An Argument for or Against Calvinism

One could make a strong argument that there is a real problem with the Calvinist’s position on soteriology: if God and God alone saves the elect and He and He alone is responsible for all who are saved, then why is it that so few in our world are actually saved? It would be difficult to even venture to guess what the percentage of Christians is in the US today much less the percentage of the population of the world might be. If one were to go back even 25 years when satellite television and the internet were just beginning to make a mark in the communications explosion, evangelism opportunities and the proclamation of the gospel message were not as easily available then as they are today. It would appear that the percentage of the world’s population that has heard about Christ and has had an opportunity to respond to the good news of Jesus is at least greater today than it has been at any time in the history of the world. With this in mind, while a very small number of people around the world are Christian, that number must be significantly greater today than in any generation before. So, if God is responsible for every person who will spend eternity in heaven as the Calvinist contends, then why is this number or percentage of the world’s population so pitifully poor?

Here is another question that seriously challenges irresistible grace and limited atonement and unconditional election: if God and God alone saves the elect and He and He alone is responsible for all who are saved, why are our churches are so weak and why are there so few in our churches who are committed to walking with God as He would have them walk? Some have argued that many on the average church roll are not even saved and there is no debating the fact that a vast majority of those on the church rolls (who may be saved) show very little commitment to God or His church. If God and God alone regenerates individuals and those and only those are truly born again, then something is terribly wrong because God does not fail in anything He does. If His grace is efficacious as Calvinists’ contend, God’s sovereignty in salvation is certainly subject to challenge as its effect is obviously suspect in the lives of those He supposedly has efficaciously called to be His people. Because God has made Jesus BOTH SAVIOR AND LORD, He cannot make Jesus one without making Him both, if He is the One who is solely responsible for this conversion process in the first place. Since this is not the case, it has to cast doubt on the exent of God’s involvement in this process as posited by the Calvinist’s position.

If on the other hand, salvation is a choice made by individuals who have been convicted of their sin and are responsible for their own choice, the whole scenario changes. If God in His sovereignty chose to make man sovereign over his choices and responsible for those choices, then the lack of spiritual commitment in the body is explainable as well as the lack of evangelistic fervor in our world. While there is no question about the importance of one’s responsibility to walk with God and be involved in evangelism in the Calvinist platform, the lack of either hardly limits God’s ability to do what He intended to do from the foundation of the world where conversion and salvation are concerned. The fact that neither, conversion nor sanctification is as pronounced as one would expect it to be in the world or even in America, a “God fearing” society, would seem to be an argument against the tents of Calvinism as opposed to an argument in support for it.

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33 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Les on April 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Bob, I’ll offer a few observations/questions.

    You: “So, if God is responsible for every person who will spend eternity in heaven as the Calvinist contends, then why is this number or percentage of the world’s population so pitifully poor?”

    First question is this: Is not God responsible for anyone who is saved? “Salvation is from the Lord.”

    Observation: Why even ask this question. It presupposes that you are looking around the world, assuming that the # of saved is small, further assuming that the # of people who SHOULD be saved is large, and all the while looking really only at a snapshot of human history. It is a flawed question on several levels.

    You: “if God and God alone saves the elect and He and He alone is responsible for all who are saved, why are our churches are so weak and why are there so few in our churches who are committed to walking with God as He would have them walk?”

    Observation: This one is easy. “Not everyone who PROFESSES Christ is actually born again. You also asked, “If His grace is efficacious as Calvinists’ contend, God’s sovereignty in salvation is certainly subject to challenge as its effect is obviously suspect in the lives of those He supposedly has efficaciously called to be His people.”

    Yes, His grace is efficacious. Yes He is sovereign. But as you know from scripture and from your own history as a pastor, every person making a profession of faith (and joining the church) has not been irresistibility called by he Holy Spirit at that time. I am a living example of such a person…POF at 13, pitiful example of a Christian church member (because I was not a Christian at that time) and irresistibility called later in life.

    The answer to your musings is this: God saves sinners. When He efficaciously calls, sinners choose Christ. They become part of the church universal, and in most cases part of a local assembly. That local assembly is made up of wheat and tares. The tares you see are causing you to see doubt cast on Calvinism. No, the blame is not on Calvinistic soteriology. The blame for weak churches is sinners redeemed by His grace (but sinners still nonetheless) and false professors making up the visible church.

    Reply

  2. Les,

    You are missing the point of my post. First of all, salvation is of the Lord; I am not dismissing that. As you know, I do not believe God and God alone is responsible for who is and who is not saved as Calvinists contend.

    I do not know know ANYONE who thinks the number of people in the world that is Christian is anything but small… and it would seem to even the most casual of observers that the number of those who need to be saved (or are saved) ought to be much larger than it is… AND… there is at least an argument, if God were as the Calvinist posits, solely responsible for those who are and will be saved, that number would seem to be much larger than it actually is… and that is the thrust of my point.

    Add to that those who are ACTUALLY saved, if God were solely responsible for them being saved by regeneration, then it would seem to me that they would also have to be regenerated to make Jesus Lord… because He is BOTH Savior and Lord… I understand the argument that Jesus IS LORD whether one acknowledges it or not, but If God is making Christ Savior in the heart of the unregenerate, seems to me He would also make Jesus Lord in that person’s heart as well. That is my point. It is clear that those who are in the church at least that I am familiar with, both tares and wheat, are a far cry from what they ought to be as God has given us charge.

    Seems to me the argument that the “tares are causing the problem” runs against the grain of Calvinist thought since man is depraved and only God can overcome that depravity and if He overcomes it, then there is no concern about what the tares are doing…

    Since these conditions do exist as you acknowledge, I am simply arguing the point that reality as we know it is a major argument against the tenets of Calvinism as an argument for it, as I see it.

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  3. Posted by Les on April 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Bob,

    I don’t know what percentage of the world population is professing Christian. I don’t think it is a majority, but I just don’t know. And actually, since I am a postmillennialist, I believe that before Jesus returns that most of the world existing at that time will in fact be Christian. But that’s another topic.

    My point to counter what you are saying is this: assuming the # of people who are Christians is small, that in no way is a reflection on monergistic regeneration. Just because Calvinists believe that God and God alone regenerates apart from any human participation does not mean that God is obligated to regenerate a larger number of people at a given point in history (which is what we are looking at right now as look at the world population of Christians). He saves His elect in His own timing.

    Second, truly born again people are under the Lordship of Christ. Calvinists believe in what John MacArthur (Calvinists) called Lordship Salvation in his book. Calvinists believe that truly born again people cannot be carnal Christians for long, long periods of time. Calvinists believe that true faith yields the fruit of works.

    Now, can a truly born again have sin and even have periods of time where they are ensnared by besetting sins and fall grievously into sin? Sure. We both believe that, right?

    But it is a false comparison to say, “but If God is making Christ Savior in the heart of the unregenerate, seems to me He would also make Jesus Lord in that person’s heart as well.” He does in those truly born again.

    Blessings,

    Les

    Reply

  4. Posted by John W. on April 5, 2012 at 2:06 am

    I don’t see anything in this post that presents a challenge to Calvinism, either theologically or biblically. Jesus always compared the Kingdom of God to things that were very small. But I would like to comment on the sociology presented in the post.

    The revisionistic “Christian Heritage” of the United States causes many people to think that Christianity in America is the “gold standard” of Biblical Christianity and then impose that paradigm on the rest of the world.

    The reality is that “Christian America” is going the way of “Christian Europe.” Outside of the West, you don’t see the type of “Carnal Christianity” that you see in America. I have missionary friends in Burkina Faso and Togo and Benin, West Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Greece, Romania, China and the Philippines. My best friend from high school’s father was a missionary in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime. I also have a friend who currently travels the world preaching huge evangelistic crusades where it is not uncommon to see hundreds come to Christ at a time! Christianity is growing around the world, especially in South America, Africa and Asia. And from what I hear from missionaries and believers in those places, the “American” brand of Christianity that separates justification and sanctification wouldn’t last very long, because in their context following Jesus’ command to “take up your cross and follow Me” requires a more substantial commitment than in America.

    Too many Americans Christians want to infuse their faith with democracy, self-reliance, and American independence. To me, this is no different from the pagan syncretism found among the African nations. And we dare not try to import an “American” version of the Gospel to the nations.

    Too many Americans are looking to a savior to come to Washington D.C. to restore some type of Fantasy-Utopian Christian-America. Realistically, both Scripture and history attest to the fact that God uses persecution to grow authentic biblical Christianity more than anything else.

    Reply

    • John,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. One of the reasons I blog in the first place is sometimes the comments of others helps me think through things and your comment above did just that. You are correct, “Jesus always compared the Kingdom of God to things that were very small.” Jesus said in Matt 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” The question I had to ask myself is WHY did Jesus make this statement and others like it? Notice Jesus said, “few find it.” This is not God’s choice nor is it His will. He is not the One who is at fault for the few finding life; man is solely at fault.

      The reason He said what He did had NOTHING to do with God but EVEYTHING to do with man. Men continually do what seems right in his own mind as opposed to hearing and heeding the Word of God that brings life to man. After all, Jesus did say, “I am the what? THE WAY. No man comes to the Father but by Me. We have to do the same thing Jesus did; we have to willing surrender ourselves to the cross if we want to have any hope of heaven.

      This illustrates the thrust of my original post. If God were the One solely responsible for all who repent and exercise saving faith as the Calvinist contends, THEN Jesus would not be making these kind of “small comparisons… instead of the broad way leading to destruction, if God were responsible, that way would be narrow and the broad way would lead to life. Since God has given the responsibility for us to choose the path, the paths we choose are all too often the wrong ones and that is why they lead to destruction instead of life.

      I agree with most of what you say in the bulk of the rest of your post. However, your criticism really has nothing do with the original intent of my original post because I am not in the least advocating anything of the sort that you describe. I could argue your statement actually supports my original post because the point I was trying to make was this; If God is the One who makes Jesus our Savior as the Calvinist contends then God would be the One who would make Jesus our Lord as well; God cannot make Jesus Savior and not Lord because He is the One who made Him BOTH LORD and SAVIOR in the first place.

      The very fact that Jesus is obviously NOT both Savior and Lord for most Christians, is proof as I see it that He does not regenerate us so that we can be saved; for if He did do it that way, Jesus would automatically be BOTH Savior and Lord because He would see to it. If it is our responsibility to respond and our response determines God’s response to us, THEN all that changes, which is what I believe more accurately reflects the teaching of the Scriptures.

      I have been to South America and have experienced first hand the fresh winds of revival that are there. Those winds can blow once again in America if we will just look to Christ who came to give life to anyone who would call upon His name!

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      Reply

  5. Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Bob, you know where I stand on this Calvinism question already, but with that said I think I agree that the specific questions you gave aren’t threatening the doctrine.

    1) According to Calvinist mentality (as we saw in previous threads on this blog) God is not willing that all be saved or come to a knowledge of the truth, neither did he so love the world that he sent his only begotten Son. Calvinism uses different meanings for “willing”, “all”, and/or “world” as necessary, and as such the “failure rate” of the world doesn’t enter into this.

    2) According to Calvinist doctrine, you cannot use current behavior as any indicator of who is actually belonging to God or not. Adolph Hitler may have been among the elect and regenerated in his last dying nanoseconds upon this earth, and John Calvin may have been among those who were damned from the beginning of creation and he would have no way of knowing until he found himself burning and screaming in hell fire.

    3) Expanding on point two, I will emphasize that it doesn’t matter how insincere the church rolls or the numbers of those who call themselves Christian, under Calvinist theology a 99.99% of the world population could be among the elect and you would have no way of telling. As a logical extension, it isn’t far to extend that 99.99% to 100% except for token person to burn and laugh at for eternity, just to keep folks like Tertullian happy.

    As a side note, if you don’t feel that God needs that token person to torture then you’ve arrived at a place where Universalism becomes viable. I have been watching Universalists the last couple of weeks, and what I have noticed is that they all seemed to arrive from Calvinism, relying upon the same denial of free will.

    Although they claimed that Universalism works under both models, when I have tested them they have always depended upon the Calvinist model that denies free will and they had no answers under Arminian or Open Theist models.

    Reply

    • Andrew,

      Frankly I have NO idea how to respond to your comment for I see absolutely NO relevance to your remarks to the intent or content of my original post.

      Well… let me try… You wrote… “According to Calvinist mentality (as we saw in previous threads on this blog) God is not willing that all be saved or come to a knowledge of the truth, neither did he so love the world that he sent his only begotten Son. Calvinism uses different meanings for “willing”, “all”, and/or “world” as necessary, and as such the “failure rate” of the world doesn’t enter into this.”

      I fully understand WHAT you are saying and I think I agree with the overall assessment; my point is the fact that the “failure rate” is so high is PROOF POSITIVE that the Calvinist’s soteriology is all wrong! The reality of it all proves to me God and God alone is not the One who is responsible for who is and is not saved. If He were the one who was responsible as the Calvinists’ posit, then the success rate of conversions would be out the roof instead of it being the other way around. That is MY POINT.

      Your behavior arguments are not at all applicable to the remarks related to God making Jesus BOTH Savior and Lord; again the fact that Jesus is NOT Lord for Christians as He ought to be is again proof that God did not effectually do either, because if He did make Jesus Savior He would have made Him Lord as well. Both of those are our choices to make as He leads and draws.

      Maybe that helps?

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      Reply

  6. Posted by Bob on April 6, 2012 at 10:34 am

    Pastor Bob,

    I’m delighted to have stumbled across your site and wonder if you’re nibbling on the (at least to me) “mother-load” of Calvinistic doctrinal problems – definitions? In my own dealings with Calvinists, I am perplexed as how one one tenant of TULIP follows another. I actually find Calvinism to be rather logical – even if I’m inclined to disagree with it. At the same time, I’m often overwhelmed and simply amazed at the apparent depth i.e. number of verses/passages that Calvinists use to justify Reformed theology. How is it, then, that the likes of John Piper/John MacArthur can have a doctrinal belief system that is so diametrically different than, say, Bob George or Greg Boyd? Romans chapter nine, for instance, is used by both sided to justify either individual or corporate election. And more recently, I’ve been involved in arguments with Calvinists who emphatically state that John 3:16 isn’t referring to God loving EVERY PERSON in the world but instead those words Jesus spoke are only directed at those individually elected persons. How can this possibly be unless there are significant differences or variations of the definitions used. If scientists can agree on such things as the periodic table to define the interactions of elements, why can’t Christians agree on the, if I may, “truths” pertaining to Christian doctrines?

    I hate my own reaction when, as recently happened, a Calvinist friend was asking for prayer for a young child stricken with cancer. Not the week before we had a discussion as to free will vs determinism. My friend absolutely believes in sovereign control of all events in the world. I came so close to blurting out, “What the Hell? You believe God gave this kid cancer so how dare you now try to get God to change his mind?” This event further solidified my contention that Calvinists have their doctrine nailed down and yet they themselves are, to greater or lesser degrees, uncomfortable with the ramifications or logical conclusions and practical applications of that doctrine.

    I wish I felt stronger in my own faith. But I am weak and frustrated that I am unable to convince Calvinists of (what I believe to be, anyway) the error in their doctrine. I know Calvinists despise the likes of Dave Hunt (What Love Is This?). If Calvinism is true, then what love is this? To that point, as a father of three, I can’t imagine having brought a child into this world for the specific intent of damning him and showing favoritism to the other two. And I’ve yet to meet a Calvinist father who disagrees with my simple analogy. The usual response seems to be, “Well, I’m not God and I can’t fathom his ways and his will.” Whatever.

    Well, sorry to have taken up so much space. Again, thanks for this post.

    Regards // Bob

    Reply

    • Bob… I like that name… spells the same backwards and forwards!

      Welcome to Transformed Theology. I do agree with you that Calvinism is very logically constructed and that is the reason I believe it is so popular among the “young intellectuals” today. It “seems” seems to answer all the right questions with very solid answers. I maintain one cannot be a calvinist just reading the Bible; calvinists read calvinist writers and become calvinists. No one is going ot read the Bible and come to the conclusions total depravity or inability tout. It is not going to happen.

      No one is going to read the Bible and decide that Jesus only died for a select few; that He did not die for the sins of the vast majority of people who will die without Christ and spend eternity in hell. That is NOT going to happen. No one is going to read the Bible and decide that God only loves a very select group of people that He will chose to save from hell and allow them to come to heaven. I do not believe ANYONE is going to come to an understanding of irresistible grace by reading the Bible…

      But… my goal is not to convert calvinists and certainly not to be converted. I write to share my ideas and to read what others say to help challenge my own beliefs and then seek with an open mind to make the most of what the Scriptures say. If my writing gives someone strength then that is another benefit as well.

      I really do not understand how we can have so many different theological positions and they are not certainly limited to the calvinist dimemna; I mean when Catholics, Baptists, Pentecostals and who knows who else can read the same Bible and come up with so many different “truths” it is certianly beyond me! I guess it only proves that God loves diversity.

      I agree with you on the love issue; if the gospel is good news to the elect only as the calvinist contends, then it is not the good news to the whole world. I believe wholeheartedly it is the latter and IF people do not accept it, it is THEN their problem and not God’s. The Great Commission also stresses the importance of our own priorities as God’s children as well for as one athiest stated, “how much do we have to hate someone NOT to tell them about Jesus?”

      Visit anytime. There is a LOT here to read.

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      Reply

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 6, 2012 at 5:56 pm

        Bob… I like that name… spells the same backwards and forwards!

        This is entirely off topic, but thanks to you talking about spelling names backwards I just put this together:

        * meaning of the name Andrew = strong, manly
        * spelling the name backwards, it forms “We ‘R DNA”

        … so it doesn’t spell itself backwards, but it does form a funny sentence. 🙂

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      Praying for the young child would be asking for God to intervene. But if God had determined (or allowed) that the child would become sick, then wouldn’t praying for God to intervene be asking Him to change his mind?

      One of the folk that sometimes comment on this board (and looking above it seems that he even commented on this specific page) once said that in spite of the various scriptures that describe God as responding to men and thus changing his mind, that this was only a literary device to make God seem human, a type of anthropomorphism. So if I were to believe him, prayer would be logically inconsistent with Calvinist belief.

      Or at the very least, effective prayer would be inconsistent. Perhaps Calvinists (or at least some Calvinists) believe that we are supposed to pray even knowing that it God will not listen (for that would insult his sovereignty?)

      Yet Jesus told us to pray, and said that God would give us good things if we would but ask of him, so the Calvinist premise seem to be in conflict with Christian belief and practice.

      Reply

      • Posted by Bob on April 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

        To me it is ironic that Calvinistic dogma seems to be in stark contrast to Christian belief and practice. But I’m a free-willer. As such, it’s difficult for me to understand why Calvinists (at least those “determinists” I seem to come into contact with) would pray, evangelize, or even do those mundane things i.e. look for a job, think about which car or house they want to buy – or even for that matter, date other people for the purpose of finding a suitable life’s mate. God is sovereign and he’s already determined, for the purpose of his glory, all that is going to happen. At least, that’s what I hear. But, every Calvinist I know seems to be weighing options and trying to make informed (smart?) decisions on just about any and everything. Yeah, to me Calvinism is one perpetual conflict after another. But, as I indicated above, I’m not a Calvinist. To which, I suppose, my Calvinist friends are grateful. 😉

      • Bob,

        The determinist and even soft determinist position that calvinists take is difficult for me to accept. In fact, I use that argument to explain why I am NOT a calvinist; if God wanted me to be one, He would make me one and sense He has not done that, I must be where He wants me to be. Works for me!

        One of the major problems I have with calvinism is the issue of reprobation and double predestination. When one makes God solely responsible for who is saved, that by default makes Him solely responsible for those who are not saved and even if I were tempted to lean toward calvinism, I don’t think I could do so because of the implications it casts against the loving character of God, as I see it. To me, God is shaking His head in heaven as I am sure He must have been doing when Israel looking at the Scriptures failed to recognize and accept the Messiah when He came!

        Glad to have you following Transformed Theology.

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  7. Posted by John W. on April 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Bob,

    You said, “This is not God’s choice nor is it His will. He is not the One who is at fault for the few finding life; man is solely at fault.

    The reason He said what He did had NOTHING to do with God but EVEYTHING to do with man.”

    I understand the temptation to feel this way. After all, with statements like God “is not willing that any should perish” and “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” in the Bible, it certainly seems like God wants as many people as possible, potentially every single one of them, to end up saved.

    And the contradiction between than desire and its inconsistency with Calvinistic soteriology is crucial to your argument.

    When starting with the reality of the state of mankind and then working towards an understanding God, it’s easy to see why many people try to devise a system that makes God appear more successful. God wants to save everyone, but through no fault of His own, he cannot. So he does the best He can and hopes for the best.

    It’s the “American Way” to want to be successful and popular. And we want to support people and things that are dominant. It makes us look stronger and smarter, and feel better about ourselves. That’s why so many people buy Apple and Mac products and jump on the bandwagons of Alabama football and Kentucky basketball.

    I get what you’re saying, that Jesus’ statement about the smallness of the Kingdom is a passive description of the Kingdom based on His knowledge of the end results of human choices under your system of salvation. But I would argue that, even in your belief system, to the extent that God is an active participant in the salvation of mankind, God’s limited actions still do not coincide with your understanding of His “desire for all men to be saved.”

    Jesus was a colossal failure for most of earthly ministry. Jesus chose 12 followers who were hot-headed, stubborn, unintelligent, uneducated, and one of them Jesus even knew from the beginning was a devil! After 3 years of training, Jesus still couldn’t get the disciples to understand his plan for the Kingdom. If he had chosen better followers, his ministry could have resulted in more people believing.

    How many times in the gospels did Jesus try to convince people to believe and follow him, but failed? The rich young ruler went away sorrowful. In John 6, Jesus starts off teaching to a multitude and by the end everyone gets angry and leaves, except for the 12. Jesus could have chosen to do things differently which would have resulted in more people following him.

    In Mark 4, Jesus was asked why He spoke in parables. Jesus explained that He spoke plainly to the disciples so that they would understand, but Jesus chose to speak only in parables to everyone else so that, “they may look and look, yet not perceive; they may listen and listen, yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back— and be forgiven.”

    If Jesus truly wanted everyone to be saved, why did he not choose to speak to them differently which Jesus stated would result in their being forgiven?

    In Matthew 11, after spending more than a year teaching and performing miracles in Galilee, Jesus denounces the cities there for their unbelief. But if Jesus really wanted everyone in those cities to be saved, why did he then immediately say, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure. All things have been entrusted to Me by My Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.”

    Jesus chose to reveal the Father to some and not others. If God desires everyone to be saved, why didn’t Jesus reveal the Father to all instead of hiding the truth from some and only revealing it to others? Why didn’t Jesus choose to reveal the Father to everyone?

    And God’s series of poor choices did not begin with Jesus. Back in Genesis 12, God chose for himself a people. There were many people groups on earth at that time to choose from. There were large, strong, smart, successful, and dominant nations available. But God didn’t choose any of them. He decided to start a new group.

    When choosing a patriarch for this group, he could have chosen any number of strong, wise, intelligent, successful, virile men. Instead God chose Abram, a timid old man with no children and a sterile wife. Clearly if God’s desire was for all of mankind to be saved, then this was a terrible choice, was it not? Was the verse which says that God, “who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” true at the moment God chose Abraham? If so, why didn’t He choose someone who would be better and more successful and faithful than Abraham and Israel?

    It seems to me that God’s choices which have lead to this “failure rate” make more sense in a Calvinistic understanding of salvation.

    Let’s say that you’re right. God is not ultimately responsible for who chooses to be saved. But God does make some choices. He chose Abraham. He chose Israel. He chose the timing and means of sending His Son. He chose the means of salvation as solely through the preaching, hearing and responding to the Gospel, knowing that most would not hear and respond. These are not passive choices God has to make in response to sovereign human choices. These are God’s actions which precede and affect human choices.

    Throughout recorded Biblical history, when God makes a choice that directly or indirectly affects human salvation, his choice is obviously not always made on the basis of which option will result in the largest number of salvations.

    Let’s say you’re right, that God has made mankind ultimately sovereign over their choices. Do you agree that an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God could have chosen different actions or done more than He has to alter human history and influence human choices which would have resulted in more salvations?

    Reply

    • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      John, I acknowledge that you are obviously trying to look carefully at this, but there is a big gap in your logic, an unwarranted assumption, if you will. God does truly want all men to come to a knowledge of the truth, but every man in his own order. He has designated that he will do things in a certain way, and obviously he has not yet revealed himself to everyone that has ever lived.

      The missing element in your puzzle is that God’s sense of timing may be different than man’s sense of timing, which thinks that everything must happen right this instant.

      Jesus spoke in parables so the people would not understand, but if he had commanded thunder and lightning in front of the Pharisees, then how would they have crucified him for the scripture to be fulfilled? Did people die without ever hearing Christ’s message during those years that Jesus spoke in parables? Yes, both those within Judea and people on islands on the other side of the globe. Did Jesus fail? No, not when you understand his goal from the proper perspective.

      Yes, it is true that only a small number of individuals can be reached at any given time, but does this render God a failure or justify Calvinism’s “Limited Atonement” as an explanation? No, it does not. Scripture does answer this question if we will look for it.

      Reply

      • Posted by John W. on April 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        Andrew,

        Could you clarify this statement: The missing element in your puzzle is that God’s sense of timing may be different than man’s sense of timing, which thinks that everything must happen right this instant.

        I don’t want to put words in your mouth, and I can’t figure out how what I said relates to a difference between God’s sense of timing and man’s sense of timing.

        If God truly desires the salvation of every single individual, then why would he risk their eternal damnation by toying with their eternal destinies by surreptitiously speaking in parables, in order to hide the truth from them lest they be forgiven?

        Suppose there was someone listening to one of Jesus’ parables, and they did not understand, and that was the only time they ever heard Jesus’ message and they died without repenting. Then Jesus made a terrible choice contrary to God’s will that God is not willing that none should perish, but all should come to repentance.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        I would be glad to clarify by answering both questions:

        Question One:

        If God truly desires the salvation of every single individual, then why would he risk their eternal damnation by toying with their eternal destinies by surreptitiously speaking in parables, in order to hide the truth from them lest they be forgiven?

        Yes, granted that God truly desires the salvation of every single individual. This is clearly stated throughout scripture, evident in God’s appeals to whomever will hear, and even explicitly stated in passages like John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9… [premise accepted]

        God risked the damnation of every man and woman when he created them and placed them in the garden, so “risk” is not really the best perspective from which to approach…

        He spoke to them in parables to keep them from understanding so that the scene which he had prophesied would unfold, so that he would be lifted up to draw all men unto him, as a statement that would resound throughout the world for all eternity. God knew the imagery he wanted and he had prophesies to fulfill.

        I think you are hanging on to certain presumptions that are getting in the way, but it is difficult for me to address them unless you are able to state them yourself.

        Question Two (which seems to be a continuation of question one):

        Suppose there was someone listening to one of Jesus’ parables, and they did not understand, and that was the only time they ever heard Jesus’ message and they died without repenting. Then Jesus made a terrible choice contrary to God’s will that God is not willing that none should perish, but all should come to repentance.

        Okay, granted that there was probably at least one person who was standing within hearing range of Jesus as he spoke to the multitudes, and that this person did not understand the message.

        I can also accept the scenario that something may have happened to that person even immediately afterwards. Perhaps he may have perished when the tower of Siloam fell (as referenced in Luke 13:4).

        Your conclusion is breaks because you have skipped a very important step in all of this. When this (hypothetical) person left the audience and perished in the tower of Siloam, what happens next? What is the most vital tenet of the Judaic and Christian faith that Paul said was central to the gospel?

        This is something that we need to step through slowly, allowing everything to be confirmed from scripture, questioning any assumptions that lack biblical support.

      • Posted by John W. on April 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm

        Andrew,

        You didn’t clarify what you meant by “God’s timing” and “man’s timing.”

        In order to avoid playing rhetorical games, I was trying to give you the opportunity to put your cards on the table, but you danced around the issue. So I will try a more direct approach.

        Do you believe in salvation after death and annihilationism ?

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm

        John, it would have been good if you had directly answered that one question,

        When this (hypothetical) person left the audience and perished in the tower of Siloam, what happens next? What is the most vital tenet of the Judaic and Christian faith that Paul said was central to the gospel?

        The answer I was hoping that we could agree upon is that the resurrection of the dead is the vital gospel that Paul preached (for example, see 1 Corinthians 15, whole chapter) and that when a typical person dies, the next order in the chain of events is the judgment, as in “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

        Answering your question directly as it was asked, according to the scriptures, salvation after death is the only type of salvation that has been offered. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die” (1 Corinthians 15:36) and in another place he says “These all died in faith, not having received the promises…” (Hebrews 11:13).

        So do I believe in salvation after death? Absolutely, and without this hope my faith would be in vain, for those who had died in Christ would have simply perished, and I of all men would be most miserable (1 Corinthians 15:19).

        However, I anticipate that you meant to ask a different question, so this once I will attempt to restructure your question for what I think you meant to ask:

        “Do you believe that it would be possible for any that are raised in that great judgment in the last day may repent before the Lord and receive salvation?”

        And to this I would answer that my God is a God that has said that he will never reject a broken and a contrite heart, that he will never despise genuine repentance, regardless of whether one labors in the field for the full day or returns as the prodigal son after having spent their inheritance (see Psalm 24:18, Psalm 51:17, Luke 15:32, Matthew 20:1-15).

        If I believe that free will (and the ability to choose life and death) is part of the human condition, an aspect of the every living breathing soul, then it seems to me that there might be a reason why God will raise the wicked to life. If God is waiting to judge the dead, he might have a reason. As Bob and Les have both agreed, there is hope for someone while they are alive, but I will add that it is impossible for the dead to repent (or even to praise the LORD, see Psalm 115:17).

        If that does not answer your question, then you may ask as many questions as you like. Alternatively, additional support for my existing answer is also available upon request (I keep finding more on this…)

        You then asked if I believed in annihilationism. If you meant to ask if I believe that God shall burn up the wicked that they be left neither root nor branch, that they shall become ashes beneath the feet of the righteous, that they melt away, destroyed both body and soul, then this is what I believe because that is what the scripture plainly says (see Malachi 4:1, Matthew 3:12, Psalm 112:10, Matthew 10:28). God has the power to create and to destroy, and he has promised to annihilate the wicked to make room for the new heavens and the new earth (see Revelation, last chapters.)

        As I have watched the comments for this particular post, I have not seen anyone else come forward with satisfying answers for the moral questions that have been raised, and I think it is because they are operating under bad assumptions. So thus I answer as Paul,

        Act 24:14-16 KJV
        (14) But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:
        (15) And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.
        (16) And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.

        When Jesus speaks of separating the sheep from the goats on the final day, and in Revelation when it tells us of the white throne judgment, it certainly seems like there are at least a few sheep and that some are spared that fire and enter into the gates of the city.

        God must surely have a reason for raising the rest of the dead (Revelation 20:5) and although closure would be a reason enough in its own right, there are many passages throughout scripture that seem to indicate that God’s mercy is available to anyone who will repent, regardless of their circumstances, even in the last hour. God has the right to destroy every living thing, but it is his character to offer mercy to those who will repent.

        I am not dancing around this issue, but I was hoping that I could elicit some sort of response first to see if you would look to scripture for your answer, before a self-appointed “heresy examiner” jumped in to interrupt and blindly defend his tradition. My doctrine has no contradictions nor moral dilemmas because it is simply biblical, but who cares about biblical these days? Most people don’t really care, so as such they reap the results.

      • Posted by John W. on April 8, 2012 at 11:18 pm

        Andrew,

        I hope you will treat me as a brother in Christ and not presuppose that you know my attitude and motives.

        I specifically asked you to clarify your statement because, as I said, I do not want to put words in your mouth.

        That is why I did not respond before you clarified, and your first response did not clarify. That is why I did not answer your follow-up questions.

        And if you are going to call me a self-appointed heresy hunter, you are jumping to conclusions. I like to listen to people that I agree with, and I don’t know anything about you besides what you have stated publicly.

        You seem sensitive toward people who are critical of you or who label your beliefs. One of the criticisms non-Calvinists charge us Calvinists with is deceiving by not declaring our beliefs outright. I tend to agree, which is why I think everyone should put their cards on the table. If you fear rejection because of unfair or inaccurate labels, welcome to the Calvinists’ world.

        Also know that Bob and I, and probably most people who comment on this blog, are Southern Baptists. That is one of the great things Bob and I have in common, and as you probably know, Southern Baptist’s have a common statement of faith that affirms hell as everlasting punishment.

        You use the term “Calvinist” which is a theological label. It’s useful as shorthand in theological conversations. It has baggage, but that’s part of why we discuss doctrine and talk with one other. “Annihliationism” and “Divine Perseverance” or “Post-Mortem Evangelism” are also theological terms. They also have baggage, as you are no doubt aware.

        But we don’t get anywhere if you hide your beliefs. It is deceitful, even though it is also understandable, which is why Calvinists usually don’t use the term Calvinism to describe their beliefs around people who don’t understand what it means. But a few years ago, non-Calvinists made a big deal about Calvinists doing exactly what you do in your posts, when you assume/imply your beliefs without stating/labeling them. Some Calvinists have complied, and while it has been difficult, and a few have been treated unfairly, it has now lead to a much more open dialogue about these doctrines.

        That being said, while we are discussing issues related to Calvinism, I don’t see your views as a viable alternative. But I am not beyond listening to your biblical and theological arguments. I only desire that your arguments be done in a forthright manner. Playing rhetorical games and asking fallacious questions is a waste of everyone’s time.

      • Posted by John W. on April 8, 2012 at 11:21 pm

        I noticed a typo in my 4th paragraph above. I said “I like to listen to people that I agree with.”

        While that is true, I meant to say that I like to listen to people I disagree with.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm

        First, John, if you will note the specific grammar I used when I spoke, I was not accusing you of being a “heresy examiner” but rather trying to prevent an interruption between us, and I was thinking of a particular person.

        Second, I should point out that you I don’t think you mean affirming hell as an everlasting punishment, but what you really mean is that you believe hell is a continual punishing that is never completed. You are using the words “everlasting punishment” because those come from scripture, but your implication (what I am assuming you mean) beyond those words is not scriptural.

        Third, I have hardly hidden my beliefs or my stance on scripture. You may have noticed that I have a nice brightly colored Gravatar which includes my public email address and links to both of my web locations. I have not actually measured this, but it would probably be a fair estimate to say that two-thirds of my site content is about death and hell (and I author the majority of that content.)

        Fourth, I have a lot of experience with practical apologetic with people from all sorts of different beliefs, and I cannot help but be frustrated by the common factor that I see which is a typical hardheadedness and a preference for tradition over scripture. It really doesn’t matter whether what the subject is… the same attitude is displayed in the avid defender of “Immortal Souls” as is found in the “Jesus was not God” Unitarians. I can often predict what a response will be before it happens, and even though I realize that “calling the shot” before it happens might change the result, if it changes it in a better way I don’t mind being proven wrong.

        Fifth, and final, I have not asked a single fallacious question, and if you are going to imply something like that, you need to state what you thought was fallacious and why. I asked a question about “According to the bible, what does the scripture say is the next event that happens after someone dies” and if you think that question is fallacious, then you need to explain why.

        Because when you are discussing a moral problem and Calvinism is allowed to be accepted as a given but the scripture is not welcome, then I think we have found the root of the problem. If your dilemma is based on false presumptions, then your presumptions need challenging.

        I have never claimed to be “Southern Baptist” (and I may have stated this on past occasions) and Bob has not chosen to limit his discussion board to only those who agreed not to question a previously written statement of faith.

        But as concerning the original question, I have provided an answer from scripture that is completely compatible with the attributes of God and poses no problem for free will. If the problem falls that the answer is not compatible with the SBC, then maybe the SBC is at fault and needs to change. The scripture should be a higher authority than the SBC.

      • Posted by Andrew Patrick on April 9, 2012 at 12:21 am

        John, on the part where you spoke of labels and baggage,

        …the reason I am careful with a word like “Annihilationist” is because some people have been telling others that “Annihilationists” do not believe in the resurrection of the wicked. Of course that wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever, but I never underestimate the possible extent or spread of false defamatory information. Thus, when someone uses vague labels that I know have been assigned multiple meanings, I prefer to define my terms.

        … but I have never heard of the term “Divine Perseverance” so I am not familiar with any theological baggage with that one. It’s not a term I read in my bible so I would have to ask someone to tell me what they meant by that.

        … I have heard the phrase “Post-Mortem Evangelism” tossed about before, which sounds like someone preaching to a cadaver. As I understand the term, it usually requires an assumption that people are conscious and alive while they are dead, which is a complete contradiction of terms to begin with. The dead can’t be evangelized because they are dead (duh?)

        However, it boils down to this. The answer to the question about the biblical order of events was a demonstration that the proposed moral dilemma was flawed. You were assuming that people were being punished without a judgment. The biblical order of events is Life, Death, Resurrection, Judgment, and then Punishment (death, which is not life) or Reward (eternal life, also called immortality.)

        You avoided answering the question, and in spite of your stated reasons of “not putting words in my mouth” it seems to me that you didn’t want the words to come out of your own mouth. If you had been required to give an answer and provide scripture to prove it, it would have left an impression on you and been harder for you to ignore,

        … and it does seem like you are ignoring the point. I answered with scripture, using over a dozen different passages as support, and your answer was that you could safely ignore the implications because your authority was the SBC. Please think about that, about whether that was really a good response.

    • John,

      Thanks for the spirit with which you write; It is indeed refreshing. You wrote, “When starting with the reality of the state of mankind and then working towards an understanding God, it’s easy to see why many people try to devise a system that makes God appear more successful. God wants to save everyone, but through no fault of His own, he cannot. So he does the best He can and hopes for the best.

      Of course I have read this “poor pitiful God” statement before. It is like saying since man’s responsibility in choosing God trumps His sovereignty over Him choosing us and so since most go down the broad way against God’s wishes, He is powerless to save them and we know that cannot be, so those who are saved MUST by default be saved because He wanted them to be saved.

      I do not think this approach is any better. I believe people iare saved when they believe that God is everything He says He is and that God will do everything He says He will do. God is sovereign in providing provisions for the salvation of anyone who will by faith come to Him in repentance by faith and find forgiveness for their sin and a spiritual adoption into His forever family. God has given us the responsibility of making that choice and our lives today and our eternity is dependent on the choices that we make.

      I simply do not believe God is responsible for who does and who deos not go to heaven or who does and does not go to hell. Calvinists can say… men are solely responsible for their own going to hell because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death; so God does NOT condemn anyone to hell. Everyone condemns themselves. However, IF God and God alone determines who gets to go to heaven and His choice is the only choice that counts, that makes Him solely responsible for every one who goes to hell because it was His choice to save some, and therefore not saving many others.

      The choice is OURS. That has nothing to do with the notion we have grown up with that the “fittest survive” etc. Eternity is not a contest where there are winners and losers and God’s success is determined by the number of who does and does not make it into heaven. However, I maintain IF Calvinism were true, all I am saying is there would be a LOT more headed for heaven than there are IF God and God alone were the One making that choice. Since He is not the One making that choice, there are only a few who will find eternal life.

      I agree with the following statement; ”

      Let’s say that you’re right. God is not ultimately responsible for who chooses to be saved. But God does make some choices. He chose Abraham. He chose Israel. He chose the timing and means of sending His Son. He chose the means of salvation as solely through the preaching, hearing and responding to the Gospel, knowing that most would not hear and respond. These are not passive choices God has to make in response to sovereign human choices. These are God’s actions which precede and affect human choices.

      Throughout recorded Biblical history, when God makes a choice that directly or indirectly affects human salvation, his choice is obviously not always made on the basis of which option will result in the largest number of salvations.

      Let’s say you’re right, that God has made mankind ultimately sovereign over their choices. Do you agree that an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God could have chosen different actions or done more than He has to alter human history and influence human choices which would have resulted in more salvations?”

      I do… wholeheartedly agree and this is really the basis for my original point. God has chosen revelation and reconciliation as the means of conversion and even sanctification. He could have done more. He is JUST in what He does and how He does it. Only God could build a stairway to heaven that is accessible to all but only used by a few. The invitation to come up is voices in Jesus’ statement, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

      It is teh good news that rang out from the graveyard that transformed the lives of the disciples and that same Good news… He is risen He is not here still rings true just as it did some 2000 years ago!

      Appreciate you my brother

      >”

      Reply

  8. Posted by John W. on April 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Bob,

    If its ok with you, I’ll pick this up next week. I have way too much stuff going on in the next few days.

    I like your blog because I like reading people who challenge me and cause me to think about my views. Your writing always comes across as sincere and original, and I appreciate that.

    Hope you have a wonderful Easter. God bless!

    -John

    Reply

  9. Posted by Ron Suarez on April 8, 2012 at 9:21 am

    My friend, Arminians have the same problem when they read the Bible. Of all the Sons of Men, God chose to save only the remnant of Noah’s family. Likewise, God chose to save only the remnant of Lot’s family out of Sodom. God makes it clear in Isaiah that he will save a remnant of Israel out of the Babylonian captivity. In the New Testament only a Remnant of Israel believed Christ and was saved. Only a remnant of humanity will believe and be saved.
    Mankind’s unresponsiveness to God’s General Call only proves our depravity; we see this in Revelation 9:20-21. His General Call is sufficient to convince a pure heart to turn to God so that there is nothing lacking in this calling towards an upright heart. God’s extension of Specific and Effective Grace to the individual’s hearts demonstrates His exceedingly abundant Love. He had no compulsion to extend effective Grace to humanity. God would have been justified in leaving all of humanity under condemnation for rejecting his General Calling. In His Grace God chose to extend his effective grace to a remnant. We are in no position to condemn God for how he hands out his mercy. Grace deserved is no longer grace, but obligation.

    Reply

  10. Hey Ron,

    Happy Easter to you and your family! Thanks for stopping by.

    You are absolutely correct: God said He will always have a remnant! I have no problem with a remnant of humanity will be saved; seems to me that is exactly what we are seeing in the world, and history. The problem with your statement is this, as I see it: nowhere does the Bible say that God is the ONE who determines who the remant will be on an individual basis. God can speak of the elect corporately without speaking of the elect individually.

    I am not sure the picture of Noah’s ark is not a picture of salvation; took a long time to build that ark. Since it had never rained, no one had any idea what a flood was. I am not sure that ANYONE could have joined Noah on the ark and survive the flood. Just like the passover; those who put the blood over the doorpost were the ones who survived the visit of the death angel including Pharaoh? Had Moses been so diligent in making sure everyone else had the blood over their door posts and not made it back to his house, the death angel would have come into his house! Individual election is determined by individual choice. This is the whole issue with Abraham!

    In all fairness to us both, general call and effectual call are conjecture. As a student of the Scriptures for most of my life, I have never even been aware of this difference. Does not mean it is not there but I had never seen it until I came to drips with the tenets of calvinism, which I have not embraced.

    The point I make in this particular article is “if there was an effectual call for people to be saved that is of God and God alone, it would seem to me more and not less would be saved.” If it is man’s choice to choose Jesus which is an abomination for the Jew and a stumbling block to the gentile, THEN it would seem to me the broad way would be crowded indeed and that is why I believe it is so.

    Again, welcome to Transformed Theology…

    ><>”

    Reply

  11. Posted by John W. on April 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Hey Bob,

    I know it’s easy to get sidetracked in these kinds of discussions, so in order to bring the discussion to a close (which is probably as meaningless as a preacher saying “In conclusion…”) there’s only one thing you’ve said that I really feel compelled to comment on.

    You said, However, I maintain IF Calvinism were true, all I am saying is there would be a LOT more headed for heaven than there are IF God and God alone were the One making that choice.

    It seems to me that, from a non-Calvinist perspective, Calvinism would be consistent with a lower number of salvations since we believe that the number of the elect has been set from eternity past.

    In fact, I’ve heard a local DOM use that exact point to ridicule Calvinists before numerous times.

    Maybe you had something else in mind with that statement, so feel free to correct me.

    But I think this is a very subjective argument since neither of us know how many are truly saved. Calvinists typically believe that the number of the elect has been known to God from eternity, and that the total number is quite large. The only Biblical evidence we have for how many people will be saved at the end of time is “a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number” in Revelation 7. That doesn’t sound like a low number, and I know that God is more gracious than I can even imagine!

    Reply

  12. John,

    You are right, this is a subjective argument that really has very little basis. My position is really a conclusion I have drawn as I have debated the issue of God’s decretive will and effectual call. The DOM you referenced probably was reciting the argument that calvinists are seen as not being evangelistic because God is the One who knows and determines who will be saved etc, etc. I do not go that route. I know that most calvinists can be as evangelistic as I can… and mean it… because they believe all who respond do so because God has effectually called them to do so.

    However, as I see the argument FOR effectual calling and irresistible grace, the thing that caught my attention is the statement I made, If God were solely responsible then it would seem to me that MORE people would be saved… because in effectual calling He would be saving many more than are being saved.

    The statement broad is the way that leads to destruction and few find it… to me proves man has to make the choice… not God! If God were the one making that choice for us, I believe the narrow way would be filled with people… that is my point.

    I actually woke up in the middle of the night with this thought… it is not something I read somewhere… which is sort of the case for most of what I have written on this site. I dont know if that is good or bad… several have suggested I read more of what OTHERS have said… and I have read a LOT… but I read and seek to assimilate what others have written and apply it to what the Scripture says as I see it.

    Thanks for your input!

    ><>”

    Reply

  13. Posted by Paul on February 10, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Scripture… Use scripture… God’s word can’t contradict itself. Philosophy isn’t a good argument against an all powerful, all knowing, everywhere at one time God. Wisdom of man is foolishness. God has always chosen for Himself a people. We are created beings. There are things we can’t harmonize. With God… All things are possible. Your flesh is unable to please God. The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. 1 Corinthians 1:24 .. Goes on to say “the called” aren’t all called… There is a clear distinction here.. Read the chapter… Read Romans 9-11… The very word church … Eclesia… Means called out. We are the called out ones.

    Reply

    • Paul, not sure what you are trying to say but I agree with the post. Who says we should not think and ponder the implications of a supposed biblical docrtine. If man has no part to play then why does God only save a few and damn the majority. But yet the scriptures tells us that God is love.

      What I don’t even get is that if one reads the gospels, you don’t get the feeling that He wants only a few to be saved. You don’t get the feeling that he only loves a few. We see a Saviour full of compassion, doing wonders and trying to convince people to come to Him. If ones doctrine does not line with how God was manifested in the flesh in Jesus Christ, it is wrong. And for me there is no need to try to throw proof texts about trying to prove doctrines that do not show forth the wonderful attributes of our loving Savior.

      Reply

      • Concurring with Paul-N, simply put, Jesus doesn’t sound like a Calvinist, and he didn’t act like a God that had only a few secret lottery tickets already passed out, just waiting to have the silver scratched off. He sincerely loved even people that turned away.

        Mar 10:21-22 KJV
        (21) Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
        (22) And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

        When Jesus commented on this, did he say this was about whether this man was among a individually-predetermined elect? No, he said something else:

        Mar 10:23-25 KJV
        (23) And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
        (24) And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
        (25) It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

        Apparently Jesus wanted to accept that person, but it also goes to show us Jesus doesn’t get everything he wants. So who can be saved? Jesus also answers this:

        Mar 10:25-27 KJV
        (26) And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
        (27) And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

        All things are possible. That does not mean all things will happen. However, had it been already determined on an individual basis, then what Jesus said wouldn’t make a lot of sense, would it?

        Jesus was a compassionate savior, not a hardened savior, one that would have spread out his wings and gathered Jerusalem, but they would not.

        Mat 23:37 KJV
        (37) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

        One was willing, the other was not.

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