Love Doesn’t Kidnap: Why I Believe In Free Will Over Predestination

The other day I wrote a provocative piece on some surface reasons why I’m not a Calvinist. One of the key issues that is typically covered when discussing Calvinism and alternatives, is the discussion of “free will” over “predestination”. While there are various ways of looking at each side, in short, predestination is the camp where it is believed that God selects some people for heaven before they’re born– some in this camp also believe that he selects those who will go to hell, a term often called “double predestination”. Free will on the other hand, argues that God created us as free beings who can make our own choices- and that we are free to accept or reject his love. (This is a basic simplification of the concepts and not all encompassing of the various positions Christians hold on either side.)

Keeping it general however, I land in the “free will” camp. Here’s why:

I believe that true love never kidnaps, and never forces itself on another.

2007, Bald Mountain, Maine.

I remember the day I asked Tracy to marry me– it was a hot August day, and I convinced her to climb a mountain with me. We got to the top and stretched out a blanket so we could enjoy the magnificent views that are so quintessential to Maine’s foothills. After enjoying the view for a while, I wrote her a poem and then pulled out the ring that I had stashed in my pocket. I loved her, and I wanted to invite her to marry me.

While she immediately said yes, she was completely free to say no and walk off that mountain without the ring. Had I forced that ring on her hands, and had I forced myself upon her, it would be not evidence of my love but evidence of a selfish, inconsiderate, abusive, lack of love.

And I’d probably be in jail right now instead of raising a family with her.

Love must always be chosen.

Love never forces itself on someone.

I believe the same is true with God. In fact, the Bible frequently uses marriage references (aka, the “bride of Christ”) when attempting to describe the relationship between us and God. While he is the suitor and the initiator, it is ourselves who must act to accept and receive that love. Anything less would not be love.

If we are simply predestined one way or another, we’re simply robots– and I don’t believe God created robots. Imagine the choice between being hugged by a human looking robot who is simply pre-programmed to hug you, versus being hugged by a significant other who is hugging you as an act of love. I can’t imagine that God wants the love of a robot; I think he wants the love of people who choose to love him back.

Yes, God is the initiator– God is the one taking the initiative to make the proposal. He is the one dialing our number, knocking on the door, and offering the ring. However, it is our choice whether or not we want to say “yes” and be in a relationship with him.

Since God is loving, he does not force people to be in an eternal relationship with him– that’s a bit closer to kidnapping.

Instead, he is a loving suitor extending an invitation- which you and I are free to accept or reject.

 

The above is just one relational reason why I embrace free will, but the theology goes much deeper. If you’d like to explore this issue further, this short video by Greg will go deeper into the theological aspects of the issue:

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  • Brenda W. Clough

    There is another way to think about this. I am an author, and I write novels. When I write about a character, I assure you they are absolutely free. They frequently do what I, their creator, had no idea they would do. They steer the novel off into the tall timber, dragging me behind them. My characters have free will, and if I tamper with it — if I leap in and say, no, you’re not marrying her, what about the heroine? Then the work itself dies.
    However! It is also absolutely true that in me my characters live and move and have their being. I have total control over this novel. I can set the pen down, or close the Word file, and walk away. And nothing more happens until I start it again, maybe years later. I can sit there on a cloud of plot and fling events good and bad at them — ninja attacks, true love, audit requests from the IRS, Lotto jackpots — and they have to cope.
    So: if God is our creator, then perhaps they are both true. Free will and predestination are both true in my creations, after all.

  • Ruaidhrí Ó Domhnaill

    Since I am trying to give up sarcasm for Lent, I’ll be forthright and say that it seems you are creating god in your image instead of the other way around.

  • Brenda W. Clough

    Say rather that, as Dorothy Sayers once said, all creation displays the same patterns because it has the same Creator. We do in little what God does large, and this is not a moral choice any more than bipedalism is. We are the sub-creators that Tolkien wrote of, and can do nothing that He did not do before us, because we are made that way.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Absolutely- the tension is that ultimately we see examples of both in scripture and that’s always been the difficult thing to reconcile. I’ve often said “I believe in free will if that means that God is sovereign and I believe in God’s sovereignty if that means we have free will.”

  • Heather McCuen Dearmon

    Brenda, I just commented above before reading your comment here, so I wanted you to know that I unintentionally leeched your idea: it’s both. you just said it way more poetically than me! :)

  • R Vogel

    Riffing off of Irish Atheist’s comments in the last post, what is the point of this? What good do you think comes from this? How does this not make it look like Christians are a group of hopeless idiots arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? So you ‘believe’ in free will. Bully for you. If it turns out you are wrong, so what? Calvinism and predestination are hard doctrines for most to get their head around, but isn’t that up to Calvinists to make their case? Why do you feel the need to denigrate someone else beliefs? Call them to accountability for their actions, sure, but for their ‘belief’ in predestination which has no less evidence than yours in free will? (and actually much of brain science is starting to point in the direction of free will being a myth) Maybe a more important question is why is the belief in ‘free will’ so important to you that you would be willing to publicly shame a group of people trying to work out the very same things you are? And if you think it is that important, why use this painfully weak analogy to courting, which presupposes 2 equal and competent agents, rather than taking on the scripture which seems to expound predestination directly? How is this furthering the Kingdom?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    How is making a case for why I believe in free will bullying someone? This “furthers the Kingdom” because I want people to know that they have a choice, and that in fact, they must make a choice, whether they’re going to accept or reject God’s love.

  • R Vogel

    I wasn’t implying you were bullying anyone. Not sure how that was communicated, but I apologize if it was.

    My concern here is that you are not making your case for free will to the world, you are arguing with other believers that what they believe is wrong (and shaming them with statements like ‘makes you want to gouge your eyes out!’ or demeaning their beliefs by equating ‘predestination with kidnapping’). How is Christians denigrating each other over difference in doctrine in a public space providing a witness to the love of G*d in the world? What does the outsider think upon seeing this? (I think IA gave us a good indication) So if someone is clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, ministering to the sick and imprisoned, does it matter that they somehow reconcile that with a belief in predestination? How about a civil dialogue between yourself and someone equally educated who believes in predestination to cut through some of the myths and mischaracterizations? Do they feel like robots? Or perhaps just state you case, and why you believe what you believe full stop, and let them speak for themselves? What responsibility do we have to treat the beliefs of others, and that includes everyone not just other Christians, with charity?

  • http://faithlikeaman.blogspot.com/ Ryan Blanchard

    FWIW, my guess is you’re from a country in which “bully for you” means something different than what it does in the U.S. (actually, it doesn’t really mean anything in the U.S).

    I’m curious why public appearances are important to you. Your comment feels to me like when mom and dad go argue in the bedroom so as not to cause the children any alarm. Far better, in my opinion, to show them that love is messy, and friction is not that big a deal.

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

    I place myself firmly in the free will camp, that said if you believe that God sends people to hell if they not accept his Grace, as many fundamentalist do, then how useful is freewill. A God who would do that is saying marry me or I will chain you to the mountain top for all eternity. My personal belief is that if we reject God’s Grace then the consequence is separation from a loving and personal relationship with our creator and not eternal damnation. I know that some people will think this is heresy but I do not believe in hell and eternal damnation but a loving God who redeems everyone in the end.

  • Theo

    I like where you’re going with this, but you lost me in your second half. Could you clarify?

  • Grotoff

    A god who would torment people for eternity for the “crime” of not submitting to him is an evil lunatic and unworthy of worship. Does even Hitler deserve trillions on trillions of years of torture and fire? It’s just ridiculous to say that Gandhi does.

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

    The standard reply to this is that we all deserve to be punished for eternity because we are all sinners. Then depending on your point of either you accept God’s Grace or you condemn yourself to hell or worse to my mind God elects you for salvation or damnation. I do not believe either of these explanations are consistent with a loving God. Given the choice between “A god who would torment people for eternity for the “crime” of not submitting to him” and atheism I would choose non-belief.

  • Grotoff

    That simply doesn’t make sense though. How could any finite infraction require infinite punishment? And how could any reasonable being threaten that kind of torment and be so stingy with his intervention in the world? There’s nothing logically stopping him from sending 7+ billion avatars of himself to walk among us and talk with us. What tortured mind could imagine that a guy saying, “Yeah here’s how you translate Linear A and Etruscan script, also I’m God go to church,” violates free will? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If the alternative is billions in eternal hellfire, then why isn’t doing anything?

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    “There’s nothing logically stopping him from sending 7+ billion avatars of himself to walk among us and talk with us.”

    7+ billion is a tiny finite number.

    The grace of the Guru is infinite. (Oops, sorry “Holy Ghost”)

    “If the alternative is billions in eternal hellfire, then why isn’t [he?] doing anything?”

    Free will. The very nature of relativity. We must definitely resolve the part we play in keeping it so.

  • Grotoff

    That’s just ridiculous. Does being infinite mean that a piece of it can’t be finite? Obviously not. The number line is infinite in many many ways, but we deal with finite pieces of it all the time. There’s nothing stopping him/it from making an enormous amount of copies to be in real relationships with everyone who exists.

    Additionally, free will doesn’t enter into it. My mother, for example, definitely exists. Now, I love my mother but that is because of our relationship. My free will, if such a thing exists, hasn’t been compromised by my knowing without a doubt that she exists. Couple that with the multitude of times that the OT deity shows himself to particular people without their dying or losing their free will… and it just doesn’t make sense for him to be hiding.

    Sure, he shouldn’t blast everyone with his supposedly infinite glory. But has he forgotten self-restraint just in time for the era of honest record keeping? It’s more than a little suspicious.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    “That’s just ridiculous. “

    If your gripe is with YAHWEH, ok, but I prefer to go to the source myself. I want to actually understand. Not dictate terms.

    Infinities of numbers are only relative infinities.

    Absolute Infinitude, not having an antithesis, is a better place to start.

    “… and it just doesn’t make sense for him to be hiding.”

    If there is nothing that is not God, where is there to hide?

    The intimacy that you seek is the whole story. Your sense of self is not what it seems. Think about it.

  • Grotoff

    You have direct conversations with the supposed entity YHWH? That would be the only way to go to the source. All other forms are mediated by other humans and replete with errors. Even the most rapid fundamentalist recognizes that spelling and grammar differences pop up in all extant texts, which if nothing else proves that nothing supernatural was intent on preserving it.

    I’m pretty sure that Orthodox Christianity would never claim that “there is nothing that is not God”. Are you saying that he is both rape and charity? Blackholes and quarks? Such a postulate simply doesn’t interest me. I have no reason to care about an unmoved movers such as that.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    I’m pretty sure that Orthodox Christianity would never claim that “there is nothing that is not God”.

    To the best of my understanding, that is why your complaints seem unanswered.

    Perpetuating a dualistic and anthropomorphic visualization of God keeps us bound to original sin.

    To the degree that it insists on limiting God to a shadow casting, and therefore finite version of deity; outside of ourselves, Christianity fails to get Jesus as Christ.

    That’s all I’m saying.

    Are you saying that he is both rape and charity? Blackholes and quarks? Such a postulate simply doesn’t interest me. I have no reason to care about an unmoved movers such as that.

    Nothing unmoved or unmoving about it.

    However, not being interested, is a valid response. I definitely want to respect it. Please remind me if I forget.

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

    My main point is I do not believe that a God of love would send anyone to hell and eternal torment. To use Ben’s analogy if you say no to God’s Grace you are free to walk off the mountain. God will not force you into a relationship with him but the invitation to his table is always there.

  • gimpi1

    Did you mean do believe or do not believe?

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

    I meant to write I do not believe…Sadly too many Christians would see not problem with a “loving” God who also tormented people for all eternity for even the smallest sin. Here I agree with atheists that both can not be true.

  • Heather McCuen Dearmon

    I definitely do not think what you believe is heresy, James, and I think there are a large group of Christians, myself included, who also lean towards this belief. We know that over time the teachings and interpretations of “eternal punishment” have been greatly distorted, and whenever Jesus spoke of what most bibles interpret as “hell” was actually “Gehenna” –the actual location of a burning trash dump. After reading C.S. Lewis’ book “The Great Divorce” and even Rob Bell’s “Love Wins” I am convinced that God hasn’t told us the whole story about judgment and punishment in the afterlife. N.T. Wright wrote (and I’m paraphrasing here) that we should take comfort in the fact that on Judgment Day, the judge will be Jesus, himself, the Man of Many Sorrows. I like that a lot. The man who knows the true heart of every person will be the judge, and if he is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, then I believe the mercy he displayed in gospels will be exhibited on Judgment Day as well.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    Hell is a work in process.

    Oil spills, war, genocide, internet squabbles.

    Nuclear holocaust. Recombinant genetics.

    Eternity, is this moment; The here and now.

    If we do not awake to the understanding, that our self is not a separate thing from the One Self, then our actions perpetuate the selfish, agenda driven, fear of dying self.

    Just because somebody redacted reincarnation from the bible, doesn’t mean we don’t have to live in the mess we create.

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    As for Free Will:

    As we are not separate from God. In fact, identical with God; As Jesus has shown. Then whatever mess we make, God suffers as well.

    The Love of God must be something other than a love for you or for me. That kind of love requires a possible absence of it. The kind of love God usually gets from us.

    Free Will is like that too. As infinite potentiality; Not subject to time; God, as the all, the entirety; Does not know what happens next; Except but through us.

  • Kevin Osborne

    I suspect we are all selfish, which is the point of existence here. Vot you tink?

  • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

    The Definition of Samsara.
    ———————————

    The inertia of self interest is

    The impulse of evolution.

    Oscillating habitually in fixed orbit,

    For eons of time.

    Or,…

    Awakening,

    Navigate home.

  • Kevin Osborne

    Wow. That gave me chills.

  • Jay Barcus

    Question. Let’s take two people. Bill and Stan. God knocks on both of their doors. God dials both of their numbers. Bill puts his faith in Christ. Stan does not. What made the difference. Bill chose wisely. Stan did not. How did Bill choose wisely compared to Stan?

  • Jay Barcus

    No answer then?

  • Heather McCuen Dearmon

    So why don’t you pick a simple, non-controversial subject to write about sometime, Benjamin? hmm? I joke.This is such a difficult topic! I have wrestled with this myself over the years, and I have come to the conclusion (yes, “I” am she who has the answer!) that it is BOTH free will and pre-destination. Hear me out a sec: First of all, salvation is so very different for each person, it’s hard to say how we arrive there. For me, there was no altar call, but this wooing of God over many years and suddenly at the dinner table one night I realized, ‘I am in love with Jesus!’ Now according to the Bible, the Father “knew” I was going to believe, because there’s that whole ‘who he foreknew, he predestined’ verse (that I don’t feel like looking up right now) which is deep and scary, including the verse about the potter making some objects for noble purposes and others for destruction and holy cow! Is it free will? Predestination? Or is something deep and totally beyond all human comprehension going on here that it would blow our brains to bits if God shared it with us? Yeah, I think so. So I believe it’s both, or wait, maybe it’s neither?! wo!!! Too deep for me, man, but the not knowing does make me love Jesus and all his mysterious ways even more, which is great, because it keeps the relationship VERY interesting!

  • Donna

    I agree with you, that there is a sense that both free will and predestination are probably simultaneously true, in a way that we can’t really understand on this side of eternity. So what it boils down to again, for me, is that I have to look at Jesus–I know that he loves me (and everyone) completely, that’s he’s good, that he will judge rightly, and that I can ultimately trust his judgment.

  • Phoenix

    Great thoughts. Although I disagree with your theology I respect your opinion and appreciate your insights as a fellow brother in Christ. Let me begin my response by saying that the mystery surrounding salvation and the doctrine of divine election is one that we are not privy of fully knowing how God works. But the curtain is drawn back through scripture pertaining to some aspects of it

    First of all, God doesn’t kidnap His children or force them to love Him. All God must do in order for someone to follow Him is simply reveal Himself. That is how beautiful our God is! We are drawn to Him like a gnat to a flame upon His revealing. The problem is that God does not reveal Himself to everyone.

    The general point of contention in the free will vs predestination debate comes in the form of a question. “Why would God send anyone to Hell?” This is the question that most in the free will camp will argue. But in asking this question, they have a false view of the God of scripture. In Romans chapter 3, Paul speaks of how no one has the power to choose God or understand Him. And Paul goes on to describe our totally depraved sin nature. Basically saying without a supernatural regenerating of our souls, we would never come to God. Why? Because as Ephesians and Colossians point out, we are “spiritually dead.”

    John 1:12 drives this point home further. “Yet to all
    who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to
    become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human
    decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

    Our human decision played no part in our salvation because we were dead spiritually. We were unable to choose God. And because of sin, all humanity was destined for Hell. But from the foundation of the earth, in order to show His mercy and grace, God chose to same some. God predestined no one to Hell. We were all already going there by ourselves.

    Consider these verses…

    John 6:44, “”No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”

    John 6:37 “All those the Father gives to me will come.”

    Notice the connection. No one can come to Jesus unless God draws him. And everyone the Father has given to Jesus WILL come. It doesnt say might come. It says all the Father has given to Christ WILL come. So logically, if the Father had given EVERYONE to Christ, then they would all come.

    Jesus didnt die a potentially saving death on the cross. His death was victorious in saving HIS children which scripture calls the elect.

    John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

    Not everyone follows Jesus that hears the gospel. Only those that are His, given by the father. When Christ reveals Himself, His sheep hear, like Paul, and follow.

    Last point. Ephesians 2:9 says that our faith is by grace, not of works lest no man may boast. If I could have it in me to make a right choice and choose Christ or decide to follow Him, then I did something. I made a right choice. Meaning I deserve at least some of the credit for making the choice. But again, go back to the scripture. It says our faith is by grace alone. The meaning of Grace is an undeserved gift. To say that I had a little something to do with my salvation is to undermine the true meaning of grace.

    Again, thank you for your thought provoking article. Iron sharpens Iron when we as brothers are able to discuss the scriptures and dig into his word. God bless you and the wonderful ministry God has given you.

  • Steve

    thank you Phoenix for being one of the few in this debate string to actually use Scripture. Frankly I don’t care what we think or how we philosophize. I care about what God has to say. We don’t get to determine how He chooses to run the universe. Either we believe every dot and iota or we don’t.

  • Phoenix

    Thanks Steve. I am with you. Our opinions dont matter. I dont know it all, but I do know what scripture says. It is a dangerous thing for a person to mold God into an image we are comfortable with and disregard scripture. God bless you brother.

  • JohnH2

    Except God desires that all be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth:

    1 Timothy 2:3-4 ” For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

    You also appear to ignore Romans 2 where the spiritually dead Gentiles have the law written in their hearts, as shown by their actions, with our own consciousness condemning or excusing what we of ourselves know to be right. We do not need someone to go to heaven to be able to choose life over death (Deuteronomy 30), we are all able to choose right from what is written in our hearts and live; each day life and death are set before us and we are called to choose whom we will serve (Joshua 24:15).

    However as Paul says in Romans 2-3, each of us chooses what we know to be evil sometimes and fall short of the glory of God and it is only by the grace of Christ that we can become dead to what we have freely chosen to do wrong.

    We are all sons of the Most High (John 10:34, Psalms 82:6) and God loved the entire world such that He sent His Son, not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved, if we believe (John 3:15-18). God will save all that call on upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13), and do what Christ commands, as faith is demonstrated in the action.

    Romans is very much in conversation with Deuteronomy and Isaiah and ignoring what Paul is referring to leads to a misunderstanding of what Paul is saying.

  • Phoenix

    Hi John. Thanks for your viewpoints. Just so you know I didn’t “ignore” Romans 2. In a form like this obviously one must limit what is written. I agree with 1 Timothy where God calls all men to be saved. The question is who are “All” men? Lets go back to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 which are right before verse 3 where it mentions God desiring all men to be saved.

    1 Timothy 2:1-2 “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

    Timothy seems to be referring to classes of people in mentioning all people, even Kings and those in high places. If you take the verse in context, Timothy is referring to “ALL” men as in every kind and class of men.

    This fits perfectly with Revelation 7:8-9, “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”

    Again, “ALL” men is seen as being not individuals, but men from every tribe, nation, and language.

    And in Romans 2 God does call us to choose. Deuteronomy 30:19 says it like this….”I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,”

    So yes, God calls out to ALL men with the Gospel calling. Thats why we are to preach to all creation. But you must consider what God means by His calling. Consider this verse…

    Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

    There is nothing deep about this verse. Its straight forward. The gospel call goes out to many. It doesnt say “But few will decide to follow.” Its says “Few are chosen.”

    Think of it like this. When my boys are playing outside with their friends in the neighborhood, and I call them like this, “BOYS COME HOME.” My sons know my voice. The call has gone out all over the neighborhood, and other boys that are not mine heard my voice, but they will not come to me. Only my sons will respond.

    John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

    When God speaks of loving the entire world, He speaks of those that are His in the world. All races and creeds of those that are His. He also speaks of His creation. Jesus tells us who in the world He is talking about in this next verse.

    John 17:9 “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”

    John 3:16 says for whoever believes will be saved. Yes and amen! Whoever believes. But we must go deeper and ask how one believes. Here are the verses that answer that I mentioned in my last post.

    John 6:44, “”No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”

    John 6:37 “All those the Father gives to me will come.”

    To believe, the Father must draw you. And ALL those that the Father draws…WILL come. It doesnt say they might come. It says they will. So therefore, if we believe the scriptures, if God decided to draw all men, then ALL men would come! But that is not the case.

    Yes and amen, God will save all that call upon His name. But only those the Father draws will call upon His name! And regarding Paul, he could not have driven the point home harder regarding God’s sovereignty. Read Romans Chapter 9. Jacob I loved Esau I hated. And Paul writes that before the twins had done anything good or bad, God chose to prove that HIS election in salvation might stand.

    Romans 9:11-13 “Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

    Paul is even having to defend himself to the Romans. Why would Paul have to make a defense of what he was saying regarding Jacob and Esau? Because of the same reason many today fight against Gods sovereignty! They claim its not fair. But due to our sin what is fair is that we all are sent to Hell. Look at Paul’s defense…

    Romans 9:14-18 “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

    Paul says was God unfair in having mercy on whom He will? He concludes…”By no means.” ANd he backs it up with scripture. God’s great love was displayed in not being fair. In not giving the entire human race what it deserves…eternal separation due to our sin. But in a display of grace love and mercy, Christ chose to save some.

    We can agree to disagree brother. I appreciate your passion and love for our Lord Jesus and I know He is using you mightily to reach others as you proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. God bless brother!

  • JohnH2

    All is all, God is no respecter of persons, nor a partial God but one that says to worst of sinners, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?” and has provided that as “in Adam all die so too in Christ shall all be made alive” and “every knee shall bow and tongue confess”, such that if we do what we know to be right then we are accepted of Him.

    Everyone will hear the call, and everyone already has the ability to choose life based on what they know to be right or wrong, so that they might be judged according to man in the flesh but live according to God in the spirit.

    Faith is a gift of obedience (per Paul), and we are chosen because of our faith through our humility and obedience (per James).

    Esau had the birthright, and could have kept it, but instead sold it for some porridge; That God knew this would happen does not in anyway take away Esau’s agency, his freedom to choose, any more than knowing that Einstein did what Einstein did takes away Einstein’s agency.

    Regarding your last paragraph, I don’t mean to deceive you, I am restricting myself to the Bible because I would rather have the discussion be about if there are limits on God’s grace, other than our choosing to reject God’s grace, than about if there are limits on God’s revelation. I am, however, a Mormon, which given the position of most Calvinist communions which I am aware of puts me in perhaps a worse position than an atheist, despite Romans 14 and except when it is convenient to say otherwise.

  • Phoenix

    Hi John

    I appreciate your reply but you still are not seeing that in order to make a right choice or choose God, the Father must draw per John Chapter 6 and also verse 36 in John 6 that all He draws will come. Also I agree Ephesians 2:8 where it says faith is a gift and not of works. If I have to choose God then I am doing a work. The Bible says Grace Alone!

    At any rate on this point we can agree to disagree. You mentioned being a mormon. Brother in love I pray you seek the scriptures to seek truth. There are many holes in the Mormon theology that stray from scripture. Im going to try to attach a clip of Dr John Macarthur pointing some things about about mormonism. I mean no malice or hurt towards you brother, I just want you to know Jesus in truth. God bless you brother. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AMhTaUbg3o

  • JohnH2

    Except from the time of the fall we all know good and evil and are become as one of the gods (unless God was lying about both the us and the knowledge of good and evil).

    If you can’t actually choose this day whom ye will serve or choose life, then why are we having any sort of conversation? Whether I am chosen then doesn’t depend on the obedience that leads to faith, and even if by following Christ I come to know that Christ is of God and I then spend my time feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick all will amount to nothing; because I didn’t say the right kind of “Lord, Lord” I will apparently be cast off forever while those that do not do but hear only and confess Lord, Lord will apparently be justified; or not even justified they will be saved regardless of their actions. We apparently can’t judge a tree by its fruit.

    John 10:34-36. “ye are gods” (sons of the Most High Pslam 82:6); and through the grace of Christ we are able to become joint-heirs with Christ and participate in the divine nature. Christ is God and yet was born of Mary, He grew in grace and wisdom. Abraham the father of the faithful, was polygamist, as was Jacob, called Israel. The idea that families can be together forever, that the man is truly not without the women in the Lord, but joined of the Lord as was Adam and Eve prior to the fall is pretty Biblical (explicitly so if one includes the Apocrapha) and not primarily about sex, unless you think that Abraham and Jacob were sexual deviants and Adam and Eve getting married was primarily about sex. For something that accuses me of denying the veracity of the Bible, both you and they sure seem to be denying quite a lot of scripture.

    He could have gained some actual understanding of what it is that Mormons believe, as he doesn’t have the slightest clue, if he had happened to visit. The test for a true and false prophet is found in the Bible, if you believe the Bible then you should probably apply the test.

  • Phoenix

    Mormonism is taking that verse out of context. Let’s start with a look at Psalm 82, the psalm that Jesus quotes in John 10:34. The Hebrew word translated “gods” in Psalm 82:6 is Elohim. It usually refers to the one true God, but it does have other uses. Psalm 82:1 says, “God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the gods.” It is clear from the next three verses that the word “gods” refers to magistrates, judges, and other people who hold positions of authority and rule. Calling a human magistrate a “god” indicates three things: 1) he has authority over other human beings, 2) the power he wields as a civil authority is to be feared, and 3) he derives his power and authority from God Himself, who is pictured as judging the whole earth in verse 8.

    This use of the word “gods” to refer to humans is rare, but it is found elsewhere in the Old Testament. For example, when God sent Moses to Pharaoh, He said, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh” (Exodus 7:1). This simply means that Moses, as the messenger of God, was speaking God’s words and would therefore be God’s representative to the king. The Hebrew word Elohimis translated “judges” in Exodus 21:6 and 22:8,9, and 28.

    The whole point of Psalm 82 is that earthly judges must act with impartiality and true justice, because even judges must stand someday before the Judge. Verses 6 and 7 warn human magistrates that they, too, must be judged: “I said, `You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.” This passage is saying that God has appointed men to positions of authority in which they are considered as gods among the people. They are to remember that, even though they are representing God in this world, they are mortal and must eventually give an account to God for how they used that authority.

    Now, let’s look at how Jesus uses this passage. Jesus had just claimed to be the Son of God (John 10:25-30). The unbelieving Jews respond by charging Jesus with blasphemy, since He claimed to be God (verse 33). Jesus then quotesPsalm 82:6, reminding the Jews that the Law refers to mere men—albeit men of authority and prestige—as “gods.” Jesus’ point is this: you charge me with blasphemy based on my use of the title “Son of God”; yet your own Scriptures apply the same term to magistrates in general. If those who hold a divinely appointed office can be considered “gods,” how much more can the One whom God has chosen and sent (verses 34-36)?

    In contrast, we have the serpent’s lie to Eve in the Garden. His statement, “your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5), was a half-truth. Their eyes were opened (verse 7), but they did not become like God. In fact, they lost authority, rather than gaining it. Satan deceived Eve about her ability to become like the one true God, and so led her into a lie. Jesus defended His claim to be the Son of God on biblical and semantic grounds—there is a sense in which influential men can be thought of as gods; therefore, the Messiah can rightly apply the term to Himself. Human beings are not “gods” or “little gods.” We are not God. God is God, and we who know Christ are His children.

    Regarding Abraham and his taking of duel wives, notice that God never condoned this. God worked his plan in spite of this. My friend, no one is accusing you of being a false prophet or of anything for that matter. You seem to be taking my responses as an attack on you and I can assure you that is not my intent.

    Let me say I do not want this to escalate into an argument or anything more than I intended with my response. I simply wanted to point out scripture and for you to examine your doctrine and beliefs in light of scripture as I have. Thanks again John for the response and God Bless.

  • JohnH2

    I disagree that Psalm 82 is referring to “judges”, the command to judge rightly, to defend the poor and fatherless, to do justice to the afflicted and needy is to all of us, not just to some judges. That is also not at all consistent with how Jesus uses that Psalm.

    So because the serpent deceived that means that God lied in Genesis 3:22? “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”. Last I checked God cannot lie and the scriptures aren’t to be set aside.

    As for us being the children of God : Rom 8:16, Deut 14:1, Ps 82:6, Hosea 1:10, Mal. 2:10, Eph. 4:6, Heb. 12:9

    As for us becoming like God: 2 Cor 3:18, Eph 4:13, 1 Jn 3:2, Rev. 3:21, John 17:20-26, Rom. 8:17, Gal. 4:7

    God explicitly allows polygamy in the Mosaic Law, however Jacob wasn’t under the Mosaic Law and his marriages were explicitly approved of God.

    I would have thought calling me a sexual deviant and damned and the slander against what I believe was a personal attack and accusing me of things. You claim that modern prophets are false, I say look at what the scriptures say about how to judge a true and false prophet, of the two it would appear that I trust in what I know to be an imperfect Bible, having errors of all sorts, more than you do in what you claim is an error free Bible being the be all end all of God’s word; as though you could command God to no longer speak to man; something that the Bible records was the wish of nearly all men from the times first recorded that God spoke to man.

  • Phoenix

    John

    I never called you any names of any sort. I sent you a video in which John Macarthur made some statements about the Mormon religion. If I personally offended you in any way I sincerely apologize to you. Again, offense was not my intent. I never said I didnt disagree that those that are saved are the children of God. Yes and amen to that. However, we do not become God’s ourselves.

    To believe that we shall “become God” contradicts the Bible’s teaching about the nature of God. God is one being, not many separate beings. God is eternal and uncreated. But we do not have a past eternity, and we were created by God. Therefore, we are less than God, and can never be all that God is, and we can never be God, for that word implies eternalness, uncreatedness and omnipotence. We do not have life within ourselves, as does God. We must be given life by God. He will give us eternal life, but that life is not inherent in us, and we cannot give it to others, as God can.

    Some people use John 10:34—”you are gods”—in support of the idea that we shall become God. But Jesus was not commenting on the question of what we will be in the resurrection. In this passage, we see Jesus quoting from Psalm 82:6, in which the Hebrew word translated “gods” iselohim. In context, it refers to unjust human judges (Psalm 82:1-2, 7). Jesus says the following in John 10:34-36:

    Is it not written in your Law, “I have said you are gods.” If he called them “gods” to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”?

    In John 10, the Jewish leaders were accusing Jesus of blasphemy because he had claimed “to be God” (verse 33). Jesus was saying, in effect, the following: “If Scripture can call unjust human judges “gods,” how much more can the name ‘Son of God’ refer to me?”

    Jesus was not telling the Jews that these unjust judges were literally Gods. That should be obvious. As the psalm says, they were mortal. Rather, Jesus was cautioning his hearers about their own unjust condemnation of his use of the term “Son of God.” Both the psalm and Jesus were talking about mortal human beings. The question of what we will be like after the resurrection has nothing to do with John 10:34.

    In the resurrection, we will be like Jesus Christ, and that will be wonderful. We will be God’s children forever, living in perfect joy and happiness, and we thank God that we can become his children even in this life, through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

    Again John by no means was I or have I tried to slander you or hurt you in any way and if I have please forgive me. I simply want you to weigh scripture in light of scripture. Examine truth. I pray Gods grace upon your life and I do mean that. Thanks for a thought provoking exchange in this form.

  • JohnH2

    We are all already children, God is the Father of our spirits. Through Christ we can become joint-heirs with Christ and sit on Christ’s throne just as Christ sits on God’s throne; I posted a whole slew of scriptures on those two topics so I don’t know why you focus only on John 10.

    As for our eternal nature, Christ existed prior to being born being both the God of the Old Testament and also the lamb slain from before the foundations of the world at which all the sons of God (us) shouted for joy.

    I pray that you weigh scripture in light of scripture and in light of what God has revealed through His Spirit to you; and that you consider that perhaps God has not changed but continues to speak to man.

  • Phoenix

    You listed alot of scripture in defense of Gods elect being children of God. And I agree! But not in the same way you do. I do not see any biblical evidence that we are to become Gods ourselves. Thats just not in scripture. And I agree that we are joint heirs with Christ! But heirs to the kingdom. We are not equal to Him in deity. I agree with all the verses you posted. We just interpret them differently.

    And agreed… that Christ existed before the foundation of the world and was God eternally! No argument there. However not everyone is a child of God. Only those that are called into “adoption as sons” which also touches on God’s sovereign choice. In adoption, does the child choose the father? No the father chooses the child. We must pay attention to the language used.

    Back to mormonism. As I stated we are not all children of God. 1 John 3:10 “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”

    Some are children of wrath or of the devil. John I just wanted to give you some things to think about. Our doctrines are totally different. Scripture is infallible as God through his Holy Spirit inspired the writers. I could write a book of a reply to you filled with scripture references but I feel as if it would only offend you. So Ill end our conversation by saying thank you for a great debate and I do pray Gods grace upon you! God Bless you.

  • JohnH2

    I am really quite surprised by the limitedness of your God; limited words, limited grace, limited atonement, no agency, limited children, apparently limited love as well, and apparently limited creation such that the devil must create the spirit or divine breath of so many.

  • Phoenix

    I serve a God that is not at the mercy of man, rather we are at His mercy. I serve a God who didnt just die a potentially saving death, He died a truly saving death. Those He foreknew before the foundation of the earth WILL come and WILL be saved. My God is so powerful that if He truly called all men unto himself they would not be able to resist His beauty. And I serve a God that is only limited by His own will and not by the will of mortal men.

    Acts 14:38 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”

    How many believed? As many as God had appointed. Not all believed you see. Only as many as God had appointed. Limited atonement.

    Romans 9:22 “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,”

    That verse says it best. Some vessels that he creates are not for glorification but destruction. Why? To make known his power and glory. If everyone were saved and no one endured the consequence of sin, would we know what we were saved from? God gets glory from salvation as well as from wrath. Is God unjust for this? As Paul said, “By no means.” Those who go to Hell go there on their own merit. Because everyone of us deserves Hell. Those who are saved did not save themselves, they got grace.

    You may not agree with this, but if not your beef is not with me, but with the scriptures. And if you think you know better than the scriptures, then your troubles go deeper than just theological beliefs. Also you seem to have a problem with that verse in 1 John about some are children of the devil. Again if this offends you your problem is not with me but with the scriptures.

    And as for prophecy consider this…

    1 Corinthians 13:8 “As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease”

    The Cannon of scripture is complete, therefore we need no new revelations. We’ve had alot of prophets in recent years predicting the coming of Christ. All were wrong. Ive yet to find or hear one new prophet that spoke truth. That should tell us something.

    Like I have tried to say to you, if in any way I have offended you or upset you I am sorry. I believe the scriptures are God breathed. We differ on our theology. And you seem to be goading for an argument more than a discussion. Again brother, if you believe any part of the BIble you know that this is not what God would want. I have shared only truth with you as I have only given you scripture. If you chose to disagree with it that is between you and the Lord.

    Again please forgive me if Ive been offensive to you. I do pray Gods peace upon your life and His grace. Lets just agree to disagree. God bless.

  • JohnH2

    My beef isn’t with the scriptures, but with your interpretation of them. I would rather accept the Cathar’s Two Principles than accept that God is the sadistic capricious monster that your interpretation of those verses presents.

  • Phoenix

    I didnt’ interpret them, I simply listed them and then restated what they said. If you dont like them you can mold God into a God you are comfortable with. Most of the world does that anyway. And you hit the folly of it all when you mentioned the word monster. The world considers God a monster because He wont save everyone. As if everyone is entitled to Heaven. Yet in reality, we are the monsters, so wickedly depraved and “dead” in our sins. To call this God of the Bible a monster for his wrath just shows how highly humanity thinks of itself and how overrated in our own minds we really are.If there are any monsters, its all of humanity. But praise God for His undeserved grace and mercy. Praise God He saved His children when none deserved anything but Hell. Thats true love. Again we can part and agree to disagree.

  • JohnH2

    Again, I believe in a God that wills that all be saved and whose hand is stretched out still, who stands at the door and knocks and if we let Him in then there is grace enough for us and who presents to us each day the way of life and the way of death and ask us to choose whom we will serve. I believe in a God that we show our faith by our works, and will cast off those that say Lord Lord but don’t do what Christ asks while saving those that don’t even know to say Lord Lord but demonstrate the law written in their hearts, as it is in everyones, through their actions. I believe in a God that so loved the world that He died for it, not to condemn it but so that it may be saved. I believe in a God that asks us to reason together with Him and that makes covenants with us. I believe in a God who is Love. I likewise have been restating scriptures, even some of the same ones, and they show a God who weeps for us and laid down His life to save as many as will repent, a God of Love, Truth, actual Justice from our own choices, and actual mercy to everyone that wants it.

  • Jay Barcus

    Limited love?
    Limited grace?
    Wow. You truly do not understand the doctrines of grace enough to speak against them.

  • JohnH2

    If grace is not sufficient enough to save everyone that desires to be saved then it is limited. If love is such that God “hates” us for our sins (per Calvin) even though He is the one that created us and sent His Son to lay down His life for us then that love is limited, and very different from the God that tells the adulteress, neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.

  • Jay Barcus

    First – Who said anything about someone desiring to be saved that is not?

    Second – I want to clarify. You believe that everyone has the choice to put their faith in Christ? And you believe that if that is true then it makes God more loving than what Reformed theology says about salvation?

  • JohnH2

    First- Calvin himself says that and furthermore it is a direct consequence of the idea, otherwise our desire, which is something we can control, is what saves us contradicting the primary premise of Calvinism.

    Second- It is self evident and obvious that not everyone has the choice to have faith in Christ; clearly those that have never heard of Christ are incapable of doing so and clearly those that have never received the gift of faith from God can also not do so.

    What everyone is capable of doing though is choosing between good and evil, between life and death. between the right way and the wrong way, between truth and lies; And if we choose good, life, the way, and truth then we are following Christ for He is the Way, The Truth, The Life and there is no other, and when we hear of Christ we will accept Him with gladness for the further light He provides to illuminate the path and the salvation from our errors and faults in following the good. Faith is a gift of God for our obedience, and can only come if hear the word; we do not need someone to go to heaven though to be able to choose life, as the way is written in our hearts.

    Given what Calvinism says about salvation, the idea that God loves us unconditionally and is willing and able to save all of us if we but repent but respects us enough to allow us to depart if we so choose is much more loving then the idea that God hates us for our sins and mind rapes us in order to save those few that He chooses, destroying the agency that He gave to man from the beginning, while being fully incapable of saving those that wish it, however imperfectly they do so, and do all that they can to follow the good. The Father that weeps for us and welcomes us home with open arms after we have eaten the slop of pigs while not casting off those that have always done what is right is infinitely more loving and just than the Father that takes two equal sons and says to one sit here in riches and the other sit here in rags.

  • Jay Barcus

    First – I was referring to your comment:

    “If grace is not sufficient enough to save everyone that desires to be saved then it is limited”

    The point I wanted to make is that John Calvin would affirm that everyone who desires to be saved will be. I know we differ on things attached to that and what precedes that. But in the future I wanted to be helpful and let you know to strike that sentence by itself from your argument. You can’t, when critiquing calvinism, say their view of God is a God with limited grace and then give that as your reason. I am a calvinist and absolutely believe all who desire to be saved will.

    Second – I thought we were in a different place in our doctrine of soteriology. But I see after your last response that we are not together on more important things that reformed/not reformed. It sounds as if you have a much higher view of man than I do. It also seems that you are leaning toward some sort of christian universalism. I could be way off on assuming that, so forgive me if I’m wrong.

    As long as we are far apart from each other on those things and probably others I have not mentioned, then I do not see how we can have a healthy discussion about the subject of the blog post.

  • JohnH2

    John Calvin does not say that everyone that desires to be saved will be, he in fact directly says the opposite of that in his section on predestination when discussing the phrase “they are not all Israel which are Israel”, meaning that my statement that God’s grace is limited is correct, at least according to what Calvin himself says. You may believe differently, I am not familiar with current Calvinism having only read some of the works of John Calvin.

    As stated previously, I am a Mormon such that I believe that the gospel is preached to them that are dead so that they may be judged according to men in the flesh but live according to God in the spirit (1 Peter 4:6) and that being born again via baptism is necessary, as Jesus says, such that it also is offered to them that are dead (1 Corinthians 15:29) so that all may be alike unto God.

  • Jay Barcus

    I’m not saying he would say everyone will desire to be saved but I’m pretty sure if someone made the one sentence statement of “Everyone who desires to be saved will be”, he would not disagree. More would need to be said and then disagreement may happen.

    I believe he and others sharing his theology would affirm that statement, meaning that if someone truly desires the saving work of Christ, they would only do so if God had already begun a work in their heart. This of course is a huge divided point between Arminianism/Calvinism. The question of what occurs first: Regeneration or faith. Arminians saying faith and calvinists saying regeneration.

    So the end result of that one sentence, when discussed more in detail, would lead to differing beliefs. But standing on it’s own could also be affirmed by both sides of the debate.

    I didn’t read all of the comments so was unaware when I first posted that you are a Mormon. That definitely explains why we are landing in different places. Although that is the case, I appreciate the conversation and thank you for kindness in your responses.

  • JohnH2

    Calvin makes the point in his work that Judas, the papists, and the pharisees are not saved despite being of Israel. Your co-religionist here posted that for my faith I am damned, despite previously complementing me on my faith in Christ (when he didn’t know that I was a Mormon), and I know that for Calvinist communions that is the common position: that Catholics and Mormons are some form of damned.

    Without twisting the words beyond recognition as is apparently done with “all” it is demonstrably not the case that either Calvin or Calvinism believes that “Everyone who desires to be saved will be”, clearly despite all belief and desire for salvation of the Catholics (per Calvin) or Mormons (per your co-religionist) we are damned.

  • Jay Barcus

    This is becoming more complicated than I intended. Originally I was trying to address what Calvin would say if someone said “All who desire to be saved will be saved.”

    The point I was trying to make is that sentence is not enough to go on. It needs to be unpacked more. So if Calvin heard that he could not and would not deny it. I don’t mean to say he would rush to affirm it. He would probably say “Yes, but what do you mean by that?” or “Maybe, depending on what you mean.”

    Do you think Calvin would say Judas, the papists, and the pharisees desired to be saved? Do you think Judas and the pharisees desired to be saved? If you would say yes then saved by whom? From what? How? For what?

    That is where the unpacking and further conversation comes in. What does “desires to be saved” mean and include? Because salvation includes knowledge and truth.

    So once again, I’m not trying to convert you to reformed theology or make you a John Calvin fan. I am actually trying to help you in your argument. It is not a good point to say that a calvinist believes in a God whose grace is limited. You gave this as your reasoning:

    ” If grace is not sufficient enough to save everyone that desires to be saved then it is limited.”

    That alone does not stand or make a good argument for your case. In the future if you are going to say that then you need to include what you mean by “desires to be saved.” Then you have a more complete argument that would probably be saying something entirely different than John Calvin and calvinists today.

  • JohnH2

    Given what I have read of Calvin, I would place bets on him saying that the papist do desire to be saved; and the pharisees as well, with clarification. Judas not.

    I notice you left off the papists when asking about my opinion. Judas probably not so much, I don’t believe the gnostic texts that claim otherwise are legitimate.

    The pharisees however, absolutely they wanted to be saved, both from what they knew themselves to have done wrong and from the oppression they faced; there understanding of a Savior though was different, but Paul prior to his conversion was trying his best to do what he thought was right and pleasing to God.

    If Grace is not sufficient to save everyone that attempts to do what they know to be right according to the knowledge they have and which believes and trusts in the Savior, even if the understanding is different, then it is limited.

  • Jay Barcus

    It was unintentional when I left off the papists when asking you. Didn’t realize I did that.

    There we go.
    “If Grace is not sufficient to save everyone that attempts to do what they know to be right according to the knowledge they have and which believes and trusts in the Savior, even if the understanding is different, then it is limited.”

    That’s getting more to it. That is more defined than “all who desired to be saved.” The only point I was trying to make is that statement could or could not be true based on other beliefs.

    So who’s the Savior? If it is Christ then Calvin would say that the pharisees might desire to be saved but that is not enough. You included in your response “and which believes and trusts in the Savior.” The pharisees certainly did not do that. Of course I do not mean to say that there were not some Pharisees who might have seen Christ for who He is and put their faith and trust in Him.

    In term of the papists, I’ll admit I do not know enough of Calvin’s teachings or beliefs there to comment.

    I know many people today in my life who desire or seek the benefits of God. I know many who desire or seek forgiveness, love, truth, purpose, freedom from guilt, etc. But desiring or seeking the benefits of God is not the same thing as desiring or seeking God.

    The Pharisee’s may have been desiring a lot of things. They may have been desiring to be saved from Rome. They may have been desiring to be saved from things in relation to seeking the benefits of God. But that is not what brings salvation.

    So are you saying that because God doesn’t save someone who desires any of those things but not Him, that makes his grace limited? If so then I would just say we have two totally different beliefs in how God saves.

    You mentioned Paul. You said prior to his conversion he was “trying his best to do what he thought was right and pleasing to God.”
    So are you saying that is enough? There was a “conversion”. A conversion from death to life. From lies to truth. Paul was wrong. So I would say the life Paul lived prior to that conversion was not enough to bring salvation. So why would it be for the Pharisees?

  • JohnH2

    The pharisees certainly did trust in their idea about a messiah, and Christ didn’t match what they were looking for (for one thing He only fulfilled about half of the scriptures that refer to the Messiah). Obviously we are judged individually so that speaking as a group of all Jews that were pharisees then until now is impossible; but all Israel will be saved, even if they are partially blind as to the things of God.

    God has mercy upon all so that all that do well and accept what God offers as a free gift to all when they have it presented to them by God through His Spirit by way of authorized messengers in God’s own time will be saved; whether they hear the gospel in life or in death as it is also preached to them that are dead. God is unwilling that any should perish, but wants all to come to repentance.

    I don’t know that it matters much why someone seeks to good or why they would desire what Christ has to offer when God deems fit to offer to them, just that they do seek to do good and do accept it when it is offered. Those that have not yet been given the opportunity by God are no more nor less deserving of that opportunity or of salvation than we are. We are all unworthy and imperfect so how can we boast against the natural branches or anyone else?

  • frjohnmorris

    You fail to understand the importance of the Incarnation. We are dead in our sins and cannot save ourselves. That part is right, but that is not the end of the story. The end is that God sent His Only Begotten Son to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Christ calls all men to be saved. John 2:2 “he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Romans 5:18 “Then as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.” You are right. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44. But through Christ the Father draws us to Him. John 12:32 “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
    That is not Arminianism, because it is what all the Fathers taught long before Jacob Arminius. Thus, God acted first for our salvation through Jesus Christ. Because God has taken the initiative trough Christ, we can use our free will to respond to His offer of salvation. Had God not acted first in the Incarnation, we could not save ourselves or use our free will to respond to God’s offer of salvation.
    The failure to take the Incarnation seriously, due to Calvin’s defective Nestorian Christology, is the fatal flaw with Reformed theology.

    Fr. John W. Morris

  • Phoenix

    I believe we agree on more than meets the eye John. Yes we were dead in our sins. So God did send His son Jesus to be the righteousness that we cannot attain in our deadness.

    Romans 8:3-4 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

    And yes I agree with Romans 5:18, that Christ is the expiation for the sins of the whole world. But you must not overlook what Jesus meant by “the world.” If Jesus goal was to save the whole world, meaning every man to ever have breath, then He would have greatly failed. Because as we know the road is narrow and few will find it.

    John 17:9 “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”

    Jesus Himself said that He was praying for those that the Father has given Him out of the world. Elsewhere in John chapter 6 Jesus says that all that the Father has given Him WILL come. As I pointed out in a previous post, Jesus doesnt say they might come or that he hopes they decide to come. Jesus says they will come. Now if you take the verse for what it just said, the implication would be that if the Father gave Jesus every person on earth, the would all come. But that is not the case.

    And yes I agree with the verse you mentioned John 12:32 “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”

    But you must define “all men” in context with the rest of scripture. John 3:16 for God so loved the world. If we ripped that verse out of context we could think Jesus meant every person in the world. But as pointed out in the verse above, Jesus plainly states He did not pray for the world, but for those the Father gave Him out of the world. The implication from that text is that there are some in the world that the Father did not give Jesus.

    Brothers in Christ who believe more in a free will version of salvation run into the same problem they face in Calvinism. Many free will advocates believe that predestination means that God looked down the passage of time and saw that in the future a person would or wouldnt choose him.

    And they believe that Calvinist portray an evil God because he has predetermined their fate. Here is my question. If God truly does create us all with free will, God would still create some beings knowing that they would reject him.

    Also consider prayer. If it is truly up to man regarding his salvation and choosing God, then why do we pray for souls to be saved? If I am praying for God to save one of my lost friends, by Arminian theology, wouldnt God have to look at me and say, “Well its up to them my hands are tied.”

    But with a sovereign God, I can boldly pray for God to melt hard hearts knowing that maybe my prayer was part of His sovereign plan all along.

    And yes brother, I agree with you that God loved us first. 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.” Why is it that he loved us, speaking of those the Father has given Christ, before we loved Him? Because of what Paul writes in Romans 3. That we were so utterly depraved in our sins that we couldnt have sought or understand God without His supernatural indwelling of regenerating a dead heart and bringing it new life.

    Without a sovereign God my free will to choose God played a part in my salvation. Therefore I was partly instrumental in my own salvation. But Ephesians 2:8 says it was His grace alone lest no man may boast. I know reformed theology gets a hard knock from much of the theological world. But honestly, no other doctrine gives more glory to God than saying He alone saved me when I was dead. That makes Jesus truly a savior. Thanks for your comments brother. God bless.

  • CroneEver

    Free will – what you do, say, think matters, because your choices lead to your ultimate destination.

    Predestination – what you do, say, think doesn’t matter, because your ultimate destination has already been decided by God, no matter what your behavior here on earth is.

    I’ve read Romans 9: “You will say to me then, “Why then does he [God] still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?”21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use?” And then follow two verses each beginning “What if God..” First of all, human beings do indeed have the right to argue with God, or Job is a pack of lies and shouldn’t be in the Bible. Same with Jonah, Abraham (remember his trying to save Sodom by arguing with God – and winning the argument?), and many more. Secondly, any phrase beginning with “what if God…” is a question, a hypothesis, a proposed scenario, not a statement of fact.

    More statements of Jesus indicate that what we think, say, and do matters (the parable of the Goats and Sheep alone; the “ask and ye shall receive”, even “Love your neighbor as yourself… go and do likewise”), i.e., free will than any that indicate predestination. Personally, I always give Jesus’ statements priority. I think He knew His Father better than Paul did.

  • http://www.stanrock.net/ Stan Patton

    Your train of thought has a logical error called “non sequitur.” You said,

    “What you do, say, think doesn’t matter, because your ultimate destination has already been decided.”

    From “Your ultimate destination is decided” to “What you do doesn’t matter” is a “non sequitur,” which means it doesn’t logically follow. Ultimate destinations are not all that matters. Clearly many more things matter than simply ultimate destinations.

    Further, the opposite case is self-defeating. If interim things do not matter, then any ultimate thing’s contingency on those interim things is absurd at best.

    If interim things do matter, then we can say the following about free will in a compatibilistic sense: “What you do, say, think matters, because your choices effectively dictate the winding path of your journey.”

    If interim things do matter, then we can say the following about predestination: “What you do, say, think matters, although your ULTIMATE destination has already been decided by God.”

    Note that double predestination is irreconcilable with a loving and sovereign God if hell is “endless conscious torment.” Some other position must be adopted, like annihilationism or purgatorial universalism.

  • Zach Anderson

    One word, Amen. Two words, Amen, Brother.

  • Cindy Harthorne

    As with almost all theological discussions, I like to remember that nobody I know came to Christ as a result of knowing or adhering to either sides of this debate, and nobody’s actual standing with God through Christ is in the least bit effected but this debate. Looking at the sparse appearance of the words ‘predestinate’, and ‘predestined’ in scripture it does seem almost laughable that it has become such an issue. (Not really laughable though because of some of the attitudes it engenders). In Romans 8, the key phrase to me is ‘For those God foreknew’, and that just really bugs us as controlling little finite humans, does it not, that God knows the future and plans good things for us accordingly, and we don’t! We really hate that. In Ephesians 1, I think another key phrase is ‘ you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit’, and we know the from Acts 2 that, “The promise (of the Holy Spirit) is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” and from the same, ‘Those who accepted his message were baptized’. Your relationship analogy, Ben, is wonderful then at showing that there is an offer, (or calling), and an acceptance of the offer. ” For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” Titus 2:11. I have never been able to accept Calvinism because it seems like a reactionary doctrine born out of a fear of us offending God’s sovereignty, of which He is not the least bit insecure about, and it really doesn’t fit in with what we know about how God has interacted with us even looking at the story of Adam and Eve. Talking about it is good because the doctrine can become a toxic agent, in my opinion.

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

    Well written, all too often doctrine is raised to the level of holy writ. We all too often believe that our imperfect understanding of God’s Grace is so much better than other people’s imperfect understanding, when in truth we all see through “a glass darkly.”

  • Al Cruise

    “You and I are free to accept or reject” What happens if you reject? Discussing the answer to that question is the most important discussion we can have. It’s the real reason these blogs exist.

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    Agreed. Working on a post to that affect.

  • http://www.stanrock.net/ Stan Patton

    Hey Benjamin! My advice would be not to get up-a-tree on this issue just yet.

    First, it’s vitally important to recognize that there are different “kinds” of concepts that can be called “free will.”

    (1) There’s libertarian free will, which is the idea that a part of us is uncaused somehow. We “default” to this kind of free will because we don’t have a visceral sense of the emergence of our thoughts from the underlying brain activity. Furthermore, other people’s behavior surprises us, and we surprise ourselves, giving us the illusion of “absolute spontaneity.” But absolute spontaneity would be a curse, not a blessing; I am most efficacious when what I do is 100% a product of who I am. And who I am is of what I’m constituted. I want my decisions to be caused!

    (2) There’s compatibilistic free will. Compatibilistic free will says, “When you say free will, what are you saying the will is free FROM?” Freedom doesn’t mean anything in a vacuum. “Buy one, get one free,” for example, means “buy one, get one free of cost” or “of charge.” Compatibilistic free will says, “Our will is never perfectly free from anything. But we can talk about the DEGREE to which our wills are free from various real patterns we find meaningfully oppressive — like a terrorist threatening my life, or a government intruding into my bedroom with legislation.”

    Justin Martyr in the 2nd century was the first Christian to say, “[Libertarian] free will is required for genuine love.” It’s a very nice-sounding argument, but I have a problem with it for a few reasons.

    First, it commits a persuasive definition fallacy. “Genuine love” is like a “true Scotsman.” I believe that I’m a causal creature, deciding things EXACTLY according to who I am, and yet… I genuinely love all sorts of things! I love God. I love my wife. I love my friends. I love my family. Woe to him that claims that I don’t! And I have no problem saying any of this, even though I have no reason to think that my will acts like some ghostly, transcendent, spontaneous actor.

    Second, libertarian free will has never been coherently defined. That “somehow” up there in #1 was there for a reason. Nobody has been able to define it positively in a way that makes any sense whatsoever. The definitions are always full of “somehows” and “in some way that makes X, Y and Z not come to pass.” This, counterintuitively, makes it a VERY POWERFUL concept. Here’s why: http://stanrock.net/2014/03/04/logical-wildcards/

    And the fact that it’s a super-powerful concept is problematic for the following reason: It has been used like a shoehorn to justify injustice. When you treat responsibility like some “buck stops here” bauble that bounces around until it finds its “proper place,” you ignore all of the institutional, causal ways that can mess people up.

    Stay on the fence and keep the conversation going. There are some amazing ways to reconcile the theology at play, WITHOUT becoming an Open Theist, NOR becoming a Calvinist.

  • Josh

    It’s times like this that I’m glad God transcends the dualities implicit in earthly notions of “accept/reject,” and that the eventual salvation of everything and everyone is certain. As much as a good parent gives their child as much freedom as possible in order to grow, there are times when their ultimate responsibility also leads them to forcibly grab their child by the hand to prevent them from running into the street or off a side of a mountain. So it is with God. Freedom is given so that Love may grow. But Love is the Primal Unity. It is Alpha and Omega. We are born from Love, we journey with Love, and unto Love, we shall return. As the old Petra song said, “Can’t get away from your Love.” Some of us find this threatening and coercive, I can only imagine. Others of us, myself including, are gratified and profoundly relieved that God is Perfect Love, and that Reality, in the final analysis, is not the do-or-die, zero-sum game our (precious) Earthly existence so often is.

  • Y. A. Warren

    Perhaps, when we stop looking at the Old Testament as a how-to manual, and simply see it as the ways our ancient ancestors perceived The Sacred Spirit in their lives, we can stop these discussions about a loving versus vengeful “god.” The very word “god” seems to be borrowed from the ancient pagans. The Holy (Sacred) Spirit embodied in humanity is what we “modern” humans are told to seek.

    What is important post-Pentecost is to embrace the Sacred Spirit in our own lives and recognize it in others. We are all physical manifestations of The Sacred Spirit, which always was and always will be. We can either grow or diminish our interface with The Sacred in ourselves and other. The flame of faith grows one relationship at a time, as Jesus exemplified with his life on earth, for all eternity.

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    Food for thought, I am going to explain this in a way that some may not have heard, to attempt to explain where those of us in the “calvinist” camp are coming from. Please know my heart in this is not to cause dissension, I believe that whether you land in the “free will camp” or the “predestination camp”, as long as you know the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is no need for those camps to war with each other. I pray that this comes in love, not arrogance or as noisy gong or clanging cymbal.That said, if you take offense or would like to discuss anything I state below please feel free to contact me.

    We have a free will, yes that is true, God also has a free will, yet He does not sin. Why is this? It is because God is love (1 John 4), He is holy (Isaiah 6), He is just (2 Thessalonians 1), He is righteous (Psalm 36), and due to His nature He freely chooses to do that which is loving, holy, right and just. We are corrupted by a sinful nature, our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17) we are slaves to sin (John 8) Therefore our sinful nature constrains our free will to choose to do only that which is sinful and wicked. We are like the demon possessed man in Mark 5, we can think ourselves free (as he was from all earthly shackles and authority) but as he was bound spiritually, so are we. In our wickedness we will not choose God, we are His enemies, we are opposed to Him (Romans 8) Man still has a free will. Every man willingly chooses to deny God. We all know Him (Romans 1) and yet due to our desperately wicked hearts we all chose to become His adversary, and to side with the prince of this earth, that is Satan. (Ephesians 2) It is also stated in the Ephesians 2 “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…” If you are dead, then you are unable to resuscitate yourself, rather another has to bring you to life. Would a desperately wicked heart willingly choose God? Or are we so desperately wicked, so dead, that until He calls to us and says “Come out” (John 11) we are nothing
    but rotting, smelling corpses? I believe that man is far more depraved than we
    could ever dream. . In John 6 Christ lays the foundation for
    the doctrine of election by stating “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and all who come to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but to do the will of Him who sent me. And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last
    day.” If it is the will of God that all He gives to the Son have eternal life, then there is a guarantee that those He chose to give the Son are eternally secured, seemingly from before time. In Romans 9 Paul explains that God prepared beforehand vessels for mercy, while He endured with vessels bound for wrath. I do not believe that God predestines man to go to hell, we damn ourselves with every day we live in rebellion to God. I do read the text to say that He prepared beforehand, which seems to point clearly to the doctrine of election. Finally in Romans 8 it says “For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be
    conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn
    among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called,
    and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified
    He also glorified.”

    It’s obvious that He foreknew, He had to in order to write the names of the saints in the Lambs book of life before creation. (Revelation 13) Then comes the word that trips us up, He predestined the saints. The Greek word used here is proorizo and it literally means to “limit in advance”. Those God limited in advance, those He selected from before time, they were called, and if He called then they were justified. It doesn’t say that some He called refused, it says that all He calls are justified.

    Again, I am not trying to sound defensive or offensive here, I am simply trying to bring in a different perspective in love. Iron sharpens iron, and I know that I at least could always stand to be sharpened.

  • JohnH2

    God destroyed the people at the time of the flood due to them only choosing wickedness continually, so since we have not been consumed yet as Sodom that means that we still do and are capable of choosing life as exhorted to do by Moses. Our sins constrain our agency, but do not destroy it, and it is our own consciousness which condemns, and sometimes defends us in our actions. Even to Cain it was said that if he did well he would be accepted of God, and God can not lie so therefore Cain must have had the ability within to choose life and do well.

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    I am not asking this question in ignorance, I want to clarify how I am understanding the reference to the flood. Are you saying that humanity has somehow changed since the state of the flood? Or simply stating that those people were more wicked than we are? As far as Cain, you are correct, if he did well he would be accepted of God, and God does not lie. God told the Israelite’s that if they obeyed the law to it’s full extent they would be accepted by Him as well, yet to obey the law is impossible for humans. God was not lying when He told Cain that, but simply because He instructed Cain to do well does not mean that Cain was capable of doing well. In Romans 7:18 Paul says “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” In our flesh there is no good, only in the Spirit can we do anything for the glory of God. We do not receive His Spirit until salvation, an unregenerated person cannot receive the Spirit of God. According to Paul we do not have the ability to do good unless we are empowered by the Spirit of God. Therefore we are unable to choose to do what is right because our flesh is completely corrupted. Again, please take all of this in love and know that I am in no way questioning your faith or salvation, we both agree on the gospel and that’s all that matters to me. I love to discuss this doctrine, but I don’t want it to be a point of divisiveness. I pray that I nothing I say would be offensive unless it is the Truth of God.

  • JohnH2

    I am saying that we do not as yet choose only wickedness, contrary to the time of the flood.

    God does not give impossible commands; that would make Him to not be just; He always provides a way that we can do what He commands. There would be no point in God instructing Cain if Cain could not have done otherwise.

    Earlier in Romans 2 Paul explains that even the Gentiles that had no knowledge or grace of God were able to do what was right according to the law that is written in each of our hearts by God and are justified for so doing. We all fail to always do what we know to be right, but we have the capability to do what is right. We do not need to have something brought down from heaven to be able to choose right and do good, the way is written in our hearts and is constantly before us per Deuteronomy.

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    I would disagree and say that we do choose wickedness, looking to the passage of Romans 7 that we can do no good in our flesh, and in Jeremiah 17 that our hearts are desperately wicked. We either glorify God with our actions, or we glorify ourselves. I think it is the definition of wickedness that might be an issue here, wickedness may not always seem outwardly evil. However, even “good” deeds are nothing but filthy rags, the only things we actually do that are excellent are works of the Spirit. (Isaiah 64) Christ doesn’t look to our actions, but to our hearts, our wickedness is rooted in the fact that we do good things for our glory instead of His. So I believe that there is no goodness in man.

    Do you believe that any human can fulfill the law in the Old Testament? God commanded Israel to obey His law, and yet they were unable to do so. If we could obey the law of our own accord, why did we need Christ to die for us?

    Yes, the law is written on our hearts, but the point that Paul was making is that God is just in His condemnation of all men, for all men are guilty before God because of His law written on their hearts. Man is without excuse for his evil, but is still completely unable to do any good. I know of no human that can adequately follow the law of Deuteronomy 100% of the time, therefore we do need something from Heaven, Jesus Christ and the Helper He has sent.

    I say this to you in love as a fellow brother in Christ. All glory be to Him,
    Luke

  • JohnH2

    Christ was a human, and he kept the law perfectly and was able to do good, and said that if we do what He taught that we would know for ourselves whether He spake of Himself or was of God, implying that we have the ability to actually do good; He invites us to come, and follow him meaning we have the ability to come. He also says that it is not those that say “Lord, Lord” but those that do, and that those that do not know to say “Lord, Lord” but feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick will be accepted. Pure religion is to assist the poor and afflicted, so I don’t know where you get the insane idea that doing so is “evil”, you have twisted good and evil past the breaking point.

    Christ is the light of the world and the law is written in our hearts and we are quite capable of showing that law by our actions, meaning we are capable of goodness. Not being 100% perfect does not mean we are hated of God and not able to do any good or follow God at all; the Grace of Christ is sufficient to cover our weaknesses but we show our faith by our works, and this even if we don’t believe equally but follow whatever partial light we do have. We come to be perfected in Christ, our dross is burnt and our gold refined, but for that to happen we can not possibly be all dross, but must already have within us the gold.

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    Christ was human yes, and yet He was also fully God. In order to be a perfect mediator He had to represent both man and God fully, thus the incarnation. He came “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8) but not as sinful flesh, He came as humanity was originally designed, without sin. Due to His deity He was able to live life as God intended, for He was God and His nature was perfect and holy. The good in feeding and clothing the poor, and assisting the poor and afflicted is found in the glory it ascribes to God. If I feed the hungry and clothe the naked simply because it makes me feel good, then it is indeed evil for I do it for my glory alone and am idolizing myself and failing to worship God. To worship an idol is a sin, an idol is merely anything we ascribe glory to other than God, and when I do the most humanitarian things without having my motivation be the glory of God, I am committing idolatry and sinning, thus what may look good is in truth evil. This is strictly Biblical and I will point you to many texts which state that God does not care for the righteous or good works of man if the heart is not in the right place. Buddhists do good deeds, yet they will not experience eternal life with God because they fail to do their good deeds for His glory. I fully agree that true faith shows fruit, and that it is best shown to the world by our actions, however these come out of our salvation, they do not produce it.

    The gold in us is that we are all made in the image of God, this is the moral law written on our hearts, and yet no man is righteous, all fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3) I do not believe that truth is relative, eternal life is knowing God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ (John 17) To know only part of the light is not sufficient to scatter the darkness or release us from our bondage. If we take a half truth, and make it a whole truth, we end up with no truth in the end. By the blood of Christ we are made 100% perfect in the sight of God, sin still dwells in us (Romans 7 & 8) but the Spirit of God is stronger and progressively makes us holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1)

    With love in Christ, for His glory,
    Luke

  • JohnH2

    I am sorry, your position and understanding of the meaning of those scriptures is too different and my mind recoils in horror at attempting to understand how keeping the second great commandment is evil, or even trying understand what good and evil means under what you are saying.

    From a tree in a garden long ago we all have a knowledge of good and evil, the same knowledge that God has on that subject (Genesis 3:22). We don’t need someone to go to heaven to get that knowledge but it is a free gift to all, and woe unto them that call evil good and good evil; for we are judged according to our works and the grace of Christ.

    For Christ to have meant anything at all he must have been fully human and be subject to precisely the same situation as we face each day. He had to have suffered the temptation just as the very weakest of us face or the entire thing is a lie and mockery.

    The Buddhists have works, you have faith, the Devils also believe and tremble, show the Buddhists your faith without works and they will show you the way by their works, for Christ is the way. God grants to all that portion of His word that He sees fit in wisdom they should receive and when we are in the service of our fellow man we are only in the service of God; that same God that desires all men to be saved.

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    I am sorry that those scriptures cause you horror, I am not saying that keeping the second commandment is evil, but there was an intentional order to the commands. First love the Lord your God with all that is within you, then love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12) You cannot truly love your neighbor if you do not first love God. The love of God is an ocean, it’s depths unsearchable, it’s mysteries unattainable, it rushes over us like a raging river. We are the streams that can only carry love to the world if we are being fed by His love.

    I agree, we all have a knowledge of good and evil, yet not always the wisdom to discern between it. Solomon prayed for wisdom and asked that He know the difference between good and evil, we know they both exist, but often fail to discern between the two. We are judged according to our works, and our works are filth apart from Christ and His grace. (Romans 5)

    I agree, and never claimed that Christ was anything less than fully human. I’m sorry if it seemed like I was saying that. He was fully man and fully God. He underwent any trial we could ever face, and He overcame them all because He was fully God. (John 17)

    There is but one way to heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ, belief in His death and resurrection. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life (John 14) Paul says that we cannot be saved if we have not heard (Romans 10) Without hearing and believing in the work of Christ at the cross, none can be save, therefore Buddhists do not show the way by their works, they simply pave the path to hell with good intentions. I do not say that lightly, it grieves me to think that any should perish, just as it grieves my Father, yet man chooses to reject Him, and He allows them to do so. We all run headlong off a cliff, God in His mercy chooses to stop some of us, and allows the rest of us to choose our fate. The only difference between those in heaven and those in hell is that God looks to those in heaven and says “My will be done” and He looks to those in hell and says “Thy will be done” If you live in or around the St. Louis area I would love to meet with you face to face sometime John, I feel that this conversation would be much more beneficial to both of us if it were continued in person. I pray that God will open both of our eyes to His truth daily, and that if there are areas we are wrong we would have the humility to accept that and to learn who He truly is.

    With love in Christ Jesus,
    Luke

  • JohnH2

    You can not reject what you have never been offered and have no ability to accept; it is not the scriptures that cause me horror, it is your twisting of them to be directly contrary to what they so very plainly say. You say Lord Lord, and expect to be saved while damning to hell those that do not know so to say, when in truth as they act towards the least of these they will enter into the kingdom of heaven before you.

    Romans 10 is the perfect example, in it Paul says exactly the same thing about the Law which I have just said about the way, because Christ is the way. You make a mockery of God by twisting it to say that we cannot be saved if we have not heard, that is directly contrary to what Paul is saying in those verse. God is not a just God but a partial and variable God, and a respecter of persons if He damns those that have never heard the gospel but followed the good with their whole heart and would accept with gladness were it to be presented to them, which everyone will know for every knee will bow and every tongue confess as we will all be equal before the Lord. Boast not because you were grafted in, but fear and know that God has not cast off the rest, but reserved them to Himself.

    By one man we all die, and by one man we all live and all may be justified unto life as by a free gift to all. That man was Righteous because He choose to be in every instance and never failed, but He had the choice and glorified God, and was glorified of God, by drinking freely the bitter cup and suffering for all that we might not suffer if we would repent.

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    John, I do not twist the scriptures, I’m sorry if you feel that way. Romans 10 clearly shows that belief in Christ alone is redemptive, in fact the entire Bible shows the redemptive story of Christ. Again, if you are ever in the St. Louis area please feel free to contact me, I would love to meet with you. However, I will say that for one who speaks highly of love, and loving others, your ad hominem attacks are a poor display of the love you claim you believe in

    With love in Christ,
    Luke.

  • JohnH2

    ad hominem? I am referring to scripture the entire way through my response, I figured you would be familiar enough to know the references and follow the argument. But apparently you read your favorite parts of Romans in complete isolation to the rest of Romans.

    I am not the one that speaks of the love and goodness of God and in the same breath damns nearly everyone that ever lived and the majority of people alive today.

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    John, I know that you refer to scripture, but you also tend to attack me personally. I have read, and studied Romans in depth, I do not isolate scripture. Also, I damn nobody to hell, humanity does this to themselves when they deny God. I believe in God, and that this life is all about Him, anything less than His glory is evil, for He is good and His glory is good, and is the only good. I live for the glory of God, I am not sorry that this offends you, for the gospel is a stumbling block. I want you to know that I do not hate or condemn any man, I will love saint and sinner alike as my Savior did, I will however speak truth in love.

    With love in Christ Jesus, one part of the Three in One and One in Three, the Eternal Word made Incarnate Flesh for the sins of the world, to Him be glory forever and ever, amen.

    Luke

  • JohnH2

    Even where you think I am attacking you personally is also a reference to Romans.

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    Perhaps I misunderstood you, I do not see how attacking by saying I twist scriptures in a horrifying way is a reference to Romans.

    With love in Christ,
    Luke

  • JohnH2

    Sorry, that one is Peter in reference to Romans (as Peter was writing to the Romans as well).

  • http://hopelesslyfoundmusic.com Luke Denner

    John, I still do not understand how one relates to the other, but that is ok, I pray that we will both draw to the truth that God has revealed in scripture. One last time I will say that if you are in the St. Louis Area please feel free to contact me, I would love to have coffee with you sometime.

    With love in Christ,
    Luke

  • The Thinking Commenter

    Yes, God is the initiator– God is the one taking the initiative to make the proposal.

    Haven’t heard a peep. What about you guys. Do you hear voices and see invisible things and things like that? Why are you lying and saying God does things like that when you don’t know. Why are you talking like you definitively know what you are talking about, when it’s only something that you just believe. You should say that pastors say God does this and that, and old books get interpreted as saying that God does this and that. That way you won’t be lying and pretending like you know something you can’t possibly know at all. Unless maybe you hear the invisible voices or see the invisible things or whatnot. Then I would just have to take your word for it, with the reservation that you might still be lying but more flagrantly lying like the TV psychics and faith healers. There are people who will read this thinking you know what you are talking about when it’s only something you just believe. Are you pretending like you know what you are talking about so as to impress those people?

  • http://www.formerlyfundie.com/ Benjamin L. Corey

    I’m a theologian. We discuss these things. If you’re not interested in theology, there are plenty of other blogs where you can troll.