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Richard Amiel McGough
06-12-2007, 11:19 AM
The Westminster Confession (http://www.the-highway.com/WCFChIII.html) declares:

I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

The point I want clarified is in bold. Should we believe that God ordained "whatsoever comes to pass"? You have four choices:
This doctrine must be believed because it is explicitly taught in the Bible.
This doctrine should be believed because it implicitly taught in the Bible.
This doctrine should not be believed because it is not taught in the Bible.
This doctrine must not be believed because it contradicts what is taught in the Bible.Please explain your answer.

RAM

joel
06-13-2007, 03:44 PM
Richard, I have waited a short time for someone to respond, and since, at this time, there are no responses, I am interested in making a side comment without committing to poll;

Since God is God, and there is no other.
And since we believe that there is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is, and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom all is, and we through Him (I Corinthians 8:6,7), are we to discuss;
1.) either things come into existence by a random occurence,
or,
2.) all things come to be due to a specific cause?

If that were the choices, rather than your four options, I would have to say that 2.) is true. And, there can be no alternate third choice, or multiple of choices (due to the exclusion of any middle choice). There are only two choices. And, if left to that, I would say that "all things come to be due to a specific cause". Further, I would say the cause comes from God, and through Him.

Joel

Brother Bob
06-14-2007, 04:12 AM
I have not yet voted due to conflicting thoughts.

God is sovereign over all even sin and rebellion. And yet God is not responsible for sin. There are "decrees" made by God (see Psalm 2).

Did He decree that Lucifer sin, or did Lucifer have a choice in the matter?

I take the position that God decided or decreed that there would be creatures with free will to live and love freely, without being programmed or forced to do so. I believe God knew all the contingencies of that decision and forsaw that creatures would use their freedom to rebel and sin. But seeing the rebellion and decreeing it are two different things. Seeing into the future doesn't mean God caused it and furthermore just because God can peer into the future doesn't mean He does so.

I believe when God in His wise counsels decided to create free creatures He knew there would a misuse of that freedom and knew He could handle it.

God decreed freedom! Each free creature decides how to use it! However, humans are not born 'free'. They are born to rebel and sin, since that is incorportated in their nature. So God has decreed that humans in bondage to a fallen human nature, devils and living in a world of rebellion can be set free by believing in His Son and trusting in what He did to set them free. God has decreed that He would call preachers to preach the gospel that whosoever will may come.

Richard Amiel McGough
06-14-2007, 09:02 AM
Richard, I have waited a short time for someone to respond, and since, at this time, there are no responses, I am interested in making a side comment without committing to poll;
That's fine Joel ... fact is, I haven't voted yet either. I'm waiting to see how things develop. I should have mentioned that its perfectly ok to comment and question before voting.


Since God is God, and there is no other.
And since we believe that there is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is, and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom all is, and we through Him (I Corinthians 8:6,7), are we to discuss;
1.) either things come into existence by a random occurence,
or,
2.) all things come to be due to a specific cause?

If that were the choices, rather than your four options, I would have to say that 2.) is true. And, there can be no alternate third choice, or multiple of choices (due to the exclusion of any middle choice). There are only two choices. And, if left to that, I would say that "all things come to be due to a specific cause". Further, I would say the cause comes from God, and through Him.

Joel

I'm familiar with your approach, and I can see its appeal. I agree with your choice of "2" but I disagree that "2" implies God determined everything.

I am of the mind that God created truly free creatures. So when I choose to paint my house green, I am the "specific cause" of that effect.

But then some people would say that God is the ultimate cause because He created me, but if He created me truly free, that is a mistake because I could have chosen to paint my house red. Therefore, God is not the cause of the house being green as opposed to red. In other words, God did not decree the specific color of my house from before the foundation of the world.

Peace!

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
06-14-2007, 09:09 AM
I have not yet voted due to conflicting thoughts.
Neither has Joel or I. Maybe a poll wasn't the best choice of this topic. :rolleyes:


God is sovereign over all even sin and rebellion. And yet God is not responsible for sin. There are "decrees" made by God (see Psalm 2).
Yes, there are decrees, that's for sure. But does that mean that God decreed each an every event? Does God 'micro-manage" His universe, so that He determines everything?


Did He decree that Lucifer sin, or did Lucifer have a choice in the matter?

I take the position that God decided or decreed that there would be creatures with free will to live and love freely, without being programmed or forced to do so. I believe God knew all the contingencies of that decision and forsaw that creatures would use their freedom to rebel and sin. But seeing the rebellion and decreeing it are two different things. Seeing into the future doesn't mean God caused it and furthermore just because God can peer into the future doesn't mean He does so.
That's pretty much how I see it. It is interesting that the Westminster confession directly opposes this point of view in the point that immediately follows the one we are discussing:

Westminster Confession Chapter 3:
II. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions; yet has He not decreed anything because He foresaw it as future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions.

This is a tough nut to crack. Its been debated for centuries!


I believe when God in His wise counsels decided to create free creatures He knew there would a misuse of that freedom and knew He could handle it.
Amen to that!


God decreed freedom! Each free creature decides how to use it! However, humans are not born 'free'. They are born to rebel and sin, since that is incorportated in their nature. So God has decreed that humans in bondage to a fallen human nature, devils and living in a world of rebellion can be set free by believing in His Son and trusting in what He did to set them free. God has decreed that He would call preachers to preach the gospel that whosoever will may come.

Right on! We are not born free because of bondage to sin. But we are free to respond to the call of God.

Thanks for the input Bob. It sounds like you are leaning to points 3 or 4, is that correct?

joel
06-14-2007, 10:14 AM
Before we discuss "freedom", I would offer some thoughts about God which help me with this challenging subject;

God (in the Greek, Theos) is the "placer". We can all agree that it is God Who has placed all the stars in the universe. He has placed all the planets, and the heavenly bodies.
One of His divine attributes is that He places His creatures where He determines to place them.
It appears, therefore, that God placed me in a family of humans, and places all the details of even the hairs on my head.
He placed Adam in the garden.

As I am created in the image of God, I can be a placer as well within the realm that He has placed me just as surely as Adam had the freedom to wander about in the garden.

What I cannot do is to place myself somewhere He does not allow. I am confined to the earth, and I am confined to the body that houses my spirit. I cannot choose to be in another body, nor can I choose to be somewhere other than this earth. I can, however, wonder upon the earth and go where I may choose.

God is also the one Who subjects the one placed in an environment to the "laws" of that environment. While I am in any given place, I must be subject to the laws of that particular place. I cannot, of my will, choose to "fly away" to another place.

There are limitations to where I can go, and, limitations to what I can do.

So, in that regard, I cannot say that I am totally "free".

In so far as Adam, through the instrumentality of his "sin", allowed "sin" to enter the world, and through sin, death entered.......and death passed unto all men....."for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). And death reigns through the one, and sin reigns in death, are we not then subject to both sin and death, and not free at all, while remaining in the place where they both reign? In this system, the "kosmos", there exists two "masters"; sin and death. How can we be free from the total despotism of their reign? We, as children of Adam, cannot be "free", in the sense of our ability to make decisions, and carry the decisions out, without the influence of both sin and death.

I must be "placed" in a new place. That would be the realm of God's righteousness and justice where grace reigns. It seems to me that only in that I have been delivered from the absolute authority of sin's dominion, through the death of Christ, that I am "free" to choose. Until that time, am I not a "slave" who has no will?

But, once there, am I then "free" to do whatever I want? Or, as Paul asked in Romans 6:1...."Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound?"........or, am I free now to become a slave of righteousness?

Seems like I am either "subject to the law of sin in my members", or, subject to the "spirit's law of life in Christ Jesus".
I have been freed from, to made subject to a higher law.

If I am totally "free", then, I am "lawless"?

Joel

Joel

Brother Bob
06-14-2007, 05:02 PM
RAM: I do lean to 3 or 4 but find no option available that allows me to say that I believe in Decrees, but like you say RAM, not in every detail, but more in general terms. I lean towards the Arminian position. There is an excellent book on this position by a converted liberal theologian, Thomas Oden..."The Transforming Power of Grace".

Geoffrey
07-19-2007, 05:21 AM
The point I want clarified is in bold. Should we believe that God ordained "whatsoever comes to pass"? You have four choices:

This doctrine must be believed because it is explicitly taught in the Bible.
This doctrine should be believed because it implicitly taught in the Bible.
This doctrine should not be believed because it is not taught in the Bible.
This doctrine must not be believed because it contradicts what is taught in the Bible.Please explain your answer.

RAM
Richard, I have voted number 1:

This doctrine must be believed because it is explicitly taught in the Bible.because of:


Rom 9:11-24 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth (12) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. (13) As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. (14) What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. (15) For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (16) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. (17) For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. (18) Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. (19) Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? (20) Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (21) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? (22) What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: (23) And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, (24) Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

In the above passage, the questions are asked:"Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?" Paul answered that we are like clay in the hands of God, the Potter, who does with us as He pleases. Clay does not shape itself.
And:


Jud 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

People are ordained by God for condemnation.

Geoffrey
07-19-2007, 05:36 AM
And, if left to that, I would say that "all things come to be due to a specific cause". Further, I would say the cause comes from God, and through Him.

Joel
Joel, it seems you are in favour of number 1.

Geoffrey
07-19-2007, 05:42 AM
Did He decree that Lucifer sin, or did Lucifer have a choice in the matter?
God, being omniscient, knew that if He made Lucifer that Lucifer by free will would rebel. God made him anyhow, because then God would be able to express Himself as saviour, healer, provider, judge, etc. If there were no sinners, God could not be a saviour. If there were no people who rejected salvation, God could not be a righteous judge.
People are not saved due to their choosing. Humans are naturally inclined to reject God's will.

Rom 3:9-22 What then? are we better thanthey? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; (10) As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (13) Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: (14) Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: (15) Their feet are swift to shed blood: (16) Destruction and misery are in their ways: (17) And the way of peace have they not known: (18) There is no fear of God before their eyes. (19) Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (20) Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (21) But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; (22) Even the righteousness of God whichis by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

It is not the man that willeth or runneth, but it is God who showeth mercy (Rom 9:16). We are saved by grace through faith, but the faith is a gift (Eph 2:8) which we receive from God without repentance (Rom 11:29). God overrides our will and gives us the will to accept His will (Php 2:13).

Richard Amiel McGough
07-19-2007, 09:37 AM
Richard, I have voted number 1:
This doctrine must be believed because it is explicitly taught in the Bible.because of:

In the above passage, the questions are asked:"Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?" Paul answered that we are like clay in the hands of God, the Potter, who does with us as He pleases. Clay does not shape itself.
And:

People are ordained by God for condemnation.
Hi Geoffrey,

I'm glad you revived this thread! I think it is a very important question that impacts a lot of our understanding of God and the Bible.

I agree, of course, that we are like "clay in the potters hand" and that we did not "shape ourselves" in the sense that we are not self-created. But does that imply that we are not causal agents created in the image of God and able to make real moral choices? I don't think so. Indeed, the obvious contradiction between the Doctrine of the Eternal Decrees and our Moral Responsibility is what prompted the writers of the Westminster confession to include a response to that question in the statement of the Doctrine itself:


I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.Paul's question "Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?" does not say anything about God ordaining "whatsoever comes to pass" "from all eternity" ands so does not settle the question of this thread.
I appreciate your understanding of Romans 9, and understand why you went there for an answer, but I do not believe you actually found the answer we are looking for. Indeed, I do not know of any verse(s) in the Bible that clearly teach the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees.

Do you?

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
07-19-2007, 06:23 PM
God, being omniscient, knew that if He made Lucifer that Lucifer by free will would rebel. God made him anyhow, because then God would be able to express Himself as saviour, healer, provider, judge, etc. If there were no sinners, God could not be a saviour. If there were no people who rejected salvation, God could not be a righteous judge.
People are not saved due to their choosing. Humans are naturally inclined to reject God's will.
People are "naturally inclined to reject God's Will"? I don't think that is accurate. It is the FLESH that is "at enmity with God," not "people."

Romans 8:5-9 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Christians are not "of the flesh" - that's why we can please God. The problem is the war between flesh and spirit, not God and people. Remember Adam and Eve were created perfect and sinless. They sinned not because they had a "sin nature" but because they were fleshly creatures. The beauty of this understanding is that 1) it is consistent with everything in the Bible, 2) it explains how Adam and Eve could sin even though they were created perfect, and 3) it eliminates an unnecessary metaphysical entity called "sin nature" from our theological nomenclature and so greatly clarifies our understanding of the Bible. If you want to pursue this particular point, I think you could contribute a lot to the "Sin Nature" thread.


It is not the man that willeth or runneth, but it is God who showeth mercy (Rom 9:16). We are saved by grace through faith, but the faith is a gift (Eph 2:8) which we receive from God without repentance (Rom 11:29). God overrides our will and gives us the will to accept His will (Php 2:13).
I agree. Salvation is a gift that God gives without regard to anyone's efforts (running or willing). But Faith is not a Work, so Romans 9 does not exclude the idea that we are saved by grace through our own faith in Christ, as opposed to a "foreign faith" given by God. You then went to Eph 2:8 to support the idea that our faith is "not of ourselves, it is the gift of God." But that is a debatable interpretation. Was Paul talking about the faith itself that was the gift, or was he talking about the whole "plan of salvation" that is summed up in the phrase "saved by grace through faith"?

You then cited Phil 2:13 in support of the idea that "God overrides our will and gives us the will to accept His will." That's a very loaded statement. If God needs to "override our will" why did he give us a free will in the first place? And where in the Bible is there any statement of God overriding someone's "will". In the case of Pharaoh, the Hebrew word translated as "hardened" which is chazaq:

2388 chazaq {khaw-zak'}
Meaning: 1) to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore 1a) (Qal) 1a1) to be strong, grow strong 1a1a) to prevail, prevail upon

God strengthened Pharaoh's heart so He could use him to display His Po2wer and Glory. But He didn't have to "override Pharaoh's will" - Pharaoh had already set himself against God. All God did was strengthen him in the decision he had already made so He could use him for His Purposes. There is nothing here that suggests God overrides anyone's "will." On the contrary, God pleads with people to "choose" life, to repent of their sins, and to come and "reason" with Him.

Richard

yinonyavo
07-20-2007, 02:03 PM
:pop2:Here, I'll through this one in to the ring:

Jer 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.

yinonyavo
07-20-2007, 02:26 PM
Here's a quote from a good book on the subject by Arthur Custance:

http://custance.org/Library/SOG/Part_II/Chapter9.html


The Confessions have not viewed this sovereign act as being effected by coercion of the will but rather as by a form of persuasion making the will responsive so that the unsaved "come most freely, being made willing by his grace" (Westminster Confession, XII. 1), or as Luther put it: "When God works in us, the will, being changed and sweetly breathed on by the Spirit of God, desires and acts not from compulsion but responsively" (Bondage of the Will, XXV).
When an individual matures and acts for the first time disobediently and the spirit dies, all that remains to the will is a natural bent towards unrighteousness. With the creation of a new man within, the will towards righteousness is re-created and the original bi-directional freedom of will which Adam first enjoyed is restored. In due time, the elect will reach the place where the old will to unrighteousness has died and there will thenceforth be freedom only to righteousness even as at the present time man by nature has freedom only to unrighteousness.
The creation of this new potential is a sovereign act of God's grace. It is not derived out of the old will, as though the old will were by some process purified in part. But it effectively breaks the bondage of the individual to the old will by creating an antagonist to it. The new life introduces a new kind of motivation, new desires, new goals, new aspirations. The old desires, goals, and aspirations are now challenged. The will to righteousness is not derived by some corrective process within the old will which gives it powers that it did not have before. The will to righteousness is identified with the creation of the new man in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Conceived as it were "virginally," this new man by the very nature of his being begotten of God partakes of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). This is what Paul in Romans 7:22 refers to as "the inward man," a phrase which, in keeping with the original Greek, might quite properly have been rendered "the man inside"! It is only embryonic until it is brought to birth; and it is immature until it is brought to perfection when God's molding and chastening work is completed (Phililippians 1:6; Hebrews 12: 6-11).

Now life comes before faith. The gradual change which is observable in the elect before they come to birth is spoken of as repentance. Like life, repentance also precedes faith. Faith is exercised by the living, not by the
dead. "He who lives and believes. . . ," (John 11:26). As is clear from John 10:26 we must already be Christ's sheep to be believers. The Lord did not say, "You are not my sheep because you believe not," but "you believe not because you are not of my sheep" ? which is a very different thing. Faith is not the cause of this life but the proof of it. We are not saved because we believe, but we believe because we are his sheep. Whenever repentance and faith are spoken of in juxtaposition, repentance is placed before faith (Acts 20:21; Hebrews 6:1). But if faith is the result of life, then whence does repentance originate? One can hardly see repentance, even when commonly interpreted as "sorrow for sins," as occurring before the spirit has been made alive. Yet we normally think of it as a kind of pre-condition to the new birth. But if man is spiritually dead until he is born again, how can he fulfill such a pre-condition as that kind of repentance which seems to require that he be already alive? Does a corpse sorrow over its deadness? Can the spiritually dead sorrow over his sins, except perhaps to regret that they did not succeed as he hoped? This is what Judas did when he "repented himself" in vain (Matthew 27:3). Must there not already be some form of spiritual life within the heart to make godly repentance possible? Otherwise, like Judas, a man merely changes his own mind.
Repentance in the more basic sense of the word means "change of mind," and it is reflected in experience as a changed attitude in the unbeliever towards the things of God. The idea of a change of attitude on the Lord's part which does not involve sorrow for sins is frequently observed in Scripture as the following verses indicate: Genesis 6:6, 7; Exodus 32:14; 1 Samuel 15:11, 35; 2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15; Jeremiah 18:8, 10; 26:3, 13, 19; Amos 7:3, 6; Jonah 3:10; and Hebrews 7:21. And the word also refers to human repentance which has little to do with sorrow for sin, as a comparison of Genesis 27:34 f. with Hebrews 12:17 clearly shows.
What we often witness in those whom we seek to lead to the Lord, before they are born again, is just such a change of attitude. The idea of sorrow for sin is by no means always apparent. Often it is rather a new interest in spiritual matters, a new desire to find meaning, a new openness in discussing the things of God, a new willingness to listen to the message of the Gospel. Such new attitudes do not merely appear after conversion; they are often observed before conversion. They seem to be part and parcel of what is meant in Scripture by repentance. They represent the beginning of a genuine change. Then must we not presume that the seed of spiritual life has already been germinated even though the individual has not yet come to birth? What else can this possibly indicate other than that conception has taken place though the gestation period has not yet run its course? And this period of gestation is by no means an uninterrupted progress forwards. It is often accompanied by periods of dormancy and apparent lack of interest. If in our concern we then try pressure tactics we often run into resistance, the
kind of resistance that was clearly manifest in the life of Paul before he was converted. We thus seem to come close to resolving a serious problem in the ordering of events. * There is a real kind of spiritual aliveness in embryonic form prior to the new birth. This new life is God-given. It is given unsought and unresisted. It is given secretly so that we, the sowers, can never be sure until later whether our sowing of the seed has been fruitful in the way we hoped. This is a sovereign act, centred in the will of God and not according to the will of man. It is the beginning of the effective realization of God's purposes in Election.

Richard Amiel McGough
07-28-2007, 07:12 PM
Here's a quote from a good book on the subject by Arthur Custance:

http://custance.org/Library/SOG/Part_II/Chapter9.html

Hey Yinonyavo,

That is a very interesting quote, and would serve as good grist for another thread. But I didn't see anything in it that addressed the issue of Eternal Decrees.

I am just about ready to vote. The more I think about the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees, the more I see a doctrine invented by clods of dirt.

Does anyone have any explicit biblical support for the idea that God ordained everything that ever happens?

Richard

yinonyavo
07-30-2007, 12:33 PM
Pr 16:9 ¶ A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Isa 14:24 ¶ The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
Am 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
Isa 14:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Acts 4:27-28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

yinonyavo
07-30-2007, 01:12 PM
Richard, maybe you could start with verses that show man was given free will..............

Ac 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.


http://cf.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G5021&Version=kjv

Richard Amiel McGough
07-30-2007, 05:00 PM
Hi Yinonyavo,

Thanks for the verses. They provide some excellent fiber for my Biblical diet.

I will walk through the verses one by one.


Pr 16:9 ¶ A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
The question of this thread concerns the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. Did God ordain absolutely everything that ever happens? If you are interpreting this verse as support for that Doctrine, then you are saying not only that "the LORD directeth his steps" to do good, but that "the LORD directeth his steps" to do evil, to murder, to rape, and blaspheme.

Is that what you believe?

The Bible Readers Commentary has this interesting note:


The rabbis did not see this as a declaration of sovereignty, but a call to purification. If you choose to live God’s way, God will direct your steps to your desired godliness.
Note the implicit understanding that the verse is talking about choosing to live "God's Way" which is the natural and common-sense understanding of the moral lessons being taught in Proverbs. Attempting to force this verse into the Calvinistic mold that denies humans are moral agents destroys its obvious and proper Biblical sense.

It is also very important to note that this verse is better translated as "A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD will establish his steps (when he seeks God's way, by contextual implication)" I assert this because the Hebrew word used is יכין (yakin) from kun which is almost never translated as "directeth." Here is Strong's definition, where we see that it is translated as "direct" only 3 times out of 219 occurrences:


כון kuwn {koon} a primitive root; TWOT - 964; v AV - prepare 85, establish 58, ready 17, stablish 5, provide 5, right 5, fixed 4, set 4, direct 3, order 3, fashion 3, variant 2, certain 2, confirmed 2, firm 2, preparation 2, misc 17; 219 1) to be firm, be stable, be established 1a) (Niphal) 1a1) to be set up, be established, be fixed 1a1a) to be firmly established 1a1b) to be established, be stable, be secure, be enduring 1a1c) to be fixed, be securely determined 1a2) to be directed aright, be fixed aright, be steadfast (moral sense) 1a3) to prepare, be ready 1a4) to be prepared, be arranged, be settled 1b) (Hiphil) 1b1) to establish, set up, accomplish, do, make firm 1b2) to fix, make ready, prepare, provide, provide for, furnish 1b3) to direct toward (moral sense) 1b4) to arrange, order 1c) (Hophal) 1c1) to be established, be fastened 1c2) to be prepared, be ready 1d) (Polel) 1d1) to set up, establish 1d2) to constitute, make 1d3) to fix 1d4) to direct 1e) (Pulal) to be established, be prepared 1f) (Hithpolel) to be established, be restoredI think the obvious biblical meaning of Proverbs 16:9 is that though people will try to find their own way in this world, it is the Lord who establishes their steps to get them where they are headed on their pilgrimage to the promised land.


Jer 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.
Well now, that's an odd "coincidence." This verse is the second of the three verses that translate the word "kun" to mean "direct" rather than its usual "establish."

This verse says only that humans are fallible and unable to properly direct their steps without (by contextual implication in the next verse) the help of God. It says nothing about God ordaining "whatsoever comes to pass."


Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
Actually, you should have retained the KJV italics in this one, because the actual Hebrew text does not contain the word "good." So the literal reading is "From the Lord the steps of man (gever) are established. (It uses kun, here translated as "ordered." Note that the "gever" has connotations of strength and might, and that might be in part where the translators got the idea of inserting the word "good." The point is that the "mighty man" owes his strength to the Lord. There is no implication that he owes his sin, weakness, and evil to the Lord, especially since the second clause says "and he delighteth in his way."


Isa 14:24 ¶ The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:
First rule of all Bible Study: CONTEXT CONTEXT CONTEXT. So lets read the verse in context:


Isaiah 14:24-25 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders.
The particular event that "shall come to pass" is specified in the next verse "That I will break the Assyrian in my land." It is not a general statement that God ordained "whatsoever comes to pass."

Statements by God saying that He will accomplish whatever He sets out to accomplish have absolutely nothing to do with the idea that He ordained "whatsoever comes to pass."


Am 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
Yes, God acts in History. What does that have to do with God ordaining whatsoever comes to pass?


Isa 14:27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
That is correct. God is invincible, and everything that He did ordain is certain to come to pass. But that does not mean that He ordained everything that ever happens.


Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
Yes, God does all those thing, but that doesn't mean that God is the only one who does anything. The statement is not symmetric. For example, the fact that God creates light does not mean that I can not light a candle without a specific decree from God that I perform that action.


Acts 4:27-28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
Yes that is a very important verse. God does decree things. Especially those things having to do with the Gospel. But the fact that God decrees some things does not imply that He decrees all things.

I am surprised you did not quote this one:


Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
The beauty of this verse is that is shows the interplay of free moral agents (with wicked hands in this case) and God's "determinate counsel foreknowledge."

I think the reason this error arose is because 16th century Calvinists had a very limited and mechanistic world view and didn't realize that God was plenty smart enough to rule the world and accomplish His foreordained Plan of Salvation without micromanaging everything with static "Eternal Decrees." They were just plain unimaginative. And unbiblical it would seem, given the lack of Scriptural support for their doctrine.


Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
Yep! God is omniscient, and everything He ordains will come to pass. But that does NOT say that He ordained "whatsoever comes to pass."


Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

I think that's the best one you found so far. I love that verse. But my fingers are tired, and I think I should toss the ball back into your court. Could you please explain - in full detail - why you interpret the word "worketh" as meaning "hath ordained"?

Thanks Yinonyavo! That was a wonderful exercise!

Richard

yinonyavo
08-15-2007, 07:28 AM
Richard, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. .......too much to do......too little time..........you know all about that!!

First of all, I have yet to say anything about what I believe.....you asked for possible verses and I posted them.............just wanted to through some food for the "fire"........

Now, as to what I actually BELIEVE.........first of all you said:


....then you are saying not only that "the LORD directeth his steps" to do good, but that "the LORD directeth his steps" to do evil, to murder, to rape, and blaspheme.

Certainly some of the things God decrees or "steps" he directs are "evil" from our point of view:

Am 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Acts 4:27-28 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

2Ch 18:21 - 22 And he said, I will go out, and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And the LORD said, Thou shalt entice him, and thou shalt also prevail: go out, and do even so. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil against thee.

Joh 13:27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

I think our mistake is to not realize that sin begins in the heart and has to do with INTENTION..........

Jas 1:14 -15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin...

We know God cannot sin, but this does not mean he cannot create evil and use it for GOOD. Man is not capable of doing this, for he cannot control outcomes or foresee consequences.........but God can. ....and I think that is essentially what you were saying:



Originally Posted by yinonyavo
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

I think that's the best one you found so far. I love that verse. But my fingers are tired, and I think I should toss the ball back into your court. Could you please explain - in full detail - why you interpret the word "worketh" as meaning "hath ordained"?

...and I would agree with you. I think it means God "works" it, not ordains it necessarily. I think it is a moot point as to whether God "ordains" each and every thing, for "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
Whether it is God's directive or man's choice the real miracle is that God can turn it for accomplishing his purpose....he may direct me to paint my house RED because he is going to give someone a vision to stop at a red house.......or God may allow me to choose to paint it green and God will put a GREEN house in the vision.

If God withdraws His Spirit we fall into sin......and I believe he does do that. That does not make him responsible for sin, but he can direct or "allow" evil, to accomplish good....which is exactly what happened in the case of Christ's crucifixion.......I'm sure God was not "taking a chance" that someone would carry out his plan.......He KNEW what man would do.

I think the case with Adam is the hardest to define....and maybe we aren't suppose to. I DO believe it was all part of the plan for Adam to fall. ...but since Adam did not yet have a "sin" nature, it is hard for me to exactly understand how he was assured of falling.........

Geoffrey
08-15-2007, 09:21 AM
Hi yinonyavo,



I think our mistake is to not realize that sin begins in the heart and has to do with INTENTION..........

I agree. Sin is actually unbelief.



John 16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Wrong deeds like stealing and killing are symptoms of unbelief. We are declared righteous or sinless because of faith and not because of works. Since faith is the only means of justification, it follows that unbelief is sin.



We know God cannot sin,


Yes, by definition.



but this does not mean he cannot create evil and use it for GOOD. Man is not capable of doing this, for he cannot control outcomes or foresee consequences.........but God can. ....and I think that is essentially what you were saying:

...and I would agree with you. I think it means God "works" it, not ordains it necessarily. I think it is a moot point as to whether God "ordains" each and every thing, for "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

God works it in the sense that he ordains it. By ordain I understand that He puts things in order that would make certain events possible. God does not force us to sin, but He made it possible, i.e. He ordained it. In spite of that, we still choose to sin. But why do we choose certain things and not other things? Because of our natures.



Whether it is God's directive or man's choice the real miracle is that God can turn it for accomplishing his purpose....he may direct me to paint my house RED because he is going to give someone a vision to stop at a red house.......or God may allow me to choose to paint it green and God will put a GREEN house in the vision.


Amen.



If God withdraws His Spirit we fall into sin......and I believe he does do that.That does not make him responsible for sin, but he can direct or "allow" evil, to accomplish good....which is exactly what happened in the case of Christ's crucifixion.......I'm sure God was not "taking a chance" that someone would carry out his plan.......He KNEW what man would do.

God does not play dice. He knows the end from the beginning.



I think the case with Adam is the hardest to define....and maybe we aren't suppose to. I DO believe it was all part of the plan for Adam to fall. ...but since Adam did not yet have a "sin" nature, it is hard for me to exactly understand how he was assured of falling.........


It was definitely part of the plan for Adam to fall. If he did not, God could not have expressed Himself as Saviour, or as Judge in the case of the wicked. Yet, Adam did not have a sin nature. He was not deceived. He did not take the fruit because he believed the serpent's tale, but because he loved the woman and wanted to save her. The only way to do so was to commit iniquity. In that act, we can see his God nature, because God took on human flesh and our sin upon Himself and died in order to redeem mankind, His bride.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 09:39 AM
Richard, sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. .......too much to do......too little time..........you know all about that!!

First of all, I have yet to say anything about what I believe.....you asked for possible verses and I posted them.............just wanted to through some food for the "fire"........
Hi there Yinonyavo!

You certainly tossed a lot of "fuel" on the fire. I found it very useful to walk through those verses. Thanks again!

No worries about "timing" - as long as the forum is up, the threads remain open for discussion. Its good to let things lie quiet for a while and then to come back to them with a fresh view.


Now, as to what I actually BELIEVE.........first of all you said:
Ah yes ... this is when it gets interesting!


Certainly some of the things God decrees or "steps" he directs are "evil" from our point of view:
Agreed ... except I think you are using "directs" in a different sense than the Westminster Confession. The Confession asserts that God decreed everything that comes to pass. He didn't merely suggest that you to paint your house red - he ordained it and so you had no choice in the matter. Now the logic-monsters will try to manufacture a "logical" system that allows for our freedom even though God ordains everything, but that is a manifest absurdity forced on us ONLY by the invalid assumption that God ordains everything! There is no need for that assumption, and I believe there is no Biblical warrant for it either. Furthermore, I believe it is truly inconsistent with the fundamental Biblical declaration that we are created to be true moral agents "made in the image of God"


I think our mistake is to not realize that sin begins in the heart and has to do with INTENTION..........

Jas 1:14 -15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin...
Yes indeed, that would be a mistake if we forgot it ... but I didn't forget it, my friend! It is central to my understanding of the "mystery of iniquity." We can not "explain" evil any more than we can explain our own free moral agency which we have because we were made in the image of our Creator.


We know God cannot sin, but this does not mean he cannot create evil and use it for GOOD. Man is not capable of doing this, for he cannot control outcomes or foresee consequences.........but God can. ....and I think that is essentially what you were saying:
That is an interesting approach ... it seems like you are saying that God can fully redeem the evil by "working it into something good" whereas we can not because of our limited abilities. But that's not the actual problem presented by the Westminster Confession. The problem there is that God ordains real evil that will never be redeemed - indeed, the problem is that God ordains every sin for which He will punish every unredeemed sinner for all eternity. This doctrine magnifies the "Problem of Evil" to infinity since the sin that God ordained will never cease to mar His creation. It actually looks like an apotheosis of evil which seems, by logical necessity, to transform God into the Devil who torments His creatures forever and ever and ever ....

This is not a trivial matter, and I do not believe there is any way to ameliorate its brute implications. That is why the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees may well be flawed in two fundamental ways:

1) Its simultaneous assertion of absolute divine sovereignty and creaturely freedom is logically incoherent and so literally meaningless, and

2) It is not taught in Scripture, and it contradicts many plain teachings of Scripture, such as a) our moral responsibility as creatures made in the image of God, b) the Goodness of God and God's Love for all His Creatures, c) the plain meaning of all the words of the Bible that call for repentance, or that say we are saved through faith.

3) It makes God the author of sin because He is the only true moral agent in the universe.

I think these three points condemn the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees as entirely unbiblical, and worse, it appears to be positively contrary to the plain teachings of the Bible in which case it MUST NOT be believed by anyone who confesses faith in the Bible as the Word of God.


...and I would agree with you. I think it means God "works" it, not ordains it necessarily. I think it is a moot point as to whether God "ordains" each and every thing, for "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."
It would, perhaps, be a moot point if God worked all things for the good for all creation, for then all evil would be temporary and ultimately redeemed by the Good (though we would still have a problem with the explicit denial of our nature as moral agents). But that is not the teaching we are examining here. The teaching we are examining says that God's creation is eternally marred by a never-ending TRUE EVIL that He ordained. In other words, the necessary logical implications of the Westminster Confession is that God is the one and only direct cause of all sin and suffering in creation, and that that sin and suffering will serve no redemptive purpose at all, but exists only to reveal the "glory" of God's hatred of the sin that He ordained, and His overwhelming power to smash the malformed clay pots that He Himself molded into their twisted and perverse God-hating malformation.

Is the "glory" of God taught in the Holy Bible?


Whether it is God's directive or man's choice the real miracle is that God can turn it for accomplishing his purpose....he may direct me to paint my house RED because he is going to give someone a vision to stop at a red house.......or God may allow me to choose to paint it green and God will put a GREEN house in the vision.
That's it! That's the point that the composers of the Westminster Confession did not have the vision to see. God is able to accomplish His Purposes without micro-managing every decision ever made in His Universe and without the BRUTE ORDINATION of "whatsoever comes to pass." God is able because He is Infinitely Wise and He is Omniscient and THAT is what I mean when I think about the GLORY OF GOD!


If God withdraws His Spirit we fall into sin......and I believe he does do that.
So do I, totally!


That does not make him responsible for sin, but he can direct or "allow" evil, to accomplish good....which is exactly what happened in the case of Christ's crucifixion.......I'm sure God was not "taking a chance" that someone would carry out his plan.......He KNEW what man would do.
Yes, your point is well taken. But again, its not at all what the Westminster Confession is talking about. The Confession says that every sin you ever committed was not done merely because God "withdrew" His Spirit and so "let" you follow your own free will. No, that is not the teaching at all. The teaching is that God ORDAINED each and every specific sin that you ever committed, and He did that before you were born, so it matters not what you think or do - God is the only moral agent in all the universe.

The really weird thing about Calvinism is that they begin with extreme error of taking the phrase "dead in trespasses and sins" in an absurdly literal sense as meaning "incapable of any response to God." That is idiocy of immeasurable magnitude! The text says NOTHING like that at all. On the contrary, the Bible constantly talks about our innate God-given ability and responsibility to respond to His Call!

As an aside, I'll never forget listening to that absolutely crazed heretic and uber-calvinist Harold Camping who, when some poor sinner would call in asking how to be saved, would tell them that they can DO NOTHING to be saved. That really was his answer! That is Calvinism in a "nut"-shell.

But it gets worse! After they convince you that you could not respond to God's Call because you were unregenerate, they then tell you that after you are regenerate you still can't actually "do" anything because God ordained all your choices before you were born! So in effect, we are "dead" both before and after "regeneration."

This is the strange Calvinist obsessive delusion that they use to convince themselves that they are holier than anyone else because they don't presume to have any abilities to do anything at all! Normal people are seen as arrogant because they presume that they really are responsible for responding (or not responding) to God's Call. Would that everyone were so "arrogant!"


I think the case with Adam is the hardest to define....and maybe we aren't suppose to. I DO believe it was all part of the plan for Adam to fall. ...but since Adam did not yet have a "sin" nature, it is hard for me to exactly understand how he was assured of falling.........
I think the case with Adam is extremely simple and plain - as soon as we toss out the false notion of "sin nature."

How did Adam sin without a "sin nature?"

The same way you and I sin without a sin nature!

We are fleshly creatures. The Bible says the flesh can not please God. It is at enmity with God because it can not obey the Law of God.

Yes, Adam and Eve were created as perfect creatures! But they were perfect fleshly creatures.

Neither Eve nor Adam were in communion with the spirit of God when they chose to follow their fleshly desires and commit the first sin.

It seems to me that this is an extremely simple, elegant, and biblical answer to the question of how sin entered the world. It fully integrates with everything we learn in the NT about sin and the flesh. And it removes the unnecessary and unbiblical "phlogiston" of "sin nature" from the theological system.

Well! That was quite a post! Thanks for the input that made it possible.

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 10:05 AM
Hey Geoffrey!

Thanks for contributing. I'm glad to see some life coming back to this thread.




We know God cannot sin,
Yes, by definition.
Do you mean by the definition of God, or by the definition of sin, or both?

Some folks say God can't sin because whatever God does is "by definition" good. I find that a very strange idea. God does all sorts of things that we certainly wouldn't call "good" if you or I did them! It also seems like linking the definition of "Good" with the definition of "God" is missing some essential point ... but that would be another thread, so I better move myself back to the topic at hand!


God works it in the sense that he ordains it. By ordain I understand that He puts things in order that would make certain events possible. God does not force us to sin, but He made it possible, i.e. He ordained it. In spite of that, we still choose to sin. But why do we choose certain things and not other things? Because of our natures.
That's not the definition of "ordain" intended by the doctrine of Eternal Decrees. It does not say that God made a variety of things "possible" and that we then "choose" amongst those various possibilities. No, not at all. The Doctrine says that God ordained each and every specific event that has ever happened in the history of the universe. He gave us NO possibilities to "choose" from. He ordained "whatsoever comes to pass." That is the doctrine we are discussing.

It looks like you took a clue from the word tetagmenoi (from tasso) used in Acts 13:48, correct?


And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained (tetagmenoi) to eternal life believed.Yes, that word has a "set in order" kind of idea, which is used by most folks who try to counter the Calvinist claim that only those "ordained" by God can believe. But that's a separate issue, since it could be true without the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees being true.

More to topic, the idea of "ordained" as used in the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees means "to decree" in such a way as to ensure "whatsoever comes to pass" is exactly what you decreed would "come to pass."


God does not play dice. He knows the end from the beginning.
Why would foreknowledge prevent God from playing dice?


It was definitely part of the plan for Adam to fall. If he did not, God could not have expressed Himself as Saviour, or as Judge in the case of the wicked. Yet, Adam did not have a sin nature. He was not deceived. He did not take the fruit because he believed the serpent's tale, but because he loved the woman and wanted to save her. The only way to do so was to commit iniquity. In that act, we can see his God nature, because God took on human flesh and our sin upon Himself and died in order to redeem mankind, His bride.

That is a very interesting take on the situation, Geoffrey! I agree with almost everything there .... but am disturbed by the statement that Adam had to transgress to save his wife ... that is not taught (as such) in the Bible. It could be true, but if so, the analogy with Christ breaks down because Christ did no sin.

Richard

Geoffrey
08-15-2007, 12:27 PM
Hey Richard!


Hey Geoffrey!

Thanks for contributing. I'm glad to see some life coming back to this thread.

No problem!


Do you mean by the definition of God, or by the definition of sin, or both?

Both. By definition, God does not change. Sin is a perversion. In order to sin, God would have to change. Therefore, God cannot sin. How's my logic?


Some folks say God can't sin because whatever God does is "by definition" good. I find that a very strange idea.

Strange?



Ezra 9:15 O LORD God of Israel, thou art righteous: for we remain yet escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before thee in our trespasses: for we cannot stand before thee because of this.


God is righteous. That means He does what is right or good. He does not change. Therefore, He never sins.



God does all sorts of things that we certainly wouldn't call "good" if you or I did them!


Are you judging God? Give an example.



It also seems like linking the definition of "Good" with the definition of "God" is missing some essential point ... but that would be another thread, so I better move myself back to the topic at hand!


What would that point be? I'll wait for the other thread.



That's not the definition of "ordain" intended by the doctrine of Eternal Decrees. It does not say that God made a variety of things "possible" and that we then "choose" amongst those various possibilities. No, not at all.

I did not write variety but certain. He makes possible certain events that will fulfill His purpose. Many other events are possible, but, because of His ordination, they do not realise.


The Doctrine says that God ordained each and every specific event that has ever happened in the history of the universe. He gave us NO possibilities to "choose" from.

Certainly He gave us possibilities from which to choose. I can choose between Fanta and Coke. Today I might choose Coke. Tomorrow I might choose Fanta. My choices will be influenced by my condition and my environment, which, in turn, are determined by past choices and past environments. How I choose and how the environment affects me are determined by my nature with which I am born.

That is how we should understand the Potter shaping the Clay.



Romans 9:20-21 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (21) Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

Observe that the Clay does not ask: "Why hast thou made me?" or "Why hast thou created me"?, but: "Why hast thou made me thus?" In other words: "Why hast thou given me this nature?"



He ordained "whatsoever comes to pass." That is the doctrine we are discussing.


And that is exactly what I meant.



It looks like you took a clue from the word tetagmenoi (from tasso) used in Acts 13:48, correct?


No.



Yes, that word has a "set in order" kind of idea, which is used by most folks who try to counter the Calvinist claim that only those "ordained" by God can believe. But that's a separate issue, since it could be true without the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees being true.


If there was no Tree of Knowledge to eat from, how could Adam and Eve have sinned? God set the Tree there in order to provide the possibilty. Because of her nature, Eve brought the possibility to pass.



More to topic, the idea of "ordained" as used in the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees means "to decree" in such a way as to ensure "whatsoever comes to pass" is exactly what you decreed would "come to pass."


Exactly.



Why would foreknowledge prevent God from playing dice?


By playing dice I meant taking chances. If I knew, like God, that the Yankees would win a certain game and if I placed a bet that they would win, would you say that I was taking a chance?



That is a very interesting take on the situation, Geoffrey! I agree with almost everything there .... but am disturbed by the statement that Adam had to transgress to save his wife ... that is not taught (as such) in the Bible. It could be true, but if so, the analogy with Christ breaks down because Christ did no sin.

Richard

Christ did not sin Himself, but He bore our sins and, consequently, was treated as if He had done them. We are treated as if we had not done them.

Eve ate the fruit, because she believed what the serpent told her contrary to God and disbelieved what God said (that is the actual sin). Adam was not deceived. He did not believe the serpent, but God. In that sense, he did not sin, like Christ. The analogy stands.

yinonyavo
08-15-2007, 01:42 PM
Originally Posted by RAM
That is a very interesting take on the situation, Geoffrey! I agree with almost everything there .... but am disturbed by the statement that Adam had to transgress to save his wife ... that is not taught (as such) in the Bible. It could be true, but if so, the analogy with Christ breaks down because Christ did no sin.

Richard

Christ did not sin Himself, but He bore our sins and, consequently, was treated as if He had done them. We are treated as if we had not done them.

Eve ate the fruit, because she believed what the serpent told her contrary to God and disbelieved what God said (that is the actual sin). Adam was not deceived. He did not believe the serpent, but God. In that sense, he did not sin, like Christ. The analogy stands.

I agree with Geoffry on this one. However, the miracle is that God has preserved both the type and the anti-type in one story...for we know Adam was also the anti-type of Christ.....(one was earth, one was heavenly....one brought in death, the other brought in life)


Richard, I am a little confused about what you are discussing.......Is it that God does not ordain EVERYTHING, like the everyday mundane things OR that God does not ordain salvation? I'm not sure how one could interpret "ordained" in this verse any other way....I missed it........


Ac 13:48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.


The really weird thing about Calvinism is that they begin with extreme error of taking the phrase "dead in trespasses and sins" in an absurdly literal sense as meaning "incapable of any response to God." That is idiocy of immeasurable magnitude! The text says NOTHING like that at all. On the contrary, the Bible constantly talks about our innate God-given ability and responsibility to respond to His Call!

Sorry, You'll have to count me in with the idiots on this one.........yes we DO have a responsibility to respond.......the trouble is NO ONE DOES.....

Rom 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

yinonyavo
08-15-2007, 01:58 PM
From Arthur Pink's Sovereignty of God:

‘Free moral agency’ is an expression of human invention and, as we have said before, to talk of the freedom of the natural man is to flatly repudiate his spiritual ruin. Nowhere does Scripture speak of the freedom or moral ability of the sinner, on the contrary, it insists on his moral and spiritual inability.

This is, admittedly, the most difficult branch of our subject. Those who have ever devoted much study to this theme have uniformly recognized that the harmonizing of God’s Sovereignty with Man’s Responsibility is the gordian knot[1] of theology.

The main difficulty encountered is to define the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Many have summarily disposed of the difficulty by denying its existence. A certain class of theologians, in their anxiety to maintain man’s responsibility, have magnified it beyond all due proportions, until God’s sovereignty has been lost sight of, and in not a few instances flatly denied. Others have acknowledged that the Scriptures present both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, but affirm that in our present finite condition and with our limited knowledge it is impossible to reconcile the two truths, though it is the bounden duty of the believer to receive both. The present writer believes that it has been too readily assumed that the Scriptures themselves do not reveal the several points which show the conciliation of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. While perhaps the Word of God does not clear up all the mystery (and this is said with reserve), it does throw much light upon the problem, and it seems to us more honoring to God and His Word to prayerfully search the Scriptures for the complete solution of the difficulty, and even though others have thus far searched in vain, that ought only to drive us more and more to our knees. God has been pleased to reveal many things out of His Word during the last century which were hidden from earlier students. Who then dare affirm that there is not much to be learned yet respecting our present inquiry!

As we have said above, our chief difficulty is to determine the meeting-point of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. To many it has seemed that for God to assert His sovereignty, for Him to put forth His power and exert a direct influence upon man, for Him to do anything more than warn or invite, would be to interfere with man’s freedom, destroy his responsibility, and reduce him to a machine. It is sad indeed to find one like the late Dr. Pierson—whose writings are generally so scriptural and helpful—saying, "It is a tremendous thought that even God Himself cannot control my moral frame, or constrain my moral choice. He cannot prevent me defying and denying Him, and would not exercise His power in such directions if He could, and could not if He would" (A Spiritual Clinique). It is sadder still to discover that many other respected and loved brethren are giving expression to the same sentiments. Sad, because directly at variance with the Holy Scriptures.

It is our desire to face honestly the difficulties involved, and to examine them carefully in what light God has been pleased to grant us. The chief difficulties might be expressed thus: first, How is it possible for God to so bring His power to bear upon men that they are prevented from doing what they desire to do, and impelled to do other things they do not desire to do, and yet to preserve their responsibility? Second, How can the sinner be held responsible for the doing of what he is unable to do? And how can he be justly condemned for not doing what he could not do? Third, How is it possible for God to decree that men shall commit certain sins, hold them responsible in the committal of them, and adjudge them guilty because they committed them? Fourth, How can the sinner be held responsible to receive Christ, and be damned for rejecting Him, when God had foreordained him to condemnation? We shall now deal with these several problems in the above order. May the Holy Spirit Himself be our Teacher, so that in His light we may see light.

I. How is it possible for God to so bring His power to bear upon men that they are PREVENTED from doing what they desire to do, and IMPELL to do other things they do not desire to do, and yet to preserve their responsibility?

It would seem that if God put forth His power and exerted a direct influence upon men their freedom would be interfered with. It would appear that if God did anything wore than warn and invite men their responsibility would be infringed upon. We are told that God must not coerce man, still less compel him, or otherwise he would be reduced to a machine. This sounds very plausible; it appears to be good philosophy, and based upon sound reasoning; it has been almost universally accepted as an axiom in ethics; nevertheless, it is refuted by Scripture!

Let us turn first to Genesis 20:6—"And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against Me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her." It is argued, almost universally, that God must not interfere with man’s liberty, that he must not coerce or compel him, lest he be reduced to a machine. But the above scripture proves, unmistakably proves, that it is not impossible for God to exert His power upon man without destroying his responsibility. Here is a case where God did exert His power, restrict man’s freedom, and prevent him from doing that which he otherwise would have done.

Ere turning from this scripture, let us note how it throws light upon the case of the first man. Would-be philosophers, who sought to be wise above that which was written, have argued that God could not have prevented Adam’s fall without reducing him to a mere automaton. They tell us, constantly, that God must not coerce or compel His creatures, otherwise He would destroy their accountability. But the answer to all such philosophizing is, that Scripture records a number of instances where we are expressly told God did prevent certain of His creatures from sinning both against Himself and against His people, in view of which all men’s reasonings are utterly worthless. If God could "withhold" Abimelech from sinning against Him, then why was He unable to do the same with Adam? Should someone ask, Then why did not God do so? we might return the question by asking, Why did not God "withhold" Satan from falling? or, Why did not God "withhold" the Kaiser from starting the recent War? The usual reply is, as we have said, God could not without interfering with man’s "freedom" and reducing him to a machine. But the case of Abimelech proves conclusively that such a reply is untenable and erroneous—we might add wicked and blasphemous, for who are we to limit the Most High! How dare any finite creature take it upon him to say what the Almighty can and cannot do? Should we be pressed further as to why God refused to exercise His power and prevent Adam’s fall, we should say, Because Adam’s fall better served His own wise and blessed purpose—among other things, it provided an opportunity to demonstrate that where sin had abounded grace could much more abound. But we might ask further; Why did God place in the garden the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when He foresaw that man would disobey His prohibition and eat of it; for mark, it was God and not Satan who made that tree. Should someone respond, Then is God the Author of Sin? We would have to ask, in turn, What is meant by "Author"? Plainly it was God’s will that sin should enter this world, otherwise it would not have entered, for nothing happens save as God has eternally decreed. Moreover, there was more than a bare permission, for God only permits that which He has purposed. But we leave now the origin of sin, insisting once more, however, that God could have "withheld" Adam from sinning without destroying his responsibility.

The case of Abimelech does not stand alone. Another illustration of the same principle is seen in the history of Balaam, already noticed in the last chapter, but concerning which a further word is in place. Balak the Moabite sent for this heathen prophet to "curse" Israel. A handsome reward was offered for his services, and a careful reading of Numbers 22-24 will show that Balaam was willing, yea, anxious, to accept Balak’s offer and thus sin against God and His people. But Divine power "withheld" him. Mark his own admission, "And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say anything? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak" (Num. 22:38). Again, after Balak had remonstrated with Balaam, we read, "He answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth? . . . Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it" (23:12, 20). Surely these verses show us God’s power, and Balaam’s powerlessness: man’s will frustrated, and God’s will performed. But was Balaam’s "freedom" or responsibility destroyed? Certainly not, as we shall yet seek to show.

One more illustration: "And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat" (2 Chron. 17:10). The implication here is clear. Had not the "fear of the Lord" fallen upon these kingdoms, they would have made war upon Judah. God’s restraining power alone prevented them. Had their own will been allowed to act, "war" would have been the consequence. Thus we see that Scripture teaches that God "withholds" nations as well as individuals, and that when it pleaseth Him to do so He interposes and prevents war. Compare further Genesis 35:5.

The question which now demands our consideration is, How is it possible for God to "withhold" men from sinning and yet not to interfere with their liberty and responsibility—a question which so many say is incapable of solution in our present finite condition. This question causes us to ask, In what does moral "freedom," real moral freedom, consist? We answer, it is the being delivered from the bondage of sin. The more any soul is emancipated from the thralldom of sin, the more does he enter into a state of freedom—"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). In the above instances God "withheld" Abimelech, Balaam, and the heathen kingdoms from sinning, and therefore we affirm that He did not in anywise interfere with their real freedom. The nearer a soul approximates to sinlessness, the nearer does he approach to God’s holiness. Scripture tells us that God "cannot lie," and that He "cannot be tempted," but is He any the less free because He cannot do that which is evil? Surely not. Then is it not evident that the more man is raised up to God, and the more he be "withheld" from sinning, the greater is his real freedom!

A pertinent example setting forth the meeting-place of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, as it relates to the question of moral freedom, is found in connection with the giving to us of the Holy Scriptures. In the communication of His Word God was pleased to employ human instruments, and in the using of them He did not reduce them to mere mechanical amanuenses: "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation (Greek: of its own origination). For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:20, 21). Here we have man’s responsibility and God’s sovereignty placed in juxtaposition. These holy men were moved" (Greek: "borne along") by the Holy Spirit, yet was not their moral responsibility disturbed nor their "freedom" impaired. God enlightened their minds, enkindled their hearts, revealed to them His truth, and so controlled them that error on their part was, by Him, made impossible, as they communicated His mind and will to men. But what was it that might have, would have, caused error, had not God controlled as He did the instruments which He employed? The answer is sin, the sin which was in them. But as we have seen, the holding in check of sin, the preventing of the exercise of the carnal mind in these "holy men," was not a destroying of their "freedom," rather was it the inducting of them into real freedom.

A final word should be added here concerning the nature of true liberty. There are three chief things concerning which men in general greatly err: misery and happiness, folly and wisdom, bondage and liberty. The world counts none miserable but the afflicted, and none happy but the prosperous, because they judge by the present ease of the flesh. Again; the world is pleased with a false show of wisdom (which is "foolishness" with God), neglecting that which makes wise unto salvation. As to liberty, men would be at their own disposal, and live as they please. They suppose the only true liberty is to be at the command and under the control of none above themselves, and live according to their heart’s desire. But this is a thralldom and bondage of the worst kind. True liberty is not the power to live as we please, but to live as we ought! Hence, the only One Who has ever trod this earth since Adam’s fall that has enjoyed perfect freedom was the Man Christ Jesus, the Holy Servant of God, Whose meat it ever was to do the will of the Father.

yinonyavo
08-15-2007, 02:00 PM
(continued)

We now turn to consider the question.

II. How can the sinner be held responsible FOR the doing of what he is UNABLE to do? And how can he be justly condemned for NOT DOING what he COULD NOT do?

As a creature the natural man is responsible to love, obey, and serve God; as a sinner he is responsible to repent and believe the Gospel. But at the outset we are confronted with the fact that the natural man is unable to love and serve God, and that the sinner, of himself, cannot repent and believe. First, let us prove what we have just said. We begin by quoting and considering John 6:44 "No man can come to Me, except the Father which bath sent Me draw him". The heart of the natural man (every man) is so "desperately wicked" that if he is left to himself he will never ‘come to Christ.’ This statement would not be questioned if the full force of the words "Coming to Christ" were properly apprehended. We shall therefore digress a little at this point to define and consider what is implied and involved in the words "No man can come to Me"—cf. John 5:40, "Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life."

For the sinner to come to Christ that he might have life, is for him to realize the awful danger of his situation; is for him to see that the sword of Divine justice is suspended over his head; is to awaken to the fact that there is but a step betwixt him and death, and that after death is the "judgment; " and in consequence of this discovery, is for him to be in real earnest to escape, and in such earnestness that he shall flee from the wrath to come, cry unto God for mercy, and agonize to enter in at the "strait gate."

To come to Christ for life, is for the sinner to feel and acknowledge that he is utterly destitute of any claim upon God’s favor; is to see himself as "without strength," lost and undone; is to admit that he is deserving of nothing but eternal death, thus taking side with God against himself; it is for him to cast himself into the dust before God, and humbly sue for Divine mercy.

To come to Christ for life, is for the sinner to abandon his own righteousness and be ready to be made the righteousness of God in Christ; it is to disown his own wisdom and be guided by His; it is to repudiate his own will and be ruled by His; it is to unreservedly receive the Lord Jesus as his Saviour and Lord, as his All in all.

Such, in part and in brief, is what is implied and involved in "Coming to Christ." But is the sinner willing to take such an attitude before God? No; for in the first place, he does not realize the danger of his situation, and in consequence is not in real earnest after his escape; instead, men are for the most part at ease, and apart from the operations of the Holy Spirit whenever they are disturbed by the alarms of conscience or the dispensations of providence, they flee to any other refuge but Christ. In the second place, they will not acknowledge that all their righteousnesses are as filthy rags but, like the Pharisee, will thank God they are not as the Publican. And in the third place, they are not ready to receive Christ as their Saviour and Lord, for they are unwilling to part with their idols: they had rather hazard their soul’s eternal welfare than give them up. Hence we say that, left to himself, the natural man is so depraved at heart that he cannot come to Christ.

The words of our Lord quoted above by no means stand alone. Quite a number of Scriptures set forth the moral and spiritual inability of the natural man. In Joshua 24:19 we read, "And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for He is a holy God." To the Pharisees Christ said, "Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because ye cannot hear My word" (John 8:43). And again: "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:7, 8).

But now the question returns, How can God hold the sinner responsible for failing to do what he is unable to do? This necessitates a careful definition of terms. Just what is meant by "unable" and "cannot"?

Now let it be clearly understood that, when we speak of the sinner’s inability, we do not mean that if men desired to come to Christ they lack the necessary power to carry out their desire. No; the fact is that the sinner’s inability or absence of power is itself due to lack of willingness to come to Christ, and this lack of willingness is the fruit of a depraved heart. It is of first importance that we distinguish between natural inability and moral and spiritual inability. For example, we read, "But Abijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age" (1 Kings 14:4); and again, "The men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them" (Jonah 1:13). In both of these passages the words "could not" refer to natural inability. But when we read, "And when his brethren saw that their father loved him (Joseph) more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him" (Gen. 37:4), it is clearly moral inability that is in view. They did not lack the natural ability to "speak peaceably unto him", for they were not dumb. Why then was it that they "could not speak peaceably unto him"? The answer is given in the same verse: it was because "they hated him." Again; in 2 Peter 2:14 we read of a certain class of wicked men "having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin." Here again it is moral inability that is in view. Why is it that these men "cannot cease from sin"? The answer is, Because their eyes were full of adultery. So of Romans 8:8.—"They that are in the flesh cannot please God": here it is spiritual inability. Why is it that the natural man "cannot please God"? Because he is "alienated from the life of God" (Eph. 4:18). No man can choose that from which his heart is averse—"O generation of vipers how can ye, being evil, speak good things?" (Matt. 12:34). "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" (John 6:44). Here again it is moral and spiritual inability which is before us. Why is it the sinner cannot come to Christ unless he is "drawn"? The answer is, Because his wicked heart loves sign and hates Christ.

We trust we have made it clear that the Scriptures distinguish sharply between natural inability and moral and spiritual inability. Surely all can see the difference between the blindness of Bartimeus, who was ardently desirous of receiving his sight, and the Pharisees, whose eyes were closed, "lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted" (Matt. 13:15). But should it be said, The natural man could come to Christ if he wished to do so, we answer, Ah! but in that IF lies the hinge of the whole matter. The inability of the sinner consists of the want of moral power to wish and will so as to actually perform.

What we have contended for above is of first importance. Upon the distinction between the sinner’s natural Ability, and his moral and spiritual Inability, rests his Responsibility. The depravity of the human heart does not destroy man s accountability to God; so far from this being the case the very moral inability of the sinner only serves to increase his guilt. This is easily proven by a reference to the scriptures cited above. We read that Joseph’s brethren "could not speak peaceably unto him," and why? It was because they "hated" Him. But was this moral inability of theirs any excuse? Surely not: in this very moral inability consisted the greatness of their sin. So of those concerning whom it is said, "They cannot cease from sin" (2 Pet. 2:14), and why? Because "their eyes were full of adultery," but that only made their case worse. It was a real fact that they could not cease from sin, yet this did not excuse them—it only made their sin the greater.

Should some sinner here object, I cannot help being born into this world with a depraved heart, and therefore I am not responsible for my moral and spiritual inability which accrue from it, the reply would be, Responsibility and Culpability lie in the indulgence of the depraved propensities, the free indulgence, for God does not force any to sin. Men might pity me, but they certainly would not excuse me if I gave vent to a fiery temper, and then sought to extenuate myself on the ground of having inherited that temper from my parents. Their own common sense is sufficient to guide their judgment in such a case as this. They would argue I was responsible to restrain my temper. Why then cavil against this same principle in the case supposed above? "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee thou wicked servant" surely applies here! What would the reader say to a man who had robbed him, and who later argued in defence, "I cannot help being a thief, that is my nature"? Surely the reply would be, Then the penitentiary is the proper place for that man. What then shall be said to the one who argues that he cannot help following the bent of his sinful heart? Surely, that the Lake of Fire is where such an one must go. Did ever murderer plead that he hated his victim so much that he could not go near him without slaying him. Would not that only magnify the enormity of his crime! Then what of the one who loves sin so much that he is "at enmity against God"!

The fact of man’s responsibility is almost universally acknowledged. It is inherent in man’s moral nature. It is not only taught in Scripture but witnessed to by the natural conscience. The basis or ground of human responsibility is human ability. What is implied by this general term "ability" must now be defined. Perhaps a concrete example will be more easily grasped by the average reader than an abstract argument.

Suppose a man owed me $100 and could find plenty of money for his own pleasures but none for me, yet pleaded that he was unable to pay me. What would I say? I would say that the only ability that was lacking was an honest heart. But would it not be an unfair construction of my words if a friend of my dishonest debtor should say I had stated that an honest heart was that which constituted the ability to pay the debt? No; I would reply: the ability of my debtor lies in the power of his hand to write me a check, and this he has, but what is lacking is an honest principle. It is his power to write me a check which makes him responsible to do so, and the fact that he lacks an honest heart does not destroy his accountability.[2]

Now, in like manner, the sinner while altogether lacking in moral and spiritual ability does, nevertheless, possess natural ability, and this it is which renders him accountable unto God. Men have the same natural faculties to love God with as they have to hate Him with, the same hearts to believe with which they disbelieve, and it is their failure to love and believe which constitutes their guilt. An idiot or an infant is not personally responsible to God, because lacking in natural ability. But the normal man who is endowed with rationality, who is gifted with a conscience that is capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, who is able to weigh eternal issues is a responsible being, and it is because he does possess these very faculties that he will yet have to "give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12).

We say again that the above distinction between the natural ability and the moral and spiritual inability of the sinner is of prime importance. By nature he possesses natural ability but lacks moral and spiritual ability. The fact that he does not possess the latter, does not destroy his responsibility, because his responsibility rests upon the fact that he does possess the former. Let me illustrate again. Here are two men guilty of theft: the first is an idiot, the second perfectly sane but the offspring of criminal parents. No just judge would sentence the former; but every right-minded judge would the latter. Even though the second of these thieves possessed a vitiated moral nature inherited from criminal parents, that would not excuse him, providing he was a normal rational being. Here then is the ground of human accountability—the possession of rationality plus the gift of conscience. It is because the sinner is endowed with these natural faculties that he is a responsible creature; because he does not use his natural powers for God’s glory, constitutes his guilt.

How can it remain consistent with His mercy that God should require the debt of obedience from him that is not able to pay? In addition to what has been said above, it should be pointed out that God has not lost His right, even though man has lost his power. The creature’s impotence does not cancel his obligation. A drunken servant is a servant still, and it is contrary to all sound reasoning to argue that his master loses his rights through his servant’s default. Moreover, it is of first importance that we should ever bear in mind that God contracted with us in Adam, who was our federal head and representative, and in him, God gave us a power which we lost through our first parent’s fall; but though our power be gone, nevertheless, God may justly demand His due of obedience and of service.

We turn now to ponder,

yinonyavo
08-15-2007, 02:02 PM
III. How is it possible for God to DECREE that men SHOULD commit certain sins, hold them RESPONSIBLE in the committal of them, and adjudge them GUILTY because they committed them?

Let us now consider the extreme case of Judas. We hold that it is clear from Scripture that God decreed from all eternity that Judas should betray the Lord Jesus. If anyone should challenge this statement we refer him to the prophecy of Zechariah, through whom God declared that His Son should be sold for "Thirty pieces of silver" (Zech. 11:12). As we have said in earlier pages, in prophecy God makes known what will be, and in making known what will be, He is but revealing to us what He has ordained shall be. That Judas was the one through whom the prophecy of Zechariah was fulfilled needs not to be argued. But now the question we have to face is, Was Judas a responsible agent in fulfilling this decree of God? We reply that he was. Responsibility attaches mainly to the motive and intention of the one committing the act. This is recognized on every hand. Human law distinguishes between a blow inflicted by accident (without evil design), and a blow delivered with ‘malice aforethought.’ Apply then this same principle to the case of Judas. What was the design of his heart when he bargained with the priests? Manifestly he had no conscious desire to fulfil any decree of God, though unknown to himself he was actually doing so. On the contrary, his intention was evil only, and therefore, though God had decreed and directed his act, nevertheless, his own evil intention rendered him justly guilty as he afterwards acknowledged himself—"I have betrayed innocent blood." It was the same with the Crucifixion of Christ. Scripture plainly declares that He was "delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23), and that though "the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ" yet, notwithstanding, it was but "for to do whatsoever Thy hand and Thy counsel determined before to be done" (Acts 4:26, 28); which verses teach very much more than a bare permission by God, declaring, as they do, that the Crucifixion and all its details had been decreed by God. Yet, nevertheless, it was by "wicked hands," not merely "human hands", that our Lord was "crucified and slain" (Acts 2:23). "Wicked" because the intention, of His crucifiers was only evil.

But it might be objected that, if God had decreed that Judas should betray Christ, and that the Jews and Gentiles should crucify Him, they could not do otherwise, and therefore, they were not responsible for their intentions. The answer is, God had decreed that they should perform the acts they did, but in the actual perpetration of these deeds they were justly guilty, because their own purposes in the doing of them was evil only. Let it be emphatically said that God does not produce the sinful dispositions of any of His creatures, though He does restrain and direct them to the accomplishing of His own purposes. Hence He is neither the Author nor the Approver of sin. This distinction was expressed thus by Augustine: "That men sin proceeds from themselves; that in sinning they perform this or that action, is from the power of God who divideth the darkness according to His pleasure." Thus it is written, "A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps" (Prov. 16:9). What we would here insist upon is, that God’s decrees are not the necessitating cause of the sins of men, but the fore-determined and prescribed boundings and directings of men’s sinful acts. In connection with the betrayal of Christ, God did not decree that He should be sold by one of His creatures and then take up a good man, instill an evil desire into his heart and thus force him to perform the terrible deed in order to execute His decree. No; not so do the Scriptures represent it. Instead, God decreed the act and selected the one who was to perform the act, but He did not make him evil in order that he should perform the deed; on the contrary, the betrayer was a "devil" at the time the Lord Jesus chose him as one of the twelve (John 6:70), and in the exercise and manifestation of his own devilry God simply directed his actions, actions which were perfectly agreeable to his own vile heart, and performed with the most wicked intentions. Thus it was with the Crucifixion.

IV. How can the sinner be held responsible to receive Christ, and be damned for rejecting Him, when God FOREORDAINED him TO condemnation?

Really, this question has been covered in what has been said under the other queries, but for the benefit of those who are exercised upon this point we give it a separate, though brief, examination. In considering the above difficulty the following points should be carefully weighed:

In the first place, no sinner, while he is in this world, knows for certain, nor can he know, that he is a "vessel of wrath fitted to destruction". This belongs to the hidden counsels of God, to which he has not access. God’s secret will is no business of his; God’s revealed will (in the Word) is the standard of human responsibility. And God’s revealed will is plain. Each sinner is among those whom God now "commandeth to repent" (Acts 17:30). Each sinner who hears the Gospel is "commanded" to believe (1 John 3:23). And all who do truly repent and believe are saved. Therefore, is every sinner responsible to repent and believe.

In the second place, it is the duty of every sinner to search the Scriptures which "are able to make wise unto salvation" (2 Tim. 3:15). It is the sinner’s "duty" because the Son of God has commanded him to search the Scriptures (John 5:39). If he searches them with a heart that is seeking after God, then does he put himself in the way where God is accustomed to meet with sinners. Upon this point the Puritan Manton has written very helpfully.

"I cannot say to every one that ploweth, infallibly, that he shall have a good crop; but this I can say to him, It is God’s use to bless the diligent and provident. I cannot say to every one that desireth posterity, Marry, and you shall have children; I cannot say infallibly to him that goeth forth to battle for his country’s good that he shall have victory and success; but I can say, as Joab, (1 Chron. 19:13) ‘Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people and the cities of our God, and let the Lord do what is good in His sight’. I cannot say infallibly you shall have grace; but I can say to every one, Let him use the means, and leave the success of his labor and his own salvation to the will and good pleasure of God. I cannot say this infallibly, for there is no obligation upon God. And still this work is made the fruit of God’s will and mere arbitrary dispensation—‘Of His own will begat He us by the Word of Truth’ (James 1:18). Let us do what God hath commanded, and let God do what He will. And I need not say so; for the whole world in all their actings are and should be guided by this principle. Let us do our duty, and refer the success to God, Whose ordinary practice it is to meet with the creature that seeketh after Him; yea, He is with us already; this earnest importunity in the use of means proceeding from the earnest impression of His grace. And therefore, since He is beforehand with us, and bath not showed any backwardness to our good, we have no reason to despair of His goodness and mercy, but rather to hope for the best" (Vol. XXI, page 312).

God has been pleased to give to men the Holy Scriptures which "testify" of the Saviour, and make known the way of salvation. Every sinner has the same natural faculties for the reading of the Bible as he has for the reading of the newspaper; and if he is illiterate or blind so that he is unable to read, he has the same mouth with which to ask a friend to read the Bible to him, as he has to inquire concerning other matters. If, then, God has given to men His Word, and in that Word has made known the way of salvation, and if men are commanded to search those Scriptures which are able to make them wise unto salvation, and they refuse to do so, then is it plain that they are justly censurable, that their blood lies on their own heads, and that God can righteously cast them into the Lake of Fire.

In the third place, should it be objected, Admitting all you have said above, Is it not still a fact that each of the non-elect is unable to repent and believe? The reply is, Yes. Of every sinner it is a fact that, of himself, he cannot come to Christ. And from God’s side the "cannot" is absolute. But we are now dealing with the responsibility of the sinner (the sinner foreordained to condemnation, though he knows it not), and from the human side the inability of the sinner is a moral one, as previously pointed out. Moreover, it needs to be borne in mind that in addition to the moral inability of the sinner there is a voluntary inability, too. The sinner must be regarded not only as impotent to do good, but as delighting in evil. From the human side, then, the "cannot" is a will not; it is a voluntary impotence. Man’s impotence lies in his obstinacy. Hence, is everyone left "without excuse", And hence, is God "clear" when He judgeth (Ps. 51:4), and righteous in damning all who "love darkness rather than light".

That God does require what is beyond our own power to render is clear from many scriptures. God gave the Law to Israel at Sinai and demanded a full compliance with it, and solemnly pointed out what would be the consequences of their disobedience (see Deut. 28). But will any readers be so foolish as to affirm that Israel were capable of fully obeying the Law! If they do, we would refer them to Romans 8:3 where we are expressly told, "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh".

Come now to the New Testament. Take such passages as Matthew 5:48, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect". 1 Corinthians 15:34, "Awake to righteousness and sin not". 1 John 2:1, "My little children, these things I write unto you, that ye sin not". Will any reader say he is capable in himself of complying with these demands of God? If so, it is useless for us to argue with him.

But now the question arises, Why has God demanded of man that which he is incapable of performing? The first answer is, Because God refuses to lower His standard to the level of our sinful infirmities. Being perfect, God must set a perfect standard before us. Still we must ask, if man is incapable of measuring up to God’s standard, wherein lies his responsibility? Difficult as seems the problem it is nevertheless capable of a simple and satisfactory solution.

Man is responsible to (1st) acknowledge before God his inability, and (2nd) to cry unto Him for enabling grace. Surely this will be admitted by every Christian reader. It is my bounden duty to own before God my ignorance, my weakness, my sinfulness, my impotence to comply with His holy and just requirements. It is also my bounden duty, as well as blessed privilege, to earnestly beseech God to give me the wisdom, strength, grace, which will enable me to do that which is pleasing in His sight; to ask Him to work in me "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).

In like manner, the sinner, every sinner, is responsible to call upon the Lord. Of himself he can neither repent nor believe. He can neither come to Christ, nor turn from his sins. God tells him so; and his first duty is to "set to his seal that God is true". His second duty is to cry unto God for His enabling power—to ask God in mercy to overcome his enmity, and "draw" him to Christ; to bestow upon him the gifts of repentance and faith. If he will do so, sincerely from the heart, then most surely God will respond to his appeal, for it is written—"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom. 10:13).

Suppose, I had slipped on the icy pavement, late at night, and had broken my hip. I am unable to arise; if I remain on the ground, I must freeze to death. What, then, ought Ito do? If I am determined to perish, I shall lie there silent—but I shall be to blame for such a course. If I am anxious

to be rescued, I shall lift up my voice and cry for help. So the sinner, though unable of himself to rise and take the first step toward Christ, is responsible to cry to God, and if he does (from the heart), there is a Deliverer to hand. God is "not far from every one of us" (Acts 17:27); yea, "He is a very present help in trouble" (Ps. 46:1). But if the sinner refuses to cry unto the Lord, if he is determined to perish, then his blood is on his own head, and his "damnation is just" (Rom. 3:8).

A brief word now concerning the extent of human responsibility.

It is obvious that the measure of human responsibility varies in different cases, and is greater or less with particular individuals. The standard of measurement was given in the Saviour’s words, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required" (Luke 12:48). Surely God did not require as much from those living in Old Testament times as He does from those who have been born during the Christian dispensation. Surely God will not require as much from those who lived during the ‘dark ages,’ when the Scriptures were accessible to but a few, as He will from those of this generation, when practically every family in the land own a copy of His Word for themselves. In the same way, God will not demand from the heathen what He will from those in Christendom. The heathen will not perish because they have not believed in Christ, but because they failed to live up to the light which they did have—the testimony of God in nature and conscience.

To sum up. The fact of man’s responsibility rests upon his natural ability, is witnessed to by conscience, and is insisted on throughout the Scriptures. The ground of man’s responsibility is that he is a rational creature capable of weighing eternal issues, and that he possesses a written Revelation from God, in which his relationship with and duty toward his Creator is plainly defined. The measure of responsibility varies in different individuals, being determined by the degree of light each has enjoyed from God. The problem of human responsibility receives at least a partial solution in the Holy Scriptures, and it is our solemn obligation as well as privilege to search them prayerfully and carefully for further light, looking to the Holy Spirit to guide us "into all truth." It is written, "The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way" (Ps. 25:9).

In conclusion it remains to point out that it is the responsibility of every man to use the means which God has placed to his hand. An attitude of fatalistic inertia, because I know that God has irrevocably decreed whatsoever comes to pass, is to make a sinful and hurtful use of what God has revealed for the comfort of my heart. The same God who has decreed that a certain end shall be accomplished, has also decreed that that end shall be attained through and as the result of His own appointed means. God does not disdain the use of means, nor must I. For example: God has decreed that "while the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest. . . shall not cease" (Gen. 8:22); but that does not mean man’s ploughing of the ground and sowing of the seed are needless. No; God moves men to do those very things, blesses their labours, and so fulfills His own ordination. In like manner, God has, from the beginning, chosen a people unto salvation; but that does not mean there is no need for evangelists to preach the Gospel, or for sinners to believe it; it is by such means that His eternal counsels are effectuated.

To argue that, because God has irrevocably determined the eternal destiny of every man, relieves us of all responsibility for any concern about our souls, or any diligent use of the means to salvation, would be on a par with refusing to perform my temporal duties because God has fixed my earthly lot. And that He has is clear from Acts 17:26, Job 7:1; 14:5, etc. If then the foreordination of God may consist with the respective activities of man in present concerns, why not in the future? What God has joined together we must not cut asunder. Whether we can or cannot see the link which unites the one to the other, our duty is plain: "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:29).

In Acts 27:22 God made known that He had ordained the temporal preservation of all who accompanied Paul in the ship; yet the apostle did not hesitate to say, "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved" (v. 31); God appointed that means for the execution of what He had decreed. From 2 Kings 20 we learn that God was absolutely resolved to add fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life, yet he must take a lump of figs and lay it on his boil! Paul knew that he was eternally secure in the hand of Christ (John 10:28), yet he "kept under his body" (1 Cor. 9:26). The apostle John assured those to whom he wrote, "Ye shall abide in Him", yet in the very next verse he exhorted them, "And now, little children, abide in Him" (1 John 2:27, 28). It is only by taking heed to this vital principle, that we are responsible to use the means of God’s appointing, that we shall be enabled to preserve the balance of Truth, and be saved from a paralyzing fatalism.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 02:08 PM
Hey Geoffrey!

This is getting to be a very interesting conversation. Now to make things more manageable, I'm going to respond to bite sized pieces. I think the first thing we need to clarify is the actual meaning of the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. Here is why:



The Doctrine says that God ordained each and every specific event that has ever happened in the history of the universe. He gave us NO possibilities to "choose" from.
Certainly He gave us possibilities from which to choose. I can choose between Fanta and Coke. Today I might choose Coke. Tomorrow I might choose Fanta. My choices will be influenced by my condition and my environment, which, in turn, are determined by past choices and past environments. How I choose and how the environment affects me are determined by my nature with which I am born.


It seems to me you are not understanding Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. Sure, you can "choose" Fanta or Coke, but the outcome of your choice was decreed by God before the creation of the world. The Doctrine does not say that your choice was "determined by past choices and past environments." The Doctrine states that your "choice" was DETERMINED BY THE DECREE OF GOD ALMIGHTY before you were born.

I am belaboring this point because when I clarified it early, you said you agreed, but you also wrote things that seem to directly contradict that understanding. I am talking about the following exchange:



He ordained "whatsoever comes to pass." That is the doctrine we are discussing.
And that is exactly what I meant.

If "that is what you meant" then what did you mean when you said "Certainly He gave us possibilities from which to choose"?

It seems like you think God determined our nature but not "whatsoever comes to pass."

We need to clarify this point or the rest of the conversation won't make any sense.

Richard

yinonyavo
08-15-2007, 02:15 PM
I always ask the question......when someone you love continues to reject your witness, have you ever prayed for God to save them, to "change their hearts"? ...of course. But if God cannot overcome their "free will", what is it exactly that God can do? If you ask, "if they are predestined, then why would it do any good to pray?".............because the Spirit moves us to pray that we might be partakers in the process or means that he uses.

Geoffrey
08-15-2007, 02:44 PM
From Arthur Pink's Sovereignty of God:

An article resplendent in wisdom!


‘Free moral agency’ is an expression of human invention and, as we have said before, to talk of the freedom of the natural man is to flatly repudiate his spiritual ruin. Nowhere does Scripture speak of the freedom or moral ability of the sinner, on the contrary, it insists on his moral and spiritual inability.

We might consider:



Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.


Even the righteousness of saying: "Because I have repented, because I confessed my sins, because of my faith, God has saved me."

The Bible says that we live by the faith of the Son of God (Galatians 2:20), not in the Son of God and that faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8).


While perhaps the Word of God does not clear up all the mystery (and this is said with reserve), it does throw much light upon the problem, and it seems to us more honoring to God and His Word to prayerfully search the Scriptures for the complete solution of the difficulty, and even though others have thus far searched in vain, that ought only to drive us more and more to our knees.

That's the best method of interpretation.


God has been pleased to reveal many things out of His Word during the last century which were hidden from earlier students.

Amen!


True liberty is not the power to live as we please, but to live as we ought! Hence, the only One Who has ever trod this earth since Adam’s fall that has enjoyed perfect freedom was the Man Christ Jesus, the Holy Servant of God, Whose meat it ever was to do the will of the Father.

The knowledge that it is no more I that liveth, but Christ in me, makes me exceedingly happy!

David
08-15-2007, 02:46 PM
I voted for the 2nd option. I believe the Bible provides overwhelming evidence that God is the creator, that he's absolutely aware of everything right down to minute details such as the number of hairs on our head. He is able to predict future events with great ease. He knows precisely who will be in the Book of Life. He hardens (or strengthens) people's hearts. If he creates us and knows everything we will do, he's not rolling dice at all. It's all very deliberate. Actually, I only didn't vote for the first option since that exact phrase isn't used in Scripture. I don't think it's idiotic at all - it's a viable viewpoint for sure.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 02:46 PM
I agree with Geoffry on this one. However, the miracle is that God has preserved both the type and the anti-type in one story...for we know Adam was also the anti-type of Christ.....(one was earth, one was heavenly....one brought in death, the other brought in life)
Hey Yinonyavo,

I am really enjoying this interaction. I'm glad you found a little time to challenge my understanding of these important issues.

As for Adam and Christ. Did you mean to write that Christ was the "anti-type" or is that an "anti-typo"? :lol: I ask, because the Bible says that Adam was a type of Christ, and that Christ is the anti-type. I don't actually like that terminology since it is confusing to a lot of folks, but it comes from the Greek which talks about the type and anti-type. Here it is (Strong's 499):


αντιτυπος antitupos {an-teet'-oo-pon} neuter of a compound of 473 and 5179; TDNT - 8:246,1193; adj AV - figure 1, like figure whereinto 1, 2 1) a thing formed after some pattern 2) a thing resembling another, its counterpart 2a) something in the Messianic times which answers to the type, as baptism corresponds to the deluge (1 Pet 3:21)
Now as for Adam's transgression as a type of Christ's sacrifice - I suppose we could view his transgression as a willing sacrifice of himself to save his wife - except he didn't actually save her, did he? I can see Gospel echoes here, but I can not tell yet if they are coming from the text or from the readers of it. I think it would be a worthy point to clarify.


Richard, I am a little confused about what you are discussing.......Is it that God does not ordain EVERYTHING, like the everyday mundane things OR that God does not ordain salvation? I'm not sure how one could interpret "ordained" in this verse any other way....I missed it........
The Doctrine of Eternal Decrees says that God ordained "whatsoever comes to pass." Now its true that salvation is something that comes to pass, so the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees implies that God ordained salvation too. But it doesn't work in reverse. God may have ordained salvation without ordaining the specific sin I committed last Tuesday.

So Acts 13:48 does not prove or disprove the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees, though it does give motivation for the Doctrine.


Sorry, You'll have to count me in with the idiots on this one.........yes we DO have a responsibility to respond.......the trouble is NO ONE DOES.....

Rom 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

Sorry, but I refuse to call you an idiot! Sure, I called the doctrine that says no one is able to respond to God absurd, but that was just my opinion. And I'm pretty sure I have believed more than a few absurd things in my day, but I'm not an idiot. So neither are those who believe their own little absurdities. Of course, this shows why its not helpful to express such opinions - folks who disagree can feel like they are being called "idiots." That is NOT my intent, and I sincerely apologize for introducing such "heated" language into our discourse. But hey ... I'm just a guy! That's why its so cool to be able to acknowledge my error, say "sorry", and move on!

As for your citation of Romans 3:11 in support of the Doctrine of a Sinners Total Inability to Respond to God, could you cash that out a little? Here's the question:

How does the fact that sinners do not seek God imply that they are unable to respond to God when He calls them to repent? And if they are unable to respond, why would God hold them responsible?

Do you see the problem? The doctrine says that people who are not response-able are still responsible. That seems totally loony to me.

And if people are unable to respond, and God knows it, why then does He bother to call? I would be an absolute idiot if I did things like that. Can you just see me calling to call a corpse - O Corpse, come to me O corpse! Repent, O corpse! Please, O corpse!

It seems to me that the Doctrine of a Sinners Total Inability to Respond to God makes a mockery of message of the Gospel. It transforms it into a grand farce where none of the words mean what the normally mean. They all have hidden meanings based on an incomprehensible philosophy. It makes God appear schizophrenic - He extends one hand and calls us with COME ALL WHO ARE THIRSTY even as he pushes us away with the other hand of his "secret will."

Such are the machinations of an entirely human philosophy. None of it sounds worthy of God. None of it rings true.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I really don't want to squash discourse with such strong words. But I think it is best that I present my understanding as clearly as possible so you will know where I am coming from.

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 03:03 PM
Hi David!

I'm glad you chimed in.


I voted for the 2nd option. I believe the Bible provides overwhelming evidence that God is the creator,
Absolutely correct. But that says nothing concerning the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees, does it?


that he's absolutely aware of everything right down to minute details such as the number of hairs on our head.
Absolutely correct again! But again, that says nothing about whether He ordained "whatsoever comes to pass." Don't you believe we are moral agents made in the image of God?


He is able to predict future events with great ease. He knows precisely who will be in the Book of Life.
Absolutely correct again! You are batting 100%. But, Divine Knowledge does not imply the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees.


He hardens (or strengthens) people's hearts.
Excellent use of language David. Most people are unaware that when God "hardened" Pharoah's heart he was actually strengthening him to be able to continue in his wicked course that he had already determined for himself. God chose to use a sinner for His Glory - fine. That says nothing about God specifically ordaining every murder, rape, and blasphemy ever committed.


If he creates us and knows everything we will do, he's not rolling dice at all.
That is an advanced philosophical proposition that is most certainly not "self-evident." When it comes to God and omniscience, and time and change we must recognize the limitations of our human language and our human minds.


It's all very deliberate. Actually, I only didn't vote for the first option since that exact phrase isn't used in Scripture. I don't think it's idiotic at all - it's a viable viewpoint for sure.
No ... its not "idiotic." I'm sorry that word got introduced into the conversation. But I also did not see any good reason for you belief in the doctrine yet. Now that you know my position, it would be very interesting to see if you can find a biblical foundation for the doctrine.

Richard

Geoffrey
08-15-2007, 03:56 PM
Hallo Richard!


This is getting to be a very interesting conversation.

Indeed!


I think the first thing we need to clarify is the actual meaning of the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. Here is why:
It seems to me you are not understanding Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. Sure, you can "choose" Fanta or Coke, but the outcome of your choice was decreed by God before the creation of the world.

Yes. God decreed it and how did He afterward ordain it? In other words, what did He do to make sure that His decree is carried out? By giving me a certain nature, by creating the environment in which I live and by putting in place the laws of interaction between my nature and the environment. It is in the nature of a human being to make choices, without a doubt, and the first choice he makes sets in motion an irrevocable career.


The Doctrine does not say that your choice was "determined by past choices and past environments."

Well, that's how I understand the doctrine. I certainly believe the portion of the document that you posted at the beginning of the thread. I don't know how the gentlemen who prepared the document understood the doctrine.


The Doctrine states that your "choice" was DETERMINED BY THE DECREE OF GOD ALMIGHTY before you were born.

Agreed.


I am belaboring this point because when I clarified it early, you said you agreed, but you also wrote things that seem to directly contradict that understanding. I am talking about the following exchange:

If "that is what you meant" then what did you mean when you said "Certainly He gave us possibilities from which to choose"?

It seems like you think God determined our nature but not "whatsoever comes to pass."

No. I mean: Because of the nature He has given us, whatever comes to pass is inevitable.


We need to clarify this point or the rest of the conversation won't make any sense.

Hopefully it will become clearer, the more we discuss it.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 04:11 PM
Yes. God decreed it and how did He afterward ordain it? In other words, what did He do to make sure that His decree is carried out? By giving me a certain nature, by creating the environment in which I live and by putting in place the laws of interaction between my nature and the environment. It is in the nature of a human being to make choices, without a doubt, and the first choice he makes sets in motion an irrevocable career.
OK - Let's see if we are tracking now. You say that God decreed everything that comes to pass, and He accomplished it by creating you with a specific nature. Specifically, you said:


Because of the nature He has given us, whatever comes to pass is inevitable.


I don't understand how mere "nature" can determine a particular sequence of contingent events. Your nature might mean you prefer Fanta over Coke 73% of the time. But what about the 27% of the time you prefer Fanta? How does God cause you to choose Fanta on that certain Tuesday in the monbth of May that He ordained before the creation of the world? Merely creating you with a certain "nature" is insufficient to determine every event that follows thereafter.

It seems like you are "front-loading" all the conditions, by which I mean you seem to think that God arranged everything in a very specific way at the beginning, and then created a bunch of people with very specific natures, so that He could let the whole thing run like a huge wound up clock so that each and every event would be mechanically determined by the initial conditions. Is that your vision of this doctrine?

If so, that's OK. It is a possible view, and indeed, it may even be not too dissimilar from the mechanistic views so common before the Twentieth Century.

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 04:27 PM
Hey Yinonyavo,

In general, it would be best if you just posted a paragraph or two with a link to the original article, and your comments as to how you think his comments relate to the issue at hand. OK? Because otherwise we clutter up the thread with stuff most people probably won't take time to read.

With that, let me answer a bit:


From Arthur Pink's Sovereignty of God:

‘Free moral agency’ is an expression of human invention and, as we have said before, to talk of the freedom of the natural man is to flatly repudiate his spiritual ruin. Nowhere does Scripture speak of the freedom or moral ability of the sinner, on the contrary, it insists on his moral and spiritual inability.Those are pretty strong words. I could counter that the Bible "flatly repudiates" Arthur Pinks assertion:

Ezekiel 33:18-19 When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby.

Both the "righteous" and the "wicked" have equal "moral agency" to either turn towards or turn away from God.


This is, admittedly, the most difficult branch of our subject. Those who have ever devoted much study to this theme have uniformly recognized that the harmonizing of God’s Sovereignty with Man’s Responsibility is the gordian knot[1] of theology.This is not true at all. The real problem is that Pink began with the horribly malformed and logically inconsistent Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. That is the real "gordian knot." God's Word does not present any fundamental problem in understanding Man's Responsibility and God's Sovereignty. The Bible assumes, from beginning to end, that man is able and responsible to respond to God. That is the plain teaching of Scripture.


The main difficulty encountered is to define the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. Many have summarily disposed of the difficulty by denying its existence. A certain class of theologians, in their anxiety to maintain man’s responsibility, have magnified it beyond all due proportions, until God’s sovereignty has been lost sight of, and in not a few instances flatly denied. Others have acknowledged that the Scriptures present both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, but affirm that in our present finite condition and with our limited knowledge it is impossible to reconcile the two truths, though it is the bounden duty of the believer to receive both. It seems like Pink is confused about the definition of God's Sovereignty. He seems to be assuming that God's Sovereignty is defined by the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees.


The present writer believes that it has been too readily assumed that the Scriptures themselves do not reveal the several points which show the conciliation of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. While perhaps the Word of God does not clear up all the mystery (and this is said with reserve), it does throw much light upon the problem, and it seems to us more honoring to God and His Word to prayerfully search the Scriptures for the complete solution of the difficulty, and even though others have thus far searched in vain, that ought only to drive us more and more to our knees. God has been pleased to reveal many things out of His Word during the last century which were hidden from earlier students. Who then dare affirm that there is not much to be learned yet respecting our present inquiry!Yes, let us prayerfully search out the Scriptures. :pray:


As we have said above, our chief difficulty is to determine the meeting-point of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. To many it has seemed that for God to assert His sovereignty, for Him to put forth His power and exert a direct influence upon man, for Him to do anything more than warn or invite, would be to interfere with man’s freedom, destroy his responsibility, and reduce him to a machine. It is sad indeed to find one like the late Dr. Pierson—whose writings are generally so scriptural and helpful—saying, "It is a tremendous thought that even God Himself cannot control my moral frame, or constrain my moral choice. He cannot prevent me defying and denying Him, and would not exercise His power in such directions if He could, and could not if He would" (A Spiritual Clinique). It is sadder still to discover that many other respected and loved brethren are giving expression to the same sentiments. Sad, because directly at variance with the Holy Scriptures.I stand with Pink in my rejection of the idea that "God Himself cannot control my moral frame, or constrain my moral choice" to be absurd and without foundation in Scripture.


It is our desire to face honestly the difficulties involved, and to examine them carefully in what light God has been pleased to grant us. The chief difficulties might be expressed thus: first, How is it possible for God to so bring His power to bear upon men that they are prevented from doing what they desire to do, and impelled to do other things they do not desire to do, and yet to preserve their responsibility? Second, How can the sinner be held responsible for the doing of what he is unable to do? And how can he be justly condemned for not doing what he could not do? Third, How is it possible for God to decree that men shall commit certain sins, hold them responsible in the committal of them, and adjudge them guilty because they committed them? Fourth, How can the sinner be held responsible to receive Christ, and be damned for rejecting Him, when God had foreordained him to condemnation? We shall now deal with these several problems in the above order. May the Holy Spirit Himself be our Teacher, so that in His light we may see light.It seems like Pink is hitting at the heart of the problem. I will answer in another post, to keep things at a manageable size.

Richard

Geoffrey
08-15-2007, 04:30 PM
OK - Let's see if we are tracking now. You say that God decreed everything that comes to pass, and He accomplished it by creating you with a specific nature.

Yes.


I don't understand how mere "nature" can determine a particular sequence of contingent events. Your nature might mean you prefer Fanta over Coke 73% of the time. But what about the 27% of the time you prefer Fanta? How does God cause you to choose Fanta on that certain Tuesday in the monbth of May that He ordained before the creation of the world? Merely creating you with a certain "nature" is insufficient to determine every event that follows thereafter.

Not merely my nature, but also my condition at the time, the environment and the natures of other people. The environment consisted of certain things under certain conditions at the beginning. The environment than changed, because of our actions on it, which were determined by our choices, which were determined by our natures. The new environment then leads to new choices and new actions and so forth.


It seems like you are "front-loading" all the conditions, by which I mean you seem to think that God arranged everything in a very specific way at the beginning, and then created a bunch of people with very specific natures, so that He could let the whole thing run like a huge wound up clock so that each and every event would be mechanically determined by the initial conditions. Is that your vision of this doctrine?

Yes. It is a matter of initial conditions.


If so, that's OK. It is a possible view, and indeed, it may even be not too dissimilar from the mechanistic views so common before the Twentieth Century.

When the Clay realised that it is all a drama with a prewritten script, he cried out: " Why does He yet find fault?":)

Rose
08-15-2007, 04:53 PM
Hi Everyone :yo:
I decided to jump in and vote after seeing all the activity going on in this thread. I voted for #4 because I think that the doctrine of eternal decrees contradicts what is taught in scripture. Before I voted I went to the link Richard provided to find out exactly what they meant by God ordaining whatsoever comes to pass. This is part of what I found out :eek:


By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels[6] are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.[7]
IV. These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.[8]So the way I read it is:

1) God specifically and unchangeably creates and designs each of us for a purpose, whether it be everlasting life or everlasting death! We have no choice in the matter. If God created us for eternal damnation then thats the end of the story :eek:

On the other hand the way I see it is:

2) God created man (us) after His image and likeness; which in my view means that He gives us the freedom to create our own thoughts (even though God already knows what they will be). God then determines from His foreknowledge how He will use and call us for His purpose, which has already been foreordained (determined, because of what God already knows) before the foundation of the world.

#2 gives me hope :pray:
whereas #1 leaves me with a feeling of hopelessness :smash:

Rose

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 04:57 PM
From Arthur Pink's Sovereignty of God:

I. How is it possible for God to so bring His power to bear upon men that they are PREVENTED from doing what they desire to do, and IMPELL to do other things they do not desire to do, and yet to preserve their responsibility?

It would seem that if God put forth His power and exerted a direct influence upon men their freedom would be interfered with. It would appear that if God did anything wore than warn and invite men their responsibility would be infringed upon. We are told that God must not coerce man, still less compel him, or otherwise he would be reduced to a machine. This sounds very plausible; it appears to be good philosophy, and based upon sound reasoning; it has been almost universally accepted as an axiom in ethics; nevertheless, it is refuted by Scripture!

Let us turn first to Genesis 20:6—"And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against Me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her." It is argued, almost universally, that God must not interfere with man’s liberty, that he must not coerce or compel him, lest he be reduced to a machine. But the above scripture proves, unmistakably proves, that it is not impossible for God to exert His power upon man without destroying his responsibility. Here is a case where God did exert His power, restrict man’s freedom, and prevent him from doing that which he otherwise would have done.Pink is mistaken here. The verse shows that God stopped Abimelech from ignorantly sinning against him, because he didn't know that Sarah was Abraham's wife. He did it in the integrity of his heart. God's action was no different than if I restrained my son from running in front of a car. It has absolutely nothing to do with the argument Pink was trying to develop.


Ere turning from this scripture, let us note how it throws light upon the case of the first man. Would-be philosophers, who sought to be wise above that which was written, have argued that God could not have prevented Adam’s fall without reducing him to a mere automaton. They tell us, constantly, that God must not coerce or compel His creatures, otherwise He would destroy their accountability. But the answer to all such philosophizing is, that Scripture records a number of instances where we are expressly told God did prevent certain of His creatures from sinning both against Himself and against His people, in view of which all men’s reasonings are utterly worthless. If God could "withhold" Abimelech from sinning against Him, then why was He unable to do the same with Adam?
First, I would ask "Who is Arthur Pink to be condemning 'would-be philosophers?'" Second, I am greatly saddened that I must point out the painfully obvious error that Pink has conflated God's constraint of Abimelech's ignorant sin with the idea of restraining someone's willful sin. That is a gross error.


Should someone ask, Then why did not God do so? we might return the question by asking, Why did not God "withhold" Satan from falling? or, Why did not God "withhold" the Kaiser from starting the recent War? The usual reply is, as we have said, God could not without interfering with man’s "freedom" and reducing him to a machine. But the case of Abimelech proves conclusively that such a reply is untenable and erroneous—we might add wicked and blasphemous, for who are we to limit the Most High!
Well now. Pink went from an irrational argument to an absurd implication that anyone who disagrees with him is a blasphemer! My oh my, what a mighty apologist we have here.

Consider the astounding depth of his error. He now has equated Abimelech's ignorant sin with every willful sin ever committed, include that of Satan himself! This is just about the worst exegesis I have ever seen.


How dare any finite creature take it upon him to say what the Almighty can and cannot do? Indeed, Mr. Pink, who are you to declare what God did or did not do before the foundation of the world? You doctrine is not found in the Bible. It contradicts what is found in the Bible. Indeed, "How dare any finite creature take it upon him to say what the Almighty can and cannot do?"


Should we be pressed further as to why God refused to exercise His power and prevent Adam’s fall, we should say, Because Adam’s fall better served His own wise and blessed purpose—among other things, it provided an opportunity to demonstrate that where sin had abounded grace could much more abound.
Let me assure you, Mr. Pink, that God was perfectly capable of accomplishing that purpose without following your philosophy and creating an army of robots programed to sin from before birth. The Bible provides a infinitely higher view of the Almighty than that!


But we might ask further; Why did God place in the garden the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when He foresaw that man would disobey His prohibition and eat of it; for mark, it was God and not Satan who made that tree. Should someone respond, Then is God the Author of Sin? We would have to ask, in turn, What is meant by "Author"? Plainly it was God’s will that sin should enter this world, otherwise it would not have entered, for nothing happens save as God has eternally decreed. Moreover, there was more than a bare permission, for God only permits that which He has purposed. But we leave now the origin of sin, insisting once more, however, that God could have "withheld" Adam from sinning without destroying his responsibility.There it is in all its vain glory. The Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. Pink had no understanding about the true glory of our Creator, and how He could give creatures true freedom - made in the image of God! God is not some cosmic "pot" that we are made in the image of. We are His children. God did not need to "ordain" that Adam would sin. God knew he would sin because He made him as fleshly creature, and left him alone in the garden to follow his fleshly desires, and that's why Adam sinned. That's the perfect clarity of Bible doctrine as opposed to the mountain of absurdities generated by human fleshly philosophies like the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees.

To be continued in another post ...

RAM

Geoffrey
08-15-2007, 05:25 PM
Hi Rose!



So the way I read it is:

1) God specifically and unchangeably creates and designs each of us for a purpose, whether it be everlasting life or everlasting death! We have no choice in the matter. If God created us for eternal damnation then thats the end of the story :eek:

On the contrary, #1 makes me jump for joy, because if God created me for eternal life (which I believe He did), then that's the end of the story!:woohoo:



On the other hand the way I see it is:

2) God created man (us) after His image and likeness; which in my view means that He gives us the freedom to create our own thoughts (even though God already knows what they will be).

Yes, we will have our very own thoughts, and as we grow in Christ, we want to have less and less of our own thoughts and more and more of His thoughts, until we have the mind of Christ.:bounce:



God then determines from His foreknowledge how He will use and call us for His purpose, which has already been foreordained (determined, because of what God already knows) before the foundation of the world.

I'd say it the other way around: He knows it, because He foreordained it.



#2 gives me hope :pray:
whereas #1 leaves me with a feeling of hopelessness :smash:

Actually, #2 makes me feel hopeless, because from past experience, I have no confidence in myself concerning right thoughts, words or actions. The only courage I draw is from the belief that He will do everything for me.


Psalms 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. ...

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 05:31 PM
When the Clay realised that it is all a drama with a prewritten script, he cried out: " Why does He yet find fault?":)

OK - Its good to understand your take on this question. I disagree on two fundamental points:

1) I believe that the mechanistic/deterministic world view is false. The universe not like a big machine that God can front-load with a bunch of initial conditions that then determines the outcome of every event.

2) You have entirely misunderstood Romans 9. The sinner was perverting Paul's doctrine and trying to subvert it by his flippant question. Paul had just finished teaching that God can use our freely chosen sin to accomplish His purposes. The sinner comes back with a flippant answer and says "So why does He find fault? I'm accomplishing His Purpose with my sin! Woohoo! Let's sin more!" This is essentially identical to the perverse argument of a previous hypothetical sinner that Paul challenged in Rom 3:7-8:


Romans 3:7-8 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? 8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.


See that? Its exactly the same sort of question the wicked sinner asked in Romans 9. This explains Paul's response "Who are you to talk back to God?" It is the sort of answer I would give my impudent son if he talked back to me. Then Paul uses the Pot and Potter quote to explain that God can do what He wants with His creatures. If His creatures sin, He can use their sin to His advantage with no damage to His righteousness. I think the "father-son" view is a much needed correction to the potter-clay metaphor which tends towards a dehumanization of the "pot." I also believe that it is the interpretation that Paul had in mind when he quoted (or alluded to) Isaiah 45:9


Isaiah 45:8-10 Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. 9 Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? 10 Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?In the OT source that Paul intended us to use as an explanatory text, we find the "father-son" relationship. This completely changes the complexion of Rom 9:19-20 because a son is not an object "made" by the father like a potter makes a pot. The son is a living being that bears the image and reflects the personality of his father. This coheres with overall teaching of Scripture that we are the living children of God much more than the relatively rare metaphor that we are dead earthen pots that have no will of their own.

And this is the fundamental problem with the Calvinist argument. They have taken the metaphor of the pot way too literally because it fits their doctrine that all humans - whether saved or not - are "dead" things that have no will of their own. But I say that we are real moral agents with real free wills because we are made in the image of our Heavenly Father.

Talk more soon,

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 05:46 PM
Hey ho Geoffrey!

This is a great and lively conversation. Thanks for your contribution!


On the contrary, #1 makes me jump for joy, because if God created me for eternal life (which I believe He did), then that's the end of the story!:woohoo:
And how do you feel about the souls that God created for the purpose of glorifying Him through their suffering for eternity? Have you no mercy or compassion or love for your fellow human beings?


Yes, we will have our very own thoughts, and as we grow in Christ, we want to have less and less of our own thoughts and more and more of His thoughts, until we have the mind of Christ.:bounce:


I don't think that's what Rose was getting at. It seems she was talking about the fact that you have expressed a very mechanistic/deterministic view of God determining everything which makes everyone look like a robot with no thoughts that were not pre-programmed by God before they were born.


Actually, #2 makes me feel hopeless, because from past experience, I have no confidence in myself concerning right thoughts, words or actions. The only courage I draw is from the belief that He will do everything for me.
The only reason you don't feel hopeless is because you believe you are one of the "lucky ones" who got created for glory, and you have followed your idea of God so closely that it doesn't even bother you to contemplate the eternal torment that the "unlucky ones" are destined for.

And why would you think that #2 makes you hopeless? The Gospel says that God will save you if you trust in Christ! It has nothing to do with "right thoughts, words, or actions" - it has to do with FAITH IN GOD. Why would you present it any other way?

I fear you do not understand the extreme irony of your position. You are placing all your faith in the Doctrine of Calvinism! What if you are wrong on that particular "thought" of yours? What if the Bible demands that you yourself freely choose to follow God or be lost?

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 06:02 PM
:pop2:Here, I'll through this one in to the ring:

Jer 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.
That's a good one.

Jeremiah, a free creature made in the image of God freely turns to his Creator and asks with full assurance of faith for salvation, and knows he will receive it!

Sounds like the Gospel to me!

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 06:15 PM
From Arthur Pink's Sovereignty of God:

The case of Abimelech does not stand alone. Another illustration of the same principle is seen in the history of Balaam, already noticed in the last chapter, but concerning which a further word is in place. Balak the Moabite sent for this heathen prophet to "curse" Israel. A handsome reward was offered for his services, and a careful reading of Numbers 22-24 will show that Balaam was willing, yea, anxious, to accept Balak’s offer and thus sin against God and His people. But Divine power "withheld" him. Mark his own admission, "And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say anything? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak" (Num. 22:38). Again, after Balak had remonstrated with Balaam, we read, "He answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth? . . . Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it" (23:12, 20). Surely these verses show us God’s power, and Balaam’s powerlessness: man’s will frustrated, and God’s will performed. But was Balaam’s "freedom" or responsibility destroyed? Certainly not, as we shall yet seek to show.This is another patently absurd argument. The moral responsibility remained because Balaam willed to sin. God stopped him from acting on it for His own reasons. It has NOTHING to do with his moral culpability. Balaam was willing to sin, and this means, just as Jesus taught us, that he was guilty of sin before God!

Didn't Pink ever read the New Testament?


One more illustration: "And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against Jehoshaphat" (2 Chron. 17:10). The implication here is clear. Had not the "fear of the Lord" fallen upon these kingdoms, they would have made war upon Judah. God’s restraining power alone prevented them. Had their own will been allowed to act, "war" would have been the consequence. Thus we see that Scripture teaches that God "withholds" nations as well as individuals, and that when it pleaseth Him to do so He interposes and prevents war. Compare further Genesis 35:5.
Exactly correct! That is the whole point of Romans 9. God can control the actions and destinies of people, but that doesn't make Him unjust, nor does it clear the guilty of their guilt. That is why Paul opposed the argument that "Why then does He find fault?" Perfect clarity with no Eternal Decrees!


The question which now demands our consideration is, How is it possible for God to "withhold" men from sinning and yet not to interfere with their liberty and responsibility—a question which so many say is incapable of solution in our present finite condition.
This is another ludicrous pseudo problem. God judges the hearts of men, but he restrains their actions as He sees fit to accomplish His purpose.


This question causes us to ask, In what does moral "freedom," real moral freedom, consist? We answer, it is the being delivered from the bondage of sin. The more any soul is emancipated from the thralldom of sin, the more does he enter into a state of freedom—"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36). In the above instances God "withheld" Abimelech, Balaam, and the heathen kingdoms from sinning, and therefore we affirm that He did not in anywise interfere with their real freedom. The nearer a soul approximates to sinlessness, the nearer does he approach to God’s holiness. Scripture tells us that God "cannot lie," and that He "cannot be tempted," but is He any the less free because He cannot do that which is evil? Surely not. Then is it not evident that the more man is raised up to God, and the more he be "withheld" from sinning, the greater is his real freedom!
I agree with Pink on this. It sounds like Scripture to me:


Romans 6:20-22 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

As far as I can tell, Pink has failed entirely and in toto to provide one valid argument for the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees.

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
08-15-2007, 06:51 PM
From Arthur Pink's Sovereignty of God:

We now turn to consider the question.

II. How can the sinner be held responsible FOR the doing of what he is UNABLE to do? And how can he be justly condemned for NOT DOING what he COULD NOT do?

As a creature the natural man is responsible to love, obey, and serve God; as a sinner he is responsible to repent and believe the Gospel. But at the outset we are confronted with the fact that the natural man is unable to love and serve God, and that the sinner, of himself, cannot repent and believe. First, let us prove what we have just said. We begin by quoting and considering John 6:44 "No man can come to Me, except the Father which bath sent Me draw him". The heart of the natural man (every man) is so "desperately wicked" that if he is left to himself he will never ‘come to Christ.’ This statement would not be questioned if the full force of the words "Coming to Christ" were properly apprehended. We shall therefore digress a little at this point to define and consider what is implied and involved in the words "No man can come to Me"—cf. John 5:40, "Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life."

For the sinner to come to Christ that he might have life, is for him to realize the awful danger of his situation; is for him to see that the sword of Divine justice is suspended over his head; is to awaken to the fact that there is but a step betwixt him and death, and that after death is the "judgment; " and in consequence of this discovery, is for him to be in real earnest to escape, and in such earnestness that he shall flee from the wrath to come, cry unto God for mercy, and agonize to enter in at the "strait gate."

To come to Christ for life, is for the sinner to feel and acknowledge that he is utterly destitute of any claim upon God’s favor; is to see himself as "without strength," lost and undone; is to admit that he is deserving of nothing but eternal death, thus taking side with God against himself; it is for him to cast himself into the dust before God, and humbly sue for Divine mercy.

To come to Christ for life, is for the sinner to abandon his own righteousness and be ready to be made the righteousness of God in Christ; it is to disown his own wisdom and be guided by His; it is to repudiate his own will and be ruled by His; it is to unreservedly receive the Lord Jesus as his Saviour and Lord, as his All in all.

Such, in part and in brief, is what is implied and involved in "Coming to Christ." But is the sinner willing to take such an attitude before God? No; for in the first place, he does not realize the danger of his situation, and in consequence is not in real earnest after his escape; instead, men are for the most part at ease, and apart from the operations of the Holy Spirit whenever they are disturbed by the alarms of conscience or the dispensations of providence, they flee to any other refuge but Christ. In the second place, they will not acknowledge that all their righteousnesses are as filthy rags but, like the Pharisee, will thank God they are not as the Publican. And in the third place, they are not ready to receive Christ as their Saviour and Lord, for they are unwilling to part with their idols: they had rather hazard their soul’s eternal welfare than give them up. Hence we say that, left to himself, the natural man is so depraved at heart that he cannot come to Christ.

This is the most amazing demonstration of the destruction of God's Gospel of Salvation by Grace through Faith. Pink has converted the Gospel into a "Gospel" of Works Righteousness. No longer are sinners called to believe and trust in Christ. No, that's not enough. Now sinners must fulfill the following set of conditions before they are GOOD ENOUGH to MERIT God's grace:


The sinner MUST realize the awful danger of his situation;
The sinner MUST see that the sword of Divine justice is suspended over his head;
The sinner MUST awaken to the fact that there is but a step betwixt him and death, and that after death is the "judgment; "
The sinner MUST be in real earnest to escape, and in such earnestness that he shall flee from the wrath to come, cry unto God for mercy, and agonize to enter in at the "strait gate."
The sinner MUST feel and acknowledge that he is utterly destitute of any claim upon God’s favor;
The sinner MUST see himself as "without strength," lost and undone;
The sinner MUST admit that he is deserving of nothing but eternal death,
The sinner MUST side with God against himself;
The sinner MUST cast himself into the dust before God, and humbly sue for Divine mercy.
The sinner MUST abandon his own righteousness and be ready to be made the righteousness of God in Christ;
The sinner MUST disown his own wisdom and be guided by His;
The sinner MUST repudiate his own will and be ruled by His;
The sinner MUST unreservedly receive the Lord Jesus as his Saviour and Lord, as his All in all.
There they are! Thirteen new and glorious burdens placed upon every soul before they can come and be saved by Christ! I'm sure if Pink hadn't run out of ink, he could have written at least six hundred more.

Does this sound like the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What ever happened to Matthew 11:28? I think this is worthy of a large red font:

Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Geoffrey
08-16-2007, 01:45 AM
Hey ho Geoffrey!

This is a great and lively conversation. Thanks for your contribution!


Thanks!


And how do you feel about the souls that God created for the purpose of glorifying Him through their suffering for eternity?

I do not believe that they will suffer literally for eternity, just for a long time. As to how I feel, sure I feel bad; you can imagine.


Have you no mercy or compassion or love for your fellow human beings?

Mercy is extended to them, but they spurn it. That they cannot help it is beside the point about judgement.The consolation consists in this: Why should we grieve where God does not grieve? God is righteously indignant against them.


I don't think that's what Rose was getting at. It seems she was talking about the fact that you have expressed a very mechanistic/deterministic view of God determining everything which makes everyone look like a robot with no thoughts that were not pre-programmed by God before they were born.

I also see it as a drama in which we are actors. As actors, we are strictly obedient to the director and think, feel, say and do exactly as prewritten in the script. We are very good actors and become so engrossed in the performance that we seem to forget that it is only a play.


The only reason you don't feel hopeless is because you believe you are one of the "lucky ones" who got created for glory, and you have followed your idea of God so closely that it doesn't even bother you to contemplate the eternal torment that the "unlucky ones" are destined for.

It certainly is horrible to contemplate. On the other hand, they deserve it.


And why would you think that #2 makes you hopeless? The Gospel says that God will save you if you trust in Christ! It has nothing to do with "right thoughts, words, or actions" - it has to do with FAITH IN GOD. Why would you present it any other way?

It has to do with the mind where thoughts originate. Words and actions follow from thoughts. Believing in your heart that you are saved means thinking in your mind: "I am saved." and then saying with your mouth: "I am saved." and then doing those things meet for repentance. To maintain that in the face of all kinds of temptations is not easy. Imagine being persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition. Look how Peter, after vigorously professing his faith in Jesus, denied Him three times in a row. If I had to rely on my own faith I certainly could not say that I would not have done what Peter the Great did. That would make me feel hopeless. But seeing that I have received the faith of the Son of God, which cannot fail, I am confident that I will be confirmed unto the end.


I fear you do not understand the extreme irony of your position. You are placing all your faith in the Doctrine of Calvinism! What if you are wrong on that particular "thought" of yours? What if the Bible demands that you yourself freely choose to follow God or be lost?

Richard

I freely choose God, because He makes me willing to do so and He makes me to do it. If I am willing (and that for the right reason, which is loving God from a pure heart), I am no more coerced and my decision is my own.



Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.


In the bondage of sin we were unable to think properly to arrive at the correct decision of accepting Christ, because of carnal minds. Wrong thinking leads to wrongdoing. We were unable to free ourselves, so He gave us a new heart (or a new way of thinking), which lead to new desires (a new spirit). He did not change us from goats to sheep. We were sheep to begin with, but were forced by the way in which we were conceived to act like goats. But He brought us back to our initial states (that is redemption).

I hope I have answered well.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-16-2007, 10:03 AM
I do not believe that they will suffer literally for eternity, just for a long time. As to how I feel, sure I feel bad; you can imagine.
Doh! I forgot that you believed in annihilation of the damned.


Mercy is extended to them, but they spurn it. That they cannot help it is beside the point about judgement.The consolation consists in this: Why should we grieve where God does not grieve? God is righteously indignant against them.
I think this is a BIG misunderstanding of the Reformed Doctrine and the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. God most definitely does NOT extend saving mercy to the souls that that He ordained for damnation before they were born. And that's the kind of mercy we are talking about, as you implicitly acknowledged when you suggested that they are damned because they "spurn" God's mercy.

The Reformed folks typically try to rationalize their doctrine by noting that everyone is equally deserving of hell because "all have sinned." God then chooses to save some for His own purposes - not because of anything they did, and certainly NOT because they did not "spurn" his mercy - and the others He passed over, letting them suffer the consequences of the sin that He directly caused by Eternal Decree. (Of course, they won't admit that last point, and suggest rather that the pot is somehow responsible for being of the form that the Potter gave it! Is that not the most ludicrous absurdity ever suggested by any human philosophy?)


I also see it as a drama in which we are actors. As actors, we are strictly obedient to the director and think, feel, say and do exactly as prewritten in the script. We are very good actors and become so engrossed in the performance that we seem to forget that it is only a play.
Thanks Geoffrey! That is one of the most direct admissions of the true nature of Calvinism I have ever heard come from one of its adherents. Reformed folks have gone to great lengths to deny the obvious "puppet show" implication of their philosophy.

So tell me this: How is a soul responsible for committing a sin that the Puppet Master God decreed that it must perform?


It certainly is horrible to contemplate. On the other hand, they deserve it.

So do you my friend. So do we all! But why is your God so stingy with His grace and so generous with His punishment? In an earlier post you asked me to give an example of something that your God does that would be judged as wrong if a human did it. Well, here it is. Any human who had the power to save or damn as he sees fit, and saves some and damns the rest for his own pleasure would be seen as a loveless monster.

The Doctrine of Eternal Decrees is fundamentally incompatible with the Doctrine of God's Universal Love for all His Creatures. There is absolutely NO WAY to avoid the implication that God created some people so that He could hate them with an everlasting hatred! I know you believe in annihilation, and I will admit that greatly alleviates many of the difficulties with this doctrine. But most folks say annihilationism is heresy! They assert the only Biblical doctrine is the Doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment in Hell, and that, in my eyes, is the apotheosis of hatred! But regardless of your view of the nature of hell, you are commanded to love them that God hates. So your love is greater than God's Love! Is that not ludicrous?


It has to do with the mind where thoughts originate. Words and actions follow from thoughts. Believing in your heart that you are saved means thinking in your mind: "I am saved." and then saying with your mouth: "I am saved." and then doing those things meet for repentance.
:confused: I thought we were saved by Grace through Faith! :confused2: You make it sound like its some huge multi-billion dollar Public Works Project. No hope of getting that done on budget, is there? Maybe you need to re-read the contract. You don't have to supply a dime. Its all been paid for by the Guvner. All you gotta do is reach out and receive. He'll done the rest. Everything. Completely finished by Christ our Lord. Please believe me! You don't have to "work" to "believe" the Gospel!

This exemplifies another absolutely astounding error of the Reformed Tradition. They teach that "Faith" is a "Work"! Their doctrines are incoherent with themselves and with the plain teaching of the Bible which explicitly contrasts faith and works!


To maintain that in the face of all kinds of temptations is not easy. Imagine being persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition. Look how Peter, after vigorously professing his faith in Jesus, denied Him three times in a row. If I had to rely on my own faith I certainly could not say that I would not have done what Peter the Great did.
There it is! Look at it closely Geoffrey! We have found another fundamental error. The Bible nowhere commands you to "rely" on "faith" - whether yours or someone else's. The Bible tells you to rely on CHRIST. Now this is one of those crazy twisted linguistic traps only a Reformed Theologian could invent. I know you didn't invent it, because I've seen it before. Let me try to out of this semantic swamp you have fallen into.

Let's begin with the definition of the word "rely"


re·ly play_w("R0142500&quot(rhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/ibreve.gif-lhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/imacr.gifhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/prime.gif)
intr.v. re·lied, re·ly·ing, re·lies
1. To be dependent for support, help, or supply: relies on her parents for tuition.
2. To place or have faith or confidence: relied on them to tell him the truth.

[Middle English relien, to rally, from Old French relier, from Latin relighttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/amacr.gifre, to bind fast : re-, re- + lighttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/amacr.gifre, to bind; see leig- in Indo-European roots.]
re·lihttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/prime.gifer n.
Synonyms: rely, trust, depend, reckon
These verbs share the meaning to place or have faith or confidence in someone or something. Rely implies complete confidence: "You are the only woman I can rely on to be interested in her" John Galsworthy.
Trust stresses confidence arising from belief that is often based on inconclusive evidence: "We must try to trust one another. Stay and cooperate" Jomo Kenyatta.
Depend implies confidence in the help or support of another: depends on friends for emotional support.
Reckon implies a sense of confident expectancy: "He reckons on finding a woman as big a fool as himself" George Meredith.

Here is the key to the misunderstanding. The word "rely" is just another way to say "trust" or "have faith in." So when you posed the subjunctive "If I had to rely on my own faith" you were actually suggesting "If I had to have faith in my own faith."

Got it? The Bible NEVER teaches us to have faith in our own faith! Neither does it tell us to have "faith" in "Christ's faith," rather, we are to TRUST CHRIST - our Living God who is Faithful! We need to drop the stupid word games and get down to the reality taught in the Bible.

Many folks might think these distinctions nit-picky, but I trust that you see how they expose a fundamental misrepresentation of the Biblical doctrine. This is yet another inevitable confusion generated by the inherent inconsistency of the assumptions laid in the foundation of Reformed Theology.


That would make me feel hopeless. But seeing that I have received the faith of the Son of God, which cannot fail, I am confident that I will be confirmed unto the end.
How do you know you received it? Maybe you are still a sinner imagining you are one of the elect? In what are you really placing your faith? Do you trust Christ with your own faith? If not, then you are not a Christian, are you? The Bible says "put your trust in the LORD." But Reformed Theology perverts that into "you can't trust your trust!" What a bunch of blather!


I freely choose God, because He makes me willing to do so and He makes me to do it. If I am willing (and that for the right reason, which is loving God from a pure heart), I am no more coerced and my decision is my own.
That sounds like sophistry to me. You said that God ordained that you would have a "willing heart." So it was God, and only God, who had any "choice" in the matter. By your own admission, you are just an actor reading a script written by the Great Writer in the Sky. God alone is the only one with a Will in the entire universe. Reality is really just a big puppet show, and to me, that sucks out every last drop of meaning it ever held.


In the bondage of sin we were unable to think properly to arrive at the correct decision of accepting Christ,
:eek: Are you saying the sinner is unable to perform the Work of Correct Thinking? Horrors! How then can he be saved? If only God had thought to make a Gospel of Grace through faith and not of works so that the promise might be sure unto all the seed!


because of carnal minds. Wrong thinking leads to wrongdoing. We were unable to free ourselves, so He gave us a new heart (or a new way of thinking), which lead to new desires (a new spirit). He did not change us from goats to sheep. We were sheep to begin with, but were forced by the way in which we were conceived to act like goats. But He brought us back to our initial states (that is redemption).
That's a very interesting mix of standard Reformed Theology (God has to regenerate us before we can believe) with something I don't recognize about we being sheep in goats clothing before we were saved. Where did you get that last bit?


I hope I have answered well.
You have done exceedingly well, my friend! Thank you for working with me on this most important issue.

Richard

David
08-16-2007, 01:55 PM
(Of course, they won't admit that last point, and suggest rather that the pot is somehow responsible for being of the form that the Potter gave it! Is that not the most ludicrous absurdity ever suggested by any human philosophy?)



:lol: Your passion and fiery spirit are getting the best of you, sir! Of course it's bizarre to all of us, but you're overlooking that your concept is just as difficult to fathom: God created us, knows everything about us long before we're born, can predict the future, and knows who will be in the book of life. And you agree to all this, yet claim we have free will. So according to you, that's an advanced philosophical proposition beyond the limit of our understanding. But the Calvinist view is a ludicrous absudity? :p

It's clear as daylight to me that both views seem equally absurd and that we're all just philosophizing about things we don't understand.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-16-2007, 02:53 PM
:lol: Your passion and fiery spirit are getting the best of you, sir! Of course it's bizarre to all of us, but you're overlooking that your concept is just as difficult to fathom: God created us, knows everything about us long before we're born, can predict the future, and knows who will be in the book of life. And you agree to all this, yet claim we have free will. So according to you, that's an advanced philosophical proposition beyond the limit of our understanding. But the Calvinist view is a ludicrous absudity? :p

It's clear as daylight to me that both views seem equally absurd and that we're all just philosophizing about things we don't understand.

Point well taken David, but I must question the clarity of your daylight. If anything is "clear" it is the difference between the position that says "It is very difficult to understand how God's Sovereignty relates to human freedom" and the position that says: "Here's the answer: God ordained everything we do, but we are still free and morally responsible creatures."

Obviously, there is no symmetry whatsoever between my position which recognizes the limitations of our understanding, and the Calvinists who invent logically incoherent philosophies on a foundation with no biblical support whatsoever. No on has yet successfully argued for a single verse that proves the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. And that is the foundation of Calvinism and the root source of their bizarre (as you put it) understanding of God.

There is a complete lack of symmetry between my position and that of Calvinism. On the Calvinist side, the contradiction is explicitly stated as an article of faith. Indeed, the contradiction is so obvious that the framers of the Westminster Confession felt it necessary to deny it even as they stated it. Here is what I am talking about:


I. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.
Now you try to suggest that I am faced with an identical situation because I assent to the following propositions:
God created us,
knows everything about us long before we're born,
can predict the future,
and knows who will be in the book of life.You have made an extraordinary error my friend! You have simply asserted, with no evidence or argument whatsoever, that those four propositions are logically inconsistent with any and all possible definitions of free will. That is an astounding claim, is it not? You have declared that ALMIGHTY GOD is ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE of creating truly free creatures in His image! Excuse me as I quote Arthur Pink:

"How dare any finite creature take it upon himself to say what the Almighty can and cannot do?"

I hope my strong answer doesn't discourage you from trying to prove me wrong!

Richard

shalag
08-16-2007, 03:37 PM
Romans 8 28:29 starts out speaking to 'those who love God'. Since God created 'man in His image' - his pupose is for 'those who love Him' to be conformed to his image. From what I am seeing, 'predestination' is speaking to his purpose that man be conformed to His image.


Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. It seems in the above verse that He 'foreknew Jesus Christ'-that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. But that he also had a plan for 'those who loved God' - his predestination being his plan in Ephesians 1.

Ephesians 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself… 11 in HIm also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.

This predestinated plan is open to ALL who love God.There is only ONE way - through His door, Jesus Christ. ALL have free choice to choose to conformed to His image through adoption as sons by Jesus Christ.

This has always been the way - from the beginning.


1 Corinthians 10:1-5 1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.Free choice appears to be
1. To choose the predestinated plan - salvation through Christ
2. To go your own way - and gratify the lusts of the flesh

I believe God's 'eternal decree' to be believed - is His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.

David
08-16-2007, 04:05 PM
Point well taken David, but I must question the clarity of your daylight. That is wise thinking. :D
If anything is "clear" it is the difference between the position that says "It is very difficult to understand how God's Sovereignty relates to human freedom" and the position that says: "Here's the answer: God ordained everything we do, but we are still free and morally responsible creatures."

It was sloppy for me to yoke my position with Calvinism because I don't fully agree with the second statement if that's what they believe. I believe we are morally responsible but not free. That may seem contradictory to human understanding but we ought not limit the Almighty with our finite thinking! (It really works both ways more than you give it credit for I think.)


You have simply asserted, with no evidence or argument whatsoever, that those four propositions are logically inconsistent with any and all possible definitions of free will. That is an astounding claim, is it not? You have declared that ALMIGHTY GOD is ABSOLUTELY INCAPABLE of creating truly free creatures in His image! Excuse me as I quote Arthur Pink:

"How dare any finite creature take it upon himself to say what the Almighty can and cannot do?"


It's not that astounding. There's no example in human life of people creating things deliberately, knowing precisely how they will work, and then claiming the made objects have any freedom. If we create computer programs, (assuming we know what we're doing) they will obey us and have no free will. I'm not saying God can't do this - I'm saying both assumptions are indeed equally counterintuitive from a human perspective and will remain so since the Bible didn't clarify the issue.

Actually, you admit that we're not equal to God - we're finite and he is Almighty. So by saying we're made in his image would you agree with my statement, "We are not made in God's mirror image, but simply have some of his qualities". If so, I would argue that you're arbitrarily assuming that free will is that quality. I've always interpreted that verse as meaning we share his emotions (such as jealousy, so that we can understand spiritual ideas like idolatry by relating them to the fleshly equivalent - adultery). But I don't think we share his free will. We just think we do.


I hope my strong answer doesn't discourage you from trying to prove me wrong!

Richard

Not at all. ;) I approach this stuff with a sense of humor. In a setting like this where people are more theologically, mathematically, and computer sophisticated than me, I come to learn and change by testing all my old dogmas.

shalag, sorry to interrupt your last post.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-16-2007, 06:32 PM
That is wise thinking. :D
Ha! I thought so .... :lol:


It was sloppy for me to yoke my position with Calvinism because I don't fully agree with the second statement if that's what they believe. I believe we are morally responsible but not free. That may seem contradictory to human understanding but we ought not limit the Almighty with our finite thinking! (It really works both ways more than you give it credit for I think.)
That's why these conversations require a bit of give and take before things get clear. Everyone has there own variation on everything.

But I think it is a fundamental error - and an invalid rhetorical technique used by Calvinist - to assert that the logical contradiction of Calvinism is due to limitations in our human intellects. The truth is much simpler: The Calvinist assertions are logically incoherent.


It's not that astounding. There's no example in human life of people creating things deliberately, knowing precisely how they will work, and then claiming the made objects have any freedom. If we create computer programs, (assuming we know what we're doing) they will obey us and have no free will. I'm not saying God can't do this - I'm saying both assumptions are indeed equally counterintuitive from a human perspective and will remain so since the Bible didn't clarify the issue.
I think you have mischaracterized the problem. The Bible only rarely presents us as mere objects made by God as in the Pot and Potter metaphor. Much more frequent is the Father/Child metaphor, in which case we would have no problem whatsoever in conceiving ourselves as genuinely free just like our Heavenly Father. It is one of His Communicable Attributes (http://www.leppc.net/kearns/Attributes.htm) which we share with Him by virtue of being made in His image. Here is a typical list of both shared and unshared attributes:


Unshared attributes = 'Incommunicable' attributes: Those characteristics of God that are unique to him, and are not also characteristics of His creatures. These include: Self-existence; 'Solitariness'; Independence; Unity; Trinity; Sovereignty; Unchangeableness; Infinity; Omnipresence; Omnipotence; Omniscience;

Shared attributes = 'Communicable' attributes: The attributes that we share by being made in God’s image. These include: Spirituality; Knowledge; Wisdom; Truthfulness; Holiness; Love; Mercy; Wrath; Will; Freedom; Beauty;
You see David, folks have been thinking about this for a very long time. I didn't just make up these ideas I am sharing.

The problem with Calvinism is caused by the false Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. There is no fundamental contradiction between God's Sovereignty and Human Freedom unless you assume that God ordains whatsoever comes to pass. That's why that doctrine is so outrageously ridiculous. It has no biblical foundation, and has driven people to attribute manifest absurdities to the "mystery of God."


Actually, you admit that we're not equal to God - we're finite and he is Almighty. So by saying we're made in his image would you agree with my statement, "We are not made in God's mirror image, but simply have some of his qualities". If so, I would argue that you're arbitrarily assuming that free will is that quality. I've always interpreted that verse as meaning we share his emotions (such as jealousy, so that we can understand spiritual ideas like idolatry by relating them to the fleshly equivalent - adultery). But I don't think we share his free will. We just think we do.
I see your point, but I don't think my choice of "free will" and the moral responsibility that flows from it is an "arbitrary" choice. If we are robots then we are nothing like God at all. The fact that we are finite explains why we are not almighty nor omniscient. But it wouldn't explain why were were not morally responsible because there is no logical inconsistency between free will and our nature as finite beings. That's why theologians consider both "Will" and "Freedom" to be communicable attributes.


Not at all. ;) I approach this stuff with a sense of humor. In a setting like this where people are more theologically, mathematically, and computer sophisticated than me, I come to learn and change by testing all my old dogmas.
Excellent! I am really enjoying learning about your point of view.


shalag, sorry to interrupt your last post.

Don't worry about that ... there's lots of folks in this conversation, so we all just post when we can.

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
08-16-2007, 07:00 PM
Romans 8 28:29 starts out speaking to 'those who love God'. Since God created 'man in His image' - his pupose is for 'those who love Him' to be conformed to his image. From what I am seeing, 'predestination' is speaking to his purpose that man be conformed to His image.
Hey Shalag,

Glad you dropped in! I think your point is of utmost importance. God's election is strongly linked with His Purpose that He is working out in history, which is to conform us to the image of Christ, and ultimately, to "gather together all things in Christ"

(I just noticed that this is the core theme of my last post to David. We are made in the image of God, and we are destined to be conformed to the image of Christ, and that's where the theologians get the idea of the Communicable Attributes, two of which are "WILL" and "FREEDOM. I love it when themes start coming together across a series of posts. Note the consistency of our theology with our creation in God's image in Genesis and our conformation to God's image in Romans.)


It seems in the above verse that He 'foreknew Jesus Christ'-that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. But that he also had a plan for 'those who loved God' - his predestination being his plan in Ephesians 1.

It seems to me the "whom He foreknew" means He foreknew us. I don't see how it could refer to Christ since the pronoun "whom" in Greek is plural, and it applies to those who are going to be conformed to His image.


Ephesians 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself… 11 in HIm also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.

This predestinated plan is open to ALL who love God.There is only ONE way - through His door, Jesus Christ.
That is another extremely important point. It is the plan of God - that we are saved through Christ and will be conformed to His image - that is the thing "predestinated." There is not a list of individuals predestinated to believe.


ALL have free choice to choose to conformed to His image through adoption as sons by Jesus Christ.

This has always been the way - from the beginning.
And thats the point of dispute. The Calvinist says only those whom God decreed to love Him will love Him. No one has any real or meaningful will at all. Every call in the Bible for sinners to repent is a farce - God is calling out to corpses - "O Corpse, come to me and I will give you life!" - and He knows no one will respond because they are all dead. But He calls anyway, and know one knows why, but if you ask they will say "It is one of the mysteries of God."
Free choice appears to be
1. To choose the predestinated plan - salvation through Christ
2. To go your own way - and gratify the lusts of the flesh

I believe God's 'eternal decree' to be believed - is His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Now that's an "eternal decree" that I can believe in!

Thanks shalag, excellent post!

Richard

shalag
08-16-2007, 09:46 PM
Romans 8:29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.This verse gives me pause because of the way the English is worded. i agree the first part appears plural - For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son - but it proceeds with that He -

okay - wait - it makes sense now - when I rethink it - that because He foreknew the nature of man/men (plural) he predestinated them at that time to be conformed to the image of His Son - so that the Son would then be openly shown as firstborn among many brethren - when we consider the end from the beginning. At first it confused me with the plurality and returning to the singular that He - but now it makes perfect sense.


And thats the point of dispute. The Calvinist says only those whom God decreed to love Him will love Him. No one has any real or meaningful will at all. Every call in the Bible for sinners to repent is a farce - God is calling out to corpses - "O Corpse, come to me and I will give you life!" - and He knows no one will respond because they are all dead. But He calls anyway, and know one knows why, but if you ask they will say "It is one of the mysteries of God."You would have to deny the first commandment as true for the above to be true. And the first commandment was to ALL men.


God is calling out to corpses - "O Corpse, come to me and I will give you life!" -Well Richard - -- that does kinda sound like Ezekiel 37 :D

Richard Amiel McGough
08-17-2007, 10:14 AM
This verse gives me pause because of the way the English is worded. i agree the first part appears plural - For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son - but it proceeds with that He -

okay - wait - it makes sense now - when I rethink it - that because He foreknew the nature of man/men (plural) he predestinated them at that time to be conformed to the image of His Son - so that the Son would then be openly shown as firstborn among many brethren - when we consider the end from the beginning. At first it confused me with the plurality and returning to the singular that He - but now it makes perfect sense.
I'm still working on this passage, because I am not comfortable with the idea that "God's foreknowledge" concerned the general "nature of men." It seems to have a more specific and personal sense, as when God said to Jeremiah:


Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.


This is interesting because it has a sequence of "I knew you" then "I sanctified you" and "I ordained you."

It is this personal and specific sense that Calvinists use to argue that only those whom God foreknew and specifically chose "by name" entered into the sequence of Rom 8:29-30 "foreknow ...predestinate ... called ... justified ... glorified." I don't yet have a strong opinion on how to interpret this verse, but I know that we need to address the Calvinist view, since it seems to be the most obvious meaning of the text.



God is calling out to corpses - "O Corpse, come to me and I will give you life!" -
Well Richard - -- that does kinda sound like Ezekiel 37 :D
Touche!

But in truth, we know that God was talking about the corporate body of the "whole house of Israel" and the fact that he would bring back the Jews to the land after the Babylonian exile:


Ezekiel 37:11-12 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.

Of course, I believe there are powerful overtones of resurrection in here. And others think the same passage has a double fulfillment, the first being the return in 536 BC after the Babylonian exile, and the second being the return in 1948 after the 1878 years of the diaspora. I'm still seeking an understanding of the meaning of the modern state of Israel in the plan of God. Its not really as simple as some folks make out. The fact that they deny Christ is no trivial matter. But that grist is being ground in a few other threads, so lets keep it there. I'd like to keep this thread grinding on the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees.

Richard

Geoffrey
08-17-2007, 12:18 PM
Hallo there Richard!


Doh! I forgot that you believed in annihilation of the damned.

Yep.


I think this is a BIG misunderstanding of the Reformed Doctrine

I am not representing Reformed Doctrine.


and the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees.

The words you posted at the beginning of the thread


God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

are what I agree with and not with everything people attach to the label Doctrine of Eternal Decrees.


God most definitely does NOT extend saving mercy to the souls that that He ordained for damnation before they were born. And that's the kind of mercy we are talking about, as you implicitly acknowledged when you suggested that they are damned because they "spurn" God's mercy.

By extended, I mean offered. You must agree that God offers mercy to everyone, but that some reject it.



Proverbs 1:24-26 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;




Hebrews 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;



The Reformed folks typically try to rationalize their doctrine by noting that everyone is equally deserving of hell because "all have sinned." God then chooses to save some for His own purposes

So, you agree that all were deserving of hell. Then what happened from there:



Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.


Many are called to come and receive pardon, but few are chosen to receive it.


- not because of anything they did, and certainly NOT because they did not "spurn" his mercy - and the others He passed over, letting them suffer the consequences of the sin that He directly caused by Eternal Decree. (Of course, they won't admit that last point, and suggest rather that the pot is somehow responsible for being of the form that the Potter gave it!

Why, why why? is it impossible for you to see that your last statement - in bold font - is exactly this:



Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?


"How can I be responsible for what I am?" So, I will answer you like Paul:



Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?



Is that not the most ludicrous absurdity ever suggested by any human philosophy?

It might be foolishness to the world, but it is the power of God unto salvation.


Thanks Geoffrey! That is one of the most direct admissions of the true nature of Calvinism I have ever heard come from one of its adherents. Reformed folks have gone to great lengths to deny the obvious "puppet show" implication of their philosophy.

I am not an adherent of Calvinism. I have never studied it. A few days ago, after reading the terms Calvinism and Armenianism again in a sermon, I could not remember which one was legalist and which one had to do with predestination. The lable that I prefer for the doctrine to which I adhere is Bible or Christian.


So tell me this: How is a soul responsible for committing a sin that the Puppet Master God decreed that it must perform?

The law reads: The wages of sin is death. It does not matter how it was done.


So do you my friend. So do we all!

No, I don't!:nono: My judgement is past. I paid for my sins when I died with Jesus Christ, went to hell with Him and rose with Him from the dead on the third day. Now, I am righteous as God is righteous and holy as God is holy.



2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.


Pure gospel.


But why is your God so stingy with His grace and so generous with His punishment? In an earlier post you asked me to give an example of something that your God does that would be judged as wrong if a human did it. Well, here it is. Any human who had the power to save or damn as he sees fit, and saves some and damns the rest for his own pleasure would be seen as a loveless monster.The Doctrine of Eternal Decrees is fundamentally incompatible with the Doctrine of God's Universal Love for all His Creatures. There is absolutely NO WAY to avoid the implication that God created some people so that He could hate them with an everlasting hatred!

How does the Bible read?



Malachi 1:2-3 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, (3) And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.


Why did God ordain some for damnation? So that those who are saved might realise from what they are saved. This is what Paul said.



Romans 9:22-24 What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: (23) And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, (24) Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?



I know you believe in annihilation, and I will admit that greatly alleviates many of the difficulties with this doctrine. But most folks say annihilationism is heresy! They assert the only Biblical doctrine is the Doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment in Hell, and that, in my eyes, is the apotheosis of hatred! But regardless of your view of the nature of hell, you are commanded to love them that God hates. So your love is greater than God's Love! Is that not ludicrous?

I'm not laughing. Let's look at these verses.



Matthew 5:44-45 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (45) That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.


If we love our enemies we will be like our Father who loved His enemies, right? Who are these enemies that our Father loved? The ones who were sinners for a time, but after their rebirth became His friends.



Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.



:confused: I thought we were saved by Grace through Faith! :confused2: You make it sound like its some huge multi-billion dollar Public Works Project. No hope of getting that done on budget, is there? Maybe you need to re-read the contract. You don't have to supply a dime. Its all been paid for by the Guvner. All you gotta do is reach out and receive. He'll done the rest. Everything. Completely finished by Christ our Lord. Please believe me! You don't have to "work" to "believe" the Gospel!This exemplifies another absolutely astounding error of the Reformed Tradition. They teach that "Faith" is a "Work"! Their doctrines are incoherent with themselves and with the plain teaching of the Bible which explicitly contrasts faith and works!

I did not say we have to do something in order to be saved. I was talking about what faith is. Faith has to do with the mind. If I had to pay my rent tomorrow and I did not have enough money for it, I would think: "Tomorrow night I will sleep on the sidewalk." Then, if somebody told me that he will give me the money the next day in time to pay the rent and I believed him, my thinking would change. I would think: "Tomorrow night I am going to sleep in my bed in my apartment, because my rent will be paid." I will say things that match what I think and my actions will follow automatically. I could even, right then, before having the rent money in my hand, invite someone over for dinner the next evening.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-17-2007, 03:41 PM
Hallo there Richard!

By extended, I mean offered. You must agree that God offers mercy to everyone, but that some reject it.
Hey ho Geoffrey!

I don't think we are understanding each other on this point yet. I'm talking about the mercy that God gives when He ordains a person to salvation. I think it is silly to say that God "offers" mercy to a person if He also ordained that that person would refuse the mercy.




Why, why why? is it impossible for you to see that your last statement - in bold font - is exactly this:

Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
"How can I be responsible for what I am?" So, I will answer you like Paul:


Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?


I'm sorry Geoffrey, but it is my opinion that you have completely misunderstood Paul's answer to the perverse question asked by the impudent sinner. It is almost identical to the perverse question asked by the impudent sinner in Romans 3:


Romans 3:7-8 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? 8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.
So what is the answer to the impudent sinner's perverse question in Romans 3? Does it have anything to do with God "making" the sinner be a sinner? NO! The problem presented there is that the sinner says God can not fault him for sinning because God used his sin for His own purposes. And that is exactly the same meaning that we find in Romans 9.

The error of the impudent sinner in Romans 3 and Romans 9 is that he said "God can't find fault in my sin because He uses it for His own purposes!" THAT is the perversion that Paul is answering when He said that God can do what He wants with the clay. He can use the sinner to accomplish His purposes - He can take the wicked clay and mold it into something useful for His glory without damaging His Righteousness or clearing the sinner of his guilt.

Romans 9 says absolutely nothing about God creating or ordaining people to be sinners.

I already explained this point. You didn't challenge it. I think you better challenge it or I will just keep retyping it!

I look forward to your direct response to this specific argument.

Thanks!

Richard

yinonyavo
08-20-2007, 06:54 AM
A brief history on this subject:

Prior to Augustine's day the time had been largely taken up in correcting heresies within the Church and in refuting attacks from the pagan world in which it found itself. Consequently but little emphasis had been placed on the systematic development of doctrine. And that the doctrine of Predestination received such little attention in this age was no doubt partly due to the tendency to confuse it with the Pagan doctrine of Fatalism which was so prevalent throughout the Roman Empire. But in the fourth century a more settled time had been reached, a new era in theology had dawned, and the theologians came to place more emphasis on the doctrinal content of their message. Augustine was led to develop his doctrines of sin and grace partly through his own personal experience in being converted to Christianity from a worldly life, and partly through the necessity of refuting the teaching of Pelagius, who taught that man in his natural state had full ability to work out his own salvation, that Adam's fall had but little effect on the race except that it set a bad example which is perpetuated, that Christ's life is of value to men mainly by way of example, that in His death Christ was little more than the first Christian martyr, and that we are not under any special providence of God. Against these views Augustine developed the very opposite. He taught that the whole race fell in Adam, that all men by nature are depraved and spiritually dead, that the will is free to sin but not free to do good toward God, that Christ suffered vicariously for His people, that God elects whom He will irrespective of their merits, and that saving grace is efficaciously applied to the elect by the Holy Spirit. He thus became the first true interpreter of Paul and was successful in securing the acceptance of his doctrine by the Church.

Following Augustine there was retrogression rather than progress. Clouds of ignorance blinded the people. The Church became more and more ritualistic and salvation was thought to be through the external Church. The system of merit grew until it reached its climax in the "indulgences." The papacy came to exert great power, political as well as ecclesiastical, and throughout Catholic Europe the state of morals came to be almost intolerable. Even the priesthood became desperately corrupt and in the whole catalogue of human sins and vices none are more corrupt or more offensive than those which soiled the lives of such popes as John XXIII and Alexander VI.

From the time of Augustine until the time of the Reformation very little emphasis was placed on the doctrine of Predestination. We shall mention only two names from this period: Gottschalk, who was imprisoned and condemned for teaching Predestination; and Wycliffe, "The Morning Star of the Reformation," who lived in England. Wycliffe was a reformer of the Calvinistic type, proclaiming the absolute sovereignty of God and the Foreordination of all things. His system of belief was very similar to that which was later taught by Luther and Calvin. The Waldensians also might be mentioned for they were in a sense "Calvinists" before the Reformation, one of their tenets being that of Predestination.

From the time of Calvin to the present those who considered themselves in agreement with Calvin on predestination include: Martin Luther, John Knox, John Bunyan, George Whitfield, J John Gill, John Newton, Charles Spurgeon,
Warfield, Jonathan Edwards, John Owens, Theodore Beza, John MacArthur, J.I.Packer, R.C. Sproll.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-20-2007, 09:42 AM
A brief history on this subject:
Good morning yinonyavo,

Thanks for the info, but in the future, please be sure to include the link where you found it. The way it was presented, I didn't know if it was something you or someone else had written. So i just Googled the first five words and found the source here:

http://reformed-theology.org/html/books/calvinism-history/1.htm


Prior to Augustine's day ....
Yes, the Calvinist doctrine seems to have originated with Augustine. Indeed, some folks call it "Augustinianism." Have you read much of his works? I have a big fat copy of his "City of God" which makes for very interesting reading. There is much that he wrote that I disagree with.


Against these views Augustine developed the very opposite. He taught that the whole race fell in Adam, that all men by nature are depraved and spiritually dead, that the will is free to sin but not free to do good toward God, that Christ suffered vicariously for His people, that God elects whom He will irrespective of their merits, and that saving grace is efficaciously applied to the elect by the Holy Spirit. He thus became the first true interpreter of Paul and was successful in securing the acceptance of his doctrine by the Church.
That is an extreme statement. No one understood Paul until Augustine arose in the Fourth Century after Christ? I don't think so. Have they never heard of his most famous misinterpretation of Paul? Augustine was the only Latin father that was "virtually ignorant of Greek (http://books.google.com/books?id=bJPY1dAZg8cC&pg=PA24&lpg=PA24&dq=augustine+ignorant+of+greek&source=web&ots=tfkC_8xGdW&sig=Eu0El-kdOu4orteRy8UMw_JkxR0)"! You can not have the "first true interpretation" of Paul from someone ignorant of the language in which he wrote! It would be like claiming someone who can't read English was the first true interpretor of Shakespeare. Ludicrous! But it gets worse! The specific heresy that Augustine introduced can be traced directly to the Latin mistranslation of the seminal passage of Romans 5:12:


KJV Romans 5:12 ¶ Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:In the Latin mistranslation that Augustine studied, the last phrase is translated as "in quo omnes peccaverunt" which means "in whom all men sinned." Thus Augustine found justification for his perverse doctrine that every actually sinned when Adam sinned, and that we all have inherited his guilt.

Augustine was anything but the "first true interpreter" of Paul!


Following Augustine there was retrogression rather than progress. Clouds of ignorance blinded the people.
Imagine that! Augustine arrived, and darkness followed.


From the time of Augustine until the time of the Reformation very little emphasis was placed on the doctrine of Predestination. We shall mention only two names from this period: Gottschalk, who was imprisoned and condemned for teaching Predestination; and Wycliffe, "The Morning Star of the Reformation," who lived in England. Wycliffe was a reformer of the Calvinistic type, proclaiming the absolute sovereignty of God and the Foreordination of all things. His system of belief was very similar to that which was later taught by Luther and Calvin. The Waldensians also might be mentioned for they were in a sense "Calvinists" before the Reformation, one of their tenets being that of Predestination.
There it is. The pagan human philosophy of fatalism and determinism masquerading as "Christian Theology." That doctrine is not found in the Bible. There is nothing in Scripture that teaches "the Foreordination of all things".


From the time of Calvin to the present those who considered themselves in agreement with Calvin on predestination include: Martin Luther, John Knox, John Bunyan, George Whitfield, J John Gill, John Newton, Charles Spurgeon,
Warfield, Jonathan Edwards, John Owens, Theodore Beza, John MacArthur, J.I.Packer, R.C. Sproll.

And those that disagree? The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! And that's good enough for me.

:lol:

Richard

yinonyavo
08-20-2007, 10:49 AM
Sorry Richard........I thought I had the link there....my bad.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-20-2007, 10:50 AM
Sorry Richard........I thought I had the link there....my bad.
Dat's ok. I was just reminding you. We don't have a demerit system here ... yet. :lol:

Geoffrey
08-22-2007, 07:09 AM
Gottschalk, who was imprisoned and condemned for teaching Predestination;

That will happen again. That's for sure!

Richard Amiel McGough
08-22-2007, 10:46 AM
That will happen again. That's for sure!
Hey Geoffrey!

What do you think of my interpretation of Romans 9? Too far off the wall to even bother answering? If so, it should be pretty easy to show me the error of my ways, right?

Richard

Geoffrey
08-22-2007, 02:58 PM
Hey Geoffrey!

What do you think of my interpretation of Romans 9? Too far off the wall to even bother answering? If so, it should be pretty easy to show me the error of my ways, right?

Richard

:lol:Very funny, Richard! You're hounding me. We have to take our time discussing Scripture, because we don't want to make mistakes. We want to be sure that what we say is 100 % correct. Romans 9 is very plain and I believe I have already demonstrated your error. Be that as it may, I have been thinking about the answer to your interpretation for many hours and will post soon.

Geoffrey
08-25-2007, 04:32 AM
Hallo Richard.


Hey ho Geoffrey!

I don't think we are understanding each other on this point yet. I'm talking about the mercy that God gives when He ordains a person to salvation. I think it is silly to say that God "offers" mercy to a person if He also ordained that that person would refuse the mercy.

According to the verses that I quoted (Proverbs 1:24-26 and Hebrews 2:3) and many other verses, it is clear that God does offer mercy to everyone and that many reject His offer. Surely, you agree with that. Since God knows everything before it happens and, therefore, knew that they would reject His offer before He made it, do you also think that silly? You should not; in which case, you only disagree that God ordained them to reject His offer, right?



Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.


Some men are ordained to condemnation; in other words, all things necessary to bring about their condemnation were placed in order by God. How can they be condemned without them first rejecting the offer of salvation? Therefore, their rejection of salvation is ordained by God.


I'm sorry Geoffrey, but it is my opinion that you have completely misunderstood Paul's answer to the perverse question asked by the impudent sinner. It is almost identical to the perverse question asked by the impudent sinner in Romans 3:

So what is the answer to the impudent sinner's perverse question in Romans 3? Does it have anything to do with God "making" the sinner be a sinner? NO! The problem presented there is that the sinner says God can not fault him for sinning because God used his sin for His own purposes. And that is exactly the same meaning that we find in Romans 9.

Romans 3:7-8 does not mention ordination to condemnation, but Romans 9 does.


The error of the impudent sinner in Romans 3 and Romans 9 is that he said "God can't find fault in my sin because He uses it for His own purposes!" THAT is the perversion that Paul is answering when He said that God can do what He wants with the clay. He can use the sinner to accomplish His purposes - He can take the wicked clay and mold it into something useful for His glory without damaging His Righteousness or clearing the sinner of his guilt.

Now, I see you perverting the Scriptures (not intentionally, I'm sure). Did Paul write that God moulds the wicked clay into something useful? No, he did not. You seem to think that the clay represents bad events or situations that God can use to His advantage. Not so. The clay represents the substances of our flesh and spirit. The clay is not wicked in itself. It is the shape into which the clay is moulded that is good or evil. God is the Potter, He does the shaping. Paul wrote that God, from the same lump, makes vessels (men and women) for honour - that is salvation - and vessels for dishonour - that is condemnation. Again, look at this question:



Why hast thou made me thus?


thus. Like this. Why did you make me to be what I am, a vessel of dishonour, a sinner? That is the question being asked, Richard! He is not complaining about his wrongdoings being used by God for His glory, but about his being formed in a certain way.



Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.


Therefore, if I am saved, it is because God wanted to save me, but, if I am condemned, it is because God did not want to save me, but gave me, instead, a heart of stone that I might reject His call.

In response to verse 18:



Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?


For who hath resisted His will? For means because in this case.The question: "Why doth He yet find fault?" is asked, because nobody has resisted His will. What is His will? It is His will that some harden their hearts and reject His salvation. That is why the question was asked, Richard!

Geoffrey
08-25-2007, 08:24 AM
OK - Its good to understand your take on this question. I disagree on two fundamental points:

1) I believe that the mechanistic/deterministic world view is false. The universe not like a big machine that God can front-load with a bunch of initial conditions that then determines the outcome of every event.

2) You have entirely misunderstood Romans 9. The sinner was perverting Paul's doctrine and trying to subvert it by his flippant question. Paul had just finished teaching that God can use our freely chosen sin to accomplish His purposes. The sinner comes back with a flippant answer and says "So why does He find fault? I'm accomplishing His Purpose with my sin! Woohoo! Let's sin more!" This is essentially identical to the perverse argument of a previous hypothetical sinner that Paul challenged in Rom 3:7-8:

See that? Its exactly the same sort of question the wicked sinner asked in Romans 9. This explains Paul's response "Who are you to talk back to God?" It is the sort of answer I would give my impudent son if he talked back to me. Then Paul uses the Pot and Potter quote to explain that God can do what He wants with His creatures. If His creatures sin, He can use their sin to His advantage with no damage to His righteousness.

I have addressed the difference between Romans 3 and Romans 9 here (http://www.biblewheel.com/forum/showthread.php?p=2111#post2111).


I think the "father-son" view is a much needed correction to the potter-clay metaphor which tends towards a dehumanization of the "pot." I also believe that it is the interpretation that Paul had in mind when he quoted (or alluded to) Isaiah 45:9

In the OT source that Paul intended us to use as an explanatory text, we find the "father-son" relationship. This completely changes the complexion of Rom 9:19-20 because a son is not an object "made" by the father like a potter makes a pot. The son is a living being that bears the image and reflects the personality of his father. This coheres with overall teaching of Scripture that we are the living children of God much more than the relatively rare metaphor that we are dead earthen pots that have no will of their own.

Can the son help bearing the image and reflecting the personality of his father? No. The son is the seed of his father and every seed brings forth after its kind. An apple seed brings forth a tree that bears apples which contain the apple seeds. So, the son cannot be anything other than what his father is. Children do not choose their parents; therefore, they do not choose their natures. Parents do not choose their children. They have to be satisfied with whatever they bring forth. What they bring forth is determined by what they (the parents) are.

The sons of God cannot do anything, but confess their sins and accept the salvation in the way God intended. The sons of the devil cannot do anything, but reject salvation or claim salvation in a way not intended by God. When God chooses us, He does so because we (our souls) came forth from Him. The wicked came forth from the devil. There is simply nothing in them that allows them to humble themselves before God; instead, they rebel against God, because that is what their father did. The devil was made in such a way that he would exalt himself against God.

Here is what Jesus said to the serpent's seed.



John 8:41-45
(41) You do the works of your father. They said to Him, We were not born of fornication; we have one father, God.
(42) Then Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I went forth and have come from God. For I have not come from Myself, but that One sent Me.
(43) Why do you not know My speech? It is because you are not able to hear My Word.
(44) You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you desire to do. That one was a murderer from the beginning, and he has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, because he is a liar, and the father of it.
(45) And because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.


Jesus said that they are not able to understand or believe His Word. And why did He say that they could not? Because of who their father is. The blueprint of the son proceeds from the loins of the father. The son is then shaped in the womb of the mother according to that blueprint. The vessels of dishonour are thus formed, unable to believe, unable to understand, predestinated to destruction.


And this is the fundamental problem with the Calvinist argument. They have taken the metaphor of the pot way too literally because it fits their doctrine that all humans - whether saved or not - are "dead" things that have no will of their own. But I say that we are real moral agents with real free wills because we are made in the image of our Heavenly Father.

Talk more soon,

Richard

As Jesus said, not everyone is a child of God and our wills or desires depend upon who our father is.

Rose
08-25-2007, 10:15 AM
Hello Geoffrey :yo:
Thought I'd jump in and add a few of my own thoughts to this very interesting subject!


Did Paul write that God moulds the wicked clay into something useful? No, he did not. You seem to think that the clay represents bad events or situations that God can use to His advantage. Not so. The clay represents the substances of our flesh and spirit. The clay is not wicked in itself. It is the shape into which the clay is moulded that is good or evil. God is the Potter, He does the shaping. Paul wrote that God, from the same lump, makes vessels (men and women) for honour - that is salvation - and vessels for dishonour - that is condemnation. Again, look at this question:

Quote:
Why hast thou made me thus?
thus. Like this. Why did you make me to be what I am, a vessel of dishonour, a sinner? That is the question being asked, Richard! He is not complaining about his wrongdoings being used by God for His glory, but about his being formed in a certain way.

Quote:
Romans 9:18 Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Therefore, if I am saved, it is because God wanted to save me, but, if I am condemned, it is because God did not want to save me, but gave me, instead, a heart of stone that I might reject His call.

In response to verse 18:

Quote:
Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
For who hath resisted His will? For means because in this case.The question: "Why doth He yet find fault?" is asked, because nobody has resisted His will. What is His will? It is His will that some harden their hearts and reject His salvation. That is why the question was asked, Richard!

My understanding of Rom 9:21 "...from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor" is...
out of the same lump of clay God does make us all....that is why the sinner is saying "why hast thou made me thus"...and because some of the vessels use their free will to do evil...God chooses to harden their evil hearts, and use them for His Glory!

I do not see anywhere where it says God created the vessel with a heart of stone...but rather uses the vessel that has the heart of stone.... then with much longsuffering, He prepares them, so that: God may make His power known!

And who can resist His will?
No one of course!

I must hold to the fundamental idea that God created us in His image.
What does that mean?

I think it means that God gave each of us the free will to create our own thoughts, then God foreknowing what those thoughts would be, ordained our purpose and uses us to show forth His power and Glory!

Rom 9:18 "He will have mercy upon whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens"

All being done for the Glory of God!

Rose

shalag
08-25-2007, 11:28 AM
If we believe that first and foremost that God is LOVE then we know that God would not 'ordain' anyone for evil.
1Corinthians 13 5 (http://www.searchgodsword.org/desk/?query=1co+13:5&sr=1&t=nkj) does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 (http://www.searchgodsword.org/desk/?query=1co+13:6&sr=1&t=nkj)does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; God gave man a free will to choose. If his heart is set on evil - then God - or even we - can see the beginning from end. The evil road is self-destructing, destroying anything/anyone who gets in its way.

When the clay says to the potter, "Why did you make me thus?" it was not that he was made evil, but that he was made with a choice. Evil dresses attractively - -its a hard choice, but it's one God wants us to make. And being WHO He is - God uses everything to the good - even the hardened of hearts end up serving His purpose - not by design - but by choice.

Richard Amiel McGough
08-25-2007, 07:35 PM
Hallo Richard.

According to the verses that I quoted (Proverbs 1:24-26 and Hebrews 2:3) and many other verses, it is clear that God does offer mercy to everyone and that many reject His offer. Surely, you agree with that.
Hallo Geoffrey,

Yes indeed, I agree that God offers mercy and that it is rejected by many.


Since God knows everything before it happens and, therefore, knew that they would reject His offer before He made it, do you also think that silly?
I do not think it is silly at all, but I also do not believe that God's foreknowledge logically implies that He "ordained whatsoever comes to pass." It is that confusion of human philosophy with the teachings of the Bible that leads to something far darker than mere "silliness" - it leads to the doctrine that God is the Author of Sin.


You should not; in which case, you only disagree that God ordained them to reject His offer, right?
Exactly correct.




Jude 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [krima = judgment], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Some men are ordained to condemnation; in other words, all things necessary to bring about their condemnation were placed in order by God. How can they be condemned without them first rejecting the offer of salvation? Therefore, their rejection of salvation is ordained by God.
You have introduced a number of problems here. First, Jude 1:4 does not say that God ordained the sin committed by the false teachers. It says that God ordained the judgment that He would inflict on them because of the sins they committed. There is a world of difference here - it is perfectly just for God to judge sinners, whereas it is not only unjust for God to ordain that they sin, but it is contrary to His nature, for God does not even tempt any man to sin, let alone ordain that they do so!

Second, you have misunderstood the word translated as "ordained" here. The actual Greek word is simply "pro-grapho" which literally means to grapho (write) before (pro). It is Strong's #4237



προγραφω prographo {prog-raf'-o} from 4253 and 1125; TDNT - 1:770,128; v AV - write 1, write aforetime 1, write afore 1, evidently set forth 1, before ordain 1; 5 1) to write before (of time) 1a) of old set forth or designated before hand (in the scriptures of the OT) 2) to depict or portray openly 2a) to write before the eyes of all who can read 2b) to depict, portray, paint, before the eyes


Note that only one of its five occurrences - the one under discussion - is translated as "ordained." Your interpretation is only one of many possibilities, and not even the most likely, according to Baukham's commentary in the Word Biblical Commentary. He listed the three primary views that have held currency amongst Christian scholars, and describes the "predestinarian idea" as "rather different and less common" (see italics below, and note that its support comes from the apocryphal book of Enoch):



(1) The false teachers and their condemnation have been recorded in the heavenly books (Clement of Alexandria, Windisch, Kelly). (This idea can incorporate the meaning 'proscribed' for προγεγραμμένοι.) Many of the Jewish texts usually cited in this connection are not relevant, since the idea they employ is that the sins of the wicked are recorded at the time when they are committed, so that they can be brought in evidence at the last judgment (Rev 20:12; 2 Apoc. Bar. 24:1; 1 Enoch 89:61–71; 98:7; 104:7). Rather different and less common is the predestinarian idea that the condemnation of the wicked is already set down in the heavenly books, before they sin (1 Enoch 108:7—an appendix to 1 Enoch which Jude is unlikely to have known). This idea really belongs to the deterministic notion of the heavenly tablets of destiny, on which the whole of history is set down in advance (1 Enoch 81:12; 93:1, 3; 103:2; 106:19; T. Asher 7:5). Jude could have taken up this idea of the heavenly tablets of destiny from 1 Enoch, but how did he know what was written on them? Had he been granted a special revelation of their contents, like Enoch (1 Enoch 81:1–2)? The only plausible reply to this is that Jude applied to the false teachers the prophecies of judgment on the wicked which he found in 1 Enoch, where they allegedly derived from Enoch’s reading of the heavenly tablets. But in that case it is much simpler to suppose that προγεγραμμένοι refers directly to the prophecies of Enoch, rather than to the heavenly books (see interpretation (3) below).

(2) The false teachers and their condemnation have been prophesied in an apostolic prophecy, either 2 Pet 2:1–3:4 (Zahn, Introduction, 249–52), or other prophecies such as the one Jude quotes in vv 17–18 (cf. Acts 20:29–30; 1 Tim 4:1–3; 2 Tim 3:13). Zahn’s case depends on his interpretation of τοῦτο τὸ κρίμα ('this condemnation') as referring back to παρεισεδύησαν ('infiltrated'), so that the prophecy is about the infiltration of the false teachers in the particular church(es) to which Jude writes. This is unlikely (see below), but without it we need a written apostolic prophecy of the condemnation of the false teachers, which neither Jude’s quotation (v 18) nor any other extant apostolic prophecies, except 2 Peter, seem to supply. This view therefore really depends on the priority of 2 Peter.

(3) The false teachers and their condemnation have been prophesied in pre-Christian prophecy, either in the form of the OT types of vv 5–7, 11 (Maier, BZ 2 [1904] 384–91; Grundmann) or in the book of Enoch (Mayor, Chaine, Cantinat). This interpretation gives full weight to πάλαι, 'long ago,' and can make better sense of τοῦτο τὸ κρίμα ('this condemnation') than (1) or (2) can (see below).


The deterministic paradigm is a human philosophy that is not explicitly (or even implicitly, in my opinion) taught in the Bible. It is a possible, though rather unlikely, interpretation of Jude 1:4. This verse, therefore, can not be used as a "proof text" for the doctrine that "God ordained men to sin." It may be compatable with that doctrine (as it is with others), but is certainly does not prove it.


Now, I see you perverting the Scriptures (not intentionally, I'm sure). Did Paul write that God moulds the wicked clay into something useful? No, he did not.
What? :eek: That is exactly what the text says! God molds the clay to accomplish His Purpose! He talked about vessels with of a variety of uses. This is a classic Pauline metaphor. Compare these verses:



Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

2 Timothy 2:20-21 20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.

The words honour and dishonour are identical in both passages. Note that the vessels are made for the master's use. Note also that the verse speaks of a man who will "purge himself" - this is the opposite of God "ordaining people to sin."



You seem to think that the clay represents bad events or situations that God can use to His advantage. Not so.
No, that's not what I think. In Jeremiah 18:6, the "clay" is "the house of Israel" and in general it is represents the people God is working with.

Looking to the example of Pharaoh in Romans 9, we do not see that God "designed" or "ordained" Pharaoh to be a sinner. He didn't need to. Pharaoh was already a sinner. God used that sinner to accomplish His purposes, just as a potter molds clay. When the sinner began to weaken under God's heavy judgment, God strengthened him so that he wouldn't just crumple. That's all the text says on this point.


The clay represents the substances of our flesh and spirit. The clay is not wicked in itself. It is the shape into which the clay is moulded that is good or evil. God is the Potter, He does the shaping. Paul wrote that God, from the same lump, makes vessels (men and women) for honour - that is salvation - and vessels for dishonour - that is condemnation.
Again, you are forcing the metaphor beyond what Paul intended. The potter/clay metaphor is not intended as a complete picture of the relation between God and the people He created. Isn't that obvious? Clay can not talk back, or sin, or do anything at all. To suggest that we are exactly like dead clay is a gross absurdity that obviously is not the intent of God's infinitely intelligent Word.



thus. Like this. Why did you make me to be what I am, a vessel of dishonour, a sinner? That is the question being asked, Richard!
No, it is NOT the "question" being asked. In fact, Paul's responses shows that there was no legitimate question being asked at all. It was an impudent attempt of a sinner to justify his sin, just like in Romans 3. The extremely strong parallel between those two chapters argues forcefully that in Romans 9 Paul was re-presenting and "fleshing out" the same ideas as in Romans 3. Consider these verses:

Both Romans 3 and 9 begin with Paul stating the priviledges of the Jews:


Romans 3:1-2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.

Romans 9:4-5 4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; 5 Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.

Then, in both Romans 3 and 9 Paul segues into the question about how the Jewish unbelief relates to the faithfulness of God's Word:


Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

Romans 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:

Then in both Romans 3 and 9 Paul asks if there is "unrighteousness" in God:



Romans 3:5 But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man)

Romans 9:14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid.

Then in both Romans 3 and 9 Paul introduces a hypothetical objection:



Romans 3:7-87 For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner? 8 And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just.

Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?


The common sequence of Romans 3 and 9 is impossible to miss. It would be utter folly to try to interpret Romans 9 without reference to Romans 3. Paul did NOT "answer" the "question" posed in Romans 9:19. He rebuked the impudent questioner just as he did in Romans 3. Then he continued the argument he had been presenting. Namely, that God can guide and direct our destinies like a potter molds and directs the clay. The sinner can not claim that God is unjust because He used the sinner to accomplish His purposes. That is the obvious and uncontested meaning of Romans 3, correct? I assert the same meaning applies to Romans 9. And the only way you can prove me wrong is to prove that Romans 9 teaches that God ordained all the properties of the clay, including its every "sin." But that's not in the text, is it? Of course not. The idea that God ordained sin was imported into Romans 9, not found there in the text.



He is not complaining about his wrongdoings being used by God for His glory, but about his being formed in a certain way.
He is complaining about God judging him. In Romans 3 he based his complaint on the fact that his sin gave God glory. A similar purpose is stated in Romans 9:


Romans 9:22-23 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

In Romans 3, the sinner tried to use the excuse "God can't judge me, because He used my sin for His glory!"

In Romans 9, the sinner tried to use the excuse: "God can't judge me, because He used me, like a potter with clay, to accomplish His purpose! For who has resisted His will?"

I grant that the question lends itself to your interpretation if you come to the text with a belief in the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. But if, on the other hand, you come to the text knowing that there is no Biblical support for Doctrine of Eternal Decrees, and that the Doctrine is actually contrary to the overall thrust of Scripture, and that Romans 9 continues the theme of Romans 3, then you may see things a little differently.


Therefore, if I am saved, it is because God wanted to save me, but, if I am condemned, it is because God did not want to save me, but gave me, instead, a heart of stone that I might reject His call.
Yes, that is the consequence of the Doctrine of Eternal Decrees. But I do not believe it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


For who hath resisted His will? For means because in this case.The question: "Why doth He yet find fault?" is asked, because nobody has resisted His will. What is His will? It is His will that some harden their hearts and reject His salvation. That is why the question was asked, Richard!
There you go! Using the sinners excuse to justify his sin. Why does God find fault? He can't fault me because I couldn't resist His will!

Get it? In both Romans 3 and 9 the sinner says "God can't judge me!" Different excuses, but the same attempt to use Paul's teaching of the Gospel to justify sin.

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
11-10-2007, 02:49 PM
Denny pointed me to this article (http://www.the-highway.com/decrees.html) by Arthur Pink. I will answer from the beginning:




http://www.the-highway.com/decrees.gif
Arthur W. Pink


http://www.the-highway.com/decreebar.jpg

THE DECREE OF GOD is His purpose or determination with respect to future things. We have used the singular number as Scripture does (Rom 8:28; Eph 3:11), because there was only one act of His infinite mind about future things. But we speak as if there had been many, because our minds are only capable of thinking of successive revolutions, as thoughts and occasions arise, or in reference to the various objects of His decree, which being many seem to us to require a distinct purpose for each one. But an infinite understanding does not proceed by steps, from one stage to another: “Known unto God are all His works, from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18).

From the beginning we see the intrusion of philosophical speculations that go well beyond anything truly known by mortals or taught in the Bible. No one has any basis to confidently assert that "there was only one act of His infinite mind about future things." How would we determine the truth or falsehood of that assertion? Paul declared "how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Rom 11:33). Who are we to make pronouncements about the inner workings of God's "infinite mind"? It is true, of course, that God knows all His works "from the beginning of the world." But we mortals can not plumb the depths of that knowledge, nor declare its inner workings for the thoughts of God are far above our thoughts, as the heavens are above the earth. (Isa 55:8). Indeed, "no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end" (Ecc 3:11)


The Scriptures make mention of the decrees of God in many passages, and under a variety of terms. The word “decree” is found in Psalm 2:7, etc. In Ephesians 3:11 we read of His “eternal purpose.” In Acts 2:23 of His “determinate counsel and foreknowledge.” In Ephesians 1:9 of the mystery of His “will.” In Romans 8:29 that He also did “predestinate.” In Ephesians 1:9 of His “good pleasure.” God’s decrees are called His “counsel” to signify they are consummately wise. They are called God’s “will” to show He was under no control, but acted according to His own pleasure. When a man’s will is the rule of his conduct, it is usually capricious and unreasonable; but wisdom is always associated with “will” in the Divine proceedings, and accordingly, God’s decrees are said to be “the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1:11).

The decrees of God relate to all future things without exception: whatever is done in time was foreordained before time began. God’s purpose was concerned with everything, whether great or small, whether good or evil, although with reference to the latter we must be careful to state that while God is the Orderer and Controller of sin, He is not the Author of it in the same way that He is the Author of Good. Sin could not proceed from a holy God by positive and direct creation, but only by decretive permission and negative action. God’s decree is as comprehensive as His government, extending to all creatures and all events. It was concerned about our life and death; about our state in time, and our state in eternity. As God works all things after the counsel of His own will, we learn from His works what His counsel is (was), as we judge of an architect’s plan by inspecting the building which was erected under his directions.



Pink is correct that there are many passages that speak of particular and specific decrees of God, but he errs by assuming without proof that any of these decrees refer to his idea of the "eternal decrees" that "relate to all future things without exception." He found but one verse to support his assertion that "whatever is done in time was foreordained before time began." But that verse does not say what he wants it to say. It says that God "works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph 1.11). Pink italicized the word all and implicitly assumed that "works" meant "ordains." This passage does not say that God "ordains" all things, but that he "works" them. The distinction is proven by noting that Paul used exactly the same word with the same voice, mood, and tense later in the same book to describe how the devil "works" in the sons of disobedience:
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: The devil has no power to "ordain" anything. He works in the children of disobedience by exercising his evil influence, just as God works in all things by exercising His good, holy, and wise influence. There is nothing in this passage to prove that "whatever is done in time was foreordained before time began."


God did not merely decree to make man, place him upon the earth, and then leave him to his own uncontrolled guidance; instead, He fixed all the circumstances in the lot of individuals, and all the particulars which will comprise the history of the human race from its commencement to its close. He did not merely decree that general laws should be established for the government of the world, but He settled the application of those laws to all particular cases. Our days are numbered, and so are the hairs of our heads. We may learn what is the extent of the Divine decrees from the dispensations of providence, in which they are executed. The care of Providence reaches to the most insignificant creatures, and the most minute events—the death of a sparrow, and the fall of a hair.

Pink is correct that the "care of Providence reaches to the most insignificant creatures, and the most minute events—the death of a sparrow, and the fall of a hair." He also is correct that the hairs of our head are numbered. But God's care and knowledge of every detail of creation does not imply that He foreordained everything that happens. That conclusion is entirely philosophical in nature, and is not proven by any verse of Scripture.

Pink's fundamental error is his belief in the philosophical doctrine that God's sovereignty logically necessitates that He foreordained all things.

Richard

Trumpet
11-10-2007, 04:27 PM
"Ya know,
I spent some time once, looking into some of the relationships between the Resurrection and the theory of relativity.

In that theory, it is said that a body can only surpass the speed of light if it has an infinite supply of energy, because as the body gets closer and closer to that speed, the energy needed to push it faster goes up geometrically. (I'm no scientist, so bear with me!) As you approach the speed of light, time slows and eventually stops. Your mass increases until it reaches infinity at the speed of light. ( Hence, an infinite power supply to push this mass to this speed.)

I noticed that after the Resurrection, Jesus could pass through walls, yet to Thomas he was solid as a rock! We know that in Heaven time ceases. So it seemed a simple deduction to me, that God (infinite power supply) raised Jesus to the speed of light. ( His molecular structure is vastly different from ours, and somehow He can change His structure to pass through a wall. His speed is something we don't understand because He could travel to heaven [wherever, whatever, or of what dimension I don't know], and back, and perhaps seem to be in more than one place at a time.) Nonetheless, without being blasphemous (which I know some might think it is, to try to figure out the make-up of God), the most pointed thing was the cessation of time.

During that time I was given a vision. In the vision I saw a large empty space , like outer space, but without stars. In the center was a large golden ring, and in the center of the ring was the number 7000 also of gold. Outside the circle were 3 beings, (I couldn't see much detail, almost like 3 bright balls) equidistant around the circle. ( I was impressed that these were The Father, Son, And Holy Spirit). I noticed that inside the circle was time, and outside there was not. Then I realized that God, not being "in time" can look into time, and see the beginning from the end, or the end from the beginning. There was no need for Him to control things inside the circle, but He could intervene if necessary, and from beginning to end, He could see all that was taking place simultaneously from the beginning of time, to the end.

Take it with a grain of salt.

God Bless - Don

Denny
11-11-2007, 07:04 AM
Denny pointed me to this article (http://www.the-highway.com/decrees.html) by Arthur Pink. I will answer from the beginning:



From the beginning we see the intrusion of philosophical speculations that go well beyond anything truly known by mortals or taught in the Bible. No one has any basis to confidently assert that "there was only one act of His infinite mind about future things." How would we determine the truth or falsehood of that assertion? Paul declared "how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Rom 11:33). Who are we to make pronouncements about the inner workings of God's "infinite mind"? It is true, of course, that God knows all His works "from the beginning of the world." But we mortals can not plumb the depths of that knowledge, nor declare its inner workings for the thoughts of God are far above our thoughts, as the heavens are above the earth. (Isa 55:8). Indeed, "no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end" (Ecc 3:11)





Pink is correct that there are many passages that speak of particular and specific decrees of God, but he errs by assuming without proof that any of these decrees refer to his idea of the "eternal decrees" that "relate to all future things without exception." He found but one verse to support his assertion that "whatever is done in time was foreordained before time began." But that verse does not say what he wants it to say. It says that God "works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph 1.11). Pink italicized the word all and implicitly assumed that "works" meant "ordains." This passage does not say that God "ordains" all things, but that he "works" them. The distinction is proven by noting that Paul used exactly the same word with the same voice, mood, and tense later in the same book to describe how the devil "works" in the sons of disobedience:
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: The devil has no power to "ordain" anything. He works in the children of disobedience by exercising his evil influence, just as God works in all things by exercising His good, holy, and wise influence. There is nothing in this passage to prove that "whatever is done in time was foreordained before time began."



Pink is correct that the "care of Providence reaches to the most insignificant creatures, and the most minute events—the death of a sparrow, and the fall of a hair." He also is correct that the hairs of our head are numbered. But God's care and knowledge of every detail of creation does not imply that He foreordained everything that happens. That conclusion is entirely philosophical in nature, and is not proven by any verse of Scripture.

Pink's fundamental error is his belief in the philosophical doctrine that God's sovereignty logically necessitates that He foreordained all things.

Richard

Richard,

You've got me in a very uncomfortable place (as the words of God sometimes if not often do).

Possibly some here do not know that A.W. Pink is somewhat of a "theological saint" of the Reformed. Pursuing your logic here and elsewhere, led me to Pink's book on the sovereignty of God and in a couple of places in appendix 2, I found these words:


Once more, it needs to be carefully borne in mind that God did not decree that Adam should sin and then inject into Adam an inclination to evil, in order that His decree might be carried out. No; "God cannot be tempted, neither tempteth He any man" (James 1:13). Instead, when the Serpent came to tempt Eve, God caused her to remember His command forbidding to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and of the penalty attached to disobedience! Thus, though God had decreed the Fall, in no sense was He the Author of Adam’s sin, and at no point was Adam’s responsibility impaired. Thus may we admire and adore the "manifold wisdom of God", in devising a way whereby His eternal decree should be accomplished, and yet the responsibility of His creatures be preserved intact

Then, in another place in the same appendix, Pink says this:


To affirm that God decreed the entrance of sin into His universe, and that He foreordained all its fruits and activities, is to say that which, at first may shock the reader; but reflection should show that it is far more shocking to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will, and that its exercise is outside His jurisdiction: for in such a case where would be His omnipotency? No; to recognize that God has foreordained all the activities of evil, is to see that He is the Governor of sin: His will determines its exercise, His power regulates its bounds (Ps. 76:10). He is neither the Inspirer nor the Infuser of sin in any of His creatures, but He is its Master, by which we mean God’s management of the wicked is so entire that, they can do nothing save that which His hand and counsel, from everlasting, determined should be done.

Please note Pink's affirmation that if God were to infuse depravity into any of His creatures God, then, would be legally responsible and accountable for their sins.

You have forced me to ask this question of myself: If the Reformed rightfully and Biblically use the doctrine of the Imputed (credited) Righteousness of Christ Alone to slay the dragon of of infused righteousness, then, how may they, without even a smile, use the doctrine of imputed sin and death to give life to the dragon of infused depravity or of a "sinful nature"????

I've been here in this uncomfortable position many times before, and I know very well that even though I haven't thought this all out, the fundamental implications of this idea, if true, has immense application for change of my personal theology.

Please pray for me.

Denny

Romans 3:22-24

Richard Amiel McGough
11-11-2007, 03:49 PM
I've been here in this uncomfortable position many times before, and I know very well that even though I haven't thought this all out, the fundamental implications of this idea, if true, has immense application for change of my personal theology.

Please pray for me.

Denny

Romans 3:22-24
Hey there Denny,



It is great to see you willing to wrestle with God and His Word - that's why God made Jacob a "prince of God":
Genesis 32:28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

I do pray to our faithful God that he will grip our hearts and guide our minds into all the truth of His Holy Word, as He promised He would do:
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. Now as for the challenges you encounter as you attempt to understanding Pink's writings --- saint or not, he was just a man, and I personally think that his philosophy about God's sovereignty is not founded in Scripture and leads to irreconcilable logical contradictions. This is not to be confused with the doctrine of the Trinity which is a true mystery of the Faith. Though the Trinity can not be fully explicated in human language, it does NOT lead to demonstrable logical contradictions. If it did, it would necessarily be false or meaningless.

The root of Pink's error is highlighted red in this quote that you provided:


To affirm that God decreed the entrance of sin into His universe, and that He foreordained all its fruits and activities, is to say that which, at first may shock the reader; but reflection should show that it is far more shocking to insist that sin has invaded His dominions against His will, and that its exercise is outside His jurisdiction: for in such a case where would be His omnipotency? No; to recognize that God has foreordained all the activities of evil, is to see that He is the Governor of sin:

There is nothing "shocking" in the idea that God created free creatures with full knowledge of the consequent sin. The fact that freedom allowed sin to enter the world does not mean that it "has invaded His dominions against His will." By definition, when God willed that there be free moral agents made in His Image, that same will carried within itself the implication that He did not ordain the morally culpable actions of His creatures. If He did ordain them, then He bears ultimate responsibility. If we deny this simple logic, then we deny the definitions of our words and our theology has descended into rank absurdity.

This logical contradiction is generated by the erroneous Calvinistic definition of God's sovereignty as meaning that He "ordained whatsoever comes to pass." This is not a biblical definition of sovereignty, and this philosophical idea is not taught in Scripture. Indeed, it seems to me that this philosophical definition of God's Sovereignty is contrary to many other clear teachings of the Bible, such as our genuine moral responsibility.

Both theology and philosophy depend on valid definitions. Let us begin with Websters:



Function: noun Inflected Form(s): plural sov·er·eign·ties Etymology: Middle English soverainte, from Anglo-French sovereinté, from soverein
Date: 14th century
1 obsolete : supreme excellence or an example of it
2 a: supreme power especially over a body politic b: freedom from external control : autonomy (http://m-w.com/dictionary/autonomy) c: controlling influence
3: one that is sovereign (http://m-w.com/dictionary/sovereign); especially : an autonomous state


OK - If we apply this to God, we see that He is the supreme power. No problem there, right? This definition is the Biblical definition we find in typical Bible dictionaries like Easton's:



Sovereignty — of God, his absolute right to do all things according to his own good pleasure (Dan. 4:25, 35; Rom. 9:15–23; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 4:11). Easton, M. (1996, c1897). Easton's Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.


So there it is. The Biblical definition of God's Sovereignty is that He is absolutely free. This is the essence of His Name "I AM WHAT I AM" or better, "I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE."

This is the great irony of the Calvinistic definition of God's Sovereignty: it denies God the freedom to create genuinely free creatures on the pretext that such would violate our concept of His freedom!

Let that sink in a bit.

Again, you have my prayers that God will keep your spirit in the perfect peace of His Son as your mind wrestles with the truth taught in His Holy Word. (Please pray for me too, bro!)

Richard

joel
11-12-2007, 05:36 AM
So there it is. The Biblical definition of God's Sovereignty is that He is absolutely free. This is the essence of His Name "I AM WHAT I AM" or better, "I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE."

This is the great irony of the Calvinistic definition of God's Sovereignty: it denies God the freedom to create genuinely free creatures on the pretext that such would violate our concept of His freedom!

Let that sink in a bit.


"Genuinely free creatures" is a phrase that we should also think about.

God places all of His creation where He chooses. In that respect, we humans have no choice at all in respect to coming into the world. He has placed us in the family, in the country, in the circumstances, and at the time He has chosen for us.

When placed, the one, so placed, is subject to the "laws" of that environment and system. Just as the stars in the sky, being placed in the solar system where He chooses, are subject to the laws of gravity and physics.

Adam and Eve, placed within the garden, were subject to the "laws" of that system. They could freely eat whatever they wanted and such freedom would allow them to be sustained in that environment. There was, however, one major caveat; their freedom was restricted in the prohibition to eat of the fruit of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said that if they did of it, death would result.

Now, we know that death was part of all that was created(Romans 8:38-39). Death, however, at that time, had no expression, or authority within the system where they were placed. If they ate of the fruit that was forbidden, however, death would enter the system, and, enter them as well as they would begin to die.
They would be subject to the consequences of death as long as death remained over them.

In that light, the "genuine freedom" is subject to death's dominion over man.

We also know that what happened within the garden somehow changed the jurisdictional reality within creation's system in at least two major ways;
1.) the creation is subjected to vanity and is awaiting its release (Romans 8:20-21).
2.) the chief of the jurisdiction of the air is working an influence in the system that directly effects the behavior of humanity (Ephesians 2:3).

Did God know all this beforehand? Of course He did.
Did God plan all of this beforehand? Of course He did.

Did Jesus consent to be placed within the system, and be subject to it? Of course He did.
Did Jesus overcome it all, and will He bring it all back to the Father "without spot or wrinkle"? Of course He will.

Joel

Richard Amiel McGough
11-12-2007, 11:30 AM
"Genuinely free creatures" is a phrase that we should also think about.

God places all of His creation where He chooses. In that respect, we humans have no choice at all in respect to coming into the world. He has placed us in the family, in the country, in the circumstances, and at the time He has chosen for us.

When placed, the one, so placed, is subject to the "laws" of that environment and system. Just as the stars in the sky, being placed in the solar system where He chooses, are subject to the laws of gravity and physics.

Adam and Eve, placed within the garden, were subject to the "laws" of that system. They could freely eat whatever they wanted and such freedom would allow them to be sustained in that environment. There was, however, one major caveat; their freedom was restricted in the prohibition to eat of the fruit of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said that if they did of it, death would result.

Now, we know that death was part of all that was created(Romans 8:38-39). Death, however, at that time, had no expression, or authority within the system where they were placed. If they ate of the fruit that was forbidden, however, death would enter the system, and, enter them as well as they would begin to die.
They would be subject to the consequences of death as long as death remained over them.

In that light, the "genuine freedom" is subject to death's dominion over man.

We also know that what happened within the garden somehow changed the jurisdictional reality within creation's system in at least two major ways;
1.) the creation is subjected to vanity and is awaiting its release (Romans 8:20-21).
2.) the chief of the jurisdiction of the air is working an influence in the system that directly effects the behavior of humanity (Ephesians 2:3).

Did God know all this beforehand? Of course He did.
Did God plan all of this beforehand? Of course He did.

Did Jesus consent to be placed within the system, and be subject to it? Of course He did.
Did Jesus overcome it all, and will He bring it all back to the Father "without spot or wrinkle"? Of course He will.

Joel
Hey Joel,

I agree completely that creatures lack absolute freedom, for indeed, it is not possible that the creature could have chosen to be created. And neither do we have freedom to choose our parents or where we were born, etc.

But absolute freedom does not seem to be the issue at hand. The question is if we are made in the image of God as free moral agents with genuine moral responsibility. The fact that we as creatures lack absolute freedom does mean that we can not be genuinely free moral agents.


Now as for you specific assertions:
Did God know all this beforehand? Of course He did.
Did God plan all of this beforehand? Of course He did.

I agree that God "knew all" for there are many verses that speak of God's omniscience. And I would agree that God did indeed "plan all of this beforehand" in a general sense, but I do not know of any verses that say God ordained "whatsoever comes to pass."

Do you?

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
11-12-2007, 12:32 PM
This link Free Will and Responsibility (http://www.the-highway.com/freewill_Byl.html) suggested by Denny contains this quote that explains the amazing Calvinist view that God is not free to create free creatures because that would limit His freedom:



Limiting God:


There is another difficulty with libertarian free will. How are we to reconcile it with divine sovereignty? Libertarianism holds that humans are, at least to some degree, uncaused causers, an attribute normally limited to God. This puts a severe restraint on God’s powers. Bartholomew acknowledges, regarding the existence of genuine chance:
But such a view . . . places limitations on the manner in which God can interact with creation. It implies, for example, that the vast majority of events are not directly planned by God to achieve some immediate and specific end (Bartholomew 1984:145).


The fundamental error of this argument is that it forgets that the "limitation" was not imposed on God, but rather, was FREELY CHOSEN by God to accomplish His Will to create genuinely free creatures in His image.

This error exemplifies how Calvinistic philosophy completely loses sight of the elementary facts of the Gospel. The idea that God would limit Himself in His intereaction with His creation is the essence of the Gospel. It is called the KENOSIS - derived from the Greek word keno-o found in Philippians 2:


Philippians 2:5-11 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation (keno-o), and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


Here is Strongs definition:
κενοω kenoo {ken-o'-o} from 2756; TDNT - 3:661,426; v AV - make void 2, make of none effect 1, make of no reputation 1, be in vain 1; 5 1) to empty, make empty 1a) of Christ, he laid aside equality with or the form of God 2) to make void 2a) deprive of force, render vain, useless, of no effect 3) to make void 3b) cause a thing to be seen to be empty, hollow, false
This is what the Bible teaches about how God has freely chosen to limit Himself in His interaction with us creatures.

In closing, we also must expose Bartholomew's error that "It implies, for example, that the vast majority of events are not directly planned by God to achieve some immediate and specific end." The Bible does not assert that God "directly planned" everything (every rape? every murder? every blasphemy?). It says that God "works" all things to achieve His end. He does this in opposition to our wickedness, not as the ultimate cause of our wickedness! This reveals the true Glory of God. Through His infinite wisdom, patience, love, and power, He is able to work all things together for good to accomplish His will without micro-managing every event. This reveals a glory ten thousand times ten thousand times greater than the God of philosophical Calvinism who is ubable to accomplish His Will except through brutely ordaining "whatsover comes to pass."

Richard

joel
11-12-2007, 01:28 PM
but I do not know of any verses that say God ordained "whatsoever comes to pass."

Do you?

Richard
------------------

No.

Knowing that man would break the law that he is subject to is not the same as saying that man is directed to break the law he is placed under.

He (God) obviously knew that man would break his law (you shall not eat), but we cannot say that God actually moved man towards his disobedience.

Joel

Richard Amiel McGough
11-12-2007, 02:39 PM
but I do not know of any verses that say God ordained "whatsoever comes to pass."

Do you?

Richard
------------------

No.

Knowing that man would break the law that he is subject to is not the same as saying that man is directed to break the law he is placed under.

He (God) obviously knew that man would break his law (you shall not eat), but we cannot say that God actually moved man towards his disobedience.

Joel
Yep! I agree completely.

Denny
11-22-2007, 11:02 AM
Richard said:
That is a very interesting take on the situation, Geoffrey! I agree with almost everything there .... but am disturbed by the statement that Adam had to transgress to save his wife ... that is not taught (as such) in the Bible. It could be true, but if so, the analogy with Christ breaks down because Christ did no sin

Richard, I believe you are absolutely correct. I hate to revive this thread here but a thought occured to me that make me laugh. Adam, indeed, did not sin to "save" his wife. He was not deceived and I believe that his sin was simply due to the fact that Eve was knockdown, drop dead beautiful and he loved her more than he loved obedience to his own righteous Creator.

Yet, I am still puzzled (have you ever noticed the double omega smack dab in the middle of this English word, puzzle?) by the single question; How does God foreknow anything, if His creatures have, in the future, true free moral agency? In other words, how is God able to foreknow, if a free decision by a man, that is imperative to that foreknowledge, still awaits somewhere in the future?

As you know, the "Calvinists" have gone the whole route to logically prove that God cannot foreknow anything without ordaining every single cause of that very foreknowledge.

I hope you might be able to help me understand this one question, as I'm not really troubled with anything else in this matter right now.

Denny

Romans 3:22-24

Richard Amiel McGough
11-22-2007, 12:02 PM
Richard, I believe you are absolutely correct. I hate to revive this thread here but a thought occured to me that make me laugh. Adam, indeed, did not sin to "save" his wife. He was not deceived and I believe that his sin was simply due to the fact that Eve was knockdown, drop dead beautiful and he loved her more than he loved obedience to his own righteous Creator.
Hey there Denny!

That really does make a lot of sense to me. I'm sure God's first woman was an absolute masterpiece from the hand of the ultimate Master Artist.

And I'm really glad you revived this old thread. These are fascinating and important issues. Of course, they also intrude upon things that we probably are not able to understand with our limited time-locked brains since they involve issues that transcend our experiential sphere.



Yet, I am still puzzled (have you ever noticed the double omega smack dab in the middle of this English word, puzzle?) by the single question; How does God foreknow anything, if His creatures have, in the future, true free moral agency? In other words, how is God able to foreknow, if a free decision by a man, that is imperative to that foreknowledge, still awaits somewhere in the future?

As you know, the "Calvinists" have gone the whole route to logically prove that God cannot foreknow anything without ordaining every single cause of that very foreknowledge.

I hope you might be able to help me understand this one question, as I'm not really troubled with anything else in this matter right now.

Denny

Romans 3:22-24
Let me be upfront with you ... I don't have an answer to that question. And it is very difficult to even discuss these things because we humans are totally ignorant about what it really means to say that "God is outside of time" because we and our language are entirely contained within time and all our words refer to things that are in time. Our human philosophy, therefore, offers absolutely NOTHING that should be included in any docrinal statement like the Westminster Confession.

This is why I can not be satisfied with the Calvinist answer either. The problem with the Calvinist answer is that it envisions the whole universe as a fully determined four-dimensional block of dead space-time. Despite all the verbal games and logical contortions, the bottom line is that the Calvinist view implies a totally fatalistic determinism. Every event was determined before God created the world, so there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to change their pre-ordained fate. We are nothing but pure puppets hanging on the strings of God's decrees. We have no real responsibility for anything we do because we are not "agents" in any sense of the word. We are entirely passive objects; dead clay pots formed by God; no different than the rocks in my garden.


So how do we begin to discuss your question?
How does God foreknow anything, if His creatures have, in the future, true free moral agency? In other words, how is God able to foreknow, if a free decision by a man, that is imperative to that foreknowledge, still awaits somewhere in the future?My brother-in-law is a professor of the Philosophy of Science at Messiah College (a Christian institution). He explained one possible path. He begins by affirming that God knows all things that are knowable. The solution then is based on the idea that the future actions of free creatures have no "reality" in any sense of the word until they are actualized. This means that they are not "knowable" by any being, even an omniscient being like God, because there is no "truth value" to be known before they are actualized.

Before reacting to this idea, it is very important to understand what it is saying, and what it is not saying. It could be easy to get confused and think that it denies God's omniscience. That is not correct. God knows all things that are real, and even all things that are possible. But that does not mean that God knows things that are not "knowable." Of course, this idea has the BIG proplem of not being able to explain how God could predict things like the betrayal by Judas, so I don't think it will pan out.

That's just one approach to the problem of God's Omniscience and our human freedom. Its an ancient problem that even Augustine struggled with in the fifth century. So there's no need for rush for an instant answer.

Given the intractability of this purely philosophical problem, I think its inclusion in a fundamental Confession of the Christian Faith to be an error of enormous magnitude. It transformed the simplicity of the Gospel into an inchoherent philosophical monstrosity.

I'm glad you revived this thread,

Thanks!

Richard

Rose
11-22-2007, 01:59 PM
Hi Denny :yo:


Yet, I am still puzzled (have you ever noticed the double omega smack dab in the middle of this English word, puzzle?) by the single question; How does God foreknow anything, if His creatures have, in the future, true free moral agency? In other words, how is God able to foreknow, if a free decision by a man, that is imperative to that foreknowledge, still awaits somewhere in the future?

What helps me in understanding God's foreknowledge, is walking through Rom. 8:28-30.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [His] purpose.For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified."

God invites those that love Him, to partake in the plan He has set forth, and because He has knowledge before hand of what we are going to do, He can determine ahead of time the way He will fashion each of us to be like the image of Jesus. We still have our free will, that is freedom to create our own ideas; even though God knows ahead of time what those ideas are. It does not lessen our free will to have a God that already knows what our thoughts are going to be. So, God having the foreknowledge of who will respond to His invitation, He then can conform us to the image of Jesus, that He might have many brethren, making Him the firstborn of us all.

So those who God knows before hand will respond to His invitation to be named brothers of Jesus, by accepting Him as Savior; He has freed from sin, making us righteous, and those who are made righteous are glorified, which is to be honored by God.

Hope that helps, it sure helps me to look at it step by step. :pop2:

Rose

Denny
11-22-2007, 02:16 PM
Richard said:
My brother-in-law is a professor of the Philosophy of Science at Messiah College (a Christian institution). He explained one possible path. He begins by affirming that God knows all things that are knowable. The solution then is based on the idea that the future actions of free creatures have no "reality" in any sense of the word until they are actualized. This means that they are not "knowable" by any being, even an omniscient being like God, because there is no "truth value" to be known before they are actualized.

Before reacting to this idea, it is very important to understand what it is saying, and what it is not saying. It could be easy to get confused and think that it denies God's omniscience. That is not correct. God knows all things that are real, and even all things that are possible. But that does not mean that God knows things that are not "knowable."

This is interesting but I might suggest another possibility that I probably don't even have the mind to totally work out.

It was affirmed by both of us in another thread somewhere that the condemned man is rejected by God's judgment because he is known of God but not known intimately and personally by God. It is possible that the answer to this question might be in the forensic act of justification itself?

This is hard for me to convey in words but I'll give it a shot.

Our justification is an eternal legal contract, not between us and God but between God and the humanity in His Son, Jesus, which we receive by faith alone. When we, by God's Spirit, are placed in the body of our Lord, God then has our permission as free men, because of our trust in God's grace and righteous will, to determine our future. This future ultimately leads us by Christ alone through the narrow gate to His kingdom. At this time of justification our God not only intimately knows our past but our future also as He then is able to foreknow what we will do because He now ordains and is accountable for our own good as well as our own evil. The evil or thorn in our flesh which God is free to ordain or withdraw, by our own free will permission, is now used in some way or another for our instruction and discipline in this world, rather than condemnation. It seems to me that the Christian who knew believed this would never wish to be tempted to disobedience nor suffer our Father's righteous yet loving discipline.


"And lead us not into temptation"

The future of unbelieving men has already been determined by God with their expulsion from the garden and their placement into a naturally corrupted world of ignorance, the overwhelming temptation to sin and the fear of God's just judgment of death.

I know this is cumbersome and probably has error somewhere but do you see what I'm getting at?

Denny

Romans 3:22-24

Richard Amiel McGough
11-29-2007, 01:03 PM
This is interesting but I might suggest another possibility that I probably don't even have the mind to totally work out.

It was affirmed by both of us in another thread somewhere that the condemned man is rejected by God's judgment because he is known of God but not known intimately and personally by God. It is possible that the answer to this question might be in the forensic act of justification itself?

This is hard for me to convey in words but I'll give it a shot.

Our justification is an eternal legal contract, not between us and God but between God and the humanity in His Son, Jesus, which we receive by faith alone.

This brings up another whole "can of worms" - I am not certain that the Bible teaches the a Forensic Theory of the Atonement.

I don't remember if we have touched this area before - are you aware of the fact that the Forensic Theory of the Atonemen is a theory? All Christians agree about the Fact of the Atonement wrought by Christ on the Cross, but there are many different therories about "how" the atonement "works." The forensic theory always gives me a knot in my stomach. The lawyeristic paradigm is about the worst possible conception of reality that I could ever imagine.

Of course, the Bible speaks frequently of LAW and its relation to salvation. But that does not mean that the Forensic Theory of Atonement is correct. But that's another thread .... I'll see if I can follow the rest of your post without getting hung up on the "legal" aspect that remains uncertain in my mind.


When we, by God's Spirit, are placed in the body of our Lord, God then has our permission as free men, because of our trust in God's grace and righteous will, to determine our future.
That could work, I suppose. But you see, I am not trying to understand how God predestines us to ultimately be conformed to the image of His Son. I have no problem with that, because it is clearly taught in the Bible. My problem is with the topic of this thread, namely, the doctrine that God specifically decrees each and every event in the universe.


This future ultimately leads us by Christ alone through the narrow gate to His kingdom. At this time of justification our God not only intimately knows our past but our future also as He then is able to foreknow what we will do because He now ordains and is accountable for our own good as well as our own evil.

I think that phrase "He then is able to foreknow" clashes pretty strongly with the doctrine that God had full foreknowledge from eternity. I also think that the fragment "He now ordains and is accountable for" clashes very strongly with the idea that everything was ordained in eternity past, and also the idea that God is "accountable for ... evil." Calvinists usually deny that idea with great vehemence (though not with much logic).


The evil or thorn in our flesh which God is free to ordain or withdraw, by our own free will permission, is now used in some way or another for our instruction and discipline in this world, rather than condemnation. It seems to me that the Christian who knew believed this would never wish to be tempted to disobedience nor suffer our Father's righteous yet loving discipline.
Its funny, but I don't feel that my free will gives any "permission" to God. I think its the other way around. God does whatever God wants to do! He needs not our permission for anything whatsoever. But I also believe that God wanted to create free creatures in His image, and I think He did exactly that. But we are still creatures, and our freedom is not absolute, and God is not wrong to override our freedom any more than parents are wrong to override the freedom of their children.


The future of unbelieving men has already been determined by God with their expulsion from the garden and their placement into a naturally corrupted world of ignorance, the overwhelming temptation to sin and the fear of God's just judgment of death.

I know this is cumbersome and probably has error somewhere but do you see what I'm getting at?

Denny

Romans 3:22-24
I do kinda get it .... I think ... but the language is very challenging, isn't it? I would never speak of giving God "permission" to do anything. That seems "out of bounds" in this conversation.

Thanks for working on this with me ... it is really important to many folks.

Richard