Is the Gospel for All People or Only Some People?

August 10, 2015

by Dr. Adam Harwood

*This a portion of an article taken from the Journal For Baptist Theology and Ministry and is used by permission.

Dr. Adam Harwood is: Associate Professor of Theology (occupying the McFarland Chair of Theology), Director of the Baptist Center for Theology & Ministry, and Editor of the Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 

Learn more about Dr. Harwood HERE
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The goal of this article is to address the question: “Is the gospel for all people or only some people?” The answer to this question undergirds one’s theology and practice of evangelism and missions. By the word “gospel,” I am referring to the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus for our sins (1 Cor 15:3–4). By asking whether the gospel is for all people, I am not asking whether it should be announced to all people, but whether it concerns all people. One’s view of whether the gospel is for all people or only some people is revealed by one’s answers to the following questions:

  1. Who does God love salvifically, all people or only some people?
  2. Did Christ die for the sins of all people or only some people?
  3. Who does God desire to save, all people or only some people?

I assume the three questions above are valid for answering the main question. It seems legitimate to offer the possible answers of “all people” or “only some people” to the questions because there are no other reasonable answers. The reply of “no one” does not seem to be a viable answer for any of the questions. What Christian theologian argues that God loves no one salvifically, that Christ died for no one, or that God desires to save no one? The only possible answers to those questions seem to be “all people” and “only some people.”

Also, I assume that the answer to the three questions are related to and will assist in revealing one’s answer to the main question. For example, one who affirms that Christ died for only some people and God desires to save only some people seems to believe that the gospel is for only some people. It would seem inconsistent for one to answer “only some people” to two or three of the questions then affirm that the gospel is for “all people.” In what way would the gospel be for those people whom God does not desire to save and for whose sins Christ did not die?

Discussing Doctrinal Differences
Some Christian pastors and leaders differ on some or all of these three questions. Doctrinal differences among followers of Christ have occurred since the time of Christ. Certain differences carry less significance and deserve less attention. Consider as an example the question of whether one affirms a premillennial, postmillennial, or amillennial eschatology. All Christians should affirm the future, bodily return of Christ. However, many different interpretations of Scripture arise when describing the sequence and precise timing of events at the return of Christ. The three questions above, however, carry greater weight than the views on the precise timing of future events. These three questions undergird evangelism and missions because they identify the objects of God’s salvific love, the extent of Christ’s atoning work on the cross, and who God desires to save. These three questions center on the doctrines of God, man, atonement, and salvation. In short, these questions are worth addressing.

Who Does God Love Salvifically, All People or Only Some People?
The first question which should lead us to answer whether the gospel is for all people or only some people is: Who does God love salvifically, all people or only some people? A. W. Pink has written, “When we say that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love, we mean that He loves whomever He chooses to love. God does not love everybody.”1

According to John 3:16, “God so loved the world” (ESV, emphasis mine). Neither the subject nor the verb are in dispute. Instead, the object of the verb is in question: ho kosmos (Greek, “the world”). Who is the object of God’s love, all people or only some people? In this context, kosmos does not refer to the physical universe (as in Acts 17:24) or to the system opposed to God (as in 1 John 2:15). Instead, the word refers in John 3:16 to people. Does the word refer to all people or only some people? Consider John’s use of the word kosmos elsewhere in his Gospel:

  • John the Baptist declares of Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
  • Jesus is called “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).
  • Jesus will give His flesh “for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
  • Jesus says He is “the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33).

In all of these verses, it is possible to interpret “the world” as a reference either to “only some people” or to “all people.”

Does God Love Only the Elect?
Consider some of the explanations that “the world” refers only to some people. Francis Turretin (1623–87) writes that John 3:16 “cannot be universal towards each and everyone, but special towards a few.” The love mentioned in that verse refers to “only those chosen out of this world.”2 Turretin interprets John 3:16 to say that God so loved only some people.

Consider also John Owen’s interpretation of John 3:16. He explains that “it cannot be maintained that by the world here is meant all and every one of mankind, but only men in common scattered throughout the world, which are the elect.”3 Like Turretin, Owen also interprets John 3:16 to say that God so loved only some people.

The interpretations of Turretin and Owen are problematic, because they set aside the plain- sense meaning of the verse for a view not found in this verse. Perhaps the view that “God so loved the world” means “God so loved the elect” can be established from other texts. But proper exegesis rules out this interpretation of Turretin and Owen. D. A. Carson also affirms that God calls out and loves the elect in a different sense than He loves other people. Even so, Carson disagrees with their interpretation of John 3:16. Carson writes, “I know that some try to take kosmos (world) here to refer to the elect. But that really will not do. All the evidence of the usage of the word in John’s gospel is against the suggestion.” Also, “God’s love for the world cannot be collapsed into his love for the elect.”4

I do not accept the interpretation that “God so loved the world” means that God loved only some people. Instead, I affirm that God loved, and presently loves, every person. And to say He loves some whose salvation He does not desire seems to evacuate the plain understanding of the word “love.” First John 4:8 declares, “God is love.” Other biblical texts affirm God’s goodness and kindness toward His creation. The Baptist Faith and Message states in Article 2A, “God the Father,” “He is fatherly in His dealings toward all men.” It seems axiomatic to affirm that God loves salvifically all people. The implication of this view is that a faithful witness of Jesus can say to any person on the planet, “God loves you.” Those who affirm that God loves only some people or loves some in a non-salvific way can say only, “God loves sinners.” They wonder whether they should say to unbelievers, “God loves you.”5 Limiting God’s salvific love to only some people results in a disjointed theology and practice of missions and evangelism in which the gospel is announced to all people but is not for all people.

To read the entire article, click HERE

 

1A. W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2008), 10.
2Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 1:405–08; in Kenneth Keathley, Salvation and Sover- eignty (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010), 49.
3John Owen, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ (1647), 328, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/deathofdeath.i.x.ii.html.
4D. A. Carson, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 1999), 17. This citation of Carson is not intended to suggest that he interprets John to mean that God loves all people salvificially. Rather, the citation is only meant to establish that Carson rejects the interpretation of kosmos in John 3:16 offered by Turretin and Owen.
5D. A. Carson, “God’s Love and God’s Wrath,” Bibliotheca Sacra 156 (October–December 1999): 395, explains, “When I have preached or lectured in Reformed circles, I have often been asked the question, ‘Do you feel free to tell unbelievers that God loves them?’” He answers, “Obviously I have no hesitation in answering this question from Reformed preachers affirmatively: of course, I tell the unconverted God loves them.” Also, Albert Mohler, “The Power of the Articulated Gospel,” The Underestimated Gospel, ed. Jona- than Leeman (Nashville: B&H, 2014), 17, writes: “We don’t present the gospel with one hand behind our back, thinking about the person to whom we are speaking, ‘This might be for you . . . or it might not be for you.’ We don’t find refuge in the sovereignty of God in order to say that we don’t have to preach the gospel to all persons.” Emphasis his. Why would these theologians address questions regarding whether we should tell unbelievers God loves them or if the gospel is for unbelievers? Is it possible that Reformed theology leads some to conclude that God does not love all people salvifically and thus the gospel is not for all people?

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Les Prouty

This is of course a well written article by Dr. Harwood. I plan to read it more in depth later today or tonight, along with the linked entire article.

It seems to me that the answer to the title question is yes. The gospel is for all people. Matthew 13:10-15 seems to me to demonstrate that the gospel serves to not only save some people (the objects of the atonement) but also to harden some people (those for whom the atonement was not intended).

Thoughts Dr. Harwood?

    Tony Byrne

    Yes, Harwood makes some valid points in this article, Les, but there needs to be more clarity on what is meant by “salvific love.” Professing Calvinists differ. Here are some representative positions:

    1) God only loves the elect and in no way desires the salvation of the non-elect (Hoeksema, Clark, Reymond, Pink, et al.).

    2) God loves all men, but not the non-elect in such a way as to desire their eternal well-being or eternal salvation. God only loves the non-elect in a temporal so as to have a regard for their physical well-being (John Gill).

    3) God loves all men and desires their salvation according to his revealed will, but not the non-elect in redemptive way so as to give his Son to satisfy for their sins (this is standard high Calvinism–the majority at Dort, the majority at the Westminster Assembly, Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, P. Johnson, Carson, etc.).

    4) God loves all men and desires the salvation of all, even to the point of giving Christ to satisfy for the sins of every man, but not with an equal intent or desire to effect the salvation of all (this is standard moderate Calvinism–the first generation Reformers [Musculus, Bullinger, etc.], some British and Bremen delegates at Dort [Davenant, Martinius, etc.], some moderates at the Westminster Assembly [Vines, Seaman, Calamy, etc.] and many Puritans [Charnock, Howe, Henry, Polhill, etc.]).

    One might represent Harwood’s position thusly:

    5) God loves all men EQUALLY so as to desire their salvation EQUALLY, such that God gave Christ to satisfy for the sins of all men, who also EQUALLY intends the salvation of all men.

    Harwood and the non-Calvinists in the SBC seem to think position #5 is the only position that can do justice to verses such as John 3:16 and to the notion of a universal “salvific love.”

    All Calvinists should grant that if God indeed has a benevolent love for a man, even a non-elect person, this necessarily entails that God desires their salvation. It is only those in position #1 and position #2 above who disagree with that. Calvinists in position #3 and position #4 agree with what I have said. Iain Murray voices the position of #3 when he rhetorically asked, “But can the divine love…be without desire for the highest good of those loved?” Murray does not think so, and therefore affirms that in the revealed will, God indeed desires the salvation of all men, but not so as to give his Son as a ransom price for any who are non-elect. Calvinists in position #4 agree with Murray that universal benevolent love entails a desire for the salvation of all, but think that this includes giving God giving Christ to open a door of salvation for every man through Christ’s universal satisfaction.

    My point is this:

    “Salvific love” can mean different things. Harwood’s theological positon packs the term “salvific love,” not only with a desire in God to eternally save all and Christ giving himself to die for all (according to John 3:16), but with an EQUAL INTENT in God for the salvation of every man. High Calvinists (in position #3) can affirm a sense of universal “salvific love” if that means God loves all so as to desire their salvation, but they stop short of a universal “redemptive love,” which is the idea that Christ redeemed all men or satisfied for all men in the death he died. Moderate Calvinists in position #4 can affirm a sense of universal “salvific love” if that means that God loves all so as to desire their salvation, even with a “redemptive love” in that Christ satisfied for the sins of all, but they do not think this necessitates an EQUAL love for all in God, such that He EQUALLY INTENDS to effect the salvation of all men.

    Those in position #1 are the only ones who would explicitly deny that God has a “salvific love” for all men. Those in position #2 would deny it as well, if by “salvific” one means MORE THAN physical and temporal preservation, or the ETERNAL salvation of every man. Calvinists in position #3 and #4 would affirm universal “salvific love” to an extent, but differ among themselves over the extent of the atonement.

    You see, the theological landscape is far more complex on the subject of “salvific love” than most people think ;-)

      Scott Shaver

      Perhaps, if the “complex theological landscape” were jettisoned (i.e. Piper, Reymond, Pink et al) and we dealt with the construction of the text, there would be no confusion.

        Tony Byrne

        Perhaps if we were more aware of historical theology, we’d 1) have a better grasp of ALL the options available to us, 2) learn to be theologically precise, 3) better represent our opponents, and 4) become more aware of our own often unexamined assumptions. Setting the table historically and with conceptual clarity and precision will help the student to notice details in the text that were previously not illuminated. All of this furthers exegetical insight and skill.

        We cannot jettison the complex history of these “salvific love” categories. They are historical facts. What we need to jettison are system-driven interpretations that don’t comport with the immediate and overall canonical context. See my treatment of “cosmos” below for example of how that might be done.

          Rick Patrick

          I’m with Scott. If it takes 5,000 words of fine print—and more rhetoric than a team of lawyers could produce—you may not be getting CLOSER to the proper exegesis at all, but actually FARTHER AWAY. You can call it “setting the table” and “providing the framework” and “putting the matter in its proper historical-theological perspective,” but what if it’s not doing any of those things? What if all the words are just getting in the way of: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible, tells me so?”

            volfan007

            Rick,

            Amen!

            David

            rhutchin

            That is a fine statement for a person to make who is confident that Jesus has saved him. But what of the unsaved? The question asked by the Universalist is this, “If Jesus loves all people, will He not save all people? Else what is “love”?”

              Scott Shaver

              Why are the “questions of Universalists” germane to this discussion/article?

                Rhutchin

                Because some people seem to be appealing to the arguments of the Universalists in opposing Calvinists – even though they profess not to be Universalists. So, if one uses the term, “love,” as the Universalists do, then we need some definition to discover exactly what is meant.

                  Scott Shaver

                  Maybe to u rutchin. Not so sure about everybody else commenting

                    rhutchin

                    Earlier Tony wrote, “…outlined above and elsewhere are the different positions people take on the idea of “salvific love.” I was engaging in description (what different people specifically believe), not prescription (what people ought to believe about God’s love, His desire to save, and the extent of the atonement).”

                    That there is an issue with the meaning of “love” is evident with the distinction made by some in using the term “salvific love. The definition of “love” is a big issue and comments made by people here demonstrate such.

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Absolutely and a hardy Amen Brother Rick!

            Scott Shaver

            The recurrent problem is greater fascination with and reliance upon the theology of man as opposed to the contextual presentation of the Word as interpreted to the heart of the believer by God’s Holy Spirit.

            If we follow the “greater awareness of historical theology” fallacy, we basically admit that neither Word nor Spirit are capable of producing the intent/design of God within the heart and lifes of the believer without the appendages of human intellect. This kind of mindset/disposition of heart was certainly one of the spiritual traps apostles like Paul were constantly railing and warning against.

            In other words: “You can’t be an orthodox Christian without some kind of formal training in systematic theology”. That’s a LIE, pure and simple.

            Scott Shaver

            Rick:

            It certainly is “setting the table” ….. with something you’d really rather not eat.

            Tony Byrne

            Rick,

            I want to clarify again what it is I said above. I am not saying one needs a lot of scholastic categories or “more rhetoric than a team of lawyers could produce” in order to arrive at a proper exegesis of the text. I think the idea that God desires the salvation of living unbelieving humanity in such a way that He gave His Son to die for them all is quite clear in the text. However, if one wants to use the verse to defeat Calvinism, then one MUST be aware of the fact that 1) Calvinism is a lot more complex than most people think, even Calvinists themselves today, 2) “salvific love” is an ambiguous expression, 3) we often bring our own unexamined presuppositions to the text, and thus try to prove more from a text than it will allow.

            First, if you want to use John 3:16 as a theological defeater for Calvinism, you should know that they think of “salvific love” differently, as I pointed out. That is a fact. Second, merely asserting that John 3:16 teaches a universal salvific love is not very controversial, and it does not necessarily defeat Calvinism. Sure, it defeats the Dutch-American form of hyper-Calvinism, but not necessarily others. It depends on what one packs into the universal “salvific love” expression. I VERY OFTEN hear non-Calvinists in the SBC assert that God loves all men and desires to save them, as if that is also controversial. It is not, unless your target is Dutch-American hyper-Calvinism, which is an extreme minority among professing Calvinists today. Even a hyper-Calvinist like John Gill believed God loves all men, albeit in a merely temporal and physical way. Most Christians today don’t even know that. Third, asserting that Christ died for the sins of all men is not necessarily a defeater for Calvinism. Yes, it defeats both the hyper-Calvinists and the high orthodox or stricter varieties of Calvinism when it comes to the extent of the atonement, but not others. If “salvific love” as taught by John 3:16 just means God so loves all men that He seeks their salvation through a universal atonement, then that does not defeat the classic-moderate variety of Calvinism. In order to defeat ALL sorts of Calvinism, you’d have to find verses that teach 1) God loves all men EQUALLY, 2) God EQUALLY INTENDS the salvation of all men, and 3) Christ died WITH AN EQUAL INTENT to save all men. Quite simply, John 3:16 can’t be used to give you all of that. It seems to me that in their love for and reveling in theological simplicity, many non-Calvinists in the SBC can’t get that point when they try to use verses to defeat Calvinism.

            Even the expression “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” is good for theological nursery school, but such a simple song can’t do justice to what the bible says about the love of God. It leaves no room for the discriminating love that God has for some and not for others. He who thinks God in the OT loved Israel JUST THE SAME AS all the other nations is naive. The simple, child’s song can’t do justice to the passages which teach a conditional sense of God’s love (or the love of complacency). Jesus said IF you keep His commandments, THEN will the Father love you (John 15:10). Jesus says that he who loves him WILL BE LOVED by the Father (John 14:21, 23). Since some lack an understanding of the complex biblical teaching on the love of God, they don’t understand how God can say to a group of people that God will “love them no more” (Hos. 9:15). Having no category for God’s love of complacency or delight, but only a simple category of universal benevolence, they only think of a universal, unconditional love of God, not a sense in which God’s love is conditional, and that can either increase or decrease.

            The song “Jesus loves me, this I know,” is good for children to sing and for despairing sinners, but those striving for theological maturity need to sing something more advanced; a song that can account for different senses AND DEGREES of God’s love. Those only thinking in terms of an unconditional, or universal form of benevolent love will have serious trouble interpreting all that the bible has to say about both the love and the hate of God.

            Lastly, there’s a difference between coming to a proper understanding of the meaning of John 3:16 and using that proper meaning as a defeater for other theological positions, such as Calvinism. If you want to use the verse for the latter purpose, you’ll have to 1) accurately know what Calvinists believe, 2) the diversity of beliefs within their camp, and 3) your own possible unexamined assumptions about the love and will of God. Some theological complexity and more sophistication will be needed if you want to defeat Calvinistic soteriology. I am not saying such sophistication will be need to engage in proper exegesis. There’s a difference.

              Scott Shaver

              “Jesus loves me” ….fit only for theological nursery school”?

              Is the inherent problem of Calvinism not painfully obvious within these casual words?

            Kyle

            Dr. Patrick, Does Jesus love everyone in the same way? Did God have the same love for the Egyptians, Amorites, etc that he had for the Israelite’s? The Triune God of the old testament is the same in the new testament isn’t He? Jesus is a member of that Trinity isn’t he?
            Since I am married, should I love my wife and have a unique committed love for her separate from other women in the world? I hope so.

              Don Johnson

              Kyle,

              God loves all unsaved people the same. Once a person becomes saved, God then has a greater love for that person. As he now becomes one of God’s elect, sheep, or people. You should love your wife more then other women.Now that you’re saved God loves you more, because now you are one of His, just as now your wife is yours..

    Les Prouty

    Thanks Tony. Yes I’m aware of the various positions you’ve cited. I’m definitely in #2 and #3. You say,

    “5) God loves all men EQUALLY so as to desire their salvation EQUALLY, such that God gave Christ to satisfy for the sins of all men, who also EQUALLY intends the salvation of all men.

    Harwood and the non-Calvinists in the SBC seem to think position #5 is the only position that can do justice to verses such as John 3:16 and to the notion of a universal “salvific love.”

    All Calvinists should grant that if God indeed has a benevolent love for a man, even a non-elect person, this necessarily entails that God desires their salvation.”

    I think your sentence “Harwood and the non-Calvinists in the SBC seem to think position #5 is the only position that can do justice to verses such as John 3:16 and to the notion of a universal “salvific love” assumes salvific love for all people. I don’t share that assumption. If I did, I think we would see God’s love effect all people to be saved. The next sentence also should not be assumed in my view.

    The problem as I see it on this issue is, what is accomplished in the atonement. You write, “…God gave Christ to satisfy for the sins of all men.” Ok. So here we are back again at the question we Reformed folks ask, “How are the sins of those presently in eternal torment (for instance) satisfied by the work of Christ on the cross?

    Reformed folks read the so called universal passages well aware that they exist. All of us attempt to interpret passages in light of the entirety of teachings in the scriptures. So when we see what some call a universal redemption passage (John 3.16) we ask, well can that mean that Jesus satisfied for the sins of all people of all time, even the sin of unbelief? In light of what we believe was accomplished in the atonement we have to answer no. Whatever explanation there is for John 3.16, it must be reconciled with the accomplishment of the atonement. We simply cannot square that circle and don’t believe that non Reformed folks can do so satisfactorily either.

    Thanks Tony.

      Steven

      God loves all in some ways, and God loves some in all ways.

      Robert

      Les says in this thread that he has held his Calvinism for thirty years (that is thirty years of being hardened against the truth of the scripture that Jesus died for the whole world, that is thirty years maintaining, promoting and defending his false Calvinistic ideas, that is a very long time commitment, no wonder Les is so hardened and calloused against the truth as presented in scripture, I used to think Les was arrogant, I don’t think it is arrogance it is being calloused, you hold to error for thirty years despite hearing what others have said about the problems in your views, you will become pretty much immune to what scripture presents). Les has heard the non-Calvinists answers to his questions but I will answer them not for Les’ sake but for others not as aware.

      Les asks:

      “The problem as I see it on this issue is, what is accomplished in the atonement. You write, “…God gave Christ to satisfy for the sins of all men.” Ok. So here we are back again at the question we Reformed folks ask, “How are the sins of those presently in eternal torment (for instance) satisfied by the work of Christ on the cross?”

      Les knows this, but I will repeat it yet again: the non-Calvinist believes the atonement has two different aspects. The provisional aspect (i.e. it is provided for all people because God genuinely loves all people and desires for all to be saved, that is what he says, unless you allow the Calvinistic system to override the intended and simply meaning scripture presents) which is what the “universalistic” passages refer to. And the applicational aspect (i.e. it is provided for all but applied only to those who are saved, in the case of those who hear and understand the gospel only to those who respond with faith). So while the atonement is provided for all, it is applied only to some. This is very different from the false doctrine of limited atonement however.

      “Reformed folks read the so called universal passages well aware that they exist. All of us attempt to interpret passages in light of the entirety of teachings in the scriptures. So when we see what some call a universal redemption passage (John 3.16) we ask, well can that mean that Jesus satisfied for the sins of all people of all time, even the sin of unbelief? In light of what we believe was accomplished in the atonement we have to answer no. Whatever explanation there is for John 3.16, it must be reconciled with the accomplishment of the atonement. We simply cannot square that circle and don’t believe that non Reformed folks can do so satisfactorily either.”

      What is particularly troublesome in the statements here is that Les says when it comes to reconciling John 3:16 with other atonement passages “We simply cannot square that circle and don’t believe that non Reformed folks can do so satisfactorily either.” First this is troublesome because he claims here that no one has the correct view of the atonement (no one can square that circle, whether they are Reformed or not). Well then why are we having this discussing then? If no one has it right, then everything we are saying here is useless.

      Second, John 3:16 is rather easy to handle if you make the provisional/applicational distinction. John 3:16 is one of the more “universalistic” passages (it says that because God loves the world, and that in John refers to the group of human persons in rebellion to God, not yet saved, though some will be saved and some will not be) and refers to the provision of the atonement (it is given for all because God loves all).

      But the atonement alone does not save because throughout the NT we are told repeatedly that salvation is through faith. If you don’t have a faith response to the gospel then the atonement will not be applied to you; if you do have faith then it will be applied to you. The people in hell had the atonement provided for them, but since they reject God, it was never applied to them.

      There is no “circle to be squared” (unless you are trying to reconcile Bible passages with limited atonement) the atonement passages are simple to understand and correlate if you make the provision/application distinction. Even Calvinists who make this distinction have no difficulty with the atonement passages (as Tony can probably attest).

        Rhutchin

        I think it would be more accurate to dscribe it as thirty years of studying the Scriptures. You should not let your personal beliefs ruin your comments.

      Tony Byrne

      Les,

      Re-read the options and you will see that option #2 and option #3 are not compatible. You can’t consistently be in both. Option #3 admits that God desires the ETERNAL well-being of the non-elect in His revealed will. Option #2 says that God has a regard ONLY for the physical well-being or temporal preservation of the non-elect, not that He seeks or desires the eternal salvation of their souls.

      To make it clearer, these are the options I laid out:

      1) God only loves the elect and does not love the non-elect in any sense.
      2) God all mankind, but loves the non-elect ONLY in the sense of having a regard for their physical or temporal preservation and well-being.
      3) God loves all mankind, even the non-elect with a desire for the ETERNAL salvation of their souls, but not in such a special way that He gives Christ to die for them.
      4) God loves all mankind, even the non-elect with a desire for the ETERNAL salvation of their souls, even to the point of giving Christ to die for all men, but He especially loves His elect.
      5) God EQUALLY loves all men, EQUALLY desires the salvation of all man, and therefore Christ came to die for all men with an EQUAL INTENT to save all men.

      If one wants labels for these categories, #1 is modern Dutch-American hyper-Calvinism, #2 is classic Gillite hyper-Calvinism, #3 is high orthodox Calvinism, #4 is classic-moderate Calvinism, and #5 is various forms of non-Calvinism.

      I assume you are actually in position #3, which is where most professing Calvinists are today. Instead of rejecting the idea that God has a “salvific love” for all men, I think it would be better to say that it depend on what one means by that expression. If by “salvific love” is meant that God has a love for all men that seeks or desires their salvation, then it is true. All mainstream Calvinists (i.e. those in #3 and #4) believe that. He who says otherwise does not sufficiently understand the history and theology of Calvinism. If by “salvific love” one means a love in God for all men such that He gave Christ to suffer in their stead, then yes, you would have to reject that, Les, as all those in position #3 do. Those in position #4, like myself, need not reject that, since we (the classic-moderate Calvinists) affirm that Christ did indeed pay the ransom price for all men. However, if by “salvific love” one means that God EQUALLY loves all men, EQUALLY desires the salvation of all men, and Christ’s death expresses that EQUAL INTENT to save all men, then no Calvinist of ANY sort can affirm that. It contradicts what all Calvinists affirm about God’s electing love for some. If “salvific love” means that God purposes to effect the ultimate salvation of every man, then all Christians should reject that. That entails either universalism or some form of frustrated finite godism (open theism, process theology, etc.).

      When the non-Calvinists in this comment section try to use John 3:16 as a wedge verse, their packing in their ideas about EQUAL LOVE, EQUAL INTENT TO SAVE, etc., and employing the term “salvific love” with the same EQUIVALENCY in terms of INTENT TO SAVE.

      I just think it is unwise for us to reject the idea that God has a “salvific love” for all men just because these non-Calvinists pack the label with all of the above. Calvinists in position #3 and #4 can agree with universal salvific love if it just means A LOVE THAT SEEKS TO SAVE. God, in his revealed will, truly and lovely desires the salvation of all men, including those finally damned. As Jonathan Edwards said, “And all this [the misery of the damned] will be aggravated by the remembrance, that God once loved us [the damned] so as to give his Son to bring us [the damned] to the happiness of his love, and tried all manner of means to persuade us [the damned] to accept of his favor, which was obstinately refused.” And again, “There is all in God that is good, and perfect, and excellent in our desires and wishes for the conversion and salvation of wicked men…There is all in God that belongs to our desire of the holiness and happiness of unconverted men and reprobates, excepting what implies imperfection…he [Christ] really desired the conversion and salvation of reprobates, and lamented their obstinacy and misery; as when he beheld the city Jerusalem, and wept over it, saying, “O Jerusalem,” &c.”

      If you assume that univeral “salvific love” must include the idea that Christ gave himself as a satisfaction for all men, then obviously, you (Les) must reject it, as you have. I just want to point out the ambiguity of the expression and how different types of people, including Harwood, Rick Patrick, Scott Shaver and other commenting here are packing “salvific love” with EQUAL LOVE for all, EQUAL INTENT to save, and Christ dying for all to express this EQUALITY. That sense of “salvific love” cannot be proven from John 3:16, even though I (as a moderate sort of Calvinist) think the verse does entail that 1) God’s benevolent sense of love is universal, and that 2) He desires the salvation of the lost to the point of giving His Son to die for all men. The verse cannot be used to prove more than that, I think.

      Of course there are Calvinists who disagree, and so attempt to view “world” differently, and use systematic theological arguments (such as the double payment argument) to defeat the notion that Christ died for all men, thus seeking to show that John 3:16 must mean something else than the 2 points I granted above.

        Les Prouty

        Tony,

        Thanks for the response and an opportunity to make myself more clear. When I said I am in #2 and #3 I was only referencing the addition in #2 of “having a regard for their physical or temporal preservation and well-being.” I suppose that was not necessary given the first few words of #2. Hence the confusion. I am definitely in #3 only as to the issue of the non elect.

        I agree with what you are saying about how the non Calvinists here are trying to pack their ideas in to John 3.16.

        Also, when it is said above that I believe “that no one has the correct view of the atonement (no one can square that circle, whether they are Reformed or not),” that s not what I said/meant. What I meant by the full statement I made originally is that we Reformed cannot square the non Calvinist circle about how “John 3.16, it must be reconciled with the accomplishment of the atonement.” i.e. non Calvinist’s cannot satisfactorily square it.

        Thanks for the opportunity to make myself more clear.

        Robert

        I hope everyone is paying attention to this exchange between Tony Byrne (a Calvinist who knows his stuff, especially in regards to historical theology), and Les who represents the mentality of the new resurgence very well. Clearly Les does not know his stuff nearly as well as Tony does. I reject Calvinism but I can respect and appreciate a Calvinist such as Tony. If you interact with Tony you will be interacting on facts and differing interpretations, and while you may disagree with Tony on his Calvinism you will find him to be a reasonable voice on the issue. This is very, very different from interacting with Les.

        Tony wrote:

        “Re-read the options and you will see that option #2 and option #3 are not compatible. You can’t consistently be in both. Option #3 admits that God desires the ETERNAL well-being of the non-elect in His revealed will. Option #2 says that God has a regard ONLY for the physical well-being or temporal preservation of the non-elect, not that He seeks or desires the eternal salvation of their souls.”

        See Tony understands and points out that you cannot simultaneously hold to 2 and 3 while Les mistakenly thinks they are compatible. A good example of one knowing his stuff and the other not.

        Tony laid out the options and wrote:

        “If one wants labels for these categories, #1 is modern Dutch-American hyper-Calvinism, #2 is classic Gillite hyper-Calvinism, #3 is high orthodox Calvinism, #4 is classic-moderate Calvinism, and #5 is various forms of non-Calvinism.”

        Note that Tony represents “classic-moderate Calvinism”. If his Calvinism were the Calvinism being promoted in the SBC things would not be as confusing and divisive as they are. Les says that he holds 2 and 3 which are the versions of Calvinism causing so much problems in the SBC. See a moderate Calvinist like Tony can agree that Jesus died for the world while the Les Prouty type Calvinism **has to** maintain limited atonement and argue contrary to scripture that Jesus did not die for the whole world (cf. 1 Jn. 2:2). Most Baptists hold to unlimited atonement, that Jesus died for the whole world, so when the Calvinism represented by Prouty (that Jesus died only for the elect) comes along confusion and division is inevitable.

        And note rhutchin who repeatedly attacks non-Calvinists as “universalists”, Tony contrary to rhutchin does understand the nature of the false doctrine of universalism which non-Calvinists here do not hold:

        “If “salvific love” means that God purposes to effect the ultimate salvation of every man, then all Christians should reject that. That entails either universalism or some form of frustrated finite godism (open theism, process theology, etc.).”

        “That sense of “salvific love” cannot be proven from John 3:16, even though I (as a moderate sort of Calvinist) think the verse does entail that 1) God’s benevolent sense of love is universal, and that 2) He desires the salvation of the lost to the point of giving His Son to die for all men.”

        Non-Calvinists note what this moderate Calvinism entails. Again while I disagree with Tony on other aspects of Calvinism, his view allows him to take John 3:16 properly, he does not have to do eisegetical gymnastics to get around the plain and intended meaning (as Les and other advocates of limited atonement have to do).

        “Of course there are Calvinists who disagree, and so attempt to view “world” differently, and use systematic theological arguments (such as the double payment argument) to defeat the notion that Christ died for all men, thus seeking to show that John 3:16 must mean something else than the 2 points I granted above.”

        Tony did you notice that one person (see Grant 10-08-2015, 11:52) tried to appeal to an Owenesque argument in this thread (he made no appeal to scripture whatsoever, he simply presented and argument by Owens, so far he has been ignored, perhaps Tony could cite where on his website he shows problems with this particular argument by Owens for those interested that is a particularly interesting read to see a Calvinist showing the problems with Owens arguments)?

        The sad thing is that someone like Tony who presents a moderate form of Calvinism and writes very reasonable posts filled with facts: is attacked and misrepresented and caricatured by other calvinists such as Les. They cannot handle his knowledge of historical theology so they just resort to all sorts of attacks that have nothing to do with the valid historical points that Tony makes. I would advise that the non-Calvinists here read Tony’s posts very carefully and watch especially how Tony refutes people like Les and how they respond to these refutations.

          Les Prouty

          And I hope everyone is paying attention as well.

          Robert: “See Tony understands and points out that you cannot simultaneously hold to 2 and 3 while Les mistakenly thinks they are compatible. A good example of one knowing his stuff and the other not.”

          And here is Robert jumping on a statement that was corrected later, but he just couldn’t resist. Because I had said at 14:53:

          “Thanks for the response and an opportunity to make myself more clear. When I said I am in #2 and #3 I was only referencing the addition in #2 of “having a regard for their physical or temporal preservation and well-being.” I suppose that was not necessary given the first few words of #2. Hence the confusion. I am definitely in #3 only as to the issue of the non elect.”

          Slow down a bit Robert and you wouldn’t make mistakes like this. Or keep it coming my way. Got my big boy pants on today, every day in fact. And only one of us looks like he’s making it personal.

            Robert

            Les makes a really stupid and arrogant comment here. He says that: “Or keep it coming my way. Got my big boy pants on today, every day in fact.”

            Does this mean that the rest of us don’t or are not “putting our big boy pants on” when we share comments here?

            Oh, and are we supposed to be intimidated that, Oh wow, Les puts his big boy pants on every day in fact?

            He is apparently not like the rest of us who only occasionally put on our big boy pants. :-) Les sounds like a wanna-be tough guy here in his comments. He sounds like the bully on the playground who challenges us with “come on, bring it on!” These “fighting words” are supposed to show us how tough the bully supposedly is.

            Having taken out lots of bullies in real life, I can tell you this, the person you worry about is not the brag hard, the guy who tells everybody how tough he supposedly is. No, the guy you ought to be concerned about is the one that is very quiet, who knows they are strong and can handle themselves and has no need to publicly declare it. But don’t challenge them because they will rearrange your face. I might add that the truly strong person does not have to tell you that they are strong or tough or whatever. The guy who has the need to publicly tell you how tough they are, how they “put their big boy pants on everyday”, is the weak one that is just trying to sound tough. Les can keep trying to intimidate the rest of us, the rest of us are just quaking in our boots in fear! :-)

            Les Prouty

            Hey Robert, no comment on your totally jumping the gun on my earlier comment to Tony re #2 and #3? You totally blew that one bro. And not to worry. You haven’t offended me. It’s all ok.

            Les Prouty

            By the way Robert. When I said, ” Got my big boy pants on today, every day in fact” I should have put a smiley face after it since it was meant to be a little humor. The phrase “big boy pants” has become quite common on internet discussions and is often meant in a light hearted manner.

            I never meant my comment as if I “wanna-be tough guy” or in a bullying manner or as “fighting” words. And there was no intent to try to intimitate anyone here.

            So please forgive my comments as they apparently came across to you not as humorous as I intended but entirely as something else.

              phillip

              Brother Les,

              No reason to apologize. Anyone with an IQ over room temperature knew what you meant. Robert is just blinded by his personal hatred of you.

              Its sad.

                Scott Shaver

                Has anybody noticed that “big boy pants” and charges of “being blinded by their personal hatred” is commonly used terminology by these who find their personal theologies challenged by non-calvinists?

                I really think it’s an SBC Voices thing. That seems to be the site where you can find the most over-use of this particular language.

              Robert

              Les,

              Thanks for your clarification here I appreciate it.

              “By the way Robert. When I said, ” Got my big boy pants on today, every day in fact” I should have put a smiley face after it since it was meant to be a little humor. The phrase “big boy pants” has become quite common on internet discussions and is often meant in a light hearted manner.”

              Perhaps it is quite common in internet discussions that you are involved in, as for myself I have not seen this expression. Perhaps I am more sensitive to certain inflammatory comments as I work in a large prison ministry and I hear profanity and verbal challenges all the time. I also have to identify potential threats quickly before things escalate as I really don’t want to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

              “So please forgive my comments as they apparently came across to you not as humorous as I intended but entirely as something else.”

              As you meant it in a light hearted manner, it is unfortunate since I am not familiar with this terminology I misinterpreted it.

              If only you had put a smiley! :-)

          Les Prouty

          “The sad thing is that someone like Tony who presents a moderate form of Calvinism and writes very reasonable posts filled with facts: is attacked and misrepresented and caricatured by other calvinists such as Les. They cannot handle his knowledge of historical theology so they just resort to all sorts of attacks that have nothing to do with the valid historical points that Tony makes.”

          Exactly where did I “attack, misrepresent and caricature” Tony? Just point out the exact wording Robert please so I can correct it. Thanks.

            Robert

            Les asks where has he “attacked, misrepresented, and caricatured” Tony.

            what was my comment?

            I said that it is sad that Tony “is attacked and misrepresented and caricatured by other calvinists such as Les”. I did not say that Les had done so in this thread (though he might give it time, or he will do his best to be on good behavior): I said calvinists like Les have done so. Where you might ask? All over the internet. I have seen it happen numerous times and it was always by people who held the same theology/beliefs as Les does (hence my comment “by other calvinists such as Les”). I have seen Tony treated in a very nasty and hostile and condescending way by other calivnists. He may not confirm this, but just ask Tony himself: is it true that you have been attacked and misrperesented and caricatured by other calvinists?

            Other calvinists who hold Les’ theology are not the moderate calvinists like Tony is. They are threatened by him, especially because he knows his stuff and refutes their theology showing that the calvinists have not historically held this limited atonement view.

            This is one of the reasons by the way if you look at Calvin himself you do not find the rabid commitment to limited atonement that you find with those of the “resurgence”. In fact, if you actually look at the Reformers such as Calvin and Luther you find them much more closely resembling Tony’s moderate calvinism than Les Prouty’s limited atonement view. Unfortunately most modern calvinists do not know their historical theology as Tony does. That is also why these types are threatened by him. If you have seen how Tony has been harshly treated by other calvinists on the internet you would know this to be true. If Tony does not confirm what I am saying here, just do a google search of his name and atonement and you will find all the evidence that you need to see for yourself.

              Tony Byrne

              Robert said Tony “is attacked and misrepresented and caricatured by other Calvinists such as Les”.

              I don’t think your original words were careful, Robert. What you meant to say is that Tony is misrepresented and caricatured by other Calvinists *who believe what Les believes*, not that Les himself has done it. Saying “such as Les” sounds like you’re including Les among the group who have misrepresented and caricatured my beliefs, which is how Les understandably read it. For the record, my exchanges with Les have been friendly and respectful, unlike some of the other exchanges you have seen on the Internet, Robert. I have only had very few exchanges with Les himself, and none of them have been hostile or disrespectful at all. I also have not seen him misrepresent my beliefs, so far. I hope that I have not misrepresented his beliefs either.

              I guess it should also be said that I have not read Les’ exchanges on non-Calvinist blogs, so I am not in a position to comment on how he has interacted with others. Les and I will disagree over the extent of the atonement and perhaps on some other issues within the Calvinistic paradigm, but so far he strikes me as someone who is open to honestly hearing and considering what I have to say, even if he ends up rejecting it. That’s just my own initial impression from just a few exchanges. If I thought otherwise, I would not hesitate to say so.

              phillip

              “Having taken out lots of bullies in real life, I can tell you this, the person you worry about is not the brag hard, the guy who tells everybody how tough he supposedly is. No, the guy you ought to be concerned about is the one that is very quiet…”

              Talk about your really stupid and arrogant comment.

              I hope everyone, both Calvinists and non-Calvinists alike, are reading Robert’s comments. They are anything but Christian-like. Whatever your theological stance, this kind of behavior is embarrassing.

              While I might disagree with Les’ theology, he is far more brotherly and gracious than his Arminian counterpart.

              The SEA must be so proud.

            Les Prouty

            Sorry Robert. I misunderstood what you wrote.

          Tony Byrne

          Thanks for the compliments, Robert.

          Yes, I did see people bringing up the double payment argument and Owen’s famous Trilemma. I was tempted to engage what was being said but things have gotten too messy. In this sort of comment section where words are many, my preference is to stick with DESCRIPTIVE issues (so that everyone can clearly see what all parties believe, at least within the Calvinistic camp) rather than PRESCRIPTIONS (or asserting what people OUGHT to believe). There is so much confusion in the SBC today on the topic of Calvinism. Too many people want to PRESCRIBE what to believe before they can accurately DESCRIBE the alternatives they wish to refute. Consequently, misrepresentations are legion.

          For example, I have seen it repeated over and over and over again on this blog that Calvinists don’t believe in the salvability of the non-elect, or that all men (at least those that hear the gospel) have a possibility of salvation. Yet the first presiding officer of the Westminster Assembly (William Twisse) said, “In like sort as touching the possibility of salvation, not one Divine of ours, that I know, denies the possibility of any mans salvation while he lives in this World.” C. Hodge said, “It is here [in John 3:16], as well as elsewhere taught, that it was the design of God to render the salvation of all men possible, by the gift of his Son.” Instead of saying that Calvinists don’t believe in the possibility of salvation for all men (a straw man argument), they should rather say that Calvinists are *not consistent* in affirming the salvability of all men given their view of election (a reductio ad absurdum argument). I have talked about these things with Dr. David Allen and he gets it. There’s only so much he can do to try to correct and refine non-Calvinists in the SBC, but some seem too eager to refute before they adequately understand the claims. Granted, contemporary TULIPers are also not refined in their understanding of the history and theology of Calvinism, and so they are under the false impression that someone with my beliefs is unorthodox or at best sub-Calvinistic, hence the need for all of the documentation on my blog.

          Anyway, debating Owen’s double payment and Trilemma arguments goes on and on and on. It’s like one big whack-a-mole game. Once you knock it on the head in one location, people bring it up again and again, as if it has not been addressed. Here’s a nifty counter argument to Owen’s Trilemma, if you want to go this route. Think about the issue of original sin. Calvinists affirm that every man has the guilt of original sin by virtue of our union with Adam, however that union is conceived of. We all have original sin. There are not original sinS (plural), but one original sin which we all have. It’s not like the elect have a particular species of original sin and the non-elect have their own. Calvinists also affirm that Christ died for the guilt of original sin. If all of these things are the case, then we have at least one sin that the non-elect have that Jesus died for, yet Owen’s Trilemma will not allow that Christ died for any sin of the non-elect. If pushed to its logical conclusion, Owen would have to say that he thinks Christ died for SOME of the sins of SOME men, not ALL of the sins of SOME men. If he says that Christ died for original sin, then he (and those in his camp) will have to say that Christ died for one of the sins of the non-elect. See the point?

          The whole Trilemma argument is faulty on many levels. Those who employ it do not understand imputation. It’s not as though a certain quantity of sin (or numerical amount) was transferred to Christ when he died, any more than a certain quantity of Christ’s righteousness (or particular acts of righteousness) are transferred to us when we believe. Owen’s Trilemma forces those who employ it to think in terms of the transference of particular sins to Christ. Curiously, they don’t think of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers in this way. They don’t think that believers are credited with feeding five thousand people with a few loaves and a few fish. They don’t think believers are credited with items of Christ’s particular acts of righteousness, like speaking kindly to the woman at the well or with washing the disciples feet. Imputation, properly understood, does not work that way.

          What happened at the cross is that Christ was treated AS THOUGH he was CATEGORICALLY guilty of the sin of the whole human race (even though He was sinless). Tony has told certain lies. Robert has told certain lies. Les has his own particular lies as well. We all have committed our own particular acts of lying, which the law categorically condemns. Liars deserve death. Christ was treated as though He was categorically a liar (not that He was), and so suffered the penalty of death. His one death categorically answers for all liars and their particular lies. He suffered the one death that the law demands of liars categorically, and so suffered what every lying man deserves. My own lies cause me to deserve the condemnation of death (X) for being a liar. Your lies cause you to be worthy of the same sentence that liars categorically deserve. Christ suffers X (death) and therefore answers for what all liars deserve categorically. As Charles Hodge said, “What was suitable for one was suitable for *all*. The righteousness of Christ, the merit of his obedience and death, is needed for justification by *each individual of our race*, and therefore is needed by *all*. It is no more appropriate to one man than to another. Christ fulfilled the conditions of the covenant under which *all men* were placed. He rendered the obedience required of *all*, and *suffered the penalty which all had incurred* [i.e. one death which all categorically deserve]; and therefore his work is equally suited to all.” This is the classic way of thinking of imputation, which is not compatible with Owen’s Trilemma that forces one to think along the lines of a quantitative transference of particular elect sins to Christ.

          Not only that, but Owen’s Trilemma and double payment argument forces on to think of Christ’s death as a *literal payment* of a debt to a divine creditor, as if the thing being paid necessitates the release of all those for whom the price was paid. Penal or criminal “debt” does not work that way. For instance, suppose I committed a crime but you were suspected and ultimately put in prison for my criminal act. You end up serving 10 years in prison. Later on, evidence comes in that I was actually guilty of the crime, and so I am charged and brought to court to face sentencing in prison. I cannot say, “but the thing was paid already! The thing was paid! Robert already served 10 years in prison!” No, I will be put in prison to serve the sentence, despite the fact that you were charged with the crime and served the sentence.

          Suppose there is a different scenario where we are both eating in the same restaurant and you decide to pay my bill. If the owner, after you pay my bill, comes to me and says, “you need to pay your bill!,” I can legitimately say, “but the thing was paid already! I should be free to go! My bill is paid!” By virtue of the fact that my bill was already paid by you, I am ipso facto liberated from paying the bill. See the difference? Commercial or pecuinary debt payments do not function the same way as criminal or penal debt. Yes, scripture uses metaphors to compare our moral or criminal “debt” to God to commercial transactions or pecuniary payments, but they are not univocal comparisons. Just because someone serves the time you deserve in prison, it does not mean you are free from any future time in prison yourself since you committed the crime. On the other hand, if someone pays your bills in commercial transactions, you are released from any obligations.

          Those employing Owen’s double payment and Trilemma argument are confusing commercial debt with criminal debt, as if Christ’s death is a “literal debt payment” like a pecuniary transaction. Moreover, they are forced to conceive of the imputation of sin to Christ along the lines of a quantitative transfer of particular elect sins to Christ, which is also problematic on a number of levels, as I touched on above. It also does not take into account that Christ suffered for original sin, which is a sin all men have, including the non-elect. It’s not possible for Christ to suffer for the guilt of original sin of some men and not for others. It’s not original sinS, but original sin that he satisfied for, and so he necessarily suffered for one of the sins that all men have.

          Anyway, I hope that helps.

          Grace to you,
          Tony

            rhutchin

            Tony writes, “Instead of saying that Calvinists don’t believe in the possibility of salvation for all men (a straw man argument), they should rather say that Calvinists are *not consistent* in affirming the salvability of all men given their view of election…”

            I think people often limit Calvinism to TULIP when it actually begins with a clear statement of God and his attributes (thus, one should never engage Calvinism without reading Charnock’s Attributes of God, for example). As God is omniscient, He created the world knowing every future event including that number that would be saved and that number that would not. The world is playing out in accord with God’s omniscient knowledge and God’s elect are being drawn out of the world by the preaching of the gospel. As God has not revealed to any man the identities of His elect, Calvinists are consistent in saying that any man can be saved but only God’s elect will be saved.

            rhutchin

            Tony writes, “It also does not take into account that Christ suffered for original sin, which is a sin all men have, including the non-elect. It’s not possible for Christ to suffer for the guilt of original sin of some men and not for others. It’s not original sinS, but original sin that he satisfied for, and so he necessarily suffered for one of the sins that all men have.”

            I don’t think this is exactly correct. Man has two problems: (1) through original sin, people became sinners, and (2) as sinners, people sin. Christ’s death on the cross addresses the “sin” issue – Christ was delivered for our (God’s elect) sins. Then Christ was raised from the dead to address the “sinner” issue – Christ was raised for our (God’s elect) justification. (Romans 4) Thus, I don’t think we can say that Christ suffered for original sin – He specifically suffered for the sins people committed as a consequence of being sinners per original sin. Owen’s point is that God, in His wisdom (or the counsel of His will) created a world in which He would save some and not others and the means for saving those some was to deliver Christ up for their sins. Had it been God’s plan to deliver up Christ for the sins of all people, then, necessarily, all people would then be saved (in the course of time by those means provided by God – the preaching of the gospel).

            Robert

            Tony,

            “Thanks for the compliments, Robert.”

            Well you merit the compliments Tony as you present these well thought out fact filled and intelligent posts. I really enjoy your posts. You possess an impressive command of the literature of Calvinism when it comes to historical theology. A person can learn from reading your posts.

            “Yes, I did see people bringing up the double payment argument and Owen’s famous Trilemma. I was tempted to engage what was being said but things have gotten too messy. In this sort of comment section where words are many, my preference is to stick with DESCRIPTIVE issues (so that everyone can clearly see what all parties believe, at least within the Calvinistic camp) rather than PRESCRIPTIONS (or asserting what people OUGHT to believe). There is so much confusion in the SBC today on the topic of Calvinism. Too many people want to PRESCRIBE what to believe before they can accurately DESCRIBE the alternatives they wish to refute. Consequently, misrepresentations are legion.”

            Makes sense.

            “Anyway, debating Owen’s double payment and Trilemma arguments goes on and on and on. It’s like one big whack-a-mole game. Once you knock it on the head in one location, people bring it up again and again, as if it has not been addressed.”

            This is a ******great analogy*******. I have seen the very same thing, you knock out the Owenesque argument over here and then it just pops up again over there. In my opinion there is a bit of dishonesty going on here as if these arguments are refuted, people need to move on and present something else. Instead it becomes as you say “one big whack-a-mole game”

            “Here’s a nifty counter argument to Owen’s Trilemma, if you want to go this route. Think about the issue of original sin. Calvinists affirm that every man has the guilt of original sin by virtue of our union with Adam, however that union is conceived of. We all have original sin. There are not original sinS (plural), but one original sin which we all have. It’s not like the elect have a particular species of original sin and the non-elect have their own. Calvinists also affirm that Christ died for the guilt of original sin. If all of these things are the case, then we have at least one sin that the non-elect have that Jesus died for, yet Owen’s Trilemma will not allow that Christ died for any sin of the non-elect. If pushed to its logical conclusion, Owen would have to say that he thinks Christ died for SOME of the sins of SOME men, not ALL of the sins of SOME men. If he says that Christ died for original sin, then he (and those in his camp) will have to say that Christ died for one of the sins of the non-elect. See the point?”

            Yes, I just wish those who perpetuate the whack-a-mole-game “see the point”.

            Tony next you presented various problems with the Owens Trilemma argument:

            “The whole Trilemma argument is faulty on many levels. Those who employ it do not understand imputation. It’s not as though a certain quantity of sin (or numerical amount) was transferred to Christ when he died, any more than a certain quantity of Christ’s righteousness (or particular acts of righteousness) are transferred to us when we believe. Owen’s Trilemma forces those who employ it to think in terms of the transference of particular sins to Christ. Curiously, they don’t think of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to believers in this way. They don’t think that believers are credited with feeding five thousand people with a few loaves and a few fish. They don’t think believers are credited with items of Christ’s particular acts of righteousness, like speaking kindly to the woman at the well or with washing the disciples feet. Imputation, properly understood, does not work that way. . . . . . . . . .”

            You make some very good points against this argument. Points that should lead a reasonable person to stop using this argument. But alas, despite the strong arguments against these Owenesque arguments, I predict the whack-a-mole game will continue.

            I hope others here carefully read and think through Tony’s points on the trilemma argument, you can use them the next time that mole pops up again on some other blog!

            And I would remind all non-Calvinists to give special attention to Tony’s posts, he represents a well thought out form of Calvinism, not mere emotional rants and drive by postings that others sometimes engage in.

    Steven

    Amen Les

    The word of God is the means the Spirit uses to germinate new life within.
    GOD OUTWARDLY CALLS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENTANCE but only those who RECEIVE THE INWARD CALL OF GOD WILL RESPOND (Acts 13:48, 16:14; 1 Cor 1:23, 24; Rom 8:30).

      rhutchin

      More precisely, God commands everyone – each and every person – to repent and believe the gospel. Some say that a few obey that command and are saved. The Calvinists say that most (really all) refuse to obey and it is from these that God then draws His chosen to Christ by the effectual, inward call.

        Paul N

        A blind man does not “refuse” to see. That blind person would have to have a sincere opportunity to see and willfully refuse the offer.

        Stevens comment is quite troubling. God (from what i can gather) is creating people blind and calling them to see (their eternity depends on it) while knowing that He was never going to give them the time of day as far as helping them to see. And then He blames them and punishes them for being blind. A terrifying perspective. An insincere calling is no calling at all. Not my Jesus..no way!

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Great post!

          Steven

          Paul N says, A terrifying perspective. An insincere calling is no calling at all. Not my Jesus..no way!

          Paul, you need to address the biblical scriptures and show where these scriptures negate this calling.
          At this point, you are making Jesus in your image.

            Paul N

            Steven, address scripture? If we cannot understand what world means, what is the point. You in fact have twisted the plain reading of Scripture on its head with your contradictory comment. I mean no disrespect, however, your it makes no sense at all.

            A Jesus in my image? That is too funny. You are a man that reads every verse through the filter of a man’s systematic theology. Well, that maybe Calvin’s Jesus but that Jesus is not found in scripture. If Jesus is calling to all He means it. He is not playing some sick twisted joke on anyone.

              Steven

              Paul, I mean you no disrespect, but world has been understood since the Reformation era. Scripture interprets Scripture, that is the way God has revealed His truths to mankind.
              Now addressing your difficulty with calling.
              The Bible is clear there are more than one type of calling, and all does not always mean all.
              In Scripture, words are defined by their context.
              My filter is sound biblical exegesis that is first derived from the grammer, wihich builds the theology.

                Don Johnson

                Steven,

                There is only one call in Scripture with respect to the Gospel. There are not two. Everyone receives an “inward call”. Might I ask where you see two calls in Scripture?

                  rhutchin

                  The Scripture does not call; it commands. People are not called to repent and believe the gospel; people are commanded to repent and believe the gospel.

                  Steven

                  Absolutely Don,
                  let us go to Mathew 22:14
                  “For many are called, but few are chosen.”
                  Don I would like to recommend this reading by R.C. Sproul @
                  http://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/effectual-calling/

                  Which comes first: faith or the new birth? The answer of much of Christendom is that faith comes first, and then, when God sees that we have graciously put faith in Him, He gives us a new birth. The Bible actually teaches the reverse. God gives us a new birth, and we cry out to Him in faith as a result.
                  Part of the problem here is that many Christians fail to distinguish between the EXTERNAL CALL of the Gospel and the INTERNAL CALL of the Holy Spirit.
                  All Glory to God Alone.

                    Don Johnson

                    Steven,

                    “Which comes first faith or the new birth?” Do you mean according to Scripture or Calvinism? In Calvinism regeneration comes first. In Scripture faith always precedes regeneration.

                rhutchin

                “…all does not always mean all.”

                Actually, “all” always does mean “all.” The problem is that “all,” like many other words, can take on different meanings because on context. It is the discerning of that context – and the particular meaning to give to “all” – that is contested.

                Paul N

                Steven, you come across as if you seem to think you are working with two brains and the rest who don’t agree with you, one. You seem to think you have a lock on scripture. This is what i have witnessed a lot of those who follow calvin. Strange, when it is supposed to be the most humbling of doctrines.

                Your view of Jesus is not found in the pages of the bible. You cannot reconcile calvinism with Jesus. You can talk about your studies and all that.Your comment does not make sense in the light of the gospel, which is good news. If it is good news, it CANNOT be bad news. Now, how can the gospel be good news for those who Christ has predestined for hell?

                  Steven

                  Sorry Don, just one brain. First of all, Don, those who follow Calvin’s understanding of the Word of God have a confidence, a boldness that comes from knowing that this theology is the biblical truth, and is the most consistent with Scripture. It is apparent that you do not know who God intended the Good News to reach. Also you have not understood what Jesus message is, if you believe that Christ predestined sinners to hell. Nowhere in Holy Scripture does it state God predestined sinners to hell.
                  It is your misunderstanding of the results of the Fall and how God with His autonomous freewill chose a particular people for His Son out of the entire cursed human race, by Christ sacrifice on the cross, He accomplished the propitiation for those He would raise up on the last day. Jesus bore the sins of those sinners that the Father had given Him, not the sins of all humanity.
                  God’s love all in some ways, and God loves some in all ways.

                    Paul N

                    Paul, even.

                    Well, Steven, it’s a good thing that being confident is not synonymous with being right, because you are not.

                    If you think the gospel is for specific individuals and not the WHOLE WORLD, you have no idea what the gospel is. John The Baptist said whole world and I believe it. The Angel in Luke 2:10 said it was good news and glad tidings for all people, and I believe that also. I will go with this and not your perverse understanding of the gospel.

                    The scripture does not say man is predestined to heaven but you believe it. If you think mans destination, whether heaven or hell is all up to God, then by necessity He has predestined people to hell. This is the only sensible conclusion. You refusing to be consistent with your own beliefs does not change this.

                    Pre – before
                    Destination – place where someone is going or being sent.

                    Now, I have said this before, but if God decided who He would save before they where born, then He decided whom He would damn prior to them being born. Jacob I loved Esau I hated, right? They where not born yet.

                    rhutchin

                    “…if God decided who He would save before they where born, then He decided whom He would damn prior to them being born. Jacob I loved Esau I hated, right? They where not born yet.”

                    That a person is in need of saving presumes that they must be saved from something. The initial condition of all people is that they face damnation as a consequence of Adam’s sin. Thus, you argue that God damns all people if He decides to do nothing. If God saves some, he still damns the remaining ones He does not save. I think you are correct. If all people are damned because of sin, then God, the only person who can save them, effectively seals the fate of, thereby damning, those He chooses not to save.

                    You argue like the Universalist since it is their argument. May we presume that you are an Universlist. If not, you would be arguing against your own belief.

                    Paul N

                    Rhutchin, quit with that silly universalism talk. It’s so childish.

                    rhutchin

                    Why do you find it necessary to argue as an Universalist – even to argue against that which you seem to believe (assuming that you are not an Universalist)? What is your goal?

            Scott Shaver

            Looks to me like Paul N HAS addressed the “biblical scriptures”…….and that right skillfully with both his head and heart.

          rhutchin

          God commands people to do that which they do not want to do. Even atheists understand the gospel message – that people are sinners and Christ died for sinners and the associated rewards/losses (heaven and hell) – yet they consider such things to be foolishness. People are blind to the gospel with a spiritual blindness – they are dead in their sin. In that deadness, people lack a desire for God.

          People are still made in the image of God in that they can think rationally and are not stupid. That is the basis foe Pascal’s Wager. A rational person considering the pros and cons would always choose salvation. Yet, we observe that they do not. It is not the mind that is defective; it is the spirit that is dead.

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            The Lord Jesus said the spirit is willing the flesh is weak.

            Both Adam and Cain responded to the voice of the Lord God. How dead is that?

              Steven

              Dennis is taking Matthew 26:41 out of context. He believes this verse speaks of unbelievers.
              On the contrary,
              There is a double nature in all believers. Converted, renewed, sanctified as they are, they still carry about with them a mass of indwelling corruption, a body of sin.

              Paul speaks of this when he says, “I find a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind.” (Rom. 7:21-23.)

              The experience of all true Christians in every age confirms this. They find within, two contrary principles, and a continual strife between the two. To these two principles our Lord alludes when He addresses His half-awakened disciples. He calls the one flesh and the other spirit. He says, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
              “Expository Thoughts on the Gospel” J.C. Ryle

              The Lord Jesus Christ would not initiate the Lord’s Supper with unbelievers.

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                Steven,

                Not so fast!

                These disciples of our Lord were rebuked for sleeping when they should have been in a prayer meeting beholding the Lamb of God who was just a short distance away. Beholding the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the “world”. There is no indication at all that the Spirit was upon them and we know He wasn’t in them since they were more than 50 days away from The Day of Pentecost. Now, what we do know is they were with the Lord Jesus and they still went to sleep.I realize the commentaries you copy suggest these men were saved in the Church sense of the term but we know different. However the reality is, the “spirit” of man is the component of the soul in which God distinguishes and He can divide by His Word. It is the component of a man that “knows” the things of that man and we all know the flesh is weak.

                Even the spirits of the lost, are ready but without hope in salvation.

                However, the next time we see Peter sleeping he has the Holy Ghost with him and in him.

                Preach!

              Steven

              Dennis says that,
              “Both Adam and Cain responded to the voice of the Lord God. How dead is that?”

              you assume that God is calling Cain salvifically. can you demonstrate this from the text?

              “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”
              C.H. Spurgeon

                Steven

                Retraction
                My apologies to Dennis, I misunderstood and would like to retract this statement,
                you assume that God is calling Cain salvifically. can you demonstrate this from the text?

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Thanks Brother!

                Andy

                “I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.”
                C.H. Spurgeon

                –> It is unfortunate to see such a great preacher disparaging his fellow Christians in such a way, isn’t it?

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                Steven,

                My point here was Total Depravity as it is taught in Calvinism. It is propagated and taught that “one” must be regenerated first before they can respond to God. Why, because Total Depravity is as man so dead, he’s like a corpse floating down stream to the dam. He can’t hear God because he is dead.

                Now, is the T in TULIP to be applied to the whole canon or just the Church age?

                Next, Cain could have been saved and I’ll tell you why. He knew what the Lord God required and he choose to save himself or he choose his way instead of THE WAY. The Lord God had given both Abel and Cain specific instructions pertaining to His revealed will. Yet, the Lord was gracious to Cain and good to him. “If thou doest well, shalt thou be accepted, and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. For it is the goodness of God which leadth thee to repentance. But Cain would not!

                Finally your Spurgeon quote. What utter nonsense! Trust me, at this present hour he would agree with me. A preposterous statement made in haste. From Spurgeon’s lofty viewpoint tonight, he would throw rocks at the C. H. Spurgeon in this life, if he saw him coming down the dusty road having spilled ink to write this nonsense.

                A great preacher is not without foible!

                Everything is not Calvinism, if it is, it is idolatry!

                Preach!

              rhutchin

              So did Pharaoh, the king of Babylon, the prophets, and Saul of Tarsus. When God calls dead men they listen. Otherwise dead men ignore God and when they hear His word, they despise it. Would Lazarus have come out of the grave without Christ calling Him forth; could Lazarus refuse to come out of the grave after Jesus called him forth?

        Scott Shaver

        Rutchin:

        Do you ever get the impression from participating in this forum that most commenting couldn’t CARE LESS what “Calvinists” say?

          Rhutchin

          If people don’t care, they don’t comment.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Calvinism use of the term “dead” is like a floating carcus.

          The Bible use of term “dead”both Adam and Cain, two sinners, one of which was of the Wicked One could respond to the Lord God.

          How dead is that?

          Preach!

        Scott Shaver

        Once again Rutchin:

        You’ve snagged your britches on the horns of your own theological template.

        “God commands EVERYONE EVERYWHERE to repent and believe the gospel.

        Why would God insist on this charade from EVERYONE including folks He’s already consigned to Hell from eternity past?

        You’ve indicated previously your discomfort with telling people randomly that Jesus loves them and has provided a means of salvation for all.

        You’ve actually served up a great passage for buttressing the arguments of your theological detractors. Simply this: From our finite perspective, the propitiation of Christ has unlimited potential numerically.

          rhutchin

          Scott asks, “Why would God insist on this charade from EVERYONE including folks He’s already consigned to Hell from eternity past?”

          My opinion: God commands that all people repent and believe the gospel through the preaching of His prophets, pastors, and teachers. Through this means God conveys faith to His elect and draws them out of the world into fellowship with Christ but for the reprobate, He prepares them for the judgment to which He has ordained them.

            Steven

            rhutchin, your opinion is biblical.

            Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
            What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
            And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
            even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
            Romans 9:21-24

            Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “THOUGH THE NUMBER OF THE SONS OF ISRAEL BE LIKE THE SAND OF THE SEA, IT IS THE REMNANT THAT WILL BE SAVED;
            Romans 9:27

      Lydia

      “GOD OUTWARDLY CALLS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENTANCE but only those who RECEIVE THE INWARD CALL OF GOD WILL RESPOND”

      So Jesus Christ is doing a bait and switch. he is telling everyrone to repent and believe KNOWING that many cannot because they were not chosen before they were born and are UNABLE to repsond. Nice. We would call that cruel if similar was done by parents to their children. Sets Jesus up as a deciever. And people wonder why I have such a problem teaching this stuff to our youth.

        Rhutchin

        Not “cannot” but will not. Not because not chosen but as having a hard heart.

norm

If cosmos means elect, then we have some very interesting reading elsewhere from John who used cosmos numerous times. In these verses, I have substituted the Gk word cosmos for the word elect.

15 Do not love the elect or anything in the elect. If anyone loves the elect, love for the Father[d] is not in them. 16 For everything in the elect—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the elect. 17 The elect and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Your citation of John 1.29 is good, but I rather like 1 John 2.2 as a rebuttal to what I believe is the eisegetical practice of inserting a size 5 elect foot into a size 14 cosmos shoe:
“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” How problematic for the Calvinist is the adjective “whole”? Very. That adjective excludes nothing/no one. But does it imply universalism? No. Our Lord’s atoning sacrifice is available for all, but is salvific only for those who repent and believe. It is fair to say that propitiation is a one-size fits all, but not everyone will put on the shoe.

One other point I have made repeatedly at this blog, to wit: Why did not the Holy Spirit of God inspire the writers of the word “cosmos” to use the word “eklektos” (the called-out/chosen ones) if God wanted to communicate that he loved only the elect?

To change cosmos to elect means that one must ignore the first rule of hermeneutics, which to take the plain-sense meaning of the word, as you noted. Further, to make such a change reveals that theology is driving exegesis, which is exactly backward from what is appropriate.

Great article, Dr. Harwood, as usual. But I am not sure it is for “everyone.”

    Ken

    Norm

    What an excellent analysis you have made. If I were a Calvinist, (an impossibility, I will add), your argument, when added to Dr. Harwood’s logic in support of scripture, would persuade me to become a non-Calvinist without hesitation. Your logic is irrefutable!!

Jim P

For Dialog Dr. Harwood:

Cosmos can take in a larger context than the focus to be ‘people’ and still include ‘people.’ That context can be ALL of ‘creation’ which includes all people. ‘God so loves this COSMOS’ ( Created by Him even though ruled by Sin and Death). God’s giving of His Son defeated this Cosmos’ greatest enemy.

When the focus is on mankind this can lose the larger picture that includes ‘all Creation’ (Cosmos?). “In Christ there is a New Creation.”

    Tony Byrne

    The context won’t allow for the abstract notion of “world” to merely mean “creation.” The “world” in the context of John 3:16 are those that ought to believe rather than persist in unbelief and perish (v. 16); rather than the “world” being condemned (as they deserve), they rather have the opportunity now to be saved (v. 17). Moreover, even though light has come among the “world,” they have “loved darkness rather than light” (v. 19). The context of John 3:16 concerns personal animosity within the “world.” Even though it is worthy to be condemned, the love of God is seen in bringing opportunities of salvation rather than condemnation to this light-hating “world.” The term “world” cannot be reduced to a mere notion of abstract “creation.” The “world” as a moral status, which is only true of personal, rational agents.

    Since the “world” of John 3:16 is necessarily a group of rational, moral agents, you’re only left with 3 choices:

    1) The “world” is the elect.
    2) The “world” is all mankind without exception.
    3) The “world” is that mass of mankind still alive and subsisting in unbelief, as over against those who have come to to the light and believed (the church).

    Option #3 makes the most sense. It is John’s normal usage of the term. For example, 1 John 5:19 sets off believers from the still-living “world” that persists under the sway of the wicked one. The “world” is not all men without exception. Rather, it is all living men, of whatever race, still in unbelief and darkness.

      Jim P

      Mankind does need an environment to live, breath and walk around in. Couldn’t that environment be called the ‘cosmos’?
      He needs food to eat, friends to make, a place to tame and bring in line to God’s rule. ‘Cosmos’ seems to be a decent description of a place like that.

      Instead of God destroying that ‘cosmos’ He sent His son in order to save that ‘cosmos.’ Making a prison into a paradise. A using those who want to be free to help Him.

      Just my wrestling with these. But, yes there are two dangers: Over simplifying and Over Complicating. Finding the balance is hard work.

        Tony Byrne

        Jim,

        Take some time to think about the context of John 3:16. Do you really want to say that the text basically means “God so loved an environment”? An environment does not have the moral, volitional hostility that the context has in mind in its usage of “world.” The “world” is light-rejecting. The “world” is worthy of condemnation because it does not believe. Believing or not believing is a moral, volitional response, which is only true of personal agency. Trees, dirt, air, or “the environment” are not capable of unbelief and antagonistic hostility to the light. “Loving darkness” is only true of personal, moral agents as well.

        While God certainly loves His non-personal creation, that is clearly not what the text has in mind when it describes the “world.” As I said above, if the “world” is understood to be personal, volitional agents, then you’re only left with the 3 choices above. Pick one and see what fits the immediate context and usage of “world” by John throughout his writings. Plug in “living unbelievers” (or option 3 above, not option 1 or 2) when persons are clearly in view and I submit to you that it consistently fits.

      Robert

      Tony,

      “1) The “world” is the elect.
      2) The “world” is all mankind without exception.
      3) The “world” is that mass of mankind still alive and subsisting in unbelief, as over against those who have come to to the light and believed (the church).
      Option #3 makes the most sense. It is John’s normal usage of the term. For example, 1 John 5:19 sets off believers from the still-living “world” that persists under the sway of the wicked one. The “world” is not all men without exception. Rather, it is all living men, of whatever race, still in unbelief and darkness.”

      Tony you are correct here, the best interpretation of “world” in John 3”16 is option 3. This is the position that you arrive at if you examine the usage of the term by the apostle John in his gospel. This is also the position taken by D. A. Carson in his commentary on John. Carson is himself a Calvinist but he cannot evade the proper exegesis of this term in the gospel of John. In the context of John’s gospel it refers to that group of still rebellious mankind alive when John writes his gospel.

      If this is the proper way to take “world” in John 3:16, then this is a strong argument against the false Calvinistic view of limited atonement.

      Because of that “world” that is referred to in John 3:16 God loves that “world” and gives Jesus as an atonement for that “world”, not all will become believers (some will and some will not). So the term “world” in Jn. 3:16 has a broader referent than just those who will eventually believe/only believing ones (it also includes folks who will never repent, never believer, never become believers). So “world” according to option 3 is a strong argument against limited atonement. It cannot be in reference to only those who end up believing because the term “world” includes both those who will eventually believe and those who will not eventually believe (which means that Jesus was given as an atonement for even some who will never believe, which confirms the universal atonement view to be the correct and biblical view).

        Tony Byrne

        Thanks, Robert. I think you’re correct. However, when it comes to D. A. Carson, I don’t think he is as clear as he could be on the category of “world.” I think you are reading him correctly, but I would like to see more precision by him. As you very precisely noted, the “world” in “the context of John’s gospel…refers to that group of still rebellious mankind alive when John writes his gospel.” I think that is even more precise than Carson is. First, so many people think in terms of false dichotomies (i.e. either the “world” is all mankind without exception or only the elect). That’s a ridiculous false choice, as you know. Second, interpreters are not careful to distinguish between all mankind, whether born or not-yet-born (which is very abstract), and living unbelievers. And third, people are not careful to distinguish between the original meaning and its application. In other words, as you said, the “world” is “that group of still rebellious mankind alive WHEN JOHN WRITES HIS GOSPEL.” That is precisely correct. Yes, we can INFER that it now APPLIES to all living unbelievers today, but that APPLICATION of the text should be distinguished from its original MEANING. I think Carson lacks these careful details, but he still does a good job (or at least better than most) in pointing out the meaning of “world” in Johannine usage. Many years ago I created this “world chart” to try to get people (or at least Calvinists) to precisely understand the categories.

Grant

John Owen elsewhere wrote:
“God imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent the pains of hell for, either:

– All the sins of all men.
– All the sins of some men, or
– Some sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:
If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved.
If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world.
But if the first be true, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, “Because of their unbelief.”
I ask, “Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not?”
If it is, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not.
If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died?
If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”

John Mann

Excellent article, Dr. Harwood. I look forward to reading the rest of the journal.

Doug Sayers

Thanks again, Dr H for your clarity and precision. If I were still a Calvinist, I would be squirming to get out from under this one. I would fare no better than Les and Tony in attempting to show that the atonement is both accomplished *and applied* to the elect at the cross, while trying not to emasculate repentance and faith as meaningful conditions of salvation. In the Reformed system, faith could be substituted by most anything, as long as it was impossible for sinners. God could have said whoever has wings will be saved; then He would irresistibly cause wings to grow on the elect and the wings would only fly to heaven. The glory of a contrite faith, which works by love, is lost in their system. Calvinists struggle to distinguish between the “law of faith” and the “law of works.” Rom 3.27

You hit nail on the head with this:

“The interpretations of Turretin and Owen are problematic, because they set aside the plain- sense meaning of the verse for a view not found in this verse.” This is doubly problematic when the plain-sense meaning of the text does not run contrary to any other texts of Scripture and contains the glorious Gospel in a nutshell.

As a lightly educated layman, I’m thankful that the LORD gives us the Gospel in terms that do not require a PhD in Church History and Philosophy. Nor do we need to fully understand the workings of God’s omniscience and/or understand how the mind makes choices (after the noetic effects of the fall, of course).

Keep up the good work; You are, no doubt, helping many others to avoid the confusing pitfalls of the Calvinistic over-correction.

    Les Prouty

    Doug,

    Thanks for your concern but I’m not squirming and I doubt Tony is either. What I am doing is still waiting for a satisfactory response to “How are the sins of those presently in eternal torment (for instance) satisfied by the work of Christ on the cross? in the universal atonement notion. But squirming? Nope. Been solidly in my Reformed position 30 years and I’m way past squirming when someone tries to undercut my theological position. As I’m sure you are as well brother.

      norm

      Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as salvation. Those presently in eternal torment had their chance to believe God, as did Abraham. Your question, Les, suggests that all who died before the crucifixion are in hell. I know you don’t believe that. Therefore, your question is moot.

      Scott Shavers

      Despite our differences, gotta hand it to Les for his unflinching “theological position”.

      Will not squirm even when his “theological positions” have been thoroughly and successfully dismantled.

      That’s determination for sure. I admire it……in a sick kind of way.

        Les Prouty

        Thanks Scott.

        “Will not squirm even when his “theological positions” have been thoroughly and successfully dismantled.”

        If they had, not only would Tony and I squirm, but thousands of Reformed theologians would squirm as well and the debate would be over. Obviously “successfully dismantled” is really only a dream. You all here won’t be the first to attempt to dismantle Calvinism and you won’t be the last. But I doubt DA Carson is squirming wondering how he could have been so wrong. :)

          Scott Shaver

          Christ FULFILLED the LAW. But where or when did HE or ANY OF HIS FIRST DISCIPLES claim to be “reformers”….or even “theologians” for that matter.

          Les Prouty

          Scott,

          “Christ FULFILLED the LAW. But where or when did HE or ANY OF HIS FIRST DISCIPLES claim to be “reformers”….or even “theologians” for that matter.”

          ??????

            Scott Shaver

            Think hard Les:

            I know you can figure this one out :)

          Scott Shaver

          Les:

          D.A.Carson could have gotten it wrong the same way any human being who puts his or her pants on 1 leg at a time can get it wrong.

          He won’t be the first nor the last. D.A. Carson is not among my “final spiritual authorities”. He was/is a theologian.

            Les Prouty

            Yes Carson could have gotten it wrong. And so could I. And Warfield, etc. And you too for that matter.

          Scott Shaver

          Good point Les:

          Kindly allow me margin for correction.

          For MY purposes (spiritually and intellectually) 5 POINT CALVINISM as well as arguments for neo-theological reform a la Calvin in Western Christianity have BEEN DISMANTLED. (Past completed action).

            Les Prouty

            Certainly allowed Scott.

            “For MY purposes (spiritually and intellectually) 5 POINT CALVINISM as well as arguments for neo-theological reform a la Calvin in Western Christianity have BEEN DISMANTLED. (Past completed action).”

            Ok. For YOUR purposes. So in your mind. Now I get it. But not everywhere else. If that brings you comfort for YOUR purposes well all well and good. But we of the Reformed faith are still around and our landscape is certainly not dismantled. :)

              Scott Shaver

              Very well Les:

              Then you probably pay no mind to the spiritual effect of antagonism in your “reformed crusade”.

              Question becomes: Why are you and Rutchin (two Presbyterians) so adamant about arguing and pushing your agenda with Baptists on a “Southern Baptist” website.

              I understand that this kind of mercenary behavior was encouraged by Fundamentalists during the takeover in the name of “inerrancy”, but now even the Fundamentalists (who should have never gotten into bed with Presbyterians and high calvinists to begin with) are calling you nuts.

              Why the persistence and continued interjection of your rejected theological template into such forums. Do you think it’s actually serving to draw folks to your system?

              I think you guys have interest only in being continual pains in the arse.

                Rhutchin

                for accuracy, I am southern baptist.

              Les Prouty

              Scott,

              This will be my last comment on our little part of this entire comment thread.

              “Question becomes: Why are you and Rutchin (two Presbyterians) so adamant about arguing and pushing your agenda with Baptists on a “Southern Baptist” website.”

              I can only speak for myself. I have no agenda. I’m here as a concerned SB ordained minister and one who have significant friends and family in SB churches. I try to remain focused in my comments to soteriology (which is often the subject of the posts here) and not get into other things.

              “Why the persistence and continued interjection of your rejected theological template into such forums. Do you think it’s actually serving to draw folks to your system?”

              Again, maybe I’m wrong, but the posts invite comments from both sides of the debate over soteriology. I suppose if the site owners don’t want Reformed ideas interjected they can say so, lock us all out and then all you who agree with each other can have back slapping attaboys on the comment streams. If that’s what the site owners want then I’m fine to abide with that.

              :I think you guys have interest only in being continual pains in the arse.” Well I don’t want to be. I’m sure I am for a few regular commenters here.

              Have a blessed day Scott.

                Scott Shaver

                Sorry if I’ve offended you Les.

                Just don’t understand why some people insist on repeatedly sticking their heads into meat grinders.

                Les

                Scott, you did not offend me. I was just trying to answer your questions.

                Thanks

                Scott Shaver

                With all due respect, Les:

                I have SBC “ordination papers” as well.

                Certificates of Ordination don’t necessarily imply that you, I, or anyone else is currently and historically “Southern Baptist” in his/her changing/evolving personal theological templates.

                Papers don’t mean squat.

                  Andrew Barker

                  Scott: I was going to ask for clarification on the matter of SB ordination. If it’s purely a question of ‘paper’ status I guess there’s nothing to do. Otherwise I think there would be a good case for having Les de-frocked. Then all will be revealed, or not, if he’s got his “big boy pants” on. :)

                    Les Prouty

                    Andrew, interesting idea. On what basis would the de-frocking proceed? Hey, you could begin the process! Because everyone wants to know if I really do have my big boy pants on, right? :)

                    Scott Shaver

                    Andrew:

                    I’m sure you’re aware of this:

                    “SBC Ordination” is simply a matter of convening and confirming a candidate for ministry under the sanction of his or her local baptist church. Piece of paper signed by deacons, pastor, perhaps a representative or two from local baptist association.

                    I have no problems with Presbyterians who want to become Southern Baptists. I do have substantial issues with Presbyterians who want to become Baptist for the purpose of turning them into Presbyterians.

                    There’s enough “Anabaptist” in me to be nervous around “reformers” even if no words are exchanged. It’s a historical carry over :)

                Les Prouty

                Scott,

                “Certificates of Ordination don’t necessarily imply that you, I, or anyone else is currently and historically “Southern Baptist” in his/her changing/evolving personal theological templates.”

                Interestingly, I see here many statements about not just church autonomy but many statements about self autonomy in SB life. References to the “priesthood of the believer” and “soul competency” are often invoked here. So don’t those ideas provide some fairly wide latitude for beliefs in SB life? From Arminian (not calling anyone one) to strict Calvinist? From dispy primal to post mil? From always accept only credo immersed into membership to accept people who have been paedo sprinkled? The BF&M is to binding on any one nor on any church, correct?

                Actually this would be a great discussion topic in its own right…how far can one depart from…what set of beliefs and still legitimately claim to be a SB?

                Scott you’re a good writer. A good wordsmither. Why don’t you write such an article?

                Les

                  Scott Shaver

                  Les:
                  The 2000BFM was (IMO) a negative watershed in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Convention” leaders, pastors, seminary presidents decided to remove Christ as the sole criterion of biblical interpretation in favor of the “reformed” preferences of guys like Al Mohler.

                  So yes, you are correct, the BFM2000 allows a tremendous amount of latitude for interjection into Southern Baptist life certain soteriological and ecclessiological positions not held to or rejected by the majority of church members who’ve been filling SBC related church pews and membership roles for multiple generations.

                  Agreed Les, the BFM2000 certainly allows latitude but neither fosters or produces unity.

                  Herein lies the rub: When the “head” of a body decides to run off in a tangental direction, it probably ought be sure everything from the neck down is willing to follow.

                  Obviously, that has not been the case as demonstrated by attempts of Mohler et al to keep the charade going with his “Theological Triage”. I notice some other current publications circulating which come off to me as lower budget versions of this same kind of reasoning.

                  In recent years, there has also been a perceived need within SBC circles to offer up as well a “Traditional Statement”. Conclusion: Even with all the brain-power, ink, and theological shell games….the SBC is as divided now between Calvinist and non-calvinist elements as it appeared to be during the war between blood-brothers (i.e. “Fundamentalist and Moderate Southern Baptists).

                  Creeds like the BFM2000 were designed more to open the gates for neo-calvinism than to accurately portray the general consensus and positions of the folks that comprised the bulk and membership of SBC affiliated churches. In essence, the SBC became a top down rather than bottom up organization where those in denominational positions began to dictate theology rather than reflect the theology of the denomination they claim to “serve”.

                  It’s a “reconstruction” as opposed to an “enlarging of the tent”. Exactly why Russell Dilday predicted that the denomination would divide along calvinist and noncalvinist lines. Precisely the position in which we now find ourselves.

                  Thanks for the compliment Les but no thanks. During the CR (late 80’s and into the early 90’s) I worked and convened with other concerned Southern Baptists until I was blue in the face and my fingers worn to the nubs from writing, posting and circulating news articles and letters. At that time in SB life, the shibboleth was “inerrancy”. If you disagreed with Mohler, Patterson and Pressler……”you just didn’t believe the Bible”.

                  The one great change that has taken place since then is the full-blown advent of the internet and cyberspace. The powers that be in SBC life don’t control the power of the press anymore and the voices of dissent that were there in full force during the CR….have an opportunity to be heard now.

                  Though “dead” they yet speak. If our comments come off to some as “uncivil” just remember the incivilities suffered by thousands at the hands of SBC witch hunters.

                  I leave the article writing now to Fundamentalist and NeoCalvinistic “brethren” who still don’t appear quite able to “jell” with one another. Being out of the vocational pastorate means I don’t have to worry about pulling punches while engaging the ideas of those with whom I disagree for fear of losing my job or being black-listed within the denomination.

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Les,

      The account Christ gave in Luke 16 helps in this connection seeing the rich man was in Hades at the time Christ gave the illustration. The problem was not the atonement, but the lack of repentance. He refused to save himself from this untoward generation by obeying God’s Word. Those with the law perished with the law, those without, perished without.

        Jim P

        Dennis,

        I’d like to challenge you on your understanding of this Luke 16 passage. It is a parable. If so, then the Rich Man is representative of what Christ, at the time, is communicating. If it is a parable (I’m unflinchingly convinced) then your misapplying. Wouldn’t you want to know who, what represents the Rich Man, Lazarus, Hades, ….?

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Jim

          Who said this is a parable ?

          Since you want to know my understanding of the text here it is. Christ introduced us to two men. Two lost sinners, the filthy rich and the dirty poor. Abraham is dead literally, in the place “afar off”. Moses and the prophets has revealed God’s Word to the nation. One of these sinners obeyed Moses and the prophets. One did not. Both died literally. The rich man did not discover God’s will in Hades, he knew what God required when he was on the earth. Those lost brothers of his still on earth knew as will.

          Those Hell bound Pharisees knew they were represented in this account as well. Christ informed these leaders of their eternal state apart from Him.

          Christ told a certain crowd except ye repent ye shall likewise perish.

          Now what the rich man discovered was his own will. He refused to turn from what he love. Men love darkness rather than light.

          Preach!

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Jim

          Beginning at Moses and the prophets ,Christ expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.

            Jim P

            Well Dennis, you are overlapping a number of things to suggest literal and figurative. It seems you’re satisfied with your some-what literal understanding. Thanks for reading my thoughts anyhow. I said it’s a parable because it is and applying actual persons to the figures in the parable is making ‘tradition’ win out again. And whatever the view ‘traditions invalidates the Word of God.’ Yes, Jesus’ words.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Thank you Bro Jim for your kind response. In the account referenced we have the our father in the faith Abraham, God’s requirement set forth in Moses and the prophets. All of the above point to God’s grace and mercy found in the One who bowed His head and said “It is finished.
              Blessings

              Preach!

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Jim,

              Lazarus is not someone Christ made up to get a point across to those whom had sneered him earlier. He told them of a literal rich man whose name wasn’t important since he died and went to Hell. However Lazarus name is revealed. Why, because he obeyed the word of God, repented, now get this, begging God for the remission of sins, trusting the One whom Simeon and Anna had trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ.

              Lazarus name made known because blessed are they who’s name is written in the book of life.

              Preach!

                Jim P

                Dennis,

                If you’d like to continue this discussion please reconsider your post about ‘…every man a liar.’
                Do you really think that’s helpful?

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Jim,

                  Read the post again. First, the reference was made regarding the reformers and their doctrine. If I have to choose between the words of Calvin, or nonCalvinist. When their words contridict the holy Scriptures I agree with God. When man’s dogma opposes the clear teaching of the word of God someone is not telling the truth .God said in this connection let God be true and every man a liar.
                  Jim, you are not the reformers referenced.

                  Christ words or Calvin’s, I side with Christ!

                    Dennis

                    That’s fine Dennis. Will let it go with this: understanding Christ’s Words is the challenge. 2000 years after the fact is not as easy as 1,2,3.

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  No Jim, the issue isn’t what Christ Jesus our Lord said, the issue is Calvin and those who embraced him, hijacked him and his teach as the authority on the subject discussed by those of us who conference with Baptists. The same crowd which Calvin and Zwingli despised with utter hatred.

                  The issue isn’t with understanding what Christ said or meant, the issue is with what Calvin and those who took his teaching as what it “now” means to the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

                  I strongly reject such doctrine and will continue to do so. There it is the last word!

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          There is a great deal of unflinching in here but the truth shall endure forever and ever. For God so love the world that He gave His Son, His Son gave His life for the world no matter what the reformers believed or taught. Let God be true and every man a liar.

          Scott Shaver

          If it is a parable (not saying it isn’t)….It’s the only one Jesus used that he did not identify and qualify as a parable before telling it.

            Scott Shaver

            I’m wrong again. It’s the only one not identified by the biblical writer (I said “Jesus”) as a parable.

      doug sayers

      I hear you Les and you are correct in that we are trying to undercut your 30 year old theology / soteriology. If we ever succeed, you will be glad that you did not have to stand before our Lord, one day, and explain why you taught that some people are born without any hope in Christ, because of Adam’s sin, or nothing foreseen in them, or worse yet, for no reason at all.

      Your Q: “How are the sins of those presently in eternal torment (for instance) satisfied by the work of Christ on the cross?”

      Because the satisfaction must be *applied* by faith to anyone who can justly be held culpable for their sin. Those presently in hell are there because of the biblical doctrine of imputation (aka justification by faith). See John 3:16, Rom 4, Gal… The satisfaction was made once for all, by Christ, who is the propitiation for our (believers) sins and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world. Wheat and tares both. 1 John 2. The satisfaction must be applied, that is, imputed to be in full effect. I am unaware of any texts that teach clearly (or by good/necessary inference) that the cross is automatically applied to any culpable sinners. The damned will have themselves to blame for their misery. Not Adam or a mythical arbitrary decree of God.

        Dennis Lee Dabney

        Chosen or Not!

        Is a great read in this discussion.

        Thanks Doug for your labor of love.

        Preach !

        Rhutchin

        In other words, the sins of those in hell were not satisfied by Christ’s death on the Cross. Christ was the propitiation for Ian; satisfaction for sin was then achieved through faith.

          Scott Shaver

          Ever been to Hell, Rutchin?

          Or ever discussed with eternal God in person and with His brand of eternal understanding the mechanics of creation and the mystery of redemption?

          You have not ascended to the heights of heaven nor the depths of Hell yourself….How can anyone possibly take your word for what happened/happens/will happen in those realms.?

          I’m reminded of the passage from Job, whereupon his recognition of the futility of attempting to rationalize the purpose said in essence, “I’ve heretofore spoken in ignorance but now will shut my lips upon the revelation of your glory.” My paraphrase.

            rhutchin

            You are the one who said that sin was not satisfied by Christ’s death but only upon the exercise of faith. I just followed your lead.

              rhutchin

              Ooops. Not your lead but Doug’s lead.

              Scott Shaver

              Rutchin:

              Now your eyes are are as crossed as your theology.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Rhutchin,

          No one should blame their family physician, if they fail to take the prescribed medication which can save their mortal life. Their trusted doctor who has their physical well being at heart, has written out the prescription for their own good.

          However, for some reason his patient thinks he cares more about his heath than his doctor concerning his “healing”. So “Mr. I’ll be alright in a few days is now dead”.

          So, who’s the blame for his death? The physician who is certified and have a taken an oath in this connection to provide care for “All” of his patients. Who has prescribed the correct medication and proper dosage. Or do we blame “Mr. I’ll be alright in a few day”?

          The same answer is true as it relates to the Great Physician, who was sent to bring healing to a sin sick world.

          For it is written, they that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.

          Preach!

            rhutchin

            What physician prescribes medicine to a corpse lying on the slab? First give the corpse life and then prescribe the medicine to continue that life.

              Scott Shaver

              “What physician prescribes medicine to a corpse”.

              The Great Physician who has both the medicine and power to resurrect WHOSOEVER WILL unto life everlasting.

              That’s “what” physician.

                Steven

                Whosoever> an indefinite article does not exist in the Koine Greek language
                Where is that word found in the Greek language.
                Word abuse is what it is.

                rhutchin

                What about the whosoever will nots? Are they resurrected (other than to be judged and consigned to hell)?

                Can the whosoever wills resurrect themselves? How could that happen? Even Christ could not resurrect Himself, could he – didn’t God have to resurrect Christ? If Christ could not resurrect Himself, how can a person resurrect himself except God do it? If God does resurrects a person, are you saying that He does it on the condition that the “whosoever will” demonstrates worthiness to be resurrected in some manner (e.g., for example by crying out for salvation)?

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Both Adam and Cain responded to the voice of the Lord God in of their sinful condition. The Lord God spoke to both of them without a new heart.

              A dead corpse on slab sounds like he’s ready for the undertaker!

                rhutchin

                When Christ speaks to the dead Lazarus, Lazarus responds, just as Adam/Cain respond when God speaks to them. In a similar way, when God speaks to people dead in sin, they will respond and be saved – else why would God be speaking to them at all. Thus, we can conclude that God speaks to His elect resulting in their salvation but does not speak to the reprobate so that there is no salvation for them.

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Rhutchin says,

                  When Christ speaks to the dead Lazarus, Lazarus responds, just as Adam/Cain respond when God speaks to them.

                  Finally you concur with the Holy Scriptures. Your statement, just as Adam/Cain respond when God speaks to them.

                  Now God has spoken and both Adam and Cain have responded making them responsible to the Sovereign for eternal Life.

                  There it is. There you have it, the Scriptural Sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man and Rhutchin is in agreement.

                  Part of my work is done here, my time is up and I thank you for yours!

                  Sermon prep and school work calling, I’m officially off vacation!

                  Preach!

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Dead in trespasses and sins can mean no more than we observe in both Adam and Cain once sin entered into the world.

              Now the Second death is another story.

                rhutchin

                So, when a person faces a personal confrontation with God as Adam and Cain did, we can conclude that their “deadness” in sin will not detract from them interacting with God.

                OK. For those not so confronted by God but dealing only with His word, that deadness results in the person calling the gospel foolishness. That tells us that a person can only be saved through the personal involvement of God to bring the person to salvation. Do you have a way to get over the “foolishness” hurdle without God being directly involved as with Adam and Cain?

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Rhutchin,

              Your “dead corpse on the slab” remark sets forth Biblical death which is sleep only for the body until the resurrection of life or resurrection of damnation.

              However all who reject such a great salvation and end up in Hades will not have time to be concerned about, as you say the “dead corpse on the slab. Rather they won’t have time to miss their bodies for experiencing their bodies in that unthinkable place.
              Therefore we must preach the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.

              Preach!

                rhutchin

                The dead corpse on the slab can be used to illustrate two situations.

                There is the physical death of the body whereupon follows the judgement so that the person’s destiny is sealed at physical death.

                There is the spiritual death of the person whereupon the person is an enemy of God and a slave to sin and needs to be made alive in order to escape the consequences of physical death.

                In either case, a corpse cannot make itself live again – whether physical death or spiritual death is in view. Would you not agree that God alone can make a dead corpse live again – whether physically dead or spiritually dead?

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Rhutchin,

                  Total depravity cannot be compared to a “dead corpse on the slab”.

                  My point is “what saith the scriptures”. Total depravity can mean no more than what Genesis says about Adam after the Fall and what it said about Cain in the Fall. Both were dead in trespasses and sins and yet responded to God. Responded to the degree that both knew His will after sin had entered the world.
                  Without REGENERATION FIRST!

                  Preach!

                    Steven

                    Dennis, here is your problem.
                    Regeneration is an action that takes place in the New Covenant; the Covenant of Grace.
                    There is no regeneration, replacing the heart of stone(inclination to sin) with the heart of flesh( inclination to cling to Christ) in the Old Testament.
                    The Old Covenant of Works did not restrict God’s ability to communicate with any of his creation and vice versa.
                    So your example of freewill evidence in the Old Testament is a non sequitur.

                    rhutchin

                    Paul describes those who are totally depraved in Romans:

                    “…the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”

                    “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” and Hebrews, “..without faith it is impossible to please God,…”

                    “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

                    Then Corinthians, “…the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,…The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them,…”

                    “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,…”

                    So, here is a description of the unsaved in a few verses:

                    1. He does not have the Spirit of God so is controlled by the sinful nature.
                    2. He does not have faith.
                    3. He is hostile toward God.
                    4. He does not accept the gospel and the gospel is foolishness to him.
                    5. He is blinded by Satan so as not to even see the gospel.

                    This is just a sampling of that which the Scriptures say about the unsaved from which the Calvinists conclude that the unsaved are totally unable and inable to respond to the gospel absent radical action by God to change their condition. While some don’t appreciate the illustration of a corpse to provide a sense of the dire straits in which the unsaved find themselves, the sense is still that the unsaved cannot respond to the gospel without help from God. So Jesus says in John 6, “…no-one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” It is only through ignorance of the Scriptures that people deny the Total Depravity – Inability – of the unsaved to respond to the gospel absent God’s direct action to change their condition.

                    Don Johnson

                    Steven,

                    You are correct, no one was regenerate it the OT times. I think most of your Calvinist friends will disagree with you. In fact they must if they believe in “total inability.” Don’t worry though, because they won’t find any Scripture to show you’re wrong. The amazing think is, even though none were regenerate, they were still able to have faith. I wonder how that could be?

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Rhutchin,

                  Deal with Adam and Cain’s total depravity in the seed plot book of the Bible.

                  Where is your illustration
                  found in the book of origins?

                    rhutchin

                    “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”

    Tony Byrne

    I don’t know what you read, Doug, but you have not understood what I believe about God’s love, the extent of the atonement, etc. I am the sort of Calvinist (i.e. the classic-moderate variety) that believes God gave Christ to suffer on behalf of the whole human race. What I have outlined above and elsewhere are the different positions people take on the idea of “salvific love.” I was engaging in description (what different people specifically believe), not prescription (what people ought to believe about God’s love, His desire to save, and the extent of the atonement).

    You represented both me and Les as if we’re, “attempting to show that the atonement is both accomplished *and applied* to the elect at the cross, while trying not to emasculate repentance and faith as meaningful conditions of salvation.” That is certainly NOT my position, and I doubt Les believes the atonement is APPLIED to the elect at the cross.

    First, I don’t believe Christ suffered for the elect ALONE. As I said above, I believe Christ suffered for the whole human race. You wrongly assumed I believe otherwise. Second, Calvinists like Les, even though he does believe Christ suffered on behalf of the elect alone (i.e. a limited imputation of sin to Christ), I very much doubt that he believes the atonement is applied to all the elect at the cross. Few Calvinists believe that. In fact, such a notion is usually only found among a few Calvinistic antinomians in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s and among some classic hyper-Calvinists. I certainly don’t share their ideas, and I think it is reasonable to assume that Les does not either, as he is just following what mainstream high Calvinists believe on the atonement, i.e. that Christ suffered on behalf of the elect alone and that it is effectually applied by the Spirit at the point when faith is granted, not at the time of the cross.

    You have not demonstrated that you understand either my position, Les’ position, or the mainstream varieties of Calvinistic belief. NONE of the mainstream varieties of Calvinism think Christ’s death was applied to all of the elect at the cross.

      Les Prouty

      Doug,

      Tony has said it well and he is correct about my position and your misrepresentation (unintentional I am sure) of our positions.

      If satisfaction was made for the sins of everyone and God’s wrath propitiated, why are some in hell? My position is that one who has had the eternal wrath of God satisfied by the substitution of Jesus in his place cannot and will not suffer the eternal wrath of God since the satisfaction Jesus made will be effectually applied via the gift of faith. My position is also that if a person has had Jesus as their substitute, taking that person’s deserved eternal wrath on Himself and satisfying all the holy demands of God on the cross for that individual, then it is not only counter biblical, it is, well, nonsense. No offense intended. What? Will the wrath and penalty that sinner deserved and placed on Jesus as his substitute be reversed at the sinner’s death because he didn’t exercise faith? i.e. will the wrath and punishment be taken back off jesus and re placed on the sinner since it was apparently removed for the sinner? Or was one sin perhaps left out and not atoned for?

      Again, please detail what happened at the substitutionary, penal atonement for those sinners in hell who did not believe? And if you say Jesus fully took their punishment, how did they get it back on them?

rhutchin

John 3:16 presents a conundrum. It says:

” God so loved the world –
– That He gave His son so that those believing would have eternal life.

So, God loves the world but His intent is only to save those believing in Christ. The follow-on issue then becomes: How come some believe in Christ and some do not?

John 3:16 is interesting in that God, by His wisdom, created a world in which He would not save all. Despite that, He is said to love the world.

As God knew beforehand those who would believe in Christ and those who would not, we can ask, “In what sense does God love the world.” One explanation is that world here means “not just the Jew but the gentile also,” the mystery first identified here and then revealed to Paul in Ephesians 3?

If “world” here is taken to mean each and every person, then we have to wonder how God could say that He loved those whom He knew that He would not save.

At lest Calvinists have tried to address the difficulties presented by the verse, even if their solution is probably not the best – Even Owen recognized this but you would not know this from Harwood’s extremely selective citation.

    Steven

    Pretty clear,
    God so loved the world that those believing would have eternal life.
    God gave His Son to save those that believe.
    What a loving God.

      Robert

      Steven completely leaves out the proper meaning of “world” here. It does not mean just the “believing ones”. The referent is broader, it refers to rebellious mankind present when John writes his gospel (and some of those rebellious persons will eventually become believers and some will not, since some of them will not, this means that Jesus in dying for the world, also died for those who will never ever become believers). You can make your dogmatic Calvinistic pronouncements here, but they are obliterated by proper exegesis of the verse especially the term “world”.

        Steven

        Robert pulls the straw man card out of his hat to destroy his opponent.
        Robert says, “Steven completely leaves out the proper meaning of “world” here.”

        My statement, “God so loved the world that those believing would have eternal life”, does not contain any definition of world in it.
        It states, that those, I would have used JEWS AND GENTILES to define WORLD but I chose not to.

          Robert

          Fist I am not as juvenile as you Steven, I don’t post “to destroy his opponent” as you claim. Perhaps this is your hostile and aggressive mentality but it is not mine. As a Calvinist I believe you and your views to be false, but you are NOT AN OPPONENT TO BE DESTROYED. If that is how YOU feel about these kind of discussions you need to repent of your attitude.

          Second, “World” in Jn. 3:16 does not mean Jews and Gentiles as you claim, as has been stated by Tony and is stated by D. A. Carson it means the people who were in rebellion against God when John wrote his gospel. If John meant to say “Jews and Gentiles” then he could have easily stated this, he did not, your reading is eisegesis of the text with the sole intention of defending your false Calvinistic view of limited atonement.

            rhutchin

            “Second, “World” in Jn. 3:16 does not mean Jews and Gentiles as you claim, as has been stated by Tony and is stated by D. A. Carson it means the people who were in rebellion against God when John wrote his gospel.”

            Yet, “it means the people who were in rebellion against God when John wrote his gospel,” would encompass both jews and gentiles and thus the whole world. The key is that God did not send His son just to save the Jews but to save gentiles, also. That is a major theme introduced in John.

            Steven

            Robert, says I am not as juvenile as you Steven, I don’t post “to destroy his opponent”,
            not addressing the strawman:

            Robert diverts from the context of my statement, “Robert pulls the straw man card out of his hat to destroy his opponent”.
            Logical fallacy-strawman

            Robert misrepresented someone’s argument to make it easier to attack. … but this kind of dishonesty serves to undermine honest rational debate.

            Robert then gets all emotional over my use of the words destroy his opponent. It is not ok for my opinion, but ok for Robert to
            misrepresent someones argument when that is all they have. This strawman tactic is prevalent among biblically inconsistent synergists.

            I do not agree with Tony or D. A. Carson, but do agree with Dr. James White proficient exegete and Greek scholar. I agree with John Gills commentary on John 3:16 and kosmos.
            I agree with:
            Frances Turretin, Reformed theologian in Geneva (1623-1687),
            Abraham Kuyper, the Dutch theologian (1837-1920),
            Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952),
            David J. Engelsma David J. Engelsma (b. 1939) is emeritus professor of the Protestant Reformed Seminary in Grand Rapids Michigan.
            The list goes on.

            Revelation 5:9
            And they *sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

            Jews and Gentiles

              Scott Shaver

              Wow.

              Impressive list of theologians. Still…..you ain’t gonna be real comfortable in here :)

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      Steven, you like many other Calvinists continue to raise the goal from 10 feet to Calvin’s measurement. The football field from 100 yards to Calvinism. This theology has traded the deification of the Virgin Mary to making Calvin an holy apostle. Wow!

      Preach!

        Steven

        Dennis, apostles were eye witnesses of Christ, so we are not making John Calvin a holy apostle.

        Secondly, John Calvin was the first to thoroughly exegete the grammer from the Greek texts, not using latin translations as Erasmus did. From the understanding of the grammar John Calvin was able to properly formulate the theology that is revealed in the “Theopneustas,” God breathed, Word of God. The theology is consistent with the entire fabric of scripture and debates between different theological bents have shown this consistency. It was the remonstrants of the Reformation that gave title to John Calvin’s theology as in “Tulip” and the “5 Solas.”

        We do not follow the man, we follow the theology he discerned from God’s Word, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
        We revere John Calvin as a church father.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Steven,

          John Calvin disqualified himself as a church father.

          What John Calvin exegeted from the Scriptures was explained by the Scriptures without any human bias from Calvin and his ilk, the Spirit comparing scripture to Scripture and explaining who Christ is, what He did and who He will judge.

          Steven, you act as though there was no revelation around before John Calvin or any of the reformers.

          The Church didn’t go out of business even when the false Roman doctrinal noose was around much of her neck. There was always a remnant which had the truth ,without this theological bend called Calvinism.

          Preach!

            Steven

            Dennis says, “John Calvin disqualified himself as a church father. ”
            Claim with no documentation to validate.

            The fact is John Calvin brought clarity to the Gospel where Rome had obscured it.

            John Calvin has taken nothing away from the Gospel as you claim.
            In fact your semi- pelagianism put you in Rome’s backyard.

            Here is your historical foundation, Dennis.
            “It was not the Arminian theology that provided the strength and power of the Reformation; it was “reformed or “Calvinistic” theology that called men to stand up for the truth of the gospel against the tyranny of Rome. Modern evangelicals need to recognize that Arminianism is, at its very core, a return to the very principals that the Reformation fought against in the first place! While the outward manifestations might differ, Arminianism and Roman Catholicism stand hand in hand in opposing Gods sovereign grace in salvation! Both place the final decision of the outcome of an individuals life completely in the hands of the man himself, and in so doing, deny God his rightful role as Creator and Sovereign of the Universe. Most of modern evangelicalism does not, in reality, have anything to say to Rome, simply because it has compromised on the central issue of Gods grace!

            Further, since Arminianism is, when taking to its logical conclusions, antithetical to simple Christian theism, those who embrace this system find them self incapable of consistently dealing with the philosophies of man, simply because they have embraced some of the most fundamental concepts of those philosophies rather than accepting the revelation of the sovereign God! In a vain effort to “win” men by seeking to avoid offense, the strong doctrines of God as Creator and Sustainer of the universe are left to the side, and the battle is joined on the home ground of the atheist or secular humanist. The gospel is compromised in the interest of defending it! Such simply ought not to be.
            Dr. James White, aomin.org

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Steven,

          I hear more about the exegesis of John Calvin then the clear rendering of what Christ gave to the Apostle Paul.

          He’s the first to those whom choose to make him first. There are many great theologian who do not reach for the “institute “who are solid expositors.

          I’m well versed in”all” of Church history as most are in here. It’s a requirement.

          Questions of who Christ died for were not answered by Calvin and his followers but the Holy Scriptures.

          He died for all who will be resurrected. For it is written, “Marvel not at this:for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil , unto the resurrection of damnation!

          Listen, He can raise the dead and will, because He died for both and will judge BOTH.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          By the way the Solas especially the “alone ” ,may get the attention of those in Roman Catholism but not fundamental believer’s and solid expositors.

    Don Johnson

    rhutchin – Steven,

    Maybe you could also tell us what John 3:17 means?

      rhutchin

      v 17 tells us that Christ did not come to condemn the world; elsewhere, He says that the law condemns. Is that not true? Does not the law condemn that person who disobeys? How then is a person to scape the condemnation of the law? Is it not through Christ?

      Thus, we have statement of fact in v17-
      1. God did not send Christ to condemn the world (the world being already condemned by the law).
      2. God sent Christ so that the world might be saved (thus a person can be saved from the condemnation of the law).

      As the verse says, “might,” the Universalist gains no support for his position. How a person comes to salvation is then argued between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.

        don Johnson

        rhutchin,

        So Christ came to save those who were condemned. I agree completely. Christ only came and died for those who are condemned by the law. Those who aren’t under the condemnation of the law, Christ did not come to save. Good to see we can agree on something.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          I could care less what universalist think or believe. None of those things move me. What thus saith the scriptures, to the lost, hell deserving, lake of fire doomed sinner, yet here among us, thats our concern before it is eternally to late.

          Preach!

          Rhutchin

          most would agree. So, does Christ come to save all or just some?

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Rhutchin,

            If you truly want the answer to your question I suggest you ask Him since He was the One who suffered bled and died, was raised from the death of deaths
            Ask Him

            Preach!

              rhutchin

              And if we do ask Christ, He says He has not come to save all. As one example, John 3:16, God gave His son only to save those who believe. Elsewhere, Christ cam to save His people, then His church. He says that many will say Lord, Lord to Him and He will reply, I never knew you, so not all would be counted as His people or His church.

                Scott Shaver

                Rhutchin says “And if we ask Christ, He says He has not come to save all”

                Were I to hear that statement from a Southern Baptist pulpit I’m afraid the service would be disupted by the commotion of me bolting at a dead run for the DOOR.

                Christ certainly provided a propitiation for all. Sadly, not all will by faith appropriate it.

                  Rhutchin

                  Whether preached from SBC pulpits of not, the Scriptures are plain. Matthew 20 tells us that Christ gave His life a ransom for “many” rather than all. In Galatians 1, Paul writes, Christ gave Himslef for our (believers) sins. In Ephesains 5, Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Certainly, we should think that Christ knew the purpose for which He took on human form since He was slain from the foundation of the world. If it were true that Christ gave Himself for “all,” then certainly He would have been successful in obtaining that for which He gave Himself.

                    Scott Shaver

                    I choose to attend Baptist churches Rutchin.

                    So your dismissal worded as “baptist or not” eliminates me from the category to which you are appealing your argument.

                    Would not attend a church that follows your theological template. If for no other reason, God’s Word has to mean exactly what YOU say it means.

                    Dennis Lee Dabney

                    Successful, He was.

                    No sinner due to their own hardness of heart, who “chose ” what they loved, which is darkness over Light, who rejected the Word of God, judging themselves unworthy of everlasting life.

                    These Pharisees despised Him, rejected Him and esteemed Him not. I agree, they weren’t sheep because God made them goats.

                    The same way God didn’t create Satan. God did not make him “who” he became.

                    As Dr Rogers would say God does all the savings, man “all” the sinning.

                    The flesh of Christ He gave for the life of the world, His blood more than adequate for the sins of the whole world. Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.

                    Those who perish can never say their sins weren’t atoned for

                    The rich man didn’t say, God made me such, yeah rather he had no one to blame but his own hardness, when he failed to repent at the preaching of the word of God.

                    Preach!

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                Rhutchin,

                You didn’t ask Christ. Rather you reached for the playbook

                Now the answer is found in the Scriptures you reject referencing the “world ” and the “whole world “. However you reject those Scriptures.

                He died for all who will be resurrected.

                For it is written, “Marvel not at this:for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil , unto the resurrection of damnation!

                Listen, He can raise the dead and will, because He died for both and will judge BOTH.

                The reform viewpoint would be true only if He could not raise “All” of the dead. Then we could assume He didn’t die for “All”.

                Wow, it feels wrong just to submit that obsurb notion.

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  The One who said I Am, is the Resurrection and the Life, He’s Israel Messiah, and yes He is the Only All Sufficient Saviour of Whole World.

                  Rhutchin

                  God so loved the world but Christ died for those who would be resurrected. That’s what the Calvinist say, also.

                    Dennis Lee Dabney

                    The elect and those lost will be resurrected because He died for All.

                    rhutchin

                    If Christ had not died, would there be a later resurrection of the dead? Doesn’t seem like there would. It is Christ’s death that then brings about the resurrection of the dead – some to eternal life and some to eternal death. In that context, we can say that Christ died for all in that all are impacted.

                    There is another context for saying that “Christ died for all,” and this involves Christ’s death to redeem God’s elect. In this context, the NT speaks of Christ having died for all – Jew and gentile – to bring God’s elect to salvation as God had always planned to save gentiles and not just the Jews.

                    Dennis Lee Dabney

                    Between the Bema and the White Throne judgment all will appear before Him as Judge of the Quick and Dead. Why, because He died for all. All will be judged by His words and not a theological system of the children of men.

                    rhutchin

                    Christ can be said to have died for all – some for eternal life and some for eternal death – in order to bring about the resurrection of the dead and bring all to judgment. The NT also speaks of Christ having died for all – Jew plus gentile – in order to bring God’s elect to salvation. The NT also speaks of the gospel being preaching to all with the intent being that it be preached to each and every person. The term, “all,” can take on different meanings depending on context.

                    Dennis Lee Dabney

                    He said, “If I be lifted up, speaking of His vicarious death for sin, I will draw all men unto Me .

                    Dead or alive, lost and found, like it or not. That’s just the Way it is. There it is, there you have it.

                    Preach!

                    rhutchin

                    In this verse, “all,” means both Jew and gentile. It was always God’s plan to save gentiles and this is emphasized many times in the NT – particularly in Paul’s letters to the Romans and Ephesians (Chap 3).

                    Dennis Lee Dabney

                    Rhutchin,

                    All will be raised not just the redeemed but also those whom Christ said, would die in their sins.

                    Those who died in their sins wouldn’t believe, it’s was’t a matter that they couldn’t believe or because there was no sacrifice for sins. Like the Pharisees Christ referenced, they refused to obey God by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.

                    rhutchin

                    OK. I don’t see an issue with what you say here. As stated earlier, God has commanded all to repent and believe the gospel. There will be a resurrection for the dead that will involve each and every person who has ever lived and the purpose for that resurrection is to judge each and every person – some receiving eternal life and some eternal death. Had Christ not died, I am not sure that such a resurrection would have been called for.

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    “God has commanded all to repent and believe the Gospel.” When people don’t believe the Gospel, what is it that they don’t believe. It can’t be that God loves them and sent His Son to die for their sins, because Calvinists don’t believe He did. What is the truth they don’t believe?

                    Rhutchin

                    They do not believe that they are accountable to God for their actions and they do not believe that Chist is God or that He was resurrected from the dead, among other things. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthinas, they see the gospel as foolishness.

                    Don Johnson

                    rhutchin,

                    That’s the problem with the Calvinist’s gospel. They make all about the man, and not Christ. The good news is what Christ has already done on everyone’s behalf. Namely He loved them, died for their sins and rose again for their justification. He told His disciples to tell this good news to every creature. What makes it even better Christ asks us to simply believe what He has done for us to be saved.

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Those currently in Hades would say yes, so much so they are more “mission” minded than many in the local new testament churches.

            Preach!

        norm

        Hutch:
        I find your use of “Universalist” to be a pejorative, offensive term aimed at those who reject your opinion regarding these salvific matters. I suspect not a single person on this blog believes that all will ultimately be saved, and we would be grateful if you would not mischaracterize us with that heretical term.
        If you and others of your ilk want something to chew on, please answer this question: “Why did not the Holy Spirit of God inspire the writers of the word ‘cosmos’ to use the word ‘eklektos’ (the called-out/chosen ones) if God wanted to communicate that he loved only the elect?” To date, I have read no attempt to answer this oft’ asked question of mine.

          Scott Shaver

          Norm:

          He’s simply following the red herring playbook that all full-blown disciples of Calvin follow. Get backed into a corner and bring up an angle (straw man) totally unrelated to comments or subject matter in question.

          Have you noticed that most of the questions posed by hyper-Calvinists in this vein are designed to pit human logic against the mind/operation of God in eternity past, thereby reducing all dialogue and counterpoints to the realm of pure human speculation (degrees, academics and classical theological training notwithstanding)?.

          Simple spiritual truth becomes even more obscured by vain human reasoning. The more theology they ingest, the more irrational and biblically off-based they become.

            Paul N

            This!

            Rhutchin

            Just looking for consistency in arguments.

              Scott Shaver

              Might want to look more at the Savior than for consistency in arguments there Rutchin.

              For the sake of argument, you see no consistencies but that of your self-styled determinism.

                rhutchin

                Then Let me revise for the benefit of you and others, “Just looking for consistency in arguments as they are drawn from the Scriptures and purport to find support from the Scriptures.”

                  Scott Shaver

                  Rutchin:

                  The Scriptures (for the purpose of this forum) are made of non-effect by your continual philosophical wrangling and speculation. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

                  In other words…..there’s no power in your proof-texting due to the motivation of your heart.

                  Might as well quote lines from Shakespeare instead of throwing dirt on God’s Word.

          Lydia

          “I find your use of “Universalist” to be a pejorative, offensive term aimed at those who reject your opinion regarding these salvific matters.”

          Thank you. It is a false dichotomy and getting to be ridiculous. But it makes sense in his paradigm which only allows for determinism.

          Rhutchin

          There are two overriding theological positions. Either God says all sorts God saves less than all. For those who take the “God saves less than all” position there is Calvinism and non-Calvinism. Language is unique to all these positions. If one is to take a non-Calvinist position, the language he uses should be consistent with that position. I find some non-Cals using the langauage of the Universalists when they don’t seem to mean that. I point it out to note the confusion.

          As far as the use of Cosmos, I think that such is consistent with one of the major themes of the Scriptures. Coming out of the OT, God is telling us that salvation is not just for the Jew but the gentile,also. God uses cosmos to emphasize this change.

            Scott Shaver

            Rhutchin:

            By what authority do you institute your protocol for use of “language” in theological discussion.

            We add “language” qualifiers now are you saying we must to your treatises on how to properly interpret scripture and the mind of God?

            Tad arrogant for me pal.

              rhutchin

              The language that we use is explaining the Scriptures must agree with that which the Scriptures say. That should be a given.

                Scott Shaver

                Perhaps…..in the world according to “Rutchin”.

            Scott Shaver

            There’s that key disturbing phrase again from Rutchin………..”I Think”

            Lydia

            “. I find some non-Cals using the langauage of the Universalists when they don’t seem to mean that. I point it out to note the confusion.”

            You are reading Universalism into it because your paradigm does not allow for human volition, ability or responsibility. . In order to appease you, one would have to write volumes in each response.

      Steven

      “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. John 3:17
      For God did not send the Son into the Jews and Gentiles to judge the Jews and Gentiles, but that the Jews and Gentiles might be saved through him.

        Don Johnson

        Steven,

        “But that the Jews and Gentiles might be saved through Him.” Since there are only Jews and Gentiles in the world, I assume you believe Christ died for everyone. That’s good, I do as well.

          rhutchin

          Christ died for “everyone” as identified as Jew or gentile. This does not require that Christ die for everyone as defined as each and every individual.

          Steven

          Don, I appreciate your post, and I love you like a brother, but I have to look at the context, and that is in John 3:16, the believing ones would have eternal life.If you look at Titus 2:14, what does it say?

          who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14.
          Look here in John 10:11
          I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.
          Scripture does not allow for a universal atonement.
          God bless.

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Steven,

            So, what did you do with 1John 2:1-2, reject the divine exegesis of the Spirit of Christ who has answered this question for the early Church and the rest of us?

            There is a severe penalty for adding or taking from the Holy Scriptures as you well know.

            Preach!

              Steven

              Dennis, Scripture interprets Scripture, reconciling verses against corresponding verses.
              No adding or taking from

              Romans 9:23,24
              And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

              2 Timothy 2:10
              For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.

              1 John 2:1,2
              My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.(World> Jews and Gentiles)

        Dennis Lee Dabney

        Steven,

        So explain why Christ must judge those who counted themselves unworthy of everlasting life when He judges them from the Word He spoke, when the dead appear at the Great White Throne judgment.

Dennis Lee Dabney

The judgment of Satan, the Beast and False prophet fit the offense committed.That is rebellion against the only true God who sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners . The fallen angels and yes the children of men. They all have one thing in common. All of the above are rewarded for their rebellion against God without regard of His judgment. Calvinism cannot even hold the elementary teaching of the doctrine of Christ which result in eternal judgment for all REBELS.

Preach!

Dennis Lee Dabney

Christ wept over Jerusalem, those in His words, who would not. More tears in the garden. Now I suggest we exegete the tears to see if they were shed just short of those who would not obey the gospel.

Listen the whole world was guilty before God without remedy so much so every mouth should have been stopped and all guilty before Him.

Let me put like this with reverence. He died for who He cried for.

Preach!

    rhutchin

    So says the Universalist. Christ died for those he cried for and He saved them by going to the cross. If not, Christ cried for show and died to save those He would not save.

      Don Johnson

      rhutchin,

      So why did Jesus weep?

        volfan007

        Ezekiel 33:8 When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his perversity and iniquity, but his blood will I require at your hand.
        9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his evil way and he does not turn from his evil way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
        10 And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: Truly our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?
        11 Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

        This verse sure does sound like God really wants to save people…even those who refuse to repent…

          Rhutchin

          I think most would agree with you. The question then is whether God wants to save all (Universalism) or some (Calvinism)?

            Steven

            This is the synergist’s primary goal.
            That Jesus came to atone for all, by giving a common grace where they derive their unregenerate faith. Then some, with that common faith are able discern and believe in the Word of God, seek God and trust in Jesus Christ as their savior. All this prior to regeneration. Present those Scriptures that show evidence of a prevenient grace as to what this common grace speaks of.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              Steven,

              Despiseth thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering ; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

              Preach!

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

              13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

              14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

              15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

              Preach!

                rhutchin

                Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

                The Universalist says that Jesus will save all sinners; the Calvinist says that Jesus will save not save all sinners.

                What do you say?

                  Lydia

                  “Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

                  The Universalist says that Jesus will save all sinners; the Calvinist says that Jesus will save not save all sinners.

                  What do you say?”

                  That it makes no sense. According to your religion they had already been chosen by God before the world was created– so Jesus was not really needed.

                    rhutchin

                    That’s deflection and avoiding the question. But we know why you don’t want to answer don’t we – you agree with the Calvinists – don’t you?

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Rhutchin,

                  Why don’t you lay the blame at the feet of those who will not be saved rather than blaming God for their disobedience and rebellion.

                  He said, Repent or perish!
                  As Lydia said, what He commanded them to do, thats the least they could have done. That’s what the Sovereign required of them, yea rather, of all of the children of men.

                  So what do you suggest they say at the White Throne judgment , “the reason I failed to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ was because you didn’t elect me”. Wrong answer !

                  Listen, all theological questions will be answered immediately, the moment we all go the way of all the earth.

                  Preach!

                    rhutchin

                    The heart of the lost will be revealed at the judgment. They did what they wanted and wanted nothing to do with God. Their only hope was that would save them, but they hated God and could care less that He did not save them.

        Rhutchin

        Jesus wept because Jerusalem would not allow her children to hear of hIm. So, the question seems to be, Who is Jerusalem and who are her children? What do you say?

      Lydia

      “If not, Christ cried for show and died to save those He would not save.”

      And I guess it was for show Christ said, “Repent and believe” to groups knowing that the elect had already been chosen before the world was created. Why would He tell these crowds to do something He knew many of them were “unable” to do? For show?

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      That’s what makes the second death, the lake of fire, justice on God’s part for all who reject His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ the only all sufficient Saviour.

        rhutchin

        So, there should be no complaints if God chooses to save some who otherwise would incur the second death.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Listen my complaint is not with God but with this system in which Calvin has come to know is false.

          Dennis Lee Dabney

          Rhutchin,

          How is possible for those born again to exalt the teaching of one who had his hand in the murder of those who opposed his so-called theology?

          Preach!

            Rhutchin

            We exalt the Scriptures. To the extent that Calvin unsterstood and explained the Scriptures accurately, we use him as a resource.

              Dennis Lee Dabney

              When you minimize Christ to exalt this dogma and those who Calvin hated, a dis-service is committed against the holy Scriptures. He was the enemy of the Baptists of his day.

              Exalt Christ!

                rhutchin

                Calvinists exalt Christ as the true and living God who is Omniscient, omnipotent, all wise, and who exercises absolute sovereignty over His creation. If one does not understand who Christ is, he cannot make sense of Calvinism.

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Who died to make Calvin or his doctrine an authority in the blood bought Church of our Lord Jesus Christ?

                    Scott Shaver

                    Excellent question Dennis!

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  No Rhutchin, the truth is ,in your camp, you must embrace and understand Calvin and use his teaching augmented by those who made his doctrine the so called reformed position. It’s not about Christ but Calvin ,not about sound doctrine, but a new doctrine which was not given to the apostles by the Lord Jesus Christ. We reject the twisting and perverting of the holy Scriptures to magnify a questionable teacher and those who hijacked his teaching to gain a following after themselves.

                  Preach!

                    Rhutchin

                    Not exactly. I think Les had the same experience I do. WE both studied the Scriptures and came to certain conclusions that we then found to be consistent with that which Calvin, Edwards, Owen, Sproul also has discovered and taught. For us, it is all about Christ and what Christ teaches us in the Scriptures. Whether we are twisting and perverting the Scriptures is open to debate – we do not think we are doing so and are seeking, through careful study, not to do so.

                  Don Johnson

                  rhutchin,

                  “if one does not understand who Christ is, he cannot make sense of Calvinism.” The truth comes out. Only Calvinists can be Christians, because only Calvinists understand who Christ is.

                    Rhutchin

                    Anyone can come to understand the attributes of Christ – His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, wisdom. Having done that, a person can then start to investigate Calvinism to see if it holds Christ supreme.

              Scott Shaver

              Rutchin: “We use Calvin as a resource”

              Yes…… a pry bar.

                Dennis Lee Dabney

                They could do better than that!

Dennis Lee Dabney

For Heaven sake, our Lord wept over sinners there in Jerusalem. These were not tears of joy by the way.He wept in the garden on His way to the cross. Now to suppose He did not have all sinners in view at His death is to remove what His tears meant. Read the tears, exegete the eyes of the one in which we all have to do.

He poured out His heart through the windows of His soul for those also who in His words, ‘would not ‘. Would not what? Obey God in response to the gospel. For according to God the whole world was guilty without remedy or even words. So much so every mouth should be stopped.

Preach!

Dennis Lee Dabney

Beloved, let me set it up like this. When this poor preacher looks out over this old world, lost in darkness , twice dead in trespasses and sins. When this poor preacher, which I would not walk across the road to hear , looks out over this old which is ripening for the white hot wrath of God Almighty. Even this old sinner saved by grace, when he looks at the lost, through the eyes of His holy scriptures , even I, the former enemy of God, cry over this world, over all nations to whom we are commanded in love , to reach with the everlasting gospel of God.

Andrew Barker

Tony Byrne: “Moderate Calvinists in position #4 can affirm a sense of universal “salvific love” if that means that God loves all so as to desire their salvation, even with a “redemptive love” in that Christ satisfied for the sins of all, but they do not think this necessitates an EQUAL love for all in God, such that He EQUALLY INTENDS to effect the salvation of all men.”

I think there is a mistake here regarding the portrayal of God’s intentions. Just because God intends to save all does not mean that all will be saved. Wrong assumptions have been made as to what God intends and indeed what God is able to do. If you make wrong assumptions, you are by definition going reach the wrong conclusions.

To believe that God can do anything he wants is rather naïve and fails to take account of all aspects of God’s character. In the context of this discussion, God cannot overlook sin which must be dealt with correctly. The atonement was the way in which God dealt with sin and provided salvation. It would be true to say that God had no other options available to him. Certainly there are none that we know about. Jesus himself asked God if there was “another way” but ended with “not my will but yours be done”. Do you think that God was holding back on Jesus and that he had other options up his sleeve?

The same can be argued regarding the extent of salvation. If it were possible for God to save everybody regardless, do you not think that this would have been God’s preferred option? Indeed there are people who believe that God will save everybody. But this is not the generally held view. The Reformed view on salvation is that it is God who chooses. He elects those who will respond in faith. But this places God in an invidious position, does it not? What is the basis of God’s choice? The answer we get from Reformed theology is that God chooses according to his good pleasure. There is no scripture to confirm this, it is a philosophical conclusion or as some might put it a mystery. Like it or not, this places a question mark against God’s character. He could have chosen to elect more, at his good pleasure, but he chose not to do this. It goes against our natural sense of justice and simply quoting either “shall not the judge of all the world do right”, or “who are you to answer God” doesn’t really cut much ice does it!

The Biblical position (IMO) is that God is both able and willing to save those who come to him in faith. This takes account of the extent of God’s will, in that God wills all to be saved but it also takes account of the character and nature of God. God is justified in saving those who come to him in faith. 1 John1:9

By limiting the intent of God to saving just the elect, Reformed theology shows a distinct similarity to Universalism. In both cases God makes the choice according to his good pleasure. The only practical difference is that in Universalism, God saves everybody whereas in Reformed theology God saves a minority!

    rhutchin

    “Just because God intends to save all does not mean that all will be saved. ”

    Words have meaning. If God “intends” to save all, then He will save all and all will be saved. – else God did not “intend” to save all. If God merely provides the mens whereby a person can be saved, then this does not mean that all will be saved. Thus, the importance to determine God’s “intent” with regard to salvation.

      rhutchin

      “If God merely provides the means…” Still looking for the edit function with no success.

      Don Johnson

      rhutchin,

      Is it then safe to assume Jesus didn’t really “intend” to gather thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings. If as you say, He really “intended” to gather, He would have done so.

        rhutchin

        Christ expresses His intent as conditional: He would have gathered up Jerusalem’s children but Jerusalem was not willing. Still for you to tell us is to whom you think Christ was referring when He said, “Jerusalem,” and the who would we identify as Jerusalem’s children. Any ideas on that?

          Don Johnson

          rhutchin,

          Jerusalem would have referred to the apostate Judaism of the city. The children would have referred to the people of the city. Just curious why didn’t Jesus just regenerate them and give them faith to believe? Is it maybe cause faith precedes regeneration?

          Scott Shaver

          Wait a minute.

          Both Rutchin and Les have been declaring “no personal autonomy”.

          Yet here, Rutchin writes “But Jerusalem was not willing”.

          To be consistent with the “non-autonomy” position, wouldn’t it be more consistent with what you claim to believe to say that
          God sent a deceiving spirit into their hearts which caused them to be “unwilling”. After all, in your line of thinking, they were damned from eternity past and God guides their steps, both good and evil, for His glory?

          Your inconsistency is a little confusing.

            Rhutchin

            Automony carries the idea of independence. To say that man is autonomous with respect to God would have man being independent of God and outside God’s control. No person can be autonomous with respect to God – given that God is sovereign, that is impossible.

            God can still allow people to act freely within His sphere of influence. In the non-autonomous position, a person chooses according to his desires – consistent with his deceitful heart and corrupt nature that is ruled by sin. There is no need for God to send a deceiving spirit – except as God allows Satan to carry out his mischief as Satan wanders the world seeking whom he may devour and destroy.

            There is no inconsistency in the Calvinist position but perhaps, just lack of knowledge of Calvinism on your part.

              Scott Shaver

              Correction Rutchin:

              In this particular thread the word “Autonomy” has been assigned the responsibility of “carrying” whatever definition you and Les decide it needs given the course of conversation.

              Scott Shaver

              In that case Rutchin:

              I praise God that in His foreknowledge, omniscience, and eternal decree he saw fit, in directing the steps of my life (both good and wicked), to keep me ignorant about the useless mouse-wheel of hyper-Calvinism :0

              Are we on the same theological page now brother?

      Dennis Lee Dabney

      The answer to this statement is explained by God’s judgement.The same was true in the days of Noah. God provided a means of salvation and those God haters rejected such a great salvation, which happen to be the only salvation . Noah preached 120 years to that stiff neck uncircumcised crowd, and they derided him and they laughed at him and eight souls were saved . These souls were not saved because they were the only ones to hear the preaching of righteousness . These souls were saved because they obeyed the preaching of righteousness by faith which came by hearing, hearing by the word of God.

      Now, the second death, the lake of fire, outer darkness is fitting for all who freely choose hell rather than eternal life when they refused to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and receive life. When they reject the love of God the Father. When they resist the convicting of the Holy Ghost of sin, of righteousness, of judgment.

      So there it is. There you have it.

      PreachBlackManPreach!

        rhutchin

        And of course, all people, like those of Noah’s day reject the gospel and only those are saved whom God draws to Christ. People have not changed since the time of Noah.

      Scott Shaver

      Rutchin:

      “If God intends to save all, then all will be saved.”

      Don’t think God, according to scripture, ever conveyed that mistatement. The express radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of His being was not willing that any should perish and did not limit in his propitiation the number in whom by faith that procured salvation would be made manifest.

      Way off base IMO.

        Rhutchin

        If God is not willing that any perish, then obviously, none will perish.

    rhutchin

    “The Reformed view on salvation is that it is God who chooses. He elects those who will respond in faith.”

    Not exactly. God elects (chooses) those to whom He will impart faith – faith is a gift. The person then naturally exercises that faith unto salvation.

      Andrew Barker

      “Rhutchin 11-08-2015, 15:42
      I think most would agree with you. The question then is whether God wants to save all (Universalism) or some (Calvinism)?”

      I agree with your statement confirming the similarities between Universalism and Calvinism.

        rhutchin

        Universalism and Calvinism are the same in that both have God directly saving people. They differ in that Universalism says that God saves all people and Calvinism says that God saves some number less than all. Thus, these two are the major theological divides. After that, we get the divisions concerning how God saves some number less than all – Calvinism and non-Calvinism (and then the divisions among the non-Calvinists).

      Scott Shaver

      Again, many here not only reject, but detest the “Reformed View”.

      What else you got?

        Dennis Lee Dabney

        Exactly Scott , the apostle Paul had a great deal to say about the doctrine which would come after his departure.

          Scott Shaver

          Thanks Dennis:

          You just sparked a desire to go back and study those particular passages/warnings about subsequent teaching following Christ and the disciples.

          Great point.

            Dennis Lee Dabney

            Hey Scott,

            I’m on my way there too!

            Thanks

      Andrew Barker

      rhutchin: “Not exactly. God elects (chooses) those to whom He will impart faith – faith is a gift. The person then naturally exercises that faith unto salvation”.

      Please explain to us how the above statement differs from the statement that “it is God who chooses and elects those who will respond in faith?” Apart from the fact that faith is not a gift, but you know that because we’ve been over that one times and time before.

        rhutchin

        When you say ““it is God who chooses and elects those who will respond in faith?,” did you mean that they would respond with the faith that God gives to them or that they respond with an inherent faith that they have by birth which is dead but regenerated by the preaching of the gospel. In the first case, all to whom God gives faith exercise that faith to salvation. In the second case, those who advocate it say that some exercise that faith to salvation and some do not but how that happens is a mystery. This is a case where people use the same terminology, but can mean very different things. Did I misinterpret the meaning that you give it – by assuming you would not give it the Calvinist meaning?

        According top Ephesians 2, faith is a gift.

          Don Johnson

          rhutchin,

          No, according to Eph. 2 salvation is a gift. Faith is not something given to one after they are regenerated. Faith is used over two hundred times in the Bible. If as Calvinists teach that faith is a gift from God given to those who are regenerated, then there must be dozens of instances where this is shown or taught. So I’m sure you can easily list a number of them without much difficulty. Jesus used the word faith many times and we know He would not share His glory with anyone else. So if you might also please list some of texts where Jesus said or inferred a person’s faith was a gift from God.

            Steven

            FAITH IS A GIFT

            Acts 13:48
            And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

            Acts 18:27
            And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:

            Philippians 1:29
            For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

            Galatians 5:5
            For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.

            1Timothy 1:14
            And the grace of our Lord God was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

            I Peter 1:5
            who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

            2 Peter 1:1
            Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

              Don Johnson

              Steven,

              Thank you for listing some verses. Which one(s) state faith is a gift given to an unbeliever. Please explain.

                Scott Shaver

                My question exactly Don:

                Wasted list of verses if we’re looking for “faith as a gift”.

                  Steven

                  Scott, what does “this” in Ephesians 2:8 refer to?
                  Scott says, “Wasted list of verses if we’re looking for “faith as a gift”.
                  It is right there, do not you see it?

                Steven

                In Romans10:10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

                What kind of heart can believe? An unregenerate heart?

                Ezekiel 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

                This is regeneration, and receiving, coming, faith, believing cannot be possible until regeneration occurs.

                  Don Johnson

                  Steven,

                  As I previously stated there are no texts in the Bible where regeneration comes before faith. There are several that show faith precedes regeneration, but none that have it the other way around. It’s interesting you use one of James White’s favorite verses Ezk. 36:26. What makes it interesting is that it actually teaches faith precedes regeneration. It’s true vs 26 speaks of regeneration.However, what you and Mr. White always does,is forget to mention the preceding verse, vs 25.

                  “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean;from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”

                  Now please note the order. One is first cleansed and then a new heart is given. For us non-Calvinists we believe a person must repent and believe in order to be cleansed of sins (Acts 3:19). Now if this is true, Ezk. 36:25-26 clearly would teach faith precedes regeneration, because faith precedes cleansing and cleansing precedes regeneration…

                    Steven

                    Don, the problem is where is faith enabled in,
                    “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean;from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.”

                    Romans 10:10 clearly differentiates where faith> believe comes from,

                    for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
                    This occurs in Ezekiel 36:26, so faith cannot possibly occur prior to this action.

                    Don Johnson

                    Steven,

                    You’re the one who brought up Ezk. 36:26. Now please explain how you get regeneration before faith, when you consider the verse within it’s context. Which is verse 25 & 26. I understand why you only want to use verse 26, but please use both 25 & 26 with your exegesis.

                    Rhutchin

                    In Acts 3, Peter commands the people, “Repent and be converted.” The result is that some obey that command unto salvation and others do not. What explains the different responses to Peter? God’s work on the person’s heart is one explanation. Is there another?

                  Scott Shaver

                  Sorry…..nothing there either in those verses about “faith as a gift”.

                  Dennis Lee Dabney

                  Steven,
                  Not,

                  One cannot arrive at such a Sciptural resolution.

                  The Lord Jesus answered this question in Mark 4:20.
                  The Sower and the Seed clearly gives the condition of the sinners heart before regeneration.Sinners genuinely converted received the “Seed ” in this fashion. For it is written, And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the Word, receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.

                  A willing heart is the difference between an unwilling heart.

                  Listen, before there can be a change of heart toward God there must be a change of mind toward sin and who the Lord Jesus Christ is.

                  Preach!

                    rhutchin

                    Those who heard the parable would have known that soil exists naturally in the first three states identified by Jesus – they are illustrations of the world. The fourth soil – good soil – would have to be prepared beforehand by someone in order to receive the seeds. This reinforces that which Jesus taught elsewhere – that God is the one who prepares good soil for His elect, God gives His elect to Christ, God draws His elect to Christ.

                Rhutchin

                We know from 2 Thess that all do not have faith and from Romans that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. So, we should all agree that “faith” is not something inherent to the individual.

                We might also agree that faith is belief in Christ. In the verses cited by Steven we read of those who “believed through grace,” “who were granted, for Christ’s sake, to believe.” Peter writes of who have received a faith and that they are protected by the power of God through faith. Paul also writes that it is God who has begun a good work in us. Ephesians has that we are saved by grace through faith and that this is a gift.

                From all these verses, we cannot avoid the conclusion that faith is intrininsically linked to that which God is actively involved with. The question is whether faith is a gift from God. In the general sense, it is if only because it is His word that is the source of faith in a person. Additionally, if It Is God who begins a good work in the believer, then God certainly lays the groundwork for faith without which it would not appear. Since God protects believers through faith, God would certainly make certain that believers have this faith.

                The conclusion of many is that faith is a gift from God. If not, it is so closely tied to God and His plans for believers that it is a certainty and if God makes faith certain in the believer, there seems little to distinguish it from a gift.

                If faith is not a gift from God, then what is it considering God’s use of it?

                  Don Johnson

                  rhutchin,

                  I think we’re well aware that not everyone has faith. Every person before they were saved did not have faith. What the text doesn’t say is some people “are not given faith..”

                    rhutchin

                    Everyone who has faith expresses that faith in obedience to God (Hebrews 11). People who continue in disobedience do not, and cannot, have faith.

                  Les Prouty

                  Don,

                  You say, “I think we’re well aware that not everyone has faith.”

                  So from where does the saving faith come for those who exercise it? Or do you say some have it inherently and others don’t? Can you clarify?

                    Don Johnson

                    Les,

                    Everyone has faith of some sort. Every time we sit, walk, drive, eat and even sleep is by faith. Paul of course was speaking of saving faith, which most people don’t have. Everyone can have saving faith after they hear the Gospel. The more exposure to the Gospel the better the odds of one having faith. The Holy Spirit gives conviction of sins, but does not give faith.The faith is the person’s Hab. 2:4, Matt. 15:28, Rom. 4:5 etc. So why don’t more people have faith? There are several reasons. First of all they don’t hear a Spirit filled presentation of the Gospel. When there is Spirit filled preaching or teaching there is always a reaction, though not always positive. Acts 7 is an example.Some of the other reasons are pride Matt. 23:12, trusting in riches Mk 10:24, intellect, power or position 1 Cor. 1:26, love darkness John 3:19, lovers of pleasure 2 Tim. 3:4. Ever wonder why you don’t see many rich saved people. Does God have something against those who are rich. if He did that would be conditional election. The problem is the rich have something against God, that being they think they don’t need Him. They have faith but it’s in themselves and their money. Which is why few are saved Mk 10:25. They like everyone else choose where to put their faith Josh. 24:15. It would seem most don’t choose Christ.

                  Les Prouty

                  Don,

                  “Everyone can have saving faith after they hear the Gospel. The more exposure to the Gospel the better the odds of one having faith.”

                  First, speaking of “odds” when we are talking about saving faith seems out of place. People are not saved by better “odds.” I don’t think you meant to convey that though.

                  Still, you say, “Everyone can have saving faith after they hear the Gospel.” But, you do not say where this faith comes from. First you say that not all have faith. Now you say that all do have faith and then describe it as what we all call temporal faith, not saving faith. Then you rightly say that Paul was talking about saving faith.

                  And now you say hat everyone can have saving faith (which you acknowledge that no one has until after they hear Spirit filled preaching.

                  So, when people who do not have saving faith hear Spirit filled preaching and then have faith, where does that saving faith come from. You still have not answered the question. We Reformed say that saving faith is a gift from God. You say it is not. You say that salvation is a gift, but not faith. So, where does this saving faith come from if as you say everyone can have it after hearing Spirit filled preaching?

                  Have a blessed day.

                    Don Johnson

                    Les,

                    If a person has faith (whether saved or lost) that the sun will come up tomorrow, where does that faith come from? If a child has faith in Santa Claus, where does that faith come from?

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: “You say that salvation is a gift, but not faith” You won’t hear that from me! Salvation (of itself) is NOT a gift. God never gives salvation to anybody just like that! No scriptural support whatsoever. :)

                    rhutchin

                    Ephesans 2 is pretty specific:

                    Even when we were dead in sins, God quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;ou

                  Les Prouty

                  Don, I asked you a question. “So, when people who do not have saving faith hear Spirit filled preaching and then have faith, where does that saving faith come from.”

                  You answer with questions. i.e. you do not answer my question. I get that you are avoiding my question. You simply don’t have an answer. I’ll leave it at this, and no offense intended brother…if you will not answer my question (So, when people who do not have saving faith hear Spirit filled preaching and then have faith, where does that saving faith come from) then we are apparently done on this part of the thread. But you are rather exposed for refusing to even try to answer.

                  God bless brother.

                    Don Johnson

                    Les,

                    That’s good. I’m exposed for not answering you, but you’re not exposed for not answering me. However, to answer you. The faith comes from the individual himself. Based on the evidence available to him. Which is why Jesus could say to His disciples “how is it that ye have no faith”? Did Jesus forget that in order for them to have faith, He must give it to them? Or maybe Jesus didn’t really understand Calvinism. Or it just possible He expected them to have faith based on the evidence?

                  Les Prouty

                  Don,

                  “The faith comes from the individual himself.”

                  But earlier you said the individual didn’t have saving faith. So where did it come from when he heard the Spirit filled gospel presentation? Did it “poof” just appear in him? Did God put in him?

                  You still have not answered the question brother. That much is obvious.

                    Don Johnson

                    Les,

                    I answered the question. Again it comes from the individual. I can’t help but notice you didn’t answer me. Instead you ask more questions. I don’t mind answering your questions, but this needs to be a two way street. And no, God didn’t put it in him.

                    Robert

                    Just perused the exchange between Les and Don and Les’ comment here is hilarious:

                    “But earlier you said the individual didn’t have saving faith. So where did it come from when he heard the Spirit filled gospel presentation? Did it “poof” just appear in him? Did God put in him?”

                    Well if Don believed that regeneration precedes and produces faith, then Yes it “poof” just appeared in him, then Yes “God put [it] in him”. Faith is not some thing that is placed in us like a microchip.

                    Most of us reject the false doctrine that regeneration precedes faith believing that the preconversion work of the Spirit is what develops faith in us. And we believe this because we have had firsthand experience of this work of the Spirit. Faith is not something you are instantly zapped with, it develops over time. Faith means trusting in something or someone.

                    Most of us, when we were nonbelievers trusted in ourselves, our faith was misplaced. As we were “playing God” in our rebellion against the true God, we acted and believed as if WE were the ultimate criteria of truth, so whatever we accepted as truth was truth, no one told us what to say, do or think! We decided right and wrong ourselves. And we were lost and separated from God.

                    Then the Spirit began to work in our hearts. He began convicting us of our sin. He began revealing who Jesus is (God in the flesh, not just a good man, not just a prophet). He began revealing the way of salvation (that we cannot save ourselves through our own works, but we must trust that God alone can save us through the cross of Christ). He began illuminating scripture for us (before we could care less about the Bible, now we were being exposed to Bible verses and the Spirit was giving us understanding of what the verses mean, verses like “believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved”). The Spirit was enabling us to have faith through all of these things. Without them we did not know that Jesus was the only way to be saved, that we needed to repent of our sin, follow Jesus as Master, etc. etc. It is through these very direct and personal experiences that we ended up in a place where we could choose to trust in Christ. It wasn’t the pixie dust of “irresistible grace” nor was it us being regenerated first and this regeneration then producing faith in us: No, it was the personal work of the Spirit in our hearts.

                    Where does saving faith come from? From the preconversion work of the Spirit in our hearts and minds.

                    Can He be resisted? Yes, some of us resisted longer than others, others are still resisting what the Spirit did in their hearts. But none of us comes on our own, none of us has the capacity to trust in Jesus unless the Spirit worked in us first. And the Spirit works in conjunction with the Word that He inspired. This is why people who are in the process of having faith developed in them by the Spirit become believers when hearing biblical sermons or attending biblical Bible studies or when they start attending church meetings and hear the Word. Or they start reading the Word for themselves and who is giving them understanding of the Word? Who is revealing Christ to them through the Word? People love to talk about Jesus and his work, they also love to speak of the Father sending Jesus to the world to die for the sins of the world. The Spirit is also God and His preconversion work in us is just as important in the process of our becoming saved persons.

                  Les Prouty

                  Don,

                  “I answered the question. Again it comes from the individual. I can’t help but notice you didn’t answer me. Instead you ask more questions. I don’t mind answering your questions, but this needs to be a two way street. And no, God didn’t put it in him.”

                  Have to on some level admire you for finally admitting that man comes to the table with faith. Bob gets close when he says that God develops faith in the sinner. He is still sticking with you on the false doctrine of faith preceding the new birth. But at least he comes close to recognizing that saving faith comes from a work of God, even if he won’t call it a gift.

                  Your question…”If a person has faith (whether saved or lost) that the sun will come up tomorrow, where does that faith come from? If a child has faith in Santa Claus, where does that faith come from?”

                  Temporal faith, like believing in temporal things such as that a chair will hold you up if you sit in it or that Geo Washington was our first president come from ourselves. Of course the objects of those kinds of faith are not 100% trustworthy.

                  Saving faith does not come from within ourselves. Even Bob gets close to getting that correct.

                    Lydia

                    “ell if Don believed that regeneration precedes and produces faith, then Yes it “poof” just appeared in him, then Yes “God put [it] in him”. Faith is not some thing that is placed in us like a microchip.”

                    Robert,

                    So, God finally activates the microchip to go “poof” that He planted in the randomly chosen ones before He created the world. :o) Perhaps the damned left over don’t get a microchip?

                    Great analogy as that system seems very robotic to me.

                    Don Johnson

                    Les,

                    The arguing with a Calvinist is like arguing with a Romanist. Much of what they believe is not in the Bible. And neither group has any problem with changing the meaning of words to fit their theology. Catholics get their orders from Rome. Calvinists at least in your case get their marching orders from the WCF. For instance you write “He is still sticking with you on the false doctrine of faith preceding the new birth.” Now we’ve been through this before and you know the Bible teaches faith precedes the new birth. But the WCF has it the other way around. So which do you believe? Well you’ve let it known that after 30 years of following the WCF, you’re not about change now. At least Steven tried to offer Biblical proof, only to have it backfire on him. If you believe you have some Scriptural support for the notion that regeneration precedes faith by all means present it. I’m eagerly awaiting your textual support of your “true doctrine.”

                  Les Prouty

                  Andrew writes: “You won’t hear that from me! Salvation (of itself) is NOT a gift. God never gives salvation to anybody just like that! No scriptural support whatsoever. :)”

                  Just when I think I’ve seen it all from a professing believer…then this.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: Your ignorance is only confirmed by the lack of substance in your reply. You say “I’ve seen it all” Brother, you ain’t seen nothing yet! At least that’s how it appears. I do wonder how you manage to say so much of little consequence. Years of practice is my guess. :)

                    BTW I will reply to Steven later so no further comment necessary on this. He too seems to have swallowed some Greek grammar which has got stuck and is repeating on him. Blessings all :)

                  Les Prouty

                  Andrew,

                  You say, “Les: Your ignorance is only confirmed by the lack of substance in your reply. You say…..”

                  Several things in response.

                  1. Earlier you attributed to me this: “Les: “You say that salvation is a gift, but not faith”” I don’t think I said that and if I wrote that it was a mistake in typing. I believe that salvation is a gift from God. I believe that faith is a gift from God.

                  2. You say, “Your ignorance is only confirmed by the lack of substance in your reply. You say …”

                  If me being considered ignorant by you because I disagree with your assertion that salvation is not a gift, please continue to count me (along with all other orthodox Christians) ignorant in your eyes.

                  3. I’ll reply specifically to your challenge to show a verse that says explicitly that “salvation is a gift” when you trot one out that says explicitly “man has libertarian free will.”

                  And when your other non Calvinists friends here weigh in agreeing with you that salvation is not a gift from God.

                  Until then, many blessings.

                    Andrew Barker

                    Les: This is classic Les. The casual reader who doesn’t know you better might think I’ve called you ignorant because we disagree over a bit of theology! LOL But that isn’t what I said is it!

                    I said your ignorance is confirmed only by the lack of substance in your reply. I rest my case.

                  Les Prouty

                  So Robert and Lydia agree with Don. Ok, got it. Do you two also agree with Andrew that salvation is not a gift from God?

                    Scott Shaver

                    Sleeper-cell salvation a “gift”?

                    Is this theology or a lost episode of 24?

                    Lydia

                    “So Robert and Lydia agree with Don. Ok, got it. Do you two also agree with Andrew that salvation is not a gift from God?”

                    This is why I find you rather creepy and untrustworthy, Les. You use the tactics of the Chinese re-education camps during the Cultural Revolution. They had “ruling elders”, too. :o).

                    Where exactly did I make the above clear to you?. Specifically? Actually, I do not believe “faith” is a gift. Salvation is a free gift that we choose or not. I do not believe in the determinist version of salvation/faith. Humans are sort of a moot point in that construct.

                    But WE have to have faith. I do not believe God forces the gift on us. He expects us to practice faith and seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in doing so. I also do not think there is one size fits all in responses to the Good News.

                  Les Prouty

                  Andrew,

                  “The casual reader who doesn’t know you better might think I’ve called you ignorant because we disagree over a bit of theology!”

                  It may be a distinction without a difference anyway. But I did not mean it to read like you were calling me “ignorant” as in calling me a name. Only meant it as in, if my ignorance is showing to you on a subject, then I am ignorant (in your eyes) on that subject. That’s all.

                  Les Prouty

                  Lydia,

                  “This is why I find you rather creepy and untrustworthy, Les. You use the tactics of the Chinese re-education camps during the Cultural Revolution. They had “ruling elders”, too. :o).”

                  Creepy now. That’s a first. But I am a Ruling Elder (Cap the first letters preferable). :)

                  “I do not believe “faith” is a gift.”

                  We disagree on this one.

                  “Salvation is a free gift that we choose or not.”

                  We agree on this one.

                  “I do not believe in the determinist version of salvation/faith. Humans are sort of a moot point in that construct.”

                  Depends on how you are defining determinism. Like you are wont to say, “Definitions are important.”

                  “But WE have to have faith. I do not believe God forces the gift on us.”

                  Agree here too.

                  Les Prouty

                  Don,

                  “The arguing with a Calvinist is like arguing with a Romanist. Much of what they believe is not in the Bible. And neither group has any problem with changing the meaning of words to fit their theology. Catholics get their orders from Rome.”

                  You guys just cannot help yourselves.

                  “Calvinists at least in your case get their marching orders from the WCF.” Nope. My standard is the scriptures and my confession (the WCF) is subordinate to the scriptures.

                  “For instance you write “He is still sticking with you on the false doctrine of faith preceding the new birth.” Now we’ve been through this before and you know the Bible teaches faith precedes the new birth.”

                  Yes we have. And no it doesn’t.

                  “If you believe you have some Scriptural support for the notion that regeneration precedes faith by all means present it. I’m eagerly awaiting your textual support of your “true doctrine.””

                  Don, we’ve already (as you said) been there and done that. I’m not interested in rehashing the same argument with you on this. But thanks anyway.

                    Don Johnson

                    Les,

                    Had a feeling you might say that. Whatever else might be said of you, I believe you just showed good judgement.

            Andrew Barker

            Don: You’re going to be a long time waiting for that. Do a Bible search and you’ll find faith and gift occur in 5 verses only, (NASB) In 1 Cor faith is obviously a gift of the spirit given to people who are already ‘saved’ so it’s no talking about salvation. The other refs also do not apply.

            There is no scriptural support for Faith as a gift from God. I don’t know why people keep quoting Eph 2 other than they have to support their preconceived ideas and it fits how they want to arrange their theology.

              Steven

              Andrew says, There is no scriptural support for Faith as a gift from God.

              Andrew, What does “this” refer to in Ephesians 2:8?

                Andrew Barker

                ‘Salvation through faith’ is the gift. It’s been covered time and time again. :)

                  Rhutchin

                  Salvation is by grace; it is not necessary for Paul to use the redundancy by describing it as a gift as grace speaks for itself.

                  Salvation by grace through faith compels the notation – not of yourselves; is a gift – then, not of works lest one boast which some seem prone to do or Paul would not have wrote as he did.

              Scott Shaver

              Andrew:

              Perhaps the idea of “faith as a gift” might be traced to an old Tim Shepherd song from 30+ years ago. Think there was line in popular Christian music to that effect.

                Andrew Barker

                Scott: That one passed me by. Maybe Tim Shepherd is better known in the US :) It wouldn’t be the first time that folk got their theology from a hymn. Some are good, even excellent but writers do tend to stretch for words which fit the tune rather than the (Biblical) text!

                  Scott Shaver

                  Andrew:

                  Didn’t realize you were outside U.S.

                  If I remember correctly, Shepherd is/was a Presbyterian……Go figure.

            Steven

            Andrew says, “Faith is not something given to one after they are regenerated.”

            In Romans10:10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

            What kind of heart can believe? An unregenerate heart?

            Ezekiel 36:26 “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

            This is regeneration, and receiving, coming, faith, believing cannot be possible until regeneration occurs.

              Don Johnson