06 October 2009

Communicating better: "decisionalism," or "decisionism"

by Dan Phillips

Now I'll continue what we started a while back. That time, we looked generally at some knee-jerk Calvinist reaction to using the (Biblical) language of choice or decision.

This time, we entertain a still more focused question.

What do you mean by "decisionism" or "decisionalism"? What's so bad about it? What's Biblier?


Calvinists give other Christians the impression that we're downplaying the need for being born again, the need for a radical and decisive change. Many Christians think that we pray to be born again, perhaps using the words of Psalm 51:10 ("Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me"). Or they think that we believe in God, and are then born again.

So put it plain, simple, and Bibley.

Two special rules for this thread. Decide to obey them, or I'll decide for you:

  1. Strict two-hundred-word limit on all comments. Violate that, and I'll delete, and leave the person's name dangling in the wind, as a grim warning to wordy fellow-travelers.
  2. In-house discussion; Calvinists only.
As usual, I'll probably mostly hold my thoughts for a followup post.

Dan Phillips's signature

158 comments:

Highland Host said...

'Decisionism', as I understand it, is the unbiblical teaching that the New Birth is dependent on a decision of the human will. This I understand to be contrary to John 1.13, which tells us that those who are born again are "born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

The Bible, on the other hand, says that the Second Birth is the work of God (see the verse above, etc.), and that God is not just waiting for us to 'decide' to follow Him.

Typically 'decisionism' is shown in expressions like "God's done all He can, now it's up to you." That is to say, the error is not so much in insisting that in faith we are ACTIVE, but that faith is the work of man ALONE. In this it is the opposite error of the hyper-Calvinist assertion that man is completely passive, not only in regeneration, but in faith itself.

DJP said...

Solid first hit; thanks.

David Rudd said...

I see a "decision" for salvation as an affirmation of what has already happened (regeneration).

Understood correctly, a moment of decision, can be a great landmark which someone can look back to for assurance.

Sometimes it's difficult for people to get past the idea that, "I did make a decision to choose Christ." So when I teach about "decisions", I talk about it as a "know I understand better" kind of thing. In other words, at the moment it really felt like I was making a decision on my own... know I understand it better.

David Rudd said...

err...

"now" i understand it better.

now i don't need a k in that word.

what i get for typing pre-coffee.

DJP said...

So, could we say this?

A Biblical perspective:

1. Does not downplay the critical necessity of a decision; but...

2. Sees our decision as our response to God's prior work in us, not our initiation of that work?

JackW said...

Decisions are fruity.

David said...

For the preacher's part, don't make it sound like God's wringing His almighty hands and worrying about whether you're going to decide for Him or not. Because He needs you to decide.

Frank Turk said...

200 words is not very many words, but you shouldn't need that many to spell this out.

John 3 and John 6 cannot be overcome by Acts 2 -- and neither must they overcome Acts 2. You must repent, and God must save you -- but we have to get that "repent" doesn't mean "I'll do better": it means, to be crass, "I give up." That is, I will stop trusting me to do the right thing and I will trust God to save.

DJP said...

200 words is not very many words, but you shouldn't need that many to spell this out.

Challies couldn't do it.

SandMan said...

I agree with the well-made comments above. What I'll add is mostly personal experience.

I remember growing up in a "cheap grace" church. We were instructed to present the gospel (Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life), and then push for a decision. Granted, this may have been so we could get 'em baptized, get 'em in the membership, and then get 'em tithing... but, I think asking for a decision was the one thing that they did right.

Now and recognize that both grace AND faith are a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are still called to go and make disciples (Matt.28:18-20). And Paul emphasizes our duty to tell others about the gospel (Romans 10:14).

All of that to say, how can we call people to repent, call on the Name of the Lord, and cry out to God for mercy in Jesus Name, and then end it with... "you know, if you want to, or whatever." Passion for the glory of God, and for the soul of the endangered sinner drives us to implore them to "decide," recognizing that the Holy Spirit must work miraculously to grant them faith unto eternal life.

SandMan said...

Now and recognize

Now "I" recognize... please forgive any further mistakes you find. And my word counter said 199. I hope it was right.

Daryl said...

It's not right to say that I am saved only because I decided to believe. Nor is it right to say that "What must I do to be saved" is the wrong question.

The lost coin and the lost sheep tell us that God does the searching and saving, independent of us, the prodigal son tells us that even so, we must do something. (That insight courtesy of Alistair Begg).

So the problem of decisionalism is that it emphasizes our decision at the expense of God's actual saving and regenerating of us rather than simply making a way.
The problem with avoiding decisions as all bad, is that it misses the very Bibley fact that it is we who repent, not God. (All the while remembering that repentance is a gift from God).

However the gospel is presented, if "What must I do" never comes up, we're in no safer waters than if we say "God did his part, now you do yours."

RichardS said...

"Decisionism" is the idea that salvation is dependent on man’s choice. It is bad because salvation is not dependent on man’s choice, but on God’s act. It is bad because it confuses faith with a decision. It is bad because it teaches that a person’s choice is but an act of the will. It is bad because it implies that repentance is nothing but a choice. It is bad because it implies that we can simply choose to love God. It is bad because it implies that we can simply choose to stop the enmity in the heart against God. It is bad because it denies total depravity and irresistible grace.

Scripture does not tell us to make a choice for Jesus, but that we are commanded to repent and believe. Repentance requires being turned from self-sufficiency and pride. True faith/belief is when Christ is our core belief and love from which all choices flow rather than just a single choice among many. This requires regeneration and the life of God in the soul. Jesus did not tell Nicodemus to make a choice, but that he must be born again to see or enter the kingdom.

Kendall said...

The issue with decisionism is not in the calling for a decision to be made. Repent, believe, call on the name of the Lord... All of these we are called to do ourselves as well as tell others they must do.

The issue with decisionism is that the focus is on the decision rather than the work of God that led to the decision. The problem is the emotional manipulation employed at times to invoke the decision rather than relying on the work of God to do the invoking. The problem is when the decision is the basis of the security of the "believer". Then the decision is no better than circumcision, baptism or any other works on which some hang their salvation hats as we scoff.

Paul D said...

“Decisionalism” assumes that unregenerate man has the power of will to choose to love God and obey in confessing faith. However, the flesh cannot please God. So, when presented with the Gospel unregenerate man chooses to disobey (not respond) because it’s the only option he can choose. Regenerate man with the benefit of the grace of God hears the Gospel and chooses to respond in repentance and belief because it’s the only thing he can choose. The hard part about all this is that the call, the offer, the command, the decision still has to be made – a response is required to a presentation of the Gospel. Sometimes Calvinists aren’t all that comfortable with the idea of “offering” the Gospel for response. But it’s the Biblical model (preaching the Gospel) and it’s really only an “offer” in the sense that it is a command to believe – those who have ears to hear will hear.

Frank Turk said...

DJP --

Yeah, but he's got a book in the bag and another under contract.

As Charlie Brown says, "I got a rock."

Al said...

Decisionalism is the belief that blind eyes can see if one can learn to squint – real hard (John 12:39-40). It holds that hearts of stone are more like Chia Pets we dip into the Word until saturated enough for faith to sprout (Ezek 36:26). Decisionalism is the doctrine of man’s first steps into the arms of a gentleman Father who would never move first (John 6:44). In all of it there is a firm conviction that spontaneous generation is valid and the willful-dead rule the King of Kings (Eph. 2:1-3).

The Bible teaches that we are in desperate need of a Savior who intervenes and enlivens us that we might follow after Him. At that intervention, which makes the blind see, the dead come forth, and the heart beat with spiritual life, we believe in Him and in the One who sent Him.

puritanicoal said...

This will probably get torn to shreds, but I actually entertain this thought while witnessing to people - "Witness like an Arminian, while praying for their salvation like a Calvinist." I heard it from some preacher, and it stuck.

The problem is, you can't share the Gospel with someone while simultaneously trying to explain monergism. "YOU" has to be said: "YOU need to call out to God..." - "YOU need to consider your sins, and what Jesus did for YOU on the cross..." - "(YOU) Repent and put your trust in Jesus." All of which ring of what we call "decisionism." So, what's called "decisionism," is simply Biblically-based exhortation.

While I am saying that string of "YOU's", I'm praying like a Calvinist for God to save them; for the irresistible call of the Holy Spirit.

If they are truly regenerate, one day they will look back and realize it was all God.

DJP said...

pc, let me hint at a thought:

I actually think that it's the person who's afraid to call for decisive faith who is not being a very believingly Bibley Calvinist.

donsands said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
RichardS said...

Puritanicoal: "YOU" has to be said: "YOU need to call out to God..." - "YOU need to consider your sins, and what Jesus did for YOU on the cross..." - "(YOU) Repent and put your trust in Jesus." All of which ring of what we call "decisionism." So, what's called "decisionism," is simply Biblically-based exhortation.

RichardS: But what does the person need to call out to God for? Does the person need to consider his or her sins or be convicted of those sins and repent of them? What did Jesus do on the cross for that particular person? Do we see that in any evangelism in the Bible? Do we ever read in the Bible of telling people to put their trust in Christ?

DJP said...

2 0 0

Daryl said...

"Do we ever read in the Bible of telling people to put their trust in Christ?"

What is repentance, if not putting ones trust in Christ?

A better question is, where in the Bible do we see anyone not telling a prospective convert to do something? I think never.

stratagem said...

So I wonder if I erred theologically when I put together this short evangelistic video? In one part is says "the rest is up to you!" What should I have said, instead?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPHCdaDE2hY

puritanicoal said...

Richard - please note the intentional placement of ellipses in my response.

Gov98 said...

To the extent that decisionalism is defined to mean "a decision saves" this is dangerous because it is God who saves.

To the extent that decisionalism may mean that a person must Repent and Believe in the death burial, resurrection of Jesus Christ for their soul's salvation then...this is the Gospel.

RichardS said...

Repentance:

II Tim 2:24 The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.


Matthew 18:3 and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. [are converted is passive here]

Daryl said...

Stratagem,

As I see it, the problem is that one whole frame. We can't know if Jesus gave anything to save a given person, unless we can know if they are among the elect.

I'd go with Hebrews

"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts"

or something like that.

Daryl said...

RichardS,

What must I do to be save?

Daryl said...

...saved? (Of course)

DJP said...

Just a RichardS note:

I'll let people answer RichardS another time or two, then we'll be done. He has a history of asking the same already-answered question over and over and over and over.

Tom Chantry said...

Decisionalism: "God did his part; you do the rest."

Biblical Call for Decision: "Only Christ saves sinners; beg Him to save you."

(22 words)

Daryl said...

I think the key is to get away from the idea that Jesus died for Bob's sins.
Maybe he did, maybe he didn't.

What we do know is that if Bob repents, God won't turn him away.

That might help with avoiding the "God's part, Your part" kind of idea.

olan strickland said...

There is a big difference between calling for a decision and decisionalism or decisionism. In calling for a decision it is God who is issuing the invitation through His servants whom He sent out to call those invited. This is the general call of the gospel that goes out to many but responded to only by a few. The general call is the effectual call for the few that are chosen (Matthew 22:1-14).

In decisionism the invitation is reversed and the sinner issues God an invitation in essence saying to Him that I will come but by my own terms and my own power. In this case the person remains in his sin and is not clothed with the proper garments of the righteousness of Christ (Matthew 22:11-14).

puritanicoal said...

DJP - I agree. That was my point, but wasn't stated as succinctly. We must point them toward a "decision." But, as Gov98 correctly points out, the decision itself is not what saves. We should not, as Paul Washer says, "Popishly proclaim" someone as saved based solely on their decision/profession.

Tom Chantry said...

To put it less succinctly: “decisionalism” is a system which sets up an artificial step or series of steps - either physical or verbal - which the sinner must take in order to achieve salvation. The implication is that while God has graciously made salvation available, in the end it is the sinner’s decision to take the final steps which make salvation his.

The biblical call to believe on Christ, on the other hand, consistently communicates not that Jesus has propped open the door through which you must leap if you would be saved, but instead that Jesus saves sinners! The sinner is still told to do something: to believe in the only Savior of sinners.

Underlying this approach is an appreciation of God’s sovereignty in salvation. While sovereignty is not the gospel, it determines how the gospel is presented. We call men to do something because the Scriptures do so. We must not, however, frame that call in words which give the appearance that our decision is the sovereign act which saves. Rather, we must use words which emphasize the essential gospel truth: Jesus saves: “Since He alone can save, go to Him and ask Him to save you.”

RichardS said...

Daryl said...
RichardS,

What must I do to be saved?

RichardS: One must be born again (from above) and repent and believe. However, once we say that a person must repent and believe we must tell them what it truly means to repent and what it truly means to believe. Once we begin to explain the biblical teaching on those things, we get beyond a mere decision. Paul told the Phillipian jailer to believe on Christ (Acts 16:31), yet he then went in v. 32 to speak the word of the Lord to him.

DJP said...
Just a RichardS note:

I'll let people answer RichardS another time or two, then we'll be done. He has a history of asking the same already-answered question over and over and over and over.

RichardS: I have made very few posts on very few threads here. Perhaps you have way overstated the case.

donsands said...

"2 0 0"

Man, I done forgot. Funny how sometimes I ramble on without using my brains.

This is another fine post, and good way to encourage one another with good deep subjects to discuss.


I don't mind telling unbelievers: "It's between you and the Lord. You have to make a choice. Chose whom you will serve."
"It might be the devil, or it might be the Lord."

Of course the Gospel of Christ is presented in it's pure truth, first, and that can lead to many questions and dialog can go hither and yonder.

And of corse the huamn heart is as hard as granite, and so God has to make it flesh, doesn't He?
But we needn't worry about that aspect.
We simply share the good news, so that others will glorify and worship Christ, who is worthy to be honored in all the earth. And we also know that the Father seeks for those who will worship Him in Spirit and truth.

161 I think.

RichardS said...

This question might also "demand" an answer as to what salvation is. Colossians 1:13 says that it is to be "rescued...from the domain of darkness, and transferred...to the kingdom of His beloved Son. In the Gospels Jesus went around preaching the Gospel of the kingdom. It is not just being saved from hell sometime in the future. We cannot just make a decision to be delivered from the dominion of darkness and of the devil. It must actually be done and only God can do that.

We must also look at the extent of the application of redemption. Can we just decide to apply salvation to ourselves or is it the Spirit that applies salvation? Did Christ accomplish the whole of salvation for the Spirit to apply? Can we look to ourselves to look to Christ? Of course not. To rest in Christ alone for salvation is to rest in Him alone for the whole of salvation. That includes repentance and faith.

DJP said...

Already answered here, and many many times, Richard.

Did you have any new questions, germane to the post?

Stan McCullars said...

God doing the work in no way means the decision of the believer is anything less than an actual decision.

Everyone should repent and turn to God (Acts 26:20) which involves a decision.

At the same time it is God who grant(s) them repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25).

All Scripture is breathed out by God... (2 Timothy 3:16) and yet no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

Just as God's breath(ing) out or carrying (men) along by the Holy Spirit does not change the fact that men spoke neither does God granting them repentance change the fact that people should repent and turn to God.

Dave .... said...

There is only One who calls irresistibly. That a "decision".

Put the bit in your mouth and have Him the reins. That's "decisional".

(I think)

Dave ....

MSC said...

Decisionalism says a person can act against his nature. A decision for Christ requires a new nature.

DJP said...

Ooh, sweeet, MSC.

Barbara said...

I'm confused, I don't see where RichardS pose any questions that he didn't answer in the same comment, but I did see Daryl ask RichardS a question, and then DJP offering to allow a couple of responses to RichardS's question (which I can't find?) as opposed to Daryl's. Am I missing something?

Back to my corner now.

Everyday Mommy© said...

Decisionalism: "And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" Matthew 19:16

Bibley: "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" Romans 7:24

Sir Brass said...

"Decisionalism," is the unbiblical belief that one's decision actually has an effect upon one's justification.

This is wrong b/c we are told that we are justified by faith alone apart from works so that no man may boast. To say that man actually has a work done in which his response effects salvation robs God of His rightful glory and sovereign freedom in salvation.

It is MORE biblical to say that our "decision" to follow Christ is a free choice that comes about as a result of God's regeneration and granting the gift of faith. No one who has been regenerated will faith to freely choose to follow Christ.

Sir Brass said...

oops, that last sentence should be: " one who has been regenerated will fail to freely choose to follow Christ."

Sir Brass said...

Yet another correction, that correction should say NO one.

Oi vey

DJP said...

OK, now, so do I have to count all comments about the same comment towards the 200 word limit...?

Sir Brass said...

Even if you do, it still fits. The original comment was only about 110 words. ;)

DJP said...

Counting that one too.

:^P

Sir Brass said...

Hey, if this interface had an "edit" feature, I would've made use of it ;^)

Sir Aaron said...

We can't get around the fact that there was an answer to "What must I do to be saved?" Both Faith and repentance, I dare say, require that a decision be made. We know, as Calvinists, that God both enables and convinces us to make such a decision. But since we can't tell who God so enabled, we just have to tell people that a decision must be made (again repentance and faith implies a decision).

The problem as I see it, is that many evangelicals believe that because somebody says they've repented and believe, that it actually makes it so. People say things all the time they don't mean. How often have you made your kids apologize when they aren't really sorry? (at least at the time...my kid is either sorry or will be shortly thereafter.)

Rob Bailey said...

Making a decision implies there is a choice. There are three people that have ever lived that had a choice. Adam, Eve, and Jesus. Everyone else falls into the category of James 1:14 and Romans 5. It is kinda like someone doing life in prison. You don't just wake up in the morning and decide to go to the zoo. Even if they do good on their own, they are still prisoners. You must understand the dire reality of Genesis 3 to understand the whole rest of the story, including "decisions."

Rachael Starke said...

"Decisionism" is the potentially fatal practice of encouraging people to put their trust in

a piece of paper they filled out and dropped in a collection plate,

or a pinecone they threw in a fire at Jr. High camp,

instead of a Person who died on a cross and rose again.

Craig and Heather said...

So put it plain, simple, and Bibley.

One endearing feature of this site is the high-handed, unintelligible scholarliness of it's authors!

Placing faith in a "decision" is like laying the foundation for a house on a creek bank. Circumstances can easily change the desired shape of the structure.

It isn't antiscriptural though, to recognize that one has placed faith in Christ--and then be able to refer back to precisely what brought them to that point.

Bibleyness:
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 ...Therefore, choose life, so that both you and your seed may live...For He is your life and the length of your days...

Joshua 25:15
...choose this day whom you will serve..

When confronted with the Truth, do we not find ourselves in a position of needing to make a choice?

Heather

Daryl said...

Rob Bailey,

There IS a choice. True, it's ultimately enabled by God, but it still is a choice.

Rhology said...

I can't get over how much I like the word "Bibly" and its derivatives.

Stan McCullars said...

Rob,
Making a decision implies there is a choice. There are three people that have ever lived that had a choice. Adam, Eve, and Jesus.

Adam, Eve and Jesus were the only three people who had a choice using a will that had not been marred by sin.

Everyone else still makes choices it's just that they do so with a sin-stained will. The fall did not make us robots or puppets.

stratagem said...

Daryl-thanks for the feedback on my video as it relates to this topic.
You said:
As I see it, the problem is that one whole frame. We can't know if Jesus gave anything to save a given person, unless we can know if they are among the elect.

That's true of course, but shouldn't we presume that He did something for that person, since we don't know otherwise?

You also said:
I'd go with Hebrews
"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
"

Actually I did use that very verse, two or three frames later. (Even though it is God who actually decides whether they harden their hearts or not). Great minds...

Mz.Soulll :) said...

Can I just say, that while I have little to offer to this discussion, being newly reformed, and learning every day by the grace of God, that I have been truly blessed by the discussion so far...I haven't even finished the page...but there are so many points that have been made that answer some questions of mine. I'm glad that I browsed the site today. Good bread.

Rob Bailey said...

Daryl,

questions:

Did you have a choice about being born w/ a sin nature?

Were you there when God chose you before the foundation of the earth?

Can you do anything to throw a wrench into the truth of Romans 8:39?

Over and over again in the OT and NT, the emphasis on choice, is that God chose us. The only reference to our choice that I can find in the NT is John 15:16.

Rob Bailey said...

Not robots or puppets. The Bible calls us slaves. Slaves do not choose their condition.

CR said...

What's bad about decionalism?

The gospel is not primarily an appeal to us to do anything including making a decision. That is not good news. If we simply tell people that they need to make a decision for Christ so that they can be better and that they need to make a great effort to make this decision for Christ, so that they can be better, that is not good news.

The Good News concerns Jesus. It concerns what God the Father has done, what the Father has initiated, what the Father has planned. The gospel is a proclamation of what God has already done, His power. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believes. It is not primarily a petition for men to make a decision for themselves.

Frank Turk said...

Rob Bailey --

While I agree with everything you have said so far, I think you also have to find where the command to repent lies on that landscape.

People do something. They are not, as you say, robots or puppets -- but they are moral agents, and do something.

The problem of being a slave to sin winds up being also the problem of how a slave will respoind to the declaration that the king has paid his debt.

Rob Bailey said...

:)
Everything I have said has been biblical. I have not said everything the Bible has to say about the issue, as you have pointed out. And I agree w/ everything you said in your latest comment. If I am going to join the mix, I want to mix it up.

CR said...

Frank,

I’m sure you would agree that the gospel is not merely an announcement to repent and exercise faith nor is it merely announcement of God's forgiveness of sins. This may come as a shock to many people but the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins - this was something that was known under the Old Covenant. There is a great and wonderful doctrine of the forgiveness of sins and faith and repentance in the Old Testament. There are abundant statements about repentance in the Old Testament. Repentance and our decision to repent, in and of itself, is not the good news. See my above post on what the good news is.

Rob Bailey said...

In much the same way I can show you from scripture that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man, while not being able to understand completely the dynamics of the two truths; I can show you from scripture that God chose us and that we have volition, I cannot completely understand the apparent paradox. I'm just hoping someone will dig into volition from a biblical perspective. Then we can discuss how God's sovereignty and man's volition play out in the salvation of the lost.

Paul D said...

@Rob Bailey
Maybe I’m missing the point – but I’m trying to think through your line: “Then we can discuss how God's sovereignty and man's volition play out in the salvation of the lost.”

The only way I see volition related to the salvation of the lost is that believers should have the volition to speak the gospel – how are they to hear unless someone tells them Romans 10:14. So, I would say that volition on the part of believers is required to speak the truth of the gospel to all who will hear. And this relates to the original post in that each presentation of the Gospel requires a response, a decision. But the presentation of the Gospel is not in such a way as to appeal to the volition of the lost, but to allow the power of the Gospel to have its effect on those whom God wills it.

Craig and Heather said...

This may come as a shock to many people but the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins - this was something that was known under the Old Covenant. There is a great and wonderful doctrine of the forgiveness of sins and faith and repentance in the Old Testament.

Amen to that! Salvation is by faith in God alone and always has been.

H

Phil said...

There is nothing really wrong with Decisionalism so long as you teach the people later who chose who first.
The crime comes in when you lay the stress on the man and what he must do, rather than Jesus and what He has done.

Craig and Heather said...

On the one hand, God does the choosing.

On the other hand, man is held responsible for his choices.

Doesn't seem 'fair', does it?

I always end up back at:

No, but, O man, who are you who replies against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him who formed it, Why have you made me this way? Romans 9:20

If He said it, I need to believe it--even if I can't fully understand or explain it.


Heather

Gov98 said...

On the one hand, God does the choosing.

On the other hand, man is held responsible for his choices.


It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who (AC)fears God comes forth with both of them. Ecclesiastes 7:18

Rob Bailey said...

To put it simply, God chose me, therefore when I heard a plea to repent (from one of the staunchest of the staunch Calvinists ever), I chose to obey the call. Was it a real choice? Yes. Could I have made that decision w/o having first been chosen by God? No.

The other posts were an attempt to generate more conversation.

Scott said...

Is our response then, the first act of sanctification predicated on the judicial act of God that gives the gift of faith?

Tim Graham said...

"Decisionism" is the theological assigning of the cause of our decisions to the independent action of the human will. More "bibley" is the assigning of God as the ultimate Cause of the action of the human will.

It's not wrong to call people to decision and repentance. We must answer the question "What must I do to be saved?". But in doing that we must exalt God as the One Whose decision determined what the human in question decided.

Michelle said...

In my mind, telling someone to make a decision for Christ in order to be made alive spiritually is like Jesus telling Lazarus to come forth in order to be made alive physically. Jesus didn't say "Lazarus, I long to raise you from the dead, but I can do nothing until you choose to get up." In both cases, active obedience necessarily follows genuine regeneration, but physically dead men don't come forth and spiritually dead men don't repent and believe.

PaulT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

Post = 187 words

Fewer than 50 of those words:

Two special rules for this thread. Decide to obey them, or I'll decide for you:

1. Strict two-hundred-word limit on all comments. Violate that, and I'll delete, and leave the person's name dangling in the wind, as a grim warning to wordy fellow-travelers.

2. In-house discussion; Calvinists only.

RichardS said...

Phil: There is nothing really wrong with Decisionalism so long as you teach the people later who chose who first.

RichardS: It seems odd that we are to refrain from telling people the truth about the nature of faith. If a person is saved through faith alone, it seems that it would be important to know something about where that faith came from in order to know what that faith is really like. If unbelievers think of faith as simply a decision, they have missed what faith in Christ really is.

Tim Graham said...

Michelle, it's true enough that a dead man can't come to life without regeneration -- but as it turns out the call for decision is, for many, the means by which they hear the Savior saying "Lazarus, come forth". Those who have ears to hear, will hear.

bp said...

Here's a question: Is it wrong to ask people to "consider" what you are telling them or what the Bible says? As in..."I'd really encourage you to read and consider what the Bible says.

Or does that kind of speech undermine the fact that God does the choosing?

Michelle said...

Tim: "... as it turns out the call for decision is, for many, the means by which they hear the Savior saying "Lazarus, come forth"."

That makes sense to me. But before the call for decision, their hearing the gospel (the power of God to salvation) is the means by which they are regenerated.

Frank Turk said...

CR:

We agree on so much - probably about 98%+ of theology - and yet whenever I read your comments across the blogosphere I often find myself cringing.

It is simply tunnel vision to say that the Gospel is "what God has done". Every time I hear Michael Horton say that, I want to scream. The Gospel is what God has done for us. The call to repent because sin will be forgiven is to us.

The Gospel is not something you declare to an empty room -- even Ezekiel declared the word of God to the dry bones and not to nothing at all. And in that: we have to take action. Even the Presbys baptize their babies in faith; even the most hopped-up arminian has faith in something apart from himself.

We have to do something. Faith is not just what happens to us but what we do as a result of God's gracious gift.

RichardS said...

Tim: "... as it turns out the call for decision is, for many, the means by which they hear the Savior saying "Lazarus, come forth"."

RichardS: We can be quite certain that there was no doubt as to how Lazarus was made alive, though in many instances of evangelism people are confused about that. Jesus did not call for Lazarus to make a decision, He just commanded him to come forth. The very words He spoke were attended with the power of the Spirit and Lazarus was raised from the dead. Then as one who has life he came out of the tomb which is for those who are dead. The call of Christ was specific to Lazarus.

RichardS said...

Frank:
It is simply tunnel vision to say that the Gospel is "what God has done". Every time I hear Michael Horton say that, I want to scream. The Gospel is what God has done for us. The call to repent because sin will be forgiven is to us.

RichardS: On the other hand, the Gospel is for the glory of God. If the Father loved sinners more than the Son, He would be guilty of idolatry. If the Son loved sinners more than the Father, then He could not have been a perfect sacrifice. Christ died for (in the place of) sinners, but He kept the Greatest Commandment to love the Father with all of His being.

David said...

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2Co 5:20 NAS)

2PAPImp

CR said...

Frank,

I'm not familiar with what Horton is saying but yes, the Gospel is primarily about what God has done in Christ and is not primarily an appeal for us to do anything. (My use of the adverb primarily is intentional). The Lord has appealed to men to repent since the Old Testament.

I don't know if you've ever noticed in most Christians the failure to rejoice in the Lord always. Why is that? (1)People don't realize the depth of their own sinfulness (2)The failure on some to recognize the consequences of sin - Hell and (3)the failure to recognize the greatness of the salvation itself. And (3) is where I’m going at. We tend to reduce the Gospel to forgiveness of sins or faith and repentance. We want to escape Hell so we want forgiveness of sins so we feel we got it and there it ends but we haven't seen this great salvation in its greatness, depth and breadth.

Spitfire said...

“Decisionism” is the belief that salvation is gained by a one-time choice to receive Jesus Christ, often through a prayer to “invite Christ into one’s heart”.

If one’s decision is viewed as that which saves, then faith in effect becomes a work. God is obligated to save me because I’ve done the right thing.

This conflicts with Paul’s teaching in Romans 3:28 that “a man is justified by faith apart from works...”

Salvation is not something I do, it is something that is done to me by God.

Jesus’ teaching in John 3:6-8 is that the new birth happens according to the will and timing of the Spirit. I can no more choose to be born spiritually than I chose to be born physically. See also John 1:12,13 in this regard.

Decisionism creates the false security of believing one is saved because of a one-time “decision” that gets one into heaven, similar to a one-time inoculation which provides a lifetime of protection from disease.

Saving faith realizes that I cannot create faith, which drives me to God, asking for that gift which only He can give (Romans 10:13, Ephesians 2:8,9).

DJP said...

BTW for relative newcomers, "Biblely" comes from the link in this post.

Carlo Provencio said...

When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." John 11:43-44

Zaphon said...

Decisionism:

The autonomous act of unregenerate man causing his own volition to dispose himself to favorably accept the Gospel, which in turn causes God to respond to his choice with the grace of regeneration.

Also...a false, non-biblical concept in light of Ezekiel 36:26-27, John 6:44-45, 65 & Acts 13:48, and 18:27.

christianlady said...

So rather than decide, it really is "I surrender?"

donsands said...

I have an atheist acquaintance who will say, "Well, I guess i am unable to accept Christ, because i am not one of His elect.'

I said, "Maybe one day you shall, for you may be one of God's elect. And when that day comes, if it does, you will learn to know joy like never before, and understand peace in your soul that passes understanding, and your love will be deeper and fuller, and even your sorrow shall find a deepness to it like you have never known."

I encourage him to cry out to Christ, and to believe that He died for the sins of the world, and rose on the third day.

If he ever says to me, "I have finally decided to follow Jesus Christ. I believe in Him, and have become a different man," then I will be glad that he has decided to follow Jesus.

And the same goes for my family, and my friends who don't know our Savior, and our Lord.

And after God saves them, then I will try to help them find a good church, where they can learn the truth, and be discipled.

Mike Riccardi said...

MSC: Decisionalism says a person can act against his nature. A decision for Christ requires a new nature.

I think that nails it. It gets at the root of the matter, and you're not gonna find something more succinct.

Phil said...

RichardS
If unbelievers think of faith as simply a decision, they have missed what faith in Christ really is.
And while we are at it let's require that everyone who is at the alter making their wedding vows first have the same perspective, knowledge, and experience as a couple who been married 60 years. Otherwise they have missed what marriage really is.

bp said...

MSC: Decisionalism says a person can act against his nature. A decision for Christ requires a new nature.

My question was missed above. This is on my mind because I say the following to people I am sharing the gospel with: "I'd really encourage you to consider what the Bible says..." Is this statement in opposition to the fact that they cannot make "a decision" for Christ? Would "considering what the Bible says" be something that an elect person of God would do? I'm stuck on this.

bp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bp said...

I should clarify:

Would "considering what the Bible says" be something that an elect person of God would do prior to salvation?

Strong Tower said...

I am concerned about one thing: how does a person make a decision for something he does not know to be true and have that be a right minded decision? A true decision?

Stick with me. Job was a man who had made a decision but believed in what he did not know. All religious and all, a man before God who was uncommonly good, yet, it was not until he "saw" God that he truly made a decision. (John 3?)

To rightly say that one has to choose to believe, then, is to ask if one knows what they are choosing. The one who knows will not rationally choose anything else. Or as Paul said in 1 Cor 2, only a spiritual mind receives the things freely given by the Spirit.

As David said above, be reconcilled if you are.

Choose this day must be asked, but who would choose otherwise if the Lord has revealed himself to them?

Craig and Heather said...

BP

I've been thinking a lot about your question.

I don't think it's wrong at all to direct an unsaved person to consider what Scripture (as opposed to a "really good" intellectual argument) says.

That is often how we approach our children with their need for repentance.

Show/tell what the Bible says. Encourage them to read for themselves and think about it. Live in as obedient a way as I know how.
Plead with God to open their hearts to His Truth in spite of my pathetic attempts at relaying the message.

Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

For what it's worth,

H

F Whittenburg said...

Can I go fishing in the teampyro pond Dan? I brought my own can of worms.....

It has never been the faith in the decision for Christ that saves, it is the spiritual newbirth that is the true mark of salvation. You can make a “decision” for trusting in Christ, but never experience the spiritual newbirth.

Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our Gospel came NOT unto you in WORD ONLY, but also in power, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake (1 Thessalonians 1:4,5 KJV).

It is not our decision or plea for salvation that saves, but God's ANSWER to our plea for salvation that saves.

And God, which knows the hearts, bear them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us (Acts 15:8 KJV).

F Whittenburg said...

Where does decisionalism or decisionism come into play when God meets you on the road to Damascus one day, while you are full intent on persecuting the church, and decides that you are going to suffer many things for him from this day forward?

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake (Acts 9:15,16 KJV)

Michelle said...

bp, I've also been thinking about your question.

If by "consider" what the Bible says you mean reason with, or weigh up as an option, I think that appeals to the pride of the unbeliever, never mind that Scripture is utter foolishness to those who are dead in their sin. If by "consider" you mean read and hear and think about, great. God's Word is powerful to change hearts and lives. Just my humble opinion.

Zaphon said...

"Decisionism" is bad because it ultimately leaves the sinner with a small corner of boasting in himself, that he was wise enough to decide to follow God. It leaves him with the impression that he is foundational to his own salvation, even if this notion is not explicitly stated, it plays out in the thinking that the will is key to salvation, and leads ultimately to other errors like semi-pelgianism, open theism, etc.

Only when I see that my ENTIRE being was wrapped in the shroud of spiritual death, with a hostile mind to God, and that God alone could conquer that sin which blinded me, then I can know that it was through grace that I believed, and that even my volition is quickened by grace, thus I will give ALL glory to God.

Here, I think, is the Biblical balance:Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is working in you both TO WILL & to do according to His good pleasure".PHIL. 2:12-13

RichardS said...

Phil said:
And while we are at it let's require that everyone who is at the alter making their wedding vows first have the same perspective, knowledge, and experience as a couple who been married 60 years. Otherwise they have missed what marriage really is.

RichardS: A person should know something of what faith really is if they are going to be saved through faith. In order to be married they have to have some idea of marriage and what it means to take a vow. The idea is not that one has to have a perfect knowledge of faith, but if one is going to have a biblical faith rather than a false one it would be helpful to them to know that it is.

Mike Riccardi said...

BP,

I don't think asking them to consider what the Bible says is wrong. In fact, I don't think it's wrong to say, "Repent and believe!" after a Gospel presentation even though it's impossible for them to do so without a changed nature.

I believe that because, as Rom 10:17 says (HT: Heather... and Paul), as well as 1Pet 1:23-25, etc., it's the miracle of the Gospel that makes that possible... that makes it actually happen.

For those of us in Gospel ministry, we need to recognize that our mission is actually impossible on every human level. And that's precisely God's point: He magnifies His total sufficiency and omnipotence over and against our complete insufficiency and impotence. We're commanded to do the impossible so that it's evident that these deeds might be manifested as having been wrought in God.

melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bp said...

Thanks guys. I never thought about there being two interpretations in my asking someone to consider what the Bible says. But since they may interpret it to mean your first interpretation, Michelle, maybe it's best that I don't even say it. I certainly don't want to appeal to their pride.

I've been wrestling with this because I say this a lot when sharing the gospel. And while I know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, I'm still wondering if Paul's words "imploring people to be reconciled to Christ", and telling them that "God commands all men everywhere to repent" is in opposition to asking them to "consider what the Bible says".

Do you know of anywhere that Paul (or any of the disciples) spoke in this way?

bp said...

And Mike, I feel confident in telling people to repent and believe because Jesus said it, and Paul said it to unbelievers. I'm just contemplating whether or not I am trying to use "softer" words so people will not feel offended. I don't know. I guess I need to see Scripture that shows that this is a biblical way to share the gospel.

donsands said...

"I am trying to use "softer" words so people will not feel offended. I don't know."

The truth is the truth. It offends those who hate the truth, which all who live in darkness.

Nevertheless, their are different people in the dark, with different personalities, and we need to wise as snakes, and harmless as doves.

I speak in different tones to different people. "Everyday people" have diverseness, and we need to consider, or at least I do, with my own personality and shortcomings.

But, bottom line the Gospel is the Gospel for all sinners.
"But for the amazing grace of God, there go I."

Mike Riccardi said...

BP,

Ah... I see. I thought you were asking that question from the opposite side.

I suppose, then, that I would say that your line is good at the end of an evangelistic endeavor after the Gospel has been clearly presented. I mean, that's what we want them to do afterwards, right? To consider the truth of God.

But good on you for wanting to be Biblical. I'd be open to being questioned given that there are other particular phrases used by Jesus/the Apostles when evangelizing.

Kirby L. Wallace said...

http://www.uniuslibri.com/UniusLibriIndex.asp?action=&articleid=109

Hey! That's under 200 words. But delete away... I'll understand. ;-)


But I wrote that article specifically in response to one of yours. There's a link to your article in it.

Chris said...

I usually understand "decisionism" as a synonym for pelagionism. Secondly, there are better words then "decide" such as repent. Decision is in and of itself neutral. It doesn't seem to carry any moral weight whereas repentance does. Even when a person decides not to follow Christ we can still say that they made a decision albeit a most unfortunate one, but a decision nonetheless. Why not just admonish people to repent instead?

philness said...

dead people can't make decisions.

CR said...

My last comment on this.
Here is the problem I have with decisionalism. When we often hear our brothers and sisters testimony if often goes like this: “I no longer get drunk, or do drugs or steal or go clubbing or do this or do that. We say we’ve repented from these things. Well, that’s very good. We should repent from these things but that is a very poor and inadequate way to describe salvation. The essence of sin is to fail to glorify God with our whole being all the time. If that is sin, then salvation must be this: we are brought into a condition in which we live to glorify God. We cannot decide to be brought into this condition.

philness said...

No physical person ever decided to be born and likewise no spiritual person decided to be born. How can the dead un-dead themselves?

Faith is given
Repentance is given
Grace is given
Salvation is given
Even the hearing is given

There is no receiving or accepting or deciding by death.

Death is the absence of life. Life must come upon death and even then death doesn't decide to stop being death. Death is replaced with life.

Phil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Bible Christian said...

Decisionalism is a contemporary Christianities method of getting people saved...its a man made model for most churches in America, I know I was one of them who made a decision for Christ then lived like the devil for 15 years Until God used someone to bring me the Gospel of saving faith that called me to believe or enabled me to believe in Christ not my decision. The first four verses in Titus are clear on that, verse 1 Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, He tells the redeem to use the word to bring His elect to Himself, call it what you want I call it the power of God.

bp said...

I'd really like to continue this discussion because this is something I've really been wrestling with lately as I share the gospel. I agree with you, donsands, about there being some sinners who are harder or softer than others and so we don't use some cookie cutter methodology.

But if trusting in Jesus is not a "decision" people make, then is it imperative that we stay away from language that would give them that impression? Or does it really matter whether or not they may think they need to make/or have made a decision early on? This is what I'm not sure about.

I never say things like, "you have a choice to make" or "you have a decision to make" (as some might), but I'm realizing that even in encouraging people to consider what the Bible has to say, I may possibly be giving them the impression that this is a decision they are making, for which they may feel proud later on.

bp said...

And I agree, Mike, that I do want them to consider what the Bible says, but going back to Michelle said, there's more than one way to interpret it when I say that to people, and I just don't want to give them the wrong impression.

Bottom line, did Christ or any of his disciples use this kind of language? I want to be Biblical and avoid, if possible, promoting any false notion that this is a decision they need to make or have made.

donsands said...

"But if trusting in Jesus is not a "decision" people make, then is it imperative that we stay away from language that would give them that impression?"

No.

Gov98 said...

But if trusting in Jesus is not a "decision" people make, then is it imperative that we stay away from language that would give them that impression?

I think this type of thought is what is "scary" to me. It takes Calvinism that "one step too far"...like I need to be careful about sharing the gospel because we don't want to share it wrong.

If we truly accept that God is sovereign we're going to trust that the Holy Spirit will make intercession for us so that even if the "English" is wrong the transformative work is done.

More importantly if the Bible does use choice language at times, if we follow that model, the Gospel will still go forth.

The Bible Christian said...

our decision is wrought on by the power of God, like many of the theologian say "we choose Christ because He first chose us"

it's either here or their with the language. The question is where does the power come from...our supposed free will or a sovereign act of God.

And if we're truly saved... we will bare fruit

John 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain

Mike Riccardi said...

I think it's important, BP, to realize, that they do have to make a decision.

No one will come to faith in Christ without making a decision. No one.

So we want the people we're proclaiming the Gospel to to decide.

The point that Calvinism makes is that that decision is impossible.

"So does no one get saved, then, if that decision is impossible?"

No, they do get saved, because the impossible gets done. So like I said before, we call men to do the impossible, recognizing that God does the impossible.

"Believe!"

"Repent!"

"Be saved from this wicked and perverse generation!"

And when they say, "I just don't know if I get it yet," or "I just don't know if I believe all this," then you can say, "Well, here's the Word of God. Read it. Take it to heart. Consider what it says. And I'll see you next week."

DJP said...

It's painful to me that you need to say that, Mike, when we've been over this so many times in such a Bibley way.

But I'm glad you did.

Gov98 said...

I just have to say...

Ooooh.

I really like the way Mike said that.

bp said...

I really like the way Mike said it too. Thanks Mike.

But I think you guys are reading too much into what I'm asking. Or else I'm being really unclear (which is sure possible). When I say that a person doesn't "make a decision" for Christ, I am meaning in the sense that it's not made of their own volition..their own free will. Of course they still decide to repent and turn to Christ. duh.

I also get it that God isn't going to let our imperfect language get in the way of saving someone. Totally get it.

I'm just wanting to know if using language like "please consider what the Bible says" or "you need to make a decision" propetuates this idea that it is a free will decision and if there is better language (more biblical) that would dispel that idea so that they would understand even before and perhaps during the salvation process that it is God who is choosing and saving them and not vice versa.

CR said...

Mike,

I read some of BP's comments and he did say he is confident in telling people that they must repent and believe (naturally since that is the response of someone who asks how must I be saved). What BP may be struggling with is telling people they must decide and make a choice and the reason why he may be struggling with that (as it should struggle all Calvinists) is that is sounds awfully synergistic rather than monergistic. Faith and repentance is a response of redeemed people. Faith and repentance only springs from a heart renewed by God.

Faith and repentance is more of a response rather than a decision. A decision involves judgment and consideration. A response is an activity (in this case faith and repentance) resulting from stimulation (in this case, the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit). Do you see the difference, Mike? Faith and repentance is still something that we do, that we must do in order to be saved, but it is not a decision but a natural response of God's redeemed people. BP can just stick to what he said earlier, he's confident in telling people to repent and believe.

gmftech said...

Decisions are for people that do not know what to do.

DJP said...

bp, did you read this, and the comment-thread?

Sir Brass said...

I was browsing the latest comments backwards, and am seeing some conflict here.

The question, I think, that the conflict is revolving around is this:

As biblically consistent (I hope!) Calvinists, how DO we preach the gospel and how DO we present a free gospel without being synergistic yet while being winsome and earnest.

I think the answer is simple: we say things as the bible says it:

The person being evangelized asks, "Sirs, how may I be saved?"

The response: "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ."

That is, we present the answer as the response which ONLY the regenerate can respond with. We give an answer which only those whom the Lord has called at that time can respond with. We freely give that answer as one that ALL those who will respond that way will be saved. And it is true, all who respond in repentance and faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins WILL be saved. It IS a choice, but as we who are biblically consistent in this area of the doctrines of salvation KNOW, only the called will choose that response.

It's a loaded question freely given, in a sense.

How's that, DJP? Frank?

CR said...

See, here's the thing, Sir Brass, I agreed with everything you said, except the part where you said it is a choice (meaning our choice).

I don't know about you all, but when I see the Lord face-to-face, I'm not going to tell Him, "You know, I chose You, Lord." "I decided to repent and trust in You, Lord."

If we're going to tell people they need to "choose" Christ or "decide" (choose and decide are essentially synonyms), then we better be prepared to say that to Jesus. Now, our "response" to repent and trust carries a totally different meaning than deciding or choosing.

Dan is going to open up this topic in a different thread and open it up to Arminians. And you know what they’re going to say, “hey, we’re saying the same thing you guys are, we believe we must choose and decide on Christ also.” You watch. But there is no confusion when we tell people they must repent and believe. Not decide or choose, simply repent and believe. And we understand repentance and faith to be responses to what God has already done, not “choices” or “decisions.”

Mike Riccardi said...

CR,

I know what you're saying. Faith is indeed a response in that it is the only "choice" we're going to make given our situation, i.e., having our eyes opened to see the compellingly beautiful glory of God.

But to not call it a choice, I think, demeans that compellingly beautiful glory. I think, as I've argued in one of these other "Communicating Better" threads, that the choice we do make is glorifying to Christ, because it's the expression of our delight and preference of Him.

Would you disagree with my statement that no one will be saved apart from making a decision?

I know what you're guarding against, and it's good. But I think distinguishing response and decision might be a false dichotomy.

Mike Riccardi said...

For the record, here's what I said in that other thread:

The choice that we do make is honoring to Christ. In spiritual death, our main problem is that we can't see (John 3:3). The Spirit's work in regeneration overcomes our spiritual death by giving us eyes to see the Light of the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2Cor 4:6).

So, spiritual death looks like this: I can look straight at Christ, and not be interested, compelled, or awed. I look at Him and my sin still looks better. I choose it. Spiritual life is the giving of eyes that can actually perceive reality. And now, having eyes to see, I look at Christ and find Him to be the most delightful thing I've ever seen. I look at Him and He looks infinitely better than my sin. And so I prefer Him. And so I choose Him.

And He is honored by my preference of Him. And that preference is made apparent by my choice.

melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donsands said...

"Spiritual life is the giving of eyes that can actually perceive reality. And now, having eyes to see, I look at Christ and find Him to be the most delightful thing I've ever seen. I look at Him and He looks infinitely better than my sin. And so I prefer Him. And so I choose Him."

And it may even be a season of getting the cobwebs cleaned out of the attic before we know that we know. At least it was for me.

bp said...

Thanks for the link, DJP. That was very helpful even though my eyes glazed over after reading half the comments and I had to stop.

Btw, I was not suggesting that we tell sinners that they can't choose Jesus. (Though Jesus did tell the Pharisees that no one could come to him unless they are drawn). Just thought that avoiding certain language may help prevent wrong ideas. Maybe not.

Then again, how does this sound:

"Now you need to make a decision, which will for sure be yes if God chose you, and will for sure be no if he did not."

That would get them on right track right away wouldn't it? I'll try that next time and let you know how it goes.

donsands said...

"I was not suggesting that we tell sinners that they can't choose Jesus."

Seemed like you were to me. Then again it seems you are mixed up a little bit. And keep asking the same stuff.

here's a question on the side:

How about the Apostle Paul saying he wished he could be accursed for his brethren the Jews. This man had deep sorrow for Israel. Do you, and me, have deep grief for lost sinners?

I know i don't. But i pray i would have a heart like Paul's.
There are times I do, by His grace. But it's not as much as I would like.

bp said...

Donsands,
I'm pretty sure that I didn't suggest we tell sinners that they can't choose Jesus. My ridiculous comment following "how does this sound" in my last post shows how silly that would be. Avoiding language like "please consider" or "you have a decision to make" is very different than telling them outright that they can't choose God until God chooses them first. But maybe I am just mixed up.

CR said...

Mike,

The Bible teaches no one will be saved apart from responding to the gospel with faith and repentance. I really want to be faithful to the monergistic act of salvation which comes from God. And by salvation I mean regeneration, justification and conversion (faith and repentance). This is a monergistic act of the Lord so no, I don't believe distinguishing between response and decision is a false dichotomy. These are very different verbs.

Once the Lord has brought this great salvation to us bringing us to a condition where we can glorify God, then yes, we make choices all the time. Progressive sanctification is a synergistic act where we cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Salvation is a monergistic act where faith and repentance is a response of our redemption.

RichardS said...

CR: Progressive sanctification is a synergistic act where we cooperate with the Holy Spirit.

RS: Even here it would seem that we have to be careful. Jesus told us that apart from Him we could do nothing. In what way do we cooperate? Do we cooperate in our own strength or do we do all in His strength? In one sense we are doing something, yet it is Him that is working in us to His will and pleasure. Maybe our cooperation is in seeking to present ourselves as empty vessels for Him to use as He pleases.

RichardS said...

BP: is very different than telling them outright that they can't choose God until God chooses them first.

RS: I am not sure why we are so hesitant to tell sinners that they are so sinful that they cannot save themseles. It is not just that they have sinned, but their whole nature is corrupt and even their good works are sinful. All of their choices are sinful as they come from a sinful heart. If a person never comes to see the total depravity of his own heart and be delivered from any hope in himself, how can he truly believe in Christ and Christ alone?

" Have you seen yourself to be, by nature and by practice, a lost and helpless sinner? Have you not only seen the sinfulness of particular acts of transgression, but also that your heart is the seat and fountain of sin? That in you, naturally, there is no good thing? Has a view of this led you to despair of hope in yourself?" Jacob Helffenstein, from "Self-Deception."

"Unless sinners are made acquainted with the total corruption of their hearts, they cannot understand the gospel." Nathanael Emmons

DJP said...

Right. We must call sinners to decide for Christ, repent, believe in Christ, choose Christ. Correct and Biblical, as we've seen many, many times.

Repent and Trust in Jesus said...

To be Biblical, God does not call people to make a decision, but God COMMANDS all people to repent and believe the gospel.

DJP said...

Which is a decision.

I think we've reinvented that wheel enough times.

RichardS said...

DJP said...
Right. We must call sinners to decide for Christ, repent, believe in Christ, choose Christ. Correct and Biblical, as we've seen many, many times.

RS: We disagree on this issue. If we really teach sinners the total depravity of their hearts, which is their true and lost condition, I don't see it that we tell them to decide for Christ. "Choose this day whom you will serve" in the OT is a far different thing than choosing to follow Christ. An unbeliever could choose to externally follow the outward things of the Israel religion. An unbeliever in the NT cannot truly have a heart to do anything but have enmity toward God. The message is not that you must choose Christ, but that you must be born again. A sinner that sees and knows the plague of his own heart and then has faith and repentance explained knows that God must change the heart.

DJP said...

Then you've been set straight on that issue many, many, MANY times. Way more than twice.

Now we move on (per 7:42 AM, October 06, 2009 comment)

Stefan said...

Richard:

"Choose this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15) and "choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:19) are not so different from the commands to repent and believe in the New Testament.

The Biblical evidence is plainly abundant that no one could perfectly fulfil Moses' or Joshua's commands. Indeed, Joshua's response in 24:19-20 and the ensuing historical record witness to this, as does the fulfilment of the curses in Deuteronomy 28.

The One who did fulfil those commands and all the commands of God through His Prophets was Jesus Christ, by Whom and through Whom many were counted righteous.

RichardS said...
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RichardS said...
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DJP said...

Did I stutter? The wheel's invented. Don't want to ride? Feel free.

Your choice.

Strong Tower said...

Holy semantics Bapman.

donsands said...

"Avoiding language like "please consider" or "you have a decision to make" is very different than telling them outright that they can't choose God"

Okay. I'm good with that.

Have a grace filled day.

Craig and Heather said...
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Craig and Heather said...

A friend of ours was talking with a staunchly Calvinistic fellow who asked whether our friend was Calvinist or Arminian.

Our friend said "Neither"


Our friend isn't necessarily opposed to Calvinism but is happy to simply study and believe what the Bible says. But his friend was adamant that he's either in one camp or the other.......

Frustrated, the Calvinist finally said,

"But Ray, you MUST choose!"

Heather

Strong Tower said...
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