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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « OPC Report on Justification | Main | What is Calvinism? by B. B. Warfield »

    An Attempt to Argue Against Faith as A Gift

    Recently a visitor responded to my recent post entitled, "Is Faith a Gift, What Does Jesus Say?" where I point out that Jesus says, "no one can come to me unless the Father grants it" ...In the post it shows that this passage is affirming nothing less than that no one can believe in Christ unless God grants it.. and when accompanied by v. 37 that all that the Father gives to me WILL come to me, and those who comes to me will not be cast out" Jesus is plainly saying that all who are given Him by the Father will believe in Him and He will not cast them out. The act of "giving" of the Father to the Son is prior to the faith of the same individual, and that these texts show that such faith is certain, not merely a possibility. All those whom He grants (v 65) and draws (v.44) will be raised up at the last day without exception the text affirms. So no one can believe on Jesus unless God grants it (vs 65) and all to whom God grants it will believe (vs 37). This is a univeral negative and a universal positive and forms a syllogism. This leaves no room for the idea that the passage somehow affirms that all given to Christ have the OPPORTUNITY or natural ability to believe, as the visitor attempts to assert but that grace alone is what saves.

    Here is the visitors response in full, with my own critique of their response following:

    Visitor:
    IT IS NOT FAITH, BUT RATHER SALVATION THAT IS THE GIFT OF GOD

    "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

    By grace through faith you are saved, NOT, by grace you can have faith and are saved.

    Firstly, I’d like to offer a definition for the words grace and faith.


    Grace is God’s unmerited favor - something that is done for us without our help and is neither deserved nor undeserved.

    Faith is each person’s positive response to God, our decision to believe and trust, that comes from the free will that God has given us

    It is true that faith is evident in some persons but not others, and it is true that grace has nothing to do with it. All humans are able to obtain God’s grace ,“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11), and all humans are capable of faith, "God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3) so God is being quite just when the author above says that ”God requires faith of all men” . The difference lies in the free will that God has given us in choosing whether or not we respond to his grace with faith or whether we choose to ignore it. Regardless of what we choose, we are all capable. The only difference is whether or not we are willing.

    "No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." (John 6:65)


    “all that the Father gives to me will come to Me." (John 6:37)

    It is wrong to assume that this then means “Jesus is stating that no one can believe in Him unless God grants it, and all to whom God grants it will believe”. We see in the scriptures that "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." (John 3:35) and "Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." (John 17:2)

    Jesus states, that nothing happens without it being allowed by God. In giving all things to Jesus, God is granting all mankind with an equal opportunity to be saved, but that does not mean that all mankind will believe and be saved. God’s will as we se in 1 Timothy 2:4 is “Who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth”. Jesus’ power extends over all of mankind, including those who do not believe and God has given Jesus power to save “as many as thou hast given him”, yet as many, does not mean that all will be saved.

    "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3: 16).

    In sending his son to die for us, God has made atonement for our sins through His grace. This is for everyone, but the condition still lies in that we need to believe in order for his grace to become a reality in the form of salvation in our lives. That is, we need to respond in faith, and when we respond in faith, we receive the gift of salvation. Why is it a gift? It is a gift because we did nothing to prompt God to provide us with atonement in the first place. He did this out of his love for us.

    “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)

    Grace and faith are both dependent on each other in order for us to receive salvation but it is important to remember that it was not our faith that moved God to respond with grace. God had already moved through his grace, and our faith is the response to what we believe God has done. God does not force people to believe, our belief comes from our desire to submit to God, and put our trust in him. It comes from our free will. It would be pointless for God to desire us to love and trust him, if this love and trust was nothing more than him making us love and trust him. God longs to have relationships with us, a relationship is one that is entered into voluntarily by both parties and although God has given all men a measure of faith, it is up to us to act on that, and take that step in trusting him and loving him. It is not grace alone, that makes men to differ, for God has made his grace available to all men through the death of his one and only son, Jesus, rather it is as the scripture says: by God’s grace through our faith, that we are saved. All men can attain God’s grace, all men have been given a measure of faith by God, all men stand equal and so it is our free will that makes us respond differently to the offer of salvation. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

    A very simple example to explain how grace and faith are both dependant on each other, and to show that it is not just by grace alone that people respond in faith but rather free will, is this:

    A store in your suburb announces that they will be giving a free TV to each family, simply by coming to collect it from the store. You can respond to this announcement in several ways:

    You can believe and trust what they have said, and make your way to the store to pick up your TV.
    Or, you can choose not to believe that they are really giving out free TV’s, perhaps you assume that there is a catch of sorts or you simply don’t believe it to be true.

    Whether you believe or not, is not affected by the store’s decision to give out free TV’s. At the same time, the store’s decision to give out free TV’s is not affected by whether or not people will believe.

    The store’s move to give out free TV is grace. It happened because they wanted to give them out, not because anything the people had done had prompted them to.

    Your response to their offer of a free TV is faith. Each person is capable of believing that it is true, but not all will choose to believe.

    The TV is the gift, it is salvation. Only those who had faith in what the store announced and acted upon that by going to the store, received the gift. The TV.

    In order for people to receive the gift, two things were necessary, the grace… it was by the store’s grace that the store was giving out free TV’s, and faith… which moved the people to respond. Only with those two things working together were the people able to obtain their gift. Without the grace, and without the response of trust and acceptance, the giving or obtaining of the gift is not possible.

    But, it was not the store’s move to give out a gift that made any difference to whether people believed the claim or not. The people exercised their free will, to either believe and act on their belief or not believe, and do nothing about it.


    .
    .
    .
    My critique of this common response:

    Dear Alejandra K. Cares Henriquez

    Thanks for your extended response. A few things need to be said with regard to your assertions:

    you said >>>>

    By grace through faith you are saved, NOT, by grace you can have faith and are saved.

    Actually it is not grace PLUS faith that one is saved but grace through faith. Faith is the instrument which takes hold of Christ and his work, but it has no redemptive value in itself. It is the Holy Spirit which unites us to Christ through faith, not because of it. We all agree that a person must believe for justification before God. But no one is naturally willing to submit to the gospel (Rom 3:11, 12; John 3:3). Faith is not part of the price of redemption, as you would have it. Look at the context of the passage you are quoting: it says, "even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] quickened us (made us alive) together with Christ--by grace you have been saved." In other words, an unregenerate man who does not have the Holy Spirit, cannot understand spiritual things, they are foolishness to him (1 Cor 2:14). Apart from the Holy Spirit, man has no free will to believe the gospel. His will is in bondage to the corruption of nature. Are you claiming that a person, dead in sin, blind, deaf to the things of God, desires Christ apart from a supernatural work of the Spirit? There is overwhelming evidence to overthrow this false understanding.

    C.H. Spurgeon, in his "Fire: the Want of the Times" once said:

    "Brethren, there is nothing in the gospel, apart from the Spirit of God, which can save a man, for man hates the gospel with all his heart! Though the reasonableness of the gospel of Jesus ought to make the belief of it universal, yet its plain dealing with human sin excites deadly antagonism. Therefore, the gospel itself would make no progress were it not for the divine power. There is an invisible arm which pushes forward the conquests of the truth. There is a fire unfed with human fuel, which burns a way for the truth of Jesus Christ into the hearts of men."

    Your response presupposes that man has a 'free will' but does the the Bible gives any evidence of this?. May I ask where the Bible tells us a man has a free will, or are you using unaided logic alone to draw this conclusion? It appears, from my perspective at least, that you are claiming that, apart from the Holy Spirit opening his heart, a person, of his natural strength, can open their own dark heart to the light having a natural desire for spiritual things. But can the unspiritual desire the spiritual? Does the unspiritual have the mind of Christ that he might understand spiritual things?

    You said>>>IT IS NOT FAITH, BUT RATHER SALVATION THAT IS THE GIFT OF GOD

    Faith is part of that salvation .... Eph 2:8 itself says by grace through faith, and that not of yourselves but the gift of God. [this was not the passage we we exegeting]. Natural man has no desire for spiritual things so He even needs the Holy Spirit if he is to believe. He must be quickened. It is not by the will of man (John 1:13) that one is born from above. Man's fallen will itself is directed by his heart of stone which is naturally hardened to the things of God. Ask yourself, can a natural man change his own will and humble himself apart from grace? This is a salvation of merit and contrary to the Christian message for it assumes some persons can conjure up a love and desire for Christ and not others.. To claim we can have faith springing out of our fallen natures is to make faith into a work.

    You said>>>

    Faith is each person’s positive response to God, our decision to believe and trust, that comes from the free will that God has given us

    First I suggest you need to prove to all of us from the Text of Scripture that man even has a free will. Then your statement might have validity. Apart from that you are imposing your own belief into the Scriptures. i.e. this is an assumption you bring from outside Scripture. For the Scriptures CLEARLY teach that man is a slave to sin until Christ sets him free. Is a slave free? He loves darkness and hates the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19). He is a slave to darkness. Can those who are corrupt, BY NATURE, make their own heart love Christ or see his beauty and excellency?? No, this also comes about by grace.

    Also God commands all persons to repent and believe the gospel. But this does imply any man has the natural desire or ability to do so. Only those God has granted repentance (2 Tim 2:25) wil have such desires. God also commands all persons to obey the Ten Commandments? Does this imply anyone can perfectly do so? In other words, God commands us to do something we are utterly incapable of. Why would he do this? Romans 3 teaches that it is to reveal our impotence and sin: "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin."

    In other words, the purpose of the divine legislation is to reveal not what we can do, but what we cannot do. And the Bible says "This is the command of God, to believe in his Son." God commands it. This does not mean we are willing. Willingness comes from grace, not nature.

    You admit>>>> "It is true that faith is evident in some persons but not others, and it is true that grace has nothing to do with it. All humans are able to obtain God’s grace"

    So you acknowledge that grace has nothing to do with the reason some have faith and not others. Can you prove your assertion from Scripture? Are all humans are ABLE to take hold of God's grace purely by nature as you claim? Please show us where the Scripture asserts fallen man's moral ability to desire Christ? In other words, you are claiming that the Holy Spirit is completely unnecessary in the preaching of the Gospel to unbelievers. So accordingly, we should, therefore, forget about praying for unbelievers for, in your view, God can do nothing to help them. The moment you admit the necessity of the Spirit, then you admit that man has no free will to believe apart from Him. Your definition of grace, in your response, precludes God doing ANYTHING to change the heart for it is merely a willingness on God's part IF MAN WILL.

    But the Scriptures contradict your understanding - Consider the following:

    For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thess 1:4, 5)

    No one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:3)

    In other words, your definition of grace is totally inadequate. Grace is much more than simply God's unmerited favor. It also includes the work of the Holy Spirit prior to salvation in opening blind eyes to see the truth, opening deaf ears and turning our heart of stone to a heart of flesh (according to Scripture). God does a work of grace in men's hearts, which are naturally hostile to the gospel. Cessation of hostility is not done through mere persuasion but because the Holy Spirit illumines and quickens the heart of those he came to save.

    "It does not depend on man's desire or effort but on God's mercy" (Rom 9:16) The Scriptures plainly testify that the Spirit gives life and the flesh counts for nothing (John 6:63). Nothing means nothing. We must become spiritual to exercise a spiritual will.

    You said >>>"God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3)

    Again, you have completely misquoted the text and even taken it out of context. This is written to Christians and Christians only, not to the unregenerate. In context Paul says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers". "Brothers" does not include unbelievers. So actually this verse loudly proclaims that God's giving a measure of faith is ONLY to the elect, not universally. He does not give this measure of faith to all, but to those who he is speaking to in the passage. Not only have you read this in isolation apart from context, but have misquoted it. Read it again considering that he just said "I appeal to you brothers...."

    "For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned."

    you said >>> The difference lies in the free will that God has given us in choosing whether or not we respond to his grace with faith or whether we choose to ignore it. Regardless of what we choose, we are all capable. The only difference is whether or not we are willing.

    How do you know this?. Did you get this idea from Scripture or some other authority? You created a presupposition that all men can believe the gospel apart form the Holy Spirit because you claim that grace is ONLY grace offered and God does nothing for unbelievers beyond that. This is not only unbiblical, but Pelagian, a heresy condemnd by many church councils. Is it not grace itself that makes us humble and willing? "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).

    you said >>>>

    Jesus states, that nothing happens without it being allowed by God. In giving all things to Jesus, God is granting all mankind with an equal opportunity to be saved, but that does not mean that all mankind will believe and be saved.

    No he does not say this. You are rewriting the Scriptures. Jesus says nothing of the sort. He says "ALL that the Father gives to me will come to me." (John 6:37). Look closely, ALL, not some. All who are given to the Eternal SON, will believe the gospel. This text could not be plainer. So no one can believe UNLESS God grants it, and ALL to whom God grants it will believe. If the passage meant what you say (that it merely gives all the opportunity), then it would mean universalism, that all will believe the gospel, but this simply is not the case.

    >>>> Jesus’ power extends over all of mankind, including those who do not believe and God has given Jesus power to save “as many as thou hast given him”, yet as many, does not mean that all will be saved.

    Yes, it actually does. Look at the passage in John 17 where you got this. It does not say that Jesus merely gives opportunity to all that the Father has given him, but rather that "he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." AS MANY as thou hast given him, not all persons whatsoever. Rememeber the same word is used earlier in John 6 which says that ALL who the father has given the son will believe. ALL, NOT SOME. Then in John 17 he further says,

    "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine."

    In other words, those who the Father has given the Son are not the same as the rest of the world, for he only prays for them, and actually excludes the rest of the world in his prayer.

    You said>>>>God does not force people to believe, our belief comes from our desire to submit to God, and put our trust in him.

    I would argue that you have a very unbiblical view of man's condition prior to salvation. To think that fallen man will naturally desire Christ or to submit to God, apart form the work of the Holy Spirit, is pure Pelagianism. How can an unspiritual man desire spiritual things?

    you said again>>>It comes from our free will.

    So you claim that man can freely believe in Christ apart from the Spirit of God? All the Scriptures contradict you. Man's will is in bondage to corruption. We are naturally hostile to God because of what we are. Our choices result from our nature and disposition. We hate God by nature. None of us naturally see Christ's beauty and excellency.

    Jesus says some do not believe BECAUSE they are not his sheep (John 10).

    Finally, you do not explain why one person believe the gospel and not the other. Is one naturally more humble than the other? more sensitive to spiritual things? If so it would be salvation based on merit, on the character of the person believing over the one who does not. God's love for his own would then be conditional. But God saves in spite of ourselves. To say God's free gift does not include His Holy Spirit to grant understanding and moral ability is to think way too highly of those who are dead in sin. Dead in sin because they have no spiritual life in them. Spiritual life comes prior to willingness.

    You store analogy of givine free TVs away is flawed and here's why I think so: Consider that a blind man is not helped by merely shining a light into his eyes. He must be healed and given eyes to see before He sees. Grace does not merely stand aloof and hope that the blind man will see by exercising his will. He comes and delivers him. So your analogy has the prior assumption that the gift of God is both desirable and something we have the ability to receive. But neither can be proved from Scripture. In fact, the Scripture testifies that the new birth is what causes faith (1 John 5:1)

    Lastly, if faith is not the gift of God then the Scripture gives false witness about itself. Paul thanks God for the faith of the Thessalonians and others. Can you thank God for your faith Alejandra? or is this the one thing you contributed to the price of your redemption? You would then have to pray, "God, thank you for everything, except my faith. I PRODUCED THIS and others did not, therefore God you helped me because I helped myself. You get credit for most, but I get credit for that" This is boasting, I would argue, and therefore contrary to the gospel. The true gospel leaves no room for boasting. You must be able to give thanks to God for all that you have, not just some.


    Posted by John on July 21, 2006 02:09 PM

    Comments

    "We are dependent on God, not only for redemption itself but for our faith in the Redeemer; not only for the gift of His Son but for the Holy Ghost for our conversion."
    Edwards in a public lecture in Boston July 8, 1731

    "I say that man, before he is renewed into the new creation of the Spirit's kingdom, does and endeavours nothing to prepare himself for that new creation and kingdom, and when he is re-created has does and endeavors nothing towards his perseverance in that kingdom; but the Spirit alone works both blessings in us, regenerating us, and preserving us when regenerate, without ourselves..." Martin Luther (Bondage of the Will pg. 268)

    "Faith in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ is always the result of the new birth, and can never exist except in the regenerate. Whoever has faith is a saved man."
    - C.H. Spurgeon from His sermon Faith and Regeneration

    One of the clearest texts (beside Eph. 2:8-9) that teaches that saving faith is a gift from God, and not a common human natural ability, is Phil. 1:29:

    "For to you it has been granted (echaristhe) on behalf of Christ (huper Christou) not only to believe (pisteuein) in Him, but also to suffer for his sake (huper autou)." (NKJV)

    Note what 2 things have been granted or gifted by God to these saints/brothers-- 1) to believe in or exercise faith in Christ, and 2) to suffer. Both of these life-occasions are spoken of as precious donations (from whom?), and made "upon" or "in view of" Christ.

    If "faith in Christ" is a common possession of humanity, what makes it a gift? If it is a common gift, how does "on behalf of Christ" make the difference, seeing that the faith occurs on the prior basis of it? And how are these Philipian Christians supposed to recognize that their faith in Christ is different from all the unbeliever's faith (!?!) in Christ, being indistinguishable from the gift to all men? If it be said that it is on account of the suffering, then one who holds a universalist view of this faith in Christ is left in the odd position of having to affirm that if the first is merely a potential gift to all, then the second (by parallelism) must also be a potential gift to Christians! That is, it's up to us whether we want to suffer or not!

    Of course Paul is saying no such mumbo-jumbo. The faith in Christ was gifted to these believers, just as surely as their sufferings are, and both for Jesus' sake. In either case, this privileged church has collectively (by personal acts of faith in a common savior, and by pesonal acts of suffering at the hands of common oppressors) recieved that which they otherwise did nor could ever possess, but by said gifts they do in fact possess it.

    "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." John 6:29 (NASB)

    It is one thing to produce a religious man; men can do that. But it takes the power of God in Christ to produce a Christian man and there is no limit to that power.

    D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

    Thank you, John, for very well written answers to all the posters ascertions. I hope the poster will really reflect on your responses. I am a former Arminian, just because that was the only thing to which I had ever been exposed. When I started to attend a reformed church about 5 years ago, I had never heard these truths and, since they challenged the man-centered doctrine I had been unwittingly following all my Christian life, I was resistant to accepting them. But when I started reading things like you just wrote and talking to other reformed brothers about these things and looking at how different parts of scripture all fit together to support them, it suddenly answered many of the things I used to struggle with in the Bible. After I saw the truth of these things, it had a dramatic impact on my worship of God and every other aspect of my life with Him. The problem really boils down to our view of who God is. Do we view Him as sovereign ruler of His universe with his goals and desires as paramount and unstoppable or as a weak god that is hobbled by man's and Satan's actions or inactions. Unfortunately, most of today's evangelical church has been affected by the teachings of Pelagius and Arminius and most Arminian believers probably don't even know that Arminianism came about as a teaching that was opposed by the orthodox church that came out of the Reformation. In fact, they probably don't even know that they are Arminian. Speaking as a former Arminian, I know that was my situation. As part of my daily prayers, I have begun praying for a revival in the evangelical church that God will start opening peoples eyes so they can see and realize the amazing grace God has lavished on us. I hope that those of us whom God has enlightend will always be gentle and respectful, as you were, in our responses when arguments for Arminianism are raised. There are many out there, like I was, who are just uninformed and need to be gently taught.

    Nicely done John. It has always amazed me how the Arminian sees no problem with taking out of context of God's Holy Word to support their man-centered "gospel." I also wonder at how they justify doing so.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake
    In this verse two things are granted to Christians; 1) belief (faith) in Him and 2) to suffer for His sake

    Thanks for your response for it was thoughtful and accurate. I would prefer adding two things: First, concerning faith as a gift, the Pelagian quoted Ephesians 2:8-9. However, if he knew Greek at all he would know from Wallace's Grammar as any good exegete that this passage explicitly states (a conceptual antecedant)that faith is not a meritous work at all. I would venture to say that Paul is defining it as a gift as elsewhere (Phil. 1:29). Second, concerning his TV analogy, this carries the presupposition that God purchased some salvific concept or opportunity (where is this found in Scripture). This is not only a faulty understanding of faith but the atonement. This undermines the atoning work of Christ on the cross. Jesus died for sinners and purchased people not vague concepts (Revelation 5:9-10; John 10; 1 Peter 3:18).

    There are AT LEAST a couple of clarifications that need to be made. They were elaborated at http://thomisttacos.valenhome.com/2006/07/28/q-a-is-faith-the-efficient-cause-of-salvation/

    David M

    Your comment> Some people, Calvinists, interpret "dead in our sins" and "spiritually dead" as incapable to respond to God because dead things do not respond. The spirit in the unsaved man is dead, therefore, it cannot respond. However, the Calvinist’s interpretation is based on a false analogy, for to say a thing is "spiritually dead" does not entail that it is unresponsive. Consider Satan who is a spirit and who is alive. Is Satan spiritually alive and the unbeliever spiritually dead? If the unbeliever is spiritually dead afortiori Satan is also spiritually dead. Yet, one finds Satan responding to God in the book of Job. Thus, it is not the case that a spiritually dead entity cannot respond to God."

    Thanks for your post. Please take the time to read why I think you may misunderstand thus mamking your comments erroneous and inconsistent. .. "dead in sin" simply is man's condition apart form the Holy Spirit [out of union with Christ]. The man without the Spirit does not understand the things of God and thinks they are foolish (1 Cor 1:14). You do admit that the natural man does not have the Holy Spirit, do you not?

    So, in other words, by default, you are claiming that an unregerate person is MORALLY ABLE and can be responsive to the gospel APART from ANY assistance from the Holy Spirit, correct? Please respond by posting what man and his will is able to do in the face of preaching the gospel if the Holy Spirit does nothing to open his blind eyes or illuminate his mind? Left to himself, what is his condition? Can he believe? Does he want to? Does a person without the Holy Spirit understand spiritual things? Can a natural man see beauty and excellency in Christ and His salvation? Will a man humble himself apart from grace to make him humble? Are some people more humble by nature, is that why they believe and others don't?

    What Calvinists believe is just what the Scriptures do ... like the following:

    "we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction."

    In other words, while the preaching of the gospel is necessary it is not sufficient to persuade. We can teach till we are blue in the face and people will not believe unless the Spirit works in the heart of the sinner. The Scripture says he knows they are chosen BECAUSE the the gospel came not only in WORD but in the power of the Spirit.

    The Text also says that "no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by from the Holy Spirit."
    1 Corinthians 12

    So any so-called gospel such as yours which preaches that we CAN believe apart form the Holy Spirit ... i.e. that man has the natural moral ability to turn to Christ apart from God's help, is teaching pelagianism.

    Now if you admit the need for the Holy Spirit AT ALL, that He is necessary for salvaiton then you have just admitted that man IS "dead in sin" and cannot even lift a finger toward his own salvaiton. So either way, your theology has been proven beyond resonable doubt to be false.

    So you need to admit that you are you are misrepresenting God.

    Can man believe apart from any help of the Holy Spirit? no .. so he is dead in sin, unless Christ sets him free. Remember when we speak of this we are speaking of man's condition apart from the Spirit bringing Him into union with Christ.

    By the way, Satan is spiritual dead. He is sealed in unrighteousness. He is a lair and the father of lies. Any obedience he gives to God does not come from a renewed heart, or one that loves God, but rather is slavish and based entirely on his own interests or because he has to. And this obedience is not redemptive. He can do himself no redemptve good. "Without faith it is impossible to please God". Satan has not placed his faith in Christ alone and he will not. God has already sentenced him to his doom. In fact, God has not provided any help or atonement whatsoever for fallen angels, as He did for man. Talk about being spiritually dead.

    Related Essay
    Do Humans Have More Freedom Than God
    http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/02/do_humans_have_more_freedom_th_1.php

    I think I read Ephesians 2:8-9 wrong for years. "It is by grace that you are saved through faith.."
    I always emphasized "by grace" and "through faith."
    It do not think it means we are somehow saved through our faith, but rather it is by grace that our faith (regardless of if it is a gift or a choice) means anything. Without grace, our faith would be meaningles..

    You guys might want to take a look at this...


    "Ephesians 2:8 is sometimes cited, but the "gift of God" in view is not faith itself, but the whole complex of salvation-by-grace-through-faith. Touto has reference, not to faith, and certainly not to grace, but to the whole clause "by grace are you saved through faith." The fact that touto is neuter and pisteos feminine forbids faith to be the antecedent of "--that..". Many exegetes are agreed on this point, including Calvin. " (Shank, Robert Elect in the Son, p.110-111)

    A.T. Robertson, the great New Testament Greek scholar similarly noted: " 'Grace' is God's part, 'faith' ours. "And that" [it] (kai touto) is neuter, not feminine taute, and so refers not to pistis [faith] or to charis [grace] (feminine also), but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part." (AT Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 4:525)

    Norman Geisler, the famous apologist notes : "In addition, however plausible this interpretation [the Calvinistic one] may seem in English, it is very clear from the Greek that Ephesians 2:8-9 is not referring to faith as a gift from God. For the "that" (touto) is neuter in form and cannot refer to "faith" (pistis) which is feminine. The antecedent of "it is the gift of God" is the salvation by grace through faith ( v.9). " (Geisler, Chosen But Free, p.189)

    Geisler also points out that "But even John Calvin said of this text that "he does not mean that faith is the gift of God, but that salvation is given to us by God, or, that we obtain it by the gift of God." " (See Calvin, Calvin's Commentaries VOL. 11, 145) (as cited in Geisler, Chosen But Free, p.189)

    Peter:

    Thanks for you input and something I am well aware of. I did not attempt to make this (Eph 2:8, 9) argument in my post, so I am not sure why you are bringing up something that I never attempted to defend. If you wish to dismantle the idea of faith as a gift you may want to deal with the texts cited in the essay. It would have much more traction as an argument.

    Nontheless, it should be clear to that salvation itself includes the gift of faith -- man does not produce faith from his unregenerted human nature, for it is naturally hostile to God. If two hear the same gospel -- One man believing Christ and not another, it is not because one had better insight, wisdom, or was more spiritually sensitive by nature, but because of Grace and grace alone. So the argument you are making has some inconsistencises, imho. You cite Calvin as if he did not believe faith to be the gift of God, and while he may not have in this instance, he stated it elsewhere with fervor:

    Faith is the principal work of the Holy Spirit. 3.1.4. Faith is the proper and entire work of the Holy Spirit. 4.14.8. We cannot quicken faith in ourselves or predispose ourselves for it in any way>>>> “There is not in us any commencement of faith or any preparation of it.” Comm. John 6:45

    Spurgeon said: "...faith, wherever it exists, is in every case, without exception, the gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Never yet did a man believe in Jesus with the faith here intended, except the Holy Spirit led him to do so. He has wrought all our works in us, and our faith too. Faith is too celestial a grace to spring up in human nature till it is renewed: faith is in every believer "the gift of God."
    March 5th, 1871

    All this means is that the unregenerate man has no capacity in himself to pull himself out of his love for sin. The work of the Spirit is necessary to change his heart of stone to a heart of flesh that he might believe and obey. The Spirit overcomes our innate hostility. Without the Spirit man (left to himself) would never believe the gospel.

    "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." (1 Thess 1:4, 5)

    justification by faith simply protected among all the reformers a more vital, question, namely, whether sinners are wholly helpless in their sin, and whether God is to be thought of as saving them by free, unconditional, invincible grace, not only justifying them for Christ’s sake when they come to faith, but also raising them from the death of sin by His quickening Spirit in order to bring them to faith."

    Those who believe that we cooperate with God's grace, like Geisler, are making the same arguments that the Romans Catholics made against the Reformers. Synergism, what he believes, is wholly unbiblical and cause for great alarm because it severely compromises the simplicity of the gospel.


    "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." - Deuteronomy 30:5-7

    We don't develop or evolve into a new creature: it is a miracle ex nihilo.

    "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God" (1 John 5:1 )

    Yes, no problem with the Greek on this one. The verb tense make's john's intention unmistakable: Every one who goes on believing [present, continuous action] that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God [perfect, completed action with abiding effects]. " Faith is the evidence of new birth, not the cause of it. This is consistent with john's whole book (cf. 1 John 2:29, 3:9, 4:2-3, 4:7).

    What is predictable is that when the grammar does confirm that faith is a gift as does 1 John 5:1, the same persons who use grammar in an attempt to defeat Eph 2:8, 9 will do whatever they can to escape accepting 1 John 5:1 on the same terms. In fact they will do whatever they can to make sure that faith is not a gift, no matter what the Bible testifies. So it is no longer a matter of Greek but has become a matter of the heart, a heart which is entrenched in traditions rather than the text of Scripture. Doesn't it seem like a double standard that grammar is only useful to them when it serves their tradition .. so it becomes a matter of proof texting rather than believing the whole counsel of Scripture.

    You wrote, “Thanks for you input and something I am well aware of. I did not attempt to make this (Eph 2:8, 9) argument in my post, so I am not sure why you are bringing up something that I never attempted to defend. If you wish to dismantle the idea of faith as a gift you may want to deal with the texts cited in the essay. It would have much more traction as an argument.”

    There is no reason to believe that I am making an argument against your post specifically—go and read what I wrote, I merely wrote “You guys might want to take a look at this...”—that is hardly even an argument. If I wanted to argue against your post, then I would deal with the actual verses you cited and your reasonings. However, if you scroll this thread you’ll see many of the readers chatting up on it, specifically the one right above my first post, Brett, whom I was really responding to. Perhaps that resolves your mystery of why I am bringing up this verse.

    You then wrote: “Nontheless, it should be clear to that salvation itself includes the gift of faith -- man does not produce faith from his unregenerted human nature, for it is naturally hostile to God. If two hear the same gospel -- One man believing Christ and not another, it is not because one had better insight, wisdom, or was more spiritually sensitive by nature, but because of Grace and grace alone. So the argument you are making has some inconsistencises, imho. You cite Calvin as if he did not believe faith to be the gift of God, and while he may not have in this instance, he stated it elsewhere with fervor:”

    There are two points being said here in your statement. #1) Faith is a gift of God. #2) Man is Totally Depraved. I do believe that we require the Holy Spirit to enable us to freely choose. I do not believe that the Holy Spirit is coercive in this matter. In other words, in this drawing of the Holy Spirit, we can resist it (Acts 7:51). Now going back to #1, I am sorry but I am going to hold you accountable to demonstrating where in scripture is faith represented as a gift of God? You said that faith itself is included in salvation. However, what this verse is referring to is that the salvation process, the opportunity as a whole is a gift of God. Nowhere in the New Testament is the Greek neuter term of “gift” (= a present) here used in the same way concerning saving Faith. It would be wise to also note that Paul repeatedly states what is NOT OF WORKS: Romans 3:20 Romans 3:27 Romans 3:28 Romans 4:2,6 Romans 9:11 Romans 9:32 Romans 11:6 Galatians 2:16 2 Timothy 1:9 Titus 3:5. All of these include justification, salvation, calling. But it NEVER states that Faith is NOT of WORKS. Why? Because it is so obvious, or as Alford states, “irrelevant”. Therefore there is no reason to uphold that faith is a gift. Your “packaging” logic, at least is this verse, does not have sound ground in light of Paul’s other statements about works (and what are not works). Lastly, if Paul wanted faith to be represented as a gift of God, all he had to do was use the feminine pronoun (Remember, charis/grace, is feminine also). With that said, you are cornered to merely inferring with unaided logic that faith is a gift of God through your interpretations of Total Depravity.

    You stated, “You cite Calvin as if he did not believe faith to be the gift of God, and while he may not have in this instance, he stated it elsewhere with fervor”

    Keep in mind that Calvin’s writings distinguished from his Institutes to his Commentaries are oddly different. I do understand he stated it elsewhere with fervor, don’t worry. But you also state “and while he may not have (believed that faith to be a gift of God) in this instance”. I am confused, you admit that he did not believe it in THIS INSTANCE? What do you do with that? You cannot just explain it away by pointing to other instances. Both need to be dealt with. ?
    As a side note, you speak of faith as if it were some sort of substance: You wrote, “man does not PRODUCE faith from his unregenerated human nature.” This is a false conception of what faith is. Faith is a spiritual response to the Holy Spirit. Not an objectified substance. With this brings the proper implication that we “bring ourselves empty to God so that He can fill us up with his blessings” as John Calvin correctly put it in his commentary on Ephesians 2:8-9. (CCEL) [keep note here that I do agree that we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit].

    You wrote, “Faith is the principal work of the Holy Spirit. 3.1.4. Faith is the proper and entire work of the Holy Spirit. 4.14.8. We cannot quicken faith in ourselves or predispose ourselves for it in any way>>>> “There is not in us any commencement of faith or any preparation of it.” Comm. John 6:45 “

    Now how do u justify that faith is the ENTIRE work of the Holy Spirit? Please explain and show the Scriptural foundations of this statement. I believe that we do need the Holy Spirit to aid us. You’ve shown a commentary citing (which one was it) for John 6:45 which states “5It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by God.'[a] Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” You give no explanation as to how this connects with your statement.

    You wrote “Spurgeon said: "...faith, wherever it exists, is in every case, without exception, the gift of God and the work of the Holy Spirit. Never yet did a man believe in Jesus with the faith here intended, except the Holy Spirit led him to do so. He has wrought all our works in us, and our faith too. Faith is too celestial a grace to spring up in human nature till it is renewed: faith is in every believer "the gift of God."
    March 5th, 1871”

    Thanks for the Spurgeon quote. I do appreciate a lot of his writings. I do realize he is a Calvinist, but your specific quote brings no exegetical force to the issue at hand. In any case, since you bring up CH Spurgeon, here is sermon he once preached on 1 Tim 2:3-6.

    “What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which it fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they,—"that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men. "All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth….. My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself; for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture.” (CH Spurgeon “Salvation by Knowing the Truth” sermon No. 1516 at spurgeon dot org).

    I know it’s a random quote from Spurgeon that has to do with a completely different verse but I just wanted to throw it out there since Spurgeon was being mentioned. Anyways….

    You wrote “Those who believe that we cooperate with God's grace, like Geisler, are making the same arguments that the Romans Catholics made against the Reformers. Synergism, what he believes, is wholly unbiblical and cause for great alarm because it severely compromises the simplicity of the gospel. “

    Okay first of all, your point holds no force because all you did was attach the argument of synergism with Roman Catholics. Next, you just categorically state that it is wholly unbiblical and the cause of great alarm is based on a characteristic value for simplicity rather than looking to what Scripture says.
    Do not get me wrong, I believe that God is unconditionally offering salvation to all, however it is conditioned on faith. Secondly, you are right, we cannot come to Christ unless we are drawn (ekluos) (John 6:44). The question is, who is it that is drawn? Jesus states a few chapters later that when he is lifted up, he will draw (ekluos) all men to him (John 12:32).

    “13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. HAVING BELIEVED, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” (Eph 1:13)
    “ 19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deut 30:19)

    Peter

    Thanks for your post. But it is my opinion that you and your co-horts have not yet dealt with the basics of the argument from Scripture or from reason.

    you said >>>>There are two points being said here in your statement. #1) Faith is a gift of God. #2) Man is Totally Depraved. I do believe that we require the Holy Spirit to enable us to freely choose.

    Why do you believe this? If man has a free will, what need is there of the Holy Spirit? And how is it free if we need the Holy Spirit? And Free from what? Your prevenient grace itself goes against the will of natural man, so your theory, I believe, crumbles at this point. Who says natural man even wants this prevenient grace? Isn't this also against his will? This is actually itself quite coercive for it takes man away from the bondage of his nature, which he wants. And where in the Bible does it teach that the Holy Spirit draws us out of a state of total depravity into some neutral zone where we can choose or reject Him? The very fact that you cannot produce Biblical evidence for this reveals that you have traded unaided human logic for the Scripture.


    >>>>>I do not believe that the Holy Spirit is coercive in this matter. In other words, in this drawing of the Holy Spirit, we can resist it (Acts 7:51).

    Are you saying that Acts 7:51 is the extent of your exegesis that the Holy Spirit is not allowed to open our eyes, soften our heart or disarm our natural hostility? Lets look at your verse:

    "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."

    This prooftexting of yours fails precisely because we all agree that it is a fact that persons resist the Holy Spirit every time they reject the gospel. No one here claims that people come to Christ every time they hear the gospel. They will resist until the Holy Spirit comes in power (1 Thess 1:4, 5)

    Here is a Text that amply demonstrates this:

    "...we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor 1:23-24

    We preach to Jews and Greeks, both of whom reject the gospel for various reasons, according to the verse. The outward call of the gospel is rejected. YET, those who are called among Jews and Greeks, Christ the powere and wisdom of God. i.e the internal call of the Holy Spirit infallibly brings them to faith. So the text clearly demonstrates two types of call.


    Also notice in Acts 7:51 it says they are uncircumcised in heart. So are you saying that they can circumcise their own unregenerate hearts to the Lord and then believe? Such ideas are ludicrous. Here's why"

    Deuteronomy 30:5-7 says, "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live."

    If someones heart is circumcised, or regenerate, they are believers. The Lord must circumcise our hearts, so thet we will love him and desire to obey him. No one believes while their heart is still stone.

    Similarly Ezekiel 36:26 says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

    So are you claiming that a person wants to believe while their heart is still stone? The Lord makes it flesh so we will want to believe, not the other way around.


    Now going back to #1, I am sorry but I am going to hold you accountable to demonstrating where in scripture is faith represented as a gift of God?

    I have already done so in the post but you have not dealt with it.


    >>>>You said that faith itself is included in salvation. However, what this verse is referring to is that the salvation process, the opportunity as a whole is a gift of God.


    Does the verse demonstrate opportunity? This is reading into the text something that is not there. I believe it is you who must demonstrate.

    >>>>>Nowhere in the New Testament is the Greek neuter term of “gift” (= a present) here used in the same way concerning saving Faith.

    John 6:65 clearly states that no one believes the gospel unless God grants it. John 6:37 likewise states that all who God grants will believe. JOhn 6:44 likewise says that those the Father draws will believe and those same persons will be raised up tat the last day. i.e. all who God draws will be raised up in the last day.


    >>>>>>It would be wise to also note that Paul repeatedly states what is NOT OF WORKS: Romans 3:20 Romans 3:27 Romans 3:28 Romans 4:2,6 Romans 9:11 Romans 9:32 Romans 11:6 Galatians 2:16 2 Timothy 1:9 Titus 3:5. All of these include justification, salvation, calling. But it NEVER states that Faith is NOT of WORKS.

    Correct faith is not a work because it is granted of God. Once you boast of your faith apart from grace, it becomes a work. Deep down, just like other works you can pray, "thank you Lord I am not like other men who do not have faith. You gave grace to all but many did not make use of it, BUT I DID. Thank you lOrd this is the one thing I contributed to the price of my salvation." You see, your religion believes salvation is by grace PLUS faith, not by grace through faith. You think God, apart from Christ alone has an additional condition on those he loves. IN other words, in your belief God's love is conditional. If we don't meet that condition He casts us into eternal hell. It is like a parent who sees his child run out into traffic and then waits on the side of the road calling to him in the hope he will get out of the way. No, true love is like a parent who risks his own life to MAKE CERTAIN his child is not run over. He is not going to trust whether the child is wise enough to make the right decision. What kind of love does not do this? Any good parent would do so. Are you saying God's love does not get the job done? What kind of love is that?


    >>>>Why? Because it is so obvious, or as Alford states, “irrelevant”. Therefore there is no reason to uphold that faith is a gift. Your “packaging” logic.

    It is not logic, it is biblical. Your belief in the SPirit raising us to the neutral zone so we can choose is actually the uniaded logic. There is not a shred of Biblical evidence for your position. You are entrenched in your UNAIDED logic and cannot see that it is.

    at least is this verse, does not have sound ground in light of Paul’s other statements about works (and what are not works).

    Likewise, Paul thanks God for the faith of many of the churches he writes to.(Col 1:3' ;1 Thess 1:2-4; II Thess 1:3, 4) Eph. 1:15-16 How can Paul thank God for something he does not give, if he does not in fact give faith? For Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith.

    Sometimes in the Old Testament God even reveals behind the scenes how He enabled particular Jews to believe his Word when they were called to repent: In 2 Chronicles chapter 30 when couriers with a message of repentance passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, they laughed them to scorn and mocked them when they were called to repent, "Nevertheless some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD." (2 Chronicles 30:11-12)

    Are you telling us that GOD did not give them a heart to repent and believe the gospel? note that ALL whom God gave a heart to do what the preachers said, did it.


    you said >>>>>But you also state “and while he may not have (believed that faith to be a gift of God) in this instance”. I am confused, you admit that he did not believe it in THIS INSTANCE? What do you do with that? You cannot just explain it away by pointing to other instances. Both need to be dealt with. ?


    Why is this confusing? Calvin believed faith was a gift, he simply believed the Scriptures clarified this elsewhere, but did not draw this conclusion from Eph 2:8, 9. And the quotes from Calvin in my last post were from his included two from his Institutes.


    As a side note, you speak of faith as if it were some sort of substance:
    You wrote, “man does not PRODUCE faith from his unregenerated human nature.” This is a false conception of what faith is. Faith is a spiritual response to the Holy Spirit.

    "Produce" does not mean a substance. You are reading into it. I produce thoughts ... but here is no physical substance there.It is just like saying faith deos not come from our unregenerated human nature. Notice how you ducked the question. Does faith come from our unregenerated human nature? That is the question. God changes our heart of stone to a heart of flesh and gives us his Holy Spirit that we may believe. The believe is something we do in rtesponse, in this I agree, but it does not come from a heart that hates God, which, is by definition what an unregenerate heart is.


    >>>>You wrote, first quoting Calvin “Faith is the principal work of the Holy Spirit. 3.1.4. Faith is the proper and entire work of the Holy Spirit. 4.14.8. We cannot quicken faith in ourselves or predispose ourselves for it in any way>>>> “There is not in us any commencement of faith or any preparation of it.” Comm. John 6:45 “ Now how do u justify that faith is the ENTIRE work of the Holy Spirit? Please explain and show the Scriptural foundations of this statement.

    How about "The Spirit gives life, the Flesh counts for nothing...that is why I told you that no one can come to me UNLESS God grants it." In other words, no one can believe in Christ unless the Spirit of God gives life. The text is plain. And how about when Jesus says, "Apart from me you can do nothing" Nothing does not mean someting. Nothing means nothing. Lets put faith in there. Apart from me you cannot believe. Not only so but apart from me you cannot even have the humility to believe the humbling terms of the gospel. The very humility itself is a gift of grace for apart from me you can do nothing. Further, the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).

    As for the Calvin texts...These are Calvin's words which I posted to show that in his institutes he did actually believe faith to be a gift as exegeted from other passages. Christ is the author and perfector of our faith. If you say that faith arises from our unregenerated human nature then why do some respond to the gospel and not others? Are some naturally more humble and spiritually sensitive than others? No, it is grace and grace alone that makes us to differ. We can thank God for our faith because God is the one who changes our heart.

    But you cannot thank God for your faith for it is the one thing you did which was apart from his grace. You may claim the Holy Spirit helped, but ultimately WHY then do some believe and not others. It obviously is not because of grace, since all had grace, so it is something, some virtue that others do not have.

    As for equating your synergism with Roman Catholicism, the purpose is simply to make clear that your theology of salvation has very little difference from theirs, and the arguments you make are exactly the ones they made to oppose the Reformation. Where does hat leave you? Rome also believes in justificaiton by grace through faith, but like you, they believe in man's "free will" to choose one way or another -- the VERY doctrine opposed by Luther, Cavin and the rest of the Reformers. This was the central difference. All sides believed in grace. The question was is salvation by grace ALONE or grace plus something we contribute. The Reformers argumed that the Bible testified that Christ not only justified us because of our faith but quicked us that we might believe.

    Simply asked, how does an unregenrate man, darkened as he is by nature, all of the sudden see the beauty and excellency of Christ? How does he love Him if still in the bond of iniquity? Are you claiming some middle ground betwen regeneration and unregenerate people? If so please show ANY Scriptureal evidence for this.

    And even if there was a middle ground, why then does one man believe the gospel and not the other? One was more humble by nature? More spiritual? more wise?

    I say that man, before he is renewed into the new creation of the Spirit's kingdom, does and endeavours nothing to prepare himself for that new creation and kingdom, and when he is re-created has does and endeavors nothing towards his perseverance in that kingdom; but the Spirit alone works both blessings in us, regenerating us, and preserving us when regenerate, without ourselves..." Martin Luther (Bondage of the Will pg. 268)

    "...'if thou art willing' is a verb in the subjunctive mood, which asserts nothing...a conditional statement asserts nothing indicatively." "if thou art willing", "if thou hear", "if thou do" declare, not man's ability, but his duty. pg 157

    "Does it follow from: 'turn ye' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove,
    but the 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power...But it does not follow from this that man is converted by his own power, nor do the words say so; they simply say: "if thou wilt turn,
    telling man what he should do. When he knows it, and sees that he cannot do it, he will ask whence he may find ability to do it..." 164

    To those who claimed that effectual grace was resistible, and who make faith into a work, Spurgeon said the following:

    "Oh!" saith the Arminian, "men may be saved if they will." We reply, "My dear sir, we all believe that; but it is just the if they will that is the difficulty. We assert that no man will come to Christ unless he be drawn; nay, we do not assert it, but Christ himself declares it--"Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;' and as long as that "ye will not come' stands on record in Holy Scripture, we shall not be brought to believe in any doctrine of the freedom of the human will." It is strange how people, when talking about free-will, talk of things which they do not at all understand. "Now," says one, "I believe men can be saved if they will." My dear sir, that is not the question at all. The question is, are men ever found naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ? We declare, upon Scriptural authority, that the human will is so desperately set on mischief, so depraved, and so inclined to everything that is evil, and so disinclined to everything that is good, that without the powerful. supernatural, irresistible influence of the Holy Spirit, no human will ever be constrained towards Christ.

    Peter:

    Isn;t it apparent to you that any claim to have faith apart from Christ's granting you the neww heart and desire for it is boasting? IN this way you are claiming that your faith is entirely your own apart from grace. That God deserves no glory for it and all the glory is all yours, since you have it and other do not. but why? Why do you have faith and not others? Are you more virtuous?

    Give glory to God Peter and acknowledge that all that you have, inclusing your desire for faith itself is a working of God's grace in your heart. You are kicking against the goads. Scripture is plain about this. The kind of faith the Bible speaks of leave no room for boasting.

    Charles Spurgeon once said, "We hold that man is never so near grace as when he begins to feel he can do nothing at all. When he says, 'I can pray, I can believe, I can do this, and I can do the other,' marks of self-sufficiency and arrogance are on his brow."
    - C. H. Spurgeon

    JOHN:
    Thanks for your reply. I have replied with great time and effort so I hope that you would pay me the fair hearing to reply once more, despite its lengthiness, and address each point within this post.
    You wrote, “Thanks for your post. But it is my opinion that you and your co-horts have not yet dealt with the basics of the argument from Scripture or from reason.”
    I would be a little careful calling others who disagree with you as MY co-horts. I don’t know anybody else here on this blog and I do not know their views. You should treat each of us individually, just as I treat you individually from other Calvinists I meet, giving you the benefit of the doubt, and being critical to your specific individual view.

    You quoted and responded, “you said >>>>There are two points being said here in your statement. #1) Faith is a gift of God. #2) Man is Totally Depraved. I do believe that we require the Holy Spirit to enable us to freely choose. (END MY QUOTE) +++++++(BEGIN YOUR QUOTE) Why do you believe this? If man has a free will, what need is there of the Holy Spirit? And how is it free if we need the Holy Spirit? And Free from what? Your prevenient grace itself goes against the will of natural man, so your theory, I believe, crumbles at this point. Who says natural man even wants this prevenient grace? Isn't this also against his will? This is actually itself quite coercive for it takes man away from the bondage of his nature, which he wants. And where in the Bible does it teach that the Holy Spirit draws us out of a state of total depravity into some neutral zone where we can choose or reject Him? The very fact that you cannot produce Biblical evidence for this reveals that you have traded unaided human logic for the Scripture.”
    The Holy Spirit is needed because we would not turn to him in the way that God wants us to turn to him. Yes we have the free will to obey laws. However, we do not have the moral and spiritual capacity to believe on Christ. This is the Biblical Depravity, as opposed to the Calvinistic extreme which you require to infer that faith is a gift of God.
    Furthermore, you ask a few questions about man wanting/not-wanting the grace and about free-will. What those answers are, I’m not sure, because I’m not sure what your point is to begin with. I would rather focus on Scripture. Remember, lets not inference and philosophize things in order to figure out a system that deals with the things going on BEHIND the text. You are also hasty to say that I cannot produce Biblical evidence. I would point to the verse that you so happily dealt with in your post, John 6:44. Now your interpretation believes that if you are DRAWN then you WILL COME. This does not logically hold up. Because of the way the statement is written. It is an "unless" statement. You are thinking as if the two sides of the statement are switched or switchable. No one can X, unless Y is not the same thing as No one can Y, unless X. In the first statement, If you have X then you must have Y. But if you have Y, that doesnt mean you necessarily have X. In the second statement, If you have Y then you must have X, but if you have X, that doesnt mean you necessarily have Y. No one can board the plane, unless given a ticket. If I board the plane, that means I was definitely given a ticket. If I am given a ticket, that doesnt definitely mean I boarded the plane. See how that works? I think what you are also reading into the text is that once you are given a ticket, then you will irresistably want to go on the plane/vacation/whatever. However, the statement alone and its proper logical reading does not give you the prooftext that you are searching for. Especially in light of John 12:32 where Jesus states that he will draw ALL. But of course, not all Come to him. “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you and we have given you only what comes from your hand” (1 Chron. 29:14) Here we find that all things that are deemed good are cooperative works with the Holy Spirit. There are two agents involved, God’s hand and our response, “we”. Therefore, we have no grounds to boast. Why? Because it is clear that we fall short without God’s working in us. “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) There are two agents involved in this. Not the kind of passiveness of man which you seek in these verses. “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12-13). Again, two agents at work here. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9). We must uphold the cooperative agency involved in these passages. To disregard man’s agency and singularly focusing on God’s sufficiency, strength, and power, is pious, yet inadequate analysis of truth. I am still awaiting your “Faith is a gift of God” verse—not inferences. Furthermore, I would like to hear what you think about the said verses.


    You wrote “ You wrote>>>>>I do not believe that the Holy Spirit is coercive in this matter. In other words, in this drawing of the Holy Spirit, we can resist it (Acts 7:51). Are you saying that Acts 7:51 is the extent of your exegesis that the Holy Spirit is not allowed to open our eyes, soften our heart or disarm our natural hostility?”

    Are you saying that because I have given you ONE verse that somehow quota quantities require Biblical truth? Interesting how you cannot produce a single text that shows faith to be a gift of God and yet you bring up this issue. Instead, you produce Ephesians 2:8 which still seeks an explanation in light of the Greek that I mentioned in my previous post—which you mysteriously said nothing about. Notice you continue to camp on other verses in order to inference that idea. Now to further respond to what you just stated. Let us look at Calvins Commentary on this verse. “And those are said to resist the Spirit who reject 1 him when he speaketh in the prophets.” Calvin goes onto write: “You, saith he, are like to your fathers, who have always rebelled against the Spirit of God.” It is NOT that the Holy Spirit is not ALLOWED to open our eyes. I am stating that the Holy Spirit is not coercive. You are importing that word, ALLOWED, which does not relate to my comments. Perhaps you heard someone else argue that to you and would rather feel more comfortable working with their argument. However, that is not mine so the justification for this is still awaiting. Please respond.


    You also stated ““This prooftexting of yours fails precisely because we all agree that it is a fact that persons resist the Holy Spirit every time they reject the gospel. No one here claims that people come to Christ every time they hear the gospel. They will resist until the Holy Spirit comes in power (1 Thess 1:4, 5)”
    I am glad that you agree that persons resist the Holy Spirit every time they reject the gospel. However, you are ducking the issue or at least wanting to vaguely state your point in obscurity. Is the Holy Spirit irresistible from your standpoint? Then what is your exact reasoning for how the Holy Spirit works? Is it KIND OF TRYING sometimes, and then it later REALLY TRIES? You go onto write:
    You have just listed three statements, but that is all there is. Statements with no explanation. Your first sentence is a non-sequitur unless defended in light of the opposing belief that the Holy Spirit is resistable. Further clarification is necessary.

    You wrote, “Here is a Text that amply demonstrates this:
    "...we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." 1 Cor 1:23-24 We preach to Jews and Greeks, both of whom reject the gospel for various reasons, according to the verse. The outward call of the gospel is rejected. YET, those who are called among Jews and Greeks, Christ the powere and wisdom of God. i.e the internal call of the Holy Spirit infallibly brings them to faith. So the text clearly demonstrates two types of call. “
    Here is the FULLER context:
    22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
    Given the full context, and I suggest you go back and read the entire section, it is very clear that it is showing that Jews and Greeks were expecting something different. Christ is now a stumbling block, because previously, it was promise to the Jews through blood lineage and Greeks were expecting pure wisdom, philosophy, scholarship etc. But now, Christ is a stumbling block because having faith in him is what matters. I am sorry, but where in this text does it “amply demonstrate” anything about the Holy Spirit being irresistible? Neither does this text demonstrate two types of calls. If what you are referring to as the “two” is the “power of God” and the “wisdom of God” you mischaracterizing the sentence. It says “AND” between the two, which is given to those who are called through faith in the stumbling block which is Christ. Just look at two verses before this in 21 “21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” Please explain your stance on this position on this and the points I have mentioned


    You wrote, “Also notice in Acts 7:51 it says they are uncircumcised in heart. So are you saying that they can circumcise their own unregenerate hearts to the Lord and then believe? Such ideas are ludicrous. Here's why"
    No I am not saying that, therefore you don’t have to explain “Here’s why”. Please explain how you picked that up from my statement? Are you again anticipating and inferencing my position? How does the fact that it says they are uncircumcised in heart equate to me thinking that we can circumcise our own unregenerate hearts? Circumcision of the heart here is equating to regeneration. Since regeneration comes through faith which is the positive response to the drawing of the Holy Spirit (which is required), it is obvious that those who resist the Holy Spirit would still have uncircumcised hearts. You are pulling arguments out of nowhere and then responding to them. But so that I can help you out, it is essential to realize that the Holy Spirit draws us, and in a positive response to this drawing do we come. Only then are we sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit. For this reason, Believing/Faith precedes regeneration. This is clearly and succinctly stated when Ephesians 1:13 writes: “13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. HAVING BELIEVED, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” (Eph 1:13) Please let me know what you were talking about with all this uncircumcision business.

    You wrote, “No one believes while their heart is still stone.”
    Precisely! Which is why we need the drawing of the Holy Spirit. No disagreement there. But to say that the Holy Spirit goes ahead and regenerates us SO THAT we can believe, is to go against Eph 1:13 as stated above. Please respond or concede on this issue.

    You wrote, So are you claiming that a person wants to believe while their heart is still stone?
    Once again, NO. Where are you getting these statements from? I cannot find them in my previous response, are you inferencing again? Please respond or concede on this issue.


    You wrote, “I have already done so in the post but you have not dealt with it.”
    No, you have made inferences using John 6:44 which does not even mention faith. And have not dealt with the Greek mentioned in my previous post.

    You wrote “Does the verse demonstrate opportunity? This is reading into the text something that is not there. I believe it is you who must demonstrate.
    Yes it is demonstrating opportunity. Especially in light of John 12:32. Why? Because in contrast to your interpretation which believes that if you are DRAWN then you WILL COME. This does not logically hold up. Because of the way the statement is written. It is an "unless" statement. You are thinking as if the two sides of the statement are switched or switchable. No one can X, unless Y is not the same thing as No one can Y, unless X. In the first statement, If you have X then you must have Y. But if you have Y, that doesnt mean you necessarily have X. In the second statement, If you have Y then you must have X, but if you have X, that doesnt mean you necessarily have Y. No one can board the plane, unless given a ticket. If I board the plane, that means I was definitely given a ticket. If I am given a ticket, that doesnt definitely mean I boarded the plane. See how that works? I think what you are also reading into the text is that once you are given a ticket, then you will irresistably want to go on the plane/vacation/whatever. However, the statement alone and its proper logical reading does not give you the prooftext that you are searching for.

    You quoted and wrote “You wrote>>>>>Nowhere in the New Testament is the Greek neuter term of “gift” (= a present) here used in the same way concerning saving Faith.” “John 6:65 clearly states that no one believes the gospel unless God grants it. John 6:37 likewise states that all who God grants will believe. JOhn 6:44 likewise says that those the Father draws will believe and those same persons will be raised up tat the last day. i.e. all who God draws will be raised up in the last day.”
    WHO are the ones that the Father giveth? You seem to be leaving out the answer to this question. What is the Fathers will? We must put these verses together. Jesus is making a logical progression here and we should take full context. In light of all the surrounding verses you mentioned. You are eager to leave out verse 40. “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” That will, which the Father desires to giveth to his Son, Jesus Christ, is the answer to WHO are the ones that will come. Why? Because, as verse 40 mentions, they believe. Please re-read the text without brushing off verse 40.
    Furthermore, your answer does not deal with the Greek exegesis that I was talking about. The word and meaning of gift used in Ephesians 2:8 is not found in any of the verses you mentioned. Go back and read my statement carefully. And so, the point of what I was saying was that the Bible DOES use this word in reference to SALVATION, NOT FAITH, as is the tendency for Paul. Therefore, it is unmistakeable from the Greek that it is referring to salvation in Eph 2:8 as shown in Paul’s writings.


    You wrote, “Correct faith is not a work because it is granted of God. Once you boast of your faith apart from grace, it becomes a work. Deep down, just like other works you can pray, "thank you Lord I am not like other men who do not have faith. You gave grace to all but many did not make use of it, BUT I DID. Thank you lOrd this is the one thing I contributed to the price of my salvation." You see, your religion believes salvation is by grace PLUS faith, not by grace through faith. You think God, apart from Christ alone has an additional condition on those he loves. IN other words, in your belief God's love is conditional. If we don't meet that condition He casts us into eternal hell. It is like a parent who sees his child run out into traffic and then waits on the side of the road calling to him in the hope he will get out of the way. No, true love is like a parent who risks his own life to MAKE CERTAIN his child is not run over. He is not going to trust whether the child is wise enough to make the right decision. What kind of love does not do this? Any good parent would do so. Are you saying God's love does not get the job done? What kind of love is that?”
    Do you know what logical necessitation means? Here, you are imputing man’s capacity to boast. Which runs true about everything. In the same sense, a Calvinist could say “Thank you Lord for choosing me, for whatever the reason (even if it is for no reason), I am now better than my fellow atheist because I am chosen by your free grace, just as a homeless person who was freely given a billion dollars and a mansion would now boast towards his not-so-lucky fellow homeless friends.” I certainly do not believe that Calvinists would be right in thinking this. And I DO NOT think that logic necessitates for Calvinists to do this. Could you explain to me what it is about my view that logically NECESSITATES that I boast in the way you described? My faith is impotent, had the offer of salvation never been given. Therefore, I still have no reason to boast! It is unconditional on God’s part, offered to all, but conditional on our part through Faith as shown in numerous verses, such as Ephesians 2:8-9.


    You wrote, “It is not logic, it is biblical. Your belief in the SPirit raising us to the neutral zone so we can choose is actually the uniaded logic. There is not a shred of Biblical evidence for your position. You are entrenched in your UNAIDED logic and cannot see that it is…..”
    See above section dealing with your response to Acts 7:51
    You wrote, “Are you telling us that GOD did not give them a heart to repent and believe the gospel?”
    WGT Shedd, who is a famous Calvinistic writer states succinctly, “If the sinner voluntarily rejects the offered mercy of God, he is culpable for [it]…Man is responsible for sin because he is both the author and the actor of it; but he is not responsible for holiness, because he is only the actor and NOT the author…” (Dogmatic Theology 3:298-299). Just as Hebrews 12:2 states that he is both the AUTHOR and the PERFECTOR of our faith. Therefore, we can see that God WAS the author of their changed hearts. However, to willingly disregard the dual agency shown in the many verses which I stated earlier is a willful blindness for half-sentences. For example “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5) Surely, we have only given him what comes from his hands (1 Chron 29:14).


    As a side note, you speak of faith as if it were some sort of substance:
    You wrote, “man does not PRODUCE faith from his unregenerated human nature.” This is a false conception of what faith is. Faith is a spiritual response to the Holy Spirit.
    "Produce" does not mean a substance. You are reading into it. I produce thoughts ... but here is no physical substance there.It is just like saying faith deos not come from our unregenerated human nature. Notice how you ducked the question. Does faith come from our unregenerated human nature? That is the question. God changes our heart of stone to a heart of flesh and gives us his Holy Spirit that we may believe. The believe is something we do in rtesponse, in this I agree, but it does not come from a heart that hates God, which, is by definition what an unregenerate heart is.
    I never said of a physical substance. But rather some sort of objectified substance. Rather than a response. Notice that you are reading into what my statement was in order to extremify it and throw it aside. Further evidence of your misconception of it being some sort of objectified substance is when you wrote “To claim we can have faith SPRINGING OUT of our fallen natures is to make faith into a work.” Notice also that I am not ducking the question, because THIS section of my post had no intention or purpose in answering your question. I answered your question elsewhere. Notice also that you ducked my question for showing in scripture that faith is a gift of God and said absolutely nothing in response to the Greek analysis. Furthermore, you would recognize that that I pointed out 2 different variations as to the Greek analysis within 4 citations. So I assume that you are categorically brushing away my analysis. Your actual post dealt with philosophizing about free will, using unaided and unnecessitated logic for inferencing from John 6, rather than an actual verse that shows that faith is a gift. If it was, I am sure it would be important to Paul to clearly and easily state it by the feminization of the pronoun, or simply stating it elsewhere. Yet you seem to be making it a mysterious and analytical effort to inference, what would be, such an important concept. Keep in mind that the section I wrote about was qualified with a “As a side note” at the beginning of it. Therefore, it is obvious that I did not duck the question, because it was referencing….a side note.


    YOU WROTE:
    >>>>You wrote, first quoting Calvin “Faith is the principal work of the Holy Spirit. 3.1.4. Faith is the proper and entire work of the Holy Spirit. 4.14.8. We cannot quicken faith in ourselves or predispose ourselves for it in any way>>>> “There is not in us any commencement of faith or any preparation of it.” Comm. John 6:45 “ ME>>>>>Now how do u justify that faith is the ENTIRE work of the Holy Spirit? Please explain and show the Scriptural foundations of this statement.
    JOHN>>>>How about "The Spirit gives life, the Flesh counts for nothing...that is why I told you that no one can come to me UNLESS God grants it." In other words, no one can believe in Christ unless the Spirit of God gives life. The text is plain. And how about when Jesus says, "Apart from me you can do nothing" Nothing does not mean someting. Nothing means nothing. Lets put faith in there. Apart from me you cannot believe. Not only so but apart from me you cannot even have the humility to believe the humbling terms of the gospel. The very humility itself is a gift of grace for apart from me you can do nothing. Further, the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10).
    First and foremost, I clearly stated that we need the Holy Spirit. I cannot stress this enough! Perhaps IF I didn’t believe that we needed the Holy Spirit then your job would be easier. I apologize my fellow debator but I do not believe it, so I apologize for making your analysis a bit more difficult---and ultimately this section moot.
    Secondly, you wrote that the FLESH counts for nothing. I totally agree, but we are talking about faith here. The flesh is referring to works, or acts done without the Holy Spirit—not faith and since I believe that we need the Holy Spirit, your explanation does not conflict or even address my point.


    You wrote, “But you cannot thank God for your faith for it is the one thing you did which was apart from his grace. You may claim the Holy Spirit helped, but ultimately WHY then do some believe and not others. It obviously is not because of grace, since all had grace, so it is something, some virtue that others do not have. “
    First, I do not think my faith was something that was done apart from his grace. Faith comes from Hearing, and Hearing from the Word of God. It is by grace that the Word became flesh so that we could come out of darkness. FURTHERMORE, at an even more personal individual level I state that the Holy Spirit is necessary in this drawing for anyone to come (John 6:44). The Bible states that “for who knows the hearts of men?” It is not for me to psycho-spiritually analyze men to determine why some believe and other don’t—only God knows. The fact that you purport that it is unconditionally elected by the hand of God, through disregarding the other halfs of sentences throughout the OT and NT, does not make your case stronger. Argumentum ad ignoratum.

    You wrote: “And even if there was a middle ground, why then does one man believe the gospel and not the other? One was more humble by nature? More spiritual? more wise?”
    Argumentum ad ignoratum. However, to throw the question in your ball park. Why was Bob chosen, but not Joe? The correct answer would be that “we do not know God’s decisions, nor have any reason to try to justify them”—this is not too far off from what I wrote in the above section.


    I will end with a C.H. Spurgeon quote in light of this last statement and question you have posed:

    “Men who are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed,--A CREED WHICH WILL PUT TOGETHER AND FORM A SQUARE LIKE A CHINESE PUZZLE,--are very apt to narrow their souls. Those who will only believe what they can reconcile will necessarily disbelieve much of divine revelation. Those who receive by faith anything which they find in the Bible will receive two things, twenty things, ay, or twenty thousand things, though they cannot construct a theory which harmonises them all” (Spurgeon, “Faith,” Sword and Trowel, 1872).


    Let us be humble, respectful, irenic, and open to our fellow brothers in Christ as we take on this debate. Thank you. (That is IF you consider me a fellow brother is Christ despite my Non-Calvinism. That might be a whole different topic)

    >>>>>The Holy Spirit is needed because we would not turn to him in the way that God wants us to turn to him. Yes we have the free will to obey laws. However, we do not have the moral and spiritual capacity to believe on Christ. This is the Biblical Depravity, as opposed to the Calvinistic extreme which you require to infer that faith is a gift of God.


    Why the need to continually use ad hoiminem arguments that my quoting of the Bible is based on some "Calvinistic extreme". Does this help your argument to call my position extremist? Being irenic is good so you should take your own advice.

    OK to respond to the above, those in the Augustinian tradition likewise believe that biblical depravity means that man does not have the moral and spiritual capacity to believe on Christ. What is this Calvinistic extreme you refer to?

    At the samer time We all affirm that fallen, unregenerate human beings are endowed with many of God's common graces. God has blessed all men with a conscience and the capacity to promote virtue and civil righteousness. It is abundantly clear that many beautiful aspects of the world we live in have been brought forth by those which are unredeemed by God's regenerative grace. God has gifted natural men and women with the skill to create beautiful music, make profound works of art, to invent intricate machines and do countless things that are productive, excellent and praiseworthy.

    But While man's many good works, even though in accord with God's commands, are not well pleasing to God when weighed against His ultimate criteria and standard of perfection. The love of God and His law is not the unbelievers' deepest animating motive and principle (nor is it his motive at all), so it does not earn him the right to redemptive blessings from a holy God. The Scripture clearly implies this when it states "...without faith it is impossible to please Him." (Hebrews 11:6a, NASB) and "whatever is not from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23) So if man is restrained from performing more evil acts by motives that are not owing to his glad submission to God, then even his "virtue" is evil in the sight of God.

    So I am confused by your statement that "we have a free will to obey the law". Which law can an unbeliever obey? Are you claiming that the love of God animates some unbelievers' to actually obey from a willing heart? Does unregenrate man obey any of God's commands with this kind of perfection? No. And we must not forget that the command of God is this, to belive in his SOn Jesus Christ.


    >>>>>Remember, lets not inference and philosophize things in order to figure out a system that deals with the things going on BEHIND the text.

    I couldn't agree more. Geisler's ideas are mostly based on philosphy so I am glad you wish to get away from it.

    you said >>>>>John 6:44. Now your interpretation believes that if you are DRAWN then you WILL COME. This does not logically hold up. Because of the way the statement is written. It is an "unless" statement. I think what you are also reading into the text is that once you are given a ticket, then you will irresistably want to go on the plane/vacation/whatever. However, the statement alone and its proper logical reading does not give you the prooftext that you are searching for.


    Actually it does. You are not looking at it closely enough. It not only says that no one can come unless God draw him BUT IT ALSO SAYS THAT THESE SAME PERSONS WILL BE RAISED UP AT THE LAST DAY. So the ones who God draws will be raise up. See the article Logic and John 6:44
    http://www.geocities.com/elenctictheology/John-644.pdf

    Not only so Peter by the surrounding text actually gives a clear syllogism which fully supports my interpretation.

    John 6:37 states that all that the father gives to Him will come to him and athose who come he will not cast out. IN other words, all that the father gives to Christ will believe on him, and none of those will be cast out. Furthermore verse 65 states that no one can come unless God grants it.

    So taken together these texts are a clear syllogism that only someone who does not want to see will blind themselves to.

    Look at the text. No one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it (John 6:65) all those who God grants to the Son will believe and will not be cast out (John 6:37)

    Thios alone dismantles your entire argument. So I see no need to go further. Your exegeiss has been shown to be found wanting.


    >>>>>There are two agents involved, God’s hand and our response, “we”. Therefore, we have no grounds to boast. Why? Because it is clear that we fall short without God’s working in us.

    What does God's grace actually do for you? You have not shown any Scripture. If he makes it so we have free choice, show where in the Bible it teaches this? You have failed to do so. And you still have grounds to boast over another who did not have faith. Why you and not him?


    you said >>>>>Not the kind of passiveness of man which you seek in these verses. “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2:12-13).

    Are you claiming this text is directed at unbelievers? Because this is what we are talking about. Look at the context Peter. This text is for those who are already believers. Therefore you entire point has been debunked.


    you said >>>> Again, two agents at work here. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor. 12:9).


    Again Paul is a believer who has the Holy Spirit already indwelling him. Your argument fails. Total depravity refers to persons who do not have the Holy Spirit. Of course, after people are united to Christ they, now animated with new life, will have new desires which spring up where we will want to obey God. Would you tell any of these texts to an unbeliever. Would you say to him before telling him he needs Christ????? You need to re-think your entre philosophy.

    Under any offical debate you would have been declared the loser here. You are using texts written to believers and applying them to unbelievers.


    you said >>>>Is the Holy Spirit irresistible from your standpoint?

    The doctrine of irresistible grace does not mean that every influence of the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted. It means that the Holy Spirit can overcome all resistance and make his influence irresistible according to His good pleasure. God is sovereign and can overcome all resistance when he wills. "He does according to his will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand!" (Daniel 4:35). This is what Paul taught in Romans 9:14-18, which caused his opponent to say, "Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" To which Paul answers: "Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me thus?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?" (Romans 9:20). More specifically irresistible grace refers to the sovereign work of God to overcome the rebellion of our heart and bring us to faith in Christ so that we can be saved.

    You say something like "Yes, the Holy Spirit must draw us to God, but we can use our freedom to resist or accept that drawing." Our answer is: except for the continual exertion of saving grace, we will always use our freedom to resist God. If a person becomes humble enough to submit to God it is because God has given that person a new, humble nature.

    2 Timothy 2:24-25 says, "The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to every one, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth."

    "...these whom He [God] called, He also justified" (ROm 8:30). It is plain that this means "all who were called (without exception), were also justified." We all, at some point, resist the outward call of the gospel and various movements of the Spirit, but when God sovereignly determines to dispense His grace on His people, we undergo restoration, our natural hostility is melted away and we no longer desire to put up resistance. The inward call of the Spirit infallibly brings us to faith in the Redeemer as this text plainly states. To fail to see that in the text is to continue to entrench yourself in tradition, rather than Scripture.

    1 Corinthians 1:23-24 says, "We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jew and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." Notice the two kinds of "calls" implied in this text. the preaching of Paul goes out to all, both Jews and Greeks. This is the general call of the gospel. It offers salvation to all who will believe on the crucified Christ. But by and large it falls on unreceptive ears and is called foolishness.in Acts 16:14, where Lydia is listening to the preaching of Paul. Luke says, "The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul." Unless God opens our hearts, we will not heed the message of the gospel. This heart-opening is what we mean by irresistible grace.

    Regarding your comments, I suggest that you actually look at the context. Your interpretation is fallacious.

    >>>>>Is it KIND OF TRYING sometimes, and then it later REALLY TRIES?

    The Holy Spirit is not obligated to save anyone. He comes and convicts of sin continually shows that people are disobeying God's law. In fact, Romans teaches that all men know God. "Although they knew God they did not..." Some know him as an enemy. The Holy Spirit is not trying to save all men as synergists, such as yourself believe. Your belief contradicts itself.

    Unless you are an open theist, you believe that God has exhaustive foreknowledge of world history from beginning to end. That means before God created people, in your view, God already knows all who will be saved and all who will resists. Tell me now seriously, if God already knows who will believe and who will not, how can you claim he is trying to save every man?. This contradiction is fatal. Is the Holy Spirit trying to save every man, even though He already knows with certaintly they will not come? It would be a "waste of time" for him to do something that was an impossible supposition. That is why open thesists have abandoned traditional Arminianism/synergism.

    >>>>>>How does the fact that it says they are uncircumcised in heart equate to me thinking that we can circumcise our own unregenerate hearts?

    Very easy. Because you believe that we can believe the gospel without being regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This was something already made fully clear. I am not inferencing anything. You believe that regeneration comes as the result of faith, not the cause of it. And you even say so in your new post. You believe that a person with an uncircumcised heart can actually see goodness in Christ and believe on Him. You have it backwards.

    >>>>>HAVING BELIEVED, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” (Eph 1:13)You wrote, “No one believes while their heart is still stone.” Precisely! Which is why we need the drawing of the Holy Spirit. No disagreement there. But to say that the Holy Spirit goes ahead and regenerates us SO THAT we can believe, is to go against Eph 1:13 as stated above. Please respond or concede on this issue.

    Indeed, but again, what about context? which says that God In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved...." Freely means without condsitions. We all affirm that the Holy Spirit seals our justification when we believe. That is not the question. By making this statement you contradict yourself. One the one hand you want to exclude any work of the Spirit in unbelievers prior to faith and this assumes way too much. Next you say that we need to be drawn by the same Holy Spirit. DOes the Holy Spirit do other work in our hearts just prior to sealing? Is sealing the Spirit's only work? Or does His application of Christ's redemption include many redemptive blessings including some just prior to sealing? The bible says He does. So your quoting Eph 1:13 has no bearing on the conversation.


    >>>>>>You wrote, “I have already done so in the post but you have not dealt with it.” No, you have made inferences using John 6:44 which does not even mention faith.

    I find it interesting that you keep going to John 6:44 and continue to avoid the main texts I dealt with in the post which were ^;37, 39 and 63-65 which do clearly and unambiguously speak of the faith of the individual as being invincibly granted by God.


    >>>>>Yes it is demonstrating opportunity. Especially in light of John 12:32. Why? Because in contrast to your interpretation which believes that if you are DRAWN then you WILL COME.

    JOhn 6:37 says does say that ALL, not some, but all that the Father gives to Christ will believe on Him. This is the immediate context of the verse in question. You pointing to some other context is desperate especially in light of the fact that the immediate context makes in plain as day. Your avoiding the full cousel of Scripture is something you should seriously pray about.

    >>>>>>Do you know what logical necessitation means? Here, you are imputing man’s capacity to boast. Which runs true about everything. In the same sense, a Calvinist could say “Thank you Lord for choosing me, for whatever the reason (even if it is for no reason),

    Incorrect. If I thank God for choosing me, although I justly deserve his wrath save in Christ's mercy alone means we believe salvation is by grace alone. This leave no room for boasting whatsoever. You believe that you have something over your fellow man because you did something pleasing to God and therefore He saved you. Your argument has broken down to suych a degree that I wonder if you sense that you are kicking against the goads.

    >>>>>First, I do not think my faith was something that was done apart from his grace.

    Yes you do. I will show you how you are doing this right now. Two persons have grace when they hear the gospel. One believes the other rejects. What makes the two persons to differ? Grace, no because both had grace. So it was something entirely seperate from grace that gave you reason to believe and not the other. In other words, In your theology faith has its source apart form grace altogether.

    >>>>>It is not for me to psycho-spiritually analyze men to determine why some believe and other don’t—only God knows.

    The Bible itself speaks of this. It does not take psychology. It is a very simple question. Jesus tell certain Jews that the reason they do not believe is because they are not of God, but rather are offspring of the devil

    Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. 44"You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
    45"But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.46"Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?
    47"He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God."

    In John 8 Jesus says something similar:

    26"But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.

    27"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

    Their core nature and identity gives rise to who they are and the choices they make. As long as a person remains unregenerate he will not believe the gospel.

    Brother, it is not about being anxious to fit things together like a puzzle, it is about being Biblical. To the degree that we misreprsent God to that same degree we commit idolatry.

    Peter, I have a very busy jonb and =have already taken too much time to chat with you. I thank you for posting but I will not be able to respond more to this item. Thanks for understanding.


    Here is a more related quote to our conversation from Spurgeon

    "What the Arminian wants to do is to arouse man's activity: what we want to do is to kill it once for all---to show him that he is lost and ruined, and that his activities are not now at all equal to the work of conversion; that he must look upward. They seek to make the man stand up: we seek to bring him down, and make him feel that there he lies in the hand of God, and that his business is to submit himself to God, and cry aloud, 'Lord, save, or we perish.' We hold that man is never so near grace as when he begins to feel he can do nothing at all. When he says, 'I can pray, I can believe, I can do this, and I can do the other,' marks of self-sufficiency and arrogance are on his brow."
    - C. H. Spurgeon

    Well then thank you for your time. I understand your position as this is not my first time debating this issue on a blog--so I understand how nearly all debates like these end up. And yes, I have a busy job as well. To clarify, to identify something as a "Calvinistic extreme" is not an ad hominem attack but rather a descriptive term used to gauge the speaker's perspective of the divergence of one point from a standard. That is how I was using the word "Extreme". This is apparent in the explanation of this divergence in the context that it was stated ("Biblical Depravity"). I am sorry if you misinterpreted in another way. However, it is no less irenic than imputing upon me:
    "But you cannot thank God for your faith for it is the one thing you did which was apart from his grace. You may claim the Holy Spirit helped, but ultimately WHY then do some believe and not others. It obviously is not because of grace, since all had grace, so it is something, some virtue that others do not have."

    In any case, thanks for your time and I hope anyone who comes upon this post takes the time to read both our discussions.

    Peter

    Peter you said >>>>To clarify, to identify something as a "Calvinistic extreme" is not an ad hominem attack but rather a descriptive term used to gauge the speaker's perspective of the divergence of one point from a standard.

    Who's standard? Norm Geisler's? My position is the historic Protestant position that is believed on by Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, CH Spurgeon and many in-between. There is nothing "extreme" about it from a historic perspective.

    Again, the post itself, if you read it, showed how Jesus himself teaches a syllogism that faith itself is the gift of God. John 6:65 where no one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it. (If God grants belief then someone believes. It is not granting a mere oppostunity). and then to square out the syllogism John 6:37 teaches that all those the father give to the son will believe, without exception. This fully answers your objection. Fully.

    In other words. All no one believes unless God grants it and all to whom God grants will believe. Jesus himself teaches this unambiguously.

    Lastly, why one man believes the gospel and not another is not about psychology, rejection is all about sin. To believe is either because of grace alone, or because of some other reason/virtue that some people have by nature and not others. That is the only reasonable consequence of your synergist vieww of the unregenerate man coming to Christ without a work a grace having been done in his heart.. As Christians we boast in the cross of Christ alone, not in some additional thing we did, such as the addiion of our faith, as you acknowledget for yourself in your previous post. you said none of us can avoid it. But we either boast in Christ or we boast in Christ PLUS...this or that. Christ's redemption saves us fully.

    You say you have debated this before but the entire time you avoided the explicit statements of Jesus that faith is granted by God Himself in John 6:65 & 37 when these passages were the very ones that my short essay was originally about which generated this frenzy of posts.. Quite puzzling.

    I bid you well.

    Quote from Calvin:
    God indeed favours none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and . . . by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after His image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why He should not grant the reprobate also some taste of His grace, why He should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of His light, why He should not give them some perception of His goodness, and in some sort engrave His word on their hearts. Otherwise where would be the temporary faith mentioned in Mark iv. 17? There is therefore some knowledge even in the reprobate, which afterwards vanishes away, either because it did not strike roots sufficiently deep, or because it withers, being choked up.And by this bridle the Lord keeps us in fear and humility; and we certainly see how prone human nature is otherwise to security and foolish confidence.
    - John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistle to the Hebrews at 6.5


    Just the musings of a believer in God's grace whereby he saves men apart from their will but rather according to his will from before the foundations of the earth. This is not directed to anyone in general or specific but to any and all who will read what I have written.

    First off, I will state that for many years I was a believer and defender of free will. This, simply by default for it is all I was taught. But about 6 years ago God's Holy Spirit opened my clouded eyes to see grace in the Scriptures like I had never before seen. Yet not only grace, but also the exceeding sinfulness of sin in mankind (and more importantly myself). And now, I am solidly a believer and preacher of God's grace in saving sinners dead in trespasses and sins whereby He quickens the dead to life per His will just as he did for Lazarus. For I not only see it clearly in Scripture, but I see it that much more clearly in my own conversion and walk on this narrow way.

    For I was a sinner who, before grace came, reveled in sin. I loved sin and testify that I did evil and hated the light and did not desire to come to the light lest my wicked lifestyle would be exposed. For I hid for many years under the guise of religion (papal rome) through my conformity to its external rituals and ceremonies. Likewise, I hid under the pretense of being a "good" little boy, and later on as I grew, as a "nice" young man. Oh the hypocrisy for I was indeed a white-washed sepulchre filled inside with all manner of dead man's bones and I stank!

    For I testify for all that sin was oh so pleasurable for the season that I wallowed in its mire like a fattened sow on a hot summer day. Daily eating my own vomit and thinking that this was life and that I was free. Free to drink unto drunkenness, free to fornicate with my girlfriend, free to view porno and "smokers" at college Frat parties, free to get high with pot, free to cheat on exams, free to sear my brain with heavy metal rock and roll. Free - oh so free I though I was never realizing I was in the depths of sin and was held captive by fetters I never knew existed. Fetters that only become stronger and more binding the more "free" I became.

    This was my "free" will and these sins and more are what I chose for they are what I desired. And nothing would ever had changed this per a working of my flesh, nothing. I didn't want to lose my friends, I didn't want to be hated by people, I didn't want to be "uncool", and I most certainly did not want to lose my wife (which I did for the gospel's sake). But when grace came I was slayed no less than Paul on the road to Damascus. For I saw light for the first time wherein I actually started to understand what was written in the Scriptures. Words that prior to this were nothing more than "dead" letter, but now they were alive for they were in fact speaking to me. Never before had I heard and understood such things even though for the better part of my life I had been exposed to the Scriptures. For rome is the mother of harlots, this we know, but even so, I heard enough of the Scriptures to know the gospel message as well as the consequences of rejecting the Lord of Glory. And I also knew that what I was doing was wrong for the inner working of my conscience often pricked me. This is why I hid from the light and ran from it, but everything changed when the light instead came unto me. For it was then I could hide no more for it shined bright all about me as noon day (I speak figuratively). All so that things which prior to this were impossible for me to understand and rather foolishness now became that which I hungered and thirsted after.

    For it was when my eyes were opened and I was given life that I actually started to desire to follow God, not per my standard or that of papal rome, but that according to what is written in the Scriptures alone. So much more I could write about my testimony as to how God saved a wretch like me but this will have to wait for another time.

    What I will say is that for those who mockingly say that God forces himself on men per the doctrines of grace, you most assuredly do not understand the depths of sin in YOUR own heart to say such a thing. For I will testify that since I have seen the light and the Glory of Christ, my desire IS for God to cause me to walk in his ways, to keep me from sin and to change my prideful and rebellious will to instead being one of humble submission to abide in his will. Yea - this is what I desire for I know full well what the "free" will of men will chose and it NEVER is life through Jesus Christ.

    My reason for stating this is that so many times when I witness discussions of free will vs. the doctrines of grace, the reality of the flesh choosing Jesus is nary mentioned. For is it not a rarity today to here the doctors of free will preach about what it really means to follow Jesus? Or, that is the reality of being crucified daily with Christ? Ever hear Joel Osteen preach this, or Rick Warren? How about Creflo Dollar or TD Jakes? I don't think so. Is this not why the church is sinking ever so quickly into the quicksand of apostasy through all of the harlotry brought in by the wolves in sheep's clothing? Jokers and fools stand in the pulpit making the word of God a joke, drama teams and dancers entertain the masses, rock bands and mosh pits slake the carnal lusts of the youth, and fast food and Starbucks feed the overfed. We have whatever your carnal lusts thirsts for as we can add the name of Jesus to just about anything. We have surfers for Jesus, and bikers for Christ, "christian" rap and "christian" rock. We take trips to the best locations on earth, we have plush seating, surround sound and movie sized viewing screens all for your enjoyment. Come, laugh, eat, drink and be merry for Jesus came to give you everything you desire, whether it be a new house or a new car, perfect health and stunning looks; Jesus is the genie in the bottle - just say your prayer of faith, rub the bottle and get what you want.

    This is the Jesus that the "free" will of man will chose to follow. For NO flesh will EVER desire the cross - NEVER! Oh sure, they all have their doctrinal statements where they profess belief in the historical cross and the reality of Jesus being crucified. Great - even the devils believe in this and they tremble! What about though the reality of OUR cross? That is the one which we are to carry daily? Whereby we are to die to our flesh and mortify its wicked deeds, we are to be hated of all men for Jesus sake, we are to hate father, mother, brother and sister, husband or wife, yea, even our own lives. We are not to fear men (which the flesh always does by nature) whom we see, but rather God whom we do not see. We are to flee from fornication and not ever look lustfully at another. We are to pray for our enemies, yea even more we are to love them. We are to be tried by fire, chastened by the Lord, we are to wander about looking for a city that hast foundations. Many of us have and/or will lose family and friends, jobs and health, homes and lands all for Jesus sake. This, and so much more we could write, is what it means to really follow Jesus.

    And so, I ask again as to whether this is being preached in most "churches"? No, most assuredly not for those who avoid such topics readily admit why they don't preach such hard sayings. For if they do they will lose the better part of their congregations just like Jesus did when he told his many followers that they needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood. An hard saying whereby ALL left him, all except those he has chosen including the devil Judas. For even today there exists a remnant according to the election of grace who desire the narrow path as they have been quickened from death to life and thereby given new hearts that do desire to to be crucified with Christ. Hearts that are willing to lose family members and friends, jobs and health, houses and lands, all for His names sake. Hearts, in fact that have had God's law written on them such that He causes them to walk in his statutes. Yet even with this we are not forgetful of the wickedness of the flesh for it daily remonstrates and lusts against the Spirit wanting to have its way. For I, as I am sure is true for all, still at times kick hard against the pricks of God's will. But My God is greater than my infantile kicking and he will bring to completion that which he has begun in me. Just as he will for all of his sheep.

    Therefore, let NO flesh glory in his presence but if any glory, let him glory in the LORD.


    Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your testimony. I can find much empathy in your switch to a different theology, as I was once swayed by Calvinism, but have studied and realized another critical conclusion.

    And yes, "..no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God -- and righteousness and sanctification and redemption -- that, as it is written, 'He who glories, let him glory in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:30-31


    Nihil Sine Deos,
    Peter

    Peter:

    A "critical conclusion" can be reached honestly only if you are willing to interact with the criticisms put before you but I have not seen you interact with any of the main points made in the original post or in later challenges by those speaking with you. So it gives all appearance that your belief is drawn from a personal bias rather than a conclusion drawn from biblical exegesis.

    You said that nowhere is it taught in the Scriptures that all who Jesus grants will come (or that faith is a gift)

    But as John H says above, Jesus himself explicitly makes this very claim in John 6:37:

    "37All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

    "Come to Me" here means "believe in me" so Jesus is saying that ALL who the father gives to Jesus will believe on him, and those who believe on him he will not cast out."

    It was also pointed out that 6:65 says that no one can believe on Jesus unless God grants it. So together with 6:37 it forms a syllogism - a universal negative (no one can come unless...)and a universal positive (ALL that the father gives to me will come to me."

    Both texts use the same phrase "come to me" no one can come unless God grants it ... and all granted will come.

    So the syllogism goes something like this: no one can believe in Christ unless God grants it, and all to whom God grants it will believe, and the same will never be cast out. This leaves no room for a grace which does not riase from spiritual death to life.

    Other verses which show regeneration preceding faith:

    "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God..." 1 John 5:1

    Observe the Greek on that one. WIthout regeneration people don't have the eyes to see ofr the understanding necessary to see their need of Christ. also see John 1:13, Rom 9:16

    "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" 1 Peter 1:3

    There is no living hope prior to the new birth for the new birth is what places us into such a frame of heart that we hope in Christ.

    Solo Christo, Sola gratia

    Since I don't know scripture well enough to exactly, I will paraphrase

    I am the alpha and the omega. I am the one who is, who was and who shall be.
    To believe that God does not know and has not planned, puts a limit on the omnipotence of God and therefore limits his powers. Since Jesus said that He knows the birds in the skies and the flowers in the fields and the hairs on our heads and then to say that he doesn't know who is saved untill man decides, is limiting the powers of my God and therefore cannot no longer be considered God.
    Not in my faith, He is the ALPHA and the OMEGA

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