Why Are Some Saved and Others Not?

One of the major questions with respect to the issue of calvinism is the following, “Why are some saved and others not saved?”

This question is often used to set the stage for God’s efficacious calling because the obvious answer must be, “well since it is God who saves, He must be the determining factor because man cannot be and God is the One who is both sovereign and omniscient.” Makes sense doesn’t it? Maybe not.

The calvinist has the same problem when it comes to sanctification but that is never mentioned. When a person gets saved, God through the indwelling Holy Spirit begins to transform the new born Christian to have the mind of Christ. Some do better than others in responding to that process. Why is that the case?

I believe the answer lies not with God but with us. God has given us the choice to choose. He has also given us the consequences of those choices. When we chose His will and accept His promises and by obedience follow His directions by faith we grow and become more like Christ and our lives and the lives of those around us benefit. When we choose to do what seems right in our own eyes, our faith walk suffers and our lives fail to reach the potential that God has planned for us and everyone suffers.

If God is sovereign over salvation from the standpoint that He determines who will irresistibly be saved then it would seem to follow that He would also be sovereign over their growth as a Christian and they would irresistibly grow in the grace and nurture of the Lord as well and be perfectly made Christians in their daily walk. However, that is not how the Bible pictures God’s involvement in men’s lives.

God has chosen to reveal Himself to man; He has chosen to reconcile lost men unto Himself and based on a person’s response, God keeps His promise to save or damn, to bless or curse and to develop or not. Man makes the choice that determines God’s action with respect to the quality of his life today and the destination of his soul in eternity.

The answer to the question, “Why are some saved and others not” is the same for the question, “Why do some Christians mature in Christ while others do not.” God is the constant in both; man provides the variables that determine the outcomes in both scenarios.

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About sbcissues

Interested in bringing the issues facing The Southern Baptist Convention to light.
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53 Responses to Why Are Some Saved and Others Not?

  1. Randy says:

    To go along with your thoughts on this – if it’s all up to God’s sovereignty and man has nothing at all to do with it, then our Lord must be doing a poor job. Over 70% of people in America are professing Christians and look at the sad shape of our society. How do lukewarm believers or false believers bring glory to God? However, if mankind has choices to make, then it’s easy to understand that God has not failed at all, but he has given mankind the way to salvation (the Lord Jesus Christ), and the believer the power of sanctification (the Holy Spirit) which both do a perfect work, but we as imperfect people can make poor choices that take us completely out of God’s will. We fail, but God never fails.

    • sbcissues says:

      Randy,

      I think you are absolutely right. The point that I am making here is that sanctification is dependent on our obedience and our response to God but God’s sovereignty is apparently a problem here BUT when it comes to BEING BORN AGAIN it cannot be a man;s decision that determines God’s response.

      If calvinists are correct, then I wonder why God destroyed the world by a flood because the wickedness of man was so great; since it is God who determines who is and is not in the club the reason for the flood was more His doing than that of man… since they are all dead unless He makes them alive.

      I still have no idea how anyone with any level of intelligence can believe God is the One who decides who gets to be saved and go to heaven and He is the One who decides who does not. Simpy amazing to me.

    • JD Hall says:

      I could say the same about your view of Unlimited Atonement. If Christ came to save everyone, he failed – miserably. But if Christ died to save those who have faith (who are those to whom he gives faith) then his success rate is 100%. I think Jesus actually saves people he intends to save, therefore I believe in a limited, successful atonement.

      • sbcissues says:

        I believe Christ came to save all those who repent and believe in Him… so He does what He says He will and that is a 100% success rate. I believe He saves those He promises He will save; those who repent and believe. I too believe in a limiting atonement; limited to those who repent and believe.

  2. Les Prouty says:

    Bob,

    Good to have you back brother. Missed you posting. You wrote:

    “Man makes the choice that determines God’s action with respect to the quality of his life today and the destination of his soul in eternity.”

    Let me state up front that Reformed folks like me see man’s regeneration as completely 100% and act of God (monergism) and sanctification as God and man working (synergism). That said, your comment I quoted seems to me to put man’s final destiny (his soul in eternity) in man’s hands, not God’s. Man is the final arbiter of his ultimate destiny in your view here, right?

    Les

    • sbcissues says:

      Les,

      Man MUST choose to believe by faith that God is everything He says He is and that He will do everything He says He will do… Revelation and reconciliation BOTH demand a response; God’s choice is already made concerning our eternal destiny; He is not willing that ANY should perish but that all come to repentance. Not all do come to repentance and so those who do are saved and those who do not are not saved and do not believe and those are condemned because they have not believed in the Only begotten Son of God.

      Seems simple enough to me; what is not so simple is the contention that God decides who believes and who does not. That my dear brother is a concept I cannot accept.

    • Les Prouty says:

      Bob, not sure if I have enough intelligence to comment here. 🙂

      But you didn’t directly reply to my question:

      ““Man makes the choice that determines God’s action with respect to the quality of his life today and the destination of his soul in eternity.”

      [Y]our comment I quoted seems to me to put man’s final destiny (his soul in eternity) in man’s hands, not God’s. Man is the final arbiter of his ultimate destiny in your view here, right?”

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        Sorry if I am not willing to use your exact words… because your premise is incorrect. Nothing is in “man’s hands”. Man does have a responsibility to choose to repent or not to repent to believe or not to believe. However, since it is God who sets the consequences I would say God is the One who is sovereign over our conversion…

        You and I will agree at that point. The point we do not agree on is “who determines who does and does not believe.” I believe God gives man the responsibility to choose and you believe God makes that determination for the lost person. That is the difference so lets keep everything on its proper plain here.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Well Bob, who is the final arbiter of man’s eternal destiny? God or man?

      • sbcissues says:

        I would say the final arbiter would be God since He is the One who saves.

      • Les Prouty says:

        “I would say the final arbiter would be God since He is the One who saves.”

        That is all Calvinists have been saying all along.

      • sbcissues says:

        Les,

        I do not know of ANYONE that would argue that man is the “final arbiter of his salvation.” God is the One who saves those who repent and believe.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob, again, “God is the One who saves those who repent and believe.” We all agree then. God has decided. He is the final arbiter of who enters into glory. Amen and amen.

        Just know though, as you and others like to say that Calvinism entails certain things (logical consequences some say, entailments Dr. Rogers likes to say at SBC Today), the entailment or logical consequence of your statement “Man makes the choice that determines God’s action with respect to the quality of his life today and the destination of his soul in eternity” is that man is the final arbiter of his eternal destiny. That statement and your statement “I would say the final arbiter would be God since He is the One who saves” cannot both be true.

      • sbcissues says:

        I disagree that they cannot BOTH be true. If God’s arbitrary decision is based on man’s choice with respect to the consequences predetermined by God THEN they can and in fact ARE both true.

        Your narrow position on God’s sovereignty may not allow it to be so but that does not mean it is necessarily contradictory, which is what you are trying to assert.

      • Les Prouty says:

        Bob,

        “I disagree that they cannot BOTH be true.”

        Well that’s a huge admission. Calvinists are chided all the time for saying that God has chosen from the foundation of the world a certain number from all humanity for heaven (but not every human human) AND for saying that as well man has freedom to choose to believe or reject Christ. Contradictory we are told. Hmmm. We say both can be and in fact are true. And now you are offering a similar defense.

        “If God’s arbitrary decision is based on man’s choice with respect to the consequences predetermined by God THEN they can and in fact ARE both true.”

        Well first, I do not accept that whatever God is arbitrary. That word means, “based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.”

        Nothing God does is arbitrary. The rest of what you said I don’t understand what you mean.

      • sbcissues says:

        I was using arbitrary in the sense of His being arbiter in your language… not in the sense that you defined here.

      • Les Prouty says:

        I see. Arbiter definition: “One who has the power to judge or ordain at will.”

  3. Drew Mery says:

    Bob,

    You’re attempting to philosophize again, rather than exegete the teaching of Scripture. You attempt to make a logical argument, which I must say, falls far short of being logical and conforming to the clear teaching of Scripture. In essence, what you’re saying is: if sanctification is a cooperation between God and man, then our new birth must also be a cooperation between God and man. This simply does not follow (but you are more than welcome to attempt to prove your point). Further, as Les has already mentioned, we Calvinists are fully aware that sanctification is synergistic (e.g. Phil. 2:12-13). Calvinists have no problem here. Lastly, you’re failing to consider that in the sphere (if you will) of sanctification man is already saved. They have eternal life, they only wait the final culmination of it. Sanctification is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18), and as a process has ups and downs. In other words, sanctification being synergistic is perfectly compatible with salvation being wholly of God’s grace, to His glory. However, to say that the new birth is synergistic is not compatible with this. You make man the final determiner of his salvation, and therefore man has something to boast in. You make salvation both a work of God and man, rather than wholly a work of God. Once again you fail to take notice of the particular characteristics of each element of the ordo salutis. In short, your post simply fails to deal with the Scriptures that teach that salvation is wholly of God’s grace, and that the new birth is monergistic (which you and I already had a lengthy discussion on).

    And Les, you asked Bob: “Man is the final arbiter of his ultimate destiny in your view here, right?” I’ll answer your question for him. Yes, he does. This is one of his comments from his last post: “God’s choice concerning my eternal destination is based not on Him but on my answer to the question, ‘What am I going to do with this man called Jesus?'” Bob, not only does this go against the grain of Scripture — God’s sovereign grace in salvation — but it’s like saying people go to hell because they don’t believe the gospel. This isn’t even accurate. People go to hell because of their SIN, of which unbelief is an aspect, having rejected the only means of salvation. It’s sad, because there is an element of truth to your statement — we must repent and believe if we are to be saved (which is implied in your statment) — but it fails on other major elements (the inability/unwillingness of man to believe, God’s sovereign grace in salvation, and the reason why people are condemned).

    Bob, please, just give an honest reading of Scripture, of what it says about man and his sinful nature, of God and His sovereignty, and of the nature of salvation. It is so clear in Scripture. Once I stopped skipping Scripture that clearly went against my beliefs, and stopped explaining away certain passages, it became a lot more pleasurable reading the Scriptures. I realized that God’s word is for our good and His glory, and I need not fear what I find in it. If it teaches God’s sovereign grace in salvation (which is very clearly does), then so be it; praise be to God!

    “Why I Love the Doctrines of Grace”: http://wp.me/p2D428-44

    • Les Prouty says:

      Drew, you summed up the issues very well. I like your post you linked to as well. And your site is chock full of excellent resources and posts.

    • sbcissues says:

      Drew,

      Let me comment on the following statement you made… ” In essence, what you’re saying is: if sanctification is a cooperation between God and man, then our new birth must also be a cooperation between God and man.”

      Actually that is incorrect. That is not what I was saying at all. What I was saying is that calvinistas have no problem where sanctification is concerned and man’s participation in the process does not rob God if His sovereignty but when it comes to regeneration all of His sovereignty is a BIG deal. There is a big difference in the two arguments.

      You then wrote… “Bob, please, just give an honest reading of Scripture, of what it says about man and his sinful nature, of God and His sovereignty, and of the nature of salvation.” Believe me I am very well versed and have a good grasp of what I believe the Scriptures teach where salvation is concerned and that is why I am NOT A CALVINIST.

      Monday I will begin writing a Book titled: Soteriology Simplified and it will begin on a much different foundation that what total depravity and inability provide. I covet your prayers!

      • JD Hall says:

        I would beg you not to do that until you have a better grasp of the Bible. Your denials of depravity and Original Sin have been the most Pelagian of any that I’ve seen in the Southern Baptist Convention.

      • sbcissues says:

        JD

        My grasp of the Scriptures is the basis for the new book. I assure you there is nothing Pelagian in my theology. That is a lame posit on your part because I do not accept the tenets of TD/TI as you see them. It is what it is I guess… since you continue to repeat it.

    • Drew Mery says:

      Bob,

      Thanks for the reply. YOu said: “What I was saying is that calvinistas have no problem where sanctification is concerned and man’s participation in the process does not rob God if His sovereignty but when it comes to regeneration all of His sovereignty is a BIG deal. There is a big difference in the two arguments.”

      The reason we see a difference between the two — that is, regeneration and sanctification — is because the Bible clearly teaches a difference. In my post I explained the importance of recognizing these differences: “Lastly, you’re failing to consider that in the sphere (if you will) of sanctification man is already saved. They have eternal life, they only wait the final culmination of it. Sanctification is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18), and as a process has ups and downs. In other words, sanctification being synergistic is perfectly compatible with salvation being wholly of God’s grace, to His glory. However, to say that the new birth is synergistic is not compatible with this. You make man the final determiner of his salvation, and therefore man has something to boast in. You make salvation both a work of God and man, rather than wholly a work of God.” Even still, sanctification is grounded in the sovereign and gracious work of God — namely the Holy Spirit — as JD has nicely pointed out.

      You said: “Monday I will begin writing a Book titled: Soteriology Simplified and it will begin on a much different foundation that what total depravity and inability provide. I covet your prayers!”

      With all due respect, I personally would advice you not to write such a book. From what I’ve seen on this blog, you continually confuse the various elements/aspects of salvation, as well as misunderstand the Calvinist position. Writing a book isn’t going to straighten these things out. Nonetheless, if you do write this book, you can expect me to provide a review of it.

      • sbcissues says:

        Drew,

        You wrote, “From what I’ve seen on this blog, you continually confuse the various elements/aspects of salvation, as well as misunderstand the Calvinist position.”

        It is true ONE of us is confused.

  4. Arnold says:

    Wrong from any standpoint. Salvation is an act of grace of God, you can do anything to earn it. “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.” Titus 3:5. When you “choose” whether to “accept” that salvation or not that means “works done by us” that is humanism and salvation is not by grace it’s by human choice.
    Please go to the basics, read more the Bible, read more from our early fathers and leave humanism.

    • sbcissues says:

      Arnold.

      Let me ask you a question… do you believe a person can be saved without repenting or exercising believing faith? Seems to me your own argument puts your own theological position in jeopardy.

  5. JD Hall says:

    With respect to Les, most Calvinists would argue that even sanctification is work of God the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23) who works in us to both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13) according to the measure of grace he’s given us and proportioned to us (Ephesians 4:7). Just as no man can take credit for his sanctification because it’s a work of God, the same is said for our regeneration. It would also help the discussion, Bob, if you would phrase things in Biblically precise terms. IE, you continue to speak of “salvation” and “sanctification” as though they are two different things. Sanctification is within the order of salvation (2nd Thessalonians 2:13). Instead of using the term “salvation” I think you mean either “regeneration” or “justification” or perhaps “conversion,” which are also a part of that broader term, salvation. We must be monergists through and through – from election to glorification – all a work of God alone.

    • Les Prouty says:

      JD, thank you for prompting me to expand a bit on what I said about sanctification being synergistic. I agree sanctification is a work of God. And I agree that we can take no credit for anything good. The point I was making is the distinction between regeneration and sanctification. Packer captures well what I was trying to get at:

      “Regeneration was a momentary monergistic act of quickening the spiritually dead. As such, it was God’s work alone. Sanctification, however, is in one sense synergistic — it is an ongoing cooperative process in which regenerate persons, alive to God and freed from sin’s dominion (Rom. 6:11, 14-18), are required to exert themselves in sustained obedience. God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but God-dependent effort (2 Cor. 7: 1; Phil. 3:10-14; Heb. 12:14). Knowing that without Christ’s enabling we can do nothing, morally speaking, as we should, and that he is ready to strengthen us for all that we have to do (Phil. 4:13), we “stay put” (remain, abide) in Christ, asking for his help constantly — and we receive it (Col. 1: 11; 1 Tim. 1: 12; 2 Tim. 1: 7; 2: 1).

      Thanks brother.

    • Drew Mery says:

      JD,

      Great points (and great site!…I’ve visited your site before in the past). When you say, “We must be monergists through and through – from election to glorification – all a work of God alone,” aren’t you introducing a new usage of the word monergism than it has historicaly been used/understood? Mongerism is historically used in regards to regeneration/new birth, that man contributes nothing to it. I have never heard monergism used to refer to the whole of the ordo salutis. There is a sense in which we can stand back and take a broad look at all that salvation involves and say, “That’s all a work of God’s grace, through and through.” Yet, there are certain aspects or elements of the ordo salutis that are purely God alone (e.g. regeneration) and other elements that are a combination of God and man (i.e. God’s grace working in and through us; e.g. sanctification). Yes, ultimately, sanctification is of God as He works in and through us; but we do have a responsibility in sanctification as well (Phil. 2:12-13). In that case, it is proper, in keeping with the historical meaning and usage of the terms, monergism and synergism, to refer to sanctification as synergistic.

      • JD Hall says:

        Yes, that’s correct, Drew. “Monergism” typically/historically refers to the nature of regeneration or conversion. And yet I would stop short of calling sanctification “Synergistic.” I am there, the same way box cars go down a track. But God the Holy Spirit is who sanctifies, like the engine that pushes the train down the tracks.

      • sbcissues says:

        JD and Drew,

        You said “it is the Holy Spirit that sanctifies” but that process is based on man’s response to the process right? If not that means the Holy Spirit is directly responsible for the spiritual maturity of some believers and is also responsible for the spiritual ineptness of others right?

        i simply believe the same thing to be true of conversion.

      • JD Hall says:

        I don’t see a “reply” button on your comment to me and Drew, Bob. Yes, the Holy Spirit is directly responsible for the level of sanctification in the believer, and as such, receives all the credit, glory and honor. And yet, if the Holy Spirit does not sanctify a person (which only happens because they are not saved, because we are predestined to become conformed to the image of Christ [Romans 8:29] and the Holy Spirit finishes the work he started [Philippians 1:6]) they only have their depraved nature and evil inclinations of their heart to blame. Concerning your assumption that the Holy Spirit’s sanctification is dependent upon the person’s cooperation, I would say resoundingly, “no.” Rather, it’s the opposite. Our cooperative attitude in sanctification is dependent upon the Holy Spirit’s working in us to will and to do. The same is true for conversion.

      • sbcissues says:

        But our cooperation is necessary none the less… I understand the difference in the reason FOR that cooperation but that does not negate the necessity of cooperation.

        My point is simple: cooperation does not rob God of His sovereignty. That is a lame argument.

      • Drew Mery says:

        JD,

        Thanks for the reply and clarification. I understand your reluctance to refer to sanctification as “synergistic”. I would certainly qualify terms when when referring to sanctification as syngergistic. I for one do not mean by that that God does 50% and we do 50%, or anything like that. I agree with your following comment to Bob: “Our cooperative attitude in sanctification is dependent upon the Holy Spirit’s working in us to will and to do.”

      • JD Hall says:

        “My point is simple: Cooperation does not rob God of his sovereignty.”

        If God’s saving of a man is CONTINGENT upon his cooperation, this it does rob God of his sovereignty. Now, of course a man cooperates in sanctification, but this cooperation is a work of God the Holy Spirit. Likewise, a person has faith and repents in conversion, but these are also gifts/works of God the Holy Spirit. The issue here is who you are crediting with faith and repentance (in conversion) or cooperation (in sanctification). The Monergist says “these things are God’s contribution” and the Synergist says “these things are man’s contribution.”

        Bob, you seem to believe that faith is innate, that it’s something all lost people have if they would only choose to use it or exercise it. But that concept is foreign to Scripture. There is no such thing as “un-exercised faith.” Faith, by definition, trusts and believes. There’s no such thing as a faith that does not trust and belief – that’s called “disbelief.” Faith has to be given by God (Ephesians 2:9 and about a dozen other places). Does everyone have faith, Bob? No – they don’t. Do you know why not everyone has faith? It’s because God hasn’t given them faith.

        Furthermore, you say somewhere in this thread that you “simply cannot stomach that God is in charge of who and who does not believe” (or some version of that). Who would you rather in charge of salvation, Bob? You? Me? The unrepentant sinner? If my faith was up to me, I would be damned.

  6. Matt Privett says:

    Paul seemed to say pretty clearly in Ephesians 2 something Jesus also didn’t lack ambiguity on with Nicodemus in John 3; namely, that God makes sinners who are dead in their trespasses and sins alive. Christians are born from above, of the Spirit (Eph 2:4-5; John 3:3-8). Salvation is of the LORD (Jon 2:10). Then…

    “Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, IF GOD PERMITS” (Heb 6:1-3, emphasis mine).

    It would seem the writer of Hebrews, writing the breathed out word of God, believed that any sanctification in us was ultimately the prerogative of a sovereign, choosing God, through the work of the Spirit (cf. 2 Thess 2:13).

    This article crowns some men with many crowns because they are more sanctified than others, assuming the weight of the glory attributed to God is somehow dependent on how much we conform ourselves to the image of His Son. The Bible doesn’t tell us so.

    • sbcissues says:

      God makes sinners who are dead in their trespasses and sins alive. Christians are born from above, of the Spirit (Eph 2:4-5; John 3:3-8). Salvation is of the LORD (Jon 2:10).

      AMEN. I believe that 110%.

      Now as to the highlighted phrase, IF GOD PERMITS… what is it that Paul is saying here? Seems to me you are saying that the phrase has to do with God’s sovereignty over their resurrection and eternal judgement; I do not believe that to be the case. I believe the phrase reaches back to the thrust of the verse which is the phrase “leaving the elementary teachings about the Christ” this is what we will do IF GOD PERMITS…

      If you are indeed correct that sanctification is ultimately attributed to the prerogative of a sovereign God… they why is there no power in our churches today… is it God’s fault or is it our fault?

      Your criticism of my position is pitifully weak and poorly leveled. No one “conforms himself to the image of God’s Son but we are I believe responsible for our response to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the new born believer. Otherwise, God is solely responsible and as Randy pointed out in the very first comment, that means He is not doing a very good job. God is NOT responsible for everything that the calvinists claim He is.

      • Matt Privett says:

        First of all, Paul didn’t write Hebrews 6:1-3, but that’s neither here nor there.

        Secondly, I’m absolutely saying that the IF GOD PERMITS has to do with our “leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ” and “[pressing on] to maturity.” That’s the whole point! Of course we are responsible to obey Christ in every respect, but because of our sinfulness we are totally unable to do so. You seem to believe that sanctification is the work of man. If that’s the case man should get the glory for living the Christian life, not God. You should take your theology to its logical conclusion and just go ahead and affirm that man keeps himself saved by not leaving the elementary teachings… that man keeps himself saved by his own sanctification.

        I don’t for a second deny that man is responsible to God in every respect, including the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. My question for you is this: If “man makes the choice that determines God’s action with respect to the quality of his life today and the destination of his soul in eternity,” then please tell me… What is God’s action in sanctification if it’s by the power (the choice) of man that sanctification happens? You’ve made God into a genie in a bottle, just dying to conform us to holiness, but He just can’t because we won’t let Him? That’s a weak god, and THAT is a poorly reasoned and poorly leveled argument.

      • sbcissues says:

        Matt,
        My point is that Paul’s (or the writer of Hebrews 6) is that If God permits references “leaving the elementary TEACHING” in that he is going to be teaching on the meatier aspects if God permits… not going on to more mature things as individuals.

        One of the things that is interesting is the retort that non-cals are constantly misrepresenting the cal position etc… well seems to be a prevalent problem with you guys as well. You see I NEVER indicate that “salvation is the work of man.” That is a poor understanding of my statement. You see our response is ALWAYS with reference to the workings of the Holy Spirit either though revelation or reconciliation, both of which are of God’s sole doing. So, nothing an individual does is of his own doing where the things of God are concerned, conversion or sanctification. I believe we will agree completely at that point. I will simply overlook the rest of your comment.

        You asked, “What is God’s action in sanctification if it’s by the power (the choice) of man that sanctification happens?” Unless I am badly mistaken, which I am NOT, God has set the consequences of our choices, has He not? So He blesses and He chastens His children based on their choices and the consequences of those choices. I do not see anything so difficult with this statement. It is not that He can’t; it is that He may not. There is a huge difference in the two concepts. One you suggest or are reading INTO my position. It is again an inaccurate one.

        I can argue that I believe more in the sovereignty of God than you do but one thing is definitely true; we see the implications of that sovereignty in very different ways but I will argue that His sovereignty or lack thereof is not the issue.

  7. Matt Privett says:

    If, as you say, you believe that “nothing an individual does is of his own doing where the things of God are concerned,” then how can any man choose God?

    • sbcissues says:

      He MUST respond to God’s revelation of Himself and God’s initiative in seeking to reconcile the world unto Himself. The Word and the Holy Spirit work to bring man to repentance and believing faith resulting in new birth.

      • Matt Privett says:

        Yes, he must respond. I agree wholeheartedly with that. I also agree that it is the Word and the Holy Spirit’s work bringing that man to repentance and believing faith. Where you lose it is saying that repentance and faith bring result in the new birth. It’s the other way around but I’m quite sure, since unless a man is born from above he cannot even see the kingdom of God (hence no reason to repentance and have faith in anything). Dead men can’t repent and have faith. Those made alive can and always do.

        By the way, God wasn’t seeking to reconcile the world to Himself. He was actually doing it (2 Cor 5:19). Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost. The question is, “Who are lost people?” Are they every individual sinner? No. They are those whom God has chosen (1 Cor 1). After all, it’s the sheep that are lost, not goats. And Jesus’ sheep hear His voice and they follow Him.

      • sbcissues says:

        Matt,

        I will give you props… your commentary remarks on who are the lost is a new one for me… had not read that one before.

        What equally amazes me is this interpretation of Jesus’ remarks that “unless a man is born from above he cannot even see the kingdom of God” has ANYTHING TO DO WITH regeneration prior to repentance and believing faith. If that is not an example of bringing a preconceived theological premise to a text and reading it into the text there is not one.

        This whole notion that dead men cannot repent and have faith is indeed out there. I argue dead men do not sin either. Here is the problem I have with the dead man/regeneration thing: regeneration or new life is the result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for “if one does not have the spirit, he does not have life.” (Ro 8:9) This creates 2 problems for me.

        First of all, regeneration was not even possible in the OT because the indwelling does not take place until Pentecost. Second, if one believes that regeneration precedes repentance and believing faith then that means your system has the Holy Spirit taking up residence in a non-repentant heart and I find that especially problematic.

        I know the common response is that regeneration is not the indwelling but if it is new life and that is exactly what it is THEN that new life can only come from the life giving Spirit that takes up residence in the lost person’s heart WHEN he is born again or converted.

  8. Bob Wheeler says:

    The difference between justification and sanctification is this: In the case of justification, we are talking about a spiritual dead unregenerate sinner who is in bondage to sin and therefore does not have the ability to repent and believe. But in the case of sanctification we are talking about a Christian who has been renewed by the Holy Spirit and now has spiritual life. He now has an ability to obey that he did not have before he was saved.
    Both Jesus and Paul addressed the issue of why some believe and others do not. In both cases the question was this: If the Jews are God’s chosen people, then why were they rejecting the gospel? The answer in both cases is that not that man has a free will and therefore God cannot control who believes and who does not believe; It is because God chooses some and not others (John 6; Romans 9).

    • sbcissues says:

      Bob,

      You said,,, “In the case of justification, we are talking about a spiritual dead unregenerate sinner who is in bondage to sin and therefore does not have the ability to repent and believe.” I believe the “unregenerate sinner has not repented and believed.” I believe God has chosen the means of revelation and reconciliation to bring righteousness to fallen mankind; both require a response and that response is repentance and believing faith that brings justification.

      I also disagree with the conclusion you posit that God chooses some to believe and others to not believe. Thanks for your comments.

  9. Bob Wheeler says:

    During your absence I did a point by point review of the “Statement of the Traditional Southern Baptists Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation,” devoting an individual blog post to each of the ten articles. You’re welcome to read it and comment at The Berean Observer (http://bereanobserver.blogspot.com/).

  10. Les Prouty says:

    Bob,

    I looked over there and like what little I’ve seen so far. You are taking a deliberative and unemotional approach.

    Can you save us a little time and tell us the date for the first article? I’m looking using my iPad and searching would take a little longer. Once I have the first article should be easy to follow on through,

    Thanks.

  11. THE SERPENT OF BRONZE

    The Israelites spoke against God and Moses, so God sent fiery serpents among them because they sinned and many people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:4-7)

    God gave them a plan to escape death.

    Numbers 21:8-9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. (NKJV)

    TAKE NOTICE.

    1. Not one Israelite said “Looking at the bronze serpent did not save me from death, because I was saved the minute I believed in the message of Moses.”

    2. Not one Israelite said “I was saved from death by faith alone, and looking at the bronze serpent was just an act of obedience.”

    3. Not one Israelite said, “Looking at the serpent of bronze was a testimony of my faith, however, it had no bearing on my sins being forgiven by the Lord and I was saved from death before I looked at the bronze serpent.”

    4. Not one Israelite said, ” Looking at a serpent of bronze is a work and works cannot saved anyone from death.”

    5. Not one Israelite said, “Moses meant that we were to look at the serpent of bronze because we were already saved from death.”

    6. Not one Israelite said, ” You must look at the serpent of bronze in order to join the local synagogue, however, it has nothing to do with being saved from death.”

    7. Not one Israelite said, There are three modes of looking at the serpent of bronze. 1. Looking at the serpent of bronze. 2. Talking about looking at the serpent of bronze. 3. Reading a book about looking at the serpent of bronze.

    8. Not one Israelite said, “Looking at the serpent is an outward sign that we have already been saved from death.”

    You notice, that unlike the denominational churches of today, the Israelites did not write down some man-creeds in order to be saved from death from snake bites. They believed the words of Moses, as spoken by the Lord.

    If only men today would simply believe what God says about the terms of pardon under the New Covenant.

    THE TERMS: 1. Faith-John 3:16 2. Repentance-Acts 2:38, Acts 19:3 3. Confession-Romans 10:9 4. Water baptism-Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21

    YOu ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY CHRISTIAN BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

  12. james jordan says:

    “Why Are Some Saved and Others Not?”

    Because some obey and some don’t.

    The thing is, faith alone only works in Calvinism. That’s their point in asking this question. If your answer is “because some believe and not others” you’ve admitted that faith is no different from works, something we do. As long as we have something to do with it, we can “boast” and boasting in good things is evil according to the Gnostic author of whatever book it is that says “lest any man should boast.” So not only must works be outlawed, but faith too. So Calvinism outlaws faith and makes salvation by predestination alone, taking the Gnostic author of the Satanic spew books R and G to their demonic conclusion. Its all bunk. The real reason some are saved and not others is that some obey and some don’t. Faith without works is dead, and everyone who believes in it or claims to is brain-dead.

  13. Waldensian says:

    Hi SBC,

    I think the fact to answer your question you start with man rather than God speaks volumes as to the pelagian roots that your premise is founded on. I think the biblical answer to your question begins with God and then man not the other way around. Salvation is first and foremost about the God glorifying himself and demonstrating the full range of his attributes. My question to you is, in what scenario is God able to freely demonstrate the full scope of all his attributes, Mercy, love, wrath, justice etc ?… If God chooses to save no-one what attributes would be shown, same question again if God chooses to save everyone, in both scenarios there is a limitation of God’s ability to demonstrate his attributes, his Glory. The only scenario that allows God to demonstrate the full range of his attributes is if God chooses to save someone. That’s the point that Paul for example hammers away on, especially in Romans 9 and a truth that I don’t think you have even begun to interact with from an exegetical basis, nor the numerous texts that very clearly state that man is unwilling and unable to make the right choice in his salvation unless the spirit of God gets involved.

    God bless

    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,
    12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
    (Ephesian 1:11-12 ESV)

    • sbcissues says:

      Waldensian,

      You wrote… I think the fact to answer your question you start with man rather than God speaks volumes as to the pelagian roots that your premise is founded on.

      I continue to be amazed at the effort (or lack thereof) in comprehension of folks who are so determined to defend their own theological positions to continually mischaracterize or just fail to comprehend anything that differs.

      One more time… my position does not begin with man any more than yours does; I believe God has chosen to reveal Himself to us and through the revelation provided in His Word, WE MUST RESPOND. If that is your definition of man beginning ANYTHING then I guess we have a problem. Not only that, God has also chosen to reconcile the world unto Himself… I believe that is accomplished through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit which also requires a response on man’s part; once again man has not begun anything and is ONLY responding to God’s initiative which is by the way the same in your system.

      The only difference in our two positions is you believe God has to save someone so that they can or will repent and I believe they have to repent and believe to be saved. Both are responses however to God’s initiative; we just define initiative differently.

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