Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

Which comes first, faith or regeneration? That is indeed the question. I cannot think of a more important theological issue with respect to the controversy between Calvinism and Arminianism. It is the defining feature concerning the question of whether or not God’s saving grace is irresistible. Calvinist James White would seem to agree,

The question is: Does [God raise sinners to life] because men fulfill certain conditions, or does He do so freely, at His own time, and in the lives of those He chooses to bring into relationship with Himself through Jesus Christ? The question is normally framed in the context of the relationship of faith and regeneration. Do we believe to become born again [regeneration], or must we first be born again before we can exercise true, saving faith?  (Debating Calvinism, pg 198)

Many Arminians choose to focus on the proof texts offered by Calvinists in order to deal with their claim that God’s grace is irresistible. While this is a noble approach (and one we will deal with in a future post) it is far more effective to examine the Biblical evidence which directly addresses the question of priority. Does the Bible tell us anything about this subject, or must we rely on the prior claims of a theological system as James White implies,

Objections to irresistible grace are, by and large, actually objections to the previously established truths of the doctrines of grace [i.e. Calvinism]. Obviously, if God is sovereign and freely and unconditionally elects a people unto salvation, and if man is dead in sin and enslaved to its power, God must be able to free those elected people in time and bring them to faith in Jesus Christ, and that by a grace that does not falter or depend upon human cooperation. (ibid. 198)

James White seems to freely admit that the claim that regeneration precedes faith is not primarily derived from Scripture, but upon a prior commitment to the Calvinist understanding of unconditional election and the deadness of man in sin. He seems to be saying that the case for irresistible grace is Biblically weak unless one first adopts the Calvinist theological system that necessarily leads to it. If that is what James White is implying [and he would likely object] then I completely agree.

There are several problems with the belief that regeneration precedes faith:

1) It does not theologically comprehend the nature of justification.
2) It does not theologically comprehend the correlation between regeneration and sanctification.
3) It is not sufficiently “cross-centered” or “Christocentric”.
4) It actually downplays the seriousness and nature of man’s deadness in sin.
5) It does not seriously consider the necessity and implications of union with Jesus Christ with regards to all spiritual blessings.

The Bible is clear that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ. Not even Calvinists will argue with that. One only needs to read Rom. 3:21-5:21 and Gal. 3 to plainly establish that God justifies on the basis of faith. What is comprehended in justification? Justification is the act of God by which he forgives us of our sins and declares us righteous. This forgiveness and righteousness rests solely on the merits of Christ’s blood, and is enjoyed only by those who come to be in union with Him. Consider the following passages,

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” (Rom. 5:1,2 NIV)

“Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Rom. 5:9, 10 NIV)

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.” (Rom. 3:22-25 NIV- emphasis mine)

Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13, 14 NIV- emphasis mine)

“..so that Christ might dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Eph. 3:17 NIV- emphasis mine)

These passages teach us much regarding the nature of justification. Prior to being justified God’s wrath abides on us (5:9). We can only be at “peace” with God after we have been justified (5:1). We can only be justified by coming to be in union with Jesus Christ through faith, and it is only through this union that the soul cleansing blood of Christ is applied (Eph. 1:13; 3:17; Rom. 5:2, 9, 25).

To claim that regeneration precedes faith, is to claim that God can bestow life apart from the blood of His Son. It is to claim that God gives life prior to the removal of sin. Since it is sin that causes spiritual death, our sin must first be removed through Christ’s blood before God can give us life. As long as sin remains, death remains. If God can bestow life (regenerate) apart from the the application of Christ’s blood, then the atonement becomes less than the necessary means by which a holy God reconciles sinners to himself (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21-23). For this reason, the Calvinistic doctrine of irresistible grace is not sufficiently Christocentric, does not theologically comprehend the nature and necessity of justification, ignores the necessity of union with Christ for salvation, and downplays the seriousness of sins deadly effects.

The Bible is clear that the new life belongs only to those who have been justified through saving union with Christ. Look again at Rom. 5:10,

“For if when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” [ NIV- emphasis mine]

It is only through union with Christ, wrought by the reconciliation of His blood, that we can experience regeneration. Only when we come to be “in Christ” can we experience the life that flows from Him, and this union results from faith (Eph. 1:13; Rom. 5:1). Consider Col. 2:12,

“…having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God who raised Him from the dead.” [NASB- emphasis mine]

While Paul mentions baptism, our baptism is nothing more than a public display of what God has already done in the heart. According to this passage, we are raised to life “through faith” in the “working [or power] of God”. The context also makes it clear that this spiritual resurrection is the result of being “in Christ” (verses 6-13).

Paul tells us in Galatians that the life of Christ that dwells within him is “by faith in the Son of God” (2:20). He also proclaims in Ephesians that all spiritual blessings, including being made “alive together with Christ” (2:5) and being “raised up with Him” (2:6) are “by grace…through faith” (2:8- emphasis mine).

A further problem that the Calvinist insistence that regeneration precedes faith fails to address is the theological correlation between regeneration and sanctification. F. Leroy Forlines observes,

…justification must be prior to regeneration [because] regeneration is the beginning of sanctification. (The Quest for Truth, pg. 260- emphasis his)

He goes on to quote Calvinist Louis Berkhof who says, “regeneration is the beginning of sanctification.” (ibid. 260)

…and concludes by stating,

If indeed it is true that regeneration is ‘the beginning of sanctification’ (Berkhof, a major Calvinist theologian), and if indeed it is true that God cannot enter with His sanctifying grace until the guilt problem is solved by justification (Haldane, one whose Calvinistic credentials are not in question), Calvinism is in trouble with its view of having regeneration prior to justification. (ibid. 261)

It is absurd to believe that God can begin to make us holy [i.e. sanctify us] while we are still under God’s wrath and dead in sins. God must first reconcile us through Christ’s blood [justification] before he can give us life and make us holy.

We could state the Arminian case as follows:

1) One cannot experience justification or regeneration apart from union with Christ.
2) We come to be in union with Christ by faith.
3) Therefore, faith precedes justification and regeneration.

or…

1) We cannot experience life (regeneration) while still in our sins.
2) We remain in our sins until we are justified on the merits of Christ’s blood.
3) We are justified by faith.
4) Therefore, faith precedes regeneration.

I believe that the reverse of what James White said above equally holds true. Since it can be Biblically demonstrated that faith must, and in fact does, precede regeneration, then we have every reason to reject the Calvinistic system that necessitates such an unscriptural conclusion as the doctrine of regeneration preceding faith.

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134 Responses

  1. Another home run. I am glad that you took your time through this subject. You certainly did not short-change anyone.

    I had never considered the thought that “Regeneration preceding Faith” actually down-plays the seriousness of sin’s effects. That was awesome.

    I’m lovin’ this blog!
    Billy

  2. I only got in to about two chapters of “The Potter’s Freedom” by James White before becoming so irritated by the way in which he handled the Word (as most Calvinists do), that I put it away, refusing to pick it up again.

  3. Great post and great to find another Arminian blog. Keep up the good work.

  4. Excellent post. The doctrine of regeneration preceding faith is a major Achilles’ heels of Calvinism. It has no real scriptural support, and effectively denies that spiritual life comes through believing on the name of Christ.

  5. Ben,

    Thanks for providing a detailed post on the subject. I’ve begun a response, but I’m juggling it amidst several other projects, so it may take a while for me to complete.

    May God’s blessing rest on you,

    -Turretinfan

  6. Nice blog, I will come by more. I of course disagree with your arminianism but I like that you want to talk about these things. Just a few thought on this post, it seems like you are trying to attack the Reformed position based upon the order of justification and sanctification. To a certain extant I really think this is rather moot…sure sanctification begins when you are regenerate, but I would say that that is when a sinner is justified as well. So I see them as beginning simultaniously as God graciously acts on a sinner.

    The issue for me is the age old why do YOU believe and Mr.X who sat through the same prayer meetings and sermons rejected the Christian message? You both had the same Spirit “drawing” so why do YOU believe and he does not?

    The problem for you is that you put YOUR choice ahead of regeneration so the reason for why you believe and Mr.X does not resides in YOU and not in God. You made yourself to differ by choosing to be born again where Mr.X was to dumb or hard to make that choice.

  7. turretinfan,

    Take your time and make it good. There is no hurry, I will still be here. You may have to be very patient with any response I may give as well, as I do not have a lot of time to devote to this either.

  8. Bob,Thanks for stopping by.
    I left a comment on your Babylblog concerning the “Secret”. Last I checked you had not responded. Maybe you didn’t notice it.

    You said…”…you are trying to attack the Reformed position based upon the order of justification and sanctification. To a certain extant I really think this is rather moot…sure sanctification begins when you are regenerate, but I would say that that is when a sinner is justified as well. So I see them as beginning simultaniously as God graciously acts on a sinner.”

    Actually I am more concerned with the order of regeneration and justification. Since you said “sanctification and justification” I assume you would agree, however, that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification. Is that the case?

    Anyway, it seems that you are saying that sanctification, regeneration, and justification happen simultaneously. If that is the case, then you must also believe that all three of these works of God are “by faith” [since justification is clearly by faith] which would mean that, logically speaking, faith must precede all three works of God. Is that what you believe?

    As far as the other question, I have much to say on that, but for now I would just ask you if you are saying that some philosophical argument about two people responding to God’s grace in different ways should take precedence over what the Bible seems to plainly teach regarding the condition of faith needing to be met before one can become justified, regenerated, and sanctified?

  9. “As far as the other question, I have much to say on that, but for now I would just ask you if you are saying that some philosophical argument about two people responding to God’s grace in different ways should take precedence over what the Bible seems to plainly teach regarding the condition of faith needing to be met before one can become justified, regenerated, and sanctified?

    (chuckle) Well, whether or not libertarian free will is the “plain teaching of the Bible” is the issue at hand it would seem. As far as being purely philosophical I disagree, the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace and is a gift(Rom 3:24). The issue then is that if this gift is open to a libertarian “whosoever” then what makes those who posses the gift to differ from those who have chosen to reject it?

    I think you avoided this because you don’t really have an answer…honestly no synergist does. Given your soteriology you have to say that YOU made yourself to differ, you were either smarter, less hard hearted, more humble, than mr.X who rejected the same message. It isn’t really a hypothetical at all, it is a real life illustration.

    The issue for you is that this of course sounds rather meritorious, you have done something Mr.X could have but didn’t and that is why you are saved and he is lost.

  10. Bob,

    You said,

    “I think you avoided this because you don’t really have an answer…honestly no synergist does.

    You got me Bob. I was up all night tossing and turning, hoping you wouldn’t call my bluff. Just kidding, of course. I will deal with your question in a momment, but I want to remind you that you have not yet answered my question. Lets not get into the same kind of debate that we got into over original sin where I answer all of your questions and you ignore most of mine.

    Your question:

    “Given your soteriology you have to say that YOU made yourself to differ, you were either smarter, less hard hearted, more humble, than mr.X who rejected the same message. It isn’t really a hypothetical at all, it is a real life illustration.”

    Now I am in no way comparing myself to Jesus, but I think we can learn from him that sometimes the best way to answer a question is to ask one. So please think about this for a momment and see what you come up with.

    Are we indebted to God’s grace as much after we believe as before? Are we saved by grace while in sin, but not after? The problem is that Christians are given grace to ovecome sin, yet they do not always do so. One Christian may overcome temptation and another will fail in the same area. Why? 1 Cor. 10:13 says,

    “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

    Now if grace is the only factor, and we can only act as acted upon, then why is it that some Christians yield to temptations while others do not? Both were provided a way out. Both were given the power to stand up under it. What made the difference? Can you answer this question? Look at James 4:6-8,

    “But he gives more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.”

    Again, James 4:6 says that God gives us sufficient grace to humble oursleves, submit to God, and resist the devil. He gives us sufficient grace to draw close to God and deepen our relationship with him. Why then do some resist the devil better than others? Why do some draw closer to God than others? Why do some seek God for hours a night, while others are content to watch the Simpsons? They are both given sufficient grace so what is the difference? Can the one believer boast over another that they are more intelligent, humble, etc., and that is why they better resisted temptation, and drew closer to God? Can you answer this question? If it is all God’s grace and has nothing to do with how we respond to it as persons capable of genuine choice, then it is hard to make sense of these passages. If your assumptions are true then there should be no difference between believers. We should all act just the same, for God has given each of us sufficient grace.

    Let me also remind you that you have not yet dealt with my original question. I will repeat it so you do will not need to scroll back.

    I asked,

    “Anyway, it seems that you are saying that sanctification, regeneration, and justification happen simultaneously. If that is the case, then you must also believe that all three of these works of God are “by faith” [since justification is clearly by faith] which would mean that, logically speaking, faith must precede all three works of God. Is that what you believe?”

  11. “Lets not get into the same kind of debate that we got into over original sin where I answer all of your questions and you ignore most of mine.”

    Yeah lets not do that again…I think it was more of an issue of snide comments like this and the fact that we were talking about the fate of dead 6 months old and other purely speculative matters that caused me to bail out on that discussion.

    “Are we indebted to God’s grace as much after we believe as before? Are we saved by grace while in sin, but not after? The problem is that Christians are given grace to ovecome sin, yet they do not always do so. One Christian may overcome temptation and another will fail in the same area. Why?

    If you are implying by “fail” to be lose their salvation I do not agree, they never were Christians if they do not persevere. As far as christians who are under the sanctifying influence of the Spirit, I don’t think the Spirit of God is this impersonal force that just dispenses X amount of ounces of grace per day per believer, but moves and influences believers affections as God has ordained.

    So when you ask:

    “Now if grace is the only factor, and we can only act as acted upon, then why is it that some Christians yield to temptations while others do not?”

    Well grace isn’t the only factor we do have wills. The issue is that WITHOUT God’s grace we will ALWAYS will to sin. Now as far as Christians living less holy lives than others, that is completely owing to their own choices (which God has allowed them to make) while those who are living at a greater sanctity are living such because the chose to and that due to the grace of God.

    So in light of the sovereignty of God I would say that God is also sovereign over the sin in those being sanctified and is working it for their ultimate good…though it is still sin and brought about by their choice. So yes as you point to James, it is our role to plead for grace in our pursuit of holiness. This isn’t some sort of formula for how we are saved or regenerated or anything, rather it is an exhortation to believers to earnestly seek the Lord.

    So when you say:

    “He gives us sufficient grace to draw close to God and deepen our relationship with him. Why then do some resist the devil better than others? Why do some draw closer to God than others? Why do some seek God for hours a night, while others are content to watch the Simpsons? They are both given sufficient grace so what is the difference?”

    This is assuming that all people are beneficiaries of an equal “sufficient grace”.

    “”Anyway, it seems that you are saying that sanctification, regeneration, and justification happen simultaneously. If that is the case, then you must also believe that all three of these works of God are “by faith” [since justification is clearly by faith] which would mean that, logically speaking, faith must precede all three works of God. Is that what you believe?”

    No I believe faith is a product (fruit) of being regenerated. Once one has been born again faith, justification and sanctification begin. My simple point was that once one has been that regeneration is needed for faith in Christ, however drawing sharp sequential lines of the order are rather superflous because the events occur nearly simultaniously. Again, the issue is who initiates or rather who is free in the process of deciding who is regenerated…the sinner or the Spirit.

  12. Hey Bob,

    You said,

    “I think it was more of an issue of snide comments like this”

    I wasn’t trying to be snide. I was just reminding you that if you wanted me to answer what you believed to be an unanswerable question, it was only fair that I should expect you to answer mine, which to that point you had not. I would also suggest that some people might find comments like “(chuckle)…I think you avoided this because you don’t really have an answer…honestly no synergist does” to be a bit on the snide side as well.

    “If you are implying by “fail” to be lose their salvation I do not agree, they never were Christians if they do not persevere.”

    No, I was not implying that if a believer fails to resist temptation, and sins, he has immediately lost his or her salvation. Neither would I suggest that if a believer sins, it proves that he or she was never a Christian to begin with. Is that what you believe?

    Bob: “Well grace isn’t the only factor we do have wills. The issue is that WITHOUT God’s grace we will ALWAYS will to sin.”

    I agree. Hence the doctrine of prevenient grace.

    Bob: “Now as far as Christians living less holy lives than others, that is completely owing to their own choices (which God has allowed them to make) while those who are living at a greater sanctity are living such because the chose to and that due to the grace of God.”

    When you say things like “God has allowed”, you are using the language of libertarian free will. I thought you rejected that view.

    When you say “while those who are living at a greater sanctity are living such because the chose to and that due to the grace of God” I think you have effectively answered the unanswerable question you posed. One gets saved, and the other does not, because as a creature made in God’s image, and capable of genuine choice, one chose to submit to God’s grace, and the other did not. Since you seem to see no merit within the context of how Christians respond to God’s grace differently, then I am unsure how you can assign merit when one unbeliever responds differently to God’s grace than the other. Please explain.

    Bob: “So in light of the sovereignty of God I would say that God is also sovereign over the sin in those being sanctified and is working it for their ultimate good.”

    When you say that God is sovereign over sin, do you mean that he caused that sin? It would seem so considering your next comment:

    “though it is still sin and brought about by their choice.”

    Now I know you added this little tid-bit to try to get God off the hook for sovereignly causing sin, as your previous comment implies; however, the only way you can succeed here is by viewing “choice” in a libertarian sense. So, are you a libertarian or a compatibilist? Please explain.

    Bob: “This is assuming that all people are beneficiaries of an equal “sufficient grace”.

    If the grace is “sufficient” it doesn’t matter if it is “equal” now does it?

    Bob: “No I believe faith is a product (fruit) of being regenerated. Once one has been born again faith, justification and sanctification begin. My simple point was that once one has been that regeneration is needed for faith in Christ, however drawing sharp sequential lines of the order are rather superflous because the events occur nearly simultaniously. Again, the issue is who initiates or rather who is free in the process of deciding who is regenerated…the sinner or the Spirit.”

    Bob, did you read my post? When you say, “Once one has been born again faith, justification and sanctification begin.” You are also saying that God can give life to someone before they are justified (forgiven, made righteousness on the merits of Christ blood). Until we are justified, we are still in our sins. How can we have life while still in the sins that cause death?

    You also said,

    “My simple point was that once one has been that regeneration is needed for faith in Christ, however drawing sharp sequential lines of the order are rather superflous because the events occur nearly simultaniously.”

    Faith cannot be the result of regeneration if one cannot have life until the sin is removed (justification). Since justification is “by faith”, then faith must precede regeneration. You may think the sequential order is superflous, but tell that to your Calvinist heritage that has always made a big deal of the “ordo salutis”. The issue is not whether or not the events happen “nearly simultaneously”. Even without any temporal consideration, the logical order is very important. See my post for details.

  13. “No, I was not implying that if a believer fails to resist temptation, and sins, he has immediately lost his or her salvation. Neither would I suggest that if a believer sins, it proves that he or she was never a Christian to begin with. Is that what you believe?

    Not at all. I believe if someone who once professed to be saved and then after some time walks away and denies Christ that person never was saved. We don’t step in and out of salvation like the hokey pokey, if you are a new creation you will persevere, that is the evidence that you are saved, perseverence.

    “And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” (Heb 3:6)

    The structure of the sentence leaves little to doubt. We “are” (present tense) His house (Christ’s, and therefore saved) if we hold fast our confidence to the end. In other words to say it negatively, you are not Christs house presently if you do not hold fast to the end.

    “When you say things like “God has allowed”, you are using the language of libertarian free will. I thought you rejected that view.”

    Well, I say allowed because sin is of course repugnant to God. Yet, he is sovereign over our sinning.

    “When you say “while those who are living at a greater sanctity are living such because the chose to and that due to the grace of God” I think you have effectively answered the unanswerable question you posed. “

    Not at all, we are talking about apples and oranges here. Sanctification and regeneration are not the same thing. I say when God calls a sinner He does so effectively, and the fact that there are people who say “Yes” to the call of God is because they are called and those whom God calls WILL COME. So this is monergistic, regeneration is a gift. It is this gift that gives birth to our affirming choices of Christ, not the other way around.

    On the other hand the sanctification is different. All the passages you are using are dealing sanctification, I have no problem talking about people “fighting” sin and mortifying the deeds of the flesh and making real choices, that’s not the issue at all. The issue is that God has enabled us to make those choices by blessing us with new birth and His Spirit.

    You are saying we need to make a choice prior to the new birth and the indwelling of the Spirit, in effect the “call” of God is only effective IF man says “yes”. Well again why do some say yes to the call and others say no?

    That seems drastically in conflict with what the Bible says about the call of God, I humbly submit Christs teaching in John 6 which angered many:

    “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” (Jn 6:39)

    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 will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me–
    (Jn 6:44-45)

    My point in submitting these passages is that Christ saw the call of God as effectual, it does not fail to bring those on whom it is bestowed into the kingdom. To say otherwise is to in effect say that Christ failed to fulfill the will of the Father in v39.

    Moving on,
    “When you say that God is sovereign over sin, do you mean that he caused that sin? It would seem so considering your next comment:

    “though it is still sin and brought about by their choice.”

    How do you get that I think God causes in out of that? I am honestly rather baffled. My point is that God’s activity in regards to sin is ALWAYS restraint, without His restraint men would dive head first into sinful actions. So, all He does is leave us to our free will, that I think is the “hardening” of Pharoah the Bible speaks of, he left Pharoah to his “free will”.

    “You are also saying that God can give life to someone before they are justified (forgiven, made righteousness on the merits of Christ blood). Until we are justified, we are still in our sins. How can we have life while still in the sins that cause death?”

    In one word, grace. You see when we are born again we are not “dead in sins” anymore but are alive and able to see. Where once God seemed annoying and dull, He now (by regeneration) is lovely and desireable. On that basis we choose Christ. You want to make the choice in effect meritorious. This is simply the order of entering the kingdom Christ Himself lasy out:

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

    The straitforward understanding is that we need to be regenerated in order to even enter the the kingdom, or have any positive volition towards it (choose). That said what you said above is not a prper description, we are not talking about people dead in their sins choosing Christ (that is Arminianism) we are talking about regenerated people on the basis of the Spirit’s work turning to Christ and becomming justified.

    “Faith cannot be the result of regeneration if one cannot have life until the sin is removed (justification). “

    Where do you get that from? Justification is a legal declaration before God, it is the Spirit that gives life not declarations in the tribunal of heaven.

    Taken as a whole you argue:

    “Faith cannot be the result of regeneration if one cannot have life until the sin is removed (justification). Since justification is “by faith”, then faith must precede regeneration.”

    That really doesn’t make any sense, you seem to be smushing justification ond regeneration together. Again Christ taught the new birth preceeds entering the kingdom. Also, justification is a legal declaration before God, it is not the life giving change the Spirit brings about, nor does it necessarily preceed the life giving work of the Spirit. You can only reach that sort of a view if you view Christ’s work as only potentially effective. Whereas, the Reformed view is that the Spirit is now merely applying the blessings Christ has purchased for us.

    “You may think the sequential order is superflous, but tell that to your Calvinist heritage that has always made a big deal of the “ordo salutis”. The issue is not whether or not the events happen “nearly simultaneously”. Even without any temporal consideration, the logical order is very important. See my post for details.”

    I agree, this isn’t superflous, the order of justification and regeneration is what seperates theology that attributes all glory for salvation to God and that which has man as the final arbiter of salvation.

  14. uh oh another blog succumbs to the beast of “moderation”…I have a feeling I know where this is going…

  15. Hey Bob,

    I am away at training all week and will not be returning to work (the only place I have internet access) until Mon. I am at a library right now and was just checking to see if any comments were left. I will respond to your recent comments sometime next week.

    It has been my goal to never use comment moderation. Unfortunately, a certian very strange fellow began to become very disrespectful and insulting in my comments section. He refused to stop dropping comments and the contents of his comments were very inappropriate. None of them were in any way related to the subject matter of my posts. For this reason, I have activated moderation. You said,

    “uh oh another blog succumbs to the beast of “moderation”…I have a feeling I know where this is going…”

    Not sure what you mean by this comment, but I assure you that I will always post your comments. I am not trying to hide from anything.

    See ya next week.

    Ben

    If you want to get a better feel for why I activated moderation, look at the comment section in “Is Arminian Theology Synergistic” and the last few comments of “Does John 6:44 teach irresistible grace?” The comments are by a guy named “Micky”.

  16. Hey thanks, for the reassurance, what are you training for anyway?

  17. Hey Bob,

    Sorry for the delay. I had to get caught up on some things, and wanted to get a new post up before doing anything else.

    You said,

    “Well, I say allowed because sin is of course repugnant to God. Yet, he is sovereign over our sinning.”

    Again, words like “allowed” imply libertarian free will. Please explain how you define the word “allowed” in the context of determinism.

    You said,

    “Not at all, we are talking about apples and oranges here. Sanctification and regeneration are not the same thing. I say when God calls a sinner He does so effectively, and the fact that there are people who say “Yes” to the call of God is because they are called and those whom God calls WILL COME. So this is monergistic, regeneration is a gift. It is this gift that gives birth to our affirming choices of Christ, not the other way around…You are saying we need to make a choice prior to the new birth and the indwelling of the Spirit, in effect the “call” of God is only effective IF man says “yes”. Well again why do some say yes to the call and others say no?”

    The reason you see apples and oranges is because you have already presupposed the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity, and defined it in such a way that one cannot believe the gospel unless irresistibly regenerated. That is a rather clear case of begging the question.

    My view is that man can indeed respond to God’s grace even in his sinful state. The reason for that is because God graciously enables the bound sinner to respond. That is what prevenient grace means. Once a sinner is enabled by God’s grace, he can either submit to the Spirit’s conviction and exercise saving faith or he can resist the Spirit’s conviction and continue in his bondage. The one who exercises faith has no more room to boast over the other, than a believer has room to boast over a fellow believer who does not submit to God’s grace to the same degree. The believer also has no room to boast because of the nature of saving faith itself (see my post “The Nature of Saving Faith”).

    The Calvinist view that being “dead in sin” means that one cannot even respond to God’s grace is an overstraining of Biblical metaphor. I agree that a person who is dead in sins can only respond to the influences presented to him. If God did not intervene, then the one dead in sin could respond only to his sinful nature, and the influences of Satan and the corrupt world. Those would be his only choices.

    However, when the Spirit of God begins to work in the sinner’s heart there begins a new influence to which he can then respond. There is no reason to believe that the grace of God cannot override the sinful nature without first regenerating the sinner. I think reformed thinkers are very inconsistent in the way they view Biblical metaphors. They insist that being “dead in sin” and a “slave to sin” means that a sinner cannot possibly respond to God’s grace, while at the same time affirming that the believer who is “dead to sins” and a “slave to righteousness” can certainly respond to his sinful nature and to satanic influence. Why the inconsistency?

    Look at it this way:

    The unregenerate sinner “dead in sin” and a “slave to sin”, though crippled by sin, can still respond to the Holy Spirit (prevenient grace) through divine enablement.

    The regenerate believer “dead to sin” and a “salve to righteousness”, though empowered by the Holy Spirit, can still respond to the sinful nature.

    You said,

    “That seems drastically in conflict with what the Bible says about the call of God, I humbly submit Christs teaching in John 6 which angered many:

    “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” (Jn 6:39)

    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 will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me– (Jn 6:44-45)”

    I humbly submit that you have misapprehended Jesus’ words in John 6. If

    You are right to connect John 6:44 with 45. However John 6:45 teaches that it is not only those who are “taught” by the Father, but also those who “listen” and “learn” from the Father, who “come” to the Son. This illustrates the “influence and response” nature of the “drawing” in John 6:44.

    The “drawing” of these passages cannot have reference to irresistible regeneration. If that were the case then Jesus would be saying in essence that no one can “come” to Him unless they are first given life [drawn]. That is what you seem to believe Jesus is saying. If that is the case then regeneration [drawing] is the cause, and “coming” to Jesus is the result of being regenerated. What then do you make of John 5:40? “…you refuse to come to me to have life.” Here it is quite clear that “come” is the necessary condition for attaining life. One must first come before they can have life. This is the opposite of what you believe Jesus is teaching in Jn.6:44; that one must first be given life before he can come. This is a clear indication that the drawing of John. 6:44 cannot possibly be a reference to irresistible regeneration. When you insist that regeneration must precede “coming”, you are stating exactly the opposite of what Christ taught in John 5:40. However, if the drawing of John 6:44 is a reference to resistible prevenient grace, then there is no conflict. For more deatil see my posts on Jhn. 6:44 and John 12:32.

    You said,

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

    “The straitforward understanding is that we need to be regenerated in order to even enter the the kingdom, or have any positive volition towards it (choose). That said what you said above is not a prper description, we are not talking about people dead in their sins choosing Christ (that is Arminianism) we are talking about regenerated people on the basis of the Spirit’s work turning to Christ and becomming justified.”

    Please see my post on John 3:3,6 for an alterantive exegesis.

    You said,

    “That really doesn’t make any sense, you seem to be smushing justification ond regeneration together.”

    No, I am not smushing them together. What I am saying is that one must be justified before they can be given new life. If you read my post then I think you would understand why I believe that. I also believe that justification is more than just a “Justification is a legal declaration before God…in the tribunal of heaven.” That is rather simplified. Justification also involves forgiveness as the blood of Christ is applied to the sinner. Py point is that no one can have new life before the sin problem is dealt with.

    You said,

    “I agree, this isn’t superflous, the order of justification and regeneration is what seperates theology that attributes all glory for salvation to God and that which has man as the final arbiter of salvation.”

    Of course I do not agree with this characterization. God is the one who sovereignly decided that he would save believers. He is the determiner of salvation. We merely decide if we will submit to the God ordained condition of faith.

    My training was for ACE, a Christian education curriculum.

    I didn’t address your comments on perseverance because I didn’t want this discussion to branch out into too many directions. I will evetually write some posts on that subject and you are more than welcomed to challenge my conclusions then.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  18. I enjoy reading your posts. They are thoughtful and informative. I look forward to each post.

  19. 1 Conservative Voice,

    Thanks for the compliment. I am very happy to hear that you have gotten something beneficial from my posts.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  20. I faith precedes regeneration than does that mean that a person can believe in Jesus and be condemned?

    That would go counter John 3:18 which says that He who believes in Him is not condemned.

    If one is not condemned then one is saved? If that then is true then how can I be saved without being regenerate/reborn?

  21. “I faith precedes regeneration than does that mean that a person can believe in Jesus and be condemned?”

    No.

    “That would go counter John 3:18 which says that He who believes in Him is not condemned.”

    Only if the answer to the first question was “yes”.

    “If one is not condemned then one is saved?”

    Yes

    “If that then is true then how can I be saved without being regenerate/reborn?”

    You can’t. Not sure what any of this has to do with my post. I have never maintained that one can be saved apart from the new birth. I have only argued that Scripture is quite clear that God regenerates the sinner only after he has met the God ordained condition of faith. When I say “after” I am speaking of logical and not temporal sequence. That is usually how Calvinists view the ordo salutis as well [though some believe that one can be regenerated for a period of time before believing].

    Logically speaking, then, we could state the opposing views as follows:

    Calvinism: The sinner believes the moment God regenerates him.

    Arminianism: God regenerates the sinner the moment he believes.

    The Arminian, then, does not believe that any time elapses between believing and being regenerated, only that the logical order is faith first [as the God ordained necessary condition] and then regeneration.

    The Calvinist believes that regeneration not only precedes faith [logically or temporally], but causes faith as well.

    Therefore, there is no such thing as a believer that has not yet [temporally] been regenerated in Arminian theology.

  22. So if you have faith you are regenerate, you can not have faith and not be regenerate and you can not be regenerate without faith.

    You are saying that faith comes first, but that no time elapses between faith and regeneration.

    We may differ on this, but it is clear that we a brothers in Christ.

    God Bless

  23. Ben, I am coming from the position that the unregenerate are hostile to God. Spelled HATE. John 3:19-20 and Romans 1:18 through the third chapter speak to this matter. In fact Romans 8:7 says that the carnal mind is enmity against God, His very enemy! How does one in such a state repent and believe w/o regeneration, the new heart with new desires placed within?

  24. Mark,

    Let me ask you a few questions about the Scriptures you reference.

    John 3:19-20- what do you make of verse 21 in light of your understanding of verses 19-20?

    Romans 1:18- what do you make of Rom. 2:14-15 in light of your understanding of Rom. 1:18?

    Romans 8:7- Does not Rom. 8:1,9-11 imply that one can only overcome the sinful nature and escape condemnation through union with Christ and by the indwelling Spirit of Christ? Does not the Bible also plainly state that we come to be “in Christ” through faith [Eph. 1:13; 3:16]? What reason do have for believing that God cannot enable the hostile carnal mind to submit to the gospel call by way of the poweful conviction of the Holy Spirit? Why do you insist that this can only happen by way of irresistible regeneration contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture that one cannot experience life outside of union with Christ, and that one comes to be in union with Him through faith? Aren’t you then limiting God by insisting He must first regenerate a sinner in order to then give him faith?

  25. Ben, first off, check out my Sept. 12 entry at my blog.

    Secondly, that first time you posted at my blog was under the “Preach Repentance” post. In that post I mention that all of what Christ accomplished on the cross is ours through the Holy Spirit, which is shed abundantly upon us because of that sacrifce. He gives us the new heart, with new desires, Ezek. 36:26. Faith is a gift, Eph. 2:8; 1 John 5:1. Repentance is a gift, Acts 5:31, 11:18; 2 Tim.2:25. All of these are bestowed on God’s elect and are the result of Christ’s sacrifice.

    Mark

  26. Ben,

    Good stuff! I’ve really enjoyed it. If you ever have some extra time check out a debate that I had with a Calvinist brother Here. We never finished but Lord willing we will pick it up one of these days.

  27. Nick,

    Thanks for stopping by. I have looked at your debate and am really enjoying it so far. I also like the web-site it is located at. Glad you are enjoying the posts.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  28. kangeroodort,

    Nice post although I will have to disagree with the order of salvation you set forth. It is my understanding of the Arminian position that before a person can receive the gift of faith that they must receive prevenient grace. Is that correct? Prevenient grace would then allow the person to understand and respond to the gospel. That sounds very much like regeneration to me.

    By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog and posting your comments.

  29. Hello Tom,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Nice post although I will have to disagree with the order of salvation you set forth.

    Could you then explain how we can experience new life prior to being forgiven or joined [through faith] to the only source of eternal life-Jesus Christ?

    It is my understanding of the Arminian position that before a person can receive the gift of faith that they must receive prevenient grace.

    I believe that the sinner must hear the gospel and be convicted by the Holy Spirit before being capable of response. I believe that faith is a gift only in the sense that God must first enable the sinner to believe.

    Prevenient grace would then allow the person to understand and respond to the gospel.

    Yes.

    That sounds very much like regeneration to me.

    The difference is that the Holy Spirit can enable a faith response without regenerating the person. There are too many theological and exegetical problems with believing that regeneration precedes faith [as I described in my post].

    Lydia and Cornelius serve as examples of how God can prepare the heart to respond to the gospel prior to regeneration. In Lydia’s case we see that the Lord “opened her heart” to respond to Paul’s message. The text does not say that the Lord regenerated her, nor does it say that He gave her a new heart. It only says that her heart was “opened” to respond. If God can open Lydia’s unregenerated heart to respond to the gospel, then it follows that there is no reason to believe that one must first be regenerated in order to believe.

    Hope that helps.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  30. I believe that the sinner must hear the gospel and be convicted by the Holy Spirit before being capable of response. I believe that faith is a gift only in the sense that God must first enable the sinner to believe.

    I agree with these statements. But neither helps much because there is something that must happen before being convicted. Arminians would say that it is Prevenient Grace and Calvinists would say that it is Regeneration. I know that there are some differences but I think these may be actually describing the same thing.

    The difference is that the Holy Spirit can enable a faith response without regenerating the person.

    How can this be? Do you believe in total depravity…in spiritual deadness? If so, then what good is faith to a spiritually dead person? Life must be restored before the gift of faith can do any good.

    In Lydia’s case we see that the Lord “opened her heart” to respond to Paul’s message. The text does not say that the Lord regenerated her, nor does it say that He gave her a new heart. It only says that her heart was “opened” to respond. If God can open Lydia’s unregenerated heart to respond to the gospel, then it follows that there is no reason to believe that one must first be regenerated in order to believe.

    The question becomes what was involved in “opening” Lydia’s heart. If Lydia was truly spiritually dead (as all unregenerate people are) then before her heart could be “opened” it must be given life (i.e. regenerated). It is true that the text does not say that she was regenerated but it is implied.

  31. Tom,

    You wrote:

    Arminians would say that it is Prevenient Grace and Calvinists would say that it is Regeneration. I know that there are some differences but I think these may be actually describing the same thing.

    They are similar only in that they are both considered a necessary work of God prior to conversion. They are very different with regards to the nature of that work.

    How can this be? Do you believe in total depravity…in spiritual deadness? If so, then what good is faith to a spiritually dead person? Life must be restored before the gift of faith can do any good.

    These assumptions are based on a misunderstanding of what it means to be “dead in sins”. I believe in total depravity, but I also believe in the power of God’s grace to overcome that depravity. See the following links for why I find the Calvinistic understanding of “dead in sin” unbiblical:

    http://arminianperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/09/fletcher-on-being-dead-in-sin-part-2.html

    http://arminianperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/09/john-fletcher-on-being-dead-in-sin.html

    It is true that the text does not say that she was regenerated but it is implied.

    It is only implied if one is already committed to the system of Calvinism. The Bible nowhere describes regeneration as a necessary work prior to faith. The Bible does, however, describe the new life as the result of faith as I described in my post.

    The question you need to grapple with is how God can grant life [regenerate] prior to justification [forgiveness], and how God can grant life outside of saving union with Jesus Christ- the only source of life. The Bible is clear that both justification and union with Christ are “by faith”.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  32. Ben said

    I believe in total depravity, but I also believe in the power of God’s grace to overcome that depravity.

    I agree with this. God overcomes the depravity of men by regeneration. Otherwise, it is up to the individual to overcome his own depravity. These are the only two options: either God overcomes the man’s depravity or man overcomes his depravity himself.

    I read your post where John Fletcher discusses being dead in sin. He makes an argument of degrees of deadness. He actually compares physical death with something that no longer functions and we describe as being dead. This is not a valid comparison. The fact that words can have different meanings depending on the contest only proves that the context must be examined.

    Spiritual deadness means that the person has no ability to come to God until God restores life. There is no remnant of life.

    Ben said

    The Bible nowhere describes regeneration as a necessary work prior to faith.

    Ephesians 2:4-5 says “(4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (5) even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” This seems to be very straight forward in the description of what God does. While we are dead He makes us alive.

    On a lighter side, I appreciate your willingness to discuss this (and other) issue. We may not agree but it is a fun discussion and is very helpful to me.

    Tom

  33. Tom,

    You wrote:

    I agree with this. God overcomes the depravity of men by regeneration. Otherwise, it is up to the individual to overcome his own depravity.

    I don’t see how it follows that man must overcome his own depravity when I have clearly stated that he is dependent on God’s grace. See the following quote from my last post:

    I believe in total depravity, but I also believe in the power of God’s grace to overcome that depravity.

    You wrote:

    I read your post where John Fletcher discusses being dead in sin. He makes an argument of degrees of deadness. He actually compares physical death with something that no longer functions and we describe as being dead. This is not a valid comparison. The fact that words can have different meanings depending on the contest only proves that the context must be examined.

    Did you read “Part 2” where I deal with the context of these passages and the Ephesians passage you quote below?

    Here is the link:

    http://arminianperspectives.blogspot.com/2007/09/fletcher-on-being-dead-in-sin-part-2.html

    You have not yet addressed the questions I asked regarding the theological need for faith to precede regeneration. This was the topic of this post. Here is the question again from my last comment:

    The question you need to grapple with is how God can grant life [regenerate] prior to justification [forgiveness], and how God can grant life outside of saving union with Jesus Christ- the only source of life. The Bible is clear that both justification and union with Christ are “by faith”.

    On a lighter side, I appreciate your willingness to discuss this (and other) issue. We may not agree but it is a fun discussion and is very helpful to me.

    I enjoy it too, I just wish I had more time to devote to it.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  34. […] Does Regeneration Precede Faith? […]

  35. […] I would invite Gordan to read the post I wrote concerning the drawing of John 12:32 compared with the drawing of John 6:44. I would especially like to see him grapple with the theological absurdities I exposed in his position that regeneration precedes faith in my post “Does Regeneration Precede Faith?”. […]

  36. […] Gives Me Props And Rebukes At Reformed Mafia « Arminian Perspectives on Does Regeneration Precede Faith?Tackling Tough Calvinist Questions « Arminian Perspectives on Prevenient Grace and Libertarian […]

  37. So, are you saying that righteousness is prior to regeneration?
    Read Habakkuk 2:4.

  38. josh,

    I am saying that forgiveness is logically prior to regeneration. Otherwise, you have sinners being granted new life logically prior to being a believer which is contradicted by many Scriptures. Do you believe that we can have new life in Christ before being forgiven of our sin? If we can be given new life in Christ before sin is removed in our lives, then why was the cross necessary?

    Not sure what you expect me to see in Habakkuk 2:4. Feel free to explain.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  39. Ben,
    I don’t not believe that we can have new life in Christ before being forgiven. That’s unscriptural to think so.
    But the reason for me asking the question is because I feel that in order to have faith you have to be righteous.
    So what I’m saying is that you cannot have faith before regeneration.
    Because to say this then you must believe that the unregenerate can have faith.
    When Jesus says “You of little faith,” what littler faith does the unregenerate have that is enough to bring them to regeneration?
    Also, I would ask, do believe that man is able to have faith along with his hostility(Romans 8:7) before regeneration?
    And “the righteous will live by his faith” in Habakkuk 2:4 is what I see as showing that to have faith you must be righteous or just. You can also read that in Romans 1:17.

    Curious to hear your thoughts.

  40. Josh,

    Faith does not come because of righteousness, it’s the other way around, righteousness comes by faith. Scripture call it, “…the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” (Romans 3:22)

    It is true that the natural man cannot be subject to the law of God, as Romans 8:7 states, but salvation is not by the law, but through the grace of God bringing one to faith in Christ.

  41. Josh,

    I don’t not believe that we can have new life in Christ before being forgiven. That’s unscriptural to think so.

    Then you must believe that faith precedes regeneration. We are justified (forgiven and made righteous) by faith. Therefore, if we cannot have new life in Christ (regeneration) prior to being forgiven, we cannot have new life (regeneration) prior to having faith (since we are justified [forgiven and made righteous] by faith).

    But the reason for me asking the question is because I feel that in order to have faith you have to be righteous.

    If we needed to be righteous prior to having faith than how can Paul say that righteousness is credited to those who have faith (on the basis of that faith) and that we are justified by faith? God justifies us (makes us righteous) when we believe in Him. Even Calvinists admit to that. You are claiming that one is given life and made righteous prior to believing. How then are we saved or justified by faith as the Scripture everywhere testifies?

    Look at Rom. 4:3 (also see Rom. 4:5, 9, 22). Abraham’s faith is credited as righteousness. That means that Abraham is considered righteous because he trusted God. He did not trust God because he was already righteous. Rom. 4:13 tells us that we receive the promises through the “righteousness of faith” which clearly means the righteousness that results from faith.

    In Rom. 5:1 Paul tells us that we are justified (forgiven and made righteous) by faith. Paul teaches the same thing in Galatians 2:16; 3:6, 8 and 11. Look at verse 11 as it is nearly identical to Rom. 1:17,

    “Now that no one is justified by the law is evident; for ‘the righteous man shall live by faith.'”

    Think about what Paul is saying here. He is saying that no one is made righteous by following the law because righteousness comes by faith. The law does not justify, faith does. So Paul is saying that we are justified and made righteous by faith rather than by observing the law. He is not saying that one cannot believe unless they are first made righteous. The same thing is being said in Rom. 1:17,

    “For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith'”

    Look at that phrase, “from faith to faith.” (the NIV translates it as “by faith from first to last”) It is both true that we become righteous by faith in Christ and that the righteous man lives by faith. We can know that a man who is living by faith is righteous because one can only become righteous by faith. In other words, the question is how do we become righteous and live righteously in God’s sight? The answer is “by faith.”

    Also, I would ask, do believe that man is able to have faith along with his hostility(Romans 8:7) before regeneration?

    Arminians believe that no one can exercise faith in God apart from God’s grace working in that individual. God gives us the grace and power needed to turn from our hostility to faith in Christ. However, this grace is not irresistible, and it is not regeneration.

    Hope that helps.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  42. Ben ,
    You bring up a very good point. And this is why I’m not Calvinist.

    I have a Calvinists friend who said it this way,

    “If we compare Ephesians 2:1-5 with Romans 8:5-8, we can see that we are born corrupt, inclined to do the desires of the flesh. This mean, according to Romans 8, that our minds are set on death, because we are hostile towards God, **NOT ABLE** to subject ourselves to His law nor please Him.

    Take a minute to think about that.

    If we cannot subject ourselves to His law while our mind is set on the desires of the flesh, and all our minds have been set on the desires of the flesh due to our sinful nature, how does anyone have a mind of the spirit apart from God monergistically making us alive?
    Would not He have to MAKE our minds set on the things of the spirit?
    Wouldn’t He have to do this ALONE, as any synergism would cause Him to be pleased with us while we are in the flesh?
    Wouldn’t choosing God while in the flesh be pleasing to Him, the very thing Paul says is impossible?

    Add to all this that Paul writes we are made alive WHILE DEAD in sin and I do not see how anyone can believe we can have faith prior to being made alive. This life is not eternal life of which Paul speaks, but life that frees one from sin’s bonds.”

    Would you agree with him? Do you think he rejects Romans 3:22?

    Curious to hear your thoughts.

  43. Josh,

    I am out of time for today but I will respond sometime tomorrow.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  44. Thanks Ben for taking time to respond to my messages. I’ve only been studying Calvinism and Arminianism for about a couple weeks and there is sure lots to think about.
    This is one thing that is just now beginning to make sense.
    Correct me if I’m wrong: the Arminian believes that justification is prior to regeneration, and the Calvinist believes that regeneration is prior to justification.
    Do I have that right?
    -Josh

  45. Josh,
    You wrote,

    I have a Calvinists friend who said it this way,
    “If we compare Ephesians 2:1-5 with Romans 8:5-8, we can see that we are born corrupt, inclined to do the desires of the flesh. This mean, according to Romans 8, that our minds are set on death, because we are hostile towards God, **NOT ABLE** to subject ourselves to His law nor please Him.

    Take a minute to think about that.

    It is good to compare Scripture with Scripture, but we need to be careful that we are not comparing Scripture with Scripture while divorcing those passages from their context. We also need to try to develop our theology according to what the word of God teaches, rather than read our theology into certain passages.

    Eph. 2:1-5 describes the sinful state of unbelievers before coming to faith in Christ. Being “dead” in sins has no reference to inability. It describes a state of separation from the source of life- Jesus Christ. Because our sin separates us from Christ we are spiritually “dead” (in the same way our natural “death” signals the “separation” of the spirit from the body). The context bears this out. Look at verse 12,

    “…remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

    Dead = separation, exclusion, alienation (cf. Col. 1:21). How do we come to be alive again? Through union with Jesus Christ,

    “But now in Christ Jesus you who were formally far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13), for “in [Him] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph. 1:7)
    Compare Col. 2:13,

    “When you were dead [separated from God] in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together [union] with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” Notice also that we are “made alive” as a result of being forgiven (justified).

    How do we come to be in union with Christ and move from death to life?

    Look at Col. 2:12,

    “…having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”

    And Eph. 1:13,

    “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation- having also believed you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

    By virtue of being in Christ we receive all of the spiritual blessings that reside in Him (Eph. 1:3) which includes election (1:4), justification (1:7), sanctification (1:4), and spiritual life (2:5, 6), all of which results from our union with Christ through faith (1:13; 2:8; 3:11, 12, 13).

    So being dead in sin is a reference to our state of being and not our inability and our state of being (dead) changes only when we come to be in union with Christ (the source of life) through faith in Him.

    Calvinist will often say that being dead in sin means that we function like a spiritual corpse and can therefore not hear or respond to the gospel. But the Bible does not define spiritual death this way and if it did then someone who is “dead” in sin should not be able to resist or reject the gospel either, since corpses can’t reject or resist anything. Clearly, they are misunderstanding what it means to be “dead” in sin. In fact, Christ said that the “dead” would indeed “hear” unto life,

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” (Jn. 5:25)

    This is no doubt the “hearing of faith” by which Paul tells us that we receive the Holy Spirit (through whom the life of Christ is communicated and Christ comes to dwell in our hearts “by faith”- see Eph. 3:17 and Gal. 3:2, 5).

    Look at the sequence in John 5:25: dead–> hear–> live. There is no other “live” before “dead” as Calvinists assert. If one must first “live” to hear unto life, then how can Christ say the “dead” will hear unto life? That would no longer be true because they are made alive to hear. Christ would have to say that those who “live” hear unto life, which is the exact opposite of what He says.

    If we cannot subject ourselves to His law while our mind is set on the desires of the flesh, and all our minds have been set on the desires of the flesh due to our sinful nature, how does anyone have a mind of the spirit apart from God monergistically making us alive? Would not He have to MAKE our minds set on the things of the spirit?

    No. God needs only to enable us to believe in Him by convicting us of sin and unbelief (Jn. 16:8-11). “Convicting” really means “convincing.” In other words, the Holy Spirit convinces us that we are sinners and unbelievers and thereby reveals our need for a Savior. We can either yield to this revelation and divine enablement, or we can resist it. If it were irresistible, then the “world” would be saved since the Holy Spirit will convict the “world.”

    Wouldn’t He have to do this ALONE, as any synergism would cause Him to be pleased with us while we are in the flesh? Wouldn’t choosing God while in the flesh be pleasing to Him, the very thing Paul says is impossible?

    We do not put faith in Christ “in the flesh” but under the powerful influencing and enabling of the Holy Spirit. Therefore we certainly do not trust in Christ “alone.” We are not pleasing to God until we trust in Him, but we cannot trust in Him apart from divine enabling. God is pleased with us when we come to be in union with His Son, and we come to be in union with His Son by faith.

    Both Calvinism and Arminianism recognize the need for God to intervene before we can believe in Him. The difference between the two systems is that Calvinism teaches that this intervention is irresistible (always produces faith) while Arminianism teaches that it is resistible (does not always produce faith).

    Add to all this that Paul writes we are made alive WHILE DEAD in sin and I do not see how anyone can believe we can have faith prior to being made alive.

    Because the Bible does not equate God’s divine enablement with regeneration and because the Bible nowhere speaks of possessing spiritual life (of any sort) prior to believing. Rather, the Bible everywhere describes faith and repentance as the condition for receiving life.

    This life is not eternal life of which Paul speaks, but life that frees one from sin’s bonds.”

    I know that this is what Calvinism teaches, but it is based on a misunderstanding of what it means to be “dead in sin.” The Bible nowhere speaks of another sort of “life” that comes prior to faith and then another sort of “life” which comes after. This “life” prior to faith is based on philosophical assumptions within the system of Calvinism and not on the clear teaching of Scripture. Jesus tells us in John 6 that one must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have life. We can only “eat his flesh” and “drink His blood” by faith. Look what Jesus says in John 6:53,

    “So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.’”

    So according to Jesus, until we eat and drink of Him by faith, we have no spiritual life in us whatsoever. When we keep reading in verses 56-58 we see again that one shares in Christ’s “life” through union with Him (“abides in Me, and I in Him”).

    Would you agree with him? Do you think he rejects Romans 3:22?

    I think he misunderstands Rom. 3:22 because his theology will not allow him to accept its implications.

    Hope that helps.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  46. Josh,

    I noticed that I misunderstood you when you said “Wouldn’t He have to do this ALONE”. I thought you meant the person alone whereas it seems you meant God alone. In that case God alone can enable us to believe, but we must yield to that enablement in faith. So faith is synergystic, but we do not believe in God apart from His divine enablement which overcomes our depravity.

    Also, while faith is synergistic, salvation is monergistic. God alone saves when the sinner yields to Him in faith. We do not justify, regenerate, or sanctify ourselves. God alone does and can do those things. The only cooperation (synergism) is in our yielding to God in faith. I have written two posts that deal with this subject. Below are the links if you want to check them out.

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/07/26/the-nature-of-saving-faith/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2007/07/25/is-arminian-theology-synergistic/

    You wrote,

    Correct me if I’m wrong: the Arminian believes that justification is prior to regeneration, and the Calvinist believes that regeneration is prior to justification.

    The main difference is that the Calvinist believes that regeneration precedes faith and the Arminian believes that faith precedes regeneration. Since justification is by faith, the Calvinist then puts regeneration logically prior to justification which is theologically absurd as my post points out.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  47. Hello, I’m Josh’s friend Ryan, the Calvinist with whom he has been discussing. He mentioned this article to me, and now that I see there is a discussion a-brewing over my response, I figure I might as well cut the middle man and join in the fray. This will be a response to the author, who already replied to a portion of the text Josh lifted from my response to his curiosity:

    “Eph. 2:1-5 describes the sinful state of unbelievers before coming to faith in Christ. Being “dead” in sins has no reference to inability.”

    A couple of sentences from now, you mention that we should look at the context of the passage in order to understand Paul’s meaning. I agree. But skipping to verse 12 and claiming separation from the “source of life – Jesus Christ” is what Paul means by one being “dead in sin” is not only arbitrary, it misses the entire section of Paul’s initial statement. Verses 1-10 of Ephesians 2 explains the process by which one dead in sin comes to salvation. You’ll notice verse 11 is the point at which Paul begins to build off of this (“Therefore…”). So to draw an allusion between verse 1 and a verse which is, at best, a part of a 3 verse summary of the previous 10 is hardly representative. To be sure, those dead in sin WERE without Christ, but if we do not look at the immediate context of verse 1, we may restrict ourselves unduly to an inadequate representation of Paul’s phrasing. With this in mind, we should look at verses 2-3 (the ones that expound upon the man who is dead in sin):

    Ephesians 2:2 …you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,
    3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

    All are, by nature, children of wrath, conducting and fulfilling desires of the flesh and mind. What are these desires?

    Romans 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
    7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
    8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    Here we see some similarities between the two passages: the mind and flesh are both mentioned, as is the fact that one whose mind is set on these things is set on death (dead in sins). Remember that Paul said that everyone was in this fleshly state. In verses 7-8, we come to the crux of the matter, the final steps in the progression of learning exactly what it means to be “dead in sin.” One who is dead in sin fulfills the desires of the flesh. One whose mind is set on the flesh is set on death and is hostile toward God. Why? Because it does not subject itself to His law. In fact, it is not even able to do so. Thus, those in the flesh simply cannot please God. If they could, they would have fulfilled some part of God’s law. If that were the case, then the mind must not be hostile toward God. If that were the case, then the mind set on the flesh would NOT be set on death. Working backwards, we can see that it is impossible for it to be the case that the man who is dead in sin can do anything to please God. The fleshly mind prevents it. Any attempt by God to draw one set on the flesh that does not change our mind from one set on the flesh to one set on the spirit will be a failed attempt, because we (still in the flesh) will be unable to please God. In essence, we wouldn’t be able to positively respond to His drawing. Thus, we MUST first be given the mind of the spirit in order to positively respond. After all, would not having faith while being set on the things of the flesh please God, thus contradicting what we just saw in Romans 8:6-8? Or perhaps you think we effect the change in mindset, in which case the question simply shifts: would not wanting to have a mind set on the spirit while actually being in the flesh please God, contradicting Romans 8:6-8? No matter how one looks at it, God must monergistically change our mindset, and that is exactly the bridge that Paul shows is made between Ephesians 2:1-3 and Ephesians 2:4-5.

    Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
    5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

    The word “But” obviously indicates a changing in the mood. We have seen that man is unable to respond to God while dead in sin, and Paul is quick to demonstrate how it is that we are still able to be saved from such a state. God’s mercy and love MADE us alive, even WHILE we were dead. That sentence is loaded with information. First, there’s no hint of synergism here: God wanted us alive because He loved us, and He made us alive by His mercy. He did so **while we were dead.** This means we could not have made any effort in this changing of mindset from one set on flesh and death to one set on the spirit and life. If we would have made any positive response to God, we would again see a contradiction in Romans 8:6-8.

    “How do we come to be alive again? Through union with Jesus Christ…”

    Again? Do you believe we are not born separate from Christ?

    “But now in Christ Jesus you who were formally far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13), for “in [Him] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Eph. 1:7)

    I’m with you as far as redemption and forgiveness proceed from faith. But going back to Ephesians 2:13, break down the verse. We who are in Christ were far off, but have been brought near by His blood. But of course, we cannot be at peace with God without a blood payment. But this is a matter of justification, not regeneration. Reconciliation between ourselves and God does not occur through spiritual rebirth. The charge of sin must be dropped in order for such a reconciliation to happen. Christ’s blood acquits us, hence we are brought near by His blood. I think you are confusing regeneration with justification.

    Compare Col. 2:13, “When you were dead [separated from God] in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together [union] with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.” Notice also that we are “made alive” as a result of being forgiven (justified).

    The one thing I did like about your commentary was the fact that it emphasized that our being raised indicated a union with Christ. It occurred to me that perhaps you are right. Perhaps being made alive does proceed from forgiveness of sin. But then another thought occurred to me: is regeneration synonymous with “being made alive”? It is very often used by Calvinists that way, but the more research I did, the more I have come to think that you are right: there is NO life before justification.

    So I thought to myself: what does this mean? Obviously, as you have already read my rebuttal to Ephesians 2, you will notice I still believe in Total Depravity. Thus, I still believe regeneration precedes faith. But instead of using Ephesians 2:4-5 as the argument, I simply used it to show that we could not have cooperated with God in any way in His making us alive, i.e. monergism. I simply substituted the idea “being made alive” refers to the giving of life after union with Christ via justification (baptism, per Colossians 2:12-13) to demonstrate that our faith could not have been effected by ourselves. It still must have been a gift of God via regeneration, as otherwise we would not be able to come to faith in the first place (which was the point in proving Total Depravity). So thank you for teaching me something new. I’ll have to remember this when modifying my arguments in the future.

    How do we come to be in union with Christ and move from death to life? Look at Col. 2:12, “…having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”

    Agreed – we do come to union through faith.

    And Eph. 1:13, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation- having also believed you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”

    Sealing is not synonymous with regeneration.

    By virtue of being in Christ we receive all of the spiritual blessings that reside in Him (Eph. 1:3) which includes election (1:4), justification (1:7), sanctification (1:4), and spiritual life (2:5, 6), all of which results from our union with Christ through faith (1:13; 2:8; 3:11, 12, 13).

    I cringe when I read this. Not only do none of those latter verses support the causal relationship between unity with Christ and the spiritual blessings, you have essentially forced yourself to uphold an untenable position: one which purports that God learns. If you are declaring God foresees who is in Christ and “elects” those people… to being in Christ… you are declaring that His election from the beginning was based on information God passively obtained, i.e. He saw we would choose Christ and then He elected us. This makes impossible any notion that God had a hand in salvation to begin with, not to mention Romans 8:28-9:23 completely contradicts this notion of election. I hardly know where to start.

    “Clearly, they are misunderstanding what it means to be “dead” in sin. In fact, Christ said that the “dead” would indeed “hear” unto life (John 5:25)”

    Eisegesis, plain and simple. Picking and choosing parts of verses and ignoring the context is unhelpful:

    John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice
    29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

    Jesus is talking about the physically dead, not spiritually dead. He refers to the final judgment.

    This is no doubt the “hearing of faith” by which Paul tells us that we receive the Holy Spirit (through whom the life of Christ is communicated and Christ comes to dwell in our hearts “by faith”- see Eph. 3:17 and Gal. 3:2, 5).

    The funny thing is, not everyone is even ABLE to hear.

    John 8:43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word.
    44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
    45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me.
    46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?
    47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

    We must be of God to hear His word, which only clarifies John 1:12-13

    12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
    13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

    We can receive Him because we were born of God’s will, not ours. Until He regenerates us, we will continue in the flesh (recall Romans 8:6-8), unable to do anything pleasing to God.

  48. Hey Ryan,

    Glad you stopped by. My time is limited so I don’t have a lot of time for a debate which looks like where this may be headed, but I do want to address some of your questions.

    Before I do that, I want to ask you a few questions since this thread deals with the post above. Did you read the post? Do you see a problem with regeneration preceding justification (which includes the forgiveness of sins)? Do you believe that we can possess spiritual life outside of union with Christ? Do you believe that Eph. 1:4 teaches that we are literally “in Christ” before the foundation of the world (before we were born or created)? Or do you believe that Eph. 1:4 teaches that God elected sinners to become believers?

    And lastly, before we get into any kind of a discussion I would ask you to review John chapter 5 again since I believe you have missed the fact that Jesus is not speaking only of physical resurrection in the passage I cited, contrary to your claim.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  49. Ben and Ryan,
    Could you guys give your definition of regeneration?
    -Josh

  50. Josh,

    The word “regeneration” only appears once in Scripture (Titus 3:5), but the concept appears many times. The general theological consensus is that regeneration has reference to the beginning of new life (spiritual life). It is therefore correlated with the new birth and marks the transition form spiritual death to spiritual life. On this both Arminians and Calvinist agree.

    The disagreement is over the nature and purpose of regeneration. Calvinists believe the purpose of regeneration is to make faith possible and inevitable in the elect. Arminians see it as the beginning of life (eternal life) in Christ which is received through faith and not before. So Calvinists see it as another type of life (not the same as “eternal life”) that precedes and makes faith possible and inevitable whereas the Arminian sees it simply as the beginning of salvation (eternal life in Christ), and finds no Scriptural support for the concept that regeneration is ever described as something different and separate from the new spiritual life we come to share in Christ. Hope that helps.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  51. Ryan,

    Since you have banked so much on your interpretation of Rom. 8:5-8, it would be helpful if we first carefully examined the passage in its context. I do not believe that it is at all friendly to your position. In fact, I believe that it lends strong support to my position. Let’s start in chapter 7 since this leads into chapter 8 and helps us to explain what Paul is addressing in the passages you cited.

    In chapter 7 Paul is speaking of the inability of the sinner to meet the requirements of God’s law. However, we need to note that according to Paul the sinner does indeed have the desire to follow the law even though he finds himself incapable of doing it. In fact, he wants to obey the law but the sinful nature makes it impossible for him to fully meet the requirements of the law. He says that in his inner being he delights in God’s law, but the law of sin (the power of his sinful nature) works against his desire to follow the law and makes it impossible for him to do so. So it is wrong to say that being dead in sin means that we do not desire to please God and want only to sin. Rather, as long as we are controlled by the sinful nature, we cannot fulfill the commands of God’s law. To this Paul languishes,

    “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (verse 25)

    This leads us into Rom. 8:1-4,

    “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live in accordance to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

    There are several important things to notice here. First, there is no condemnation “in Christ Jesus.” Only through union with Christ (which is by faith) do we escape condemnation. This is what Paul sees as the solution to the problem described in chapter 7 (note the “therefore”). Notice also that the issue being dealt with in chapter seven and chapter eight is meeting the requirements of the law. It is not dealing with whether or not one can exercise faith in Christ. Look at the second part of verse 3,

    “And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

    This is…

    “because through (or “in”) Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set us free from the law of sin and death.” (verse 2)

    Paul’s point is obvious. Prior to union with Christ we were controlled by the sinful nature and died through our disobedience to the law. We could not meet the holy requirements of the law and could therefore not please a holy God. The solution is to be “in Christ Jesus” so that the sinful nature may be put to death and we can be controlled by the Spirit. Through the Holy Spirit we can meet the holy requirements of the law and please God. Paul is saying that the only way to keep the law of God is through faith union with Christ whereby we receive His Spirit and the power to fulfill God’s law. Paul is not saying anything about an inability to believe in Christ. He is speaking of the inability to obey the law of God prior to being empowered by the Holy Spirit which is in Christ Jesus. Look at verse 9,

    “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised you from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

    This is big, big trouble for your position. We live because the Spirit communicates the life of Christ to us and makes us alive together with Him. How do we receive the Holy Spirit? Remember Galatians 3:2, 5?

    “I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law or by believing what you heard (the “hearing of faith”)…Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

    Uh, oh! We escape the power of the sinful nature and the law of sin and death by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit and we receive the Holy Spirit by faith. Christ dwells in us by the Holy Spirit and Ephesians tells us that He dwells in our hearts by faith (Eph. 3:16, 17; cf. Rom. 8:10).

    So we are justified by faith and we receive the Holy Spirit by faith. Because the Holy Spirit dwells in us we are made alive together with Christ (Rom. 8:10, 11). Now consider your proof text in verses 5-8,

    “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit (through faith) have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit (through faith) is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to his law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (because they cannot live in obedience to Him).”

    Again we see that the issue is not whether or not the sinner has the ability to trust in Christ. In fact, that ability (though God given) is assumed throughout. The issue is whether or not one can submit to and obey the law of God while being controlled by the sinful nature. Paul is emphatic that it is impossible to submit to God’s law and thereby please God while being controlled by the sinful nature. The only way one can fulfill the law of God is by being controlled by the Holy Spirit and only those who are “in Christ Jesus” (by faith) are controlled by the Holy Spirit.

    So Romans 8:5-8 does not support the Calvinistic ordo salutis. Rather, it contradicts it at every turn. It has nothing at all to do with an inability to believe the gospel, but rather is concerned only with the inability to submit to and fulfill the demands of the law while in the flesh. Once someone puts faith in Christ he is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do that which was impossible before, to please God by obeying His holy commandments. Calvinists entirely miss Paul’s point in this discourse because they are desperate to find support for their theological presuppositions. They have read something into Paul’s teaching that is simply not there.

    But it gets even worse as we compare verses 14 and 15 with John 1:12, 13 as you have suggested that we do,

    “…because those who are led by the Spirit are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

    Consider carefully the phrase, “you received the Spirit of sonship.” Only by receiving the Holy Spirit do we become children of God, and we receive the Holy Spirit by faith (Gal. 3:2, 5). Now compare this to John 1:12, 13

    “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name (which simply clarifies how we receive Him, i.e. by faith), he gave the right to become the children of God- children not born of human descent (literally, “of bloods”), nor of human decision or a husbands will, but born of God.”

    This harmonizes perfectly with what Paul says in Rom. 8:14-17. Those who receive Christ by faith become God’s children. Some Calvinists make a big deal out verse 13 as if it means that one does not receive Christ by faith since it speaks of human decision. But this is not John’s point. John’s point is that the new birth is a supernatural act of God given to those who believe in Him. It has nothing to do with heritage as the Jews imagined, but the sovereign act of God who has decided to give life and adoption to those who receive His Son. If the Jews were left to decide the condition of salvation, they would leave it in their heritage (which is proven by the fact that most Jews refused to “receive Him”, verse 11), but God is the one who decides and has made the condition faith in His Son.

    This is the same issue that is being discussed in Rom. 9 when Paul says, “It does not therefore depend on man’s desire or effort.” The Jews desired salvation to be of the Jews alone through the bloodline of Abraham and the works of the law. But God determined instead to have mercy on believers (in Christ) despite their objections and desire for God to unconditionally save them based on their heritage and law keeping. They wanted God to save their way and found it unfair that the Jews were being rejected because they refused to trust in Christ. But Paul made it clear that the Jews had no right to talk back to God nor demand that he save as they desired, for God has the sovereign right to “have mercy on whom He will have mercy.”

    This leads us to how Calvinists misunderstand and misuse those passages in John 6, 8, and 10. Jesus is not speaking of those who have been pre-selected from all eternity. This concept is nowhere to be found in those texts. Rather, Jesus is speaking of those Jews who are in right covenant relationship with the Father. Those who know the Father are “of God” and are “given” to the Son. They are the “sheep” who believe in Him. The Jews who reject Christ reject Him because they do not know the Father and therefore cannot recognize the perfect revelation of the Father in the Son. Had they been in right relationship with the Father (had they “heard and learned” from Him) they would have recognized the Son, “heard” his voice, and been given to Him. John is speaking of the transference of the faithful Jews into the sheepfold of the Messiah. These passages are dealing with the transition from the old dispensation to that of the new and how God gives the Jews who know and love Him to His Son.

    There is much more that could be said but this post is already super long. I wanted to carefully deal with the texts you mentioned so that you can at least see why Arminians find Calvinist proof-texts like these to be far from convincing and find that Calvinists are in fact the ones who are most often guilty of eisegesis. I will try to write more when I get the chance and re-visit Ephesians and John 5 since I believe you have likewise misunderstood and misapplied those passages. As far as confusing regeneration and justification, nothing could be further from the truth. If I thought they were the same thing then there would be no point in speaking of the need for one to precede the other. The unique meaning of each divine act is what makes justification the necessary pre-requisite to regeneration. More on that later as well.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  52. Ben,
    Thanks for your post in response to Ryan. I’m just surprised that he hasn’t posted yet another lengthy response.

    Anyways,
    I just started up a conversation with my college pastor who is Calvinist on if faith precedes regeneration or if regeneration precedes faith.
    I asked him if we need to be in union with Christ to be regenerated. He said that this union with Christ begins once we are spiritually reborn.
    I had a problem with this right away. Because to say that we are in union with Christ at the beginning too me tells me that sanctification comes after regeneration. This presents a problem for them because they would have to leave out repentance, justification, forgiveness.
    I’ve come to understand that what my pastor is saying brings more support to the Arminian than the Calvinist.

    Do I make sense Ben? Would you agree?

  53. Josh,

    Maybe Ryan is just strapped for time. I can understand that as I have very little time to post as well. I intend to respond to a few more of his points as well when I can find the time.

    I asked him if we need to be in union with Christ to be regenerated. He said that this union with Christ begins once we are spiritually reborn.

    This would seem to suggest again that we are able to receive spiritual life outside of union with Christ (if I am understanding him correctly), which is plainly unbiblical in my opinion.

    I had a problem with this right away. Because to say that we are in union with Christ at the beginning too me tells me that sanctification comes after regeneration. This presents a problem for them because they would have to leave out repentance, justification, forgiveness.

    I am not sure I am completely following you here. The point to remember is that all spiritual blessings are found in Christ (which includes regeneration and sanctification) and that we come to be in Christ by faith.

    So logically faith precedes regeneration and sanctification but temporally we are justified and united with Christ the moment we believe. Here is the essential difference:

    Calvinism- The moment we are regenerated we believe and are therefore justified and made holy (sanctified)

    Arminianism- The moment we believe we are justified, regenerated and made holy (sanctified) by virtue of our union with Christ

    The Arminian position is Biblically superior for many reasons as I mentioned in my post.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  54. “I am not sure I am completely following you here.”

    Ben, I’m sorry I could have worded that better. But what I’m saying is that I believe my pastor has it wrong to believe that we can be in union with Christ once we are irresistible to the power of God’s grace.

    I will also say that if we are made regenerate (reborn) by this irresistible power of God’s grace, then too me the whole reason for bringing ourselves into union with Christ by confessing our sins and repenting of them would make no sense.

    I guess a better way of saying this is that God forgives us once we’ve repented of our sins and then we are sanctified, not that we are sanctified and then forgiven by God.

    -Josh

  55. I guess a better way of saying this is that God forgives us once we’ve repented of our sins and then we are sanctified, not that we are sanctified and then forgiven by God.

    I couldn’t agree more.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  56. Lets look at
    John 12:35-36:

    35So Jesus said to them, “For a little while longer the Light is among you Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes.

    36″While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light ” These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them.

    V.36 is crucial here. We shall believe in the light so that we may become Sons of Light. “So that” means “in order to”. What is a son of light?

    Note also v. 12:46
    I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.

    Jesus is the Light. Believing in Jesus Christ is believing in the Light. (See also Jn. 8:12) .

    A “son of light” is the same as a “child of God”, it is being “reborn”, and “regeneration”.

    And the Jews are asked to believe so that (=in order to) become sons of the light. No one believes in the light because he is already a son of the light and receives this faith as a gift somehow. Such would be a severe twisting of the text.

    So faith => regeneration.

    But note, v.35 says, “walk while you have the light”. The light was there. That is a precondition for faith in the first place. No one could believe in the light if there were nothing to believe in. Faith always requires some preceding knowledge. (See “The Gospel – Faith and Knowledge” on my blog on the Gospel of John).
    If there is a good ground but no seed falls on it, then there will no plant grow at all. So the first step is from God (the light in the world). Yet personal application is only done by personal faith.

    Believe in the light, so that you may become sons of light

    Thus faith is a precondition for “regeneration”.

  57. Hello,

    I am another ‘Calvinist’ friend of Josh.

    I see the point about us not being able to have new life, unless we are justified. I agree.

    As I have said to Josh,
    I believe that there is a condition in salvation…that humans need to posses faith. But I believe that it is “…the appointment that of the Lord that there should be such a connection and coherence between the things purchased for us by Jesus Christ, that the one should be should be a means and way of attaining the other, -the one the condition, and the other the thing promised upon that condition, but both equally and alike procured for us by Jesus Christ… “ – John Owen

    In other words,I believe that It is a condition that is only fulfilled by God. He gives us the faith to meet that condition. We cannot ‘work up’ faith on our own…as Ephesians 2:8-9 says, faith is a gift from God.

    Salvation is totally of God…we don’t have any works, including belief, that can earn our salvation. When we do believe, it is not a belief that we conjured up…as Ryan pointed out, we were DEAD in sins, not SICK in sins. Yes I possess faith, but I possess it because God gave it to me. So we cannot boast about any part of ours in salvation…not even faith.

    I like how John Piper put it:

    “FAITH IS THE EVIDENCE OF NEW BIRTH, NOT THE CAUSE OF IT.”

    I do not think that we can necessarily put a timeframe on all of the events in salvation. Regeneration may even be simultaneous with Justification. We do know that election unto salvation happened before any of us were even born.

    Josh, in your message to me you said:

    “Because we are fallen, I’m not sure I believe that God can breath his life in us until we’ve received that spiritual life.”

    My question would be, what is “receiving…spiritual life” ? Is it to have faith? To believe?

    If that is the case, then as John Owen put it:
    “Therefore, it seems that Christ intercedeth for them that they may believe, upon condition that they do believe.”

    That doesn’t make sense…Do you see the point?
    In other words.. Before God makes us alive, we must make ourselves alive. If I am already alive, why do I need God to make me alive?

    “I agree with what you saying. But, I think we need separate the God-given faith from the faith we have”

    Why do we need God to give us faith if we already have faith? Why do we need to believe before we believe? Why do we need the Spirit’s work at all if we can do everything ourselves? Again, as Horatius Bonar said:

    “He who denies the need of the Spirit at the beginning, cannot believe in His work at the after stages–nay, cannot believe in the need of the Spirit’s work at all. The mightiest and most insuperable difficulty lies at the beginning. If the sinner can get over that without the Spirit, he can easily get over the rest. If he does not need the Spirit to enable him to believe, he will not need Him to enable him to love.”

    Do you all see what I am getting at?

  58. Hello Sarah,

    Josh sure has a lot of Calvinist friends 🙂

    You wrote,

    I see the point about us not being able to have new life, unless we are justified. I agree.

    Do you also agree that we are justified by faith? If so, then how could the new life precede faith according to your own words? If we must be justified before receiving life (regeneration) and we are justified by faith, then it follows that faith must precede regeneration! How could you possibly maintain otherwise?

    It seems like double talk to say that faith is the condition for salvation and to say that Christ meets that condition for us. If Christ fulfills the condition for us then for us it is unconditional because we do not need to fulfill the condition. Does that make sense? Are you suggesting that Christ believes for us? Of course not, so I don’t see how even a Calvinist can say that we do not need to meet the condition of faith unless they want to say that Christ or God believes for us.

    In other words,I believe that It is a condition that is only fulfilled by God. He gives us the faith to meet that condition. We cannot ‘work up’ faith on our own…as Ephesians 2:8-9 says, faith is a gift from God.

    The “gift” of 2:8 is not “faith” but salvation. The Greek bears this out as well as the context. The context contrasts faith with works and would essentially be saying faith (the gift) is not of works if your interpretation is correct (which is a mere truism), rather than saying “salvation” is the gift that is “not of works.” And why is salvation not of works? Because it is received “through faith.”

    Even so, Arminians have no problem with calling faith the gift of God in that without God’s gracious enabling we could not believe. So it is not something we “work up” in ourselves, but rather the Spirit works faith in us (enables our faith response) and we either yield to that work or resist and reject it.

    Salvation is totally of God…we don’t have any works, including belief, that can earn our salvation.

    And where did you get the idea that faith is a work? Faith does not “earn” salvation. It is the receiving of a free gift.

    When we do believe, it is not a belief that we conjured up…as Ryan pointed out, we were DEAD in sins, not SICK in sins. Yes I possess faith, but I possess it because God gave it to me. So we cannot boast about any part of ours in salvation…not even faith.

    I have already covered the “dead in sin” thing in this thread and in other posts. If you want to read more about that from the Arminian side you can start here.

    The idea of boasting in faith seems ridiculous to me. Faith is trusting in the work and merit of another. Therefore, if someone has faith they can only boast in the object of that faith. That is why Paul said that he would boast in the Lord.

    I like how John Piper put it:

    “FAITH IS THE EVIDENCE OF NEW BIRTH, NOT THE CAUSE OF IT.”

    Faith is evidence of the new birth but it is also the condition that must be met before God regenerates us. If someone is believing in Christ then we can be sure that they are born of God. However, one is not born of God prior to putting faith in Christ. Piper is wrong if he thinks that Arminians believe that faith causes the new birth. Arminians believe that faith is the God ordained condition for receiving salvation (which includes the new birth), not that faith “causes” salvation. God alone saves and causes salvation but He has sovereignly determined to save only believers (Jn. 3:15-18, 36).

    I do not think that we can necessarily put a timeframe on all of the events in salvation. Regeneration may even be simultaneous with Justification. We do know that election unto salvation happened before any of us were even born.

    The issue isn’t “timeframe” but logical order. I believe that the “moment” one believes we are justified, regenerated, and sanctified. Logically speaking, faith comes first.

    That doesn’t make sense…Do you see the point?
    In other words.. Before God makes us alive, we must make ourselves alive. If I am already alive, why do I need God to make me alive?

    I don’t see how you came to this conclusion. If we receive the Spirit by faith (which is Biblically incontrovertible (Gal. 3:2, 5, 14), then we are not making ourselves alive in order to receive faith. We receive the life of Christ and the Spirit when we believe and not before. It seems that you are begging the question and assuming that regeneration must precede faith and then arguing based on that assumption that regeneration precedes faith. Am I missing something?

    “I agree with what you saying. But, I think we need separate the God-given faith from the faith we have”

    I would agree with Josh here (and I assume you are quoting Josh here) only in the sense that there is a difference between God enabling our faith and our actually submitting to that enablement in actual faith. I am not sure if that is what Josh meant so I will not speak for him.

    Why do we need God to give us faith if we already have faith? Why do we need to believe before we believe? Why do we need the Spirit’s work at all if we can do everything ourselves?

    Again, I am not sure where you are getting this from. I guess it has to do with some confusion on Josh’s part in a conversation that we are not privy to on this thread. Is that correct?

    “He who denies the need of the Spirit at the beginning, cannot believe in His work at the after stages–nay, cannot believe in the need of the Spirit’s work at all. The mightiest and most insuperable difficulty lies at the beginning. If the sinner can get over that without the Spirit, he can easily get over the rest. If he does not need the Spirit to enable him to believe, he will not need Him to enable him to love.”

    Any Arminian would fully agree with this quote. No one can believe unless God first enables that belief by His Spirit. We call that prevenient grace. The only problem is the unbiblical Calvinist assumption and assertion that this prevenient work of the Holy Spirit is the work of regeneration.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  59. Thanks Ben for taking the time to respond to Sarah.

    There’s just a couple things I wanted to say to Sarah.

    “Why do we need God to give us faith if we already have faith? Why do we need to believe before we believe? Why do we need the Spirit’s work at all if we can do everything ourselves?”

    When you ask this first question Sarah, it’s almost like you disregarded the rest of what I was saying. Here is what I was saying, “I agree with what you saying. But, I think we need separate the God-given faith from the faith we have. Because I believe that God-given faith can only be given to us until we’ve received that spiritual life. The faith we have brings us into union with Christ, we are brought to the presence of the Holy Spirit like a thirsty man who is walking in the hot desert seeing a pond of water in the distance.”
    I may not have worded this to my best but I would agree with Ben that, “there is a difference between God enabling our faith and our actually submitting to that enablement in actual faith.”

    And Sarah when you say “believe before you believe” that too me makes no sense. That’s like saying, “you have faith before you have faith.”
    What I’m really trying to say is that we have to believe and that will bring us to faith.

    Now Ben,
    I find it difficult to believe that the power of the Holy Spirit can intercede in the unregenerate and bring them to becoming regenerate. I find there’s no biblical basis for this because man is unable to possess the Holy Spirit and the abilities that would bring them to the state of being redeemed.
    I’ve come too is that man cannot be irresistible to the power of God’s grace because he is dead in sin and only gradually making him more alive has no scriptural basis.
    So what I’m saying is that I don’t believe the power of the Holy Spirit is inclining us. I rather believe that man is being inclined to the Holy Spirit. And the Calvinist has to believe is that the Holy Spirit is inclining us. This has no scriptural basis.

    Do I make sense saying this?

    Talk with you later,
    Josh

  60. So what I’m saying is that I don’t believe the power of the Holy Spirit is inclining us. I rather believe that man is being inclined to the Holy Spirit. And the Calvinist has to believe is that the Holy Spirit is inclining us.

    This seems like a distinction without a difference but I may be misunderstanding. How do you suppose we are being inclined to the Holy Spirit and how is that different than the Holy Spirit inclining us?

    I do believe that the Holy Spirit influences us prior to conversion and that this influence is necessary for making conversion possible (Jn. 6:44; 12:32; 16:8-11). I don’t see a problem with saying that the Holy Spirit can influence us internally before dwelling within us.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  61. “This seems like a distinction without a difference but I may be misunderstanding. How do you suppose we are being inclined to the Holy Spirit and how is that different than the Holy Spirit inclining us?”

    Ben, that’s a good question. I’ve thought about this for some time and I believe that my only way of explaining is by getting into physics of magnetism.
    When I say that the Holy Spirit in inclining us, that’s like diamagnetic force that pushes us in a direction to salvation.
    And then there’s us being inclined toward the Holy Spirit, which would be the paramagnetic force that brings us to the Holy Spirit.
    Does this make sense what I’m saying so far?

    What I’m trying to say is that is that the Calvinist has to believe that God selects those to make spiritually alive by having the Holy Spirit work immediately in them.
    Too me I see this as God pushing us to believe rather than our free choice of deciding if we want to accept Christ into our life.
    That’s why I prefer to believe that we have the free choice and we are brought to the Holy Spirit by our hope. That in my opinion produces faith.

    “I do believe that the Holy Spirit influences us prior to conversion and that this influence is necessary for making conversion possible (Jn. 6:44; 12:32; 16:8-11). I don’t see a problem with saying that the Holy Spirit can influence us internally before dwelling within us.”

    I can agree, and saying that the Holy Spirit influences is probably better than saying that we are irresistible to the power of the Holy Spirit.
    It’s one thing to say man is desperate for the Holy Spirit and it’s another to say that we are irresistible to the Holy Spirit.
    Because man’s desperate need is for hope (the possibility the chance) that their sins will be washed away once they’ve been forgiven by God.
    But it only makes since that they believe and have hope and that will produce faith.

    Talk with you later,
    Josh

  62. This is just a test to see if I can use html on here…(I haven’t posted on WordPress before)

  63. “Do you also agree that we are justified by faith? If so, then how could the new life precede faith according to your own words?”

    I am not necessarily saying that new life precedes faith. They may be simultaneous…I don’t think that you can have one without the other.

    “It seems like double talk to say that faith is the condition for salvation and to say that Christ meets that condition for us. If Christ fulfills the condition for us then for us it is unconditional because we do not need to fulfill the condition.”
    It is still conditional. The only person who is saved is the one who possesses faith, if they don’t have faith, they are not saved.
    Allow me to illustrate: A rich man’s son has given out index cards to some of his father’s servants. His father stands before the servants and says , some of you will be given an inheritance, but you will only be given an inheritance if you have a card given to you by my son.
    That is conditional. They are given the inheritance on condition that they possess a card given to them by the rich man’s son. The servants are only given the inheritance if they fulfill the condition, if they possess the card.
    Same thing with faith. If a person dies without possessing faith, they are not saved. I am sure you would agree with that statement.

    “…unless they want to say that Christ or God believes for us.”

    Almost…
    Remember, it is not our faith.
    “ looking to the author and perfecter of faith–Jesus, who, over-against the joy set before him–did endure a cross, shame having despised, on the right hand also of the throne of God did sit down;” – Hebrews 12:2
    Even John Wesley, in his Notes on the Old and New Testament comments on this verse:
    “The author and finisher of our faith-Who begins it in us, carries it on, and perfects it.”

    “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

    “…and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ…” – Philippians 3:9

    “for God it is who is working in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 YLT

    “but rather the Spirit works faith in us (enables our faith response) and we either yield to that work or resist and reject it.”

    But don’t you believe that Christ died for our sins? And isn’t unbelief a sin? Why isn’t it covered?
    “ Christ did not die in the sinners stead, it seems, to bear his penalties and purchase for him eternal life; He died rather to make the salvation of sinners possible, to open the way of salvation to sinners, to remove all the obstacles in the way of salvation. But what obstacle stands in the way of salvation besides the sinner’s sin? And if this obstacle (their sin) is removed, are they not saved?”

    Benjamin B. Warfield

    One of my biggest problems with the Arminian view is the question of Why some people respond with faith and others don’t? Some people must be better than others, they must have some good in them that others do not. They have to have something (that was not given by God) other than the previenent grace. They have to do something without the Spirit’s help. They must do a work totally on their own.
    In other words, they have grounds to boast because they did a work totally on their own, they chose to believe. They can say to the unelect,” I chose to believe and you didn’t, therefore I am better than you.” And would be absolutely correct because they did the God pleasing act of choosing to believe, on their own, and the others did not. The Spirit’s help may be offered, but they need to choose to accept that help.
    Here is how James White explains it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZYKJPfSXAY&eurl=http

    “The idea of boasting in faith seems ridiculous to me. Faith is trusting in the work and merit of another. Therefore, if someone has faith they can only boast in the object of that faith.”

    It is not ridiculous, because they have the right to boast in that they chose(a good work) to take advantage of the Spirit’s enabling them to believe, and others did not. Their choosing was a good, righteous, a God-pleasing act, and the unelect’s refusing to choose the right was sin. So, the elect can boast that they did a good work on their own.

    “Arminians believe that faith is the God ordained condition for receiving salvation (which includes the new birth), not that faith “causes” salvation. God alone saves and causes salvation but He has sovereignly determined to save only believers (Jn. 3:15-18, 36).”
    Definition of Cause from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
    “1 a: a reason for an action or condition : MOTIVE b: something that brings about an effect or a result c: a person or thing that is the occasion of an action or state; especially : an agent that brings something about d: sufficient reason
    2 a: a ground of legal action b: CASE”

    In your view, Isn’t faith the ‘reason’ why we are saved, and others are not? Isn’t faith the fulfilling of the condition for salvation? Is not salvation an effect of faith? A result of faith? Isn’t faith the ‘occasion’ of God saving us? Doesn’t faith ultimately bring about salvation? Without it, people won’t be saved, right? It is “sufficient reason” for salvation. And Is it not the ‘ground’ of justification?

    Sounds like a cause to me.

    “It seems that you are begging the question and assuming that regeneration must precede faith and then arguing based on that assumption that regeneration precedes faith.”
    I think that they are probably simultaneous…happening at the same time. That one doesn’t happen without the other.
    Why would a person have faith and need to be given a new life, new desires… if they already have those new desires? In your view What is the difference between a BELIEVER before he is regenerated, and a believer after he is regenerated? Don’t both of them possess faith? Don’t both of them possess repentance? Don’t both of them possess confession? Are not both of them sanctified? Are not both justified?

    What more do they need? If the the person before regeneration is confessing and repenting, then their desires are already changed, and they are justified. Why do they need to be regenerated if they are already evidencing that they are?

    I think that they are simultaneous.

    Now, what is the difference between God-given faith , and faith that we have? Why do we need faith from God if we already possess faith on our own?

    “Any Arminian would fully agree with this quote. No one can believe unless God first enables that belief by His Spirit.”
    Man still has to do the good work of choosing to use that enablement rightly, and he must do it without the Spirit. A work of his own.

    “And where did you get the idea that faith is a work? Faith does not “earn” salvation. It is the receiving of a free gift.”

    I do not believe that faith is a work. On our part that is. I believe that faith is God’s working in us…it is His faith that He gives to us. We are believing, we possess faith, but It is not by our own power that we are ‘doing’ it. God is ‘doing’ it in us.
    Faith has to be of God..or salvation is by works, because What does man DO that is not a work?

    Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith that 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!
    – Spurgeon

    Sorry this is so long…I tend to be long-winded in trying to get my points across.
    Sincerely,
    Sarah 🙂

  64. I am not necessarily saying that new life precedes faith. They may be simultaneous…I don’t think that you can have one without the other.

    Then you have conceded the argument. Again, we are not talking about temporal order, but logical order. I thought I made that clear in my last comments. Calvinist generally believe that regeneration must come logically before faith because one cannot believe unless regenerated and regeneration causes faith. Arminians believe that faith logically precedes regeneration, because until one exercises faith, they are outside of saving union with Christ. Believers are immediately (temporally speaking) engrafted into Christ and receive all of the spiritual blessings that reside in Him (Eph. 1:3).

    It is still conditional. The only person who is saved is the one who possesses faith, if they don’t have faith, they are not saved.

    Allow me to illustrate: A rich man’s son has given out index cards to some of his father’s servants. His father stands before the servants and says , some of you will be given an inheritance, but you will only be given an inheritance if you have a card given to you by my son.
    That is conditional. They are given the inheritance on condition that they possess a card given to them by the rich man’s son. The servants are only given the inheritance if they fulfill the condition, if they possess the card.

    Same thing with faith. If a person dies without possessing faith, they are not saved. I am sure you would agree with that statement.

    The Bible does not describe faith as an object that God just drops into our head or heart. It is an act of trust. It is an act of submission and surrender. It is the receiving of a free gift. It is not a thing. In your example they are given an inheritance not based on whether or not they have a card, but whether or not they were “chosen.” The card is simply a symbol of their election. It is not a condition for being chosen. The choosing is arbitrary and the inheritance is given because of an unconditional choice.

    Now if the rich man offered a card to everyone and they chose whether or not to receive the card, then we would say that having the card (or receiving the card) is the condition for receiving the inheritance (and imagine the silliness of someone receiving the card and then claiming that they gave the inheritance to themselves). In the Bible the condition is faith because by faith we receive the free gift of salvation. In Calvinism salvation is irresistibly given and faith is just a result, part of the salvation package.

    Almost…
    Remember, it is not our faith.

    “ looking to the author and perfecter of faith–Jesus, who, over-against the joy set before him–did endure a cross, shame having despised, on the right hand also of the throne of God did sit down;” – Hebrews 12:2

    If it is not our faith than there is no “almost.” If it is not our faith then it is God’s faith and if it is God’s faith then He is the one believing because that is what faith means. So God trusts in Himself on our behalf or something like that. Again, faith would no longer be a condition.

    Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith but it is still “our” faith. Without Christ we could not believe for He draws all men unto Himself (Jn. 12:32). He is the object of our faith and the perfect example of how faith works. He submitted Himself to the Father’s will all the way to the cross. In like manner we need to submit ourselves to Him even to the point of death (Heb. 12:4). He perfects our faith through discipline and hardships (note the context of Hebrews 12:1-13).

    Yet it is we who need to “throw off every weight that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” We are the ones called on to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” We are the ones who must “fix our eyes” on Jesus and “consider him who endured such opposition” so that we do not “grow weary and lose heart.” Again, we see that the passage is speaking of Christ as our example and the object of our faith. We are the ones who need to struggle against sin and resist temptation even to the shedding of blood.

    Nothing in the passage suggests that God irresistibly causes us to do these things. God enables us and without Him we can do nothing, but we are called on to yield and surrender to the work of God in us. That is what faith is (trust, submission, surrender, etc.) Nothing in the passage suggests that we are not capable of resisting and refusing to yield to the Lord’s discipline. In fact, the very nature of these admonishments suggests that we can resist. Therefore, there is need of encouragement. This probably the primary theme of the epistle.

    “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20

    “…and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ…” – Philippians 3:9

    “for God it is who is working in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 YLT

    None of these passages support your position, nor contradict mine. Philippians serves as another example of divine enablement. The first part of the passage states,

    “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…”

    And how do we do that? By yielding to the work of God in us,

    “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

    In fact, it is in perfect harmony with the statement I made that you quoted above,

    “but rather the Spirit works faith in us (enables our faith response) and we either yield to that work or resist and reject it.”

    But don’t you believe that Christ died for our sins? And isn’t unbelief a sin? Why isn’t it covered?

    “ Christ did not die in the sinners stead, it seems, to bear his penalties and purchase for him eternal life; He died rather to make the salvation of sinners possible, to open the way of salvation to sinners, to remove all the obstacles in the way of salvation. But what obstacle stands in the way of salvation besides the sinner’s sin? And if this obstacle (their sin) is removed, are they not saved?”
    Benjamin B. Warfield

    Are you suggesting that we were forgiven the moment Christ died on the cross? If that is the case then we have been justified since birth. Do you believe that? If not, then you must admit that atonement is provisional. If it is provisional then we do not benefit from it until we put faith in Christ. The moment we put faith in Christ we benefit from the atonement by identification with Him. His death becomes our death and His life becomes our life.

    When we come to be in union with Christ through faith our former unbelief is atoned for, but not before. Otherwise, you would have to say that the “elect” are actually atoned for and not under the wrath of God even while in unbelief. This is plainly contradicted by Eph. 2:3, 4. For more on that see here.

    One of my biggest problems with the Arminian view is the question of Why some people respond with faith and others don’t? Some people must be better than others, they must have some good in them that others do not. They have to have something (that was not given by God) other than the previenent grace. They have to do something without the Spirit’s help. They must do a work totally on their own.
    In other words, they have grounds to boast because they did a work totally on their own, they chose to believe. They can say to the unelect,” I chose to believe and you didn’t, therefore I am better than you.” And would be absolutely correct because they did the God pleasing act of choosing to believe, on their own, and the others did not. The Spirit’s help may be offered, but they need to choose to accept that help.

    Not at all. Faith is the perfect condition for salvation because it transcends human qualities. Anyone can trust. You don’t have to be smart or righteous or “better” because anyone can trust. Faith is not a meritorious act. It does not earn anything. Rather it receives something, and it is nonsense to say that we are better than another because we decided to trust in God because trust has nothing to do with being “better.”

    Do you believe that a Christian who is more committed to God than another is better than that other Christian? Do you believe that one Christian who resists temptation is better or smarter than the Christian who yields to temptation in the same situation? Doesn’t 1 Cor. 10:13 tell us that God gives sufficient grace for us to resist temptation? What then makes the difference between the Christian who resists and the Christian who falls? It cannot be grace since both were granted sufficient grace. Can the Christian who resists boast over the one who did not? What do you think?

    It is not ridiculous, because they have the right to boast in that they chose(a good work) to take advantage of the Spirit’s enabling them to believe, and others did not. Their choosing was a good, righteous, a God-pleasing act, and the unelect’s refusing to choose the right was sin. So, the elect can boast that they did a good work on their own.

    The Bible nowhere calls faith a “work” because the Bible defines works differently than 16th century theologians and those who have learned their doctrine from them. Works don’t mean “anything we do” When the Bible talks about works it talks about those acts which are done to earn salvation based on the merit of the act itself (the “works” of the law, primarily the keeping of ceremonial regulations and circumcision).

    Faith carries no merit and does not earn anything (see Rom. 4). It is not a “righteous act.” If it were then God would not need to “credit it as righteousness” because it would already be righteous. Rather, faith is total dependence and reliance on the merit and righteousness of Christ. Calvinists misunderstand the nature of saving faith, and read their presuppositions concerning the irresistible nature of grace into how the Bible describes and speaks of faith. Faith is not a work because it is the receiving of a gift not because it is the result of irresistible grace,

    “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom. 4:9)

    Verse 13 tells us that we “receive the promise” by faith, and verse 16 tells us that, “…the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace…” Salvation is by grace because it is not worked for or deserved. Rather it is a gift of God that is received by faith. Faith establishes salvation by grace because faith is not a work that earns or merits salvation. Salvation is entirely gracious because it is a free gift received by faith. Since it is received and not earned we have no grounds for boasting (Rom. 3:27, 28, cf. 1 Cor. 4:7). It’s that simple.

    In your view, Isn’t faith the ‘reason’ why we are saved, and others are not? Isn’t faith the fulfilling of the condition for salvation? Is not salvation an effect of faith? A result of faith? Isn’t faith the ‘occasion’ of God saving us? Doesn’t faith ultimately bring about salvation? Without it, people won’t be saved, right? It is “sufficient reason” for salvation. And Is it not the ‘ground’ of justification?

    The ground for our justification is the merit of Christ’s blood and the gift of salvation that results from it. Faith is not the grounds of salvation. Faith is the condition for receiving the free gift. God did all the work. He made the provision and gave the gift. We merely receive it by faith. In your illustration above wouldn’t it be absurd if those who received the cards then claimed to give the inheritance to themselves and take credit for the inheritance or claimed that they earned it and deserved it because they took the card when it was offered to them? Consider the following scenarios,

    1) “Wow, that guy gave you an incredible inheritance.”

    “Yeah, I can’t believe it. I didn’t do anything to deserve it and yet he wanted to give it to me anyways. What an amazing and gracious person.”

    2) “Wow, that guy gave you an incredible inheritance.”

    “What? I gave that inheritance to myself. Didn’t you see me take the card? I earned that inheritance myself since I couldn’t have gotten it unless I took the card when he offered it to me. I earned it and I deserve it.”

    Anyone would recognize the first response as the appropriate response and see the second response as completely ridiculous. And yet that is the basis of your entire argument.

    Again, God is the cause and source of salvation. He has sovereignly decided to give His gift to believers but believers are neither the cause nor the source of salvation. It surprises me that you are having so much trouble with that concept.

    What more do they need? If the person before regeneration is confessing and repenting, then their desires are already changed, and they are justified. Why do they need to be regenerated if they are already evidencing that they are?

    Turning from sin and repenting is not the same as justification. God still needs to do a work. That we turn from our sins doesn’t mean we are forgiven. Nor does it mean that we atone for ourselves or forgive ourselves. God alone can forgive and justify and does so only for those who come to Him in faith. The moment we believe God forgives us and justifies us. Again, the issue is not temporal order but logical order.

    Now, what is the difference between God-given faith , and faith that we have? Why do we need faith from God if we already possess faith on our own?

    I never claimed that we can have faith apart from God.

    Thanks for the quote by Spurgeon but of course I disagree with his Calvinism and much of what he says here (though I do agree that faith results from the drawing of the Father; I just don’t believe that it results irresistibly or inevitably).

    I suspect we will not see eye to eye on this and that is fine with me. I hope that you will have at least gained a better understanding of the Arminian perspective and why we find arguments like the ones you have offered here to be less than persuasive.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  65. “Then you have conceded the argument. Again, we are not talking about temporal order, but logical order. I thought I made that clear in my last comments.”

    Yes, you are right. I have conceded the argument(that you cannot have regeneration wihtout having faith)sorry about not just admitting that. I was still debating it out in my mind as to whether I had come to the right conclusion.

    But, you see, I still don’t think that faith precedes regeneration either. I don’t think that you can have faith without regeneration, or regeneration without faith.

    “It is an act of trust. It is an act of submission and surrender. It is the receiving of a free gift. It is not a thing”

    You said that faith is an act of trust, act of submission and surrender.

    In Ephesians 2:9, the word for works is ἔργον, ergon:
    “From ἔργω ergō (a primary but obsolete word; to work); toil (as an effort or occupation); by implication an act: – deed, doing, labour, work.” – Strong’s Greek Dictionary

    “In theology, works are good deeds, human actions” – Wikipedia

    Making a choice is an action, a deed, it is doing something. Choosing to have faith, to believe, choosing to be submissive, is to act.

    “In your example they are given an inheritance not based on whether or not they have a card, but whether or not they were “chosen.” The card is simply a symbol of their election. It is not a condition for being chosen. The choosing is arbitrary and the inheritance is given because of an unconditional choice.”

    Yes, faith is not a condition for being chosen by God. Where does the Bible say that it is?

    I believe in unconditional election, and conditional(faith as a ‘means’) salvation. I was saying that we are saved through faith…that faith is the condition/means that God ordained whereby we receive justification, it is not the condition whereby we are elected. God elects people to salvation, and therefore provides them means, the meeting of the condition, for justification. And since they are given faith…they possess it, they have it, it is theirs.

    Faith does not come before grace. Salvation is by grace through faith, not by faith through grace.

    Election happened before the foundation of the world. Eph 1:4-6

    According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

    As with Jacob and Esau in Romans 9, God chose us before we had done “anything good or bad – In order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls.” God did not choose us on the basis of what He had passively seen we would do…good or bad. He did not choose us on the basis of whether we chose the good or the bad. If God chose us on the basis of whether we chose to believe, then election would be according to works. Election/salvation would be according to the act of our choosing. And thus it would be by works: God chooses some because they choose(a deed/action/work) to believe, to have faith, and He does not chose others because they did not choose(a deed/action/work) to believe, to have faith

    “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” – Titus 3:5

    Not by the righteous act/work/deed of choosing to believe that we have ‘done’.

    “he saved us, not because of righteous things that we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” – Titus 3:5 NIV

    “he saved us because of his mercy. It was not because of good deeds we did to be right with him. He saved us through the washing that made us new people through the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5 NCV

    It seems to exclude the idea that God looked down the passage of time, and foreknew who would believe and who would not, and on that basis elected them. He did not elect us according to what we have done.

    It is the same thing with Israel. God did not choose them because they would choose Him, as a matter of fact, He knew that they would reject Him. He chose unconditionally.

    Read Deuteronomy 31:15-29 and chapter 32. I do not consider myself ‘Reformed’, because I still believe that God is not finished ethnic Israel and their land. The Reformed people that I know of do not believe that. They think that God is finished with ethnic Israel as a people. I do not. Because I believe that election is unconditional.
    John Macarthur explains it very well in his message, “Why Every Self-Respecting Calvinist is a Premillennialist” : http://philgons.com/docs/macarthur-on-amillennialism.pdf which I think caused a lot of ‘stir’ in the reformed camp.

    “In Calvinism salvation is irresistibly given and faith is just a result, part of the salvation package.”

    I don’t like the term ‘irrisistable’…I like “efficacious” better. Grace is effecacious, it accomplishes what it sets out to do. The person who is saved desires to be saved. They are saved,they are given faith and therefore they believe…if they are believing then they want to be saved…it’s not like a person who has faith is going to say, “No! I don’t want salvation, I want to be condemned! God why did you save me? I don’t want to be saved!” If they don’t want to be saved, if they don’t want to honor God, then they don’t have faith.
    Why is it such a ‘good’ thing for people to be able to choose the wrong? Why would a Christian want people to be able to resist it? Would God desire that the people that He loves be able to choose condemnation? Why would a father want his 7 year old have the choice of killing himself(assuming that he wants to do it)? Wouldn’t a loving father stop the kid? Or would he just stand there and say “Please don’t do it!”. If the father did not stop the child from killing himself, then the father did not love the child.

    If God loves someone, then He will ensure their salvation. He will not just stand their and say “PLEASE! Don’t do it!!!! I can’t stop you because I love you so much that I would rather watch you kill yourself, condemn yourself into everlasting fire than stop you from doing it.”

    Please excuse the harshness of the illustration, but that is what is implied by saying that God is loving towards his people in giving them the choice to condemn themselves, or the choice not to condemn themselves.
    God is not a helpless bystander:

    “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.” (Psalm 125:6) “When the LORD All-Powerful makes a plan, no one can stop it. When the LORD raises his hand to punish people, no one can stop it” (Isaiah 14:27 NCV) “From the beginning I told you what would happen in the end. A long time ago I told you things that have not yet happened. When I plan something, it happens. What I want to do, I will do.” (Isaiah 46:10)
    “I will make what I have said come true; I will do what I have planned” (Isaiah 46:11) “People on earth are not truly important. God does what he wants with the powers of heaven and the people on earth. No one can stop his powerful hand or question what he does.” (Daniel 4:35)”

    “If it is not our faith than there is no “almost.” If it is not our faith then it is God’s faith and if it is God’s faith then He is the one believing because that is what faith means. So God trusts in Himself on our behalf or something like that. Again, faith would no longer be a condition.”

    It would not mean that He is believing in Himself. He gives us the faith to believe in Himself.

    I give you my hammer, and you use it. You possess it, you are using it, but it is not yours, it is mine.

    God gives us faith, for me to possess, for me to have.

    As with salvation, salvation is a gift right? So does that mean that God gives it to Himself? He saves Himself? No! God doesn’t need it. We need it.
    Same with faith. It is a gift, God gives it to us. So does that mean that God gives it to Himself? No! God doesn’t need it. We need it.

    It is faith that God gave me, so in that sense it is my faith because I now possess it.

    “Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith but it is still “our” faith.”

    Right, because the author and perfecter of that faith gave it to us, so it is in our possession. It is not the unbeliever’s faith because they don’t have it.

    Here I will quote James White:

    “Jesus is described as the “author and perfected” of faith. The Greek words chosen by the author are most interesting: αρχηγός καί τελειωτής. Archegon refers to the origin, source, beginning, and then by extension, author. Teleiotes refers to one who completes and perfects. Consider what this means: Jesus is the origin and source of faith, the goal of faith, the one who completes and perfects faith…For the Christian these are precious words. When we are weak, when we are discouraged, when it seems that we cannot possibly go on, what is our sole confidence? Christ. God will not abandon His own. We are kept indeed by the power of faith, but it is not merely a human faith, but a divine faith, a gift from God! Why do some stumble and fall while others persevere? Is it that some are better, stronger, than others? No. The reason lies in the difference between having saving faith and a faith that is not divine in origin or nature.”

    “Yet it is we who need to “throw off every weight that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” We are the ones called on to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” We are the ones who must “fix our eyes” on Jesus and “consider him who endured such opposition” so that we do not “grow weary and lose heart.” Again, we see that the passage is speaking of Christ as our example and the object of our faith. We are the ones who need to struggle against sin and resist temptation even to the shedding of blood.”

    Why do we need to do that? Do we need to do all of those things in order to keep our salvation? Do we need to justify ourselves? Those are works, and salvation is not by works. Salvation is by grace (unmerited favor: we don’t do anything to earn it, or to keep it), not by works of righteousness that we do.

    We are sanctified(set apart) not by works of righteousness that we do, we are set apart by Christ. It is not our doing ‘good’ works that sets us apart from the world. Other people do ‘good’ works as well. It is the Righteousness of Christ that sets us apart…we are justified, not by our works, but by His(including faith: His work in us).

    We do those things because it is who we are. Our lives as Christians are lives of faith.

    In Romans 6, Paul is saying to Christians “Be who you are!”…It is as if I were saying to you, “Breath!”. Breathing is a natural thing for humans to do…there is something absurd when we try to stop breathing for a while. So it is with Christians. Obeying God, being controlled by the Spirit, doing what is pleasing to God is now what we want to do, it is who we are, it is our new nature. It is absurd for a Christian to live for sin because that is not who they are anymore…they are Christians, ones living by faith.

    Now, you may ask, then why do we still sin? Why do we not always want to live by faith?

    As Romans 7 points out, there is now a battle inside of us. Yes, we are not under condemnation anymore, yes we are ‘born again’, we have a new nature. But, we still have our bodies, the flesh.

    As C. S. Lewis said(I am quoting from memory here, so please excuse mistakes): “I do not have a soul, I have a body. I am a soul.”

    WE always need to remember that our bodies are not who we are…

    Our body is not glorified yet…our body still possesses sinful desires. It still wants to sin “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.” Romans 7:18

    We war against the desires of our flesh:

    “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh.” Romans 7:15-18

    When I sin, it is not really me. It is my sinful body. But I am still justified because I am justified by Christ, not by whether I am good or bad, not by whether I do good works or not. His righteousness is given to me, it is mine.

    “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
    (Romans 7:21-25)

    In the Chapter right after Romans 7, the struggle against sin, we have Romans 8,

    “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man in order that the righteous requirments of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” Romans 8:4

    If we have the Spirit in us then we are saved, we are in Christ, we are alive.

    “You, however, are controlled not by the flesh but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin,yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your moral bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

    Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation –but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…” Romans 8:12-13

    Why will you live? Because you are putting to death the misdeeds of the body? No! You will live because you are led by the Spirit of God, you are putting to death the misdeeds of the body because you are a led by the Spirit because you are a son of God! You are led by the Spirit because you are a son of God, if you were not a son of God the Spirit would not lead you.

    “but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Romans 8:13-14

    If we are a child of God, if we are God’s , if we are elect, then our salvation is a ‘done deal’!

    “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(προγινώσκω
    proginōskō prog-in-oce’-ko From G4253 and G1097; to know beforehand, that is, foresee: – foreknow (ordain), know (before) )
    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.”

    It doesn’t say that God knew that some men would choose(action) to believe, If he did it on the basis of whether people chose to believe or not, then election would be based on choice(action/works/deeds)it just says that He knew the ones that He predestined…not that He knew what they would do and on that basis elected them. It only says that He forknew them, not their actions.

    “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies(Not through man’s faith, but through the faith that He gives man)Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life- is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Romans 8:33-35

    “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Can we ourselves go against God? No! Can any human being, if God is for us, be against us? No!

    “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” Who? Who? Man? Ourselves? What man can condemn us? No man!

    “So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” “
    (John 10:24-30)

    They did not believe because they were not given to the Father, they were not His sheep. If they were they would hear Him and follow Him. No one can snatch the sheep out of the Father’s hand, the sheep cannot even snatch themselves out.

    And notice, it says that the Father has given them to the Son, not that they have given themselves. Also Christ’s prayer in John 17. It is not for the world, but for those that were given by God to the Son, and none were lost.

    If God loved every single person on this earth, then He would save every single person on this earth. God is no failure! He doesn’t try to accomplish His desires, He accomplishes them. He does what He wants.

    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    (Romans 8:35-39)

    The elect cannot even separate themselves from the Love of God, they are mere creatures.

    God did not fail in what He set out to do. Save His elect, His loved ones. He saves every single person He loves.

    God does not, cannot fail. If He can fail, then He is not perfect, and if He is not perfect, He is not God. Salvation is not by chance. It does not hinge on the 50-50 chance that a man will choose to believe. There is no such thing as chance.

    We are not fatalists…we have a Sovereign God. A God who does what He plans to do. A God who is not worrying that the ones He loves will be condemned for eternity. A God who proves His love by saving the ones He loves. God is not worried. He knows what He is doing.

    It took me so long to realize that life is about God, not about me, about God not about people, about His glory, not about mine, about His choice, not about mine. I understand your position, I have been in it myself.

    It seemed wrong for God to elect only some people to salvation, and not all. It seemed wrong that God still blames us for our sins, If He was the one who ordained them. But, I do not have a say in the matter, I am a mere human, a mere creature.

    “So one of you will ask me: “Then why does God blame us for our sins? Who can fight His will?” You are only human, and human beings have no right to question God. An object should not ask the person who made it, “Why did you make me like this?” The potter can make anything he wants to make.” Romans 9:19-21

    God is God, whatever He does is right. Whatever He does, no matter what it is, is right.

    Now I love that He is totally sovereign! I am glad that I know that now! I am glad that God revealed it in His word!

    Who is like our God?

    How Great is our God! Our God cannot be defeated!!!! Not even by human beings. We glory in our God!!!!! Not the gods of this world that are mere creatures..are created things, are myths, lies. Our God is THE GOD!!! We glory, we boast in that!

    “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24

    A final note, We passively receive faith. In other words, we do not reach for it, or grab it, it is given to us, it is done to us. Faith is not our openness to receive His working in us, it is His working in us. If we believe God, then we know that He is working in us. And we cannot boast even a tiny bit, because we were given that faith, we did not choose to have that faith.

    Salvation is TOTALLY of God, we are HIS workmanship, not His workmanship AND our workmanship. We cannot boast about anything but God, We can only boast about God, we cannot boast about ourselves, in that we chose salvation. We boast about the God who gives salvation, not the man who chooses it. Because a man only ‘chooses’ it because he already has it. We boast about God’s choosing, not ours. We boast about His righteousness, not ours. We boast about His love, not ours. We boast about His activity, not our passiveness. We do not boast about being dead, we boast about the God who gave us life.

    “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from Him and to Him and through Him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” Romans 11:33-36

    By they way, feel free to ask me to stop… if you feel like this is not on topic, or for any other reason that you choose. this is your blog, not mine. So your will is ‘law’ 🙂

    I just wanted to defend my point…So that you don’t think that I am arguing with only my opinion. I want to show you that I believe that my belief in God’s absolute sovereignty is grounded in the Bible.

    Sorry, again, that this is so long… I don’t have a ‘way with words’…so I have to use a lot of them. 🙂

    Sarah 🙂

  66. Sarah,

    I don’t have time to respond today (I haven’t even read your comments yet, just noticed the length). When I do respond it will probably be very general dealing with a few points that you made or I feel I need to make. Otherwise this discussion is going to get longer and more and more cumbersome.

    I would ask you to wade through my blog a little or check out some of the links as you may find that I have already adressed some of what you wrote here (again, I have not yet looked at your comments so I am just assuming this may be the case). That would help me so that I don’t have to re-write everything in this thread. I may be referring you to other posts as well.

    If I don’t get to your comments tomorrow it won’t be until late next week when I get to them (since I will be away from the computer till Wednesday). Just so you know I am not ignoring you.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  67. I am fine with you not answering right away 🙂 I appreciate it that you think it is worthwhile to notice my posts.

    I do it myself…I do not expect you to reply right away(especially the way I write my responses).Sometimes it takes me days, or a week to even start my replies to people.

    Again, if you want me to stop making comments on this topic, or even if you do not think that it fits with the topic, or whatever, just tell me, and I’ll stop.

    I am fine with stopping, and I won’t think that you are being rude or anything.

    And I want to mention that I am glad that you are Biblically focused…that you believe that the Bible is the absolute standard of truth.

    I say that because I am in a debate right now with some people who I think are probably atheists…and it is really hard to debate with them because they do not have the same fixed point, the same standard, of truth as I do…actually, I don’t know if they really have any ‘truth’.

    Going from that to this, is very refreshing.

    There I go again…
    Sorry,

    Sarah

  68. Sarah,

    Thanks for being patient. I do think the topic is relevant so I do intend to reply. It will be a more general reply though. Here is an article that I found very helpful when dealing with atheists:

    http://www.ex-atheist.com/game-designer-argument.html

    God Bless,
    Ben

  69. “FAITH IS THE EVIDENCE OF NEW BIRTH, NOT THE CAUSE OF IT.”

    If so, then Sola Fide is a meaningless creed. For good works, according to Calvinism, are evidence of the new birth as well. If someone never shows any good works, his faith proves to be a “false, head faith”. So ultimately works are the outer proof (evidence). Faith alone cannot be any evidence. But Sola Fide means justification by faith alone. According to Piper “By the evidence alone” ? So what about works?

    Calvinism has no clear concept of what they mean by sola fide.

  70. Sarah,

    You wrote,

    But, you see, I still don’t think that faith precedes regeneration either. I don’t think that you can have faith without regeneration, or regeneration without faith.

    Again, we are not discussing temporal sequence but logical order. Here is the difference:

    Calvinism: The moment we are regenerated we believe

    Arminianism: The moment we believe we are regenerated

    See the difference? We can say that faith and regeneration happen at the same time (temporally) but one still logically precedes the other.

    Making a choice is an action, a deed, it is doing something. Choosing to have faith, to believe, choosing to be submissive, is to act.

    First, faith is not a work because it is a human act or decision. The Israelites were forbidden to “work” on the Sabbath, and yet they were not forbidden to think or make decisions. Again, you are imposing 16th century definitions on Biblical concepts which were used in a very different context. In the Bible and especially with regards to soteriology “works” have to do with human effort apart from faith and that human effort has primary reference to Jewish ceremonial laws and circumcision. These are primarily what Paul refers to when contrasting faith with works.

    You will find this to be the main concern in both Rom. 3 and 4 and Galatians where Paul discusses justification by faith. The Jews had a very hard time with the fact that one is justified by faith apart from the “works” of the Jewish law. They were trying to get Gentiles to become Jewish (through circumcision and ceremonial observances) because they believed that one could only truly be among God’s chosen people if they were Jewish (lived according to the Old Covenant stipulations). Some Jews were also offended by the idea of justification by faith (in Christ) because they felt that God was unfairly receiving the Gentiles as His people while rejecting His covenant people (The Jews). This is the issue being discussed in Rom. 9-11. Paul reminds the Jews that God can have mercy on whom he wants to have mercy. If God wants to have mercy on the Gentiles and reject the Jews on the basis of faith (and unbelief), then He has the sovereign right to do so (Rom. 9:30-33). The Jews have been hardened in unbelief but they can yet be restored (Rom. 11:7-12, 23-32). In fact, God desires to show mercy to all but that mercy is ultimately conditioned on faith in Christ (11:32).

    We are all under sin and no amount of good works can tip the balance to favor with God. God has made only one way to attain righteousness and that is through faith in His Son. He is pleased to justify and save the ones believing. So salvation cannot be earned, it can only be received by faith.

    Now if you want to say that any action (including faith) is a “work” then you are simply not working with Biblical definitions and Biblical definitions should be the only thing we are concerned with. In fact, your Calvinism would then fall to the same objection since Calvinists (and you) assert that God does not believe for us. If God does not believe for us then we are the ones believing. If we are the ones believing then it becomes an act, which according to you makes it a “work.” Therefore, you must affirm justification by works according to your own definition. The only way to avoid this is to say that believing is not something we “do” which is absurd and plainly contradicted by numerous Scriptures. So God believes for us or our faith becomes a “work.” Which is it? Or perhaps we allow the Bible to define faith and works and avoid the difficulty altogether.

    Again, Paul explains things nicely when he says,

    “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

    I encourage you to read the rest of the chapter and notice that Paul immediately begins to speak of circumcision and the Jewish law, just as I mentioned above. Look at verses 18-22 and you will see how Paul defines faith. As I said before, it is really very simple. Calvinists complicate and distort the simple gospel with their unbiblical definitions of faith and works.

    God says, “You can’t do it (works), but my Son has done it for you and provided for your atonement, righteousness, and holiness (grace). Trust in Him (faith) and I will save you.” Simple and glorious! No hidden secret decrees, just the glorious gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

    You say that faith is just a means. I reject that because I see in Scripture that faith can be abandoned and shipwrecked. Therefore, it is a condition that God requires us to meet in order to receive His salvation. If it were just a “means” that God causes irresistibly then it would be impossible to shipwreck and abandon it. It would be impossible to receive the grace of God in vain, and yet Scripture repeatedly warns us against such dangers. Not only that, but Scripture speaks of salvation “by faith” and not just “through faith” and it never speaks of believing in a “passive” tense. It is always active. It is not something that is done to us. It is something we do to receive the free gift of God from “first to last” (Rom. 1:16, 17). It is how we gain access to God’s gracious gift of salvation in Christ (Rom. 5:1, 2).

    Calvinists want us to believe that grace isn’t grace unless it is irresistible, but that is a strange way to define grace (just as they re-define so many words for the sake of their theology) and the Bible never describes grace that way. God’s offer of salvation is gracious because we cannot earn it and we do not deserve it, not because it is impossible to refuse.

    Election happened before the foundation of the world. Eph 1:4-6

    Yes and no. The Calvinist really has to read his theology into this passage to make it work. He really needs it to say, “For he chose us [to be] in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” But it doesn’t say that. There is no “to be” in the text. So if we want to say that we were chosen “in Christ” from before creation in a Calvinistic sense we would have to affirm that we were always saved for being in Christ is to be saved. One cannot be “in Christ” and still under God’s wrath (Rom. 8:1). Yet Eph. 2:3 tells us that we were all “by nature objects of wrath” prior to conversion. Well, there are two other interpretations which make sense of the passage as it stands and both of them are friendly to the Arminian perspective.

    First, we could see this as a decree to save believers. It would essentially be saying that God chose to save believers “in Christ” before He even created the world. In that case it would be teaching an election of believers and not an election of specific lucky sinners to “become” believers and be “put into” Christ.

    The second view sees the passage as teaching a primarily corporate election in Christ. In this view Christ is the chosen covenant head. He is the “elect One” (Luke 9:35; Isa. 42:1-7; 49:1-13 1 Pet. 2:4-7). Only Christ can be said to have been chosen before the foundation of the world (1 Pet. 1:20). When we believe we are sealed in Him by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) and all the spiritual blessings which reside in Him (including election) become ours (Eph. 1:3, 4). Just as it could be said that Israel was chosen when Jacob was chosen in the womb (even though Israel did not yet exist as a people) it can also be said that the corporate body of Christ (all believers) was chosen when Christ was chosen before the foundation of the world and before any believers had yet existed. Those who come to be in union with Christ through faith (Eph. 1:13) are “the elect” because they share in Christ’s election through identification with Him. His history becomes their history. His death becomes their death, His life becomes their life, His righteousness becomes their righteousness, His holiness becomes their holiness, and His election becomes their election. For more on the corporate election view see here and here

    I don’t like the term ‘irrisistable’…I like “efficacious” better. Grace is effecacious, it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

    It is still the same thing. If it accomplishes what it sets out to do without fail then it is irresistible. That’s like saying, “I don’t like ‘damnation’…I prefer ‘eternal separation’ better. Same thing. Why not be honest about it instead of trying to hide it behind softer jargon?

    The person who is saved desires to be saved.

    According to Calvinism the God hating sinner wants nothing to with God prior to the application of irresistible grace. God may cause them to have a new irresistible desire for God but He still must cause it and cause it against their will since prior to that they wanted nothing to do with God. If I wanted to marry a girl who wanted nothing to with me and I was able to inject her with a serum that would cause an irresistible desire in her for me, would that be OK as long as she now desires me? If her family objected could I just say “It’s not like she doesn’t want to marry me, so what is the problem?”

    Would God desire that the people that He loves be able to choose condemnation?

    Yes, because He wants genuine relationships with real people, made in His image, who freely surrender to His love. In Calvinism God makes people love Him which could hardly be satisfying to the God of all truth. Even sinful man would not be satisfied with such a farce. Salvation is the result of a relationship with God through Christ. It is more than just diverting destruction and escaping hell fire.

    Why would a father want his 7 year old have the choice of killing himself(assuming that he wants to do it)? Wouldn’t a loving father stop the kid? Or would he just stand there and say “Please don’t do it!”. If the father did not stop the child from killing himself, then the father did not love the child.

    Are you suggesting that God does not love the majority of His creation which He made in His own image? Calvinism has God consigning the majority of His children to an eternity of suffering. Why don’t you have an emotional reaction to that? Is that the love you are talking about? We are all God’s children (Acts 17:27-28), but God has sovereignly decided to make salvation conditioned on faith in His Son and He has the sovereign right to do that. God is not unjust in rejecting those who reject Him, nor is He unloving. It would be unloving if He never gave the majority of His creation any opportunity to love Him and be saved and then condemn them for rejecting an atonement that was neither provided for them nor intended for them. In fact, if determinism is true then God condemns the majority of His creation for perfectly fulfilling His will and doing exactly what He decreed for them to do from all eternity.

    Why do we need to do that? Do we need to do all of those things in order to keep our salvation? Do we need to justify ourselves? Those are works, and salvation is not by works. Salvation is by grace (unmerited favor: we don’t do anything to earn it, or to keep it), not by works of righteousness that we do.

    We do them “by faith” (Hebrews 11- notice that this chapter leads into the chapter we are discussing). If they are works then they are the works of faith and we certainly do need to continue in faith to remain saved (Hebrews 10:35-39; 4:14; 6:11, 12; Jn. 15:3-6; 1 Jn. 2:24, 27; Jude 21; Col. 1:21-23; 2:6, 7; 1 Cor. 15:2; Rom. 1:17; 1 Tim. 4:16; 6:12; Matt. 10:22; Rom. 11:20-22; 2 Pet. 1:10, 11). We can fall away from the faith to our own destruction (Hebrews 2:1; 3:12; 6:4-8; 10:26-31). It is also not accurate to say that we justify ourselves. God justifies the one believing as I mentioned above.

    It doesn’t say that God knew that some men would choose(action) to believe, If he did it on the basis of whether people chose to believe or not, then election would be based on choice(action/works/deeds)it just says that He knew the ones that He predestined…not that He knew what they would do and on that basis elected them. It only says that He forknew them, not their actions.

    See my comments above concerning corporate election. Yet it needs to be said that God can foreknow and forelove believers. That is what many Arminians see in these passages. God foreloves them and foreknows them as persons united to His Son in faith. It doesn’t need to have primary reference to foreseen faith (which is not a “work”) but God can only savingly know and love those who are in union with His Son and that union is conditioned on faith. He loves them as persons who are trusting in Christ, as believers.

    Calvinism, however, runs into difficulty trying to explain how God foreloved and foreknew the elect prior to creation because Calvinism asserts that God can only foreknow what He decrees. In other words, God only foreknows His intentions and plans, what He will bring about Himself (which IMO inevitably makes Him the author of sin- a blasphemous thought). So how could God forelove believers (in a relational way) when they were nothing but a plan in His mind prior to creation. The only way to assert that God could forelove them is to say that God could transcend time and know them and love them as actual people prior to creation. That is the Arminian understanding of foreknowledge which Calvinists have long denied. So to say that God loved (foreknew) the elect prior to creation makes far more sense in an Arminian framework. And the view of election I described above explains it even better.

    God is God, whatever He does is right. Whatever He does, no matter what it is, is right.

    So what if God decided tomorrow to revoke your election, would that be right? Can He do that? The Calvinistic view of God you are espousing is arbitrary and cannot be trusted. You put sovereignty above God’s nature which makes Him unpredictable and untrustworthy. God is sovereign but exercises His sovereignty in accordance with His nature, and His nature is good, holy, and loving. This is the essence of Arminian theology and the main reason it is at odds with Calvinism. Calvinism has God continually acting in a way that contradicts His revealed nature and intentions.

    There is much more that I could say but I can’t put any more time into this discussion right now. I know you think you have been where I am but I don’t think you have because you have expressed the typical Calvinistic misunderstandings of Arminian beliefs. You may have been a non-Calvinist prior to embracing Calvinism but I can’t believe you were an Arminian (there is a difference). I don’t have time to comment on everything you have said here but I assure you I have heard it all before and have thought very carefully about it. I have rejected those arguments and will continue to reject them because I feel they betray a fundamental misunderstanding and misapplication of God’s word and the revelation of Himself and how He interacts with His creatures.

    If you have a specific question or passage you want to discuss then I would happily interact with you in the ??Questions?? section. But this discussion is branching out way too broadly and I just don’t have the time to address everything you have said in a way that would do it justice. I have addressed most of what you have said elsewhere in other posts or in the comments sections of those posts (for instance I addressed some of your arguments above in discussions with others). I have written a great deal on perseverance and will soon be posting on many of the passages you have mentioned here. We could further discuss it then if you like.

    It is clear that we are not going to agree but I appreciate the dialogue (I only wish I had more time as I feel I am short changing you). As for regeneration and faith it seems that you agree that faith must precede regeneration while maintaining that faith and regeneration happen simultaneously in time. If that is the case then we at least agree on that much. We also agree that one can only be saved by grace through faith in Christ, though we disagree on how God works faith in us. In either case I am confident that we are both relying on Christ for salvation and that is of course what matters most. May God Bless you as you continue to seek Him.

    Ben

  71. Kehrhelm Kroger,

    I’m sorry that I took so long to reply to you. I have been busy.

    “If so, then Sola Fide is a meaningless creed. For good works, according to Calvinism, are evidence of the new birth as well. If someone never shows any good works, his faith proves to be a “false, head faith”. So ultimately works are the outer proof (evidence). Faith alone cannot be any evidence. But Sola Fide means justification by faith alone. According to Piper “By the evidence alone” ? So what about works?”

    What about works?

    I believe that we are saved by grace through faith…not by works. Don’t you believe that as well? We are justified by faith, not by faith and works. If we were justified by works, then it would be by something that we have done, and therefore we would be earning our salvation…and salvation would be our work.

    As Christians, we do not do good works TO BE saved, we do them BECAUSE we are saved…it is who we are, it would be absurd for us not to do them. We are “Christians” we are supposed to be Christlike.
    I addressed this(works/sanctification) in my earlier post to Ben(the long one 🙂 )

    I do not believe that we are saved by the evidence alone…we are not saved by the evidence at all, we are saved BY grace THROUGH faith, the faith that a Christian possesses is of grace, of God, it is unmerited favor…we do not deserve to have faith through which we are justified, we deserve to be condemned because of our own unbelief…We are saved by grace, through the faith OF God…it’s origin is in God..faith is of God. We are saved by God’s working in us. We are saved through/by the grace of faith that God gives us, not the works that inevitably result. I believe that Christians were totally saved by Christ’s paying for all of their sins on the cross…He gives us faith through which we are justified…If we are justified by faith of our own…if we must believe on our own, then we are justified by belief that is of ourselves…which would ultimately make salvation by works, by belief of our own making. I believe that we are justified totally by grace…which includes faith. Christians are ‘graced’ with faith. Therefore we cannot take credit for our faith because it was given to us,we did not choose to believe because we had some good in and of ourselves, and Therefore our salvation is totally God’s doing.

    Oh, and I do want to make one thing clear…I am not really a Calvinist…that is why, in my first post, I put ‘Calvinist’ in quotes.

    I do not agree with everything that Calvin believed…I am rather irritated with him on some points…such as eschatology, infant baptism…etc.

    I believe, I must believe, everything that the Bible teaches…that Christ said, that God said, and therefore I prefer the term Biblicist, or Christian…as I am sure you do.

  72. Sarah,

    Generally speaking a Calvinist is one who agrees with John Calvin on the issue of soteriology. The same with Arminians. I generally agree with Arminius on soteriology and have no problem calling myself an Arminian for that reason. Arminius also defended infant baptism which I disagree with but that is not what people think of when discussing Arminianism.

    And again, Arminians do not believe that we “choose to believe because we had some good in and of ourselves” and do believe that salvation is totally God’s doing (since faith isn’t part of salvation but the God ordained condition for receiving salvation).

    Calvinists have a hard time being consistent with the “totally God’s doing” from their perspective when it comes to sanctification. You may want to check out this post on the matter when you get the chance:

    Examining Inconsistencies In Calvinistic Monergism Part 2: Sanctification

    God Bless,
    Ben

  73. Ben,

    “Therefore, you must affirm justification by works according to your own definition.”

    Actually I do affirm justification by work…by God’s work, not ours. Our faith is not our work, it is God’s. And that does not mean that God believes in Himself for us. We do believe, but our belief is not of ourselves, it is a gift of God.

    Again, it all boils down to the question, why do some choose to believe and others do not? Why did they choose the good and others chose the evil. Why did some choose to please God and others choose to spite Him? The answer is not, because they wanted to. I want to know WHY they wanted to. Why are some people choosing evil and others choosing good?

    Now if you want to say that any action (including faith) is a “work” then you are simply not working with Biblical definitions and Biblical definitions should be the only thing we are concerned with. “

    I am working with biblical definitions. Faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

    That being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see is of God.

    ” it never speaks of believing in a “passive” tense. It is always active.”

    Of course believing is active. God gave us an active faith.

    “Calvinists want us to believe that grace isn’t grace unless it is irresistible,”

    Arminians want us to believe that grace isn’t grace unless it is resistible, unless we can reject God’s unmerited favor.

    You seem to think that God would be wrong not to let people kill themselves by not choosing faith.

    “God may cause them to have a new irresistible desire for God but He still must cause it and cause it against their will since prior to that they wanted nothing to do with God.”

    There are men in our days who look upon conversion as an imaginary act, and say simply that man has changed his opinion. They freely grant that God can create a moral being once, but do not concede him the liberty of creating it a second time – of transforming it. Conversion is always the work of God. There are forces working in nature which cause the earth to bring forth its fruit; and yet some would maintain that God cannot work in the heart of man to create a new fruit!…Human will is not sufficient to explain the changes manifested in man; there, if anywhere, is found something mysterious and divine.

    J.H. Merle D’aubigne

    Are you suggesting that God does not love the majority of His creation which He made in His own image?

    I did not say the majority…But I do believe that God does not love every single person. If He did, then He could never stop loving them, even as they are burning in Hell and never get another chance.
    But I do not make judgment calls on people, because I do not know who the elect are. And I still give out the Gospel to non-Christians because they may be elect, and the main reason being because Christ commanded us to preach the Gospel.

    And thus, God would never be satisfied, He would be sad for eternity because He failed to save every single person He loved.

    So in other words, God cannot act against what people will…Their will trumps His.

    “Why don’t you have an emotional reaction to that? Is that the love you are talking about? We are all God’s children (Acts 17:27-28), “

    All people are not God’s children. “Offspring”…we are all created beings, we are all of God, we did not make ourselves.

    “So what if God decided tomorrow to revoke your election, would that be right? Can He do that?”

    “…God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29

    But, yes, if He did it, it would be right because whatever He does is right. But He won’t do it, because He does not change His mind.

    “We do them(works) “by faith” “

    I agree. But I do not believe that those works are of ourselves or that faith is of ourselves. A Christian with faith from God cannot lose that faith from God. A so called ‘Christian’ with faith with no divine origin can lose that faith because it is not genuine faith, faith that is pleasing to God.

    “You put sovereignty above God’s nature”
    What? You don’t believe that God is naturally Sovereign? You don’t believe that sovereignty is a part of God’s nature?

    Calvinism has God continually acting in a way that contradicts His revealed nature and intentions.

    No. God is not just love, He is also just, He is also sovereign, He does what He wants to do.

    Do you not agree that God punishing sinners is not against His nature? God is just.

    Who’s will trumps who’s? In your view man’s will trumps God’s will. In my view, God’s will trumps man’s.

    Loving parents do not let their children do whatever they want(such as killing themselves), they force them to submit to their will. If the loving parents do not do that then they are not in control of their own household, and they do not really love their children.

    A loving God does not let His children do whatever they want. He ‘forces’ them to submit to HIs will(Part of how He does that by making them willing). If God does not do that then He is not sovereign, and does not really love HIs children.

    Who is more important? God or humans?
    I do not consider the giving of the choice to choose life or eternal suffering, eternal death, as a loving thing…because not all men will choose life.

    I do not believe that ‘loving’ is “letting someone do whatever they want.” I believe that ‘loving’ is to make the child you love do what is right.

    In fact, if determinism is true then God condemns the majority of His creation for perfectly fulfilling His will and doing exactly what He decreed for them to do from all eternity.”
    Your statement has already been answered:

    “One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists His will?” But who are you O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to Him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ “ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the objects of His wrath – prepared for destruction? What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the objects of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory-“ Romans 9:19-23

    The CEV puts it even more clearly:
    Someone may ask, “How can God blame us, if he makes us behave in the way he wants us to?” But, my friend, I ask, “Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did?
    (Romans 9:19-20)

    “So one of you will ask me: “Then why does God still blame us for our sins? Who can fight His will?” You are only human, and human beings have no right to question God. An object should not ask the person who made it, “Why did you make me like this?” The potter can make anything he wants to make. He can use the same clay to make one thing for special use and another thing for daily use. It is the same way with God” NCV

    I will stop now….but, I just want to say that I may not reply to any response you give. If you have already dealt with these arguments before, and since I have already dealt with arguments very similar to yours, then it will be a useless debate..as I am sure you will agree. I just couldn’t resist the urge to answer your rebuttal…

    I will pray that God will bless you too (in coming to see how salvation is totally of Him 🙂 )

    Sincerely,

    Sarah L.

  74. Sarah,

    You misunderstood some of what I was saying to you so I will respond for the sake of clarification. I don’t mind continuing with this discussion (and my next response may be rather lengthy) but it may be quite a while in between responses from my end.

    And of course, as I mentioned before, I do see salvation as being totally of God. Faith is not part of salvation but the condition that must be met to receive salvation and even faith is God enabled. So faith alone is synergistic and salvation is monergistic (God alone saves and can save). Since faith is not “part” of salvation it is not proper for you to suggest that I do not see salvation as being totally “of Him.”

    God Bless,
    Ben

  75. Hi Sarah,

    I know, it is by faith. But there are different kinds of faith according to Calvinism: 1) genuine faith and 2) false faith. Only genuine faith is justifying. And how does anyone know whether his/her faith is of kind 1?

    It is ultimately depending on some kind of introspection. You must look into yourself, how you life is improving, whether you can detect the works of God in you, how He is working out your sanctifiation. That is the opinion of Calvinism.

    Faith ? Okay, but then the problem begins. You must have “genuine” faith. Genuine faith vs. “head faith” is a man-made concept. There is actually no distinction of those 2 kinds of faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is always faith in Jesus Christ.

    So according to calvinism faith is only genuine if it is supported by some self-examination. Here we go, looking at the righteousness within oneself!

    Greetings
    Kehrhem “a helmet” Kröger

  76. Sarah,
    If we were justified by works, then it would be by something that we have done, and therefore we would be earning our salvation…and salvation would be our work.

    Right. So what do Calvinists have to do? They must interpret their works as something different, namely not the way to justification, but the necessary result of it. They must give their own works another meaning. The evidence that grace ever happened to them. So the result is, that they must work (=have evidence) but nevertheless cannot boast in their works, because they must be understood as the work of God in them and through them.

    So the only differenc, and let me repeat: really the only difference between a “classical” works-based religion and calvinism is the boasting issue. Calvinists must work and still have no grounds to boast.

  77. Ben,

    “Faith is not part of salvation but the condition that must be met to receive salvation and even faith is God enabled.”
    I disagree…I believe that faith IS a part of salvation. We are not saved unless we have it. Are we not justified by faith????? You are not justified unless you have faith, right? You are not sanctified unless you have faith, right? Faith is a part of salvation. And God provides the whole of salvation.
    “So faith alone is synergistic and salvation is monergistic (God alone saves and can save).”
    So we are justified by OUR doing and His doing? We are justified by our own doing( justification/faith)? If your view is correct, then God saves us on the basis of what we DO. We are justified by CHOICE of the good. We are justified if we CHOOSE to believe…He saves us if we have acted in a manner that is pleasing to Him(demonstrating faith). Thus, instead of Christ’s work being the sole justification, it is Christ’s work AND our work that justifies us. If it were by our faith that we are justified, then it is not by Christ that we are justified, but by our faith. Christ is not the sole justifier of sinners. And redemption is not found solely in Him but in Him and our faith.
    I think not. Christ is our Justifier…thus it is HIS faith by which He justifies us…so He and He alone is the Justifier. Faith is given to us GRACIOUSLY…it is unmerited, it is a grace of God.
    For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
    (Romans 3:20-28)

    “Since faith is not “part” of salvation it is not proper for you to suggest that I do not see salvation as being totally “of Him.””
    Again, I must disagree. It is very proper for me to state that you do not see salvation as being totally of Christ/God.
    You think that God CANNOT save a person unless that person exhibits faith on his own. God may have enabled man to have faith but, God’s work of enabling a man to have faith doesn’t save that man. Man must save himself by choosing to have that faith. God can’t save people, man must save himself. God/Christ’s work of enablement doesn’t save a person, it is the person’s choice that ultimately saves him. Thus, salvation, in your view, is a synergistic thing.
    Saved by His grace, not my faith,
    Sarah

  78. Sarah,

    You are confusing the condition of salvation with salvation itself. Salvation is the end result of faith (1 Peter 1:9).

    So we are justified by OUR doing and His doing? We are justified by our own doing( justification/faith)? If your view is correct, then God saves us on the basis of what we DO.

    No, we do not justify ourselves, it is God who accounts faith as righteousness (Galatians 3:6), and even provides us means to believe at all, hence He is the justifier of those who believe in Jesus.

    …being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)

    Thus, instead of Christ’s work being the sole justification, it is Christ’s work AND our work that justifies us.

    You are badly equivocating faith and works.

    Faith is given to us GRACIOUSLY…it is unmerited, it is a grace of God.

    Note that ‘conditional’ and ‘meritorious’ are not the same thing.

    You think that God CANNOT save a person unless that person exhibits faith on his own.

    How could one’s faith be ‘on his own’ if it is God who enables him to believe?

    God may have enabled man to have faith but, God’s work of enabling a man to have faith doesn’t save that man. Man must save himself by choosing to have that faith. God can’t save people, man must save himself.

    A man meeting the necessary condition for salvation by the grace of God is a far cry from ‘saving himself,’ since he isn’t doing the redemptive work. He is allowed to receive or reject Christ, which will determine his fate in eternity; such a concept is plainly scriptural:

    Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

    Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:46)

    If one coming to faith didn’t involve any compliance on his or her part, there would be little need to appeal to people to be reconciled to God,

    …that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:19-20)

    God/Christ’s work of enablement doesn’t save a person, it is the person’s choice that ultimately saves him. Thus, salvation, in your view, is a synergistic thing.

    No, a choice does not innately save anyone, for if God did not graciously account faith as righteousness, then we could not be saved, for no one can merit salvation in His sight.

  79. Kehrhelm Kroger,

    Faith in Jesus Christ is always faith in Jesus Christ.
    I agree. But not all who claim to have faith in Christ have faith in Him alone. A lot of people probably have faith in their faith, they make an idol out of faith. Those people may be looking to Christ…but they are also looking at their faith, they expect their faith to save them. We are supposed to look to Christ for our salvation, not our faith. Faith is not the focus, the object of our faith Christ/God is.

    “I know, it is by faith. But there are different kinds of faith according to Calvinism: 1) genuine faith and 2) false faith. Only genuine faith is justifying. And how does anyone know whether his/her faith is of kind 1? …So according to calvinism faith is only genuine if it is supported by some self-examination. Here we go, looking at the righteousness within oneself!
    Yes…….. we are looking for righteousness within ourselves, or we are at least looking for the results of righteousness within ourselves, but, as Christians, the question is, “who’s righteousness?” People with ‘genuine faith’ will be looking to God/Christ, they will be acknowledging that any righteousness that they find demonstrated in themselves is of God/Christ.
    I should clarify though, that we do not base our conviction of salvation on what we see, or feel inside. We base it on God’s word, on God’s promises…knowing that He never breaks them. Our conviction of salvation does not rest on whether we feel ‘saved’, but on God’s word. As Martin Luther said,

    For feelings come and feelings go
    And feelings are deceiving.
    My warrant is the Word of God
    Naught else is worth believing

    Though all my heart should feel condemned
    For want of some sweet token.
    There is One greater than my heart
    Whose word cannot be broken.

    I’ll trust in God’s unchanging word
    Till soul and body sever.
    For though all thing should pass away
    His word shall stand forever.

    Again, we have righteousness, but it is not of ourselves, but of Christ. We do not have a righteousness of ourselves(i.e. faith), we have the righteousness of Christ. In order for justification to be totally of God, the God ordained means(faith) of the justification must be of God.

    Did Christ die to justify His own, or did He die to enable His own to justify themselves? Or, to quote Michael Horton, “Did Jesus satisfy God’s justice on the cross? Or do we satisfy God’s justice when we believe?”

    If faith is of man, then when our faith is credited as righteousness, the ‘credit’ for our justification goes to ourselves..not to God. It is not the righteousness of Christ that justifies us, but the righteousness of man/ourselves. Since man’s righteousness is what justifies him, then he has reason to boast.
    If we are justified by faith, and if faith is of ourselves, then how can God be “just and justifier” if faith is of ourselves?

    If faith is of God/Christ, then when our faith is credited as righteousness, the ‘credit’ for the faith goes to God. The righteousness of Christ is what justifies us. Christ’s righteousness justifies man, therefore man can only boast about Christ.

    Faith is of God/Christ. Look at Young’s Literal Translation on Romans 3:22-26:

    “.. and the righteousness of God is through the faith of Jesus Christ to all, and upon all those believing, –for there is no difference ,for all did sin, and are come short of the glory of God– being declared righteous freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God did set forth a mercy seat, through the faith in his blood, for the shewing forth of His righteousness, because of the passing over of the bygone sins in the forbearance of God– for the shewing forth of His righteousness in the present time, for His being righteous, and declaring him righteous who is of the faith of Jesus.”

    “So the only differenc, and let me repeat: really the only difference between a “classical” works-based religion and calvinism is the boasting issue. Calvinists must work and still have no grounds to boast”
    I do not believe that Christians MUST work, I believe that Christians WILL work.
    It is a natural assumption that a Christian would do ‘good’ works. If you saw someone who said that he loved God, but who didn’t care about what God wants him to do…such as love other people, preach the Gospel etc., wouldn’t you consider him to be a hypocrite?
    Yes, I believe that my works don’t contribute to my salvation, and they do not save me. But, I also know that I should not just go out and sin, even though my salvation is fixed. As Romans 6 talks about, I am dead to sin, it would be absurd for me to keep on sinning, as I am not a sinner anymore, sin should not define my life, I am a Christian now, I have a new life, I am to be characterized as being ‘Christ-like”.

    “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that the grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:1-4

    If someone claims to be a Christian, but who hasn’t changed in their desires, their life, then I would doubt that they are really a Christian. A Christian has a new life. If someone claims to be a Christian, but still lives the same old life, characterized by sin, he had before his claim, then he wouldn’t have a new life.
    A Christian has a NEW LIFE, a life characterized by serving God.
    If a person claims to be a Christian, we expect them to act like a Christian…not because those Christian actions save them, but because they demonstrate that they ARE saved.
    A Christian does not have to do good works, but a Christian WILL do good works…that is what a Christian does.

  80. Ben, Kehrhelm Kroger, J.C. Thibodaux,

    Let’s get back to my main question,

    “WHY”. None of you seem to be able to answer that question. Why do some people choose to believe and others do not? Why do some choose to have faith, and others do not? Why do some people want salvation and others do not?

    Why are some people good and others bad? You would consider the act of choosing to have faith a GOOD, a RIGHTEOUS act, correct? You couldn’t call it an unrighteous act, so it must be righteous.

    And you would consider the act of a person refusing to have faith, a BAD, an UNRIGHTEOUS act, correct?

    Why are some people good and others bad? Why do some people choose to be good and others bad?

    Can’t you see my problem?

    Sirs, I truly have trouble with this.

  81. Sarah,

    “WHY”. None of you seem to be able to answer that question. Why do some people choose to believe and others do not?

    I’ve answered this question several times before, notably when John Hendryx asked it. The question of, ‘why does one choose and not another’ simply begs the question of Determinism. If God by His grace allows one to receive or reject Christ, then that person has a contrary choice, there doesn’t need to be a deeper, underlying factor that made him choose one way or another. As example of contrary choice from scripture, I point to 1 Corinthians 10:13,

    No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

    We as Christians never face temptation that we can’t resist and overcome, God always gives us a way of escape; yet many Christians when faced with situations of temptation fall to it anyway. Why? What makes one resist and another yield? The only viable answer is that we have some measure of contrary choice, which if true makes the whole ‘why does one do X and not another’ question moot, since it provides the answer that one can of his/her own accord do X and another refuse.

  82. Sarah,

    We are supposed to look to Christ for our salvation, not our faith. Faith is not the focus, the object of our faith Christ/God is.

    This has already been thoroughly addressed, since we do not believe that it is our faith innately that saves us, but the work of Christ in us, for which faith is the condition.

    We do not have a righteousness of ourselves(i.e. faith)….

    Faith comes by hearing and receiving the word of God, and hence is of God by His grace, not something we produce of our own capacities (though this does not make believing irresistible). Your arguments about faith being a ‘reason to boast’ then are fallacies, since we cannot come to faith apart from God’s grace.

    Did Christ die to justify His own, or did He die to enable His own to justify themselves?

    Your question is in error, as I’ve already pointed out, we do not justify ourselves by faith, but God is He who justifies those who have faith,

    …being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)

    So if it’s God who graciously justifies the one who has faith in Jesus, then how can one truthfully say a man justifies himself by faith?

    Or, to quote Michael Horton, “Did Jesus satisfy God’s justice on the cross? Or do we satisfy God’s justice when we believe?”

    Both answers are wrong in the context which Horton frames them. Christ satisfied God’s justice on the cross, not unconditionally, but for all those who believe; so God does not justify us through Christ’s death until we believe. If it were not conditioned upon faith, then we would be atoned for and forgiven before we believe, which idea has no basis in scripture.

  83. Sarah,

    Here is a CARM thread where a Calvinist poses the same question you pose here.

    http://www.christiandiscussionforums.org/v/showthread.php?t=129699

    Here is an excellent answer by an Arminian who calls himself Marvin the Martian:

    I love the question, because it highlights the difference between A & C so well in a way that favors A. Trust in another gives no glory to the truster and all glory to the trusted. Faith is the renouncing of any merit, but reliance on God and his unmerited favor. Thus, faith is the perfect vehicle through which God could have a fair basis for accountability and yet there be no merit in the basis of accountability. The Arminian need not run away from the fact that there is indeed a difference between the believer and unbeliever that leads to salvation vs. condemnation. We should embrace it. That is what makes God’s salvation of believers and condemnation of unbelievers not arbitrary. It is the very point we want to claim against the Calvinist (of a certain type, and I would say the consistent ones) view that God saves and rejects UNCONDITIONALLY. It is the non-meritorious means of faith through which we are saved. Mark well: The question of what the difference between the one who has faith and the one who does not is simply that one trusts God and the other does not. This is why God saves one and condemns the other, by his own sovereign will and grace. He is not obligated, but out of unmerited favor reckons faith as righteousness. And this provides for a non-arbitrary basis of non-meritorious salvation and de-meritorious condemnation, so all the glory goes to God for salvation and all the blame goes to man for his own condemnation. God is so wise.

    As far as God is concerned, which is what matters, one cannot boast about faith because it receives a free gift. If someone offered you and your friend a million dollars, and you took it and your friend did not, would that mean you could boast about taking it? Not legitimately. There would be no merit to you for taking it, but your friend would be foolish for not taking it. That’s why faith is so perfect for God providing a basis for accountability that gives no glory to the believer/receiver, but all the glory to God, the giver, and at the same time heaps deserved condemnation and shame upon the unbeliever/rejecter. Hardly anyone would ever think that someone could legitimately boast for receiving a free gift. Still, someone can boast about anything they want to. The important question is whether it is legitimate boasting. In such a case, it would obviously not be. And most importantly, biblically it is not.

    Now you seem to claim that this type of answer does not answer the question because there has to be something that irresistibly caused the person to choose what he chooses. But you have a hard time understanding the answer I think because of your deterministic presuppositions. One believes because God enables one to do so, and because one chooses to do so. So the difference between the believer and non-believer with regard to faith, if one takes God out of the picture as you insist is the person himself, as a causal agent. But as I laid out, this is to be embraced and is an advantage of A over C. For faith is not a meritorious work, but merely the receiving of a free gift. It really is a beautiful thing, providing for a non-arbitrary basis of non-meritorious salvation and de-meritorious condemnation, so all the glory goes to God for salvation and all the blame goes to man for his own condemnation (unlike the logical implications though not typically the outright claim of C, which has people not being able to believe but only to sin unless God chooses for them to believe and be saved). God is so wise.

    So you have a hard time acknowldeging that the A has answered your question because you reject free will. But it is the nature of free will that the choice made is not irresistibly caused by anyone but oneself. So you probably need to understand the A view of free will to understand the A answer. So let me repeat some material I have been articulatring in another recent thread. Here are some comments from Norman Geisler in the Elwell Evangelical Dictionary about the A position:

    “On this view a person’s acts are caused by himself. Self determinists accept the fact that such factors as heredity and environment often influence one’s behavior. However, they deny that such factors are the determining causes of one’s behavior. Inanimate objects do not change without an outside cause, but personal subjects are able to direct their own actions. As previously noted, self determinists reject the notions that events are uncaused or that they cause themselves. Rather, they believe that human actions can be caused by human beings. Two prominent advocates of this view are Thomas Aquinas and C S Lewis.

    Many object to self determinism on the grounds that if everything needs a cause, then so do the acts of the will. Thus it is often asked, What caused the will to act? The self determinist can respond to this question by pointing out that it is not the will of a person that makes a decision but the person acting by means of his will. And since the person is the first cause of his acts, it is meaningless to ask what the cause of the first cause is. Just as no outside force caused God to create the world, so no outside force causes people to choose certain actions. For man is created in God’s image, which includes the possession of free will.”

    Part of the point is that there are many causes/influences on our behavior, but we decide what cause or influence we will act on. So there can be any number of reasons for our actions. Our free actions are not without cause. They are simply without irresistible causes. To claim that there must be an irresistible cause or that any cause that is acted upon is necessarily irresistible is to assume determinism and beg the question. Although he obviously disagrees with the position, Thomist puts it well when he says, “Ethical libertarians don’t believe that choices are RANDOM, but rather that they are sufficiently SELF-DETERMINED (the result of rational personal DELIBERATION)”. One person chooses to believe when another does not because of whatever reason(s) each decided was the best to follow. And it cannot be assumed that the reason(s) was irrersistible.

  84. Sarah,

    Why do some choose to have faith, and others do not?

    I don’t think anyone chooses to have faith. I don’t think that makes sense, you cannot choose to believe sth, you either believe and cannot help doing so, or you don’t believe. You may believe weakly or strongly, depending on your background information. When you see evidence, you come to faith. If you see more and more evidence, the faith grows stronger and you cannot help, you must believe. No one “chooses” to believe.

    But you can close your eyes to the evidences that would lead to faith. That is a different matter.

    I think you concern is about the different hearers, those who hear the word. Well, it depends on the soil where the seed falls on: you must be a good ground. Then you will believe.

    How to become a good ground? See for example (http://meditationonthegospelofjohn.blogspot.com/2008/07/gospel-becoming-fruitful-soil.html)

    “The Gospel – Becoming a Fruitful Soil”.

    Greetings
    Kehrhelm “a helmet” Kröger

  85. Sarah,

    People with ‘genuine faith’ will be looking to God/Christ, they will be acknowledging that any righteousness that they find demonstrated in themselves is of God/Christ.


    If faith is of man, then when our faith is credited as righteousness, the ‘credit’ for our justification goes to ourselves..not to God. It is not the righteousness of Christ that justifies us, but the righteousness of man/ourselves. Since man’s righteousness is what justifies him, then he has reason to boast.

    If man’s righteousness were what justifies him, he would still not have any reason to boast. Note, obedience to God does not merit anything! It is just and equitable. Only fair. There wouldn’t be any reason to boast anyway. No “credit” anyway!


    If someone claims to be a Christian, but who hasn’t changed in their desires, their life, then I would doubt that they are really a Christian. A Christian has a new life. If someone claims to be a Christian, but still lives the same old life, characterized by sin, he had before his claim, then he wouldn’t have a new life.

    How many sins would you tolerate before you conclude that a specific person has no changed life? Where is the “dead line” ? What is the standard of measurement, personal opinion?

    Do you not sin anymore? If someone sins, where is the limit where you would say “enough is enogh” ?

  86. J. C. Thibodaux,

    “If God by His grace allows one to receive or reject Christ, then that person has a contrary choice, there doesn’t need to be a deeper, underlying factor that made him choose one way or another.”

    So you believe in chance. I must admit, I do not. I believe that God rules, that God is sovereign in all things, including salvation. I do not believe that chance is the ruler, or the sovereign in salvation.
    My God is not worried that the people He loves will not be saved, He will save them, their salvation is fixed. Your God must be worried, because He isn’t sovereign in salvation, chance is…it’s a fifty-fifty chance whether one man will choose to have faith, or not. Your God will not be satisfied with Christ’s work, Christ’s death did not save every single person He loves…God’s plan, to have all men saved, is failing, and most definitely failED.

    “We as Christians never face temptation that we can’t resist and overcome, God always gives us a way of escape; yet many Christians when faced with situations of temptation fall to it anyway. Why? What makes one resist and another yield? The only viable answer is that we have some measure of contrary choice, which if true makes the whole ‘why does one do X and not another’ question moot, since it provides the answer that one can of his/her own accord do X and another refuse.”

    Christians and unbelievers or two different peoples. The “whys” in what Christians do are different from the “whys” in what unbelievers do.

    Christians have a new nature…yet they have an unglorified body. We would expect to see conflict between their new nature and the remnants of the old man. We would not, on the other hand, expect to see conflict between the unbelievers sinful nature and his body because they are both in total agreement, they both want to sin.

    The difference between Christians and unbelievers is that, though Christians do sinful things, as it says in Romans 7, it is not really they themselves(justified/glorified/sanctified new natures) that are doing it. Christians do bad things against their will, against their new nature. Unbelievers do bad things with their will and nature in total agreement.

    ”Your arguments about faith being a ‘reason to boast’ then are fallacies, since we cannot come to faith apart from God’s grace.”

    Where did I ever say that we have faith without God’s grace? I say that faith IS a Grace of God….it is inseparable from grace because it is a Grace…We did not ‘merit’ Christ’s giving us faith, we were given it gratuitously.
    I am not denying that you say that man has the ability to come to faith by/through grace. I am saying that the act choosing to come to faith is not of grace in your view. If you say that every single thing, including the choice of man, is of grace…then where is your ‘free-will’?

    Yes, in your view, God graciously gave man a choice, but He doesn’t graciously make men take the right choice…therefore, man must make a choice on His own, unforced, freely….He must do a righteous act, He must CHOOSE to believe, CHOOSE to use His God-given ability to come to faith. It is a righteous act to do what God wants/commands.

    Even in your view, God doesn’t want all men to be saved, He doesn’t want what is best for all men. If He did, then He would make sure all men were saved. Instead, God doesn’t want what’s best for them, your God wants all men to have what they want, either Hell(which isn’t best for their spiritual, or physical well-being) or Heaven, He doesn’t care, as long as we get what we want. He doesn’t’ want all men to be saved, He wants all men to have the ability to hate Him, and His standards, if they want to.

    If you reply that He does care…then I reply,
    THEN WHY DOESN’T HE SAVE ALL MEN?????????? IF HE REALLY LOVES THEM, HE WILL SAVE THEM EVEN AGAINST THEIR WILL.

    My God saves all of the people He loves. Your God says He loves all people, but He would rather they have the choice of Hell, than change all of their wills and give them faith, He would rather have the people He loves be punished forever, rather than make them do the right.

    “So if it’s God who graciously justifies the one who has faith in Jesus, then how can one truthfully say a man justifies himself by faith?”

    Because, in your view, the faith by which man is justified is not of God, it is of man. God doesn’t justify man graciously…He does it by whether man has faith which merits justification. Justification is man’s reward for choosing faith…faith is a ‘praiseworthy quality’ in man… a justification deserving quality. God will not justify anyone who has not chosen to believe.

  87. Ben,

    “I love the question, because it highlights the difference between A & C so well in a way that favors A. Trust in another gives no glory to the truster and all glory to the trusted. Faith is the renouncing of any merit, but reliance on God and his unmerited favor. Thus, faith is the perfect vehicle through which God could have a fair basis for accountability and yet there be no merit in the basis of accountability.”

    I am not necessarily saying that it is the faith/trust that is meritorious(although I think that a case could probably be made ), my point is that the CHOOSING to have that faith/trust…that choosing to renounce merit, that CHOICE, is a righteous act…and that act, is apart from God’s grace. The act of choosing to use/benefit by God’s grace is an act done apart from God’s grace. In order to CHOOSE to take advantage of God’s gracious enabling of faith, you must be WITHOUT the grace, right? You cannot choose to have faith, even by God’s gracious enablement, unless you choose to take advantage of that enablement.
    “The question of what the difference between the one who has faith and the one who does not is simply that one trusts God and the other does not.”
    No, that is not the point. I KNOW that one trusts God and one does not. But, again, WHY? I mean, Why does one choose to trust God and another does not? Your answer would have to be, CHANCE. Every single person has free-will, they all have prevenient grace…but the choice to benefit by that prevenient grace is up to them. There is a chance that someone will choose, and a chance that they won’t. It’s not fixed. And even after a person decides to use their God given enablement to have faith, their salvation is not fixed. There is a CHANCE that they will keep that faith, or fall away. In your view, salvation is by chance. Nothing forces them to choose what they choose…what God wants, or what they want. Thus chance rules over man…God doesn’t. God’s will must give way to chance…to man.

    “That’s why faith is so perfect for God providing a basis for accountability that gives no glory to the believer/receiver, but all the glory to God, the giver, and at the same time heaps deserved condemnation and shame upon the unbeliever/rejecter.”

    I disagree. It does give glory to the believer…their salvation is ultimatly in their hands. They must choose to have faith, and they must hold on to that faith. Once a man chooses to trust in God, God can’t make him keep trusting…God cannot determine that person’s salvation.

    Both of us believe in determinism. I believe that God determines a man’s salvation, and you believe that man determines his own salvation. You believe that Man’s choice trumps God’s choice, you believe that man’s will trumps God’s will, you believe that man’s desires trump God’s desires…God is not sovereign…He is overruled. God cannot do what He wants(save all men), but man can do what he wants(choose Hell or Heaven).
    In your view, man is the master of his own destiny, in mine, God is the Master of man’s destiny.
    “Just as no outside force caused God to create the world, so no outside force causes people to choose certain actions.”
    So, what about the inside force? Such as the desire to sin? All human beings have that.
    I don’t believe in chance.
    “For man is created in God’s image, which includes the possession of free will.”

    And the Bible says this where? Please give me a verse that says that man has free will.

    “To claim that there must be an irresistible cause or that any cause that is acted upon is necessarily irresistible is to assume determinism and beg the question”
    I believe that God is the determine, I do not believe that there is such a thing as chance….or that God left man’s salvation up to chance/randomness.
    I do not believe that there is such a thing as chance.
    I do not believe in fataltalism either(or are they the same thing?)…but you seem to. As I read in Michael Horton’s book, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace:

    “Even though election means that salvation is determined by God, it is the antithesis of fatalism. Had God merely provided salvation for everybody and then stepped back to let the chips fall where they may, then you would have fatalism.”

    Or as Charles Spurgeon said:
    “What is fate? Fate is this — Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, Whatever God ordains must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains any thing without a purpose. Every thing in this world is working for some one great end. Fate does not say that. Fate simply says that the thing must be; Providence says, God moves the wheels along, and there they are. If any thing would go wrong, God puts it right; and if there is any thing that would move awry, he puts his hand and alters it. It comes to the same thing; but there is a difference as to the object. There is all the difference between fate and Providence that there is between a man with good eyes and a blind man. Fate is a blind thing; it is the avalanche crushing the village down below and destroying thousands. Providence is not an avalanche; it is a rolling river, rippling at the first like a rill down the sides of the mountain, followed by minor streams, till it rolls in the broad ocean of everlasting love, working … especially for the good of the chosen people of God. The wheels are full of eyes; not blind wheels.”

  88. Sarah,

    Your God must be worried, because He isn’t sovereign in salvation, chance is…it’s a fifty-fifty chance whether one man will choose to have faith, or not.

    Your invective is not only childish, but illogical as well:

    1. God being sovereign in salvation does not necessitate the idea of Determinism, since He can sovereignly choose to save whoever will believe and still remain as all-powerful.

    2. Why are you conflating ‘chance’ with ‘will’? If you’re going to play that amateurish game, would you also contend that it’s by ‘chance’ that God elects people?

    Your God will not be satisfied with Christ’s work, Christ’s death did not save every single person He loves…God’s plan, to have all men saved, is failing, and most definitely failED.

    Wow, you swallow canards easily, don’t you? His plan was that all who believe in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16), concerning which He is much satisfied with Christ’s work and most definitely succeeded.

    Christians and unbelievers or two different peoples. The “whys” in what Christians do are different from the “whys” in what unbelievers do.

    You are willfully ignoring the issue Sarah, your ‘why does one choose and not another?’ argument can only stand if Determinism is true; which since the scope of which would apply to both believing and unbelieving, if it can be shown to not apply to those who stand by God’s grace, then neither can it be reasonably applied without scriptural evidence to the unbelieving in light of prevenient grace.

    Christians have a new nature…yet they have an unglorified body. We would expect to see conflict between their new nature and the remnants of the old man.

    And likewise we expect to see conflicts in the fallen nature and prevenient grace. Note also that Romans 7 is speaking of Paul’s experience prior to his conversion, the law of sin and death (vs 23) from which God had set him free (8:2).

    I stated:
    “Your arguments about faith being a ‘reason to boast’ then are fallacies, since we cannot come to faith apart from God’s grace.”

    You replied:
    Where did I ever say that we have faith without God’s grace?

    I didn’t.

    I say that faith IS a Grace of God….it is inseparable from grace because it is a Grace…We did not ‘merit’ Christ’s giving us faith, we were given it gratuitously.

    No, we believe through grace, grace itself is not belief. You keep falling back on the same fallacy that receiving faith must mean that we merited it, such heavy dependency upon quite obvious logical errors is one of the things that convinces me that Calvinism as a whole is rationally bankrupt.

    I am not denying that you say that man has the ability to come to faith by/through grace. I am saying that the act choosing to come to faith is not of grace in your view.

    And there’s your problem: logical inconsistency. If we only have the ability to believe by grace, then it by virtue of that fact is of grace.

    If you say that every single thing, including the choice of man, is of grace…then where is your ‘free-will’?

    Perhaps before making such wild claims about what we believe you should study the issue enough to understand it.

    Yes, in your view, God graciously gave man a choice, but He doesn’t graciously make men take the right choice…

    That is true.

    …therefore, man must make a choice on His own, unforced, freely…

    If it’s only by grace that man can believe, that couldn’t logically be called ‘on his own,’ now could it?

    He must do a righteous act, He must CHOOSE to believe…

    Faith itself is not righteousness, nor is it a ‘work,’ which cannot justify men. Faith is graciously accounted as righteousness by God.

    Even in your view, God doesn’t want all men to be saved, He doesn’t want what is best for all men. If He did, then He would make sure all men were saved.

    Another error in logic: God’s desire that men be saved does not imply that He’s willing to irresistibly impel them to believe.

    If you reply that He does care…then I reply,
    THEN WHY DOESN’T HE SAVE ALL MEN?????????? IF HE REALLY LOVES THEM, HE WILL SAVE THEM EVEN AGAINST THEIR WILL.

    There’s really no need to shout Sarah. Your logic again doesn’t follow, nothing about God’s desire that all men be saved necessitates that He would necessarily wish to do so in spite of their willful stubbornness and unrepentance, nor is there any evidence for such a claim.

    My God saves all of the people He loves.

    Really now? He seemed pretty upset over Jerusalem.

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

    Continuing,

    Your God says He loves all people, but He would rather they have the choice of Hell, than change all of their wills and give them faith, He would rather have the people He loves be punished forever, rather than make them do the right.

    Was there supposed to be an actual argument in there somewhere? But if you’re appealing to your feelings on the subject, I personally find such a prospect much more sound than a God who unconditionally creates a majority of men for the purpose of their being damned for all eternity.

    I said:
    “So if it’s God who graciously justifies the one who has faith in Jesus, then how can one truthfully say a man justifies himself by faith?”

    You replied:
    Because, in your view, the faith by which man is justified is not of God, it is of man.

    So we believe it’s only by God’s grace that we can have faith, yet you contradictorily insist that faith is ‘of man’ in our view? Chalk up one more absurdity for Calvinism….

    God doesn’t justify man graciously…He does it by whether man has faith which merits justification.

    But justification conditioned upon faith is gracious. As I’ve explained to you before (as has Ben, at least 6 times), faith does not ‘merit’ justification.

    Justification is man’s reward for choosing faith…faith is a ‘praiseworthy quality’ in man… a justification deserving quality.

    Your claim has no basis in scripture and no basis in logic; it’s a complete fabrication. The fact that your rebuttals hinge so much upon willfully ignoring the facts concerning our views demonstrates that your arguments are rooted in blind prejudice, not in the scriptures or sound reasoning.

  89. Sarah,

    …my point is that the CHOOSING to have that faith/trust…that choosing to renounce merit, that CHOICE, is a righteous act…

    Choosing to believe still does not merit justification.

    …and that act, is apart from God’s grace. The act of choosing to use/benefit by God’s grace is an act done apart from God’s grace.

    No, it is only by God’s grace that one can believe, hence it is by grace. You are forced to ignore the obvious in making your case.

    In order to CHOOSE to take advantage of God’s gracious enabling of faith, you must be WITHOUT the grace, right?

    No, grace must come first. What do you think ‘prevenient’ means?

    You cannot choose to have faith, even by God’s gracious enablement, unless you choose to take advantage of that enablement.

    You do realize that enablement is absolutely necessary for one to take advantage of it, right?

    “That’s why faith is so perfect for God providing a basis for accountability that gives no glory to the believer/receiver, but all the glory to God, the giver, and at the same time heaps deserved condemnation and shame upon the unbeliever/rejecter.”

    I disagree. It does give glory to the believer…their salvation is ultimatly in their hands.

    Christ thoroughly derails such concepts when He states,

    Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ (Luke 17:10)

    Obeying God in believing the gospel of Christ is not meritorious.

    You believe that Man’s choice trumps God’s choice, you believe that man’s will trumps God’s will, you believe that man’s desires trump God’s desires…God is not sovereign…He is overruled.

    And the errors just keep coming. God allowing men to have some measure of free will doesn’t mean that He isn’t sovereign, or that He couldn’t force the matter if He wished, since sovereignty doesn’t necessitate Determinism. If you disagree, fine, show us your evidence of such claims.

    In your view, man is the master of his own destiny, in mine, God is the Master of man’s destiny.

    Have you never even heard the principle of delegation?

    Please give me a verse that says that man has free will.

    Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, And teach me Your judgments. (Psalm 119:108)

    Not to mention the implications from 1 Corinthians 10:13 already cited.

  90. Kehrhelm Kroger,

    ”I don’t think anyone chooses to have faith”
    I don’t think that either…But I thought that you all thought that man has a choice. I believe that God chooses to give some men faith without asking if those men want to have it.

    “I don’t think that makes sense, you cannot choose to believe sth, you either believe and cannot help doing so, or you don’t believe. You may believe weakly or strongly, depending on your background information. When you see evidence, you come to faith. If you see more and more evidence, the faith grows stronger and you cannot help, you must believe. No one “chooses” to believe.
    But you can close your eyes to the evidences that would lead to faith. That is a different matter.

    I’m sorry, but in your view man still has a choice. He chooses to believe in that he accepts the evidence, He chooses not to believe by closing his eyes to the evidence. If he accepts the evidence, he believes, if he closes his eyes to it, he chooses not to believe. He has a choice to be led to faith, or a choice to ignore evidence….wait….I thought that faith was, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what WE DO NOT SEE.”-Hebrews 11:1 NIV

    What perceived evidence would make one have faith? It cannot be the accuracy of God’s word…I’m sure the ‘bibles’ of other religions have accurate things in them…and a lot of people dispute the accuracy of the Bible. And the evidence that the Bible is true would not be it’s/and our claim that it is God’s word… A lot of other people probably say that their books are God’s word..so why don’t we accept them as well? Something besides our own reason must make us believe that the Bible is true, that it is God’s word.

    Please excuse me for quoting John Calvin here:
    But although we maintain the sacred Word of God against gainsayers, it does not follow that we shall forthwith implant the certainty which faith requires in their hearts. Profane men think religion rests only on opinion, and therefore, that they may not believe foolishly, or on slight grounds desire and insist to have it proved by reason that Moses and the prophets were divinely inspired. But I answer that the testimony of the Spirit is superior to reason. For as God alone can properly bear witness to his own words, so these words will not obtain full credit in the hearts of men, until they are sealed by the inward testimony of the Spirit. The same Spirit, therefore, who spoke by the mouth of prophets, must penetrate our hearts, in order to convince us that they faithfully delivered the message with which they were divinely intrusted.

    “If man’s righteousness were what justifies him, he would still not have any reason to boast. Note, obedience to God does not merit anything! It is just and equitable. Only fair. There wouldn’t be any reason to boast anyway. No “credit” anyway!”
    Yes…man would have reason to boast. He was saved, not by God, but by himself. He doesn’t need God anymore…he is a righteous man in and of himself. He met God’s requirement for justification on his own. The focus is on man not on God.

    “How many sins would you tolerate before you conclude that a specific person has no changed life? Where is the “dead line” ? What is the standard of measurement, personal opinion?”

    No, personal opinion is not the standard of measurement.
    We humans cannot definitively say whether a person is saved or not. Only God knows that. We cannot condemn people….even after they’re dead, we don’t know if God may have changed them at the last moment.
    We might have an opinion on whether someone is a Christian at a time…but our opinion is not law…it is not absolute, as I believe you would agree.
    ” Do you not sin anymore?”
    Yes.
    When I was a little girl, and even now, in my late teens, I have struggled with the thought that I might not be saved…because I kept/keep sinning, and I know now that it is not those sins, or even the good things that I do, that I should be looking to for confirmation of my salvation.
    I am to be looking to Christ for my salvation…not my works. It is His promises that I look to, not my works..good or bad. I may sin, but as Paul says, I hate it! I am doing what I don’t want to do.
    I must remember that I am weak and He is strong…that His grace is sufficient for me, even in my weakness.

    Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    (Hebrews 12:2)

    Here are some quotes I like:

    My love is oft-times low,
    My joy still ebbs and flows;
    But peace with Him remains the same-
    No change Jehovah knows.

    I change, He changes not,
    The Christ can never die;
    His love, not mine, the resting place,
    His truth, not mine, the tie.

    Horatius Bonar

    And a quote by John Newton:

    I asked the Lord that I might grow
    In faith and love and every grace;
    Might more of His salvation know
    And seek more earnestly His face.

    T’was He who taught me thus to pray,
    And He I know has answered prayer;
    But it has been in such a way
    As almost drove me to despair.

    I hoped that in some favored hour,
    At once He’d answer my request;
    And by His love’s constraining power
    Subdue my sins and give me rest.

    Instead of this, He made me feel
    The hidden evils of my heart;
    And let the angry powers of Hell
    Assault my soul in every part.

    Yes! More! With His own hand it seemed
    Intent to aggravate my woe;
    Crossed all the fair designs I’d schemed,
    Blasted my gourds, and made me low.

    “Lord! Why is this?” I trembling cried;
    “Whilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”
    “Tis this way” The Lord replied
    “I answer for grace and faith.”

    “These inward trials I employ
    From self and pride to see thee free
    And break thy schemes of earthly joy
    That thou mayest seek thy ALL IN ME.”

    If someone sins, where is the limit where you would say “enough is enogh” ?

    If you mean that in the sense that we say “they are a lost cause!”, then no. ..only God can make the final call.

    But if you mean…would I ever come to consider a professing Christian an unbeliever..Yes. For example, If that person kept sinning, and didn’t try/or want to stop…saying that God’s grace covers it all, so he can live however he wants to…then yes, I would consider that person an unbeliever. If that person were truly a Christian, then he would desire to please God…he is a new creature…he shouldn’t be living in a sinful way, not trying to stop, or caring to stop.

    But, my word is not absolute, God’s is. If He wants, He can change that person, in His own time. I leave it up to God…keeping in mind that He does what He wants, and whatever He wants is right. 🙂

    Sarah

  91. The fact that your rebuttals hinge so much upon willfully ignoring the facts concerning our views demonstrates that your arguments are rooted in blind prejudice, not in the scriptures or sound reasoning.

    — I wish they change.

  92. Why are you conflating ‘chance’ with ‘will’? If you’re going to play that amateurish game, would you also contend that it’s by ‘chance’ that God elects people?
    I am sorry if I am amateur.

    No, I would not say that it is by ‘chance’ that God elects people. I say that it is according to the ‘good pleasure of His will.’

    I am talking about man here. God doesn’t have equal conflicting desires. He is perfect.
    I am trying to say that if all men are given an equal prevenient grace, then chance must be a part of their choosing to use that prevenient grace, or in choosing not to use it. You may assume that all men have equal grace, but do we not also assume that all men are equally bad? If they have an inclination for the wrong equal with the inclination for the good, then the fact that anyone makes a choice for one or the other is by chance. See my problem? Or do some men have good in them apart from prevenient grace that others do not have? Or are they given unequal amounts of prevenient grace?

    ” His plan was that all who believe in Him will have everlasting life (John 3:16), concerning which He is much satisfied with Christ’s work and most definitely succeeded.”

    So Christ’s work was never intended to save all people…it was only intended to save the ones believing. I believe the same thing. That Christ died to save all people who are believing in Him. Our problem is that we do not agree about why the ones who are believing in Him, are believing in Him.
    I believe that God gave Christ the authority to give eternal life,which includes faith, to all the people that God gave Him. “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” –John 17:2

    You probably think that the ones who were given to Christ were given because they believed, that they were given eternal life because they believed. I believe that faith is a part of the eternal life that Christ gives, the people given to Christ were given belief, were given faith, ensuring their salvation.. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
    (John 17:3)

    Christ gives eternal life, the knowing of God/Christ, to the people who are His. And because it is Christ who gives eternal life, no one can take it away from those possessing it.

    Note also that Romans 7 is speaking of Paul’s experience prior to his conversion, the law of sin and death (vs 23) from which God had set him free (8:2).

    It seems to me that verses 14-25 are in the present tense. And I do not believe that these verses can be speaking of an unconverted person:
    “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do, but what I hate I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sflesh. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now If I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me tha tdoes it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the flesh a slave to the law of sin.” Mostly NIV

    I do not think that an unbeliever would desire to do good, or that an unbeliever is a slave to God’s law in their mind, but an unwilling fleshly slave to sin…and the fact that Paul is thanking God through Christ Jesus for the fact that He will save him from his body of death really seems to indicate that Paul is a believer at this point.

    ”No, we believe through grace, grace itself is not belief.”

    Don’t we believe through faith? Since we believe through grace, through faith, doesn’t that seem to make that faith of grace?

    I believe through the grace of Jesus Christ:
    “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. “
    (Acts 15:11)

    I believe through the faith of Jesus Christ:
    And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
    (Philippians 3:9)

    Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
    (Hebrews 12:2)

    “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you”(Romans 12:3)

    I believe through Christ:
    But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    (Romans 6:22-23)

    We believe through grace, through faith, through Christ Jesus.
    God/Christ gives us faith graciously…faith is a grace, it is unmerited, we do not deserve to have it. We do not deserve to have the God ordained and God-given “means” of justification.
    We do not deserve justification, we deserve condemnation. So,we are justified by grace/faith, we are justified by Christ.

    If it’s only by grace that man can believe, that couldn’t logically be called ‘on his own,’ now could it?”

    Yes is could. Again, in your view God is not graciously making the sinner believe. For example, It is as though a father were holding out his hands to a child about to fall into a pit and drown, but the father is not graciously forcing the child to come to his arms, he is making the child reach out and grab his hands on his own. Please excuse the illustration, but that is basically what I mean by God making people have faith on their own. He is offering them the choice of faith or no faith, but He is not giving them the faith, He is making them choose it on their own.

    There’s really no need to shout Sarah.

    I apologize for that 🙂

    Your logic again doesn’t follow, nothing about God’s desire that all men be saved necessitates that He would necessarily wish to do so in spite of their willful stubbornness and unrepentance, nor is there any evidence for such a claim.

    Then why did God send His Son to die? For whom would He have died but for willfully stubborn people and unrepentant people?

    What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
    (Romans 3:9-18)

    But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    (Romans 5:8)

    Really now? He seemed pretty upset over Jerusalem.”

    But God knew that the people who were not willing would not be willing, Remember, the LORD told Moses that Israel would break the Agreement, that they would turn away from Himself:

    “And the LORD said to Moses, “You will soon die. Then these people will not be loyal to me but will worship the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will leave me, breaking the Agreement I made with them. Then I will become very angry at them, and I will leave them…Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites. Then have them sing it, because it will be my witness against them. When I bring them into the land I promised to their ancestors, a fertile land, they will eat as much as they want and get fat. …They will reject me and break my Agreement. Then when many troubles and terrible things happen to them, this song will testify against them… I know what they plan to do, even before take them into the land I promised them.” (Deutoronomy 31:15-21)

    This was God’s plan all along. It was His will that it should happen. And it did. He knew that that Israel would reject the Messiah. He knew they would rebel. But through their rejection, salvation would come to the Gentiles. Moses sang about these things in Deuteronomy 32. And God is still isn’t done with Israel, when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25-26) In Moses’s (how do make that plural? :)) song he even sang about the redemption of Israel: “Be happy, nations, with his people, because he will repay you for the blood of his servants. He will punish his enemies and he will remove the sin of his land and people”

    “this mystery, lest ye be wise in your own conceits, that a hardening in part hath befallen Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
    And this is my covenant unto them, When I shall take away their sins.
    As touching the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake. For the gifts and the calling of God are not repented of.” Romans 11:25-29

    “Again, I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious…” Romans 11:11

    I believe that in the future God will gather the Israelites together, by God’s grace they will be willing to be gathered together.

    “When all of these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you….The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live.” Deuteronomy 30:1-6

    And other passages, such as: Jer 31:10, Jer 32:37, etc.

    No, grace must come first. What do you think ‘prevenient’ means?

    I didn’t explain my point clearly. I am saying that Prevenient grace does not make someone believe, it doesn’t make them choose to believe, thus a man makes that choice apart from Prevenient grace. Man must make a choice unforced by grace. If grace is not forcing Him to choose, then He is choosing on His own..the grace to believe is there, if he chooses to use it. Grace may be influencing Him to some degree, but He makes the choice to follow the leading of grace on his own…he makes a choice by himself, he chooses whether he likes that grace or not.
    The way I see it is that a man is given prevenient grace, he is now able to choose the right. But what does that change? Does it make him have an equal desire for right as it does for the wrong? IF so, then how does he ever come to a decision? And why would he incline towards one more than the other? Does God give more prevenient grace to some people than others, thus inclining some more toward the good than others? If all men are given an equal amount of grace, then what’s going on? Some people must have a stronger inclination for good than others…and why would they have that stronger inclination? It seems that some people are good apart from prevenient grace. They have something that inclines them towards the right other than the prevenient grace. Can’t anyone understand what I am saying? Prevenient grace doesn’t make man believe, it gives him the option to believe. Why are some men more willing to believe than others? Were they just born with that inclination? Well, who created them? Did not God? Couldn’t’ God make it so that circumstances in ones life inclined one more towards belief than others? If all men have an equal amount of prevenient grace, then they must individually have a larger amount of some good or bad other than that prevenient grace…otherwise they wouldn’t be able to choose either good or bad since they are inclining equally towards both.

    You do realize that enablement is absolutely necessary for one to take advantage of it, right?

    Who cares if man is enabled to choose? If they all have an equal enablement, then why are they unequal in their decisions? Why do they even make choices?

    I am not sure if the passage in Luke 17:10 is talking about the choice of faith….Remember, right before, the disciples asked “Increase our faith!” Even Christ seems to acknowledge that they have faith in His illustration of the mustard seed. If they already have it, then why would Christ seem to think that they needed faith by telling them about the duty to have faith? I don’t see that it was faith that he was talking about…He just seems to be saying, that God doesn’t need to thank people for doing their duty.
    And I don’t see where it says that the servant was enabled to serve his master…I just remember it saying that it is his duty to serve his master.

    God allowing men to have some measure of free will doesn’t mean that He isn’t sovereign, or that He couldn’t force the matter if He wished, since sovereignty doesn’t necessitate Determinism. If you disagree, fine, show us your evidence of such claims.

    I believe that sovereignty necessitates absolute control. In your view, God is not in total control, He lets man act on His own…apart from God’s control of Him.

    Have you never even heard the principle of delegation?

    I’m not sure…is it that God delegates part of His power to man? Please explain what the principle is, and where it is supported in the Bible.
    I know that there are verses that say that man should choose salvation, but I don’t know of any place where it says that man can choose by his God given power of free will.

    “Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, And teach me Your judgments.” (Psalm 119:108)

    I think that that freewill in this sense meant that the Psalmist was willingly giving offerings of his mouth. If it really meant that God does not make man do what is right, then why does the Psalmist say:

    “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.
    (Psalms 119:36-40)

    Or as the CEV translates it:
    Make me want to obey you, rather than to be rich. Take away my foolish desires, and let me find life by walking with you. I am your servant! Do for me what you promised to those who worship you. Your wonderful teachings protect me from the insults that I hate so much. I long for your teachings. Be true to yourself and let me live.
    (Psalms 119:36-40)

    And

    Keep your promise and don’t let me stumble or let sin control my life.
    (Psalms 119:133)

    The Psalmist knew where his righteousness came from, he knew where his obedience came from, he knew where his right desires came from, God.
    As to the 1 Corinthians 10 verse, look at the context of the passage. Paul is speaking to Christians, not unbelievers. He does mention later what Christians are to do if they are invited to eat with an unbeliever, but verse 13 is speaking about believers. It doesn’t say that God won’t let unbelievers be tempted above what they can bear, or that he provides an escape for them. Paul is addressing believers:
    Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
    (1 Corinthians 1:1-9)

    .1 Corinthians is not addressed to unbelievers, but to Christians, and I think that that goes for most, if not all of the books of the New Testament.

  93. J. C. Thibodaux,

    I meant to address the above post to you. I also want to mention that my html got messed up…so some things are in bold when they shouldn’t be. I don’t know how to repost my post…sorry about that.

  94. 1 Corinthians is not addressed to unbelievers, but to Christians, and I think that that goes for most, if not all of the books of the New Testament.

    But this really doesn’t matter. The principle is the same. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 10:13 that God gives us sufficient grace to overcome salvation (“God is faithful…will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can endure…will provide a way out…so that you can stand up under it [i.e. bear it, resist it]).

    The question then becomes why does one Christian fail to resist while another overcomes? The difference cannot simply be grace because both were given sufficient grace and power to overcome temptation.

    This directly relates to the way sinners respond differently to God’s prevenient grace. You say the difference must be grace or else one would not choose to submit to Christ while the other resists. But then how do you explain why one Christian submits to God’s grace in resisting temptation while another resists that grace and gives in to temptation? The difference must be something other than grace, which is what you deny, because both receive sufficient grace and both are empowered to resist temptation.

    Now, if one Christian makes use of God’s grace and resists temptation and another does not then can the Christian who resists boast over the one who did not resist? Would you say that the act of taking advantage of God’s empowering grace to resist temptation was a “work” of man? Do you not see how this dismantles your entire argument and reveals the fact that you beg the question of determinism, and misunderstand the difference between faith and works?

    Also, you keep speaking of sinners prior to conversion as God’s children if they are the “elect.” The Bible nowhere refers to unbelievers as elect and the Bible never calls anyone God’s children prior to conversion. This is very important, and demonstrates that your theology is not being controlled by exegesis. Rather, you are reading your conception of election (that God elects sinners to become Christians) into the Biblical text.

    The only ones who are children of God are those who receive Him. The Bible never calls sinners children of God in a saving way (or in the context of intimate saving relationship or election). We are all God’s children in that He created us and is the Father of all those made in His image but He is Father in an intimate way only to believers. Your analogies fail because they do not consider the uniqueness of the Creator/creature relationship and because they assume that God creates only some as His children and creates others as refuse for eternal fire.

    The elect are God’s children in a special sense but they do not become His children until they believe (which is also when they become elect since they come to be in union with the Elect One- Jesus Christ).

    Look at John 1:12, “Yet to all that received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” Do you see that? Only those who receive him through faith (those who believe in his name) have the right to become children of God. They are not His children until they receive Him and believe and yet your entire argument rests on the biblically unfounded assumption that God causes the “elect” to believe unto salvation because they are already His children! See my further comments concerning John 1:12 to Ryan above.

    So God truly desires all to be saved (2 Tim. 2:4) but He does not desire them to be saved unconditionally. He has sovereignly decided to make salvation conditioned on faith in His Son. To say that He cannot do that is to rail against His sovereignty!

    God Bless,
    Ben

  95. Sarah,

    I apologize for that 🙂

    No prob.

    I am talking about man here. God doesn’t have equal conflicting desires.

    The two are comparable in this instance, since both have free wills to choose between desires.

    I am trying to say that if all men are given an equal prevenient grace, then chance must be a part of their choosing to use that prevenient grace, or in choosing not to use it.

    No, it needn’t be since a matter of will is not a matter of chance.

    If they have an inclination for the wrong equal with the inclination for the good, then the fact that anyone makes a choice for one or the other is by chance.

    That reasoning is fallacious, since in the libertarian view, nothing ‘makes’ one choose. One makes his or her own decisions, ‘chance’ doesn’t just make it for them. By that logic, all men being equally depraved by nature and lost in the eyes of God, would necessitate that His election of those saved be based upon ‘chance.’ Chalking His choices up to His will, but assuming that mens’ must be based upon ‘chance’ (whatever that means) is employing a rather absurd double standard. This appears to be rooted in your errant assumption that all choices must be irresistibly caused, so you assume that if it’s not by exhaustive divine determination, then it must be this enigmatic ‘chance’ entity that forces it.

    You probably think that the ones who were given to Christ were given because they believed,

    No, I believe they are given because they have been taught by God.

    “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.” (John 6:45)

    Those who despise His word and continue to resist the Holy Spirit will not be granted repentance unto life.

    …that they were given eternal life because they believed. I believe that faith is a part of the eternal life that Christ gives, the people given to Christ were given belief, were given faith, ensuring their salvation.. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

    Knowing Christ is eternal life in the sense that it’s the means by which we gain life eternal in Him. But concerning your argument, no, we obtain eternal life by coming to Christ in faith.

    “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)

    …buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)

    Christ gives eternal life, the knowing of God/Christ, to the people who are His. And because it is Christ who gives eternal life, no one can take it away from those possessing it.

    Actually, the scriptures indicate that God the Father will cut off from Christ those who don’t abide in Him (John 15, Romans 11:22).

    It seems to me that verses 14-25 are in the present tense. And I do not believe that these verses can be speaking of an unconverted person:

    They are in present tense, but used in the special case of the “historical present” (akin to a flashback/remembering what was). His statements about the hopelessness of his condition, with the law of sin and death working in him and bringing him into captivity is in clear contrast with his statements about having been freed from it in the following chapter. The man Paul describes himself as, powerless to do what good he desires, is nothing like what scripture tells us of the redeemed,

    …how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)

    I said:
    “No, we believe through grace, grace itself is not belief.”

    Don’t we believe through faith?

    Believe through faith? Isn’t that like saying “walk through steps”? To have faith is to believe.

    Since we believe through grace, through faith, doesn’t that seem to make that faith of grace?

    Absolutely, the problem is that you’re confusing what comes through grace with grace itself.

    I said:
    “If it’s only by grace that man can believe, that couldn’t logically be called ‘on his own,’ now could it?”

    You reply with:
    Yes is could. Again, in your view God is not graciously making the sinner believe.

    For example, It is as though a father were holding out his hands to a child about to fall into a pit and drown, but the father is not graciously forcing the child to come to his arms, he is making the child reach out and grab his hands on his own.

    and,

    I didn’t explain my point clearly. I am saying that Prevenient grace does not make someone believe, it doesn’t make them choose to believe, thus a man makes that choice apart from Prevenient grace.

    and,

    Man must make a choice unforced by grace. If grace is not forcing Him to choose, then He is choosing on His own.

    But if it’s only by God’s grace that one can believe, then the person who believes has already received enablement from God, therefore faith can never be ‘on our own.’

    The reasoning you employ is very untenable, as it is logically impossible to take any action apart from what enables that action. Take the situation of a 30 story building with upper floors that can only be reached by elevator; a person may stop at the 30th floor or get off before then, but by your logic, if he chooses to get off at the top floor, because the elevator didn’t force him to stop at the top floor, his stopping at the top floor must have been ‘on his own’ apart from any action of the elevator! It’s equally ridiculous to say that man chooses to follow God on his own apart from prevenient grace if he’s not forced to, since it’s only by prevenient grace that he may believe.

    I said:
    “Your logic again doesn’t follow, nothing about God’s desire that all men be saved necessitates that He would necessarily wish to do so in spite of their willful stubbornness and unrepentance, nor is there any evidence for such a claim.”

    You reply:
    Then why did God send His Son to die? For whom would He have died but for willfully stubborn people and unrepentant people?

    No, though God allows them opportunity to be saved, people who persist in unrepentance and rebellion against Him will perish.

    [Concerning Christ’s lament over Jerusalem]
    But God knew that the people who were not willing would not be willing, Remember, the LORD told Moses that Israel would break the Agreement, that they would turn away from Himself:

    That’s quite beside the point, God foreknowing their actions does not mean that He necessarily desired it.

    This was God’s plan all along. It was His will that it should happen.

    No, it wasn’t, and He directly states as much. This point is further underscored by God’s lament in Psalm 81:

    “Oh, that My people would listen to Me, That Israel would walk in My ways! I would soon subdue their enemies, And turn My hand against their adversaries.” (Psalm 81:13-14)

    And it did. He knew that that Israel would reject the Messiah. He knew they would rebel. But through their rejection, salvation would come to the Gentiles. Moses sang about these things in Deuteronomy 32.

    I agree, though God using the opportunity of men’s rebellion to a greater end doesn’t mean that He willed the rebellion itself.

    And God is still isn’t done with Israel, when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, all Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:25-26)

    I fully agree with you there.

    I am not sure if the passage in Luke 17:10 is talking about the choice of faith….

    Again beside the point, men are commanded by God to believe; Christ plainly states that doing what is commanded of us by Him does not make us praiseworthy in any way, which directly contradicts your statements that believing is ‘a justification deserving quality’ and, ‘man would have reason to boast.’

    And I don’t see where it says that the servant was enabled to serve his master…I just remember it saying that it is his duty to serve his master.

    An irrelevant argument from silence. Additionally, your statement, “He doesn’t need God anymore…he is a righteous man in and of himself. He met God’s requirement for justification on his own”, which again relies upon the same thoroughly refuted errors you’ve previously argued for on this thread clearly reveals the horrible ignorance and misinformation upon which much of Calvinism rests.

    I said:
    “God allowing men to have some measure of free will doesn’t mean that He isn’t sovereign, or that He couldn’t force the matter if He wished, since sovereignty doesn’t necessitate Determinism. If you disagree, fine, show us your evidence of such claims.”

    I believe that sovereignty necessitates absolute control. In your view, God is not in total control, He lets man act on His own…apart from God’s control of Him.

    Such arguments are rooted in near-total ignorance of the concept of leadership. Delegation is akin to stewardship, when a leader trusts a portion of what he has to a subordinate (as demonstrated in Christ’s parable of the talents). The leader is still in control, since he can override the subordinate’s decisions if he wishes, and can even revoke what was delegated, or can choose to let the subordinate make his own decisions.

    A store owner doesn’t stop being the owner because he hires a manager to run things, a king isn’t surrendering his crown because he allows a subject to decide his own profession, and a general in the military isn’t abdicating his rank by putting his officers in charge of tasks (quite the opposite, delegation is one of the major leadership traits heavily encouraged in the military). So why should we think God less than sovereign if He allows men to make free will decisions? Such a concept of ‘sovereignty’ that requires micromanaged and exhaustive exercise of active control over every detail is entirely a work of fiction, with no relation to the scriptures or the real world. The concept exists only in the minds of Monergists to artificially support their determinist agenda.

    “Accept, I pray, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, And teach me Your judgments.” (Psalm 119:108)

    I think that that freewill in this sense meant that the Psalmist was willingly giving offerings of his mouth.

    But being a freewill offering, it was freely given, not coerced.

    If it really meant that God does not make man do what is right, then why does the Psalmist say:

    “Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way. Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear. Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good. Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.”
    (Psalms 119:36-40)

    We don’t deny that it is God who influences us to do what is right, and who works in us to will and do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), it doesn’t follow that He must then irresistibly cause us to serve. Hence, God inclining our hearts to serve Him is perfectly compatible with libertarian free will, since ‘libertarian’ does not mean ‘uninfluenced;’ the clear testimony from the scriptures of human freewill offerings, however, plainly contradicts Determinism.

    Who cares if man is enabled to choose? If they all have an equal enablement, then why are they unequal in their decisions? Why do they even make choices?

    and,

    The way I see it is that a man is given prevenient grace, he is now able to choose the right. But what does that change? Does it make him have an equal desire for right as it does for the wrong? IF so, then how does he ever come to a decision? And why would he incline towards one more than the other?

    You are again assuming Determinism, that some influence had to irresistibly make him choose one way or another. You’ll get nowhere by simply begging the question.

    As to the 1 Corinthians 10 verse, look at the context of the passage. Paul is speaking to Christians, not unbelievers. He does mention later what Christians are to do if they are invited to eat with an unbeliever, but verse 13 is speaking about believers. It doesn’t say that God won’t let unbelievers be tempted above what they can bear, or that he provides an escape for them.

    I agree he is speaking of believers, this doesn’t answer my question: You keep posing the question of ‘why does one under prevenient grace believe and another not?’, holding the assumption that whatever choice was made must have been irresistibly caused instead of freely made. As counter-example I pose, ‘why does one believer resist temptation and another not?’, which demonstrates the gap between enablement and fulfillment that Determinism cannot square with. The two situations lie in exact parallel, since both relate to enablement and fulfillment (or lack thereof) by the agent that was enabled:

    If God enables one to escape temptation by not letting him be tempted beyond what he’s able to endure, if he fails to do so, it is then because he willingly chose to; nothing forcibly impelled him to. If he escapes, it wasn’t forced, yet the option was allowed him by God’s provision.

    Similarly, if God enables one to receive Christ by drawing him, if he fails to do so, it is because he willingly chooses to; nothing forcibly impelled him to. If he believes, it wasn’t forced, yet the option was allowed him by God’s grace.

    To summarize:

    * Why do you say we believe ‘on our own’ and ‘apart from grace,’ since it’s logically impossible to perform an action apart from its requisite condition?

    * How would God’s sovereignty be compromised if He makes someone a steward over something that He can revoke whenever He wishes (showing that He still retains ultimate authority over it)?

    * How does having faith make us ‘deserving’ of justification, if the justification of those who are faithful is only due to God graciously and (on their part) undeservingly accounting their faith as righteousness?

    * How is believing reason to boast if Jesus indicates that doing what God commands and requires of us is nothing to boast about?

    * Why can one who is given opportunity to escape temptation freely choose to avoid or yield to it, yet in your view, one who is given opportunity to believe by grace cannot?

  96. Sarah,

    If someone claims to be a Christian, but who hasn’t changed in their desires, their life, then I would doubt that they are really a Christian. A Christian has a new life. If someone claims to be a Christian, but still lives the same old life, characterized by sin, he had before his claim, then he wouldn’t have a new life.
    A Christian has a NEW LIFE, a life characterized by
    serving God.
    If a person claims to be a Christian, we expect them to act like a Christian…not because those Christian actions save them, but because they demonstrate that they ARE saved.
    A Christian does not have to do good works, but a Christian WILL do good works…that is what a Christian does.

    Good works are the ones that show the person’s faith. You say: “I have saving faith”, as opposed to false, head faith. Now Apostle James challenges you: “Show me your faith”. What do you have in your mind? Here the person who claims to have faith is asked to show the faith. And that is the work required. Demonstration of the faith. What kind of works do you think, can show a person’s faith? What are the “good works” you mention, that make others know your faith?

  97. Sarah,

    Apropos changed their desires:
    is changing one’s desires a work? If not, do you really believe that a supernatural change in desires is a requirement ? Do you obtain that from the scriptures? What if a change in a person’s desires simply doesn’t happen?

  98. Hi everybody!
    Sorry I haven’t replied in a while….actually, I think that I am going to be done debating here on this topic for a while.

    Thank you all very much for your patience with me…and thanks for the discussion! 🙂

    Before I go though, I want to address some statements/questions of Mr. Kroger’s.

    “is changing one’s desires a work?”

    It is a work of God…a work of His grace. But, if you mean, is changing one’s desires(to desire the right) a work that humans do…then no.

    “if not, do you really believe that a supernatural change in desires is a requirement ?”

    In that I believe that a Christian’s righteous desires are of God, Yes.
    I do not believe that man can have truly righteous desires in and of himself.

    ” Do you obtain that from the scriptures?

    God must be the one to change our desires…to give us the faith. If it is not a divine faith, then God is accounting something in and of ourselves as righteousness(Romans 4:5), and thus we are saved by our righteousness and His righteousness. We are not saved by His righteousness alone, because He requires us to have our own righteousness (faith) in order for His righteousness to be credited to our account.

    I believe that faith and righteous desires are of God/Christ. Our faith is credited as righteousness, and since the faith is of Christ, we are justified by the righteousness of Christ.

    Therefore salvation is by grace. It is through faith, of Christ, and therefore we are justified…by Christ alone. Justification comes by the death of Christ through the faith of Christ. Christians are graced with the faith of Christ, so they are justified through Christ’s work and by Christ’s work. We are justified solely by God/Christ.


    Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
    (Romans 3:20-22)

    not having my righteousness, which is of law, but that which is through faith of Christ–the righteousness that is of God by the faith,
    (Philippians 3:9)

    looking to the author and perfecter of faith–Jesus, who, over-against the joy set before him–did endure a cross, shame having despised, on the right hand also of the throne of God did sit down;
    (Hebrews 12:2)YLT

    looking with undivided attention to the Originator and Perfecter of [our] faith-Jesus-who, because of the joy being set before Him, endured a cross, having disregarded [the] shame, and has sat down at [the] right hand of the throne of God.
    (Hebrews 12:2)ALT

    Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
    (John 6:28-29)KJV

    Therefore, they said to Him, “What shall we be doing so that we shall be working the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you* be believing [or, trusting] in Him whom that One sent.”
    (John 6:28-29) ALT?

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
    (Galatians 5:22-23)

    “for it is God who worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure.”
    (Philippians 2:13)ASV

    Or,

    “For it is God who is the cause of your desires and of your acts, for his good pleasure.”
    (Philippians 2:13)BBE

    God is working in you to make you willing and able to obey him.
    (Philippians 2:13)CEV

    ***********************************************************

    Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
    (Psalms 37:4)

    And delight thyself on Jehovah, And He giveth to thee the petitions of thy heart.
    (Psalms 37:4) YLT

    Even our love is a gift from God.

    We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
    (1 John 4:19-21)

    Beloved, let us be loving one another, because love is from God, and every one loving has been begotten from God and knows God.
    (1 John 4:7)ALT

    Beloved, may we love one another, because the love is of God, and every one who is loving, of God he hath been begotten, and doth know God;
    (1 John 4:7)YLT

    We know we are His if we love God(and therefore we are loving our ‘brother’.

    What if a change in a person’s desires simply doesn’t happen?

    Then God has not changed the person’s desires…at least, not at that moment.

    I, as a human, must realize that God can do whatever He wants…and whatever He wants is right. No matter how wrong I think He is, He is always right. As my dad says(and I think that he quotes someone else), “Whenever I think that God is wrong, I am wrong.”.
    I shouldn’t be shocked that God does not save everysingle person who does not deserve to be saved. I should be shocked that God would save any undeserving people. I am amazed, in shock, that I am desiring Him, as Newton says, “a wretch like me”. Why would God love me? Save me? A person who naturally doesn’t want anything to do with Him, and everything to do with self. Why did God give me faith? Give me righteous desires? I can sing with Charles Wesley:

    “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood? Died he for me, who caused His pain? For me, who him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should’st die for me?”

    Feel free to reply to me 🙂 I’ll probably read it…I just don’t know if I will answer it. I hope you don’t mind.

    I have other things that I need to do…and I usually have a hard time with writing….. anything! I can take an hour to write a simple ,and short, email to someone :O ! I like to think things through and, for me, that usually takes a while.

    Thanks!

    In Christ,

    Sarah L. 🙂

  99. Ben

    You said: I believe that the sinner must hear the gospel and be convicted by the Holy Spirit before being capable of response.”

    Based on this, I have a couple questions:

    1. Does this mean you do not believe prevenient grace is given to ALL men/women in their sin, enough to enable them to believe?

    2. If not, then what of those who never hear the gospel? This could range from those who die in infancy or childhood before exposure to the gospel or those in other countries and places that are devoid of a gospel presence, etc.

    To make it more practical, I recently heard the testimony of a man who was spared of killing himself on some train tracks at the last moment. Subsequently, he believed the gospel. Yet, others are successful at their attempts at suicide without ever hearing the gospel word proclaimed to them?

    In light of these questions, I’m trying to understand prevenient grace from a Scriptural standpoint and the scope it is given. Many people assert God’s interaction in human history is to secure the giving of the gospel only to those he knows will believe, etc. Is this how you view election?

    Thanks for helping to clarify. I appreciate it.

    Mike

  100. Mike,

    To answer your questions,

    1. Does this mean you do not believe prevenient grace is given to ALL men/women in their sin, enough to enable them to believe?

    I believe He does give all people prevenient grace enough to believe. However, what will they believe in? If they are to believe the gospel, then they must hear the gospel.

    2. If not, then what of those who never hear the gospel? This could range from those who die in infancy or childhood before exposure to the gospel or those in other countries and places that are devoid of a gospel presence, etc.

    Well, the Bible is really rather silent on the matter and that is why the question is often asked. Therefore, any “answer” to this question will be speculative. Personally, I think the Lord holds us accountable to how we respond to prevenient grace and general revelation (and general revelation could certainly be considered as an aspect of prevenient grace).

    In other words, if God begins to lead a heart towards truth, even before the gospel is presented, and that heart continually rejects and refuses that leading, that person is rightly condemned (for both his resistance, and all the sins that could have been forgiven had that person continued to follow that leading). If the person continues to respond positively, then God will continue to lead that person, even to the point of receiving the gospel (through missionary activity, or even through visions as is often the case among Hindu and Muslim converts).

    It could be that God will not allow a person who is responding positively to His leading to die prior to hearing the gospel; or it could be that God will hold that person accountable for the way he or she had so far responded to that grace prior to hearing the gospel.

    So prevenient grace extends beyond just the enabling to respond to the gospel in faith, but in the area of enablement to respond to the gospel in faith, the gospel must be presented, otherwise one could not possibly believe what he knows nothing of. Does that make sense?

    As far as children, I do not believe God holds them accountable for their sin until they reach an age where they become morally aware and responsible (and that age may differ from child to child). The Bible is clear that we are saved by faith, but the Bible was written with an audience of morally accountable adults in mind. We have no reason to believe that God demands faith from an infant, small child or mentally disabled person, who is incapable of exercising such faith.

    In the end, as I said, the issue is highly speculative. The best we can do is trust God to judge rightly in every situation.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  101. If we are dead in sin, then how can we come to faith without first receiving regeneration? The Arminian view grossly depreciates God’s sovereignty, and relies upon man to do the work of God, or at least understates the value of God’s grace. How is it that I can have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and be dead in sin at the same instant? Or to put it better, say I am dead in sin and then come to faith. What happened to me that brought me to that faith when I was otherwise dead in sin, if it isn’t God’s grace and His Holy Spirit regenerating me, quickening me to the faith?

    You see, our faith is a gift of grace.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

    My brothers and sisters, regeneration must precede faith, or it is not from God, because we are dead in sin. God brings only His elect to faith by grace alone. It is monergistic.

    Synergism does not begin until after justification, Romans 8:5-8.

    And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. Exodus 33:19

    God is completely sovereign.

    In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, Ephesians 1:11.

    Now if it is up to you or me to choose to come to faith, then according to the passage above, we are sovereign over God’s plan. Is that a position that you can defend with Scripture? No way!

  102. Brent,

    Sorry it took me so long to approve your comment. Did you read the post? It would appear not since you did not interact with it at all. You don’t need to share the standard Calvinist line with us. We are well familiar with it, and your points and typical Calvinist misuse of Scriptures have been addressed numerous times on this blog. Please do not comment further in this thread if you are not going to interact with the substance of the post.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  103. Well Ben, since you showed in the post that faith precedes regeneration, it would not be very helpful to Brent’s Calvinistic position to try and interact with what you said. 🙂

  104. This is a good post, but the key problem is that regeneration, in the typical Calvinistic system, does not “give life” in the sense of forgiveness of sins, etc. You are quite right to say that justification follows faith.

    However, that is not what Calvinists claim regeneration is. Regeneration is the moving of the human spirit by the Spirit that results in them coming to faith. That’s it. Regeneration, by itself, does not forgive sins or any such action that relies on faith and confession of sins. Regeneration does not “bestow life” in the way referred to in the post.

    In some sense, regeneration is “the beginning of sanctification,” since it inevitably marks the beginning of a process that will lead to faith, and, therefore, justification and sanctification. That could be (or at least should be) all Berkhof is referring to.

    With that in mind, every point made in the post (excluding beliefs held in common) seems to fall away.

  105. Alex,

    Thanks for stopping by. You wrote,

    This is a good post, but the key problem is that regeneration, in the typical Calvinistic system, does not “give life” in the sense of forgiveness of sins, etc.

    The post nowhere says that regeneration is to be understood as that which forgives sins. The post says that the forgiveness of sins is a theological pre-requisite for experiencing regeneration. Big difference.

    You are quite right to say that justification follows faith.

    Glad you agree.

    However, that is not what Calvinists claim regeneration is. Regeneration is the moving of the human spirit by the Spirit that results in them coming to faith. That’s it.

    Maybe you are new to this debate since Calvinists clearly see regeneration in the traditional sense of the beginning of spiritual life. It is the “new birth” which should alone make that connection rather plain to you. Many Calvinists describe it as a spiritual resurrection. You are simply mistaken on this point.

    Regeneration, by itself, does not forgive sins or any such action that relies on faith and confession of sins.

    Again, no one said that regeneration forgives sins. Maybe you should re-read the post.

    Regeneration does not “bestow life” in the way referred to in the post.

    As noted above, you are simply wrong about this. Take some time to study the concept of regeneration in theology books and Calvinist works and you will quickly discover your error on this very important point.

    In some sense, regeneration is “the beginning of sanctification,” since it inevitably marks the beginning of a process that will lead to faith, and, therefore, justification and sanctification. That could be (or at least should be) all Berkhof is referring to.

    That’s not how Berkhof describes things. Regenration is the beginning of sanctification because regeneration is the necessary work that makes sanctification possible. It is the crucial first step in the process.

    With that in mind, every point made in the post (excluding beliefs held in common) seems to fall away.

    With your errors and misunderstandings in mind, every point in your comments seems to fall away.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  106. Thanks for the response, Ben :).

    After re-reading the post, and your response, I think I see what the central issue is more clearly.

    In the original post, I think Berkhof is being mis-interpreted by F. Leroy Forlines. While it’s true that true sanctification cannot begin before justification (Forlines’ main point), I don’t think Berkhof meant that it did. Rather, as I was attempting (rather clumsily, I admit) to say above:

    Regeneration -> faith -> justification -> sanctification. (all as a necessary causal chain).

    Therefore, while regeneration can be said to be the first step to sanctification (in that it inevitably leads to it), it does not actually begin the process of sanctification until justification has taken place. Is that more clear on what I meant?

    The necessary causal chain is why Calvinists can say things like “regeneration is the giving of life!” — not that regeneration itself saves, but that it inevitably leads to justification through faith, which then inevitably leads to sanctification.

    – Alex

  107. Alex,

    I am sorry, but you are simply wrong about how Calvinists interpret regeneration. As I mentioned above, you need to do some more reading on this. When you do, you will see your error.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  108. Hey Ben,

    It may be true that I am different than other Calvinists, but as far as I’m aware I am the same as the most well-known Calvinists — Piper, Grudem, Edwards, etc.

    But, be that as it may — even if my interpretation is different (for the sake of argument), is it wrong? At the end of the day, that’s what I’m more worried about :).

    – Alex

  109. Alex,

    It may be true that I am different than other Calvinists, but as far as I’m aware I am the same as the most well-known Calvinists — Piper, Grudem, Edwards, etc

    Again, it seems that you are just not that familiar with what Calvinism teaches. Piper definitely believes that regeneration precedes and causes faith, and he sees it as new spiritual life. He writes,

    How does that work? That’s what the last half of verse 4 tells us (the third link in the chain): “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” The reason the new birth conquers the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions is that it creates faith.

    The most immediate and decisive work of God in the new birth is that the new life he creates sees the superior value of Jesus over all else. And with no lapse of time at all, this spiritual sight of the superior value of Jesus results in receiving Jesus as the Treasure that he is. That is faith: Receiving Jesus for all that he is because our eyes have been opened to see his truth and beauty and worth.

    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/regeneration-faith-love-in-that-order

    A good resource for what Calvinists believe on this issue can be found here:

    http://www.monergism.com/directory/search.php?action=search_links_simple&phrase=regeneration

    You will find Wayne Grudem in there as well. As far as Edwards, I am not sure. I will have to look into that.

    But, be that as it may — even if my interpretation is different (for the sake of argument), is it wrong? At the end of the day, that’s what I’m more worried about

    That’s fine, but your initial argument was based on what Calvinists believe in general and seemed to be aimed at correcting my supposed misconceptions of what Calvinists actually believe on the subject. My response was based on you saying (bold emphasis mine),

    This is a good post, but the key problem is that regeneration, in the typical Calvinistic system, does not “give life” in the sense of forgiveness of sins, etc. You are quite right to say that justification follows faith

    God Bless,
    Ben

  110. “Again, it seems that you are just not that familiar with what Calvinism teaches. Piper definitely believes that regeneration precedes and causes faith, and he sees it as new spiritual life. He writes,

    ‘How does that work? That’s what the last half of verse 4 tells us (the third link in the chain): “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” The reason the new birth conquers the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in possessions is that it creates faith.'”

    As far as I can tell, this is what I’ve been saying. Regeneration causes faith, which then saves.

    Notice that Piper doesn’t say that regeneration is the immediate cause of conquering fleshly desires (i.e., sanctification). In fact, he says that the reason that regeneration leads to that is that “it creates faith.” Which is what I’ve been saying all along:

    Regeneration -> faith -> justification -> sanctification.

    I can stand by what I said (the part you bolded in your post) in that regeneration does not justify in and of itself; it does, however, lead inevitably to faith (which then justifies and sanctifies), which is what Berkhof and Piper seem to be saying. I have Berkhof’s systematic at home, so I can look more closely at his context this weekend.

  111. Alex,

    You will notice in my last comment that I said nothing about sanctification. That’s because I was responding to your initial claim that regeneration does not bestow spiritual life, as you wrote:

    Regeneration does not “bestow life” in the way referred to in the post.

    That is simply not the case as I have demonstrated. As far as regeneration being the beginning of sanctification, that was only a minor point in the post and not the main focus. Regardless of whether a Calvinist sees regeneration as the beginning of sanctification prior to faith or not, the priority of regeneration in the Calvinist ordo still creates serious theological problems as I noted in the post. Notice that in my conclusion I do not even bring the issue of sanctification into it,

    We could state the Arminian case as follows:

    1) One cannot experience justification or regeneration apart from union with Christ.
    2) We come to be in union with Christ by faith.
    3) Therefore, faith precedes justification and regeneration.

    or…

    1) We cannot experience life (regeneration) while still in our sins.
    2) We remain in our sins until we are justified on the merits of Christ’s blood.
    3) We are justified by faith.
    4) Therefore, faith precedes regeneration.

    For more on this see this post and the comments that follow,

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/the-arminian-and-calvinist-ordo-salutis-a-brief-comparative-study/

    I am going to post again on this in a much more detailed manner in the near future.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  112. Ben,

    Could you define what you mean by “bestow life,” or “experience life,” etc., as you are using them with reference to sanctification?

    I have claimed that typical Calvinists (Piper, Berkhof, etc.) use such terms only to mean that regeneration creates faith (that is, leads inevitably to it). In this sense it “gives life.” However, as Piper said above, it does not justify (forgive sins) nor does it sanctify.

    That is why I don’t understand the first point of your summary:

    1) One cannot experience justification or regeneration apart from union with Christ.
    or
    “We cannot experience life (regeneration) while still in our sins.”

    If regeneration does not include faith/justification/sanctification itself, but only leads to it, then how is it illogical for it to precede the others? It does not “give life” in the same way as those three things; it does, however, “give life” in that it leads to the other three.

    – Alex

  113. Could you define what you mean by “bestow life,” or “experience life,” etc., as you are using them with reference to sanctification?

    Again, sanctification is a side note. Forlines argues that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification in that sanctification begins at the moment regeneration begins, therefore sanctification would precede faith and justification in the Calvinist system. I think there is some merit to that argument, especially since a Calvinist like Berkof seems to agree that regeneration is the beginning of sanctification without any of the qualifiers that you seem to want to add. Now it may be that Berkof meant something else as you are suggesting. You said you were going to read him in context, so I am interested to see what you discover.

    But the point about regeneration being the beginning of sanctification was not the main point of the post. The main points were highlighted in the conclusion. Regeneration is defined in my post as the beginning of spiritual life. It is the new birth, the point at which we become children of God. I even quoted Calvinist James White to illustrate that, so I don’t understand why you seem so confused by what I mean.

    The problem is that in placing regeneration before faith and justification, we have sinners experiencing spiritual life logically prior to being forgiven of their sins. We have God granting life to sinners apart from the application of Christ’s blood in forgiveness and justification. We have God granting new life to sinners logically before the guilt, stain and condemnation of sin is removed. We have sinners becoming children of God while still under sins condemnation and outside of vital union with Christ. We have sinners experiencing the new life that can be found in Christ alone logically prior to being joined to that source of life through faith. Are you beginning to see the problems here?

    I would suggest re-reading the post and reading the other post I referred you to, as well as the discussions in the comments threads to get a better grasp of what I am talking about.

    I have claimed that typical Calvinists (Piper, Berkhof, etc.) use such terms only to mean that regeneration creates faith (that is, leads inevitably to it). In this sense it “gives life.” However, as Piper said above, it does not justify (forgive sins) nor does it sanctify.

    Wrong, regeneration itself is the beginning of spiritual life and according to Calvinism that spiritual life is what produces faith and makes faith possible. The article by Piper makes that point rather clear (as does the quote by White in this post above),

    The most immediate and decisive work of God in the new birth is that the new life he creates sees the superior value of Jesus over all else. And with no lapse of time at all, this spiritual sight of the superior value of Jesus results in receiving Jesus as the Treasure that he is.

    Do you see that? The new birth-the beginning of new spiritual life is what causes faith according to Piper. I am not sure how you are still missing that.

    However, as Piper said above, it does not justify (forgive sins) nor does it sanctify.

    Again, I never claimed that regeneration justifies or forgives sins. That is exactly the problem! (see my comments above). Forgiveness must precede the reception of new spiritual life. Since Calvinism puts the reception of new spiritual life prior to forgiveness, it has a serious problem.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  114. Mounch, William. (2009). Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar. Third Edition. Zodervan: Grand Rapids MI. (Pg 3).

    Concerning Eph 2:8 not referring to faith being a gift he says
    “[it refers to] the whole process of salvation, which includes our faith.”

    Here is a greek scholar that disagrees with you Ben.

  115. sorry, last name is “Mounce”

  116. “In this verse, to what does the word “that” refer to? Adam Clarke, Wesley & company say that it is neuter plural and “Faith” is feminine hence it cannot refer to faith, (Such an admission would destroy their theological system.) However “Grace” is also feminine as is “Salvation”.”

    His reply was:

    “Here you ask a wonderful theological/exegetical question to which I can only give an opinion, and not a definitive answer. The problem is that there is NO precise referent. Grace is feminine. Faith is feminine. And even Salvation (as a noun) is feminine. Yet it must be one of these three at least, and maybe more than one, or all three in conjunction. Since all three come from God and not from man, the latter might seem the more likely. However, it is a tautology to say salvation and grace are “nor of yourselves,” and in that case it certainly looks more like the passage is really pointing out that man cannot even take credit for his own act of faith, but that faith was itself created by God and implanted in us that we might believe (i.e. the normal Calvinistic position). In which regard the whole theological issue of “regeneration preceding faith” comes into play. So, that is basically my opinion, though others obviously disagree strenuously, but from an exegetical standpoint, the other positions have to explain away the matter of the tautology.”

    Whether you accept the reply or not, it is sufficient to show that the Greek is not as definitive in this verse as some scholars would have you believe.

  117. Larry,

    I agree that it is not definitive, but it is not definitive for either side so the passage fails as a Calvinist proof text and it seems to me the consensus is that the Calvinist view is at least less likely given the grammar. As it turns out there is some more recent scholarship which really makes a strong case that “salvation” is the noun being specifically referred to in the passage. As for the comment you quote (and I don’t know who it is from), the person assumes from the start that “all three come from God” and then draws the typical Calvinist conclusion, but that is blatant question begging. While Arminians affirm that faith originates in God as far as divine enablement, it originates in us as to the act of believing (responding to that enabling power in faith). So the Arminian could just say that since faith as a human act doesn’t originate in God (though it is enabled by God), faith cannot be what the “gift” refers to. Again, that would be question begging. However, even in Arminianism faith as a “gift” is not a problem since it is enabled by God’s grace. The only difference would be that this gift of faith is resistible rather than irresistible.

    As far as tautology, I really don’t see what this person is talking about. He asserts it but does not explain it. It makes far more contextual sense to me to say that Paul is saying that salvation is the gift as it contrasts with salvation by works, which is exactly the issue. It seems problematic to basically say “faith is not of works”. That would be a rather obvious truism (tautology). It makes far better sense to think he was saying salvation is not of works, but of faith because it is a gift of God received by faith, just as Paul says in Rom. 4.

    So while the Calvinist interp is possible, it is highly unlikely given context and language. The main point, however, is that this passage can in no way demonstrate that faith is an irresistible gift of God as Calvinism teaches. Not even close.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  118. Thanks for responding. I appreciate your article and viewpoint, and the patience you show to those that might disagree.

    The quotes were from the editor of John Gill’s Commentaries.

    I’m glad we can agree that we are enabled by grace to believe. The difference is not just how irresistible, but how limited is that grace, and whether enabling or saving.

    I am a predestinarian. I have a high view of God’s sovereignty. God’s eternal decrees are in effect. The will of man can not be free to counter God’s will. “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out”.

    To say that God ordains our free actions is looney to me.

    “Since God is the source of all being, he must also be the cause of our future free actions…

    “Although God has preordained what we will do from all eternity, God’s application of this eternal preordination, or premotion, on our will is simultaneous in time with our actual action, although prior in nature. Thus, in the words of St. Thomas, our action is not absolutely necessary, but contingently necessary.” : A Catholic apologist

    Equally looney:

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

    Not looney;

    The Bible : I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    All that happens is God’s will. I trust in His love and Justice.

  119. I’m glad we can agree that we are enabled by grace to believe. The difference is not just how irresistible, but how limited is that grace, and whether enabling or saving.

    For the Calvinist it is both limited and irresistible. It is just as saving in Arminianism as in Calvinism for those who do not ultimately resist it. So again, it really all just boils down to whether or not it is resistible.

    I am a predestinarian. I have a high view of God’s sovereignty.

    As do I. However, I reject the bizarre Calvinist correlation of sovereignty to exhaustive determinism.

    God’s eternal decrees are in effect. The will of man can not be free to counter God’s will.

    But what if God’s will is to endow His creatures with a measure of free will and hold them accountable for their choices and actions? Will you deny God the sovereign right to do so?

    “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out”.

    Obviously, I do not draw the same implications from John 6 as you do, but that is another rather involved discussion. I could counter by just quoting some Arminian proof texts, but that probably wouldn’t get us very far and would quickly lead to a rather unmanageable discussion.

    To say that God ordains our free actions is looney to me.

    Me to.

    “Since God is the source of all being, he must also be the cause of our future free actions…

    “Although God has preordained what we will do from all eternity, God’s application of this eternal preordination, or premotion, on our will is simultaneous in time with our actual action, although prior in nature. Thus, in the words of St. Thomas, our action is not absolutely necessary, but contingently necessary.” : A Catholic apologist.

    Equally looney:

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

    I agree. Looney.

    Not looney;

    The Bible : I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

    I agree, not looney. Arminianism has no problems with these passages, though I expect we would interpret them differently than you.

    All that happens is God’s will. I trust in His love and Justice

    I agree that all that happens falls within His will as long as we understand that sin is only in accordance with God’s permission. I also trust His love and justice, but justice makes little sense in traditional Calvinism given its fundamental assumption of exhaustive determinism.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  120. Ben, your whole argument lives or dies (pun intended) on one point: that we cannot be made alive while still in our sins. You state “1) We cannot experience life (regeneration) while still in our sins”. I am absolutely stunned that you quoted only a portion of Ephesians 2:5. Had you quoted the whole verse you may have had to write on a different topic because it starts with “even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ”. I have read part two of this discussion and though you do deal with verse 5 and its context there is no way for me to avoid seeing that you are trying to write a persuasive argument, build it such that it hinges on a single point that we cannot be made alive while still in our sins and then neglect to quote the one verse that uses those exact words to say that we are made alive while still in our sins.

  121. Colby,

    Sorry to have stunned you so. I am likewise a little stunned that you did not seem to follow the rest of the argument or the implication of that argument in the rest of the passage you were so stunned I didn’t quote fully. That part is “made us alive together with Christ.” That is simply that only through union with Christ are we made alive. Only through union with Christ are we justified and made righteous unto life (Romans 5:15, 18).

    All the benefits of the atonement are found in Christ (i.e. all spiritual blessings, including forgiveness, life and election) cf. Eph. 1:3, 4. Only through union with Christ can we benefit from these spiritual blessings. That is why the text says that we were made alive “together with Christ.” Likewise, we are “raised up” only “with Him.” (vs. 6) Union with Christ is a prominent theme in Paul’s’ writings, and especially in Ephesians. Ephesians also makes it clear that we are joined to Christ by faith (Eph. 1:13). Colossians also makes this point very well:

    In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses”

    Notice also that we are made alive together with him as a consequence of our having been “forgiven” of “all our trespasses”- the exact point I made in this post and you are trying to refute.

    It seems in your haste to refute me, you missed the significance of the broader argument and undermined your own argument with the very portion of Scripture you were stunned I did not cite. Not to mention the fact that we receive life through the Spirit that is given us in union with Christ, and by which we become children of God (Romans 8:1-19). Paul is very clear in Galatians that the Spirit of life is given to us by faith (Gal. 3:2, 5, 14).

    So we are joined to the source of life (Christ) by faith. We are made righteous unto spiritual life by faith (we are forgiven, justified and made righteous by faith). We receive the Spirit of life by faith. Jesus tells us that the spiritually dead “hear” unto life (John 5:25, which flatly contradicts the Calvinist spin on the implications of what it means to be dead in sin). We hear unto life by faith (John 5:25; cf. Gal. 3:2, 5, 14). All the promises of the new covenant (including regeneration) are received by faith (Gal. 3:18-29; 4:22-31), and on and on and on. The Bible everywhere testifies that all the blessings of salvation, including regeneration, are received by faith.

    In Christ we are forgiven, justified, made righteous and given new spiritual life as a result. In Him we are elect and receive all the spiritual blessings of the new covenant (Eph. 1:3, 4; 2:5). We come to be in Him through faith (Eph. 1:13). That is why Paul can say that we are justified by faith as well. Faith joins us to Christ and in Christ we are made new (Eph. 2:10).

    I feel like I have already basically explained all of this in the post, but maybe you didn’t bother to read it all or think very carefully about it. Against all of this overwhelming evidence that faith precedes regeneration in Scripture (and I have only cited a small portion), we have not a single verse anywhere in Scripture that says that spiritual life precedes faith. Not one.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  122. I apologize, I suppose I should have been more clear. I was not trying to refute you or make a theological point. I know you spent a lot of time building your case. I was only pointing out that you wrote “We cannot experience life (regeneration) while still in our sins” and didn’t fully quote Ephesians 2:5 which says, in part, “5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions…” Saying I was “stunned” may have been a bit over dramatic. I wasn’t really stunned.

  123. I would actually contend that new life and faith happen simultaneously like fire and heat. If you put out the fire you have no heat. So it is through the fire you have heat. I would also contend it is the Holy Spirit that makes the fire. To use another analogy, I would argue that being dead in sin is like farmland in a severe drought. Seeds dropped on the solid ground will not live. The Spirit first tills the ground and waters it in preparation (like it “opened Lydia’s heart” in Acts) for the seed (the message of the gospel) to be planted. Faith and life occur simultaneously when the seed sprouts, although the life requires faith (like heat requires the fire). In the other post where we dialogued I used the verse 1 John 5:1 which states that anyone who believes has been born of God. This communicates to me that at any point of belief you have already been born of God. While I think you can read that to mean you were born of God prior to belief, I tend to think it actually means that there is no point at which you believe and are not also born of God. Meaning they are simultaneous occurrences.

    I would also argue justification happens at the exact same time, and like the new life is also a byproduct of the existence of faith. So it could be compared to light which comes from a fire. No justification without faith like no light without a fire. Although there is at no point a fire without heat or a fire without light. I think the Bible makes it clear that we are justified through faith in Romans 5:1.

    So in other words, I hold that neither faith nor regeneration precede each other but occur simultaneously although regeneration requires faith to exist. Faith does not require regeneration, but you will not have faith without regeneration.

    Speaking of lighting fires, it appears I “lit your fire” with my “stunned” comment. I infer that based upon your “but maybe you didn’t bother to read it all or think very carefully about it” comment. If so I apologize!

  124. Colby, your last comment has conceded Ben’s position. He likewise, as most Arminians, will agree that faith and regeneration are simultaneous (it is actually *some* Calvinists who more often would dispute that). But theologians still consider the critical issue of which one is logically prior, i.e., which one leads to the other. Your comments clearly agree with the Arminian position (against Piper for example), that it is faith that is logically prior, faith that leads to the regeneration as fire lead to the heat it is simultaneous with. As you said, “. . . regeneration requires faith to exist. Faith does not require regeneration, but you will not have faith without regeneration.” That is exactly right and the Arminian position in contrast to the Calvinist position of Piper and others, which would reverse your statement (switching the roles of faith and regeneration from how you have them).

  125. Hello Arminian, this is true. Although I think Ben is incorrectly phrasing it using the words “precedes” and by asking “which comes first?”. Better terminology is in order. Perhaps “which is dependent on the other?” is a better question to ask. Even so, I do not think it is quite as critical as everyone has made it out to be. As Ben stated, “I cannot think of a more important theological issue with respect to the controversy between Calvinism and Arminianism”. I can think of a lot more important issues. Like what is the origin of your faith–is it from the individual or the Spirit? My position is that the Spirit gives faith at the moment someone is regenerated and justified. I don’t think the individual adds anything to the process. I also don’t think the Spirit gives this faith to everyone, nor do I think it is resistible. I would argue the order of the process (causal or chronological) plays second fiddle to the cause of the process.

  126. Hello Colby,

    Well, that turns to a different (though related) issue than Ben’s post. So it seems that you essentially agree with Ben that faith logically precedes regeneration (against Piper and mainstream Calvinism), but then turn to a different argument to salvage the point that God irresistibly causes faith in only a select few chosen for it unconditionally.

  127. You got it!

    You use an interesting vocabulary in describing my view. “concede” and “salvage”. Interesting choice of words. Communicate quite a bit, they do.

  128. Well, yes, “concede” because you began by taking issue with Ben’s post, but in the end you agree with its thrust. And “salvage” because most Calvinists (including Piper, whom you seem to regard highly) think it is critical for regeneration to logically precede faith to preserve certain key elements of their system, and because there’s zero biblical evidence for the argument you turn to.

  129. I didn’t take issue with Ben’s post. I like his post! It’s really good and well thought out! I took issue that he made an absolute statement and then only quoted half a verse to support the statement when the other half of the same verse said the polar opposite of the absolute statement he made. But it’s OK, I’m sure I’ve done the same thing!

    I definitely don’t see Piper as the enemy (which apparently you do–correct me if I’m wrong)–nor do I see Calvinism as “the plague”. I don’t see Arminians as the enemy or the plague either–I grew up Arminian (though I didn’t know that’s what it was called). And my parents are Arminians at heart. It creates great dinner table discussion at Thanksgiving! It’s not productive to throw the baby out with the bathwater, IMHO. It seems as if you have some odd caricature of what a Calvinist is in your head. It is always easier to demonize the extreme cases, which is why Piper is an easy target for you. It’s harder to pin down people who aren’t hyper-Calvinist or hyper-Arminians, I get that.

    I should add, it’s not necessary, nor critical, to believe regeneration precedes faith and be a Calvinist. I’d go so far as to say it’s a moot point. I think some Calvinists (like Piper) err the same way Ben did and that is by using chronological wording to describe a process that isn’t chronological. Spurgeon didn’t think regeneration preceded faith either, at least in what I’ve read of his. It seems like you’ve spent a lot of time trying to debunk this under the pretense it was the core of monergism and IMO it’s peripheral at best. If anything, a Calvinist saying regeneration precedes faith is simply an attempt to explain how the Holy Spirit enables an individual to have faith. But it’s far less important how it happens than that it happens at all.

    Peace in the middle east.

  130. Colby,

    I don’t understand how you can say you didn’t take issue with my post. You started out by saying my whole argument lives or dies on whether we can have new spiritual life while dead in sins, and then said that argument was undone by the rest Eph. 2:5. That sure seems like taking issue with my post. You have backtracked since then, but it is still hard to understand how you make such a claim.

    I am afraid you are just wrong about the importance of this issue with Calvinists. Almost all contemporary Calvinists today believe it is very, very important to emphasize that regeneration precedes faith; Calvinists like John Piper, Paul Washer, RC Sproul, James White, just to name a few. Maybe it would be helpful if you named a few Calvinists who do not hold to it. Trust me when I tell you that will be a real challenge. I also disagree with what you say about Spurgeon. I have heard that claim before, but have seen it refuted in his own writings (I can produce that if you like).

    You are right that it is not critical for accepting Calvinism, but if one accepts that regeneration precedes faith, the rest of Calvinism logically follows. That is why it is such a strong point of emphasis among Calvinists. It is not peripheral at all. This argument is actually the reason why many become Calvinists.

    It is also strange that you want to down play this issue now and say that we are mistaken to focus on it when you brought it up in the Piper thread. It was clearly implied in your comments about being dead in sin, and explicit in your comments on 1 John 5:1. If it is so peripheral and unimportant, and if we err in focusing on the logical (not chorological) order, then why did you bring it up in the Piper thread?

    As for your point on Eph. 2:5, Paul is describing a transition from spiritual death to life. He certainly isn’t saying that we can be dead at the same time as we are alive. He isn’t saying that we can be under God’s wrath at the same time that we are not. He is not saying that we can be under the condemnation of sin and forgiven of sin at the same time. Cleary, your appeal would prove too much. What we do have is a clear indication that one escapes spiritual death and comes to enjoy spiritual life by being joined to Christ, and that union happens by faith. I am glad you now agree with that. I suspect you will no longer appeal to 1 John 5:1 and the like as a result.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  131. Colby,

    No I do not see Piper as the enemy. I don’t have a problem with Calvinists. I do have a problem with Calvinsm. I see Calvinism as unBiblical and potentially harmful to the church. That is why I stand against it. Many Calvinists are very agressive in pushing their views and demonizing Arminianism. It is not like I am just being mean and picking on Calvinism.

    You might find these posts instructive on the issue:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/j-i-packer-calls-arminianism-an-intellectual-sin-of-infirmity/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/the-five-dilemmas-of-calvinism-part-1/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/the-five-dilemmas-of-calvinism-part-4-a-litany-of-inaccuracies-and-misrepresentations/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/11/05/another-calvinist-who-isnt-afraid-to-tell-it-like-it-is/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/08/04/enjoying-some-classic-calvinist-compliments-on-arminian-teaching/

  132. Colby,

    I second Ben’s comments on Piper. I don’t see hi mas the enemy. I count him as a Christian brother, respect him a lot, and benefit from his ministry. But I do disagree with him sharply about Calvinism, which he says is central to his ministry. Look, the order of faith and regeneration is considered critical by most Calvinist scholars, and so it makes sense for us to address it. However, it is true that it doesn’t have to be critical to them. You agree with the Arminian (at least now that we have talked it through) that faith leads to regeneration, but say it doesn’t matter because it can still be maintained that God irresistibly causes faith in only a select few chosen for it unconditionally. Fair enough. I just say that the notion that God irresistibly causes faith in only a select few chosen for it unconditionally has zero biblical evidence to support it.

    God bless brother!

  133. This will probably have to be my last post–I’m missing a lot of work refreshing your blog over and over again. I think you guys are great and appreciate the dialogue we’ve had!

    In reference to “Maybe it would be helpful if you named a few Calvinists who do not hold to it.” I don’t know many Calvinist theologians in general unfortunately. I did find an Arminian dude who quoted a Spurgeon book as saying regeneration did not precede faith. That’s why I referenced Spurgeon. I didn’t know J.I. Packer was a Calvinist until a week ago (though his book Knowing God is the bomb). In fact, I didn’t know he was Calvinist until I saw Roger Olson bash Packer on his blog for bashing Arminians (which also happened to be a link to which you referred me). I read a commentary on Romans by Sproul in college but didn’t know he was a Calvinist either. I don’t spend a lot of time in the high-theology world, but I enjoy a good debate for debating sake.

    As it relates to your comment, “It is also strange that you want to down play this issue now and say that we are mistaken to focus on it when you brought it up in the Piper thread.” I didn’t actually bring this issue up in the Piper thread. Ben actually brought it up first when he took issue with one of my analogies because in my analogy about a boy in a burning house I put regeneration prior to faith in my metaphor. To which I responded with 1 John 5:1.

    But I do concede with whatever ego I can salvage that while at first glance the verb tenses in that verse do appear to say being born again precedes belief, I think it’s really saying from the point of observation if someone believes you know they’ve been born again. So upon further review I don’t think it’s trying to make a point about the order of salvation.

    In reference to “This argument is actually the reason why many become Calvinists”, I’ve never heard a Calvinist say they became a Calvinist because of this. But I certainly haven’t talked to all Calvinists. Most Calvinists I know just felt uncomfortable with taking credit for their own salvation. That’s not a slight on you guys, that’s just how most “Calvinist” types I know express it. They aren’t theologians, just people who think God gets more glory when He does it than when we do it.

    In reference to “I just say that the notion that God irresistibly causes faith in only a select few chosen for it unconditionally has zero biblical evidence to support it.” That’s totally okay–that’s your opinion. If it were blatant we wouldn’t have an issue, would we? But just as prevenient grace is only a name given for what you observe in the Bible, irresistible grace is just a name given for what we observe in the Bible. If you don’t observe what I observe then that’s okay with me. In the spirit of full disclosure–although I have absolutely no expectation you will agree–irresistible grace is implied in Romans 8:29-30 moving from right to left (from justification back to foreknowledge). Follow with me…

    Verse 30 says those God justifies he previously called. Now, if everyone He called is also justified as the text says then this calling cannot be a general calling to everyone in the whole world because the Bible is clear not everyone in the whole world will be justified. So this calling must be a specific calling only to people who will go on to be justified. We know we are justified by faith because that’s what Romans 5:1 says. So the calling must be a call to faith since it leads to justification. In addition, if you are guaranteed to be justified after you are called then the calling must be irresistible because otherwise there would be some who are called but are not justified. The guarantee of justification to those who are called shows it must be an irresistible calling. What is the implication of this on the meaning of the word “foreknew”? If one’s belief in Christ is intertwined with a call which is irresistible then God doesn’t predestine you for justification due to a decision you made because that decision was irresistible. So foreknew must mean something closer to how Amos 3:2 uses it: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” and Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

    I’m sure you don’t agree with my explanation, but that’s okay, it took me a couple years too! j/k!

    You guys are good sports! GB

  134. Colby,

    You wrote,

    In reference to “Maybe it would be helpful if you named a few Calvinists who do not hold to it.” I don’t know many Calvinist theologians in general unfortunately. I did find an Arminian dude who quoted a Spurgeon book as saying regeneration did not precede faith.

    That is a common claim based on isolated quotes. However, there are other quotes in which Spurgeon plainly puts regeneration before faith. If anything, we would have to conclude he is inconsistent, though I think his comments on regeneration preceding faith are clearer and most of the others are taken out of context.

    That’s why I referenced Spurgeon. I didn’t know J.I. Packer was a Calvinist until a week ago (though his book Knowing God is the bomb). In fact, I didn’t know he was Calvinist until I saw Roger Olson bash Packer on his blog for bashing Arminians (which also happened to be a link to which you referred me). I read a commentary on Romans by Sproul in college but didn’t know he was a Calvinist either. I don’t spend a lot of time in the high-theology world, but I enjoy a good debate for debating sake.

    That is fine, but when you act as a sort of spokesman for Calvinism to some degree and speak of having empathy for what why Calvinists believe as they do, it seems to me you should be very aware of the teachings of Calvinism. It is fine to disagree with the Calvinist consensus, but it gets tricky when you seem to frame those disagreements as representing mainstream Calvinism when mainstream Calvinism doesn’t share your views.

    As it relates to your comment, “It is also strange that you want to down play this issue now and say that we are mistaken to focus on it when you brought it up in the Piper thread.” I didn’t actually bring this issue up in the Piper thread. Ben actually brought it up first when he took issue with one of my analogies because in my analogy about a boy in a burning house I put regeneration prior to faith in my metaphor. To which I responded with 1 John 5:1.

    You actually brought it up with your comments about dead people not being able to do anything until they are made alive first. I responded to that with the comment about the Bible teaching that faith precedes regeneration, and you further responded with 1 John 5:1. Not only that, but you said the debate for the last 400 years has been about this issue, yet now you seem to want to make it just a peripheral issue in Calvinism.

    But I do concede with whatever ego I can salvage that while at first glance the verb tenses in that verse do appear to say being born again precedes belief, I think it’s really saying from the point of observation if someone believes you know they’ve been born again.

    Exactly.

    In reference to “This argument is actually the reason why many become Calvinists”, I’ve never heard a Calvinist say they became a Calvinist because of this.

    I am not sure I have heard those exact words either, but it is often the first line of argument that Calvinists employ to convince those who disagree with Calvinism (just as you made the point about how dead people can’t do anything until they are made alive). Likewise, new Calvinists seem to especially rely on this argument in defending Calvinism. Calvinist Paul Washer made it the crux of his entire argument on why people should hold to unconditional election (since, as I said before, if it is true that regeneration precedes faith, then things like unconditional election logically follow). Here is a link where I interact with his comments:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/05/09/paul-washer%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%93-%e2%80%9cdoctrine%e2%80%9d-of-election-an-arminian-critique/

    But I certainly haven’t talked to all Calvinists. Most Calvinists I know just felt uncomfortable with taking credit for their own salvation.

    No Arminian I know takes credit for their salvation. That is a horrible caricature of what Arminianism teaches.

    That’s not a slight on you guys, that’s just how most “Calvinist” types I know express it.

    Unfortunately, that is based on a misrepresentation of what Arminianism teaches, and a total lack of “empathy” for what the other side believes.

    They aren’t theologians, just people who think God gets more glory when He does it than when we do it.

    Again, this is a huge caricature of Arminianism. If you want to read a few articles on why we tend to think that Arminianism gives God far more glory than Calvinism, you may want to read these posts,

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/what-brings-glory-to-god/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/10/08/what-brings-the-most-glory-to-god-part-2-john-wesley/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/synergism-as-a-model-for-gods-glory/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/01/04/jack-cottrells-critique-of-bruce-wares-infralapsarian-calvinism/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/how-can-gods-glory-be-diminished-in-calvinism/

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/does-erwin-lutzer-offer-false-hope-to-calvinist-parents/

    This response should also cause you to wonder why God shouldn’t likewise get all the glory for sin and evil. God causes sin just as well as He causes faith in the elect. Why then does He get all the glory only for what appears to be the good things, when He decrees and causes all of it?

    In reference to “I just say that the notion that God irresistibly causes faith in only a select few chosen for it unconditionally has zero biblical evidence to support it.” That’s totally okay–that’s your opinion. If it were blatant we wouldn’t have an issue, would we? But just as prevenient grace is only a name given for what you observe in the Bible, irresistible grace is just a name given for what we observe in the Bible. If you don’t observe what I observe then that’s okay with me. In the spirit of full disclosure–although I have absolutely no expectation you will agree–irresistible grace is implied in Romans 8:29-30 moving from right to left (from justification back to foreknowledge). Follow with me…

    Actually, if we move from right to left, we would need to start with glorification. In that case Paul is just describing how all who are ultimately glorified came to reach that state. That would undue the thrust of your entire argument, since Paul is only describing those who heeded the “call” unto final salvation. That would in no way exclude those who were called and yet rejected that call.

    Verse 30 says those God justifies he previously called. Now, if everyone He called is also justified as the text says then this calling cannot be a general calling to everyone in the whole world because the Bible is clear not everyone in the whole world will be justified. So this calling must be a specific calling only to people who will go on to be justified. We know we are justified by faith because that’s what Romans 5:1 says. So the calling must be a call to faith since it leads to justification.

    As noted above, this does not necessarily follow since Paul is only speaking of those who heed the call unto final salvation (if we truly read it from right to left, since foreknew would encompass all of it). Still, a lot hinges on how we understand “called” in this passage. There are actually several different ways to understand this passage that do not lead to the conclusions you draw (like viewing it as a description of those God foreknew as His glorified people and describing the process by which they got to that place without excluding the possibility that many did not heed the call).

    The view I hold to is from the perspective of corporate election. Paul is speaking of what will happen to the corporate church. He is using corporate language. The called are the corporate body of Christ. The body of Christ will certainly reach its destination in Christ, but the individual’s participation in that body is contingent on continuance in faith. That is why Gentiles who now “stand by faith” and have been grafted into the elect body need to heed the warning not to grow arrogant over the broken off Jews, less they too be broken off from the election (Romans 11). Here is how I put it in another post (dealing more with the claim of perseverance in this passage),

    I would also argue that Paul is primarily speaking of the corporate body of Christ, the church, in Rom. 8:28-30 and of individuals secondarily only as they relate to and are identified with the elect corporate body that ultimately finds its identification in Christ (for more on the corporate election view see here). So while these things are true of the corporate body of believers, they are only true of the individual on the condition that he or she remains in that elect body through faith. This truth is clearly brought out in Romans 11:16-24.

    From: https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/an-apparently-not-so-brief-response-to-c-michael-patton-on-rom-9/

    Furthermore, “called” is being used here not as a summons to salvation, but in a naming sense (cf. Romans 9:7, 24-26). So Paul is speaking of the corporate body of believers throughout and the promises they have “in Christ” (cf. Rom. 8:1), despite the persecutions they are facing and to encourage them in the face of such persecutions. He is not describing how one becomes a Christian in the first place. For more on “calling” as naming, see the articles linked to here:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/what-does-callingcalled-refer-to-in-the-bible/

    In addition, if you are guaranteed to be justified after you are called then the calling must be irresistible because otherwise there would be some who are called but are not justified. The guarantee of justification to those who are called shows it must be an irresistible calling. What is the implication of this on the meaning of the word “foreknew”?

    As per my previous comments, foreknew has reference to God’s prior acknowledgment of His people in Christ from both the Jews and the Gentiles. Salvation through faith in Christ for both Jews and Gentiles is not a new thing. It is not a change in plan. God has always planned for His people to be named and identified in Christ.

    So foreknew must mean something closer to how Amos 3:2 uses it: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth” and Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

    Again, I don’t have a problem with this. It reinforces my point (though neither of these passages speak specifically of foreknowledge). God foreknew His chosen people in Christ. God foreknew all believers who are joined to His Son. That doesn’t mean He caused them to be believers irresistibly.

    I’m sure you don’t agree with my explanation, but that’s okay, it took me a couple years too! j/k!

    I do disagree, and I don’t think a couple of years is going change that.

    God Bless,
    Ben

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