“As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead” (Mark 9:9).
“Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ” (Matt. 16:20)
“But he gave them strict orders not to tell who he was” (Mark 3:12).
“Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him” (Mark 8:30).
The Handbook on Biblical Criticism (4th ed.) states, “Messianic Secret refers to a discernible phenomenon in the Gospels, most especially in the Gospel of Mark, in which Jesus explicitly conceals his messianic character and power until the closing period of his ministry.” [LINK]
One Oxford Theologian wrote in an essay over the subject of this “Messianic Secret,” stating:
“Despite the fact that in the Old Testament God is frequently said to harden hearts (e.g. Pharoah’s), it is difficult to imagine that deliberate obscurity was Jesus’ intention….The idea of God hardening the hearts of the Jews is itself Pauline: Rm 9.18. It is perhaps not without significance that in Acts 28.26 Paul’s last words to the Jews quote the same passage of Isaiah.”[LINK]
NOTICE: The “Messianic Secret,” if rightly understood, is not Jesus’ attempt to keep people from knowing, believing in, and following Him ultimately. Instead, it is the temporary means Jesus employed to accomplish redemption on Calvary so that all may be saved through faith in Him after His plan was fulfilled.
As the Apostle Paul noted:
“We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8-9).
Jesus knew that had they believed in Him before the right time then they would not have crucified Him. Therefore, the Lord graciously taught in parables “to those on the outside…so that, ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'” (Mark 4:11b-12).
John 6 is one of the most referenced chapters in the discussion over mankind’s God given abilities to respond willingly to the gospel appeal. Unfortunately, the issue of the “messianic secret” (or what I have referred to as “judicial hardening”) has been virtually ignored in many modern theological circles leading to false interpretations of these contested passages.
The audience in John 6 is a group of unbelieving Israelites looking for free food (vs. 25-31) and the twelve apostles (vs. 70). What is known about the Israelites of this day? Scripture reveals that they have “become calloused…otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them” (Acts 28:27). They were not born calloused, but over time they had grown hardened in their religious self-righteousness, which prevented them from hearing, seeing and responding to the revelation of God.
At this vital time in human history, they are being “judicially hardened” or “cut off” (Rom. 9:1-3) or “sent a spirit of stupor” (Rom. 11:8) so as to seal them in their already calloused condition (John 12:39-41; Acts 28:27). Scripture tells us that God is hardening the calloused Jews in order to accomplish a greater redemptive purpose through their rebellion. It is God’s ordained plan to bring redemption to the world through the crucifixion of the Messiah by the hands of the rebellious Jews (Acts 2:23).
Jesus is not attempting to persuade everyone to come to faith in great numbers as we see following Pentecost when Peter preaches (Acts 2:41). Quite the opposite seems to be the case, in fact. To accomplish the redemptive plan through Israel’s unbelief, we see Jesus actively instructing His apostles not to tell others who he is yet (Matt. 16:20; Mark 8:30; 9:9).
Moreover, Jesus purposefully speaks in parables in order to prevent the Jewish leaders coming to faith and repentance (Matt. 13:11-15; Mark 4:11-13). When great numbers began to believe Jesus was truly prophetic, notice how Jesus responded: “‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself” (John 6:14-15). Earlier in the same gospel we learn that “many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them…” (John 2:23b-24a). John later reveals this has been a key part of God’s redemptive plan all along:
Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: “Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: “He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn–and I would heal them” (John 12:39-40, emphasis added)
For WHAT reason could they not believe? Is it because they were rejected by their Maker before the world began? Is it about their being born incapable of responding willingly to God’s own appeals for reconciliation by God’s unchangeable decree? Of course not! They are being temporarily blinded in their already calloused condition so as to accomplish redemption for the world. This is not about God rejecting most of humanity before the world began as the Calvinistic systematic reads into these texts.
More than merely blinding the already rebellious Jews, Jesus is actively provoking them with very difficult teachings. In John 6:51-58 he tells them to eat his flesh and drink his blood without explanation or clarification. Verses 60 and 61 clearly indicate the difficulty of these teachings for His audience. Jesus is obviously not attempting to persuade this group to stay and support His teaching. He is provoking them purposefully.
In John 6 Jesus is addressing a large group of people nicknamed “the elect of God” who have “grown calloused” against His clear revelation and thus are being “given over to their stubbornness” or “blinded” from seeing the truth of who He is. This contextual information is very significant when attempting to understand the author’s intention with regard to the natural inability of mankind from birth, one of the primary Calvinistic premises.
SIDE NOTE: This is the point James White neglected to address in our debate and it continues to be the point most Calvinists seemingly refuse to engage with any level of depth.
So what do the scholarly Calvinists say about this issue? Here are some answers I have dug up in my studies:
- Passages such as Mark 4:11-12 are about Jesus preventing the crowds from making Him into a King because they have a false view of what His role will be as the Messiah. (This is likely what James White was referencing in our debate when he spoke of Jesus using parables to “prevent false conversions.”)
- By telling His apostles to keep the truth secret (Matt. 16:20) Jesus is sparing their lives because he knows they will be killed too if they attempt to convince everyone Jesus is the Messiah before the right time.
I believe there is truth to both of these claims. Indeed, Jesus did not want the crowds to merely believe in Him as their earthly king who would lead them to conquer Rome. And, it likely could have cost the apostles their lives if they had began to speak too openly about the identity of the Messiah. All of this is true, but how does it address the scriptures explicitly stated reasons for blinding Israel?
What does the text tell us is the reason that Jesus used parables?
The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ” ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ …With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. (Mark 4:11-12; 33-34) emphasis added).
Do “false converts seeking a conquering king” turn and experience the healing of God’s forgiveness, as this text explicitly states? Does this passage say that the purpose of the parables was to spare the lives of His apostles? If God wanted to express these as the reasons for His use of parables He certainly had the ability to inspire them to write:
“The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might become false converts, force me to be their warrior king, or possibly kill you when you try to convince them I am the long awaited Messiah.”
But that is NOT what the inspired authors wrote. The New Testament author’s reference to this prophecy clearly reveals that God’s plan was to use these types of means to seal Israel’s rebellious hearts in their unbelief temporarily so they would not “turn and be forgiven“ until His purpose was accomplished.
This does not have to be an “either/or” proposition. Christ’s use of parables and commands to keep his identity hidden served to accomplish both redemption on Calvary and these other secondary purposes. The question is whether each of us will submit to the clear truth of God’s revelation or attempt to explain it away in order to fit our own presuppositions.
Calvinists I have debated over the years, when first confronted with my perspective, are sometimes taken aback by this interpretation. For instance, on a theological message board one Calvinistic friend wrote, “Leighton, your argument that God blinded Israel to prevent them from coming to faith sounds very Calvinistic to me.”
I responded, “Really? What is there to blind if they are born totally blind as your doctrine of Total Inability suggests?”
The doctrine of judicial hardening completely undermines Calvinism’s doctrine of Total Inability. There is no practical or theological reason for God to put a blind fold on those born totally and completely blind from birth. And there is certainly no reason to judicially harden a soul born in the “corpse-like dead” condition of “Total Inability” proposed by the T of the Calvinistic systematic.
Plus, in my interpretation the hardening is not a permanent condition set before time began that seals most of humanity into a hopeless condition for all eternity. Instead, it is a temporary condition of those who have freely rebelled for a long time, which ultimately has the redemptive goal of provoking the hardened Jews to envy so that they too might be saved (Rom. 11:14).
Despite my insistence that judicial hardening is for a good cause, some of my non-Calvinistic friends also express concerns about this teaching. And I admit, it is a fair concern. Should we really believe Jesus was intentionally obscuring the truth of who He was while on earth? Doesn’t that teaching undermine God’s goodness and love for all people? Can’t that be interpreted as violating human free will and responsibility?
Recently an esteemed mentor said to me, “It concerns me that you are conceding too much to the Calvinists on this point.” He went on to tell me that phrases like “‘judicial hardening’ are the kinds of phrases used by the Calvinist,” implying we should not use them. Though I have the deepest respect for this scholar, I simply disagree. We cannot and should not attempt to avoid the clear biblical teaching of God’s use of these judicial means to accomplish His redemptive plan. After all, these issues are the ACTUAL objections being addressed in the contraversial diatribe questions presented by Paul’s interlocutor in Romans chapter 3 and 9.
I have also had a few notable Arminian scholars object to my teaching of judicial hardening as being “idiosyncratic” and not consistent with “Arminian doctrine.” While I have never claimed to be an “Arminian,” nor do such labels interest me, I do find it beneficial to provide supporting documentation of notable biblical scholars when possible. Ironically, Jacobus Arminius taught as I do regarding this doctrine in his commentary over Romans 9.
“Arminius explains that hardening is a punishment for prior sins, and even though the person at that moment cannot avoid sinning, they are still responsible, because they deserved the hardening of freewill. Paul first reproves the objector for insolence and then explains that God forms sinners who reject His grace into vessels of wrath…” [LINK]
The doctrine of judicial hardening (or similarly the “messianic secret”) should not be a troubling doctrine for the non-Calvinistic (or Arminian) believer. In fact, when understood rightly it highlights the gracious sovereignty of a God who loves and provides salvation for every man, woman, boy, and girl–yes, even calloused, self-righteous enemies of the gospel. I will close with a segment from my book, The Potter’s Promise that explains this further:
This interaction reminded me of another story from early in my ministry as a young student pastor. I counseled with a middle-aged couple that had a rebellious twenty-year-old son still living at home. He would stay out all hours, come home drunk or high and wreak havoc in their family. The poor couple was a wreck and seeking Godly counsel. We talked for a while about the root of the issue but I finally ended up directing them to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 where the church had to deal with a brother living in perpetual rebellion. Paul advised the church to cast the brother out “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (vs. 5).
I carefully explained to this heartbroken couple that sometimes the most loving thing a parent can do for a wayward child is to let them go (Lk. 15:11-32). Even non-Christian counselors have modeled the advise of scripture by “refusing to enable someone in their addictions.” This is painful and incredibly difficult to do to someone you genuinely love.
The hurting couple followed this biblical counsel and ended up having to kick their own son out of his home. When other church members would ask the couple about him they would become incredibly uncomfortable and often change the subject as quickly as possible. One day I asked his mother why she always diverted attention away from what had happen. She told me she was ashamed of what they had done. She believed it was really the best thing for them to do, but she did not believe others would see it that way. She thought others would think she was a terrible mother for kicking her own son out of their home. It took months for her to realize she had nothing for which to be ashamed because what she had done was purely from the heart of love and a genuine desire for reconciliation with her child. Last I heard, their son had finally hit rock bottom and was in a rehab facility hoping for a full recovery.
What in the world does that story have to do with Romans 9-11 and the natural tendency of some to feel ashamed about what it appears to teach? The feeling of shame comes from the belief that God has cut off large portions of humanity for some nefarious or self-seeking reason. Some skip these texts or hide them in closets because they read of a Heavenly Father who has kicked out much of his own creation, and it is a bit embarrassing. It’s hard to swallow. It’s controversial.
But, should it be embarrassing? Should we be any more embarrassed about what God is doing in Romans 9-11 than what that couple did to their wayward son? Now, as a non-Calvinistic believer I can unashamedly answer that question, “Absolutely not!” God was acting solely out of a heart of mercy and a genuine desire for the reconciliation of every individual (Lk. 19:42). He is cutting off Israelites not because he hates them from before the creation of the world. He is cutting them off in mercy, like the heartbroken couple longing to bring their son to repentance and reconciliation by locking him out of their home. Our heavenly Father is longing for the repentance of every calloused Israelite (Rom. 11:11-23). In His divine wisdom, He knows that is best accomplished through cutting them off rather than enabling them in their rebellion.
For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. (Rom. 11:32)
- Mark S. Kinzer, Post-Messianic Judiaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005), 129-130, 135, 152: “Whatever answer we give to this question [the question of judicial hardening], we know that Paul was convinced that God partially hardened Israel so that blessing might come to the nations of the world… Whereas a traditional reading of Romans 9-11 has seen the hardening of nonremnant Israel as exclusively punitive in nature, the texts we have been exploring point in another direction… Also building upon Hays, Harink makes the theological implication thoroughly explicit: ‘It is not possible to see Israel’s present hardening as its unique (but unknowing) participation in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ…’ While in Pauline language, Israel has experienced a ‘partial hardening’ that temporarily prevents her from corporately embracing Yeshua-faith, she nevertheless remains a holy people, set apart for God and God’s purposes.”
41 thoughts on “The Messianic Secret”
Great, great article. The verse after Romans 11:32 is pertinent as well: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
The slightest turn of a phrase or selection of wording can be decisive with regard to a person being influenced one way or the other. Christ spoke in parables in the precise way to perform his Messianic mission with optimal care, deftness, and cleverness, and yielding the orchestrated outcome — redemption through Cross and the institution of the New Covenant — by means of his teachings and his selectively-performed miraculous interventions among the natural wills of normal people.
When we ask “Why did he keep it a secret sometimes?” we could also ask “Why did Jesus pay a tax when it was unfair to him? (Matthew 17:26-27)” and “Why did Jesus run away sometimes (John 8:59), but let himself be captured later?” The answer is, “Because optimally performing a mission involves different tactics in different times and circumstances.”
Romans ch. 11 is especially important here, because it tells us precisely that the unelect among Israel are unelect for a reason, and that they are not beyond recovery. It isn’t “for no prospective point” that some folks are to wallow in disobedience for a while, even disobedience catalyzed by the commissions and omissions of God — it’s ancillary to the Lord’s timed-out, calculated plan.
I’m not sure elect or chosen pertains to salvation. The whole nation of Israel is and was known as the chosen people of God. Yet not all of them were saved. I think in 1peter2:9-12 Peter still calls the believing Jewish “a chosen race.” So whenever we read Paul talking to gentile believers he counters Peter by calling the Gentiles chosen and elect of God. In the same way as not all the Jewish of the Old Testament were saved but the nation was still called “chosen by God,” likewise not every individual gentile chooses to believe in Christ for salvation, but God still chose to save Gentiles. We don’t have to become Jewish first to be followers of Christ. So to refer to saved Jews as elect and unsaved as non elect is confusing. It makes it seem like you believe God chooses some people before the foundation of the world to be believing, and some to be unbelieving.
Although I admit some verses seem to say that. Like 1peter 1: 1-2. Which gives a person like me little hope for salvation. I’m very unbelieving, even when I try not to be. It’s hard for me sometimes to read the bible and not be convinced God does not want me to believe. If I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure I believe, and if 1 Peter 1:1-2 means he chooses some to believe and some to not believe, well then I’m fighting a losing battle. I could be thinking I believe but really just be holding the truth in unrighteousness as Romans 1:18 says.
Sorry Stanrock. I went off topic. It’s just that even non Calvinists believe God chooses some to believe and some to not believe and this teaching is causing me to doubt everything. Gods actual love for me. Whether Jesus actually died for me or just the elect. Am I so unbelieving because God made me that way, or because I have a problem that I myself made? Either way I need to trust in Jesus personally for my salvation and if there is even a possibility that God doesn’t want me then I can’t be sure I’m saved. I like Professor Flowers’ take on the bible. It gives me hope.
The context of Romans ch. 11 pertains to salvation. Notice what happens with the “pleroma” of Jews (v 12) and “pleroma” of Gentiles (v 25-26), concluding in v 32.
God always has the option to swoop in and prove himself to somebody. For the most part, he doesn’t do this; even in Scripture, there are only a few dozen “proving” miracles over the course of millennia. For the most part, in Scripture, it’s a waiting game, even such that Biblical heroes cry out and lament over this.
Because it’s his decision to omit, he bears superordinate responsibility for everything catalyzed by this omission. But it’s all in eventual service of the Romans 11 upshot.
Classical Arminian perspective for people’s reference:
I’m not sure this is a proper use or understanding of judicial hardening. God didn’t blind them and make them sin so that they’d kill Jesus. Even if they didn’t crucify him some sinner somewhere could. God blinded them to Jesus because they rejected the prevenient grace to prepare the way of the Lord and make his paths straight. Judicial hardening only applies to people already resisting God and is only a judgment not a redemptive grace. It’s like saying God hardened Pharaoh so he could save Pharaoh later (which never happened). By the time the Pharisees condemned Christ, they had so hardened themselves they had committed the unpardonable sin. Christ didn’t play “peek-a-boo” with people so they could see who he was only after his death. Christ said “While the light is with you believe on the light.” That’s not redemptive judicial hardening. Nobody who wanted to see Christ was blinded by God—nobody! As Christ said, he came so that whose who were blind could see, and those who claimed to see would be shown to be blind. Judicial hardening is the judgment for using religion to please the flesh life. Also it doesn’t somehow disprove Total Inability because Prevenient Grace is constantly working in the people called by God. I’d argue if you reject Total Inability that judicial hardening makes no sense at all, then you have God hardening people who not hard yet. Why would God harden soft people? God does not harden soft people; he hardens people already resisting grace and by doing so making themselves hard! That means, without prevenient grace, judicial hardening makes no sense at all. It would be God preventing people from what God himself wanted of them. There is no one anywhere that God doesn’t want to “turn and be forgiven,” the only reason God would prevent it is judgment for a prior sin.
1. We agree JH applies to people already resisting God. I’ve attempted to make that clear again and again. I need to do better apparently.
2. We agree that God doesn’t make those under JH sin. Another point I’ve attempted to highlight but may need to work on. The cop hiding his presence allows any speeder to FREELY CHOOSE to speed. The cop doesn’t cause speeders by hiding himself.
3. If one take the gospel as a gracious and sufficient work of prevenient grace (as I do) then I can also agree that God was “withholding” further PG, as some Arminians attempt to argue.
4. We don’t know what happened to Pharaoh, but the point is that the hardened Israelites MIGHT be saved…they still have a choice in the matter, so you point doesn’t apply regarding hardening Pharaoh so as to save him.
5. Many of Christ explicit saying are said with his disciples and smaller groups. I never deny that Christ clearly teaches truth while here on earth. I’ve only pointed out that at times in his ministry he kept things quite or obscured for a greater purpose. One crowd may have been “safer” than another or the teaching recorded at various times in his ministry. The point remains if he sought to obscure His identity even once.
It seems we are very close in our views but I don’t accept the unbiblical concepts of innate inability from birth due to the fall making people incapable of responding willingly to Gods own appeals to be reconciled from that fall. Thus I understand Gods revelatory work in the gospel as sufficiently gracious and powerful to accomplish the purpose for which it was sent. “So that you might believe and by believing have life in his name” (Jn 20:31)
You make some good points. I think we can agree on these things:
1. God will be as merciful as he can possibly be under his system of rules he created.
2. God never encourages, incites or causes sin, rather a withdrawal of his grace gives sin room to grow.
This might lead to the conclusion God can use a judgment for a redemptive purpose. I agree it’s possible and there are hints of it in Scripture. I feel a great need for caution in teaching something like that, simply for a pastoral view of how the implications will be practically lived out: saints might think it’s “ok” to become hard because God will use it for a redemptive purpose somehow. I would see that as dangerous ground to walk upon—but of course I completely realize that was the farthest thing from your mind. What I’m thinking about rather, is how some might misapprehend and misapply this idea. Because what is the actual end of the blinding passage so often quoted from Isaiah?
Then I said, “Lord, how long?”
And He answered:
Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man,
The land is utterly desolate,
The Lord has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
Is this echoed in the New Testament anywhere? I’d argue this does:
Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes… because you did not know the time of your visitation… See! Your house is left to you desolate…
We get the same themes that blinding is a straight up judgment for rebellion. It can be hard to see a redemptive purpose in the fearful judgments of God, but we are taught that if God can find a way to show mercy he always will. We find a bit of redemptive hope in some of these passages:
But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump.
And in the NT:
…for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
“so that his spirit might perhaps be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
I think why people like myself and brother Jeff might be reacting is the implication that God caused or planned this hardening for a good purpose. Notice the consistent phraseology of the article:
Scripture tells us that God is hardening the calloused Jews in order to accomplish a greater redemptive purpose through their rebellion.
To accomplish the redemptive plan through Israel’s unbelief, we see Jesus actively instructing His apostles not to tell others who he is yet (Matt. 16:20; Mark 8:30; 9:9).
They are being temporarily blinded in their already calloused condition so as to accomplish redemption for the world.
Moreover, Jesus purposefully speaks in parables in order to prevent the Jewish leaders coming to faith and repentance (Matt. 13:11-15; Mark 4:11-13).
…God’s plan was to use these types of means to seal Israel’s rebellious hearts in their unbelief temporarily so they would not “turn and be forgiven“ until His purpose was accomplished.
…the clear biblical teaching of God’s use of these judicial means to accomplish His redemptive plan.
More than merely blinding the already rebellion Jews, Jesus is actively provoking them with very difficult teachings…. He is provoking them purposefully.
…it is difficult to imagine that deliberate obscurity was Jesus’ intention…
Should we really believe Jesus was intentionally obscuring the truth of who He was while on earth?
God was acting solely out of a heart of mercy and a genuine desire for the reconciliation of every individual (Lk. 19:42).
He is cutting them off in mercy, like the heartbroken couple longing to bring their son to repentance and reconciliation by locking him out of their home. Our heavenly Father is longing for the repentance of every calloused Israelite (Rom. 11:11-23). In His divine wisdom, He knows that is best accomplished through cutting them off rather than enabling them in their rebellion.
We cannot and should not attempt to avoid the clear biblical teaching of God’s use of these judicial means to accomplish His redemptive plan.
Notice the constant implication that God is “actively” doing a blinding to “accomplish” something. This trespasses for some of us on the Calvinistic deterministic idea that God combatibilistically manipulates the evil actions of humans according to his purpose for a good intention, thus somehow indirectly attributing the autonomous evil of humans to God’s intention and desire. Let me be clear that I don’t think that’s what you meant to convey—your entire blog is devoted to countering the idea—but I think many of would object to using the idea God “actively hardens people to accomplish his purpose.” God may harden people in judgment, but he is not actively accomplishing his purpose thereby; if his purpose is accomplished, it won’t be because he judged people for sin, it will be in spite of that.
Maybe we can use the cookie scenario again. When my child enters the kitchen to contemplate stealing a cookie, and I hide myself, am I hiding myself for the purpose of actively hardening my child to accomplish a redemptive purpose? No, I just want my child to do the right thing without coercion. Once the child disobeys or rebels, negative consequences ensue, yet my love will not change or wane, nor will my purpose. I may try my very best to bring something redemptive out of it, and I may succeed in doing so; but to imply I in any way actively caused or desired a sin for a greater purpose, feels to trespass on manipulating and using the autonomous will in a way that does not allow it to be completely free.
Or in the case of the police officer hiding from the speeding car, so as the enact the greater good of teaching the speeder a good or better lesson in the end. I don’t think God sees sin that way—as something he wants to allow us to do to learn our lesson. We could derive a lesson like that from the prodigal son. I might be hard pressed to completely defend against the idea Scripturally; yet the wages of sin is death. I can’t see a poison like sin ever bringing good results under any scenario. The speeder and the child face real consequences for their trespasses; they may be able to realize their need by being allowed to “sow their wild oats” but it would always be better if they hadn’t. Can I see God blinding and hardening people because it was the absolute best thing to do for them? I struggle with that idea. But I’d never deny in judgment he remembers mercy—I just do think there is a point of no return. It will go better for Sodom and Gomorrah on judgment day than for many who were judicially hardened.
This is really good, Leighton. You’re right, there’s no reason to back up from God hardening the rebellious majority of 1st century Jews. There’s nothing “Calvinistic” about this truth. First of all, it’s not like the rebel Jews never had a choice. They obviously would never have been hardened if they hadn’t been willfully and persistently rejecting God’s truth. In other words, they weren’t hardened because God rejected them; they were hardened because THEY rejected GOD. Second, as you’ve said, God hardened them to accomplish His plan of salvation for THEIR benefit as well as the rest of the world. We know from Romans 11 that the Jews who were hardened did NOT stumble so as to fall; that was never God’s intention. They still had a chance to be “grafted back in again” if they could be provoked to jealousy by God’s attention to the Gentiles. Thus, hardening has nothing to do with arbitrary damnation as Calvinists seem to believe. All of this totally FLIES IN THE FACE of Calvinistic teaching and is 100% BIBLICAL. Awesome, brother! Keep it up! 🙂
I should add this comment in the article! Well stated!
Leighton, I think you misunderstand the purpose of Isaiah’s commission by God in Isaiah 6. Too often, theologians approach this commission to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8ff as if God cast a magical sleep spell on Israel to turn the people against God. God’s purpose in sending Isaiah is not to initiate a divine judicial hardening of Israel so that they are divinely made not to repent and obey God; rather God sends Isaiah to continuously prophecy to Israel about their sins and it is due to this incessant prophetic word against Israel that will make Israel harden themselves against Isaiah and God. Israel only wanted to hear good news about their nation. Cf. Isaiah 30:9-11,
9 For this is a rebellious people, false sons,
Sons who refuse to listen
To the instruction of the LORD;
10 Who say to the seers, “You must not see visions”;
And to the prophets, “You must not prophesy to us what is right,
Speak to us pleasant words,
11 “Get out of the way, turn aside from the path,
Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
God’s words to Isaiah in Isaiah 6:9-10 are not to be understood as God’s plan to divinely harden Israel. When God tells Isaiah to “render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, their eyes dim” God is instructing Isaiah to prophecy to Israel relentlessly, and it is this relentless preaching against Israel that will make the people obstinate to God’s word. Isaiah asks how long he has to preach and God replies that Isaiah is to keep preaching “until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people” etc. God is destroying the vanity of the nation but not trying to keep Israel from repentance, or knowing God, or understanding. But God is telling Isaiah that is what will happen when the people only hear bad news about their sins over and over and over again.
“Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “Lord, how long?” And He answered,
“Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant,
Houses are without people
And the land is utterly desolate,
12 “The Lord has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
1. I don’t believe God cast a magic spell on Israel and I’m not sure what I wrote that lead you to draw that kind of conclusion.
2. I don’t believe Gods ultimate goal is to keep Israel from repentance…just the opposite
Please reread the article more carefully and all the way to the end. Thank you.
I have read your article and that’s exactly why I wrote my response. This is what you wrote,
“At this vital time in human history, they are being “judicially hardened” or “cut off” (Rom. 9:1-3) or “sent a spirit of stupor” (Rom. 11:8) so as to seal them in their already calloused condition (John 12:39-41; Acts 28:27). Scripture tells us that God is hardening the calloused Jews in order to accomplish a greater redemptive purpose through their rebellion. It is God’s ordained plan to bring redemption to the world through the crucifixion of the Messiah by the hands of the rebellious Jews (Acts 2:23).”
“The New Testament author’s reference to this prophecy clearly reveals that God’s plan was to use these types of means to seal Israel’s rebellious hearts in their unbelief temporarily so they would not “turn and be forgiven“ until His purpose was accomplished.”
That is exactly NOT what is meant in the Isaiah passage that is later quoted in the gospels. God did not task Isaiah to “send a spirit of stupor” upon Israel to judicially harden them in order to seal them as callous. God does not seal people in callous natures. Death will do that, but not God. The Isaiah 29 reference to sending a stupor that Paul uses in Romans 11 is about the removal of prophets from Israel, not a judicial hardening so that the Jews can’t believe in order to accomplish a greater salvific good. The Pauline quote from the OT is about removing the Word from the Jews as punishment for repeated sin.
8 For the LORD has poured over you a spirit of deep sleep,
He has shut your eyes, the prophets;
And He has covered your heads, the seers.
God is not punishing the Jews with the aim of keeping them hardened against him. He is punishing them for sin by removing his Word from the nation. There is a big difference. Likewise, Jesus is not speaking in parables to seal the hearts of Jews “outside” against him. His use of parables is analogous to the situation that Isaiah found himself in when he was sent by God. Generations of prophets had gone before him, multitudes of miracles wrought in the presence of Israel. Jesus proclaimed and worked miracles also, prior and after the gospels record his first parabolic teachings. And yet many Jews remained stubborn and rebellious. When God commissions Isaiah, he tells him to preach until their ears grow tired of hearing the Word—just as Jesus had done daily in synagogues throughout the land. The use of parabolic language wasn’t meant to keep Jews from believing him, it was to entice Jews to mull on the Word. To those who were hungry for the Word, they would receive understanding. Like Isaiah’s audience, those who tired of the Word Jesus preached would not seek further understanding of the parables.
From Mark 4:
10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. 11 And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, 12 so that while seeing, they may see and not perceive, and while hearing, they may hear and not understand, otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”
This is not judicial hardening. Unwillingness on the part of the people to receive Jesus’ message of the kingdom was the reason that He taught in parables. The truths of the kingdom of God were heard by them, but not understood. It was not because God was hiding the truth from them-it was because they did not want to hear. The division among the people between those who wanted to hear and understand the parables, and those who didn’t was not intended to judicially harden the latter group. It was to entice them out of their callousness, not to leave them in it.
I agree that removing revelation (refraining from sending a prophet) is a good example of judicial hardening. I’ve never implied that it was a magical curse.
And I agree the goal was to entice them out of their calloused state. This is why I wondered if you really read my whole article.
Some of you may remember my conversation with two Calvinists here: http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/4025918
Drew, one of those two Calvinists wrote a blog article in rebuttal to this one and I’d like to reply to it. Here is his article: https://reformedbaptistdaily.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/jesus-parables-as-judgment-a-response-to-leighton-flowers-view-of-the-purpose-of-the-parables/
I should begin by saying that I believe Drew does a good job covering this topic and writes very clearly. Few Calvinists, in my experience, take the time to confront this particular issue so I commend my brother for his diligence to go where others do not. Kudos for that!
Drew concedes in the beginning that he agrees with some of what I wrote, and I concur. In fact, if not for my knowledge of the Calvinistic affirmation of the doctrine of Total Inability (and the rest of TULIP), I would agree without qualification with much of what Drew (and MacArthur, who he quotes) say on this matter. Let’s look at a few examples of what I mean:
Drew writes, “To these close disciples of Jesus – those who had ears to hear and eyes to see – the parables were a means of explaining the kingdom of God. To those who did not have ears to hear and eyes to see, but hardened their hearts at the teachings of Jesus, the parables were a means of judgment, confirming them in their rebellious way.”
Of course I might be able to agree with these words, though I doubt Drew and I would mean the same thing. See, the Calvinists believe those who have ears to hear and eyes to see are those irresistibly regenerated by God’s effectual grace because God unconditionally chose them before the world began. I, however, believe the author is speaking of the broken, humbled, or a contrite heart (Is. 66:2, etc), which is man’s response-ability in response to God’s clear revelation. From my perspective, one who has humbled himself is able to see/hear whereas the stubborn self-righteous ‘know it all’ is not. So, if you read this statement from the Calvinist perspective its as if he is saying:
“To these close to the disciples of Jesus– those elected and effectually given new ears and eyes—the parables were a means of explaining the kingdom of God (yet for some reason Jesus still had to explain the parables to them privately…why?). To those born rejected by their Maker, condemned from birth without any eyes or hears for a reason they had absolutely no influence over whatsoever, they became more hardened to the teaching of Jesus (how is it more ‘hard’ than the natural condition of ‘total inability’ from birth, I do not know?), the parable were a means God used to judge those born blind for not being able to see and those born deaf for not being able to hear, confirming them in the way they were born by God’s unchangeable decree due to the sin of Adam.”
Drew’s interpretation has God judging people born deaf/blind for their inability to hear/see by telling them symbolic parables even the seeing/hearing people needed explained to them privately and the deaf/blind people couldn’t have understood even apart from the parabolic means. How does that work?
Try reading the above statement with my premise of human responsibility (ability to willingly respond to God’s revelation) fully intact and all those pesky issues go away:
“To these close disciples of Jesus – those who humbled themselves by admitting they needed help, had ears to hear and eyes to see – the parables were a means of explaining the kingdom of God (even though they had to seek private lessons to get the real gist of their meaning). To those who did not have ears to hear and eyes to see due to their own stubborn, self-righteous rebellion, hardened their hearts to the teachings of Jesus and didn’t even seek to understand there real meanings. These parables served as means of judgment (i.e. judicial hardening/blinding), confirming them in their *freely chosen* rebellious way.”
This same process can be done with MacArthur’s quote: “While the parables do illustrate and clarify truth for those with ears to hear, they have precisely the opposite effect on those who oppose and reject Christ. The symbolism hides the truth from anyone without the discipline or desire to seek out Christ’s meaning. That’s why Jesus adopted that style of teaching. It was a divine judgment against those who met His teaching with scorn, unbelief, or apathy.”
Calvinistic interpretation laid out clearly: “While the parables do illustrate and clarify truth for those elect who are effectually made to understand them, they have precisely the opposite effect on the reprobate who remain under the curse of the fall and God’s unchangeable decree for them to be incapable of understanding and accepting God’s revealed truth whether spoken in parables or not. The symbolism hides the truth from anyone without the discipline or desire to seek out Christ’s meaning, which is everyone except God’s effectually regenerated elect (and why are we hiding truth with symbolism from people born unable to accept it anyway?). That’s why Jesus adopted that style of teaching. It was a divine judgment against those who only did what they were born effectually made to do which was to met His teaching with scorn, unbelief, or apathy so as to bring God Glory.”
MacArthur continues, but this time lets take one line at a time and provide a clear translation of what is meant when the TULIP doctrine is fully in view:
Mac: “In short, Jesus’ parables had a clear twofold purpose: They hid the truth from self-righteous or self-satisfied people who fancied themselves too sophisticated to learn from Him”
Translation: “In short, Jesus’ parables had a clear twofold purpose: They hid the truth from non-elect reprobates who were born only able to be self-righteous or self-satisfied people who fancied themselves too sophisticated to learn from Him, and wouldn’t have been able to understand the truth even if it was NOT hidden in parables.”
Mac: “while the same parables revealed truth to eager souls with childlike faith – those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness.”
Translation: “while the same parables revealed truth to the unconditionally elected ones that God effectually gave eager souls with childlike faith – those who were hungering and thirsting for righteousness because God irresistibly caused them to want to do so. And these same people needed private lessons for Jesus to explain there meanings, though because of their effectual regeneration, they would have understood and accepted any means of teaching (parabolic or not) that God sovereignly wanted them to understand and accept.”
Mac: “Jesus thanked His Father for both results: ‘I thank You, father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight (Matt. 11:25-26).”
Translation: “Jesus thanked His Father for both results: ‘I thank You, father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the non-elect reprobates that you rejected before the world began and decreed to be born this condition and who couldn’t have understood your truth even if you hadn’t hid it in parables, and have effectually revealed it to your elect ones who would have understood any message, parabolic or not. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight…”
Now, I can anticipate Drew’s reaction to this. He is going to think I’m being unreasonable. He will say I’m totally misrepresenting Calvinism. He will say I’m putting words in their mouths that they would never say. I can understand that reaction. It is difficult to face the clear implications of your system’s views, but I challenge every reader to go back and re-read what I wrote and specifically spell out what I said that misrepresents what Calvinists have affirmed in their other doctrines. Quote me verbatim and explain why that isn’t an accurate representation of what Calvinists really believe. Blanket accusations do not further a rational or helpful discourse, so I plead with my Calvinistic brethren to make specific arguments.
Finally I want to point out a few misunderstandings of my view on Drew’s part:
In reference to 1 Cor 2, which I quote: “We speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8-9).
Drew wrote, “In essence, Flowers is asserting that God actively blinded or hid the wisdom of his redemptive plan from these rulers so that he could bring about the gospel – the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This, however, is the exact opposite of the meaning of the text. Paul is not addressing the concept of hiding the truth, but of revealing the truth.”
In 1 Cor. 2 Paul indeed is addressing the revelation of truth because this is AFTER Christ has been raised and the gospel has been sent. I quoted the verse to point out that the “wisdom has been hidden” and it was “secret” IN THE PAST. As Eph. 3 affirms:
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 ***which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets***
Drew seems to think I quoted Paul to prove the truth is still being hidden in the same manner it was when Christ spoke in parables, but that is a misunderstanding of our view.
Next, Drew wrongly asserts that I believe Christ always, at all times while on earth, was equally hiding these truths. That is not what I argued. Drew wrote, “First, the fact that Jesus went around preaching repentance and faith, sending out his disciples, and identifying himself as the Messiah at times, disproves Flowers’ first assertion (e.g. Mtt. 4:17; 10:5-14; Mk. 1:14-15; Lk. 4:15-21; 10:1-12).”
Incorrect. If I had asserted that Jesus never did these things Drew might have a point, but I clearly indicate this is something Jesus did “at times” throughout his ministry as he saw was necessary. Like a great chess master knows when to keep his big pieces hidden and in the back only to bring them out at just the right time, so too Jesus was a master at strategy in accomplishing His ultimate purposes. At times he certainly felt it was okay to be more open than He was at other times. This doesn’t change the point of my argument. In fact, if Jesus only used one parable just once while on earth to delay even one person from ‘turning and being forgiven’ then my point would stand.
Drew said, “the reason Jesus hid his identity was not to prevent the vast majority of Jews from repenting and believing so as to accomplish God’s redemptive plan of the cross, but to prevent the Jews from attempting to carry out their false concept of the Messiah…”
Actually, if Drew rereads my article I acknowledge this a both/and not either/or teaching. I wrote,
“Indeed, Jesus did not want the crowds to merely believe in Him as their earthly king who would lead them to conquer Rome. And, it likely could have cost the apostles their lives if they had began to speak too openly about the identity of the Messiah. All of this is true, but how does it address the scriptures explicitly stated reasons for blinding Israel?
What does the text tell us is the reason that Jesus used parables?
The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, ” ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’ …With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything. (Mark 4:11-12; 33-34) emphasis added).
Do “false converts seeking a conquering king” turn and experience the healing of God’s forgiveness, as this text explicitly states? …
This does not have to be an “either/or” proposition. Christ’s use of parables and commands to keep his identity hidden serve to accomplish both redemption on Calvary and these other secondary purposes. The question is whether you will submit to the clear truth of God’s revelation or attempt to explain it away in order to fit your own presuppositions and system of belief.”
Drew didn’t address the explicit “they might turn and be forgiven” portion of this text. How can he without completely undermining the clear meaning? Those “carrying out a false concept of the Messiah” are not at risk of “turning and being forgiven,” are they?
Leighton I have to say how much I appreciate the depth of your interaction with other opposing views; I learn so much from reading and listening, even if one side doesn’t seem to ever convince or persuade the other. This is a perfect example of a great interaction.
For some reason Calvinists oddly enough seem to always want to steer away from what we free willists consider, as Luther put it, “the vital issue,” but in this reply as always you attempt to get to the heart of things and not be sidetracked.
“I commend you highly that unlike all the rest, you alone have attacked the real issue; you and you alone have seen the question on which everything hinges, and have aimed for the vital spot; for which I sincerely thank you.” — Luther to Erasmus.
And that vital spot is human autonomous response.
Last podcast was great, appreciate you giving the Classical Arminian position some airtime.
Great observation Leighton ! I always wondered why Jesus told his disciples to keep quiet on many occasions. I enjoy reading your posts.
Enjoyed the post and the discussion so far! Thank you Leighton! 🙂 To me there can be no denying that God freely chooses sometimes to hardened vessels to accomplish aspects of His will, with no intention of freeing their will through further enlightenment and conviction that would be necessary. Satan, Judas, and those to whom God Himself will send a strong delusion in the Tribulation are clear examples, if not also the leadership of Israel during Christ’s first advent.
But hardening is not just through hiding information, in my view. But Satan hears the gospel often. Judas heard the parables explained. And those in the Trib will hear angels shouting from heaven God’s call of mercy! The leaders knew Jesus was claiming to be God, and that He foretold that He would rise from the dead! They had the information, but did not receive the necessary enlightenment and conviction to go with it, in my view, because God needed them hardened. But they either had received and rejected the necessary enlightenment earlier (e.g. Judas), or they would get that necessary enlightenment later after the resurrection (e.g. priests in Acts 6:7).
But the warning is clear, in my thinking. “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart.” If God hardens you after that, there is no more hope. It is not only after death that one can be assured never to have another opportunity to exercise his will freely to understand and accept the preaching of the gospel!
Can we rely on Professor Flowers to give us the truth, on his eisegetical, philosophical understanding of the Word of God.
“Jesus’ Parables as Judgment: A Response to Leighton Flowers’ View of the Purpose of the Parables”
Steven, Your link is to the article that Leighton has already responded to above in his comments after his post. If you look at his response you may be able to judge how much eisegesis is going on by either Leighton or Drew. What is true, though, is Leighton’s point that those hearing the parables in Matthew 13, and walking away in their hardened condition that day, where not born hardened according to Jesus, but would be used in their hardened condition to deliver up Jesus for man’s redemption!
Jesus (Isaiah) clearly said – “and their eyes they have closed”, which indicates their eyes had once been opened. And now hardened, God would use them as vessels of wrath to accomplish His redemptive purpose, whether the parables were helping to keep them hardened or not. And after their redemption is accomplished, God will graciously enlighten many of them (open their eyes back up) to hear the gospel in a convicting way to give them another opportunity for salvation (cf Acts 2:41, 6:7).
Jesus says nothing about their birth condition in these parables. That’s a huge extrapolation from incorrect logic (at one point their eyes were open—therefore they were born open, etc.)
Good morning David! Though I agree with Leighton that we aren’t born hardened, I wasn’t trying to prove that from the phrase, “they have closed their eyes.” Perhaps I should have been more clear.
But that phrase does mean that at some point before the coming judgment in Israel, the people in Isaiah’s and Jesus’ day had their eyes open or opened. That was the main point I was making, and that they closed them, themselves.
Right but you and Leighton can’t logically use it to illustrate that humans are born in any way good.
Lol… You’re funny David! We all use extrapolations from verses to try to prove our view of what was inherited from Adam. If we had clear verses on the subject, there wouldn’t be this variety of views among Evangelicals. I wouldn’t use this Matt 13 passage to prove infants are not born hardened. You know which ones I use! And I disagree, I think, with Leighton, in that I believe God judicially allows the hardening of all (Rom 11:32) after the moment the conscience is awakened (Rom 7:9), so that His personal enlightenment (John 1:9) becomes a necessary offer of mercy, creating personal accountability for one’s damnation, not because of their sin, but because of their rejection of God’s mercy for it.
But thank you for giving me something to meditate on, during this morning’s drive to VBC! It helped me recognize for the first time another inconsistency in Calvinism, that I had not seen before. I am entitling it “Esau have I loved, Jacob have I hated!” 🙂
Damnation not because of their sin? I’d get that doctrine straightened out. Damnation is always because of sin. I’m not a fan of this odd error (that seems to stem from a hyper grace movement) that all sins are in some way forgiven and the only sin anyone has is unbelief—it’s just not Biblical in any way. As if we ask God to forgive us and he says “How dare you ask for forgiveness, just believe you’re forgiven.” Nope, not how God’s economy works, he says take with you words and plead between the porch and altar, and the hilastarion is something we must “take hold of the horns of” but now hyper gracers are saying repentance itself is a dead work and we can’t be “fruit inspectors.” Christ said they would die in their “sins” not their one sin of unbelief. Anyway, always good to hear your thoughts, though, Brian, and glad I gave you a chuckle with my thought that no human being is born good.
Hi David! Not forgiven, but man’s sins are paid for, and man is reconciled, from God’s side. Once they accept by personal faith that payment/propitiation, they are born again, and the guilt of their sins is removed/forgiven forever. But if they reject that payment/propitiation, they will die in their sins, but not because of them, but because of their rejection of His mercy. At least that’s the way I piece it altogether, biblically! 🙂
But at least you and I agree that the gospel is good news for everyone, and personal trust in Christ is necessary prior to God’s work of regeneration and forgiveness! 🙂
i always wondered,did, Jesus pay for the sin of unbelief, or is that something, ( a condition an individual must do on his own) as was mentioned above: “sins are paid for, man is reconciled from God’s side (definitely meaning man plays a part in his salvation and without him playing that part he will never be saved even though the payment for unbelief has been paid for by Christ. You see, according to the above post, Christ is not really a not (Jesus who really will save His people from their sins) He is a possibility Savior, he only came to make salvation possible, not really to be a Savior and and save His people from their sins. Then the big contradiction from above, “the reason they do not get saved (I don’t believe you get saved but God in Christ saves you perfectly) is not because of the sinner, but because of THEIR REJECTION OF HIM, Looks to like it is their fault, Well they were already rejecting him to begin with, Their will was doing according to its nature, sinning. Being hostile and hating God. John 3 makes it clear they hate the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and have much love and pleasure it the darkness of sin. It goes on to say they “will not come” “Come where” In faith believing embracing Christ as their Lord and Savior. (Coming and believing are synonymous) It is because of THEIR rejection of his mercy. God did all he could, he made salvation possible, now it is up to the sinner to believe (the sin of unbelief has been paid for) In John 6:37 it says “all the Father gives to me (Jesus) will come to me. and I will in no wise cast them out. John 17:2 – Jesus gives eternal life life to all the Father gives to him. Are these verses true, “will all the Father give to Jesus come to Him.” Will Jesus give eternal life to all the Father has given to him” Will the divine written Revelation here be executed as written in God’s Word.
Then there is this thing called libertarian free will. A sinner (who is the one who really saves himself, God just makes it possible for him through Jesus)with his libertarian free will repents and has faith in Christ and shazam spiritual life. Although those in the flesh can do nothing that is pleasing to God like repenting and having faith in Christ. John 6:63- “It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing.” A sinner still spiritually dead “in the flesh” with his fantasy libertarian free will does what is pleasing to God in the flesh, faith and repentance, amazing when God’s word said it cannot be done. Even a true Christian can do nothing without Christ John 15.
How do these sinners with libertarian free wills (who can reject or accept Christ and save themselves in the flesh) stay saved, after they receive spiritual life. Do they no longer have libertarian free wills that got them saved. Is God irresistibly giving them a constant willingness to have faith in Christ. But hey, would that not be against their libertarian free will that says you can choose between two things. If libertarian free will is true then those who are saved can reject Christ completely and apostatize. They can reject what they once chose or they do not have this libertarian free will that rejects or accepts.
And this happens when the sinner and his libertarian free will says what is called “the sinner’s prayer” with a lot of other people as they repeat after the gospel. This started about 1832 by the self-righteous Charles Finney. It has come to the point that many believe that “walking down that isle to the altar to repeat the “sinner prayer” will get you saved’ What it has gotten us is a lot of false converts.
Well how did they get saved way back before walking down the isle and repeating the sinner’s prayer. Through Spirit filled preaching of the law and gospel they were commanded to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. How did they know they had truly became saved. They kept coming to church and started obeying out of Love the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ
The Spirit of God does not need our help, other than the appointed means told to in God’s Holy Word to quicken and make alive a sinner dead in trespasses and sins, By God’s mercy we are saved.
Jesus said in John 6;37…….I will in no wise cast them out……..and he goes on to say, “I have come to do my Father’s will, and this is His will that I lose none that He has given me”
Can Jesus fail to do the will of the Father, I don’t think so, he will lose none the Father has given,(THIS IS THE FATHER’S WILL) He will not cast them out, but will raise them up on the last day.,
Now this is in complete contradictory of Libertarian free will. if someone disagrees with me, THEN TELL ME HOW A SINNER WHO SAVED HIMSELF WITH HIS LIBERTARIAN FREE WILL BY HAVING FAITH AND REPENTANCE IN CHRIST CANNOT LOSE HIS SALVATION. THE ONLY THING THAT CONFUSES ME MORE IS HOW AN OPEN THEIST SAYS THAT THE SINNER NOW SAVED CANNOT LOSE HIS SALVATION WITH HIS LIBERTARIAN FREE WILL THAT CAN ACCEPT OR REJECT AT ANY TIME OR PLACE.
Praise God for my salvation and for me ultimately putting the final stamp and seal on it.
Proverbs 2:8 -for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones.
Psalms 97:10 – Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Jude; 1…….To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:
2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
All true saints of God are sanctified by God the Father, they grow in faith and persevere in holiness, because they are preserved in Jesus Christ
We persevere in the faith because we are preserved by the grace of God found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I ask respectfully how does one remained saved, after he saved himself with ultimately with his free will of faith and repenting?
Since you asked about Jesus paying for the sin of unbelief, yes Jesus paid for all sins for all people. You know, He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. John explains that we are condemned for not believing, using a participle not a verb. The condemnation is for the state of rebellion that the unbeliever is in, not for sins they commit.
For a definition and meaning of Christ’s Parables see my website
Finney, Charles: Wicked man who ravaged the evangelical movement. – Calvinist Dictionary
Hello to all and God bless,
Very interesting podcast. I find it strange for reasons that I am about to post. I intend to be respectful with no personal attacks. Everyone here knows I am trying my best to have cordial respectful conversations. So let’s get into this and show some fallacies, flaws,
First of all I want to say I classify the Prophets and the Apostles of the Word of God as the ECF. They spoke infallibly. Yes I know our understanding is not infallible and that is the reason for the podcast. But hear me out. Why in the world would we use the Early Church Fathers to disprove any Doctrinal Teaching within the Church today. I am going to show you why and even show the duplicity of Dr. Flowers himself. Now when I say duplicity of Dr. Flowers I am not personally attacking him. I just do not think he has thought this through. I will make my case thoroughly. This is going to be long.
So if you really want to understand it you will have to read it all.
I know there is no one on here that will deny this. When it comes to the ECF, Doctrine, Theology was in it’s infant stage. Where was the Trinity being taught among the ECF?
Not to mention, doctrine was in a progressive developing state, so to base ANY theological argument for or against any doctrine on the early church fathers and such is in my humble opinion extremely weak and irresponsible.
Now let me add this. Another fact that no one will deny. Among the ECF there was SO MUCH FALSE TEACHING and HERESY. So I say again in my humble opinion it is irresponsible and extremely weak to base ANY theological doctrine for against doctrine one the early church fathers. Any one who denies this is denying what they know to be the truth.
So this podcast was irresponsible and weak to prove or disprove any doctrine whatsoever. No wait. I am not done and will build on my argument. So your going to wade though the infant developing stages of doctrine that is full of false teachings and heresy to disprove Calvinism when they were not even teaching the Trinity. Some ECF said Jesus was just a manifestation of the Father. Do you know even Jehovah Witness’s use this same argument? It was not taught in the ECF they say. Google it. Our authority and basis of truth is found in the Holy Bible alone. The authority of God’s Word. Not based on the much false teaching and heresy of the ECF. Look at the samples below.
“False Teachings and Destructive Heresies of the Early Church Fathers”
“It is difficult to find any Church Fathers who were consistently orthodox by modern standards. Indeed the problem of deciding who counted as a Church Father was much like deciding which books were canonical.”
“The Fallibility of the Early Church Fathers: Why Christians Should Look to
the Bible Alone for Doctrine”