[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Question for Calvinists: Was Balaam Regenerate?

This is a sincere question for Calvinists. I would really like to know their answer. Was Balaam regenerate?

The reason I ask is that Calvinists frequently quote 1 Corinthians 2:14

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

They use this verse to argue that a man cannot receive spiritual truth until he is regenerate.

It seems clear that Balaam did in fact receive things of the Spirit of God and was able to know them. He understands that he cannot curse Israel outside of God's will and receives several prophesies.

So would Calvinists understand Balaam to be a regenerate man? I would really like to know.

Matthew

24 Comments:

  • Matthew, how can one be born again without the Holy Spirit?

    By Blogger Jim, at Saturday, March 04, 2006 11:36:00 AM  

  • Jim, you cannot be born-again without the Holy Spirit. Did I imply that you could?

    My question relates to the Calvinist doctrine that regeneration precedes conversion.

    I am not sure how they can use 1 Cor 2:14 to support that position without maintaining that Balaam was regenerate. But I shall let them answer.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, March 04, 2006 11:39:00 AM  

  • Yes, I would like to hear the logic behind this one too.

    God bless,
    Jim

    By Blogger Jim, at Saturday, March 04, 2006 1:45:00 PM  

  • Thanks for visiting, Jim.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, March 04, 2006 2:03:00 PM  

  • I'm not a calvinist so i wouldn't count, but i wanted to leave you a comment. I think that even calvinist's still have some good things to say about the Word even if I don't agree with their Calvinistic views. I am reading a book right now who is a 5point Calvinist and it has opened my eyes to somethings and allowed me to actually feel free In Christ. Sorry that wasn't about your post Matt.

    By Blogger Dorothy, at Saturday, March 04, 2006 2:29:00 PM  

  • Dorothy, thanks for visiting.

    I do agree with you that many Calvinists have some great things to say.

    Could I ask the author you are reading? James Kennedy?

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matt

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, March 04, 2006 2:34:00 PM  

  • Matthew,

    You raise a good question, and Jim you raise a related issue that used to give me trouble when I believed like you did regarding the Holy Spirit and regeneration in the OT. I have a very busy next couple days so I will not be able to continue the discussion much after this comment. And I don’t expect one comment to convince you, but I thought I would a least try to show you how we see it even thought you may not agree with it.

    First of all the Holy Spirit was very active in the Old Testament. When He “comes” in the New Testament it was not like He had never been here. If you grab a concordance and do a search for “Spirit” or “Spirit of God” in the OT and you will find many references to Him as I’m sure you already know. In fact, all of the prophets prophesied because of Him.

    2Pe 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

    But how does this speak of his involvement in regeneration in the old testament? This is answered when Paul in Romans begins speaking of who the true Jews were. He says…

    Rom 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    The true Jews were never just those who were of national Israel but those who have been circumcised in the heart. Those whose hearts loved God. Now how did they end up that way did they do it themselves, or did God have to do it?

    Deu 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart,

    According to this verse it is something the Lord does, and without the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit doing it, I’m not sure how this could have been done. Especially since the heart of man is wicked. The Calvinist tends to see circumcision of the heart as regeneration. I know you may disagree but this is how we see it.

    Now on to Matthew’s question. First we do not see Balaam as regenerate. But even unregenerate men and woman can do Godly things, even though without faith God takes no pleasure in them.

    Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him:

    I’m not sure of your take on Judas, but we see him doing God’s work as one of the 12 and not being regenerated. We also see Jesus speak of many who have done miracles in His name and He will say, depart I never knew you.

    How does all of this fit into the Corinthians passage you site?

    When the passage speaks of not being able to "know," or "understand," we have to realize in what sense those words are being used. First of all they are not being used in the sense of “to comprehend” because if they can’t comprehend it how could it be foolishness to them. Not to mention many people know what we mean when we say Jesus died for our sins. In one sense they understand it, but in another they reject it. This is because they don’t really understand it in another sense. John Gill puts it this way…

    “[A]t most he can only know the literal and grammatical sense of them, or only in the theory, notionally and speculatively, not experimentally, spiritually, and savingly.”

    I hope that helps you see how we deal with those issues.

    Have a blessed Lord's day tomorrow,

    Doug

    By Blogger Doug E., at Saturday, March 04, 2006 3:07:00 PM  

  • Interesting question, Matthew.

    By Blogger H K Flynn, at Saturday, March 04, 2006 4:47:00 PM  

  • Thanks, Jodie.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 1:33:00 AM  

  • Thanks for answering, Doug.

    It does seem to me however, that Balaam was able to comprehend such truths as were revealed to him. And they certainly were not foolishness to him.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 1:35:00 AM  

  • Wow. Good point. I guess the natural man receiveth the things of the Spirit of God after all. Silly old Paul.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 6:42:00 AM  

  • Anon, very constructive.
    So how was Balaam able to receive spirtual things? Was he regenerate or does the Holy Spirit give some enlightenment outside of Regeneration?

    Was Paul saying that the natural man can never receive spiritual things or is this just his geneneral condition without the aid of the Holy Spirit?

    BTW, it would be nice to know who you are.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 6:53:00 AM  

  • I don't know if Balaam was regenerate. Only God knows. Throughout the Old and New Testaments Balaam's sin is held out as one that charactizes the unregenerate, and one to avoid at all costs. But only God really knows Balaam's status.

    I do not agree with your premise that Balaam was able to receive spiritual things in the sense of 1 Cor 2:14.

    Balaam had clear instructions from God not to give the Moabite emissaries the time of day, yet he did. Outright disobedience of the Spirit of God...

    When his donkey saved his life from the angel, Balaam didn't understand what the problem was. He didn't understand that his motives and black heart were the problem. He didn't have a clue. He thought that his "gift" was something to gain profit from. He thought God was something to be exploited for monetary gain. He was hoping to find a loophole that would result in him getting rich. He did not show any spiritual discernment whatsoever.

    When Balaam tried to curse Israel, he couldn't and God turned it into a blessing, but the fact remains that Balaam wanted and tried to curse Israel on several occasions. These aren't the actions of a man who was receiving and comprehending and being illumined or regenerated by the Spirit.

    When Balaam finally figured out how to nail the Israelites by seducing them with idolatry and immorality, he was just acting the way he had always acted. He was trying to get revenge on the Israelites, or trying to earn payment from the Moabite king, or both. These were his motives and these were his goals the whole way along.

    Just because the Spirit of God spoke through Balaam does not mean that he received the the things of the Spirit of God. They were most definitely foolishness unto him. He did not know them, because if he had, he wouldn't have worked against them continually.

    So... It seems clear that Balaam never understood the things of God. He was a natural man during these times.

    By Blogger BugBlaster, at Sunday, March 05, 2006 10:45:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    Another example of God speaking through someone I believe was unregenerate was in John 11:47-52. Here the high priest,Caiaphas, even prophecied about Christ having to die for the nation and so on. IMO it would seem that God here used an unregenerate vessel to accomplish His ends. Was Caiaphas a believer at this point or an enemy? Clearly, he was an enemy of Christ.

    IMO, 1Cor.2:14, in it's context is to be considered in light of verse 9-10,12. Then the thought moves to verse 16 "But we have the mind of Christ". Christians, because of the Holy Spirit have that mind of Christ whereas the world, the "natural man does not. But, evidently, the case of Balaam you sighted and my observation of Caia. were occasions of God speaking through and using unregenerate men. Keep in mind, He also spoke through the donkey.

    Mark

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Monday, March 06, 2006 7:54:00 AM  

  • Mark and BB, thankyou for your responses.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, March 06, 2006 8:17:00 AM  

  • Matthew, same to you!

    By Blogger BugBlaster, at Monday, March 06, 2006 8:43:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I respect you because of your honesty and integrity. You are a very, very well read man- more so than I.

    Mark

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Monday, March 06, 2006 9:15:00 AM  

  • Mark, thanks a lot.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, March 06, 2006 10:01:00 AM  

  • Matthew,
    Good work! I think some of us have to re-think our understanding of 1 Corinthians 2:14.

    Mark,
    Great going bringing up Caiaphas. I am glad you are visiting here. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at Monday, March 06, 2006 11:27:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Rose~.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, March 06, 2006 12:15:00 PM  

  • Hi Matt, It's Steve Brown, but I wrote about that book on my post. So you already know that!

    By Blogger Dorothy, at Monday, March 06, 2006 5:16:00 PM  

  • It is the Spirit who pursues men, not the reverse. That said, I'm still frustrated by 'proof texters' who use I Cor 2:14 as their battering ram verse for how men cannot understand the Gospel. That is NOT the task of this section. Paul was communicating something different.

    I Cor. 2:6-9

    There were two distinct kinds of instruction in the early church. The first is kerygma – meaning “a herald’s announcement from a king.” This was used for the plain announcement of the facts of Christianity. The second was called didache –meaning “teaching,” and this was the explanation of those facts.

    To this point Paul had been teaching the church at Corinth about the basic facts of Christianity—but he did not desire to stop there. Teaching should naturally progress to the explanation of those facts. The didache was taught to the teleioi, or the mature student. In other words, Paul is saying that out on the streets or to those new to the church we speak about the basics of Christianity; but when people are more mature we give them deeper teaching.

    1 Cor. 2:10-16

    Here Paul goes on to say that only the Spirit of God can tell us about God and he uses a human analogy to illustrate the point. In v. 14, Paul distinguishes two types of people: pneumatikoi from the word pneuma meaning Spirit. This is the person who is sensitive to the Spirit and whose life is guided by it. The other is psuchikos. Psuche is the principle of the physical life—all animals posses this. It is the pneuma that differentiates us from the rest of animals. In verse 14, Paul speaks to the person who is psuchekos—who lives their life as if there was nothing beyond the physical. Their values are all physical and material. No one has to be like this, but suppressing the immortal longing of the soul can deafen them to the Spirit.

    1 Cor. 3:1-9

    In this very next passage (which should be read continuously from the previous) Paul goes on to accuse the Corinthian BELIEVERS (for he calls them brethren) of being psuchekos. He introduces a new word in v. 1 to describe them—sarkinoi or “men of flesh” (NAS) meaning not simply that they are made of flesh but that they are dominated by it.

    It’s clear what we have here is a situation where Paul felt frustrated because he felt that by this time the Corinthians should be learning the didache or higher wisdom of God, but they still had need of the kerygma or basic facts of Christianity because they were allowing themselves to be dominated by the flesh and it’s sinful desires. It’s worth noting that Corinth was considered a grossly immoral place. So this extreme- contemporary Calvinistic dogma that people cannot understand the gospel so as to believe is simply eisegesis at its best.

    By Blogger Metaphysician, at Saturday, March 25, 2006 11:20:00 AM  

  • Good thinking, GP and thanks for visiting.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Saturday, March 25, 2006 12:28:00 PM  

  • You're very welcome.

    By Blogger Metaphysician, at Saturday, March 25, 2006 8:30:00 PM  

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