Elected, And I Wasn’t Even Running

May 26, 2015

Marty Comer | Pastor
Sand Ridge Baptist Church, Lexington, TN

*This article was originally published at Dr. Comer’s website A Living Faith and was used by permission.

I received a call this past February from my mother. She informed me that the church she attends, the church in which I grew up, was saved, baptized, and nurtured in the faith, had a business meeting. In that meeting they “elected” me to preach at their Homecoming service this spring.

I am always a bit surprised when I’m elected for something for which I didn’t even know I was running.

I would be shocked if our local election commission called and told me that I had been “elected” as Sheriff of our county. Especially since I have never entertained the thought that I might wish to be a Sheriff. Furthermore, I’m more qualified to be Barney Fife than Andy Taylor. I wouldn’t even trust myself with a single bullet in my shirt pocket.

I would be mortified if I was called in November 2016 by a major political party leader and informed that the previous day I had been elected President of the United States. I’m not even thinking about running for the office. Though I have it on good authority that the present occupant will be leaving that office in about 20 months.

Being elected when you weren’t even running. What an amazing concept!

After receiving my mother’s call, I began to dwell on this situation and ask myself some questions concerning my election to preach the Homecoming service at my childhood church.

Is my election unconditional? Does it in any way depend on an action on my part? What if I don’t want to apply this election to my calendar? Do I have the freedom to choose to refuse this election? Can I resist?

If this election is unconditional, then why didn’t they call my brother to preach this service? He too, grew up, was saved and baptized in this church.  Is he invited to the service? Can he speak? Or is this election for me and not him? Maybe he has been left behind?

Perhaps my election was conditional. Maybe it depended on my being an ordained pastor. Could it be that they called me because I was a preacher and didn’t call my brother because he was a minister of music? Are music ministers not among their elect?

And if my election was conditional then I have choices to make. I have to receive their act of grace in calling me. I must choose not to resist the call. I must make a decision to apply their will to my calendar. They have provided the event, the date, the pulpit, and the meal to follow. I MUST SAY YES!  If not, I will miss out on the blessings of this election.

Though my election was a surprise I will receive it as a gift! I will apply it to my calendar! I will accept the benefits of being chosen, not before the foundation of the world, but at last February’s business meeting! Yes, I surrender all! I accept!

Then I asked myself this question: “Is there a biblical lesson on election in this little parable?”

Paul told the Ephesians that God “chose us in Him before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). Could it be that God made the decision and said, I “want all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (Timothy 2:4). In fact God attitude is that He does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). And to emphasize the point that God made the way for everyone to receive His offer to come to repentance, John reminds us that Jesus Christ “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Furthermore, Jesus’ death took place before I ever saw the light of day. In fact, his death was God’s plan long before the foundation of the world was laid. Long before I or anyone knew anything about Jesus, He was the “lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

In God’s wisdom and love, my being part of the elect happened before I even knew I was running! Jesus, the elect One, God’s only begotten Son, died to provide the means for you and I to have abundant and eternal life.

The call has been sent out. “The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take of the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).

God’s business meeting was held long before the world began. The call has gone out from a hill we know as Calvary.

You might not have even known you were running, but you can choose to be a part of the elect!

The elect are those who say “YES” to the call. God has done all He can. He has provided the Savior. He has provided the invitation. He extends the call. He wants you to come. And even though God has perfect foreknowledge of our decisions (Romans 8:29), your election is conditioned on your saying “yes.”

And “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

Say YES, I SURRENDER ALL!”

And when that great homecoming day arrives and we all get to heaven, the blessings, the fellowship, the worship and the meal will be better than any earthly Homecoming.

Even one with dinner on the grounds!

*After saying yes to the election by the church, I preached their homecoming service and I thanked them for their election to preach, for their gracious welcome, and for the blessings that have been brought into my life through their ministry and service to Christ.

 

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rhutchin

Reading in context–

Paul told the Ephesians that God “chose [His elect] in Him before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). Could it be that God made the decision and said, I “want [both Jews and gentiles] to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (Timothy 2:4). In fact God attitude is that He does not want “[His elect] to perish, but [wants His elect] to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). And to emphasize the point that God made the way for both Jews and gentiles to receive His offer to come to repentance, John reminds us that Jesus Christ “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world – [not the Jew only but the gentile also].” (1 John 2:2).

You might not have even known you were running away from God, but if God can choose you to be a part of the elect, God can put you on the right path.

    Andy

    Yep, I checked… I think you changed some words… :-)

      rhutchin

      That is why I wrote, “Reading in CONTEXT–” and used [brackets] to show [CONTEXT]. That I changed words is not the issue; the issue is whether I accurately portrayed the CONTEXT. What do you think? Did I get it right? If not, can you explain where I went wrong?

        Andy

        -Eph. 1 is likely referring to “the saints” from v. 1 (no real argument here…other NT Greetings refer to the saints as “the elect”.)
        -1 Tim. 2…the context is praying for all people, even kings…by your extended logic, should we only pray for the Elect, or non-elect leaders also?
        -2 Pet. 3:9 is referring to the coming of the Lord, so the context could fit either a Reformed view, or an omniscient Election based on foreseen faith view….ie God is patient waiting to return until all those he knows will believe have believed.
        (Putting both of these previous passages together, however, It is hard to make the case that God does not want all people to repent.)
        -You are likely correct that 1 John 2 is telling jews that Jesus didn’t just die for jews…however, a strict limited atonement view must make sense of verses like 2 Pet. 2:1 – in which false teachers are said to have been “bought” by christ.

          rhutchin

          Andy writes, “-Eph. 1 is likely referring to “the saints” from v. 1 (no real argument here…other NT Greetings refer to the saints as “the elect”.)”

          “…likely…”!!! Is there something else to which “…us…” can refer? Certainly, “…us…” refers to Paul and someone else. Is there any other candidate for the antecedent of “…us…” besides the “saints” identified in v1? What led you to say, “likely” given your statement that follows? Confusing, it is, to me.

          Anyway, when Pastor Comer writes, ” Then I asked myself this question: ‘Is there a biblical lesson on election in this little parable?’ Paul told the Ephesians that God “chose us in Him before the creation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), ” we can say that his election to speak being unknown to him is akin to God’s election of His saints (His elect) without their knowledge. Pastor Comer erroneously concludes, “your election is conditioned on your saying ‘yes.'” This is because God elected His saints before the creation of the world. Following Ephesians 1, we can conclude that God’s election of His saints reflects nothing that a person does.

          One might then counter that it does reflect what a person does because God looks into the future to see who says “yes” to God’s call. This view has God learning new information by looking into the future so God cannot be omniscient under this view. So, if a person is willing to give up the notion that God is omniscient, he can argue this position.

            Andy

            “…likely…”!!! Is there something else to which “…us…” can refer? Certainly, “…us…” refers to Paul and someone else. Is there any other candidate for the antecedent of “…us…” besides the “saints” identified in v1? What led you to say, “likely” given your statement that follows? Confusing, it is, to me.”

            Just being careful…I only glanced quickly at the passage so I didn’t study it enough to rule out any other possible antecedent.

              rhutchin

              The word just struck me as out of place – especially given what you said after that. It happens. The key point is that we both agree that Paul is referring to himself and the believers to whom the letter is written – or God’s elect and we can, by extension, read Paul as writing to us.

          rhutchin

          Andy writes, “-1 Tim. 2…the context is praying for all people, even kings…by your extended logic, should we only pray for the Elect, or non-elect leaders also?”

          So the issue is how to define “all people” in v1 and again in v4.

          In Ephesians 3, Paul writes, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation…This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

          As a man trained in the Jewish religion, this would have been huge and we might easily conclude that the revelation of this mystery dominated Paul’s thinking and influenced his letters. Thus, we can define “all people” as “both Jews and gentiles.” So Paul would have believers pray for Jews and gentiles for God wants both Jews and gentiles to come to a knowledge of the truth.

          However, as you note, v1 “everyone” would include kings and those in authority so that “we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” Here, “everyone,” seems to point to a person’s position in society as it gives them influence over the lives of believers – people for whom believers might not want to pray. While the focus of prayer might be for salvation, it could also include wisdom and understanding to govern wisely and justly.

          So, when Pastor Comer writes, “Could it be that God made the decision and said, I “want all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (Timothy 2:4),” he may be defining “all men” to be each and every individual. Not necessarily so is that definition. So men argue over the true context.

            Andrew Barker

            rhutchin: You state: “So the issue is how to define “all people” in v1 and again in v4”

            There is no ‘issue’ as how to define ‘all’ in these verses.
            vs 1. panton Adj GMP all referring to men anthropon N GMP
            vs 2. panton Adj GMP all referring to kings basileon N GMP and also in authority N DFS being onton VPPA GMP
            vs 4. panton Adj AMP all referring to men anthropous N AMP
            vs 6. panton Adj GMP all referring to ransom antilytron N ANS

            So we have all men everywhere are to pray for kings and all in authority so that we can all live in peace. Because God wants all men everywhere to be saved and come to know Jesus who gave himself as a ransom for all men. That’s about all there is to say really but it’s all we need.

            So you can go off on your little sorties to find out whether all means all kinds or all types or anything else you may wish to invent. But the fact of the matter is, you are all over the place and all out of context!

              volfan007

              Andrew,

              Amen, Brother!

              David

              rhutchin

              Andrew Barker writes, “So we have all men everywhere are to pray for kings and all in authority so that we can all live in peace.”

              I doubt that Paul would mean this (and of course, he does not say this). At most, Paul is instructing all believers to pray but not unbelievers. Paul is not concerned with unbelievers here except as they are the objects of the believers prayers.

              Andrew Barker writes, “Because God wants all men everywhere to be saved…”

              Is this statement true if “all men” means each and every person who ever lives? Does this include those of whom Jude wrote, “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord…They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved for ever.” Their condemnation has already been recorded and hell reserved for them. So, in what sense are we to conclude that God wants them to be saved? These people cannot change the destiny that God has decreed for them and that decree issued before they were born.

                Andrew Barker

                rhutchin: Yes I do believe God would have all men everywhere pray to him for all sorts of things, not just Kings, but certainly those and others in authority. Why would I cast doubt on that?

                Unbelievers? God would love them to pray, wouldn’t you?
                Hell reserved for the wicked. Yes, but does God desire the death of the wicked? Don’t ask me, ask God! He’s already said he doesn’t (I think) so unless you’ve been told that God has changed his mind on this?

                God has decreed what will happen to those who deny and reject his offer of salvation, but it’s only your version of Reformed theology that insists that God has decreed who will and who will not accept his offer. There’s no Biblical support for this position is there!

            Andy

            1. “As a man trained in the Jewish religion, this would have been huge and we might easily conclude that the revelation of this mystery dominated Paul’s thinking and influenced his letters. Thus, we can define “all people” as “both Jews and gentiles.”
            >This is weak speculation… The simple fact of Paul’s Jewish upbringing does not mean we can automatically insert “Jews and gentiles” every time paul says something about “all people.”

            2. The fact remains that in this passage, Election is not mentioned.

            Les Prouty

            Andrew,

            Just curious. Are you saying that whenever we see that particular Greek construction in the NT that we can conclude that “all” always means “all w/o exception?”

              Don Johnson

              Les,

              All always means all, unless the context (not ones theology) indicates otherwise.

                Andrew Barker

                Thank you Don. I was going to ‘pas’ on that one! :)

                Les Prouty

                Probably a good idea to pass on that one. Fact is that exact Greek construction is used elsewhere where it cannot mean all w/o exception. So citing the Greek in that verse does nothing to help your cause. Context and the analogy of faith are two vital factors.

                  Scott Shaver

                  “Elsewhere” being the key chink in the armour of your interpretation here.

                  “Elsewhere” ignores specific context. Might as well “pass” on “bridge out, road under construction”.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Scott: I think Les disagrees :) (and I don’t deny his prerogative to do that) but as ever he fails to actually cite chapter and verse where the exact construction is used to mean w/o exception. Let’s see whether he can engage in the cut and thrust of debate and not just cut and ….. I won’t say it! :)

                  Les Prouty

                  Thanks Scott for helping make my case, along with Don and even Andrew contra Andrew’s Greek posting. Context is a key, as is the analogy of faith.

                  Posting this particular Greek construction as a sort of refutation of rhutchin does nothing really, since the exact same Greek construction occurs elsewhere where we would all agree that it cannot mean all men of all time w/o exception.

                  Thanks again.

                    Scott Shaver

                    I wouldn’t be so quick to thank me yet….Les.

                    I did not mean “context” solely with regard to your affinity for Greek work construction……I mean’t primarily the context of the ENTIRE BOOK OF EPHESIANS going back to rutchin’s attempts at expositon.

                    Scott Shaver

                    Les: You may see “analogy” as key….I certainly do not.

                    Robert

                    And let’s say that Les is correct that this same Greek construction may appear somewhere else and not mean literally all. Don’s principle still applies, why do we determine it not to mean literally all in another passage? By the context. So Les’ appeal to other places where the Greek construction may have a different meaning fails: because we are not talking about in those other places, but here.

                  Les Prouty

                  For all (without exception) who are missing my point, I have said that context is key, along with the analogy of faith.

                  “By the context. So Les’ appeal to other places where the Greek construction may have a different meaning fails: because we are not talking about in those other places, but here.”

                  Of course we are talking about here (1 Tim). And my point fails not still. The introduction of the Greek construction re the 1 Tim passage in an attempt to refute rhutchin means zip, nada. Why? Because the exact same construction of the exact same words occur elsewhere and do not and cannot mean all men w/o exception.

                  In 1 Tim, and in the other passage I am speaking of (look it up for yourself Andrew since you were able to find this one in 1 Tim) context is the key, along with the analogy of faith.

                  “Let’s see whether he can engage in the cut and thrust of debate and not just cut and ….. I won’t say it! :)” Here I am brother.

                  Note: I have not even said what I think the interpretation of the 1 Timothy passage is Robert brother (re your “Calvinist/determinists like Les just seem to forget it when the passage in question contradicts their false Calvinistic theology.”)

                  Quite amusing this is my brothers.

                    Robert

                    Les apparently sees himself as Yoda the Star Wars character:
                    “And my point fails not still.”
                    “I have not even said what I think the interpretation of the 1 Timothy passage is Robert brother”
                    “Quite amusing this is my brothers.”
                    Not only is Les not wise as Yoda is, writing in this way just makes his posts more difficult to read.

                    On the serious side, Les does not understand the point that if it means something else in another context (say it does not mean all), you cannot take that meaning from that other context and then read it into another context where it does mean all. Again context determines the meaning not just the Greek words or phrase that is used. It might be fun to hear Les’s attempt at interpreting the 1 Tim. passage: as it can get quite comical seeing calvinists mangle this text as they read in their “all without distinction” concept into this text where it was never intended by the biblical writer.

                    Scott Shaver

                    Again Les I ask: What in Sam Hill is the “analogy of faith”?

                    Have absolutely no idea what you mean…..but bet I could make a pretty close guess.

                  Les Prouty

                  “On the serious side, Les does not understand the point that if it means something else in another context (say it does not mean all), you cannot take that meaning from that other context and then read it into another context where it does mean all. Again context determines the meaning not just the Greek words or phrase that is used.”

                  Understand it I do. :) I just wish I had Yoda’s residuals.

                  Robert says, “Again context determines the meaning not just the Greek words or phrase that is used.”

                  Les said above, “In 1 Tim, and in the other passage I am speaking of (look it up for yourself Andrew since you were able to find this one in 1 Tim) context is the key, along with the analogy of faith.”

                  So we agree and for the 3rd or 4th time, that has been my point–context (along with analogy of faith) are key to interpreting what “all” means “all without exception” or not. To borrow your way of phrasing things Robert, I have corrected you guys on this several times. No need to keep insisting that I don’t understand that context is important. I have stipulated that several times and in fact have said that from the beginning of my comments.

                  Les Prouty

                  Scott,

                  “Again Les I ask: What in Sam Hill is the “analogy of faith”?

                  Have absolutely no idea what you mean”

                  I apologize Scott. I didn’t see where you previously asked what the analogy of faith is.

                  The analogy of faith is a principle of interpretation that says that scripture interprets scripture. The LBC 1689 says it this way,

                  “The infallible rule for the interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself, and therefore whenever there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched by other passages which speak more clearly.”

                    Andy

                    1. For further explaination: “Analogy” refers to the “comparison” between scritpures…”faith” refers simply to the body of doctrine, ie, “the faith”. Whatever is not analogous to the body of faith must be studied further until it is analogous and does not contradict.

                    2. Of course, every Calvinist, arminian, traditionalist, and Non-labeled Christian would agree with this…AND would agree that context must guide our interpretation…which is why it does exactly ZERO good for someone to disagree with another simply by saying, “Oh, but if you look at the context and remember the analogy of faith you’ll see that you are wrong.” If they don’t explain what exactly in the context proves their point, or show exactly where a person’s statements are disagreeing with another scripture, then the statement itself is meaningless.

                    Les Prouty

                    Andy, exactly right!

                    “which is why it does exactly ZERO good for someone to disagree with another simply by saying, “Oh, but if you look at the context and remember the analogy of faith you’ll see that you are wrong.”

                    Exactly right again!

                    Scott Shaver

                    I see ….akin to the template of cannonical interpretation.

                    Reject them both completely. What do you do with Christians like me who reject your interpretive standards?

                Robert

                Thanks for sharing that Don, that is the basic rule/approach to take with the word “all” in New Testament texts.

                rhutchin

                Don Johnson writes, “All always means all, unless the context (not ones theology) indicates otherwise.”

                No, “All always means all within the context in which it appears.”

                Context can define it as “all believers,” “all in Adam,” “all in Christ,” “all Democrats,” “all whatever.” Of course, one must first define “all” and within the Scriptures, we get our definitions from those Scriptures.

                I’ll take a wild guess and say that you got your definition of “all” from Webster’s Dictionary and not from the Scriptures. If not, you would be the first not to have done so. So, what Scriptures gave you the definition of “all” that you apply in Timothy?

              Les Prouty

              Don,

              I totally agree. But my question on the Greek remains.

                Robert

                And your question is answered, the same Greek construction may have different meaning in DIFFERENT CONTEXTS. As always, the key is context. This is true not just in Greek but in other languages like English as well. Most native speakers of natural languages understand this principle, apparently Calvinist/determinists like Les just seem to forget it when the passage in question contradicts their false Calvinistic theology.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Robert: The reason for posting the Greek words used, was simply to illustrate that the same word was being used throughout the first few verses of 1 Tim 2. Of itself of course this doesn’t prove or disprove anything regarding context. But the context in 1 Tim 2 does not support the idea of ‘all kinds’ in any obvious way. Those holding a Reformed viewpoint will foist their theology onto the text and interpret it accordingly. I’ve actually come across one Calvinistic ‘exegesis’ which was blatant enough to say that it has to be ‘all kinds’ in verse 4 because if not, that would conflict with the idea of election and God’s predetermined choice of who can be saved!

                  But Les has still not come up with any verses showing the same construction used in 1 Tim 2 but which have the word ‘pas’ used in the context of ‘all kinds’ or ‘types of’. Until he does, I think it’s fair to assume that he is declining this opportunity because it’s much easier to refer to ‘other passages’ than it is to put them down in black and white for everyone to review and comment on.

                  Scott Shaver

                  A.K.A. “The Analogy of Faith”

                  Les Prouty

                  Andrew,

                  “But Les has still not come up with any verses showing the same construction used in 1 Tim 2…”

                  You found the Greek constructs you copied and pasted. Do your own homework. I have faith in ya!

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: I’ve done my homework Les. But you are evading the question. You were quick to say “Fact is that exact Greek construction is used elsewhere where it cannot mean all w/o exception” but you’re rather slow to come up with any concrete example. There is no substance to your remarks it would appear. Just off the cuff comments!

                  Les Prouty

                  Andrew,

                  “But you are evading the question. You were quick to say “Fact is that exact Greek construction is used elsewhere where it cannot mean all w/o exception” but you’re rather slow to come up with any concrete example. There is no substance to your remarks it would appear. Just off the cuff comments!”

                  Not off the cuff at all brother. Call it off the cuff or whatever you want. It’s there, and as one of another non Cal said here a while back (in essence), do your own homework. If you want to know where the examples are, get the Greek out and have at it.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: I admit to not knowing how your mind works, you Calvinists are always appealing to ‘mystery’, so I don’t want to second guess which verses you would come up with. I’m sure you have copy ready, but again my guess is that it doesn’t really prove what you want to prove so it’s in your interests to ‘play’ dumb ;-)

                    A few things are certain though. When you come out with statements such as …..”For all (without exception) who are missing my point, I have said that context is key, along with the analogy of faith” we haven’t got a clue what you’re on about…… period!

                  Les Prouty

                  Andrew,

                  “we haven’t got a clue what you’re on about…… period!”

                  You speak for others?

                  Sorry bro. Can’t help you with you not having a clue.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: When I used the phrase “we haven’t got a clue” it was being used as a figure of speech. You yourself have used this turn of phrase, but no matter. It’s my own fault, I should have realised that you have problems with reading things in context. I admit I have no idea just how many people are clueless as to what your comment “The Analogy of Faith” means and I’m not that gauche to ask others (if there are any of course) to pile in with their support. I’ll let the facts speak for themselves.

          rhutchin

          Andy writes, “-2 Pet. 3:9 is referring to the coming of the Lord, so the context could fit either a Reformed view, or an omniscient Election based on foreseen faith view….ie God is patient waiting to return until all those he knows will believe have believed.”

          The foreseen faith view has God looking into the future to discover who will believe. It necessarily denies that God is omniscient.

          If we grant that God is omniscient then 2 Peter 3:9 is fought between Universlaists and non-Universalists. The Universalists claim that the means that God is not willing for any individual to perish – thus, God will save all. The non-Universalists say that God is willing for some to perish (as is stated clearly in other Scriptures), so the non-Universalist goes looking for the antecedent of “any” that is more limited and only the reformed have offered an analysis here.

          Pastor Comer writes, “In fact God attitude is that He does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).” He seems to side with the Universalists here – at least I don’t see him denying that God is omniscient.

            Andy

            You are misrepresenting the views of others, including Pastor Comer. I doubt he denies omniscience, OR subscribes to Universalism.

              rhutchin

              I also don’t think Pastor Comer denies omniscience or subscribes to universalism. What are we to conclude then about his use of the verses he cites above? They are probably not verses he should be using to make his case regarding election. We need to be careful to think before we act – especially in citing verses to support that which we want to believe.

              Andy

              1. The foreseen faith view may be over-all weaker than the corporate election view (which in my opinion must include some form of a foreseen faith view…) , but it does not believe what you claim. If God is omnicient, he does not “learn” whether men will have faith by looking down history…he simply KNOWS. A classical arminian does not deny omniscience.

              2. Believing “God is not willing that any should perish” (ie, believing what the verse actually says…) does not mean believing God WILL save all. It means God desires that none should perish…but the non-reformed position also believes God has granted men the will and ability to refuse him if they choose to (perhaps because choice is required for real love to occur…perhaps some other reason…the truth is that we don’t know)…the non-Calvinist believes that God desires to save all…but that he also desires that men choose him freely without being made to choose him…and that the desire for a free choice is greater than the desire that all choose him.
              THEREFORE…It is unfair and unhelpful to say that they are promoting universalism.

                rhutchin

                Andy writes, “1. The foreseen faith view may be over-all weaker than the corporate election view (which in my opinion must include some form of a foreseen faith view…) , but it does not believe what you claim. If God is omnicient, he does not “learn” whether men will have faith by looking down history…he simply KNOWS. A classical arminian does not deny omniscience.”

                We can say that God just knows without suggesting how God knows, but we can also say that God does not know by having to look into the future to see who chooses to believe as this has God learning something He did not already know without looking into the future. Why would people describe it as “foreseen” faith if not to make it seem that God sees something before it happens and only knows because He has foreseen it? Why not just say that God knows His elect (and knew them before He created any of them) and their faith is foreknown – or certain – because they are His elect?

                When you write, “…some form of a foreseen faith…”, what form did you have in mind that might be properly considered?

                  Andy

                  “…but we can also say that God does not know by having to look into the future to see who chooses to believe as this has God learning something He did not already know without looking into the future.”

                  >>>YOU can say this. I have not said this, nor any “foreseen faith” subscriber, sans open theists.

                  “Why would people describe it as “foreseen” faith if not to make it seem that God sees something before it happens and only knows because He has foreseen it? Why not just say that God knows His elect (and knew them before He created any of them) and their faith is foreknown – or certain – because they are His elect?”

                  >>>Um, because they don’t think that’s true…they see a different order of cause & effect…reverse in fact.

                  “When you write, “…some form of a foreseen faith…”, what form did you have in mind that might be properly considered?”

                  >>>Simply that although Corporate Election (simply put: God Elects Christ as his chosen one…and corporately elects all who will believe in him, without actually choosing which people will believe) does not do away with the idea that God knows who will believe…All 3 Election models believe that. So Corporate election, Conditional Election based on foreseen faith, and Unconditional individual election ALL include the idea that God knows who will believe. Corporate election simply believes MORE than that, AND it does not make foreseen faith the basis of Election, but rather makes the person’s ACTUAL faith in Christ, in time, the basis of election. (I think that’s right, some expert on CE can correct me).

                    Andy

                    I apologize for the “um” above. It was sarcastic, unkind, unnecessary, and unhelpful to this discussion.

                rhutchin

                Andy writes, “2. Believing “God is not willing that any should perish” (ie, believing what the verse actually says…) does not mean believing God WILL save all. It means God desires that none should perish……”

                The use of the negative prevents our looking at it this way. By using the negative, Peter expresses a truth in the strongest possible way – God is not willing that any perish – which divorced from its context can be taken to mean that God is not going to allow any person who ever lives to perish as the Universalist say. However, the word, “any,” should be taken in context to apply to those whom Peter has previously described and now referred to as “any.” We look back to find the antecedent of “any” and thereby discover their identity – which the reformers link to the earlier “you.” Thus we read v9 as:

                “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting any of you to perish, but every one of you to come to repentance.”

                We need only discover who comprise the “you” of whom Peter speaks and our understanding is complete.

              Robert

              Glad to see that Andy makes this same observation: rhutchin repeatedly claims that noncalvinists who hold to universal atonement are universalists and that we deny omniscience. Both claims are false. My question is how long will rhutchin keep making these false claims against non-Calvinists????????

                rhutchin

                No, I continually wonder why those who say they are not Universalist insist on borrowing the Universalist arguments to argue against Calvinism. How is it that one feels free to argue as an Universlist but then denies being an Universalist. Seems curious to me.

                I only claim that those who advocate foreseen faith necessarily deny omniscience. If you (or anyone else) actually advocates foreseen faith, you can always provide a definition that does not conflict with omniscience. That would help clear up confusion.

                  Robert

                  I just don’t get it: rhutchin repeatedly attacks non-calvinists as “universalists.” He has been corrected on this repeatedly and yet keeps making this false accusation. Once again, non-Calvinists believe that Jesus died for the whole world (rhutchin calls people who take this position as “universalists”). But genuie universalists believe that eventually all people will be saved. But the non-calvinists posting here whether they be Traditionalists, Arminians, Molinists, believe there are Bible verses that do in fact teach that not everyone will be saved that some will end up eternally separated/end up in hell. There, I have done it again, corrected rhutchin’s false claim.

                  Does that mean that now he will cease to make this false claim about non-Calvinists at this website and others????????????

          rhutchin

          Andy writes, “-You are likely correct that 1 John 2 is telling jews that Jesus didn’t just die for jews…however, a strict limited atonement view must make sense of verses like 2 Pet. 2:1 – in which false teachers are said to have been “bought” by christ.”

          Certainly 2 Peter 2;1 is interesting in the least because of the word Peter uses for “Lord” in view of the word he could have used but did not.

          So, the reformed writers say that it is God who bought the false prophets since it was God who paid for them with Christ’s death. In effect, then, the false teachers are denying God (as emissaries of Satan would be expected to do – “Hath God said?” is one of his more famous lines).

            Andy

            “So, the reformed writers say that it is God who bought the false prophets since it was God who paid for them with Christ’s death.”

            I don’t understand what you are saying here…it seems you are saying that unsaved non-elect people were paid for with Christ’s death.

              rhutchin

              In that same sense of which Moses spoke to Israel, “Do you thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he your father that hath bought thee?” (Deuteronomy 32:6) By His death on the cross, God made Christ “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2). Thus, God could have chosen any, or all, to be His elect before the foundation of the world. These, of whom Peter speaks are reprobate, passed over by God, and now showing their true nature in denying God.

              So, one way to look at it. It is not necessary that we read Peter as referring to Christ as the one who bought them which would mean that Christ had redeemed them – an interpretation of the Universalists.

              David (NAS) Rogers

              “These, of whom Peter speaks are reprobate, passed over by God, and now showing their true nature in denying God.”

              And yet, Peter says “the Master . . . bought them.” What does the aorist participle bought “agorazo” describe in the transaction of buying? From what were they bought? Toward what were they bought? What does their false teaching work against since they were “bought” by the “Master” (“despotes” same term as in Jude 4 referring to Christ; cf. also 2 Tim. 2:21)?

              Just for information, the Deut. 32:6 term for “bought” is “ktaomai” rather than “agorazo.”

                rhutchin

                That they were bought by God makes them God’s to do with as He pleases – so God purchased all and some He saves and some He doesn’t.

                Jude 4 and 2 Tim illustrate the issue – Have the NT writers been inspired to use the term, despotes, consistently to refer to God with kurios being used of Christ or has the term been applied to God in some instances and Christ is others. I am inclined to assume consistency and you are not; thus, we will arrive at different interpretations but we know why they differ.

                Then we have the issues you raise – If God is said to have bought humanity, to what purpose but if Christ is said to have bought humanity, to what purpose? Regardless who bought humanity, are they not His (whether God or Christ) to do with as He pleases?

                So, are we to consider the Septuagint to be inspired and free of error?

                  David (NAS) Rogers

                  The term “despotes” is explicitly applied to Christ in Jude 4. The term “despotes” and “kurios” are headed by the one article “ton” followed by the adjective “monon” with the noun “despoten” joined to “kurion” by the conjunction “kai” and followed by the possessive pronoun “hemon” with the referent Jesus Christ following thus being rendered — “our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ” which is then followed by the present participle “denying”. The term “despotes” thus refers to Christ. The Granville-Sharp rule supports this, unless you can appeal to how the use of the one article and pronoun bracketing does not apply in this case.

                  What is the event to which the aorist participle “bought” refers? When did God purchase them? The readers of 2 Peter obviously would have known about the purchasing event, so what is the referent?

                    rhutchin

                    This is why I would like to know Greek. Granville sharp basically says that the grammatical structure of the phrase indicates that we are talking about one person and not two. So, the question is which person is Jude speaking of, God or Christ. Are despotes and kurios both meant to apply to Christ or is it possible that kurios is to be subordinate to despotes. Do we translate the verse as:

                    1. the only (master and Lord) of us – Jesus Christ – denying, or
                    2. the only master (God) – even our Lord Jesus Christ – denying.

                    What is the situation Jude is describing. Are these false teachers denying God (and thereby denying Christ) or are they denying Christ?

                    Had Jude not included the phrase regarding Christ, this verse would translate as “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God,…” No problem, right! But Jude just had to add – “kurion hemon Jesus Christ.” What was he thinking?

                    Anyway, at this point, I am taking the term, despotes, to always be a reference to God within context.

                    In 2 Peter, we seem to have the same warning about these false teachers. However, Peter does not muddy the waters (so to speak) by including a reference to Christ. Peter just says, “there will be false teachers among you…denying the sovereign Lord…” I take Peter to be referring to God only because I assume despotes refers to God..

                  Jim P

                  Hello Rhutchin,

                  Insightful question you are asking. Yes, Greek does plays a role as does the granville-sharp rule but it is definitely not just Greek. The word ‘despot’ occurs 10 time in the NT and usually connotes political authority. When Jesus states, ‘all authority has be given to me,’ in Matthews gospel this is probable in reference that political power.

                  The word ‘Lord’ in the Jude passage though is probably the one that is so hard to swallow, for particularly the Jewish world from where Jude came out out. It is in reference to the Jews ‘one and only true God,’ Jehovah.

                  You should take a Greek course.

                  Peace

Max

While you superior intellects debate jots and tittles, I’m just glad that I have a simple pea-brain belief that when Paul preached to the pagans at Mar’s Hill “God is not far from ‘every one’ of us” and that “God commandeth ‘all’ men ‘every where’ to repent” (Acts 17:27,30), that he knew what he was talking about! I can hear the shouts now “Well, didn’t Paul also know what he was talking about in Romans 9?!” To which I respond “Yes, but do we?”

I’m an old man who has been exposed to teachings and traditions of men of all shapes and sizes. I have cluttered my aging brain with considerations of diverse religious beliefs and practices. I have studied enough creeds, confessions, and statements of faith to fill a lifetime (an exercise that has darn near filled mine). I have examined theologies from concise and clear to complex and systematic and discovered a few nuggets worth further examination. But the truth embedded amidst the noise has moved from my mind to my knower … what is in my knower I can’t un-know; what I see, I can’t un-see. At the end of the day, I find myself retreating to childlike faith that can look every man in the eye and say “Jesus loves YOU … Jesus died for YOU” and rejoice in that reality with every fiber in my being. I’m praying for a red-hot revival where God will elect some more soon!

Cyrus Robinson

“God has done all He can.”

What a heartbreaking and tragic thing to say about our eternally sovereign God! The blasphemy expressed here is truly such a destructive force within the SBC.

    Robert

    Cyrus I believe that you are being a bit harsh towards Marty here (“The blasphemy expressed here”). He meant that God has done everything he desired to do to in establishing his plan of salvation. We may not have worded it as Marty did: perhaps something like “God set up the plan of salvation in exactly the way he intended it to be” might be preferable. I seriously doubt that Marty was trying to challenge God’s sovereignty or lessen his omnipotence by his comment. A less than the best statement is not sufficient for the charge that he was expressing “blasphemy.”

    rhutchin

    “God has done all He can. He has provided the Savior. He has provided the invitation. He extends the call. He wants you to come.”

    Is that “all” that God could do? Maybe a tad more effort on God’s part was called for. Surely God could have done more if He really wanted to to save more.

      Andrew Barker

      rhutchin: It’s about time we answer you according to your folly. “Who are you, O man who answers back to God?!”

        rhutchin

        God could have done for the reprobate at least that which He did for His elect – if it were so that He wanted to save the reprobate. We need only let God describe some things that God tells us he did for His elect to save them (a few selections)–

        “God rescued us (His elect) from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,…” (Col 1)
        “…it is God who works in you (His elect) to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2)
        “God chose us (His elect) in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will..In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,…” (Eph 1)
        “we know, brothers loved by God (His elect), that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. ” (1 Thess 1)
        “we ought always to thank God for you (His elect), brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess 2)

        Had God done these things for the reprobate, would not they have been saved also? God never speaks of doing such things for the reprobate.

          Robert

          I don’t usually comment on something rhutchin says but I just cannot resist with this post. **Repeatedly** rhutchin speaks of “reprobates”. Where **in the Bible** does it ever say that someone is a “reprobate”? It doesn’t. Theological determinists get this concept/idea from their own theology (if God chooses some to be saved, the elect, then what should we call those he chooses for damnation? Their answer is “reprobates”) and from a certain but mistaken interpretation of a passage in Romans 9 (which is not discussing God’s selection of some for damnation in eternity: rather it is talking about nonbelievers that God was patiently enduring in time, in real history, specifically during the first century when Paul wrote Romans). And yet rhutchin waxes on here about these supposed “reprobates” a concept derived from his false calvinistic system.

            rhutchin

            Before God created the world, He knew the identities of all the people who would ever live and He knew which would be saved and which would not be saved. The term, “reprobate,” just refers to those sinners that God knew were never going to believe in Christ. So, you don’t believe that God knew those who would not be saved and knew them before He created the world. We disagree on this point.

              Andy

              “So, you don’t believe that God knew those who would not be saved and knew them before He created the world.”

              –Seriously, Rhutchin, you are making your arguments weaker and weaker by the constant mis-statement of other’s beliefs…the issue here is not whether God knew something…it is whether he caused it. Stick with the argument at hand, stop telling people they are denying omniscience and supporting universalism, and you will have a stronger place from which to debate.

              –As to your actual point…this statement of yours seems to muddy the issue a bit:

              “The term, “reprobate,” just refers to those sinners that God knew were never going to believe in Christ.”

              –In the reformed construct, isn’t the entire REASON for election and irresistible grace the fact that left to themselves, NO ONE would believe in Christ? If so, your definition above is, at best, incomplete. It should read, “The term, “reprobate,” just refers to those sinners God knew that he was never going to elect or give the gift of faith to believe in Christ.”

              ****Finally, for Robert, it IS possible for a non-calvinist to use the term reprobate, simply to describe those who have spurned God’s grace offered to them, or those in Romans 1 or 9 who have hardened in their self-inflicted rejection of God…as in a sermon warning people about the dangers of becoming reprobate….although always, defining the term would be important.

                Scott Shaver

                Would add making his argument weaker by insistence upon adoption by others of extra-biblical terms and templates as well.

                ……goin off the rails on a crazy train.

                Robert

                Andy,

                “Seriously, Rhutchin, you are making your arguments weaker and weaker by the constant mis-statement of other’s beliefs…the issue here is not whether God knew something…it is whether he caused it. Stick with the argument at hand, stop telling people they are denying omniscience and supporting universalism, and you will have a stronger place from which to debate. “

                Valid points here.

                Especially the point that just because God knows something is happening, did happen in the past, or will happen in the future, it does not follow that he caused it to happen. Just because God knows something does not mean that he caused it. The best example of this principle of course, is sin. God knows every sin that will occur: does it follow that he caused them all? No, we caused them all and God did not necessitate our sin by means of some causal process.

                “****Finally, for Robert, it IS possible for a non-calvinist to use the term reprobate, simply to describe those who have spurned God’s grace offered to them, or those in Romans 1 or 9 who have hardened in their self-inflicted rejection of God…as in a sermon warning people about the dangers of becoming reprobate….although always, defining the term would be important.”

                I understand that a non-Calvinist might choose to use that term. I do not think it would be wise however, as it **is** a theological determinist’s term (meaning that God **chooses/selects** some to be damned from eternity, those selected for damnation then never have a chance to believe) and using this term could easily lead to unnecessary confusion.

                For the non-Calvinist a person ends up in hell ***not because they were chosen by God for it*** (as is the case in reprobation) but because: (1) they have sinned and without the atonement of Christ have no covering for their sin, and (2) they repeatedly choose to reject God for their entire lifetime (God causes neither (1) or (2) in the thinking of non-Calvinists).

                Andy, why not just stick to the biblical term for those who do not believe: unbelievers?

                Why do we need to borrow this unbiblical concept from the mistaken thinking of theological determinists when this term is never even found in the Bible?

                Why not just stick to the word “unbeliever” as scripture does?

                  Andy

                  I suppose I see it as a side issue…we use non-biblical terms all the time without seeing an uproar everytime they are used: Trinity comes to mind.

                rhutchin

                Andy writes “……the issue here is not whether God knew something…it is whether he caused it.”

                Robert complains about my use of the term, “reprobate.” I argued that God knew – before He created the first human – all the humans that would live and He also knew whether they would be saved. The term, “reprobate,” identifies those not to be saved. Robert says the term “reprobate” is “a concept derived from his false calvinistic system.” That false Calvinistic system includes the concept of an omniscient God. So is Robert denying that God is omniscient (because that is what the false Calvinistic system says)? If not, then what is the problem with giving the label, “reprobate,” to those God knows will not be saved? Help me out here. What do you see as Robert’s problem with “reprobate”?

                I did not see that Robert was arguing about whether God caused it – that having nothing to do with the term, “reprobate.”.

                Andy writes “…for Robert, it IS possible for a non-calvinist to use the term reprobate, simply to describe those who have spurned God’s grace offered to them,…”

                Calvinists would say that the reprobate spurn God’s actual offer of salvation (not just the grace that would enable them to spurn that offer).

                Andy writes “…your definition above is, at best, incomplete. It should read, “The term, “reprobate,” just refers to those sinners God knew that he was never going to elect or give the gift of faith to believe in Christ.”

                OK, so then we have, “The term, “reprobate,” just refers to those sinners that God knew were never going to believe in Christ and God knew that he was never going to elect to save them and give them the gift of faith to believe in Christ.” It goes without saying that, if God had chosen to give them the gift of faith to believe in Christ, they would be saved.

Mestes

Pastor Comer has responded to the comments in this thread, and you can go check them out over at http://www.martycomer.com

    rhutchin

    Good articles should generate discussion. Judging by the discussion that ensued, Pastor Comer wrote a very good article. That’s the way it should be.

      Max

      Don’t you mean “regenerate”? ;^)

        rhutchin

        But, of course! :=)

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