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Monday, March 21, 2011 | Comments (190)

Let me ask you a theological question: Are you born again which results in your believing in Christ, or does your faith in Christ result in your being born again? Maybe you think I’m just playing with words, but how you answer that question significantly affects what you believe about man’s sin, God’s salvation, and more important, your eternal security.

Natural Born Sinners

The Bible is crystal clear about our condition before we came to Christ. All of us come from a different personal background. I may be from a poor family, whereas you come from a rich family; others of us lived moral lives, while still others lived shameful, ungodly lives. Whatever the case, we were all sinners in need of a Savior.

That’s exactly what the Bible tells us in Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18 and Ephesians 4:17-19. Those passages reveal a couple of important truths about our sinful nature.

First, we were separated from any true, intimate fellowship with God, and we lacked spiritual understanding of His ways. For example, Romans 3:11 says, “There is none who seeks after God,” and Ephesians 4:18 speaks to how we were “darkened,” “alienated,” “ignorant,” and “blind.” Sounds harsh, doesn’t it.

Second, we were spiritual rebels. Romans 3:18 specifically says we had “no fear of God” before our eyes; and Romans 1:18 explains how we all suppressed the truth of God, trying to excuse away our obligation to Him. Rather than choosing to live in obedience to God's laws, we willingly gave ourselves over to lewdness and uncleanness.

In short, when we were all without Christ, we hated God and wanted nothing to do with Him.

If our salvation had been left up to us, we would never have sought it. Nothing could have persuaded us or moved us to faith in Christ, not even the most eloquent preachers or the most compelling arguments. We would have cheerfully continued living lives in willful disobedience to God.

That’s a bleak description, but according to the Bible, it is the spiritual reality of all people, without exception. The only hope we have is a miracle—a profound and radical change of our hearts and minds.

Born Again from Above

Thankfully, the Bible tells us the miraculous change we need has happened before, and it continues to happen. In theological terms, the change is called regeneration. Regeneration occurs when God’s Spirit performs a supernatural work to change our hearts. In a sermon on the subject of regeneration, John MacArthur described it as God producing new life.

For those of us who have experienced the miracle of regeneration, we testify to the reality of a new spiritual life. We no longer desire to seek a sinful lifestyle, but we turn toward belief in the gospel and the pursuit of godliness. It’s a work that turned us from being God haters to being God lovers.

You’ll find the doctrine of regeneration throughout the Scriptures.

Notice how the apostle John describes regeneration as new birth. In John 3:1-15, Jesus told Nicodemus that to see the Kingdom of God, he had to be “born again,” or “born from above.” Jesus continued to explain the new birth as a divine work, something God does. John later used that same terminology, “born of God,” in his first epistle— 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, and 18.

Paul wrote about regeneration in terms of being raised from the dead. Ephesians 2:5 says sinners who were once “dead in sins” have been “made alive with Christ” (cf. Colossians 2:13). And in Titus 3:5, Paul is explicit—“He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

James uses the expression brought us forth to describe regeneration in James 1:18, and Peter used a description similar to John’s when he defined regeneration as born again or begetting anew in 1 Peter 1:23.

Thinking About Our New Life

If we consider what the Bible teaches about the sinful state of men and our need for regeneration, the certainty of our eternal security comes into sharp focus.

First, regeneration is a divine work. It originates with our omnipotent God. He alone is the one who initiates the work of regeneration, changing our sinful hearts to seek out His Son for salvation. I like how the apostle John put it in his gospel, “who were born [that’s regeneration], not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

When God performed His regenerating work in our hearts, He implanted a new principle of righteousness. We are re-oriented toward God so that we now understand spiritual things and no longer wish to pursue ungodliness.

Paul pictures this divine work as a new creation. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that if we are in Christ, “we are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” By definition a “new creation” is something that never before existed.

As Christians, you and I are something new, specially brought into existence by God. As new creations, we now see things with an eternal perspective. Old desires, beliefs, philosophies, and mindsets are “done away with.”

Since God is the author of regeneration, His power is the guarantee that the new life He created will carry out the characteristics of that new life. God did not bring new creations into existence so they would continue pursuing sin.

So, think about it. If we could lose our salvation, what does that say about the power of God to change us? How could we trust God in other areas of our lives, or in anything, if His saving power may end up being powerless?

Second, regeneration is a purposeful work. Paul explains in Ephesians 2:4-10 that the key reason God raised us up in regeneration was so His grace, love, and kindness would be on display. We are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10). God has regenerated us for a purpose: to display His glory in our lives. If we could lose our salvation, which would defeat the purpose of God changing us to begin with, then what would be the point of saving us? How could passages like Ephesians 2:10 still be true?

Third, regeneration is permanent. All the passages about God’s regenerating power reveal it as a permanent work. In fact, so permanent is His work that Paul can speak of our future glorification in the past tense – Romans 8:30; God has predestined, called, justified, and glorified us. Our salvation is so certain, so sure, it’s like we are already in heaven with God!

Now, let me come back to the question I raised at the beginning. What’s the sequence—do we first believe in Christ, and then become born again? Or, are we born again and then put our faith in Christ? What you believe about that sequence has everything to do with your understanding of the new birth, and more to the point of this series, the permanence of divine salvation.

If faith comes first, and then the new birth, it will be easy for you to fall into the error of conditional security. After all, if your personal faith initiated your new life in Christ, it makes sense that your faithlessness can remove you from that relationship too. (I say it makes sense because it’s a logical conclusion, but it has no biblical support.)

However, if you understand and accept what the Bible teaches about the new birth, you recognize it was God and God alone who produced your new life in Christ. And that makes all the difference in the world.

If the almighty God brought you forth by the word of truth (James 1:18), if the sovereign God purposed to elect and glorify you—and God’s power and purpose are never thwarted—then you have a rock-solid foundation for absolute confidence in divine salvation. If you are truly saved, then you truly possess eternal life.

Fred Butler
Volunteer Ministries Coordinator


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#1  Posted by Terry Burnett  |  Monday, March 21, 2011 at 5:38 PM

Thanks Fred. It never hurts to be reminded of this wonderful truth!

-Terry Burnett

#2  Posted by Scott Davidson  |  Monday, March 21, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Fred, Your not play on words really had me thinking hard. Would not one have to be changed first then after seeing what was being done through that change then have faith in what Jesus was doing in their life then continue to grow in their faith. God calls His elect and through that drawing us to Him we are made a new creation, how could that new creation have faith before they are made new?

#3  Posted by Steve Nuhn  |  Monday, March 21, 2011 at 10:39 PM


Thank you again for such a clear and concise biblical explanation of the doctrine of regeneration. What a self examining question to begin the discussion. I've been looking forward to the follow up you eluded to in your previous blog and you've more than answered many of the questions I had.

I'm truly grateful for the work you're doing and the work being done by all the GTY staff and volunteers.


#4  Posted by Craig Langford  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 5:29 AM


I seem to be missing something here... is regeneration not the same as salvation?

If one reads through Romans 9 and 10, it appears clear that if you believe (i.e. have faith in) then you will be saved. Though God's election of His people is of His own free choice and not based on human merit (Rom.9:11,23), the elect are not saved without believing the message that is preached by those who are sent (Isa.52:7)

Like many others, I too am extremely grateful to GTY ministries for many valuable lessons, sermons and Biblical truths that have been made available on-line!

A brother in Christ,


#5  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 5:56 AM

I was blind, but now I see. I was dead but now I live

This is words we hear and use all the time. It is part of Christian vocabulary. We are dealing with words all day long.

But contemplate on these words an hour or two, and you will see how loaded these words are with meaning, and how it explains the gift God gave to us.

But do you really see, and are you really alive to the things of God?

That seems to be the question.... Do you?

Your mouth and your heart will reveal it.

#6  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 8:01 AM

Craig, #4,

Regeneration is certainly a part of salvation, but it is uniquely defined in scripture as a divine work of God that awakens the sinner to spiritual things and imparts saving faith so the sinner will believe upon Christ. Like in Acts 16:14 when God is said to have opened the heart of Lydia so that she heeded the things spoken by Paul. In other words, regenerated to believe the Gospel.

#7  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Hi Fred,

I hope you plan on touching the different heresies that have come along as a result of those who believe there was something in themselves that allowed them to "first" believe.

Arminianism , semi-Arminianism, Pelagianism & Semi-Pelagianism all come to mind. What I have found within the past year while searching for a church home, which was shocking at first,but shouldn't have been surprising, is how much of this prevails in the Southern Baptist Convention among others who have a general history of sound theology.

I also believe that they are very dangerous because it borders and/or crosses over, often times in my opinion based on my understanding of Scripture, as heresy and /or blasphemy. Most have sound theology on most fronts, but this aspect of "something in man's inherit will" allows men to choose to believe as opposed to what we are taught in

2 Corinthians 3:14, where it is Christ who removes the veil of our blindness.

God bless those at Grace to You and may God continue to richly bless all of you through the ministry He has given all of you the privilege to be part of; including my family.


#8  Posted by Cristian Balint  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 1:01 PM

if we cannot lose salvation then how come Jesus makes the bold statements in John 15, that if we don't remain in Jesus than "you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."John 15.6 ? It just doesn't make sense... once saved, forever saved.

#9  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 1:46 PM

The main question to this doctrine is not so much about if it is true, but how it can be any comfort. If you really believe you are among the elect, but were not elected from before time began, then you will instead spend your entire life fearing you will lose it at the end, because your name is not in the book?

#10  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 1:49 PM

#8 Cristian, Those people were never saved to begin with, they might have had fellowship with Christians, and even acted like a Christian for a time but were never truly born again. 1 John 2:19 talks about the people who leave never having it to begin with.

#11  Posted by John Welch  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM


Jesus did say that, but IF you do not remain, THEN you were not truly saved in the first place.....a counterfeit salvation, in which case you will be thrown into the fire. The true sheep hear His voice.

#12  Posted by Andre Serfontein  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Fred, thanks for the post, I totally agree that saving faith comes from God. I do not believe in salvation though works.

I would like to point out though that something is missing in the process of regeneration you've described. Faith cannot come by man and is only granted by God, BUT, in salvation there is something required from man before that step, before faith is given and before regeneration can start.

Consider the parable of the sower in Mark 4:

- This parable is the key to all other (Mark 14:13).

- The seed is the Word of salvation - the gospel (Matt 13:19).

- Jesus is the Sower (Matt 13:37).

But this gospel message of the “preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost” (1 Cor 1:18). So the gospel message that “Jesus has died on the cross for the sins of the whole world” does not make sense to a lot of people (sinners). (Also see John 3:16). That is why we have the seed of the gospel falling on the wayside, in the rocky ground and between the thorns. Why is that?

The answer is that what is required from the person is "understanding".

Matt 13:19: "When anyone hears the Word of the kingdom and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and catches away that which was sown in his heart."

Understanding is not faith. We're not there yet :-) Understanding is a clear grasp of the gospel. All are wicked in the eyes of God (Psalm 7:11) and in sin we run from the Light (John 3:20). Something is required to open the sinners eyes, to make his heart and mind grasp the gospel. What is this?

1 Tim 1:8-9: "the law is good if a man uses it lawfully, ... the law is not made for a righteous one, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners...”.

The Law cannot be kept through works, because the purpose of the Law is to give people clear knowledge of their sin. “because by the works of the Law none of all flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law is the knowledge of sin.” (Rom 3:20)

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4)

As disciples of Christ we are free from the Law but not sinners. We have to turn sinners hearts into good soil first, before before we sow (Matt 28:19) the seed of the Word of the kingdom. Always remember “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul;” (Psalm 19:7)

The Bible clearly teaches man must understand the gospel before the seed can truly grow into a strong fruit bearing tree (Mark 4:21-32). Understanding of WHY the sinner needs a Saviour only comes through clearly understanding his/her sinfulness. The Law is God's standard sinners will be judged against. The Law opens the heart, prepares it for understanding and changes the heart into good soil.

Once the person understands the gospel, and need for a Saviour, God enters the heart, plants the seed of faith and nurture and care for it to grow and regenerate the heart.

Blessings to all.

#13  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 5:51 PM

When I recieve a bible when I was 10 and no one told me about Jesus.

I meant the truth. I had to read it and my brother taught me about

Jesus and explained the scriptures 5 yrs later. Hmm. I learn it's

might be better if I was taught about Jesus' saving plan for us as

a small child. Right, I must not look back.

Good posts.

#14  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Cristian (#8)

The branches that do not bear fruit are not Christians. They are like the seed which did not fall on good soil (Luke 8:5-8). They may well be among Christians and profess to be Christian but they are the ones of whom Christ will say, “I never knew you; depart from me” (Matthew 7:22-23). Had they undergone regeneration,they would have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, and the fruit of the Spirit would be produced in their lives (Gal. 5:22-23). If there is no fruit, then there is no true faith (James 2:17).

#15  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Andre #12,

I would think any understanding we have for the gospel and its implications would be divinely granted too. Remember what I stated in the article from Ephesians 4:18, our understanding as sinners was darkened. If it is darkened to begin with, how exactly would our understanding be able to act upon the gospel without the Lord first regenerating our hearts? Or am I misreading you?


#16  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 6:28 PM

#8 Posted by Cristian Balint - Response

John 15:6

"If any one abide not in me" (DRV)

"If anyone does not abide in Me (NAS)

"Unless a person abides in me" (NIV)

"If a man abide not in me" (KJV)

You need to pay close attention to the word "if" and/or "unless". If one truly abides in Christ, then that one is Christ's and if one does NOT abide in Christ he is condemned.

John 15 is one of the best chapters in all of Scripture on the sovereignty of God in all aspects of salvation, the security of the believer and the love relationship between the Son and the Father and His children. Also, the bad news of the false or "professing" Christian.

If you cannot see this from the plain reading of John 15, then I would, in love, ask you to ask yourself the following: "why should God allow me into His kingdom and on what basis"?

Think of being born in general; what did you do to participate in your natural or carnal birth? Nothing. Likewise; what did you do in regards to your spiritual "new birth" as one who was dead in their trespasses and sins? (Ephesians 2:1) If you say anything except "NOTHING", then search the Scriptures and learn what the character of one who is dead means from a spiritual standpoint; it is no different than the earthly dead - no ability to feel, move, or respond to anything. Notice in Ephesians 2:1 the One who was & is able to resuscitate a spiritually dead corpse.

Look at Jame 1:16-18 and notice that all good and perfect gifts come from where? Above (AKA: Heaven or God) Is salvation a gift? Is it good? Is it perfect? Verse 18 tells us the Who and the how associated with this "new birth". Then jump down to James 1:21 and note that something/someone Special in implanted and is able to save one's soul. In the Old Testament I encourage you to read Ezekiel 36:22-36 and you will see the New Birth and the One who performs it and if you pay close attention; He performs this for His namesake and makes it clear it is in spite of their spiritual condition, which was as good as DEAD.

Salvation from justification to full redemption/glorification is the work of God and we are privileged. obligated, and desirous to participate in our sanctification or shall we prefer chastening?. Oh may the grace of God abound to all Christians that we may be useful slaves to the perfect Master and bear much fruit according to His will.

#17  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 6:52 PM

Augustine said "I believe in order to understand." I agree with Fred #15, regeneration comes before understanding. Remember, before regeneration, our spirits are dead, incapable of anything.

#18  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 6:55 PM

#12 Posted by Andre Serfontein

First, the seed is the gospel in the parable. Second the sower is anyone who can present the gospel. Third, the soil is the heart or soul of a man and the "good" soil represents the heart of the man that does receive the word of God, does persevere, and does produce fruit. Why? Because the fourth soil is supernaturally prepared and by Whom? God. So unless God prepares the heart; then the word is not going to persevere nor produce fruit, which means they will not be saved. God prepares and God saves to the uttermost!

If you think about it; the soil that bears fruit is free of rocks, free of weeds and thorns, and is really unnatural to the area; it must be prepared just like a regular farmer must do the same to produce "fruit".

Thus the natural man cannot understand the things of God, but the supernatural work of God on the heart of men allows men to have faith and believe the gospel.

This parable is in Luke, Matthew, and Mark and if you look at a small but very significant rhetorical question from the Lord, which demands a "you won't understand" answer; pay attention everyone. Mark 4:13 Jesus says the following: ""Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?" Answer? You won't.

I have tried to exhaust the study of this parable for this very reason and understanding it does allow one to understand the other parables and much more concerning the word of God.

So unless God first prepares the heart to receive the Word, then no amount of seed is going to "stick:, much less convert a soul.

Do you see what you missed and do you now see that nothing is missing as you supposed.

John MacArthur has preached over 5.5 hours on at least 6-7 messages from the various gospels on this one parable; I suggest listening to them all with bible in hand. I promise you will be enlightened if you are new in Christ or been walking with Him for a long time.

#20  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 7:32 PM

There are many texts that support regeneration preceding any action, faith, or repentance on the part of are a few that come to mind:

"The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14

The text above states emphatically that the carnal/natural man CANNOT understand spiritual things apart from the Holy Spirit's indwelling. It is not that he simply does not or will not understand...he cannot.

"We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." 1 John 4:6

The text above indicates that one's ability to listen/understand the truth of the Gospel depends upon them knowing God and being from God. This is in keeping with what Jesus taught in John chapter 6.

"When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ." Colossians 2:13

The text above certainly states that God made us alive when we were dead in sins and uncircumcision. The text does not say God made us alive after we exercised faith.

#22  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 7:44 PM

#9 Posted by Rudi Jensen

"The main question to this doctrine is not so much about if it is true, but how it can be any comfort. If you really believe you are among the elect, but were not elected from before time began, then you will instead spend your entire life fearing you will lose it at the end, because your name is not in the book?"

If you are not among the elect, then you hate God just as the Christian hated God before his conversion; therefore you won't care nor notice. In fact, man runs away from God in his natural state.

It is true that one can have a false sense of security and equally true that one can half a false sense of insecurity. So one must examine themselves to see if they are in the faith unless they fail the test, as Paul put it. 1 John was written so that you may know.

What is the pattern and direction of your life; it should be seeking the things of God and your relationship with God in love and obedience to Him and your relation to sin should be changing at the same time.

Although I sin less, they seem much larger than ever; why? Because I am more sensitive to the word of God and thus more sensitive when I am disobedient or rebellious and I don't like the chastening nor being displeasing or bring reproach on my beloved Father, beloved Lord nor the beloved Holy Spirit.

The two main reason, in my opinion, as to why people are concerned about whether or not they are truly saved is 1) a lack of diligent reading and studying of the word of God and 2) a false conversion. That is just my opinion, because most people calling themselves Christian are not reading their Bible. How does one come to claim to love one they no nothing about???

I also believe that true security is a blessing given by the grace of God for those that strive in obedience to His word and His love. I'm not talking works. I'm talking about walking in the spirit as described in Galatians 5:16 and the result in Galatians 5:22-24.

#23  Posted by Andre Serfontein  |  Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Fred #15

Yes you are correct in that God is the source of the understanding we need to hear the gospel and He is also the source for the faith we must have in His death and resurrection 2000 years ago.

My point is that we are as sinners incapable of good or of seeking God. We cannot come to faith on our own and we cannot understand both the gospel and our sinfulness measured against the Law on our own. God's Hand is in both.

Our hearts are darkened and in our sinful state we run from the Light. But the Holy Spirit is the one who does the convicting of our conscience so we can see our sinfulness and grant us the understanding for the need of a Saviour.

Jesus speaking of the Holy Spirit - John 16:8 "And when that One comes, He will convict the world concerning sin, and concerning righteousness, and concerning judgement."

This fits perfectly with Psalm 19:7 that says the Law is perfect for converting the soul. Also Rom 2:15 that states that ALL men has the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness of that.

The Holy Spirit is the one that will convince ALL men of their sin. It does not mean all will come to salvation. Only after choosing to be sorry and to turn from sin and seek a Saviour, does God grant the person the faith required to believe the Gospel.

Mark 1:15 "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draws near. Repent, and believe the gospel.".

2 Cor 7:10 "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation"

#24  Posted by Michael Riccardi  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:04 AM

Great post, Fred! Very clear, and it's awesome how a monergistic view of regeneration undergirds the confidence we can have in God to keep us, causing us to persevere to the end.

The question of which comes first -- regeneration or faith -- is an important one. If we understand the nature of our spiritual death, we will understand that we cannot do anything to cooperate in making ourselves alive. And Scripture is clear who the decisive agent in regeneration is (John 3:6-8; Ac 13:48; 1Jn 5:1). If anyone's interested, I developed this theme some time ago over at my place.

Looking forward to the rest of your series!

#25  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 2:12 AM

Comment deleted by user.
#26  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 6:20 AM

"Only after choosing to be sorry and to turn from sin and seek a Saviour, does God grant the person the faith required to believe the Gospel."

That view is decidedly Arminian. Once again we see a universal working of the Holy Spirit who is repeatedly frustrated in His attempts to "woo" sinners to believe only to succeed by the will of the creature.

There numerous problems with that are a few:

As has been defended on Fred's previous blog Universal Atonement is an unteneble position-

Wicked, carnal men cannot choose life. Apart from a radical transformation called regeneration they cannot choose to be sorry and seek christ ("The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." 1 Corinthians 2:14)-

No sinner in his natural state seeks God or his Christ (see Romans 3: 9-12 "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.")-

Spiritual life is given by God to men while they are still dead in sin (see Colossians 2:13 as noted above)

The Gospel carries with it the power to regenerate men: "For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction." 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

Only the elect, the called of God, receive the Gospel as God's power unto salvation: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God... Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Corinthians 1

#27  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 7:20 AM

#22 Mark

Thanks Mark, I tryed to make a definition, to come to grips with it, but failed.

Your definition says it all. All by God, and our lives will produce fruits showing He is at work in us, or not.

#28  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 8:17 AM

I got a little mouse in the house while cleaning. It's like sin in our

bodies that wears out the fountations and we must search and trap

it with God's word. Then give it to God to clease us. One little sin

can destroy the fountation that the Holy Spirit can't abide it.

Just a thought, well back to cleaning and sweeping. God bless.

#29  Posted by Craig Langford  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 9:11 AM

Thanks to many of you for trying to make things clear.

I really am trying, to the best of my ability, to understand this aspect of scripture. I can just about get my head around most of it but... how does being pre-destined, chosen or elect fit in with John 3:16 - "...God so loved (how many?) the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that (how many elect?) whosoever believeth..."

Hopeing to understand!


#30  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Craig, #29

With regard to God loving the world, he does...even those who enter into eternal punishment. God loves because it is his nature to do so. He loves everyone, but that doesn't mean that everyone gets to go to heaven. God's love isn't conditional in so far as he knows that some of us are special kids who will behave and so he decided to elect us for salvation. He loves all, in spite of the fact that we are all unloveable. God sovereignly decides to save some of us solely based upon his own reasoning and will...not because we can earn or choose it.

Those who go to Hell are getting their just punishment, as would we, were we not chosen by God for grace. The highest earthly judge may be lenient with some criminals and strict on others...if we are on trial, we have neither the ability nor the right to decide which will happen...only the judge does. It is so with God. (Per Romans 9)

As far as "whosoever" is concerned, think about it like this, "Whosoever goes to Taco Bell and orders a Mexi-Melt will get one." (...and no, I don't know why anyone would order a Mexi-Melt.)

Notice, this doesn't mean that everyone in the world eats a Mexi-Melt from Taco Bell, nor can just anyone decided to eat one at any time. It's conditional to someone being in a Taco Bell Restaurant.

Likewise, whosoever does believe upon Christ (after the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit) will be saved. It doesn't mean that everyone will or even can be saved...only those who are in the sovereignly elected will of God.

#31  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:18 PM

Mike #30 great explanation...

Here is a short video clip of James White discussing John 3:16 that may give more in-depth information regarding the question:

#32  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:44 PM

#29 Posted by Craig Langford

Quote: "how does being pre-destined, chosen or elect fit in with John 3:16"

You must see the entire context, which I actually am not here, but enough context to make the point.

John 3:15-21 (The Lord Jesus speaking-NKJV) "15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."

Notice John 3:18, two verses later He gives us the two types of men, those who will believe (eat the Mexi-melt) and those who will not (eat the Mexi-melt)...What is a Taco Belll Mexi-melt? I digress..LOL

Then in John 3:19-20 give us the explanation as to why so many are condemned and actually turn and run from the Light of the world, which is the Lord Jesus.

Craig - please listen to the six part series titled "The Love of God". John MacArthur really expounds on God's love toward all men and His special grace-love He gives to His elect and how the patience of His love toward those who do not believe turns into hate, yes hate.

The codes are 90-77, 90-78, 90-79, 90-80, 90-81 and 90-82. If you do not have that much time, then go straight to parts 4 and part 5 where John reviews and gets to the heart of the matter. I promise you your understanding will be enlightened. You can also search by using keyword "The Love of God" and it will bring back the results, but the codes are the easiest way to get to the specific sermons. If you need help finding that on the site, then just ask and someone will help you find those sermons.

God bless you!!


#33  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 1:50 PM

#29 Posted by Craig Langford

P.S. You are not alone in grasping this. How God chooses some over others and is fair & just in the process by holding those who do not believe accountable is for God to know and understand. We, as Christians, walk by faith and not by sight and do not lean on our on understanding, but by the words the proceed from the God in whom we trust and obey. I am certain that God is Holy, Just and Good and in the end He may allow us to see perfectly how this all works.

In the mean time lean on Romans 8:28; that is what I do and that one verse has brought many comforts to me and my family through various trials and hardships and I trust it will for you and the rest of us as well.

#34  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 4:50 PM


In Scriptures say God is my rock and shield. More we trust the

Lord and more firmer the fountation is. I too need to observe

my fountations and do fix it by trusting God. We need Jesus

and He will help us. Psalms has verses to help and strengthen

us. God bless.

#35  Posted by Aidan Clevinger  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 5:08 PM

Though, of course, there is STILL the view that Jesus did, indeed, die for all people, that people must believe in Christ to receive His objective atonement, and that God is the creator and sustainer of faith. This allows for all the "difficult passages" in salvation theology without having to explain them away.

#36  Posted by Cristian Balint  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 8:26 PM

Well in John 15.4 Jesus states, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." REMAIN is the key word. They were once in Jesus,(true Christians) but they did not remain. So if you do not remain in Jesus, than your subject to be, "thrown away" (John 15.6) So please let me know what ya'll think..

#37  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 10:39 PM

#35 Posted by Aidan Clevinger

Quote: "there is STILL the view that Jesus did, indeed, die for all people.....must believe in Christ to receive His objective atonement"

Are you talking in terms of limited atonement or universal atonement? Jesus died for all that the Father would give to Him; yet He is the Savior of the entire world, as in all people. But, not all people have been given to the Son by the Father, but all people from every tribe, tongue and nation will be in His Kingdom. So we must distinguish when world means each and every single person verses a remnant from all nations, tribes and tongue, so to speak.

Perhaps you could clarify your stance here..thanks and God bless you.


#38  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 12:32 AM

#36 Cristian,

The people Jesus is referring to were not Christans. The Father (The vinedresser John 15:1) takes away all branches that don't bear fruit. Those symbolize people who are not saved. What verses 4-5 states simply is that we will not bear spiritual fruit unless we abide in the true vine(Jesus). Verse 6 (again referring to unbelievers) talks about the Fathers work as the vinedresser. It does not even imply in these verses that the branches the Father throws into the fire produced any fruit at all. If they never produced fruit they were not ever really saved.

If you abide in Jesus you WILL produce fruit. You are compelled to. You have a hunger and thirst for rightousness that is unexplainable and irrisistable. You fall in love with his word and long to know it and live it. A true Christian can't "choose" to walk away from God or "choose" to not be a Christian anymore because we are compelled to perservere. I love John 4 and how Jesus tells the women at the well that "whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirtsy again, The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." God works in the Christian, and will continue to. God Bless

#39  Posted by Andre Serfontein  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 12:47 AM

Re Keith #26 - A question for you or anyone else:

First, thanks for taking the time to respond to my posts, I really do appreciate it. Regarding Arminian or Reformed view. I am a child of Christ and that is a good enough label :-) On a serious note - I believe in the Gospel, not a theology.

I actually agree with almost everything you say in your post. Yes, the carnal man flees from the Light and does not seek things of the Spirit nor does the sinner seek God. Yes, saving faith is a gift from God. Man cannot come to faith on his own. Yes, spiritual life is given to men while they are still dead in sin.

Can you explain what you mean by the elect will receive salvation? Is this a view that God will grant certain people He choose before time, faith and salvation, and withhold it from all others?

May I ask anyone to please consider the following verses with this in mind:

Christ is the Elect - Isa 42:1.

You can have salvation and the Holy Spirit and fall away - Hebr 6:4-6.

All can come to faith - Rom 1:16.

We have a choice - Rev 3:20.

Have you considered that Christ is the Elect (Isa 42:1) the Seed from Isaac (Rom 9:7) and from David (2 Tim 2:7-10), elected before the beginning of time (1 Pet 1:19-20) to die on the cross for the sins of man (John 3:16).

Salvation is a choice (Rom 10:9), the Law gives us the knowledge of sin (Rom 3:20), the Spirit convicts our hearts of our sin, judgement and the need for righteousness using the Law (John 16:8). God gives us faith unto salvation (John 6:44).

Rom 10:9 "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation."

Salvation is not limited, Rom 10:11 "For the Scripture says, "Everyone believing on Him shall not be put to shame.""

The elect is: Since Christ is the Elect, anyone who believes in Him (John 16:8, 1 Tim 2:3-6, 1 Tim 4:10) are also the elect (Titus 1:1). Elect = Christian = Saved = Believer. Anyone who believes will be saved and will become part of the elect, anyone choosing to stay in sin will be judged (Rom 3:19, Rom 2:5) and will be the non-elect, not in Christ.

Love to all in Christ our Sovereign Lord.

#40  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 5:14 AM

I have to ask God to forgive me every time I hear my relatives,

friends use profane words or gossip. For I would be tempted to do so.

Everyday is a overwelming thing and forgiveness is good to put

in practice and it's differcult at times.

#41  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 5:40 AM

I have gone through tons of paper on this topic, and the theological conclusions are consistent. God alone predetermined from before time began, who will be saved. Therefore it will happen. The real problem is the conclusion that God also thereby predetermined who will be lost, and this seems to raise serious questions about the character of God. Doesn’t that make God a monster? This is the general objection. But what is evil? Isn’t it the absence of good? And only God is good? We have no right to judge what God determines by His own counsel.

#42  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 6:18 AM

Christian writes under #36

They were once in Jesus,(true Christians) but they did not remain. So if you do not remain in Jesus, than your subject to be, "thrown away" (John 15.6) So please let me know what ya'll think.

Why do you think they were once in Jesus? All that the text says is if you remain, you will bear fruit. If you don't remain, you will be cast off. Later in John's first epistle, he tells us in 1 John 2:19, that those who went out from us (who did not remain), where not of us. If they had been of us they would have continued (remained) with us. They went out, John says, to manifest the reality that they were never really apart of Christ to begin with.

At any rate, in light of what I raise here in my article, that our sin has so separated us from God that none of us would ever pursue salvation to begin with, your objection raises a greater question, that being, why would God impart a principle of new life in our hearts, save us, and begin directing our sanctification IF we could at any time walk away? We would not have walked to salvation unless God regenerated us, yet you are suggesting now that we are regenerated, we can walk away from that which we had no interest in to begin with? I don't get that.

#43  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 6:22 AM

Aidan in #35 writes,

Though, of course, there is STILL the view that Jesus did, indeed, die for all people, that people must believe in Christ to receive His objective atonement, and that God is the creator and sustainer of faith. This allows for all the "difficult passages" in salvation theology without having to explain them away.

I guess I don't see how that view explains the so-called "difficult passages." I direct you back to my main thesis: No sinner, left to himself, would ever pursue God or salvation UNLESS God first divinely initiates grace in the sinner's life. God has to act first in order to offer any belief.

#44  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 6:41 AM

Rudi #41

I agree wholeheartedly with "...only God is good? We have no right to judge what God determines by His own counsel."

I think the problem with the assertion that "The real problem is the conclusion that God also thereby predetermined who will be lost, and this seems to raise serious questions about the character of God." is that we often assume that predestination of some for heaven can ONLY conversely mean predestination of hell for the rest.

God created Adam and Eve perfectly sinless...THEY chose rebellion and it's result. God, of course, knew they would chose this before He created them, but that doesn't mean He created them specifically to fail. Think about it in terms of building yourself a car. You build it to work as perfectly as possible, knowing that someday it will break down and you will have to cast it aside. Would you say that your intent in building the car was just so you could abandon it to a junk yard? Of course not...your foreknowledge of the fact that it would inevitably fail you had nothing to do with your intended purpose for creating it. Naturally, there's a lot more to this, as it leads a lot of different branching discussions. For instance, the difference between God's decreed will and God's commanded will...the first being the one to which we are all bound, and the second being the one we are able to disobey, as Adam and Eve did. But I'm not hijacking the thread more than we all already have to go into it. (We've all moved a fair piece away from just a discussion about regeneration, good though the discussion may be!)

While my understanding tends to jibe with my above example, personally I don't have a problem with double predestination, should it be shown to be scripturally true, given that I have no right to tell God what He should and should not be able to do with HIS creation...but it's certainly not the only explanation that can drawn reasonably from scripture.

#45  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 6:43 AM

Andre in #39 writes,

On a serious note - I believe in the Gospel, not a theology.

I understand what you mean here, but I would just offer an exhortation that it is not a bad thing to believe in a “theology.” We all have a theology, whether we realize it or not. It shapes what we believe the Bible teaches about God, and it certainly impacts the practical day in, day out routines of our personal life.

You draw us to a series of questions and passages. Let me see if I can answer them:

Christ is the Elect - Isa 42:1.

Yes, Christ is, but Isaiah is using the term differently. In this case, he is saying Jesus is the chosen Messiah, the one who will do the Father’s will.

You can have salvation and the Holy Spirit and fall away - Hebr 6:4-6.

I figured folks would raise this passage. I may do a post on it in the future. Suffice it to say now, this passage is not saying a person can lose his salvation. The greater context of Hebrews is contrasting the superiority of Christ over the old covenant. Jewish believers struggled with their new faith in a Jewish community where it was vital for survival to be a faithfully committed Jew. There was a temptation to go back to the old covenant so as to end the persecution. The author is merely pointing out that if a believer returns to the temple, as it were, that person is returning to a vain religion that cannot save, because it was never intended to give permanent salvation and it has passed away.

All can come to faith - Rom 1:16.

How do you make that conclusion from this passage?

We have a choice - Rev 3:20.

That’s the Romans Road misuse of this passage. John was addressing churches. The promise to let Jesus come in is directed to the believers in Laodicea, and is not a formula we act upon because we have a choice.

The elect is: Since Christ is the Elect, anyone who believes in Him (John 16:8, 1 Tim 2:3-6, 1 Tim 4:10) are also the elect (Titus 1:1). Elect = Christian = Saved = Believer. Anyone who believes will be saved and will become part of the elect, anyone choosing to stay in sin will be judged (Rom 3:19, Rom 2:5) and will be the non-elect, not in Christ.

The rest of your comments I wouldn’t disagree with, but what you advocate here is the error of Robert Shank and his view that Jesus is the elect one and our belief in him makes us elect. The Bible Answer Man also advocates this on his program. In short, when you look at Eph. 1, that is not what is taught about election. Do a search on the GTY resource page for election and you'll find some good material by John defining what I believe is the biblical way to understand salvation.

#46  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 7:03 AM

Andre #39

"Regarding Arminian or Reformed view. I am a child of Christ and that is a good enough label"

First let us be intellectually honest here...I was not labeling you but the view you presented...and it indeed is decidedly Arminian.

"Can you explain what you mean by the elect will receive salvation? Is this a view that God will grant certain people He choose before time, faith and salvation, and withhold it from all others?"

An assertive question such as that suggests to me that you are operating from a presuppositional position counter to the points in your question?

First: Paul wrote these words in direct relation to your question...Romans 9:18-24 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

Second...and more decidedly, is the words of our Christ with regards to who would be in His family:

John 10:14-16,24-30 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

There are numerous wonderful doctrines in those verses but specifically notice that Jesus says the reason why certain ones did not believe was because "you are not my sheep." To the contrary, Jesus says that His sheep, who are given by the Father, hear His voice, He knows them, they follow Him, He gives them eternal life, they will never perish, and no one can snatch them away from Him.

Also, we see the full deity of Christ here: "I and the Father are one."

#47  Posted by Craig Langford  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 8:01 AM


Thanks to all who answered my questions... very informative... plenty to meditate on and pray for understanding.


#48  Posted by Greg Gallant  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 8:26 AM

I would like just once to see the proponents of conditional security present one entire chapter of scripture in context that supports their claim.

Instead the present by allusions by inference and eisegesis.

There's always a secret hidden around some corner that we just can't see.

#49  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Charles Spurgeon supported the doctrine of is an excerpt from a sermon of his that is rather pointed (John 6:66):

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him”

The defection in this case was on account of doctrine... The truth was too hard for them, it was not to be borne with. “It is a hard saying. Who can hear it?” A true disciple sits at the feet of his Master, and believes what he is told even when he cannot quite comprehend the meaning, or see the reasons for what his Master utters; but these men had not the essential spirit of a disciple, and consequently when their Instructor began to unfold the innermost parts of the roll of truth, they would not listen to His reading of it. They would believe as far as they could understand, but when they could not comprehend they turned on their heel and left the school of the Great Teacher. Besides, the Lord Jesus Christ had taught the doctrine of the sovereignty of God, and of the need of the Spirit of God, that men should be led to Him, “for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.” Here our Lord uttered a bit of old-fashioned free-grace doctrine, such as people nowadays do not like. They call it “Calvinism”, and put it aside among the old exploded tenets which this enlightened age knows nothing of. What right they have to ascribe to the Genevan reformer a doctrine as old as the hills I do not know. But our Lord Jesus never hesitated to fling that truth into the face of His enemies. He told them, “Ye believe not because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.” “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Here he tells them plainly that they could not come unto Him unless the Father gave them the grace to come. This humbling doctrine they could not receive, and so they went aside. (CHS, Sermons, 28, 111-2)

In addition to John chapters 6 and 10, and Romans chapter 9 mentioned previously here are NT scriptures that clearly teach the doctrine of election:

Ephesians 1:3-12

2 Thessalonians 2:13

Matthew 11:27

2 Timothy 1:8-9

Romans 8:28-37

#50  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 8:42 AM

These last two posts have been well written, and, as a whole, everyone has used tact when discussing our differnces in atonement. I do fall on the limited atonement side for the simple fact the other view makes the Bible contradict itself. Verses like John 3:16, Hebrews 6:4-6, and others like these can be explained with a limited atonement viewpoint of scripture. This is why a person with a limited view must "explain away" these verses since we all agree the Bible can't contradict itself. If it does contradict itself that means God lies and if God lies no promise of his can be trusted, including grace. The problem that comes with the oppossing view is that its theology can not explain the verses that contradict its view. I have never heard an Arminian, and I don't mean this with any disrespect, explain how that kind of theology holds up against the other view point. If their is anyone who holds the Arminian,unlimited view of atonement on this blog, explain Romans 9, mainly Rommans 9:14-24, and how it lines up with that set of beliefs. Their are many verses like this in the Bible, but for the sake of space on the blog post, this should serve its purpose. I have never heard an explanation of these verses with that form of theology that makes any biblical sense unless one just decides to ignore those verses. Instead of explaining these verses, from my own experience, the person with the unlimited view will just pick another verse that says "world" or "whoever" and talk about that verse and again a person with a limited view of atonement can explain those verses by taking the Bible as a whole work, not just by taking one isolated verse or a set of verses out of context and make it fit an unlimited view point. We must let the Bible explain itself.

The most simple way of exlpaining election I have heard was said by Mark Keilar from Word Pictures in a series about the sovereignty of God. He said something along the lines that election simply means the "who" that will except the call of salvation. The "who" being the ones the Father draws to the Son by the new birth, John 6:44. This doesn't contradict any part of the Bible. Verse like John 3:16, Romans 10:13, and the verses from Hebrews 6 and 10 that every person that is against the limited view uses as the end all, be all of the discussion, lines up with God being sovereign over all, including the work of salvation, when the whole Bible is read in context of the passages.

Final quick point. Their is a part of all of us, including the people in the limited atonement camp, that, at one point or another, struggle with this doctrine. We as Christians must let the Bible speak for itself and if it comes between a feeling and the Word of God, we must pick the latter. We deserve nothing. If God gave us justice, all would go to hell. If God only saved five people ever, he has showed mercy they don't deserve. We must follow what God reveals, not question God's choices Deuteronomy 29:29

#51  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 11:33 AM

#39 Posted by Andre Serfontein Quote: "You can have salvation and the Holy Spirit and fall away - Hebrews 6:4-6"

#45 Posted by Fred Butler Quote: "I figured folks would raise this passage. I may do a post on it in the future. Suffice it to say now, this passage is not saying a person can lose his salvation."

I have no idea why so many people have such a hard time with this and another in Hebrews 10, if I recall correctly.

First, you must consider if this is referring to a Christian or a non-Christian? Secondly, if it is a Christian or a non-Christian what are the implications and a third point must be considered and that is this; in Hebrews 6:4 we have that word "for", which indicates a change or transition; very important. If you back up into Hebrews 5:11-14; these should be, in my opinion, part of the same chapter and not split here because it adds confusion to the readers.

The last thing that needs to be considered is Hebrews 6:78; should be familiar and is a summary of Hebrews 5:11 through Hebrews 6:6 (Hebrews 5:11-6:6) and you will see an analogy similar to the last two soils in the parable of the soils.

Therefore if Hebrews 4-6 is a "Christian", then you can only conclude that a new doctrine has been established, which I call "Once Lost Always Lost" because if this refers to a Christian and then turns away, then it is IMPOSSIBLE to renew them to repentance or to be saved {again}.

So much for those who believe you can loose your salvation and gain it back and so forth and so much for the Calvin view that "He who began a good work in you will perfect it till the day of Jesus Christ". You see we have a real problem here.

Therefore, it must be a person who has heard the gospel, "PROFESSED" to believe the gospel, witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit among other true Christians and in that day perhaps was an eyewitness to miracles and if we paraphrased it in today's vernacular "played church" for quite some time and was a tare among the wheat, then turned their back after having and experiencing the full knowledge of the gospel.

Summary and conclusion: Based on all of Scripture and what we know about the doctrines concerning salvation, then the only harmonious conclusion one can reach is this can only refer to what is known as an APOSTATE. Who is the best example we have? Judas Iscariot and in John 6:70-71 Jesus knew from the beginning that Judas was not sincere or part of His flock, a true APOSTATE. Would you say Judas meets all the criteria described? Yes!

Finally, Hebrews 6:7-8 brings together Hebrews 5:11-6:6 and makes the same comparison that the 3rd soil and the 4th soils or the tares among the wheat.

Side note: For those who believe one can gain, loose, gain, lose and then gain. You must be able to give an example of such from the word of God. Given the serious nature of such a charge or theological position, there would be multiple examples and warnings in both the NT & OT; yet not one exists.

#52  Posted by steve stricker  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Here is just one of the errors of Calvinism. That we are regenerated before faith. No, we believe then we are regenerated. And there IS evidence to that contrary to what the article says. The error I'm talking about here is confusing the drawing of the Father with regeneration. We are dead spiritually there is no way for us to find God on our own. He draws us to Himself and give us the opportunity to believe....some do, many dont. Matt 7. If we put our faith in Him we are regenerated. For by (God's) grace you have been saved through (your) faith; and that not of yourselves, it (salvation) is the gift of God;

not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Eph 2:8,9

#53  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 2:30 PM


Can you provide any biblical support for the concept that someone can, apart from the Holy Spirit's work, please God, obey God, cooperate with God, make a spiritual decision, glorify God (intentionally), do good, do right, understand spiritual truth, etc?

The fact that men are commanded to please, obey, cooperate, decide, glorify, understand, and believe is not evidence that they can. I can command my children to build a car but they are utterly incapable of it. I could woo them and convince them they should make a car--they still can't do it.

The Bible is so chalk full of language expressing man's complete and utter inability to do anything apart from the Spirit's regeneration. Can you provide any passages that give evidence to the contrary? Is there any didactic teaching in Scripture that essentially says, "yes, men are dead, hate God, and don't seek for Him, but they can still--on their own and unaided--can still believe in Christ."

#54  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 2:41 PM

Here's a sample from John's new book, SLAVE. This chapter discusses in detail the depravity of humanity. It's clear, compelling, and of course, biblical--everything you've come to expect from the pen of John MacArthur. Enjoy...

Every human being, until the moment of redemption, is under the domain of darkness and the dominion of sin. The unbeliever is wholly corrupted by the bondage of his fallen condition and utterly unable to free himself from it.

Not surprisingly, the very notion of such absolute enslavement (a doctrine commonly known as “total depravity” or “total inability”) is repugnant to the fallen human heart. In fact, no doctrine is more hated by unbelievers than this one, and even some Christians find it so offensive that they zealously attack it. Though the doctrine of total depravity is often the most attacked and minimized of the doctrines of grace, it is the most distinctly Christian doctrine because it is foundational to a right understanding of the gospel (in which God initiates everything and receives all the glory). The neglect of this doctrine within American evangelicalism has resulted in all kinds of errors, including both the watered-down gospel and the seeker-driven pragmatism of the church growth movement. But the Scripture is clear: unless the Spirit of God gives spiritual life, all sinners are completely unable to change their fallen nature or to rescue themselves from sin and divine judgment. They can neither initiate nor accomplish any aspect of their redemption. Even the supposed “good things” that unbelievers do are like filthy rags before a holy God (Isa. 64:6). Contrast that with every other religious system, in which people are told that through their own efforts they can achieve some level of righteousness, thereby contributing to their salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

#55  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 3:03 PM

Steve #52...again you seem to have totally dismissed all of the provided information and are simply responding based on your presuppositions which I see as being in line with the teachings of Dr Normon Geisler and Arminianism.

The text you cited, Ephesians 2:8-9, is handled in the same fashion by Geisler in Chosen But Free as you have done here. Here is how one on line source deals with Geisler's interpretation of that text (this is the exact same conclusion James White comes to in The Potter's Freedom):

from this source-

In Appendix Five (pp. 228-240) in the new 3rd edition of Chosen But Free, Dr. Geisler attempts to answer the question “Is Faith a Gift Only to the Elect?”. Of course, since he holds to a synergistic view of salvation, he is going to answer in the negative.

The very first text he attempts to handle is Ephesians 2.8-9, and he bungles it pretty terribly. Here’s his take on things:

It is clear from the Greek that Ephesians 2.8-9 is not referring to faith as a gift from God. The that (touto) is neuter in form, and cannot refer to faith (pistis) which is feminine. The antecedent of “it is the gift of God” is the salvation by grace through faith (v. 9). – Chosen But Free, p. 229

Allow me to lay out the text for you:

Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται. αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Amazingly, Dr. Geisler even tries to drag in the great New Testament Greek grammarian A.T. Robertson to help his case. He doesn’t, however, succeed. The problem is simple. Dr. Geisler is absolutely right that πίστεως is feminine and that τοῦτο is neuter. What he doesn’t bother mentioning is that χάριτί (grace) is also feminine. The upshot of this little point of grammar is that in order to be consistent, Dr. Geisler would have to then also say that since faith is feminine in form and is disqualified from being the gift of God that the this refers to, neither can grace be the gift of God either.

The solution is that the neuter τοῦτο refers to all of salvation, of which both grace and faith are a part.

#56  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 3:05 PM

# 52 - Steve.

Most of all you write is only your opinion, or things you learned along your Christian walk. You have believed and accepted things without even checking for their accuracy. Do you really think that you can prove a point by citing scattered verses, out of context, and without proper exegesis? The answer is, of course, yes.

"Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words." Proverbs 23:9 --> just something that's posted below the comment box. Maybe I am rebuking myself. Maybe.

#57  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 3:10 PM

#52 Posted by steve stricker Quote: "Here is just one of the errors of Calvinism"... :o

Please take the time and use your Bible and either listen or download the PDF file on the Doctrine of Regeneration, parts 1 & 2, then come back and make your point. If you are truly "Born Again", then you will be able to discern the truth concerning this important and almost lost Doctrine of Regeneration.

The codes are 90-297 and 90-298 or cut and paste this link:

In addition; the "New Birth" is explicit in Ezekiel 36:22-36 and coincides with John 3, where Jesus gives the brilliant analogy of being born, which no one has anything within themselves to contribute to it in a carnal or spiritual sense. Likewise the "New Birth" is the same and no one can believe before being raised from a spiritually dead condition can they?

See how Jesus uses the term "born again" at the beginning (John 3:3) and at the end (John 3:7) and in the middle is the "born of water and of the spirit" (John 3:5), this is not water baptism, Christian baptism wasn't even instituted at this point and the section is on the "New Birth" and a close look at the summary of the total inability of man and total sovereignty of God concerning who receives this "New Birth" is John 3:8.

Titus 3:3-7 says virtually the same thing; on must be resuscitated/resurrected from being spiritually dead before any response to the gospel can happen. Ephesians 2:1 says were were DEAD in our sins and trespasses; key word is DEAD. Inability to respond to anything.

Or go to YouTube and type in phrase "Paul Washer and Regeneration" and listen this man speak on the topic. The same can be done on SermonAudio as well. He is like John MacArthur on steroids, but both men are biblically accurate and if you doubt that, then be like the Bereans and test what they say against the Scriptures.

A ton more could be said and referenced, but just because one sees the word "water" doesn't necessarily mean "water baptism" as many suppose.

#58  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Do we have to worry about sinning every minute. No, with Christ,

we don't have a need to worry. I too learning that.

What is Calvinism. Just asking?

Eating the fruit in the garden removed our minds of knowing

God and Who he is. Not the fruit, it's the pride before the

fall mindset, #52

#59  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Steve writes #52

The error I'm talking about here is confusing the drawing of the Father with regeneration. We are dead spiritually there is no way for us to find God on our own. He draws us to Himself and give us the opportunity to believe....some do, many dont.

You suggest that men will be drawn and some won't be drawn. But how does your reasoning here explain John 6:39-45? Jesus makes it explicitly clear that the men the Father draws to Him will most certainly come to Him and they will most certainly be raised up on the Last Day. I don't see any room here with Christ's words suggesting God is merely giving men an opportunity that a few accept while others reject.

#60  Posted by Cristian Balint  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 3:31 PM

I love John 4 too! its an incredible chapter..

Fred #42, "why would God impart a principle of new life in our hearts, save us, and begin directing our sanctification IF we could at any time walk away"

Well i think God grants us free will, and we are granted free will for as long as we are on this earth in our earthly bodies. Therefore we can either choose eternal life and remain in Jesus or choose eternal death (separation from Jesus).I mean God anointed King Saul for Israel. God imparted His principal of life and was directing for Saul's sanctification but Saul walked away. Was God at fault? Not at all. But it was Saul's jealousy, evil and ultimately Saul's decision that turned him away from God..

#62  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 4:31 PM

# 58 - Dan.

Calvinism is just another name for the doctrines of grace. I personally don't like the term too much, I prefer doctrines of grace. Or biblical Christianity. ;)

Here's a series JMacArthur did titled The Doctrines of Grace:

Here's a good link for you to listen to RC Sproul explain what reform theology is:

Here's another good resource, a series of articles that Phil Johnson wrote, titled Why I Am a Calvinist, this is part one of 8:

Grace and peace to you!


#63  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 4:42 PM

This is a quote from Martin Luther. For those who believe in free will, please reason through what Luther is getting at.

"Again, if the Jews who followed after righteousness with ALL THEIR POWERS, fell into UNrighteousness instead, while the Gentiles, who followed after UNrighteousness, attained an UN-HOPED-FOR righteousness, by God's free gift, it is equally apparent from their very works and experience that man without grace can will NOTHING but evil."

Cristian, Post # 60, Could you show me where in Scripture it says we have free will?

R.C. Sproul has a very good article over at titled, Regeneration Precedes Faith. I am sure all the five pointers know about this, but for those who don't.....

#64  Posted by Andre Serfontein  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 4:49 PM

Re - If a true Christian can fall away.

Read Heb 6:4-6 carefully with focus on the words "enlightened, tasted, partakers".

Partakers (metochos) is used in other verses to point to true believers made partakers of Christ (Heb 3:14), and it points to sons of God who are to endure (partake) the chastening from God (Heb 12:7-8). Partakers is inclusive. A non believer cannot have association or fellowship with, or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9-11). According to Strongs this word means, associate, fellow, partner.

Enlightened (photizo) according to Strongs also means illuminated. Another verse uses illuminated (also photizo) to refer to believers who have to endure sufferings (Heb 10:32). Here illuminated clearly refers to the process of coming to Christ. Note John 1:4 "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." Light = Illuminated, Enlightened.

Tasted (geuomai) means to taste, eat, experience, partake of, enjoy something. Christ "tasted" death (Heb 2:9) not as external bystander, but as one actually going through death.

Therefore Heb 6:4-6 talks about people who have come to the Light (enlightened), who've received the Holy Spirit (partakers), and have personally internalised (tasted) the gospel (good word of God Luke 8:11) and who have experienced (tasted) the God given spiritual gifts (2 Tim 1:6 see MacArthur Study Bible comments).

I cannot see how anyone can doubt that Heb 6:4-6, talks about anyone else but a person who has truly come to Christ. To say that these are apostates who never really came to true salvation cannot be true, since the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts are only given to true converts. Also sinners cannot have any understanding of the Word of God, that knowledge only comes through the Holy Spirit.

Some would argue the falling away (Heb 6:6) is of fellowship with Christ or heavenly rewards. But read further, v9 talks about the salvation of the beloved. These first verses of the chapter in Hebrews, are about Christians and the warning that they can permanently turn their back on Christ, losing their salvation. This in turn connects beautifully with other text - Heb 10:26-27.

Christ died for our sins but once, turning our backs on Him, after we've accepted His payment for our sins, means we cannot come back to Him because of the impossibility of Him being crucified again.

I write this with tears in my heart...

#65  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 4:54 PM

"Well i think God grants us free will..."

Herein is a major problem with most adherents to this ideology. There is no support for such a position given in scripture yet Christians, most probably due to tradition, assert such based merely on opinion.

"Therefore we can either choose eternal life and remain in Jesus or choose eternal death (separation from Jesus)."

Romans 8:29 demonstrates eternal security and progressive sanctification unequivocally: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers

This text clearly states that God foreknew a group of folks. The word foreknew is an English traanslation of the word proginosko which is a means that God is active in His foreknowledge not merely passive and reactionary. One definition given of that term according to The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon is "of those whom God elected to salvation"

The text also states clearly that those who God actively foreknew are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son...Jesus. It absolutely follows that the ones God foreknew MUST be conformed into the image of His Son or this scripture is false. Therefore, the idea that someone can "opt-out" of the process is not in keeping with this scripture or many others that could be cited.

#66  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 4:59 PM

#60 Posted by Cristian Balint

Quote: "Well i think God grants us free will, and we are granted free will for as long as we are on this earth in our earthly bodies."

What you "think" and what God has said must be in harmony; right? The only free-will a dead person has is to choose his own sin. The Bible teaches that our best human works are what before God? Filthy rags, and this is very graphic because it relates the the menstrual rag of a woman. What is the nature of man? Ephesians 2:3 tells us in no uncertain terms what our nature is like. A man, dog, pig, goat, ant, worm all do according to their nature.

Why do you think the Bible speaks of a New Nature and a New Creation IN CHRIST? 2 Corinthians 5:17

Much more could be said.

#67  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Andre #64...

There have been adequate refutations of your position with regards to Hebrews. I would like to exhort you to think and pray about what you are teaching. The teaching you are espousing is a direct affront to the work of the Holy Spirit...and here is how:

Ephesians 1:11-14 states that the chosen ones of God who have been predestined according to His plan and His will have been sealed with the Holy Spirit as a deposit..a guarantee...until the day of redemption-and that to the praise of His-God's-glory! Here is the text:

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Further, John 16:13 states that the Holy Spirit WILL guide us (Christians) into all truth.

To assert that one can be saved then lost is to say that the Holy Spirit is not properly functioning in the mandated position that He was sent to occupy...that is a dangerous assertion to promote.

#68  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 6:02 PM

Thanks for the info on Calvinism.

God bless.

It's important to think about love that God has for us. and why he

first loves us. Amen!

#69  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 9:28 PM

#64 Posted by Andre Serfontein

Quote: "Read Heb 6:4-6 carefully with focus on the words "enlightened, tasted, partakers"."

Andre; Look at Judas Iscariot and ask yourself if the Scripture gives any indication as to whether he ever obtained salvation; yet no one can deny he fits the descriptions you cite. He was the "son of perdition"; he is an Apostate, which means "A disloyal person who betrays or deserts his cause or religion or political party or friend etc." Then in light of 1 John 2:19. These are the exposed apostates; they have full knowledge and understanding and walk away in unbelief.

John 12:3-6; is this a Christian?

John 17:12; was this ordained by God?

John 13:2; can the devil or a demon enter into a Christian?

#70  Posted by steve stricker  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 10:31 PM

@ Elaine #56

Most of all you write is only your opinion, or things you learned along your Christian walk. You have believed and accepted things without even checking for their accuracy. Do you really think that you can prove a point by citing scattered verses, out of context, and without proper exegesis? The answer is, of course, yes.

Have a nice day!

#71  Posted by steve stricker  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 10:58 PM

@ Gabriel you said......."The fact that men are commanded to please, obey, cooperate, decide, glorify, understand, and believe is not evidence that they can. I can command my children to build a car but they are utterly incapable of it. I could woo them and convince them they should make a car--they still can't do it."

So your saying that the Holy Spirit is taunting us; that God the Father is mocking us. That they knowing we cannot perform any such thing demand that we do them. Wow, interesting Gabe. Sounds cruel but tell me more.

And would you Gabriel if your children didnt build the car you commanded them to build then punish them for all eternity. Would you burn them with a fire that couldnt be quenched? Would you mock them; would you laugh at their calamity? Would you pluck out their eyes? Would you punish them so that they weep and wail and gnash their teeth? Hmmmm.......makes me wonder what you think of God.


#72  Posted by steve stricker  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 11:13 PM

@ Keith 55

I have GOT to get this book you keep talking about it sounds wonderful. 'Chosen but Free' I think you said. Look God requires FAITH to please Him, Heb 11:6 He doesnt give it He requires it........its not that hard.

I posted this b4 it bears repeating..................Do you know what Jesus said? He said this in Matt 9:22 AND in Mark 5:34 AND in Mark 10:52 AND in Luke 8:48 AND in Luke 17:19 AND in Luke 18:42.....(think it might be important??? ).....He said 'YOUR faith has made you well'........NOT 'the faith the Father gave you made you well' or 'the faith I impart unto thee made you well' or 'the Holy Spirit will come and guide you into all faith'. See that? YOUR faith. Hebrews 11:6 says there is no pleasing God without faith.

Blessings in the Truth.

#73  Posted by steve stricker  |  Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 11:17 PM

@ Fred 59

All Jesus is saying there is that everyone who comes to Him which is the same as believes on Him will receive eternal life. And they must be drawn by the Father. Right on!

#75  Posted by steve stricker  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 5:44 AM

@ Fred

Take a minute and look at the verse you asked me about ......does it say 'This is the will of my Father that he regenerates some to eternal life arbitrarily whimsically without condition and when they have eternal life they will look to the Son and then they will believe but before that I will raise them up on the last day' that what it says? No it says "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." Overarching EVERYTHING is the will of the Father and we are told it is that those who behold and believe in Jesus that then they will have eternal life. Sheeesh. Quit mangling Scripture!! Verse 47 says essentially the same thing in the same order not they had eternal life then they believed .......really now!!

And how do you explain 2 Pet 3:9? According to the Calvinist Sovereign God thinks it and it's done so how do you explain this? Do all come to repentance? They MUST because the Lord is not willing that ANY should perish.

Wrong Doctrine = Wrong Living

#76  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 7:35 AM


Let me combine a couple of comments you left in this one.

You first wrote,

All Jesus is saying there is that everyone who comes to Him which is the same as believes on Him will receive eternal life. And they must be drawn by the Father.

Let's clarify: You initially wrote that I was confusing regeneration with drawing (though you provided no real Scriptural reason why the two should be separated). You then stated We are dead spiritually there is no way for us to find God on our own. He draws us to Himself and give us the opportunity to believe....some do, many dont. Please correct me if I am wrong here, but I read you saying that we as sinners are spiritually dead. I agree. But then you say God draws us to Himself and then gives us the opportunity to believe which some, according to you, do, while others don't.

I merely point out to you that the entire context of Christ's discourse here in John 6 does not provide us the idea of an either/or proposition. Those whom the father gives to the son will be raised up. It says nothing about being given an opportunity to which some accept and others reject. In other words, your view here isn't supported by the overall context of the passage.

Moving along,

does it say 'This is the will of my Father that he regenerates some to eternal life arbitrarily whimsically without condition and when they have eternal life they will look to the Son and then they will believe but before that I will raise them up on the last day' that what it says?

This is something of a strawman, if you don't mind me saying. Eternal life has to be without condition or it ceases being God's grace. Speaking of conditionality is arguing for a works oriented perspective. In this cases, certain men were "smart enough" or "open minded" or something that drove them to making a choice for Jesus. Additionally, I don't see what God does in drawing men to salvation as being arbitrary and whimsical.

You continue,

... it says "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." Overarching EVERYTHING is the will of the Father and we are told it is that those who behold and believe in Jesus that then they will have eternal life.

Steve, note verse 39 where Jesus says emphatically that everyone given to Him by the Father will be raised up in the last day. Is the giving and the drawing the same thing? Or are you separating the two concepts? I see them as being one and the same. Those drawn by the Father ARE the ones given to the Son and they are raised up. I see no optional, "if you only believe" language here. All that believe have been drawn and the drawn will without fail believe and be raised up.

#77  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 7:38 AM


Just a reminder.

I understand passions can run high on the doctrines of salvation. It is understandable seeing that what we believe about salvation is crucial to our Christian faith.

But please temper your comments. I think the back and forth between the advocates of two perspectives can be helpful to read if conducted in a fashion honoring to the Lord and respectful to the one's we may disagree. There's no need to become personal and ugly with remarks.


#78  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 7:40 AM

Steve (#71),

I don't know if God has ever spoken to you directly, but your response to my question is directly responded to by the Holy Spirit through Paul.

Steve, God says to you:

"What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?"

~ Romans 9:14-24

#79  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 7:49 AM


When you think of the Father drawing someone, it sounds like you're thinking of a wooing, yoohoo, come over here! But that is not what the Bible is saying.

The word drawing is also translated "dragged" in Acts 16:19 and "hauled" in John 21:6, 11. In the Greek Old Testament it's used of pulling Jeremiah out of a cistern (Jeremiah 43:13).

In other words, when God draws someone, he is pulling them toward him. They are totally passive in the act. If you're drawn to God, you are a water bucket being pulled up a well. You have no choice in the matter. Fish can fight being hauled onto a boat, but ultimately their effort is useless.

Now course Jesus isn't saying he drags people into the kingdom kicking and screaming. What he is saying is God determines who gets in, and you have no choice in the matter.

#80  Posted by steve stricker  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 8:07 AM

@ Fred # 77

Agreed.......I always say the stakes are high when youre talking about God! What we say about Him ultimately determines who we are!!

Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. Prov 27:17

#81  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 8:19 AM

I think that some have resorted to "picking" instead of honest debate and discussion...which is sad given the seriousness of this topic; that being the very character, nature, and sovereignty of our God.

For the ones who are interested in learning more about the glory and sovereignty of our God in salvation here are two sermons from a couple of giants in the faith:

Charles Spurgeon on eternal security-


"All men are not sheep, for some are foxes, or voracious wolves, and others are compared to dogs and lions. All persons who might be called sheep are not Christ’s sheep. All do not belong to his flock. All are not gathered into his fold. There is a uniqueness of possession. There may be many sheep, but the Savior speaks of “My sheep,” those whom he chose to be his before the world was created, those who were given to him by the Father, those who have been bought with his blood, redeemed from among men, and in due time have been ransomed by his power, for he has bought them back from the hand of the enemy, and therefore claims them to be his own. “The Lord’s portion is his people.” Other lords have their portion, and Christ takes his portion. His people are his inheritance. He speaks of “my sheep” as a special heritage, whom, as a shepherd, he claims for his own. Of these he is the sole Owner. He is not merely their Custodian, but their Owner. We read of the hireling or mercenary shepherd, “whose doesn’t own the sheep”; but in the case of our good Shepherd, “he brought out his own [sheep].” [John 10:4]."

John Calvin on Ephesians 1:3-4


"But St. Paul, to exclude all merit on man’s part and to show that all comes from God’s pure goodness and grace, says that he has blessed us according to his election of us beforehand. As if he should say that to exalt God’s grace as becomes us, we must look upon the diversity that is found among men. For the gospel is preached to some, and others do not know what it is but are utterly shut out from it, as if God should make it rain in one quarter and allow another quarter to remain very dry.

Now if it is demanded why God pities the one part and forsakes and leaves and abandons the other, there is no other answer but that it so pleases him. Upon the preaching of the gospel in a place, some will be affected with lively faith in their hearts and others will go away as they came without benefiting at all, or else they harden themselves against God and betray the stubbornness that was hidden in them before. What is the reason for this difference Even this, that God directs the one sort by his Holy Spirit and leaves the other sort in their natural corruption." John Calvin

#82  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 8:29 AM

Here is an analogy for those who like such:

A father who has three children must attend an important meeting and he must secure the keeping of his children while in that meeting. He hires a nanny to fulfill this task and agrees to leave the children with the nanny at a prescribed fenced playground. The nanny is charged with making sure that the children play only on the playground and not leave the fenced area since there is a busy road nearby that presents a danger to the children.

While there are many people on the busy road and even some other children on the playground the nanny is in charge of one group of children ultimately and must do whatever is required to protect the children in her care until the father returns.

This is the picture we see of the operation of the Holy Spirit in protecting God's family. However, this is a very poor is why:

In the story above the nanny is merely a hired hand who is simply a bystander looking on the scene. In the reality of our relationship with the Holy Spirit as one of God's children He, the Holy Spirit, actually indwells the believer personally guiding and directing and sanctifying the child. What a perfect Savior we have and a perfect Helper in the Holy Spirit who guides, convicts, teaches, sanctifies, and secures us until the day of redemption!

#83  Posted by steve stricker  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 8:31 AM

@ Gabriel # 78, 79

Yes I know Rom 9. I asked you what do you think about God .......have you thought thru what you believe....... read my previous post to you. It seems as if the people espousing Calvinism dont answer all the questions but avoid and obscure deflect and avoid quite a bit. For example instead of being direct w your answer you start out by asking if God has ever talked to me.........that shows me you would love to avoid the subject and go off on a rabbit trail.

What you believe about God has consequences it is, I believe, the most important thing about you.

Now is not the time to quote verses.......tell me how you reconcile the obvious conclusions I drew in # 71. Use your evident reason.

#84  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 8:43 AM

Steve (83),

In the passage I quoted from Paul, he is responding to those who complain about what they think the doctrinal of unconditional election does to the nature and character of God.

You question the character of an electing God, and God responds to you directly from Scripture.

When you say, So you're saying the Holy Spirit is taunting us; that God the Father is mocking us, you're intruding your human-centered "it's not fair" mentality into the discussion. The Bible does not say God taunts or mocks us.

The Bible says God is supremely worthy of worship and rightly demands to be worshiped by His creatures. But it also says His creatures are spiritually dead and incapable of such worship.

That's what the Bible says. You haven't given any evidence to the contrary. No one seeks after God, but God commands all people everywhere to repent. Call it a paradox, call it unfair, call it nonsensical, call it a contradiction, call it what you will. But God's character cannot be impugned according to your logic.

We must submit our logic to the teaching of Scripture, and rest in Deuteronomy 29:29 for what we can't understand. Impugning God's character for things we can't understand, though, is not an option.

#85  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 9:54 AM

#71 steve

I think you are a little bit unfair.

If we look at the ten commands, did God not say, we must keep them all? We know of course the point is to make it clear that we can’t, and therefore must come to God for mercy. Would you call His plan evil?

Only if you can’t see His plan and His love.

#86  Posted by Craig Langford  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 10:36 AM

But, but , but... this has really opened a can of worms in my world! :)

I can see and understand both sides of the coin as they are discussed back and forth in this blog. As a simple man who believes in the God of the Bible, I desperately want to understand the truth of scripture. What are we to do when we meet differing views on the truth about scripture. One says this and another that. I keep going to the scriptures that people are quoting, trying to see for myself if there is one way clearer than another. One is right and one is wrong. If I choose to believe one way, am I in risk of going down the wrong path... one would say yes and the other no.

In the beggining, was man not created with freedom of choice... to eat of the apple or not? To return love or not? Is'nt the whole difference between us and other creations of God that we were created with the ability to return God's love, to worship and obey... not because we were forced to or programed to... but because God desired to create a being in His likeness, with the same creative abilities, etc. Does'nt God delight in seeing how I respond to this life He has given me, like a father does with his child?

I believe I am a true believer! But if I am not one of the elect then am I doomed? If a man is possesed by a demon then are we to assume he is not predestined to be saved? And what of the huge spiritual battle that is going on all around us... is it not a battle for the souls of mankind? And if a soul is worth fighting for or praying for can it not then also be lost in the battle? How is it lost? Because the person chooses to turn away from God or the devil wins that battle or the person was simply not elect or chosen?

I am sorry, I am just not sure about all this and I thought I was on the right track with my understanding of the Bible. Maybe it will come to me in time, but for now, I am just a little confused!


#87  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 10:45 AM

Steven Striker:

You asked about 2nd Peter 3:9. Here is a good interpretation of this verse:

Also, check out you tube videos by Dr. James White or go to his blog. He is almost famous for his interpretation of 2nd Peter 3:9, alone!

#88  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Hi Craig,

The key is understanding each passage in it's context. Yes a lot of Scripture is being thrown around. But as you may have noticed there are no Scriptures brought (because there aren't any) that teach the free will of man. It seems to be inferred by the call to repent, but it is not taught in Scripture. On the other hand, the Bible explicitly teaches the inability of man to repent apart from God's work in his life.

Yes, Adam and Eve were created with a free choice, but they made their choice and plunged humanity into a sinful state such that, now, man only chooses against God and never for Him apart from His intervention.

Adam and Eve were created in the image of God (which means they were created to exemplify the attributes of God). But when they sinned no person born of the product of human union has been born in the unhindered image of God. Once we are saved, our goal in life is to glorify God and magnify Christ by being conformed more and more into the image of Christ who is God (Romans 8:28-29; 1 Cor 15:49; 2 Cor 3:18; Col 3:10).

Man's will is limited by his sinful nature. God must circumcise us of the sinful nature (Col 2:11) before we can have true free will.

There is no such thing as a true believer who is non-elect. His Spirit testifies with our spirit, and we have many "tests" in Scripture to help us know whether we are saved. If we are saved, then we are elect. We can deceive ourselves, but that deception is because we don't use biblical tests (Matthew 7:21ff).

I have a friend who has been reading Ephesians 1-6, a chapter a day for the last three weeks. He has been taking note of everything God does for us. He is now convinced God elects unconditionally. Why? Because Paul makes it so clear in Ephesians 1-3 that salvation is all of God.

#89  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:22 AM

Craig (#86)

Believe me, this can be a tough doctrine to grasp. When I was first introduced to it, it felt like I'd been punched in the gut. When I started seeing it clearly presented in scripture, it made me question whether or not I even wanted to remain a Christian. It made God seem so cruel and unfair...but at the end of the day I had to ask myself who was God? Me or God? There is definitely a chance that either side is wrong. (Of course neither of us believe ourselves to be!) We take the same risk interpreting any passage in the Bible, or by holding onto any particular doctrinal view. But it is good that we do seek truth and stand for what we believe it to be. I am thankful that this is why our salvation is not dependent on our work or our ability to perfect ourselves, but rather on the righteousness of Christ and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. We have to nestle ourselves within orthodoxy and then do our best to rightly divine the word with the help of the Holy Spirit.

God did create man with the ability to choose....but what did man choose? Sin. We are born in depravity because of it. Whether in depravity or after regeneration, we still find ourselves prone to choose sin. After salvation, we are able to choose to obey in a way that glorifies God...a choice that we can't make effectually before regeneration/repentance. After salvation we are given faith, faith in Christ's righteousness and in the Holy Spirit to continually sanctify us so that we become less like our previous sinful selves, and more like Christ. I believe that God does delight in seeing how we respond to His gift of life, but not in our choice to rebel or disobey. What parent would delight in their child's ability to choose when that choice produces drug addiction, abortion, etc.? What parent wouldn't stop their child from making such choices if they were really able to do so? But God's chief delight is not in our happiness, but in the glory of His holiness. (Consider Rev. 4:8, whose holiness is sung about continually before the throne?)

If you truly are a believer as defined by scripture (and I have no reason to believe that you aren't my brother), then you are of the elect. And with regard to the demon possessed man, consider the demoniac of Gadera (sp?). Was he not of the elect? He was delivered by Christ and essentially became an evangelist. When was his election declared? When Christ saved him, or was it still there when he was a demoniac? According to Ephesians 1:4 we were chosen before the foundations of the world. The devil does not win battles nor can he thwart the will of God...if he could, then God is not all-powerful.

My brother, I encourage you to take your time, study the word and trust the Spirit of God to bring you to the truth. That is all any of us can do. None of us can declare ourselves to be perfect until we are in the kingdom. Trust in his righteousness and guidance, no matter on which side you find yourself here.

#90  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:44 AM


With regards to 2nd Peter 3:9, I think it's a bit of a stumble step to take the verse and there say that all means all in the sense of "all people who ever lived". We have to remember a very important thing about 2nd is a letter written to specific people. Take the very first two verses of the book, "Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." Unless Peter says differently about specific statements, commands, exhortations, etc. we have to assume that he's writing for that audience that he his directly addressing. If a husband wrote a letter to his wife regarding their family and he said, "I'm working hard to provide for all of you." Does he mean all of the people in their family, or everyone who ever lived? Peter identifies CLEARLY his intended audience in verse 9 when he says "but is patient toward YOU,".

#91  Posted by Craig Langford  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Thanks for the encouraging responses. The truth becomes clearer bit by bit!

Even if I don't quite get all of it yet, I am left with an imense desire to dig deeper. I am sure, with the help of The Holy Spirit and dedication to study, I will grow in understanding according to the measure of faith God grants me.


#92  Posted by Mike Sexton  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Oh, and a second thing I meant to say about 2 Peter 3:9 is that it is taken from a section talking about the return of Christ...the day of the Lord. It is not regarding salvation, but the completion of our sanctification, the perfection of repentance, assuring the believers that they do not have to worry about falling away because of how long it may be until Christ returns.

#93  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Mike # 86:

Great comment! You mention several important points worth highlighting:

First, unless you embrace the relativism of our postmodern era, you can’t affirm the doctrines of grace and still maintain the teaching that says man’s will is not enslaved and true saving faith can somehow be forfeited. Someone is clearly wrong--one system of theology is in error and sets itself against the truth. It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? Put in perspective: Some people who passionately advocate their view are actually opposing the Bible.

That’s a good reminder to exercise great care when discussing theology at any level, especially in a public domain like a blog. I cringe when I read things like, “That’s not the God I worship! That’s not the God of the Bible. You worship a monster! If that’s Who God is, I hate Him!” (thankfully, not on our blog) I cringe, not only because that’s an incredibly rude and uncivilized way to debate ;-) but what if that Being you call a monster really is the God of the Bible—and you've expressed hatred for Him? That’s a scary thought.

Next, rarely will someone abandon a cherished interpretation of Scripture without a tremendous and often prolonged struggle. That means you wrestle with fresh insights, process exegetical data you didn’t previously see or understand. And often, it means you’re left alone to ponder the profound ramifications of abandoning you’re current view. But even then, no one should pretend it’s easy. The longer you’ve held an opposing view (and the more passionately you’ve defended and espoused that view) the more difficult change becomes.

So, if you feel like you’ve been “punched in the gut” with some of these comments, good! If they’re logical, rational, compelling, and most importantly, biblical…take a break from commenting, get alone with God and your Bible and hammer out those truths in your own soul. Let God be true and every man a liar.

This is a great series, Fred.

#94  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM

Dear Craig:

Yes, there are difficult sayings in the Bible, but think on this one example. I personally don’t think it is that difficult to love a God who is full of wrath towards the unregenerate. The alternative would be to join the ranks of those who feel it is just fine and dandy to TRAMPLE God’s holiness underfoot. If you love and cherish God’s holiness, you will soon find yourself coming into agreement with God, on this and many other difficult matters. If you truly love God, you will align your thinking with His. In other words, you will have the mind of Christ.

And since God is the one who created us, and gives and takes life away, He can choose from the same lump of clay to make one to honor and one to dishonor. That is His "divine prerogative". That is what makes God totally free; His choices are not constrained by anyone outside of Himself. If there were some outside source, which put restrictions on God or tried to thwart His purposes, that being would be sovereign, and God would not be God. God's freedom to choose and act as He so pleases, is what Makes God, GOD.

I love the freedom that belongs to God.

#95  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Steve Stricker, I feel kind of responsible for a misconception.

In post #120 at previous blog:, I was talking about an evil Danish atheistic website.

You equivocated that to me calling you atheistic. I didn’t, BUT I think you are without real knowledge.

Theology is a very strict discipline, because if you are not using very strict rules, you won’t find the Truth as intended by God, and if you don’t find the Truth, then everyone’s opinion counts.

My point is that if sinful man interprets the Bible, void of the Spirit of God, he will find the exact opposite than the Truth.

We know the fruits of the Spirit, because it is listed for us in Scripture. I will do an exception with you, and let you see for yourself, and spend 1 minute on that site, and then go out and take a shower.

This site hates God, and twists every Scripture they find, and as result they found Satan. You won’t find any fruit there.

My point is this: You won’t be able to refute it if you do not know God and sound doctrine.

Google this site: www(dot)biblen(dot)info (Wrote this way because they don’t deserve a search engine list) and chose translate, because it is in Danish. 30 seconds, and you get the point.

This is where we came from, and I’m not going back to that. Not because I’m better than other sinners, but because of the price paid by Jesus to deliver me.

#96  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 1:28 PM

James White's article on 2 Peter 3:9 (linking so it would be easier for people to find it, it was mentioned by Mary on # 87):

#97  Posted by Joshua Berdiel  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 4:55 PM

2 Peter 3:9 is written to the beloved from the context of the surrounding verses. Who is the beloved? The beginning of 2 Peter 3 lets us know that the beloved is the group of people that Peter is writing a second letter to. By knowing this, we can take the proper context of what is being said and check the beginning of 1 Peter 1 where we find that Peter is speaking to the elect. The Bible has to be taken in context. One can not take a single verse an assume it means something, even if it sounds like for sure this verse means this, without looking at the surrounding verses, chapters, and the Bible as a whole before one can make a sure statement on what it means. 2 Peter 3:9 is a verse that, again, supports Calvinism when taken in context.

#98  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 10:19 PM

#75 Posted by steve stricker

Quote: "And how do you explain 2 Pet 3:9? According to the Calvinist Sovereign God thinks it and it's done so how do you explain this? Do all come to repentance? They MUST because the Lord is not willing that ANY should perish.

Wrong Doctrine = Wrong Living"

Steve; doesn't Catholic Apologetics 101 teach charity? Please tell all of us what the Catholic doctrine on regeneration is? Please tell us how one is saved and please cite your references; so our "wrong doctrine=wrong living" can be corrected by someone who belongs to the "true church", which is visible according to Catholic doctrine despite Romans 8:19.

When you are able to show these things; then we will all, in gratitude, be blessed to learn something new and receive it with all joy. If you cannot, then please refrain from Ad hominem abuse because it is not Gabriel, Fred, myself nor anyone else to whom you are attacking, but the very God you claim as your own.

As far as 2 Peter 3:9 is concerned; God desires or WISHES that all would come to repentance, but we know that does not happen because this is what is known as "His will of desire" or to put it another way there is a will of God that does not happen because it is not purposed or "set in stone" and is a bit of a mystery because it is not fully explained in Scripture as for my understanding.

However; we do know and can be sure this has everything to do with His glory; for we were created for that very purpose and because of the fall; we all fall short of God's glory. Also we know He is just and I for one am glad He is also gracious and merciful because if we all got what we deserve, then name one who would be in heaven!!

Luke 13:34 is a perfect example of this given by the Lord Himself concerning the Jews. God does not get any pleasure from the death of the wicked according to Ezekiel 33:11 & Ezekiel 18:23.

God has will of purpose; meaning that which He has purposed according to His will; is so sure it is though it is already done; such as the salvation of the elect of God. Jeremiah 51:29 is a purpose and was carried out and Romans 8:28-30 is the will of God toward His elect and notice everything is in the past tense because it it so sure, because He purposed it, it is as though it has already happened. Ephesians 1:9 is another example of the intended plan of redemption in Christ.

Look at it this way; God exercises lovingkindness, JUSTICE and mercy and in those things He delights because they give Him glory {Jeremiah 9:24}. His burden is light and no one can earn or merit or follow a set of rules to get to heaven. He sets the standards, which is perfection, and we all fall short, but thank God for the Savior to reconcile us back to Himself even if many are called but few are chosen.

May Christ bless you unto salvation if He has not already PURPOSED it.



#99  Posted by Cristian Balint  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 10:25 PM

Mary #63

If you don't believe we have free will, than what purpose is to this life? Are we robots or angelic beings? No. We are "made in the image of God." Lemme know what you think.

#100  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 10:49 PM

Christian, Can you explain what you mean by "robots?" How does autonomous freewill make one not a robot, exactly? I asked this under the first post, but were the angels who did not fall with Satan, robots for being elect?

#101  Posted by Andre Serfontein  |  Friday, March 25, 2011 at 11:52 PM

Thank you to GTY for hosting this blog, and I agree, this discussion is very helpful and I've learned a lot. Pity we can't all sit around a table with some good coffee and discuss the subject face to face :-(

Gabriel, in your post to Craig you say man has no free will in terms of salvation and man only ever chooses against God and never for God.

I accept the carnal man tends towards sin but that is not the rule. Man is capable of choosing good or life as well. So I do not agree that man cannot choose good. God did not set man up for failure. He wants us to choose life and this reasonable expectation just justifies, why He will be just on the day of judgement for pouring out His wrath on those who chose otherwise.

Deuteronomy 30:11-20 with focus on "I have set before you today life and good, death and evil" and "Therefore, choose life, so that both you and your seed may live,".

Joshua 24:15 "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve"

Proverbs 3:31 "Envy thou not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways."

Isaiah 45:22 "Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other."

In the Old Testament God's elect nation had a free will to choose between life and death, good and evil. The same was expected from all non-elect people. This is still the case in the New Testament.

Please see MacArthur Study Bible commentary of Deut 30:19. To quote from that: "Choosing life or death was also emphasized by Jesus. The one who believed in Him had the promise of eternal life; while the one who refused to believe faced eternal death (cf. John 3:1-36). Every person faces this same choice."

John 14:15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

John 15:7 "If you abide in Me, ..."

Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

And continuing so I can quote a lot of NT verses, where the individual is given an invitation to believe, and he has the free will to choose life or death, similar to the Old Testament standard.

The Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement - John 16:8. He will guide us into all truth - John 16:13. Those hearing the gospel, understanding it through the Spirit's guidance, and bearing fruit will be saved - Mark 4:12,20; James 2:20. (also evaluate the sequence of events with the man of Ethiopia in Acts 8:27-39

Salvation is not forced on anyone. It remains a choice - John 3:36.

#102  Posted by Ryan Moody  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 4:17 AM

Micah #10

1 John 2:19 is saying nothing of people never being saved to begin with. That is simply interpreting this verse in a vacuum--ignoring the context. John was talking about false teachers and antichrists (2:18,22) leaving fellowship with the apostles (1:3). They "were not of us" (not sent out by the apostles as like Titus and Timothy) because if they had been they would have continued with them in fellowship. Though they were in fellowship at one time, they had been excommunicated because of their false teaching and John is now warning his readers about them.

Keith #67

Ephesians chapter 1 is not talking about a Calvinistic election. Read the earliest known commentary on this passage from the 2nd Century (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter xvii). Notice the pronouns in Verses 3-12 are all 1st person plural while those in verses 13-18 are 2nd person plural. Paul includes himself in verses 3-12 as a Jew praising God for His historic redemptive dealings with his own nation. God chose Israel before the foundation of the world and predestined them to be His adopted children.

Verses 13-18 are Paul addressing his Gentile readers. The Jews had "first hoped in the Messiah" (v. 12). But the Gentiles are also included in God's plan of redemption. This was manifest when "the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning" (Acts 11:15). God showed to the world that Gentiles were accepted by Him when He gave them the same promised Holy Spirit as He had given the Jews on Pentecost. They were "sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (v. 13). The seal authenticated that Gentiles are also truly saved.


#104  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Andre (#101),

Again, none of the passages you cite teach the ability to make spiritually righteous decisions. You are confusing the command with the ability to obey. Like someone else pointed out, God commands us to be perfect, but we are completely unable to be perfect.

And I think you may need to read Romans 8 a little more closely. Paul does not merely say we have a tendency to choose against God. "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:7-8). In that passage, is Paul saying there is a tendency to displease God, or complete inability?

You quoted Joshua 24:15. Do you realize when Joshua commanded them to choose, the only two options he gave them were false gods? You see, Joshua knew the people would reject God (24:19), and he was telling them they needed to choose whom to serve because of the principle Jesus taught, "You cannot serve to masters."

You said, God's elect nation had a free will to choose... Can you provide biblical support for that? Quoting commands to choose is not biblical support. Where does the Bible says anyone has a free will to choose?

The Bible explicitly teaches inability. Free will can at most be inferred. And since we must use the clear passages to interpret the unclear, inability clearly predominates. Free autonomous will doesn't exist in Scripture and in fact contradicts Scripture.

#105  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Andre, one last thing. You said, Salvation is not forced on anyone.

I agree. We do choose to be saved. But that choice is only made once we have been regenerated and our eyes have been opened to see the light of the gospel and the glory of Christ. No one who is regenerated rejects the call to repent. But only those who are regenerated have the ability to repent.

Perhaps we could put it this way: Apart from regeneration we are so taken with our sin we cannot choose otherwise. But after regeneration we are so taken with Christ we cannot choose otherwise.

It's not a matter of forcing salvation or forcing damnation. The unsaved freely and gladly go to perdition. And the saved freely and gladly enter into salvation. No one is forced. But God chooses whom to regenerate and thus save.

#106  Posted by Craig Langford  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 9:56 AM

Hi Andre and Gabriel,

thanks both for the responces and comments.

Both presentations of the doctrine in question are compelling and almost seem to have some form of Biblical truth in them. Could it be that we are speaking past each other and that we are actually of one accord at the end of the day? The last comment by Gabriel really made sense to me... that God turns a person and initiates the process of regeneration and then that person, with the Lord's hand on their heart, chooses to take the initial step of faith, leading to salvation!?


#107  Posted by Cristian Balint  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 10:19 AM

#100 Fred. I don't understand. So you think God planned everything, including every persons salvation?

#108  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 10:36 AM


No, Fred doesn't think God planned everything. The Bible says God planned everything. See Ephesians 1:5, 9, 11; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; Psalm 139:16; and other passages.

#109  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 10:46 AM


Based on your comments, it seems like you're having difficulty reconciling God's sovereignty with our apparent freedom. I say "apparent" because as we go about our days making decisions we certainly don't feel like robots.

Here's the thing: God's sovereignty doesn't make us robots. But we can't do anything outside God's definite plan which He established before time began (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2).

How does that not make us robots? Maybe we'll find out when we are glorified. There are two things we can be certain of: 1) God is sovereign over man's decisions, and 2) man makes his decisions freely and without compulsion, and is held accountable. How that works the Bible doesn't say, but it teaches both.

Our trust is in what Scripture teaches, not in our our finite mind's ability connect all the dots.

Here's something people miss: Arminianism rejects the Bible's clear teaching of God's sovereignty. True Calvinism holds to both God's sovereignty and man's responsibility. Scripture emphasizes God's sovereignty, so we emphasize it. But Scripture teaches man is responsible, so we acknowledge that as well.

Better to hold truths in paradox than to reject one because it doesn't make sense to us.

#110  Posted by Mark Tanner  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 11:17 AM

#99 Posted by Cristian Balint

Quote: "If you don't believe we have free will, than what purpose is to this life? Are we robots or angelic beings? No. We are "made in the image of God." Lemme know what you think."

Charles Spurgeon has a sermon titled "God's Will and Man's WIll" - I recommend you get a copy of it from or read the semon transcript at the Spurgeon Archive at the link below:

Quote: "I have heard of one man who said he had read the Bible through thirty-four times on his knees, but could not see a word about election in it; I think it very likely that he could not; kneeling is a very uncomfortable posture for reading, and possibly the superstition which would make the poor man perform this penance would disqualify him for using his reason: moreover, to get through the Book thirty-four times, he probably read in such a hurry that he did not know what he was reading, and might as well have been dreaming over "Robinson Crusoe" as the Bible. He put the telescope to the blind eye. Many of us do that; we do not want to see a truth, and therefore we say we cannot see it."

Also Quote: "There are two things, then, this morning I shall have to talk about. The first is, that the work of salvation rests upon the will of God, and not upon the will of man; and secondly, the equally sure doctrine, that the will of man has its proper position in the work of salvation, and is not to be ignored"

Spurgeon, a vessel of honor, has a unique way of putting things into a perspective that has transcended time and praise God for such men in the hands of that Great Potter.

#112  Posted by Cristian Balint  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Gabriel, I totally agree with this, "Our trust is in what Scripture teaches, not in our our finite mind's ability connect all the dots."

I don't think anyone has the dots FULLY connected, not Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Not Pentecostals, Armenians, Calvinists, etc. Some may have the dots better connected, maybe even Way better connected but somehow still there is human error. So I'm not saying that I'm right...I'm saying what i believe to be right, according to Scriptures. There is a difference. I just don't see how God could plan for someone's eternal damnation. I can't comprehend it. John 3.16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

It doesn't say, God loved the elect, so God predestined for his only Son to die for the elects sin. No but for the people who believe in Jesus. There has to be a human response to God's act of love.

& Mark i definitely agree with that, Its not how many times you read the bible, but how much the bible transforms you, that matters.

but another thing is, we have to be careful to not see it from our own opinions also... When we read the bible we can't put all of our believed doctrines in the way. No! Gods Word must come first, than the doctrines. but always remember Gods Word= NO ERROR Human Doctrine=Error It's tricky.

#113  Posted by Elmarie Swart  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Thank you GTY !! the teachings found here are of so much value to us here in South Africa. May God bless this ministry for those brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus who seek edifying Biblical teachings. Fred thank your for this post.

#114  Posted by Adam Morris  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 1:17 PM

I must say, this was one of the most important blogs I have ever read, thankyou so much. This has provided "Nitro" to my will to do the will of our father who art in heaven. God bless.

#115  Posted by Jerry Bruno  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 1:28 PM

I am not sure if this has been mentioned but "Saved Without a Doubt" by John MacArthur gave me great comfort about several issues raised here. I highly recommend it - and I have been a believer for many years!

#116  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 1:37 PM


True, John 3:16 doesn't say God only loves, predestines, and dies for the elect. But, as you well know, John 3:16 isn't the only verse in the Bible. A few of us have provided numerous passages to support what we're saying.

There has to be a human response to God's act of love.

Yes, and the human (unregenerate) response is always against God's love (Romans 8:7-8).

I just don't see how God could plan for someone's eternal damnation.

This gets into the issue of double-predestination which is debated among those who hold to election. Whether God actively chose certain people to damnation or passively overlooked them for salvation, the end result is the same.

But even so, God is glorified through the damnation of sinners.

It appears you're placing your conception of goodness and fairness onto God as if in order for God to be good, right, fair, and just, He must act as you would expect Him to act. We must be careful of creating a god in our likeness.

Be less concerned about what you can see (and by that you mean "understand"), and consider what the Scripture clearly teaches.

The doctrine of Free Will is based on inference, special pleading, and question begging--and the rejection of explicitly clear teaching on human inability.

So far, no one has attempted or been able to refute that statement.

#117  Posted by Craig Langford  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Hey, scripture seen in new light is quite exciting!

Found this today; John 6:44, Jesus says "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,..."

It maybe like what was said earlier, that some of this stuff is beyond our human capability to comprehend, like "how big is the universe... does it have an end and if it does, what is on the other side?"

#119  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Christian writes,

#100 Fred. I don't understand. So you think God planned everything, including every persons salvation?

See what Gabriel wrote in #108

Ryan writes,

Ephesians chapter 1 is not talking about a Calvinistic election. Read the earliest known commentary on this passage from the 2nd Century (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Book V, Chapter xvii).

Tertullian had a specific goal in mind when he wrote his book: To refute Marcion's odd-ball religion and his edited NT. If you actually read this chapter, which is rather short (see here:, one could scarcely call it a "commentary" at least one that is serious about exegesis and exposition.


Notice the pronouns in Verses 3-12 are all 1st person plural while those in verses 13-18 are 2nd person plural.

And that means what, exactly? The us of us and you doesn't automatically imply Paul is making a distinction between Jews and gentiles. If anything, he is designating the us = redeemed saints, the church, and the churches in the area of Ephesians who believed due to the Gospel. Paul doesn't bring in the Jew/Gentile distinction until chapter 2 and following.

God chose Israel before the foundation of the world and predestined them to be His adopted children.

You are doing some serious reading into the text here. Can you find any modern, conservative exegete who may teach this about Ephesians? Besides a nation is comprised of what, exactly?

#120  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 6:52 PM

It is amazing how the same folks continue arguing the same emotionally driven points in the face of a myriad of scriptural and historical opposition...simply amazing!

To another point...for me anyway.

The rising positions I see within evangelicalism are two-fold with regards to this specific subject:

1) The new profile of those who deem themselves "moderate Calvinists" (ala Normon Geisler) if!

2) Those who are jumping headlong into the New Calvinism and deeming themselves "happy Calvinists"??? Here is a brief description according to one of the top guys..."One of the reasons that Calvinism is stirring today is that it takes both truth and mystery seriously. It’s a singing, poetry-writing, run-through-the-fields Calvinism."

This leader writes this about celebrating G.K Chesterton's birthday via RECOMMENDING his book Orthodoxy..."A few of you may be swept away into the folly of Roman Catholic sacramentalism. A few others may be confirmed in your tiff with joyless Calvinists (what does one of those look like???). But for many readers, especially the Bible-saturated ones, this book will awaken such a sense of wonder in you that you will not feel at home again until you enter the new world of the wide-eyed children called the happy-Reformed." (again...what exactly is one of these???)

Another one of THE dudes within this genre recently endorsed a book by author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun titled Spiritual Disciplines Handbook. The book states this about its content:

Fasting. Solitude. Contemplative prayer. Lectio divina.

Here is the endorsement:

“I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.”

I state those things to make this point: While we discuss the issues on this blog the "New Calvinism" is taking off in a totally new and mystical way. We need to focus our attention on just where these leaders are desiring to take their followers...

#121  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 7:06 PM

Dear Cristian:

It is hard from our perspective at times for many to grapple with the truths of the Bible. That is because we do not FULLY understand the "heinousness" of sin and the "holiness" of God, from a godly perspective. Even a simple white lie merits eternal damnation. Unless and until we accept that God is good, righteous and holy, and we are evil, totally depraved and eternally lost without Christ, we will never seek the remedy. We must be abased so that Christ can abound.

A friend named George Mattern said it this way: …”There's a sort of spiritual Law of Relativity in effect here--The depth at which we perceive ourselves to be is directly proportional to the height at which we perceive God to be. Put another way, the lower we are, the higher God is.”

God is also totally sovereign in the governance of His creation. If we don’t understand God’s character, and His sovereign rule, we will never acquiesces to His absolute authority and will, and we will always blame, question, and confront God and His Word at every turn.

In other words, we must humble ourselves before a holy, powerful, righteous, and just God “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

God causes all things to happen, nothing happens outside of God’s providential control. He ordains ALL things that come to pass, even using secondary causes as a means to His ends. He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb 1:3). He is sovereign over the sun, the rain, and the lightning, “And maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Mat 5:45). “He covers His hands with the lightning, And commands it to strike the mark (Job 36:32).”

He causes nations to rise and fall, and men’s hearts to become hardened. And I, behold I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians (Exo 14:17).” He causes fruitful seasons and storms. “Jehovah doeth His will in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet (Nahum 1:3).” He gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:7).”

He causes calamity. “Shall evil befall a city, and Jehovah hath not done it (Amos 3:6)?” Our very hearts are in the hands of the Lord. “The King’s heart is in the hands of Jehovah as the watercourses: He turneth it whithersoever He will (Prov 21:1).” And, “A man’s goings are established of Jehovah Ps 37:23.”

“He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest thou (Dan 4:35)?”

to be continued..

#122  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 7:08 PM

Part two

There is so much more to be said concerning God’s sovereign control over all His creation. He even has the final say as to whom He will have mercy on, and whom He will harden. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth (Rom 9:18).” NONE of us deserve His mercy, as we are all children of wrath (Eph 2:3).” “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).”

“All we like sheep have gone astray (Isa 53:6).” “They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Ps 14:3).” It is a sheer wonder to me why God would show mercy to anyone at all.

Lastly, here is a beautiful excerpt from The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Lorraine Boettner. You can read it online for free. Please do if you are really searching for truth.

“All things without exception, indeed, are disposed by Him, and His will is the ultimate account of all that occurs. Heaven and earth and all that is in them are the instruments through which He works His ends. Nature, nations, and the fortunes of the individual alike present in all their changes the transcript of His purpose. The winds are His messengers, the flaming fire His servant: every natural occurrence is His act: prosperity is His gift, and if calamity falls upon a man it is the Lord that has done it. It is He that leads the feet of men, wit they whither or not; He that raises up and casts down; opens and hardens the heart; and creates the very thoughts and intents of the soul.”

There is something so compelling and beautiful about this God of ours that we ever live to give Him praise and glory.

Sorry for the length, and I will address the free-will question you asked me a bit later, although so many have given you some really great answers. Listen to these remarkable men of God and take what they say to heart.

God bless,


#123  Posted by Ryan Moody  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 7:29 PM

Fred, I’m glad you recognize that Paul was making the Jew/Gentile distinction in chapter 2 and following because it adds further support that he was already making this distinction in chapter 1 and simply continuing it.

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Please read these three passages (Deut. 3:37-40, 7:6-12; 14:1, 2). They speak not only about Israel being chosen but also about them being a holy people. They talk about the commandments given to them so they would be holy. God’s plan and purpose to choose a select nation, bless that nation, through that nation to bring the Savior into the world, and through Him bless all peoples was made before the foundation of the world. Also, Paul said that the adoption pertains to Israel (Rom. 9:4). They were predestined to the adoption.

Fred, I’m curious as to why you didn’t comment on what I said about 1 John 2:19, especially since it more closely relates to the topic you are writing about in your series than the Ephesians passage. Is your position that John was teaching about people leaving the church and that they were never really saved? I would like to hear what you think and why. Thank you, sir.


#124  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Ryan writes,

...because it adds further support that he was already making this distinction in chapter 1 and simply continuing it.

Sorry Ryan, don't see it. The primary audience of Ephesians would be gentile believers. Paul speaks in generic terms of those who had been saved in chapter 1. Still would like to know some authors who hold to your perspective.


Is your position that John was teaching about people leaving the church and that they were never really saved?

Yes. Those who left the church left to demonstrate that they were really never apart of Christ's church to begin with. I believe it clear that is what John is saying.

#125  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Saturday, March 26, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Just to add another voice to my last post regarding the dangers of the new mysticism/Calvinism (which is really not new but it is being paraded as such) here is John MacArthur on the topic from this sermon:

By the way, he stated this in 1994...took a while but the foundation is being laid for his prediction to become a reality!

"This final form of world religion described here in chapter 17 is, first of all, called a mystery. That is it is more than physical, it is more than geographical, it is more than human, it is more than that which is devised by men. It is mystical, it is supernatural, it is deep. It is demonic. And as yet, that final form of world religion has not yet been revealed, so it is still a mystery.

...we are living in a culture when we feel it getting less and less religious is not at all becoming less and less religious, it is becoming less and less Christian but more and more pagan in its belief. Our seemingly irreligious world will become utterly religious, totally religious. Not atheistic, it will fall under Satan's power, under the leadership of Antichrist and under the influence of the False Prophet during the time of the Tribulation and it will become increasingly religious. It will turn to the supernatural, according to Revelation 13, only it won't worship God, it will worship Satan and it will worship the beast and it will worship the demons. And all the harlot religious all over the world will come together. And that final form of world religion will gather probably initially motivated by social action, by existential religious experience, that is that which cannot be defined by dogma, by emotion, a sort of an ethereal sentimentality and by mysticism. Mainly it will not be humanly engineered. We can look at the human side and say...what will draw these parts of religion all over the globe together, social acts and existentialism, emotion and mysticism may be on the human level, but the reality of what pulls them together is the influence of Satan, the doctrines of demons and seducing spirits."

I am simply sounding an alarm for folks to look long and hard at some of the leaders who are presenting themselves as being Calvinists and Reformed...and contrast that historical theological position to their involvement with ancient/modern mystical practices.

#126  Posted by Ryan Moody  |  Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 4:21 AM

Fred said:

Still would like to know some authors who hold to your perspective.

I don’t know of any.

Yes. Those who left the church left to demonstrate that they were really never apart of Christ's church to begin with. I believe it clear that is what John is saying.

Can you please explain why it is you interpret it this way? The context, as I pointed out in my original post, clearly indicates otherwise.


#127  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 6:16 AM

I asked Ryan,

Still would like to know some authors who hold to your perspective. and Ryan replies,

I don't know of any

Well honestly. That's a bad thing, Ryan. If you are the only one who happens to hold to a particularly unique interpretation of the Bible that is not held by any other evangelical teacher or preacher, then more than likely you're mistaken and need to reconsider your views.


Concerning 1 John 2:19:

Can you please explain why it is you interpret it this way? The context, as I pointed out in my original post, clearly indicates otherwise.

It is quite simple: John contrasts the true Christians with those who he identifies as "antichrists." Not the eschatological AntiChrist, but his designation of individuals who are opposed to Christ and the truth concerning His person and work. In the particular instance of John's epistle, individuals who did not believe Jesus was God in human flesh.

These individual were a part of the church where John sent this epistle. Other NT epistles speak of similar false individuals who are a part of the Church as well. John says they went out from us, left the fellowship, because they were never a part of it to begin with. In other words, they were never saved. He makes this clear as he goes in his chapter identifying the marks of antichrists.

You seem to believe they were saved, and their going out means they weren't sent by John or the other apostles. IOW, their ministries were not approved by the leadership of the Church. The text says they were "not of us" in that they were never a genuine believer to begin with.

You seem to suggest, unless I am misreading you, they were genuine Christians, but they went out because they lost their salvation. Is that right or do you have something else in mind? On your blog, where you write about this passage in your Feb 1st article, that is the idea I am getting from you.

#128  Posted by Ken Culbertson  |  Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 12:37 PM

Dear Mr Butler,

This is my first post on this sight, but I have long admired John MacArthur's teachings, and I find your subject matter fascinating.

In John 3:3 the Greek for " born" stems from "genos" from which the english word "kin, a group of persons with common ancestry" originates, according to Websters. Websters also describes the word "gene as, a specific sequence of neucleotides in DNA...that is the functional unit of inheritance controlling transmission and expressions of one or more traits..."

So that my understanding of John 3:3 could be, except ye be re-kin-ed, you cannot see the kingdom of God. Who was it that re-kin-ed us? Who is our kinsman redeemer?

Is there some dormant "gene" in all people that allows God to reactivate it when faith is first come? Is that the "born-again experience"? That it's not some mystical out in ether thing that happens but is an actual physiological happening?

Is that what John meant in 1:12? "But as many as received him (to receive what is offered; not to refuse or reject)(I'm not saying man has the power to chose, we know everyone has rejected God), them gave he [Jesus] power (authority and right of privilege) become (again, from the root for kin-ed)...the sons of God..."

Simply put, Jesus purchased our right to be re-kin-ed to the family, allowing God to reGENErate the dormant gene in us that is the functional unit of our inheritance controlling the transmission and expression of [now Godly] traits. And in so doing God is expressed through the believer. Spirituality is literally "the expressions of the spirit"

What are you opinions on this matter?

Thank you

God go with us

#129  Posted by Ryan Moody  |  Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 1:16 PM

Fred, I really appreciate your response. Since you have already read the article on my blog, I don’t feel the need to expand much here. I do just want to clarify what you asked me:

You seem to suggest, unless I am misreading you, they were genuine Christians, but they went out because they lost their salvation. Is that right or do you have something else in mind?

I was not meaning that these false teachers ever were or were not saved, because we are not told. “Not of us” does not mean “not saved.” Literally it says “they were not out of us,” meaning the apostles did not send these men out to teach. John was not saying that when people leave the church, they never were saved to begin with. This is why I don’t think the verse should be used as a proof text for such (which Micah #10 was doing). John was simply warning his readers about the dangers of false teachers and antichrists introducing doctrines contrary to apostolic teaching. Not only does the context bear this out but also historically in the early church (Acts 15:24). These false teachers would obviously have capitalized on their past fellowship with the apostles and leaders of the Jerusalem church in order to bolster their acceptance. But John wanted his readers to know they were not sent out by them and certainly not endorsed. If they had been sent out by them then they would have continued to be in fellowship with them.