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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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  • « Jeremiah Burroughs on Preaching | Main | Images of the Savior (1 – His Birth) »

    Does the Bible teach Prevenient Grace? - R. C. Sproul

    As the name suggests, prevenient grace is grace that “comes before” something. It is normally defined as a work that God does for everybody. He gives all people enough grace to respond to Jesus. That is, it is enough grace to make it possible for people to choose Christ. Those who cooperate with and assent to this grace are “elect.” Those who refuse to cooperate with this grace are lost. The strength of this view is that it recognizes that fallen man’s spiritual condition is severe enough that it requires God’s grace to save him. The weakness of the position may be seen in two ways. If this prevenient grace is merely external to man, then it fails in the same manner that the medicine and the life preserver analogies fail. What good is prevenient grace if offered outwardly to spiritually dead creatures?

    On the other hand, if prevenient grace refers to something that God does within the heart of fallen man, then we must ask why it is not always effectual. Why is it that some fallen creatures choose to cooperate with prevenient grace and others choose not to? Doesn’t everyone get the same amount?

    Think of it this way, in personal terms. If you are a Christian you are surely aware of other people who are not Christians. Why is it that you have chosen Christ and they have not? Why did you say yes to prevenient grace while they said no? Was it because you were more righteous than they were? If so, then indeed you have something in which to boast. Was that greater righteousness something you achieved on your own or was it the gift of God? If it was something you achieved, then at the bottom line your salvation depends on your own righteousness. If the righteousness was a gift, then why didn’t God give the same gift to everybody?

    Perhaps it wasn’t because you were more righteous. Perhaps it was because you are more intelligent. Why are you more intelligent? Because you study more (which really means you are more righteous)? Or are you more intelligent because God gave you a gift of intelligence he withheld from others?

    To be sure, most Christians who hold to the prevenient grace view would shrink from such answers. They see the implied arrogance in them. Rather they are more likely to say, “No, I chose Christ because I recognized my desperate need for him.” That certainly sounds more humble. But I must press the question. Why did you recognize your desperate need for Christ while your neighbor didn’t? Was it because you were more righteous than your neighbor, or more intelligent?

    The question for advocates of prevenient grace is why some people cooperate with it and others don’t. How we answer that will reveal how gracious we believe our salvation really is. The $64,000 question is, “Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of prevenient grace? If so, where?”

    We conclude that our salvation is of the Lord. He is the One who regenerates us. Those whom he regenerates come to Christ. Without regeneration no one will ever come to Christ. With regeneration no one will ever reject him. God’s saving grace effects what he intends to effect by it.

    [R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, Ill.]

    Posted by John Samson on July 6, 2006 01:57 AM

    Comments

    Chosen by God is one of my favorite books. R.C. Sproul's logic bound to sacred scripture is very powerful in exposing our fleshly concepts we have of God and His ways. This excerpt, I believe, devastates the Prevenient Grace theory. To me PG seems to be a concession by the non-reformed that Free Will is powerless to chose salvation without help, but they refuse to believe that Ephesians 1:4-14 really says that God chose and predestined believers before the foundation of the world.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

    Pastor John

    This morning I was walking up the hill near my house in prayer and the thought of God's grace to us filled my mind. I then considered the absurdity of the position Sproul describes where God does not actually change a darkened heart but just gives it an opportunity. So grace becomes indistinguishable from an act of our will because good thoughts about Christ don't count as a righteous act, in their view.

    Consider if we are spiritually blind, is it God who opens our eyes to see or we ourselves? Most Christians would say "God". But then go from eyes to heart and consider the same question. Our hearts were hardened against Christ loving darkness and hating the light (John 3:19). Was it God who softened our heart that we may believe the gospel or was it we ourselves? It seems that many think our eyes may be conpletely blind and need restoration but there may still be something in our heart that is alive without changing it. But it is dead and as useless as blind eyes. You either see or you do not. Likewise you either believe or you do not ... and the willingness to believe is a result of God's supernatural disarming of our hostility and giving us a heart which loves Christ. Why did we not believe before? because we did not have the Holy Spirit who gives the mind of Christ. The text says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God" (1 Cor 2:12). What are the things freely given of God? Jesus, his grace etc... We cannot know it without the Spirit. For the natural man does not undeerstand them. But with the Spirit he does.

    The Spirit must not only extend grace that helps people, but one that heals them. Jeremiah proclaiming YHWHs words said, I will turn your heart of stone to a heart of flesh that you might obey.

    No one believes when their heart is stone, but when it becomes flesh by definition and by nature it is receptive to God's Word. The work of grace is already done. Our faith is the infallible result.

    Here is a lengthier article on prevenient grace by Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner

    Does the Bible Teach "Prevenient Grace" in the Wesleyan/Arminian Sense? http://www.biblelighthouse.com/sovereignty/StillSovereign.htm


    It is a chapter of this book
    http://www.monergismbooks.com/still2320.html

    I don't know about prevenient grace, but surely Wayne Rooney could've used some common grace to restrain him from getting a red card and thus hurting England's chances at further advancement in the World Cup. Boo hoo!

    (Okay, so I just had to get that off of my chest. Sorry.)

    Patrick,

    Only the Lord knows what was in the mind and heart of Wayne Rooney when he did what he did for England against Portugal, so I am not sure exactly how much he meant it for evil; yet I have to accept that God in some sense meant it for good. What good exactly comes out of Portugal beating England on penalties, I don't know. Divine Providence remains a very mysterious thing to me. :-)

    Sin is sovereign till sovereign grace dethrones it.
    - Charles Spurgeon

    LOL! Thanks Pastor John, that was really funny. :-)

    Hey, that torn look of R.C. Sproul's picture makes it look as if he was smoking. This reminds me of a heretical and immoral man who likes to smoke while preaching on TV. I like Dr. Sproul though.

    LOL!!! I was wondering if someone else would notice that!!!

    One could just as easily ask if the Bible teaches effacacious grace, as it is apparently understood here. If one were to look in the scriptures for explicit teachings regarding either of these, one one come up short, the same as one would in looking for explicit teaching on the Trinity. Therefore, the question of whether it's in the Bible is a bit beside the point, unless one wants to allow that inferences made from other biblical doctrines consitutes a bilical teaching. Since effacacious grace, as presented by Sproul at the end of the article, is implied to be so, then prevenient grace could certainly be considered biblical.

    Prevenient grace is predicated on the understanding that God seriously desires the salvation of all humankind, and that this desire for salvation is completely inclusive. The second understanding is that prevenient grace, while being enabling in nature, is not effacaious toward salvation. The scriptures, the fathers of the church, and the coucils have consistently affirmed the belief that God desires the salvation of all, and that the cooperation of the will on the part of humanity is essential.

    The question is not if you're smarter, or more righteous, or whatever. Those are straw man arguments. The question becomes if you choose or not. Since God has already poured out God's grace upon all, which brings about the possibility of salvation, the cooperation of the will has nothing to do with receiving salvation because one is more righteous or smarter.

    The kind of arguments raised in this article only demonstrate that Sproul seems unwilling (no pun intended) to approach the issue from any other phiosophical position than that of determinism, even though such an approach is counter to the teaching of the church universal from its inception.

    Incidentally, I like the picture. :-)

    Deviant Monk

    you said >>>The question becomes if you choose or not. Since God has already poured out God's grace upon all, which brings about the possibility of salvation, the cooperation of the will has nothing to do with receiving salvation because one is more righteous or smarter.

    Thanks for posting. Let me say that I believe this comment begs the question. Since both persons already have the same grace, then we still must inquire as to what makes them to differ? Is it grace that makes them to differ or their will? If their will, how is it that one person had an inclination toward Christ and not the other? The Scriptures say that both loved darkness and were blind. Did one soften his heart by his own desires and efforts? How can an unregenerate man soften his own heart? Did one cure his own blindness and turn his hatred for Christ to love without God changing his heart (to differ from his neighbor)?

    If you say it was God's grace that softenes it then it still begs the question since both men had this grace. So grace did not make them differ in your system. Does one just "happen to" have faith and not the other? The question is WHY does one man believe the gospel and not the other? What is it in me that desires repentance, then? A spiritually softened heart (regenerate), perhaps? But if I can soften my own heart by my own will (or does that mean ‘soften my will by my own will’?), then what can we make of the texts which say that God makes our heart of stone into a heart of flesh? i.e. the heart of flesh is God’s gift. If prevenient grace does not soften the heart then it is still hard against God's word. Rather, the Bible clearly teaches that God does a supernatural work of grace. Of couse, as you say, God desires all to believe, just as He desires that all will obey the Ten Commandments. This is his desire for them, a desire for what they will do, not what He plans to do for them. He could justly leave everyone in their sins but He has mercy on some, not because he sees that some have sopme stirrings of affection for Christ for no unregerate man has a desire for Christ. The problem with prevenient grace is that when grace is given, it still leaves these men in an unregenerate state and the Bible says that the unregerate cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14). One must have the Spirit to have the mind of Christ, or else the gospel is foolishness to us. So the prevenient position affirms that faith is produced by our unregenerated human nature for if the person were regenerate then he would be saved, no?

    What makes people to differ, according to our Lord Jesus Christ is the grace of God, not our will. As an example in John 6:65 the Lord teaches that no one believes him him unless God grants it, and in v 37 he states and all those he grants will believe. and in v. 44 He not only says they cannot come unless he draws them BUT ALL WHOM HE DRAWS HE WILL raise up at the last day. The same persons whom he says he draws will be resurrected, in other words.

    Shalom


    jwh-

    Since both persons already have the same grace, then we still must inquire as to what makes them to differ? Is it grace that makes them to differ or their will? If their will, how is it that one person had an inclination toward Christ and not the other? The Scriptures say that both loved darkness and were blind. Did one soften his heart by his own desires and efforts? How can an unregenerate man soften his own heart? Did one cure his own blindness and turn his hatred for Christ to love without God changing his heart (to differ from his neighbor)?

    I believe I already answered this- since God's grace is given to all, then the difference is not in potential efficacy of grace, but rather in the will of the one choosing to recceive or reject it. No one within orthodox Christendom (icluding Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants) would affirm that God's grace could be merited, since grace by definition is completely gratuitous.

    Love for God is predicated upon God's grace, but that love isn't foisted upon a heart- it involves the cooperation of the will.

    If you say it was God's grace that softenes it then it still begs the question since both men had this grace. So grace did not make them differ in your system. Does one just "happen to" have faith and not the other? The question is WHY does one man believe the gospel and not the other?

    I'm not sure what you mean by 'happen to', but as I mentioned in regards to Sproul, you seem to be unwilling (no pun intended, again) to frame the questions apart from the philosophical presupposition of determinism.

    A spiritually softened heart (regenerate), perhaps? But if I can soften my own heart by my own will (or does that mean ‘soften my will by my own will’?), then what can we make of the texts which say that God makes our heart of stone into a heart of flesh? i.e. the heart of flesh is God’s gift. If prevenient grace does not soften the heart then it is still hard against God's word.

    I'm not sure I would agree with your definition, but I guess that is besides the point. No one is saying that someone can by the sheer force of their will gain the bestowal of grace. God's grace touches our hearts, and calls us to repentance. This grace is of course unmerited, but is not an effacacious grace; that is, it requires the cooperation of the will. But I have already said this before.

    In regards to the Ezekiel passages- I don't think it's legitimate to read effacacious grace into these passages unless one affirms, as you seem to, that regeneration either logically or chronologically preceeds justification and sanctification. I personally believe they are concommittant acts, so therefore to speak of these passages in reference to regeneration is appropriate, since the one who is justified is truly given a new heart and the gift of the Spirit. I don't see, however, how it would be contrary to the necessary exercise of one's will in response to God's prevenient grace.

    If prevenient grace does not soften the heart then it is still hard against God's word. Rather, the Bible clearly teaches that God does a supernatural work of grace.

    Prevenient grace, by nature of its divine origin and unmerited nature, is completely a supernatural act. If God had not shed grace upon the world because of God's love, there would be no hope for anybody.

    Of couse, as you say, God desires all to believe, just as He desires that all will obey the Ten Commandments. This is his desire for them, a desire for what they will do, not what He plans to do for them.

    I'm not sure I understand what you are saying here. At any rate, it is my belief that God wills the salvation of all; hence the bestowal of grace upon all.

    The problem with prevenient grace is that when grace is given, it still leaves these men in an unregenerate state and the Bible says that the unregerate cannot understand spiritual things (1 Cor 2:14). One must have the Spirit to have the mind of Christ, or else the gospel is foolishness to us.

    Prevenient grace affirms that part of the gift of grace is illumination, or the light of faith. This gratuitous gift of God enables faith through the exercise of the will.

    So the prevenient position affirms that faith is produced by our unregenerated human nature for if the person were regenerate then he would be saved, no?

    Again, I reject that regeneration either logically or chronologically precedes justification and sanctification, or is even ontologically distinct. Also, as aforementioned, the light of faith is a part of God's grace to humanity. Since God desires that humanity may be saved, God gives grace to enable this salvation. Faith is evidenced through the exercise oif the will in response to God's grace.

    As to why one person exercises their will and another doesn't is ultimately a question that is beyond the scope of what we can answer, since, as Paul says, who knows the thoughts of someone except themselves? Ultimately, part of the imago dei is some measure of self-determination.

    What makes people to differ, according to our Lord Jesus Christ is the grace of God, not our will. As an example in John 6:65 the Lord teaches that no one believes him him unless God grants it, and in v 37 he states and all those he grants will believe. and in v. 44 He not only says they cannot come unless he draws them BUT ALL WHOM HE DRAWS HE WILL raise up at the last day. The same persons whom he says he draws will be resurrected, in other words.

    I believe that those verses are much less forced if not read through the lens of exclusivistic determinism. Unfortunately, it is already past midnight, so I must retire for the night and save the rest for later.

    Deviant Monk

    Thanks again for your post. I believe your answers avoid the important question as to how an unregenerate person can see the beauty and excellency of Christ. In order to believe one must see the goodness of Christ and what He has accomplished on our behalf. It also becomes aware of its own bankruptcy which drives us to an end of self. But the natural man does not submit to these humbling gospel terms. He is naturally too proud. If two men get grace, does one man make better use of that grace than the other .... and then by himself forsake pride and embrace humility? That shows there is some merit or virtue in the one person that does not exist in the other. He overcame his pride while the other could not. Why? Grace or nature?

    An unregenerate mind can be illumined (as you say) but this is like shining a light in a blind man's eyes. The eyes are dead and thus they cannot see naturally. Only if the eyes were healed or if new eyes were given him he would see. Likewise those dead in sin are dead to Spiritual things not because they lack light, but because they lack life. It is grace, not our natural will, which makes the inclinations good.

    The only possible conclusion we can reach from the prevenient grace position, therefore, is that the Spirit gives illimination and we make our own dark and bad hearts light and good. But can we make ourselves good?

    This is really just a way of veiling an subtle underlying Pelagianism because it ultimately depends on whether one person has the moral perception of the goodness and excellency of Christ over another.

    The reality is, however, that no one believes in Christ when they still naturally hate him. Belief and trust arises out of a heart that loves Him and sees good in Him. John 3:19, 20 affirms that the reason men will not come to Christ is that they love darkness and hate the light. In other words, the affections determine their choice. How does hate, then, become love? By nature or grace? Light and illumination alone will not move dead matter. A supernatural new birth is required or men will continue to hate Christ says the gospel.

    Deeply problematic is the Prevenient grace positions inability to explain why faith exists in some and not others. This is a fatal error that you have not yet faced down.

    You would appear to believe that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is never sufficient in itself. The grace of Christ helpful but needs something in addition to grace ...

    When a person hears a preacher call for their repentance they can certainly resist that call. But if God gives an inner call no one resists as these passages attest (Acts 2:39; 1 Corinthians 1:23-24; Rom 8:30) nor does he want to.

    DM, you keep sweeping aside the asnwer by saying that my point presupposes determinism, so I can assume you are a libertarian. This raises serious questions that must be explored. Does God have a free will in the libertairan sense? Does He have the ability to choose otherwise? i.e. Can God choose to sin, or be unholy? If God cannot choose sin because of His nature then He is only free in the compatibilstic sense, no?

    Likewise can the saints in heaven, who are sealed in righteousness, choose to sin or be unholy after the resurrection and being sealed in righteousness? no ... so they only have freedom in the compatibalist sense. And a glorious freedom that is.

    You see these questions raise the possibility that, in your view of freedom, the saints and God are less free than we are. But freedom, in the Bible is not defined as the ability to choose otherwise, but is always defined as holiness, free from sin. But if your version were true then you would have to admit that the saints in heaven are in the greatest bondage. Freedom here to a life of no freedom there. But our condition, like theirs, consists in that we are driven by what we desire and our desires are either in bondage to a corruption of nature or set free by Christ ... but one cannot be free until Christ sets them free. A hard heart cannot soften itself, but God must soften it.

    Libertarian freedom does not exist, either to God, the saints or to us. John 8:34-47 proves this. Jesus here in this passage declares it.

    So again, if one understands the gospel and another does not, where does that understanding come from? Is one naturally more spiritually sensitive? Was this understanding itself derived from nature or from grace? If grace then why doesn't the other man have it? Both had grace. So this understand came from some other source (apart from grace) in your view. There is no way around it.

    I did not ask what he did, because we all know what he did already from my question, but I asked ‘why’ he believed and not the other.

    It is the grace of God that makes us humble, not our will making ourselves humble.

    Solus Christus

    jwh-

    I believe your answers avoid the important question as to how an unregenerate person can see the beauty and excellency of Christ.

    I actually answered this already. Part of the gift of grace is illumination.

    In order to believe one must see the goodness of Christ and what He has accomplished on our behalf. It also becomes aware of its own bankruptcy which drives us to an end of self. But the natural man does not submit to these humbling gospel terms. He is naturally too proud. If two men get grace does one man make better use of that grace than the other .... and then by himself forsake pride and embrace humility? That shows there is some merit or virtue in the one person that does not exist in the other. He overcame his pride while the other could not. Why? Grace or nature?

    I think you are doing great violence to the definition of humility if you conceive of the exercise of it to demonstrate previously inherent merit or virtue. Humility in the context of what we are talking about recognizes its need for God and grace; pride, on the other hand, doesn't. The overcoming of pride doesn't exist apart from the bestowal of grace- it is the existence of prevenient grace that
    allows pride to be overcome. Without this grace it couldn't. Therefore, there is no meriting of the grace that allows one to overcome pride, so I feel that to conceive of humility as a meritorious act in and of itself misses the fact that it is enabled by grace.

    An unregnerate mind can be illumined (as you say) but this is like shining a light in a blind man's eyes. The eyes are dead and thus they cannot see naturally. Only if the eyes were healed or if new eyes were given him he would see. Likewise those dead in sin are dead to Spiritual things not because they lack light, but because they lack life. It is grace, not our natural will, which makes the inclinations good.

    First of all, I don't think the metaphorical language is useful, since I would disagree with your conception of the sinful person, in that I reject Total Depravity.

    The only possible conclusion we can reach from the prevenient grace position, therefore, is that the Spirit gives illimination and we make our own dark and bad hearts light and good. But can we make ourselves good?

    I don't see how this is a reasonable conclusion. Who has ever said anything about making our hearts light? or about making ourselves good? The illumination of the light of faith is a gratuitous gift, and as for making ourselves good, the exercise of the will isn't what makes you good- it is the sanctifying grace of God through justification that recreates the human heart. Choosing to accept an unmerited grace is in fact the ultimate way of the human being recognizing that they are incapable of achieving this, and that only through faith in God can their hearts be made new.

    Deeply problematic is the Previent grace positons inability to explain why faith exists in some and not others. This is a fatal error that you have not yet faced down.

    I don't know how to make myself any more clear than I have been. The light of faith is given to all through grace. Thus the possibility of faith exists in all by virtue of grace given to all. The exercise of the will is necessary for justification. Humans are to an extent self-determinate, so the cause of why one has faith and one doesn't is two-fold; first, that grace is given to them (which it is to all) and second that they exercise their will. This 'why' is of course outside the scope of monistic determinism, so I suppose I cannot answer the way you want me to since I reject your underlying presupposition. The why is going to be found in the will of the person, which I have already said is outside the scope of understanding.

    You would appear to believe that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is never sufficient in itself. The grace of Christ helpful but needs something in addition to grace ...

    If one were a Pelagian, I suppose this would be a valid critique. However, nothing I have advocated comes even close to Pelagianism, but is categorically distinct. I have not denied by any means that grace is not sufficient. I reject, however, your advocating that grace must be effacacious to be sufficient. This conception of grace actually calls into question its sufficiency more than my view. You would advocate that unless grace effacaciously attains its desired end, that its virtue of sufficiency is called into question. This, however, places the virtue of its sufficiency completely within the anthropocentric realm. In other words, grace only has sufficiency because it deterministically does something within humanity. I, however, believe that the virtue of the sufficiency of grace exists because it is divine and supernatural; that is, its sufficiency is not dependent on whether it is received or not, but is dependent upon its divine nature. Therefore, I wholeheartedly affirm that grace is sufficient; and for those that choose to receive it, it transforms humanity. Grace doesn't need anything added to it. The reception of grace through the exercise of the will does not add anything to grace.

    When a person hears a preacher call for their repentance they can certainly resist that call. But if God gives an inner call no one resists as these passages attest(Acts 2:39; 1 Corinthians 1:23-24; Rom 8:30) nor does he want to.

    I of course would disagree that these passages teach that God's call is irresistible, and I as well could give a laundry list of my own proof texts, but that seems a futile effort.

    DM, you keep sweeping aside the asnwer by saying that my point presupposes detereminism, so I can assume you are a libertarian. This raises serious questions that must be explored Does God have a free will in the libertairan sense? Does He have the ability to choose otherwise? i.e. Can God choose to sin, or be unholy? If God cannot choose sin because of His nature then He is only free in the compatibilstic sense, no?

    God's holiness has little to do with whether or not God does certain acts or not and everything to do with God's nature and self-existence. Holiness and sin aren't some abstractions to which God confroms- holiness and sinfulness receive their definitions based upon God's nature. Therfore, to say that God is holy is not to say that God conforms to what is holy, but that what is holy confroms to who and what God is. To say that God couldn't be holy would be the same as asking if God could not exist- they are not impossibilities in that God is incapable of doing them, but rather are logical impossbilities in that they don't exist as categories in which to speak about God.

    Since sin has no positive existence; that is, it isn't a created ontology, but a privation, then God could not meaningfully be spoken of as having the capacity to sin. Since sin is a privation and a cutting-off from existence which is derived from God, again to to say that God could sin would be to say that God could not exist, which is contrary to the christian conception of God as self-existent. Therefore, to question the freedom of God's will in relation to sin is not a very meaningful discussion. However, since God is love, that implies freedom, since freedom is essential to love. Within the creation of the universe is an implied freedom in God- that is, since God is self-existent, God does not need the universe, the implication being that God could have chosen to not create. God's will in creation is gratuitous- there was no need inherent within creation, since God doesn't need it. Love, as the nature of God, allows for this, since love is free and gives freely. Thus, God creating is a gratuitous outpouring of love, therefore necessitating that it is a free act. Since God operates from a freedom of self-existence, God isn't constrained to do this or do that.

    Likewise can the saints in heaven, who are sealed in righteousness, choose to sin or be unholy after the resurrection and being sealed in righteousness? no ... so they only have freedom in the compatibist sense. And a glorious freedom that is.

    Seeing as our first parents, created in righteousness, choose to sin, I think its theoretically possible. The nature of love always must allow for freedom. However, the thing about love is that the more one loves, meaning the more one chooses love, the more one becomes that love, so to speak. There are decisions we continually make that eventually we become those decisions. Since the nature of eternity differs from time, I think its possible that a decision in a moment in time becomes the decision in eternity. I don't have adequate language to describe it, since the workings of eternity are beyond our language and understanding, but I think it's possible to conceive of love as being completely free as well as a decision one becomes.

    Libertarian freedom does not exist, either to God, the saints or to us. John 8:34-47 proves this. Jesus here in this passage declares it.

    First of all, I find it extremely difficult to find where in those passages you find Jesus declaring this. He certainly doesn't declare "God isn't free." At most you would have to assert an implication, and even then I think you would have to do great violence to the text to derive it from that.

    Secondly, if God isn't free, you are left with some odious consequences. The first would be that God is constrained to act by some causality. If creation, etc., are not free acts, but constrained acts arising from need, then you would have to deny the self-existence of God, and assert pantheism, since that is where this form of determinism would lead you. Of course, if pantheism is asserted, then there is no meaningful distiction between God and creation. You have inadvertantly already asserted this, in saying that God isn't any more free than humanity.

    Secondly, if you want to balk at pantheism, which I am sure you will, you are left with monistic determinism, which makes our existence absolutely meaningless, since all acts are predicated and necessitated by a Primal Cause. I don't think this even escapes pantheism, for if our entie existence is simply the result of a long chain of causalities arising from the primal will of God, then to meaningfully speak of God as independent to anything becomes more and more difficult, these things do not exist in a gratuitous manner, since God was not free to do or not do.

    Self-determination, as I have already said, is a part of the imago dei. The fact that we have a free will is not in antagonism to the fact that God has a free will, but is a complement of the fact that God has a free will. God's nature of love 'requires' that to exist in a love relation to God or not is self-determined by both God and humanity. Otherwise, God's love toward creation and humanity is not really love, since it wouldn't be free, and our loving God wouldn't be love for the same reasons. Since God is the source of love, there is no difficulty in saying that love is both a gift from God (in capacity) and a choice.

    So again, if one understands the gospel and another does not, where does that understanding come from? Is one naturally more spiritually sensitive? Was this understanding itself derived from nature or from grace? If grace then why doesn't the other man have it? Both had grace. So this understand came from some other source (apart from grace) in your view. There is no way around it.

    At the risk of being redunadant, it is the exercise of the will which is the difference. God's grace illuminates us- it then is left to us to choose or reject God. You are looking for a causal reason, and I have given you one- the will. I suppose you want a causal reason for the exercise of the will or not- as I have said, we are, to an extent, self-determinate. In this we are like God. I could ask why God choose to do this or why God chose to do that. Can you give me a causal reason compelling God to act? You have already said that God wasn't free to act. So why create? Why save? I am not saying that there is no difference between our wills and that of God, but there is a level of self-determinance that is unapproachable epistomologically. I am sorry that I have to appeal to the mystery of each person's will, but I cannot see why I should have to answer within a monistically deterministic framework, since I reject it anyway.

    It is the grace of God that makes us humble, not our will making ourselves humble

    I have already dealt with this above, so I won't belabor the point. However, I would say that humility is an act of the will, since humility is willful submission to God, and for our purposes, God's grace, rather than some kind of abstract state. Therefore, since grace enables the will, being humble isn't something that merits grace, but rather receives it.


    Deviant Monk

    you said >>>>First of all, I don't think the metaphorical language is useful, since I would disagree with your conception of the sinful person, in that I reject Total Depravity.

    If you rejected total depravity then you could not possibly believe in the necessity of prevenient grace. If prevenient grace is of necessity then man is in TOTAL bondage to the corruption of nature apart from the Holy Spirit. Consider, apart from prevenient grace, can man by his natural abilities believe the gospel? If the Holy Spirit does nothing and just leaves man in his natural state, does he have the moral ability to turn to Christ? No, not even in your belief system, so, in fact, you DO believe in total depravity. Otherwise, why does he need the Holy Spirit at all?

    More later ... I have a breakfast appointment.
    Shalom

    If you rejected total depravity then you could not possibly believe in the necessity of prevenient grace. If prevenient grace is of necessity then man is in TOTAL bondage to the corruption of nature apart from the Holy Spirit.

    Perhaps we are conceiving of total depravity differently. What I understand of total depravity is that it completely makes every act, thought, etc., wholly evil, and that from total depravity arises all sin. (that this is manichaean, in that it makes sin substantive, is beside the point)

    No one is saying that anyone is capable of salvation without grace. Just b/c one does not believe in total depravity does not lead to the conclusion that they are pelagian. As I said before, sin a privation, that privation being a privation of sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace is union with God, so what the Fall did for humanity was to essentially sever that union with God, and thus cut us off from life with God. Thus sin is a death of the soul. However, sin does not completely efface the image of God within us, as Total depravity would have to logically conclude.

    Being brought back into union with God is the dilemma - and we obviously cannot do that by ourselves, since we have lost the very thing which brings about union with God - that being sanctifying grace.

    Union with God is something that God originally intitated in creation, which humanity rejected in the Fall, and which God through reconciliation is beginning again. Since the primal cause of union with God was the will of God, and since that union is what brings about life- the life experienced by a creation dependent upon God for life, since it has no self-existence, then it becomes clear that one's will, though inclined to be in union with God, could not bring it about. It is grace that makes the union possible, and this grace is again grounded in the love and will of God. Hence, for somebody to be able to choose that grace does absolutely no violence to either its gratuity or its sufficiency.

    Being dead in sin is not a complete loss of the imago dei, or a unyielding bondage of the will- it is soul death, which is what sin is. To be out of union with God is to tend towards non-existence, since God is the giver of life. (That God sustains everything, even those who are not in union with God, is surely a sign of God's unlimited and universal grace.) Our bondage to corruption is not that we are wholly evil, but again that we are not in union with God, and so even our best efforts are of no avail apart from grace which is a conduit into the life of God. An exercise of the will, therefore, in response to grace does not evidence any kind of merit in and of itself but contrarily shows that the will is completely dependent upon God and the grace of God which brings about union and life with God.

    On another note, I would affirm that the good that people who aren't believers do is actual good, and not just apparent good. This arises because of the remnants of the imago dei in us, and is not by any means contradictory to our need for grace, since the issue is ultimately whether we are in union with God or not.

    This is why, in reference to your metaphors, I brought up the fact that I reject total depravity. If you have a different conception of it than that which is generally espoused by those coming from a deterministic framework, feel free to correct me.

    Devient Monk

    you said >>>>What I understand of total depravity is that it completely makes every act, thought, etc., wholly evil, and that from total depravity arises all sin.

    no. total depravity does not refer to man being as evil a creature as he can be. All 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. what is meant, then, by the total depravity and spiritual inability of the natural man? It means that 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. In other words, total depravity means that man is utterly incapable of doing any redemptive good, including believe the gospel apart from God's grace.

    If belief in Christ does not show the state of a man's heart as you seem to claim, then why the need for grace at all. Why can't man believe the gospel apart from grace?

    You acknowledge that apart from a work of prevenient grace, man, left to himself, has zero ability to believe the gospel. i.e. He can do nothing to please God redemptively. Thus the need for prevenient grace. That is actually the historical meaning total depravity and how it has always been used, not that man is as evil as he can be, or wholly evil as you described. For surely man could be more evil than he is. Also this revels that man has no free will prior to grace, even in your belief system. For, left to himself he is in bondage to a corruption of nature...and will not believe. Without prevenient grace will he believe? No ... why not? John 3:19 says the reason is because he LOVES DARKNESS AND HATES THE LIGHT. THE REASON THE SCRIPTURES GIVE has to do with the affections. Our affections drive our choices, according to this and man other texts.

    you said>>>>Being dead in sin is not a complete loss of the imago dei

    no of course not. The imago dei is not lost as the Test of Scripture clearly testifies to in Genesis 9. But it is a bondage of the will to the corruption of nature. Jesus clearly and unambiguously affirms this in Romans 6 and John 8. Those who are slaves of sin can only be set free by the Son. 2 Tim 2 says that Satan has taken men captive to do his will until God grants repentance leading to life.

    >>>>Our bondage to corruption is not that we are wholly evil, but again that we are not in union with God, and so even our best efforts are of no avail apart from grace which is a conduit into the life of God.

    Exactly. the absence of the Holy Spirit means we do not have the mind of Christ (see 1 Cor 2:14) We think of all spiritual things as foolish. The natural man does not understand nor have any affection for spiritual things. It requires a transformation of heart if we are to love Christ.

    We do not make our own hearts from hard to soft. God does this.

    you said >>>An exercise of the will, therefore, in response to grace does not evidence any kind of merit in and of itself but contrarily shows that the will is completely dependent upon God and the grace of God which brings about union and life with God.

    This is a contradiction. If the will is completely dependent on God and his grace .. note you said "completely" .. which is the same as saying "what do you have that you did not receive" - the answer is nothing. But if something aside from grace, that is, your faith, is part of the price of redemption then you suppose God requiring faith of us is something we have power of ourselves to do, and this makes the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of no effect. For the cross did not set us free but our will did ... the very thing that needed to be set free.

    The Scripture says, "OF his own will He brought us forth by the word of truth..."

    The new birth or regeneration is never spoken of in the imperative as something we need to do. It is a sovereign act of God to quicken us that we might believe.

    we "were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)

    It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. (6:63)

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

    >>>in other words no one can believe the gospel unless God grants it.

    "All that the Father gives me will come to me"

    Or all that the Father gives to Christ will believe in him and v44 says these same persons will be raised up on the last day.


    That is actually the historical meaning total depravity and how it has always been used, not that man is as evil as he can be, or wholly evil as you described.

    I suppose one could debate the accuracy of this statement. If you feel that's the historical understanding, then I will leave it at that. I was simply echoing what is found in the Westminster Confession, which, in my many conversations with Reformed thinkers, seems to be as 'orthodox' a description of Reformed theology that I can find. I apologize for assuming you agreed with it, since it says " By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God, and so became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body" and "From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions". Luther saw the only difference between the regenerate and the unregenerate as being the imputation of righteousness, and that it was through that (or lack of that) that an act became either good or evil. You would agree, I think, since you admit that good works done with out faith have only an apparent good- even though you have not said explicitly, I think I am not incorrect in my assessment. However, the onerous conclusion reached from this is that sin is substantive, which Luther certainly seemed to believe, at least unknowingly, and this substantive view of sin is essentially a Manichaen leftover.

    As I said before, this issue is not about the amount or even quality of good things or bad things that one does- the dilemma within humanity is that we have lost our union with God. Thus, while we still retain God's image, and, I believe, can still perform truly good things, it is of no avail since we do not have union with God, which is the source of life and love.

    Also this revels that man has no free will prior to grace, even in your belief system. For, left to himself he is in bondage to a corruption of nature...and will not believe. Without prevenient grace will he believe? No ... why not?

    I don't quite understand how you reach this conclusion that there is no free will prior to grace...if the image of God remains in us, there is a an inherent necessitity that we retain some of our free will. Unlike a Reformed position, which sees the corruption of our natures not as a privation but as an addition, (substantive sin) I believe that what we have lost is the sanctifying grace with which humanity was endowed, that is, union with God. Not to belabor the point, but the utlimate question is not whether I choose to do good or bad things, but whether I am in union with God.

    Just because one would admit that without prevenient grace one could not believe is not anywhere near saying that one doesn't have free will without it. God is the source of our wills; without God's grace nothing would exist, let alone be free. Free will doesn't mean that you have every possible option open to you (unless you are God); rather, it simply describes the understanding that when confronted with decisions, one can truly do this or that. As I have said before, union with God was intiated by God both in creation and salvation- thus, no one could through the force of their will attain unto that, unless God gives the grace for it to be possbile. This is what prevenient grace is- it allows the possibility of the cooperation of the will.

    John 3:19 says the reason is because he LOVES DARKNESS AND HATES THE LIGHT. THE REASON THE SCRIPTURES GIVE has to do with the affections. Our affections drive our choices, according to this and man other texts.

    Except that love is a choice, not simply a response to an affection, which, I would assume you mean to be involuntary. In the context of the surrounding verses, the verdict is clearly that a choice is being made to either believe or not believe. Jesus says nothing of the affections, so it is clear that you are superimposing a philosophical construct on Jesus' words.

    This is a contradiction. If the will is completely dependent on God and his grace .. note you said "completely" .. which is the same as saying "what do you have that you did not receive" - the answer is nothing. But if something aside from grace, that is, your faith, is part of the price of redemption then you suppose God requiring faith of us is something we have power of ourselves to do, and this makes the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of no effect. For the cross did not set us free but our will did ... the very thing that needed to be set free.

    If you admit that grace is effacacious, then there is no freeing of the will at all, since it would be completely passive, so you would be involved in a similar contradiction.

    How would an exercise of the will be a part of the 'price of redemption?' That is simply useless rhetoric. No one has said that anything is added to redempton. The will cooperates with grace- that is a world apart from adding anything to it. God's grace, as I have repeatedly affirmed, is completely sufficient; I do, however, reject the notion that sufficiency requires efficacy. To do so actually calls into question the suffciency of the Christ's sacrifice, since you would be forced to admit that it is not sufficient by virtue of itself (being divine and all) but only by virtue of its anthropological manifestation.

    The Scripture says, "OF his own will He brought us forth by the word of truth..."

    anymore proof texts that don't necessarily mean what you are forcing them to say? Want me to give some proof texts too? I could just as easily quote this verse to you in support of what I say...

    The new birth or regeneration is never spoken of in the imperative as something we need to do. It is a sovereign act of God to quicken us that we might believe.

    I reject, as I ahve said before, that regeneration is either ontologically, logically or chronologically distinct from justification. I would agree that the new birth and regeneration are the same, but that they are distinct from justification is suspect. Since justification/regeneration are results of faith, and not causes, I would disagree that regenertion is the quickening you advocate.

    we "were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13)

    It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. (6:63)

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

    >>>in other words no one can believe the gospel unless God grants it.

    "All that the Father gives me will come to me"

    Or all that the Father gives to Christ will believe in him and v44 says these same persons will be raised up on the last day.

    I, of course, disagree with you approriation of these texts. I feel that in John 6 Jesus saying something completely different than what you are making him out to say. It is clear that he is confronting people who believe in him because he gave them food to eat, and who want signs about who he is, even though he has given them signs and is greater than their archetype of the giver of bread. Their response to Jesus' words demonstrates that Jesus is offering a construct of faith that is completely foreign to them- they want to know what to do, and Jesus tells them to believe in him. They ask for a sign to substantiate this belief, and he says he is the bread from heaven. They obviously reject his divine origin, and then balk at his telling them they have to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Eventually they desert him, it seems, because they refuse to get past their materialistic understandings. They will not accept Jesus' divine origins, or that he is the way to the Father. Indeed, from a Jewish perspective, it was being a part of the jewish people (being circumcised, etc,) that was to be in fellowship with God. This would seem to be the understanding behind their asking for a sign similar to that of Moses. (Jesus of course deals with this whole issue throughout the entire book of John, so it is entirely reasonable and legitimate to assume this understanding at work here.) Jesus through the teaching on eating his flesh and drinking his blood is clearly teachign that in contrast to the sign of manna given which still left people dead, his origin is divine, and life comes through him. I think they are less offended by his teaching about drinking his blood and eating his flesh than they are about his claiming to be the source of eternal life. Indeed, it is Jesus' claims of divine origins and the inefficacy of being a child of Abraham which seems to be the stumbling point throughout the Gospel of John. Thus, when he declares that no one can come to him unless the Father has enabled someone, (especially in light of John's aside that Jesus knew that some wouldn't believe) he is essentially overturning the idea that one's pedigree puts one into a specal relationship with God. Jesus makes similar statements when he says that he is the way, the turth, and the life, and that no one comes to the father except through him. Far from being a deterministic statement, Jesus simply seems to be saying that coming to the Son is not something that can be achieved by one's pedigree, but requires belief. In relation to this passage, St Augustine says "when asked why they could not believe, I respond, because they would not." That is the clear understanding of the entire narrative of this chapter, rather than the select cutting out of a couple of proof texts.


    Deviant Monk:

    I do actually agree with the definition of the Westminster Confession, but you still have not understood it I believe. All reformed thinkers would agree with you that the dilemma within humanity is that we have lost our union with God. Please read again carefully what I wrote: "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 in God's eyes what he does it is evil through and through because it does not come from faith and the love of Christ is not his deepest animating principle (nor the priciple at all) for glad submission. So there is no disagreement whatsoever with the Westminster Confession. Reformed thinkers (not hypercalvinsits) all believe in common grace and that man has a conscience and the capacity to promote virtue on a human level. But consider, does anyone love God with all their heart and mind when they are doing good works. According to ROm 3:19-20 the purpose of the divine legislation is to expose us as having sin because we woefully fall short of God's standard and thus our acts are evil.

    you said >>>>I don't quite understand how you reach this conclusion that there is no free will prior to grace...if the image of God remains in us, there is a an inherent necessitity that we retain some of our free will.

    Whether God's image remains in us us unrelated to whether or not we have a free will. May I ask a question so you understand what I am saying? When the gospel is preached, you believe that a person can only believe with prevenient grace. Why can't man believe apart from prevenient grace? When we speak of man not having a free will we do not mean that he does not make voluntary choices ... he does. But apart from grace those choices are dirven by man's love for darkness and hatred of the light (John 3:19) He cannot choose good apart from Christ's intervention. His choice are bound by his nature which, as you say so well, he is out of "union with Christ". Total depravity could be defined as the condition of man apart from the Holy Spirit, who brings us into union with Christ. Only as the Spirit brings us into union with him do we have the mind of Christ and can believe. Our hearts will always rebel against the light apart from the Spirit. These are not Manichaen, but thouroughly biblical.

    When you say the natural man has a free will, may I ask, free from what? Free from sin? Is the unregenerate man free from sin? The text says that Satan has taken these men captive to do his will. Jesus says we are slaves of sin, UNTIL the Son sets you free. That does not sound like free will to me.

    you said >>>>>Except that love is a choice, not simply a response to an affection, which, I would assume you mean to be involuntary. In the context of the surrounding verses, the verdict is clearly that a choice is being made to either believe or not believe. Jesus says nothing of the affections, so it is clear that you are superimposing a philosophical construct on Jesus' words.

    So love for darkness has no is not an affection. He just happens to love it by choice for no apparent reason? His love is reasonless? No, this is the height of absurdity. OUr natures, who we are, drives our affections and love. The choices we make for our love is not in a void where we have no affection for its object. A love of darkness means that one has desires for it. Would you deny this?

    Furthermore, you are not reading the text in context. Jesus says (in context) we must be born again to either see or enter the kingdom of God. Flesh give birth to flesh and SPirit gives birth to spirit, not the other way around. It is the Spirit who gives life the flesh counts for nothing. Nothing, not a little something, rather nothing. No one can believe the gospel unless God grants it and ALL to whom God grants it will believe. Those who he draws, the same will be raised up at the last day (John 6:37, 39, 44, 63-65) We are not born of the human will but of God (John 1:13) We did not chose Christ be He chose us and ordained that we would bear fruit. (John 15:16)
    Except love is a choice?

    Are you saying that a person can love Jesus while still out of union with Christ? Where does this love come from that some people have and other do not? How did some get it and not others? random chance?

    He also says people do not believe BECAUSE they are not his sheep. (John 10) He does not say, they "are not his sheep because they do not believe."

    you said >>>>but requires belief

    Of course it requires belief. This is the command of God to believe in his Son. But reading ONLY this and disounting the MANY other verses that do speak of determinism is to read the Biblie in islation and not accept the whole counsel of Scripture. Beingt required to believe is not the same things as being able to believe. If someone owes a huge debt they cannot repay, the inability to repay does not alleviate him from the responsibility to do so. Likewise. The command of God is to believe in his Son, but no one will on their own. We are responsible to believe, to have faith in Jesus ... but all of us have turned aside. None seeks God. That is why God has to open our eyes, unplug our deaf ears and turn our heart of stone to a heart of flesh.


    >>>>I reject, as I ahve said before, that regeneration is either ontologically, logically or chronologically distinct from justification. I would agree that the new birth and regeneration are the same, but that they are distinct from justification is suspect. Since justification/regeneration are results of faith, and not causes, I would disagree that regenertion is the quickening you advocate.


    With respect to you friend ...then there is apparently nothing more to talk about. Perhaps we are just talking past each other and wasting each others time if we continue. It has been an enjoyable conversation I but see little benefit from continung at this point considering there is so much to do.. The work at monergism.com is calling :)

    Shalom


    You both provide very interesting and highly intellectual thoughts on this- though you cannot both be correct. From a more simplistic view, it is obvious to me that anytime man's will is required for God to act- then it most certainly takes away from God's glory. Yet, Scripture makes it quite clear, that God will not share His glory with anyone. It is quite humbling for us to extract ourselves from a position requiring man's will for salvation to a position that requires nothing other than God's choosing- which scripture clearly teaches. Perhaps the only more humbling thing than this is when a pastor of over 15 yrs, comes to this conclusion. I know this truth for I have lived it. I thank God for His grace He extended to me in the process, as it has been not only a great awakening of truth for, but also a time of spiritual refreshing from the Lord. JLO

    Thank you for such an engaging exchange. Both JWH and DM exhibit incredible passion and knowledge of each's position, but also an inherent stubbornness and refusal to completely understand the other's position, which is bothersome to me. "A stiff-necked people" is a term that comes to mind.

    I am a 20-year member of a United Methodist congregation which teaches John Wesley's "three kinds of grace," and have struggled to fully reconcile that teaching with scripture. Understand that I have not rejected it, but I admit that I have not yet attained complete understanding. However, I have, in the past couple of years, been introduced to "reformed theology," through which I have been better able to reconcile the teaching of scripture.

    I am not taking a stance either way. Both of you make convincing arguments. However, I am surprized at DM's criticism of JWH's "proof texting" while displaying a reluctance to support his own position with scriptural proofs. Yes, it is easy to lift a passage from its context and use it to further a selfish agenda, but it is also important to provide a scriptural basis of belief rather than just "I believe," by which any belief can be justified—at least for those like me who are still struggling between two seemingly opposing, yet both widely accepted, perspectives.

    That being said, I would like to raise a question:

    DM states: "Being dead in sin is not a complete loss of the imago dei, or a unyielding bondage of the will- it is soul death, which is what sin is."

    But Romans 8:10 says, "If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness." (emphasis mine).

    If I understand this passage correctly (in its context of "flesh" vs "spirit"), then being dead in sin is more than sin death, it is death of the body. If, then, our body is dead because of sin, then the body, in and of itself, is incapable even of receiving a free gift. A dead body cannot extend a hand to receive into it something given. Does that not mean that even the receiving of the gift of life in Christ is effected by God, in that He must take our hand and open it so that He can place the gift in it?

    Some of the passages Arminians use that support Prevenient Grace:

    John 12:32
    John 6:44
    John 16:7-11
    Titus 2:11-13
    Rom 2:4
    Jeremiah 31:3

    I would ask those same questions to the reformed concept of Grace. Meaning Why does God chose some for hell and some for heaven? Is it cause you are more intelligent or righteous? How could God die for the whole world (John 3:16) and he had already selected who was gonna go to hell or heaven? Matter of fact why even die for sins, when it is not sin that sends you to hell but "God's sovereign Choice." Or maybe prevenient Grace does exist and some choose Christ while others don't because of a simple thing called Free will...

    I would ask those same questions to the reformed concept of Grace. Meaning Why does God chose some for hell and some for heaven? Is it cause you are more intelligent or righteous? How could God die for the whole world (John 3:16) and he had already selected who was gonna go to hell or heaven? Matter of fact why even die for sins, when it is not sin that sends you to hell but "God's sovereign Choice." Or maybe prevenient Grace does exist and some choose Christ while others don't because of a simple thing called Free will...

    Ricardo -

    God's Sovereign - He does what He pleases.

    People go to hell because of their sin, and others go to heaven because of God's grace. Simple as that.

    Unfortunately dominating our churches today is the myth if freewill. Man sins cos it's his nature and they are in bondage to sin (Roman 6).

    Until God has mercy and grants grace for a man to receive Jesus Christ (recieve meaning to experience, know, be in intimate relationship with the Creator) there is no way man is 'freely willing' to want to know God. The carnal mind is enmity with God.

    We don't want God to be fair b/c that would mean all of mankind should go to hell. If God sent all of us to hell He would still be just...Right?

    So, what we want God to be is gracious. And God in His Sovereignty has chosen a bunch of rotten, depraved folks in Adam and placed them in His darling Son Jesus Christ...before the foundations of the earth...FOR HIS OWN GLORY.

    This is something saved folks will marvel at for the rest of their lives and that is why should a PERFECT, HOLY, TRANSCENDENT, OMNIPOTENT, OMNISICENT GOD condescend to save anyone...?

    Thank you.

    Great blog, really glad i stumbled across this, update please.

    It is assumed by some that grace can be rejected,but since grace both gives us the truth of our predicament,and the truth of the consequences,why would someone who had been enlightened to both still choose to reject it.If they have truly seen the light,to use a cliche,why would they prefer to remain in darkness.Because they love thier sin,i hear someone say.If they still love thier sin after God has graciously revealed Himself to them,then they cannot have realy seen the light,in which case they have not recieved grace.

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