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KeithLaMothe
Member



Joined: 2004/3/28
Posts: 354


 Re:

(Another book-length post, sorry, but much of the space is taken up by quotes that can be skimmed or skipped)

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This is the way God has made human beings. In terms of our personal destiny 'the Lord hath need of thee' because He has chosen to have need of thee.

I think this to be one of the greatest demonstrations of His sovereignty and power.

Then I think we have much in agreement. I see free will (and I do see it, really! :-) ) as a glorious work of God, but it [i]is[/i] His work, and rooted in Him. It seems to me, then, impossible to say that He did not choose to have all the consequences of free moral agency come to pass.
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We may be called to serve God with all our mind, but we are also told not to lean on our own understanding. The Hebrew there is Sha`an and it means to 'support yourself' or to 'trust in'- as one would trust in God.

Thank you for the reminder. At the end of the day, I have no intention of taking whatever logical conclusions I come to and favoring them over God's revelation or my trust in God. Granted, I have to use some logical analysis to even interpret Scripture, but I must not let one interpretation trample on something else plainly evident from Scripture.
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If the day ever came when he felt secure enough to leave the pad lock off the door and his wife made off with another man, was the chice he made in any way the cause of her infidelity?

In any way? Certainly, her infidelity would (presumably, even pad locks have limitations) not have been possible apart from his decision.
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Would he be in any wise culpable?

Because of his previous mistreatment? Yes. Because of his leaving the lock off the door? No.
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Did he tempt her to commit the act by leaving the lock off?

Did God tempt Adam by putting that pesky tree smack in the middle of the garden? To both questions, no. Did the uncle make her vulnerable to sexual temptation by being a bad husband? Yes.
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Otherwise we get to what ends up being the general answer for the disaster; "Well, they say, it was his fault for marrying her."

It was his fault for marrying her and not keeping his subsequent obligation to love her as Christ loves the Church. If he wanted absolutely no chance of being cheated on, he shouldn't have gotten involved with a woman; similarly, if God wanted absolutely no chance of being sinned against, He shouldn't have gotten involved with free moral agents. But in both cases a choice is made based on the belief that the possible good sufficiently outweighs the possible bad to make the situation desirable. The uncle went back on his word, God does not.
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[i]From Ron[/i]:
My choice is only limited by my previous choice. In other words I have chosen to behave in a certain way. In this sense we might say God has chosen to be as He is, although the statement is close to nonsense.

Why? I supppose I see the problem that God never "chose", per se, to be who He is, because He has always been who He is, but is God not responsible for the consequences of being God? That doesn't mean He's morally culpable for everything else, but it does mean He's in some sense responsible for everything else, because it would not be if not for Him.
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I don’t believe that God chose earlier that some would be predetermined to salvation and others ‘not to salvation’.

Let me boil down the proposition you're rejecting a little and see if it's the same to you: "God chose who would be saved and who would not be saved." Just trying to get to the point.
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Yes, I (and in the picture, God) is still choosing ‘not to prevent’, but that choice was made long ago at the design stage.

But God [i]chose[/i]. Most, if not all, of what I've been talking about is "design stage", as God is obviously not going to break faith with his earlier commitments.
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Decisions that I made decades ago set a direction which automatically eliminated many other options.

All choices limit future choices; choice is a daunting responsibility, one God honored us greatly in giving us.
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I have not been arguing for a relationship between God and man where every moment means a fresh decision on God's part, although I don't believe that God has wound it up and set it going either.

Right, there's components of both. God fully intended to obey the limitations He set for Himself, so that He will not "pick it up, take it apart, and change it" to something different than He originally committed Himself to the second something undesirable happens, but He also decided to become [i]personally involved[/i] in His creation, to be one of the actors on the stage, if you will.
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These concepts of God as a linear thinker have got to be wrong, only time-based beings would think in such a way.

I'm sensitive to the oddly linear sound of what I've been saying, and I'm sorry that my limitations prevent me from speaking in a more appropriate manner. Of course God didn't sit back one day in eternity past (for eternity past contained no days), pick up a pad of paper and pencil (for eternity past contained no pads of paper, nor pencils), sketch out the myriad different ways of designing creation, mull over each decision in sequence, and choose between them. I can't tell you exactly how He [i]did[/i] do it, but I'm pretty certain the above scenario isn't it. Nonetheless, the linear thought "picture" is not at all necessary to what I've been saying: God's choices may not have had any temporal relationship to one another at all, for there were no temporal relationships to be had, but they were nonetheless choices, made with full knowledge of the consequences, made with full freedom to do otherwise.
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I don't think it is possible for a carbon-based creation to even begin to understand the interface between time and eternity, but that is exaclty what Calvinism seems to set out to accomplish.

I agree that we cannot understand that interface, it is utterly beyond us. But I haven't been doing the Calvinist's work here, though it may appear thus, instead I have been (partly) trying to show that the Arminian (and various others) really don't have much of a leg to stand on when they accuse Calvinism of making God the chooser of who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell, because Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism, and whatever else [i]all[/i] make God the chooser of who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell, they just put it in different ways. If God sets down an "unconditional" decree to the effect, He chooses who will be saved. If God "foreknows" that some will respond rightly to previenient grace, and has total control (at design time) over who responds rightly or wrongly (or even exists), He chooses who will be saved. If God makes man such that the unregenerate can simply, naturally, turn back towards Him without His assistance, knowing full well which men will actually do so and being in total control (at design time) over who will do so, He chooses who will be saved.

My point is not that God is at all morally culpable for these choices, merely that these are choices that God made. One of the implications is that the Calvinist should not be railed against for believing that God chooses who will be saved, when the would-be railer believes the same thing.

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This affects my understanding of prophecy too. I don't think of prophecy as prediction awaiting fulfillment, but I look to the future to explain the prophecy.

I like to think of prophecy as partly a statement of intent, i.e. that God will make [i]sure[/i] whatever it is comes to pass (not overriding any previous commitments, of course). It's just a statement of intent, however, and not the beginning of that intent; that started before the foundation of the world.

 2004/12/29 16:12Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
I am speaking here of Edwards' view and not my own. He virtually equates desire and will. Surely, you see that one can choose against one's own desires (like staying away from that tempting pint of Ben and Jerry's in the fridge). Edwards says that is only because you have a stronger desire to remain on your diet (the stronger desire always wins). I believe we can actually reason and opt for the best choice even when our stronger desire says otherwise. I simply think Edwards is too deterministic...and does not teach true freedom as I would define it.


Eric,
I have a lot of sympathy with Edwards here. You will know that thelO and boulomai both have connotations of 'desire' in them. If you trace either of these words you will find texts where 'desire' would be quite appropriate. Willing and wanting are very much the consequence of desire. I would go for an even more primitive word and use the word 'hunger'. A man will follow his hungers unless he has another hunger that is greater than they.

I can choose against one desire for Ben & Jerry's (is that some kind of ice-cream you have over there?) but only if some other desire masters my appetite for ice-cream.

The old Methodists used to speak of [i]the expulsive power of a new affection[/i] in describing 'sanctification'. Maybe we are not so wrong when we use the word 'love'. I love chocolate ice-cream. If I love my health more I will find the strength to choose health over ice-cream. The only real safety is in the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

If I am truly convinced that I have a heaven to gain and a hell to shun that can act as a powerful stimulus to a change of choice. You seem to put reason up as the best alternative to desire; this is good Greek philosophy but I don't think it is New Testament truth. This would put the man with the better reasoning faculty at a distinct advantage in choosing God's way. I don't think that is a scriptural position.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2004/12/29 17:47Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Hi Keith

Quote:
Let me boil down the proposition you're rejecting a little and see if it's the same to you: "God chose who would be saved and who would not be saved." Just trying to get to the point.


Yes, I am rejecting that theocentric proposition, and I am also rejecting the equivalent anthropocentric position that God determined to enable some to believe and others not to believe. Faith is a response, a human response, to revelation. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Sin too is a response, a human response to revelation. To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.


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I have been (partly) trying to show that the Arminian (and various others) really don't have much of a leg to stand on when they accuse Calvinism of making God the chooser of who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell, because Calvinism, Arminianism, Pelagianism, and whatever else all make God the chooser of who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell, they just put it in different ways. If God sets down an "unconditional" decree to the effect, He chooses who will be saved.


Every ‘other’ Calvinist I have discussed this with accuses me of saying that if man chooses then he has contributed and hence salvation in not of grace alone. My answer has always been ‘salvation is not of grace alone’, ‘salvation is by grace through faith.’

If there are two doors and one says ‘life’ and the other ‘death’, that is not the same as saying God chooses who ‘goes to heaven’; that is choosing the way that folks ‘go to heaven’. The choice, ‘to go or not to go’ is in the hands of the man who chooses the door. I don’t believe God chooses who ‘goes to heaven’ at all. I believe God has made a way through His Son for men and women to be rightly related to Him. As far as I understand penal substitution and its implications there never could have been any other way. Even those who knew nothing about it still came through this unique provision of God.

He sets before them ‘life’ and ‘death’, and says ‘choose life’. To refuse His command to choose life is to incur additional sin. He commands all men everywhere to repent. To refuse to repent is to incur additional sin.


Quote:
If God "foreknows" that some will respond rightly to previenient grace, and has total control (at design time) over who responds rightly or wrongly (or even exists), He chooses who will be saved. If God makes man such that the unregenerate can simply, naturally, turn back towards Him without His assistance, knowing full well which men will actually do so and being in total control (at design time) over who will do so, He chooses who will be saved.


Do you believe that [i]total control over who responds rightly or wrongly[/i] was established at the design stage? Isn’t that the most obvious form of determinism? (Delboy. Unchangeable scripts) I don’t believe that God built any kind of control into who responds rightly or wrongly. If I did that would make God as guilty of sin as He is creditworthy of virtue. A man achieves virtue by cooperating with God, and ‘achieves’ sin by refusing to cooperate with God. In each case the choice is man’s, as a result virtue is commended and sin condemned.


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I like to think of prophecy as partly a statement of intent, i.e. that God will make sure whatever it is comes to pass (not overriding any previous commitments, of course). It's just a statement of intent, however, and not the beginning of that intent; that started before the foundation of the world.


I still can’t better the statement of Christopher Wordsworth, Bishop of Lincoln which I have often quoted previously, but for completeness sake…

[i]"God's foreknowledge sees everything and forces nothing. It leaves the liberty of the human will untouched. Whatever is foretold by God will be done by man; but nothing will be done by man because it is foretold by God."[/i]
Wordsworth Revelation Intro. p 154


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2004/12/29 18:24Profile
KeithLaMothe
Member



Joined: 2004/3/28
Posts: 354


 Re:

Quote:
Every ‘other’ Calvinist I have discussed this with accuses me of saying that if man chooses then he has contributed and hence salvation in not of grace alone. My answer has always been ‘salvation is not of grace alone’, ‘salvation is by grace through faith.’

I'm not sure what the Calvinists say, though that wouldn't surprise me. I get the impression Eric might have a different way of putting it. It seems to me that even the Roman Catholics could pass Sola Gratia, after a fashion.

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If there are two doors and one says ‘life’ and the other ‘death’, that is not the same as saying God chooses who ‘goes to heaven’; that is choosing the way that folks ‘go to heaven’. The choice, ‘to go or not to go’ is in the hands of the man who chooses the door.

But God, knowing who would choose to go if He chose this particular way in which they could go, and also knowing how everyone would respond to any other plan of salvation, chose to do it this particular way, and thus accepted (chose, no?) this particular set of consequences. By choosing the way of salvation, He chose who would be saved. If He wanted a different (for example, larger) group, He would have done it in a different way, no? Or, if other commitments of His (for instance, a desire to grant and honor free moral agency) were more important to Him than the salvation of more people, it is nonetheless the case that He chose those considerations over His desire that all be saved. On that last part even I am wary, but is it not evident that God considers something (i.e. justice, free will, etc) more important than everyone going to Heaven? Perhaps I'm missing something, but He certainly doesn't seem to be willing to bend over backwards, throw justice away, and let an unrepentant sinner into Heaven. Interestingly, I think we're seeing the "strongest of the desires" phenomena here.

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As far as I understand penal substitution and its implications there never could have been any other way.

Here lies the one possible exception I currently see to a de facto God-chooses view of Justification : One of my assumptions in the above paragraph is that there were other ways in which God could have reconciled sinners to Him, specifically other ways in which more could have been saved. But is this the case? Were God's hands quite literally tied in that there was no possible way in which He could have designed creation that would allow for free moral agents (no one else would need salvation, because no one else could fall, no?), and allow for reconciliation of more sinners to Him than the way He actually chose? I think that would be a form of Molinism (that God picked the way that would cause the least evil), saying that God picked the way that would save the most people. What do you think? Or are you still shaking your head at the idea that choosing the way of salvation is choosing to save those who He knew would respond to that way?

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Do you believe that [i]total control over who responds rightly or wrongly[/i] was established at the design stage?

I believe that He had such control, in that He could have done it any way He pleased to do it (again, He's sticking with His plan, which would seem not to include forcing people to do things contrary to their will, but His choice of this plan was totally free, no?). Honestly, could He not have arranged things such that Lucifer would not want to rebel? Made him a bit different, fiddled with a few circumstances, gave him a different role? This is a genuine question: could God have ordered things differently in such a way as to preserve Lucifer's free moral agency but also change the kinds of inclinations (desires) he would have? Or is it impossible to manipulate a person's desires in that way (even though they don't exist yet, and won't if you don't make them).

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Isn’t that the most obvious form of determinism?

It's determinism whatever way you slice it, since if God really did have the control to change whatever He liked about how creation would turn out, it seems logically inescapable that He chose what He wanted.

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I don’t believe that God built any kind of control into who responds rightly or wrongly.

I don't think He put in an override switch or attached marionette strings or any such thing, but I think He [i]had[/i] total control over what went into "the black box" and knew exactly what each configuration would do (and, for that matter, He had control over the standards of what constitutes a "right" or "wrong" response, or did He?). He doesn't break it open and change things later (with the possible exception of that whole "take out the heart of stone, put in the heart of flesh" matter), because He doesn't have to.

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If I did that would make God as guilty of sin as He is creditworthy of virtue.

Why? Why would God incur the guilt for a man's actions? Why does He get the credit for man's virtuous actions? The answer to the second question is a good lead on the first: God gets the glory for man's virtuous actions because man could not act virtuously without God's [i]personal, [u]within-time[/u] involvement[/i] (i.e. the indwelling of the Holy Spirit), [i]not[/i] because God foreordained that the man perform the virtuous action. At least that's the theory I just came up with, and I expect at least a dozen holes shot through it by nightfall :-)

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A man achieves virtue by cooperating with God, and ‘achieves’ sin by refusing to cooperate with God. In each case the choice is man’s, as a result virtue is commended and sin condemned.

I don't think I disagree with this, odd as that may seem.

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[i]"God's foreknowledge sees everything and forces nothing. It leaves the liberty of the human will untouched. Whatever is foretold by God will be done by man; but nothing will be done by man because it is foretold by God."[/i]

God's merely foreknowing something doesn't force anybody involved to do anything, no, they do it out of their own free will, which is quite in line with their nature.

And then the question that comes to mind, that I think we've been walking around: did God determine their nature?

 2004/12/29 21:04Profile
Svineklev
Member



Joined: 2004/12/14
Posts: 74


 Re:

Ron--

I wasn't trying to be precise in pitting reason against desire (superego vs. id, perhaps?)

All I was saying is that something else is involved. You yourself talk about "finding the strength." One doesn't have to [i]find[/i] anything if it all comes down to what is the inherently stronger desire.

It is possible to be both good Greek philosophy [i]and[/i] NT truth. They clearly overlap a great deal. But yes, I opt for Scripture over Aristotle whenever there is a conflict.

--Eric

PS: I thought it was a Brit who mentioned Ben and Jerry's earlier in this thread. At any rate, yes, it's basically designer ice cream.

 2004/12/30 0:28Profile
Svineklev
Member



Joined: 2004/12/14
Posts: 74


 Re:

Ron (via Keith)--

Protestant orthodoxy states that justification is "by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone." It is not simply by grace through faith...one needs to include the solas.

I don't agree that Wesleyans/Arminians don't comply with grace alone, but they do sometimes compromise it, leaving the door open for some to slip into Semi-Pelagianism and worse.

Oh, and Keith--

I won't shoot you full of holes, or at least not yet. I think you're quite right that God's foreordaining (in sanctification) has more to do with effectual providential aid than anything approaching deterministic coercion. In theological parlance you're talking "synergism." Nothing radical there.

--Eric

 2004/12/30 0:49Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Hi Keith

Quote:
But God, knowing who would choose to go if He chose this particular way in which they could go, and also knowing how everyone would respond to any other plan of salvation, chose to do it this particular way, and thus accepted (chose, no?) this particular set of consequences.


Isn’t that mixing up foreknowledge and predestination. I may acquire the foreknowledge that a burglar is going to break into my house but that is surely not the same as predetermining the burglary. To accept is not the same as to choose. Relating to marriage the Lord said ‘God allowed you to divorce your wives’. That is not the same as God saying ‘knowing your hard hearts and the circumstances you would go through, I [i]choose[/i] divorce.’

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On that last part even I am wary, but is it not evident that God considers something (i.e. justice, free will, etc) more important than everyone going to Heaven?


It is not any of these aspects that is ‘more important’. It is the nature of God that is immutable. God’s love is a holy love; both forensic justice and power to choose are expressions of that holy love. We must not set one facet of God’s character against another.

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Here lies the one possible exception I currently see to a de facto God-chooses view of Justification : One of my assumptions in the above paragraph is that there were other ways in which God could have reconciled sinners to Him, specifically other ways in which more could have been saved.


I have never seen another theory of atonement which ‘made sense’. As much as I understand Finney I would take a solid stand against his Moral Government theory, although there are organisations which teach it strongly, and a high profile UK evangelical has just drawn some fire by embracing it. C S Lewis’ preoccupation with ‘ransom to the devil’ was always a non-starter

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Honestly, could He not have arranged things such that Lucifer would not want to rebel? Made him a bit different, fiddled with a few circumstances, gave him a different role? This is a genuine question:


I recognise it as a genuine question. My answer would be ‘yes’ God could have made him ‘less’ than He made him. God could have made man ‘less’ than He made Him, But would He then have been able to say ‘let us make man in our image and likeness?’ Psalm 8 asks the question what is ‘man’? And answers it gloriously; there is no ‘sin’ in the Psalm. This is man as he was created; anything less than this would not have been ‘man’. Part of his intrinsic glory is that ‘he is crowned’. Man was created to be a servant-king. His serving was to be his own choice and not hard-wired.

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I don't think He put in an override switch or attached marionette strings or any such thing, but I think He had total control over what went into "the black box" and knew exactly what each configuration would do (and, for that matter, He had control over the standards of what constitutes a "right" or "wrong" response, or did He?). He doesn't break it open and change things later (with the possible exception of that whole "take out the heart of stone, put in the heart of flesh" matter), because He doesn't have to.


You are picturing a very ‘straight line’ universe here, with only one possible route. This is what I mean by determinism and I can’t accept it. Again, I agree that He knew what each configuration would do, but foreknowledge is not predetermination.

Quote:
Why? Why would God incur the guilt for a man's actions? Why does He get the credit for man's virtuous actions? The answer to the second question is a good lead on the first: God gets the glory for man's virtuous actions because man could not act virtuously without God's personal, within-time involvement (i.e. the indwelling of the Holy Spirit), not because God foreordained that the man perform the virtuous action. At least that's the theory I just came up with, and I expect at least a dozen holes shot through it by nightfall


I saw that coming. ;-) which is why I expressed it the way I did. It is all about cooperation or defiance. Sin in this is seen to have at its heart ‘I will do what I want to do’. Faith, utter trust in the revelation, is cooperation with God’s will and power. Sin, is quite otherwise. At it’s heart there is a clash of wills. There could be no human sin if God had not created man’s moral ability to choose. There would just have been the inexorable line by line outworking of the programme.

Quote:
And then the question that comes to mind, that I think we've been walking around: did God determine their nature?


He created their nature, but left room for it to change as a result of events. That ‘room to change’ is the essence of humanity. It is what makes repentance possible, although I believe repentance is an expression of faith which has believed the word spoken. Romans actually says that man was ‘reconstituted’ as a result of Gen 3. [b] For as indeed by the disobedience of the one man the many have been constituted sinners, so also by the obedience of the one the many will be constituted righteous. (Rom 5:19 Darby)[/b] ‘constituted’ here is [i] kathistEmi[/i] which to fix in place permanently. ie. Kata – thoroughly, histEmi – to place in a specific position. Man’s ‘constitution’ changed when Sin entered; this is uniquely expressed in Rom 5:12ff, and is changed again in ‘regeneration’.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2004/12/30 3:40Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Eric

Quote:
[b]Eric writes:[/b]All I was saying is that something else is involved. You yourself talk about "finding the strength." One doesn't have to find anything if it all comes down to what is the inherently stronger desire.


I can't find the context but I frequently use the word 'find' to mean discover, and I frequently use discover as with the KJV to mean uncover. This strength would not require searching only uncovering.

Prayer is often the means of 'uncovering' the stronger desires, 'as in not my will, but Thine..' There is a lovely old hymn 'My Goal is God Himself' which has a stanza...

[i] So faith bounds forward to its goal in God,
And love can trust her Lord to lead her there;
Upheld by Him, my soul is following hard,
[b]'Till God hath full fulfilled my deepest prayer.[/b][/i]
In the believer there is a prayer 'deeper' than 'just get me out of this'. It is found in prayer as our God conscious spirit is uncovered. I sometimes pray along the lines of 'these are my conscious request' but underneath all these there is a 'deeper' prayer... Father, the hour has come, glorify Thy Son.

[b]For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (Phi 1:19-20 KJV)[/b] That's the 'deepest' prayer which arises from 'deeper' desires.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2004/12/30 3:44Profile
philologos
Member



Joined: 2003/7/18
Posts: 6566
Reading, UK

 Re:

Quote:
[b]Eric writes:[/b] Protestant orthodoxy states that justification is "by grace alone through faith alone on account of Christ alone." It is not simply by grace through faith...one needs to include the solas.


Hi Eric,

Then Protestant orthodoxy is adding to the scripture to fine tune its own creed.

[b]For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Eph 2:8 KJV)[/b]

I see no need to tweak Paul here.


_________________
Ron Bailey

 2004/12/30 3:50Profile
RobertW
Member



Joined: 2004/2/12
Posts: 4636
Independence, Missouri

 Re:

Quote:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Eph 2:8 KJV)



For by grace:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (Titus 2:11)

are ye saved through faith

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3)

Both the grace of God that bringeth salvation and the faith to receive it are over all. The grace that saves by faith is brought to us by the agent of that grace- the Spirit of Grace, whom we can resist. The Spirit we can resist can also be grieved, quenched, done despite to, and blasphemed.

I wonder why we never read a creed- Sola Ruach HaKodesh? Seems to me that that says it all. :-)

God Bless,

-Robert


_________________
Robert Wurtz II

 2004/12/30 8:12Profile





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