The Big Debate: Free Will or No Will – Calvinism vs Arminianism

Here is the thread to continue to discuss issues pertaining to hard line Calvinism vs Arminianism.

I’m not going to summarise this debate – its too long already. I will however copy all the comments for reference. Please bear with me if I miss some, since this is from another thread and because its interwoven with other things, I might miss a comment or two. Comments will be moved by re-entering them as comments, so they will appear as if I wrote them, but I will note the true authors as I go.

If anyone wants to forward me an intro paragraph to replace or add to this one, or suggest a better title – feel free! My aim here is speed, rather than finesse.

So – enjoy!

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RavingPente


425 thoughts on “The Big Debate: Free Will or No Will – Calvinism vs Arminianism

  1. First relevant remark by Faithlift to Teddy:

    “Thirdly, your doctrine comes through of God’s sovereign will, whereby he basically has a list of those he’ll save and those he’ll heal, and those he’ll deliver, but others he won’t. Calvinist sovereign doctrine. You did not learn this at C3. It has become who you are and defines your position on all of these things. It stems from basic cessationist theology, even though you are not a cessationist.

    I look at God’s sovereign will in a different way; that he has revealed his will through his Word, and we are to act on it. He has delegated responsibility to believers. His Spirit is at work in us with us and upon us to lead us to do God’s will. It is still his sovereign will, but we are invited to engage in it under his Spirit.” – Faithlift

  2. wazza2 Says:
    May 3, 2010 at 9:17 pm edit
    On the whole Calvinism – Arminian thing, its another example of how we pick sides and try to define doctrine in an either-or manner. Or as the trendy emergents would say, it’s “Greek thinking”

    Predestination must have its place because the whole concept of free-will is troublesome philosophically. How can our will ever be truly free? There are biblical passages which support the idea of God choosing who he saves, there are also others which emphasise human choice. Arminianism has the idea of prevenient grace, the grace of God which allows us to choose.

    There must be elements of truth in both positions, but there’s no way to combine the two under our language and logic systems. So we pick one side or the other. But there are other ways of dealing with these kinds of problems.

  3. teddy Says:
    May 5, 2010 at 6:33 am edit
    FL, I know they have to hear the gospel and it’s all included in God’s sovereign election. The beauty of all this is overwhelming. But He’s still the one who elects.

    teddy Says:
    May 5, 2010 at 6:43 am edit
    “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, BECAUSE GOD HAS FROM THE BEGINNING CHOSEN YOU TO SALVATION THROUGH SANCTIFICATION OF THE SPIRIT AND BELIEF OF THE TRUTH: whereby he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)

  4. FaithLift Says:
    May 5, 2010 at 9:45 am

    […] Teddy, everyone’s chosen to salvation in Christ. All are predestined in Him. That’s the point. Everyone falls, and then is redeemed. That’s why he went to the cross, to redeem us. Purchase us back form the wages of sin. Or what was the point of the cross? But all have to hear the gospel preached and respond. All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Whosoever calls on the name. Whosoever!

    teddy Says:
    May 5, 2010 at 12:44 pm edit
    FL, we will never agree on election on the basis of Romans 9.

    As difficult as unconditional election is (even for me) we can’t ignore something simply because we don’t like it. If God didn’t elect anyone, then no one would come to Him.

    We can go through our bibles and cross the words out we don’t like – but at the end of the day as God had stated clearly “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”

  5. Bill Says: May 5, 2010 at 7:23 pm edit Ah yes the context argument FL. “For God so loved the world…” – but remember, God only loves the world in the context of John 3:16! Your quote – “Whosoever calls on the name. Whosoever!” Erm… didn’t I read somewhere “every tongue will confess and every knee shall bow”? My mistake, that only happens in the context of Romans 14:11 right? Gotta keep it all in context! Question – is it’s OK to have sex with an animal? The context of Leviticus 18:23 is Moses speaking to the ancient Jewish nation of Israel so obviously, that doesn’t apply to me right? Just trying to keep these things in context ***************** FaithLift Says: May 5, 2010 at 7:50 pm edit Well let’s get a fuller context: ‘Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ ‘Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.’ Oh, when they see him as the One with name that is above every name, they will bow their knee and confess that he is Lord. That is the recognition of his Lordship, which will be seen by sinner and saint alike, angels holy and fallen, principalities and powers, all will bow, or did you not see that he mentions those that are under the earth, as well as above. As a result of this powerful revelation of his greatness, he tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. The name above every name. ‘…far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.’ The Church, the Body of Christ, it is then that is above al power and might and dominion and authority; in Him, who places all else but His Body under his feet. You have to be in the Church to be in this place, seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, above all else. Who, then can be in the Church? Those who confess Jesus as Lord. How shall they confess if they have not heard? How shall they hear if there is no preacher? How shall they preach if they are not sent? Whosoever is anyone, but they still have to call on the name of the Lord to be saved. Every knee will bow, but not all will be saved. How do I know? “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Those who believe will be saved, those who do not believe will be condemned.’ John 3:16-21 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” “For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Now that is context! ******************** Bull Says: May 5, 2010 at 9:57 pm edit of course, you are all wrong as none of you think that it is possible to lose our salvation … Hebrews 6 asks the question, (paraphrased) “is it possible to regain your salvation once it is lost? No, because you have crucified Him afresh and there is no more forgiveness once you do that.” Yes, a terrible paraphrase but that is my understanding of that part of scripture. That alone tells me it is possible to backslide beyond the point of no return. He does keep you … but eventually, if you harden your heart towards him for too many times, His patience runs out, and He will harden your heart for you. Game over. Shalom ******************** FaithLift Says: May 5, 2010 at 10:22 pm edit In fact, I would agree from Hebrews 6:4-6 & 11:35-39 on this possibility, Bull. Clearly there is a way to lose salvation. And that’s a very good point you raise. How does anyone answer this who believes either in a Universalist view, or Calvinist. How does someone be elect and then deselect themselves by turning their back on Christ? ******************* Bull Says: May 5, 2010 at 10:23 pm edit John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Needs to be understood in the following paraphrase: In just the same way, God [once] Agape’d the human race by giving His only natural Son, that whoever [goes on] believing in Him will never perish but [go on] having everlasting and abundant life. It is not “for God soooooooooooooooo” as if to say that God, in a feeble hand-wringing kind of way loves the world so much. Agape is in the Aorist tense (a one off action). believes is in the present continuous tense, as is have which means this is something that continues to happen … continually. The first part, translated by me as “In just the same way” begs the question, “in just the same way as what?” Check out numbers and John 3:14 and 15. As the snake was lifted up in the desert so must the Son of Man be lifted up. In the context of the private conversation with Nicodemus, it is clear that John 3:16 and onwards to the end of the section is not spoken by Jesus. It is John’s comment on the private conversation Jesus was having with the recognised teacher of Israel. The context of the whole Gospel is John desperately trying to keep believers orthodox in the faith. It is a book that desperately needs to be read by the new “apostles” … because they are in real trouble with respect to their doctrine. Shalom ******************* Bull Says: May 5, 2010 at 10:30 pm edit I Agree with FL’s context there. Messages crossed. Interesting that we are both in John 3. It’s also interesting that the same John that told us “God is love” is the one who tells us that there are some “who are condemned already”. time for coffee methinks *************** teddy Says: May 5, 2010 at 10:43 pm edit About John 3:16 – with thanks to Jim McClarty Question – Whenever I’m discussing salvation and “free will” with someone, they always seem to retreat to John 3:16. They say, “Look right there! It says ‘whosoever’ believes will be saved! That means that anyone who wants to can accept Jesus and be saved!” How do you answer that? Jim – Good question! You’re right, John 3:16 has become the bedrock “proof text” of everyone who argues against the doctrine of election or divine predetermination. So, let’s see if that verse is actually saying what these folk are convinced it says. Because, if it does, we’re in hot water! But, if it doesn’t, we really ought to be able to offer a sound, indisputable response. First, let’s look at John 3:16 as it appears in the King James Version: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The first thing that should be obvious is that the English rendering of this verse begins with the word “for.” That means that it is the conclusion of an argument. It’s the summary statement. So, we need to look at this verse in its larger context. Here is the whole passage: “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:12-18) “Whosever believeth” Let’s start by addressing the heart of the argument and then we’ll get into the details. The word “whosever” appears twice in this passage. In both instances, it is used in regard to faith – “whosoever believes.” The implication of this English phrase is that anyone who wishes to may exert his will and freedom of choice in order to believe something about Christ. Anyone who would like to can exercise his or her right and faculty to have (or not have) faith. The consequences of their faith (or lack of it) are then the result of that person’s free and unencumbered choice. But, there’s a problem. And, it’s a big problem. The New Testament was not written in English, any less the King’s English. It was written in Greek. And, there is no Greek equivalent for the English word “whosoever.” That’s important. So much so that it bears repeating. There is no Greek equivalent for the English word “whosoever.” The Apostle John did not write, “Whosoever believeth.” That word construction was never part of his original letter. What he did write was, “pas ho pisteuoon.” The two little Greek words “pas ho” are literally translated “all the.” “Pisteuoon” is a form of the word “pisteuo,” the verb form of “pistis,” or “faith.” The King James translators’ choice of the single word “whosoever” to translate the two-word phrase “pas ho” was not an entirely errant decision. In the King’s English, “whosoever” did not have the connotation of randomness or free choice that it has come to represent in contemporary English. Originally, “whosoever” designated a particular group – as in “whosoever possesses these certain qualities.” In this case, the group included only those who believed, as opposed to those who did not. But, more to the point, “pas ho” simply does not mean “anyone at all who chooses to exercise their choice.” It specifically means “all the” and it serves to designate a particular group of people who share a defining characteristic -”faith” or “believing.” So, when we read, “whosoever believeth,” we must understand that what John literally wrote was “all the believing.” In other words, the benefits of God’s love are not indiscriminately available to anyone who chooses to possess them. Only the particular group – “all the believing” – are gifted with eternal life. Now, with that bit of exegesis in mind, let’s dig into John’s use of “pas ho pisteuo” in the larger context. “Even so must the son of man be lifted up.” This passage comes on the heels of Jesus’ instruction to Nicodemus concerning being “born again.” Nicodemus, struggling to grasp Jesus’ teaching, asked, “How can these things be?” In response, Jesus rebuked him for being a teacher in Israel while failing to understand the fundamentals of God’s relationship with His people. “Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:9-12) Overall, it’s a rather stinging indictment. Jesus insisted that He was speaking the things He knew for certain as a firsthand witness, yet Nicodemus refused to accept His testimony. Jesus concluded that if Nicodemus could not understand the movement and working of the Holy Spirit on Earth, he would never believe the things Jesus could tell him about Heavenly activity. So, Jesus began to explain His authority. No one has ever gone into Heaven to scope it out and bring back a report. But, the Son of God was intimately acquainted with details of the Heavenly realm. His is the only true account because He is the only true witness. Then, Jesus reached back into Israel’s history and reminded Nicodemus of a particular event. After their great victory at Hormah, the children of Israel journeyed by the Red Sea, circumventing the land of Edom, and they began to murmur and complain about the lack of water. They had grown to loathe the daily manna and complained about the lack of other food, even longing for their days in Egypt. So God sent poisonous serpents into the camp and many of the people died. So Israel recognized their sin and adjured Moses to intercede for them. Moses prayed for the people and God instructed him to create a brass replicate of the poisonous snake and raise it on a pole above the people. God promised that everyone who had been bitten and looked on the brass serpent would live. Jesus drew a parallel between Himself and that brass serpent. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, likewise Jesus would be lifted up. And, just as those who looked to the serpent – knowing the instruction and believing God’s promise – were healed of their deadly wound and lived, so everyone who had faith in the atoning work of Christ would receive the healing of their sinful wound and gain eternal life. The serpent on a pole typified Jesus on the cross. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15) Now, the words “should not perish, but …” were added by the translators and are not in the original text. Verse 15 literally reads, “That all the (pas ho) believing in Him have life eternal.” The phrase “should not perish” infers that the benefits of believing would be granted at some future date. But, Jesus stated that the present reality of faith was proof that “all the believing” had already inherited, and were in possession of, the promise of eternal life. The New American Standard Version more definitely reads: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15) In other words, Jesus was lifted up on the cross and everyone who has faith in His atoning work already possesses the promise of eternal life. That is a distinct group. Those who did not look at the serpent in the wilderness were not healed. Likewise, those who do not rest in Christ’s finished atonement for their salvation will not inherit eternal life. Now, that’s quite different from saying that Jesus was lifted up on the cross and anyone who chooses to believe in Him will (future tense) receive the gift of life. Rather, Jesus said that the very fact of faith or believing was the evidence that those people already possessed the gift of eternal life. Their faith was simply an outgrowth of the life (zoe) that indwelt them. Or, more plainly, Christians do not earn eternal life as the result of their decision to believe. They believe because they were ordained to eternal life. “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48) “For God so loved” Now, that’s all the build-up to the verse in question. (For the members of our congregation, that was all introduction and technically does not count against my time.) The next two words John wrote were “houtoos gar,” literally meaning “so for.” To make the words flow in English, the word “so” was pushed back into the sentence structure and “for” became the opening word. But, we need to understand each of these words. “Houto” (the root of “houtoos”) means “in this manner” or “after this fashion.” That’s the same way we use the word “so” when we instruct a child to do something “just so.” We mean, do it “like this,” or “after this manner.” In the modern readings of John 3:16, folk get the impression that John was exclaiming, “God loves the world ssssooooo much!” But, that was not John’s meaning. He said, “For in this manner (the aforementioned lifting up of Christ) God demonstrated His love.” “the world” The next question we must ask is: “Who are the recipients of this love?” The common reading of John 3:16 insists that God loved “the whole world” – meaning “everyone who has ever lived.” And, He loved them immensely. After all “God ssssoooo loved the world!” That’s emotionally appealing, but it’s not what John wrote. The word “world” is the Greek “kosmos.” While it is true that “kosmos” sometimes denotes “every part and parcel of the whole earth,” most often it means, “people of all kindred, tribes and nations, as opposed to Israelites exclusively.” This variation of meaning becomes obvious as we look at the Apostle John’s own use of this word. He employed the word “kosmos” 82 times in his gospel. Here’s just a sampling. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” (John 1:10) Jesus was in the world – a reference to both the planet and its inhabitants. And, he made the world – the physical structure was created and is sustained by Him. And, the world knew Him not – the people did not recognize Him. In that short verse we get three different nuances of the single word “kosmos.” “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) John was saying one of two things, here. Either he was saying: 1) Behold the sacrificial lamb (typified by Israel’s sin offerings) that will remove every sin of every person who ever lived. Or, 2) Behold the sacrificial lamb that will remove not only the sin of Israelites but of people from every kindred, tribe, tongue and nation. If statement number 1 is true, then every sin of every person who ever lived was paid for at Calvary and God cannot judge anyone on the basis of their actions, thoughts, deeds, rebellion or even unbelief, inasmuch as those sins are all paid for. If statement number 2 is true, then the word “kosmos” can be used in a more narrow sense that includes people of all nations, but not every single person of all nations. As we’ll see, number 2 is the more tenable and exegetically consistent reading of that verse. “For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.” (John 7:4) In this verse, Jesus’ brothers were encouraging Him to go up to the feast at Jerusalem, work some miracles and spread His fame. But obviously, the whole world was not at Jerusalem. They were simply saying, “Go make yourself public.” But again, this shows the narrow scope that is possible with the word “kosmos.” “The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? Behold, the world is gone after him.” (John 12:19) Likewise, the Pharisees did not mean to claim that people on distant continents were following Jesus at that moment. But, a large crowd in Jerusalem did. So again we see an example of the narrow scope of “kosmos.” “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” (John 7:7) Here, Jesus spoke of the “kosmos” hating Him. But, not everyone who ever lived hated Him. Rather, Jesus spoke of the majority of the populace who stood against Him. He may even have been referring to the religions and governmental systems that stood in opposition to His Lordship. But importantly, He did not mean that “everyone who ever lived” opposed Him. “Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1) In this verse, John drew a distinction between the “kosmos” and those that Jesus loved. In other words, those that belonged to Him were in the world and He loved them to the end. But, he contrasted them with “the world.” That’s a critical distinction. So critical, in fact, that Jesus went on to pray only for His own beloved people, but not for the world. “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:6-9) So, if “kosmos” means “everybody who ever lived,” and God “ssssoooo loved” them, why would Jesus draw this line of demarcation between the world and “the men which thou gavest me out of the world”? Jesus prayed specifically for those people God gave Him (“for they are thine”) and He specifically did not pray for “the world.” Again, “kosmos” does not always mean “everyone who ever lived.” It most often means “people of every nationality as opposed to Israelites exclusively.” The fact of the matter is: If God so loved everybody who ever lived that He gave His only begotten Son to die for everybody who ever lived, then Jesus was in direct opposition to His Father when – just prior to being lifted up on the cross – He failed to pray for everybody who ever lived. But, the reality is… Neither Jesus nor John ever taught that God loved and paid the sin penalty for everybody who ever lived. Allow me to offer two last verses that will prove that Jesus created a distinction between those that were His and the “kosmos.” “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:16-17) The Holy Ghost is the “proof positive” of salvation. He is the “token” of the New Covenant of salvation by grace through faith. Only those who receive the Holy Ghost (the very subject of Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3) will receive eternal life. Yet, Jesus said that the world “cannot receive” the Spirit of Truth. In fact, the world does not see him or know him. On the other hand, the apostles did know him because he would be with them and in them. So, if God loved everybody who ever lived so much that He gave His Son for their sins, why is it that those same people – the world – cannot receive the Holy Ghost that is essential for salvation? “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19) Now attempt to read that verse and substitute “everybody who ever lived” for the word “world.” Suddenly, the verse makes no sense at all. Here, I’ll do it for you – “If you were part of everybody who ever lived, then everybody who ever lived would love his own; but you are not part of everybody who ever lived, but I have chosen you out of everybody who ever lived, therefore everybody who ever lived hates you.” Quite a jumble, eh? There’s only one conclusion. “Kosmos” simply does not mean “everybody who ever lived.” A quick recap So, what have we got so far? We’ve got this: For (gar) God so (in this manner) loved (agapao) the world (people from every nationality) that… Or in context, Jesus said, “Remember how Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness and those who looked on it were healed? Likewise, the son of man will be lifted up and all those who believe in Him will have everlasting life. For, God will demonstrate His sacrificial love for people of all nations in this manner … And, here’s the manner. “his only begotten son” Once again, I prefer the Greek construction of this phrase. It literally reads, “that son, his only begotten, he gave.” This is the manner in which God demonstrated His gracious, sacrificial love for His people that were in the world. He gave. He gave His Son. He gave His only begotten Son. Just as God provided a solution to the rampant death caused by the fiery serpents in the camp, God also provided a solution for the rampant death that eats mercilessly and terrifyingly through humanity. As the serpent was raised up, Christ was raised up. Those who looked on the serpent were healed and those who believe on the Son are healed. Those who were healed by the serpent did not die physically. Those who are healed by the Son have eternal life. “that all the believing in him” As mentioned above, the proper rendering of the phrase “that whosoever believes” is “all the believing.” It is not an infinite group made up of all those who exercise themselves to believe. It is an exclusive group made up only of those who actually do believe in the finished atoning work that Christ fully accomplished on His cross. As we will see when we get to verse 18, this stands in stark contrast to “he that believeth not.” “should not perish” On this occasion, the phrase “should not perish” actually does appear in the original text. The good likelihood is that, due to familiarity, an early copyist inserted this phrase in verse 15. John’s point here is that “all the believing” in Christ will not suffer eternal separation from God. Those who failed to look on the brazen serpent died. Those who fail to trust Christ will perish eternally. Again, verse 18 will make this abundantly clear. “but have everlasting life” As opposed to perishing, “all the believing” as a distinct group “have” (the Greek “echo,” a present holding and possession) “zoe aioonion,” life everlasting. So, let’s put John 3:16 back together in light of this quick exegesis: “For in this manner God sacrificially loved people from every nationality, in that His son, His only begotten, he gave, so that all the believing in Him should not perish, but possess life everlasting.” What this is, then, is a promise from God of the eternal security of the believer, rather than an open invitation to “whosoever will.” And, the ultimate demonstration of God’s love for His own people was demonstrated in His willingness and decree to sacrifice His own Son on their behalf. Everyone who believes, trusts and rests on the final, sufficient atonement wrought in Christ has no fear of perishing, but already possess the life eternal. Jesus’ Summary Statement For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:17-18) The proper understanding of “kosmos” becomes plainer in verse 17. God did not send His Son into the world – among people of every kindred, tribe, tongue and nation – for the purpose of condemning them. The Old Testament is replete with promises that when the Messiah, David’s greater son, came into the world, He would reestablish the Kingdom of Israel and judge the nations. So, when Jesus began being recognized as the promised Deliverer, expectations of national prominence ran high. But, Jesus was clear that His mission was not one of judgment and condemnation. Rather, He came into the mix of peoples and races so that, through Him, people of all nationalities could be saved. But, then Jesus broke all of humanity down into two groups: those who believed and those who did not. Those who were in the state of “believing on Him” constitute the “all the believing” group of John 3:16 – they are one and the same people. Jesus knows those that are His. They are the recipients of the grace of God that leads to salvation. But, to the contrary, those people who are in the state of unbelief – “he that believes not” – are “condemned already.” The fact that they are living mortal lives is merely a temporary reprieve from the condemnation that awaits them. That’s utterly shocking to our sensibilities. It seems unfair. But, it’s not unfair. It’s sovereign. It’s the way the King rules His creation. Now, this contrast between the believing and the unbelieving begs the inevitable question, “How can Jesus state so categorically that people who failed to believe on Him were already in a state of condemnation? I mean, couldn’t they at some later point exercise their wills, choose to believe and transfer their eternal state to one of redemption and everlasting life?” The answer is implicit in John 3:16. “All the believing” have everlasting life. The inverse is axiomatically true. All the unbelieving do not. And, that’s why John 3:16 should not be removed from its larger context. John 3:18 spells out the whole paradigm in NO uncertain terms. So, In Conclusion Despite its popularity, John 3:16 actually proves the absolute inverse of what the “free will” crowd contend. While they insist that this verse throws open the door of salvation to anyone and everyone who will take advantage of it, John declared that those who believe on Christ are eternally secure while those who are in a state of unbelief are already condemned. Salvation, then, must be God’s enterprise, determining from the beginning the saved from the unsaved, the lost from the found, the elect from the world, and those with eternal life from those who are eternally condemned. And, John 3:16 proves it. ——————————————————————————————– Credit where credit is due: This article relied heavily on exegetical work done by Dr. James White, of Alpha and Omega ministries. You can visit them at: http://www.aomin.org ******************** teddy Says: May 5, 2010 at 10:44 pm edit An important topic, well worth the lengthy post. ******************* specksandplanks Says: May 6, 2010 at 1:00 am edit Bull: “Hebrews 6 asks the question, (paraphrased) “is it possible to regain your salvation once it is lost? No, because you have crucified Him afresh and there is no more forgiveness once you do that.”” Wow! I’ll have to study that! (Study meaning that I will have to interpret it in a way that fits into my theology! ) ************** FaithLift Says: May 6, 2010 at 1:31 am edit He had my attention and was going quite well for a while, then he tried to justify his doctrine by altering the context of scripture. I’m sorry, you can’t do that. For instance: ‘Neither Jesus nor John ever taught that God loved and paid the sin penalty for everybody who ever lived.’ Well that is plainly heresy, in the sense that it is a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox doctrine. I have to really look at this a few times over and rub my eyes to actually believe he wrote it. Jesus died once and for all! Greek word; ‘ephapax’, ‘all at once and once for all’. A wonderful word full of meaning for us all. Romans 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Hebrews 9:12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Jesus died once and for all. That is a central tenet of accepted orthodox faith. He can’t die for all and not for all at the same time. It is for all or a specific group. If he only died, as the writer would have us believe, for an elect group, then why didn’t the wrier of Hebrews say, ‘He died once for a few’, or ‘He died once for the elect’? Why did he stress that his death was a one time event for all people? ‘Whoever’ comes up in more than one place using more than one Greek word. I can agree with some of McClarty’s thinking, but his manoeuvring of scripture to prove his point in this regard isn’t a good look I’m afraid. ‘So, if God loved everybody who ever lived so much that He gave His Son for their sins, why is it that those same people – the world – cannot receive the Holy Ghost that is essential for salvation?’ That is simply answered, and scripturally. The world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because it won’t believe. Jesus is rather obviously talking about the unbelieving world, which denies Christ. He has already stated that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no one comes to the Father but by Him. As evidence that they are received by the Father, he will send the Spirit of Truth. ‘But you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you’. So this is not evidence of an elect for whom Christ died and shed his blood, but that there are those who will receive his free pardon, and those that will deny him. I think it more likely that the translators of the Bible we know and love got it right in the first place, and whoever, or even all that believe is the correct context here, and there is no case whatsoever for separating one type of person form another, and more than we separate groups where we are told that ‘all’ have sinned, and fallen short. Same word. Same meaning. There’s more, but it’s late. It troubles me that he has said that Jesus and John never said that Jesus died form the sins of the whole world. That is scary! **************** FaithLift Says: May 6, 2010 at 9:34 am […] Teddy, what I commented on was McClarty’s declaration that Jesus did not die once and for all people. That has nothing to do with the Greek. I am a Greek student rather than a scholar, but I can appeal to orthodoxy from those who are experts. I was actually very interested in McClarty’s take on the verse, and, as I said, going along quite nicely with him until he made that statement. It is absolutely not orthodox. He said: ‘But, the reality is… Neither Jesus nor John ever taught that God loved and paid the sin penalty for everybody who ever lived.’ Now what surprised me was the way in which this teaching has panned out. Is it a generally held view of Reformed Theologians? Or is it the view of McClarty and White, whom he credits with this doctrine? You see, I had this thought the other day, which I immediately dismissed, that the doctrine of the elect isn’t so far removed from JW’s doctrine of the 144,000, ot just gives salvation to far more people, but the essence and exegesis must be similar to work. As I said, I shook that off, but what McClarty says is exactly this. JW’s make it so that only the 144,000 can be born again, filled with the Spirit, sealed with the Spirit, the new creature, sanctified, justified, glorified, etc, etc, so everyone else is at God’s mercy. McClarty is practically saying that only certain people are set apart for salvation, and the rest are not. he is saying ‘theere is no whosoever’, there is only a select group, and tat is who Jesus addresses in John 3:16, not the whole world at all. Extraordinary doctrine, and a major shift from orthodoxy. The question is, God says that, since the cross, he does not impute anyone’s trespasses against them (2 Cor.5:17-21). Does this include those who are not in the elect, or are the elect the only ones to receive this work of the cross? And, if so, does this mean that God still imputes trespasses to those who are not the elect, making the work of the cross limited, and the atonement, limited to a certain group, but not all? These are important questions now that McClarty has shown his hand. •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Disclaimer: All comments and opinions are purely my own and do not officially represent the views of any organisation I may be connected to. **************** teddy Says: May 6, 2010 at 9:58 am edit What do you do with Ehesians 1 and Romans 9, FL? This from a small piece of paper I keep in my Bible……If Christ died for every single person, but not every person gets saved, then the atonement is limited in power. It did not accomplish fully what Christ meant it to do. If Christ died only for the elect, then the atonement did exactly what Christ wanted it to do. It was full powerful but limited in scope. Does this mean Christ’s death is not completely successful if there are people in hell? A comment made by a former arminian ………”One night as I was reading John 17 it “hit me”. If Jesus was God ANYTHING He would ask for would be granted. His prayers were a sure thing…and He didn’t pray for the world to be saved. He prayed for those given to Him by the Father. Our High Priest with His elect on His breastplate” teddy Says: May 6, 2010 at 10:03 am edit @ FL – I’m attaching all of Jim McClarty’s Q&A segment – they’re a great read. Jim’s fantastic to chat with with via email or Facebook. Seriously, you would have a great time of dialogue and debate. http://salvationbygrace.org/default.aspx?ct=sub/qa ****************** specksandplanks Says: May 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm edit Isn’t it alright to think about this but remain ‘unsure’ about it? I see cases for both. On the polar side of our Gemstone’s facet, is the other side of God. I do see myself coming across more often on Teddy’s side for personal reasons. When it comes to teaching others about God, I too swing to speak from Teddy’s point of view. I call this my anchor view. But when it comes to pray for myself and others, I see God moving freely through me and others. When on the blogs, it seems I see God leave some ministries and empower others that really desire Him to bring goodness to their meetings and communal relationships. I call this my freedom view. I believe in the sovereignty of God. I believe He chooses who He saves. (I have personally witnessed this for myself and others.) BUT I believe He can withdraw His Spirit from someone who openly does not want Him. (But I am afraid to see God do this to anyone.) I believe He can come into someone’s life if they’ve invited Him in. When it comes to healing, I’ve declared His healing over someone and stepped out in faith, and He has healed. But I’ve also been ‘Lord if You are willing’, and sometimes He has and sometimes He hasn’t to heal someone. I found that when I am confident in Him, in that instant, my view of Him changes. If I am unsure where He is in a situation, in that situation I am more careful, considerate and humble in my prayer towards someone to get healing. Maybe I’m confused. *************** specksandplanks Says: May 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm edit Our prayer to God: Person: “God. Are the Arminian’s right or are the Calvanist’s right?” God: “You’ll find out.” **************** ravingpente Says: May 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm edit “Isn’t it alright to think about this but remain ‘unsure’ about it? I see cases for both.” – S&P Well, nowhere are we told that having these doctrines completely correct is essential for our salvation, so I think we can remain unsure. Or even sure but wrong. I only read part of Teddy’s post before I had to rush off, despite finding it interesting, and will try to go back and read it and the responses if I get the chance. However I did read wazza’s shorter comment re the money at the Bishop’s feet! Incredible! ************** Bull Says: May 6, 2010 at 8:07 pm edit I was with him almost all the way along, actually, until he comes to a completely different conclusion to the one I came to! He also ignores the present continuous tense with respect to believing continuously and having abundant life continuously. Most of the understanding of John 3:16 presented is the same as the one I presented but with a lot more writing! there are clearly two sides of the same coin of understanding here. Too much emphasis one way and it’s all free will, too much emphasis the other way and it’s only the elect that are saved. hmm. Shalom **************** wazza2 Says: May 6, 2010 at 9:31 pm edit That is exactly how I think about the issue Bull – two sides of the same coin, we cant really grasp the truth of it unless we see both sides (which seem on the surface to be opposites). Plus its not much of a concern to me because I cant see how it would affect my life or actions that much if I found out I really had no free will. The important thing is not to be an extremist on either side. Thats really the only guaranteed way to get it wrong. *********** teddy Says: May 6, 2010 at 10:14 pm edit @ wazza2 – Our free will is limited by our sin nature, would you agree? Here’s an interesting article on open theism and libertarian free will vs compatabilist free will, not too long an article http://www.carm.org/open-theism-and-libertarian-free-will ************** FaithLift Says: May 6, 2010 at 11:29 pm edit Briefly, the key to Ephesians 1 is twofold. Firstly we are all predestined in Christ for salvation. At the cross we were in him. We died in Him. We were raised in him. Everyone was predestined to be conformed to his image. The term ‘in Christ’, or ‘in Him’ is given several times to emphasise that God was in Christ reconciling the whole world to himself, and this was predetermined before the foundation of the world. But the way to receive salvation is through faith in Him. The way is made clear, and our trespasses not accredited to us any longer. We are all forgiven. We are all redeemed. Our part is to receive the free pardon. It is a free gift. It is not bought, earned or made available by works or human righteousness. Christ died once and for all, that is all people. There is no exception. God is not a preferrer of persons. His grace is to all for all. We receive his grace through faith in him. All who call on his name will be saved. Romans 3:21-24 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus… ‘To all and on all who believe’. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE! Just as all have sinned, so all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. The ‘elect’ were not sin free. Israel was not sin free. The Gentiles were not sin free. All sinned. All were guilty. All required salvation. All required grace. No difference for any human, Jew or Gentile, which links with the another key part of what Ephesians 1 and 2 are saying. Secondly, Ephesians 1 is about the reconciliation of all things in Christ, but talks about two peoples, the Jews and the Gentiles. Ephesians 2 goes on to say the middle wall of partition is broken down between the two in Christ. Ephesians 1 talks about inheritance. The Jewish inheritance, the Promised Land, and the inheritance of all in Christ, eternal life, having received ‘all spiritual blessings in heavenly places’. That the heavenly hope precedes Israel’s earthly inheritance, meaning the Gentiles are also given access through faith to the Spirit, and to Life in Christ Jesus. And this was preordained before the foundation of the world in Christ, in the Lamb who would be slain before the foundation of the world, to bring us all in to redemption in him, to make the way clear for us all to enter into him, neither Jew nor Greek, nor bond nor free, but all one in him. In God’s economy of the fulness of ages, as he gathers all into Christ, of things in heaven and things in the earth, in him. Ephesians is a continuous letter, not broken down into chapters and verses and should be understood as such. A good commentary on this passage is Adam Clarke’s, which gives the understanding of the bringing together of all things in Christ. ******************** wazza2 Says: May 7, 2010 at 3:11 am edit @teddy – yes I do agree that our free will is limited by sin nature (and a lot of other things). I respect the reformed position as being theologically and philisophically rigorous, and I’m in no position to argue with it. I think some sort of middle ground is possible but difficult to define. If we go to extremes with Arminianism we get a sort of personal God in a box that can be pulled out at will and made to do tricks (healings perhaps?) Extreme Calvinists only preach to people to tell them where they are going, because they know that nothing can be done about it. This is not to mock either position, but just to say that extremism is not the way to go. **************** teddy Says: May 7, 2010 at 6:30 am edit @ wazza2 Yes – the hyper calvinist thing. That’s a strange one. *************** FaithLift Says: May 7, 2010 at 9:45 am edit I would have agreed, just last week, in fact, with wazza2 on the extremism idea, and that there is not much between the positions, until I read McClarty above, who shocked me, and who clearly states that Jesus only died for a remnant, and not for the whole world, not for all, but for some. This is also teddy’s position, as she declared. Now, it occurs to me that if we are going to look at whether a position is extreme or not, we will be distracted, because there can only be one position, and that is God’s will, not ours. Clearly Peter tells us that is is not God’s will that any perish, but that all come to repentance. That is so clear no one could miss it. her is long-suffering towards us all, so that more will come into his grace. Five times the Bible tells us that God is no respecter of persons. This clarifies everything, because, then, there cannot be an elect few who are reserved before time to be saved, and another elect who are reserved before time for God’s wrath, all at his whim, pre-planned and pre-packaged, signed, sealed and delivered (or not!). And this all arranged before the foundation of the world! Does this make God just, gracious, merciful or even reasonable? It is God’s will which is the important factor here, and he has sent his sovereign word into the world, and the word is ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” ‘Repent, and be baptised for the remission of your sins!” That is the will and word of God. “All who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved”. That is the word of God, spoken, ratified and confirmed in scripture, and in deed. And this word is for all. Not a select few, we don’t know who. There cannot be two wills we can go by. There is truth. One truth. God is the Spirit of Truth. From a personal perspective, as a preacher of the gospel, what if teddy is right, and I am wrong? I am in serious error, because I tell people that Jesus died for the sin of the entire world, past, present and future. If McClarty is correct, I have been, unwittingly, perhaps, lying to people, misleading them. I have been saying that if any of them calls on the name of the Lord they will be saved. I have been saying that if they will repent of their sins, God will give them the free gift of eternal life. If I am wrong, then many people are deceived. Some, we don’t know who, will be saved, but others, we don’t know who, will merely have asked Jesus into their lives, but will, in fact be reserved for wrath, and be cast into the Lake of Fire with Satan and his fallen angels. This not something we can dismiss and say it doesn’t matter. If Christ’s sacrifice was a limited sacrifice, then we have a limited gospel, and a limited word of reconciliation. ***************** teddy Says: May 7, 2010 at 12:49 pm edit FL, many calvinist and arminian ministers are great friends, some even doing conferences together. If you want come down hard on JIm McClarty, John Macarthur etc, then you are going to have to come down hard on, let’s say, Rick Warren! (Not that I agree with his methodology but he had a solid theological foundation that he’s too pragmatic to use) Then we add Wayne Grudem, John Piper,Joshua Harris,Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spurgeon, Edwards,etc etc. Then we have the other side, R C Sproul, Wesley, John Goodwin Faithlift etc etc. Declare your side right and my side wrong, but God is still sovereign. ****************** teddy Says: May 7, 2010 at 12:54 pm edit Boy are we off topic, but here’s a little more of Jim McClarty on sovereignity and evangelism……. “I once heard a strict Calvinist say that in all of Paul’s epistles he never once gives any instruction on evangelizing the lost. And that’s true. But, it’s not the whole story. Paul wrote to churches, teaching and admonishing them with sound doctrine and instruction on Christian living. And while it is true that he never presented a formula for converting to the lost, it is unquestionable that he did preach to anyone and everyone. But, it is equally obvious that Paul trusted God to convert people. If they heard his gospel, they were obviously God’s elect. If they rejected it, Paul didn’t appear to spend time backtracking to try and convince or persuade them. The preaching of the gospel was the line of demarcation that made every man’s state obvious. We only know the gospel because someone preached it to us. Whether we learned it from a contemporary or from the pen of the Apostles, we still learned it because someone preached it. And the example we find in Scripture is a commitment to preaching the gospel of grace to everyone who will listen – to those who have “ears to hear.” I have often said that it would be much easier on us if God would have made His elect more obvious. Maybe He could have made their hair stand up on one side, or given them a neon “elect” sign or something. But, since we do not know who God has chosen from the formation of the world, we are told to preach “to every living creature.” Those who are chosen will respond. Those who are not will reject it. But, we are called to preach it. So, is it honest to preach to the unsaved? Yes, absolutely. It is the only hope they have. What if they will not hear it? That’s between them and God. But, the fact that some will not hear and believe the gospel does not excuse us from the responsibility to tell it. God has chosen to use “means” in the advancement of His kingdom. And the “means” He has chosen is the preached Word. That is method by which the elect are called out. So, we who know the gospel are assigned the task of promoting that gospel to everyone with the sure and certain knowledge that the elect of God will hear it and will respond.” ****************** teddy Says: May 7, 2010 at 12:57 pm edit And doesn’t that just make you want to throw your hands in the air in frustration! But I love a God like that, One who is in control (because I’m not!) ****************** FaithLift Says: May 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm edit I appreciate the fact that you’re hanging in there, teddy, and not being too aghast with my brand of tenacity. Bill asked earlier for a little more of the personal side of me, and some opening up. He called it being more honest. I don’t know how much more open and honest we could be. I am deadly earnest about this, as I know you are. I did not know that there was actually such a divide in the doctrines we are discussing. Someone has said there is not much in it, but, in fact, there is. Even your understanding of how people are saved is completely removed from mine. I’m not saying you are totally wrong, or that I am right, by the way. I have yet to see anything in Reformed Theology, however, which will change my mind on what I have been taught, and understand. I am identifying the difference, and it is far greater than I realised, not just from what you have presented personally, but more especially from the writing of those you have quoted. I am not attempting to run down McClarty or anyone. Just looking at the doctrine. I am amazed at the way he has made it clear to me what a huge gap there is in our understanding of the work of the cross, and God’s means of redemption. The statement McClarty made which clearly indicates a limited atonement shook me. I understand the logic, but I also see more to the logic of the cross being a work for all, mainly because we have to take all of scripture into account, and not isolated passages. I will continue to look into this now that I’ve started into it. Having begun expository teaching on Galatians, I am in Chapter 1:6-21, having already discussed some aspects of varying doctrines, some cultish, and some orthodox. This will be an interesting excursion and possible inclusion. ••••••••••••••••••• Here is a take on the other side of the argument from someone else for a change: The Danger of Teaching that Christ Died Only for the Elect The following is excerpted from “The Dangers of Reformed Theology,” George Zeller, Middletown Bible Church, 349 East St., Middletown, CT 06457. This study and a companion one entitled “For Whom Did Christ Die?” are available from Pastor Zeller for $2.75 each postpaid. ‘The teaching that Christ died only for the elect is commonly known as a belief in a “limited atonement” (some reformed men like to refer to it has “definite atonement”). It is the teaching that Christ died on the cross and paid the penalty only for the sins of the elect, i.e., the saved. Thus, they believe that Jesus did not die for those who eventually will be cast into the Lake of Fire. The doctrine is worded as follows: “Christ died for all men WITHOUT DISTINCTION but He did not die for all men WITHOUT EXCEPTION.” This is a subtle game of semantics which makes it possible for them to say that He died for all without really meaning that he died for all. What they really mean is that Christ died for all kinds of people and all classes of people, but He did not die for every single person. That is, He died for Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, slave and free, male and female, etc., but it is understood that He died for only elect Jews and Gentiles, only elect rich and poor, etc. Dr. Paul Reiter has clearly and simply summarized the Scriptural teaching on this issue. FOR WHOM DID CHRIST DIE? HE DIED… For all (1st Timothy 2:6; Isaiah 53:6). For every man (Heb. 2:9). For the world (John 3:16). For the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). For the ungodly (Rom. 5:6). For false teachers (2 Peter 2:1). For many (Matthew 20:28). For Israel (John 11:50-51). For the Church (Eph. 5:25). For “me” (Gal. 2:20). One believer who was not committed to the belief that Christ died for all men made this remarkable concession: “If Christ really did die for all men, then I don’t know how the Bible could say it any clearer than it does.” How true! It is evident that the extreme Calvinist must ignore the clear language and obvious sense of many passages, and he must force the Scriptures and make them fit into his own theological mold. Limited atonement may seem logical and reasonable, but the real test is this: IS IT BIBLICAL? … “What saith the Scriptures?” (Romans 4:3). In child-like faith we must simply allow the Bible to say what it says. Those who promote this erroneous doctrine try to tell us that “world” does not really mean “world”‘ and “all” does not really mean “all” and “every man” does not really mean “every man” and “the whole world” does not really mean “the whole world.” We are told that simple verses such as John 3:16 and Isaiah 53:6 must be understood, not as a child would understand them, but as a theologian would understand them. That is, we must re-interpret such verses in light of our system of theology. The true doctrine of the atonement could be stated as follows: The Scriptures teach that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God involved the sin of the world (John 1:29), and that the Saviour’s work of redemption (1st Timothy 2:6; 2nd Peter 2:1), and reconciliation (2nd Corinthians 5:19) and propitiation (1st John 2:2), that was for all men (1st Timothy 4:10); but the cross-work of Christ is efficient, effectual, and applicable only for those who believe (1st Timothy 4:10; John 3:16). We could even say it in a simpler way: “Christ’s death was SUFFICIENT FOR ALL, but EFFICIENT only for those who believe.” The cross-work of Christ is not limited, but the application of that cross-work through the work of the Holy Spirit is limited to believers only. The extreme Calvinist would say that the cross was designed only for the elect and had no purpose for the “non-elect” (persistent unbelievers). But the death of God’s Son had a divine purpose and design for both groups. For the elect, God’s design was salvation according to His purpose and grace in Christ Jesus before the world began (2nd Timothy 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). For unbelievers, God’s purpose and design is to render the unbeliever without excuse. Men are CONDEMNED because they have rejected the Person and WORK of Jesus Christ and refused God’s only remedy for sin (John 3:18; 5:40). Unbelievers can never say that a provision for their salvation was not made and not offered. They can never stand before God and say, “The reason I am not saved is because Christ did not die for me.” No, the reason they are not saved is because they rejected the One who died for them and who is the Saviour of all men (1st Timothy 4:10). They are without excuse. This issue is not merely academic. It is extremely practical. It affects the very heart of the gospel and its presentation. The gospel which Paul preached to the unsaved people of Corinth was this: “Christ died for our sins” (1st Corinthians 15:3). Do we really have a gospel of good news for all men (compare Luke 2:10-11)? In preaching the gospel, what can we say to an unsaved person? Can we say, “My friend, the Lord Jesus Christ died for you. He paid the penalty for your sins. He died as your Substitute”? One reformed writer said this: “But counselors, as Christians, are obligated to present the claims of Christ. They must present the good news that Christ Jesus died on the cross in the place of His own, that He bore the guilt and suffered the penalty for their sins. He died that all whom the Father had given to Him might come unto Him and have life everlasting. As a reformed Christian, the writer believes that counselors must not tell any unsaved counselee that Christ died for him, FOR THEY CANNOT SAY THAT. No man knows except Christ Himself who are His elect for whom He died” [emphasis mine] (Jay Adams, Competent to Counsel, p. 70). As C.H. Mackintosh has said, “A disciple of the high school of doctrine [extreme Calvinist] will not hear of a world-wide gospel–of God’s love to the world–of glad tidings to every creature under heaven. He has only gotten a gospel for the elect.” If the reformed preacher were really honest about it, he would need to preach his doctrine along these lines: “Christ may have died for your sins. If you are one of God’s elect, then He died for you, but if not, then you have no Saviour. I cannot tell you that Christ died on the cross for you because I don’t know this for sure. If you believe the gospel then this proves that you are one of God’s elect, and then it is proper to speak of Christ dying for you.” What an insult to the God “who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1st Timothy 2:4). The Apostle Paul was not so handicapped when he preached the gospel to the unsaved Corinthians. He clearly proclaimed that “Christ died for our sins [yours and mine!].” If Paul could preach that message, so should we and so must we! http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Doctrines/Calvinism/limited_atonement.htm ***************** teddy Says: May 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm edit FL, I would love to hear that you contacted Jim, if for now other reason than to enter into an interesting dialogue – jim@salvationbygrace.org. He, unlike larger ministries (because of their size?), is very approachable and loves to share his perspective and answer questions. I would also like hearing (from you, even privately) his take on your very important (to you and others) perspectives. Take his views on cessationism which he once held strongly – he’s more interested in being consistent with scripture than with Calvin. Another comment he makes….. “A couple of years ago, Jeff Young challenged me to re-think my view. He gave me a book by D. A. Carson — a Reformed guy who Jeff knew I respected — about his own investigation into the critical texts concerning the ceasing of spiritual gifts. To make a long story short, I came to realize that the Bible never actually says that the spiritual gifts would cease altogether within the church. Certainly, Paul had to deal with the abuse of those gifts and he argued for their eventual replacement. But, nothing in the text says that they will end while the Church is still present on Earth. So, I had to begin rearranging my thinking (“Always Reforming!”). By the way, I am not certain that Paul’s reference to “that which is perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 is a reference to Christ. After all, it was the coming of Christ — both bodily and then spiritually — that produced the gifts of the spirit. And Paul wrote after the resurrection, still speaking of the coming perfection as future – “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” (1 Cor. 13:9-10) I think, more than likely, Paul was saying that there would be an eschatological end to the gifts. In other words, when Christ returns and sets up His kingdom, wherein dwells righteousness and all the nations flow to Him, then there will be no further need for individual gifts of the Spirit. We will all be, finally and wholly, one in Christ. That’s the perfection toward which all of Christianity is heading. So, while I haven’t seen any evidence of really miraculous moves of the Spirit, I cannot discount the reality that God can indeed do whatever He wants whenever He wants to do it. I have never seen a church operate according to the rules that Paul lays out for proper use and orderly exercise of the gifts, but that does not mean that we need to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. I am open to whatever move of God He chooses to exercise. And, speaking quite personally and candidly, I am keenly aware of the spiritual element of preaching; especially the method of preaching to which I ascribe. If the Spirit of God is not present and active when I’m standing at the podium, all anybody comes away with is a big dose of Jim. And, that doesn’t do anybody any good. Only if the Holy Spirit, who inspired the words of Holy Writ, energizes those words when I speak them and opens the hearts of people to hear them can anything truly God-honoring be accomplished. So, while I have never raised the dead, spoken in an unknown tongue, or been witness to a miraculous healing, the Bible does declare that the Spirit has indeed done all of those things. And, who am I to tell Him that He can no longer do it? I just want to be sure that what is done is genuinely the Spirit moving and not merely another exercise in spiritual one-up-man-ship.” So it’s this honesty and openness that has made Ji
  6. I’ll re-post the comment I put on the previous thread.

    A small comment before that – re FL’s comment above – don’t confuse cessationist with reformed theology – not necessarily the same thing.

    I have actually fought my way through this thread in its entirety. What a marathon!!

    This won’t be any different unfortunately and may be should be on the thread to come, but anyway…

    First thing to reiterate somethings I have said before on here. I started off in an evangelical church for 10 years, thought through the reformed thing over last three years of that and then went to a reformed church for 17 years.

    I bailed because the weight of failed expectation on us (perceived only or otherwise), the form of legalism that often accompanies reformed churches (applies to other denominations with differing emphases) was crushing me and my family. They were also cessationist which I never ever bought.

    FL – you think you’ve been around, but you haven’t. The Arminian/Calvinist dichotomy has been one of the main games in Christian thought for the last 5 centuries. You pente’s are in effect johnny-come-latelies. Time to wake up because this is one of the (only one, and not the most) fundamental issues that Christians need to deal with.

    As a generalisation Pente’s tend to focus on experientialism – signs and gifts, while reformed guys hang onto the word for grim death. While not being a pente myself I find neither position hits the mark for me.

    I thought the last few posts on this thread actually indicated reaching a point where there was some serious openness on both sides to look at this issue.

    I will also say again that I have been in the middle of a church that split down the guts over this issue. Young reformed guys basically hitting people with the word, and the ‘elders’ not even bothering to look at the word because they couldn’t cope with it. It was very ugly – lots of pain and badly broken relationships. I have also been personally ‘bashed’ by pente’s who said because I don’t speak in tongues I haven’t really arrived. Anyone who holds that view can get knotted as far as I concerned – (politely of course!).

    And I have learnt to be wary of simply rebounding from one form of theological dysfunction to another form.

    In working my through these issues personally I have had these verses as my parameters and rule of thumb over the years (and for every other issue as well):

    Is 55: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

    and

    Heb 13:8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

    What do I take from these? First I will never fully get it (other than may be when I get to glory). I am being arrogant if I think otherwise. God is so much bigger than I can contemplate comprehending, and I can’t even begin to grasp how God works things out and pulls things together. This may seem like an obvious thing, but from Adam’s disobedience and decision not to trust God – not to have faith in that what God told him to do was for the best of all – humans have waged a war to diminish God in very way possible. Therefore to take God at his word on this is a critical lynchpin.

    Secondly, God (Jesus) has not changed throughout all this (we changed, not God), and He is acting/proceeding/working things as He has always done, and as He will always do. His character is totally reliable – unlike me.

    Broadly the position then that I came to and still hold is that the sovereignty of God is supreme in and through all things, but as man is in the image of God we have free will which I increasingly think has remained intact despite sin. What this means for me is that God is sovereign and will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and will harden whom He will harden, but for the most part our free will remains in that is a fundamental component of being made in the image of God, – despite the severe and distorting marring of sin we still are image bearers of God. To say that our free will is of no avail would mean that we are no longer in His image – which is a nonsense.

    Some things to think about as people chew through this which may take a lifetime and quite randomly:

    For me the key to this is looking at why God created us and what being an image bearer means. I think if we haven’t worked that through we won’t get it. This was touched on a bit in the thread, but didn’t really come to grips.

    Yes no-one is good, no not one (Ps 14 and Rom 3), but Christ did die for all (Rom 5:18, 6:10, 1 Cor 15:22, 2 Cor 5:14-15, 1 Pet 3:18, 2 Pet 3:9)

    Which one of us will tell God who He has reserved for Himself and which He can’t? – Parables of the prodigal son and the labourers in the vineyard.

    Miracles – particularly healings – seem to serve two purposes – mercy from God to individuals (why? – because He loves what or who??), and as signs to – as if there was any doubt anyway – render people without excuse – they are not there for show. But the real issue apart from God’s sovereign exercise of mercy is about how people respond to them. As some and scripture points out signs and wonders do not necessarily translate into people turning to God.

    Reference McClarty…I should state a couple of things before tackling him:

    I accept as true and trust the Lord in the following statements:

    Jn 6:44-45: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘and they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” (Interestingly this in response to being asked for a sign by the Pharisees)

    Lk 8:50 (see also Mk 5:36) But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe.”

    Eph 2:1-9: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    Jn 8:45-47 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

    Jn 9:36: “He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”

    Back to McClarty…these quotes I think get to the heart of his and generally the ‘reformed’ position:

    “But, then Jesus broke all of humanity down into two groups: those who believed and those who did not. Those who were in the state of “believing on Him” constitute the “all the believing” group of John 3:16 – they are one and the same people. Jesus knows those that are His. They are the recipients of the grace of God that leads to salvation….But, to the contrary, those people who are in the state of unbelief – “he that believes not” – are “condemned already.” The fact that they are living mortal lives is merely a temporary reprieve from the condemnation that awaits them…..Now, this contrast between the believing and the unbelieving begs the inevitable question, “How can Jesus state so categorically that people who failed to believe on Him were already in a state of condemnation? I mean, couldn’t they at some later point exercise their wills, choose to believe and transfer their eternal state to one of redemption and everlasting life?” The answer is implicit in John 3:16. “All the believing” have everlasting life. The inverse is axiomatically true. All the unbelieving do not. And, that’s why John 3:16 should not be removed from its larger context. John 3:18 spells out the whole paradigm in NO uncertain terms.

    Mostly agree with his break down of what the text says, but not key parts of his conclusions.

    Re the text….if you look through as many examples of the use of ‘all’ – his Greek rendering, and also other words translated as ‘all’ – it is clear they are not used the same way in ‘all’ instances. There might be an argument to support it, but he’s fallen a long way short. My brief look at would suggest in any case that ‘all’ is not in ‘all’ instances conditionally limited or mutually exclusive as he says it is, and the ‘inverse’ in fact sometimes refers to something without a pre-imposed limit or condition. The same word is also used for everyone – “everyone who calls on the Lord will be saved”. The same word for all is used throughout Rom 5 – death came to all men, because all men sinned….just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also…one of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men…through the obedience of one man the many will be made righteous (many meaning great in number or magnitude) – notice from “all” to the “many”. You work it out.

    In terms of the conclusion the statement that we have two mutually exclusive groups within our space/continuum I think is overly simplistic and ultimately unhelpful. As McClarty points out there are actually two contexts here – the temporal one, and the eternal one.

    As the Ephesians passage above and others indicates in the temporal continuum at one points every man woman and child starts out life “condemned”, and then at some point in time many “believe”. So in one sense McLarty’s explanation might be right.

    But in the other sense I think he has made an unsustainable leap in logic – his view is that because there is a group that believes, those that don’t believe can’t change there minds within the time allotted to them. My reading of scripture is you can make that case if you want to, but you have to ignore masses of stuff that say things to the contrary. We then immediately polarise and proceed to metaphorically beat the crap out of each other down the centuries.

    His whole argument hangs on the unstated assumption that humanity has no capacity to believe or to exercise there will to have faith. Anyone who says they have this sorted is simply kidding themselves, and have put themselves in a position where they think they can throw a net over God and how He does things, wrap it up in a nice neat tidy box and walk away. Bit of self delusion there.

    We have statements through the Bible as per Ephesians 1 that we were chosen by Him before the world etc. Alongside that we have the statement in Rev 22 that:
    “And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” So how can they be in the book of life from before creation yet still be taken out? (music to Bull’s ears).

    Elsewhere we are told to count the cost of being a disciple. If our will is of no account why ask this?

    Why does Jesus tell someone to believe if that is purely the Spirit’s job to sort out?

    Why the constant injunctions throughout the whole of Scripture to seek him if our wills are no account and everything has been sorted out before time?

    Deut 4:28-29 There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.

    What is the unforgivable sin? The view I have adopted which may be wrong is that it is basically ignoring the witness of the Holy Spirit to us as to who Christ is and how to respond to what He has done for us.

    And how can people grieve the Holy Spirit if our wills are of no account?

    Is 63: 8-10: He said, “Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me”;
    and so he became their Saviour. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.”

    What of the statement in Romans that whether we have heard the Gospel or not creation still testifies to us of God, and all humanity is accountable for that?
    There are a number of other things I could touch on, but this is already too long.

    I don’t think what I’ve said is particularly systematic or logical, raises more questions that answers, and is a bit higgledy piggledy – this may not make sense to anyone else at all. However I genuinely hope I have muddied the waters because it is better that way. When we become sure of how God is connecting the dots other than that He has got us covered, it is time to double check ourselves. Paul rightly said that salvation is a mystery and we should work out our own with fear and trembling.

    How can I believe that no-one comes to Jesus except the Father draws him, has mercy on whom he has mercy and hardens whom he hardens, and yet we all have free will? Because our Heavenly Father is just the type of guy that make those things hang together and perfectly execute a plan. Do I understand how? Absolutely not.

    This is my broad assumption: I am in no way a universalist – there will be an eternal judgement for many which will be very sad, but many will make that we would have thought not, and many not that we thought would have. For those who have not heard the gospel, died in the womb, not been born whole I gratefully concede this is God’s problem and not mine. Our God is good, loving and just and I think the net He casts is much broader we think.

    I come back to why and for what reason did God create us? What does it mean that even now we are image bearers of God? Here is a question: for God to accomplish His purpose in and through us how can we not have free will? (I think this would make an excellent subject for a separate thread). And yet this is the same God who pinned Job’s ears back with “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now gird up your loins like a man, and I will ask you, and you instruct Me!”

    In a way that’s my point. Honestly what is the basis for us understanding how God pulls everything together? We may know or have faith that He does, but the how??

    I am with Isaiah when he writes: Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips…

    Ecc 9 and 12: Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favours what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun…..Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

    To finish a couple quotes from Ezekiel 18 and Isaiah 55:

    “The person who sins will die The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live? But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not right ‘ Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right? When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and dies because of it, for his iniquity which he has committed he will die. Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life. “Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. “But the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.”

    “Come! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat ome, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. Incline your ear and come to Me, listen, that you may live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, According to the faithful mercies shown to David. Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, A leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, And a nation which knows you not will run to you, Because of the LORD your God, even the Holy One of Israel; For He has glorified you. Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire,
    And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

  7. Thanks Wazza.

    Re-reading my comments and in particular: ” Back to McClarty…these quotes I think get to the heart of his and generally the ‘reformed’ position…”

    I made an error when I said that. There is a lot more light and shade in reformed theology than McLarty’s position and it is unfair to characterise it in that way.

    The spectrum in reformed thinking as in other branches of theological thought is very broad and not monolithic.

    But McLarty is representative in my experience of one not uncommon type of thinking within reformed circles.

  8. I’m still curious if anyone will actually convert to the other side after this big debate ends. I’m outta this.

    I see both sides. I think I hold the Hebrew side to this. God is the answer, but God is called to be a mystery so we may discover Him for ourselves in the relationship we have with Him.

    Only a foolish God would say, ‘This is 100% me. Now that you know all about me, please be gentle – and don’t abuse these sides of me’. We know enough.

    I really do swing on this issue with the differnt relations I have with God.
    1. In my relationship to God I am – Calvinist.
    2. In my relationship with His church – Calvinist.
    3. In my relationship with those who preach false gospels and division – Arminianist.
    4. In my relationship with the community/world – Arminianist.

    5. In my engagement with spiritual activity – Calvinist.
    6. In preaching the good news – Calvinist.
    7. Being sensitive to peoples needs and vulnerabilities – Arminianist.

    Feel free to tear me apart on this. 😉
    I’d be interested to see how others class themselves using the method I did above.

  9. I think in all those things there are elements of both.

    The best reformed teacher I had the privilege of hearing said regularly that God gave us a brain and He expects us to use them.

  10. Interesting Specks! Sounds like you are trusting, and listening to, a sovereign God. And I love your enthusiasm – you are, to use the pente vernacular, a “mighty man of God”!

    To sum myself up, I like these few words……

    Gratitude and grace, grace, grace.

  11. Even Arminians will say that it is only God’s power and grace that can save anyone.

    My will cannot overcome Sin.

  12. ” The American evangelical movement committed itself to the power of the human will as early as the 19th century, when the teachings of Charles Finney turned the movement away from the doctrines of grace and toward the doctrine of human ability. Consider one of Finney’s most famous assertions:

    “A revival is not a miracle according to another definition of the term “miracle” — something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. When mankind become religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert powers which they had before, in a different way, and use them for the glory of God.”

  13. Thanks for transcribing that, RP. Much appreciated.

    One thing which occurs to me from the this discussion, and which I hadn’t really considered before, in context with God’s choice to either show mercy or compassion, or harden a heart, is the truth that, once a person has sinned, their life is already forfiet, according to God, whether Jew or Gentile. It is also written that all have sinned, and not one is innocent, therefore al are guilt, and all are subject to death.

    In light of this, God had only one choice, and that is to allow death to take sits course, meaning eternal separation for all sinners.

    In this light we are then dependent on his mercy and grace. had we not sinned we would neither need mercy or grace, because we would be right before him, and already in a state of grace.

    But, as sinners, the only way back is through mercy and grace. There is no obligation on God to receive us back to him. That was entirely his will. Our sin condemns us. Our rebellion renders our eternity with him forfeit. Our disobedience aligns us with the god of the world, and his judgement and punishment – to be cast into he Lake of Fire at the judgement.

    In this light, if God wants to show mercy he can. If he wants to show compassion he can. If he wants to harden a person’s heart to further his plans and make a way to redeem others, he can.

    It is our sin which places us in this position, not God’s will.

    He saw this ahead of time, and made provision for it in Christ. That is what we need to be thankful for. He is not a God who tempts us in any way. he did not purpose from the beginning of time that e would all sin. That was our decision, and our will, not his.
    •••••••••••••••••••••••

    What opened my eyes also in this discussion was the Reformed teaching that the work of the cross was limited. This is something I had never considered a possibility. It is a very difficult position to support, and I think the theology offered struggles. However, everything in Reformed theology hinges on this and one other claim, that when Jesus or paul speak of ‘whosoever’ they do not actually mean ‘whosoever’, or ‘all’, but a select group, whom we cannot identify, and who God has already set apart for salvation and eternity. McClarty says that if it can be shown that ‘whosoever’ indeed means anyone, then their whole edifice falls down.

    Why would God have to bother with a limited atonement? Is his grace not great enough for all? I the work of the cross is complete, and finished, why would God now have to harden hearts?

  14. What you’ve described in the first part of your response above FL is why reformed people put such a high stock on God’s grace.

    With limited atonement is it limited because not all will make it, or because God has chosen only a portion of humanity?

    I take the view the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and His resurrection is for ALL, but not all will make it. I don’t see that all the other things in there about being chosen, whether one is of the elect, who God has mercy on or who He hardens changes that. The difference between what used to be called common grace and effective grace years ago.

    Not necessarily a biblical response (it may well be in fact) but one from the the heart – I am not sure why anyone would actually want to argue it anyway. What or who does it serve anyway? It actually breeds an arrogance and is co-opted and commandeered to justify all manner of things which would horrify a lot of ‘reformed’ Christians – apartheid for one – I suppose that could be said for every branch of Christianity.

    I do not see McLarty as representative of all reformed teachers so don’t get hung up on that although he does represent a big stream of reformed thought.

    There are two separate issues here:

    1. what is the biblical basis for limited atonement, and what does it really mean?

    2. the one that goes along with this relates to what capacity do people have to choose God – ie the status of ‘free will’

    Incidentally when I was going through my take on the previous thread and my response to McLarty I noticed two things:

    In my looking the word believe and particularly how Jesus used that word, I couldn’t find that He commanded anybody to believe. He gave strong advice to people, commanded the spirits and the elements, but never people to believe. Open to correction on that one, but it makes sense ’cause otherwise they would have – they would have had no choice. And the one thing take from that is that is totally consistent with how God has treated us from Creation.

    We were created for free and reciprocal relationship. To me this is where limited atonement breaks down. I can’t see anywhere in Scripture – even with Pharoah or Judas – where this breaks down. Some will say those are examples of that breaking down, but I don’t see that that is necessarily the case.

    The other thing is that nowhere does it talk about here what limitations God has placed on being in the elect or the chosen. Scripture clearly teaches the sovereignty of God and anything He decides and does will be right and we have no right to question it, but there is nothing dealing with the limits.

    We just know that all men sinned, and many will be rescued.

    I also draw attention to the parable of the wedding feast – those who didn’t make it were the ones that refused what was offered, or refused to dress appropriately for the party. And we are left with the parting comment – for many are called but few are chosen.

    For those of us who have been called and think we are chosen the thing to do make sure of our own salvation, revel in His grace and get on and do what He wants us to. If we do that then God will take care of the rest.

  15. OK I think we’re finding some grounds for agreement here, mn. You raised some excellent points. Especially on Jesus’ way of conveying the need for belief. He seemed to stress the necessity, as if we do have a choice in the matter, and it’s crucial that we make the right decision, hence the consequences of either the right or wrong choice.

    Thanks!
    ••••••••••••••••••••••

    This is a subject I really think I need to get, but I’m in a quandary, because I’ve clearly, and unintentionally, offended teddy, and said, on the other thread, which started this one, that I would go rather than upset her any further, so we will have to continue this conversation some other time.

    I’ll give myself some time to think about whether my presence here is useful or disruptive. I think it would be better for teddy to be able to air her grievances somewhere and not feel I might come up with another perspective.

  16. FL

    blessings on you to your response to Teddy. I have been very disturbed by the whole thing.

    Glad you like the points that I raised, but equally in terms of Jesus not commanding belief, hard core electionists (my term) would say Jesus wouldn’t do that otherwise He might mess with who the Father has given Him. Sorry but it can work both ways.

    I still don’t go with that though for the other reasons mentioned.

  17. And FL – good luck with your deliberations about this. May be we will get to talk about it in a few months time after things have settled a little bit.

    Can I encourage you to look at this on its merits and look for the things that don’t add up – on both sides.

    It is the things that don’t add up that lead you that which is closer to God’s truth than those that do – generally the latter only supports our current view.

    God’s blessings on you brother.

    I probably will only be a sporadic poster here from mid next week anyway. Time constraints!

    Cheers

  18. For the sake of clarity, FL has not offended me but has, more deeply, disturbed me. FL comes to this blog with a history, which apparently in the past, was excused by way of apology. However, even with apologies, words had been said and damage done. But that’s up to those directly involved.

    There was an implied threat behind your words towards Junker Jorge’s Rhema days, FL – and all I did was ask JJ simply to provide proof, no more no less, which he was quite happy to do. Does his history add to the dialogue here? Yes, such honesty is quite refreshing, he lays his heart bare and makes an appeal to all those bewildered and hurt by the WOF movement and their lack of “walking in divine health and wealth”. Has his faith diminished? No, like mine it goes from strength to strength.

    FL, in light of those words about JJ, I simply don’t trust you.

  19. Bless you, teddy! I’ve let go of Junker Jorge now. I owe him nothing but to love him. If he’s happy with Calvinism, then I’m OK with it!

  20. Well I have finally read MN’s big post, and it was very worthwhile. Thanks for taking the time to put together such a thorough picture, MN. Your thoughts match my own, in terms of the picture of God that you convey and our own finite ability to comprehend Him and what He does.

    Personally, I am utterly convinced we have complete free will, and I feel it this is illustrated in many places in scripture, starting with the fact that we are created in His image.

    I keep on referring to the parable of the prodigal son, which also to me illustrates the purpose for which God created us, and the necessity for us to have free will for this to happen. Without our free will, we cannot grow to understand God’s utter goodness and love, or have a real relationship with Him. I won’t go into that further now, but to me, that parable is an ongoing revelation in this respect.

    Also, to me, that parable describes the position of people who become very religious and pedantic about the word and us behaving in legally prescribed ways all the time, in order to have God’s approval. They are the elder son, and in the parable, the elder son still does not have a complete understanding of the relationship available to him with his father, though he does have a relationship. Sometimes the debates between proponents of particular stances on the word seem to think like the elder son, regardless of many good points made. Seeking to be right leads to death, or at least a diminished relationship. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone here by the way – just explaining how some speakers come across to me at times. It might not really reflect their true relationship.

    Anyway, for what its worth, I think we’ve made progress on this blog, though for many of us its been hard and painful at times. Where else though do we get to discuss our different points of view so clearly, or sit down with a variety of Christians and speak with respect of our different viewpoints, to expand our revelation of God and learn? It’s expanded my exposure to many points of view.

    Respect for one another is paramount, especially since God loves each of us here beyond anything we can understand, and we are all, very passionately, his children.

  21. @ RP – Respect is paramount, as you say. I think this blog has become quite insular in some respects. The freedom to express our views, hopefully all from a biblical point of view is one thing – the scope of this blog is becoming limited by “views” being picked apart by FL to the point where people stop blogging.

    He’s entitled to his point of view but looking back over the past few months, he has been chipping away at any “disagreement” basically with WOF, C3. Hillsong, NAR and has even defended Matt Ford.

    Is the banner for this blog no longer appropriate?

    Forgive me for being more than harsh, but I’m suddenly seeing FL as someone who has come on this blog to separate the “sheep” and nitpick them off one by one!

    Whether he would admit it or not, the goal ultimately is to shut us up because we are no longer loyal to the “vision”.

  22. If we are going to discuss FL, I will have to start another thread, as it will be a long discussion. I will email you privately Teddy, to avoid another one of those threads we’ve had in the past.

  23. Just some thoughts.
    1. I dont think the bible doesnt directly address this theology question.
    2. Another example of people trying to make their own theology watertight instead of trusting in God knowing that theology doesnt have all the answers.
    3. Their are texts that support both views.
    4. Both views can be used to separate saints and focus on this issue, instead of the unity we have in Christ.

    Now getting off the fence. I believe that God the Father wills all to be saved, all are saved in Christ and having faith you are saved.

    All people are saved, its just that people reject or accept salvation.

  24. I wonder how some of you “free-will” advocates explain the casting of lots in the Old testament and also the use of “urim and thummin” by the Levitical priesthood in order to discern the “will of God” concerning various matters?

    Both instances/examples show that God must work “all things after the counsel of his will”; even such trivialities as fate, chance and random decision making.

  25. Sorry, just for clarity’s sake MN, are you pro or anti free-will in your thinking?

    The “so?” remark has me thinking the latter. However, I’d like to hear your explanation of these instances (casting lots etc) if that is the case.

  26. And I ask that because I’ve yet to hear a logical explanation from anti-freewill thinkers about these examples in the Old Testament.

    Another one that is a “stumper” is Jeremiah 43:10 – “…Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, MY SERVANT, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid…”

    Here, God calls Neb, a heathen king his servant?
    Can the same be said for Kim Jong-il or perhaps Robert Mugabe?
    Just asking…

  27. You will have to explain why God creates Adam, then forms Eve, they, by God’s will, sin, their eldest son, by God’s will, murders their second son, and, by God’s will, sin rules men, right from the get-go, and nothing can be done about it right up until the coming of Jesus.

    If this was singularly God’s will, could it not be said to be a massive failure. If men had no part in this, what was God’s reasoning in setting up such a flawed system of human existence?

    If people had absolutely nothing to do with this tragic set of events, is God culpable for the sin nature, or is Adam to blame for his own disobedience?

    And what is Lucifer’s part in this? Was it God’s will all the time that pride be found in him so that he would seek to ascend above the throne of God, and rule the lives of men through temptation, rebellion and sin?

  28. Satan is God’s servant….his borders and boundaries are totaly limited by the Lord.

    Look at Job. Who took the the initiative? God, and He immediately establishes that He completely controls what Satan can do. God, the great “determinator”.

    Satan never steps one foot beyond God’s determined purpose.

    As long as you limit the idea of God’s total sovereignity, you will never understand His ways. None of us can.

  29. FL – it would be best if you did not super-impose the Latin word “Lucifer” in an effort to describe Satan, the adversary.

    I take it a missionary such as yourself is familiar with the actual meaning of the word Lucifer?

    It means “morning star” and in the original Latin Vulgate translation of the scriptures was also used in 2 Peter 1:19 (translated into English)

    “…Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star (Lucifer) rises in your hearts…”

  30. @ FL – “…If this was singularly God’s will, could it not be said to be a massive failure? If men had no part in this, what was God’s reasoning in setting up such a flawed system of human existence?…”

    God’s wisdom is foolishness to the carnal mind FL. I wouldn’t attempt to give you the all scriptures on this subject as I believe it would be tantamount to casting pearls before swine 🙂

    However, for your own consideration, what exactly does the scripture (Jeremiah 18:2) “the vessel of clay was marred in the hand of the potter” mean?

    What of this one? “…Why, O LORD, do You cause us to stray from Your ways And harden our heart from fearing You?…” Isaiah 63:17

  31. Am still interested in hearing pro-freewiller’s explain the casting of lots and Urim and Thummin etc

    Cheers

  32. Thanks for that, Bill. I was aware that Lucifer means ‘morning star’. Of course, I was referring to the being which entered the serpent who tempted Adam, also called the devil, or satan.

    How does Satan turn out to be God’s servant? Does that mean God planned, before the world began, to create a fallen angel to tempt mankind.

    If so, why is he called fallen. Why are his followers, a third of the angels of heaven, called fallen? Why are many of them locked up in Tartarus until the judgement?

    Surely, if Satan was appointed and is obeying God’s will to tempt us, he could not be called fallen, but a faithful servant. And why will he be punished by being cast into the Lake of Fire, if he is only doing God’s will as a God’s servant.

    Why is he called satan, ‘Opposer’, and the devil, ‘accuser’? Why is he called he Wicked One?

    Did God appoint him to tempt us, or did Satan rebel and tempt us?

  33. That’s a simple thing to answer FL but I suspect like all of your posts, that you are not actually seeking to know the truth or a come to a better understanding, only to purport your own established doctrines and cast aversion/ridicule on those who disagree.

    Teddy gave you the example of Job’s temptation and there are many such others in the scriptures but you have completely ignored them.

    I won’t be baited into dialoging with you, I’m sorry.

  34. If you sincerely want to hash this out FL, I would appreciate how you explain free-will in the light of Urim and Thummin and the casting of lots.

  35. Bill

    can’t be bothered honestly.

    What your argument comes down to is this.

    You view free will and predestination as being mutually exclusive forcing you to pick one or the other.

    I can trade verses with you til the cows come home.

    Totally not interested.

    And what you’ve done by the way is say that God can’t do both.

    You have fundamentally limited God and put Him in box.

    Good luck with that.

    Personally I think God is way bigger than that and can maintain both in tension as he chooses so that His sovereign purposes are worked as ordained before Creation, and yet allow us to exercise part of what is being an image bearer and have free will.

    Not a problem for a real bona fide all powerful, all knowing loving, just fierce, angry, merciful, wrathful, gracious God.

    So you can sit in the corner and contemplate the urim and the thummim, but honestly apart from personal meditation – there I used that forbidden word – on how does God do these things which are totally beyond our comprehension and ken – it is a waste of time when there are far better things to do.

  36. Sounds like a cop-out to me but fair enough, I would too if I were of a similar belief system.

    “I can trade verses with you til the cows come home”

    And yet, that’s what you do when it’s a subject you believe deserves merit.

    “You have fundamentally limited God and put Him in box”

    Which is what any commenter could say to you when you have presented a logical argument relative to a topic you believe deserves some dialogue.

    “Totally not interested”

    At least we can agree on that!

  37. Now be nice, Bill. I know the standards here, and I’m on my very best behaviour!

    If you will lay out your understanding on the urrim and thummim, I will have a look at it.

    God’s sovereignty isn’t being questioned here, but it is certainly his sovereign will to set up certain things in the earth by his Word and Spirit. It is also his sovereignty to intervene where he feels necessary.

    Being God, and eternal, he must have seen ahead and known the possibility of rebellion and disobedience and had a contingency plan to cover it, including judgment and justice, grace, mercy and vengeance.

    This doesn’t mena that he actually sovereignly purposed for there to be god and evil, salvation and damnation, heaven and hell, peace and eternal torment.

    The Job situation is clear. Satan was, a one time, allowed to be before the throne of God. He was already the Accuser. He, in effect, tested God with a jibe about Job’s attitude being good because God shielded him, so God allowed him to test Job, but ultimately came and rescued Job form the testing. Satan wasn’t serving Go at all. he was challenging him.

    According to Revelation, Satan, the Great Serpent, the Devil, etc, was cast out of heaven subsequently, and woe to the earth! Why woe to the earth, if he is God’s servant? And why cast out? Why not sent out?> Surely a servant is sent to an assignment, not cast out to one!

  38. “God must have seen ahead” – that’s a limited god that I don’t believe in.

    I do believe He sovereignly decreed everything. I do not believe the “synergistic” concept of man’s cooperation with God.

    I accept that all things were made by Him and for Him. I accept that it all “redounds to His glory”. I accept the salvation of His people tops that list.

    God is the instigator of grace and mercy, man is the recipient of that grace and mercy.

  39. Why does man need grace or mercy if he is acting on God’s preordained will, and has no will of his own?

    Why does God’s foresight make him limited? Surely it demonstrates his Omniscience.

    Why is Satan God’s servant in temptation ad rebellion, and not a challenger, or opposer of God’s will?

  40. Acts 17:26 ” And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth,HAVING DETERMINED their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”

    Here’s God telling us that He chose where you would be born, when, and to what family you would belong.

    I’ve been listening lately to some debate between James White (calvinist) and Chuck Smith (arminian), on this whole issue of God’s sovereignty.

    What I’ve found interesting (and confirmed by others Calvary Chapel pastors on Phoenix Preacher)- the very fact that Chuck Smith encouraged his congregants to carefully study the Word, has led them into reformed thinking.

    He’s not a happy chappy at the moment, because of this but he was faithful in his initial leading and teaching. Whole congregations are leaving arminianian thinking and taking on the 5 Solas “by Scripture alone by faith alone, by grace alone, through Christ alone, all glory to God alone”

    Interesting times ahead for the church.

  41. @ Facelift – I really understand where you’re coming from! I was not an unwilling arminian just an unknowing one back then.

    But when God flips it, as He did in my life, I just can’t see it any other way. And so many people say exactly that, it’s like those weird 3D pictures they used to put in the Sunday papers. Once you get it, you always see it that way.

  42. Acts 4:27-28 “Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”

    Acts says that evil men did exactly what their evil hearts and wicked desires determined to do. Yet, they ended up doing exactly what God foreordained to be done! I’m not seeing God looking ahead here.

    It’s saying He “had decided” NKJ says “determined” ASV “foreordained” Wycliffe says “deemed” ESV says “predestined”

  43. And if nothing else is achieved or agreed on here, at least we are studying our bibles. 🙂

  44. @ Bill

    Cotton Mather, American Puritan, said, quote: “Lots being mentioned in the sacred oracles of Scripture are used only in weighty cases and as an acknowledgement of God sitting in judgment and cannot be made the tools and parts of our common sports without at least such as appearance of evil as is forbidden in the Word of God,”.

    There is no fate, there’s no chance, there’s no luck in using biblical lots, it was simply a means that God used to reveal His will. And after Pentecost the casting of lots was never again used as a means of determining God’s will.

    There God had sent the Holy Spirit. He has given us His written Word as a source of His moral will. The practice of casting lots is no longer needed.”

  45. But then, I guess that’s about gambling generally too, a problem the Puritans came against.

    Oh dear…rambling about gambling.

  46. The analogy of God looking aheand is actually false as God exists both within AND outside the time/space continuum.

    Trying to understand the Creator from our limited creature mindset again.

    Bill: I’ll jump both sides of the fence depending on who is arguing what.

    I have seen both arguments effectively used to destroy and steam roll people’s faith, and I won’t have a bar of it.

    The simple fact is FL that for God to have the relationship that He envisaged and still desires to have with there always had to the potential for temptation, and the capacity for man to choose God…..or not.

    It was always gonna happen whether you are Arminian or Calvinist.

    Grasping this fundamental point is where most people break down – the nature of the relationship that Go desires with us and what that means in terms of how God had to build us.

    That and the other issue re polarisation where Arminians alike, but from opposing points of view say God can’t……

    I’m sorry but anyone who says God can’t, particularly where it is clear that God is not causing sin has automatically lost it….

  47. @ MN, would you agree that perhaps, let’s say using the Apostle Paul as an example, that Calvin was a Paulinist, rather than, as some would say, that Paul was a Calvinist? I like that way much better. I’m a Paulinist theologically. (I’m not being facetious).

  48. I can’t say.

    I know that Paul would have bought out of that argument any way – reference 1 Cor 1-3

  49. But I would agree with you simply on the basis that Paul is in the canon, and Calvin isn’t!!

  50. But the other issue I am interested is the totality of Scripture.

    I don’t have a NT focus for example.

  51. That’s right, but how we love our “heroes”! It’s the nature of the beast.

    But there’s also Romans 9. Wonder what sort of discussions Paul , John Calvin and Jacob Arminius have been having as they wait for us! 🙂

  52. Indeed, there doesn’t have to be a Calvinist view or an Arminian view. Neither is necessary as a basis for belief, or foundational to progress, nor is a Reformist view, or even a Traditional view. What is being reformed? The only view required is a scriptural view.

    For God to be God we will have many things which we do not understand, or which we cannot grasp. Saying one is right one s wrong is missing the point, in fact. Neither is absolutely right or wrong. Both can be partially wrong or right. Both have some relevance, but only God is True, and only His Word gives us an indication of what it is he wants for us and from us.

  53. In fact Romans 9 isn’t Romans 9 at all. It is part of the whole the letter to the Romans, and should be viewed in its context, not separated or isolated as proof of a doctrinal stance.

    What happened to Bill’s take on the urim and thummim? Did God set something up that we need to know about under the NT?

  54. Ok then, so let’s not just look at Romans out of the context of the 66 books of the bible – your turn. 🙂

  55. @ Teddy – you mentioned some character named Cotton Mather?
    “…And after Pentecost the casting of lots was never again used as a means of determining God’s will…”

    Well I disagree here…

    The last recorded case in Scripture is Acts 1:24-26, when the apostles asked God’ decision of a choice between two men to replace Judas, through the casting of lots.

    “…And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all [men], shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. ” (Acts 1:24-26)

    “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” ( Proverbs 16:33)

  56. Of course, God has the deity to overrule, and even subdue my will, or, anyone’s will. He has the sovereign power and authority to intervene and even interrupt the rules of nature at his own will.

    This in itself doesn’t confirm or deny the concept that God preplanned all that happens. That is similar thinking the Muslim belief in Allah’s will. If we live, it is his will. If we die it is his will. It is a doctrine which excuses evil amongst their ranks.

    Those people who suicide, it was God who made them suicide. They have no will against God’s will. They are powerless to resist their sin. Man has nothing to do with his destiny, good or evil, or the outcome of his life, or the evil he does. Pol Pot was God’s plan to eradicate objectors and dissidents to his regime. Bin Laden is God’s emissary of terror. pedophiles are God’s legacy to innocent children. The devil has nothing to do with this. When he possesses willing bodies he is serving God!

  57. I think what you are saying FL is that because you don’t see the purpose in evil, then there is obviously none at all.

    Again, carnal minded thinking because you cannot reason how any of it fits together which btw, I can very much appreciate.

    Instead of looking at biblical accounts as “one-off” recorded historical events that have no personal relevance to you, I would suggest you look at them as an insight into the workings of God with man.

    You dismissed the account of Job with this statement “Satan was, at one time, allowed to be before the throne of God”

    Really? Well if that’s how you see it, then that’s how you see it I guess.

    But the thing is, such accounts as Job’s are CONSISTENT with the rest of scripture:

    “…Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…”
    Luke 22:31

    Why would Satan want “permission” for such a thing? Surely as an independent free-will being he would need no such thing?

    But hey, this is just another isolated incident I suppose with no personal relevance to you or I?

  58. This is an interesting discussion, because I am finding out more about how Reformed and Calvinistic doctrine goes. I am surprised by some of the concepts outlined here. I knew there were differences, but I was unaware of the depth of controversy. Are your concepts here classic Calvinism?

    James 1
    12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
    13 ¶ Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
    14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.
    15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
    16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
    17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
    18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

    God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone, so we are warned not to say that God tempts anyone.

    So then who is the tempter?

    God has not used, say, Hitler to destroy 6 million Jews to test us. Was Hitler God’s servant? Or was the devil in him God’s servant?

    I understand that under the OT God used nations and kings for his devices, especially to correct Israel when they refused to obey him or walk according to his law, but we are not under that covenant.

    How does the idea of God being the promoter and instigator of evil stack up against the New Covenant?

  59. Teddy said: “And if nothing else is achieved or agreed on here, at least we are studying our bibles.”

    AMEN.

    on urim, thumin and the casting of lots (Jonah, the apostles replacing Judas Iscariot etc)

    Before Pentecost, this was the basic way of determining the will of God on a subject. Now, this has been superseded by the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

    On Satan being allowed by God to tempt us, it is quite clear to me that while Satan tempts us and wants us to fail, the flip-side is God is allowing us to be tested while wanting us to pass!

    What is the lesson of the potter and the clay? The potter wanted to make a lovely vase, but the clay wouldn’t run in his hands and so he made a crude pot.

    The clay is the people of God not willing to be made whole to be full of the grace and love of God. So God made them into a crude pot and filled it with His wrath instead.
    We have seen what has happened to God’s Chosen people in the last 20 centuries.

    If we think that we have replaced them, we need to think again. Romans teaches us very clearly that we have merely been grafted into them.
    “don’t be arrogant, but be afraid, for if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.”

    The only thing that prevents us from being cut off ourselves is belief. That’s why the enemy is out and about trying to make shipwreck of our faith. This is also the reason for all the warnings in scripture about losing our faith.

    Salvation is at stake.

    Shalom

  60. You are lost in your contextual hypothesis yet again FL and have discarded “the sum of thy word”

    You have ignored the fact that In Matthew 4, Christ is “led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).

    The Greek word used for “tempted” is peirazo (Strong’s #3985).

    The ‘peirazo’ or ‘tempting’ is done “by the Spirit, by the devil”, just as it was accomplished in Eden with Eve; as it was accomplished with Job (Job 8:1 and Job 42:11); with Saul (1 Samuel 16:14 and 18:10); as it was also accomplished with David (2 Samuel 24:1 and 1 Chron. 21:1); with Ahab (2 Chron. 18:21) and even Abraham himself in Gen 22:1.

    As James himself writes, It is never God himself, it is always “a spirit” (2 Chron. 18:20) and often, they are “evil” or “lying spirits” (2 Chron 18:21) whom God sends to accomplish these “tests”, “provings” or “temptings”.

    But, I guess none of these Old Testament writings or examples have any personal relevance to you because, as you surmise “…we are not under that covenant…”

  61. So the Prince of Persia, a fallen angel, resists Gabriel and Michael comes to assist, so he can get through to answer Daniel’s prayer. Beneath them, on earth the stirrings of new empires begin. God reveals them through prophesy. Satan orchestrates his rebellion, and there is war in the heavenlies, followed by war on the earth, but God is aware and already countering his rebellion with truth and power.

    “A kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation”, Jesus.

    If God is both orchestrating rebellion and a defence against it he is at odds with himself. How can his kingdom stand.

    As he ushers in the Kingdom of Heaven, are the kingdoms of this world run by the devil, as he claims, or to serve God, as you claim?
    •••••••••••••••

    Using lots, or votes, or even casting straws is not evidence of God’s plan to control everything, good or evil. It is an illustration of how he leads, instructs or guides his people, but not of predestined everything.

  62. Bill

    temptation is irrelevant if you don’t give in to it.

    I fully understand the Bible consistently shows God’s character and purposes from beginning to end – He is the same yesterday, today, forever.

    Bill: ““…Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat…”
    Luke 22:31

    Why would Satan want “permission” for such a thing? Surely as an independent free-will being he would need no such thing?”

    Because may be God has imposed limits on what Satan can and can’t do, and Satan has to exercise his free will like the rest of us and ask permission.

    Your understanding of free will is just straight out flawed.

    The assumption you have built in because it suits your argument is that to have free will implicitly means God has given us the capacity to actually do certain things which we may not have.

    For example, the reason why God removed the tree of life from the Garden – AFTER WE HAD FALLEN – was so we didn’t eat from the tree of life.

    God knew we would if we could and removed the risk – this we know – but there is a whole stack of things that we aren’t told that people of both theological persuasions load up with their own assumptions.

    Likewise it is God’s will that all will be saved but know that will not be the case.

    Also I may exercise my free will to time travel, but clearly don’t have the capacity.

    You’re confusing one thing with the other….

  63. It is an exercise in futility discussing these topics with you FL. I say that with all due respect to you.

    You seem to think 1 scripture cancels out another or “nulls and void” it. Not so… if there is what appears to be a contradiction, then your understanding is lacking, that is all.

    You said “Using lots, or votes, or even casting straws is not evidence of God’s plan to control everything, good or evil…”

    So is “all authority” ordained of God or not?

    Romans 13:1 “…Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For ALL authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God…”

    I won’t be dialoging here anymore guys. Will leave you to the logic of FL and others. Enjoy

  64. “…For example, the reason why God removed the tree of life from the Garden – AFTER WE HAD FALLEN – was so we didn’t eat from the tree of life…”

    What? Incorrect Specks. It was guarded by a flaming sword, not removed. Where do you guys cook this stuff up?

    That’s all from me. Over and out

  65. I’m sorry, Bill, but my questions are genuine, and not driven by any other motive but the quest for truth.

    It is not a satisfactory answer to say that what will be will be, and you just have to accept it, even if you can’t understand it, or scripture appears to contradict itself when you have that view.

    God is not the author if confusion. He gives us the answers, but I find that the notion of God’s appointing Satan as a servant quite challenging, and you have not given the answer to this dilemma. You put it down to a contextual hypothesis, but, in fact, I put it down to what I see in the Word.

    Is God working for or against himself? Or do we actually have an enemy, who is the enemy of Christ, the antichrist, and therefore the enemy of saints, who, at some juncture in the last days will prevail over the saints, or is satan the servant, and therefore the friend of God?

    Are you saying the antichrist was God’s original plan? To what end?

    These ideas are a quantum leap for me, I’m afraid. You’ll have to take me carefully through them, if you can.

    Treating a person with disdain because they can’t see you point of view isn’t helpful. Better to explain your position in simple to understand language, and hope we get it, surely.

    It’s not a matter of countering one scripture with another, either, otherwise you are guilty of the same. Rather, it is a matter of carefully explaining a concept which seems to me to be very unorthodox.

    I agree with mn that God is an Eternal being, and therefore able to see the end from the beginning, and call those things which be not as though they were, not just from the beginning of the creation, but also as and when necessary, depending on the turning of the will of man for or against his will.

    This doesn’t limit Gd at all, but demonstrates the depth of his power, wisdom and consistency to be able to guide us through to his ultimate will, which is a sin free New Creation, in a New Heaven and Earth, in the New Jerusalem.

  66. Bill: “What? Incorrect Specks. It was guarded by a flaming sword, not removed. Where do you guys cook this stuff up?”

    Firstly it wasn’t Specks it was me. And

    Secondly removed or guarded by a sword is so totally not the point.

  67. Well, we were removed from the Garden, in fact, not the Tree of Life, which would gave given immortality to fallen men. I’m sure that is mn’s meaning.

    The idea is that God must have changed his mind about something. Did he plan to change his mind before creation, or did Adam’s rebellion cause him to change his mind about giving men access to the Garden and the therefore the Tree of Life?

  68. Gen 3: After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

    And perhaps even more importantly:

    And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

    My point was that we could freely choose to chase down and partake of the Tree of Life, and that God’s response was no to stomp on our ability to make that choice, but remove or separate us from being able to act on our will.

    FL: that’s another one of those mysteries about which will not be resolved this side of eternity.

    I think it is an issue that can be worked through but there is a point beyond which all we are left with is sheer speculation.

    I go back to my original comments – this in many ways is just simply an unfruitful conversation.

    Both Calvinism and Arminianism have practical and logical conclusions that are a

    Nvertheless there is much to be learned from looking at things from a reformed point of view – there are some things that simply cannot be explained away because it suits us, or we don’t like what we think are the implications.

  69. Both Calvinism and Arminianism have practical and logical conclusions that are at odds with large chunks of Scripture.

    That doesn’t mean one has to be right or wrong, that God is a heartless bastard allowing so many people to exist simply for them to suffer eternal punishment, or that we can choose any time we like to follow God so let’s sin until we know we’re gonna die (cheap grace).

  70. I reckon free will’s a crock.

    We were once slave to sin now we are slave to Christ, when were we ever free?

    I suppose you could argue that we were free to choose which one – but were we? Being bound up in sin means being in illusion, if one could see the truth one would have no real choice. The choice is between an eternity spent with the Father or the other much less attractive alternative. What causes us to see the truth, is it a decision?

    And when are we truly exercising free-will, when we rebel or when we follow?

    Something is wrong with the concept.

  71. “To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the Paradise of God.”

    Moved to heaven?

  72. Bull: “On Satan being allowed by God to tempt us, it is quite clear to me that while Satan tempts us and wants us to fail, the flip-side is God is allowing us to be tested while wanting us to pass!”

    I think that is pretty close to it. Why put Jesus through what He went through otherwise?

  73. Moved to the Bosom of Abraham (‘today you will be with me in Paradise’), and then to Heaven at the resurrection of Christ (‘Led captivity captive’ & Rev.2:7, 22:2, 14).
    ••••••••••••••••

    I would concur with the idea that Jesus breathed on the disciples and they were regenerated, and subsequently filled, receiving the Promise of the Spirit at Pentecost.
    ••••••••••••••••

    I believe, although he sees all and knows all, God created a fluid environment for his highest creation, man, but one in which he has the final word and ultimate authority. He gave a free will, but our will could never be higher than his.

    He is called our Father. Parents allow a level of freedom, and expect children to develop, but have house rules, and the ability to intervene where necessary, to instruct, correct, guide and nurture until the child matures. Some never do mature satisfactorily, and require constant supervision, including incarceration. Others flow with the training given. Parents have aspirations and dreams for their children, even expectations, which are not always fulfilled, especially in those who choose to be rebellious.

    Clumsily put, I know, but has to be considered in the mix. I think God took an almighty risk with an amazing creation.

    Another factor, already mentioned, is the truth revealed that not one person was sin-free. In this environment, God has the ability to do what he wants with whosoever, since all are forfeit. He shows mercy where he wills, and hardens whom he wills, to bring about his revised purposes of redemption.

  74. Gosh I have a lot to catch up with in this thread. God, in his sovereign wisdom, must have thought it better to arrange my circumstances so that I have to stay out of it!

  75. Wazza:

    “I reckon free will’s a crock.

    We were once slave to sin now we are slave to Christ, when were we ever free?

    I suppose you could argue that we were free to choose which one – but were we? Being bound up in sin means being in illusion, if one could see the truth one would have no real choice. The choice is between an eternity spent with the Father or the other much less attractive alternative. What causes us to see the truth, is it a decision?

    And when are we truly exercising free-will, when we rebel or when we follow?

    Something is wrong with the concept.”

    Love the question, wazza. I would like to try answering it if I can find time!

  76. The Calvinist position on this is that we have been so corrupted by the Fall that we are unable to choose God – we never can or will – choosing God would also be a righteous act since we can’t since no one is good. As a consequence the only hope is in God choosing us and rescuing a number of us who H foreknew…see Rom 8:28ff

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

    Also Eph 2:1ff

    As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    Also Rom 9 ff etc.

    Look there is no getting away from this. My experience is that reformed teachers as a consequence then emphasise God’s grace…you know….”But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    Also the previuously quoted and other passages.

    In terms of the consequences of the logical extension of being unable to choose God, and He picks a few of us which is merciful anyway because we were all bound for destruction most reformers don’t like it, often stay away from it, but grit their teeth and go with what I think is all round at that point a very unpalatable position. And of course we have to like it because God is always right!

    Calvinists take the view that this highlights God’s grace – the positive – but the negative is that all the arguments that ensue about if you are Christian “Why me, but not my family” or if you are not a Christian “Why would I believe in such a mean God who is supposed to be loving? You can shove that…”

    These responses have things wrong on all sides – that they don’t have an understanding of how much God does love us and what that actually means (who really does anyway?), or in real terms acknowledge that there is a God who has any meaningful impact on our lives, far less “Him Creator, me creature”.

    These arguments have ripped people apart over the centuries, and will continue to do so.

    From a Calvinist point of view the range of activity that follows from this can be a hard hearted “why bother doing anything meaningful ‘cos it is all predestined anyway” to a “God said to preach the Gospel so we will do it because we don’t know who He foreknew.”

    The first position is straight out crap, and the second I think is demeaning to the image that God created us in, and also the job that He gave us in the first instance. He simply did not create us to be puppets to be manipulated by the puppet master.

  77. Re ““God said to preach the Gospel so we will do it because we don’t know who He foreknew.”

    It can also lead to a really legalistic, loveless approach ‘cos anyway you look at it God will achieve His purposes – a works based approach.

    But then Arminianism results in exactly the same thing.

  78. mn,
    ‘The Calvinist position on this is that we have been so corrupted by the Fall that we are unable to choose God – we never can or will – choosing God would also be a righteous act since we can’t since no one is good. As a consequence the only hope is in God choosing us and rescuing a number of us who H foreknew…see Rom 8:28ff’

    We’re not saved by our own righteousness, we never could be. We’re saved by grace through faith.

    Righteousness is accredited to us through faith. We are MADE the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, just has he was made to be sin for us, even though he was sinless. This was predestined.

    Faith comes to us by hearing. Hearing comes to us by the Word of Christ. “Who has believed our report?” Some believed. Some didn’t. It depended on what was received of the report. No one hears without a preacher, and no one preaches unless they are sent. The gospel is what we preach, and it is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe.

    The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith. The faith of the preacher bringing faith to the hearer by he power of the living Word, the Holy Spirit working with the preacher to convince the hearer of sin, righteousness and judgement.

    Faith is an impartation, from God through the preacher to the hearer who receives what is heard. Which is why it is called the Word of faith. It is on our lips and in our hearts. Yes, that is how close our faith is.

    Meanwhile, the discussion over the free gift continues, but the choice is between grace, faith and salvation. Surely salvation is meant. We know that eternal life is the gift of God. We know that faith comes by the Word of faith. Grace is free, and it is undeserved, and, being grace, it must be from the giver, so this is not intended. Only salvation can be meant here.

    Robinson:
    ‘For by grace (thi gar cariti). Explanatory reason. “By the
    grace” already mentioned in verse #5| and so with the article.
    Through faith (dia pistewv). This phrase he adds in
    repeating what he said in verse #5| to make it plainer. “Grace”
    is God’s part, “faith” ours. And that (kai touto). Neuter,
    not feminine tauth, and so refers not to pistiv (feminine)
    or to cariv (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by
    grace conditioned on faith on our part. Paul shows that
    salvation does not have its source (ex umwn, out of you) in
    men, but from God. Besides, it is God’s gift (dwron) and not
    the result of our work.’

    Clark,
    ‘But whether are we to understand, faith or salvation as being
    the gift of God? This question is answered by the Greek text: th
    gar cariti este seswsmenoi dia thv pistewv. kai touto ouk ex
    umwn. yeou to dwron, ouk ex ergwn. ina mh tiv kauchshtai. “By
    this grace ye are saved through faith; and THIS (touto, this
    salvation) not of you; it is the gift of God, not of works: so
    that no one can boast.” “The relative touto, this, which is in
    the neuter gender, cannot stand for pistiv, faith, which is the
    feminine; but it has the whole sentence that goes before for its
    antecedent.” But it may be asked: Is not faith the gift of God?
    Yes, as to the grace by which it is produced; but the grace or
    power to believe, and the act of believing, are two different
    things. Without the grace or power to believe no man ever did or
    can believe; but with that power the act of faith is a man’s own.
    God never believes for any man, no more than he repents for him:
    the penitent, through this grace enabling him, believes for
    himself: nor does he believe necessarily, or impulsively when he
    has that power; the power to believe may be present long before it
    is exercised, else, why the solemn warnings with which we meet
    every where in the word of God, and threatenings against those who
    do not believe? Is not this a proof that such persons have the
    power but do not use it? They believe not, and therefore are
    not established. This, therefore, is the true state of the case:
    God gives the power, man uses the power thus given, and brings
    glory to God: without the power no man can believe; with it, any
    man may.’

  79. Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

    “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

    Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

    Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

    On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

    Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”

    For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.”

    From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

    “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

    Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

    70Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” 71(He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)

  80. So he says, “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you”. To draw is to purpose to come close, to enter into a position. So God draws us to himself. Of course. This is how we are attracted to him.

    So Jesus reminds us of the serpent on the pole, how all who gazed upon who had been bitten by adders would be healed, and so, in the same way, all who gaze on his cross, the work of his cross and see their redemption will be saved.

    I fear it is too easy to have a point of view and attempt to prove it from scripture, rather than allow scripture to lead and correct us. It is difficult to resist once you feel you are unto something, but resist we must, or we fall into error. This is true from all sides of an argument.

  81. My point is FL that you are trying to resolve something that we are incapable of resolving.

    We’re just supposed to get on with it, and leave the details to God.

  82. To a degree I agree with you, mn, but this is rather too important a matter, from a leadership perspective, to dismiss as impossible to understand, especially when there are people who are saying that the gospel we preach is so flawed we’re cultish. If that is true, then we need sound evidence so we can make the necessary adjustments, or, if you are correct, then those who make such claims need to cut us some slack.

    On the other hand, is it good theology to say that God utterly controls our will? Can I teach this to new converts, or even prospective candidates for salvation as a viable option in their lives?

    I find that some of our Reformed brothers and sisters are attempting to steamroll us with their perspective of scripture, which, I have to say, I find difficult to reconcile with the Word.

  83. Wow. I died last year. It’s been 11,204 years since eternity and this debate is still going. What an entertaining way to stay focused on God in heaven. Can this be settled by saying one can be both?

  84. This makes me wonder if Paul or the other disciples/prophets/teachers leaders… whatever… did they actually know what they were talking about when they juggled between the two?

    Surely if you are a writer of the New Testament; surely if Jesus spoke – ONE of these people in their writings or teachings can be clarified if they are Armenian or Calvinistic surely.

    In Jesus’ teachings and lifestyle, did he demonstrate that He was Calvinistic or Armenian?

  85. Sovereignity, election – just a few words worth meditating on. Can’t take them out of your bible, so we just have to deal with it.

  86. FL: “To a degree I agree with you, mn, but this is rather too important a matter, from a leadership perspective, to dismiss as impossible to understand…”

    Don’t take offence at this FL but that sounds very suspiciously like move over God you are doing a good enough job explaining yourself.

    This is not uncommon response to many things dealing with God.

    FL: “On the other hand, is it good theology to say that God utterly controls our will? Can I teach this to new converts, or even prospective candidates for salvation as a viable option in their lives?

    I find that some of our Reformed brothers and sisters are attempting to steamroll us with their perspective of scripture, which, I have to say, I find difficult to reconcile with the Word.”

    Well the simple question is what is good theology?

    But the more important question is the second one and the helplessness it reflects.

    Reformed theology does come from the Word, so unless one is totally committed to performing all sorts of doubtful somersaults to ignore it or pretend it is not there I don’t know what else to suggest.

    But so for the most part is what God wants our response to be – that’s why I argue both sides of the fence.

    I mean think of it – what this argument is about is how God works things out which simply we cannot do. Again God’s response to Job was:

    Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.”

    Nothing has changed.

    Our response should be that of the centurion who just got on with it, and who Jesus marvelled at because He had not found any faith like it in Israel.

    The proper response is to marvel at God and How he works things together and out – take into account freewill, sovereignty, election yes – but also His unfailing love, that He wishes none to perih, and He has reasonably told us how we should live our lives.

    To me I think it more profitable to think about the latter, and argue about something that never was and never will be our decision.

  87. mn,
    ‘that sounds very suspiciously like move over God you are doing a good enough job explaining yourself.’

    Well, no offence taken, but I do not agree at all. God is fine with curiosity, and would not have us ignorant considering spiritual matters.

    I rather suspect that God gives us all the information we need to have, and what he doesn’t tell us we don’t need to know. Reference Daniel for this, who sought more knowledge of the future, but was told to seal the book for another age.

    1 Corinthians 2 tells us that we have receive the Spirit who knows the things of God, and we can freely know what things he wants us to know. That would have to include any practical understanding we need to have, of how and why people are saved.

    The secret things belong to God, but what he reveals is for us and succeeding generations.

    Therefore, what he doesn’t reveal we do not need to know at this time. Speculation, then, becomes futile.

  88. “Therefore, what he doesn’t reveal we do not need to know at this time. Speculation, then, becomes futile.”

    Agreed, but this very often steps over the line on this issue from being told certain things about how God works things into trying to explain that thing which clearly don’t understand and as you have ready stated we don’t actually need to.

    Last time I looked no human being I have known or heard about apart from Jesus has gone outside the space/time continuum, come back and told how God worked it.

    I accept that God gives some people a specific window into particular things (prophets)but no bible prophet has majored on these things – the how – not the what.

    Other than that we accept on faith that He has done these things from the things that we observe and experience; but you do not have any direct experience of how God has done this and neither do I.

    If you say you have FL I will call that for what it is.

  89. I claim no special understanding, experience, or knowledge outside of scripture, mn.

    So, it comes back to our mandate, as directed by Christ Jesus before he ascended. To preach the gospel to all creatures, and to make disciples of all nations. The gospel is the good news that Jesus has paid the price of our sin at the cross, and given us access to the free gift of eternal life through faith in him.

    Outside of this, knowing whether it is an elect elect, a select elect or collect elect is mere speculation. We just preach the gospel whenever and wherever we can, and let God get on with the selection process!

  90. I like that FL! An elect elect, a select elect or collect elect. It’s like “fun with words and collective nouns”! No wonder foreigners have trouble learning English.

  91. FL: “Outside of this, knowing whether it is an elect elect, a select elect or collect elect is mere speculation. We just preach the gospel whenever and wherever we can, and let God get on with the selection process!”

    Yes!!!

  92. i went out. I danced, loved and got merry with red wine. Ahhh! Love the weekends!

  93. Interesting article –

    “Arminius notes that the will is not free to choose Christ, but must be freed from its bondage to sin by God’s power and grace in order for one to trust in Him for salvation.” However, according to Arminian theology, the the final decision whether to follow Christ or not is up to the individual. So are all men free to make that decision? If so, when exactly is the will freed to make it? If, on the other hand, all men aren’t free to make that decision, then how is that any different from Calvinism?”

    http://classicalarminianism.blogspot.com/2010/06/mark-driscolls-doctrine-still.html

  94. I read the article. My head is spinning with all the ‘ism’s.

    I thought FL’s last post on this was the most sensible to go with in a practical sense.

    I can just see it now…

    on the advent of someone deciding to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, someone having the intellectual honesty to say:

    “Wait a minute, has the Spirit drawn you to this, or are you making this decision of your own free will?”

    Clunk!!

    I mean what are we really concerned about here?

  95. I think as soon as we get a black and white answer on this, God will fit our manmade formula for evangelism, kingdom growth, power harnessing and spiritual authority over all things.

    I enjoy this mystery in God. For questions like this, they’re fun to explore and makes me appreciate Him all the more. But there comes a point when that specialness rubs off when we start demanding what God is and isn’t on these doctrines. I like this part of God remaining a mystery. To me, God as Love is sovereign and as Love, engaged with his creation.

    He is my mystery in which I enjoy exploring and venturing into.

  96. Whatever way we look at it, whether by direct intervention, by predetermination, or by enticement through the preaching of the gospel, God is involved in our salvation, and it is his will that all men, by which the scripture means all people, be saved, and none perish. That is incontrovertible.

    We can only get on with the command to preach to all creation. How it takes place is God’s business. Being in the right place is ours.
    •••••••••••••••••••

    I’m still interested in the theology of satan being God’s servant. These seems to be anathema to me.

  97. Satan is only allowed to do that which God permits, with his borders and boundaries limited by God.

    Sermon on Satan, God’s servant.
    By Max Lucado

    “According to Ezekiel both Satan’s beauty and evil were unequaled among the angels: “You were an example of what was perfect, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You had a wonderful life, as if you were in Eden, the Garden of God. Every valuable gem was upon you … You walked among the gems that shined like fire. Your life was right and good from the day you were created, until evil was found in you.” (Ezekiel 28:12-15)

    The angels, like humans, were made to serve and worship God. The angels, like humans, were given free will. Otherwise how could they worship? Both Isaiah and Ezekiel describe an angel more powerful than any human, more beautiful than any creature, yet more foolish than any being who has ever lived. His pride was his downfall.

    Most scholars point to Isaiah 14:13-15 as the description of Lucifer’s tumble: “I will go up to heaven. I will put my throne above God’s stars. I will sit on the mountains of the gods, on the slopes of the sacred mountain. I will go up above the tops of the clouds. I will be like God Most High.”

    You can’t miss the cadence of arrogance in the words “I will … I will … I will … I will … I will.” Because he sought to be like God, he fell away from God and has spent history trying to convince us to do the same. Isn’t that the strategy he used with Eve? “You will be like God,” he promised (Gen. 3:5).

    He has not changed. He is as self-centered now as he was then. He is as foolish now as he was then. And he is just as limited now as he was then. Even when Lucifer’s heart was good, he was inferior to God. All angels are inferior to God. God knows everything, they only know what He reveals. God is everywhere, they can only be in one place. God is all-powerful, angels are only as powerful as God allows them to be. All angels, including Satan, are inferior to God. And, this may surprise you, Satan is still a servant to God.

    The Devil Is God’s Devil

    He doesn’t want be. He doesn’t intend to be. He would like nothing more than to build his own kingdom, but he can’t. Every time he tries to advance his cause, he ends up advancing God’s.

    Erwin Lutzer articulates this thought in his book, The Serpent of Paradise:

    The devil is just as much God’s servant in his rebellion as he was in the days of his sweet obedience…. We can’t quote Luther too often: The devil is God’s devil.

    Satan has different roles to play, depending on God’s counsel and purposes. He is pressed into service to do God’s will in the world; he must do the bidding of the Almighty. We must bear in mind that he does have frightful powers, but knowing that those can only be exercised under God’s direction and pleasure gives us hope. Satan is simply not free to wreak havoc on people at will.”

  98. And this is not a free-will, arminian, calvin, or reformed issue – the scriptures themselves speak plainly.

  99. I would concur with everything of Max Lucardo, and teach the same, right up to the point of the devil being God’s devil.

    It’s a compelling argument, and very believable, but not workable in the end.

    I’ll give some thought to a response.

    The thing is, if it is right, then we have to change some of our response to satan, if it is wrong, and I believe it is, it is very wrong, and very dangerous theology.

  100. What’s dangerous about God being totally in control of ALL His creation? Because if you come to any other conclusion then God is not in control and THAT’S a dangerous “theology”.

    I can see God trembling on His throne waiting for your decision about His job description.

  101. I was in church this evening, wazza2!

    teddy,
    ‘What’s dangerous about God being totally in control of ALL His creation? Because if you come to any other conclusion then God is not in control and THAT’S a dangerous “theology”.’

    It’s not a matter of being ‘in control’. We know God is in control. But he isn’t orchestrating wickedness, evil or sin.

    I’m in control of my car when I drive along the street, but what if a passenger decides to grab the steering wheel and recklessly and dangerously steer us off course? I have to intervene, or something will go wrong. They violate my trust and my will to drive safely. They are no longer with me. They have a mind of their own which counters my will. If I am stronger, as God is than stan, I show it by pushing them off the steering wheel and regaining control. So, I am in control, but they now have to be subdued so they do not do it again. I can do a number of things, but I will have to take authority and overrule their will. But I can’t say they were my servant to go against my plans, my will and my covenant.

    You’re claiming that it’s a matter of God actually setting satan up to serve in wickedness. Jams tells us clearly that God cannot be tempted with evil, so how could he control, or orchestrate, satan’s evil. That’s a preposterous claim, and unworkable as an argument.

    But I can see, from this illustration, that the idea that only God has a free will demands that it is his will that the devil is wicked, his will that Adam sinned, his will that we all individually sin, his will that some people will never receive salvation and die in their sin, his will that there will be everything else wicked and evil.

    Now you’re going to say that these things are a mystery, and that it’s only God who can understand them, especially how he can be wicked and evil at the same time he is holy and righteous.

    Which tells me that you cannot explain it from scripture.

    We understand perfectly that Go is in control, but how? He has set up the end game for satan and his minions in the Lake of Fire. This the punishment and exclusion form his kingdom for his rebellion. It is God’s judgement.

    If the devil is God’s servant, doing his bidding, and obeying God as he goes about being the adversary, and the opposer, and the tempter, and instigator of murder, hatred, theft and their tributaries, how can God possibly judge him and punish him with eternal torment in the Lake of Fire, especially if he is only acting according to God’s predestinated and purposed bidding?

    I can understand that the devil, as Lucifer, was created as God’s servant, to oversee worship in the Garden, and a number of other God-ordained things, but the doctrine that the devil was God’s servant from before the creation of time to work evil, deception, corruption and wickedness is anathema.

    It illustrates a fundamental flaw in this doctrine.

  102. Hey Facelift! I encourage you to examine what Macaiah saw in a vision of God’s courts and who was present in God’s counsel. A lying spirit was sent to to God’s will to deceive a number of prophets so they may prophesy wrongly to Ahab so that he may be killed, (judged).

  103. I am someone who disagrees with Lucado’s and others scholars views on these scriptures regarding them to be Satan.

    Sure we can draw those attributes to be like Satan, but I think in context, we would see that the King of Tyche and Babylon were actual people. We need to remember too, that these pagan kings often attributed their likeness and power to be like ‘god’. This was the fate of Nebuchadnezzar.

    I think it was the babylonian king that wore dazzling precious stones EVERYWHERE on his garment. This was so that when the sun hit him, he would sparkle spectacularly in it’s light, dazzling his citizens with his splendour.

  104. @ FL – you need to go back to bible college. God is His own standard and not subject to our limited knowledge and understanding of His actions.

    @ Specks – You need to look more carefully at this.
    The kng of Tyre was not in the Garden of Eden.

    Ezekiel 28 “So here is the lament and the curse on this ruler of Tyre. He was a powerful and wicked ruler. Verses 3 to 5 in particular even show the sarcasm of God as he mocks this man’s pride and speaks of the imminent judgment. But behind the king of Tyre there again is a greater force. And starting in Verse 11, there’s something more here. “Again the word of the Lord came to me,” says Ezekiel, saying: “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God.'” Listen to this. “‘You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx and the jasper, the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created, they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; and walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.'” Mark that. “‘Until unrighteousness was found in you.'” That’s all that is said about how sin entered into this being. “‘By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; Therefore, I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade, you have profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore, I have brought fire from the midst of you; it has consumed you, I have turned you to the ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you. And all who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have become terrified, and you will be no more.'”

  105. @ FL – your position on theology seems to be “I believe something therefore it’s true” rather than “it’s true therefore I believe it”.

  106. Teddy: “@ Specks – You need to look more carefully at this.
    The kng of Tyre was not in the Garden of Eden.”

    I can’t find the studies I did on this. But here is something that is QUITE accurate to what I believe. I hope you enjoy the read:

    http://assemblyoftrueisrael.com/Documents/Kingoftyre.html

    Similarly to the King of Babylon, I believe Isaiah is fulfilling what God told him to do – to TAUNT the King of Babylon. In doing so, he relates the epic of Gilgamesh to reveal the kings arrogance, pride and the kings personal belief that he is godly, powerful, beautiful and cannot die.

  107. Don’t be rude, teddy. I do not need to go back to Bible School.

    Even your John Piper passage isn’t saying what you are saying. I would agree in essence with Piper. Of course God limits Satan’s power, and has a plan which cannot be shaken, even by the works of wickedness. Piper exactly says this. As do I.

    What you, and Bill, are saying, however, is that God purposed before time that Satan would be his agent of evil and wickedness in the earth. That is anathema. God cannot be tempted with evil, and neither should we say so.

    S&P the king of Tyre is certainly the prince of the power of the air behind the throne, who is undoubtedly Lucifer, since the human king could not have been in the Garden of Eden. This is widely accepted, orthodox doctrine, as is Isaiah 14, and not in dispute.

    What I am disputing is that it was God’s actual will and plan for Lucifer, a perfect angel of God’s creation, to turn, sin and become the agent of evil and wickedness in God’s hands. That is anathema.

  108. And, teddy, I am basing what I say on scripture, not my own perspective. I ask you to be more considerate in this, as I am trying to work along with you, not work against anyone.

    The fact is that, to demonstrate this doctrine, you have to show it from scripture yourself, and not from a conclusion reached by men, even if they are considered learned scholars. The scriptures are their judge also.

  109. Teddy

    do understand the concept of a ‘controlling mind’?

    You quoted Lutzer:

    ‘Satan has different roles to play, depending on God’s counsel and purposes. He is pressed into service to do God’s will in the world; he must do the bidding of the Almighty. We must bear in mind that he does have frightful powers, but knowing that those can only be exercised under God’s direction and pleasure gives us hope. Satan is simply not free to wreak havoc on people at will.’

    These sorts of remarks in my view are borderline if not outright heresy in striving to make their point.

    People will just about do anything to win an argument so it seems.

    Anthropomorphism abounds on this thread.

  110. Believe what you like FL, I think your views are heretical. No one is suggesting God is the author of evil but it is allowed within His sovereignity to bring about His purposes.

  111. And giving you scripture doesn’t convince you anyway, because you are always coming from a presupposition, based on your understanding of God’s total sovereignity.

  112. Daniel 4:35 “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?””

    Psalm 115:3 “But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”

  113. You can have your God, I’ll have mine, totally sovereign, totally in control – with Satan as His servant. That’s a very safe position to be in, as far as I’m concerned. There’s nothing that can happen in my life that God doesn’t allow, His grace is sufficient for me.

  114. Um… Facelift, maybe you do need to go back to bible school. Tyre was a place where a king ruled Tyre. Ezekiel was prophesying destruction to the king. God gave him luxury and paradise – the king became proud and was disconnected from Israel – cast away and destroyed.

  115. I think you’re in the minority on that one, s&p. I’ won’t even pursue it further. Even reformists agree. But can’t you stop with this insult about returning to Bible School. It’s unnecessary.

    teddy,
    It’ not a matter of my God or yours. There is only One God, and he is indeed Sovereign. His will will be done, and everything he says will take its course, regardless of what man or devil attempts to do. The evil is limited. He cannot go beyond the bounds God establishes.

    In fact, under the New Testament he has been stripped of any power or authority he had over the Old Testament. He was the accuser through the use of the Mosaic Law, which has been superseded by grace through faith, and has no jurisdiction with the saints of the most high.

    But he does not pull the devil’s strings to perform evil and wickedness.

    The devil is evil and wicked all on his own. He is the god of the children of disobedience. He is the prince of the power of the air. He is permitted to do these things by God, but he is not driven by God to do these things.

    This is where your doctrine falls down and is tantamount to heresy.

    It’s a matter of the scriptural substance. Even Piper is saying exactly what I have said.

    You have not demonstrated, from scripture, that God wills evil and wickedness on the world through satan. You won’t because you can’t. You have not produced any scriptural substance to demonstrate your view. Even Piper agrees with what I have said.

    I agree with his standpoint. What more do you want?

    I also agree with Lucardo in everything but his claim that the devil is God’s devil. That is blasphemy. don’t care if it came from Luther. Luther wasn’t right about everything. He was anti-semetic for a start.

    I will agree to most of what Reformists have said in your quoted authors.

    But I will not agree that satan is God’s servant to do his bidding in evil and wickedness.

  116. I don’t think you understood a thing I said in regards to satan being God’s servant. Remember his boundaries and borders are totally limited within God’s decrees.

  117. I dont think assuming preconceived ideas is a valid argument, otherwise we all have to hold up our hand to that. I am open to counsel here.

    Dr Nielsen oversteps scripture when he says we can be assured that satan only does what God has purposed. That is a misrepresentation of the sovereignty of God. It is a convenient way of explaining the concept that God is a puppet-master, and that the free will of man and angel is none existent. It is the logical conclusion of a doctrine which denies free will.

    It surely gives more glory to God to accept that he has allowed men and angels a free will. It surely appeals to the ultimate Godhead as All-Powerfal, All-Knowing and Omnipresent to accept that his will supersedes any puny self will we or angels might have. He is in control, but he allows us thoughts, decision, actions and emotions independent of his manipulation.

    Surely we give a higher degree of dedication, praise and worship if it comes from our own decision, and not from his, if it comes from our own submission, and not from his demands, if it comes from our will and not as a result of God impressing his will upon us.

    But…let’s break this down, because we’re much closer to agreement than I think you realise.

    John Piper says:
    ‘God is sovereign over the nations and over all their rulers and all the Satanic power behind them. They do not move without his permission, and they do not move outside his sovereign plan.’

    That is exactly what I believe. His article is nothing new to me or nothing I would not understand or accept.

    I will reiterate that he is certainly not saying what you are saying, or what Dr Nielsen is saying.

    God, agree, uses nations and leaders, at least he did under the Old Covenant, to bring judgement and correction to wayward Israel, and this to accomplish his desired outcome of guarding the Seed until faith comes in the form of Christ Jesus.

    He will even allow the devil to tempt us and tests us in a variety of ways to allow our faith to tested to be purified and to be strengthened.

    There is no temptation which is not common to man, but God is faithful, and will not allow s to be tempted above our endurance, and will, with the temptation, provide the way of escape. No problem. he is in control, and faithful, and just.

    There is not dispute here.

    In fact, most of what you and your quoted authors say we are in agreement about, but there is a crossing of the line, which is the focal point of what I am saying to you, which cannot be true of God – that he devised the devil from before creation to be His personal servant of evil and wickedness.

    If we can get past this heresy we will have a basic agreement in terms.

  118. How did you get to there FL? I said Satan is God’s servant, he can do nothing apart from what God allows. God has allowed evil to be part of the big picture of redemption, that doesn’t make Him the author of evil.

    In the end Satan and his cohorts, having served God’s sovereign purposes, will be judged and thrown into the lake of fire.

    Your daily dose of John Macarthur…

    “Everything that exists in the universe exists because God allowed it, decreed it, and called it into existence. “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). “Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps” (Ps. 135:6). He “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11). “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). “For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him” (1 Cor. 8:6).

    What about sin? God is not the author of sin, but He certainly allowed it; it is integral to His eternal decree. God has a purpose for allowing it. He cannot be blamed for evil or tainted by its existence (1 Sam. 2:2: “There is no one holy like the Lord”). But He certainly wasn’t caught off-guard or standing helpless to stop it when sin entered the universe. We do not know His purposes for allowing sin. If nothing else, He permitted it in order to destroy evil forever. And God sometimes uses evil to accomplish good (Gen. 45:7, 8; 50:20; Rom. 8:28). How can these things be? Scripture does not answer all the questions for us. But we know from His Word that God is utterly sovereign, He is perfectly holy, and He is absolutely just.”

    I’m constantly fascinated FL, how you seem to put yourself in the same league as, let’s say, Martin Luther. A hero of the faith, used by God to help bring about the Reformation, bring the church out of the dark ages etc etc. – a man who had the audacity to call the devil, “God’s devil”.

    I suppose he’s a heretic too. I’m in good company.

  119. We don’t deify men, teddy. Luther is subject to the scriptures as we all are. None is greater than any.

    I absolutely think that saying satan is God’s servant is misleading and dangerous. He is not, actually a servant as we would understand a servant. He is merely permitted to promote a sinful world.

    Are you now saying that God didn’t pre-ordain sin and wickedness? Are you saying satan has a will of his own? Do you, then, say we have a free will?

  120. Again I don’t think you are looking beyond your own presuppositions FL (about God’s sovereignty).

    I’m curious – do you go around “binding” Satan as is often done at C3?

  121. For instance, do you hold to the Lutheran understanding of the real presence of Christ in the eucharist?

  122. Teddy, again, Are you now saying that God didn’t pre-ordain sin and wickedness? Are you saying satan has a will of his own? Do you, then, say we have a free will?

  123. You do love bunny trails FL

    How about a litte of Calvin’s Institutes….

    “God is very often said to blind and harden the reprobate . . .. There are two methods in which God may so act. [1] When his light is taken away, nothing remains but blindness and darkness: when his Spirit is taken away, our hearts become hard as stones: when his guidance is withdrawn, we immediately turn from the right path: and hence he is properly said to incline, harden, and blind those whom he deprives of the faculty of seeing, obeying, and rightly executing.
    [2] The second method . . . is when executing his judgements by Satan as the minister of his anger, God both directs men’s counsels, and excites their wills, and regulates their efforts as he pleases.”

  124. Actually FL, you and I need to get on the same side and address Specks’ thoughts about the king of Tyre and Satan.

  125. I think we addressed the issue once before, teddy. He is called the anointed cherub who covers. That should be clear enough.

    As for Calvin’s institutes:

    It appears that people begin in the Light of God the Word:

    ‘That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.’ John 1:9

    It is sin which dims the light, not God.

  126. Are you requesting a new thread on the topic of satan being the ‘king of babylon’ and ‘king of tyre’ teddy?

  127. 1. Satan’s rise and fall (Ezekiel 28)

    As a prophet of God, Ezekiel gave messages of judgment. One such judgment fell on the king of Tyre. He was evil, ruthless, and cruel. The pronouncement of judgment culminates in God’s saying, “Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am a god? But thou shalt be a man, and not God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken it, saith the Lord God” (Ezek. 28:9-10). The king of Tyre was claiming to be God, and that’s the grossest manifestation of pride.

    However beginning in verse 11, Ezekiel goes beyond the king of Tyre to the source of his evil, Satan himself. That is not an uncommon pattern in Scripture. Often the Messianic psalms present David talking about himself, but underlying that is a reference to the Messiah. On one occasion our Lord said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan” (Matt. 16:23). Jesus physically addressed Peter, but in reality He was talking to the source that inspired Peter’s evil remark. The same is true in Ezekiel 28. God takes us behind the scene so we see who caused the king of Tyre to behave as he did.

    a) His beauty

    In verse 12 God says to Ezekiel, “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyre, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord God: Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” This supernatural king was the sum of all God’s creation. He was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” If you wanted to know what God thinks is beautiful, you would have had to behold this particular angel in his original essence.

    b) His preexistence

    Verse 13 says, “Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God.” Obviously the king of Tyre had never been there, but Satan had (Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9). It is probable that this particular Eden is not an allusion to the Garden of Eden on earth, but to the paradise or Eden of heaven in the presence of God.

    c) His talent

    Then God described him: “Every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold; the workmanship of thy timbrels and of thy flutes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created” (v. 13). In addition to being adorned by a plethora of glittering jewels, he is seen as the supreme musician in heaven. That will give you some idea of how God values music–He loves it!

    d) His position

    Verse 14 says, “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth, and I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.” Satan originally may have occupied a place of honor about the throne of God. “Stones of fire” perhaps refers to the blazing Shekinah of God.

    e) His sin

    But sadly, that glorious creature fell: “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned; therefore, I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God, and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire…. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy merchandise” (vv. 15-16, 18). Satan propagated his sin and took one third of the angels with him (Rev. 12:4, 9).

    God concluded, “Therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee; it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee” (v. 18).

  128. Thank you Teddy! I hold a belief in that kind of vain.

    Well written! Satan is caught in a ‘spiritual china town’, using people to exalt himself resulting in that destruction over and over again, accidentally destroying those with his likeness of character.

  129. s&p,
    from your quoted source, ‘assemblyoftrueisrael.com’:

    ‘We do not accept the writings of the Pharisee Paul/Saul of Tarsus as reliable or authoritative for formulating any Scriptural doctrine and we do not recognize him as having been numbered among the original twelve true qualified Apostles (Acts 1:21-26). We use Paul/Saul’s writings as an example of First Century pagan influence and false doctrines that have misrepresented and colored the historical Yahwistic beliefs originating from our paternal ancient forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/Israel, as is presented in the Tanakh and as was taught by the Prophet Yahshua (J-sus) to First Century Israel.’

    And…

    ‘We reject the Christian Trinity, which is the belief of “three distinct persons” forming the one G-dhead. This concept is foreign to the Hebrew Scriptures and likely of ancient pagan origin.’

    And, interestingly…

    ‘We believe that He is always and at all times, in full and absolute control of His creation (Isa. 46:10), and that He is the Originator of both good and bad…’

    And…

    ‘We believe Yahshua was born of Mary and Joseph…’

    And…

    ‘We believe that Yahshua was never a Human Sacrifice (human penalty payment), or that Yahshua was sent by YHWH to become a Human Sacrifice for the sins of the world…’

    nd…

    ‘We believe that a sacrifice (penalty payment) was not a necessary precondition before YHWH would or could be able to forgive a person for sins committed against Him.’

    And…

    ‘We believe that the term “satan” as used in the Tanakh really reads, “HaSaTaN,” which means “THE satan.” The word “satan” in Hebrew simply means “adversary, or opponent.” The word in Hebrew is not a “name” but refers to a position as of an adversary or opponent that someone has taken or is placed into. YHWH Himself can at times be that “adversary.”‘

    There’s more, much more. Not a reliable source!

  130. Oh that’s PATHETIC Facelift!

    Once again you completely right off my views by digging your nose into someone elses views elsewhere to discredit what I have to say on a certain topic.

    That website did not FORCE me to think like that. I had already come to that conclusion in my own bible study on this topic. Fortunately that article was close to what I researched and discovered myself. And there are definitely other ones out there who think the way I do on my views of those subjects (which don’t have those beliefs as you assume they must all do).

  131. So, s&p, if a person were to use, say, Matt Ford, or Todd Bentley, or Rick Joyner, as a source here, you’d be OK with that? You wouldn’t say anything?

    One of the first things anyone should do, and this is Bible Study 101, is to check the background of their source. I am not actually being pathetic, but very helpful to your cause.

    I learned this from the renowned Anglican theologian John Stott, by the way, at the beginning of my walk with the Lord, so excuse me if I am seeming to be picky about the source of information or doctrine, but he makes it clear that Bible Study has to be contained within a strict set of guidelines to avoid error, and these I find to be accurate, so I will always check the doctrinal background of the source first, before commenting.

    My argument would be this, if the source did not believe in either the devil or eternal judgement, as orthodoxy teaches it, and seeks to provide an alternative, which is the case here, then they would have to disprove the existence of the devil, and Gehenna, as we understand it through recognised scholarship. They may have to remove the pauline books, they would have to discredit John the Revelator, and an number of other things, so that their theory could go unchallenged. They might have to diminish Jesus to a prophet, and a merely a man, not the Son of God who is God. They might have to deny the Trinity, and the deity of Christ.

    I am not saying you have no argument, but that backing it up with a cultish doctrinal stance is not helpful. In fact, I would consider it a risk to anyone following your train of thought to be directed to the teachings of a cult.

    I am sure there are more orthodox sources which will lend weight to your argument. It will not hurt you to locate them. If you are right, and can demonstrate it from orthodoxy, then you will have the attention of those who prefer their teaching to come from reliable sources.

    By the way, all new ideas are challenged by the old, and have to gain some weight before they can penetrate the wall of orthodoxy. If you really believe in this you will press on. But remember that it is the scripture which defines our doctrine, not the reverse.

  132. Ok. Point taken. Your response was so good I was tempted just then to bring this up as a new discussion. It would sound like an interesting topic to discuss.

    “But remember that it is the scripture which defines our doctrine, not the reverse.”

    This is what I did then. I have always found those king babylon/tyre scriptures to be taken out of context. When I furthered examined them, my prior beliefs confirmed my suspicions.

    The reasons why I questioned them to begin with was because when God told Isaiah to taunt the King of Babylon – why would Isaiah disobey God and start speaking loudly about what He knew about Satan?

    What does Satan have to do with the King of Tyre? Why start talking about a cherub in the garden of Eden and not be direct with his prophecy to the King of Tyre? Prophets were always direct and were very illustrative with their messages.

    Bringing the topic back to freewill vs puppets, does Satan have a free will if Peter says:

    1Pet 5:8 “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

    If Satan is free to prowl, that means God is letting him? You can imagine the other questions that can be unpacked from a question if not answered in the any way.

  133. Why does God allow it (Satan prowling around) and does the Bible give us the answer explicitly? We do know His ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30), so we trust that whatever he does and allows is perfect, and that plan included sin. That plan included elect and non-elect angels too.

    Something for FL to rebuke (and he probably will)…

    http://www.biblebb.com/files/tonyqa/tc99-54.htm

  134. Unfortunately, in the YouTube clip, Piper switches to and proposes the straw-man synergism argument, which was devised by those who adhere to monergism to argue their case.

    In fact what I said was, ‘It surely gives more glory to God to accept that he has allowed men and angels a free will. It surely appeals to the ultimate Godhead as All-Powerful, All-Knowing and Omnipresent to accept that his will supersedes any puny self will we or angels might have. He is in control, but he allows us thoughts, decision, actions and emotions independent of his manipulation’.

    This is nothing near what Piper argues against.

    Notice I said God allows free will, which still gives him the ultimate authority over everything including our will.

    Piper also argues this case, so we are essentially in agreement, but what he claims as the opposing thought is a completely autonomous and independent will separate and equal to God’s will, which is not what I have claimed, nor do Arminians, as far as I know, and certainly not Wesley, who was my first influence doctrinally. Piper calls it ‘real, ultimate, self-determination’, which of course is not our position, and i suggest he must know this. So he takes it to an extreme to argue against an extreme, but in so doing he veers form the original question, which gives men the ability, form God, to worship freely and willingly, and not by compulsion.

    No one is attempting to claim two or more independent, equal, autonomous agents coming to an agreed position as synchronism demands. God is, in all things sovereign and has set in motion all things. We are his creation and subordinate in all things, since he is pre-eminent in all. He approaches us with his grace. He draws us through the cross of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel. He offers faith, through the Word of faith which is preached to the hearer by the preacher of faith. The hearer receives faith by the preached Word of faith. Faith received invites righteousness. Confession of faith received leads to salvation.

    Romans 10
    8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
    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.
    10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
    11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
    12 ¶ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
    13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
    14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
    15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”
    16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”
    17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

  135. Essentially correct FL, a classic straw-man argument designed to dismiss a view-point by caricature.

    I would essentially agree with you. God allows free-will, it’s just that He has more free-will than we do!

    I disagree with the notion that God has a closed heaven that only open to a few. I agree that it is open only to the elect. However how we understand the term ‘elect’ affects our theology.

    The death and resurrection of Christ opens the way for all people everywhere and for all time to demonstrate His Mercy. However, the majority reject God and harden their hearts. The danger for them is if they harden their hearts for too long, God then helps them in order to demonstrate his Justice.

    He demonstrates His Sovereignty in Justice and Mercy.

    Shalom

  136. This debate is so depressing.
    Maybe God just doesn’t care who is right?
    The Holy Spirit is supposed to lead us into all truth, but Christians have totally different views of the basics. We can’t even agree about how to become a Christian. We can’t agree on who is a Christian. There are wonderful God loving people on both sides but it would be more helpful if God just told us clearly what the truth was.

    Anyway, here are a few things for you people to think about.
    Have you ever met a Calvinist who thinks he’s not one of the elect. “Yeah, I totally believe in Calvinism. It’s so logical. Unfortunately, I realized that I am not one of the elect. Yeah, God has deemed that I will go to hell. But, He’s the boss”.

    For Calvinists, do you really believe this stuff? Honestly? It doesn’t bother you at all when you look around at your local maternity hospital or kindergarten that many of those are going to burn forever? Whether they try to be good boys and girls or not? It’s perfectly logical to believe that there is an omnipotent God and that He can decide on the futures, to sovereignly bless some and curse others. To do exactly what He likes for His good pleasure. But if you met a human like that, what would you think?

    I’ve read the Calvinist interpretation of John 3:16. Changes everything doesn’t it? Welcome to the gospel service tonight. My message is that God loves you tonight! Well. some of you anyway…. Others of you? Sorry, no, he doesn’t love you. So to those of you who God loves, repent and believe! (as you are going to do anyway). And to those who God doesn’t love? Well, there is nothing I can do about that. And I feel like saying, deepest sympathy, but, actually, why should I sympathize – God for His good pleasure has decided that your fate is sealed. get used to it”.

    By the way, anyone have any opinion why there aren’t many black Calvinists in the US? See many in Mark Driscoll’s church?
    Can that be explained in sociological terms, or is that God’s sovereignty too?

    As for people saying that nothing happens to you unless God allows it.. so what? What is so amazing about that?
    Let me tell you. If you met me for a beer, and if I wanted, I could pour the beer over your head. Maybe you would say, praise God, he sovereignly allowed it. I could do it again if you let me – or you could decide as an act of your will, to punch me in the nose, and that second beer would not be poured over your head. And God in all this is…doing what?

    You can all talk about sovereignty, but I will choose what I eat for lunch, and that will affect how long I live. But I may not get to lunch if the guy next door pulls the trigger of a gun. Some people and countries work hard and get rich, others don’t and stay poor. Some countries have bad sanitation and as a result millions die from preventable diseases. People can change that.
    Hitler killed millions. And people stopped that.

    In other words, humans have choices. To choose good or evil, life or death, to follow Jesus or not follow Him. To be baptized or not. To believe in Calvinism or not. To believe in Calvinism for a while and then change their minds.
    If I have misrepresented Calvinism, forgive me – but it’s hard to know what Calvinism is when there are 3 point, 5 point, and 3.5 point people and others who don’t know much about Tulips at all.

  137. That post was too long. How about this.
    Calvin was a nasty man, and it bothers me that there are so many middle class white folk who think its trendy to ridicule prosperity preachers while they buy their latest expensive toy on which to watch their idol Piper on, and toast to their predestinated happiness without a tear for all those they pass who are on their way to hell (in their warped theology).

  138. Wow Churchman – get over it!! We are ALL nasty men and women in need of a Saviour, all destined to hell without the Lord’s sovereign intervention.

  139. And the Lord intervenes in your opinion in your case because he loved you from thousands or millions of years ago. Lucky you!
    But for many, He doesn’t sovereignly intervene and let’s them suffer for the next thousand, no million, no …forever in torment ,because…
    well he decided that millions of years ago.

    How do you explain that to a 5 yr old? Or a 50 yr old for that matter?

    Calvinism could be true. But if it is, it’s one sad universe.

    So many Calvinists are so convinced that the world out there is so turned off by prosperity preachers, but if they had the guts to explain their theology honestly and in detail to the man in the street they would be run out of town.

    Most Calvinists just haven’t thought through the implications of what they believe. Come with me to a hospital or a maternity ward and have the debate with me there.

    But what is most telling is this quote by your friend and mine Fred Phelps, the ultimate Calvin lover.

    Arminianism is a “worse blasphemy and heresy than that heard in all filthy Saturday night fag bars in the aggregate in the world”.

    I wouldn’t let my kids anywhere near Phelps. Then again, I could never decide to withhold my “sovereign intervention” to alleviate my children’s suffering. And guess what? My God wouldn’t either.

    For the historians among you, do some research on Calvinism and racism. Might surprise you – but then again, it probably shouldn’t.

  140. I draw my conclusions from Scripture – I trust a loving God who holds all life in His hands.

    So Phelps is your studied response to Calvinism? Search a little deeper – look at Spurgeon, Edwards, for example, the impact they had on their communities despite having their “intolerable” calvinistic perspective.

    Or just read Romans 9. That works for me. I didn’t meet Calvin, Luther, Spurgeon or Edwards – I just met Christ.

  141. For the record, and without reading this thread that I will never catch up with at this stage, I am also not a Calvinist, while I respect their diligent approach to scripture. I’m responding here just to add to the number here who believe we do have free will, and that its intrinsic to the way God created us. Take it away, and the relationship with Him is fundamentally demeaned. God is still sovereign, but has allowed us free will in His sovereign wisdom because He loves us enough to value a mutual friend relationship rather than a robotic one. Jesus called us friends, not slaves. Big difference, including the free will aspect.

    I also believe God foreknows what we will choose and how our hearts will turn.

    However – I’m not going to argue about all this here. Had my arguments with Calvinists years ago. The debate is worth having if it can deepen our understanding of Father, but not if it becomes more important than our relationship with Him, or if it undermines how we treat one another based on our understanding of one aspect of theology. (Not making comments on anyone here as I have not read all of this thread!)

    BTW – Bull – we now have our first female prime minister in Australia, and she is Welsh born. 🙂

  142. Now I can take advantage of my Welsh heritage via my dad aka Griffith Llewellyn …………can’t give away too much!

  143. Well I forgive you RP for your belief in free-will, because I know that you dont have any choice in the matter.

  144. I had this odd idea as I was driving home. Shoot it down if you must as I think aloud (it could be completely wrong):

    Jesus is God in the flesh. While He was on earth – while He expressed the heart of God, the revealed to Him where He must go and what He must do. The Father didn’t reveal everything to Him on the spot.

    Jesus was surprised by Centurion’s faith, the gentile’s faith and the woman that touched Him who became healed. Other things He seemed to know. Jesus even said that He didn’t know what would happen in the end times to His disciples. But then He appeared to John revealing the knowledge He had received from the Father. I’m wondering if anyone is guessing where I am coming from here.

    Jesus didn’t know everything unless the Father revealed it to Him. Jesus limited His power here on earth when He came. If Jesus as a man was capable of knowing everything, logically you think His head would explode or something.

    The Father knows everything and revealed some of these instances, events or tasks to the Son.

    Could it be argued that the writers of the bible they might have distinguished between the different persons of the Godhead being fully in control and not? When Jesus was on earth – he managed different things differently under a certain control that the Spirit possibly might not have. When Jesus left and the Spirit took His place on the earth – another form of control took place that looks quite Arminianist. Then finally when Christ returns the Father (who is fully in control) will the new creation to His Son.

    I suppose what I am thinking is that the Father might have his hand off creation because maybe He rested and the perfect creation was able to stand perfectly on it’s own as an artwork of God. Then possibly left the care of Creation with Jesus and the Spirit to be engaged with the Creation. I say this only because the Father seemed capable of giving Israel to Jesus when Jesus came to earth – the Father didn’t do so the first time, but He will the second time.

    So the Father is completely Sovereign. Jesus is argued between scholars about His Sovereignty or uncertainty in making decisions in creation. The Spirit being the free Spirit pleasing Arminianists and their views.

    Just wanted to get that out of my head. I’m sure I contradicted myself somewhere. I probably wont agree with some of my own thoughts above. I’m just wondering what other person might have explored this possibility.

  145. “So Phelps is your studied response to Calvinism?”

    Not at all. I thought his quote was funny, and he is a proud Calvinist. Yes, I know about Spurgeon and Edwards (and Venus for that matter) The difficulty about talking about Calvinism is that there are 3 pointers, 4 pointers, 5 pointers.

    Sorry if I sound too combative. My underlying frustration is that Christians believe so many different things. And especially that I can’t seem to find certainty in what I believe myself.

    Studying Church history – both the famous Protestants and the early Church fathers, simply leads me to further despair.

  146. “And especially that I can’t seem to find certainty in what I believe myself.”

    That is not such a bad thing, in my view. Better than being 100% certain and utterly wrong. If the only thing you have left in the end is the person of Christ, then you have enough. That’s all I had left after my disillusionment with first tithing and then so many connected doctrines, and church institutions. There is not one single man that we can trust alone, other than Him, including all the early Church fathers and great Protestant leaders. Some of them believed some horrendous things, while at the same time having great clarity in other areas. To me, this just shows how merciful God must be, seeing that even great men are so inadequate.

  147. Mosco, you said:

    ‘You therefore have a decision.
    a “universal” atonement – if Christ died substitutionarily in the place of every single man and woman in all the world, then you are forced to either say that 1) everyone will be saved, or 2) the death of Christ is insufficient to save without additional works.’

    Are you calling faith works? Isn’t it any who believes that will be saved. How does that diminish the work of the cross? Everyone who believes will b saved. Why dos that detract from universal atonement? Even an alleged elect has to believe to receive eternal life.

  148. @mosco
    Hi mosco. Today (actually Saturday 30) I felt like having a beer so I opened one and drank it. I felt that I chose to have a beer.

    Did I really chose to have a beer or did Father God make me chose to have a beer. Was it really my choice?

  149. @Mosco…Again it comes back to the example of the serpent on the pole, which Jesus used as a type to illustrate the work of the cross.

    All who gazed on the pole were healed. That is, everyone who gazed. Everyone present had access to healing, but did all take part in the transaction? The pole itself did not heal them, God’s Word to them did. Looking did not heal them. God’s Word to them did. Later the same pole was condemned and destroyed because they idolised it. Its work had been done, so it wasn’t the pole, it was the promise. But God provided the means, and they acted on the offer. There was an exchange. It was a type of the cross. It was specific to this incident, and loaded with God’s grace and mercy.

    The cross is the great place of exchange. Jesus takes our place. He carries our sin. He pays the price. We receive salvation and eternal life, not by looking at the cross, which no longer exists physically, but by hearing the Word of faith – that, through the work of the cross, he has offered a free pardon for sins to all who believe.

    How do we access this eternal life? By faith in our hearts in the Lord Jesus, and by confessing him as Lord with our lips.

    It is a transaction, an exchange.

  150. @Heretic

    Is this your question – if God predetermines the choices that men make, then they are not truly free choices since men cannot help but do what God has ordained – in which case men are merely puppets without moral responsibility for what they do. How can you reconcile God’s sovereign foreordination with man’s free will?

  151. @Newsong – faith is everybit a gift of God as is Grace

    “Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. . .”No man comes to me,” says Jesus, “except the Father who sent me draws him.” So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved “through faith,” but salvation is “by grace.” Sound forth those words as with the archangel’s trumpet: “By grace are you saved.” What glad tidings for the undeserving!”

    —Charles Spurgeon, All of Grace

  152. We’re starting to circle, and heretic was correct to anticipate this response.

    The drawing isn’t faith. The drawing, according to Jesus, is through the cross. Being drawn isn’t having faith. Many are drawn to the cross, just as many are chosen, but do all accept the cross, are all responding to the Father? “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you”. Is that not an offer, which demands a response?

  153. @mosco
    No. My questions is this. “Did I really chose to have a beer or did Father God make me chose to have a beer. Was it really my choice?”

    It is a simple enough question. But if you can’t answer it that is ok.

  154. In fact, Paul tells us how faith comes – by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of Christ. This can only be achieved when God sends a preacher.

    The gospel preached is the Father drawing people to the gospel message through people he has sent to preach the message, which is of Christ and him crucified, so that the gospel of his lifting up draws people to him.

    Faith comes as we receive the gospel, because the Holy Spirit is at work with the preacher to convince the ones being drawn by the gospel of sin, righteousness and judgement.

    Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” Did they hear? Yes indeed: “Their sound has gone out all to the ends of the earth, and their words to the ends of the world”. So all have heard. But did all believe?

  155. And why did Israel fail, at the first, to enter the Rest, to enter the Promised Land?

    Hebrews 12:1-2
    ‘Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.’

    So they fell in the wilderness because they believed the evil report of the ten spies, and not the report of faith of Joshua and Caleb, and an entire generation failed to enter the Promised Land.

    They all had the opportunity to enter. God gave them all the same promise of victory, but they failed because they did not mix the gospel with faith.

    So all can enter the Rest of God, eternal life in Christ, but not all will because not all mix the gospel preached with faith. God’s grace is towards them, but many will reject his grace because they will be like the people of Israel who failed to enter through fear of the Anakim.

    The Word we hear only profits us if we mix it with faith. So who’s faith is it, and where does it come from? The preaching of the Word of Christ.

  156. Heretic: “Did I really choose to have a beer?”

    It depends on what you mean by “I”. What caused you to get a beer – were you thirsty? Did you want to relax? Were there other people having a drink, and therefore social factors involved?

    All our decisions are not completely free, we dont have free-will to choose. Our decisions are limited and prompted by factors beyond our control. The concept of free-will is philosophically contentious, and scientific and neurological research is increasingly showing that we don’t conciously decide much of what we do. Research shows that we take an action and then afterwards construct a concious decision for it.

    So if our minds are conditioned and prompted by external forces, what if anything about us could be termed free to choose? It would have to be some part of us that is not influenced by physical, mental or social forces. Possibly the spirit, but then we are told that we were spiritually dead – so how could the dead choose life?

    Arminian theology postulates that God gives special grace at that moment in order for the person to be able to choose – free of physical and spiritual influences. But that is essentially the same as Calvanism, because if people were really free to choose between eternal life and eternal death then they would choose life obviously.

  157. This is an interesting topic to me, as it relates to some stuff I studied once. Behaviourism vs determinism. The idea of determinism was that our built environment determined our behaviour. Therefore, if the right environment was built, all kinds of social problems would be solved. This was a huge philosophical influence behind the Modern architectural movement, but has now been discredited. While our environment may influence our behaviour, it does not control it. Another current thought is that where we live determines our behaviour – ‘spatial determinism’. I agree with the view that our behaviour and desires determine where we choose to live however (given that we have the luxury of choice).

    It is too extreme to say that our decisions are not free at all. There may be constraints and influences upon us – we may not be completely free – but research is showing in a very practical fashion that we are not entirely determined by environmental factors. Having said that, yes we will frequently take an action and then retrospectively justify it. Our true motivation may not be the one we admit to ourselves.

    Here are a couple of articles on environmental and spatial determinism (in two comments since to avoid going into moderation):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architectural_determinism

  158. “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Winston Churchill

    Are Churchill’s words true? What do we mean by determinism?

    OED: “The philosophical doctrine that human action is not free but necessarily determined by motives which are regarded as external forces acting upon the will.”

    Often determinism is related to the ‘will of God’ or to ‘fate’. For the psychological theories of behaviourism it is related to the environment surrounding an organism.

    From eu.lib.kmutt.ac.th/elearning/Courseware/ARC359/Determinism.doc

  159. @wazza “we dont have free-will to choose”
    I think that is a bit strong. There are influences on me but I regularly make choices between alternatives.

    “Arminian theology postulates that God gives special grace at that moment in order for the person to be able to choose” OK but that is just speculation since the question it is not addressed by scripture.

    “But that is essentially the same as Calvanism, because if people were really free to choose between eternal life and eternal death then they would choose life obviously.” Agreed. The real and pragmatic differences between the two points of view do not seem to be sufficient to warrant the arrogant and superior attitudes that picking one side or the other seems to engender.

    But that is not relevant to the question I am asking. Mosco has picked a side and claims Calvinism has all the correct answers. But is Calvinism relevant? Can it answer simple pragmatic questions. If not then any claim to answer complicated ones is irrelevant.

  160. Taking it rather crudely further, when the beer had taken its course, you were probably internally cued to go to the boys room and relieve yourself of the expanding residue. Was it God prompting you or was it a movement in your bowels? Was the timing of this an act of your will, or God’s will acting on yours? Did God assist you with your aim? Did you actually have a conscious choice to use the dunny, or was it, in part, an outcome of the potty training you received years earlier?

  161. @Newsong – “We’re starting to circle” – tell me when I should start trembling in fear (lol)….as if you were the first ever to brooch the subject!!

    Were are you getting the idea that I am making the assertion that “drawing” equates to “faith”?

    @Heretic – You have asked me a question that necessarily presupposes interaction of God’s decretive will and mans free Will (the faculty by which the mind chooses any thing (without any further metaphysical refining)), – but you want me to answer the question without any reference whatsoever to God’s decretive/permissive will – and furthermore, we have not even started to distill the matters down to areas of enquiry such as the distinction natural and moral necessity and inability yet you refer broader enquiries concerning the nature of the will as “simple pragmatic questions” – are you serious….

    I’ll start here – The sovereignty of God all things are under His rule and control, and that nothing happens in this Universe without His direction or permission. He is a God Who works, not just some things, but all things after the counsel of His own will (see Eph. 1:11). God’s purpose is all- inclusive and is never thwarted (see Isa. 46:11). Nothing Takes Him by Surprise

    “It is not merely that God has the power and right to govern all things but that He does so always and without exception.” – John Piper

    God is sovereign over the entire universe: Ps 103:19; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11
    God is sovereign over all of nature: Ps 135:6-7; Mt 5:45; 6:25-30
    God is sovereign over angels & Satan: Ps 103:20-21; Job 1:12
    God is sovereign over nations: Ps 47:7-9; Dan 2:20-21; 4:34-35
    God is sovereign over human beings: 1 Sam 2:6-7; Gal 1:15-16
    God is sovereign over animals: Ps 104:21-30; 1 Ki 17:4-6
    God is sovereign over “accidents”: Pr 16:33; Jon 1:7; Mt 10:29
    God is sovereign over free acts of men: Ex 3:21; 12:25-36; Ez 7:27
    God is sovereign over sinful acts of men and Satan: 2 Sam 24:1; 1 Chr 21:1; Gen 45:5; 50:20

  162. Oh i forgot one – yes as trite as it sounds, God predetermined that a can of beer would quench your thirst at the material time – I know you like it simple buddy but unfortunately I dont have proof text for that one!

    Heres an interesting question for you on the dissenting side of things – could you infer from that proposition above that the beer is not truly beer?

  163. By saying our decisions are not free at all, I am saying that we have at any one time a very limited range of choices. Eg, if I’m thirsty, I can choose a beer, or some water, or nothing at all. However at some time I’ll have to have some liquid, or otherwise my physiology will cause me discomfort. If I keep drinking water only, I might get bored with it, it might not be as socially acceptable.. etc. etc. There are only a very limited range of options from which to choose.

    Then from among these options, how do we decide which to choose. It is the one that we assess will give us the most pleasure or least discomfort overall, is it not? So then is it a completely free choice?

    To have free-will we must postulate a self which is free from these types of influences, which can then decide free from physical or mental causation.

  164. RP, I think environmental determinism says that culture is determined by physical environment, not by social conditions. I’m saying that behaviour is determined by social conditions, physical environment and whole host of other factors. Just that it is determined by something, not by nothing at all.

  165. @Wazza2 – to an extent – I agree…

    You may like these quotes which expand upon what you have raised and what our friend Heretic thinks can be simply explained – I think it is all the more clear that the truth of a proposition can not always be found in the practical consequences of accepting it!

    Dr Greg Bahnsen (“Cross-Examination: Foreordination & Free Will”)

    “It seems that many people make the mental mistake of thinking that God’s sovereign plan and control over the things in this world somehow changes the very character and operation of those things. Thus if God sovereignly predetermines how a man will use his volition (his free will), then man’s volition is no longer really his volition (his free will is not actually free). But such reasoning is fallacious.

    Johnathon Edwards – Freedom of the Will (part 1)

    “for in every act of will whatsoever, the mind chooses one thing rather than another; it chooses something rather than the contrary or rather than the want or non-existence of that thing.

    So in every act of refusal, the mind chooses the absence of the thing refused; the positive and the negative are set before the mind for its choice, and it chooses the negative; and the mind’s making its choice in that case is properly the act of the Will: the Will’s determining between the two, is a voluntary determination; but that is the same thing as making a choice. So that by whatever names we call the act of the Will, choosing, refusing, approving, disapproving, liking, disliking, embracing, rejecting, determining, directing, commanding, forbidding, inclining, or being averse, being pleased or displeased with; all may be reduced to this of choosing. For the soul to act voluntarily, is evermore to act electively.”

  166. @Mosco

    God is not sovereign. That’s man-made theology. If I can make the time I will offer you proof for every one of your “sovereignty” scripture you posted. Give me a few days.

  167. @Mosco… You misunderstood me. By circle, I meant not circle like sharks, as you seemed to think, but to go theologically around in circles, as this discussion typically does. I wasn’t really wanting to follow you around in this rondo…

    …from The Father drawing us in a controlled, contrived manner, to his will imposing faith on us, to blanket sovereignty without regard to the personal sovereignty he granted us as his highest creation, and every other step away from the truth that God actually allows us a free will, and our response to his sovereign will of accorded choice is our acceptance of his grace.

  168. “RP, I think environmental determinism says that culture is determined by physical environment, not by social conditions. I’m saying that behaviour is determined by social conditions, physical environment and whole host of other factors. Just that it is determined by something, not by nothing at all.” – wazza

    From what I read, I understood that determinists believe that actual behaviour, not just culture, was determined by the environment.

    My personal view is that all the things you say affect our behaviour, sometimes extremely strongly, however it is not absolutely determined by the environmental influences.

    Anyway, here is another quote detailing four possible positions:

    THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
    (Jon Lang, Creating Architectural Theory, pp. 100-108)

    This concept of conditioning –stimulus-response (SR) of classical – has been extended by some to include the built environment. There are four basic positions

    1. Free-will approach
    Suggests that the environment has no impact on behaviour.

    2. Possibilistic approach
    Perceives the environment to be the afforder of human behaviour but nothing more. A set of opportunities upon which action may or may not be taken. Eg. a cup is on the table. I choose to fill it up with water or not. It does not make me thirsty.

    3. Probabilistic approach
    Assumes that human behaviour is not entirely capricious. The environment does affect behaviour but there are many variables.

    “Given an individual A with attributes a, b, c, set in an Environment E with characteristics d, e, f, and with the Motivation for action M it is probable that A will perform Behavior B.”

    4. Deterministic approach
    Implies a simple cause-effect relationship between the environment and behaviour. For some this meant better architecture could make better people.

    Environmental determinism – it is nurture within the setting of our geographical, social and cultural environments, rather than nature, our heredity, that shapes our values and behavior.

    Physical determinism – the nature of the geographic environment determines people’s behavior. There is, for example a relation between culture and climate.

    Architectural determinism – changes in the landscaped and architectural elements of the environment will result in changes in behavior, particularly social behavior.

    From From eu.lib.kmutt.ac.th/elearning/Courseware/ARC359/Determinism.doc

    This is interesting because it is a secular discussion, parallel to the scriptural debate.

  169. And TVDude, my stance is that God IS sovereign, but allows us free will. Of course he can override it at any time if He so chooses.

  170. @ TVD – do you sleep well knowing that God is not “sovereign”? What’s that song by Sting? Every breath you take?

    The following is an edited transcript from John Piper

    “Is God’s sovereignty limited?”

    I reject this idea because the Bible doesn’t teach it. In fact, it teaches the opposite.

    It teaches that not a bird falls to the ground apart from our Father’s will.
    It teaches that the king’s heart is like a river in the hands of the Lord; he turns it wherever he wills.
    It teaches that when Joseph was sold into Egypt and finally turns around and his brothers are found to be guilty, God says, “You meant it for evil, but I meant it for good.”
    I reject it because the book of Proverbs says that the die is cast into the lap and its every decision is from the Lord; a man designs his way, but the Lord directs his steps; and on and on…
    The Bible teaches that God is sovereign, that he rules over all things.

    There are emotional reasons as well for believing in God’s absolute sovereignty. If I rejected the sovereignty of God over all things including my will and my life, I would lose the very God, the very power that stands behind all the promises that make my life livable in pain.

    So when you surrender the sovereignty of God in order to get him off the hook of calamity, you also lose him at the point where you need power to endure the calamity and see all the calamity turned for good. If God is going to be rejected here, then what have I got except God-less calamity?

    If that is what people want to choose, they can make that existential decision; but it would be unbiblical and, I think, it would be folly for life.

  171. I knew the next step in the rondo had to be sovereignty.

    It is the default position for all things Calvinist, alongside Romans 9. It silences all criticism. It is akin to the Islamic view of Allah, whereby, whether a thing is good or evil, it is all and always the will of Allah, or Doris Day doctrine of Que Sera Sera, so that there is no real way to determine what will transpire, because God has decreed and manipulated it all.

    Which could only mean that he has even set up his own opposer and adversary, who becomes our enemy also, who, by God’s will, we have to simultaneously resist steadfastly in the faith, which can only be accorded if it is God’s will.

    So that, when John Piper is asked a question in regard to why it was God’s will to equip, train and send El Qaeda terrorists to fly aircraft into the World Trade Buildings on 9/11 and kill thousands of innocent people, thus bringing pain to an entire nation, and anguish to their relatives and friends, he could only respond to the effect that God works all things for our/their good, which is completely baffling to any rational non-beleiver, and totally not attractive as a potential lifestyle in their future.

    Which doesn’t really matter, anyway, apparently, since God has elected some but not others anyway.

    Further, God has fore-ordained that millions of people, past present and future, have been preordained for the Lake of Fire and torment, and can do nothing about it, even if they wanted to.

    One has to ask the question, in the light of this kind of sovereignty, what is the point of the cross, the Bible and any kind of obedience to God;s word if it is all prepackaged and manipulated in this way?

  172. @mosco
    Sorry mosco but you are confusing me. Your answer appears to be “God is sovereign” and “God predetermined it” neither of which actually answer the question. “God predetermined it” might be you saying that I can not chose a beer but I am not sure. I guess you think you are answering but I think you are not. Can you try again please?

    Maybe I need to make it simpler since we are having trouble here. Multiple choice might help. Please choose one:
    a. I had free choice (possibly plus various qualifications/explanations).
    b. I did not have free choice (possibly plus various qualifications/explanations).
    c. The question does not have a yes/no answer (surely not)
    d. Calvinism does not say (fair enough)
    e. Calvinism does say but you find the question too dangerous to answer in a few words (not trying to be offensive – this is a valid position)
    I don’t immediately see other options.

  173. @ “Ps” TVD and “Ps” NewSong – if God is not sovereign, who is in charge at your church? Who is the boss, so to speak?

  174. Oh, don’t get me wrong, teddy, I differ from TVD in that I absolutely believe that God is sovereign, but I also believe he has released his will into the earth through his Word, and that his will can be known, and we have the ability granted by him to make sovereign choices by his permission, which is his sovereign will in action, and to face the consequences of making the choices which he has declared, in his sovereignty, are contrary to his will.

    I disagree with the notion that he is pulling the strings in absolutely every situation, like a puppeteer, and that we have not been accorded any will or decision making process which is not already pre-purposed.

  175. @teddy

    “TVD – do you sleep well knowing that God is not “sovereign”

    Of course I do, because I know my God – He is a good God, He is a loving God, and He is a God who cares for His children. Let me ask you – do you sleep well thinking that the God you believe in could choose to take you out at any moment, or choose not to heal your loved one of cancer, or allow all sorts of disaster and calamity to affect you to teach you a lesson? I know which God I’d follow, and it’s not yours! I follow the God of the Bible.

  176. My point about the default position of Calvinist sovereignty is that it is used to end all discussion when an answer isn’t immediately known or forthcoming. yet all things are revealed to us through the Word of god, so we can know what God’s will is in a given situation, and how to respond if we need to.

    If we have a personal will, and responsibility for our choices and actions, we know that God is not necessarily to blame when things go wrong, or evil takes place, or we sin, or sin affects us indirectly. We are the guilty party if we sin, and the cross is effective and a great act of mercy on God’s part. His grace is undeserved yet given, and an exceptional act of love on his part in redemption. Plus he is easily seen, from this aspect, to be pure and holy and unblameable for anything.

    But, if we have no personal will, then we cannot be blamed or guilty of anything which does take place in regard to sin, and therefore the work of the cross is pointless, since God caused us to sin if he is manipulating everything, which, logically at least, makes him the perpetrator of evil, and not the sin nature, or the temptation of the devil, since the devil would also have to be being manipulated to tempt us by God.

    Which God would you prefer?

  177. Where do I start? Had lunch with friends today whose newborn grandson died in their arms in intensive care recently. They bore that burden for the parents. They trust and love their sovereign Lord knowing there will be a reunion one day. So much more to add but nothing will stop me trusting a totally sovereign God.

  178. I was shat on from great heights when I previously said (in the trinity debate) that TVD as a “christian pastor” was so far theologically removed from anything that can be meaningfully described as historical biblical christianity that he could not even be described as a christian save to say a “pastor”.

    He cannot subscribe to basic christian doctrines of the faith – like I said before, he’s a wolf….

    I find it very interesting when Newsong, RP, MN, Heretic et al, are happy to walk in lock-step with him insofar as he affirms their positions in certain affairs but wont venture to call him out on what he explicitly denies when it comes to what defines us as Christians…..

    – But I suppose “you just have to live and let live and love people where they are at” eh?

    (as if “loving one another and loving God” is easer to pull off than obedience to God’s moral law)

  179. @teddy

    “Where do I start? Had lunch with friends today whose newborn grandson died in their arms in intensive care recently.”

    Very, very sad and tragic. But the even more tragic thing is that you are saying in effect that God took that baby away. Nice.

  180. @Mosco

    “Where do I start? Had lunch with friends today whose newborn grandson died in their arms in intensive care recently.”

    No, just so far removed from your baby-killing god theology.

  181. Not true, Mosco!

    I have openly disagreed on at least two occasions with TVD, and pointed it out, without resorting to rudeness. Just now, on the sovereignty of God, and, on the other thread, on his claim that you do not have the brains to put up a logical discussion!

    No one’s ganging up on you. It’s just a fact of life that there are weaknesses in the idea that we don’t have a free will, and most of us agree with this.

    But why would you complain about it, since you must believe we are being manipulated by the will of God to disagree with you!

  182. Sorry, repasted the wrong quote. Let me repost –

    “so far theologically removed from anything that can be meaningfully described as historical biblical christianity that he could not even be described as a christian save to say a “pastor”.

    No, just so far removed from your baby-killing god theology.

  183. Yes, well, look, this is getting rather emotive and unnecessary. God is God, and he is merciful, whether we believe he is the Reformed God or not. Let’s calm down, and have a cuppa, before we bite and devour one another, which is not a good look.

    I am sorry your friends lost their child, teddy. I agree that God has that child and his parents, assuming they are saved, will be reunited. My condolences.

    Time out for me!

  184. @Newsong

    I suggest you spend some time browsing the Signposts forums. You will see that I had tried for some time to engage in civil debate with Mosco, but he always resorted to shrill ad hominem attacks against me. I have simply decided to talk a little more directly. I find it saves time.

  185. @Heretic – you are either taking the piss or its emergent déjà vu on my part:

    5 Point Spurgeonist says:
    October 31, 2010 at 12:39 am
    @Heretic

    Is this your question – if God predetermines the choices that men make, then they are not truly free choices since men cannot help but do what God has ordained – in which case men are merely puppets without moral responsibility for what they do. How can you reconcile God’s sovereign foreordination with man’s free will?

  186. @teddy

    “be very careful what you say.”

    Think about it for a moment teddy. As I said, it’s a very sad tragedy, and I am not making light of it. But, in the cold hard light of day, what you are saying is that a sovereign God took that baby away from it’s parents.

  187. @TVdelusions – “shrill ad hominem attacks against me” what happened to “spewing viiiile haaatred”!!!

  188. @Mosco

    ““shrill ad hominem attacks against me” what happened to “spewing viiiile haaatred”!!!”

    They’re not mutually exclusive Mosco

  189. I think the fact is that we don’t actually know the answer to the question. We all have opinions and they mirror the philisophical positions that have been argued down the ages :

    Deterministic universe / Non-deterministic universe
    Free-will / No Free-will

    No one has ever come to a conclusion, and no-one will get it from the Bible, because it is not a philisophic or scientific text. From whatever framework you come to, you will interpret the Bible from that point of view.

    But the good news is it dosent matter. Its like the analogy posted before, did we grab hold of the life-saver, or did the captain pull us out of the water into the ship?. It dosent matter how we got there, as long as we dont argue about it when we are in the ship.

  190. @TVD – yes I’m saying exactly that. Read Job “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” – then James 5:11 “Behold we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

    @NewSong – the baby’s father was far from relationship with the Lord, on a downhill spiral, drugs, alcohol etc. This occasion, as sad as it was, brought him back to a very strong trusting relationship (grew up in church), an acknowledgement that he knew God
    has never forsaken him, even though he had tried to run from Him and the faithful prayers of parents.

  191. @mosco

    Is this your question – if God predetermines the choices that men make, then they are not truly free choices since men cannot help but do what God has ordained – in which case men are merely puppets without moral responsibility for what they do. How can you reconcile God’s sovereign foreordination with man’s free will?

    You know my question.

    You won’t answer it.

    I give up.

  192. @teddy

    “yes I’m saying exactly that. ”

    And you’re comfortable with that? Wow! Ok, go for it!

    “Read Job “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord””

    Firstly, this statement was made by Job, not by God. Job didn’t know God as a loving father, he knew Him simply as “the man upstairs”. In fact Job was rebuked by God at the end because Job was saying wrong things about God. We cannot take anything that Job said as being any basis for theology.

    As for the passage in James, the NKJV says “You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” The “end” that God intended was to see Job experience His compassion and mercy after Job had endured. It has nothing to do with God taking anything away.

  193. @teddy

    “Stay out the pulpit , TVD, you do no honour to God’s Word.”

    How? You mean you would rather people preach untruths?

  194. Re: “…walking in lock-step” with TVD: I disagree with TVD on many things, and have always said so, including above re sovereignty. So have others here. There are a spectrum of views here, not just one or two positions.

    I agree with wazza’s latest comment though on this:

    “No one has ever come to a conclusion, and no-one will get it from the Bible, because it is not a philisophic or scientific text. From whatever framework you come to, you will interpret the Bible from that point of view.

    But the good news is it dosent matter. Its like the analogy posted before, did we grab hold of the life-saver, or did the captain pull us out of the water into the ship?. It dosent matter how we got there, as long as we dont argue about it when we are in the ship.” – wazza2

  195. @RP

    “From whatever framework you come to, you will interpret the Bible from that point of view.”

    True, but just because it’s your own interpretation doesn’t make it the right interpretation. There is enough scriptural evidence to disprove any notion of God’s sovereignty, and very little to prove it. Simply by force of numbers the idea that God is the puppet master is incorrect theology. For a site that prides itself on dissecting thology with a fine tooth comb it surprises me that no-one here can see it.

  196. @Heretic – “Did I really chose to have a beer or did Father God make me chose to have a beer. Was it really my choice?”

    the answer is – yes, you really did choose to have a beer!!!! – now, if you are satisfied with that answer in an of itself without any further enquiry – then I have the right to ask you – were you dropped on your head as a baby?

  197. I think there may be a range of definitions of sovereignty being discussed here. Sometimes a variance of the understanding of a phrase or word can cause confusion simply because each party neglects to inform the other of their grasp of its meaning, and meanwhile each side thinks it is their understanding which being challenged, when it’s not.

    We once gathered with a group of pastors and leaders in our city to pay for revival, which everyone agreed we should pray for, but we soon realised we all understood it differently, so we found we had first to define revival from our different perspectives, and then produce a statement of belief in what it was as a group, before we could approach prayer in agreement.

    The main stumbling block was another definition, that of the role of the sovereignty of God, because we had a mixture of Calvinist and Arminian viewpoints. It took a healthy discussion to work through this to get to a sound understanding of what we could go to God for. These things can be worked through, but it takes time and patience.

    How do you define sovereignty, if you don’t believe it applies to God, TVD? How do you define it, if it overrules all other considerations, Mosco & teddy? Any other thoughts?

  198. The Absolute Sovereignty of God – “That God foreknows nothing by contingency, but that He foresees, purposes, and does all things according to His immutable, eternal, and infallible will.” (Luther)

    Why does it matter whether we believe this? Ten reasons (from John Piper)

    1. The good news of God’s substituting his Son for us on the cross depends on it.

    “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.” (Acts 4:27­–28)

    2. The perseverance of the saints in the fear of God depends on it.

    “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” (Jeremiah 32:40)

    3. Progress in holiness now, and the final perfecting of the saints in the end, depends on it.

    “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12–13)

    “But you have come to Mount Zion . . . and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22–23)

    4. The assurance of God’s final triumph over all natural and supernatural evil depends on it.

    “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.’” (Isaiah 46:9­–10)

    5. The comfort that there is a wise and loving purpose in all our calamities and losses, and that God will work all things together for our good, depends on it.

    “Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love. . . . Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lamentations 3:32–38)

    “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

    “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

    6. The hope that God will give life to the spiritually dead depends on it.

    “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 with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4–5)

    “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 3:8)

    7. Well-grounded expectation of answered prayer depends on it.

    “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1)

    “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. . . . For the promise is for . . . everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38–39)

    8. Boldness in the face of seeming hopeless defeat depends on it.

    “Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities of our God, and may the Lord do what seems good to him.” (2 Samuel 10:12)

    “Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him.” (2 Chronicles 32:7)

    9. Seeing and savoring the revelation of the fullness of God’s glory depends on it.

    “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ . . . What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power . . . [acted] in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy?” (Romans 9:20–23)

    10. Praise that matches the fullness of God’s power, wisdom, and grace depends on it.

    “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. . . . We will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” (Psalm 115:3, 18)

    “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.” (Psalm 96:4)

    The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is an anchor for the troubled soul, a hope for the praying heart, a stability for fragile faith, a confidence in pursuing the lost, a guarantee of Christ’s atonement, a high mystery to keep us humble, and a solid ground for all praise. And oh so much more. O Lord, turn this truth for the triumph of your saving and sanctifying grace

  199. @Newsong

    My understanding of the concept of sovereignty as it applies in this discussion is that of the idea of God being in complete control of everything that happens on this earth, good or bad, and that He directs and causes situations that somehow are being used by Him to teach us something. And this position is most definitely unscriptural.

  200. @TVD – Have a bit of look at this Dr James White’s closing statement in a debate against George Bryson held at the Anaheim Vineyard in Southern California.

    Bryson now sports a new rear end that was providentially torn for him for his inability to deal consistently with Scripture

  201. Thanks Mosco. Had a listen to the first link you posted. Interesting how someone can be so sincere – and yet so wrong!

  202. @ TVD – this is the most appropriate link I can provide for you……because using the Bible to state the (bleeding) obvious doesn’t seem to work.

  203. @teddy

    “using the Bible to state the (bleeding) obvious doesn’t seem to work.”

    Whatever filters we view God through is how we interpret scripture. You believe God is sovereign, therefore He can kill people and destroy lives and cause calamity and distress, because he is sovereign and it’s all for His purpose, whereas I believe that God is all good all the time, that He can do no evil, and that He loves each human being with an unconditional love that surpasses all understanding. Teddy, I suggest that you sit down with your bible and a Hebrew/Greek Dictionary and look at the meanings of each word. Notice I said MEANINGS. Each Hebrew word in the OT has at least three meanings. You will find then that much of the theology you have held so dear has been incorrect.

  204. I’m not seeing your (real) name on on any list of accredited theologians – regardless of doctrinal stance. Seriously, my heart grieves for any people sitting under your “ministry”. And I say that without apology.

  205. @ MN – if you take into account all the remarks made TVD in regards to “painless” childbirth etc, disregard for really respected theologians from both sides (and I suspect some Hebrew playdough thrown in for good measure, what with the three meanings in the OT), and this is what is represented/preached from his “pulpit”, would you be concerned for any attending that church?

    I also suspect this is the first time his “theology” has been really challenged and caslled into question.

  206. Haven’t read most of this but what I have…

    TVD and Mosco – as far as I am concerned you are both idiots.

    Far from walking lockstep with TVD (Mosco) I consider you both birds of a feather and bona fide idiots.

    You both disgraces.

    Mosco you are a victim of the worst sort. You bascially badger people into taking a shot at you, so you can justify your morally moribund behaviour.

    I have read nothing of you that indicates anything of the love of Christ.

    With others on here despite our disagreement, it has been obvious that the love of Christ is there.

    With you not so. Which calls into question your whole doctrinal position…

    The fruit of the Spirit as far as I can see in your comments on here is absent.

    Grow up.

  207. Well as I said TVD is an idiot.

    Mosco should know better but clearly revels in his own legend status of theological superiority.

    You may agree with his position but as far as I can see he has nothing to offer.

    How do you put this shit to people who aren’t Christians?

    Where is the heart of Christ in this?

    Where is concern for the lost?

    To the extent that I agree with reformed doctrine, time and time again I have seen and down through the centuries its Achilles heel – that which shows it does not have all the answers – God knows that is impossible anyway – is the hidebound arrogance, intransigence, and lack of love in putting this position.

    Even yourself…

    The sovereignty of God…yeah….

    Well the sovereignty of God says the greatest things are faith, hope and love, and the greatest is love, and yet what has been absent in this conversation is precisely that. It is the dead giveaway.

    Sorry.. been there, done that. Not interested.

  208. MN – your just a….just a…a….BIG GUNKY HEAD!!!!

    (Quick! TVD – you got a spare pharisee card?)

  209. I think your comments re fruit – the Achilles heel – sums things up well, MN.

    And your comment: “Well the sovereignty of God says the greatest things are faith, hope and love, and the greatest is love, and yet what has been absent in this conversation is precisely that. It is the dead giveaway.”

  210. @Mosco

    “does the bible forbid killing? is killing unlawful?”

    You know the answer to that.

    @mn

    I’ll let you all in on a little secret – my “disgrace” here has been somewhat intentional!

    My purpose of late has been to call many of you out on your hypocrisy and pridefulness. As I have stated elsewhere, I originally began to post out of exasperation at the rubbish that was being spewed about other ministries/ministers, but very quickly I came to the realisation that the whole purpose of this blog was to give a voice to the angry and hurt. Fair enough. You need a voice. But it went way beyond that. This site is so chock full of spiritual bullies running roughshod over any contrary opinion that I felt that those bullies needed to get some back. So I decided that I would try the “give them back some of their own medicine” technique. If people like blah-blah and Mosco could be allowed to hijack threads and resort to ad hominim attacks then I would throw it right back at them to see how they would react. The old saying “can dish it out but can’t take it” rings so true on this site it’s not funny. Man, it worked a treat! The anger and bile thrown in my direction was incredible! The absolute lack of, as you stated mn, the love of Christ in these people was staggering. Such hatred, such spite, such pride! Thankfully some of you have begun to take notice of their true natures, and are also now calling them on it as well. Well done. This site has the potential to be a place where real healing can take place. But until bullies like blah-blah and Mosco are pulled down a peg or two that can never happen.

    I want to state though, that not everything I have posted here as been done with the intention of baiting the bullies. I also am attempting to help you guys think a little bit about your belief systems. Engage your logical and analytical brains. Don’t be afraid to put aside those things we have held so dear just because we have always believed them. I am so thankful that in my own life I have been able to discard many wrong or misguided belief systems that held me in bondage for so long, tithing being one of those. I am more than willing to change what I believe if it can be proven by scripture that I had been wrong. I encourage you guys to do the same.

  211. Teddy: “…disregard for really respected theologians from both sides.”

    Again I have not read all, but I acknowledge your comments.

    I might see if I can force myself thru this and come up with a biblical challenge…not that I would expect that to change the tenor of anything.

    And maybe I won’t. Enough petrol has already been poured on the flames.

  212. TVD I understand the whole playing a role thing.

    All I will say is that I have done that elsewhere, and it has got me into real trouble and caused a great deal of pain.

    Something I try and steer clear of these days….my experience is not much good comes from it.

  213. Well, TVD, this site is 99% unmoderated, so people will always have the opportunity to hijack threads. There’s no need for anyone to try to bait anyone.

    Personally, I’d prefer it if people who genuinely wanted to talk about stuff talked about it, with no attempts to bait or manipulate at all, and with basic respect for other points of view.

    Most of us are here because we have thought about our belief systems at times, and have used our feet as a result. That means we took things fairly seriously. So you are a little late to the table, if thinking about our beliefs is what you are attempting to get us to do. It shows a lack of understanding of the people here and a lack of respect for what we have individually gone through. A quick judgement.

    If you actually want to discuss things, for your own benefit, then go for it. Attempting to deliberately bait people is not the same thing and doesn’t contribute to anyone’s ‘healing’.

    Over time, anyone who hangs around gets both revealed to others and has others revealed to them. It is consistency over time that reveals our characters online. Not even one off responses to whatever gets aimed in our direction.

  214. TVD & MN

    Lets do some Geography instead:

    One of you has been paddling around in a long river running through Africa called “denial” while the other has been paddling around in the Tiber….

    Paddle around long enough and you will both eventually meet in the mediterranian sea of syncretistic religion.

  215. Two positions briefly explained. Election according to Calvinism and Arminianism.

    Unconditional Election (Calvinist)

    • God chose some individuals unconditionally from eternity for eternal life according to his own good pleasure, completely apart from anything having to do with the person, including merit, good works, or foreseen faith.

    • God withheld his mercy from the rest of humanity, ordaining them to dishonor and wrath for their sin.

    • Thus, by the decree of God and for his glory, some people are unconditionally predestined to eternal life, and others are left (and so ordained) to eternal death because of their sin, making two specific and static groups of individuals that can never be changed. (Some Calvinists believe that God purposed to glorify his name by unconditionally choosing some individuals for eternal blessing and some individuals for eternal Hell, and that God ordained the Fall and decided to create the world to accomplish this goal.)

    Conditional Election (Arminian)

    • God has sovereignly decided to choose only those who have faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, for salvation and his eternal blessing.

    • God has foreknown from eternity which individuals would believe in Christ.

    • Among Arminians, there are two different views of election conditioned on faith:

    a) Individual election: The classic view in which God individually chose each believer based upon His foreknowledge of each one’s faith and so predestined each to eternal life

    b) Corporate election: Election to salvation is primarily of the Church as a people and embraces individuals only in faith-union with Christ the Chosen One and as members of his people. Since the election of the individual derives from the election of Christ and the corporate people of God, individuals become elect when they believe and remain elect only as long as they believe.

    More here:
    http://evangelicalarminians.org/Outline.FACTS-of-Arminianism-vs-the-TULIP-of-Calvinism

  216. Here is a quote from C S Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity’ which presents another facet of the discussion about free will and God’s foreknowledge.

    …Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along: and there is room for very little in each. That is what Time is like. And of course you and I tend to take it for granted that this Time series – this relationship of past, present and future – is not simply the way life comes to us but the way all things really exist. We tend to assume that the whole universe and God Himself are always moving on from past to future just as we do. But many learned men do not agree with that. It was the Theologians who first started the idea that some things are not in Time at all: later the Philosophers took it over: and now some of the scientists are doing the same.

    Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments follwing one another…

    [Illustrations and examples follow]

    …God is not hurried along in the Time-stream of this universe any more than an author is hurried along in the imaginary time of his own novel…

    …His life is not dribbled out moment by moment like ours: with Him it is, so to speak, still 1920 and already 1960. For His life is Himself.

    If you picture Time as a straight line upon which we have to travel, then you must picture God as the whole page on which the line is drawn. We come to the parts of the line one by one:[….] God, from above or outside or all around, contains the whole line and sees it all.

    The idea is worth trying to grasp because it removes some of the apparent difficulties in Christianity…

    …Another difficulty we get if we believe God to be in time is this. Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow. But if He knows that I am going to do so-and-so, how can I be free to do otherwise? Well, here once again, the difficulty comes from thinking that God is progressing along the time-line like us: the only difference being that He can see ahead and we cannot. Well, if that were true, if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them. But suppose God is outside and above the Time-line. In that case, what we call ‘to-morrow’ is visible to Him in just the same way as what we call ‘to-day’. All the days are ‘Now’ for Him. […] he doe not ‘foresee’ you doing things tomorrow; He simply sees you doing them: because, though tomorrow is not yet there for you, it is for Him. […] In a sense He does not know your action until you have done it: but then the moment at which you have done it is already ‘Now’ for Him.

    From CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book IV, Chapter 3. Time and Beyond Time

  217. Can’t help thinking, too, that if God is as described above, no wonder we can safely assume that prophecies that don’t come true are definitely not from God in the first place. There is no way that God would be able to be wrong about anything that happens in the future. Also, it makes sense of passages like Isaiah 53, which sound like an eyewitness account.

  218. A lot of these arguments are about certainty for pride sake.

    So we can say we understand God and paint everyone else in or out of our corner.

    It was what drove original sin in the first place – nothing changed.

    Tree of knowledge/good and evil – we are now filled with what we know.

    What a joke.

    And despite all hubristic certainty Jesus says there will be many surprises:

    When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    I don’t look to Spurgeon, the Pope, the Wesleys, John Calvin or Piper, Phi Pringle, Mark Driscoll, Todd Bentley, Billy Graham, James White or Brian Houston for my salvation.

    May be some wisdom can be gleaned from these, and may be not.

    I look to Christ alone.

  219. @mn – that goes without saying. I don’t look to any except Christ but this is a blog and we start discussions and different opinions jump on board. Admittedly I react strongly to certain things especially after our many years at C3.

    Whether we hold to one position or another, it’s paramount that all glory goes to Christ. I’ve never doubted FL/Newsong’s bottom-line commitment to Christian fundamentals. I found Greg’s position on Christ’s conception extremely troubling and I’m also troubled by TVD’s theology especially as he has said he is in a pulpit. We have seen too many people take baggage on board that surely is not biblical and robs them of a deep, rich in grace, relationship with their Saviour.

  220. MN – “I look to Christ alone”
    Teddy – “That goes without saying”

    I think those of us who are long time regulars do recognise the authenticity and passion of each other’s faith in Christ, even when we disagree strongly about some other issues. It’s one of the good things about the community here.

  221. @mn

    “I don’t look to Spurgeon, the Pope, the Wesleys, John Calvin or Piper, Phi Pringle, Mark Driscoll, Todd Bentley, Billy Graham, James White or Brian Houston for my salvation.

    May be some wisdom can be gleaned from these, and may be not.

    I look to Christ alone.”

    Amen!

  222. @RP

    “I’d prefer it if people who genuinely wanted to talk about stuff talked about it, with no attempts to bait or manipulate at all, and with basic respect for other points of view.”

    So would I RP. If you go back and look at the evolution of my commenting history you will see that I began very civilly, even after continued attacks from all sides I maintained my civility. However when I began to see the true colours of several of the posters, and especially since no-one else on SP02 was calling them for the abusive posturing, I decided enough was enough and I’d go for broke. I never attempted to manipulate, only to call them out on their hypocrisy.

    “That means we took things fairly seriously. So you are a little late to the table, if thinking about our beliefs is what you are attempting to get us to do. It shows a lack of understanding of the people here and a lack of respect for what we have individually gone through. ”

    On the contrary RP. I have been hovering on this site without commenting since way back when it was just Signposts and Lance was running it. I have read the same old arguments and discussions ad infinitum! Nothing and no-one has changed!

    I too look at things seriously, and I am in no way accusing anyone here of not doing that (apart from blah-blah and Mosco!). I also have gone through much of the stuff you guys have gone through. I can completely empathise. Only, I got over it, and I got over myself. I was willing to look at myself and my attitude and make the decision that I wasn’t going to allow my anger and hurt dictate to me how I viewed the church and how I viewed the body of Christ. I also made the decision that I was no longer going to allow belief systems that I had held so dear dictate to me how I viewed God. I was and am willing to throw out beliefs if it is shown to me through scripture that I am wrong. And I have done that several times. As I stated before, the tithe doctrine was one of those things. This time five years ago I would have been agreeing with you about the vengeful God of the Old Testament. But, because I am willing to let go of old beliefs, I am now able to interpret scripture by the character of God as I know Him now, not as i knew Him then. And my life is so much better for it. So, should I keep my mouth shut and watch as other people go through the same things I went through, or do I open my mouth and let them know there is another way, and that they no longer need to stay angry and bitter?

  223. @teddy

    “I’m also troubled by TVD’s theology especially as he has said he is in a pulpit.”

    With respect teddy, the only reason you say that is because I disagree with your view of God being a vengeful, can-turn-on-you-at-any-moment God. I have to admit teddy, I am truly confused. Why do you hold on so vehemently onto that view of God?

  224. @everyone: “I only look to Christ’.

    This is I agree with, and it is a good starting point, or default position, and a great sentiment, but we need to realise that…

    ‘He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…”

    …and if we only follow the sayings of Christ in the four gospels, were his earthly ministry is recorded, we will be short of a few key doctrines which we often quote, and which he revealed in scripture through the Spirit to key apostles like Paul, John, James, Peter, ministers like Luke and Jude, plus the references to the Torah which are examples to New Testament saints, key prophecies, some of which are fulfilled, others of which are yet to occur, important teachings which make up statutes and ordinances now written in our regenerated heart through the Spirit, historical evidence, contexts for Christ’s manifestation as the Son of Man, etc, etc, which remain relevant to our circumstances as long as we are in the earth.

    We may struggle with this, but Christ is still giving us ministries which are called to perform the tasks in Ephesians 4:11-16. It is evidence of his ascension, as is the Holy Spirit with us, in us and upon us. It is evidence that he is raised and yet lives.

    if we say we only need Christ, we are completely missing his continuing ministry through the Body to the body, and towards the evangelism of a fallen world.

    For this reason we need to be empowered to test every spirit whether it be of the Lord, and to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

    Abandoning Christ’s call on those he sends as five-fold ministry because some have been false or gone in to error, is detrimental to God’s purposes for our lives, and for the advancement of the kingdom.

    So we have to learn to grow up in and with what he has given us, and learn to get on, and keep our focus on Chris, yes, but not lose sight of the the way in which he choses to utilise his Body in the earth.

  225. @ tvd – I don’t hold to that view of God, I hold to the view that God is sovereign. You are the one calling Him vengeful.

  226. @MN – by default if your own words mean anything, you do look to the Pope a wee bit – unless of course its you that speaks ex-cathedra and he then follows suit!

  227. Teddy, when you use the word ‘sovereign’ to describe God, can you define it, because it seems so all encompassing, as if it totally proves your view of doctrine, and the character of God, and comes across in a rather dismissive way.

    I would say that my view of God is based on his sovereignty, but I don’t know that it would match up with yours. It is a word which needs definition in this discussion.

  228. I would like to point out, as a C S Lewis fan and someone who has that universal appeal to Christians of all stripes and his statement that RP posted about the INTERACTION of free will and God’s foreknowledge.

    Read that statement very carefully and see a universally renowned scholar’s attitude to the subject

    Now does it accord with the dopiness posited by Heretic vis the fact that we can meaningfully examine a question as philosophical and theological complicated as the interaction of free will and God’s foreknowledge by requiring as yes or no question about whether God forced you to drink a beer or light your farts?

    Im sorry but that is as juvenile and dumb as it gets -and if you partake in academia or ministry in any form or capacity Heretic you need to be thrown out of it…

    The record will clearly show – scroll back and see – I was actually having meaningful dialogue with Newsong (for a change) about this issue – he strongly objects – FINE – then for some reason Heretic got the impression that someone threw him a biscuit and he could come in with the crap:

    “Its a simple question” Can it [Calvinism] answer simple pragmatic questions. If not then any claim to answer complicated ones is irrelevant.”

    D U M B

    Now initially I was not rude and insulting to him – again the record will show it – and I merely wanted to set up a foundation for the discussion and I wanted to answer the question.

    What I got was the lowest form of argumentation – want proof nearby C S Lewis shows that quite nicely. That is what you get from athiests because they are not required to deal with Scripture, nor are they inclined to unless its about God killing Men, Women, and Children (yes TVD – God is on the record of doing so and you have to just FRIGGIN deal with it because being a “pastor” someone will bring it to your attention one day Im sure).

    Now because there is ample scripture (see my previous post) that sets up this dilemma of he interaction of human responsibilitiy/freedom of the will and Gods Absolute Sovergnty – what ever position you take – you cant just ignore it – you have to deal with it.

    Now where was the benevolent “just spoiling for a fight” MN? – why dont the same standards apply to likes Heretic – wheres the respect there? theres one set of standards for some and another for others?

    I really couldnt give a flying stuff whether I can nestle under the maternal armpit of RP or the condescending self-solicited transcendance of the benevolent MN and fit the nice Christian mould – you cant say someone is wrong – thats just spoiling for a fight right?

    You talk out of your rear end MN – you dont interact because you cant be consistent – and neither is your theology – you might fool some, some of the time but if Im kicked off in due course – you wont fool all – someone else will come along.

    everything to you is a pride issue – if you see a conversation thats a little too hot for your liking then PISS OFF and converse somewhere else – no one asked you for your supervisory imput as to whether the dialogue in this thread was in accord with the “fruits of the spirit” as if you are the standard bearer in regard to the same…

    You mate are the idiot

  229. If, in defining ‘sovereign’ you were to mean that God can do absolutely anything he wants to do at any time because he is God, then, to a degree, that would have to be true, because he is God, except for a few things, all written out in scripture for us…

    1. God is not a man that he should lie.
    2. God’s Word is established.
    3. God has elevated his Word even above his name.
    4. God has said he does nothing [in his interaction with men] without first revealing it through his sons the prophets.
    5. When God makes a promise he cannot break it, because he is the Truth.
    6. God has made covenants with men which he is determined to keep on his part.

    This tells us that, in his sovereignty, God has spoken and declared certain things, so, if he is true to his own Word, he will not, and, in fact, cannot, violate his own Word.

    God’s will and his Word cannot be separate. The Word is God, and God s Truth. God’s will is revealed through his Word.

    Therefore, God is limited, not in his omnipotence, omniscience, or omnipresence, but only by his own Being, outworked through his own Word.

    Unless he supersedes a Word with another Word countermanding the first, we can know what God will do in most given situations, and we can know the character and purpose of God in most things pertaining to life and godliness.

    In these things he remains sovereign, but governed in and by himself by his own Word.

  230. When I say God is limited, I mean in his self-disciplined interactions with those he is in covenant with by mutual consent.

    Now if men break covenant through sin or transgression, then they are subject to his mercy, or, if he purposes, to the hardening of their heart to be used as examples, or to be given over their own delusions.

  231. @Mosco

    “God is on the record of doing so and you have to just FRIGGIN deal with it because being a “pastor” someone will bring it to your attention one day Im sure”

    God never killed anyone. Ever. Show me every instance where you believe the bible says this and I will prove to you that He didn’t.

  232. Mosco, just for clarity, are you saying that you respect C S Lewis’s views on this subject (yes, of ‘INTERACTION of free will and foreknowledge’). Do you agree with it, do you disagree with it, or do you disagree but respect it?

  233. Who is the standard bearer then Mosco?

    You??

    As for Heretic – well neither he nor I are taking up most of the oxygen here – that is pretty plain.

    Do you have anything else to do?

    I certainly do which is why I don’t ‘interact’ often… because I have other things to do.

    As for simply saying that you think someone is wrong.

    C’mon Mosco that’s just underselling yourself a bit isn’t?

    You abuse the crap out of people…we all know it.

    As for spoiling for a fight?

    Well aren’t you?

    More than accurate I would say.

    I doubt I’ll ever find out, but I wonder if you carry on like this with people to their face.

  234. Thanks teddy.

    Firstly, notice that the expression “For His mercy endures forever” occurs 26 times in this chapter. How can we reconcile this statement with this one – “Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn”? How can God be both merciful and a killer? Jesus said a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. If God is the one saving people, how can He also be the one killing them? He can’t. So, there must be another explanation.

    The original account of this is in Exodus, where it talks of God instructing Moses to warn the Israelites that He is going to “smite” the Egyptians. In the account, God’s spirit goes throughout all of Egypt killing the first-born of everyone who didn’t sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial lamb on the doorposts and lintels. Pretty damning stuff, hey? It says it in black and white – God killed them. BUT, let’s look at the same account, but this time in Hebrews 11:28. “It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the ANGEL OF DEATH would not kill their firstborn sons.” Did you get that? The Angel of Death! Not God! And who is the Angel of Death? Satan! “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.” John 8:44.

    So, we can clearly see that it was not God who killed the Egyptians, but Satan, the Angel of Death. Now, I bet you are all saying that even if it was satan who killed the firstborn, God allowed it. So why do you think God warned Egypt to let the Israelites go, before it happened? So that they could avoid what God knew was going to happen to them. This same thing happens throughout scripture – Noah, Jonah and Ninevah, the Israelites in the wilderness, Lot and Sodom and Gomorra – God always warned of impending calamity before it happened.

  235. And also on this topic an honest answer from you Mosco with no BS would be refreshing. Lets’ see if you can do what you so often ask of others.

    Do you believe that the God of Romans 9 who hardened Pharoah’s heart can do so in such a way that Pharaoh’s will is not impinged on?

    Do you believe this or not?

    Yes or no?

  236. TVD: 2 Sam 6:7 The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

  237. Exodus 11:4 “Moses said, “Thus says the Lord, about midnight I am (think about that Name TVD) going out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn shall die ……….”

    God was, of course, involved in all previous plagues through whatever means He chose to use, but this time, to warrant personal attention, God stated that He Himself (emphatic personal pronoun used) would march throughout the land. NASB Study Bible.

    TVD – Monty Python’s black knight defending really bad eisegesis.

  238. If you delve a little deeper, there is contextual evidence to suggest the Angel of the Lord was the One (a Christophany) see also the burning bush with Moses and 2 Samuel 24:16 and Isaiah 37:36.

  239. @teddy

    “there is contextual evidence to suggest the Angel of the Lord was the One (a Christophany)”

    So now you’re saying Jesus is a killer too? Wow….just…wow.

  240. TVD, not sure how you get passed the concept of eternal judgment then.

    What do you think that is, and who implements/carries it out?

  241. “So now you’re saying Jesus is a killer too? Wow….just…wow.”

    Because, of course, Jesus is not God….

    – TVjakes, Jesus is the second person of the Godhead….. when we say God, YHWH, that means Jesus too

  242. Well, almost goodnight.

    I found this little piece offering a view on why God hardening Pharoah’s heart actually preserved Pharoah’s free will, and not the other way around as one would first think.

    What do you all think of this?

    Thus G-d was not confiscating Pharaoh’s free will or overruling his intellect. Indeed, as some of the commentaries explain, the effect of the plagues was that Pharaoh no longer had the instinctive desire to retain the Israelites as slaves. By hardening his heart, G-d actually reinstated Pharaoh’s original free will so that he did not feel compelled to free the Israelites. With his hardened heart, Pharaoh had the option of freely choosing between his intellect, which told him to free the Israelites, and his heart-based impulses, which pulled him in the opposite direction. Thus, ironically, the fact that G-d hardened Pharaoh’s heart did not deny him free will but rather reinstated it.

    From http://www.levibrackman.com/shemot-vaeira/did-god-overule-pharaohs-free-will/2.html

    Reading the whole article explains this view better of course.

  243. @mn

    The passage in 2 Samuel contains what is known as an idiom of permission. You will find that in every reference in the OT to God “smiting”, “killing”, or “striking” someone an idiom of permission is present, which basically means that it was allowed to happen, or to be more precise, God couldn’t stop it from happening. As any bible scholar will tell you, the writers of the OT didn’t know the character and nature of God. The Jews believed that everything good came from God and everything bad came from God (a bit like teddy!) They also only knew satan as the adversary, not as the father of lies, murderer, accuser etc. They had no idea that death was his domain. So they attributed death and destruction to God alone.

    So, why did Uzzah die? When God instructed Moses on the construction of the ark, He stated unequivocally that the ark must only ever be carried using poles. In this instance the ark was being carried on a cart pulled by oxen. So God’s express instruction was being broken. When we look at other instances in the OT where people were “smitten”, more often than not it was as a result of disobeying God’s commands (Pharaoh and the Egyptians, Sodom and Gomorra etc), but not before they were warned that they could avoid calamity if they obeyed God. You could easily surmise then that as a result of the command from God not to touch the ark, Uzzah’s disobedience removed him from God’s protection, thereby God “permitted” Uzzah’s death.

    It’s also interesting to note that there is no record of any of the Philistines dying after touching the ark. Sure, disaster befell The Philistines while they had the ark, but nowhere does it say that anyone died touching it. Just my own supposition here, but it’s interesting nonetheless.
    Another interesting thing to consider, because of the early Jweish writers’ lack of knowledge of the true character of God, it would be natural for them to assume that Uzzah’s death was a direct result of God’s wrath. For all we know, the oxen stumbling could have dislodged the ark causing it fall on Uzzah and crush him to death, but because of their belief that everything good came from God and everything bad came from God it would be a natural assumption for them that God killed him.

  244. James 1:13-15
    ‘Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.’

    God personally tempts no one. We can be tempted, and, if we yield to temptation, the fruit of our sin is death. Death has always been the bi-product of sin. Sin places us outside God’s will.

    But I don’t believe God teaches us through calamity under the New Covenant. I do think he has the right to make instant judgement, including death, if people wilfully sin and place themselves outside of his covenant. Annanias and Sapphira, for instance. Who struck them down? But they were not innocents.

    But I can’t see that it’s in his interests to kill innocents to teach others lessons. Babies don’t sin. The Holy Ghost and the Word are our teachers, not judgement.

    And we should be careful about applying OT judgements to the age of grace.

  245. Incidentally, God knew that Herod would kill all the children under 2 in Bethlehem once Jesus was born. It was actually prophesied, and it was a sign. Why didn’t God prevent it, since it was in his power to do so, and, if as Calvinism demands, he is able to rearrange the will of the perpetrators in advance.

    No, he knew Herod was capable of doing this, and allowed it, and the cry of Ramah went up to heaven. But it is not evidence of calvinistic preordination, but of the accuracy of Biblical prophecy. God foretells disasters as well as blessing.

    I think we are foolish if we attempt to put God in a Calvinist or Arminian box with these things, and claim one or the other was right. Neither had even been born when these things took place.

    Sadly, babies die even in our scientific, post-modern society because sin corrupted the world long ago, and it ain’t gonna be fixed until after Jesus comes again, in fact, it’s gonna get worse, and that is the fact of it. Sin, death, the grave, and the devil are enemies!

    Blaming God for every death is not helpful.

  246. RP I liked the Lewis quote.

    Anyway I’ve had enough (again).

    I don’t find a lot of this very helpful at all.

  247. @RP just quickly coz Im tired, I dont agree with alot of what Lewis said – he had some peculiar views – but he is very quotable and not someone you can dismiss because he is simply brilliant.

    I like this part “if God foresaw our acts, it would be very hard to understand how we could be free not to do them.” – this is precisely the philisopical prime mover behind open theisism which must retain libertarian free will at all costs or Dr William Lane Craig’s (brilliant guy) Molinism middle knowledge view to preserve libertarian free will.

    It also rightly shows how Arminians accordingly have a massive problem here in that the very idea of libertarian free will they believe they are faithfully preserving all starts to fragment at this juncture.

    like I said from the start open theists are consistent Arminians

  248. @RP – the Immanence/transcendence issue also need fleshing out a bit more but otherwise I generally like it

  249. BTW William Lane Craig didnt “invent” Molinism but unfortunately he is popularising it and breathing new life into its jesuit corpse

  250. Hmm – I don’t think I could become an open theist, because they seem to believe that the future is unknowable, and examples of fulfilled prophecy in the Bible seem to discredit that view to me.

  251. reading through TVD’s posts, it is obvious he is in “love” with the life we have in the flesh and this is why he cannot accept that God would take a life, cause sickness or do any of the other things admitted to in scripture.

    Sorry to burst your little pente bubble TVD but this flesh has to go. It is alluded to in 1 Corinthians as “corruption”
    Except a corn of wheat fall to the ground and die and all of that.

    Death is the ultimate healing.

    You’re so in love with all that this world has to offer that you’ve made the claim of never being sick, no pain in childbearing and other such outlandish gibberish that it is difficult to determine if you’re serious or are here for a “rev up” session.

    I suppose you experience no pain when you exercise and never get tired at the end of the day but instead choose to go to sleep of your own free will?

  252. I think there’s a lot in what Mel says. The Bible says as much about death as it does about life – including dying to self and dying to sin.

    The motto of the CCC movement is “Your best life”, but really it should be “Your best death”

  253. “A good name is better than a good ointment, And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.” Eccl 7:1

    Add that to the list of scriptures TVD must do a “semantic 3-step” to explain away.

  254. @Mel

    “he cannot accept that God would take a life, cause sickness”

    Absolutely! I say it again and with feeling – absolutely!

    Answer me this, because I really don’t understand – why do you WANT God to be so awful? Why are you so desperate for God to be a killer?

    It’s not rocket surgery Mel. It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that the same God who heals can’t make you sick, or the same God who gives us life also takes it away on a whim. Mate, take your head out of your religious tradition and out of your own personal experiences and discover the LOVING God. I’ll say it again – LOVING GOD!!!!! How can a LOVING GOD kill His children or make them sick? He can’t!

  255. Oops typo – should read “It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that the same God who heals can’t make you sick, or the same God who gives us life cannot also take it away on a whim.”

  256. @Mel

    “A good name is better than a good ointment, And the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.”

    Wow, then let’s build a theology on this one verse!

  257. I think it is rather revealing TVD that you apparently came here to “test the spirits” of certain posters (myself included?) and also you talked earlier about challenging mindsets.

    You’ve been shown here numerous times where your theology is flawed and you refuse to take the very advice that you wish to purport onto others.
    Hypocrisy TVD, that is what that is.

    Now where did I say God was unloving? I simply pointed out some home truths in your own version of scriptural reality and I have shown before how a loving Father “scourges” his sons in order to discipline them.

    Now… What is the single greatest sin mankind has ever committed? The worst atrocity known to this world?

    Well that is simple – that would be the false trial, humiliation and subsequent horrific death of a sinless man.

    Now – who had this act perpetrated? Who was behind it?
    Scripture tells us who was behind it:

    Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what YOUR power and WILL had DECIDED BEFOREHAND should happen…

    Acts 4:27-28

    Now if this greatest of sins was decided beforehand to happen, would lesser acts and sins be excluded?

    You may think I relish in such things but that is not true. I am simply accepting what God reveals about his nature. To do otherwise is to entertain delusion and deception as you seem to do.

    I await your answer oh venerable TVD.

  258. Now if your answer to my question TVD is along the lines of “there was a grand purpose in Christ suffering for us” then I would ask you this:
    Is there any less a “grand purpose” in your’s, mine or others suffering? Are you being “tried”, “tested” and “proved”? It doesn’t sound you are actually.

    Tell me TVD, does this scripture apply to you?

    Col 1:24 – Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

    Tell me TVD – are you “filling up in your flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions?”

  259. @Mel

    “You’ve been shown here numerous times where your theology is flawed”

    No-one has proven anything of the sort. All I get offered is half-baked theology based upon experience and opinion.

  260. @Mel

    “if your answer to my question TVD is along the lines of “there was a grand purpose in Christ suffering for us” then I would ask you this:
    Is there any less a “grand purpose” in your’s, mine or others suffering? Are you being “tried”, “tested” and “proved”? It doesn’t sound you are actually.”

    You are right. There was a grand purpose in Christ suffering for us. Why do you think he did it? And to answer your second question, no, there is no “grand purpose” in mine, yours or other people’s suffering. We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen to good people. God IS NOT responsible for any suffering, as much as you desperately desire Him to be. And, no, I am not being tested, tried and proved. But if I ever do, I can be assured that it is not God “pulling the trigger”.

    Mel, if you want to believe God is a murderer, go ahead. It’s no skin off my nose. Knock yourself out! Meanwhile, I’ll follow the God of the bible, the One who loves us unconditionally, who gave His life as a ransom for many, the One who tells us to choose life (Deut 30:19), the One who tells us that He came to give us life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10).

    “Tell me TVD, does this scripture apply to you?

    Col 1:24 – Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”

    No it doesn’t, because I am not the Apostle Paul in prison for preaching the gospel and suffering persecution for his belief in Christ.

  261. This article, “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Arminian” is worth a read. The author, Roger E. Olson, is the author of The Story of Christian Theology (InterVarsity Press, 1999).

    He describes growing up in a Pentecostal Holiness church, where he learned Arminian theology. He first went to Bible College where he learned many prejudices against Calvinists. Later, he studied theology at a seminary under many Reformed professors. His reaction:

    Even as I retained my Arminian beliefs, my evangelical mind expanded and deepened as I read Reformed theologians such as G. C. Berkouwer, Bernard Ramm, Donald Bloesch, J. I. Packer, and Francis Schaeffer. They showed me new dimensions of the doctrines of God and of salvation that had been missing or obscured in the Arminianism of my youth and early theological education: the mysterious, holy otherness of God; God’s majestic sovereignty over nature and history; humanity’s utter helplessness to achieve any goodness or even decide to accept the benefits of Christ’s suffering and death apart from grace.

    I have since learned that these themes are not absent from classical Arminian theology, but I had to learn them from Reformed evangelicals. I emerged from my theological studies convinced that my Arminian theology, though basically correct, lacked depth and that it could be enriched by the heritage of Reformed Christianity. I also emerged convinced that Reformed theology—especially in its most consistent forms—lacked the marvelous note of God’s universal love for his human creatures so evident in the best of my own Arminian tradition. I was convinced that the evangelical community needs both George Whitefield and John Wesley, and that their heirs need one another to achieve the beauty of balance.

    The article concludes with his thoughts on why some cannot help but be Arminians and others cannot help but be Calvinists, yet why they both need each other.

    I’m sure some here would disagree that we need each other, but its a pretty interesting read in my view. Those of us who’ve been in a few environments will probably relate to this in some fashion.

  262. Well I’ve heard enough of TVD to know the man is an abject heretic pure and simple with an ego so large that he can’t possibly learn anything from anyone here despite evidence to the contrary.

    This statement blows my mind:

    “…and, no, I am not being tested, tried and proved. But if I ever do, I can be assured that it is not God “pulling the trigger”…”

    Unbelievable. So you admit that you are not being tested, tried or proved? Well that has disqualified you to reign with Christ.

    2 Timothy 2:10-12 – Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory… If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

    Acts 14:22 – Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

    Your theology TVD means that many scriptures including these ones must be shaped semantically into your own belief system. That must be a perplexing state to exist in? Do tell.

    You are in a conundrum my friend and I don’t believe you know Jesus Christ. You are in love with “another Jesus”

  263. I see also that you couldn’t bring yourself to address the “guts” of my previous post TVD.

    Your immaturity in spiritual matters is mind-blowing.

    If ever there were an actual example of “women and children ruling” over God’s people (Isaiah 3:12) and “causing them to stray”, it is your posts on this forum and the fact that you are a career minister.

  264. @Mel

    2 Timothy 2:10-12 – Paul, suffering persecution for his beliefs and teaching

    Acts 14:22 – The disciples and the early church, suffering persecution for their beliefs and teachings

    “So you admit that you are not being tested, tried or proved?”

    Yep, sure do. Are you jealous perhaps? Maybe you feel you are being “tested”, and don’t think it’s fair that there are other believers out there who aren’t?

    Mate, just so you know also, I don’t give a rats whether you think I’m a heretic or not. It doesn’t keep me awake at night. I don’t live for your approval or any one else’s in fact. I know that God has made me righteous through His Son, and that’s all hte approval I need. But, if you want to keep coming up with hilarious “arguments” be my guest. It’s a bit of a quiet afternoon and I could do with a laugh!

  265. TVD, it would be better if you let Mosco, Mel or 5PS, whoever it is, go and not continue this tit-for-tat thing, because it blights an otherwise intelligent conversation on an important issue. One of you needs to show some maturity.

  266. From Pyromaniacs today….

    “If God knows every detail of the future with infallible certainty, then (by definition) the outcome of all things is already determined. And if things are predetermined but God did not ordain whatsoever comes to pass, then you have two choices:

    A higher sovereignty belongs to some being (or beings) other than God. That is idolatry.

    Some impersonal force did the determining. That is fatalism.

    Therefore if the thinking Arminian wants to avoid both fatalism and idolatry, he or she must deny God’s foreknowledge, thereby nullifying God’s omnscience—in other words, they essentially undeify God. That is of course blasphemy. But that is precisely the road Open Theism takes.”

  267. No I am not jealous TVD. I feel despair that a man of the cloth such as you takes such a casual approach to the scriptures.

    I may not keep you up at night but people like you do keep me up at night and I often lament the state of affairs that the church-world is in.

    I do however take great comfort in the fact that Christ will one day appear and rule this world outwardly and that folks such as yourself will finally learn the errors of your arrogant and haughty ways.

    I think NS is correct, I’ll happily exit stage left now and leave TVD to his apparent sport and antics on here.

  268. @Newsong

    I know what you are saying and I agree to a certain extent. But I also believe that much of what he says, while wrapped in offensive language and posturing, is what many others in the body of Christ believe. It is therefore beholden upon any teacher of the gospel to address questions and accusations against the character of God in the hope that by pointing them in the right direction they may discover the truth for themselves. Besides, it’s something to do on a wet Tuesday!

  269. @Mel Gibson – TVD makes a Mormon look orthodox! and sadly most mormon missionaries would have a better grasp of the flow of redemptive history in scripture than TVD – I am serious – despite their own heretical views, they can generally correctly summarise the major themes of the Old and New Testaments when challenged.

    as well meaning as he is, he is frighteningly ignorant about Christianity and he purports to teach people the scriptures?….

  270. Teddy, the quote from CS Lewis that I gave above relates to one alternative view where God can infallibly foreknow without necessarily determining the outcome. (ie: there is a third choice – and there may even be a fourth or fifth choice.)

    Right or wrong, this does show that it is therefore possible to have an Arminian stance without nullifying God’s omniscience, and without becoming an open Theist.

  271. Of course it also shows that you can have a spectrum of views somewhere on the spectrum of Calvinism Arminianism.

  272. Agreed 5PS…

    I am baffled at TVD’s apparent disinterest in anything that goes against his “feel good” gospel.
    If it doesn’t meet his no pain criteria, it’s tossed aside as “That was the apostle Paul…”, “That was Christ, it’s not me…”, “That’s Paul’s letter to Timothy, it’s not me…”

    Couldn’t anyone therefore say something like the following:

    The bible doesn’t apply to me. I’m not Jewish and I’ve never attended a church in Corinth, Phillipe, Galatia, Rome, Ephesus etc.
    I never met Jesus personally, I certainly had nothing to do with his death and I never saw him resurrected and nor did anyone I know. I can’t read ancient Greek or Hebrew so why should I bother with an English translation? I was never Paul’s disciple so his letters to Timothy, Philemon and others have no personal relevance to me. I was also never Peter’s disciple or John’s or Jame’s so the same applies there.

    In other words, if it’s all simply a matter of “application” by means of physically being present, it doesn’t apply to anyone.

  273. I’ll be reading some of TVD’s posts out in a bible study on the weekend to illustrate the foolishness of his approach.

    I’ll then ask people whether they have personally/physically met Paul, Timothy, Jesus, King David, Moses etc.

    Of course, nobody is going to answer that they have so I’ll direct them to attend TVD’s church if they want an experience in “gospel-lite” and where the flesh is allowed to dictate the application of scripture.

    It should be interesting.

  274. Perhaps we should get TVD to give his interpretation of certain passages, this could be interesting. Surprise us TVD………

    Jeremiah 29:11. John 10:10. Revelation 3:20. Matthew 22:36-40. Proverbs 29:18.

    Of course these are the most well-known verses generally mishandled in certain churches which shall remain nameless.

  275. TVD’s approach:

    Romans 13:13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

    Doesn’t apply to me. I’ve never attended a church in Rome and Paul wasn’t writing specifically to me.

    1 Corinthians 10:8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did–and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.

    Doesn’t apply to me. I’ve never attended a church in Corinth and again, Paul never address me specifically in this book.

    Ephesians 5:3
    But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.

    Nothing to do with me. Never attended a church in Ephesus and Paul never once addresses me in this book but rather “the saints in Ephesus”

    Conclusion? I’ll bang whoever I want.

  276. @Mel

    An invalid and shallow argument I’m afraid. Much of what was written by Paul to the early church doesn’t apply to us. Each letter was written for a specific purpose and with a specific message for that church at that time. Sure, we can learn much from his letters, but we cannot take on board everything that Paul wrote because he was writing to a specific bunch of people experiencing specific things at a specific time. It’s called historical context.

    Let me ask you – do you really believe that we must be physically crucified on a cross just like Jesus was? Does the Law of the Old Testament apply to us? Because that’s basically what you are saying

  277. @teddy

    “Perhaps we should get TVD to give his interpretation of certain passages, this could be interesting. Surprise us TVD………

    Jeremiah 29:11. John 10:10. Revelation 3:20. Matthew 22:36-40. Proverbs 29:18.

    Of course these are the most well-known verses generally mishandled in certain churches which shall remain nameless.”

    Let me throw the question back at you. What’s your interpretation? I’d be very interested to see how such a celebrated biblical scholar as yourself can prove 2000 years of biblical scholarship out the window.

  278. Maybe I shouldn’t but I find it reprehensible that while God has preserved Paul’s letters down through the ages, here is TVD saying the following:

    An invalid and shallow argument I’m afraid. Much of what was written by Paul to the early church doesn’t apply to us.

    And you are a pastor?

    So God had this book compiled from men across the vast expanse of 4000 years of time and culture for you to sit here like an arrogant prick and say “much of what was written doesn’t apply”???

    And you are a pastor?

  279. @Mel

    “you’re here for sport rather than to learn from a low-life pos like me.”

    I’m not here for sport. Never was. I was certainly having a bit of fun at your expense along the way, but I am also interested in good, honest debate. Problem is most of the stuff coming from yours, 5PS and teddy’s keyboards is so unbelievably ignorant that I can’t help but respond! Maybe I should give up, because you all are so in love with the idea of suffering and serving a killer god that you cannot see any other possibility.

  280. @Mel

    Re-read what I wrote. I did not say ALL, I said MUCH. Any biblical scholar would certainly agree that there is much within the Old and New Testaments that doesn’t apply to us. Many of Paul’s exhortations to the churches certainly apply, many don’t.

  281. Much would signify the majority would it not?

    Main Entry: much
    Part of Speech: adjective
    Definition: plenty
    Synonyms:
    a lot of, abundant, adequate, ample, complete, considerable, copious, countless, endless, enough, everywhere, extravagant, full, galore, generous, great, heaps, immeasurable, jam-packed, lavish, loads, lotsa, many, mega, mucho, no end, plenteous, plentiful, profuse, satisfying, scads, sizable, substantial, sufficient, very many, voluminous
    Notes: many means being one of a large indefinite number, while much means great in quantity, degree, or extent

    Antonyms: little

    Was it a poor choice of words on your behalf or do you believe what you wrote?

  282. This thread has become very long. Almost no one would bother reading it from start to finish. I could edit out all the comments that contain only abuse or comment regarding other people’s motivations, leaving only those relevant to the topic. It is getting tempting…

  283. @RP

    “I could edit out all the comments that contain only abuse or comment regarding other people’s motivations, leaving only those relevant to the topic. It is getting tempting…”

    Not a bad idea! Go for it!

  284. Censorship would not suit this blog – it’s more a case of “if you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen”.

    TVD’s posts are all too revealing in regards to shonky theology so perhaps he would like to see those disappear.

  285. Perhaps so (re censorship). It would take a long time – there are so many comments to remove. And the thread might end up quite short.

  286. @teddy

    “TVD’s posts are all too revealing in regards to shonky theology so perhaps he would like to see those disappear.”

    By whose standards is it “shonky theology”? Yours? This from someone who believes God kills His children for some divine purpose?

    @RP

    I don’t necessarily believe that this or any other thread on SP02 needs to be censored, unless of course the language is way too foul or if there is something defamatory. This particular thread, while containing fairly passionate debate, is not in any need of censorship. However, I agree that it is a very long thread, and if others here are like me, it’s just too hard to devote huge amounts of time reading through an entire thread like this. Anyway, your choice.

  287. @Mel

    “Much would signify the majority would it not?”

    That’s a fair call. Rather then “much” then, I’ll substitute it with the term “some”.

  288. A great link Teddy.

    Truly, God’s power in manifest in our weakness. Something TVD in his arrogance will not understand until it is too late.

    We must “lose our lives” to truly find them, mind-blowing stuff that.

  289. Those sort of articles by people who have suffered are always good to read. I think this is a key point:

    “…sometimes we are faithful and do exactly what God wants us to do and we get mauled by lions and overrun by armies. ”

    He can keep us out of trouble, or reduce our trouble, in his mercy, but we will all suffer at some time(s) while we are here to some degree. It’s good not to blame ourselves for those things that are beyond our control, and to recognise God’s redemptive plan that continues even through and beyond suffering. (Though we may not always appreciate being reminded of that at the time – said in the wrong way, by the wrong person, or at the wrong time this could seem very trite.)

    The role of his community in supporting him and how appreciative he is of that is worth noting too.

  290. To be honest, I’d like you to explain what you mean by God’s ‘sovereignty’ in this. It seems such an abstract, yet all-encompassing term for an intense situation.

    I have been knocking on this door for a few comments now, and I’m still not sure what you mean by ‘sovereignty’ here. It is one of those terms which can take on multiple applications depending on the user. can you better define ‘sovereignty’ the light of your claims?

    Do you mean that God actively and purposely put this on the victim to train him, teach him, or grab his attention for a specific task or reason?

    Is this the way Christians should expect to be taught as God’s children? Is he the kind of Father who uses adversity on purpose to teach us?

    What part has the Word of God and Spirit of God with us in teaching us and training us in his will and ways?

    What part had the fallen world in this situation with all of its corruption through sin?

    I understand that God’s strength is enhanced in our lives when we suffer or go through adversity, but…

    a) does he deliberately and premeditedly invoke the suffering?
    b) is the suffering persecution for the preaching the gospel, or…
    c) the every day circumstances of ill chance which can happen to anyone?

  291. Maybe there is also

    d)we suffer as a result of physically living in a fallen world, and God forsees and permits our suffering at times; he can also sovereignly choose to spare us, and he will always work it for good.

  292. I was doing the garden this afternoon and I was troubled with my continual burden for the church and the current state it is in. My mind showed me the benefits of Calvinism and Arminianism:

    1. If I believe in a sovereign God, I can cast my worries on him and not care about the state of the church. I can find rest. I also get to rest in His faith.

    2. If I believe in a God who is involved in my life on a much more relational level, His love manifests in me to do things I wont usually do. People may see that I am determined as I’m motivated by His Spirit but…

    Exhaustion is inevitable. Are we to switch head-camps to remain spiritually relevant and healthy?

  293. @ NewSong – thinking about the last few years, we now walk down a road that we won’t call Calvinism, we really prefer to see it as trusting God’s total sovereignty in all things. We don’t look back except in astonishment at what we took blindly on board (please take this for what it is – our journey) – anyway have a look at this…

    http://bible.org/seriespage/sovereignty-god-history

  294. By the way – I’ve decided to moderate this thread from this point forward. Moderation will consist of me reading comments when I get around to it, and deleting them or parts of them if I think they insult or belittle other people.

    The line will be drawn at my sovereign discretion. Disagreeing on its own is fine. Previous insults on this thread will be left alone. The purpose is to keep the thread civil and enable discussion to take place without the distraction of open warfare.

  295. @ Specks – this linked on Phoenix Preacher today…

    Hyper-Calvinism and Hyper-Arminianism: Equal and Opposite Errors

    1 Thess 1:5 “… our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power..”

    The “but also” is an and, not an or.

    The gospel is a word, a message, an item of news about something that happened. It comes in word. It comes as more than word, but certainly not less.

    The gospel comes in word and takes hold of some in power, by the grace of God through the power of the Spirit.

    The Church historically has fallen for equal and opposite errors in regard to the gospel and its power.

    Some know the gospel is word but don’t think it’s power, so we try hard to manipulate people to make decisions. Thus additional verses of “Just As I Am,” emotional pleas for raised hands, impulse-tugging scare tactics. We believe someone’s decision for Christ hinges on our effectiveness in the invitation.

    Some know the gospel is power and so become stingy with the gospel as word, so they abdicate responsibility to share the word. They figure since election is true, God will take care of saving people apart from mission.

    Both overreactions are wrong; both ignore Scripture and even disobey it. The gospel comes in word and power. Let’s be faithful in our role and trust God to be faithful in his.

  296. Oh gosh – I don’t know! Surely that is impossible anyway. What one person regards as proof, another will either not grasp or just dismiss if they don’t like it. Anyway, while I believe we have a logical faith, faith is still required, which is not arrived at by proof alone. I am open to correction here.

  297. So, essentially, sovereignty is summed up as: ‘To be sovereign is to possess supreme power and authority so that one is in complete control and can accomplish whatever he pleases’.

    Does this include overriding anything he says by covenant, promise or swearing by his own name?

  298. I will hold to the relational aspect to God. May I remain on His swing and may he push me forwards and backwards into his sovereignty and into his intimacy.

    I’ve loved Him when it was only Him that I was holding onto and I’ve loved Him when I’ve been involved doing His work. There’s a freedom being completely secure in Him and free-falling with Him by your side.

    Can’t there be a beautiful mystery to this side of God rather than being a definite answer? I’m sure husbands and wives have never figured out there other 100% – it’s what makes the relationship richer. Why can’t we do that with God?

  299. @Newsong

    “Does this include overriding anything he says by covenant, promise or swearing by his own name?”

    No

    God is immutable in his essence. His nature and being are infinite, and so, subject to no mutations. There never was a time when He was not; there never will come a time when He shall cease to be. God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved. All that He is today, He has ever been, and ever will be.

    Therefore in the transcendent sense, whatever the attributes of God were before the universe was called into existence, they are precisely the same now, and will remain so for ever. The purpose the covenant relationship is to emphasis his immanence. Within the Old Testament, it is precisely the very immanent actions of God that reveal the character of His transcendence.

    In initiating the covenant relationship and acting within it – what then does such an immanent action reveal about the transcendent God? (Keeping in mind that for God to be transcendent does not mean that there are certain aspects of His being that are distinct from those aspects of His being that allow Him to be immanent) – This needs to be approached within the context of the nature of God as revealed within the biblical narrative.

    In this regard, God, in initiating the covenant and acting within it, manifested that He possessed, among others, a characteristic that set Him apart as God – that He is All Holy. In terms of covenant therefore
    God sanctified the Israelites for they were covenanted to Him as the All Holy God.

    “God’s holiness distinguished Him (the root of the Semitic word “holiness” means “to cut off”) from all that was profane and sinful. Even when the Israelites defiled themselves by sin and infidelity, God Himself was not defiled. Rather it is specifically because He is the transcendent (the “cut-off”) Holy One, and so incapable of being defiled, that He could restore them to holiness.” (Thomas G. Weinandy: Does God Suffer?)

  300. @5PS

    Sorry, but that’s just a lot of waffle. The question was “Does this include overriding anything he says by covenant, promise or swearing by his own name?” You have in no way answered that. You simply confirmed that God has made covenants, but not addressed what He actually SAID in His covenants.

    Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..”

    Jeremiah 32:40-41 “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear (reverence) in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’”

    2 Cor 1:20 “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. ”

    Deut.7:9″Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”

    Isaiah 54:10 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be moved, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.”

    Jeremiah 31:3 ” I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

    Psalm 121:7, 8 “The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

    Proverbs 1:33 “But whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm”

  301. @TVD – and the answer I gave (NO) would naturally include everything “said” in those covenants – just because you dont “understand” the answer I gave and the language used, doesnt make it “waffle”.

    You are trying to instruct me on what a covenant is and what the particular devine covenants “say” yet you fail to appreciate that there are various forms of the Covenant by which you cant point to a single verse, in this regard, yet you have not mentioned:

    1 The Covenant of Works in Genesis
    (Gen. 1:28–30; 2:15; 2:16–17; Hosea 6:7; Romans 5:12–21 (Paul sees both Adam and Christ as heads of a people whom they represent, something that would be entirely consistent with the idea of Adam being in a covenant before the fall)).

    The actual word covenant is not used in the Genesis narratives. However, the essential parts of the covenant are all there—a clear definition of the parties involved, a legally binding set of provisions that stipulates the conditions of their relationship, the promise of blessings for obedience, and the condition for obtaining those blessings.

    2 The Covenant of Redemption
    (John 17:2, 6), (John 3:16; Rom. 5:18–19), (Col. 2:9; Heb. 10:5),(Heb. 9:24), (Matt. 28:18), (Acts 1:4; 2:33)……..

    a covenant that is not between God and man, but is among the members of the Trinity (as non essential as the Trinity is!!). Its an agreement among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in which the Son agreed to become a man, be our representative, obey the demands of the covenant of works on our behalf, and pay the penalty for sin, which we deserved.

    But there is No specific proof text for TVD!!! Does Scripture teach its existence? Yes, for it speaks about a specific plan and purpose of God that was agreed upon by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in order to gain our redemption.

    3. The Covenant of Grace

    When man failed to obtain the blessing offered in the covenant of works, it was necessary for God to establish another means, one by which man could be saved. THE REST OF SCRIPTURE after the story of the fall in Genesis 3 is the story of God working out in history the amazing plan of redemption whereby sinful people could come into fellowship with himself.

    4. a real obvious one you missed (Dooh!) – the covenant with ABRAHAM (Gen. 15:1–21; 17:1–27),

    4. The Davidic Covenant

    5. The old v New Covenant
    the “old covenant” in contrast with the “new covenant” in Christ? It is not the whole of the Old Testament because the covenants with Abraham and David are never called “old” in the New Testament. Rather, only the covenant under Moses the covenant made at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19–24) is called the “old covenant” (2 Cor. 3:14; cf. Heb. 8:6, 13), to be replaced by the “new covenant” in Christ (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24).

    Nice try tho!!!

  302. @TVD You dont seem to have any idea how to properly explain what a Divine Covenant actually is and yet you say Im waffling!!!

  303. @ teddy: ‘ask God’…

    Is that it, teddy? After all that full-frontal attack on people who are of the understanding that God places his Word above his Name, so that, indeed, he is accountable to his own will, you say, ‘ask God’.

    Well, I am and have been asking God, as I read and study the Word, and relate to the Holy Spirit, asking him to show me how it all works. I live my life this way.

    The thing is, I can’t see it working, in the Word, especially measured against the revealed character of God, the way you seem to be proposing.

    So, before, I comment further, in case I am misunderstanding you, I am asking you to tell me what your definition is so that I can better understand what you are saying in regard to this important issue.

    You have given a few people, especially TVD, a very hard time because of their understanding of the character of God, even saying they are not fit to lead churches.

    Yet you are not prepared to say what you personally understand as your definition of what the sovereignty of God is, balanced against what he said in his Word.

    I only ask this of you because you have used the phrase several times to sign off on the point ypu have been making – ‘it’s the sovereignty of God’ – but you have not defined whether this sovereignty is all-encompassing, or if God will actually limit himself, in his interaction with people, to the Word he has spoken to them, or if he will break his own Word at times.

  304. @ Mosco, what you wrote after your conclusion, ‘No’, I can essentially concur with, but could also precede it with ‘Yes’, and it would be equally potent, and just as relevant. In other words, you didn’t really answer the question, except to have your own world view portrayed in the negative comment preceding your homily. You saw it from a Calvinist perspective.

    Yet, God reveals his nature in his interaction with people in his own words, covenants and promises, the chief of which came when he asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and accorded Abraham’s willingness to obey with a substitute sacrifice, a type of the crucified Christ, and immutable promises, which only he could swear to, being the highest authority in heaven.

    Hebrews 6
    16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.
    17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,
    18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.
    19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil,
    20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

    If it is impossible for God to lie, and he makes immutable oaths to men, then he has limited himself to his own will in regard to his relationship with them. He is in no way subservient to men, but to his own Word.

    It is this Word which is our greatest assurance that he will do what he has said he will do. It is the basis of faith – trust in the fact that God is true to his own word.

    If he breaks his own word to men, he is a liar, and not God.

  305. God is true to His Word and His Word clearly displays His sovereignty over all things. You and I simply see it differently.

  306. @teddy. Thanks for that! It helps. Yes, I think we see it differently. Hopefully, not so that we are enemies, but co-learners!

    I am also of the same opinion, that he reveals his sovereignty through his Word. He is always in command. He is never wrong. What he says will come to pass. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This alone speaks of sovereign rule. All authority in heaven and earth has been given to his Son, Jesus. This could only be because the Father is over all, in all and through all. God’s sovereignty, might ad power are all over the Word.

    Where, I think, we differ, is in our understanding of whether God is able to limit his own interaction with men by swearing by himself, specifically involving two immutable promises to Abraham and his descendants, being: ‘Blessing I will bless, and Multiplying I will multiply”.

    Part of this promise includes blessing all of the families [nations] of the earth in Abraham’s Seed, who is Christ.

    So now, rom my perspective, at least, we have to define how he blesses in Christ, and how he multiplies.

  307. @Newsong – Ok, understood

    but Ill go back a few steps earlier to what I said before, whether it is sovereignty, immutability impassability, Holiness, whatever the case – it needs to be approached within the context of the nature of God as revealed within the biblical narrative.

    The sovereignty of God all things are under His rule and control, and that nothing happens in this Universe without His direction or permission. He is a God Who works, not just some things, but all things after the counsel of His own will (see Eph. 1:11). God’s purpose is all- inclusive and is never thwarted (see Isa. 46:11). Nothing Takes Him by Surprise

    God is sovereign over the entire universe: Ps 103:19; Rom 8:28; Eph 1:11
    God is sovereign over all of nature: Ps 135:6-7; Mt 5:45; 6:25-30
    God is sovereign over angels & Satan: Ps 103:20-21; Job 1:12
    God is sovereign over nations: Ps 47:7-9; Dan 2:20-21; 4:34-35
    God is sovereign over human beings: 1 Sam 2:6-7; Gal 1:15-16
    God is sovereign over animals: Ps 104:21-30; 1 Ki 17:4-6
    God is sovereign over “accidents”: Pr 16:33; Jon 1:7; Mt 10:29
    God is sovereign over free acts of men: Ex 3:21; 12:25-36; Ez 7:27
    God is sovereign over sinful acts of men and Satan: 2 Sam 24:1; 1 Chr 21:1; Gen 45:5; 50:20

    Ill

  308. That’s my understanding of His sovereignty.

    He does not break his word to us, either. Sometimes I think we misunderstand or misapply His word though. One obvious example which has caused lots of arguments between bible believing Christians would be “By His stripes we are healed.”

  309. @Newsong

    “In other words, you didn’t really answer the question, except to have your own world view portrayed in the negative comment preceding your homily. You saw it from a Calvinist perspective.”

    I can understand that if you just said that I didn’t answer the question for X reason… – I don’t think anyone can in 500 words – I think it was a good start and was looking forward to more interaction.

    But the continual “You saw it from a Calvinist perspective” as a defence mechanism so that you don’t have to interact further becomes rather transparent, as you consistently do it when I attempt to interact with you – furthermore – that’s point of this thread isn’t it!!! of course I see things from the Calvinist perspective, what you have to do is show how that perspective is inconsistent with what is revealed in scripture… that’s the whole point of having this thread!!!

    When the merits of Calvinism are being examined and weighed against Arminianism or pelagianism etc, by giving just that answer, what you are doing is committing the logical fallacy Begging the Question the proposition to be proved is assumed in your main premise – i.e. “the question posited cannot be answered from a Calvinist perspective therefore you are wrong because you saw it from a Calvinist perspective”

    You are just being extremely ignorant by doing that..

    But the reality is – my response wasn’t from a Calvinist perspective at all – but I know that you don’t know much about Calvinism apart from the nuts and bolts (I just wish you didn’t act otherwise)

    – Ravi Zacharias is one of the most brilliant Arminian Christian Philosophers around (who I absolutely love listening to) – you could not show me anywhere from his speeches or writings where he would suggest that the doctrine of imminence/transcendence is a Calvanistic doctrine! – and I simply included how the covenant relationship fits in with those doctrines (briefly).

    If I wrote purely from a “Calvinist perspective” are you therefore saying that classic Arminian theology does not accept the said understanding of the interaction of divine imminence/transcendence???

    You even went so far as to confirm what I was saying in part! “Yet, God reveals his nature in his interaction with people in his own words, covenants and promises” – that was my point – these are scriptual evidences of a Transcendent being who is also immanent! And again for God to be transcendent DOES NOT MEAN that there are certain aspects of His being that are distinct from those aspects of His being that allow Him to be immanent – can you see slightly that my point is that GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY IS TRANSCENDENT!!!, beyond our complete comprehension (Isaiah 6:1). God is separate from His creation and works in ways that human beings do not always understand.

  310. I do not understand how the concept of God’s immanence and transcendence cause any problem for an Arminian perspective. Admittedly my understanding is probably shallow, but I can’t see the problem here. And these are quite wonderful and reassuring concepts.

    God being in and through all things, as well as unchanging, beyond even time itself, has wonderful consequences for our ability to pray and know we are heard, and answered. I get the impression that some scholars find these concepts contradictory but I don’t think they are.

  311. I think you misunderstood me, Mosco.

    In fact, I said I agreed with most of what you said, apart from the ‘No’ part! If I had your writing ability I could say the same and precede it with a yes.

    Anyway, I’ll accept that saying you viewed things from a Calvinist perspective was obvious, but, nevertheless, it seemed to me that the rest of the comment was rather general, and not anything I would not agree with.

    I may not understand much about Calvinism, that’s true, but surely that’s another reason for this thread.

    God is surely immanent and transcendent, but in his grace and mercy he has chosen to come down and dwell amongst us as one of us. That is what makes our relationship so exciting and inviting.

    Philippians 2:5-8
    Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

    How does this line up with God’s sovereignty? In humbling himself as a man, being obedient to his own Word, and surrendering to death, did he subordinate himself in any way? And why?

  312. @RP – no your right it doesnt cause any problem for either Calvinists or Arminians

    Newsongs question “Does this [sovereignty] include overriding anything he says by covenant, promise or swearing by his own name?”

    I think the attribute of God reveals to mankind in scripture called immutability means we can derive clearly from scripture which is our ultimate authority and makes the answer to the question axiomaticly a resounding NO

    like i said – God is immutable in his essence. His nature and being are infinite, and so, subject to no mutations. There never was a time when He was not; there never will come a time when He shall cease to be. God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved. All that He is today, He has ever been, and ever will be.

  313. Agreed, because he would never swear to any oath he could not keep. He sees the end from the beginning, calls those things which be not into existence. he is the Word, and His Word is Absolute Truth.

    Therefore he is not threatened by permitting us to enter into a level of sub-rulership in our own affairs which demonstrate his sovereignty over us, in that he sets boundaries, and if we go beyond them he has also set consequences.

    He is capable of allowing some interaction which is influenced by circumstance, cause and effect. He is also able to permit us a will which involves rational thought outside of his direct influence, with the resultant outcome, including multiple choices, established by his will.

    All of this, though, takes place within established perimeters.

  314. @Newsong

    “God is surely immanent and transcendent, but in his grace and mercy he has chosen to come down and dwell amongst us as one of us. That is what makes our relationship so exciting and inviting.”

    What you said there is the consumate and absolute definition of immanence “but in his grace and mercy he has chosen to come down and dwell amongst us as one of us. That is what makes our relationship so exciting and inviting.” – divine being or essence manifests in and through all aspects of the material world.

    Compare to Islam – an absolute extreme example of transcendence -i.e. Allah is completely outside of and beyond the world totally and utterly disconnected with his creation, as contrasted with the notion that God is manifested in the world i.e. our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – the mystery of divine personality…

    Phillipians 2:5-8 is by all means an expansive demonstration of divine sovereignty and is part of the the Covenant of Redemption in the counsel of the Trinity before the foundation of the world – see also among others,(John 17:2, 6), (John 3:16; Rom. 5:18–19), (Col. 2:9; Heb. 10:5),(Heb. 9:24), (Matt. 28:18), (Acts 1:4; 2:33)……..

    This is a covenant that is not between God and man, but is among the members of the Trinity. Its an agreement among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in which the Son agreed to become a man, be our representative, obey the demands of the covenant of works on our behalf, and pay the penalty for sin, which we deserved. Simply Awsome…

    This is one good reason that the doctrine of the Trinity may be important to Christianity (for TVD’s benefit)

  315. @Newsong – what do you think of this:

    “If God knows every detail of the future with infallible certainty, then (by definition) the outcome of all things is already determined. And if things are predetermined but God did not ordain whatsoever comes to pass, then you have two choices:

    1. A higher sovereignty belongs to some being (or beings) other than God. That is idolatry.

    2. Some impersonal force did the determining. That is fatalism.

    Therefore if the thinking Arminian wants to avoid both fatalism and idolatry, he or she must deny God’s foreknowledge, thereby nullifying God’s omnscience—in other words, they essentially undeify God. That is of course blasphemy. But that is precisely the road Open Theism takes.”

    You cant serve two masters ….

  316. According to the Lewis’ quote above, and others who have written on the subject, there is no need to take only one of those two choices. There is at least one more option, and it does not involve Open Theism. But over to Newsong.

  317. @RP – Not necessarily – Lewis was probably (though not certainly) classic Arminian but he did affirm the Omniscience of God i.e. he also wrote im Mere Christianity, “Everyone who believes in God at all believes that He knows what you and I are going to do tomorrow.” (Mere Christianity p148)

  318. Our problem really is that we are not the omniscient narrators of our journeys, or we would not even have conversations like this.

  319. @Mosco,

    ‘1. A higher sovereignty belongs to some being (or beings) other than God. That is idolatry.

    2. Some impersonal force did the determining. That is fatalism.’

    You, or your source, only gave two options, based on his own Calvinistic idea of Arminianism [apologies for bringing up this point, but it’s true], when there are surely more options. Then he uses his own limited argument to demonstrate his point. I think I already identified this as a strawman.

    The assumption made is that God knows every detail beforehand, and leaves no opportunity for random outcomes based on defined beginnings, interspersed with preconceived interventions.

    When God says in the beginning light be, he releases the power of divine light, or life, into the universe, and it obeys, causing his purposes to explode into being. He speaks into being kinds of all of nature, which multiply after their kinds. They are randomly dispersed throughout the earth, adapting to circumstances and changes through the genetic material contained within.

    Separately, he creates man of the atoms of the earth, woman of the man, and brings man woman together in a holy union to procreate, and the power of multiplication is begun. The only of his creation with a governing control, or law, because the only of his creatures wired with thought independent of instinct and capable of worship through obedience.

    All of science speaks of random order in all things.

  320. @ Newsong – “You, or your source, only gave two options, based on his own Calvinistic idea of Arminianism [apologies for bringing up this point, but it’s true], when there are surely more options. Then he uses his own limited argument to demonstrate his point. I think I already identified this as a strawman.”

    You have to use the same strawman “limited argument”, as a classic Arminian. That’s why this discussion has been unresolved since Jacob Arminius (now Pelagious that’s another story).

    But how much is there that we agree on?

  321. @Newsong

    “The assumption made is that God knows every detail beforehand, and leaves no opportunity for random outcomes based on defined beginnings, interspersed with preconceived interventions.”

    Again, this statement is “precisely the road Open Theism takes” Open theists deny that God knows the future “exhaustively” because the classical view of God’s foreknowledge is simply inconsistent with human freedom in the libertarian sense.

    “On this view, the future is of such a nature that it CANNOT be known exhaustively. So open theists claim that on their view God is indeed omniscient, in the sense that he knows everything that CAN be known.

    That he lacks exhaustive knowledge of the future is no more of a limitation than his inability to make a square circle. Just as his omnipotence enables him to do everything that can be done, so his omniscience enables him to know everything that can be known. That includes knowledge of the past and present, but not the future, so open theists name their view presentism.”

  322. @Mosco

    In fact the idea that God is manipulating everything at all times everywhere, limits his omnipotence, since it is like a watchmaker creating a watch inside which he has to continually manually move every part at a precise time, rather than set up a mechanism which accurately tells time without any interference. The only time the true watchmaker would intervene would be when the watch stops, or goes out of kilter, or needs repairs. Otherwise a well constructed watch runs itself.

    The concept that God has to have his hand on absolutely everything diminishes his deity. he sees and knows all things, but he doesn’t have to manipulate all things – Omnimanipulative!

    I get a picture of Fred Flintstone in a car body running down the hill to get started, which is a parody of the true development of the automobile, which is now highly computerised and, in the latest concept models, doesn’t need a driver, just passengers, who go along for the automated ride.

    God calls things into being and they are, and they function according to his commands. Of course this speaks of his deity.

    The Bible tells us he created all things in six days, and on the seventh day rested.

    This tells me he put all things into motion that needed to be, and in his deity, sat back and watched it all happen. He is everything, yes, but as the Word in action in all things.

    How do you define his rest?

    @teddy, I was responding to Mosco’s question on this. I do not need to put up strawmen. Incidentally, I am not a theist, or deist, or any other -ist. I am Bible believing Christian. I certainly do not know everything, so I am a student and a disciple. I find some epithets unhelpful, because I would not consider myself strictly Arminian.

  323. “Our problem really is that we are not the omniscient narrators of our journeys, or we would not even have conversations like this.”

    So true RP!

  324. The shabat really means to cease rather than to rest up. God doesn’t tire or grow weary, so he doesn’t need rest, so his rest is actually a ceasing of activity. Why would this be? Because he has set everything in motion by his Word.

    ‘Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.’

  325. It worked – my goodness, this guy looks like Dan Pringle, PP’s son(in a few years!)

    Wonder if he ever gets sick? Does he then rebuke the sickness or ask a sovereign God to heal him?

  326. He said “Don’t tell God about your problems, tell your problems about your God”

    Dangerous, because it puts all the onus and focus on the believer. Healing depends on whether they have enough faith to tell the problem to go away.

  327. He said “Don’t tell God about your problems, tell your problems about your God”

    Dangerous, because it puts all the onus and focus on the believer. Healing depends on whether they have enough faith to tell the problem to go away.

    – wazza

    He also anthropomorphises our problems. (hee hee!) Maybe they should meet God’s anthropomorphic rest!

  328. @RP – I stumbled across it when I was looking for a John Macarthur sermon. He has a legion of nut cases following him on youtube who post youtube videos in response to his (Johnny Mac).

  329. Well, whoever it was in that video, you do worry that they might encourage someone to throw away their meds to prove their faith, or something very dangerous like that. And the damage that can occur if a mentally ill person enters that kind of environment is horrifying. They could end up seriously screwed up.

  330. I’ve personally not read the last five hundred comments on this thread. But I am happy that this ‘debate’ has gone on for so long.

    But it looks like people are hitting brick walls in this thread.

    I think it’s great to see such zeal and passion for truth but some people have expressed resentment, frustration or other views to me personally via email. I am not looking forward to locking this thread but I will be doing so shortly.

    I encourage you to join in discussion with other articles on SP02. You can email me interesting articles we can discuss on SP02.

    We all have interesting personalities and truths. I hope we can all benefit by moving on from this thread.

    To those who have emailed me personally, thankyou for your response. I am sorry I have not replied to your emails. I only reply to people when I am not at home so my IP cannot be traced.

    Over time I am hoping to unlock this thread. I will only lock it again when it gets out of control. I hope everyone got a lot out of this fiery debate, argument or discussion.

    Now is the time to sum up your final comments before I lock this thread.

    S&P

  331. Final comment for me…….

    ‎”George Whitfield said “We are all born Arminians.” It is grace that turns us into Calvinists.” C. H. Spurgeon

  332. @teddy…Love Spurgeon, but even he got it wrong sometimes!

    @specks&planks… don’t forget that you asked people to refer this conversation to this thread when it erupted on another thread, which they dutifully did. Now you want to shut it down!

    Well it is a bit long and rambling, but the conversation continues, if sporadically, and has been the main conversation for a while, mainly because the some of the more recent posts are, a) referencing another era, b) playing the man and not the ball, c) confrontational towards the controversial. Perhaps the indication is that some people would prefer to discuss current Biblical issues rather than pull down ministries.

    Maybe this conversation could continue, but separate posts could be put up, such as a post which discusses the sovereignty of God, another that discusses the cessationist/continuist argument, and other issues which have been thrown up on this thread. It’s very likely they will arise again somewhere else, so if you seek containment, they will require their own thread.

  333. “…some people would prefer to discuss current Biblical issues rather than pull down ministries.” – Newsong

    Personally, I like reflecting on Biblical issues, preferably when people are respectful of their differences. Sometimes ministries illustrate the lack of particular a biblical quality or have dodgy practices by biblical standards – but even then I’d rather discuss the broader manner of thing they are lacking or doing, rather than the particular ministry itself, except for its use as an illustration. Talking of particular movements, such as NAR, is also a broad approach, rather than the focus on particular churches under that umbrella. Having said that, I don’t think it hurts to say, ‘Look what these guys are doing! What do you think?”, say in reference to John Crowder or Catch the Fire, but a series of 10 posts on them in a short time – a campaign – is probably not helpful to the ongoing direction of conversation here.

    Hope that makes sense.

    Another reason for that approach is that no one gets everything all right. There could be ministries where we disagree strongly with certain things they teach, yet in other areas, they have really got something right that we could all learn from.

    I agree with Newsong that the issues re Calvinism or sovereignty or cessationism need their own threads. Sometimes we use an example of something to start a post on those matters, but it wouldn’t hurt to have specific threads for discussions which are purely about scriptural interpretation, that are not springing off current events.

    I am happy to put up posts that discuss the sovereignty of God, cessationism etc. However, I think based on what has happened in this thread, that I will reserve the right to moderate insults. Again, I will draw the line.

    Importantly, this is just a blog here, with diverse opinions. There is no agreed agenda to promote a particular theology, though commenters may post up links to things they personally like. Most people here don’t have theological degrees, though some do from time to time. The strength we may have (though some might see it as weakness) is that we use accessible language to discuss things so anyone who is interested can relate to it.

    So for that reason, when people introduce a word with a particular theological meaning, it would be helpful to either:

    – explain what it means in plain English, or;
    – link to a plain English definition, or;
    – wherever possible (as long as you can still make your point accurately) use plain language to say the same thing.
    – where that meaning might differ from someone else’s understanding, it would be good to define what your own understanding is.

    I admire those authors who can handle theological concepts in a language everyone can understand.

    Does anyone else have any suggestions on how we handle these threads that will make them useful for everyone?

  334. A couple of tech suggestions :

    1. Have threaded comments
    2. In the “Most recent comments” window, have recent comments sorted by topic (similar to the way they did it on the original signposts). People like to see the latest on a particular topic, however currently when there is a lot of debate on one topic it pushes other comments off the bottom of the screen. Don’t know if you can do this without having your own hosted blog, but its worth a look.

  335. So its settled then! Calvinism is just Biblical Christianity……

    (Quick Specks lock the comments NOW!)

  336. I’ve gathered a few articles that have tackled interesting questions on biblical subjects. I may post them up in the next few weeks.

    I am sure Teddy will be able to supply a vast number of good resources to discuss or to enrich conversation. I am happy to post up articles that people want to discuss.

    I’ve always stressed that I want Signposts02 to be diverse. I always hope when RP, Greg or Wazza post up articles that they get good attention more then mine. I know Signposts02 is more than just what I post up. It is about broader Christianity. It is clear I have a specific focus. I shall put up an article from Alpha & Omega Ministries.

    Great discussion guys.
    Thread is now locked.

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