My answer: Yes. Election is unto salvation (in all its fulness) and the word “salvation” presupposes something to be delivered from i.e. condemnation. Paul (and others) clearly links the doctrine of election to eternity past, yet we read of the elect Ephesians (and others) that they had been children of wrath even as others. As their salvation was still future in AD33, the Lord Jesus prayed for them in the future tense in John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word…” They were elect at that time, (hence the prayer) but still children of wrath and remained children of wrath until they believed Christ’s word as taught in John 5:24.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/20/2008 8:47 AM  

  • Colin in this we agree:

    Election is unto salvation (in all its fulness) and the word “salvation” presupposes something to be delivered from i.e. condemnation. Paul (and others) clearly links the doctrine of election to eternity past yet we read of the elect Ephesians (and others) that they had been children of wrath even as others. As their salvation was still future in AD33, the Lord Jesus prayed for them in the future tense in John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word…”

    Where we would contend is in the notion that the knowledge of God is by virtue of His determinate will alone and not by reason of His omniscience given His permissive will.

    I do not find any scriptural argument contending that Christ knew there would be those who would believe because God had formerly individually selected them. I only find that those in Christ are elect. Further, and more importantly, I do not find any form of election of any kind, other than damnation, for those who are not in Christ.

    I believe my question, although rhetorical, still stands.

    Again, my best regards.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/20/2008 9:17 AM  

  • KC,

    You wrote: I only find that those in Christ are elect.

    I agree, but I suspect coming at these words a different way to you. It would seem that the phrase “in Christ” carries different connotations (not merely between dissenting brethren) but even within the perfect harmony of the Bible itself.

    The Bible teaches, as seen in Ephesians 1:4, that the elect were “chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world” The elect at this time were neither born nor saved but were marked out for salvation nevertheless. Thus when they were born and even while they were sinning and rejecting the gospel and under the wrath of God, they were still elect or “chosen in Christ.” Yet, having said that, we know that the Bible also teaches that a man who is in Christ is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) Therefore, the term “in Christ” must be seen to carry different connotations. I might word it thus: I was chosen in Christ from all eternity – that is my election. I am safe in Christ from when I fled to Him for refuge – that is my salvation. Election leads to salvation and when all is said and done, only the elect are saved.

    Like Kansas Bob in yesterday’s comments, you seen to be setting man at the centre of his own election? God’s choice of the sinner seems to hinge on the sinner’s choice of God? Again, correct me if I am fundamentally wrong.

    I agree with you 100% that we do not find any form of election of any kind, other than damnation, for those who are not in Christ. I seem to suggest otherwise in my words above, but I was thinking of Judas Iscariot whom Christ said that he had chosen, but obviously not “chosen unto salvation.”

    If election is not of individuals, then perhaps (I speak rhetorically) salvation is not of individuals also? :o)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/20/2008 9:48 AM  

  • Colin thanks again for your considered response.

    Can you explain how you perceive me as portraying man at the center of election when I say that all is contingent upon Christ? It seems to me that if a man is elect apart from Christ then he is at the center of election and not Christ.

    I find that scripturally any connotation of election, salvation and predestination are all collectively in Christ and only in Him. and apart from Him there is only damnation.

    With respect to Ephesians 1:4 I still find it critical to determine who “us in Christ” refers to in the text. I believe Paul made clear in his salutation that “the faithful in Christ Jesus” and “us in Christ” are one and the same. These are they who are to “be holy and without blame before him in love”. It is ”us in Christ”, past, present and future who are chosen to ”be holy and blameless before Him”. I find no scriptural evidence that there is any way, past present or future to be in Christ but by God’s grace through our faith.

    Can any man say he believed before or from birth? ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/20/2008 5:08 PM  

  • Kc,

    If you believe in conditional election in the popular sense of the term, then you believe that the whole election process and where it leads hangs on your decision. At best, it is you and God, with God responding to your faith and electing you to salvation. Faith here in your scheme ceases to be the instrument and effectively becomes the cause.

    You write I find that scripturally any connotation of election, salvation and predestination are all collectively in Christ and only in Him. and apart from Him there is only damnation. I agree 100%.

    Re: Ephesians 1:4, these said Ephesians were said to be chosen “in Christ” before the foundation of the world. Therefore they came into the world as sinners, but as “sinners – chosen in Christ” There is a sequence here of events that places their being chosen “in Christ” long before they were born…never mind before they exercised faith. Therefore their faith is a consequence of their election rather than a cause. Your concluding question (Can any man say that he believed before or from birth ought to show you that insisting that no one can be chosen in Christ unless they have exercised faith is erroneous. As I say (or rather Paul says) – Here are people who were chosen “in Christ” long before they were born. How do you explain that?

    Enjoying this exchange of views with you,

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/20/2008 5:33 PM  

  • I am continuing to enjoy the conversation.. couldn't resist responding to this:

    "Here are people who were chosen “in Christ” long before they were born. How do you explain that?"

    I answer by reiterating my previous response:

    I merely submit that God offers grace to all and predestines based on His foreknowledge of whether one receives or rejects His gift.

    I think the issue is what God foreknows not who He foreknows.. if He foreknows the elect then it seems that we would have pre-existed in a way that He could "know" us. So I think that the "what" He foreknew was our acceptance of His gift.. that simple yes to Jesus.. no work involved.. just a simple yes to His gift.

    Hope I didn't muddy the water for kc.

    -Bob

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/20/2008 5:55 PM  

  • Hi Sis. Thanks for the space!

    Colin it is an honor and a privilege for me to study these things with men such as yourself and Bob who I’ve grown to admire and respect through your writings. I am comforted knowing that in our discussions we all place our greatest confidence in the scripture and not in our understanding. I look forward to the day when we can sit at His feet and I can say, “I told you so!” ;-)

    It still seems that you read Ephesians as if it were addressed to others than those who are ”the faithful in Christ Jesus”. It is as if you read vs. 4 to say, ”he hath chosen us TO BE in him” rather than, ”he hath chosen us in him. Is it that you imply "to be" into verse 4?

    Every reference to us and we in this book is made to a very definitive group of people, ”the faithful in Christ Jesus”. It is this group who are chosen and predestined.

    Do you find scripture to indicate that men are elected to eternal life?

    As an aside I think John 6:40 declares that God gives Christ those who both perceive Him and believe in Him. Given that only the faithful in Christ Jesus are chosen and predestined for the blessings detailed in Ephesians 1 it should be clear that faith in Christ is prerequisite.

    I look forward to your thoughts as always.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/21/2008 12:46 AM  

  • Good morning Rose, Bob and Kc,

    The main difference between our views of election here (in Ephesians 1:4 and elsewhere) is not that I do not associate being chosen in Christ with faith etc., but rather in the matter of which comes first i.e. what leads to what. I hold that election in eternity past infallibly leads to faith in Christ in time. Romans 8:29-30 gives the divine order: Whom God foreknew [Bob: The issue is whom God foreknew, not what. We are speaking here of individuals…not information] He also did predestinate and whom He predestinated, them He also called and whom He called, them He also justified etc. Evidently, they had no faith before they were justified (for justification is the result of the instrumentality of faith) but they had already been called and they were called because they had been already predestinated and foreknown i.e. elected. You seem to hold that election is the fruit of faith – I hold that faith is the fruit of election.

    I do not hold that we were chosen “to be” in Him in Ephesians 1:4, but rather (as it stands) chosen “in Him” and that from the foundation of the world.

    Kc – Where you (like the Ephesians) “in Christ” from the foundation of the world? Bob offers the thought that we were placed “in Christ” at that time on account of His foreknowing that we would be believe, but you seem to insist that if we are “in Christ” then we must have already believed. I must therefore repeat my question – Were you actually “in Christ” long before you were born?

    KC enquires if there is Scripture that indicates that men are elected to eternal life. Yes. The obvious one is Acts 13:48 where as many as were ordained to eternal life believed - Again, note the order - being ordained to eternal life – they [then] believed.

    The important matter here (in a practical sense) is that we all believe that the gospel is to be proclaimed to every last sinner and that men are urged to look in faith to the uplifted Son of God (John 3:14-15). Let us “Let God be God” with His own message and let us be found doing what He commands us to do – “Preaching the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)

    Regards,


    P/s Kc:- I've stole a march on you. I've told you so now! :o)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/21/2008 3:32 AM  

  • Hi Rose

    I was sought by those who did not ask for Me;
    I was found by those who did not seek Me.
    I said, 'Here I am, here I am,'
    To a nation that was not called by My name.
    Isaiah 65:1

    I believe this shows God's heart! Like the Father that wants to be found.

    alvin

    By Blogger alvin, at 5/21/2008 7:22 AM  

  • Someone kill the fatted calf...

    :o)

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/21/2008 8:37 AM  

  • Colin I would say that, in a broader context, our differences arise from our interpretation of the text based on our understanding and/or presuppositions of God’s will but I agree that these have a great bearing on any doctrine concerning election. Where I would find that the providence of God in Christ is available to all His creation you would say that He limited it from “eternity past”.

    Nevertheless, I concede. You have planted the flag before me! ;-)

    “The important matter here (in a practical sense) is that we all believe that the gospel is to be proclaimed to every last sinner and that men are urged to look in faith to the uplifted Son of God (John 3:14-15). Let us “Let God be God” with His own message and let us be found doing what He commands us to do – “Preaching the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)”

    Toward this end you are exemplary and I wish you Godspeed and every blessing in Christ our Lord. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/21/2008 9:27 AM  

  • Kc

    Enjoyed the discussiion with you. Although I see that we've moved slightly now from election and salvation to God's Providence. That is a much wider subject than before.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/21/2008 9:33 AM  

  • Colin, are you sure we’re talking about apples and oranges here? I only find apples of Gold! (Yes that is an offer to continue at your place!) ;-)

    Rose, thanks once more.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/21/2008 9:47 AM  

  • Fair enough, KC

    Articulate your thoughts into a short paragraph and I'll transfer it over to our Apples of Gold site and we can take it from there.

    Thanks Rose for use of your cyber space.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/21/2008 9:55 AM  

  • KC,
    It is so ggod to see you once again! I appreciate your concise challenge to Colin. I have enjoyed thoroughly the back and forth between you two gentleman. If you feel you must take it to Apples of Gold, I will want to read it there too, but you don't have to go away! I appreciate the discussion and it doesn't feel like a burden - not one wit - to have it on my blog.

    You are both such fine internet discussers. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/21/2008 10:05 AM  

  • Alvin,
    What a wonderful Scripture to share. Thank you so much. You are welcome on this blog anytime - it is good to see your comment.

    Colin,
    why do you want to kill a calf? ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/21/2008 10:07 AM  

  • Rose:

    Did you "wink" there deliberately or was that just something in your eye?

    :0)

    P/s If you want us to stay in your cyber parlour, then I'm happy enough to stay.

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/21/2008 10:15 AM  

  • Thanks Sis for all and Colin thanks to you as well for the study and your kindness. Please forgive my slow response but I will reply at each opportunity.

    If you allow I would like to continue our discussion on the Ephesians passage before moving on to the book of Acts.

    I have proposed from the salutation that this text is addressed specifically to the faithful in Christ, including those at Ephesus. Do you find anything in this text that would indicate that, even from the foundation of the world, God has chosen any other than the faithful in Christ as ”predestinated unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself”?

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/21/2008 11:11 AM  

  • Hi again, Kc,

    All, without exception, whom God has chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world will infallibly be brought to be found among the faithful in Christ. It just takes a bit of time on God’s part. When God chose them, none of them existed and therefore none had faith in Christ. But one by one they were brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ and at that Last Great Day, it will be found (as said) that every last one so chosen will have been brought to the Saviour.

    Take your time as you need. I can reply quickly enough at the moment because abysmal weather has kept me indoors this afternoon.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/21/2008 11:26 AM  

  • Colin thanks for your response and your patience.

    You wrote:

    “All, without exception, whom God has chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world will infallibly be brought to be found among the faithful in Christ. It just takes a bit of time on God’s part. When God chose them, none of them existed and therefore none had faith in Christ. But one by one they were brought to saving faith in Jesus Christ and at that Last Great Day, it will be found (as said) that every last one so chosen will have been brought to the Saviour.”

    Do you infer all this from the Ephesians text? ;-)

    Do I understand that you would agree that it is the faithful in Christ that are chosen and predestined according to this text?

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/21/2008 12:02 PM  

  • Please keep praying for SK.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/21/2008 12:17 PM  

  • I am still a lil stuck on your "means" statement too, Colin. I think God uses the means of man's choice to come to Him as He calls all men through the gospel to accomplish what He wants, but you don't, yet you are willing to say God uses all these other means to get what He wants. I think maybe we actually have a fundamentally different idea of what God wants, it just occurred to me.

    (I was just reminded of a blog post I read somewhere once that said that God doesn't "want" anything - he gets whatever He wants and therefore He doesn't want - He just decrees. I thought that was so weird.)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/21/2008 12:24 PM  

  • Do you infer all this from the Ephesians text? ;-)

    No, but I find this one piece fits the rest of the jigsaw :o)

    Do I understand that you would agree that it is the faithful in Christ that are chosen and predestined according to this text?

    Yes. They were chosen before they came to faith in Christ and they were chosen to come to faith in Christ.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/21/2008 12:27 PM  

  • Colin,

    If we can agree that the ”us” referenced in the Ephesians text pertains to the faithful in Christ, past, present and future then can we can agree that while these text do not identify those persons individually who are chosen, it does define them collectively as those who are faithful in Christ?

    This being the case would you agree that we could not possibly infer from this text that any person is chosen who is not faithful in Christ?

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/21/2008 1:38 PM  

  • Kc

    Yes on both accounts, although the second re: "our inferring" relates to our ignorance of whom the (as yet) unsaved elect are. God obviously knows who all the elect are, but we do not. If someone comes to me and uses election as an excuse as to why they will not come to Christ, my response would be to the effect: "How do you know?" and argue the case from their responsibility to flee for refuge to Him. Likewise, if someone should argue that they are elect but have not come to Christ. In the latter case, I would still urge them to flee to Christ outside of whose name there is no salvation. There are more pressing matters to be brought to the sinner's notice than the finer details of the doctrine of election!

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/21/2008 1:49 PM  

  • Hello Rose!
    Good discussion.
    I'm not going to get into it except for a couple of quick comments.


    [Colin: There are more pressing matters to be brought to the sinner's notice than the finer details of the doctrine of election! ]

    Amen, Colin!

    Let a man go to the school of faith and repentance, before he goes to the university of election and predestination.
    --John Bradford


    [Bob: I think the issue is what God foreknows not who He foreknows.. if He foreknows the elect then it seems that we would have pre-existed in a way that He could "know" us. So I think that the "what" He foreknew was our acceptance of His gift.. that simple yes to Jesus.. no work involved.. just a simple yes to His gift.]
    Bob,
    God knew Jeremiah before he ever existed and that is true of everyone he created and will create.

    Jeremiah 1:4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

    5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    and before you were born I consecrated you;
    I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

    6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7 But the Lord said to me,

    “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
    for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
    and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
    8 Do not be afraid of them,
    for I am with you to deliver you...



    Colin: I hold that election in eternity past infallibly leads to faith in Christ in time. Romans 8:29-30 gives the divine order: Whom God foreknew [Bob: The issue is whom God foreknew, not what. We are speaking here of individuals…not information] He also did predestinate and whom He predestinated, them He also called and whom He called, them He also justified etc.

    Excellent answer Colin.

    Every Blessing,
    Susan

    By Blogger VA ~Susan, at 5/21/2008 3:35 PM  

  • Hi Rose. Provocative title, even after after the redress. :^)

    Bob said, I think the issue is what God foreknows not who He foreknows.. if He foreknows the elect then it seems that we would have pre-existed in a way that He could "know" us. So I think that the "what" He foreknew was our acceptance of His gift.. that simple yes to Jesus.. no work involved.. just a simple yes to His gift.

    Hi Bob. I hope you don't mind me wading in here, but this statement made me a little curious.

    I have always understood time and space as being attributes of creation. That is, I don't imagine that there is some space somewhere that God did not create, nor do I imagine that there is some "time" bubble that exists or has existed that God Himself did not create.

    To be sure, time and space are related, where one finds one, one finds the other, such that we are not stretching truth or imagination to conclude that if Gods apart from creation, then God certainly exists apart from time.

    We, as finite beings in a finite universe have a finite spacial, and temporal perspective. We cannot be in two places at once, nor can we be in two times at once - our consciousness exists as a singularity in time and space - it moves through both time and space, but only occupies a finite measure of each.

    Because we live only in the present, from our perspective time seems to be scalar - that is, we imagine time in terms of past, present, and future - and so it does not surprise us if some have only ever imagined time as they perceive it to be from their finite temporal/spatial perspective.

    If God were indeed bound to time in the same sense as we are - that is, if God also is bound to the moment - then it makes sense to imagine God looking down the tunnel of time to see what we will do in "the future" - but such a notion is premised on the presumption that God experiences time in a chronological manner - a premise that by its very nature suggests that God is bound by time in some sense.

    I think a more nuanced understanding of time and space might be to picture all time and space as a great ball, and God, apart from this ball, is able to see it all in the same glance, that is perhaps a better way of thinking of how God "foresaw" things. He sees the end and the beginning in the same glance, and everything in between - not as a vision of the future, but because God is equally in every place and every time.

    Such a concept is perhaps difficult for those who can only fathom time as a linear thing, that one passes through on a moving point from past to future. But if time is understood as a created thing - a thing that is "outside" of God - then one is able to at least appreciate how foreknowledge may be a little more sophisticated than seeing a vision of the future.

    If God created any time, He must have created -all- time at the same time, otherwise God is constantly creating brand new moments... That might sound plausible, until we remember that God cannot create anything corrupt, and time and space are now cursed, that is corrupted. It stands to reason therefore, for those who give it any thought at least, that God created all time simultaneously, otherwise whatever is new is being created "corrupt".

    Given therefore the premise that God created all time at once, and sees all time at once, the notion of pre-existence in God's mind is really a question of perspective. Certainly we pre-existed in God's mind - since he created all creation, and all time in the same moment - he would have to know us from the very beginning, because to God the beginning and the end are all part of a single whole which was made in the same moment (from His perspective).

    Not that this really addresses the main point you make that I would like to comment on - but rather is put out there as food for thought - knowing that time is a creation ought to (at the very least), give us pause when it comes to speculating about how election looks from God's perspective.

    Notwithstanding, the one thing we -must- conclude, is that if God's election was actually a reaction to our own choice, albeit a reaction that chronologically happened prior to our choice, it is still, none-the-less, a reaction on God's part, and there is no grace in it whatsoever, in fact there is only obligation right?

    I mean, God is now obliged to elect those who chose Him. Thus salvation may well be by faith, but we cannot say it is by grace unless we redefine grace to be some sort of obligatory service rendered on our behalf, merited by our own sovereign choice.

    This of course opens the flood gates. Why did I choose to come to Christ and my friend did not? Why did the gospel affect me and why didn't it affect him? What caused my choice - was it my upbringing, my wisdom, my fear? Was it entirely random? Did I just happen to believe?

    Do I conclude that my salvation was a random act - that for no reason whatsoever I believed, and God, seeing my belief from the dawn of time became obligated to elect me? Do I conclude that my entirely salvation has been nothing more than a lucky chance?

    And if not chance, then I must admit that something in me, however small - was more wise, or more spiritual, or better able to flee the wrath to come than the person beside me who didn't - and unless God put that in me, I have only my own self to thank for it - and if I can thank myself and no other for it, then I have something to boast about on judgment day - because I made the right decision, being better in some way than those who didn't.

    If I can't make that boast, then I must conclude that whatever it was in me that chose God, was not put there by chance or by myself - but rather was put there by God - and that God did not put that in everyone, for if he did, I am back to the same argument - why did I act on what God put there, and not another - whatever the reason, if God was not behind it, then I can take credit, and though God helped me out in my salvation - it was either my own might, or random chance that cast the deciding vote.

    Do you see that if you say that God did not chose you, except at as a reaction to your own choice, it makes salvation something we can boast about? Then salvation is not for those whom God elects, but for those who elect themselves by their own might, or whom random chance elects - for God simply becomes a power by which our own right decision saves us.

    Let me know if that makes any sense.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 5/21/2008 4:59 PM  

  • Thanks for your great comment Daniel. The way that you describe time and timelessness are consistent with my thinking as well. That being the case, then God would see yesterday, today and tomorrow from that timeless dimension and He would see our miniscule response to Him from the beginning and based on that foreknowledge He would foreknow us.

    I submit that your picture of grace is of a limited grace.. where you might say that man's response to grace makes grace to no effect (because it requires a miniscule human response) I would counter and say that grace that excludes one human being in all of history is not really grace at all.. it is merely divine favoritism at best.

    What do you make of pride Daniel (and others)? Why is God opposed to the proud? Why does He give grace to the humble? If our response to His grace is not important than what is the big deal with humility? If only the elect can be humble then why should God take issue with pride? It is really all the non-elect would have left if they were not given grace.

    Grace to you, Bob

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/21/2008 6:07 PM  

  • Bob, I thank you for taking the time to read my comment.

    You countered, ...that grace that excludes one human being in all of history is not really grace at all.. it is merely divine favoritism at best.

    If grace is universally given, and that same grace fails to instantiate faith in everyone, then that grace is only effective in those who have something of themselves to add to it. Wouldn't you agree that this is the only logical conclusion to your counter?

    That is, if grace is universal, then salvation is not by grace through faith, but rather by appropriated grace through faith.

    The onus then is not on grace, since everyone gets it, but on the person to rightly appropriate it in order to be saved by it through faith.

    That puts us in the same box doesn't it. Why does one man appropriate grace and another fail to do so? Because there is either something in grace that causes one man to appropriate it, or there is something in man that causes man to appropriate it, or there is nothing in either grace or in man that works, but chance. If grace is universal, then our salvation is either determined by chance, or by some merit in ourselves that others either do not, or will not produce - and in the end we can boast either in chance or in our own appropriation.

    I don't mind if a person admits that they believe they are saved because there is something superior in them that God didn't put there - something that makes them better than those who do not believe, and something for which they have every right to boast, both now and in heaven - at least that seems consistent. I would of course conclude that they were erring having misunderstand certain foundational truths about grace, but I would admire their consistency nonetheless.

    Consider if you will, the fellow who hires a person at 6 a.m. to work all day for a fixed number of denarii. At 9 a.m. the same agrees with another to have him work all day for the same fixed wage. This goes on each hour or so, so that at 5 p.m. he even sends one more into the field for the remaining hour. At 6 p.m. he calls in the workers and begins to pay their wages beginning with those who came last. He pays them the full wage for the day - and those who worked all day see this and reason with the same sort of reasoning you are presenting - that because the man was gracious and gave those who came last a full days wage, that they would receive a larger share because, after all, they did work longer and harder. When it came time to pay them however, they received the exact same amount as the fellow who came late - and they were indignant, because they honestly believed that the gracious generosity showed to the one person obligated him to be equally generous with them.

    You see, that kind of obligatory grace is not grace at all, it is wickedness that springs from a carnal mindset. The fellow was not being "unfair" to those who worked all day just because he was gracious to the ones who hadn't. Or put another way - the man was free to do with his money as he saw fit. The only reason they were upset is because they were reasoning that if the man paid one person a full days wage for one hours work, they who worked 12 hours (a full day), ought to get 12 days wage - all things being equal.

    That is the problem there - they were reasoning from the idea that grace is something that is obligatory - that if you give one, you must give all in equal measure.

    So it is that your understanding of grace strikes me as skewed, and I say that with due respect - not as an incitement to debate, for I do not imagine you are malicious or wicked or any such thing - I merely suggest that your understanding of grace is in tune with the way the world thinks, and in tune with the way we are taught from our earliest years - but not in tune with (at least as I see it) the biblical picture of grace.

    If I have four children, and one day I come home and on that day I fail to give any of them ice cream, I have done no wrong to them. They did not earn ice cream, and I have not injured them in any way by not giving them ice cream. If I come home the next day and give to one and only one of them ice cream, and the other three receive nothing - I have likewise done nothing wrong to the other three, for they neither earned ice cream, nor have they lacked anything just because I was generous to the one. Grace is like that - it is unmerited favor, given not deserved, and not according to obligation, and not universally.

    Let me know if this helps to illumine my explanation of these matters.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 5/21/2008 7:27 PM  

  • Bob, I am off to prayer meeting, so I won't be able to address your question of pride today, and my time on the net is limited, so I may not get back to it at all. But in a nutshell, there is no one who is not proud, we are by default rebels - and unless God does a work in us, we remain rebels. God has chosen, because it suited His purpose to do so, to call people to humility even if no one can be humble unless God grants them humility. God asks us to do what we cannot because that causes us to understand our need of God. If we could do anything without God, we wouldn't need God. Commanding us to do what we are unable to do without God's help is one way God uses to draw the elect to Christ.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 5/21/2008 7:31 PM  

  • Thanks Daniel. Using your analogy.. what if the child rejects the ice cream offered? It seems that he does not have to be a partaker - it is his call whether to simply receive the gift.. he didn't work for it and cannot say that He earned it.. he simply responded to your kind and gracious offer of ice cream.. it would be ludicrous for him to say that his response to the ice cream was work.. all he did was to say yes to your gift.

    Of course you could have offered it to all of the children.. unless your gift was limited and you were simply too poor to buy enough ice cream for all.. not a great example of the grace of God.

    I wonder if your defnition of faith as a work is part of the deal.. your child didn't see his childlike response as work.. he was just received ice cream from his father who loves him so much.. I wonder why do many see a simple yes as this giant work?

    I'll bet you are glad that you used the example of the limited ice cream supply :)

    Enjoying the dialog Daniel but okay if you do not have time to continue it.

    Many Blessings, Bob

    PS: I suspect that pride has been a problem from the beginning. If it is all God then it seems silly for God to command us to humble ourselves.

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/21/2008 7:56 PM  

  • Bob, I appreciate the limits of my example re: the ice cream.

    My example, while a good explanation of grace, is hardly a picture of the gospel offer. It simply illustrates that a child does not suddenly "deserve" ice cream just because another sibling got some who likewise did not deserve it. It also illustrates (or ought to) that there is nothing wicked about giving a gift to one child - even if none of the other children get the same gift.

    Grace, if it is obligatory, is not grace. Grace is undeserved, and one does not suddenly deserve grace simply because someone else received it. That is the point of grace - grace isn't grace when it is owed to us, nor is the giver of grace evil if he doesn't give to all equally - that idea of "fairness" is not divine in origin, but secular - at its root it says, if neither you nor I deserve anything, and one of us receives something - the other is entitled to the same, or the giver is "not fair". But this doctrine of "fairness" is not found in scripture - it is found in the school system where teachers know that to give one child in thirty a treat means 29 selfish, crying children to contend with - and so the rule is unless you can placate all, you must not show favoritism. Not because it is altruistic, but becaue most children are too immature to deal with their own greed in a constructive way.

    I do not, nor will I ever define faith as a work. I am sorry if I have given you that erroneous impression. Faith is certainly more than a profession, more than an intellectual persuasion, but it is not a work - it is simply a settled trust in God - that He will do all that He promises. Trust is not a work, but it is more than an intellectual assent that the truth is true - it must be trusted in once beleived in order to be "faith".

    If I wanted to give examples of election, I would not use ice cream to do it. I would use something that makes evident that we are all dead in our trespasses and sins.

    An example of election might run like this:

    A brilliant and benevolent doctor and his son were given the corpses of a dozen convicted murderers for experimentation. The doctor had found a way to give life back to the dead, but at a great cost. He reasoned that although the corpses no longer possessed a life of their own, he could connect these corpses to the body of his own son - their death would destroy the son - but there was enough life left in the son that once dead, he could be brought back to life - and if brought back to life, his life would infiltrate the bodies that were connected with him so that they too would experience life - not the old life that they previously had, but a new life - the life of the son. The son agreed to this, and the father elected three of the twelve bodies. They had no say in the matter. They were joined to the son, and their death slew him as expected. But the life of the son was now spread to these dead bodies, and when the father put the defibrilator on the son, the son came back to life, and that same life now worked in the corpses who had been united with him - and they too came to life. But they were changed - the life that was in them was the son's life - and that "life" loved the father, even as their old "flesh" desired all the old lusts of their former lives. These corpses came back to life through the son's life who took their death into himself and gave his life to them. That new life they received could by no means deny the father whom the son loved, and so, even though they had been murderers in their previous life - yet the life of the son changed them, from one day to the next, into people who loved the father - and as the life of the son that was in them overcame their previous "lives" - they became more and more like the son whose life was sustaining them.

    Granted it is a little on the maccabre side, but off the cuff it satisfies for the purpose of describing election. The point is that the corpses did not chose to come to life - they came to life because the son was united to them in death - the only way a person can believe the gospel that is, the only way a person can do something "spiritual" is if the Spirit of God acts upon them. This "grace" that I speak of is what allows a person to go from hearing the truth to trusting the truth - for there is nothing in a corpse that would make him come to life - he has to be brought to life, and that is the point.

    As to it seeming silly for God to command us to be humble - God commands us to be holy too, and sinless. Can you be sinless? Can anyone? If you cannot be sinless, it seems pretty unreasonable of God to command it - unless the point of the command is, as the scripture says, to condemn us so that we fall upon Christ - that is, the commandments are like a tutor they teach us that we are condemned, and if condemned, that we need a Savior - that is, they are a tutor that brings us to Christ.

    Not unreasonable, but certainly not the sort of wisdom that men commonly admire.

    Let me know if I am coming across as a big mouth or anything like that. I am typing quickly, and sometimes my haste comes off as cold and unloving. I enjoy the discussion, and don't want to come across as handing down what is "right" - but rather explaining how I understand things, and engaging any questions about these understandings. My hope is to teach, but not by being closed to any truth the Lord would use you to bring to me.

    Grace to you Bob.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 5/21/2008 10:52 PM  

  • Good morning Sis, Colin (and all),

    Colin,

    Please forgive me this observation but your previous comment illustrates the beautiful heart and irony I have come to love in all “Spurgeonist”. – “To the devil with theology man! You need to believe in Jesus Christ and there’s NO reason not to!” ;-)

    In your first response to me in this thread you wrote:

    “I would all that all who are elected (at least unto salvation) are elected in Christ. As Paul puts it in Ephesians 1:4 "Chosen in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world"

    indicating this text pertains to an election that is to salvation. I think, from our discussion, that we have agreed that this text pertains only to the faithful in Christ. To infer it pertains to a previously undefined group who are elect to salvation presupposes that there is an election to salvation. To then use this text as evidence of such is to create a circular argument. Now my explanation here in no way disproves that there is an election to salvation but I hope it helps to illustrate how our presuppositions inform our interpretation.

    If we are in agreement that the choosing and predestination referred to in Ephesians 1 pertains only to the faithful in Christ and does not infer an election to salvation then I would be ready to move on to a discussion of the text in Acts.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/22/2008 3:03 AM  

  • Good morning, Rose/Kc

    Rose: Sorry I overlooked your reply to me before I made my last comment to KC. I think you misunderstand me (or more particularly the place of the human will in salvation.) It is not that the sinner is not willing to be saved or that anyone is saved against their will (I have never argued that) but that their willingness to be saved flows from the work of the Spirit of God upon their hearts. So when I address sinners, I appeal to their hearts and wills – I give them good reasons why they should flee to Christ immediately and warn them of their responsibility of refusing Christ (as summed up in John 5:40) What I am arguing here is that the willingness of the sinner to believe is the fruit of election - it is not the cause.

    Regarding God “wanting” – I suppose it all hangs on how much you want to push the “human emotions” picture that we get of God. Strictly speaking, if He was found in want, then He cannot, at the same time, be self sufficient and stand in need of nothing. OTOH it is clear that He has desires – things that He wants to see come to pass – and subsequently He sets in motion the needed train of events to bring them to pass. Ultimately, God is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. Job 23:13

    You are right to say that we disagree over what God desires. As far as desiring to the point where He is prepared to move Heaven and earth to achieve it, I say that He desires the salvation of His elect only. If I read you right, you have Him desiring the salvation of all men equally and is therefore is prepared to be frustrated, disappointed, and defeated in that He ultimately fails to achieve what He has set out to do.

    Kc: What I have said about Ephesians 1:4 is that it a single piece that fits into the overall jigsaw. I cannot therefore isolate Ephesians 1:4 from the rest of the Bible. Indeed the very next verse brings in what it seems that you (at this stage) want to keep out: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children and again, v11 where this is rooted according to His sovereign will. I state again: It relates to the faithful in Christ Jesus because the faithful in Christ Jesus are the fruit of election. If we were coming to Ephesians 1 with a whole load of questions, we would ask: (Among other questions, like “Who wrote it?” and “On what authority etc.,?” (All answered in v1)

    “Who is this letter addressed to?” Ans:- The faithful in Christ Jesus.
    “Are these people addressed a blessed people?” Ans:- Most assuredly. They are blessed with all spiritual blessings etc.,
    “On what basis are these people in Christ Jesus and so blessed?” Ans;- According as He hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world…” (v4)

    Regards,

    P/s I don’t think that saying that the dying sinner need put the finer details of election down the pile a little is the same as saying “To the Devil with theology.” But I smiled anyway. Rose probably laughed her leg off :o)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/22/2008 3:55 AM  

  • Colin,

    To be clear; I considered that a great compliment and I wish we were all so willing to forsake all for the sake of the Gospel. ;-)

    I hope I have made it clear that, although you find this text fits your understanding of the puzzle, it does not define how the puzzle will appear when it is complete. If your puzzle is partially complete and reveals four legs and fur it may yet be a horse and not a cow. ;-)

    I assure you I do not wish to leave out predestination in any way. The fact that the faithful in Christ are predestined to adoption as children is of great importance and I concur that this is according to God’s sovereign will yet this text does not support your proposition concerning an election to salvation. It only seems, as you say, to fit.

    God’s choice of us (the faithful) that are in Christ, before the foundation of the world only proves that the ”basis” of all our blessings from God is our faithfulness in Christ. It does not infer an election to salvation and does not infer that being faithful in Christ is consequential to having been chosen; again that requires a presupposition and creates a circular argument, i.e., “Q: Why were you chosen”, “A: Because I am faithful in Christ”, “Q: Why are you faithful in Christ?”, “A: Because I was chosen”.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/22/2008 4:49 AM  

  • Kc,

    I am really enjoying this chat with you (and the others).

    I’m afraid though it is you that has created the circular reasoning with your questions.
    I certainly wouldn’t answer your question: “Why were you chosen?” with the answer “Because I am faithful in Christ.”
    I would answer your question with this answer: “I was chosen because of no other reason that the free grace of God.”
    I would reserve your answer (“Because I am faithful in Christ”) for another question i.e. “Is there any evidence that you were chosen?” and give these words as part of the answer.

    To your second question: “Why are you faithful in Christ?” I would give your words “Because I was chosen” but again as part of the answer.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/22/2008 8:41 AM  

  • Daniel,

    Your second example of election seems to also indicate there is a limit to God's grace - imposed by the cost of such grace. The example of only bringing a fixed number of dead to life because one too many would make it impossible to bring the son back - that speaks not of whim or fairness or unconditional election, but of a limited grace.

    Am I interpreting this correctly?

    Thanks for your time. I always enjoy how you take your time to explain and illustrate your thoughts!

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 5/22/2008 9:18 AM  

  • Colin,

    I am always blessed in study with you. ;-)

    Do you find the text in Ephesians 1 provides either of your answers to those questions? IOW Does it infer that, “I was chosen because of no other reason [than] the free grace of God.” or that you are faithful in Christ, “because I was chosen”?

    If not then I think we can dismiss this text as having any bearing on an election to salvation and move on to the text in Acts.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/22/2008 9:19 AM  

  • Hi, Rose!

    Forgive my lack of consideration (which while in use, leads me to offer icecream to all my children - not just the one).

    :D

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 5/22/2008 9:21 AM  

  • Hi Kc,

    I don’t want to be running round in circles here with more or less the same answer every time. I don’t think we can dismiss Ephesians 1:4 as having any bearing on an election to salvation although if you want to move on to Acts 13:48, I am happy to do so.

    To doubt that Ephesians 1:4 does infers election by grace alone etc., is like doubting that Romans 10:13 infers salvation by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ. We might search the text and scrutinise the Greek original and find those actual words missing. However, that does not mean to say that the Apostle had any other salvation in mind than that which is by free grace alone through faith. Likewise in Ephesians 1:4 where the particular matter is the election that is spoken of elsewhere in the NT.

    If Ephesians 1:4 can be dismissed (as you indicate) as having any bearing on an election to salvation then what were we chosen unto from the foundation of the world that led us to be faithful in Christ Jesus?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/22/2008 9:41 AM  

  • Colin,

    Doesn’t the verse itself give the answer?

    “…that we should be holy and without blame before him in love”

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/22/2008 9:47 AM  

  • Colin,

    To be perfectly clear:

    We who are faithful in Christ were chosen to be holy and without blame before him in love.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/22/2008 9:49 AM  

  • Kc: If we were chosen to be holy and without blame before him in love (and there is no doubt about it) then we were chosen unto salvation, because salvation is all about being holy and without blame before him in love. Thou shalt call His name Jesus, because he shall save His people from the sins.” (Matthew 1:21) I’m afraid that I can’t understand why you want me to agree then that (and I quote) that the choosing and predestination referred to in Ephesians 1 pertains only to the faithful in Christ and does not infer an election to salvation. I’m still enjoying our exchanges here, but (I say it kindly) some of your responses here are not quite adding up.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/22/2008 11:15 AM  

  • Missy, you noticed that my second example of election seems to indicate there is a limit to God's grace.

    I think you are right to note that, but the conclusions you draw from it are not in keeping with my understanding of what grace is and why it is given.

    In my second example, I could have stated that the life of the son was sufficient to bring all dozen back to life, but that it was the father's prerogative to show mercy not to all unilaterally, but rather to whom he would. In this case the father chose to show mercy only to those whom he chose - the others received what was due them - death.

    So it was not that the son's life was unable to bring back all twelve, it was that the father determined to show mercy to whom he would show mercy, and not the corpses were chosen for this mercy.

    The father is by no means evil or unfair if he allows those who earned their deaths to remain dead. His act of mercy in bringing one or more to life does not in any way obligate him to do the same to others -- for (I will say it again) grace is not grace if it is an obligation.

    The moment we paint God's grace as an obligation - we are not longer painting grace, we are painting something else. In order for grace to be grace, it cannot be merited, it cannot be demanded, it cannot be required for all.

    God calls us, not according to his whim - there is nothing frivolous about God's choice. We are told clearly in scripture that we are called "according to God's purpose" - those who are called are not simply called in some random manner, but they are called because God has a purpose for them - they are called to fulfill the good pleasure of God.

    On that last day, or perhaps throughout eternity God's purpose in calling whom He calls will unfold, but for now we can only say that God does not call anyone according to their own will, or their own "run" - but rather calls according to a design known only to Himself.

    I would not describe God's purpose as whimsical, or capricious - I would call it perfect, even if I am (or we are) not privy to the details of God's purpose at this point.

    So while I agree that the grace that leads to salvation is not universally given, but limited to those whom God calls for his own purpose, I would not say it is limited in the sense of there being "only so much grace in the bucket" God has the right to send everyone to hell - in fact God is wicked and evil if he allows even one sinner to escape His justice. The fact that God unites any with His son and through that union redemptively brings an individual through His own wrath against their sin - that itself is a powerful testimony to the magnitude of God's great grace - but God does not owe us that deliverance.

    God is certainly universally gracious in His worldly provision - causing the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike - that is, God universally provides food and water for all who partake of it, and he does so without regard to the righteousness of the individual. In that sense God is universally gracious.

    But when we talk about salvation, we must recognize that there is a category shift here. Now we are not talking about something categorically different (and superior) to earthly provision.

    You see, scripture doesn't teach that salvation is universal - rather it is "particular". We see that plainly enough in that not everyone is going to be saved from the condemnation for their sin and saved from their rightly deserved place in hell (by grace through faith) some will simply receive what they have spent their whole life earning - condemnation.

    If some are condemned and all receive the grace that leads to faith - then the grace that leads to faith is insufficient in and of itself to produce faith.

    If grace does not produce saving faith - but is only one component in a formula that results in saving faith - then we are left with the question - what must be added to grace in order to have faith?

    Whatever it is we "add" - in order to render grace effective - where does it come from, sinful man, or God? If we argue that it comes from us, then we can say that the person over there who received this grace but didn't allow it to produce faith in him is not worthy of heaven like "us" because we found in ourselves something that was added to grace in order to produce faith - whether it was our superior will, or our superior upbringing, or perhaps just something peculiar to our personality - we will have something to boast about, because ultimately the only reason we get to heave and not them is because we produced something by our own might that they did not. We understood something by our own intellect that they did not. We accepted something by our own good character that they would not.

    The moment we are the ones who ultimately cast the deciding vote, the moment it is something in us that allows us to take the "universal grace" and by it apprehend saving faith - if that is what happens, then each of us who are saved have something to boast about because we are saying that it was something in us that recognized or valued this "universal" grace and made the right "faith" decision.

    But Jesus said that that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit - that is, the deciding vote is not found in our flesh, or in us who wills or runs - but in the Spirit.

    The reason we believe, is not found in our selves, but in God's grace. The reason we believe is because the grace of God - the sovereign grace of God produces something in us that is not produced in others - life.

    So yes, the grace that leads to faith is limited to those whom God has elected to give it. Not frivolously or randomly, but according to God's purpose.

    Let me know if that explains it for you.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 5/22/2008 12:10 PM  

  • Colin,

    Could it be I have failed to equivocate enough for my thoughts to add up as do yours? ;-)

    If, in Christ, we are chosen to be holy, blameless and predestined to adoption it does not follow that we are chosen to be in Christ.

    I too continue to enjoy our discussion…even the friendly jabs (“It was only a love tap!” hehe).

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/22/2008 12:55 PM  

  • Kc,

    I hope that I have not been equivocating here. I certainly know in my mind my own position on these things and I just hope that I have been articulating it faithfully. My fear is that I have been maybe clouding any issue instead of opening it up.

    Re: Being in Christ. It would appear to me that this phrase carries several connotations, or, if it has the one connotation comes in several parts (a bit like “the Kingdom of God”). To be “in Christ” on one hand is to be new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) I did not become a new creature until I was converted to Jesus Christ. I was, until then, “without Christ” (Ephesians 2:12). OTOH, Ephesians 1:4 distinctly has me “chosen in Him” at a time much earlier than my conversion i.e. “from the foundation of the world.” The “problem” here (if indeed it be a problem) is not exclusively mine as a Reformed Christian, but belongs to us both. I can only try and sum it up by saying: “I was in Christ in the sense of election that I might be found in Christ in the matter of salvation.” If you (or anyone) can word that better and still remain faithful to the concept of being chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world, then I will be happy to adapt my language accordingly. Until then, I’m willing to make do with what I have.

    Jab away :o)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/22/2008 1:23 PM  

  • Daniel,

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. It is hard to come up with a parable that thoroughly illustrates grace better than the truth of Christ itself!

    I think I understand your meaning, but I must admit I have difficulty disposing of a preconception that faith is simply resting in the grace given, and if there is no grace given there is none to rest in. I can have faith, but without the gift of grace, my faith is insignificant. So I do not "add" faith to grace - rather, God adds grace to faith.

    I may simply be dancing around semantics, but this seems reasonable to me in light of the parable of the sower.

    Scripture explains that the Lord will at times shower hardship down on all - even the faithful, and mercy on all - even the unfaithful, to His purpose. I assume you would agree to this. (Please let me know if I am incorrect in that assumption!)

    To achieve His purpose, does God randomly shower hardship and mercies, or does He apply these purposefully?

    Missy

    By Blogger Another Voice, at 5/22/2008 2:18 PM  

  • Colin,

    It seems that you find the text to suggest that you, specifically and individually, were chosen for these blessings from the foundation of the earth. If we accept what this scripture states then it is the faithful in Christ collectively who were chosen in which case there is no problem with respect to eternity. God determined that the faithful in Christ would inherit these blessings but does this text infer that He determined who, individually, would be faithful in Christ?

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/22/2008 2:29 PM  

  • Kc

    If I cannot read and apply these verses individually, then they are of little use to me other than academic interest.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/22/2008 2:44 PM  

  • Colin,

    Please correct me if I’m in error but I understand from this text that the application of these verses is contingent on the very sure and certain Promise of God to all the faithful in Christ Jesus as opposed to an unknown election to salvation. I would not consider that to be academic.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/22/2008 6:39 PM  

  • Good morning Rose/Kc

    Kc: I agree 100% with you when you write: that the application of these verses is contingent on the very sure and certain Promise of God to all the faithful in Christ Jesus My point of disagreement lies in your declension to have it give a personal application. This is further seen in your last posting where you speak of an unknown election to salvation. If I cannot personally know that I am elect, then I cannot take any comfort from those collective verses. How do I know they are for me? The Scripture exhorts us to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) - how can we as a group do that (as opposed to individuals within the church?) Working on the idea that Judas Iscariot was not elect, such an exhortation lay beyond the very College of Apostles themselves. The only time when we it may be said that “we do not know who the elect are” is in evangelism when we take the gospel to people who have not as yet professed faith in Jesus Christ.

    I am trying to find agreement with you as much as I can here. If you want to move on to Acts 13:48, I am more than happy to do so, but we cannot say that we have found agreement on the scope of Ephesians 1:4.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/23/2008 2:57 AM  

  • Colin, good morning ;-)

    To be sure, we agree on a great deal and in an effort to be concise I have neglected to point out much of what we agree in. In all honesty it seems to me we have agreed 100% on everything written in Ephesians 1 that we have discussed and we have only disagreed on what is not written in that text. I had even understood us to agree in the scope of those being addressed as being the faithful in Christ Jesus.

    Where it seems we contend is in the scope of the faithful in Christ Jesus and I do not find this text to define that in any way. If you believe that this text defines who these faithful are then I would happy and honored to entertain your argument. If not, then I would be happy to move our study to Acts.

    On a personal note, you previously wrote:

    “I certainly know in my mind my own position on these things and I just hope that I have been articulating it faithfully. My fear is that I have been maybe clouding any issue instead of opening it up.”

    I have always found you to be very clear and consistent in all your conversations.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/23/2008 6:50 AM  

  • Hi Kc,

    You wrote: If you believe that this text defines who these faithful are then I would happy and honored to entertain your argument.

    How about this? The faithful in this text are those individuals (although addressed here as a group) who have come to Christ for salvation. These are those individuals who may say that they have been chosen in Him from the foundation of the world. I suspect (excuse the suspicious word) that this wording may bring the agreement that we are looking for. I hope so!

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/23/2008 7:08 AM  

  • Colin,

    Colin this would be our point of contention. From your comment it seems we agree that the persons being addressed are a collective ( “although addressed here as a group”). The individuals in this collective are not defined in time or any other way and the text does not propose that any individual can say he or she was chosen from the foundation of the world, only that this group is chosen. We would each have to impose our own theology on the text in order to define the individuals. From my own position I could say, “The faithful in this text are those individuals who have been, or will be faithful in Christ. There are no individuals who may say that they, personally, have been chosen from the foundation of the world to be faithful in Christ. Only the collective was chosen and the promises herein are contingent upon faithfulness in Christ.” but, just as you, I would have to go outside of this text for proof and evidence.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/23/2008 7:49 AM  

  • Hi again Kc,

    If I, as an individual, can make my calling and election sure as I am exhorted to do in 2 Peter 1:10 as one of the brothers, then can I come as an individual to Ephesians 1:4 and draw the various individual benefits for my soul from its teaching?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/23/2008 8:01 AM  

  • Colin,

    From the text I would say that anyone who is faithful in Christ can lay claim to these wonderful promises.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/23/2008 8:14 AM  

  • Wow! I agree 100%. Now where?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/23/2008 8:20 AM  

  • It may be well to identify where we’re at before we head out in any direction. ;-)

    As I understand it our original contention regarding an election to salvation is as yet unresolved. I contend there is no election to eternal life and you contend that there is. If we agree that the text in Ephesians does not refute or support either of our positions then I suggest we examine the verse in Acts to see what bearing it might have on our respective positions.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/23/2008 8:38 AM  

  • I am appreciating these conversations.

    Colin,
    You said:
    You are right to say that we disagree over what God desires. As far as desiring to the point where He is prepared to move Heaven and earth to achieve it, I say that He desires the salvation of His elect only. If I read you right, you have Him desiring the salvation of all men equally and is therefore is prepared to be frustrated, disappointed, and defeated in that He ultimately fails to achieve what He has set out to do.

    There is a song from the 1980s (I think) that we know here in the US by a band named ‘Cheap Trick.’ It is called "I want you to want me." It is a song about a man who desires this woman to desire him. Does he want to force himself upon her? No. Men can do all they want to woo their prospective love interest, but ultimately they cannot make a girl "want" them. How does this apply to this discussion? It is my very base illustration of what I think "God wants." He “wants” to have a people who “want” Him. Your criticism of God being frustrated vanishes when you understand how I view this. He is not frustrated at all if all men are not saved. He desires all men to “want” Him – which would mean having a desire to be reconciled to Him, responding to the Gospel and entering into a relationship with Him. However, if certain ones that He has desired do not desire to respond to his advances… then He is not frustrated. He gets what He wants – a people who want Him. This is fundamental to why He gave men the cognizance over their own decisions to obey or rebel. He made us in His image to have such a free relationship with Him. Under the Calvinist scheme honestly, for me, I can’t even understand why God would be going through all of this rigmarole we call history . Why should lives be lived out if He just created a large group of people with the express purpose of redeeming only a select few and sending the rest away to isolation having predetermined who is who based on His own arbitrary decision and having no relativity to how those individual people respond in those lives they live. It just doesn’t add up and it paints God in a very odd light, IMO.

    Yes, we see what “God wants” very differently!.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 5/23/2008 9:37 AM  

  • I so agree with this Rose:

    "He gets what He wants – a people who want Him. This is fundamental to why He gave men the cognizance over their own decisions to obey or rebel. He made us in His image to have such a free relationship with Him."

    Thanks for saying it so well. I have been swamped this week and it has been difficult to keep up with the dialog much less add my input.

    Can't believe that this is comment 100.. great thread.. folks really responded to your "prayer request" :)

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/23/2008 11:50 AM  

  • Rose~

    "Under the Calvinist scheme honestly, for me, I can’t even understand why God would be going through all of this rigmarole we call history . Why should lives be lived out if He just created a large group of people with the express purpose of redeeming only a select few and sending the rest away to isolation having predetermined who is who based on His own arbitrary decision and having no relativity to how those individual people respond in those lives they live."

    Very well stated. I have been loosely following the comments here. The thing I keep coming back to is: if God predetermined who CAN be saved, what, really, is the point of anything we choose to do from there?

    By Blogger Katherine Gunn, at 5/24/2008 1:35 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/Kc

    Kc: I think we ‘re stuck here until one of us gives way. I still contend that to be chosen in Christ from the foundation of the world so that we might be holy and without blame before God is but another way of saying that we have been elected to salvation. I would be false to my conscience, to you and ultimately to God’s word if I said otherwise. This means that we can sit tight on Ephesians 1:4 until either you or I - you really, but I’m being diplomatic :0) – get more light and come back or we can move on with Ephesians 1:4 still undecided between us. I’ll let you decide. I think that you need to show me how “chosen in Christ” means something entirely different from being “elected” and how being “holy and without blame before God” means something other than “salvation.”

    Rose: I agree with you that God wants a people who will love and serve Him. Without necessarily agreeing on the “how” of election, I’m sure that we will both agree that this group of people are the elect. As for what you call the rigmarole of history - it is still going to be a rigmarole, if rigmarole it be, whether you believe in God foreordaining whatsover comes to pass or merely knowing about it. The mud splashes us all. Why would God go through the the rigmarole of history when He knows that the rebellious non-elect will not seek Him, despite all the wooing of the gospel? If God can foresee something happening, then it is going to happen and cannot but happen. Judas Iscariot (to give a watertight case) came into the world and no one (except God) knew that he would finally betray Jesus and damn His own soul. If God foresaw that Judas betray Christ, then it was inevitable, was it not? Could God in eternity foresee the dirty deal, the footsteps to the Garden, and the arranged sign and the actual kiss, but Judas bottle out at the last moment and no arrest being made? I think not.

    I remind you again that “arbitrary” should not be applied in the sense that God made no reference to any other of His attributes. The response of the elect (being in time) flows from the decision of time (decided in eternity.) Otherwise, you are bringing in faith again, not merely as an instrument of salvation (which I hold it is) but a cause – the deciding factor as to why I was elected and another left out.

    Re: Man’s free will: Although man is not a robot or a block of wood – yet neither is he a free man in the sense that there are no chains around his feet or shackles on his hands. He is a bond slave of sin (John 8:34) and held captive by the Devil (2 Timothy 2:26) He is set forth as being deaf and blind and dead and lost etc., and totally responsible for it all. The wonder of salvation is not that God hasn’t saved all men, but rather than He has saved any.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/24/2008 6:22 AM  

  • Colin,

    Thanks again for your clarification. That alone already seems to have “enlightened” me. (I very much appreciate your diplomacy) ;-)

    I have to ask once more, are you reading verse 4 as, he hath chosen us to be in him? That is the only way I could read it and construct the phrase, “chosen in Christ” from this verse. My understanding is that “us in him” means “us in Christ” and that it is “us in Christ”, the collective, that are chosen for these blessings.

    I haven’t fully considered it yet but I might well be able to agree that to be elect is to be chosen in Christ but that is not what I understand this verse to teach.

    I would understand being holy and without blame before God consequential to being faithful in Christ and (soul) salvation as the spirit birth. While I consider soul salvation prerequisite to all these things I do not find these verses to equate faithfulness with salvation or to address the means or order of salvation at all.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/24/2008 7:10 AM  

  • Hi again KC,

    You write: I have to ask once more, are you reading verse 4 as, he hath chosen us to be in him?

    I gave my one-liner (none the worse for that) on that above. I quote: “I was in Christ in the sense of election that I might be found in Christ in the matter of salvation.” (Bold emphasis in my original)

    If you come to agree with me that to be elect is to be chosen in Christ then I cannot understand how you can do otherwise than understand [that this is what] this verse teaches If someone turns round and says: “There is no such a thing as God choosing an elect people in the Bible” then we can turn to this verse among many and say: ”I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Among other things, Ephesians 1:4 does.”

    I agree with you 100% that being holy and without blame before God is consequential to faith and Christ and that soul salvation is the spirit birth. Unsure as to what you are getting at when you say: I do not find these verses to equate faithfulness with salvation or to address the means or order of salvation at all.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/24/2008 7:31 AM  

  • Colin,

    I did not consider that our contention involved whether God chooses people but specifically whether He has chosen (selected, elected, foreordained) specific individuals for or to (soul) salvation.

    My understanding of verse 4 is that, from the foundation of the world, God determined that only the faithful in Christ would receive the blessings detailed in this text. If you understand verse 4 to teach that, from the foundation of the world, God determined who would be faithful in Christ or that being faithful in Christ is consequential to being chosen then I must sadly agree to disagree.

    If this be the case then I would be honored to continue with you in a discussion of Acts 13:48.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/24/2008 8:50 AM  

  • Fair enough, Kc, we will have to agree to disagree.

    What's your thoughts on Acts 13:48?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/24/2008 8:58 AM  

  • Colin,

    I could offer all the opinions concerning the original Greek but as regarding our specific contention, do you find this verse to indicate specifically when these believers were ordained or appointed to eternal life or do you simply claim it was prior to belief?

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/24/2008 9:58 AM  

  • Colin,

    I’m not sure how often I can check in over the holiday so I will leave this for your consideration.

    If you agree this verse speaks only of ordination and does not imply foreordination then I would understand your only contention is that the order of the wording seems to suggest we are ordained to eternal life before we believe.

    Luke is relating a specific event that has occurred and as such uses the phrase, “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed”. If he were speaking in any other tense then the following fragments would convey an identical meaning:

    “as many as are ordained to eternal life believe”

    “as many as will be ordained to eternal life will believe”

    What this verse does, ironically, is to tie ordination or appointment to eternal life directly to faith.

    Rose, SK will remain in my prayers.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/24/2008 1:12 PM  

  • Kc,

    In itself Acts 13:48 but tells us that ordination to faith precedes faith in Christ and that as many who were thus ordained then believed. We must look elsewhere to discover when this ordination took place. Ephesians 1:4 (where we have traversed much of late) indicates to me that it was from the foundation of the world. I agree (although why it should be ironic, I do not know) that Acts 13:48 does tie ordination or appointment to eternal life directly to faith. However, again faith is the fruit of the ordination and not the cause.

    All in your own time re: holidays.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/24/2008 2:35 PM  

  • Colin,

    Thanks again for your reply and your patience. I also appreciate your summation.

    I can appreciate your understanding of this verse and if these people had been foreordained or if the verse read, “ordained then believed” I would be inclined to accept your reading. Either of these two would clearly establish an order of precedence. Under these circumstances it would certainly be fair to say that these Gentiles were elected to eternal life. But these are not the circumstances.

    I can agree that the Ephesians text could apply to these Gentiles as well but only because of their faith in Christ. And this is the irony. Both of the texts we have studied thus far have clearly tied either eternal life or the further blessings of God to faith or faithfulness in Christ but not to election. Do you wish to contend that faith in Christ is by election?

    May God bless you and all in services today.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/25/2008 5:05 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/Kc,

    Thanks for your continued time in this discussion. A whole lot of verses would be clearer if we could all slip in the odd word here and there. For instance, in Acts 13:48 I would be inclined to believe your interpretation if it said: “As many as ordained unto life because of faith, believed…” but, as we both know, it doesn’t. We must work with what we have, and the earlier contentious verse gives us a period of time known as “before the foundation of the world” when we were chosen in Him.

    You write: Both of the texts we have studied thus far have clearly tied either eternal life or the further blessings of God to faith or faithfulness in Christ but not to election. Do you wish to contend that faith in Christ is by election? I agree with you that blessing comes from faith in Christ (that is not an area of contention between us) but where does this faith in Christ come from? I say that we believe because we are elect. Evidently you put the proverbial cart in front of the horse :o)

    Have a good Lord’s Day too.

    Worship the King, all Glorious above

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/25/2008 5:43 AM  

  • Colin,

    No thanks are needed, I assure you. It is sincerely an honor for me to study with you.

    ”I would be inclined to believe your interpretation if it said: “As many as ordained unto life because of faith, believed…” but, as we both know, it doesn’t.”

    While I would state this differently it does seem we agree that our interpretation of the text in Acts is based on our own presupposition concerning election.

    ”Evidently you put the proverbial cart in front of the horse”

    I agree with your assessment though I question your perception. ;-)

    I fear trying your patience at this point but I must observe that it seems your interpretation of the text in Ephesians is by extension of your conviction that both faith and eternal life are by election.

    With regard to the origin of faith I know that we would both agree that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.

    I must confess at this point I’m not sure how to proceed.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/26/2008 6:02 AM  

  • Good morning Rose/Kc:

    It has been a pleasure corresponding with you, but it does seem that we have come to a stand still. I do agree with you that faith comes by hearing the word of God and therefore we must “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2) so that such faith might be exercised.

    May I suggest that you show me (a) verse(s) that clearly show that faith is the cause of election? There is no doubt that faith is linked to election because (as I see it) the elect will be brought to faith in Christ since God ordains the means as well as the end i.e. their salvation. However, can you go further and clearly show where election flows from faith?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/26/2008 8:44 AM  

  • Colin,

    Our study is a blessing to me. I hope God will bless us all to continue together in study until that day when our understanding is full.

    I don’t think I could say that faith is the cause for election to eternal life. I attribute that to God’s love (John 3:16). I would contend that faith is prerequisite to being given to Christ (John 6:40) and that I find no evidence of election apart from Christ in any way.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/26/2008 9:22 AM  

  • What about romans 12:3 that says:

    For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

    It seems from this verse that each of us has faith.. is it only the elect that have the ability to exercise it? are the rest disabled by God and unable to exercise faith?

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 5/26/2008 9:29 AM  

  • Hi Kc,

    If our faith is not the cause of election (and I agree with you 100% there) but rather God’s love, would you prepared to say that our election is unconditionally in Christ, without any contribution from the one elected?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/26/2008 9:32 AM  

  • Hi Kansas Bob,

    Two things here:

    1) The “every man” at the end of the verse (or “each” in your translation”) is qualified by the “every man that is among you” thus ruling out in this context a distinct reference to each and every man that ever lived. The same writer (Paul) acknowledges elsewhere in the context of the ungodly and wicked, that all men have not faith (2 Thessalonians 3:2)

    2) I do not believe that God “disables” any man where that “disablement” prevents him from embracing salvation. If there is a “disablement” then it must be attributed to the sin. Salvation is all of grace. Damnation is all of sin.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/26/2008 9:40 AM  

  • Colin,

    Yes, I would say that about election, but not about faith. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/26/2008 9:47 AM  

  • Hi Kc,

    So, theologically speaking, are you saying that there is nothing the sinner can do to become one of the elect?

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/26/2008 9:52 AM  

  • Colin,

    Theologically (here is yet another irony), I am saying that there is nothing the sinner can do to become elect to eternal life. He need only believe on the name of the Lord. God has seen, as only He could, to all else.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/26/2008 10:02 AM  

  • As it stands this sounds like pure Calvinism (excuse the man made title, but I'm heading here for convenience) to me. I suspect (without being unduly suspicious) that more might be said that could compromise this position, but again as it stands I agree 100% with you.

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/26/2008 10:07 AM  

  • Colin,

    I would say (and I suspect most others who know me would agree) that your suspicions are valid. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/26/2008 10:20 AM  

  • Perhaps I should quit while the going is good?

    :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/26/2008 10:25 AM  

  • Brother, where's the sport in that! ?? ;-)

    I still contend that you stole a move on me and planted the flag first. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/26/2008 10:30 AM  

  • OK...

    I'll put you down as a card carrying Calvinist "of Calvin's own stamp" (as Spurgeon described himself) andf see how we get on.

    :0)

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/26/2008 10:38 AM  

  • Colin,

    If my Calvinist label would wear thin with you (and I know that it will) I still hope you will call me brother. That is my greatest desire. ;-)

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/26/2008 10:59 AM  

  • Brother KC,

    More than happy to do that!

    :0)

    See you around,

    Regards,

    By Blogger GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME, at 5/26/2008 11:01 AM  

  • May God bless you brother.

    Rose, thanks again for the space and our prayers for SK will remain.

    By Blogger Kc, at 5/26/2008 11:09 AM  

  • Kc is a great word smith. :)

    I agree 100% with your comments!

    Limited atonement is not biblical though. (:

    By Blogger Kris, at 5/27/2008 12:04 AM  

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