When God draws us with His grace, does He take away our power to resist that grace?

This past July 10th, many Protestants- especially those involved in theological education- recognized the 500th birthday of John Calvin by reflecting on the contributions his writings have made to Christian thought. On The Albert Mohler [Radio] Program guest host Dr. Russell D. Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary led a discussion about the doctrines most often associated with Calvin in popular thinking: namely, election and predestination. Dr. Moore’s guests on the July 10th program were Dr. Mark Dever, President of 9Marks ministries Dr. Matt Pinson, President of Free Will Baptist Bible College. Dr. Moore observed that in the past couple of years discussions of “Calvinism” in Baptist circles have, to a large degree, been more amicable and less vitriolic than in times past, and he wished to model an irenic discussion of “Calvinism” by having these guests: one (Dever) a Calvinist and one (Pinson) an Arminian.

I would like to draw readers’ attention to one question from Dr. Russell D. Moore (“RDM” below) and (especially) to the answer given by Dr. Matt Pinson (MP below). In examining Dr. Pinson’s answer to Dr. Moore, it is not my intention to disrupt the irenic spirit established by Dr. Moore, but I do think that it is instructive for us who hold to a “Calvinistic” position to be able to interact with words from an actual Arminian.

RDM: “When you think about that question, ‘What makes you to differ, as a Christian, from a lost man?’  How would you answer that?”

MP: “I would follow Arminius, who was very much like Calvin in his exaltation of the sovereign grace of God, and that God must draw us with His grace because we are totally depraved; we’re completely unable to will ourselves into His favor, and our heart is desparately wicked. I think the difference is that, like Arminius, I would see that grace as being resistible. I think ‘prevenient grace,’ as it’s often called by Calvinists and Arminians, is the real big difference between how we would  see Calvinism and Arminianism. I would say that God comes to people with His grace, and yet He treats them as persons- who have an intellect, will, and emotions- and He’s dealing with them in relationship; and so, as Arminius says, He uses ‘suasion.’ He doesn’t operate on them in a cause and effect way, but in an influence and response way. So He gives them the freedom, by His grace, to resist and even to reject that grace. So you can’t do anything- you know, Arminius was fond of quoting Augustine, ‘Without Me ye can do nothing,’ and he says- let me quote here- says, ‘Christ does not say, Without Me ye can do but little, neither does He say, Without Me ye cannot do any arduous thing, nor, Without Me ye can do it with difficulty, but He says, Without Me ye can do nothing. Nor does He say, Without Me ye cannot complete any thing, but, Without Me ye can do nothing.’ So- you know- we would say, ‘Without the grace of God in Christ and the drawing power of the Holy Spirit, we can do no spiritual good- not the least spiritual good.’ But that doesn’t mean that when He draws us with His grace, that He takes away our power to resist that grace.”

[The entire radio program can be heard HERE.]

In his statement above, it is certain that Pinson’s intention is NOT to belittle the grace of God nor to exalt the pride of man; no Christian teacher could have such motives. RATHER, Dr. Pinson is attempting to give an explanation of why some people resist the grace of God; an explanation that places the blame for such resistance squarely upon the sinner. In his explanation, Pinson wishes to demonstrate that God is not the author or approver of the sin of unbelief. But is Dr. Pinson’s explanation satisfactory, from a biblical perspective?

Dr. Pinson identifies “prevenient grace” as “the real big difference” between Calvinism and Arminianism. This “prevenient grace” restores the power of free choice to otherwise totally depraved sinners, and allows the sinner the opportunity either to choose or reject Christ, according to the decision of the sinner’s own ‘free-will.’ This idea of “prevenient grace” is problematic both biblically and theologically. Biblically “prevenient grace”- as an activity of the Holy Spirit that frees the will, but does not necessarily regenerate the heart unto God- is not found in Scripture; it is simply assumed before any text of Scripture is examined. Theologically “prevenient grace” is problematic in that it is not enough to save anyone; all that “prevenient grace” would do is to restore a person to the position of Adam before the Fall. This semi-restoration to a neutral internal disposition (yet one that is possessed within a fallen world-system) is not what sinners need; rather, we need a new birth (John 3:3) with a new heart (Ezekiel 11:19) with new affections- affections in line with the law of God (Hebrews 8:10). It is God alone who must accomplish this radical change within the sinner, as indicated by the fact that God is the only active agent mentioned in the texts just cited.

Heart surgery is more than just a matter of “influence and response”- while the patient is under the knife, the surgeon is the one in control of the outcome; when my son (Christian) was being born, he was not the one in control- in fact, he did not even breathe for the first few seconds after birth and had to be resuscitated. And these are the kinds of pictures that the Bible uses to describe salvation. It is not a matter of the sinner being brought to a neutral position and then being persuaded to accept Jesus, but there is a fundamental change that takes place due to the effectual grace of God working upon the sinner as the gospel is proclaimed.

[As a side note: the quotes that Dr. Pinson gives from Augustine demostrate a point of agreement between Calvinists and Arminians- it should be remembered that Arminius was educated in the Calvinist school of thought- and these quotes remind us that evangelical Arminians are, at most, semi-Pelagians, rather than heretically Pelagian in their theology.]

Notice that Dr. Pinson does not exactly answer the question that Dr. Moore poses to him in the above discussion. Dr. Pinson’s answer to the question, “What makes you to differ, as a Christian, from a lost man?” seems to be, ‘Because the lost man resisted God’s grace, whereas I did not.’ And it is this kind of answer that raises an alarm among those who hold to the doctrines of grace, commonly called “Calvinism.”

Consider the following example conversation from R.C. Sproul:

Any Christian who wants to be biblical knows that they have to have some doctrine of election- some doctrine of predestination- because its on every page. So you gotta deal with it. So then the question is, ‘How do you understand election?’ And the way that this is usually done is that they say, -“Well, yes God elects people but He elects them on the basis of what they do. And He knows in advance- from all eternity- what they’re going to do when they come to certain crossroads. And on the basis of that foreknowledge- or prescience- then He issues His election.”
But election, then, is rooted and grounded in the work of the individual.
To get this very simple- down and dirty- I say, “OK, are you a Christian?”
-“Yes”
“Do you have a family member or friend who’s not a Christian?”
-“Yes.”
“Please tell me why you are a Christian and that other person isn’t.”
-“Well, I believed and the other person didn’t.”
And I say, “I understand that, but why did you believe- why did you say ‘yes’ to the Gospel- when your friend said ‘no’ to the same Gospel? Is it because you’re better than they are?”
And what do they say, a hundred times out of a hundred?
-“No! Of course not!” They know they can’t say that.
I say, “Is it because you’re smarter?”
-“No.”
“Let me ask it again, when you’re neighbor said ‘no’ to the offer of the Gospel, is God pleased with that?”
-“No.”
“Is that the right decision?”
-“No.”
“Is that the wrong decision?”
-“Yes.”
“Is that a bad decision.”
-“Yes.”
“Is it a sin to say ‘no’ to God?”
-“Yes.”
“Well, you didn’t commit that sin, you did the right thing, the good thing, and the virtuous thing. So, in reality, you’re telling me that the reason you’re a Christian and that your neighbor is not is because you did the right thing, and they did the bad thing. And so, though you protest as loudly as you can, if you really believe what you’re telling me, you’re trusting in your ultimate salvation in your good behavior. You may say, ‘Well I couldn’t have done it except for the grace of God!’ But its the same grace He gave to your neighbor. In the final analysis, there was some ‘island of righteousness’ in you that caused you to say ‘yes’ to that grace where you wicked neighbor said ‘no’. You have something of which to boast. Not to mention how Paul not only destroys that position, but wipes off the spot where it stood in Romans 9 when he makes it emphatically clear that it is ‘not of him who runs, not of him who wills, but of God who shows mercy'(Romans 9:10).”

[from Sproul, R.C. Put on the New Man. Audio recording. St. Andrew’s Chapel, Sanford, FL. October, 2001.]

And so, while Dr. Pinson does not intend to establish a grounds of boasting before God, his theological position- if consistently held- would promote pride rather than humility, and is thus very dangerous indeed.

In the comment thread below I would like readers to, of course, post thoughts on anything written above, but I would also like some help in considering the following question, adapted from an assertion made by Dr. Pinson: When God draws us with His grace, does He take away our power to resist that grace?

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20 Comments on “When God draws us with His grace, does He take away our power to resist that grace?”

  1. thomastwitchell Says:

    “rather than heretically Pelagian in their theology.”

    I like that you quote R.C.. He also said that in the final rinse, though it may be true that theoretically the semi-Pelagian is not Pelagian, when it comes to the persons point of decision they do it from Pelagius Island.

  2. Mark Says:

    Andrew,

    Interesting insight. I think you’ve got it!

    So He gives them the freedom, by His grace, to resist and even to reject that grace.

    But man is already rejecting God naturally so what difference does the grace make? It’s a subtle shift from God to grace. What I mean is that natural man is rejecting God on his own. Now, add grace and natural man may or may not reject this grace so what does it really do? I believe prevenient grace is irresistable.

    It’s like God comes to a blind man and puts glass on him which may or may not allow him to see.

  3. Michael Says:

    Man has no power to be raised from the dead physically, so why do we think he plays any part to resist himself spiritually? All of God, by God, for God, to God be the glory.

  4. james szewczyk Says:

    I am not a calvinist but find the topic always enlightening and interesting. I believe prevenient grace to be resistable. It is only by Gods grace that we are able to see, to use the previous analogy, but because we can now see the two paths (destruction or salvation)laid out before us, we are able to choose. If you follow Calvinism out to its logical and theological end as well, there is no need for faith as Gods irresistable grace ensures salvation(Whether one wants it or not.) How can someone trust in something or believe something which they have no control over? I believe in unlimited atonement, but not universal salvation. If God desired to elect certain men to salvation and others to destruction, why incarnate Himself and undergo crucifixion at all? To suggest irresistable grace is to deny God the full honor of His atonement.

  5. thomastwitchell Says:

    “It is only by Gods grace that we are able to see, to use the previous analogy, but because we can now see the two paths (destruction or salvation)laid out before us, we are able to choose.”

    So why does one choose one and not the other?

    Prevenient grace is that which goes before and prevents. In fact that is what prevenient means, to prevent before hand, we just do not use it in common vernacular any more. By going before, prevenient grace precedes in order anything man does. Technically, according to Arminius, it is a lifting of depravity from the will so as to prevent it from interfering with choice. By definition, though, because it precedes mans actions, it cannot be resisted. The thing that is resisted is the grace for salvation, which for the Arminian/semi-Pelagian (there is no difference) is merely assistive grace which comes after prevenient grace and can be denied.

    At first the Arminian agrees with the Calvinist, prevenient grace is irrisistable because it comes before and prevents, but the Calvinist would go further and say that salvation is soley of the Lord so that man does not cooperate with God, but is servant to him, attending to grace which is given and cannot be denied, nor does it fail to accomplish what it was sent to do.

    We are left then with two very different definitions of grace. Grace is a mere help in both cases of prevenient and assistive grace for the Arminian, they do not find their end in the salvation of man, only in man. Where, for the Calvinist the free gift of God is a singularity- one grace- encompassing all that is necessary for salvation including faith and a multitude of other graces such as, repentance, conviction, knowledge, peace, love, joy, sanctification by the Spirit…, all of which culminate in the final and certain end, salvation. One thing we know from James is that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights. Unfortunately for the non-Calvinist, he must insist that there is a vital flaw in God’s giftings and man alone is able to make that final contribution which will help God do his job.

    Which leads us to another distinction between faith as defined by the Arminian and faith as defined by the Calvinist. Faith in the first case is blind, ignorant of the eventuality. In the second it is eyes wide open knowing the eventuality. As in John three, two things happen to the person who is born again, 1- his eyes are openned so that he can see and understand the kingdom, 2- he who knows enters into it, that is, he comes into the light that it may be made show that it was made to be so by God. Or as John also says, these things are written so that you may know you have eternal life. Or as Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Those who see and hear are born again. Those who do not, cannot be. The Arminian, because of free will, can never know that to be the case. He must suppose as Nicodemus that there is something he must do. But Jesus cuts that idiocy off at the beginning. A man must be born again before he can understand. The word translated see is not just a matter of perception, but of initmate knowing what is truth. See Luke 8 and John 12. Seeing is not enough, even though the Arminian thinks it is. Because he thinks it is he remains blind even while he see. John and Luke tell us that people can see, yet not perceive, can hear and not understand, but also that it is God who has made only some to be able while preventing others from so doing. The Scripture tells us that to understand spiritually we must first have the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2, with the mind of Christ. And John further tells us that we know him because his Spirit testifies that we are his. If you do not have the Spirit, you cannot understand, and so are not his.

    “Whether one wants it or not.” This is a caricature, one that you think is true, only because you have been blinded by those who have repeated the lie to you so many times. No Calvinist teaches this. We teach that God sheds abroad his love in our hearts. We truly do desire him as no others can. The Arminian on the other hand must depend on a fickle, humanistic love that can choose God or the devil. However, Scripture clearly declares that God will not receive from a divided heart and the one so divided should not expect to receive anything from God. No, it is the Arminian that has no claim on the desire. To him, it must be a matter of indifference. Try that kind of divided devotion with anyone you know, and you will find them less than honoring of your affection. God is much more demanding than people, expecting, not that you could just as well loved the devil, but perfection, “You shall love the Lord with your whole heart… He requires an unadulterated love, one that is not tempted within or without to depart, nor can it be.

    Do you believe in the sun? Do you believe in the end of your life, do you believe in God? You have no control over any of that, and I would go further. Every day of your life was written before one of them came to be. Every thought before you think it, every word before you speak it, every belief before you believe it. Many are the plans of man but the decision is from the Lord. You see, God goes before and determines. It is everywhere in Scripture. No Arminian, except for the most hardened open theist, believes in something other than predestination. Open theists must propose a God who grows in knowledge. But that God is not the God of Scripture. And the logical end of any autonomous free will finds itself in the same heretical soup. If God does not know who will be saved always he is not God. If you control the knowledge of God, that is, if you control whether or not you will be saved and not God, then he cannot know and is therefore, not God. And here’s the thing, even though we have no control over faith except to believe, if that is what you meant, it is not because we are not active in it. But what kind of faith is both able to believe or not to believe? Or, what kind of faith places its hope in what it does not know to be true. And if it knows it to be true would it choose what it knows to be false? If it cannot be sure of its hope, why would faith act at all? So, even in faith, Christian faith, it is not a matter of whether or nor we can control it. Faith, Christian faith, is sure and certain. It is the very thing it hopes for, according to Hebrews 11. It does not matter then that it is not controlled, for it and its object are one, and in that is peace which passes the understanding. There is assurance because it knows the object it object affection as surely as it knows itself. So what’s to control? Faith, true faith, alway chooses Christ. It is not divided in its love. Unbelief on the other hand trusts neither Christ or another, for it does not know the final end of its hope. And in the end, it only trusts itself and of that it is not sure. So you have confused, free will, with faith. And neither have you really defined properly. Free will, true free will, that which is in Christ, for there is no freedom anywhere else, always does the will of the one who sent Him. All other wills are in opposition to the will of God. God is not free to choose against himself, and either are we. Sin is bondage, and is not free to choose anything but sin even though it prides itself on its blind faith that it can. Indeed, by nature it is bondage. On the other hand, in Christ and him alone, is freedom. But then, how does one choose to be in him when one is yet in bondage to sin? So again, where you think that there is choice, there really isn’t any. And, where you think there is no choice is the only place that any choice really exist. But it is not choice between good or bad. God does not allow that freedom. Your problem is that you want the freedom to be able to choose to sin, but God has said that is opposed to his very nature and by opposing him it is worthy only of condemnation.

    You say you belive in an unlimited atonement. Are you saying it atoned for everything and everyone, or nothing and no one? If every thing and everyone, then why are you not a universalist? It seems that then you mean nothing. For if there is still something left to do, then there was no atonement. The sacrifice once for all does not mean what it means, but means that you must sacrifice yourself, that is, it is up to your free will choice to be saved and Christ’s work remains undone until then. It is as if there were never an atonement. There is an alternative to this blindness, and that is that Christ died for something and someone, but not everything, and not all men. We know one sin that is not atoned for, one that Christ said would never be forgiven. And we know that not all me are saved. We also know that Christ did not pray for all men, but only some. We know that certain men like Judas, as it was written he was the son of perdition, was not one for whom Jesus prayed. He was a devil from the beginning and was not ever a candidate for salvation. We know that throughout the history of Israel, God passes over certain nations. We know for certain that there is salvation in the name of Christ only, and that no others can be saved except by Him. Which leaves a fairly large amount of people throughout history who have never heard of Christ who could not be saved under any other means and were not saved by Christ. So, unless you are a universalist, you, as all non-Calvinists, believe in a limited atonement. Though you may say it is unlimited, there is no logic which will extend it further than those to whom the message was sent, at most. Unless you are saying that Christ atoned for those he never intended to save by it. But, by your own testimony that would mean you cannot explain why Christ had to undergo crucifixion at all, for you cannot explain why God does not tell all about it, which means he never intended them to hear and to benefit from it, which means God sent Jesus knowing that it would not save the greater part of humanity, which means he intended their destruction. The crucifixion is for naught for those who do not hear, so why would it have to happen for them at all? And if that is the case, then why does it have to happen for any who are not saved? And if that is the case, it only needed to atone for some and not all. To affirm unlimited atonement is to say that the atonement alone cannot save. That is far and away more blasphemous than to say that God loves some and not others. Read John 17, that is exactly what it says. He does not pray for the world, only for those he loves.

    • james szewczyk Says:

      I applaud your defense of Calvinism, I admit it has never been quite so explained to me. However, let me clarify my statements earlier. I thought this might happen after reading my own comment so I came to clarify. I do believe God foreknows all, but this is a divine attribute and in no way implies utter control of man’s thoughts or actions. To imply this would make God the author of sin. For instance, since you alluded to Psalm 139, your logic must follow into verse 21 which states,”Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?ESV) How can God deem hatred upon himself in the minds of those who oppose Him? I do not deny that God is sovereign and is in control, but not to the extent that He controls the will of every man. What I meant by control in my previous comment about belief, is that by definition belief entails trust, how can one trust in something that has been forced upon him as you imply that God controls even our thoughts? And I do recognize predestination, although not to the extent that you espouse. God predestined or predetermined the way, not individual people per se’. Note the emphasis on “In Him, and In love” in Ephesians 1:4,5. The predestination is In HIM. And yes unlimited atonement applies to ALL as Ephesians 1:10 states, “To unite all things in HIM, things in heaven and things on earth.” This in no way negates Gods will that all should be saved. For example in John 6:36 Jesus tells the Jews, “But I said that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” Was Gods will thwarted there? And yes, I realize in verse 44 that Jesus says noone can come unless the Father draws him. I do not deny that the Holy Spirit must work in every mans heart in order for him to believe. Also, I agree that true faith, implies salvation. You yourself said “And here’s the thing, even though we have no control over faith except to believe, if that is what you meant, it is not because we are not active in it. But what kind of faith is both able to believe or not to believe?” Thats exactly my point, you cant believe without faith and in order to do that you must make a choice, i.e., free-will. What kind of choice is a one sided choice? Adam and Eve were given free-will even in thier pre-fallen state, they were capable of moral action. Because we are capable of decision making, not all will be saved; hence I’m not a universalist.

  6. james szewczyk Says:

    BTW, by “universalist” I mean that heresy that everyone will eventually go to heaven. However, as far as salvation goes, it is universal in that it is extended to all nations and peoples of the earth rather than confined to one nation such as the Israelites.


  7. js- To avoid any confusion by dashing down multiple rabbit trails, lets stick with one subject until we understand exactly where you’re comming from.

    Since there is a question about the knowledge of God, can you tell us how God comes to know what he knows?

    • james szewczyk Says:

      I never questioned God’s knowledge. God is all knowing by His very nature. What I said was that foreknowledge is a divine attribute, but that it does not necessarily imply control to the extent that you might say.

      • james szewczyk Says:

        As far as my theological postion goes, I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian/semi-pelagian. I affirm ; universal atonement accepted through faith by the drawing of the Holy Spirit, grace that can be rejected through continued rebellion, (however once man repents and believes he is held securely in Salvation. “security of the believer”. Predestination as far as the way to heaven, not the individual people. Election as pertaining to ALL those who are truly saved by grace through faith. And I affirm that ALL have sinned and fall short , yet able to make decisions for or against Christ. Even Adam and Eve continued to hear God speak to them after the fall. I didn’t come on here to be contentious, but to have an intelligent discussion.


  8. What do you mean by foreknowledge? By answering that you will begin to define for me what you think is under God’s control.

  9. Darrin Says:

    Good discussion, guys; keep it up, if you desire to do so.

    James, man’s will enjoys some freedom, but it is constrained by his nature. Adam’s nature before the Fall was different than what we had as fallen, unregenerate men. Adam truly did have freedom, but forfeited that for all of us. We are born dead and blind to spiritual things.

    When God saves us, He doesn’t just give us a choice to live – He gives us life! He doesn’t just give us a choice to see – He opens our eyes! Praise His name.

    Having the eyes of faith in Him, then, can we choose blindness? No, we cannot undo what God has done. Neither can we, or would we want to, give up the spiritual life He bestowed when He saved us.

    Regarding the atonement, Christ’s death was certainly worthy enough and powerful enough to save every person who ever lived. However, God also reserves the right to save whomever He wills.

    Does it even make sense that Christ died for everyone? Not to me. If in God’s justice a crime should be punished twice (i.e. by Christ on the cross and those in hell, for the same deeds); if Christ’s sacrifice was for those for whom He would not intercede; if the Father, Son and Spirit act independently such that the Son atoned for those whom the Father never elected nor the Sprit would ever regenerate, then I will accept the doctrine of universal atonement. However, all of these points stand against it.


  10. So the intelligent conversation has to proceed along the lines of honest answers. When you assert that God knows, you have interjected into the conversation the concepts of how, what, when he knows. I hoped my last question to you was clear. But since you want to divide out of God’s knowledge a subsection, what do you mean by foreknowledge? And I will further it? Does he have foreknowledge because he sees what is going to happen then predestines? Or, does he know because he has predestined it? The issue is pertinent to choice. You have intimated that God only predestines the means of choice but not the outcome. (I will post about why it impossible to predestine the means without assigning the outcome also) But for now, back to the first question. How does God know that outcome, and when did he come to know it, before or after man chooses?

    • james szewczyk Says:

      Apparently you dont understand the predestination only refers to salvation in Christ. His knowledge extends forever into the future and forever into the past, because God is eternal. Therefore, everything to Him is present-tense. He is not surprised by mans decisions, but he honors them. I’ve already told you what foreknowledge was. God foreknows all things to come, But and I will reiterate, THIS DOES NOT IMPLY CONTROL of every aspect of humanity up to and including mans thoughts. Does God act and ordain things? YES. But as I said before, He cannot be responsible for mans sins or evil. you yourself admit that. Total Depravity right?

  11. james szewczyk Says:

    To Darrin: Thanks for jumping in. I agree with you as far as the free-will is concerned, I never claimed that man had complete free-will, only that in his fallen state he is still capable of rejecting God. This is why in John 3:36 it states,” Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ESV” So I see your logic but I think we disagree over semantics maybe. When I say unlimited atonement, I mean unlimted potential I guess. Jesus Christ died for all and atoned for all, but theres a caveat, only for those who repent and believe will inherit salvation. So rather than unconditonal election, you end up with conditional (your repentance and belief) election, with election refering to the status of honor due to ALL who recieve Gods FREE gift. Also John 3:17 “God did nto send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world mgiht be saved through HIM. Whoever believes in HIM is not condemned, but whover does not believe is condemned already, Because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. Calvinism would like to restate that last verse to say, ”
    but whoever does not believe is condemned already because God decided that they were not predestined to do so.” I cant agree with that. Also how do you explain Luke 7;30 ” But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” or Acts 7:51 ” You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit.” Of course you could conveniently say that they weren’t meant to, that they were predestined not to, but I think that would be stretching Calvinist doctrine too thin. AS far as giving up salvation, amen to that brother, nobody would want to nor can they, if they are true believers as 1 John states, “If they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might be plain that they all are not of us.” The security comes AFTER, not before. However, the Holy spirit convicts us to repent and believe so that we might recieve Gods grace through faith. And yes even grace initiated the call. But man can still reject that call and that initiating grace. W.T. Conner states, that “They (Man)can be influenced but not forced.”—Trouble with the Tulip. Frank Page. p.31. Great book, you ought to read it sometime. LOL. Anyways, as far as Christ not interceding, he did intercede already, “in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” AS far as God saving whomever he wills, im assuming your referring to Romans 9:18. Look to Romans 11:32 first. does it not say, “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” Gods mercy is for ALL, but only if they repent. The greek word for repent is metanoeo, which means to “turn back or turn from sin” 2 Peter 3:9 “not wishing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should reach repentance.” Let me know what you think, but I think I already know what you’re going to say. lol. Thanks.

  12. thomastwitchell Says:

    Responsibility is not culpability.

    He foreknows things to come? But you said he sees it as present-tense. That is a non-sequiter. The future does not yet exist. He isn’t present there, because there is no there. So he is surprised, even granting you position that God is present in the future as present-tense, because at that moment, if that actually existed, he wouldn’t know the choice until it was made. You can say God always knew it, but unless it will be in time truly instantiated it can only remain potentially knowable, and not actually knowable. God knows today and has alway known in the past what would be today and in the future. That precludes any decision other than what will be made. So the question again, how does God know that the choices man will make are actualities and not mere potentialities if he does not predestinate? And by the way, predestination refers to as I said, in the broadest sense of Pleides in its season or the stars in their appointed (predestined) circuit; the decay of atoms at their given rate, more narrowly, wise men living in the west, or simply the birth of Christ so that we might have a Savior, or in a narrow sense, being both the means and the outcomes of choices made unto salvation. If you want to quibble about words, broaden your scope of predestination to include providence in general. Another word might be decree. And I do that because for obvious reasons you have to isolate a single thing from every other aspect of God’s sovereignty to maintain your system.

    How about the curiosity of thoughts like: Many are the plans of a man, but every decision is from the Lord? Another rendering is: Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Or, The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. It doesn’t matter how you state it: The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will. Or: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. Or: Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Or, It is God who works in you both the willing and the doing of his good pleasure. Scripture doesn’t agree with you that God doesn’t interfere with the thoughts and desires of man. So, one more time, without getting to ethereal, does God know the choices or not, and if he knows them, can they be anything other than he knows them to be, and how is it that he secrures what he knows is true if he does not control the outcome? How do you know you will not choose to loose your salvation, then? Hmm? Your aguements for free-will destroy your belief in eternal security.

    Some how, God has secured your salvation, but to do that, doesn’t he have to do something to your freedom to choose? Or, at least eliminate the choices that can be made. In either case he has controlled choice, something you said God does not do.

  13. Darrin Says:

    James,

    You wrote, “Of course you could conveniently say that they weren’t meant to, that they were predestined not to, but I think that would be stretching Calvinist doctrine too thin.”

    I have little interest in convenience, so please don’t presume that upon me. What I would actually say, in answer to a continuing misconception about Calvinism which you seem to have, is that men are already without hope, helpless, spiritually dead. God does not need to make them so. If He merely allows them to continue in their natural state, they will reject Him and do all sorts of evil. (Although the NT does show that He works to further blind them in their sin.) His intervention, in the lives of those He chooses, is by grace… when He moves someone from their default path, it is for their good.

    I don’t understand the preoccupation with being “forced”. It’s as if I should complain because God gave me a new heart and I had nothing to do with it. I would rather praise Him for it.

    I have read Page’s “Trouble with the TULIIP”, and frankly I believe it is an embarrassment to the author. For such a lightweight book, it is so riddled with errors that it would be terribly tedious to mark them all. If you want to know more about Calvinism, I would much rather recommend Steele, Thomas, and Quinn’s “The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented”.

  14. james szewczyk Says:

    My “preoccupation” with being forced evolves from Calvinism saying that only those God chooses will be saved. As far as Page’s book, you sound pretty vehement against it, which I could care less, I was joking in the first place. When I said “you” I was meant anybody not you specifically, why did you take it so personal? I have enjoyed our conversations on here but it seems I’m getting nowhere as are you and Mr. Twitchell. Therefore I will summarize my faith and leave it at that as best I can. You are correct when you say we cannot “choose” salvation in that I cannot say to God, I choose to be saved today. I can however, choose to accept his free offer of salvation imputed to me through the death of Jesus Christ, because my sins were imputed to him. Therefore, once I place my faith in what God said He would do, I am born again, therefore I cannot go back and reject my own salvation. So Christs atonement is for all who choose to accept it, not that any man can choose salvation on their own works. By the way, making a decision is not a work, try to find that context anywhere in scripture, that is a very legalistic sense of works. I dont claim to know everything about how God works, but because I have faith in Christ I am now one of His children, one of the “elect”. I am elect because I believe, not the other way around. I may not have a clear picture of Calvinistic doctrine, however, nothing in Scripture tells me that God selects or condemns INDIVIDUALS to their ultimate end. When Christ said I chose you , you did not choose me, he was referring to his disciples, not believers or the elected in Calvinistic terms. That is a severe interpretational error. I appreciate the time and effort that went into the discussion here, but I am no longer interested in carrying on. your brother in christ.

  15. thomastwitchell Says:

    TTFN!


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