Skip to comments.The Theology of John Calvin
Posted on 04/19/2003 7:32:39 AM PDT by drstevej
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Seriously, I have no problem with that post. When I saw the original question, I pretty much came up with the same answers.
The question is, why do some take the step of faith and others do not? Ask any new Christian, they know. They were drawn by the calling of the Holy Spirit. Their hearts were so broken, they had no choice.
Now where in the Bible is the word "irresistible" or anything that could reasonably be translated "irresistible" used in direct connotation with the word "grace?"
And is there a difference between "irresistible" grace -- meaning a sort of Manchurian Candidate response to the gospel and "inevitable" grace -- meaning it must happen exactly as God knows that it, in fact, did happen?
If you believe that all have the opportunity to be saved and, at the same time, that God's purpose in sending his Son is that none should perish, then you must conclude that God is a failure. Why? Because we know from God's word that not only do more than none perish but also that most perish. Those who are saved are described as a "remnant." Thus, under the alleged free will view of salvation, God has failed in his purpose for sending his Son.
Does that make sense? Or does it make more sense to understand that God sent his Son that none of his elect would perish? And none will, "for who can resist his will?" [Romans 9:19]
Even if you don't believe that God predestined all, surely you believe that God at least knows in advance all who will be saved? Is that not so? Okay, then look again at Romans 8:29:
For those he foreknew, he also predestined....
It states very clearly that where there is foreknowledge of God there is his predestination. So the only way in which predestination is "not an every day occurence" is that it all happened before the world began.
This saying is extrabiblical both in source and content. But even it recognizes predestination for ordinary people: "If not, it was never meant to be."
In the context, the only one who could mean something over and against human will is God. So the saying acknowledges that human freedoms, however they are to be understood, are still controlled by the Sovereign.
One source of the dispute on this thread is that there are many verses in the Bible that seem to mean, on their surfaces, that Christ came to save all men and that there are also many verses in the Bible that seem to mean, on their surfaces, that not all will be saved. Every participant in, and lurker on, this thread that has read the Bible should be able to agree on these two points and the logical conclusion that on the surface of the texts there is contradiction.
The dispute, then, is on how to deal with this apparent contradiction. Theological liberals say either that the Bible isn't God's word (at best, it's a human document that "contains" God's word) or that interpretation is mystical and/or subjective; in either case, surface contradictions don't matter. Hopefully, all reading this thread can agree that both liberal approaches are unworthy of respect.
Theological conservatives, by contrast, believe the Bible is God's word and, thus, like him isn't self-contradictory. So they want to resolve the apparent conflict in a logical way. Given the language of the texts, this requires going below the surface meaning of the words.
Calvinists address the subsurface meaning of the text by addition; they include for consideration yet another group of verses in the Bible, those that describe election. As God doesn't contradict himself, they say, when he says he comes to save "all the world," for example, he must mean "his elect from all parts of the world." Although this approach complicates matters it is internally coherent. And increased complication doesn't mean error; God's creation is complicated, so an accurate description thereof will itself included complicated elements.
Arminians, by contrast, try to deal with the apparent contradiction of God sending his Son to save all men and the Bible's account that not all will be saved by subtraction and simplification. They overlook or gloss over the many Sovereign election verses in the Bible. They do the same to those verses that emphasize God's omnipotence. Thus God may have elected some people but surely only a special few. And God may be all-powerful, but he chooses to give up his power any place it might infringe on the human right of choice.
This interpretive approach does simplify reality. But it also distorts it. It teaches a diminished view of God (He doesn't accomplish all he wills and much of what he does accomplish is contingent on his creation) and an elevated view of man. Indeed, in the Arminian view, Human Choice is the ultimate Sovereign. It outranks even the Creator....
Calvinism may be complicated and a bit paradoxical. But I'll take complication and paradox over simplicity that puts man at the center of the church any day.
What happens when you no longer have faith or believe?
You wrote I will perservere because I believe, not because I try to be a good person.
What if you stop believing? You saved yourself with your decision to believe why can't you decide not to believe. Are you a puppet? A Robot? What kind of a God would want to be loved by someone that may change his mind about wanting to love him?
God does not make the decision for you. If you go to hell it is because of missed opporunities, not because God gains pleasure from sending people there. It is in that sense that I see Calvinism as dangerous. Not because they believe that regeneration preceeds faith.
Yea too bad some people are not as smart as others to take advantage of the "opporunities"*grin*
Did the gentiles around them have that Choice?
What about the nations they were about to enter ? Or was the choice limited to ELECT Israel?
Deu 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
This verse PRECEEDS the one you like
You show me yours and I will show you mine:>)
Show me the words "free will" in the bible
Now where in the Bible is the word "irresistible" or anything that could reasonably be translated "irresistible" used in direct connotation with the word "grace?"
There ain't no phrase "irresistible grace" either. So what? Both terms ("irresistible grace" and "Trinity") were developed by man to describe concepts in the Bible.
Now, at your request, here are the proofs that I.G is taught in the Bible
First let me quote the great verse John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." What a great verse! But it never answers the question of why people will believe. So, we can invent our own theology or we can read through the Bible and look for verses describing why people will believe. The why is defined in Theological Circles as irresistible grace.
John 6:37 "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."
Hmmm, not all who choose me, but all that "the Father gives me will come to me.." If they aren't choosing, why are they coming? I.G!
John 6:44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day."
Ohhh, the Father is drawing. Again, sounds like God is doing the giving.
Daniel 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?
What? I thought we had free will? No one can change Gods will? No one can accuse God?
Just a couple of more:
1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast
Acts 16:14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message.
Now it's your turn. Try to show us where the decision to recieve grace is an act we make on our own choice. Not verses like John 3:16, I've already explained that. Such verses don't tell why people come to Christ. They explain the rule for salvation, not why people come.
Marlowe, at this moment, could you deny Christ?
If not, what keeps you from it?
Perhaps it's the same hand of God that brought you to it in the first place.
That the Bible actually does teach on these subjects is apparent from a cursory consideration of some of the following passages: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified (Rom. 8:28-30). Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 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: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will (Eph. 1:3-5).
Let us consider these passages and a few others to see exactly what the Bible teaches about the doctrines of predestination and election. We are not interested in this article about the Calvinist perversions of these doctrines; we are only interested in what the Scriptures actually teach about the subject.
God's Work Through Jesus Christ From beginning to end, the Bible is concerned about God's work through Jesus Christ. God predetermined from the beginning of all time to redeem mankind through His Son Jesus Christ. Hence, when we begin to speak about the doctrine of predestination, we begin by recognizing that God's predetermination was to save men through His Son.
It was God's will that Jesus die for our sins; hence, Peter stated on the day of Pentecost, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain" (Acts 2:22-23).
God's plan for the salvation of man was predetermined from the beginning. When man sinned, God began to work to save him. He planned to do this through the sending of Jesus Christ. God took upon Himself the form of a man and dwelt among us. He even endured the agonies of Calvary that we might be redeemed from our sins. If we will but remember that this is the primary thing predetermined by God, and not the salvation or damnation of specific persons, we will have moved a long way in understanding a difficult subject.
Now, let us look at some of the specific passages which teach about predestination and see what has been predetermined. Ephesians 1:3-14 Please open your Bibles to this passage and specifically examine the individual verses which I mention in this discussion. Space will not allow me to reproduce the verses at this place. Let us, therefore, notice what God has chosen in this passage: 1. To bless us through His Son. The thing which God has predetermined is to bless all men through the Son of God. Notice the specific statements: (a) "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ (v. 3); (b) "According as he hath chosen us in him . . ." (v. 4); (c) "having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ . . ." (v. 5); (d) ". . . wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved" (v. 6); (e) "in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins. . . " (v. 7); (f) "that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ" (v. 10); (g) "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance" (v. 11). Hence, God predetermined the realm in which men would be saved-in Christ! No one can be saved, blessed of God, except in Christ our Redeemer. The predestination which we read of in the Scriptures, therefore, is God's predetermined plan to give all of His spiritual blessings to mankind through His Son Jesus Christ.
2. To have those who are redeemed in Christ to be holy and without blame (v. 4). God has not only predetermined the realm in which men would be saved (in Christ), He has also determined the character of those who will be saved. Those who will be saved must be holy and without blame. Man is "without blame" through the forgiveness of sins made possible through the precious blood of the Lamb of God. Having his sins washed away through Christ's blood, man stands before God with6ut blame. His character is that of a saint;
he tries to walk in moral purity. All of this, God predetermined before the first man was ever saved. He predetermined the character of those whom He would save. God never thought about saving the man who rebelliously walks in wickedness; He predetermined to save those who walk in moral purity.
Don't you mean that those who are saved are now considered pure in the eyes of God having Christ's Righteousness imputated to them?
3. To adopt these who are saved in Christ as children (v. 5). The text reads, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ . . ." (v. 5). God also predetermined that those who would be redeemed through Christ would receive the adoption as sons. (See Gal. 4:1-6 for further discussion of the idea of adoption as sons.) Again, we read nothing about a specific person being chosen for salvation and another person chosen for damnation through the arbitrary will of God.
Rather, we read what God predetermined to do for those who were saved through Christ-to adopt them as children.
4. To gather together in one all things in Christ (v. 10). In addition to the things previously mentioned as being a part of God's predetermined will, Paul added, "that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ . . ." (v. 10). And this is what God has done. He brought together both Jew and Gentile in one body through Jesus Christ. Regarding this, Paul wrote, "And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby" (Eph. 2:16). What God predetermined to do was to save both Jew and Gentile in the one body (the church) through the one Savior, Jesus Christ.
5. To obtain an inheritance (v. 11J. Verse 11 reads as follows: "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." God also predetermined to grant an inheritance to those who are redeemed through His Son.
Notice, in summary, what Eph. 1:3-14 teaches. It does not teach that God predetermined before the foundation of the world and without consideration as to what He might see in man (such as faith and obedience to His will) to save a given individual and to damn another. Rather, God chose His plan for the redemption of man through Jesus Christ and the blessings which He would grant to men through that Christ.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. This passage gives some people a good bit of trouble. Let us begin by noting who is spoken of in this passage. They are variously described as "them that love God" and "them who are called." Those who love God are those who keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15, 21, 23); the call which God gives to men is through the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14). Hence, we are not discussing some men who received some kind of secret divine call in some mysterious way. We are discussing those who have heard the call of the gospel and obeyed it.
God, before the world began, looked ahead and saw that certain persons would obey His word and that others would not. I do not mean that God foresaw that some would and some would not obey; rather, God foreknew exactly who would and who would not obey His word. Yet, foreknowledge is not predetermination. Furthermore, for God to foreknow what a man with free will is going to do is no more difficult for His almighty power and omniscience than for Him to know what a mere robot would do. Hence, I see no problem in admitting that God knew before the world ever began all persons who would be saved and all who would be lost.
To teach that God predetermined both of these groups, however, causes untold problems for the disciple of the biblical text.
Now, here is what God predetermined: "for whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son" (v. 29). God predetermined before the world began that those who would be obedient to His will would be conformed to the image of His Son, i.e., that they would receive the same resurrection body as His Son received.
Here are the other things which God has done for this group: (1) Called them. This has occurred through the preaching of the gospel. Paul later wrote, "whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 2:14). Those who are going to be saved have all been called through the preaching of the gospel. None else can be saved. (2) Justified them. God predetermined that this group would not only be called but that they would also be justified, i.e., made to stand without sin before the law. He did this through remitting their sins. (3) Glorified. These persons who chose of their.own free will to be obedient to the Lord's will, God has predetermined to glorify. This, of course, refers to God's plan to give us a home with Him in heaven.
Amen and a resurrection body in Christ's image.
Conclusion We see now what the Bible doctrine of predestination actually is. There is nothing in these verses 'which remotely intimates that God personally chose every man who would be saved without regard to whether or not that person would be obedient to His will or not. Nor, is there anything which intimates that God arbitrarily decided to damn men without regard to their disposition toward Him. Rather, God's predetermination concerns His work through His Son and His plans for those who obey Jesus.
Thank you for a excellent post!
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