Prevenient Grace: Is this a minor point?

I recently had Dr. Roger Olson, of Truett Seminary, on the program to discuss his work on soteriology and some of our theological differences, which you can watch here.


Dr. Olson is a scholar I have admired from afar for quite some time and I felt our conversation was very fruitful despite some of our differences. Many of you who follow the blog and podcast are aware that I have taken issue with some of Dr. Olson’s views regarding mankind’s innate moral inability due to the fall and the subsequent need of prevenient grace to repair it, which you can read about here.

In his most recent blog article, Dr. Olson, without mentioning my name, cordially addressed our conversation and outlined the “gist” of our disagreement in this manner:

Here’s the “gist” of the issue that keeps coming up in these conversations. I argue that Arminius himself, and all faithful, classical, historical Arminians (among which I count myself) believe that prevenient grace (enabling, assisting grace that goes before conversion making it possible) is supernatural and a special work of the Holy Spirit freeing the will of the sinner which is otherwise bound to sin (unbelief). I have presented the alternatives as Calvinism (irresistible grace) and semi-Pelagianism (the initiative in salvation is human).

First, we all agree the initiative in salvation is God’s, not man’s. We disagree as to the means and sufficiency of God’s initiative. So, none of us meet Dr. Olson’s definition of “semi-Pelagianism.”

Second, the term “prevenient grace” probably needs to be defined in more specific terms so as to draw out the distinction between us, because I would argue that the gracious gospel (along with all of God’s self-revelatory means) would be considered “enabling” and an “assisting grace that goes before conversion.” I would also consider anything that the Holy Spirit does to ensure these means are brought to pass a “supernatural and a special work of the Holy Spirit.”

Inspiring, preserving and dispersing the gospel throughout the world by the Holy Spirit indwelled Bride of Christ is a “supernatural and special work of the Holy Spirit,” is it not? If it is, then the burden is on Dr. Olson, and other Arminians, to demonstrate that work in and of itself is insufficient to accomplish the purpose for which the Bible itself says it was sent to accomplish (John 20:31). And the Arminian must show us in scripture (not merely in the historical writings of Arminius) where it plainly says that an EXTRA or ADDITIONAL supernatural work of grace must accompany/precede the gracious revelation of the gospel appeal.

“Some argue that the gospel is not sufficient to enable the lost to believe without the work of the Holy Spirit. I argue the gospel is always sufficient to enable the lost to believe because IT IS a work of the Holy Spirit.”

Dr. Olson speaks of “a special work of the Holy Spirit freeing the will of the sinner which is otherwise bound to sin (unbelief).” Notice his presumption that “bondage to sin” is equal to being “unable to believe in God,” but where is that established in the Bible? It seems to me that Scripture calls those bound to sin to humbly confess their bondage in faith so as to be set free, not the other way around:

1 Peter 5:5-6: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” 

2 Kings 22:19: “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.” 

Zephaniah 2:3: Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Matthew 18:4: Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Luke 14:11: For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:14: “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Dr. Olson continues,

Apparently, from what I have been able to detect and understand, the “traditional Baptist, non-Calvinist” view is that the gospel itself naturally, without any supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, is all that a sinner needs to respond freely and positively and be converted. It seems to me that this view of prevenient grace as “only the gospel communicated” is insufficient to ward off semi-Pelagianism. I’m not going to label it as semi-Pelagian, but I worry that it is too close to that for comfort.

First, I should note that even among traditional Baptists there are those who would side with Dr. Olson on this point. I do not speak for all traditional Southern Baptists, just as Dr. Olson does not claim to speak for all from within his tribe.

Second, he says, “the gospel itself naturally, without any supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, is all that a sinner needs to respond freely and positively and be converted.” Notice the presumption of that statement. Dr. Olson seems to assume the gospel itself cannot be considered a “supernatural work of the Holy Spirit,” but the Bible seems to indicate otherwise:

“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. Do God’s gracious means really need more grace to work?

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).

“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)

Dr. Olson continues,

It seems to me that the Bible does teach that the sinner [is] incapable of responding to the offer of saving grace with repentance and faith without a supernatural work of God, the Holy Spirit, enabling him or her to do that. “Dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2) seems to imply that.

Again, the inspiration and sending of the gospel itself is set up as being something other than “a supernatural work of God” and I’m simply asking is that a biblical idea or one created by a faulty theological system?

Also, in our discussion, I did address the idiomatic use of deadness in the scriptures and have yet to see any indication that the biblical authors mean to suggest an innate moral incapacity to respond to God’s life-giving truth. That is discussed more in depth here.

Finally, Dr. Olson asks an important question:

How important is this difference? Is it a distinction without a difference? Are both really Arminians? Is the “Arminian umbrella” large enough to shelter both classical Arminians (who follow Arminius himself about supernatural prevenient grace) and non-Calvinist “traditional Baptists?” Sometimes it seems to me that if two Christians who seem to agree about something talk long enough they will inevitably find that they disagree about it on some point—however minor. But is this a minor point? I have to admit that sometimes it seems so to me and other times it seems major.

In my conversation with Dr. Olson, it certainly seemed that I considered the distinction more significant than he did, as he did not seem to want to “get into the weeds,” which is understandable. But, the reason I have written and spoken about our differences a number of times is that I do believe it is a point worthy of our consideration, whereas the Arminians I’ve encountered thus far seem to want to play down the differences or pretend they are unimportant. I’m happy to hear that Dr. Olson would like to further explore the importance of this distinction.

I could be mistaken, but it seemed to me that Dr. Olson’s views on this issue were more driven by tactical and historical motivations than biblical ones. When I would bring up the scriptural arguments he would either appeal to the necessity of avoiding the Calvinistic boogeyman label of semi-Pelagianism (a label created by Beza in the 16th century to silence dissenters), or the historical teaching of Arminius himself – neither of which have much influence on me. While there is value in understanding the historical debates over these matters, I consider it a weakness to allow the leftover baggage of 16th-century debates to keep us from seeking the original intention of the biblical authors in their first-century context. I suspect that Dr. Olson would agree with me in principle on this point, but will he demonstrate that by addressing our differences exegetically rather than just historically? I hope so.

78 thoughts on “Prevenient Grace: Is this a minor point?

  1. Wonderful Article – with your so consistent and logical process of – examining all things – Dr. Flowers!

    Dr. Olson writes:
    It seems to me that this view of prevenient grace as “only the gospel communicated” is insufficient to ward off semi-Pelagianism. I’m not going to label it as semi-Pelagian, but I worry that it is too close to that for comfort. ”

    br.d
    Too close for comfort – driven by what concern?

    From what I understand of the the history of Arminius – the reformed leaders of his day asserted every alternative as:

    – Presumed guilty of departing from Calvin – unless proven innocent.

    While they asserted Calvin as :

    – Presumed innocent of departing from the truth – unless proven guilty – while blinding themselves to any evidence.

    I wonder if Arminius’ concern was the need to defend himself from dishonest accusations.

    What Dr. Flower details in his article: THE BOOGIE MAN
    https://soteriology101.com/2018/02/11/pelagianism-the-boogie-man/

  2. I left a reply under Dr. Olson’s article. Here was my response:

    Thanks so much for your ministry Dr. Olson. You’ve really been a blessing to me! However, I must side with Dr. Leighton Flowers and the Provisionists (I’ve adopted the new nickname because I’m not a Baptist). I believe the Bible is clear that God has provided — by His grace — several forms of revelation so that no one has any excuse for unbelief. That’s especially true for the time we’re living in now when we have the outpouring and conviction of the Holy Spirit and the completed canon of Scripture.

    All of that revelation, including natural revelation, the written gospel, the spoken gospel through preachers, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, God-given conscience as image bearers, testimonies, etc., is sufficient to lead a person to cry out to God for mercy and humble themselves. That in itself isn’t meritorious whatsoever, but throughout the Bible everywhere God has mercy on those who cry out and humble themselves. They aren’t doing that all within themselves solely; they are merely responding to the means by which God has chosen to reveal Himself and call sinners to repentance. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where God must do a supernatural sprinkling first so that a person can then respond to the multiple means he’s already provided. That would be a double grace. Does God really need to provide a second grace to make his initial grace work? Also, as Dr. Flowers pointed out, the Arminian definition of prevenient grace seems to suggest that a person can still be in bondage and freed at the same time. I just don’t see that laid out in the Bible. That needs to be clearly laid out in Scripture for me to adopt it.

    I also believe that if you study the word “dead” all throughout the Bible, you’ll see that spiritual deadness does not mean dead like a corpse and is referring to separation and rebellion like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) and church in Sardis (Revelation 3) clearly indicate. Also, in Romans 6, does being dead to sin mean we are no longer capable of sinning? No. We are to be separate from sin. I also believe giving into the Calvinist definition of deadness is conceding a point to the Calvinist when it’s not needed.

    The Bible in Romans 1:16 specifically says the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. In John 20:31, John believes his written gospel (or of spoken by a preacher) is enough to bring a person to believe in Jesus and have life. In other parts of the New Testament, Jesus says a person will be judged by the words He has spoken. Studying the Bible in it’s entirety leads me to believe the Provisionist (Traditionalist) view is the most Biblically accurate. However, I do believe this is a minor issue because both Arminians and Traditionalists affirm that God acts first and that man can only respond to His call by whatever means He deems necessary. Semi-Pelagianism is not in the picture when Traditionalism is fully understood.

    One other thing to consider — the Old Testament. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, call sinners to repentance, and empower believers to be witnesses to the world didn’t occur until the New Covenant. So when the Spirit fell on some people for a time specifically to spread God’s message in the Old Covenant, did not the people that message was spoken to have the moral capability to believe or not believe and obey or not obey? Now, they could only respond after given that revelation. For the Arminian version of prevenient grace to be true in the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit would have to have acted in a New Covenant-type way long before that prophecy was fulfilled following Christ’s work on earth.

    1. Roger Olson says on his site that he will consider your argument brother. I praise God for a well thought out write up on your part.

      1. Amazing to hear & very encouraging thank you for that information. God is “recognizably” Good🌻

    2. Kenda….welcome here!

      I also have followed and appreciated Dr Olson over the years…. taking so much flak! I actually read about the up-coming Leighton interview on Dr Olson’s blog before I saw it here. And I also posted to him what Leighton makes so clear here….. The Gospel is sufficient! The Word of God is living and active!

      That is why we will study the Word with a non-believer for years….. and use the Word of God to persuade!! (Like Paul said)…. to reason with… (like Paul said).

      When all is said, I still consider Dr Olson a strong ally in the work of the Gospel.

    3. John 16:7-11 ESV
      7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, l will send him to you.
      8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:
      9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me;
      10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer;
      11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

      Is this not an example of prevenient grace? The Spirit being sent out to convict the whole world of sin?

  3. Arminius’ views were most definitely shaped by the tyrannical hold of John Calvin on the newly formed Protestant Church. The Pelagius bogeyman was one of the premier tools, demanding submission to the doctrine of Original Sin/Inability. This is why I could never consider myself Arminian – only one hair’s breath from Calvinism.

    I would assert that the ‘work’ of God which broke the bonds of sin and death was the death and resurrection of Jesus. When the curse of death provoked fear of both death and God, men were without hope and meaningful inventive to choose righteousness. What is the point of doing the hard thing if you are doomed anyway?

    Perhaps it is merely semantic, but my interpretation grants that the knowledge of the gospel – or the saving work of Jesus – is necessary, but not the ‘work’ itself. The actual saving act was the demonstration that death had been defeated, and that there was indeed hope for freedom from sin and life everlasting.

    Embracing Inability leaves Arminians mostly inadequate in their attempts to overcome the errors of Calvinism. Much as I disagree with it, Calvinism’s theology is more consistent with the concept of Inability, whereas Arminianism relies on the rather feeble, unscriptural concept of prevenient grace. I reject all concepts of Inability, other than the true inability of man to have any hope without the saving grace of God, demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

    To deny that any other magical, mystical supernatural event must occur to enable an individual to desire and seek God is not to deny that the Holy Spirit is active in every step of our salvation, but simply to reject the, frankly, grotesque concept of God having cursed men with an inability to seek and to find Him, which has always been God’s ultimate desire.

  4. Do you have a link where you deal with the contention that man in the flesh is hostile to God and is therefore unable submit to God (i.e. believe) while being in that “fleshly” state?

    1. Just search this site… you’ll find that discussed. Here’s my take –
      As for Rom 8:6-8

      6. τὸ γὰρ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς, θάνατος· τὸ δὲ φρόνημα τοῦ πνεύματος, ζωὴ καὶ εἰρήνη· —-[For the thinking of the flesh (is) death but the thinking of the Spirit (is) life and peace…]
      7. διότι τὸ φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς, ἔχθρα εἰς Θεόν· τῷ γὰρ νόμῳ τοῦ Θεοῦ οὐχ ὑποτάσσεται· οὐδὲ γὰρ δύναται. —-[wherefore the thinking of the flesh (is) an enmity towards God: for to the law of God it (the flesh) is not submitting, for not also it (the flesh) is able to.]
      8. Οἱ δὲ ἐν σαρκὶ ὄντες Θεῷ ἀρέσαι οὐ δύνανται. [and the ones being in flesh (unsaved), to satisfy (not the pleasure of, but the fulfillment of demanded perfection of) God, they are not able]

      Rom 8:6-8 is talking about the fact that any “thinking” that is initiated by the flesh cannot please/satisfy God in an everlasting way or earn His righteousness. That is true for those unsaved who are “in the flesh”, but also continues to be true after regeneration when believers do things their flesh “thinks” they should do. Thinking from the flesh even in the believer can never please/satisfy God.

      But responding with thinking from the human spirit to the enablement of the HS for that spirit to seek and eventually make a decision of trust, if one does not harden oneself against it, is what the Scripture teaches can/does happen even before regeneration. It is the Spirit who makes a foothold in the unregenerate human spirit and thereby is bypassing the carnal mind (flesh).

      That foothold does not please/satisfy God to earn His salvation, but it does create the opportunity, and thus the ability, of the human spirit to choose whether or not to humbly follow His drawing to the point of personal trust. If followed, then God fulfills His will and freely grants everlasting life in the new birth through that faith. Faith must be in place first for that saving grace to go through it.

      *******

      In this passage one might be confusing the word “please” (an emotional term) with the word “satisfy” (a term meaning fulfill requirements).

      Only Christ fulfills the requirements for our salvation. Our faith and repentance don’t satisfy God’s justice against sin… they only are responses to God’s offer to us of what satisfies/pleases Him. He gives to us that what has already satisfied Him though our faith.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this discussion with you and Dr. Olsen & it’s inspiring how you show graciousness toward those you don’t 100% agree with!!! I can comment solely on the discussion thus far, because I have not read the article yet. It seems Roger Olsen is a very thoughtful, respectful, & learned professor. But what stuck out most to me was his defense of Arminius and fear of being labeled semi pelagian. I did enjoy his defense of God’s Goodness in opposition to calvinism & the example we have in Jesus. I do admit I don’t know as much about arminianism as I do about calvinism, but previent grace seems to… in simple terms add to the Gospel…

    As you wrote in your book “God’s Provision For All” page 122
    ” The Gospel goes before, prepares the way, enables and assists the sinner’s repentance and faith. (see Romans 10:14-17)

  6. First, it should be noted that the reason Arminians embrace prevenient grace is because they adhere to another Calvinistic doctrine of Total Depravity/Total Inability. There’s the first problem. If you are going to embrace TD/TI, then you are forced to come up with a solution for it.

    Prevenient Grace (defined): In Arminianism and Wesleyanism, it is a grace that offsets the noetic effects of the Fall, restores man’s free will, and thus enables every person to choose to come to Christ or not.

    Second, it should be noted that the Arminian concept of “prevenient grace” is just as “irresistible” as the Calvinistic concept of “regeneration precedes faith”. Now our Arminian brothers, like Olson, might argue that all grace is resistible, but if one looks closely at the goal of prevenient grace, he would find it to be just as irresistible. The goal of prevenient grace is to put every person in a position where they can choose. Now the lost sinner might choose to accept or reject the gospel of Christ, but that is not the goal of prevenient grace. He is, however, still forced into a position to choose. Ironically, the sinner is forced into freedom (he has no say in the matter).

    Third. Just like its Calvinistic counterpart, there are no biblical examples to support prevenient grace. Our Arminian brothers are quick to point out that there are no biblical examples to support “regeneration precedes faith”, but then fail to acknowledge the same regarding their own.

    Show me just one biblical example such as the following…

    Romans 4:3 (Arminian Translation)
    Having the noetic effects of the fall removed and his free will restore, Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.

    Or something like…..

    John 4:48 (Arminian Translation)
    Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you people have the noetic effects of the fall removed and your free will restore, you will by no means believe.”

    Nowhere in all scripture does it suggest that sinners must be restored to a “pre-fall” condition before they can believe. Nowhere.

    Now if and when you point this out to the Arminian, they will ask “So how do you address fallen man’s inability to respond to God?” The non-Calvinist responds “I don’t believe man ever lost the ability to respond to God”. Having been bombarded and programmed with Arminianism, he then responds with “Pelagian! Heretic!” (with images of pitchforks and torches dancing in his head)

  7. I agree 100% with this it’s not a minor point Leighton I watched the discussion and though Dr. Olson is a very thoughtful, & intelligent man also his devotion to the goodness of God is inspiring. But sadly he seemed to defend Arminius and fear the label semi pelagian rather than discuss the point of contention as you say😊 & your right the Bible is absolutely living and breathing and still changing lives today and the Gospel has power so I agree with this statement below;
    “Some argue that the gospel is not sufficient to enable the lost to believe without the work of the Holy Spirit. I argue the gospel is always sufficient to enable the lost to believe because IT IS a work of the Holy Spirit.”

    the Holy Spirit is here in this world, but He too does not force an irresistible grace on us.
    John 16:8 NASB — “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;

    I can’t say thank you enough for what you do!! and also how you interact with those you don’t agree with is refreshing & a model for all those who are watching🌹 taking back the tulip 😄just trying to be funny🙋‍♀️

  8. Salvation was God’s idea not man’s. Man has no whatsoever share in it. God alone deserves to receive all the glory for this thing. Praise the Lord for His wonderful gift of salvation legitimately offered to undeserving sinners.

    “Salvation belongs to the Lord our God” – according to Psalm 3:8

    Salvation was accomplished by Jesus Christ ALONE at the cross of Calvary. Man has no whatsoever share in it because it was complete offered for free to undeserving sinners. To assign this to man or to share, usurp any part of it is blasphemous.

    Acts 4:12 says: “Neither there is salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

    1. Jtleosala Sorry to say your accusation is unfounded no one here would ever imply works based salvation you must not have read clearly unless I’ve missed something, but I’m sure I’ve not seen it here. What is implied here and clearly seen in Scripture is that God doesn’t need to do an extra measure in His creation’s life to force them to believe. He is glorified by His provision for all humankind, but not all will except this free unforced gift. To me it seems you are questioning not only the Holy Spirit’s ability to convict, but the power of the Gospel itself. I pray you are not so easily taken in by a different gospel one that truly is NOT “good news” One of my favorite verses is this;
      Philippians 2:10 NASB — so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
      And the beautiful part is He gives all His creation a choice Wow what an AMAZING God we serve!

    2. JTL,

      You crack me up blasting in here accusing us all (and Paul) of blasphemy!

      Just because you say something repeatedly and strongly does not make it right….. You want to insist that …

      “Man has no whatsoever share in it,” but Paul would disagree with you —over and over!

      2 Corinthians 5:11
      Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
      [Paul is certainly taking some part in this by “trying to persuade others.” Also….being persuaded —by Paul — certainly implies the person is involved. You do not persuade a “dead” man….. and the “irresistibly-graced” person would not need any “persuading”!!!

      Acts 9:22
      Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
      [Who is Paul “proving” it to? Dead mean? Irresistibly-drawn need no prove.]

      1 Cor 9: 19
      Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
      [Paul is going out of his way here to show that what he does makes a difference. He is certainly denying your words that “man has no whatsoever share in it.” He is claiming that he has a share in it.]

      Acts 17:2
      As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures
      [You cannot reason with “dead” men and irresistibly-grace-elect should not need to be reasoned with. Here again, Paul is claiming that to some degree, his reasoning is making a difference.]

      Acts 28:23
      When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
      [Paul is “trying to convince them” (even the ESV says this!!). Again….he is claiming that to some degree his “trying to convince” makes a difference. NOTICE in all of these…..it does not say anything about an extra work of God. NO… all these passages talk about Paul (his efforts) and man’s “reason”. They certainly contradict your “man has no whatsoever share in it.”]

      Acts 28:24
      Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.
      [Well, there you go….. the Bible clearly says that the words of Paul were what convinced some. So I guess you could say that his words had some “whatsoever share in it.”]

      Acts 18:4
      And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
      [More persuading!!]

      Acts 19:8
      And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
      [Over and over. Persuading and reasoning with. You dont do that with dead men.]

      Over and over Paul is claiming a “whatsoever share in it” JTL.

      1. FOH I clearly agree with you, but aren’t we also called to persuade in an honoring manner not cut down the man also formed in the image of God. The one thing I’ve noticed (as we all should) coming from our position it seems we should be treating them like the Samaritan. I know those I care about who are calvinist seem to avoid any discussion with me not because we’ve even started one, but rather I don’t think it matters to them. I was once told it is a secondary issue the day I found out my son died. Calvinism isn’t a secondary issue to me but I pray I respectfully disagree rather than isolating myself as it seems they do.

        Jude 1:23 NIV — save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

        Ephesians 6:12 NASB — For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

        Just a thought in Him alone we can stand,
        Reggie

      2. Hi FOH :

        I maintain the position of “Monergism” in regards to the doctrine of Salvation. God is completely in-charge of Salvation, not man. To argue with this from a Calvinist is to introduce an anti doctrine that the “fallen man has a share in it” which you dispute with me by using the verses you quoted. In response to those verses here are my response inside the bracket.
        —————————————————–

        “Man has no whatsoever share in it,” but Paul would disagree with you —over and over!

        2 Corinthians 5:11
        Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
        [Paul is certainly taking some part in this by “trying to persuade others.” Also….being persuaded —by Paul — certainly implies the person is involved. You do not persuade a “dead” man….. and the “irresistibly-graced” person would not need any “persuading”!!!

        My Response : [Paul will never claim for himself the credit. He believes in the Salvation by Grace through faith in Christ so that anyone should not boast of himself. He is the same author of Eph. Chapter 2. He does not take some part in it as by what you have said. That is only your opinion. Also, You are correct by saying “you do not persuade a “dead man”. Calvinists believes that Salvation is legitimately offered by God to the dead in sin elect. God will need to regenerate the spiritually dead elect for them to be able to activate the faith that was given to them by the time they have heard the gospel call. You said “irresistibly-graced person would not need any persuading” – My answer is, there is a right timing for them to respond by the time that they are already ripe for harvest. God the Father’s drawing power for them can occur until the second coming of Christ, God’s prophecy to them saying…” And I will raise them up at the last day. – John 6:44]
        ———————————————
        Acts 9:22
        Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah.
        [Who is Paul “proving” it to? Dead mean? Irresistibly-drawn need no prove.]

        My Response : [Paul has no power within himself to unblind his fellow Jews. This act of unblinding them rests on God alone. Paul, like us does not know when will be that time would come that God will unblind them that is why he is just doing his part to persuade them that Jesus was the Messiah]
        ———————————————
        1 Cor 9: 19
        Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.
        [Paul is going out of his way here to show that what he does makes a difference. He is certainly denying your words that “man has no whatsoever share in it.” He is claiming that he has a share in it.]

        My Response : [Paul was both a missionary to the Jews and to the Gentiles. It is just proper for a missionary to immerse himself in the culture of the target audience that is why Paul said “to the Jews, I became like a Jew to win the Jews”. Paul’s statement here never conclude that he claimed for any profit nor credit for himself in offering the gospel call. It is just FOH’s opinion that he would like to argue against Monergism doctrine and would like to introduce the opposite, i.e. “synergism” by giving man a share in obtaining the offer of Salvation.]
        ——————————————————
        Acts 17:2
        As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures
        [You cannot reason with “dead” men and irresistibly-grace-elect should not need to be reasoned with. Here again, Paul is claiming that to some degree, his reasoning is making a difference.]

        My Response : [ Paul’s reasoning with them does not say that he is claiming to some degree. How many percent? 5%, 10 %, 15% etc.? That is only of FOH’s opinion that he would like to insert in the verse.]
        ——————————————————–
        Acts 28:23
        When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
        [Paul is “trying to convince them” (even the ESV says this!!). Again….he is claiming that to some degree his “trying to convince” makes a difference. NOTICE in all of these…..it does not say anything about an extra work of God. NO… all these passages talk about Paul (his efforts) and man’s “reason”. They certainly contradict your “man has no whatsoever share in it.”]

        My Response : [“Trying to convince them” – using this statement to conclude that Paul is claiming here to some degrees of share in saving sinners is just a product of FOH’s imaginations. Paul has no whatsoever knowledge of claiming any share in his efforts to participate in the saving process of sinners.]
        ——————————————————————–
        Acts 28:24
        Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.
        [Well, there you go….. the Bible clearly says that the words of Paul were what convinced some. So I guess you could say that his words had some “whatsoever share in it.”]

        My Response: [Some were convinced because God had granted it. This is the position of the Calvinists. FOH argue otherwise attributing this to Paul, not completely to God]
        ———————————————————————
        Acts 18:4
        And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
        [More persuading!!]

        My Response : [FOH is wrong. Persuading or the act of convicting sinners is the work of the Holy Spirit, not of Paul]
        ————————————————-

        Acts 19:8
        And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
        [Over and over. Persuading and reasoning with. You don’t do that with dead men.]

        Over and over Paul is claiming a “whatsoever share in it” JTL.

        My Response : [Yes, it cannot be done with “dead men”, that is why God needs to regenerate them first. Paul has no whatsoever power to bring them back to spiritual life. That is the work of the Holy Spirit and God the Father’s drawing them to the Son. The very reason that Paul can never claim whatsoever share.]

      3. Thanks JTL.

        So basically you said over and over ….

        “….is just a product of FOH’s imaginations. Paul has no whatsoever knowledge of claiming any share in his efforts to participate in the saving process of sinners.”

        Basically that is saying the verses do not mean what they say.

        JTL… honestly….my friend, you said nothing to my verses…. only repeating yourself (based on your worldview) and saying it was my opinion.

        Every thing you stated was actually your opinion not dealing with what Paul was saying. I want to hear what Paul is saying. What IS he saying?

        Paul says this….

        “I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

        Notice this is not FOH’s opinion. This is Paul saying….

        “to win as many as possible.” [even Paul doesnt believe this is a fixed number…. “as many as possible.” That does not sound one bit like he is supporting the idea that God has chosen before time how many will be saved.]

        “so as to win those under the law.”

        “so as to win those not having the law.”

        “so that by all possible means I might save some.”

        “by all possible means”

        I

        I

        I
        “might save some.”

        I wish you would not say this is my opinion. They are the very words of Paul.

        He is saying that all of his efforts make a difference “as many as possible” “so as to win” “by all possible means.”

        Certainly you can see that the average reader would read that Paul is saying his efforts will have something to do with it.

        C’mon you can at least agree that to a person who does not know Calvinism it would sound like Paul is saying something about his efforts…. since he doesnt even mention the Holy Spirit or the Doctrines of Grace in any of these passages….. He ONLY mentions what he is doing in all these passages.

        Is that saying he is playing a part? Yes, in everybody’s book but Calvinists.

        It just is not enough to keep repeating that these verses dont mean what they say cuz “you guys know better.”

      4. JTL,

        You also said “It is just proper for a missionary to immerse himself in the culture of the target audience….”

        Why?

        Only modern missiological methods teach that. Even Reformed Bible schools teach apologetics and mission methods. Why?

        God does not say to do that. He just say preach the Gospel and (if Calvinsist theology is correct) He will do the rest. It should not matter one bit how the Gospel is preached according to Calvinism. Any learning of a “good way” to preach it takes some of the credit to men (as Paul is doing).

        We know that if we “immerse ourselves in the target audience” it will …… it will …. it will what? Work better? You sound like you are saying the better we immerse, the better it will go better. Is that what you are saying? You are saying we do it….”to have a better results”?

        Is that what you mean when you say it is “just proper”?

        Even my Reformed mission teachers taught us there is a way to do missions …and “there is a better way to do missions.” What does that mean “better way”?

        If it is a “better way” …. if teaching certain methods is so that “it works better” than …. automatically that means that we have some (even small) part in it.

        There is no way that Paul can say those things ….. and no way that Reformed teachers can write “Best Missions Methods” books without also implying … at least a little…. that the teaching of methods and learning of methods make a difference.

        You just cant have it both ways friend.

      5. FOH, By immersing to the culture of the target audience this will help the missionary learn for himself the language of that audience. For me, there is nothing wrong for a missionary to learn the language of the target audience so that he can communicate to them in a better way using their language. This is for better communication and I do not attribute this to any power of man to convert a sinner. I believe the act of conviction and opening of the sinner’s heart is the act of the Holy Spirit. Man’s part is to proclaim the gospel to be understood by the a particular audience not to “speak in tongues” or foreign languages.

      6. That was all just your opinion right? I was quote Paul….and you stated opinion.

        You said …
        “so that he can communicate to them in a better way using their language. ”

        Because a “better way” makes a better result right. That is why I studied 6 languages, right? To better communicate.

        But that automatically assumes that my work and effort (and “Better Missions Methods” books) have something to do with it.

        Back to the long list of Bible verses.

        Paul says several times “he persuades men.”

        That can on mean…..

        he
        persuades
        men

        An honest person would say it at least LOOKS like Paul is saying he has something to do with it.

        He reasons with men. You dont reason with a “dead” man. Why is he “reasoning with” people who cannot respond? And if the person is irresistibly drawn to Christ…why does Paul “reason with” them and “become all things to them” “to win them”? Paul certainly sounds like some of what he is doing is making a difference.

        It just does not add up JTL.

        You can state your opinion all you want….. but you cant say I am stating mine. I am just quote Paul …..in many places.

      7. FOH posted this one:

        “He reasons with men. You dont reason with a “dead” man. Why is he “reasoning with” people who cannot respond? And if the person is irresistibly drawn to Christ…why does Paul “reason with” them and “become all things to them” “to win them”? Paul certainly sounds like some of what he is doing is making a difference.”

        “It just does not add up JTL.”

        “You can state your opinion all you want….. but you cant say I am stating mine. I am just quote Paul …..in many places.”

        Here’s My Response : Foh, argues here that Paul does not reason with spiritually dead men. Foh is wrong and I can refute him by just one verse with Paul as the same author.

        Eph. 2:1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

        Who is the “you” ? – The answer is : the Ephesian believers in Christ as the audience of Paul during his time of writing this letter.

        Who made them alive? – Answer is : God Alone, [the verse says : “He made alive…”. The pronoun He refers to God, not to Paul nor anyone else] Man has no whatsoever share in it to contribute in order to enliven those who are spiritually dead.

        Why did God made them alive? – Answer is: Because they were dead in sins according to the verse, but Foh claims otherwise. Foh seems to claim here that they were never been dead to sin.

        When did God enliven them? – Answer is : by the time that they were previously dead in sins.

        Conclusion:
        1. Paul was really having an encounter with spiritually dead men. Foh said, “you don’t reason with “dead man”, I say: “I agree to that my friend”, but you cannot easily evade the actual engagement of Paul with those “dead men” as what you call” it. [you omit the exact wordings “spiritually dead” replacing it with just “dead man”]

        2. By the time Paul, was having an actual engagement with them when they were still unbelievers, I believe there was a divine intervention happening, the Holy Spirit quickening their dead spirit, opening their hearts, eyes, mind for them to see the truth and be able to activate the faith that was given to them as they hear the gospel offer.

        3. Irresistibly drawn because man was not created as a robot. His freedom is still subjected to God. Meaning they [the elect ones] cannot resist God because by nature, the fallen man has always been rebellious to God.

      8. JTL,
        Nah, your opinion here just doesn’t make sense friend.

        We ALL believe Christ makes us alive! The discussion is when! You have it baked into your theology that He MUST make people alive cuz they are too-dead to “come to their sense” (like the dead Prodigal son). Read Luke 15. Christ calls him “dead” twice. Dead. Twice. Yet he came to his senses. Apparently a “dead” person can come to his senses. “Dead” does not mean what you think.

        Of course Christ makes us “alive in Him” (He gives us eternal life)….. but bro…. the fact is you have it baked into your philosophy that He MUST do it before man can do anything….. but we see the contrary thousands of times in the Scripture.

        “Choose for yourselves this day who you will serve….. whether…..this or this… but I will serve the Lord.”

        Rahab (before that) (pagan prostitute, “dead”) (NOT from the “chosen people”) chooses to serve the Lord (Joshua 2, Hebrews 11). You must BRING to the text the idea that she needed an extra boost. By her faith, personal faith, she is grafted into the “chosen people”.

        Christ makes us alive in Him, when we believe in faith. the Word does not say He makes us “alive in Him” then gives us faith, so that we can believe and be made “alive in Him”…… again.

        Christ makes us “buried in Christ” and “dead to sin” after that too….. but we still sin. Dead, but still capable.

        Dead just does not mean what you think JTL. That’s just what you learned from the Calvinist books.

      9. FOH writes,
        We ALL believe Christ makes us alive! The discussion is when! You have it baked into your theology that He MUST make people alive cuz they are too-dead to “come to their sense” (like the dead Prodigal son). Read Luke 15. Christ calls him “dead” twice. Dead.

        Reggie absolutley! I have a story. I had an atheist uncle who after coming to Christ I tried to tell him of the hope found in a relationship with Jesus of course he was nice to me and talked about the universe etc, but didn’t agree.. I was a new believer so I didn’t keep going, but rather just prayed for his salvation. Next I have an aunt not his wife another aunt anyway I won’t mention her denomination but she’s not a calvinist.. Okay so after my uncle died of cancer her and my mom come to visit for my son’s graduation and I still remember it clear as day! We were talking about my uncle and how angry at the end of his life he was when anyone mentioned Jesus, but my aunt tells me one day before he died he asks her “where is the door” I get soooooo excited and I ask her if she told him Jesus is the door? she looks at me a little puzzled then says, oh no no no I told him the door is always open and you can come in or go out…. I’m a bit bothered so I call my (at the time mentor sister) who is a calvinist and she says well she’ll have to answer to God…. So fast forward to today it seems as this site points out a calvinist believes your pushed through the door???? What

        I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
        JOHN 10:9 NASB

    3. Salvation was indeed God’s idea, not man’s. God certainly didn’t have to save us, either, but it pleased Him to provide a way for man to be reconciled to Him and adopted as His children. And how did God choose to bring salvation to man? By sending Christ (who won victory on the cross) and revealing Christ (Christ’s ministry on Earth, the gospel, etc.) God drew everyone to Christ as Christ was lifted up at the cross (Jn 12:22) – something mankind did not have pre-cross. After Jesus ascended God even sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin! So much grace given to fallen man, as man couldn’t achieve salvation by works but could humbly trust in the perfect work of Christ.

      Faith itself is not equivalent with salvation, however. God offers and provides the salvation. His ‘condition’ is faith – but not because faith itself is some super meritorious work, but because it pleased God to offer a new covenant to man that man could enter via faith. The greatest provision of God in that new covenant, which He alone provides to us, is salvation as he raises us to new life in Christ and cancels the debt of sin that stood against us under the law.

      But while man has no share in the actual ‘saving’ part God grants to believers, man does have a share in the New Covenant (a.k.a. the New Testament.) The New covenant is an agreement between two parties – God and man, and mediated by Christ. In the new covenant, Christ fulfilled the requirements since we never could, and God gives the Spirit to those in the covenant so we can walk by the Spirit from then on!

      Covenant: diathḗkē (from 1223 /diá, “thoroughly,” intensifying 5087 /títhēmi, “place, set”) – properly, a set-agreement having complete terms determined by the initiating party, which also are fully affirmed by the one entering the agreement.

      Our ‘entering’ the covenant through faith doesn’t make us the initiator (God) nor the one who fulfilled the terms. And no one can even consider entering the covenant unless Christ was first revealed, lifted up on the cross, and the gospel message spread!

      “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” I Pet 3:5

      Imagine someone offers you a new home, free, and if you accept will escort you from your old home to the new and provide maids for you as well. That all is the “gift.” All you have to do is sign the contract. Your signature is not part of the gift nor is it a ‘share’ of the gift, if you wish to put it into those terms. Nor would your accepting such an amazing gift somehow bring you glory and not the giver.

      How much more so with salvation! All boasting is excluded because of the law that requires faith! (Rom 3:27)
      We acknowledge that we are sinners, and that Christ alone is perfect.
      We acknowledge that we are under condemnation for our sin and need rescue, humbly admitting that the just penalty of our sin is death (Rom 6:23, Jn 3:18) and hence we need saving.
      We acknowledge that it is Christ alone who can save.
      We acknowledge that Christ saves us out of His mercy as a free gift to those who believe.
      We acknowledge that salvation is a gift, not something owed to us for our own merit. We aknowledge that Christ did not *have* to die, but that he chose to anyway out of love. (Rom 6:23, Rom 5:16, Rev 22:17, Tit 3:5)
      We acknowledge we could never be reconciled to God outside of Christ. I Cor 1:23-24)
      We acknowledge salvation is free to us – and far more, it cancels out our impossibly huge debt.
      We acknowledge that Christ has all authority and is Shepherd of our lives.
      We humbly submit to Christ, dying to sin and self, and it is God who raises us to new life in Christ by His power, not our own (I Pet 2:24-25, Eph 4:22, Col 3:9, Eph 5:24.)

      Our whole lives from then on become humble service to our King (Rom 12:1, Col 3:23-25, Heb 9:14)
      Faith leads us to continual humility in regards to our fellow man. Just as faith leads to a lifelong submission to Christ, so faith also leads us to submit to one another (Eph 5:21) and continually keep a proper perspective in our dealings with others in the church (II Cor 10:7-18, Gal 5:13)

      It is true that God alone deserves to receive all the glory for salvation, and you are right that all the praise is due to Him alone for His wonderful gift of salvation which he legitimately offered to undeserving sinners. “Salvation belongs to the Lord our God” – agreed! Salvation is deliverance. God rescues us out of slavery to sin and the condemnation due us under the Old Covenant, and *into* His new Covenant by grace through faith.

      A helpless person who trusts the rescuing prince to save him doesn’t take credit for his own rescue by someone else. The Israelite crossing the Red Sea didn’t get the glory for parting it. Trusting in the name of Christ, the only name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, doesn’t give us credit for the work of Christ or the glory of God or our own salvation. Putting on the armor of God doesn’t give us credit for the existence or provision of the armor of God. Trusting in the gospel message of the good news of Christ doesn’t somehow steal God’s glory, rather it upholds it!

      If it helps, one analogy scripture uses for Christ in Heb 1 is Christ as the ‘effulgence’ of God’s glory; Christ is likened to the rays of the sun that reach the Earth, the radiant beams allowing man to ‘see’ the sun. That man on Earth trusts that the light of the sun is not deceptive, but there really is a star our planet is orbiting around, doesn’t diminish nor take credit for, even in part, the existence and glory of the sun. In the same way, our trust in the revealed Christ doesn’t diminish nor take credit for the existence of salvation, even in part, or diminish the glory of God.

      1. Woah Jenai. Another well-done presentation!

        You mentioned the Red Sea….and faith.

        Often on these pages I have mentioned that Passover is the most quoted, cited event in the Bible. Obviously it is a forerunner of the real thing…. the Cross (slavery, perfect lamb, the blood on the wood, etc….. beautiful).

        In that exact precursor of the Cross there was also a condition. Being part of the “Chosen People” was not enough. Having a perfect lamb was not enough. Killing the perfect lamb was not enough. They had to apply the blood in faith. God did not apply the blood.

        Did that give them the right to say they “saved themselves” ? Who would say that!???

        Did God provide all the grace? Did He initiate…. come up with the plan….provide the solution? Yes! It was 100% from God by grace.

        But God had one condition. In faith, they had to apply the blood. These sinful, “dead,” caught-in-slavery people still had what they needed to apply the blood in faith. If they did not apply the blood …..they were not spared. If they did….. God’s grace spared them (and many think that more than Israelites did it since a whole host of people left Egypt with them). Anyone who applied the blood was saved.

        Even though this is the perfect picture of Christ on the Cross, our Calvinist friends disassociate it and say there is no connection.

      2. Yes! I think the imagery of the Passover, and the application of blood on the doorpost is the clearest ‘type’ in scripture that helps us understand the anti-type of Christ’s blood and how we must ‘apply’ it in faith or else we are still under the judgment of death. It also stands in contrast to the philosophic idea that ‘if Christ shed a single drop of blood for someone who was not elect’ that that somehow would ‘waste’ Christ’s blood or make His sacrifice ‘less effectual’ – an idea that is never implied in scripture, and stands in contrast to how sacrifices in the Old Testament operated and to the blood of the Passover lamb sprinkled on the door. I’m not sure if that particular idea of ‘wasted blood’ is officially part of Calvinism, but I’ve run into it with several 5-point Calvinists who used it to explain why they think Jesus could not have died or shed blood for the non-elect. Interestingly, when I point out that most of the blood of the Passover lamb was left in the bowl, and the Angel of Death only noted the blood if applied to the doorpost to Pass over the household, the rejoinder given to me has always been that Passover is an ‘irrelevant analogy’ to understanding how the blood of Christ covers us!

      3. Yes!

        I almost added the part about “the rest of the blood in the bucket” but I wanted to keep it short and understandable.

        This is a very contrived and imposed concept —- “not one drop of His blood could be wasted.”

        What? That doesn’t even make sense and certainly does not come from the Word.

        Ironic:

        They find things that are NOT in Scripture (“He wont waste His blood on those who He wont cause to believe.”)

        They miss things (or “better explain them”) that ARE in Scripture (1 John 2:2 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”). Just like the blood was available to ANYONE who had faith to put it on the door.

        Anyone saying that Passover is an “irrelevant analogy” for the Cross is demonstrating a brought-to-the-text bias!

  9. Great work Leighton!

    I am opposed in principle to the methodological approach that the Bible should be interpreted through the lens of post-apostolic Gentile dialogue and debate. For me personally, real insight into Scripture comes through increased understanding of original languages, background, and Jewish studies.

    Those 31 flavors of grace that Calvinists and Arminians offer simply do not exist in the New Testament. There is “humble” grace and “salvific” grace, and I believe the former is meant as encouragement to the latter.

    “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

  10. Hello, I posted a number of times under the username ‘Amonite’ on Dr. Olson’s blog. This discussion topic is very interesting as my husband and I follow both you and Dr. Olson. 🙂 We have yet to watch your discussion but look forward to doing so!

    1. Welcome Jenai! Leighton doesn’t drop in too often on his blog any more. You might have better fortune on his FB page or the Soteriology101 FB page. But please feel free to join in the conversations here as you feel led.

  11. It’s a little odd to have a discussion in two different places, but it is interesting to see the different perspectives. I personally think Dr. Leighton Flowers has a much stronger case on this topic. I replied under Dr. Olson’s blog as the topic is timely – I do not label myself an Arminian primarily due to the issue of prevenient grace and the underlying assumptions it seems to hold,about the nature of human depravity, faith, the gospel, etc.

    I focused on the three main areas where I thought there was a fundamental difference in underlying assumptions and.or philosophy that was leading him to a different conclusion. The crucial ones, on the surface, seemed to be on what it means to ‘initiate’ salvation, that not holding to Calvinism or Arminianism is somehow equivalent to semi-pelagianism (false dillemna), and what it means to be dead in sin. Based on his responses (or non-responses, since they didn’t really respond to my points?) I’ve realized there are some more fundamental issues at play as well (such as differing views on what it means to be dead in sin.)

    Here is my first response I posted on Dr. Olson’s article on prevenient grace:

    #1 [(In response to his view that not holding to either Calvinism or Arminianism means one believes that “‘the initiative in salvation is human”)] What does it mean to Initiate? And is responding to the gospel in faith equivalent to initiating salvation?

    The Miriam Webster definition of ‘initiate’ is as follows:
    1: To cause or facilitate the beginning of: set going, such as to initiate a program
    (God initiates salvation and the reconciling of man to God by the revelation of Christ. He ‘illuminates’ the way through the gospel. II Tim 1:9-10, Jn 12:46, )

    2: to induct into membership by or as if by special rites (Our induction into the household of God is done by God, not ourselves. God adopts us, we do not adopt Him. Our willingness to accept Him as Father is not the same as being the one who initiates the actual induction. Our willingness to enter the covenant doesn’t mean we made or initiated the covenant or initiated the giving of its rewards. (Gal 4:4-6, Gal 3:10-29, Matt 22:1-19, Col 1:21-23)
    3: to instruct in the rudiments or principles of something: Introduce
    (The gospel message, and also general revelation of God and the general conviction of sin the Holy Spirit gives to the world, all do this to ‘introduce’ us to Christ and the way of salvation (Rom 10, II Tim 3:15.)

    Both the Old Covenant God made with Abraham attested to by the blood of animals and the New Covenant in Christ’s blood are two party covenants. Each party needing to ‘enter’ the covenant is not seen as a bad thing, but a requirement! We ‘enter’ the new covenant via faith. But man entering the covenant is not equivalent to ‘initiating’ the covenant itself, which in both cases was initiated by God. Nor is it equivalent to initiating the securities or promises of the covenant, which are still given by God. At best we could say that our entering the covenant by faith initiates our entering the covenant by faith – which is a fairly meaningless statement and not treated in scripture as an impossibility for man like the works of the law would be, but a requirement (Jn 6:28-29.)

    God ‘initiates’ salvation by revealing the Savior and the offer of salvation and asking us to believe. That is the initiation, which for most people today will be upon hearing the gospel. Faith is our acceptance of that offer and our trust in God’s promise.

      1. No, but I have been in enough discussions with Calvinists (not so often Arminians, though) that I’ve seen similar arguments about man initiating salvation or having ‘the decisive factor’ crop up. My original reply was much longer, but I tried to pare it down since from Dr. Olson’s other blogs he seems to prefer comments to be more concise.

      2. I was asking for two reasons:

        1. Please do! Stick around and put good stuff out there for people to find.

        2. Please dont! Dont fall for baited posts by two in particular here who will not discuss this, but will only just go round n’ round with the same repeated arguments (many that you fairly dismantled in your recent 3 posts). Anyway…. I fell for it for a while, so I tend to try to let people know.

        ps. Expect one of them to upbraid me after this post that “I have never responded with good answers.”

    1. My second response dealt with the false dilemma he proposed that one must be Calvinist or Arminian otherwise one is Semi-Pelagian. Arminians are so often falsely called semi-Pelagian by Calvinists that I was a bit surprised at this claim. I’ve gotten into similar discussions more than a few times with Calvinists, as semi-Pelagian is generally used as a sort of guilt by perceived association in debates, and is rarely used correctly.

      #2 What is Semi-Pelagianism (and why non-Calvinism non-Arminianism is not automatically ‘semi-pelagian’)

      Semi-Pelagianism is a spin-off system of Pelagianism which had its start in the 5th century by Casseian at Marseilles as an attempted compromise between the views of Augustine and Pelagian.

      The basics of semi-pelagianism are:

      1) The sanctifying grace that man receives from God can be merited by human effort, unaided by grace [Contrary to the whole of the gospel, wherein salvation itself is by grace through faith. Faith isn’t so much a ‘merit deserving salvation’ but a ‘condition that it pleases God in His grace to grant salvation.]

      2) The beginning of faith can be accomplished by human will alone unaided by grace [Contrary to scripture, wherein faith comes by hearing the gospel and by the sacrifice of Christ, not by the works or intellect of man, and there are plenty of general graces helping such as the general conviction of sin by the Spirit Rom 10:14-15, Rom 3:21-22. Even the offer of faith itself and God making man with the capacity to trust/believe in anything at all is a grace.]

      3) One a man has been justified, grace is no longer needed [Contrary to scripture, as God is always at work in us, disciplining us, blessing us, strengthening us, and countless other graces. The seal of the Holy Spirit as a down-payment of our future inheritance is also an act of grace].

      Unless someone believes that no grace is required at all (no law to show our sin, no revelation of Christ to show the way to a Savior, no conviction of sin by the Spirit, no work of Christ to put our faith in, etc.) then they aren’t semi-pelagians. Not believing their needs to be *additional* grace beyond Christ lifted up, the spreading of the gospel, and the Spirit’s general ministry in the world (Jn 16:8-11, Jn 16:32,) etc. is not a logical equivalent to belief that no grace is required for the beginning of faith at all, or that man somehow achieves faith through “willpower” vs. humble trust in the gospel message.

      1. And my third:

        crucial thing that must be defined is “What does it mean to be dead in sin?” Scripture has a lot to say on the topic:

        – All men sin (Rom 3:10-23)
        – Sin corrupts every aspect of our being, such as flesh, heart, mind, etc. (Mark 7:21-23)
        – Man cannot save himself (Psalm 60:10-12, Is 63:5-6)
        – Man seeks to gratify the cravings of the flesh (Eph 2:3)
        – Man is deserving of wrath (Eph 2:4)
        – Man is under condemnation/the death penalty for debt of sin he has under the law (Rom 6:23, Heb 9:15, Col 2)

        But scripture doesn’t seem to treat ‘dead in sin’ as being as evil as possible, or *always* doing wrong, or unable to obey even in part at anything, or unable to trust in anything, or, crucially, being unable to have faith in Christ’s work,’ – any of those would be philosophical leaps or assumed implications, but are not scriptural necessities. Eph 2 and Col 2 never treat man as unable to have faith, but in context and specifically in their word use are speaking of the debt of sin man has for the fleshly deeds he commits under the law.

        Scripture seems to deliberately distinguish between works under the law (which cannot save as no man can do them perfectly) and faith (which man can have since it is not a work of merit, but a trust in Christ’s perfect work.) And God doesn’t grant us salvation because we did some ‘super-work’ of belief that somehow cancelled out all our other sin – but rather because faith is the condition by which God graciously moves us from being under the Old Covenant (where our failed works put us under the death penalty) to under the New Covenant (where Christ’s perfect works are applied to us, so God cancels our debt of sin.) He then adopts us, makes us Holy, etc. as He predestined for those in Christ before time.

        Many scriptures asking us to repent and believe: Rom 10:9-13, John 3:14-21, Luke 11:5-13, Heb 11:13-16, Gal 3:24, Deut 30:11-14, etc. and notes that it is *because* God knew man could not achieve salvation by works so revealed another way, by Christ doing all that was necessary instead of it being incumbant on the works of man.

        Scripture does contrast unbelievers being ‘dead in sin’ with *believers* being ‘dead to sin’ (Rom 6:2-11) But the actual transition comes logically after faith – when we are ‘baptized into Christ’ and God gives us ‘new life’ in Christ. It does not come, even in part, before faith so that we can get faith. The reason believers are not condemned is not because of faith itself as some sort of meritorious work that wipes out sin, but because God treats those with faith as under the new covenant of grace and no longer under the covenant of law (Jn 3:18) Christ’s righteousness is then imputed to our account. Faith itself is never treated as a work of the law, and even if belief can be considered a work of a sort or unbelief could be treated like a sin, it’s not faith of itself that cancels our sins or merits us salvation. It’s Christ that merited our salvation, and God graciously applies that work to the account of anyone with faith by His own gracious choice.

        So there is no conflict with believing that man is depraved and unable to merit salvation via the law and rejecting the standard Calvinist/Arminian view that holds that depravity must somehow mean that man cannot have faith in the work of Christ.

        —-

        Dr. Olson did reply to this one, to say “From even a moderate Calvinist perspective this looks like works-righteousness. This would seem to make man’s decision of faith the “decisive factor in salvation.” So I responded to that as well:

        Calvinists seem to interpret a lot of things as works-based that aren’t.

        We know that faith is not a work of the law – scripture contrasts faith with works countless times. And *part* of faith (for those that want to parse it out somehow) is a work of the law. Many passages in scripture delineate how the covenant of grace through faith is opposed to the covenant of the law.

        Jesus does call faith a ‘work’ once – but not in the same sense. He is not calling it a work under the law but rather ‘the work that God requires.’ (Jn 6:28-29) So we know that faith is something we must ‘do’ in some sense.

        Man having a factor in faith is not the same thing as having the ‘deciding’ factor in salvation, either. The deciding factor is here: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Jn 6:40

        Those with faith do not raise themselves up, or save themselves. They would not have even known they needed a Saviour without the revelation of Christ.

        Or in other terms, it is by God’s grace we are saved – yes through faith, as the method he chose since fallen man couldn’t be perfect in works, but that salvation is entirely the gift of God. I’ve seen another Arminian on SEA describe this as ‘synergistic faith, monergistic salvation’ which I would agree with.

        But not believing in an extra step which isn’t explicit from scripture would not somehow turn faith into a work or somehow make faith an act of righteousness ‘deserving’ of salvation.

  12. 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?

    I think I would turn to Paul:

    For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

    If you hear folly, of what power is that “folly” from your perishing perspective and being? I’m not sure I see how your citation of Hebrews 4:12 fits, given Paul describing how the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God and vice versa. Hebrews 4:12 definitely helps one do Hebrews 5:14, but I suspect only if one is “being saved”.

    Can we use Paul himself as an example? He had surely heard the gospel by the time he was en route to Damascus to arrest if not execute more heretics. Only after a Christophany did he make the transition from “perishing” → “being saved”. The Holy Spirit apparently wasn’t enough for Paul! He needed … compound grace.

    A complicating factor, which Phillip nicely points out with his “Arminian Translation” of Romans 4:3, is that not everyone seems to have reached the “[100%] perishing” stage. One way of exploring this in the OT is to look at times where YHWH refused to be inquired of (e.g. Ezek 30:3, Hos 5:6): have those people reached 100% “perishing”? Solzhenitsyn famously argued that there is always “one small bridgehead of good” in every person; is this necessarily true? (A reason to argue it is true is if there is no prevenient grace: if no bridgehead means that person cannot respond to the gospel. But if God can raise the dead, no bridgeheads are required.)

  13. Based on what I read, this seems to be difference between you two. Dr. Olson thinks that prevenient grace is “supernatural and a special work of the Holy Spirit freeing the will of the sinner which is otherwise bound to sin (unbelief)”. You think that prevenient grace is the gospel. Personally, my own conception is slightly different. I don’t believe in total depravity where we are so dead in sin that we cannot respond to God’s call without grace. I believe that we all have sinful tendencies, but there is also goodness in all of us. So even while we are in sin, we also have the ability to respond to God’s call. This is possible because God’s grace (my understanding of prevenient grace) was always there for humanity to overcome sin in the form of proper cognitive faculties – rational faculties to assess our moral experiences and come to conclusions about right & wrong, free will to choose between right and wrong, provision of moral laws (which includes Law, prophets & gospel) and provision of Holy Spirit to the seekers. Jesus’ death on the cross opened a way to access that grace in a better way through provision of Holy Spirit in abundance than before to the followers.

    1. Scott W,

      Is this your first post? Welcome!

      Naturally for most Christians red flags go up when they hear you say there is goodness in all of us.

      But we all know this to be true to a certain degree. Even non-believers do good deeds. Many hurricane relieve/ feed the hungry/ save the children organizations are not Christian at all. Certainly even unredeemed men and women are capable of doing good things.

      That does however fly in the face of Total Depravity (all evil, all the time, by everyone).

      It is just an untenable concept, and unbiblical.

      And it is the necessary base/foundation needed for Calvinism to work.

      1. I also believe that fallen mankind is capable of making free will choices to accept or reject the gospel message. I believe in the inherent free will ability of fallen unsaved mankind to accept/believe or reject God’s call/drawing/convicting/convincing/persuading teaching work using the creation, the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit (Rom. 1:18-20; Rom. 10:8-17; 1Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12; Luke 8:21; Jn. 15:26, 16:13; 2 Thess. 2:13).

        I comprehend from the Bible the view of fallen mankind’s nature of being able to accept Christ as savior (choosing good) or rejecting Christ as savior (choosing evil) as mankind having a bipolar nature of good and evil — instead of viewing man’s fallen nature of being a single poled nature of only evil and God as an anemic puppeteering, bipolar (good and evil) sovereign God concept as Calvinists do.

        Because one pole of man’s bipolar fallen nature is evil also pulling on our free will, it ensures that morally capable people will sin and not be able to live a perfect sinless lives (which the law demands). Men and women do not get very far in this life before they/we commit their/our first sin.

      2. JTL,
        So I hope that is clear now.

        I am not saying Paul is not talking to dead men. Of course he is…..they are dead in sin. It (“dead”) just does not mean what you think it means or he is wasting his time trying to persuade people who are incapable of responding. And he does not need to “persuade” men who are “irresistibly drawn” (your idea).

        So persuade is a ridiculous way for Paul to talk according to your theology.

        As for the “alive in Christ” part….. I believe that!

        We are made alive in Christ.

        Dead-in-sin people respond to a loving Father (see Christ’s story of how the DEAD prodigal son “comes to his senses”) and they come to Him. He makes them alive in (the Chosen One) Christ.

        Of course this is how we think this is portrayed in the Scripture.

        But you cannot see that because of your definition of “dead”.

        But…
        1. Why is Paul trying to persuade your kind of “dead” people (who cannot hear)?
        2. The “dead” Prodigal son came to his senses
        3. We are “dead” to sin but still capable of sinning.
        4. Unbelievers are not referred to as “dead” the way you mean it…. Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (dead in sin, and sick but not incapable).

        All of these ideas and many Bible verses indicate that your definition of dead is BROUGHT to the Word, not found in it.

  14. FOH posted these one:

    “Of course Christ makes us “alive in Him”
    “Christ makes us alive in Him, when we believe in faith.”

    My Response : FOH had said in his previous thread that Paul does not talk to “dead man”, yet in his post above he said that Christ was the one who made those “dead men” alive .

    Conclusion :

    1. FOH is not consistent in his position denying the doctrine of “spiritually dead to sin” being held by the Calvinists.

    2. FOH said and agrees with the verse that I cited in Eph. 2:1 that God made those dead men alive. This is evidenced by his post above.

    3. If FOH denies “spiritually dead man due to sin”, then why there is a need for God to make them alive. That would be insane making alive those who are already alive.

    1. Wow JTL.

      We are just not communicating.

      When I said “Paul is not talking to dead men” I meant…. the way you say they are “dead”.

      They are dead in sin…..but just not “dead” in the sense of what you mean. Aye Aye Aye….

      Is it my sentence structure?

      Let me try again, real succinctly.

      Paul say “reason with” “persuade” “convince” and he would not be saying that about “dead people” the way you mean dead.

      Basically —- if you re-read my posts….. I am saying:

      “Dead men” (the way you mean) CANNOT be reasoned with, persuaded, convinced….. so why is he saying that? (Thus my sentence: “you cant reason with a dead man”).

      And secondly…. if they are made-alive, given-faith, irresistibly made to believe (since before time—– irresistibly) then it is stupid of Paul to repeatedly use words like “reason with” “persuade” “convince” .

      1. He is not “reasoning with them” if they are “too-dead” (what you insist… incapable of hearing)

      2. He does not need to “reason with them” is they are irresistibly made to believe by God.

      (If your idea is true then) Paul is claiming too much “credit” or involvement if he says his effort to convince, persuade, and reason with them has ANYTHING to do with it.

      So…. I mean…..

      If your idea is true….. in what way is Paul “reasoning with” someone who has been told before time that he will believe?

      If Paul has NOTHING to do with it, why does he say “reason with” “persuade” “convince” ?

      Again:
      1. If they are “dead” (like your definition says) they cannot be reasoned with.
      2. If they are irresistibly made alive and given faith….. they do not NEED to be reasoned with….so

      Either way Paul’s words (according to your theology) are stupid, unnecessary, and self-centered.

      1. FOH, you accused me of a theology that you labeled as “stupid, unnecessary and self-centered”. I absolutely deny your unfounded accusations, and yet I will not throw back to you any hard uncordial sayings. Here are my Response:

        1. Spiritually dead refers to the “dead spirit of man” having moral inability to access spiritual things of a Holy God.

        2. For me, It is not about the mental faculties of man, his reasoning or any philosophical ability possessed by normal beings – All of these will not work when it comes to accessing spiritual things of God.

        3. The un-regenerated fallen man, is spiritually dead man which is born of the flesh is flesh. He is unspiritual of the flesh which cannot do on his own to come back to God. Without Divine intervention, he is totally helpless. That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit [regenerated by God] is spirit – John 3:3, 6

        John 6:63 says “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life”

        4. The spiritually dead man is the fallen man, unregenerate man, separated from God due to sin and without the Spirit of God is also capable using his cognition to reason out. This answer your point as to why Paul was able to engaged in communication with them.

        5. Quickening of the Holy Spirit or Regeneration is the solution to the problem of being dead to sin. No one can effectually or meritoriously say: “Jesus is Lord” except of the Holy Spirit according to I Cor. 12:3. Meaning the unregenerate dead man in sin can even do it with themselves without any aid from above, but the question is? Does it count to God? Even the demons can say it, but does it bring any effect on their obtaining access to Salvation?

        6. Even the Armenians’ doctrine of “prevenient grace” is a witness to us here that they cannot help but to accept the fact that man cannot do it by themselves alone without a divine intervention. Unfortunately, it seems to me that FOH thinks otherwise, giving man the glory in obtaining salvation, a synergism view.

        I Cor. 2:13-14 “These things we also speak not in words which man’s wisdom [man’ philosophy] teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the “natural man” does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, [but FOH claims that “Spiritually dead man can, which this verse deny] for they are foolishness to him, nor he can know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.

        I Thess. 1:4-5 “Knowing, beloved your election by God. For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake” .

        [This means that the word of God alone is not sufficient to persuade men like FOH, except when the Holy Spirit will entervine with FOH in order to believe]

        7. Finally, the Apostle Paul persuade unbelievers and reason with them even if there is that irresistible grace infused to them because this was Paul’s practice that he was accustomed to. Why was he accustomed to doing this? Because he believes only through the proclaimed gospel accompanied with the effectual working of Regeneration of the Holy Spirit to persuade them to respond. He does not rely on his own reasoning capabilities nor to claim any merit about the salvation of those sinners.

        Jesus is also challenging us to do the seeming “impossible for men”, but with God they are possible. Our obedience to acting on difficult task is being used by God as a means in accomplishing His plans and purposes.

      2. FTL,
        Are you doing this on purpose?

        Are you purposely misquoting me? I never even came close to saying this….

        —FOH, you accused me of a theology that you labeled as “stupid, unnecessary and self-centered”. —

        I need to stop now since either you are not understanding my English or you are purposely distorting my sentences and my point.

        One last time: I see no point in Paul saying that “he persuades men” when he has (according to you) nothing to do with it.

        According to you he does NOT persuade men….. only God does. According to you he does NOT convince men….. only God does. So it is ridiculous of him to say that …..if only God does any of it.

        I need to be done with this.

    2. JTL, while I appreciate your attempt at a logical approach, your reasoning is flawed. We don’t start with conclusions, we start with premises. The conclusion can only be what is logically demanded from the premise. Be wary of starting with ‘hidden axioms’ (i.e. things you assume to be true before even examining the argument) that are not explicitly laid out in the premises. FOH’s position is very consistent. It’s only inconsistent if he *also* holds the axiom that a ‘spiritually dead’ human can’t respond to the gospel in faith. But he doesn’t hold that position, since scripture never states that as being part of ‘spiritually dead.’ When scripture speaks of being spiritually dead, it is either about humans being under the penalty of death, or their seeking the cravings of the flesh because they do not have the indwelling Holy Spirit to set their minds on things of the Spirit. Scripture never says it means they can never possibly do any single good thing (just not be ‘good enough’ to be saved, since even a minor sin makes them a lawbreaker, so all ‘fall short’ no matter how many good deeds they might do.) Being spiritually dead is never linked with an inability to trust in Christ’s good.

      And note that your final conclusion is not a conclusion, it is a question: “3. If FOH denies “spiritually dead man due to sin”, then why there is a need for God to make them alive. That would be insane making alive those who are already alive.”

      Fromoverhere and I and others don’t disagree that unbelievers are spiritually dead. And we believe that God makes the *believer* alive by raising him to new life in Christ and giving the indwelling spirit.

      What we disagree with is what it means to be spiritually dead *in sin* – which does not mean ‘can’t have faith.’ Note that before God gives *a believer* new life in Christ, that person must first ‘die with Christ’! What dies? The old self that is dead in sin!

      Rom 6: 3-14

      Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

      5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, a that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

      8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

      11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. 14For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

      Read Rom 6, Eph 2, and other passages in their context. There is no way to get the idea that ‘spiritually dead’ means ‘can’t have faith’ from those passages, as it is not what is being talked about. That’s a philosophical axiom you are reading into the text.

      1. Jenai,
        Thanks for that good post. Yes, they are reading that into the text, using their interpretation of just a few key (to them) texts.

        You can see that….. and I can see that….and the whole non-Calvinist wing of the Church can see that….but Calvinists cannot see/accept that. They get taught Total Depravity and they think that letting it go would make a “lesser God”.

        I know….I was there and many of my Bible School/ Seminary friends still are there. But I let go of that brought-to-the-text idea. That Bible makes a lot more sense now!

      2. Jenai posted this one:

        “What we disagree with is what it means to be spiritually dead *in sin* – which does not mean ‘can’t have faith.’ Note that before God gives *a believer* new life in Christ, that person must first ‘die with Christ’! What dies? The old self that is dead in sin!”
        ————————————————

        Here’s My Response :

        1. I really indeed maintain that the dead in SIN can’t have faith. A self-produced or native faith is sin infected that will not satisfy Christ. For me, Faith is a gift from God given to the sinners for them to exercise at the time they will hear the gospel call – Romans 10:17. When you come out from your mothers womb, you own nothing, even your life, including your own self produced faith that you might boast in front of God. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” according to the book of Psalms.

        2. You said that “before God gives a believer a new life in Christ, that person must first die”. — If your idea is true, then how can a former dead will die again? you mean he will die twice?, whereas, in my position is consistent – humans has been found “spiritually dead” even from the womb of their mother.

  15. FOH posted this one:

    “According to you he does NOT persuade men….. only God does. According to you he does NOT convince men….. only God does. So it is ridiculous of him to say that …..if only God does any of it.”
    ——————————————————–
    Here’s My Response: It’s not actually according to me. Originally, it is the doctrine of Scriptures that I believe for myself., i.e:

    1. Galatians 1:10 “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I speak to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ”

    Paul’s conversion was a direct experience from God on his way to Damascus. This could be the obvious reason why He is asking every readers [including FOH] the question, If he is the one who persuades men or God ? I’m sure the Apostle Paul will never claim any merit for himself in his selfless service to God. He is always giving God the glory.

    2. I Thess. 1:5 “For our gospel did not come to you in WORD ONLY, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.”

    “Spiritually dead men” as I said in my previous posts in this thread, they are still capable to make use of their cognition, reasoning power, or philosophy to respond and to argue. [It is the spiritual aspect of them that has been deactivated, blinded, or veiled] But these human philosophy , skills in reasoning power are nothing in effect to God because they are considered as dead, separated by sin. The T of us Reformers which opposed for centuries until in this blog but never prevailed.

    There is a need for a Divine Intervention according to the verse, the gospel did not come to them in ” words only but in power and in the Holy Spirit”. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to regenerate spiritually dead sinners. Their former dead spirit must be born in the spirit so that they will become spiritually alive. According to Jesus, the Spirit gives life – John 6:33

    3. Persuading and convincing sinners to come back to God cannot be done by God’s servants apart from God Himself.

    4. If God can do it by himself, infusing irresistible grace, then why there is a need for Paul to persuade and convince sinners?. I will repeat my answer. It was the customary practice of Paul to persuade and reason out with them because he believes in the intervention of the Holy Spirit [I Thess. 1:5] by the time the gospel is offered to sinners.

    Acts 17:2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the scriptures. Explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.”

  16. FOH posted these one :

    1. “[Paul is certainly taking some part in this by “trying to persuade others.” Also….being persuaded —by Paul — certainly implies the person is involved. You do not persuade a “dead” man….. and the “irresistibly-graced” person would not need any “persuading”!!!”

    2. “Man has no whatsoever share in it,” but Paul would disagree with you —over and over!

    I say …:

    So… FOH makes it very clear in his statements above that man has a share in the salvation provided by Christ at Calvary. FOH cannot afford to deny the doctrine expressed to us in Ephesians 2:8-9 authored by Paul which says :

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourselves; [but FOH claims some part in it as we can see in his post above] it is the gift of God. Not of works, [yet FOH attribute Paul’s WORK OF PERSUADING men as an addendum to that gift of God] lest any man should boast”. [claiming a share in the process of bringing salvation to sinners is a form of boasting of a false claim]

    1. JTL,
      We’ve been here many times before.

      Salvation is a gift from God. The best OT example of that (and the most-referenced event in the Bible) is Passover.

      Passover is a gift from God. The salvation was His idea, His plan, His grace. 100%. But they were not recipients of that grace unless they applied the blood from the perfect lamb on the wooden cross beam of the door. Get it? blood, lamb, wood, cross, door….

      They applied the blood in faith but it gave them no opportunity to say “we saved ourselves!!!” Nah. That’s just dumb. It is equally dumb to accuse me of saying “I saved myself.” Nope. I applied the blood in faith.

      I was “dead in sin” (on my way to a Christ-less eternity) but not so dead I could not respond in faith (Luke 15, the dead son came to his senses).

      Again…. you have never answered why God allows Paul to use words like “I persuade men.” These words give the impression that Paul’s efforts made a difference and that a person needs persuading. JTL, how can the idea of “needing to be persuaded” or “reasoned with” match up to the idea that God gives the faith? It cant.

      Your only answer so far has been to attack me for bringing up these passages. What do they actually mean to you?

      1. You say, the “Passover” in the OT is a gift from God. – I agree to that, but nowhere you can read in the Bible, that the Hebrews claimed a share in it when they do the applying of the blood. You just put that thing in that passage.

        You also say : You were “dead in sin”… but not so dead…” What do you mean? is it 50-50 or half dead? 1/3 ? or 1/4 dead? I can’t understand exactly your idea.

        Regarding the prodigal son – this younger son was pronounced as dead by his Father not physically but spiritually dead. For me, he was able to come back because there was a divine intervention that made him “come to his senses” to repent and to decide to come back home. He cannot do this by himself alone if his dead spiritual life was not regenerated. How can a dead spiritual life be able to respond to the gospel call ?

        You said : “Again…. you have never answered why God allows Paul to use words like “I persuade men.” — But I did it already in item # 4 in this thread.

      2. JTL:
        That is curious. I never said the Hebrews claimed a share in it! That is exactly my point!!! They do NOT claim a share in it…but they still had to apply the blood (as they had to forge the bronze serpent and look at it to live; as Noah had to construct the ark, both also images of Christ).

        They do not get to claim the credit for the salvation, but God does have some conditions. They meet the conditions.

        The “dead” thing is really a dead issue. We are 100% dead in sin (not righteous before God). The Bible says we are sick too, right? “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick….”

        Wait…. JTL says we are dead. Are we “dead” or only sick? The point is we cannot save ourselves. We can only trust, by faith in what Christ has done for us. You say that kind of faith is a “work”. Paul disagrees all throughout Romans 4.

        Funny…. you accused me of adding something to the text (that I didnt even do)….and yet you say…

        “For me, he was able to come back because there was a divine intervention that made him “come to his senses” to repent and to decide to come back home.”

        Wow….you definitely added THAT to the text! That concept is nowhere in that passage or any other passage in Scripture.

      3. ‘Dead in transgressions and sin’ means:

        #1 The ‘wages’ of the unbeliever are sin and death (Prov 10:16, Rom 6:23)
        #2 Unbelievers condemned under the law due to sin and deserving of God’s wrath (Col 2:14, Rom 7:6, Rom 5:12, Eph 1:4) Even one sin is enough to become a lawbreaker deserving of justice under the law (James 2:10)
        #3 Even for a believer, the body is subject to death and decay (Rom 7:24)
        #4 Unbelievers and believers both sin because of the corrupt flesh (Rom 10:27)
        #5 All sin and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23)
        #6 Unbelievers are ‘slaves’ to sin, or ‘ruled’ by sin (Rom 6:5-22, II Pet 2:19)
        #7 Unbelievers seek the cravings of the flesh (Eph 2:1-3)
        #8 The temptation to sin affects all with the knowledge of good and evil (Rom 7:9)

        Paul calls the state of someone before they know ‘the law’ (or right from wrong) ‘alive’ – that sin only springs to live and makes a person dead once there is a commandment to show them what sin is. “Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.” Rom 7:9 The “death” that comes by knowing the commandment/good from evil/right from wrong, etc. is the temptation to sin, the certainty a person will sin, and the certain penalty of sin.)

        Now, if a person who would otherwise be condemned to death responds to the gospel in faith, God then gives them new life. They die ‘to’ sin as they identify with the death of Christ, and God raises them with Christ and gives them the indwelling spirit. The believer is born again! God does that process of granting new life and mercifully imputes the righteousness of Christ as credit to the believers account. Even though the believers body is still subject to sin and decay, he is a ‘new man’ who walks by the Spirit with the mind of Christ. The believer is a ‘slave to God’ instead of a slave to sin.

        “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, a that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” Rom 6:6-7

        In the Parable of the prodigal son, the boy represents an unbeliever – a son by creation, but not regeneration/adoption. He rejects the God who made him. Overall, the parable represents the “sinner who repents” (Lk 15:10) It would be very strange indeed to take the parable as meaning that the sinner cannot repent!

        In the parable, the boy wants his inheritance early – a symbol both that his own father is ‘dead’ to him, and of the unbeliever seeking the things of this world. The father lets the son go, even knowing that if the boy does not change course, he will die. If the boy hadn’t returned to his father (a symbol of coming to God through Christ as savior) he would have died. He almost did die in the parable of starvation. Only when he had reached rock bottom did he think about the good things even his father’s hired ‘servants’ had. He then ‘came to himself’ – he realized that his choice had been stupid, that he had sinned against heaven, and that he needed to throw himself on the mercy of his father. He came to realize his own madness and need (as many do when confronted with the gospel truth!) This is not grammatically an act from without or a realization irresistibly forced upon him. His dire circumstances, and knowledge of the goodness of his father, were what he looked at to ‘come to his senses’ and return.

        When he sees the son coming up the road the father clothes the son in new garments and put his own ring upon him. These have both scripture significance (Isa 61:3, Jer 22:24, Eph 6:15, Phil 3:9, II Cor 1:22, etc.) but are also all pictures of the filial relationship of the son to the father (Rom 9:8, Lk 20:26, Eph 1:4-5, etc.) This symbolizes the baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection of the believer, and God taking the believer into His household.

        The father explains to the servants and the older brother that the younger brother “was dead, and has begun to live; was perishing, but has been found.” I’m not really sure why English translations favor the word ‘lost’ other than it is a nice contrast with ‘found’ – but ‘lose’ doesn’t quite capture the sense of the Greek. He was ‘lost’ because in his former state he was certain to perish. https://biblehub.com/greek/622.htm

        The believer ‘come to life again’ through the death and Resurrection of Christ (Rom 14:9, Rom 6:2-10, Eph 2:4-6)

        Nothing in that parable, or the teachings about us being lawbreakers under the penalty of death deserving of destruction, implies that someone can’t respond to the gospel in faith.

    2. JTL,

      Case in point: I visited a Reformed church yesterday (the kind that puts the Confessions on their web site to say who they are). We went to support our extended family who had a children’s thing. The pastor is Calvinist.

      The whole message was Arminian. Not just “Share the Gospel with your friends” but long statements like “Sometime our friends dont believe in Christ because we haven’t been the kind of witness we should be.”

      What?

      Many kind of statements implying “human responsibility” and even using shame…. “How will they know the Gospel if we do not go tell them?”

      Most Calvinists dont really live like it is true.

      Elsewhere on this blog I have listed dozens of quotes from Piper’s “Dont Waste Your Life” where he is blatantly Arminian. He gets a pass by Calvinists since they know that he teaches “the Doctrines of Grace.”

      Theologize like a Calvinist but preach like an Arminian.

      1. … and I also preach like a Calvinist, not an Armenian. If I do that in real life you might charge me as “double speak”. The last portion of your statement I am responding… I see it as a “snare”

      2. True, it is a snare that many Calvinists fall into. They start preaching like non-Calvinists!

        As for you I cannot tell, but I would imagine that you do it more than you realize. If you have told the crowd “God loves you” (you are preaching non-Calvinism). If you ever tell a person or crowd “Christ died for you” then you are preaching non-Calvinism.

        If you find yourself (or dont realize) slipping, like the Reformed pastor yesterday saying things like “Maybe your neighbor hasnt come to Christ because you….” (you are preaching like a non-Calvinist).

        If you preach that we can make a difference in how things will turn out: our kids, our career, or marriage, then you are taking too much upon yourself…since the future is already set by God.

        Nah…. you probably are preaching like a non-Calvinists.

        Here is a Calvinist Sunday message: “Resist sin….. or not. Everything that happened to you this last week was planned by God before time….so whatever you did….. that was God’s plan. Same for this coming week. Amen. Dismissed.”

        Have you ever counselled a crying couple in your church? The husband has been cheating on her for years. Then he says to you, “Pastor, you told us that all that happens is God’s sovereign will.” You say: “Yes but not His will of command…”

        “Huh? If I cheated on her then it was God’s sovereign will before time and I cannot see —in anything that you have taught us—- that it could have been any different.”

        Calvinist Pastor says what……?

  17. FOH posted these 4 items:

    # 1. “The “dead” thing is really a dead issue. We are 100% dead in sin (not righteous before God). The Bible says we are sick too, right? “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick….”

    # 2. “Wait…. JTL says we are dead. Are we “dead” or only sick?”

    # 3. “I was “dead in sin” (on my way to a Christ-less eternity) but not so dead I could not respond in faith (Luke 15, the dead son came to his senses).

    My Response : FOH is really inconsistent with his ideas. In his # 1 statement he has declared : “We are 100% dead in sin (not righteous before God) but in his # 2 and 3 statements, it shows that he deny his statement #1, where he had already admitted saying :”We are 100% dead in sin…”

    He can no longer reconcile those ideas that are in conflict with each other?. He cannot even delete it, except when he is the blog administrator.
    ————————————-
    # 4. “As for you I cannot tell, but I would imagine that you do it more than you realize. If you have told the crowd “God loves you” (you are preaching non-Calvinism). If you ever tell a person or crowd “Christ died for you” then you are preaching non-Calvinism.”

    My Response : That is only the active imagination within your mind suspecting me that I preach “God Loves you”. You know that I don’t believe in a universal salvation… so why should I do that ?

    1. Those ideas are only in ‘conflict’ if one takes it as an axiom (presumed truth) that to be ‘dead in transgressions and sins’ means an unbeliever cannot respond to the revealed gospel in faith.

      They are not in ‘conflict’ if one defines dead in transgressions and sins as scripture does: that everyone under the law is a lawbreaker, a slave to sin, deserving of death.

      You will simply keep going in circles and convince no one if you assume your premises are automatically true rather than testing your beliefs with what scripture says, and does not say, on a topic.

      1. Thanks Jennifer,

        But we have found that this is what the Calvinists do on this site. The just assume certain things are a “given” and a handful of verses mean —must mean— can only mean —what they say, and then even if you send 500 verses their direction, they filter all of them through their pre-set filters.

        Like talking to a wall….

      2. Rothnie Posted this one: “They are not in ‘conflict’ if one defines dead in transgressions and sins as scripture does: that everyone under the law is a lawbreaker, a slave to sin, deserving of death.”

        My Response : Cain and the generation during Noah’s time were still punished even though there was no law existing that time. The law only came during Moses’ time. You cannot dispute with this. Why? Cain was a product of the fallen man. He was not born sinless or righteous. The sinful nature has been implanted to him by his parents that is why even if there was no law existing during his time, this sinful nature in him has been activated already and is compatible best friend of evil. Who told them to offer peace offerings sacrifices to appease God if they were not infected with sin? Where did Cain got his sins prior to the killing of his brother Abel?

        The generation during Noah’s time has been swept away by the flood even if there was no law that has been violated because the law has not yet been officially given to them. Yes, Noah preached to them about righteousness but they never believe him instead they call Noah as an insane person. This is the truth that the fallen man does not heed spiritual things because they are foolishness to them. Why is it that the family of Noah believed, while the rest of the generation does not believe and just perish ?

        When we say “dead in sin”, this does not mean that sinners were paralyzed and cannot commit sins anymore. For me “Dead in Sins” – means inability of the fallen man for moral ascendancy to God. This is supported by Romans 3:10-11 “As it is written : There is none righteous, no, not one. There is non who understands; there is non who seeks after God.”

        FOH contends that man though a sinner can produce good works. I don’t deny that idea but, scripture always maintain that those good works, self-righteousness can never earn any merits in obtaining salvation. Self-generated faith or the “native faith of the fallen man” is sin infected and cannot please God, that is why God gives faith to the sinner so that he can exercise it in responding to the gospel call after having been regenerated or born alive spiritually.

        The Gentiles are not under the law and yet it is undeniable in Scriptures that the 10 commandments that Jesus Christ summarized into 2 is applied to the Gentiles, not for the purpose of obtaining Salvation but just like as a mirror for man to be able to know and understand his fallen condition

      3. Jenai Rothnie posted these items that I quote below:

        I did some review of these verses and found out that Jenai Rothie’s comments were not compatible with what the verses say. I typed the content of the verses cited for the reader’s reference here. My reply are the ones enclosed inside the bracket.

        ‘Dead in transgressions and sin’ means:

        #2 Unbelievers condemned under the law due to sin and deserving of God’s wrath (Col 2:14, Rom 7:6, Rom 5:12, Eph 1:4) Even one sin is enough to become a lawbreaker deserving of justice under the law (James 2:10)

        Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross”

        [the verse has nothing to say with unbelievers as what Jenai Rothnie claimed here. The pronoun used: “US” in the verse does not refer to unbelievers but rather to the Colossian believers. Does this verse give us the meaning of dead in Sins? – Answer is NO]

        Eph. 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

        [Eph. 1:4 as cited by Rothnie has nothing to prove about the meaning of “dead in sins” and “unbelievers being condemned under the law”. My opponent might be just daydreaming or even bringing into the text his/her own ideas that were not in the verse]

        Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we are held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

        [Romans 7:6 as cited by Rothnie has nothing to do in trying to convince the readers about his/her intent to define “dead in transgressions and sin”. Question to Rothnie: Who are the “WE” being referred to in the verse? You say those are unbelievers ? You might have just done a copy paste of these verses without first trying to read and analyze them carefully asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit]

        #4 Unbelievers and believers both sin because of the corrupt flesh (Rom 10:27)

        [Rothnie, there is no verse 27 existing in Romans chapter 10. You might have your own version of Scriptures, but I cannot locate this reference you have cited]

        #8 The temptation to sin affects all with the knowledge of good and evil (Rom 7:9)

        Romans 7:9 For I am alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

        [Romans 7:9 has nothing to teach about the meaning of “dead in trespasses and sin”. This verse has nothing to say about Rothnie’s doctrine that according to him/her is : “The temptation to sin affects all with the knowledge of good and evil”.]

      4. JTL,

        When studying topics in scripture where explicit definitions are not given, we look for verses that ‘shed light’ on the topic.

        #2 Unbelievers condemned under the law due to sin and deserving of God’s wrath (Col 2:14, Rom 7:6, Rom 5:12, Eph 1:4) Even one sin is enough to become a lawbreaker deserving of justice under the law (James 2:10)

        Colossians 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross”

        Yes, the audience of Col 2:14 is believers. But when analyzing a passage we look at more than just who is talking or who the audience is, but also context and what they are actually saying. Is Paul saying the law stands against them now? No, of course not. Paul is talking about their past as unbelievers, when the handwriting of ordinances (law) was ‘against them’ and contrary to them. E.G. they were condemned under the law. Jesus fulfilled the law at the cross, and God imputes Christ’s righteousness to the believer for Christ’s sake. Jesus doesn’t have to die again every time someone believes. The act was done once. One gets an even more expansive view of this in Col 2:1-15.

        “So then, just as you received [https://biblehub.com/greek/3880.htm] Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith…For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness….In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

        How can you say it is an unrelated verse or unrelated to the dead state of an unbeliever, when the verses just prior detail that their past unbelieving selves were ‘ruled by the flesh’ and ‘dead in their sins’ and the ‘law stood against them?’ And Paul’s argument is that it is through baptism that God makes the believer alive (see also Rom 6:1-14), the believer is forgiven, etc.

        Pretty sure my Eph 1:4 was actually meant to be Eph 2:1-5, but even Eph 1:4 sheds light. Why? Because if those in Christ (believers) were chosen before the foundation of the world to be Holy and without blame, it stands to reason that unbelievers are not holy and are with blame. There would be no reason to set a rule that those in Christ would be made holy if the state of all was holy to begin with.

        Eph 2:1-5:

        As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

        “Dead in transgressions and sins’ is tied into disobedience, following the ways of the world, gratifying the cravings of flesh, and being creatures by nature ‘deserving of wrath.’ Again there is the symbolism of baptism, God making the believer ‘alive in Christ’ as in Col 2, Rom 6, and other passages. As the larger passage shows it is not faith ‘of itself’ that saves or makes us alive, but God is the one graciously choosing to make the believer alive and grant salvation.

        Romans 7:6” “But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.” (NASB)

        Of course Paul is talking to believers. But what is he saying? What are the logical implications of that? Just because Paul is talking to believers does not mean that whatever he says cannot shed light as to their prior state before belief. He is directly contrasting their current and former state!

        “We have been released from the law, having ” – Why did they need the law to be ‘rendered useless’ as per the Greek? Because the law *formerly* had operation over them and “bound” them. The believer dies to the law through baptism, and now serves in ‘newness of life.’ Why new life? Because they were ‘dead’ before – bound under the law; dead in sin. The concepts are tied together.

        #4 Unbelievers and believers both sin because of the corrupt flesh (Rom 10:27)

        [Rothnie, there is no verse 27 existing in Romans chapter 10. You might have your own version of Scriptures, but I cannot locate this reference you have cited]

        #8 The temptation to sin affects all with the knowledge of good and evil (Rom 7:9)

        Romans 7:9 For I am alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

        [Romans 7:9 has nothing to teach about the meaning of “dead in trespasses and sin”. This verse has nothing to say about Rothnie’s doctrine that according to him/her is : “The temptation to sin affects all with the knowledge of good and evil”.]

        Rom 10:27 was a typo. It happens when I type fast and go back and forth between pages.

        Rom 7:14-25 details how even believers sin.

        “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

        So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

        But though both the believer and unbeliever sin, God does not look at the believers ‘body of flesh’ but views us through Christ’s body instead (Col 1:21-23, II Cor 2:14, etc.) So that sin is not counted against us, and the righteousness of Christ is credited to us.

      5. Rothnie posted this one:

        “But though both the believer and unbeliever sin, God does not look at the believers ‘body of flesh’ but views us through Christ’s body instead (Col 1:21-23, II Cor 2:14, etc.) So that sin is not counted against us, and the righteousness of Christ is credited to us.”

        My Response :

        You have said: “But though both believer and unbeliever sin” – I agree to that.

        Man is a tripartite being composed of body (mortal), soul and spirit (both immortal). You only focused to the believer’s physical body as the one contaminated by sin which I disagree. When man sinned all of his being has been totally depraved to sin, including the body, soul and spirit according to : I Thess. 5:23

        I Thess. 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

        It is God who makes the believers holy. This is backed up by Paul’s prayer for God to act in favor of the believer’s [sanctification process] continuous process of cleansing from sin. He clearly mentioned here in his prayer not only the physical body, but also includes both the soul and spirit of the believers to become blameless [holy] until the coming of Jesus Christ. The grace of God provided to the believers is not a minor point of issue. We operate the christian life through the Grace of God, not on our own. Believers persevere because God’s grace sustains them to the end.

      6. ‘Flesh’ in Paul’s speech represents both physical flesh and the immaterial emotions/desires of the flesh as well. The gnostics incorrectly took it as being our flesh itself that was evil, like if we on Earth were somehow disembodied we would suddenly be perfect – which is not Paul’s point at all. Though Christians still sin and still have the desires of the flesh, we are no longer ‘ruled’ by the flesh as we have the mind of Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit, etc.

        But you are just shifting topics, not proving your underlying assumptions. There is nothing in scripture that states morally corrupted humans are unable to trust in Christ’s moral perfection. And preservation of the saints is a completely different topic.

        When I get into discussions with Calvinists it is rarely in hopes of convincing them. It is for two main reasons:

        #1 So those undecided can evaluate for themselves
        #2 To see if there is any scripture or logical implication I have missed in my own study. I sometimes glean new things to study in such discussions. But so far, you have failed to provide either. Presuppositions are not proofs, scripture has to be taken in context, and faulty reasoning does not support a conclusion.

        Unfortunately, there isn’t much purpose to continuing a discussion if you are going to merely repeat assertions, insist passages dont say what they explicitly say, or change topics without engaging with actual in context scripture.

      7. Nice Jennifer.

        That’s why most of us post here: so that others can see the information.

        You are right, a couple of the Calvinists who comment here come to the table with “givens” and they can’t hear a word you are saying if it does not go with their presuppositions.

        For instance JTL says “dead” means “incapable”.

        It is irrelevant that Christ said the prodigal son was “dead” but “came to his senses.” JTL just inserts “yes cuz he was supernaturally made to come alive.” (by who, the waiting Father?) Of course that is not in the story (or EVER in the story!) but no matter…for him it must be so.

        But I contend that Christ told that very story —and had the Father wait— to prove the very point that dead does not mean what Calvinists think.

        Furthermore we are dead TO sin but quite capable of sinning. No matter…… Irrelevant. Does not fit his presuppositions.

        You are right that it seems futile to keep discussing it if they cannot hear a word you are saying and insist their presuppositions are the starting point. Partly this is because the alternate positions are so villainized by them that they are disgusted by the idea of ever becoming a Semi-Polynesian!

      8. JTL, the idea that God initiates salvation is hardly exclusive to Calvinism, it’s regular Christian thought. One does not have to believe the specific soteriological view that God pre-selects only some people to get faith/be regenerated prior to faith/etc. to believe that God initiates salvation and that man would never have been able to accomplish, or even want, a Savior without Christ first revealing Himself, revealing our sin, and accomplishing that salvation.

        Also, when Christ said, “You did not choose me, but I choose you” he was talking specifically to His 12 Apostles, whom the gospels show Christ individually calling. Even though Christ personally knew some of them before He called them, none of them saught him out to be their rabbi (as was the usual custom) but He sought them out. Read the surrounding passages. Thomas, Phillip, etc. were all with Christ ‘from the beginning’ and while He was on Earth He made ‘known’ to them all that the Father wanted Him to. After Christ’s death, the task of illuminating scripture is given to the Holy Spirit – none of us are physically/personally taught with new words by Christ.

        There is no contextual or logical reason to take this as applying to every person who will ever live or as meaning that Jesus ‘picks’ some people to get faith/be regenerated and get faith/applies His own faith to them, or any other variation on that theme.

        Now, in general we can say with certainty that it was God who first chose to bring salvation to the world, and not the world which asked first for a savior.

        As to the Parable of the Prodigal, where are you getting the assumption that the boy coming to his senses “had” to be divine intervention and that to claim otherwise is “unbiblical?” Again, you are assuming – not proving – that an unbeliever cannot repent and turn in faith.

        The text of the parable shows that several key things happened before the boy “came to himself.” First, he realized the gravity of his dire situation. He was starving, friendless, pretty much homeless. Pigs lived better than him. Second, he remembered the provision of his father. Third, as he explains to the father later, he realized he had ‘sinned against’ his father and heaven. The grammer of ‘he came to himself’ reflects an inward process. He came to his senses – not ‘sense was thrust upon him from without’ or ‘his senses were regenerated,’ etc.

        But when it comes to the gospel, no one ‘comes to their senses’ and repents unless they first hear it. And they would not hear it if it were not spread. And it would not be spread if Christ had not first died. And Christ would not have died on the cross unless He had first come to Earth and revealed the way to be reconciled with the Father and delivered from sin unto salvation. And Christ would not have come unless God had not first decided to send a redeemer before time began. And it is the Holy Spirit which now convicts the whole world regarding sin. And no one could come unless the Father drew all through Christ’s death on the cross. And no one would be granted salvation, even for repentance and faith, unless God first made that the gracious condition.

        So there is an abundance of divine influence that happens for a person to be able to recognize their dire situation as a sinner under the certain penalty of death! And an abundance of divine influence that help the sinner to see the provision of the Father (testimony, nature, scripture, etc.)

        But why do you see a need for personal repentance to be divinely caused or set in motion beyond all the sufficient graces God has already given? And don’t just repeat that the ‘dead’ sinner can’t repent and turn in faith. If you believe that is what dead in sin means, you need to show a scripture which states that or logically mandates it.

    2. Sorry JTL,

      Once again I cant quite understand what you are saying.

      Anyway, Christ said He came to heal the sick. I think most people who are reading the Bible would realize that we are “like sick” and “like dead” (figurative) in that we cannot heal ourselves. We need the grace of God and He provides it….and when Christ “was lifted up He called all men” to that grace. Praise God!

      1. FOH, you now sound like a Calvinist in your statement. This might be an expression of honesty because you are a former Calvinist.. Praise God… you say… He called all men to that grace – [It was God’s first initiative right ?… not the dead man’s self-initiative to come to come back to God on his own]

        Christ came to seek and to heal – not vice versa.

        Christ even said: You did not choose me, but I choose you… [not all men have been picked. Christ has been lifted up already-resurrected, but it would be silly to think, teach and conclude that all humanity will go to heaven]

  18. I just want to respond to this item posted above in this thread :

    “The Father explains to the servants and the older brother that the younger brother “was dead, and has begun to live; was perishing, but has been found.” I’m not really sure why English translations favor the word ‘lost’ other than it is a nice contrast with ‘found’ – but ‘lose’ doesn’t quite capture the sense of the Greek. He was ‘lost’ because in his former state he was certain to perish. https://biblehub.com/greek/622.htm

    My Response :

    “… was perishing, but has been found” :

    Question: Who was able to find the prodigal son? If you will say he find himself so that he was able to go home – this is unbiblical. My claim to this issue is that there was a divine intervention that made this prodigal son come to his senses, in order for him to be able to repent and to decide to come back home. He cannot do these things in his previous state because as what you have said: “he was certain to perish in his former state”. [the fallen man, the “one born in the flesh is flesh” according to Christ, the dead in sin, separated from God – needs to be born again, enliven his dead spiritual life – this is something that no man can do for himself except God alone]

  19. Jenai posted these 2 items : My Response are the ones written inside the bracket.

    # 1. “How can you say it is an unrelated verse or unrelated to the dead state of an unbeliever, when the verses just prior detail that their past unbelieving selves were ‘ruled by the flesh’ and ‘dead in their sins’ and the ‘law stood against them?’ And Paul’s argument is that it is through baptism that God makes the believer alive (see also Rom 6:1-14), the believer is forgiven, etc.’

    [Jenai, what you are trying to contend is about the unbelievers, not the believers in Christ. It would be immaterial for you to try proving the previous state condition when the believers are no longer in that state.]

    # 2. “Pretty sure my Eph 1:4 was actually meant to be Eph 2:1-5, but even Eph 1:4 sheds light. Why? Because if those in Christ (believers) were chosen before the foundation of the world to be Holy and without blame, it stands to reason that unbelievers are not holy and are with blame. There would be no reason to set a rule that those in Christ would be made holy if the state of all was holy to begin with.”

    [Jenai, I want you to know that my position is : No one of us was born holy nor righteous. I keep on saying that since we were inside our mothers womb we are already having that infected sinful nature in a dormant condition. It is then activated after birth. There is no need for us to argue in your statement # 2. You can argue with that with Ed Chapman because his doctrine is that : He was born righteous when he came out of this world.]

    1. Bottom line…..Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Always let Scripture be your final court of decision. Act 17:11

  20. So are Arminians at least 1 point Calvinists then since they seem to hold to the Calvinist Total Depravity (Total Inability)?

    1. I cannot answer for Arminians for sure, but will try.

      I believe they hold to TD/TI, but then add to that, that ALL men are subsequently enabled (prevenient grace). So…. it’s kind of a wash. No one can come…but He enables all me to come (but does not make that irresistible).

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