A Contextual Examination of 1 Cor. 10:13

Calvinist Steve Hays has weighed in on my use of 1 Cor. 10:13 in my post on The Reality of Choice and the Testimony of Scripture.  He quotes a section from my post where I make the case that the passage cannot comport with determinism, and then complains,

What’s so odd about this claim is the way in which kangaroodort infers something from the text that simply isn’t there. The text says nothing about Christians succumbing to temptation. And what it does say moves in the opposite direction.

The prospect of Christians succumbing to temptation is not something that kangaroodort got from his prooftext. So what does his prooftext prove? It can hardly prove that Christians succumb to temptation, since that is absent from the text. And, what is more, that cuts against the grain of the text.

Now perhaps kangaroodort would salvage his assertion by claiming that other verses of Scripture speak to the issue of Christian sin.

No doubt that’s true. But that’s not the same thing as exegeting 1 Cor 10:13. You can’t find something is a verse which isn’t there-even if you can find it in some other verse.

And you can’t simply import what is said in one verse to what is not said in another verse as if both passages are addressing the same issue. Ironically, kangaroodort’s grand prooftext illustrates the polar opposite of what he labors to prove. Did someone sneak into the evidence room when his back was turned and empty the box?

We need to interpret 1 Cor 10:13 on its own terms, in light of its own wording and the surrounding context. And when we do the detail work, this is what we come up with:

“It is not clear whether this verse is to be understood generically of every trial that a Christian may face, or the eschatological trial involving one’s salvation? The noun ekbasis, ‘way out,’ certainly could mean the latter, the eschatological trial, but Christians may also rely on God for the ekbasis of lesser struggles throughout the course of life. In this context, Paul seems to be thinking primarily of trials involving idol meat or seduction to idolatry,” J. Fitzmyer, 1 Corinthians (Yale 2008), 389.

“An examination of the context (1 Cor 10:1-12,14-22) indicates that the temptation specifically in Paul’s mind here is idolatry or apostasy. The Lord will not allow his people to fall prey to apostasy,” T. Schreiner, The Race Set Before Us (IVP 2001), 266.

In sum, this verse is not talking about temptation in general. Rather, it’s talking about the specific temptation to deny one’s faith-of which idolatry was a paradigm-case throughout Scripture. And it says that, due to God’s fidelity, a Christian can never give in to that particular temptation.

Far from being a prooftext for libertarian freewill, this is a prooftext for the perseverance of the saints.

Despite his hyperbolic verbiage and sanctimonious tone, kangaroodort is making totemic use of Scripture. He pays lip-service to the words of Scripture in swelling, self-congratulatory rhetoric, but his interpretation doesn’t begin to represent a close reading of the text or context.

He’s like a man standing in the doorway of an empty warehouse, gesticulating about his discovery of contraband merchandise within. Well, I’ve examined every square inch of the warehouse with a flashlight, and the evidence is entirely wanting.

Those last two paragraphs are puzzling to me.  Steve takes issue with my rhetoric while laying on some of the thickest rhetoric I have read in quite some time.  He calls my rhetoric “self-congratulatory” (where in the post did I congratulate myself?) while confidently asserting that my “interpretation doesn’t begin to represent a close reading of the text or context.”   Why can Steve make such bold assertions and it is all well and fine, but if I make bold assertions or draw strong conclusions, it is a case of “swelling, self-congratulatory rhetoric” and “hyperbolic verbiage and sanctimonious tone?” (and notice how Steve paints me as a dope who thinks he has a warehouse full of contraband, and himself as the person who carefully investigates the warehouse, finding it empty, despite my “gesticulating”). I should think we could disagree with each other’s conclusions without making comments such as these.

Anyway, let’s examine Steve’s assertion that I have turned the passage inside out in an attempt to prooftext libertarian free will, and that the passage actually undermines my conclusions.  He quotes a few people who say that the issue at hand is idolatry, and then draws the conclusion that this idolatry could only refer to absolute apostasy (finally denying the faith).  Well, where in the text did he come to that conclusion?  The passage never says anything about repudiating faith, nor does it mention apostasy.  We are not permitted to ignore context and draw ideas from other portions of Scripture and read them into this text, remember?

Steve has really painted himself into a tight spot.  He has not suggested that apostasy can merely be included among the temptations that Christians may face as described in this passage, but insisted that apostasy is the sole temptation being described here by Paul.  He has also suggested that idolatry, in this context, can only possibly equal a denial of faith.  If an examination of the context yields any other result than the conclusion that apostasy alone is being referenced here, then Steve’s dismissive assertions are shown to be completely invalid.

In verses 1-9, Paul speaks of numerous instances of sins that the Israelites committed during their desert wanderings.  Let’s examine some of these verses and see what we find.

Verse 6, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.”

This verse speaks of craving evil things.  Do Christians ever crave evil things?  Is apostasy evil things (plural), or is it an evil thing (singular)? Certainly, evil cravings can include far more than final repudiation of saving faith (and by the way, doesn’t this suggest that we can control our cravings [i.e. desires] to some extent, contrary to the Calvinist insistence that our desires control us?).

Verse 7, “Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and stood up to play.'”

This verse plainly speaks of idolatry, but it seems to be speaking of many acts of idolatry and not a single soul destroying act of apostasy.  The OT quote has specific reference to the golden calf episode.  That instance can appropriately be characterized as apostasy on the part of Israel, but Paul seems to be using this verse and verses 5 and 6 in a more general sense.  He is both concerned with idolatry and craving evil things in general, as well as the possibility of apostasy resulting from continually yielding to such temptations.  That is why Paul gives several examples from the Israelites’ desert experience in this section without focusing on one decisive act of rebellion or apostasy.   Even so, there is no explicit mention of apostasy in Paul’s reference here (though my view does not need to rule out apostasy altogether, only show that apostasy is not the sole subject being addressed here).

Verse 8, “Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.”

This is a warning not to fall into immorality and does not specifically reference denying the faith.  Earlier in the epistle Paul rebuked the Corinthians for tolerating immorality among them and commanded them to remove the immoral person from the church (chapter 5, cf. 6:15-20, esp. note Paul’s use of “flee” in verse 18, cf. 10:14).  However, Paul held out hope for that person’s eventual restoration (5:5), and did not equate that immoral act with an outright denial of the faith.

So far we are told to avoid “evil things”, acts of idolatry, and acts of immorality.

Verse 9, “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents.”

Here we are warned not to “try the Lord”.  Does Steve think that Paul is talking about absolute apostasy and repudiation of faith here?  This is a reference to Numbers 21.  There was no apostasy, only complaining.  Does complaining constitute apostasy now?  Again, Paul is warning the Corinthians of the dangers and consequences of sin in general, and holding the Israelites up as an example to learn from.  Such sin can eventually lead to apostasy, but Paul is addressing more than just the possible end results of habitual sinning in these passages.

Verse 10, “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

Here we are warned not to “grumble”.  Surely grumbling does not constitute a final act of apostasy, does it?

Verse 11 reminds us again that these things were recorded for our benefit that we might see the just and terrible consequences of sinning (which includes yielding to evil cravings, various acts of idolatry and indulgences, immorality, trying the Lord, and complaining and grumbling, cf. verse 6).

Verse 12, “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Well, what does “fall” mean?  Does it mean “fall away in irrevocable apostasy”?  The context would suggest otherwise.  Most likely, “fall” has some reference to falling to temptation in general (which can include and lead to apostasy), but primary reference to the severe judgment that results from yielding to temptation  (cf. 10:5, the Israelites being “laid low” in the desert as a result of displeasing God in their sinful behavior).  To suggest that “fall” has exclusive reference to denying the faith is out of harmony with the context of the entire chapter.

Verse 13, “No temptation [no sort of temptation whatsoever] has overtaken you but such as common to man [e.g. temptations to grumble, complain, put things before God in idolatry, commit acts of immorality, try the Lord, crave evil things, etc.]; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

The idea here is that the Corinthians should not think it strange that they are being tempted in various ways.  The Israelites of old were also tempted in various ways.  For this reason, Paul tells them that their temptations are “common to man”.  Those who are living at the present time (cf. verse 11) can expect to face similar testing and temptations as the Israelites in the desert.  They can also expect to receive the same terrible consequences of sin, if they should yield to those various temptations and not heed Paul’s warning to “flee” (literally, “run from”) such potentially dangerous sins as idolatry (verse 14), which Paul will discuss again in verses 16-33.  Paul is also reminding them that the Israelite’s covenant position with God did not afford them protection in disobedience and rebellion (see verses 1-5).  In the same way, the Corinthians should not look on their position in the new covenant as an excuse to take sin lightly and think they will get away with it.  Their present standing with God does not exempt them from judgment or the damaging effects of sin.

As noted above, Paul’s admonition to flee idolatry leads him into the next section where he again focuses on specific temptations facing the Corinthians regarding eating food sacrificed to idols. In these verses we see Paul speaking of idolatry in such a way that it does not have reference to repudiation of faith or out-right apostasy.  Paul is both warning the Corinthians to avoid idolatry as well as calling on those who may already be involved in such idolatry to repent, take the way of escape provided by God, and flee from idolatry in the future.

So we have heeded Steve’s plea to focus on context and found that the context offers nothing of a necessary correlation between idolatry and outright apostasy as Steve claims.  We have also found no reason to understand “temptation” in verse 13 as an exclusive reference to denying the faith.  Rather, the context covers a wide range of sinful behaviors that can be avoided through God’s faithfulness and power.  It seems then that 1 Cor. 10:13 means just what we said it meant to begin with (the “evidence box” is still full and accounted for), and the implications of free will from this passage still stand as stated in my initial post.

What is especially interesting is that one of the quotes Steve furnishes us with to support his conclusion that this verse is “talking about the specific temptation to deny one’s faith” actually undermines his conclusion and supports ours,

“The noun ekbasis, ‘way out,’ certainly could mean the latter, the eschatological trial, but Christians may also rely on God for the ekbasis of lesser struggles throughout the course of life. In this context, Paul seems to be thinking primarily of trials involving idol meat or seduction to idolatry,” J. Fitzmyer, 1 Corinthians (Yale 2008), 389. (emphasis mine)

It also needs to be pointed out that Steve has not played by his own rules in this response.  Remember, he faulted me for reading the text with the Biblical truth in mind that Christians sin.   He admits that this is a basic truth found throughout Scripture; yet, I am not permitted to consider the relevance of that truth while reading 1 Cor. 10:13, since it “cuts against the grain” of the passage, according to him.   This is apparently because the verse in question does not speak of actual sinning (though the surrounding context certainly does), but of the ability to resist temptation.

But then Steve does a strange thing.  He tells us that the passage actually has to do with denying the faith and that it is actually an assurance that Christians will never deny the faith.  It is actually a prooftext for Calvinistic inevitable perseverance, according to him.  But where does the passage say that the Christian will certainly endure the temptation or take advantage of the way of escape provided by God?  It doesn’t.  Remember, Steve insisted in his response that, “You can’t find something is [sic.] a verse which isn’t there-even if you can find it in some other verse.”

The passage only tells us that God provides a way of escape and that we are able to resist the temptation.   Steve may be convinced (wrongly) that the Bible teaches inevitable perseverance in other passages, but if he is to play by his own rules, he has not the right to read that supposed truth into this passage when the passage says nothing of inevitable perseverance.

Nowhere does 1 Cor. 10:13 guarantee that the Christian will endure temptation or take the way of escape provided by God, whether this “temptation” is an exclusive reference to apostasy, as Steve believes, or to sin any number of ways (as the context bears out).  In short, Steve has inferred “something from the text that simply isn’t there”.   We might even venture to say that “his interpretation doesn’t begin to represent a close reading of the text or context.”

Since Steve based his entire argumentation on two quotes, (one from a commentary that actually supports our view and undermines his own, and one from a popular Calvinist book promoting inevitable perseverance), which apparently qualifies as the “detail work”; I thought it would be appropriate to close by citing several commentaries that plainly agree with our view that the “temptation” being referenced in 1 Cor. 10:13 is in no way limited to apostasy (many of which are commentaries written by Calvinists).  We will start with John Calvin (all emphases in bold are mine).

“He exhorts them, however, to look to the Lord, because a temptation, however slight it may be, will straightway overcome us, and all will be over with us, if we rely upon our own strength…Now God helps us in two ways, that we may not be overcome by the temptation; for he supplies us with strength, and he sets limits to the temptation. It is of the second of these ways that the Apostle here chiefly speaks. At the same time, he does not exclude the former – that God alleviates temptations, that they may not overpower us by their weight. For he knows the measure of our power, which he has himself conferred. According to that, he regulates our temptations. The term temptation I take here as denoting, in a general way, everything that allures us.”  (John Calvin’s Commentary)

“way to escape-(Jer 29:11; 2Pe 2:9). The Greek is, “the way of escape”; the appropriate way of escape in each particular temptation; not an immediate escape, but one in due time, after patience has had her perfect work (Jas 1:2-4, 12).” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary)

“Though we must fear and take heed lest we fall, yet should we not be terrified and amazed; for either our trials will be proportioned to our strength, or strength will be supplied in proportion to our temptations. We live indeed in a tempting world, where we are compassed about with snares. Every place, condition, relation, employment, and enjoyment, abounds with them; yet what comfort may we fetch from such a passage! For, 1. “No temptation,” says the apostle, “hath yet taken you, but such as is common to man, what is human; that is, such as you may expect from men of such principles as heathens, and such power; or else such as is common to mankind in the present state; or else such as the spirit and resolution of mere men may bear you through.” Note, The trials of common Christians are but common trials: others have the like burdens and the like temptations; what they bear up under, and break through, we may also.”  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)

“Verse 13 is one of the most helpful verses in the NT and presents the great antidote to falling into sin through temptation.  Peirasmos, “trial” or “temptation” is not itself sinful.  God allows it as a way of purifying us (James 1:12), but the devil uses it to entice us into sin (cf. Matt. 4:1).  The temptations that come to the Christian are those all human beings face- they are unavoidable.  But, says Paul, God is right there with us to keep us from being overwhelmed by the temptation…[God] will provide a way out, not to avoid the temptation, but to meet it successfully and to stand firm under it.” (W. Harold Mare, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, 250)

“Temptation (see note on v. 9) is sometimes understood simply as ‘test’ (GNB, Hering), a meaning it certainly has on occasion.  But here it is used in a broad sense which includes both ‘test’ and ‘temptation’.  Nothing exceptional in either way had happened to the Corinthians.  They had experienced only what is common to man.  And God is not simply a spectator of the affairs of life; he is concerned and active.  Believers can count on his help.  He always makes a way out.”  (Leon Morris, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 142)

Anthony Thiselton: “Paul here addresses the craving in terms of temptation which draws, seduces, beguiles, attracts, and corresponds to the deeper nature of sin . . . (747)

“Hence Paul rebukes the notion that those who are accustomed to taking part in cultic meals are victimized. They see themselves as those who . . . ‘have no choice but to . . .’ (748)

“Against the claim that ‘the strong’ are so siezed by pressure that they have no choice, Paul replies that God always provides his people with a choice: the situation brings a temptation; but alongside the temptation God will also provide an exit path . . . they can be assured that they will be provided with an exit path, which will both provide a positive (and better) alternative and take away their alibi” (748).

*These comments by Thistleton are especially significant in that he essentially draws the same conclusions concerning the reality of choice in this passage as I did in the initial post that Steve criticized.

C.K. Barrett, 229: [this first quote is Barrett’s own translation with comments in parentheses] “But God can be trusted not to allow you to be tempted beyond your power (yet if they do not exert all their power they may succumb); on the contrary, along with the trial he will provide (literally make) also the way out, so that you may be able to endure.”

“This does not mean that God will not permit him to be tested (by circumstances, or temptation, or the like), but that God will never allow it to become impossible for him to resist. He must resist, and he must not put his trust in false securities; this would be to court and ensure disaster. The way out is for those who seek it, not for those who (like the Corinthians) are, where idolatry is concerned, looking for the way in.”

“Paul is not saying that the supposedly “strong” Corinthians had not yet faced an extraordinary temptation.  What they were doing in the pagan temple was just that.  Thus, Paul’s point is that even in such cases God can provide a way out of their present situation.  It is a human, if not the ultimate human, temptation to put God to the test.  There is by God’s grace even a way out of this, or Paul would be wasting his breath warning them.  The Corinthians then are to endure and prevail over the temptation to go to idol feasts.  God will provide them with an out so they can escape their present malaise.   Paul believes that God never allows a Christian to be tempted to such a degree that by God’s grace one cannot resist or find a way of escape.  This does not mean one will necessarily resist.”  (Ben Witherington III, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 224)

“They might count on God, however, not to expose them to trials and temptations beyond human ability to resist and overcome: with each temptation he would also provide the way of escape, to enable them to endure it. But if they deliberately put themselves in the way of temptation to idolatry and its associated evils, they were ignoring the proffered way of escape and need not be surprised if they ‘fell’ ” (F.F. Bruce, NCBC, I and II Corinthians, 93-94).

Craig Blomberg: “Verse 12 summarizes the significance of these warnings [those in the previous verses 1-10] for the Cornithians–even those who think they stand securely should take care, like Paul in 9:27, lest they fall and be disqualified. After all, the pagan temple feasts in Corinth involved similar idolatry, sexual sin, and trying God’s patience. And the Corinthian quarrels could certainly qualify as grumbling against one another. Nevertheless, verses 1-12 are all balanced by the marvelous promise of verse 13. The circumstances that tempt us to sin are never qualitatively different from those which God’s people of every era have experienced, and we never have to give in to them. There is always an escape-hatch, which is defined as a way to persevere without sinning in whatever situation we find ourselves.” (p. 193)

“Though short compared to the more immediately needed warnings of verses 1-12, verse 13 provides a crucial balance to the previous verses, especially for those who fear they will be unfaithful during tough times. Given the severity and general nature of the preceding examples, this verse too should be applied universally. No matter how unique our temptations seem externally, we face the same spiritual struggles God’s people have endured throughout history. God won’t give us anything we can’t handle, so long as we rely on his strength, yielding ourselves to the power of his indwelling Holy Spirit, rather than trying to resist temptation on our own.” (196)

“We never have to give in to temptation; no one ‘makes’ us sin. Certain factors may generate greater temptations for some individuals than for others, as with the exponential increase in dysfunctional families in our day, but ultimately we are accountable for our own free choices. And for believers, one of those choices remains God’s escape-hatch from sin.” (199)

So it seems to me that from an exegetical stand point, my position concerning the meaning of 1 Cor. 10:13 is on rock solid ground.  This is true despite Steve’s creative “empty evidence box” and “empty warehouse” rhetoric.  Steve wrote a second post criticizing my understanding of 1 Cor. 10:13 on philosophical grounds, but considering the strong exegetical support for my position, it hardly seems necessary to reply; after all, Calvinists pride themselves on allowing exegesis to take precedence over philosophy. While I disagree with Steve’s philosophical argument, it seems best to just allow the text to speak for itself and conclude with Paul that whenever we are tempted, we can either resist that temptation or fall to it.  Either is a legitimate option, and on those grounds the reality of choice and libertarian free will is firmly established in Scripture.

Go to Part 2 of This Debate

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82 Responses

  1. What disturbs me about Steve’s interpretation is that it has the end result of neutering a promise of God – that He will provide us a way of escape when we are tempted.

    Steve’s interpretation also seems disingenuous and forced. It’s like he read your post, and then tried to find some way that would set as the clear implications of the verse. It comes about directly as a result of you pointing out that the passage address LFW. When Steve realizes that this presents a problem for C, he’s forced to come up with his odd conclusion.

    BUT take LFW off the table, and the C will come up with the same conclusion as the A – that the verse is a promise that God will help us overcome temptations of all kinds.

    For example, John MacArthur comes up with the same conclusions as you (Ben) do. He has no need to come up with a forced interpretation, as he doesn’t consider the LFW aspect of the verse.

    MacArthur writes: (Link) “The promise of that verse is thrilling. No temptation is overpowering. Satan is not so Powerful; demons are not so effective; satanic operations are not so subtle; the flesh is not so weak; the human heart is not so deceived, that we are necessarily a victim of temptation. In this verse, there are some principles that rise to the top. If we understand them, we can understand the path of our triumph. “

  2. Steve’s interpretation also seems disingenuous and forced. It’s like he read your post, and then tried to find some way that would set as the clear implications of the verse. It comes about directly as a result of you pointing out that the passage address LFW. When Steve realizes that this presents a problem for C, he’s forced to come up with his odd conclusion.

    BUT take LFW off the table, and the C will come up with the same conclusion as the A – that the verse is a promise that God will help us overcome temptations of all kinds.

    I agree.

    If you will notice, and if I am not mistaken, at least 6 of the commentaries I quote are from Calvinists (including John Calvin), yet they all support my exegetical view against Steve’s.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  3. I’m not surprised, although I didn’t realize they were all quotes from Cs.

  4. I’m not surprised, although I didn’t realize they were all quotes from Cs.

    Do you mean all six? I assume you do since you know that Witherington is not a C. The C commentaries listed would be John Calvin (obviously), Matthew Henry, Leon Morris, and F.F. Bruce. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown’s Commentary is Reformed as well. Those five I know for sure. I am pretty sure (though not certain) that the same is true of Mare, and Barret. I know Witherington is not a C, and strongly suspect Thisleton and Blomberg are not Calvinists either. So definitely 5 out of 10, and quite possibly 7 out of 10 are Calvinist Commentators.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  5. I skimmed through some of the commentators without paying attention to their names, so that part of the problem. 😉 Didn’t even notice the BW3 was one of them.

  6. I fear at best all you can say is that the verse may say we have a choice, but to say that it speaks to libertarian free-will would be reading into the text.

    The way I understand the verse it is the Apostle Paul encouraging the Corinthians and us. He reminds them that when tests come that God will also provide the necessary strength to stand up under it because God is faithful. It reminds me of the words by the same Apostle in the 2nd letter to the Corinthians chapter 12

    And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

  7. I have included a link to this article on my own blog.

    I was also recently accused of proof-texting for bringing attention to this particular section of scripture in a short article about the believer’s relationship to sin. If God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist – then we need to recognise and accept PERSONAL responsibility for the choices we make that result in sin.

  8. So if we fail to resist tempation (as we all fail at some time) does that mean God failed to give us the promised strength?
    Or does it mean we chose not to make use of the strength that God gave in accordance to His promise?

    I say the latter.

  9. That is one of the most hypocritical rhetorical statements I have ever read. Steve doesn’t even engage with the text, but merely quotes commentaries that don’t even make his point. I don’t see how a text which demonstrates choice only in a particular instance somehow proves perseverance of the saints, even if we give his point an ounce of credence.

    To be fair, I haven’t examined the real debate yet, but I’m am just constantly aghast at what constitutes has “logic” over at pyro.

  10. In this case it would be Triablogue and not Pyro.

  11. The way I understand the verse it is the Apostle Paul encouraging the Corinthians and us. He reminds them that when tests come that God will also provide the necessary strength to stand up under it because God is faithful.

    That seems like the same thing I am saying, and if it is true then we definitely have a choice. I don’t think it is reading into the text, but simply recognizing the implications of the text.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  12. Mitch,

    I also wonder if you would charge Steve with reading into the text, since the passage says nothing of inevitable perserverance and gives no guarentee that the believer will take the way of escape? Yet, that didn’t stop him from drawing those implications.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  13. Ben,

    It seems that you believe that choice = libertarian free will, I do not believe that. I view lfw as an action theory that tries to answer the why/how we make choices.

    As for the text, I read it as this “temptation”, I would say “test”, comes from God and that we are to be encouraged by that because God will not test us beyond our capabilities. In fact, it says that God is faithful and will enable us to undergo this test. Nowhere does it speak of failing or falling or anything of the like, that is reading into it.

    All in all, I am not sure yet that I even see a choice being discussed in this text and of course I do not believe that it teaches lfw.

    Grace & Peace

  14. Mitch,

    You wrote,

    It seems that you believe that choice = libertarian free will, I do not believe that. I view lfw as an action theory that tries to answer the why/how we make choices.

    Yes, I believe that the language of choice only makes sense in the context of libertarian free will. That was one of the main points of my initial post. Choice is emptied of normal meaning in a deterministic framework.

    As for the text, I read it as this “temptation”, I would say “test”, comes from God and that we are to be encouraged by that because God will not test us beyond our capabilities.

    It may be that testings come from God, but Paul is primarily speaking of temptations to sin, and God does not tempt us. When you say that God will not test us (or allow us to be tempted) beyond our capabilities, doesn’t that suggest that we can choose not to sin whenever we are tempted? If that is the case, then whenever believers do sin, they could have chosen to resist instead (according to the promise of 1 Cor. 10:13). That is the power of alternative choice, which is a fairly clear definition of libertarian free will.

    In fact, it says that God is faithful and will enable us to undergo this test. Nowhere does it speak of failing or falling or anything of the like, that is reading into it.

    Verse 13 is sandwiched in between Paul’s warning to “take heed, lest you fall” (vs. 12) and admonition to “therefore, flee idolatry” (vs. 14). The immediate context is certainly speaking of falling or fleeing, contrary to your claim (not to mention the broader context of the entire chapter). Therefore, I don’t think I am reading anything into the text.

    All in all, I am not sure yet that I even see a choice being discussed in this text and of course I do not believe that it teaches lfw.

    Well, you are entitled to your opinion, but I think the evidence is not in favor of your present conclusions. Perhaps you are not seeing it because you don’t want to see it?

    And I would still be interested to hear whether or not you think Steve was “reading into the text” according to the same standard you are trying to hold me to here?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  15. Ben,

    Your response to Steve shows considerable grace in the face of outrageous thinking. Be minded and encouraged that God will bless you for any degree of vitriol you receive from such Calvinists. It appears this kind of Calvinist will not concede, even for a moment, that man has ultimate predication at any time. And so they wrest the verse of 1 Cor. 10:13 to their own destruction, as well as wrest all the other like scriptures, lest they admit of human choice.

    Steve’s comments, which display his horror of the idea of human freedom, remind me of one of James Spiegel’s complaints in “The Benefits of Providence.” Spiegel asks rhetorically why God would risk cosmic catastrophe by allowing man the free will to commit murder, rape, etc. Yet somehow it doesn’t strike Spiegel as finally incongruous that the same charge should apply to an all-sovereign God who decrees all things, including murder, rape, etc.

    Thus Spiegel, like Steve, reveals to us his ad hominem/ pro Deo approach to REASON: a man is guilty of murder and rape solely because he is man, while an all-decreeing God is NOT guilty of murder and rape solely because he is God.

    May God save us from such reason.

  16. Dan,

    I have had interactions with Steve and others from that site before, and I have not always responded with nearly as much grace as I should have. If you think my response here was in a gracious tone, then I am happy to hear that.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  17. Ben,

    As my first comment stated I believe that this verse is meant as encouragement to the Corinthians and us. It encourages them that when God brings the test He will also enable them to endure it to the end. I do not see any hint that they will not endure the test or anything like that. Perhaps you are right and I do not want to see it, but that would also apply to your view as well. As of right now I do not see a choice being offered here, we will disagree again.

    When it comes to choice and it meaning only lfw I was struck with this example. Recently my wife and I were thinking of pulling some money out of our 401k to pay something off. We looked at the paper work and saw how we could pull out x amount. So now we had a choice, do we pull out the money or do we leave it in the 401k. We dwelled on this choice for about 2 months, we prayed about it and looked at the pros and cons and all that stuff. In the end we decided to leave the money in the 401k. Whew! Now that was a choice that we had and we came to a decision. We went on with our day to day life and did not think of this again. Then we met with our financial advisor and through the course of our meeting we told him of what we thought of doing and the result. My wife even told him how this decision caused many sleepless nights for her and she was glad that we finally decided. To make a long story short, he laughed saying that our 401k plans did not allow us to pull money out in the first place.

    Now in our view we had a choice, but I guess you could say that the choice was determined already. Yet we still went through all of the “stuff” and made a decision.

    Now I understand that we will not agree that choice does not equal libertarian free will so I will just leave it at that. You believe that the bible teaches it and I believe the bible does not teach it. So we will just have to agree to disagree.

    Grace & Peace

  18. Mitch,

    Again, the context is all about learning from the example of the Israelites, and fleeing from temptation so that we do not fall. I do not deny the idea that testings are also involved, but the primary focus is temptation to sin in various ways. If you are denying that the “temptation” has any referenced to sinning, you would be hard pressed to find any scholars who would agree with you (since it is so obvious from the context).

    Really, your own language betrays the ability to either endure or fail to endure. You say God “enables” us. “Enable” means that God empowers us to do something, but enablement does not mean that he causes us to do something. So if we are “enabled”, we can either do that thing or refrain from doing that thing (a standard definition of LFW).

    I appreciate your example, but in a deterministic world your every deliberation was predetermined and necessitated. Therefore, you never really had a choice. Your thoughts could only ever move in a single direction, and so there was only ever one volition possible (i.e. no real choice). You may have thought you had options, but you didn’t. And it is important to note that the actualization or result of the choice (whether or not you could possibly perform the action, or whether or not the performed action produced the expected result) is really irrelevant. You are confusing post volition (the results of a choice) with pre volition (whether you had any options at all, even if those options reside in the mind alone without reference to external possibilities).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  19. Mitch,

    And I am still wondering if you think Steve was reading his ideas into the text, just as you think I did?

  20. Hello Ben,

    Great post,you completely decimated Steve Hays’ strained and forced attempted escape of the plain and clear meaning of a scriptural text.

    As usual, Hays has to avoid the plain meaning of scripture at all costs in order to maintain his false calvinistic system. The text plainly and clearly teaches, in fact as another noted IT IS A PROMISE OF GOD FOR BELIEVERS. That with regards to temptation, the believer **always** has a choice of either (1) giving into temptation or (2) resisting temptation. This passage as you clearly present and recognize, strongly militates against exhaustive determinism (i.e., if we ever have a choice, and according to this passage the believer does in regard to temptation, then everything most definitely is not exhaustively predetermined).

    Of the commentators that you presented, Thiselton just nails it perfectly with his words:

    “Against the claim that ‘the strong’ are so seized by pressure that they have no choice, Paul replies that God always provides his people with a choice: the situation brings a temptation; but alongside the temptation God will also provide an exit path.”

    This is precisely the point intended by the text: that with regard to temptation this verse promises that GOD ALWAYS PROVIDES HIS PEOPLE WITH A CHOICE. And if we **always** have a choice in this area, then exhaustive determinism as espoused by Hays is necessarily false. He recognized this fact so he attempts to evade the plain and clear meaning of the text by reinterpreting the text so that the text fits his system. Yet another case of the calvinist desiring for the system to trump scripture. And as you point out, these calvinists often challenge others to be exegetical in their conclusions. Here you are the one doing exegesis and Hays is the one avoiding proper interpretation of the biblical texts. But this is to be completely expected of the calvinist when it comes to texts that contradict their system: we must remember that for them “the system Uber Alles”!

    Robert

  21. Hello Daniel,

    “Your response to Steve shows considerable grace in the face of outrageous thinking. Be minded and encouraged that God will bless you for any degree of vitriol you receive from such Calvinists.”

    Daniel, if you haven’t dealt with Hays before, here is a warning. He is one of the worst examples of calvinism out there when it comes to how he interacts with non-calvinists (he hates us and likes to claim that if we oppose his exhaustive determinism/calvinism that that must mean that we are false teachers and hell bound). You also want to avoid directly interacting with him because he spends much more time on the computer than the rest of us have time for. He lives with his mother, is about fifty years old, is unmarried with no children, is uninvolved with his local church and spends hours at the computer writing his posts. He seemingly has endless time on his hands to **debate** with those whom he hates. So Daniel I would advise that you do not interact with him directly.

    “It appears this kind of Calvinist will not concede, even for a moment, that man has ultimate predication at any time.”

    Hays’ position is that God exhaustively pre-plans and predetermines every event. So for him, **only** God has choices (which he makes before any of us ever exist) and God then carries out all of **his** pre-made choices and this becomes what we call history. In this scenario human persons **never ever have a choice** (though he will argue that we have wills and make choices). But it is all a gigantic sham, as all of the choices are really made by God and merely implemented by us. We may think that we have a choice, but we never do according to the gospel of Hays. Hays absolutely detests the idea and possibility that we ever have choices. This means that he hates the way God designed human persons to be. It is significant that in this scenario God literally becomes the puppet master who pulls everybody’s strings. And yet Hays is on the rocking horse that you speak about, so he rocks between claiming that God predetermines everything (his false conception of God’s sovereignty) while we have wills and make choices (human “free will” and responsibility). What is also interesting with Hays is that he believes that God has a total plan that is always carried out, so things **always go according to plan**. And yet both God and Hays get real frustrated by things that happen. You would think that if everything were actually going according to plan, then why would God or Hays ever get frustrated???? Doesn’t make sense, but Hays gets very frustrated and angry with everyone who believes differently than he does. Hays is a very bitter, hostile and angry person. He also is a good example of the adage that we become like the God that we worship (he really resembles the angry and cruel “god” that results from exhaustive determinism.

    “And so they wrest the verse of 1 Cor. 10:13 to their own destruction, as well as wrest all the other like scriptures, lest they admit of human choice.”

    Yep, for Hays there simply cannot be a single instance of humans having a choice. He has to do whatever he can to stomp out that possibility. In one way it is sad because he becomes like a sighted person who argues we are all blind and never ever see, though he like the rest of us sighted persons does in fact experience sight daily. This kind of **intentional blindness** is worse than physical blindness as it results from pride and we know what God thinks of those who are arrogant and proud.

    “Steve’s comments, which display his horror of the idea of human freedom, remind me of one of James Spiegel’s complaints in “The Benefits of Providence.” Spiegel asks rhetorically why God would risk cosmic catastrophe by allowing man the free will to commit murder, rape, etc. Yet somehow it doesn’t strike Spiegel as finally incongruous that the same charge should apply to an all-sovereign God who decrees all things, including murder, rape, etc.”

    Good example. Hays does the same kind of thing as Spiegel. Hays will talk about how the “reprobates” are simply acting according to their sinful nature and evil motives and so **deserve** their condemnation and eternal punishment. At the same time he will talk about how God predetermined for the fall to occur. So the fall that according to Hays gives people a sinful nature and leads to their having evil motives and being “reprobates” is something that God **wanted to happen to the human race**. Hays will also speak about evils and like Spiegel seemingly completely forget that if God predetermines our every action and if God makes all of the choices before we arrive at places of decision, then every evil motive, decision, and action that results is **exactly** what God wants to occur. And yet he rocks on the horse and then claims that human persons not God are responsible for these evil actions that God pre-planned and ensures will occur.

    “Thus Spiegel, like Steve, reveals to us his ad hominem/ pro Deo approach to REASON: a man is guilty of murder and rape solely because he is man, while an all-decreeing God is NOT guilty of murder and rape solely because he is God.”

    Hays does this kind of thing that you speak about: the fall of Adam was a sin and evil on the part of Adam but a “good thing” from God’s perspective. With this kind of thinking good and evil lose meaning and become simply whatever God wants in a situation is “good”, even if that predetermined and necessitated event is rape, murder, molestation, false religions, unbelief, etc. etc. etc. etc. It is all “good” from God’s perspective because it is exactly what he pre-planned and “everything is going according to plan”. For believers with biblical convictions about good and evil and God’s holiness, this god of determinism is not the God of the bible at all.

    “May God save us from such reason.”

    You got that right! It’s nice to take the bible at face value and not be riding that rocking horse that the determinists are on! 🙂

    Robert

  22. Steve seems so steeped in his philosophical presupposition, when he is presented with a contradiction within his system, he comes up with outlandish explanations using philosophical jargon hoping people won’t realize he actually hasn’t said anything.

  23. Ben,

    It tells them and us that all of the things that happened to them in the OT have been given to serve as an example and admonition to them (Corinthians) and us; we are agreed on that part. The Apostle then gives them a word of encouragement by telling them that when God sends the test He will also send the escape so that they and we can endure it. There is no mention of not enduring or anything like that.

    Now since the Apostle is clearly encouraging believers is it your view then that this applies also to unbelievers? If so on what grounds do you justify that from this text? After all one of your quotes above

    Paul believes that God never allows a Christian to be tempted to such a degree that by God’s grace one cannot resist or find a way of escape. This does not mean one will necessarily resist.” (Ben Witherington III, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 224).

    When it comes to the example I gave above I believe that we had a choice, even though it turned out that one of the options was not viable. To us though we did not know and we did everything that one would do if the had a choice and came to a decision. The fact that it was determined already which option we decided on does not change the process that we went through. In fact, we went through the same process that you go through when making a decision.

    Now I will leave it at that, we are too far apart on our view of the will to make any headway.

    As for Steve, I think his first couple of paragraphs line up well with what I’ve been saying.

  24. Robert,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always appreciate your insight. However, I really need you to conform to the rules for posting on this blog. You can read those rules by clicking on the page tab at the top of the blog that says, “Important Blog Rules”. In that section I wrote the following (especially note the section in bold),

    “I consider Calvinists to be my brothers in the Lord and I pray that they will come to recognize the errors in their TULIP doctrines. If you want to give your opinion on what you perceive to be the errors of Arminianism or Calvinism refrain from charging either system with damnable heresy and refrain from disrespectfully using a lower case “g” while referring to their conception of God. This gives the impression that the other side worships a false god and that will not be tolerated on this blog.

    You are free to think that the Calvinists worship an entirely false God, but I would ask that you refrain from stating such on this blog. I think the Calvinist has a severely flawed view of God’s character and interactions with His creation, but I am sure my concept of God isn’t perfectly accurate either. I am confident that you can make it clear that you do not believe the Calvinist conception of God is completetly accurate, without referring to that concept as a “god”.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  25. Mitch,

    The Apostle then gives them a word of encouragement by telling them that when God sends the test He will also send the escape so that they and we can endure it.

    Again, your language betrays the difficulty of maintaining your view. You say “can” endure it, or can “escape” it. That means God makes it possible, but not inevitable (you understand the difference between “can” and “must”, correct?). That is also clear from the fact that many do not endure/escape.

    You have also continually ignored the fact that this passage is primarily (if not exclusively) dealing with temptation to sin, and not just some sort of general testing (which might not have any reference to sin).

    Now since the Apostle is clearly encouraging believers is it your view then that this applies also to unbelievers? If so on what grounds do you justify that from this text? After all one of your quotes above

    Paul believes that God never allows a Christian to be tempted to such a degree that by God’s grace one cannot resist or find a way of escape. This does not mean one will necessarily resist.” (Ben Witherington III, Conflict and Community in Corinth: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 224).

    The passage is speaking to believers, and that is all that we need to know to make the point I have been making (i.e. it doesn’t matter if he is not speaking to unbelievers). I never said it had reference to unbelievers, and I don’t see the relevance of the Witherington quote to what you are saying here.

    In my initial post I included the following footnote,

    “Some Calvinists try to avoid the force of this passage by pointing out that it applies only to believers. But the objection is irrelevant because if exhaustive determinism is true then it applies to believers as well as unbelievers. All of our actions are predetermined by God (according to Calvinism). Therefore, the incompatibility of Calvinistic exhaustive determinism with the promises of God, expressed in this passage, remain both valid and unavoidable.”

    When it comes to the example I gave above I believe that we had a choice, even though it turned out that one of the options was not viable.

    You believed you had a choice, but you didn’t. Your every thought and action was predetermined by an irrevocable decree. Whether an option was viable or not (externally) is, again, irrelevant (even if the “options” were merely cognitive with no real world correlation, they were still not really “options” since your thought process and internal volition was predetermined and necessitated by God). Only one volition was ever possible, so there was never any choice (since there were never any alternatives to choose from). The best you can do is say that you deceived yourself into thinking you had a choice, when in fact you didn’t (and really, if exhaustive determinism is true, God is the one who deceived you into thinking you had a choice, when you didn’t).

    The fact that it was determined already which option we decided on does not change the process that we went through.

    Again, regardless of the ability to actualize your choice externally, you never had any “option” and therefore never had a choice. This would be true whether or not you could externally actualize your “choice”. Even if you could have actually withdrawn the money, you still could not have moved your thought process in any other direction, or come to any other conclusion, than the conclusion you came to (i.e. to leave the money there). So the whole part of your story where you discover you couldn’t have taken the money out is irrelevant.

    As for Steve, I think his first couple of paragraphs line up well with what I’ve been saying.

    You are missing the point. You claimed I was reading something into the text that wasn’t there. Steve said the passage was a guarantee that believers will never deny the faith. Do you see that anywhere in the text? If not, then I assume you will also say that Steve read that into the text, correct?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  26. Ben,

    I do not take it at face value that this passage is dealing primarily with temptation to sin for the simple fact that the text clearly shows that this “temptation” comes from God and He does not tempt to sin. It seems that you take it more as a warning and I take it more as an encouragement.

    The reason the believers will endure under the test is because God is faithful. So when God brings the test He will also provide the strength to endure to the end. I gave the Apostle Paul example from the 2nd letter to the Corinthians.

    When it comes to our view of the will I believe that we are free to do what we want. Now you attribute more to the will then I do, but I could even work with your definition. If I remember correctly one time you corrected me on what I said about the will I said something along the lines of

    Will means that there are no antecedent causes or reasons for why one does what one does.

    And you told me something along the lines of

    Will means that the individual is the antecedent cause or reason for why one does what one does.

    I can agree with that, I would just differ that the individual IS the problem.

    So I believe that compatibilism is the more biblical view and you believe that libertarian free will is the more biblical view.

  27. Mitch,

    Real quick, since I gotta go (and will not be posting again till Monday) – the passage does not say that the temptation comes from God. You might want to look at it again and show me where the text says the temptation comes from God. That would be very interesting considering your constant claim that I am reading ideas into the text that do not belong. And you continue to ignore the context that verse 13 is couched in, which is specifically concerned with specific sins and the judgment that results from those sins.

    As far as Paul’s example, that is well and fine, but you need to understand 1 Cor. 10:13 in its own context, and not according to another context which is not speaking about the same thing. Like Hays well said,

    “And you can’t simply import what is said in one verse to what is not said in another verse as if both passages are addressing the same issue.”

    And I will ask you one more time if you consider Hays to be reading a guarantee of perseverance in the faith into 1 Cor. 10:13, when the passage says nothing of the sort? Please do not leave any further replies if you are going to continue to ignore this question,

    “Steve said the passage was a guarantee that believers will never deny the faith. Do you see that anywhere in the text? If not, then I assume you will also say that Steve read that into the text, correct?”

    God Bless,
    Ben

  28. Ben,

    Can I show that this test comes from God-

    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    It seems pretty clear to me that this temptation/test comes from God. So I will just stick with my last comment on this.

    Now about the Steve comment, you stated-

    Steve said the passage was a guarantee that believers will never deny the faith.

    I have read and re-read the passage above in your post and cannot see where he says that it “guarantee that believers will never deny the faith”. I could be missing it; the closest thing I found from your post was this-

    In sum, this verse is not talking about temptation in general. Rather, it’s talking about the specific temptation to deny one’s faith-of which idolatry was a paradigm-case throughout Scripture. And it says that, due to God’s fidelity, a Christian can never give in to that particular temptation.

    I agree that this is talking about God’s fidelity, but do not see it as referring to a specific temptation to deny one’s faith. So in that regard he would be reading into the text.

    BTW, I apologies if you thought I was ignoring your question. I thought that I had answered it, apparently not satisfactorily for you though. We have disagreed about many things, but I have always tried to answer questions posed to me. Now granted sometimes I am not very clear or coherent in my answer, but I try. You have always been kind and gracious in our dealings, thank you for that. In the future I will try to be more diligent in answering questions.

    Grace & Peace

    P.S. I will make this be my last reply on this post. Thank you again for your graciousness.

  29. Mitch,

    Just noticed this and have a second before I need to leave. The portion you higlighted says that “with the temptation, God will provide…”, it doesn’t say that he brought the temptation to bear on the person. It means only that when we are tempted (regardless of where that temptation comes from), God will provide a way of escape. It is strange to me that you would think “but will with the temptation also make a way to escape” means that God is the one who brought the temptation to them in the first place. That seems to me to be a clear case of reading something into the text that isn’t there.

    Thanks for answering the question about Hays. May God Bless you as you continue to seek Him, and have a great weekend.

    Ben

  30. Hello Ben,

    “Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I always appreciate your insight. However, I really need you to conform to the rules for posting on this blog. You can read those rules by clicking on the page tab at the top of the blog that says, “Important Blog Rules”. In that section I wrote the following (especially note the section in bold),”

    I looked at them just now and will not use “god” in reference to calvinists as per your rules.

    “and refrain from disrespectfully using a lower case “g” while referring to their conception of God. This gives the impression that the other side worships a false god and that will not be tolerated on this blog.”

    Don’t worry I won’t use the lower case “g” while referring to their conception of God anymore.

    “You are free to think that the Calvinists worship an entirely false God, but I would ask that you refrain from stating such on this blog.”

    Actually I never said that all calvinists worship an “entirely false God”.

    And this discussion concerning different conceptions of God brings up a significant issue. If a person has a conception of God in which: (1) God is a person who tells us things in the bible that are not in fact true and he does so knowingly (e.g., says that He loves the world and wants all to be saved when in fact he only desires to save some and reprobate most); (2) their conception of God is a person who brings about all evils that occur; (3) their God takes pleasure in the “reprobation” of nonbelievers (while the bible says the God of the bible does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked); and (4) their conception of God has God predetermining every action that we do and yet in the case of nonbelievers they are predetermined to be “reprobates” and then eternally punished in hell for the very actions that He predetermined for them to do. Do those propositions accurately reflect the God of the Bible? Now Ben if **that** is the God of the bible then you are right, we all worship the same God. But I am not convinced that those propositions accurately reflect the God of the bible.

    If they do not, if this conception of God is false, then how serious do you take this false representation of God to be?

    The bible is very strongly against idolatry (which is misrepresenting God and then worshipping a God that is not the God of the bible). This raises a question in my mind: if a calvinist crosses the line and is no longer representing God faithfully are they then in fact worshipping a false God and engaging in idolatry?

    “I think the Calvinist has a severely flawed view of God’s character and interactions with His creation, but I am sure my concept of God isn’t perfectly accurate either.”

    “severely flawed” and not having a “perfectly accurate” concept of God are very different. The Mormon conception of God is also “severely flawed” and there is no comparison between their false conception and your conception of God that “isn’t perfectly accurate either.” The same goes for Islam. None of us has it down perfectly, and yet the bible is absolutely clear that idolatry is a serious sin and this sin involves the wrong conception of God. Are we all idolaters then since none of us has a “perfectly accurate” concept of God? Or can we draw the line somewhere?

    “I am confident that you can make it clear that you do not believe the Calvinist conception of God is completetly accurate, without referring to that concept as a “god”.”

    No problem with using “God” rather than “god”. But again this discussion brings up a much larger issue: when do determinists cross the line so that their conception of God is no longer the God of the bible and is in fact a false God and so they are in fact involved in idolatry?

    I am wondering this because I have seen determinists making claims about God that if true, the God they are thinking of is in fact not the God that I know and believe in. Take one example to show what I mean. I posted on another Arminian site recently where I found a calvinist on their blog promoting someone who said the following about people like us who teach, preach and promote unlimited atonement:

    ““All preachers of Arminian, free will, works religion, all preachers of the damning, blasphemous doctrine of Universal Atonement or Universal Redemption, that is to say – – All who believe, teach and preach that the Son of God died to redeem and save all human beings, even those who perish at last in hell under the wrath of God, are guilty of this horrid crime: — THEY TREAD UNDER THEIR FEET THE BLOOD OF THE SON OF GOD, COUNT THE EVERLASTING BLOOD OF THE COVENANT AN UNHOLY THING, AND DO DESPISE UNTO THE SPIRIT OF GRACE! (EMPHASIS HIS).
    There is not today, never has been, and never can be any doctrine in all the world more dishonoring to God, more blasphemous to the Lord Jesus Christ, more contrary to the Spirit of grace and to the Word of God, or more damning to the souls of men than the doctrine of universal atonement.”

    Now does someone who believes that in teaching unlimited atonement we are making the worst possible theological error, someone who says these kinds of things about us, does this person have the same conception of God that we do? And if theirs is so different as to produce these kind of words directed at other believers then are we really worshipping the same God? If God’s plan of salvation is to provide Christ as an atonement for all men because He truly desires for all to be saved. And yet you come along and totally contradict God’s plan of salvation as this calvinist does, do you believe that he is operating from the same conception of God as we do?

    It is interesting that in his sermon this calvinist also says near the beginning of it:

    “I want you to hear every word of this message. I have chosen my words deliberately and purposefully. I have chosen them, either by the Spirit of Christ or by the spirit of antichrist. I will leave that for you to decide. But be sure you understand this — THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE BETWEEN THE TWO! Either I speak to you tonight as God’s messenger to your soul by the Holy Spirit of Christ, or I speak to you as a messenger of Satan by the spirit of antichrist.”

    So are his words inspired by the Holy Spirit or by another Spirit? I mean he says it himself that He is either speaking for God or not. It seems to me that your conception of God is going to show through clearly in your view of God’s plan of salvation. And this guy makes it clear that he thinks he is representing the God of the bible while those whom he denounces (us) are speaking by another Spirit. I keep seeing this kind of thing lately on calvinist blogs, and somebody’s conception of God is seriously wrong here. And if your conception of God is wrong and you worship that God, isn’t that idolatry?

    Robert

  31. Ben,

    Sorry for replying when I said it was my last, but I thought I would make it more apparent

    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    God will with the temptation also make a way to escape so that you can endure it. I have seen this also in commentaries, so I am not standing alone in my belief that this is from God.

    Anyways, sorry again for replying and I promise this is it for me on this. I also hope that you enjoy your weekend.

    Mitch

  32. Hello Ben,

    I am not going to touch upon your discussion with Mitch concerning the 1 Corinthian passage: I will leave well enough alone! 🙂

    I do however want to comment upon Mitch’s example as it shows perfectly how the committed determinist cannot live out his exhaustive determinism in real life. It is analogous to the relativist who claims everything is relative until you tamper with something important to him then suddenly good and evil and right and wrong do exist! Likewise, if exhaustive determinism were actually true, then we never ever have a choice (and there are not exceptions to this fact). Where the determinist, as Mitch illustrates this perfectly, shows the falsity of his belief is that in his daily life when dealing with important or significant events, THEY, LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE, BELIEVES THAT THEY HAVE CHOICES. But this belief that we ever have a choice is totally false if exhaustive determinism is true. So any evidence from Mitch’s own words that shows that he believed he had a choice, completely contradicts his espoused philosophy/theology.

    Look at his illustration (I will upper case words to highlight them):

    “When it comes to choice and it meaning only lfw I was struck with this example. Recently my wife and I were THINKING OF PULLING SOME MONEY OUT of our 401k to pay something off. We looked at the paper work and saw how we could pull out x amount. So NOW WE HAD A CHOICE, DO WE PULL THE MONEY OR DO WE LEAVE IT it in the 401k. WE DWELLED ON THIS CHOICE for about 2 months, we prayed about it and LOOKED AT THE PROS AND CONS and all that stuff. In the end WE DECIDED to leave the money in the 401k. Whew! NOW THAT WAS A CHOICE THAT WE HAD AND WE CAME TO A DECISION. We went on with our day to day life and did not think of this again. Then we met with our financial advisor and through the course of our meeting we told him of what we thought of doing and the result. My wife even told him how THIS DECISION caused many sleepless nights for her and she was glad that WE FINALLY DECIDED. To make a long story short, he laughed saying that our 401k plans did not allow us to pull money out in the first place.
    Now IN OUR VIEW WE HAD A CHOICE, but I guess you could say that the choice was determined already. Yet we still went through all of the “stuff” and MADE A DECISION.”

    There is no DECISION where there is no CHOICE.

    To decide to do x instead of y, I made a selection of x instead of y. Mitch is confused as many determinists are between what I would call metaphysical freedom to make a choice (that is in your mind where you make decisions) and practical freedom to carry out a decision that you have made (I can make a choice in my mind and then try to carry out that decision in the external world and have circumstances prevent me from doing so: e.g., I am considering and deciding which restaurant I want to go to dinner tonight, I decide upon x rather than y or Z, so I make the choice of x in my mind, metaphysical freedom, but then when I try to go to x restaurant I get there and find out that it is closed for remodeling, so I lack practical freedom to carry out the decision made in my mind; determinists often think up examples where your practical freedom is limited in some way and then conclude from **that** that you never had a choice, but you did have and make a choice in your mind which you then were unable to carry out in the external world). The important point not to miss is that even determinists believe that they have choices in their minds and they even say so as Mitch does clearly and repeatedly in his own example. But if his determinism were true then he never does have a choice in his mind. But he does not live that way, he can’t because he like everybody else believes and acts on the belief that we have choices in our minds. He is completely inconsistent with his own belief in exhaustive determinism every time he talks about making a decision (decisions are made in the mind and involve having a choice and then making a selection).

    Ben you responded to this example with:

    “I appreciate your example, but in a deterministic world your every deliberation was predetermined and necessitated. Therefore, you never really had a choice.”

    Right, if everything is predetermined as Mitch believes, then he never ever has a choice, he thinks he makes a decision between two possibilities (in his example taking some money out or leaving it in)but God pre-decided what “choice” he would make (God pre-decided that he would decide to leave the money in there). We never have a choice and then make a selection from possibilities (instead the different possibilities may appear to be possibilities to us, but we can only select the one that God pre-selected we would select). Put another way and Mitch won’t like it, but it is true: God is the puppet master pulling all of Mitch’s strings so that Mitch like the puppet that he is, always and only does exactly what God predetermined for him to do. There is no free will, he never has a choice, he just carries out the predetermined will of God like a good puppet.

    Ben futher observes:

    “ Your thoughts could only ever move in a single direction, and so there was only ever one volition possible (i.e. no real choice). You may have thought you had options, but you didn’t.”

    And this is the key, the determinist if his determinism is true never does have options, and yet he continues to live as if, believe as if, talk as if, he really has choices/decisions when he never ever does. He lives just like the rest of us who do not believe everything is predetermined he is completely inconsistent with his own beliefs. This is seen strikingly with Mitch’s wife who literally has “sleepless nights” regarding the decision/choice. If you believe that God predetermines it all and that whatever action you do is what God predetermined for you to do, then why ever worry, why have the sleepless nights?

    “And it is important to note that the actualization or result of the choice (whether or not you could possibly perform the action, or whether or not the performed action produced the expected result) is really irrelevant. You are confusing post volition (the results of a choice) with pre volition (whether you had any options at all, even if those options reside in the mind alone without referenced to external possibilities).”

    What Ben refers to as “post volition” and “pre-volition” is similar to what I said earlier between distinguishing between metaphysical freedom to have and make choices in your mind, and practical freedom to carry out those choices already made in your mind. Exhaustive determinism wipes our metaphysical freedom because if true, then we never even have choices in our minds, we have to do the one thing we were predetermined to do (or as Ben puts it ““ Your thoughts could only ever move in a single direction, and so there was only ever one volition possible”).

    What I want everybody to note in Mitch’s example is how he and his wife believe in metaphysical freedom, they believe that they really have choices to make in their minds, despite the fact that if their determinism were true, this belief that we have metaphysical freedom to have and make choices in our minds is always false. But the determinists sure don’t live out their beliefs now do they? 🙂

    Robert

  33. Robert,

    Thanks for the cautionary word. I will be careful. Incidentally, I had to smile a bit when you described Steve, since I too am about fifty, with no kids, and have more time than is probably prudent to sit in front of my computer!

    Also, I read with particular interest (and agreement) your comments about our obligation to call a spade a spade. I second your points. Indeed, if Calvinism is as false as Mormonism, shouldn’t we just identify it for what it is? Granted, the Calvinist–the person–may be a different matter, but certainly his system of thought is subject to God’s standards just as is every other system of thought. Your comments reminded me of Onesimus’s post some time ago about the golden calf, and our obligation to call a spade a spade. Indeed, Ben’s very able demonstration of Steve’s eisegetical comments on 1 Cor. 10:13 leaves me wondering just what Ben and Steve’s theologies really have in common with each other. For in their exchange, it seems to me the same-sounding terms did not a commonality make.

    One last thought, which pertains to this idea of using the word “God” instead of “god.” (My point is probably a bit tangential, but please indulge me for a moment.) A year or two (or so) ago I got into a disagreement with someone about religious truth. He gave me the standard line about “what’s right for you is right for you; but what’s right for me is right for me.” Now, I objected to this kind of argument with what I thought was a wise approach, claiming there was “absolute truth,” that there had to be an absolute standard, and so forth. But lately I am changing my strategy. I realize this fellow was technically correct. After all, although GOD states what He believes is the truth, and while you and I (and Ben and others) agree with God, technically speaking, not everyone believes what God says is the truth, and, in fact, some will never believe what God says. So, in what sense are God’s truths “absolute?” In fact, James tells us that if a man objects to God’s law he becomes his own lawgiver. And along these lines, isn’t it interesting that the earliest Greek manuscripts were all in Uncials, and that technically we might argue that James is saying that such a man has become his own Lawgiver (capital “L”)? For in fact, as far as that man himself is concerned, He is His own God (capital “H”, capital “G”). Thus, in a technical sense he really is God insofar as establishing a profession of what is truth–though for himself (certainly not for us!). That is, it IS truth for him.

    I think, then, what (in terms of absolutes) we CAN say, as I said to this fellow recently when we met again, this time over lunch, was that, although such a man is his own Lawgiver and has the ability to believe as truth those ideas which he himself holds, God will judge all lawgivers according to His (God’s) own Law. And God’s judgment will be irresistible; no one will escape them. So then, I think we Christians may say that God’s Law is absolute in terms of judgment, but not absolute in terms of everyone believing it. Incidentally, I found my friend, my antagonist at lunch, a little more pensive at this particular point in our conversation when I conceded his point about “what’s right for the person is right for him,” while making the qualifier that though “everyone be his own God,” nevertheless, all will be subject to God’s future judgment. I hope he got the point.

  34. kang,

    first, address this question:

    What is the issue with Calvinists and Arminians?

    Secondly:

    The Scripture surely implies what you said::::>

    “….Well, where in the text did he come to that conclusion? The passage never says anything about repudiating faith, nor does it mention apostasy. We are not permitted to ignore context and draw ideas from other portions of Scripture and read them into this text, remember?

    No, we are instructed to not ignore context. Isn’t that what he is getting at? Albeit and not knowing Steve or you, what context is being ignored here?

    Here is the verses above 13. How can one ignore apostasy when reading these? How can one eliminate sexual temptation from these??:::>

    1Co 10:5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
    1Co 10:6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
    1Co 10:7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”
    1Co 10:8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.
    1Co 10:9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,
    1Co 10:10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.
    1Co 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
    1Co 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

    As to this comment you made in your response to Steve’s, you wrote this:::> “….He has also suggested that idolatry, in this context, can only possibly equal a denial of faith. If an examination of the context yields any other result than the conclusion that apostasy alone is being referenced here, then Steve’s dismissive assertions are shown to be completely invalid….”

    What are you saying then? Are you saying that the cited verses above 13 do not lead to apostasy?

    I would argue clearly that each of the cited transgressions are purely a basis for a charge of apostasy. Being a sinner is being apostate. Why everyone of His disciples proved that! Mary came with perfume for the “dead”. Joseph bought 100 pounds of perfumes for a “dead” corpse. None of them understood the Resurrection! Jesus to them was just a savior to remove Roman rule and evil Talmudic Jews polluting the Temple Worship!

    Why? Well I would cite these words as a clear indication that what Paul was addressing is pure apostasy with each of the listed sinfulnesses of 1 Cor. 10:1…..::::>

    Gen 12:2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
    Gen 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

    Here is the central focus of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection, our blessing! He became a curse of the Law of Righteousness, even though He is the Law of Righteousness, in the human form, in the flesh being, so that that curse pronounced already upon Adam and his posterity can be lifted by His Faith given to us to live by, not our faith.

    Here are the sins identified and is the subject of the text:

    1Co 10:7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”
    1Co 10:8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.
    1Co 10:9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,
    1Co 10:10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.

    Idolatry is the sin. Which sinful behaviors does Paul identify with idolatry?

    1, a very prosperous life style, riches sufficient to live a life of ease full of drink and foods, idolatry.

    2. sexual immorality, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism of that day historically, idolatry.

    3. Arrogance because of being a “know it all’, well educated, well bred, well fed and secure in a humanistic knowledge of the laws of nature and nature’s God so much so that you would face off God, your Creator and “test” Him, for what? Again, idolatry.

    You go on to unpack the polemic of Steve by asking these questions:

    “….Do Christians ever crave evil things? Is apostasy evil things (plural), or is it an evil thing (singular)? ….”

    No, the sinful Adamic heretical nature “craves” evil things and it is both singular and plural, apostasy.

    The “Divine” Nature, which is a God thing, is Christ in you, the Hope of Glory and by virtue of your own confession that He is “sinless” and cannot sin, then Steve is making a point I can accept while I realize you do not. Or maybe not? Maybe you do accept his point but haven’t taken the time to see it from a Calvinist’s point of view in all fairness? I don’t know. I am just going through the arguments and calling a thing what it is from my stupid point of view!

    Next in the series you parenthetically ask:::>

    (and by the way, doesn’t this suggest that we can control our cravings [i.e. desires] to some extent, contrary to the Calvinist insistence that our desires control us?).

    I would say, no, you cannot control your cravings. If you could, you would be sinless and not “dead” in trespasses and sins. And you know and I know you are not sinless. The point is there is none righteous and if there is none righteous, and there is only one who made it out of here sinless, Jesus Christ, then our only way out of here is Him who knew no sin yet suffered the wrath of all of our sin so that we can enjoy all of His Promised blessings made to Abram at Genesis 12. In Abram shall all the families of the earth be blessed! If you think you are the one God will set up to bless us sinners, then I would say, “get behind me too Satan, you are an offense to me too”.

    You assert in the next paragraph::::>

    “….That instance can appropriately be characterized as apostasy on the part of Israel, but Paul seems to be using this verse and verses 5 and 6 in a more general sense…..”

    Yes, you are correct. Paul was writing to the Corinthians. And we believe that there were Jews there too. Wasn’t it Aquila and Priscilla Paul found in Corinth and went into a successful Construction trade with?

    Those people of Corinth were into some very deep sinful idolatries, including the sexual immoralities of a church goer who had his father’s wife; yuck!

    You end that paragraph with these words:::>

    “….Even so, there is no explicit mention of apostasy in Paul’s reference here (though my view does not need to rule out apostasy altogether, only show that apostasy is not the sole subject being addressed here)….”

    I have to respectfully depart from that premise as I tend to agree that apostate idolatry is the issue and that “all” sin is a departure from the Holy God, under the old covenants and the new.

    Not to bore you with the definitions of “idolatry”, I would simple say that anything that is a departure from the Promise God made to Abram, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” is idolatry.

    God is in charge. He permits everything that happens. He could stop things from happening. Remember Jesus?

    Mat 26:51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear.
    Mat 26:52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
    Mat 26:53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?
    Mat 26:54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

    Apparently Jesus knew He could stop things and the guys didn’t! The question is, do you know?

    He even knows the thoughts of our hearts before we do, even our prayers so that He can have the answer on the way before we get to praying the prayer!

    On down you ask, I guess a rhetorical question?:::>

    Does complaining constitute apostasy now?

    With all due respect, because I do respect you, I think that question doesn’t apply to Steve and what he is addressing.

    I would say though that complaining about your “Christian” brethren isn’t one of the virtues of Christ nor should we be given to complaints seeing Paul does give us this admonition, you know the drill, chapter 6:::>

    1Co 6:1 When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?

    Maybe Paul had these words of Psalm 50 in mind when writing that?

    Psa 50:16 But to the wicked God says: “What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?
    Psa 50:17 For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.
    Psa 50:18 If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers.
    Psa 50:19 “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.
    Psa 50:20 You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son.
    Psa 50:21 These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
    Psa 50:22 “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
    Psa 50:23 The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

    Again, further down you assert: “….To suggest that “fall” has exclusive reference to denying the faith is out of harmony with the context of the entire chapter….”

    I respectfully disagree. Again, I am the sinner here. I did not “love nor choose God”, He first “loved” me and “chose” me. Otherwise I would still be going on my merry way thinking things were better than they really were and are. Wise men don’t seek Him. They never have and they never will!

    I have been sinful my entire life. I have been walking with the Lord longer than not, more years a Believer than a non-believer. My flesh is dust with some water and goo. When the Life of Christ leaves this dust bucket, it goes to the dust it came from and I, that is my “sanctified spirit, soul and body” go to be with God forever! Yeah! You? 🙂

    Ok, later on down in your response you write:::>

    “….They can also expect to receive the same terrible consequences of sin, if they should yield to those various temptations and not heed Paul’s warning to “flee” (literally, “run from”) such potentially dangerous sins as idolatry (verse 14), which Paul will discuss again in verses 16-33. …”

    Nothing wrong with that and I bet Steve would “whole” heartedly agree with your assertion there as many of your commenters do as well!

    Do you think he doesn’t?

    Next, you claim this:::>

    “….So we have heeded Steve’s plea to focus on context and found that the context offers nothing of a necessary correlation between idolatry and outright apostasy as Steve claims. …”.

    What’s wrong with agreeing with Steve about apostasy as he claims?

    The whole of Corinthians is about apostasy among the reprobates and hedonists and heathens. If it wasn’t for Ceasar’s complaint against the Jews that caused them to flee Rome and Aquila and Priscilla and Paul finding their way to Corinth, I suppose someone else would have come by Corinth and told them the Gospel of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with their apostate way of life, don’t you?

    Kang, on this point I agree, what you make clear here as when I read it, I had similar thoughts:::>

    “….What is especially interesting is that one of the quotes Steve furnishes us with to support his conclusion that this verse is “talking about the specific temptation to deny one’s faith” actually undermines his conclusion and supports ours,….”

    I tend to agree that that was weak on Steve’s part. He must have had a stupid moment?

    When you write this:::>

    “….He admits that this is a basic truth found throughout Scripture; yet, I am not permitted to consider the relevance of that truth while reading 1 Cor. 10:13, since it “cuts against the grain” of the passage, according to him. …”

    No, you are permitted to consider the relevance of that truth! However, I concede to his point. Obviously you do not, so it’s a case of differing views of the text. We are only a part of some greater sum of a whole, the Church and we know only in part.

    I agree that Steve was harsh in criticism and he should allow the Holy Ghost to come along side him and help him out of this mess. It is true for you also.

    Me, on the other hand, I can do no wrong and I am perfect, need I say anything more about me? 🙂

    Now I think you protest to much in writing this:::>

    “….But then Steve does a strange thing. He tells us that the passage actually has to do with denying the faith and that it is actually an assurance that Christians will never deny the faith. It is actually a prooftext for Calvinistic inevitable perseverance, according to him….”.

    Kang, it does, so set your Arminian beliefs aside and see through the eyes of Jesus, the Innocent, Sinless, Pure and Holy Sacrifice. It is not because John Calvin believes that or Arminius, it is because this is the record the Holy Ghost left us through the great and abiding wisdom of Paul the Apostle. That’s my view and I realize it differs from yours.

    Again, you write:::>

    “….The passage only tells us that God provides a way of escape and that we are able to resist the temptation. …”

    What? Is your belief in His Faith, Him plus you?

    None of us can resist the temptation. If we could, there would be no need for a Savior, only one who judges whether or not we did resist or not. Ok, I admit it, I haven’t resisted all the time! I am not very happy with myself. I am happy with the Happy News though!

    None righteous, no not one, remember? That was a rhetorical question if you were not so sure? 🙂

    Finally, your finale is simply, IMO, a self justification for why you are right and Steve is wrong.

    I would think better of you on the merits if those citations were not included in your rebuttal to self justification of yourself in opposing Steve’s.

    However, Calvin sure states it well, in my view! 🙂

    My view is this as I am commissioned as a Minister of the Grace of God now, Born Again by the Free and Willing Mercies of Our Blessed God and Father of His Righteousness:::>

    Heb 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

    Now, of course, you indeed were overcoming evil with His Good, right?

    That was another rhetorical question.

  35. Michael,

    That was quite a response. I don’t have a problem with you disagreeing with me, and I don’t really have the time to give a point by point response to your comments (though I disagree with them for the most part). I also have a hard time following much of what you wrote, which is often the case when I read your responses (and the fault there might be entirely mine).

    I think the context is on my side here, and it seems to me like you are not allowing the context to control your understanding of the passage. At points you say you disagree, and then go on to share your personal experiences or Calvinistic type convictions on certain salvation issues. I appreciate your point of view, but that is not the proper way to engage and exegete a text, in my opinion.

    You also quote large portions of other passages that are not necessarily related to what Paul is saying here. I am not saying that we can’t look to other portions of the Bible to help us in our understanding of 1 Cor. 10, but we also need to be careful that we allow Paul to speak for himself and emphasize whatever he is specifically trying to emphasize in this passage. I believe I have done that in the post. Like you said, it is a case of differing views of the text, and I am content to let the careful reader decide who is being more honest with the text in developing that view (and I already know your opinion on that).

    Beyond that, I am not going to interact with what you have written here.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  36. Mitch,

    The presence of “also” and “make” does not dictate that God brought the temptation. I don’t think it is a very natural reading of the text. In order for us to come to the conclusion that “also” refers back to God causing the temptation, we would need something in the passage to suggest that God brought the temptation to bear on the Christian in the first place. We don’t have that. All we have is Paul saying that God will not permit the temptation to be beyond the ability to endure (and permission is not the same as causation). In this passage, the verb “make” refers to the direct object, “way of escape”. “Also” refers to God adding something to the situation of temptation, not necessarily causing the temptation.

    Based on the immediate context of the passage (verses 12 and 14), the broader context (dealing with the Israelites “falling” as the result of various sins, and being held up as an example for us to learn from), the fact that every major translation goes with “temptation” rather than “test”, we have every reason to affirm that “temptation” is meant by Paul. We also have no grammatical or contextual reason to believe that this temptation comes from God (except in the possible context of permission), so it would be a real stretch to suggest that “temptation” can only mean “test” here, based solely on the presence of “also” and “make” in the text.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  37. Robert and Dan,

    Real quick…I understand that we have different conceptions of God, and that it is difficult to tell where the line needs to be drawn. My point is mostly a matter of respect. Some Calvinists are quick to call Arminians damnable heretics and say they worship a false god. Some Calvinists and Arminians might call Dan a damnable heretic, because his theology leans towards what has traditionally been called Pelagian, or semi-Pelagian. Robert said this about Steve, “he hates us and likes to claim that if we oppose his exhaustive determinism/calvinism that that must mean that we are false teachers and hell bound”, and then goes on to speak about Steve’s conception of God with a little “g”, which suggests that he is worshipping a false god.

    I understand the whole “calling a spade a spade” thing, but in Steve’s mind he is just calling a spade a spade (i.e. Arminians are heretics who worship a false god), and Robert seems to think he is just calling a spade a spade as well (i.e. the Calvinistic conception of God is in such error that it is a false god, idol, etc.). Now where does that get us?

    The reason we think we are right and the other is wrong, is because of the way we interpret Scripture and use Scripture to develop our theology and perspective on God. If we want to have productive discussions and maybe help the other side see things our way, we need to show respect and focus on proper exegesis, etc.

    I do think it is different with Mormons who do not even recognize the authority of Scripture (as I have mentioned before), but I would still not think I would have a better chance of winning a Mormon to the truth by simply telling him he has a false god (he thinks I worship a false god too!), rather than respectfully dialoging with him and carefully and lovingly showing him the errors in his belief system.

    And Robert, I didn’t mean to imply that you necessarily thought Calvinist worship an entirely false God. I only meant that you have the freedom to think whatever you like, even to that extreme, but on this blog I want dialogue that does not portray such views (and using a little “g” can certainly give the impression of an entirely false god).

    I appreciate that you are willing to no longer do that.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  38. Kang

    at least answer the first question I posed, please?

  39. Hello Ben,

    “Real quick…I understand that we have different conceptions of God, and that it is difficult to tell where the line needs to be drawn.”

    And I asked you some specific questions about this in my previous post wanting to see where you draw the line regarding idolatry, you made no attempt to answer any of them.

    “My point is mostly a matter of respect.”

    Nothing wrong with being respectful, that is not what I have been asking you about.

    “Some Calvinists are quick to call Arminians damnable heretics and say they worship a false god.”

    Whoever has the false conception of God is in fact committing idolatry are they not? That is one of the reasons why the issue between Arminians and calvinists is important, is it not?

    “Some Calvinists and Arminians might call Dan a damnable heretic, because his theology leans towards what has traditionally been called Pelagian, or semi-Pelagian.”

    I believe that you could have some Pelagian or semi-Pelagian ideas and yet that goes to your view of the nature of man, not your views of God. In my previous post the issue that I raised and asked questions about concerned idolatry and whether or not calvinists by having a false conception of God could be committing idolatry.

    It has occurred to me recently however, that if a calvinist has a false conception of God and is worshipping this false conception of God and promoting this false conception of God and defending this false conception of God then are they not involved with idolatry?

    “I understand the whole “calling a spade a spade” thing, but in Steve’s mind he is just calling a spade a spade (i.e. Arminians are heretics who worship a false god), and Robert seems to think he is just calling a spade a spade as well (i.e. the Calvinistic conception of God is in such error that it is a false god, idol, etc.).”

    Actually it was Daniel who talked about “calling a spade a spade”, it wasn’t me. Again, I asked you direct questions about idolatry and calvinism which you have chosen not to answer.

    “Now where does that get us?”

    Of course we should be respectful as we dialogue with other Christians, most professing Christians agree about that. I am just noting a double standard regarding the calvinists (i.e, they can claim that we have a false conception of God and claim that we are heretics, that we propagate “false” (according to them) ideas such as unlimited atonement and conditional election; and yet if we turn the tables on them, if their conception of God is false and ours is correct then who is really engaging in idolatry?).

    “The reason we think we are right and the other is wrong, is because of the way we interpret Scripture and use Scripture to develop our theology and perspective on God.”

    And unfortunately cultists and people holding all sorts of false religions say this same thing. It’s true the differences are due to differences of interpretation. And it’s true that Christians may have disagreements regarding certain issues with them remaining within the pale of orthodoxy (e.g., millennial views, church government views, rapture views, etc.). But when someone’s interpretation or system leads them to a false conception of God and thus engaging in idolatry then we’ve got a bigger problem.

    “If we want to have productive discussions and maybe help the other side see things our way, we need to show respect and focus on proper exegesis, etc.”

    This may be true of some who are not very familiar with the different sides. But with those who are familiar with the differences, when they take positions on God that involve false conceptions of God, again we are now dealing with serious sin, idolatry.

    “I only meant that you have the freedom to think whatever you like, even to that extreme, but on this blog I want dialogue that does not portray such views (and using a little “g” can certainly give the impression of an entirely false god).”

    So Ben if someone professes to be a Christian and yet their views involve false conceptions of God, isn’t that idolatry? And it doesn’t matter who they are or how nicely you may want to interact with them, but the problem remains idolatry does it not?

    Robert

  40. Robert said:
    :And unfortunately cultists and people holding all sorts of false religions say this same thing. It’s true the differences are due to differences of interpretation. And it’s true that Christians may have disagreements regarding certain issues with them remaining within the pale of orthodoxy (e.g., millennial views, church government views, rapture views, etc.). But when someone’s interpretation or system leads them to a false conception of God and thus engaging in idolatry then we’ve got a bigger problem.”

    ————
    With the issue of differences in belief and doctrine, at what stage do we consider that those differences have crossed the line into heresy? How many differences and what type of differences should we tolerate before they are recognised as being significant enough to consider that the adherent to those beliefs is following a false religion?

    Why is Mormonism false?

    With regard to the Mormon, I would say that they follow a God who is different in character, has a different relationship with mankind and offers a different path to salvation to the God I recognise. And THAT is the main determining factor in my opinion. If a theological system promotes a God that is different in all of these areas to the God I recognise, then clearly at least one of our Gods is false. Is there any wisdom in ignoring this reality?

  41. Ben,

    He calls my rhetoric “self-congratulatory”….

    Not surprising, he threw the same nonsensical yarn at me whenever we asked them about the apparent use of sockpuppets by some of his cohorts. Methinks Hays deems himself to possess motive-sensing powers.

    But then Steve does a strange thing. He tells us that the passage actually has to do with denying the faith and that it is actually an assurance that Christians will never deny the faith. It is actually a prooftext for Calvinistic inevitable perseverance, according to him.

    Prooftexting at its most ridiculous indeed on Hays’ part. You’re right, there is nothing in the context to suggest that this passage refers strictly to final apostasy. The phrase “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man…”, contra Steve’s assertions, states nothing even close to the effect of, “The temptation to depart from Christ”, but plainly refers to one or more of the varied temptations that men commonly face. Self-induced context-blindness…Hays’ flashlight would doubtless be more effective if he bothered to install a few batteries.

    That’s to say nothing of his untenable position on perseverance, it’s fraught with the same inherent problem no matter who debates it: self-contradiction. An inescapable corollary of inevitable perseverance is that no saint need fear truly falling away, since no rational person can fear what he firmly believes can never truly occur.

    That’s where the whole “fear of damnation as a means to inevitable perseverance” position that Hays espouses runs into direct contradiction, since what he argues amounts to saying that God uses fear of damnation in saints as a means to ensure that no saint need fear damnation.

    I haven’t even looked at Triablogue’s updates for a long time, but I anticipate that he’ll respond to you (if he hasn’t already), if nothing else just to get the last word in, likely following their previously observed modus operandi.

    Great quote by Calvin btw.

  42. Robert,

    I said “real quick” because I didn’t have time for a detailed response concerning all your questions. I wanted to address what seemed to me to be general objections (from you and Dan) concerning the reasoning behind my blog rules. If you were not objecting to any reasoning on my part, then my clarifications were wrongly directed to you and I apologize. I wasn’t trying to ignore your questions or anything like that.

    Generally, I am not sure where to draw the line. That may be a matter between God and that person. For me, Calvinism does distort God’s image when taken to its logical conclusions. Thankfully, many Calvinist do not go there. I explained in a previous post why I think Calvinists should be considered brothers in the Lord, and why we should view them differently than groups like Mormons, for example.

    I think we are all guilty of idolatry to some extent because none of us have a perfectly accurate concept of God. One can be an Arminian and see God as somewhat of a Santa Claus, who is mostly there to just bless his or her socks off. That is not a proper conception of God, but if they are trusting in Christ for salvation, then I don’t think God will disown them based on that faulty conception. Some Calvinists conceptions are far more extreme, but we agree with them on the basics (as I explained in another post).

    I wonder where you think the line should be drawn? What are your thoughts? Anyway, my main concern is to treat each other with respect and try to help each other come to a more accurate understanding of God without calling each other false teachers and the like. As far as where the line should be drawn, maybe that should be the subject of a future post.

    BTW, why do you generally write “calvinism/calvinist” with a little “c” and “Arminian/Arminianism” with a capital “A”? I am not sure why you do that but I suspect that could be easily interpreted as a lack of respect.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  43. Michael,

    Do you mean this question?

    What is the issue with Calvinists and Arminians?

    If so, I think that question is a little vague, and I think you are aware of many (if not all) of the “issues” between Calvinists and Arminians.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  44. J.C., Ben permitting, can you lay out just what the Lord has taught you in the power of the Holy Ghost in Scripture about “the perseverance of the Saints”?

    You wrote this in response above: “….That’s to say nothing of his untenable position on perseverance, ….”

    Please clearly lay out what you believe the “perseverance” of the Saints is as it is being taught in Scripture?

    Ben,

    no, I really am neither fully comprehensive of Calvin or Arminius.

    There are some things I have read of Calvin, like the quote above, that I like and I have read some things of Arminius, like Dan’s header on his blog, at Arminian Chronicles, that I like.

    To be sure, I have some knowledge of both. It seems to me there is a great division between Presbyterians and Baptists and I am just having difficulty with that. “Wherefore the end of Theology is the union, God with man,….”

    What must the world think that the Church lives in, not of, to see this division? How does this fulfill the “Heart” of Jesus as He shows us His Heart with His Words here:

    Mat 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

    As blood bought, redeemed, purchased Christians, we are to “live” for the glory of His Father and Ours!

    The irony is, is what Jesus said, that seems to get my ire:

    Mat 12:25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.
    Mat 12:26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
    Mat 12:27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.

    But who am I anyway but a little nothing, the least, the lostest, the lowest among my brethren.

    It truly is a shame when Christians, those who confess the Lord Jesus and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead, will stoop so low as to cry foul and accuse another of being a heretic and damnable ust because their interpretation of non salvation Scriptures is rejected.

    As I asked another recently, let me ask you basis about this verse of Scripture. Define where “come” is that the Holy Ghost and the Church are saying “come” into or come to so as to be out of?

    Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

  45. Hello Onesimus,

    “With the issue of differences in belief and doctrine, at what stage do we consider that those differences have crossed the line into heresy?”

    I would say that heresy involves the denial of essential Christian doctrines (e.g., denying the resurrection of Jesus from the dead). Differences among non-essentials would not involve heresies (e.g., one person holds to premillennialism another holds to amillennialism, neither is a heretic though one may be right and one may be wrong). I reserve the word “Heretic” only for one who denies essential doctrine, not just for those who disagree with me on non-essentials.

    “How many differences and what type of differences should we tolerate before they are recognized as being significant enough to consider that the adherent to those beliefs is following a false religion?”

    Here we would have to establish what **are** the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. False religions always deny the essentials of the Christian faith (e.g. they all deny the trinity).

    “Why is Mormonism false?”

    Mormonism denies essential Christian doctrine including: they deny the trinity, they deny God’s self–existence, they deny salvation through faith alone.

    “With regard to the Mormon, I would say that they follow a God who is different in character, has a different relationship with mankind and offers a different path to salvation to the God I recognize. And THAT is the main determining factor in my opinion.”

    You are correct they do deny God’s plan of salvation and their conception of God is very different and unbiblical.

    “If a theological system promotes a God that is different in all of these areas to the God I recognize, then clearly at least one of our Gods is false. Is there any wisdom in ignoring this reality?”

    We can put aside disagreements among Christians involving non-essential doctrines, that is not what I have been talking about here. However, when essential doctrines are being denied (including God’s plan of salvation), by some man-made system of theology, then we’ve got a problem. We should not ignore the denial of essential Christian doctrine, whether this is done by nonbelievers or professing Christians.

    Robert

  46. Hello Ben,

    “I said “real quick” because I didn’t have time for a detailed response concerning all your questions. I wanted to address what seemed to me to be general objections (from you and Dan) concerning the reasoning behind my blog rules.”

    I wasn’t questioning or objecting to or even asking about your blog rules. I asked you direct questions on the issue of idolatry.

    “Generally, I am not sure where to draw the line. That may be a matter between God and that person.”

    So the nature of idolatry is person-relative, what may be idolatry for one may not be for another? Or is it objective and so Christians can agree about it?

    “For me, Calvinism does distort God’s image when taken to its logical conclusions. Thankfully, many Calvinist do not go there.”

    Is that your suggested path then (i.e., if they are inconsistent with the system they worship the same God as other Christians do; and you would further suggest that most are inconsistent with the system). But what if they **are** consistent with the beliefs of their system? What if they **do** go there? That is just my concern, those who **do** go there so they end up espousing a God with the character and actions that do not fit at all the true God who reveals Himself in scripture.

    “I think we are all guilty of idolatry to some extent because none of us have a perfectly accurate concept of God.”

    Alright if you are going to define idolatry that broadly as any **less than perfect** conception of God, then since we all are imperfect Christians with imperfect conceptions of God, therefore we are all continually committing the sin of idolatry. But that cannot be right. No doubt that all Christians continue to sin and commit idolatry **at times** (e.g. when we treat someone as the most important person in our life when God alone should be in that position; but if someone is continually committing idolatry they are not a Christian, cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor IDOLATERS, . . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE some of you but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified I the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”).

    “Some Calvinists conceptions are far more extreme, but we agree with them on the basics (as I explained in another post).”

    And these **extreme** conceptions, is this not Idolatry? And so how do you draw the line between extreme versus non-extreme Calvinistic conceptions?

    “As far as where the line should be drawn, maybe that should be the subject of a future post.”

    Yes perhaps that should be a subject for future consideration. I just brought it up now because it came to mind now.

    Robert

  47. Ben, & Robert,

    It appears I wasn’t clear about my position in the “God” versus “god” question. I wasn’t really trying to challenge Ben on his blog rule; in fact, I thought I was basically trying to defend it, at least in one sense, by making the point that we can refer to anyone’s view of God with a capital “G”, not because we recognize non-Christian views as correct, but because the non-Christian is his own God (capital “G”), a point which carries over to their concept of God. My personal opinion (and it is only an opinion) is that, at least most Calvinists are Christians despite their views, because one can be double-minded and (I think) still be saved. (At least, that’s my understanding from James.) Perhaps I’m not being any clearer in this post than my previous one. I regret that. Is this any clearer?

    Incidentally, I understand Ben’s point about being patient with people whose views are different than our own, and I think I agree. But my phrase, “calling a spade a spade,” was, I think (and probably I could have been clearer on this point ,as well) more about nomenclature among ourselves than about actual responses to those who disagree with us. I don’t see the two as mutually exclusive, though. But I do see a difference. My boldest statements (calling a spade a spade) in this regard in my book usually come after long review of some particular discussion, and my book is not really written for the confirmed Calvinist. Incidentally, I hope to have the revised version in hand in a few days. I finally have a bound proof copy in hand, and the printer is making just a few adjustments. He’s given me an expected date of this Thursday.

  48. Michael,

    I don’t think it is fair for you to ask JC to lay out his view of perseverance in this thread. He basically agrees with me on that issue and has already written several posts on it here. If you click on the “perseverance” category in the left side bar under “Categories”, you will find numerous posts on the subject, written by both of us. You could also go to his web-site and read specific articles he has written on the subject.

    You routinely claim ignorance concerning what Arminianism and Calvinism teach, yet you seem very concerned about the issue. You also like to debate the issue here and on other blogs, and always (as far as I have noticed) seem to come down on the side of Calvinism (so your points about division seem a little strange).

    I would suggest you look into the matter carefully (even reading some from Arminius, Calvin, and various Calvinistic and Arminian authors), before continuing to engage posts on the subject. It is fine that you want to learn, but I know that I, for one, do not have the time to continually educate you in comboxes. There of plenty of resources at this site that will give you the knowledge you need to better engage the subject.

    As far as Rev. 22:17, it is a reference to Christ’s second coming, and doesn’t have anything to do with the church coming into or out of anything (cf. verse 20).

    God Bless,
    Ben

  49. Ben

    you wrote:

    “….As far as Rev. 22:17, it is a reference to Christ’s second coming, and doesn’t have anything to do with the church coming into or out of anything (cf. verse 20)….”

    You see, even here, we are on different plains and see the verse differently. I “use” to view that verse exactly as you do here.

    I have another reasoning now because of a greater sense of understanding that has come to me as I grow in the knowledge of the Truth.

    I would say, at least that verse is a polysemy. You take the position that that verse “means” Jesus’ returning. I do not now see it that way. I see something else.

    Would you like to further this and at a minimum see what I now see?

    As for your remarks about being unfair in a quiry to JC, well, I accept that admonition and ask for forgiveness for being “unfair” to JC. I will look at his blog then and read up on your views.

    Although I see nothing wrong with a general succinct explanation of your views as I have requested. Again, it is a matter of one’s judgment of the issue. You find it unfair. I thought it only reasonable. Does that mean you are right and I am wrong? Or rather, as I now suspect, you are very different than me in upbringing paternally and maternally and you hold a set of values that are much different than mine. This in no way should be a door closer or cut off the intended relationship as the Bible exhorts:

    Pro 18:23 The poor useth entreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.
    Pro 18:24 A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

    So, I guess my application of those verses are quite different than yours?

    What’s the point? There are a variety of ministries and gifts and the eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of thee!

  50. Michael,

    In general, it is not a big deal to ask someone for their view on something. If JC wants to share his view, he can certainly do that. I guess I am a little surprised that you would even be unsure of what his view consists of, since I think you already know. It seems like you are just trying to bait him into an argument. That may not be the case, but I am basing that on discussions I have had with you in the past that have gone along those lines.

    I do consider you a brother in the Lord, and I am not trying to close any doors. I am just encouraging you to move beyond posts that start with, “I haven’t studied Calvin or Arminius…” and then go on to argue strongly from a Calvinist view, quote Scriptures that seem unrelated with little or no comment as to their relevance, and ask questions that I suspect you already know the answer to. I am not banning you from interacting here or asking questions, but I have noticed a general pattern that makes me wonder what you are all about (and I suspect I am not the only one who has noticed it).

    My view of Rev. 22:17 is based on the context. I see no need to go beyond that into some personal revelation or insight that you may think you have gained from those words, apart from that context.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  51. With respect Ben,

    I believe there is a more important “point’ to the verse, as one who has taken the Gospel to those sitting in darkness; the Good News, to those who “do not as yet believe” it the way I do.

    For one struggling between the two opinions, that verse takes ahold of them, personally, as all Scripture should, personally in such a way that edifies and strengthens them and builds up their resolve to accept His Faith once delivered to the Saints and “lay hold of Eternal Life” instead of listen to the detractors and their lies and turn away from Christ, “before” His final coming.

    There is an important reality in the verse that I suggest is plain in meaning when looked at in the context I apply to it above.

    Granted, generally, Christ is coming and if you have not received, as yet, His Grace, the forgiveness of sins, when He comes or before you die and pass out into Eternity, His coming, He will not be a most Gracious Groom for you.

    But, with the understanding of the meaning of “being” a part of the “Bride”, that Holy Christian Church and what She is doing along with the Holy Ghost in this present evil world, that is in calling forth “Come” to those sitting in darkness, it in fact means a calling forth, out of something and a calling forth into something.

    Paul, in his great apologetic to King Agrippa said it this way:

    Act 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
    Act 26:14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
    Act 26:15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
    Act 26:16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
    Act 26:17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you
    Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
    Act 26:19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
    Act 26:20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.

    God said it best this way when the children of Israel were crossing the Jordan. He said this:

    Jos 4:19 The people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and they encamped at Gilgal on the east border of Jericho.
    Jos 4:20 And those twelve stones, which they took out of the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.
    Jos 4:21 And he said to the people of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in times to come, ‘What do these stones mean?’
    Jos 4:22 then you shall let your children know, ‘Israel passed over this Jordan on dry ground.’
    Jos 4:23 For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over,
    Jos 4:24 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

    He first began this idea when He said this:

    Deu 6:20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’
    Deu 6:21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
    Deu 6:22 And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.
    Deu 6:23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.

    What then is the meaning and my point now? Well I will state it clearly, The Bride is now the “very” Body of Christ as Paul taught in Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13. She is not “waiting for the return of the Lord” anymore in that context as you make plain about the verse, Rev. 22:17.

    When you consider that the Bride is now not of her “self” being, but now, having been changed to be the “very” Body of His Present Being, the stage She is on presently has a different purpose than just telling others that Christ is coming.

    The verse “puts” legs on it so that the Holy Christian Church can “rightly, righteously” Walk by His Faith and not their own in this world, devils full. Now She can give over to the hearers the voice that calls out “Come” and the hearers hear about a “Righteousness” that is not their own. Now Her Voice is indeed His Voice the hearers hear and they shall see His Righteousness instead, not as the one coming, but rather, as the one already here, now, in Her!

    I do not want to belabor the point but permit me a bit more space to point to one Greek Word to underscore the meaning of the point I am making. Paul is the only writer in the Bible to use this Greek Word and he uses it at those two verses, Ephesians 2:5 and Colossians 2:13 cited above. This is the Greek word:

    συζωοποιέω
    suzōopoieō
    sood-zo-op-oy-eh’-o
    From G4862 and G2227; to reanimate conjointly with (figuratively): – quicken together with.

    Knowing that Our God is “One”, Three Eternal Beings, who are Eternally One, though Three separate Eternal Beings, the meaning of the verse then takes on a stronger sense for what the Holy Christian Church is to be doing in the world, devils full, instead of debating the size of gnats and camels all the while straining at gnats all the while swallowing camels and calling that Evangelism and God’s Grace, Mercy and Peace when there is no power and no Lord in that!

    It’s the proclamation of the Gospel, without prejudice.

    Oh well, I went off a bit there. I hope you can hear it and consider looking through that lense and gain the understanding of what it is the Holy Ghost is doing by the verse and what the Bride is doing in the verse too, other than pointing to “what” Jesus is about to do?

    As you know from research and reading Bible History, it seems the one thing every generation has missed so far, is “this is the generation” Jesus will return to. Well, apparently every generation so far has missed it. Is our generation the generation He will come to? Maybe?

    What one thing also is glaring to me, at least, is the falling short the Bride has gotten to by “not” calling out, “Come”, without prejudice. It seems instead, we make it hard for them to receive His Grace, Mercy and Peace, but instead it seems it is only by and with familiarity and partiality.

    I also, not a flattery, but commendation, Ben, want to say that I truly appreciate your demeanor and willingness not to be offended but to call out “Come” to Him, before He “Comes” to you and finds you in an unfortunate state of being where He has to cast you out of that Place of Being the Bride as She calls out “Come”!

    One last citation of His coming. It is from the heart of King David. Maybe it is this that causes us all to consider, is this “the generation” in which He will “Come”?

    1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
    1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
    1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

  52. Michael,

    The fact is that you are not using that verse properly. The idea of Christ calling the church out of the world is plainly stated in numerous places, but that is not the subject or point of concern in Rev. 22:17, bottom line. You asked me what I thought it meant, and I answered the question. I think it means just what it says, and it doesn’t say what you are suggesting. I basically agree with most of what you are saying (concerning union with Christ and the need to come out of the world, etc.), but Rev. 22:17 is not saying those things. You could have just went to another part of Revelation to make your point,

    “And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her [Babylon], my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive her plagues” (Rev. 18:4)

    Here the church is the object of “Come” and not “Christ”. In the other passage Christ is the object of “Come” and not the church (which should be very obvious). I understand the union of the church with Christ, but that is not what is being expressed in Rev. 22:17, just as clearly as Rev. 18:4 is not calling “Christ” out of Babylon and warning “Him” not to participate in her sins or receive her plagues.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  53. Ben wrote:

    “You routinely claim ignorance concerning what Arminianism and Calvinism teach, yet you seem very concerned about the issue. You also like to debate the issue here and on other blogs, and always (as far as I have noticed) seem to come down on the side of Calvinism (so your points about division seem a little strange).”

    This is why I do not directly respond or interact with “Natamllc”/Michael, because he is clearly a calvinist and yet claims ignorance about this. And yet if you look at his posts he always takes the calvinist position and always attacks the Arminian or non-calvinist position. To do this over and over and claim you are not a calvinist is both misleading and dishonest. Now if he stated forthrightly that he was in fact a calvinist and then attacked non-calvinism, that is OK and that would be honest. But to **pretend** not to be calvinist and then come to Arminian blogs and argue for calvinism, that is just not right.

    “It is fine that you want to learn, but I know that I, for one, do not have the time to continually educate you in comboxes. There of plenty of resources at this site that will give you the knowledge you need to better engage the subject.”

    I also don’t believe “Natamllc”/Michael when he claims to want to learn more. He makes this claim over and over (like the claim that he is not a calvinist) and yet always argues for calvinism and against non-calvinism. He even uses the same lists of biblical texts over and over again. This is not an indication of someone who truly wants to learn, but instead suggests someone whose mind is already made up (and completely committed to calvinism) and they just want to argue for calvinism against non-calvinists while claiming not to be a calvinist.

    In an additional post Ben elaborated further:

    “I am just encouraging you to move beyond posts that start with, “I haven’t studied Calvin or Arminius…” and then go on to argue strongly from a Calvinist view, quote Scriptures that seem unrelated with little or no comment as to their relevance, and ask questions that I suspect you already know the answer to.”

    This is another repeated pattern found with “Natamllc/Michael, he will quote lists of bible verses that have nothing to do with the subject at hand, are pulled out of context, and contribute nothing to the present subject being discussed. He will also ask set up questions where he knows the answer but just wants to argue his points. If you do engage him, you find yourself going around and around in meaningless circles and getting responses that make no sense. In my case you will also receive personal attacks if you disagree with him on something. I suggest that others avoid interaction with “Natamllc/Michael as it is not a good use of time and you really do not need to be on the receiving end of unjustified personal attacks.

    Ben also wrote:

    “ I am not banning you from interacting here or asking questions, but I have noticed a general pattern that makes me wonder what you are all about (and I suspect I am not the only one who has noticed it).”

    If the same patterns happen **over and over** again, and these habitual patterns add nothing to current discussions, go off on tangents, lead to meaningless disagreements and discussions, what is profitable in allowing this kind of thing to continue?

    Robert

  54. Ben,

    let me be straight forward with you. You will account to God for every vain thought about it and how you receive what I am going to say. Those are God’s terms and I respect them and fear Him! I suppose I could say that about you too?

    I study the Bible. I study the Bible a lot. I have not read Calvin’s Institutes. I have not read up much on the Dutch reformer either.

    Most of my knowledge of these two comes mostly from some books of contemporary writers on subjects that seem to raise issues with one or the other.

    My judgments of what I read in blogs is basis the Bible. If I don’t believe that another’s point of view lines up with what I understand the Word of God means I do not shut myself off from it. I pray about it.

    I pray daily deeply in the Spirit, sometimes now twice and three times a day. Everything I comment in blogs is after some prayer and thought.

    So when I sound like Calvin in thinking, it is either a compliment or a curse as it seems to be in here and especially with remarks you just read Robert make. I come to my reasonings basis my understanding and reading of Scriptures, not generally what some dead Theologian thinks. I take into account what they have written, to be sure. But that is not my fundamental premise for my assertions or reasonings.

    I have trouble with Robert and things like he wrote above. Probably because he seems to know it all and is not open to go back and forth.

    I apologize if I come across as a know it all. I am accused of that all the time. I am a slow learner and don’t change very quickly.

    I have nothing to hide. I confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and I believe God raised Him from the dead. I had a “life” changing experience when I was twentyone, miserable, broken, broken hearted for all the trouble I had already brought to a lot of people, including my parents. Now after 35 years of some powerful, wonderful, world trotting travels bringing the Gospel of the Kingdom free of charge to over thirty countries, seen and done a lot, I guess what I post is just what it is from thirty five years of Ministry.

    When I ask a question, it is not feigning anything and Robert should, if he had a conscience, be ashamed of himself for impugning my integrity.

    This is your blog and you state quite unequivocally the boundaries and when someone crosses over them you are straight forward about it. That’s clean and respectable. And I respect that.

    So, with my questionings above I am just curious about the main nuts that each try to crack or not when it comes to Calvin and Arminius. Why I asked you was quite frankly because I sensed a quality of person that wouldn’t go at me with disdain or be vitrolic as Robert and others I have come in contact with over the last little while have as I have chosen to blog on the internet.

    Anyway, I respect your point of view on Scriptures and I would hope you respect mine? Sometimes the hand doesn’t need the foot to help pull a sliver out of one’s eye!

  55. Michael,

    Did you really mean to say the following to Ben?

    “You will account to God for every vain thought about it and how you receive what I am going to say. Those are God’s terms and I respect them and fear Him!”

    First, and preliminarily, I (and presumably others) assume by “You will account to God” you mean “You will be brought to account by God”. Yes? Just clarifying here.

    Second, while I think all bloggers here hope and assume they are expressing biblical views, I believe that your use of “Those” and “ terms” (PLURAL), in your equating these as “God’s terms”, is quite objectionable insofar as one of these terms refers to your own utterance. For in your paragraph, as written, you are stating that Ben’s accountability before God is judged by two things—one of them being what you are about to say. In fact, you are stating that this constitutes one of two terms which are “God’s terms”. As far as I can tell from the language you are using in your post, you seem to be equating what you were (at that point) about to say to Ben as a Spirit-inspired utterance on a par with Scripture, i.e., in effect, “The Lord says…” I find that a remarkable statement. Perhaps you did not really mean to say that. Perhaps you meant something else? Now, granted, all of us are making judgments of a sort about what others are saying on this blog, according to what we believe the Bible teaches. But I don’t think others have been so audacious as to tell someone with whom they disagreed that he were subject to their views as unto God.

    Maybe you feel that you qualified that statement about “God’s terms” in subsequent paragraphs. But I think the qualifier needed to be made at least in the same paragraph to avoid confusion. Perhaps you would like to clarify what you meant (if you feel clarification is needed).

  56. Michael,

    The last word in my long paragraph would better read: God’s (apostrophe “s”).

  57. Michael,

    You wrote,

    let me be straight forward with you. You will account to God for every vain thought about it and how you receive what I am going to say. Those are God’s terms and I respect them and fear Him! I suppose I could say that about you too?

    I find these comments to be unnecessary. They seem to demonstrate a level of spiritual arrogance as if you are a spokesman for God, and if I don’t heed your words God will hold me accountable. I hope that is not what you meant to convey, but that is how it comes across.

    You then wrote,

    I study the Bible. I study the Bible a lot. I have not read Calvin’s Institutes. I have not read up much on the Dutch reformer either.

    That’s fine. I hope you read your Bible more than anything else. No one here is suggesting you read more Calvin than the Bible. This is, however, a blog that discusses Arminianism and Calvinism, and if you are not trying to engage that subject, then I wonder why you have picked this blog to comment on. If you are trying to engage that subject then it would be helpful if you spent some time educating yourself on that subject.

    So when I sound like Calvin in thinking, it is either a compliment or a curse as it seems to be in here and especially with remarks you just read Robert make.

    It has nothing to do with being a compliment or a curse. The point is that you always argue from the Calvinist view point. You seem very familiar with Calvinist theology, and yet you often start your posts claiming ignorance of the subject. That comes off as less than genuine, so I can see where Robert is coming from on that (BTW, I would guess that Robert chimed in because I said in my last post, “and I suspect I am not the only one who has noticed it” ). It is also true that you often quote long passages of Scripture that seem irrelevant, and then ask me to comment on those passages (and sometimes it comes across as a demand on your part). I don’t have the time to keep asking you for clarification. I am all for productive discussion, but often discussions with you seem unproductive, and I just don’t have the time right now for those kinds of discussions. It is often like Robert said, “round and round” without really getting anywhere.

    I come to my reasonings basis my understanding and reading of Scriptures, not generally what some dead Theologian thinks. I take into account what they have written, to be sure. But that is not my fundamental premise for my assertions or reasonings.

    Again, that is great. No one is suggesting you put a dead theologian above Scripture. The purpose of this blog is to examine what those dead theologians said in light of Scripture, and I don’t agree completely with any theologian, alive or dead. Contrary to your claims, however, it does seem that you have been heavily influenced by Calvinist thought. I could be wrong about that, or maybe you don’t even realize how much Calvinists have influenced your thinking.

    I have trouble with Robert and things like he wrote above. Probably because he seems to know it all and is not open to go back and forth.

    I understand you and Robert having problems with each other. I think we can all come across as “a know it all” at times. For me, it is not about being “open” or not to go “back and forth”, but about how relevant and productive the discussion is. Sometimes it is just not worth it.

    Here is the bottom line. You are welcome to comment on my posts. You are welcome to argue from a Calvinist perspective. You are welcome to seek clarification. But I do have some guidelines that I would like you to follow from now on.

    1) Make sure you read through the entire post carefully before commenting.
    2) Make sure your comments are directly related to the post.
    3) Please limit the amount of questions you ask to one or (at the most) two at a time.
    4) Make any questions very specific. Stay very focused. If I think the question is too vague or not related to the post, it will be ignored from now on.
    5) If you reference Scripture to make a point, carefully explain how you think that Scripture supports your point. Again, be very specific.

    If you are willing to do those things, then I think we can have some productive discussions. If you are not willing to do those things, then do not be surprised if no one responds to your comments.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  58. Dan,

    I just posted a response to Michael above before reading your comments. I came away from those comments of his with the same concerns. I hope that we have both misunderstood him.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  59. Hello Ben,

    Thank you for providing the guidelines for “natamllc”/Michael to follow when he posts. I don’t think any of us want things to continue as they have so far. We all want reasonable and civil discussions. But “natamllc”/Michael has posted in such a way as to cause unnecessary confusion and diversions from the subjects at hand. If he follows your suggested guidelines that would help him to post in a better way and encourage the kind of discussions that we all want to have here. Thanks Ben,

    Robert

  60. This is just a procedural observation/suggestion. It seems that your site has recently started allowing for replies to specific posts and then grouping related posts together. I personally find this unhelpful because if someone wnats to follow the conversation, he has to find the portion of the comments where it takes place. One can look at the recent comments box, but if it goes too long, then that won’t help. It probably is ok for someone reading through the whole comment section for the first time, but not for participating in the discussion or following new posts that are made. Just my 2 cents.

  61. Yeah, I am not sure I like it either. It just appeared one day. I didn’t change anything or activate it as a function. At first I thought it was neat, but it does make it hard to keep track of new comments and makes it easy to miss new comments. I’m going to see if I can disable it.

    Thanks for the 2 cents,
    Ben

  62. Ben,

    I wrote: “You will account to God for every vain thought about it and how you receive what I am going to say. ”

    The accountability applies to me equally. The reference is to every idle “word and thought”. I am limiting myself to that admonition as well. Sorry for the confusion. I greatly appreciate the admonition.

    Those words should have been more straightly directed to Robert but since Robert on his own ‘terms” has precluded from blogging directly with me about my points in the debates, but only indirectly, through intermediaries in the various blogs I seem to find myself blogging in that he frequence. I, by my slight, was making clear that I do not take lightly, and neither does God Himself, Robert saying things about me as he has said above:::>

    [Robert wrote: “….To do this over and over and claim you are not a calvinist is both misleading and dishonest….”]

    He will account to God for that. That was ad hominem and he knows it.

    You would equally, as I, account to God for opining what is in a man’s heart to be misleading and dishonest. I am not God. God sets the terms of “judgment” when one errs. Robert errs here and he should be ashamed of himself. I have not been rude or disrespectful to him or you or any other blogger in here. If I am, it need only be brought to my attention and if I do not at that time respond appropriately, well, I then will find myself under the wrath of God’s remedial discipline. I count myself an Ordained Minister of God and with my whole being intend on serving Him for His Good Pleasure, not personally attack another’s character as Robert has done above.

    I would address this issue as well:

    you wrote this about me: “….The point is that you always argue from the Calvinist view point. You seem very familiar with Calvinist theology, and yet you often start your posts claiming ignorance of the subject….”

    I offer this observation about those words. Could it be that I am “gaining” the same understanding from Scripture as Calvin, when, as he, I have studied the same Scriptures? I do not argue from another person’s point of view. Sometimes I will apply their insights and reasonings to my own. But as a general and even more, as a specific rule, I want to argue my point from what I perceive to be the correct Biblical interpretation as a leading from the Holy Ghost as He is the one sent to guide me into the Truth of the matter.

    Here is the Biblical basis for what I mean:

    Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
    Joh 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
    Joh 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

    The issue of Calvin and the council of Dordt and the Remonstrants, it seems to me, is to be beating a dead horse that won’t ride.

    We have at hand, the Kingdom, the Holy Ghost, the Word of God in a variety of Translations and languages and a dying world where there are many souls wanting.

    I see your point here: “….The purpose of this blog is to examine what those dead theologians said in light of Scripture, and I don’t agree completely with any theologian, alive or dead….”

    Me too!

    I do not see your point here though: “…. Contrary to your claims, however, it does seem that you have been heavily influenced by Calvinist thought. I could be wrong about that, or maybe you don’t even realize how much Calvinists have influenced your thinking….”

    My thinking and what I know about Calvin’s is gulfed by a great distance. His intelligence and mine are nowhere equal on any level. He rose up a few centuries ago. I am here now just a mere 55 years old. I am not particularly well educated, though I have been to college and have had extense Ministerial training. I do not live to read Calvin or any of the reformers of that era so I just find it hard to believe your observation that I am being influenced by his way of thinking.

    My way of thinking comes from a lot of Bible study. I meet daily with the men of my Church and have for over thirty years. And we are constantly studying the Bible and the left meanings with the right meanings. We are continually examining the abstracts with the down to earth applications of God’s Word. What can I say? I certainly cannot say in here that what you attribute to my way of thinking is his way as a compliment seeing the animous towards John Calvin in the majority opinions that come into the combox in this blog! 🙂

  63. Dan,

    see my response to Ben. If you have anything further and Ben permits, please address it and I will respond in kind.

  64. Michael said: “I am not particularly well educated, though I have been to college and have had extense Ministerial training…”

    And

    “I meet daily with the men of my Church and have for over thirty years.”

    Someone does not need to have read Calvin’s works to be influenced by Calvinism’s doctrines. The source of the Calvinist influence is possibly found in your above statements.
    What kind of college did you attend and what kind of influences were there in the “Ministerial training”? Also what is the doctrinal stance of your church and the men you meet with?

    I know someone who strenuously denies any association with Calvinism and denies any Calvinist influence in his doctrine; yet he has an almost fan-like admiration of Spurgeon.
    Many today could rightly claim to have never personally studied Calvin, and yet their biggest influence is Piper.

    One of the biggest hindrances in the Christian life today is putting a greater reliance on the teaching of others than we put in the ability and willingness of the Holy Spirit to teach us PERSONALLY from the scriptures.
    That is not to say we take an isolated approach to our faith, we need to meet with other Spirit led believers and share our discoveries. This process allows the Holy Spirit to confirm or correct the things we have learned for ourselves. The Spirit does not teach contradictory things to different people so it is necessary to check our own understanding against that of other trustworthy believers.
    And not that I said “trustworthy” and “Spirit led” believers. I did not say theologian led believers.

  65. Onesimus, can I call you God’s bondslave?

    If you want to understand my thinking just scroll up and see the difference in what contextually is my view from Ben’s on Revelation 22.

    My college days were more sex and drugs during the late 60’s and early 70’s. I was a dramatic arts major and minored in music.

    I studied in a ‘School of Ministry conducted by my mentor and have been a part of one ministry my entire adult life. We have been church planters and book writers. We have been as large as about 40k members and now not so large.

    I am not sure what our discipline is other than we are like the noble Bereans and do not take an interpretation at face value until we are of one mind on it. When it does not line up with Scripture, but just another opinion, depending on who it is giving the opinion determines the weight we will lend to it.

    We rebuke, instruct, reproof and exhort with all longsuffering. We are not partial when it comes to the poor or rich.

    If you do not confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, well, you will not be saved.

    I can best sum up my understanding of Faith this way:

    2Ti 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
    2Ti 3:13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
    2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it
    2Ti 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
    2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
    2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

    and

    2Ti 4:14 Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
    2Ti 4:15 Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.
    2Ti 4:16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!
    2Ti 4:17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
    2Ti 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

    finally this way too:

    2Ti 2:24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
    2Ti 2:25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
    2Ti 2:26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

    So, as others that were before me and those coming on strong after me in this Ministry, this is the “charge”:

    1Ti 6:11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.
    1Ti 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
    1Ti 6:13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,
    1Ti 6:14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    1Ti 6:15 which he will display at the proper time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
    1Ti 6:16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

  66. Michael said:
    “If you want to understand my thinking just scroll up and see the difference in what contextually is my view from Ben’s on Revelation 22.”
    ——–

    Michael, too much controversy is created by focusing too much on PARTS of scripture. Unfortunately this kind of focus is the most common approach to scripture today and has been for centuries. It is regularly demonstrated in the pulpit when the preacher announces the “text” he will be preaching upon (and thereafter uses a single verse to springboard into whatever matter he has chosen to address).
    Scripture was not written in chapter and verse. It was not divided into theological “sound-bites” to be used to promote a chosen belief or point of view.

    From the context of Revelation 22 it is clear that it is Jesus’ coming (His future return) that is being written about throughout: “Behold, I am coming soon”. Then in verse 17 it switches from Jesus’ own promise of His return to the Holy Spirit and the bride (believers) responding to the promise with an anticipatory cry of “come” directed towards the Lord Himself. Then in the second part of the verse the invitation is switched and directed towards the “thirsty” and to “whoever wishes” to partake in the salvation that is only available through Jesus.

    Too many people interpret an individual portion of scripture and then project that interpretation into their understanding of the whole of scripture. I have seen it noted somewhere recently that John Piper has done this with Romans 9 (as do many Calvinists). Instead of interpreting Romans 9 according to the revelation God has given of Himself through the WHOLE of scripture; their understanding of God’s revelation of Himself is interpreted according to their personal understanding of Romans 9 which is then projected upon the whole of scripture.

    Before we attempt to mine the deeper truths of individual sections of scripture, we need to get a basic grasp of the WHOLE of scripture: how the different parts relate to each other and how God’s character and purposes are SHOWN in practical example throughout scripture’s historical and prophetic narrative. Throughout the Bible God shows us what He is like and how He relates to humanity. Any doctrinal assumptions that contradict what God clearly shows us in this way are dangerously flawed.

    Traditional church systems have propagated an approach to scripture that concentrates on isolated “texts”. Most church going people are “taught” through regular lectures based on isolated “texts”, as they sit passively in front of an ‘authority” figure who has been trained to be their interpreter of scripture. It is a dangerous self-perpetuating system as the majority of the congregation abdicate all personal responsibility and leave their spiritual welfare in the hands of the “ordained minister”.
    If ALL of those professing to be Christians took more responsibility and did not rely entirely on sermons for their understanding of their faith; there would be far less argument based on the teachings of dead theologians. Arminian/Calvinist debates would become a minority issue. All serious doctrinal disagreements come through differences of opinion regarding MAN’S teachings – the Holy Spirit is not the source of contradictory beliefs so maybe it would be a good idea if we trusted Him more and dead theologians less.
    The difficulty of course is that we have ALL been influenced in some way by this system and it is often hard to determine which of our beliefs are genuinely consistent with scripture, and which are based on theological assumptions we have been taught about scripture.

  67. Onesimus,

    thanks for the kindness in your words.

    I would highlight the point you were making because you made it so much better than me! I mean to say that that I laid out to Ben about Revelation 22 and the “work” of the Bride, you say well.

    You wrote:

    “….Then in the second part of the verse the invitation is switched and directed towards the “thirsty” and to “whoever wishes” to partake in the salvation that is only available through Jesus….”

    That is my point exactly.

    The Head functions through the Body, the Church, the Bride, not the other way around.

    The one “fact” of all of History is this that many if not all at some point in their participation in Him have believed that Jesus was coming back in their lifetime.

    At least in the early Church I suppose that reality could have been enhanced by these Words of Jesus Himself:

    Mat 16:27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
    Mat 16:28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

    While granted, this lifetime I am living and you are living could be that time King David and others wrote about, Peter and Paul, Jude and so forth, the soon coming of Jesus is “soon” and is at hand and it seems to me that that idea has become a stumbling block within the Church and neutered the Word so it is not being proclaimed to the souls wanting and dying in this present evil world. The work of the Ministry is not being done as Paul the Apostle did it, giving over the “whole” Counsel of God to souls wanting.

    Act 20:26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you,
    Act 20:27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

    Instead, it is as you so eloquently describe above. It is sad.

    Again, we sharpen one another by the Word not the opinion of the Word.

    But the dichotomy is that without expression of one’s opinion one never knows that the Word is Known as it ought to be known. We should labor to rightly divide the Word not squabble over opinions.

    I do not what to hear these Words of the Groom:

    Mat 7:23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    Paul laid out some sound instructions as I have referred to above from his epistles to Timothy about how I live His Faith in me and not my faith in me in this world. I am sanctified and I am not living of this world anymore, only in it.

    In any event, whether or not you meant to establish and underscore the point I was making about Revelation 22 and that the Spirit and the Bride say “Come”, you did. My focus was on the “Bride’s” Work, seeing in every generation gone by, they did not see His return, instead there has been a bogging down on the day and hour of His return all the while the souls wanting were in need of the Bride doing Her work in the world, this:::>

    Rom 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
    Rom 8:17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
    Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
    Rom 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
    Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
    Rom 8:21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
    Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
    Rom 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
    Rom 8:24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?
    Rom 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

    So I would say that in a much fuller sense, when the Bride, waiting patiently for Her Groom, if She is out and about teaching patience to others as verse 25 implies, our “Voice” will sound so much more inviting than it has gotten to be these days. Look at what is happening in the world instead of Peace on earth. We have Church members all up in arms with one another fighting battles with each other instead of what She is suppose to be doing which is this as Paul so eloquently develops it here at Ephesians 3::::>

    Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,
    Eph 3:9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
    Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
    Eph 3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,
    Eph 3:12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

    When we are truly suppose to wrestling with rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, we are not. When we are to be patiently enduring one another both within the Church and without, we are not.

    I am convinced and believe the promise to me that in my lifetime, at least, I shall know what has been spoken and promised in Scripture; one and hopefully two things.

    And those things are these, the one for sure and hopefully the other with it:

    Heb 10:12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
    Heb 10:13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
    Heb 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

    Seeing I too am a member of His “Bride” calling “come”, this promise is for me and my household, my family! We shall see our enemies made a footstool for our feet!

    Here is the second thing also that is my hope and prayer to see done:

    Rom 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
    Rom 16:18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
    Rom 16:19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.
    Rom 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

  68. Michael it was not my intention to support anyone’s view regarding their interpretation and application of Rev 22 and I’m not sure that what I said in anyway supports your interpretation. It’s a common practice to read more into scripture than was intended by the writer.
    I see no intention by the writer to illustrate any role to be played by the church. The whole section related to Jesus’ return. It gave His promise and it described the anticipation of both the Holy Spirit and the bride (they both cry out “come” to Jesus and not to anyone else) .
    The latter part of verse 17 is the writer’s invitation to the thirsty and to “whoever wishes” to come and partake in the salvation made available through Jesus.

    In saying that I do not deny that believers have responsibilities that we have often ignored. In fact some theologies DENY that responsibility.
    We have been given a part to play in God’s salvation plan and that role is depicted in various places in the NT. However, I do not see that this section of scripture is one of those places.

  69. Onesimus,

    Here’s my bridge over the troubled waters and I do understand you cautionary note.

    Here, at this point, Peter, in his experience thus far, had seen enough over the top miracles by Jesus, had several encounters, three, with God Our Heavenly Father, “hearing” His voice from Heaven, something few had, Moses comes to mind and the Children of Israel, walked on water and sank and Christ with herculian strength one handed lifts him out all the while standing on the same water he is sinking into, saw the feeding of thousands, literally thousands of people fed with fish and loaves, saw the dead raised, cripples made whole and so on during a short span of three years, then sees Him beaten and marred beyond recognition and then buried after death and then the grave is empty and he then has a first class breakfast for many by the Sea of Galilee clearly after being raised from the dead, writes this:

    2Pe 3:11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
    2Pe 3:12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

    The Church, the Bride, the Body of Christ Whom God Our Heavenly Father, by His Own Hand, conjoins and reanimates us already dead in our own sins and trespasses, sinners like you and me, to Christ, Who is and has been Risen a couple of centuries now, seated at His Righteous Right Hand, waits for God Our Heavenly Father to do two things, and we too, waiting, waiting with Him, all our Christian lifetime, for God to put our enemies under our feet and crush Satan’s head, and return for His Prize, should not sit silent waiting. We can enjoy the ride of our lifetime by, with the Holy Ghost as our Truth Guide, do what He is doing, calling out to the world of wanting souls, “COME” out of darkness and turn to His Light!

    That was what Paul was saying here:

    Act 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
    Act 26:14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
    Act 26:15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
    Act 26:16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
    Act 26:17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles–to whom I am sending you
    Act 26:18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
    Act 26:19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,

    That there folks is not some passive, crossed legged, eyes closed idiot sitting on pounds of locus petals chanting olm!

    The Holy Christian Church is to engage the rulers and authorities in heavenly places, be on the offensive and attack, attack, attack, hasting the coming of the day of the Lord as She goes about doing Heavenly business!

    I could go into other aspects of this from Genesis to the verse in question, but of course Ben would not allow it!

    Anyway, I appreciate your exchange of thoughts and ideas from Scripture with me.

  70. Hello Blen,

    You set out some clear, simple, fair and reasonable guidelines for “natamllc”/Michael to follow. He has now written three posts making the exact same mistakes with the same problems that his posts always manifest.

    And look over his posts, what do they have to do with the topic at hand? They are confused and tangential and irrelevant and a waste of time to respond to. The lists of scripture texts that are taken out of context and used to “prove” points continues. Ben this really needs to end. It is annoying to have to see this happen over and over and over again and wade through these long and irrelevant and tangential posts by “Natamllc”/Michael. And as always it all diverts from the topic which is again your masterful refutation of Hays on the 1 Corinthians passage and your spot on discussion of the nature of temptation as a clear proof of libertarian free will.

    Robert

    PS – I agree with Arminian about the format set up, if you can go back to the way it was I believe that would be better.

  71. Michael,

    I apologize if I have offended you. That was not my intention. It seems clear to me that you have been influenced by Calvinist thinking, whether through someone teaching it, things you have read, blogs you have visited, etc. You seem to say that is not the case, that any Calvinistic leanings or doctrinal agreement comes from a simple, unbiased reading of Scripture. I find that hard to believe based on the language and arguments you often use, which are standard C, and come from elaborating on C theology, rather than just expounding on basic Biblical principles. I base this on numerous posts I have read from you both here and at other blogs (especially Dan’s blog). If I am wrong about that, then I sincerely apologize, but I can only go by what I observe.

    You have gone through great pains to make Rev. 22:17 say something it doesn’t. Like I mentioned before, you could have found another passage right in Revelation that would have made your point quite well, but Rev. 22:17 will not give you what you want, no matter how hard you squeeze it, or how many other passages you reference to try to support your view. It is simply not there.

    Maybe this is why Calvinism is appealing to you (I don’t know), since Calvinism often ignores context and language in order to make a verse say something it doesn’t (as was evidenced in this post concerning 1 Cor. 10:13).

    At any rate, I can’t read your heart so I could be totally wrong. Only you and God know the truth, but I was just going on the evidence, and at least one other person saw the same things, so I know I am not way of base in coming to those conclusions (even if they are wrong).

    I do want this discussion to end since it is not related to the post, and is taking us further and further away from the subject matter of the post. I also need to know that you agree to abide by the rules I have asked you to follow, and I would remind you to review them carefully before commenting further on this blog. Thank you.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  72. To all commenters,

    I am trying to figure out how to disable the new “reply” format. So far I haven’t been able to figure it out. Until then I would just ask everyone to not use “reply” when responding, but just write their responses in the reply window as normal so that the comments continue to appear at the bottom of the page.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  73. Ben

    accept my apologies as well.

    I thought it was ok to respond to Onesimus? Was that an error in judgment from where you sit?

  74. Michael,

    It was fine to respond to Onesimus. I just don’t want the discussion to continue any further at this point since it seems unproductive and is not related to the OP. Do you agree to abide to the rules I outlined for future posting?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  75. yes,

    when I error, reproofs are in order. I am not perfect and do not want you to expect me to be!

    I will comment from my point of view not another’s. So, with your help, if I am personnally attacked as I was by Robert above, I would respect and expect some relief by way of admonition to the accuser and attacked.

    I have not been misleading or dishonest.

    And you should at a minimum deal with that that is already out in the open with regard to his attack and accusation.

    He will continue to do it if you don’t.

  76. Michael,

    I didn’t think I was reproving you. I didn’t really think you were being rude to anybody and I don’t remember saying anything like that. I only asked you to make your posts relevant and focused to the topic of the post. It seems to me that you already told Robert what you thought of how he responded to you, and I didn’t have a problem with what you said, nor did I say anything about it.

    If you have a problem with him making suggestions to me, or making comments about your posts that are not directed to you personally, I suspect that has to do with him not wanting to get into a discussion with you for the reasons he mentioned before.

    Robert,

    I think it is clear that Michael finds it offensive when you talk about him to others in the thread without being willing to address him and interact with him personally (and I can certainly understand how that could come across as disrespectful and offensive). Therefore, I think you need to respect his feelings in that matter and speak directly to him if you want to say anything else about him.

    Thanks,
    Ben

  77. Thank you Ben.

    I appreciate your integrity.

  78. Michael,

    In regard to your long posts:

    I find them tangential and difficult to follow, and I think Robert and Ben have tried to express this to you. I feel that others would be more willing to engage you if your posts were much shorter and stayed on point, at least as we perceive that point to be. I also think (I don’t say this to be mean) that you struggle with grammar that makes your long posts exhausting to read. Here is an example from one of your posts in response to Onesimus. You begin by saying:

    Onesimus,

    “Here’s my bridge over the troubled waters and I do understand you cautionary note.

    Here, at this point, Peter, in his experience thus far, had seen enough over the top miracles by Jesus, had several encounters, three, with God Our Heavenly Father, “hearing” His voice from Heaven, something few had, Moses comes to mind and the Children of Israel, walked on water and sank and Christ with herculian strength one handed…”

    Now, Michael, when you state “Here’s my bridge over the troubled waters” your use of “my” in front of “bridge” and your use of “the” in front of “troubled waters” implies some context of reference that has already been established about which readers are already aware. But in fact no context has been established (so far as I can determine), and so as a reader I cannot really know what you are referring to by “my bridge” and “the troubled waters.” What readers tend to do is to read on when they are confused, hoping something in the next phrase or clause will clarify their confusion. But in fact I only became more confused as I read further into your post. For you begin your next sentence with: “Here, at this point, Peter, in his experience thus far,” and again, readers have no idea where “Here” is, nor “at this point” nor “thus far,” since there are so many points in Peter’s life to which you might be referring. In other words, the word “this” in “this point,” according to the rules of grammar, must reference something “here” or “thus far.” But I see no statement about Peter relevant to what you are presently in the midst of saying, or any general context to what “here” or “this point” can refer. I even checked your last post to see if by “here” you meant something in your last post, but I saw nothing of Peter that could be considered germane to how you were now using “Peter” in the above response to Onesimus. Nor did I see anything in Onesimus’s posts about “Peter” to which you might be referring. Now, incidentally, when I say (in effect) that the rules of grammar must reference something evident, I mean that an indefinite pronoun, such as “this,” needs a referenced framework if readers are going to understand what you mean. I’m guessing that by “here” and “this point” and “thus far” you are referring to what you are ABOUT TO SAY, not what you are saying, or what you or Onesimus have already said. Your way of stating this is ungrammatical, because you are using words against the way they are normally used in everyday language. Incidentally, the so-called “rules” of grammar are merely the principles that have developed from an understanding that a communication break-down is likely to occur if the “rules” are not followed.

    Also (regarding grammar), your subordinate phrase “walked on water” comes after you mention Moses and the Children of Israel, not Peter. This is another instance that slows the reader down, as he tries to make sense of what you’re saying. Eventually, I realized you were talking about Peter, not Moses or the Children of Israel, but it took me longer than you might imagine, because the Children of Israel went through the Sea of Reeds, and so I had to wonder if your “walked on water” was perhaps some figure of speech referencing the journey of the Children of Israel through the Sea. Of course, as I read on, I decided the subordinate phrase “walked on water” referred not to a noun in the preceding clause (which would have been according to the normal rules of language) but to Peter in the clause two clauses previously. But, at this point in my reading, the amount of time I had to spend in the first few sentences of your post discouraged me from really reading on. This is why grammar is so important if you want your written statements to be read and understood. Readers cannot be expected to expend more effort in deciphering another person’s writing than what they would expect others to do if the situation were reversed, ESPECIALLY if what they are reading is antipathetic to how they feel about the matter at hand.

    I went through a lot of formal education, Michael, but even years after having been a Ph.D. student in art history I realized I needed help with my writing. In particular I had to study comma use. But as I studied a book on grammar I realized I had much more to learn besides just comma use. I too have had problems with being tangential, and sometimes I still make this type of mistake. For some reason I never understood grammar very well in high school, and my high school did not stress it. But my writing is generally better now, in part because I took the time to learn about my deficiencies as a writer. Of course, I am still not a perfect writer, but I HAVE improved. And I think my readers now have an easier time understanding me.

    No one here is asking you to be a perfect writer, Michael. I have an adult relative with a learning disability who frequently sends me letters, and understandably this person cannot put a long sentence together without making grammar mistakes that even a 2nd grader would not commit. (This person cannot help it.) This person might write “move” when “movie” is meant, and so forth. Obviously, you do not have such an elementary problem as this, for the general intelligence you display in your posts suggests to me that you have the ability to improve your grammar and the flow of your thoughts. Will you do this for our sakes? Perhaps you could begin by getting a short book about grammar and writing style. I own 2 or 3 such books myself. Such books are available in bookstores or online at used bookseller sites, such as Alibris.com, or Abebooks.com. I personally feel that this should be a priority for you, since you obviously enjoy expressing your thoughts. I would suggest an actual bookstore where you could peruse the book before buying it. I find that some are easier to understand than others.

    So what am I saying? Just this: most people, myself included, have made the effort of self-improvement in order to better communicate our ideas. Again, no one is expecting you to be perfect. But since some of us are having trouble reading your posts–even if we eventually get the gist and theological direction of them–you may wish to consider my suggestion about the kind of improvement in grammar I am confident you can make.

  79. Hey Michael, sorry for the delay in answering your question. I believe that the scriptures earnestly warn the saints against falling away, and that their warnings are to be taken seriously, not as idle threats or absurd impossibilities.

  80. JC

    amen!

    persevere!

    I have gained great encouragement in these verses when considering earnestly the warning to the Saints against falling away:::>

    Rom 15:1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
    Rom 15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
    Rom 15:3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
    Rom 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
    Rom 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
    Rom 15:6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Rom 15:7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
    Rom 15:8 For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs,
    Rom 15:9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”
    Rom 15:10 And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”
    Rom 15:11 And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”
    Rom 15:12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”
    Rom 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

    And then these too::::>

    Heb 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
    Heb 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

    Thanks for your belated response in any event! 🙂

  81. ‘Natamllc”/Michael,

    You just did it again. Over and over people tell you not to just post long lists of bible verses without explanation which are supposedly dealing with the topic at hand. Ben gave you guidelines which you continlue not to follow. Daniel nicely suggested that perhaps your problem is insufficient grasp of English grammar. You seem to just do the same things over and over again. Multiple people have now given you suggestions which you are not listening to. The problems of your posts make it not worth our time to interact with you. Clean up the problems and perhaps others will interact with you more.

    Robert

  82. […] my response, I pointed out that Steve had really painted himself into a tight spot in insisting (with some very […]

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