The Decision Jesus Calls Men to Make

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. (Matthew 7:13–14)

Here is the appeal to which Jesus has been moving through the whole sermon. He gives the call to decide now about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation. The way to life is on God’s terms alone; the way to damnation is on any terms a person wants, because every way but God’s leads to the same fate.

Jesus has been giving God’s standards throughout the sermon, standards that are holy and perfect and that are diametrically opposed to the self-righteous, self-sufficient, and hypocritical standards of man-typified by those of the scribes and Pharisees. He has shown what His kingdom is like and what its people are like-and are not like. Now He presents the choice of entering the kingdom or not. Here the Lord focuses on the inevitable decision that every person must make, the crossroads where he must decide on the gate he will enter and the way he will go.

Our lives are filled with decisions-what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to do, what to say, what to buy, whom to marry, what career to follow, and on and on. Many decisions are trivial and insignificant, and some are essential and life-changing. The most critical of all is our decision about Jesus Christ and His kingdom. That is the ultimate choice that determines our eternal destiny. It is that decision that Jesus here calls men to make.

In perfect harmony with His absolute sovereignty, God has always allowed men to choose Him or not, and He has always pleaded with them to decide for Him or face the consequences of a choice against Him. Since mankind turned their backs on Him in the Fall, God has bent every effort and spared no cost in wooing His creatures back to Himself. He has provided and shown the way, leaving nothing to man but the choice. God made His choice by providing the way of redemption. The choice is now man’s.

While Israel was in the wilderness the Lord instructed Moses to tell the people, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him” (Deut. 30:19–20).

After Israel came into the Promised Land, Joshua confronted the people again with a choice: of continuing to serve the Egyptian and Canaanite gods they had adopted or of turning to the Lord who had delivered them from Egypt and given them the land promised to Abraham. “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve,” Joshua pleaded (Josh. 24:13–15).

On Mount Carmel the prophet Elijah asked the people of Israel, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). The Lord commanded Jeremiah to set the choice again before His people: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death’ ” (Jer. 21:8).

Even the law given through Moses, though divine, was not a means of salvation but rather a means of showing man’s need for salvation. “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight,” Paul explains; “for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). The law came to show us our sinfulness and guilt before God, and to show us that we are incapable in ourselves of keeping God’s perfect law.

From here through the rest of the sermon (vv. 13–27) Jesus repeatedly points out two things: the necessity of choosing whether to follow God or not, and the fact that the choices are two and only two. There are two gates, the narrow and the wide; two ways, the narrow and the broad; two destinations, life and destruction; two groups, the few and the many; two kinds of trees, the good and the bad, which produce two kinds of fruit, the good and the bad; two kinds of people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, the sincere and the false; two kinds of builders, the wise and the foolish; two foundations, the rock and the sand; and two houses, the secure and the insecure. In all preaching there must be the demand for a verdict. Jesus makes the choice crystal clear.

EDIT: This is a direct quote from John MacArthur’s commentary that can be read by CLICKING HERE. Click on “Read Commentary.”

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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91 Responses to The Decision Jesus Calls Men to Make

  1. james jordan says:

    “Jesus has been giving God’s standards throughout the sermon, standards that are holy and perfect and that are diametrically opposed to the self-righteous, self-sufficient, and hypocritical standards of man-typified by those of the scribes and Pharisees.”

    You have read the passage — haven’t you? — where Jesus says “All that the scribes and Pharisees tell you do to do, do, for they sit in Moses’ seat — but don’t do as they do, do as they say.” Its the scribes and Pharisees themselves not their standard that Jesus describes as hypocritical. And why is that? Although some of their standard was rabbinic, much of it was from the very Law of God. If the gospel is all about removing the “hypocritical standards of man” (and God’s own moral Law is included as being among them) and replacing them with just Jesus, just the cross, just a sacrifice, then Christianity is morally bankrupt. Why shouldn’t all your wives go commit murder by having an abortion? Heyo, its the “hypocritical standards of man” that condemns it — all the gospel does is present Jesus crucified. This kind of thinking is so Satanic. So horrid. It makes me ashamed to be Protestant.

    • james jordan says:

      What I mean is there tends to be an antinomianism in Calvinism based on the following fallacy:

      “The Pharisees were hypocrites and they were the authorities on the Law — therefore the Law itself is hypocritical.”

      This is faulty reasoning. Followers of the Law may be hypocrites, and many are — but that doesn’t make the Law hypocritical. Christians may be hypocrites, and many are, but that doesn’t necessarily make Christianity hypocritical. But any stick is good enough to beat a dog, so Calvinists don’t care to be accurate in their attacks on the Law or on Jews — any argument will do; in fact 50 contradictory arguments that are diametrically opposed to each other are fine so long as one of them sticks. I prefer accuracy to quantity of bad arguments that are just strawman attacks on the Law.

  2. sbcissues says:

    James,

    I am finding your writing here difficult to comprehend. You are correct on the hypocritical aspect being related not to what the S&P TAUGHT but all the things they did afterwards and it is true that we follow the letter of the Law and not the actions and even philosophical twist and turns men form as they try to tie various texts together. Now… the reference you cite speaks more to the self-sufficiency and self-righteous aspects seen IN the lives of the S&P… that is what is problematic and the reference to the S&P is more of an example but certainly not exclusive. There are a lot of other folk who have that problem as well.

    And… for the record, the other comment you made is spot on and I have intentionally avoided that notification for a very good reason… but so far my plans are failing. I will address that issue soon.

  3. sbcissues says:

    Guys,

    There is a reason I did not attribute the piece to MacArthur.. I thought someone MIGHT take issue with the synergistic statements made in the piece. I had every intention on revealing the authorship so lets not heat up the fire to burn me at the stake just yet.

    Listen to the following statements:

    He (Jesus) gives the call to decide now about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation.

    He has shown what His kingdom is like and what its people are like-and are not like. Now He presents the choice of entering the kingdom or not. Here the Lord focuses on the inevitable decision that every person must make, the crossroads where he must decide on the gate he will enter and the way he will go.

    The most critical of all is our decision about Jesus Christ and His kingdom. That is the ultimate choice that determines our eternal destiny. It is that decision that Jesus here calls men to make.

    In perfect harmony with His absolute sovereignty, God has always allowed men to choose Him or not, and He has always pleaded with them to decide for Him or face the consequences of a choice against Him.

    God has bent every effort and spared no cost in wooing His creatures back to Himself. He has provided and shown the way, leaving nothing to man but the choice. God made His choice by providing the way of redemption. The choice is now man’s.

    Jesus repeatedly points out two things: the necessity of choosing whether to follow God or not, and the fact that the choices are two and only two.

    Here is the deal; I write these kinds of statements and am crucified for them and labeled Pelagian ladi dadi da. I do not see how someone of John MacArthur’s acclaim can even make such claims… for the record I believe every word written in this statement above but do not in any way see how a calvinist could affirm them, much less write them in a commentary.

    God he did; but not sure how he could have done so.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob,

      “I do not see how someone of John MacArthur’s acclaim can even make such claims… for the record I believe every word written in this statement above but do not in any way see how a calvinist could affirm them, much less write them in a commentary.”

      We Calvinists have been telling you that we affirm that man has a choice and a choice to make. We have repeatedly said that fallen man should be called by the preacher to make that choice…repent and believe. MAN must repent and man must believe. God does not do that for man.

      However, and it’s a big however, we know that until God open’s the blind man’s unregenerate eyes and ears, man WILL NOT choose Christ. Man will reject God every time he is confronted with the call by the preacher to repent and believe. Why? Because he is unwilling to choose Christ and is unwilling to repent and believe. In his unregenerate state man doesn’t want to love God. He hates God.

      Why did I reject the gospel call for years and years when people all around me were being saved? Was I just dumber (well, some might think so given some of my college grades)? No. It was because that outward call by the preacher was falling on deaf ears and a hard heart that needed to be quickened.

      So there is absolutely no inconsistency in what JM has written and what he believes as a Calvinist. I have listened to him preach in person probably a dozen times. The man is a Calvinist AND calls for people to repent and believe, to make a decision.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        You KNOW I still love you but I am sorry… when you say… “We Calvinists have been telling you that we affirm that man has a choice and a choice to make.” it is not more than doublespeak… where you are saying one thing for the hearer but meaning something entirely different from what you say. Now… it is fair to say that calvinsts do not know WHO the elect are so they will preach the gospel asking all to come understanding that those who do come are those that God has opened his or hear heart so that they CAN come.

        You “affirm that man has a choice and a choice to make.” I would word it this way; “man has a choice and that choice will be determined by God’s choice for you.”

        Here is a question for you. Since man CANNOT repent or believe prior to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which MUST take place for conversion or new birth to take place… why does one have to repent and do not answer because the Bible says He does. If the Holy Spirit is already in the once unregenerate’s heart… what comes next is sanctification.

        To me according to the calvinist system, God saves and the gospel sanctifies. I cannot see any other way. Take your own explanation of your testimony… regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are what gave you ears to hear and a heart to respond… the only problem with that picture is that once you were born again… there really is no need for repentance and if Jesus indeed paid the penalty for your sin on the cross you were never guilty of your sin in the first place…

        Now… I realize you are not going to like that line of reasoning but do you see WHY I would come to those conclusions given the tenets of irresistible grace, unconditional election and effectual calling?

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, back in a bit…

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        Back. You said I speak “doublespeak… where you are saying one thing for the hearer but meaning something entirely different from what you say.”

        Bob, you have made that charge before. But you cannot prove it. Brother, you are accusing me of duplicity. Deception. That’s serious. Truth is, you are attempting to pour YOUR interpretation of my theology into my practice. Sorry my brother, can’t do that. Why can you not just rejoice that I am telling sinners about the Savior and calling them to repentance and faith? What is so hard about rejoicing in that? Listen, even if my soteriology is wrong, the one true Christ is proclaimed and the way of salvation is proclaimed. Can my presentation hinder someone from salvation?

        “You “affirm that man has a choice and a choice to make.” I would word it this way; “man has a choice and that choice will be determined by God’s choice for you.””

        Well you’re certainly entitled to word it anyway you like. But that’s not what I believe. I affirm what the bible teaches…Jesus came and died for His people. He has told us to tell everyone everywhere that is they will repent and believe, He will save them.

        “Since man CANNOT repent or believe prior to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which MUST take place for conversion or new birth to take place… why does one have to repent and do not answer because the Bible says He does. If the Holy Spirit is already in the once unregenerate’s heart… what comes next is sanctification.”

        Well, I disagree with your premise. Regeneration is not the same as indwelling. The Holy Spirit is not already “in” the unregenerate. The HS acts upon the unregenerate, makes him alive so he is no longer blind and deaf spiritually and so can repent and believe by an act of his will.

        “Now… I realize you are not going to like that line of reasoning but do you see WHY I would come to those conclusions given the tenets of irresistible grace, unconditional election and effectual calling?”

        Yes, given your theology, I see why you come to your conclusions.

        Here is an idea. You and other non Cs often tell us that the logical conclusions to our theology and the implications are such and such. We deny that. But you insist.

        How about you stop doing that and I won’t START (since I’ve not done this) telling you that the logical implications and conclusions to your unlimited atonement theology is either universalism No one is saved. Deal?

        Blessings.

      • james jordan says:

        “I would word it this way; ‘man has a choice and that choice will be determined by God’s choice for you.’”

        If God determines it for you then you don’t have a choice. Just replace the word ‘determines’ with ‘chooses’.

        ‘Man has a choice and that choice will be chosen by God’s choice for you’

        In other words, you don’t believe man has a choice at all. You are just a liar who doesn’t want us to know that you don’t think that. Calvinists have to lie constantly so they aren’t thrown out on their monstrous hindends.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “Did Lazarus make the choice to walk out of that tomb? No. He DID WHAT JESUS TOLD HIM TO DO. That is the calvinist picture of conversion. God decides; God calls and you are born again… just like you were physically born.”

        Lazarus was in no position to make any choices without the supernatural action of God on him. He was dead.

        “You can AFFIRM all you WANT that you believe man has a choice to be saved; let me ask you a question… can the unregenerate CHOOSE TO BE SAVED?”

        No, not without the supernatural action of God. His spiritually blind eyes cannot heal themselves and he cannot heal his spiritually blind eye, can he?

        “Now… pray tell me how on earth you can AFFIRM that man has ANY choice in his new birth based on the tenets of calvinism?”

        He doesn’t. That’s the big issue Bob. The spiritually dead man cannot and does not want to love God. He is a rebel, a God hater. His spiritually dead heart must be made new. Now, once he is quickened, like non-Calvinist Wesley said in a great hymn:

        ” Long my imprisoned spirit lay
        Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
        Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray,
        I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
        My chains fell off, my heart was free;
        I rose, went forth and followed Thee.”

        He wakes up spiritually.

        Even non Cal Wesley got it right.

        “He has a choice in sanctification… but NOT conversion.”

        I know this is going to send you into a tizzy as some like to say, but man does have a choice in conversion–conversion being faith and repentance. That’s what I keep saying and you keep not hearing. Man DOES NOT have a choice in regeneration. That’s grace all. Once quickened, man chooses Christ with his newly freed (formerly enslaved) will.

      • ewlockhart says:

        Ad Hominem

      • sbcissues says:

        Les….

        I cannot prove your doublespeak? You said… “We Calvinists have been telling you that we affirm that man has a choice and a choice to make.”
        “As you sometimes say, bingo! It was impossible for me to fix my spiritual blindness or spiritual deafness by myself. God has to do that, right?”

        I understand monergism. God calls the unregenerate to life. Did Lazarus make the choice to walk out of that tomb? No. He DID WHAT JESUS TOLD HIM TO DO. That is the calvinist picture of conversion. God decides; God calls and you are born again… just like you were physically born.

        Did you make the choice to be born to your parents in the town you were born on the day you were born? No.

        You can AFFIRM all you WANT that you believe man has a choice to be saved; let me ask you a question… can the unregenerate CHOOSE TO BE SAVED?

        Can the REGENERATED person CHOOSE NOT TO BE SAVED?

        Now… pray tell me how on earth you can AFFIRM that man has ANY choice in his new birth based on the tenets of calvinism?

        He has a choice in sanctification… but NOT conversion.

      • lydiasellerofpurple says:

        “To me according to the calvinist system, God saves and the gospel sanctifies. I cannot see any other way. Take your own explanation of your testimony… regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are what gave you ears to hear and a heart to respond… the only problem with that picture is that once you were born again… there really is no need for repentance and if Jesus indeed paid the penalty for your sin on the cross you were never guilty of your sin in the first place…”

        Wow. Great point!!

  4. james jordan says:

    “However, and it’s a big however, we know that until God open’s the blind man’s unregenerate eyes and ears, man WILL NOT choose Christ.”

    So God makes the choice not man. Like when I choose what dog-food to give my dog. I put it in front of him, and he does eat it, but he didn’t really choose which dog food to eat. I went to the store, he didn’t.

  5. lydiasellerofpurple says:

    “No. It was because that outward call by the preacher was falling on deaf ears and a hard heart that needed to be quickened.”

    So why did God wait all those years instead of opening your eyes sooner if it is solely up to Him to do so? If your unregenerate state made that impossible then you could only open your eyes when HE DECIDED for them to be. So we are back to the same thing except you go around the mulberry bush to get there.

    • james jordan says:

      Because in Calvinism it is SIN that brings God the most glory, so he keeps you in unbelief and sin longer and longer to INCREASE his glory.

      • james jordan says:

        So you deny that Calvinism teaches God makes us sin to increase his glory? I’ll let you argue that point with James White and Piper who both teach it.

      • Les Prouty says:

        “So you deny that Calvinism teaches God makes us sin to increase his glory?”

        Totally deny that JJ. Prove right here that Piper and White say that “God **makes** us sin to increase his glory.”

        I await your proof.

      • ewlockhart says:

        I deny Calvinism teaches that, as well. I deny that White and Piper teach that to be true. Sounds like a bad twist on Romans 6. Sounds like a really bad understanding of God’s glory, as well.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Lydia,

      “So why did God wait all those years instead of opening your eyes sooner if it is solely up to Him to do so?”

      I don’t know. What did he wait until he did to open your eyes and ears? Why did he wait until Lydia in the NT was a grown woman to “open her heart?” He did “open her heart” after all, right?

      “If your unregenerate state made that impossible then you could only open your eyes when HE DECIDED for them to be.”

      As you sometimes say, bingo! It was impossible for me to fix my spiritual blindness or spiritual deafness by myself. God has to do that, right? Or do you believe we open our own eyes, ears and hearts on our own? Or maybe you believe we “cooperate” with God to open our eyes, ears and hearts. What, 50-50? 60-40?

      • lydiasellerofpurple says:

        “Why did he wait until Lydia in the NT was a grown woman to “open her heart?” He did “open her heart” after all, right?”

        Would that mean she had no other choice? She was “worshipping God” when Paul found them by the river. Had God forced her to not only believe in Him but worship Him before Paul showed up? She was seeking God. I see the same sort of situation with Cornelius as he was also “seeking God” and praying when God provided Him with the truth of Messiah. Both seemed to be converted Jews which I find interesting for some reason. :o)

      • Les Prouty says:

        Lydia,

        “Would that mean she had no other choice?” If you have been reading what I have written, you would know that I believe she absolutely had a choice.

        “She was “worshipping God” when Paul found them by the river. Had God forced her to not only believe in Him but worship Him before Paul showed up? She was seeking God.”

        Lydia, you do know, don’t you, that all Jews (and other religious people) are described as “worshipping God.” Saul/Paul can be described as a God worshipper prior to his conversion.

        And the fact that she was seeking God makes my point. She didn’t just conjure up that seeking, or do you believe that in her fallenness we can do that?

        BTW, I would love your take on what I asked, You missed answering “Or do you believe we open our own eyes, ears and hearts on our own? Or maybe you believe we “cooperate” with God to open our eyes, ears and hearts. What, 50-50? 60-40?”

      • sbcissues says:

        “Or do you believe we open our own eyes, ears and hearts on our own? Or maybe you believe we “cooperate” with God to open our eyes, ears and hearts. What, 50-50? 60-40?”

        The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself, who He is and what it is that He expects of us AND the revelation of what He did for us in Christ on the cross. Revelation DEMANDS a response on our part does it not? Yes or No.

        He has chosen to RECONCILE us unto Himself in the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Both Reconciliation AND conviction require a response. Yes or No?

        Lazarus did not need revelation to come up out of that grave; all he needed was effectual call when Jesus told him to come out. He did not need reconciliation;

        where faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross, we need revelation and we need the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts…

        that does not seem complicated to me at all Les.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself, who He is and what it is that He expects of us AND the revelation of what He did for us in Christ on the cross. Revelation DEMANDS a response on our part does it not? Yes or No.”

        Yes it does. Yes, God has revealed Himself (Psalm 19)

        “The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
        And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
        2 Day to day pours forth speech,
        And night to night reveals knowledge.”

        Romans 1:

        “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth [l]in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident [m]within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not [n]honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [o]crawling creatures.”

        So yes, God has revealed Himself so no one is without excuse.

        “Lazarus did not need revelation to come up out of that grave; all he needed was effectual call when Jesus told him to come out. He did not need reconciliation;”

        He needed something he did not have while in the grave–LIFE! Jesus made him alive first.

        You’re right that it’s not complicated.

      • sbcissues says:

        Revelation DEMANDS a response on our part does it not? Yes or No.” Here is YOUR answer…
        Yes it does. Yes, God has revealed Himself (Psalm 19)

        I did not ask if you believed in Revelation… I asked do you believe revelation demands a response on our part? THAT IS THE QUESTION.

        Reconciliation DEMANDS a response. These are what God has given us and based on our response to His initiative, our eternity is sealed.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “Revelation DEMANDS a response on our part does it not? Yes or No.”

        Here is YOUR answer…
        Yes it does. Yes, God has revealed Himself (Psalm 19)”

        Yes I did. The word “revealed” is the verb of “revelation.” So I agree that god’s revelation, as in Psalm 19 and Romans 1, require or demand a response from man.

        “I did not ask if you believed in Revelation… I asked do you believe revelation demands a response on our part? THAT IS THE QUESTION.”

        Bob, I answered your question. See what I just wrote.

        “Reconciliation DEMANDS a response. These are what God has given us and based on our response to His initiative, our eternity is sealed”

        I don’t know what you mean here. Help me out.

      • sbcissues says:

        OK… so you agree that God’s revelation DEMANDS a response on our part?

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, “so you agree that God’s revelation DEMANDS a response on our part?”

        Let me repeat myself.

        “Yes it does. Yes, God has revealed Himself (Psalm 19) and Romans 1.”
        and

        “So yes, God has revealed Himself so no one is without excuse.”

      • sbcissues says:

        You are deliberately sidestepping my question and you know it. Your answer is not much more than irritating…. “Yes it does. Yes, God has revealed Himself (Psalm 19) and Romans 1.” and “So yes, God has revealed Himself so no one is without excuse.”

        My question has NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYONE HAVING AN EXCUSE” but everything to do with my response to His revelation of Himself.

        My point is that our eternity is based on our response to His revelation and initiative in reconciliation.

        I know you are smart enough to read and comprehend what I am saying.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, I’m not side stepping. I have replied with scriptural answers. Forget the excuse part from Romans 1 for a moment. I agree with you that God has and is revealing Himself. I cited two passages to show that. His revelation of Himself does demand a response. We all are commanded to repent and believe. That is the demand required of His revelation. In saving some, He is reconciling us to Himself. As the scriptures say,

        “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and [a]He has [b]committed to us the word of reconciliation.

        20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

        So I am replying brother.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,
        Thanks that helps a lot. You wrote… We all are commanded to repent and believe. That is the demand required of His revelation. In saving some, He is reconciling us to Himself.

        However… it is not the demand required IN HIS revelation my contention is that the revelation itself demands a response, to accept or reject which does involve repenting and believing etc.

        Notice your next statement: In saving some, He is reconciling us to Himself.

        Here you have no response in reconciliation… God reconciles. I maintain reconciliation is itself a response WE make to His initiative of reconciliation.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob,

      You said, “Notice your next statement: In saving some, He is reconciling us to Himself.”

      I was just using the language exactly as scripture records it for us,

      “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ…”

      “Here you have no response in reconciliation… God reconciles. I maintain reconciliation is itself a response WE make to His initiative of reconciliation.”

      We love Him because He first loved us. I think we agree that God makes the first move.

      • sbcissues says:

        We do. Paul’s conversation is that his ministry is an extension of God’s reconciliatory work… so given the conditional aspect of reconciliation, which I believe is there… this work of God demands a response that leads to the finished work of reconciliation involving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts sealing us all for glory.

  6. Randy says:

    All of this stuff makes my head hurt and I am still trying to understand the stance of my Calvinist brothers and sisters in Christ. Les, please tell me if I have this right or correct me where I am wrong:

    1) Man is held responsible for choosing or rejecting God and his eternal fate is based on that choice (Heaven or Hell).
    2) In his unregenerate state, man will NEVER choose God.
    3) God must regenerate man so he can choose him.
    4) If God regenerates a man, he WILL choose God and NOT reject him. This person will be saved and spend eternity with God.
    5) If God does not regenerate a man, he will NEVER choose God and therefore die in his sin and be condemned for eternity in Hell.

    If all of that is correct, here is where my struggle is: without God choosing an individual, he will NEVER choose God. God must first choose the sinner before he has the ability to choose God. God has chosen to select only certain individuals, the “elect”, to regenerate so that they can choose him. Am I still with you on this? If not, please correct me where I am wrong.

    Finally, if that is all correct, how do we define this as free will and then condemn man for his choices? If it is impossible for man to choose God, why does God call all men to repentance but only empower some to choose him and then punish those who don’t (and are incapable to do so on their own) with eternal damnation? Thanks for your time on this.

    Randy

    • Les Prouty says:

      Hi Randy,

      I think you have summed it up well. You said, “God must first choose the sinner before he has the ability to choose God.” I would add to “ability” the concept of “desire.” Until a sinner is regenerated (born again by the sole work of God), a sinner neither has the ability nor has the desire to choose Christ. You conclude with,

      “Finally, if that is all correct, how do we define this as free will and then condemn man for his choices? If it is impossible for man to choose God, why does God call all men to repentance but only empower some to choose him and then punish those who don’t (and are incapable to do so on their own) with eternal damnation? Thanks for your time on this.”

      We don’t define it in Calvinism as free will. Man’s will is not free in the libertarian sense. Man’s will is enslaved to sin.

      “If it is impossible for man to choose God, why does God call all men to repentance but only empower some to choose him and then punish those who don’t (and are incapable to do so on their own) with eternal damnation?”

      This is called grace. All men are indeed called in a general sense. See the passages above from Psalm 22 and Romans 1 I quoted to Bob. So man has no excuse. Whether we sinful and wretched creatures like it or not, God commands us all to repent. We are w/o excuse to do so (Romans 1). We are all hell deserving rebels. Grace is epitomized in God choosing some to receive something they don’t deserve. Hence, grace.

      That’s the best biblically based explanation I can give.

      • Randy says:

        Les, with all due respect I cannot understand how somebody as articulate and obviously as intelligent as you are cannot comprehend the problem with this theology. Take this quote for example:

        “All men are indeed called in a general sense. ”

        However, per your statement, it is impossible for the unregenerate man to respond positively to this call. To use the example of a dead man, it’s like blaming a corpse for not answering a phone call. You say he has the choice, but obviously he is dead and on his own cannot answer the call, so how can he be to blame and be punished for not answering?

        From what you are telling me, God has it in his power right now to regenerate the heart of every living man and woman on the planet earth. Also, if he chooses to do that, he knows they cannot resist his abounding grace and will respond positively to this call and all receive eternal salvation. If this is true, why would a God who is described as “love” (1 John 4:8) not do this? Maybe you have a different definition of love than me, but I believe this is a direct assault on the glorious and holy character of the Lord God Almighty. We are putting the onus back on him, and saying if he doesn’t regenerate lost man, he cannot be saved. Frankly, that’s preposterous. It’s like Bob said elsewhere, you are believing in salvation by election and not grace.

        Les, I don’t mean to be disingenuous but this is not the God I worship. The God of Scripture is one constantly pleading with his people to repent and believe. Why? Please tell me why if he is the only one capable of empowering them to repent and believe?

        May I ask you this – what of infants that perish before they are able to comprehend language? Are some elect and some not? Are those pitiful souls born with terrible conditions such as Trisomy 18 and living only a handful of days bound for Hell if they are not God’s elect? Or does God elect all infants that perish? How do we know? What of someone born with an extreme mental disability and unable to comprehend the gospel or articulate a response in any way? Does it come down to election then as well?

        I guess what all of us here on this side of the fence are asking is this:

        Do you believe salvation is based on divine election? That God, by how he elects souls to salvation is thus excluding some from salvation because he chooses in his sovereignty not to elect them? Perhaps to put is more simply, God, by exclusion, is “electing” some to eternal damnation? That’s the ultimate answer I believe we are looking for and we keep getting lots of double speak that dances all around the issue.

        I love you as my brother in Christ, and I believe we both worship the Lord God Almighty, but one of us most definitely has an incorrect definition of how salvation works. That does not condemn us to hell, but it certainly will affect how we live our lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks again.

        Randy

      • Les Prouty says:

        Randy,

        Well thanks for the compliment. But I’m ot sure I’m all that articulate or intelligent. But rest assured, I do see the problem. To our minds, it can be difficult to understand and in some ways runs up against our natural sensibilities.

        “All men are indeed called in a general sense. ” Then you, “You say he has the choice, but obviously he is dead and on his own cannot answer the call, so how can he be to blame and be punished for not answering?”

        Well the apostle Paul anticipated your question in Romans 9. If I may quote a few excerpts from that chapter:

        “14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed [k]throughout the whole earth.” 18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”

        and “19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel [l]for honorable use and another [m]for common use?”

        You see what Paul is saying? God is perfectly just to have mercy on whomever (or no one) He wants. How can He still find fault? You and I are no one to question that, Paul writes. God is the potter. We are the clay.

        Now, you say, “From what you are telling me, God has it in his power right now to regenerate the heart of every living man and woman on the planet earth.”

        Before we go any further and before I respond to the other comments you wrote, please answer a question.

        Do you believe that “God has it in his power right now to regenerate the heart of every living man and woman on the planet earth?”

        If you will reply to that I think we may be better able to proceed and get into infants, etc.

        Thanks Randy.

      • Randy says:

        Sorry Les if this comment comes out of the order of replies…I was having a hard time figuring out how to reply to your reply 🙂 So to answer your question which was one of my original questions:

        “From what you are telling me, God has it in his power right now to regenerate the heart of every living man and woman on the planet earth.”

        You ask me do I believe that. Yes, I believe God possesses that power as he is sovereign over all creation. However, I believe that to exercise that power is contrary to his character. I do not believe that God imposes his will on any man.

        Funny thing is I knew exactly what Scripture you were going to share. I had a little bet running with myself and won it 🙂 I don’t want to get into a battle of quote mining and cherry picking Scripture. I think we could play a pretty good game of Bible tennis by doing that. I believe we need to look at all of this in light of the entire context of Scripture and the character of the holy Lord God Almighty. I do believe that Calvinists tend to extrapolate more out of Romans 9 than was the Holy Spirit or Paul’s intent there. Some men seem destined to a life of suffering, poverty and hardship. Some seem to have an easy life. I do believe this is the sense of what is being discussed here, and not that God is choosing the eternal destinies of men by divine fiat.

        Thanks for your courtesy again and for treading in a place where you are the minority and offering rational and well thought out responses.

        Randy

      • Les Prouty says:

        Randy,

        Yeah, following these threads can get tricky. Thanks for answering my question. You answered,

        “Yes, I believe God possesses that power as he is sovereign over all creation. However, I believe that to exercise that power is contrary to his character.”

        I agree with the first sentence and disagree with the second sentence. Maybe you can explain from scripture where God exercising His power to “regenerate the heart of every living man and woman on the planet earth.” I believe if it is within His character to regenerate even one heart (and of course he actually does do that, thankfully for you and me) then it is still within His character to regenerate every heart.

        So why does He not do that? Well, if you and I can figure out a satisfactory answer we’ll win a prize of some sort.

        Now, back to your other comments. After you asked me that question, you posed another: “If this is true, why would a God who is described as “love” (1 John 4:8) not do this?”

        Is it your assumption that since God is a God of love, that he should regenerate every person BECAUSE He is love? If that is your assumption, then you and all other non-Calvinists who agree with you have the same supposed problem we Calvinists have. Namely, you are left in a theological system where God CAN do that but doesn’t, right?

        “It’s like Bob said elsewhere, you are believing in salvation by election and not grace.”

        No, I believe in salvation by grace alone vis the instrument of faith alone. Faith is the instrument whereby those chosen from the foundation of the world are brought into the family of God.

        “The God of Scripture is one constantly pleading with his people to repent and believe.” I agree.

        Why? Please tell me why if he is the only one capable of empowering them to repent and believe?” That is the definition of grace. All deserve damnation. Grace is some, anyone, getting salvation. There is no one getting shortchanged in that proposition, is there? Is there one hell deserving sinner who can rightly say, “Hey wait a minute God! You didn’t save me. That’s not fair.”

        Even the person who will never hear the gospel can’t say, “Wait a minute. You never sent an evangelist to my jungle.” Can he?

        I’ll get to the infants in the next reply.

        “Do you believe salvation is based on divine election?” No, please see above.

        “That God, by how he elects souls to salvation is thus excluding some from salvation because he chooses in his sovereignty not to elect them?” I do believe this statement. Choosing some necessarily means not choosing others, else it’s not choosing at all. Humanly, if you are choosing your team for a pick up game, you choose some, not all right? By definition choosing leaves some out.

        “Perhaps to put is more simply, God, by exclusion, is “electing” some to eternal damnation?” Well, are you asking me if I believe in double predestination? To save my fingers from keyboard fatigue, I refer you to this link. I agree with how Sproul states it. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/double-predestination/

        “That’s the ultimate answer I believe we are looking for and we keep getting lots of double speak that dances all around the issue.”

        I hope you can not rightly accuse me of double speak. I have tried to answer clearly and not avoid your hard questions.

        Brother, you said, “I love you as my brother in Christ, and I believe we both worship the Lord God Almighty, but one of us most definitely has an incorrect definition of how salvation works. That does not condemn us to hell, but it certainly will affect how we live our lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

        I heartily send that back to you brother. I peaked over at your FB profile and I really believe if you and I were in closer proximity, we would likely hang out together sometime. Me with my Sam Adams (or single malt scotch) and you with some coffee or soda? I’m just assuming you are a teetotaler.

        Blessings brother and infant comments coming shortly.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Randy,

        You asked, “May I ask you this – what of infants that perish before they are able to comprehend language? Are some elect and some not? Are those pitiful souls born with terrible conditions such as Trisomy 18 and living only a handful of days bound for Hell if they are not God’s elect? Or does God elect all infants that perish? How do we know? What of someone born with an extreme mental disability and unable to comprehend the gospel or articulate a response in any way? Does it come down to election then as well?”

        Interesting you mention Trisomy 18. When I was a pastor full time, dear friends in the church had a baby, Katherine, diagnosed Trisomy 18 before birth. My wife and I and others in the church walked through that with them. Katherine lived about three months. God was very gracious to give them some wonderful time with their precious Katherine.

        What I believe about infants dying in infancy (as well as those who have severe mental deficiency) is held by me in faith based on God, His character and some scriptures alluding to the matter.

        The WCF simply says “III. Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases: so also are all other elect persons who are incapable of being outwardly called by the ministry of the Word.”

        The framers of the WCF really left it somewhat open. One can read that and affirm that all infants dying in infancy are “regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases.”

        Others can read it and affirm that only some infants dying in infancy are actually elect and are thus saved. Other infants, not being elect, are damned.

        There are solid men on both sides of the issue. Others just declare we don’t know.

        I believe that all infants dying in infancy are elect and therefore are “”regenerated, and saved by Christ, through the Spirit, who works when, and where, and how He pleases.”

        I do not believe that it’s like, God says, “oh, that child is dying, i must elect him or her.” No, their dying in infancy demonstrates their election from the foundation of the world. He doesn’t quickly have to add them to the number of elect.

        This is the position of Spurgeon and MacArthur for example. So my view is not out of left field.

        A helpful book, n old one, is Infant Salvation by Robert A Webb. His writings helped me think the issue through.

        Still, I declare much mystery here and hold my view cautiously.

        BTW, I firmly believe Katherine was regenerated by God and is in the presence of Jesus.

        Les

      • Randy says:

        You know I agree with you 100% that we could hang and probably have a lively conversation. You’ve been a real gentleman through all of this. I try to keep an open mind in that, if a person of Calvinist persuasion ever presented a compelling enough argument to me, I would jump on the other side of the fence. However, it’s not happened yet. Interestingly, some of my favorite authors are staunchly in the Calvinist camp – John MacArthur, Matt Chandler and Mark Dever just to name a handful. Obviously I don’t agree with them on all points. What I like about Calvinists is that they have a high regard for Scripture – we just don’t always interpret it the same way.

        I hope you have a great weekend and Les, and I look forward to more discussion. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a chance to meet face to face one day over a nice, cold (or steaming) glass / mug of something 🙂

        Randy

      • Les Prouty says:

        Randy,

        Maybe some day brother. Certainly in glory. Have a great weekend.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les…

        Permit me to answer you and Randy’s question. “From what you are telling me, God has it in his power right now to regenerate the heart of every living man and woman on the planet earth.”

        Here is Randy’s response… Yes, I believe God possesses that power as he is sovereign over all creation. However, I believe that to exercise that power is contrary to his character. I do not believe that God imposes his will on any man.

        Understand he sees the calvinist concept of regeneration as something taking place by God’s sole discretion as opposed to man’s choice by faith.

        Here is MY repsonse… God has the power to save ANY ONE ANY TIME with NO EXCEPTIONS. That is every bit part of HIS character.

        You then responded… So why does He not do that (regenerate EVERY PERSON)?
        Well, if you and I can figure out a satisfactory answer we’ll win a prize of some sort.

        Here is the satisfactory answer… He saves those who believe. Simple.

        Wow… your quote in Romans 9 is interesting as well. Can you tell me where Paul is making reference to unconditional election? I do not believe you can. I believe in fact he is taking about God choosing to save the gentiles as opposed to JUST JEWS.

        Here is ANOTHER problematic conclusion you proffer…. then you and all other non-Calvinists who agree with you have the same supposed problem we Calvinists have. Namely, you are left in a theological system where God CAN do that but doesn’t, right?

        Once again you are terribly mistake… then you and all other non-Calvinists who agree with you have the same supposed problem we Calvinists have. Namely, you are left in a theological system where God CAN do that but doesn’t, right?

        I do not have the same problem YOU DO… He certainly CAN save everyone and He does save everyone that believes. No problem at all.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, glad you jumped in. Couple things.

        1. “Here is the satisfactory answer… He saves those who believe. Simple.” I don’t disagree. He surely does.

        2. “Can you tell me where Paul is making reference to unconditional election? I do not believe you can. I believe in fact he is taking about God choosing to save the gentiles as opposed to JUST JEWS.”

        Throughout the chapter. It’s all over the place. I know you look at it corporately, though I disagree. But even if that is granted, you still have God discriminating. Poor Gentiles. Why is God allowed to exclude a race of people in your system from His choosing in preference of another race? You just make it a big group instead of individuals within the group.

        3. “I do not have the same problem YOU DO… He certainly CAN save everyone and He does save everyone that believes. No problem at all.”

        Well, We agree He can save everyone. But He doesn’t save everyone, does He? You put the qualifier in there “everyone that believes.” But not everyone believes. So you are still left with “a theological system where God CAN do that [save everyone] but doesn’t, right?

      • sbcissues says:

        Les…

        You wrote… We agree He can save everyone. But He doesn’t save everyone, does He? You put the qualifier in there “everyone that believes.” But not everyone believes. So you are still left with “a theological system where God CAN do that [save everyone] but doesn’t, right?

        First of all I did NOT put the qualifier in there God did. God has said over and over in His Word He will save those who believe in Him. So I am still left with a system where God CAN save everyone but doesn’t right?” RIGHT.

        Not every believes. He does what He says He will do; He saves EVERY person who believes.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “So I am still left with a system where God CAN save everyone but doesn’t right?” RIGHT.”

        So we agree. Both our systems have that in common, because that’s what we agree the scriptures teach. So may NCs stop declaring that in OUR system God chooses to save some and not save others, while implying that this is not true of the NC system. Both our systems have God choosing to save some and choosing NOT to save others (who we agree He could).

        “Not every believes. He does what He says He will do; He saves EVERY person who believes.” AGREED!!

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, as a follow up re Romans 9.

        You said, “Wow… your quote in Romans 9 is interesting as well. Can you tell me where Paul is making reference to unconditional election? I do not believe you can. I believe in fact he is taking about God choosing to save the gentiles as opposed to JUST JEWS.”

        On what textual basis do you make the assumptions that Paul was NOT talking about individuals? If Jacob and Esau represented nations as opposed to individuals, what does Rebekah represent? Trying to make this NOT about Jacob and Esau is very problematic. John Sampson writes about this:

        Some seek to avoid this conclusion [unconditional election] by saying that Jacob and Esau refer to nations rather than individuals. Certainly it is true that Jacob and Esau became mighty nations. However, the text itself refers to individual people (Jacob and Esau in the womb of their mother) and not nations, and even nations are made up of individuals. For God to set His love on a nation and reject another nation certainly has ramifications for the individuals within those nations – so the conclusion many are wanting to avoid (that God elects some but not all – and that He loves some in a special way that He does not love all) remains inescapable.

        Blessings brother.

      • sbcissues says:

        Interesting quote you site here….

        “For God to set His love on a nation and reject another nation certainly has ramifications for the individuals within those nations – so the conclusion many are wanting to avoid (that God elects some but not all – and that He loves some in a special way that He does not love all) remains inescapable.”

        If you are willing so say that God chose all of Jacob’s family as the elect and none of Esau’s then you might have a leg to stand on but the matter is, yes this passage deals with the nations and NOT individuals. It is true that individuals make up nations but not all the individuals in any particular nation are saved. This is not a text on unconditional elect, no matter how hard you try to make it one.

        Name a couple others… lets set Romans 9 aside for a minute.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “If you are willing so say that God chose all of Jacob’s family as the elect and none of Esau’s then you might have a leg to stand on but the matter is”

        Not what I said and not what I’m saying. Jacob and Esau were used here as an example of choosing one over another, and not based on anything either had done.

        “yes this passage deals with the nations and NOT individuals.”

        You have no basis to say that except your preconceived bias to your non Cal system.

        NOTE: How can he be talking about an individual (Rebekah) and in the same sentence switch to nations and then back to individuals?

        Tell me if this makes sense:

        “For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah [a real individual] shall have a NATION.” 10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah [a real individual] also, when she had conceived TWIN NATIONS [SAY WHAT???] by one man [a real individual], our father Isaac [a real individual]; 11 for though the NATIONS were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, 12 it was said to her [a real individual], “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written, “Jacob [THE NATION] I loved, but Esau [a real individual] I hated.”

        YEP. THA’S REAL CLEAR.

        “This is not a text on unconditional elect, no matter how hard you try to make it one.”

        Brother, it’s as clear as a bell.

        “Name a couple others… lets set Romans 9 aside for a minute.”

        Psa 65:4; Mat 24:24; John 6:37; John 15:16; Act 13:48; Rom 8:28-30; Rom 9:10-24; Rom 11:5-7; Eph 1:3-6; Eph 1:11-12; 1The 1:4; 1The 5:9; 2The 2:13-14

    • ewlockhart says:

      Randy, I don’t know if you’ve ever read “On the Bondage of the Will” by Luther, but if not, I would recommend it in dealing with Free Will. Just a thought I had while reading your last paragraph.

  7. sbcissues says:

    Les,

    OK… Lazarus was dead. He had to be MADE ALIVE to come out of the grave.

    The Lost are dead. They have to be MADE ALIVE to repent and believe.

    Is this an accurate portrayal of what calvinism posits?

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob,

      “OK… Lazarus was dead. He had to be MADE ALIVE to come out of the grave.” Agreed, since I said that.

      “The Lost are dead. They have to be MADE ALIVE to repent and believe.” Yes

      These are accurate. “They have to be MADE ALIVE” is monergism.

      • sbcissues says:

        OK. Help me here. If the lost man is ALIVE… #1 how is that possible apart from the indwelling of the Spirit that gives life?

        #2 Why is repentance necessary IF man is ALIVE? It certainly is not necessary to receive “new life” because one already has it before he repents.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        ” If the lost man is ALIVE… #1 how is that possible apart from the indwelling of the Spirit that gives life?”

        Bob, when we discuss the ordo salutis, as we are, we are not talking about lengths of time. We are talking theologically about logical order or progression. Yes the Spirit indwells immediately as well since we are talking about an instantaneous event…quickening, conversion, and so on.

        “Why is repentance necessary IF man is ALIVE? It certainly is not necessary to receive “new life” because one already has it before he repents.”

        No, repentance is part of the entire salvation event. My eyes are opened (my heart is changed) in the twinkling of an eye so to speak. With new sight I see Jesus in all his beauty and glory and I am repentant and I believe in Him to save me. And so on in the ordo salutis.

  8. Lydia says:

    The only way for Calvinism to work is that man’s volition has to be taken out of the picture completely. For example, Lydia was not seeking God on her own accord. Neither was Cornelius. We would be fools to believe that because they WERE seeking God and God arranged for them to hear the truth about Messiah. God responded to their seeking Him.

    Calvinism looks fine on paper and sounds good from a pulpit but does not work well in basic application. It has to separate man from himself in order to be believed. A dangerous proposition that leads to tyranny in so many cases. That is the reason for the endless debates that employ circular reasoning and defy basic logic and reason. Something I believe is a gift from God. History has shown us what Calvinism (and other deterministic religions) brings as it ebbs and flows surging then dying out or going liberal. Calvinism defies the law of love and replaces it with determinism, dualism and elitism. Just 300 years ago, we could be banished, tortured or burned for daring to question the doctrine or going against the Calvinists who came to America. Thankfully some Deists proclaimed the value of ALL humans and that sort of thing is no longer permitted. Anyone ever wonder why we became so enlightened on that score? Was it rebellion against the “God ordained authorities” or truth?

    That is just one example of how this doctrine defies the law of love.

    • Les Prouty says:

      🙂 Not according to Calvinism. But y’all just keep on saying it though.

      Lydia, I have some friends who are of another religion. A false religion. I hesitate to say which one. Who knows where my comments end up and I don’t want to jeopardize my good friendship with them.

      But in conversations with them it is clear that if you asked them if they love God they would answer yes. In fact in my conversations they have done just that. They have actually talked about seeking God with all their hearts. They use the bible. They believe they are Christians.

      Are people like that seeking after the one true God? They “worship God,” like Lydia is said to worship God. Like the Pharisees worshiped God?

      Are these people Christians not in need of saving grace?

      Now, I certainly believe that God can and does begin a convicting work on people (like Lydia perhaps and Cornelius) and in some time frame brings the gospel message to them. But that “seeking after God” is not having been born again in the usual sense, else God would not have to have opened Lydia’s heart. See Paul ““Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.”

      Blessings to you Lydia or modern times.

      • Lydia says:

        Les, The “law of Love” is from God. In your scenario what you seem to be saying is that God requires something of us with the law of Love He does not do Himself. Once again, your scenario only works when volition is taken out of the picture. We start from different foundational premises so we must keep that in mind.

        Yes, even Muslims claim to “love god” in their determinist paradigm. I do not have any idea what that has to do with God’s own law of Love. There are even Calvinist who claim to love God and then protect child molesters teaching that all sins are the same so the victim is just as guilty as the molester. There are all sorts of wacky things out there.

        God made the Law of Love possible on the Cross/resurrection. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that God institutes a law of love for us but He does not love His enemies as He commands us to do. I realize Calvinists have all sorts of circular arguments for this but I have never found them plausible.

        I believe a lot of Calvinist interpretations for God’s hate are ignoring metaphorical language, poetry, etc. These are simply differences of opinion based on the hermeneutical filter we bring to scripture. I think mine is right and you think yours is right. Historically, yours has left a lot of broken bodies in it’s wake which I do not think can be ignored as what we believe drives our behavior. But when man has no volition then behavior does not matter. Man is not responsible anyway.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Lydia,

        “In your scenario what you seem to be saying is that God requires something of us with the law of Love He does not do Himself.”

        I’m slow on this Friday. Can you flesh that out? I’m not sure what I have said fits. But I just may be missing it. What do you mean?

        “I believe a lot of Calvinist interpretations for God’s hate are ignoring metaphorical language, poetry, etc.”

        And who brought up hate? Or, have you been reading that other blog?

  9. sbcissues says:

    Ok… My question: “Now… pray tell me how on earth you can AFFIRM that man has ANY choice in his new birth based on the tenets of calvinism?” Your answer: “He doesn’t. That’s the big issue Bob.”

    That is WHY I wrote what I did; I KNOW it is the BIG ISSUE.

    To your next comment: “man does have a choice in conversion–conversion being faith and repentance. That’s what I keep saying and you keep not hearing. Man DOES NOT have a choice in regeneration. That’s grace all. Once quickened, man chooses Christ with his newly freed (formerly enslaved) will.”

    No… you are incorrect. I keep hearing what YOU ARE SAYING, you keep ignoring what I am saying.

    My point is this: If one is BORN AGAIN… there is no need for conversion. In the calvinist system, man is born again by God’s effectual call; conversion IS ACCOMPLISHED. That is the whole of the calvinist argument of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross; it accomplished what He set out to accomplish. Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of THE ELECT and God’s call to new life is just that… the unregenerate is BORN AGAIN.

    Once someone is BORN AGAIN… EVERY other action is sanctification or growing in Christ. New birth has already taken place at God’s efficacious call… Conversion is not necessary ONCE new life has begun… and for that matter… repentance is not necessary anyway BECAUSE Jesus has already paid for the sins of the elect. Payment has been made. Gratitude is one thing but repentance is not necessary in this system.

    No need to repent for something that has already been paid for in full.

    • ewlockhart says:

      It’s already been paid for but there is still a need to repent – Scripture says so. God draws us so that we choose Him. There is still choice. Sure the choice is made by God’s grace being irresistible, but it is still a choice. Salvation is not just in that God died and rose again, but that we believe and confess this to be true, as well.

      • sbcissues says:

        Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment.

        For the record, I share a hearty AMEN to the following statement: It’s already been paid for but there is still a need to repent – Scripture says so. My point is that calvinism does not allow for this to be true. (notice I did not say calvinists do not make this assertion. I do not believe this statement is true give the posits of calvinism.) In the calvinist system, God does not draw He gives new life. There is a profound difference here. The unregenerate who has a dead heart and deaf ears cannot be drawn: God has to call that person to NEW LIFE. There is NO CHOICE here.

        My point is that the only choices a person makes in the calvinst system are santification because once someone is born again there is no need for repentance; I realize that is what the Bible teaches but the point ought to be pretty clear; If the Bible teaches something that calvinism does not allow then guess where the error is?

        No one can convince me differently where calvinism is concerned on the issue of regeneration. God regenerates and man begins the process of sanctification. I realize calvinists do not believe that but the point is THAT IS WHAT calvinism itself posits.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        It’s really concerning when you and others keep telling us what our theology is.

        “No one can convince me differently where UNIVERSAL ATONEMENT is concerned AND the issue of universalism. The obvious implication of a universal atonement is that ALL will be saved because Jesus paid for their sins on the cross. I realize NON- calvinists do not believe that but the point is THAT IS WHAT NON-calvinism itself posits.”

      • ewlockhart says:

        “…God does not draw, he gives new life” He actually does both. Crazy. I know. It’s called grace. It’s amazing – and yes, I am being sarcastic; yet, truthful.

      • ewlockhart says:

        BTW, to say God doesn’t draw in the “calvinist system” is to negate the “I” in TULIP

      • sbcissues says:

        My point is simple. Either God “Draws” or He regenerates. This is really an either or proposition and not a both and proposition. In the calvinist system, God regenerates; He brings life to the dead heart and deaf ears. There is NO DRAWING in this picture. Drawing or wooing is synergistic. Regeneration is monergistic.

        In the calvinist system drawing may describe the process of sanctification but It CANNOT describe new birth for apart from regeneration there is no drawing. A dead person cannot be wooed.

      • lydiasellerofpurple says:

        “My point is simple. Either God “Draws” or He regenerates. This is really an either or proposition and not a both and proposition. In the calvinist system, God regenerates; He brings life to the dead heart and deaf ears. There is NO DRAWING in this picture. Drawing or wooing is synergistic. Regeneration is monergistic. ”

        Good points! Thanks.

      • ewlockhart says:

        Bob, based on the fact you’ve created an either/or, and then asserted that in the Calvinist system God only regenerates, that leads one to believe in the non-Calvinist system God only draws but doesn’t regenerate. Is that really what you’re asserting?

        Sent from my iPhone

      • Les Prouty says:

        “My point is simple. Either God “Draws” or He regenerates. This is really an either or proposition and not a both and proposition.”

        Except Bob, the scriptures tell us He does both. When the scales fall off and the hearing is established, the drawing is effectual.

      • sbcissues says:

        OK I will bite. Where is that statement in the Bible?

        Look… you guys are the ones who believe in new birth prior to repentance and faith. Calvinism teaches regeneration is essential for giving NEW LIFE to the dead heart and deaf ears. Either that is true or it is not; if it is true as calvinism contends, then there IS NO DRAWING or WOOING. That is ALL I am saying.

      • ewlockhart says:

        John 6:44, John 3:6-7, Ephesians 2:1. Here is a good link from gotquestions.org on it: http://www.gotquestions.org/drawn-salvation.html

        Christianity teaches that regeneration is essential for giving new life to the dead, not just Calvinism. Scripture clearly states that we were dead in our sins, hence the notion of being born again (John 3) and being new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5)

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, I cannot say it better than Packer on regeneration or the new birth:

        Regeneration has been defined as “an inner re-creating of fallen human nature by the gracious sovereign action of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8).” The Bible conceives salvation as the redemptive renewal of man on the basis of a restored relationship with God in Christ, and presents it as involving “a radical and complete transformation wrought in the soul (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:23) by God the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5; Eph. 4:24), by virtue of which we become ‘new men’ (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), no longer conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9), but in knowledge and holiness of the truth created after the image of God (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; Rom. 12:2)”.^[5]^ Regeneration is the “birth” by which this work of new creation is begun, as sanctification is the “growth” whereby it continues (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). Regeneration in Christ changes the disposition from lawless, Godless self-seeking (Rom. 3:9-18; 8:7) which dominates man in Adam into one of trust and love, of repentance for past rebelliousness and unbelief, and loving compliance with God’s law henceforth. It enlightens the blinded mind to discern spiritual realities (1 Cor. 2:14-15; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:10), and liberates and energizes the enslaved will for free obedience to God (Rom. 6:14, 17-22; Phil. 2:13).

        On drawing, see John 6.44 “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        In all fairness I can read Packer here and probably be in complete agreement with him because he never addresses the when or how regeneration takes place.

        Now given your theological position, pay particular attention to the following statement that Packer makes: “Regeneration is the “birth” by which this work of new creation is begun, as sanctification is the “growth” whereby it continues (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). ”

        This is a point I have been making and you have been ignoring. Notice also that Packer attributes regeneration as “an inner re-creating of fallen human nature by the gracious sovereign action of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8).”

        Here is the deal at least as I see it, regeneration IS WHAT IT IS: in the calvinist system it is being “born again” called out from the dead. Lazarus was not wooed out of the tomb… Jesus did not draw him out: He spoke and Lazarus came out of the tomb. This is the calvinist picture of effectual call. There is NO drawing in this picture. Now… you are correct that the Bible is clear that we are “drawn” to Jesus; but that is inconsistent with the salvific soteriology presented by calvinism. That is MY point.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, glad you can agree with Packer.

        ““Regeneration is the “birth” by which this work of new creation is begun, as sanctification is the “growth” whereby it continues…” Yes and amen! Once a spiritual corpse is brought to life, the sinner’s life of new creation is begun which is in a sense all sanctification from that point on. Remember Bob, and I’ve said this before up there somewhere, we are talking about logical order here. How long these things take no one knows. I suspect it’s virtually instantaneous, including drawing.

      • sbcissues says:

        Let me ask you a simple question.

        Do you see the validity of my point that new life is just that new life… the opposite of death. I mean death itself is the absence of life.

        Given that statement alone, there is no drawing because a dead man cannot me drawn or wooed. That is my point.

        Now I am not asking you to agree with me… but can you at least see the point I am making. In fact I will take this a step farther; effectual calling cannot be progressive… it by definition is instantaneous. “Come forth” cannot mean “when you are ready.”

      • Les Prouty says:

        BOB,

        “Do you see the validity of my point that new life is just that new life?” Yes, I see the validity of that. But, then you say,

        “Given that statement alone, there is no drawing because a dead man cannot me drawn or wooed.”

        You can’t take that statement alone. There is more to the whole of salvation than that alone. I agree a dead man cannot be wooed. Lazarus could not be called out until life was restored. He could not hear. But the moment, the millisecond, he was awakened, he heard the call of Jesus. The milisecond a spiritually dead man is quickened to spiritual life, he hears. He sees. He understands spiritually (not just intellectually).

        I agree that ” “Come forth” cannot mean “when you are ready.”

  10. james jordan says:

    “JJ…I’m still waiting on your proof.”

    I’m not sure what proof you think you are awaiting but you’ll be waiting for a long time since I’m done commenting on this post.

    But if the proof you are awaiting is proof that saying “God chooses the choice for man but man still chooses it but only chooses what God chose that he would choose because God chooses but man still chooses because God chooses that the man will choose what God chooses the man will choose” means “Man doesn’t choose; God does,” you don’t need any proof because the very statement of it is the proof that you deny all choice to man. Seacrest out.

    • Les Prouty says:

      JJ, I have no idea where this will end up in the thread.

      First, I apologize for sort of badgering you to come back and bring your proof. That was uncalled for by me.

      Now that you did come back, let me say that you didn’t respond with what I was hoping you would. Here is what you wrote that I challenged you on:

      “So you deny that Calvinism teaches God makes us sin to increase his glory? I’ll let you argue that point with James White and Piper who both teach it.”

      I said I did indeed deny that and I challenged you to prove that Piper and White teach that.

      I have not read everything Piper has written nor have I read anything White has written. But I find it hard to believe that either of them teaches that “God makes us sin to increase his glory.” That’s what I was challenging.

      Now you say you’re finished commenting on this post. So be it. But let the record show that it is extremely unlikely that these two men teach what you claim and the absence of any proof only makes what you said much less likely to be true.

      Again, I apologize for badgering you.

      Les

      • james jordan says:

        “Now you say you’re finished commenting on this post. So be it. But let the record show that it is extremely unlikely that these two men [i.e. James White, John Piper] teach what you claim and the absence of any proof only makes what you said much less likely to be true.”

        Fine, one last comment. I could scour the Internet trying to re-find the specific statements where I’ve seen the most famous modern Cavlinists make the statement that God makes us sin to increase his glory. But it would be a waste of time for the following reasons:

        1. Everyone knows that all Calvinists say that God controls everything.
        2. Everyone knows that all Calvinists say God causes everything that happens to happen.
        3. Everyone knows that all Calvinists say God causes everything that happens to happen to increase his glory.
        4. Everyone knows that all Calvinists say God damns people to increase his glory.

        Ergo (that means therefore) everyone who can connect the dots knows that all Calvinists teach that God makes us sin to increase his glory. Its a very trivial proof.

        (I went back and changed the word “believe” to “say” because I know Calvinists say but I’m not so sure they actually believe it. Its too unbelievable for anyone to really believe it.)

      • Les Prouty says:

        JJ,

        “I could scour the Internet trying to re-find the specific statements where I’ve seen the most famous modern Cavlinists make the statement that God makes us sin to increase his glory.”

        Well JJ, they being famous and all, these statements shouldn’t be hard to find. But the fact is, JJ, those statements are not out there on the internet. The men you named do not teach that “God makes us sin to increase his glory.”

        Then you write (and I will ALL CAPS my response):

        “1. Everyone knows that all Calvinists say that God controls everything. AGREE IF YOU MEAN WHAT THE WCF SAYS ABOUT GOD’S DECREE

        “I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;[1] yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin,[2] nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

        2. Everyone knows that all Calvinists say God causes everything that happens to happen. WRONG
        3. Everyone knows that all Calvinists say God causes everything that happens to happen to increase his glory. ALL THINGS ARE FOR HIS GLORY, BUT SEE THE WCF QUOTED ABOVE.
        4. Everyone knows that all Calvinists say God damns people to increase his glory. PEOPLE DAMN THEMSELVES

        Ergo (that means therefore) everyone who can connect the dots knows that all Calvinists teach that God makes us sin to increase his glory. Its a very trivial proof.
        TRIVIAL IS AN INTERESTING WORD.

        I hope you are not a lawyer. that was a terrible series of supposed “truths” which lead to your supposed “proof.”

        Les

  11. Les Prouty says:

    Bob, I’ve been meaning to ask. Though I was banned from SBC Today a good while back, I still followed along. I know you have commented there in the past and you all have similar theology. So what has happened? It is a zombie zone over there. Bob, you’re becoming the go to outpost to discuss these issues.

    Was it the fact that they came out so favorable for the Calvinism statement, which meant basically virtually stopping online discussions about Calvinism? Thought maybe you would have some insight. Or maybe Lydia.

  12. I love this from MLJ.

    “Why is it that you call people to repent? Why do you call them to believe the Gospel? You cannot deal properly with repentance without dealing with the doctrine of man, the doctrine of the Fall, the doctrine of sin and the wrath of God against sin. Then when you call men to come to Christ and to give themselves to Him, how can you do so without knowing who He is, and on what grounds you invite them to come to Him, and so on. In other words it is all highly theological. Evangelism which is not theological is not evangelism at all in any true sense. It may be a calling for decisions, it may be a calling on people to come to religion, or to live a better life, or the offering of some psychological benefits; but it cannot by any definition be regarded as Christian evangelism, because there is no true reason for what you are doing apart from these great theological principles. I assert therefore that every type of preaching must be theological, including evangelistic preaching.”

    – Martyn Lloyd Jones, ‘Preaching and Preachers’, pg. 65.

    • sbcissues says:

      Les,

      I understand everything you are saying and know that what you have described is what everyone believes and for the most part tries to do. So my comments are not really aimed at what calvinists are not doing. My point is really more theological than practical.

      Basically to be brief listen to the points below.

      1. Man is dead and has a dead heart and deaf ears. He cannot or will not respond to the gospel. check.
      2. God must regenerate the lost man so that he CAN respond to the gospel. check.
      3. The gospel has no power to save the unregenerate. check

      All of the statements are correct and do not misrepresent calvinism in any way. They are all fundamentally foundational to calvinism.

      OK… just hang with me here. All I am saying is really aimed for discussion.

      Since all 3 statements above are correct… all I am saying is that the gospel is not the power of God unto conversion because it cannot save the unregenerate… only the regenerated person WILL respond so it is effectual for sanctification and not conversion.

      That is a logical conclusion given the 3 statements above. Now it is not scriptural and that is your primary problem and it is not what calvinists say, which is right there with the scriptural hurdle…

      but my point is still really very simple… it is a logical conclusion given the 3 tenets of calvinism listed above. I do not see how you can deny the statements… and then the logic of the concluding statement. You can deny that it is not what calvinists believe or teach… but that does not negate the accuracy of the conclusion given the 3 premise statements.

      THAT IS MY POINT that no one has even attempted to argue.

  13. THE INHERITANCE

    All Christians are promised an inheritance, however, the inheritance can only be collected in heaven.

    1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

    Peter said the inheritance is reserved in heaven, Christians need to go to heaven to collect their inheritance.

    Galatians 5:19-21 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    The apostle Paul was addressing the Galatian Christians when he said, “You will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

    CAN CHRISTIANS GO TO HEAVEN AND CLAIM THEIR INHERITANCE WITHOUT REPENTING?

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