No reasonable person would argue that the Bible doesnt say that Christians have been chosen, elected or predestined by God. The debate between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is what those terms specifically mean. Calvinists argue that Gods election is unconditional, while non-Calvinists argue that election is conditional. Calvinists sometimes respond by saying that the term, conditional election, is an oxymoron and that non-Calvinists force a meaning upon the term election. Yet every election ever known to man has been conditional. We elect, or choose, a spouse based on criteria we have established. We elect politicians based on their voting records and promises. We elect, or choose, jobs based on benefits we will receive. Why then must the term conditional election be an oxymoron? When people use the word election in speaking of any subject other than theology, they are always speaking of a conditional election. Who has ever heard of any unconditional election outside of Calvinistic theology? Thus the phrase unconditional election is much more of an oxymoron.
I admit that David is a very slick writer. I am not accusing him of purposefully using distortionI am sure he believes everything he has writtenbut his words are not accurate. For example, when speaking of conditional election being an oxymoron, He says that every election ever known to man has been conditional. Did you catch that? It is true that all modern elections are conditional, but he is misrepresenting the biblical term of election. First we must remember that there were no elections as we know it today during the New Testament period. The average Jew and Gentile during the New Testament period knew nothing of what we in the 21st Century call Election. David is assuming that since in the 21st Century we have conditional elections, then the 1st Century Jewish writer must have had the same understanding of elections. This is absurd.
In the 1st Century, the known world was ruled by a Caesar in Rome. Trust me, this guy and all who followed him in that role was not elected by popular vote. They knew nothing of our modern mindset of election. So, what is the Biblical definition of election? The clearest definition of election can be found in Romans 9:11, (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) We clearly see here that election has nothing to do with anything anyone does but God. The passage could not be any plainer that election is not based on anything done good or bad, but solely based on God who calls. Romans 11:5-7 also says concerning God electing certain Jews to salvation, Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded. How does the Arminian reconcile this action by God? It says that Israel has not obtained that which he seeks but only the election has obtained it. The non-elect were blinded so that they would not obtain. So we see that unconditional electionnot based upon anything done good or badis the true biblical definition of election and conditional electionbased upon something done good or badis an oxymoron.
Non-Calvinists maintain that before the foundation of the world, God elected to save those, and only those, who believe. Thus our election is conditioned upon our faith. Those who believe make up the group of people whom the Bible refers to as the elect or chosen of God. And because God is all knowing, He foreknew those who would believe. We have been, as Peter writes, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God (1 Pet. 1:1-2, emphasis added). This view is the only one that is consistent with all of Scripture, as we will soon see.
The non-Calvinists believe that God chose use because we first chose him. If this is true then why does God refer to us as the chosen? If we chose first then isnt God the chosen? David states that God chooses only those whom He foresees will respond by faith. Thus election is conditioned upon faith. But this is not consistent with scripture. If faith is something that is good which we have done and our election is conditional upon it, then you have contradicted Romans 9:11 which says that our election is not based upon anything good we have done but simply on God who calls.
The Calvinist, who believes in mans total depravity and Gods irresistible grace, has no choice but to believe in Gods supposed unconditional election. His foundational theology leaves him no other alternative, and that is why Calvinists often begin, like John Piper, citing those two foundations as they begin to defend their concept of unconditional election (see Piper, p. 19, par. 1). If man is totally depraved and unable to repent, and salvation is all the work of God and none of man, then those who are saved must be so only because of Gods choosing them. There is, however, no need for me to respond to this typical initial argument, since weve found that the two foundational assumptions are fatally flawed. God doesnt save people by bestowing on them irresistible grace, and no saved person was ever totally depraved by the Calvinistic definition.
Obviously, the idea of God predestining some to salvation means that He also predestined some to eternal damnation, what is called reprobation. Calvin wrote in his Institutes,
All men are not created for the same end; but some are fore-ordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation. So according as every man was created for the one end or the other, we say, he was elected, that is, predestined to life, or reprobated, that is, predestined to damnation (Calv. Inst., book 3, chapter 21, section 1).
Reprobation is not the doctrine that God makes a person reprobate; it is the doctrine that God leaves a person in their state of reprobation. As Calvin says in the next quote, God passes them over and does not choose them. This does not make God unjust. What would be unjust is if the reprobate deserved heaven but God gave him hell. But this is not the case. God is simply giving the person what they deserve. Although earthly examples do not capture the entire truth found in scripture allow me to use an example of parents and two sons:
Suppose two children disobey their parents and are both sent to their rooms for punishment. Is it unjust for the parents to leave the both children in their punishment and not bring them out? Of course not. The parents are giving the child what they deserve.
Now, where most people decry the fairness of God is when some people receive salvation and others do not. Lets go back to the previous example to explain this:
Suppose the parents bring one child out of punishment but do not bring out the other child. You might say, That is not fair! How is it fair that one child is given grace and taken out of punishment and the other child is passed over? Here is where all earthly examples fail. We naturally assume that the child passed over desires to be brought out of punishment, but in the case of the unregenerate lost person this is not the case. Romans 8:5-7 says concerning the an unregenerate verses a regenerate person, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are unregenerate have their mind set on the flesh and are enemies of God (hostile), they do not submit to Gods law and cannot do so. So to make the example truly biblical we must say that both children did not desire to be taken out of punishment. One was shown grace and the other one was passed over. The one who was passed over never desired to be removed from their state, therefore the parents are just and fair in leaving both in their punishment, taking one out and leaving the other, or taking out both.
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Some Calvinists who assert election foolishly deny reprobation, but there is no escape from the fact that it is impossible to hold one without holding the other. People who are not chosen to be saved are chosen to be damned. Calvin himself asserts this undeniable fact:
Many indeed (thinking to excuse God) own election, and yet deny reprobation; but this is quite silly and childish. For without reprobation, election itself cannot stand; whom God passes by, those he reprobates. It is one and the same thing (Calv. Inst., book 3, chapter 23, section 1).
Calvin was absolutely right on this point. Without reprobation, election itself cannot stand. Make no mistake about this: God wants certain people to go to hell, otherwise He would have predestined them to go to heaven and bestowed upon them His irresistible grace. And this is what makes the doctrine of unconditional election so repugnant to lovers of God, for it makes their God into a monster who creates people for the express purpose of tormenting them eternally in hell. From before the time they were born, they were doomed, with no hope of escaping eternal fires. It would have been better if such people had never been born. And some Calvinists say that this actually glorifies God.
Once again David is not accurate. He says reprobation is the doctrine in which God wants certain people to go to hell. He is trying to show that reprobation means that God delights in sending people to hell. I know of no true Calvinist who says that God wants and desires people to go to hell. The doctrine of reprobation is simply that God passes over someone who is already going to hell because of their sinful state. The key is that when God sovereignly chooses people to be saved He is viewing all as sinful and unregenerate who deserve nothing more than hell. It is in His goodness and mercy that He even chooses any to be saved. Let me try to use another earthly example. Suppose the governor of a state decides to pardon a prisoner and place this prisoner into a rehabilitation program. This program is designed to take a person in prison, pardon their sentence and help them get back into society. Suppose this governor chooses a prison and does not consider anything this person has done good or bad in his decision. One prisoner was pardoned and the rest were not. Is this fair? Does the governor not have the right to pardon whomever he will? Is it not fair that the rest of the prisoners were left in their present condition? Of course this is fair. In the same way, God sees all of humanity as criminals in prison. It is His decision to pardon us and He does not base his decision on anything we have done. God is fair and just even though He does not pardon all people. Despite what David says about Calvinism, it does not make God into a monster who creates people for the express purpose of tormenting them eternally in hell.
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How is it possible to reconcile unconditional election/damnation with the scores of scriptures that clearly state that God desires for all to be saved? Here is just a small sampling:
Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast (Matt. 22:9, emphasis added).
The many invited to the feast as those who hear the general (external) call of the gospel. The gospel is to be preached to all men and God internally calls His chosen to Himself through the external call. All who respond to the gospel are internally called.
And [Jesus] said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15, emphasis added).
Once again, the gospel is to be preached to all people. Men issue the general (external) call through the gospel. Some respond, some dont. It is God who internally calls men to Himself during the external call. The general calling to all even though all are not chosen is not unfair because those who do not respond do not want to respond. It would be unfair if someone wanted to respond but God did not let them. But this is clearly not the case. The Bible says many times that whosoever will may come. Those who desire are chosen and those who do not desire are not chosen.
I say these things that you [those who persecuted Him and wanted to kill Him; see John 5:16-18] may be saved (John 5:34, emphasis added). [And why were they not saved? Jesus explains in 5:40:] And you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life (emphasis added).
John 5:25; 37-42 says, Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live
And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. I do not receive glory from people. But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. (emphasis mine.)
Why are the people unwilling to come to Jesus? Because they have never heard the voice of God and they have never seen Him. Verse 25 says that all who hear the voice of the Son of God will live!
And [God] made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27).
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent (Acts 17:30, emphasis added).
Who does Paul say should seek God? Every nation of mankind men everywhere. Paul is saying that salvation is now coming to more than just the Jews. These verses do not say that every single person will be saved but says that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:35) Revelation 5:8-9 says, And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time (1 Tim. 2:3-6, emphasis added).
I will admit that the phrase all men can mean every single person who ever lived and I hope that David and other Arminians can admit the phrase also can mean certain groups (or sorts) of men. For example, in Mark 11:30-32 Jesus says, The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me. And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say, Why then did ye not believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; they feared the people: for all men counted John, that he was a prophet indeed. Did every single person who ever lived count John to be a prophet? No, certainly the Romans did not. It was only a certain group that the Pharisees did not want to offend who counted John as a prophet. Mark 13:13 says, And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Does this mean that every single person who ever lived will hate Jesus followers? Of course not. No one believes that. Also, Acts 21:28 says, Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath polluted this holy place. Did Paul teach ever single person who ever lived? Of course not. No one believes that. So why do Arminians refuse to believe that 1 Timothy 2:3-6 can refer to all types (or sorts) of men?
Now that I have shown that there are at least two definitions for the phrase all men, what is the proper definition for 1 Timothy 2? For this answer we need to look at verses 1-2, I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. Paul is singling out a particular groupkings and all that are in authority. Why is Paul requesting prayer for this particular group? That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life In verse 3 Paul says that praying for this group is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Then in verse 4 Paul says that God
will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Now, taking verse 4 and reading it out of context it is easy to assume that God will have every single person to be saved, but we know that not every single person will be saved because they do not believe. Some believe that God desires every person to be saved but cannot save every person because of mans free will. But Ephesians 1:11 says, In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, This verse says that God works out things according to His will not ours. So, if God wills that all men be saved then all men be saved. If all men mean every single person then 1 Timothy 2:4 teaches universalism. Since universalism is false, we must conclude that all men refers only to types (or sorts) of men. So what is Paul saying to Timothy in verse 4? First, Paul has just finished asking Timothy to have his church pray for all who are in authority. This is a sort of men. Verse 5-6 says, For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Then Paul says to Timothy, Whereunto (For this reason) I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. The Gentiles is another sort of men. In summary, Paul is talking about sorts of men, not every single person. Paul is reminding Timothy to pray for all sort of men even Gentile kings and all who are in authority so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life and that God desires all sorts of men come to a knowledge of the truth. Paul reminds us that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:35)
Quote: This verse says that God is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Doesnt this mean that God wants every single person to be saved? I agree with Ezekiel 18:32 that the Lord does not take pleasure in the death of the unbeliever, but take a closer look at the verse. It says that God is patient with whom? You.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9, emphasis added).
Who is the 'You' referring to? The Beloved
Verse 8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Who are the Beloved? The people Peter is addressing in his letter.
Verse 1 This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved.
Who is Peter writing to in this letter? Christians
2 Peter 1:1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ
But this is the second letter, what does the first say? 1 Peter 1:1-2 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
So clearly Peter is saying that the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise to his elect concerning his second coming. The Lord is longsuffering because he is not willing that anyone elected according to the foreknowledge of God should perish but that all of them come to repentance.
Some maintain that 1 and 2 Peter were only written to the Jewish believers. But this cannot be so. Peter was clearly writing to both Jewish believers and Gentile believers. For example: 1 Peter 2:9-12 says, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. The fact that Peter tells the group that they were not a people, but now are Gods people would be inconsistent for just a Jewish audience because the Jews were always considered Gods people, even in the dispersion. However, Peters words to the combination of a Jewish and Gentile audience is consistent because there has never been this type of people of God before. Paul speaks of this new people of God in Galatians 3:28, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Colossians 3:11, Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. And Romans 10:12, For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. Also, it is interesting to note that in John 7:34, Jesus said, You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come. To which, (v35-36) The Jews said to one another, "Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? What does he mean by saying, 'You will seek me and you will not find me,' and, 'Where I am you cannot come' The Jews equated the Dispersion (1 Peter 1:1) with being among the Gentiles and teaching the Gentiles.
And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14, emphasis added).
World is a difficult word to properly define. The Greek word is Kosmos. World can mean earth, all people in the earth, certain people in the earth, society, creation, etc. World is a word that many Arminians sometimes define as every single person. For example, John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. What is clear in this verse is that all who believe will not perish. What is unclear is if every single person can believe. 1 John 4:14 says that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. David is saying that since world means every single person then Jesus died for everyones sins. But world doesnt always mean every single person. World can also refer to only a select group or to Creation. I personally believe that in 1 John 4:14 and John 3:16 that he proper definition of world is Creation. For God so loved His creation, that He gave His one and only Son
the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of His creation. I believe this because Jesus
is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authoritiesall things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 15-20) Revelation 4:6-10 says, And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth. Jesus not only ransoms people from the clutches of Satan, but also ransoms all of creation out of the clutches of Satan. Jesus said in John 12:31, Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. Jesus redeemed creation from the hands of Satan. John 16:11 says the Holy Spirit will convict the world,
Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. Jesus has bound Satan already. In Mark 3:22-27,
the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "by the prince of demons he casts out the demons." And he called them to him and said to them in parables, "How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house. Jesus says the reason He can destroy the works of Satan is because He has bound Satan (the strong man). But Satan himself is not destroyed, yet. He is bound but still active. Ephesians 2:1-3 says, Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Jesus has broken the stranglehold Satan had on the world and will ultimately redeem creation completely.
Romans 8:19-25 says, For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Psalm 96:10-13 says, Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity." Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness. In summary, Jesus is the Savior of the world in that he redeems not just all sorts of people, but also creation itself.
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Two Pillars of the Gospel
Once his introduction is behind him, Paul continues chapter 1 by focusing on two foundational pillars upon which his gospel is builtthe truths of humanitys sinfulness and Gods wrath. It is here that we begin to see contradictions to the Calvinistic interpretation of certain verses in Romans 9.
Paul first describes how Gods wrath is revealed by His judgment upon sinners who are without excuse before God (see 1:18-23). In fact, Paul plainly declares that peoples ever-increasing depravity and slavery to sin is an indication of Gods judgment upon them. In the space of just a few sentences, he mentions three times how God gives sinners over, specifically to impurity, degrading passions and to a depraved mind (see 1:24, 26, 28). There is no mistaking Paul: God judges rebels by giving them over to depravity.
In this way, God can be said to be righteously hardening rebels. I suspect that Paul had more in mind than here than just illuminating his readers about one aspect of Gods wrath. If he can procure his Jewish readers early acceptance of the fact that God righteously hardens Gentile rebels, perhaps they will more easily accept his teaching later on in his letter that God also righteously hardens Jews who reject His Messiah.
Note also that Pauls declarations of mans corruption clearly stand in contradiction to the Calvinistic ideas of total depravity and irresistible grace, as God only gives over to depravity those who have first, by their own choice, decided to resist Him and continually yield to sin. Before He gives them over, they suppress[ed] the truth (1:18), they did not honor God or give thanks (1:21), they
exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures (1:22-23), they exchanged the truth of God for a lie (1:25), and they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer (1:28, emphases added). Paul thus says, Therefore God gave them over
.to degrading passions
.to a depraved mind (1:24, 26, 28, emphasis added). These depraved people practice homosexuality as well as many other vices that Paul lists in 1:27-32. Note again that God gave them over after they, having had ample opportunity to repent and also being without excuse, decided themselves to continue in their rebellion.
First, Mr. Kirkwood does not understand the doctrine of Total Depravity. Total Depravity means that mans rebellion against God is absolute (Total). The lost person has his mind set on the flesh. Romans 8:5-7 says, For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Mans rebellion against God is absolute because of the absence of Faith. Hebrews 11:6 says, And without faith it is impossible to please God
and Romans 14:23 says,
For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin. Both of these verses tell us that Faith is the key to being accepted by God.
Note: Some people believe that Romans 14:23 only applies to Christians. I disagree. If an act that is not done in faith is a sin for Christians, why would we assume it is not a sin for unbelievers?
Total Depravity is the doctrine that mans rebellion against God is absolute but it does not mean that man will only do the vilest, wicked, and disgusting acts possible. For example, an unregenerate person can donate a lot of money to fund a cure for AIDS. This is a wonderful act, but the person did not do so to honor God. Also, unregenerate people can do many great works for the sake of their pride, but they will never do it out of love for God. This is an example of what Isaiah 64:6 is referring to when it says, We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Good deeds can be done and are done by unregenerate people, but they are still in complete rebellion against God. This is the doctrine of Total Depravity. David wants us to believe that the doctrine of Total Depravity is wrong because people are not as bad as they can be. This is a faulty view of Total Depravity.
But what does Romans 1 say? It is important to understand who Paul is talking about in verses 18-32. Paul is talking to unregenerate Gentiles who are not called by God to salvation. How can I know this? First rule of interpretation is that scripture interprets scripture. 1 Corinthians 1:22 says, For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22 tells us that in this world there are three types of people:
1) non-Called Jews,
2) non-Called Gentiles, and
3) Jews and Gentiles who are called by God to salvation.
What are the responses to the gospel according to 1 Corinthians 1:22?
1) non-Called Jews see the gospel as a stumbling block
2) non-Called Gentiles see the gospel as foolishness
3) Jews and Gentiles who are called see the gospel as the power of God unto salvation.
So how does 1 Corinthians 1:22 help us interpret Romans 1:18-32? First, we see that the people in these verses are filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (v. 29-31). Paul also says in verse 24, 26, 28 respectively that God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts, gave them up to dishonorable passions, gave them up to a debased mind. The point Paul is making is that there is no hope for salvation for these people at all. The simple fact that they have no hope for salvation proves that they were never drawn to God for salvation. To assume that these Gentiles who have no hope for salvation were previously drawn to salvation stands in direct contrast to Romans 8:30 which states, whom he called, them he also justified This verse tells us God calls men to Jesus and those who are called are justified. The same thing is said in John 6:44, No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. Both verses tell us that man cannot come to Jesus apart from an inner working of God. Both verses tell us that this inner working of God results in justification and being raised at the last day.
| 2007/7/25 12:34||Profile|
Moreover, foreknowledge and foreordination are not the same things. I might foreknow that is it going to rain, but that doesnt prove that I foreordained that it would rain. God foreknows who will be saved because He foreknows who will believe. How full is the Bible of events that God foreknew and foretold by prophecy but did not foreordain! How can foreknowledge be said to be equivalent to foreordination?
How full is the Bible of events in which God did not just foreknow but foreordained!
Joseph being in Egypt to save many people. Genesis 50:20, As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
God raising up Pharaoh for one very important purpose. Exodus 9:16 and Romans 9:17, For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
Judas betraying Jesus. Acts 1:16, Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus
Jesus death on the cross. Acts 2:22-24, Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know--this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
Also what David fails to mention is that Foreordained is a valid definition of the Greek word proginosko which is used in Romans 8:29. The King James translators translated proginosko as Foreordained in 1 Peter 1:20, Who [Jesus] verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
Note also that Paul says nothing in the above passage about God predestining anyone to salvation, but only to Him predestining certain people to be conformed to Christs image whom He foreknew. In that sense, God predestines Christians. Foreknowing believers, He predestines them to become like Christ.
Predestination is for believers. It is the basis of foreknowledge that David has incorrect. Gods Foreknowledge is based upon His choice. God in His Omnipotence chooses for Himself certain people out of the world to be His treasured people. God makes this choice before anyone is born and this choice is not based upon what anyone has done or ever will do whether good or bad. He makes this choice because He is God and He has the authority to do so. He is Just in His choice because He is God. What right does the clay have to judge the Potter? The Potter has power over the clay to do as He wishes. God foreknows this people and predestines, calls, justifies, and glorifies them.
Many verses in scripture support the view that it is God who chooses.
For example, in the Old Covenant God made a covenant with Abraham. Why did God chose Abraham out of the entire world to enter into a covenant with? God did not do this because of anything Abraham had done. Abraham did not earn this attention from God. God in His own mercy and will made a covenant with Abraham.
Genesis 12:1-3, The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
The children of Abraham began to increase and God kept His covenant with Abraham. God made the children of Israel His special people not because they had earned the right, but because of His will.
Deuteronomy 7:6, For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 14:2, For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
The Lord chose the nation of Israel to be His treasured possession. But then something happened, God in His mercy sent His son Jesus who was the offspring (Seed) of Abraham who was prophesied. Galatians 3:16 says, Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, And to offsprings, referring to many, but referring to one, And to your offspring, who is Christ. Jesus then chose men to be His Disciples. He said to them in John 15:16, You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you., After Jesus death, burial and resurrection He referred to Paul as a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). God then chose peoplenot from just Israelbut from the entire world to be His chosen people. This is the New Covenant that God confirmed.
1 Peter 2:9-10 says that Christians
are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Colossians 3:11-13, Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5, For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,.
Ephesians 1:11 is a good verse with which to end. It states that Christians have been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will. It does not say that He works all things according to mans will. Certainly mans will plays a part in salvation, but it is not the reason Gods relationally foreknows people.
In conclusion, the foreknowledge of God must be based on scripture. Scripture says that God foreknows people based upon the counsel of His will. Salvation is nothing that can be earned or merited. It is something that God does in His grace and mercy. Man responds to the grace of God in Faith, but as the great Arminian preacher Adrian Rogers once said, Faith is you saying what God has already said. Thus our response of Faith is the confession of what God has already done in our lives.
Incidentally, God calls people through the gospel, not by irresistible grace (although He does draw them by a grace that is resistible). Paul told the Thessalonican believers, He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thes. 2:14, emphasis added).
Davids emphasis should have been placed on verse 13, But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. It is true that God calls through the gospel because the gospel must be preached. God internally calls the foreknown through the external gospel calling.
When Paul preached the gospel in Thessalonica, did he only preach to people who were pre-selected to be saved? No, many who heard the gospel in Thessalonica rejected it (see Acts 17:1-12). Everyone in Thessalonica was called by God through the gospel. So when Paul wrote that the Thessalonians were called through [his] gospel, he certainly didnt think that all the Thessalonians who were called were automatically justified.
I agree that Paul did not preach to the people who were pre-selected to be saved. This is an absurd statement because no one knows who is pre-selected. The gospel is preached to all without distinction, but it is the internal call that God makes to those whom He has foreknown. I disagree that everyone in Thessalonica was called by God through the gospel because this would violate Romans 8:30 we discussed earlier.
Interestingly, one sentence before Paul wrote that God called the Thessalonians through the gospel, he wrote, God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thes. 2:13, emphasis added). Paul could say that God had chosen the Thessalonians to whom he was writing because God has chosen from the beginning to save all who would have faith in the truth under the drawing of Gods Spirit. Indeed, as Jesus said, Many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:14). All those who believe are among Gods chosen.
Once again David is confusing the internal calling made by God and the external calling made by man. I am thankful though that he admits that God chooses who will be saved, it amazes me how someone can admit that God chooses us and then say that we choose God first. Jesus words Many are called but few are chosen refers to the fact that the gospel call is given by man to all men, Matthew 22:9, Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find. However, those who are chosen by God to salvation are the only ones who will be truly saved, Many are called, but few are chosen
| 2007/7/25 12:39||Profile|
Just as God has the right to show mercy to whomever He desires, He also has the right to harden whomever He desires. No one can rightfully find fault for Him hardening anyone He desires. Thankfully, because God is righteous, He hardens only those who have repeatedly rejected His mercy. Paul points specifically to Pharaoh, whom God showed incredible mercy over a period of time (and nobody can argue against this). On at least three occasions, Scripture says that Pharaoh hardened his heart, and thus God decided to show him no further mercy, and Scripture begins to say that God hardened Pharaohs heart (see Ex. 7:13, 22: 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 12, 34-35; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:8). Who can find fault with God for that?
David Kirkwood is not intellectually honest in this paragraph. He is giving the impression that God was working to bring Pharaoh to repentance, that Pharaoh then hardened his heart, and thus God decided to show him no further mercy, and Scripture begins to say that God hardened Pharaohs heart.
When the truth is that Romans 9:17 says, For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. Paul was quoting what the Lord said through Moses to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:16. So we see that God was not working to bring Pharaoh to repentance before the plagues came, but raised up Pharaoh and hardened his heart for the very purpose of showing His power. Also, if that is not enough, the very first instance in scripture we see of Pharaoh and his heart is in Exodus 4:21, And the LORD said to Moses, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.
I am not saying that God made Pharaoh sin, but I am saying that God hardened Pharaoh so that he would not turn to God in repentance. Some might say this is not fair, but Paul says it is Gods right to have mercy on whom He will have mercy and harden whom He will harden. If a person is still not convinced, Pharaoh himself said in Exodus 5:2, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.
| 2007/7/25 12:40||Profile|
Wow Jaysaved... you must type like a million words a minute!
| 2007/7/25 12:42|
This is a lot of information I have written in response to David's article. I was originally prompted by BenWilliams to respond and this is what I have to date.
If anyone is truly interested in this debate, please read all of what has been written.
| 2007/7/25 12:42||Profile|
I am not saying that God made Pharaoh sin, but I am saying that God hardened Pharaoh so that he would not turn to God in repentance.
This doesn't make sense. Because if Pharaoh is totally depraved he could not turn to God if he wanted to. So why would God have to harden his heart to prevent him from doing something he couldn't do?
| 2007/7/25 12:44|
I know you're not looking for this but that was a well thought through, balanced, non-agressive response to the article. Thank you and not just because I agree with your Scriptural interpretations. God Bless. Your efforts and time are appreciated.
| 2007/7/25 12:56||Profile|