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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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  • 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.

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  • « Tuesday (and now Thursday) Evening Radio Show | Main | Four-Point Calvinism an Impossible Supposition »

    Grace Unmixed

    Some respond to the doctrine of election by saying "that's not fair!"... Well, that's right. We couldn't agree more. Because if God did what was fair He would let us all go on in our own way to destruction. If God operated on the basis of fairness there would not be a single person reading this today.

    Furthermore, synergists declare that God choose us because he foresaw that we would believe. But if God saw something in us that moved him to choose us (because we had the wisdom, sound judgment, or good sense to believe) then grace is no longer grace. Therefore synergists deny salvation is by grace alone. By grace maybe, but not by grace ALONE. In this case grace would only be necessary but not sufficient.

    Therefore, we thank God for our salvation because we cannot ascribe our believing to our own good sense or wisdom. Even these blessings are a gift of God. Can we thank God for everything else, but not thank Him for the wisdom to believe? Did we find the desire and wisdom to believe from within our own native resources?. If that were the case, God would get most of the glory but not all the glory.

    As a result of this confusion, Arnminian theology cannot honestly declare "Soli Deo Gloria" because it cannot declare "sola gratia"

    The following quote shines further light on this:

    1. Grace is Alone by Definition - Sola Gratia is Redundant!

    There is a sense in which "sola gratia" is redundant! If grace is not "alone" it is not grace! "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Romans 11:6) The grace of God by definition will not admit of any admixture of debt! "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." (Romans 4:4)

    2. Grace is Alone as Sovereign - God Will Not Share His Glory with Another!

    If grace is not sovereign it is not grace, because God will not share His glory with another! "I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." (Isaiah 42:8) "For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another." (Isaiah 48:11) Grace is depicted in Scripture as reigning as a sovereign: “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21) The God of grace is the giver of every good and perfect gift, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jas. 1:17) He actually reigns as the absolute Sovereign, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15) “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14) “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev. 19:16) The nature of His grace is determined by His nature. The grace of a sovereign is sovereign grace, and the grace of God is absolute in its sovereign nature. It cannot be otherwise. Therefore, it is also redundant to describe God's grace by the modifiers "sovereign" or "free". If God's grace is not sovereign, then it is not grace at all. If it is not free, then it is not grace, and it most certainly is not God's grace.

    3. Grace is Alone as Glorious - Pure Unmixed Grace, Sovereign Non-Contingent Grace is Praised by the Redeemed!

    It is only such non-contingent, unmixed, sovereign grace of God that elicits the praise of His people: "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence" (Eph. 1:6-8) Sola Gratia, Soli Deo Gloria,

    John T. “Jack” Jeffery Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel, Greentown, Pennsylvania"

    J. W. Hendryx
    Monergism.com

    Posted by John on May 23, 2011 04:44 PM

    Comments

    But what if God was so loving (as the Bible and history seems to proclaim tirelessly) and He was so powerful, tbat His grace ALONE could actually transform us? What if God is so selfless in his loving that he bestows his holiness on EVERYONE, regardless of who they are, and they have the free will to choose God or not. By Grace we are saved, ALONE, because apart from God we really can do NOTHING. By God's grace we are saved, and not merely a few of us, but Every single person God has made is made for the sole purpose of having the dignity, the "image and likeness" of God, unto the point of receiving God's life within us, sanctifying us. God has the power and the loving nature to be infinitely holy; he is Divine. But he created us for holiness, and that includes all of humanity by the very fact that he MADE us.

    Nate,

    Can you show me where the Bible teaches that man has a free will? You cannot find it and, as such, free will is exposed as an unexamined presupposition. Free will is an assumption that you are reading into the text while it ends up being the controlling principle that determines how you think about God and man and salvation...That is not faithfulness to the biblical text.


    It is nice of you to stop by but this blog, however flawed I may be as a human being... this blog is based on revelation, not based on presumptuous, speculative, unaided ideas about God that spring from our own personal needs.

    Solus Christus
    John

    What? Delete my post? Delete my link? You cannot defend yourself! You cannot respond to Augustine? YOU fail to defend your faith!

    http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1510.htm

    "Now He has revealed to us, through His Holy Scriptures, that there is in a man a free choice of will. But how He has revealed this I do not recount in human language, but in divine. There is, to begin with, the fact that God's precepts themselves would be of no use to a man unless he had free choice of will, so that by performing them he might obtain the promised rewards. For they are given that no one might be able to plead the excuse of ignorance, as the Lord says concerning the Jews in the gospel: If I had not come and spoken unto them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. John 15:22 "

    Reformation theology is pure ignorance. If you can't respond, then change your belief or get off the internet! You have no business being here.

    @Bob,

    Are you declaring that you have the full ability to perfectly obey God precepts with your "free will"? That his purpose in giving them means we have the ability in our fallen state to obey them perfectly? If not then your whole argument is undone.

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

    The apostle Paul would take direct issue with you. Rom 3:20 specifically states: "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." In other words, the purpose of the divine legislation is not to show our ability but our inability. The law condemns us. You are required to keep the whole law or flee to Christ. And you cannot do this apart from grace.

    In other words, your belief is a misrepresentation of the bible and the gospel. You reject salvation by grace alone and are trusting in your own righteousness. So not only should you "get off the Internet", but you should repent and believe the gospel -- that Christ alone saves ... not partly Christ and partly you. Then you should post online. But your current beliefs are dishonoring to God.

    Are you claiming that you can come to Jesus Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit?

    Further, the Bible only teaches monergistic regeneration. Jesus himself teaches Monergistic regeneration. John 6:63-65 & 37. He leaves no room for the human boasting of your position.

    Both Augustine and the Scripture ONLY teach monergism. "John answered,

    'A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.'" - John 3:27

    Do you attribute your repenting
    and believing to your own wisdom, prudence, sound judgment, and good sense? Or to Jesus Christ alone?

    Give God the glory and stop trusting yourself.

    Here are some quotes by Augustine which clearly showed he believed in Monergism as he matured in his faith.... and there are MANY more where that came from...

    "To will is of nature, but to will aright is of grace." - Augustine

    "God bids us do what we cannot, that we may know what we ought to seek from him."- Augustine

    "Grace alone brings about every good work in us."- Augustine

    "Nature is common to all, but not grace."- Augustine

    "The grace of God does not find men fit for salvation, but makes them so."- Augustine

    "The nature of the Divine goodness is not only to open to those who knock. but also to cause them to knock and ask."- Augustine

    "Let God give what he commands, and command what he will."- Augustine

    "Grace does not destroy the will but rather restores it."- Augustine

    "In some places God requires newness of heart [Ezek 18:31]. But elsewherre he testifies that it is given by him [Ezek. 11:19; 36:26]. But what God promises we ourselves do not do through choice or nature; but he himself does through grace."- Augustine

    "Indeed, God requires faith itself of us; yet he does not find something to require unless he has given something to find."- Augustine

    'Can we possibly, without utter absurdity, maintain that there first existed in anyone the good virtue of a good will, to entitle him to the removal of his heart of stone? How can we say this, when all the time this heart of stone itself signifies precisely a will of the hardest kind, a will that is absolutely inflexible against God? For if a good will comes first, there is obviously no longer a heart of stone.' - Augustine

    Then the Counsel of Orange which came out of the Augustine /Pelagius debate clearly show that the early church viewed your position as unbiblical error...

    Council of Orange (529 AD)
    Canons 4-8

    CANON 4. If anyone maintains that God awaits our will to be cleansed from sin, but does not confess that even our will to be cleansed comes to us through the infusion and working of the Holy Spirit, he resists the Holy Spirit himself who says through Solomon, "The will is prepared by the Lord" (Prov. 8:35, LXX), and the salutary word of the Apostle, "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil. 2:13).

    CANON 5. If anyone says that not only the increase of faith but also its beginning and the very desire for faith, by which we believe in Him who justifies the ungodly and comes to the regeneration of holy baptism -- if anyone says that this belongs to us by nature and not by a gift of grace, that is, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit amending our will and turning it from unbelief to faith and from godlessness to godliness, it is proof that he is opposed to the teaching of the Apostles, for blessed Paul says, "And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6). And again, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8). For those who state that the faith by which we believe in God is natural make all who are separated from the Church of Christ by definition in some measure believers.

    CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or 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).

    CANON 7. If anyone affirms that we can form any right opinion or make any right choice which relates to the salvation of eternal life, as is expedient for us, or that we can be saved, that is, assent to the preaching of the gospel through our natural powers without the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who makes all men gladly assent to and believe in the truth, he is led astray by a heretical spirit, and does not understand the voice of God who says in the Gospel, "For apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5), and the word of the Apostle, "Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God" (2 Cor. 3:5).

    CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him "unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3).

    Here is more plain scripture which teaches divine monergism in salvation and again MANY more where that came from....

    "And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." - Deut 30:6

    And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. - Ezek 36:27

    "Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple." - Psalm 65:4

    "He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter replied, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.'" - Matthew 16:15-17

    "John answered, 'A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.'" - John 3:27

    "For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will" - John 5:21

    It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But 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.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me [i.e. believe in me] unless it is granted him by the Father." - John 6:63-65 [All of God's operations in the economy of salvation proceed from the Father, are through the Son, and are executed by the Spirit. No one believes unless God grants it]

    "All that the Father gives to me will come to me" (i.e. believe in me) - John 6:37 [all whom God grants to the Son, believes]

    So placing your advertisements in here for your Pelagian beliefs is not welcome because they are not in the Scripture. Your teaching is exposed as unexamined presuppositions ... assumptions read into the text while it ends up being your controlling principle that determines how you think about God and man and salvation...That is not faithfulness to the biblical text.

    "Are you declaring that you have the full ability to perfectly obey God precepts with your "free will"? That his purpose in giving them means we have the ability in our fallen state to obey them perfectly? If not then your whole argument is undone."

    Nope, not what I said. My free will cannot fulfill the law without God's grace. Grace and free will cooperate. This is what Augustine teaches.

    "Does it follow from: 'turn' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love with all your heart? What do arguments of this kind prove, but the 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power..."

    Nope. God loves us first. With grace I can love my Lord with all my heart. So, even to love god with all my heart, I need grace.

    "The apostle Paul would take direct issue with you. Rom 3:20 specifically states: "For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin." In other words, the purpose of the divine legislation is not to show our ability but our inability. The law condemns us. You are required to keep the whole law or flee to Christ. And you cannot do this apart from grace."

    Ok. That is what I am saying.

    "In other words, your belief is a misrepresentation of the bible and the gospel. You reject salvation by grace alone and are trusting in your own righteousness. So not only should you "get off the Internet", but you should repent and believe the gospel -- that Christ alone saves ... not partly Christ and partly you."

    Nope. Not at all. God gives grace. We are free to accept it or reject it. Hence, free will must cooperate with grace. God certainly acts first, but it up to us to respond or not. Do you imply that man can be saved against his will? Then we are mere robots. Not humans endowed with reason.

    "Are you claiming that you can come to Jesus Christ apart from the work of the Holy Spirit?"

    Nope. For it is Jesus who pours out the Spirit.

    "Further, the Bible only teaches monergistic regeneration. Jesus himself teaches Monergistic regeneration. John 6:63-65 & 37. He leaves no room for the human boasting of your position."

    Who's boasting here? Me or you? Who made you the authority on what the Bible says? If you are so enlightened....You didn't determine what books make up the Bible.

    "And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." John 6:65.

    But, Jesus also says, no one goes to Father except through me. Let your finite mind figure that one out.

    Monergism is not in the Bible. You didn't decide what books belong in the Bible. That belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. Let me put it another way. The Roman Church put the Bible together. This is no dispute here. The Bible is the inspired word of God. Again, no dispute. So, let's see....God inspires the Roman Catholic Church to put the Bible together. The Bible is the inspired word of God. Yet, God did not give the Catholic Church the authority to interpret the Bible? He gave it to YOU! Where do you get your authority. Get off the Internet!

    "Do you attribute your repenting
    and believing to your own wisdom, prudence, sound judgment, and good sense? Or to Jesus Christ alone?

    Give God the glory and stop trusting yourself."

    As I said, I attribute all to God. And I, by my free will, chose to cooperate with His Grace, and not reject it. It is you who wash only the outside of the cup, but God washes also the inside.

    As for the rest of your argument, You do realize that Augustine was Catholic....don't you? Why do you pervert his teaching?

    Bob,

    First you ask me to defend my position but then (out of the other side of your mouth) you tell me that I have no right to defend it because I do not follow the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church ... wow ...That's awfully convenient for you. :)

    Yes Augustine and the early counsels do actually affirm my position, and reject yours as my quotes above AMPLY supply. You reject both the Bible and his teaching - only affirm his early Manichean teaching.

    No one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it (John 6:65) and All to whom God grants it will believe (John 6:37)

    Honest question: If God gives a prevenient grace to all, then why do you believe the gospel and not others? Why do you to differ in your response. Grace or something else?

    Bob

    You said, "As for the rest of your argument, You do realize that Augustine was Catholic....don't you? Why do you pervert his teaching?"

    I did not pervert anything. I quoted him directly. The Roman Catholic church rejects Augustine's and Orange's teaching on grace. Only the Reformation revitalized it. Not by perverting it but by directly quoting it. It is the RCC which has deteriorated into semi-pelagianism -- completely contrary to the teaching or the early church I directly quoted above.

    I did what you asked by plainly answering your every charge and you reject it, not because you can prove me wrong, but because you are emotionally attached to your position.

    The Bible so overwhemingly teaches monergism over synergism that I would encourage you to ask God to show you if you are wrong. I do so all the time ... If you are honest you will do so too.

    Solus Christus
    John

    I have asked you to try and defend your position from a point of human reason. In searching for Truth, there can be no conflict between faith and reason. Your error is that you do not realize that Faith resides in Reason. Just as Hope resides in the imagination and Love resides in the will.

    Nice try to avoid my question. It is exactly what I said it is. Are we to believe that the inspired Word of God, the Bible....God inspired theCatholic Church to put it together and then did not give them the "inspiration" to interpret it? We had to wait 1,000 years for God to raise up Martin Luther and John Calvin, who on their own authority, deleted books from Sacred Scripture and added words on their own authority....like "faith alone."? We are to believe that? God decieved us for 1,000 years? Not!

    I am merely pointing out that if you wish to cite Augustine as an authority for your position, that you must also acknowledge that Augustine was CATHOLIC, (BIG C)....but your interpretation of his writings is not. What? The Catholic Church misinterpreted the writings of Catholic Augustine, but YOU have not? Ridiculous.

    In an honest response to your honest question...I am not sure what you are asking. Can you rephrase or be more specific?

    WHAT? With a Capital W! The Roman Catholic Church "rejects" Augustine's teaching on grace?!!!!

    You do not know what the Church teaches. You do realize that Augustine is St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church. The Catholic Church.

    Bob

    Again, here is just Canon 6 of the of Orange (529 AD)

    CANON 6. If anyone says that God has mercy upon us when, apart from his grace, we believe, will, desire, strive, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, or knock, but does not confess that it is by the infusion and inspiration of the Holy Spirit within us that we have the faith, the will, or the strength to do all these things as we ought; or 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 [NO SYNERGISM HERE], 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).

    Likewise Augustine said, "In some places God requires newness of heart [Ezek 18:31]. But elsewhere he testifies that it is given by him [Ezek. 11:19; 36:26]. But what God promises we ourselves do not do through choice or nature; but he himself does through grace."- Augustine

    Romans 8:30 "...those whom he called he also justified." According to this passage, how many of those that God called were justified?

    Like you , we do not believe that true Christians only existed after the 1500s. We claim the history of the church as much as you do. Therefore, so what if Augustine was Catholic with a capital "C". That is irrelevant. He taught many things the RCC now plainly reject. Trent also plainly contradicts what was taught in Orange. We embrace what the Catholic church taught in the time of Augustine and the Council of Orange (529 AD). It is YOU and your apostate church that re-introduced semi-pelagianism, corrupting the good that was accomplished. Augustine so overwhelmingly embraced monergism that it is shameful to maintain he did otherwise. I can provide you with mountains of evidence. But I can tell you are not interested. You are only interested in protecting the RCC and boasting in your "free will" at the expense of the plain words of Augustine and Scripture, which both teach otherwise.

    Synergists teach that 'salvation depends on human will', but the Bible teaches that 'it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." (Rom 9:16)

    Salvation is by Christ alone, not Christ plus your efforts, merits, will or goodness. These come as a result of grace, not the cause. Your wisdom and heart to even have the faith to believe in Christ is itself a gift of God (Eph 2:8, 9), not something you came up with on your own and not even in sharing the glory with God for it. He gets ALL the glory.

    The question I was asking you was this. Why do you believe the gospel and not your neighbor down the street who also heard the gospel but rejects Christ? Not "what" you did but WHY do you believe and not him? Did you have more wisdom than he? was your judgment more sound?

    "Now He has revealed to us, through His Holy Scriptures, that there is in a man a free choice of will. But how He has revealed this I do not recount in human language, but in divine. There is, to begin with, the fact that God's precepts themselves would be of no use to a man unless he had free choice of will, so that by performing them he might obtain the promised rewards. For they are given that no one might be able to plead the excuse of ignorance, as the Lord says concerning the Jews in the gospel: If I had not come and spoken unto them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. John 15:22 "

    Now I have quoted Augustine directly.

    Are you trying to say that God just goes around "zapping" people? "This one I choose, this one I do not choose?" If so, then there is nothing for anyone to do. One is either chosen or he is not. Doesn't matter then what one believes or not. If one has faith or not. If one loves or not. People then have an excuse before the Judge...."You did not choose me...You did not give me Your grace...." This is exactly the argument Augustine makes in favor of free will, which I quoted above.

    No, no, no. Jesus died for all men, not just some. God does not just Zap people. You seem to want to make the argument that it is either or. Either we are zapped or we are not. Do you not think that there is an action (grace) and our response (reaction) so that grace and the human will cooperate? Otherwise you must admit that a Good God creates souls destined to hell. That He intentionally withholds his grace from some. Then they have an excuse.

    Bob

    Are you serious? You already quoted that --- one quote? but there are an OVERWHELMING number of Augustine quotes and whole books which amply contradict this one statement. Your isolated quote is nothing compared to the mountains of quotes where he teaches otherwise... especially as he grew more mature in his outlook. Truly Bob ... you are not being honest about this.

    Are you not even going to respond to Orange?

    Here are just a few more Augustine with references - Read them carefully .....

    The kind of teaching we are talking about is spoken of by the Lord when He says: ‘Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me’ (Jn.6:45). So if someone does not come to Christ, we cannot correctly say of him, ‘he has heard and learned that he ought to come to Christ, but he is not willing to do what he has learned.’ It is indeed absolutely improper to apply such a statement to God’s method of teaching people by grace. For if, as the Truth says, ‘Everyone who has learned comes,’ it follows, of course, that whoever does not come has not learned. But who can fail to see that a person’s coming or not coming is by the choice of his will? If a person does not come to Christ, he has simply made his choice not to come. But if he does come, it cannot be without assistance — such assistance that he not only knows what it is he ought to do, but actually does what he knows.

    And so, when God teaches, it is not by the letter of the law, but by the grace of the Spirit. Moreover, He teaches so that whatever a person learns, he not only sees it with his perception, but also desires it with his choice, and accomplishes it in action. By this method of divine instruction, our very choosing itself, and our very performance itself, are assisted, and not merely our natural ‘capacity’ of willing and performing. For if nothing but this ‘capacity’ of ours were assisted by this grace, the Lord would have said, ‘Everyone that has heard and learned from the Father may possibly come to Me.’ This, however, is not what He said. His words are these: ‘Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.’ [again no possibility of synergism here]

    Now Pelagius says that the possibility of coming lies in our nature. Or as we even found him attempting to say some time ago, it lies in grace (whatever that may mean according to him), as when he says, ‘grace assists our capacity of coming to Christ.’ But he holds that our actual coming to Christ lies in our own will and act. Now just because a person may come to Christ, it does not follow that he actually comes, unless he has also willed and acted to come. But everyone who has learned from the Father not only has the possibility of coming, but actually comes! And in this result are already included the use of the capacity, the affection of the will, and the effect of the action.

    On the Grace of Christ and Original Sin, 1:27


    Since these things are so, everything that is commanded to human beings by the Lord in the holy Scriptures, for the sake of testing human free will, is either something we begin to obey by God’s goodness, or is demanded in order to show us our need of grace to do it. Indeed, a person does not even begin to be changed from evil to good by the first stirrings of faith, unless the free and gratuitous mercy of God produces this in him…. So, therefore, we should think of God’s grace as working from the beginning of a person’s changing towards goodness, even to the end of its completion, so that he who glories may glory in the Lord. For just as no-one can bring goodness to perfection without the Lord, so no one can begin it without the Lord.

    Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, 2:23

    ‘Can we possibly, without utter absurdity, maintain that there first existed in anyone the good virtue of a good will, to entitle him to the removal of his heart of stone? How can we say this, when all the time this heart of stone itself signifies precisely a will of the hardest kind, a will that is absolutely inflexible against God? For if a good will comes first, there is obviously no longer a heart of stone.’

    Augustine, On Grace and Free Will, 29

    ‘For we are now speaking of the desire for goodness. If they want to say that this begins from ourselves and is then perfected by God, let them see how they can answer the apostle when he says, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God” (2 Cor. 3:5)’

    Augustine, Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, 2:18

    Bob:

    You asked, "Are you trying to say that God just goes around "zapping" people? "This one I choose, this one I do not choose?"

    Are you saying that God did not know who the elect in Christ were prior to creating them? That God was ignorant of each man's future? If he knew who would be saved prior to creating them then it could not have been otherwise.

    No he does no zap people. He knew and loved them from eternity. And although they rebelled against him, he saved them anyway, in spite of themselves. If your child runs our into the street, do you, as a good parent, give him free choice to be hit by the car OR do you run out into the street at the risk of your life, scoop up the child to MAKE CERTAIN the child is safe. if you love your child, it is the later. What loving parent would worry about violating their child's will at this point? The parent ALWAYS knows better than the child what is good for him.

    You asked, "Do you not think that there is an action (grace) and our response (reaction) so that grace and the human will cooperate?"

    Like the Bible teaches, all deserve eternal destruction. He is not under obligation to save anyone. But yet still has mercy on many. Left to themselves no one would believe the gospel (1 Cor 2:14). He gives us the Spirit that we might believe.

    This is called mercy. We should therefore pray,

    "God, Violate my will thoroughly today. Just rip it to shreds and do what you want. Overcome my stubbornness, overcome my rebellion, change my rotten mind, bend my corrupt will, purify my tainted, poisoned affections."

    As Augustine said, "Let God give what He commands, and command what He will."

    I must end our conversation here. Have work to do. I pray for you Bob tat the Lord grant that your eyes be opened to give all glory to him not only for the grace that is necessary to believe but for the grace that is sufficient and efficient to believe. Jesus is not only necessary but sufficient.. providing everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe. DO you thank God for everything except for your faith? Is that something you came up with on your own?

    Solus Christus
    John

    "The question I was asking you was this. Why do you believe the gospel and not your neighbor down the street who also heard the gospel but rejects Christ? Not "what" you did but WHY do you believe and not him? Did you have more wisdom than he? was your judgment more sound?"

    Let me answer this way. In the Catholic Church, there is no contradiction in the faith. All is in harmony with what I have from grace, my reason, my faith, my imagination, my hope, my will and my love. Obviously, your position is not harmonious, since you cannot answer my questions...but the Church can. And since there can be no opposition in Truth, especially between faith and reason, I cannot accept your position unless you can explain it.

    Let me put it another way..."...the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth." - 1 Timothy 3:15

    Now, Scripture itself does not say that the Bible is the "pillar and foundation" of truth, but the church is. What church would that be? Yours? Where was your church at the time this was written or incorporated into Scripture? It did not even exist! You seem to view the Catholic Church as somehow corrupted. Then you make Jesus a liar, because certainly the gates of hell have prevailed against it. - cf: Matthew 16:18

    All I can say about your interpretation of Augustine is that his writings are certainly in conformity with what the Church teaches...it is your interpretation of them which is not.

    Ok, thanks for the chat. Don't work too hard.

    Any church which does not trust in Christ alone is no church at all. The true church has always been and continues to exist.

    Yes, thanks for your time.

    Shalom
    john

    Sorry...

    I know we already ended our conversation but, something just occurred to me.

    How is it that Adam fell from grace unless by free will? How is it that Lucifer, "the Light-Bearer", fell from grace except by his free will? Free will can hinder grace? I think so. Free will must cooperate with grace. If their wills were not free, then how could a Good God permit them to fall? And could not a reversal of their wills, aided by grace, cause them to turn back to God? I think so. It is a dynamic operation. But one can hardly believe that free will ceased to exist because of sin. Damaged, yes. But to cease to exist, no. Otherwise, man could never really repent. It would be impossible.

    OK, thanks again. I am out.

    "Are you not even going to respond to Orange?"

    I will respond in this way.

    How is it that you recognize the authority of the Councils of Orange, but not the authority of the Council of Trent? Do you not reject Trent out of your own free will?

    If Orange has authority, then so does Trent. So does Vatican I and Vatican II. Or then you must explain how or rather when God withdrew this authority from the Church. In which case, the gates of hell have prevailed against it, as stated above...which is contrary to Scripture. Either one has to accept all the Councils (ie. Catholic) or none of them. We cannot pick and choose of our own free will...or can we?

    cf: -Numbers 12:2

    Sorry, I know you're gone...but you see, it is things, questions, like these that haunt me and why I cannot be Protestant. As long as I accept all the Councils, then there is no conflict. But how can one be expected to embrace one and reject another? On what basis? This one has authority, then, this other one does not?

    Bob

    The very fact that you believe in the need for grace means that you also believe man has no free will. For what need has man of grace AT ALL, if his will is already free from the bondage to sin? You yourself acknowledged above that you believe in the necessity of grace. Why does he need grace? What is the condition of man without it? Jesus says it is slavery. So if you believe in the need for ANY grace prior to salvation you reject free will, by definition. No one here believes we are coerced by God to sin .. no but the natural man makes sinful choices of necessity, due to the fall.

    Next Adam and Eve were not in bondage to sin prior to the fall. So your question is quite irrelevant to the issue. Your question appears to profoundly misunderstand the Bible's teaching on freedom. Jesus said those who sin are slaves to sin.

    Paul said, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot."

    and

    "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

    Do you understand, to embrace spiritual truth you must be spiritual. Grace is necessary or we remain in bondage to sin. No one can come to Jesus unless God grants it (John 6:65). Otherwise if he leaves us to our own boasted free will we would ALWAYS reject Christ.

    GRACE is necessary because our will is in bondage to sin. Rom 9:16 says, "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."


    Thanks for your response...I think?

    But, it is ultimately illogical.

    "The very fact that you believe in the need for grace means that you also believe man has no free will. (No, not necessarily. I believe man has both). For what need has man of grace AT ALL, if his will is already free from the bondage to sin? (You mean like Adam before the Fall? Adam did not then need grace?) You yourself acknowledged above that you believe in the necessity of grace. (Yes) Why does he need grace? What is the condition of man without it? (Innocent with grace, like Adam before the Fall, or guilty after the Fall without it). Jesus says it is slavery. (OK) So if you believe in the need for ANY grace prior to salvation you reject free will, by definition. (No, because my position is that free will must cooperate with grace or reject it). No one here believes we are coerced by God to sin (So then you must admit Adam has free will!). no but the natural man makes sinful choices of necessity, due to the fall. (Or maybe it is that because of a bad choice of man's free will, he loses that grace which he has, like Adam).

    "Next Adam and Eve were not in bondage to sin prior to the fall. (So they were in a state of Grace). So your question is quite irrelevant to the issue. (Not) Your question appears to profoundly misunderstand the Bible's teaching on freedom. (A-hem) Jesus said those who sin are slaves to sin." (OK, with grace we are free, without it in bondage. The question is of course how do we regain grace after we have, by our own free will, lost it...isn't it?)

    If you do not believe this (my position), then you must erroneously believe that either God withdrew his grace from Adam and therefore desired Him to fall, or that there is some defect in grace which Adam had before his fall which allowed him to fall! Neither of these will you admit to believing! The must be something else involved. Therefore, my question is quite, quite relevant! Why then, or how can it be, that Adam fell from grace, just like Lucifer! The answer is FREE WILL.

    Is Adam's Fall his fault? (Yes. Certainly not because God withdrew grace or desired the Fall). Is it Satan's fault alone? (Could not Adam have resisted Satan before his fall when he was in a state of grace?) Are both culpable? Or did God will him to fall (commit sin)? None of this is tenable by your own statements. Your theology is senseless, with all due respect.

    This is why I am, what I am. You and Reformation Theology cannot answer these questions with your theology. But, my Church can.

    Thanks again. Have a good one.

    Bob,,

    Augustine argued that there are four states, which are derived from the Scripture, that correspond to the four states of man in relation to sin: (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.

    Apparently, you really did not read my post carefully enough....Let me say it as plainly as possible... The concept that the natural man has no free will is ONLY the condition of man AFTER the fall of man. What Augustine referred to as (not able not to sin or non posse non peccare). Prior to the fall ADAM was not in bondage to sin (able to sin, able not to sin, posse peccare, posse non peccare). his choice was unencumbered by a sin nature. This should be obvious? This is what all good Augustinians believe. So your argument about Adam has no place in this conversation because we agree on his condition. But we appear to disagree on how Augustine characterized the condition of man after the fall. I agree with him that fallen man is NOT ABLE NOT TO SIN. In other words he has no free will. This is what I mean by no free will because he sins of necessity. I mean nothing more by it.

    Further, I would argue that even if you believe that man must work together with God's grace, your belief in the need for grace (cooperative or not) MEANS you have the same view of free will as I do. Consider, what do you say of the person who has no grace, those who Augustine characterized as "non posse non peccare". Is he free to believe or is his inclination to sin so great that he won't believe? Again, I agree with Augustine here. Is there a time when natural men have no grace in your theology, or do men always have grace? If there is any time he does not have grace, that is the condition where people have no free will but are in bondage to the corruption of their fallen nature.

    Again, To say man has no free will, ONLY refers to the condition of man without God's grace or the Holy Spirit, after the fall.

    So, if you acknowledge that there is any time people are void of grace, we have already together determined man in this state, has no free will. BUT That is not the issue where we differ. Where we differ is in the nature of God's grace - whether it is effectual or resistible.

    Augustinians have always believed that grace is effectual. That if any are to be saved God must renew our hearts.

    JWH

    Thanks for your response and your patience.

    Just a few points, if I may. Perhaps we are getting somewhere?

    If, as you say, the state of Adam before his fall was that he had the ability to sin or not sin...You still do not account for the reason of his fall.

    For, as I stated, before the Fall Adam was in a state of Grace. Or do you wish do imply that Adam did not need grace prior to the Fall, ie. that he was created without grace and was still pleasing to God? Or that God only created Grace after the Fall...as a result of an action (need) or consequence of man? I do not think you wish to say this.

    So, the question I put to you was, since Adam before the fall was in a state of grace, do attribute his fall to God? ie. some defect in grace? Or God withdrew His grace in order to permit him to fall...that's not Biblical. Remember, God did not create death (sin). The reason, I am stating therefore, is that Adam can only have fallen because of his free will, not of God's will or any defect in grace. Otherwise, Adam has an excuse before God. Not what Augustine says in "Grace and Free Will" which I linked to.

    Grace perfects the free will of man (turns him to God) and the loss of grace (turning away from God) does not completely destroy it.

    Continuing on....

    "Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow...IF YOU ARE WILLING, AND OBEY, you shall eat the good things of the land; BUT IF YOU REFUSE AND RESIST, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the Lord has spoken!" - Isaiah 1:18-20

    Do you not see free will in this passage? AFTER, the fall. This is the 2nd state. Free will is still there, although still a slave to sin. Slaves wish (will) to be freed, if they are or they aren't.

    If as you wrote: Prior to the fall ADAM was not in bondage to sin (able to sin, able not to sin, posse peccare, posse non peccare). his choice was unencumbered by a sin nature. This should be obvious? This is what all good Augustinians believe.

    His choice (to sin or not to sin unencumbered by a sin nature), and I emphasize your word CHOICE, certainly can only mean free will.

    If you wish to say that after the Fall, man is not able not to sin (at least without grace, 3rd state), this in no way negates a free will in man. You are assuming that no man chooses to sin. I think some men do. Adam did. I argue that Adam chose to sin before the fall and chose to repent after the fall. After his fall, he still had a free will. His sin did not destroy his desire (will) to return to a state of grace with God, although he could not accomplish this without God and grace.

    Yes, there is a time in my theology that men are without grace, but this does not mean that God, All Merciful, does not continue to offer it to them! It appears to me that your theology says that God only gives His grace to some and not to others. (So some still have the excuse). I think God "causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." - Matthew 5:45

    Some final thoughts, if I may....

    This 3rd state of which you speak, the state of regenerate man (restored in grace), "able not to sin" - In no sense can this be taken to mean that he cannot still sin. For if it did, then man would be already "unable to sin", your 4th state, which is the state of the glorified. Since man is not yet glorified, I don't think you wish to say this and your argument fails.

    So regenerated man can still sin, regain grace, lose it again. You must admit. The only reason is his free will, which either cooperates with grace or refuses it. "The Just Man falls 7 times a day." This is no way implies any defect in grace.

    In time, things take time. Although God may have already forgiven a sin, as in the case of David, the effect of the sin can still remain, ie. the child died. Perfectly Scriptural. A nail (sin) hammered into a board (soul), even when removed (forgiven), still leaves a hole in the wood (the effect).

    "Where we differ is in the nature of God's grace - whether it is effectual or resistible." Obviously, it is both.

    So I believe my statements are perfectly in accordance with Scripture and with correct understanding.

    Once this is accepted by one's reason, all is in harmony and "Grace Alone" or "Once saved always saved" can only crumble. That's why I am what I am. Above you asked for some Scriptural references showing fallen man has free will. I have provided a few. There are many more.

    Your blog...I'll give you the last word...I don't have anything else to say. Thanks again for the discussion. Peace.

    Bob

    It appears like you are not quite understanding what I am saying. All Monergists affirm that man makes voluntary choices. always have.

    I am not defining "free will" in a philosophical sense, but a biblical and historical one. i.e. fallen men are slaves to sin. Slaves are not free but in bondage. Augustine's description of the person after the fall >> not able not to sin (non posse non peccare). This is what it means to have no free will. His will is free from coercion yes, but not free from necessity... ie. he sins of necessity due to a corruption of nature.

    The debate in the church on the the will has always been this. Calvin and the Roman Catholic Pighius was about bondage to sin, not whether people can make choices at all.

    ....man has choice and that it is self-determined, so that if he does anything evil, it should be imputed to him and to his own voluntary choosing. We do away with coercion and force, because this contradicts the nature of the will and cannot coexist with it. We deny that choice is free, because through man’s innate wickedness it is of necessity driven to what is evil and cannot seek anything but evil. And from this it is possible to deduce what a great difference there is between necessity and coercion. For we do not say that man is dragged unwillingly into sinning, but that because his will is corrupt he is held captive under the yoke of sin and therefore of necessity will in an evil way. For where there is bondage, there is necessity. But it makes a great difference whether the bondage is voluntary or coerced. We locate the necessity to sin precisely in corruption of the will, from which follows that it is self-determined.

    You said, "Free will is still there, although still a slave to sin.

    this is a contradictory statement. free from external coercion yes but not free from necessity... as Augustine said of fallen man ...he is not able not to sin. if he cannot do otherwise then he is not free until Christ sets him free.

    34Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father....Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God."

    Bob I would encourage you to do this. When you debate someone from another viewpoint, find out what they really believe and debate the real thing. It will save a lot of time. You appear to have derived your understanding of Reformed theology from secondary sources or from your own imagination without taking the time to understand it and have badly misrepresented it and carry that same caricature into your discussions. While you still may reject it after knowing what it really says, but it will make for better discussions that are based on reality, not fiction.

    I have one word for both of you, Molinism. Free will, sovereignty, and Catholic to boot!

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