Enjoying The Good News Of Christ’s Birth From An Arminian Perspective

Below is a re-post of an older Christmas post.  I will be away from the computer till Dec. 28th.  If you leave a comment and have never posted here before I will not be able to approve it until I come back.  Likewise, I won’t be able to respond to any new comments until I come back.  I pray that all of you will have a wonderful Christmas!

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Calvinists often argue that God’s love has failed if Christ’s atonement was made for all and yet not all are saved. I find it strange that Calvinists, who are so quick to criticize Arminians for holding to a man centered religion, argue that unless man responds to God’s love in saving faith, then His love for them has somehow failed. How is it that they feel comfortable equating the success or failure of God’s love with man’s response to that love? Is the nature or validity of God’s love dependant on man’s response? Doesn’t that seem a little man centered?

I personally believe that God loves and gives according to the goodness of His nature and that His love for mankind would in no way be diminished if every single person on the planet rejected that love. The cross is so much more beautiful to me when I consider that Christ willingly laid down His life even for those who would forever reject Him. I cannot think of a more powerful demonstration of perfect love. That most of mankind rejects that love and provision cannot diminish its significance in the slightest.

In the same way the incarnation demonstrates the love and humility of an amazing God.

As Paul so beautifully wrote:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8 )

What an amazing story that God would leave His throne and become a man out of love for a fallen race. Paul tells us that our attitude should reflect Christ’s humility and love. Does that mean that if someone does not return our love that we have somehow failed to emulate our Redeemer? Of course not! And neither is Christ’s love rendered void when a sinner rejects His gracious and loving provision.

An angel of the Lord appeared to some lowly shepherds on that greatest of days and said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.”

Did you hear that? Good news of great joy for all people! What does that mean to you? How could such a message be true in light of Calvinism? How could Christ’s coming possibly be good news of great joy to one who has been denied any part in Christ’s atoning work by way of an irrevocable decree? Does it really make sense to suggest that the angel only meant, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for relatively few unconditionally elect people from among all the people of the world”?

I am so glad that I don’t have to understand the angel’s proclamation in such a strange way. How good it is to remember at this holiday season that Christ’s coming was intended to bring joy to all of mankind because all of mankind was loved by God in Christ. The Lord came not for a few but for all just as His love extends to all. That so many reject that love is a tragedy, but they forfeit the joy that could be theirs of their own accord. That so many reject that good news takes nothing from the joy and goodness of the message. If, however, that message of good news and great joy was not intended for them, then the joyous message of the Lord’s angel rings hollow at best.

How good it is this Christmas season to rejoice in Christ’s birth from an Arminian perspective. May God use us to share the good news with someone this Christmas season. I hope you will feel the freedom to say to any sinner, without constraint, that Christ’s coming is truly good news for them.

God Bless and Merry Christmas!

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56 Responses

  1. Kangaroodort,

    I must admit that I never have understood that of Calvinism either about how the word world and all men and such get retranslated into “the elect”.

    Maybe it sounds weird, but that’s not really why I wrote, I really just wanted to say that I just love all of your kangaroo pictures.

    While I’m chatting, I would also like to say that I appreciate the Christian spirit that I’ve seen you display when addressing the comments left. Keep it up, God bless, and Merry Christmas!

  2. Hi Racael,

    Thanks for the kind comments. Do you mind if I ask how you found the blog? I hope you will stop by again sometime.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  3. Kangaroodort,

    Maybe it was the kangaroos, maybe it was predestined…or maybe I was referred to your site by someone who has been studying soteriology and the Calvinist debate. 🙂 Anyway, great site! God bless!
    Rachael

  4. Rachael,

    I think I will opt for “predestined” 🙂

    Merry Christmas,
    Ben

  5. I stumbled onto this site linked from another and must say I really like it as well. I appreciated immediately the kind spirit I saw which has a sort of holding power towards those who wish to gently and lovingly explore sometimes difficult if not brain-sizzling topics of genuine import.

  6. I suspect the Calvinist would focus on the angels singing in Luke 2:14

    Interestingly, the NIV and the ESV have an interpretation that seems on first glance to be different than the KJV, and more friendly to a Calvinistic interpretation. Any thoughts on that?

    Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.(NIV)

    Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!(ESV)

    Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (KJV)

    -Kevin

  7. Simple, Calvinism is true.

  8. We can rejoice in the confidence that everyone we share Crist with at Christmas, and everyone missionaries all over the world will share Jesus with at this time, will all have the story of the incarnation and His sacrifice as a bone fide offer to them personally.

    Oh the limitless love of Jesus Christ expressed in His limitless atonement!

  9. I really enjoyed this post. Great stuff Kangeroodort.

    ICXC JNORM888

  10. If Gods love was for every person in the world, and He really want to save them all, if He only lost one of them, then He is an impotent savior and untrustworthy.
    His love has no depth and no strength!
    The Bible says “love never fails” (NEVER) 1 Cor. 13:8

    Your savior looks like a water-shy Father of which his little girl whom he loves, fell into a raging river. He was standing on the embankment and throwing a hoop to the girl and said, grab it and you will be safe.
    However the little girl could not grab the hoop and died.

    Then the Father said, I loved you so much and I did all I could, but you would not grab the hoop!

    Sounds pathetic! Doesn’t it?

  11. Thanks for clanging the cymbal Paul.

  12. I must admit, that I do not yet fully understand ‘Prevenient Grace’.
    I can’t help to see that the ‘Prevenient’ of the Grace is just like the hoop of the drowning child.
    Perhaps there might also be a thing called ‘Prevenient Love’?

  13. C’mon guys… Paul is right… We all know that a real savior shows forth real love when the Father so lovingly hits his little girl in her head and then tosses her unconscious body into the white water of a roaring river only to watch her as she struggles against the current being beaten and battered by the rocks beneath the surface and then when he finally decides to, he reaches in and saves her only to tell her that had he decided not to save her she would have gotten what she deserved, because even though he hit her in the head and tossed her in and she could make no decision whatsoever to reach out and accept his saving hand, it was still her fault for drowning in the first place because her will was free with only one decision to choose from.

    Sounds un-pathetic, doesn’t it?

    :^P

    Nick

  14. Nick;
    Not bad!
    You seemingly don’t know that there are two Fathers, one is the devil the other the Lord Jesus Christ.
    The Lord Jesus is the omnipotent Father who throws ALL, His and the devils children into the raging river and all will die.
    But to confound the wise, Jesus the all powerful savior leapt into the raging river and searches only for HIS children, lifts them out of the water and sets them on solid ground, gives them a new life (born again) and cares for them for ever and ever and they shall never perish.

    Remember, Jesus loves (His children) with an everlasting love!
    Just like Grace, ‘Unconditional’.
    With no attachment to love or grace!

    Whether they had a free will or the power to choose is not relevant.
    We all know the answer to that.

  15. Pizza man,

    I suspect the Calvinist would focus on the angels singing in Luke 2:14

    Perhaps they would focus on this verse, but that does not change what was said in verse 10. I believe that Luke 2:14 compliments verse 10 and does nothing to help the Calvinist position. I am not sure why you think it would.

    Are you concerned about the “on whom his favor rests” part? It seems to me that the angels are merely expressing that Christ has come as an expression of love toward a fallen race [e.g. John 3:16]. There is no contextual reason to think that this statement could only apply to the elect. Even if we prefer the translation: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!“(ESV-emphasis mine), there is no support for the Calvinist here.

    The elect are sinners under God’s wrath until they put faith in Jesus Christ. It would be out of harmony with Scripture to believe that God is speaking of the elect as those in whom He is well pleased in such a manner.

    It makes better sense to understand this passage as a declaration of love and favor towards a sinful race in need of a Savior.

    Young’s literal translates the passage:

    ‘Glory in the highest to God, and upon earth peace, among men — good will.’

    The Son’s coming was an act of love and good will towards a sinful race in desperate need of a Savior. There is nothing in these passages that would limit that act of love to an unconditionally elect few.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  16. Paul g,

    You can find God’s universal love in the 145 Pslam.

    Pslam chapter 145:8-13 NIV

    “8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. 9 The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10 All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. 11 They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might,
    12 so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.”
    13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.”

    and verse 17

    “17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.”

    But even if you don’t want to use the NIV. The NASB says

    “9The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.”

    and

    “15The eyes of all look to You,
    And You give them their food in due time. 16You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds.”

    JNORM888

  17. JNORM,

    Are you a universalist?

  18. Thanks for your thoughts Ben. I found a link with some background on the interpretation of Luke 2:14. The author agrees with your view.

    http://members.aol.com/basfawlty/luke2_14.htm

    -Kevin

  19. the only one that can draw comfort from these verses are universalists.

  20. Jnorm888;
    Gods love is not a universal love.
    Gods love is an elected agape love and the power of His love is in election!
    Think of it like the love of a woman who loves every other man just like you! That love means not much to you, but if she loves you alone by the exclusion of all other men, that would mean that you are special to her, and that love has power, you know what I mean!

    In Psalm 145:8-13
    In all those verses I can see election or (elected agape love).

    Perhaps because I am wearing
    election glasses!
    You should try them once! With them you can see the glory and majesty of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

    As it is with every doctrine, ‘Election must stand’. Rom. 9:11
    If election is not present in a doctrine, then that doctrine is wrong.

  21. Ben;
    Luke 2:10 Do you think that King Herod had great joy to hear that a King and savior was born?
    I doubt that all without exception would have great joy.

    Verse 14 Then I can conclude that “on whom his favor rests”, that there are two groups, on the one His favor rests (elect) and the other not (non elect).
    There again election stands!

    Or do I miss something here?
    I know you wear different glasses than I, and seemingly they do not fit my head.

  22. Paulg,

    You wrote:

    Luke 2:10 Do you think that King Herod had great joy to hear that a King and savior was born?
    I doubt that all without exception would have great joy.

    No he did not, but that was due to his own rejection and not some eternal decree. Did you read the post? Maybe you missed it when I wrote:

    That so many reject that love is a tragedy, but they forfeit the joy that could be theirs of their own accord. That so many reject that good news takes nothing from the joy and goodness of the message. If, however, that message of good news and great joy was not intended for them, then the joyous message of the Lord’s angel rings hollow at best.

    You wrote:

    Verse 14 Then I can conclude that “on whom his favor rests”, that there are two groups, on the one His favor rests (elect) and the other not (non elect).
    There again election stands!

    That would be a case of reading your theology into the text.

    Or do I miss something here?
    I know you wear different glasses than I, and seemingly they do not fit my head.

    You have missed a lot. At least you admit that you interpret these texts according to your theological “glasses”.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  23. Anonymous,

    You wrote:

    the only one that can draw comfort from these verses are universalists.

    Care to defend that statement?

  24. Pizzaman,

    Thanks for the link. It was very helpful.

  25. Paul said, “Gods love is not a universal love.

    Yes, it is, according to John 3:16. Psalm 145 given by JNorm is another great one. There are more examples, but these are enough for now.

    Paul said, “Gods love is an elected agape love and the power of His love is in election!

    It’s that, too, but there is a universal love for all men. That is not to say that all men will be saved. The power comes through belief. One is elected upon belief.

    Paul said, “Think of it like the love of a woman who loves every other man just like you! That love means not much to you, but if she loves you alone by the exclusion of all other men, that would mean that you are special to her, and that love has power, you know what I mean!

    It’s not that that love means not much to me; rather, it means that my acceptance of that love allows the love to BE powerful and special from everlasting to everlasting.

    Paul said, “Perhaps because I am wearing election glasses! You should try them once! With them you can see the glory and majesty of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.

    I’ve tried them, but realized that I had to overlook the vast majority of scripture to hold to the Calvinist view and I’m not willing to throw out ONE jot or tittle. I see the glory and majesty of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ just fine by taking God at His word.

  26. Anonymous said, “the only one that can draw comfort from these verses are universalists.

    Like Kangaroodort, I would love to hear your defense of that statement.

  27. I’ve tried them, but realized that I had to overlook the vast majority of scripture to hold to the Calvinist view and I’m not willing to throw out ONE jot or tittle. I see the glory and majesty of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ just fine by taking God at His word.

    Amen!!! Well said!

  28. No, I am not a universalist, but I know that God’s love is for everything He has made.

    I’m a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy so I can’t be a universalist. That was declared a heresy around the 6th century. …or a century close to that.

    INLOVE JNORM888

  29. Paul g,

    Psalm 145 includes

    “”15The eyes of all look to You,
    And You give them their food in due time. 16You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing. 17The LORD is righteous in all His ways And kind in all His deeds.”

    This love is a generic love for all He has made.

    Mathew talks about God allowing the Sun shine on both the wicked and righteous.

    God lets it rain on both the righteous and wicked.

    There is a “Universal” Love of God or else God is not OMNI-Benevolent.

    JNORM888

  30. I suggest this entire blog read “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God,” by D.A. Carson.

    Quick read.
    Good theology.

  31. “Simple, Calvinism is true.” Calvinism asserts that their god decrees certain men to sin and never repent and then he damns them for doing exactly what he decreed them to do. Since their god damns people for doing exactly what he decreed for them to do, he proves himself untrustworthy. If Calvinism is true, then god cannot be trusted. So then, who’s to say that Calvin’s god will not damn BOTH the non-elect AND the elect? If he were real, he would do exactly that, because damning people brings him more glory as Calvinism constantly affirms concerning his damning of infants.

    But I thank God that God is God and not your god, because if God were your god then he would not be God. And I thank God that he loves all men and is not willing that any should perish (as Peter says in 2nd Peter 3) but is longsuffering giving all a chance to repent, as Paul also teaches in all his epistles (but especially in Romans 9 which is not about determinism but about how God’s longsuffering is salvation because it gives us time to repent, as Peter inspiredly interprets it in 2nd Peter 3:9-16). I thank God for his not being a jerk like the god of Calvinism, but for being loving and compassionate, and I would to God that he would cause your god to cease to be worshiped so that I will not have to hear another Calvinist ever again trying to convince me that infants are damned for Adam’s sin.

  32. What amazes me quite frankly, johnnyly, tommyly, dickly, is, you claim that Jesus is the Christ, your Christ, by whom you are saved from the wrath to come and yet so claiming allegiance to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, you won’t accept His explanation, a simple Truth about creatures, about the wheat and weeds?

    Here are some excerpts:

    Mat 13:24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field,
    Mat 13:25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.
    Mat 13:26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also.

    Now Jesus, My Jesus, and presumably yours, explains in simple terms “who” the wheat are and “who” the weeds are and “Who/who” created them:

    Mat 13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.”

    Mat 13:38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one,

    So, once again, go ahead and tell us that Jesus died for the salvation of the sons of the evil one.

  33. Good post. What an awesome God we have who would give His one and only Son to die for us and for us to have the freedom to celebrate His birth. I love Christmas because it reminds me of God’s gift for ALL (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:1-6; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:1-2).

  34. Micheal,

    If exhaustive determinism is true, how did the weeds get sown in the first place?

  35. Michael,

    I am a little confused. This parable is not dealing with atonement. It is dealing with the fact that God is not willing to remove evil from the world at this time and will eventually reap a harvest from among the wicked in the world. Yet you want to set this against numerous clear Scriptures which speak directly to the issue of God’s love for the world, desire to save all, and universal atonement. Really? We should interpret those passages in light of this parable which is not even addressing those issues?

    There is no doubt that God is ultimately responsible for the salvation of anyone (the sons of the kingdom). No one can save themselves and only the blood of Christ can save sinners. So God is truly the One who sows the good seed. Yet there is nothing in this parable to discount our response to God’s work in us or our ability to reject and resist that work.

    There is also no doubt that Satan is to some degree responsible for the destruction of the wicked. He was the one who tempted Eve in the garden which led to the fall of man (and the corruption of all mankind). He is the one who works against what God desires to do in the world and brings many to destruction who yield to His lies rather than to the truth of God (1 Peter 5:8, 9; James 4:7-19). So it is not strange for God to speak of those who perish as those who were sown of the enemy (Satan) and are His sons. Anyone who rejects Christ aligns himself with Satan (John 8; 1 John 3:10) and can be said to be his son in that respect (just as those who disobey are called the sons of disobedience, Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6). But one can only reject what is being offered and according to you Christ and His atonement was never offered to those who reject Him nor provided for them. Yet God condemns them for that rejection (1 Jn. 5:10-12; John 3:36)?

    So if you want to push this parable as far as you have then you need to explain what you mean by saying Satan “created” the tares. Would you go beyond how I have explained it above? If so, I am anxious to hear what you mean. Do you mean that God did not create them but Satan did? That is strange theology and certainly conflicts with other clear passages of Scripture (nevermind the fact that the parable says nothing of Satan “creating” the tares). But since we need to interpret other clear passages of Scripture by the details of this parable (according to you), then I guess we need to throw out those passages which say Christ created all things and through Him all things were created. Right?

    And if Calvinism is true then God is the one who really sowed the tares as Kevin pointed out (and according to Calvinism God controls every thought and action of Satan as well), so you have much to resolve. I look forward to it.

    So, once again, go ahead and tell us that Jesus died for the salvation of the sons of the evil one.

    How about I just let Scripture tell the story:

    “You see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” Rom. 5:6

    So were the wheat always wheat or did they begin as tares? Perhaps we should be careful not to push it too far consdering we were all wicked children of wrath prior to conversion (Eph. 2:1-3; 5:8 Col. 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 6:9-11). And maybe we should accept the clear teaching of these passages and recognize that Jesus never intended to teach in this parable what you have suggested here.

    “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.”
    Rom. 5:18

    “Dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense- Jesus Christ, the Righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 Jn. 2:1, 2, cf. 1 Jn. 5:19, “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

    “This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men– the testimony given in its proper time.” 1 Tim. 2:3-6

    “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Heb. 2:9

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” Jn. 3:16, 17

    “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.” 1 John 4:14

    “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51

    This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those that believe.” 1 Tim. 4:10

    So yeah, if you don’t mind, I will continue to say that Jesus died for all, including those who would ultimately reject Him, according to the clear testimony of Scripture.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  36. See also Kevin’s recent post on who Christ died for here.

  37. Dear Ben,

    Would you agree that God condemns men for their sins, not just for rejection of His Son?

    Also, perhaps you are tired but it’s not like you to string some verses together and say that you have proved the point. Surely you see that all those verses have other interpretations that do not jive with your interpretation.

    For example, look at one verse that you provided-

    Dear children, I write to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense- Jesus Christ, the Righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1,2

    Would you say that Jesus Christ, the Righteous one, speaks to the Father for ALL; I fear that you do not think to highly of our great High Priest.

    Grace & Peace

  38. Mitch,

    Would you agree that God condemns men for their sins, not just for rejection of His Son?

    I would say that God condemns men for their sins and their unbelief but primarily because of their unbelief since they reject the forgiveness that could be theirs. So their unbelief and rejection of Christ is the reason why they will suffer condemnation for all of their sins. Look at 1 John 5:10-12,

    “The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because He has not believed the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.” (vs. 10)

    The one who rejects the testimony of God concerning His Son has made Him out to be a liar. The “testimony” is that eternal life is available in the Son,

    “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” (verse 11)

    To reject this is to make God out to be a liar. But if the ones who do not believe the testimony concerning God’s Son (verse 9) are those that God never intended to save (i.e. give eternal life to) and in fact made no provision for their salvation, then to reject the testimony would actually be to reject a lie since there never was any life in the Son provided or intended for them. The fact that God condemns people for their rejection of Christ is big, big trouble for Calvinism and limited atonement.

    Also, perhaps you are tired but it’s not like you to string some verses together and say that you have proved the point. Surely you see that all those verses have other interpretations that do not jive with your interpretation.

    I am almost always tired. Thanks for the concern. The point is that these passages clearly say that God loved the world, desires to save all, and died for all. That is the exact language being used in those passages and they address those exact issues. So if one takes a parable to contradict those passages when the parable is not even addressing the issue, then that betrays a backwards and dangerous hermeneutic, one that I think is rather typical among Calvinists.

    And of course I am aware of “alternative” interpretations that have been offered by Calvinists for the above passages, but I find them laughable (in fact, the exegetical contortions of those who try to defend limited atonement are one of the strongest arguments for the truth of unlimited atonement IMO). If you want to read some articles which address the issue in more detail feel free to click on any of the links on the right side bar under “Articles on Atonement.” Especially interesting are those by four point Calvinists who recognize the weakness of the Calvinist arguments and the overwhelming Scriptural evidence for unlimited atonement. Enjoy.

    Would you say that Jesus Christ, the Righteous one, speaks to the Father for ALL; I fear that you do not think to highly of our great High Priest.

    Oh boy. It seems quite obvious to me that John is speaking to believers when he speaks of Christ as advocate (“Dear children”) which would then correlate to “atoning sacrifice for our sins”. All of that addresses believers. But then John is quick to add that atonement is also made for “the whole world” which makes reference to “unbelievers” and there is no reason to think that what John applies specifically to believers (“we have an advocate”) refers to unbelievers. We can conclude that the atonement extends to unbelievers because John specifically tells us so, but he does not say any such thing with regards to the advocacy of Christ. Honestly, to me, this serves as a perfect illustration of the strained attempts by Calvinists to empty passages like this of their obvious meaning.

    If I came across as a little harsh I apologize. You can chalk it up to me tired 😉

    God Bless,
    Ben

  39. Dear Ben,

    I tried in vain to read harshness into what you wrote; alas I could not find any. I will take it that what you call ”alternative interpretations” could equally apply to you:)

    If I understand you properly what you say is that Christ sacrificed himself for all and then when he goes before the Father he only intercedes for some. I will try to find an example in the OT where the high priest made a sacrifice for all people, Israelites, and then only advocating/interceding for some. I will try to keep you posted on my findings.

    If nothing else may our Lord give you some additional rest this season.

    Grace & Peace

  40. Not wanting to, so I am a bit handicapped, I have not taken the time to do an indepth scholarly work of either Calvinism or Arminianism.

    I have been walking in the Truth for many years and study Scripture.

    I am not one to debate in the sense of strive with you Ben.

    I will lay out my understanding for you and your bloggers to judge.

    That is only right and fair. I will do my utmost to be respectful. And if I come across as disrespectful, please ablige me and say so so I can apologize.

    You wrote this:::> “….So if you want to push this parable as far as you have then you need to explain what you mean by saying Satan “created” the tares….”

    Ben, no I did not. Go back and reread what I wrote. You will not find one time or place where I wrote that I “mean” Satan created the tares.

    As for interpretation, I do lean towards what seems to me logical and reasonable. Arminianism is not the direction I am leaning towards, as if you needed me to acknowledge that? 🙂

    I will lay out an understanding of some Scriptures. This is my interpretation of them. I may have done this before in here. If I have, pardon the redundancy.

    Jesus when dealing with folks who were hard of hearing and dull, said this:::>

    Joh 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
    Joh 16:8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
    Joh 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;
    Joh 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;
    Joh 16:11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
    Joh 16:12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

    I want to make only two points, succinctly and clearly, I hope. We shall see.

    I have lived in the land of my nativity all my life. I left for schooling in another part of the state for several years and came back to my home town afterwards. I entered into the Ministry at the age of 21 and have been actively engaged since then. I am now 55.

    Over the years I have received summons to the court house to do my civic duty and sit on juries.

    I have been seated five times, four times in the box and one time in the alternate box. One case was dismissed because the defendant decided to take a plea deal and plead guilty to some lessor charges. Afterwards, he was sentenced and served time in prison.

    Three times I went the distance and got to go into jury deliberations and each time we found the defendant guilty as charged to all counts. All three of these trials were murder trials.

    The last one I did not have to go to the jury box, just had to go through the entire trial as a alternate. That jury found that defendant guilty as charged as well.

    I have been excused for various reasons from serving on a jury a number of times. Most of the time, they had picked the jury and didn’t need me.

    When you read these words of Jesus:::>Joh 16:9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; do you interpret it the same way I do?

    Here is my interpretation, these folks are the folks who do not believe they are in need of a savior because they have done nothing wrong.

    When you read these words of Jesus:::>Joh 16:10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;

    These folks are like me, who accept that I am a sinner, that nothing good that I have ever done even comes close to being considered on par with the Righteousness of Christ and His finished work for my Salvation.

    When you read these words of Jesus:::>Joh 16:11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

    You certainly have already addressed it above that you believe there is a ruler of this world and he is the devil, the prince of demons and all who follow after him, which includes all those folks being identified in verse 9 by Jesus, yes?

    I have read and now believe that Arminians believe they “play” a part in the Salvation of their souls, that is, it is Jesus and His Work plus the Arminian’s free will and that alone saves them making them “righteous” before God and worthy to enter into the Joy of the Lord.

    Am I wrong here?

    I have read that total depravity means total depravity no matter how much I want to agree with God, my agreement with God means nothing. My salvation is a total one hundred percent equitable deed done on my behalf and I am notified of the successful outcome.

    I posit only two Scriptures in defense of that position:

    Tit 3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
    Tit 3:2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
    Tit 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
    Tit 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
    Tit 3:5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
    Tit 3:6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
    Tit 3:7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

    and

    1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
    1Pe 1:4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
    1Pe 1:5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

    So, in conclusion, those folks who “do not believe”, John 16:9 are people who take the position that they have some righteousness about them that makes the offer of Grace unacceptable. To accept Grace one must have already understood that that means they don’t deserve it, no matter how righteous they are.

    For one to “believe” as those in John 16:10, one would have to have an understanding of Grace to receive the “Gift” of Righteousness. And if it is a “Gift”, it cannot be under any interpretation, a gift plus some little bit of work I do, as in exercise my free will.

    So, boldly I proclaim, Salvation is a work done to me and not a work I do with Christ.

    He chose me. He first loved me.

    I am with Jesus here:::>

    Mat 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
    Mat 16:16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
    Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

    Now that God has made me alive in Christ, I do agree with the teachings of Paul that there is an “obedience” to the Faith that saves me:::>

    Rom 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
    Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–
    Rom 16:27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

  41. Michael,

    I don’t have time to address everything you wrote right now but did want to address this comment:

    Ben, no I did not. Go back and reread what I wrote. You will not find one time or place where I wrote that I “mean” Satan created the tares.

    Here is what you wrote that led me to believe you were suggesting Satan created the tares just as you were suggesting Jesus created the wheat:

    Now Jesus, My Jesus, and presumably yours, explains in simple terms “who” the wheat are and “who” the weeds are and “Who/who” created them:

    Do you see that, “Who/who” created them” part? That sure seems to me like you are saying Jesus (“Who”) created the wheat and Satan (“who”) created the tares. Care to explain?

    Thanks,
    Ben

  42. Hello Ben,

    Great response to Michael/natamllc, you presented the unlimited atonement verses and completely refuted natamllc. I noticed he made absolutely no attempt to respond to the verses or what you wrote, he merely changed the subject. In his evasion he wrote:

    “For one to “believe” as those in John 16:10, one would have to have an understanding of Grace to receive the “Gift” of Righteousness. And if it is a “Gift”, it cannot be under any interpretation, a gift plus some little bit of work I do, as in exercise my free will.
    So, boldly I proclaim, Salvation is a work done to me and not a work I do with Christ.”

    Here is a major problem with many proponents of calvinism/exhaustive determinism. It is true that God must reveal Himself to us or we could never be saved (we cannot save ourselves). It is true that the Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us (apart from the work of the Spirit no one could be saved). But mere understanding of these things is not enough (“the demons also believe, and shudder” James 2:19: the demons understand some things but they do not have faith): we must choose to trust in Christ for salvation (“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” Acts 16:31). We must receive Christ in order to be saved (“But as many as received Him to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” Jn. 1:12).

    This choice to trust, this choice to receive Christ, ****is**** an “exercise of our free will. We are not forced to make this choice, we can make the choice we can also choose not to trust in Christ for salvation. Either way we are making a choice, the choice is something that WE DO.

    We have to make that choice to trust to be saved. SO WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. And yet the bible is absolutely clear in ***distinguishing*** faith from works (faith according to the bible is something that we do and yet is not considered a “work”). Our act of trusting in Christ, our faith is NOT A WORK according to the bible. But it is something ***we*** must do to be saved. Salvation does not just happen to you, like getting zapped by lightning. No, salvation involves entering into a personal relationship with God through faith and then living by faith daily (“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” Col. 2:6). We make that choice, we trust, and it is God who declares a person righteous, who justifies people, not we ourselves. If you describe faith as “some little bit of work I do” you misunderstand and even misrepresent the bible’s teachings on faith and salvation. When you state that “Salvation is a work done to me and not a work I do with Christ” you leave out faith. We are not saved through works, but we ****are**** saved through faith. And that faith is a choice, an action that we do, in response to the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Robert

  43. Michael,

    I think Robert addressed your concerns very well but I want to add/clarify a few things.

    As Robert said faith is never described in Scripture as a “work” except for Christ’s statement in John, but no one sees that statement as an affirmation that faith is a “work” of merit that “earns” or “deserves” salvation. To the contrary, Paul tells us in Rom. 4 (especially 4:4-9) that faith is not a work because it merely receives a free gift from God. Works “earn” (or attempt to earn) and faith/trust simply “receives” that which we cannot earn and that which we do not deserve (which is why salvation by grace depends on its being received by faith, cf. Rom. 4:16). The idea that “work” means “anything we do” (including believe) is simply not a biblical definition. It is a 16th century definition that has been read into biblical theology.

    It is also important to remember that faith is not really part of salvation. Salvation is a monergistic work of God. God alone can justify, regenerate, and sanctify the believer. God alone was able to provide atonement for lost sinners. The believer cannot do these things for himself which is why faith merely receives the free gift of God’s salvation, but it is still entirely God’s salvation. While salvation is monergistic, faith is synergistic, only so far as God must enable us to believe and faith is our genuine response to God’s drawing and enablement. But faith contributes nothing to salvation. It only receives it from the hand of God which is why all boasting is excluded. If someone gave you a free gift that you did not deserve and could not earn would you conclude that you deserved, earned, or gave the gift to yourself by simply receiving it? That would be absurd and it is just this sort of absurdity which seems to be the basis of your entire argument.

    You may not agree with any of this but at least you should be able to see why Arminians find such argumentation to unbiblical and far from convincing.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  44. Mitch,

    I will try to find an example in the OT where the high priest made a sacrifice for all people, Israelites, and then only advocating/interceding for some. I will try to keep you posted on my findings.

    Perhaps you should focus on the reality instead of the shadow; the fullfilment instead of the type. The writer of Hebrews does that and concludes (with the rest of the NT writers) that Jesus died for all,

    “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Heb. 2:9

    Even so, there are parallels with the OT that support unlimited atonement as well (including the function of the priesthood) and one of them was explained by Christ Himself in John 3. He compared His sacrifice with the provision of the bronze snake in the wilderness (vss. 14, 15). While the provision was made for all and available for all, only those who looked to the snake received healing. Likewise, only those who look to the lifted up Messiah will receive the provision of atonement that has been given to the world (vss. 14-17). For more on that see here:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/category/john-3/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  45. Ben

    Who=God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost

    who=me and you, Adam’s fallen race. We are the ones who have sinned and falle short of the Glory of “Who”.

    Oh, by the way, in Jesus’ explanation, from His point of view, the wheat grows, matures and bears fruit; and the weeds go on to grow to maturity and produce nothing. It wasn’t the Lord that was troubled by the weeds in the world, it was the ‘workers’ of the harvest at the end of the world. Those workers, it seems to me are the ones Jesus wanted to do nothing about the weeds lest they damage the wheat.

    Where the devils, the beast, the false prophet, Satan, Death, Hades and those whose name is not found in the book of Life, fit into this “Jesus explanation” seems to be in another league than where we find ourselves, mine or yours.

    Let me ask you Ben, are you monergistic or synergistic?

  46. Dear Ben,

    No big surprise but I do not see why Hebrews 2:9 is a problem for limited atonement. I understand that you take pas to mean all that have/are and/or will ever live, but I do not see it that way.

    Thank you for your gracious advice to focus on reality instead of the shadow and I will try to do that. I fail to understand how Jesus propitiated the sins of everyone and some still be damned. He either did or he didn’t.

    Perhaps it would help me understand you better if I asked if you believe in substitutionary atonement?

    Grace & Peace

  47. Can anyone here check my Greek for me? A little off topic I know but I can’t find any place to help me specifically with Colossians 2:13.

    “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

    The point I wish to make here is this: regeneration does not precede faith. Faith comes first, and then through faith we are justified and then once justified we are regenerated. I stated that the phrase “having forgiven” means that we were made alive together with Christ (what I would assume is regeneration because the word alive, signifying new life in the Spirit) but only after we were first forgiven of our sins. Justification is the process by which we are forgiven and declared righteous by God.

    The word “having forgiven” comes from the Greek word ‘charisamenos’. It is an aorist (undefined) adverbial participle. What does all this mean?

    A participle in Greek is an “-ing” word. In the phrase “I was eating a sandwich” the word “eating” is a participle in Greek.

    The aorist tense means the word most likely happened in the past but more importantly the word is considered “undefined”. This “aorist adverbial participle” (slightly different from a common verb in the aorist tense) does not stress time; it is considered undefined. This means it is a summary of an event.

    Participles can either be categorized as “adverbial participles” or “adjectival participles”. In this case, “having forgiven” or “charisamenos” is an adverbial participle because it does not modify a noun or pronoun (as an adjectival participle does) but modifies the main verb (in this case, being “made alive”).

    Put it all together and this is what you get: God made us alive together with Christ “after” having forgiven us our sins.

    I highlight the word “after” because it is a key word. This word is often used with the aorist adverbial participle when translating. Key words are often used with Greek grammar such as when translating a noun in the dative case. A word in the dative case means that it is the indirect object. The key words when translating a word in the dative case are “in”, “to” or “with”. Without these key words (that are not present physically in the text but are implied) the sentence would not make sense in English. The word “after” can be inserted in this sentence (which is what “having forgiven” implies). The translation can be rendered as:

    …”He made you alive together with Him, after forgiving us all our transgressions…”

    Either translation is acceptable. “After forgiving” and “having forgiven” have the same meaning.

    A similar example in English would be:

    “I took the car in for repair, having checked it over to make sure it was not something I could fix myself.”

    OR

    “I took my car in for repair after checking it over to make sure it was not something I could fix myself.”

    In a similar fashion, “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven (after forgiving) us all our transgressions.”

    This makes sense whichever way you decide to translate it.

    Therefore, this verse states that we have been forgiven before we are made alive with Christ. Justification (that is, forgiveness of sins and being declared righteous) thus precedes regeneration. We are justified by faith (Romans 3:28) and this faith is not a work (Romans 4:4-5).

    That’s what I wrote. I have taken Greek and I’m continuing on in my studies (I only did half a semester before they booted me for lack of cash).

  48. Michael,

    I am still confused. You said, Who/who “created” the wheat and the tares. You now say that “who” is the fallen human race. Did you then mean to imply that we created ourselves? Here again is what you wrote:

    Now Jesus, My Jesus, and presumably yours, explains in simple terms “who” the wheat are and “who” the weeds are and “Who/who” created them.

    I look forward to you clearing this up further.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  49. Thank you for your gracious advice to focus on reality instead of the shadow and I will try to do that. I fail to understand how Jesus propitiated the sins of everyone and some still be damned. He either did or he didn’t.

    Perhaps it would help me understand you better if I asked if you believe in substitutionary atonement?

    I think this post will help to answer your questions:

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/provisional-atonement-part-1-dealing-with-john-owens-arminian-dilemma/

    God Bless,
    Ben

  50. BTW,

    Just stumbled onto this post which is extremely relevant to the conversation at hand:

    http://travelah.blogspot.com/2008/12/gospel-of-1st-corinthians-15.html

  51. Ben,

    the Who is God Our Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost:

    Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
    Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
    Gen 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

    The other “who” is everyone who came from the relations Adam and Eve had. Are there other “human” kind producing after “their kind” that came from another source other then from Adam and Eve having relations?

    Gen 2:23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
    Gen 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
    Gen 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

    God Bless
    michael

  52. Michael,

    Then I guess you would agree that we are all sons of Adam and all sons of disobedience/children of wrath prior to conversion. Only at conversion do we become children of God (John 1:12). So you can see that you are pressing the parable too far in trying to make it pertain to uncoditional election and work against an unlimited atonement.

    The parable is concerned with the present kingdom of God and the future fulfillment of that kingdom. Jesus is explaining how the kingdom can be present even among a world of wickedness and opposition and explaining that when the kingdom fully comes the wicked will be destroyed and the sons of the kingdom will shine like stars with no further hinderances.

    “So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. The Son of man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears let him hear.” (Matt. 40-43)

    The point of the parable is the ultimate triumph of the already present kingdom of God despite the fact that the kingdom is now hidden among a world of wickedness and opposition. It was not intended to give insight into the extant of the atonement nor of the exact origins of the “sons of the kingdom” or the “sons of the evil one”. And it is a very strained and unreliable hermeneutic that looks to cloud the very clear teachings of the passages I quoted above (in my first response) on the basis of a parable that wasn’t even concerned with such issues.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  53. John,

    That is an excellent observation concerning Col. 2:13. I believe that you are right that it is describing regeneration being preceded by justification/forgiveness. We see the same thing being expressed in Col. 2:9-12:

    “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. (see also Rom. 6:4)”

    We are “raised up” with Him “through faith”. This is speaking of a spiritual resurrection (regeneration) and that resurrection comes by faith in the working (power) of God. Only in Christ are we raised to new life and only in Christ are our hearts renewed (circumcised). And the Scriptures are clear that we come to be in union with Christ through faith. By faith we are joined to Christ (Eph. 1:13) and by faith Christ dwells in our hearts (Eph. 3:17). All spiritual blessings reside in Christ (including forgiveness, regeneration, adoption, and election- Eph. 1:3-7) and we partake of those blessings only after being united to Him. For more on this see here and here.

    As far as your understanding of the Greek it seems accurate. I took Hebrew in college rather than Greek so I am not the best person to ask (though I have spent some time studying Greek grammar). Perhaps someone with more experience in Greek will see fit to comment. In either case the context alone makes the case for the priority of faith in the ordo salutis.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  54. Mitch,

    I will try to find an example in the OT where the high priest made a sacrifice for all people, Israelites, and then only advocating/interceding for some.

    It must be remembered that the sacrifices in the OT made atonement for the sins of the people generally, and that exceptions could exist among those who did not remain in a right covenant relationship with God.

    “And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever. (1 Samuel 3:14)

    In other words, the atoning sacrifices were made for those of Israel remaining in covenant with God, those ‘cut off’ were necessarily excepted from the general atonement made for the nation. Likewise Christ’s propitiation is offered for the sins of all, yet those who do not believe will not receive its benefit nor Christ’s intercession, which Christ may grant or revoke.

    “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

  55. Merry Christmas! 😀

  56. Merry Christmas, Rex!

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