The Nature of the Man vs. The Nature of the Gospel

Even if we concede the debate over the nature of man and affirm with our Calvinistic brethren that mankind is born dead, enslaved and totally depraved, does this concession end the debate over Total Inability?

No.

The question is whether or not the nature of the GOSPEL, God’s inspired Word, is sufficient to enable a fallen man to respond to its appeal?  Focusing only on the nature of man ignores this question.  Is the WORD of God, that which brought everything into existence, sufficiently powerful to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent?

I cannot imagine a bible believing Christian would deny the power of God’s inspired truth to accomplish its purpose.  So, what is that purpose?

Why did God have these inspired truths recorded for us and spread into the world?  Let’s allow John to answer that question for us:

 “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31)

Can that be any more clear?  If not, maybe this clarifies:

“And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:19-20)

And here is the words of Christ himself:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

Clearly the purpose of the gospel truth is so that those who hear it may believe. The only people who hear the gospel that would not be enabled to believe it are those that have become judicially hardened or blinded from being able to see, hear, understand and turn (John 12:39-41; Acts 28:27-28; Romans 11).

Obviously Paul felt the inspired scriptures were sufficient to grant mankind the understanding for salvation, as he wrote to Timothy:

“…from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:15-16)

208 thoughts on “The Nature of the Man vs. The Nature of the Gospel

  1. Don’t forget these verses which speak of the power of God’s inspired truth:
    2Tim 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
    2Tim 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
    2Tim 3:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
    2Cor 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
    Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
    Heb 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

  2. Pastor Flowers,

    You propose that all are born with the ability to believe the gospel. Rather than the Calvinist conclusion that all born with the inability to believe the gospel, you propose that all are born with the potential to believe the gospel. Then, some are judicially hardened or blinded and thereby rendered unable to believe. Those who retain the ability to believe the gospel can then choose to believe or not believe.

    by identifying those who are hardened or blinded, you recognize that there is an “inability to believe the gospel” that accounts for some not believing. The question is whether an “inability to believe the gospel” accounts for all who do not believe.

    Those not hardened or blinded are then free to believe or not believe. Those who believe are able to believe the gospel. What about those who choose not to believe? Did they actually choose not to believe or were they in the hardened and blinded group all along? If the gospel is sufficient to enable a fallen person to respond to the gospel, then that sufficiency should result in all who are not hardened/blinded believing the gospel. If a person were to choose not to believe, then we would conclude that the gospel was not sufficient to enable that person to believe (at the least calling into question what you mean by “sufficient.”).

    At the very least, there is agreement with the Calvinist that an “inability to believe” accounts for many, if not all, of the non-elect. You just don’t want people to be born in that condition. However, whether born that way or later hardened/blinded, the effect is the same. The elect are able to believe and do so; the non-elect are unable to believe and do not believe.

  3. rhutchin: … The elect are able to believe and do so; the non-elect are unable to believe and do not believe.
    ……………………………………….
    Is it due to God’s decree, or man’s free will to choose to believe or reject?

    1. Peanutgallery asked, “Is it due to God’s decree, or man’s free will to choose to believe or reject?”

      The initial condition of the depraved sinner is that his will is not free; he is a slave to sin. His nature is to reject the gospel. God then frees his will giving him a freedom to choose that he did not have before. With this new freedom of will, the person chooses salvation. Of course, all this was known to God before He created the world, so we can also say that God decreed all that occurred.

      1. You assert that the lost man’s “nature is to reject the gospel.” But where does the bible specifically say this? A verse referencing the gospel would be appreciated. It seems unrealistic to suggest that God decreed for mankind to be born unable to respond to His own appeal to reconciled from the fallen condition because of his fallen condition. If a verse teaches this specifically, I’d love to see it.

        The only passages which suggest mankind cannot see, hear, understand and repent are those which speak of men becoming judicially hardened, not a natural condition from birth….like Acts 28:27-28

        You also say, “all this was known to God before He created the world, so we can also say that God decreed all that occurred,” and this seems to presume foreknowledge is causal, but again that is a point up for debate.

        Thanks for your input!

      2. “You assert that the lost man’s “nature is to reject the gospel.” But where does the bible specifically say this?”

        For this, we take Paul’s testimony in 1 Corinthians 1 –

        17 For Christ sent me…to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
        18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish [that have been hardened/blinded] foolishness; but unto us which are saved [have been made alive] it is the power of God…
        22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
        23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
        24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

        At the least, those who have been hardened/blinded consider the gospel to be foolishness. Paul writes more in chap 2:

        12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
        13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
        14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
        15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
        16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

        Here it says that those who spirit of God receive the things of God (including the gospel) but the natural man who has not the spirit of God does not receive the gospel because it is foolishness to him. Thus, we can conclude that the natural man – the general designation of the unsaved – cannot respond to the gospel because he does not have the spirit of God (this could mean that he is hardened/blinded from the beginning).

        So, the lost are described as “the natural man” and this furthered described as those without the spirit of God. Without the spirit of God, the natural man – the unsaved/lost – regards the gospel as foolishness.

      3. “You also say, “all this was known to God before He created the world, so we can also say that God decreed all that occurred,” and this seems to presume foreknowledge is causal, but again that is a point up for debate.”

        Not that foreknowledge of future events causes them, but those means that comprise foreknowledge – for example God knows that He will destroy Sodom/Gomorrah, impregnate Mary, allow Satan to enter Judas, confront Saul on the road to Damascus, give John a revelation on Patmos, etc. Foreknowledge is never causal, but it is certain and cannot change.

      4. I wasn’t saved because of my ‘free will’, I was saved because of a ‘freed’ will and God opened heart that had as it’s greatest desire the Cross of Christ.

      5. Pastor Flowers writes, “Freed by the powerful gospel truth.”

        True, but only God’s elect are freed by that gospel and are saved. Those not elect are not freed, else they too would be saved by that same powerful gospel. One person is different than the other; one is freed by the gospel; one is not freed by the gospel.

      6. “True, but only God’s elect are freed by that gospel and are saved.”
        ………………………………….
        God’s elect are in Christ; would they not be already free and saved without the gospel?

      7. peanutgallery writes, “God’s elect are in Christ; would they not be already free and saved without the gospel?’

        People are formally identified as being “God’s elect” at the point where they have an encounter with Christ (whatever form that takes). Paul had his encounter on the road to Damascus. We also read, “…a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Based on these descriptions, we would identify both Paul and Lydia as being God’s elect.

        Paul tells us, “…when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles,…I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.” Can, we say that Paul was essentially “in Christ” before his Damascus road experience? In Ephesians 1, Paul writes, “…[God] chose [him] in [Christ] before the creation of the world…” So, Paul was chosen in Christ before the creation of the world, but Paul did not come to know Christ until his Damascus road experience. Prior to the Damascus road, Paul was slave to sin; afterwards, Paul is free.

        So, we should not conclude that because God’s elect are in Christ, that they free and saved without the gospel. Jesus told His disciples that it is through the Scriptures that a person comes to know truth and truth sets a person free. The gospel sets people free – the question that has perplexed people is why the gospel does not set everyone free. The answer to that question led the Calvinists to TULIP as an explanation.

      8. rhutchin:
        “The gospel sets people free – the question that has perplexed people is why the gospel does not set everyone free. The answer to that question led the Calvinists to TULIP as an explanation.”
        …………………
        Should have led them to God’s inspired word instead.

        BTW, Lydia worshipped God before he opened her heart; unregenerates are not suppose to be able to do that according to Total Depravity/Inability.

      9. Concerning Lydia and her ability to ‘worship’ God, I think she can be compared to Cornelius, who was a God ‘worshiper’ also. One might be able to call both, and others, as genuine seekers, believers in the ‘promised’ Messiah rather than trusting in their works for their eternal destiny. All men are saved by faith. In the OT it was genuine faith in the ‘promise’ (think Abraham). After the resurrection faith is placed in the fulfillment of the ‘promise’. I would also submit the thought that it is not the preaching/reading of the gospel message that frees the human will, but that when the gospel is applied to a heart already opened by God to hear and believe, there is salvation. Perhaps the reason why one person sitting with five others in the hearing of the gospel being preached, is actually saved. The difference is the God opened heart (freed will).

      10. Born4Battle:
        “One might be able to call both, and others, as genuine seekers,”
        ………………
        What defines a genuine seeker?

      11. The God opened heart defines the true seeker. Man, in his natural state, does not seek God See Romans 3:11 and also the OT texts referenced there. This would also imply that regeneration precedes faith and that it is necessary to be ‘born again’ before being able to see God. Jesus actually said that to Nicodemus.

      12. Born4Battle:
        Man, in his natural state, does not seek God See Romans 3:11 and also the OT texts referenced there.
        ………………………
        The context is in regards to fools.

        Psalm 14:1 THE fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
        Psalm 14:2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
        Psalm 14:3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

      13. Psalm 14:1 THE fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
        Psalm 14:2 The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
        Psalm 14:3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

        The fool does say in his heart there is no God. It is indeed foolish to deny what one knows to be true. Verse 1 does define who is a fool. Verses 2 & 3 refer to ‘the children of men’, which includes of course those who would say in their hearts that there is no God. The point being made about the children of men in the Psalm and by Paul in Romans 3 is exactly that men, by nature, do not seek God.

      14. Born4Battle:
        The point being made about the children of men in the Psalm and by Paul in Romans 3 is exactly that men, by nature, do not seek God.
        ……………………
        And yet:

        Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
        Acts 17:27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

      15. PeanutGallery quotes Acts” 17:27 That they should seek the Lord,…”

        Adam/Eve had everything they needed – yet, they were not content to obey God. Man (people) have every incentive to seek God – yet, they are not content to do so. Too busy, I guess. God draws some to Christ and not others, God opens the hearts of those He draws to Christ and not others. If God did not save a person – We are saved by grace – none would be saved as none have time for God even though “he be not far from every one of us:” Jesus said, “How much more will God give good things to those who ask Him.” Such a great obligation He puts on God – yet none seek God much less ask Him for anything so God seeks His lost sheep.

      16. PeanutGallery writes, “Should have led them to God’s inspired word instead.”

        It actually did. It was through the study of the Scriptures that the Calvinists arrived at several conclusions represented by the acronym, TULIP. I think the actual acronym, TULIP, was developed as a consequence of a response to the Remonstrants who really could have done more study of the Scriptures.

        PeanutGallery writes, “BTW, Lydia worshipped God before he opened her heart;”

        That’s interesting. Had God not opened her heart and she had not responded to Paul’s message, what would that have meant? I’ll have to look at that some more.

      17. rhutchin:
        That’s interesting. Had God not opened her heart and she had not responded to Paul’s message, what would that have meant?
        ……………………………..
        She feared God as an unregenerate; here is what scripture states:
        Psalm 25:12 What man is he that feareth the LORD ? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.

      18. PeanutGallery writes, “She feared God as an unregenerate; here is what scripture states:
        Psalm 25:12 What man is he that feareth the LORD ? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.”

        Is this not the case for God’s elect. Paul says, in Romans 9 that, the Jews “they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge,” and later in Romans 11, “Did God reject his people? By no means!…So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.”

        In Ephesians 1, Paul writes, “God chose us in him before the creation of the world…God predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ…In Christ we have redemption through his blood,…in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

        By “us,” we understand God’s elect so Romans 8, “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.”

        So, the question becomes, Why does one person fear God and another does not? Why is Lydia a worshipper of God, but none of those around her? Why does Lydia respond to Paul’s message of the gospel with the result that “she and the members of her household were baptised”? Should we not conclude that Lydia was among those whom God had chosen before He created the world?

        So, in the end, those who come to genuinely seek God are those whom God has chosen, and it is God who draws them to Christ in some manner (for Lydia, God opened her heart as she heard the gospel preached by Paul).

        Is there anything in the Scripture that argues that those not chosen by God ever seek God?

      19. Roger, would you be willing to admit that the Jews mentioned as having a zeal for God (Rom 10) included more than just the ones you think were previously chosen?

      20. I understand Paul to be speaking of all Jews. So, we have Paul preaching to the Jews who have a zeal for God telling them that they are not saved and must believe in Christ. I bet that didn’t go over well.

      21. rhutchin:
        “So, the question becomes, Why does one person fear God and another does not? Why is Lydia a worshipper of God, but none of those around her? Why does Lydia respond to Paul’s message of the gospel with the result that “she and the members of her household were baptised”? Should we not conclude that Lydia was among those whom God had chosen before He created the world?”
        …………………
        Why should we conclude that?

      22. OK. That is one conclusion that we can draw. Then there is the conclusion you draw which is….?

  4. rhutchin: … His nature is to reject the gospel. God then frees his will giving him a freedom to choose that he did not have before.
    …………………………
    The gospel is not quite powerful enough, contrary to Rom 1:16 and Heb 4:12?

    1. Peanutgallery writes, “The gospel is not quite powerful enough, contrary to Rom 1:16 and Heb 4:12?”

      On the contrary, the gospel is powerful and unless a person has been judicially hardened or blinded, he will believe that gospel. Unless the will of the person has been compromised and is not free, he cannot but respond favorably and freely to the gospel – such is its power.

      1. The texts I presented say that the gospel is sent so that “they may believe,” not that they certainly will do so. People are able to trade truth in for lies, even if those truths are abundantly clear (Rom. 1).

  5. Peanutgallery writes, “The texts I presented say that the gospel is sent so that “they may believe,” not that they certainly will do so.”

    The preaching of the gospel is necessary to salvation but not sufficient – for example, those hardened/blinded cannot respond to the gospel and they cannot believe.

    If a person has free will, there is nothing to prevent them believing the gospel. The gospel presents a choice with an obvious outcome except to those from whom the gospel is hidden (through hardening/blinding, for example).

    Peanutgallery writes, “People are able to trade truth in for lies, even if those truths are abundantly clear (Rom. 1).”

    Able to but not realistically. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free.” The power of the gospel overcomes lies and produces salvation (except where the person is hardened/blinded, for example).

  6. This discussion is a good one! Could we consider a third position. I think we all agree that the gospel is not powerful enough without the moving of the Spirit to enlighten (John 1:9), convict (John 16:8-9) and draw (John 12:32) the individual to apprehend its meaning and to comprehend its necessity. The Calvinist believes without biblical proof that only those born again can experience such knowledge. The Arminian tends to believe that all, from birth, until some point of judicial hardening, have prevenient grace at all times to accept or reject the gospel.

    I propose that God gives every unbeliever the ability, at least once for a season, and often more than once in answer to other believers’ prayers, to know the gospel with the enlightenment and conviction necessary for a decision to be made for it, but also still with the ability to freely reject it. “Now is the accepted time” (2Cor. 6:2) and “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (Heb. 3:7-8) are passages that teach this. If they reject, they are not guaranteed another conviction/enlightenment moment, and they stand justly condemned for their free rejection of salvation. They can not voice the reasonable excuse – “God, you never gave me the ability to believe the gospel and yet you hold me responsible for rejecting it!”

    The discussion of foreknowledge is a red-herring! There is no way for the Calvinist to prove that God has ordained all future events, especially by just showing that He has ordained some of them. I agree that individual election would logically necessitate the preordination of all events in human history, but our brother Flowers has adequately taught the reasonableness of corporate election in Scripture as opposed to individual election.

    1. brianwagner writes, “I propose that God gives every unbeliever the ability, at least once for a season, and often more than once in answer to other believers’ prayers, to know the gospel with the enlightenment and conviction necessary for a decision to be made for it, but also still with the ability to freely reject it.”

      The salvation decision is a no-brainer. Consider that you need gas for your car. One gas station is selling gas for $100 a gallon and another for $1 a gallon. Which gas station do you buy gas from? The choice is obvious. Now exaggerate the difference – eternal life vs eternal death. Which does a person choose? The choice is, again, obvious. No one freely rejects salvation – unless their free will has been compromised.

      So, why do people reject salvation. Two causes have bee cited that compromise free will: judicial hardening and blindness. Absent these two causes (and any others), no one rejects salvation even if they have the ability to do so. So, under your proposal, all will be saved excluding those God judicially hardens or who are blinded by Satan (which cannot happen without God’s concurrence).

      1. Rhutchin: No one freely rejects salvation – … no one rejects salvation even if they have the ability to do so.
        ……………………………….
        No one rejects salvation, per se; they will not have God reign over them. Luke 19:14

      2. Thank you Rhutchin for your thoughtful reply! I think you recognized that you offered a false disjunctive syllogism, when you mentioned “and any others”… For there are reasonably other causes for rejecting salvation besides blindness and judicial hardening. And those other causes make your premise “no one rejects salvation even if they have the ability to do so” much more untenable. I would agree with you that all our free wills are compromised before salvation, and I would assume you agree that they remain somewhat compromised even after regeneration, because of our flesh (cf. Rom 7).

        So if we can still use our free wills to sin against God’s declarative will, even after we are saved, then it would not be hard to imagine that God could bring each man to a level of response-ability through enlightenment, conviction, and drawing so that they become able to accept or to reject His declarative will in the gospel. The only reason a Calvinist does not want to believe this is possible, as far as I can see, is because He does not believe God would want to give every one such an ability, since to do so would undercut his belief in a pre-ordained individual election.

      3. peanutgallery writes, “No one rejects salvation, per se; they will not have God reign over them. Luke 19:14.”

        People reject salvation because they have been judicially hardened or blinded. That rejection is evidence that their will is not free but has been compromised. The person with free will does not reject salvation.

      4. brianwagner writes, “I think you recognized that you offered a false disjunctive syllogism, when you mentioned “and any others”… For there are reasonably other causes for rejecting salvation besides blindness and judicial hardening. And those other causes make your premise “no one rejects salvation even if they have the ability to do so” much more untenable.”

        I guess we need to wait for you to identify any other causes that exist to determine if you are correct about my having presented a false disjunctive syllogism. I am confident that any causes you discover from the Scriptures will also involve a compromise of a person’s will so that my position that no one who has free will ever rejects salvation will continue uncontested.

      5. Hi Rhutchin, I am sorry if I was not clear enough in my second paragraph… but I was trying to explain that just as a believer has a will that is able to reject God’s declarative will, an unbeliever, even after he is enabled to accept the gospel would surely also still be able to reject God’s declarative will in the gospel. What would be the reasons that you and I as believers reject God’s will! Some of those same reasons to reject God’s will would understandably be available with the enlightened and convicted unbeliever who is enabled to accept the gospel. We reject God’s will often because of selfishness, pride, and fear, even though we are able to accept it and do it, so are they.

      6. brianwagner writes, “…an unbeliever, even after he is enabled to accept the gospel would surely also still be able to reject God’s declarative will in the gospel….We reject God’s will often because of selfishness, pride, and fear, even though we are able to accept it and do it, so are they.”

        Two things must be kept in mind: (1) the person’s will is free, and (2) the choice is between eternal life and eternal death. Selfishness would certainly decide for eternal life. Fear would certainly decide against eternal death. Pride would just take credit for doing what comes naturally – looking out for ourselves guided by selfishness or fear. On what basis would a person reject salvation? The person with free will thinks rationally because he has come to know the truth and that truth has set him free. He then makes decisions based on truth. The person who rejects salvation has been compromised – he has been judicially hardened by God or blinded by Satan – and is so irrational that he even mocks the preaching of the gospel.

        The person enabled to accept the gospel (understanding that enabled includes a free will) may be able to reject the gospel but finds no basis for doing so. Even granted that such enablement preserves his selfish nature or maintains his fears, he will still accept the gospel because eternal death cannot fulfill his selfish desire or assuage his fears. The person with free will must accept salvation – to do otherwise means that his will has been compromised and is no longer free.

        Given the nature of the choice – eternal life or eternal death – the decision is a no brainer. Otherwise, something is terribly wrong.

      7. Rhutchin, I think we are beginning to speak past each other in this conversation, and probably have started to bore the readers of it! 😉 If you want to continue this by email back and forth, feel free to answer this question… Why is it not a “no-brainer” for an regenerate believer to always obey God’s will? brian.wagner@vbc.edu If I don’t hear from you, that’s ok. You’re word here on this site can be the final entry for this conversation! Blessing on you my friend!

      8. brianwagner writes, “What Scriptures do you base your definition of omniscience to mean that God’s knowledge must NOT include a full knowledge of all possibilities that would continue throughout human history unless limited by His decrees which He has made and can still freely make?”

        I agree that God’s knowledge incompasses all possibilities. I don’t think they are relevant or meaningful after God creates the world.

        Yesterday, you and I engaged in a host of activities that included many possibilities. We did exactly that which God had ordained/decreed. Tomorrow, we will engage in a host of activities, and will do exactly that which God has ordained/decreed. It is God who considers all possibilities before deciding that which is to be done once He creates the world and God’s omniscience includes everything He decides (ordains/decrees).

        The presence of possibilities do not, and cannot, change things once God creates the world. When Christ said that He could call down legions of angels to protect Him, He was stating fact. God had considered that possibilty and rejected it before He created the world.

        If you know how they can, I am sure people would like to see an explanation.

    2. brianwagner writes, “There is no way for the Calvinist to prove that God has ordained all future events, especially by just showing that He has ordained some of them.”

      God is sovereign and thereby exercise complete control over all events. Necessarily, God has ordained all events simply because He is omnipotent and nothing can happen without His approval/concurrence. As Satan cannot torment Job except by God’s decree, and then within the limits prescribed by God, so Satan cannot enter the garden to tempt Adam/Eve, tempt David to number Israel, enter Judas to further the plot to crucify Jesus, or blind anyone preventing their salvation. God must decree all that Satan does else Satan cannot do anything. Similarly, no person acts without God’s concurrence/approval – God must decree that it to be done before the person can act. God necessarily knows all that happens through His omniscience; God necessarily decrees all that happens through His omnipotence. The problem is not that the Calvinist cannot prove that God is sovereign and that sovereignty reflects His omni characteristics; the problem is that non-Calvinists don’t like this but can’t argue against it – so they just moan and groan about it and falsely suggest that there is no proof of God’s sovereignty.

      1. Rhutchin, I am again grateful for your thoughtful reply. I totally agree with your first sentence about God’s sovereignty. I have no problem with your word “decree” in describing God’s permission and limits to Satan’s torment or temptation of Job and others, as long as you do not dogmatically say it was an eternal decree without any biblical support.

        I have no problem with believing that God has a made a decree that includes His permissive will, so that His omniscience includes total knowledge of all possibilities as true possibilities and all eventualities as true eventualities according to His omnipotence and personal freedom. The problem, as I see it, is that the Calvinist dislikes believing God to be sovereign and to still permit things to be only known as possibilities so that He can freely interact with man and man can freely interact with Him, within the boundaries of whatever has been or becomes determined by His decretive will.

        I hope this doesn’t sound anything like moaning and groaning! 🙂

      2. brianwagner writes, “…the Calvinist dislikes believing God to be sovereign and to still permit things to be only known as possibilities so that He can freely interact with man and man can freely interact with Him,…”

        Because God is sovereign and this incorporates His omniscience, there can be no such thing as “possibilities.” Everything is certain. God knows the day of a person’s birth, the day of his death, and every event of every second in the person’s life. Everything is certain.

        When people speak of “possibilities,” I generally assume that they have Molinism in mind. Molinism deals with possibilities but it deals with possibilities that God considers before He creates the world. God chooses a world that He wants to create from among all the worlds that He could create, and at Genesis 1:1 God puts that world in motion – Calvinism describes that world. Molinism is pre Genesis 1:1 and Calvinism is post Genesis 1:1. Everything is possible pre genesis 1; everything is certain post Genesis 1.

      3. Rhutchin, now you know that just saying something is so in a theological discussion, does not make it so. 🙂 We must tie things to biblical proof. There is no such biblical proof that all future events were decreed as certain before creation. Even your examples of birth and death will find no support in Scripture as having been decreed before creation. God can clearly plan for the birth and even the naming of individuals years before they come on the scene, and He can sovereignly manipulate events to make those plans certain. But that is no proof that all things were planned as certain before creation.

        However, the tenor of Scripture reads clearly, each time a command is given or the subjunctive case is used that possibilities do truly exist and God knows them fully as possibilities. That is how He sovereignly designed much of human history to play out! Are you saying it would be impossible for Him to do it that way or that the Scripture doesn’t mostly read that way? One Scripture example that confirms this design would be when Jesus said – Matt 26:53 “Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” Either Jesus was voicing a true possibility or He was lying to Peter.

        Yes, some things have been decreed, and some things will be decreed, and when they are, all other possibilities cease to exist for that future decreed event. You have adequately explained the Molinist view, which is not what I am proposing that the Scripture teaches about God’s omniscience. I am proposing that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man does change things, because God has decreed possibilities! And yet the righteous man (or you and I) are free not to pray, and then God’s desire for that possibility is not accomplished and He must offer grace or discipline to help bring it about another way or He is even free force its occurrence by decreeing it to happen some way.

      4. brianwagner writes, “God can clearly plan for the birth and even the naming of individuals years before they come on the scene, and He can sovereignly manipulate events to make those plans certain. But that is no proof that all things were planned as certain before creation.”

        By God’s omniscience, we know that all events were known before creation. Could God still change things up? He could up to the point where He creates the world. Once God creates in Genesis 1:1, everything then becomes certain. If Christ had prayed in 30 AD or so for twelve legions of angels, then that request would already have been known to God, known before He created the world, and God would have decided – thus decreed – then to respond to that request. That is why Jesus can speak with such certainty – because He knows that His request would have already been granted before God created the world. The only way I know to avoid this conclusion is to deny God omniscience so that He only learns about Jesus’ request at the time Jesus prays. That God has decreed all that happens is demanded by His omniscience. To say that God has decreed all things is just to say that God has decided all things which He does as sovereign. All things that God had decided regarding the world were made certain when God created the world. There is nothing left for God to decide – if there were, God would not be omniscient. Once God creates in Genesis 1, possibilities become certainties or are erased from consideration.

        Our prayers do not change things as much as call forth that which God decided when He created the world. That is why we can pray fervently and confidently – because we know that we do not have to convince God to act; we merely ask for those things that God has decided and told us to ask for. God knows whether we will pray or not pray and has answered our prayers – and decreed the means, including His actions, for those prayers to be answered – before He created the world.

      5. Rhutchin, I think we are beginning to speak past each other in this conversation also, and are risking even more boredom to the readers! 😉 If you want to continue this by email back and forth, feel free to answer this question… What Scriptures do you base your definition of omniscience to mean that God’s knowledge must NOT include a full knowledge of all possibilities that would continue throughout human history unless limited by His decrees which He has made and can still freely make? brian.wagner@vbc.edu If I don’t hear from you, that’s ok. You’re word here on this site can be the final entry for this conversation! Blessing on you my friend!

    3. Brian,

      I’m sorry but I am just now seeing this reply. You said, ” I think we all agree that the gospel is not powerful enough without the moving of the Spirit to enlighten (John 1:9), convict (John 16:8-9) and draw (John 12:32) the individual to apprehend its meaning and to comprehend its necessity.”

      While I agree in principle with this point, can you imagine a situation where the gospel is preached and the Spirit is not ‘moving?’ It seems to me that we have attempted to separate the spirit’s work from the words that He inspired, preserved and sent to be proclaimed by spirit filled messengers. In other words, isn’t the gospel’s proclamation itself a WORK of the Spirit?

      If you authored a book and after reading it I came to believe your teaching, would it be inaccurate of me to thank you for your work to convince me? Must you not only author the book, but also call me on the phone and explain your teachings to me in person for you to get full credit for convincing me of the truths contained in your book? Do you understand my point?

      Don’t get me wrong. I believe the spirit works in ways we cannot begin to understand which may include some kind inward supernatural enlightenment, but it appears from scripture that God uses external means to bring inward change. The very words of Christ are spirit and life (Jn 6). The words are a double edged sword cutting into the soul. Words, the spoken words inspired by God, have power because they themselves ARE spirit and life.

      I believe we make a mistake to presume that the spirit didn’t move when people reject the proclamation of the gospel truth. Why? Because that assumes that men’s rejection of the gospel proclamation was the result of the spirit failing to provide all that the men needed to respond. Does that make sense? Thoughts?

      LF

      1. Brother Flowers, I appreciate greatly your insights on this matter. You asked if I could “imagine a situation where the gospel is preached and the Spirit is not ‘moving.'” I can concede that it is hard to imagine such a situation. And the omnipresent Spirit of God is certainly always interacting with the planting of the gospel seed that has the innate power to bring life to the soul in which it is planted. But as the parable goes, in each separate life there may be things (hardness, shallowness, thorns) that keep that powerful word from taking root and from bringing forth the fruit of salvation.

        The issue we are discussing, I think, is how does an unregenerate heart come to the place where it is good soil to receive the gospel seed so that the fruit of salvation will be produced from it. I am just proposing, perhaps as a mediating view, that God must take the initiative to bring each person to an opportunity where all the hardness, shallowness, and thorns are overcome, at least for a season of conviction, so that the individual’s heart can freely, and actively, accept or reject the power of the gospel.

        I guess, at this point, I just don’t believe that the Spirit overcomes those hindrances for everyone, every time the gospel is preached or read, but I believe that He guarantees to do so at least once. And actually I believe that He often does so when the gospel is preached and other people are praying that the hearers will hear! And I do believe God actively uses other things, graces, like creation and conscience and the testimonies of believers to help prepare unregenerate hearts for the gospel moments when they come. However, I lean fairly heavily in my thinking that the unregenerate only has those moments to accept, and if they hear His voice, but harden their hearts, their is no guarantee that God will provide them another opportunity to accept the gospel, even though they may have many opportunities to physically hear it again.

        Your illustration of books and phone calls brought a smile! I often have to “phone” the Holy Spirit to find out more about what He meant, especially in how He wants me to apply what He said!

      2. brianwagber writes, “I am just proposing…that God must take the initiative to bring each person to an opportunity where all the hardness, shallowness, and thorns are overcome, at least for a season of conviction, so that the individual’s heart can freely, and actively, accept or reject the power of the gospel…However, I lean fairly heavily in my thinking that the unregenerate only has those moments to accept, and if they hear His voice, but harden their hearts, their is no guarantee that God will provide them another opportunity to accept the gospel, even though they may have many opportunities to physically hear it again.”

        If it is true that “all the hardness, shallowness, and thorns are overcome, at least for a season of conviction” then the person will accept the gospel else we must conclude that “all the hardness, shallowness, and thorns” were not overcome. If, in the face of the gospel preaching, the person hardens his heart, then something must explain that outcome. The only explanation is that “all the hardness, shallowness, and thorns” were not overcome. Or as Paul describes it, “if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ.”

      3. “Pastor Flowers writes, “I’m sorry but I am just now seeing this reply. You said, ” I think we all agree that the gospel is not powerful enough without the moving of the Spirit to enlighten (John 1:9), convict (John 16:8-9) and draw (John 12:32) the individual to apprehend its meaning and to comprehend its necessity.”

        While I agree in principle with this point, can you imagine a situation where the gospel is preached and the Spirit is not ‘moving?’ It seems to me that we have attempted to separate the spirit’s work from the words that He inspired, preserved and sent to be proclaimed by spirit filled messengers. In other words, isn’t the gospel’s proclamation itself a WORK of the Spirit?”

        The preaching of the gospel is a work of the Spirit. However, absent the enlightenment, convicting, and drawing of the spirit, the preaching of the gospel falls on deaf ears, “…the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;…” and “we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;…”

  7. Rhutchin: … Similarly, no person acts without God’s concurrence/approval –
    … God must decree that it to be done before the person can act.
    …………………..
    This is a little confusing; why the need for God’s approval for an act that is decreed by God?

  8. peanutgallerey writes, “…why the need for God’s approval for an act that is decreed by God?

    God is sovereign and exercises absolute control over all that happens. Thus, before anything can happen, God necessarily decides whether to intervene to prevent that event and determine a different course or not to intervene and allow natural events to run their course. God’s decision is His decree. So God’s approval becomes His decree; God does not approve what He has already decreed as that would be redundant and unnecessary.

  9. brianwagner writes, “Why is it not a “no-brainer” for an regenerate believer to always obey God’s will?”

    The “bo-brainer” is the choice between eternal life and eternal death. The person with free will always choose eternal life – it is a no-brainer.

    Obeying God’s will is another story as Paul explains in Romans 7.

    1. I am wondering, Rhutchin, why you bother to interact on this website? I guess you believe that God pre-determined you to do so, but don’t you also believe that you have a free will to choose to interact or not to interact? Of course, you probably would say it’s a mystery how you have a free choice to write the things you do on these posts even though they were predetermined before creation (before your soul came into being). But you truly believe, because Calvin says so, that you really aren’t free to do other than what was predetermined for you to do before creation.

      Salvation hasn’t really made any difference, except to make you think you’re one of the elect, with a free will, as well as to make you believe in the contradictory notion of the predetermination of all things. But why bother to interact on this website? You really aren’t going to change anything that isn’t already predetermined to be changed, my friend. And this website is more for those wanting to understand the Scriptures that led Brother Flowers to reject Calvinism. So why do you post here?

      1. brianwagner writes, “I guess you believe that God pre-determined you to do so, but don’t you also believe that you have a free will to choose to interact or not to interact?”

        I exercise free will as do all people. There are different definitions of free will as you would discover if you did a little homework. One form says that people’s actions are not determined by anything internal or external to the person. Another form says that people’s decisions are determined by their wants and desires. This is the form found in the Scriptures – e.g., walking in the flesh vs walking in the spirit.

        So, take some time, study up on this issue and engage in substantive discussion.

      2. Rhutchin, my friend, either I need to state my questions and make my points more clearly or you need to read more carefully and consider that readers of our comments would rather hear you answer the questions you’re given and deal with the points made. Then they would like to hear good rebuttal questions and new points with evidence from Scripture.

        I asked why you choose to interact on this website? You didn’t answer that question. The point I then was making is that you have two contradictory beliefs. Your choices are not really true determinations on you part, since (according to you) they all were pre-determined by someone else before you were born and even had a will. You can “say” or “feel” like you have free will that makes true determinations, but you have also chosen to “say” and “feel” that you actually are not able to do anything different that what was predetermined for you to choose, even before your will came into existence. Doesn’t that contradiction of reason bother you, especially since it goes against the normal teaching of free-will in the Scripture (e.g. 1Cor. 7:37)?

        Your will is no more free, in your professed Calvinism, than the totally depraved will is in your professed Calvinism. If you answer my post here you must believe as a Calvinist that it will only be because it was divinely predetermined for you to do so before your will even existed. That you freely choose to answer this post is only an illusion you also want to profess (if your theology is correct), even though that profession is a contradiction to your theology.

        In spite of that obvious contradiction in your beliefs. I still do want to know the answer to my question… why do you choose to interact on this website? Will you tell me your motive?

      3. brianwagner writes, “Doesn’t that contradiction of reason bother you, especially since it goes against the normal teaching of free-will in the Scripture (e.g. 1Cor. 7:37)?”

        1 Corinthians 7:37
        But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin–this man also does the right thing.

        So the man is not under compulsion – necessity in the KJV – meaning that he is not coerced to make a decision. He makes a decision based on his wants/desires as to what is important to him – he exercises compatibilist free will. I hold that the decisions people make reflect their wants and desires so that those wants/desires determine the choices he makes – a person does not choose contra their wants/desires.

        There is no contradiction in my beliefs. My beliefs just contradict your beliefs.

        That everything is predetermined – by God – is necessarily true else God is not omniscient. You do not believe that God is omniscient so, obviously, you draw different conclusions.

        What is to discuss here? We share opposite views on God’s omniscience and those opposing views determine everything else. What more is there to do?

      4. You said that everything that is pre-determined is a necessity. If man’s will is free from necessity, according to 1Cor. 7:37, how is that not a contradiction to your view, since in your view every choice of his will was predetermined by necessity even before that human will was created. What God determines to be necessary He compels to happen in your view. Man is thus under compulsion and has no freedom of will, but as a puppet, he goes through the pre-determined motions of the choices made for him, before he existed, by the divine Puppeteer. He may think he is freely making them, but as you have said, he can do nothing other than what was pre-determined by necessity, and even the deceptive thinking that he freely makes his decisions was pre-determined by the unbiblical Puppeteer in your view.

        The Scripture projects a totally different reality and God. And you can not show one clear verse that states God has pre-determined all things, including all the choices of mankind before creation!

      5. brianwagner writes, ” If man’s will is free from necessity, according to 1Cor. 7:37, how is that not a contradiction to your view, since in your view every choice of his will was predetermined by necessity even before that human will was created.

        36 But if any man feels he is not behaving honorably towards the woman he loves, especially as she is beginning to lose her first youth and the emotional strain is considerable, let him do what his heart tells him to do–let them be married, there is no sin in that.
        37 Yet for the man of steadfast purpose who is able to bear the strain and has his own desires well under control, if he decides not to marry the young woman, he too will be doing the right thing.

        Again, the difference we have here is that I believe God is omniscient and you do not. Since God is omniscient, all things were known to Him when He created the world, and it was then necessary that history unfold consistent with God’s omniscient knowledge.

        1 Corinth 7 describes a compatibilist free will situation and the ability of a person to control his sexual desires. If he cannot control himself, he should marry. If he has those passions under control, he is not required to marry her. So, we see, in this example, that the ability of a person to control his physical wants/desires accords him greater freedom of will as he is not driven by those wants/desires. By contrast, a serial rapist is ruled by his fleshly desires and they are the cause compelling his evil actions.

        God’s knowledge of all events includes a knowledge of all those causes that work to bring about the future – His omniscient knowledge does not cause anything to come about but God may exercise His omnipotent power to do so (e.g., destruction of Sodom/Gomorrah).

        There is a sense in which people are puppets to their wants/desires and the reprobate are ruled by evil wants/desires while believers find themselves warring against their former nature and calling out to God for help to reject those desires and follow Him.

        Your error is in thinking, “What God determines to be necessary He compels to happen in your view.” What God determines to happen is not necessarily compelled by Him. A person’s own wants/desires are the primary cause that can be said to compel his actions – as 1 Corinth 7 speaks of.

      6. I hope you will sometime begin to see the contradiction, Rhutchin. Man’s choices based on his wants and desires only take place AFTER God’s pre-determination of them, and before they even exist. In your view, He even pre-determined that Adam had to choose to sin and that such sin would make most of his offspring unable to freely respond to God’s mercy for salvation, so that God could keep His determination of saving a few and sending a majority to hell!

        That is not what the Scriptures teach and is a harmful doctrine that weakens a believer’s resolve to use their truly free will to love and pray for all the lost! Maybe today in church the Lord will enlighten you on these things… if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart! Please!

      7. brianwagner writes, “Man’s choices based on his wants and desires only take place AFTER God’s pre-determination of them, and before they even exist. In your view, He even pre-determined that Adam had to choose to sin…”

        That God pre-determines events does not require that God cause those events.

        Adam had a choice in whether to sin. He chose to sin. This result was inevitable as no one resists the temptations of Satan without God’s help.

  10. RHUTCHIN wrote:
    He makes a decision based on his wants/desires as to what is important to him – he exercises compatibilist free will. I hold that the decisions people make reflect their wants and desires so that those wants/desires determine the choices he makes – a person does not choose contra their wants/desires.
    ………………
    Who decreed ‘wants/desires determine the choices he makes’?

    1. peanutgallery asks, “Who decreed ‘wants/desires determine the choices he makes’?”

      God made people in His image conveying (decreeing) to them the ability to consider rationally options available to them and the freedom to make decisions that reflect their wants/desires. This is called compatibilist free will.

    1. peanutgallery asks, “But, who decreed their wants/desires?”

      God made people in His image conveying (decreeing) to them the ability to think and use their imagination to consider things they have not experienced. Whether you hold to people being born with a sin nature or with a nature inclined to sin, that nature can excite the mind to devise all sorts of evil activities. A person’s wants/desires are shaped by their nature and by experiences in life and whatever Satan can tempt them to want/desire. Of course, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

  11. ” A person’s wants/desires are shaped by their nature and by experiences in life and whatever Satan can tempt them to want/desire.”
    All of which is decreed by God; there lies the compatible free will.
    Would that include the ability to believe God’s witnesses?

    1. peanutgallery asks, “Would that include the ability to believe God’s witnesses?”

      That’s what the disagreement is all about. The Pelagians say, No, because people are inclined to sin but not ruled by a sin nature. The Arminians and Calvinists say not without enabling grace to override the rule of the sin nature. Compatibilist free will says that a person makes decisions consistent with their wants/desires, so the issue is whether people have sin natures that rule their wants/desires.

  12. “so the issue is whether people have sin natures that rule their wants/desires.”
    …………..
    I incorrectly typed, should have been:
    Would that include the inability to believe God’s witnesses?
    ………….
    I would agree that we have a sin nature that rules our wants/desires; however, there is nothing that states that one cannot believe the reprove of the law written in their heart, conscience bearing bearing witness, and the Holy Spirit conviction.
    We can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.

    1. peanutgallery writes, “We can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.”

      That’s exactly right. This is a no-brainer. Anyone, and everyone, who hears the gospel and has a free will should call out for mercy. Yet, few people, it seems, do that judging by outward appearance and action. How is that to be explained? If a person rejects the gospel and does not call out for mercy then their free will must have been compromised. Why is it that some people do not believe the reprove of the law written on their heart, conscience bearing witness, and the Holy Spirit conviction. The Calvinists concluded that this could only happen if the heart were effectively dead to the gospel. That led to Total Depravity and the TULIP system.

      No one has yet come up with a better explanation for people to reject the gospel. Pastor Flowers speaks of judicial hardening and its the same principle – unless free will is compromised, all should agree with God and call out for mercy.

  13. “That led to Total Depravity and the TULIP system.

    No one has yet come up with a better explanation for people to reject the gospel.”
    …………………
    Is this what they call begging the question?
    TULIP must be correct, since no one can come up with a better explanation, barring free will?

    1. peanutgallery writes, “Is this what they call begging the question? TULIP must be correct, since no one can come up with a better explanation, barring free will?”

      No, begging the question is assuming your conclusion. That no yet figured out why people reject salvation does not make TULIP correct. It just makes TULIP the only game in town. People complain about TULIP, but nobody can figure out another way to explain why people reject salvation.

      You expressed a basic, fundamental truth when you said, “there is nothing that states that one cannot believe the reprove of the law written in their heart, conscience bearing bearing witness, and the Holy Spirit conviction. We can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.”

      Yet, in spite of this truth, some people disagree with God and refuse to call out for mercy. That is simply incredible. So, what accounts for this? Total Depravity is one answer. Can you think of another viable explanation?

    2. Pastor Flowers writes, “I can’t understand how anyone would assume total inability is better than full response-ability.”

      Because Total Inability explains why people reject salvation – they are unable to accept it. Full response-ability allows for people to accept or reject salvation. It does not explain why some accept salvation and others reject salvation when there is no difference between the people making different decisions. Either all should accept salvation or all reject salvation, but what explains one person choosing opposite to another on this critical issue – where the expected response is obvious as peanutgallery pointed out?

      1. Did God have to choose to create? Was He free to choose to create or not create? If free than why did He? We are in His image. If He brings us to an opportunity to exercise similar freedom, than you have your answer why a response-able person may either accept or reject an opportunity… just like you are free to accept the biblical teaching on this site or to continue to reject it for the unbiblical traditions of men (though you do not really believe you’re free, since you believe all your decisions were predetermined by God, so they really aren’t your decisions)! Of course all human freedom is limited by the boundaries and laws and pre-determinations of God, but praise His name He did not predetermine every decision and has allowed for free choice among many possibilities by all created in His image.

      2. brianwagner writes, “If He brings us to an opportunity to exercise similar freedom, than you have your answer why a response-able person may either accept or reject an opportunity…”

        That does not answer the question. Are not all people free to choose or just God’s elect? If one accepts salvation, why don’t all. What is different between the one who accepts and the one who rejects salvation that accounts for the difference decisions – perhaps God favors the one and not the other?

      3. You know the Bible says God shows His favor, His grace, His mercy for salvation to all (Rom. 11:32) ! I am sorry you choose to freely reject clear Bible teaching to be loyal to man-made theology. Why?

      4. brianwagner writes, “You know the Bible says God shows His favor, His grace, His mercy for salvation to all (Rom. 11:32) !”

        Key to this is the definition of “all.” You seem to have relied on Webster’s dictionary to define this term choosing to ignore the context of the passage. So, in saying, “I am sorry you choose to freely reject clear Bible teaching…” You are saying that I reject your supposedly clear Bible teaching interpreted through the lens of human wisdom. So, yes, I reject the slant you place one that which the Bible says.

      5. So Rhutchin, are you saying that the word ALL in Rom 11:32 does not mean everyone?
        (Rom 11:32 [ESV]) For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

        I am not relying on Webster. I am relying on the context! I don’t think any non-infected Calvinist would think I am putting any slant on the meaning of this passage. If God is not having mercy on everyone then He has not consigned everyone to disobedience either. Are you really wanting to propose that Paul was teaching that? What did the original Roman readers think this word ALL meant in this verse? Would they have understood Calvinism’s twisted meaning of it, so that it would not be made to mean that God really does have salvation mercy for ALL?

      6. brianwagner writes, “So Rhutchin, are you saying that the word ALL in Rom 11:32 does not mean everyone?
        (Rom 11:32 [ESV]) For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.”

        Romans 11
        1 I ask then: Did God reject [Israel]?…
        5 …at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace…
        11 Again I ask: Did [Israel] stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of [Israel’s] transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles…
        13 I am talking to you Gentiles…
        15 For if [Israel’s] rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will [Israel’s] acceptance be but life from the dead?
        21 For if God did not spare the [Israel], he will not spare you (Gentiles) either.
        26 And so all Israel will be saved,…
        28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they (Israel) are enemies on your (Gentiles) account;
        30 Just as you (Gentiles) who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of [Israel’s] disobedience,
        31 so [Israel has] now become disobedient in order that [Israel] may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you (Gentiles).
        32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

        Context is clear. The term, “all men” in v32 follows the context of the earlier verses and refers to “both Jews and Gentiles.” If that is the conclusion you were making, Fine. If not, then your appeal is to Webster’s dictionary.

      7. So you do believe, Rhutchin, that all individuals, both all Jewish individuals and Gentile individuals have been “consigned to disobedience” so that God can “have mercy” on all Jewish individuals and Gentile individuals for salvation? That’s great! Webster, you see is not necessary. The context confirms the meaning of the term “all”! We’re making some headway! 🙂

      8. brianwagner writes, “…that all individuals, both all Jewish individuals and Gentile individuals have been “consigned to disobedience” so that God can “have mercy” on all Jewish individuals and Gentile individuals for salvation…”

        No. You will need to read the passage to get a sense of context and then this verse in particular to to see what is happening. Let me help–

        32 For God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

        By “all” Paul refers to “Both Jews and Gentiles.” Therefore, we substitute one for the other to get–

        32 For God has concluded both Jews and Gentiles in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon both Jews and Gentiles.

        Your mistake was to combine the two terms to get “all Jews and gentiles”. This error was probably a subconscious reflection of your biases and previous instruction – bad teaching can be difficult to overcome.

      9. So you don’t believe this passage is teaching that all individual Jews and individual Gentiles have been “bound” or “consigned” over to disobedience by God. Are those who have not be bound or consigned to disobedience automatically saved? How do we recognize them?

      10. brianwagner writes, “So you don’t believe this passage is teaching that all individual Jews and individual Gentiles have been “bound” or “consigned” over to disobedience by God. Are those who have not be bound or consigned to disobedience automatically saved? How do we recognize them?”

        Paul speaks of all that are Israel – Hath God cast away his people? – but then makes a distinction, “What then? Israel has not obtained that which he seeks; but the election has obtained it, and the rest were blinded.”

        30 For as [you who are God’s elect] in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through [Israel’s] unbelief:
        31 Even so [Israel] has not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
        32 For God hath concluded [both Jews and Gentiles] in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon [both Jews and Gentiles -specifically His elect].

        Paul identifies three groupings of people in this passage – Jews, Gentiles, God’s elect. While these groupings may be seen to include each and every person who is a Jew or a Gentile, Paul makes a particular distinction for those individuals who are God’s elect among the Jews and among the Gentiles. We recognize this by adhering to the context that Paul establishes.

      11. Rhutchin, I think we actually agree that God works with groups so that He can influence other groups. But it is inescapable that all consigned to disobedience means both Jews and Gentiles and everyone in them. So the mercy shown to the groups of Jews and Gentiles would have to include everyone in them also or the grammar would make no sense unless twisted by someone’s theology.

        Where we disagree is that there is a pre-defined group of the elect, which you and Calvinists have to force into this last verse. There is an elect group that anyone of the all the Jews and Gentiles can join when the accept by faith God’s mercy offered to all of them at some point. And it is to add to that open group that God is working now with the Gentiles and the Jews through the Church, by showing mercy to all individuals within those groups.

        Any Jew, even though as a group they are hardened, can leave that group and join the Church by trusting in Christ when they hear His voice and do not harden their hearts. And He is mercifully calling all Jews and Gentiles to come! Praise His name!

      12. brianwagner writes, “But it is inescapable that all consigned to disobedience means both Jews and Gentiles and everyone in them. So the mercy shown to the groups of Jews and Gentiles would have to include everyone in them also or the grammar would make no sense unless twisted by someone’s theology. ”

        Paul wrote, “Hath God cast away his people?…But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace…What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

        From this point on, when Paul speaks of Israel – Have they stumbled that they should fall?…if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world…if God spared not the natural branches – he speaks of that part of Israel that was blinded.

        So when Paul writes, “God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all,” we understand that “all” includes both Jews and Gentiles but only that part of Israel that was blinded is relevant. God’s intent is to have mercy on that part of Israel that He has reserved to Himself – the election hath obtained it – and similarly, those among the Gentiles that He has reserved to Himself.

        Paul is very clear here – “I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” God extends grace because He chooses to do so and to accomplish his purpose and not in response to what a person might do, for example “accepting God’s offer of grace.”

  14. “It just makes TULIP the only game in town.”
    Here I thought TULIP was philosophical, not a game. 😉
    ……………………..
    People complain about TULIP, but nobody can figure out another way to explain why people reject salvation.”
    People are able to choose whom they will believe; despite view of compatibilism.

    Does not mean people are able to satisfy God’s just demand for holiness outside of Christ’s imputed righteousness.
    ……………………

    1. peanutgallery writes, “People are able to choose whom they will believe; despite view of compatibilism.”

      As you astutely wrote earlier, “We can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.” Yet, wonder of wonders, some refuse to agree with God and refuse to call out for mercy. Calvinists say that such a person is unable to call out to God. You don’t like that. Fine. If not inability, what do you think accounts for people making such an incredibly irrational choice that flatly defies the truth that you recognize.

  15. “what do you think accounts for people making such an incredibly irrational choice that flatly defies the truth that you recognize.”

    Pride.

    1. And how is it that some (coincidentally God’s elect) do not exhibit such pride but only the reprobate do so? Why do not all exhibit such pride?

      1. I know a lot of people, including myself, who become a part of the elect and still exhibit a lot of pride! It is ridiculous to think the Bible teaches that God chose to change the will of a few against their will so that they can not go against His will to get saved. But after they are saved, they can constantly go against His will, which He predetermined that they should, because He predetermined everything!

        I am still waiting to hear, Rhutchin, why you keep posting your Calvinist views here, knowing that the normal reading of Scriptures shows our God wants all to be saved without force (1Tim 2:4), and has made the opportunity available for all (2Pet 3:9)! Tell me, Rhutchin, why do you keep posting on this site? Reveal your heart! Do you really believe you are helping honor the Scriptures’ normal teaching about salvation, that encourages more love for all the lost, and more prayer to God to change hearts. I have been praying for you, my friend!

      2. brianwagner asks, “…why you keep posting your Calvinist views here,…”

        The Calvinist views result from an accurate understanding of the Scriptures. They exalt God. Views of others exalt man saying that God is not omniscient and that man is autonomous with regard to his destiny. So, there is the need to clarify the differing positions so that they can be understood by those who hold those positions and others.

        We see another fallacy in the citation of 1 Timothy 2:4 where the issue is how to define the term “all men.” One approach is to pull out Webster’s Dictionary and define the term from the human perspective (the humanist approach). Another approach is to define the term from what the Scriptures say – drawing the definition from Ephesians 3.

        Similarly, in 2 Peter 3:9, the issue is to define “any” and “all.” Again some advocate pulling out Webster’s Dictionary to define the terms and ignore context. Another approach is to respect context and go back to previous verses to determine the antecedent of “any and “all” and let context rule the interpretation.

        People should be able to identify when a person degrades God in his arguments (e.g., saying that God is not omniscient) or when he appeals to a humanist approach to understand the Scriptures (e.g., using human wisdom to explain what the Scriptures tell us).

        Besides, Pastor Flowers makes interesting observations and has put forth a unique system to explain salvation. They are worthy of comment.

      3. Rhuchin, thank you for revealing some of your motivation for posting on this site. I also think we agree that definitions for biblical ideas should come from the biblical context in which those ideas are expressed. I am going to assume that you were not talking about me when you mentioned one who “degrades God in his arguments (e.g., saying that God is not omniscient) or when he appeals to a humanist approach to understand the Scriptures,….” You know I believe that God is omniscient, knows all things, but we disagree on some things on how the Bible has expressed how God knows the future. And you know I do not take a humanist approach, since I firmly believe God should be honored for how He has revealed His Scriptures in an understandable way to the reader, without needing theological inference or extrapolation for the truths of the gospel or of the sound doctrines that it teaches!

        You would agree that biblical definitions for “omniscience” and “all” should come from the biblical context, and that people should not just rely on a theological definition by someone else, who may even put Bible references in his definition, but when you look those references up, you wonder how those verses support that meaning. And I would think you would agree that when a word can have a variety of meanings, and a certain passage has that word in an unclear way, one should not dogmatically take the meaning for that word from another clear passage and then force it into the unclear passage, unless there is no other reasonable alternatives, like another meaning for that word from other passages. The word “world” in John 3:16 certainly means something different that “world” in 1John 2:15.

        But look at the six times the word “all” is used in 1Timothy 2:1-6 and tell me why they do not all (no pun intended) have the most common universal meaning instead of some having a less common distributive meaning. The context trumps Calvinism’s desires to twist the meaning of “all” in 2:4 & 6. To bring to this passage a meaning for “all” from another passage is harmful, since this passage is clear in its own context.

        In 2Peter 3:9, the word “all”, who should come to repentance (a pre-requisite for salvation), is parallel to “any”, whom God has not planned to perish. I know the Calvinist would like to say Peter means “any of us elect”, and then points to the “us” mentioned in connection with God’s longsuffering in this verse. But the word “any” is the same Greek word translated “some” in the beginning of this verse, which is connected with the unsaved scoffers of the context. It is more normal for the reader to connect “any should perish” with the obstinate “some.” Praise the Lord that He is so longsuffering to give even scoffers the true opportunity for repentance that He planned for them to have. He never planned for them to perish. If they perish, it is because of their response-able rejection of His grace!

        You are right Rhutchin… “people should be able to identify when a person downgrades God in his arguments.” I hope they identify my attempt to exalt Him by promoting the plain meaning of His Word as He intended.

      4. brianwagner writes, “But look at the six times the word “all” is used in 1Timothy 2:1-6 and tell me why they do not all (no pun intended) have the most common universal meaning instead of some having a less common distributive meaning. The context trumps Calvinism’s desires to twist the meaning of “all” in 2:4 & 6. To bring to this passage a meaning for “all” from another passage is harmful, since this passage is clear in its own context.”

        When you say, ” the most common universal meaning,” do you mean as Webster’s Dictionary defines the term or that meaning we find used consistently within a Biblical context? Since God is the ultimate author of the Scriptures, surely He speaks consistently from one prophet to another so why do you then say, “To bring to this passage a meaning for “all” from another passage is harmful,..”? When you say, “..this passage is clear in its own context,” do you mean the context in which God intended it or that context which satisfies your biases?

      5. brianwagner writes, “In 2Peter 3:9, the word “all”, who should come to repentance (a pre-requisite for salvation), is parallel to “any”, whom God has not planned to perish….”

        The verse is dramatic in its use of the negative to make the point, “…[God is] not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” If by “any” and “all” God means each and every individual, then all will be saved. To avoid this conclusion, the meaning depends on “willing.” It is necessary to weaken this word. In other passages, God makes His will clear, “..[God] gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in [Christ] should not perish,…” From this, we may conclude that God is not willing that those who believe in Christ should perish. From other passages, it seems clear that God has planned that certain people – those who do not believe in Christ – perish.

        I don’t think you have grasped what is going on in this verse.

      6. (1Tim 2:1-6) “Therefore I exhort first of ALL that supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks be made for ALL men, for kings and ALL who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in ALL godliness and reverence. For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires ALL men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For [there is] one God and one Mediator between God and men, [the] Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time… ”

        I am not pulling the normal universal meaning of “all” from Webster. Nor am I twisting it to fit my theology, like Calvinism. I am taking it as it means through out this context. I hope you will NOT try to tell me, like some Calvinists, that I should not even pray for ALL men to be saved! Praying for ALL to be saved in agreement with God’s desire for ALL!

        You admit, Rhutchin, that you must “weaken this word” “willing” in 2Pet 3:9 to make it fit your theology. But the context is clear enough, as I pointed out, to show God’s plan does not include anyone perishing but that all come to (ESV – “reach”) repentance. This fits perfectly with God’s promises to enlighten and convict everyone. He brings a change to their mind, but does not force their will. Forcing of the will is what Calvinism’s harmful doctrines of regeneration before belief and irresistible grace teaches.

        I think I have grasped the context of 2Pet 3:9 pretty well. Let the reader decide based on the context of Peter’s message and without knowing Calvinism’s twisting of the words from their contextual meaning! God did not plan for any to perish, and you are correct, that only those who believe will not perish, but they believe, not passively, but actively, and not because against their will their will was changed to be forced to believe, but because God made them “response-able” through the power of the gospel, His enlightenment and His conviction, so that they are without excuse if they choose to not believe.

        Because His plan did not pre-determine every future human decision, the words of this verse (2Pet 3:9) would clearly infer either everyone will be saved or the salvation of each person is not settled before creation. That everyone will be saved is contradicted by clear Scriptures elsewhere (Rev. 14:10, Matt. 25:46). That each individual person’s salvation is not settled before creation fits well with the normal teaching of God’s grace and man’s response-ability throughout Scripture.

        Don’t bring your philosophically based theology to the Scripture to interpret its meaning, but get the meaning of words and theology according to their immediate contexts in the minds of each Scripture book’s author and the original readers of each passage.

  16. rhutchin:
    And how is it that some (coincidentally God’s elect) do not exhibit such pride but only the reprobate do so? Why do not all exhibit such pride?
    ………………………………..
    Are you proud that you do not exhibit pride?

    1. peanutgallery writes, “Are you proud that you do not exhibit pride?”

      I am grateful to God that he preserved me so that I would accept salvation.

      However, you are avoiding the issue before us. We know from your earlier observation that the natural response of people to the gospel is, “We can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.” You suggested that the reason some people reject the gospel is pride. So, the obvious question is, How is it that some exhibit such pride and others do not?

      We have two explanations for this. There is the Calvinist explanation that all people are born with pride and all naturally reject salvation until God removes that pride from His elect resulting in them accepting salvation. Then, we have Pastor Flowers’ Judicial Hardening where people are born without pride and would all naturally accept salvation but then God hardens the reprobate (giving them pride) resulting in their rejection salvation.

      Have you run across another explanation?

  17. “I am grateful to God that he preserved me so that I would accept salvation.”

    And a non-Calvinist is not grateful for God’s mercy?
    …………………
    “So, the obvious question is, How is it that some exhibit such pride and others do not?”

    God given ability to choose to humble one’s self, or to choose to remain prideful.
    …………………
    “Have you run across another explanation?”

    All are born totally corrupted by sin; all are able to respond to God’s witnesses; all are free to believe or free to reject God’s witnesses.
    Creation witnesses to a creator; does one believe or reject?
    Law written in their hearts; does one believe or reject?
    Conscience bearing witness; does one believe or reject?
    Holy Spirit reproving; does one believe or reject?
    The gospel of God, the power unto salvation; does one believe or reject?
    ………………..
    “Then, we have Pastor Flowers’ Judicial Hardening where people are born without pride and would all naturally accept salvation but then God hardens the reprobate (giving them pride) resulting in their rejection salvation.”
    I think Pastor Flowers should respond to that; however, I think he would state that all have sinned, which would include pride. Judicial hardening are to the unbelieving Jews who rejected God’s witnesses, Law, Prophets, and Jesus’ works.

    1. peanutgallery wrote, “Are you proud that you do not exhibit pride?””
      I responded, “I am grateful to God that he preserved me so that I would accept salvation.”
      peanutgallery then wrote, “And a non-Calvinist is not grateful for God’s mercy?’

      You asked about me; I told you about me. Now, go ask a non-Calvinist (which I am not as you correctly conclude).

    2. I wrote, ““So, the obvious question is, How is it that some exhibit such pride and others do not?”

      peanutgallery, “God given ability to choose to humble one’s self, or to choose to remain prideful.”

      Let’s remember your original description of people, ” “[People] can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.” Thus, you describe the natural condition of people is that of humility toward God. God gives all people this ability by birth and all would exercise this ability to call out for mercy – thus, all should be saved. It is not a matter of choosing to remain prideful; it is a matter of becoming prideful (unless you are backtracking from your earlier statement). Here, God must do something to enable that pride to set in which He does to the reprobate. If God did this to all, then none would call out to God because of that pride.

    3. peanutgallery writes, “…The gospel of God, the power unto salvation; does one believe or reject?”

      Yes, that is the issue we are discussing. Why is it that some accept and some reject? Is it because all are born depraved and God elects some to save or is it that all are born free and all would be saved except God elects some to condemn?

      I gather you have not come across a third explanation.

      1. I would word the “issue” more like this:

        “Is it because all are born depraved and God elects some to save by irresistible means for a secret reason, or is it that all are born depraved and God elects to save whosoever humbles themselves, repents, believing in the provision of his grace, Jesus Christ.”

      2. Pastor Flowers writes, “…is it that all are born depraved and God elects to save whosoever humbles themselves, repents, believing in the provision of his grace, Jesus Christ.”

        That’s fine but peanutgallery has said, “[People] can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.” This would be the response of people who have true/genuine free will and come under the preaching of the gospel.

        The issue is to explain why some people reject salvation when others do not. What explains why people refuse to humble themselves? peanutgallery suggested pride as that reason but others overcome that pride, so why not those who reject salvation?

        Salvation is not a tough call – it is a no-brainer. What can explain an irrational decision by a person to reject salvation? The Calvinists concluded that the only way to explain this is that all are depraved and none is able to overcome pride and accept salvation except God takes away that pride. God does save those who humble themselves, but God enables them to humble themselves resulting in their salvation.

        Otherwise, if I understand the concept of judicial hardening, all people would naturally accept salvation except those prevented from doing so by God’s act to judicially harden them.

  18. Judicial hardening are to the unbelieving Jews who rejected God’s witnesses, Law, Prophets, and Jesus’ works.
    Ooooppppsss! I forgot Rom chap 1; judicial hardening would apply to anyone who rejected God’s witnesses.

    1. Judicial hardening condemns the person. For that person there is no salvation (I guess unless God removes the hardening and then they cry out for mercy as you said earlier).

  19. peanutgallery, “God given ability to choose to humble one’s self, or to choose to remain prideful.”

    rhutchin
    Let’s remember your original description of people, ” “[People] can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.”

    Yes, those who humble themselves agree with God and call out for mercy;
    ………………………
    “Thus, you describe the natural condition of people is that of humility toward God. ”
    God given condition is ability to choose to humble one’s self, or to choose to remain prideful.

    1. peanutgallery writes, “God given condition is ability to choose to humble one’s self, or to choose to remain prideful.”

      We have agreed to this several times now. As you said earlier, “[People] can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.” Given the ability to choose, all should accept salvation. However, we observe that some accept and some reject. How does that happen? You still are unable to explain it. There are two positions. Either God saves whom He wills or God condemns whom He wills. Can you identify a third position?

  20. rhutchin
    (I guess unless God removes the hardening and then they cry out for mercy as you said earlier).

    Yes; if they stop abiding in unbelief.

    1. peanutgalleery writes, “Yes; if they stop abiding in unbelief.’

      OK, already. We both agree to this. As you said earlier, “[People] can do nothing but agree with God and call out for mercy.” Given the ability to stop abiding in unbelief, all should accept salvation. However, we observe that some accept and some reject. How does that happen? There are two positions. Either God saves whom He wills or God condemns whom He wills. Can you identify a third position?

      Can you move the discussion forward?

  21. brianwagner:
    “Let the reader decide based on the context of Peter’s message and without knowing Calvinism’s twisting of the words from their contextual meaning! ”
    …………….
    God delivered me out of RCC; only later to be told by a protestant preacher that Jesus died for Peter by not for Judas, since only Peter repented.
    The Spirit did not bear witness, and thus began my study on that strange teaching.
    Up to that time I believed God’s word and continue to do so.

  22. rhutchin:
    There are two positions. Either God saves whom He wills or God condemns whom He wills. Can you identify a third position?
    ………………….
    You seem to be ignoring another option: God has given man the ability to believe or reject God’s witnesses; God’s will is to save those who believe the witnesses.

    1. peanutgallery writes, “You seem to be ignoring another option: God has given man the ability to believe or reject God’s witnesses; God’s will is to save those who believe the witnesses.”

      We both agree on this. The issue we are now exploring is why one person believes and another does not. Can you advance that discussion and stop retreating back to things not in dispute?

  23. rhutchin:
    The issue we are now exploring is why one person believes and another does not.
    …………………..
    Does scripture provide Book, chapter, and verse as to why one person believes and another does not?

    1. Why some believe when enabled by God to obey the truth of the gospel and why some reject when enabled to obey the truth of the gospel, can be answered by the same answers as to why some believers, when enabled by God to do His will, obey, and some believers, when abled by God to do His will, reject. God does not force inward obedience to His will on unbelievers or believers, though, of course, He is powerful enough to do so, and He does force sometimes outward obedience, even when the inward hasn’t changed (e.g. Jonah).

    2. peanutgallery writes, “Does scripture provide Book, chapter, and verse as to why one person believes and another does not?”

      1 Corinthians 1
      23 we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
      24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

      2 Corinthians 4
      4 …the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them…
      6 …God…has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

      Romans 8
      29 For whom [God foreknew], he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
      30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
      31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

      Romans 9
      22 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
      23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
      24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

      Colossians 1
      12 [God] made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
      13 [God] delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

      1. Proof texts without context? None of those verses answer the question you posed:
        The issue we are now exploring is why one person believes and another does not.

      2. peanutgallery writes, “None of those verses answer the question you posed: The issue we are now exploring is why one person believes and another does not.”

        You need to read with more attention to detail. This will help–

        1 Corinthians 1
        23 The preaching of the gospel is foolishness to those who reject salvation.
        24 To those who are called – who accept salvation- preaching of the gospel is Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

        2 Corinthians 4
        4 Satan has blinded the minds of those that reject salvation.
        6 God has shined in the hearts of those that accept salvation.

        Romans 8
        29 God foreknew believers before He created the world, he predestinated them to be conformed to the image of his Son.
        30 Not only did God predestinate them, he called them; he justified them; he glorified them.
        31 If God be for us, who can be against us?

        Romans 9
        22 God has endured those who reject salvation.
        23 So that He could enrich those who accept salvation.
        24 God called those who later accepted salvation.

        Colossians 1
        13 God delivered believers from the power of darkness; God then put believers into His kingdom.

  24. rhutchin:
    “A person’s own wants/desires are the primary cause that can be said to compel his actions.”

    Don’t you mean secondary cause, as God is always the first cause?

    1. peanutgallery writes, “Don’t you mean secondary cause, as God is always the first cause?’

      Relative to God, they are secondary causes; relative to the person, they are primary causes.

      God created people and through secondary causes, wants/desires, people are compelled to act.
      A person’s own wants/desires are the primary cause that can be said to compel his actions.

      The statements are consistent.

      1. “Relative to God, they are secondary causes; relative to the person, they are primary causes.

        God created people and through secondary causes, wants/desires, people are compelled to act.
        A person’s own wants/desires are the primary cause that can be said to compel his actions.

        The statements are consistent.”
        ……………………
        A person’s first cause pre-determined compatibilistic wants/desires are said to be the secondary cause that can be said to compel his actions?

      2. Pastor Flowers writes, “Who first decides which desire a man will act upon?”

        Given that God is omniscient, nothing is hidden from Him; and nothing can surprise Him. God decreed that Satan enter the garden to tempt Adam/Eve to sin leading to the corruption of the human nature. Thus, when God decides/decrees that a person be born, He does it knowing that the person will have evil wants/desires consistent with a heart that is wicked and deceitful. God knows those wants/desires before they actually manifest within the person but they arise from the heart – an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

        God’s role in the actions of a sinner are that of restraint (or provocation through secondary agents as with David numbering Israel and Judas’ betrayal of Christ). The sinner conspires to do evil and God decides the degree to which the sinner will pursue his evil desires. The sinner owns his wants/desires even though they arise from a nature that he had no part in choosing. God has the final say in the extent to which a sinner will pursue his sinful wants/desires.

        So to your question: “Who first decides which desire a man will act upon?” The sinner does.
        Who has the final say on which desire a man will act upon? God does.

      3. peanutgallery writes, “A person’s first cause pre-determined compatibilistic wants/desires are said to be the secondary cause that can be said to compel his actions?”

        Do you understand that “A person’s first cause pre-determined compatibilistic wants/desires” arise from the heart – an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things? That evil heart which which a person is born results from the corruption following Adam/Eve’s sin.

        Thus, we can say that God is the ultimate cause in that He determines that a person be born with an evil heart. Then, that evil heart can be described as the secondary cause (in reference to God) – but the immediate and primary cause (in reference to the man) – to which a person’s sin can be attributed.

  25. “God knows those wants/desires before they actually manifest within the person but they arise from the heart – an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. ”
    ……………..
    More like the wants/desires arise from the decree of the first cause.

    1. peanutgallery writes, ‘More like the wants/desires arise from the decree of the first cause.”

      The Scriptures are clear on this. Adam/Eve sinned and from this proceeds sinful humanity. Following Adam/Eve’s sin, all people are born with a corrupted nature that is the immediate source of their wants/desires.

      1. “The Scriptures are clear on this. Adam/Eve sinned and from this proceeds sinful humanity.”
        Who decreed that Adam/Eve would sin and from this proceeds sinful humanity.

        Something I’m noticing, you seem to be using the concept of permissive will and deterministic will interchangeably.

      2. peanutgallery writes, “…you seem to be using the concept of permissive will and deterministic will interchangeably.”

        Yep. I think people contrast that which God causes (e.g., the impregnation of Mary) and God’s permissive will (e.g., allowing people to sin). Both would be deterministic in that God has the final say on whether it will take place. That which God permits can only be done after God consciously decides that it should – God consciously decides not to restrain the action thereby enabling it to occur (e.g., Satan entering Judas to bring about the arrest of Jesus).

        What definitions are you working with?

  26. ” Then, that evil heart can be described as the secondary cause (in reference to God) – but the immediate and primary cause (in reference to the man) – to which a person’s sin can be attributed.”
    ………….
    Semantics; according to Calvinism, evil heart, wants/desires, are all decreed by the first cause, God.
    Unless, you meant to say that God has decreed that the secondary causes are to be considered man’s first cause.

    1. peanutgallery writes, “Semantics; according to Calvinism, evil heart, wants/desires, are all decreed by the first cause, God.
      Unless, you meant to say that God has decreed that the secondary causes are to be considered man’s first cause.”

      We both seem to agree that God is omniscient. If so, we agree that when God created the world, He knew all of history that would follow and God’s act of creation solidified all of history – He, thereby, decreed that history. So Yes, we can say, “God has decreed that the secondary causes are to be considered man’s first cause.”

  27. “What definitions are you working with?”
    …………
    Did God determine/decree that Adam would disobey; or did God permit Adam to choose whether to obey or disobey?
    The difference is whether Adam had a choice.

    1. peanutgallery writes, “Did God determine/decree that Adam would disobey; or did God permit Adam to choose whether to obey or disobey?”

      Both. The minute that God decreed/decided/determined that Satan should enter the garden to tempt Ada/Eve, the end result was certain. Nobody resists Satan’s temptation without God’s help and God had also decided not to intervene to help Adam ensuring that Adam would sin (Had not Christ been slain form the foundation of the world). Nonetheless, Adam was able to chose to disobey and made his choice in the reasoning of his own mind.

      peanutgallery writes, “The difference is whether Adam had a choice.”

      The difference is not just whether Adam had a choice but the freedom Adam was able to exercise in making that choice. In this case, Adam’s freedom was compromised by deception. Two things (maybe more) reduce the freedom people have in making decisions. they are ignorance and deception – both come into play in the garden.

      1. ” The minute that God decreed/decided/determined that Satan should enter the garden to tempt Ada/Eve, [/quote]
        Decreed.

        ” … the end result was certain.”
        Foreknowledge

        ” … also decided not to intervene to help Adam”
        Permissive will.

  28. God’s mercy for salvation is for everyone no matter how one interprets man’s fallen nature. That is clearly taught by God Himself in Scripture. He is not playing games, as if He were saying one thing while having pre-determined something else!

    Jesus, our God, said preach the gospel to every creature! (Mk. 16:15) He wants all to believe its good news that their sins have been paid for (1John 2:2)! He wants them all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (2Tim. 2:4).

    God invites all to understand that His redemption is for everyone – “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool” (Isa 1:18). It depends only on whether they are “willing or obedient” to His universal invitation, or “refuse and rebel.” He is not playing games – as if He is inviting all, telling all their sins can be white as snow, all the while knowing its not really true!

    God is clear the He wants all the wicked to come – 3 “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you– The sure mercies of David…. 6 Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.
    7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him;
    And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. (Is 55: 3, 6, 7).” God is not faking it! His invitation is real and for all the wicked! He knows they are able to forsake their way because He has given that opportunity. But they must call on Him while He is near.

    Becoming one of the elect, the chosen, happens after receiving and accepting this invitation as Jesus clearly said when He said many are [being] the called, but few are [becoming] the chosen (Matt 22:14). The calling is proof that it is universal, even though all do not answer it to become one of the chosen. God’s plan was never for any to perish (2Pet 3:9), so when they do, it is because they refused to heed His merciful call, even though they heard it!

    1. brianwagner writes, “God’s mercy for salvation is for everyone no matter how one interprets man’s fallen nature.”

      Christ is the propitiation for sin. The gospel is to be preached to each and everyone. God’s mercy is for everyone. No games being played here.

      At the same time, Christ propitiated the sins of none but God’s elect. The gospel did not draw any but God’s elect. God extended mercy (grace) to His elect and none other.

      God gave His son so that believing people would not perish. Unbelieving people were never to be saved regardless God’s mercy.

      In the final analysis, it was God who delivered His elect from the power of darkness and translated His elect into the kingdom of Christ.

      1. Scriptures versus the harmful doctrines of Calvinism, professed to be true, but without clear Scriptures to back up those lies about God and His salvation!

  29. rhutchin:
    “OK. That is one conclusion that we can draw. Then there is the conclusion you draw which is….?”
    …………………………
    God has sovereignly decreed Total Ability to believe or reject God’s witnesses.

    1. PeanutGallery writes, “God has sovereignly decreed Total Ability to believe or reject God’s witnesses.”

      So, how are we to explain that some exercise that ability unto salvation and others until damnation? If all people have the same “Total Ability” what accounts for some not believing? Given that they truly had Total Ability.

  30. Soteriology 101, you said:

    “You assert that the lost man’s “nature is to reject the gospel.” But where does the bible specifically say this? A verse referencing the gospel would be appreciated. It seems unrealistic to suggest that God decreed for mankind to be born unable to respond to His own appeal to reconciled from the fallen condition because of his fallen condition. If a verse teaches this specifically, I’d love to see it.
    The only passages which suggest mankind cannot see, hear, understand and repent are those which speak of men becoming judicially hardened, not a natural condition from birth….like Acts 28:27-28”

    Since you asked, I offer a single verse at this point, Romans 8:7, as support that the lost man’s nature is to reject the gospel.

    7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (KJV)

    7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (ESV)

    I respectfully, submit to you that there are two types of ‘mind’ – carnal and spiritual. The lost person does not/cannot have a spiritual mind, for he is dead spiritually (without the spirit and unable to understand spiritual things [1 Cor 2:14]) The carnal mind is hostile to God and CANNOT please God (Rom 8:7).

    I now ask you, is it pleasing to God that lost persons receive/accept/believe the Gospel? If it is and the carnal mind cannot please God, and if it pleases God for men to accept/receive/believe the Gospel, how is it possible for the lost man, by nature, to do anything BUT reject the Gospel?

    There are other passages upon which I would make my case, but I honestly believe that the above romans passages rather emphatically answer the question at hand.

    thank you for your thoughts and consideration.

  31. rhutchin:
    “If all people have the same “Total Ability” what accounts for some not believing? Given that they truly had Total Ability.”
    …………………………………..
    Why would one choose to believe unto life …
    Why would one choose to reject unto death …
    Why would one choose to humble oneself …
    Why would one choose to pride oneself …

    Philosophical or scriptural question?

    1. The point is, in my opnion, that men are completely UNable to take a step toward God from natural ability, and that God must do something supernaturally to the human heart/will before any man will come willingly and salvifically to the Cross of Christ. The one who receives Christ does so because God has so acted upon his heart and will that when he sees his condition in sin and God’s remedy the hightst desire of his human heart is to run to the Cross. The one who rejects, rejects because it is in his very nature to reject.

      1. In the scenario set up by PeanutGallery, all people have Total Ability. That excludes your reason for rejection – “The one who rejects, rejects because it is in his very nature to reject.” So, PeanutGallery is stalling, desperately trying to think of an argument to explain how people with Total Ability can reject salvation.

    2. The issue is a no-brainer. A person with Total Ability to choose between eternal life and eternal death would always choose life. It’s a Scriptural question. How do the Scriptures explain the person who chooses death (other than as the Calvinisnts have proposed through TULIP)?

  32. Born4Battle:
    “The point is, in my opnion, that men are completely UNable to take a step toward God from natural ability, and that God must do something supernaturally to the human heart/will before any man will come willingly and salvifically to the Cross of Christ. ”
    ………………………….
    Totally depraved and spiritually not in fellowship with God; not unable to believe God’s witnesses.
    God does do something: He gives creation that testifies, law written in the hearts, conscience bearing witness, Holy Spirit reproving, and the gospel which is the power unto salvation to those who believe.

  33. rhutchin:
    “A person with Total Ability to choose between eternal life and eternal death would always choose life.”
    ……………………….
    Why would they always unconditionally choose life; would they choose life if the price was too great?

    1. Given your condition that the person have total ability, there would be no price too great for one person if other people did not have that same price – thus, all would reject salvation. What price do you think one person might have that another did not have and both still have total ability and also choose differently?

  34. rhutchin:
    “Given your condition that the person have total ability, there would be no price too great for one person if other people did not have that same price – thus, all would reject salvation.”
    ………………..
    You think all rejected this great price?
    Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
    Mark 10:22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.
    =====================
    “What price do you think one person might have that another did not have and both still have total ability and also choose differently?”

    Philosophical question?

    1. The person does not meet your initial condition of having total ability. Perhaps, you need to define what you mean by “total ability.” (From the Scriptures, of course.)

  35. rhutchin:
    “Perhaps, you need to define what you mean by “total ability.”
    ………………………………….
    What definition were you using when you stated?

    rhutchin:
    “A person with Total Ability to choose between eternal life and eternal death would always choose life.”

    1. I kinda thought I was using your definition with “total” meaning”total.” Now I am not sure. So, can you give us your official definition?

  36. rhutchin:
    “The person does not meet your initial condition of having total ability.”
    ………………………
    Did he believe Christ’s condition for life, or did he reject the condition for life?

    1. He rejected it. The issue is whether he had total ability in making that decision. Perhaps, the young man was as described by Paul in Romans 10, “[he] did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish [his] own,…” If so, I say the man did not have “total ability.” So, did he? That depends on what you mean by “total ability.”

  37. rhutchin:
    He rejected it. The issue is whether he had total ability in making that decision. Perhaps, the young man was as described by Paul in Romans 10, “[he] did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish [his] own,…” If so, I say the man did not have “total ability.” So, did he? That depends on what you mean by “total ability.”
    ……………
    Right; he had total ability to reject. He was not decreed by God to reject it.

    1. You are evading the issue (or perhaps, you don’t know the issue). That a person has total ability to reject salvation is Calvinism. On that point, you agree with the Calvinists.

      The real issue is whether he had total ability to accept. That depends on your definition of “total ability.” So. what is your definition?

      Whether the man was decreed by God to reject depends on your definition of sovereignty. Under the Calvinist definition of sovereignty – where God is both omniscient and omnipotent – God decrees all things (per Ephesians 1). So, what is your definition of “sovereignty”?

  38. rhutchin:
    “Under the Calvinist definition of sovereignty – where God is both omniscient and omnipotent – God decrees all things (per Ephesians 1). So, what is your definition of “sovereignty”?”
    …………………..
    God has sovereignly decreed that man, by his own volition/total ability, choose to believe or reject God’s witnesses.

    1. OK. You agree with the Calvinists on that. Now, take it a step further. Can a person with total ability accept God’s witnesses. For example, is it necessary that a person with also be drawn to Christ by God before he can exercise his total ability to accept. Or must a person with total ability also be convicted of his sin by the holy Spirit before he can accept.

      I suspect that you have not offered your definition of “total ability,” because you are having considerable difficulty devising a definition that is consistent with Scripture. Smarter people than you have tried and failed, so don’t feel bad. Keep at it, maybe you will be able to do that which no one else has been able to do (despite having total ability. :=).

      1. I by ‘total ability’, in terms of salvation, means a natural ability to choose or reject Christ, and since to choose Christ is certainly pleasing to God, what did Paul mean in Rom 8:7 that the carnally minded (every lost person) CANNOT please God?

  39. Born4Battle:
    I by ‘total ability’, in terms of salvation, means a natural ability to choose or reject Christ, and since to choose Christ is certainly pleasing to God, what did Paul mean in Rom 8:7 that the carnally minded (every lost person) CANNOT please God?
    ……………………………….
    Does it state that the carnal mind cannot repent?

    1. PeanutGallery asks, “Does it state that the carnal mind cannot repent?’

      Romans 8 tells us, “…the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Since God has commanded all to repent, (“…now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17)), so the carnal mind cannot repent. God must do something to enable the person to repent.

      1. If the carnal mind can do nothing pleasing to God, (and it does say that)and true repentance would be pleasing to God, I think you have your answer.

  40. rhutchin:
    “OK. You agree with the Calvinists on that.”
    ……………….
    Agree on which part?

    “Now, take it a step further. Can a person with total ability accept God’s witnesses.”
    ………
    Why not?

    “For example, is it necessary that a person with also be drawn to Christ by God before he can exercise his total ability to accept. ”
    ………………
    God does draw: creation that testifies, law written in the hearts, conscience bearing witness, Holy Spirit reproving, and the gospel which is the power unto salvation to those who believe.

    “Or must a person with total ability also be convicted of his sin by the holy Spirit before he can accept.”
    ……………….
    Of course, as I just stated: creation that testifies, law written in the hearts, conscience bearing witness, Holy Spirit reproving, and the gospel which is the power unto salvation to those who believe.

    1. rhutchin: “OK. You agree with the Calvinists on that.
      ”
PeanutGallery: Agree on which part?

      On your entire statement, “God has sovereignly decreed that man, by his own volition/total ability, choose to believe or reject God’s witnesses.” Calvinists agree that people have total ability to reject with nothing else required, The issue is whether a person with total ability can exercise that ability to accept without any other help from God. Thus the followup question.
      ++++

      rhutchin: “Now, take it a step further. Can a person with total ability accept God’s witnesses.”

      PeanutGallery: Why not?

      That’s the question we need to answer. So far, so good.
      ++++

      rhutchin: “For example, is it necessary that a person with also be drawn to Christ by God before he can exercise his total ability to accept.
      ”
PeanutGallery: God does draw: creation that testifies, law written in the hearts, conscience bearing witness, Holy Spirit reproving, and the gospel which is the power unto salvation to those who believe.

      You identify a key action by God – God does draw: …Holy Spirit reproving… Thus, not only must a person have total ability to accept, it is still necessary that the Holy Spirit reprove before the person is actually able to exercise that ability and accept.
      ++++

      rhutchin: “Or must a person with total ability also be convicted of his sin by the holy Spirit before he can accept.”

      PeanutGallery: Of course, as I just stated: creation that testifies, law written in the hearts, conscience bearing witness, Holy Spirit reproving, and the gospel which is the power unto salvation to those who believe.

      Correct.

      Therefore, as you have twice explained, “total ability” is sufficient for a person to reject; “total ability” is necessary but not sufficient for a person to accept. You have come to the same conclusion as the Calvinists on this issue. Good work!

      Now we see why you are having so much trouble with your definition of “total ability.” It can mean different things depending on how it is applied – in the one case being sufficient, in the other case, necessary but not sufficient.

  41. Born4Battle
    “Is repentance from sin pleasing to God?”
    …………………..
    By works or by faith?

  42. rhutchin:
    “… so the carnal mind cannot repent. God must do something to enable the person to repent.”
    ………………………..
    1Cor 3:1 AND I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
    1Cor 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
    1Cor 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

    How does God enable a regenerated carnal believer?

    1. You misunderstand what Paul says. Paul says “I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal (unspiritual or unsaved), even as unto babes in Christ (newly saved). There is no such thing as a carnal believer – one is either carnal or a believer (Tozer wrote a book on this entitled, “I Call It Heresy.” – The heresy being the idea that one can be both believer and carnal.)

      Look at the stinging rebuke – “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” That must have hurt – having Paul tell them that their actions argue that they are still unsaved. Can you imagine some Pastor telling someone in his church that he is unsaved because he acts like an unbeliever.

      Notice Paul’s lament, “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” Can you see the frustration in Paul’s statement – they are still drinking milk like babies when they should be eating meat like adults.

  43. Born4Battle:
    “That was a simple yes or no question.”
    ………………….
    By faith, yes.
    By works, no.

    1. So repentance by faith pleases God. If the carnal man cannot please God, he is not capable of exercising repentance that comes from faith. Faith itself pleases God. We are back to the starting point. Rom 8:7 tells us that the carnal man cannot possibility have total ability. He is Unable to please God.

      1. Two background verses to support your statement.

        “…without faith it is impossible to please God,…” (Hebrews 11)

        “…pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.” (2 Thessalonians 3)

        “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no-one can boast.” (Ephesians 2)

  44. Born4Battle:
    “No such thing as a regenerated carnal believer. God regenerates carnel men so that they can become regenerate spiritual children of God.”
    …………….
    Is a carnal babe in Christ a regenerate child of God?

  45. Anyone who has believed on Christ for the remission of sin is a regenerate child of God. All of God’s true children are by definition ‘regenerate’ because Jesus said that those who believe in Him have the right to become God’s children. Unbelievers might be His creation, but are not his ‘children’.

  46. rhutchin:
    “Therefore, as you have twice explained, “total ability” is sufficient for a person to reject; “total ability” is necessary but not sufficient for a person to accept.”
    ………….
    Both are not sufficient without God’s call. How can a person reject without hearing God’s call?

    1. PeanutGallery asks, “How can a person reject without hearing God’s call?”

      This Paul explains in Romans 2–

      1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.
      2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.
      3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

      No call of God is needed to reject God’s witnesses. A person need only act naturally – condemning others for that which he does – and thereby is God justified to judge him.

  47. rhutchin:
    “No call of God is needed to reject God’s witnesses.”
    ………………
    God’s witnesses are the call of God; the truth which they reject, so that they are without excuse.

    1. Romans 1 tells us that creation itself witnesses of the existence of God. That’s why there is no real atheist. There are only those who either have received and believe the truth and those who suppress the truth of God they already know. Anyone who says they don’t believe in God suppresses the truth / rejects the witness of God.

  48. Born4Battle:
    “Romans 1 tells us that creation itself witnesses of the existence of God. That’s why there is no real atheist. There are only those who either have received and believe the truth and those who suppress the truth of God they already know. Anyone who says they don’t believe in God suppresses the truth / rejects the witness of God.”
    ……………………
    Yes, not spiritually dead to the point they cannot believe God’s witnesses; rather, they volitionally will not believe.

    1. Whether “…not spiritually dead to the point they cannot believe God’s witnesses…” cannot be determined from this passage. As Romans progresses, Paul gets into more detail – and it doesn’t look good for your opinion.

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