Stunning

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Salvation of All Men... (John Calvin)

What does the Bible mean by "All Men"?
Calvin helps us understand what the Bible means when it says "All Men" should be saved.
by Dr. John Calvin

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour: who will have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 2:3,4.

When we despise them, whom God will have to be honoured, it is as much as if we made war against him. So is it, if we make no count of their salvation, whom God calls to himself. For it seems thereby, that we would stay him from showing his mercy to poor sinners, which are in the way to be utterly cast away. This is the reason why Saint Paul uses this argument: That God would have all the world to be saved; to the end that as much as lieth in us, we should also seek their salvation, which seem to be as it were banished men out of the kingdom of God, especially at such time as they are unbelievers.

Now we must always mark in what case the world stood in Saint Paul's time. It was a new thing and a strange matter to have the gospel published throughout all the world. For there was great likelihood that God had chosen the stock of Abraham, as though the rest should be deprived of all hope of salvation. (Ex. 19:5-6). And indeed we see how holy writer greatly sets forth this adoption that God had made of this people of the Jews. But Saint Paul commands us to pray for all the world. And so not without cause adds the reason which is here set down, namely, because God will have all men to be saved. As if he should say: My friends, it is good reason we should mark whereunto God's will bends, and to what end, and to what mark, that everyone of us may employ himself to serve him that way.

For why are we in this world, but only to set forward the good will of God as much as we can? So then, seeing it is God's will that all men should be partakers of that salvation which he has sent in the person of his only begotten Son, we must have a care to draw poor, silly, and ignorant creatures to us, that we may come all together to this inheritance of the kingdom of heaven which is promised us. And yet we must mark that Saint Paul speaks not here of every particular man, but of all sorts, and of all people.

Therefore, when he says that God will have all men to be saved, we must not think that he speaks here of Peter, or John, but his meaning is this, that whereas in times past he chose out one certain people for himself, he means now to show mercy to all the world, yea to them that were, as it were, shut out from the hope of salvation.

For we hear what he says in another place, that the heathen were without God, void of all promise, because they were not as yet brought to the fellowship of the people of the Jews. (Eph. 2:2ff.). And this was a special privilege that God had given to the stock of Abraham, to choose it.

Therefore Saint Paul's meaning is not that God will save every particular man, but he says that the promises which were given to one only people, are now stretched out through all the world.

For, as he says in this same epistle to which we alleged before, the wall [of partition] was broken down at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For God had separated the people of the Jews form all nations; but when Jesus Christ appeared for the saving of the world, then took he away this diversity which was between the Jews and the Gentiles.

So then, God will now embrace us all, and this is the entrance into our salvation. For if that had continued always, which God ordained, then should we be now all accursed, and the gospel should not have been preached unto us. We should have had no sign or token either of the goodness, or the love of God. How is it then that we are come into the house of God, to be his children? Even because we are not more strangers from the promises, as our fathers were; but when Jesus Christ came to be a common Saviour for all in general, he offered the grace of God his Father, to the end that all might receive it.

As Saint Paul speaks now of all nations, so he speaks also of all estates, as if he should say, that God will save kings and magistrates, as well as the least and baser sort. And we must not restrain his Fatherly goodness either to ourselves only, or to some certain number of people. And why so? For he shows that he will be favourable to all. So then, thus we have Saint Paul's meaning. And to confirm this matter he adds that it is God's will, that all should come to the knowledge of truth. We must mark well why Saint Paul uses this argument. For we cannot guess or surmise what God's will is, unless he shows it [to] us, and gives us some sign and token, whereby we have some perseverance of it. It is too high a matter for us, to know what God's counsel is, but so far froth as he shows it [to] us by effect, so far do we comprehend it.

True it is that the gospel is called the mighty power of God to salvation, to all them that believe, it is the gate of paradise. It follows, then, if through the will of God the gospel be preached to al the world, there is a token that salvation is common to all. And thus Saint Paul proves, that God's will is that all men should be saved. For he has not appointed his apostles to keep himself only amongst the Jews; but we know that commission was given [to] them to preach to all creatures, to be witnesses of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem to Samaria, and from thence throughout all the world.

Are the apostles sent to publish the truth of God to all people and to all estates? It follows, then, that God presents himself to all the world, and that the promise belongs to both great and small, as well to the Gentiles now, as to the Jews before. Before we go any further, it is good to beat down the folly, or rather the beastliness of them that abuse this place of Paul, to make the election of our God a thing of nought and utterly take it away. For see what they say: if God will have all men to be saved, it follows that he has not chosen a certain number of mankind, and cast away the rest, but that his will remains indifferent.

So then, these beasts which are nothing exercised in holy writ, and will, notwithstanding play the Doctors, pretend that it stands in the choice of men to save themselves, and that God leaves us alone, and waits to see whether we will come to him or not, and so receives them that come unto him. But in the mean while, they destroy the ground of our salvation; for we know that we are accursed, that the inheritance of salvation is far from us, and if a man would say that Jesus Christ is come to remedy that, then we must examine the nature of men, what it is.

But we are all of us so contrary and such enemies to God, that we cannot but resist him. We are so given to evil and wickedness, that we cannot so much as conceive a good thought. So then, how can it be that we may be partakers of that salvation which is offered to us in the gospel, unless God draws us to it by his Holy Spirit? Let us see now, whether God draw all the world to it or not. No, no, for then had our Lord Jesus Christ said in vain, No man can come to me, except God my Father teach him, (John 6:44).

So then, we must needs conclude that it is a special grace that God bestows upon such as pleases him, to draw them and teach them in such sort, that they believe the gospel, and receive it with a true faith

And now, why does God choose one, and leave the other? We know that men cannot come to God by their deserts, neither is it so, that they which are chosen, have deserved any such thing, as to be preferred before their companions, as though there were some worthiness in them. It follows then, that before the world was made, (as Saint Paul says in the first [chapter of his Epistle to] the Ephesians) God chose such as it pleased him, and it pertains not to us to know why this man more than that man, we know not the reason. And yet must we confess that whatsoever God does, he does it justly: although we know not why.

So then, let us receive that whereof we are so thoroughly certified in Holy Writ, and let us not suffer ourselves to be led amiss under a shadow of this vain reason which ignorant men use, and such as know not one iota of God's word. True it is, that at the first blush, they think they have fair show, and some good resemblance. God will have all men to be saved, it follows then, that it stands in the free choice of every man to be lightened in the faith, and to come to salvation. You say well, if we knew not Saint Paul's meaning: but the very asses may have a bit there, as we say in common proverbs. If a man will read but three lines, he shall easily perceive, that Saint Paul speaks not here of every particular man; (as we showed already) but he speaks of all people, and of all states, and shows the case stands not as it did before the coming of Christ, when as there was but one chosen people; but now God shows himself a Saviour of all the world, according to that which was said: "Thine inheritance shall be even unto the end of the world."

Moreover, to the end that no man may abuse himself, or be deceived by their vain and foolish talk, which wrest and wrench Holy Writ, or rather pervert it, let us see how the saying of these enemies of God and all godliness may stand. God will have all men to be saved, that is to say, every one, as they imagine. If the will of God be so nowadays, no doubt it was like even from the beginning of the world; for we know that his mind does not change, he does not change as men do. So then, if at this day God will have all men to be saved, his mind was so always, and if his mind was so always, what shall we make of that that Saint Paul adds, that he will have all men come to the knowledge of [the] truth?

He chose but one certain people to himself, (as Saint Paul says, Acts 13) and left the poor Gentiles to walk in their ignorance. Could he not have executed his will at that time? Nay, even since the gospel, it was not his will that all should know the gospel at the first blow.

And thereupon, there were some countries where he would not suffer Saint Paul to preach, as in Bythinia, and in Phrygia, (Acts 16:7). And so we see that God would not have his knowledge come to every one at the first blow. And thus we may easily conclude against them which abuse this text, that Saint Paul does not speak int his place of the straight counsel of God, neither the he means to lead us to this everlasting election and choice which was before the beginning of the world, but only shows us what God's will and pleasure is, so far forth as we may know it.

It is true that God does not change, neither does he have two wills (emphasis Tartanarmy!), neither does he use any counterfeit dealing, as though he meant one thing, but would not have it so. And yet the Scriptures speak to us after two sorts touching the will of God. And how may that be? Seeing God uses no double dealing, seeing that there is nothing but a plain and simple meaning in him. How does it come to pass, that his will is spoken of in two sorts?

It is because of our grossness and rudeness, for we know that if God will come down to us, and give us any understanding of things, he must change his own hue. Why does he make himself to have eyes, to have ears, to have a nose? Why does he take upon himself men's affections? Why is it that he says [that] he is angry, [that] he is sorry? Is it not because we cannot comprehend him in his incomprehensible majesty? So then, it is no absurd matter, that Holy Writ should speak unto us of the will of God, after two sorts: not because his will is double, but to apply himself to our weakness, because our understanding is gross and heavy as lead.

And yet there is very good reason in all this same. Why so? When the Scripture tells us, that God has chosen such as it pleased him before the world was made, behold a straight counsel, whereinto we cannot enter. And why then does Holy Writ tell us that the election and choice of God is everlasting? It is not without cause. For it is a very profitable doctrine, if it be received as it ought to be.

For thereby we are put in mind, that we are not called to the knowledge of the gospel by reason of our own worthiness, for we are no better than others are, we are all taken out of the cursed root of Adam, we are all subject to one self-same condemnation, we are all shut up under the slavery of sin and death.

So then, when it pleased God to draw us out of the darkness of unbelief, and give us the light of his gospel, he cast not his eyes upon any service that we might have done, or any virtues that we might have brought him, there was no such thing; but he called us, as he had chosen us before. And this is the order whereunto saint Paul calls us in another place, in the eighth [chapter of his Epistle] to the Romans; in that, that we know God, we must not take the glory to ourselves, but hence it is, because our Lord and God chose us in himself, and would set it forth in effect and deed.

And thus the calling of the faithful hangs upon this counsel of God. Thus we see how, and how far our Lord and God declares and sets out unto us that which he had decreed of us, before we were born. Moreover, does he touch us with his Holy Spirit? We are ingrafted, as it were, into the body of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the true earnest penny of our adoption: this is the pledge which is given us, to put us out of all doubt that God takes us and holds us for his, when we are made one by faith with Jesus Christ, who is the only begotten Son, unto whom belongs the inheritance of life.

Seeing then that God gives us such a sure certificate of his will, see how he puts us out of doubt of our election, which we know not of, neither can perceive it, and it is as much as if he should draw out a copy of his will, and give it [to] us. He has the first copy, but yet he gives a counterpane good enough in law, to the end that even in our ignorance we may be notwithstanding out of doubt of our salvation, as we are put in hope, which we had been utterly void of, if Jesus Christ did not call us to be members of his body.

Thus we see how profitable this doctrine of election is unto us: first of all, it serves to humble us, in that we now that our salvation hangs not upon our deserts, neither upon our virtues which God might have found in us, but because he chose us before we were born, and before we could do neither good nor evil. And let this be for one note. Moreover, when we know that, according to this unchangeable election, God has called us to himself, we are hereby so much the more put out of doubt of our salvation as Jesus Christ shows it. No man shall take from him that that his Father hath given to him, (John 6:39). And what are they that the Father gives to Jesus Christ?

They whom he hath chosen, and whom he knows to be his. Seeing the case stands so that God has given us to his Son to be kept and defended, because he had chosen us before, and Jesus Christ promises and witnesses that none of us shall be lost, but that he will bestow al the might and power of his Godhead to save and defend us.

Is not this a comfort surpassing and surmounting all the treasure in the world? And is it not also the true ground whereupon all the assurance and certainty of our salvation is stayed and settled? For we are here all as birds upon boughs, as men say, we are set forth as a prey to Satan. What assurance then could we have for tomorrow, and for all our life; yea, and after death, were it not that God who has called us, will make an end of his work as he has begun. And how so? How has he gathered us together in the faith of his gospel? Is it grounded upon us? Nay, clean contrary, it proceeds from his mere and free election.

Therefore we have to be so much more out of doubt. So then, whensoever we are spoken unto touching election, we know that we must not busy ourselves to know more than God's counsel, then he speaks of [it] unto us, that is [to] say, then we have knowledge by [it] in Holy Writ. Behold I say, how simply we are given to understand of the will of God, I mean of that will which he shows us, so far forth as it is profitable for us.

There is moreover and besides, that a will of God, which is, as it were, open unto us. Such a one as he shows us, so oft as his Word is preached unto us. And what will is that? That it is, whereby he calls and exhorts us all to repentance. After that he has once shown us that we are all damned in his sight, and there is nothing but condemnation in us, he shows us that we must renounce ourselves, and get us out of this pit wherein we are [in] over the ears.

In that that God exhorts all men generally, thereby we may judge, that it is the will of God that all men should be saved, as he says also by the prophet Ezekiel; I will not the death of a sinner, but that he turn himself and live, (Ezek. 19:23; 33:11).

How will God [will] that sinners turn themselves? And how shall we know it? In so much as he will have repentance preached to all the world, both to great and small. When it is said that God will receive sinners to mercy, such as come to him and ask forgiveness, and that in Christ's name. Is this doctrine for two or three? No! no! It is a general doctrine. So then it is said that God will have all men to be saved, not having respect to that that we devise or imagine, that is to say, so far forth as our wits are able to comprehend it, for this is the measure that we must always come to. And that it is so, when the Scripture speaks of the love and will of God, let us see, if men can have repentance of their own motion and as they are self-taught, or whether it is God that gives it; yea, and that of an especial goodness. Mark how God says by his prophet, I will that all men turn themselves.

And can a man of himself turn himself? No! No! For if that were in us, it were more than to make us and experience itself sufficiently condemns us. It is moreover, an undoubted doctrine throughout the whole Scripture. For in every place, Our Lord Jesus gives himself the praise of turning us, saying that he will soften our stony hearts, and make them bow to obey him, and it is his work not only to give us that we may, but that we will and desire to obey his commandments, (Ezek. 36:26-27; Phil. 2:13). To be short, there is nothing that the faithful ought to do so much, as in this behalf to give God the glory, confessing that it is in him only to turn us, that it is he only that has adopted us in such sort, that he must needs draw us by the grace of his Holy Spirit. And this is one point, that we must be well resolved of.

As for faith, have men, I beseech you, so sharp wits, that they are able to attain unto this wonderful wisdom which is contained in the gospel, and such as the very angels themselves do reverence as Saint Paul speaks? But if we be so proud, let us mark what God says to us in his Word, that he must open our eyes, and he must bore open our ears, because the natural man does not understand one jot of the secrets of God. It is the Holy Ghost who opens them unto us. To be short, it is not possible to read three lines in Holy Write, but [that] we shall find some sentence or other, that men are utterly blind of their own nature, until God has opened their eyes, and they can in no wise come near him, until he draw them to him.

That it is a special gift which he gives us, when he [en]lightens us in the faith of his truth. Seeing the turning of men is in the hand of God, it follows that he does not give it to all men, for experience teaches us, and so the Scriptures speak: Thy God has not yet given thee an heart to understand, (Deut. 29:4). And again, it is showed us very often, that God casts not forth his grace as it were at haphazard, but that it is only for them whom he has chosen, and for them that are of the body of his church, and of his flock. And thus we see how the will of God is to be taken in this place of Saint Paul, when he says, that all men should be saved, that is to say, of all people and all states. And how is that? For he offers his gospel, says he, to all, which is the means to draw us to salvation. And does this profit all men?

No! No! As our own eyes can be witnesses. For when we have had our ears beaten with the truth of God, if we rebel against it, it shall be to our great condemnation. Yet so it is, that there are many which do not profit in the gospel, but rather become worse by it, yea, even of them to whom the gospel is preached, which are not all saved. Therefore God must go further to bring us to salvation, he must not only appoint men and send men to teach us faithfully, but he must play the matter within our hearts. He must touch us to the quick, he must draw us unto him, and must make his work not to be unprofitable to us, and cause it to take root in our hearts.

Moreover, we see it most evidently, and as a matter out of all doubt, that we have to consider the will of God after two sorts, in consideration and respect of our own reach; not that it is double of itself (as we said before), but in respect of our weakness, and because God abases himself, as well in this, as in all the rest, to make himself easy and familiar to our capacity. For we see how he frames his tongue and speech to us in his Word, as nurses use to do with young and suckling children. If God should speak unto us according to his majesty, his speech would be too high and hard for us to attain unto it, it would utterly confound us, it would astonish and amaze us. For if our eyes be not able to abide the clearness of the sun, are our minds, I pray you, able to comprehend that infinite majesty which is God? So then these beasts, which would destroy God's election, must not abuse this place, nor say, that we make a double will in God; for therein they do impudently and villainously misreport us. But we say as every man sees, that is, to wit, that as far as we can perceive, God would have all men to be saved, whensoever and how oft so ever he appoints his gospel to be preached unto us.

And why so? For (as we said before), the gate of paradise is opened unto us, when we are so called to be partakers of that redemption, which was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. And this is the will of God, such and so far forth as we can reach unto it, to wit, if he exhorts us to repentance, that he is ready to receive us when we come unto him. Now though we have answered and put away the doubts which may be moved upon this place, yet it shall be good to bring a similitude to make this doctrine more easy: I call a similitude that agreement and likelihood which God makes between the people of Israel and us. God said that he chose out for himself all the children of Abraham, to be his inheritance (Deut. 7:6-8), and dedicated them to himself, and loved them and took them for his own household.

And this is true: because he made his covenant with all them that were circumcised. Was circumcision a vain figure, and of no importance? Nay, it was a sure and undoubted gauge, that God had chosen [his] people for his own (Rom. 9:6-7), as he accounted all them for his flock which came of that race. And yet, was there not a special grace for some of that people? Yes surely, as Saint Paul well sets it forth. Not all they that came of the race of Abraham after the flesh are true Israelites; for God also deprived some of this benefit, to the end that his grace and goodness might seem so much the more and greater towards them who he had called to himself. Behold therefore, this will of God which was towards the people of Israel shows itself at this day towards us.

Wherefore? The gospel shall be preached where God has appointed it, and there shall be one self same order to hold throughout in all places alike, but we see that rather come to pass which was spoken by the prophet Amos, that God will rain upon one city, and be dry to another, that there shall be a famine of his truth in many places, (Amos 4:7). And so the Lord sends his gospel whither it pleases him, and yet is not his grace poured out upon Judea only, or upon one corner of that land, but upon all the world both here and thee, although there be not the like in every place. Yet can it not be, but God must work otherwise and further in them whom he will draw to himself.

For all of us have our ears stopped up, all of us have our eyes hood-winked; yea, and that more is, we are deaf and blind, unless he has touched us, and we receive his Word. And thus stands the will of God, which we have to understand after two sorts, even as holy Writ makes it plain unto us; not (as I said) that God is double in himself, or that his will is diverse and changeable. Now let us come to practice this doctrine, and let us mark first of all when the gospel is preached unto us, that it is as much as if God reached out his hand (as he speaks by the prophet Isaiah), and said unto us, Come to me, (Isaiah 65:2).

It is a matter which ought to touch us to the quick, when we see that God comes to seek us, and does not wait till we come unto him, but shows that he is ready to be made at one with us, although we were his deadly enemies, and seeks nothing but to wipe out all our faults, and make us partakers of that salvation which was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. And thus we see how worthily we have to esteem of the gospel, and what a treasure it is, accordingly as we have already alleged out of the first chapter [of the Epistle] to the Romans, that it is the mighty power of God to salvation to all them that believe, that it is the kingdom of heaven, and how be it God opens us the door, to the end that being got out of the pits wherein we are of nature sunk, we may enter into his glory. And let this be for one lesson.

Yet let us mark moreover, that it is not enough for us to receive the word that shall be preached unto us by the mouth of man, which is but a sound, which may vanish away into the air without any profit, but after that we have heard the Word of God, he must speak unto us inwardly by his Holy Spirit, for that is the only means to bring us to the knowledge of the truth.

And so, when God has dealt so mercifully with us as to give us the light of faith, let us hold it of him, and pray him to continue it, and bring this work to perfection, and let us not proudly lift up ourselves above other men, as though we were more worthy than they. We know that it is our God which has chosen us, and sets us apart from others of his mere goodness and free mercy. And this we are to mark upon this place. Know we moreover, that men are very faulty, when God offers them his Word, and they do not receive it. And surely this is partly spoken unto us, to the end that all the faithful should with all humility glorify the grace of God towards them, and partly to the end that unbelievers and rebels should have their mouths stopped, that they might not blaspheme against God as though he had been wanting to them.

For we see how he calls all them to salvation, to whom his Word is preached. If a man reply and say: yea, sir, but they cannot come to God. We cannot stand to plead here, for we shall find ourselves always in fault. If a man would say, it rests only in God's hands, but if he would give me repentance, could not he do it? And if I remain stiff-necked in mine hardness and malice, what should I do in that case, seeing that God will not give me repentance to turn to him?

Oh, this is not in any wise to be allowed of, for God calls us sufficiently unto him, and we cannot accuse him of cruelty, or that he was wanting unto us. For if we had not his Word, yet must we needs confess that he is just although we know not the cause that moves him to deprive us of it. But when we are called to come to God, and we know that he is ready to receive us, if we do not come, can we deny but that we are unthankful and slack?

But let us further mark that we may not separate the one from the other; salvation from the knowledge of the truth. For God means neither to lie nor to deceive men, when he says that when they come to the knowledge of truth, they shall be saved. If he gives not this knowledge to all, (as it has been said already), he is not bound unto us nor so much indebted to us. And as for the rest we cannot but remain always faulty.

But (as I have said), let us learn to join these two words together, God will have all men to be saved. And how? If they come to a knowledge of the truth. For this will hold us short, that we cannot run out of our compass as others do. Every man would be saved, but no man will draw nigh to God. Thus the Scripture holds us in this simplicity, that if we desire salvation, we must hold the means which is appointed for us and which God sets before us, that is to say, we must receive his Word with obedience of faith. This is everlasting life, says Christ, to wit, to know God his Father, and then to know him also, and to receive him as the only Saviour, (John 17:3). And therefore let us learn, as we have it here set forth unto us, not to doubt of the certainty of our salvation, for the kingdom of God is within us. And will we that God receive us?

Then must we receive this doctrine which Saint Paul gives us. For the will of God is our way. How are we raised again from the dead? How are we called to the hope of salvation? Even by God's good showing his love and favour to us; then we must remain and stand fast there. And thus we see in few words, what Saint Paul's meaning is, to wit, that for so much as God will have his grace to be known to all the world, and has commanded his gospel to be preached to all creatures, we must as much as lieth in us, procure the salvation of all them which are at this day strangers from the faith, and seem utterly to be deprived of the goodness of God, that we may bring them to it.

And why so? For Jesus Christ is not the Saviour of three or four, but he offers himself to all, and let this be for one lesson. Moreover, so oft as the gospel is preached to us, we have to know and consider that God calls us unto him, and it is not in vain, it shall not be lost labour, so that we come to him. And can we come to him of the motion of our own nature? Alas no! For we are wholly against him, (Rom. 8:7), and there is not one iota of affection in us, but are his utter enemy, as Saint Paul says, and we do daily rebel against him.

But when God deals so graciously with us, that he touches us with his Holy Spirit, then he causes his gospel to work profitably to our salvation, then he displays his virtue, which Saint Paul speaks of, for we believe nothing but what he speaks. Again, let us know that when the gospel is preached to us, it is to make us so much the more void of excuse. And why so? For seeing that God had already showed us that he was ready to receive us to mercy, if we had come to him, our condemnation shall no doubt be increased if we be so wicked, as to draw back, when he calls so mildly and lovingly. Yet notwithstanding, (as we are here exhorted), let us not leave off to pray for all men in general, for Saint Paul shows us, that God will have all men to be saved, that is to say of all people and nations.

And therefore we must not settle ourselves in such sort upon the diversity which is seen amongst men, that we forget that God has made us all to his image and likeness, that we are his workmanship, that he may stretch forth his goodness over them which are at this day far from him, as we have good proof of it.

For when he drew us unto him, (as it was showed before) were we not his enemies? How then comes it to pass, that we are now of the household of faith, the children of God, and members of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it not because he had gathered us unto himself? And is he not the Saviour of the whole world as well? Is Jesus Christ come to be the Mediator between two or three men only?

No! No! But he is the Mediator between God and men. And therefore, we may be so much the more assured, that God take sand holds us for his flock, if we endeavour to bring them to God which are this day, as it were, far off. And therefore let us comfort ourselves, and take good hearts unto us in our calling, that albeit there be at this day an horrible forlornness, so that it may be well seeing that we are very miserable creatures, utterly cast away and condemned yet must we labour as much as we can to draw them to salvation which seem to be far off, and above all things let us pray to God for them, waiting patiently till it pleases him to show his good will toward them, as he has already showed it upon us.

Now let us fall down before the face of our good God, and confess our faults, praying him that it would please him to make us feel them in such sort, that being beaten down within ourselves, we may be bold, notwithstanding, to come to him, because he calls us so lovingly, and doubt not but he will hear our prayers, which we shall make unto him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that he would make us always feel the fruit of our prayers, when we call upon him with a true faith and repentance. That he be not only gracious unto us, but also to all people and nations of the earth.
 This sermon is from a Wm. B. Eerdmans' volume which was a reprint of the only sizable collection of John Calvin's sermons translated into the English language since the Sixteenth Century and the only volume ever published in America up to that time (1949). The collection was originally published in a limited edition in 1830 by John Forbes of New York.

Reflections from the past.

On the matter of the well meant offer, God's love and accomplished atonement, it was interesting to read a conversation I had a while back at Phil's Team Pyro.

Mark

See Here

Scripture interprets scripture.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Upward and God-ward.

I was hoping that someone here could answer this for me. If we are so depraved that we are dead and dead in our sins and unable to respond, after all dead people do not respond, then how can a believer who is dead to sin still sin? I mean dead is dead right? Would this not be why we have prevenient grace that enables a person to either accept/reject the gospel? And while we are at it, why is accepting a gift called a work by Calvinists, it is still all of grace. Just accepting something that you do not deserve does not mean that you can boast or take credit that is just silly.


When Scripture (and Calvinism) refers to the deadness of mankind, it is talking about man's inability in one direction, IE Upward and God-ward. The direction of Spiritual good. The direction of God's righteousness. The direction of being able in and of itself to please God.
Being "dead" in sin has no biblical application that extends beyond that.
So, to say man is dead in his sin, does not mean he is literally dead and therefore being dead he cannot sin or being dead he cannot do anything!

Arminians need to follow the teaching/description of being "dead" as far as scripture applies it.

Think of man, all men, being on a "horizontal plain". All men are born as sinners and are equal in that sense. We are all like "worms" comparing ourselves to other "worms", but still worms.
On the horizontal plane, we are unable to rise above it and interact with the life of God. Let us call that realm the Vertical plane.
Man has no inherent ability to traverse from the horizontal to the vertical. Man is "dead" meaning spiritually unable to bridge the two planes.

Being "regenerated" or being "Born again" or being "made spiritually alive" bridges the gap between God and man.
Until that happens by God's grace alone, there is no "spiritual life" in man, but death only, leading to ultimate physical death and eternal death.

Hope that helps.

As far as "Prevenient grace is concerned, I do not find the concept in scripture. I see it as a way of holding on to libertarian freedom. A concept scripture does not teach in any way, shape or form.
Prevenient grace only facilitates the idea that men still have the ability to make use of God's grace. Such an idea is not compatible with "Grace".
And that answers your last objection as to faith and works. If one person makes better use of this supposed "prevenient" grace, then the difference between the saved and the unsaved is not "God's grace" but rather mans use of this thing called "Prevenient grace".
It makes real grace, into prevenient grace, which in turn depends upon the will and nature of man. It turns Grace into a work.
It is not about "simply" accepting a gift. It is all about a dead man being resurrected from his own spiritual grave!
It is like Lazarus being raised from the tomb. He did not accept anything! He was like an illustration of the old words in that Hymn Amazing grace. He was blind and made to see. He was lost and found. He was dead and stinketh, but was commanded to come forth! That is the new birth physically and graphically illustrated by Jesus Himself!