13 October 2009

Here's your problem: you really, really don't get Deuteronomy 29:29

by Dan Phillips

Moses writes, “The secret things belong to [Yahweh] 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" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

This revelatory nugget sets up two distinct, discrete categories.
  1. Secret things, which (A) belong to Yahweh, and therefore (B) do not belong to us, and therefore (C) are neither our business to know, to do, nor even to be concerned about; and
  2. Revealed things, which (A) belong to us and our children, and therefore (B) are not Yahweh's concern to do in our stead, and therefore (C) are our sole business and responsibility to know, to do, and to be concerned about.
I'm going to belabor those two points, then I'm going to apply them. (Note: the following assumes, rather than repeats, the Biblical case developed in previous posts and comments on this subject.)

Belaboring
God will not do Category 2 for you. That is, He will not love your wife in your stead. He will not raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord in your stead. He will not think about the Word in your stead. He will not go out and disciple the nations in your stead, hold out the Word of Life in your stead, shine in the darkness in your stead, nor be ready to give every man an answer for your hope in your stead.
 
He told you to do it. He told me to do it. We mustn't try to twit God — fool's errand! — by playing ultra-Calvinistically dumb.

Now, you cannot do it without His grace, His enabling, His Spirit. But do it you must. Do it you must. Do it you must. If you refuse — however complex, noble, nuanced and pious-sounding your excuses reasons — you are sinning, and you must repent.

Equally, you cannot do Category 1 for God. It isn't your responsibility. Look on the "Need-to-know" list, and you'll only find one name. It isn't yours, nor is it mine.

What's more, you cannot prevent God from doing Category 1. Unlike you and me, God always does what He sets out to do; and, also unlike us, nothing prevents Him from doing it. No matter how lazy or hyperactive, how wise or foolish, how stupid or bright, or how bold or timid you and I are, God can and will see to every last one of His "secret things." It is sheer unbelief to reason or act otherwise.
Applying
Now, just about every one of you thinks you believes those things. But dissonant strains in metas like this one really make me wonder.

If you believed Category 2, then you wouldn't worry about whether or not it is "doctrinally proper" to call people to come to Christ, to decide, to believe, to repent, to turn, to accept Christ, to get reconciled to God, or even to get saved. Because God issues all these commands, and authorizes us to echo them in His name (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

We wouldn't waste our (and others') time, and embarrass ourselves, by trying to find longwinded ways of making the Word not say what it plainly does say. We wouldn't write 200-page essays on how the number 2, when doubled, actually equals Varfnod. We wouldn't get out our electromicroscopes and hyper-examine every possible implication of simply doing what God says to do, rather than simply doing it.

If you believed Category 1, then you wouldn't worry about whether or not you were issuing these invitations and commands to an elect person or a reprobate person. That's not your business! That's no part of your concern! If he's reprobate, he won't hear and respond anyway! If he's elect, he will! That's a secret thing. Let God worry about it.

That's it.

Maybe you expect another 2000 words, making this all nuanced and complex and deep.

But that's really all I have to say.

Except this: if the shoe doesn't fit, feel free to drive on.

But if it does... your issue's really not with me, now, is it?
Dan Phillips's signature

142 comments:

Johnny Dialectic said...

Well stated, Dan.

Scottj said...

Thank you.

Joel Hoyt said...

Typo in the last line. Normally, I wouldn't mention such a thing but I wouldn't want that to be a distraction in your final punch.

Also, good word.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Seems obvious to me.

But I don't object to folks and scholars pondering and arguing the mystery and tension of divine sovereignty and human free will. I've learned quite a bit from their vigorous interactions.

However, it's a most excellent post and a good reminder.

Frank Turk said...

You have to read this part:

But do it you must. Do it you must. Do it you must.

With Yoda's voice. It's the only way it makes any sense.

DJP said...

Joel, thanks; fixed.

Frank, some people's readers can see different fonts. Do it yours can't. Do it yours can't. Do it yours can't.

SandMan said...

The clarity of Scripture is amazing when we decide to obey it rather than debate it, huh?

Thank you, Dan.

DJP said...

BTW, I've just been pointed to a very fine reflection on Deuteronomy 29:29 by cyber-friend pastor John Kitchen, whose commentary on Proverbs I reviewed a while back.

Paul D said...

awesome. right on.

I think being aware of the mystery and having a biblically based understanding of it makes a huge difference in how the Gospel is presented though. And I don’t take this post to be saying otherwise. It just seems there is a huge temptation to ignore the mystery and forge ahead with a nice, neat human understanding that omits the depth, and the mystery (the things I can’t completely understand).

Kristine said...

I really loved how you stated this, Dan - and couldn't agree more.

DJP said...

Absolutely right, Paul. The point is to get our focus where it should be. Jesus says to all men indiscriminately, "Come to me." I should simply take that invitation and RUN with it.

Does that mean I know in advance which ones will respond? Not my business. How does God use preaching to lead to saving faith? Not my business. How could He use the preaching of such an inept screw-up as me? Not my business. What if I invite a reprobate? Not my business. What if he misunderstands? Not my business. What if...?

Not my business. My business is to believe, snap a smart salute, say "Yes Sir" and get with it.

Kendall said...

Excellent post it is.

There is much God has revealed in His Word that we do not understand. Of those things, we need to prayerfully and diligently examine so we do understand them. The secret decrees of God are none of our business. My Bible does not include a list of the elect so I guess I'll just have to obey God and trust He will do what He says He will do.

olan strickland said...

Amen Dan! Our responsibility is to preach the gospel to all men; their response is not our responsibility (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).

This truth rightly understood would do wonders to stymie both hyper-calvinistic "gate closing" and its polar opposite the opening of a "wide gate."

DJP said...

Olan, I've always thought the "He seems to be afraid that some non-elect person will get into Heaven" was just a silly slander on Calvinism.

But now I've read some folks who absurdly give substance to that accusation. They really do seem far more bothered at the thought that some non-elect will be invited to trust in Christ and be saved, than they are by the thought that we'd fail to bear the good news far and wide as God tells us to.

Michael said...

Yesss!!! That really clarifies something I've seen so often.

olan strickland said...

I guess there are those who have listened too much to "some" Arminians and believe that either we can't offer the gospel because we don't know who the elect are or if we offer it to everyone then the "wrong person" (non-elect) might get saved.

They ought to read Deuteronomy 29:29 or this post!

puritanicoal said...

When I initially read the lead-in paragraph with Deut. 29:29, then saw the references to Category 1 and Category 2, I thought it was a post about the Sovereignty of God and Hurricanes. Obviously, I was wrong.

Great post.

stratagem said...

This just in from Emergent Village: Everything is Category 1! Except liberal politics, of course.

JG said...

The show fits. Thanks for sharing.

Frank Turk said...

This just broke out at twitter:

@Frank_Turk if U believe Category 1 why can't Category 2 be accomplished by someone like Rob Bell?

My reply:

because he's not doing what God says to do. There's a difference between disobedience and fallible obedience.

DJP said...

Frank - yeah. Plus, Matthew 7:15-20 is still part of our Category 2.

Steven R. Robertson said...

This (and the linked reflection by John Kitchen) was immensely helpful. Many thanks.

Tim Graham said...

Well put Dan! Thanks for the timely reminder. Praise God that the Holy Spirit will act within the souls and minds of His people to cause us to act our part of submission and obedience to God's expressed Will, and leave to Him His part of sovereignty and providence.

DJP said...

Gee, nobody's come by yet to suggest that Jesus made little quotey-fingers when He said πάντες ("all") in Matthew 11:28, or that He pointed at the ones He meant.

Not yet.

Must not have had their coffee.

Everyday Mommy© said...

Sadly, I know many who are not content to let Category 1, be categorical.

Craig and Heather said...

This just in from Emergent Village: Everything is Category 1! Except liberal politics, of course.

Funny. Our thoughts must have somehow, "mystically" collided, somewhere in cyberspace.

Craig and Heather said...

I really appreciate this post--actually, the whole series on choice has been good.

Before I realized that my understanding of Scripture is, indeed, "Calvinistic", I used to wonder what was wrong with "those people".

And I think you pretty well nailed the issue. It isn't necessarily that Calvinistic teaching is *wrong* but that people tend to become lopsided in our application.

In one aspect, the tendency is a natural reaction to the "everything is mystical and unexplainable" crowd. It is driven by the desire to remain true to God's word.

Then again, our fallen and prideful human nature strives to make logical sense of every scrap of information we come across. So, we sometimes go too far in our attempted understanding.

It really is okay to recognize that there are some things we can't explain. And God has declared that we shouldn't even try!

Thank you so much :o)

H

drmack said...

I always ask if someone is a superlapsarian before I waste my time sharing the gospel with him!

Actually, I haven't had that much personal contact (if any) with hyper-calvinists, but I recall a quote I read somewhere by DL Moody who met someone of this persuasion. He said something to the effect of - "I like the way I evangelize imperfectly better than the way you don't do it at all."

I will say that since I've come to understand the doctrines of grace, I share more Bible passages and less (actually no more) Chic tracts etc. with people.

Keep up the good work!

Penn Tomassetti said...

After Franks comment, all I can do is read every other comment in Yoda's voice :P

DJP said...

Say that like it is a bad thing you do.

S.J. Walker said...

Dan, I can make this comment free from the distractions of blogger word verifications as the current one is completely un-usable. And therefore my A.D.D. is momentarily dormant.

I have become so weary of hyper-this and hyper-that (quoty fingers)theologies(quoty fingers). In either extreme, be it deliberate or not, either can and often do distract from the plain, simple facts. We can debate all we like about "how it works", but as you pointed out, we still have a job. And it is OUR job. That is, we must proclaim the Good News and watch God do the rest; and worship Him for doing it.

This is our chief end: Worship the Living and Known God. Not some confusing, debated, controversial, revolutionary persona. God. Yaweh. El Shaddai. Jesus.

Good stuff. Meat and potatoes. Thanks.

Frank Turk said...

Penn --

The entire blog from day one makes so much more sense if you do that. It's all about context.

And Muppet Voices.

S.J. Walker said...

P.S.
I wish I had people that would point out MY typos. Then again, I would have to have people that read my stuff.

Nevermind.

DJP said...

Well, you know Sam, when you set the bar so high, you la ;asjd k@mf joaer 69ja$#fd8.

Honus.

S.J. Walker said...

Exactly! You read my mind!

S.J. Walker said...

No wait. You said ";asjd k@mf".

Well, since you put it that way. I guess I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions. Thanks for the admonishment.

Rachael Starke said...

We certainly have a lot of wannabe Statler and Waldorfs that pop by. Except the originals knew they were hilarious...

This is great. Make me want to share the gospel with someone! The coffee must have been extra strong today.

bp said...

If you believed Category 2, then you wouldn't worry about whether or not it is "doctrinally proper" to call people to come to Christ, to decide

I don't know Dan, is it really fair to lump all who would be conerned about whether it is Scriptural (doctrinally proper) to tell people they need to make a decision, into a group who doesn't believe the revealed will of God?

While I don't let it stop me from sharing the gospel, I have been contemplating (wondering) if it is Scriptural (doctrinally proper) to tell people they need to "make a decision".

You may be right that I'm making it too complex, because I'm not fully convinced one way or another yet, but is it really fair to say that since I've worried about this that I don't believe in Category 2?

robsteele said...

Does anyone actually worry that sinners might repent and believe by accident? Doesn't that whole smell of death thing keep that from happening? (2 Cor 2:16.)

Marty Winn said...

I think that Catagory 2B needs a bit more definition. Clearly not all revealed things are our business to do and not of God's concern. The book of Revelation is filled with promises of what God is going to do; He reveals in advance what He is going to do. Even the revealed commands to us (that I believe you wish to address in 2B) God has concern over even as they are our responsibility and I would hesitate to say that He does not have a role in accomplishing them through us (not that you exactly say that).

S.J. Walker said...

robsteele,

I've mostly heard that statement in argument as a hypothetical. But if there are people who believe we came from goo, or that the holocaust didn't happen, I guess there could be those who actually believe in accidental repentance.

bp said...

I do not worry for one second that sinners might repent and believe by accident. My whole point in the thread Dan referred to was that if asking others to "make a decision" was an unbiblical way to share the gospel, not saying it might avoid unnecessarily giving someone who does come to believe, the impression that their decision was the cause, instead of God, that's all.

S.J. Walker said...

bp,

Don't worry. I didn't get that from your comment. I don't think we should all get into splitting hairs too much(Category 2), but "make a decision" is definitely a phrase that should be avoided. God can, has, and does work in spite of it often(category 1), but nonetheless we need to be as clear and honest with the Gospel as possible(category 2).

That's my two cents. What about everyone else?

trogdor said...

Why must the phrase "make a decision" be avoided? There are a lot of things we're commanded to do (repent, believe, etc), but at no point are we to decide to do them? Buh?

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but it seems like the kind of thinking that leads to the "passive sanctification" nonsense that was tossed around these comment threads back yonder. You know, about how biblical commands are to the Holy Spirit in us and not to us directly. "Lay there and let sanctification happen to you" theology that absolves us from any responsibility to obey.

This type of talk smacks of the same thing, as though we can believe apart from our will. We're not commanded to let belief happen or passively await repentance. We are commanded to repent and believe.

S.J. Walker said...

trogdor,

I only say it would be better to avoid the statement "make a decision" due to:
A) The fact that the Gospel is clearer than all that. We are commanded to repent and believe. Preach that then. Is it inherently wrong or even heretical to say "make a decision"? No. But there are better ways to convey the command to repent and believe, all whilst surrendering to the Truth that God will bring about conviction of His own will.
B) Subsequent to (A), we have a responsibility to preach "no other doctrine" and while that responsibility does not hamper God, it can deceive those to whom we proclaim. This is dangerous ground that avoiding less accurate phrasing can help deter our stepping upon it.

Dan, Frank, Phil. I was not part of the other comment thread. So I apologize if I am beating a dead horse as it were.

Thanks

Craig and Heather said...

Trogdor:Why must the phrase "make a decision" be avoided?

Good question. Personally, I've never considered why it might be *wrong* to tell others to make a decision.

Certainly, if a person's conscience is bothered by that approach, then it is best to avoid such phrasing.

But, I don't think it is anti-biblical to say You need to choose, as per Joshua 24:15.

When faced with Truth (that goes against everything we naturally are, then a choice is inevitable---

1. Repent and submit to God's authority.

2. Harden the heart and continue on in darkness.

When I look at it that way, I can see that the Gospel affects all who hear--It brings life to some and death to others.

It seems that precisely "who" responds favorably, and "how" that happens, falls into the realm of the secret things that we know happen but cannot fully grasp.

At least, it's beyond my ability to understand.

Heather

~Mark said...

Word Dan!

RichardS said...

DJP said...
Gee, nobody's come by yet to suggest that Jesus made little quotey-fingers when He said πάντες ("all") in Matthew 11:28, or that He pointed at the ones He meant.

Not yet.

RS: Matthew 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." The call is to "all" those who are weary and heavy-laden. Jesus specifically said that there are those He did not come to call. He did not come to call the righteous, but only sinners. Mark 2:17 And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." He calls those who are weighted down and burdened with their sins. I would have remained quiet but I felt "called" when you said what you said in quoting only a part of the verse.

Jugulum said...

SJ & Trogdor,

There's precedent for language like "choose you this day whom you will serve".

But SJ, I appreciate your point, "The gospel call is clearer than 'make a decision'." It's especially clearer than "make a decision for God".

In other words, "repent & believe" is more bibley than the generic "make a decision".

But do you think we have to be worried about language like this?

"Choose this day who you will serve. Now is the time of salvation. Decide this day to repent and believe."

S.J. Walker said...

Jugulum,

Excellent. My only contention is that the phrasing needs to be careful to be honest with the whole of Scripture. The word and concept of "choosing" is brought up multiple times (as have been cited), so clearly it has a part to play. I would be foolish to deny that.

And I also don't want to be so concerned with saying everything juuuuuust right that I sacrifice the urgency that the Gospel must be proclaimed. I dare say I would be peeking into those things I have no business knowing, to try and make absolutely flawless my delivery. I would be so caught up avoiding certain phrases and keeping my own little set of rules, that I ultimately would find myself muttering in a corner.

All the same, we must be honest. And honesty reveals that repentance, belief, Salvation is not just about "my decision". It's greater, more beautiful.

DJP said...

Yes, bp, I think it's a problem to get overwrought about it and still hesitate - if one's read our discussion about it, particularly. That's why I wrote this.

It's the person who focuses on silly fears, such as that someone who isn't weary and heavy laden might take the invitation and come to Christ, who doesn't really trust God's sovereignty, or Scripture. Again, this was the point of the post.

Jugulum, no, there's nothing wrong with it. If you don't use the word "decide," the preaching should still make clear that this is a decisive point, this is a crisis, it is a 180 turn that the sinner is being called on to make.

Further, if you do use "decide," the rest will make clear that it's not a casual choice between regular and decaf. But (as we've seen again and again and again) the Biblical calls are decisive calls, and there's no Biblical reason not to say so. To say the least.

BTW, "choose this day" isn't a good one in this context. Joshua says he's going to serve Yahweh, and he tells them that if they won't, then they'll need to pick which false god they do serve. Guess he'd been listening to Dylan.

Craig and Heather said...

DJP said: BTW, "choose this day" isn't a good one in this context. Joshua says he's going to serve Yahweh, and he tells them that if they won't, then they'll need to pick which false god they do serve.

I've not thought of it as inappropriate before. Maybe it is.

It seems that Joshua is making the distinction that the choice is between the one true God and "something else". The Hebrews would have known what was the consequence of choosing another god, and isn't that what is being done when one accurately presents the Gospel (and the consequences of rejection) and then informs listeners that we are all required to choose?

Maybe I'm just drowning in details again.

H

DJP said...

It's not really iffy, H. Look:

"Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
(Jos 24:14-15 ESV)"

CR said...

SJ Walker: I only say it would be better to avoid the statement "make a decision"

I concur. The notion that we can weigh the gospel and balance out the arguments and "decide" or "make a decision" in my humble opinion is remote from anything we read in the Bible.

There are also dangerous implications of the "making a decision." It tends to reduce the gospel to everything happens when someone makes a decision as though that is the beginning and end of the gospel.

We proclaim the gospel. We tell men to believe and repent. But a "decision" nor "making a decision" has never produced anything when it comes to the gospel or regeneration.

A related implication is the abuse is the fact that so many have wrongly believed they were Christians based on "making a decision." They made a decision, they took up Christianity, they went to church and involved themselves in certain religious activities and there it is (they think).

I think we should just stick to the actual language of Scripture to call men to believe and repent. And we understand that repentance and faith are responses to justification through the proclamation of the gospel.

Daryl said...

Even within "Repent and believe", the choice or the decision to do so, is clearly implied.

Either way, this all leads us back into Dan's waiting arms (with apologies to Tom Chantry) to say, it's non of our business who will decide, or repent, or decide to repent or whatever...it is for us to call all men to (decide to take the step of)repentance and let God decide who will or won't repent.

However you define it, no one who repents will be turned away. They are, by definition, among the elect.

Has anyone ever done anything (other than breathe and a few other bodily functions) without deciding to?

Neither have I.

Craig and Heather said...

Thanks, DJP...

I see a command for the Israelites to abandon worship of false gods--and devote themselves to obedient service to the true God. (Hey, looks like "repent and believe"!)

Then, he tells them to decide whom they will serve and announces that he chooses to serve the Lord.

Are you saying that Joshua is pointing out that there is no real choice to be made?

I'm not deliberately trying to annoy, but I'm still not sure what you mean.

Heather

bp said...

It's the person who focuses on silly fears, such as that someone who isn't weary and heavy laden might take the invitation and come to Christ, who doesn't really trust God's sovereignty, or Scripture.

Dan, I read the other discussion and I never took to mean, from anyone's comment, that they worried that someone who isn't elect or isn't weary and heavy laden might take the invitation and come to Christ if we ask them to make a decision. I never saw anyone say that.

It's more about avoiding an unnecessary (and unbiblical) impression given to those who do receive Christ, and even those who reject. At least that's what I've been wrestling with.

But your last post gives me food for thought.

bp said...

Even within "Repent and believe", the choice or the decision to do so, is clearly implied.

Yes, in a way. But I do get a different impression when I think of telling someone to repent and believe vs. make a decision to repent and believe. In the former it sounds like more of a command, and more urgent. In the latter, it sounds more like it's all in their hands and less urgent. I may be making too much of it. I'm still not really sure.

bp said...

I don't know why I said, "yes, in a way", Daryl. Of course it is implied.

Penn Tomassetti said...

DJP:

Perceive what I say as if it were a bad thing you do. mm hmm.

Frank:

Now you really got me laughing!

DJP said...

OK Heather, just one more time.

Choose this day whom you will serve does not mean choose whether to serve Yahweh or not. It means, if you won't serve Yahweh, then choose what false god you will serve.

Penn Tomassetti said...

This blog makes me smarter, but makes me sound like a muppet when I read it.

:-P

Craig and Heather said...

I don't really have a stake in "proving" whether the Bible uses "choice" terminology.

It seems to me that even though God chooses, man also must make a decision on some level. And we are held accountable for our choice.

I'm happy to leave it at that and then be concerned that I am obeying in my daily existence.

What really interests me about this topic is how it seems to be easy to tie ourselves in knots over what is the "best" presentation.

Obviously, I need to be cautious to handle God's word in a respectful manner. It is also apparent that too many evangelistic sorts place huge emphasis on man's response. And, that is a definite problem.

But I wonder, if I'm sweating about using just the right words, isn't it is possible to overemphasize *my* role in the salvation of another?

Wouldn't that action be contrary to the professed belief that God is sovereign and is solely responsible for the drawing of the elect to Himself--and effectively place the focus back on the ability of man?

Heather

DJP said...

Yes, bp, you are making too much of it. It is perfectly Biblical to call people to decide. In fact, it's imperative to do it. Conversion is a point of crisis, and we should communicate that clearly.

It isn't the word "decide" that makes it casual or non-casual. It's everything else you say about it.

Craig and Heather said...

Thanks again, DJP. I think I understand.

I tend to overthink things.

I'll go ponder this off site.

H

Penn Tomassetti said...

I can certainly say that it is so refreshing to listen to my pastor preach the practical side of Christianity like the Bible does.

S.J. Walker said...

To clarify, utilizing thoughts put down some time ago when I had more time to think on them:

"No man will be turned away from Redemption who is fully intent on Repentance and Faith; yet no man will be so inclined who was not also fully intended to be redeemed by his Creator. Salvation is no chance accident or compilation of random choices and happenstances. It is fully intended by the Redeemer and fully inhaled by the Repentant."

Sir Brass said...

Daryl, precisely.

When we say, "Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation and the remission of sins," a choice is implied. Those who object to me say that there's a free choice there are not being consistent, b/c when faced with that crisis point they DID make a free choice. It's just a question of whether a person is regenerate or not: either way they freely choose according to their nature (the regenerate WILL irresistably and freely choose Christ, and the unregenerate will FREELY choose to reject Christ..... neither can do the contrary as it is not according to their nature).

My problem is with those who would object to what I have just said (which is an explanation of complementarian free will) and say it is arminian, when men such as Jonathan Edwards espoused such a view. It recognizes what goes on in the heart, but leaves the electing up to God. We still present a choice, a free choice, but one which will only be answered by the regenerate one way and by the unregenerate another way. it's still free (free as in volitional, NOT free as in autonomous) and still a decision.

DJP said...

Heather - "man also must make a decision on some level"

Of course we must, Heather! To quibble and navel-gaze about us just makes us look silly and irrelevant, and makes Calvinism look ridiculous and trivial.

Joe Pagan believes he's god and Jesus isn't. You call on him to repent and believe. He must respond! Not to choose is to choose!

And what's a six-letter word for "making a choice"? Come on, everyone; starts with a "d"....

S.J. Walker said...

DJP,

Some of us were home schooled. You might need to give more of a clue. :)

Gov98 said...

Part of the problem to me is the way people respond to a truth like Dan presents. Some of us say, right on I like the way that's said, and others feel a need to nit pick some point. The purpose of the Gospel is not for us to show how nit picky we can be about theology. Weary and Heavy-laden or not (Incidentally is there anyone who is not weary or "sick?" it's just a matter of recognition).

Craig and Heather said...

Of course we must, Heather! To quibble and navel-gaze about us just makes us look silly and irrelevant, and makes Calvinism look ridiculous and trivial.

Ah. And I believe that was your point all along, yes?

Wasn't trying to argue. I'm one of those irritating sorts that has to examine a subject from 20 different angles when 5 would have been sufficient.

It sometimes takes a while for certain concepts to fully soak through.

I'll take my itching powder elsewhere, now.

Thanks for your patience.

H

DJP said...

H - And I believe that was your point all along, yes?

DingDingDingDingDingDingDingDing

(c:

Jugulum said...

Dan,

"BTW, "choose this day" isn't a good one in this context. Joshua says he's going to serve Yahweh, and he tells them that if they won't, then they'll need to pick which false god they do serve. Guess he'd been listening to Dylan."

*blink*

*blinkblink*

Wow. You're right. The imperfect eyes of memory deceived me. I just remembered, "Choose you this day whom you will serve--as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Thanks.

JO said...

Thanks for making this so simple. I'll try to stick with MY part and leave the rest to the expert (God)

CR said...

Heather: It seems to me that even though God chooses, man also must make a decision on some level.

Heather,

The reprobate do decide on their damnation. That is a decision that man makes. In contrast, the elect do not decide on their salvation. Salvation is a monergistic act of God. Faith and repentance (acts that we do) are responses from those who are redeemed.

Heather: But I wonder, if I'm sweating about using just the right words, isn't it is possible to overemphasize *my* role in the salvation of another?

Not only is it possible it happens a lot.

The Lord is 100% responsible for our salvation. Anything less is overemphasizing man's role. God's elect hear the general call of the gospel and it is an effectual call for them and it irresistible. There is no weighing of the gospel and its arguments. (That's what one does when they make decisions). Why? Because the gospel is wonderful news. Or at least it should be wonderful news. In fact, I'll go as far to say this, if the gospel is not the most wonderful news we've ever heard, then that is legitimate grounds to doubt our salvation.

But when you hear wonderful news, you don't "decide" anything. I mean when a woman who has tried to get pregnant finally gets news that she is pregnant, does she say to herself, "Well, let me decide on this, let me make a decision, let me weigh what I've heard here and make a decision?" Of course not. Why because she was made pregnant. It was something that was done to her. After she heard the wonderful news that she was pregnant she didn't have to decide on anything. She responded with joy.

That is the same thing with salvation. Salvation is something that is done to us. We don't decide to become saved. It is completely objective, one-sided and monergistic. You are a saint. You were made saint. You didn't decide on becoming a saint. You were made one.

Now after salvation that is a whole different ball of wax. Paul writes in his letter to the Phillipians, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Why? Because it is the God who works in you both to will and work for His good pleasure.

Paul goes on that list to tell us what we must do in order to live as saints. So, now that you have been made a saint, now that you are a saint, LIVE like a saint. Well, as Christians we make decisions on that everyday. I make decisions everyday to either live or not live as a saint. I make decisions everyday to become more saintly (which Christians should do). But I did not decide to become a saint. I was made a saint. Does that make sense?

In contrast, man is 100% responsible for their damnation. Anything less is putting the blame on God for our damnation. The reprobate hear the general call of the gospel and weigh the gospel and all the arguments and decide to reject it. Why? Because they are not born again and cannot understand it.

So, I think you're on the right track Heather.

bp said...

It isn't the word "decide" that makes it casual or non-casual. It's everything else you say about it.

fair point.

Stefan said...

Dan:

Re "choose this day": point taken. But it may not be that inappropriate, even given the context.

If we choose not to serve the Triune God, then are we not ipso facto choosing to serve other (i.e., false) gods?

Verification word: unscar. Sounds like the ultimate resolution to the curse of Genesis 3.

bp said...

Salvation is a monergistic act of God. Faith and repentance (acts that we do) are responses from those who are redeemed.

CR,
But doesn't being redeemed or having salvation = regeneration + repentance + faith and not regeneration alone?

DJP said...

Let me step in as host, bp, and answer your question.

Yes, and so have Biblically faithful Reformed theologians always presented it, as far as I know. Regeneration changes our nature, whereupon our will is freed to choose Christ. Before, our will was enslaved to a corrupt nature, and chose rebellion as naturally as a fish chooses water.

But with regeneration, the light comes on. However, Scripture speaks of counting the cost, of seeking, of learning, listening, taking on the yoke. We must decide, weigh, think, understand, respond. But as (again) Reformed theologs have long rightly said, saving faith involves cognition, affection, and volition.

What a tragedy it would be to misrepresent the Gospel in a way that left the sinner feeling that it'd either just happen, or not happen; that one day he'd wake up a believer, or he wouldn't. What an embarrassment that would make of the many passages calling on sinners to hearken, heed, seek, come, turn, repent, be willing, and believe.

We mustn't let a model smash out Scripture that doesn't seem to fit, but must rather let Scripture batter our model as needed.

Frank Turk said...

CR Said:

Heather,

The reprobate do decide on their damnation. That is a decision that man makes. In contrast, the elect do not decide on their salvation. Salvation is a monergistic act of God. Faith and repentance (acts that we do) are responses from those who are redeemed.


That's true enough. So do we tell the redeemed to do it after we tell them the good news, or do we hope that the Holyu Spirit will enlighten them so other way?

That is: do we call them to make a decision with their new nature and redeemed will, or do we just wait 'til they can't hold it in anymore?

Frank Turk said...

CR also said:

The Lord is 100% responsible for our salvation. Anything less is overemphasizing man's role.

Um.

I'd check Rom 10 before I stocked up on that too quickly. The beautiful feet are not God's feet: they are the feet of those who are doing something for God.

God's elect hear the general call of the gospel and it is an effectual call for them and it irresistible. There is no weighing of the gospel and its arguments. (That's what one does when they make decisions)

So I'm sitting in my chair at home, and my wife says to me, "I'm thirsty."

I love my wife: I don't want her to be thirsty. It's possible that I would get up with no other prompting and get her a drink.

It is also possible that she is going to get up and get one for herself. So I sit -- someone on the internet is wrong, after all.

Should she tell me to go get her a glass of water, or should she wait for me to simply want to bad enough? It seems to me that she should help me out even though I already love her: she should tell me to get her a drink.

God is a lot bigger than my wife, but I think that He wants those who love him to obey his commandments, and they can't do that without being told. The Gospel is not just that God did something: it is also that we can now respond and be accepted.

Why? Because the gospel is wonderful news. Or at least it should be wonderful news. In fact, I'll go as far to say this, if the gospel is not the most wonderful news we've ever heard, then that is legitimate grounds to doubt our salvation.

It is wonderful news. What should I do to be saved?

CR said...

I would answer your question in two ways Frank. Bridges wrote a book sometime ago and the name escapes me right now, but in it he said that we know that we have properly explained the gospel when the response is from a person: "um, does that mean I can sin more so that grace can abound?" We all know Paul's answer.

But to answer your question directly, when we proclaim the gospel to people (and it's not always going to happen in one fell swoop, one of Paul's method explained in Acts is that he explained, proved and reasoned with the hearers and their eyes are opened and they hear it as intended: wonderful news, the response from that hearer is going to be similar to that of the Phillipian jailer: "What must I do to be saved?" I tell them, believe and repent in the Lord Jesus.

bp said...

I think that my hesitancy to say words like, "please consider" and "you have a decision to make" comes from being around and hearing man-centered gospel presentations. But your post above, Dan, convinced me that I am really offended by that phrase because of all the other stuff they say along with it. That, and CR's argument led me to see where my argument breaks down. Thanks.

CR said...

Frank: Um.

I'd check Rom 10 before I stocked up on that too quickly. The beautiful feet are not God's feet: they are the feet of those who are doing something for God.


What I said was that we(I) am not responsible for our (my) own salvation. I'm not de-emphasizing the means of grace - preachers, prayer, etc. I was talking about God's monergistic act in my own salvation.

Frank: So I'm sitting in my chair at home, and my wife says to me, "I'm thirsty."

I love my wife: I don't want her to be thirsty. It's possible that I would get up with no other prompting and get her a drink...".


I've already made a distintion between salvation and after salvation. We make decisions all the time after salvation just as you do for your wife, since you love her.

Frank: The Gospel is not just that God did something: it is also that we can now respond and be accepted.

I tried addressing this in another thread. I said that the gospel is not primarily an appeal to us to do anything. If we tell people, e.g., that they need to make a decision for Christ, so that they can be better, that is not good news. It is not good news to the vile homosexual or drug or pornography addict that they must do something. It is also not good news to the person who does not live for and glorify God all the time every single day that they must do something (which is the comprehensive def'n of sin and applies to all of us).

The good news, primarily, (how Paul explains it in the opening book of Romans) concerns Jesus, God's Son and what the Father has initiated and planned. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone that believes. It is not primarily a petition for us to do anything.

Gotta get back to work, I'll give you and everyone else the last word.

neur0n said...

CR
"A related implication is the abuse is the fact that so many have wrongly believed they were Christians based on "making a decision." They made a decision, they took up Christianity, they went to church and involved themselves in certain religious activities and there it is (they think).

Are you not invading Category 1 now? If the list of "saved" is secret, how is "lost" not also?

I am also concerned at all this talk of "make a decision" being a problem. In all cases in all churches I have been in, the "decision" part has been explained both before and after the person "thinks" they have done something to be saved.

neur0n said...

CR-
...and there it is (they think)."

[forgot to close quote]
oops

David said...

Here's a new acronym, Dan.

MEGO

My eyes glaze over.

This is a great scripture that nails it down. There is great agreement through the first passel o' posts. And then somebody tries to nail it down just a little further.

And MEGO.

Mike Riccardi said...

CR,

I've read your comments on the topic from this and recent threads, and I'm noticing that you keep referring to "salvation" as "monergistic."

But as far as I know, if we're being precise, monergism and synergism refer to the act of regeneration in particular, and, though they are extremely related, not the act of justification, redemption, atonement, etc. Even though some of those things are also monergistic, historical Reformed vocab is that regeneration, not salvation, is monergistic.

I think that solves some of the imbalance I detect in what you're saying. It is in regeneration, in the spiritual quickening of the eyes to see reality, that, as the catechism says, "makes us willing."

Hope that helps folks.

Mike Riccardi said...

Not catechism.

I meant "Confession."

Sorry.

CR said...

That is not my understanding Mike and unfortunately, I don't have the time to research it right now. I would be particular troubled if any of the Reformers affirmed that the Lord and individuals cooperate in salvation[def'n of synergism] (whether it be justification or conversion). I know that the Lutherans believe in a modified def'n on monergism - which is not monergism at all, but I would be shocked to learn that any of the Reformers believing that we cooperate with God in justification or conversion or objective santification. We cooperate with him in progressive sanctification but not objective santification.

I could be wrong, but I would be very surprised. Maybe I'll look it up tonight. If you have any citations to share, that would be great.

Craig and Heather said...

DJP and CR,

Thank you for addressing my thoughts.

This blog always leaves me with plenty of things to consider.

Frank Turk:
do we call them to make a decision with their new nature and redeemed will, or do we just wait 'til they can't hold it in anymore?

For some reason, this question brought to mind the parable of the sower and the seed.

Mike Riccardi:
monergism and synergism refer to the act of regeneration in particular, and, though they are extremely related, not the act of justification, redemption, atonement, etc.

Now I'm nervous. Are you saying that
~a person can be regenerate but not justified? or

~God regenerates but we are partially responsible for working with Him in justification, atonement and redemption? or

~simply that there are many facets to God-wrought salvation and when Reformed theology refers to monergistic effect, it is limited in scope to redemption alone?



Heather

Mike Riccardi said...

CR,

I don't mean to say that we cooperate in our salvation, as if we, in our deadness, decide to believe, and based upon our decision God grants us rebirth.

Nor do I mean to say that anyone who is regenerated monergistically can refuse to (or decide not to) believe in Christ.

Either of those things would be a denial of monergism, and reformed soteriology.

I don't want to say that we cooperate, per se, in our getting justified. But it's just not true that we don't choose Christ once regenerated. Our spiritual death is manifested in that we can look right at glory, but, because our spiritual eyes are blind, prefer our sin. Having been given eyes to see in regeneration, we now choose what is most desirable.

Here's what the LBCF says (virtually identical to the WCF) in Chapter 10:

Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, He is pleased in His appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by His Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ;

That we both agree on, no question.

...enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving to them a heart of flesh;

That's basically what I just said.

This next part, which is a RESULT of that, is the clincher.

...renewing their wills, and by His almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.

That language of renewing our "wills," coming most "freely," and being made "willing," means that the difference regeneration makes in me is that it finally frees my will. It frees my will to choose what is actually desirable. Let me let them continue:

This effectual call is of God's free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, nor from any power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive therein, being dead in sins and trespasses,

Again, we're in 100% agreement, even and especially with the emphasis on no power or agency in the creature, being wholly passive. But watch what comes next:

...until being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit; he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it, and that by no less power than that which raised up Christ from the dead.

You see? Based on our regeneration (i.e., thereby), we are now able to answer, and embrace. It's not true that we don't answer, that we don't embrace, that we don't choose. We do. But we do that only after being made alive, sovereignly, monergistically, totally apart from ourselves.

Hopefully that helps.

Mike Riccardi said...

Now I'm nervous. Are you saying that
~a person can be regenerate but not justified
?

Nope. The distinction I made is a logical one, not a temporal one. That is, temporally, one is justified as soon as he is regenerated, because, as soon as he is regenerated he sees, and as soon as he sees he believes. No time passes in between. But logically, one act precedes the other.

It might help to ask which happens first: opening your eyes, or perceiving light. Temporally, it's instantaneous. No sooner do you open your eyes than light pours in. But we all realize that one is logically dependent on the other. Unless my eyes are opened, I'll never see.

Opening one's eyes logically precedes seeing, even though they're temporally simultaneous.

Regeneration logically precedes faith (or, justification, as justification is through faith), even though they're temporally simultaneous.

or ~God regenerates but we are partially responsible for working with Him in justification, atonement and redemption?

Nope. I hope this is answered by my latest comment to CR and my response to your first question above. If not, let me know.

or ~simply that there are many facets to God-wrought salvation and when Reformed theology refers to monergistic effect, it is limited in scope to redemption alone?

I would say, not "redemption," but "regeneration." Otherwise, this one gets a "Yup." And again, I hope that my response to your first question in this comment answers this as well. Again, let me know if it doesn't.

Craig and Heather said...

Oops, I meant to say "regeneration" in the last option.

Okay.
Thank you for clarifying.

Your response to CR was helpful, too, and I probably wouldn't have been wondering what you meant if I'd waited to see how you answered him.

Heather

Sir Aaron said...

Awesome. Post. Period.

Zaphon said...

Now, all those frustrating witnessing moments when I just "should have" said THIS or SHOULD HAVE NOT said that! Or those seemingly fruitless nights of street preaching, when all we got was a GO HOME NUT CASE! I should have remembered that I was being obedient to speak the truth, and it was God's 'sponsibility to do the regenerating!

I somehow got my eyes off the fact that God is sovereign and almighty, and that I'm just a vessel in his use. And the WHY that person didn't get saved was God's business.

The thing I forgot was this...HIS WAYS ARE PAST FINDING OUT...and IN THIS HE IS GLORIFIED.

HCT2 said...

GREAT post! Thank you, Dan!

Stefan said...

Zaphon:

God bless you, and all the other street-preaching brothers in Christ out there. It takes a particular kind of mettle to do that.

Spike said...

Interesting threads off the original post.

1) Gospel living (repenting and believing) does make us respond to Cat. 2 "How can I not?" so it is indeed still Cat. 1...

2) I too have never met a hyper Calvinist, but have been called a hyper Calvinist by legalistic Arminians for simply believing God's grace has a lot more (like everything) to do with my transformation then does my "obedience" to scriture. Legalists seem to like to do it alone.

3) The "make a decision" comments:

The gospel is foolishness to unbelievers. Presenting it in a way that is not foolish so that unbelievers can decide for themselves is never the gospel. Sure, it makes sense to have someone else (Jesus) "pay the price" for me, so I might be tempted to believe in that. Who wants to go to hell? That is not foolish, nor is it the gospel. And that won't give me "saving faith". But if I'm told to "turn from the world's ways" (repent) towards a Savior that showed his love for me to the point of death for my sins, which is foolish since unbelievers are "hooked" on worldliness and self validation (sin), then God can, if He desires, grant repentance, and open their eyes to just how selfish and sinful ALL the world is, and He lets the love of Christ be seen, felt, and fill that wound in their heart for the first time ever, and voila, saving faith shows up. I just don't see any "decision" in this until AFTER saving faith shows up, or at least until repentace has been granted. Asking someone to make a "decision" is something they just can do, if they have heard the true gospel.

DJP said...

You're making a distinction without a difference, Spike.

"But if I'm told to "turn from the world's ways" (repent) towards a Savior that showed his love for me to the point of death for my sins..."

...you will either decide to do so, or you will decide not to do so.

And you can only savingly decide to do so if God breathes new life into you, freeing your will to choose Him rather than the world.

Frank Turk said...

I do have the trump card, by the way:

Way of the Master.

Someone's going to have to break it to Kirk and Ray that they have to stop telling people what to do because "the parable of the seed and the sower comes to mind."

Spike said...

DJP, true, but I know a lot of people that made a decision based on their reasoning, not "having new life breathed into them", that thought they were saved, but obviously 'didn't get it'. Were they sold a 'bill of goods?'

My own experience was to sit in a church, get involved with the choir, think I was saved because I was a "believer", but then one day had my eyes opened in God's timing, and then really was born again. Suddenly I realized I didn't choose Him, He had just chosen me, wretched as I now saw myself, and I had saving faith. If I had died in my previous state, my eternal security would surely be in question. So yes, I can say I chose, twice actually, but my first "choosing" was a lark.

There's a lot of un-bornagainers out there that are a conversion waiting to happen, but they are also out there (not in church anymore) saying they believe in Jesus, so they think they are okay. They have been taught that they are okay by preachers saying all you have to do is make a "decision", and that just isn't true. The gospel has to be presented in a way that allows room for God and doesn't deceive people into thinking the decision was all theirs. It just seems like people are going to make the decision whether they are asked to make it or not, when they are presented with the true gospel. When you are born again, you understand something about grace that an unbeliever just can't fathom, compelling a desire for more of God, not self.

Sorry for the long and now off topic comment... -S

CR said...

Mike,

I agree with most of what you said except when you use "choose" or "decide." I've tried in prior threads to show the distinction between decide and choose with respond. Decide and choose have elements of weighing. Respond does not have that element of weighing. I'll defer to my prior arguments rather than belabor the point.

Be that as it may, we'll have to agree to disagree, brother. Thanks for the discussion. I think it was edifying and iron sharpens iron.

CR said...

I haven't read all 103 comments, Frank, but I wonder who is saying that we need to stop telling people what to do telling people especially when a person asks what must I do to be saved?

Sir Brass said...

"I don't want to say that we cooperate, per se, in our getting justified. But it's just not true that we don't choose Christ once regenerated. Our spiritual death is manifested in that we can look right at glory, but, because our spiritual eyes are blind, prefer our sin. Having been given eyes to see in regeneration, we now choose what is most desirable." ~ Mike Riccardi

Can I get a good baptist AMEN here?

tigerbright22 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil said...

There really should be no "compatibility" problem between the command "believe and live" and the gift of faith. Volition is a necessary part.

I believe it was Calvin who said that faith is first "passive" then "active", i.e. has both those elements in that order. I think that is a good description of the nature of the choice, though.

I think the clincher, really is not consideration of cause and effect per se, but what is "faith" and "repentance"?

Frank said in another post folks need to get that it is a "giving up" from attempting to save oneself. That's it. And the only way that happens is by entering into rest - "recumbent" in the merits of Christ's atonement justifying the *ungodly*, apart from works.

In other words, the root of repentance is turning from one's own attempts to turn from their sins, and that's done by realizing God's favour can only be freely given on account of the cross. As Spurgeon says in "All of Grace".

This is the nature of faith - there is choice, but it's a choice to "rest", not "work".

Trogdor brought up sanctification again. What I was aiming at saying a while back was not that folks are passive in faith, but that they continue the same way as this beginning. It's not "no activity", it's "around what form of teaching does one renew their minds such that it issues in actual obedience?" The answer is directing that obedience at the doctrine of grace(blessed with all blessing for life and godliness on account of imputed righteousness alone), rather than, as it were, the form of knowledge in the law (blessing mediated on the basis of performance). The first brings actual fruit/obedience, naturally, as sons from a new heart...mix in any of the second, and for all the effort, you get nothing but an increase in the opposite.

In other words, be active in "great" faith (qualitative descriptor) - "rest" - and we'll naturally, actively head in the direction of right doing in reality, rather than just being blinded to the fact that for all our efforts, we're not obeying because we can't when we're not obeying the gospel as it really is. We're not living as sons, but slaves still attempting to serve in the old way of the written code.

We ourselves are not "passive" in faith, but faith itself has first its essential passive element...

...I liked what Gov98 said about Matt11v28 above. Jesus isn't qualifying the invitation/command to a pre-prepared few, he's saying all are weary and burdened in reality, realize it, realize I'm the solution, come to me for rest.

Revelation ends with "whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely", doesn't it?

Well, those are my thoughts, as I still try to get hold of things.

DJP said...

But, Spike, the solution isn't to try to be more correct than God and avoid the Biblical necessity of calling for decision, for decisive repentance and faith. So much harm and folly comes from that overreaction to error. You yourself you were a "believer." So why not, equally, rail against calling people to believe?

Respond Biblically. Preach the whole counsel. Whatever your issue was, it wasn't that you were called to decide for Christ. Unless one wants to substitute a deadly dyspel of conversion by some sort of glacial evolution, one needs to call for conversion, repentance, faith - decision. It's Bibley. I think we can trust God to know what He was doing when He packed His word with such language.

RichardS said...

There is another aspect of this issue that might be considered. Does God just command us to believe (one time act of belief) or does He command us to be believing (have a believing heart) as in a continuous believing? Unbelievers don't just commit one act of unbelief, they live in unbelief. So to become a believer, one must be a believing one. This requires a believing heart and not just a single act of faith.

John 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing."

In John 3:16 the word for "believe" is a present active participle. Literaly, "so that the believing ones in Him would not perish but have eternal life." Eternal life is not to those who make an act of belief, but to those who are believing.

DJP said...

Irrelevant. A lifetime exercise of faith begins with a decisive exercise of faith.

RichardS said...

Regarding Matthew 11:28 and Jesus calling those who are weary and heavy-laden. This is also the pattern of the Old Testament and part of what Jesus came to do. He does not save those who love their sin and go on in their pride. He is a Savior for those who are broken for their sin.

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Psa 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;

RichardS said...

DJP said...
Irrelevant. A lifetime exercise of faith begins with a decisive exercise of faith.

RS: Irrelevant? A lifetime of faith begins with a believing heart. The command of God is not an act of faith, but to have a believing heart. God gives the gift of faith in giving the gift of a believing heart. The English NT reads "belief" because it is not smooth to translate into English "to be faithing."

DJP said...

Again, RichardS, irrelevant and not in contention.

RichardS, if you don't have anything to contribute nor anything to learn, please, sit it out voluntarily.

trogdor said...

Shouldn't it be, "Please be a sitting-out one"? Sitting out is not something we choose to do, but a state that is done to us.

trogdor said...

CR,

I must admit I'm a bit surprised to see you continuing to push that "involuntary response" argument. Most often I hear it as a caricature of Calvinism, or from those who haven't put ten seconds worth of critical thought into the issue.

I've introduced many 'churched' people to the Biblical view of election and salvation, and almost without exception one of the first two objections (along with "That's not fair!!1!one!) is, and sing along if you know it, that this reduces us to mindless puppets or robots. If you've ever been in a conversation about this, you know it's coming. We're just puppets, our choices are meaningless, blah blah blah. So my question is...

You're pushing a view that faith/response is an unthinking response, that we in no way decide what to do, that our wills are completely uninvolved. How, exactly, does your view of faith as involuntary response differ from the slanderous caricature that election/monergism reduces us to unthinking robot/puppets?

Daryl said...

It's still strikes me as funny and a little disconcerting that anyone thinks that people do stuff without deciding to do stuff. Especially when the bible commands us to do stuff.

"Repent" is not like "You must be born again". The former is a command to do something, the latter is a explanation of what must be done to you.

Like trogdor just wrote, how often have we heard Arminians (or, more often, semi-pelagians) tell people that Calvinists believe that people don't have a will at all.

Why, I ask you, would God free our will if only to tell us that it doesn't matter, you can't use it anyway?

"What must I do?" come out of a heart that has decided to do something, but doesn't know what to do.

...and round and round we go...

Dan's post, objection, reiteration of Dan's post, objection, reiteration with further Bibley back-up, objec....

Try this at home, do something, anything (aside from breathing and beating your heart...) say, take out the trash, but don't decide to do it first. Try it...

CR said...

I don't recall saying that faith and repentance was an involuntary response, trogdor. If I did give thar notion then let me be clear. Faith and repentance are voluntary responses.

S.J. Walker said...

Wow.

Dan, my apologies if I had anything to do with the issues argued following my comments.

I haven't read EVERY comment here, but it appears some of us are saying nigh on the same things. Likewise, it appears some of the discussion has morphed into worrying more about phraseology than what our simple command from God is: preach the Gospel.

I did say that I would avoid using terms like "make a decision". I still would, not because it is inherently wrong, but because there are better words for the SAME Truth; and honestly, the phrase has been abused to a point where I have found it to be a stumbling block. Case in point: this thread.

I echo what Dan and a few others have been saying. It is illogical and moreover un-Scriptural( or un-Bibley) to say that "decision" is not something man must or even can do. We MUST decide! But in order for that to be accomplished, God MUST give utterance. Period.

Men are born "decisioned" by nature in favor of idols. The more we live in and amongst these idols, the more it becomes clear we not only love by nature, but by will. It is deliberate, and it is natural. It is natural to be hungry. It is deliberate to eat.

Grace is what shatters our nature. Thus, being stripped completely of our own self-glory, we MUST "decide" Christ.

How this comes to pass, is, as th OP stated, completely God's business. Ours is to obey.

Let's not get TOO caught up baulking over this. even now, I'm sure I have said something in this comment that could be said better, clearer, etc. We do our best to be true to Scripture. We must take this very seriously. but we must trust that God truly is as Sovereign as we say He is.

Again, Dan, my apologies for any confusion I may have caused. I greatly appreciated your post. Very timely and succinct.

blogger word: pultran
definition: v. the act of poltroonery.

DJP said...

Ain't no thing.

Better than the Joshua passage would be 1 Kings 18:21 — "And Elijah came near to all the people and said, `How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.' And the people did not answer him a word."

S.J. Walker said...

Mmhm. Good citation. As a question not so much for this thread, but one to consider nonetheless Dan.
What would be your thoughts on Luke 10:41-42?

greglong said...

Daryl said:

...and round and round we go...

Dan's post, objection, reiteration of Dan's post, objection, reiteration with further Bibley back-up, objec....


My frustration exactly, Daryl! Not sure how many more times and in how many more ways Dan can say it.

Great stuff, Dan.

BrettR said...

This post was such a release of burden and a call to march at the same time. Time to march and advance with what I got.

Thanks, Dan, I needed this.

DJP said...

Brett, you made my day.

Craig and Heather said...

Frank: I do have the trump card, by the way:

Way of the Master.

Someone's going to have to break it to Kirk and Ray that they have to stop telling people what to do because "the parable of the seed and the sower comes to mind."


What? Did I say something stupid?

"Kirk and Ray" didn't plant (pun intended)the idea in my pea brain. And I wasn't saying I disagree with your statement.

I've often wondered if the good soil represented a heart that had been properly prepared by God to receive His word. After all, good farmers do amend, till and fertilize the ground before planting their crops....Untended ground is highly unlikely to produce anything of value. But the ground can't prepare itself.

I should know as I am something of a garden failure expert.

And, it appears that Paul alludes to the garden concept in 1 Corinthians 3:6 when he wrote: "I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth"

Which suggests to me that God calls faithful men to scatter His seed.

The parable does not indicate that the sower targets his efforts and sows only on ground that he knows is fertile. He throws it all over the place even though it doesn't reach maturity in every environment.

From where I sit, that definitely upholds both the concept of "universal preaching" and the Calvinistic perspective that God is sovereign over who does and does not "receive and believe". And it seems to fit well the post topic.

Am I wrong?

H

Daryl said...

CR,

"Faith and repentance are voluntary responses."

I'm glad you wrote that, because a voluntary response is one that the responder decides to give. No?

So a decision must be made. Yes, a decision that is enabled by God, but still it is a freely made decision.

CR said...

No Daryl,

Faith and repentance are voluntary responses, not decisions or choices. I've highlighted the distinctions between choices (or decisions) vs. response in prior threads (decisionalism thread). I would just refer you to that. The word decision (or choice) is not a synonym of response.

Craig and Heather said...

CR:

Does this describe your perspective?

Psalm 65:4 Blessed is the one whom You choose, and cause to come near You...

If so, it looks pretty Bibley to me.

H

Craig and Heather said...

Still, I'm not sure it is actually wrong to say "I chose God because He first enabled me to choose Him".

H

CR said...

Heather,

Haven't looked at that passage recently but I would say that's one way of describing the perspective.

Again, when I use choose, as it's defined...You think about the regenerate who hears the gospel and the wonderful news it is, he's not choosing like Indiana Jones was in the Last Crusade when the ancient knight templar tells Indy, you must choose, but choose wisely. When the regenerate repents he is responding to the wonderful news. The gospel is the greatest thing he has ever heard.

The unregenerate, interestingly, do choose and they always choose unwisely (or they may choose on the surface to embrace the gospel for a short time and reject it later) because the gospel isn't good news to them. They're calculating and weighing the options and since they don't understand the gospel (because they're hostile to it) they always choose unwisely. It is mind boggling that the reprobate are 100% responsible for their damnation and the Lord is 100% responsible for the elect's salvation.

But when the regenerate respond, don't think of it as someone rubbing their chin and saying, "hmmmm....hmmmm....hmmmm...yeah, that makes sense I decide Christ."

Daryl said...

CR,

I think you're making a distinction without a difference.

When we do something, like respond, for instance, we do it because we decide to do it.

RichardS said...

Romans 9:16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

John 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

Mike Riccardi said...

Richard,

Romans 9 describes election, which doesn't involve our choice.

The second two verses describe regeneration, which, again is not the same as justification. See my response at 3:43 PM, October 13, 2009.

DJP said...

RichardS, once again irrelevant, points not in contention, and frequently and sufficiently answered.

What miserable spiritual malpractice it would be to present the Gospel to sinners in such a way that gave any impression other than that an instant, decisive, radical response to Christ is commanded and required.

RichardS said...

Mike Riccardi said...
Mike R said:

Romans 9 describes election, which doesn't involve our choice.

The second two verses describe regeneration, which, again is not the same as justification. See my response at 3:43 PM, October 13, 2009.

RS: While it is not the same as justification, it is widely accepted that regeneration and faith occur chronologically at the same time. The soul that believes is the soul that is justified. Romans 8:29-30 also shows this causual relationship of the acts of God. Those that God predestines God calls, and those that God calls it is God that justifies.

DJP said...

Again, irrelevant and off-topic.

You're done here, Richard. Again. Find another topic you can deal better with. Nice and patient and pointed just is not getting through to you.

And as you know, I mean it.

RichardS said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Craig and Heather said...

CR,

I think I understand what you mean.

An unregenerate person has not been made capable of truly loving God--so he must rely on his own intellect when weighing the options. And, even when he reasons that "Jesus" is the better choice, he has no real foundation upon which to build.

The regenerate man also is given a choice, but is guided to the life-giving option by the Holy Spirit. And, he chooses rightly because he can see there is no contest.

Perhaps the difference would be similar to my offering dessert to my family by saying...."Kids, we've got chocolate brownies or canned dog food----your choice!"

The ignorant toddler might like the colorful picture on the tin and pick Fido's dinner.

But the older, wiser kids would be saying "Are you kidding?! Of course we want brownies!"

H

CR said...

Not exactly Heather, and maybe I shouldn't have used my Indy example because all examples breakdown at some point. What I'm saying is that when the gospel is properly explained to people and the hearer hears the gospel, it is the most wonderful news h/she's ever heard.

If you recall, I said in an earlier thread that if the gospel is not the most wonderful news that we've ever heard, then it cause for us to doubt our salvation. So, when you hear wonderful news (think of the woman that has been trying to get pregnant), there is no weighing of the gospel and other arguments. When we properly explain the gospel to someone who is regenerated we get one or both of two responses - (1)Does this mean I can sin more so that grace can abound? (2)What must I do to be saved?

Faith and repentance are not decisions or choices but voluntary responses of redeemed people who have heard the greatest news ever.

Craig and Heather said...

CR,

I appreciate your taking the time to explain (again) what you are saying.

If you recall, I said in an earlier thread that if the gospel is not the most wonderful news that we've ever heard, then it cause for us to doubt our salvation.

This I can grasp.

As to the specifics of how it all works together, I guess I'm not ready to tackle the concept. Fortunately for me, "explain God" is not a requirement for salvation. But I'll keep working at developing a better understanding.

:o)

H

Hanani Hindsfeet said...

Varfnod does equal 2 hits on google and both to your post...

DJP said...

(c;




(I did check before using it, to make sure it wasn't... I don't know, some term used by some perverse subculture somewhere. If it becomes common, just remember: you heard it here first!)