A Biblical Critique of Calvinism
Part 1a: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation

June 30, 2012


by Dr. Michael A. Cox, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Pryor, OK
and author of Not One Little Child: A Biblical Critique of Calvinism


This is the beginning of a series of articles by Dr. Cox, with a Biblical critique of Calvinism drawn in part from his book Not One Little Child.


The Bible teaches that whosoever will may come to Christ in repentance and faith. As we will see, Scriptures related to this doctrine are numerous through all the genres of the Biblical text. This article will address the references from the Old Testament through the book of Acts.

A Psalm of David teaches that the Lord responds to all who call upon Him in truth (Ps. 145:18) and that the Lord hears the cry of those who fear Him and promises to save them (Ps. 145:19). Jeremiah recorded God’s words when He said that even heathen nations who repent and turn to Him can become His people (Jer. 12:16). Joel registered God’s words when He said that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be delivered (Joel 2:32). These Scriptures accurately summarize the testimony of the Old Testament regarding “whosoever will.”

Then, the New Testament champions this doctrine unmistakably, providing a plethora of scriptural testimony which harmonizes perfectly with the Old Testament witness. The words of Jesus declared that God says to no person “seek in vain,” but “seek and you shall find” (Matt. 7:7). He promised that all who ask receive (Matt. 7:8). Notice that asking precedes reception. Man clearly has a role in the salvation event, and it is requesting the Lordship of Jesus Christ by faith coupled with repentance. Jesus guaranteed that He would confess before His Father in heaven everyone who confesses that He is the Christ (Matt. 10:32). Jesus also averred that all humans are more valuable than any animal (Matt. 12:12). He asserted that whoever humbles himself or herself in childlike faith to Himself is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4). Jesus also taught that everyone who abandons all for Him, making Him his or her top priority, shall inherit eternal life (Matt. 19:29). Further, we read that the invitation to join the bridal feast is issued to all (Matt. 22:9). And, finally, in the Gospel of Matthew, we learn that whoever humbles himself will be exalted (Matt. 23:12).

In the Gospel of Mark Jesus said that whoever does the will of God is His brother or sister (Mark 3:35). He also declared that anyone can come to Him through self-denial (Mark 8:34), and that whoever loses his life for the sake of Christ actually saves it (Mark 8:35).

In the Gospel of Luke we learn by way of angelic proclamation that Jesus brings great joy for all people (Luke 2:10). Moreover, Luke interpreted the ministry of John the Baptist to be a fulfillment of Isaiah’s earlier prophecy that a voice in the wilderness would come announcing that all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Luke 3:6). This idea is echoed in the words of Jesus when He said that everyone who comes to Him and hears His words and acts upon them is as wise as a builder constructing his house on a solid foundation (Luke 6:47). Luke, like the other synoptists, repeated the words of Jesus which pledge that any who hear and do the word of God are related to Christ (Luke 8:21). Luke reiterated the words of Jesus which affirm that anyone can come to Christ (Luke 9:23), that whoever loses his life shall save it (Luke 9:24), that everyone who asks receives, that he who seeks finds, to those who knock the door shall be opened (Luke 11:10), that God’s Holy Spirit is given to those who ask (Luke 11:13), that everyone confessing Christ is admitted into heaven (Luke 12:8), that all who deny Christ are denied access to heaven (Luke 12:9), and that, once again, whoever loses his life shall preserve it (Luke 17:33).

I love all of the books in the Bible, but I have a particular fondness for the writings of John and Paul. John the Apostle wrote that John the Baptist came to witness to the light that all might believe (John 1:7). He also certified that as many as receive Jesus become children of God (John 1:12). John the Apostle even recorded the revelation from John the Baptist which asserted that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus told Nicodemus that God loves the world and that whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus further explained to Nicodemus that God sent Him into the world to save all the world, not just some (John 3:17), and that he who believes in the Son has eternal life (John 3:36). Jesus promised to grant eternal life to all who ask (John 4:10), and that all who hear and believe are given life (John 5:24). Clearly then, personal belief triggers the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, Jesus wants all to believe in Him whom God sent (John 6:29), and He promises that God gives the water of life to all who ask Him (John 7:37).

Luke recorded Simon Peter’s explanation of what happened on the day of Pentecost. Peter saw Pentecost as a fulfillment of Joel’s earlier prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) which announced that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Acts 2:21). Peter’s racism and redemptive exclusivity required a special revelatory vision from God before the impetuous apostle could finally see that God does not show partiality regarding salvation (Acts 10:34). Peter, therefore, preached that, in every nation, those who fear God and do what is right, i.e., place faith in Christ, are welcomed by God (Acts 10:35). Then, Luke wrote concerning the converted Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, whom we know as the Apostle Paul. Paul, in an early sermon, affirmed that through Christ everyone who believes is freed (Acts 13:39). Paul cited Isaiah (Isa. 49:6) in asserting that God wants salvation, not just the gospel, spread to the ends of the earth (Acts 13:47). In his sermon on Mars Hill, Paul proclaimed that God has declared that all people everywhere should repent (Acts 17:30), pointing out that proof has been furnished to all men by way of the resurrection of Christ (Acts 17:31). Lastly, Luke provided helpful insight in this scriptural examination of Calvinism when he asserted that some were persuaded to believe in Christ but that others would not believe (Acts 28:24). Notice the presence of persuasion and personal belief, as well as the obvious fact that the situation was not that some could not believe, as if they were not part of the elect, but that they would not believe, which stresses personal accountability and rejection of the grace of God.


The next article in this series will continue tracing the inclusive invitation of the gospel through the pages of the New Testament.


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Steve Martin

I think it is a difficult thing to change one’s mind on this subject once we’ve learned it one way. I know it was for me.

I do believe that we start off with the wrong anthropology. We believe there is something within the human, some spark of goodness that is able to choose God, to make a decision for Him, to close the deal of salvation. But this is not really Biblical. When one reads the first few chapters of Romans, one gets the opposite picture. Of a creature totally lost, totally dead in sin, unable and unwilling to choose God. Given up to their sin, bound in it.

When Jesus speaks with Nicodemus, He tells him that “he has to be born again…but it has to come from above.” We can’t do it. Jesus tells the Jews that “no one CAN come to me except he be drawn (compelled is a more accurate translation) by the Father”.
Jesus siad, “You didn’t choose me, I chose you.” The gospel of John tells us quite clearly that “we are born NOT of the will of man…but of God.” Jesus told Peter the same thing, “Blessed are you Simon Peter for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you BUT my Father in Heaven.”

When we tie those verses to proper anthropology of being BOUND in sin, and dead in our sins and trespasses, then the proper picture emerges of a creature that is unable to save himself, but a real God who is able to save them, and does so by creating faith in them (“faith is a gift of God”), when and where He wills.

Our wills are not the answer to the problem…but are the problem. God’s will is to save sinners. To justify the ungodly in Christ Jesus. It puts the onus back onto God (where it always was to begin with and where it belongs) and it preserves God’s freedom to be God.

I did not not believe this for a long, long time. But now I do, and I believe it to be biblical, and the correct understanding.

Thank you.

    hariette

    Steve, You wrote: “I do believe that we start off with the wrong anthropology.”
    Are you saying we need to understand the gospel message by first looking at anthropology? thanks, selahV

      Cb scott

      SelahV,

      I just started off by being strongly convicted by the Holy Spirit that I was a wretched sinner before a just and righteous God and that if I did not repent and believe the gospel of Jesus I was going to fry forever in hell.

      As far as the “Ant” thropology thing was concerned, I had a contract with Orkin, so I was not too worried about ants or any other kind of bug.

        hariette

        CB….
        Odd… I started out the same as you. I heard the Gospel preached and the Holy Spirit convicted me of the same thing and by faith I believed the words I heard. I too saw my sin as not against those in this world I had harmed but against Holy God who loved me so much He gave His only begotten Son to save me and give me everlasting life. It was so hard to comprehend such love. Even after all these years of knowing Him I quiver as I consider His love. Yet, His Word confirms it and His Spirit ascertains it. Again and again and again. For this I am eternally grateful. selahV

        BTW, my kitchen counter is a-buzz with ants. I suppose I should, also, call Orkin. However, I shall try Raid first. I think it best. Much simpler. :)

      Steve Martin

      Hariette,

      I think we need to understand the biblical view of human ability and desire when it comes to the things of God, before God acts (through His Word) to change our dead hearts.

      The Roman Catholics believe that we have a bent (habitus) towards God, from birth. But the Scriptures paint a different picture. We are dead in our sins and trespasses and we are bound in (to) sin.

      Where one starts their understing of the human will determines the course and focus of their Christian walk.

      Thanks, Hariette.

        Cb scott

        Steve Martin,

        Actually “the course and focus of their Christian walk” begins with “not my will, but Thy will be done, dear Lord.”

        hariette

        Hello Steve, thanks for answering. I am sorry, but unlike you, I had no “need to understand the biblical view of human ability and desire when it” came to the things of God before He acted in my life. I heard the Gospel preached, I believed what I heard and trusted by faith that the Lord Jesus died to save me from my sin. And He did. The Holy Spirit confirmed it.

        I did not know, nor do I really care, what Roman Catholics believe. The Holy Spirit of God guided me and taught me through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. I did not need to “understand” everything. I started with Jesus. I needed Jesus. I had Jesus. My desire was not to understand me or my will but Him and His will. And this sweet little 85 year-old lady named Mrs. Burke, gave me the first verse I memorized after I was saved. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, lean not unto thine own understanding, but in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

        When I did not understand, I trusted. And in every way I knew how I acknowledged Him. I told people what He did for me. I changed, inside out. I became a better mother, wife, and daughter-in-law. I walked away from friends who refused to hear or understand why I was walking a new walk in a new way. I no longer wanted my way but God’s. I hungered after Him and He fed me. He gave me wonderful Christian mentors and sisters and brothers to teach me His Word. I devoured His Word. As I “acknowledged” Him, He directed my path. Always has. Philippians 1:6 assures me He always will.

        It’s all quite simple to me, Steve. He is enough; His grace is sufficient. I know apart from Him I am nothing and in Him I have all I need or want. He is always with me…even to the ends of the age.

        The Holy Spirit nudges me each and every time I step out of sync. Every time. I may not ever understand anthropology or what you think I need to understand about the human will or desire, but I’m glad God didn’t wait till I understood all that before He walked with me. I might not be alive…most likely not, when I consider my lifestyle back then.

        Blessings to you. selahV

          Steve Martin

          Hariette,

          It sounds like you have an excellent understanding of the human’s lack of ability to choose (God) and God’s all encompasing ability to choose us, while we are dead in our sins and trespasses.

          A great many in the church today, do not have such an understanding and are relying on something that ‘they do’, to complete the deal with God. This is unbiblical and harmful. Rome believes as such, and the reason that I mentioned it is because many who disagree with the Catholic Church on doctrine , actaully have much the same theology. ‘ A lot of God…and a bit of me’.

          Thank you.

          Cb scott

          Steve Martin,

          Are you still in the Lutheran church that is part of the ELCA? (The liberal ELCA that has abandoned the Word of God as the inerrant revelation of Holy God to humanity.)

Ron Hale

Dr. Cox,
Some time ago, I read your book Not One Little Child and have recommended it to several people. I look forward to your articles and the helpful balance that you bring to this ongoing conversation in our convention. Blessings!

Stephen Garrett

Dear Dr. Cox:

Spurgeon was a Calvinist and he would have no problem accepting what you wrote. What you are saying is not objectionable to me as a Calvinist. I do not affirm that new birth precedes faith but believe that they are concurrent and arguments over which come first is not fruitful. I have just posted a couple postings on this in my blog.

God is the Savior of all men but specially of those who believe. (I Tim. 4: 10)

Blessings,

Stephen

Thomas Lusk

Brother Cox,

Thank you for your very insightful and scriptural approach to this subject. It refreshes my soul to see God and my Savior Jesus portrayed as a loving God who does not want anyone to perish. He did not plan for anyone to perish, instead He decided before the foundations of the world to send His Son to die a horrible death shedding His blood for all. He paid the debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay. That debt payment was made for all. God only limits Himself in that He leaves the choice with each person when they come to know they are sinners to “call upon His name.”

How frightening it is today that a perversion of His intent is being flooded out on the SBC and is taking hold. Yes, I know we have problems and have people who are soft converts so-to-speak, but Christ is our final Judge. Each on of us will answer to Him. Each one of us have been appointed “priests” before Him. Phariseism did not work in the first century and it will not today. In fact, Jesus anger was unleashed at the pharisees. To me, Calvinism smacks of modern day Phariseism. Several Pharisees got saved, including Saul/Paul, but the Pharisees and their doctrine never saved anyone.

Jesus Saves, Jesus Saves, I praise God that Jesus came into my heart/innermost being. John 7:38- “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water. NASB (KJV-belly, NKJV-heart)

Wherever His Spirit is inside of me, I thank God He is there.
Thank you Dr. Cox for reinforcing the “Word of Life.”

    Cb scott

    Thomas Lusk,

    I realize that there are different perspectives as to the subject of God’s gracious savings or repentant sinners and we all have strong opinions.

    Nonetheless, is it necessary to call Calvinism a “perversion”? Yet, maybe that is not what you meant by this statement: “How frightening it is today that a perversion of His intent is being flooded out on the SBC and is taking hold…”

    Maybe I am misunderstanding you. Hopefully, I am. If I did not, I hope you reconsider the implications of your statement.

    Tim Altmix

    Only those who do not believe in the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men would presume God is not in control of what is taking place within the Southern Baptist Convention. He is not simply using what some men are doing to accomplish His will, He is working in these men, giving them ENERGY, so that it conforms with His will (Ep 1:11).

      Lydia

      Isn’t that what Jim Jones said about Jonestown?

        Les Prouty

        Leave it to Lydia. Right on time.

        Tim Altmix

        Lydia, you don’t believe God was in control in Jonestown? (Proverbs 16:4). Blessings///

          Lydia

          God told them to drink the poison kool aid? Tim, history is full of guys who made the same chilling declaration you did above. ‘God is on our side. God is raising up men to do this or that’.

          Your words have the exact same roots of tyranny to them. History is full of chilling stories of what man has done in the Name of God.

          I believe God is Sovereign over His own Sovereignty. Which means He is perfectly Sovereign enough to allow us to do some really evil and stupid things.

          I am just thankful it is not the 16th century or I would already be drowned in the Limmat with a tombstone strapped to my back.

          Les Prouty

          Lydia,

          No God didn’t tell them to drink the kool aid. How utterly silly.

          Read and study Habakuk and those Chaldeans. Then renter the discussion. You’ll be better equipped.

          Lydia

          “No God didn’t tell them to drink the kool aid. How utterly silly.

          Read and study Habakuk and those Chaldeans. Then renter the discussion. You’ll be better equipped.”

          Les, I do not live within a Theocracy. I live in a new Covenant with Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit He promised.

          I do understand the Calvinist bend toward a Theocracy…it is after all what Calvin was going for in Geneva.

          Les Prouty

          “Les, I do not live within a Theocracy”

          Neither do I. But the OT still matters where I live.

          Lydia

          “Neither do I. But the OT still matters where I live”

          Well, of course it matters. Not sure how you mean though in terms of Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

          Les Prouty

          Lydia,

          “Well, of course it matters. Not sure how you mean though in terms of Jesus and the indwelling Holy Spirit.”

          May I remind you then? On the Jonestown matter and kool aid. In response to you saying that God didn’t make them drink it, I replied of course not. The discussion was on God’s absolute sovereignty. Was He in control at Jonestown? Remember?

          I suggested you “Read and study Habakuk and those Chaldeans.”

          The reference was to God’s sovereignty over the events in Habakuk. I’ll bring it to you here.

          ” O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
          and you will not hear?
          Or cry to you “Violence!”
          and you will not save?
          Why do you make me see iniquity,
          and why do you idly look at wrong?
          Destruction and violence are before me;
          strife and contention arise.
          So the law is paralyzed,
          and justice never goes forth.
          For the wicked surround the righteous;
          so justice goes forth perverted.
          (Habakkuk 1:2-4 ESV)”

          To which God replied:

          ” “Look among the nations, and see;
          wonder and be astounded.
          For I am doing a work in your days
          that you would not believe if told.
          For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
          that bitter and hasty nation,
          who march through the breadth of the earth,
          to seize dwellings not their own.
          They are dreaded and fearsome;
          their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
          Their horses are swifter than leopards,
          more fierce than the evening wolves;
          their horsemen press proudly on.
          Their horsemen come from afar;
          they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
          They all come for violence,
          all their faces forward.
          They gather captives like sand.
          At kings they scoff,
          and at rulers they laugh.
          They laugh at every fortress,
          for they pile up earth and take it.
          Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
          guilty men, whose own might is their god!”
          (Habakkuk 1:5-11 ESV)”

          Death and destruction according to God’s plan. He was in control then and in Jonestown and earthquakes, etc. That does not mean He actively DID those things. He does not need to. For instance, the Chaldeans. God did not have to make them do what they did. Their own wicked hearts led them to do those things and guess who God holds responsible? The Chaldeans:

          ” Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say,
          “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own—
          for how long?—
          and loads himself with pledges!”
          Will not your debtors suddenly arise,
          and those awake who will make you tremble?
          Then you will be spoil for them.
          Because you have plundered many nations,
          all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you,
          for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
          to cities and all who dwell in them.
          “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house,
          to set his nest on high,
          to be safe from the reach of harm!
          You have devised shame for your house
          by cutting off many peoples;
          you have forfeited your life.
          For the stone will cry out from the wall,
          and the beam from the woodwork respond.
          “Woe to him who builds a town with blood
          and founds a city on iniquity!
          Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts
          that peoples labor merely for fire,
          and nations weary themselves for nothing?
          For the earth will be filled
          with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
          as the waters cover the sea.
          “Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink—
          you pour out your wrath and make them drunk,
          in order to gaze at their nakedness!
          You will have your fill of shame instead of glory.
          Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision!
          The cup in the LORD’s right hand
          will come around to you,
          and utter shame will come upon your glory!
          The violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
          as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them,
          for the blood of man and violence to the earth,
          to cities and all who dwell in them.
          “What profit is an idol
          when its maker has shaped it,
          a metal image, a teacher of lies?
          For its maker trusts in his own creation
          when he makes speechless idols!
          Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake;
          to a silent stone, Arise!
          Can this teach?
          Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
          and there is no breath at all in it.
          (Habakkuk 2:6-19; Habakkuk 2:20 ESV)
          But the LORD is in his holy temple;
          let all the earth keep silence before him.”
          (Habakkuk 2:6-19; Habakkuk 2:20 ESV)”

          God is absolutely sovereign. Luke reminds us in Acts also of another significant event where evil men carry out to exact detail God’s predetermined plan. Think Judas.

          Les

          Lydia

          “God is absolutely sovereign. Luke reminds us in Acts also of another significant event where evil men carry out to exact detail God’s predetermined plan. Think Judas”

          Les, I think I get it now. You think that some of us do not think God planned anything? That Judas was a surprise to Jesus? That it is an either/or thing with a determinist God and not a both/and situation with a Sovereign God.

          So back to the original point. I do not believe as Tim alluded to that God has decreed and is raising up angry, arrogant YRR guys to take over SBC churches.

          I think His true servants are recognizable because they will be humble, gentle, kind, loving, sacrificial, and would NEVER want to lord it over people. In other words, unlike some Calvinists who comment here think, they ARE able to live out a Christlike, growing in Holiness life now. They will not think it right to “sin boldly”. When I get a chance I will quote some early Christians on this. Very interesting!

          Les Prouty

          Lydia,

          “So back to the original point. I do not believe as Tim alluded to that God has decreed and is raising up angry, arrogant YRR guys to take over SBC churches.”

          Well, maybe Tim was alluding to angry, arrogant YRR guys. His words, though, do not make that very clear:

          “Only those who do not believe in the sovereignty of God in the affairs of men would presume God is not in control of what is taking place within the Southern Baptist Convention. He is not simply using what some men are doing to accomplish His will, He is working in these men, giving them ENERGY, so that it conforms with His will (Ep 1:11).”

          Maybe he was referring to the angry and venomous and arrogant anti-Calvinism men and women who are quite active on these blogs and in SBC life. Hard to tell.

          In any case, I was simply making the point that God is absolutely sovereign over all things in either first or second causes and in things we even find deplorable…e.g. Jonestown and Calvary.

          Tim Altmix

          No Lydia, God didn’t “tell” them to drink the kool-ade. God worked in that situation like He works EVERY situation after the counsel of His will (Ep 1:11). He made them “want” to drink it – the same way He quickens the dead spirit in an unregenerate sinner and makes him believe (John 6:29). It is God’s work a man believes, not man’s. If God doesn’t work in a man, he will never believe.

          Tim Altmix

          Les, God is working in both parties to accomplish Will. Each individual will still be held accountable for the methods he uses and any (if any) hatred, vitriol, or compassion. Regardless, just as the Pharisees and Pilate will still be held accountable for their part in our Savior’s crucifixion, it was still God’s plan (Acts 2:23, 4:28).

Randall Cofield

To “A Biblical Critique of Calvinism Part 1a: The Inclusivity of the Gospel Invitation,” this Calvinist says a hearty “Amen!”

Soli Deo Gloria

Bill

To all those who post on the comments section of blogs and articles:

Can we allow for disagreement without demonizing or belittling those who disagree?

I value and am instructed by a good discussion, even a passionate one, but it seems that most of what I am reading lately (especially in comments sections) is not helpful. Instead of talking to one another we are talking at and past one another. Instead of conversing, many are campaigning. Instead of reasoning, many are railing.

This is not only wearisome and unhelpful but man times crosses into sinful slander. Discuss… debate, even, if that is what you want to call it, but stop with the oneupmansship. Stop accusing and misrepresenting and assuming and love each other as we labor alongside one another. Even when I disagree, when I lovingly understand my brother’s heart, I am edified and instructed. More than that, God is honored.

[disclaimer: this is not a response to this article or the previous comments but a burden from the “controversy” in general.]

JW

Yeah, the problem with this is that everybody argues against what they think Calvinist convictions SHOULD lead to. All the calvinists affirm a sincere offer of the gospel to every living soul. All the calvinists claim that ANY who believe and repent will be saved. And still people try to debunk calvinism by showing the universal offer of the gospel. What they SHOULD be doing is simply accusing us of inconsistency. It is completely fair for them to try and argue that our doctrine ought to lead to a denial of a free gospel and therefore we are inconsistent. I disagree, but that is at least a fair arguement. What is not fair is when they say, “Because we think your doctrine ought to lead to that, therefore we will accuse you of teaching it.” Honesty and graciousness on the part of anti-calvinists demand that the charge against us to be lowered FROM a denial of the free offer of the gospel, TO merely being inconsistent in our thoughts. Beyond that is to accuse us falsely, to ignore what we continuosly claim as our view point, and to go absolutely nowhere in a discussion.

    Randall Cofield

    Well said.

Carl Peterson

Nothing really in this part of the article that a Calvinist can’t affirm. Calvinist believe that whosoever will believe will be saved. The problem is who will believe. Also the all passages Calvinists can affirm. It is clear that the refers often to “all who believe” or “all who put their faith in Jesus” etc.

Was this part of the article supposed to be against Calvinism? If so then it displays a misunderstanding of Calvinism.

    Leslie Puryear

    The same old mantra “you don’t understand Calvinism” is a tiresome inadequate defense of one’s beliefs. As a former Calvinist, this post as well preceding posts reflect a thorough understanding of Calvinism.

    The Original Les

      Joshua T.

      Les,

      Surely you are kidding right? I’ve never met a Calvinist who denied the openness of the Gospel. If your past “Calvinism” taught such a thing then it was neither from Calvin nor was it Biblical. This kind of mudslinging is hurtful to the church.

      There are misunderstandings on both sides of this discussion. When they are pointed out we need to effectually listen not just nod our heads and carry on.

      – Joshua

        Leslie Puryear

        Joshua,

        So, as a Calvinist, you are saying that anyone can be saved, including the non-elect?

        The Original Les

          Joshua T

          Is that the definition of the gospel? That anyone can be saved?

          Does it not include a prerequisite of faith? And on top of that require a faith that produces the fruit stemming from repentance?

          From God’s prospective can “anyone be saved”? Does He not foreknow that many will reject Him? Why should my position be any different than His?

          But I preach Christ crucified according to the Scriptures. Buried according to the Scriptures and risen again according to the Scriptures. Please let us all agree on that.

      Carl Peterson

      Les,

      Sorry but I would not post what I did if I did not believe it was true. You might not like it but that is your problem. Not mine. Do you believe that Calvinist do not believe that “whosoever will believe (put their faith in Christ) will be saved?”

        Leslie Puryear

        Nice try, Carl, but I’m still waiting on Joshua to answer my question. The options are real simple: yes or no. I would love to hear your answer too.

Mike Davis

Moreover, Jesus wants all to believe in Him whom God sent (John 6:29),…

I don’t disagree with that statement, nor do I disagree that “whosoever will” is called to repentance and faith. But there is no “all” in John 6: 29 and the thesis statement for the passage which includes the verse is found in John 6: 37, which was not included in your proof-texts. Neither was John 6: 44 or John 6: 65 which clearly balance the general call by defining “whosover will” as the one whose repentance is granted by the Father and who is drawn by the Father.

Luke provided helpful insight in this scriptural examination of Calvinism when he asserted that some were persuaded to believe in Christ but that others would not believe (Acts 28:24).

Well, obviously Luke is not one of the Remonstrants since they did not emerge for sixteen more centuries, and he could not be addressing Calvinism. And Luke 28:24 could be used as a proof-text for either position since you would still have to support why some were persuaded and others would not believe.

Notice the presence of persuasion and personal belief, as well as the obvious fact that the situation was not that some could not believe, as if they were not part of the elect, but that they would not believe, which stresses personal accountability and rejection of the grace of God.

Except that you agree and once they are saved, their “free will” goes away and they cannot not believe. At that point in time grace becomes irresistible according to the Traditionalist construct. ;^)

——————————————————————————–

    Mike Davis

    Sorry, I wrote

    And Luke 28:24 could be used as a proof-text for either position …

    There is no Luke 28: 24. I meant Acts 28:24 (also written by Luke).

    Don Johnson

    Mike,

    The key verse is the previous verse, Act 28:23.

    It says Paul was “persuading them concerning Jesus.” I would like to know what a Calvinist think this means. According to Calvinist, man in dead and incapable of understanding anything spiritual. How does a Calvinist who believes in “irresistible grace” persuade a spiritually dead man?

      Bill G.

      While calvinists believe that regeneration is of the Holy Spirit, we also believe that God uses means. The means by which God regenerates a dead sinner is through the proclamation of the Word of God. “How can they hear without a preacher?”

      Believers are called to proclaim the gospel with the goal of persuading others to faith in Christ… this is the means by which God calls sinners to himself. This is the means by which the Holy Spirit opens eyes, awakens hearts, draws sinners, and grants repentance.

      Les Prouty

      Carl, it’s very easy for a Calvinist.mwe believe that we do the persuading and urging and general calling to repent and believe and we totally trust that God will move in a person’s heart and awaken that spiritually dead person so they can see the kingdom and trust and believe. If God does not do that, the person walks away rejecting the gospel. Perhaps he will come to faith later when another preacher calls him, or perhaps later at home or in the car God will flood his soul with light. We don’t know.

      Read Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and see Calvinistic persuasion of an excellent type.

      Les Prouty

      And what Bill G said.

        Don Johnson

        Les,

        So are you saying the Calvinist preaches to a dead person who is incapable of understanding or even hearing what is said, is then hopefully regenerated at some point and magically somehow remembers and understands what had been said at some previous time.

        If God regenerates a person before he has faith to believe, how much persuading is necessary for one to believe after being regenerated?

          Les Prouty

          Yes we preach to dead people. Who do you preach to? Spiritually alive people?

          And yes we preach hoping and praying that God would flood the soul of the hearer. He has said, after all, that we are to preach the gospel. We are not trying to use clever methods of persuasion as men count cleverness. We persuade using the scriptures, trusting that it is God who saves when and where He pleases. There is no magic about it. It is all Holy Spirit wrought.

          “If God regenerates a person before he has faith to believe, how much persuading is necessary for one to believe after being regenerated?”

          He does in fact regenerate so that the newly spiritually alive person can with his newly freed will choose Christ and repent. How much persuading? I have no idea because it is God who saves when and where He pleases. Sometimes with little persuasion and sometimes with much, even years!

          Don Johnson

          Les,

          A person can be a child of God for years and even know it. Interesting!

          Don Johnson

          Les,

          I should have said and “NOT” even know it.

          Les Prouty

          Don,

          “A person can be a child of God for years and even know it. Interesting”

          That’s not what I said. Are you actually reading what I wrote?

          Look, we Calvinists have said this thousands of times just in the last few weeks. We preach Christ and call sinners to repent and believe. We 100 % leave the saving position to God since we know that He and He alone saves. A spiritually dead person cannot see the kingdom of God. He cannot discern spiritual things. He is spiritually blind. He is spiritually deaf. Oh he can hear the preacher talking. But he cannot truly understand it unless and until God invades him and regenerates him and awakens him and opens his eyes…births him. Then he chooses Christ. He exercises faith. He repents. Because he was blind and now he sees.

          It is that simple. Sometimes He saves a sinner the very first time he is presented with the gospel. Sometimes not. Like me. I heard the gospel explained many times. Preachers tried to persuade me. This was numerous over years. Many years. Why didn’t I just exercise my will any one of those hundreds of times the gospel was made in my literal hearing? Because God had not yet invaded me with His Spirit. He had not caused the new birth. That’s it.

          Les Prouty

          You know, The Original Les laments above a mantra he thinks he hears a lot, that we Calvinists think you non Calvinists just don’t understand.

          I think many of you do in fact understand it. But the truth is you just don’t like it.

          So at least try to get intellectually what we say. Then just admit you understand it but don’t like it.

          Les Prouty

          Above I said, “We 100 % leave the saving position to God since we know that He and He alone saves.”

          I meant, “We 100 % leave the saving to God since we know that He and He alone saves.”

      Mike Davis

      Hi Don,
      I have no problem with trying to persuade unbelievers to repent, or with appealing to them or even pleading with them to follow Christ. I have no problem saying they have a choice to make for which they will be eternally accountable. This was certainly Spurgeon’s attitude.

      I also understand that you and I hold different soteriological views and while we can debate them we are not likely to change each other’s mind. I would like Traditionalists to recognize that if it is legitimate for them to hold pre-salvation free will and resistible grace in tension with post-salvation irresistible grace and compatibilism, then it is certainly reasonable for a Calvinist to hold human responsibility and God’s sovereign election in tension.

      Also, I think we should all recognize that both sides have the ability to proof-text all day long, so I think our debate should go deeper into the Scriptures and deal with exegesis of the proof-texts both sides are using. I think Dr Allen’s post on limited atonement several days ago was a good example of doing that.

        Don Johnson

        Mike,

        How can a person make a choice, if he has no understanding of what you said?

        Or does he?

          Mike Davis

          Don,
          Apart from God’s grace the unbeliever will make the wrong choice. But it is still his choice. This is why Calvinists and non-Calvinists all pray as though they were Calvinists when they plead with God to draw the sinner to Himself.

          Lydia

          “Apart from God’s grace the unbeliever will make the wrong choice. But it is still his choice. ”

          But this is technically a sort of double speak from a Calvinist view. How can it be “his choice” when God did not regenerate him to begin with?

          Don Johnson

          Lydia,

          Obviously, double speak is needed sometimes to make it fit. Just because it’s not found in the Bible is of no consequence.

          If Calvin said it, it’s your duty to believe it.

          Don Johnson

          Mike,

          Why would a Calvinist pray for God to draw someone to Himself. In Calvinism if he is one of the “elect” there is 100% chance of being drawn.
          And if he is not one of the “elect” there is a 100% chance he will not be drawn.

          Do you want people to be drawn to Christ who are not the “elect”? If God doesn’t want them saved why should you?

          Les Prouty

          Don,

          Why pray? God said to.

          Les Prouty

          Double speak.

          Right, like the God-Man. Unbelievers call that doublespeak. We call it a mystery.

          You non Calvinists just don’t like God’s absolute sovereignty. Well, you are not entitled to all the answers.

          How can God elect some before the foundation of the world and not others and yet give the choice? Mystery.

          Or, you can just not like His absolute sovereignty.

          Mike Davis

          Don,

          You asked

          Why would a Calvinist pray for God to draw someone to Himself. In Calvinism if he is one of the “elect” there is 100% chance of being drawn.
          And if he is not one of the “elect” there is a 100% chance he will not be drawn.

          I’m going to assume you genuinely want my response and are not just making a rhetorical point. God ordains the ends, the means, and the process. For example, in Job 42: 7-8 God promised to forgive Job’s three friends. It was going to happen. It was promised and predestined. But He also said He would do it in response to Job’s prayer on their behalf. Why did God insist Job pray for them before He would forgive them? I don’t know. I can speculate on a few possible reasons, but one overriding them of the book of Job is that we will never fully understand God. And I’m okay with that (not that I have a choice). Ultimately, we pray, witness, etc because God commands it, and because He wants to do some things He does in response to our prayers.

          Blessings.

          Lydia

          “You non Calvinists just don’t like God’s absolute sovereignty. Well, you are not entitled to all the answers. ”

          I, for one, love God’s Sovereignty. I just don’t define it as we are marionettes and He is the puppet master.

          Don Johnson

          Les & Mike,

          Pray yes, God commands it. He even gives us several things for which to pray.

          Where does He ask us to pray that He might draw someone?

          Just curious, do you also pray for other things that you know to be absolute.

          Do you pray for God to keep being sovereign?
          Do you pray for God to keep being a loving God?
          Do you pray to God not to destroy the world with a flood?
          Do you ask God not to take away your everlasting life?
          Do you ask God not to lie?

          I could go on, but I think you get the point. If you do ask for the above things, then by all means keep asking God to draw people.

          Les Prouty

          “I just don’t define it as we are marionettes and He is the puppet master.”

          Good to hear. Neither do I or any Calvinists here or any I know.

          Les Prouty

          Don,

          You are fond of replying with a question. So may I imitate you?

          “Where does He ask us to pray that He might draw someone?”

          Where does He tell me not to?

          “Do you pray for God to keep being sovereign?
          Do you pray for God to keep being a loving God?
          Do you pray to God not to destroy the world with a flood?
          Do you ask God not to take away your everlasting life?
          Do you ask God not to lie?”

          No. No need. He is God.
          No. No need to. God is love.
          No. He has promised not to.
          No, no, and no.

          Don, your line of thinking here is bordering on silliness. Did our Lord not promise to meet all your needs?

          “”Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
          (Matthew 6:31-33 ESV)”

          And yet He tells us to pray asking, ” Give us this day our daily bread,
          (Matthew 6:11 ESV)”

          Don, God promises to save His elect. He calls us to pray for all men everywhere, which would surely include those we witness to. But again, He does the saving.

          Mike Davis

          Don,

          Again, I am assuming we are genuinely trying to understand each other’s point-of-view even though we are not likely to agree.

          You asked,

          Where does He ask us to pray that He might draw someone?

          Well, for example, it would be difficult to imagine obeying Jude 23 without lots of prayer. Seriously, if you are going to argue that we should not pray for God to draw the lost I think you are going to find yourself out of step with a lot of Traditionalists.

          Just curious, do you also pray for other things you know to be absolute.

          Leaving aside the obvious point that I don’t know which unbelievers will and won’t repent and be saved, I do, in fact, pray for things I know to be absolute. For example, I pray “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

          Also, in John 12:28 Jesus prays “Father, glorify Thy Name.” I don’t think it gets much more absolute than that.

          Blessings.

Carl Peterson

“Lastly, Luke provided helpful insight in this scriptural examination of Calvinism when he asserted that some were persuaded to believe in Christ but that others would not believe (Acts 28:24). Notice the presence of persuasion and personal belief, as well as the obvious fact that the situation was not that some could not believe, as if they were not part of the elect, but that they would not believe, which stresses personal accountability and rejection of the grace of God.”

Sure it is not that they physically cannot believe. I never like to say that men “cannot believe” and I am a Calvinist. The problem is that man is stubborn and rebellious against his God. Anyone could place their faith in Christ and worship him. But will all do this? No. That is something both Calvinists and arminnians can agree. But the real question is how can someone have faith in Christ? What will make the person want to do it? What compels the person to have faith? Everyone can and that is why everyone is condemned apart from Christ. If one could not then that person would have an excuse. But everyone can see God’s creation at the very least.

this of it this way, I can obey God and not sin perfectly. Do I? No. Why not? Because there is a part of me still that wants or chooses to sin. I can choose not to sin but i probably will choose to sin. Calvinism states that everyone can choose Christ and put their faith in Him but only the elect will be united with Christ.

This is a huge difference.

    Don Johnson

    Carl,

    “Calvinism states everyone can choose Christ and put their faith in Him but only the elect will be united with Christ.”

    If everyone can choose Christ and put their faith in Him, does that mean Christ died for them? If He didn’t die for them, there would be nothing to put their faith in.

      Cb scott

      Don Johnson,

      There is something I have been wanting to ask you, if you don’t mind?

      Do you still have that Bren 10 built on the Colt Model 1911 frame you carried while you were starring in Miami Vice?

      If you do, how much do you want for it? I would certainly like to buy it from you if we can come to an agreeable price.

        Don Johnson

        Cb,

        Sorry, I got rid of them along with my sport coats. They were much too drab.

          Cb scott

          Don Johnson,

          I understand, but as I have always said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

          Thanks anyway. I look forward to your next movie. Maybe you can play a Traditionalist on the lamb from a gang of Hyper-Calvinists, led my a mutant Arminian.

          I think every Southern Baptist would pay to watch and NOBTS might even give credit for a paper written on it–in Turabian form, of course.

          Don Johnson

          Cb,

          Great idea,

          I’ll see if I can Bob Hadley and Peter Lumkins to help write the script.

          It’ll be a blockbuster.

          No doubt RC Sproul, John Piper and James White would all give it a hearty thumbs up.

          Bob Hadley

          Don,

          Have your people contact my people and we will see what we can work out…

          No more corroborating with the crimson elephant in the room… the scarlet A… bad vibes there. Very Bad. LOL

          ><>”

Bob Hadley

Carl,

I appreciate your comments but am not sure I can fully accept your last statement here; “Calvinism states that everyone can choose Christ and put their faith in Him but only the elect will be united with Christ.”

When you take the concept of limited atonement (Christ dying for the elect only) and unconditional election (God’s effectual calling of the elect only) and total depravity which also posits total inability, I would say that while your statement might be grammatically correct because the calvinist would differentiate between the words “can” and “will”, the fact that according to calvinist man “will not” also means he “can not” so I would respectfully disagree with the statement referenced above.

Calvinists do not believe “everyone can choose Christ and put their faith in Him but only the elect will be united with Christ.” Please note that I am not challenging YOUR personal position; I am challenging the statement as it relates to the calvinist position as you presented it.

><>”

    Kelly Cook

    Bob –

    That is an excellent and important clarification. Since we seem to be painting one another with very broad brushes these days, it is important to be precise and define terms when we get down to specific points of disagreement. As one who would be called a Calvinist, I do not take issue with any of the scriptures mentioned above or the reality of the general call of all men to repentance and salvation. What I do realize is that sin has crippled the souls of men with the total inability to respond to that call apart from God’s soveriegn electing grace.

    If we talk in terms of “total inability” resulting from “total depravity”, perhaps Romans might make more sense to the Armeneans.

      Don Johnson

      Kelly,

      What verse in Romans states man can’t call upon God?

      I didn’t ask to know how bad man is, I can read that in chapter 3.

      I want to know where it states he can’t call upon God as you’ve stated.

        Randall Cofield

        Don,

        Brother, will a man in the following condition call upon God by an unassisted act of his own will?

        I don’t think he will, and if he will not he cannot. But I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter.

        Ro. 3:10 as it is written:
        “None is righteous, no, not one;
        11 no one understands;
        no one seeks for God.
        12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
        no one does good,
        not even one.”
        13 “Their throat is an open grave;
        they use their tongues to deceive.”
        “The venom of asps is under their lips.”
        14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
        15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
        16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
        17 and the way of peace they have not known.”,
        18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

        Soli Deo Gloria

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          Which one of those verses says a man can’t choose God?

          Who said anything about being unassisted?

        Randall Cofield

        Don,

        Brother, will a man in the following condition call upon God by an unassisted act of his own will?

        Soli Deo Gloria

        Don Johnson

        Randall,

        He is assisted everytime the Bible is preached. It’s called the work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11).

        He does it for everyone in the world who hears the Bible (the Gospel in particular) preached.

        All are able to believe. Not just a preselected group.

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          You said: “All are able to believe.”

          Jesus said:

          Joh 10:26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.

          You said: “Not just a preselected group.”

          Jesus said:

          Jn. 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life….

          Soli Deo Gloria for His great Salvation

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          I know Calvinists love to quote John 10:26-27, but I have never yet met a Calvinist who believes what they actually state.

          Maybe, you’ll be the first. I’ll be able to tell if you believe them from your answer on the RYR.
          If you asnswer

    John

    Are you questioning Carl or are you questioning God.
    Romans 8
    29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

    Bob it is easy to throw darts, but the board you attack is God. You are more than familiar with Romans 8 and 9 why do you attack God through Carl?

      Bob Hadley

      John,

      I am not questioning God. I have a question for you… who does the following verse refer to?

      And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

      Who are the “those” in this passage?

      Oh…. I do not throw darts.

      ><>”

        John

        those = Gods people.

        ? for you Bob:
        Is the Traditional Statement glorifying God or man?

          Cb scott

          The Statement glorifies God: THe Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit.

          Bob Hadley

          those does not include you and me… because it says… And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

          I don’t know about you but I know for a fact I am yet to be glorified. So I do not believe this passage is speaking about those to whom Paul is writing to but rather those who have gone on before them through whom the gospel has been handed down to them as gentiles.

          This language presents a serious challenge to the application of this passage as you have suggested.

          ><>”

          Randall Cofield

          Bob,

          You said:

          So I do not believe this passage is speaking about those to whom Paul is writing to but rather those who have gone on before them

          Does not the conjunction “for” in vs. 29 connect it back to vs. 28? Is not vs. 28 speaking about those to whom Paul is writing?

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Randall Cofield

          John,

          The T.S. (and its defenses) seems to be largely aimed at a defense of the libertarian free will of man.

          If that is the case, then it is exalting man to an infinitely higher status than does Scripture.

          Soli Deo Gloria

          John

          Bob,
          As you ignore the word “predestined” I see how you can ignore the chain. I chose not to pick and choose the words of scripture. I accept all the words.

          those = Gods people.
          That is the answer to your question. If you don’t agree so be it. If you just want to throw darts and not have a conversation expect darts to be thrown back. Although that will not glorify God. You Choose.
          Are Trads about Glorifying God or Man?

    Carl Peterson

    Bob,

    I disagree. First I think can and cannot are used much too easily and often incorrectly. Second probably some Calvinist would disagree with how I am saying that the non-elect can have faith. But i think most of these would agree with the substance of my argument. The point is that the only thing that is making the non-elect not choose Christ is their own will and themselves. God is not making anyone not choose him. i would add that having true faith is not something that the non-elect cannot do except that they do not want to do so. So again it is not that the elect physically cannot do it. God is not causing them not to have faith. The non-elect have the mind to choose one way or the other. The non-elect just choose to not have faith.

volfan007

Dr. Cox,

Thank you for such a great, heart warming, true post. Amen!

David

Michael

I agree with the Calvinist on here that there is nothing really to disagree with, however, nothing was said about WHO will come to Christ. All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved…..we all agree, but the questions is now, and will always be, WHO will call on the name of the Lord. The whosoever will, seems to me to be God’s business. We are simply told to go and tell. Nobody knows who the elect are, nobody knows who can or cannot come to Christ. This horse has been beat to death!!!

Cody

While I understand this is to be a series of posts critiquing Calvinism, I’m not sure what is intended from this first post. Every Calvinist (this does not include the heresy of hyper-Calvinism) would gladly agree on everything here in my opinion. I’m curious: do Traditionalists or other non-calvinists think that Calvinists don’t agree with what is written here? If not then they are mistaken. Calvinists absolutely agree.

The difference isn’t who may come to Christ for all are freely welcome. The difference isn’t who physically or mentally can for we all have that ability. The true difference is that Calvinists believe that while everyone may come to Christ and should be freely offered to do so through the proclamation of the gospel, the only people who actually will come are those who the Spirit draws to Christ.

    Lydia

    “difference isn’t who may come to Christ for all are freely welcome. The difference isn’t who physically or mentally can for we all have that ability. The true difference is that Calvinists believe that while everyone may come to Christ and should be freely offered to do so through the proclamation of the gospel, the only people who actually will come are those who the Spirit draws to Christ”

    Cody, How can they be “freely welcome” when God chooses not to regenerate them so they can be saved since they are totally unable in all forms to respond? They have no “choice” really then, do they? For this reason and because Calvinist discount any ability at all from man to respond, I see Calvinism as the same side of the coin as universalism.

    I believe God is Sovereign over His own Sovereignty. I don’t think Calvinists really believe that.

      Randall Cofield

      Lydia,

      You said:

      Cody, How can they be “freely welcome” when God chooses not to regenerate them so they can be saved since they are totally unable in all forms to respond? They have no “choice” really then, do they?

      You often post as if you think all men are scratching and clawing to come to Christ, but that Calvinists portray Christ as cruelly turning them away.

      First, do you think your “scratching and clawing to come to Christ” inferences accord with what Scripture says?

      And secondly, I would point you to the clear statement of Christ himself, which deals with both your inference and your objection (which objection is derived from the false inference):

      Cody, How can they be “freely welcome” when God chooses not to regenerate them so they can be saved since they are totally unable in all forms to respond? They have no “choice” really then, do they?

      Soli Deo Gloria

        Randall Cofield

        ….ooops….

        That last blockquote should read:

        Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

        Sorry

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          How does John 6:37 disagree with what Lydia stated?

          Lydia

          “You often post as if you think all men are scratching and clawing to come to Christ, but that Calvinists portray Christ as cruelly turning them away.”

          First of all, thank you for saying “all men scratching and clawing” because women would never do such a thing. :o)

          No, I don’t think that. But you do portray Christ cruelly with some of your interpretations. The RYR is one of them. Mental gymnastics to explain why Jesus looks at him and LOVES him then refuses to regenerate him so he would be compelled to sell all he has and follow Christ. Instead, your interpretations leans toward, Christ looks at him, LOVES him and consigns him to everlasting hell because he did not regenerate him. Yet he “loves” him. Some were kinda sorta speculating that maybe he was saved later.

          Gee, meeting the REAL Jesus in person did not do it? So either Jesus did not want to regenerate him or……..

          Randall Cofield

          Lydia,

          It seems to me that the RYR was not desperately seeking salvation. It has every appearance that he loved his riches more than he loved the very Incarnate Son of God.

          Ro 3:11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

          Ro 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

          This is the prerogative of a Benevolent and Sovereign King, to deal with a rebellious subject according to His will.

          God is Sovereign. We are not.

          Soli Deo Gloria–May His will be exalted

          Lydia

          “It seems to me that the RYR was not desperately seeking salvation. It has every appearance that he loved his riches more than he loved the very Incarnate Son of God.”

          I thought that did not matter in Calvinism. We are all totally depraved worms who are “enemies of God” and would never choose Christ, God must choose us, so why is the RYR different?

          Randall Cofield

          Lydia,

          He was not different. That is the point.

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Lydia

          “He was not different. That is the point.”

          Randall, are you being obtuse on purpose? :O)

          Let us go back….Jesus looked at the RYR and LOVED HIM but would not regenerate him and give him grace so he would repent, sell all and follow Christ.

          According to Calvinist doctrine, the RYR has no part in it. God has to regenerate before grace and faith. The RYR is a worm and enemy of God and totally unable to respond.

          But we have a problem, the text says God in the Flesh, our Savior, looked at him and LOVED HIM but refused to regenerate him so I am wondering why He LOVED him then consigned him to everlasting hell. That is Calvinist doctrine of the determinist God. He does not just not regenerate some He actually looks at them, LOVES them and then consigns them to hell.

          You seem to want to dance around that part.

          Randall Cofield

          Lydia,

          “He actually looks at (the RYR), LOVES (him) and then consigns (him) to hell.”

          Where in scripture do we find Jesus consigning the RYR to hell?

          Unless that text exists, you are arguing from silence.

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Les Prouty

          “Where in scripture do we find Jesus consigning the RYR to hell?

          Unless that text exists, you are arguing from silence.”

          Excellent Randall. This has been pointed out a few days ago about the RYR. Maybe Lydia wasn’t in on that discussion.

          Don Johnson

          Les & Randall,

          Just curious, based on John 10:26-27 was the RYR one of Jesus sheep? Even though you are very familar with the verses, please read the text before you answer.

Cody

Lydia,

Calvinsts say they are freely welcome because the Bible says so as evidenced in the numerous texts presented in the original article above. Calvinists say only those who the Spirit draws will come because the Bible says so in John 6:44-47, Romans 8:28-30, 1 John 5:1, John 3:7-8, Acts 16:14, Acts 13:48, etc. Both things are true. God is sovereign in our salvation in an effectual way and man is totally responsible for believing or not. Both things must be held in tension.

Personally, I don\’t know how both can be true at the same time. How can we be freely invited to come to Christ while it is only God that can actually bring us to faith? Yet, because of the clarity of Scripture that makes it understandable to the least educated of people, the plain reading of these texts support both truths. And because of the innerrancy of Scripture and containing no contradictions, both of these clear truths must be true.

That\’s why I like reading guys like Tozer and Spurgeon. They don\’t try to fit God too neatly into a theological system in order to solve the tension. They just accept both truths even though one is a Calvinist and the other is not. I wish we as Southern Baptists could do the same.

    Don Johnson

    Cody,

    It may surprise you, but none of the passages you listed teach Calvinistic doctrine.

      Cody

      I didn’t say they did. What I meant was that they evidence the sovereignty of God in salvation.

        Don Johnson

        Cody,

        And NO, they don’t show the sovereignty of God in salvation.

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          Have you ever wondered why the inference that God is Sovereign in salvation is so repugnant to so many?

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          Because it’s not taught in the Bible.

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          I was just wondering if you ever wondered…

          It does seem odd to me that God would be Sovereign in all His works except salvation, the greatest of all His works…

          Soli Deo Gloria…even in Salvation

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          So you believe God is the author of sin?

    Bob Hadley

    Cody,

    You wrote, “Calvinists say only those who the Spirit draws will come because the Bible says so.” For the record, that is not the issue we non’s have with calvinism; calling us traditionalists or whatever. Since we are NOT pelagian as has been errantly suggested, we believe that all who come to Christ do so at His drawing. God has taken the initiative in salvation and it is our responsibility to respond to His initiative.

    The problem is not “only those who the Spirit draws will come” it is that this calling is not effectual in that ALL WHO ARE CALLED COME AND THOSE WHO DO NOT COME ARE NOT CALLED.

    There is a major difference in this side of your statement. This is where the conflict comes not in the statement that you made. When someone who does not understand the gravity of this issue reads your statement they think… he is right; and you are right. However, that is NOT where calvinism rests itself. Calvinism carries things to a whole different level and that is where the problems surface, at least for me.

    ><>”

      Cody

      I totally agree and I tried to nuance what I meant when I wrote, “Both things are true. God is sovereign in our salvation in an effectual way and man is totally responsible for believing or not. Both things must be held in tension.” I probably should have made it more clear. Thank you for your clarification though, brother.

prchrbill

Dr. Cox,
Just two requests.
1. Since you confess to loving the writings of John, as I do, please exegete John 6:35-44.
2. Please explain to us what the greek word for ‘whosoever’ is as well as define what the word ‘whosoever’ meant in 17th century.

Thanks,
prchrbill

Bill Mac

I don’t see too much to object to here. We preach the Gospel to all. All who believe will be saved.

Bill Mac

It seems to me that one of the major objections of non-Calvinists to Calvinism, beyond the purely academic question of election and irresistable / prevenient grace is the purely practical matter that (some) Calvinists don’t use the same evangelistic language that they do. Am I wrong? Didn’t Emir Caner say as much in the video that was featured here?

    Les Prouty

    Bill Mac,

    I think you’re right. It’s like non-Calvinists hear us explain our views and are just incredulous.”Well, you can’t evangelize believing like you do. You can’t call sinners to repent and believe because your soteriology is wrong.”

    I have a good friend who is with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship. His name is Al Baker. Al is a Calvinist. http://www.pefministry.org/Site/Baker.html

    I spent two weeks on an evangelistic mission trip with Al a few years ago. Would to God that all Presbyterians and SBs were as willing to spend our lives engaged in the gospel ministry in a similar way.

    Check out his ministry, non Calvinists, and drop him a note explaining to Al why he can’t be doing the world wide evangelism he’s doing. Let me know how that conversation goes.

      Bill Mac

      Les: It isn’t so much repent and believe. Calvinists do that kind of evangelizing all the time. But Calvinists, for example, might not say “Jesus died for your sins”, but rather they might say “Jesus died to so that you can be saved by believing” or something like that. (some) Noncals think that if you can’t say it the first way, then your evangelism is defective.

        Don Johnson

        Bill,

        Not only defective, but dishonest.

        If a person has to give a truth, then he is not giving out the GOOD NEWS!

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          Your use of the term “dishonest” may well place you in the unenviable position of having broken the 9th commandment.

          Perhaps a less offensive way of stating what you want to say would be “that seems inconsistent to me” or something of the sort.

          Let’s not paint with too broad a brush. It isn’t helpful.

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          I said dishonest, because I meant dishonest.

          If one is trying to sugar coat the “truth” so that the lost person thinks Christ actually died for him, when in fact He probably didn’t. Yes, I call that dishonest.

          What do you call it salesmenship?

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          Unless you know perfectly the motives of the individual you just accused of being dishonest…I’d call it that you very well may be bearing false witness against your brother in Christ…..Not to sugar-coat it.

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          I assume you believe Christ died to save “some” sinners, who you would call the “elect.”

          By the same token you believe Christ did not die for some sinners, who you would call the non-elect.

          Before I continue, could you either affirm or deny the above two statements?

          Bill Mac

          If a person has to give a truth, then he is not giving out the GOOD NEWS!

          Yeah, you’re going to have to explain this one to me.

          “Jesus died to so that you can be saved by believing”

          While you’re at it you might explain to me how this is dishonest.

          Don Johnson

          Bill,

          I guess I should proof read a bit better.

          I meant to say half-truth..

          As for your question. I don’t mean to be harsh but to me, and maybe it’s only me, I think it is being dishonest.

          Jesus told us to proclaim the GOOD NEWS to everyone. Now to me that means there is GOOD NEWS available for everyone. So naturally I wouldn’t have a problem saying to anyone that Jesus died for them.

          Now I know you don’t believe Jesus died for everyone, though I believe I could show otherwise from Scripture.

          Since you do not believe Jesus died for everyone, wouldn’t it be best to just come out and tell the whole truth as you believe it to be?

          For instance here’s something you could say.

          “I might have some good news for you. It’s possible Christ might love you. And if he did love you, he also died to save you from your sins.
          If you are one of the ones He died for, you can be saved from sins by trusting in Him. You will have everlasting life in Heaven with the others whom Jesus loved enough to die in their place. Not only will you go to heaven but you won’t go to Hell with all the people Jesus chose not to die for.”

          Is there anything in the above statement that you believe to be untrue? If not why not use it or something similar?

          I don’t think you will use this, but if you did, you would be honestly conveying your beliefs.

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          This is how I consistently try, by God’s grace, to present the Gospel:

          Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; repent and believe, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          Why are you trying to hide the whole truth.

          What part of the Gospel do you not like? I know you’ll say you like all of it. However, thy speech betrayeth thee.

          I’m sure you must tell people of Hell. Interesting is it not, you would tell someone of Hell, but you won’t tell them that Jesus may not love or die for them. In fact I have never heard of a Calvinist who would, though there maybe one somewhere.

          Do you know the reason a Calvinist won’t say Jesus may not love or die for you?

          Les Prouty

          Don,

          “Do you know the reason a Calvinist won’t say Jesus may not love or die for you?

          I prefer to model after Paul as inspired scripture gives us an example as he speaks to pagans.

          “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for
          “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
          as even some of your own poets have said,
          “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
          Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.””

          (Acts 17:24-31 ESV)

          “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
          (Acts 17:32-34 ESV)

          Some mocked and some believed. Paul saw no reason, apparently, to tell them all that “Jesus loves you and died for you.”

          Good example to follow.

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          Why are you trying to hide the whole truth?
          What part of the Gospel do you not like? I know you’ll say you like all of it. However, thy speech betrayeth thee.

          Brother, the Gospel presentation I offered was a direct quotation from scripture, part of which was the very Gospel message Jesus preached when he began His ministry while here on this earth.

          My speech betrayeth me?

          Me thinkest that shoe doeth fit thee, brother.

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Don Johnson

          Les,

          Do you have Paul’s speech in Acts 17 memorized, or do you read it when witnessing.

          Also, how effective has it been. Hopefully better than Paul’s. Which is why he never used it again.

          Les Prouty

          Don,

          Before I keep going down what seems to be a ridiculous list of questions from you, no offense, questions:

          1. Did you sign the Trad statement?
          2. Do you consider yourself fairly representative of the Trad signers and sympathizers?
          3. Are you a pastor?

          If you answer these honestly, I will continue.

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          Could you give me the verse your direct quotation came from. I said quotation not quotations, because you said quotation (singular). I can’t seem to find the verse in my Bible.

          Now who speech is betraying who?

          Bill Mac

          Don:

          Forgiveness of sin, new life in Christ, an eternal home, the indwelling Spirit, are all the gifts of a loving God, purchased by His Son’s blood, freely available to anyone and everyone who will reach and and receive through repentance and faith.

          There is no dishonesty there, no subterfuge. I’m not crossing my fingers when I say it. I give no thought to election or predestination or anything like that when I give the Gospel. I use John 3:16 freely, with no footnotes.

          I’m not what you think Calvinists are. I don’t know anyone who is.

          Randall Cofield

          Don,

          “I can’t seem to find the verse in my Bible.”

          Mt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
          1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;

          Brother, is it possible that your zeal is driving you find the very Word of God not “worthy of all acceptation?”

          Soli Deo Gloria

          Don Johnson

          Randall,

          You said it was a direct quotation. You didn’t say anything about taking parts of verses from different books.

          When you said it was a direct quotation I assumed it was a direct quotation.

          I sorry but to me, part of what Jesus said, and part of what Paul wrote, is not “a” direct quotation.

    Les Prouty

    By the way, you Alabama folks. I know Al is Presbyterian, but you would thoroughly enjoy meeting Al Baker with PEF. He is based in Alabama.

Steve Martin

The trouble that we Lutherans have with Calvinists is mainly that their wrongheaded reading of Scripture (“Christ did not die for and forgive the whole world”, when Scripture plainly says that He did) brings Christians to a place of doubt…and causes them to go inward for their assurance. This either leads to despair…or to pride.

Calvinists get a lot right…but like the cow who gives a good bucket of milk and then kicks it over, they ruin much of what good they do.

volfan007

You know, I think there may be some people in these comment threads, who are Anti-Traditionalists, or Anti-Trads.

David

Randall Cofield

My Traditionalist Brothers & Sisters,

Do any of the following possibilities exist?

1) That the T.S. might have some theological blind spots?

2) That Calvinists may not believe everything the T.S. and its supporters are attributing to us?

3) That it is possible for some Traditionalists to behave just as ungraciously as some Calvinists do?

4) That this debate may well have become too heated to continue in a God-honoring way?

Soli Deo Gloria

    Randall Cofield

    Veeery interesting…..the silence is deafening….

Shawn

I have asked this question in a couple different threads and no one has provided an answer yet. If our all-powerful God desires the salvation of all men in the way that “Traditionalists” say He does, then why are all men not saved? Some of you will no doubt reply, “Because many men choose not to accept His free gift of salvation.” You are effectively saying that our sovereign God will have unmet desires because His will is limited by men’s will. Or to put it in your wording, God is still sovereign, but He voluntarily limits His own will so as not to force Himself on His free moral creatures. (This is Lydia’s ‘God is sovereign over His own sovereignty’ view). This begs a critical question:

How is God more “loving” in this scheme? He truly desires that all men be saved and He has the power to accomplish all He desires (Psa 115:3). He knows that many men will reject the gospel which will result in their eternal torment. He has the sovereign ability to override their choices and save them from eternal torment, but He does not do so out of deference to their free will. How is God more “loving” if he wants to save all His children, is able to save all His children, and yet lets men die in their sins out of deference to their choice?

If I had the power to save my child from death and yet deferred to what my child chose in the moment, even though it would result in their death, I would rightly lose my parental rights and be imprisoned. Please offer your insights on how this is more loving.

    Lydia

    Shawn, How is God glorified when we are simply marionette puppets He chooses to totally control. When you have that view it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to stay away from God being the author of evil. Why Jesus on the cross if we are marionette puppets?

      Randall Cofield

      Lydia,

      How is God glorified when we are simply marionette puppets He chooses to totally control.

      If we exalt our wills above that of God, have we not ascended above the heavens and reversed the direction of the strings?

      Soli Deo Gloria

        Lydia

        “If we exalt our wills above that of God, have we not ascended above the heavens and reversed the direction of the strings?”

        Randall,

        What is God’s will?

          Randall Cofield

          Lydia,

          That we pray this:

          Mt 6:10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

          and this:

          Lu 22:42 ….Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

          and this:

          Mt. 11:3 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
          24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
          25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

          Soli Deo Gloria–May His will be done

      Randall Cofield

      Is. 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
      13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
      14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

      Soli Deo Gloria–May His will be exalted.

        Lydia

        Randall,

        When I disagree with you on scripture and see that you use the above verse that you think proves we are trying to exalt our own will’s above God….like Lucifer….I have to ask, are you a pastor?

        If you are, would you “discipline” me for disagreeing with you on scripture interpretation? Would you claim to the church that because I disagree with you about what God’s Sovereignty means that I am exhalting my will above God’s just like Lucifer?

        Would this be a church discipline issue for you?

          Randall Cofield

          No ma’m…. :-)

          Randall Cofield

          I was just pointing out the dangers noted in scripture concerning the exaltation of the human will…

          Randall Cofield

          Lydia,

          If we exalt our wills above that of God, have we not ascended above the heavens and reversed the direction of the strings?

          Soli Deo Gloria–May His will be exalted…?

          Randall Cofield

          Lydia,

          I think the Sovereign will of God is wonderfully and gloriously determinate in my salvation. What thinkest thou?

          Soli Deo Gloria……..??

          Lydia

          “No ma’m….

          Praise God!!!

          Randall Cofield

          Indeed!!

          Soli Deo Gloria!!!!

      Don Johnson

      Randall,

      If we exalt our wills above that of God, isn’t because God decreed to be, and we have no choice in the matter?

      You should be rejoicing in God’s sovereignty.

      We can’t help it we if keep pointing out the errors of Calvinism, it was God that ordained to be so.

        Randall Cofield

        2Pe 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to ….reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

    volfan007

    Shawn,

    Does God have unmet desires? I see them all thru the Bible. Did God desire for the Sodomites to continue in sin, and have to be judged? Did God desire for King David to commit adultery and murder Bathsheeba’s husband? Did God desire for Peter to deny Him?

    God desires that all men be saved, and come to a knowledge of the truth.

    So, yes, God does have unmet desires. This does not lesson His sovereignty one iota….known at all. Why would you even think it does? In fact, it makes Him more sovereign to make men free, and yet, to bring about His plans and purposes…amazing power and wisdom….

    David

Lydia

“If we exalt our wills above that of God, have we not ascended above the heavens and reversed the direction of the strings?”

Randall, I am still waiting to hear what you think is God’s will on earth (as it is in heaven). We both agree we are to do God’s will….what do you think His will entails on this earth while we are alive and saved?

    Randall Cofield

    Lydia,

    “….what do you think His will entails on this earth while we are alive and saved?”

    I confess that I’ve been working hard on that question for 33 years. I’m quite sure I don’t have all the answers…so I desire and pray that my will be subordinate to His will at all times…

    If we exalt our wills above that of God, have we not ascended above the heavens and reversed the direction of the strings?

    I think the Sovereign will of God is wonderfully and gloriously determinate in my salvation. What thinkest thou?

    <Soli Deo Gloria……. ????

      Lydia

      “I confess that I’ve been working hard on that question for 33 years. I’m quite sure I don’t have all the answers…so I desire and pray that my will be subordinate to His will at all times…”

      Randall,

      See I think the answer is simple but doing His will is not easy. It is to obey Christ’s commands with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

      You might call that works. I call it sanctification and it can look like loserville to many Christians.

        Randall Cofield

        Lydia,

        If we exalt our wills above that of God, have we not ascended above the heavens and reversed the direction of the strings?

        I think the Sovereign will of God is wonderfully and gloriously determinate in my salvation. What thinkest thou?

        Soli Deo Gloria……. ????

Wes

In the broad spectrum of soteriology, the Arminianism / Calvinism section is a tiny blip. I think there are very few things conservative evangelical Arminian Southern Baptists and conservative evangelical Calvinist Southern Baptists would disagree on. And I think even then most conservative evangelical Baptists aren’t fully committed to one of these soteriological systems.

Looking forward to a post not having to do with this debate. Surely there must be other things going on in the SBC these days.

Shawn

Lydia, or anyone else, I’m still waiting for an answer to the original question. If God is an all-powerful God, and He desires the salvation of all men, why aren’t all men saved?

    Don Johnson

    Shawn,

    Because He has given man the responsibility to get out the Gospel. And he has done a poor job (myself included) of it.

    God loves us freely and He wants us to love Him freely.

    Yes, He could make us love. Which is really what Calvinism is about. Yes I know that’s not how Calvinists put it, but reality that’s what takes place.

    I don’t know if you have children or not, but does it make you happy if you make your child do something good? Does it please you if you command your child to say he loves you? Are you not much happier if the child himself said he loved you? God’s the same way.

      Les Prouty

      Don,

      “Yes, He could make us love. Which is really what Calvinism is about. Yes I know that’s not how Calvinists put it, but reality that’s what takes place.”

      15 yard penalty on that Don. Mischaracterize Calvinism. Original Les, here is a misunderstanding of Calvinism.

    Don Johnson

    Les,

    Is it possible for God to regenerate a person and that person not believe the Gospel and get saved? Also, is there any way for a person to get saved without God first regenerating them?

    If your answer is no to both questions, then yes God makes us love Him? If God has to completely change our natures for us to love Him, that’s making us love Him. What would you call it?

      Randall Cofield

      Don,

      If God has to completely change our natures for us to love Him, that’s making us love Him. What would you call it?

      AMAZING GRACE

      ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear;
      And grace my fears relieved.
      How precious did that grace appear,
      The hour I first believed.

      Soli Deo Gloria for His Amazing Grace

        Don Johnson

        Randall,

        Thanks for the non answer.

Lydia

“Lydia, or anyone else, I’m still waiting for an answer to the original question. If God is an all-powerful God, and He desires the salvation of all men, why aren’t all men saved?”

Shawn, You might have a long wait. For me, I am not playing that YRR game with you. I tried to answer you before. You just did not like the way I answered you. I don’t expect agreement, you know. :o)

Randall Cofield

Good night all.

May God richly bless the preaching of His Word in the coming Lord’s Day by bringing many sons to glory.

Soli Deo Gloria

Shawn

It’s not a game of any sort. It’s an honest question that you did not attempt to answer. You said, “Shawn, How is God glorified when we are simply marionette puppets He chooses to totally control. When you have that view it takes a lot of mental gymnastics to stay away from God being the author of evil. Why Jesus on the cross if we are marionette puppets?”

I will respond to what you put forth, however. The most evil act in all of human history was the crucifixion of the innocent Son of God at the hands of wicked men. But He was delivered up according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23). Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, gathered themselves together against Jesus to do whatever God’s hand and God’s plan had predestined to take place (Acts 4:27-28). Yet, God is not the author of evil, and every man is fully culpable for the exercise of his own will. God is completely sovereign, even over the free choices of His moral creatures (Prov 16:33), yet God is not the author of evil, and we are not puppets – we have real wills and we make real choices with real consequences. Can I explain it perfectly? No, but Scripture teaches each of these things is true. You, on the other hand, deny God’s total sovereignty because you believe it is incompatible with man’s will. You set Scripture against Scripture. You are like the clay arguing with the potter in Romans 9:19.

I am not playing any YRR game, Lydia. I am neither young nor restless. I have answered your question. Now please do not run from mine. If God’s is an all-powerful God, and He desires the salvation of all men the way the traditionalists say He does, then why are not all men saved?

    Lydia

    “yet God is not the author of evil, and we are not puppets – we have real wills and we make real choices with real consequences. Can I explain it perfectly? No, but Scripture teaches each of these things is true.”

    I totally agree with this.

    “You, on the other hand, deny God’s total sovereignty because you believe it is incompatible with man’s will. You set Scripture against Scripture. You are like the clay arguing with the potter in Romans 9:19.”

    Not sure how I denied God’s Sovereignty and I don’t think His Sovereignty is incompatible with man’s will, at all. Shawn, perhaps I read you wrong. If I did, I apologize.

Steve Martin

Why some hear the gospel and believe…and others do not…is the question. But one that we cannot answer in this life.

But, unlike Calvinism, we believe that when we are saved God gets 100% of the credit. And when we reject Christ, we get 100% of the blame.

Calvinists blame God. Wrongly.

    Shawn

    On the contrary, Steve, God has told us in Scripture exactly why some believe and some do not.

    Consider these texts:

    Matt 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (NAS)

    –This was Christ’s summary teaching after the parable of the man who came into the wedding feast improperly clothed. He did not have true faith because he was not chosen.

    Acts 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (NAS)

    –It was those who were appointed (Grk TASSO — ordained) to eternal life who believed.

    John 10:26-28 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.
    27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
    28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.

    –Those who are Christ’s sheep (antecedent) are the ones who hear His voice and follow Him. Those who are not His sheep do not believe.

    John 17:1-2 These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee,
    2 even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life. (NAS)

    –Those who would receive eternal life are the ones given to Christ by God the Father.

    Finally, Rom 8:29-30
    29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
    30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

    –Those who are predestined are the ones who are called and justified.

    So Scripture does reveal to us exactly why some believe and some do not. But your final statement is true. When we are saved, God gets 100% of the credit. And when we reject Christ, we get 100% of the blame.

Lydia

“Where in scripture do we find Jesus consigning the RYR to hell?”

What happens to someone that is not regenerated to believe? Is there another option for this man that is not ‘arguing from silence’?

Lydia

“Where in scripture do we find Jesus consigning the RYR to hell?”

What happens to someone that is not regenerated to believe? Is there another option for this [particular man that is not ‘arguing from silence’?

    Randall Cofield

    Lydia,

    “Is there another option for this [particular man that is not ‘arguing from silence’?”

    Lydia, it is you who has contended that Jesus cast the RYR into hell, therefore it is incumbent upon you to offer scriptural evidence of your assertion.

    This question/response thing is starting to flow in only one direction, don’t you think? :-)

    If we exalt our wills above that of God, have we not ascended above the heavens and reversed the direction of the strings?

    I think the Sovereign will of God is wonderfully and gloriously determinate in my salvation. What thinkest thou?

    Is it OK with you if I give Gloria Deo Soli?

Steve Martin

Of course there is a hell.

But it is not God’s doing that we would go there…but our own.

Calvinists have it wrong.

Shawn

Lydia,

You stated above, “Not sure how I denied God’s Sovereignty and I don’t think His Sovereignty is incompatible with man’s will, at all. Shawn, perhaps I read you wrong. If I did, I apologize.” Based on your previous posts, I believed you to be saying that God was not completely sovereign over man’s will, over man’s choices. That if He was, we would all just be puppets. If I misunderstood you at this point, please forgive me. My point is that God is completely sovereign over everything, including the free choices of His moral creatures, and yet His complete sovereignty does not negate the fact that we have real wills through which we make real choices with real impact and real consequences.

To the next issue raised by both you and Steve Martin, I’m sure you both would agree with me that we are all sinners deserving of death and hell. We are all condemned to hell by God because we have all continually fallen short of His glory (Rom 3:23) and the wages of our sin and lawlessness is death (Rom 6:23). If God allowed all men to suffer the His just wrath for all eternity in hell, He would be no less loving, no less merciful, no less righteous, no less God. These things are intrinsic to His character.

I have found in the past that those of you who come from the “Traditionalist” position tend to think that mankind somehow existed in a state of neutrality, and (you think) that according to the Calvinists, God came along and chose some men out of that neutral state to go to heaven and some men out of that neutral state to go to hell. This is classic double-predestination and it is unbiblical heresy. (Some men will say they espouse a double-predestination, but examine carefully how they define their terms before immediately assuming they mean this classic position).

What the Bible teaches is that all men were under God’s wrath and condemnation due to sin. God had condemned all men to hell on the basis that we have all violated His law and offended His infinite glory. There is no position of neutrality. We were all children of wrath, and we had (have) absolutely no desire or inclination to seek God in and of ourselves (Rom 3). But God, to display and express His mercy and love and grace in His created order, chose to rescue some men out of condemnation through the sacrifice of His Son. He made this choice from the foundation of the world, having known that man would choose to sin against Him. That is why the names of His chosen people were written in the lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8, 17:8, 21:27) God is no less loving, no less merciful, and no less just because He chose to leave some to suffer His wrath just as He chose to save some from His wrath. Those who are not chosen receive what we all should have received for breaking God’s law; there is no injustice on God’s part by not choosing them. Those who are chosen receive life believe in Him purely as a matter of His grace. So, those who choose in their sins to reject Christ will go to hell, and they are 100% responsible for their choice. Those who choose to repent and believe in Christ do so as a result of God’s choice (Eph 2:8-9), and He gets 100% of the credit.

Mark 10:45
45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (NAS)

Rom 8:29-30
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;
30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (NAS)

John 17:1-2
1 These things Jesus spoke; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Thy Son, that the Son may glorify Thee,
2 even as Thou gavest Him authority over all mankind, that to all whom Thou hast given Him, He may give eternal life. (NAS)

Matt 26:27-28
27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave {it} to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you;
28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. (NAS)

Acts 13:48
48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (NAS)

John 10:26-28
26 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep.
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;
28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. (NAS)

I’m sure we’ll continue the discussion, but I must stop now as I must make my final preparations to preach His glorious Gospel this morning. I pray you are all blessed in worshiping our King this day!

    Lasaro Flores

    Amen, Shawn. Very good explanation of what the doctrines of grace mean. As I have noted in the “cart before the horse” soteriology, man is put “before” God. There is a natural tendency to do that by many because they look at the Gospel from man’s point of view instead from God’s point of view. Salvation’s plan was before the creation of the world; and in fact, even before any one had done good or evil (ref. to Rom.9:11), “cccording to the eternal purpose which (God) purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph.3:11). That’s why Paul state the obligation to thank God for salvation, as he told the the Thessalonians believers: “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess.2:13, 14). This should be our attitude with respect to God’s sovereignty over our salvation; for He “hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim.1:9). Amen.

      Shawn

      Amen, Lasaro. To God alone be the glory!

earl simmons

OK all you sillies..in Revelation 16:8_9 people are cursing God ans refusing to repent. So are these people refusing to repent because they have been predestined not to? If they are of the elect why want they repent because time is awasting? Aren’t they supposed to feel the call of the Spirit and be saved..why don’t they. Or is God just pouring it on the non_elect? If I remember Calvin and Luther did not care much for the book of Revelation. Have fun with this..

    Shawn

    Coming from the Calvinist perspective, the answer is that all men would curse God and refuse to repent (Rom 3) if God did not intervene to change their hearts. This behavior is the natural result of our sinfulness.

Devin

I believe an examination and discussion of Hebrews 11-12:1-2 would be beneficial.

May I further add that I am deeply troubled by the majority (not all) of the discussions that are proclaimed. I for one am greatly thankful that we are voicing our differences and hopefully are doing so for the purpose of unifying so that pastors are together in teaching sound doctrine to the church (Titus 1:9).

However, as I read the endless scroll of responses, rarely do I see anyone quote and explain a text. It is one thing to quote, but to not even exegete? And this applies to both Calvinists and non-Calvists alike. Thank you for those who are doing so. For the rest, I challenge and encourage us to be scriptural-or a better way to say, let’s stop quoting this person and that person and this man made text and it’s updated version and let us ALL go to the bible and read it, be open and listen to one another, and be above reproach. And as we are doing so, have a deep and utterly prayful attitude that we need the wisdom of God to show us the meaning behind His word so that we can stop the war of division and enter into the peace of unity.

And to clarify and forgive beforehand, the above statement is not an attempt to say that people are void of using scripture in these discussions. It comes across that the majority choose to use their own summarized perspective of scripture and herald it out as truth instead of reading and explaining scripture. This is an attempt and plea to encourage more use of Biblical texts within discussions.

Blessings.

Devin

I meant to put apologize in place of forgive. I apologize.

Lasaro Flores

What I keep reading from the posts or comments on this blog is the persistence that salvation has to be from man’s so-called free will, which I see as a “cart before the horse” soteriology. What I meant by that is 1) Man has to be the initiator of his salvation; 2) Man is the determiner of his salvation; and 3) Man limits God to what He can do in, and with, His salvation (Ps.3:8; Jon.2:9).

Immediately I can hear vehement denials; but please allow me to ask you the following questions. Isn’t it true that most (I know that I can say that not”all”) Southern Baptists believe that sinners can seek God for their salvation? Throughout the years I’ve heard the expression, “So and so has been, or is seeking, God?” In other words, the implication is that man is the “initiator” by seeking God. But the Romans 3:11 says “there is none (absolutely no one) that seeketh after God.” Now, do you believe the Word of God; or do you persist in believing that man does the seeking of his own free will? If man CANNOT seek God, then God has to be the Initiator of man’s salvation from the beginning (Eph.1:3ff.; 2 Thess.2:13; 2 Tim.1:9). That’s why the Lord said: “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lu.19:10). Why? Because there is NOT ONE PERSON that seeks God!!!

The next question is this: When you say that salvation depends on one ‘making a decision for Christ,’ do you mean that man has to determine of his free will to be saved? If this is true, than God CANNOT save anyone unless man determines to be saved by God. In other words, God’s will to save sinners is tied up by man’s free will. In that case, Romans 9:16 is not true: ” So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” To put in another way: God’s sovereignty of His salvation to save “whomsover He wills” is negated because He has to submit to man’s “sovereignty” over his salvation. In that case, He has the right to ask you: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own” (Matt.20:15).

Therefore, it follows that since man is the initiator and determiner of his salvation, that in effect, man “limits” God in what He can do in saving sinners. Remember, you believe that God CANNOT impose on man’s will; that God has given man a free will to choose to be saved or not. Therefore, since God NOW is ‘obligated’ to honor man’s will, He is ‘limited’ to what He can do to save sinners of His Grace. That means, than, that “by grace are ye saved through faith” is no longer true because salvation is of man in that he is the “initiator” and “determiner” of it by negating, “and that not of yourselves,” since grace, salvation and faith are not “the gift of God” (Eph.2:8). You see, God’s grace has to be free and sovereign; otherwise, it is no longer grace but what man does (Rom.11:6). Apart from God’s unlimited grace and power, there can be no salvation; but if it depends on man’s ‘idol’ of free will, there can be no salvation for “whosover;” for “whosoever…WILL not come to the Lord Jesus Christ to have life” (Jn.5:40). Amen.

JWeart

What does the “whosoever will” passages say about who will believe? Nothing. You can’t infer universal election or ability. What ever happened to the use of logic within biblical exegesis?

t.r.

Author of the “traditional statement”, Eric Hankins, denies even the need for prevenient grace, making him the new Pelagius:

“Nothing in Scripture indicates that humans have been rendered “totally depraved” through Adam’s sin. Genesis 3 gives an extensive account of the consequences of Adam’s sin, but nowhere is there the idea that Adam or his progeny lost the ability to respond to God in faith, a condition which then required some sort of restoration by regeneration or prevenient grace.”
-Eric Hankins in part 4 of his series “Beyond Calvinism and Arminianism” found here on the SBCToday archives in April.

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