Names Written BEFORE the Foundation of the World?

Contributed by Richard Coords of examiningcalvinism.com

Revelation 13:8 (see also Matthew 25:34)

“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.”

Calvinist, John MacArthur, comments: “Seven times in the New Testament, believers are identified as those whose names are written in the book of life (cf. 3:5; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; Phil 4:3). The book of life belonging to the Lamb, the Lord Jesus, is the registry in which God inscribed the names of those chosen for salvation before the foundation of the world. (This phrase is used as a synonym for eternity past in 17:8; Matt. 13:35; 25:34; Luke 11:50; Eph. 1:4; Heb. 9:26; 1 Pet. 1:20; cf. 2 Thess. 2:13; and 2 Tim. 1:9.) … Believers are doubly secure, because the book of life belongs to the Lamb who has been slain. Not only the decree of election, but also the atoning work of Christ seals the redemption of the elect forever.” (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11, p.50, emphasis mine)

Thus, the Calvinistic paraphrase of Revelation 13:8, and some other passages, is to change the word “from” to the word “before,” but clearly those carry two very distinct meanings. MacArthur similarly comments on Matthew 25:34:

“The Lord designed His kingdom from before the foundation of the world and He designed who would be in it from before the foundation of the world.” (Understanding Election, emphasis mine)

Another verse that demonstrates this point is Matthews 19:8: “He said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.’” Evidently, “from” the beginning does not mean before the beginning, but from Genesis.

NOTICE: All statements where “before the foundation of the world” is used, is given with reference to Christ. (John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20)

All statements where “from the foundation of the world” is used, is given with reference to man, moving us from a point of reference forward. (Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Revelation 13:8)

Question: What does “from the foundation of the world” mean, and what is the impact of adding “before” the foundation of the world?

Answer: Before the foundation of the world indicates before Genesis, whereas from the foundation of the world indicates from Genesis to present. Therefore, it is incorrect to equate “written from the foundation of the world” with “written [before] the foundation of the world.” Luke 11:49-51 states: “‘For this reason also the wisdom of God said, “I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute, so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.”’” If you similarly inserted “before” [Greek: pro] then you would have to conclude that the prophets were martyred before they were born. Therefore, it’s reasonable to conclude that the names that were written into the Lamb’s Book of Life (which are said to be “written from the foundation of the world”) were written as people became Christians.

 

John MacArthur, along with many other Calvinists, have altered the biblical text of “from the foundation of the world,” and made it “before the foundation of the world.” The King James Version reads: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

 

Question: Why does the Calvinistic leaning English Standard Version [ESV] translate Revelation 13:8 as “before” the foundation of the world, instead of “from” the foundation of the world?

Answer: Unknown. We have to suspect that the Calvinistic led committee felt it better supported their soteriological worldview to translated the greek word “apo” as “before” instead of as “from.”

The Greek word apo = since or from.

The Greek word pro = before.

The Greek word apo is used in Matthew 13:35, 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 4:3, 9:26; and Revelation 13:8, 17:8.

The Calvinist translation [ESV] seems to be erroneous at Revelation 13:8, as it mistranslated apo as “before.” What’s telling is that in the parallel verses of Revelation 13:8 and Revelation 17:8 (in which apo is used in the same exact way), the ESV properly translates apo at Revelation 17:8 as “from,” but improperly translates apo at Revelation 13:8 as “before.”

Indeed, the “Lamb” is “before the foundation of the world” [as per 1st Peter 1:20], but at Revelation 13:8, “from the foundation of the world” is not modifying the Lamb, but modifying the writing of the names.

When used of time, apo can only mean “from” in the sense of “since”, i.e., the point identified is the beginning point of the period in view. <link>


 

Richard’s article clearly spells out the differences between Traditionalists and Calvinists, but I also wanted to draw our attention to the problem within the ranks of Calvinism. If you have studied anything about the lapsarian controversy you will recognize right away that interpreting the passages about the Lamb’s Book of Life as being completed BEFORE the foundation of the world would necessitate a high supralapsarian position, which has typically been rejected by mainstream Calvinists (see this LINK).

I would be interested to explore how a Calvinist who is not a supralapsarian would maintain their perspective of the Lamb’s Book of Life being completed by God unconditionally before the foundation of the world.

155 thoughts on “Names Written BEFORE the Foundation of the World?

  1. Great post! I think Psalms 69:28, with its use of the imperfect tense, shows there are two books of life… one physical and one spiritual, and that names are being written with the righteous at salvation (spiritual) and blotted out of the book of the living at death (physical).

    1. I agree that there are two Books of Life. There’s the Book of Life from a Creation standpoint and the Book of Life from a Redemptive standpoint.

  2. Brilliant! From the foundation is nit the same as before the foundation. Never noticed this before in the passages in the Apocalypse. Eye opening. Always wondered how people can be blotted out potentially from the Book of Life, if their names were written BEFORE the foundation of the earth….but since it means from or since the foundation it is happening all the time since then…names are being written. Apostates names being removed.
    Great thing to point out for Christology. The passages concerning Christ in the epistles of St. Peter say before creation, as He is not circumscribed within creation. Subtle but very important biblical distinctions.

  3. This is, once again, an argument from desperation. Let’s accept your conclusion, for the sake of argument, that “from the foundation of the world” only refers to only those who are written in the Book of Life starting from Genesis. Your argument is destroyed by Ephesians 1:4 which clearly teaches that God’s elect was chosen BEFORE the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless.
    In order for your argument to be valid, it MUST agree with ALL of Scripture. The fact is that God Himself has made it clear that He had a plan before we all existed to save a people for Himself. You are attempting to disprove this truth and your conclusions contradict other parts of Scripture which renders your position invalid.
    “From the foundation of the world” refers to any point from eternity BEFORE Creation whenever it refers to the elect.
    In order for a doctrine to be considered biblical, it must agree with ALL of Scripture!

    1. Ephesians 1.4 is not a proof text for your argument. Specifically, according to the context of the letter in Ephesians, the writer is arguing that God’s plan BEFORE the foundation of the world, was IN HIM. It is not as Calvinism argues for the “elect”, but rather God’s plan was always to save a people for Himself “IN Christ”. Unless you remove the presupposition Calvinism brings to that text, ALL of scripture cannot support that refutation.

      1. I’m sorry James, but you’re simply incorrect in your exegesis sir. The direct object of the action of choosing is the pronoun “us”; not “in Christ”. Ephesians 1:4 is crystal clear that God chose a people BEFORE creation to be holy and blameless before Him.

    2. “an argument from desperation” – Why be inflammatory? You raise a good point, but prefacing it with a verbal slap doesn’t help your argument! However, I’d be very interested to hear others respond to this point.

      1. Ev Thomas:

        There will be a good response to the question raised, but as to why the verbal slap….

        It has become obvious to many of us on this site that the YRR-determinist defenders feel that they are right and any discussion is an insult and heretical. There is no wiggle room or room for discussion.

        It feels like it is the same aggressive attitude that allowed Calvin and his followers to dump dissenters in the raging rivers.

      2. I have often be amused at the allegiance and reverence given to Calvin (Seminaries, Bible Schools, isms) when he clearly did not discussed doctrine “in love.”

        In November 1552 the Geneva Council declared Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion to be a “holy doctrine which no man might speak against.” —–allowing numerous burnings at the stake, torture, and seizure of property. For speaking against Calvin’s ideas.

      3. Sir I don’t consider myself a Calvinist and I’m scarcely familiar with his formal writings. So as I’ve requested on numerous occasions..please don’t categorize me as a Calvinist!

      4. Eva Thomas writes, “Why be inflammatory?”
        The statement is one of opinion sir. It’s my opinion that the argument made here is a theological stretch. We are all entitled to our opinions when responding to each otherwise positions.

      5. But can’t we disagree, even dissent, or argue in a civil, respectful tone? I have been a Reformed believer for over 20 years. But more recently I’ve been revisiting some of my doctrinal positions. I really want to get it right! But when someone makes a good point, as you did, but wraps the point in a dismissive attitude, I’m tempted to dismiss the point. Is that what you want?

    3. I am desperate that people understand the truth of God’s love for all people, so that may be the desperation you are reading into my posts, Troy.

      Like the mistranslation of of the ESV in Rev of the word apo, you likewise mistranslate Ephesians 1, as it clearly says “He choses us IN HIM” (referring to the faithful in Christ from vs 1-2), not “us” (arbitrarily selected individuals for no apparent reason). Thank you for your comments.

      1. Prof. Flowers my dear sir you are simply wrong. Ephesians 1:4 reveals that God has chosen a direct object (us) and that direct object is in Christ. Those whom God has chosen are chosen in Christ. But I’m sure you know this because the verse is very clear grammatically.

      2. There again, Troy. “you are simply wrong”. Why not say, “I simply disagree, and here’s why…”? Can’t you see the difference that would make? You would be more credible if you adopted a gentler tone, brother.

      3. Sir we are to contend for the faith by teaching what “thus saith the Lord”. To say someone is wrong is not harsh.

      4. I don’t think discussing points of doctrine is the same thing as “contending for the faith” as quoted in Jude. I would hope that fellow brethren in Christ would see these kinds of discussions as a way to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Php 1:27). We’re all trying to get it right and glorify God in the process, aren’t we?

      5. Thank Ev Thomas for your comment brother. However, I find that those who are trying to push Traditionalism are teaching heresy (false doctrine) that is easily refuted when compared with all that God teaches in His Word. We’re not called to just exchange our different views concerning Scripture. We’re called to teach/preach truth and to contend for that truth. This means, at times, we must contend with the brethren who may be in error as well. But we must discuss issues with the mindset of wanting to teach the truth.

      6. When we’re physically born, from our finite perspective, we are numbered among the children of wrath. From God’s eternal perspective, any of the elect was always numbered among His elect. It’s not hard to grasp!

      7. There comes a time when God effectuates His predetermined plan. We must actually believe in Christ at some point IN TIME as an evidence of what God has already predetermined to occur BEFORE TIME. But from God’s eternal perspective, the elect have always been in Christ. At some point in time the evidence of our election is seen in our conversion to Christ.

      8. It’s not grasping it that is the problem. It’s finding that supported in the text that’s an issue. You were marked in Him when you heard the truth and believed. You weren’t chosen to be made into a faithful followers of Christ. The text says he chose “us” (the faithful in Christ vs 1-2) to be made holy. That is what the text says.
        Clearly you disagree with my understanding of it but that is ok. You’re free to do so. 🙂

      9. Prof. Flowers writes, “The text says he chose us (the faithful in Christ) to be made holy.”
        Prof. Flowers you just conceded my point with this statement brother. You are now stating that God had, in fact, chosen “the faithful in Christ” BEFORE the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless. “The faithful in Christ” are individuals! So those individuals who are faithful in Christ were chosen before Creation to be holy. You just unwittingly conceded the argument sir.

      10. A great article Leighton! I do have a question in regard to being blotted out though. Wouldn’t it help the cause of those who believe you can lose your salvation? If it is the case that you are only written in when you believe and then can be blotted out?
        My understanding would be that from the foundation of the world, or at the time of creating all people were written in (not before) as you do a great job of pointing out. Then when people are blotted out is when they reject the free offer of salvation. Which would be at the time God decides, because they have rejected the many many offers of eternal life. Thanks Brother, love your articles.

    4. God chose what would happen, not who the chosen would become. God foreordained the promise, the end result of enduring till the end. He didn’t determine who that would be.

      Ephesians 1:12-13 shows us that we get the promise of salvation after we first trust in Christ.

      Heb 10:26-31 shows that someone who trusted in christ and returns willfully to their sin will face the wrath of God.

      1. Thank you for your comment Morris. However, God’s message through the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:4 is explicit if we go by the rules of language. God chooses people, not an outcome in the verse as He says, “just as He chose US..” The direct object of the action of God is “us”. God is choosing a people (the elect) for the purpose of being both holy and blameless before Him. Any other interpretation requires a twisting of the rules of both the Greek and English languages.

      2. Troy,

        If you start at 1:4 you’re not using the rules of language or proper hermeneutics. You also likely stop at verse 11.

        How does one become elect? By first trusting the promise.

        How does one stay elect? By obeying Christ.

        Rom 11:22, 2 Thess 1:8, 2 Peter 2:20-22, John 14:15

        Frankly I’d worry more about all the passages warning of believers getting to heaven and being turned away with, “I never knew you, you workers of iniquity.” over the 2.5 chapters that talk about the promise of those who remain in Christ.

        How do we know?

        1 John 2:3-5

        Those in Christ obey Him.

      3. Morris thank you for your comment sir! However, your explication is untenable sir since the verse is quite clear that the choice was made BEFORE the foundation of the world; meaning BEFORE mankind has the opportunity to trust in Christ.

      4. Troy,

        You’re still putting the cart before the horse. What was promised was he outcome.

        Think of it this way, if you’re standing on the side walk and see someone drive by going over the speed limit, texting and eating a cheeseburger, you *know* that person is going to crash.

        Your foreknowledge, did not make it happen. He chose his destiny, through His own freewill. That is what the word of God is telling us. Choose today whom you will serve. Sin leading to death, or obedience leading to eternal life.

        The destination is what has been foreordained, not who will make that choice.

      5. I’m sorry Morris but you’re explanation still is inaccurate because the outcome in Ephesians 1:4 is not what’s chosen, it’s the PEOPLE who are chosen to be holy and blameless. Allow the verse to speak for itself brother!

      6. Troy,

        Are you Holy and blameless? My guess is you believe the false imputed righteousness.

        Paul was saying there the same thing Peter says here. That *we* have to do that part. It’s how atonement is conditional.

        “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”” — 1Pe 1:15-16 NKJV

        I can’t help you discern the truth though, as you want to believe God chose you before the foundation of the world. That’s pride. That gives those not chosen an excuse, contradicting what Paul said in Romans 1:20. All are without excuse. Supernatural election is a huge excuse. What makes you better than your neighbors that weren’t chosen before the foundation of the world?

        Why hasn’t God given non calvinists who are Christians and love God, the grace to see the Bible the way you see it?

      7. Hey Morris! Sorry for the delayed response brother. Although I’m still living in this fleshly body that still craves sin, God has given me a new nature that craves His will and His purpose and loves His laws. We, the elect, are new creatures in Christ and are supernaturally indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This makes us holy and blameless before Him. Remember Paul said, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God…” -Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭
        Also consider this verse, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” -Philippians‬ ‭2:13
        Salvation is supernatural from beginning to end.

      8. The magical imputed righteousness is even less in the scripture than tulip. Point to a scripture that you believe defends go and sin some more. The new testament is filled with command the believers must live holy and sinless of their own will.

      9. Morris states, “The new testament is filled with command the believers must live holy and sinless of their own will.”
        Morris your understanding of the Scriptures is inaccurate. We can NEVER live a sinless life sir!!

      10. Why do calvinist always use a verse completely out of context? And I can’t believe I missed that the first comment. Phil 2:13 is meaningless without 2:12.

        Paul tells believers to work out *their own* salvation with fear and trembling.

        Godly sorrow brings a season of repentance which leads to salvation. 2 Co 7:9-11.

        We are to perfect holiness in fear of God. 2 Cor 7:1

        These are all conditions of salvation. Those who willfully sin under the blood will face the wrath of God. Heb 10:26-31

        Those who sin will not inherit the kingdom of God. Gal 5:19-21, 1 Cor 6:9-10, Col 3:5-6,Eph5:1-7

        You will reap what you sow. If you sin, you will reap destruction, if you sow from the spirit, you will reap eternal life. Gal 6:8.

        This is why I said, you calvinist focus too much on the tree of election and not how one becomes elect. The forest of scripture is more important than the two and a half chapters of election.

      11. I’m sorry Morris but divine election was made before any odedience to the Bible could be accomplished. I know this is a hard doctrine to accept because it goes against our flesh because we want some say-so in our eternal destiny. But the Scriptures are quite clear that God had a predetermined decree which includes His prerogative to choose a people for Himself before they’re even created.
        Also, Morris there are no pre-conditions for salvation. I’m sensing that you believe that we’re saved by obeying the Bible and that’s a faith + works gospel. God MUST give us the faith to believe and then persevere to the end. Your sustained obedience is worthless!

      12. Morris:

        It is not worth going round and round on this.

        Apparently “the Scriptures are quite clear that God had a predetermined decree…”

        Some of us just dont see that clear tree in the forest of contrary scriptural evidence.

        But anyway…according to this determinist idea….if you dont ever see it his way—-you were not predestined to do so!

      13. Morris writes, “But anyway…according to this determinist idea….if you dont ever see it his way—-you were not predestined to do so!”
        This is true!!

      1. The verse is about salvation because, in order to be holy and blameless, one must, by necessity, be saved.

      2. Also, Curt we’re not “called” to be holy and blameless. The verse says, we were “chosen” to be holy and blameless.

      3. Curt:

        Yeah…like the Jews were chosen for holiness….see Deut 14:2

        “For you are a holy people to YHWH your God, and God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth.”

        How’d that work out?

        They were chosen for holiness…but because of disobedience and lack of faith….. not so good.

        Nah…. it’s not as clear in the Word as people make it out to be.

        But….but ….if you COME to the Scripture with what it must say….you can make it say that.

      4. We must remember that national Israel is a picture/shadow/type of the spiritual Israel or the elect. God is not referring to national Israel in Ephesians 1:4. He’s only referring to those chosen BEFORE Creation to be holy and blameless.

      5. Troy says:

        “God is not referring to national Israel in Ephesians 1:4. He’s only referring to those chosen BEFORE Creation to be holy and blameless.”

        So when did The Sovereign Lord chose the nation Israel to be holy?

        I realize that Israel is not the same as the church (although for Calvin it is)…. that is not my point.

        My point is that the same God used the same word (chosen, elect) many, many more times for Israel….and “to be holy” also.

        But they didnt. And that shows that “chosen” doesnt mean what you say….irresistibly, irrevocably, before time.

        Even Jeremiah’s potter in chapter 18 (yes the same one that Calvinists love in Romans 9) says “well that lump of clay did not work so I will choose another…”

        So….the church was ‘chosen’ before creation…..and when was Israel ‘chosen’ to be holy?

        God tells real people….a real nation…. children of Abraham that they were chosen to be holy. You can say they were a ‘type’ all you want…. but they still did not do what He wanted.

      6. FOH Ephesians 1:4 separates national Israel from Spiritual Israel by the phrase “in Christ”. National Israel was never elected unto salvation sir. Only those physical Jews who believe in Christ are saved or “chosen to be holy and blameless”.

      7. Of course Troy!

        I am sure we all agree that only those “in Christ” are saved (like only those in their house—who had applied the blood in faith—- were saved from the angel of death at Passover).

        Again…that is not related to my point.

        My point is that the same God used the same word (“chosen”) in His Word many more times in the OT. He chose the real nation of Israel, seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be holy. Chosen to be holy….. He says it more times there then about the church later.

        The point is that The Sovereign Lord chose the nation Israel to be holy….. and they weren’t. They resisted. His choosing was resistible.

        To extrapolate the idea of “chosen” as you define it (irrevocably, irresistibly) before creation from that verse is eisegesis (reading into the text) not exegesis.

        So you are saying that Israel was not chosen to be holy before creation? Then when? And why did they not do it?

        If everything that God chose went as He planned….then Israel (the nation) would have been holy and the light of the nations they were chosen to be.

        Are you saying that all the many, many OT verses where The Sovereign Lord says He chose the people of Israel to be holy were not real verses? Not important verses? Or just have to be interpreted through a presupposed way?

      8. FOH the “chosen” in Ephesians is unto salvation sir. Also the references to “chosen” in the OT is looking forward to those who would be chosen in Christ.

      9. Let the record state:

        You believe that all of the words in the OT (and there are hundreds of verses) that speak of being chosen to be holy do NOT refer to a literal people of Israel. No intention on God’s part to choose the people of Israel—they were just an “image” of what it would mean to be chosen as the church.

        I believe that the OT states hundreds of times that Israel was chosen by God to be holy. That was His desire. He says it over and over.

        They did not do what He wanted. This is God illustrating His way, in His Word, that:

        1. He does not always get what He wants.
        2. The word chosen does not mean irresistible.
        3. Non-chosen people can become chosen by faith (Rahab, Ruth, many others)

      10. My friend you’re misrepresenting me. God did choose national Israel to be holy (separate/set apart from the other nations). However, the choice to separate them from the other nations is not the same choice of separating the elect from the the non-elect and making them “blameless”. You’re comparing apples with oranges sir!

      11. My error. Don’t want to misrepresent you.

        Answering these questions will clear things up.

        Did God choose Israel?

        When?

        For what? To be holy? To be set apart?

        Did they do what He chose them for?

        Or did they resist His call/ His will/ His plan?

        Was His plan to “look like” He call them (on paper in hundreds of verses) only to really want that they sacrifice their children to idols?

        Either they resisted His will…….

        or

        They fulfilled His will (which was to appear like He was calling them, only to really want them to disobey and murder children)

      12. God chose national Israel FROM amongst all the nations on earth to be His people on earth. National Israel repeatedly disobeyed God and was thus punished numerous times for their disobedience. EVERY MAN RESISTS THE WILL OF GOD BEFORE SALVATION! Post salvation, the true believer is made a new creature that loves and obeys (howbeit not perfectly) the will of God. National Israel had very few believers, thus, as a nation, they were wicked and rebellious!
        The doctrine of Irresistible Grace doesn’t meant that man can’t or doesn’t resist God’s will because they always resist His Will. The doctrine of Irresistible Grace means that the natural man lacks the ability to resist God’s power to save him when God chooses to save him.
        The error that most people make is that they conflate man’s intention/ability to resist God’s revealed will vs God’s intention/ability to save His people. The irresistibility is found in man’s SPIRITUAL INABILITY to resist God’s Spirit in saving him.

      13. Okay, this is getting confusing. And I noticed you didnt answer my simple questions.

        When God says He is choosing something it only means “irresistibly” when it has to do with salvation? And this is because…. humm… you say so?

        The Sovereign Lord wills/ chooses/ plans/ desires lots of things in the Bible (hundreds and hundreds of verses in dozens of books and even types of writing: narrative, history, poetry, proverbs, epistles) ….that do not go the way He wants. Apparently from Scripture (all of Scripture) we see that He (sovereignly) chose to make his will resistible.

        Why is this one idea an exception?

        God called Abraham. But it says that when / because he believed it was imputed to him as righteousness (no imputing of faith… just righteousness after faith). Gen 15:6, then Rom 4:3 and Gal 3:6 all state this important idea. Of course whole chapters (Heb 11) are dedicated to naming people and saying they are commended for their faith. It aint me makin’ this stuff up!

        The “man must be infused with faith” idea is simply brought to the Bible and made to fit. I know, I did it too when a young YRR.

        My Calvinist friends say the my version of faith is a work….but I think Paul pretty much takes care of that in the whole of Romans 4 when he goes out of his way to make sure that we understand that faith is not a work. Works does nothing. But faith in Christ does.

      14. Troy…

        You said:

        “EVERY MAN RESISTS THE WILL OF GOD BEFORE SALVATION! Post salvation, the true believer is made a new creature that loves and obeys (howbeit not perfectly)”

        Couple questions:

        1. Did Abraham resist God’s will? The order that Genesis (then Paul in Romans and Galatians) gives says that he believed the Lord and THEN the credited him with righteousness. Not given faith/life first. How does your order work? In all the hundreds of places that talk of people’s faith (even giving their names) where does say —even one time— that God gave them that faith?

        2. So man does resist the will of God before salvation? So we can resist God’s will? I mean that means He does not get what He wants (wills) sometimes right?

        3. You are staying that we love and obey afterward since we are redeemed, given the Holy Spirit, irresistibly drawn, made alive, buried with Christ, and “dead to sin.” Why does that “dead” (dead to sin) mean we can still sin (and must sin, as I heard you say to Morris) when the “dead men don’t make choices” is so dead that we cannot hear God?

        Why is one “incapable dead” and the other is “capable dead”?

      15. Troy….you said this….

        “The doctrine of Irresistible Grace doesn’t meant that man can’t or doesn’t resist God’s will because they always resist His Will.”

        I’m just a bit puzzled by that since there are so many passages of Scripture that seem to contradict that idea.

        Luke 1:5 “…a priest named Zechariah,[a] of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.”

        Hebrews 11:4 “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts.”

        Many such examples in Scripture….of …. not-“dead” people.

        You see it just doesnt sound like people are a “always resisting” as you say. I mean they dont sound “dead” in the way determinists talk about it. Honestly, it looks like the Scripture is making them sound like righteous, blameless folks.

        I would agree that they can’t know God (be saved) without Christ….but it does not sound like the are “always resisting the will of God” as you say.

      16. The vessels chosen for salvation are those that purify themselves.

        2 co 7:1
        1 Peter 1:14-15
        2 Tim 2:21

        Who cleanses the vessel, God chooses? You do. You have to choose to listen to the holy spirit and purge sin from your life.

        As Jesus warns,
        “many are called but few will be chosen.”

        Jesus sent the call to the whole world, even of those who choose to follow him and come to the wedding feast, of those few will be chosen. How are they chosen? Because they came dressed in their righteousness, not believing the gnostic lie that God will clothe them. In fact Jesus says this. The man put out from the party was shocked that he was dressed incorrectly.

        We so see this in Luke 13:23. Jesus is asked if many will be saved. His answer is that few will, and it depends on *our* actions in faithful obedience.

      17. Troy,

        It’s very dangerous as believers can fall away and lose the promise of Salvation. it’s why there are over 80 warnings of that in the Bible.

        Many of them from Jesus Christ Himself. That only those that obediently pursue Christ, will be saved at the end. It’s why He says, “those who endure till the end” will be saved.

        Those who get to the judgement throne, and are found wanting will be cast out. (John 15:6)

        Those who don’t remain in the goodness of Christ will be cut off (Rom 11:22)

        Those who defile the Temple of God will be destroyed (1 Co 3:17)

        Those who keep sinning will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Co 6:9-10, Ga 5:19-21)

        Those who sin _after_ being free from sin by the blood of Christ will be worse off. (Heb 10:26-31, 2 Peter 2:20-22)

        Those who come to the narrow gate, after bearing their cross daily, and get to the gate, and knock on it can still be turned away with, “I never knew you.”

        What defines knowing Christ? Those who obey His commandments (John 14:15)

        Those who do not sin (1 John 3:4-10) those who sin are of the Devil, and Christ came to destroy the works of the Devil (which even means those who profess belief in Christ, yet keep sinning.

        This is why the Bible is also filled with the phrase, “DO NOT BE DECEIVED.”

        If you had the “P” from TULIP, or the ES, or OSAS were true, why would there be SO MANY warnings of self deception leading to soul death?

        It’s a choice to be obedient, just as Joshua laid out – Joshua 24:14-15.

        Paul lays out the very same choice in Romans 6:15-18

        “present yourselves slaves to obey WHETHER (our choice) of sin leading to death.”(He’s telling this to believers, that the wages of their sin is still death) or obedience leading to righteousness.

        “But God be thanked, though you WERE (past state for the Roman believers) slaves of sin, you OBEYED from the heart the doctrine that delivered you.”

        Having been _set free from sin_ you became *SLAVES* of righteousness.

        Those that do not present themselves as slaves to righteousness will face the wrath of God with the other sons of disobedience.

        [Eph 5:3-7 NKJV] 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.

        This is why Paul also warns here again, “DO NOT be partakers with them.”

        If you as a believer couldn’t lose your inheritance, or will not face the wrath of God, no matter what, why would he have such a stern warning to believers?

        There are over EIGHTY of these types of passages warning _believers_ that falling away can lead to not only punishment here, but punishment in the afterlife. The letter of Ephesus was written to Believers, as you yourself acknowledge as a Calvinist. Their election however is determined by their obedience.

  4. “Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death, knowingly and willingly incur their guilt. It is not human authority that speaks, it is God who speaks and prescribes a perpetual rule for His Church.”…..

    John Calvin

    1. As I mentioned, I’ve been in the Reformed camp for over twenty years. But in my youth I was raised in the Brethren church, which is rooted in the Anabaptist/Arminian tradition. Lately I’ve been reading about the original Brethren in Europe and the incredible persecution they experienced at the hands of not only the Roman church, but also the Lutheran and the Calvinists! These poor Anabaptists just wanted to serve God peacefully and not cause trouble for anyone, but the rest of “Christendom” wouldn’t leave them alone!

      1. Don’t allow emotionalism to cloud your capacity to reason out the Scriptures. Truth is not determined by those who commit wicked acts in the name of Christianity. Remember that God has given His truth to fallible and wicked mankind. Let’s keep this in mind when contemplating the history of the Church.

      2. Agreed. We are to interpret scripture in light of other scripture. However, holding forth a doctrinal system as THE truth, when it’s clearly debatable, can lead to sinful behavior towards others with whom we disagree. And in light of your comment above characterizing Traditionalism as heresy, it seems that their view was that persecuting the “heretics” was righteous, as they were “contending for the faith”. So, emotionalism isn’t clouding my judgment on this point. It’s scripture: “Beware of false prophets, …..Ye shall know them by their fruits……every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” (Mat 7:15-17) So, it’s been interesting to me that as I’ve been recently examining my long held doctrinal views, I’ve watched and listened to several debates between Calvinist/Reformed believers and Traditionalist/Arminian. In fact, that’s how I learned about Dr. Flowers, as he was a guest debater on a podcast. It often strikes me that the Calvinist/Reformed debater comes off as arrogant and rude, with a lot of “mic drop” moments, while the Traditionalist continues to appeal to scripture without mockery or belittling. But I understand better now that some, such as yourself, consider the Traditional view as heresy, so they may feel justified in their attitudes. However, I don’t believe for a minute that all, or even most, Reformed believers consider their fellow brethren as heretics on this or other points of disagreement.

      3. EvT

        I have appreciated seeing your new interjections into this site.

        I also appreciate your admonitions to young Troy from your own reformed perspective.

        My testimony is easily found in these pages. I rode the (early) wave of YRR (before it was called that, and before it was all the fashion) in the late 70’s. Most of my Bible School and Seminary buddies are newly-reformed (or were) like I was. We were not from the Dutch/ Lutheran reformed background but the ones coming in via VanTil, Pink, Boettner, Packer (books) and now web sites Piper, Sproul etc.

        But….somewhat like you perhaps I began not so much to reevaluate….but just consume Scripture (large chunks a day). There was way too much in there that I had to discount, reinterpret, dismiss, slide over, ignore, whatever….every day (and I mean every day) for me to stay in the determinist-fatalist camp of Calvin. It seemed to me from Scripture that God gave man some responsibility and freedom and that his choices made some difference (“Choose for yourselves this day”…etc).

        I confessed my arrogance (how many times I had aggressively said “So Bob (insert any name) you have a man-made gospel!” “So you are giving glory to yourself and not to God!”)—-for chucking such belittling phrases at people who were honestly engaging with Scripture, and asked the Lord to let His word speak to me.

        It was a delight this morning to find my wife on the patio very excited to share what she had just read in Galatians about the value of the sacrifice of Christ!! So many treasures in God’s Word helping us make correct decisions throughout the day!

        Thanks for your input. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus!

      4. The problem is that too many people are trying to prove something (i.e. isms) instead of just being faithful to ALL that the Scriptures teach.

      5. But, Troy, I still think you’re mistaken to think that a historic debate around the topic of free will rises to the level of heresy that needs to be repented. My grandfather, a couple of uncles, and my cousin are all Brethren pastors, which puts them solidly in the Wesleyan Arminian stream. They are all some of the most exemplary Christians I have ever known. I will not accept the label of “heretic” for them. Until recently I served as a Southern Baptist minister of music, where I met pastors and others from both Reformed and Traditional persuasions. Didn’t spot a single heretic!

      6. Ev Thomas when I refer to someone as a heretic, I’m using the term it’s strictest sense as one who is teaching false doctrine or a lie. Anyone who deviates from the truth of the Bible and teaches false doctrine is practicing heresy. This is why we must study to show ourselves approved so that as we reprove false teachers, we do it with a firm grasp of the truth. This has nothing to do with Calvinism vs Arminianism vs Traditionalism. This is a matter of knowing and teaching truth.

      7. Ev T
        Get ready for the new normal for the young YRRs.

        “Truth is truth” and must be defended. No discussion about spiritual gifts, end times (a-, post-, pre-), church government, soteriology, women in ministry (or women even talking or uncovered—or with braided hair for that matter!), deacons-elders-pastors-bishops, types of baptism (sprinkle, immerse), age of baptism (infant, believer), dispensations or covenants, etc.

      8. The prepositional phrase ἐν αὐτῷ is a preposition of place. It modifies the object. so the object is not “us”, but “us-in-him”. Only Christ exists from the foundation of the world. He chose us-in-him, which can’t be the uncreated elect, as v. 13 shows.

      9. That is not accurate. In the Greek the direct object is still “us”. The “us” are elected “in Christ”. Even what you said still shows that “us” is apart of “”in Christ”. God BEFORE Creation chose a people for Himself to be holy and blameless. The language in the Greek is quite clear sir.

  5. In response to the original post, I got an ESV Bible from the first run many years ago. It was, and is, the translation of choice in my church. However, I was raised with KJV, so I notice when a verse is translated in newer translations in such a way as to change the meaning, however slightly. I’ve noticed several passages in the ESV that seem to have been translated with a Reformed bias. I realize the translators have other manuscripts to compare that weren’t available in 1611, but it strikes me as kind of odd that this translation leans so much more toward the Calvinist side than other translations. Up to now I’ve believed that they were arriving at their conclusions honestly. However the choice of “before” in the passage cited from Rev 13:8 seems downright dishonest.

  6. First of all EV needs to be commended for the spirit and content of his comments. It is never a bad thing to carefully reevaluate one’s beliefs. It is nice to see you commenting here. On the flip side I want to respond to Troy. Normally I ignore his comments as they appear to be coming from a calvinist pit bull with extreme attitudes: attitudes that are both wrong and divisive. Troy says he is operating by the strictest definition of “heresy” (i.e. any error or deviation from the truth is heresy). I used to work counter cult ministry with Walter Martin. That is not the way we used the term heresy or heretic. For us the term was used for those denying essential doctrines (e.g. denying the resurrection of Jesus, denying that Jesus is God/Arians/modern Jehovah’s Witnesses; denying salvation through faith alone. denying the trinity, claiming there are multiple gods/Mormons). A heretic then, a false teacher is someone who denies essential doctrines. That means Christians who disagree with us on things are neither Heretics nor espousing heresy. It is better to say they are teaching things that are mistakes or false ideas.

    Troy says a heretic is someone who is teaching false doctrine or a lie. Christians who disagree with us are not lying. Lying occurs when you know something to be false and yet present it as being true. Christians who disagree with us are not espousing something they know to be false: instead, while they may be mistaken they are espousing something they really believe to be true.

    Another problem with Troy is that Heretic or heresy are inflammatory words when used incorrectly. Here is an example to make this point. When it comes to the millennium some hold to amillenialism, some hold to premill, some hold to postmil. Say that I hold to premill, should I then be declaring amills and postmills to be Heretics who are espousing heresy? Or should I say that while I believe in premill as the best interpretation, the others are mistaken in their views?

    In scripture we are to separate ourselves from Heretics and those espousing heresy. Should we separate from all christians who disagree with us and declare them all to be Heretics espousing heresy? How divisive would this be? Troy is completely out of touch as to how the term Heretic and heresy are used in scripture: so his pronouncements should be ignored. There is no justification for his views and use of the terms Heretic or heresy, especially if we really base our views on scripture rather than on our desire to label and attack others who are believers who disagree with us.

    1. Hello Robert and I appreciate your candor brother. However, we will respectfully agree to disagree on our positions of heresy. If you would recall my exact verbage Robert, I defined heresy, in its STRICTEST SENSE, as referring to ANY doctrine that contradicts the truth of Scripture. You have provided a definition of heresy that has evolved over time that exposes false religions/sects as their teachings relate to the truth of the Bible. But heresy is ANY false doctrine that contradicts Holy Writ.
      One of the main issues in the modern Church today is that we’ve all become “inclusivists”; that is to say that we’re all accepting of each other’s views at the expense of teaching/preaching what “thus saith the Lord”. We are not studying the Scriptures with the attitude of “I’m going to believe it because it’s what the Bible teaches”. Instead, we have teachers/leaders who are only trying to force the Bible to agree with their presuppositions. These same teachers/leaders are interpreting Scripture as it appeals and soothes their flesh. The Bible was written to reveal God’s sovereign will/plan/purpose and we, as true believers, are called to adhere to His revealed purpose, NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT INJURES OUR FLESH.
      ANY teacher who is teaching ANYTHING contrary to the Word of God is teaching a heresy. This does NOT mean that he/she is a “heretic” in the sense that they’ve abandoned the Faith. But we MUST be EXTREMELY careful of what we speak as truth because when we speak we’re, in essence, speaking “THUS SAITH THE LORD”.
      It’s your prerogative Robert if you choose to ignore my comments, but that will not deter me from contending for truth, whether I’m contending with a brother/sister or an unbeliever. Remember that we’re all fallible (including believers). I don’t claim to be the one believer who understands ALL of Scripture, but I’ve been a student of the Word for over 26 years and I’m quite familiar with all the “isms” and cults and I’ve come to realize that truth is truth, no matter with whom you’re contending.

      1. Troy have you considered the fact that no one else here agrees with your usage of the terms “Heretic” and “heresy”? No one agrees with you because you are wrong about this. You tried to dismiss my usage of the terms by claiming I am merely espousing evolved views. Also not true, I am using the terms according to their NT usage. In the NT a heretic is someone who espouses heresy. Or conversely, someone who espouses heresy is a heretic. In the NT you will not find any instance of a believer teaching heresy and called out as someone who is doing so. As I already said your usage of the terms is unnecessarily inflammatory, and you know it. I think you enjoy labeling other believers who disagree with you as engaiging in heresy. That is extremely sad and speaks about your character in a very negative way. You can say that in your view other believers are mistaken, but you are dead wrong if you claim they are engaging in heresy. I may be speaking to deaf ears here, as you do not seem to be open to the fact that you are in error regardig your use of heresy and heretic.

        A late friend of mine was a calvinist apologist named Greg Bahnsen. I disagreed with his calvinism, you would agree with his calvinism. I also disagreed on his theonomy and postmill views. I am guessing that you hold neither postmill nor are you a theonomist. By your wayward reasoning, you would cosider Bahnsen to be espousing heresy regarding his post mill view and views on theonomy. I would say he is mistaken in these things. Bahnsen and I could have good discusions on things without neither claming the other way engaging in heresy. You on the other hand would not have good discussions with him as he would challenge your views on heresy and heretic. Bahnsen was a brilliant guy who was a delight to discuss things with. You on the other hand, intentionally use the term heresy in a divisive and inflammatory way.

      2. Robert I can appreciate your perspective brother. However, we will agree to disagree.
        For the record Robert, your use of such phrases as, “By your wayward reasoning..” are very inflammatory and divisive, which makes you guilty of your own accusations. Do have a blessed evening brother.

    2. Robert also writes, “Normally I ignore his comments as they appear to be coming from a calvinist pit bull with extreme attitudes: attitudes that are both wrong and divisive.“
      So Brother Robert is referring to me as a “calvinist pit bull” not divisive sir??

      1. I’m just fascinated by this whole line of reasoning! I’m positive that Dr. Flowers and some of the commenters in this thread believe you to be ignoring major scriptural points. One of these brothers even pointed out your misunderstanding of a passage based on his knowledge of Greek grammar. Not one of them has called your doctrine heresy or labeled you a heretic!

      2. My dear brother we must never shy away from correcting our brothers/sisters on doctrinal errors and point out areas where they have erred. We are talking about The Word of God; not just some other subject where we exchange philosophical ideas. We must be diligent in our studies and seek to teach truth; not points of view or conjecture.

      3. I have no objection to us debating what we perceive to be error. I’m simply appealing to you to stop using the term “heresy”. It’s inflammatory and doesn’t help your case. It would also be helpful for you to adopt a more humble approach in general, since we are all fallible and subject to error. What if you’re the one that’s in error? That’s why it’s healthy to have these discussions, so we can get to the truth. But it stops the process when you label someone’s opinion “heresy” and call them to repent.

      4. Good morning Ev Thomas and thank you for your comment. I have been corrected on many occasions throughout my Christian pilgrimage and it’s because of my hunger for truth that I’m willing to be corrected.
        There’s is nothing wrong with using strong language (i.e. heresy) nor admonishing a brother to repent of heresy as long as I’m not doing it angrily, hatefully, etc. When speaking to others that claim to be followers of Christ, it’s ok to admonish them to repent of a false doctrine, as long as it’s done respectfully and lovingly. In fact, we demonstrate our love for fellow believers when we correct/rebuke them in love.

      5. I’m not going to comment further on this. We’ve spent more time in this thread discussing Troy than we have discussing scripture. I’m sorry about that.

      6. Troy it may be helpful for you to know that when I used the term “calvinistic” before the term “pit bull”, it does not apply to merely calvinists such as your self. I have also encountered on the internet: Arminian pit bulls, Catholic pit bulls, etc. etc. I am speaking of a certain type of mentality. Such persons are usually very agressive, very persistent in presenting their views and attacking others views relentlessly (the way a pit bull is aggressive and when they bite they will hang on no matter what). Phillip Johnson a prominent calvinist, right hand man of John MacArthur who has edited most of his books speaks of “cage style calvinists” His term is similar to mine. If anyone “is” divisive it is these folks. Unfortunately they are often found on website discussons like this one. Contrast EV’s postings here. EV is a calvinist but he manifests a good spirit. He is the kind of calvinist you **can** have civil and good discussions with. Unfortunately calvinists do not have a monoply on being pit bulls in their manner of speaking with others with whom they disagree.

      7. Robert you have never met me brother. So for you to label me as such is unwarranted and unfair and is inflammatory. I don’t consider myself a pitbull and speak very softly and am quite reasonable when speaking with both believers and unbelievers alike. It’s very unfortunate sir that you slap labels on people that you have yet to meet.

  7. Reply to Troy.

    Regarding Eph 1:3-4, God did not choose the *identity* of the faithful in Christ. Rather, God pretemporally chose for “the faithful in Christ” [“us who believe” per v.19] to be made holy and blameless, which is God’s spiritual blessing particular to believers, as a factor of “every” spiritual blessing being only for believers. [v.3] In other words, God is not choosing who will be believers. Rather, He chose that believers will inherit certain predestined spiritual blessings. In your argumentation, if God chose blessings for the faithful in Christ, then He necessarily chose the faithful themselves. Since your logic is plainly non-sequitur, your conclusion cannot be trusted.

    Troy wrote: “Ephesians 1:4 is crystal clear that God chose a people BEFORE creation to be holy and blameless before Him.”

    Plainly wrong, and your comment that the elect were eternally in Christ is equally wrong, since the Bible mentions some people being “in Christ” before others. Romans 16:7 states: “Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” So you will say, “Well, that’s just the human perspective.” By creating contrasting senses out of thin air, you are creating a false dichotomy. The problem for you is a combination of poor reading comprehension skills and Confirmation Bias. The first thing that you need to realize is that v.4 begins with “just as.” That is critical, but you will see it as superficial, which again I would attribute to poor reading comprehension skills on your part. The function of “just as” at v.4 implies a vital connection between v.3 and v.4. If you don’t see that, then what follows will not make any sense to you. The point of v.3 is that every spiritual blessing is unique to believers, and “just as” at v.4 illuminates just such a spiritual blessing, which is that believers are uniquely predestined by God to be made holy and blameless before Him. Again, by employing sound reading comprehension skills, v.3 is about the spiritual blessings particular to believers, and what follows in v.4 is an *example* of exactly that, which is certain a spiritual blessing unique to believers, and then vv.5-6 is another example of a spiritual blessing that is unique to only believers, which is that God has predestined that believers will be adopted as sons. Additional examples of v.3 are that the spiritual blessing of redemption is unique to believers (v.7), and an inheritance is unique to believers (v.11) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is unique to believers. (v.13) However, in your logic, if you are consistent, then you would have “elect-unbelievers” as the place for all spiritual blessings (v.3), “just as” the elect alone are chosen to believe (v.4). Of course, that isn’t at all what vv.3-4 are saying, but you will have to conclude those things in order to remain consistent, but at this point, I suspect that this is all way over your head, so I’ll stop here.

    1. Thank you Richard for your perspective brother. However, I stand by my original statement that Ephesians 1:4 is very clear in its purpose and language as it states, “just as He chose US in Him BEFORE the foundation of the world, that WE would be holy and blameless before Him…” -Ephesians‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭
      There have been countless attempts to explain away the plain meaning of this text. However, God has made this verse so clear that any attempts to explain away its meaning has been an exercise in futility.
      When we look at the verse we draw the following conclusions:
      1) God chooses a people for Himself
      2) He chooses them BEFORE Creation
      3) Christ is the means by which they’re saved as denoted by the phrase “in Christ”
      4) The purpose for God’s choosing them is so that they would be holy and blameless before Him

      1. Hi Troy, I have to disagree you brother. I believe the word “Chosen” is the proper English word of the underlying Greek for the following reasons.
        To pick up on the word “chosen” which might be a boring grammar lesson, but I have found to be significant. Every word in the bible is significant “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4
        Why use the word “chosen” and not ‘chose’? In English the word ‘choose’ is an irregular verb, with ‘chose’ as the past form and “chosen” as the past participle form; The ‘past participle’ form can be explained as something that started in the past but continues until now; The ‘past participle’ is used with the auxiliary has, have, had or “hath” to express the perfect aspect; In English grammar defining the ‘perfect aspect’ is a verb construction that describes events occurring in the past but linked to a later time, usually the present; Therefore to say that God’s ‘choosing’ was in a final sense (past form) before the foundation of the world and had nothing to do with God’s plan of salvation in the present is absolutely false. God choosing “the faithful in Jesus Christ” (the plural church) “in him” before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blame before him in love, has everything to do with what he is doing in the present (past participle), which is saving individuals by grace through faith, which was given “in Christ” in the past and continues into the present -“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:” Romans 3:22.
        Therefore, the word “chosen” is always linked to an event in a later time. Whereas “chose” can also mean this, but not always. The Greek word underlying the English is “eklegomai”. Strong’s Concordance describes the word meaning like this – “to pick out, select,” means, in the middle voice, to choose for oneself,” not necessarily implying the rejection of what is not chosen, but “choosing” with the subsidiary ideas of kindness or favor and love” – Strong’s Concordance.

        Therefore I believe God in his omniscience has chosen (past participle) all who believe the gospel and are saved – to be glorified. Simple and proper hermeneutics in grammar settles it in my opinion.

    2. Thank you Richard. This is how I understand Eph 1:3,4 as well. We were not chosen apart from Christ, but only in Christ. One of the many dangers I find with Calvinism is that in placing a certain ‘elect’ group of people as predetermined to be given salvation as given priority, it is no longer Christ who is the chosen, the elect as described in Isaiah 42, it is that group of people. It is that group of people who then become the beloved of God, and Christ merely becomes the vehicle through which Gods will to save the ‘elect’ is accomplished.
      Our identity, contrary to how I understand Calvinism, is not of those chosen by God who out of necessity had to be redeemed by Christ, but chosen by God through, and only through Christ, for He is the chosen one. We were not adopted children who had to be washed before being presented to our Father, we were enemies of God, washed by the blood of Christ, who is the firstborn Son of God, in whom we are then presented to the Father for adoption.

    3. I realize this is an old post, but I comment again for a particular reason

      Blessings Richard.
      I am about to do what I said I would not do. That is not post here anymore. Well a change of mind I guess. Just a short post to bring some understanding to what Troy is trying to say about Ephesians 1:4 and how you are incorrect respectfully about Romans 16:7.

      Ephesians 1:4 New King James Version (NKJV)
      4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

      It is obviously and most definitely speaking of those “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.” “Before the foundation of the world” means before the the “creation of the world” Or “before time began” or “from all eternity.” It does not refer to the blessings being chosen, “being holy and blameless in love in Him before the foundation of the World” It emphatically says, “He chose US IN HIM” before the “Foundation of the World” (before the creation of the world, before time began, from all eternity) that we should be holy and blameless in love depending on where you want to put the comma before or after the word love.

      Now I know Mr. Brian Wagner said their “could not have been anyone elected IN CHRIST” because no one existed in eternity. That is human beings. Brian has a very recent, odd and ambiguous understanding on Ephesians 1:4 and I think Dr. Flowers understanding of verse 4 is close to his that it is referring to the blessings of “holy and blameless” and not the “CHOSE US IN HIM” before the foundation of the world.

      Brian does not believe God has infinite and exhaustive knowledge. As far as I know Dr, Flowers does. I have shown Brian before where he is completely wrong on this issue but he will not budge on his Open Theism. He does believe God has infinite Understanding which he has no choice since the Book of Psalms spells it out in no uncertain terms.

      I do know a God who “who calls those things that be not as though they are” and they manifest during God’s time table.

      Romans 4:17 New King James Version (NKJV)
      17 (as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations”) in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;

      I know a God who knew a prophet before he was in his mother’s womb, that is before he even existed. That is a God with unlimited, infinite exhaustive Knowledge, Infinite understanding implies infinite knowledge and wisdom.

      Jeremiah 1:5 – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

      You see God knows people or individuals before they exist and calls things that be not as though they were. It was his eternal Decree to elect certain individuals in Christ to be predestination to Salvation in time and history.

      Dr. Flowers takes the “US”, which he says is the, ” the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus” He is correct. That is the original audience the Apostle Paul was speaking to. But Dr, Flowers must remember that all of the Scriptures for the most part is talking to an audience that is not speaking to us in the here and now. We must read it in context and then make application to us. There are no “TWO WAYS OF SALVATION” The Apostle Paul, an individual, one person, includes himself with the “saints who are in Ephesus and faithful (or believing ones in the Greek) in Christ. Paul is an individual. The saints in Ephesus are made up of individuals and the believing ones in Christ Jesus are made up of individuals. They did not get saved as a corporate elected chosen group. Even if you say they were chosen corporately they are still made up of individuals and they are saved individually in history and in God’s timing here on earth. So the application is made to everyone who has placed his or her faith and trust in Christ today. “They were chosen or elected in Christ Jesus from all eternity, or before the foundation of the world, before time began to holy and blameless in love.

      Why does the Non-Calvinist say the Christian is saved and then elected by God? Where is this found in Holy Scripture?

      Do not say it is the “doctrine of adoption” because Paul makes it clear in the same chapter of Ephesians 1 that those chosen in Christ from all eternity were “predestined unto adoption” not elected to adoption. Please clarify/

      Then for your last verse Richard which you seem to be confused on. Romans 16:7

      Romans 16:7 New King James Version (NKJV)
      7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me

      You have mixed up “time and history” with “before the foundation of the world and from all eternity” There were those chosen and elected “IN CHRIST” from the foundation of the world or all eternity. Then there are those who are “SAVED AND ARE IN CHRIST” in time and history which they were predestined to when they were elected in Christ from all eternity.

      I also came back to finish some unfinished business. I made two promises when I was still posting on here. I promised myself I would respond to Dr. Flowers understanding of “Provisional Atonement” and his understanding of 2 Thessalonians 2:13 which I made this assertion and posted on here. I will not respond to these to subjects on this site as i really do not wish to continue commenting here. I will respond to these two subjects on my own word-press site and will come back and announce it and maybe it will be posted. If not if God is willing those who are meant to find it will.

      Oh yeah, here is an article on Revelation 13:8 that shows its English translation is not dishonest as two people on here have implied. It is plausible and possible. The ESV also indicates down below how it is translated in other versions of the Bible giving the reader an option. That is not being dishonest. There have been other Bible translations before the ESV that have translated Revelation 13:8 the same way before the ESV. But when the Reformed Calvinist do it they are being disingenuous and dishonest. 🙁

      Here is a strong article for the ESV translation below: please take a look at it if you are really interested in looking at both sides, I know I am. It is truth I want, not just to win an argument through sinful quarreling.

      http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/08/camping-and-atonement.html

      Still love your sense of humor you had with Dr. White on Provisional Atonement Dr. Flowers. A side of you I have never seen but I liked it and you had me laughing hard. Thanks so much to all and God bless.

  8. Leighton,

    Regarding your final paragraph, I’ve added the following paragraph into the verse commentary. Let me know if it should be modified:

    “An additional problem with respect to Calvinism is in regard to the lapsarian controversy of supralapsarianism vs. infralapsarianism. If one interprets the identities of those named in the Lamb’s Book of Life as being written and completed before the foundation of the world, then that would seemingly necessitate a high supralapsarian position, which has typically been rejected by mainstream Calvinists.[670] So the question of interest would be how an infralapsarian Calvinist would maintain their perspective of the Lamb’s Book of Life being completed by God unconditionally, before the foundation of the world, if they simultaneously hold that Unconditional Election is only subsequent to the Fall of man.”

  9. Note that EV who is a calvinist also said that Troy should stop using the term “heresy” in an inflammatory way. EV also agrees with me that we should not say of believers who disagree with us that they are espousing heresy. If people hold Troy’s view of heresy they will be inflammatory and divisive and people will not want to have discussions with him. If Troy would change his view and instead of asserting that believers who disagree with him are engaging in heresy, assert they are mistake or in error that would help alot. I doubt this will happen which is why I say others should ignore his views on heresy and heretics.

    1. Robert you are entitled to your opinion sir. But your opinion is just that..your opinion. However, heresy is any false doctrine. I will repeat again that anyone who espouses heresy is NOT NECESSARILY an infidel of the Faith. They are simply espousing a false teaching.
      Heretic ALSO refers to those who have abandoned the faith and were never really true believers in the first place.
      But, as stated before, I choose to agree to disagree with Robert on this issue even though I believe he’s not grasping what I’m saying.

      1. Troy writes “your are entitled to your opinion sir”: True, as you are entitled to having opinions as well.

        “But your opinion is just that . . your opinion”: this statement is false and demonstrably so. I repeat myself yet again, in the NT (which is not “just your opinion) those who espouse heresy are heretics, a heretic is one who espouses heresy, and there is no instance where a believer is said to be espousing heresy if they are presenting error or views that are mistaken.

        That is what the NT in fact presents so it is not my opinion. Also, if you check out any authority or expert in cults or counter Christianity cults (e.g. Walter Martin) they all hold the same view on heresy and heretic. YOU are the only person who has ever espoused that all errors and mistakes made by believers are heresy while they themselves are not heretics. YOU are the one who is expressing mere opinion, opinion which is contradicted by the NT and all cult researchers.

        Unless you can show from scripture that your opinion is true, you continue to present your mere opinion. For someone who claims that he is so biblical and that he holds the truth and that when he speaks it is “Thus saith the Lord”, you are playing fast and loose with the scripture. Time for you to abandon your false view and instead speak the truth on this subject.

  10. Probably not a big deal, but I feel like I should interject that I’ve never considered myself a true Calvinist. I did say I was Reformed, but in my view that’s a broader term for a larger group of people who hold a range of views on the grace doctrines. For example, in my particular Reformed camp, we generally don’t talk about limited atonement because we really can’t find clear scriptural evidence for it. I also struggle personally with the idea of irresistible grace for the same reason. To me, Calvinist is a stricter term for people who adhere to the “5 points” fairly rigidly, although there can be subtle differences. A former pastor of mine, who I would say is generally Reformed, commented to me that he doesn’t like any label for himself beyond “Christian”, because identifying to closely with a certain doctrinal systematic can lock us in to a way of interpreting scripture that we may later discover is wrong. I agree with him, that God can speak for Himself through scripture

  11. By the way, the aforementioned pastor was teaching through the book of Hebrews last year. When he got to chapter 6 he conceded that while he didn’t believe someone could lose their salvation, it might be possible, according to v. 4-6, for someone to renounce it. So if he’s a Calvinist, he’s now maybe just a 2 and a half point Calvinist!

  12. Ev,
    That’s pretty much where I’m at with eternal security. I grew up with the idea that you could lose it at any time, for one wrong thought, basically. I spent a lot of time later in a church that was at the other end of the spectrum, but never quite bought that it was impossible to lose. Study and experience tells me I can’t lose my salvation, but I can give it back by total and complete rejection of the Holy Spirit.

    1. Hello Wildwanderer and welcome to the discussion brother! I would just encourage you and Ev with the following verses from Scripture:

      “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” -‭John‬ ‭6:37

      “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭

      “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” -John‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭

      1. Those are all wonderful promises, and they certainly assure me the God will not let me go. They do not however say that I cannot reject God’s grace. There are plenty of passages about falling away. I have the assurance as long as I have faith as a mustard seed my salvation is intact. It doesn’t depend on me having great strength, rather faith is the opposite, it is full Reliance on God’s strength. I do not understand how the Calvinist can have the same assurance, since there was always a possibility that he is not one of the elect.

      2. WW:

        Yes there are plenty of passage about believers rejecting….not just in Hebrews…

        1 Timothy 4:1-3
        Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

        Matthew 7:21-23
        “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

        Matthew 24:10
        “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.

        2 Timothy 2:12
        If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

        2 Peter 2:20-21
        “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”

        1 Timothy 1:18-20
        “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.”

        1 Corinthians 9:27
        “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

        Colossians 1:21-23
        “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every

        Romans 11:20-22
        “…But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.”

        John 15:6
        If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

        See another “broad strokes” list I am compiling and studying….

        Gal. 5:1-5, have their names removed from the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 22:19),
        Eph. 5: 3-5; 1Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19; Rev. 21:6-8; Matt: 6:15; Matt: 19:21-35; Matt: 10:22-32; Luke 12:41-46; 1 Cor. 15:1-2; Rev. 2:10, 25-36, 3:1-5;

      3. WW:

        I forgot to add that when a Calvinist begins to comment on these passages he will likely with something like.

        “Yes, but we know these passages dont mean what they appear to mean….”

        Wait for it…..

      4. Great comment Wildswanderer! I always tell people that God’s elect is evidenced by the life they live. A true child of God WILL display an earnest and perpetual desire to do the will of his/her Savior. This is indicative of true conversion and true conversion is Holy Spirit-wrought. An authentic faith WILL endure to the end because it’s God who’s working in him [the true believer] both to do and to will according to His [God’s] good pleasure.
        You see, when we realize that Salvation is a miracle whereby God makes us a new creation, then we know that our Salvation is 100% dependent on the Savior and not the faith of the saved. This is also why having a right understanding of the nature of salvation is tantamount to the Christian’s life.

      5. “…our Salvation is 100% dependent on the Savior and not the faith of the saved”. Our salvation is absolutely 100% Christ’s work, but isn’t faith also required to receive it? I haven’t met a single Christian who didn’t exercise faith at some point to be saved. So it’s grace that saves, but still through faith, right? Eph 2:8 -9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

      6. Good evening Ev! Yes but the faith that is exercised is a God-given supernatural faith. The faith is “not of ourselves” as you so appropriately pointed out in Ephesians 2.

      7. Ok. I was sure you couldn’t mean that no faith was required, but your wording could be taken that way. I’m glad you’re not one of the “Hyper-Grace” crowd!

      8. Not to nit-pick, but I wasn’t pointing out that faith is “not of ourselves”. The “not of yourselves” in this passage seems to be pointing back to the subject of the sentence, which is grace. I’m not disagreeing that faith is a gift from God, but I’m not sure that’s the point Paul’s making here.

      9. Excellent observation Ev! The “that” is referring to the entire clause, ““For by grace you have been saved through faith..”
        In other words, the gift is the entire concept of being saved by grace through faith.

  13. “They do not however say that I cannot reject God’s grace.” This is an argument from silence, it is not necessary for the Bible to say that we can reject God’s grace if that is a possibility. In light of the clear passages that a genuine believer cannot lose their salvation. One of my mentors shared a very helpful thought on this subject. He said that whenever you teach or preach there will always be three types of people that may be present: those who are genuine believers, those who are genuine unbelievers,and those who think they are saved but are not. In Jesus’ parable of the sower you see this, different responses to the same seed. Some hard as a rock/the unbeliever, some produce good fruit/the believers, and others who start as professing believers but who then don’t continue/think they were saved but never were. If you look at the warning passages in Hebrews, Paul contrasts one group who don’t seem to be holding on and another group of which he says “we are convinced of better things concerning you”. I have no problem seeing these warnings as also including he three groups.

    On this subject you also have to maintain the distinction between the objective aspect (i.e. what Jesus, the Spirit and the Father do which is factual, unchanging, independent of what we do or say) and the subjective aspect (how we feel about our salvation, usually closely connected with our obedience and actions). Assurance of salvation is subjective and can vary, the work of salvation, what God did/does is set, unchanging, not varying.

    I would also say this is a complex subject involving a lot of verses and that it is a subject in which true believers disagree (and neither side whichever is in error, contrary to Troy’s opinion, is espousing heresy. We can respectfully disagree on this without calling the other side heretics or claiming they are intentionally espousing heresy.

      1. Timothy 1:18-20
        “Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.”
        Seems very clear that one can cease to have faith. If faith was 100 percent God’s gift, requiring nothing from us, telling us to hold onto faith would be kind of silly.

      2. If one ceases to have faith, then that faith was not a God-given faith. It was a false faith that most people display when they get excited about the Gospel and then the Devil or the cares of this world come and prove that faith to be false. However, the faith that God gives is sustaining and will endure until the end.
        God in many passages of Scripture admonishes true believers to keep the Faith, but these are verses to encourage true believers. They’re not verses meant to teach the nature of saving faith. We know that authentic saving faith only comes from God and He will not give this faith and then snatch it back again.

      3. And this is why I don’t believe in irresistible grace. I don’t find it in scripture. In a world where grace was not resistable, of course, you have to conclude that no one can fall away. Why would there be verses encouraging believers to keep the faith if they could not possibly do anything else? If faith were only God given, we would all be wholly sactified, and there would be no such struggle.

      4. WW:
        Responses to you will demonstrate why this goes nowhere.

        Responses such as “We know all faith comes from God…” show that they start with a HUGE presupposition and build on that. Based on their interpretation of Eph 2;8-9, they decide that faith comes from God and then they must view all the hundreds and hundreds of verses about faith (Heb 11, personal faith, “Abraham believed the Lord,….then he was counted as righteous” “strengthen your faith” “if you had the faith of a mustard seed” Rom 4 “faith is not a work”—etc —and the list goes on for miles) through these lenses. It’s all about the presupposition they brought TO the Bible.

        Of course grace is resistible! Look at the thousands of time in the OT that God made sincere offers that people did not take.

        Of course the NT contains many warnings about “shipwrecked faith” or “dont turn back to your former ungodly lives”

        But as usual…..all explanations of these multiple passages start with “These do not really mean what they look like.”

      5. The Christian life is a struggle because we’re crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 relates the struggle of having true faith in Christ. But this does not negate the fact that true faith is God-given and will persevere to the end.

  14. I really have nothing to add to what FOH says above. I think a lot of people misunderstand what faith is. They see it as me working hard to maintain my beliefs, when it is actually ceasing to rely on myself and trusting God.

  15. My daily reading (OT, NT, Ps, Prov).

    I could do this every day (see how the Scriptures contradict Calvinism) —-and I did…that is what drew me out of Calvinism.

    Philemon 4:

    4 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon, 5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

    Paul hears about his faith IN Christ. There is never (ever) mention of faith FROM Christ.

    Then he goes on…..YOUR love….YOU will put into action….YOUR faith…YOU understand. YOUR love…..YOUR kindness…

    No wonder we non-Calvinists are accused of being “man-centered.”

    So is Paul!

    1. This comment truly grieves my spirit because it epitomizes the mindset of the typical professed Christian today and the concentration on man’s efforts to save and sustain himself.
      This is why we mustn’t look at the Gospel trying to prove or disprove and “ism”. In so doing, we’re limiting our ability to see tota scriptura and pit Scripture against itself, instead of harmonizing it.
      Now the truth is that in every instance where God references “your faith”, we know from tota scriptura that the source of “your faith” is a supernatural gift from God. We truly believe in the Lord and that faith truly sustains us because it’s a God-given, supernatural gift. The following verses support this all-important truth:
      “And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been GRANTED [GIVEN] him from the Father.” -John‬ ‭6:65‬ ‭

      “For to you it has been GRANTED for Christ’s sake, not only TO BELIEVE in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”
      ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:29‬ ‭

      “Jesus answered and said to them, This is THE WORK OF GOD THAT YOU BELIEVE in Him whom He has sent.”
      ‭‭John‬ ‭6:29‬ ‭

      We are to harmonize Scripture; not show it to be contradictory and we definitely NEVER say that they are man-centered for the Gospel is ALWAYS GOD-glorifying, even in the salvation of mankind!

      1. Perhaps you could explain me why my having faith in order for God to save me somehow glorifies God less than God regenerating me against my will, as it were. God has sovereignly decided that my faith is required for him to do the work of salvation. Does that make God man centered? If God had decided that I needed to stand on my head and cluck like a chicken in order to be saved that is his Sovereign right to decide.

  16. Let me follow up from my morning devotion.

    Went to church, shortly after I posted that Philemon comment, where we were studying the latter half of John 1.

    But John 1:11-12 caught my eye.

    11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,…

    Here it looks like they could have received Him….but they didnt.

    Here it looks like they received Him … and they believed….. and then He gave them the right to become the children of God. There is no sense of giving them anything special before they believed.

    Then….during the sermon

    35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?”

    Even Jesus states that they were seeking something…. (though we are told “seeking” is impossible).

    Then Andrew follows Christ….. and tells his brother Simon…

    “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus.

    So….here are people seeking and finding (all which we are told is impossible) ((I mean how dare the Calvinistic Scriptures ever saying that “dead” man “found” anything!)).

    Later in the passage….Jesus walks up to people and says “Follow me.”

    They need to believe and to follow. Personal decisions.

    The message this morning was passionate….encouraging us to grow in our faith—and to follow Christ. (Why so much passion if not to plead to our personal decisions?)

    Just like Paul telling Philemon…..”your love” has encouraged him…”your kindness has encouraged people”. To what? Encouraged them in their lives, in the need to make wise decisions.

    Just like the teacher’s message this morning to “follow Christ” “to grow in Christ” —–what for? So that we make wise decisions each day in our walk with Christ.

    To say that “our faith” or “our love” or “our kindness” in no way comes from us personally is to make a mockery of all the hundreds and hundreds of Scriptures (and Sunday messages) where we are challenged to grow in our faith, love, kindness.

    The Scripture does not sound like it is encouraging people to do what they have already been robotically programmed to do.

    1. Brother this comment further reveals your inability to harmonize ALL that Scripture teaches and you continue to unwittingly make Scripture contradictory.
      Please brother, I admonish you to allow all of the Bible to speak to you!

      1. Troy:

        I find your comments interesting on two levels:

        1. You have called me a deceiver and heretic on numerous posts (on other topics) and now call me brother. I would be relieved to know that the admonition of others (to you) to be more Christ-like have had some effect on you. That’s good.

        2. The second curious thing is that I was a Bible-schooled Calvinist (likely before you were born) and my testimony is easily found in these pages. When I put down the Reformed-lenses and read massive portions of Scripture each day (OT, NT, Ps, Prov), through the Bible each year…. and listened to ALL the Bible is not when I became a Calvinist ….it’s when I left Calvinism.

        The weight of the thousands of verses working against determinist-fatalist-Calvinism far out numbered the 15-20 key (Reformed lens) verses that I was urged to interpret all other verses by.

        No, I am afraid the “all of Scripture” shows God far differently than the impassible, static, impersonal God of determinism.

        I have posted of the hundreds of verses where the Sovereign, Almighty, LORD of Israel tells people “if you do this…I will do this….but if you do this…I will do that.”

        If it were one verse—I would be hasty to make implications….. but there are hundreds and hundreds like it. They make no sense when interpreted through determinist lenses.

        And the list of types of God-created scenarios like the one above goes on and on. That…..is all of Scripture.

      2. Troy, I’ve also noticed in the last several posts that you’ve softened your tone without compromising your convictions. I want to thank you and encourage you in that! Good job, my brother!

      3. However, I reject that I haven’t been Christ-like in my responses because I have firmly rebuked my brothers in their handling and teaching of Scripture! That will not change brother.

  17. Hello there. I am new to your site and hope you will still answer old posts. I have been quietly wrestling with these hard passages for a while with very little input from either side because I want to come to conclusions on my own about what I believe. I have seen the bitter fruit of Calvinism, but have so much to still work through.

    My question is, “Even if the actual meaning is from instead of before, how does this really change things in the context of predestination?” Though I don’t appreciate how the ESV changes the word to before, it still says that “everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (NASB) will worship the beast,

    Therefore, it stands to reason that if our names had to be written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, then it still indicates that it was decided then who would be chosen for salvation. I simply cannot see another perspective unless I do some theological gymnastics. What have I missed, Dr. Leighton?

    1. Hey Ellah, I’m not Dr. Flowers but I work with him in this ministry. I hope I can help you wrestle with your question.

      The question I would ask in response is this: What does “before” mean when we’re talking about God? Obviously, I don’t take you as saying that God is bound by time and therefore can only know things as they happen. Let’s say time is like a parade. You and I are bound to watching the parade from the sideline, seeing everything as it happens. However, God is not bound as we are but instead can be thought of as being up in a helicopter, seeing the entire parade all at once. This is called the “eternal now” view of God. If God looks at the parade from above, outside of time, and sees those who are in Christ, “when” did he write their names in the book? Saying “before the foundations of the world” seems like an accurate way to describe that concept without attempting to say that God is bound by time.

      When it comes to Calvinism vs. non-Calvinism, I don’t think the main issue is “when” the names were written in the book of life, but how they got there. If I say “God wrote the names of the saved before the foundation of the world” that only assumes simple foreknowledge. It is an irrational leap to go from “written before the foundation of the world” to “God effectually saves those he writes in the book before the foundation of the world”.

      I hope that helps. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  18. Hi Eric. Thanks so much for your fast reply. I’m not certain I articulated my question well enough. Either that, or we’re just on different wavelengths:)

    My main question (restated) is: How does using the word from instead of before completely change the doctrine of predestination. It only changes the time frame of when He wrote our names in the book of life, not the requirements of how they ended up there.

    Does that make more sense?

    1. Ellah, thanks for the dialogue! Just so we’re on the same page, you’re wondering if there is a difference between “from the foundation of the world” and “before the foundation of the world” when it comes to the Calvinistic understanding of predestination?

      And, I apologize, I’m not sure I understand the rest of your question. I think “from” and “before” are trying to discuss the same concept. I don’t want to use the term “timeframe” when it comes to the actions of God that are clearly outside of time.

      I’ll say something briefly about predestination: As a non-Calvinist, I too believe in predestination. God absolutely predestines certain things to happen. The question is, what is he predestining? God predestines that those who believe in him will have their name written in the book of life. I do not think the Bible teaches that God predestines which individuals will, and will not, believe in him.

      1. Eric, Dr. Leighton made the whole podcast about how very different the words from and before are , and how they make a tremendous amount of difference in whether we interpret that verse from a Calvinistic perspective or a Traditionalist one.
        But even if we use the word “from” instead of “before” it would only indicate that God elected who would be believers at the time of Genesis, rather than before He created the world.
        However, I just went over the podcast again, and this time I caught Dr. Leighton saying that the word “from” actually means “since.”
        If that is what the Greek word “apo” really means, then I can see how this would hold a lot of weight in discounting the Calvinistic perspective.
        The only issue I have left now is whether the Greek word “apo” that means “from” actually means “since.”
        Thank you again for your time, and God bless.

      2. Ellah, if I remember correctly, “apo” can mean both “from” and “since” and so it’s up to the interpreter to decide which fits the context more. That’s why you have committees like the ESV run by Bill Mounce who lean more Calvinistic interpreting things like “before” cause they think it fits the context (read: their systematic) better.

        Altering the biblical text to a “before” meaning when really “from/since” is in view is a problem, for sure.

        I would still see the biggest point in discounting the Calvinistic perspective as how the names got in the Book of Life ie, effectual irresistible grace vs. God’s gracious response to free moral agency.

        Cheers!

  19. It’s remarkable how one word can make such a profound difference in the meaning of a verse. If that is how one verse has been altered, then I’ll just stick with the NASB! The flow of the ESV hasn’t resonated with me anyhow.

    You’re absolutely right, Eric. The greater picture does lie in the how rather than the when, and will most likely be the next thing I wrestle through. I only wish it could be resolved as quickly as this issue, but there’s no substitute for reflective, thorough study.

    It must be difficult at times for you theologians to balance the need to plunge into the depths of study, while actually living out the words of Christ. It’s even hard for someone like me! Once my mind goes down a rabbit hole, it gets stuck there for a while:) yet in the end, our understanding of exactly how the balance between free will and predestination works will matter far less in our Father’s eyes than how we lived for Him as a whole.

    Jesus paid too great a price for our salvation, and the unity He prayed for shouldn’t rest on mere men like Calvin or Arminius. I hope and pray that we can move beyond that in our Baptist churches.

    Now more than ever, fellow conservatives with a high view of God’s Word need to be unified, not further divided on the basis of scripture that supports both. I appreciate you and all who work on this website, because I can see that is what you desire as well.

    In Christ,
    Ellah

  20. I would say that using “from the foundation of the world” still makes the same point. Which is that God chooses people prior to their birth.

  21. The word rendered “foundation” – καταβολή katabolē – means properly a laying down, a founding, a foundation – as where the foundation of a building is laid – and the phrase “before the foundation of the world” clearly means before the world was made, or before the work of creation; see Matthew 13:35; Matthew 25:34; Luke 11:50; Hebrews 9:26; Revelation 13:8, in all which places the phrase “the foundation of the world” means the beginning of human affairs; the beginning of the world; the beginning of history, etc. Thus, in John 17:24, the Lord Jesus says, “thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world,” i. e., from eternity, or before the work of creation commenced.God the Father Loved Jesus “before or “from ?? Thus, Peter says 1 Peter 1:20 of the Saviour, “who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world.” It was the purpose of God before the world was made, to send him to save lost men; compare Revelation 17:8. Nothing can be clearer than that the phrase before must refer to a purpose that was formed before the world was made. it is not a temporary arrangement; it has not grown up under the influence of vacillating purposes; it is not a plan newly formed, or changed with each coming generation, or variable like the plans of people. It has all the importance, dignity, and assurances of stability which necessarily result from a purpose that has been eternal in the mind of God. If the plan was formed “before the foundation of the world,” it “was eternal.” God has no new plan, He forms no new schemes. He is not changing and vacillating. If we can ascertain what is the plan of God at any time, we can ascertain what his eternal plan was with reference to the event. It has always been the same – for “he is of one MinD, and who can turn him?” Job 23:13. In reference to the plans and purposes of the Most High, there is nothing better settled than that what he actually does, he always meant to do – which is the doctrine of eternal decrees – “and the whole of it.

    1. Richard, I hope I’m understanding you correctly, but I do not think anyone would disagree with you that God has eternally decreed certain things to come to pass. I think our disagreement with divine determinism/compatibilism would be the “how” God assures the decrees come to pass in time. We don’t think meticulous determinism is the only possibility.

      1. I would love to hear what and how you believe God brings them to come to pass? Isaiah 46:8–11 says,

        Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, 9 remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,” 11 calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it. Exegetically could you expound on this text?

      2. Richard,
        There is not much to exegete out of this (unless you out run the text!).

        There is no one like God. He fulfills His purposes. He will do what He says He will do (unless He changes His mind: see Jeremiah 18,19 and Jonah 3).

        But to say that God will do what He wants is entirely different than saying all that happens is what God wants.

  22. fromoverhere- He will DO what he says he will DO unless he changes his mind?? Theres a Stark Difference between Didactic text of scripture and a Anthromoorphic Language Text.
    Malachi 3:6 declares, “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”James 1:17 tells us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and not fulfill?”
    God never changes his being and character this does not mean that he is static, paralyzed, or he dosent and cannot act.The Bible uses human ways to speak about God, the technical term for which is Anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphic language represents God’s unchanging attributes in the changing circumstances and different moral conditions of His creatures. For example, the Bible speaks of the “arm of God” (Deuteronomy 5:15) with respect to His power while Psalm 50:10 says, “[God] owns the cattle on a thousand hills.” Clearly this is metaphorical language. This language is perfectly useful to describe God’s activity among us; but when the Bible uses human language to describe God, particularly in the narrative sections of Scripture, the didactic portions of the Scripture give us the corrective explanation or else you have strong misinterpretations. So all the scriptures on God changing his mind relating to Jeremiah, Jonah:3, Exodus 32:14 Amos 7:3 ,God relented in his judgement to ninevah that means he changed his mind haha. Do we really think that if we say to God, “Well, I know you’re planning to do this, but have you considered this . . . ?” that God is going to change His plans based on the wisdom we provide Him?? God knows everything, has made the means and providentially uses the means to bring about his plans!
    Unless of course you hold to Open theism and you suspect God’s just rolling the dice or once the sun comes up tomorrow God is watching and planning adjusting what he does in reaction to future events!

    1. And yes there is a difference in God doing what he wants and everything that happens being what God wants! I don’t recall I ever stated that in any of the comments I made.

      1. The Bible treats the will of God as his absolute sovereign decree by which he plans everything and sees to it that everything he plans comes to pass. And sometimes the Bible treats the Will of God as something that he commands, but which in fact does not always come to pass.Lamentations 3:32–33. Jeremiah is talking, and he’s describing the sufferings of Jerusalem under siege — horrible suffering. This is what he says: “Though he [the Lord] cause grief,he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” Here’s the amazing statement: “For he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” In other words, God is causing the grief, and it is not coming from his heart. Very interesting,God decrees that certain things happen that in some sense are not from his heart. That is, it is not his desire, which is a picture of the same divine dynamics in 1 Timothy 2:4.

      2. My point is simple.

        I assumed from your statements that you hold to the Calvinist definition of sovereignty…. determinism. God planned everything. If you dont, my mistake.

        I have simply proposed on these pages that God does what He plans and what is the counsel of His will.

        But not everything that happens is what God plans (Calvinism, Piper, James White) ….. even heinous sins.

        My point —-and we see it hundreds of times in Scripture— is that God does not always get what He wants.

    2. Richard,
      You said “ha ha” …. “Do we really think that if we say to God…”

      He say that very thing many time in many ways…. here’s one. No anthropomorphism here….

      Jer 18:7 If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, 8 and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. 9 And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

    3. Richard:
      “If my people will …then I will..” (hundreds of time).

      Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (many if/then formulas like this throughout Scripture).

      Jerusalem, Jerusalem…. I would have gathered you….but you would not. (Jesus wanted it….. they didnt do it).

      If you come to the text insisting that God be a certain way, you will make these hundreds of examples “special” or “anthropomorphisms”…. but that is just starting with the answer and not listening to the text.

      Otherwise…..why did God that “if you….I will, but if you dont….I wont” —–hundreds and hundreds of time? Just to confuse us?

      Or just to have us say “He doesnt really mean that!”

      1. My point is simple as well-

        Gods Decreed will is determined and he does always get what he wants in that! Why else would he decree it?

        His Will of Command i agree with you he dosent always get what he wants!

        In regards to the Jeremiah passage i would just ask you honestly consider that interpertation and what that implies to everything if God can change his mind,character, ect.

        Then this- If my people will …then I will..” (hundreds of time).
        Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (many if/then formulas like this throughout Scripture). Thats kind of broad in my opinion . You cant confuse a promise with a principle. Promises are always fulfilled 100 percent of the time. Principles state general truths. The book of Proverbs is often mistaken for a book of promises, when in fact it is a book of principles.The principle of “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6) is generally true and wise to heed. But it is not a guarantee that every child raised with godly instruction will become a believer in Jesus. We often apply a promise to ourselves before considering its original audience or its historical, cultural, or textual context. In some cases, a promise was made to a specific person for a specific reason and has no further application beyond its immediate context.
        These are all pitfalls we can do.Overlooking the “if.” ,Choosing a promise selectively,Using a promise manipulatively. Sometimes we employ a verse as a promise because we want God to act a certain way. Probably the most abused passage in this category is “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them” (Matt. 18:20). Not only do we use it out of context, we also use it to try to coerce God into doing what we ask simply because we have gathered the requisite number of people to ask it. God’s promises to us should help us submit to his will, not bend him to ours. Limiting a promise to your own understanding. Even when we rightly recognize a promise as intended for us, we often impose our own understanding of exactly how it will be fulfilled. Or we are tempted to impose our own timeline on its fulfillment. Yes, God does have a plan to prosper you and not to harm you (Jer. 29:11), but as in the case of the people to whom those words were originally written, that “you” is more likely a collective reference to the body of believers, and that plan may play out across centuries in ways we can’t possibly predict. To recognize this intent does not diminish the beauty of the promise at all.

        But anyways if you go back to my original comments/interaction with Eric Kemp and you my main point is there are certain things that are decreed and yes i would say other things are compatible in the sense God uses our “will of volition” ability to make choices in his providence. One of the greatest examples of Gods soverignty mans responsibility was the cross. Acts 2:23 –
        “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.” Acts 4:27-28
        “for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” This is just one example i could provide many more they are responsible yet it was all in Gods plan! My main point with the lambs book of life is im sorry but i believe the bible clearly teaches God has an elect people which he predetermined before the world began and that is part of his decreed will when i take the whole of scripture.

      2. Richard:

        First of all I am a former Calvinist so I “get” (and no longer believe) the standard Acts 2 gotcha verses (used every time) to prove that man did it but God did it.

        Second, you are using the man-invented will of volition, will of decree, will of command philosophy that are man-made and are mentioned nowhere in Scripture. These terms are all just brought to the text.

        Third. Proverbs? What I did not mentioned Proverbs. I am talking about the hundreds of times in many, many books where God says that He would do X if man would do Y….or the reverse…He would not do X if man would not do Y. This is God speaking and laying down some clear conditional terms.

        Fourth and most importantly ….you ask…..

        ” i would just ask you honestly consider that interpertation and what that implies to everything if God can change his mind,character, ect.”

        What do you mean? What does it imply? God says he might change His plan and He is God. What are you saying? He can’t do that? He is deceiving us in the text (saying He could change His plan—-but the plans are decreed and set)?

        Why must He be the way Greek philosophers (and you) say He must be?

  23. I am very impressed with the many posts on the subject of Arminianism and reform or (calvinism) I wouldn’t have enough smarts to enter the debate. I am a reform and cessationist ( Calvinist doctrinally). TULIP I was a Charismatic at one point for about 23 years. Today after 2 years of listening and learning, I have never in my life had the joy and freedom that only Christ can bring. I’m 74 yrs old now and understand scripture more clearly than ever in my life. Thanks to people like John Macarthur, James White, Phil Johnson and the like. This Troy fellow on this debate has impressive knowledge, as well as some of the other Christian brothers. May our Lord Bless you one and all.

    1. No hard feelings here but like i said i can show you tons of scripture on gods soverignty mans responsibility that one is a good picture of it thats all. Hoe about Isaiah 10 were God uses Assyria to Bring judgement on a nation 7, “Yet it [Assyria] does not so intend, nor does it plan so in its heart.” For he has said, ‘By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this’” (vv. 12–13) Man invented?? I love how everyone say “calvanist” is john calvins man made religion.. its what the bible teaches ! That would make God a liar thats why..Better call Paul, Jesus, most biblical authors man made doctrine ! Anyways God bless you Yes those men are some of the best bible expositors and teachers u !

  24. Did it get changed back to “from” in the ESV? I just checked on a few websites (biblegateway, blueletterbible) and it says “from” instead of “before.”

  25. Troy: “God MUST give us the faith to believe and then persevere to the end.” Help me here Please, if God MUST give us the faith to believe, what do we do with that faith He gives us? If we “use” it to believe, is that a “work” on our part, since we cannot do ANYTHING at all to please God? Does God end up believing for us? Is it possible that ‘faith/belief” in Christ AFTER hearing the Gospel is ONE action that is not considered a “work” by God…like Abraham, whose faith with counted as righteousness???? Thanks for an enlightening discussion. Selah!

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