Does Jesus Teach Unconditional Eternal Security in John 10:27-29?

Having examined the primary passages that teach apostasy we now examine the passages that the advocates of unconditional eternal security believe clearly support their doctrine:

John 10:27-29

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

The first thing that needs to be noted is that there is nothing in this passage to suggest that the security being described by Christ is unconditional.  This is one of the greatest weaknesses of the Calvinist position.  One will look in vain for a passage of Scripture that explicitly makes salvation security unconditional.  The best that can be produced are passages which do not explicitly state a condition, but the absence of a stated condition does not necessitate the absence of a condition (e.g. Hebrews 13:5, cf. Deut. 31:6, 8, 16-18; 2 Chronicles 15:2; Joshua 24:19, 20). This is especially true since there are numerous passages which do state conditions and warn of defection from saving faith (as we have seen in parts 2-11 of this series).

In the case of John 10:27 we can even argue that a condition is stated, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  The verbs “listen” and “follow” are present active indicative in the Greek describing continual action.  The “sheep” are characterized by their “listening” to and “following” of Christ.  They are the listening and following ones, and only those who are listening and following can rightly be called Christ’s “sheep” and lay claim to the promises stated in John 10:28 and 29.  In other words, the sheep are believers who are presently believing.  It is to these believers alone that the promises are made.  Surely, those who are listening to and following Christ are secure in His arms and cannot be snatched out.  They also possess the eternal life that resides in Christ since they are in union with Him by faith (vs. 28).  There is nothing in the passage, however, to suggest that the sheep can never stop “listening” or “following” and no promise given for those who might indeed cease to do so.  The passage is only speaking of those who are presently listening and following.  It is a powerful promise to believers that as long as they are believing they are secure in Christ.  F. Leroy Forlines comments on this security in The Quest For Truth:

The teaching is simply this:  The believer’s relationship with God is a personal one between him and God.  Though all the powers of the universe were to combine against the believer, they could not take the believer away from God.  Some would add, ‘Neither can the believer take himself out of the body of Christ.’  Yes, that is true.  But, it is also true that he could not place himself into the body of Christ.  However, upon his faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit placed the believer into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).  If the believer renounces his faith, God will take him out (Jn. 15:2, 6).  There is no contradiction between the statements ‘No man can take us out of Christ’ and the statement ‘God the Father takes those people out of Christ who turn from Christ in unbelief.’ (pg. 275)

The passage does not state that faith cannot be renounced nor does it state that any such promise of security is given to unbelievers.  The promise of security in Christ described in John 10:27-29 is for believers who continue to believe and for them only.  The question then becomes, “Can believers cease to believe?”  The answer to that question cannot be resolved in John 10:27-29 and for that reason it fails as a proof text for inevitable perseverance.

Special Contextual Considerations for John 10:27-29

The Calvinist might object that verse 25 is not in harmony with the above interpretation due to the fact that Jesus tells the Jews that they do not believe because they are not His sheep.  It could be argued that verse 25 refers to a predetermined and unconditional election:  The sheep are those who were elected by God prior to creation and then given faith to believe in Christ.  The problem with this suggestion is that there is nothing in the text to indicate that Jesus is describing a pre-temporal election of certain individuals for salvation.  Such an eternal decree must be first assumed and then read into the text.

A more plausible interpretation is to understand Jesus’ words in John 10:27-29 in the context of the unique historical situation taking place at the time of His ministry with regards to the transition from the old dispensation to the new.  The passage has a secondary application to believers of all ages (as described above) but the primary application concerned only the Jews who were alive during Christ’s ministry and were specifically being addressed in this and other similar chapters in John (John 5:24-27; 6:37, 40-44, 65; 8:12-59).  The “sheep” in this context are the Jews who are currently living in right covenant relationship with the Father during the time of Jesus’ ministry.  The Jews that Jesus is addressing in this discourse and others like it throughout John’s gospel are not in right relationship with the Father during the time of Christ’s ministry.  Since they do not know the Father (are not “of God”) they cannot recognize the perfect revelation of the Father in the Son (Jn. 7:16, 17; 8:19, 42-47).  They reject the Son and refuse to trust in Him because they have rejected the Father.  Therefore, they are not Christ’s sheep and cannot be given to the Son (John 6:37).  If they had known the Father they would have recognized the Son as their Messiah and would have been given to Him.

So the primary application still addresses the issue of faith but not in the same way as we would tend to apply it today since our situation is different from that of the Jews and we are not living at a critical time in history where the faithful Jews were being given, by the Father, to their Shepherd and Messiah.  For them it primarily involved the transition from one sphere of believing (in the Father) to another (in the Son).  Those faithful Jews recognized the Father in the Son and as a result listened to Him and followed Him as their long awaited Messiah.  In either case the “sheep” are those who are “listening” and “following” and the passage gives no indication that one cannot cease to be one of Christ’s sheep by later refusing to listen and follow.

From: Perseverance of the Saints Part 12: Examining Passages Commonly Appealed to by the Advocates of Unconditional Eternal Security

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33 Responses

  1. Great post Ben. I think the calvinist would try to attempt to leave this passage and go to Romans 3 and say something like “none seek for God” , and try to read it into John 10. They would say since none seek for God, John 10 is stating what you are already mentioned, invididual unconditional election, and regeneration preceding faith. I agree with you that John 10 doesn’t support such notion, unless you read it into the text.

    Russ

  2. *One will look in vain for a passage of Scripture that explicitly makes salvation security unconditional.

    Would it be correct here to assume, you are of the belief our salvation security depends on us?

  3. Hey Jack I would point you to the following.
    Hebrew 3
    12Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

    Warning in verse 12, reason for the warning in verse 13. So to answer your question, our role would be to abide in the vine.

    Russ

  4. Russ,

    Thanks for the comment. You wrote,

    I think the calvinist would try to attempt to leave this passage and go to Romans 3 and say something like “none seek for God” , and try to read it into John 10. They would say since none seek for God, John 10 is stating what you are already mentioned, invididual unconditional election, and regeneration preceding faith.

    I don’t see how that could possibly be a defense against my interpretation. My interpretation does not deny that no one seeks God apart from God’s intervention. It only maintains that the Jews (and Gentiles) considered to be the “sheep” in this passage are primarily those who already had a relationship with the Father in the old dispensation/covenant. These were Jews who were true followers of God in contrast to the Jews Jesus is addressing who claim to know God, but are not in right relationship with Him (as evidenced by their failure to recognize the Father in the Person and words of the Son). Whether these sheep came to be in right covenant relationship with the Father apart from His gracious intervention isn’t really being addressed in this text; but as an Arminian I would say that anyone who comes to know God or Christ can do so only through the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit.

    However, there are clues throughout John that strongly support my interpretation. I will get more into that in a future post, but two should be quickly mentioned:

    “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:20, 21, NASB)

    If we interpret this as Calvinists (and some Arminians) do as a simple passage on depravity, we run into a serious problem. The text says that “whoever does what is true comes to the light”. Coming to the light, in this context, is coming to Christ, i.e., putting faith in Christ. So this text is saying that those who “practice truth” come to Christ. That doesn’t sound like a biblical description of someone who is depraved. Someone who is totally depraved in the Calvinist sense is not someone who can be characterized as “practicing truth.” But if John’s point is the same as being described in John 10 (as well as in John 5, 6, and 8) that those who know the Father come to Christ, and those who do not know the Father reject Christ, then this passage makes perfect sense. Another good one is John 7:17,

    “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.”

    Here we see this principle being plainly described by Christ. The one who truly wishes to do the will of the Father (i.e. truly knows the Father and thereby “practices truth”) will immediately recognize that Jesus is speaking the words of the Father. Such people will be given, by the Father, to the Shepherd as His sheep. They recognize His voice, listen to Him and follow Him, just as they followed the Father.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  5. Jack,

    It depends on us and God as faith and continuance in faith are synergistic. Our endurance in saving faith is only possible through God’s gracious empowering, but God does not endure in the faith for us, nor does He cause us to endure irresistibly. In other words, salvation and security in that salvation is “conditional” rather than “unconditional”, as the post explains. In addition to the verses Russ quoted, I would add the following:

    “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you… You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-11; 3:17, 18)

    The NIV has “…fall from your secure position” in 2 Peter 3:18. We are secure in Christ, but only as we continue to trust in Him. If we stop trusting (abiding), we will be “cut off”(John 15) and “fall from [our] secure position”. Numerous passages could be cited along these lines. The Bible everywhere testifies to our responsibility in continuing to trust in Christ and endure in the faith, etc. It takes some major scripture twisting and reading massively into numerous plain and simple texts in order to come to the conclusion that our continuance in faith has nothing to do with us.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  6. My original question was, “Would it be correct here to assume, you are of the belief our salvation security depends on us?”

    The answer I have received, I believe is that, our salvation security depends on both God and ourselves. Therefore my next question would be, will God always be faithful to do His part?

  7. Hi Ben,
    I never got around to tighten up my essay about the issue of eternal security, to send it to you. Nevertheless, here is most of the portion dealing with John 10:27-29. Much of this point critiques Henry Ironside’s classic treatment of the question.

    Question 7. In John 10:27-29 we read:

    27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

    Doesn’t this mean that no one, including ourselves, can take us out of God’s hand?

    Answer: In this passage Jesus defines His sheep as those who hear Him, know Him, and follow Him. Moreover, when Jesus states that “they shall never perish,” the verb “shall [never] perish” is in the middle subjunctive, i.e., “should (or ought) never to destroy themselves” (the middle voice means self-reflexive action). So here is the verse again (v. 28) with the incorporation of the subjunctive middle:

    28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they should not destroy themselves, neither will any man pluck them out of my hand.

    Tim Warner of pfrs.org offers the insight of how the subjunctive can relay the intent or purpose of the Father. (I might prefer the word desire instead of “intent”, lest any reader already biased by Calvinism assumes God’s “intent” would be done absent the consent of the object.) Though Warner is discussing John 6, not John 10, in the quote below, the presence of the Father and his desire for the sheep which He has given to the Son is nevertheless also apropos for John 10, since Christ also mentions the Father’s close involvement with the sheep in that chapter. Says Warner about the subjunctive phrase, “should lose nothing,” which expresses what the Father desires that His Son should do for the sheep He has given Him:

    “The purpose of the subjunctive mood is usually to imply some level of uncertainty, and generally represents the verbal action (or state) as uncertain but probable.” … This probability depends on certain objective factors or circumstances. Likewise, in the clause, “I should raise him up at the last day,” the verb translated “should raise up” is “anasthsw” — aorist active subjunctive. This is a statement, not of result, but of intent or purpose alone. Jesus communicated the Father’s desire that Jesus would eventually raise up all who saw Him and believed on Him. These verses do not state what absolutely WILL occur. Rather, Jesus relayed the wishes of the Father.”

    So then, John 10 in context shows that the matter of the sheep’s security is not all of the Father’s doing, since the sheep have the capability of destroying themselves (though, of course, that would be against the Father’s desire for them). This conclusion derived from the subjunctive middle is a natural one, since it allows for Choice—not just among the Persons of the Trinity but also among persons metaphored here as the sheep who both hear and follow the Shepherd.

    Yet, amazingly enough, Ironside, in his discussion of John 10:28, actually cites the middle voice but then immediately defines it in a way in which there is no real personal self extant capable of any reflexive action. Says Ironside:

    “The word “perish” is in the middle voice, so that if rendered literally in English, you would have to make two words of it, because we do not have a middle voice. The words “perish” and “destroy” are the same in Greek. “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never destroy themselves.” [Ironside then follows this with a story about how “sheep so easily destroy themselves.” He tells of being with some Indians once, when from a bridge a lamb was spotted on a ledge 50 feet down, on the way down to a 200 feet drop. It had managed to get down to the ledge to graze, but now was unable to return. Ironside and his party were unable to lasso it, and saw that the vultures already circling overhead spelled doom for the lamb. Ironside then concludes:] “That lamb was destroying himself. Jesus says, “My sheep will never destroy themselves. I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish”—in the middle voice, “never perish themselves.” Why not? Because they have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.”

    Observe that when Ironside quotes John 10:28, he omits altogether the subjunctive voice. Further, in his recapitulation he states: “My sheep will never destroy themselves.” This implies (or states) the phrase is in future active indicative, when in fact the Greek shows the matter to be aorist subjunctive middle! Then Ironside does note the middle voice, but continues to leave out any mention of the subjunctive, leaving the KJV’s “shall” to imply future certainty. [Note: all 12 English translations shown on BlueLetterBible.com have “shall” or “will” not perish, repeating the mistake in the KJV. However, I’m not sure the KJV itself is at fault, for perhaps “shall” was also taken to mean “should” in the early 17th century. Even if so, this does not excuse today’s translations, since our present language never understands “should” for “shall” or “will”. Such post-KJV translations show their stranglehold on tradition (or what is perceived as tradition).] Then Ironside concludes the paragraph by citing the middle voice but immediately denying its meaning, by saying that the sheep shall “never perish themselves” because they have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them—a totally Calvinistic conclusion endorsing irresistibility at the whole expense of human predication. Where, then, is the Middle Voice in all this explanation? For without human predication there can be no middle voice of the sheep. Compounding the error, Ironside claims in the next paragraph man is not a free moral agent but a captive of the devil, that is, until the gospel “comes to” him, so that he decides for Christ. Then, in yet another confusing conclusion to a paragraph, Ironside states:

    “[The gospel] is communicated to him, and now he is led captive in the chains of love to the Savior’s feet, and he does not want to be a free agent. He is glad to be a bondman, as Paul puts it, of Jesus Christ.”

    Thus Ironside completely misunderstands what is the believer’s ongoing choice to be a bondman for Christ, which is what gives the believer’s bondmanship any meaning. He concludes instead that bondmanship is actually the abdication of free will! Again, this is wholly a non-historical definition of free will. Why? Because, while a “bondman” or “slave” in the Roman culture of the New Testament era might indeed not have the freedom of geo-physical space as he would wish, that has nothing to do with a slave’s freedom of intention (will) . Indeed, a slave always has freedom of intention, which is why Paul has to urge Christian slaves not to be obedient only when they are watched by their masters, but at all times. And so the Calvinist-leaning hermeneutic that Ironside uses throughout his pamphlet is bogus, because it relies on the argument that Choice does not equal sentient being. This leads to predictable results. Thus at one point Ironside actually states that eternal security is made possible by the same argument that renders a man to be a sinner—by acts that are apart from one’s own individual predication. Hence the introduction by Ironside of the original sin argument:

    “…we were once in the place of death; we were once utterly lost and ruined. How did we get there? Follow me now. It was not by any act of our own. Do you say, “I did not get into the place of spiritual death by any act of my own?” No, you did not. Do you say, “I was not lost because of any act of my own?” No, you were not. But why were you numbered among the lost? Because you were born into the world a member of the old creation of which Adam the first was the head, and every child of Adam’s race comes into the world lost and is under sentence of death.”

    While Ironside makes some little concession toward a man’s “belief” in what is sometimes typical Evangelical doublethink, the whole balance of his argument is toward the irresistibility of God upon man:

    “You were lost because the head of the old creation failed, and you went down with him. You can never be lost unless the head of the new creation falls, and if He does you will go down with Him. But, thank God, He remains on the throne where God Himself has put Him, in token of His perfect satisfaction in the work He accomplished.”

    Needless to say, one looks in vain for how the subjunctive middle of John 10:28 would fit into a theology that says we cannot fail in our security “unless the head of the new creation falls,” the only contingent factor, apparently, informing Ironside’s understanding of the Middle Voice when the doctrine of eternal security is at stake.

  8. My original question was, “Would it be correct here to assume, you are of the belief our salvation security depends on us?”

    The answer I have received, I believe is that, our salvation security depends on both God and ourselves.

    There was more to the answer than that, but that is a fair summary.

    Therefore my next question would be, will God always be faithful to do His part?

    Yes.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  9. Thanks for the reply. My next question is then, if it is guaranteed that, God has done all toward our salvation security that depends on Him, and if it is also guaranteed that He will continue to be faithful in doing whatever else that may be involved on His part, to ensure the salvation security of all men. Would this not therefore mean that, not only our salvation security, but also our salvation is at this point, is totally and completely dependent on us?

    Example, I have went to a private christian school in our area and ensured that they would accept my son. Once I was assured of this, I paid his tuition completely in full. I then went to my son and informed him of what I had done. Therefore I told him, that at this point, where he went to school was now totally dependent on him.

    In the same way if God has done, and will continue to do all that depends on Him, then is it not the reality that it all now depends on us?

  10. In the same way, if God has done, and will continue to do all that depends on Him, then is it not the reality that it all now depends on us?

    I trust you’re not trying to “lead the witness” by using what some might charge is vague and manipulative phraseology. Or are you attempting to frame an opponent’s position through the conflating of terms? What “depends” on God versus what “depends” on us are hardly synonymous. For the “all” which pertains to God is the provision of manna from heaven (Christ), whereas the “all” that pertains to us is the mere eating (receiving) of that manna. Reception is not a work, however much Calvinists like to suppose it is. The discussion of Abraham in Romans 4 makes that plain. For the thing which would make improper boasting before God is not Abraham’s belief, but his works. And thus Abraham’s “belief” and “works” are shown to be mutually exclusive terms.

    If only such this simple argument would satisfy Calvinists. Instead, they proceed to argue that Abraham’s belief was only possible because of God’s irresistible drawing through regeneration of heart. Unfortunately, the historical meanings of words like “draw” and “regeneration” do not really support their case. But none of this matter to Calvinists, who continue their special pleading arguments. And thus they respond, “Oh, but I agree reception is not a work!” But we are already on our guard, knowing that what they mean by “reception” is not at all what the Bible means. For what the Bible means are those same meanings present in the historical eras which first encountered the biblical writings.

    Apparently, it’s not just American school kids who don’t want to learn the lessons of history.

  11. Thanks for the reply. My next question is then, if it is guaranteed that, God has done all toward our salvation security that depends on Him, and if it is also guaranteed that He will continue to be faithful in doing whatever else that may be involved on His part, to ensure the salvation security of all men. Would this not therefore mean that, not only our salvation security, but also our salvation is at this point, is totally and completely dependent on us?

    So we are dependent on God for the grace, ability and power to do what God requires of us to remain secure in Christ and yet you maintain that our security depends solely on us. I don’t think I need say anything more. The contradiction is self-evident. On the one hand you admit our dependence on God, and then you turn around and say that it depends entirely on us. What?

    Let me suggest that you grapple with what the word of God says concerning our responsibility in remaining in Christ and continuing in the faith rather than letting misguided philosophical objections dictate your thinking on salvation security. You have already been provided with several passages that say exactly what I have been saying. There is little need to elaborate. If the Bible says we have a responsibility to continue to trust in Christ as God enables and empowers us, why do you feel the need to object?

    Consider 1 Corinthians 10:13. That passage tells us that whenever we are tempted God provides a way of escape and makes it possible for us to endure the temptation without falling to it. Paul tells us that God is faithful to do this. You can count on Him. Yet, Christians still do fall to temptation and fail to make use of the way of escape. So, would you likewise say that our resisting temptation is entirely dependent on us? If we fall to temptation, whose fault is that? Is it God’s fault or our fault?

    Still further, Christ tells His disciples that they need to abide in Him and if they do not abide the Father will cut them off and they will whiter and die (spiritually). Christ also tells them that without Him they can do nothing. So they are dependent on Christ for the power and ability to remain in Him, and yet it is up to them to remain. That is basic to any relationship and our salvation is based on a genuine relationship with Christ.

    Example, I have went to a private christian school in our area and ensured that they would accept my son. Once I was assured of this, I paid his tuition completely in full. I then went to my son and informed him of what I had done. Therefore I told him, that at this point, where he went to school was now totally dependent on him.

    In the same way if God has done, and will continue to do all that depends on Him, then is it not the reality that it all now depends on us?

    Let me ask you this. Could your son then boast that he sent himself to college based on his choice of which college he went to? That would quite obviously be absurd. Yet that seems to be basis of your argument. Would his ability to go to college be entirely dependent on him? Of course not. He is entirely dependent on you. He simply needs to trust in you that you have taken care of his tuition and he can now choose to go to whatever institution he desires. That is quite similar to what the Bible teaches about salvation, except that the Bible says that even our ability to trust is dependent on God’s enabling.

    Now, if all you are trying to say is that the actual decision to trust in Christ (and continue to trust in Christ) is our decision and not God’s, then I have no problem with that. God enables our positive response, but He does not guarantee that response. The response is up to us. That is what it means when we say that God has made salvation conditional. This comports fully with all the Scriptures have to say about our saving relationship with Christ. Why would you have a problem with that?

    Let me remind you that I have really delved into this issue with you before and been quite clear in what is involved in our salvation and how our trusting in Christ for salvation is quite a different thing than earning salvation, according to the Scriptures (Rom. 4). You never really grappled with any of that, and now you are posting again on the same basic thing as if you didn’t read or think about anything I had previously written to you. That is why I mentioned before that dialoguing with you can seem frustrating.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  12. First let me state plainly; I am not a Calvinist. I believe Calvinism is in error, and can explain why I believe it to be in error. Secondly I am not attempting to lead the witness, rather what I am attempting, is to ask simple straight forward questions, with as few words as possible. The reason for this is because, I have found in the past, if you elaborate the question, the respondents may become focused on other points, and before you realize it, the conversation goes where you never intended, and the main question is never really dealt with.

    Therefore, please allow me to ask the question again using your terminology. If, “all” which pertains to God is the provision of manna from heaven (Christ), then is it not now totally dependent on us as to whether we receive this manna, or complain as did the Israelites? For the sake of making it simple: If God has been faithful to supply this manna which is Christ, (and I think we can agree Christ is our salvation) then would this not therefore mean our salvation is totally dependent on us, at this point, as to whether we receive Him? In other words the ball is now in our court.

  13. Jack,

    It is the way you are framing the question that is a problem. If your question is simply to ask if it is up to us to do our part, then the answer is yes. Our part is to believe and continue to believe as God enables us. That has been clearly explained from the beginning (and demonstrated from Scripture).

    You first asked if salvation security depended on us. The answer was that it depends on both us and God. If it depends on both us and God, then of course there is an aspect that depends on us. That is what it means to say something depends on “us” and “God”. Again, that has been clearly explained from the beginning. Your question then morphed from “does salvation security depend on us?” to “does the part of salvation security that depends on us depend on us?” as if that were the same question you asked initially. The answer to the second question is yes, but that is not what your original question was. So yeah, the part that depends on us depends on us. We are responsible for trusting as God enables us and continuing to trust as God enables us, and as we trust in Him we remain in Him and enjoy His salvation. Hope that clears things up.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  14. My above response was directed to danielgracely, when I posted it I had not yet seen, the posts by kangaroodort, so please allow me to respond to this. You state,

    * So we are dependent on God for the grace, ability and power to do what God requires of us to remain secure in Christ and yet you maintain that our security depends solely on us. I don’t think I need say anything more. The contradiction is self-evident. On the one hand you admit our dependence on God, and then you turn around and say that it depends entirely on us. What?

    If you will notice I stated

    In the same way if God has done, and will continue to do all that depends on Him, then is it not the reality that it all NOW depends on us?

    I am stressing the word now. In other words the question is simple, if God’s part is a guarantee, meaning His part has been done, and will be done without question, then it would seem to me the only question left would be our part. So then allow me to restate the question.

    Is our salvation, and salvation security, AT THIS POINT, totally dependent on us.

    While I appreciate all you have said in your last two posts, you seem to be answering questions I have not ask, or you are attempting to head me off where ever you think I am heading. I understand that there are questions that need more than a yes or no answer, therefore I am happy to hear explanation, however I am not sure the above question has been answered.

    As far as your point that, dialoguing, with me can seem frustrating, please do not feel as if you have to dialog with me, please just ignore, and I will get the message.

    Also I am not sure where the below came from but is not something I stated.

    So we are dependent on God for the grace, ability and power to do what God requires of us to remain secure in Christ and yet you maintain that our security depends solely on us. I don’t think I need say anything more. The contradiction is self-evident. On the one hand you admit our dependence on God, and then you turn around and say that it depends entirely on us. What?

  15. Jack,

    Maybe you haven’t yet seen my last post. You were probably working on this when I posted it. I think your questions have been answered more than once, you just don’t seem to be following those answers for some reason. I also explained why your questions have only added to confusion since you have actually changed your initial question while seemingly treating it as if it was the same question. It is OK to change your question so long as it is understood that your question has changed. The last comment you quote of me above here highlights that your follow-up question is very different from the first. The answer to the first was “both”, so it was being pointed out to you that if the answer is “both” then it is inaccurate to conclude from that what depends on both us and God actually depends on one person alone, as is explained further in my other post (which you have apparently not read yet).

    If you are still confused as to the answer to your second question (as to whether or not what depends on us depends on us), let me know. I would think the answer would be self-evident from the very beginning. It’s as if you are trying to get me to admit something that I have expressly claimed from the very beginning. Strange.

    Since I have answered your questions, how about you answer mine about 1 Corinthians 10:13, etc.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  16. In the same way if God has done, and will continue to do all that depends on Him, then is it not the reality that it all NOW depends on us?

    It is not the NOW that is the problem, it is the NOW and the ALL combined that is the problem and makes your question seem misleading. When you say “all”, that gets back to security in salvation. The “all” is the security in salvation that you first said “depended on us”. But that does not depend on us alone, but on us and God. Rather than “all” depending on us, it should be “part” depends on us, the part of trusting and continuing to trust (our part) as God enables us (His part, along with His promise to protect those who trust in Him as the post plainly explains). So again, yes, the part that depends on us depends on us. If you mean “does all of the part that depends on us depend on us?”, the answer is likewise “yes”, but that really doesn’t add anything, except confusion.

  17. Okay, believe it or not, I am not attempting to be frustrating. However I would like to ask this question now. You stated,

    it should be “part” depends on us, the part of trusting and continuing to trust (our part) as God enables us

    Does God enable all humanity to trust and continue to trust?

    *

  18. From the Niskor website comes the following description of the logical fallacy of division:

    Description of Division

    The fallacy of Division is committed when a person infers that what is true of a whole must also be true of its constituents and justification for that inference is not provided.
    There are two main variants of the general fallacy of Division:
    The first type of fallacy of Division is committed when 1) a person reasons that what is true of the whole must also be true of the parts and 2) the person fails to justify that inference with the required degree of evidence. More formally, the “reasoning” follows this sort of pattern:

    1. The whole, X, has properties A, B, C, etc.
    2. Therefore the parts of X have properties A, B, C, etc.

    In effect what Ben and I have been trying to explain is that your use of the terms “all” and “depends” commits this type of logical fallacy. And the word “NOW” doesn’t change your question fundamentally, since God’s salvation ONGOINGLY includes action on His part to affirm on a moment by moment that his Son IS (presently_ the only manna which saves. While part of God’s activity will not be repeated (i.e., Christ’s sacrifice), your emphasis on NOW creates yet another logical fallacy, namely, that of begging the question. For you have assumed God’s activity pertaining to the security of the believer is past, a conclusion not warranted from the evidence you present.

    As for your claim about not being a Calvinist, I would say that what looks like and walks like and quacks like a duck, is a duck; and that unless or until you give evidence that your contradictory use of language is at least not sympathetic to the spirit of Calvinism, I don’t know what else you could be.

  19. Wow, you guys really know how to get a conversation off track, and I really and truly hate to say this but, it seems to me, to be a tactic to divert the conversation. You have put me in a position, to attempt to defend myself, which is the one thing I was trying hard to avoid, by asking what I believe to be simple, honest, and earnest, questions. Now if you do not believe my questions, were simple, honest, or earnest, I will attempt to explain this when I give a defense against the Calvinist charge momentarily. However allow me to give you just one example, of where I would have to endeavor to defend myself against something I have not said or even inferred, and remember this is just one example, there are several others I have tried to ignore to keep the conversation on track. Daniel states,

    For you have assumed God’s activity pertaining to the security of the believer is past, a conclusion not warranted from the evidence you present.

    I have nowhere said, and I do not assume, God’s activity pertaining to the security of the believer is past. In fact the case is, I believe God’s activity continues throughout. Therefore why would I present evidence toward something I do not believe to be true? Again, this is just one example, I could give others but, as I said it only clouds, and diverts the conversation. And to be clear lets all remember I stated,

    In the same way if God has done, and will continue to do all that depends on Him,

    Notice here, I plainly stated, and will continue to do, (referring to God).

    Now to the DUCK. Let me assure you, this ain’t no DUCK. However I will grant to you that I would be sympathetic, in that, I can see where they are coming from. In fact it is seems funny that, I thought of that same exact phrase, (I may be sympathetic towards Calvinists) on my way to work today. However being sympathetic, does not mean that I cannot see, what I believe to be errors. I have never referred to myself as a Calvinist, because of the errors I believe, I see.

    Having said this, let me say, I have been in a mighty theological struggle over the last few months. Now this is nothing new, because when I finish this struggle, I am sure there will be another to replace it. In this particular struggle, I had come to the conclusion that I might not ever come to a resolution. However with God’s help I believe that I may be close, and I thought that maybe the questions I posed, might bring me to this resolution.

  20. Jack,

    I think I’ll grant you the point that you nowhere stated God’s activity was past; so I apologize for that. However, I still suspect you are committing the logical fallacy of division. For you seem to be hinting that God alone is predicative, and so your inclusion of “man” into the discussion would seem to ultimately lead to a conflation of the two. In this case, “both” (God and man) would share the properties A, B, & C, of the whole, X (God). And yet, if you follow the Calvinist practice of doublethink, you would deny this conflation. And so, if doublethink is not the logical fallacy of division, I seek the name for whatever logical fallacy describes doublethink.

    And so my ongoing concern is whether you believe and confess man a predicative being, or, like John Piper, believe man is not “ultimately predicative.” I’m left to infer, because you haven’t been particularly forthcoming in detail here about your view. I realize you said earlier your comments were sparing because you didn’t want responses that dealt with only a part of what you said, while not addressing your main thought. But, conversely, it seems your continued allusions are resulting in the opposite problem. They are too veiled to expect pinpoint responses, since you hint at issues which (to me at least) remain murky.

    And yet I suspect they arise from your betimes sympathy with Calvinism. So a word of caution. While God gives us the ability to think, he never produces what we think. If He did the latter, “we” would only be an extension of the Divine Mind. And, of course, that is not the case. And so there is the form (ability) of thought, which God provides, and the content of thought, which we provide. If you don’t maintain these distinctions, you will conflate God and man. That’s what Calvinists do.

    In the sense, then, that we provide the content of our thoughts, thought = individuated, sentient being. I know no other basis of maintaining the Creator/creature distinction other than this. And I have yet to see a dedicated Calvinist properly explain on what other basis individuated, sentient being can exist. Sadly, the idea that “He is God; and I am me” has no place in Calvinism.

  21. Okay, believe it or not, I am not attempting to be frustrating. However I would like to ask this question now. You stated,

    it should be “part” depends on us, the part of trusting and continuing to trust (our part) as God enables us

    Does God enable all humanity to trust and continue to trust?

    Jack,

    I will be glad to take the time to answer your question when you have taken the time to answer mine.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  22. Wow, you guys really know how to get a conversation off track, and I really and truly hate to say this but, it seems to me, to be a tactic to divert the conversation.

    I think it is a stretch to call this a conversation and if it has gotten off track it seems to me that you take some of the blame for that. Also, I am not sure why you respond specifically to Gracely’s post with “you guys”.

    However with God’s help I believe that I may be close, and I thought that maybe the questions I posed, might bring me to this resolution.

    If you need God’s help and you can be sure that God will help you, does that then mean that the resolution to your struggle totally depends on you?

    If you are trying to resolve some struggle, why not just get to the point? That would really help things along. I disagree that your questions have been simple and straight forward as you claim. That has been why I have needed to point out the problems with your questions and the confusion they have been causing. It is also confusing to see you ask your questions when it seems that they were plainly answered right from the start. Your latest question to me is a new one, but not really related to your previous questions which were all about whether or not salvation security depended on us, and I would like to see you answer the related questions I posed to you before going any further on that. So if you are going somewhere here and trying to figure something important out, just let me know and maybe I can help you; and if I help you maybe we can muse over whether or not my helping you means that the resolution to your question totally depended on you, or not 🙂

    Surely, you see why I am having a hard time with you saying that “we” have been the problem in the way this “conversation” has gotten “off track” and then insinuating that it is in an effort to “divert the conversation”. I still can’t figure out what track it was on in the first place, so I don’t see how I could possibly be trying to divert it (indeed, if anything, I have been trying to get this “conversation” on track). I would love for you to inject some clarity into your comments. Feel free to do that at anytime. That is the only way I can possibly help you, if it is help you are after. I can’t help feeling like I have been wasting my time. Maybe you can change my mind about that in your next post. If not, I will probably not be responding further.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  23. Danielgracely,

    Again, WOW! I have read your last post here, along with at least one other, with a dictionary by my side, and I still cannot completely grasp exactly what you are saying. Now I understand, this is not your fault, you seem to be on a far higher intelligence level than myself.

    Having said this, allow me now to say that, I cannot see how anything I have said would warrant such detailed responses. If you will go back and review, I began by asking a simple question, which in turn lead to another. Now I realize I have posted on this site before, a number of weeks ago, and I can see how someone may have reason to pause and wonder what my intent might be. So now let me attempt to explain my intent.

    I intended to ask a few questions that came to mind as I read the above article. As I have already stated, I thought the answers might help bring this particular struggle I am engaged in at this time to a close. I had determined that I would not, in any way get involved in a theological debate at any time, because I have come to see that they do not seem to accomplish very much. At any rate, even though all I did was ask simple questions, I was accused and attacked for stances I never made or even inferred. I have already shared with you one example, let me give you just one more, and please understand there are others.

    * If the Bible says we have a responsibility to continue to trust in Christ as God enables and empowers us, why do you feel the need to object?

    Please show me where I have objected or made a single stance on any matter above. I have not because that was my intention. I also intended to ignore these accusations, so as to stay focused on the questions I had, and to keep the conversation from veering. It seems this will be impossible.

    I have already stated, I can understand the reasons for the cautiousness, what I cannot understand is why it is so difficult to receive straight forward answers, even if you feel the need to qualify those answers. There is no need for any of us to be afraid of the truth. If what you believe is true then my simple questions will not threaten in any way, and that was not my intent. As I have said my intent was to resolve a few questions in my own mind. However, you all seem to be so intent on defending your Arminian position that it deters you from ministering to someone who may be in need such as myself.

  24. I have already stated, I can understand the reasons for the cautiousness, what I cannot understand is why it is so difficult to receive straight forward answers, even if you feel the need to qualify those answers. There is no need for any of us to be afraid of the truth. If what you believe is true then my simple questions will not threaten in any way, and that was not my intent. As I have said my intent was to resolve a few questions in my own mind. However, you all seem to be so intent on defending your Arminian position that it deters you from ministering to someone who may be in need such as myself.

    Jack,

    I had good reason to question you as I have based on prior conversations and based on what seemed to be so obviously implied in your initial question. If I have misunderstood you, then I apologize. But again, I don’t think the fault has been entirely mine. The language you use and the way you frame things is exactly the way Calvinists do and you have made it clear here that you believe that God must irresistibly cause someone to believe. You have also conflated faith with works. So you brought a lot of baggage to your initial innocent, probing, unfortunately misleading question. I suppose it would have been best to just assume that you did not hold the views you have espoused in the past and had not previously (and unfairly) attacked my position that God allows us the freedom to respond to Him as He enables us as a salvation by works. I suppose I should have ignored the many times you have misrepresented what I believe and ignored my attempts to get you to properly understand what I believed. I guess I shouldn’t have assumed that such things lay behind your question and that you were just having a struggle and needed some simple answers to unfortunately confusing questions for the sake of being ministered to. However, I do think you have received many straightforward answers. In fact, I think you have been answered more than once as I have pointed out. But aside from that, now that I know I was wrong about what seemed to lie behind your initial question, I would be happy to help you if I can. So how can I help you with your struggle?

  25. Great post brother. You made the Baptist Gadfly site. 🙂

  26. Jack,

    I realize I don’t have the gift of teaching, but I rather doubt I’m able to be much clearer about what I have written. Since you’re having trouble understanding me, it doesn’t appear I can contribute much here. Anyway, Ben’s writing is thoughtful and thorough, and he seems willing to continue here.

    I’m not Arminian by the way. I’m left to that (from your prespective). But I embrace most things in Ben’s writings, and I admire his perseverance in trying to get people to understand why Calvinism is wrong. Along these lines, Ben points out certain Calvinistic-type conclusions you apparently hold. I don’t think they will help you, Jack. I hope that in time you will discover why such assumptions are detrimental to one’s spiritual health.

    God bless,

    Dan

  27. Roy,

    Thanks. Do you have a link? I would interested to see the response and have an opportunity to respond myself at some point.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  28. Jack,

    Reading over yesterdays comments today, I realize that I mistakenly referenced your initial comment as the source of confusion. Really, your questions didn’t seem misleading and were easily and, in my opinion, very succinctly answered until your third question that somehow drew the conclusion that it all depended on us based on my answers to your first two questions. That is the question that needed a lot of qualifying and truly seemed like a purposeful mischaracterization of what was being said (in accordance with other discussions I have had with you in the past). Again, if I misread you there, then I apologize and hope to be able to help you if possible.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  29. Ben,

    One of the problems I see here is the format. In other words we have an audience. I have just ran across something that has been very helpful, and would love to bonce it off of you, however I do not want to be seen as playing to the audience.

  30. Jack,

    That is the nature of blogs. You could leave your question on the “??questions??” page. That isn’t a place where there is a lot of interaction, just me (usually) trying to answer anyone’s questions regarding anything having to do with either Arminianism or Calvinism. It is not a place where you find debates. Just scroll down to the bottom and leave your question. You might want to look over other questions and answers as well, as you may find your question has been asked and answered already. Here is the link: https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/questions/

    The other option is to leave me an e-mail address, or I could give you mine. In either case, I would delete it out of this combox once either of us wrote down the address.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  31. Roy,

    Nevermind. I found the post your referred to. Thanks.

  32. Thanks, Ben

    Well, I would like to get a little more in depth, however at this point please allow me, to bounce this off of you, remembering I am not looking for debate.

    At a bible study last night I was asked if I had listened to the discussion between Dr. Olsen and Dr. Horton on Calvinism and Arminianism. I said that I had not, and was directed to a site, so as to hear this discussion. Therefore when I arrived home, I listened to these conversations.

    Now if you will remember I have ask the question, “In the same way if God has done, and will continue to do all that depends on Him, then is it not the reality that it all now depends on us?”

    In part 2 of the conversations, I believe around the 15 minute mark, Dr. Olsen says, (and I have tried to get as close to the exact wording as possible),

    “If God is a loving God He would make it possible for people to be saved, and not irresistibly or effectually draw them, and leave others out. So it must be up to us ultimately, if God is love.

    I realize Dr. Olsen acknowledged, that he was not a debater, and I also realize, that in these situations, you may say something you did not mean to say. Having said this, I have looked at the definition of the word ultimately, and I was wondering, if you believe Dr. Olsen my have misspoke here?

  33. Jack,

    I don’t really have a problem with what Olson says here, so long as it is taken in context and it is understood that prevenient grace is what makes faith possible. He is basically saying that if God doesn’t choose us unconditionally and cause us to have faith as a result, then we choose freely as God enables us. It is not really an issue of: does God save or do we save? God is the only one who can save us. It is a matter of receiving God’s salvation. Does God call on us to receive Him and then enable us to do so, while still allowing for us to reject Him, or does God unconditionally decide who will receive His salvation and then cause them to receive it irresistibly? So while we are utterly dependent on God to save us, it is up to us to depend on God (through faith) or not. That is in contrast to the view that says that God determines who will be saved unconditionally and “passes over” the rest, leaving them in damnation. So the decision is ultimately up to us in the sense that God leaves that decision to us, but that is not the same as saying that salvation or salvation security is ultimately up to us, as I explained it above. Hope that helps. Here are a few short posts I wrote a long time ago (my first two posts, I believe) that might help you see things more clearly,

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

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

    And here is one a little more recent that might be helpful as well,

    https://arminianperspectives.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/some-basic-thoughts-on-decisional-regeneration-from-an-arminian-perspective/

    God Bless,
    Ben

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