Prevenient Grace: An Arminian Error

Why I Prefer Not To Be Called An Arminian:

I’ve often told people that I am not an Arminian, but that is not because I dislike Arminians; nor is it because we disagree over that many issues. In fact, Traditional Southern Baptists (Provisionists), like myself, agree with much of what many good Arminian brothers teach. But, there are several differences I have with my Arminian friends that should be noted. For instance, some classical Arminians have various views on the doctrine of eternal security and apostasy, which we address elsewhere.

Also, some Arminians teach the “foresight faith view” in order to explain God’s eternal plan of election. When I was a young Calvinist, I had been lead to believe the only real alternative to Calvinism was this seemingly strange concept of God “looking through the corridors of time to elect those He foresees would choose Him.” Notable Calvinistic teachers almost always paint all non-Calvinistic scholars as holding to this perspective. Once I realized other scholarly views were available, I became more open to consider them objectively.

I found a much more robust and theologically sound systematic in what is called “The Corporate View of Election,” which so happened to be the most popular view among the biblical scholars of my own denomination (Southern Baptists). Therefore, I have come to affirm the unified declaration of the author’s in the book titled Whosoever Will:

“We are neither Calvinists nor Arminians; we are Baptists!”

Even among Traditional Baptists, there exists various nuances over the nature of fallen humanity in response to God’s revelation. However, the Traditional statement, signed by many notable Traditional scholars, clearly denounces the concept of “Total Inability,” a view maintained by all Calvinists and many classical Arminian scholars.

“Total Inability” is the belief that all humanity is born incapable of willingly coming to Christ for salvation even in light of the Holy Spirit wrought truth of the Gospel, unless God graciously works to empower the will of lost man (effectually by way of regeneration for the Calvinist, and sufficiently by way of “prevenient grace” for the Arminian). Traditionalists simply do not accept the unfounded presumption that the libertarian freedom of man’s will was lost due to the Fall. As article two of the Traditional statement says,

“We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned.”

Notable Arminian scholar, Roger Olson, critiqued the Southern Baptist Traditional statement by calling it “Semi-Pelagian,” and I would like to respond to that charge here.

A Cordial Response To Dr. Roger Olson

I have much respect for the scholarship and work of Dr. Olson. I have used his resources many times in my own studies and find him to be a thoughtful and thoroughly biblical scholar in all respects. He unashamedly wears the label “Arminian” and defends his views as well as I have ever seen. However, I do have a small bone to pick with his teaching on “Prevenient Grace.” Dr. Olson clearly explains this perspective:

“Prevenient grace” is simply a term for the grace of God that goes before, prepares the way, enables, assists the sinner’s repentance and faith (conversion). According to classical Calvinism this prevenient grace is always efficacious and given only to the elect through the gospel; it effects conversion. According to classical Arminianism it is an operation of the Holy Spirit that frees the sinner’s will from bondage to sin and convicts, calls, illumines and enables the sinner to respond to the gospel call with repentance and faith (conversion). Calvinists and Arminians agree, against Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism, that the sinner’s will is so depraved and bound to sin that it cannot respond positively to the gospel call without supernatural grace. [LINK]

Notice that Dr. Olson frames the discussion in such a way as to set up “supernatural grace” as separate from “the gospel call,” as if the “graciously prevenient” work of God cannot actually be the work of the gospel itself. If I had the opportunity to press Olson on this point I would have to ask if he thinks the inspiration and preservation of our scriptures is a supernatural and gracious work of God or not. If it is, then the entire Arminian premise appears to be flawed.

What must be noted is that the gospel itself meets EVERY needed characteristic of this so-called “prevenient grace.” Using Dr. Olson’s own definition: The gospel goes before, prepares the way, enables and assists the sinner’s repentance and faith (Romans 10:14-17).

The gospel is inspired, written, carried, proclaimed and preserved by the direct activity of the Holy Spirit Himself. What more must He personally do to enable the lost who hear it to respond to it? Does God’s grace really need more grace to work? If so, where is that principle clearly laid out in the scripture?

In another article, Dr. Olson specifically addresses the “Traditional Statement” produced by many respected theologians associated with the SBC. The statement, according to Dr. Olson’s own article, reads as follows:

Article Two: The Sinfulness of Man

We affirm that, because of the fall of Adam, every person inherits a nature and environment inclined toward sin and that every person who is capable of moral action will sin. Each person’s sin alone brings the wrath of a holy God, broken fellowship with Him, ever-worsening selfishness and destructiveness, death, and condemnation to an eternity in hell.

We deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will or rendered any person guilty before he has personally sinned. While no sinner is remotely capable of achieving salvation through his own effort, we deny that any sinner is saved apart from a free response to the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.

Genesis 3:15-24; 6:5; Deuteronomy 1:39; Isaiah 6:5, 7:15-16;53:6; Jeremiah 17:5,9, 31:29-30; Ezekiel 18:19-20; Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18, 5:12, 6:23; 7:9; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 6:9-10;15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27-28; Revelation 20:11-15” (italics added)

This article seems to support the perspective I expounded upon above to which Dr. Olson takes to task by stating:

A classical Arminian would never deny that Adam’s sin resulted in the incapacitation of any person’s free will. Classical Arminianism (as I have demonstrated in Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities) strongly affirms the bondage of the will to sin before and apart from prevenient grace’s liberating work. Now, perhaps this is the point of the statement’s mention of “the Holy Spirit’s drawing through the Gospel.” But that, too, can be interpreted in a semi-Pelagian way.

Dr. Olson makes the same fundamental error of our Calvinistic brethren by assuming one’s bondage to sin equals a moral incapacity to humble himself and confess this bondage in light of the truth plainly made known by the gospel. As far as I can tell, this is never taught in scripture but is merely theological baggage presumed upon the text.

In contrast to Olson, I would contend that it is by the means of the Holy Spirit inspired gospel that God directly works within man’s hearts prior to their acceptance and/or rejection of the appeal made by that gospel. In fact, I believe that is what the scripture is contending when it says:

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

This penetrating work into the “soul and spirit” sounds like the work of “prevenient grace” described by my Arminian brethren, yet the author of Hebrews simply refers to “the word of God” as accomplishing this work, not some extra working of grace that aids the otherwise incapacitated nature of fallen man.

Here are other passages that seem to teach that the scriptures, God’s inspired words, are sufficient even for the lost:

“…you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:15-16).

And

“Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

And

“The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life” (John 6:63)

The Early Church Fathers likewise seemed to agree with this understanding:

Athanasius wrote, “The Holy Scriptures, given by inspiration of God, are of themselves sufficient toward the discovery of truth.”

Irenaeus, (130-202) wrote, “We have known the method of our salvation by no other means than those by whom the gospel came to us; which gospel they truly preached; but afterward, by the will of God, they delivered to us in the Scriptures, to be for the future the foundation and pillar of our faith,” (Adv. H. 3:1)

Olson continues to make his case by stating:

“Semi-Pelagians such as Philip Limborch and (at least in some of his writings) Charles Finney affirmed the necessity of the gospel and the Holy Spirit’s enlightening work through it for salvation. What made them semi-Pelagian was their denial or neglect of the divine initiative in salvation (except the gospel message).”

EXCEPT THE GOSPEL MESSAGE?!? That is kind of a huge exception to leave hanging there in a parenthetical afterthought. It is the GOSPEL–the “power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16)–the very appeal of Christ Himself for all to be reconciled from the fall (2 Cor. 5:20). Can we…or should we “EXCEPT it” from being “the divine initiative in salvation” without very clear biblical cause? Olson continues:

The problem with this Southern Baptist statement is its neglect of emphasis on the necessity of the prevenience of supernatural grace for the exercise of a good will toward God (including acceptance of the gospel by faith). If the authors believe in that cardinal biblical truth, they need to spell it out more clearly.

It seems only to be unclear to one who presumes that an additional work of supernatural grace is needed above that which is accomplished by the gospel itself, which begs the question of our disagreement:

Is another work of divine grace, besides that which the gospel accomplishes, needed to enable the lost to respond?

Show me in the Bible where such additional grace is said to be needed and I’ll be the first to recant my perspective on this. But, we must be careful in this discussion not to misapply texts having to do with God purposefully and judicially blinding the truth of the gospel from large numbers of Israelites due to their own rebellion. Dr. Olson certainly would not want to make the same hermeneutical mistake as the Calvinist on this point. Dr. Olson continues:

And they need to delete the sentence that denies the incapacitation of free will due to Adam’s sin. Leaving the statement as it stands, without a clear affirmation of the bondage of the will to sin apart from supernatural grace, inevitably hands the Calvinists ammunition to use against non-Calvinist Baptists.

With all due respect to Dr. Olson (and I really mean that when I say it), but the classical Arminians are strange bed-fellows with the Calvinists when it comes to their individualizing of the text and this particular error of separating the grace from its means. God’s gracious means to enable faith IS the Gospel. The TRUTH will set you free (John 8:32). The very words that Christ spoke and gave us to proclaim are “spirit and life” (John 6:63). Faith comes by hearing God’s gospel truth (Romans 10:14), and we will be judged by the very words of Christ (John 12:48). Dr. Olson continues:

It doesn’t matter what “most Baptists” believe or what is the “traditional Southern Baptist understanding.” For a long time I’ve been stating that most American Christians, including most Baptists, are semi-Pelagian, not Arminian and not merely non-Calvinist.

Likewise, it does not matter what classical Arminians believe or how ancient councils have framed this discussion. It is never right to label and dismiss people with manmade Catholic titles of heresy, especially when we all deny the heretical component of that original doctrine (i.e the denial of the sin nature and our need for a Savior from conception).

I would love to set aside the Pelagian boogeyman labels for a time and have a biblical conversation about any passage which Dr. Olson believes supports the unfounded idea that fallen humanity are born in such a condition that they cannot willingly respond to God’s own Holy Spirit inspired appeals to be reconciled from the Fall. It seems to me that God’s gospel appeals, in and of themselves, would be sufficient to do what He means for them to do. John 20:31 clearly lays out what his inspired words are meant to do:

“…these [scriptures] have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Must we muddy the waters by suggesting that God, at some unknown point in the life of everyone, has to move in some other gracious way to enable all people to respond to the already gracious, powerful, Holy Spirit wrought truth of the gospel? What text necessitates such complex theological explanations? Why create a redundant theological term when the biblical word is more than sufficient? The GOSPEL is God’s enabling grace and the ONLY reason some do not have “ears to hear” is if they have become blinded or calloused against it because they have continually closed their eyes to the truth (John 12:39-41; Acts 28:23-28). There is nothing in scripture, as far as I can tell, which suggests men are born in such condition that would prevent them from responding to “the double edge sword” of the Holy Spirit’s soul piercing gospel truth (Heb. 4:12).

Olson writes:

Calvinists and Arminians stand together, with Scripture, against semi-Pelagianism. (Romans 3:11 and 1 Corinthians 4:7 to name just two passages.)

Regarding Romans 3:11, the teaching that “no one seeks God,” does not prove that no one can respond to God’s gracious means to seek and save us (i.e. through the gospel appeal). And the context of the 1 Corinthians 4:7 passage ironically warns us against saying you are of Paul or Apollos (i.e. of Calvin or Arminius) because “what do you have that you were not given?” How that supports the concept that the gospel itself is not a sufficient work of supernatural enabling grace is beyond me. In a follow up comment, Dr. Olson gives this less than helpful “litmus test” to determine if one falls into the heretic category:

The litmus test is this: Do you believe the initiative in salvation (speaking here of the individual’s salvation) is God’s or the human person’s? Can a sinner exercise a good will toward God apart from special assisting grace? If the answer to the first question is “God’s” and to the second is “no,” then I will count you an Arminian, not a semi-Pelagian.

Of course I believe God takes the initiative in salvation. He takes the initiative by sending the Law, His Son, the Spirit, the apostles, the Scriptures, and His Bride filled with Holy Spirit filled messengers to carry his powerful gospel appeal to every living creature. So, would I pass his first test question?

To Olson’s second inquiry, I would quickly say “no, a sinner cannot exercise faith apart from hearing the gracious truth of the gospel appeal.” Faith does come by hearing, after all. How will they believe in one whom they have not heard (Rom. 10)? So, would I pass his second test question, or can we assume the good doctor forgot his parenthetical exception of “the gracious gospel truth” leaving me to fail his heretical litmus test?

Means Mean Something:

Both Arminians and Traditionalists believe the Holy Spirit is personally working to enable the lost to come to faith so as to be saved.  We disagree as to the MEANS by which the Holy Spirit does this.

For instance, one Arminian friend of mine said to me, “In my mind even the thought experiment of whether the gospel is sufficient without the personal work of the Holy Spirit makes no sense…” I agree with him, that does not make any sense. 

Do you see the clear contrast between the Arminian and myself on this point? The Arminian thinks I believe “the gospel is sufficient without the personal work of the Holy Spirit,” whereas I actually believe, “the gospel is sufficient BECAUSE it is the personal work of the Holy Spirit.”

Should we ever conclude that God’s words, graciously inspired by His Spirit, are somehow insufficient to lead anyone who hears them to faith and repentance?

Need there be some kind of extra grace that makes the grace of the gospel powerful enough to lead one to salvation? I see no convincing evidence of this need in scripture, do you? If you do see it, is that because God has granted you a grace which makes you more capable of seeing truths revealed in scripture that He has kept from me and other believers? Or could it simply be that we all have the same gracious revelation and any errors of interpretation or suppressing of its truth is due only to our own free choices?

I suspect that much of the dispute within in the church over the centuries would not have been necessary if we simply dropped this unfounded presupposition that God’s gracious work needs more grace to work.

436 thoughts on “Prevenient Grace: An Arminian Error

  1. Could prevenient grace be that grace from God which has always been there from the beginning for all human beings in the form of God-given reason, freedom to choose between right and wrong, provision of law or moral truths and later gospel, and provision of spirit that empowers those who seek God? Not my idea; saw somebody else comment about it somewhere and found it persuasive.

    1. Scott Williams asks, “Could prevenient grace be…God-given reason, freedom to choose between right and wrong, provision of law or moral truths and later gospel, and provision of spirit that empowers those who seek God?”

      That’s fine. Now answer the question Calvinists ask, “How do you explain people rejecting salvation under those conditions?”

  2. Excellent article. I could not agree more.

    Romans 1:16 is the summation of this biblical trruth. The gospel IS the power of God! Requiring “prevenient grace” or “regeneration” as a means of Salvation effectively adds to the gospel and says the gospel IS NOT the power of God.

    Why would scriptures declare the power of the gospel if it was insufficient? Why would God not reveal his whole truth if more was required?

    I see A&C both upholding the satanic modus operandi in that God says one thing, but means something else. Satan is still deceiving as an angel of light.

    1. Welcome Steve.

      You are right. It’s like when the Philippian jailer asks “what must I do to be saved?” (first of all —-that was very shrewd of a “dead man” to ask that!!!).

      Then the answer—even in the ESV …. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved….”

      Paul does not say, “Well…. we have a Gospel… but we need to add regeneration or a special kind of grace to it first. Just hold that thought.”

      1. The Philippian jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
        “So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
        – Acts 16: 30b-31

        This is a prime example of a straightforward statement of salvation being predicated on voluntary, individual belief in the living ‘Word’, Jesus Christ, with no disclaimers or limitations.

        Were Calvinism true, and only a limited and preselected subset of humanity chosen and irresistibly decreed to be saved, one might expect such a ‘truth’ to here be spelled out. To do otherwise, if such things were the Gospel of salvation, would be, for Paul, God’s chosen servant, to be dishonest.

        Yet, how does Paul respond to the simple, heartfelt question, ‘What must I do to be saved?’ Does he set forth the Calvinistic Doctrines of Grace, in their five, mutually dependent components?

        No, he does not, but simply responds, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . .’

        Such an answer would not only be misleading but outright deceptive if the truth of the matter is that no man actually CAN believe unless they are a part of that secret subset chosen by God.

        No Calvinist that I know of claims to know who is and isn’t ‘chosen’. Nowhere in his writings does Paul even mention the secretive, arbitrary, irresistible ‘election’ and ‘regeneration’ of Calvinism, so we can safely state that he never claimed to know who made up this secretive, elite group. So we can rule out the possibility that Paul knew the jailer was ‘elect’ thus did not see the need to spell out the entire process. The jailer had been terrified and stunned at the events that had just taken place, almost taking his own life until he was stopped by Paul. But nowhere is it suggested that some sort of secretive, unsought supernatural regenerating act had been performed on him by God. Without doubt, scripture could have recounted such an act had it occurred. Indeed, were this the way God truly works, why would it not be spelled out? It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

        If God intends for people to understand the Calvinistic gospel, and in order to be honest, (were Calvinism true), Paul would have to respond something to the effect of:

        “Do? There is nothing you can ‘do’ to be saved. God sovereignly chose, in eternity past, those who he determined to set his love upon and irresistibly bring to himself. As this is a limited, arbitrary group, the names of which none but God knows, all you can do is wait and see if you are irresistibly drawn to him by his supernatural intervention. Perhaps this earthquake was designed for just such an event in your life.”

        Of course, the jailer would most likely respond to such an answer with, ‘Huh?’

        To which Paul might respond, ‘You see, all men, yourself included, are Totally Depraved, unable and unwilling to hear, respond and come to God for salvation. I myself was totally dead until God blinded me on the road to Damascus and regenerated me. Those who are a part of the elite selected club called ‘the elect’, like me and those with me, must at some point be supernaturally changed by God, which we call regeneration. When this happens, as it inevitably does to all who are ‘elect’, the individual will be transformed, made new and be given the ability to believe in Jesus and eternal salvation as a gift of God. All you can do is wait and see if this happens to you.’

        The jailer, who quite contrary to Calvinism appears to desire to receive salvation, might be a bit discouraged. He might, out of love for his family, express sorrow that he could not promise them any assurance of salvation either, as all must wait and see if they are supernaturally regenerated and ‘given’ faith to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

        Anyone who suggests this is actually what takes place in Acts 16 is either greatly inventive or a liar. Indeed, no such teachings be found anywhere in scripture. Amazingly, the most important, significant event in all of human existence is never actually properly spelled out, according to Calvinism, but must be pieced together from various widespread snippets of information, an interpretation rejected by all early church leaders until forced upon Geneva by John Calvin in the sixteenth century.

        Instead, we are consistently led by scripture to believe that we are able to make a free, voluntary choice to believe in Jesus, or to not believe in Jesus. Nowhere do any of the disciples state that ‘You must believe, but you can’t, so wait and see if you will be regenerated so that you CAN believe. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you, a totally depraved, undeserving worm can actually, by your own choice and in your own power, believe in God. It is all God’s choice and entirely God’s doing, so there is no need for you to imagine anything contrary. In fact, it is silly of you to pretend as if you desire to be saved, as no one, apart from regeneration can desire, seek or find God.’

        Such assertions we find nowhere in scripture, ever, but only in the ramblings of false teachers who claim to be men of God infused with special insight to deliver to mankind.

      2. TS00,
        You have pointed this out several times in a clearly worded way.

        What is even worse for Calvinists along this line can be demonstrated this way:

        These past holidays we attended the moving-toward-Calvinism church where my daughter is on staff. The pastor who claims to be a Calvinist said clearly at all three services: “Christ is calling every person in this room to follow Him.” “We want everyone who is here to clearly hear our message that Christ died for you.”

        Well…. now…. that is a very conflicted Calvinist —-but he’s certainly not alone!!!

        Only the hard core Calvinists tell people “Do not tell everyone that Christ loves them! It is just not true!”

        Most (almost all) Calvinists want to naively go along claiming to be “Calvinists” while at that same time telling everyone they meet (or in this case a room of a thousand) that Christ died for all of them.

        That is just NOT Calvinism. The whole idea of the Calvinist L (Limited Atonement) is that Christ did NOT die for most people.

      3. FOH writes, “The pastor who claims to be a Calvinist said clearly at all three services: “Christ is calling every person in this room to follow Him.” “We want everyone who is here to clearly hear our message that Christ died for you.”

        1. The Pastor should have said, ““Christ is commanding every person in this room to follow Him.

        2. The Pastor should have clarified context, “We want everyone, no matter the color of your skin, your nationality, your economic situation, your sin, etc who is here to clearly hear our message that Christ died for sinners.” Jesus said, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Paul said, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

      4. rh writes:

        “2. The Pastor should have clarified context, “We want everyone, no matter the color of your skin, your nationality, your economic situation, your sin, etc who is here to clearly hear our message that Christ died for sinners.” Jesus said, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Paul said, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

        And what a distorted mess he makes of scripture. What does color of skin, nationality, etc. have to do with the fact that no one but a select, predetermined few can hear the message that Christ died for them – because he didn’t die for most. Under Calvinism, he did not come to call the righteous but SOME select few sinners, to repentance. The faithful saying of Calvinists is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save SOME select few sinners.

        Why not preach what you believe? Why not come right out and say that many are [deceptively] called, but only a predetermined few can really come? Why not acknowledge upfront that God does not love all, does not desire to save all, Jesus did not die that all may be saved, and that the Calvinist gospel is completely different from what the average Christian has heard and believes?

        Rarely will one hear such clear, non-deceptive teaching from Calvinists. So proud of their theology, but too ashamed to proclaim it honestly. Because no one would remain in their pews handing over their precious tithes, and we can’t have that, can we?

      5. TSoo writes, “Under Calvinism, he did not come to call the righteous but SOME select few sinners, to repentance. The faithful saying of Calvinists is that Christ Jesus came into the world to save SOME select few sinners. ”

        Of course, TS00 believes that all will be saved. I wish it were true.

      6. False accusation, and you know it. TS00 believes God’s statements that he desires none to perish, and wills that all would turn from wickedness and live. And of course, all of scripture sets forth this stated desire, along with the conditions set forth by which anyone can be redeemed and restored to relationship with him. Because he not only desires, but provides the means by which anyone can be saved. “What must [we] do to be saved?” according to Acts 16? You know the answer: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved . . .” This is no new concept. Calvinists know
        full well that the vast majority of non-Calvinists are not Universalists, so it is obtuse and deceptive to pretend otherwise. In Calvinism, there are no conditions, just God’s determinitive decrees that SOME be saved and the rest have absolutely no opportunity of being saved. Rather a different picture than what you falsely paint of my beliefs.

      7. TS00 writes, “Because he not only desires, but provides the means by which anyone can be saved.”

        This is basically what the Calvinist says, except that Calvinism recognizes that God does not provide the means by which everyone can be saved; a conclusion with which you seem to agree when you start out your comment, “False accusation, and you know it.” God necessarily must provide the means for anyone to be saved – Christ’s death for sin, regeneration and faith – or else none could be saved. Thus, you are correct when you say, “In Calvinism, there are no conditions, just God’s determinitive decrees that SOME be saved and the rest have absolutely no opportunity of being saved.” So, how is your belief any different than this? If a person is not saved it can only be because an omnipotent God did not do that which was required to save the person.

      8. rh writes:
        ” If a person is not saved it can only be because an omnipotent God did not do that which was required to save the person.”

        That, sir, is blasphemy, and the very reason I speak out against Calvinism. I pray for your soul.

      9. TS00,
        I just wrote about the conflicted Calvinist who says that Christ died for everyone.

        If you would like to see how a Calvinist can spend a whole message saying nothing at all….have a look at Piper’s message

        “In what way did Christ die for the non-elect?”

        https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/in-what-sense-did-christ-die-for-the-non-elect

        It says nothing…. but sounds sweet. At one point he says….

        “Now, we’ll come back to this in just a moment to answer the question “For what tangible reason did Christ die for the non-elect?”

        But he doesnt. He never does. He just says tell everyone to repent….but never, ever makes any connection to the title of the message or the promised connection to a tangible reason.

      10. This sort of confused Calvinist (see Dr. Flowers’s most recent post on nominal Calvinists) is very common, even among pastors. When we left our former Calvinist church and were in the process of moving, we visited a great many churches, most of which claimed to be Reformed. I could not believe the conflicted statements I heard week after week, like the one in which the pastor, urging his people to believe that prayer was important and effectual, stated:

        “This might surprise you all, but I want you to know that all things are not set in stone, and prayer actually matters.”

        It sure as heck surprised me, because he claimed to adhere to the Westminster Confession and the teaching that God has ordained, in eternity past, whatsoever will come to pass. There is nothing that will happen that any amount of praying or not praying could possibly change. But very, very few people actually have a consistent understanding and living out of what Calvinism demands. It is simply unlivable, as you have often pointed out.

        No one would pray, simply because God commands them to, if they thought it did not make a whit of difference. I know some will say the difference it makes is within the one who prays, but that is not actually what scripture suggests, IMO. Nor do I believe many could stand the meaninglessness and fatalism which consistent Calvinistic thinking would lead to. So most compartmentalize and do not really think consistently as their systematic would, of followed, dictate.

      11. TS00 writes, “This is a prime example of a straightforward statement of salvation being predicated on voluntary, individual belief in the living ‘Word’, Jesus Christ, with no disclaimers or limitations.”

        And that must be why TS00 believes that everyone who hears a straightforward statement of salvation is saved. Good for him.

      12. FOH writes, “You are right. It’s like when the Philippian jailer asks “what must I do to be saved?” (first of all —-that was very shrewd of a “dead man” to ask that!!!).”

        Or it is the natural question for one to ask if he has been regenerated.

    2. Another interesting thing that Paul tells the Philippian jailer….

      “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

      He tells him that the offer is good for his household too (and they did not “get regenerated” yet to ask!).

      1. FOH writes, “He tells him that the offer is good for his household too (and they did not “get regenerated” yet to ask!).”

        But could they also believe without first being regenerated?

      2. I do not think their was an offer there at all the way I read it FOH.

        It was an assertion of certainty from the Apostle Paul that Scriptures bear witness to the fact that it did happen.

        Acts 16: 31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

        32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

        33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.

        34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

        I know you equate salvation with regeneration so even by your own belief they were regenerated. If I am understanding this conversation correctly.

        It was of the Lord’s doing adding to the church daily those who were being saved.

        Acts 2:47 -praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

        Apologize if I have misunderstood you. I probably have jumping in on just one reply and not following along with the whole conversation. Although I do not think you would refute what I have said above.

        Blessings

    3. Steve Johnson writes, “Romans 1:16 is the summation of this biblical truth. The gospel IS the power of God! Requiring “prevenient grace” or “regeneration” as a means of Salvation effectively adds to the gospel and says the gospel IS NOT the power of God. ”

      Add 1 Corinthians 1, “the message of the cross is…to us who are being saved it is the power of God…we preach Christ crucified…to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” The gospel is the means God uses to regenerate a spiritually dead person and the means God uses to convey to the regenerated person assurance and conviction in Christ.

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