Proverbs 22:6 Training Up Our Children In the Way of the Lord

Proverbs 22:6 instructs us as Christian parents to “train up our children in the way of the Lord so that when they are old they will not depart from that way.” We are to instruct our children while they are young to know the promises and provisions of the Lord so that their lives at a tender age might be built on a solid foundation. While this is no guarantee that the child will become a Christian or he or she will even walk with God at all, what is true is this; they will not forget what they were taught as children.

The Calvinist position that places one’s conversion solely on God basically negates the importance of this mandate found in Proverbs 22. Nothing the Christian parent does or does not do in the way of raising their children will have any effect on whether or not that child becomes a Christian. The testimony of the parent and the witness in the home has no bearing on who does or does not receive God’s effectual calling. One must also understand that the prayers of the Christian parent for the salvation of their children is of no value either if God has in eternity past determined who will and will not be saved. One may certainly say his prayers are necessary but that cannot be the case if God has indeed made the choice, with no respect to persons, as to who will be saved and who will not.

The thrust of Scripture is that salvation comes to those who believe and those who believe do so, at least in part, to the influences of the testimonies of those around us and the foundation established by the promises found in the Word of God. One of the issue that I believe Calvinism fails to factor into its theological system is the active work of the Holy Spirit in the world. The Holy Spirit is actively at work as these Christian influences are being experienced. For example, as Christian parents effectively train up their children in the way of the Lord, the Holy Spirit is actively working to build a foundation that will enable that child to look to Christ and realize their need to repent and place their faith in Him. Does this guarantee that the child will do so, No but it does mean that child will understand the need to do so and the benefits and consequences that are associated with their ultimate choice.

Calvinism focuses on one moment in time in the concept of effectual calling and regeneration as if that is the sole beginning of conversion. This concept completely erases any need for or any value of any prior experiences because prior to regeneration those influences fall on a dead heart, deaf ears and blinded eyes. In other words, they are totally of no effect until regeneration takes place and that happens when God effectually calls someone to life as many argue is symbolic of Jesus’ calling of Lazarus from the tomb. Prior to Jesus’ command for him to come forth, nothing that was said or done while he was in the tomb has any effect on him coming out of that tomb with the exception of Jesus’ direct command.

This simply is not an acceptable Scriptural position. Consider Jesus’ command to some of the disciples, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19; Mark 1:17.) Here one could certainly see man’s role and responsibility suggested as Jesus tells these disciples their responsibility is to go and get lost men and His responsibility is to save them. He does His part as we do ours. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 certainly underscores this mandate for before we baptize anyone, they must be saved. What is interesting in this command is the phrase “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” This no doubt qualifies the statement, “making disciples of all nations” which could be interpreted “all men from all walks of life.” Disciples are “learners” or “students” and “followers” not dynamic mature Christians. They must be taught the truths revealed in the Word of God as revealed to us!
While it is true, Calvinist or not, that no one but God knows who will and will not be saved, there is a mandate to “go and tell” and there is a mandate to lead and teach our family and our neighbors the truths found in the Word of God. Romans 10:14 says, “14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” Understand “preacher” is really “proclaimer of the gospel” which is the mandate of all those who have been born again. We do need to go. We do need to tell. We do need to train and instruct our children and our neighbors because the Holy Spirit is working in those testimonies and that teaching and the sewing of seed that may or may not come to pass until some later time. It may not come to pass at all. Our responsibility is not to save; that is God’s. Our responsibility clearly is to be fishers of men.

May we all be about the Father’s business, making sure we make the main thing the main thing, which is telling people about Jesus who has come to seek and to save those who are lost! How does He do that? God’s Word tells us that He saves those who repent and believe and all who call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved. I believe all are saveable if they will repent and believe by faith that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He say He will do.

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37 Responses to Proverbs 22:6 Training Up Our Children In the Way of the Lord

  1. Frankly I wouldn’t disagree with most of what you had to say — other than what you had to say about Calvinism itself. God obviously uses means, and many famous Calvinists were prominent preachers. They obviously thought that we are were doing did some good!
    I would also point out that if you were a good Calvinist you would be teaching your children the Westminster Shorter Catechism. There is a cute story told about a visit that D.L. Moody once made to Scotland. One day, addressing a group of young people, he asked them to tell him what prayer was. He thought he would get some pretty loopy answers, and then he would use that as the starting part of his discussion. Much to his amazement, however, hands shot up all over the room. Moody could hardly believe that there were that many experts on prayer in the room! Finally he called on one young man who rose to his feet and intoned, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgement of his mercies.” Moody then realized what had happened. he had inadvertently asked one of the questions in the Catechism, and nearly every young person in the room knew the answer! He told the boy, “Thank God you were born in Scotland, young man.”

    • sbcissues says:

      Come on… think about WHAT you just said:
      God obviously uses means, and many famous Calvinists were prominent preachers. They obviously thought that we are were doing did some good!

      What people THINK about something does not have anything to do with the implications of the system itself. Look at the logic and debate THAT NOT the way people look at it. The implications of the system DEMAND the conclusion I offered.

      I agree that every Christian OUGHT to teach their children; however, understand that in doing so it has absolutely NOTHING to do with God’s sole choice in effectual call. That is a basic truth in calvinism.

      It cannot be true in one set of circumstances and not true in another. That is what I am afraid takes place in some of these discussions. It is like… God is sovereign in all things EXCEPT when it does not make sense for Him to be so; then we are responsible. Cannot have it both ways.

      Pick one and at least stick with it and be consistent.

      • We need to be more concerned to be faithful with Scripture and to be logically consistent with some system of theology. Calvin himself was an indefatigable preacher. Certainly if anyone was in a position to know what Calvinism is, it was Calvin himself! (Actually, that last statement is not entirely accurate — the so-called “Five Points” weren’t developed until after his death, and it’s not entirely clear what he would have thought about Limited Atonement, for example.)
        But there is nothing logically inconsistent with God using human means to achieve His sovereign purposes, and he makes it very clear that we are to be diligent in proclaiming the gospel, as all the texts you cited in your blog post clearly indicate.

      • sbcissues says:

        TS

        I agree with the following statement:
        But there is nothing logically inconsistent with God using human means to achieve His sovereign purposes, and he makes it very clear that we are to be diligent in proclaiming the gospel, as all the texts you cited in your blog post clearly indicate.

        My point is that we cannot be the means God uses in regeneration if AS CALVINISM CONTENDS those means have no power until God effectually calls someone to new life.

        I cannot believe this is that difficult a concept for you to grasp… although you are not alone… no one seems to get the point.

  2. [That first sentence should read “than to be logically consistent ; ; ;” Sorry about that!]

  3. Actually, I think you have put your finger and the whole issue facing modern Evangelicalism today. Most modern American Evangelicals think (or assume) that it is the means themselves that are effective in bringing a person to Christ — hence the emphasis on “more effective” strategies and methods, on Jesus rock and powerpoint presentations. But Paul explicitly repudiated such thinking — “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (I Cor. 2:4,5).
    What is a revival? Rousing music and an eloquent preacher? Or an outpouring of the Holy Spirit? I think it is the latter — at least that’s what gets lasting results.

    • sbcissues says:

      TS

      Your comment here has merit. It is certainly true that the Holy Spirit is what effects any REAL change in a person’s heart. The music and the message are secondary to the work of the Spirit.

      My point was that according to the tenets of calvinism, the gospel in our presentation cannot be the means God uses in regeneration. Calvinists continually argue that it is. I maintain it cannot be because the gospel has NO POWER to convert the unregenerated person. God speaks to give the lost person a new heart and new life and THEN and only THEN does the individual repent. That is calvinism 101. It is part of the most basic foundation of the calvinist soteriological system.

      Jesus used no other means when He raised Lazarus from the grave; He cried out Lazarus come forth and Lazarus did just that. Nothing else mattered. That is what monergism posits. So I maintain the gospel in the calvinist salvific system is not the power of God unto conversion but rather the power of God unto sanctification because the gospel does not bear fruit until AFTER regeneration.

      • rhutchin says:

        “My point was that according to the tenets of Calvinism, the gospel in our presentation cannot be the means God uses in regeneration. Calvinists continually argue that it is.”

        Not exactly. Even you say, “It is certainly true that the Holy Spirit is what effects any REAL change in a person’s heart.” So which comes first?

        The Calvinist would say that the Holy Spirit prepares the ground into which the seed of the gospel is planted. The gospel cannot penetrate the depraved heart (because it is Totally Depraved) until, and after, the Holy Spirit accomplishes its work. After the Holy Spirit affects a real change in a person’s heart thereby freeing the person from the depravity that ruled over it, the person is free and with that new found freedom, the person easily responds to the preaching of the gospel.

        So, the Calvinist, to be consistent, would have the Holy Spirit accomplishing its work first followed by the effectual call through the preaching of the gospel. No Calvinist worth his salt should be arguing for the preaching of the gospel to be the agent of regeneration – God (through His Spirit) must be the agent of regeneration.

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin

        Here is the deal. If a person is dead spiritually and MUST be regenerated BEFORE a person can repent… IF that is true as calvinism contends, THEN my argument is that the gospel cannot be the means to regeneration.

        Your contention “that the Holy Spirit prepares the ground into which the seed of the gospel is planted” I agree with. However, the Holy Spirit does not prepare the ground in a dead heart that has not been regenerated. That statement would seem to me to be completely inconsistent with the tenets of calvinsm. I try to speak about calvinism not what calvinists say.

        Consider your final statement: So, the Calvinist, to be consistent, would have the Holy Spirit accomplishing its work first followed by the effectual call through the preaching of the gospel. No Calvinist worth his salt should be arguing for the preaching of the gospel to be the agent of regeneration – God (through His Spirit) must be the agent of regeneration.

        Your last statement reflects the argument that I am making. However, the statement prior to it is equally inconsistent with the calvinist position for not only does the gospel not not effect regeneration neither does any work of the Holy Spirit because it is effectual calling that brings new life not ANY ground laying work of the Holy Spirit PRIOR to regeneration.

        Do you see my point?

      • rhutchin says:

        Pastor Bob writes, “If a person is dead spiritually and MUST be regenerated BEFORE a person can repent… IF that is true as calvinism contends, THEN my argument is that the gospel cannot be the means to regeneration.”

        Agreed. The preaching of the gospel is not the means of regeneration. The preaching of the gospel is identified with the effectual call.

        Pastor Bob writes, “However, the Holy Spirit does not prepare the ground in a dead heart that has not been regenerated. That statement would seem to me to be completely inconsistent with the tenets of calvinism.”

        I disagree. Nothing in Calvinism prevents the Holy Spirit being the source of regeneration. Calvinism says that God must regenerate the dead and whether we say God does it or the Holy Spirit, there is no difference as God is the Holy Spirit. The important distinction made by the Calvinists is that the work of God/Holy Spirit on the dead heart (or heart of stone) must occur first thereby setting the stage for an effectual call to be made through the preaching of the gospel.

        Pastor Bob writes, “However, the statement prior to it is equally inconsistent with the calvinist position for not only does the gospel not not effect regeneration neither does any work of the Holy Spirit because it is effectual calling that brings new life not ANY ground laying work of the Holy Spirit PRIOR to regeneration.”

        I am confused about your point here. Calvinism has the effectual call following after regeneration. The work of God/Holy Spirit (regeneration) must necessarily precede the preaching of the gospel in order for that preaching to be effectual.

        Pastor Bob writes, “Do you see my point?”

        I think there is some misunderstanding on your part about regeneration and the effectual call in Calvinism. Have my comments straightened this out? If not, then I do not understand the argument you make.

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin,

        I do agree with the statement, “I think there is some misunderstanding on your part about regeneration and the effectual call in Calvinism.”

        I am not so sure which one of us the “your” applies to. In fact, I am not so sure this is not a confusing issue for a lot of calvinists.

        I was going to ask you to clarify the difference in effectual call and regeneration and which one precedes the other or how the two differ and are related as you understand them. I see in your next comment you answer one of those questions. You wrote,

        “Under Calvinism, the effectual call is not the means of regeneration. Regeneration comes first and makes the effectual call possible.”

        Here are 3 quotes I want you to consider.

        From John MacArthur
        We confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace.” Further the statement says, “We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by His grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage from sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life and we deny that salvation is in any sense a human work, human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature,” http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/90-296

        From RC Sproul
        The call produces new life. Ephesians 2:1–5 says that we were dead before God called us and quickened us. A dead man cannot respond to anything. He cannot cooperate with any kind of call, external or internal. Like Lazarus in the grave, he cannot come back to life unless God raises him. God’s call, like that of Jesus, calls Lazarus from the grave. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/effectual-calling/

        Finally From Martin-Lloyd Jones
        In the last lecture, we saw that the Bible teaches that in the case of the saved there is an effectual call. That call comes in such a way that they accept it and we realised that this is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in each person; it is a supernatural work which makes the call effectual in believers, in the saved. But of course even that does not bring to an end our consideration of this question.

        We must now ask: What is it that the Holy Spirit does to enable those who become believers, who are saved in this way, to believe the truth? What exactly does He do in order to make the general call effectual? And the answer is, regeneration . Now you notice the order in which we are taking these doctrines. Earlier, we spent some time in considering the order of salvation, the order in which these things should be considered, and this seems to me to be the inevitable order: the general call; yes, but effectual in the saved. What makes it effectual? The Holy Spirit regenerates.

        It is interesting to notice the relationship between this effectual call and regeneration. There is a sense, of course, in which regeneration precedes the effectual call.
        ‘Well, why didn’t you put them in that order?’ someone may ask. It was for this reason: having started with the general call we notice that there is this division into the two groups and it is clear that it must be effectual in some and not in others. When you ask what it is that makes it effectual, the answer is, regeneration. But looked at from the eternal standpoint, they come in the other order, and what happens is that the general call is responded to by the regenerate. In other words, the call becomes effectual because they are regenerate.

        http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/effectualregeneration.html

        Seems to me these educated men have a different position on regeneration and effectual call… especially different from yours.

        Seems to me Jones’ statement is the most direct answer. However, even in Sproul and MacArthur’s case, it is clear that it is the effectual call that BRINGS NEW LIFE which is what regeneration is.

        So once again, if the effectual call (illustrated by Jesus’ call to Lazarus to come out of the tomb) is what brings about regeneration and Jones echoes this, then my argument that the gospel is NOT the means of either is once again valid.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, if I may. rhutchin is correct. It is regeneration that brings to life the spiritually dead person. The newly alive person is NOW able to spiritually hear the effectual call. The call is in fact effectual because of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

        Notice that MacArthur says the spiritually dead person is unable to “cooperate” with the Holy Spirit. He is absolutely correct. And a great statement by JM is this: “Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature,” You guys have the opposite view. In your view faith IS produced by our unregenerate human nature.

        Sproul says the same thing.

        MLJ, “That call comes in such a way that they accept it and we realised that this is the RESULT of the work of the Holy Spirit in each person.” ALL CAPS FOR MY EMPHASIS.

        MLJ agrees though he shows it from two angles.

        YOU: ” it is clear that it is the effectual call that BRINGS NEW LIFE which is what regeneration is.”

        NO and no. They all say that it is the Holy Spirit who brings new life which makes possible the call to be effectual.

        Keep trying brother.

      • rhutchin says:

        Martin Lloyd-Jones says in the cited paper, “All these are statements to prove the absolute necessity of this internal work of the Spirit before the call — the external, general call of the gospel — can possibly be effectual. ”

        The internal work of the Holy Spirit is regeneration. It is this regeneration that allows the common/general call of the gospel to become effectual for some.

        In dealing with Calvinism, you will be on solid ground if you take regeneration to prepare the ground for the preaching of the gospel.

        I think Sproul does like Jones – he establishes the common call as the preaching of the gospel to all men and the effectual call as the internal work of the Holy Spirit (including regeneration) that then results in the person responding to the common call. It can be confusing. I think my explanation is easier to understand and says the same thing – regeneration first – the effectual call second.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les and rhutchin…

        You guys MUST understand something. This whole business of effectual call and regeneration and which one does what is all a part of this theological system you call calvinism. Would you at least be willing to admit that this is true and neither of these are clearly articulated in the Scriptures and that there is no clear cut reference of determination of which one comes first or causes the other?

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        No I do not so agree. Let me explain. You want us to stipulate that ” neither of these are clearly articulated in the Scriptures and that there is no clear cut reference of determination of which one comes first or causes the other?”

        What I will stipulate is that while there are verses consistent with regeneration first and conversion second, some doctrines cannot be reduced to proof texts like say the deity of Christ. I will make several quotations from the London Baptist Confession 1689. I really don’t expect you to disagree with these quotes:

        Chapter 1 on the Holy Scriptures:
        “The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word…”

        Agree? I think you will.

        Same chapter:
        “All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain to a sufficient understanding of them.”

        You agree I presume.

        Same chapter:
        “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other places that speak more clearly.”

        Good so far I presume.

        Packer says on the analogy of scripture in an article on interpreting scripture,

        “The second basic principle of interpretation is that Scripture must interpret Scripture; the scope and significance of one passage is to be brought out by relating it to others.”

        Here is my point. When we are trying to understand something like the order of salvation–calling, regeneration, conversion (repentance & faith) and so on–whatever verses say here or there must be interpreted in light of other places where the scriptural evidence sheds light. Scripture interprets scripture. That is the position Calvinists, and actually all evangelicals, take. The clear (clearer) passages help us interpret the unclear (not as clear) passages.

        Here is a way to look at it. The scriptures will not say A in one place and not A in another. One place will not undo what another place states. A doctrine can’t be A in Romans and not A in Galatians.

        Now so far I think we agree. Here is where we disagree. Calvinists say that man is spiritually dead and unable in himself to believe. We base that on several passages which to us are clear. So if another place SEEMS to say that man in his natural state CAN believe in his natural state, well we know it cannot mean that.

        Now of course you disagree that man is totally spiritually dead. So you are interpreting some passages as such and when you see something that appears to bolster or agree with your premise (that man is not totally spiritually dead) then you feel affirmed.

        So we cannot agree with what you’ve stated. Whatever passages you may think show man believing in his natural state, we cry foul. We believe the evidence in so many places in scripture shows that man cannot believe unless and until he is changed from spiritually dead to spiritually alive.

        The confession, in our opinion, is correct when it says, “Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word…”

        Blessings brother.

      • sbcissues says:

        Bro….

        Your refusal to admit the obvious that “neither of these concepts are clearly articulated in the Scriptures” is CLEARLY articulated in your answer to my question.

        Note your answer was the philosophical justifications for the conclusions you espouse but not one passage of Scripture that dealt with either regeneration or effectual calling; but we both know that the second term is NOT in the Bible at all.. I know just like Trinity is not in the Bible…(thought I would save you the key strokes on that one.)

        I guess it is what it is.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “admit the obvious?” If it is so obvious, then why are men far more learned than I not agreeing with you? Are we all just stupid?

        These are not “philosophical justifications.” I gave you sound and accepted interpretative biblical reasoning–agreed to by not only the LBC 1689 and WCF and many others–but accepted ways of approaching theological frameworks. Now you are to just dismiss that out of hand of course. But it would be better for our discussions for you to actually deal with what I wrote. Which you didn’t.

      • sbcissues says:

        Well… slap me silly… you wrote… “These are not “philosophical justifications.” I gave you sound and accepted interpretative biblical reasoning”

        What pray tell is the difference in philosophical justifications and interpretative biblical reasoning!

        You have taken the cake on that one.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, you asked, “What pray tell is the difference in philosophical justifications and interpretative biblical reasoning!”

        Well, one is based on philosophy and one is based on the bible.

      • sbcissues says:

        You know better than this.

        A philosophical position can most certainly be based on the Bible. Interpretive Biblical reasoning is a philosophical approach to understanding and explaining the Bible.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, just to be clear. We base our views on the bible only as do you I presume.

    • John White says:

      TS,

      Thank you brother. I finally, after much conversation and debate, am seeing a little light in the tunnel. I have always been most opposed to the “L” in TULIP. And now at last I find it wasn’t even laid out by Calvin. You wrote,

      “Certainly if anyone was in a position to know what Calvinism is, it was Calvin
      himself! (Actually, that last statement is not entirely accurate — the so-called “Five
      Points” weren’t developed until after his death, and it’s not entirely clear what he
      would have thought about Limited Atonement, for example.)”

      Your openness speaks well of your walk and gives me a tiny glimmer of hope for a someday coming together. I think it would be a very good thing if Calvinists could do a bit of re-thinking on the letter “L”. Consider Jn. 3:18, “…. but he that believes not is condemned already, BECAUSE he hath not believed”. It does not say that he is condemned because he has sinned. The reason for condemnation is primarily based on the rejection of God’s Son. This rejection leaves the lost man in his sins, like a death row inmate who remains in prison because he has refused to accept the pardon from the governor. Ever since Calvary the roadblock of sin need not be the impenetrable wall it was before. The sin debt has been paid in full by the Lamb of God who ‘takes away the sin of the world”. In my view many, even many of my people, have missed this. So here I go, about to offend everyone.

      No one goes to hell to pay for their sins; that debt has been paid. They go to hell because they have refused to believe.

      In Rev. 20 there were books, plural, and a book, singular. The great unwashed masses were judged out of the books, yes, but the final pronouncement was made after a look at the Book of Life. The last things those poor souls, (there but for the grace of God go I), will hear is silence, as the Book of Life is searched fails to speak their name.

      By the way, Christ’s payment of all men’s sin debt does not mean that all men ARE forgiven. It means that all men CAN BE forgiven; if they will receive by faith the Savior, in whom is found forgiveness and justification and acceptance and so much more. God does not give forgiveness to anyone; rather He gives His Son to whosoever will, and we find forgiveness IN HIM. THE ISSUE IS NOT SIN BUT JESUS. The question is not, have you obtained forgiveness, but have you received Jesus.

      You also wrote, “Actually, I think you have put your finger and the whole issue facing modern Evangelicalism today. Most modern American Evangelicals think (or assume) that it is the means themselves that are effective in bringing a person to Christ — hence the emphasis on “more effective” strategies and methods, on Jesus rock and powerpoint presentations.”

      I wholeheartedly agree and have written about this wrong approach for years. We must choose the biblical over the effective. It’s not, “What works?”, but “What’s right?” The end does not justify the means, and the means in modern times has been away from a dependence solely on the Holy Spirit and toward a dependence on man, man’s wisdom, man’s cleverness, and man’s group efforts . By the way one of the worst examples of this was Evangelism Explosion.

      I know this is probably not going to happen in my lifetime, but along the line of love hopes all things; I wish TULIP would someday become TUIP.

      Bless you brother.

      • I think I would have to dissent from your view of the atonement. John 3:36 goes on to say that “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Paul goes to great lengths in Rom. 1:18-3:20 to demonstrate that sinners are under God’s wrath and condemnation because they commit sins — they knowingly and willfully break God’s law. This is why even people who have never had the opportunity to hear the gospel go to hell — they have sinned against their own consciences.
        The whole question about the extent of the atonement can be very abstruse, to say the least. There is one sense in which it is very proper to say that “Christ died for the sins of the whole world.” His death on the cross made the forgiveness of sins available to the whole world. But the words “atone,” “redeem,” and “propitiate” suggest more than that — that the guilt of sin has actually been taken away and the sinner has been reconciled to God. This obviously is not true of the entire world. And so I would never say that Christ “paid for the sins of the whole world.” If a sin has been paid for the debt has been paid — there is nothing more that the debtor owes. The sinner has been forgiven. And that is obviously not true in the case of a sinner who is still in his sin and unbelief.
        The problem with the Arminian view of the atonement is that is weakens the idea of a vicarious, substitutionary atonement, and the idea of the atonement as a penal satisfaction.
        I hope I didn’t disappoint you!

  4. DP says:

    Dr H, Much of what you have said I would have agreed with as a Calvinist. Both sides believe in the means of grace. Neither believes that we save anybody by praying for them or even giving them the gospel.

    Nevertheless, I do think you have touched on a weak spot in the Calvinistic system. Because of their definition of “dead in sin” Calvinists can’t give a plausible explanation for how the training/ catechizing of a child is of any benefit in drawing them to saving faith. If children are born spiritually incoherent and unable to receive the things of God, as the Reformed view insists, how can children benefit from early training in the truth? How could our training of children have any bearing on who is unconditionally elect? In the Calvinistic system all the biblical training in the world would not help someone who is (allegedly) born reprobate.

    Calvinists typically talk as if saving faith is some kind of irresistible supernatural miracle yet their actions suggest they really think that reasoning with the lost plays a vital role in their view of effectual call and/or regeneration. We know that Paul often “reasoned” with those to whom he brought the Gospel.

    The Moody story, and the Proverb, both serve to prove that children are born with the capacity for spiritual things. It would have remained to be seen if those kids died in faith. This is why the church should make more of those who finish the race of faith and less of those who start the race. Too many churches (especially my fellow Baptists) act as if responding to an altar call is all one needs to do to be sure of their salvation.

    • rhutchin says:

      “Because of their definition of “dead in sin” Calvinists can’t give a plausible explanation for how the training/ catechizing of a child is of any benefit in drawing them to saving faith.”

      Calvinists firmly believe that God uses believers as His agents to bring about the salvation of His elect. Initially God may start the process as with Saul on the road to Damascus. After that God works in Paul through preaching and teaching to call His elect out of the world – For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

      In the same way, God uses believing parents as His agents to bring their children to salvation. Parents are to pray for their children, teach them about God, their sin, and their need for salvation and live a holy life in front of their children. God’s promise regarding our children is certain and sure so He commands parents to “train up your children in the way of the Lord…”

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin

        Well here we go again… listen to what you wrote… Calvinists firmly believe that God uses believers as His agents to bring about the salvation of His elect.

        Lets go BACK to the statement you made earlier.. No Calvinist worth his salt should be arguing for the preaching of the gospel to be the agent of regeneration – God (through His Spirit) must be the agent of regeneration.

        I believe you would have to add to that statement using believers as agents to effect regeneration.

        Now to the next statement: In the same way, God uses believing parents as His agents to bring their children to salvation.

        Here is the reality of it all; effectual call is either the sole means of regeneration or it is not. It simply is not allowable to say it is in one argument and THEN act as if it is not in another. Consistency is necessary. If the Scripture advocates one and a particular theology seems to advocate the other THEN it would seem to me the part that the Scripture supports trumps the theological postulate…

        If God effectually calls some to new life “irrespective of who those individuals are” THEN there is no purpose in “Parents are to pray for their children, teach them about God, their sin, and their need for salvation and live a holy life in front of their children.”

        The two concepts simply do not go together. They don’t. This is the basis of my point and it is a valid point.

      • rhutchin says:

        Pastor Bob writes, ‘I believe you would have to add to that statement using believers as agents to effect regeneration.”

        Under Calvinism, God is the agent of regeneration and God uses preachers/teachers as agents of the effectual call.

        Pastor Bob writes, ‘Here is the reality of it all; effectual call is either the sole means of regeneration or it is not.”

        Under Calvinism, the effectual call is not the means of regeneration. Regeneration comes first and makes the effectual call possible.

        Pastor Bob writes, “If God effectually calls some to new life ‘rrespective of who those individuals are’ THEN there is no purpose in ‘Parents are to pray for their children, teach them about God, their sin, and their need for salvation and live a holy life in front of their children.’”

        It is God who regenerates a person (even a child). After that, God uses parents as His agents for effectually calling the regenerated child to salvation.

        I seem to have had to repeat myself many times in two comments. Has it been clarified that Calvinism has regeneration occurring first and effectual calling after with preaching/teaching of the gospel being identified with the effectual call and not regeneration?

  5. “Under Calvinism, the effectual call is not the means of regeneration. Regeneration comes first and makes the effectual call possible.” ?! i think I would have to quibble with rhutchin’s terminology here. “Effectually Calling” is the Holy Spirit’s work — He changes the sinner’s heart and mind and brings him to Christ. Regeneration is a trickier word to define. It could be defines as the whole change wrought by the Holy Spirit to renew a person inwardly. Effectual Calling thus is a part of Regeneration, and both are the Holy Spirit’s work.

    • sbcissues says:

      TS

      My understanding of Martin-Lloyd Jones’ statement is all men receive a general call and it is regeneration that makes that general call effectual. So in a sense, there is no ‘effectual call at all” but rather a response made possible by regeneration.

      Does that make sense?

      • I think you have correctly understood MLJ’s position.
        (Just a little footnote here: the correct spelling of his name was Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones — he was Welsh by birth).
        It is a little hard to pin down the biblical definition of “new birth,” and in Reformed Theology there was some confusion about how to define he word “regeneration.” However Charles Hodge did make this comment: “By a consent almost universal the word regeneration is now used to designate, not the whole work of sanctification, nor the first stages of that work comprehended in conversion, much less justification or any mere external change of state, but the instantaneous change from spiritual death to spiritual life.” (Systematic Theology, Vol. III, p. 5). It appears from this quote that Hodge is virtually equating “regeneration” with “effectual calling,” and if we accept his definition, then obviously a Calvinist would have to argue that regeneration precedes faith and repentance. The sinner cannot respond to the gospel until his will is renewed. But we have to keep in mind that that is not necessarily what the Bible means by the new birth.

      • sbcissues says:

        Thank you.

        But we have to keep in mind that that is not necessarily what the Bible means by the new birth.

      • rhutchin says:

        “So in a sense, there is no ‘effectual call at all” but rather a response made possible by regeneration.”

        Or a call made effectual by regeneration. The common call is to every person through the preaching of the gospel but it does not, and cannot, lead to belief from depraved people – they regard the gospel preaching as foolishness. Then God regenerates some of those depraved people removing depravity. The common call only then becomes effectual and those regenerated come to believe.

      • sbcissues says:

        rhutchin

        What I was saying is as I am trying to understand regeneration and effectual calling as calvinism presents it is… it is NOT that God through the presentation of the gospel gives a general call to everyone that hears it and then a separate effectual call to the elect; if regeneration is as calvinism posits, one is new born and the general call THEN becomes effectual… not because of an effectual call but because of regeneration.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob, are you adopting MLJ’s view as you just stated it?

    • rhutchin says:

      Pastor Bob writes, “if regeneration is as calvinism posits, one is new born and the general call THEN becomes effectual… not because of an effectual call but because of regeneration.”

      I agree.

      Calvinists also recognize a changed behavior in those whom God has regenerated. A person who has been regenerated now sees the gospel in a different light and that person will respond by believing and repenting. If an alter call is given, that person will willfully respond by walking down the aisle. In a baptist church, he will be baptized.

      Regeneration is an act of God, by His grace, wherein a totally depraved person is changed. That person then reacts to the preaching of the gospel in a way that he could not have done before.

  6. I might add here that one of the things that helped convince me to be a Calvinist was hearing a tape recorded message years ago by Dr. Lloyd-Jones on “Calvinism and Evangelism.” It is very moving and well worth listening to. And his sermon on “But God . . .” (Based on Eph. 2:4) is a classic!

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