Matthew 23:37 Is Problematic For the Calvinist Concept

Matthew 23:37 is problematic for the deterministic stance calvinism posits:

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

If calvinism is correct, then Jesus’ statement that He “often wanted to gather the children of Jerusalem together” is problematic in two areas. First of all, this passage implies that Jesus wanted to do something that He was not able to do and it even further implies that the people were not willing to do what He wanted them to do. If those who were not willing were not effectually called then they could not be “unwilling” because they had to choice to choose to be willing.

The truth is, Jesus “often wanted to gather them together BUT THEY were not willing.” That is what the text says. There is no caveat here that says, “Jesus wanted to gather them but didn’t because it was not God’s will and He could not have said “they were not willing” if He knew that God never intended to save them in the first place.

The only possible objection would be the statement, “Jesus is not talking about saving them.” In His humanity, he is pointing to the frailty of life and the fact of judgment that faces all who are lost and without Christ. This MIGHT work IF Jesus had not said, “How often I would have gathered you together.” Calvinism cannot comport with “Jesus wanting to often gather them together” with “they were not willing.” These two phrases cannot be reconciled in a calvinist concept. One of two things has to be true; one, Jesus was not willing together them together and so they were not willing or 2 had Jesus really wanted to gather them together they WOULD HAVE been willing. Verse 37 cannot be reconciled within the calvinist framework as it stands.

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Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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125 Responses to Matthew 23:37 Is Problematic For the Calvinist Concept

  1. Les Prouty says:

    Bob,

    You do keep trying. :)

    “First of all, this passage implies that Jesus wanted to do something that He was not able to do and it even further implies that the people were not willing to do what He wanted them to do.”

    No it implies no such things. First, He “want” to gather them. God desires or wants lots of things he doesn’t then force to happen. I’ll give you 10 such things: The 10 Commandments. Are they not his will for us? Certainly. Does he desire or want us to obey them? Most assuredly. Does anyone obey them completely as he desires? Surely not.

    Second, “implies that the people were not willing to do what He wanted them to do.” “Not willing” is the key. His heart breaks and is sorrowful over the effects of the fall. He takes no delight in the death of the wicked. But they were not “willing.” See below on the Calvinist view of the will.

    London Baptist Confession 1689:

    God has indued the will of man, by nature, with liberty and the power to choose and to act upon his choice. This free will is neither forced, nor destined by any necessity of nature to do good or evil.
    Man, in his state of innocency, had freedom and power to will and to do that which was good and well-pleasing to God, but he was unstable, so that he might fall from this condition.

    Man, by his fall into a state of sin, has completely lost all ability of will to perform any of the spiritual good which accompanies salvation. As a natural man, he is altogether averse to spiritual good, and dead in sin. He is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself for conversion.

    When God converts a sinner, and translates him into a state of grace, He frees him from his natural bondage to sin, and by grace alone He enables him freely to will and to do that which is spiritually good. But because of his remaining corruptions he does not only (or perfectly) will that which is good, but also wills that which is evil.

    The will of man will only be made perfectly and immutably free to will good alone in the state of glory.

    No, after that on the will… You: “One of two things has to be true; one, Jesus was not willing together them together and so they were not willing or 2 had Jesus really wanted to gather them together they WOULD HAVE been willing. Verse 37 cannot be reconciled within the calvinist framework as it stands.”

    Nope. 1. He WAS willing if they but would. 2. Nope again. See above for an explanation on how God wills or wants or desires things that he doesn’t force to occur.

    Keep trying brother. You and your NC friends, like at SBC Today, are nothing if not relentless in trying to overturn the Reformed faith. Ah, but it shall not be.

    Blessings brother,

    Les

  2. sbcissues says:

    Les,

    So let me see if I am understanding what you are saying; sometimes God is efficacious in what He wants and at others He sis not? So who decides if He is efficacious and when?

    In one breath God is sovereign over salvation and His will determines His actions like in regeneration but then in other cases His will does not determine His actions like in the case here in Matthew 23? So Jesus “wanted to do something” the people were not willing to let Him do.

    Why was this ok for Jesus here but it is not ok for individual’s to be willing or not willing to be saved? Oh… I get it; they do what they are WILLING to do right?

    Well that would be ok except Jesus tells us here that He wanted to gather them together so I read that to include their ability to do what He wanted to do for them or else it makes no sense that He would chide them for not being able to do something that He wanted them to do if He knew they couldn’t or even worse, He did not really want them to do even though He says He did.

    At least from this passage, I am afraid I am not dancing around anything… trying desperately to disprove anything; I simply took a text and commented on what it ACTUALLY said and applied that to the errant concept of calvinism.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob,

      You: “So let me see if I am understanding what you are saying; sometimes God is efficacious in what He wants and at others He sis not? So who decides if He is efficacious and when?”

      You’re close, on what Calvinism teaches. God is always efficacious in what he INTENDS to do. “Wants” or desires can have more than one meaning as I demonstrated using the 10 commandments. And he decides to do what he intends to do.

      You: “In one breath God is sovereign over salvation and His will determines His actions like in regeneration but then in other cases His will does not determine His actions like in the case here in Matthew 23? So Jesus “wanted to do something” the people were not willing to let Him do.”

      God is always sovereign. And yes his will determines his actions. Now of course what aspect of his will? His decretive will? Absoultely will happen. Hs will of desire? As in his desire (will) that we obey perfectly? That’s different, right? BTW, I showed elsewhere his he has “wills” that are secret from us. See Acts 1:

      So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. (Acts 1:6-7 ESV)

      See that? Not everything God wills to do is revealed to us, right?

      You: “Why was this ok for Jesus here but it is not ok for individual’s to be willing or not willing to be saved? Oh… I get it; they do what they are WILLING to do right?”

      It is ok for individuals to be willing to be saved. Problem is, again, no one WANTS to be saved apart from God’s intervention in our “want to.”

      You: “…else it makes no sense that He would chide them for not being able to do something that He wanted them to do if He knew they couldn’t or even worse, He did not really want them to do even though He says He did.”

      Sure it makes sense biblically. Again, he wills for you to obey perfectly (will of desire). And he rightly condemns you and me and everyone else for not obeying perfectly (see James where even violating his law in even just one instance we are condemned). He desires all men to be saved. But it’s not the same desire as in his desire to send his son to the cross. That was a fixed desire (will).

      You will need to keep searching for a text hat overturns Calvinism. But ye shall search in vain brother.

      • sbcissues says:

        I am not the one arguing for differing wills of God; you are. I argue God has ONE will and we as individuals either respond in obedience or we respond in disobedience. the fact that He does not reveal everything to us has nothing to do with His revealed will. Calvinists will often refer to God’s unknown or secret will; if it unknown or secret how do YOU claim to know what it is? And… on top of that, there is no mention of any secret or unknown will in the Scriptures so I am not in favor of that particular argument personally.

        I would argue that Jesus’ statement that He wanted to gather them together is good enough for me that this is what He wanted to do; you can twist it anyway you want to do. If anyone read this statement without bring this outside theological perspective that you hold to this text, he would not walk away with the interpretation you are trying to get us all to bite on.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        You: “I am not the one arguing for differing wills of God; you are. I argue God has ONE will and we as individuals either respond in obedience or we respond in disobedience. the fact that He does not reveal everything to us has nothing to do with His revealed will. Calvinists will often refer to God’s unknown or secret will; if it unknown or secret how do YOU claim to know what it is? And… on top of that, there is no mention of any secret or unknown will in the Scriptures so I am not in favor of that particular argument personally.”

        I know you’re not arguing for differing wills. Precisely. You should be though. Because when we see that God desires something in scripture, good exegesis along with sound hermeneutics and perspicuity of scripture requires of us that we seek to understand what “desire” or “will” means.

        It is not even arguable that God absolutely without exception “wills” every individual be saved. You even agree with that because you know that every individual is in fact nor saved. So we have to step back and ask, “what does ‘he is not WILLING that any should perish mean?” Absolute? No. And you agree. So it must be a different “will” than his “will” to send his son to the cross…which was unstoppable. He would not be thwarted in accomplishing THAT will.

        “Calvinists will often refer to God’s unknown or secret will; if it unknown or secret how do YOU claim to know what it is?”

        We don’t know. Here is what we know: “We don’t know what we don’t know.” i.e. there are some things kept from us (see Acts 1 above). But what we DO know is that not everyone will be saved. We just don’t now who they are. So we preach to all since only He knows who His elect are.

        You: “there is no mention of any secret or unknown will in the Scriptures so I am not in favor of that particular argument personally.”

        I showed you above from Acts 1 that there certainly is. Now don’t tell me please that those exact words aren’t used. You know better than that (cf. trinity).

        You: “If anyone read this statement without bring this outside theological perspective that you hold to this text, he would not walk away with the interpretation you are trying to get us all to bite on.”

        I would reverse that back on you. Your philosophical system has trapped you in bias dear brother. You won’t see what you desperately don’t WANT to see.

  3. sbcissues says:

    Ok… here is a MAJOR difference in our positions. You said…

    So we have to step back and ask, “what does ‘he is not WILLING that any should perish mean?” Absolute? No. And you agree. So it must be a different “will” than his “will” to send his son to the cross…which was unstoppable. He would not be thwarted in accomplishing THAT will.

    I believe the text for WHAT it actually says… God is not willing that ANY perish… if that is where you stop then I MIGHT allow your stated position; however that is NOT where the text stops; it continues. But that all SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE. Those who do come to repentance do not perish; those who do not come to repentance do perish.

    Our response has nothing to do with His will because I do not believe in what you refer to as a decretive will. To the next statement; concerning Jesus’ death on the cross. I am guessing you are sating that Jesus HAD to go to the cross and could not have chosen to do otherwise; I disagree.

    I believe He could have chosen NOT to go to the cross for a variety of reasons in His humanity or else I maintain He would not have been the suitable sacrifice. I realize that will not sit well with your theological presuppositions but it is what it is. I believe Jesus willingly went to the cross and He willingly laid down His life; no one could take it from Him not even God. When Jesus said “it is finished” He knew redemption had been won on the cross because He had perfectly accomplished all His Heavenly Father had sent Him to accomplish. He COULD have failed but He did not fail. That is indeed great news for us BOTH!

    You won’t see what you desperately don’t WANT to see. That is a funny statement coming from someone that believes in the efficacy of God’s will in a person’s life. The statement actually supports MY claim but does not at all support yours. If your statement were true, which it is not, then the ONLY conclusion one could draw is that I am a non-cavinist because that is where God has me because if His will is indeed efficacious THEN we BOTH know I would be a bloomin calvinist.

    Once again, we may both be wrong but we cannot both be right.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob,

      You: “I believe the text for WHAT it actually says… God is not willing that ANY perish… if that is where you stop then I MIGHT allow your stated position; however that is NOT where the text stops; it continues. But that all SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE. Those who do come to repentance do not perish; those who do not come to repentance do perish.”

      I agree with the text too brother. All of it. But to biblically make sense of to we have to get at what “willing” means. I know I’m a broken record here, but if God “wills” absolutely that none ever perish and that ALL repent, then brother none ever would perish and ALL who ever live would repent.

      We both know that doesn’t happen. So what does “not willing” mean? You keep avoiding it. If you say that he’s talking about all who actually do repent then that changes the sense of the sentence. i.e. “He’s not willing that any (who will ultimately believe) perish and that all (who eventually do repent) come to repentance. Some may even argue that.

      But if God wills something to happen in the same sense as his son being the Messiah, then you end up at universalism. And I know you’re not a universalist. You are trying desperately to hang onto your synergism (not meant pejoratively(.

      You: “I am guessing you are sating that Jesus HAD to go to the cross and could not have chosen to do otherwise; I disagree.”

      Well ok. I’m so glad he went thru with it. I wonder what the odds were. :)

      You: “If your statement were true, which it is not, then the ONLY conclusion one could draw is that I am a non-cavinist because that is where God has me because if His will is indeed efficacious THEN we BOTH know I would be a bloomin calvinist.”

      Yes, you are a non Calvinist because God predestined you for that. I was once too. But I still hold out hope. You will too be one some day. There’s still time to change. :)

      • sbcissues says:

        His will is that none perish BUT all come to repentance. His will includes BOTH parts. As you pointed out earlier, He gave the 10 Commandments not the 10 Suggestions…

        Those who are obedient to His Law then and His Word today reap the benefits; those who are not obedient to His Word suffer the consequences but neither changes the fact that His will is that none perish. The fact that many do perish is not a reflection on His will as you suggest but a response to our repentance.

      • sbcissues says:

        as for me trying to hang onto my synergism I am doing EXACTLY that… as you do with before regeneration and after conversion. The problem is your monergism that affects one single decision in the life of the elect and NO decisions in the life of the nonelect.

        I find that tremendously entertaining. So I guess that pretty much eliminates me from being effectually called a calvinist huh?

        Reminds me of a statement someone made to me once that is actually similar to yours. (I do not believe it was you though!) He said I know where you are because I once was where you are; the inference was I needed to listen to him so I could be where he now was, a calvinist.

        My response was, You were NEVER where I am or you would not be where you are now.

        Guess that door indeed swings both ways huh!

      • John White says:

        Les,
        I’m sure you’re a devout Christian and I respect you for that. You and I, although we disagree here on earth, will be one in heaven. So our disagreements are only temporary, but I feel compelled to comment because your views are hurting people. I have said for years that I would be more open to Calvinism if I were to ever meet of even hear about a real Calvinist.
        Why do Calvinists debate people like Bob. In Reformed thought Bob, and I, are doing exactly what God has willed. We, according to God’s choice, have been prevented from believing the “truth of Calvinism”. Why do you try to go against God’s obvious choice? “There’s still time to change.” Do you mean that I can change myself? Yet according to your belief system I am the way I am precisely because God has willed it so. And if a true Calvinist had two sons; one compliant and kind, the other obstinate and rebellious. The one attends church loves the things of God, and the other becomes a drug pusher and a child molester. And yet God chooses the rebellious child molester to be elect but denies the pleas for salvation of the compliant son. And the Calvinist father is perfectly fine with God’s choice, and tells his compliant son to get all the happiness he can in this life for he is destined for an eternal hell, and the father does this with a smile for it is God’s choice. I submit to you that no father would do this, including God our Father.
        You spoke of knowing what “willing” means. Yet we all know what that word means. You and I experience it everyday when we willingly sin. Was that sin God’s will? The fact is that that all Calvinists and Baptist alike sin every day and not because God wills it so, but because we choose to. In removing from man the God given responsibility they were created with, you make God the author of their sin and their refusal to believe in their one and only Savior, Jesus Christ, who desires all men everywhere to repent and be saved.
        You’re a good guy and my brother. I truly wish you and your camp would begin to question your error filled system, that is not setting God’s people free but is putting them in bondage. I submit to you that your belief system has not been forced on you by God’s choice but by the exercise of your responsibility before God. “There’s still time to change.”

      • Les Prouty says:

        John,

        Thank you for your comments directed towards me. I do really appreciate it. You obviously are zealous for your beliefs.

        I’m not sure how my Reformed views are hurting people though. I was at my Reformed church today in fact with scores of kids and their families as we had a presentation of the gospel, explaining what Easter is all about, followed by an egg hunt and lots of fun. I’ve been part of this Reformed church for 22 years now and have seen hundreds and hundreds of families grow in faith and serve God here and some sent out to serve our Savior all over the world, sharing the great ewe of Jesus.

        I’m not sure either what you mean about a “real Calvinist.” I think I might qualify though.

        “Why do Calvinists debate people like Bob. In Reformed thought Bob, and I, are doing exactly what God has willed. We, according to God’s choice, have been prevented from believing the “truth of Calvinism”. Why do you try to go against God’s obvious choice?”

        Sometimes I ask myself why too. Truth is I doubt Bob will ever see it my way. But I do hope he and other NCs will better understand what we Cs believe and teach. And I hope to better understand what Bob and other NCs believe and teach. I’m always hoping to learn.

        As to going against God’s will…well it was God’s will for me to be lost at one time in my life. I’m sure glad those people who shared Jesus with me didn’t think that my being lost was His will forever. Maybe God’s will IS that Bob be a NC all his life. Maybe not. I don’t know all His holy will.

        “And if a true Calvinist had two sons; one compliant and kind, the other obstinate and rebellious. The one attends church loves the things of God, and the other becomes a drug pusher and a child molester. And yet God chooses the rebellious child molester to be elect but denies the pleas for salvation of the compliant son. And the Calvinist father is perfectly fine with God’s choice, and tells his compliant son to get all the happiness he can in this life for he is destined for an eternal hell, and the father does this with a smile for it is God’s choice.”

        That my friend is a classic mis characterization of Calvinism. I don’t know ANY Calvinist who would look like that. None.

        “You spoke of knowing what “willing” means. Yet we all know what that word means. You and I experience it everyday when we willingly sin. Was that sin God’s will? The fact is that that all Calvinists and Baptist alike sin every day and not because God wills it so, but because we choose to.”

        Yes “will.” Is our sin God’s will? In one sense yes and another sense no. Nothing happens outside His decretive will. But He has also willed that we not sin. So yes and no. Was it God’s will that man would arrest, beat and crucify Jesus? Absolutely. Read Acts. It was His predetermined will. But sinful man did it. God didn’t perform the act. Were they sinning? Of course.

        “you make God the author of their sin and their refusal to believe in their one and only Savior, Jesus Christ, who desires all men everywhere to repent and be saved.”

        No so brother. God is not the author of sin.

        “I truly wish you and your camp would begin to question your error filled system, that is not setting God’s people free but is putting them in bondage. I submit to you that your belief system has not been forced on you by God’s choice but by the exercise of your responsibility before God. “There’s still time to change.””

        Well I’m always open to change if I can see the error. I’ve been a teacher of Reformation theology for 29 years now. But I may be wrong in some areas. I’m open.

        Blessings to you brother.

  4. formeratheist says:

    The Calvinistic stance on this does not make any logical sense:

    ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”

    To me a clear reading of Scripture bears out that since Israel was called out as God’s people he has always desired them to follow him wholeheartedly but they had refused over and over again. For the Lord Jesus Christ to say “But you were not willing” when, according to Calvinism, he was the only one able to make them willing, then it defies common sense and logic.

    I believe in this verse Jesus is making a prophetic proclamation against Jerusalem and her people. God had extended offer after offer and they spurned him. Then he sent his one and only Son and they conspired and succeeded in killing him, which was the ultimate rejection of God.

    I will be honest – if when I was an atheist seeking answers I had been presented with Calvinist theology, I would have walked away shaking my head. I cannot worship a God who fits that paradigm. I cannot see him as the God revealed by the totality of Scripture. I can proof-text many beliefs and theologies, but all things must be seen in the context of Scripture and God’s revealed character.

    I love my Calvinist brothers and sisters. Some of my favorite writers and pastors adhere to this theology, but they will never sway me to their camp.

    • sbcissues says:

      Thanks for your comments. My purpose is not really to sway anyone from their calvinism. My purpose is really two-fold. First, I want to think through the issues and present arguments as I see them. It is not that I am working to debunk calvinism, as Les says, that is not going to happen.

      Now, IF I make an argument that stands opposite some of the calvinist tenets as some may see them THEN the tenets of calvinism may falter and fail for that person. That leads me to the second purpose of my writing and that is to help the person who is not a calvinist understand better why he or she does not believe that to be the correct Biblical position AND then to help the person who is struggling with the issue better understand the tenets so they can make up their own minds on what the Scriptures actually say.

      I too am with you; they will NEVER sway me to their camp.

  5. rhutchin says:

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets…”

    One issue here is the identity of “Jerusalem.” Who is this “Jerusalem” who kills the prophets? If we identify “Jerusalem,” then we can know who was not willing for Christ to gather her children together. Obviously, it is not the “children” who are unwilling; it is “Jerusalem” who is unwilling to allow her children to be gathered to Christ.

    By not sorting out the identity of “Jerusalem,” you then write something that makes no sense (at least, to me) – “The truth is, Jesus “often wanted to gather them together BUT THEY were not willing.” That makes no sense. Jesus wanted to gather the children together but Jerusalem was unwilling to allow it. You make it sound like the children were unwilling (but maybe I misread your point).

    Then you say, “Calvinism cannot comport with “Jesus wanting to often gather them together” with “they were not willing.” Again, those whom Jesus wanted to gather together – the children – were not the ones who were not willing – it was Jerusalem who was not willing to have her children gathered together.

    Well, you confused me. Until you get the metaphors straight, I don’t think you should make an application to Calvinism.

    So, what/who do you say Jesus was addressing in using the metaphor, “Jerusalem”?

    • sbcissues says:

      rhutchin,

      I follow WHAT you are saying but as I see it, WHO ore WHAT Jerusalem actually represents is immaterial SINCE Jesus said, “I wanted to gather your CHILDREN” if He had said I wanted to gather YOU then maybe your argument MIGHT have merit but I still would argue that the answer to that would be “NO” as well.

      Jesus Himself SAID, “I wanted to gather your children” but YOU were not willing. If God wanted to gather them according to the most basic tenet of calvinism, there is NO SUCH thing as ANYONE NOT being willing! It would have by necessity have HAD to come to pass. That is my point. I do not believe this deterministic approach to be Scripturally sound.

      It is a theological impasse from the calvinist perspective I do not care who Jerusalem represents!

      to answer your question, I would say “Jerusalem” here represents the Jewish religious system or more specifically the Scribes and Pharisees he is addressing in the chapter.

      Again, they had NO ABILITY to thwart the plans of God so that is why I said one of 2 things had to have been true; Jesus lied when He said I wanted to take you in My arms… He really didn’t as evidenced by they fact that they DID reject OR their rejection was not God’s will in the first place when means He did not really want to do something He knew God had no intention of happening. The two statements cannot exist together in the calvinist system. Can’t happen.

      • rhutchin says:

        “Jesus Himself SAID, “I wanted to gather your children” but YOU were not willing. If God wanted to gather them according to the most basic tenet of calvinism, there is NO SUCH thing as ANYONE NOT being willing!”

        Au contraire! ( As Calvin might have said). The reprobate are not willing in the Calvinist theology – not willing to obey the law, not willing to yield to God, not willing to believe the gospel. It is because the reprobate are not willing that they cannot be saved absent God’s regeneration that then gives them a “freedom of will” to believe the gospel.

        So, the impasse you note is founded on a false understanding of Calvinism on this point.

        In the passage noted, whatever “Jerusalem” is to represent, we would conclude – because they were not willing – that they are reprobate – unsaved. Thus, the Jews who are leaders in the Jewish religious system would be in view here. As we read in the NT, the “Jews” opposed Christ even seeking opportunity to have Him killed. They and their forefathers are lumped together in the term, Jerusalem.

  6. John White says:

    Bob,
    I so appreciate your stand and your honest view of scripture. To me today’s Calvinists are the poster children for legalism and the misinterpretation of scripture. In my view there are 2 reasons for the popularity of Calvinism.
    If you tell people that they were chosen and their neighbor was not, human nature being what it is, they will begin to think deep in their heart that their “Electness” has something to do with their good deeds. This they will do no matter how often they are told otherwise. This does wonders for the self-image and fosters a feeling of spiritual pride, much to be desired.
    If you then hold a big stick over their head, perseverance, then they will tend to stay “in-line” for to do otherwise is to be regarded as having never been saved.
    At the end of the day, Calvinism is simply not biblically correct. There are about five major errors in it; but leading the list, even possibly ahead of Limited Atonement, is there failure to teach a complete reliance on the Holy Spirit. This error they have in common with just about everyone else.

    • sbcissues says:

      John,

      Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment. While I do agree with you that calvinism is a gross misinterpretation, I am not sure I can agree with your reasons listed here. Let me explain.

      I do agree that there is perhaps an element of “spiritual pride” in knowing that one has been elected by God… like being in a line and randomly chosen has its reward. Calvinists do not see this as the result of their good works… in any manner of speaking so that part I will disagree with. One other point here is this: I do not know how a calvinist can KNOW that he is saved until he goes to heaven. How does one know if he is elect or not until he has persevered to the end?

      Your second statement made me laugh… and I actually did not read it until I had made my statement concerning perseverance. I have never really thought about that but there could be a little meaning to the madness in your statement; since calvinists believe in the “priesthood of believer(s) then it is entirely possible to make an argument that persevering includes agreeing with the teachers and leaders of the theology! I have not thought about that particular angel but I kind of like it initially anyway!

      I am not sure I follow you on their “failure to teach a complete reliance on the Holy Spirit.” I do not see that as being even remotely true. I think they overlook the work of the Holy Spirit because I maintain regeneration is impossible apart from the indwelling because the Bible clearly says, “the Spirit is life and a part from the Spirit there is no life.” I do not see how it is even remotely possible for new birth to take place apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. So with the exception of the issue of regeneration in the calvinist system, they are as dependent on the Holy Spirit as any.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      • John White says:

        I appreciate your comments. I enjoy the concept of well-meaning men of God discussing the things of God, even if there is strong disagreement. My meaning about not teaching a complete reliance on the Holy Spirit, was in reference to the living out of the Christian life. Is it your understanding that Calvinists emphasize the idea of each individual Christian hearing from, being guided by, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit? I had heard that this was not really taught in Reformed Churches but I could be wrong.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Dear brother John,

        ” I had heard that this was not really taught in Reformed Churches but I could be wrong.”

        Someone has misled you.

      • John White says:

        I was reading over the various posts and trying to follow the various arguments. i must admit that I could not understand all the “wills” that my Calvinists brothers spoke of. I was intrigued by something you said, “One other point here is this: I do not know how a calvinist can KNOW that he is saved until he goes to heaven. How does one know if he is elect or not until he has persevered to the end?”

        I don’t know all the details of the Reformed belief system so this startled me. Do you mean to say that Calvinists live there lives without the assurance of salvation? Do they wake up somedays feeling saved and other days fearing hell? What a terrible way to live that, in my view, is not in any will of God. Please help me understand my brothers better.

    • rhutchin says:

      “There are about five major errors in it; but leading the list, even possibly ahead of Limited Atonement, is there failure to teach a complete reliance on the Holy Spirit.”

      Rather than Holy Spirit, we ought to say God. Either way, your statement is wrong. The usual complaint against the Calvinist system is that it exalts God over people – the sovereignty vs man’s free will discussion. In Calvinism God creates the world and brings the world to an end and everything in between is exactly that which God decreed should happen – God is sovereign. There is no greater or more complete reliance upon God than that expressed in Calvinism. This drives some people nuts because they want man to have some say in what happens – to much reliance on God for them.

  7. Les Prouty says:

    May all of you my non Calvinist brothers have a blessed Lord’s day tomorrow as we worship our risen King Jesus!

    • sbcissues says:

      AMEN… may His Spirit be evident in our services and work the miracle of salvation in many hearts tomorrow!

      To God be the Glory for the Great things He is going to do because He is INDEED RISEN and ALIVE!

  8. John,
    “I had heard that this was not really taught in Reformed Churches but I could be wrong..”
    Your statement about “each individual Christian hearing from, being guided by, and being empowered by the Holy Spirit” could be taken a number of different ways, depending on whether you are Dispensationalist, Pentacostal, or whatever.
    The Puritans certainly believed in reliance on the Holy Spirit. The modern resurgence of Calvinism, in fact, is in part a reaction to the overly institutionalized form of church life we have today with its reliance on made-made methods. However during the Reformation and again during the English Civil War in the 17th Century there arose a variety of groups that claimed to receive direct revelation from God and sometimes were “led” to do some pretty bizarre things. This led the Reformers and the Puritans to emphasize that Scripture must always be normative and that the Holy Spirit always leads us through the Word.
    In modern times of course there is the Charismatic movement and a lot of Calvinists have reacted against that. Is that what you meant by not relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit?

    • John White says:

      T.S., (Tribulation Saint),
      I like your title. Let me first say that I’m not formally trained in all these areas and there is much I don’t know. I am going on my own experience in a Calvinistic church for years and on what other critics of Calvinism have said. Calvinism in general seems to be a top-down legalistic religion where what you do or don’t do is pretty well defined by the teachings of the elders or pastors. I attended a newer more modern day Reformed church for several months where church discipline was stressed a great deal. I considered joining because I liked the pastor, Matt Chandler, (you’ve probably heard of him.) Matt told me he was “on the fence about these things but was leaning a little bit toward sovereignty” I told him I was also on the fence but leaning more toward man’s responsibility. Anyway as I looked into the joining process more I was given a quarter inch thick book about the rules of the church and the possibility of being disciplined if rules were not followed. That sounds like legalism to me.
      You might know a blogger named Frank Swift, and he wrote, “And when the underlying premise is wrong, everything that flows from that is going to be wrong as well. Now we can’t merely be content in being elected: we have to PROVE we’re elected, and the only way that can be done to the satisfaction of our peers is by outwardly doing as many good works as possible, and once again legalism rears its ugly head. It’s like we never stopped being Catholic.”
      The one thing that bothered me about Matt Chandler’s church, even though I appreciated all that he said and I appreciated him personally, was that he never once used the term, “The life of Christ being lived out through you.” To me that phrase hits at the very heart of Christianity and the absence of that phrase over months of preaching speaks volumes. I have listened to a number of John Piper’s sermons but I didn’t find a consistent reference or any reference to the need to depend totally on the Holy Spirit in order to accomplish anything of eternal value. If you know of a good quote where Brother Piper discusses this, please include it in your reply.
      Let me conclude with an issue within my people, Southern Baptist, that will illustrate the point. The popular WWJD movement is problematic to me. The fuller phrase is: What would Jesus do if He were here? So the bracelet proclaims His absence and implies that the wearer has the power to do what Jesus did if he can only figure out what that is. Both precepts are absolutely false. Many people say they go to the word for guidance but what that means to them is that they listen to a very highly respected man tell them how to live based on his study of God’s word. I feel that I’ve just described Calvinism. Someone is setting the rules for perseverance. How many sins and of what type must be committed before the church leadership deems a member to have never been saved. (Which is essentially telling him he has lost his salvation.) That is legalism.

      • I have heard of churches that have elaborate rules for the exercise of church discipline, but I’m afraid that the most typical pattern for most churches is not to exercise church discipline at all.
        In a Baptist church, a solid Baptist church (and I’m basically a Reformed Baptist) the church is supposed to be a believers’ church with a regenerate church membership. In order to achieve that goal, however, we have to have an understanding of what regeneration is, and that is where the debate of total depravity and irresistible grace comes in. If conversion is simply a matter of a person changing his mind, then a bare profession of faith is all that is necessary for church membership. And then we have the problem of “the church is full of hypocrites.” But if regeneration is more than that, then how can we tell whether or not someone is truly born again, and therefore legitimately a part of the “communion of the saints”? On this question people will differ.
        Outwardly the saved and the unsaved may look a lot alike (especially on a Sunday morning). But ultimately it comes down to the condition of the heart — the person’s inward motives. An unconverted person is basically living for himself — he may conform to an outward standard, but he is only doing it to please others. Whereas a genuinely converted person has a real desire to please God. He doesn’t need to be told to pray or read his Bible — they are his food and drink. He may not be perfect (he most certainly, in fact, is not) and he may come to different conclusions of certain issues than others — but hopefully he is growing in his relationship with God and striving to become more like Christ.
        How, then, should the church administer church discipline? It has to look for a “credible profession of faith in the judgment of charity,” to use a phrase that some Baptist theologians have used in the past. You give the benefit of the doubt to the individual Christian in the interests of Christian liberty. But the Bible makes it clear that there are certain types of people who “will not enter the kingdom of heaven,” and they must be excommunicated, hopefully in the expectation that they can eventually be restored.

  9. John White says:

    Les,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I have for a long time wanted to have a meaningful polite conversation with a true Calvinist. Just a quick history: I was a Calvinists for 4 months or so back in College. Later I was in a really great loving genuine little church which was taken over by Calvinism, and all the joy and love was drained from that wonderful little church. Now I will admit that perhaps what took over that church was Hyper-Calvinism, not the “real thing”, I don’t know. Perhaps you could help me.

    I don’t think you are aware of what you’re your teachings are doing. As Bob, said, We can’t both be right., and if you’re teaching error then the damage is being done. In my view a whole bunch of people are teaching error, including my people, the NC Baptists. All this error is the root cause for the state of the church today, which is, in my view, not good. I am very fearful about the future of the church in America and about America itself. The only thing I know to do is to teach and live the truth, realizing I’m accountable to God for both what I teach and how I live.

    You said, “I’m always hoping to learn.” You may wish you had not said that, but here goes. I think: (1) If we as American Christians do not stop the genocide of abortion this country will not stand. God’s long suffering is not forever suffering. It is our responsibility to stop the bloodshed. We have it in our power by the vote. We should not say, “Well God is sovereign and He’ll stop it when He decides it’s time.” We as a group are the weak nominal world loving people we are because of our own disobedience, not because God wills us to be so. Man’s responsibility is woven through the entire bible. God told Noah to build a boat, and what was Noah’s response? God told Abraham to go and what was Abraham’s response? God tells us to be filled with the Spirit, and what is our response? He tells us to shine and to let the living water flow. What is our response? God made us with the ability to respond. (2) We as American Christians have done a terrible job of teaching the truth, especially with respect to living a life fully dependent on the indwelling Christ. Humanism and our dependence on man’s wisdom and man’s group efforts have just about taken over our churches, very much including mine. (3) Our failure to fill this country, the world, with truth has left a “truth vacuum” into which error has spread. I wrote an article called, The Rise of Calvinism, Our Own Fault. The blame for the rise of all kinds of religious error can, sadly, be laid to a large degree at my people’s feet. (4) There are two main reasons why I oppose Calvinism: Limited Atonement and the underlying argument that permeates all the Calvinism I’ve ever seen, which is a denial of man’s responsibility, and the inescapable consequence of laying the cause for our failure on God.

    You’re probably as reasonable a Calvinist as I am ever likely to find but even you said that Bob, and by extension, myself, is a NC because God willed it so. “Yes, you are a non Calvinist because God predestined you for that.” Consider the meaning behind those words. If you are right then I am wrong, and I’m teaching error, and every time I open my voice I’m contributing to the downfall of this country. Since only the truth can set us free, and I’m predestined to teach error, then I am not free, nor are the people I teach. I’m putting them in bondage. I thought the Holy Spirit was going to lead me to the truth, so I must not be filled with the Spirit, since I’m neck deep in error, so consequently every work I do is just more wood, hay, and stubble for the soon coming fire. God has taken His child, me, and condemned me to a life of believing error, living a lie, and hurting every person I try to help. And I can’t do anything about it because that is God’s will and He is sovereign and He controls everything and if He wanted to be blessed, like you are, and have the joy of knowing and teaching the truth and setting people free like you do, He would just snap His fingers and I would be your newest church member next Sun. But, alas, I am predestined to be a NC. Therefore, since I oppose the truth, I cannot please God, ever.
    And right about now you’re beginning to consider the tragic possibility that I’m just not saved, “This poor deluded guy has never been regenerated. How sad for him. But nothing can be done for even if he knew the truth, he could not do anything about it. The poor guy is just not one of the elect. But I can’t shed a tear for him because his lost condition is bringing glory to God.”

    Now let me quickly say that I don’t think that the above two paragraphs represent your true feelings. Not at all. You’re too kind a person to think the things I just described; but if you truly held to your own teachings, I mean down to the bottom of your soul, how could you not think of my poor state in any other way, since you see me as predestined to be as I am. I honestly do not see how a true Calvinist can escape the view I described above with respect to those of us who believe your teachings to be error filled.

    I’m too old to mince words but I really do desire a dialog. Are you willing?

    • Les Prouty says:

      John,

      I don’t know, of course, what your experience was all those years ago. Maybe it was a hyper Calvinist, maybe not. Maybe just a jerk. You know there are some of those around. Sorry your experience with Calvinism back then left a bad taste in your mouth. I wish I could introduce you to some of my long time Calvinist friends. First, you would not know they are Calvnists until you asked them. They don’t go around talking about it all the time. Second, they are some of the sweetest people you would ever meet. Much more than I!!.

      John, I’m sorry you think my theology is causing so much damage. I really don’t see it. I’ve been asking a guy named Rick over on another site to name some ways how Calvinism has adversely affected people. He won’t do it. I’m not sure he can. Sorry brother. I just don’t see it.

      John I agree with you on stopping abortion. I’ve been involved for 30 years in efforts to stop abortion and help women. It is a a wrong for us to say, “well it’s God’s will. He’ll stop it when He gets ready.” No!! God’s sovereignty is no excuse for resignation and fatalism.

      And I agree we need to be teaching the bible.

      You said, “There are two main reasons why I oppose Calvinism: Limited Atonement and the underlying argument that permeates all the Calvinism I’ve ever seen, which is a denial of man’s responsibility, and the inescapable consequence of laying the cause for our failure on God”

      A lot of people stumble over the atonement issue. But your next statement…Calvinists do not deny man’s responsibility. Not at all. And neither do we lay the cause for our failure on God. Not sure where you got those ideas.

      John, I said this above, “Yes, you are a non Calvinist because God predestined you for that. I was once too. But I still hold out hope. You will too be one some day. There’s still time to change.” Notice I followed it with a smiley face. I was just having a little fun with Bob. I hope he took it that way.

      Look, we all have holes in our theology. Technically you can say where we are wrong…yes we are teaching error. This applies to you, Bob, me…all of us. But there are degrees of error. I don’t really know you so I’m not going to assume you’re lost just because you don’t agree with me. That would be silly of me.

      No, I consider you as a brother. And as time allows, surely let’s have dialogue.

      God bless you brother.

      Les

    • rhutchin says:

      “Man’s responsibility is woven through the entire bible. God told Noah to build a boat, and what was Noah’s response?…God made us with the ability to respond.”

      In this paragraph, you focus on believers – Noah, Abraham as examples. There is no argument with the Calvinists on this point as Calvinists say that God has made believers responsible and has given them the ability to respond.

      The real problem here – which non-Calvinists fail to address – is whether God gives the reprobate the ability to respond – not to the obedience required of the elect but of belief in faith. If a person rejects the gospel, then we conclude that the person is in blindness as Paul states in 2 Corinthians 4 – a blindness God has not removed so there is no ability to respond. If a person responds in belief to the gospel, then we know that God had to remove the blindness of 2 Corinthians 4 to enable them to believe.

      When arguing against Calvinism, the need is to address the plight of the reprobate and not the obligations of the elect as you do in your comment – because the issues people have with Calvinism are with God’s treatment of the reprobate. If you are too old to mince words, you are old enough to understand the issues involved in the debate.

      • John White says:

        rhutchin,

        Good point. I was not as clear as I should have been. Please bear with me and let me try again. I was and I am, for this discussion, setting aside how the lost are saved, so that I might concentrate on what Calvinism teaches regarding God dealing with His children. Here are some real questions I have on that topic. I’m not trying to “catch you” in a contradiction; I am genuinely curious about your belief system. Please be as brief as you can.
        (1) Does God “will” or desire or want or whatever word is correct to use in this context, His children to know the truth about grace? sovereignty? election? limited atonement? and …?
        (2) Why do some of His children, recipients of His love and grace, accept the truth about these things and others don”t?
        (3) Does your church teach and actually say fairly often, that Christ can live His life through His children?
        (4) What did Jesus mean when He said, “Apart from me you can do nothing?”
        (5) Does your church ever officially regard a former member who has “fallen away” to have never been saved?
        (6) Since we all sin, a lot, what would a guy do to “earn” such a judgement?

        I want to understand your beliefs. Perhaps I have been misinformed about some or all of them.

      • rhutchin says:

        John,

        The Calvinist belief system is no different than any other Biblical belief system. “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The purpose of study being to glorify God. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”

        So, in answer to your questions.

        1. God wants His elect to know His word.
        2. Understanding may be correlated with the amount of time one is able to devote to study. Where there is disagreement in understanding of specific concepts, much seems to be traced to a failure to consider all that the Bible says on an issue (my experience).
        3. All believers know that Christ lives in the lives of His elect.
        4. Jesus actually meant, “Apart from me you can do nothing?” Without Christ acting on the individual, a person cannot be saved or live a life pleasing to God.
        5. We all recognize that not everyone who walks into a church is who they claim to be.
        6. The church, in matters of discipline, judges the actions of a person. When confronted, a person’s failure to repent and conform their behavior to the Scriptures is the basis for church action.

        Calvinism is a Biblical based belief system.

    • Les Prouty says:

      John,

      One more thing this morning. Our sermon on Easter wes IMO an excellent sermon. May I encourage you to listen/watch? I think you may be surprised that you won’t be able to tell if he is a Calvinist or not. Here is the link. http://twinoakschurch.sermon.tv/main/main/20054302

  10. John,
    Just a couple of historical notes about your comments above.
    In your first point you seem to be laying the blame for the moral condition of America on an alleged fatalism that is implicit in Calvinism. Historically, however, the exact opposite is true – the modern religious Right owes much of its inspiration to Reformed thinkers such as Abraham Kuyper, Hermann Dooyeweerd, Rousas J. Rushdoony, and Francis A. Schaeffer. They were all advocates of such ideas and Common Grace and the Cultural Mandate. It should also be noted that most of them were associated with either Presbyterian or Reformed denominations. Those groups tend to emphasize the importance of establishing a Christian order in society. Historically it has been Baptists who have emphasized the separation of church and state, and in the past it has been Baptists who have been reluctant to get involved in politics. (I’m actually inclined to agree with the Baptists on this point.)
    In your second point you you say that we have done a terrible job of teaching our dependence upon the Holy Spirit, and you are absolutely right. That’s one of the reasons why some of us are inclined toward Calvinism. The modern failure to appreciate our dependence upon the Holy Spirit stems from the growth of institutionalism in the early 19th Century, and at the same time a type of Pelagian theology became popular. Perhaps its most prominent advocate was Charles G. Finnery. The theory went like this: God would not command anyone to do anything that they are incapable of doing. Since God commands all men to repent, they must all have the ability to repent. Hence Finney and others like him were emphatic in rejecting the doctrines of Total Depravity and Irresistible Grace. But what then is regeneration? Finney argued that it is simply the sinner changing his own mind. What role then does the Holy Spirit play in conversion? According to Finney He tries to exert moral suasion on the sinner, in much the same way as the evangelist does. The result is entirely a matter of the sinner exercising his own free will. The result is that stopped praying for revival — evangelism became a matter of salesmanship.
    On your fourth point you seem to be accusing Calvinism of laying the blame for spiritual failure on God. I hope you realize that Paul discussed this question at length in Romans Chapters 9 through 11. The short answer is this: The death of Christ is of infinite worth and value and abundantly sufficient to cover the sins of the entire human race. The gospel invitation has been extended to the entire human race as well — all men are commanded to repent. God, for His part, does not “force” anyone not to believe. Reprobation simply means that God “gives them up” — He simply lets them do exactly what they want to do, which is to reject the gospel. The only thing standing between any human being and salvation is his own stubborn, rebellious will. He has no one to blame but himself.
    I don’t know that anyone is “predestined” to teach error. The remarkable thing about divine providence is that an infinitely wise, holy and powerful God has chosen to use a fallible, human church to achieve His purposes here on earth. The spiritual failure is ours — we have failed to seek Him as we ought. In that sense we are fully responsible for the failure of the church, although ultimately it is all within God’s eternal decree. God’s decree is often hidden and mysterious, but our responsibility has been made plain in Scripture. Are we obeying what we should be able to understand?

    • John White says:

      T.S.,

      Can I call you that? Wow you said a lot. At times it seems that Calvinists are not that far removed from my own beliefs. I’m sorry for the inference that Calvinists are to blame. I feel that all of us as American Christians share equal blame. I hate politics even more than I hate religion, but since we, collectively could stop abortion tomorrow, we ought to do so. I don’t see it as politics but of saving lives.

      I appreciate the historical background but I must confess that I don’t know of any of those men nor of the named belief systems. I wholeheartedly agree with you about the failures and man centered aspects of my people, Baptists and Protestants in general. My entire focus is about returning to a dependence on God in my own life and in those around me. I think our failure in these areas is largely the reason why so many non-biblical teachings have crept into the church. (Yes, although I don’t want to be offensive, I consider Calvinism to be among the creepers.Sorry.)

      I really liked your paragraph ending in, “The only thing standing between any human being and salvation is his own stubborn, rebellious will. He has no one to blame but himself.” That whole paragraph just doesn’t sound like the things I’ve heard from Calvinists in the past, my past. How consistent are you guys? We Baptists are not very consistent. I’m an example. I consider my self to be a baptist just not a very good baptist. i have issues with my brothers; chiefly along the lines of dependence of the Christ within us. Are there various sub groups within Calvinism with slightly different beliefs?

      I am encouraged by your stand on man’s responsibility. In other conversations with Calvinists there was not nearly so much agreement. To sum up; thanks, and here are some thoughts where we might agree. I believe that the drawing ministry of the Holy Spirit is essential in conversion and that no one ever got saved simply by reciting a sinner’s prayer or by being baptized. I don’t know why some respond to God’s call and others don’t. I know that nothing surprises God and that both of the following statements are true:Whosoever will and Chosen in Him. I’m not prepared to discard either. I believe that Christ took all men’s sins unto Himself and drank the entire cup down to the bitter dregs. I also believe that we as Christians are woefully uninformed or ill-taught on this subject as evidenced by our view of God as turning His back on us every time we sin. (I am no more justified on my best day than I am on my worst, and God’s love for me never changes) I also believe God is capable of getting my attention when needed. I believe that the Christian life is not difficult, but rather impossible. There has only ever been one man who lived it, but that man, the God-man lives in me; and to the extent that I will respond to His call for utter reckless surrender, He will live that self same life through me. I believe that the church is in serious trouble and I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

      Thanks brother, hope remains and once in a while flourishes.

      • Yes, there are different varieties of Calvinists. The ones who try the hardest to be logically consistent often tend to be Hyper-Calvinists. They will argue that if God is sovereign and omnipotent, He will always do exactly what He wants to do. And since He does not choose to save everyone, He does not want to save everyone. They are called “Hyper-Calvinists” because they go beyond what Calvin himself would have said.
        Other Calvinists are just concerned to be biblical, and they recognize that there is a certain element of mystery and paradox in revelation. God is sovereign and ultimately controls everything that happens, and yet as human beings we are conscious of making decisions that have consequences. And so the Westminster Confession of Faith puts it like this: “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.” (Chapter III, Paragraph I). And yet no explanation is offered as to how all of this could be true at the same time!

      • rhutchin says:

        “They will argue that if God is sovereign and omnipotent, He will always do exactly what He wants to do.”

        If God is sovereign then that sovereignty is derived from His omniscience and omnipotence. Being sovereign, God controls fully all that happens and He will always do what He wants to do, else He could not be said to be sovereign. That is a Calvinist position.

  11. John White says:

    Les,

    I listened to the sermon. Great message and yes, you were right, I could not pigeon hole him into any particular camp, other than the GMOG camp, (Genuine Man of God). I was edified by the message. If I had been there I would have been interrupting the recording with a pile of Amen’s.

    Now let me get this straight. When you said that Bob was predestined to be a NC you were only kidding, right? I’m down with that, being a stand up comedian wanna be. Part of the reason that I chomped down on that worm is that I have had another “real Calvinist” tell me same thing almost word for word. He referenced a verse about the measure of faith and implied that when God was handing out faith I was having another ADD attack. He was not kidding. So how do you explain people like Bob? He is obviously saved, learned, sincere, and gifted. He has researched the issue extensively yet he remains a NC. Did you become a Calvinist by a deliberative exercise of your own studies and thought processes, or did God overwhelm you and “make” you one? Why wouldn’t God do that to Bob, and to me?

    To be more clear and to remove all personalities, do Calvinists teach that those who are already saved have free will as to how they live their life and interpret scripture? Have you ever known or heard of any Calvinist who “fell away” to the point where his home church officially regarded him as having never been saved? What is the criteria of belief and practice that would bring on such a somber pronouncement? Who decides when the point of no return has been reached? Please help me understand with examples, real or hypothetical, what perseverance means. Does all my speaking out against Calvinism rise to that level?

    I’m genuinely curious how you parse the whole God imposing His will on man thing. Apparently God does that to lost men to bring them to regeneration but not to saved men to bring them to maturity. Is that right?

    • Les Prouty says:

      John,

      I’m glad you were edified by our pastor’s Easter message. I was as well.

      Yes I was in effect kidding when I said that to Bob. It was a bit of poking fun. Now you said,

      “So how do you explain people like Bob? He is obviously saved, learned, sincere, and gifted. He has researched the issue extensively yet he remains a NC. Did you become a Calvinist by a deliberative exercise of your own studies and thought processes, or did God overwhelm you and “make” you one? Why wouldn’t God do that to Bob, and to me??

      Yes Bob is all of what you describe. Why is he still not a Calvinist? I don’t know. The fact that I believe that God is sovereign and has decreed all things that come to pass, Calvinists like me do not think all of us are simply robots. Yes I did studies in theology. God didn’t “make” me a Calvinist. By the way, remember that George Whitfield remained a Calvinist and his good friend Wesley remained a non Calvinist. Yet God used both of them.

      “To be more clear and to remove all personalities, do Calvinists teach that those who are already saved have free will as to how they live their life and interpret scripture?”

      Short answer is yes. Longer answer is to read a Calvinist confession of faith to see what we teach about man’s will. See the Westminster Confession of Faith chapters 3, 5 and 9. What you’ll see is that when we argue that man’s will isn’t absolutely free, we are arguing that man’s will has been and is enslaved to sin due to the fall of man in the garden. And we are talking about spiritual matters. We are not arguing about man choosing which shoes to wear. We are talking about wether man is absolutely free to decide to have faith in Jesus, on his own and absolutely freely. Calvinists say man is not free that way. We say man is bound in sin and will never choose to have genuine faith in Jesus unless and until God supernaturally frees man’s will from its bondage to sin. Then we say man does in fact freely choose to believe in Jesus. i.e. God removes the hindrance man has between man and God.

      “Have you ever known or heard of any Calvinist who “fell away” to the point where his home church officially regarded him as having never been saved?’

      I have sadly known some Calvinists who fell away in sin to the point where the leaders regarded him as an unbeliever.

      “What is the criteria of belief and practice that would bring on such a somber pronouncement?”

      So we are talking about excommunication. That is a long process where the elders have to deal with some member who is openly and blatantly continuing in public and scandalous sin even as the elders have lovingly confronted him or her and urged them to repent. Examples would be open adultery, a man or woman leaving and divorcing their spouse without biblical grounds, and such.

      It is s long process where the elders try to redeem the situation. Excommunication is a last resort. AND, it is important to remember that when a person is excommunicated the elders are not saying with absolutely certainty that the person is not a true believer. What is being said is that the person’s profession of faith is not credible because of their wanton disregard of the call to repent and their continuing to walk in scandalous sin. So as the scriptures say, he is TREATED as an unbeliever. And by the way that means loving on them and continuing to reach out to them.

      “Who decides when the point of no return has been reached?” The elders after long and patient efforts to redeem the situation.

      “Please help me understand with examples, real or hypothetical, what perseverance means.” Does all my speaking out against Calvinism rise to that level?”

      Well perseverance means this:

      1. They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.

      2. This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace: from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.

      3. Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and, for a time, continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.”

      “Does all my speaking out against Calvinism rise to that level?” Not at all brother. I will say that all of us need to remember two passages as we are critical of each other’s theology. Here they are:

      In Acts 5 Gamaliel said about the early disciples: ““Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. [u]But he was killed, and all who [v]followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who [w]followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or [x]action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.””

      The principle I see here is we should be careful what we say about each others’ theology and practices. We are all brothers here. I do not want to be “found fighting against God.”

      And in Philippians 1: “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even [m]from envy and strife, but some also [n]from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition [o]rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my [p]imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.”

      I believe each side of the Calvinism debate preach the gospel. I believe Bob, for instance, preaches a true gospel. Now I’m NOT saying that non Calvinists are preaching Christ from impure motives. But the principle I’m drawing here is that I should rejoice that Bob and other non Calvinists are preaching the gospel even as they differ with my views on how God saves people.

      I think Bob and others do in fact have pure motives in their preaching, so I’m not applying that aspect of this passage to him and them. I’m just saying each side should rejoice that Christ is preached.

      You say, “I’m genuinely curious how you parse the whole God imposing His will on man thing. Apparently God does that to lost men to bring them to regeneration but not to saved men to bring them to maturity. Is that right?”

      Look above on perseverance to see what Calvinism teaches. God absolutely does make sure His elect reach heaven and will not ultimately be lost.

      Blessings,

      Les

  12. John White says:

    Thanks Les,

    You have, in a very kind way, given me a lot of information. I’ll make just a few comments: (1) I have enjoyed the conversations but I still feel the issue is no closer to being resolved, and I believe it ought to be, (just a feeling). (2) While on the one hand I’m warmed by your willingness to let Bob be the Wesley to your Whitfield; it almost seems that there is no right or wrong. If you’re right then I am wrong, very wrong, but is that okay with you, and more importantly is it okay with God? (3) I am troubled by the view of God dealing in one way with the lost where He imposes His will on them, but He deals with the saved differently allowing their will to determine their beliefs. This dichotomy is difficult for me to incorporate into the character of a God with whom is no shadow of turning. (4) I wonder if your camp understands how very deeply I am hurt when they stand up and say that my Lord and Savior did not die for all men’s sins. I know you haven’t brought this topic into the conversation and I appreciate that.

    I know your camp has answers to all these things and please correct me if I have misstated your positions, I still want a dialog, but I’m not sharing this particular post as part of an argument but
    as …… well I don’t know why.

    I still appreciate you and what you’ve shared. I know that the thing that unites us is infinitely greater than what divides us, and I long for a coming together someday.

    • rhutchin says:

      “(4) I wonder if your camp understands how very deeply I am hurt when they stand up and say that my Lord and Savior did not die for all men’s sins.”

      I think the Universalists probably have the upper hand here. If Christ died for the sins of each and every person, then each and every person should be saved. The only argument that I seen to avoid the Universalist conclusion is to appeal to Pelagian theology and limit God to a passive position in the salvation of people – providing only the means for people to be saved. The individual would be the active participant in salvation and would decide whether they wanted to be saved – absent any influence by God other than that commonly accorded to each other person.

      The Calvinist starting point is that God determined whom to save before the creation of the world. To save those people required that Christ die for their sins. Did it require that Christ also die for the sin’s of those whom God had chosen not to save? The Calvinist concludes that it did not.

      In John Owen’s “Death of Death,” Owen argues for limited atonement and against universalism. His understanding was that the Universalists would be correct if the atonement is not a limited atonement. Nothing I have read has challenged Owen on this point.

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin,

        You wrote, “I think the Universalists probably have the upper hand here. If Christ died for the sins of each and every person, then each and every person should be saved.”

        I believe this is an illogical conclusion that is commonly misused to further the calvinist concept. Christ’s death on the cross can cover the sins of the world IF its application is for those who believe, which by the way is the calvinist position, that latter part. My position and your position is equally applicable, where conversion is concerned. We BOTH believe that whosoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

        The atonement is indeed limited for you and for me. Where we differ is on HOW the atonement is limited. It is perfectly logical for Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for the sins of the world, WHICH IS WHAT THE BIBLE ACTUALLY SAYS, and still be effectual for those who believe.

        To argue Jesus’ death for ALL SINS as necessarily demanding universalism is incorrect since the application of the provisions of the atonement are for those who believe.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        I think the kicker is this: What did the penal, substitutionary atonement do to sin?

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        The problem with your statement is that while there is certainly a penal substitutionary aspect to Jesus’ death on the cross, it is NOT the only aspect used to explain the atonement. My position is not negated by the substitutionary aspect. The debatable issue is not the substitution but the application of the provisions or benefits OF the atonement. Christ atoned for the sins of mankind so that God’s wrath is satisfied and reconciliation is now available for all who will believe. Christ’s death on behalf of sinners is the ground of redemption.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        You say, “Christ atoned for the sins of mankind so that God’s wrath is satisfied…”

        So, if His wrath is satisfied for people who are in hell right now because they rejected the gospel in this life, what exactly kind of satisfaction of His wrath was that? Did it become “unsatisfied” at some point?

      • sbcissues says:

        No. His wrath was satisfied so in repenting sinners could be forgiven. Satisfaction is not universal; it is specific for those who repent. Repentance is a qualification for forgiveness.

        Interestingly enough, this is true for the calvinist position OR one would have to admit repentance is not necessary because of the implications YOU are touting in this argument.

        If as you suggest, God’s wrath was completely satisfied for the elect on the cross, there is no need for repentance. See what I was saying about substitution being as aspect of the atonement but not the complete picture?

        Your own argument kicks you in the hiney as well.

      • Les Prouty says:

        As I just said on FB, if it is only for those who repent, and we know that only SOME repent, then it was not for the others who do not repent. What you’re trying to do is have a “provisional” atonement. “It’s in the bank so to speak and just needs to be tapped into.”

        That accomplishes nothing. If wrath was satisfied for some in hell, was it then “unsatisfied?”

        No, repentance is required because God says it is required. Conversion and such is the culmination of what was done on the cross. Satisfaction was made. Barrier between God and man removed. In time, after man is born into the world, he is converted and justified on the basis of the cross work.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        You wrote, if it is only for those who repent, and we know that only SOME repent, then it was not for the others who do not repent. What you’re trying to do is have a “provisional” atonement.

        First of all, the atonement IS FOR THOSE WHO REPENT PERIOD. There is no “if” and for the record that is what we BOTH believe because that is WHAT the Bible says. You need to reword your rebuttal. The atonement was never intended to apply to anyone who did not repent. The atonement is “provisional” because it is limited; there is no argument there just as to HOW it is provisional or limited.

        We both agree with the following statement: No, repentance is required because God says it is required.

        Now… what does repentance do? It is God’s requirement for atonement. That is true for BOTH positions. However, if you want to push the penal substitution aspect as you attempted to do earlier to prove your point that Christ’s death is necessarily for the elect alone… THEN one can conclude that repentance is not necessary because Christ has paid the penalty for the sins of the elect and there is no more condemnation and nothing to repent for. That is the other extreme to your lame argument that a death for the sins of the world necessarily demands universalism.

        The same argument swings BOTH ways. That was my point. since we both KNOW that God requires repentance for the atonement to be effectual, then Jesus’ death on the cross can and I maintain was certainly for the sins of ALL MEN… but effectual for those who repent.

        That is MY point and it is valid.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “First of all, the atonement IS FOR THOSE WHO REPENT PERIOD. There is no “if” and for the record that is what we BOTH believe because that is WHAT the Bible says. You need to reword your rebuttal. The atonement was never intended to apply to anyone who did not repent. The atonement is “provisional” because it is limited; there is no argument there just as to HOW it is provisional or limited.”

        Agree that it was only for those who repent. It cannot have been satisfaction of the wrath of God for those in hell (ones who never repent).

        And, we do not agree that it was “provisional.” That is what you believe. I believe the scriptures when Jesus said it is “finished.” Not it is “provisional.”

        “Now… what does repentance do? It is God’s requirement for atonement. That is true for BOTH positions.”

        No. That is not both our positions. Repentance is only possible because of the finished (not provisional) work of Christ.

        “However, if you want to push the penal substitution aspect as you attempted to do earlier to prove your point that Christ’s death is necessarily for the elect alone… THEN one can conclude that repentance is not necessary because Christ has paid the penalty for the sins of the elect and there is no more condemnation and nothing to repent for. ”

        No, one cannot correctly conclude that. Only if you let your bias control can you conclude that. Penalty has been paid. Barrier removed. Now able to repent when his enslaved will is freed.

      • rhutchin says:

        “Christ’s death on the cross CAN COVER the sins of the world…”

        If Christ actually “died for the sins of all people,” then His death would COVER the sins of the world.”

        However, you say “CAN COVER,” indicating that Christ did not die for the sins of all people but only that “he is the propitiation for our sins…also for the sins of the whole world.”

        If Christ had died for the sins of the world then Christ’s death would have propitiated the sins of the world. He didn’t. Instead, Christ is the propitiation for sin meaning that “Christ’s death on the cross CAN COVER the sins of the world…”

        You make the same distinction as the Calvinists by saying, “CAN COVER.” Yet you write, “It is perfectly logical for Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for the sins of the world, WHICH IS WHAT THE BIBLE ACTUALLY SAYS,…” but the Bible does not say this as your use of “CAN COVER” attests.

    • rhutchin says:

      “(3) I am troubled by the view of God dealing in one way with the lost where He imposes His will on them, but He deals with the saved differently allowing their will to determine their beliefs. This dichotomy is difficult for me to incorporate into the character of a God with whom is no shadow of turning.”

      I think you have misunderstood Les here. We can say that Satan imposes his will on those who are perishing through temptation and the blindness noted in 2 Corinthians 4. However, the person still acts consistent with his sin nature and is oblivious to Satan’s added influence in his life. God may restrain Satan’s influence on the lost or restrain the lost in their pursuit of sin and so impose His will to achieve His purposes but this does not require that God make the lost do things they do not already desire to do.

      God deals differently with with His elect by restraining Satan’s influence over them, removing the blindness of 2 Corinthians 4, and replacing the heart of stone with a heart of flesh – affecting a freedom of will in the person unknown to the lost. Without God’s direct intervention in the lives of the elect, they would not seek salvation. With the “freedom” God gives His elect, they seek salvation as naturally as they sought sin before God’s intervention in their lives.

      One of the major issues in the salvation debate concerns the depravity of the lost and what this depravity means to the salvation process. From what I have read, the non-Calvinists don’t deal with depravity very well – generally doing away with it through appeal to common or prevenient grace so that all people are born with the natural ability to pursue salvation (a Pelagian position).

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin,

        WOW… what an interesting statement:
        One of the major issues in the salvation debate concerns the depravity of the lost and what this depravity means to the salvation process. From what I have read, the non-Calvinists don’t deal with depravity very well – generally doing away with it through appeal to common or prevenient grace so that all people are born with the natural ability to pursue salvation (a Pelagian position).

        There are a couple serious problems with this statement.

        First, I actually agree with the initial sentence: One of the major issues in the salvation debate concerns the depravity of the lost and what this depravity means to the salvation process.

        Nowhere in the Bible is total depravity and inability established. Depravity is certainly accurate but inability is a conclusion brought to soteriology. While it is true that man is enslaved to his sin and even a sin nature, the idea that man does not have the ability to respond to God’s self initiative of revelation and reconciliation is NOWHERE in Scripture even so much as hinted at. This whole errant concept is just that; errant.

        This statement is another illogical position. From what I have read, the non-Calvinists don’t deal with depravity very well – generally doing away with it through appeal to common or prevenient grace so that all people are born with the natural ability to pursue salvation (a Pelagian position).

        Calvinists have a difficult time with understanding anyone who does not toe the line with their soteriology and if one is not a calvinist he has to be some stripe of pelagius. That is such a lame argument that illustrates one of two things; a refusal to actually LISTEN to what the other side is actually saying or simple ignorance in being able to comprehend what they are saying.

        A Pelagian position would argue that man has the innate ability to approach God on his own. No one that I know of especially in Baptist circles says anything of the sort. God is the sole initiator of salvation. Period. He sent His Son to die on the cross; He has taken the first step to secure the salvation of all those who believe so it is in fact IMPOSSIBLE for ANYONE on their own to come to Him FIRST. That whole pelagian charge is a lame charge.

        Secondly, as I have repeatedly stated, man MUST respond to God’s initiative of revelation and reconciliation; both demand a response. I believe man is still created in the image of God and that his being put out of the garden of Eden effectually caused him to lose his right standing with God and every person who has been born has been born with this lack of right standing, which I believe is the essence of our sin nature. This sin nature is an acquired secondary nature to our created nature. I believe it is in fact rather illogical to try to say that there is one response that man are unable to make and that is a response to accept the truths given in God’s revelation of who He is and what it is that He has promised to do with and for those who believe His promises and provisions explained in His Word.

        We are certainly capable of choosing in every other decision we make.

        I hope this clears up this statement you made.

      • rhutchin says:

        “Nowhere in the Bible is total depravity and inability established. Depravity is certainly accurate but inability is a conclusion brought to soteriology. While it is true that man is enslaved to his sin and even a sin nature, the idea that man does not have the ability to respond to God’s self initiative of revelation and reconciliation is NOWHERE in Scripture even so much as hinted at.”

        In the OT, the unsaved are called the “wicket,” “unrighteous,” or “fool.” In the NT, it might be something like the “natural man” or the “carnal mind.”

        So, we read in the Psalms that “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” In 1 Corinthians 2, we read, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:” The Calvinist says that this gives a hint of inability.

        Then in Romans 8, “…the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

        You know these verses plus many more that the Calvinists use to build their description of the unsaved as Totally depraved and to reach their conclusion that Total Depravity = inability.

        You seem to recognize the import of these verses when you write, “[God] has taken the first step to secure the salvation of all those who believe so it is in fact IMPOSSIBLE for ANYONE on their own to come to Him FIRST.” By “first step,” don’t you mean the removal of total depravity’s inability? If not, what what did you have in mind as the “first step” that God takes?

        Then you say “That whole pelagian charge is a lame charge,” but then make a Pelagian claim, “I believe it is…illogical…to say that there is one response that man are unable to make and that is a response to accept the truths given in God’s revelation of who He is and what it is that He has promised to do with and for those who believe His promises and provisions explained in His Word. We are certainly capable of choosing in every other decision we make.” You say, “We are certainly capable of choosing in every other decision we make,” and then, “A Pelagian position would argue that man has the innate ability to approach God on his own.” Isn’t “approaching God” a decision that you say people can make making it innate? If not, then we have the inability that you argue against.

        Must not God be “the sole initiator of salvation,” because of man’s inability to respond to a gospel that is to him, foolishness?

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin

        I hate to break it to you… but nothing in the following that demands a total depravity/inability position… NOTHING.

        In the OT, the unsaved are called the “wicket,” “unrighteous,” or “fool.” In the NT, it might be something like the “natural man” or the “carnal mind.”

        So, we read in the Psalms that “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” In 1 Corinthians 2, we read, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him:” The Calvinist says that this gives a hint of inability.

        Then in Romans 8, “…the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

        I do agree with the following statement: You know these verses plus many more that the Calvinists use to build their description of the unsaved as Totally depraved and to reach their conclusion that Total Depravity = inability.

        You have admitted what I have contended: there are texts that the calvinists have used to build their position on total depravity and inability. Thank you for admitting what I have been arguing. It is a conclusion drawn from various texts… which I maintain is incorrect.

        You asked…. By “first step,” don’t you mean the removal of total depravity’s inability? If not, what what did you have in mind as the “first step” that God takes?

        NO. God’s FIRST STEP was the incarnation and the cross and empty tomb. I do not subscribe to a total depravity concept and I can assure you my theology is not that inconsistent. God took the first step to secure our salvation and through revelation and reconciliation He continues to show us who He is and what it is that He has planned to do for those who repent and believe. Both revelation and reconciliation DEMAND a response and our response to His initiatives determine the direction of our eternity and the quality of our tomorrow.

        You guys apparently have no ability to think for yourselves… you wrote…“A Pelagian position would argue that man has the innate ability to approach God on his own.” Isn’t “approaching God” a decision that you say people can make making it innate? If not, then we have the inability that you argue against.

        There is a profound difference in me being invited into a room and entering as opposed to opening the door on my own and walking in. The latter is a pelagian position. I agree that no one can “come to God unless He draw Him” but that is nowhere near coming on my own. This is not rocket science… in fact is really pretty simple.

        Sometimes I think calvinists are the best argument for total depravity and inability when it comes to your ability to listen and think beyond your noses. Some of your arguments have merit but this pelagian charge is as lame as they get.

        Finally…. Must not God be “the sole initiator of salvation,” because of man’s inability to respond to a gospel that is to him, foolishness?

        He is the sole initiator… YES but man not only HAS the ability TO RESPOND he has the obligation to respond to God’s initiative. Revelation and reconciliation which are God’s sole initiative DEMAND a response FROM us; God is NOT the One who gives the response to His Own initiatives, which is what calvinism basically claims.

        Think about one final statement; you claim man is not able to respond to God unless He regenerates Him… that makes God the poorest communicator on earth… some sovereign God you portray. That’s bologna… God speaks and ALL creation responds and man is no exception. His response determines God’s response to Him.

      • rhutchin says:

        “Think about one final statement; you claim man is not able to respond to God unless He regenerates Him… that makes God the poorest communicator on earth… some sovereign God you portray. That’s bologna… God speaks and ALL creation responds and man is no exception. His response determines God’s response to Him.”

        The conclusion we must draw from your argument is that all should be saved as the universalists claim. All people are the same in terms of spiritual condition – all have a sinful, depraved nature. If God communicates with one person as you describe then he communicates with all people in exactly the same manner. There is, then, no basis for different responses from people – all should respond to God’s initiatives in the same way – either all believe or all continue in unbelief.

        Your argument leaves no room for one person to decide differently than another. To get different decisions, either God must treat people differently (the Calvinist position) or the people must be innately different from each other with those differences resulting in different decisions (the Pelagian position).

        Unless you can identify an alternative to explaining how people can choose to make different decisions in response to God’s actions, you either advocate Calvinism or Pelagianism. Can you carve out a third position?

      • sbcissues says:

        I hate to tell you this but your rebuttal is your take on my options. Your rebuttal is horribly errant.

        One more time, God reveals Himself to men and through His Word He tells us who He is and what it is that He wants to do for us and through us. He tells us the consequences of our choices. All this is His initiative; man is responsible to choose and he is also responsible for the choices he makes.

        God’s choices are based on our choices when it comes to our eternity just like His choices as to our sanctification are based on our choices given the parameters He has set.

    • Les Prouty says:

      John,

      I appreciate the way you have carried on the dialogue brother. I’ll try to respond to your concerns.

      “While on the one hand I’m warmed by your willingness to let Bob be the Wesley to your Whitfield; it almost seems that there is no right or wrong. If you’re right then I am wrong, very wrong, but is that okay with you, and more importantly is it okay with God?”

      You know, God wants us to get it right. But you not I nor anyone else has it all right this side of heaven. We should be diligent to study to show ourselves approved for sure. But God is gracious and where we are incorrect He is forgiving and understanding that we are limited in our knowledge.

      “(3) I am troubled by the view of God dealing in one way with the lost where He imposes His will on them, but He deals with the saved differently allowing their will to determine their beliefs. This dichotomy is difficult for me to incorporate into the character of a God with whom is no shadow of turning.”

      rhutchin replied well to this below. But just let me say that if I gave you the impression that this is the Calvinist view, I am sorry. God does indeed, I’m going to say the non-elect instead of the “lost,” differently for sure. He regenerates the elect but not the non elect. He removes the barrier (the enslavement of the human will) to faith and repentance for the elect but leaves the non elect in their enslavement.

      Think of it this way.

      1. All humans are born in bondage to sinful natures. No human desires Jesus. All humans are at enmity with God.

      2. Consequently all humans deserve hell and damnation. All humans are justly condemned. We all deserve it. And that is just.

      3. Grace is where God removes the enmity, the barrier, and the justly deserving of condemnation sinner can see Jesus in His glory and beauty and his own sinfulness and then repents and believes.

      4. The non elect have no basis for complaining that regenerating grace was not bestowed on them. See Romans 9 where Paul explicitly says this. So the non elect gets what he and all of us deserves…condemnation.

      “(4) I wonder if your camp understands how very deeply I am hurt when they stand up and say that my Lord and Savior did not die for all men’s sins. I know you haven’t brought this topic into the conversation and I appreciate that.”

      Well I wish it were not so that you are hurt by this.

      Blessings brother.

  13. Les Prouty says:

    Bob, did you pull your entire FB down because of the link and convo we were having? I seem to not be able to see your FB page.

  14. “I hate to break it to you… but nothing in the following that demands a total depravity/inability position… NOTHING. ”
    “No one CAN come to Me . . .” (John 6:44; 65)
    “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed CAN be. So then, those who are in the flesh CANNOT please God.” (Rom. 8:7,8).
    “But the natural man does not receive the thins of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor CAN he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Cor. 2:14).
    It is hard to see how the Scriptures could make the principle of human inability any more clear!

    • sbcissues says:

      I understand the program guys. these texts do NOT DEMAND a TD/TI position. I am not saying these few texts do not support the TD/TI position but they do not DEMAND it.

      Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Well duh that is no secret but it does not mean a person cannot respond to God.

      Same for those who are living their lives in the flesh. The natural man does not receive the things of God because they are FOOLISHNESS to him… guess what that is a CHOICE men make; not a condition that keeps a man from responding to God.

      Let me ask you all a question. Is God so pitifully weak that He cannot reveal Himself to someone who is lost? Is He so weak that He cannot communicate with a lost person and reveal His promises and provisions and warn him of His wrath if he does not repent?

      You see that weak argument is not limited to the non-cal God.

      • The texts I cited specifically state that they CANNOT come respond positively, i.e., they are unable.
        The reason they cannot respond positively is because of the depravity of their hearts. They are in a state of sin and rebellion against God, and reject His truth. “what may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20,21). But what do they do with the truth they possess? They “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). As a result, “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (v. 21). As a result of this “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing …” (I Cor. 1:18).

      • sbcissues says:

        Let me ask you a DUMB question. If They “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). THEN does that not mean they make the choice to do so?

        I agree with depravity it is the extent of that depravity that I believe is the question. You guys ALL keep referring to depravity; the problem is the TOTAL DEPRAVITY AND INABILITY that I am pointing too.

        look at the verse you quoted… “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (v. 21).

        If their foolish hearts were darkened then it would seem to me they were not dead to begin with as td/ti contend.

      • rhutchin says:

        “Same for those who are living their lives in the flesh. The natural man does not receive the things of God because they are FOOLISHNESS to him… guess what that is a CHOICE men make; …”

        This is the characteristic of all unsaved. Paul is not describing a choice people face – he is describing reality. The gospel is a stumbling block to the Jew – the Jew does not choose to make it a stumbling block. We don’t have the non-Jew hearing the gospel and declaring it to be foolishness while others do the opposite – as if a choice. In the minds of all the unsaved, the gospel is foolishness. The depravity of the unsaved is such that the unsaved cannot respond to God – the gospel is a stumbling block that Jews actually trip over and do not sidestep; the gospel is foolishness to the non-Jew and is not perceived in any other manner.

        “…not a condition that keeps a man from responding to God.”

        This is like the basic Pelagian position – that the unsaved have the ability to respond positively to the gospel – so it must be an innate ability (or derived from God as the Calvinists claim). I do not see how you conclude that people can respond to the gospel without also accepting the position that people have the innate ability to respond to the gospel.

        Then you say, “Let me ask you all a question. Is God so pitifully weak that He cannot reveal Himself to someone who is lost? Is He so weak that He cannot communicate with a lost person and reveal His promises and provisions and warn him of His wrath if he does not repent?”

        We all know that God is not weak. When God reveals Himself to the unsaved, the unsaved believes – as we see in the example of Paul on the road to Damascus. There is no such thing as God revealing Himself to a person who then does not believe – an outcome that would expose God as weak, which you seem to argue against. Could Paul really have said – No thanks.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “Let me ask you a DUMB question. If They “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18). THEN does that not mean they make the choice to do so?”

        Sure they did. They made a choice and said choice was a product of their depraved hearts and minds. They chose consistent with their nature. Unless and until God does something to them, to their depraved, God hating natures, they will always reject the gospel and reject the truth.

        “If their foolish hearts were darkened then it would seem to me they were not dead to begin with as td/ti contend.”

        Bob, we are not contending physical death or the inability to make a choice. They definitely make a choice to reject the truth. We are talking about spiritual death. Therefore in their darkness they cannot choose Christ.

        Let me ask you a question. How do you define total depravity?

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        There is no point to foolish hearts being darkened IF they are spiritually dead. Come on that is not a difficult concept to grasp. If it is then this is a useless exercise.

        What amazes me is that calvinists can talk about being spiritually dead in one context… having dead hearts and blinded eyes and deaf ears which by the way is the reason YOU GUYS posit the need for regeneration; so however you word your position unless and until God gives someone a new heart and a new nature that person is DEAD SPIRITUALLY and it makes no sense for his dead heart to be darkened.

        Now… since I do not believe in TD/TI this passage makes perfect sense… our choices have consequences that by the way God sets. The foolishness is a choice people make not a condition that limits one’s choices. The text does not establish this latter interpretation as you guys continue to suggest.

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin

        As I just said to TS… the issue is not depravity; the issue is TD/TI as evidenced by your statement, The depravity of the unsaved is such that the unsaved cannot respond to God.

        I simply disagree with THE extent of this statement. I do not believe that to be the case. The whole point of revelation and reconciliation is to elicit a response. That is the contention I continue to expound and NO ONE has even attempted to respond to.

        In addition to that, since the unregenerate is dead and deaf and blind… I do not see how the gospel can be a stumbling block or foolishness for that matter… if one is dead there is no point in the gospel being a stumbling block or foolishness… neither have any affect on a dead person.

        You said, “When God reveals Himself to the unsaved, the unsaved believes – as we see in the example of Paul on the road to Damascus. There is no such thing as God revealing Himself to a person who then does not believe – an outcome that would expose God as weak, which you seem to argue against. Could Paul really have said – No thanks.”

        When God reveals Himself to the unsaved, the unsaved believe. Really? Do you have ANY Scripture that validates that claim? As for Paul, I do not believe he was converted on the road to Damascus; I believe he was saved WHEN he heard the gospel and the scales fell off his eyes… and yes I do believe he could have one otherwise; he could have instructed his soldiers to take him back to Jerusalem or wherever he lived to get help. I believe his obedience in doing what Jesus told him to do is what brought him to salvation.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, so let me ask again. How do you define total depravity? You deny it, so how are you defining that which you deny? It’s a pretty simple question and since you have written many times you are against it, please define what you are against.

      • sbcissues says:

        I have done this before for you. Total Depravity as calvinism defines it is being spiritually dead.. unregenerate man has a dead heart and deaf ears and blinded eyes and cannot respond in any positive way to the gospel. He is enslaved to his sinful nature and can only sin and therefore MUST be made alive to repent and believe.

        I have heard just about ALL the side notes that being totally depraved does not mean that man is as bad as he can be; it just means he has no ability to repent and believe unless and until God gives him that ability.

        Now… do not bother pasting some long explanation in some confession. If what I have said is not right then please enlighten me. I think we both know I understand what total depravity is or else this whole exercise would be in vain.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, two quotes from RC Sproul’s book Chosen by God. Agree or disagree?

        ““If God does not plant [a] desire [for Himself] in the human heart nobody, left to themselves, will ever freely choose Christ. They will always and everywhere reject the gospel, precisely because they do not desire the gospel. They will always and everywhere reject Christ because they do not desire Christ.” (p. 62)

        “This is the fatal flaw in non-Reformed views: they fail to take seriously man’s moral inability, the moral impotency of the flesh.” (p.72)

      • sbcissues says:

        The problem is in how we define “plant the desire in the human heart.” To deny that is pelagianism plain and simple. I believe the planting of the seed is what the Word itself does along with the reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit; apart from that drawing man will as you say never choose Christ. However, the statement you quote here does not demand a regeneration before repentance posture.

        That is the problem I have with the argument of calvinism. You guys have a tendency to say one thing inferring another. I have no problem with the statement but it does not totally describe the calvinist position. So you guys say this trying to prove a point with underlying presuppositions attached that are not expressed in the statement you argue.

        Personally if I could not articulate exactly where I stand I would not hold that position.

      • sbcissues says:

        PS As you say… this is no fatal flaw but a misguided conclusion.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Thanks Bob. You may have defined it before and I just don’t remember.

        What you have said is all true as per Calvinism. It’s not that complicated. This is not a long quote, but here goes:

        “The doctrine of total inability (some call total depravity) teaches that people are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, as he requires, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests and to reject the rule of God.”

        This is really the crux of our differences. We believe man in his natural state is spiritually unable and unwilling to repent. You believe that man in his natural state has that ability when for instance someone reads scripture to him which said scriptures call on him to repent. You apparently do not believe that when a natural man is confronted with the preaching of the gospel, and the Holy Spirit “convicts” this natural man, you do not believe the Holy Spirit actually effects any spiritual change upon and in the natural man and that he can of his own natural free will accept or reject that gospel.

        And there we remain a chasm apart.

      • sbcissues says:

        I do believe the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is essential in one’s conversion; however I would also say that the preaching or the reading of the Scriptures is always accompanied by the presence of the Holy Spirit. I do not believe the Spirit has to make some kind of change in a person for them to receive the Word and contemplate it and make a decision to accept or reject that revelation from the Word.

        I do not believe one has to be given life in order to repent and believe. I believe one repents and believes and THEN receives new life.

        As I have said on a number of occasions, I do not discuss “man’s free will.” I talk about the choices man has been given by God to make. Everyone of us has choices to make every waking moment of our lives. Not only has God given us choices to make, which we had no choice in… but there are consequences to those choices… that we also had nothing to do with; God gave us the choices to make and the consequences of those choices.

        All this other stuff about libertarian free will etc is a lot of goobly goop with supposed theological and philosophical implications to make people sound more intelligent than they really are.

        Simplify it to the choices we make and I believe that best fits the theological discussion as the Scripture presents it. That is my position and I am sticking to it.

      • rhutchin says:

        “I do believe the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is essential in one’s conversion;…” As the Holy Spirit is God, we can also say; “I do believe the convicting work of God is essential in one’s conversion;”

        You asked the rhetorical questions, “Is God so pitifully weak that He cannot reveal Himself to someone who is lost? Is He so weak that He cannot communicate with a lost person and reveal His promises and provisions and warn him of His wrath if he does not repent?” The obvious answer is, No.

        God does communicate and He does convict. If God communicates and convicts the person, that person yields his life to Christ. If God does not communicate and convict, then the person does not yield his life to Christ. Without the convicting work of God, none could be saved. With the convicting work of God all whom God convicts are saved. If a person is not convicted of his sin, we can be confident that God has not convicted him.

      • rhutchin says:

        “In addition to that, since the unregenerate is dead and deaf and blind… I do not see how the gospel can be a stumbling block or foolishness for that matter… if one is dead there is no point in the gospel being a stumbling block or foolishness… neither have any affect on a dead person.”

        The deaf, dumb and blindness are descriptive of a person’s spiritual state. Otherwise the person can be a Richard Dawkins or Dan Barker with a keen mind and able to reason logically. Yet, they see the gospel as foolishness. Are not many Jews zealous for God but they stumble over Christ. Except God convict them, they cannot be saved.

  15. “Let me ask you all a question. Is God so pitifully weak that He cannot reveal Himself to someone who is lost? Is He so weak that He cannot communicate with a lost person and reveal His promises and provisions and warn him of His wrath if he does not repent?”
    Of course not. It’s called “irresistible grace.”

    • sbcissues says:

      Not so fast… your position claims God has to FIRST regenerate the individual BEFORE the gospel has any power to penetrate the dead heart. So once again, God is limited in His ability to communicate with His creation IF He has to regenerate them BEFORE they can respond positively to His Word.

      • That’s a little bit like saying that the car mechanic is limited in his ability to drive the car if he has to fix it first. Our first parents sinned in the garden, and that created a whole new set of circumstances. We no longer are what we were originally created to be. And, yes, that limits are capacity to receive the truth.
        But to come back to Les’ line of questioning, what do we mean by “inability”? In what does human inability consist? We are not saying that men lack the natural capacity to think and reason. What we are saying is that man’s sin and rebellion distorts his thinking about God and prevents him from embracing the gospel. The Gentiles “walk in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance t6hat is in them.” And why are they spiritually blind? “because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17-19; NASV).
        A classic example of this is the debate over evolution v. Intelligent Design. The Christian can look up into the sky and behold the order and complexity of nature, and exclaim “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Ps. 19:1). The atheist can look at exactly the same facts of nature and insist that there is no evidence for the existence of God whatsoever. Why? The atheist is an intelligent and well-educated person. He can think and reason. He makes intelligent decisions everyday, as you point out. But when it comes to God he cannot see the obvious. Why? Because his heart is at enmity with God. He is doing everything in his might to deny the claim that God has on his life. And so he tries to convince himself that there is no evidence for the existence of God. He rationalizes his unbelief. He tries to reinterpret reality. And he does this because of his own personal war against God. Therein lies the enormity of his crime. The evidence is there. He can see it. But he refuses to acknowledge it. Therefore “they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

      • sbcissues says:

        TS

        In all fairness, your statement is simple conjecture… We no longer are what we were originally created to be. And, yes, that limits are capacity to receive the truth. Both statements are interpretations. The Scripture NEVER says man is no longer created in the image of God; it is the calvinist position that men are no longer what they were originally created to be; if God never makes that statement does that not seem a little questionable? In fact God DOES say man has become LIKE US… knowing good and evil.

        Now to the second statement, “that limits our capacity to receive the truth”; friend that is 100% conjecture and in my opinion absolutely incorrect.

        Lets continue, you say, What we are saying is that man’s sin and rebellion distorts his thinking about God and prevents him from embracing the gospel. I agree that sin affects our thinking but again “preventing him from embracing the gospel” is a stretch from the scriptural position; our sin does affect our decision to surrender to the gospel call but it does not prevent it.

        The Gentiles “walk in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance t6hat is in them.” And why are they spiritually blind? “because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph. 4:17-19; NASV). Agreed. You must understand that this does NOT demand the TD/TI interpretation you give it; it CAN certainly support it but it does not demand it; it is the extent that is in question here; we are both on the same page as to the affect of sin but the problem is the extent each position takes that depravity.

        Now to your own illustration which is absolutely correct… your closing statement, Therein lies the enormity of his crime. The evidence is there. He can see it. But he refuses to acknowledge it. Therefore “they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).

        Notice in your own illustration, the atheist “chooses” this direction. I agree. The difference in our respective positions is this; in your circle God is responsible for the atheist’s position because He does not intervene and effectually call him to do otherwise and apart from God’s effectual call he cannot do otherwise.

        As I see it, it is OUR responsibility to plant the seed of the gospel message and the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to magnify that seed and the atheist’s responsibility to choose which route he is going to take. We focus one ONE decision and talk about one decision but the gospel rejection could step from 1000′s of opportunities to choose Christ; the position you place this atheist in may well be the result of decades of resisting and rejecting Jesus. It could well be the result of no gospel influence at all in his life. Does that mean that God does not love this individual? No. Does that mean that God’s will is that this individual be saved? Yes.

        However, the circumstances of his life have determined to this point the condition he is in at the time. Is that God’s fault? NO. That is where the great commission and great commandment have fallen secondary to our churches doing and being what we want to do and be as opposed to being what God wants us to be and focusing on what He would have us focus on… we care more about the color of the carpet than we do the eternal condition of people’s souls… we are more concerned about the Sunday dinner than we are inviting people to come in from the highways and by-ways… to get saved.

        We are too concerned about making the gospel palatable than we are powerful; instead of paving the way to glory we are making the road easier for the lost to go to hell.

        That my brother is the problem not the issue that God is plucking this one and that one out of the proverbial sea of eternal damnation leaving the rest to die in those waters. Ironically… to close, Jesus’ invitation to several of the disciples was to come and do what? I will make YOU to become fishers of men. Our responsibility is to catch them and God’s responsibility is to clean them up and save em!

        That is where I am going to keep my focus… and not because I do not know WHO is the elect; as I see the scriptures the elect are ALL WHO WILL COME not all HE DECIDES WILL COME. The first is the thrust of scripture; the latter is the thrust of an errant theology.

    • John White says:

      And yet you resist grace everyday you live. So do I. In big ways or small ways we go our own ways and are thus resisting God’s grace. Your escape route is that God has a will for some lost men, (men that are currently lost but are the elect and are about to be regenerated), that is set and nothing can prevent it; yet the will He has for you and I can be prevented and thwarted by the slightest of distractions. That just does not pass the biblical nor the common sense standard. If the works God created me for have been ordained since before creation, that seems like a pretty big deal to me. Is it not true that when a saved, elect, predestined, heaven bound, good Calvinist sins it grieves the Holy Spirit? Have you missed any preordained good work in your life?

      I have asked this question in a number of ways several times and each time you guys bring the question back to an elect man, though currently unsaved but who is about to be regenerated. I’m not asking about that guy. I’m asking about you, a sincere dedicated well studied dedicated man of God, who desires to spread the truth in word and in your own personal life. Have you, the saved and elect you, ever sinned since your conversion? Well of course you have. Not as much as me because when you stand you speak the truth, but when I stand I spout error, but still you have sinned some tiny bit since your regeneration. Now, what happened to the preordained good work that God had ordained for you to do at the exact time that you sinned? Why didn’t He over-ride your will in that situation and “force” you to do the work He had planned for you since before creation?

      Once again, here is my question. Does God deal differently with you, (I’m talking to the man currently wearing your shoes), than He did with the last regenerated soul to walk down the aisle of your church? When you were lost, (do you remember those days?) did God present you the choice of being saved or of staying lost? Or did He quicken you and enable you to respond to Him in regeneration? Is that what you refer to as the “Effectual Call”? Was His grace in your life at that time resistible or irresistible? We both already know your answer, and I respect your right to have that answer, and I admire your time spent in the diligent study of God’s word to arrive at that answer. But if we conclude that His call was effectual and His grace was irresistible, then why doesn’t God call you the same effectual way into the good works He has ordained for you to do? Is it the case that those effectual calls are tiresome for Him and He only can churn out a limited number per day. (I speak as a fool.) How can a good obedient church leader in a Calvinist church ever sin? Where was God when He sinned? Why didn’t God prevent it? surely you not saying that the sovereign God intended you to sin? I’m not talking about Yule Brenner, I’m talking about you.

      I would love a SIMPLE answer to this question: Does God treat an already regenerated man differently than a currently lost but about to be regenerated member of the elect?

      One other question. Do you, not some other hypothetical guy, do YOU live with absolute, beyond any doubt, clear knowledge, that you are in fact heaven bound? If so, How did you arrive at that settled once for all conclusion? I am genuinely curious, please help me.

      • rhutchin says:

        “And yet you resist grace everyday you live.”

        I think the unsaved can be said to resist God’s grace – as extended through His creation (Romans 1) and in the preaching of the gospel in all the world.

        Believers do not resist God’s grace as much as they fail to avail themselves of God’s grace. We were trained by Satan to do things on our own and after God saves is, we find ourselves not even thinking to ask God for help. This even though God tells us not to worry about anything but to discuss things with Him and even promising, Ask and you shall receive – not once but several times. If that we not enough, he has James say, “You dummy, you have not because you ask not.” (or something like that) Despite all this, we still find ourselves wanting to do it all by ourselves. I would not say that we are resisting God in doing this; just not taking advantage of His grace.

      • sbcissues says:

        This is an interesting statement: Believers do not resist God’s grace as much as they fail to avail themselves of God’s grace.

        If God effectually calls one to BE SAVED how is it that He cannot or does not give then the adequate grace as you suggest to live the life He has planned for them?

        Simply does not comport. Sorry.

  16. rhutchin says:

    “Do you, not some other hypothetical guy, do YOU live with absolute, beyond any doubt, clear knowledge, that you are in fact heaven bound? If so, How did you arrive at that settled once for all conclusion?”

    Jesus said in Matthew 7, “Not every one that says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.”

    So absolute and clear knowledge is not to be found in the response; This is what I did.

    Our confidence is in what God did to us. God changed us. For example, at one time, we did not care about our sin. Now we are sensitive to our sin and always seeking God’s forgiveness when we sin. Christ has invaded our lives and we cannot help but think of Him and find ourselves measuring everything by what he did and said.

    In the end, we simply know that God is sovereign and He will do what is right. It is God who brought us to belief in Christ, and He will preserve us through that belief. I am confident that I am a sinner and God has graciously made me aware of that.

    • John White says:

      What does “justified” in Rom. 5 mean to you? I’m asking, not arguing. I’m seeking to understand your mind set.

      • rhutchin says:

        The basic meaning of “justified” is to be declared innocent. It is God who justifies. Sinners are “justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Rom 3) But, a few verses later, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

        Romans 5 starts, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” I sometimes think the translation of this verse should be, “Having been Justified (by God), by faith (in our justification) we have peace with God through Christ.

        But taking it as it is, we can read this to say that God uses faith as part of the justification process. Naturally, anyone who has faith is thereby justified. It would be erroneous to conclude that a person has faith but is not justified.

        Not all have faith so not all are justified. How is it that some have faith and others do not. The only difference I see is the grace extended to some and not others.

    • John White says:

      rhutchin,

      I wholehearted agree with your last line:
      “I am confident that I am a sinner and God has graciously made me aware of that.”
      But you stopped short of being confident of your salvation. Did I misread your intent? In your view does the Mt. 7 passage means that no one can be confident of their salvation? Paul sure seemed to be. What am I missing in your belief system? It’s a given that I disagree but I want to make sure that I’m not basing my disagreement on gossip about your beliefs, but on the straight stuff. I appreciate your help. I don’t want to tell people that you teach such and such when in fact you don’t. Besides, I’m still hoping for some kind of mending of the schism that currently exists.

      • rhutchin says:

        Matthew 7 points to works and emphasizes that we are not saved by works. Salvation is entirely by grace and grace is entirely of God.

        In terms of confidence in salvation, I suspect that most believers look at the sin they continue to do and think that there is no way God could let them into heaven. Thus, their constant prayer for forgiveness. We find that it is easy to give up the easy sins – murder, rape, robbing banks – but the sins of the mind and the constant bombardment of temptation that draws our thoughts in one evil direction or another are the hardest to deal with – and the source of much frustration (and lack of confidence).

        We would like to have it done once and for all at the point in time when we know we are sinners and ask for forgiveness. We would like to be completely delivered for temptation and sin at that time but it doesn’t happen. At each temptation, God requires that we implore him for the escape route. I suspect that He does this because we would soon become indifferent to Him otherwise.

        My confidence is in God – that He will continue that work which He has begun in me. At the same time, I see my mind, and the thoughts I entertain, often unchecked, and I wonder if God has perhaps underestimated the work that He needs to do with me. So, I let God worry about whether He has saved me and continue on with my life.

      • sbcissues says:

        You guys take a mile on this “works” thing and make it world wide journey.

        Works are “earning” or “deserving” salvation. I hate to tell you, repenting is not in this category. If it is, your position is no less a work than mine since we BOTH believe that one MUST repent to be saved.

        For the record, your confidence in God is no less than my confidence in God to save.

        So, I let God worry about whether He has saved me and continue on with my life.

        That is what I believe is wrong with calvinism. You are placing the sole responsibility of your walk with Him on Him and not on yourself. Sad.

  17. “I would love a SIMPLE answer to this question: Does God treat an already regenerated man differently than a currently lost but about to be regenerated member of the elect?”
    Yes, He obviously does. The regenerate Christian has been reconciled to God, adopted as His child, and has the Holy Spirit dwelling within. He is “accepted in the Beloved.” God chastens him as a son, and keeps him in grace. Christ is at the right hand of God making intercession for him. None of these things are true until after the sinner has been justified by faith.

    • John White says:

      TS,

      I appreciate your simple answer. It helps. Give me more, please. I agree with all you said, but just to clarify: What is your response to all that He has done? Is it a part of your belief that different saved men might have somewhat different responses to all that God has done? Perhaps some in your church simply do not live as obedient a life as the pastor does. Is it your belief that this difference is because of the individual choices that men make, or does God somehow choose only certain men to be genuine Godly disciples? Are the differences that exist between the walks of brothers based on those brother’s choices or on God’s choices? I want to be clear about your beliefs. Your help is appreciated. (Okay, I’ll confess: I enjoy talking about the things of God, and I still am looking for some type of coming together.)

    • sbcissues says:

      John,

      The calvinist will say that because he KNOWS of his sin and he KNOWS he has repented THEN he MUST be of the elect because those are the only ones who DO repent. The truth is, their theology is an adopted one BECAUSE they are saved…

      The question looking back is immaterial and interestingly enough… calvinism is ALWAYS focused on the other guy NOT themselves. Calvinism is always focused on the condition of men; everyone else. Calvinists are already in the club.

      What is interesting is a discussion of what about your kid’s eternal security. By the numbers, if 20 calvinists have 3 kids each then of the 60 children not all of them are going to necessarily be among the elect and the plight of the parent is to trust God’s decision as to which one will or will not make the cut; it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the parents diligence to raise them up in the admonition and nurture of the Lord. That is absolutely and completely wrong.

      This will be the subject of my next post.

      • rhutchin says:

        “The calvinist will say that because he KNOWS of his sin and he KNOWS he has repented THEN he MUST be of the elect because those are the only ones who DO repent. The truth is, their theology is an adopted one BECAUSE they are saved… ”

        It would be more accurate to say that the Calvinist believes that God gives his elect an awareness of their sin and of their need for a savior through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit acting in concert with the preaching of the gospel. This can only happen after God has dealt with the sinner’s sin nature and removed the blindness imposed on them by Satan. If God were to treat all sinners alike, then all would come to salvation. God must pass over some people if they are to remain in their sin.

      • sbcissues says:

        First of all, I was answering John’s question HOW you KNOW that you are saved or one of the elect.

        Second… your statement If God were to treat all sinners alike, then all would come to salvation. virtually eliminates the need for the Great Commission. If what you are saying is correct then WE have no responsibility in bringing people to Christ.

        God’s passing over SOME or MANY has more to do with our failure to be witnesses than it does His desire to pass over those who are lost.

      • rhutchin says:

        “What is interesting is a discussion of what about your kid’s eternal security….it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the parents diligence to raise them up in the admonition and nurture of the Lord. That is absolutely and completely wrong.”

        As any Calvinist would agree. As God is the source of salvation, the Calvinist prays for his children often before they are conceived and continues doing so all their life. The Calvinist trusts in the promises of God to give them the desire of their heart – the salvation of their children.

        But isn’t this what all believers do regardless of theological tags we place on them. Do we not all agree that God saves and because of this we earnestly pray for our children being confident that God will do what we ask? At the same tome, not neglecting the life we live before our children.

      • sbcissues says:

        Do we not all agree that God saves and because of this we earnestly pray for our children being confident that God will do what we ask?

        I hate to tell you but this statement has absolutely NO bearing on God’s efficacious calling on ANYONE including your children IF He has decided before the foundation of the world who is and is not going to be saved.

      • John White says:

        Love you Bob. Keep on keeping on. I would love be a tiny part of a coming together, but as yet I don’t see much progress on that goal.

      • sbcissues says:

        Not much… BUT I am grateful that there are a LOT of people reading these posts and comments and are THEN deciding for themselves where they stand on the issue of calvinism.

        That is the reason I engage otherwise I would find something else to do with my time.

        This exercise also helps strengthen my own position; it forces me to think through some of the more intricate aspects of my theological position and makes me dig deeper into the Word… to make sure my position is founded in His Word and not some philosophical position.

      • rhutchin says:

        Pastor Bob wrote, ‘I hate to tell you but this statement has absolutely NO bearing on God’s efficacious calling on ANYONE including your children IF He has decided before the foundation of the world who is and is not going to be saved. ”

        Certainly, God has decided all things before He created the world, and everything plays out exactly as God had decided. If not, then God cannot be omniscient and the open theists are right.

        Nonetheless, when God decided to hang Jesus on a cross, He used human agents to accomplish His purpose. God decided that David should number Israel and used Satan to accomplish that purpose. God decided to test Job before He created the world again using Satan as His agent to initiate that test.

        Therefore, it is not unreasonable to conclude that God should save His elect through a process that includes the prayers of His elect. This just as He uses the preaching of the gospel by His elect to draw His elect to Christ. God could save people without sending Christ to the cross, without the preaching of the gospel, and without the prayers of the saints. However, God seems to have decided on a process of salvation that includes all these things. We have full confidence that God has made us and our prayers part of His process for bringing His elect to Christ.

      • rhutchin says:

        Pastor Bob wrote, “Second… your statement If God were to treat all sinners alike, then all would come to salvation. virtually eliminates the need for the Great Commission. If what you are saying is correct then WE have no responsibility in bringing people to Christ.”

        We are to go into all the world to preach the gospel by command, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

        This is part of the process that God has established to bring His elect to Christ. It also serves the purpose of preparing the reprobate for judgment.

      • sbcissues says:

        Again some interesting thoughts here.

        This is part of the process that God has established to bring His elect to Christ. It also serves the purpose of preparing the reprobate for judgment.

        I agree with the first sentence. However, I am sorry but as I have repeatedly said… calvinism contends that it is effectual calling that brings the elect to Christ; it is God and NOTHING ELSE. That is the essence of monergism. However, you guys fail to understand that reality and continue to use this “means of saving” as if on one hand God and God alone has decided on His Own who would be saved and then somehow want to establish some sense of responsibility on our part to effectuate what He has determined to do.

        Our involvement is Scripturally mandated because I believe God saves those who hear the gospel and repent and believe not are effectually called from the dead and THEN believe. The gospel according to calvinism has NO POWER to save the unregenerate.

        Since that is true, according to the calvinist system the gospel is the power of sanctification and not conversion. For the calvinist, repentance is a response to regeneration. Repentance is a first response to sanctification and not conversion.

        That my brother is simply wrong.

    • John White says:

      TS,

      Here is a different question. I would like to hear the Calvinist view on this. When a CC, (confirmed Calvinist), speaks to a large group of people he obviously is aware that before him sit at least some who not in the elect. Would he ever say to the group statements like, “Christ died for your sins.” Or does the CC always feel compelled to teach about Calvinism before he can present the gospel? I understand that in the CC’s mind only the elect will really hear him, but does it ever bother him that he is lying to the people in front of him who are not the elect. This seems to be a rather sticky wicket encountered only by a CC. Would he ever say things like, “I thank all of you for coming, but really only some of you will be benefited by this talk. If you feel unmoved by this talk then there is a very good possibility that you are eternally lost and can never be saved no matter what you do.”

      Yes I’m using the absurd to make a point, and perhaps encourage some Calvinists to examine certain facets of their belief system. But in all honesty, wouldn’t a CC need to say something to the non-elect just for the sake of honesty. How does a CC handle this dilemma?

      • Different Calvinists will handle the “dilemma” differently. As you may know there are “Hyper-Calvinists” who will deny the free offer of the gospel. I think that the better Calvinist types, however, are sincere Bible believing Christians who want to be faithful to Scripture. They would argue that the death of Christ is of infinite worth and value, sufficient to cover the sins of the whole world (I would be careful, however, and not say that Christ “paid for the sins of the whole world” — If that were literally true the whole world would be forgiven); the offer of salvation contingent on repentance and faith is made to the entire human race, and all men everywhere are commanded to repent. I would warn people of their danger and invite them to come to Christ for salvation. If they accept the invitation they will be saved.

  18. John White says:

    rhutchin,

    I understand that in your view a Calvinist’s children will or will not be saved based solely on God’s choice. Do Calvinists feel that they can influence God’s choice by praying for their children and raising them in a Godly fashion? What is your estimate concerning the percentage of Calvinist’s children who end up in the Elect? What is your estimate on the percentage of children of avowed atheists who end up in the Elect? In other words do you think the odds of being in the Elect are changed in the least by the way children are raised?

    • rhutchin says:

      It is God who saves. Salvation is all of grace and and grace is entirely of God. If we want someone saved, we should implore the one who saves. God is pretty emphatic in saving, “Ask and you shall receive.” Jesus said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

      If that is not an invitation to pray for the salvation of our children, I don’t know what is. I don’t think our prayers influence God’s choice, but I suspect that everyone whom God saves has had someone praying for them. I believe that any believer who asks God to save their children will see that prayer answered. If believers were to pray for the children of their neighbors (to love your neighbor as yourself), we would see the children of avowed atheists saved.

      God does promise “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I see an integral part of that training to be the life we, as parents, live before our children including our prayers. It is not that the manner in which we raise our children increases the odds of God saving them but it is in this manner that we avail ourselves of God’s grace to us in promising to give us the desires of our heart those desires being expressed in our prayers and manner of life.

      • sbcissues says:

        I don’t think our prayers influence God’s choice,

        What an interesting thought. Why do you think God EXPECTS US TO PRAY if our prayers do not influence God’s choice?

  19. John White says:

    rhutchin,

    I support your belief in prayer, but I’m still a bit confused because the ones being prayed for were chosen or not chosen before the foundation of the world. Is it the case that God knew you would pray for your friend or child and adjusted His choice based on the prayers not yet prayed? No, but wait. ” I don’t think our prayers influence God’s choice,” Now I’m a father of 3 and I’m speaking honestly. If our prayers don’t influence God’s choice how can you go on to say, ” I believe that any believer who asks God to save their children will see that prayer answered.” WOW, there are about 50 million Moms who would take you to task on that statement. These Godly mothers have prayed for their sons for a lifetime and yet they see no indication whatsoever of any type of conversion. I thought that if their son were saved he would persevere? I’m so confused. Are you saying that if those 50 million Moms had been devout Calvinists then their prayers would have been answered? Your use of the desires of our heart in place of changing God’s choice is still God changing His choice. Besides I thought His choice made ages ago was not based on anything good about the person chosen; but now I find that you teach that God’s choice is completely dependent on the prayerfulness and Godliness of those around the candidate. Boy I want to move close to a Reformed church where all the neighbors are in the elect.

    If I didn’t know you better I would swear that you are all about God’s random choice until it hits home to your children and then your theology takes an abrupt turn. Don’t you teach that even a lost man falling into hell brings glory to God because God made him for that reason? Does your view change when it is your son falling into hell? I encourage you to rethink this issue. Don’t be made. I think you’ll agree that your thoughts created a few inconsistencies.

    • rhutchin says:

      “I believe that any believer who asks God to save their children will see that prayer answered.” WOW, there are about 50 million Moms who would take you to task on that statement. These Godly mothers have prayed for their sons for a lifetime and yet they see no indication whatsoever of any type of conversion.”

      I have found only basic two reasons stated in the Scriptures for unanswered prayer. They are in James 4.

      1. You have not, because you ask not.
      2. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.

      I don’t know what the issue is with the 50 million moms, but either James is telling us the truth or God gives other reasons elsewhere in the Scriptures. There is the example of Paul asking three times and not receiving – but does that apply to these moms.

      What else does God tell us in the Scriptures??

      • sbcissues says:

        So are you trying to say the reason Paul’s prayers were not answered is because he did not ask… that is obviously not the case then 2 because he asked amiss? I do not think so.

        God answers our prayers; He just does not answer them the way we expect Him to answer them and in fact, God told Paul He was not going to take the thorn away from him but He would give him the grace to live with it.

        No one has said that God answers EVERY PRAYER where salvation is concerned; that would be an inference that was not intended.

      • rhutchin says:

        “So are you trying to say the reason Paul’s prayers were not answered is because he did not ask… that is obviously not the case then 2 because he asked amiss? I do not think so.”

        I think Paul did ask amiss. God’s response to Paul was, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul’s prayer for deliverance from whatever was plaguing him was to be delivered from a position of weakness where he had to deal with issues to a position of strength where he could do the things he wanted without opposition.

        People might pray to be delivered from sickness (a weakness) thinking that they better serve God through strength – that is asking amiss. People might pray for wealth, like winning the lottery, thinking that being rich carries advantage – also a false premiss.

        Unless you can find something else in the Scriptures to explain why prayers are not answered, I think we are left with asking amiss as the reason. Anything else??

  20. Prayer is one of those enigmas that arguably doesn’t make sense from either a Calvinist or non-Calvinist standpoint. From a Calvinist standpoint it doesn’t make sense because the outcome as already been determined. From a non-Calvinist standpoint it doesn’t make sense because God does not determine the outcome. It is pointless to ask God to save someone because God is not the One who makes the determination.
    But we pray because God commanded us to do so! Who are we to question Him?

    • sbcissues says:

      TS

      Your point is well made with one exception; prayer I believe does more to have an effect on the one praying… so praying for a lost child or neighbor gives ME reason to be involved in the process.

      It is not that I am responsible for the outcome but I can certainly be involved in sharing Christ with the one I am praying for.

      Not sure that has anything to do with the calvinist position, since all that is pre-determined by God with no preference other than His sovereign choice.

    • rhutchin says:

      From the Calvinist perspective, prayer is effective because God has already determined to do those things for which God has commanded us to pray. We pray with certainty because God is telling us to ask for those things that He has already decided He will do.

      The non-Calvinist cannot deviate from this view unless they first deny God’s omniscience. If God must first look into the future to discover those things for which people will pray in order to answer those prayers or if God simply does not know the future, then God cannot be omniscient. If we hold to God’s omniscience, then God has a knowledge of the future that is not based on having to learn what people do as some propose.

      So, not only do we pray being confident that God has already done that which we pray, but we pray because it is God who prompts us to pray so that we might link our prayers with His actions and thereby be strengthened..

      • This is true. It can be argued that prayer is the means that God ordained to teach us to depend on Him and to bring glory to Himself when He answers the prayer.

      • sbcissues says:

        I hate to break this to you but what you said makes absolutely NO SENSE.

        Note the following statements:

      • sbcissues says:

        Listen to what you wrote.. We pray with certainty because God is telling us to ask for those things that He has already decided He will do.

        If God has already decided to do something why does He tell YOU to pray for that which He is going to do?

        Now to the next statement The non-Calvinist cannot deviate from this view unless they first deny God’s omniscience. If God must first look into the future to discover those things for which people will pray in order to answer those prayers or if God simply does not know the future, then God cannot be omniscient.

        Dont you hate it when people make stupid statements about what they think you believe or even worse… when they tell YOU what YOU believe and that is not the case at all?

        Here is the deal… your view of omniscience where God is concerned is like asking a 3 year old to explain God. They will tell what they know as sincerely as they can possibly be but we are smart enough (or I hope so) to know that their limited perspective is exactly that. I do not attempt to define God’s omniscience. But I do know this; God commands me to pray and somehow my prayer has a purpose… the effectual prayer of a righteous man has great power… to do what?

        I think verse 16 is related to verse 19… 19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

        I do not know how or why but the prayers of a man who is in right standing with God does prompt Him to action.

      • rhutchin says:

        “Pastor Bob writes, “Now to the next statement The non-Calvinist cannot deviate from this view unless they first deny God’s omniscience. If God must first look into the future to discover those things for which people will pray in order to answer those prayers or if God simply does not know the future, then God cannot be omniscient.

        Dont you hate it when people make stupid statements about what they think you believe or even worse… when they tell YOU what YOU believe and that is not the case at all? ”

        Then he says, “I do not attempt to define God’s omniscience.”

        That is fine. Nonetheless, you should be able to draw some conclusions about omniscience.

        Do you agree with the Open Theists that God does not know the future? If not, then you have begun to define omniscience – omniscience means that God actually knows the future.

        Do you agree with those who say God gains foreknowledge by looking into the future and observing/learning about the decisions that people make? If not, then you further define omniscience – omniscience means that God knows the future without having to gain knowledge of what the future holds.

        If, however, you agree with either of the above propositions, you are saying that God is not omniscient – God may know all things but He cannot be described as omniscient.

        It may be that you are afraid to deal with omniscience, but that does not make others stupid. Omniscience is one of the most difficult characteristics of God for the non-Calvinist to deal with. Omniscience undermines pretty much everything the non-Calvinist wants to believe. So, it is not surprising that the non-Calvinist is reduced to your position – “I do not attempt to define God’s omniscience.” What other option do you have if you want to believe the things that you do?

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        You: “If God has already decided to do something why does He tell YOU to pray for that which He is going to do?”

        “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

        “Our Father in heaven,
        hallowed be your name.
        Your kingdom come,
        your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
        Give us this day our daily bread,
        and forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
        And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.”

        (Matthew 6:7-13 ESV)

        You need look no further. Notice God knows what we need before we even ask. Yet, he tells us to ask. We Calvinists don’t make this stuff up.

        He also says he will meet all our needs. ““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26 ESV)

        He will provide our food, etc. Yet he just told us in the prayer to pray asking, “Give us this day our daily bread…”

        God has in many places and ways told us to ask for the things he has promised.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        The conversation was directed more to omniscience; not prayer as such. I was commenting on “why does He tell YOU to pray for that which He is going to do?”

        There is of course some sort of mystery if you will to the effectual purpose of prayer. I am not sure it is as rhutchin was suggesting that God places the prayer on our hearts as the means to accomplish what He has planned to accomplish.

        That was the thrust of the comment.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, I read his comments yesterday posted at 2:59pm re omniscience. He is exactly correct and the verses I posted serve to prove and strengthen his argument.

  21. sbcissues says:

    rhutchin

    You wrote… That is fine. Nonetheless, you should be able to draw some conclusions about omniscience.

    Perhaps BUT my point earlier was that the conclusions we draw concerning God’s omniscience may or may not be accurate. THAT WAS MY POINT. I do not believe I can use MY definition or understanding of omniscience and box God in with it.

    Do you agree with the Open Theists that God does not know the future? NO.
    Do you agree with those who say God gains foreknowledge by looking into the future and observing/learning about the decisions that people make? NO.

    Omniscience means that God knows the future without having to gain knowledge of what the future holds. Where do you find this in Scripture? Oh… that is a conclusion YOU have drawn right because you understand diving omniscience. Yea… I get it.

    You wrote… It may be that you are afraid to deal with omniscience, but that does not make others stupid.
    I NEVER said anything about anyone being stupid… for the record I am not afraid to deal with anything; I simply said I did not believe it was possible for us to define Divine omniscience; would that not be in effect saying that you know as much about God as He knows about you? I am sorry but I do not think so.

    I hate to say this… but the following statement is quiet condescending…
    Omniscience is one of the most difficult characteristics of God for the non-Calvinist to deal with. Omniscience undermines pretty much everything the non-Calvinist wants to believe. So, it is not surprising that the non-Calvinist is reduced to your position

    Omniscience is no more a difficult concept for the non-calvinist to deal with than it is for the calvinist. Omniscience DOES NOT undermine pretty much everything the non-calvinist WANTS to believe. For the record, the non-calvinist is not REDUCED to anything; grow up and use some manners in your discussions.

    We disagree on issues but that does not put either of us in any position of intellectual or spiritual superiority over the other. Remember, we may both be wrong BUT one thing is absolutely true; we cannot BOTH be right.

  22. rhutchin says:

    Pastor Bob writes, “Listen to what you wrote.. We pray with certainty because God is telling us to ask for those things that He has already decided He will do.

    If God has already decided to do something why does He tell YOU to pray for that which He is going to do?”

    By omniscience, we understand that God knows all things concerning the future and He knew these before He created the world. When God created the world, He set in motion everything that was to happen. For God, the Scriptures were completely written from the beginning. In the course of time, He would reveal to human authors those things that He knew and these human authors then wrote and we humans were given the Scriptures.

    David wrote in Psalm 139, “…in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” God knows every day of our lives and has known them from eternity. God knows the day of our birth and the day of our death and every second in between.

    Should we not pray with certainty as God already knows that we will ask and that which He will give us? God says to us, “Ask and you shall receive,” already knowing what we will ask and what He has given us – and He has known such things from eternity.

    Rather than say, “I do not attempt to define God’s omniscience,” you should instead delve into the depths of omniscience and say with David, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

    • sbcissues says:

      My suggestion is that you might try David’s attitude where Divine omniscience is concerned. I am confident there is much you need to learn about God’s omniscience and unfortunately will NEVER understand to any significant degree for God’s omniscience in indeed “high that I (nor you) will be able to attain it.”

      Your quote from David is the reason I said I do not attempt to define God’s omniscience.

      • rhutchin says:

        “Your quote from David is the reason I said I do not attempt to define God’s omniscience.”

        Then, I don’t see where you have much to say against Calvinism. Calvinism delves into the attributes of God, particularly His omniscience, and from there Calvinists develop a theology of election and predestination and from there move to a theology of salvation with the five points.

        You need only say that Calvinists deal with God’s omniscience, but that you do not see a need to investigate omniscience, so, naturally, you have developed different conclusions than the Calvinists.

        Your view that certain passages are problematic for Calvinists reduces to opinion since you don’t deal with omniscience which the Calvinists do and which heavily influences Calvinist theology. I think this may explain why you seem to have a somewhat offbeat understanding of Calvinism.

        Nonetheless, you agree with the Calvinists on what omniscience is not. Given that no one, so far as I know, has proposed a third alternative to explain omniscience apart from the Calvinist view, I can see where the logical course of action for you is to stay away from omniscience altogether.

  23. John White says:

    It would never have occurred to me that Calvinists don’t have assurance of their salvation. I would have thought that if anyone anywhere would have absolute rock-solid assurance of their salvation it would be a Calvinist.
    I will make these comments about anyone, Calvinist or some other denomination, who does not have assurance.
    (1) God does not intend you to live that way. Wake up saved on Mon. and go to bed lost, or thinking you might be lost, on Tues.
    (2) Those with that error in their theology are almost certainly soon drawn into legalism. “I need to do something to prove to myself that I’m saved. Who will tell me what to do? Oh, thank you, now I’ll get to work.” But your emphasis is on your works, not on what God has done or what the indwelling Christ is saying to your heart.
    (3) If there is no assurance in your system then you are in a system of salvation by works. Salvation by works is at the heart of every cult and false denomination in this world.
    (4) I have feet of clay, nor do I have “my act together”. I am in the fight but not always victorious, in spite of my prayers. Before I was born again you could not have found a man in this world more lost then me. You could have searched the prisons and the low places in society for drug pushers, murderers, serial killers, and child molesters, and would not have found anyone more lost than me. Having said that, I “stand” before you today and say that God saved me, and I will also say this: I am absolutely certain of my salvation. My assurance does not come from my memory of my “sinner’s prayer”, nor is it based on anything I have done or have not done since being born again. My assurance comes from two places: God’s written word and the promises there, and God’s spoken word to my heart on a daily basis. “… but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” My people, Baptists, have their faults for sure but one good thing they did years ago was to make a public vocal rock-solid stand on “Once saved, always saved.” I would encourage my baptist brothers to thank God for their ancestors in the faith who spoke the truth without compromise. I know that many who profess salvation are not actually saved, but that does change the truth of God’s word.
    (5) There is absolutely no path to victory in the Christian life apart from assurance. You will never BE pure until you recognize that you ARE pure.

    I feel genuinely sorry for those who claim the name of Christ and yet live without assurance. I’m a nobody but this nobody stands against any group that teaches that God does want His children to know beyond a doubt that they are saved, IF they actually have been saved.

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