Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"Calvinism is not new to Baptists", and other Calvinistic thoughts



With the Southern Baptist Convention going on and its recent history of fighting against the doctrines of grace, AND fighting against the people who bring them, it might be good to get a little perspective. Here are two. Thomas Kidd at Desiring God, writes about the doctrines of grace in church history. And S. Lewis Johnson preaches on the inconsistent stance of four-point Calvinists.

For those unfamiliar with the terms, here are some quick definitions first. Calvinism is a position where those who adhere to it have
a very high view of Scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God's Word. It focuses on God's sovereignty--stating that God is able and willing by virtue of His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence to do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His sovereign grace, predestines people into salvation and that Jesus died only for those predestined and that God regenerates the individual to where he is then able to and wants to choose God and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.
The Arminian's flower is the Daisy.
"He loves me, He loves me not..." JK!
Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the future to see who would pick him, and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples' sins who have ever lived and ever will live--not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your salvation (some Arminians believe you cannot lose your salvation).
Miracle Max was an Arminian.


GotQuestions has a good overview. Here is an excerpt-
The five points of Calvinism can be summarized by the acronym TULIP. T stands for total depravity, U for unconditional election, L for limited atonement, I for irresistible grace, and P for perseverance of the saints.
Other terms for Calvinism are Reformed Theology or Doctrines of Grace.



SBC logo

Irrespective of any activity at the Southern Baptist Convention, Thomas Kidd asks, Did you know Calvinism is not new to Baptists?

Calvinists once dominated Baptist church life in America. In a 1793 survey, early Baptist historian John Asplund estimated that there were 1,032 Baptist churches in America. Out of those, 956 were Calvinist congregations. These were “Particular Baptists,” for they believed in a definite atonement (or “particular redemption”), that Christ had died to save the elect decisively.
This was maintained until well into the nineteenth century. Then Kidd asks,
How did Calvinism lose its dominant position among Baptists? The American Revolution, with its focus on liberty, gave new life to “free will” theology in traditionally Calvinist denominations. But Calvinism remained ascendant among Baptists well into the nineteenth century. As Baptist churches spread into America’s frontier, they took Calvinist commitments with them. The newly-formed Elkhorn Baptist Association of Kentucky, for example, decided in 1785 to require assent to the Philadelphia Baptist confession of faith, which closely followed the 1689 London Baptist confession. Among other points, the Elkhorn Association affirmed that “by the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are pre-destinated, or fore-ordinated to eternal life, through Jesus Christ, to the praise of his glorious grace; others being left to act in their sin to their just condemnation, to the praise of his glorious justice.”

By the 1830s, the stage was set for the slow weakening of Calvinism among mainstream Baptists. But Arminian theology would never become as dominant among Baptists as Calvinism once was. When groups such as Desiring God and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary began to reinvigorate Calvinist theology for Baptists and other evangelicals in the late twentieth century, some Arminian Baptists insisted that free will and general atonement were the “traditional” Baptist positions on those issues. A deeper historical look, however, reveals the overwhelmingly Calvinist convictions of early America’s Baptists
Tulip. Source- Graphics Fairy

It is a really good essay, thorough without being too long. It's not that I always adhered to the doctrines of grace. It took a bit of time to study and for the Spirit to cement these things in my mind and heart. One video that went a long way to opening my eyes was a Paul Washer segment. I'll post that below. I understand that the doctrine is difficult for people to accept, and many don't or won't believe it.

Therefore, if anyone has any questions concerning these doctrines of grace please don't hesitate to ask. If anyone has a problem with what is being said or written please don't be afraid to speak up. I believe what Paul Washer is saying is biblically true. Understanding the doctrines of grace/election/Calvinism is vital in understanding God's work in regards to salvation. It's like this-

Picture Jesus as the Living Water. There are urns of fresh, holy, heavenly, pure water. There are two methods. One drinks the water as it is given out. Or one can put one's hand in the water to test its temperature, leaving behind oil from one's hand, and dirt from one's fingernails, before choosing to scoop some into one's hand and drink. But now the water is no longer pure. Man added something to it. The second scenario is man's participation in his salvation, by "deciding" to drink the Living Water and "accepting Christ". But it's polluted, even one drop from man pollutes it and it is no longer pure (grace).

In studying Galatians 1 and the importance of pure grace (unmixed with Legalism or any other man-made invention), John MacArthur says in his Commentary on Galatians,
Paul would not tolerate one drop of legalism being mixed with God's pure grace. To turn away from any part of the grace of Christ is to turn away from God to that of human effort. ... A single drop of poison in a large container can make all the water lethal. And a single false idea that in any way undercuts God's grace poisons the whole system of belief.
So...no, we don't "decide for Christ". We don't "accept Christ". We have no part in our salvation. Why? We're dead. God makes salvation possible by sending the spirit of understanding, the spirit of repentance ... He initiates it all. (Ephesians 1:4, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 12:2). As Paul explained the extent of our participation in salvation, in 1 Corinthians 3:6,

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

Or as Miracle Max explains,
There's a big difference between mostly dead and all-dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all-dead, well, with all-dead there's usually only one thing you can do.
Inigo Montoya: What's that?
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.
A Calvinist believes we are all-dead.

Here is that Paul Washer video I promised. A young seminarian approached Washer at the 2009 Deeper Conference and asked about election. He asked also about God choosing some people to salvation and others He says 'you, you, you, send to hell'. This is a common question. Washer answers brilliantly.

There are helpful captions so you can read along with what Washer is saying. It's worth listening to. I love the part when he takes off his glasses and looks like he is settling in for a good discussion, lol.





Just as grace is unmixed with any man's "decision" or any man's "works" in his own salvific rebirth, any less than the total TULIP and you have a deformed flower. Yet some say they believe the biblical verses relating to T-U-I-P but not L, limited atonement, This is where they say that God died for all people, not just a few chosen, or elect. 4-Pointers believe that His blood was not limited to those whose names were written down in the Lamb's Book of Life since before the foundation of the world.

Here is S. Lewis Johnson in preaching Galatians 1:4, The Great Emancipation, side-tracking a bit to the inconsistent stance of 4-point Calvinists.
There are individuals who say, “I am a Calvinist, but I am a four-point Calvinist.” Now, I respect an individual who says this. I think, however, that it is a very inconsistent position. Richard Watson, probably the greatest of the Arminian theologians said, “It is perhaps the most inconsistent theory to which the varied attempts to modify Calvinism have given rise. Here are individuals who claim to believe in total depravity, unconditional election, invincible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. But they do not believe that Jesus Christ came to die for his own, but rather for every one.”

Now, let me ask you to look at this text. If we say that Jesus Christ intended to die for all men, then his intention was frustrated, because both of us will grant that not all people are saved. I think, of course, what happened is the best judge of what God intended. In other words, the result will tell us what he intended to do. But if Christ intended to die for all men, if we say that he gave himself for everyone, then his intention was frustrated. The frustration of his intention is offensive, in my eyes; I say it in love, to the perfections of the Son of God. To think that the intention of his is frustrated, to me, limits our understanding of the Son of God.

Furthermore, if we say that died in order to save all, we cannot speak then of a substitution that was effectual. The substitution was ineffectual. It was not really a substitution at all. For, even though he has done what he has done, it is possible for heaven to have further claims against individuals who are not saved. So the substitution was not really a substitution, the work was not really done. The purchase did not secure salvation for all for whom he made it. Heaven’s claims are not really met. It is not then a finished work, logically.

Now, what is this? This is dishonoring to the work of our adorable substitute. So the idea that Jesus Christ could die for all men and yet not be effective in his intention is dishonoring to the Son of God, dishonoring to his perfections, dishonoring to his work as substitute. And furthermore, if you reflect about it for a moment, it should shatter your confidence and assurance, because if it is possible for God to be frustrated in one of his great works, the work of the atonement, how do you know that he cannot be frustrated in the other promises the has given us? Is it really true then that he does all of his pleasure, as the word of God tells us? You can see that this then would be most damaging to my assurance and hope that he will really save me, who has believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, I say that in love, I say that because I would like to recover some for an understanding of the gospel of the grace of God that will most honor and glorify our great God. If you shall happen to be of the contrary option, I hope that you will not be upset by that. There are probably other things that we disagree about. And it is possible, of course, that I am wrong in two or three other things. Though I think I am right in this one thing, you understand. You still may be right in more things than I, but I hope we remain friends. But we understand each other I hope.
He was such a humble man! Though this three-segment essay that included definitions, a history of Calvinism in Baptist church history, and 4-point Calvinism's illogic has been long, I hope that it brought some kind of truth and honorable reason to the concept. One last comment, this one on free will. I read the following comment from a man named Chancellor (Buddy) Roberts about free will,
Free will (which Arminians insist God gave us) necessitates not merely the capacity to choose but also having the right to choose. If man has free will, then he must necessarily have the right to choose whatever he wants and, therefore, God has no right to punish him for how he exercises that free will. Having the right to choose removes any culpability for choices made because it is presumed that God has given man the right to make those choices.
We only have free will in the capacity in which we are limited by our nature. Can a fox choose to write Shakespeare? Can a lion choose to be a vegetarian? No, they can only do things according to their nature. Likewise we as totally depraved humans cannot choose Good. We hate God and He is dead to us. Since we are totally sinful through and through, ("all-dead") the only free will we have is to choose to sin. Therefore we cannot "choose God" or "decide for Jesus." Jesus has to do it for us, and blessedly, He has.

"I would rather believe a limited atonement that is efficacious for all men for whom it was intended, than a universal atonement that is not efficacious for anybody, except the will of men be added to it." (Spurgeon Sermons, Vol. 4, p. 70).





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Further reading

Essay- Phil Johnson: The Hall of Church History: The Arminians

Sermon by Jeff Noblit from Ephesians, (the one Paul Washer recommends in the above video clip):
Election Pure and Simple 

Essay- John MacArthur, What is the Doctrine of Election?

10-minute video- John MacArthur on the Doctrine of Election

9-minute video- John Piper on the Doctrine of Election


27 comments :

  1. This was great, Elizabeth. Thanks for the time you put into it.
    I have been thinking lately about how we decide into what category we fall when it comes to things like doctrine, denomination, etc. It can be very overwhelming to think that I need to figure it out and get it just right--especially when my upbringing did not include words and names like Arminion and Spurgeon and predestination...it was all pretty confusing because I attended Catholic grade school but attended a non-denominational church and I don't remember hearing about any of this stuff. Making up for lost time now, I guess. I think I need a poster or a flow chart or something to visualize all of it. Like, what are the essentials and what are the non-essentials and which denominations stand with what? For instance, I am reading a book by R.C. Sproul but in the back of my head I am thinking, ok, but he is the guy who is into paedobaptism. Or if I hear John Piper I think, ok, so he is the guy that is pretty legit but MacArthur calls him an anomoly bc he is open to speaking in tongues and there was that time he was on a stage with Beth Moore...guess that's another reason why it's important to personally stay in the Word and not idolize any particular Christian person.
    Melissa

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    1. Hi Melissa,

      Thanks so much for reading, I agree, it's a lot to absorb. It has taken me daily diligent study for ten years to get his far. I agree about Sproul and Piper and also Baucham. CARM.org did a flow chart of essential and non-essential doctrines. By essential they mean essential to salvation, not that there is something in the bible that isn't important. At the bottom they list secondary essentials

      https://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity

      They also write about it here
      https://carm.org/essential-christian-doctrines

      and put it into a grid format here comparing other religions (not denominations)

      GotQuestions has a bunch of short essays on denominations here
      http://www.gotquestions.org/search.php?zoom_query=denominations&search.x=0&search.y=0

      And devotes an essay to each denomination you want to search for listing what that denomination believes etc. For example:

      1. What is the Methodist Church, and what do Methodists believe?
      What is the Methodist Church, and what do Methodists believe? What was the origin of Methodism?
      http://www.gotquestions.org/Methodists.html

      What is the Baptist Church, and what do Baptists believe?
      What is the Baptist Church, and what do Baptists believe? What is the origin of the Baptist Church?
      URL: http://www.gotquestions.org/Baptists.html

      And os on for Lutherans, Presbyterians and all other variations of denomination you can think of, plus the false ones like Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons

      https://carm.org/christian-doctrine-grid

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    2. Oops sorry here is the grid one
      https://carm.org/christian-doctrine-grid

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  2. The best argument for the doctrines of grace is the Bible. There were videos of talking heads making strong arguments but it was the commitment that the Bible was inerrant, and its clear references to predestination and election, that won the day. I'm wholly convinced that those who refuse to come over to the 'calvinist' side do not believe the Bible is authoritative, in one way or another.

    That and they don't think philosophically, whether from secular schooling ruining their minds, or from stubborn refusal because they fear what they can't make sense of easily.

    I have very little tolerance for people making excuses for rejecting God's Word, no matter how good their intentions might be. Someone kicking against the goads when they''re a professing believer galls me. They act as if their unbelief should be coddled. It's just another attack on the integrity of Scripture.

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    1. There are many who believe in the absolute authority of Scripture; that the Bible is the inerrant, inspired, infallible, preserved word of God who are not Calvinist. Many.

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    2. Of course there are. Not sure what your point is. Did you have a comment related to the post?

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    3. I think his point and his "comment related to the post" is that Calvinists arrogantly assume they have the mind of God all figured out and that anyone who deigns to disagree with them either (a) hasn't studied the Word enough, or, as Hakam Adam presumptuously and incorrectly pointed out, (b) doesn't believe the Bible is authoritative. Both are factually wrong to the point of being the sort of piffle one would expect from false doctrineers. I don't think the point is unclear at all.

      Sorry Anonymous, hope I didn't steal your thunder.

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    4. Oh! "The Arrogance Argument". Yawn. I'm over it. So boring.

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    5. If you believe the Bible is inerrant in theory, then show that you believe it in practice.

      When the Bible says this: "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. " (Romans 8:29-30),

      then acknowledge that God decides where someone will spend eternity BEFORE the call (contemporaneous with regeneration and initiation of conversion), and before they become a believer who has faith in God (which is justification). The eternal destiny is set before belief begins. How then can anyone say that God decides to save people based on what they will believe? You can say that God knows the future, that is undoubtedly true -- BUT it misses the point that the logical sequence of God's actions from God's perspective are laid out in these verses, and it shows that God follows a sequence.

      Foreknowledge is, (and this is yet another exciting proof of the doctrine of Illumination, because I had reasoned to this before) as John MacArthur recently said in a radio broadcast, not a mere knowledge of the future. In fact, the verse specifically does NOT say that it is the *future* that God knows (He does know it, but it's not the context), it is **those He justifies** that He knows.

      What then is foreknowledge? God has an intimate relationship with certain people, others He does not. And as a merciful God, He would never enter into close communion with someone and then cast them off afterward. The point of foreknowledge is to show that God doesn't choose people based on their belief in Him -- He chooses people based on what sort of relationship He is going to have with them. Those whom He will be to as a Father, those He will secure eternally for salvation, and ensure that before earthly death, that He will justify them by faith and give them the right to be called children of God.

      When I understood this passage, I understood why I naturally comprehended the qualities of God like omniscience, omnipotence, goodness, Biblical infallibility etc, long before my crisis of faith that led to my conversion whereafter I *consciously* apprehended the Gospel and can claim salvation by grace through faith. I was a nominal believer before, but I can see God's hand in my life keeping me from the kinds of behavior patterns (sexuality and drugs being obvious examples) that beset so many others I've heard stories from. I was morally upright, in a limited human sense, and it was by the grace of God, because I was not spiritually regenerate, just well behaved and with a good brain. I believe that God, knowing that I *would* be brought into a right relationship with Him as His child, extended "pre-evident grace" (if you will humor me making up a new word) to me even during the time of my life that I lived without the full knowledge of salvation.

      That is foreknowledge. It is not "knowing that I would choose Him." It is knowing that He would choose ME, and ensuring that as a consequence, He would lead me by His Spirit to come to an eventual understanding of the Gospel that I might be saved through the hearing of the word preached.

      If someone insists that Romans 8 implies that God saves men based on knowing that they will believe on their own, then they are not honoring the Word and even if they insist that it is infallible, they are not submitting to what it plainly says and are not in practice treating the Word as if it is true, or authoritative.

      That is my lengthier treatment of this matter. I hope I neither seemed too harsh or too soft. It's a serious issue but it doesn't make someone a heretic -- it does require your repentance, though.

      Thanks for reading.

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    6. "You can say that God knows the future, that is undoubtedly true -- BUT it misses the point that the logical sequence of God's actions from God's perspective are laid out in these verses, and it shows that God follows a sequence."

      I still think you guys are dancing around the same missed point: there was no "sequence" to God's actions before the foundation of the world. Those potentials all existed in the mind of God before He created time. Our decision/free will choice existed in the mind of God before time began. There's no sequence of actions here.

      "What then is foreknowledge? God has an intimate relationship with certain people, others He does not. And as a merciful God, He would never enter into close communion with someone and then cast them off afterward. The point of foreknowledge is to show that God doesn't choose people based on their belief in Him -- He chooses people based on what sort of relationship He is going to have with them."

      Same thing. You guys are dancing around the same missed point, just with some slightly different window dressing. And God knows I love John MacArthur, but I'm convinced he's just as wrong as you are on this, in my humble opinion.

      Look, I respect your opinion, and I have no desire to get into a big argument on Calvinism. But one thing that drives people nuts is when you say stuff like "it does require your repentance" and so forth. Like, "We've found the truth, and if you disagree with us, then you don't believe the Bible and need to repent."

      Trust me, what I believe (which is NOT Calvinism and NOT Arminianism, because they're both flawed for different reasons) makes just as much sense to me as what you believe, leaves me with God's holy Word completely intact, and with a holy, just, loving, *sovereign* God in His heaven, worthy of my love and worship.

      Q: Why can't people like you just accept that and go your merry way?

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    7. "I still think you guys are dancing around the same missed point: there was no "sequence" to God's actions before the foundation of the world. Those potentials all existed in the mind of God before He created time. Our decision/free will choice existed in the mind of God before time began. There's no sequence of actions here."

      1. If there is no precision, no sequence, no orderliness, God is not sovereign

      2. If God chooses us based on our "potentials" then we are not sinners, totally drenched with a sin-nature.

      3. If God picks us because we pick Him, God is not sovereign. It would mean He changes His plans and reacts to what we do, rather than choosing what He wants.

      4. In your world, this Ephesians 1:5 verse is a lie: "he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will," Note: According to HIS WILL, not ours.

      5. If foreknowledge is as you described, then this verse from Galatians 1:15 is a lie: "But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace,"

      6. In your scheme of interpretation, there is no grace.

      If you want to dwell in a religious world of your own making where God is not sovereign, there is no grace, and the bible lies, then go your merry way with no ill will from me. But eventually, you will find out. :)

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    8. Here is S. Lewis Johnson on Galatians 1:11-24

      Then proof number two, he turns to the evidence from his life at his conversion. And here we have on of the most beautiful pictures of prevenient grace. Up to now, everything has been of man, but at this point God intervenes in the life of the apostle. And he writes, “And it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb.”

      What a beautiful expression that is. Everything has been “I, I, I,” but now we read “God, he, God.” And he claims to be a kind of second Jacob, a kind of second Jeremiah, Jacob and Esau struggled within the womb of Rebecca, and the result was that God made a prophecy. He said, “Two nations are in your womb. Two people shall come out of you, but the elder shall serve the younger.

      And later on in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, that is filled out and expanded in biblical doctrine to teach what the Apostle Paul puts the capstone in Romans chapter 9, saying, “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.” People look at that text, incidentally, and say, “How is it possible for God to hate Esau?”

      That’s not the problem of that text; the problem of that text is not how God is able to hate Esau. The problem of the text is how he is able to love Jacob. “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.” It was by the electing grace of God, the Apostle Paul states in Romans chapter 9, that we read, “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated.” Like it or not, that’s what Paul says it is.---end Johnson

      I recommend the sermon
      http://sljinstitute.net/pauls-epistles/galatians/paul-his-gospel-and-thomas-jefferson/

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    9. God didn't elect to love Jacob and hate Esau before they were born. He elected that the elder would serve the younger (Romans 9:10-12) The statement that God loved Jacob and hated Esau is from Malachi which was written hundred of years after their birth.

      Craig Giddens

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    10. Craig, Of course God chose Jacob and not Esau either was was born. You're right, Paul in Romans is quoting Malachi 1:3. he chooses based according to His will, (Eph 1:5) not according to who we are or what we do after we are born. He didn't need to wait for Jacob to be born before He had decided the line of promised people wold come from Jacob and not Esau. (We are talking the peoples here, not just the sons). That was all arranged before the foundation of the world. God elected Jacob before he was born.

      When Genesis, Malachi or Romans was written has nothing to do with anything.

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    11. God's sovereignty does not rule out man's ability to choose. Speaking to Jerusalem Jesus said, "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!" (Matthew 23:37) Stephen told the Jewish religious leaders "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye." (Acts 7:51). Speaking to those at Athens Paul told them that God "now commandeth all men every where to repent:" (Acts 17:30)

      Predestination applies to believers, those in Christ (Romans 8:28, Ephesians 1:5). How we get into Christ is explained in Ephesians 1:13,

      "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,"

      Craig Giddens

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    12. Yes, Craig, but choose what? We can only "choose" according to our nature, which is a sin nature of a corpse. We can only choose to sin. Oh, sure, we can choose to do good, be beneficent, philanthropic, for a time, but for personal and not holy reasons that have no merit with God.

      We CANNOT choose God, because we are dead in our trespasses (Eph 2:1, Eph 2:5) and blinded to God, (2 Cor 4:4) we do not seek Him- no one does. (Romans 3:11)

      Yes to the Eph 1:3 verse, partly. Yes, belief is necessary as the verse says, but the ABILITY to believe, the ABILITY to repent, is a gift from God. If a person is not given the gift of faith, belief, and repentance, they will NOT believe.

      You do not have any will at all to choose God, else you can boast.

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    13. "which is NOT Calvinism and NOT Arminianism, because they're both flawed for different reasons"

      That's a biiiiit like saying, "look, I'm not an Arian or a Trinitarian, I believe they're both flawed for different reasons." Actually, it's worse, because whereas Arianism is one of many ways to deny the Trinity, Calvinism and Arminianism are logically exclusive. If one is wrong, the other must be true. Like synergism and monergism. You can't be a mixture, by definition, nor can you exclude both, for the same reason.

      I remember when I didn't know very well what Republicans or Democrats believe. I went around proudly claiming my uniqueness and saying, "I'm a dempublican repocrat. I think both sides have views of merit, and both have things I disagree with." I think you might be in a similar position. Your unwillingness to choose one or the other, I sincerely believe, is because you have some degree of confusion or ignorance with respect to what the differences between them actually are, what the beliefs actually state.

      To that end, I encourage you to look harder into it. I had to, because the nature of mutually exclusive concepts means that until you choose one, you are in an unenviable position of always being wrong, and a desire to reach a resolution drove me to search out the truth. I hope you will also.

      ***

      As Elizabeth pointed out, the killer for any belief that God waits to see if we'll believe and then seals us unto salvation in response to our faith, is the Bible passage that says that faith is a gift from God. Repentance is a gift from God. In other words, we can neither turn from sin nor believe in the Savior without God FIRST acting. Seeing as I doubt you'll say that God would cause someone to believe and trust in Christ to later damn them, then we are not talking about possibilities. Once God grants someone repentance and faith, that guarantees their salvation. God is first and last, beginning and end. Not just of the universe, but of salvation.

      Because faith is a gift from God to man, it cannot be a gift from man to God. That would rehash Paul's sermon at the Areopagus, "He is not served by us as if He needed anything." Well, He neither needs food to sustain His life, NOR does He need our effort to accomplish our salvation.

      You can't give a gift back to the giver and think that they are now in your debt. It was theirs in the first place! They owe you nothing. So faith is NOT something that God responds to as if it merits His action to save you. Faith is what God gives you AFTER (in logical sequence) He has determined to save you, so that you will respond in obedience. This 'response in obedience' I refer to is under the scope of sanctification. It does not justify, or it would be works salvation.

      I can't make this much clearer. Hearkening back to above the ***'s, I encourage you guys who are reluctant to agreeing with "that which is by nickname called Calvinism," to double down and study the Scriptures harder. You cannot interpret the Word other than to say that "Salvation is of the Lord."

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  3. I really appreciate your response with the included links and I will be going to every one of them.

    Melissa

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  4. I too resonate with your experience of Paul Washer being used by the Lord to help "open the eyes" regarding the doctrines of grace. I was raised a Southern Baptist with primarily Arminian beliefs. Thankfully, the Lord took me down a path that I (re)discovered the Bible and what it teaches about the sovereignty of God. Listening to Paul Washer preach and teach was instrumental and really was the catalyst in my journey to Calvinistic doctrine. Reading Spurgeon was also instrumental. Washer in my opinion is akin to a modern-day Spurgeon in his zeal for evangelism and saving lost souls. I only wish we had audio of Spurgeon preaching!

    Ephesians 2:1-7 and Colossians 2:13-14 say that we are DEAD in our trespasses. Dead things cannot save themselves, they can't even TRY!

    I heard John MacArthur preach a sermon a while back on "God's Role in Regeneration" and he does a great job in explaining the opening verses of John 3 specifically with respect to "being born again" and why Jesus chose to use the analogy of birth when speaking about the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit. If anyone who reads this blog has not heard this sermon, I HIGHLY recommend it!

    http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/43-13/gods-role-in-regeneration

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    1. Dead things cannot sin.

      Craig Giddens

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    2. Now you'r' just being silly. Or precious. We are all born with a sin nature, alive.

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  5. Thanks for the sermon link, Kevin! I bookmarked it and plan to listen to it.
    Melissa

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  6. "3. If God picks us because we pick Him, God is not sovereign. It would mean He changes His plans and reacts to what we do, rather than choosing what He wants."

    And what does He want, Elizabeth?

    "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

    He wants all to repent. Then why don't they?

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    1. Hello "Anonymous"-

      Have all repented? No. Many are in hell. So, is God a #fail? Is there a desire He has which is not fulfilled because of the will of man?

      Here is John Piper to answer your question, Anonymous,

      God Desires All to Be Saved, and Grants Repentance to Some
      http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-desires-all-to-be-saved-and-grants-repentance-to-some

      Though God desires all people to be saved, he “may perhaps grant repentance.” Which I think means that God’s desire for all to be saved does not lead him to save all. God has desires that do not reach the level of volition. They are restrained by other considerations — like his wisdom, which guides him to display his glory in the fullest way. He has his reasons for why he “may perhaps grant repentance” to some sinners, and not to others.

      ---read the rest of the essay for the full answer. Hope this helps

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    2. So God is sovereign and can do whatever He wills except save everyone even though His desire is to do so?

      Craig Giddens

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    3. Yes. He desires to show His grace by redeeming some and His wrath by punishing others. This is the end of our conversation, thanks for commenting Craig.

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    4. Thanks for allowing me to respond. I really do like your blog and your posts about the apostasy in the American church.

      Craig Giddens

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