06 July 2009

Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility. Again.

by Phil Johnson



cts 27 is that great chapter where Luke chronicles Paul's journey to Rome and describes how he was shipwrecked along the way. Two verses in that chapter make an interesting contrast.

In verse 22, Paul prophesies: "There will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship." But in verse 31, when some sailors try to escape the sinking ship secretly, Paul tells Julius (the Roman centurion in charge of his transport to Rome): "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved."

There you have the twin principles of divine sovereignty and human responsibility perfectly juxtaposed against one another. These are the very truths so many people (ranging from the rankest Arminian to the most rigid hyper-Calvinist) insist are contradictory truths. But here they appear side by side and in perfect harmony in the Bible.

There is no contradiction. Both things are true. Not one soul on that ship was going to die, because God had decreed it. Yet unless the crew stayed on the ship and brought it aground on the island of Malta, the passengers could not be saved.

How can both truths be simultaneously true? Simple. Because God ordained the means as well as the end, and the means He had ordained for saving that ship depended on the crew's ability to steer the ship to the island of Malta and run it aground in the sand and surf. God's sovereignty did not annul the sailors' responsibility. In fact, God's sovereignty is the very thing that established their responsibility.

God works through instruments. And He often uses human instruments. He could, of course, accomplish all His good pleasure solely by the direct agency of His own hands. He could accomplish His will simply by speaking the word,as He did when He first said in Genesis 1:3, "'Let there be light,' and there was light."

But most often, God works by secondary causes—indirectly—through whatever instruments He chooses. He set the sun in the heavens to give light to the earth. Could He have illuminated the earth by direct light from His own glory? Certainly. That is how heaven will be illuminated. Revelation 21:23 says the New Jerusalem has "need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb."

God can work any miracle He chooses and accomplish His will with or without means. But in ordinary cases, He uses ordinary means. That is how He has established His universe, and that is why we are responsible to do as He commands, even though we know He is utterly sovereign and His will cannot be thwarted.

It was absolutely and perfectly true that God's ultimate purpose was for every man in that vessel to be saved from the storm. It was also absolutely and perfectly true that unless the sailors remained with the ship, lives would be lost. The same God who decreed the end determined the efficacy of the means He chose. His sovereign decree to save every passenger did not nullify the duty of the sailors; it established and affirmed their duty.

Verse 22 makes clear that it was God's certain and infallible purpose to save every soul on that ship. Verse 31 establishes the fact that their salvation would be brought about by the actions of the centurion, and on the subsequent actions of the crew. The whole thing was done by the appointment and the decree of God. It was also accomplished by voluntary action on the part of the centurion and the sailors. Both things are true, and there is no difficulty whatsoever, if you understand that God ordained the means as well as the end.

Paul's knowledge of God's ultimate purpose did not prevent him from issuing a warning and directions to Julius. Neither did the knowledge of God's purpose prevent Julius and the soldiers from doing what they needed to do. Remember this: The belief that God wills something is a powerful reason to use every means available to effect God's will; it is not a reason to fold our hands and say, "God will do it, whether we do anything or not."

People often claim that God's sovereignty in salvation nullifies our duty in evangelism. If God has ordained that His elect will be saved, what need is there for preaching and personal evangelism? That is one of the favorite arguments Dave Hunt, Ergun Caner, and most of the rabid anti-Calvinists in the SBC (and elsewhere) like to use against the doctrine of predestination. But it's nonsense if we understand that God ordains the means as well as the end, and the means He chose by which to call the elect is by the preaching of the gospel.

Romans 10:14-15: "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?" In fact, "knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others" (2 Corinthians 5:11).

It is in no sense incompatible with the truth of election or the principle of God's sovereignty in salvation to persuade sinners, plead with them, beseech them—even beg them as ambassadors of Christ, in His stead, to "be reconciled to God" (v. 20). That plea is the very instrument God has ordained to turn the hearts of people to Himself. That's what Scripture means when it says the gospel "is the power of God unto salvation." First Corinthians 1:21: "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."

If you understand this principle—that God in His sovereignty normally accomplishes His plan through the use of ordinary means, it will clear away most of the confusion and perplexity that is so often associated with the doctrine of divine sovereignty and its twin truth, the doctrine of human responsibility.

Our duty as ambassadors of Christ is to proclaim the promise of forgiveness, to urge men to repent, and to plead with them to be reconciled with God. Those are the very means God uses to save those whom He effectually draws to Christ. He does not save sinners apart from the means He has chosen.

Phil's signature

47 comments:

YnottonY said...

To what extent are non-Calvinists actually thinking [and intuitively arguing] that it is a contradiction to indiscriminately "urge," "plead," "beg" and seek to "persuade" all sinners to come to salvation in Christ when God himself has only effectually purposed to save some of humanity? Wouldn't our zeal for evangelism be dampened if we merely thought the indiscriminate gospel proclamation was only a means to only gather in the elect?

It seems to me that non-Calvinists cannot perceive how all man can be responsible to evangelically believe in the Gospel when:

1) God isn't really seeking the salvation of all men.
2) Man is without any sense of ability to believe evangelically.
3) Most men are without a remedy to be saved because God's decretal purpose has fenced the imputation of sin to Christ such that He is only a penal substitute for the elect. If they're not called to believe that Christ died for their sins, what exactly are they called [and therefore responsible] to believe in?

I have observed that many Calvinists on the internet are not speaking carefully about these three topics [among others], with the result that the non-Calvinist critics cannot see how a Calvinistic soteriology is internally coherent, or that it can consistently sustain a belief in the responsiblity of all men to believe in an evangelical sense.

These seem like very important points to consider on the subject of the relationship between God's sovereignty and our responsibility. Agree? Disagree?

Grace to you,
Tony

Luke said...

Here for everyone's edification is a great quote from George Marsden's biography of Jonathan Edwards.

The prototype for the meaning of freedom in the universe, for Edwards, was God's freedom. God acted out of moral necessity to do good, but God was prefectly free in the sense of not being bound by an necessity outside of himself. Human's choices were, of course, in an ultimate sense dependent on an omnipotent, omniscient God, like everything else in the universe that God created and governed. (p444)

PuritanReformed said...

Phil:

great post as usual. Indeed we are to "proclaim the promise of forgiveness, to urge men to repent, and to plead with them to be reconciled with God."

Ephemeral Mortal said...

Excellent post. I think this is one of the most misunderstood Biblical principles. It has profound implications for sanctification as well as for evangelism.

Mike the Bible Burgh Host said...

How interesting to see your post, Phil (well done by the way) while having just read Acts 13 in the MacArthur Daily Bible where we see at the end of verse 48; "as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."

I am sure there is an Arminian argument or "understanding" of that verse but I have not seen or heard it. The verses throughout scripture that support your post, Phil, are not only numerous, but are very difficult, even impossible, to refute.

Thanks for the post . . . you were pre-destined to write, but you STILL had to type. I was pre-destined to read, but I STILL had to "log on"! Blessings, Brother!

Rick Frueh said...

Divine sovereignty and human resposibility.

I am not responsible for divine sovereignty. :)

To the 1st comment: I cannot see the necessity for begging or pleading or even persuading in the context of God regenerating a sinner in response to the gospel given the absence of that sinner's free will. It may be window dressing, but I cannot see it as material in the regenerating process in the Calvinist theology.

NoLongerBlind said...

@Rick:

In line with Phil's post, the means God has ordained for Sovereignly awakening the souls of men dead in their trespasses and sins is the begging and pleading of the gospel-sharing, faithful followers of Christ.

"How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!' But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?' So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Romans 10:14-17)

The human responsibility is to believe the message; only after doing so, and subsequently growing in the grace and knowledge of the Truth, does one come to the humbling realization that it was, in fact, God Himself who began the good work (Philippians 1:6), having chosen each of us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), and saves us solely by His grace through faith - both of which are a gift from Him - so that no one can boast, not even in having believed!

Tom

Solameanie said...

Rick,

How "free" is man's will? Really?

NoLongerBlind said...

@Rick - part 2!

Paul also anticipated your objection:

"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)

Tom

Aric said...

@ Rick: (serious comment/question, no sarcasm intended) I cannot see the necessity for begging or pleading or even persuading in the context of God foreseeing who will have saving faith, since if they are not foreseen to have faith, no amount of begging or pleading will change that. It may be window dressing, but I cannot see it as material in the regenerating process in the Arminian theology.

Am I mischaracterizing? Please provide correction, if so. Whether a person is elect by God's determination, or by foreseen faith, the end result is that the number of elect is finite. Begging, pleading, or persuading may be a means God uses, but it will never bring someone from non-elect status to elect status.

@ the rest of the crowd: If I am off, please provide gentle correction, as I want to learn. Thanks.

Stan said...

I came across this same passage in relation to the perseverance of the saints in the book, The Race Set Before Us. Interesting argument (along the very same lines). I recommend it.

Mike Riccardi said...

Rick,

The Meanie gets at the point well. Your sentence would make sense if you took the word "free" out of it. I've said this before, but the Calvinist doesn't argue the point that man's will is involved in believing. What the Arminian must understand is that the opposite of "free will" is not "no will"; it's "enslaved will." The sinner has a will (i.e., a moral inclination to this or that). It is just enslaved to sin until freed (changed) by the sovereign grace of God.

A second point I wanted to make, was to your saying that you can't see the necessity for preaching if men don't have a free will. The necessity would be that we just don't know who the elect are, so we preach indiscriminately.

1. Preaching of the Gospel is the means to salvation.
2. The elect will be sovereignly and miraculously regenerated by God through this means.
3. We have no idea who the elect are.
_________________________________

We preach to everyone, begging, pleading, etc. (2Cor 5:18-20).

mike said...

I have been involved for the past 7 years with people and 2 churches in southern California that have very heavy Calvary Chapel influence.
They are hung up on the phrase “free will”, and every message and doctrine is studied and dissected through that lens. It is as if that is the cornerstone that proves the love of God to them; remove that stone, and the entire gospel crumbles.
I have attempted to explain that the fact that God chose us while we still hated Him, actually makes im more loving, but they usually sympathetically smile, as they do feel sorry for my confusion.
We in Christ are asked to live in a balance that we find disconcerting, and it is difficult to be hard lined about most things. Salvational sovereignty and response of man, charismaticism and the stance that the Spirit no longer interacts, knowledge of God and Love of God, these all get messed up routinely as we humans race to opposite extremes and “claim them for God”.
Yet, study of the whole Word of God continually points us back into that place where we are forced to stand on the promises of Christ our King. For whatever reason, the history of the Church shows that that is a hard place to stay.
We continuously attempt to elevate man and his role, which by definition brings God down closer to our level than should ever be. This is done with many good intentions, but is always wrong.
The only “free will” in existence belongs to God, all else is constrained within boundaries He chooses.
SDG
mike

The Doulos said...

Well stated Phil. The place where we always seem to get into trouble is when we ask "Yes but what if those men had left the ship?"

Rick Frueh said...

I have never said the preaching of the gospel is not the means God has ordained as material to converting the sinner. But what I did question was the place of begging, pleading, and other emotion laden presentations since that may, as has been suggested by Arminian preaching, elicit a response to the begging and pleading rather than the gospel truth.

God, in the Calvinist perspective, is the initiator of the sinner's response, if it is genuine and effective, and I cannot see the necessity of preaching styles or emotional pleas since in a sense that would indicate linguistic works.

stratagem said...

That is a good way to look at the whole predestination semi-conundrum, thank you Phil.

I will also add that I'm glad Paul wasn't a modern-day preacher. Otherwise, he would have come to the sailors and said something like "I, um, kinda feel like God spoke to my heart and said that unless you stay on board, none of you can be saved."

donsands said...

" Both things are true. Not one soul on that ship was going to die, because God had decreed it. Yet unless the crew stayed on the ship and brought it aground on the island of Malta, the passengers could not be saved."

God has definite decrees, like this one. And yet He has decrees as: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!", of which God turned and relented, because the people repented (Jonah 3:4-10)

And there are decrees from God that He will save His people from their sin.

And also decrees as: "Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people." (Jer. 15:1); and "Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would only deliver themselves, by their righteousness". (Ezk. 14:14)

Thank you for a very good teaching on God's sovereignty. I shall remember that portion of Scripture from now on. Excellent post.

agrammatos said...

Phil (in view of Acts 27:22 and 27:31) wrote:


==How can both truths be simultaneously true? Simple. Because God ordained the means as well as the end, and the means He had ordained for saving that ship depended on the crew's ability to steer the ship to the island of Malta and run it aground in the sand and surf. God's sovereignty did not annul the sailors' responsibility. In fact, God's sovereignty is the very thing that established their responsibility.==

Chris: God actively and directly caused the soldiers to cut off the ropes of the boat. God actively and directly caused the crew to steer the ship to the island of Malta, running it aground. God's sovereignty does not annul the sailors' responsibility because their responsibility does not presuppose their supposed freedom from God's irresistable, omnipotent, and active control over their thoughts, words, and actions. Indeed, God's absolute sovereignty is what establishes their responsibility: They are responsible because He is sovereign, NOT because they are "compatibilistically" free.

God actively and directly caused the obedience of rope-cutting soldiers AND He actively and directly caused the disobedience of crucifixion-performing soldiers. Is God the author of rope-cutting and ship-steering in the sense that He is the One who directly cut the ropes and steered the ship? Of course not. He, in fulfillment of His eternal decree, through ordained means, indirectly caused the ropes to be cut and the ship to be steered. He indirectly steers ships and cuts ropes by directly controlling minds and causing actions.

Now is God the author of the crucifixion-performing in the sense that He directly held the hammer in His hand? Of course not.
He indirectly caused the crucifixion of His Son by actively and directly causing the soldiers to swing the hammer. The soldiers in crucifying Christ commit murder. God irresistibly caused them to do this. He made them do it in order to glorify Himself through the redemptive work of Christ for His people. Phil Johnson (and those like-minded) will then say to me: Why does God yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?

-Chris Duncan

P.S. Some say that God is the author of faith and repentance since God actively and directly works in the hearts of the elect to cause faith and repentance, but no one says that God is the One who is doing the actual believing and repenting. In the same way, no rational, thoughtful, God-exalting, Christ-honoring, man-debasing person would say that God is the one disbelieving and disobeying by virtue of His direct and active working of unbelief and rebellion in the hearts of the reprobate.

Nuno Fonseca said...

Man is still responsible because he has to respond to God for his actions and thoughts. The fact that God decreed that men would have them is irrelevant to the issue. Unless you're a humanist.

God is not responsible for anything because he has no-one to respond to. The fact that he ordains evil and things that he absolutely loaths (and orders us to hate it as well) is irrelevant to the issue. Unless you're a humanist.

God is sovereign and all Christians must rejoice in him and everything the good purpose of his will predestines. Unless you're a humanist.

Like Erasmus.
Or Arminius.
Or Grotius.

All people who did everything to secularise the world from Biblical government and establish autonomy in the place of theonomy.

Worst: they removed the Gospel from the center of our faith, and replaced it with the idol of human self-determination.

I'm tired of beating around the bush. Christians should all submit to Scripture and free themselves from such humanistic mindsets.

stratagem said...

Does the Bible say anywhere that man has a "free will?" I thought that was a modern construct?

Brad Williams said...

Question asker, "If God only means to save the elect, why bother preaching repentance to them at all?"

Me, "Because they should repent!"

Question asker, "But they won't."

Me, "I know it, but they should."

Question asker, "So why do you preach to them if they won't repent? God already saw that they won't believe, and he didn't predestine them to salvation. Why do you plead with them?"

Me, "Because they should repent and believe the gospel. God's ordination of some to salvation does not remove their culpability for unbelief. They ought to repent. They ought to believe. And if they did, God would save them."

Question asker, "But God won't save them because they aren't elect..."

Me, "No, they won't be saved because they will not believe, and that isn't God's fault."

Question asker, "..."

Me, "..."

(I've had this conversation a few times. I hope you don't mind me posting it.)

NoLongerBlind said...

Rick said: "I cannot see the necessity of preaching styles or emotional pleas..."

Paul states: "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Tom

Nuno Fonseca said...

-They won't believe because they are not God's elect.

- Sure. Do they want to be of the elect?

- No. Because God does not enable them to desire that.

- Do they want God to enable them to want it, then?

- No.

- Then he justly gives them what they want.

Roberto G said...

I tend to think this passage is parallel or in the same category as other passages in God's Word that pull the curtain back so we get a slight peek at what God deals with as He carries out his eternal decree. There are so many, but the incident with the lying spirits and the false prophets (and Michiah, if I remember correctly), various episodes in the Lord's earthly ministry, the shipwrech episode, and the various scenes in the book of Revelation. God's control, direct and indirect, is both general and particular. Not only do the "pan-causality texts" teach God's exhaustive control, but we have many instances of it.

Marie said...

Phil,

Many thanks for such a clear presentation of how these two truths exist in tandem. I've never seen the shipwreck in Malta passage in that light before - great illustration. I am forwarding this post to the other women's Bible study leaders from church - the complexity of this topic occasionally comes up, but it's rare to find it so simply and eloquently handled.

We hold both God's sovereign election and man's responsibility before Him as true, non-contradictory facts, but seeing where they intersect can be confusing.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Interesting thoughts, Phil.

Isn't Paul persuading others that he is innocent of false attacks in defense of his apostleship in 2 Cor 5:11? In other words, because of the phobos of the Lord, he knew it necessary to persuade the Corinthians that he was innocent of the false charges made against him---so he is explaining why it is that he mounted this defense and that it was worth it. So in the context of 2 Corinthians 5 the persuading isn't actually evangelism in this case, but a persuading of the Corinthians that the charges were false.

I don't write this to take away from any point that you've made.

Thanks.

stratagem said...

Fonz:
I think you are right about your first post (humanism, etc). The whole objection that Phil is debunking here is predicated on a humanist assumption that God owes all people salvation, rather than the fact that our disobedience sealed our own fates, he owed us nothing, and yet he has chosen to make salvation available to those whom he chooses to.
We can't yell "not fair," because if we all got what we deserved, we'd all go to Hell. In fact, now that you mention it, only a humanist would think of such a response, indicating just how steeped in humanism even we Christians are, these days.
Strat

Tax Collector said...

Ephesians 2:1 explains it well for me:

"And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,"

Dead people can't do anything. It took an external, sovereign act of God to make me alive to Him.

Until He made me alive I could not respond to Him (even if I wanted to - which I didn't want to). Once made alive, I made the only choice I could make - to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other choice.


Bill Lonas

Atone said...

-They won't believe because they are not God's elect.

- Sure. Do they want to be of the elect?

- No. Because God does not enable them to desire that.

- Do they want God to enable them to want it, then?

- No.

- Then he justly gives them what they want.


...and what they want they want according to what they are.

That's a brilliant, succinct way of putting it, Nuno.

Nice article, Phil.

Brad

agrammatos said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
<><><> said...

Wow, this post explains so much. Thanks.

Frank Turk said...

OK: what actually bothers me here is that the opponents of Calvinism always -always- want to make this about the men who can't. How many can't. The horror that they can't. Why if they can't.

The problem here is that election is the Biblical principle that God can and in fact God does.

What we "can't" do is save ourselves. We can't give our own leg up. We can reach God by trying harder. we can't even want to, really, because we like us as we are.

So the first comfort of election is that what we cannot do, God can do and in fact wants to do. There's no one getting saved except that God wants to save.

But the really brilliant white light from the Scripture here is not that God wants to save and maybe he'll fail, but that the sovereign creator of all things will save those whom He intends to save. None can be plucked from His hand. No one can oppose his will or his plan.

And for us, the mere mortals in play, the created being who ought to go to hell as we are judged by our works, the call is this: repent to be saved. All who believe will be given eternal life. Confess, repent, believe, be baptized, and you are His elect -- you are the one He would save.

Concentrating on the what happens to the unbelieving ignores that grace that is manifest in the Cross. That any are saved at all is a miracle, yet God intends to save many. Be one of the many: repent and believe!

Stan McCullars said...

agrammatos,
You seem to have a rather lofty opinion of yourself and appear all too ready to damn many Christians as unregenerate heretics.

I noticed on your website that you labeled John Owen a heretic. You even called him an unregenerate heathen. You also refer to “his heretical doctrine of common grace.”

The article to which you linked regarding Charles Spurgeon refers to him as arch-heretic, Charles Spurgeon.

In another post of yours you refer to J. Gresham Machen as a heretic.

You refer to Arminianism as a "TOTALLY FALSE gospel" and as a result you state that all Arminians “are unregenerate.”

Sir, you have a problem. Perhaps you think you’re performing a service for Christ but you are mistaken. You are judging in an unrighteous manner and are causing division.

At the risk of quoting an often misquoted verse, following is Matthew 7:1-5
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

mike said...

thanks Frank for placing all this back where it should stay.
God is the only true definition of Love, truth, compassion, mercy, kindness, and grace.
it is when we try to seperate the very attribute of God from Him, and then somehow use these words that now have no real meaning to judge Him that we get so backwards on a glorious truth.
this may actually be the definition of insanity.

Phil Johnson said...

agrammatos:

No trolling for Marc Carpenter's homebrew hyperism here.

Seriously.

So spricht der HERR said...

Guys... some clarity... none of you are saved if you're a Calvinist... Look, this video has enlightened me:

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3358

agrammatos, you guys should duke it out ;-)

CR said...

The issue of divine responsibility and human responsibility can't be repeated often enough. They are both important biblical doctrines.

Susan said...

Great post and hilarious comments (some). They could have heard my laughs from miles away! Thanks, everyone!

(And Phil, great sermon yesterday. I attended the second morning service and was really blessed by your exposition on John 10:1-18.)

Susan said...

(Sorry, Phil, I got ahead of myself--you're only on the second part of the series!)

Jon said...

A very clear and concise post... bookmarked!

Thanks Phil!

philness said...

God treated Christ as if He had committed all the sins of all the people who would ever believe, so that He could treat them as if they lived Christs perfect righteousness.

Talk about fairness....

Tim Bushong said...

Well-said Phil. I think that this doctrine is so key for understanding not only the free offer of the gospel to sinners, but it also extends to our understanding of God's purposes in suffering and calamity. We need to recapture an appreciation for God's providential use of "ordinary" means to accomplish His decreed ends.

Associate-to-the-Pastor said...

Ah. Marc Carpenter and friends have returned! Next we'll run into Mr. Andrew C. Bain of the infamous all caps. When I see those guys, I run; it's no use.
Goodbye Calvin, Spurgeon, Gordon Clark, Machen, ad nauseam.

Learning Grace said...

So how does this differ (if at all) from the commonly held view of "God helps those who help themselves." Something about that phrase just doesn't sit quite right with me, but I can't really put my finger on it outside of a Gospel context. I know sinners cannot help themselves to salvation, but what about the men on the boat?

Tim Bushong said...

Hi Learning Grace (me too, BTW...)-

The phrase "God helps those who help themselves" has been used to say that if you take the initiative, then God will step in with some assistance. Not 'tother way around...according the the prevailing wisdom, that is.

Kind of impossible for God-hating dead people to take the initiative when it comes to seeking God.

Ephemeral Mortal said...

Anyone have any idea where the phrase "God helps those who help themselves." comes from?

Roberto G said...

For some reason I want to say that phrase originated from Benjamin Franklin.