Saturday, September 08, 2007

John 6 The Church "shrinkage" movement!

John 6 The Church "shrinkage" movement!
Author: tartanarmy (6:29 pm)

Here is my latest response to those (in this case an Open Theist) with regards to who does what in the matter of salvation.
Arminians and Open Theists and just about pretty much every religious system out there teaches that our faith precedes the New Birth.

Tartanarmy said,

We do not have to embrace this heresy in order to promote and maintain a God with whom we can powerfully enter into relationship with, A God who is active and involved with His creation, a God who everyday is concerned with us etc.


Soaring Eagle (An Open Theist)

How is God free to respond to our actions if everything that comes to pass is part of God's blueprint/story that he authored before time? If he is so concerned, then why did he pre-choose our choices for us before we were even born in His supposed divine Script from creation to final consummation?
Then we read,

Thank you, Soaring Eagle, for bringing some reality into this "discussion".

One persons reality is another persons nightmare.
Let's take a closer look at all of this.

First of all, can anyone guess what the overriding presupposition is with the comment above. Think about it.

"How is God free to respond to our actions if everything that comes to pass is part of God's blueprint/story that he authored before time?"

The presupposition is, that in order for us to be free in any meaningful sense, God must be limited in His abilities to interact in time with His creation if He has a decree and plan and purpose for everything that happens in time.
That is the first presupposition. Does it have any merit?

Considering God is God and we are not God, on what basis do we have as finite Humans, to question whether God can ordain whatsoever comes to pass, and yet, in so doing, can allow for human choices and His interaction with those choices in time?
Is this impossible for God to do?, or are we really dealing with finite human reasoning, attempting to understand God on the basis of our own reason?
Well, in light of scripture, for those interested in it as an authority, the answer should be obvious.

God is God. He can not only have a perfect plan that is unfolding in time, as in not only bare foreknowledge as Arminians believe, but has ordained all that happens as the foundation of His foreknowledge and allowing for human volition, and yet still interact within time as He sees fit, whenever and however He desires. I submit, this is the God of scripture.

The question then becomes one of human freedom. What is it, and what does it look like?
Again, if scripture is your authority and not human philosophy/reason, then we can answer these basic anthropological questions.

I submit that scripture teaches that human freedom is the ability to act according to ones fundamental nature.

The nature of man is fallen, spiritually dead and unregenerate. This means, that mankind acts in accordance with that disposition. His Mind, will and heart cannot be other than his base nature.
A dog when presented with one bowl of fresh meat and another bowl of cabbage will make a bee line for the meat every time. It is free to choose either bowl, but the nature determines it's choice. A dog's nature loves meat, and hence it's will shall choose to go for the meat. The dog is bound to it's nature.

Likewise, mankind is the same. His will is free to make choices, but the nature of the man determines the extent of those choices, and every choice is bound to the nature of the man.

Man without the Spirit of God is carnal, base, unregenerate and not able to discern the things of God let alone act upon what God demands.
All such hope of freedom in the will of man was dashed way back in the Garden, and no man born in Adam's image since, has a nature that desires to break free of its constraints.
Constraints that are carnal, unbelieving, selfish, greedy and a whole host of other flaws to lesser and greater extents within individuals.

Now, what do Calvinists believe about the will of man and the will of God?

Am I putting forward a God who does every single act in the universe so that the rest of creation merely is a puppet being manipulated whichever way God desires, and that therefore man has no will, no choices, no autonomy whatsoever?
Is that what Open Theists and Arminianins think we are saying?

Let us clear this up and deal with what Calvinism teaches, and then let us see if scripture backs it up, ok?

Calvinism affirms not only that God is free and ordains all that happens in the Universe, as part of His perfect plan, but we teach that man has a will that makes genuine choices, including even the choice to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

Yes, that is the first thing. We affirm man to be a volitional being, able to choose and a being who is responsible for those choices.

Now, going back again to this question about man's nature.
Does man have a libertarian free will? That is the question. Can a man make choices that are independent or not influenced by his nature? To do that, is to prove Libertarian free will. To make decisions that are not constrained by our nature, or constrained by any other outside influence, is libertarian free will.

Any serious student of scripture knows that such libertarian freedom does not exist. Any serious Philosopher, likewise! It is a myth.
It is a teaching that Arminians and Open Theists embrace. It is a teaching that pretty much every religion embraces in one way or another.

I challenge any person to give a proof from scripture supporting Libertarian freedom. Just one such example shall suffice. But please make sure, that when you are attempting to give a proper example of such freedom, you do so with no contradiction from context and or other passages set against the principal you are trying to advance. It needs to be water tight.

Of course, no such proof can be had in the whole of scripture, otherwise we would not even be having these discussions since the very Garden itself.

Jesus taught, that the man who sins is a slave to sin. John 8:34
That includes everyone who has ever sinned, and that means everyone ever born, except Jesus. See also 2 Peter 2:19, Romans 7:14-25

Why would any sinner want to challenge the idea that the natural man is a slave to sin?
Now I know some Arminians shall say that we are all sinners, and we all have a bent to unrighteousness, and that each of us is born with a propensity to do wrong rather than good. (Semi Palagianism)

But will they agree that man is a slave to sin as Jesus taught?

No, they will not consistently affirm this idea at all. In fact, they will do everything in their power to teach the opposite. They will read passages out of context that are referring to regenerate persons or people who have or are becoming acquainted with God and His drawing by the Spirit of God.

They will deny plain passages that teach no one is a God seeker. Romans 3:11 tells us that “there is no one who seeks after God.” (Jesus teaches that it is God who seeks worshippers not Man seeking God. John 4 contains a fascinating dialogue between Jesus and a Samaritan woman on the subject!)

They will make passages that explicitly say that man's will in and of itself cannot please God, actually is able to please God! Romans 8:6-9 "those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

They will teach and proclaim that some men meet certain conditions that other men do not meet, and yet have the nerve to suggest that God's grace made the difference between them, when in actual fact, they teach that God's grace is there for all, but then the meeting of the conditions ends up making the difference!

Is it what God has done, or is it "us", in meeting certain conditions?

Other men, give the glory to God alone for all of salvation. They know they were slaves to sin. They know they were helpless, hopeless and absolutely powerless to break free of their nature, which was opposed to God and His truth. Romans 8:6-9. Romans 5:10 says we are enemies of God.

Yet, they did come to putting their trust in Jesus Christ. They did come to a place where they were set free from slavery to sin and bondage to their nature.
They will tell you that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit has made them alive and enabled them to break free of their unregenerate state.
They affirm that all men are ruined by nature, lost and incapable of coming to Christ on their own, and had not God intervened in their life, they would likewise perish as even the rest.

For them, God alone gets the praise for their salvation. God alone is the source of their joy and confidence.

They thank God not only for salvation in and through Christ, but are thankful for the very instrument or means that unites them with their great Saviour, namely their faith. Yes, it is their faith, but it is as a result of regeneration. The New Birth. The Holy Spirit giving birth to their spirit. Being now born again. A new creation.
That birth brings forth the very first pangs of faith, a new breath and a new life. A breath received by the implanting of the Holy Spirit which blows wherever and on whomever He desires.

But, there is this other group of men who repudiate such things. These men have wills that are able to freely find within themselves amod-um of saving interest in the things of God and salvation. They are able to respond by an act of free will, to do that which is pleasing to God, namely lift themselves up by the bootstraps and meet the condition of faith in Jesus. In so doing, they are now saved, or at least Justified by faith. And having this faith, they are now regenerated.

You may ask. Does Jesus really import all of this inability and deadness to the will of man when He says that He who sins is a slave to sin?

Well let us see. Leaving aside such passages as Rom. 8:7-8, “The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.” and Eph. 2:1,5, “You were dead through your trespasses and sins.”

Consider the whole of John Chapter 6.
After reading all the way through the chapter, some have said the modern seeker sensitive movement must have removed this chapter from their Bibles! Some have said the best way to shrink your Church is to believe and teach what Jesus taught in this chapter. From a large following, crowds on every side, eventually leading to a few Disciples and even they were unsure as to whether to continue with this Jesus?

John Ch 6 - The Church "Shrinkage" movement and Man's utter inability to come to Jesus Christ.

If you follow this chapter from the start to end, it is amazing at what transpires. There are some "biting" comments here from Jesus, that no real Christian would truly ignore or try to explain away in favour of ones theology, no matter how biblical they think it to be. The teaching of Jesus in this chapter are some of the clearest in all of scripture, where the rubber meets the road in the matter of who does what in salvation.

Let us read the whole chapter together. Please read John Ch 6.

Just a simple question folks.
What caused the shrinking of the followers in this chapter, that in the end, Jesus even questions the 12 nearest and dearest to Him?
It is a simple question and there is a big clue in the last seven words found at verse 53. "you do not have life in yourselves."

Then, of course, Jesus being a Calvinist, tells us all about regeneration preceding faith 10 verses later at verse 63.
"It is the Spirit that makes alive, the flesh profits nothing."

Verse 64 has the Arminian coming in and claiming that they do not believe regeneration precedes faith, "But there are some of you who do not believe." and so Jesus being the Calvinist, dispels first the Open Theist in Verse 64 "For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe" and then crushes the whole faith leads to regeneration argument in verse 65 once and for all.

"Because of this I said to you that no one can come to Me unless it was given to him from My Father."

Do they listen even to Jesus? Will they leave their idea that they have life in themselves?
No, sadly verse 66 following, tells us how they respond.

Joh 6:66 From this time many of His disciples went back into the things behind, and walked no more with Him.


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