Banner

"...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)

Contributors

  • Rev. John Samson
  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

    top250.jpg

    Community Websites

    Monergism Books on Facebook

    Blogroll

    Latest Posts

    Categories

    Archives

    Ministry Links

  • « Images of the Savior (48 -- Conclusion) | Main | How Sweet the Sound... »

    Does Man Have a Free WIll? And Does Predestination Eliminate Our Will?

    Visitor Comment: Words need to have meaning or all argument becomes nonsense. Either salvation is open to all or it is not. Either it is predestined who goes to heaven or it’s an individual’s choice to choose salvation through Christ. You can not have it both ways and be thinking logically and rationally. The bottom line, the predestination doctrine eliminates the role of an individual’s free will.

    Response: Hi and thanks for your comment. However, the Bible does not teach anywhere that natural man has a free will ... but rather that his will is in bondage to sin (2 Timothy 2:26; Rom 6:17, 20; 1 Cor 2:14). and since I agree with you that words do mean something, last time I looked, that which is in bondage is not free. Ask yourself, in light of clear biblical teaching, can a person believe the gospel apart form the work of the Holy Spirit? If not, then you agree that, left to himself, man is morally powerless to come to Christ. (i.e. has no free will.) He can make voluntary choices but he sins by necessity. No one coerces him since he voluntarily chooses to sin and yet he cannot do otherwise until Christ set him free - so until we are joined to Christ by the Spirit we will ALWAYS reject the gospel. And this is exactly what Jesus teaches when he tells us that no one can believe the gospel unless God grants it (John 6:65).

    Secondly, it is important to consider that God demands that you obey the ten commandments perfectly? Have you? No, none of us have. That is why we need a Savior ... who Himself was without sin having obeyed all God's commands. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. In the same way the command to believe the gospel cannot be obeyed apart from the Holy Spirit. HIs salvation includes delivering us from the bondage of the will. The Holy Spirit gives us a new heart, opens our blind eyes and unplugs our deaf ears ... without which we would never come to saving faith on our own. The scripture says no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' apart form the Holy Spirit. If someone owes a debt they cannot repay (like us) then the inability to repay the debt does not alleviate us of the responsibility to do so. The point is that you appear to have a lot of unbiblical assumptions in your statement. Back up what you say with Scripture, not just your unaided logic and then we have a place to start.

    Please consider this question:. If many of us hear the gospel and some people end up believing and others do not, what makes these people to differ? Are some more natually inclined to the gospel? Are some more wise? No, it is Jesus that makes people to differ. Salvation is by the grace of Jesus Christ alone. If we believe the gospel then it is by grace we have believed. Only a new heart can love and trust Jesus. Faith does not come from an unregenerate heart. We did not come up with faith ourselves. Otherwise we could boast and thank ourself for not being like other men who did not make such a good choice. Our choice is real but requires regenerating grace or we would all perish.

    Solus Christus
    John

    Posted by John on March 13, 2009 03:09 PM

    Comments

    This whole post is way to short and oversimplified to do such a big issue like this any justice.

    Free will exists, otherwise pre-fallen Adam sinned out of necessity (using your logic).
    Yet God's Providence/Predestination "predates" Adam, thus Free Will and Predestination are both true and can exist at the same time.

    The same argument applies to Christ, He had free will and also was predestined. To deny Christ had free will is to deny he was human.

    Also, the Council of Orange which you quote in your title is not what Reformed think it is. It is a Catholic council, not Protestant. It teaches things like Baptismal regeneration, gracious merit, etc. The conclusion is my favorite:
    "According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul. We not only do not believe that any are foreordained to evil by the power of God, but even state with utter abhorrence that if there are those who want to believe so evil a thing, they are anathema."

    Before you go mentioning Pelagianism, the fact is grace is required for any good work as the Catholic Church and Orange explicitly teach.

    Quote:Secondly, it is important to consider that God demands that you obey the ten commandments perfectly? Have you? No, none of us have. That is why we need a Savior ... who Himself was without sin having obeyed all God's commands. He does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

    Nick: The Bible nowhere teaches Christ kept commandments for us, in our place. The notion of imputing Christ's righteousness is foreign to Scripture and Paul's mind.

    Hi Nick,

    Since you say you are a Roman Catholic I understand that you do not believe Jesus Christ is sufficient to save completely but that man must cooperate with God's grace - synergism - a view completely contrary to Scripture, Augustine and Orange.

    You said, "Free will exists, otherwise pre-fallen Adam sinned out of necessity (using your logic)."

    Free from what, I ask? You obviously did not read the post very carefully. The entire post is about man in his fallen state where he is in bondage to sin. If you are a good Augustinian then you should understand the four-fold nature of man. (a) able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare); (b) not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); (c) able not to sin (posse non peccare); and (d) unable to sin (non posse peccare). The first state corresponds to the state of man in innocency, before the Fall; the second the state of the natural man after the Fall; the third the state of the regenerate man; and the fourth the glorified man. The fallen state is the only one in question here since this is the predicament we find ourselves: Man is fallen w/o the Holy Spirit, unless Christ regenerates us. Augustine's statement about the fallen man "not able not to sin" is what Reformed protestants mean by man having no free will. Because of his fallen nature he sins of necessity. His will and affections are in bondage untill Christ sets him free. Augustine and the Reformers got this concept from the Bible.

    Consider also that God and the glorified saints are unable to sin -- cannot choose to sin ... their natures make it impossible to do so. Although God has no "freedom" to choose sin and although the glorified saints are not "free" to sin yet we consider them the most free. Why? Because the Bible defines freedom as freedom from sin, not as libertarian free will. Your concept of free will is an imported extra-biblical philosophical concept alien to Scripture.

    And of course I agree with you that pre-fallen Adam was not in bondage to sin, I have no disagreement with you there ... but again the post was about natural man ... the natural man is indeed in bonadage to sin ... and that which is in bondage is not free.

    I would also argue that you are confusing Predestination and meticulous providence. They are different concepts entirely. God gathers' his elect through the preaching of the gospel. He uses means - the preaching of the word and the sacraments to communicate His grace. The question of free will in the Bible has always been related to bondage to sin from which Christ sets us free through the preaching of the word by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1:4, 5).

    Next, the counsel of Orange is what Luther and Calvin pointed back to as evidence that the RCC had abandoned its heritage and chose rather the road of synergism. This counsel was Augustinian and affirmed monergism over synergism and the RCC has abandoned this counsel and Augustine's understanding of grace wholesale. The book by John Calvin The Bondage and Liberation of the Will A Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice Against Pighius quoted the father's extensively and proved beyond doubt that RCC had not only abandoned the Scripture but their own counsels. So with regard to its understanding of grace, unlike RCC, Protestantism can look back at Orange and Augustine in solidarity with them as its own fathers in the faith after the Scripture. Notice that , your favorite quote from Orange does not refer to fallen man, but "after grace has been received"... i.e. talking about regenerate people ... not natural men. Of course we now as regenerate men "have the ability and responsibility" because we are joined to Christ. It is the natural man who does not have the ability. So again your whole argument falls flat.


    Here is an extensive listing of quotes on grace by Augustine which clearly indicate that Protestants are much closer to his understanding of soteriology than RCC:

    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/augustinequotes.html

    Contrary to your comment "The Bible nowhere teaches Christ kept commandments for us".... I believe that Jesus did obey God's commands in order to become become perfect (as a man) and thereby become the source of eternal salvation for us, AND the Scripture unambiguously teaches this in Hebrews 5:

    "In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." (Heb 5:7-10)

    John

    I believe that you are true to Scripture but I also think that you and I or anyone else do not fully understand this subject. We are dead to sin and yet we are told that whosoever comes will be saved. Somehow these two truths cross paths and only God knows how it works.

    "Since you say you are a Roman Catholic I understand that you do not believe Jesus Christ is sufficient to save completely but that man must cooperate with God's grace - synergism - a view completely contrary to Scripture, Augustine and Orange."

    Nick: You've got it exactly backwards. Catholicism, Scripture, Augustine and Orange see cooperation as part of the salvation process and in no way interfering with Christ's Merits. What is flatly unBiblical is the Protestant notion of "Jesus did it all for me," because for something as critical as imputing Christ's righteousness there is not a shred of Scriptural support for it.


    "Free from what, I ask? You obviously did not read the post very carefully. The entire post is about man in his fallen state where he is in bondage to sin."

    Nick: The TITLE of your post is: "Does Man Have a Free Will? And Does Predestination Eliminate Our Will?"
    Nobody except flat out pelagians teach man can save himself by his own power, not even Adam could be saved by his own natural power. So just the fact fallen man is introduced doesn't change my main point at all.

    "If you are a good Augustinian then you should understand the four-fold nature of man. (a) able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare); (b) not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); (c) able not to sin (posse non peccare); and (d) unable to sin (non posse peccare)."

    Nick: Option 'b' is false and contradicts Augustine and Orange (see the anathema I quoted above).


    "The first state corresponds to the state of man in innocency, before the Fall;"

    Nick: True, but without the addition of the Spirit even their good works would not have been pleasing in God's sight.

    "the second the state of the natural man after the Fall;"

    Nick: False. That is a distortion of Augustine, Orange and Scripture.

    "the third the state of the regenerate man;"

    Nick: True, the Baptismally regenerate to be more precise according to Augustine, Orange and Scripture.

    "and the fourth the glorified man."

    Nick: True, but not for the reason you think. Man has free will in Heaven yet unable to sin.

    "The fallen state is the only one in question here since this is the predicament we find ourselves: Man is fallen w/o the Holy Spirit, unless Christ regenerates us."

    Nick: False. Even unfallen Adam required the Holy Spirit. Man never has a claim to Heaven apart from God's enabling grace, and that is most highlighted in the personal Indwelling of the Spirit.

    "Augustine's statement about the fallen man "not able not to sin" is what Reformed protestants mean by man having no free will. Because of his fallen nature he sins of necessity."

    Nick: Sure it's what YOU mean, but neither Augustine nor Scripture ever taught that. Your view of fallen nature is sinful, that his will is by nature bent away from God is Manichean.

    "His will and affections are in bondage until Christ sets him free."

    Nick: It is in bondage, but that is not the same as sinning out of necessity.

    "Augustine and the Reformers got this concept from the Bible."

    Nick: The reformers were not faithful to Augustine nor Scripture. The Council of Orange is Augustinian and yet teachings things incompatible with Reformed theology.

    "Consider also that God and the glorified saints are unable to sin -- cannot choose to sin ... their natures make it impossible to do so."

    Nick: False. Their nature is not changed into something news (ie such that their will is now fixed by nature). It remains the same human nature man has always had. The difference now is that the will is so enlightened that it recognizes the greatest good (God) and freely and always chooses it. That's why the saints cannot sin.

    "Although God has no "freedom" to choose sin and although the glorified saints are not "free" to sin yet we consider them the most free. Why? Because the Bible defines freedom as freedom from sin, not as libertarian free will."

    Nick: You're setting up a false dilemma. God putting chains on the saint's will to keep it upright at all times is not freedom.

    "Your concept of free will is an imported extra-biblical philosophical concept alien to Scripture."

    Nick: The only way you can say this is if you've never read Orange.

    "And of course I agree with you that pre-fallen Adam was not in bondage to sin, I have no disagreement with you there ... but again the post was about natural man ... the natural man is indeed in bonadage to sin ... and that which is in bondage is not free."

    Nick: The title suggested generality, though as I said my claims are not fundamentally altered even if you limited it to fallen man. The fact remains free will and predestination co-exist, and Jesus is the epitome of this realization.

    "I would also argue that you are confusing Predestination and meticulous providence. They are different concepts entirely. God gathers' his elect through the preaching of the gospel. He uses means - the preaching of the word and the sacraments to communicate His grace."

    Nick: Providence and predestination are very closely tied together and could even indistinguishable at times.

    "The question of free will in the Bible has always been related to bondage to sin from which Christ sets us free through the preaching of the word by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 1:4, 5)."

    Nick: Not in the way you are describing it, as a will bent either towards good or evil depending on one's NATURE.

    "Next, the counsel of Orange is what Luther and Calvin pointed back to as evidence that the RCC had abandoned its heritage and chose rather the road of synergism."

    Nick: LOL, have you read Orange??
    CANON 18. That grace is not preceded by merit. Recompense is due to good works if they are performed; but grace, to which we have no claim, precedes them, to enable them to be done.
    CANON 23. Concerning the will of God and of man. Men do their own will and not the will of God when they do what displeases him; but when they follow their own will and comply with the will of God, however willingly they do so, yet it is his will by which what they will is both prepared and instructed.
    Conclusion: According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul.

    THIS IS "GRACIOUS MERIT" of Catholics which is the very "synergism" the Reformed condemn. Synergism is a cuss word only for the Reformed, not for Scripture or Augustine or Orange.

    "This counsel was Augustinian and affirmed monergism over synergism and the RCC has abandoned this counsel and Augustine's understanding of grace wholesale."

    Nick: You've never read Orange. You've been told it's Augustininan and that Catholics abandoned it, but the way you're talking you've never read the whole thing with a fair reading of it.

    "The book by John Calvin The Bondage and Liberation of the Will A Defence of the Orthodox Doctrine of Human Choice Against Pighius quoted the father's extensively and proved beyond doubt that RCC had not only abandoned the Scripture but their own counsels."

    Nick: Quoting the fathers doesn't guarantee orthodoxy any more than any heretic quoting tons of Scripture does. You wont find any Church Fathers teaching the imputed righteousness of Christ nor Penal Substitution nor sinning of necessity nor many of the other errors you presume are Patristic and Scriptural.


    "So with regard to its understanding of grace, unlike RCC, Protestantism can look back at Orange and Augustine in solidarity with them as its own fathers in the faith after the Scripture."

    Nick: I challenge you to make your next blog post as a commentary on each Canon of Orange and it's conclusion. I know you'll find lots of things that dont make sense...because your understanding of the situation is not what Augustine nor Orange had in mind.


    "Notice that , your favorite quote from Orange does not refer to fallen man, but "after grace has been received"... i.e. talking about regenerate people ... not natural men. Of course we now as regenerate men "have the ability and responsibility" because we are joined to Christ. It is the natural man who does not have the ability. So again your whole argument falls flat."

    Nick: Irrelevant to the issue as a whole, nothing I said is radically changed by incorporating what you said.

    "Here is an extensive listing of quotes on grace by Augustine which clearly indicate that Protestants are much closer to his understanding of soteriology than RCC:

    http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/augustinequotes.html"

    Nick: That is a pretty long list of quotes, but glancing over it I didn't see anything incompatible with Catholicism. One issue of grace which Augustine teaches is that not all the justified are given the gift of perseverance and thus fall away (thought by their free will), for example On Rebuke and Grace ch9:
    "If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, 'I have not received,' because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received."

    St Augustine also taught nobody knows if they will persevere or not.


    "Contrary to your comment "The Bible nowhere teaches Christ kept commandments for us".... I believe that Jesus did obey God's commands in order to become become perfect (as a man) and thereby become the source of eternal salvation for us, AND the Scripture unambiguously teaches this in Hebrews 5:
    (Heb 5:7-10)"

    Nick: I always believed Jesus kept God's commands, that is not at all the same as keeping God's commands in our place, nor is it anywhere near a proof of imputing Christ's righteousness.

    Nick:

    It is critical for you to see that your understanding of Jesus is not as a Savior but only as someone who helps us. But the question you must ask yourself is, does Jesus save us or only help us to save ourselves?

    One thing is clear from your post. You do not trust in Jesus Christ alone as Savior and only hope for your salvation but trust in your own moral ability. "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now [trying to be]being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal 3:3) As long as you believe that you are still in the bonds of iniquity and know nothing of Christ or his grace. In your view, of two persons are saved and only one persevered to the end, then it was not Jesus who made them to differ, but something in them.

    Next As for(b) not able not to sin (non posse non peccare);

    You said, Option 'b' is false and contradicts Augustine and Orange (see the anathema I quoted above). Your

    John: Option "b" is Augustine. Do your homework. That is where I found the idea of the four-fold state in the first place. You are seriously confused.

    Next if you believe the quotes from Augustine that I posted as you claim to be you would be a Protestant. RCC simply do not speak like that anymore becauser they are now semi-pelagian.

    Read the passage in Hebrews 5 again. it does plainly teach that his obedience as a human made him a perfect sacrifice and the source of eternal salvation FOR US. ...Obedience made him perfect amd that made him the source of eternal salvation for us. Salvation is by grace through faith and not by works lest you should boast...the very thing you are doing when you claim you are better than others because YOU persevered.

    God has saved us, therefore we do good works. We do not do good works in order to achieve salvation. These are the fruit of God having done a work of grace in our regeneration and union with Christ.

    John

    Carol,

    Yes, only God knows how it works and he has told us in his word. John 3 says that whosover believes the gospel will be saved, yes, but is also says that natural men love darkness and love the light and will not come into the light (John 3:19, 20).

    The apostle in the same passage declares that we must be born again in order to see the kingdom. John 1:13 explains that this new birth is not from our will but of God. Then the same author John in 6:63-65 says that the spirit gives life and the flesh counts for nothing and that no one can believe the gospel unless God grants it. vrs. 37 of the same passage even says that all to whom God grants will believe. No one, and all are a universal positive and a universal negative meaning that only those who God has regenerated will come and all those he regenerates will come.

    So, from the Scriptures we can derive that God indeed calls all men to believe the gospel...but none do because they love darkness and hate the light. All justly deserve condemnation. But God has yet had mercy and has loved his bride, the church form eternity. He by his own sovereign good pleasure, not because of anything in us, chose us and sent Christ to die for us and the Spirit to unite us to him through regeneration. God does this for a particular people whom he has set his affection on, not because of anything he sees in them morally over others.

    So don't believe your pastors if they tell you this cannot be known. God reveals it to us plainly in Scripture.

    blessings

    Interesting, that passage in John. I think you could have also included these words of Jesus Himself just above there in v18: "Whoever believe in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's on and only Son."

    To quote Mark Driscoll, though I don't know if he is quoting someone else:

    "There are only three options:

    1. Satan chooses who has sin forgiven and eternal life granted. That means that NO-ONE receives grace.

    2. Sinners choose who is to be saved. The result is that we all have already chosen. We have chosen sin, we have chosen Satan, we have chosen rebellion, we have chosen death, we have chosen rejection of God, we have chosen to be objects of wrath, we have chosen Hell. Every single human being has chosen, by virtue of sinning you have chosen.

    3. God too would chose, and that God would chose to save some.
    That God would chose, in undeserving, in ill-deserving mercy and grace to save some. Not only that, He would come into human history as Jesus Christ. He would live on this earth in humility to be tempted as we are yet without sin. That He would go to the cross and He would substitute Himself in our place, for our sins, and that our God would die and would Himself endure the penalty and punishment for sin. That He would rise, and give salvation as a gift, not dependant upon pursuing Him, desiring Him, chosing Him or yearning for Him, though He invites us, NONE of us take Him up on that offer.

    And so He pursues us vigilantly, mercifully, compassionately, lovingly, and continually.

    Some of you will say, "This doesn't sound like God is loving." Yet Ephesians 1 says, "in love He predestined us". The predestination IS the love of God in action."

    This comes from a sermon specifically on predestination as part of the "Religion Saves and Nine Other Misconceptions" series that can be found at http://www.marshillchurch.org/media - it changed my entire understanding of the doctrine of predestination. I highly recommend anyone who is truly interested in this issue to go and listen to this talk.

    Argument is moot without reference to scripture. It is a fundamental argument in the nature of salvatory causation. God causes salvation. He always has. We act because we are saved. We do not save because we act. This is as it has been since God clothed Adam and Eve in the garden after they rejected his holy authority-- yet he loved us. This does not throw away the importance of behavior. Our behavior is a indication of our salvation, however not the impetus, means, or supplement to our salvation. The Roman Catholic assumes that because of his behavior he becomes saved. The Paulian believes that because he is saved his behavior is changed, by necessity. If your behavior has not changed paul, among the other NT writers would question your salvation.

    Galatians 3:26-29
    You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    Isaiah 45:24
    "Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness"

    2 Cor. 5:21
    "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might
    be made the righteousness of God in him."

    If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

    Romans 4:2-5
    Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

    Galatians 6:14-15

    May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.

    Romans 6

    David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works

    Jeremiah 23:6
    In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.
    This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.

    Genesis
    Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

    Acts 13:38-39
    Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.

    Galatians 2:21
    I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

    Galatians 3:3-5
    Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

    Galatians 3:13-14
    Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

    Ephesians 2:8-10
    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


    Luke 23:42-43
    Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

    Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

    Few among hundreds of references of God saving man.

    If many of us hear the gospel and some people end up believing and others do not, what makes these people to differ?

    First of all, it is a commandment to believe the gospel. Faith in the gospel isn't a neutral act, but obligatory (eg. Mt. 22:37; John 14:15; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 6). Non-belief isn't neutral, but a sin. Those who hear the gospel but reject it a worse off than before, because they increase their guilt by their unbelief (eg. 2 Peter 2). Unbelief is a sin, because faith is a commandment.

    Believers are righteous. They do the will of God because they believe. Why do they do the will of God? Well, if God be God, obedience to Him is the most fundamental and -equally important- unconditional thing. It has no "because" as a more fundamental ground, because there isn't anything more fundamental. Doing the will of God, loving Him, cannot be accounted for because this would imply a more basic condition. However, there cannot be any more basic condition why someone fulfills God'
    s commandment than simply: because God is God. Here is the bottom of all reasons.

    Now you're saying:
    Are some more natually inclined to the gospel? Are some more wise?

    Those who hear and deliberately stay in unbelief, sin. Why? Why are they sinning anyway? Well, this is equivalent to the question, why Adam sinned. Why did Adam, having 2 options to choose from (The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life) chose to eat from the forbidden tree and sin thereby? This is an equivalent question, because the question, why some persons after hearing the gospel stay in unbelief is wrapped up in the question of sin itself.

    So why don't the reformed never dig really deep to capture the answer why Adam sinned? Then they'd know why people sin today by disbelieving.

    Greetings
    -a helmet

    a helmet,

    The natural man can no more obey the gospel, any more than the law, without renewal of heart.

    Are you asserting that a person can believe the gospel apart from ANY work of the Holy Spirit? (see 1 Thes 1:4,5). God indeed commands us to come to Him but the problem is that unregenerate man is naturally faithless. The reason for this is that he is, by nature, unspiritual (i.e. w/o the Holy Spirit). Consider that God also commands us to obey the ten commandments. So according to your logic we should then all have the moral ability to obey the ten comandements simply because he commands it? If this is the case then what need is there of a Savior? We could simply save ourselves by obeying. How is this view different than pelagianism?

    we cannot grasp spiritual truth without the Holy Spirit to change our heart and illumine our mind. To claim we can do this by nature would be a contradiction, for spirituality is a condition of spiritual understanding. In 1 Cor 2:12 Paul affirms this by writing, "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." ( i.e. the gospel). That is why through the prophet Jeremiah, God makes the promise, "I will heal your faithlessness" (Jer 3:22). With this in mind do you think we can heal our own faithlessness?

    You said, "First of all, it is a commandment to believe the gospel. Faith in the gospel isn't a neutral act, but obligatory"

    I could not agree with you more. To believe the gospel is not neutral ... it requires that the person exercising faith see the truth, the goodness and the excellency of Christ. An unregenrate man, by definition, is morally unable to do this. He needs to have his blind eyes opened and his innate hostility to God disarmed.

    According to your post, what ultimately makes us to differ from unbelievers is the will of natural man, not the grace of God. Our obedience, not God's grace. In other words, Jesus is not our Savior, only someone to help us save ourselves, if we are wise enough. In your view, it all relies on the response of the person ... God rewards some because they make a better choice than others. So God's love for his people is not unconditional, but conditioned on something they do ... whether or not they have enough moral sense to believe.

    But the Bible celarly contradicts this. Yes, God commands us to believe but since we owe a debt we cannot repay, He, mercifully, does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Jesus declares that no man can believe in him UNLESS God grants it (John 6:63-65).

    The Text is plain. Your pelagian view that we are in the same condition as Adam is a view that has long been declared a heretical view by the early church. See the The Canons of the Council of Orange 529 AD:

    CANON 1. If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was "changed for the worse" through the offense of Adam's sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and contradicts the scripture which says, "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:20); and, "Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey?" (Rom. 6:16); and, "For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved" (2 Pet. 2:19).

    CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam's sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12).

    Comment on Nick's words...

    Nick said: "The fact remains free will and predestination co-exist, and Jesus is the epitome of this realization."

    Cam you show anywhere in the Bible that teaches the natural man has a free will? As for Jesus, of course his will is free ... he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and has no sin nature. By definition he is free from the bondage to sin. But fallen men who do not have the Holy Spirit, the Scripture says, cannot understand spiritual truth (1 Cor 2:14) and by nature are hostile to God (Rom 8:7; Col 1:21).

    Hello John,

    Thanks for your response.

    The natural man can no more obey the gospel, any more than the law, without renewal of heart.

    The old law could not be fulfilled by natural man and that is the reason why the new law (faith in the gospel) was put into force. It was meant to replace the old law just because man was unable to keep it. Romans 3,21 is a turning point here. Since natural man deliberately failed to obey the old law, God invoked a new one. So this implies that the new law, the gospel, is different with respect to its satisfiability. Since natural man, with his wicked heart was in constant rebellion, he can now, with his wicked heart fulfill the law of faith. These are the recipients of the grace through the gospel: ungodly men. If the natural, wicked, corrupt man wasn't able to obey the gospel any more than the old law, then why the gospel anyway?

    Are you asserting that a person can believe the gospel apart from ANY work of the Holy Spirit? (see 1 Thes 1:4,5).

    Faith comes by hearing the word of God. The word of God however, conveys the spirit. Thus nobody can believe without the spirit. A plant can grow only where the seed has fallen. But this has nothing to do with the reformed conception of a "renewal of heart" whatsoever.

    God indeed commands us to come to Him but the problem is that unregenerate man is naturally faithless.

    That isn't right. Natural men believe all kinds of things. It is the object of faith that counts. Israel's diligence reveals a sincere faithfulness and commitment. And consider for instance the thorny-ground-believers. They are faithful but mistaken. And again, if man cannot obey the gospel any more than the old law, then why would the Lord of Israel subsitute the old law and command us to obey anyway? Why a new law then, if we couldn't keep it any better?

    The reason for this is that he is, by nature, unspiritual (i.e. w/o the Holy Spirit).

    It is true that nobody can receive the truth of God without hearing the Word (the seed). Put differently, in order to see one needs the light, whithout which natural man is blind. Yet the light of the world came into the world. The seed was sown. It depends on the ground what follows.

    Consider that God also commands us to obey the ten commandments. So according to your logic we should then all have the moral ability to obey the ten comandements simply because he commands it?

    That isn' t right. The ten commandments as part of the old law are wrapped up and fulfilled by the new law of faith. Christ gave us the new commandment to love the brethren. This is no repetition of the ten commandments. Loving the brethren means to show one's faith (eg. James 2:14+18; 1 John 2:4). The ten commandments are over and were never imposed on the gentile world.

    If this is the case then what need is there of a Savior?

    For the deliverance from evil and sin. Everybody needs forgiveness of sin. This doesn't imply that the gospel commandment to believe cannot be kept. Indeed, if the commandment to believe couldn't be kept as you suggest, there would be no salvation and then the question why we need such a savior would really make sense. However, we've been given a gospel that can be obeyed.

    We could simply save ourselves by obeying.

    No, Christ provided 100% of the salvific work for all who believe it. Nobody saves himself to the least degree. Note, the gospel can be stated in short like this:

    Jesus Christ provided 100% salvation for all who believe this statement.

    Now, of course if you believe this statement (the gospel!) to be true then you cannot say you provide the least part of the salvation. Then you wouldn't believe it.
    The reformed confusion is due to the ignorance of whom God saves. God saves the believers and these only. The truth is, if someone doesn't obey the gospel then God has no pleasure in him and doesn't want to save him. Therefore the illustration of a God that begs a deliberate unbeliever to turn to faith, is misleading. Such is never the case. God doesn't intend to save unbelievers therefore the argument that we must "help God to save us", is really a straw man argument. We don't save ourselves. Christ completely saved all believers. So if we don't obey the gospel, then God's purpose is in no way thwarted -- God never purposed to save unbelievers.

    "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." ( i.e. the gospel). That is why through the prophet Jeremiah, God makes the promise, "I will heal your faithlessness" (Jer 3:22). With this in mind do you think we can heal our own faithlessness?

    The spirit who is from God doesn't work secretly. He blesses all who repent and turn to Christ. Faithlessness doesn't mean non-belief. It means non-loyalty. The idea that nobody is able to put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ isn't supported by Jer 3,22 at all. The faithlessness here is actually a summary of Israel's sinfulness. Of course we can't heal that on our own. That's why we have a savior. The reformed misconception of an inability to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is eisegetical.

    "First of all, it is a commandment to believe the gospel. Faith in the gospel isn't a neutral act, but obligatory" I could not agree with you more.

    That's why it is so weird that you claim nobody can believe even though it is a positive commandment. That's odd.

    To believe the gospel is not neutral ... it requires that the person exercising faith see the truth, the goodness and the excellency of Christ.

    He needs to hear and understand the Word of God. If he understands, he'll believe (Mark 4:20).

    An unregenrate man, by definition, is morally unable to do this. He needs to have his blind eyes opened and his innate hostility to God disarmed.

    Well, if you define an unregenerate man to be unable to believe, then you've built a restriction which must be buttressed by the scriptures. However, there is not biblical hint that "unregenerate man is morally unable to have faith". In fact, the phrase "morally unable" is problematic itself. What moral do you need in order to be able to believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

    According to your post, what ultimately makes us to differ from unbelievers is the will of natural man, not the grace of God. Our obedience, not God's grace.

    No. An argumentation like "Why do some believe? -- Because of the will of natural man" is fallacious. That was the focal point I was trying to make. As I said in the previous post, the reason why we believe is because God commands us to do so. There is no more basic reason why someone obeys God, because this is most fundamental. For comparision, note this exemplary dialogue illustrating a layer of reasons:

    Q: Why are you setting your alarm clock?
    A: Because I must get up early in the morming.
    Q: Why do you have to get up early?
    A: Because I've to go to work
    Q: Why do you have to work?
    A: Because I must earn money
    Q: Why must you earn money?
    A: Because I must pay the rent
    Q: Why.....

    By proceeding this reasoning one comes to more and more elementary reasons. The point is clear, if this person didn't have to get up early in the morning, he wouldn't set the alarm. Everything is based on a more elementary reason ("because"). If the more fundamental reason vanishes, the consequence vanishes too. So when it comes to the question: "Why do you obey God by believing the gospel?" then there is no more "because", since this is an unconditional necessity. Because God is God. Here is the bottom of all reasons.

    In other words, Jesus is not our Savior, only someone to help us save ourselves, if we are wise enough.

    Well, here is the phrase "help us save" again that I mentioned above already. This is fallacious, because it actually assumes that we have no idea about whom God intends to save in the first place. It is fallacious because it assumes that God intends to save those who don't believe but stay in deliberate rebellion. Then you end up portraying God as someone who helplessly urges the non-believer to turn to Christ. However, God from eternity past intended to save believers ("in Christ") and believers only! So we do know whom God intends to save. And he does in fact save exactly those whom he intends to save. The scriptures are abundantly clear that God saves believers in the Lord Jesus Christ only.
    Furthermore, in no way do we help Jesus to save us. When Jesus fully and completely saved us, we didn't exist yet. Thus, we can have no part in the work of salvation. Thus, God's eternal purpose isn't thwarted in any way but perfectly fulfilled.

    In your view, it all relies on the response of the person ... God rewards some because they make a better choice than others.

    This again, is a straw man argument. God doesn't reward us because we believe. Our faith is not what motivated God to save us, because you and I didn't exist when God saved us. So he cannot have been motivated by us, therefore the salvific work isn't completed by anything we do now. Believing is not a good choice that in itself merits any reward but is simply an unconditional act of obedience, a matter of course. Believers do what is just and equitable. Would you say that merits anything? On the other hand, God didn't intend to save unbelievers, so He doesn't.

    So God's love for his people is not unconditional, but conditioned on something they do ...

    That isn't right. Note Eph 1:4 "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight In love". You and I didn't exist when God first loved us. Therefore it is unconditional. In the same way, when Jesus Christ sacrificed His life for us, you and I didn't exist either. The 100% work of salvation isn't conditioned on anything we do now. Rather it is a complete past tense work. It is finished. There's nothing to add.

    But the Bible celarly contradicts this. Yes, God commands us to believe but since we owe a debt we cannot repay, He, mercifully, does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

    Are you saying God believes in our place? Does God exercise faith for us? No, he gave us a new commandment because it is not thwarted by the flesh. Obedience to the gospel isn't tackled by the corruption of the flesh as was the old law.

    Jesus declares that no man can believe in him UNLESS God grants it (John 6:63-65).

    That isn't right. He says no man can COME to him unless God grants it. This is in parallel with John 6:37, 44 and 45. Coming to Christ is coming to the lamb's wedding banquet. To eat the bread of life. In order to enter the wedding banquet you need proper clothing -- the righteousnes of God. You get it by faith in the gospel. Neither in v.37, 44, 45 or 65 does the text say "no man can believe".

    The Text is plain. Your pelagian view that we are in the same condition as Adam is a view that has long been declared a heretical view by the early church.

    That isn't right. The text of John 6:35-65 doesn't argue for an unability to believe. Note, since the word "to believe" is abundant in the gospel of John, wouldn't we much more expect to read "nobody can BELIEVE unless it is granted him", instead of "COME" in all these instances in John 6? You're really mistaken. There is no bit of evidence in the scriptures that natural, wicked man is unable to believe in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for his salvation.

    Of course we're not in the same condition as Adam. That doesn't imply we're unable to believe. Note, spiritual death means one cannot know any truth. If one knows no truth, one cannot deny that one can believe. If scripture says spritually dead "Adam" can exercise faith then who are we to deny this? It is up to us to either believe that we can believe, or don't believe that we can believe. I believe the first.

    Greetings
    -a helmet

    Helmut,

    There is a lot to repond to here but I will keep it to one:

    you said Neither in v.37, 44, 45 or 65 does the text say "no man can believe".

    With all due respect, the immediate context of "come to me" in John 6:65 is belief in Christ. Please read it again:

    63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

    Jesus says he knows some do not BELIEVE so tells these unbelievers, "this is WHY I TOLD YOU NO ONE CAN COME TO ME UNLESS God grants it ..." Helmut if you honestly can look at this text and tell me that "come to me" and "faith in Christ" are not the same then we really have no common ground to work from and no discussion. Your interpretation of Jesus's words are blatantly dishonest.

    Likewise verse 37's immediate context is faith in Christ:

    35Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out."

    If you can look at these texts and REJECT the plain meaning of them... that "come to me" refers to faith in Christ, then you are closing your eyes to God's holy word to you. The meaning is so plain, and so obvious that to reject this is quite troubling. I would encourage you to meditate on these texts in context before further making false claims. Put aside your theological system and let the Text speak for itself.

    Shalom
    John

    a helmet

    Faith comes by hearing the word of God. The word of God however, conveys the spirit.

    It appears you are asserting that preaching of the word automatically conveys the Holy Spirit in the same way to all people. But since the Spirit is sovereign, the Bible has many examples to clearly show the word does not convey the Spirit to all people in the same redemptive way:

    1) 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, those who heard 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)

    Clearly some resisted the outward call but the text says only those tribes which the hand of God gave a heart to obey the Word, repented.

    2) Another example is 1 Thess 1:4, 5: "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."

    3) 1 Cor 1:22-25 "...it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. for Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

    Here the message of Christ crucified is preached to all ... and both Jews and Greeks reject it for various sinful reasons, the text says, but then says that only those who are called believe.

    Note that rejecting the gospel is a sin. Therefore faith is a moral choice. You cannot say that rejecting Christ is sinful and then turn around and say receiving Him is not moral, as you have. Therefore your system promotes the idea of merit ... that God saves some over others because they are naturally more moral. God looks down and sees which ones are good based on who has faith in Him. But any such faith which allows for boasting is no better than boasting in works. Saving faith thanks God and gives glory to God even for new heart which has faith.

    Post a comment

    Please enter the letter "o" in the field below: