10 September 2009

Choice thoughts on choosing

by Dan Phillips

(My thoughts on this Communicating Better post)

To be Biblical, theology at least has to deal with the raw data of Scripture. Any system will have parts it sings with, and parts it groans and sings with — but where you find yourself groaning too heartily, you should take a second look at your system.

I think it's beyond rational debate that the Bible envisions man as by design a deciding creature. "The plans of the heart belong to man," Solomon writes (Proverbs 16:1a), and the word translated "plans" suggests "arrangements." A lot of decisions go into an arrangement: do this, then this, then either this or this, depending on what happens.... This is the assigned lot of man, and rightly so. All over Scripture.

God faces Cain with a choice between doing well and yielding to sin (Genesis 4:7). Through Moses, God presents Pharaoh with a number of choices (cf. Exodus 8:1-2). To the nation, Moses cries, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Fast-forwarding to the ministry of our Lord, we see many choices laid out, and the ringing command to choose rightly. "Repent," Jesus calls (Matthew 4:17); choose the narrow gate over the deadly broad way, Jesus warns (Matthew 7:13-14); come (Matthew 11:28), go (Matthew 28:19). Choices, choices.

Yet behind and over it all is the sovereign will of God, which is exhaustive and invincible, and which always has both the first and the last word.

So should we be reluctant to use the language of choosing and deciding? Evidently not. The Bible surely does it freely and frequently.

I think where we get hung up is in failing to deal wisely and believingly with Deuteronomy 29:29 — "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."

Part of the problem, then, is that we concern ourselves too much with the wrong side of the equation. We gum up a critical difference that this verse reveals.

On the one hand, it is absolutely true that we can't do anything apart from God's sovereign will. We can't live (James 4:15) nor breathe (Daniel 5:23), let alone plan (Proverbs 21:1) nor do (Proverbs 16:9b). His sovereign will is a sure thing, and it is a secret thing.

But how does that rubber meet the road? Does that mean we shouldn't do anything unless we know whether it's God's sovereign will? If that's our chosen path, then evidently it's God's sovereign will that we be useless, pathetic idiots.

We needn't worry about whether God's sovereign will is done or not. It will be! Hel-lo, it's God's will! And it's sovereign! It simply isn't in our power to stop it from being done (Proverbs 19:21; 21:30)!

So look at it this way. If you're leery about telling someone to choose to trust in Christ, or decide for Christ — what would you tell him? Do nothing? Is that Biblical? Tell him not to repent, not to come to Christ, not to believe in Him? Is that Biblical?

But God urges him to do all these things! Isn't that sufficient authority for you and me telling sinners that they should? Isn't Jesus' invitation sufficient grounds for our invitation? If the King Himself invites them to come, commands them to repent, urges them to believe — what greater warrant would you ask?

In fact, isn't it tempting God and rank unbelief to refuse to issue such exhortations and invitations?

And if they tell us that they did in fact decide and choose to trust Christ as Savior and Lord, is it a godly and helpful thing to jump all over them and mock them?

Judging by that last, really-superb meta, I think you worked that one out for yourselves pretty well.

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100 comments:

stratagem said...

Dan you've come pretty much to the same conclusion I did (though yours was a much more theologically-informed route). The Bible tells us to choose to do right and to choose to believe, and so on. Just because we don't understand all the nits and nats of how that squares with election, doesn't give us a free pass to ignore all the commands to "declare" and to "choose."
Well-stated, sir.

leoeris said...

I hope you people wake up soon.

chrish said...

leoeris:
Was there substance in that drive-by? If so, I certainly missed it.

David said...

Uh, we didn't work it out for ourselves, God worked it out for us. Isn't that what you reallymean?

Great post.

olan strickland said...

Dan, did you really choose those thougths on choosing? :)

Very well said and well balanced. A good example of communicating better.

YnottonY said...

I was going to say in the other meta that the difference between Arminianism and Calvinism isn't whether or not man chooses to believe, but whether or not his choosing is determined.

"We therefore say that the act of believing and repenting, is so far the act of man, in as much as man himself believeth and repenteth, and not God; and in as much as no man believeth and repenteth, but he doth it willingly. But we say, that the grace of God alone, doth create and give the first being to faith in us, and that it is the gift of God, and by the power of the regenerating Spirit, that we do willingly and freely believe and repent. For the question is not who believeth, whether man or God; but what doth bring forth faith in man, and whether it be in the power of free-will, helped with grace, to believe or not to believe, and to use grace or not to use it."

Pierre Du Moulin, The Anatomy of Arminianism (London: Printed by T. S. for Nathaniel Newbery, 1620), 291.

Or as Spurgeon said:

“Although faith is the act of man, yet it is the work of God. “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness;” but that heart must, first of all, have been renewed by divine grace before it ever can be capable of the act of saving faith. Faith, we say, is man’s act, for we are commanded to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” and we shall be saved. At the same time, faith is God’s gift, and wherever we find it, we may know that it did not come there from the force of nature, but from a work of divine grace.”

witness said...

I have been reading How Long, O Lord? (Reflections on Suffering and Evil), written by D.A. Carson and in it he brings up this very thing. He called it compatibilism.

He defined it this way on page 179:

1. God is absolutely sovereign, but His sovereignty never functions in such a way that human responsibility is curtailed, minimized, or mitigated.

2. Human beings are morally responsible creatures; but this characteristic never functions to make God absolutely contigent.

Sorry for the length of the post, I jsut thought it was cool that I just read it this morning before checking here.

DJP said...

That wasn't long, Witness. No apology needed.

TM said...

Amen.

And also: amen.

Tom

Jugulum said...

"Does that mean we shouldn't do anything unless we know whether it's God's sovereign will? If that's our chosen path, then evidently it's God's sovereign will that we be useless, pathetic idiots."

Heh. That one's going in my quote book.


I might have missed this link being posted already--and I know Phil posted it on twitter--but it's just so funny and applicable.
Calvinist Witnessing

geekforgreek said...

Ok so the statement about the fact that God's will will be done stirred this question: when we petition in the Lord's prayer for "your will be done" it seems like an odd prayer if it is for God's decretive will so I presume we are praying for God's revealed will to be done?

witness said...

Dan said this, "So look at it this way. If you're leery about telling someone to choose to trust in Christ, or decide for Christ — what would you tell him?"

I believe sometimes our desire to be right theologically outweighs and overrides our desire for some unsaved soul to "choose" Christ. I know I have been guilty of it... God forgive me.

DJP said...

Jug - readers of my blog saw those linked at last week's regular edition of merriment known as Hither and Thither.

Chris Cookston said...

I agree with you Dan.

I'm afraid that some get their sovereignty of God mixed in with really hard determinism.

Mike Riccardi said...

Witness,

It's important to realize, though, that compatabilism says that divine sovereignty and human responsibility are compatible, not divine sovereignty and free will (or, said in the language of these last two posts, divine choice and human choice).

Tom Chantry said...

The biblical material that you have referenced is wonderful in that while it does tell us repeatedly that we must choose God, at no point does it lead us to the conclusion that it is all up to us now. Choose life and not death, but do not forget: salvation is of Yahweh.

What repulses the Calvinist in modern Evangelicalism (and I believe the fault lies there even more than in classic Arminianism) is a manner of urging men to choose which somehow winds up saying, “It’s all up to you now. God has concluded His work, so whether or not you’ll be saved is ultimately in your hands.” Few would put it so crassly, but that is the message lurking beneath the language of decisionalism.

Unfortunately, false doctrine and practice produces a reaction away from one extreme which might, if we are not cautious, lead to another. Calvinists are tempted to think that we must adopt strict anti-decisional language to counteract the evil of our age. To do so may satisfy our misguided desire for apparent philosophic consistency within our system (God chooses, so man must not), but it is no less unbiblical than the most objectionable form of decisional manipulation.

The proper cure for decisionalism is a return to the biblical language of persuasion. We must urge men to repent and believe, calling them to choose life over death, and yet we must do so in a context which constantly reminds that it is God who saves us, and not we ourselves.

I would suggest that the only way to achieve that balance is to thoroughly immerse ourselves in Scripture until our very thoughts are saturated with the biblical manner of calling men to believe. Doctrine is wonderful, and even theological debate has its place, but if our evangelistic language comes to be dominated by our controversies over matters such as these, we will inevitably sound like the caricatures to which Jug linked.

Tuesday’s post, like all the posts in the “Communicating Better” series, is a refreshing reminder for many reasons. What I love most about this series is the consistency with which the questions asked have produced comments in the meta to take us back to the Bible. One reader after another will say, “We should preach this!” and quote the language with which God’s Word addresses the questions at hand. Our goal as evangelists (and as preachers for those of us who are) should be to reproduce the tone and emphasis of the Word of God whenever we are calling men to Christ.

Strong Tower said...

"And if they tell us that they did in fact decide and choose to trust Christ as Savior and Lord, is it a godly and helpful thing to jump all over them and mock them?"

Wouldn't we rather celebrate? But we cannot stop there. Making disciples is the commission. If they have stepped through the door and entered the sanctuary, shouldn't we be a parakletos? Belittlement of a child is abuse and can lead to permanent eating disorders. The new child must be nurtured and matured and that takes the loving care and encouragement of parents involved in its upbringing if true sons in the faith are to be made. Parents should not frustrate children. What difference does it make that the child's first sounds are not coherent? It is up to the family to provide the glue that will build the assurance that comes from the cohesion of the doctrines of grace where grace of faith never chooses other than Christ. In time, God willing Hebrews says, they will move beyond the focus on their experience to the reality that God alone is the beginner and perfecter of their faith. They will know, once they mature, that God does not leave them orphans, that his gracing them with faith does not leave them to their own decisions, but it carries them past the elementary doctrines of salvation to perfection.

The birth of a new child into the kingdom is to be celebrated, and the child cared for with gentleness and kindness. In that way they will come to know that it wasn't just that God provided some assistance, but in fact, like the men of old, carried them along in making the right profession of faith.

Faith is sure and certain. It is not the power of the will to either believe or not believe. Unlike the faith of the world, the grace of faith which saves is not the empowered will, but the will that is moved by faith and always does the will of God as Jesus said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." It is his work, rightly said, many are the plans of a man but it is God who determines his steps. That is why we can have confidence and assurance that our inheritance will not be voided by anything in heaven, or on earth. That includes us.

Thanks for lifting the word ban, you enabler!

witness said...

~Mike

If God's sovereignty and human responsibility doesn't = divine choice and human choice, then what are they? IOW God's sovereignty and human responsibility are real and evident in the choices made... aren't they?

Mike Riccardi said...

Witness,

They're exactly what they sound like. God is sovereign. We're responsible to His revealed will. We are responsible to choose God. If we don't choose God we will perish. But we are totally unable to choose God without being regenerated.

witness said...

~Mike

I agree with everything you just said, but earlier you said that God's sovereignty and human responsibility do not equal divine choices and and human choices.

Why?

Joshua said...

This series is SO good.

I like to compare Peter with Judas in this regard. When Christ told Peter that he would deny Christ 3 times, Peter vehemently protested and denied, and acted as if he had some control over the outcome that had been ordained for him. Does this indicate a lack of faith in Christ's ability to know the future? Shouldn't Peter have fatalistically accepted the Lord's proclamation, as some sophist "Calvinists" would suggest we do?

Conversely, when Judas heard that one of the discipled would betray Christ, he accepted this as a given, and simply asked for more detail: "is it I?" Unlike the naive and faithless Peter, Judas didn't bother challenging Jesus and objecting "No! I refuse to believe that one of us would do that!"

Peter and Judas's responses were predestined, but only one of them fatalistically accepted it as such.

Mike Riccardi said...

Because they're not the same.

My responsibility is not my choice. I may be responsible for something irrespective of my choice to do it, or even my ability to choose to do it.

I don't know how to elaborate further. My mind keeps telling me, "The answer to why they're not the same is: because they're not the same."

witness said...

~Mike

When you are responsible, what is it you are responsible for?

witness said...

Responsibility has to be made up of something. We are responsible to God for... what? In this case our choices, regardless of His sovereign plan.

...unless I'm wrong, in that case never mind.

drmack said...

I dunno Danno, seems like we're getting perilously close to the pervasive and ever popular man-centered decisional regenerationist method of evangelism. Seeing the rpactical ramifications of this error and what it has done to the Church, I'm not sure I can agree with your thoughts on this one. It's interesting to me that when "choice" is offered to people in the OT, it is to the people of God and not to the surrounding nations ( http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=choose ). They don't seem to have much of a choice as to their annihilation. In the NT, well again see Romans 9, and Ephesians 1. I do not see in scripture, an emphasis on decision or choice in regard to evangelism or regeneration. I hope I don't sound like a hyperC, I am not. What I do see in scripture is a universal proclamation of and witness to the ressurection of Christ (Acts 1:3,3:15,3:26,4:2,4:33), a call/divine command to repent (Mark 1:15, Acts 2:38,3:19,17:30) which when it illicited a response was said to have been granted by God (Acts 11:18). Methinks we would do better to get back to the pattern given to us in the Word and rather than offering Christ as a choice or asking someone to "make a decision", offer freely to all Christ Himself.

Keep up the great work!

Mark | hereiblog said...

Some of the problem may be what even Roger Olson points out in his book Arminian Theology. On pages 30-31 he discusses theology and American evangelical churches. He says that “most” of these churches are semi-Pelagian or Pelagian.

Since faith is a gift can a person choose to have faith?

Christian Haiku said...

I choose to haiku, re: choosing to criticize:

Critical spirit
Cannibal... feeds on itself
Let's starve that sucker
ChristianHaiku.com

witness said...

Andrew Naselli has a good post along these same lines at Reformation21.org

Do We Have Free Will?

Hope this is ok Dan, if not... delete!

Mike Riccardi said...

Witness,

Yes. Absolutely. We are responsible for our choices. Our responsibility is not our choice. We are responsible to choose, but "responsibility" and "choice" are not equal.

Maybe I've gotten too micro. Here's the point. In any respectable work on compatabilism, you'll hear of the tension/antinomy of divine sovereignty and man's responsibility. You will hear the Biblical position that God is sovereign, yet we are responsible, and these are irreconcilable with a human mind this side of eternity.

You should not hear that the two truths "God is sovereign, yet we must choose," as irreconcilable. Those are perfectly reconcilable, as has been argued for and demonstrated on Tuesday's thread. I must choose, but God's choice is behind my choice.

If you say that the tension is between God's choice and my choice, you miss the boat. Paul's argument in Romans 9:19-20 is against someone who's already understood that God's choice is ultimately determinative, and that man's choice is 'under the umbrella,' so to speak, of the sovereignty of God, and who is now complaining that it's not fair that I should be held responsible for a choice, that, ultimately, is God's.

So, that's what I mean. Not-that is what I don't mean. ;o)

Chad V. said...

drmack

I would say that if you're not careful you will stray into Hyper-Calvinism.

Remember, in the O.T. revelation of God was limited to Israel and God did not make himself know to the gentile nations by and large but now in the gospel age God's has taken that same revelation to the gentiles, to all the world.

Chad V. said...

drmack

Remember, when sinners reject the gospel they do so because they choose to. Just because they are dead in sin and blinded by Satan does not mean that they don't choose.

When a sinner believes the gospel it is because the Spirit has regenerated him by the grace of God. He does in fact choose Christ, he does choose to repent and believe. Just because God works sovereignly in his heart to bring him to faith and repentance does not mean that he does not choose.

witness said...

Thanks for your input Mike! I'm letting it go for now, well... because it is hurting my head. Some thoughts are just too big for me... after all "A man's got to know his limitations" ~(Dirty) Harry Callahan, 1973

drmack said...

Chad V
supyo

Romans 9:11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—

Need I say more?

Don't equate being biblical with being a hyperC. No sinner chooses to reject Christ that is not on the flip side of election, i.e. reprobation. Notice that "they had not yet been born and had done nothing..." Nothing. No choices on their part. No decisions. Thy were not even born yet. Wow what a mind blower, and yet the objections that naturally come to mind are dealt with in the rest of the chapter. Having said that I think we are now entering the concept of the Ordo Salutis (I really think we're on the same page). Yes we freely choose Christ, but not until we are regenerate. The sinner freely? chooses? to reject Christ because he in fact cannot-(John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.) Notice the word cannot. I am simply implying monergistic regeneration, not hyper-calvinism.

peaceout

Sir Aaron said...

How can you say that telling people "Repent!" is not offering them a choice? It is offering them a choice. Choose to repent or choose to not repent.

One post discussed "man centered decisional evangelism." The problem isn't that people offer men a choice. The problem is that they aren't really giving them a choice at all. They are like a used-car salesman, using any tactic to close a sale. Well, that's not giving them a choice. Giving a choice is telling them what the truth is and then asking them to choose. Used car salesman evangelists deceive the buyer into accepting something else then hope when they get it home that they don't object when they find out the truth.

How many of you wait for food everyday? I mean God is responsible for our food, right? He ordains it. I'm guessing most of you go to the grocery store. Yet somehow, it's different when it comes to evangelism.

CR said...

I just want to repeat something the late Martin Lloyd-Jones said: "God is 100% responsible for our salvation, and man is 100% responsible for their damnation."

Those that go into perdition do so because that's what they chose. Those that go to Heaven because the Lord chose us. We simply need to stick with Scriptures and not get hang-ups on issues that don't make sense to us.

5ptsalt said...

That is an excellent post! Well said Dan

donsands said...

Paul said he wished he could be cursed for his Jewish brethren. if that might save them.

"And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”"

There should be a passion for us to see Christ save all sinners, because His grace saved a great guy like me, I mean wretch.

Good post. It's very edifying and free us up to be pasionate about Christ's call to "all" people; all sinners.

But, we have nothing to do with the salvation, except to be one of God's instruments, which is a great honor in itself.

Joel said...

I have always had mixed feelings on the issue. For me, the Bible seems fairly clear. God is sovereign and man also has apparently free will to actually make genuine choices. This doesn't make sense in a lot of ways, but I've just come to accept it.

What was exciting for me, was I was working through Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 7:18 to be exact and although the overall context was different, it worked in this particular application.

It says: "It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them."

That is a good summation of my approach to the issue. God is sovereign...hold onto that... God has also given man responsibility for his choices and tells us in fact to decide...hold onto that, because both are what Scripture says. And so...don't let go, and fearing God I trust that I will come forth with both.

drmack said...

Sir Aaron,
I just don't see the free offer of the gospel as a "choice" offered (according to biblical data on the subject). Seems to me more of an ultimatum and a command (Acts 3:2-3, Acts 17:30). I've offered scripture references to this end. It is also interesting that the Apostle was motivated by the doctrine of election to evangelize all men- 2Timothy 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. He new that some were appointed to eternal life and would without a doubt respond, others would not and they are justly condemned. Again this "choice" was made when and by whom? (Ephesians 1, Romans 9:11) The 2nd London Confession along with the Westminster reads: "God has predestined and foreordained some men and angels out of his free grace and love without any foresight of faith in either Of them, and others are foreordained to everlasting death and the number of either is so certain and definite that it cannot be increased or diminished." Great stuff eh?

Iron sharpens iron, this is a great discussion. Lord bless & keep sharing the gospel!

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
F Whittenburg said...

I respect team pyro for their lively dialogue and posts. People have to get a solid grip on the doctrine of God’s Soverinty and proclaim it as truth in a simple enough form where even someone outside religion can understand it, because I believe the Emergent and New Age people are getting ready to shovel the world a big helping of "Armageddon alternative" garbage. You can already hear the mantra being chanted now in the political arena (i.e. "We can change the future"). If God has the future set in stone and can't be changed by man then Biblically that needs to be preached. If it can be Biblically proven that man's choices creates his future then that needs to be preached, because these Emergent/New Spirituality people will soon have many thinking they can all "Chant the right mantra", "vibrate their body's frequency" and "change the future" from what God has prophesied would come to pass. The doctrine of God's Sovereignty has implications much larger that one's personal salvation.

Someone posted on the last post:

Throughout Scripture there is tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will, a tension that, ..., man is incapable of fully reconciling. As with all the other antinomies and paradoxes in God’s Word, our responsibility is to believe both sides of them without reservation, just as they are revealed. We know the truths are in perfect accord in God’s mind, and that knowledge should satisfy us."

If this is a accurate quote, this is basically the same response as the Emergent Church!

"We can't know the absolute truth so we just embrace the mystery"

It’s the same response, but just from different perspectives! Both responses utterly useless to the church and to the world seeking absolute truth. “Fundamentalist” and “Emergents” are both saying that God is too big for man to understand so the messages being preached from both sides today are preached with a disclaimer or a question mark at the end so they don’t look haughty or arrogant or they have it all figured out.

I believe solidly the future is set in stone and will proclaim it, others believe the future is decided by man. This is a part of my Biblical evidence.

How much choice did king Abiemelech have? Was there enslavement of his will?

And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also WITHHELD THEE from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her (Genesis 20:6).

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will (Proverbs 21:1).

In the book of Revelation we find God enslaving man’s will for the sole purpose of fulfilling prophesy.

For GOD HATH put in their hearts to fulfill his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled (Revelation 17:17).

Take the story of Jonah for an example of God fulfilling His predetermined purpose in spite of man’s choice and an explination of the two paths photo on this post.
God’s will was that Jonah was to go to Nineveh to preach, but Jonah exercised “Jonah's will” and went the other way. God exercised "God's will" and sent a fish to swallow Jonah and spit him out on the shores of Nineveh and so he preached to the city just like God planned. This story shows that if God wants to use you for a purpose, He will manipulate your circumstances to fulfill His will. Yes, you have a choice. There are two ways to Nineveh; you can either ride in a boat or in the belly of a fish........

There is still much "deeper" evidence of God's predetermined future in scripture. Please don't count me as an enemy. I really do like you guys. God Bless

Chad V. said...

drmack

Let me re-phrase my comment.

Your application of the scripture and the confessions would necessitate that Joshua could only have legitimately told the people to choose if they were elect, which many of them were clearly not

So, ponder.

drmack said...

Hey Chad
Maybe your right. Quite possibly I need to adjust my view. I spend alot of time engaging very militant Arminians (attended an Arminian Bile Institute before the pilgrimage to Reformed Theology). I'll take your comment to heart. I admit the whole "choice" thing rubs me the wrong way. I believe exactly what Spurgeon said, something to the effect of- How can we reconcile the sovereignty of God with man's free will? We don't have to. There is no need to reconcile friends. Of course we all make choices on a daily basis. Those choices are compatible with our natures. I work in a max security prison, I see men held accountable for their choices, many of which were made while under the influence of drugs/alcohol, and yet they are held accountable (were their wills free while under the influence?). I think the point of this good post was "communicating better". If we are to do that in our witness, I think the Billy Graham call to a "decision" type of thing is not the way to do it. I do not believe that all those to whom Joshua spoke were regenerate any more than everyone in any given Bible believing church are. Yet that choice was not given to many nations and still today, sadly many perish without ever hearing, yet this is God's sovereign design and perogative.

Lord Bless!
gnatstrainerout

Chad V. said...

drmack

You know, I've had similar experience with militant Arminianism too so I know where you're coming from.

Don't shy away from a perfectly good term just because there are those who abuse it. Instead, be diligent to apply it accurately.

And you're are quite right when you say that the doctrine of election was at the heart of Paul's motivation in evangelism and the spread of the gospel.

drmack said...

Point taken bro.

F Whittenburg said...

Sorry for the previous long post Dan and the length of this one, but I had to touch on the larger implications of God's sovereignty over man's choice so I work go backward and explain the implications of man's "freedom of choice". This is not "deep" stuff.

If man's choices can change his future (i.e. salvation or damnation) then the next steps of logic and reason would be that since man's choices create his future, then the future is fluid and still needs to be created, thus making man the "creator".

I knew a woman once in a New Age religion, she would say, "we are all little gods, because we all have the power to create life". If you reject God's Sovereignty over man's choices or leave it in a gray area of mystery (Arminism) then a world of logic and reason will come to the logical conclusion that the future can be changed. At that point the question in their mind becomes "What religion should I choose that presents the best future for the world in which I live"? A Christianity that looks to famine, war, tribulation and pestilence in the future or a religion that offers social justice, peace, love, and utopia for the future. Which future would you "choose"? You can see the implications of not clarifying and defending this doctrine.

As far as why certain people "choose" Christ and why some reject Christ has to do with whether or not God has given the person that’s being preached too, "ears to hear" (John 6:64-71 KJV). This may have already been addressed in a previous post so forgive me if I am plowing old ground. It is the "hearing" in the persons being preached too where the "choice" is made by God to give them "ears to hear". So you don't know who has been given "ears to hear" that’s why you preach the gospel to all creatures and let God decide who will “hear”.

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the LORD OPENED, that she attended unto the things which were spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14 KJV).

Chad V. said...

drmack

Sorry about that, guess I was on my soap box.

Stephanie said...

Thanks. This post (and the discussion on the last) have been really helpful for me. I've just come into this Reformed stuff over the last couple years, (praise God!) and I admit that I sometimes cringe when I hear excess talk of "choosing" Christ. I've wondered where the balance is, especially as I've been involved in a street evangelism ministry with people from both sides of the theological fence. So thanks again for helping me to think more clearly about the language of "choice" when it comes to evangelism.

DJP said...

I don't mean to oversimplify it, Stephanie. But I do mean to simplify.

(c:

It is certainly a valid concern that "choose" and "decide" not be perceived along the likes of choosing Coke or Pepsi, or deciding to get some Mexican. But I think the answer is not to eschew the Biblical language (which is full of calls to choose and decide, to believers and unbelievers alike), but to hit Biblically on the weight and nature of the decision.

RichardS said...

B.B Warfield put it about as well as it could be put when he said (paraphrased) that God commands us so that we will go to Him in order to fulfill the command. In other words, God does not command us to do what we are able to do, but what He alone can do through us. Jesus told us very clearly that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:4-5).

In terms of the Gospel, both the 1689 and the Westminster tell us that "he freely offereth unto sinners life and salvation by Jesus Christ, requiring of them faith in him, that they may be saved; and promising to give unto all those that are ordained unto eternal life, his Holy Spirit, to make them willing, and able to believe."

When God commands men to repent and believe, He is not telling them what they can do but that they most go to Him in order to do what He commands. If we are to be faithful to the Gospel, we must tell people who must give them true repentance and faith.

drmack said...

Chad V,
Don't sweat it bro, I can take the heat. Here's a radical (though not original) thought, What if we were to include the idea of predestination/election in our exchanges with unbelievers? Van Til certainly did. As far as "choice" is concerned, I think he once put it something like -- "Well I can see that you do not believe what I have said concerning Christ & salvation. It seems God has not "chosen" to grant you belief, but perhaps we can talk again sometime..." This places the emphasis on God's choice, as the Bible does. Presuppositional apologetics is, I believe the best "choice" for effectively engaging unbelievers.
Also, I still can't find in the Bible where the gospel is offered in terms of man being asked to make a decision/choice. Anyone have a scripture to back this up? I know Joel 3, but the context is that the nations are going to experience God's "decision" to destroy them. In Mark 14 the High preist asks for a "decision", but that is not a gospel presentation.
http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=decision

I do find things like...
All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

I know, I'm probably still straining out a gnat. Maybe I need to lighten up.

stillponderingout

RichardS said...

It might also be considered what it means to choose or make a choice. We all make easy choices or half-hearted choices. Some seem to think that coming to Christ is a mere choice such as choosing Pepsi over Coke. But the kind of choice that the Bible speaks of is a choice that is to control all choices and is a choice that comes from the deepest part of the heart. Many in the Gospel of John believed and were still not converted. We are not just talking about a belief or a choice, but the kind that controls the whole being. These are the kind of choices and beliefs that require Christ in the soul to have and to make.

Chad V. said...

drmack

I can't comment on Vantil because I haven't read Defense of the Faith yet. I've tried twice and been unable to finish it. Oddly enough I found the Death of Death far easier to follow. Go figure.

~Mark said...

Good post! We touched on this topic in class this morning.

Stefan said...

Richard:

That was a very interesting way of putting it (from Warfield). Thanks for that!

Spike said...

Am I the only one that LIKES some mystery to this? Please don't settle it completely.

DJP said...

No danger of that, Spike.

(c;

RichardS said...

Some if not a lot of what modern theologicans want to leave in the realm of mystery has already been removed by the Westminster Divines in their Confession and Catechisms along with the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith. Much of the modern retreat into mystery seems to be an attempt to retreat from the sovereignty of God and throw more emphasis on the power of man. However, since we are dealing with an infinite God there is enough mystery for us all to last for an eternity without the passage of time in reflection and exquisite delight in and upon the glory of the one and only triune God.

drmack said...

There does seem to come a time when we must embrace paradox or we'll go beyond what is written. This would be the error of presupersublapsarianhyperpreteristicexpealidoshushism. Think I'll get a bud light lime and blog about it ... someday ;-)

keepinitrealout

Mike Riccardi said...

Richard S's comment was a good one.

It seems like when people quote Deuteronomy 29:29 these days, they almost always like to concentrate on the first half of the verse, and use it to excuse their ignorance and/or laziness.

It's funny how a detraction from Biblical understanding of this issue (and really, any other issue) always starts with an appeal to what we can't know. I say it's funny, because eventually those detractors will want to be pretty sure about something a bit on down the road.

"Indeed, has God said?"

Yes, indeed, He has.

Todd said...

Dan,

But God urges him to do all these things! Isn't that sufficient authority for you and me telling sinners that they should?

So God urges him to do these things('to chose") but He's not really meaning what He's saying?

So, you don't really believe it(that is, that his 'ability to chose God' is the only possible reason for God urging him indeed to do it) but you'll go through the motions anyway?

Respectfully as is possible, something appears to be wrong with that reasoning.

Todd

greglong said...

drmack says:

Here's a radical (though not original) thought, What if we were to include the idea of predestination/election in our exchanges with unbelievers? Van Til certainly did. As far as "choice" is concerned, I think he once put it something like -- "Well I can see that you do not believe what I have said concerning Christ & salvation. It seems God has not "chosen" to grant you belief, but perhaps we can talk again sometime..." This places the emphasis on God's choice, as the Bible does. Presuppositional apologetics is, I believe the best "choice" for effectively engaging unbelievers.
Also, I still can't find in the Bible where the gospel is offered in terms of man being asked to make a decision/choice. Anyone have a scripture to back this up? I know Joel 3, but the context is that the nations are going to experience God's "decision" to destroy them. In Mark 14 the High preist asks for a "decision", but that is not a gospel presentation.
http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?q=decision

I do find things like...
All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

I know, I'm probably still straining out a gnat. Maybe I need to lighten up.


Once again, for the third time to the third different person, I'm forced to say...

Your (or Van Til's) approach is found nowhere in Scripture. Nowhere in Scipture do we see a Gospel appeal along the lines of "You can't choose unless you're chosen" or "Do you feel called?" or any such thing. Not by Jesus, not by Peter, not by Paul.

It's only "Repent and believe."

RichardS said...

Todd Said:
So God urges him to do these things('to chose") but He's not really meaning what He's saying?

So, you don't really believe it(that is, that his 'ability to chose God' is the only possible reason for God urging him indeed to do it) but you'll go through the motions anyway?

RichardS: The Confessions speak of God's promise to give the Holy Spirit to make the person willing and able to believe. The Bible also commands men to love God with all of their being, yet we know that is not possible. God's standard does not change despite out inability to keep it, but also God is the only source of true love in the universe. He commands us to love Him as the standard but also to teach us that He must pour out His love in our hearts for us to love Him. When He commands us to repent and believe if we are taught of the Scripture we will understand those things as impossible unless He works those things in us.

Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth but there was no way Lazarus could do so unless the Divine power enabled him to do so. Jesus commanded the demons to come out but the divine power had to cast them out. Jesus commanded the wind and the waves but it took the Divine power to calm them. And so on.

RichardS said...

Greglong said:

Your (or Van Til's) approach is found nowhere in Scripture. Nowhere in Scipture do we see a Gospel appeal along the lines of "You can't choose unless you're chosen" or "Do you feel called?" or any such thing. Not by Jesus, not by Peter, not by Paul.

It's only "Repent and believe."

RichardS: It is not only "repent and believe," but there is a lot of Scripture that teaches us about what true repentance and belief are. For example, we know that repentance has to be granted by God and has to be given by God (Acts 11:18; II Tim 2:25). Forgivness of sin is not simply that God will let you go for that sin. The punishment for sin is death and the withdraw of God. For a sin to be truly forgiven, then, the person must have life and the presence of God. No human can merit or earn eternal life and no human can merit or earn the presence of God. Repentance and faith, therefore, are gifts of God by His grace as Ephesians 2:8-10 teaches us.

If we are not just to utter the words that Jesus saves to people in evangelism, then perhaps we should explain to them what faith and repentance are as well. If we do that, we must tell them the One that they must go to in order to obtain those things.

Todd said...

...and, the piling on of words and opinion does not make the poor reasoning go away.

Thank you. Todd

DJP said...

Todd, I don't understand how your question deals with the substance of the post. And as to your response to Richard, it seems a bit kneejerk. True, he starts with Confessions (which are not Scripture), but then turns right to Scripture (which is, hello?, Scripture).

Perhaps you could explain more how your comment interacts with the whole post?

Joel said...

One's approach to this issue is probably seen too in the issue of premillenialism vs. amillenialism.

It feels like (feels like) there's one group that says the Bible says X (that God chose Israel and it was not a fake choice) and another group that says well our theology likes supersessionism so much that the choice of Israel didn't really exist it was just a big haha to God. That whole promise to Abraham..he just didn't really get it, and God was trying to make it easy for him.

Sorry, but that's the way I feel about it...If God presents things in a way that indicates personal choice then I believe that God is not pulling a big funny HA HA on us all. But I see some of this HA HA ness in some churches where they like following human logic farther than Scripture goes...DON'T DO IT!

Strong Tower said...

"You can't choose unless you're chosen"

I am not taking any sides here, but, yes, there is Scriptural evidence that this is a Gospel presentation. See John 6. But I would recommend John Hendryx's discussion on Jesus teaching regeneration. Take mind that this is a presentation of the Gospel where Jesus is inviting people to come to him, yet he tells them that they can't. Hendryx does a good job in explaining how it is that "come to me," the Gospel call, is the same as "repent and believe."

That said, the post was about what we say to someone who confesses that they already have, "chosen to follow Jesus." Do we beat them down with complicated doctrine and heavy handed explainations that might be too much for them to handle? And is that loving the kindness and gentleness with which we are to correct those who need correcting and are not just being divisive?

Strong Tower said...

"Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth but there was no way Lazarus could do so unless the Divine power enabled him to do so."

And more than that, he was bound hand and foot in grave clothes and could not have come out on his own. The Scripture doesn't say, so who brought him out?

Sir Aaron said...

Some of you are making this too difficult on yourselves.

A.) We believe God when he predicts the future. He either knows what will happen or makes it happen or both. In each cas the future is set.

B.). In response to A, You can say you have no choice because your fate is sealed. Or you can pretend that the future is not set and pretend you have the power to shape the future according to your will. Or you can make choices according to Scripture content to know that God is working the outcome to His glory.

Todd said...

Dan,

Isn't the substance of the post how an evangelical of your theological box is supposed to deal with how go about exhorting people when it comes to "choosing"?

Occassionally I come to your site to see how you go about explaining "choosing" and other topics that your Calvinesque beliefs cause to be controversial.
Today it was "choosing".

In this article, don't you do more to prove "free will" than not? Only because you've said here that "God urges him to do it"! That can only mean that God has given him the ability to do it.

Isn't that pretty much where this post came from and where it went?

I think God destroys those who don't decide that His will is 'exhaustive and invincible' .

But Dan, I do see your attempt, at the end of the post, at your type of 'exhortation to restraint', to your colleagues who would grudgingly inform people they must "decide for Christ" and then disbelievingly, double-mindedly, mock them for doing it.

In your final exhortation against mocking you step into the middle of a brawl and starting pulling people off of each other, but you leave them with mocking in their hearts.

That's what I'm seeing here Dan. It might be worth taking a look at.
This post raises alot of questions for me brother. I would throw this thing out and try again.

I'm certain you and I have better things to do on a Sat. than to deal with things of this sort. So I appreciate your time, but only as you have it available.

I personally have to offer a completely different view than they are used to on the book of Revelation to a congregation of Conservative Mennonites tomorrow(in 3 minutes or less). Without mocking them visibly or invisibly.

Thanks, Todd

drmack said...

greglong said,
Once again, for the third time to the third different person, I'm forced to say...

Your (or Van Til's) approach is found nowhere in Scripture. Nowhere in Scipture do we see a Gospel appeal along the lines of "You can't choose unless you're chosen" or "Do you feel called?" or any such thing. Not by Jesus, not by Peter, not by Paul.

It's only "Repent and believe."

Hey brother Greg,
I'm definitely not the brightest bulb in the box, but I have found that VanTil (and Bahnsen) are nothing if not biblical in there approach to sharing the gospel. That is what drew me in their direction. More to the point of this provocative and profitable post (thanks Dan), If we're going to communicate the gospel better, we have to know what "better" is. Better is what is Biblical. What is Biblical is the issue (in regard to "choosing"). Our presuppositions will determine how we interpret Biblical data. Do we presuppose that man is autonomous and capable of choosing Christ while yet unregenerate? This would reveal what doctrinal school of thought we belong to (Arminian, Semi Pelagian ...) This is what can be called The Fallacy of Neutrality. Do we presuppose the sovereignty and authority of God in all areas of life and thought? This is the Calvinistic and Reformed view. I would never bludgen anyone who doesn't know any better when sharing the gospel and using decisional/choice language. I personally just do not see it in Scripture-- i.e. the 4 spiritual (f)laws, repeat this prayer, walk the isle, make a decision, God has a wonderful plan... Check my previous posts for biblical references.

You say you were "forced", does that mean you didn't excercise your free will choice ;-)

Lord Bless!

RichardS said...

Joel said:
If God presents things in a way that indicates personal choice then I believe that God is not pulling a big funny HA HA on us all. But I see some of this HA HA ness in some churches where they like following human logic farther than Scripture goes...DON'T DO IT!

RichardS: Does God also pull a HA Ha on us when He commands us to love Him with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength? Human logic says that we must have the ability since God commands it. Biblical logic says what God commands only God can provide in Christ by the power of the Spirit. God does not just command us to choose, but to obtain a new heart and to be raised from the spiritual dead. No choice of a human can pull that feat off. It can only happen by grace and grace alone.

RichardS said...

Joel said: (In the previous post I attributed that this statement to Todd. Sorry about that)

If God presents things in a way that indicates personal choice then I believe that God is not pulling a big funny HA HA on us all. But I see some of this HA HA ness in some churches where they like following human logic farther than Scripture goes...DON'T DO IT!

RichardS: God gave us Ten Commandments, yet we are expressly told that the purpose of the commandments is to show us our sin and drive us to Christ. For example, in Romans 7:7-14 we see Paul telling us that he would not have known sin apart from the Law. Sin, through the commandment, killed him, but the Law is holy, righteous, and good. It is through the Law that we die to the Law so that we might live to God (Gal 2:19). God has given the Law not as a HA HA, but to drive us to Christ. If the Law does not slay us to our own power and pride, then we don't have the life of Christ.

RichardS said...

Todd said (really Todd this time): and, the piling on of words and opinion does not make the poor reasoning go away.

RichardS: Indeed, but that is a sword with two edges and cuts both ways. Remember that the New Testament does not say that God only commands you what you have the ability to do. You are assuming that man has the ability but the Bible does not say that. In fact, the Bible says that man does not have the ability. A man that is spiritually dead and full of pride does not have the ability to love God or please God. Pro 16:5 tells us that "Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD." Can one that is spiritually dead, opposed by God because of his pride, cannot receive grace because of his pride, and is an abomination to the LORD make a choice that is pleasing to God and so move God to be saved by grace? I don't think my position in this case can be dismissed as human reasoning alone. I prefer to think of it as having the mind of Christ.

Mike Riccardi said...

Todd: "God urges him to do it"! That can only mean that God has given him the ability to do it.

No, Todd. It can not only mean that God has given him the ability to do it. It could mean that, and it'd be normal to think that if the Bible didn't teach otherwise.

In fact, what you have is God commanding the impossible -- i.e., the coming to life of dead bodies -- and then, when those dead bodies, in all of their self-effort, fail and stay dead, then God comes and accomplishes the impossible, and causes them to live.

God commands the impossible so we look to Him for its accomplishment, and then He alone grants what He requires.

Joel said...

It's kind of odd the way things develop. My wife was at a Tupperware party tonight and was talking with the seller who goes to a reformed church, as one of our pastor's wifes was with my wife they asked her about her relationship with God and got the response that God's grace was irresistible so she didn't have to do anything. The weird thing is I understand where that comes from I suppose it is just so foreign to Scripture.

The Gospel is not "get lucky you may have been chosen by God." It just isn't...prior to salvation all the calls to salvation involve human choice. After salvation all the recognition goes to God for having done the work. There is something to that that is important to recognize.

As to whether or not man could fully obey the law, Christ has proven and shown that man could fully obey the law. The choice to obey the law or not is not in a sense a false choice, Christ has demonstrated that. It is instead an impossibility of the sense that no man has or will accomplish it. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 7:20 there is no righteous person who continuously does righteousness. No person chooses God's way consistently...That doesn't mean that plenty of people try to choose God's way oh maybe 25% of the time, but even for the person who makes it 75% of the time the 25% failure overwhelms any good.

The person who only drinks and drives 2% of the time is a drunk driver, and is probably going to get caught multiple times, he's not going to get "credit" for the 98% that's the way of the law.

If Scripture presents to me a consistent picture of the offer of Salvation being a false one, okay I'll accept that that's what God's decided to do, and I'll follow that, but I do not see that AT ALL.

Instead I see a consistent picture that pre-salvation it is a human choice to place one's faith for salvation in Christ recognizes one's own inability to bring themself through dead works (DEAD WORKS) to some kind of Atonement. And that's what it is. Some Calvinism then seems to go an odd step forward and say that placing one's faith in such a promise (as Abraham did) is itself a work. I just don't know if I buy that.

I believe because Scripture presents it as such...that prior to Salvation we (people) are presented with a choice to place our faith in Christ or not. And for those who do place their faith in Christ, they come to a recognition that that faith was a gift from God, not anything I did. BUT, I am presented with the obligation to choose, as the horse must be prepared for battle, even if, victory belongs to the Lord. That I ought to exert myself with all my ability, even if time and chance overtaketh them all.

Strong Tower said...

Two points Joel:

1. There are no good works that man can do before he is regenerated. All righteousness of man is as filth, Scripture says. You misunderstand the nature of sin. It permeates sins and nonsins, so there is no percentage split. And that relates to the second point...

2. Faith is not something that can or cannot be placed in its object. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of the thing hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, that it is sure and certain. Like the Canadian Mounty, it always gets its man. Corinthians tells us that the gifts of God are operated by the Holy Spirit. They are always sure and true, doing exactly what they were intended to do. The reason is simple- as a depraved person, corrupt in every aspect of his being it is impossible for him do what is pleasing to God. And unless he is regenerated he can never do anything acceptable to God because of the pervasiveness of sin. Even if he was able to chose to put "faith" in Christ while yet dead in sin, it would be a sinful act because of the pervasiveness of sin, and unacceptable to God.

And here is the final part, even when we are regenerated, it is not because we place our faith in Christ that we are justified. It is through faith but not by faith. We are justified soley by the works of Christ. The way that you have presented it, it is your work, because you have made your salvation contingent upon your act of placing faith and not the work of Christ purchasing faith for you by his blood. As John 6 tells us, no one can come to Jesus except the Father draws him and whoever the Father gives the Son will come to him without exception. It is a monergistic work of God that accomplishes salvation beginning to end as Hebrews tells us. What you have said is that it is up to man to bring himself to the atonement, because you have said that it is sinful man that recognizes his inability. Yet the fact is that sin is pride-filled, always seeing itself as sufficient for any effect. Scripture says that unless we have the mind of Christ we cannot even understand that we are impotent, it is a truth spiritually discerned and the natural man does not accept it.

The conclusion is that unless one is born again, unless one becomes first a spiritual man, he cannot understand and therefore cannot do what is required, that is, to choose to place trust, a perfect gift which comes down from the Father of lights, in Christ. Faith is not double-minded, halting between two opinions, able to either believe or not believe. We are not commanded to choose to believe or not, but to believe, Not believing is what the sinner is already is doing.

It is faith which moves the will, not will which moves faith. And, unless a person is given faith first, placed within a new heart, he will not choose to believe. It is not in him to do so.

Jim said...

This is an exercise to be esteemed very little. We have determined a phrase does not exist in the dictionary and we want to talk about comforting ourselves in the worthiness of using the phrase. I liken this to my 8 year old son using the word ain't. I take him and say that the word is not in the dictionary (or worse in this case - it is only used in the opposite sense) and need to talk about the correct language to use to equip him. But rather than do that, I labor on about well intentions and how all the other kids in the south use the word, among others. Dan, put some intellect behind the exercise, ain't is not in the dictionary, nor is the instruction to choose. Your co-bloger Phil is noted for a website, Spurgeon.org. This site repeatedly refers to his great works. My brother and all you other travelers, take a minute and read his gospel tract - All of Grace. It would do you well to know the basics if you esteem all his quotes and wit. I dare say if he were with us today, this would not have been looked on with favor. In fact, as you read it, please consider how this would be his voice to respond to this question and use this great work to post his blog for him. The instruction to the hearer is inability, without strength, unable to repent, in need of God’s working, not choose or accept, but all the inabilities and the need to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for life.

Joel said...

There are no good works that man can do before he is regenerated. All righteousness of man is as filth, Scripture says. You misunderstand the nature of sin. It permeates sins and nonsins, so there is no percentage split. And that relates to the second point...

So nonsin is sin? This to me seems completely wrong. Show me the scripture that says that we are guilty before God for the sins we did not commit? The thing is God does not need to do that. He's like the judge who already has us on a dead to rights murder charge he doesn't need to drum up some drunk driving charge just because he wants to prove how bad we are by convicting us of things we did not do. No I think not.

The point is from my imperfect interpretation beyond all our good works are as filthy rags is that I cannot pay off my sin myself. In court people try that all the time, yes I drunk drove, but look between then and now I went to 32 NA/AAs aren't I worthy of some extra grace (generally you shouldn't be, but that's the way the WORLD works)...I atone for my DUI by doing other stuff. That is not God's economy.

Sin is breaking the law of God, granted that is probably something that the unsaved and often even the saved is doing nearly every moment of his existence, but I see no scriptural reason to believe that God is going to charge us with sins we did not commit when we get to heaven.

If faith is just a imputed gift by God with no human decision or choice involved than why is it that God has chosen as his method that "Faith comes by HEARING, and hearing by the word of God.

Dan went through a lot of effort to show that the Bible cast man in a deciding role. In fact this is one highly distinguishing facts between man and machine (See the halting problem wiki it), and now despite the clear Biblical language that Dan presents regarding human choice, people come in with their Jedi mind stuff...these aren't the passages you're looking for.

Whatever...and then the idea that salvation comes from being a Calvinist and that Calvinism is some spiritually discerned truth, has all the beauty of gnosticism to it when taken so far. Look, as discussed in the past, Christ does not in the gospels ever give a doctrines of grace presentation to come to faith.

So someone comes to faith in Christ but because he wasn't supernaturally chosen God says "sorry, your faith was not given by me so it's no good on the day of Judgment, buh bye." Serious? Where at all in that is any room for any kind of security, how could one ever TRULY know, whether their faith was from God or from themselves, they just couldn't.

There is faith and there is not faith, there is no not good enough faith (there is faith in the wrong things, but that's another story.)

Strong Tower said...

"Where at all in that is any room for any kind of security, how could one ever TRULY know, whether their faith was from God or from themselves, they just couldn't."

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...

It is a supernatural occurance, that's how

"If faith is just a imputed gift by God with no human decision or choice involved than why is it that God has chosen as his method that "Faith comes by HEARING, and hearing by the word of God."

But you missed this: Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

God said through the prophets and the Prophet by the Spirit that he does not give the power of hearing to some.

Such is the Gospel. God has also chosen as his method to cause a person to be born again so that he can hear.

RichardS said...

Joel says:

So someone comes to faith in Christ but because he wasn't supernaturally chosen God says "sorry, your faith was not given by me so it's no good on the day of Judgment, buh bye." Serious? Where at all in that is any room for any kind of security, how could one ever TRULY know, whether their faith was from God or from themselves, they just couldn't.

RichardS: What you must see is that faith does not save in and of itself. A person does not go to heaven because s/he has faith, but because the person has Christ. Salvation is through faith in order that it may be by grace (Rom 4:16). So it is not that we go to judgment and it is asked if they have faith, but the issue is if they have Christ.

As for assurance, the Bible does not teach us to see if we have faith, but to see if we have Christ in our heart. Paul told us this in II Cor 13:5. The book of I John was written so that the readers could know if they had eternal life (5:13). We cannot look at ourselves or others to see if they have faith, but we can look and see if they have Christ and/or eternal life. Another test that John gives us is if one loves. True love is not that which the world has, though they claim to have it. True love is only in those that are born of God and know God (I John 4:7-8). It is also the case that faith works through love (Gal 5:6) We can never know if we believe by looking for faith since faith always has an object. The object of faith is Christ and He is known by His life in the truly believing soul.

Craig and Heather said...

Wonderful Post!

It reminded me of Paul's words in 1Corinthians 13:12
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall fully know even as I also am fully known.

We don't have to know and understand every detail of how salvation occurs in order to become a member of God's family.

We must choose. That is a Scriptural mandate.

I think the problem with "choosing" is not in the action itself, but rather in the believer's tendency to hang our faith and hope on that "moment of decision" instead of in the Person of Christ. Any of us could fall into that trap.

Heather

Joel said...

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...


Problematically the Mormons, JWs, or another false religion can and indeed does say the same thing (see e.g. Burning in the Bosom).

AND since the heart of man is totally depraved how could it not be know that the exceedingly wicked and deceptive heart was not wickedly deceiving us? Would it be possible, would there be a way? Is there some means? I mean there are tests of authentic faith the fruits of the spirit, but how would one know whether these are dead works or the works of genuine faith?

What you must see is that faith does not save in and of itself. A person does not go to heaven because s/he has faith, but because the person has Christ. Salvation is through faith in order that it may be by grace (Rom 4:16). So it is not that we go to judgment and it is asked if they have faith, but the issue is if they have Christ.

What does that even mean? I don't get it...I mean faith in Christ for one's salvation is what it means to have saving faith doesn't it? Did the Holy Spirit dwell in Abraham? Did he have saving faith? He absolutely have saving faith even if he did not have Christ he had faith in the promise of Christ.

Can I have a non-saving faith in Christ, so I trust in Christ's atonement for my soul's salvation but God withheld Christ's atonement to me? Is there anywhere in Scripture that suggests this is a remote possibility? NO.

Also I think you misread 2 Cor. 13:5 it says...examine yourselves to see whether you be in the faith...it's um talking about faith.

Maybe I'm just totally lost, but I am getting lost in what is being said here.

I mean when Paul said "But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day?" Do we say Paul Paul Paul you don't get it, you didn't trust anything to God instead God brought you to trust and you didn't entrust anything to him, instead God did all that. Or do we take Paul at his inspired word? Hmm tough choice for me.

Craig and Heather said...

Joel,

I think what RichardS means is that anyone can have a generic form of "faith". It isn't the belief itself that saves anyone.

For instance, James says that the demons "believe" and yet tremble (because they know without a doubt Who God is, yet chose to rebel)

And many atheists have faith in the concept of the Big Bang and billions of years of evolution because opting for the creation alternative would mean that they ultimately must also face the choice of either bowing to the Creator or standing with Satan in rebellion. For many, it seems preferable to ignore the evidence that points to God's existence.

JW's have faith in a "christ" that was remade so as to not offend the intellects of those who insist that God's nature must completely make sense to humans.

Interestingly, the decision to avoid "choosing" Jesus Christ as God incarnate still results in the making of a choice. And, in Romans 1, Paul writes that those who refuse to glorify God and thank Him `will be handed over by Him to reap the harvest of their own depraved ways.

Heh. Got carried away again.

H

RichardS said...

Joel:
What does that even mean? I don't get it...I mean faith in Christ for one's salvation is what it means to have saving faith doesn't it? Did the Holy Spirit dwell in Abraham? Did he have saving faith? He absolutely have saving faith even if he did not have Christ he had faith in the promise of Christ.

RichardS: James is quite clear that one cannot point to faith apart from what faith does. One thing that faith does is receive Christ. Can one point to faith as it receives Christ or as it is receiving Christ? No, but one can only point to Christ in the soul if one has received Christ. The believer is also married to Christ and is one with Christ. Christ is in that believer and the believer is in Christ. Faith is what God uses to unite the soul to Christ. So one must look to see if Christ is in the soul to see if one has true faith. We can argue our souls away about what faith is but what faith is used by God to do is unite souls to Christ. A believer in Christ is one that is united to Christ and so Christ is seen in and through that person as their life.

Joel said:
Can I have a non-saving faith in Christ, so I trust in Christ's atonement for my soul's salvation but God withheld Christ's atonement to me? Is there anywhere in Scripture that suggests this is a remote possibility? NO.

RichardS: Actually, there are several instances of this type of thing happening. Throughout the Gospel of John we are told that people believed. But if you take the time to see what happened to those people by tracing it out in the text, you will see that they believed in a fact but they did not have Christ as their life. John 2:23-24 is just one instance of this: "Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. 24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men."

Clearly these people believed something, but Jesus did not entrust Himself to them. They were not converted people despite the fact that they believed in Jesus.
John 6 is another chapter that demonstrates these things. Jesus did miracles and the text tells us that people believed, but when you follow the text they fell away. There are many instances of people believing in Jesus who were not saved.

RichardS said...

Joel said:
Can I have a non-saving faith in Christ, so I trust in Christ's atonement for my soul's salvation but God withheld Christ's atonement to me? Is there anywhere in Scripture that suggests this is a remote possibility? NO

RichardS: One of the real questions is what does one trust the atonement to do. Is it to save a person from hell? How does one ever know that they will be saved from hell sometime in the future if something does not happen to them now? I John 4:7-21 gives us a way to get a handle on this. Sin is what separates the soul from God, so if the blood of Christ has been applied and the sin has been taken away God will dwell in that soul.

I John 4:10 and the context tells us that God sent the Son to be the propitiation for sin. It is in that context that the love of God is revealed in souls. If God's wrath has been removed from a soul, then the love of God is in that soul and is being expressed through that soul. It does not matter how much people think that they trust in Christ and His atonement if Christ has not actually removed the wrath of God so that the love of God dwells in that soul.

RichardS said...

Joel said:
Also I think you misread 2 Cor. 13:5 it says...examine yourselves to see whether you be in the faith...it's um talking about faith.

RicharS: II Cor 13:5 Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you-- unless indeed you fail the test?"

The test of being in the faith is if Christ is in the person. Paul did not ask if the people had faith in Christ, but if they had Christ in them.

Joel said:
Maybe I'm just totally lost, but I am getting lost in what is being said here.
I mean when Paul said "But I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I've committed unto him against that day?" Do we say Paul Paul Paul you don't get it, you didn't trust anything to God instead God brought you to trust and you didn't entrust anything to him, instead God did all that. Or do we take Paul at his inspired word? Hmm tough choice for me.

Richard: Okay, but notice what Paul said in this location and then in other locations. He did not just say that he believed, but that he knew "whom He believed." In other words, he is describing what Jesus defined as eternal life in John 17:3 which is to know God. This is not a bare knowledge but it is to have the love of God in the soul which is eternal life.

In other locations we see that Paul tells us that faith is the gift of God (Eph 1:19-20; 2:4-10; Phil 1:29). The fact that Paul believed does not deny that his faith was a gift of God. As I Cor 2teaches us in different ways, we cannot know God unless He reveals Himself to us. Salvation is not to know some facts, it is to know "whom I have believed." It is to know God (John 17:3) and it is to have eternal life which is Christ Himself in the soul (I John 5:20). We need to seek the Lord and look at all that Paul said as given by the Spirit of the living God.

Joel said...

Too many words, just too many words, I don't know how you expect anyone to respond when there are maybe 5 different points and lots and lots of points. And I have not the time nor the inclination to work through all of them.

Simply...first Craig and Heather...I'm right there with you and totally agree...If the faith is anything or anyone than Jesus Christ of the Bible that faith is as powerful as faith in fruit loops for atonements. It'll get you a nice breakfast but that's about all.

As it relates to some of the other thoughts the point that I see in some of the passages quoted is that a temporary faith is not a saving faith. Yes true...My understanding is that one of the true tests of genuine faith is indeed endurance. But what I want to know is is there a situation where a person endures in faith in Christ to the end for their souls salvation and that does not indicate or demonstrate Salvation...I just don't see that at all.

I do see commands to choose, commands to repent, exhortations to believe etc. It is presented as a choice for which man is responsible, so I'm going to operate under that understanding. While yes I do believe that Salvation is a gift from God that no work of man can cause to happen. However, if someone was asked "Have you decided to follow Jesus?" And the response was "No I have not decided to follow Jesus, I believe that God's grace is Irresistible and that God has elected me to Salvation and so there is no decision that I need to make, for God has already done the work...

I know who I'd be concerned about regarding their salvation, and it would not be the imperfect evangelist.

RichardS said...

Joel said:
However, if someone was asked "Have you decided to follow Jesus?" And the response was "No I have not decided to follow Jesus, I believe that God's grace is Irresistible and that God has elected me to Salvation and so there is no decision that I need to make, for God has already done the work...

RichardS: I am not sure anyone on the planet believes anything like that. The irresistible grace of God is when His Spirit convicts people of their sin and then shows them the beauty of the Person and works of Christ. The work of God is to cleanse the person from sin and then unite the person to Christ.

So far you have not shown from Scripture that anyone is saved by making a choice or decision for Jesus. Why do you thing faith is a choice? Does the Bible say that faith is nothing but a choice? Are you so sure that belief is a choice? Is it a decision to believe that it is raining or is a belief a capacity that the soul has when it walks out in the rain? Can a soul that is spiritually dead in sin have the capacity of a spiritual belief? I fail to see how that could happen. On the other hand, does God have a choice in the matter?

Joel said...

I am not sure anyone on the planet believes anything like that. The irresistible grace of God is when His Spirit convicts people of their sin and then shows them the beauty of the Person and works of Christ. The work of God is to cleanse the person from sin and then unite the person to Christ.

Wait so you say that no one believes that...but then you go onto say that this grace convicts people of their sin and shows them the beauty of the Person and works of Christ, AND yet nowhere in there does the person make a decision to follow Christ, or to repent it's all, their convicted of their sin and shown the beauty of Christ...uh you've just left out the very decision or repentance that you suggest that everyone accepts as part of the process? NO?

I mean simply, is it fair to sing "I have decided to follow Jesus" or no? Have you ever repented of your sins or have you not? If so, then how is it wrong to call people to repentance to state that repentance is a choice...If you haven't then how can you say that you've chosen to enter by the narrow gate? How can you say that you have repented of your sins? If you haven't made the decision to repent then how can you say that you've followed the command of Christ to Repent?

So far you have not shown from Scripture that anyone is saved by making a choice or decision for Jesus. Why do you thing faith is a choice? Does the Bible say that faith is nothing but a choice? Are you so sure that belief is a choice? Is it a decision to believe that it is raining or is a belief a capacity that the soul has when it walks out in the rain? Can a soul that is spiritually dead in sin have the capacity of a spiritual belief? I fail to see how that could happen. On the other hand, does God have a choice in the matter?

Did you not read any of Dan's post? Did you just read over the whole thing and ignore the vast amount of language that the Bible uses about Choose you this day whom you will serve? Or any of the vast number of passages that suggest that it is a choice (Choose Life???)

So far you have not shown from Scripture that anyone is saved by making a choice or decision for Jesus.

Right, and that is because a choice, a decision is not sufficient to demonstrate whether the faith is genuine or not, but can a person be saved without having repented from dead works? Can a person be saved if they've never confessed their unrighteousness before Christ? And at some point at some time doesn't there have to always be some first time, where someone recongnizes that they stand condemned before God, guilty and in need of Christ's atonement for which they cry out to Christ for their soul's salvation? And if so...How is that in any construction of the English language something other than a person choosing to repent from their sin? I mean how else do you present that to someone in English, in an actual presentable gospel presentation and not just Calvinist gobbledygook? Why does Peter when asked in Acts 2:37 "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter responds in vs. 38 "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Does Peter just throw in the repent for the heck of it?

WV:trymen as in boy does this discussion try men...

RichardS said...

Joel said:
Wait so you say that no one believes that...but then you go onto say that this grace convicts people of their sin and shows them the beauty of the Person and works of Christ, AND yet nowhere in there does the person make a decision to follow Christ, or to repent it's all, their convicted of their sin and shown the beauty of Christ...uh you've just left out the very decision or repentance that you suggest that everyone accepts as part of the process? NO?

RichardS: No. The point I was trying to stress is that no one just says that God draws me and there is nothing to do. That would be like saying if God wants me to stay alive I will do nothing to obtain food. If God wants me to stay alive, He will keep me alive even if I don't eat. I am trying to get the point across that just making a decision for Jesus is not what the Bible teaches for salvation. Faith is not the same thing as a decision. Decisions come from faith rather than faith being the decision itself. Repentance is not a simple decision. It is a changing of the whole mind and soul rather than just a decision.

RichardS said...

Joel said:
I mean simply, is it fair to sing "I have decided to follow Jesus" or no? Have you ever repented of your sins or have you not? If so, then how is it wrong to call people to repentance to state that repentance is a choice...If you haven't then how can you say that you've chosen to enter by the narrow gate? How can you say that you have repented of your sins? If you haven't made the decision to repent then how can you say that you've followed the command of Christ to Repent?

RichardS: When have I said that it is wrong to call people to repentance? All men are commanded to repent. The issue is whether a person can just make a decision to repent while being dead in sins and trespasses. Can we just decide to change our believe on something just because we decide it? Can I just decide I love to eat spinach with ketchup and hot sauce if I hate it? How can a person that is born with enmity toward God just choose to love Him? Are you so sure that so much hinges on decisions?

RichardS said...

Joel said: Did you not read any of Dan's post? Did you just read over the whole thing and ignore the vast amount of language that the Bible uses about Choose you this day whom you will serve? Or any of the vast number of passages that suggest that it is a choice (Choose Life???)

Richard: The passage that says choose this day who you will serve does not say choose this day to give yourself a new heart and do it. Choosing to serve God in the outward sense of much of the Old Testament is not the same thing that is being discussed here. In the OT you chose life when you chose to live according to the covenant and so were not killed.

RichardS (Previous post): So far you have not shown from Scripture that anyone is saved by making a choice or decision for Jesus.

Joel said:
Right, and that is because a choice, a decision is not sufficient to demonstrate whether the faith is genuine or not, but can a person be saved without having repented from dead works?

RichardS: Notice carefully the language I am using. Does the Scripture teach that a person is saved by choice alone? In other words, what saves a person? It is Christ. Does the Bible teach that a person is saved by choice or does salvation come by Christ because of grace alone? If we are saved by a choice we make, then we are saved by choice rather than through faith.

Joel said:
Can a person be saved if they've never confessed their unrighteousness before Christ? And at some point at some time doesn't there have to always be some first time, where someone recongnizes that they stand condemned before God, guilty and in need of Christ's atonement for which they cry out to Christ for their soul's salvation?

RichardS: But notice some major differences here. 1) Does a person just make a choice to believe that he is a sinner or does the Holy Spirit work the belief that a person is a sinner deep in the soul? 2) Does a person come to a belief that they are worthy of hell or simply say the words? If all I have to do is make a choice to say that I am a sinner, then the Holy Spirit is not needed in the matter. I must be really convinced deep in the soul that I am a sinner. 3) Being convinced that we need the atonement of Christ is a different thing than the atonement of Christ being applied to my soul. Are we saved by the atonement by forcing ourselves to believe it or by its being applied to our souls?

RichardS said...

Joel said:
And if so...How is that in any construction of the English language something other than a person choosing to repent from their sin?

RichardS: There is a major difference between a person just choosing to repent of some sin and a person being turned from the very nature of sin. Human beings are born dead in sin and will never make a choice for anything but sin until their nature is changed because that is their nature. They are full of pride and all of their choices come from a proud heart until God drives the pride out of their souls. All those who are proud in heart are an abomination to the LORD. God opposes and resists the proud. Until the proud heart has been changed to a humble heart, all the choices of that heart are proud and opposed by God.

Joel said:
I mean how else do you present that to someone in English, in an actual presentable gospel presentation and not just Calvinist gobbledygook?

RichardS: Maybe the Gospel of the glory of God is to be declared rather than just be presented.

Joel said:
Why does Peter when asked in Acts 2:37 "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter responds in vs. 38 "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Does Peter just throw in the repent for the heck of it?

RichardS: My best guess is that he did not. However, if you would continue reading the passage you will see some other bits of bible truth that are also not "thrown in just for the heck of it."
1. They did not just make a choice to believe something about their sin, but they were pierced to the heart with conviction of sin.
2. Verse 39 reads like this: "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." The promise is for the people to receive the Holy Spirit and is to as many people as God will call to Himself. You may call that "Calvinist gobbledygook" if you wish, but those are the words of Scripture. You may choose to believe that repentance is nothing but a bare choice against the biblical data that our choices come from our natures and hearts.

You have evidently been trained to believe that whatever the Bible teaches it simply requires a choice to obey. I am trying to get you to see that faith and repentance are not mere choices though choices are involved. However, true faith must come from a believing heart and true belief must come from a believing heart. We are never told that faith is nothing more than a mere choice we can make when we want to. Instead the New Covenant promises that God will give those in that Covenant His Spirit and He will work in them obedience to His commands.

Psalm 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at My right hand Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet."
2 The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, "Rule in the midst of Your enemies."3 Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power." A spiritual choice requires the power of the Lord in the soul.

Joel said...

No. The point I was trying to stress is that no one just says that God draws me and there is nothing to do. That would be like saying if God wants me to stay alive I will do nothing to obtain food. If God wants me to stay alive, He will keep me alive even if I don't eat. I am trying to get the point across that just making a decision for Jesus is not what the Bible teaches for salvation. Faith is not the same thing as a decision. Decisions come from faith rather than faith being the decision itself. Repentance is not a simple decision. It is a changing of the whole mind and soul rather than just a decision.

Whoa Whoa Whoa...so if there is something that man is required to do...then hmmm...What a quandry we're in, almost like God is sovereign but man is responsible for his choices? No? Isn't that what I've said since the beginning?

I have always had mixed feelings on the issue. For me, the Bible seems fairly clear. God is sovereign and man also has apparently free will to actually make genuine choices. This doesn't make sense in a lot of ways, but I've just come to accept it.

What was exciting for me, was I was working through Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 7:18 to be exact and although the overall context was different, it worked in this particular application.

It says: "It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them."

That is a good summation of my approach to the issue. God is sovereign...hold onto that... God has also given man responsibility for his choices and tells us in fact to decide...hold onto that, because both are what Scripture says. And so...don't let go, and fearing God I trust that I will come forth with both.


Why yes yes it is...Go figure, and instead you've made straw men out of what I've said...

You have evidently been trained to believe that whatever the Bible teaches it simply requires a choice to obey. I am trying to get you to see that faith and repentance are not mere choices though choices are involved. However, true faith must come from a believing heart and true belief must come from a believing heart. We are never told that faith is nothing more than a mere choice we can make when we want to. Instead the New Covenant promises that God will give those in that Covenant His Spirit and He will work in them obedience to His commands.

I've never said that faith is just a simple on/off switch. However it seems clear to me that man is responsible to make some kind of decision or choice as it relates to repentance. That God is the one that "causes" the choice to happen doesn't negate my responsibility to indeed repent?

If that's the cause the calls for men to repent to or to choose to repent seem acceptable means to show men their need for repentance.

Joel said:
I mean how else do you present that to someone in English, in an actual presentable gospel presentation and not just Calvinist gobbledygook?

RichardS: Maybe the Gospel of the glory of God is to be declared rather than just be presented.


I mean honestly without being too cheeky this is just great just great as to what I'm trying to say...
This is like being at a business meeting person A says: We need to change our way of thinking about the problem, Person B says: No, no no, we need to change our approach and the paradigm we use to deal with the problem. You practically prove my point about the gobbledygook, I mean declared vs. presented this is what you're nitpicking me on?

How are they not synonyms in most of the English language, which incidentally you did not answer the question? Do you in the Calvinist approved Gospel presentation call men to repent or not? Need they or No?

RichardS said...

RichardS Previous post): Maybe the Gospel of the glory of God is to be declared rather than just be presented.

Joel's Response: I mean honestly without being too cheeky this is just great just great as to what I'm trying to say...
This is like being at a business meeting person A says: We need to change our way of thinking about the problem, Person B says: No, no no, we need to change our approach and the paradigm we use to deal with the problem. You practically prove my point about the gobbledygook, I mean declared vs. presented this is what you're nitpicking me on?

How are they not synonyms in most of the English language, which incidentally you did not answer the question? Do you in the Calvinist approved Gospel presentation call men to repent or not? Need they or No?

Richard: A proclamation is much different than a presentation. The second has the word "present" in it and simply presenting some things about the Gospel to someone is not the same thing as declaring the glory of God in the Gospel and of His rights over all human beings.

Secondly, in line with Acts 17:30, men are commanded to repent. I don't simply call men to repent because God commands them to repent. Indeed men must repent, but this repentance is not just from outward actions but a turning from living for self from pride to having the life of Christ in the soul. If you view that as Calvinist gobbledygook, then so be it. It is not that you and I don't agree that men must repent, but the real issue is on what repentance is. A man cannot repent from his deadness in sin until his heart is changed to one of life. Jesus did more than just preach morality and lifestyle modification, but He preached that one must be born from above.

Craig and Heather said...

Joel Said:

But what I want to know is is there a situation where a person endures in faith in Christ to the end for their souls salvation and that does not indicate or demonstrate Salvation...I just don't see that at all.

I think we tend to make the concept of saving faith too complicated.

Jesus said: , Truly I say to you, Unless you are converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 18:3

That is a supernatural rebirth of the spirit. And emptying of self which enables us to be remade and trained into the image of Christ.

But when Jesus saw, He was much displeased and said to them, Allow the little children to come to Me and do not hinder them. For of such is the kingdom of God.
Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter into it.
And taking them up in His arms, He put His hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10:14-16

I'm not a theologian, but have 5 dear children who, when they were born were naked, helpless, unable to nourish themselves, had nothing to call their own and were crying to be comforted. That is the picture Jesus gives us of how we are to come to Him.

When we do this, and our lives are marked by this humbled attitude, I believe we can be assured that we have had saving faith planted in our hearts by Him.

Paul Said: And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

God doesn't start anything He cannot finish.

Heather

RichardS said...

Joel said:
I've never said that faith is just a simple on/off switch. However it seems clear to me that man is responsible to make some kind of decision or choice as it relates to repentance. That God is the one that "causes" the choice to happen doesn't negate my responsibility to indeed repent?

RichardS: But again, there are many things here that need discussion. What does it mean to be responsible? Some would see the word "ability" at the end of the word. The older confessions used the word "obligation." Man has the obligation to repent.

What keeps man from repenting? It is the fact that he is dead in sin and is totally unable to do one good thing with good motives. Now how can one do a spiritual act that would require good motives if one cannot have them? Does that mean that men's obligations are lessened because they are unable to do what is commanded? Not at all. Their whole inability lies in the fact that they hate God and love themselves and the sin they please themselves with.

What we must do is to recognize that we must repent and believe and so go to the One who can give us a heart to do so. If we understand that faith works by love and nothing we do is acceptable apart from love, we will see that God alone can change our hearts and pour out His Spirit who works love for Him in our hearts. Faith is far more than a choice and it is far more than intellectual belief. It reflects a union with Christ by which we receive life and grace by grace alone. Only if we are united to Christ can we truly be turned from love for self to love for God. Are we obligated to repent from self-love to love God? Absolutely. But what that means for us is something different than just make a choice.

DJP said...

Summary: in Scripture after Scripture, God and His inspired spokesmen call people to choose. Believers and unbelievers alike are confronted, and left with a need to decide.

We must issue the same call, or risk being guilty of trying to be holier and more correct than God.