30
Jan
15

Prevenient Grace

Many have posited what they call the doctrine of prevenient grace which, according to their view, grants the power of “libertarian free will” universally. Most seem clueless about how they are using that term. The more intelligent of them will actually attempt to define what they mean by free will. They define it as “a person’s ability to choose other than he has chosen.” If I choose to eat chicken, I have equal ability to choose to eat steak. I have no issue with the idea that God has granted people the freedom of choice. Even the vilest sinner is free to choose to leave his sins and follow Christ if he wishes. If he should choose that option, he would do so because he had chosen to do so freely and apart from external constraint. By that, I do not mean that the human will is autonomous and acts apart from any influence whatsoever. We chose what we wish because we are what we are. God sets life and death before sinners and calls on them to choose between these two options. The question of the sinner’s ability to choose anything he wants is not at issue here. Everyone agrees on that point. What is at issue is whether a sinner possesses either the innate ability or the ability granted by prevenient but ineffectual grace to choose that for which he absolutely no desire and to which everything in his being is absolutely averse. If I am able to choose to eat steak, does that mean I have equal ability to choose to dine at the local sewage treatment plant? I am free to choose it, but I am not free to want it. The issue is not whether we are free to choose what we want. The issue is whether we have the ability to desire what we ought to desire. Can we choose what we abhor?

Those who tout prevenient grace are quick to resort to “mystery” when anyone begins to press them on the particulars of that doctrine. For example, if we should ask them why the Scriptures never say a word about an ineffectual preceding grace, they will tell us it must be drawn from inference. Apparently they reason that if God has expressed his sincere desire for the salvation of sinners, he must give everyone a chance. How and when all this happens is a “mystery.” That is their way of saying they do not have a clue and we should be ashamed of ourselves for being so bold as to actually ask them to defend their indefensible view. With the understanding that those who believe in salvific monergism also believe in prevenient grace, I would like to pose a few “philosophical” questions about their position though I am not arguing for philosophical determinism versus free will. Since their position is a philosophical and not a biblical one, I should be permitted to ask what they call “philosophical questions.”

1. If the will is free to choose other than it has chosen, would that not suggest that it is as inclined to choose what it does not want as it is to choose what it does want? Would that not suggest that, according to this view, the sinner is in a state of absolute neutrality?

2. Unless some sinners have virtues others lack, if God grants prevenient grace equally and universally, what is it that for some tips the scale toward God and leaves others in their state of neutrality? If sinners are all born in the same state of depravity and prevenient grace elevates all of them to the same state of neutrality or “libertarian free will,” it seems to me there are only two choices: 1. Some sinners must naturally possess a virtue or purpose of heart that others do not possess, or 2. There must be some external influence in addition to prevenient grace that tips the scale one way or the other. Clearly such an influence could not come from God without violating the sanctity of the human will.

2. Since those who believe in ineffectual* prevenient grace, affirm with the monergists that sinners are born in a state of sinful depravity or inability, when, in their view, is this power of free will granted?

3. If prevenient grace is granted at birth, why are the wicked described as going astray as soon as they are born? If you should answer that this passage is not speaking about every person but only about “the wicked,” are you not arguing that some are born in a state of total depravity and others are born in a less depraved state or that some receive a greater measure of prevenient grace than others? Or perhaps you are arguing that as soon as they are born they consciously choose to be wicked.

If prevenient grace is granted in God’s universal revelation of himself as he is clearly seen in his works of creation, why is it that the apostle Paul does not say, “some sinners suppress the truth about God they see in creation, while others freely receive it, rejoice in it, thank God for it, and glorify him because of it?”

If prevenient grace that grants “free will” to sinners is conferred in God’s universal grants of benevolence to his creatures, why did Paul describe the hearts of those who had received the benefits of God’s goodness as “hard and impenitent?” (see Rom. 2: 5). That doesn’t quite sound like neutrality does it?

Perhaps you would argue that prevenient grace is universally granted through the preaching of the gospel. Would that not mean that those who do not hear the gospel do not receive this grace? Additionally, why is it that even those who have been confronted with the clear light of the gospel are not neutral about it. John tells us in regard to the clearest revelation God has ever given of himself, “This is the condemnation that light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. And everyone who does wicked things hates the light, and does not come to the light lest his works should be exposed”(John 3:19-20). That some come to the light is not at issue here. Of course some come to the light and embrace Christ in faith. The question is not if some believe but why some believe. The New Testament Scriptures make it clear that those who have heard the gospel clearly and faithfully proclaimed in its fullness continue to regard that message as foolishness (1 Cor. 1:18). It doesn’t appear that gospel preaching is in and of itself accompanied by prevenient grace?

Perhaps you will suggest that God grants prevenient grace in Holy Spirit “conviction.” The problem is that the reproving work of the Spirit seems to be integrally related to the preaching of the gospel. It is not that he presses on sinners who have never heard the gospel, the sin of rejecting Christ as he is offered in the gospel and only in the gospel. If that is true, prevenient grace could not be granted universally in the Spirit’s work of reproof unless the gospel is proclaimed universally. If the gospel is not preached to every individual on earth, the prevenient grace of the Spirit’s reproof could not be universal. Additionally, their proof-text in Acts 7:51 does not merely tell us that sinners resist [the word means to fall against or to hurl oneself against] the Holy Spirit as he presses the evidence of the gospel against them. It tells us they ALWAYS resist.

Wesley wrote concerning prevenient grace,

Yet this is no excuse for those who continue in sin, and lay the blame upon their Maker, by saying, ‘It is God only that must quicken us; for we cannot quicken our own souls.’ For allowing that all the souls of men are dead in sin by nature, this excuses none, seeing there is no man that is in a state of mere nature; there is no man, unless he has quenched the Spirit, that is wholly void of the grace of God. No man living is entirely destitute of what is vulgarly called natural conscience. But this is not natural; It is more properly termed, preventing grace.”(Wesley, 1986, 6:512) He continues saying, “Every one has some measure of that light, some faint glimmering ray, which, sooner or later, more or less, enlightens every man that cometh into the world. And every one, unless he be one of the small number whose conscience is seared as with a hot iron, feels more or less uneasy when he acts contrary to the light of his own conscience. So that no man sins because he has not grace, but because he does not use the grace which he hath. Therefore, inasmuch as God works in you, you are now able to work out your own salvation. (Wesley. 1986, 6:512).

There are several insights we can gain from Wesley’s statement. First, it is clear that he is concerned that no one blame his sin on the fact that God has not granted him enabling grace. This grows out of the classic Arminian presupposition that responsibility implies ability. It is the belief that God cannot hold a person responsible unless he also gives that person ability. We can show this to be false by appealing to Romans 8:7. God clearly holds sinners responsible for obeying his law, but Paul tells us that those who are in the flesh CANNOT do so. Wesley tries to answer his inability/responsibility dilemna by saying that every man has some measure of the grace of God. The monergist would argue that every sinner is responsible for his own sin whether he has been given grace or not. That God who gives grace is to be praised when he restrains us from sin, relieves us of none of the blame if he does not restrain us. The sin is ours alone.

Second, what Wesley called “prevenient grace,” we would call “common grace,” which at times is restraining grace. It seems another difference between our beliefs is that he used the word “grace” more in the sense of enabling whereas we would use the term more in the sense of “unmerited favor to those who merited God wrath.” The consistent witness of Scripture is that in spite of God’s common grace and restraining mercy, sinners continue to presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead them to repentance. But in spite of all this kindness, the hearts of sinners remain hard and impenitent. All God’s patience apart from his effectual grace does nothing to soften his hard heart and produce repentance.

Third, even he did not seem to see this “prevenient grace” as having been granted equally to all since he wrote, “. . .which sooner or later, more or less (italics mine) enlightens every man that cometh into the world.” Additionally, he apparently believed some sinners had escaped the benefits of prevenient grace since he wrote, “And every one, unless he be one of the small number whose conscience is seared as with a hot iron (Italics mine), feels more or less uneasy when he acts contrary to the light of his own conscience.” One would have thought that prevenient grace would have granted free will to these as well.

One would think that if God loves every sinner equally and in the same way, he would have granted this grace equally to all. It seems likely that John, in 1:9 of his gospel, had in mind the enlightenment of people from every nation through the proclamation of the gospel of Christ as opposed to the enlightenment of every individual who has ever been born whether he has heard the gospel or not. Whatever the meaning of that verse, there is not the slightest hint that John had in mind that this enlightenment restored free will to the sinner. That concept must be read into the text; it cannot be drawn out of it. It is important to remember that sinners need more than light; we must have sight. This God’s common grace does not grant. What Wesley called “prevenient grace” only gives light. What monergists call prevenient grace gives both light and sight.

Fourth, this statement of Wesley’s implies that God has given to every sinner sufficient grace to enable him to avoid sin. He offers this as the reason why there “is no excuse for those who continue in sin, and lay the blame upon their Maker.” His clear implication is that if God had not granted this prevenient grace to all, his creatures could rightly blame him if they continued in sin. One wonders why one needs the grace of regeneration if prevenient grace has enabled all to put away their sins and rest on Christ. It would seem logical if sinners have been enabled by prevenient grace to obey one command of God, they should be able by prevenient grace to obey every command of God. Where is the evidence that all the universal blessings of God’s common grace put together have caused one sinner to put away his hostility toward God and rest on God’s promise of mercy? The effect of a mind controlled by the flesh is hostility toward God (see Romans 8:7), and our minds continue to be controlled by the flesh until he by his free grace replaces our stony hearts with hearts of flesh.

4. It is biblically impossible to argue that God has granted equal revelation of himself to all. Even common sense should tell us that that a blind man does not enjoy the same revelation of God’s glory in the night sky as a sighted individual does. Some are born into Christian homes and hear the gospel taught regularly; others are born into an environment of pagan darkness. It seems incontrovertible that he grants greater grace and privilege to some than he does to others (see for example Matt. 11:20-24). If God loves everyone equally and in the same way, why does he not grant to everyone the same light and opportunity? Is this inequality in God’s dealings with different individuals a random occurrence or has he previously determined to grant greater light to some than he does to others? We are often told that God would be unfair if he called and enabled some to believe according to his purpose and not others. Why does this charge not equally apply to the fact that he has granted greater revelation and privilege to some than to others?

5. It is often suggested as a proof of ineffectual prevenient grace that there are those in the Gospels and in the book of Acts who showed evidence of a desire to know God in a saving way prior to coming to faith in Christ. If only they had improved on this grace and used their freed will properly. We do not deny that there are those who show interest in the kingdom and may even come to a temporary faith and receive the gospel with joy, but this is no evidence of any more than a self-serving desire to enjoy God’s blessings in one’s own way. Those who showed evidence of a desire to be right with God on his terms and not on theirs ultimately came to genuine and lasting faith in Christ. We do not deny that God’s Spirit awakens sinners to their need and to the glories of the gospel prior to the consummating act of effectual calling. He may woo some for an extended period of time before he at last converts them. Additionally, we do not deny that some may feel their guilt and fear their condemnation as the Spirit presses the evidence of their sin and doom on them. These may or may not come to conversion. Still, this is no evidence that prevenient grace has granted them the power of free will.

*[I use the term ineffectual prevenient grace to distinguish it from that preceding grace that actually unites sinners to Christ].

John Wesley, Wesley’s Works, Working Out Our Own Salvation (Peabody MA:Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.) 1986.

Advertisements

93 Responses to “Prevenient Grace”


  1. January 31, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I have come to see the argument over God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility as a key dividing line between true submission to God and actual worship of self. Those who cannot accept the hard teachings of God always come up with a man-pleasing alternative. From “natural causes” for the crossing of the Red Sea to “natural causes” for the resurrection of spiritually dead souls – our natural state is to deny God’s sovereignty. There is no neutral corner into which we can retreat. We who have been born again by the Spirit of the living God must submit to Him, though our flesh fails us and always tries to lead us astray.

  2. January 31, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Reblogged this on Defending. Contending. and commented:
    I have come to see the argument over God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility as a key dividing line between true submission to God and actual worship of self. Those who cannot accept the hard teachings of God always come up with a man-pleasing alternative. From “natural causes” for the crossing of the Red Sea to “natural causes” for the resurrection of spiritually dead souls – our natural state is to deny God’s sovereignty. There is no neutral corner into which we can retreat. We who have been born again by the Spirit of the living God must submit to Him, though our flesh fails us and always tries to lead us astray.

  3. January 31, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Very well stated My brother.

  4. January 31, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Well spoken and well commented upon!

  5. February 10, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Randy

    Hope all is well. I see the pingback, but figured I would let you know I wrote up some thoughts on being philosophical and biblical.

    Mike

    • February 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      thanks Mike. I hope all is well with you too. I read your article and I agree with you. As I stated in my reply, I made the comments I made about philosophy because someone from your side of the aisle had questioned my right to pose philosophical questions about the issue. I am not among those who believe the ability to employ sound reasoning comes from the pit of hell.

      Sent from my iPad

      >

    • 7 Jim
      February 15, 2015 at 8:43 pm

      I am truly enjoying the interaction between Randy and MikeB!

  6. 8 Jim
    February 10, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    “We do not deny that there are those who show interest in the kingdom and may even come to a temporary faith and receive the gospel with joy, but this is no evidence of any more than a self-serving desire to enjoy God’s blessings in one’s own way. ”

    How can one desire anything about the King or his kingdom, when it is, according to what you have written, impossible for him to desire something he abhors?

    “How and when all this happens is a “mystery.” ”

    Isn’t it? One of the deepest mysteries is how anyone is born again! Even the reformed among us don’t really know how it happens. Sure, we can argue about what comes first, but at the end of the debate, we all say “It is a mystery.”

    The early church certainly had a different take on this issue than Calvin did. Here is what Justin said:

    “But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race has the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. …

    But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.”

    Justin says that we do have an ability to choose and that if we don’t, we are not accountable for our actions. At the same time, later church councils would conclude that Gods grace is indeed needed, but how that all works out is a mystery.

    • February 10, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      I believe my statement that you quoted speaks for itself. A sinner’s desire for the kingdom, may have nothing to do with God’s desire for the Kingdom.

      There is no question there is great mystery in everything God does; “how unsearchable are his judgments and his ways past tracing out.” The mystery to me is how a person can believe a doctrine that is nowhere stated or intimated in the Scriptures.

      With reference to whether sinners have the ability to choose, there is no controversy. Of course, we can choose. We are not puppets or robots. The issue is desire.

      Sent from my iPad

      >

      • February 10, 2015 at 5:42 pm

        Maybe I misunderstood what you said. One can either desire God’s kingdom or he can’t, that seems obvious. Are you saying that a person can indeed desire something about God and his Kingdom, but can not desire it in the right way, without being born again?

      • February 10, 2015 at 6:14 pm

        Exactly

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 10, 2015 at 7:24 pm

        Would you say that when “people began to call upon the name of the Lord” in Genesis 4:26 that they did so out of a wrong desire or that they had been regenerated?

      • February 10, 2015 at 7:28 pm

        Nobody can truly call upon the name of the Lord unless His Spirit equips them to do so. This He does by regenerating them so they desire the grace that is communicated by God-given faith and they cry out to their new Father, Abba!

      • February 10, 2015 at 7:29 pm

        So your answer is that those in Gen 4, who called on the Lord, were indeed born again first?

      • February 10, 2015 at 7:32 pm

        We see in the parable of the sowers those who, for a season, call upon the Lord but have no root and not born again. We do not have enough information or insight to know with certainty they answer to your question. The Scripture does not categorically state the matter. Such is for God alone to judge. But – any in Gen 4 who truly called upon the name of the Lord as adapted children must have been born again before they could do so.

      • February 10, 2015 at 9:11 pm

        God calls on people to change their stony hearts, because that is our responsibility, but responsibility does not suggest ability. God later promises that he will do for people, as a blessing of the New Covenant, what he had commanded them to do but which the law, the Old Covenant, couldn’t enable them to do.

        What we often refer to, theologically, as “regeneration” is really a work of God that belongs to “the regeneration,” i.e. The ends of the ages (see 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 9:26). It is a blessing that belongs to the New Covenant era. The NT writers picked up on many of the types and shadows of this work from the OT, and described it as creation, deliverance from bondage, birth, having the law written on the fleshly tables of the heart, circumcision of the heart, resurrection etc.

        One factor we always must consider is that there is an issue being discussed in the early days of Christianity that, because of our modern outlook, we fail to reckon with. The Jewish people tended to think they enjoyed some spiritual advantage as God’s covenant people because of their physical descent from Abraham. When Jesus told Nicodemus he needed to be born again/from above, he was not merely telling him as he would tell us, “you need spiritual life as well as physical life.” He was telling him his physical union with Abraham would do nothing to grant him even a glimpse of the kingdom. Not only was his union with Adam against him, but his union with Abraham would be no advantage to him.

        As this is developed further in the NT Scriptures, it became clear the granting of the inheritance comes through union with Christ. Paul tells us in Eph. 3 that those things that were a mystery [that which was not as yet revealed and that could not be understood apart from revelation] during the OT period, have now been revealed.

        What I am saying is that the work we are describing (regeneration) is a work that is a blessing of the New Covenant and grants its recipients access to God’s kingdom and to the spiritual inheritance promised to Abraham, in union with the promised seed. Whether we can transfer all of that back into an OT context is doubtful. My view, based on my study of Hebrews and Galatians, is that the same inheritance that belongs to us, belonged to them [OT believers], but that the inheritance was not granted to them until Jesus ratified the New Covenant (see Gal. 4:1-5; Heb. 8:15, 11:39-40).

        What we can be certain of, is that since we are all taken from the same lump of clay, if there is any sinner who must depend on God’s enabling grace that calls into union with his Son, then every sinner, during whatever epoch he/she may have lived was dependent on the same grace.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 10, 2015 at 7:37 pm

        These kind of things have always perplexed me. How could people so close to the actual sin of Adam and Eve call upon the Lord? How did the city of Nineveh repent in an acceptable way to God, so that he stayed his hand of judgment? It seems that the only way this is possible, according to a reformed view, is that they were all born again first.

        Randy makes a good point about having right desires. I just wonder how to reconcile that with Nineveh. If their desires were wrong, why did God accept their repentance?

      • February 10, 2015 at 7:41 pm

        Jim – every soul who ever called upon the name of the Lord in truth, in all of redemptive history, have done so not because of any good in them, but because chose to have mercy on them. He did so, in fact, from before He founded the world (Rev 13:8). That should perplex anyone who ponders it!

      • February 10, 2015 at 7:57 pm

        Jim,

        You have some busy fingers and apparently a busy mind as well. I appreciate your interest in this subject. As you know, or at least I assume you know, one of the fairly widely accepted principles of biblical interpretation is that we are to interpret obscure passages in the light of clearer passages and non-theological passages in the light of theological or didactic passages. As we look at OT passages, we can speculate forever about why this or that happened. Unless we seek our answers in the fuller revelation of the NT Scriptures, we will never know. As New Covenant believers, we have a clearer understanding than the greatest Old Covenant prophet.

        Re: Nineveh. In the light of NT revelation, we must believe that since God had purposed to show them his mercy in forgiving them, he must have granted them repentance. Perhaps he intended this act of forgiveness to foreshadow the expansion of his kingdom to the world, in Christ.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 10, 2015 at 7:38 pm

        Since I believe these people genuinely called on the name of the LORD, I believe God must have enabled them to do so. I don’t have time to fully explain my views on regeneration now, but there is an article here that explains my understanding. My view, in short,is that we would be more accurate if we thought in terms of God’s enabling call, especially when we describe how God brought people to faith during that epoch.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 11, 2015 at 3:06 pm

        The mystery to me is how a person can believe a doctrine that is nowhere stated or intimated in the Scriptures.

        Perhaps Randy you can shed light on what you mean by “intimated”?

      • February 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm

        intimate– to hint, suggest, state or suggest indirectly.

        Let me state what I affirm, before I explain what I am denying.

        I affirm that God has granted universal grace and mercy. Since this universal display of his beneficence, (he “opens his hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing.”). Since that display (in that I would include God’s self-revelation in creation, conscience, commandments, Christ’s gospel, conviction by the Spirit. Add to that his goodness and patience) occurs prior to his work of applying redemption to believers, it is by definition, prevenient.

        I affirm that God often uses this revelation and these acts of universal kindness in bringing his elect people to himself.

        I affirm that the most profligate retains the power of choice. People are not puppets.

        I affirm that sinners can “want their best life now.” They can want to live forever in a “Heaven” they don’t understand as long as it doesn’t involve change. They can want to be forgiven on their terms so they won’t suffer the pains of hell.

        > What I deny is that there is the slightest hint in Scripture that any non-elect person or any elect person until the point of conversion reacts properly to any of God’s acts of common grace, nor is there any evidence that God has granted a universal desire to do so.

        The discussion is not about our ability to choose what we wish. That ability was never lost and does not need to be granted again. The discussion is about the ability to desire what God desires for his glory.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 11, 2015 at 5:01 pm

        “I affirm that sinners can “want their best life now.” They can want to live forever in a “Heaven” they don’t understand as long as it doesn’t involve change. They can want to be forgiven on their terms so they won’t suffer the pains of hell.”

        Randy this is fascinating, and I have never heard anyone say it that way. Thanks for the clarity. I wonder though, how this actually works. It seems that it gets dangerously close to the Arminian position of free will, without actually crossing over. It allows people to believe everything and anything about the true and living God that they want to, just not the truth. The truth is something that they can not decipher on their own. It is hidden.

      • February 11, 2015 at 6:44 pm

        Jim,

        I would invite other Calvinists who drop by to weigh in on the issue, but it would be my understanding that this is well in line with Calvinistic doctrine.

        In reality, the unconverted are able to know the truth about God. Paul wrote concerning those who remain unconverted and under God’s wrath, “The invisible things of him [God] since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood from the things that are made, even his eternal power and divinity in order that [ or it could be with the result that] they might be without excuse.” (see- Rom. 1: 19-20).

        The problem is not that sinners do not understand the truth, but that they “do not receive the LOVE of the truth that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10).
        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 11, 2015 at 6:58 pm

        Randy, I love this stuff, so thank you for the discussion.

        “The problem is not that sinners do not understand the truth, but that they “do not receive the LOVE of the truth that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10).”

        This only adds to my confusion. This verse states that the reason those perishing ARE perishing, is because they refuse to do something. The clear reading of this would be that they indeed can do something, but instead choose not to. They could love the truth, and be saved, but choose not to and continue to perish. “They perish because the refuse to love the truth and so be saved.”

      • February 11, 2015 at 7:08 pm

        Jim,

        The issue is not physical, mental, emotional, or volitional incapacity. Jesus did not say to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “O fools and slow of mind to understand. . . ” but “O fools and slow of Heart. . . .”

        Your understanding is correct. Sinners perish because they have refused to obey the command of the gospel in addition to all their other sins.

        You are simply talking about human responsibility. If anyone perishes it will be through his own fault. If anyone is saved, it will be all to God’s glory.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 14, 2015 at 2:30 pm

        Manfred: “We see in the parable of the sowers those who, for a season, call upon the Lord but have no root and not born again.

        The parable of the sower only clouds the issue for me. In Luke 8, Jesus is clearly talking about how different kinds of people will respond to the Gospel. He defines the seed as the word of God and he defines the reception of this word of God as believing and being saved. That means that this “word”, is “the Gospel message”, because that is the only thing people can believe and be saved by.

        One person is prevented from believing by the devil, not by anything within himself. Another receives the gospel, but later falls away. Another receives the gospel, but doesn’t mature like he should. Jesus certainly had the opportunity to explain this in a more reformed way, if that is the way it is. But he didn’t. So that muddies things up for me.

        But not as much as the last person in the parable: The person with good soil. Jesus describes this person as having a good and noble heart and because their heart is good and noble, they are able to hear the Gospel, embrace the Gospel and live fruitful lives as followers of Christ.

      • February 14, 2015 at 2:57 pm

        Perhaps you have forgotten your training in hermeneutics. I am sure you will remember when prompted that parables are intended to teach only one lesson. You have erred in trying to make the parable walk on all fours.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 14, 2015 at 3:11 pm

        What is the point of the parable then?

      • February 14, 2015 at 3:17 pm

        The meaning of the parable of the sower, Jim, is that no one can bear good fruit unless the Lord of the harvest prepare the soil, the obedient servant sow the seed, another water, and YHWH Himself grant the increase. Those who are not granted the increase may appear to be saved for a while (Judas), but they will fall away and reveal their true status as children of Satan. None but those whom God has made into new creatures will abide in Christ and bear good fruit.

      • February 14, 2015 at 3:20 pm

        The point is that even when Jesus himself is the preacher, everyone who hears will not believe with perseverance. Perhaps you would do well to remember that soil does not cultivate itself.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • 32 hescht77
        July 29, 2016 at 3:32 pm

        So you are saying it is man’s desire that is still not free. That still leaves man without a choice. Calvinist say, “The real question is why God would even bother.” That question would make a lot more sense under prevenient grace. If all humans are born with a desire that WILL NOT ever seek God then man has no choice, no matter how you play with words.

        Prevenient grace is not only more logical, but it DOES have biblical warrant and speaks better to the character of God revealed in scripture. Saying the rest is a mystery isn’t a cop out. There is plenty of mystery in God (Deuteronomy 29:29). If we’d focus more on preaching the gospel and not how it all works on the background, we could all come together again and be the church. There isn’t going to be a quiz after the resurrection on who was right, but rather what did we do with our faith.

        Some of my biggest disappointments with Calvinists (not to stereotype all) has been a lack of humility in attacking and painting anyone who disagrees as creating a doctrine of man. It’s an ugly culture that is being passed down. Sure some run from Calvinist out of fear, and as a pastor I deal with that. We have to go to the bible first, God’s character revealed, and logic (yes logic when in the right order).

        However many non-Calvinist, like myself, are sifting through Scripture the same way you guys are. Though I’m not Arminian, Jacob Arminius came to his position by studying the Scriptures. He was a Calvinist like I was before changing his position.

        Sometimes Cavinist subscribe to their tradition so much to the point that one wonders if that way of thinking is any better that the Catholic traditions when the reformation came on the scene.

        Stop the bullying tactics and basically calling us idiots. That’s not Christlike fruit. Despite what you might think or have been taught we aren’t the spirit of anti-Christ.

        The reformers were men who were used mightily of God and I am forever grateful for that time in history. But they were far from perfect as well as you probably know. We’d be wise to learn from the way they approached the Roman Catholic Church. Respect how God has used them (like the Jews in Romans 9) but be careful not to put them on too high a pedestal.

      • July 30, 2016 at 1:26 am

        I would very much like if you would cite passages in context that give any indication that God grants all sinners a preceding grace that falls short of producing saving faith and repentance. I have no question that God grants elect sinners preceding/prevenient grace. The question is where we are ever given any indication that it is of the sinner’s doing that he is in Christ. In fact, the apostle Paul made it quite clear that it is of God that we are in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). Additionally, he makes it clear that all who are called are also justified (Rom. 8:30). I don’t find a single shred of Scripture that gives the slightest indication that God grants all sinners freedom from the bondage of sin so that he can make a free will decision to unite himself to Christ. If you can show me such a text, we might have something to discuss.

        Nothing leaves sinners without a choice. Life and death is set before us in the gospel. Whether sinners desire the life of holiness that is offered in the gospel is another issue. Do I believe sinners are able on their own even apart from grace altogether to choose to go to heaven when they die? Of course I do, but that is not the issue set before us in the NT gospel. The issue is whether one wishes to continue in his sin or be save from it. The entire Bible makes it clear that sinners are intent on pursuing their own sinful way contrary to God’s way. Nothing short of a new creation, a heart transplant, a birth from above, a resurrection etc. can change that.

        I don’t recall where in my article I called you or your ilk an idiot. I am sorry you felt as if I implied that. I would be interested in knowing how you classify yourself if you are not an Arminian. You seem to be defending the doctrine of prevenient but ineffectual grace which is clearly an Arminian doctrine. Perhaps you could share with me where you fit into the well established categories that people tend to fall into.

        If you feel as if you are being abused in some way as you read what I have written, please understand that I grant you the freedom to avoid my blog, and by all means don’t ever feel compelled to comment on anything I have written.

      • 34 hescht77
        July 30, 2016 at 3:19 pm

        I am not Arminian mainly because I hold to the view of Perseverance of The Saints.

        In regards to desire vs. choice, what I’m saying is that in the end we still have no choice in the matter under the Calvinist view. If we all died in Adam (and I hold to original sin), then we are sinners not just because we sin but because we are sinners by nature. So if that deadness is passed down then we are all born with a desire to not seek God. So we aren’t questioning God selecting some neutral innocent people and damning other neutral innocent people to hell. The question is that though we are sinners, we were born into it, born without a desire for God. If we are born without a desire for God and can’t desire him with out his grace, then according to Calvinist interpretation we are doomed from the beginning. There is still no choice if we can’t desire God. Prevenient grace is much like irresistible grace under the classical (reformed) Arminian camp. It just acknowledges that God in his sovereignty allows people to reject that grace.

        It looks at all of the passages about God drawing and choosing first and then looks at the plethora of passages where man is exhorted to make a decision and believe and says ok, it seems that God acts first and then calls for man to respond. Put that together with people resisting the spirit, Jesus and the apostles in tears about it, and God’s desire that none would perish (though many will) and you have prevenient grace.

        “Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” – Ezekiel 33:11

      • July 30, 2016 at 3:54 pm

        So, that would make you a four point Arminian. It sounds to me as if your position on “prevenient grace” rests far more on your philosophical tradition than it does on Scripture. There is no question that sinners are called on to respond to the gospel call and that they are responsible to do so. Additionally, there is no question that sinners are able to resist the Holy Spirit. In fact, they ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit in a state of nature. You say you believe in original sin. How would you define “original sin?” Do you believe that people are born in an innocent state? Do you believe people are born in a state in which they are neutral toward God or inclined toward him? If that is the case, why do people need for God to act first? If not, do you believe people are born in sin and have a sinful nature? How do you respond to the passages that teach us that sinners are in bondage to sin? Where does that bondage come from? Does a person obtain it by something he has done or is he born with it? If he is born with it, how would your view differ from the Calvinistic view? Where does the Bible ever give an indication that that bondage is broken in anyone who is not united to Christ? It sounds as if you believe no such bondage exists. If you do believe it exists, how would your view differ from the Calvinistic view? If you hold that such bondage exists, prevenient grace in your view would have to release sinners from their bondage to sin, remove their stony hearts, give them a heart of flesh, put a new disposition within them, remove the veil of darkness from their hearts, make them alive toward God etc. How else could they react favorably toward God and the gospel?

        The issue is not whether people can refuse so called “irresistible grace.” J. I. Packer was certainly right when he wrote, “Irresistible grace is irresistible in that it removes the disposition to resist.” It is not so much that sinners cannot resist as it is that they will not once that disposition is removed.

        There is nothing about Calvinistic doctrine that denies God’s published desire that sinners repent or that affirms that he takes pleasure in the death of the wicked. Such a belief does not in any way imply that God grants to all sinners the ability to love God and desire to live for his glory.

        I suspect one of our points of disagreement concerns the nature of faith and repentance and ultimately the nature of salvation itself. I have no question that sinners are able to want to be forgiven so they can go to heaven when they die, but the biblical gospel never sets that issue before sinners. The issue is well stated in the Ezek. passage you quoted. It is the love of sinning that keeps sinners from God, and sinners cannot remove that desire from their own hearts. If God removes that desire and implants in us a desire to do his will, who will resist him?

      • 36 hescht77
        July 30, 2016 at 4:55 pm

        Thanks for being gentle thus far in our discussion brother. Sometimes I wonder if Christians in nations like ours that haven’t experienced intense persecution, read about its reality in Scripture, and then make pseudo enemies out of one another so that we can stand with the Apostles against false teaching.

        No I don’t hold that we are born neutral. We are born into sin and the image of God has been marred (though not destroyed) in all of humanity. Without grace we can do nothing. Here I can’t put God in a theological box though. He is very capable of enabling us to believe without us yet being born again. Anything is possible with God. How does he do it? Through the logos. Through preceding grace.

        I remember being in church and the pastor preached and my heart fluttered. That was the Spirit of God moving like the wind and convicting me. I had a choice to make.

        “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness…” – Hebrews 3:7-8

        I still, even now, have a choice to make. My walk with Christ is a walk of call and response. He acts first by his grace, then I obey.

      • July 30, 2016 at 6:47 pm

        There is no controversy between us about whether sinners have choices to make and we are responsible for those choices. My question for you, and there will be several more questions if you wish to continue this discussion, it this, What do you believe is the effect of Adam’s sin in terms of the sinner’s bondage in sin and what is the significance of that bondage? Do you think prevenient grace removes that bondage apart from an effectual call that actually unites a person to Christ. Would such a deliverance from sin’s bondage be a temporary blessing so that if a sinner made the wrong choice he would return to bondage? By the way, you do understand that Heb. 3:7-8 is addressed to professing believers don’t you?

        To me it seems abundantly clear from several Scripures that all who are called/drawn by God become believers, e.g., “whom he called, them he also justified,” “but to those who are called, Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God,” Everyone therefore who has heard and learned of the Father comes to me.” This is clearly not true of everyone who hears the outward call of the gospel. It must be speaking of a call that actually brings a person into union with Christ (see 1 Cor. 1:9). 1 Cor 1:30 makes it clear that it is of God that we are in Christ Jesus. That could not be the case if our being in Christ resulted from our positive response to the gospel command. Even if that response were the result of a prior enabling which is granted to sinners universally, if that enabling did not have the same effect in all that it has in some, it is not the enabling itself that makes the difference but the sinner’s response to it. To say that doesn’t put God in a theological box; it simply acknowleges what the Scriptures tell us God has done to bring us into union with his Son.

        I suspect that one of your presuppositions is that responsibility implies ability. If that were the case, unregerate sinners would be able to obey and be subject to God’s law since we clearly have a responsibility to be obedient to God. Yet, Paul states clearly that those who are in the flesh cannot please God and cannot be subject to his law.

      • July 30, 2016 at 6:49 pm

        I might also ask you how you think your view of sinners being born in sin differs from the Calvinistic doctrine of sinners being born in sin.

  7. February 10, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    I believe there are many who call upon the Lord for higher self esteem, a better/best life now, etc. who are interested in the Kingdom for wrong reasons. Concerning those who genuinely called upon the Lord in the annals of Genesis, perhaps the doctrine of election explains it?

    • February 10, 2015 at 11:16 pm

      Hello Dan. It is always good to hear from you. Yes, if our assumption is correct that these were called and thus enabled by God to call on the Lord, it would follow that they were called according to his electing purpose.

      Sent from my iPad

      >

    • February 11, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Thinking back on my own conversion experience, I can tell you that I was not thinking about the glory of God at the moment of conversion. My life was a mess, I was broken, and I genuinely needed God! I would say that most of us have similar experiences, where we were thinking about our lives.

      “Concerning those who genuinely called upon the Lord in the annals of Genesis, perhaps the doctrine of election explains it?”

      Not adequately, at least form my vantage point. It does not explain how they were able to respond. If we are totally unable to respond to God, and have been this way since Adam, how did these call on the Lord? Their natures must have been regenerated so they could do that, if Calvin’s view is correct. I don’t see any other way around that.

      • February 11, 2015 at 6:53 pm

        I have always found the Scriptures a more reliable guide than personal experience in discerning the nature and reality of conversion. Paul described conversion as follows , ” And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).

        This does not occur until our Creating God commands the light to shine out of darkness. It is at that point that we begin to see, and enjoy I might add, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 11, 2015 at 7:05 pm

        I wouldn’t argue with any of what you said here. I also don’t point to personal experience as proof of anything. I did bring it up because it does seem to be an almost universal experience for those who come to Christ as adults.

      • February 11, 2015 at 7:07 pm

        I agree with your point here. Scripture is the only reliable basis for understanding conversion.

        I brought up personal experience only because it is almost a universal one, at least for so many of us who have to Christ as adults,

      • February 11, 2015 at 7:10 pm

        I am not suggesting that the birthing process is not a traumatic one. Different people go through different and often traumatic experiences. What I am talking about is when the light finally dawns.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 11, 2015 at 7:12 pm

        Jim,

        Where do you live? Tell me a bit about yourself.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 12, 2015 at 11:23 am

        Jim, therein lies the question! Does regeneration precede faith, or do we give God permission to ‘regenerate’ us based on a decision of the human will. That’s monerigsm v. synergism in a nutshell. Either God saves from beginning to end, or salvation is “shake and bake, and I helped!” If I ‘helped’ God save me, do not I have ‘reason to boast’?

        “Except you are born again (regenerated), you cannot SEE the kingdom of God.” – Jesus to Nicodemus.

      • February 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm

        Good comment. “Shake and bake” salvation is a new one for me. We have to deal honestly with the question, “What CAUSES people to obey God’s commandments? We don’t need philosophical conjecture to answer that question. It seems clear that Jesus was directing Nicodemus to Ezek. 36:25-27. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:26-27

        This is not “mystery.” It is plain that “stony heart” speaks of a rebellious disposition. It plainly does not speak of those who have been granted a dispostion to obey God. If that were the case, there would be no need to put a NEW disposition in them. There would be no need to take out the stony heart and replace it with a heart of flesh if they had been granted universal but ineffectual prevenient grace. The text plainly states that they will desire to obey God’s rules, because he will CAUSE THEM TO.

  8. February 11, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    The mystery to me is how a person can believe a doctrine that is nowhere stated or intimated in the Scriptures.

    MikeB: Perhaps Randy you can shed light on what you mean by “intimated”?

    intimate– to hint, suggest, state or suggest indirectly.

    I would say that you are not being reasonable to suggest that there are no verses in the Bible that suggest or hint at PG.

    And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
    – 1 Thess 2:13

    Here Paul praises the people for hearing the Gospel and for accepting it. The implication is we are glad you did not reject it (like say those in Matt 23:37-39). Now if you allow for a more libertarian view of FW (rather than the compatiblism you prefer) then you have people coming to faith b/c they chose to accept the good news.

    Add a passage like Acts 16:14, where Lydia had her heart opened to respond and we have a reasonable suggestion that PG is at work here.

    Now, you don’t have to accept my definitions, presuppositions or interpretations, but to suggest that it is not even indirectly suggested presumes all of your definitions and presuppositions are correct and all those held by others are wrong.

    • February 11, 2015 at 11:41 pm

      Mike,

      Surely you can’t be serious. There is not a word of praise for them in this verse. He has already identified the source of their ready acceptance of the gospel he had preached to them.”We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5 Surely, we can give thanks to God that people have believed, but that says nothing about WHY they have believed.

      Of course, Lydia had prevenient grace. Every believer must or he/she would not believe. The issue is its universality but ineffectiveness. If it grants unbelievers “free will.” Why doesn’t the Bible ever tell us that?

      If you think I am wrong, “Where’s the Beef?” Show me an actual didactic passage where it is taught and I will abandon everything I have ever believed.

      Sent from my iPad

      >

      • February 12, 2015 at 11:41 am

        When it reads “you accepted it” what does that mean?

        1) (saved to faith) you were unconditionally chosen by God, were saved through regeneration so you could/would accept the Gospel you heard (saved to faith)

        2) (saved by faith) you heard the Gospel, were enabled to respond, and chose to accept it (when you could have rejected it) making you one of the chosen (ie part of body of Christ).

        You have defined “total depravity” as something God can not overcome without regeneration. I do not restrict God from being able to enable people to respond without regeneration.

        You have defined “free will” as responding to the strongest desire. Thus God must give man that strongest desire for Him/faith. I define “free will” as the ability for an agent to determine which desire to act upon.

        These philosophical assumptions “determine” which option we will “choose”.

      • February 12, 2015 at 2:31 pm

        Mike,

        I am not the one who has defined God’s method of saving sinners. I am reading what the biblical writers have written. If they write, “you accepted it,” I understand that as a statement of fact just as I understand “no man can come to me unless the Father who sent me should draw him, and I will raise him (i.e., the one I draw) up at the last day.”

        We are not in disagreement about the issue of whether believers have “joyfully enlisted” and have “accepted” the gospel message. The issue is that we can’t read verses in isolation from one another.

        God could have determined to bring sinners to faith in any way he pleased. That is not the issue. The issue is how sinners act universally, even when granted abundant common grace. Apart from grace, how many are righteous? How many understand? How many seek God? What is the universal response of the perishing to the gospel? Additionally, what is it that causes some to see Christ as God’s wisdom and God’s power while others continue to view him and his gospel as foolishness and weakness? The answer of Scripture is “but to those who are called, Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God.”

        How is it that people see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ? It is because the God who commanded light to shine out of the darkness has shined in our hearts TO GIVE THE LIGHT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE FACE OF JESUS CHRIST(see–2 Cor. 4:6).

        Why is it important whether a person who has been thus enabled to see and enjoy such a glorious vision could have rejected it? The point is that no one does who has been thus enabled.

        Why not ask if a starving man who sees his favorite food before him could refuse to eat it? Of course he could, but why would he?

        Frankly, I am not interested in discussing philosophical conjectures about what God could have done. I have my hands full trying to get a better handle on what he has clearly revealed.
        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 12, 2015 at 5:34 pm

        I am reading what the biblical writers have written.

        me too. that’s my point. we are both reading the Biblical texts. We just have different interpretations of some key passages.

        I am not interested in discussing philosophical conjectures about what God could have done.

        Fair enough. Although you did open the door when you wrote a post on PG and asked philosophical questions.

      • February 12, 2015 at 7:00 pm

        Mike,

        There is a huge difference between philosophical conjectures based on what God could have done and theological questions based on what he has revealed. As I stated, I only mentioned philosophy because some guy from your side of the aisle tried to deny me the right to ask questions because he said they were philosophical.

        It may be that neither of us is interpreting the Scriptures but it is certain that we cannot both be doing so. There are not many interpretations; only one. There may be many misinterpretations.
        We have interpreted a passage when we get into our minds what the human author and the Holy Spirit had in mind when the passage was written. A passage means what it means objectively.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 12, 2015 at 7:55 pm

        I agree that Scripture has an objective meaning. And we are both trying to understand what the text that has been revealed means. For me I would say we are both interpreting the Scriptures, but if I understand what you are saying, you reserve the word “interpret” for the one true meaning of Scripture.

        So who is right? (I know how you would answer that ;)) But isn’t that what we are trying to work through?

      • February 12, 2015 at 7:59 pm

        Yes, it is.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 12, 2015 at 7:45 pm

        Mike,

        I have not witnessed you dealing with any key passages at all. You seem to ignore all the passages I question you about and then talk about verses that have nothing to do with the issue. Whether people are active and willing in embracing the gospel is not at issue. We both agree they are. You seem to want to read into the text some evidence that these people could have done otherwise at the point of conversion. You can muse about that for the rest of your life, but the texts you have offered will never provide the answer. It appear to me you are not trying to draw your theology/philosophy out of the text, but reading it into the text. That is not interpretation. You may attempt to find your philosophy in some other passage, but you cannot infer it from a text that talks about people gladly and warmly receiving the good news.

        The issue is why or how they are able to react willingly to gospel overtures. I have offered what I believe are key passages dealing with that issue. You have offered verses that do not even vaguely address the issue. Paul wrote that we are “the called according to his purpose” and that “those he called, he also justified.” Such a call cannot be universal unless justification is universal. That is a KEY passage.

      • February 12, 2015 at 7:58 pm

        Randy,

        Let’s make it simple. What key passage have I ignored?

        It appear to me you are not trying to draw your theology/philosophy out of the text, but reading it into the text.

        ok. glad to know you have it all figured out and have no presuppositions coloring your interpretations.

      • February 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm

        Now, you have misrepresented me. I have not denied having certain presuppositions that lead me to my conclusions on this issue. My point is that our presuppositions must be drawn out of the Scriptures and tested by the Scriptures. We have no right to arrive at a presupposition based on what we see as a philosophical necessity, then read that presupposition into the text. That people gladly accepted the gospel message offers no proof they could have done otherwise. That I choose to eat steak offers no proof that I could have chosen to eat dung.

        For starters, why don’t you address the multitude of passages that talk about the hostility of the unconverted and their consistent suppression of God’s revealed truth (See Romans one through three). If your version of prevenient grace grants all sinners a free will, why does it appear in all these passages that they still have no inclination whatsoever to repent prior to God’s act of making them alive? Address Ezekiel 36:25-27, John 3:3-8,19;6:37-44; Rom 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 1:18-31,3:6, 4:7; 2 Cor. 4:3-6; Eph. 2:1-10.

        Once you have considered these passages, I would like to consider those key passages that state clearly that anything other than God’s quickening and calling grace does anything to remove the sinner’s disposition to resist God’s universal beneficence and his universal call of mercy.

      • February 13, 2015 at 3:01 pm

        Certainly am not trying to misrepresent you. But, you are writing as if your presuppositions are drawn from the Bible, but those you don’t agree with you are not.

        In the end we are both trying to interpret passages. And the process is often called a hermeneutical spiral (there is a book that has that title). As we study and learn we often need to go back and examine passages we thought we understood b/c the passages used to test our presuppositions are prone to other presuppositions.

        So we both agree that we must continually test our presuppositions and get them to line up with the Scriptures.

        You gave me quite a HW assignment, regarding the verses. 🙂

        I did read through them. If I were to summarize things at this point, we agree in what if often called “total depravity”. We agree that the Scriptures focus on God’s giving of His Son and of His enabling grace to a sinful people. There are multiple passages that focus on the spread of the Gospel/Kingdom and thus positive responses. We disagree on whether that enabling grace is resistible.

        The focus on people gladly accepting the gospel message neither proves nor disproves whether enabling grace is resistible.

        I would argue that it is resistible based in part on passages (like Matt 23:37-39 coupled with 2 Peter 3:9) that suggest that God wants all people to respond and is broken when they do not. This argument and other factors are well documented.

      • February 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm

        As you have stated the issue here, there is very little about which we disagree and yet our disagreement is monumental. We both agree that there is some factor that prevents God’s revealed desire that none perish. For you, his higher purpose is the preservation of the inviolability of free will. For me, his higher purpose is the manifestation of his glory. In my view, it is easier by far to demonstrate God’s revealed purpose–the manifestation of his glory– than it is to show any reference to “free will” as you have described it.

        You wrote:
        > The focus on people gladly accepting the gospel message neither proves nor disproves whether enabling grace is resistible.
        >

        That is the point I was making. You offered 1 Thess 2:13 as proof of the grant of free will through prevenient grace. My point agreed with your statement. If you wish to show proof for your view, you must seek it elsewhere.

        Whether I agree with the presuppositions is not the issue. I can show you biblical texts that support my presuppositions. Thus far, you have only suggested texts that I accept at face value and do not find to be at all in conflict with passages that reveal God’s effectual call in accordance with his electing purpose. I do not deny that taking all the pertinent biblical texts into account requires the ability to hold certain antinomies in tension.

        Just so you know, the term “irresistible grace” is not one I use. James packer reminded us that grace is only “irresistible” in that it removes our disposition to resist. (Not an exact quote).
        >

      • February 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm

        And no, our philosophical presuppositions don’t “determine” anything. Even my presupposition must be drawn from Scripture, not from my assumptions about what the situation must be to satisfy my individual sense of equity. I cannot simply say, “I believe free will exists, and therefore it must exist.” I have based my presuppositions about how sinners will always act apart from divine enablement on what the Scriptures actually say about how sinners will always act, even after God has flooded them with common grace.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 14, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        “You seem to want to read into the text some evidence that these people could have done otherwise at the point of conversion.”

        Randy, I think everybody is reading in to the text about what exactly happens at the point of conversion.

        This idea that a person can make a choice between two options is not something that is without merit. To say that a person could make a choice between two options when they are presented to them is pretty simple to prove by observation. That is the way it works out here in the real world. We see it everyday and we ourselves experience it every day. It is common and normal. Therefore, to say that when it comes to conversion a person can only choose to accept Christ, but not reject Him, I think you need clear biblical citations to prove that.

      • February 14, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        Of course people can make choices between two alternatives. They can even choose between more than two options that are presented to them. The question is whether they will choose an option they do not want. The world or Theology is the most “real world” you will ever encounter.

        The question of whether an elect person could reject Christ at the point of conversion is not the issue. The issue is whether any elect person who has been called/drawn by the Father ever does choose to reject him.

        Jesus not only said “no one can come to me unless the Father who has sent me should draw him” He also said, “and I will raise him up again at the last day.” This is the same language he has used two other times in this passage (Jn. 6:37-44). He has used this phrase of “all those the Father had given him” He said “he would lose nothing the Father had given him, BUT raise it up again at the last day” (v. 39). In other words, he would save all those the Father had given him. He uses the same language in verse 40 in reference to “all those who look on the Son and believe on him” thus equating “those given him by the Father” and “those who look on the Son and believe on him.” By using the same language in verse 44 he equates the people spoken of in all three verses. Those who look on the Son and believe are the same as those given him by the Father that he will never by any means cast out i.e. he will receive, and he will not lose any of them. And, those who look and believe and those whom the Father has given to the Son are the same as those drawn by the Father. If that is not clear enough, Jesus says in verse 45 “EVERYONE who has heard and has learned of the Father comes to me.”

        Additionally, Paul wrote in Romans 8:30, “. . .those he called, he also justified. . .” Unless you believe everyone who hears the outward proclamation of the gospel will be justified, you must believe the “call” here is something other than the universal call. Whether they could have resisted and rejected God’s call doesn’t really matter. The point is that no one who is thus called ever does. Everyone who has been called has been justified.

        You might also wish to read my latest post “I Am the Vine.”

      • February 14, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        “The question is whether they will choose an option they do not want. The world or Theology is the most “real world” you will ever encounter.”

        This argument always baffles me, because in the final analysis, a person CAN only choose one action. There is no secondary option that is available.

        In the non-theological world, people choose between two options they want ALL the time. A woman on a diet wants to lose weight, but she also wants to eat the chocolate cake. She has to choose between two things that she wants. Either choice she makes is based on something she desires.

        So a person could desire to follow Christ, but also desire to continue to date his non-Christian girlfriend, or any number of things. When confronted with choosing between two things we want, he has a real choice. To say he can only choose what he desires doesn’t work, because he desires both things.

      • February 14, 2015 at 3:21 pm

        We always choose according to our highest inclination.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 14, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        Hi Randy,

        Thanks for putting up with my questions. I value clarity over agreement on these things and that is why I keep asking questions.

        Is this what you are saying:

        1. Everyone has free will.

        2. Even though we have free will, nobody can choose Christ in an authentic and meaningful way until God changes their hearts first, because they are spiritually dead and must be brought from death to life (regeneration) first.

        3. Once this spiritually dead status has changed, the person can now choose Christ.

        4. This choice is a real choice. The person could choose to reject Christ and is completely free to do so if they so desire. However, nobody, once regenerated will ever, nor has ever desired to reject Christ.

        Is that about right?

      • February 14, 2015 at 9:39 pm

        I would prefer to say I believe in “free agency’s.” I agree with Calvin’s statement posted on my blog.

        I believe “Union with Christ” is that which alone enables anyone to perform anything that pleases God including the obedience of faith.

        Yes, I believe people are free to choose what the wish. God does not force people to believe against their wills. Again I quote James Packer who said, “Grace is only irresistible in that is removes our disposition to resist.”

      • February 14, 2015 at 9:51 pm

        Is “free agency” and “free will” essentially the same thing? If not, how do they differ, at least in regards to people being able to make choices.

        You seem to be a person who knows the Reformed view very well, and that is why I am asking this next question. I don’t know the answer, and hope you do.

        If a person who has been regenerated or who now has union with Christ, can truly choose to accept or reject Christ, how is their acceptance not some type of work? If they now must make a choice and they can choose one of two ways, does that not involves some type of involvement on their part?

      • February 15, 2015 at 1:35 am

        Jim,

        The issue of “free will” is not an easy one. I believe one reason for this is that many who use the term do not understand what they mean by it. It is possible to use the term and mean nothing more than “free agency,” i.e., that people retain the ability to freely choose what they wish. They are not controlled like a puppet or robot. Another reason for confusion is that most of us [I could not speak for every Reformed person] would not believe in philosophical determinism. In contrast to that we would believe in free will in the philosophical sense. It is my view that philosophical determinism destroys responsibility.

        When I deny a belief in “free will” I am denying the autonomy of the will. The will does not act independently of the person. Because I have been radically affected by sin in every part of my being, including the will, what I am is going to affect what I delight in. As you know, the biblical teaching is our issues are not external but internal. Jesus taught us that sin comes out of the heart [not the muscle] but the inner person. I do what I do because I am what I am at heart. He tells the Pharisees to “first clean the inside of the cup and the platter that the outside may be clean also.” All my thoughts, feelings, desires and actions are determined by what I am. This gets back to the classic question, “Are we sinners because we sin or do we sin because we are sinners? A Pelagian will answer one way; a Calvinist another. It is because I believe the will is not autonomous that I reject the term free will.

        One of the things I appreciate about Mike, thought he and I are on opposite sides of the aisle, is that he has at least defined what he means by free will. Most who use the term don’t seem to have the slightest clue what they mean by it

        Faith is not a work. It is crediting God with faithfulness. They way in which some think of faith and speak of faith seems to indicate that, at least in their thinking, it is determinative. That is, their decision is that which produces regeneration and renders Jesus’ work effectual. Apart from their decision, God can’t do anything. He has done all he can to save them and now they must do their part by choosing Jesus. It is that decision that is the decisive factor in salvation. According to that view, it is faith that prompts God to act.

        In my view, it is God who prompts faith to act. We do not believe God believes for us, but that we believe in response to his action. In that sense faith involves us. When I say we could have chosen to reject God’s promise I am not saying that anyone who is united to Christ ever does. I am merely making the point that God does not force us to believe against our wills. We believe because of his work in us. Faith does not spring out of a heart that is hostile toward God. It is no different in the life of the believer. We are commanded to obey but then are reminded that it is God who works in us to give us the desire obey and the ability to do so. Even if we obeyed perfectly, our obedience would not have merit before God [note: I did not say it would not please God because it does], because both the willing of it and the doing of it are the result of his work.

        It seems to me the view that faith is determinative is entirely different from the biblical teaching. If it is an autonomous and determinative decision that comes from the sinner, it would, in that case, be a work for which a sinner could boast. It would be an act that, in my view, is radically different from counting God faithful to keep his promises. Paul asked the Corinthians, “What do you have that you have not received? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it” (1 Cor. 4:7)? “It is of God that you are in Christ Jesus who is made wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord (1 Cor. 1: 30-31).

        I hope this is sufficiently clear to answer your questions. As much as I am enjoying our interchange, I must sign off for now. Since I must teach in Spanish tomorrow, I need to do a bit of additional preparation.

      • February 15, 2015 at 2:59 pm

        Hi Randy,

        That explanation brings some clarity to me!

        “When I say we could have chosen to reject God’s promise I am not saying that anyone who is united to Christ ever does. I am merely making the point that God does not force us to believe against our wills. We believe because of his work in us. ”

        I have a difficult time accepting this explanation, though I do recognize that this could indeed be the way it is! I have a hard time wrapping my head around the logic of it all. I fully admit that when a person comes to Christ, God’s grace is needed for that to happen. But what actually happens on the inside of a person when God’s grace is extended to them and how it all works is similar to the back end of a website. I have no idea how WordPress works, I only know that when I hit the “send” button, my comment shows up!

        In the same way, both of us would agree than unless a person embraces Christ and His gospel, they shall not be saved. My hesitation to accept the view you explained so well, is that it makes it seem like a person does not really have a choice. When we say that they could choose to reject Christ, but nobody ever has or ever will, that seems to be a clever way of masking the reality that there really is not a choice to be made. There is only one real outcome available: accept Christ.

        We have absolutely nothing else in this world to compare this to. When presented with a real life or death situation, people will not always choose to save their own lives. Sometimes, they will choose to give up their live, to save others or for any number of other reasons. So If this is how it really works at the moment of conversion, then it is the only situation in which human beings, presented with two very real options, only and always choose the same option. That makes it a very special case.

        I’m sure you have thought this through and don’t have the same issues with it as I do! Though I don’t consider myself an Arminian, I think this idea of having freedom to chose, but only choosing one thing always, is a tough hurdle to jump over.

        This is a side question: How is the state of the church in Costa Rica?

      • February 15, 2015 at 9:20 pm

        Jim,

        There are certain issues we may never completely understand. I do not pretend to understand every teaching of the Scripture from a logical standpoint. There are certain issues we are called on to believe that we will never fully understand. I hope I have at least clarified the position I hold.

        Thanks for asking about the work in CR. We are working in one of the more staunchly RC areas of the country. As a result, many people here are suspicious of us as Evangelical Christians. Yet, God is blessing the teaching of the Word here. Little by little people are bring friends and family to hear the Word and they appear to be receptive. We are working among campesinos (peasants) that live about an hour’s drive from the capital city of San Jose. We are trying to help many of them with basic necessities as well as teaching the Word. We would appreciate your prayers for God’s provision for this ministry.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • 73 Michael Gleason
        February 17, 2015 at 1:18 pm

        “My hesitation to accept the view you explained so well, is that it makes it seem like a person does not really have a choice. When we say that they could choose to reject Christ, but nobody ever has or ever will, that seems to be a clever way of masking the reality that there really is not a choice to be made. There is only one real outcome available: accept Christ.”

        Why is this a barrier? We’re not talking about choices between two things that we value. We’re taling about the choice either between the sin that I love and the God that I hate, or the sin that I hate and the God that I love.

        Let’s say I invite you over to my house for dinner. I offer you two choices: you can eat steak, or you can eat dung. If I offered you a choice between steak and pasta, you might go either way – maybe you like both. But unfortunately I didn’t have pasta, so that’s not on the menu: steak or dung.

        You could choose to eat dung, but given that choice, barring serious mental health issues, nobody ever has or ever will. One could even say there is not really a choice to be made. There is only one real outcome available: eating steak.

        The man described in Romans 1-3, when presented with the choice of accepting or rejecting Christ, sees his sin as steak and Christ as dung. Guess which he’s going to choose? Yes, he could in theory make either choice, but as a practical matter, he always chooses one way.

        The man whose eyes and heart God has opened, when presented with the choice of accepting or rejecting Christ, sees his sin as dung and Christ as steak. Guess which way he’s going to choose?

      • February 17, 2015 at 1:29 pm

        Michael,

        Thanks for commenting. That is precisely the point.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      • February 18, 2015 at 12:12 am

        @Randy

        We always choose according to our highest inclination.

        That is how you understand and define free will. Not everyone defines it that way. 🙂

      • February 18, 2015 at 1:46 am

        I never assumed they did Mike.

  9. February 12, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    Our friend Carmen has just shared an excellent quotation from Martin Luther who said, “If I don’t know who does what in salvation, I shall never know if I should worship myself or God.”

  10. February 17, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Hi Michael,

    My point is that people can make that choice and do all the time. The option between steak and dung is rather offensive, but even Christians make that choice. A male pastor in my town chose to take drugs and have sex with a male prostitute. Godly pastors choose to have affairs and leave their wives. Pornography is rampant among Christian men in the church, if you believe the studies. So in the real world that you and I live in, even Christian men, when faced with a choice to embrace Christ or embrace filth, sometimes choose filth and sometimes choose Christ. That is what it looks like when there is a real choice to be made.

    In the case of conversion, the reformed position is that people can indeed choose to reject Christ, but no one ever does, ever has or ever will. Practically speaking, that means their really isn’t a choice to make. If there were truly an option to reject Christ, someone, somewhere would reject him.

    I understand what Randy has said. I think Randy has answered it well from his perspective: Some things that we are called upon to believe, we may never fully understand.

    Personally, I am not as convinced as Randy!

    • February 18, 2015 at 1:42 am

      Jim,
      I am aware that you did not address these questions to me, but I would like to add my two cents for what it is worth.

      It seems to me you are addressing two separate issues. One concerns how people come to faith; the other concerns why those who have been made partakers of the divine nature have not yet been made perfect in holiness. In my view, the first question is answered much more clearly than the second. It should be fairly clear that if God justifies all those he calls, the call must always be effectual. If it makes more sense to you to say that at that point the poor sinner loses his power of free will so that he can make only one choice, so be it.

      The other question is more complicated. We who would in some measure consider ourselves Reformed would agree that even in the best of believers, sin remains though it does not have the mastery. It is my view that it is theoretically possible for a believer to live without sin. If a person should continuously live his life in dependence on and in obedience to the Holy Spirit, which, of course, involves obedience to the Word, he would not fulfill the desires of the flesh. Do I believe that will ever happen? No!

      Additionally, I think many Christians continue to have a bit of a defeatist attitude because they do not understand that sin’s dominion has been broken. We are told not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies because sin shall not reign. We are exhorted to obey based on the reality that we have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection.

      We would have a problem with our position if there were a Scripture that stated that everyone God calls will immediately be entirely sanctified so that we never sin again. I know of no such Scripture. The issue is whether a person who is called inwardly will refuse to trust God’s promise, not whether such a person will always make wise and holy decisions after he has been converted. Those are completely distinct issues. If the Scripture explicitly stated such a proposition, we would believe that too. Scripture, not rational deduction is our standard of truth and error. No one thinks everyone who is called effectually will always make wise and proper choices. We do believe is that everyone whom God calls into union with Christ will persevere in faith for the remainder of his life. Any person who chooses to turn his back on Christ and the gospel gives evidence that he/she has never been united to Christ at all.

      It appears to me that you assume that all who profess faith in Christ are truly Christians. This is clearly not our belief. The pastors and others you mentioned who were addicted to porn may be true Christians who are acting out of character with themselves as Christians. We can only know that by their repentance. They may not be true believers at all. As long as they persist in sin, we would have to assume they are not truly believers. One thing of which we can be certain is that if they openly profess that they are not believers in Christ, they never were true believers.

      So yes, a true believer in Christ will always choose faith in Christ over sin even when he acts as an unbeliever would act. We all act in ways, probably every day, which is more like what we used to be than what we are now. Why we act that way is another huge discussion that we don’t have time for now.

      • February 18, 2015 at 4:26 am

        Hi Randy,

        Thanks for the reply.

        Regarding the second point, I think you and I agree entirely. I just brought it up for illustration purposes. Of course believers say yes to sin, instead of yes to Jesus at times. That is why sanctification in a lifelong process.

        “It appears to me that you assume that all who profess faith in Christ are truly Christians.” Not even close!

        “If it makes more sense to you to say that at that point the poor sinner loses his power of free will so that he can make only one choice, so be it.”

        It does make more logical sense to me to say it that way and it is quite refreshing to hear you say it that way!

        In the end, all of us in this internal family debate (well most of us) believe that salvation is found in no else but Jesus and that God’s grace is needed in some way for each one to choose Christ. As I look at the world and how it actually works, it seems there is absolutely nothing that hinders a person from coming to Christ WHEN God’s grace is extended to them. How he extends his grace, I don’t know and I don’t think anyone does.

  11. February 17, 2015 at 11:45 pm

    I don’t believe anyone choose Christ from ‘natural’ free will. Those who choose Christ do so from a ‘freed’ will that, when faced with the true nature of sin and God’s judgment, and God’s pouring out his wrath upon his Son, will choose Christ. They are those who have been ‘given’ to the Son and who WILL always come and never be cast out.

    • February 18, 2015 at 12:21 am

      You had me up to the “WILL always come” part. 🙂

      No one is arguing that man comes to faith through ‘natural’ free will, but rather a ‘freed’ will.
      We just differ on whether a will must be regenerated in order to be ‘freed’.
      And whether a ‘freed’ will WILL always choose faith in Christ.

      If a regenerated person with a freed will ALWAYS comes to faith, why do they not ALWAYS choose not to sin after that point?

      • February 18, 2015 at 1:03 am

        Something supernatural must happen for any man to freely choose Christ. Except a man be born again (regenerated) he cannot see the kingdom of God. See Romans 7, my friend. We have a new nature encased in sinful flesh. Prevenient grace sounds swell, however as Randy has said it is not taught in scripture. There are verses one can use to try and say that it is, but I’m still trying to find a single instance in the text of God opening someone’s heart to the gospel and that someone considering it and rejecting it. God draws and Jesus lifts up (John 6 again).

      • February 18, 2015 at 4:48 am

        Born4Battle:

        “I’m still trying to find a single instance in the text of God opening someone’s heart to the gospel and that someone considering it and rejecting it”

        It seems to me that this may not be entirely fair. We can’t actually see the opening of the heart, so we don’t know it has happened. Of course we believe this has happened, when someone comes to Christ, but there is not a lot of scripture we can point to that specifically states this. How would we know it did not happen if someone rejects Him? The fact that you don’t see this specifically stated in scripture does not mean it doesn’t happen.

        We do see people rejecting Christ, that is certain.

        “For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

        “He has blinded their eyes
        and hardened their hearts,
        so they can neither see with their eyes,
        nor understand with their hearts,
        nor turn—and I would heal them.”

        It seems clear that they could have believed if God had not blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts. If he had not done that, they could have seen with their eyes, understood with their hearts and turn to Him.

  12. February 18, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Yes, Jim, we see people willingly receiving Christ and we see some rejecting him. Are you saying that man is able to come to Christ in his natural state if God doesn’t harden the heart?

    • February 18, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      No, I am not saying that at all. The church has been pretty clear on this issue, in fact it is universally accepted by the entire church that a person can not come to faith in Christ without God’s grace. What is not clear, and has divided the protestant church over the past 500 years, is how that works and what it looks like. How is God’s grace extended to the people of the world? We don’t really know.

      How do you explain what is happening in that verse?

      • February 18, 2015 at 7:31 pm

        It seems to me this discussion has gone as long as it needs to go apart from some clarification. I don’t like to be misrepresented and I don’t want anyone else to be misrepresented. I want to try to clarify what everyone is saying, and if I get it wrong, I want you to correct me. Let me first try to talk about areas in which I think we agree. Then, I want to mention the issues that I think separate us.

        Areas of agreement:

        1. Though there may be a Pelagian or two wandering by who would disagree with this, thus far those involved in this discussion agree that sinners are born in a state of depravity that extends to every facet of the personality, including the will. No one is born with a free will, though everyone freely possesses the capacity to choose anything he/she desires.

        2. No one has the ability to come to faith apart from divine enabling.

        3. We all believe in preceding grace of some sort, though we disagree concerning the nature and effectiveness of that grace.

        4. I suspect we would all agree that not everyone who professes faith in Christ is a genuine believer.

        5. We all agree that no one could be put right with God apart from Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice.

        Areas of disagreement:

        1. The monergists among us believe sinners continue in a state of inability [what we would call natural depravity or total inability] until the point of conversion and the synergists among us believe that at some [as yet undefined] point every sinner receives prevenient grace from God that frees his will and enables him to respond favorably to the gospel though it in no way secures this response. It is conceivable that everyone who has received this grace could continue in rebellion against God and perish in sin.

        2. The monergists believe according to what we would argue are clear statements of Scripture that “coming to Christ” is the inexorable result of divine calling or drawing that unites those called to Christ. No one can come apart from this divine calling and everyone who is called will be justified. I have offered several passages in which this is taught explicitly.
        The synergists believe every sinner is granted preceding grace that in some way removes his inability to repent and believe. That is, this prevenient grace grants free will to everyone. Thus far, no one has offered to show a biblical reference that states that God has granted universal grace that goes beyond what we monergists call common grace. Additionally, no one has produced biblical evidence to show that sinners who have received what I would consider the highest manifestation of God’s common grace, namely, the proclamation of God’s terms of peace in the gospel accompanied by the Spirit’s ministry of reproof, are any less obdurate toward God and the gospel than any other sinner. Such sinners still consider the gospel folly and a scandal and they “ALWAYS resist the Holy Spirit.”

        3. Monergists believe it is God alone who makes the difference between sinners, so that he alone receives the glory that they are in Christ. Synergists believe [Here I am quoting from MikeB when answering “What makes the difference between one sinner and another?”] it is “libertarian free will” that distinguishes one sinner from another. Perhaps one of you could explain why a sinner who has distinguished himself from the pack by using his “free will” more wisely than the rest has no reason to boast. If prevenient grace has been granted to all, it is clearly not God through grace who has distinguished him from others. He and he alone has distinguished himself from them by his wise choice. Why should he not boast?

        4. Synergists believe Jesus’ redemptive work, though sufficient for all and intended to save all, saves no one who does not cooperate with God’s prevenient grace by believing the gospel.

        Monergists believe Jesus’ death, though sufficient for all due to its intrinsic value, was intended to infallibly secure the salvation of God’s chosen people. Our faith has nothing to do with activating his redemptive accomplishments. Jesus’ redemptive work was an objective accomplishment. It is simply that the redemption already fully accomplished is applied to us through faith.

        Though I thoroughly enjoy mental exercise, it is my view that this discussion is less than useless until someone from the synergist side of the aisle can present Scriptures we can get our teeth into that show the following:

        1. That God has declared that he has granted “free will” to sinners universally. Mind you, Monergists don’t deny the ability of sinners to choose anything we desire. That ability was never lost and does not need to be granted either through prevenient grace or through effectual calling.

        2. When God granted this “prevenient grace” to all sinners.

        3. How sinners that are severed from Christ can produce anything that is good and well-pleasing to God, such as faith eminently is.

        4. Why sinners who have improved on God’s grant of “free will” by making their decision for Jesus [sounds like he running for public office] should not boast about their choice that was totally unaided by God. If the granting of universal “prevenient grace” is not effective in actually bringing anyone to saving faith and God’s assistance to the sinner ends with that grant, the choice itself—that which actually distinguishes one sinner from another—must be unaided by God.

        I never like to cut off the discussion of any important issue, but I find it less than useless to continue to debate about the logical necessities of someone’s philosophical presuppositions that have no foundation in Scripture. Whether you can get your head logically wrapped around the teaching of effectual calling is not really the issue. It is our view that it is plainly taught in the Scriptures. Unless you can show from plain statements of Scripture, not philosophical inferences, that God has universally granted “free will” to sinners, it is absolutely futile to continue the discussion.

  13. February 18, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Randy, I agree with you about futility! I only responded to Born4Battle because he responded to me. This has been a great discussion and I thank you for it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: