The Gospel According to Calvinism and the Story of Lazarus

Theology has more components to it than Obamacare and unfortunately most folks know about as much about one as they do the other.

Take Romans 1:16-17, For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

I believe Paul meant every word of what he wrote. I believe God meant every word as well since these are His words as opposed to just being Paul’s. Paul obviously believed that the preaching of the gospel was important for he indicated his eagerness to come preach this powerful gospel in verse 15, “So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” Paul believed that the preaching of the gospel indeed had power to change people’s hearts and make a difference in their lives.

Calvinism teaches that the gospel has NO POWER to save the unregenerate. Now calvinists will scream that is not true. Please note, I said calvinism maintains one thing and calvinists proclaim another. Calvinists will argue that the gospel is the means God uses to regenerate the lost person and bring them to Christ. I will use a popular calvinist illustration to prove my point.

The example of Jesus calling Lazarus from the grave is a common popular illustration that calvinists use to illustrate the phenomenon they call regeneration prior to repentance and saving faith. Calvinism teaches that God effectually calls the lost man with a dead heart and deaf ears to life so that he can THEN repent and believe and be saved. Calvinists use Jesus’ command outside Lazarus’ tomb to illustrate the power of the effectual call in regeneration; “Lazarus come forth” and he came to life. When God calls the elect to life, they like Lazarus have new life and are born again and begin to live as a child of God.

My point is that in this system the gospel is NOT THE POWER OF GOD UNTO CONVERSION because it has no power to save the unregenerate; only God can do that because the unregenerated person CANNOT or WILL NOT repent and believe to be saved. THe unregenerate is like Lazarus in the tomb; he is dead and lifeless and has deaf ears that cannot hear the gospel.

So just like Lazarus who was dead, the gospel has no power to save or give new life in the calvinist system. It only has power AFTER new life has been granted. Lazarus had no ability to respond to anything in the tomb; not the gospel, not preaching, not crying nothing. He was dead. So the gospel could not be the means God used to bring him out of the grave and by the same token according to calvinism, the gospel cannot be the means God uses to bring the spiritually dead to new life. His effectual call is what does that and the gospel is then the means of sanctification… not conversion.

This is not what Paul was indicating in Romans 1. He is going to tell dying men about a living Savior who was crucified to pay the penalty for their sin and was gloriously resurrected so that they in hearing this glorious gospel message might believe and be saved! Theology does matter and calvinism simply does not line up with what the text continues to say.

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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190 Responses to The Gospel According to Calvinism and the Story of Lazarus

  1. hollis walter says:

    who don’t want Calvinist preaching their message then back off your harping against their.

  2. Max says:

    “Theology has more components to it than Obamacare …”

    Whew! You got that right! Folks have a menu of choices of “doing church” these days – sort of like Obamacare with various levels of Christianity to pick from. You can opt for the 60% level (Christianity Lite) in the ChurchCare Maketplace all the way up to 100% of the Truth and nothing but the Truth. But good luck finding the latter … “if” you find it, it will cost you more than you may be willing to pay. However, if you pick the lowest cost option, you may find yourself doing church without God.

  3. ACS says:

    “Dying” men? Theology does matter and Scripture says we are “dead” (not dying) in our sins (Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13). Even the Arminian must resist his Semi-Pelagian tendencies and account for these passages by inventing the notion of prevenient grace – God must give life to dead men in order to enable them to respond to the gospel call. So, unless you are advocating for the Pelagian or Semi-Pelagian heresies, the Arminian accepts that no one can respond to the gospel without first receiving the grace of God to give him the life to respond.

    • sbcissues says:

      Thanks for your response. I see you picked out 1 word in what I wrote and then took off on your errant tirade on Pelagianism. I hate to let you in on a little secret… just because someone does not bite on the total depravity/inability tenet… that does not mean he believes that salvation begins with man. Some may but I do not so try to at least contribute to the point of the article as Bro Loyd did.

      • ACS says:

        I see you have dismissive condescension down pat. Fruit of the Spirit? Yet, it does not pass muster as a rational argument. I suspect that when you say something that is completely untrue (“Calvinism teaches that the gospel has NO POWER to save the unregenerate”), it’s a good indication that you’re not interested in engaging the arguments made by those with whom you disagree. You’d rather deal with caricatures and straw men. To be fair, please cite any Reformed divine or confession that teaches that the gospel has no power to save the unregenerate.

        The Spirit binds Himself to the Word to bring dead, and not dying, sinners to faith and repentance. The two work together. Thus, God ordains the means (the preached Word) and the ends (the salvation of His elect). Both the Arminian and the Calvinist would agree that the sinner needs first to be brought to life by God in order to believe and that faith comes by hearing. The difference between the two is largely (though not exclusively) in the extent (everyone or a chosen group) and the power (enough to make a personal decision or everything, including faith).

      • sbcissues says:

        I see you have dismissive condescension down pat. Interesting comment for someone who wrote 7 sentences that really had nothing to do with the thesis of the original post and then as a side note accuses me of being Pelagian. So excuse me if I seemed a little miffed.

        You wrote, I suspect that when you say something that is completely untrue (“Calvinism teaches that the gospel has NO POWER to save the unregenerate” Well… I made a statement with a reasonable argument and I do not see any retort on the substance of what I said… just a strawman defense which seems to pop up when folks either do not want to actually engage the argument or cannot do so.

        You asked,,, To be fair, please cite any Reformed divine or confession that teaches that the gospel has no power to save the unregenerate. My point is NOT that calvinists are guilty of having this problem but that CALVINISM ITSELF will not allow that distinction. That is the problem that I am addressing that no one is engaging.

        The Spirit binds Himself to the Word to bring dead, and not dying, sinners to faith and repentance. Where is that in the Bible? And where is that in any Reformed confession? My point is it is God’s effectual call that is essential for the Word to have any effect. Now either that is true or it is not. And the Spirit binding Himself seems to me to be indwelling and that takes before or prior to repentance and faith, which has to be problematic but that argument falls on deaf ears in the reformed camp as well. That is not something you have failed to answer but no one has been able to do so to date.

        Look at what you yourself said… Both the Arminian and the Calvinist would agree that the sinner needs first to be brought to life by God in order to believe and that faith comes by hearing. Basically that is part of my errant argument but when I say it, it is wrong and when you say it it is right. Which is it… The Spirit binds Himself to the Word to bring dead, and not dying, sinners to faith and repentance….. OR God brings the sinner new life so he can believe?

        I do want to discuss things but do not like to be treated like I have no business even taking up oxygen…

        I apologize for being condescending… but this is not my first conversation with someone who failed to engage in a meaningful rebuttal.

    • james jordan says:

      ““Dying” men? Theology does matter and Scripture says we are “dead” (not dying) in our sins (Eph 2:1, 5; Col 2:13).”

      Like when someone is really mad and tell you “You’re a dead man” and you respond, in good Monty Python style, “No actually I’m quite alive, thank you very much.”

      Its called a figure of speech. People tend to use them when speaking. And when writing too.

  4. paul loyd says:

    Dear SBC Issues,

    I take issue with this post! What has the kettle said to the pot? “Calvinism teaches the gospel has no power to save the unregenerate”? O contraire. Calvinism teaches that the only hope Unregenerates have is the power of the gospel! Calvinists say what Calvinism says, i.e. that the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes!

    It is you, O SBC Issues, who say that the power, at least the initiating power, rests in man and not the gospel! Kettle and pot!

    You believe that the power of the gospel is on hold until it is “switched on” by the one hearing the gospel. Until that person gives consent any power of the gospel is kept at bay. And that power can be kept at bay and never discharged, forever. So the power of the gospel, according to SBC Issues, is a power that is …secondary? …..a power that is contingent? That is not the POWER that Paul is talking about! Contingent power is not what man needs! He needs saving power. He needs God to “open his heart to pay attention to the things said by Paul”.

    And that is the point of the whole Lazarus story. SBC Issues misses that point. The story plainly shows that the initiating power of man’s conversion, man’s being brought to life, comes from God. (One mistake you make in this post is you mix spiritual teaching and physical examples of them. Most likely Lazarus already knew and loved the gospel of God before his death and did not need to be resurrected so he could be saved. We Calvinist use this story to point to how conversions happen, including Lazarus’, but not to argue this is when Lazarus was saved!)

    What is the point of the story of Lazarus? In a nutshell it is this: God’s Word speaks and therefore man lives.

    This has always been on display. This is what happened to Paul. This is what 2 Corinthians 4:4-6 is talking about. This is the power of the gospel that John is showing in John 5 (the son gives life to whom he will) John 11 and this is the power that Paul (experienced) is talking about in Romans 1.

    One last thought. What is the Old Testament companion of the Lazarus story? Ezekiel was asked by God “Can these bones could live?” Ezekiel responded, “O Lord God, you know”. What happened? God told Ezekiel to prophesy and say to the bones, “I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” Yes, life contingent on nothing but the will and power of God.

    Thank you God, for while we were yet in our blood, you said to us “Live!”

    Long my imprisoned spirit lay
    Fast bound in sin and natures night
    Thine eye diffused a quickening ray
    I woke, the dungeon flamed with light
    My chains fell off
    My heart was free
    I rose went forth and followed thee
    (Not a bad refrain even though written by someone who would agree with SBC Issues!)

    • sbcissues says:

      Bro. Loyd,

      Thanks for at least attempting to comment on point. You have done more than most, even though you still missed much of the boat here.

      You wrote… “Calvinism teaches that the only hope Unregenerates have is the power of the gospel!” That is interesting because the thrust of my post denies that very possibility and thus the reason for the post. Here is my point one more time…

      The gospel has NO POWER TO SAVE the unregenerate until God effectually calls that person’s name like Jesus did for Lazarus… Come forth or Come alive. The unregenerate are as all you guys cry… dead… not graveyard dead… but spiritually dead. They have dead hearts and deaf ears… that is a good calvinist statement.

      Calvinism 101 says God has to regenerate or bring one to life (like Jesus did for Lazarus) so that man can or will THEN repent and exercise believing faith. That is an accurate statement.

      Where you and I are disagreeing with one another is here… if it is effectual call that brings the unregenerate to life it cannot be the gospel… if effectual call or regeneration is necessary for the individual to repent and believe then the gospel is not the power of salvation or conversion… effectual call is and the gospel is only effective in sanctification.

      Before you go ballistic on me… just answer the following question… does the gospel have ANY POWER TO DO ANYTHING to the unregenerate person? The answer according to the tenets of calvinism is NO. One must be regenerated BEFORE the gospel has any affect on that individual OR there would be no need for regeneration in the first place.! That ought not be so difficult to follow. It is an accurate statement and anyone who reads it and thinks about it ought to be able to process the logic presented.

      Now you may not like the line of thought and I know what the Bible says… but here is really my point…

      You need to decide whether you want to accept the errant teaching of calvinism or go with WHAT THE BIBLE ACTUALLY SAYS… and I think Romans 1:16-17 are very very very clear. There is no regeneration prior necessary for the gospel power to convict and save a lost sinner.

      I believe the reason Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead was really two-fold…

      #1 He is about to enter Jerusalem for the final time… do you want to know why the streets were lined with people crying Hosanna to the King… well look no farther than the tomb of Lazarus… every one heard what Jesus did on that day… everyone who was anybody and even a few Bob Hadley’s who are the least of the nobodys.

      #2 He is about to be raised from the dead as well.

      The story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead has absolutely nothing to do with the issue of the calvinist posit concerning regeneration prior to repentance and faith. That my dear brother is a prime example of eisegesis.

      Oh the valley of the dead bones… so I guess you want me to believe that this passage gives credence to your regeneration argument too? That may actually be an even greater example of trying to make a text fit your theological supposition… because this time you have God telling Ezekiel to speak life…

      I agree that God gives life… I just do not believe He gives life before one repents and believes; He gives life to those who DO REPENT AND BELIEVE.

      Slight difference but the second is Scripturally accurate… your theological dance to get out of that total depravity/inability ditch is not as clearly established in the Scripture as most wish it were.

  5. Bob Wheeler says:

    I guess I’m having a hard time following your argument here. I don’t think any Calvinist would deny that sinners get saved by hearing the gospel and responding to it. In that sense the gospel clearly IS the “power of God unto salvation.” “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are being saved it is the power of God.” (I Cor. 1:18). But that still leaves unanswered the question of how the sinner is able to respond. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Cor. 2:14). I don’t think that Paul ever intended to say that the mere spoken word, falling on the sinners ear, somehow enables him to do what he could not do before. We are not regenerated by sound waves passing through the air. Both Calvin and Wesley insisted that the Holy Spirit has to do something inside the sinner’s heart to enable him to respond, something to overcome his innate hostility to the truth. Pelagius, on the other hand, and Finney along with him, argued that the unregenerate sinner already possessed the ability to believe. He simply has to make up his mind to do so. Therefore no divine “power” is necessary at all. There is nothing supernatural about conversion. This is why the modern church has ceased to pray — it can’t see what the Holy Spirit has to do with conversion. The results, I think, speak for themselves.

    • Jof says:

      Great comment Bob, my thoughts exactly. I think the writer has a little trouble differentiating between primary and secondary causes, he also seems to blur the line between, regeneration, repentance, faith and justification as if they are all the same thing rather then distinct elements of the believer’s salvific experience. I hope the writer is at least humble enough to go to the writings of reformed theologians and see what it is that we actually believe rather than promote these continual misrepresentations of a position he clearly doesn’t understand. Soli Deo Gloria!

    • sbcissues says:

      Gentlemen,

      I don’t think any Calvinist would deny that sinners get saved by hearing the gospel and responding to it.

      I said in my article that calvinists would scream this is not true… you failed to acknowledge the point that I was making. According to calvinism, the unregenerate cannot hear and respond. This is the statement you continue to ignore. Apart from regeneration, the gospel has NO POWER TO SAVE ANYONE. For the record, Jof, if that is a misrepresentation of WHAT calvinism teaches, then let me know how. Otherwise the charge of misrepresentation needs to be withdrawn. I realize you disagree BUT the inconsistencies of the implications of the theology you hold do not make my statements incorrect.

      Now to your last statement, it (the church) can’t see what the Holy Spirit has to do with conversion.

      OK… can YOU explain to me just WHAT the Holy Spirit has to do with conversion?

      My position is that regeneration or new life is impossible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit… and the calvinist position is that new life is essential for repentance and saving faith. The calvinist cannot use the convicting work of the Holy Spirit as regeneration because it is impossible to convict a dead hearted deaf eared unregenerate person. For the record, I believe revelation in the proclamation of the gospel demands a response on the part of the hearer and the reconciliatory work of the Holy Spirit in convicting the lost person of his sin also demands a response… THAT is what I believe the Bible says God uses to bring about regeneration, which is new life that is the result of repentance and saving faith; I do not believe we are saved to be converted.

      I will look forward to your response as well as Jof’s who can help clear up my misunderstanding and misrepresentations.

      • Jof says:

        I must admit your argumentation is a little difficult to follow. The means by which spiritual life is brought to the dead sinner is the gospel –

        How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
        15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
        16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”
        17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Rom 10:14-17 ESV)

        You misrepresent Calvinists when you say –

        “My point is that in this system the gospel is NOT THE POWER OF GOD UNTO CONVERSION because it has no power to save the unregenerate”

        No Calvinist believes that, Reformed theology has always affirmed that the gospel is the means by which God brings life to sinners who then in their new state are able to respond positively to the gospel call.

        As I have stated elsewhere I think you have a real problem differentiating between different aspects of soteriology, as you seem to make a lot of category errors. Once more – Justification is not regeneration, regeneration is not belief, belief is not sanctification or conviction etc, they may be all aspects of the believers salvific experience, but they are not all the same thing.

      • sbcissues says:

        Jof,

        You wrote… The means by which spiritual life is brought to the dead sinner is the gospel – then you reference Romans 10:14-17. For the record, I agree with that statement 100%.

        You THEN write, You misrepresent Calvinists when you say – “My point is that in this system the gospel is NOT THE POWER OF GOD UNTO CONVERSION because it has no power to save the unregenerate”

        No Calvinist believes that, Reformed theology has always affirmed that the gospel is the means by which God brings life to sinners who then in their new state are able to respond positively to the gospel call.

        Having a hard time understanding my position? Answer this question. Does the gospel have ANY power to save the lost person APART from regeneration?

        Can the gospel message that falls on a dead heart and deaf ears have any impact apart from regeneration FIRST taking place? Understand regeneration is NEW LIFE… a new heart and ears that hear BECAUSE God has called the dead lifeless person to new life…

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, You asked, “Does the gospel have ANY power to save the lost person APART from regeneration?”

        That’s like ASKING, “Does the gospel have ANY power to save the lost person APART from THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?”

        The answer is no. Must I point you to scriptures that show that the Spirit involved? Like,

        “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:4-7, ESV)

        Someone, anyone, proclaiming the gospel, even using strictly biblical words, will see no success without the Spirit working in a regenerative way on the hearer. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. This is basic soteriology.

      • sbcissues says:

        I agree. The difference is the Bible speaks about the work of the Holy Spirit AND the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction is different from regeneration… that IS NEW LIFE…

        This verse can back up my claim that regeneration, which is NEW LIFE is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which gives the lost right standing.

        So which is it… God’s effectual call that brings regeneration or is it a regenerative work… which that phrase itself is problematic in the regenerative scheme of the Holy Spirit… and here is why… regeneration CANNOT be a process… death is the absence of life.. one cannot be almost alive…

        I am NOT trying to be problematic… I just cannot fathom the inconsistent statements that calvinists make when measured against the theology they hold.

        That is my point of argument.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “So which is it… God’s effectual call that brings regeneration or is it a regenerative work…”

        Easy answer. It is the Spirit of God who regenerates. See John 3.

        “regeneration CANNOT be a process.” It is a monergistic event. Bam! God gives life to a spiritually dead man. It’s also called sometimes “quickening.”

        BTW, are you going to respond to my question of whether you can legitimately sing the hymn I reference, given your statements on atonement NOT happening at the cross? See https://sbcissues.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/a-question-for-calvinists-2/#comment-1467

      • sbcissues says:

        What does a song we sing have anything to do with a discussion on theology?

        On the cross He sealed my pardon… what does that mean exactly? At Calvary YOUR/MY pardon was sealed right then?

        Then what is the necessity of the application of the provision that you said you believed takes place? Remember my point is that if this is true, there is never a moment in the life of the elect that they are EVER in danger of being objects of God’s wrath; your sins were paid for in full at Calvary… so what is there for the elect to even repent of?

        I believe my pardon was sealed at the cross.. and it becomes effectual when I repent and believe in God’s provisions and His promises.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        Does it matter if the praise you sing to God in worship is correct theology? I certainly hope so. You wouldn’t sing the words, “Oh God I’m so glad I saved myself.” I ridiculous statement, right? It’s bad theology. Same on any utterances we give to God in praise, like a hymn.

        “On the cross He sealed my pardon… what does that mean exactly? At Calvary YOUR/MY pardon was sealed right then?”

        Yep, Done. Yours wasn’t?

        Then what is the necessity of the application of the provision that you said you believed takes place?” Because Bob sins were atoned for on the cross. The Spirit applies that in the lives of sinners in time. How else, for instance, could Abraham have been justified? Christ was the fulfillment of all the OT promises.

        “Remember my point is that if this is true, there is never a moment in the life of the elect that they are EVER in danger of being objects of God’s wrath; your sins were paid for in full at Calvary… so what is there for the elect to even repent of?”

        Again, Bob, The Spirit applies the work of the cross in time. You are right about one thing and maybe you swerved into it. There is never a chance, never any way one of God’s elect will NOT ultimately be saved. I think Jesus said something about that in John. But until the Spirit calls and the elect responds in repentance and faith he is under the wrath of God.

        “I believe my pardon was sealed at the cross.. and it becomes effectual when I repent and believe in God’s provisions and His promises.”

        Amen!

      • sbcissues says:

        I guess where you and I are at an impasse has to do with our definitions of “done.” As I see it, done means done. There is no application at a later date.

        That is what I see calvinism positing. The atonement… ALL of it was completed on the cross. Our pardon sealed. That is why I am saying there is never a moment that the elect are ever lost or in danger of God’s wrath. According to calvinism, God’s wrath was poured out on Christ for the elect; the sins of the elect were marked paid in full and cast into the sea of forgetfulness to be remembered no more.

        There is no faith issue… no repentance… Jesus paid it all… all to Him i owe.. sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.

        Now one of two things has to be true; Jesus paid it all for a select group OR He paid it all for those who believe. Cannot be both ways. Calvinism picks the former and I believe the latter and the Bible declares the latter… at least directly and supports the calvinist position maybe indirectly.

        You and I are looking at things from different plains and we are failing to consider the different plain and the basis for the arguments being made. I guess that is the frustrating part to this exercise.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        Yes, I suppose we are at an impasse. But it’s always challenging to interact.

        You said, “Now one of two things has to be true; Jesus paid it all for a select group OR He paid it all for those who believe.”

        I say both are true. Jesus paid it all for His people, the elect…those who will without a doubt will believe. He did not pay it all for those who will not believe.

        Blessings bro.

      • sbcissues says:

        What I meant was when Jesus said It is finished. If you force everything back to calvary then I do not see that both can be true from that vantage point.

        I do appreciate your input and I do the best I can to give your positions and arguments made my full attention. My goal is the same as yours, to be where God wants us to be from a theological position. Hope your week is a great one!

      • Les Prouty says:

        Thanks Bob. I’m heading back to Haiti Wednesday early leading a group of 27. Please pray for us as we minister to the kids and the community around the church group home. We’ll be doing a mobile medical clinic a few days as well. Pics and updates will be on our FB page if you want to keep up. https://www.facebook.com/thehaitiorphanproject

      • sbcissues says:

        Will do. I am sure we will chat before you leave!!! May God bless your trip abundantly for His glory!

  6. Jof says:

    Extract from George Whitfield’s Sermon on the Lazarus text,
    Come, ye dead, Christless, unconverted sinners, come and see the place where they laid the body of the deceased Lazarus; behold him laid out, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, locked up and stinking in a dark cave, with a great stone placed on the top of it! View him again and again; go nearer to him; be not afraid; smell him, ah! How he stinketh. Stop there now, pause a while; and whilst thou art gazing upon the corpse of Lazarus, give me leave to tell thee with great plainness, but greater love, that this dead, bound, entombed, stinking carcass, is but a faint representation of thy poor soul in its natural state: for, whether thou believest it or not, thy spirit which thou bearest about with thee, sepulchered in flesh and blood, is as literally dead to God, and as truly dead in trespasses and sins, as the body of Lazarus was in the cave. Was he bound hand and foot with grave-clothes? So art thou bound hand and foot with thy corruptions: and as a stone was laid on the sepulcher, so is there a stone of unbelief upon thy stupid heart. Perhaps thou hast lain in this state,, not only four days, but many years, stinking in God’s nostrils. And; what is still more affecting, thou art as unable to raise thyself out of this loathsome, dead state, to a life of righteousness and true holiness, as ever Lazarus was to raise himself from the cave in which he lay so long. Thou mayest try the power of thy own boasted free-will, and the force and energy of moral persuasion and rational arguments (which, without all doubt, have their proper place in religion); but all thy efforts, exerted with never so much vigor, will prove quite fruitless and abortive, till that same Jesus, who said, “Take away the stone,” and cried, “Lazarus, come forth,” comes by his mighty power, removes the stone of unbelief, speaks life to thy dead soul, looses thee from the fetters of they sins and corruptions, and by the influences of his blessed Spirit, enables thee to arise, and to walk in the way of his holy commandments. And O that he would now rend the heavens, and come down amongst you! O that there may be a stirring among the dry bones this day! O that whilst I am speaking, and saying, “Dead sinners, come forth,” a power, an almighty power might accompany the word, and cause you to emerge into new life!
    If the Lord should vouchsafe me such a mercy, and but one single soul in this great congregation, should arise and shake himself from the dust of his natural state; according to the present frame of my heart, I should not care if preaching this sermon here in the fields, was an occasion of hastening my death, as raising Lazarus hastened the death of my blessed Master. For methinks death, in some respects, is more tolerable, than to see poor sinners day by day lying sepulchered, dead and stinking in sin. O that you saw how loathsome you are in the sight of God, whilst you continue in your natural state! I believe you would not so contentedly hug your chains, and refuse to be set at liberty.
    Methinks I see some of you affected at this part of my discourse. What say you? Are there not some ready to complain, alas! we have some relations present, who are so notoriously wicked, that they not only hug their chains, but make a mock of sin, and stink not only in the sight of God, but man. Dear souls! You are ready to urge this, as a reason why Jesus will not raise them; and think it hard, perhaps, that Jesus does not come, in answer to your repeated groans and prayers, to convert and save them. But what Jesus said unto Martha, I say unto you, “Believe, and you shall see the glory of God.” Think it not a thing incredible, that God should raise their dead souls. Think not hard of Jesus for delaying an answer to your prayers: assure yourselves he heareth you always. And who knows, but this day Jesus may visit some of your dear relations hearts, upon whose account you have traveled [travailed] in birth till Christ be formed in them? You have already sympathized with Martha and Mary, in their doubts and fears; who knows but you may also be partakers of that joy which their souls experienced, when they received their risen brother into their longing arms.
    O Christless souls, you do not know what grief your continuance in sin occasions to your godly relations! You do not know how you grieve the heart of Jesus. I beseech you give him no fresh cause to weep over you upon account of your unbelief: let him not again groan in his spirit and be troubled. Behold how he has loved you, even so as to lay down his life for you. What could he do more? I pray you, therefore, dead sinners, come forth; arise and sup with Jesus. This was an honor conferred on Lazarus, and the same honor awaits you. Not that you shall sit down with him personally in this life, as Lazarus did, but you shall sit down with him at the table of his ordinances, especially at the table of the Lord’s supper, and ere long sit down with him in the kingdom of heaven.
    Happy, thrice happy ye, who are already raised from spiritual death, and have an earnest of an infinitely better and more glorious resurrection in your hearts. You know a little, how delightful it must have been to Martha and Mary and Lazarus, to sit down with the blessed Jesus here below; but how infinitely more delightful will it be, to sit down, not only with Mary and Martha, but with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all your other dear brethren and sisters, in the kingdom of heaven. Do you not long for that time, when Jesus shall say unto you, “Come up hither?” Well! Blessed be God, yet a little while, and that same Jesus, who cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth;” shall with the same voice, and with the same power, speak unto all that are in their graves, and they shall come forth. That all who hear me this day may be then enabled to lift up their heads and rejoice, that the day of their complete redemption is indeed fully come, may Jesus Christ grant, for his infinite mercy’s sake. Amen, and Amen.

  7. Bob Wheeler says:

    So Bob, do I understand you correctly? We are justified by an infused righteousness? That is the Roman Catholic position, you know.
    I still cannot see the alleged inconsistency in Calvinist soteriology. The unregenerate sinner is dead in his trespasses and sins, the god of this world has blinded his eyes. The Holy Spirit basically has to create a new heart in him in order for him to respond. You have choose to call that regeneration, then so be it. Regeneration has to precede repentance and faith. The person responds, is justified by an imputed righteousness, and receives the indwelling Spirit. Where is there a contradiction.
    Let’s assume, for the sake of example, that you are preaching an evangelistic sermon. There are two unsaved people sitting in your congregation side by side, both listening to the same preacher preaching the same sermon. One is moved to tears by what he hears, the other is completely unmoved. Being the good traditional Southern Baptist that you are, you give an altar call. The one person walks down the aisle while the other one walks out the door. What made the difference? In the one case the Holy Spirit was speaking to his heart, convicting him of his sin, and enlightening his mind so that he could understand what was being said. It all makes sense to him, and he responds. The other one has a hard heart and rejects everything that was said as utter foolishness.
    The first person responded precisely because the Holy Spirit did a work of grace in his heart.

    • sbcissues says:

      Hey Bob,

      Thanks again for weighing in on the discussion. I am not a proponent of infused righteousness nor imputed righteousness; I will refer to the most basic of definitions of righteousness as “right standing.” Obviously to have right standing granted by God, justification by faith has to take place first and right standing is granted by God. Justification is not possible apart from what took place on the cross and Jesus’ right standing becomes the basis for His qualification to be the lamb without spot or blemish… so infused is not a factor in my position. One MIGHT see imparted but I still do not even believe that is applicable. My position is not a righteousness that is received but a right standing granted.

      “The Holy Spirit basically has to create a new heart in him in order for him to respond.” So this is what the calvinist (not me) calls regeneration that is essential for the lost person to experience BEFORE he can repent or believe correct?

      You answer… Regeneration has to precede repentance and faith. The person responds, is justified by an imputed righteousness, and receives the indwelling Spirit. Where is there a contradiction.

      My argument is that regeneration is ITSELF NEW LIFE. It is as if on one hand you want to equate regeneration as convicting work of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel and because of that… one responds is justified and receives the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The problem is according to calvinism… is that conviction of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel falls on dead hearts and deaf ears (again not my words but calvinsts’) and until one is regenerated or given new life. nothing and I do mean NOTHING will work to bring about new life in the unregenerated heart. That is a basic tenet of calvinism…

      Now to your illustration about the two people sitting side by side… etc. No decision we EVER make is made in a vacuum. We are products of our environments. Exposure to the great commission and the great commandment have their impact. The convicting work of the Holy Spirit is His work… do you or I understand how He does what He does? I do not.

      Why does one respond and the other not? My only answer is that one trusts God and the other runs. I also suggest that this is not the end of the story for the guy who left. The Word of God in his mind and the touch of the Holy Spirit on his heart will do one of two things; it will bring him closer to a decision for Christ or push him farther away.

      I simple cannot come to accept the theology that God made the decision for the one who came and also made the decision for the one who left. I believe life is the result of the decisions we make. Every aspect of our lives are dictated and determined by those decisions and I do not see why eternity has to be an exception. I believe God has provided the provisions and given us the consequences of our decisions concerning His provisions and His promises and our eternity is based on our decision, what am I going to do with this One who is called the Christ.

      Call me simple minded but that is what I believe most accurately describes God’s salvific work in our world.

      • Bob Wheeler says:

        Well, let me ask you this question. The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines “effectual calling” this way: “Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.” (Question 31). According the the Catechism, which represents the standard Calvinist teaching on the subject, the Holy Spirit does three things to “persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ”: 1)convince us of our sin and misery; 2) enlighten our minds in the knowledge of Christ; and 3) renew our wills. Would you agree with the statement? If not, where did the Westminster divines get it wrong?

      • sbcissues says:

        Hey Bob,

        The problem I have is this: the dead hearted person who has deaf ears must be born again in order for the Spirit to convince us of our sin. That is what Total depravity and inability establish. Now, I agree to a degree with what you have written. I do believe the Spirit does indeed convict us of our sin and our need for a Savior; and along with the proclamation of the gospel one accepts the fact that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He says He will do (my working definition of faith which is based on Hebrews 11:6b)… he repents of his sin and asks God to forgive him and God does so. I do not see that as effectual calling in the sense of God calling out our name and calling us to new life so that we can THEN respond.

        Do you see the difference? I understand that this is what the WC says but it seems to me this statement does not line up with the tenets of calvinism itself… and that is the point of contention I have.

  8. Les Prouty says:

    Bob H., one more thing just for fun. I just saw this quote from a blog I subscribe to. He says so much better what I’ve been trying to say.

    “The Father and Son are united in their work for the salvation of those who believe: the Father electing and sending His Son; the Son atoning for the sins of those chosen and given to Him by the Father (John 6:37–40). The same harmony exists between the Son and the Spirit. Jesus did not die for the sins of all people, only to have the Holy Spirit apply the benefits of His work merely to some. Rather, the Holy Spirit regenerates precisely the people for whom Jesus offered His atoning death, so that the work of the second and third persons of the Trinity harmonizes perfectly.”

    Here is a link to the rest of the short article. http://theaquilareport.com/how-the-trinity-works-together-in-salvation/

    • sbcissues says:

      I believe Jesus did die for the sins of all people, only to have the Holy Spirit apply the benefits of His work to those who believe.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        Not wanting to rehash all this. But this statement of yours “I believe Jesus did die for the sins of all people, only to have the Holy Spirit apply the benefits of His work to those who believe” is what I would have originally expected from you. Really it is something like this I was hoping you would say.

        My contention is that you could just as easily say “I believe Jesus did ATONE for the sins of all people, only to have the Holy Spirit apply the benefits of His work to those who believe.” So long of course you don’t affirm universalism, which I know you don’t.

        You and I have been going round and round about atonement. And while I disagree with this statement of yours (as I say He died for the elect, not everyone) it is nevertheless an orthodox statement. Whether you keep it as you wrote it or substitute “atonement” for “died.”

        Les

      • sbcissues says:

        Jesus died for the sins of all men; atonement is only accomplished when it is applied. THAT is my point and has been all along. So since the atonement is not efficacious until its application, I maintain atonement COULD NOT be accomplished on the cross.

        Calvinism however does establish the fact that it was accomplished at the cross and that in essence is the basis and foundation for unconditional election. Do you now see the difference in my arguments?

    • Jof says:

      In regards to SBCissues’ comment above regarding the problem he has regarding “effectual call”.

      Firstly it should be pointed out that when Calvinists talk about effectual call or irresistible grace we are speaking about the act of God bringing a dead sinner to life, its effectual in the sense that when God brings a sinner to life they will always respond positively to the gospel call, God will effect the result he has set about to accomplish in saving this person, it’s irresistible in the sense that dead people don’t resist being brought to life…that should be kind of obvious, corpses are not known for offering a lot of resistance to well..just about anything, I mean how can they, they are dead!

      The reason you (SBCissues) find it difficult to understand this and see it as somehow inconsistent is that you start with a rather unbiblical view of the natural man’s ability, your theological system doesn’t need to answer the question “how can the spiritual dead person perform a spiritual act”, you then add injury to insult in failing to differentiate between a sinner coming to life and that same individual then repenting and believing to become saved. In your tradition you equate regeneration with salvation as if they are one and the same thing rather than distinct elements (though inseparable) of the believers salvific experience.

      You assume that repentance and faith must precede regeneration even though the scriptures are amazingly clear on what type of response the natural man will consistently give to the gospel (Romans 7:7, 2Corinthians 2:14), that man’s obedience to the gospel is glaringly absent in Jesus discussion regarding what actually provokes that act of regeneration (John 3:3-8) and finally that the Apostle John stated that spiritual birth precedes belief (1John 5:1 – compare with 1John 2:29b same periphrastic construction)

      There is nothing inconsistent about any of this, God brings those dead sinners to life that he chose from eternity (Romans 8:30, John 6:37) for his good pleasure (Eph 1:9) and to bring glory to his name (Eph 1:12) and that person now having been given a new nature (Ezekiel 11:9, John 3:6-8), gifted with faith (Eph 2:8-9, Romans 12:3, Phil 1:29) and repentance (Acts 11:18) will of their own volition choose to follow after God and be saved (Romans 10:13).

      Where is the contradiction in that?

      Soli Deo Gloria

      • sbcissues says:

        Jof,

        Thanks for the dialogue. I do understand your statement “corpses are not known for offering a lot of resistance to well..just about anything, I mean how can they, they are dead!” Effectual call is God’s voice bringing the dead heart and the deaf ear to life. I do not have any problem understanding this as you suggest. I am pointing to an inconsistency that the very statement you reference creates.

        The Bible says that the gospel is THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO THOSE THAT BELIEVE. Here is the problem with this text; my point HAS TO BE GIVEN CONSIDERATION for as you say, “corpses are not known for offering a lot of resistance to well..just about anything, I mean how can they, they are dead!” Unless God regenerates one the gospel has no power to do anything. That is my point and that is the point everyone continues to ignore.

        I disagree that my theological view concerning man’s position is unbiblical. We do not agree on total depravity and inability and I challenge you to show that concept ANYWHERE in the OT… it is not there. I do not believe it is in the new but as you indicated below there are passages that will support the position you bring to the text but I also maintain you will not take that position FROM the text.

        The point of I John 5 is not regeneration… again you HAVE to bring that to the text; John’s point is that we love those who are born into the family of God. An interesting verse is verse 12… 12-13″Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” New life is the result of believing in the provisions and promises of God; we do not believe because Jesus through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our hearts so that we CAN or WILL believe. Consider Romans 8:9 “But *ye* are not in flesh but in Spirit, if indeed God’s Spirit dwell in you; but if any one has not [the] Spirit of Christ *he* is not of him:” and verse 11 “But if the Spirit of him that has raised up Jesus from among [the] dead dwell in you, he that has raised up Christ from among [the] dead shall quicken your mortal bodies also on account of his Spirit which dwells in you.”

        There is no “new life” apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and if that is true, which is what I read FROM the text not INTO the text then calvinism is on dangerous ground because it has new life as the cause and effect of repentance and faith… so that means the Holy Spirit takes up residence in an unrepentant heart and I believe that to be very problematic Scripturally.

        I agree with 2:29… our right standing is the key to our practicing righteousness.

        Now to your final paragraph and question, Where is the inconsistency in that? Well there is no inconsistency (in WHAT you wrote)… I just maintain there is plenty of error from a Scriptural standpoint. Regeneration prior to repentance and faith is a concept brought to the text; not one taken from the text and when you take the text and read what it says, there are serious problems with the tents of calvinism.

      • Jof says:

        Hi SBCissues,

        I’m not sure that it is entirely accurate to state that your question has been ignored, several brothers have given you a response however you continually reject the answers provided. That said I am happy to again respond to your assertion –

        “Unless God regenerates one the gospel has no power to do anything.”

        I emphatically reject the notion that failing God’s act of regeneration the gospel can accomplish nothing. The gospel is the means by which God brings life to His elect and a word of judgement to those that reject its message, outside of its evangelical application, the gospel is the means by which Christians are continually turned back to gaze in adoration at their saviour and in so doing are progressively sanctified and conformed to his image.

        In addition to those functions acting as its primary purpose, I would also suggest that the proclamation of Christ is the means by which evil is restrained and social justice promoted within a culture, the latter is hardly debatable as there are numerous examples of societies whose peoples, the many of whom remained outside of Christ, were positively impacted by Christian ethics that sprung forth from the gospel proclamation of often relatively small groups of believers.

        So clearly I don’t agree with you, I fear you have a rather limited view of what the gospel is and exactly how multi-faceted its function can be. I also don’t separate the gospel and the word of God into different categories, the gospel is the message of Christ as is all of scripture, as Jesus stated –

        You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me (John 5:39 ESV)

        It’s just a shame that modern man-centred theology has turned the gospel into something that Christians visit at conversion and then spend the rest of their earthly lives listening to messages focused on themselves rather than Christ. All of scripture is threaded from genesis to revelation in the crimson thread of Christ’s gospel. There is no separation of this message to the active working of God’s spirit as the Spirit himself declares that it is the power of God to save and it will never return void.

        For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb 4:12 ESV)

        As far as your view on the limitation of the natural man’s ability, I think your understanding that the scriptures don’t provide an answer to this question it rather instructive as to the power and influence of tradition. I have provided you with numerous passages that clearly enunciate the limitation of the natural man, both from the OT and the new.

        The testimony of scripture is so overwhelming and clear on this subject the onus is not on the Calvinist to prove their position but on the detractor to demonstrate why those verses shouldn’t be understood with a normative understanding of what they appear to be saying.

        If you really are sincere and are perhaps just unfamiliar with the numerous references scattered throughout the scriptures then I would suggest reading Martin Luther’s “Bondage of the Will” in which he exegetes literally hundreds of verses on this subject. If you want a short hand version of some of the texts, the following link is for a fairly decent blog-post listing a number of these verses –

        http://www.traviscarden.com/total-depravity-verse-list

        Finally I wanted to respond to your continual criticism of reformed theology regarding regeneration and the indwelling of the spirit. I must admit I was pleased to see you finally enunciate your position clearly that you don’t distinguish between both of these events.

        As I have stated in numerous responses I believe you have a problem differentiating between distinct aspects of salvation, and in the case of regeneration and the filling of the holy Spirit confuse the line between them both, seemingly assuming that they are the same thing which I guess explains why you often use the terms inter-changeably, case in point you stated –

        “so that means the Holy Spirit takes up residence in an unrepentant heart and I believe that to be very problematic”

        It’s obvious from your comments here (at least in my mind) that you don’t believe that being regenerated i.e. being awoken or quickened spiritually if you like, can be a separate experience from being indwelt with the spirit. It’s a rather clear distinction if you ask me, as one is describing the change of something we already possess (our spirit changing from death to life) and the other is descriptive of something foreign or alien being given to us (the Holy Spirit).

        I’m not sure how one confuses those two things as the category difference is kind of obvious. I know you claim to derive this view from scripture, and I can only assume your confusion comes from pointing at the many examples of believers who were regenerated and also filled with the Spirit, the problem is that doesn’t prove your position, or mine for that matter, we would both agree that those that are regenerated, that have been brought to spiritual life are filled with the Holy Spirit.

        The problem that you have though is those other examples where it is obvious that an individual is regenerated; a confessor of Christ, a person that was clearly not unregenerate yet had not experienced the filling of the Holy Spirit. For example –

        Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. (Act 8:14-17 ESV)

        The people being described here were believers, those that had even been baptised in the name of Christ, the phrase “had received the word of God” is indicative of people that had confessed Christ and believed his gospel, it’s a term that is used nearly synonymously with believers in the NT.

        Probably the most obvious example is that of the Disciples themselves (the son of perdition excluded) would you really assert that even though they believed, preached and performed miracles under the direct ministry of Christ that the disciples were unregenerate men? no of course not, you surely concede that these followers of Christ did all of this prior to being filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Would you likewise assert that when Jesus stated this…

        “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23 ESV)

        …that he was stating that those that love God and obey his word were unregenerate men? The text indicates, clearly I believe, that there are two events being described here – the actions of a regenerated person and a subsequent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I understand that you will continue to propose that dead sinners, who hate God and cannot and will not obey his word will of their own natural inclination do that which the scriptures states they cannot–

        “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:14

        However I think it is fairly obvious to most that the idea of the Holy Spirit residing in us and our awakening to spiritual life are separate events even though they may in many or most instances be spontaneously experienced.

        I like what Charles Spurgeon once stated regarding regeneration –

        “Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and reposes in him. Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain that there is as yet no quickening; where there is no quickening, the soul is dead in trespasses and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

        I will try to get to some of the other things you mentioned in a later reply.

        God bless
        Soli Deo Gloria

      • james jordan says:

        Wow that’s long. The whole thing, however, hinges on one mistranslation.

        “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit….” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

        Natural or carnally minded? To be carnally minded is death. What does that mean? To only mind the things of profit and loss in this world and not give a crap about God’s commandments. Such a person cannot understand spritual things, and the fact of the matter is Calvinists are great candidates for being such people since they would rather grow in their knowledge of their own worthlessness than improve and be changed from glory to glory while beholding Christ as in a glass darkly. They would rather ponder the depths of total depravity, that is, ponder “the depths of Satan, as they speak” exactly like the Gnostics against whom John writes in Revelation 2.

        How can people who sit around doing nothing but pondering their own sinfulness, their own total depravity, and wallowing in the “depths of Satan” ever be anything but carnal?

      • sbcissues says:

        Jof,

        I am amazed at the ability of people to use words and play off them to their own argument and will admit I can be as guilty as anyone.

        The quote you lift for example is a perfect example of what I am saying: “Unless God regenerates one the gospel has no power to do anything.” We both SHOULD understand that the context of my statement quoted here ANYTHING has to do with the salvific aspect of the power of God unto salvation. THAT is what I maintain everyone including you is ignoring. Unless and until regeneration takes place the gospel has NO POWER TO SAVE ANYONE… it is effectual call that brings new life and the power of the gospel THEN kicks in. That is my argument.

        I find the following statement difficult to substantiate Scripturally or logically: “The gospel is the means by which God brings life to His elect.” How can the gospel be the means God uses IF EFFECTUAL CALL must take place BEFORE one can even respond to the gospel? New life or Effectual call is the cause not the gospel; if the gospel cannot save the unregenerate it cannot be the means of new life. God’s efficacious will or effectual calling are what solely and singularly brings the elect to new life. The gospel itself cannot do so; now your retort is the Bible says…. and I agree with you there and my point is regeneration as posited by calvinism in then incorrect since both cannot be correct.

        You wrote: “I fear you have a rather limited view of what the gospel is and exactly how multi-faceted its function can be.” I believe I am being objectively critical of a philosophical theological position that clearly has Scriptural issues and those issues some are willing to address but not the arguments related to the issues. I guess that problem is the result of one of two things; either people do not understand the problems being related or they are simply ignoring the problems and regurgitating what is in their own heads or what they have been taught by someone else.

        I also find the following comment interesting to say the least: As far as your view on the limitation of the natural man’s ability, I think your understanding that the scriptures don’t provide an answer to this question it rather instructive as to the power and influence of tradition. I have provided you with numerous passages that clearly enunciate the limitation of the natural man, both from the OT and the new.”

        I never said I do not believe the Scriptures do not provide an answer to the problem; I have used the scriptures to offer a valid argument to the problem of sin and for the charge of letting tradition influence my decision, that is certainly an interesting comment coming from a calvinist that is steeped in tradition that I believe is errant in all 5 points. As to the passages you cite, there is no question about the fact that sin has effected humanity; it is the extent and the nature of that problem that is in question so your statement is baseless at least at this point.

        Now to your retort to my position that regeneration is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I do appreciate the tone and the effort to respond responsibly and you are doing so. Let me compliment you on that and express my appreciation. That is how these kinds of discussions ought to be conducted.

        Let me say your argument regarding the disciples is sort of a moot argument and here is why; I do not believe there is any evidence or reference of their being regenerated before their following Jesus so the problem you offer is not applicable to my position. If I believed as you do that regeneration is essential BEFORE repentance and believing faith then as you suggest my position would be problematic. My point is that regeneration as posited by calvinism is not accurate so I am on solid ground with my position that regeneration is the result of the indwelling that takes place after repentance and believing faith.

        As for the passage in Acts 8, this is a rather unique passage of Scripture. The New Testament church is expanding and there seems to be a filling or special out pouring of a manifestation of the work of the Holy Spirit which is what I believe the passage you speak of refers. I do not believe salvation is possible apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What took place when Peter and John came down was something unique and I believe special to this particular day and time.

        Now let me say this; regardless of what one believes about my position as stated above, there is no reference whatsoever to a regeneration prior to repentance and saving faith in this passage so while one might use this to argue against the case I make of the indwelling being essential for regeneration it is not a proof text for your position at all. Also may I suggest, your own argument places your position of conversion being the result of the indwelling as you suggest it does mine. Just a side note.

        Finally, I have no problem with the statement, ““Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration.” I believe that to be absolutely true. The problem on your end is that it is regeneration or God’s effectual call that must take place so that one can or will come to Christ. It is as if you guys use that when it fits your argument, ie total depravity and inability/regeneration and then you dont when someone points to the implications that this position presents, which is evident in this conversation.

        Problem: No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and reposes in him. Here is the deal; quickened means born anew; it means new life. It is not that one has “come to Christ” it is more accurately that Christ has come to the individual. That is the fundamental difference in our two very well thought out positions.

        Please understand me when I say, I am not confused about anything; I am not missing the obvious; I am not proffering claims that I cannot back up but I am not even a 1 point calvinist. I guess that is so because I am not predestined to be so.

        Thanks again for the discussion.

      • james jordan says:

        “The quote you lift for example is a perfect example of what I am saying: “Unless God regenerates one the gospel has no power to do anything.” We both SHOULD understand that the context of my statement quoted here ANYTHING has to do with the salvific aspect of the power of God unto salvation. THAT is what I maintain everyone including you is ignoring. Unless and until regeneration takes place the gospel has NO POWER TO SAVE ANYONE… it is effectual call that brings new life and the power of the gospel THEN kicks in. That is my argument.”

        That doesn’t make any sense. If you first need a magic zapping to enable you to believe the gospel, then the gospel is not doing any saving. Its the magic zapping that does all the saving.

        Ultimately, you agree with the Calvinists — you are a Calvinist. As long as you continue to maintain that regeneration must precede you being able to believe the gospel. How could this possibly work in a non-Calvinist context? Does God give everyone the magic zapping? When does he do that? Its absurd.

        That’s not even mentioning how John 1:12 puts faith BEFORE regeneration.

        “But as many as receivED him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”

        Note, they believed first and then they were given the right to become sons of God.

      • sbcissues says:

        I hope you are not addressing me… anyone who has read ANYTHING I have written KNOWS that I am everything BUT a calvinist… not even a 1 pointer.

      • james jordan says:

        Reversing the order of faith and regeneration in John 1:12, which is unfortunately a favorite Baptist pastime, leads directly to Calvinism. What is Calvinism? Denying that anyone can believe the Gospel without a magic zapping. That’s exactly what you’re doing here. How does your zapping differ from theirs? I don’t understand how you can’t see they’ve taken over your brain: they’ve stuck a spoon in and stirred it all around until they got you reading John 1:12 backwards and asserting their doctrine while proclaiming that you aren’t. Its very sad.

      • james jordan says:

        Ironically, despite the Calvinist influence in the production of the ESV, the ESV makes it even clearer that faith PRECEDES regeneration. John 1:12 again.

        ESV “But to all who DID receive him, who believED in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,”

        They received and believed first — then he gave them the right to become children of God (i.e. be regenerated).

        Here endeth the lesson.

  9. Jof says:

    Statement:
    The natural man is spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1-3, Colossians 2:14)
    We have inherited this “dead” state from Adam (Romans 5:18, Psalm 51:5)
    The natural man’s will is enslaved (the opposite to free!) (John 8:34, Romans 6:6)
    The natural man is incapable of doing anything pleasing to God (Romans 8:8,)
    The natural man is incapable of obeying God (Romans 7:7)
    The natural man is at enmity with God (Romans 8:7)
    The natural man does not have the ability to understand spiritual things (including the gospel) (2 Corinthians 2:14)
    The natural man does not seek God (Romans 3:11)
    Question:
    Is repentance pleasing to God? If faith is pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6) How does an unregenerate person believe?

  10. The document urges Southern Baptists to move beyond arguments to agreement on spreading the gospel.

    • Lydia says:

      “The document urges Southern Baptists to move beyond arguments to agreement on spreading the gospel”

      Which one? Calvinism is not “good news” because you are still depraved after salvation. After salvation your heart is still wicked and you cannot grow in Holiness. Why would I want to help spread such despair? Nannie, many of the ex Christians I am talking with these days are former YRR/Calvinists. They could not reconcile the determinist God with man’s responsibility. They were also weary of the authoritarianism in that movement.

  11. james jordan says:

    “Calvinism teaches that the gospel has NO POWER to save the unregenerate. Now calvinists will scream that is not true.”

    To Calvinists the gospel is not the message, the gospel is the predestination itself. Just go through the NT and replace the words “gospel” and “word” and “faith” and “message” and “preaching” in every occurrence with “predestination” and you’ll then understand Calvinism perfectly.

    Romans 1:16 (New Calvinist Version) “For I am not ashamed of the predestination of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

    • james jordan says:

      Like the NIV became the TNIV:
      Romans 1:16 (The New New Calvinist Version) “For I am not ashamed of the predestination of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that is predestined; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

    • Jof says:

      “Here endeth the lesson”…what a shame I was hoping you would get to the very next verse! Here is the passage –

      (11)”He [Jesus] came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1: 11-13)

      Just like SBC issues you are making a rather obvious category error – there are two things being discussed 1 – Our adoption or justification (v12) and 2 – regeneration (v13). Verse 12 isn’t describing regeneration it is talking about our justification and adoption into God’s family – men believe and are consequently saved, no arguments there, the following verse (13) however then gives us the cause for that belief, if you actually just follow the grammar its easy to see that what is being described in verse 13 (birth) preceded the resultant action in verse 12 (belief & justification), if you don’t understand that then I am afraid you may not have been paying attention in your grammar lessons at school. John concludes by stating that this birth was not as a result of Man’s will, which is kind of the exact opposite to what you are trying to tell us.

      Soli Deo Gloria

      • sbcissues says:

        Jof

        Interesting conclusion that one MUST bring to this text because you will NOT take your regeneration before believe FROM this text.

        (11)”He [Jesus] came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. (12) But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1: 11-13)

        You conclude, “(13) however then gives us the cause for that belief, if you actually just follow the grammar its easy to see that what is being described in verse 13 (birth) preceded the resultant action in verse 12 (belief & justification),

        Interesting indeed. For what I read verse 12 it says all who RECEIVED HIM, how? By believing God gave the right to become the children of God. Those who WERE BORN were those who believed and not the other way around as you suggest. They were born not of their own desires, their own efforts but because of the provisions God established in Christ on the cross.

        I am sorry but your grammar argument has more holes in it than Carter has liver pills.

      • Jof says:

        Actually SBC it has nothing to do with “needing” regeneration to precede belief, it was a matter of simply following the grammar, a point which you didn’t even attempt to refute apart from saying ‘I don’t read it that way’ as if language and the rules which govern it are somehow subjective…a rather odd hermeneutic to say the least. You responded by again regurgitating the same old category error where you are unable to differentiate between unique events, Adoption is not regeneration, being baptised with the Holy Spirit is not regeneration being imputed with Christ’s righteousness is not regeneration, over and over again you fail to distinguish between distinct concepts and as a result are completely confused by the plain exegesis of scripture by those that do. I would also suggest that you may need to go back and see what I stated about the disciples as you seemingly missed the point, it’s obvious that these were regenerate men yet they were not indwelt by the spirit until Pentecost, clearly demonstrating two distinct events, which in your theology is impossible given that you can’t separate those categories i.e. to be regenerated is to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit in your thinking so I would love to hear your explanation of this apparent contradiction to your position.

      • sbcissues says:

        Jof,

        My comments were in response to your statement, “the following verse (13) however then gives us the cause for that belief, if you actually just follow the grammar its easy to see that what is being described in verse 13 (birth) preceded the resultant action in verse 12 (belief & justification), if you don’t understand that then I am afraid you may not have been paying attention in your grammar lessons at school.”

        My response to your comment was, “For what I read verse 12 it says all who RECEIVED HIM, how? By believing God gave the right to become the children of God. Those who WERE BORN were those who believed and not the other way around as you suggest.” Now you may not agree with WHAT I said but to state that I did not “refute” your statement is incorrect. I did offer a differing look at the text you referenced.

        As for your reference to the situation concerning the disciples, you state, “it’s obvious that these were regenerate men yet they were not indwelt by the spirit until Pentecost, ”

        Well I disagree with what you consider OBVIOUS… in that I do not see the disciples as regenerate men. In the first place, I would argue that they were in the same boat Abraham was in; looking forward to the promises of God. I would also challenge you or anyone else to show me where they were regenerated to follow Christ as opposed to them hearing His voice to come and follow Him. I suppose you could argue that is the effectual call ( that is probably how I would answer that if I were a calvinist) but it is not a convincing argument as I see it and one again that you would have to bring to the text as opposed to lifting it from the text.

        So what you see as a contradiction is really more of a rebuttal of your position from my perspective. I do not believe the Scriptures justify a total depravity/ inability position nor a regeneration prior to repentance and believing faith proposition as calvinism contends.

        I realize from your perspective my position is contradictory; understand that from my perspective yours is in error.

      • james jordan says:

        “what a shame I was hoping you would get to the very next verse!”

        What amazes me on the next verse is how you guys don’t know Greek very well. There’s something about Greek, or at least Semitic Greek or Greek the way the New Testament writers use it, that is very interesting. And you can actually pick up on it reading the KJV — you don’t even have to actually be reading the Greek to figure it out.

        I mean look at the passage where Paul tells Timothy he no longer need to drink only water, but can take a little wine for his stomach’s sake. How does he word that in Greek??????

        “Drink no longer water, but take a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your oft infirmities.”

        What happened to the word “only”? Why goodness me oh my its missing!

        So the apostles happen to write like this a lot. “Not born of the will of man” and so on in the next verse can therefore be interpreted “not only of the will of man.” They very often leave out the word only. We know Paul leaves it out when saying “justified by faith” and we know its Protestant tradition to add that only back in because we just know he meant “faith only” although he only writes “faith” because that’s how they tend to write.

        So, here also, we know there is an “only” implied that he didn’t bother to actually write.

  12. Bob Wheeler says:

    Suffice it to say here that I have never heard a Calvinist, or anyone else for that matter, say that “the gospel is not the message, the gospel is the predestination itself.”
    To return to the Shorter Catechism’s definition of “effectual calling,” we all agree that the Holy Spirit convinces the sinner of his sin and misery, but what about the other two points? Does the Holy Spirit “enlighten his mind in the knowledge of Christ” and “renew his will”?

    • sbcissues says:

      Bob… the problem is that calvinism does not claim the Holy Spirit “convinces the unregenerate of ANYTHING.” That is my point. I don’t care what the catechisms say… I am talking about total depravity and inability and the necessity of regeneration BEFORE one can respond to the gospel… that is really so simple it begs being repeated and then ignored.

  13. Jof says:

    Hi SBC
    Actually there are numerous passages that show that the supernatural act of regeneration is the cause of people’s faith and not the result of it.

    And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. (Eze 11:19-20 ESV)

    Here we have an Old Testament text that Jesus probably had in mind when he scolded Nicodemus for not being familiar with the concept of new birth –
    …are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? (John 3:10 ESV)
    Is the text stated above, (which is repeated in Ezekiel 36:26) giving a condition that the recipients were to offer so that they could obtain this new birth? no, to the contrary the text states that it is the supernatural act which is the cause of those persons then following after their God not the other way around as you continually assert-

    ..that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them.

    It’s also worth noting that the immediate context of those that would receive this “new spirit” were actually Jewish exiles that God was promising to return to Israel centuries before Christ was manifest in the flesh. I only add that as it is clearly problematic to your own position that believers from the OT like Abraham and even the disciples prior to Pentecost were not regenerated, an assertion that is easily demonstrated as false by this and many other texts such as Psalm 51:11 or 1 Peter 1:10-12 for example.

    In the third chapter of John’s gospel we again see the same absence of any action being ascribed to the recipient prior to experiencing this new birth. Jesus rather than list repentance and belief as the conditions by which man can secure this miraculous act, uses a remarkable analogy to describe this supernatural event, comparing it to the wind where he states-

    Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:7-8 ESV)

    The whole point of this analogy is that it removes any thought that man’s will is the determining factor in this new birth, would the first century mind really have understood this the way Arminian’s do today –

    “Well yes Jesus I know that the wind seems to do whatever it wishes and I can’t control it, but if I do X,Y or Z I can cause that wind to start blowing in my direction!…”

    Of course the answer is no! I would also suggest that the concept of ‘new birth’ loses any logical meaning when you assign the one who has not been born yet some power or determination in actuating their own birth. Would any reasonable person suggest that they were conceived as a result of something they did or willed? Again clearly the answer is no, unless of course you have a motivation to deny the plain meaning and logic of the illustration being utilized here.

    Such preposterous thinking only highlights the great lengths the creature will go to lay his claim no matter how small on that which is solely and uniquely God’s work, an anthropocentric philosophy which incidentally is a common characteristic of all man’s religious systems.

    John writes these words-

    … everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1Jo 2:29 ESV)

    Would any Christian dare assert that the verse above is stating that we practiced righteousness and a result were then born again? No of course not, we all understand the grammar and recognize that the text is stating that the result of our being born again is that we will practice righteousness, yet if you go a few verses later, the same writer in the same letter uses the exact periphrastic construction again, this time stating –

    Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God (1Jo 5:1 ESV)

    The Armininan at this point has to reverse their use of grammar to avoid the obvious implication – if you use the same hermeneutic that you did in 2:29 you would interpret this verse how? That the belief is the result of being born again, but you can’t agree with that and as a result of your presupposition you reverse the obvious order that the grammar necessitates.

    There are also many passages that demonstrate that our works and deeds pleasing to a Holy God are as a result of being born anew, for example-

    Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; (1Pe 1:22-23 ESV)
    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1Jo 4:7 ESV)
    We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him. (1Jo 5:18 ESV)

    Obviously we have little argument with any of these texts, I only quote them to ask what is the most fundamental aspect of all the actions that we perform towards God the action of which, unless it is involved, invalidates all of the good works above, the answer is obviously faith, as Paul writes-

    For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. (Rom 14:23 ESV)

    My question to you is why the need to be regenerated at all? If man naturally has faith without the need of a new birth to obtain it then why not just circumvent that particular aspect and go straight to justification by faith? why do the writers occasion the works listed above all done in faith, as a result of regeneration? you would have us believe that faith is in the very power and inclination of the natural men, yet the bible states very clearly that it is not, that men have to be given faith, which obviously undercuts your assertion that it is just something we simply turn on or off as our natural disposition would dictate,

    …each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Rom 12:3 ESV)
    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8 ESV)
    For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (Phi 1:29 ESV)
    And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Act 13:48 ESV)

    The answer to the question “why the need for regeneration” is pounded again and again into the understanding of all those that take the bible at its word by the writers of the scriptures, throughout both the Old and New Testament, no more forcefully I would think than the Apostle Paul himself in his letter to the Romans. The answer of course is that man is not naturally inclined to God rather he is an enemy of God-

    For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (Rom 5:10 ESV)

    …unable to understand the gospel-

    The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1Co 2:14 ESV)

    …spiritually dead and incapable of obeying God-

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1 ESV)
    For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Rom 8:7 ESV)

    …or indeed even unable to come to Christ unless God supernaturally intervenes-

    No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44 ESV)

    Man needs to be quickened because in his natural state he is hopelessly lost and floundering in his sin, unable and unwilling to come to Christ.

    Whilst I am sure you will deny just about everything I have said, I think it is evident that one position takes in all of what the scriptures state and draws their conclusion from that, the other will chop up the bible into little bite sized pieces not dealing with the implications of their interpretation and refusing to acknowledge the possibility that there position may be wrong…I think I will leave it to your readers to decide which method I have engaged in over the course of these responses.

    Finally to all those that deny that it is solely by God’s supernatural quickening that you repented and believed and as a result were saved, what ultimately is the difference between you and that person down the street that will die in their sin, if you espouse the position that God gave both the same amount of grace, love and ability to respond then the answer inevitably must be something in you.

    For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1Co 4:7 ESV)

    Soli Deo Gloria

    • sbcissues says:

      Jof,

      I guess perhaps the saddest statement that has actually been written to me since I have undertaken this role in blogging may well be found in yours here.

      You wrote: “Whilst I am sure you will deny just about everything I have said, I think it is evident that one position takes in all of what the scriptures state and draws their conclusion from that, the other will chop up the bible into little bite sized pieces not dealing with the implications of their interpretation and refusing to acknowledge the possibility that there position may be wrong…”

      First of all, my goal has nothing to do with disagreeing with you or anyone else. I believe the Scriptures are God’s Word to each of us and perhaps that is the beauty of what God did as He gave us His Word as He did, knowing that there would be theological discussions debating His character and activity in the world He Himself created and placed us in.

      AS I have said on numerous occasions, we may well both be wrong and no doubt we are to some degree no matter which side we fall on the calvinism issue. However, one thing is absolutely clear; we cannot both be right about the instructions and implications of calvinism. I am sure your analogy of one chopping up the Bible and not dealing with the implications of their interpretations and refusing to acknowledge the possibility that their position might be wrong cannot be a self reflection but the truth is you are absolutely correct. One of us is terribly guilty of doing exactly what you have suggested.

      Just know that in all fairness for every text that you present there are 10 that are problematic. In addition to the number of texts that simply do not support a calvinistic approach to the Scriptures, there are differing interpretations to the passages you cite that do not support your deterministic picture and portrayal of God but that is your prerogative; just understand your reasoning does not the support the open and closed arguments that you seem to suggest.

      I apologize for being argumentative; that is really not my intention at all and as you stated, my goal is to share my perspective and to learn from the process of blogging because here we do have the luxury of dealing with a number of different looks at the Scripture; some are more valid than others and I do give every argument presented every consideration and the process has been of enormous value to me personally.

      However, I also am grateful for the dialogue for as you say, people can read our respective positions and make up their minds as to what the Scripture actually teaches and I am grateful that every day people end up at this site from google or yahoo and 15-25 of my articles are read daily by someone seeking answers and that is a great blessing.

      Thank you for taking the time and the thought to share your perspective.

      • Jof says:

        Well stated brother and a more than gracious response. I also appreciate the interaction, defending our particular perspectives is I agree an act of learning as much as it is re-affirming. Thank you for your kind words again. God bless.

  14. Bob Wheeler says:

    As for “chopping up the Bible into bite size pieces,” I do think that most modern opponents of Calvinism are usually only looking at part of the picture, and are not taking into consideration the whole counsel of God on the subject.
    I also find that Arminians and Hypercalvinists have one thing in common: they will begin with a premise, and then reason deductively to a conclustion. The Hypercalvinist reasons like this: God is sovereign and does exactly as He pleases. He does not save everyone. Therefore He does not desire the salvation of everyone. The Arminian reasons like this: The Bible teaches free will; therefore the Bible does not teach predestination. The problem here is that Romans 9 quite explicitly teaches predestination. I think that you will find that the better Calvinist writers, such as James P. Boyce of Southern Baptist Seminary, take the authority of Scripture as the inspired Word of God seriously, and make an honest effort to look at all of what it says on a given subject, even if they can’t quite make it all fit together. But since God is infinite and we are not, it is to be expected that we won’t understand everything.

    • Jof says:

      Hi Bob,

      Yeah I think you are spot on, there is a real danger especially in regards to the decree of God and how this interacts with man’s choices that many want to take one or the other. I think its pretty clear from texts like Romans 9, Isaiah 10:5-16 , Genesis 50:20 and Acts 4:27-28 that we see what I guess we as reformed folk would view as a compatibleness view. I like the phrase that the reformers coined “tota scriptura” or to take all of scripture as the basis for our theological views. I am with you brother that I have to recognise that their is both the eternal decree of God which determines these things and on the other side the free choices of man, its there and we can’t just ignore one or the other because we don’t understand how it all works. I guess it’s a case of-

      The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us… (Deut 29:29 ESV)

      I hope you have a blessed Sunday.

      Soli Deo Gloria

    • james jordan says:

      “As for ‘chopping up the Bible into bite size pieces,’ I do think that most modern opponents of Calvinism are usually only looking at part of the picture, and are not taking into consideration the whole counsel of God on the subject.”

      That’s funny considering its Calvinists who use the Bible like a set of disjointed fortune cookies.

      Where do you guys begin? With the notion that God only gave the Law to prove to the poor Jews that they couldn’t keep it.

      And where is this notion in the Law? Nowhere. Where is it in the prophets? Nowhere. The last last prophet, and the last book of the OT as the Christian canon orders them, is Malachi, and what is the last thing he says? “Haha! You couldn’t keep the Law?” NOPE! CERTAINLY NOT! What then does he say?

      “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments…..”

      You would think the last prophet would take this opportunity to say “Haha! You couldn’t keep it.”

      So you Calvinists, in good ole Marcionite fashion, reject everything the Law and the OT say about the Law and base all your theology of the Law on one out of joint ripped out of context and misinterpreted passage in Paul. What passage is that? Well, I’ll tell you.

      Galatians 3:19 “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions….”

      This passage, which clearly to any sane person means that God gave the Law to put a check on transgressions, to lower the level of transgression, you reword and interpret in a crazy way as if it had said “the Law was given to cause transgressions” and then ALL OF YOUR SYSTEM proceeds from here. Way to take in the “whole picture” dude!

      • Jof says:

        Hi James,
        I’m not sure where you get the idea that Calvinists or any Christian for that matter teaches that the purpose of the law was to cause people to sin.

        I can only assume from your comments that you may be confusing Paul’s statement in Romans that the Law makes our sin manifest when he states-

        For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. (Rom 7:5 ESV)

        He then qualifies exactly what he is saying by stating that he doesn’t mean that the law causes our sin but rather it is through the law that we know that it is sin-

        What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. (Rom 7:7-8 ESV)

        Paul goes onto say that our inability to keep the law is not the failing of the law itself but our own fallen nature-

        The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (Rom 7:10-13 ESV)

        He concludes his thought with this lamentation-

        Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom 7:24 ESV)

        The answer is Christ, and he continues with two of the most comforting texts in all of scripture (in my opinion)-

        There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom 8:1-4 ESV)

        For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39 ESV)

        As far as the book of Galatians goes it’s an apologetic against the Jews who were coming into the Church and demanding obedience to the law as a requirement for their continuing justification with God. The problem comes when people read Paul’s statements in Galatians like-

        But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Gal 5:18 ESV)

        …and jump to the other end of the spectrum and start flouting antinomianism, when if you understand the context that Paul is writing in he is not stating that Christians shouldn’t pursue righteousness or desire to grow in their sanctification he is anathematising those that were trying to supplement justification by faith with an additional requirement that they had to keep the law, for as Paul elsewhere states-

        For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight (Rom 3:20 ESV)

        So the balance is obviously that Christians should pursue those things that are pleasing to God yet as a result of our love for Christ and not as the Galatians who were doing so in a fleshly self-righteous attempt to justify themselves by the law.

        I’m not sure I know any Calvinists or non-reformed people that would have such a one dimensional view of the law as you accuse Calvinists of having. I think most Christians acknowledge that the law first and foremost is a reflection of the Holy and Righteous character of God, and that secondly it was meant to drive us towards a perfect saviour who accomplished something that we could not-

        So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Gal 3:24 ESV)

        There are also many categories when we talk about the law, for example the sacrificial system, the moral code and those laws specific to the Jews such as the way they would cut their beards, what they would eat etc.

        I would certainly assert that the moral code is just as relevant today as it was when it was given, however the sacrificial system was a shadow of the perfect lamb who was slain being fulfilled in Christ’s atoning work on Calvary (read Hebrews). Similarly many of those precepts that were designed to preserve the unique culture of the Jews and distinguish them as the people of God from the idolatrous people groups around them are such that we wouldn’t be looking to replicate them in a Christian context which I think is consistent with what the NT teaches in places like Romans 14 for example.

        I hope that clarifies some of your misunderstandings. I was also wondering what type of church you attend? Are you Baptist, Catholic, Seventh day Adventist etc. I only ask as it would make understanding your position a little easier.

        I also wanted to ask you to consider Peter’s exhortation regarding the way that we should interact with people when defending our faith.

        …always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (1Pe 3:15 ESV)

        God bless.
        Soli Deo Gloria

  15. Bob Wheeler says:

    James,
    I think you’re confusing Calvinism with Dispensationalism. If anything, Reformed theology is vulnerable to the criticism that it paper over the differences between the Old and New Covenants. It is Dispensationalism that is notorious for “rightly dividing the word,” i.e. dividing it up into separated dispensations.
    I would also like to know where you are coming from theologically.

    • james jordan says:

      Perhaps its a distinction between Baptist Calvinists and Presbyterians, because I know most Baptist Calvinists assert the Law was given merely to prove that the Law could not be kept as well as to increase sin. But I think even Presbyterians are found contradicting themselves and teaching the same at times. So all your outrage is fake, whether you are Baptist Calvinists or Presbyterians. You know you teach this. You’re just upset at how well I dealt the death-blow to your false doctrine, and must pretend that you don’t teach it.

      • Jof says:

        Hi James,

        I’m not sure how valuable, or to be honest convincing, anything you just said in your comments were. Firstly to continue to assert that reformed people believe something that we clearly don’t without any evidence and in light of a fair and reasonable explanation of what we do believe is rather hard to follow.

        Simply stating “you know you teach this” isn’t much of an argument, nor does it appear to be a logical criteria for demonstrating a “killer blow” to someone’s (perceived) theology.
        I think if you are really sincere in regards to having a civil biblical discussion, then can I suggest it would be quite beneficial to provide the following-

        1. Evidence from any reformed confession or writings that clearly state that the only function of the law was to show man’s inability to obey it and to increase sin.
        2. A positive biblical presentation of your understanding of the functions (plural) of the law.
        3. An answer to the question regarding your beliefs i.e. what Church or group do you belong to?

        I look forward to your response.
        God bless
        Soli Deo Gloria

        P.S For the record I am a Presbyterian.

        For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17 ESV)

  16. Bob Wheeler says:

    The London Baptist Confession is in substantial agreement with the Westminster Confession on the Law of God. Both confessions distinguish between the moral, civil and ceremonial laws, and hold that the moral law is still universally binding.
    For the record, I am basically a Reformed Baptist, although I am currently attending an informal house church fellowship.

    • james jordan says:

      What the confessions acknowledge and what the layman says to me are never the same, so I ignore the confessions. Calvinism is whatever the layman explains it t be, and all the Calvinist laymen in the SBC seem to be in agreement that the purpose of the Law is to cause sin and in turn prove that the Law cannot be kept.

  17. sbcissues says:

    Guys,

    I am not really sure what James is trying to say when he wrote, “This passage, which clearly to any sane person means that God gave the Law to put a check on transgressions, to lower the level of transgression.”

    I am not really even sure what the purpose of the Law really even has any relevance on the discussion of total depravity and the salvific work of God in our lives. The Law certainly plays an important role in identifying our sin and our transgression of the Law and our inability to keep the Law since breaking one Law makes us Lawbreakers and therefore in need of a Savior. Jesus fulfilled that Law as the incarnate and therefore could be a suitable sacrifice for the sin of the world and God in His righteousness and justice kept the demands He Himself placed on those who break His Law, that being the wages of sin is death.

    I certainly do not see any “death blow” to the calvinist position in anything that James has said with respect to the Law or its purpose. I will also say if what James is contending that the purpose of the Law is to curb or to “put a check on transgression” then something is terribly wrong because that has certainly not been the case, as I see it.

    • james jordan says:

      ”I am not really even sure what the purpose of the Law really even has any relevance on the discussion of total depravity and the salvific work of God in our lives.”

      The purpose of the Law has everything to do with everyone. If you can’t figure that one out, all your theology is just throwing darts randomly against a wall.

    • james jordan says:

      “I will also say if what James is contending that the purpose of the Law is to curb or to “put a check on transgression” then something is terribly wrong because that has certainly not been the case, as I see it.”

      Well with a theology that denies this is the purpose of the Law, of course sin will not be checked by the Law. For this purpose to work it must be recognized. We can see that it did work for the Jews from the fact that even those who deny this purpose of the Law will acknowledge the transgression of the Jews (in the moral arena) were always less than those of their Pagan contemporaries. To some extent this is true of Christianity too, or has been up until very recently, when the hatred of the Law and the love of Calvinist stupidity has hit a fever pitch, resulting in there being no difference between Christian and atheist in most denominations.

      • Jof says:

        Hi James

        I think you are losing most people by the illogic of your argument here, you have asserted that Calvinists believe certain things about the law, it has been demonstrated to you that Calvinism does not teach what you are claiming it does. If you have spoken with Calvinists who are ignorant or have misunderstandings regarding the law then what exactly does that prove? I guess that means there are Calvinists who are immature or have a rather underdeveloped theology, is that not true about Christians from all traditions? Would it be reasonable for me to claim that I have spoken with Arminians from the SBC who believe in a form of modalism so therefore Arminian doctrine teaches modalism and denies the doctrine of the trinity? A rather odd basis of argumentation, to say the least.

        It would really surprise me if you have taken the time to read any reformed confession in its entirety given your comment “I don’t care what they say”, regardless, here is what the London Baptist Confession of 1689 states on the law-

        “The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof, and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it; neither doth Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.”
        (Romans 13:8-10; James 2:8, 10-12; James 2:10, 11; Matthew 5:17-19; Romans 3:31)

        “Although true believers be not under the law as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified or condemned, yet it is of great use to them as well as to others, in that as a rule of life, informing them of the will of God and their duty, it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their natures, hearts, and lives, so as examining themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against, sin; together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ and the perfection of his obedience; it is likewise of use to the regenerate to restrain their corruptions, in that it forbids sin; and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve, and what afflictions in this life they may expect for them, although freed from the curse and unallayed rigour thereof. The promises of it likewise shew them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof, though not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works; so as man’s doing good and refraining from evil, because the law encourageth to the one and deterreth from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law and not under grace.”
        (Romans 6:14; Galatians 2:16; Romans 8:1; Romans 10:4; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7, etc; Romans 6:12-14; 1 Peter 3:8-13)

        “Neither are the aforementioned uses of the law contrary to the grace of the Gospel, but do sweetly comply with it, the Spirit of Christ subduing and enabling the will of man to do that freely and cheerfully which the will of God, revealed in the law, requireth to be done.”
        (Galatians 3:21; Ezekiel 36:27)

        In regards to you statement-

        “We can see that it did work for the Jews from the fact that even those who deny this purpose of the Law will acknowledge the transgression of the Jews (in the moral arena) were always less than those of their Pagan contemporaries.”
        I’m not exactly sure how one would prove that statement unless of course you claim to have some infallible knowledge of what has been in the heart of every Jew and Gentile since the inception of the law. And to be honest I couldn’t care less about having a debate with you or anyone else regarding who was more righteous, kind of seems like missing the point.

        What I do know however is a pretty good rule for determining if one has a sound theological position or is in fact in error, and that is if you find yourself on the wrong side of a particular argument that an inspired writer of the scriptures has made, then you may need to check your conclusion. Case in point the very assertion you are making is one that the Apostle himself deals with in his letter to the Romans chapter 2.
        He begins in the first chapter laying out how the gentiles were not excused for their rebellion despite the fact that they were not given the law, as Paul explains it-

        For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
        (Rom 1:19-20 ESV)

        What is interesting, is that the very claim you are making that the Jews were somehow less sinful because they had the law, Paul anticipates this very argument and then goes on to tell the Jews that they were just as sinful, just as guilty and in some ways more culpable given the amazing privilege they had in being Yahweh’s special covenantal people and possessing his revealed word-

        Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.
        (Rom 2:1 ESV)

        Do you suppose, O man–you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself–that you will escape the judgment of God? (Rom 2:3 ESV)

        You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
        (Rom 2:23-24 ESV)

        Paul then goes on in the third chapter to conclude his argument by utilizing several Old Testament references in regards to the character and inability of man to do that which is pleasing to God-

        What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
        (Rom 3:9-18 ESV)

        Paul leaves no doubt that this is not a description of some people, “well some people seek God or some nations do good” – rather he concludes his argument before leading into his presentation of the gospel by assigning the conditions described as being descriptive of every person, for as he states-

        …so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. (Rom 3:19 ESV)

        I suggest if you don’t agree James take you time and just read Romans starting in chapter one and all the way through to the end in one sitting, its one long incredible discussion on man, sin, law, gospel, salvation, election and the Christian life. You are right on one thing James, we have many in the Church that disdain, ridicule and minimize the law of God, we should love it, but we often don’t, may God grant us all a character that views the law in all its glory, a wonderful reflection of an infinitely Holy God, may it become the impetus to pursue that which is pleasing to our Father and serve as the ever present backdrop illuminating the majesty of Christ’s work in accomplishing something that we could never achieve ourselves.

        Solus Christus

        God bless

        In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1Jo 4:10 ESV)

      • Les Prouty says:

        Jof,

        I have been engaged here before with several, including James. Been in Haiti for almost a week and have missed some of these comments. But may I say that you have eviscerated James’ arguments. Thank you for articulating the truth so well. I’m Presbyterian as well, PCA.

      • sbcissues says:

        Welcome back… hope your trip was a great one. eviscerated…. mighty big word there chief.

      • Good to be back Bob. Yeah, I’m just a country boy. Had to look it up.

      • james jordan says:

        Your averag SBC Calvinists has never read any Reformed confession. I’ve read them. I’ve read Calvin’s Institutes. I’ve read bits of Turretin’s Institutes. But Baptist Calvinist is cowboy Calvinism and to understand it you have to just ask the Calvinists to tell you what they believe. They aren’t confessional Calvinists. Some like to pretend to be, but they are clueless.

  18. Gary says:

    How many steps did you complete to receive the “free gift” of Salvation?

    Is this a “free” gift?

    I tell my child that I have an incredible gift for him. However, in order for the gift to be his, he must:

    1. apologize for his bad behavior and sincerely mean it.
    2. he must commit to change his ways and follow MY ways for the rest of his life.
    3. he must make a decision that he WANTS my gift.
    4. he must then approach me, hold out his hands, ask me for the gift, and cooperate with me, as I place the gift into his hands.

    If he does all this, he will receive his gift. But…if he chooses to reject my gift, I will damn him to HELL!

    Now is this “gift” really a gift…or a REWARD for making the right decision?

    No, that is NOT a gift.
    .
    This is a gift: “Dear Son, I have a gift for you. Here it is. I love you more than words can describe”, and then I place the gift in my son’s lap. No strings attached. The gift is his. He did nothing to receive it. I did everything.

    THAT is a gift!

    So what is God’s free gift? It is the whole salvation package: faith, belief, repentance, forgiveness of sins, atonement, and eternal life. It is ALL free… to those whom God has predestined, before the world existed, for reasons we do not know, to be his children.

    • james jordan says:

      Gary I sent you a gift in the mail. Just make sure to open it. Oh, and some assembly required. Make sure to put the batteries in. Otherwise it will not work as intended.

      (Legal disclaimer: I didn’t actually send anything. Its a joke.)

      • Jof says:

        Oh no Gary’s dead!!!! I guess you will have to bring him back to life first otherwise its unlikely he’ll be in any condition to follow your instructions….

      • Les Prouty says:

        “I guess you will have to bring him back to life first otherwise its unlikely he’ll be in any condition to follow your instructions….”

        That is the absolute beauty of grace. Spiritually dead, hell bound sinners unable and unwilling to look to Jesus…well, God comes and breathes life into them and gives them something they totally do not deserve and would never on their own pursue, a relationship with God.

      • james jordan says:

        Gary’s only on death row. I’ll have to make sure to send the gift to the prison. I guess the one I sent to his home address won’t make it to him.

        (Disclaimer: I didn’t send anything.)

      • JJ, therein is your problem. You have man pre conversion, in his natural state, as one who is alive. He has some spiritual life in your scenario. He is not spiritually dead needing a resurrection from his spiritually dead state.

        Keep reading and studying and seeking God.

      • sbcissues says:

        Not so fast there buckwheat. We BOTH know this issue of being spiritually dead needing a resurrection from his spiritually dead state has more than one interpretation and application.

        You maintain that resurrection or new life is necessary for someone to repent; I maintain repentance and faith bring that resurrection or new life. You are not going to get away with throwing the baby out with the bathwater that easy.

      • Bob,

        I always liked Little Rascals.

        On this death thing and needing resurrection, yes, that’s a sticking point between us.

        1. I just have a hard time understanding how you get around “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…” What kind of dead is that if not spiritual death? The kind that leaves one blind and dumb, unable to see or hear spiritual things spiritually. Notice I didn’t say unable to hear spiritual things at all. Plenty of atheists can recite scripture and quote an EE presentation. But their being able to see and hear intellectually is not the same as hearing spiritually in the heart.

        2. You and apparently JJ seem to believe natural man has at least enough life to reach out to God before being born again. We call that where I’m from “bass ackwards.” At least that’s the clean version.

        I still think you guys have failed to articulate a coherent understanding of just how the Spirit works in or on a natural man and that natural man’s condition. For you, man’s natural free will seems to be THE determination of man’s eternal destiny. You end up where man saves himself or at a minimum contributes to his salvation and salvation by grace alone is tossed.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        I think the key to understanding verse 1 that you quote is found in verse 5 which Paul repeats… 5 “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—” those who have not been made alive in Christ are dead in their trespass and sin.

        Funny thing is this idea of total inability is sort of challenged in verse 2 and following: following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

        Look we are all following someone… and if we do not have the Spirit dwelling in our hearts then we are dead in our trespass and sin… why because the wages of sin is death. This passage is not a proof text for total depravity or inability.

        Here is what I believe… God has chosen to reveal Himself to us in His Word and the proclamation of the gospel; revelation demands a response. God has also chosen to reconcile the world unto Himself; reconciliation demands a response. That is simple enough that anyone can understand it.

        My response does not take away from God’s Amazing Grace; my response does not rob God of His sovereignty in salvation or conversion; I dont like the discussion of free will; that has all kinds of implications that I can care less about debating.

        What I do believe is that it is clear God has given man the choice to choose; he had no choice in that. God did it. God also gave man the consequences of the choices He makes. Man had no choice in that. God’s choice for our eternity is based on our choice concerning the Christ. What is so difficult with that concept? Seems simple enough for me.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        The verses still stand. You said nothing to refute spiritual deadness requiring regeneration. Dead things can’t choose life. They will continue in their darkness and blindness and deafness until and unless someone else quickens them and opens their eyes, etc. This is supported by scripture.

        Your view, as you said, “God has given man the choice to choose; he had no choice in that. God did it. God also gave man the consequences of the choices He makes. Man had no choice in that. God’s choice for our eternity is based on our choice concerning the Christ. What is so difficult with that concept? Seems simple enough for me.”

        Yes it simple. And the words you wrote are not difficult. The problem is the concept you put forth is not supported by scripture. It’s just not there brother.

  19. Bob Wheeler says:

    James,
    I would still like to know what your religious background and current affiliation is are. In perusing your blog I notice that you reject the authority of the Pauline epistles and the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Are you in any way connected with David Bercot? The Jehovah’s Witnesses?

  20. Jof says:

    Hey Les,

    Cheers for the kind words matey, I too had to google “eviscerate”….

    e·vis·cer·ate (-vs-rt)
    v. e·vis·cer·at·ed, e·vis·cer·at·ing, e·vis·cer·ates

    v.tr.
    1. To remove the entrails of; disembowel.
    2. To take away a vital or essential part of: a compromise that eviscerated the proposed bill.
    3. Medicine
    a. To remove the contents of (an organ).
    b. To remove an organ, such as an eye, from (a patient).

    …couldn’t get past the first one I was laughing so hard….lol!!

    I hope your trip went well, all for the glory of God!
    God bless

    Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15a ESV)

  21. Jof says:

    Hi SBC,

    I have to admit I found your exegesis of the Ephesians passage odd. The passage states the following-

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
    But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together (Eph 2:1-5 ESV)

    You stated that the key to understanding the passage or at least in regards to the natural man’s ability is found in verse 2-

    “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…”

    I’m not sure how being under the controlling influence of Satan and being a Child of wrath does anything to support your assertion of man’s innate freedom or willingness to come to Christ. The text is rather plain there are two groups or classes of people being described, those that have been made alive in Christ and those that are dead in their sins, the latter Paul applies to everyone in their natural state, this is consistent with his statement in Romans 5 where he talks about the two “humanities” (those in Adam and those in Christ)

    …Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. (Rom 5:18 ESV)

    I can only assume from what you have said that you believe that because the word “spirit” is being used that this translates to man somehow being in a spiritual neutral position, where he can make the right choice but often will make the wrong one. That’s a rather strange conclusion to make from that passage I must say, as the first three verses are describing the deficiency of man in doing good, Paul connects this with verse 4-

    “But God…”

    The thrust of the text now turns towards God doing something and man being the passive recipient of that work, you just need to follow the verbs – He made us alive, He raised us, He seated us, and as if to leave no doubt in the minds of his audience he then states-

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
    not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

    So I’m amazed that anyone could look at that whole passage and attempt to draw from it a conclusion regarding the liberty and ability of the natural man’s, it’s just not there, it’s a wonderful demonstration of God doing and man receiving, and to attempt to drive from the passage anything else is the definition of isegesis.

    Furthermore Calvinists don’t state that this is a proof text of man’s inability in the sense that everything that we know about the natural man’s ability is contained there, we simply draw attention to the state of the natural man as defined by the apostle, he states that man is dead, we would then logically ask the question “well what does that mean to be dead?”, we can then go to many other passages that give a more detailed description of what this “deadness” means in a salvific context, and I would suggest the first port of call would be walking through the most explicit passage that deals with that question by the same author which is Romans chapters 1-3.

    Finally your statement that – “God’s choice for our eternity is based on our choice concerning the Christ” is again rather hard to reconcile with the overwhelming evidence of scriptures when dealing with the topic of predestination, I mean exactly where is the text that says God predestined us because we first chose him. The idea that you are promoting isn’t even logical, why would God need to choose someone if they have already or are going to choose him to begin with. Aside from being illogical it’s again the exact opposite of what the scriptures teach on that topic-

    And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom 8:30 ESV)

    …he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Eph 1:5 ESV)

    In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph 1:11 ESV)

    And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Act 13:48 ESV)

    All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV)

    …though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls (Rom 9:11 ESV)

    In every passage the cause is first and foremost God, yet you would attempt to assert that it is the very opposite.

    No Calvinist that I know would ever claim that man is without choices, or that in a natural sense all types of men don’t make certain moral decisions, we all can respond to the gospel, but failing God quickening us and gives us a new heart and new desires our choice to obey that first commandment to love the Lord thy God will “only be evil continually” and the response therefore that the natural man will always demonstrate will be to reject the gospel.

    Every believer that finds themselves in Christ has made a decision from their own volition to repent and believe, the difference between us is not that, the dividing line is that when I look at my neighbour who has rejected the gospel and on his current trajectory will end up in hell and I consider my own acceptance of the gospel, I know that the difference in our responses did not ultimately flow from me but in the God who caused me to live and gifted me with faith so that I could willingly choose life rather than death. That is not Calvinism that is the very essence and heart of a gospel of grace.

    In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1Jo 4:10 ESV)

    God bless

    Sola Gratia

    • sbcissues says:

      Jof,

      I did NOT say… You stated that the key to understanding the passage or at least in regards to the natural man’s ability is found in verse 2-

      I said “this idea of total inability is sort of challenged in verse 2 and following:” There is a profound difference in the 2 statements.

      My point was those who were dead were “following the prince of the power of the air”; seems to me following denotes a choice they made; and so Paul says, “among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” What he is saying here is that they who were now saved were guilty of the same thing. My point is, I do not read TD/TI as posited from the calvinist position as you suggest.

      My point is that God gave men choices to make and He also gave them the consequences of their choices. That is either true or it is not; Les suggested that is not Scripturally verifiable; revelation itself demands a response so I believe it is a valid argument. Reconciliation is God’s stated initiative; I believe reconciliation demands a response.

      I never said not implied that man”first chooses God.” That is an argument you bring to my position. God is ALWAYS the initiator of any covenant relationship with man; ALWAYS. It is impossible for a man to take the first step toward God because God has already taken the first step toward man on the cross. Man’s response is ALWAYS a response to God’s initiative. On that we both agree; it is the extent of God’s initiative that we disagree.

      You wrote, “I know that the difference in our responses did not ultimately flow from me but in the God who caused me to live and gifted me with faith so that I could willingly choose life rather than death. That is not Calvinism that is the very essence and heart of a gospel of grace.”

      We disagree. I do not believe God “rebirthed” you to repent; that is a philosophical conclusion that calvinism posits based on the tenets it proffers. I do not believe that is the message the gospel presents. I believe the gospel presents Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross as being sufficient for the salvation of all men but efficient for those who believe. At that point we should agree. It is the work of God on the efficiency that we differ. God is still sovereign in the process; we just disagree on how that sovereignty is demonstrated. Your position is in order for God to be sovereign, man cannot choose. I believe God in His sovereignty gave man the responsibility to choose.

      Even in your arguments of predestination, my position is that for the most part, the Scripture points to that which was predestined were the provisions as opposed to the specific names who would be saved. I believe the term “elect” refers for the most part to “those who believe.” Both are acceptable interpretations and for every passage you want to throw up about God’s selective salvific efforts there are 10+ that point to the universal scope of God’s salvific work in the world.

      Why some do NOT choose Christ is not really the point of the gospel; the point of the gospel is focused on those who DO repent and by faith come to Christ that brings salvation.

      • Jof says:

        Hi SBC

        I’m not sure where you get this idea that Calvinists don’t believe that men make choices or are culpable for the decisions they make, we are not stating that at all, we are simply recognizing the many scriptures that describe the inability of the natural man to make the right choices, those that are pleasing to God which clearly includes belief and repentance unless of course you don’t posit that these are pleasing to God.

        Nothing you wrote in your response dealt with any of the biblical texts written in specific salvific contexts which state things like, man not being able to please God, man being incapable of obeying God, man hating God, man not seeking God, man being unable to come to Christ etc or the numerous passages I quoted where faith is actually not something that the natural man has as a ‘default’ position but that which must be given to him.

        I think Les and myself already knew your position, just repeating it or simply saying I don’t agree because I can interpret it differently is not much of an argument, what I was hoping for was that you would actually demonstrate from the text of scripture, exegetically why we shouldn’t believe those clear didactic statement in regards to man’s inability and many of the surrounding issues.

        I found your statements regarding predestination to be quite inconsistent or at the very least a little difficult to follow,

        “I never said nor implied that man first chooses God…It is impossible for a man to take the first step toward God because God has already taken the first step toward man on the cross.”

        And in your previous response-

        “God’s choice for our eternity is based on our choice concerning the Christ.”

        Well which is it? Did God choose a people from before the foundation of the world based on nothing other than the good pleasure of his will or was it based on your (future) decision? It’s not logical to have two different first causes, either you caused it or God did. To state that this first ‘choice’ is merely that God predestined the cross is to miss the whole context of our discussion; no one is positing that God’s decision to redeem a people by the sacrifice of the lamb did not precede your choice in time to then choose Christ. The question is rather whether or not the basis of your election is solely by God or whether as you have said it is based on what decision you will make in some future time.

        You have stated that the bible teaches that the elect is not personal its corporate, in other words that the elect are not individuals but rather a faceless, nameless people the individual identity of which is not in any way fixed from ‘before the foundation of the world’. You also stated that-

        “the Scripture points to that which was predestined were the provisions as opposed to the specific names who would be saved”

        Where exactly is this non-personal predestination taught in the scriptures?

        And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom 8:30 ESV)

        …he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will (Eph 1:5 ESV)

        In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph 1:11 ESV)

        And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Act 13:48 ESV)

        All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (John 6:37 ESV)

        …though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls (Rom 9:11 ESV)

        Is there any way to read any of those texts with a normative understanding and conclude that the predestination being described is anything but personal? To suggest that the elect can only be corporate is again a rather untenable position; yes it is often used to describe the people of God as a group, however isn’t the most fundamental aspect of that group that it is made up of individuals?

        You also stated that the individual names of the elect, those that were predestined were not fixed before the foundation of the world, I am sorry but you are just plain wrong SBC, according to the scriptures those names have been fixed and not only that they are written in the book of life-

        …and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (Rev 13:8 ESV)

        And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, (Rev 17:8 ESV)

        And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:15 ESV)

        Are we really meant to believe that “names” are not individual that rather there is only one entry that was written and that was “The Plan”. I think once again brother that it is clear from the many passages cited that one of us is taking the bible at its word whilst the other is attempting to assert the exact opposite to what these passages are saying and without any meaningful exegetical argumentation to support it.

        Finally the question of why is it important, should be rather obvious, it is God’s word and our duty as believers first and foremost should be to defend and elevate the truth of scripture above our own creaturely desires, these are not comfortable truths I acknowledge that, they are very difficult and I understand that in our culture the idea of man not being the one in control or this whole story not being centered on him is incredibly odious to most outside and indeed even inside the church, but like it or not those scriptures are there and we are either going to accept all of God’s word for what it says and not just the parts that don’t offend our man-centered sensibilities or we will reject them no matter how clear and perspicuous the texts actually are.

        The question of whether it is God who brings sinners to life so that they can respond to the gospel or whether men can be convinced by some other means is going to be a massive determiner in how we approach our methodology in evangelism and worship and that my friend is an important issue.

        I hope this finds you well Brother,

        God bless

        Post tenebras lux

      • sbcissues says:

        OK…

        Mk 16:15-16
        15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
        16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

        Ac 2:21
        21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’

        Ac 16:30-31
        30 And he brought them out and said,”Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
        31 So they said,”Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

        Ro 10:9
        9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

        Ro 10:13
        13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

        It seems clear enough to me that the Scriptures are crystal clear; we believe and God saves us; it is NOT the other way around.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Jof,

        Brother you have again posted a most excellent response and have biblically…let me see, I already used “eviscerated,” so I’ll say you have biblically decimated Bob’s argument. I really cannot add one thing to what you have written here.

        Bob, I still love ya man.

        Les

      • Jof says:

        cheers bro, and btw thank you for not using eviscerated again, I am still chuckling from the last time lol….definitely won “The Word of the Day”. God bless

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        All the verses you quoted this morning at 7:34am are absolutely wonderful verses. Calvinists 100% agree that “whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.” Amen!

        But you are not dealing with what we are saying. I wrote yesterday, “You said nothing to refute spiritual deadness requiring regeneration. Dead things can’t choose life. They will continue in their darkness and blindness and deafness until and unless someone else quickens them and opens their eyes, etc. ”

        You have yet to deal scripturally with man’s natural inability and unwillingness to “call on the name of the Lord Shall [to] be saved.” Man cannot. He has no desire to call on the name of the Lord in his natural condition. Man is dead to spiritual things and is a God hater.

        And, you did not deal with Jof’s refutation of your statement that “the Scripture points to that which was predestined were the provisions as opposed to the specific names who would be saved.” Jof gave scriptural support for specific and personal election. You replied nothing.

        Brother, you need to not merely assert your theology but scripturally, exegetically prove your assertions.

        Have a blessed day.

  22. Bob Wheeler says:

    Orthodox Calvinists would agree with all of the verses cited by Dr. Hadley. The technical way of phrasing it is that “faith is the instrument of justification. “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and His righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but it ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh in love.” (Westminster Confession, XI.ii). It is a necessary prerequisite to salvation: “To escape the wrath and curse of God due to us for sin, God requireth of us faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.” (Shorter Catechism, Q. 85). And how do we receive faith? “The Spirit of God maketh the reading, but especially the preaching of the word, an effectual means of convincing and converting sinners, and of building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, unto salvation.” (Q. 89). Where, then, is the problem?

    • sbcissues says:

      Bob,

      I don’t have any problem with what you quoted… given a little levity with the wording. Here is my problem where calvinism is concerned. I do not believe it really allows for the last quote dealing with the “effectual means of convincing and converting sinners.”

      I have stated this before in this comment thread I am pretty sure but certainly on others, the gospel CANNOT be the effectual means of convincing… there are a couple problems with that statement;

      First of all, it is God’s effectual call that brings new life to the dead heart and deaf ears… that allow the gospel to THEN be effectual; the preaching of God’s Word cannot be the means of new life; that I believe the Bible teaches is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

      The second problem I have is with the “convincing”. Regeneration MUST be instantaneous; it is impossible to be gradually brought to life… if ears are deaf there is no gradual bringing of sound… so while the confession is a good statement, it is not really consistent with the tenets of calvinism; Jesus did not gradually bring Lazarus to new life; He spoke and Lazarus was immediately alive.

      Do you see my point here?

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob H.,

        Couple of things. You state: “it is God’s effectual call that brings new life to the dead heart and deaf ears… that allow the gospel to THEN be effectual.”

        No, it is God who brings new life. Maybe a definition of effectual calling would be helpful for us here from WCF:

        “All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.”

        You also said, “Regeneration MUST be instantaneous; it is impossible to be gradually brought to life… if ears are deaf there is no gradual bringing of sound… so while the confession is a good statement, it is not really consistent with the tenets of calvinism.”

        More on the effectual call from the WCF: “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.”

        Notice:

        “…[man] is altogether passive therein (in the effectual call), until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit…” REGENERATION!!

        “…he is thereby enabled to answer this call” Man’s response.

        It is a bit silly to say that the WCF is not consistent with Calvinism. If there is any inconsistency, it is in your ability to see what the WCF is conveying. It was written by Calvinists after all.

        Bob, here’s the thing. You preach. You call forth for your hearers to repent and believe. We who hold to the doctrines of grace believe that anyone sitting there hearing you talk and call them to repent and believe (the outward call of the gospel), who is not specially being also called by the work of the Spirit in their heart (the inward and effectual call) will reject that outward call by the preaching of the word.

        Sinners being saved in a gospel proclamation situation must have not only the word in action but the Spirit also. All the lost people hearing you preach are just hearing words, even if gospel words. Intellectually they can understand what you are saying about Jesus dying for sinners. But in their spirit, it means nothing. They might as well be hearing you read the dictionary.

        But if that is their appointed time for salvation, the Spirit works with the word being proclaimed by you and in a monergistic way to open the person’s heart. Suddenly he can hear in a way he could not all the times before. He can the see the kingdom Jesus talked about. Jesus looks not like just a great teacher or not like mad, ruling, oppressive king who just wants to make people miserable. Suddenly Jesus looks altogether lovely and looks to be the Savior. So, the sinner who has had the Spirit open his heart consciously decides he loves Jesus and cries out, sometimes literally, I see my sin and how odious I am to you God. I repent. I believe Jesus is the only Savior for sinners like me! Please save me O God!. These are decisions by the sinner. God is not repenting. God is not believing for him. The sinner is doing these things by his newly freed from slavery will.

        Bob, we’ve been over this many times. Really the sticking point is in our differences in understanding what man’s natural state apart from Christ is. Calvinists believe man naturally cannot respond savingly to you or anyone else preaching the words of scripture to them. You believe natural man has the ability to respond to you or another preaching scripture to him. You apparently believe that the fact of the death and resurrection of Jesus is sufficient knowledge to count as a calling (a revelation) such that man is in a position to respond savingly to that revelation without any further working of the Spirit.

        We contend that without a supernatural act in “now” time, a natural man hearing about the cross will not be saved. That factual revelation cannot save apart from a renewal to life of the sinner’s heart.

        Have a blessed day.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        I will address this comment to you because we have been around the block several times; I am confident you KNOW that I am not some ignorant so in so quoting what someone has taught me… While we do differ on our positions, I have NEVER been unwilling to engage Scriptural passages so give me some credit on the comments that I have failed to answer Jof’s statements as if I have no ability to do so. You KNOW better.

        We both know or should know that there are differing perspectives on these issues and as I said earlier, for every calvinist passage there are at least 10 that calvinists have to explain away.. so quit acting like you two have simply put me in my place as if I do not have the sense to recognize it. I really found that somewhat condescending and do not deserve that kind of treatment. I do not do that to you; I acknowledge that the texts you guys throw up can support your position while I point to a different perspective;

        There are significant differing theological positions or else we would not be having this conversation because it would be settled already.

        There are issues concerning regeneration as I see it as posited by calvinism. I cannot debate what calvinists say and I have pointed this out on a number of occasions.

        Now to your assertion of people listening to a sermon and making a decision to come to Christ, that is simply a poor articulation of my position. I believe God’s Word is a self revelation of Himself to His created. His Word has power in it. That power speaks to people’s hearts as they come in contact with it and THEN there is the role of the Holy Spirit in convicting people of their sin as well as convincing them of their need for repentance and for a Savior. So it is not that men just make decisions on their own, so like you, I do believe one’s salvation is a response to the work of God’s provisions for salvation. It is not some random decision an individual simply makes.

        I do not believe regeneration MUST take place… or new birth so that someone CAN or WILL repent.

        We differ… it is fine to discuss those differences but this high fiveing and celebrating the slam dunks is a bit over the top… especially when YOU know better.

        Jof might not… but you do.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        I apologize brother. I in no way meant to come across as condescending to you. Let’s leave it for now and you have a blessed Lord’s day tomorrow as you preach.

        Les

      • sbcissues says:

        It is not really that you came across as condescending to me… it is a problem consistent with most conversations of this nature; quote the same dozen or so verses and it is as if there is no logical intelligent retort. Mohler has been guilty of the same lame tactics. Most of you guys have this idea that non-cals cannot understand calvinism or we would be one.

        I understand it. I may not articulate the tenets in a manner that you guys appreciate, but if you will simply take the time to contemplate the argument, there is a validity to the thought.

        Am preaching a revival beginning today so keep the services in your prayers. Have a blessed day!

  23. Bob Wheeler says:

    The difficulty here is determining the precise point of regeneration. A conversion itself can take quite a long time — witness the examples of Bunyan, Whitefield and Wesley. In each case the process of convincing and converting took literally months, until the light finally broke through and they believed and were justified.
    So when was the precise point of regeneration? If we are talking about the whole process of conversion, it lasted over months. If we are talking about the precise moment that the person believed and was justified, it happened in a moment. If we are talking about the whole process of sanctification and spiritual growth, it lasts a lifetime.
    I think that the main point I wanted to make here is that there is no contradiction between the work of the preacher and the work of the Holy Spirit. The preacher has the responsibility to proclaim the gospel and urge sinners to repent. At the same time, we hope, the Holy Spirit to speaking to consciences and convincing them that what the preacher is saying from the Word is truth. The happy result is a new life in Christ!

    • sbcissues says:

      Bob,

      I agree with everything you have said… here is the deal… in the calvinist system, regeneration CANNOT be gradual; if one is dead he is dead; if he is made alive then it is instantaneous… there is no gradually made alive… it is like being almost pregnant.

      That was MY point. Now the WCF talked about one thing which you quoted but calvinism says something else… but Les and these guys want to quote the WCF and then associate it to calvinism; if it differs they dont care… or cant figure out the differences or the inconsistencies…

      That was my point.

    • Bob H,

      I don’t think Bob W said regeneration was gradual or a process. Did he? Maybe I missed it. Regeneration is instantaneous. No argument for me there. Conversion is not necessarily instantaneous. Regeneration and conversion are not the same thing.

      You said, “Now the WCF talked about one thing which you quoted but calvinism says something else… but Les and these guys want to quote the WCF and then associate it to calvinism; if it differs they dont care… or cant figure out the differences or the inconsistencies…”

      Bob, the WCF is Calvinism. It’s more to be sure. But if you mean by Calvinism the so called TULIP, the WCF is it. It doesn’t differ. There is no inconsistency. Or, can you demonstrate some inconsistencies?

  24. And Bob H, I’ve put a lot out there for you and you haven’t replied at all. What gives?

    • sbcissues says:

      Les,

      We have hashed out a number of these passages more than either of us can count… my site is replete with those discussions… and all I said was you BOTH should know that there are varying discussions of differing positions on these passages so don’t act as if your position is the ONLY one…

      • Jof says:

        Hi SBC

        I appreciated the fact that your earlier comments were attempting to draw your position from the scriptures, as I commented previously it was my hope that we could attempt to at least keep to the pertinent texts rather than just flout our positions which is really not that helpful or informative, so thank you.

        I don’t disagree with anything my two reformed brother have stated to you regarding the effectual call and regeneration, justification etc. I do think Les probably nailed the real issue here which is that we believe you start with a sub-biblical view of man, I certainly echo what Les said as I don’t think the state of the natural man is something we can just slide right past before getting to the question of faith and regeneration.

        If you read any reformed confession of the reformation period you will find a fairly consistent sequence ordering the doctrine contained therein, that is they will generally start with the doctrine of God and the scriptures and will then define the doctrine of man before unpacking those truth’s about salvation. There is a reason that an understanding of man and his condition is paramount to then subsequently understanding what the scriptures teach regarding salvation and I think most theologians have always recognised that.

        The Remonstrants’ who opposed the doctrines of grace in the 17th century clearly acknowledged the logical necessity of understanding the state of man before disputing the doctrines of grace as it was the first subject in their writings against what was the Orthodox position of their day, that which we now of course label as ‘Calvinism’.
        It should also serve as a side note that it was the detractors of the reformed position themselves who defined the five points and not the Calvinists themselves. I can assure you that John Calvin would probably turn in his grave if he knew that modern Christians have reduced his monumental work in the institutes and the combined wisdom of the other reformers into something that is now popularly expressed as a pleasant Dutch flower. In its historical context these were simply 5 points of doctrine that the Remonstrants’ disagreed with, the modern idea that reformed theology is contained solely within those 5 points is a little inaccurate certainly by those that know reformed theology or have an understanding of Church history, but alas I digress. To get back to the topic at hand – As the great reformer Martin Luther famously quipped in his debate with Erasmus that the issue of man’s ability or lack thereof was “the hinge upon which all of these matters turned”. So I would again ask you to provide some biblical dialogue on why we should not understand the perspicuity of the scriptures on the inability of man, why is it that we should reject Paul’s argument in Romans chapters 1 to 3 and exactly why the scriptures describe faith as something that is given to man rather than your assertion, that this God pleasing attribute is produced from the rebellious hearts of dead sinners who are in bondage to their sin nature.
        I am happy to discuss the issue of regeneration and justification with you if you so desire, I just fear that unless we begin with what man can and cannot do then the subsequent questions regarding man’s actions will be planted on two very different foundations and we will continue to talk past one another.
        God bless.
        Post tenebras lux

        But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God with me. (1Co 15:10 NET)

      • sbcissues says:

        Jof,

        No one disputes the issue of man’s depravity; the issue is the extent of that depravity and the concept of inability. The wages of sin is death and man is a slave to his sinful nature. The issue of inability comes into play which is a philosophical position concerning what the Scriptures mean concerning the term “dead.” So I do not consider my position a sub-Biblical view any more than you do.

        As for the reformed confessions, they are what they are but the consistency of the confessions are up for debate. Limited atonement, irresistible grace and unconditional election as well as regeneration prior to repentance and faith are basic reformed positions and the logical implications of those tenets are debatable.

        The reason I do not really appreciate one verse proof texts is the fact that many times the text nor the context actually support the argument the verse is given for and as I said… for every proof text one uses there are a dozen or so that will not support that particular position, especially where the tenets of calvinism are concerned. So when you said you wanted to keep the pertinent texts as the focus, all I am saying is acknowledge there are problematic texts that support my position. It is almost as if you guys want to tout your dozen or so texts but refuse to engage or even acknowledge the texts that do not do so.

        As for the foundation of what man can and cannot do
        I agree; I maintain ANY theology that begins with the foundation of total depravity and in ability automatically will produce a false theology. I do not believe inability and regeneration prior to repentance is Biblical and it is what it is.

  25. Bob Wheeler says:

    I guess I would want to caution you here — the Westminster Confession of Faith is the most authoritative definition of Calvinism, at least in the English speaking world. We want to make sure that we are talking about things that people actually believe, not what we imagine them to believe. And for English speaking Calvinists, the Westminster Confession, along with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, is about as authoritative as you can get. The London Baptist Confession of 1689 is a Baptist adaptation of WCF. On the “Five Points,” of course, you would want to refer to the Synod of Dort, since that is where they received their definitive expression. And of course anything by Calvin himself is fair game — he certainly should have some say in what “Calvinism” is! And in a Southern Baptist context James P. Boyce is worth looking at — your very own Calvinist!

    • sbcissues says:

      Here is the deal… I am speaking about the tenets of the 5 points of calvinism; now if those differ from what the WCF says then I have a problem. The quote you gave, I can agree with; that is what started this conversation.

      I simply pointed out that regeneration cannot be gradual; I also maintain that it is at least problematic to assert that the gospel is the power of God unto conversion because apart from regeneration, the gospel has no power to save… now like it or not that is a valid argument or I would not be making it.

      I realize calvinists do not agree with it; but that is not a valid argument against my objection.

      I simply cannot stomach that position.

  26. Jof says:

    Hi SBC

    Yes you are right, us Calvinist’s can be guilty of attempting to go past the text and hypothesize on certain implications where there is very little biblical data to go on, though I’m not sure that particular malady is unique to only reformed theologians, However the text in Ephesians that states man is dead is not written in a vacuum brother, if the only word we had regarding man’s spiritual deadness was that verse then I would agree that we would have to engage in a lot of theological speculation to get any meaning out of what that state actually looks like in regards to man’s ability. But you and I both know that that particular verse isn’t the only word we are given regarding man’s condition and to assert that our position on this particular topic is therefore some type of philosophical wrangling is to be brutally honest just a cop out. The very same writer that penned those words about man’s “deadness in sin” does not leave us in the dark regarding what that state looks like and you know it, Paul gives the most explicit and comprehensive explanation of his own statement in Ephesians over the course of three whole chapters – Romans 1,2 and 3 and in the very context of receiving the gospel.

    There is absolutely no reason to doubt the context, extent and application of Paul’s very detailed description of the state of the natural man in those chapters, so again please explain why we shouldn’t understand those verses to mean what they are saying. I take it that you are theologically trained given your ministry and as such I think it is a reasonable question to ask if you are willing to utilize the same consistent hermeneutical method that you approach in interpreting John 3:16 in those three chapters of Romans and if not why not?

    I would also like to add that to simply state “well you have your verses and I have mine” is not an argument, to be honest it’s exegetically lazy brother, I have taken the time to respond to every verse you have quoted and I do so because if there was 500 verses to go through to determine the truth of God’s revelation then that’s exactly what we should do, to suggest otherwise is to minimize the importance of truth and to doubt the very clarity in which God has chosen to communicate with his people through the scriptures. I do however acknowledge that you are probably very busy so I understand if you don’t have the time to respond in great detail so I apologize if you feel forced down that road by the length of some of my responses.

    I pray that the revival goes well and the Lord will use your preaching for his glory.
    Be blessed Brother and thank you for the opportunity to engage with you on this subject.

    Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. (2Th 2:16-17 ESV)

  27. Bob Wheeler says:

    Here is a traditional (or maybe I would say “historic’) Southern Baptist hymn:
    ” Brethren, we have met to worship,
    And adore the Lord our God;
    Will you pray with all you power,
    While we try to preach the word?
    All is vain unless the Spirit
    Of the Holy One comes down;
    Brethren, pray and holy manna
    Will be showered all around.”
    I can’t think of a better expression of the relationship between preaching and effectual calling. The song is found in The Sacred Harp, an old-tome shaped note hymnal with which Dr. Hadley is undoubtedly familiar.

    • Jof says:

      Hey Bob H

      An insightful observation brother, your right, I think the inconsistency of people that are theologically Arminian and functionally Calvinistic is quite glaring. I have no doubt our synergistic brother would have no issues praying that God uses his word to effect the results that God chooses in changing the minds and wills of those hearing his word. But apparently we can’t allow God that same freedom and power to move upon the dead sinner through the preaching of the gospel. As Spurgeon once famously put it –
      “…You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say; but you never heard an Arminian prayer – for the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees would pray desperately like a Calvinist.”

      God bless ya, read your latest articles btw, very good!

      Soli Deo Gloria

  28. Ken says:

    I wonder if you will permit an ex-SB the liberty of addressing the current Calvinist controversy within the SBC. Let me explain. I had been a devoted SBC member for 65+ years prior to this past June when the report by the special committee on Calvinism was published as well as the associated remarks by the SBC “leadership?” on that report. To be exact, I was a devoted member except for that period when the Liberal takeover was in effect for several years. Even so, I was even more supportive when the Conservatives rose up to eventually cause the liberals to withdraw and form the Conservative Baptist Fellowship(consider the irony in that deceptive name).

    However, the current effort among SBC leadership to acquiesce and promote a surrender in order to accommodate a Calvinist doctrine which is so completely foreign to any understanding I have ever held concerning God’s one-and-only Plan Of Salvation(any person born into this world, without exception, is offered eternal salvation by God if he or she repents and accepts Christ Jesus as Savior), has caused me to give up all hope for the survival of the SBC as an effectual instrument for The Kingdom’s Work.

    The comment I have heard most often by those who are instrumental in this surrender is “we need each other to continue our world missions efforts.” Two things come to mind: first, God does not need great numbers to accomplish His purposes, just one or a few true believers. A perfect witness of that is the prolific spread of Christianity during the first century A.D. which started with just a handful of followers and has continued to this date, although most recent conversions have slacked off drastically except in the “third world” countries. Second, by reading between the lines, I’m not so sure the “need each other” claim is not motivated more by pension and annuity and health insurance retirement programs considerations than it is for evangelism.

    Although I currently remain a member of a SBC affiliated church I have already taken steps to assure that none of my offerings are made available to the NAMB, seminaries, or any other SBC entity except the IMB, through the Lottie Moon Offering, which I feel may be less contaminated by Calvinism than the remainder of the SBC. I will continue to evaluate the IMB for Calvinist influence to see if I must revise my support plan.

    Since I am an octogenarian I doubt that I will live to see the complete demise of the SBC but mark my word, God will not continue to bless an organization whose membership either rejects his Plan of Salvation outright or tolerates those who do in order to “love each other and get along” for any number of imagined reasons.

  29. Bob Wheeler says:

    I guess it’s more than a little sad to hear an older member of the SBC say that Calvinists reject God’s Plan of Salvation and that this could result in the complete demise of the SBC. As several of us have been trying to show here in the comment section, there is absolutely nothing whatsoever about the so-called “Five Points of Calvinism” that is in any way a threat to or a denial of God’s Plan of Salvation, and we should hope that every pastor in the Convention will continue to take seriously his personal responsibility to preach the gospel to lost sinners and urge them to come to Christ, just as great Calvinist preachers like Bunyan, Whitefield, Edwards and Spurgeon have always done in the past. Our only point is that we are poor, lost sinners before we are saved, dead in our trespasses in sins, and that it is the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to repent and believe. As a result we owe our salvation entirely to God’s grace, and can claim no credit for ourselves. Must we really minimize the grace and power of God in order to preserve the peace and unity of the Southern Baptist Convention?

    • sbcissues says:

      Bob,

      Here is a question I have for you; can you explain what you mean when you say, “it is the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to repent and believe.”

      I believe repentance and faith are man’s response to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a lost person who has heard or read the gospel message from the Word of God. I do not believe it is possible for anyone to be saved part from that work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the lost person.

      My problem is with the notion that regeneration is “new birth” or “new life” that precipitates repentance and believing faith. There is obviously a BIG difference in the two aspects of just exactly what regeneration is and how it works to bring about conversion.

      • james jordan says:

        “it is the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to repent and believe.”

        So then the wicked only continue in wickedness because God makes them by not allowing them to repent. So your God, both Arminian and Calvinist SBCer, is the author of all wickedness because he’s refusing to allow people to repent since he didn’t sent them the Holy Spirit.

        You can’t any longer tell abortionists they are in sin. Of course they are — because God wants them to be. He’s refusing to allow them to repent — he won’t send them the Spirit. Its not their fault. God is oppressing these poor victims and forcing them to sin. You guys are in a cult.

      • Les Prouty says:

        JJ’s comments bring to mind a word not often used: ridiculosity.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob H, I’ll jump in. Things have slowed down over at Voices on the alcohol post.

        Regeneration is the bringing to life spiritually the dead sinner so that he is willing and able to repent and believe. Think new birth. And it is monergistic and always efficacious.

        “I believe repentance and faith are man’s response to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a lost person who has heard or read the gospel message from the Word of God. I do not believe it is possible for anyone to be saved part from that work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the lost person.”

        I would state it this way, “I believe repentance and faith are man’s response to the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a lost person (which includes what we call “convicting”) who has heard or read the gospel message from the Word of God. I do not believe it is possible for anyone to be saved part from that work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the lost person.”

        “My problem is with the notion that regeneration is “new birth” or “new life” that precipitates repentance and believing faith.”

        Yes, you have consistently had a problem with this. I would add, “precipitates” is probably not the right word as we see it. Depends on how one defines it. If you mean by “precipitates” to bring about or cause, I am not comfortable with that though I wouldn’t make a big deal of it. I think it sounds like “by force.” I would prefer to say that the new birth (regeneration) enables the sinner to repent and believe.

      • sbcissues says:

        precipitates basically is used as preceding.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob H.,

        “precipitates basically is used as preceding.” i.e. ““My problem is with the notion that regeneration is “new birth” or “new life” that [precedes] repentance and believing faith.”

        Bob W. has well stated why regeneration (new birth) MUST precede repentance and faith. He says below,

        “the Bible also teaches that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually blind, and the reason they are spiritually blind is that their hearts are hardened. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7,8).”

        Bob W. is just right here. God hates who have spiritually dead hearts don’t want to repent or believe.

    • Ken says:

      Bob W:

      I am surprised that you cannot grasp the dfference between what I stated was and is Gods’ one and only Plan of Salvation and the following 2 points of Calvinism

      . Unconditional Election – Because man is dead in sin, he is unable to initiate response to God; therefore, in eternity past God elected certain people to salvation. Election and predestination are unconditional; they are not based on man’s response because man is unable to respond, nor does he want to.

      Limited Atonement – Because God determined that certain ones should be saved as a result of God’s unconditional election, He determined that Christ should die for the elect alone. All whom God has elected and Christ died for will be saved.

      • Bob Wheeler says:

        The only thing you said about God’s one and only Plan of Salvation is that “any person born into this world, without exception, is offered eternal salvation by God if he or she repents and accepts Christ Jesus as Savior,” with which most orthodox Calvinists would be in complete agreement, And you are correct: I cannot grasp the difference between that (the offer of the gospel) and the doctrines of Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement. God freely offers salvation to all of mankind on the condition that they repent and believe. That does not mean, however, that they have the ability to respond. God has to provide that ability through the power of the Holy Spirit. And since not all men respond positively to the gospel, it therefore follows that God has not effectually called all men.
        Paul goes into this in some detail in Romans 9-11. He was faced with the very real problem that most of his fellow Jews were not responding to his message. Why? Paul points to the sovereignty of God in election. Is it easy for us to understand? No, it isn’t. But it is still there, in the text.
        If you would like a more detailed answer, and Dr. Hadley doesn’t mind, you could take a look at an article on posted on my blog http://bereanobserver.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-free-offer-of-gospel.html.

  30. Bob Wheeler says:

    James,
    You are assuming that all of us, Dr. Hadley and his fellow “Traditional Southern Baptists” included, represent an extreme form of Calvinism called “Supralapsarianism.” The Bible very clearly says that God is not the Author of sin. He chooses from already fallen sinners those on whom He wishes to have mercy, which is His prerogative and is all of grace. Likewise God commands all men to repent. He doesn’t forbid anyone from coming to Christ. They only reason anyone does not come to Christ is their own sin and rebellion. They have no one to blame for their sin but themselves. And in all fairness to Dr. Hadley, he would reject the whole Calvinist scheme in its entirety.

    • james jordan says:

      I don’t think my last comment had any point of contact with Supralapsarianism. Its just that the notion that nobody can repent until the Holy Spirit comes on them, destroys well, everything. In that case there is no you and no me. There is only God and his sock puppets. I may have painted with too broad a brush, I’ll admit. But I’ve not found many in the SBC who don’t believe in this doctrine.

      “Likewise God commands all men to repent. He doesn’t forbid anyone from coming to Christ.”

      Calvinists will say this also, then under the breath “but nobody can come until he gives them the Holy Spirit.” But as the writer of Hebrews says in Heb 6:9: “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”

  31. Bob Wheeler says:

    The reason the unregenerate sinner cannot repent apart from the work of the Holy Spirit is the sinner’s own sin — he is in bondage to his own sin. It is certainly not the case that God “forbids” him from repenting! I think there’s a non sequitur in your argument.
    I think that Dr. Hadley would be surprised that not many in the SBC don’t believe in total depravity.
    (I will say this, however. I have heard many Baptists say that they believe in Total Depravity but hot Limited Atonement, but in reality it is the other way around. They believe that everyone has a free will, but that the death of Christ was a vicarious, substitutionary atonement, which is essentially the Calvinist doctrine.)

    • james jordan says:

      “The reason the unregenerate sinner cannot repent apart from the work of the Holy Spirit is the sinner’s own sin — he is in bondage to his own sin.”

      That doesn’t even make any sense. Repentance is what makes him free from the sin. When Jesus says “He that sins is a slave to sin” that verb is in the progressive present. That is, it ought to be translated:

      “He that keeps on sinning is a slave to sin.”

      As soon as you repent, the slavery is over. Thus, it is in your power to break the cycle of slavery.

      And is this not what Ezekiel 18 teaches? You guys are overlaying pagan philosophy onto the Bible.

      • Bob Wheeler says:

        Yes. The Bible clearly teaches that we have a duty to repent, and as soon as we repent the slavery is over. But the Bible also teaches that the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, because they are spiritually blind, and the reason they are spiritually blind is that their hearts are hardened. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom. 8:7,8). What the sinner needs is a new heart, and only God can give this. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them” (Ezek. 36:26,27). That is what we mean by “irresistible grace.”

      • james jordan says:

        Its very convenient, Wheeler my friend, how you stop short of verse 28 “And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”

        This passage of Ezekiel 36:26-27 and then 28, is not a statement that nobody can repent until they are given a new heart. What is being said is that when God restores the people of Israel to the land for the final time, he will give them a new heart that enables them to keep all the ceremonial commandments perfectly with no need for repentance ever again. This has nothing to do with the here and now, and it does not deny that men right now repent by the power God has already given to all, called freewill.

        Quit fortune-cookie-ing verses.

      • sbcissues says:

        Bob W

        I fully understand the calvinist position on total depravity/inability. Here is the basic difference in our two perspectives. While calvinism says man is a sinner because he is dead in his trespasses and sin, I believe he is dead in his trespass and sin BECAUSE of his sin. There is a profound difference in the two perspectives and BOTH interpretations fit the texts you quote.

        As for the natural man not receiving the things of God because they are spiritually blind… which is from I Cor 2 is really speaking of sanctification… growing in the things of God which are revealed to us by the Spirit who dwells within us. Paul says “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Co 2:14) Man cannot know the things of God apart from the spiritual discernment that comes from the Holy Spirit dwelling in our hearts. It can be of course argued that this is true of conversion; and to some degree it is true. Once again, it is the extent of the Spirit’s involvement that is in question. I believe the Spirit convicts the heart of the lost person so he can repent. Calvinism posits the Spirit gives new life to the lost person so he WILL repent.

        The question then becomes is the issue of “being dead in our trespass and sin” more accurately portrayed by calvinism or does calvinism take the analogy too far. I believe the latter to be the case. We both believe the sinner needs a new heart; again the question is when does God give the sinner that new heart.

        Even the Romans 8 passage you quote does not establish the fact of TD/TI as you suggest; it simply says the carnal mind is enmity against God. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. The issue is the phrase “neither can it be” which refers to being subject to the law of God. As long as the mind is focused on self and the god of this world, it cannot be subject to the law of God because obedience is the only response that makes on subject to the law of God. Look at what Paul wrote in verse 5-6: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in a man’s heart that gives him life; but the carnal mind that is not lead by the Spirit is enmity against God. Apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in one’s heart, nothing a man does is going to please God because our first responsibility is to be rightly related to Him and anything short of that is sin in God’s eyes.

        The passage in Ezekiel addresses God’s initiative to bring the children of Israel who are dispersed and displaced from Israel and He will bring them back to Israel to re-establish His covenant and glorify His name before the world. What is really interesting with reference to your quote that God gives a new heart to effect repentance is verse 25: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.” Here is my point; God always cleanses the heart BEFORE new birth not after. Regeneration as posited by calvinism has the new heart BEFORE repentance and I find that very problematic.

        While in one sense we are not that far off, in another we are eternities apart.

      • james jordan says:

        I should say also look at verse 24 “For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” The whole context screams final restoration of Israel to Eretz Yisrael.

  32. Les Prouty says:

    Spurgeon began a sermon on this verse:

    “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.”–John 6:44.

    Coming to Christ” is a very common phrase in Holy Scripture. It is used to express those acts of the soul wherein, leaving at once our self-righteousness, and our sins, we fly unto the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive his righteousness to be our covering, and his blood to be our atonement. Coming to Christ, then, embraces in it repentance, self-negation, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and it sums within itself all those things which are the necessary attendants of these great states of heart, such as the belief of the truth, earnestness of prayer to God, the submission of the soul to the precepts of God’s gospel, and all those things which accompany the dawn of salvation in the soul. Coming to Christ is just the one essential thing for a sinner’s salvation. He that cometh not to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may, is yet in “the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity.” Coming to Christ is the very first effect of regeneration. No sooner is the soul quickened than it at once discovers its lost estate, is horrified thereat, looks out for a refuge, and believing Christ to be a suitable one, flies to him and reposes in him. Where there is not this coming to Christ, it is certain that there is as yet no quickening; where there is no quickening, the soul is dead in trespasses and sins, and being dead it cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. We have before us now an announcement very startling, some say very obnoxious. Coming to Christ, though described by some people as being the very easiest thing in all the world, is in our text declared to be a thing utterly and entirely impossible to any man, unless the Father shall draw him to Christ.

  33. Bob Wheeler says:

    Dr. H —
    I was trying to respond to James, which was a bit of a challenge — he thinks you’re as bad as us Calvinists!
    It is worth, though, taking a closer look at Romans chapters 7 & 8. The key question here, of course, is what kind of person is being described — an unconverted person, a converted person, or perhaps someone under conviction. I think the key to understanding Paul’s argument here is Rom. 8:3: “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh . . .” (NKJV). Apparently the point of chapter 7 is “what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh,” while the point of chapter 8 is “what God did,” and specifically, “the righteous requirement of the law” is “fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (v. 4). Apparently the man described in chapter 7 was Paul, when he was an unconverted Jew. Intellectually he could see that the Torah was good — it was superior to the surrounding paganism. But at the same time he had to acknowledge that there was something at work in himself, the “law” of sin, that prevented him from doing what he knew he ought to do. Interestingly Paul uses the word “will” in a peculiar sense here — he could will to do all sorts of things, but he couldn’t act on his will! (does this mean he had a “free will” or doesn’t it?)
    Then in 8:4-11 he draws a contrast between those who are “in the flesh” (v. 8) and those who are “in the Spirit” (v. 9). Those who are “in the flesh” are apparently the unconverted — he says “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” In other words, either you have the indwelling Spirit or you don’t, and if you don’t, you’re not a Christian. Thus those who are “in the flesh” are apparently the unconverted as well. They are the ones who “cannot please God.”

    • james jordan says:

      The person being described is one individual with a fringe experience. There may be more of his type, but not everyone fits that type at any stage of their life.

  34. Les Prouty says:

    Bob H.,

    I want to ask you a question. In doing so I am not calling into question your orthodoxy and I am not accusing you of being a liberal. That said up front, this past week news broke that the PCUSA tried to alter a well known hymn sung among evangelicals and were denied and so the hymn will not be in their new hymnal. Here is an excerpt:

    This week, The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Songs for the Presbyterian Church (USA) decided to remove the song “In Christ Alone” from its hymnals. The reason? Because the song mentions God’s wrath. “In Christ Alone” was written in 2001 and has become a staple of worship for many Christian congregations. It celebrates the life we have in Jesus and deals with His incarnation, the atonement of His crucifixion, and the glory of His resurrection. Unlike many modern watered-down worship songs, it is rich with theological truths and even echoes the great hymns of old.

    Yet the PCUSA has blatantly rejected the song from its worship, all because of the verse which states, “Till on that cross as Jesus died/The wrath of God was satisfied”. Not wanting to offend anyone with the reality of God’s wrath, PCUSA tried to change the lyrics to read, “Till on that cross as Jesus died/The love of God was magnified”.

    In order to print this new version they needed the copyright approval of the song’s writers, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. Thankfully, Getty and Townsend denied them permission, so PCUSA elected to remove the song altogether.

    Note what the PCUSA objected to: “Till on that cross as Jesus died/The wrath of God was satisfied”.

    Now again, not accusing you of being a liberal or being unorthodox, but given what you have said about the cross, do you also object to the wording of that hymn? Or do you agree that on the cross the wrath of God was satisfied?

    BTW, the full hymn wording can be found here. Great hymn IMO. http://www.ap0s7le.com/list/song/1181/Stuart_Townend,_Keith_Getty/In_Christ_Alone/

    • james jordan says:

      It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to know that when a NeoCal says two or three times in a row “Now I’m not questioning your orthodoxy” that that’s exactly what he’s doing.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Oh JJ, what’s that saying? “Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool…?”

      • james jordan says:

        If you know the saying, why aren’t you following it?

      • james jordan says:

        Yes, NeoCal. Do you claim to be an Old Calvinist? If so, prove it.

      • JJ, I said, “And JJ, what do you mean by NeoCal? Different people have different definitions.”

        Define your term since you called me a NeoCal. Thanks.

      • james jordan says:

        So you admit you cannot prove you are an Old Calvinist.

      • Les Prouty says:

        JJ, I have tried to be kind here. I don’t want to badger you and I don’t want Bob to get upset with me. But you referred to me as a NeoCal. I very simply asked you to tell me how you define what you have called me. That is a fair question.

        In addition, you impugned my character in calling me a NeoCal. You said, “It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to know that when a NeoCal says two or three times in a row “Now I’m not questioning your orthodoxy” that that’s exactly what he’s doing.” That is really accusing me of being dishonest.

        Now, a few weeks ago I challenged you on another of Bob’s post to prove something you said there. You refused to do so and stopped commenting on that post. Now you are here again saying something and are refusing to answer to something you’ve said.

        So again, you referred to me as a NeoCal. What do you mean by NeoCal? Different people have different definitions.

        Define your term since you called me a NeoCal. Thanks.

      • james jordan says:

        Tell me Pouty, what document would you say your Calvinism is most based on? Calvin’s Institutes? Turretin’s Institutes? Piper’s latest book? James White’s latest blog post? The Bible is not an acceptable answer. Don’t play games.

      • JJ, we are not going to get anywhere if you keep evading my question. I’m not going to answer your jest ions until I know what you mean by NeoCal. Now, for the 4th time.

        So again, you referred to me as a NeoCal. What do you mean by NeoCal? Different people have different definitions.

        Define your term since you called me a NeoCal. Thanks.

      • james jordan says:

        Pouty thinks I’m his slave boy and he told me that I had better come over here and post my definition of NeoCal or he’ll beat me. And I don’t need any more lashes, so I guess I’ll obey massa’s orders.

        But I’m just going to post a link.

        3rd Ezra (or 1st Esdras) — O ye men, how exceeding strong is wine!

        And I will say that outside the Presbyterian church, Calvinism is an invasive species — it doesn’t belong, and any Park Ranger worth his salt will quickly capture it and dispose of it.

      • JJ,

        Thanks. So you’ve posted a link,to your definition of NeoCal. Of course you referred to me as one and called into question my honesty. On your site you posted your definition of NeoCal thusly,

        “According to JJ’s dictionary,

        A NeoCal (abbreviation for Neo-Calvinist, AKA New Calvinist) is a parasite who instead of staying in the Presbyterian church where he belongs insinuates himself into a denomination that is not Calvinistic for the unstated purpose of either (1) sucking all of the life out of it, (2) drivings its members to atheism, or (3) converting it to Calvinism.

        Furthermore, NeoCals don’t believe in anything that by a normal use of the English language could be termed a “covenant.” Salvation is by predestination alone, and faith alone in predestination alone. But nothing covenantal, like the obligation to treat others within the covenant with a modicum of decency is believed in.”

        Given your definition, I am not a NeoCal. And no, I do not claim to be an old Calvinist. I’m still in my fifties.

    • Les Prouty says:

      And JJ, what do you mean by NeoCal? Different people have different definitions.

      • Waldensian says:

        I just want to say that I’m old and a Calvinist…I guess that makes me an “Old Calvinist”…just saying lol!!

    • Waldensian says:

      Man I love that song!!What are they thinking?

  35. Waldensian says:

    Hi SBC

    I must say from the get-go that the distinction you made concerning man and sin is a little unusual, and to be honest a little hard to follow-

    “While Calvinism says man is a sinner because he is dead in his trespasses and sin, I believe he is dead in his trespass and sin BECAUSE of his sin.”

    I’m not sure how that type of distinction actually proves anything, and even if there is in fact a distinction as there is truth in both statements, I can only assume that this stems from your rather unorthodox position where you deny that Man has inherited a sin nature from Adam and subsequently the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers, kudos for being consistent though obviously nearly all orthodox theologians would oppose your theological conclusions on that particular point. I don’t want to get side tracked from the issue at hand which is the inability of man, but I’m happy to walk through the pertinent texts at a later date with you if you would like.

    You made some comments about 1 Corinthians 2:14 and stated that the context of the chapter is sanctification, I’m not sure I disagree with you though I would probably point out that might be a rather large over simplification given the overall context of the entire epistle. The letter as you know is for the most part a very long rebuke to the Corinthians due to the reports that Paul had received about the disobedience and licentious behaviour of its members. Through the course of the letter he deals with sexual immorality, immaturity, ill-discipline, abuse of the spiritual gifts, carnality, in-house bickering and legalism among other topics.
    Chapter two then follows on from his previous statements reminding the Church of his authority as an Apostle and the glory of the gospel which should have united the church in brotherhood rather than caused the personality followings that were plaguing the church, he reminds them of their humble beginnings and their privileges they had in being those called out of sin to become a part of God’s own family as the Church. Paul then further asserts the responsibility of the Corinthians to heed his words as not only a man who had demonstrated his love for them during his Pastoral ministry but as one speaking with a “demonstration of the spirit and power”, he rounds out his point by reminding the Corinthians that Christians do and should hear the word of God and respond to it positively and he forces his point by drawing a rather graphic contrast between the unbeliever and those in Christ, he states-

    …these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1Co 2:10-16 ESV)

    I say all of that to point out the obvious application that is demonstrated above, which is that Paul is very clearly describing the inability of those that are outside of Christ to understand spiritual things, to suggest that Calvinist’s are somehow misusing the context in highlighting the inability of man is to completely miss Paul’s use of this contrast especially in the flow of his argument as noted above. It is more than appropriate to make the point of man’s inability from this text as a careful exegesis of the passage demonstrates. I think the obvious question at this point given Paul’s statement-

    The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

    …is to ask you if you believe the gospel is actually spiritual. Could you really make a case that a message of the God-man, who dies and is resurrected to bring eternal life, could be described as anything but a word from the spirit of God? That being the case the question still remains, how does the Natural Man understand something that his very state of spiritual death precludes him from believing?

    You stated that the Romans 8 passage-

    For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    (Rom 8:7-8 ESV)

    …affirmed that without being given the Spirit man cannot please God or submit to God’s law. You then ran past it without giving even the slightest consideration or commentary to the obvious implication which is how does someone without the Spirit please God? Are you really asserting that repentance and belief do not please God? Is not the first and greatest commandment-

    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Mat 22:37 ESV)
    If that is so how does one in the flesh with a mind that is ‘set’ on their hatred towards God love the Lord with all its heart, mind and soul? Again I think the absence of any meaningful rebuttal to the obvious implications of these very clear texts speaks volumes as to the strength and consistency of your position.
    You quoted Ezekiel 36:25-26-

    I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

    And then stated that-

    “God always cleanses the heart BEFORE new birth not after.”

    I’m not sure how that statement actually supports your position, are you asserting that there are people who are cleansed but are not regenerated? Does God do this to everyone and if not why not? What necessitates in your thinking a separation of cleansing with this new heart? Are they not describing differing functions of the same experience? In the parallel verse describing regeneration John writes-

    Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (Joh 3:5 ESV)

    The question here is not whether we can separate these two elements i.e. water and spirit into fundamentally distinct events in the sense that one might happen but the other may not, they are clearly part of the one experience that Christ is illuminating. The question is what is the water that is being described? There are a few explanations usually offered as to what the “water” might signify which are baptism, natural birth and the word. I don’t think many apart from maybe Catholics and some smaller splinter groups would probably postulate that this is a text affirming regeneration by baptism, nor would I think it’s a logical use of the illustration to suggest that Jesus was talking about natural birth, I think even those (alleged) un-scientific 1st century Jews would have scoffed at the nonsense of Jesus stating that someone had to be born physically before they could become a Christian, probably a bit of a given I would suggest. So I think the most viable understanding is that the “water” being described is the word.

    …that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (Ephesians 5:26 ESV)

    Regardless of what view you take, the fact that you believe that this washing does precede regeneration only affirms much of what us reformed folk have been saying to you and that is God is clearly the one acting here there is no hint in any of the texts that you have provided that man does something and that God then does his part, nor have you alleviated the obvious implication that the texts quoted show, that the actions you are ascribing to man are not within his natural capacity to perform unless God first by an act of supernatural grace brings that sinner to life.

    You have not provided a counter exegetical argument to any of the texts that have been provided to demonstrate how dead sinners accomplish this spiritual work of faith and repentance and I will also add the most comprehensive and clear didactic reasoning that the scriptures gives on the natural state of man in Romans chapters 1,2 and 3 you are yet to even attempt to address.

    So in the words of that great reformer who would have argued more eloquently and vehemently than I am able against the doctrines you are espousing-

    “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand, I can do no other.”

    God bless brother.
    Sola Gratia

  36. sbcissues says:

    Waldensian,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. It is always interesting to read what people want to take from what they read. Some of your comments are no different. Also, it would seem a bit presumptuous on your part to understand my position reading one post and several comments. Keep in mind, a comment is or should be with respect to a comment someone else has made. So sometimes, one has to take into consideration the context a comment is made from instead of a universal application of what that person may or may not mean in a more general context.

    Consider for example the following statement you made, ” unorthodox position where you deny that Man has inherited a sin nature from Adam.” First of all, I never said anything about inheriting a sin nature from Adam. You too my statement with respect to our being dead because of our own sin to suggest something else. My comment was in reference to total depravity/inability which calvinism posits as the cause of sin and the inability to do anything about it apart from regeneration. Either one of two things is the case. One, you are not following the logic or two you don’t care to follow the logic. In either case, your conclusion was errant.

    Now as to the issue of inherited sin and more specific inherited guilt, I do not believe that latter to be the case. I believe God put man out of the garden and when God did what He did, man lost his right standing with God and because of that position, everything he does is sinful because every decision one makes apart from being rightly related to God falls sort of His glory and is therefore sin in God’s eyes. So, because you and I were born without right standing, that is the cause as I see it of our sin nature. This was Adam’s fault and Jesus is God’s solution. When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the lost person’s heart, right standing is restored and a relationship with God can progress.

    I will further comment on other issues individually so this post does not get too long.

  37. sbcissues says:

    Waldensian,

    With respect to your comment on I Corinthians 2… I will refer to your own statement that you cannot disagree and then suggest your own argument dealing with the overall context of the epistle is not really relevant. Your own treatment of the epistle in your own words supports the statement you referenced because the epistle as you point out is one to Christians not those that are lost. My point was that the text he used did not support his position on total depravity and inability where it comes to being converted.

    You then make the following statement: I say all of that to point out the obvious application that is demonstrated above, which is that Paul is very clearly describing the inability of those that are outside of Christ to understand spiritual things…” Here is my position; either Paul is speaking to Christians and the context of one understanding the things of God because we have the Spirit living inside of us as contrasting to those who do not have the Spirit… that is the difference between the two groups of people. He is not addressing the issue that this is not why the lost do not or cannot come to Christ. That simply is not the contextual setting from which Paul is speaking. I believe I did say that one could use this text to support your position, but that position would have to be brought to the text and not drawn from the text because Paul is addressing the church and the differences between them and the rest of the world. That is my point.

    You go on to ask, “how does the Natural Man understand something that his very state of spiritual death precludes him from believing?” I believe the death on the cross is a powerful demonstration of the love of God for lost men. It is the demonstration of the greatest expression of one’s love for another that Jesus would give His life for us while we were yet sinners. I believe the Word of God is His self revelation of who He and what it is that He wants to do for us and through us; I believe revelation demands a response and I believe man has the ability to respond. Calvinism will agree with that statement, they simply answer man’s only response is rejection because of TD/TI. I do not agree with that philosophical position.

    I also believe what the Scripture says that God has chose to reconcile the world unto Himself and that work of reconciliation is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a lost person and that work demands a response. This is not a decision a person just makes on his own as pelagianism suggests, a man does not take the first step toward and God then steps in; God is the sole initiator of the salvific process but a part of that process is man’s repentance and believing faith that is a response to God’s provisions outlined in His Word and given to us through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.

    Calvinism actually says the same thing they just insert God’s work of regeneration in there that by His sole choice He decides who does and does not repent and believe and that is where I will part ways with that theology.

  38. sbcissues says:

    Now with respect to you next comment:

    For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
    (Rom 8:7-8 ESV)

    …affirmed that without being given the Spirit man cannot please God or submit to God’s law. You then ran past it without giving even the slightest consideration or commentary to the obvious implication which is how does someone without the Spirit please God? Are you really asserting that repentance and belief do not please God? Is not the first and greatest commandment-

    We BOTH believe that it is our response to the gospel and the reconcilatory work of the Holy Spirit. Again, the difference is HOW does that process take place. Your position is that God does it through regeneration and my position is that God works it ought through revelation and reconciliation all of which are all His initiative.

    I will go ahead and comment on your next assertion…

    I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

    And then stated that-

    “God always cleanses the heart BEFORE new birth not after.”

    I’m not sure how that statement actually supports your position, are you asserting that there are people who are cleansed but are not regenerated?

    Here is the deal. This passage is used to justify regeneration prior to repentance and believing faith. I simply pointed out that the cleansing in this text took place PRIOR to God giving the new heart. I would say that is problematic to the idea that regeneration takes place PRIOR to repentance; for cleansing is the result of repentance otherwise there is no need for repentance. Now I will argue on another day that atonement being completed on the cross actually supports a regeneration and then sanctification position which is what I really believe calvinism posits because if atonement is completed on the cross for the elect then reconciliation was completed on the cross and there is no need for repentance. I realize the Scriptures do not support that position but basically I argue that this is a logical progression of what calvinism (not calvinists) contend.

    John 3:5 carries no significance either way. You bring your theology to the text and read it as such.

    For the record, I agree with the concluding quote you cited….“Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand, I can do no other.”

    Calvinism is a philosophical theological position that is simply not coherent and I believe highly errant. I like what Norm Miller said on SBC Today in Dr. David Allen’s response given on August 5…

    Miller said, “Calvinism is certainly logical but cannot be proven to be THEOlogical. That is where I stand.

    Thanks again for the thought and the comment.

    • Bob Wheeler says:

      On the contrary — Calvinism gives all the glory to God. Arminianism gives all the credit to man!
      It should also be pointed out that Calvin himself was a great exegete — he wrote commentaries on most of the books of the Bible. The so-called “Five Points of Calvinism was a response to the Arminian Remonstrance. It is hard to see where “philosophy” entered the picture. Besides, philosophy strives after coherence. If Calvinism were truly “philosophical” and “logical” it would be coherent. The reason it doesn’t always seem to be coherent is because it is trying to be faithful to scripture.

  39. Les Prouty says:

    Bob H,

    I am hoping you will be able to respond to my comments and question above regarding the hymn rejected by the PCUSA. Thanks,

    Les

    • sbcissues says:

      Just finished up a series of revival meetings in Orlando… the power of God came down so and it was a great meeting.

      I am good with the hymn as it stands… I am not sure why you would consider your question a question of my orthodoxy… I think there is a difference in saying that God’s wrath is satisfied on the cross and atonement being completed on the cross if that is what you are getting at. The OT sacrifices for example satisfied God’s wrath; Jesus’ death on the cross satisfied His wrath. I must point out that this in and of itself is not the basis for our salvation.

      Atonement is complete when reconciliation is completed. If the song said atonement was completed then I would have a problem but not with His wrath being satisfied.

      • james jordan says:

        Psalm 30:5 “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

        The idea that the purpose of a sacrifice is to propitiate wrath is Pagan in origin and does not at all come from the Old Testament. The Jews were not feeling God’s wrath breathing down their necks until they sacrificed, and magically it poofs away. This is what Calvinism thinks! Because Calvinism is based on the Pagan system of sacrifices offered by the Pontifex Maximus of Rome! Its is not based on the Judaic view of sacrifices. It may also be, that in order to better convince Pagans Paul occasionally uses terminology that literally is NOT how it really works, like “propitiation” — he says this only so the Pagans will not stop believing, not because it at all works this way. God is not propitiated by sacrifices, because he is not an ever-wrathful God to begin with: his anger endureth but for a moment. He is a God who gets angry, not a God who is anger: Again, neither Pagans nor Calvinists (there is no difference) can comprehend this. Propoitiation is not involved on any level in Jesus’ sacrifice, except in Paul’s rhetoric to Pagans to whom he offers explanations that are not absolute truth but accommodated to their inability to comprehend the Judaic view of sacrifice.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob,

      Thankful that God was blessing in your meetings.

      The reason I was asking is this. If you agree that the wrath of God was satisfied at the cross, then it would seem to present a dilemma for you. In other words, if you believe that the work of Jesus on the cross was for all people universally, then the wrath of God has been satisfied for all universally and so how can Gods wrath then be meted out against anyone?

      In my view, His wrath was satisfied only for particular people, not everyone universally. So I have no dilemma where the death of Christ satisfied God’s wrath for some people who would later experience His wrath which was supposedly satisfied on their behalf.

      That’s why I asked.

      • sbcissues says:

        As I see it the wrath of God is satisfied for all in this life to allow the provisions of the atonement to be applied to those who believe. Those who do not believe are not covered by the provisions and therefore are condemned to an eternity in hell.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob H.,

        With all due respect not only is what you are saying not supported by scripture, it makes no sense.

        1. Wrath satisfied for all (according to you)= all people not subject to God’s wrath

        2. Wrath then reapplied to some who refuse to believe (according to you)=some people who previously had the wrath due them now find themselves under wrath again.

        Make some sense of this for me. And even better, make a scriptural case for wrath averted at the cross then later reinstated.

  40. Bob Wheeler says:

    Huh? Did everyone’s sins get atoned for or didn’t they? Can you sins be atoned for and yet you could still not be forgiven? I don’t get it.

  41. sbcissues says:

    Guys,

    Stop and think for a minute. There is a BIG difference in what we are discussing. If atonement is completed on the cross… ATONEMENT… then there is nothing for those for whom the atonement is completed for to repent of. If atonement is complete on the cross, then you are born with right standing before God because atonement is reconciliation complete. You yourselves believe that the atonement has to be applied at regeneration… so it is not complete until its application.

    Now… the provisions of the atonement are completed at the cross. God’s wrath is covered by the blood in the same way it was at the mercy seat in the OT… and appeased if you will but not completely until final judgment takes place and that judgement is based on our faith in Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.

    Unless you are going to accept the reality of right standing being accomplished on the cross for the elect… that your sins were forgiven THEN and the price paid for them in full THEN, then man up and drop this senseless argument. If you are not willing to do so then you need to explain the need for regeneration… for if as you contend the atonement was completed at Calvary then there is no need for repentance; there is no need for regeneration because reconciliation was completed at the cross.

    There is either a difference in the provisions of the atonement which requires application or there is not. It cannot be both ways.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob H,

      There is a difference in the atonement itself and the application of the atonement. I find a few excerpts from J. Gresham Machen helpful regarding the atonement:

      Here the word [atonement in the KJV in Romans 5.11] is used to translate a Greek word meaning ‘reconciliation.’ This usage seems to be very close to the etymological meaning of the word, for it does seem to be true that the English word ‘atonement’ means ‘atonement.’ It is, therefore, according to its derivation, a natural word to designate the state of reconciliation between two parties formerly at variance.

      In the Old Testament, on the other hand, where the word occurs in the King James Version not once, but forty or fifty times, it has a different meaning; it has the meaning of ‘propitiation.’ Thus we read in Leviticus 1:4, regarding a man who brings a bullock to be killed as a burnt offering:

      And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
      So also the word occurs some eight times in the King James Version in the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus, where the provisions of the law are set forth regarding the great day of atonement. Take, for example, the following verses in that chapter:

      And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself, and for his house (Lev 16:6).
      Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat:

      And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness (Lev 16:15f.).

      In these passages the meaning of the word is clear. God has been offended because of the sins of the people or of individuals among His people. The priest kills the animal which is brought as a sacrifice. God is thereby propitiated, and those who have offended God are forgiven.

      I am not now asking whether those Old Testament sacrifices brought forgiveness in themselves, or merely as prophecies of a greater sacrifice to come; I am not now considering the significant limitations which the Old Testament law attributes to their efficacy. We shall try to deal with those matters in some subsequent talk. All that I am here interested in is the use of the word ‘atonement’ in the English Bible. All that I am saying is that that word in the Old Testament clearly conveys the notion of something that is done to satisfy God in order that the sins of men may be forgiven and their communion with God restored.

      Somewhat akin to this Old Testament use of the word ‘atonement’ is the use of it in our everyday parlance where religion is not at all in view. Thus we often say that someone in his youth was guilty of a grievous fault but has fully ‘atoned’ for it or made full ‘atonement’ for it by a long and useful life. We mean by that that the person in question has — if we may use a colloquial phrase — ‘made up for’ his youthful indiscretion by his subsequent life of usefulness and rectitude. Mind you, I am not at all saying that a man can really ‘make up for’ or ‘atone for’ a youthful sin by a subsequent life of usefulness and rectitude; but I am just saying that that indicates the way in which the English word is used. In our ordinary usage the word certainly conveys the idea of something like compensation for some wrong that has been done.

      It certainly conveys that notion also in those Old Testament passages. Of course that is not the only notion that it conveys in those passages. There the use of the word is very much more specific. The compensation which is indicated by the word is a compensation rendered to God, and it is a compensation that has become necessary because of an offence committed against God. Still, the notion of compensation or satisfaction is clearly in the word. God is offended because of sin; satisfaction is made to Him in some way by the sacrifice; and so His favor is restored.

      Thus in the English Bible the word ‘atonement’ is used in two rather distinct senses. In its one occurrence in the New Testament it designates the particular means by which such reconciliation is effected — namely, the sacrifice which God is pleased to accept in order that man may again be received into favor.

      Now of these two uses of the word it is unquestionably the Old Testament use which is followed when we speak of the ‘doctrine of the atonement.’ We mean by the word, when we thus use it in theology, not the reconciliation between God and man, not the ‘at-onement’ between God and man, but specifically the means by which that reconciliation is effected — namely, the death of Christ as something that was necessary in order that sinful man might be received into communion with God.

      I do not see any great objection to the use of the word in that way — provided only that we are perfectly clear that we are using it in that way. Certainly it has acquired too firm a place in Christian theology and has gathered around it too many precious associations for us to think, now, of trying to dislodge it.

      However, there is another word which would in itself have been much better, and it is really a great pity that it has not come into more general use in this connection. That is the word ‘satisfaction.’ If we only had acquired the habit of saying that Christ made full satisfaction to God for man that would have conveyed a more adequate account of Christ’s priestly work as our Redeemer than the word ‘atonement’ can convey. It designates what the word ‘atonement’ — rightly understood — designates, and it also designates something more. We shall see what that something more is in a subsequent talk.

      As I see this glorious doctrine, something was actually accomplished on the cross. Atonement. Satisfaction. As Machen says, “God is offended because of sin; satisfaction is made to Him in some way by the sacrifice; and so His favor is restored.”

      So in the course of time when the preacher preaches and the Spirit moves upon the sinner’s heart, application of the atonement is made. Had there been no cross, there can be no justification in the course of time.

      Further, if satisfaction was made on the cross, as the hymn says, then God has been appeased toward the individual. If that has happened, then how can He turn around and apply wrath again to the one who dies in his unbelief?

      Further still, if sins were atoned for on the cross, as you said you agree they were, was the sin of unbelief atoned for or was it excluded from Christ’s substitutionary atoning sacrifice? How can God atone for the sins of all mankind in your system, including the sin of unbelief, and still consign the sinner to hell for unbelief? Makes no sense and is surely inconsistent with what substitutionary, vicarious, sacrificial atonement even means.

  42. sbcissues says:

    If there is a difference in the atonement and the application itself then the atonement is not completed until the application. So, my position is that the provisions of the atonement were completed at the cross and the application comes when one believes.

    So going back to my original questions that you DID NOT BOTHER answering… you continue to assert… if sins were atoned for on the cross… if the atonement is not completed until the application then provisions for the atonement were completed on the cross; not the atonement itself.

    Atonement is “at-one-ment”; it is reconciliation with God; it is right standing accomplished with God. Ether the atonement was completed at the cross meaning reconciliation was completed at the cross or it was not. I maintain it was not; you sort of maintain it was not with your application side step but it cannot be both completed at the cross and at application… I do not care who you quote. Do you see my point?

    • No Bob I don’t see your point. What question did you ask that I didn’t answer? Ask me again and I’ll try to answer. Here are a few questions I have.

      1. Do you believe that the wrath of God was satisfied at the cross? You seemed to say so earlier.

      2. If the wrath of God was satisfied on the cross by Jesus as substitute for all sinners of all time, on what scriptural basis do you then justify that God’s wrath then is reapplied to sinners who die without Christ. Wrath on, then off, then back on again.

      3. If people’s sins were paid for by Jesus, as in substitution, for all people of all time as you say, how can they be held accountable again for those sins. Sins paid for, then added back to their account later. How?

      4. If you do maintain that a sacrifice was actually made for all people of all time for their sins, what about the sin of unbelief? Was it not paid for?

      Thanks Bob.

    • Waldensian says:

      Hi SBC

      The short answer is no SBC I don’t think we see your point. In defence of my brother Les and in response to your comments regarding the effects of the Atonement I would say that he was not side stepping anything, your statements such as-

      “Either the atonement was completed at the cross meaning reconciliation was completed at the cross or it was not”

      …only seems to give evidence of another example where you fail to recognise distinct logical and in this case chronological categories. As I think Les demonstrated, there is no reason to confuse an action with a result, or necessitate that there can’t be a separation in time between that Action and its proceeding Result.

      ACTION: The Atonement
      SUBSEQUENT RESULT: Propitiation (the removal of God’s wrath) & Reconciliation (Restoration of the relationship between the offended party and the offender)

      That fact that you seem to meld both action and result into one distinct event in time without any logical chronological separation is again evidence of the obvious inconsistency of your position.

      It is absolutely appropriate, logical and biblically congruent to state that the action of the atonement was completed when Christ died on the cross and the benefits of that action are then realised in time when a person in the future (or past) comes to faith.
      The difficulty isn’t the category of action and result as any first year logic student will affirm, what is hard for our finite minds to grasp is how the Old Testament saints were justified through an event that had not yet occurred in time, but given that we are all born post-atonement I think we can chalk that up to the mystery of God and leave that type of speculation to the vain babblers of naturalistic philosophy.

      So I don’t think there is any need to be confused by anything that Les, Bob Wheeler or myself (Jof) have said. Christ died and gave his life as an atoning sacrifice (action) and the benefits of that will be realised in time (result), which is consistent with Paul’s use of both past, future and present tense when describing the salvation of Christians he was writing to, i.e. you were saved, you are saved, you will be saved. There is no inconsistency to say I was saved at the cross, at the moment I believed and will be saved in the glory of the eschaton, it only becomes an issue when we try to go beyond that which has been revealed and sit around foolishly postulating things that our sinful prideful and finite minds cannot hope to possibly grasp in our present state.

      The question I would have you consider and one that I think is far more relevant to the discussion, is how the biblical view of atonement interacts with a particular covenantal people? It is clear from reading Leviticus and Hebrews for example that for an atonement to be given individuals not nations, or faceless nameless groups must be the object of that Atonement, in light of the texts that state God chose individuals, predestined them to be in Christ before the foundation of the world and wrote their individual names in the book of life, how do you reconcile this with a view of the Atonement that it was made for everyone that has ever lived including those in hell at the time of Christ’s work on the cross? Were these also part of the covenantal people that the atonement was made for? And if not are you not then affirming a limitation of the atonement also?

      Look forward to your response.
      God bless
      Sola Gratia

  43. Bob Wheeler says:

    Actually, I think it’s a tricky issue for both sides. The problem is that we’re talking about Christ making atonement for sin yet to be committed. In the OT atonement was pretty simple and straightforward — the people sinned, the priest made atonement for the sins committed by the people. But in the case of Christ we are talking about making atonement for people who haven’t even been born yet.
    The problem on the Arminian side is this: if Christ paid the penalty for everyone’s sins, then why do many of them still go to hell? Were their sins paid for or weren’t they?
    On the Calvinist side the problem is, how can someone’s sins be forgiven if they haven’t actually believed yet? The Synod of Dort said that faith was one of the benefits purchased by the atonement, but the Bible says we are justified by faith.
    The underlying problem may be the way we think of a vicarious atonement. Usually we think that means the Christ died in the place of us, so the question is, who is included in “us”? But biblically we vicariously participate in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ when we believe and seal that faith in baptism. It is at that point that we are incorporated into the body of Christ, and His righteousness is imputed to us.
    On the other hand, when Christ died on the cross, I think He was conscious of dying in the place of a specific group of people — all those who would eventually believe on Him — the “redeemed.”
    I have been covering the issue on my own blog, and am currently going into the history of the Arminian / Calvinist controversy.

  44. sbcissues says:

    I am busy this week and will be writing a response in a new article dealing with this very issue probably the first of the week. Here is the problem I do not believe ANYONE has addressed and that is the atonement is a completed relationship. Until it is applied, the atonement itself is incomplete. Atonement is kind of like a marriage. It is not complete until the marriage has taken place. One can be in love but he is not married. One can be engaged but not married. A couple can co-habitate but they are not married until they are joined together in a legal ceremony.

    I see the atonement in the same manner. Jof you yourself said… “Christ died and gave his life as an atoning sacrifice (action) and the benefits of that will be realized in time (result)”

    How does that differ from what I said that the provisions of the atonement were completed at the cross but that atonement itself is not completed until it is applied to the believer?

    As to the issue of Christ dying for the sins of the world, how can anyone go to hell if their sins have been paid for on the cross? Simple; the application has not been made until they believe. There is no insufficiency in the sacrifice but in order for the benefits of the atonement to be applied, one MUST repent and believe. That is not what is problematic for the calvinist; the issue is how does one believe and who is responsible for those who do believe… and given the latter… if God is the One responsible THEN the atonement MUST be completed at the cross and not when repentance takes place and faith is exercised.

    The issue no one is defending is the argument that IF the atonement is completed at the cross as you are contending, then what is there to repent of and be saved from? The elect according to calvinism are NEVER in danger of God’s wrath and if the atonement is completed at the cross reconciliation is accomplished or completed before the elect are ever born.

    At least acknowledge the fact that the atonement is not complete until it is applied. That cannot be a difficult thing to do… since that is what everyone has said… you just refuse to admit it for some reason.

    • Waldensian says:

      Hi SBC

      All I can say is wow! Talk about being philosophical rather than theological, seriously!

      I’m not sure how many more ways we can explain this to you.

      The issue of whether Christ actually accomplished something on the cross is not determined by how well you can understand it, but whether or not you accept the clear testimony of scripture that states that it is so. Christ’s work on the cross is completed, in his own words “it is finished” (John 19:30). Yes, that salvation will not be immediately actualised in the lives of those that God before the foundation of the world chose-

      …everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (Rev 13:8 ESV)
      And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:15 ESV)
      …even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world
      (Eph 1:4a ESV)
      And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Rom 8:30 ESV)

      …to save perfectly by his own work and action not ours, until they through faith, which is something God gives us,

      For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
      (Eph 2:8-9 ESV)
      …and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Act 13:48b ESV)

      -obtain the benefits purchased by his atoning sacrifice.

      But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, (Heb 10:12 ESV)
      For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Heb 10:14 ESV)
      …whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. (Rom 3:25 ESV)

      Are the elect in danger of going to hell and experiencing the wrath of God until the moment in time when they believe and repent, no they are not, because if God determines to save a person he will accomplish exactly what he desires, as Christ said he will lose none of those that the Father has given him.

      All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (Joh 6:37 ESV)
      No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (Joh 6:44 ESV)
      “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. (Joh 17:6-7 ESV)

      The fact that we are sinners outside of Christ until we repent and believe doesn’t contradict the fact that God will not allow his people, the elect, to stay in that state and experience the same just condemnation of those that Christ didn’t atone for.

      Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (Rom 5:9-10 ESV)
      For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1Th 5:9b ESV)
      What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory (Rom 9:22-23 ESV)

      I guess that’s why is it is called grace, cause if you truly know your heart you should realize exactly what side of that dividing line you deserve to be on.

      Maybe you should just believe all of what the bible states rather than looking for ways to make the paradox’s fit, you are running a fool’s errand my friend if you think you will ever work all of this out and be able to answer the question “how”, you will either accept that there are things that you don’t understand because God has chosen not to shed sufficient light on them, and even if God did reveal them they would probably transcend the limits of our feeble finite minds, or you will continue to reject the plain teaching of so much of the scriptures and then twist them into something that you can reconcile with your theological pre-suppositions.

      Grace and mercy to you brother

      Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. (Job 42:1-3 ESV)

      Post tenebras lux

      • Les Prouty says:

        Waldensian,

        Great comments. Particularly have I never seen from synergists who deny unconditional election an answer to this:

        “…everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. (Rev 13:8 ESV)
        And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15 ESV)

        These particular names were known to God before the foundation of the world. When were they written in the book of life? Before the foundation of the world.

        So, that is a fixed number. How, in the non Calvinist view, is this verse reconciled with their view that Jesus atoned for everyone without exception and the number of people who ultimately will be saved is not known? Even not known to God.

        What, is God still adding names to the scroll?

      • Also reminds me of the absurdity I heard a non Calvinist preacher say,

        “When a sinner repents and believes, that’s when God elects him.”

      • Waldensian says:

        yeah it’s amazing to see the lengths people will go to get around those texts, it seems that they will believe just about anything except what the scriptures are plainly stating….then when you point it out “well you’re just forcing your pagan philosophy onto the bible”…really???

  45. Les Prouty says:

    Looks like Alabama Baptist editor Bob Terry (he used to be in Missouri and thankfully left) has stirred it up on the hymn I asked about above. Check out some of the firestorm http://thealabamabaptist.org/print-edition-article-detail.php?id_art=28401&pricat_art=10

  46. Les Prouty says:

    Andy Hynes has a fantastic post at SBC Voices this evening dealing with the subject we have been discussing in these recent comments. http://sbcvoices.com/the-three-fold-union-with-christ/

  47. Ken says:

    Les Prouty wrote: Also reminds me of the absurdity I heard a non Calvinist preacher say, “When a sinner repents and believes, that’s when God elects him.”
    That’s not an absurdity, that is gospel truth. God’s elect consist of those persons who “elect” Jesus as savior.
    :

  48. Ken says:

    Les:
    When we stand before God in judgment we’ll find out whose position is absurd. Good luck!

  49. Ken says:

    From some comments on this blog I suspect that some Calvinists(all ?) do not believe in the omniscience of God. Certainly my omniscient God knew who was going to be saved before He created man which would have permitted Him to enter their names into the Book of Life before creation, but He did not select a group whom He wished to be saved. It is God’s desire that all men be saved, according to 1 Timothy 2:3-4( as well as a multitude of other verses), “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come into the knowledge of truth). His omniscience permitted Him to know who would take advantage of His Plan of Salvation in which He offered eternal salvation to every person born into the world who would accept His Son, Jesus Christ, as Savior.

    He offered the Plan, which is: every person who wants to be saved – not just a select group whom God elected to be saved – can and must do his/her part and elect to profess Jesus as Savior.

    • Waldensian says:

      Hi Ken,

      I’m not sure if you have read much Spurgeon, Pink, Sproul, Edwards or any of the other numerous writings of Reformed preachers and theologians but I can assure you Calvinist’s most certainly do accept and promote the omniscience of God among his many other attributes. The question is not whether or not God’s has perfect knowledge of future events and in the context of salvation knows who are his and who are not. The assertion that you make that God merely looks down the corridors of time and seeing the faith of some people then chooses to elect them to eternal life is a position derived from a philosophical pre-supposition and not from the exegesis of the scriptures themselves.

      The scriptures are very clear that the basis of God’s election is not the actions of man but the sovereign desire and choice of the Potter. Romans nine gives a very clear answer to that question stating the very opposite to that which you are proposing-

      …though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad–in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls– (Rom 9:11 ESV)

      Paul also states in Ephesians that God’s motivation for choosing his people are not on the basis of their foreseen actions but rather-

      ..even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, (Eph 1:4-5 ESV)
      In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, (Eph 1:11 ESV)

      I would suggest that the only reason you even make that assertion is that you start with a rather sub-biblical view of man. Man in his natural state will not choose God as Paul clearly enunciates in romans particularly the first three chapters. This inability of the natural man is consistent with Jesus’ own words in John 6 that man is “unable” to come to him unless God first draws him and whoever is drawn will be saved-

      All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (Joh 6:37 ESV)
      No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (Joh 6:44 ESV)

      Faith is not something the natural man will ever produce in his fallen state, it is a gift of God graciously given for no other reason than his sovereign desire to demonstrate the full range of his attributes including both wrath and mercy among others.

      …each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Rom 12:3 ESV)
      For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8 ESV)
      For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, (Phi 1:29 ESV)
      And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. (Act 13:48 ESV)

      I would perhaps suggest reading all of the responses to this particular article by Calvinists regarding the new birth and the state of man as a fairly comprehensive rebuttal has been given by Les, Bob Wheeler and myself on that particular topic.

      You quoted 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and suggested that this text (among many others) proves that God really really wants to save everyone but it would seem is incapable of accomplishing his desires.
      It’s a common tactic of Arminian’s to throw these types of verses out there and just assume an interpretation without giving any exegesis of the texts themselves. Here’s the text-

      First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1Ti 2:1-6 ESV)

      The first verse uses the term “all” so you immediately assume a universal application for the rest of the passage, however Paul defines his usage of this “all” in the very next statement-

      for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

      Paul was addressing a persecuted church and he is encouraging them not to limit their evangelism and prayer life towards only certain types of people, he wasn’t suggesting that they needed to gather a long list of the names of every single person who had ever lived and pray for them, his statement to the Ephesians is that God can and will save anyone, even those that were violently opposed to the gospel as Paul himself would have been only to aware of given his rather dubious beginnings. God is not partial, he is not interested in saving only certain types of people, the gospel message is to all, gentiles, greeks, kings, rich man, slaves ect etc. It is in that context that his following statement is made-

      This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

      The proceeding statement makes it perfectly clear that the group that Paul is describing is not meant to be taken as meaning every single person who has ever lived in a universal sense as he states-

      For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
      To suggest that Paul’s meaning in the previous verses is that the “all” is every person that has ever lived creates a rather difficult problem for those that hold that view as we are told that whoever this group is Christ is mediating for them. Are you really suggesting that Christ is mediating for those in hell? Is Christ a perfect mediator or is he failing in this work? Was the writer of Hebrews wrong when he stated that-

      Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, (Heb 9:15 ESV)

      No of course not and as such that in itself should suggest to you that perhaps your understanding of this passage is incorrect. The context is quite simple God’s desire is to save for himself a people as John wrote-

      … from every tribe and language and people and nation, (Rev 5:9 ESV)

      Therefore the Ephesians should seek the salvation of all people not just those limited to their own demographic or “friendly” to the gospel call. To attempt to take the passage any further than that is not exegesis but rather to insert your own theological pre-suppositions into the text.
      Christians are not given knowledge of who the elect are and the message of the gospel serves many functions including being a word of judgement to those that reject its message, as such we are to take that proclamation to the “ends of the earth”.
      I have no doubt that God’s disposition is that all men will live righteously and in the knowledge of God, however that is not the same as stating his decree is to save every single person who has ever lived. I would suggest to you Ken that there are certain texts to try and make your case from, but as anyone can see if you take into account the context of the passage that this is simply not one of them.

      As stated above God’s plan (as you call it), is to demonstrate the full range of his attributes even those ones like hatred and wrath for sin that might make us modern folk a little uncomfortable, no one gets injustice with God he will do as he wills with that which he owns, he is the potter and you brother are his clay-

      Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump bone vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory– (Rom 9:21-23 ESV)

      The glory of all of this is not that God would execute justice to those who deserve it, but rather the startling truth, especially if you know your own heart, is that he would choose to save anyone, and that my friend is what makes grace so amazing.

      The difference between you and that hell bound sinner down the road is not that you were more spiritually sensitive, soft hearted or humble the difference isn’t in you at all, the difference is God supernaturally bringing you to spiritual life, granting you a heart that would willingly humble yourself and trust Christ for your salvation and passing over the other and granting him justice for his actions, and that is a God that deserves your endless praise and gratitude for his mercy and your fear and awe of his holiness.

      Why, when I came, was there no man; why, when I called, was there no one to answer? Is my hand shortened, that it cannot redeem? Or have I no power to deliver? (Isa 50:2 ESV)
      Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. (Psa 115:3 ESV)

      For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it? (1Co 4:7 ESV)

      Sola Gratia
      Sola Fide
      Solus Christus

      God bless you brother.

    • james jordan says:

      Just like Open Theists, Calvinists assert that the future cannot be known unless you are determining it, prescripting it, in which case you can know it. The difference between the Calvinist and the Open Theist, is the Calvinist will then assert that God has prescripted the future and therefore knows it, while the Open Theist will say he has not done so because it is important to God to give men freewill.

      You can’t think of Calvinists like Arminians, who believe the future is knowable without being prescripted, and therefore assert that freewill and foreknowledge are compatible. Rabbinic Jews, by the way, agree with you Arminians (that there is both foreknowledge and freewill, not that there is predestination of any sort), saying in the Tractate Pirkei Avot (Sayings or Ethics of the Fathers), chapter 3, quoting as coming from Rabbi Aqibah:

      “Everything is foreseen; and yet freewill is given. And the world is judged by grace; and yet everything is according to works.”

      I myself lean, rather in the Open Theist direction, believing that God IS omniscient, as far as knowing everything that CAN be known, but the future CANNOT be known, and therefore his not knowing the future exhaustively does NOT count against omniscience.

      • Waldensian says:

        Hi James,

        Thanks for demonstrating to everyone again the incoherence of your confused understanding-

        “God IS omniscient, as far as knowing everything that CAN be known, but the future CANNOT be known…”

        I guess we can tack open theism to your now long laundry list of heretical views, quite an impressive CV you are amassing I must say.

        Just wondering how you would understand the numerous passages that refute your particular philosophy, such as-

        …remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose, (Isa 46:9-10 ESV)

        How is God able to declare all events from the beginning to the very end if in fact you are correct and God cannot possibly know the future or have any control over the actions of men?

        How is that in Peter’s speech in Acts he states the following-

        …for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. (Act 4:27-28 ESV)

        Are we really meant to believe that Christ’s work at Calvary was not foreordained by God and that this plan did not include the sinful actions of Herod, Pilate and the Jewish leadership? That somehow Pilate may have looked at Jesus and said “wow! You seem so wise, I really need a good second in command around here, would you be interested in a Roman commission?” and at that point God’s plan to redeem his people would have been completely undone? Really James?

        What does it mean when Joseph states to his brothers-

        As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Gen 50:20 ESV)

        Does the text state that God reacted to the evil actions of the brothers? No, it states that God “meant it” that the purpose of God preceded the actions of those men who again were acting by their own choice yet at the same time by the eternal decree of God to accomplish his purpose in those actions.

        If God does not impede on this idol of “free will” as you call it, what sense could we make of Isaiah chapter 10 where God uses a Pagan King to judge his people-

        Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury! Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets. But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think; but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few; (Isa 10:5-7 ESV)

        The text states that is was not in the heart of the King of Assyria to move against Israel but God put it there-

        …But he does not so intend, and his heart does not so think;
        … Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him

        But at the same time it was part of the kings nature to act in this way-

        …but it is in his heart to destroy, and to cut off nations not a few;

        And as a result God judges him for it –

        When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, he will punish the speech of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the boastful look in his eyes. For he says: “By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones. My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as one gathers eggs that have been forsaken, so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing or opened the mouth or chirped.” Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood! (Isa 10:12-15 ESV)

        Another clear example of God’s action over the will of man and at the same time the sinful free choice of man in carrying it out.

        Apparently God never impedes on man’s will, yet the proverbs states-

        The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. (Pro 21:1 ESV)

        The fact that you and I can’t understand how both of those things can operate harmoniously at the same time is not the fault of the scriptures; if anything it demonstrates the frailty and limitation of our finite minds to grasp the omnipotence of a God that far transcends our ability to understand all of his ways. The sovereign pre-determined decree of God over all things and the free actions of men and their subsequent culpability for them are scattered throughout the scriptures, and you either accept that or in your case reject it and attempt to replace it with a philosophical system that is not exegetically derived.

        I would assert that in fact every Christian understands this, in a sense it is our default position as new creatures, every believer even Arminians pray fervently that God will save their lost loved ones, from your prospective and that of my Arminians brothers, what sense does that type of prayer actually make. If God has done everything he can to save that person and now it is up to man’s choice and God never impedes on the glorious sanctity of man’s (alleged) free will, what exactly are you asking God to do?

        I think John Calvin was spot on when he described the same man-centred views about God in his own day as-

        “Mingled vanity and pride appear in this, that when miserable men do seek after God, instead of ascending higher than themselves as they ought to do, they measure him by their own carnal stupidity, and, neglecting solid inquiry, fly off to indulge their curiosity in vain speculation. Hence, they do not conceive of him in the character in which he is manifested, but imagine him to be whatever their own rashness has devised. This abyss standing open, they cannot move one footstep without rushing headlong to destruction. With such an idea of God, nothing which they may attempt to offer in the way of worship or obedience can have any value in his sight, because it is not him they worship, but, instead of him, the dream and figment of their own heart. “(Institutes of the Christian Religion – Book 1 Chapter 4)

        God bless

        Post tenebras lux

        “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us…” (Deu 29:29 ESV)

      • james jordan says:

        It always amazes me how little the guardians of orthodoxy know about the context of their fortune cookies proof texts.

        “…declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” (Isa 46:9-10 ESV)

        1.) God doesn’t declare to us EVERYTHING that will happen in the future, only certain major events.

        2.) The context here is his prediction of the Baylonian captivity in Deut 28, which is also only a PROVISIONAL prediction. There are two choices there, and they are in the hands of the nation, not God.

        3.) Certain major events are predetermined, conditionally, upon whether the people do X or Y, hence the “I will accomplish all my purpose,” which purpose is to follow his own stated plan and do X2 if the people do X1, and do Y2 if the people do Y1.

        4.) Just because certain major events are predetermined doesn’t mean everything is. And besides this, even these events are provisional.

        5.) Prophecies come in the form of it you do this, this will happen, if you repent, this will happen. Not just “this will happen no matter what” unless we are talking about the dawning of the Messianic age and universal peace and such-like.

        “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen 50:20 ESV)

        Why do you view every human statement in Scripture as if God himself said it? Joseph can think all he wants that God put the evil intention in his brothers’ hearts, but that doesn’t make it so. And he could also have just used clumsy language. But, even this can be interpreted as meaning that God turned the outcome of their intention to good, rather than that God formed their evil intention. Only an evil man reads the passage as you do, and you are without excuse, since James says God does not tempt any man to do evil, which would means certainly he also doesn’t force any many to do evil or coerce or cause or any other such term. Oh, that’s right, James is an epistle of straw, right?

        “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Pro 21:1 ESV)

        Are you the king? who the hell is the king? everyone? no.

        Does God ALWAYS control the kings’ heart? no.

        What then does this mean? It means when you are a big evil sinner who sends armies out to kill people and to steal their property, who oppresses people with taxes, who has women kidnapped to be put in your harem, God views you as having forfeited all rights, and begins to use you to accomplish his purpose of disciplining his people. This is how God can use the Assyrian king as a razor. This is how it can be said that his rod is an evil man. When you by freewill make yourself a putrid king, you essentially forfeit a certain amount of freewill and become nothing but a pawn for God’s nation building purposes.

        Act 4:27-28 is nothing but putrid antisemitism that deserve to be burned along with Luther’s antisemitic rants. Its not believable because every prophecy used to claim these things were predicted is in fact a prophecy of the Babylonian captivity repurposed and twisted to make it look like its about Jesus. And yet, irony of ironies, you antisemites hold “the Jews” as a corporate whole, even the Jews alive today who obviously weren’t there, accountable for killing Jesus, despite that you claim it was predestined and God made them do it!!!!! You are so putrid and disgusting! I’ve come myself to the conclusion that pretty none of what is asserted to have taken place in the New Testament ever happened. Its all the invention of disgusting antisemites.

        “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us…” (Deu 29:29 ESV)

        Why don’t you quote the rest of this one???????

        “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deu 29:29 ESV, IN FULL)

        So the meaning is that it is not man’s part to be philosophizing about God’s secret plan like iditios do — that’s all you do. Its man’s part to obey God’s commandments!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        God gave a Law that is the property of the people and their children FOREVER, and that’s all they need. They do need the secret things, which is why they’re a secret. So rather than trying to pry into the secret things like an idiot, Waldo, go and obey God’s Law.

      • Waldensian says:

        Hi James,

        Thank you for the interaction, I think you made it quite clear from your response exactly where you are theologically and the inconsistent and unbiblical nature of your unique views.

        Your response was rather illuminating to say the least.

        God bless

        But it is the spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand. (Job 32:8 ESV)

        Tota Scriptura

      • james jordan says:

        Waldo, all Job 32:8 is saying ia that the human spirit which originates from the breath of God (have you ever read Genesis 1-2????) is what makes man a rational being. Its not spouting your moronic “Reformed” doctrine that nobody can understand anything without a magical possession by the Holy Spirit.

      • james jordan says:

        obviously at the end that should be “They doN’T need the secret things, which is why they’re a secret.”

  50. Pingback: James White’s “Could Lazarus Have Said ‘NO’?” | dorightchristians

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