Calvinism’s View of the Origin of Sin and God’s Offer of Salvation | Part Three

April 11, 2016

Ronnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK

Click HERE for Part One.
Click HERE for Part Two.

Regarding human freedom, R.C. Sproul’s Calvinism once again sends him retreating to “it is a mystery.” He says, “Predestination seems to cast a shadow on the very heart of human freedom. If God has decided our destinies from all eternity (unconditionally), that strongly suggests that our free choices are but charades, empty exercises in predetermined placating. It is as though God wrote the script for us in concrete and we are merely carrying out his scenario.”[i] I must admit that, although I adamantly disagree with his Calvinism, I appreciate and admire such candor. He goes on to say, “It was certainly loving of God to predestine the salvation of His people, those the Bible calls the ‘elect or chosen ones.’ It is the non-elect that are the problem. If some people are not elected unto salvation then it would seem that God is not all that loving toward them. For them it seems that it would have been more loving of God not to have allowed them to be born. That may indeed be the case.[ii] (italics added) This is what I mean when I argue elsewhere that God’s salvific love for the non-elect is virtually indistinguishable from indifference or hate. Various distinctions proffered by Calvinists that supposedly mitigate this reality are, eternally speaking, merely distinctions without a difference; how things play out eternally is what really matters.

Calvinists are very clear at times that sin entered into the world and that people spend eternity in hell because God made a voluntary decision for them to be there, which means that He could have chosen, if it pleased Him, for it to have been otherwise. Shedd says that permission to allow sin “is one that occurs by a voluntary decision of God, which he need not have made, had he so pleased. He might have decided not to permit sin; in which case it would not have entered the universe.”[iii] Augustine, speaking of such permission, said, “And of course his permission is not unwilling but willing.”[iv] Shedd then notes the similar remarks of Calvin who said, “God’s permission of sin is not involuntary, but voluntary.”[v]

Notice that they say nothing of God’s decision to disallow sin in the universe necessitating disallowing the existence of man or Lucifer, which understanding is harmonious with a compatible view of freedom. Consequently, according to a compatibilist perspective, God could have created Lucifer, Adam, and Eve with different natures, emanating different desires, and man could have and would have existed without sin. Once more, the ever-present calvinistically generated quandary that God in some measure must have desired man to sin, a disquieting reality. Again, Shedd seeks to exonerate God from sin by saying, “Nothing but the spontaneity of will can produce the sin; and God does not work in the will to cause evil spontaneity. The certainty of sin by a permissive decree, is an insoluble mystery for the finite mind.”[vi] (my emphasis on insoluble mystery).

With regard to Socrates’ reference to God and sin in the Republic, Shedd’s belief that God must have desired sin to enter the lives of His creation is even more apparent. He says, “While evil in his [Socrates] view does not originate in God, and is punished by God, it is not, as in Revelation, under the absolute control of God, in such sense that it could be prevented by him. The power to prevent sin is implied in its permission. No one can be said to permit what he cannot prevent. Sin is preventable, by the exercise of a greater degree of that same spiritual efficiency by which the will was inclined to holiness in creation. God did not please to exert this degree in the instance of the fallen angels and man, and thus sin was possible.”[vii] (italics added)

He does not require of God that angels and man would not have been created as moral beings in order to preclude sin, but only God choosing to grant “a greater degree of that same spiritual efficiency.” Therefore, once again, it seems unquestionable that according to Calvinism, God desired preventable sin. Even without such statements, this truth is entailed in a compatible view of moral freedom.

Shedd says, “The reason for the permission of sin was manifestation of certain divine attributes which could not have been manifested otherwise.”[viii] Then he lists things like mercy, compassion, the suffering of Christ, justice, and holiness, all to the glory of God. Therefore, the inescapable truth of Calvinism is that God could have prevented sin, and while He may not have been the efficient cause—direct cause—He inescapably desired it, and therefore, it is. Additionally, reliance upon secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary, etc., causes fails to palliate or remove the fact that God by free choice is ultimately responsible for man’s choice to sin, which could have been different had such pleased Him. Therefore, He desired all the horrors of sin, rebellion against Him, untold ghastly violence, dreadful death, and the drowning sea of tears deluging the lives and homes of His creation; such desire is not satisfactorily explained by resorting to His permissive will because the activities of His permissive will are as deterministic in Calvinism as any other aspect of His will, given decretal theology and compatibilism.

In my next article, I will explore Extensivism’s perspective regarding the origin of sin and salvation. Whereas, Extensivists (including all non-Calvinists in this term) say that God never desires sin but always and only desires righteousness; concomitantly, He desires all of those who are lost to be saved and has provisioned accordingly.

 

 

[i] R.C Sproul, Chosen by God, 51, as quoted in George L. Bryson, The Five Points of Calvinism: Weighed And Found Wanting, (Costa Mesa, CA.: The Word for Today, 2002), 35-44.
[ii] Sproul, Chosen by God, 51, as quoted in Bryson, The Five Points of Calvinism, 44.
[iii] Ibid., 94.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Ibid., 95. Shedd sources this as Inst. 1:18:3. I cannot find it under that section in my copy of the Institutes.
[vi] Ibid., 420.
[vii] Ibid., 420–421.
[viii] Ibid., 421.

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Les

The RC Sprout quote at the beginning? I’m really surprised first of all that you quote a secondary source rather than the actual source. Have you read Chosen by God? If one reads past that opening paragraph on p. 51 of Chosen by God, one will see that the word “seems” is quite important. Dr. Sproul actually dispels the notion of the sentence you have quoted.

Andy

I look forward to seeing part 4, because as it stands, you say that it is CALVINISM that believes God could have prevented sin, yet chose not to. I would have thought his was a shared belief among all Christians, or at least all Christians who believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful God. Even when rejecting Calvinism, I would think the minimum you could say would be that God could have prevented sin, but decided to allow it for some “mysterious” reason? I don’t think this is just a problem for Calvinists, though I admit it takes on a different form.

    Andrew Barker

    Andy: ”…. God could have prevented sin, yet chose not to. I would have thought his was a shared belief among all Christians, or at least all Christians who believe in an all-knowing, all-powerful God.” Actually, I don’t think the majority of Christians who believe that God has given us a free will, believe that God could have prevented sin. In fact, rather than appealing to ‘mystery’ is this very fact not further evidence that God has given us the ability to make either or choices. Do not most Christians accept responsibility for their own wrong doing? I thought this was part and parcel of becoming a Christian, rather than something up for debate. James 1 tells us that we sin because we are tempted by our own wrong desires and it’s nothing to do with God tempting us. Again, such statements as the one you’ve listed are all lacking any scriptural backing. Can you find anywhere which even suggests that God could have prevented sin from entering the world? I can’t.

      Deborah Fisher

      Andrew, that’s a weak reply. As the Bible (if you believe it) categorically and in many ways states that God is the source of all things and specifically of all life you certainly haven’t looked very hard if you think that God is not the originator of all the possibilities of sin, the wills that choose to sin, whatever freedoms those wills have (which is really the only issue in ‘Calvinistic’ dispute) and the consequences of those sins. That sin is consequential on what God has sourced isn’t so much Calvinism as basic Bible knowledge.

        Andrew Barker

        Deborah Fisher: “As the Bible (if you believe it) categorically and in many ways states that God is the source of all things” Well, that’s your statement and I don’t think it has much in the way of validity about it. When you can find chapter and verse for saying that God is the author and originator of sin, I’ll give it some credence.

        Scott Shaver

        “Basic bible knowledge” which doesn’t exist, Deborah Fisher?

        Now I’ve heard everything.

      Lydia

      ” Actually, I don’t think the majority of Christians who believe that God has given us a free will, believe that God could have prevented sin. In fact, rather than appealing to ‘mystery’ is this very fact not further evidence that God has given us the ability to make either or choices. Do not most Christians accept responsibility for their own wrong doing? ”

      I agree. I think the disconnect is the focus on trying to figure out or define Yahweh. I see it as Him creating beings who could choose to grow in wisdom with His guidance but were given the freedom to choose otherwise. How can there be real relationship outside of choice? So being the “originator” of all things, including sin, seems to be a red herring. For what reason this is an important arguement, I am not sure except it fits the focus on Sovereignty over all other attributes or characteristics of the Creator. It is almost as if people want to blame God for their sin as a default position of Sovereighnty, wills, etc, etc. Just like Adam did.

        Lydia

        Btw, humans can prevent a lot of sin if they wanted to.

    Robert Vaughn

    Andrew, would you agree or disagree with the idea that God could have prevented sin by not creating the universe? Do you think he was in some way bound to create the universe only as it is, or simply that in creating a moral universe that the possibility of sin was a necessity (or something else)? Thanks.

      Andrew Barker

      Robert Vaughn: If God hadn’t created the universe then the question wouldn’t arise would it. So that answers itself. Personally, I don’t think God was bound to create the universe as it is. The only restriction, if you can call it that, which God places on himself is that he can’t go against his own nature. If you want a moral universe, then people have to be able to be held responsible for their actions. But creating the possibility of a wrong choice is not the same as creating the wrong choice. This is why I would argue that people have to be truly free to make their own choices.

        Robert Vaughn

        Well, the question wouldn’t arise with us anyway, and God knows the answer. :-)

        I guess these philosophical discussions are about sin and free will and so forth in the abstract. But I would say that the Bible shows in specific instances God can and will prevent sin if He wants to:
        Genesis 20:6 (KJV) And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.
        Genesis 20:6 (NIV) Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

        And God and man together can:
        Psalm 19:13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

          Lydia

          And this means what exactly? God is responsible for our sin choices because He did not stop them when He could have? People have been holding God responsible for their sin since Adam blamed God and Eve.

            Andy

            ANDREW: “I don’t think the majority of Christians who believe that God has given us a free will, believe that God could have prevented sin.”
            ANDREW: “Can you find anywhere which even suggests that God could have prevented sin from entering the world? I can’t.”
            ANDREW: “Personally, I don’t think God was bound to create the universe as it is.

            –> You seem to be answering your own question here. You agree God could have created a different universe, or perhaps not created one at all? As for scripture, I would say that if you ascribe real, libertarian choice to men, then you certainly cannot withhold the same from God. When God said, “Let us make man in our own image.” That was a choice of God. He could have made a different choice.

            –> Also, we’re both guessing here, but I would wager that if you asked 500 random Christians whether God could have prevented sin, they would say something to the effect of: “Yes, but he wanted creatures who would choose to love and follow him of their own free will.” In other words, they are not limiting God like you are, removing from God the ability to make real choices.

            LYDIA: “And this means what exactly? God is responsible for our sin choices because He did not stop them when He could have?”

            –> Not at all, certainly Robert wouldn’t hold that as an Arminian, and I don’t either. Scripture, as Robert shows, tells of God preventing certain sins, but he doesn’t prevent all sin. Could he? Is he simply not powerful enough, or is there some other reason? (this is not the same as God CAUSING sin.) There is a strain of thought that says all these bad things in the world (murder, abuse, terror attacks), because while God really wants to prevent them, he just can’t…but I don’t think it is a very biblical view.

            My point in replying is that Ronnie lays out the idea that “God could have prevented sin, but chose to.” as merely a Calvinist problem. It is not.

              Andy

              Correction…I may have gotten Robert Vaughn confused with another Robert who comments here who identifies as an Arminian…if so, I apologize.

                Andrew Barker

                Andy: I think you need to change hats and get your thinking cap on! ;-)

                No, I’m not simply answering my own questions. They were posed initially by Robert V.
                I don’t limit God’s choices in any sense other than he cannot chose to do something which goes against his nature. Is that a limitation I’m allowed to put on God? I think he puts it on himself, actually!

                It’s odd really, because you’re attributing things to me which I haven’t and indeed wouldn’t say and not attributing things with which I concur! Odd really. I quote …”There is a strain of thought that says all these bad things in the world (murder, abuse, terror attacks), because while God really wants to prevent them, he just can’t…but I don’t think it is a very biblical view.” Sorry, but I agree with these sentiments almost entirely. They picture the true state of what’s going on in our world to a ‘T’. I can’t see why you feel it’s not ‘biblical’. Perhaps you need to explain because I can’t see it. :)

                Also I don’t think Ronnie is saying what you think he is saying, but I can’t speak on his behalf. Calvinists however do have a habit of trying to give us non-Calvinists problems which we don’t have. God certainly doesn’t determine our ‘free’ choices.

                  Name (Required)

                  “Calvinists however do have a habit of trying to give us non-Calvinists problems which we don’t have. God certainly doesn’t determine our ‘free’ choices.,”

                  There is the money quote!

                    Andy

                    Ironically, my first comment on this article was because I believe Ronnie has painted as a “Calvinist problem” something that I believe is also a problem for non-Calvinists…

                    Also, it seems many on this site want to create a non-existent problem of assurance for calvinists that they don’t have.

                    The only conclusion I can come to is that we all think other views have problems…otherwise we would agree with them!

                    Scott Shaver

                    Name (Required) is spot-on!

                  Andy

                  Andrew, are you saying that because of God’s nature (creativity, goodness, etc…) he absolutely HAD to create humanity (as opposed to not creating anyone), and had to create them in such a way that they had the ability to reject him, knowing in fact that they would? If so, that COULD be an argument to make. I would still disagree with it, because I do think it limits God’s choices in a way that no believer in free will would want their own will limited. And in fact, I doubt that the majority of baptists on the ground would agree with you. Most I have heard would say something like, “God didn’t have to create us, but he wanted to, he chose to.”

                  As to current day sin, I also have not heard most Christians say “God can’t prevent sin.” It seems most I’ve ever heard say something like, “God must have some reason for allowing people to carry out these sins.” Further, I don’t see how saying God can’t stop sin fits with nearly any eschatological view. They all seem to say that Jesus will, one day, at a time of his own choosing, return and stop all the sin.

                  As to the biblicality of it all, I see a God presented in scripture who raises nations and brings down kings, whose plans are never thwarted, who has power to step into human circumstances and change them, but who sometimes let’s evil temporarily have it’s way.

                  As to Ronnie, it seems we will have to await his part 4. His closing paragraph indicated that it would put forward his view of these things. I would be very surprised if he, or in fact any of the other regualar Traditionalist contributors here (Rick, Leighton, etc…) said God couldn’t have created a world without sin, or can’t prevent sin.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Andy: I wouldn’t say that God ‘has’ to do anything other than be God. If being creative is part of God’s nature, then maybe God has to create. But I wouldn’t try and pin God down on having to do this or that or anything other than be who he is which is God. The flip side of this is, as I’ve said before, that God cannot do anything which goes against his own nature.

                    Genesis is quite clear that creation was a collective decision made by God where he created everything that we now see around us and that it was good. But God did not prevent evil coming into the world in the beginning and I believe that is still the case today. It’s pointless arguing whether or not God could have done otherwise. The fact is he didn’t. Neither does he prevent evil from going on today and I believe this is for the same reason. It’s because God made us in His image and part of that means we have the God given ability to make choices.

                    Your comment that “It seems most I’ve ever heard say something like, God must have some reason for allowing people to carry out these sins” is just evidence of people’s mixed up thinking. The reason for evil goings on in the world is according to scripture “men chose darkness rather than light”. Note the use of choice!. We should not start blaming God for our mistakes.

                    You then go on to say … “I don’t see how saying God can’t stop sin fits with nearly any eschatological view. They all seem to say that Jesus will, one day, at a time of his own choosing, return and stop all the sin.” The two things are not mutually exclusive are they. Depending on your view of the ‘end times’ of course. But surely the message is “today if you hear …. do not harden” because there will come a time when today is no longer available. God does not step in to prevent sin ‘today’ because he is acting in grace. He has made a means of defeating sin which we can choose to accept or reject. He will also, at the end of time, step in and act. That’s the point where sin and death will be defeated. That’s the point where amazingly we will live in a world without sin.

                    BTW, God does act nowadays to contain sin, but not in the direct fashion which some imagine. He acts largely through human agencies although he can and does use the natural world as well. So when men make good laws and God’s laws are respected and followed, then we have peace and stability. This, I see as God acting to contain sin. But individual acts of wickedness cannot be prevented by God on an arbitrary basis. Why do we see famine on such a scale in the world? Is it not because of corrupt and weak government. These rulers are not following God’s laws are they and that’s why people suffer.

                    As to what Ronnie or Nick or Leighton say, well my thoughts are that they are quite capable of speaking for themselves, so I’d rather let them do just that.

                  Chris

                  “It’s odd really, because you’re attributing things to me which I haven’t and indeed wouldn’t say and not attributing things with which I concur! Odd really.”

                  …what every Calvinist said after reading the articles and posts on this site.

                    Paul N

                    Even though many of the comments and articles are written by people who used to be Calvinists. It seems you cannot understand Calvinism unless you currently believe it.

                    Chris

                    Paul N,

                    Your comment sort of proves my point. Non-Calvinists like yourself take something a Calvinist actually says or believes…and then interprets it and adds to it things that the Calvinist did not say or intend. Thank you for vindicating my point.

                Robert Vaughn

                No problem, Andy, but thanks. I sometimes get myself confused with the other Robert when I see his name in the postings! Maybe he needs to go by “Arminian Robert”. :-)

                I don’t identify as an Arminian or a Calvinist. I have my own soteriological viewpoint that doesn’t correspond with either one of them (and not Traditionalist/Extensivist, either).

                  Lydia

                  “He has made a means of defeating sin which we can choose to accept or reject. He will also, at the end of time, step in and act. That’s the point where sin and death will be defeated. That’s the point where amazingly we will live in a world without sin.”

                  Yes. All the scriptures are about His provision of RESCUE in one way or another.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Lydia: The opening verses of 2 Peter 1:15 either we believe he has done enough for us, or we don’t!

                    Lydia

                    “BTW, God does act nowadays to contain sin, but not in the direct fashion which some imagine. He acts largely through human agencies although he can and does use the natural world as well. So when men make good laws and God’s laws are respected and followed, then we have peace and stability. ”

                    Yes. The first thing we should ask is not why God allowed some horrible thing but what have we tried to do about it besides pray? But some are convinced human responsibility is a heresy. They call such Pelagians.

                    Blaming God for evil done to others or just plain old suffering actually ends up desensitizing us to it. It is a culture of death and has more in common with the superstitions of the Dark Ages. It took individual ingenuity to invent antibiotics and vaccines, for example. Before, many said if God did not want these horrible plagues, He would not allow them. People still say that today when it comes to similar!

                  Robert

                  Robert Vaughn,

                  “No problem, Andy, but thanks. I sometimes get myself confused with the other Robert when I see his name in the postings! Maybe he needs to go by “Arminian Robert”. :-)”

                  Since I hold both Traditionalist beliefs (including believer baptism, libertarian free will, that the guilt of Adam was not passed onto his descendants/each is responsible for their own sin, that Jesus died for the whole world, that the grace of God can and is sometimes resisted) and Arminian beliefs (including libertarian free will, that Jesus died for the whole world, that the grace of God can and is sometimes resisted) should I go by:

                  “Traditionalist/Arminian Robert”???? :-)

                  Of can I just keep it simple and go by “Robert” as I always have done? :-)

                  “I don’t identify as an Arminian or a Calvinist. I have my own soteriological viewpoint that doesn’t correspond with either one of them (and not Traditionalist/Extensivist, either).”

                  So what is YOUR soteriological viewpoint “Robert Vaughn”? :-)

                    Robert Vaughn

                    Robert (only Robert):

                    Was just kidding, obviously, except the fact that when I see a reply to Robert I first “think this post is about [to] me” (seems Carly Simon sang something about that). Besides, I realize anyone with a good name like Robert wouldn’t want to muck it up with some kind of modifier! :-)

                    Re my soteriology, I’ll try to be brief (not my greatest skill). I hope to start with the idea (whether successfully or not) of “What if God” did it however he wanted to do(whether predestination or free will or something else) and, if I find what he did not to my liking, try to remember “O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” We all come to our study of the topic with suppositions and find it hard not to whittle to fit different/difficult verses into those presuppositions.

                    I believe the understanding of the biblical doctrine of salvation flows from twin truths, that God is absolutely sovereign in salvation (not to be interpreted that he is bound to do it a certain way, but that salvation begins and ends with God); and that man suffers absolute impairment toward salvation (man cannot save himself; he is unwilling and unable to come to God by himself). Here are my “5 points” (which are actually seven):

                    Eternal preparation (Revelation 13:8; Acts 2:23)
                    Complete satisfaction (John 1:29; Romans 3:26)
                    Distinct application (John 1:12; Galatians 3:22)
                    Effective persuasion (John 6:29,37)
                    Responsible cooperation (1 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:15)
                    Spiritual procreation (John 1:13; 3:7)
                    Utmost preservation (Hebrews 7:25; 1 Peter 1:5)

                    The points play out something like this. God undertook from eternity to deliver man from sin, and in time (with his blood sacrifice) Jesus died to save all who believe. The Spirit draws men to Christ, and under that state of conviction one can become both willing and able to believe in Christ. All those who believe are born again, are justified through faith, and are kept by the power of God unto salvation.

                    Hope this makes sense.

              Lydia

              “Could he? Is he simply not powerful enough, or is there some other reason? (this is not the same as God CAUSING sin.) There is a strain of thought that says all these bad things in the world (murder, abuse, terror attacks), because while God really wants to prevent them, he just can’t…but I don’t think it is a very biblical view.”

              Piper teaches that tornados and such are God’s Wrath. He literally plans and executes then. However, the Same God who does not prevent such things, created humans, who when are not sidelined by religious authoritarianism, have invented early warning systems and clever ways to track terrorists and such. These humans have also decided now a guy like David should go prison for polygamy. Gasp!

              I think everyone is missing the point because there is this strain in Protestant thinking that wants to make God responsible for our sin or for not preventing it!

              I don’t read the OT the same way most seem to. I believe we must take ancient literary devices into consideration.

                Lydia

                “The opening verses of 2 Peter 1:15 either we believe he has done enough for us, or we don’t!”

                Just went and read it. Yes. Don’t hear that one preached much these days.

          Andrew Barker

          Robert Vaughn: You replied “Well, the question wouldn’t arise with us anyway, and God knows the answer. :-)” My response is, “who is the ‘us’ and why if the question wouldn’t arise did you raise the question in the first place?!

          Your use of the story of Abimelech is also interesting and to be honest raises more questions for you than it does for me. The text is not totally specific about how God prevented Abimelech from sinning other than that God spoke to him in a dream. But this does not mean the God forcibly prevented Abimelech but used the means available to him. Cross reference this with the story of Jonah who was specifically told by God to do something and guess what, Jonah disobeyed! But God is able to deal with both types of response, obedience and disobedience.

          What I find interesting about this story is that God sees the “integrity” of Abimelech’s heart! How do you square this with the concept of total depravity? In fact Abimelech shows himself to be more honourable than Abraham in this respect. Cue your second example of David. I can’t believe you actually chose this because again if there’s one person who demonstrates that God does not prevent us from sinning, it is David! In his young days he was truly honourable and did not kill Saul even when he had means and motive so to do. Yet in later life, we find him totally complicit in rape and murder. I appreciate that some people will balk at the ‘rape’ allegation but I think nowadays we have grown up and realise that people in positions of power and authority who use their office to obtain sexual pleasure cannot hide behind the plea of consent of the other party. It was rape and murder!

          So I agree that we can work with God and ask his help in preventing us from sinning, but the David who wrote Ps:19 also wrote Ps: 51 didn’t he! God has done everything he possibly can to prevent us from sinning, but we can’t claim that if and when we sin it’s because God “made me do it”.

            Robert Vaughn

            Andrew, ‘us’ is you and I or any of ‘us’ who wouldn’t exist if God hadn’t created this universe. But the question does arise with ‘us’ since we are here and discussing the topic. I raised the question in the first place to understand what you meant when you said that the majority of free will Christians don’t believe that God could have prevented sin — which you answered by saying you believe God didn’t have to create this universe, but that creating a moral universe would require the possibility of sin as a free choice.

            The story God of preventing Abimelech from sinning is, regardless of how we address all the non-specifics of how he did it, a story of God preventing Abimelech from sinning. It was Abimelech’s will/desire/free choice to take Sarah as his wife. God prevented it. Though Abimelech didn’t understand all the details of the situation, God nevertheless said it would be a sin against him. God did what some people say he can’t do. He prevented what Abimelech willed to do in this case. That is no contradiction of the fact that people can and do choose to disobey (as Jonah). I am not arguing that God will prevent everyone from sinning all the time. But he can do so when he chooses. We don’t (I think) disagree that God is able to deal with both obedience and disobedience.

            I find your distress over Psalm 19:13 unusual. Perhaps you think I am suggesting that God would keep David (or anyone else) from sinning all the time? I am not. We seem to agree that we can ask God’s help in preventing us from sinning, but then you go ahead to say that God has done everything he possibly can to prevent us from sinning. If he has already done everything he can do, what would be the point of praying “keep your servant also from willful sins” or “lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil”? This would mock prayer for God’s help, which I don’t think you intend to say.

              Andrew Barker

              Robert Vaughn: You state …”The story God of preventing Abimelech from sinning is, regardless of how we address all the non-specifics of how he did it, a story of God preventing Abimelech from sinning.” But I would suggest to you that the non-specifics which you brush over are not unimportant at all. The fact is that we agree the God intervened, but you seem to not wish to understand just ‘how’ God intervened. I’m suggesting that the dream is all we have to go on. In this case it appears to have worked because Abimelech responds in the correct way. Now, how else do you think the passage shows that God acts to prevent someone from sinning?

              I can’t see how you interpret my response to Ps:19 as distress. Seems perfectly Psalm to me. Why would David not ask God to keep him from willful sins? Seems a perfectly reasonable request to me and I might add, one which he should have continued making later on in life. You seem to have no comment on his willful rape and murder. That is quite telling actually! As for what we call The Lord’s Prayer, I am of the opinion that it is said too much and understood too little. There are stacks of Reformed/Calvinists who repeat the words “…. your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.. ” with precious little understanding that this implies that God’s will is constantly being ignored and is certainly not being done! That is after all, the reason for the prayer request and yet we hear a constant line or argument from the ‘Reformed’ that God’s is sovereign and therefore everything happens “according to his will”. If anyone’s mocking The Lord’s Prayer it’s not me, it’s them others!

                Robert Vaughn

                Andrew, concerning God preventing Abimelech from sinning you write, “I’m suggesting that the dream is all we have to go on.” Yes, that is what we have to go on. That’s what the text says. The fact that God prevented Abimelech from sinning by means of a dream does not negate the fact that God prevented Abimelech from sinning. Since it is God that said, “I have kept (or, withheld) you from sinning against me” I will accept that he did. Do you think the passage shows that God acted to prevent someone from sinning or not?

                My reference to your “distress” (not the best word choice) over Psalm 19:13 was a reference to your statement, “I can’t believe you actually chose this…” Because God did not prevent David from sinning with Bathsheba, numbering Israel and so on, then David shouldn’t pray to God to “keep your servant also from willful sins”? That’s what it sounded like to me, though you clarify that later by saying “Seems a perfectly reasonable request to me.” So maybe we are agreed there?

                You write, “You seem to have no comment on his willful rape and murder.” I’m glad your discernment is able to find it “quite telling actually”! Not sure what it tells though. I skipped it partly because of the fact that because God didn’t prevent one sin doesn’t prove he didn’t prevent another, and partly because you introduced the word “rape” which I really have no interest in arguing over. With Dennis Dabney, I am content to label David’s sin as adultery and murder (and, if I remember correctly, we could add some others as well, such as lying/deceipt). I understand that 21st century sensibilities and terminology will often refer to something like this as rape, but as far as I can tell the Bible defines it as adultery. No matter which name you or I choose, God clearly highlights it as a heinous act worthy of death (2 Sam 12:7-12).

                I don’t mind pleading guilty of understanding too little of The Lord’s Prayer (I call it The Model Prayer), but not of saying it too much. We don’t say/repeat it in any churches I hang out with. Be clear that I did not say you are mocking this prayer, but that if we say we can’t ask for God’s help to keep from sinning then we would be mocking prayer (in general) because the Bible indicates we should ask/pray God for such help.

                Lydia

                You seem to have no comment on his willful rape and murder. That is quite telling actually! As for what we call The Lord’s Prayer, I am of the opinion that it is said too much and understood too little. “There are stacks of Reformed/Calvinists who repeat the words “…. your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.. ” with precious little understanding that this implies that God’s will is constantly being ignored and is certainly not being done! That is after all, the reason for the prayer request and yet we hear a constant line or argument from the ‘Reformed’ that God’s is sovereign and therefore everything happens “according to his will”. If anyone’s mocking The Lord’s Prayer it’s not me, it’s them others!”

                Amen.

              Scott Shaver

              I would diverge from Robert’s view back to that of Andrew at this point: “God’s done everything he can do to prevent us from sinning”.

              The very fact that the “finished” work of Christ had to occur was because believers “after Christ”, due to sin and fallen nature, would not with 100% success (perfection), utilize/access by faith the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation and subsequent sin.

              I agree with Andrew. Makes me more fully appreciate the magnitude of what Christ was able to accomplish by faith when God took upon himself the limitations (for lack of a better term) of being human. Nobody else has been, will ever be able to reproduce a perfect life. That’s why his propitiation for sin was also perfect.

                Andrew Barker

                I think I’m allowed to say Amen to that! :-)

                  Scott Shaver

                  Andrew:

                  If one is a bonafide “Calvinist” would be more like “OH ME!”

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Brother Andrew,

            The Spirit of God was content to label David’s sin, adultery and murder.

            I would be more interested in Bath-Sheba side of the story along with David.

            Preach!

              Andrew Barker

              You and me brother. You and me. However, if you look at the account Nathan the prophet gives, he portrays Bathsheba as the little ewe lamb. I don’t think there’s any doubt that this was a liaison of unequals. David certainly didn’t think any blame attached to anybody except the ‘rich man’. Certainly gives a kind of different edge to that phrase we sometimes here today. “You’re the man!”

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                You are the Man!

                Adam held this position before David earned the official title and his wife Eve was as they say,was with him “Riding Dirty”. Her hands were dirty, while she had her copy of the Word of God wide open. Deceived yes but yet responsible for the truth she received. She was as it is written, in the transgression.

                Now since Bath-Sheba had just bathed the question is were her motives altogether “pure”?

                There is a reason why the text disclosure is as it is. This story is headed South in a hurry to the blasphemy of the Lord and Davd’s own shame as well as hers.

                Bath-Sheba doesn’t come out of this smelling like a rose by no stretch of the imagination. In this account David is the adulterer and Bath-Sheba the adulteress.

                Sure David had influence over her but he had even more over her husband Uriah.

                Bath-Sheba may have lived for David but Uriah her husband was willing to die for David.

                David had more influence over Uriah yet he would not obey the king in the matter of him going home to his wife.

                What a picture,what a contrast in regard to David having authority and influence over one of his faithful servants in that he would not obey him in this matter of going home.

                David lived out the consequences of his own sin. Suggesting he raped Bath-Sheba is a 21st century over analysis of the obvious.

                Many of my colleagues pile on David in this connection when teaching and preaching from this sad story in the life of the greatest king of Israel besides the King Eternal Himself.

                The record is clear and that should suffice.

                PreachBlackManPreach!

                  Andrew Barker

                  Well, this is off topic I guess so I’m not going to dwell long on it, but I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one. There is no indication in the Biblical record that Bathsheba committed adultery, a sin which could have seen both of them put to death? She was not a well off person and was probably bathing in the only place available to her which was the river. David made all the running by inquiring after her and if you know your biology well enough it was probably a week or so before she was brought to the palace.

                  The typical male reaction is to say “she made me sin by looking alluring …etc ” but I don’t think that washes. Maybe I”m viewing this through 21st century eyes but I don’t think she had much of an option in her day to do anything but to heed the King’s demand to go to the palace. The record is in truth rather brief, but it is clearly never viewed in scripture as an adulterous relationship.

Les

Ronnie,

Sproul says on p. 21 about sin and the fall, “We must assume that God knew in advance that man would fall. We must also assume that He could have intervened to stop it. Or He could have chosen to not create us at all. We grant all those hypothetical possibilities. Bottom line, we know that He knew that we would fall and that He went ahead and created us anyway.”

Do you agree with Sprout’s statement here? If not, why not?

Thanks.

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