Dr. Sam Storms, a Calvinistic Pastor and author who serves with John Piper on the board of Desiring God Ministries, recently wrote an article titled “10 Things You Should Know about Election.” Today we are going to go through the first three of these points so as to clearly contrast the Calvinistic view from the Traditional perspective. Dr. Storms writes:
- Election is a pre-temporal decision by God, a choice he made before any of us ever existed.
God chose us in Christ “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). God “saved us,” said Paul, “and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (2 Tim. 1:9).
According to Traditionalism, God’s “pre-temporal decision” it was to justify, sanctify and glorify whosoever freely puts their hope in Christ, not to effectually bind all people into a disabled condition from birth only to irresistibly rescue a preselected few.
As to Paul’s teaching to the church in Ephesus, does the apostle actually say that God chose for certain individuals to be effectually placed “in Christ before the foundation of the world” as Storms seems to imply? No. The text simply states that “the faithful in Christ” (vs. 1) have been chosen to become “holy and blameless” (vs. 4) before the foundation of the world. When and how are individuals placed “in Christ,” according to Paul?
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Eph. 1:13
When were they included in Christ? When were they marked in Him? Was it before the foundation of the earth as Storms interpretation would suggest? Of course not. Look at what Paul states:
“…when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:13-14
The text clearly indicates that God has predetermined that the “the faithful in Christ Jesus” (vs. 1) will become “holy and blameless” (sanctification – vs. 4) and they will be “adopted” (glorification – vs. 5). (Note: Romans 8:23 clearly indicates that Paul sees “adoption” as a future hope for all who come to faith.) (More on Ephesians 1 can be seen HERE.)
And of course, Traditionalists would agree with Dr. Storms that God saved “us” (the faithful in Christ) apart from works and on the basis of his own purpose and grace. If one does not conflate man’s free choice to repent with God’s free choice to save the repentant, then this is not an issue that needs to be reconciled. Humbly admitting you need salvation is not equal to saving yourself. Confessing your sin, even if done freely, does not earn or merit forgiveness for that sin, otherwise there would have been no need for the cross. God could have just forgiven Abraham of his sin debt because his faith merited it. Even though Abraham believed in God he still had a debt that he could not pay. God graciously chose to pay that debt through the sacrifice of His Son, without which no one would be saved.
- Divine election is not merely corporate, but also of individuals.
Whereas it is true that Christ is himself the Elect One, and whereas it is true that the Church is the chosen or elect people of God, individuals are themselves chosen by God to believe in Christ in order that they might become members of the church. In other words, God didn’t simply choose the church. He chose the specific individuals who would comprise the church.
The Traditional view does not deny that election includes individuals. It is a gross misrepresentation of our view to suggest otherwise. Traditionalists teach God has chosen believing individuals for salvation whereas Calvinists teach God has chosen to irresistibly turn certain individuals into believers by supernatural means so as to save them.
Storm’s view makes God responsible for man’s choice to humble himself and repent in faith. This is not the biblical teaching, however. Again and again scripture tells you to “humble yourself” so as to be justified and exalted (Lk. 18:10-14; 1Pt. 5:5-6; Is. 66:2; Jm. 4:10; Ps. 18:27). Not once does the Bible say that God will irresistibly humble you and cause you to willingly repent in faith. If you wait for God to irresistibly humble you then you will be too late, because that won’t be until the final judgment when he makes every knee to bow (Rm. 14:11).
On a related note, this glorious act of God’s grace in electing some is unto eternal salvation and not simply to temporal service. Paul gave thanks for the Thessalonians because “God chose” them “as the firstfruits to be saved” (2 Thess. 2:13).
Here Storms addresses the “election to service” perspective, which teaches that God has chosen certain individuals to serve a noble purpose in His redemptive plan (like His choice of the apostles or prophets). But, by this argument, Storms seems to imply that Traditionalists holding to this perspective do not also affirm God’s election of individuals to salvation. As stated above, however, Traditionalism does affirm that God has elected to save whoever humbles themselves and repents in faith.
The fact that God has ALSO chosen certain individuals, like Paul, for the noble cause of bringing His inspired message to the world, does not change this truth. In other words, Traditionalists are not arguing that God has EITHER chosen some individuals for salvation OR for service, but that he has BOTH chosen individuals for salvation AND for service. We just do not believe God makes this choice arbitrarily (and before you object to the term “arbitrary” please look it up in the dictionary and explain how the unconditional choice of God described by Calvinists does not perfectly match that definition).
After the Gentiles heard the gospel preached, “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).
Context is key to rightly understanding this historical narrative. Please read THIS ARTICLE to better understand our perspective. Storms goes on to write,
- Everyone who believes the Bible believes in election.
The issue isn’t whether or not God chooses people to inherit eternal life. The issue is the basis on which that divine choice is made.
Some believe that God restores in the fallen human heart the ability or freedom of will to believe. Ultimately, then, whether or not they receive or finally reject Christ is up to them.
Others believe that the Bible nowhere teaches this notion of “prevenient grace” in which the depravity and moral corruption of the human heart is to some extent neutralized or overcome. Therefore, if anyone is to believe it must come about through the work of the Holy Spirit, who sovereignly regenerates their hearts and then effectually and unfailingly brings the elect individual to faith and repentance. Ultimately, then, whether or not they receive Christ is up to God.
Here Storms addresses the classical Arminian perspective, which mistakenly concedes to the reformed teaching of Total Inability. Total Inability is the doctrine that all fallen people are born without “the ability or freedom of the will to believe” the clearly inspired word of God appealing for all to be reconciled from their fallenness.)
Even among Traditionalists, there exists various nuances over the nature of fallen humanity in response to God’s revelation. However, the Traditional statement, signed by many notable Traditional scholars, clearly denounces the concept of “Total Inability,” a view maintained by many classical Arminian scholars.
“Total Inability” is the belief that all humanity is born incapable of willingly coming to Christ for salvation even in light of the Holy Spirit wrought truth of the Gospel, unless God graciously works to empower the will of lost man (effectually by way of regeneration for the Calvinist, and sufficiently by way of “prevenient grace” for the Arminian). Traditionalists simply do not accept the presumption that the libertarian freedom of man’s will was lost due to the Fall. As article two of the Traditional statement says,
“We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”
This simply removes the presumed quandary posed by Storms leaving the Traditionalist perspective without rebuttal. Traditionalists affirm that if anyone is to believe it must come about through the work of the Holy Spirit. We just happen to believe the gospel revelation is a sufficient work of the Holy Spirit and cannot conceive why anyone would assume otherwise without clear Biblical evidence.
Traditionalists agree that the Holy Spirit must work to enable the lost, we just do not assume that work is accomplished by some kind of inward, irresistible means that removes all human responsibility in the process. The work of the Holy Spirit, from our perspective, is the commissioning and sending out of the inspired gospel itself, “the power of God unto salvation” (Rm. 1:16) through His bride, the church (Matt. 28:16-20). For how will they believe in one whom they have not heard, and how will they hear unless someone is sent (Rm. 10:14)?
Finally, special attention should be brought to Storms statement above, “whether or not they receive Christ is up to God.” Calvinists relish speaking about those who do receive Christ on their systematic but the difficulty of their system becomes much more evident when one focuses attention upon those who refuse to receive Christ.
According to Storm’s own admission, the decision of countless unbelievers to reject Christ was “up to God.” This view puts a huge blight on His divine character and Holiness. James teaches us that God does not even tempt man to evil (Jm. 1:13), yet Storms suggests that God is ultimately responsible for every sinner’s rejection of Christ’s call to repent in faith (what more evil act is there than the rejection of Christ?). The Traditional perspective credits God for the provision of atonement for all while still maintaining the responsibility (“the-ability-to-respond”) of those who reject that provision.
More to come at a later date…
51 thoughts on “3 Things You Should Know about Election”
I’ve been thinking. There’s way too much nuance in your objections to Total Inability and where I worry is the minimization of the sin nature, which is gaining ground and more spiritually dangerous than Calvinism is. Calvinism gives us a partially evil God, but it admits we all deserve hell inherently and that Adam and Jesus are our grounds of spiritual union. Pelagian self-works self-righteous innate goodness of man is far more dangerous, for it denies the very core meaning and message and power of the Work of the Cross, that God declared that only the death and resurrection of Jesus could being holiness, not all the piled good works of a sinful nature. And although you technically leave room for the sin nature, your denial of inability although well intentioned becomes a strengthening of the stronghold of many (as we commonly understand) Pelagian sin nature deniers. Your whole objection seems to be the “justice” schtick, which is not a good ground to begin with, assuming our innate morality matches God’s justice when the Bible doesn’t give us that assurance. But we can even meet that “justice” criteria with inability if all get grace to neutralize it, which makes it a moot point anyway. Then you can say what does it matter, inability is virtually meaningless if grace fixes it for everyone. We don’t think it’s meaningless, because it acknowledges the need of all humans for the foundational work of Jesus Christ before they can come to God, and that Mediatoral work is something no human anywhere circumvents by his own holiness.
*”bring holiness,” not “being holiness”
Man’s inability is not an inability to respond to God’s revelation, It is an inability to resist all the temptations of the sinful environment he inherited after the fall. God gives man the Holy Spirit to overcome the weakness he is born with.
I think you minimize sin to God, his solution is not self-improvement, his solution is to put us to death for our sin in Christ. Sure, the Gospel is a supernatural power—no one can deny it’s not mere words, Biblically, it comes with the Holy Spirit. Our “inability” is just the fallenness of man, not that God leaves us in that state, for he comes into a dark world of sin, before we can even ask or act—preveniently he comes to us on our mat in our paralysis, and says do you want to be made well. Why did I die in Jesus Christ’s death if my works plus some forgiveness on top are all I need?
Galatians 2:20, 6:14
Colossian 2:12, 20, 3:3
2 Timothy 2:11
Jesus didn’t come to put a band-aid on your wickedness, but to give you a heart transplant. He came to give you a new life and a new creation and kill sin in you on on the Cross in his flesh (Rom. 7-8).
You’ve read enough from me to know I affirm we are all sinners who fall short of Gods glory and cannot merit our own righteousness. Denying total inability is not equal to denying the sin nature. That may be a “nuance” your willing to acknowledge but IMO it’s an important one.
If I’m wrong I’m only guilty of defending man’s inherent responsibility. If the Cal is wrong he risks impugning the very character and holiness of God and you really think I’m making the more dangerous error? I can understand why you would think that.
Nah, I didn’t say you are making the more serious error. I said you should take a more hard-line stance against people who deny the sin nature, in my humble opinion. I recognize this has never been your emphasis though, but I see it as a need in the Body of Christ, and as a weakness that many Arminians fall into in their objection to Calvinism—they want to make damnation by works instead of nature, and claim that theodicy must be on a personal and not corporate level, or God is unjust. If your objections begin to overlap with original sin in general, I think Pelagian becomes more than a boogeyman, but a very real monster in the closet. Bless.
I wish Calvinist scholars who teach Calvinism would just include their admission that they are speaking anthropomorphically about God as they try to describe their view of election. For “a pre-temporal decision” is not possible for the Calvinist’s view of God, for the word “decision” is typically understood as requiring sequential thinking and knowing something as first undecided and then knowing it as decided. For the Calvinist everything is eternally set in God’s mind, so no real decision is actually made.
I wish they also would explain how individuals can actually be chosen before their lives have actually started. Is it like choosing names in a hat without any information about that individual, or wouldn’t it actually include God knowing every aspect of that individual’s full life forever into the future including all of God’s interactions with it? What kind of choice is that, and what difference does it make? Storms inconsistently says – “chosen by God to believe in Christ” and “chose the specific individuals who would comprise the church” when actually the individuals supposedly “chosen” are already known to believe in Christ and are already comprising the church forever in God’s mind.
Finally, I wish they also would at least mention and provide reasonable solutions for passages that counter their view. It is obvious in Jesus words about election in some texts that God’s calling is first mentioned and illustrated before being joined to God’s elect (Matt 22). And Jesus stated this in the present tense (many are called but few are chosen) instead of using the past tense (many are called but few have been chosen). And Paul’s quotation from Hosea should also be explained in contrast with the promise that nothing separates the elect from God’s love. “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.” If the elect existed and were loved in God’s mind before creation, how could they be identified as “not My people” or “not beloved” at all.
The only thing that man inherited from Adam was a sinful environment being separated from God and a weak nature that will yield to temptation. This weak nature is the same nature Adam was created with hence he also sinned. There is no such thing as prevenient grace in which man is supernaturally given an ability to respond to God. He was created with that ability. Total depravity is nonsense taught by Augustine and perpetuated by John Calvin and his ilk. Augustine got his teachings from Persian paganism called Manichaeism not from the Bible . There is no support for total depravity in scripture. Christ never taught man is unable to believe, He taught men are unwilling to believe. Man is not “fallen” . He is created in the image of God with a freewill. With that freedom comes the ability to choose to sin and without the power of the Holy Spirit, he does yield to temptation. The believer, following the leadership of the Holy Spirit will overcome temptation. If he follows his fleshly nature he will fall to temptation. Jesus taught this to His disciples telling them: Matthew 26:41 (HCSB)
41 Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
So we are created on equality with Adam, and not generated from within Adam. And Adam had as sinful a nature as we do. Man is not fallen, but only a righteous being that may or may not choose to sin, and does not need Jesus until he sins. Man is completely able to obtain righteousness without the Work of the Cross of Jesus Christ, until such time as he may or may not sin. Man is inherently and morally good from birth, and has every ability to please God without Christ. Would you agree with all that?
Do you feel like Dr. Flowers would approve of those views?
Thank you for seeking clarification. I trust this will help.
Yes we are created on equality with Adam (in God’s image) except as noted – separated from God, kicked out of the Garden with Adam.
Man is not created (formed as the Bible calls it) fallen, but falls just as Adam did. All men do because they are weak.
Man needs Jesus because the flesh is weak – as noted previously. He provides the strength we need. Maybe you remember singing this when you were young.
Man is justified when he believes – its an act of God not something we do.
Men are guilty of sin when they sin and they all do – being weak, again as previously stated.
Yes man has every ability to please God by believing in the Son – we were created that way.
With all due respect to Dr. Flowers – I am not seeking his approval anymore than he seeks mine. I do greatly respect his understanding of God’s word.
I didn’t say you were seeking Flowers approval, I asked specifically what you thought he taught, because I wanted your general perception of it.
Your theology seems a weird mix of Calvinism, Pelagianism and a children’s song. You get angry if someone say God creates us sinful but you wholly embrace that God creates us so weak we have to sin, including Adam as if he were identical to us in the garden. I suggest you spend a lot more time in the Bible, particularly Romans and Galatians.
Thank you Leighton. This is so clear, it strikes me that those who see election as God making a choice of who will and who will not be saved, can only do so with the greatest of effort to avoid accepting the plain truth of scripture. When were we included ‘in Christ’? When we believed after having heard the message of truth. Not before the world was even made.
So plain and so simple that even a four year old can grasp it. I’m glad to say, that my one, Martha, appears to have fully understood the message. It’s just a shame that some of these so called intelligent theologians cannot also get it! 🙂
barker’s woof writes, “When were we included ‘in Christ’? When we believed after having heard the message of truth. Not before the world was even made.”
This conclusion is consistent with brianwagner’s theology that God does not have knowledge of a completed future. The distinction between barker’s woof and the Calvinist is that the Calvinist holds that God is omniscient and barker’s woof does not.
Sorry rhutchin, but this is no ‘conclusion’ it’s a direct quote from scripture ref: Eph 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
If you think this is being inconsistent, then please explain just at what point in time we are included ‘in Christ’ if it is not at the point of conversion?
I’m afraid you are still up to your old tricks of telling people what they believe in terms of what you think is the truth. Do I believe god is omniscient? Yes, but I don’t believe that this means that God has determined everything.
I’m sorry, but I’m not prepared to engage with you more on this subject unless you can up your level of comment. From other comments made, I think it’s fair to say that I’m not alone in thinking this way!
bw originally wrote, “When were we included ‘in Christ’? When we believed after having heard the message of truth. Not before the world was even made.”
barker’s woof then wrote, “it’s a direct quote from scripture ref: Eph 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,”
There is nothing in v13 about being included in Christ. So, not exactly the direct quote that bw alleges. NIV, going against the grain of other translations, has, “And you also were included in Christ…” However, this is an unwarranted extrapolation from the text based on the preponderance of translations that do not go in this direction.
Context would lead us to conclude that being “in Him,” which we might take as the inclusion of the believer in Christ precedes and makes possible the act of “believing” and being sealed by the Holy Spirit. This fits the context established in v4, “God chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
Well you are wrong on a number of accounts. It’s not a quote from the NIV and there is no support for saying that context demands that being ‘in him’ is what enables a person to believe. You are, as ever, just making it up as you go along because yet again you have been found out.
bw writes, “It’s not a quote from the NIV ..”
I merely noted that the NIV was the only translation that included the word, “included,” that is the subject of discussion.
Then, “there is no support for saying that context demands that being ‘in him’ is what enables a person to believe.”
I agree as I did not say that. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that, “God chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” The issue here is whether there is any person not chosen in Christ by God before the foundation of the world who then comes to salvation. Nonetheless, being chosen by God only makes salvation possible for the person chosen. That which enables a person to believe is the faith conveyed to the person through the gospel and this faith is conveyed to all chosen by God before the foundation of the world.
You quite clearly assumed that it was a quote from the NIV and you were wrong.
You also clearly argued that Eph 1:4 supports being ‘in him’ as the reason why people are able to believe, and I quote …. “Context would lead us to conclude that being “in Him,” which we might take as the inclusion of the believer in Christ precedes and makes possible the act of “believing” and being sealed by the Holy Spirit. This fits the context established in v4, “God chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
Again you are incorrect in saying this, but this is what you said.
Now you try to twist the argument round to discussing whether there is any person “not chosen in Christ”. You are at least consistent in making things up as you go along.
bw writes, “You quite clearly assumed that it was a quote from the NIV and you were wrong.”
I read your comment; I knew you were not quoting NIV. However, your fixation on the word, “included,” was supported by the NIV translation even if, judging from the other translations, that translation is off on its own.
Then, “You also clearly argued that Eph 1:4 supports being ‘in him’ as the reason why people are able to believe,”
Necessary but not sufficient – thus, not enabling. Faith is that which enables one to believe; the Scriptures are clear on that. Being “chosen in Christ” before the foundation of the world identifies one as God’s elect but not how God brings His elect to salvation.
Then, “Now you try to twist the argument round to discussing whether there is any person “not chosen in Christ”. You are at least consistent in making things up as you go along.”
All built around v4. I did not have to make up v4 – it was always there.
I suggest you continue this discussion with yourself.
Professor Flowers, as a former Calvinist, should know better. Man, and His election by God, are to be understood as subordinate to that which God is. In this case, God is omniscient. As brianwagner writes, “For the Calvinist everything is eternally set in God’s mind,…” – the reason being: God’s omniscience. The Calvinist assumes this as the prerequisite for understanding election. So, our starting point is that God knows His elect and the reprobate when He creates the universe in Genesis 1. The issue then is how God brings about the salvation of His elect and only His elect as the reprobate will not be saved and God has no intent to save the reprobate. To avoid this conclusion, one must do as Brian W. has done and deny God’s omniscience of a completed future. If one does not deny omniscience, as the Traditionalists seem to do, then all of God’s actions with respect to man must be viewed in the shadow of God’s omniscience.
brianwagner asks a good question, “I wish [Calvinists] also would explain how individuals can actually be chosen before their lives have actually started.” The answer of the Calvinists is that God creates (determines the birth of) one person for salvation and another for reprobation. As one person is born for salvation and another for reprobation, we say that God chose one for salvation and passed over the other. Thus, we read that many are called to salvation through the gospel but only a subset of those called by the gospel come to salvation and are described as chosen. Of these, Paul writes, in Colossians 2, “you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath God quickened together with Christ, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;” The sins of God’s elect were nailed to the cross and blotted out. Christ’s resurrection then guaranteed the salvation of God’s elect.
I am sorry you felt I was mad, I am not.
You asked me “Do you feel like Dr. Flowers would approve of those views?” I don’t know. You should ask him. Why does it matter?
The Bible does not say God makes us sinful but Jesus did say we are weak. I will stick with that explanation of why men sin since it is the explanation Christ gave.
As for Calvinism, I reject it totally. Since you seem to accept the unBiblical teachings of total depravity and prevenient grace, it appears your theology aligns with Calvinist theology more than mine, but I have no interest in getting into a pissing contest about ” well you believe….”. I will be glad to defend what I believe using the Bible. I will be happy to read any rebuttal you care to offer.
I am quite familiar with the whole Bible including Romans and Galatians. Perhaps you can give the specific passage and what you think it supports. You seem to disagree that we are made the same as Adam, in the image of God. I would like for you to show the scripture that says otherwise.
As for the children song, I mentioned it merely to remind you that our being weak and Jesus being strong is not a new teaching but one that has been sung in churches since the 1800’s:
Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong
Contrary to Augustines Gnostic view of man and original sin which led to total depravity. David had a high view of man and he wrote :
Psalm 8:3-5 (HCSB)
3 When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place,
4 what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him?
5 You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor.
I did not say I thought you were mad. I said a certain doctrine makes you express a form of anger (at a perceived injustice).
It matters what you think Dr. Flowers teaches to me, because I want to know how his teaching comes across to Pelagians. But you just want to keep deflecting instead of answering; why not just answer the question? It’s not a hard thing to do.
You said man’s justification is, I quote, “an act of God not something we do.” As best I can understand that is a monergistic statement. Perhaps you didn’t mean it that way. The Bible says we are justified BY faith, something we do.
You’ve not defended my rebuttals in the past, so I really don’t have high hopes for that. You claim to be well read in the Bible but you seem to completely twist or ignore vast swathes of Scripture, so I can’t just accept your word over your actions.
Since I know no matter what you will twist verses to fit the Pelagian paradigm of the goodness of man and the denial of the power of the Cross for his deliverance, it is pointless to show you what they say since you reject what they say.
It would be nice (and actually useful!) if you would answer the one question I asked.
But my hopes are not very high.
“I want to know how his teaching comes across to Pelagians” – You should ask a Pelagian. I can’t help you because I don’t know any.
“As best I can understand that is a monergistic statement. Perhaps you didn’t mean it that way.” I meant it in terms of God being the agent of salvation. Our faith is a condition our salvation. That is not a Calvinistic belief, and they would argue that it is synergistic. I really don’t care what label you or they place on it since it is what the Bible teaches.
“It would be nice (and actually useful!) if you would answer the one question I asked.” Well now I am not sure what you are referring to. You did ask “Do you feel like Dr. Flowers would approve of those views?” – I thought I answered that . Let me try one more time. I HAVE NO FEELINGS about whether Dr. Flowers would approve of those views. I do not CARE if Dr. Flowers would approve of those views. I do not KNOW if Dr. Flowers would approve of those views. I am not INTERESTED in knowing if Dr. Flowers approves of those views. So my feelings are – nonexistant, unknowing, uncaring, and disinterested. What is important to this discussion is that “those views” which are distorted interpretations of my previous post are NOT MY VIEWS AND are not approved by me and I pointed out your errors in the following post.
Now, lets explore the question at hand. God formed Adam from the dust of the ground. He also formed other men from the womb :
Isaiah 44:24 (HCSB)
24 This is what the LORD, your Redeemer who formed you from the womb, says: I am Yahweh, who made everything; who stretched out the heavens by Myself; who alone spread out the earth;
Isaiah 49:5 (HCSB)
5 And now, says the LORD, who formed me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him so that Israel might be gathered to Him; for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God is my strength—
Jeremiah 1:5 (HCSB)
5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
There is no support that man’s nature was changed after the fall. All men are created in the image of God. Adam and all men sin because they are weak and unable to resist temptation.
Mark 14:38 (HCSB)
38 Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Romans 14:1 (HCSB)
1 Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about doubtful issues
1 Corinthians 8:9 (HCSB)
9 But be careful that this right of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.
1 Corinthians 8:10 (HCSB)
10 For if someone sees you, the one who has this knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, won’t his weak conscience be encouraged to eat food offered to idols?
1 Corinthians 9:22 (HCSB)
22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.
The believer is given the Holy Spirit also called Helper. He helps us to avoid temptation.
Man inherited Adam’s world – one separated from God and full of temptations. Adam’s nature was not changed because of the fall, but his environment was. He was kicked out of the Garden. This is the environment men are born into.
Please forgive me for stepping in.
Quoting Ernest, you said…
“You said man’s justification is, I quote, ‘an act of God not something we do.’ As best I can understand that is a monergistic statement. Perhaps you didn’t mean it that way. The Bible says we are justified BY faith, something we do.”
Now maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but I would say justification (or any part of salvation) is a monergistic work of God.
We are justified by faith (in the finished works of the cross), but our faith is not what justifies.
…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
It is God who justifies.
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
All man does is believe, which is nothing more than taking God at His word. God does all the rest.
I agree with my Calvinist brothers that salvation is a monergistic work of God. I just disagree with them when it occurs. I lean towards faith being synergistic. God reveals, man believes (or not). But salvation, every part of it, is of the Lord.
Hope that makes sense.
God bless, brother.
Yea, it makes sense, but you are just saying we don’t do God’s side of the justifying. We still have to do our part, and two parts is not “mono.” I can argue my faith is “moneregistic” and God’s atonement is “monergistic” but put two mono’s together, my faith and God’s atonement, and you have synergism. It is only the Cavlinist’s confusion that they argue if my faith is *necessary* then it adds to the atonement, and giving in to their term “monergism” is an unnecessary concession to that fact in my opinion. Bless and thanks for adding your thoughts, they are always welcome.
dizerner writes, “It is only the Cavlinist’s confusion that they argue if my faith is *necessary* then it adds to the atonement,…”
If “faith” is that conveyed to a person through the gospel, then the faith is not a work of the person. If the claim is that faith is inherent to the person (he is born with it) without being provided by God, then the exercise of that faith would be a work. However, in neither case does faith add to the atonement; it is the means by which a person believes the atonement. The atonement was completely accomplished by Christ in His death and resurrection – nothing else need be added to enhance that atonement.
When we say asking for mercy doesn’t earn the mercy, we point out that not all actions are meritorious.
dizerner writes, “When we say asking for mercy doesn’t earn the mercy, we point out that not all actions are meritorious.”
Then, “Also notice it is by his blood and by grace but it is through faith, faith is the effectual application or appropriation of the grace/blood.”
This is what the Calvinists say. The Calvinists add that it is God who conveys faith to His elect and none other. Plus, any faith (alleged) other than that which God conveys to the person is not meritorious and does not earn salvation – such as that claimed by those in Matthew 7 who pleaded, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”
I don’t think you are following my logic. Calvinist that I have heard claim any contingent element, that ultimately is up to man, must necessarily be meritorious in nature, but that is neither logical nor Biblical. The Matthew 7 passage has nothing to do with grace/works it is has to do with people confessing they do one thing, but in reality not doing God’s will.
dizerner writes, “Calvinist that I have heard claim any contingent element, that ultimately is up to man, must necessarily be meritorious in nature, but that is neither logical nor Biblical. ”
The contingent element (we are talking about the exercise of faith) is meritorious if it is inherent to the person (he is born with faith) and not meritorious if that faith is given to the person by God and necessarily leads to the person believing. The Scriptures tell us that faith comes through the hearing of the gospel (Romans 10), so a person cannot be born with faith. The Scriptures also tell us that faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2). Faith naturally causes belief in those who are given it (Hebrews 11).
rhutchin I recently learned most Calvinists believe sanctification is synergistic, but regeneration is monergistic. Out of curiosity, would you agree with that?
dizerner writes, “I recently learned most Calvinists believe sanctification is synergistic, but regeneration is monergistic. Out of curiosity, would you agree with that?”
Yes, that is the way I understand it. That is why we find passages like Romans 7.
Also notice it is by his blood and by grace but it is through faith, faith is the effectual application or appropriation of the grace/blood.
I read an arrival this morning by James Gunter and figured I would share it with you.
I often am puzzled by Calvinist who believe that one can be “Regenerated” (saved) before they Believe. Anywho I hope you enjoy!
Great post by the way!
Thanks Mike. Calvinists wouldn’t equate regeneration with salvation. And they argue for a logical order not a temporal (meaning it all happens simultaneously). It makes things quite complicated but they do have answers to all these questions.
I need to start reading all the new comments before responding. I agree with Pastor Flowers.
Thank you brother for the response.
I love how it’s a logical order that works its self out temporarily. Makes so much sense to me. :)- Bro. Leighton, I wish I had stumbled across your site etc 2 years ago when I struggled greatly in the caged Calvinist stage.
I was so very rigid and graceless in how I would approach opposition to the DOG. Thankfully help from my pastor, prayer and careful study of the word helped me reject Calvinism.
Now I am learning the most I possibly can to Gracefully persuade my Calvinistic brothers. Keep fighting the fight brother!
mikeashley07 writes, “Thankfully help from my pastor, prayer and careful study of the word helped me reject Calvinism.”
Hopefully, you did not reject omniscience along the way – if you accept omniscience, you concede most of the Calvinist system. If you really have rejected Calvinism, you would have to reject more than what is healthy. The two most famous groups that reject Calvinism are the Pelagians and the Open Theists – my guess is that you haven’t gone that far (but maybe you have).
mikeashley07 writes, ” often am puzzled by Calvinist who believe that one can be “Regenerated” (saved) before they Believe.”
I don’t believe the Calvinist position is that regeneration is salvation – but that regeneration (the removal of the depraved nature) is necessary prior to salvation – defined as one believing in Christ.
True, Untill you press them and probe deeper and deeper into their reasoning. Pre-faith regeneration is truly a doctrine in search of a text. Rom 1:16 tell us “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
The Calvinist will claim regeneration isn’t salvation when explaining the logical order, but when dealing with regeneration elsewhere they will claim it is salvation.
I have several 5 point friends that are high Calvinist and will affirm you are saved before you repent and believe due to the extent of total depravity.
I find it silly to say there is no temporal order only a logical one, but regeneration is in a temporal order in the Calvinist web of confusing and complicated language to explain the simplicity of the Gospel message that leads men to salvation.
mikeashley07 writes, “The Calvinist will claim regeneration isn’t salvation when explaining the logical order, but when dealing with regeneration elsewhere they will claim it is salvation.”
Regeneration is a process that includes several parts – some Calvinists include more parts than others (I guess). However, once God begins the regenerative process, it does not stop and finally reaches salvation.
Then, “I have several 5 point friends that are high Calvinist and will affirm you are saved before you repent and believe due to the extent of total depravity.”
This probably depends on what they define as “salvation.” Believers can labeled as saved when God chooses them before the foundation of the world or when finally brought to fruition when Christ returns. So, it is possible to say that a person can be declared saved at the beginning, sometime in the middle or at the end of the process.
Then, “I find it silly to say there is no temporal order only a logical one,”
Given all the things that happen in the process of salvation, some things seem simultaneous and some things follow in order. For example, faith comes by hearing, so we have the preaching of the gospel preceding faith. However, it may also be in the preaching that God draws, makes alive, and turns the heart from stone to flesh all of which may be simultaneous but have a logical order.
Bro. AKA “Rhutchin”,
To answer your question, as a Non-Calvinist I don’t reject God’s Omnisciense. I believe God knows all things past present and future. The Bible clearly states that fact in various passages. Omnisciense is an attribute of God and is truly beyond any of our understanding. With that being said, Calvinism conflates God’s Omnicisese (His attributes) with Forordanation (Decrees of God) as if they were one in the same. No one knows how God knows what he knows other then to appeal to mystery. To go beyon that is to go where scripture does not go and allows for men to quabble over areas of philosopical speculation. Calvinist, Arminians, etc. often times shout where Scripture is silent and this causes so much uneeded division.
To follow up on Regeneration. I believe all Calvinist etc. will agree that regeneration is the “New Birth”. New Birth would entail one is now sealed with the Spirit of God (Eph 1:13, John 1:12-13). This cannot happen logically/temporally prior to Repentance/Fath, and accepting the free gift of salvation. John 1:12-13 states “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
I would love to continue my friend, but I need to spend some time enjoying my family and thanking my Lord for all that He is, will do, as done etc. I hope your able to have a great thanksgiving as well.
mikeashley07 writes, “To answer your question, as a Non-Calvinist I don’t reject God’s Omnisciense.”
Then, you do not reject Calvinism given the reliance on omniscience in the Calvinist system.
Then, “Calvinism conflates God’s Omnicisese (His attributes) with Forordanation (Decrees of God) as if they were one in the same. No one knows how God knows what he knows other then to appeal to mystery.”
Calvinism maintains that God knew the future of the world He created before He created that world. So, God knew His elect and the reprobate, every individual that was to be born, every moment in their lives, and the moment of their death. Within that known future, God would know those actions that He would take (His decrees). Surely, you agree to this. The issue seems to be not what God knows but the scope of God’s decrees in bringing about that which God knows. Given that you appeal to “mystery” to explain how God knows the future, it would seem that you have problems with God decreeing the future to the extent that the Calvinists claim – although you must allow for God to decree some part of that future; just not all of it. Conflation (whatever you meant by that) does not seem to be the real issue here.
Then, “I believe all Calvinist etc. will agree that regeneration is the “New Birth”.”
I think Calvinists would agree that regeneration encompasses the new birth but is not defined as the new birth – depending on how one describes the new birth and that which God accomplishes in the new birth.
One thing that Calvinists and Provisionalists fail to understand is that we receive the Spirit when we believe the Bible and/or the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit is simply the Word of God (the mind, emotions, and will of God expressed in language. Same goes for our own spirit.)
But the Holy Spirit is the Word made flesh. That is, when we are saved, the Word, Christ, is made flesh in us — “Christ in you,” Col 1:27.
So here’s how that plays out for the Calvinist: They think that they are regenerated by the Spirit before they hear or believe the gospel such that when they believe (which they call “faith alone”), then they are saved. Well, no .. they have received the Spirit but NOT the Holy Spirit!
Provisionalists believe on this wise: We believe the gospel and therefore receive the Spirit. The Spirit commands us to repent to God turning from sin (“put off the old man…”) and “receive the Holy Spirit” (Christ) as Savior and Lord, Acts 2:38. NOW we have faith b/c God gave us what He promised — we can trust Him with our lives completely!
You see, the Calvinist wants to have Christ as Savior but does not, in bypassing repentance, make Him Lord. Therefore, they cannot, Ro 10:9-10, confess Him as Lord. They have done nothing about the sin issue that separated them from God in the first place.
So belief is not faith .. changing your mind repentance is not changing your heart repentance .. coming to God while hiding your shame (sin, cf. Adam and Eve) does not save from sin guilt. I could go on but they whole soteriology is flawed.
Bob Bauman writes, “[Calvinists] think that they are regenerated by the Spirit before they hear or believe the gospel such that when they believe (which they call “faith alone”), then they are saved.”
The Calvinist conclusion about regeneration is based on John 3, “…unless one is born again, he cannot see…enter the kingdom of God.” Thus, regeneration enables one to see the kingdom of God and enter that kingdom through faith.
The conclusion that one is “saved” in the course of time when they believe comes form Ephesians 1, “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession,…” The sealing by the Holy Spirit of the one who believes guarantees salvation.
Then, “You see, the Calvinist wants to have Christ as Savior but does not, in bypassing repentance, make Him Lord.”
I don’t see how you draw this conclusion. We know that faith is a gift from God and that “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” So, how does faith manifest itself in the believer? By responding to Jesus when He said, ““The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”To all this, the Calvinist agrees.
What would be the Provisionist response to 1 Peter 1:2? I am aware of both the Calvinist view and the Arminian Foresight view, yet I don’t believe I’ve seen this one mentioned or spoken of. I would appreciate any insight or help.
This is what the Soteriology 101 web site so succinctly states is the Provisonist”s view….”The focus of this soteriological view is on God’s gracious and loving provision for every individual so that anyone may believe and be saved.” I don’t know how to say it better myself. There is a plethora of Scriptures to back it up…..1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Is this Universalism…no, it isn’t, as many many are lost….Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
Then the question is posed…What would be the Provisionist’s response to 1 Peter 1:2?
1Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
This is salvation election because it mentions the blood of Jesus. It’s not some corporate or group election which doesn’t apply here.
The question needs asked, what is the basis of this election. The TULIP people would say it’s God’s choice based on some sort of secret council of the Godhead back in eternity. There are several problems with this notion, the first being there is no support from Scripture. They have to pass it off somewhere outside the Bible to the Synod of Dort in this case. There are other sources, but it’s all the same circular logic, Calvinism verifying Calvinism or more specifically TULIP verifying TULIP. Another problem is that this turns into robot theology and has God programming obedient robots that he saves, and He MERELY(Sproul’s word) passes over the rest and they end up lost. Apparently Sproul doesn’t think it’s a big deal to see people going to eternal perdition. Worse yet, this has God engineering the most vile sins for His glory. John Piper is a big fan of this and writes about it as though he’s uncovered some profound truth. Fortunately the real basis is found in Scripture, the very verse we are discussing. Elect ACCORDING to the foreknowledge of God. This has the advantage of eliminating the charge of robot theology and it has its logic in Scripture. God is omniscient, past present and future, Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and He bases his election of the person on their response to the Gospel. We find this expressed in the Philippian Jailer incident….Act 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Act 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,. A person is not saved because he’s elect, but he is elect because he responded positively to the Gospel. No need to appeal to synods or inventions of men, but rather, backed up by Scripture. Also, as a bonus, this further refutes the Open Theism error of turning God into a bumbling Columbo type god who’s very smart but doesn’t quite have things figured out. Stick with Scripture, and you can’t go wrong….”IT IS WRITTEN” saith the Lord. Isa 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Richard writes, ‘This is what the Soteriology 101 web site so succinctly states is the Provisonist”s view….”The focus of this soteriological view is on God’s gracious and loving provision for every individual so that anyone may believe and be saved.” I don’t know how to say it better myself.”
Dr, Flowers seems to take the position that God gives each and every person faith so that any person may believe and be saved. Yet, we know that faith comes from hearing the gospel and there are many people in the world who never hear the gospel and many people who hear the gospel preached but do not believe. Dr. Flowers appears to say that God gives all people faith. some through means outside the gospel, and that some people who have faith then fail to believe.
there are many people in the world who never hear the gospel
My response is not about people who “never heard the Gospel”, separate issue.
Also I mention many are lost, not sure what you’re talking about.