Peanut butter grace!
Author: tartanarmy (5:04 am)
Due to being banned at Steve Gregg's board, I have decided to respond here to Rick C from same board, a man who had recently made some interesting comments about JW'S, MORMONS AND CALVINISM, which struck me as incredulous, but I digress.
PLEASE NOTE THE AUTOMATIC ASSUMPTION OF THE FREE WILL THEIST, NAMELY THAT FREE WILL IS "ALWAYS" JUST ASSUMED FROM THE GET GO!
HOW CAN WE HAVE DIALOGUE REGARDING ANY TEXT OF SCRIPTURE, WHEN THE VERY ISSUE OF "LIBERTARIAN FREE WILL" IS SIMPLY AND AT ALL TIMES PRESUPPOSED?
WE CAN'T, IT IS NOT POSSIBLE.
Our arguments are not at the core "scriptural in nature and content", but rather philosophically predisposed at the core. That is the real issue when discussing scripture with Free Will advocates.
The first thing we need to accomplish is that Scripture does not support the concept of Libertarian freedom in man.
The strange thing is, if we engage the Free Will Theist on other subjects, say the "Trinity" or the "Deity of Christ" for example, we can communicate fairly well. Why is that? Well, it is because the Free will Theist does the same reasonable thing that we Calvinist's do, and that is to simply employ basic hermeneutics, that we all use when trying to understand what the Bible teaches.
The problem kicks in when those very same hermeneutical principals are negated, when underlying assumptions have greater weight than biblical authority at it's core.
At every turn, the Free Will Advocate, will supplant normal Biblical hermeneutics, in favor of their own presuppositions regarding "Free will".
Those presuppositions are the traditions that have been hammered into them from other's doing the exact same thing. It is a sad thing to behold.
Now, presuppositions are not the problem, for we all have them, but when our presuppositions themselves cannot be functionally built upon scripture itself, then all that will happen is a whole system being imported into scripture rather than exported out of scripture.
So the real issue comes back to epistemology, before we even get near the Bible, when discussing important issues with Non Calvinists.
Calvinism, if it is anything, is a complete World-View, one which takes in at it's very core, biblical presuppositions regarding the nature of man and the nature of God.
It is not, again I stress, it is not just about 5 points or God's sovereignty or Predestination and election, as so many falsely assume.
On another note, I would appreciate feedback on how others would interpret John 10:26 and 28 that Mark mentioned above. My own thought is that he should have included verse 27, which lies between the two he mentioned:
26 "But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep."
27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;"
28 "And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no
one shall snatch them out of My hand."
Only those who "hear" Christ's voice can be His sheep. Mark assumed that Christ's sheep were eternally chosen from the beginning. Verse 27 seems to suggest that we have a role in becoming His sheep, ie. responding to His voice. (also John 10:3)
I just point out the "assumption" that says "seems to suggest that we have a role in becoming His Sheep, ie responding to His voice".
First of all, Calvinist's affirm that every believer shall indeed respond and come to Christ.
What we do not say, and neither does scripture, is that "any" man has the "inherent ability" to respond and come to Christ.
The Non Calvinist assumes such an ability or "seems" to suggest it is so. But where in the text is this presupposition said?
It is not there. It is assumed. It is "read" into the text.
This is the whole problem, and I assure you that such traditions are very powerful indeed, but they need to go. They need to be corrected by the "seeming" Word of God, which does in fact speak clearly regarding such matters.
Now please note verse 26 above, ""But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep."
Jesus here is saying something remarkable, and it is pointless to ignore the implications by merely jumping to some other text as soon as our assumed presuppositions are challenged. Try and think that we are here getting at the doctrine of the Trinity or some such thing, in order to keep our eyes on the ball so to speak.
Jesus could have easily said that they do not believe because they have no faith or some such obvious thing, but He does not say that, does He?
He says, "you do not believe, because you are not my sheep".
Anyone with a modicum of honesty and reasonableness, will interpret this statement to mean at least one basic idea.
1/ Sheep believe, Non Sheep do not believe, therefore, the prerequisite for becoming a believer, is that one must first be a Sheep!
Now I know such a concept goes against the grain of popular contemporary ideas about just about everything, but let us at the very least deal with what the text is saying, before simply ignoring it. You are not allowed to ignore it, dismiss it or treat it with disrespect.
Now, before we get to verse 27, which I seemingly ignored, let us deal with verse 26. But before we do that, let us go back a wee bit to a statement made by Jesus in verse 21.
It is not enough to bring out the accusations of these Jews against Jesus as if by doing so we are saying anything meaningful, unless we carefully listen to what Jesus says to His detractors. Verse 21 says "Others said, These are not words of one who has been possessed by a demon. A demon is not able to open the eyes of blind ones."
Non Calvinists agree that all men are blind and need to have their eyes opened, right? If not, they are heretic Pelagians, and they are still around!
These Jews understood that blind men cannot un-blind themselves. May seem like a simple statement, but it is packed with profound truth from a thorough Biblical World View.
When Non Calvinist "free will" advocates suggest that men have an inherent ability to come to Jesus, they are "demon"strating an even worse understanding of God and His Word, than even these blaspheming Jews did!
These Jews continue to press Jesus as to who He is etc, and Jesus speaks to them boldly in verse 26.
Deal with this text.
Just maybe, those Calvinists are onto something. Maybe this whole matter regarding regeneration preceding faith has legitimacy!
Could it be that many Christians blindly assume profound things that are simply not in the text of the Bible?
Is it even remotely possible that verse 27 and 28 flows from verse 26, and following the thought right through, that Jesus is not only saying that being a Sheep makes one a believer, and that these Sheep, whom He Knows, being already believers, shall follow Him and He will never ever let them go?
And does He not then go on to teach that these same Sheep were in fact given to Him of the Father?
Where have we all read this same stuff before? Yeah in John 6!
Read verses 6:36-39, 45 and 65.
So the "big" question is. How does one become a Sheep?
Is the first thing "to be assumed", that all men have an inherent ability to simply exercise faith and then they will become sheep?
That of course is question begging and says nothing in light of verse 26 above.
No. Scripture clearly teaches that we are certainly Justified by faith, but we are not right now talking about Justification.
We are talking about how one comes to be Justified, and that is all about the doctrine we call "regeneration".
Non Calvinists teach that regeneration comes after faith, meaning that by believing we become regenerated.
The scriptures that address this subject are not dealt with by Non Calvinists, and even worse than that, scriptures relating to either Justification are used or other passages describing the acts of believers rather than prescribing how to become a believer are used, when such passages are irrelevant to the discussion, and this happens all the time in discussions between Calvinists and Non Calvinists. The Bible often becomes the proverbial ping pong match and truth is slain in the streets to a degree.
It makes practical dialogue pretty much useless, for we both speak past each other and no real communication results that is meaningful.
But, God uses such things as He sees fit, which is such an encouragement and a great mercy to all involved in such exchanges.
What is needed is an entire World View change, not merely a change of mind over a couple of passages of scripture, and God is in the business of Changing peoples entire World View, one that reflects the overall consistency of His Word, glorifies Him and humbles man in the dust where man belongs.
We need more men of God telling us, that in the dust, is the best place to be before God. It is a place where the dust partially obscures the streets paved with Gold and righteousness.
Below is the rest of the response offered regarding these passages in John 10, and please note that simply highlighting a text of scripture is not providing a response, but merely acts to show that some other presupposition may be and often is at work. I wish I had a dollar for every argument against reformed theology that was answered in this manor, for I would be a very rich man!
Just remember this simple qualifier. Where, in any of these scriptures, is it even remotely asserted, that men have an inherent ability to believe?
That is the question on the table, and it is "the" assumption underpinning this particular persons understanding and how he interprets scripture at this point at least.
(Don't forget what I said earlier about consistent hermeneutics and all that, where we would agree with each other in proving other doctrines etc!)
I will provide a brief response where a response is appropriate.
The people Jesus was speaking to (in this entire section) heard His voice. But did they all hearken to Him and believe?
John 10, NKJV (context)
19 Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. 20 And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?”
21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”
31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?”
33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” 39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand.
40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.
The Jews of verse 21 seemed to be very close to believing and could be the same people of verses 41/42; who saw Jesus' good works, heard His words, took them to heart, (and believed in Him). The others saw and heard the very same things---but didn't believe in Him. (Refutation of the Calvinistic idea that sinners --- who are not "elect," according to the Calvinistic system -- cannot hear Christ/God. Jesus spoke to them all---this chapter plainly states they ALL HEARD HIM). But did they all heed His word? No.
See the assumptions here?
The Non Calvinist almost always is trying to disprove Calvinism rather than giving an actual exegesis of the text!
Now, besides the free will assumptions being read into the text, note the logical conclusions to such an interpretation which are not conceded ever.
At the end of the day, the one thing that makes the difference between those who believe and those who do not, is one thing and one thing alone. Our free will to choose, over against the others who do not choose right.
It is all about one person doing something that another person does not do.
It is God spreading out a kind of peanut butter grace to all, but ultimately, it is us who decide whether or not to eat the sandwich of grace!
It has zero to do with God's grace and everything to do with the will of the creature.
Hence, it is shocking theology, that ought to be buried in the depths of the sea where it belongs.
26 "But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep."
Jesus had already told them He was the Christ and performed miracles to attest to it---and they had already dis-believed, v. 25.
Nothing is said (in v. 26) about these people as to if they had been predestined or elected (in any Calvinistic sense of meaning). Jesus confronts them regarding their current status of unbelief as they heard His very words.
See the obvious bent against reformed Theology at first?
How about the simple fact that the passage clearly says that the reason they do not believe is "not" because they are "unbelievers", but because they are not "sheep"?
27 "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;"
Jesus explains what His disciples do: They hearken to Him (His voice/teaching), come to know Him, and follow Him. The sense of this verse is "If you are listening now and want to hear more" (and is essentially an invitation to become a disciple). Note, it is in the present tense.
Again, where is there some kind of invitation being given here by the Son of God?
He is telling these Jews that His Sheep hear His voice and follow Him.
He tells these Jews that His Sheep are "known" by Him and by implication they are not His Sheep.
Where is all this inviting and free will coming, even remotely contained in this whole discourse, unless it is "read" into it?
What has "present tense" got to do with the matter? Believers in any age are "Present tense" followers, and are known and are Sheep!
And if we want to talk about "sense" of words, consider the very next verse which I have not even began to scratch the surface of.
28 "And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand."
The Lord tells of eternal life to everyone within the range of His voice and that no external human or spiritual power will be able to take His disciples from Him.
First of all, what we have here is classic eisogesis!
Where does it say "within the range of His voice?" or "No external human or spiritual power?" I just do not see it.
In fact, such a reading would create so many problems in how we read other passages, mainly because false assumptions heap ideas into how we might abuse other areas of plain scripture.
For example, if the text suggests that no external human shall separate us, then that could mean that we ourselves could separate ourselves, yes?
Well, that would fit with Non Calvinism that teaches that we can lose our salvation, when in fact, the truth is that this passage simply says that no one shall be snatched out of His hand.
Paul elsewhere tells us something related to being In Christ, when he states,
Rom 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, for Him to be the First-born among many brothers.
Rom 8:30 But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, those He also justified. And whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Rom 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Rom 8:32 Truly He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Rom 8:33 Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies.
Rom 8:34 Who is he condemning? It is Christ who has died, but rather also who is raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 As it is written, "For Your sake we are killed all the day long. We are counted as sheep of slaughter."
Rom 8:37 But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Passing by the predestination stuff!, consider verses 35-39.
Does one get the idea that only external human power and spiritual power is our hope of not being snatched from Christ?
No, Paul teaches that not only external human and spiritual power cannot touch us, but even things that are inherent or internal to us, such things as distress, persecution, famine, peril, nakedness etc and he is fully persuaded that neither death, nor this life (which includes everything internal to us) things present or future (both internal as consequences) shall separate us from the Love of Christ!
Paul is just saying what Jesus says above in John 10:28, but our Non Calvinist friend here wants us to believe otherwise and not only takes assurance away from us as Paul and Jesus would give us, but reads free will again into scripture.
Let's face it. If it is up to us to get into salvation by a free will act of the will of man, then it is consistent to say that we can get out of salvation by the free will act of man, right?
Away with such doctrine!
I often wonder if the consistent free will advocate will say, that in Heaven, they will also have this so called free will, and might ultimately fall out of heaven too and at any moment! Perish the awful thought.
Psa 37:24 Though he fall, he shall not be cast down; for Jehovah upholds his hand.
No, we reformed Christians hold to eternal security based upon something more sure than our fallible will, and that is the power of God, amen?
Psa 89:33 But I will not completely take My loving-kindness from him, and I will not be false in My faithfulness.
(See also, Psa 138:8,Rom 11:2, Jas 1:17, Jud 1:24, Deu 33:3, Isa 27:3, 1Pe 1:5)
Php 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,
And that good work that was begun is "regeneration". It is a work of God alone.
Regeneration (not to be confused with conversion, please see end note!) means that one has been born again or born from above (John 3:3, 5, 7, 8). The new birth is the work of God, so that all those who are born again are “born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Or, as 1 Pet 1:3 says, it is God who “caused us to be born again to a living hope” (1 Pet 1:3).
The means God uses to grant such new life is the gospel, for believers “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet 1:23; cf. Jas 1:18). Regeneration or being born again is a supernatural birth. Just as we cannot do anything to be born physically—it just happens to us!—so too we cannot do anything to cause our spiritual rebirth.
He is preaching the Gospel of the Eternal Kingdom; that they will be secure in Him, in His hand. Nothing here about "Eternal Security" or the Perseverance of the Saints. The "they" of this verse are collective; the fold of those who believe ("my sheep"). Following the Good Shepard is in the present tense, v. 27. Of course, individual sheep can stray from the flock at a future time for various reasons. However, v. 28 does not address that particular issue. Jesus gives assurance that no OUTSIDE force, power, person, or persons can snatch His sheep from Him: Nothing more, and nothing less is said here.
No one is arguing that the verse is an exhaustive defense of reformed theology!
But providing comments that are not in the text and contradict other passages is just plain disrespectful of the text.
Individual sheep may indeed stray from the flock but is nowhere mentioned here so saying the issue is not here is irrelevant to what we are actually discussing, which is that Jesus shall not let go of anyone who has been given to Him by His Father, and that much is all I need to show from these verses, which I have done.
Re: 2 Calls
I don't think there's a distinction between responding to the call to "get saved" (Jesus as Savior) and the concurrent call to "do service" (Jesus as Lord). Not according to the Scriptures, imo. Sure, we're called to be saved from Hell and go to Heaven...but that's just part of the picture ("entry level," ff. .........(following Him in service).
An insomniac's imo'Zzzzzzzzzzzz, Goodnight! Wink
How did I do?
Well Rick, you did quite poorly. Apart from everywhere reading your free will assumptions into the text, and your adding other words and ideas into the texts, and providing irrelevant points, I would say that you have shown a grievous disrespect for God's Word, therefore you fail very badly.
Note- see above re Regeneration.
Conversion occurs when sinners turn to God in repentance and faith for salvation. Paul describes the conversion of the Thessalonians in 1 Thess 1:9, “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Sinners are converted when they repent of their sins and turn in faith to Jesus Christ, trusting in him for the forgiveness of their sins on the Day of Judgment.
Paul argues that unbelievers “are dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1; cf. 2:5). They are under the dominion of the world, the flesh, and the devil (Eph 2:2-3). Every one is born into the world as a son or daughter of Adam (Rom 5:12-19). Therefore, all people enter into this world as slaves of sin (Rom 6:6, 17, 20). Their wills are in bondage to evil, and hence they have no inclination or desire to do what is right or to turn to Jesus Christ. God, however, because of his amazing grace has “made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:5). This is Paul’s way of saying that God has regenerated his people (cf. Tit 3:5). He has breathed life into us where there was none previously, and the result of this new life is faith, for faith too is “the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).
Several texts from 1 John demonstrate that regeneration precedes faith. The texts are as follows: “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him” (1 John 2:29). “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:9). “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whomever has been born of him” (1 John 5:1).
We can make two observations from these texts. First, in every instance the verb “born” (gennaô) is in the perfect tense, denoting an action that precedes the human actions of practicing righteousness, avoiding sin, loving, or believing.
Second, no evangelical would say that before we are born again we must practice righteousness, for such a view would teach works-righteousness. Nor would we say that first we avoid sinning, and then are born of God, for such a view would suggest that human works cause us to be born of God. Nor would we say that first we show great love for God, and then he causes us to be born again. No, it is clear that practicing righteousness, avoiding sin, and loving are all the consequences or results of the new birth. But if this is the case, then we must interpret 1 John 5:1 in the same way, for the structure of the verse is the same as we find in the texts about practicing righteousness (1 John 2:29), avoiding sin (1 John 3:9), and loving God (1 John 4:7). It follows, then, that 1 John 5:1 teaches that first God grants us new life and then we believe Jesus is the Christ.
We see the same truth in Acts 16:14. First God opens Lydia’s heart and the consequence is that she pays heed to and believes in the message proclaimed by Paul. Similarly, no one can come to Jesus in faith unless God has worked in his heart to draw him to faith in Christ (John 6:44). But all those whom the Father has drawn or given to the Son will most certainly put their faith in Jesus (John 6:37).
God regenerates us and then we believe, and hence regeneration precedes our conversion. Therefore, we give all the glory to God for our conversion, for our turning to him is entirely a work of his grace. (Tom Schreiner)