Is Faith An Effectual Gift?

by Isaac Barrett

This review will analyze John Piper’s four main arguments in his exegesis of Ephesians 2:8-9. Two of these arguments, he makes from outside the text in question. One argument is from Ephesians and the others are from Philippians and 1 Corinthians. This first article in the series will focus on those external arguments. Piper believes that this passage, and others, directly teach that faith is effectually given or is a gift from God. Effectual faith, according to Piper, is given by God, and an individual cannot resist this gift.  Faith happens when God changes the will of an individual. Piper concludes that there is nothing an individual can do to have faith. 

Piper’s exegesis can be found from this video entitled, “Is Faith a Gift of God?“. His arguments will come with timestamps as references.

First, the text of Ephesians 2: 8-9 (ESV):

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

The basic argument John Piper will be making is that faith in Christ is an effectual gift and that, outside this effectual gift, man has no ability to have faith in Christ. For his first stab at proving his case, Piper turns to the preceding paragraph:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

Eph 2: 1-7 (ESV)

Dead Like a Corpse is Dead

Timestamp: 3:47
Piper’s first argument is that ‘dead’ means ‘corpse like’ and therefore ‘faith must be a gift’. He points to verse 5 where it says “even when we were dead in our trespassesmade us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”. Piper believes that dead means a complete inability towards God. This is the foundational argument behind the doctrine of Total Depravity or Absolute Inability. Under this doctrine, it is believed that man must be given grace in order to be enabled to believe. This grace is described as an inner working of the Holy Spirit, not merely hearing the Gospel. The claim is that we must be made alive in order to be able to put our faith in Christ. Dead men can’t do anything, including believing, repenting, or having faith.

The problem with the corpse like dead argument is that the Bible clearly defines spiritual deadness as a separation:

Death As Separation

Isaiah 59 ESV
your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear

Luke 15:24, 32 ESV
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found
for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found

Romans 6:11 ESV
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

James 2:26 ESV
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead

Genesis 35:18 ESV
And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.

St. Clement Of Alexandria 190AD
death is the separation of the soul from the body
Death is the fellowship of the soul in a state of sin with the body, and life is separation from that sin.”

Unless we assume that Paul offers no clarity to the text of Eph 2: 8-9 in the surrounding verses, we cannot ignore that this is what Paul has to say about separation in the sentences immediately following the passage Piper is exegeting:

Ephesians 2:11-19 ESV
“…— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall…so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross,…18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God

Biblically all forms of death are a separation. Physical death is the separation of body from soul. Spiritual death is man’s separation from God. Believers are supposed to be separated from sin, yet we are still able to sin. Piper’s interpretation focuses on characteristics of a corpse, instead of the separation. He then applies these characteristics to us in order to say that we can’t respond to God positively at all. The problem is that there is no verse that actually says this or one that compares spiritual death to a corpse. The Bible uses many words to refer to our fallen spiritually dead condition, including being “separated“, “alienated“, “strangers“, “far off“, “lost“, and having God’s face hidden from you. Adam and Eve died the day they ate the fruit, but their death was a spiritual separation from God. They had to leave the presence of God. It didn’t mean they couldn’t hear God, as they and their children spoke with God after being separated. Being spiritually alive is defined as “alive”, “brought near“, “made us both one [us & Christ]”, “reconciled“, “found“, “fellow citizens”. 

The definition of death as only corpse like is a definition that ignores the spirit. To the Israelites, physical death meant that person’s spirit was separated from its body. Their spirits are in Sheol while their corpses remain here. When you are dead, you are not simply a corpse, you are a spirit and a corpse. The parable of the prodigal son provides us with a full application of this Biblical definition from a soteriological perspective. The son was “dead, and is alive”, he was “lost, and is found“. Piper’s argument that spiritually dead means corpse is not directly supported scripturally. So far, it does not seem sufficient to claim that faith is effectually given by God, let alone that Ephesians 2:8-9 specifically teaches it. Deuteronomy 30 has the opposite order where the Israelites are commanded to repent and return (notice implication of separation) to the Lord. Only then, does God “circumcise your heart”, which is being made alive. We are not made alive in order to repent and return.

Can the Dead Not Have Faith?

There is an underlying assumption of John Piper’s that cannot go unchallenged. He assumes that the spiritually dead cannot have faith. But is that so?

In the text of Eph 2: 8-9, there is no direct connection of being “dead in trespasses” to faith. Actually, verse 4-5 support the opposite conclusion. The statement, “made us alive together with Christ”, is immediately followed with a disclaimer that this being made alive is to be saved by grace. Immediately prior, it says that this saving happened “even when we were dead in our trespasses“ (i.e. spiritually dead). We were spiritually dead at the time that we were saved by grace. Verse 8 & 9 then clarify that this grace that saves is received by “faith”. If we need to be made alive in order to have faith then we would have to be saved in Christ before having faith. The problem is, you cannot be in Christ without faith. Piper’s interpretation flips the order that is clearly seen in the text. This is done in order to claim that faith must be a gift from a logical perspective.

Faith As a Gift Outside of Ephesians 2

Timestamp:  10:33 

Piper argues that there are other passages that show faith is an effectual gift:

Philippians 1:29 says it has been “granted” to you to “not only believe in Him”, “but to suffer for His sake”.  Therefore, faith is a gift in Paul’s understanding.
1 Corinthians 1:28-31 says that “God chose what is low and despised” so that “no human being might boast” (same concern as Ephesians 2) and that “from Him you are in Christ”.  It is from God that we are in Christ Jesus, we did not put ourselves in Christ Jesus.  From God you are grafted into Christ Jesus. You didn’t raise yourself from the dead (i.e. Lazarus) and therefore you didn’t create your faith.  Don’t rob God of the glory in saving us, including of giving us saving/effectual faith.

To Grant Means to Enable

Piper assumes that the word “granting” means the exact same thing as the word “gift”, and therefore saving faith is effectually given to us. Under Sola Scriptura, if Paul meant gift, he would have written gift. Instead, Paul wrote granted, which means enabling or allowing. We can safely assume that Paul used a different word because it has a different meaning. Did God enable or allow us to believe in His Son?  Absolutely! He sent his Son to die as the propitiation for the sins of the whole world and then He sent messengers into the world proclaiming the Gospel that we might hear it and to be received by faith. If a father is “granting” permission to a man to marry his daughter, did the father effectually make the man propose or ask for permission? No, he did not (that is called a shotgun wedding). Granting simply does not mean effectual causality. Did God causally give suffering to the Corinthian church?  No, but He enabled/allowed his children to both believe and suffer for His sake. If God didn’t give the suffering to the church, then why would we assume that he gave faith to them? Concluding that Paul understands faith as being effectually given because he uses term enabled/allowed, seems incorrect.

Faith Does Not Make You Alive

Piper confuses the regeneration process of being made alive with a person having faith. He says ‘we did not put ourselves in Christ Jesus’, which is true. The Bible makes it clear that this happens by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:4,8 “[God] made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved… through faith”). Being made alive or regenerated is the work that saves us and it happens by grace.  Romans makes it clear that our faith is “counted as righteousness”. Faith is the first event, in this verse, as it says that the gift of salvation by grace is “to be received by faith”. Faith itself does not make anybody alive. 

Piper asserts that we “didn’t raise [ourselves] from the dead and therefore you didn’t create your faith”.  The problem with his analysis is the order of events. Romans and Ephesians say we are to receive the gift of justification/salvation, which is to be made alive in Christ, through faith. If faith comes before regeneration, how can one conclude that in order to have faith we must first raise ourselves from the dead? Piper’s assertion seems to be a direct contradiction to Paul’s writings. Our faith itself does not save us and does not justify us. God makes faith a requirement to Him to justify, regenerate, and to save us. In no way can we assert that faith itself has the power to raise us from the dead. Faith without God’s work is a meaningless dirty rag. Faith itself is powerless.

Deuteronomy 30 reaffirms this order. It says first “return to the Lord your God… and obey his voice” and “then the Lord your God will… have mercy on you… And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart”. Piper, as well as many others with his position, assert that the circumcision of the heart is regeneration.  They leave out the fact that God says he will do this only after they return to Him and obey his commands. God making us spiritually alive allows us to become like Him through the work of sanctification, but is not necessary to have faith. All of God’s work occurs after we respond in faith. 

When we put their faith in Christ, God says that He will make us spiritually alive in Christ. If our faith was the result of free will, would that rob God glory? Since faith is not a work, is non-meritorious, is not worthy of boasting, and is not under the law of works but the law of faith, then no! Romans 4 profoundly affirms that the faith credited to Abraham gave the glory to God. God did all of the work to save us and God gets all of the glory. The only time God is robbed of glory is when our salvation is not sought through faith. God monergisticly saves us because He does all of the work. The only thing we do is to have faith to receive God’s work. God commands us to believe, repent, and to live by faith and that is what we must do.

God Chooses What is Wise, Not Who is Saved

1 Corinthians 1 is a passage that is specifically focused on wisdom. It does not state that ‘faith is a gift’ or discuss the origin of faith. It focuses on the pursuit of human wisdom by the Greeks. Paul compares and contrasts human wisdom to God’s wisdom saying that we do “not know God through [human] wisdom”, but that “it pleased God through the [human] folly of what we preach to save those who believe”. Paul is talking about the nature and origin of the wisdom the Corinthian Christians are drawing from to help steel them against their culture who is telling them their behavior is foolish. God’s decision to save those who believe and humble themselves, and calling them to subsequently live out His revealed wisdom, is foolishness to the world, just like it is in modern culture. By doing this, “God made foolish the wisdom of the world”. When he writes “because of [God] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption”, Paul is speaking about being made alive and justified.  All of this happens through faith. This passage does not appear to support a deterministic interpretation of the nature of faith.

So far, we’ve shown that Piper’s references outside of Eph 2: 8-9 are not sufficient to establish his case. In the next installment in this series, we’ll dive into the text of Eph 2:8-9 itself and evaluate the grammar and sentence structure as well as Piper’s arguments for why these two verses teach faith as an effectual gift. Stay tuned!

65 thoughts on “Is Faith An Effectual Gift?

  1. Another reason the corpse analogy is fallacious. They claim a corpse can’t hear, respond, seek, do good etc…

    They stop there. While I agree a corpse can’t do any of those things, neither can a corpse sin, ignore something, make a decision, or rebel against anything.

    The analogy fails because it cannot be consistently applied to all actions and all characteristics of an actual corpse.

    1. Thanks so much Isaac. Seems like there may be a (dead 😉 duck and rabbit question here. BTW, apologies I have so many things to say and your post deserves a careful response, but I am so busy with other stuff today. Perhaps you make some of the points I am making. Eph 2:8-10 hits close to home for me though, since reading that is what saved me from (Lutheran) determinism. i was always taught works righteousness, which is a different gospel (Galatians 1-3, eg this is “Who has bewitched you?” , drop-dead serious stuff).

      Not really sure how Piper can miss the concept that Paul is writing to living people, when he flat out says “And you were dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). If “Dead is Dead!” then Paul is writing to those that have literally died??? Naw, at least for the last 20 or so years since I’ve been saved, I have always assumed Paul meant “doomed” more than dead. As in “Dead man walking!” from the movie, The Green Mile.

      That makes perfect sense all the way back to Genesis 3, when the devil tells Eve “you will not surely die” in a day (a 24 hour yom), but she did surely die (in a thousand year yom). Paul tells Timothy this is deceit, but God never deceived her (not trying to pump my new site, but there is more background at :).

      I probly have too much to comment on this, but similarly in 1 Tim 6:4, the rabbit pops up again. Perhaps it could be interpreted differently, but when a Lutheran asks “What do you mean by faith?” (as if even pistis in the Little Kittle wasn’t clear enough) I see the determinists “doting about questions and strifes of words…” For me, how dare they use a different dictionary and the same vocabulary. Total deceit to me. Pit of hell stuff. (sorry, Leighton, I’m trying to be cordial over here:).

      1. Since I can’t edit, my apologies that I did not seem to understand the depth of the weirdness here, re: what Calvinists mean when they say “Dead is dead!” I am understanding now that they acknowledge that the dead can be regenerated, but I am no where near understanding exactly how (and I guess I don’t need to know anyway).

        How on earth can they mince words like this and not feel convicted? Seems like they are trying to “bufallo the sheep”? Seems like their conscience has been seared with a hot iron? May God have mercy…

      2. TULIP is claimed by Calvinist as a doctrine that properly divides the Word of God, and explains the Gospel. What it really is is a doctrine that explains divine causal determinism and then fits it to the Bible.

        Instead of considering that divine causal determinism may be false, they presuppose that it is true. They then used that presupposition to read the Bible, and when they came upon a verse that affirmed it, they called it a proof text. When they found one that contradicts DCD they changed the meaning of the text.

        Then they formed a “cohesive” system (TULIP) to explain why DCD is what the Bible teaches. It all goes back to hanging on to that presupposition.

      3. br.d
        It is critical to understand that a great deal of Calvinist statements are designed as red-herrings.

        If you are familiar with that term – it is used to describe a fox hunt – and something that is designed to get the hounds off the scent of the fox in order to give the fox time to achieve distance.

        The hunters would be totally bored if the hounds surrounded the fox at the onset of the hunt.
        They want plenty of time to savor the whole experience.

        So the red-herring is designed to get your focus in a direction where it can be controlled.

        One of Calvinism’s favorite red-herrings is getting your focus on the state of man’s nature – with their private definitions of things like “Total Depravity” and “Dead”.

        The strategy is to control your focus and keep it on something the Calvinist controls – in order to keep you from seeing something he DOESN’T want you to see.

        The whole business of Calvinism’s “Total Depravity” and “Dead” are simply a strategies of obfuscation.

        What the Calvinist does not want you to see – is that per the underlying doctrine of decrees – the state of creation – (including man’s nature) at every nano-second in time – is 100% meticulously predestined and FIXED by infallible decree.

        Creation cannot possibly be other than what it was decreed to infallibly be.
        Man’s nature cannot possibly be other than what it was decreed to infallibly be

        Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by Calvinism’s deceptive strategies of misdirection.

        Calvinists soon discover they can trick unsuspecting Christians very easily.
        It is all to easy to draw unsuspecting Christians into spider’s webs of Calvinist design.

        He needs to control your focus.
        He needs to keep you from seeing things about his doctrine – which if you clearly see – you won’t be lured into his corral.

      4. So true, as a recent discussion with a Calvinist demonstrated. He refused to acknowledge that the essential difference between his Calvinist theology and non-Calvinism is whether God desires, and provides the opportunity for ALL or only SOME to be saved from sin and death. After endless deflections, obfuscations, distractions, etc., the best I could pull out of him was ‘We wouldn’t frame it that way.’ Yeah, no kidding.

        He wanted to talk about God’s ‘holiness’, God’s ‘justice’ or anything other than the fact that, A2C, God only loves and desires to save a select few, and all others have absolutely no opportunity or ability EVER for anything but sin and destruction.

      5. Great post TS00!

        How to watch a Calvinist change himself into a greased pig in 5 micro-seconds! 😀

        What he didn’t want to tell anyone is:

        1) When it comes to the eternal destiny of all human creatures – Calvin’s god has only 2 decrees

        2) His first and foremost decree is “THE DEATH DECREE”

        3) This is where he creates/designs the vast majority of his creatures for eternal torment in a lake of fire – for his good pleasure.

        4) His second decree – is simply his decision to save a FEW creatures from his first decree.

        He is not saving souls from sin.
        He is not saving souls from themselves
        He is saving them from his decree.

        So what the Calvinist calls “Grace” is Calvin’s god using a decree to save people from a decree!

        Calvinists have their own private definitions for everything! :-]

    2. As we would say in Ireland, “Yer dead right.”
      You wrote: “The analogy fails because it cannot be consistently applied to all actions and all characteristics of an actual corpse.”

      They are unwilling to make the “necessary inferences” that everybody else makes about corpses. But this is what happens when people not only ignore common sense, but also the bible’s explanation of what it means to be dead even though you are alive. Again, it is so true what you say, they are inconsistent because it suits them to only deal with half truths rather than face the whole.

      1. I’d sure appreciate that the mocking politics was modded out. And FYI, I’m more conservative than anyone I know.

  2. Also, from what I learned, Greek words are gendered, and if one word signifies another, it has to be the same gender, such as if “gift” was referring to “faith” then the genders must match. But they don’t. Apparently, faith is female, so gift should be female if faith is the gift. But it’s not. It’s neuter. Therefore it’s not referring specifically to faith as the gift. In fact, grace is female too, so gift isn’t referring specifically to that either.

    This blows the Calvinist idea that God gives the gift of faith to certain prechosen people out of the water. Because faith isn’t the gift. The gift is the whole thing, the offer of salvation by grace through faith. And it is offered to all and can be accepted by anyone.

    1. Why, one wonders, do Calvinists like Piper strive so to deny that grace has been offered to all men, and can be readily received by all who believe? It’s not like they don’t understand this, for this is the way most believers interpret scripture – including most Calvinists at one time in their lives. And they have surely, at least the teachers, heard the alternative interpretations of scripture that render Calvinism unnecessary.

      So, it seems, they desperately want to be a part of an elite club. Like junior high girls striving to be part of the ‘in crowd’. True fact: I found that junior high nonsense both childish and unhealthy. Because I had high grades and was involved in extracurricular activities, a lot of my friends were in the ‘in crowd’ but my best friend, and many others, were not. And I made an effort to be friendly and accepting to all – particularly the unlovely and unloved.

      Seems like the Spirit of God within me, since my early childhood, encouraged me to love all men, just as He did. Nothing in the world would convince me that He had an elite ‘in crowd’, reserved for a special few, while all others were rejected and considered less valuable. Nothing.

      1. Well said, TS00. I think it’s both man’s need to feel special, unique, above others, and his desire to feel more intelligent than others, that he found out “secrets” no one else knows, and his need to think he is more honoring/pleasing to God than others. I think it all comes down to pride, disguised as humility. Or maybe it’s insecurity and low self-esteem.

        To say God loves all and Jesus died for all and all can be saved puts us all in the same boat. And Calvinism can’t accept that.

        But there’s nothing new under the sun: It’s just like the Pharisees and teachers of the Law and Jews back in the day (and so many cults today) who thought they were special and above others, that they alone had God’s favor and spiritual wisdom/truth.

        And Calvinism is one-upmanship. If we think sovereign means God is in control over all (watching over all, deciding what to allow or not and how to work things together for good), they one-up us by saying sovereign means God controls all. If we think God plans some things, they go farther, thinking He plans everything. If we say man is depraved, they say we’re so totally depraved we can’t do anything good at all unless God causes it, even wanting/seeking God. If we think God will be glorified in spite of evil, they take it to the next level and say He is glorified by evil.

        It’s all about setting themselves apart from others, above others. And their delight in being “chosen” comes at the expense of the souls of millions of others. It’s sad. And so destructive to God’s character, Jesus’s sacrifice, and the true gospel.

      2. When the genuine, simple, life-saving truth, which every single living individual needs to hear is: “I love you, have always loved you and always desired that you not perish, but turn from wickedness and live.” That’s why Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, because the heart of God is love, not narcissistic glory seeking.

      3. I said something similar, and it was pointed out I was being too harsh, but I did make the point of pride. Where this is harsh is there are different “levels” of Calvinists. There are the dogmatic experienced Pastors, Elders and members of the congregation who are studied and spread it, and even argue in defense of it. These are the prideful ones.

        Then there are those who believe it as it is all they have been taught and don’t really seek or question, and don’t think of the logical implications. They just are trying to honor God the best they know how.

        Then there are those who don’t even realize what is being taught because of how indirectly it is taught through double speak and subtle deception.

      4. A2A: You took the words out of my mouth. In fact, as I was just driving home, I was thinking I needed to modify my comment to say exactly what you pointed out.

        Some of my favorite friends are (unfortunately) Calvinists (but we don’t talk anymore after we left that church). They were/are some of the nicest, most humble, God-fearing, gentle people I know. I think there is a big difference between the sheeple in the congregation who have been brainwashed, shamed, manipulated into Calvinism and those who teach it and do the manipulating.

        Many of the good sheeple are sincerely trying to do their best to be the good Calvinists that the Calvinist leaders teach them to be. But it’s the teachers, the educated higher-ups, the MacArthurs and Sprouls and Whites and even the local domineering Calvinist pastors, that I am talking about. They – many of them – are the ones who I think have a pride-disguised-as-humility or insecurity problem. And that’s why they need to find a bunch of followers who hang onto their every word and who run to THEM for the answers that can easily be found in the Bible (answers that the Calvinist leaders twist until they don’t match the Bible anymore).

        When I critique Calvinists in general, it’s usually about the dogmatic, teacher-type ones, not the average person in the pew who I think is a victim of the domineering leaders. I pray that those in the congregation will wake up and pay attention to what’s being taught to them, to stop letting the higher-ups spoon-feed them twisted Scripture full of poison.

      5. It is the arrogance too. I teach this because it is what the Bible teaches. It doesn’t have to make sense, but it is true. There aren’t really any good reasons given by the Calvinist as to WHY their theology is true, just that it is (because of a few verses).

        The non-calvinist, from what I have seen, doesn’t claim their interpretation as absolute truth, but rather gives reasons on why what they believe fits together with the Bible and is consistent. We don’t say “It doesn’t make sense, but it is true!”. We say, this set of beliefs and interpretations makes more sense, and DOESN’T have logical inconsistencies while fitting with the Bible.

      6. A2A: “this set of beliefs and interpretations makes more sense, and DOESN’T have logical inconsistencies while fitting with the Bible.”


        TS00″ “When the genuine, simple, life-saving truth, which every single living individual needs to hear is: “I love you, have always loved you and always desired that you not perish, but turn from wickedness and live.” That’s why Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, because the heart of God is love,”

        And amen again! How sad and lacking the Calvinist half-gospel is because this isn’t part of it.

  3. Can Piper define what faith is, before he concludes that it is a gift?

    Second, in order to be dead, you must first have been alive. Death only happens to the living.

    I believe it’s 1 Cor 15:51 which states that the strength of sin is the law.

    If that is true, then sin has no power where there is no law.

    Romans 5:13, a verse that is ignored by everyone, on both sides states… well, you look it up.

    Ed Chapman

    1. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” is 1 Cor 15:56, but that’s close (FYI Google is far better at looking up verses than any Bible search I’ve ever found).

      I appreciate your first two points too.

      Rom 5:13 is part of a big package of deep theology. NASB20 seems to use sin, transgression and offense for Adam’s same act. Anyway, a lot of this problem tracks back to Augustine’s definition of Original Sin, which most people understand is kooky:)

      1. Eric,

        Thank you. I was trying to go off memory. John 3:98, For God so loved the world… lol.

        Yes. Augustine was completely wrong on original sin, and Pelegian, or whatever his name is, was close… but he was condemned. If I were alive in those days, I’d be a dead man.

    2. Most reformed folks would be declared heretics. It’s funny hearing James White say that Martin Luther would have him ex-communicated or killed over infant baptism.

      1. The problem with church fathers!!

        Now, I’m not reformed, nor a Baptist.

        I look at this:

        Deuteronomy 1:39

        Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

        Then I look at:

        Romans 7:7-9
        7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
        8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
        9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

        Now. Paul “died” once he knew the law. Children don’t know sin. They are not taught the law in Judaism until bar/bat mitzvah.

        Until then, their parents are responsible for the children’s sins.

        But, church fathers… people still listen to them for some odd reasons. They aren’t fans of Jews in any way, shape, or form.

        Ed Chapman

  4. The other thing missing, regarding the correct explanation that Adam died a spiritual death, meaning separation from God, is that this separation was only temporary, because it was restored based on killing of an animal, in which skins were used to cover their shame.

    So to continue that God/ man relationship, God taught them that a sacrifice was needed.

    And that’s also how the Jews maintained that relationship as well.

    In other words, even tho they were spiritually dead, sacrifice “covered” their sins… until Jesus could finally take them away.

    Calvinists only tell 1/4 of the story.

    The other side misses things, too.

    Ed Chapman

    1. Before I had even studied this or heard the Calvinist interpretation, just my own reading of the Bible, I didn’t take those verses to mean literally completely dead like a corpse. I took it more to mean doomed, or fate was sealed (save for accepting Christ). So the second we sinned our first sin the wages we earned for it was death.

      There was nothing we could do to change that. No amount of good deeds, no amount of work, no amount of saying “I’m sorry”. In the court we were “found guilty” of the crime of sin. Our punishment of death was certain. So while there was nothing WE could do to change it, Christ did. He took our punishment for us with work HE did, not work we did.

      We just have to have faith He did that and offered that pardon for us. Since Paul clearly explained faith is not a work, it still falls in line with us not being able to save ourselves.

      1. A couple things.

        1. What was the name of the Tree in the garden?

        The first time you ever sinned doesn’t impute the sin.

        Knowledge of the sin does, however.

        That’s why the name of that tree is important.

        1 John 3:4
        … sin is transgression of the law.

        Romans 3:21
        … the law is the knowledge of sin.

        Romans 7:7-9
        …I had not known sin but by the law.

        2. Works is only pertaining to the law of Moses.

        The phrase ” Good Works” is not what “Works” means.

        Altho there is no about of good Works that one can be saved, that is true, but the whole use of the word Works only pertains to the law of Moses. All the does and don’ts.

        Now, as far as death, the article correctly states that death is when your spirit leaves your body.

        James 2:26 states that as well.

        Now, contrast that with spiritual death.

        That’s when God’s spirit departs you.

        Eternal life is when God’s spirit returns to your body.

        That is a spiritual resurrection.

        That is what born again means. Note the word again?

        That has nothing to do with flesh at all. Not the first time, and not the again time, either.

        1. Your Spirit in your body is life.

        2. Your spirit plus God’s spirit in your body is spiritual life.

        We all had spiritual life before knowledge of sin.

        We died. We weren’t born dead.

        They have not interpreted David’s conception correctly.

        Ed Chapman

    Once upon a time – there was a divine robot creator in the sky
    He created 100 robots to live and move and have their being on planet earth.
    All 100 robots were given the GIFT of an infallibly decreed program.
    Since it was a program of infallible decrees – it could not be countervailed.
    The program was IRRESISTIBLE

    One of the sub-routines within the divine program was called the DEAD IN TOTAL DEPRAVITY AND HATE GOD sub-routine.
    This part of the program made it the case that all 100 robots would be infallibly DEAD and infallibly TOTALLY DEPRAVED and infallibly HATE GOD
    Consequently – all 100 robots were born IRRESISTIBLY hating god by infallible decree.

    However – the divine robot creator – intended for one robot to be saved from the DEAD IN TOTALLY DEPRAVITY AND HATE GOD program.

    So the divine creator gave this robot a GIFT OF FAITH
    He removed the DEAD IN TOTAL DEPRAVITY AND HATE GOD sub-routine – and replaced it with the GIFT OF FAITH sub-routine.

    And just as it is for all robots – the program is a program of infallible decrees which cannot be countervailed.

    Thus the GIFT OF FAITH sub-routine – just as all programs are – is IRRESISTIBLE

    Thus 100 robots are divinely and infallibly controlled by programs which are IRRESISTIBLE

    But the “Good News” is – DEAD IN TOTAL DEPRAVITY AND HATE GOD robots – can be saved by IRRESISTIBLE GRACE :-]

    1. I am OK with mocking Semi-Gnostics, to a degree. Seems like someone should make an app that displays responses to all their nonsense. I suppose that wouldn’t seem very Christian though…

  6. Calvinists always say “dead people can’t seek God”.
    But Amos 5:4 says: “Seek me and live …”
    If these people are not yet “alive” then they are currently dead. And yet God is telling them to seek Him. I guess dead people can seek! And more than that, God expects them to.

    1. br.d
      There is one more option.

      Option 3:

      Calvin’s god treats what he knows to be TRUE *AS-IF* it is FALSE

      For example:
      Calvin’s god knows that he infallibly decrees person_X will NOT seek him
      But he communicates the opposite to person_X.
      Thus he treats what he knows to be TRUE *AS-IF* it is FALSE

      Calvin’s god knows he infallibly decreed Adam will eat the fruit and no other options is granted to Adam.
      But he communicates the opposite to Adam
      Thus he treats what he knows to be TRUE *AS-IF* it is FALSE

      Calvin’s god knows he infallibly decreed Cain would murder Able and no other option is granted to Cain. But he communicates the opposite to Cain.
      Thus he treats what he knows to be TRUE *AS-IF* it is FALSE

      etc etc etc.

      The question then becomes – where does this pattern come from?

      Two options:
      1) Calvin received divine knowledge of the divine pattern by his super-Apostle divine revelation
      2) Calvin simply created a god after his own image

      Which option would be the most probable? :-]

  7. Calvin sanctioned the 10/27/1553 burning of Michael Servetus, because Servetus taught against Calvin’s understanding of the Trinity.
    Luther led an army to persecute and kill Anabaptists, because Anabaptists refused to baptize their infant children.

    My questions are these:
    1) Would God save and seal men who committed the above atrocities?
    2) Could these men have committed these atrocities if they were being led by the Spirit?
    Note: Without the indwelling Holy Spirit they could not understand the things of God. 1 Cor. 2:14

    I maintain Calvin and Luther were “false prophets dressed in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly ravenous wolves”.as forewarned by our Lord. Matthew 7:15

    Jesus taught, A bad tree cannot produce good fruit and a good tree cannot produce bad fruit; by their fruit you will know them. Matthew 7:16-18,20.
    Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Matthew 7:19

    Choose good trees with good fruit for your doctrine, for they are being led and taught by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
    Reject bad trees and bad fruit for they cannot understand the things of God.

    1. Amen, and Hallelujah! Both those brought forth Catholic baggage, and did not do any favors for the reformation. Those outside of Catholicism, Luther, and Calvin had things more correct than those three sects ever did. And they were condemned.

      John 16:2
      They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.

    2. 1saved
      1) Would God save and seal men who committed the above atrocities?

      Yes – if their consciences were not seared with a hot iron – such that their consciences could no longer be convicted by the Holy Spirit sufficient to repent

      2) Could these men have committed these atrocities if they were being led by the Spirit?

      Absolutely not!
      They were under the influence and deception of the spirit of the age.
      That spirit which rules all principalities and powers within every age.

      We must remember – both Luther and Calvin were the product of Catholicism.

  8. I didn’t know how to leave a random comment so whilst this might not totally fit this article I thought I’d dive in here.

    I was bought up Welsh Presbyterian though haven’t followed that way myself. However, passages and thoughts on election and predestination have haunted me down the years. The whole issue reared its ugly head for me earlier this year and thankfully I came across Soteriology101. Great content and I learnt a new, clever sounding word! I’ve literally saturated myself with info and to be honest have learnt so much more about calvinism than I already knew. None of what I’ve learnt makes me any less horrified by the idea it might be true but I know that feeling warm and fuzzy is not a good test of doctrinal soundness.

    I got the books about the roots of Augustinian calvinism and The Potters Promise and really enjoyed reading both. However, as soon as I got to the end of the latter book and it suggested reading Romans 9 to 11 I got the wind up again. I can really see how someone even with no calvinistic background could see limited salvation in there. If Calvinism is true then I cannot see any hope of joy or peace. I honestly can even see why people with that believe would have kids. I have two and hope they’ll become firm believers. It’s hard enough knowing there’s no guarantees but on calvinism it’s a real Russian Roulette stake!

    This whole issue honestly terrifies me… I don’t find being a Christian the easiest thing anyway but truth isn’t about easy. But if Calvinism is true then I can’t even contemplate how to honestly worship. If it’s true I must believe it and submit to it but I can’t see how I can ever have ripening fruit of the Spirit as a result of it. Submission yes, fear yes, grief yes but not the things that Jesus seemed to want to bring… Like life to the full and peace and a light burden.

    How do you decide what’s true when Leighton is intelligent but so is Piper et al. And I’m in a totally different intellectual league where I have to read and re read things to get them to even begin to make sense sometimes. And if I go to the bible it just fuels my anxiety. So I sit on a very painful fence like a rabbit caught in headlights.

    Sorry this was so long…. I want to embrace truth, not stuff that is philosophically palatable. Thanks for listening.

    1. Hello Sian and welcome

      Your post was totally wonderful!!!
      Very thoughtful!

      What we all have for many years observed with Calvinism -is how it seeks to propagate itself. The Calvinist knows he will face a believer who has a Biblical understanding of God, and the divine nature, which entails a loving desire for his creatures well-being.

      The Calvinist knows – in order to indoctrinate such a person – he has to first tear down that person’s Biblical understanding – in order to replace it with Calvinism’s image of a “Good-Evil” deity who creates the vast majority of his creatures specifically for eternal torment – for his good pleasure.

      I would ask you to simply continue taking the careful steps you’ve wisely chosen to take so far.

      However – I personally do not have some of your burden.
      I was 30 years in the Lord before I became aware of the “Good-Evil” deity of Calvinism.
      So I have no problem reading any scripture at all

      My mind has never been conditioned to read scripture the way Calvinism conditions the mind to do.

      If that can be the case for me – then I believe it can be the case for you.
      I think perhaps the key for you will be something I found however.

      In examining Calvinism – I discovered it is in fact a doctrine of “Good-Evil”
      And it is the aspect of the doctrine – that the Calvinist has an extreme urgency to obfuscate.

      The Calvinist is a professing Christian.
      So he understands – dishonesty is not a fruit of Christ.
      But he cannot comply with the requirement for honesty – because if he tells the WHOLE TRUTH about his belief system – he know people will reject it – and so won’t he.

      So the practice of withholding the truth is critical for promoting and defending the doctrine.

      Not only must the Calvinist withhold the truth from others in order to make Calvinism acceptable – he must withhold the truth from himself.

      Consequently – many Calvinist statements function as lies of omission -in order to obfuscate aspects of the doctrine the Calvinist calculates people will reject.

      Many Calvinist statements entail ingenuously deceptive language designed to paint false pictures of things which underlying doctrine actually rejects.

      And many Calvinist statements entail a form of dishonesty known as “Altruistic Dishonesty”
      This is the dishonesty that you observe – for example – with a wife whose husband is abusive. She covers up for him. She is dishonesty – but for “Altruistic” reasons.

      As time goes by – I believe you will recognize those as critical tell-tale signs to look for within the Calvinist world-view.

      Those tell-tall signs have become a powerful antidote for me – against the poison of Calvinism.

      My prayer for you – is that the Lord will graciously give you the same insights he gave me and others – which function as such a powerful antidote to the poison of Calvinism!


    2. Hello Sian and welcome, great to hear from you.

      I understand the struggle. And that’s a good sign, because so many people just swallow Calvinism whole without questioning it or looking into it deeper.

      When Calvinism first took over our church under a new pastor, I freaked out, wondering if what he was saying could be true. Actually, first I raised my eyebrows like “What is he teaching!?!” Then I got alarmed like “THAT’S what he’s teaching!?!” Then I got concerned like “What if he’s right in what’s he’s teaching?” And then when I began to research it and see that so many big-name theologians are Calvinists, I freaked out, wondering if they were all right and I was the only one who thought Calvinism was wrong.

      Thankfully, I decided to look into one more pastor I always liked – Tony Evans (the pastor we watch online now that we left our church) – and I decided that if he agreed with Calvinism like everyone else then I would just have to accept it as true. But I was so relieved to see that he didn’t, that his teachings match up with the plain understanding of Scripture, which contradicts Calvinism. It gave me the courage and hope to go on, to continue in my beliefs that Calvinism was wrong and to keep researching why it’s wrong. (And of course, Sot101 is a big help and all the commenters here, as is Kevin Thompson from Beyond the Fundamentals.)

      Keep researching how Calvinism is wrong, how it twists the Bible, and how Calvinist pastors/theologians manipulate people into it. Any theology that relies on taking verses out of context, redefining biblical words/terms, and shaming people from questioning it ought to make us think that something must be wrong with it. (For my research into all this, check out my blog The more I’ve researched it, the more confident I am that Calvinism is totally wrong and damaging to God’s character and the gospel.)

      Remember it doesn’t matter how intelligent any teacher/pastor is. The Pharisees were super intelligent too, but super wrong. All that matters is if they accurately understand and teach Scripture, as it is written, plainly and clearly. And I think it is a huge red flag that Calvinism needs people to read big Calvinist books for months and months, being guided by Calvinist teachers, before they can begin to (supposedly) understand Scripture and the gospel. Is God that unclear in what He says in the Bible that He needs the help of Calvinist theologians to reword everything He said to make it “clearer”? Or is it only unclear because Calvinism messes it all up?

      God bless you on your journey to truth. Keep going, you are on the right path!

  9. Thanks so much Br.d…really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

    I don’t think I can edit my first post but I made a bit of a typo… typical for me 🙄 What I meant to say re having kids is that I can’t see how anyone with that belief, ie a calvinistic one, would want to have kids. The sheer randomness of election means you’d have to really dissociate your hopes and dreams from what you perceive to be a very real potential reality. If that makes sense.

    I want to sit and mull over all you’ve said… but wanted you to know I really appreciate your response and your empathy. I’m glad you’ve never come at scripture wired for condemnation… its not pleasant! It makes it very hard to listen to what God might be saying and adjusting thoughts appropriately. I once managed to feel told off by God just reading the ‘Be still and know that I am God’ verse… 😂 Actually it was cos I read the notes that said the original for BE STILL means STOP IT! A person who doesn’t have a condemnatory slant on the bible may well hear God gently saying ‘stop it… be still… be at peace!’ But I just heard ‘STOP IT!!!!!’ Like a stern, authoritarian grown up would say it. That’s why I believe it’s so important for core beliefs about God and His character and what the Bible really teaches about soteriology etc to be thoroughly worked out and correct. ( Yey… I got to use the new, long, clever sounding word!) If our beliefs are wonky, we’ll either be lulled into a false sense of security or terrified of God for reasons that are erroneous and insulting to Him. I do hope I end up fully believing that I’ve fallen into the latter camp rather than being convinced that calvinism must be true. And to counter the response that says, ” Who are you to question God. He is allowed to act however he wants…” I already know that…that’s what scares the living daylights out of me! 😱

    1. Thank you Sian,
      On you statement about having kids – it is highly understandable!

      And as a matter of fact – it is an aspect of the doctrine which no NORMAL human can avoid.

      But the human mind is extremely flexible.

      Take for example a girl who has spent the vast majority of her young life reading romance novels.
      Her bed-room is full of romance novels – and she has a particular set of novels that are special to her – which she reads over and over.

      She meets a boy at a party who pays a great deal of attention to her.
      Could this be the one she asks herself?
      He courts her – and eventually asks if he can move into her apartment.
      Of course she says yes! Her life-long dreams are coming true!

      A little later – her friends and parents start to notice she has bruises on her face and body.
      She tells them she is clumsy and has accidents.
      But they know what signs to look for – and they eventually recognize what is going on.

      When they confront her – they do so with loving kindness and with rational reasoning
      She adamantly rejects all of it.

      She will manufacture 1001 reasons why there is no problem
      She will not allow herself to see the truth.
      She has a belief that she is fully committed to – and she is not going to give it up.
      If her case turns out like most – the beatings and abuse will simply become worse and she will eventually be forced into reality.

      But in the mean time she lives *AS-IF* there is no problem.
      She goes about her daily life *AS-IF* she is in a loving normal relationship.

      As a second example – consider the man who adopts Solipsism as a belief system.
      The doctrine stipulates that all persons outside of himself are figments of his imagination.

      But what happens when he is TRUE to his belief system?
      He knows – if he treats his wife as a figment of his imagination (especially in the bedroom) she is not going to take kindly to that. There will be consequences!

      He knows – if he treats his boss at work as a figment of his imagination – there will be consequences!

      So what does he do?
      He treats his wife *AS-IF* she is real – in order to avoid consequences his belief system imposes on him. He treats his boss *AS-IF* he is real – also to avoid consequences.

      And this is exactly what the Calvinist does also.
      Solipsism is a radical belief system.
      In order to avoid its consequences – the believer must live *AS-IF* Solipsism is FALSE.

      Calvinism is just as much a radical belief system
      In order for the Calvinist to retain a sense of human normalcy – and human personhood – he is forced to treat the doctrine *AS-IF* it is false.

      Like the Solipsist – he asserts the doctrine is TRUE.
      But he treats the doctrine *AS-IF* it is FALSE in order to avoid its consequences.

      As you become more familiar with Calvinism – you will eventually recognized – Calvinism’s language is a language of DOUBLE-SPEAK.

      Like the girl whose boyfriend is abusing her – the Calvinist lives *AS-IF* certain aspects of Calvinism are FALSE.

      Like the Solipsist who needs to avoid the consequences of his belief system – the Calvinist treats various aspects of his belief system *AS-IF* they are FALSE.

      That should answer your question – about how Calvinists can get married and have children and see no problem with making statements – like John Piper made concerning his children – when he stated he has no way of knowing if his children were created to be a part of the elect.

      What Piper is acknowledging – is that he has no way of knowing if his children were created specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire.

      But Piper cannot allow himself to be that honest.
      So he will try to frame the issue within language designed to obfuscate the “Evil” part of the doctrine
      And frame the issue within language designed to maximize an appearance of divine benevolence.

      The Calvinist has a “Love-Hate” relationship with the doctrine of decrees.

      Just like the young girl with her abusive boyfriend – the Calvinist – in order to evade the dark implications of the doctrine – conditions his mind to treat the doctrine *AS-IF* it is FALSE.

      He is forced to do that – in order to retain a sense of human normalcy and human person-hood


      1. Sian – I believe you are on the right track. I had a similar crises of faith when I started to dig into Determinism. As mentioned above, my family comes from a long line of Lutherans, so even after I left the church I still had a great deal of respect for Luther. You asked above, who do we believe (sorry it’s difficult to chase down exact quotes)? Well for me, I had to basically give up on Luther so I could believe the Bible. It’s not about Luther vs. Leighton vs. Calvin vs. Piper, it’s about the Word that outclasses them all. I recommend you give up on trusting people (as I found I was) and keep studying Romans 9-11 until it looks clear to you.

        You also mentioned a light burden, and Jesus does in fact bring that. That promise from Jesus ties in with Hebrews 3-4. Again I am not trying to pump my new site (ick, just found another typo), but I laid out a quick outline of Rest at . I have not plumbed the depth of predestination, and I don’t think Leighton or Paul has either, but we shouldn’t be expected to understand timelessness. I hope you find peace as you study His Word.

        And BRD – Thanks for your post as well. IMHO, I think the Determinist mindset is even darker than you mention. Despite Jesus extoling the virtues of light, here we have Determinists (like the hypocritical Gnostics before them) hiding their deepest teachings from the sheep. I think of Piper in the jail, where he angrily denounces an inmate for a very fair question, simply because Calvinism (as far as I can tell) is completely bankrupt on the issue.

        I was given basically the same response for decades. Frankly, even though it may not seem cordial, I would prefer that soteriology101 consider that Determinists are preaching Another Gospel (Galatians 1) and say so plainly. As it is wrong that the abuser keeps the abused in silence, and keeps his crimes in the darkness, so too that soteriology is too important to hide the light. Am I wrong here??? John 1, says Jesus is light. Apologies if I am not being sensitive enough about the internal politics of the SBC, but so be it. And apologies if I am harping on that point.

        I think of the blind leading the blind (as they both will fall into the ditch). My 2 cents, but I think the ministry should be geared more toward pulling the Sian’s out of Determinism, and warning the Baby Christians about Determinism, and less toward convincing the Young, Restless and Reformed of the error of their ways. To be honest, I see Mammon and pride that keep promoting the errors of Determinism, and that is why they keep abusing.

        Regardless, many, many blessings to this ministry.

      2. br.d
        Thank you Eric!
        And I thank the Lord that he delivered you out of Calvinism’s ensnarement! :-]

      3. I’m replying to Eric, but it’s generally to all:

        And this is hugely important, because Romans 9-11 is so controversial, and it’s all due to BOTH SIDES thinking it has to do with “predestination” or “total depravity”, or some kind of reformation doctrine about everyone.

        You can’t read Romans 9-11 like that at all.

        My goodness, it was the Jews only who was given the Law of Moses to seek THAT Righteousness. They were TOLD to seek that righteousness.

        And this is the answer they gave:

        Deuteronomy 6:25
        And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.

        Remember, God gave them THAT righteousness to follow. That righteousness wasn’t something that they just wanted to do. They were ORDERED to DO, to WORK.

        Deuteronomy 29:4
        Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

        And that is in Romans 11:8.

        So you can’t interpret Romans 9-11 as a reformation doctrine at all. It’s dealing with a certain people, and those people are not us lowly Gentiles.

        Romans 10:3
        For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

        They are “ignorant” of God’s righteousness.

        Romans 10:5
        For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.

        Romans 3:21
        But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

        The Jews “under the law of Moses” are blinded by that concept, and it is because they were ORDERED to abide by the righteousness of the law.

        And what is the purpose of the law of Moses?

        Romans 5:20
        Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

        The law was given to THEM “so that” sin would INCREASE, not DECREASE. It was so that Grace would have its meaning.

        And what will they (Jews under the law get in the END?

        Romans 11:31
        Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy “they” also may obtain mercy.

        Romans 11:32
        For God hath concluded “them” all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

        Romans 9-11 is about them, not us.

        Now, I previously referenced Deuteronomy 29:4 with ROMANS 11:8.

        Let’s now contrast that with the following:

        Romans 15:21
        But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.

        Do you see, that is for the Gentiles?

        So again, the Jews:

        Romans 11:8/Deu 29:4
        Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

        Conclusion, blind Jews, vs. Gentiles that can see. The only ones needing their blind to be healed is the Jews.

        John 9:39-41

        39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.

        40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?

        41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

        Pay very close attention to the last verse.

        I used to listen to Hank Hanegraaff on the radio, and I got so angry at him during one episode that I shut him off, and haven’t listened to him since. And I’m glad, because he later went to a different sect of Christianity that goes against the things he used to be the BIBLE ANSWER MAN for.

        But what got me angry was his statement that said, “God is not some kind of a ‘cosmic racist’. I thought to myself, this has nothing to do with racism at all.

        It’s that God CHOSE Israel to tell the story about himself, THRU Israel…hence Romans 9-11.

        All “reformers” from both sides, or all sides, needs to rid themselves that Romans 9-11 is about themselves. It’s not.

        Ed Chapman

      4. Also, if one reads Romans 9 properly, Paul is basically telling us that “expository preaching” is not all what it is cracked up to be today.

        The Jews were promised an inheritance of the physical land of Israel, thru Isaac. Promised Land and Seed.

        But that same promise is ALSO a spiritual promise of Land and Seed, the seed being Jesus (Galatians 3:16).

        But the Jews don’t see that spiritual interpretation at all. And that is what Romans 9 is laying out for us.

        Romans 9:8
        That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

        We are the children of God thru Jesus.

        But as the Bible also insists:

        Galatians 3:29
        And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

        Galatians 3:7
        Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

        Romans 9 is contrasting the spiritual from the carnal. This does not negate out that promised real estate in the middle east. All it does is tell the story that Isaac isn’t the spiritual promise, but Jesus is, and the inheritance is not a small piece of real estate in the middle east, but heaven.

        But the Jews are too blind to see that, all because they were ORDERED to follow the WORKS (Law of Moses) to obtain THAT righteousness to EARN a wage of eternal life…but the wages of sin is death. Therefore, the law of Moses was a set up for FAIL.

        And God knew it, based on Romans 5:20, that the law was given (TO JEWS, NOT GENTILES) to increase sin, not to decrease it.

      5. Good post, Brdmod. I think it’s telling the Piper’s son – Abraham – has totally abandoned the faith and gone the other direction, making nasty videos against Christianity. This is what happens to a lot of people (a lot of Christian musicians lately too) brought up under Calvinism.

        Sadly, they have been led to believe that Calvinism is gospel truth, and so they end up rejecting the gospel and God instead of just rejecting Calvinism and finding out the truth of what the Bible really teaches. We’ll never know the whole scope of damage done by Calvinism to the Church and people’s hearts, faiths, and eternities until heaven. But I am sure we can thank Calvinism for many of the atheists and damaged, struggling Christians out there. it’s sad.

      6. That’s unfortunate about Mr Piper’s son.
        But totally understandable

        At some point as a young man he may have listened to the tape of his father telling people he did not know if his god created his son for eternal torment for his good pleasure.

        Listening to my father tell people that would have been a special moment!

      7. Great post, Eric.

        And you said: ” Frankly, even though it may not seem cordial, I would prefer that soteriology101 consider that Determinists are preaching Another Gospel (Galatians 1) and say so plainly.”

        I totally agree! This is one thing I really like about Kevin Thompson from Beyond the Fundamentals; he doesn’t pussyfoot around or try to be overly gentle in opposing Calvinism.

        (I think it’s good that Leighton is more gentle, though, because different personalities speak to different people, so we need both the bold “call it like it is” ones and the gentler ones.)

        I agree with Kevin when he says that Calvinists will just use our politeness against us, and that’s one reason he speaks bluntly and calls it what it is plainly and clearly. If we are overly nice and gentle, concerned too much about hurting feelings or appearing harsh, Calvinists will just use that time and vagueness to continue pushing their theology in whatever ways they can.

        I think there needs to be clearer lines drawn, to help those who are in Calvinism understand the significant error of their views and to help those who are struggling with wondering what the truth is and if Calvinists or non-Calvinists are right. There’s too much at stake to be too gentle and wishy-washy.

        That’s just my two cents on it, and it’s why I write very forcefully against it and don’t mince words. (I am strong against the theology itself, but I do believe in being loving and gentle and respectful with the people as much as possible, the average Calvinist in the congregation. I think many of them are truly good people with good hearts who are just trying to do their best to honor God and live their faith the way they think they should. But I am much more firm against the Calvinist teachers, theologians, and pastors who are the ones leading people astray, stealthily, deceptively, and manipulatively.)

      8. Brdmod: “At some point as a young man he may have listened to the tape of his father telling people he did not know if his god created his son for eternal torment for his good pleasure.”

        And he might have heard “But if God didn’t choose my son, it might make me sad but I will just have to praise Him anyway because everything He decides is for His glory and for our good. I don’t have to like it, but I do have to accept His sovereign control over all. All that matters is that God is glorified. And if takes predestining people to hell, even my own son, then who am I to talk back to Him?”

        Of course, we are just speculating here, but this IS Calvinist theology. That’s gotta mess with the heads of kids of Calvinist parents, to feel like God might not love you as much as your parents do, that there is ultimately no one to turn to, that there might not be any hope for you.

        “But, hey, son, let’s keep our fingers crossed; you never know. You might have been chosen. And if you were, you can feel secure in knowing you’re one of the elected, saved ones. But you just won’t know for sure till you’re dead. And there’s nothing you could’ve done about it either way anyway, so let’s just see what happens.”

      9. Yes! Well said Heather!

        This reminds me of the story of the Calvinist pastor walking his little daughter home after the church service. She is quietly thinking about things he said in his sermon. She looks up to him and asks

        Daddy – did god create me specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire for his good pleasure?

      10. Brdmod: “Daddy – did god create me specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire for his good pleasure?”

        Reminds me of a post my Calvinist pastor wrote on the church blog about God choosing to harden people’s heart, and a terrified believer commented saying “Dear God, please don’t harden me!”

        How sad that this is the image of God they have. Lots of security and comfort in Calvinism, huh?.

      11. br.d
        “I have absolute assurance of my salvation” is what the Calvinist confidently told everyone – exactly seven days before the night he would go to bed and wake up in the lake of fire.

  10. In the article, under the heading, “Death as Separation”, the following verse is referenced:

    Romans 6:11 ESV
    “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

    The following needs to be added:

    Romans 7:8
    …For without the law sin was dead.

    Romans 6:7
    For he that is dead is freed from sin.

    Now you can add verse 11:
    Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Galatians 2:19
    For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

    Romans 7:4
    Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law

    Ed Chapman

  11. Heather wrote: “There’s too much at stake to be too gentle and wishy-washy.” Right on.

    As a suggestion for one of Leighton’s posts, there is a lot I can learn from him about how to be cordial. Maybe he did one? Yes I’ve seen him get tense at times, but God bless that man and his patience! I would love to learn more about his thoughts on being “cordial” and respectful and all those Biblical things that are a struggle for most of us. Hey, I’m a biologist, and it’s natural for people to manipulate their environment without any concern for the consequences. But I really stuggle with setting boundaries with people that love to violate them. In this case, the boundary is soteriology, the Good News, and Determinists are running it over with a Mack truck. Leighton has threaded the needle and I think the SBC should be honored to have such a Godly man on faculty.

    If I didn’t make it clear above, I definitely think Galatians (ie contra works-righteousness) applies. As I see it, all of Determinism boils down to respecting persons (ie James) and working so hard that God will certainly choose you. The Determinst must think that at least, if God did wind up sending them to hell, the Determinist would have a reason to blame God, because of all those works.

    What convoluted baloney. Abraham Piper is right. Don’t blame him a bit. Of course it’s sad tho…

    I am very, very convinced that we should not just “Say nothing if you can’t say anything nice.” To me, that’s code for letting your fears dictate your actions, which is sin (Luke 12).

    All that to say that I haven’t found the right balance yet, but I know that I should not present myself as angry to people that are leading others astray (or insult me, or are fleecing the flock,…). It is “my business” as a Christian to comment, even rebuke and argue, because I have been shown the light and it should not be kept under a bushel. How I would have loved to see how The Master did it, or at least Paul or James!

    I hope those thoughts are germane to the topic, and I am not hijacking. This seems like a llogical conclusion to their twisted logic.

  12. Hi Sian, here’s a thought for these Calvinists!
    “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).
    If everyone is born “TOTALLY Depraved” how could anyone become worse? Why does this passage say, “evil men” as if there’s any other kind? Because, if everyone is born “Totally Depraved” then EVERYONE is evil.

    Calvinism just won’t work.

    1. br.d
      Good morning Aidan – and good question!

      What we find – is that “Total Depravity” is what is typically called an “Accordion” phrase.

      It is “Accordion” in the sense that its meaning can be shrunk down to whatever the Calvinist needs to shrink it down to – and expanded out to whatever the Calvinist needs to expand it to.

      When any Calvinist – who has a propensity for honesty is painted into a corner – and forced to give a precise meaning for it – what we find is that it really should be called “One unique inability” rather than “Total Depravity”.

      Because the Calvinist will eventually admit that
      1) “IQ” has nothing to do with it.
      The smarted man in all of human history can be plagued with it.

      2) Human goodness and human benevolence has nothing to do with it
      The most godly man in all of human history can be plagued with it.

      So what it boils down to is simply that Calvin’s god has not endowed humans to be born with the capacity to believe on Jesus as one’s savior.

      That is why it should really be called “One unique inability”.

      But the Calvinist knows that if he acknowledges that as the TRUTH about Calvinism – then he is going to be faced answering the question – why does Calvin’s god not endow humans to be born with the capacity to believe on Jesus as one’s savior.

      The Calvinist knows – the answer is
      Calvin’s god creates/designs THE MANY specifically for eternal torment in a lake of fire for his good pleasure. So that is what he endows them with.

      1. Thanks Brd,
        I’m curious. Would they not say that man is born depraved (by God’s design of course) and that God only chooses (by His predetermined plan from all eternity) to save a select few and condemn the rest? Their depravity accounting for their unigue inability?

      2. br.d
        Hello Aidan

        The Calvinist has a significant urgency to make Calvinism appear as benevolent as possible – in order to maximize the potential “buy-in” of NON-Calvinist Christians – hoping to get NON-Calvinist Christians to find Calvinism acceptable.

        So on behalf of that urgency Calvinists will equivocate on this particular topic.
        They will say – as you’ve pointed out – that out of the population of humanity – Calvin’s god chooses those whom he will save and those whom he will not.

        But this is an example of the dishonesty Calvinism seduces Calvinists into.

        The TRUE picture follows:

        1) According to Calvinism’s interpretation of the “divine potter” in Roman’s 9 – we have a god (divine potter) who at the foundation of the world – first conceives of every human creature (vessel) he is going to create.

        2) Certain vessels are conceived in his mind – to be specifically created/designed as “vessels of honor”

        3) Certain vessels are conceived in his mind – to be specifically created/designed as “vessels of wrath”.

        John Calvin
        by the eternal good pleasure of god THOUGH THE REASON DOES NOT APPEAR, they are NOT FOUND but MADE worthy of destruction. – (Concerning the Eternal Predestination of god pg 121)

        John Calvin
        the wicked themselves HAVE BEEN CREATED for this very end—that they may perish. – (Commentaries Romans 9:18)

        Now many Calvinists do not like this picture.
        So they will try to obfuscate it – by trying to paint a picture of people who are FOUND to be worthy of destruction – rather than MADE to be worthy of destruction.

        And by attempting to paint this picture – they are lying to themselves – and to you – about the doctrine – in order to remove the specter of divine evil.

      3. Excellent Brd, you are a fountain of knowledge. Determinism seems to be at the back of every doctrine of theirs!

  13. Brethren,
    James 1:18
    Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. NKJV

    Firstfruits refers to first among converts or believers (Rev. 14:4; 1 Cor. 16:15).
    James epistle was the first New Testament document (45 to 50 A.D.). Therefore, it superseded the writings of Paul, John, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke and Jude.

    James says he was brought forth by the word of truth and he was a kind of firstfruit of all God’s creatures (creation).
    How can James this – he was not a disciple of Christ? He was a half brother of Jesus and his entire family thought Jesus had lost his mind (Mark 3:21).

    I maintain James was a kind of firstfruit because he was chosen before God created the foundation of the world along with the prophets, disciples, writers of scripture and a few others.

    Yours in Christ,

    1. 1saved
      ……..chosen before God created the foundation of the world……

      Hello 1saved – can I ask you a question

      Do you hold the Calvinist position that WHATSOEVER COMES TO PASS within creation at every instance in time – has been chosen by god – before he created the foundation of the world?

      Thanks in advance

    2. 1saved, I don’t think James is applying this just to himself but to all who are in Christ. To be “brought forth,” is the same verb that is used in v.15. Sin brings forth death, that is its nature. But with His word of truth God brings forth a holy first fruits that are consecrated, freed from sin and death. This undoubtedly means new-birth/regeneration. Therefore, I believe that James did indeed become a disciple as did his mother and brothers (Acts 1:14).

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