[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)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Some Questions for Calvinists

by Matthew

Does God choose elect individuals on the basis of:

1) characteristics they posess (they may be negative or positive characteristics)?

or

2) no reason at all?

If the latter is the case, how does the Elect differ from being a random sample of humanity?

83 Comments:

  • The Bible is silent on this matter, IMHO. Therefore I, for one, have no answer for you. However I would shudder at the thought that it was done because He foresaw something either good or bad. (Merit, demerit? Where's the grace there?) Then there would be the question of Who put those characteristics there in the first place.

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 4:16:00 AM  

  • A false dichotomy is presented in this question. While no criteria is set forth in Scripture, this does not entail that God's choosing was without basis and/or random. Just because God does not give us a reason in His word doesn't mean there are no reasons.

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 5:44:00 AM  

  • If there is a reason for God choosing us, it must relate in some way to a characteristic we posessed, posess or will posess.

    Let us suppose that God has X reason for choosing person A.

    To be a reason for the choice of A, it must relate to F, a charactersic of A, or else it bears no relation to A.

    You may assert that X is independent of F, but then it bears no relation at all to A and is thus no reason.

    Thus, God's choice of A must be due to characteristic F or else there is no reason for the choice.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 6:12:00 AM  

  • Ephesians 1:11-12 says, "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory."

    We must not think of ourselves higher than we are. We possess nothing special, nor do we offer any benefit to God for God to chose us. Deuteronomy 7 explains, "For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you (for you were the fewest of all peoples) but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping [His] oath..."

    God choosing us has nothing to do with us, but it has everything to do with God's glory. God's choosing was not random but according to "the counsel of his will." He set his love upon us because he set his love upon us (Deuteronomy 7). And when God spoke to Moses, He said, "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." That's the reason Scripture provides.

    By Blogger Cruv, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 6:45:00 AM  

  • Matthew, merited salvation?

    "cruv" made some great points.

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 7:28:00 AM  

  • Mark, no, not at all.

    If God chooses a person because of a particular reason, that does not mean His attention is necessarilly merited that is another thing.

    Cruv,

    ""I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." That's the reason Scripture provides."

    Indeed, but how is this to be understood?

    Either God chose the elect individuals on the basis of some particular characteristics they posessed or else He had no reason for choosing them as individuals, in which case it is hard not to see such a choice as a non-choice, a random sample.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 7:36:00 AM  

  • The "characteristic" is that those whom God loves are sinners. Nothing more.

    But then, you could say that God is not being "fair" to choose some people while not choosing others since "all have sinned". Romans 9 speaks to this, "14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills."

    Great interaction! Thanks for letting me participate. I've had you in my RSS reader for a while now. You "usually" have good thoughts =D (that is totally tongue in cheek - I enjoy your blog!)

    By Blogger Cruv, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 7:54:00 AM  

  • "If God chooses a person because of a particular reason, that does not mean His attention is necessarilly merited that is another thing."

    Explain, please.....

    That does seem like double talk to me.

    By Blogger bluecollar, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:13:00 AM  

  • dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    It is false to assume that God's choosing of us must have something to do with us. On this account there's absolutely no way around the merit issue: God chose me because of characteristics that I have, then those characteristics must be good and inherent in me lest God not choose me over (or rather than) someone else. If I'm not mistaken, in every instance we are given a reason for God's choosing it is, more or less, "Because I said so." If you want to believe this is a non-reason and/or a non-choice, that's certainly your prerogative.

    Let's look at your argumet a bit more closely:

    (1) God has X reason for choosing A
    (2) A has F as a characteristic
    (3) God knows F about A
    (4) Therefore God chooses A (or X = F)

    Where's the substantive connection between F and X? This gets especially confusing when we try to instantiate F. Also, why F and not G? Why does F warrant (or merit) God's choosing and not some other characteristic? Does this not make F arbitrary and random?

    God's choosing doesn't have to be based on something inherent in us. It could be the case that Michael (the archangel) said to God, "Hey, these are all the people you should save" and that was God's reason. This reason wouldn't have anything to do with us at all. God's omniscience complicates matters futher by eliminating any process of deliberation (i.e. God wasn't sitting on His throne debating amongst the angels and Himself about who to save and who not to save). God's reasons are His own on this particular topic, though it is clear that He chose us in spite of us even being His enemies.

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 10:20:00 AM  

  • Matthew I think Jesus explained our Father’s choice in John 6:40 as being those who see Him and believe in Him so I would say that belief in Jesus Christ is the characteristic that determines God’s choice.

    By Blogger Kc, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:07:00 PM  

  • Kc, I agree.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:43:00 PM  

  • Jared

    'Where's the substantive connection between F and X?'

    X is God's reason for choosing A.

    If X is a reason for choosing A, it must in some way relate to A and therefore relate to F.

    "God's choosing doesn't have to be based on something inherent in us. It could be the case that Michael (the archangel) said to God, "Hey, these are all the people you should save" and that was God's reason."

    Your hypothetical suggestion does not solve the problem. It simply extends it to another entity.

    The Archangel Michael either has a reason for choosing A (X, relating to F) or else he has no reason and thus we have arguably a random choice. If the Archangel Michael has a reason, God either approves or does not, in which case we have a random sample.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:50:00 PM  

  • Cruv, thanks for your interaction. It is great that you visit.

    "The "characteristic" is that those whom God loves are sinners. Nothing more."

    But on your view, He has chosen individual sinners. He either has a reason for this choice (which logically must relate to some characteristic posessed by them) or else He has no reason for the choice.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:53:00 PM  

  • Mark

    ""If God chooses a person because of a particular reason, that does not mean His attention is necessarilly merited that is another thing."

    Explain, please.....

    That does seem like double talk to me. "

    The characteristic that God may have used as the basis for the choice might not necessarilly be something praiseworthy.

    Hypothetically, God could have chosen only individuals who committed some specific sin or else He might have chosen people with a particularly low IQ level. Thus, the issue is not necessarilly one of merit.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 2:56:00 PM  

  • dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    You've already shot yourself in the foot: "X" (God's reason for choosing) is "belief in Jesus Christ." You make the issue necessarily one of merit by identifying a characteristic that is, in fact, praiseworthy, righteous, honorable, beautiful, holy and true. This is Arminianism at its finest; denying merit and slipping it in the back door. What such a view amounts to is that God sees that I will believe and then chooses me based on that characteristic. I have, in effect, earned my salvation through gaining God's choice by my own choice to believe.

    It is precisely this that Calvinism avoids by leaving God's reason(s) to God. The Scriptures are quite clear that we don't earn our salvation, rather it is given to us. We are made to believe because God chose us (His sheep hear His voice). What they aren't clear about is why the Father gave some to the Son and not others (or all for that matter).

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 4:25:00 PM  

  • “If we cannot assign any reason for his bestowing mercy on his people, but just that it so pleases him, neither can we have any reason for his reprobating others but his will. When God is said to visit in mercy or harden whom he will, men are reminded that they are not to seek for any cause beyond his will.” (Institutes, III, xxii, 11)

    The "not to seek for any cause beyond his will" phrase rule these things out as considerations for reprobation:

    1) the fall
    2) sin
    3) depravity
    4) unbelief
    5) or anything else true of man

    Furthermore, it states that a capricious, whimsical, and arbitrary choice has been made by God under the guise of His glorification.

    Men and women go to heaven or hell not by reason of receiving Christ or rejecting Christ, not by reason of faith in Christ or depravity of sins, but because God is ascribing to Himself glory by a "sovereign" (read: irrational, whimsical, arbitrary, and capricious) choice:

    "It so pleases Him"

    Hanko, Hoeksema, and Van Baren explain it this way:

    "First of all (and negatively) this means that in the decrees of election God chose not according to anything found in man. He did not base His choice on man in any way. Not on man's goodness, works, faith, holiness; not on man's faithfulness to the gospel. There could not be found in man any good thing. It was a free choice [my note: what does this mean!?], a sovereign choice of God. He made it without any consideration of man whatsoever."

    The consistent Calvinism of John Calvin and Superlapsarian Dual Ultimists state it all:

    Man is not responsible for either his election or reprobation.

    God is!

    Logically, that man is not responsible for his reprobation, is an inescapable conclusion in Calvinism, which creates insurmountable problems for the notion of divine justice and human culpability.

    For if the reason a man is damned has nothing to do with that man, then whatever is hidden in the mystery cannot point to man.

    Therefore, to blame the man, as Calvinists do, for what Calvinism implicitely says God is really responsible for doing does not get God off the moral hook that Calvinists put Him on. The infralapsarians seemingly cannot accept what Calvinism implies about the ultimate reason for the damnation of the reprobate or the reprobation of the damned.

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 4:34:00 PM  

  • Antonio,

    Man is responsible because God holds him so, not because he has or has not some certain ability.

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 8:06:00 PM  

  • Jared, how would you interpret the text in John 6?

    By Blogger Kc, at Wednesday, April 11, 2007 11:37:00 PM  

  • Matthew. I haven't read the other posts. (Sitting in the library and running 10 minutes behind.) The quick answer to your question is: NEITHER.

    By Anonymous goodnightsafehome, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:20:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, so if God has a reason for choosing elect individuals, how can it be a reason that bears no relation to a characteristic they posess?

    If God's reason for His choice of person A bears no relation to any charcteristic posessed by A, how can it be a genuine reason at all?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:33:00 AM  

  • kc,

    Jesus explains, in John 6:35-40, several things. First, He explains that the Father has given Him a people and that He will never drive these people away. Second, He explains that the will of the Father is that He [Jesus] lose none of those given to Him. Third, He further explains the Father's will by clarifying that those who look on and believe in the Son will have eternal life. No where in these verses are we given a reason as to why this is the Father's will, nor are we told why the Father has given to Jesus some and not others, and neither are we told what criteria the Father used to determine who would be given to the Son.

    By Blogger jared, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:38:00 AM  

  • We can see by 1 Timothy 2:4 that it is Gods will that all men be saved. There must be something that is keeping God from saving every man? If God passes over men for no other reason but His own good pleasure that would put God in the same catigory as the Levite and Priest who passed by the wounded man. I believe that God has compassion for all men that is why His word says that they might be saved (John 3:17) alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 10:08:00 AM  

  • Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said,
    "If God's reason for His choice of person A bears no relation to any charcteristic posessed by A, how can it be a genuine reason at all?"

    I have a question for you. Why must God's choice be connected to some "quality/characteristic" of the person chosen?

    By Blogger Cruv, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 10:21:00 AM  

  • Alvin said,
    "I believe that God has compassion for all men that is why His word says that they might be saved (John 3:17)"

    My question to you is, "Does God have compassion equally upon all men (of all time-past, present, future)?"

    By Blogger Cruv, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 10:25:00 AM  

  • Alvin, good point.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:04:00 AM  

  • Yes! Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Jesus died equally for every person past-prsent-future. He is the spiritual Good Samaritan! But we can come to Him ONLY on His terms. The Jews thought they were born into it,,,alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:05:00 AM  

  • Cruv

    God's reason for His choice is X.

    X is the reason for God choosing a particular person. Not His reason for choosing any persons.

    X is the reason why God chooses person A, not person B.

    Because of the criteria of X, A is accepted, B is rejected.

    Because X relates to A, it therefore relates to some characteristic (F) that is posessed by A, but not B.

    If X has no relation to F, then it provides no reason for the choice of A as opposed to B. Therefore, the criteria for X relates to F.

    Therefore, if God has chosen an elect person for a reason, that choice is on the basis of some characteristic of that individual, whether good or bad, praiseworthy or blameworthy.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:09:00 AM  

  • Jared thanks so much for your response. I must agree the text does not explain why God chooses those who believe in Christ and further I’m sure we agree that to even question His reasons for His criteria would be arrogant but doesn’t vs. 40 identify the defining characteristic for God’s choice as belief in Christ? I appreciate your considered responses.

    By Blogger Kc, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:26:00 AM  

  • Believe is not a choice, it's something that happens when we are convinced that something is true. Hearing is a choice, even though the scriptures says "he who has ears to hear let him hear." The one who has ears to hear is the one who is seeking God. Left to our self no one would seek God, but God has not left us to our self but has come to seek and to save sinners which we all are. Satan knows this, that is why he steals the seed and veils the heart, lest the light shine in. When God speaks through His word, it's either words of life or words of death. What makes the difference? If it is received it cant help but bring forth fruit to eternal life! God's word always accomplishes it's purpose. God elected before the foundation of the world according to (by) His foreknowledge. God's word received always brings life to the elect, and they will believe according to Gods sovergn will,,,alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:47:00 AM  

  • Matthew,

    I'm sorry, I did not make myself as clear as I thought I did. Would you explain why God's reason for choosing/not choosing a person must inherently be related to the person?

    I understand your formula, but it only states your supposition rather than explains it.

    By Blogger Cruv, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:48:00 AM  

  • Alvin: "We can see by 1 Timothy 2:4 that it is Gods will that all men be saved. There must be something that is keeping God from saving every man?"

    Yes, good question. What could that 'something' be?

    All that God wills comes to pass (lest He not be sovereign). Would you consider that God may have a greater will? Greater than His desire for all men to be saved? B/C the fact is, of course, not all men are saved.


    "If God passes over men for no other reason but His own good pleasure that would put God in the same catigory as the Levite and Priest who passed by the wounded man."

    First, is that not a 'good enough' reason to satisfy you?

    Secondly, God is not by any stretch of the imagination in the same category as one of His creations. The Levite and the Priest are both in the category of sinful man.

    Matthew, I'm sorry but your philosophy and your formulas are complete lost on me. I would really, really encourage you to deal with the texts presented in some of the comments. There is simply no biblical support for your assertion.

    By Blogger Gayla, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 11:59:00 AM  

  • gayla
    Do you believe that God expects more out of His creation then He does His self?

    By Anonymous alvin, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:07:00 PM  

  • gayla, do you think that God expects more out of His creation then He would do Himself?

    By Anonymous alvin, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:09:00 PM  

  • Alvin said,
    "Yes! Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! Jesus died equally for every person past-prsent-future. He is the spiritual Good Samaritan! But we can come to Him ONLY on His terms. The Jews thought they were born into it,"

    So God loves both the elect and the non-elect in the same way?

    By Blogger Cruv, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:29:00 PM  

  • On a side note, John Piper presented a sermon discussing "For Whom Did Jesus Taste Death?" (you can read it here).u

    Here's a question for pondering:

    Ephesians 1:4 says, "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world" - in other words, God chose us in [Christ] before time began.

    Now, please explain to me, if God foresaw from eternity past into time that I would place my faith in Jesus as my Savior, how is that considered "before the foundation of the world"?

    In other words, how can God's choosing be considered "before the foundation of the world" (i.e. time) when time is considered during the decision process?

    By Blogger Cruv, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:31:00 PM  

  • God doesn't tell us to do anything He is not willing to do. He tell"s us to love our enemies, that love is by the Spirit of God! Only He can do that through us. He want's us to unconditionally love everyone!

    God is outside of time, He doesn't have to wait till it happens He has already seen beginning and the end of time. Time really only has to do with us, were caught in time God is not, He didn't have to wait for anything. I believe when He tells us it was by His foreknowledge that was for our benefit to know,,,alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 12:52:00 PM  

  • Alvin said,
    "God doesn't tell us to do anything He is not willing to do. He tell"s us to love our enemies, that love is by the Spirit of God! Only He can do that through us. He want's us to unconditionally love everyone!"

    Yes. We are to love all people. But the question was, "God loves both the elect and the non-elect in the same way?"

    By Blogger Cruv, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 1:07:00 PM  

  • Could there be any question looking at the cross? Father forgive them for they know not what they do! The cross without doubt showed God's unconditional love for the WORLD! He truly is our Great God and Savior of the whole world! No one will be able to deny His love for them!

    By Anonymous alvin, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 1:17:00 PM  

  • Alvin said,
    "Could there be any question looking at the cross? Father forgive them for they know not what they do! The cross without doubt showed God's unconditional love for the WORLD! He truly is our Great God and Savior of the whole world! No one will be able to deny His love for them!"

    So God loves the world in the same way and manner as God loves His bride, the church?

    By Blogger Cruv, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 1:24:00 PM  

  • must go now the bump is here, thanks Mattew for the great forum,,,alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 1:25:00 PM  

  • kc,

    I do not think that the Father's will is divided between verses 39 and 40, rather I see verse 40 as a continuation of the thought started in verse 35 (choosing and securing). Those whom the Father has given to the Son will look to the Son and believe in the Son for eternal life. The "looking and believing" on the part of those given to the Son are not the reason for the giving, rather it is the result of the giving.

    Believers believe beacuse the Father has given them to the Son (just as believers love because they were first loved by God). There is no indication, here, that "looking and believing" are the characteristics which the Father used as a basis for giving some to the Son and not others. Such a view makes "looking and believing" in the Son the cause of the giving (and, hence, the cause of salvation). It would be like saying God loves us because He saw that we would love Him, thus our love towards Him is the cause of God's love for us; this is also false.

    By Blogger jared, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 1:52:00 PM  

  • DF

    God does not have to reveal His reasons to us

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 2:57:00 PM  

  • Jared thanks again for your clear and concise response. I appreciate the dialog very much. As I know we are both already persuaded in our convictions I am still convinced I can be blessed in the discussion and I hope I can be a blessing as well. I think I understand your reasoning but if my conclusions would seem to indicate otherwise please know it is with no intent to twist or pervert your thoughts. I am presently reading from the KJV so I will use it here if you allow but if you prefer another translation I will be happy to study it. I find the NASB very useful. I am sorry not to be trained in Greek and if you find that disqualifies me from understanding and withdraw I would respect your conviction though I do hope that will not be the case.

    We agree vs. 40 continues Christ’ explanation from the previous verses but I can’t find the basis for understanding God’s giving to precede believing. I would be quick to say that no one can come to Christ unless He is drawn by God’s Spirit but I would just as quickly say that no one is given to Christ who does not believe in Him. This gives me the perception that God draws us to Christ and reveals Him in us at which point we must believe what He has revealed. If we believe then God gives us to Christ and we are created a new creature in Him. If we believe not we remain condemned.

    If I understand your position then the drawing and the giving by God are equivalent and belief is not THE work of God but A work of God. If you are persuaded that God forms our beliefs then I am sure we will make no headway but if you find we do form our own beliefs then I suspect there is room for further discussion on this text. May I ask at this point if my understanding of your position is clear and impose on you for your personal conviction regarding the determination of our belief? Do we believe or does God believe in us?

    Again let me thank you for the civil and courteous responses and for your time and effort in the discussion.

    By Blogger Kc, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 3:49:00 PM  

  • hello Matthew!

    From the Calvinistic perspective, the choice would definitely lie within the nature of God. Predicated upon the assumptions advanced by Calvinists in regard to election, everyone would be 'elect.' The question would be elect to glorification or elect to damnation. Much to the chagrin of calvinism, since both arise from the primordial will of God, and the actualization of each is effected infallibly by divine will and action, then the real answer to the question lies in the neurosis of God.

    That is, the election of x individual to such and y individual to such is simply the outplay of the divine will, which elects to negation that which it creates.

    However, if one were to lay aside those presuppositions and instead perceive that God exists in a relation to creation of love and relationship, then the categories previously advanced would seem to be obsolete. For God to create and call that which God created as 'good', then for God to simultaneously create what God calls 'good' for the purpose of ultimate dissolution would be mind-boggling, and neurotic.

    Rather, if God is perceived as relating to creation through love, then creation doesn't relate to God through power. Thus, God's election would seem to be taken out of the realm of power and placed within the realm of relationship and love, under which it is given entirely new connotations.

    If Christ is truly the second Adam, and takes on human nature, then it would seem that God's scope and purpose in salvation is not a few elected individuals, but all of humanity. In this sense we see that God's relation to election can never be divorced from Christ, or relegated to some supralapsarian decree. Rather, God is seen as dynamically relating to the world by reconciling the world to Godself through Christ.

    Sorry for the long initial response, but I think that would be my answer to the question.

    By Blogger Deviant Monk, at Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:16:00 PM  

  • Deviant, thanks for your thoughts. I think the tenor of your exposition of Calvinism would suggest the Calvinist answer is 2).

    Cruv

    "I'm sorry, I did not make myself as clear as I thought I did. Would you explain why God's reason for choosing/not choosing a person must inherently be related to the person?

    I understand your formula, but it only states your supposition rather than explains it. "

    Okay, I skipped a premise.

    A person is the sum of their characteristics. One or more of those characteristics is F.

    X, the reason for God's choice is related to the person A. It is a personal reason. It has to be otherwise, it would have no relation to the choice of A.

    As X relates to A, and A is the sum of her characteristics, X therfore relates to F, one or more of those characteristics.

    Therefore, if God has a reason for choosing a particular person, that reason relates to a characteristic they poesess.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, April 13, 2007 12:02:00 AM  

  • Goodnight, that is perfectly fine. God does not have to tell us why He chose us.

    However, my argument is that if God has chosen us for a reason, that reason must in some way relate to some characteristic we poesess, otherwise it bears no relation to us at all.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, April 13, 2007 12:03:00 AM  

  • Thanks Matthew. This has been a good discussion!

    I contend that IF God chose us BECAUSE of something inherently within us, He has not told us what it is; for then we would have something to boast about. To present an argument that God has indeed chosen us in conjunction with a particular "characteristic" within us seems to be intruding upon the secret things of God, since He has not told us his reason other than "I love you because I love you". (I hope that does not come across wrongly. I am really trying to express things as graciously as possible!)

    If I may, I would like to use a personal example that fits perfectly in this discussion. My brother has adopted 2 bi-racial children within the past 5 or 6 years.

    He simply chose them because he chose them. It had nothing to do with their future personalities, actions, etc... It had everything to do with the fact that he chose them. This expresses the reason God chose us.

    Granted, from our human perspective, it may seem God randomly picks individuals. But I contend it is not random because He "predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." Whatever God does is never random but calculated (I don't like using that word in reference to God, but it's the best I can think of at the moment). And the sum total of this "calculation" is whatever God deems to bring Him the most glory.

    By Blogger Cruv, at Friday, April 13, 2007 5:15:00 AM  

  • Matthew,
    I have not been able to get your question out of my mind. It is really a good one. When I first saw it, I thought I could explain it away if I were a Calvinist, but the more I think about it, I can't.

    I started thinking about making a choice myself - like if I were going to bequeath a large estate to some child. How would I choose a child? It would either have to be based on something about the child ... or I would choose randomly.
    Everyone, try to do this exercise in your mind. There are only two ways to chose - based something about the child ... or randomly. Now, let me be clear: when I say "something about the child" I understand that it doesn't mean "something GOOD about the child." For example, it may be that the child has no parents (as in the case of CRUV's brother adopting two children.) Those two bi-racial children were chosen based on the fact that they have no parents. That is one characteristic that makes them different that my four children. You see? It is just that basic. Or ... if I am looking for a child to bequeath an estate to, I have to come up with something in my criterion... like... a poor child ... or an ugly child.. or beautiful, whatever the case.

    Is this what you are getting at, Matthew?

    It is just inescapable. If there is nothing specific to the person that fulfills God's plan or pleasure, then it is random. There is no third choice. He either specifically chose or He randomly chose. If He specifically chose, then there was a reason that He specifically chose THAT person. Again, lest a Calvinist try to argue against a straw man, I am not saying that this necessitates that He chose because of something good about the individual, just that there is SOMETHING. This is inescapable logically, if you are a Calvinist.

    Of course, I feel KC's first comment is the right answer ... and I agree perfectly ... but it is not a very Calvinist answer because it doesn't answer their view of eternal predestination of individuals.

    Good post, Matthew! You really got me thinking!!!

    By Blogger Rose~, at Friday, April 13, 2007 6:00:00 AM  

  • kc,

    I would say that eternal is the result of the Father's drawing and giving to the Son, not the cause. In verse 37 Jesus says, "All that the Father giveth shall come to me" and it seems to imply that they come as a result of being given. In other words, we don't come to Jesus and then are given to Him; we are given to Jesus and then come to Him.

    Belief is the work of God in as much as it relates to faith, which is a gift from God. Here I make a distinction between "belief" and "faith" because we are able to believe without having faith (a lot of "practicing" Roman Catholics are like this). I disagree that God draws all men to Himself, rather I see this text saying that those drawn to Jesus are those whom the Father has already given to Him. This is indicated in the text by Jesus pointing out that (1) none of His, those drawn and given to Him, will be lost and (2) those whom the Father draws will be raised up at the last day (verse 44).

    So, in answer to your question, we believe and God saves (or gives faith) to those whom He has already chosen, those whom He has already given and drawn to the Son.

    By Blogger jared, at Friday, April 13, 2007 7:06:00 AM  

  • Alvin, perhaps you'd answer the question I posed to you initially:


    When you said:
    "If God passes over men for no other reason but His own good pleasure that would put God in the same catigory as the Levite and Priest who passed by the wounded man."


    I asked:
    "First, is that not a 'good enough' reason to satisfy you?"

    Your question to me:
    "Do you believe that God expects more out of His creation then He does His self?"

    God says, ...Be holy for I am holy. (Lev 11:44, 1 Peter 1:15, 16 among others)


    "do you think that God expects more out of His creation then He would do Himself?"

    ??? Seems like a repetitive question.

    By Blogger Gayla, at Friday, April 13, 2007 7:33:00 AM  

  • Rose, that is exactly my point. I am glad you can see it.

    Cruv, a charcteristic 'inherently within us' is a misleading way of putting it.

    I am using the word characteristic in a broad sense. It might not be a character trait, or an aspect of personality; it might be an action carried out or simply an event that happened to them like getting ill.

    You can allow that we will never know what the reason is, but if there is to be a reason, it must have some connection with the individual chosen. Otherwise it is a purely abitrary or unreasoned decision.

    You did not give me much information about the circumstances of the adoption.

    I am guessing that the characteristic which lead to his choice of them was the circumstances in which he came to them.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, April 13, 2007 8:12:00 AM  

  • I've enjoyed the interaction between Jared and KC. I may be restating what Jared has already said, but here's my "contribution":

    In conjunction to what Jared said,
    "All that the Father giveth shall come to me" and it seems to imply that they come as a result of being given. In other words, we don't come to Jesus and then are given to Him; we are given to Jesus and then come to Him."

    I was reading through John 6 and noticed in verse 44 that the word "dunamai" is used in the original which means "is able". The passage says, "no-one is able to come to Christ except the Father should draw him".

    In my mind, this strongly implies that no one is able to place their faith in Christ unless 1) the Father gives him to the Son and 2) the Father draws. And once the Father begins to draw a person, Jesus makes explicitly clear, "I will raise him up on the last day."

    By Blogger Cruv, at Friday, April 13, 2007 8:28:00 AM  

  • Gayla
    I said:
    "If God passes over men for no other reason but His own good pleasure that would put God in the same catigory as the Levite and Priest who passed by the wounded man."


    you asked:
    "First, is that not a 'good enough' reason to satisfy you?

    No! Because that would contradict God's own character. It would be like a parent saying you need to do this but I don't. It would be totally inconsistent with what we know about God,and His teaching to us. And we have the proof that God didn't do that. Just like the man on the side of the road and helpless. All mankind made in God's image is helpless in their sin. But Jesus took all the sin of the world on Himself and paid for it in full. And that's just what you would expect from a God that say's He is a God of love. He is not like the Levite and the Priest but is like the Good Samaritan. In fact in that story the Good Samaritan is generous. And Gayla, I'm not the one who said God is love! He made that statement!And I do not believe that God's love changes but is unconditional, but at the same time God cannot contradict His other attributes as Just,rightous,long suffering,merciful etc.

    By Anonymous alvin, at Friday, April 13, 2007 8:46:00 AM  

  • Jared,

    I would normally withdraw but after reading your blog this morning I feel very comfortable pursuing this with you. ;-)

    What I find at this point is that each of our interpretations hinge on our understanding of belief in this passage. If belief is in fact something God does for us then we can certainly draw a line directly from His drawing through to His giving us to Christ and, as you rightly indicated IMO, the only way that all men are not saved is that God does not draw all men to Christ. I hope we can pursue that understanding as well but at present I think “belief” is the greatest deterrent to any further agreement between us.

    I will concede that the process of forming a belief in Christ is unique but I propose it is not something inherently different or divinely implanted in us that causes, enables or otherwise makes us to believe but rather it is the fact that the proposition being put forth and all forms of evidence as to the veracity of the proposition are of divine origin and that this is what sets this belief apart from other beliefs that we form. IOW it’s not that we do anything special in order to believe or that we would require any special ability, it’s that God has done something special in revealing Christ in us while we are yet dead in sin in order that we might believe. If my thesis is correct then there is reason in vs. 40 for stipulating belief as a necessity whereas otherwise belief is not belief at all but secret knowledge and we already know what that means! (Gnosticism) ;-)

    I look forward to your critique.

    By Blogger Kc, at Friday, April 13, 2007 8:48:00 AM  

  • How about this: All are chosen, but not all choose God. Remember C.S. Lewis' bus to heaven?
    Also, regarding this great debate between Calv. and Arm: J Vernon McGee once said, "I believe in the security of the believer and the insecurity of the unbeliever."

    By Blogger ROD WILLETT, at Friday, April 13, 2007 10:53:00 AM  

  • Rod, so where do you stand on election?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Friday, April 13, 2007 11:40:00 AM  

  • Rod, we know God chose Israel. And God's purpose for Israel was that they would be a nation of priest to the world (Exodus 19:6). God also chose the Jews by which Jesus would come according to the flesh (Rom 9:5). Then we see Paul narrowed it down to not all Israel is Israel (Rom 9:6). Then He narrows it down even more to where it's between twins Jacob and Esau. God chose Jacob as the line the Christ would come. We see in Romans 9 Paul starts first with the Jew then true Israel then Jacob. Paul goes from a people to an individual that the Messiah would come. We see in vs.3 Paul’s sacrificial love for all Jews in the flesh. The same love that God has for every human created in His image. For God to choose Jacob over Esau was like hate for Esau. We know this verse cannot contradict John 3:16. And we see hate used in the Old Testament for Leah compared to Rachel (Gen 29:31)and we know Jacob didn't literally hate Leah but was a comparison to. Then in Romans 9:22 we have a big (what if). If we’ve learned anything by John 21:22 we need to pay attention to "if." The lesson in Romans 9 is that apart from God no one would be saved, not even if your born a Jew, you need to be born again,,,blessings alvin
    blessings alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Friday, April 13, 2007 2:14:00 PM  

  • Where do I stand? I'll have to plead ignorance, coming down a little stronger on the side of John Wesley than Calvin. I think in the daily living out our Christian faith it is not going to be an issue. We seek Jesus, we avail ourselves of Grace, we walk in the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We're all going to have to live together in heaven; we might as well get along now.

    By Blogger ROD WILLETT, at Friday, April 13, 2007 10:38:00 PM  

  • kc,

    I'll take the comment about my blog as a compliment. I wish I posted more on it but I try to get at least two good ones per month; I'm a little behind this month.

    At any rate, on to "belief." I disagree that there is something inherently unique about the proposition(s) of salvation at the level of human belief and as far as truth is concerned. All truth is God truth and, thus, it is all of divine origin. All true knowledge is grounded in Christ, who is the source of knowledge and who is Truth Himself; no truth can be known outside of Him. I think this is partially why Paul can say there are none who don't know God in some basic capacity.

    Now, there is something unique about the process of salvation because it's a process that does not begin with us. God initiates and God completes. I agree that belief on our part is necessary, but in v. 40 those who are looking to and believing in Jesus have already been given to Him. That is, the Father gave them to the Son and because the Son will lose none of those given to Him, those given will believe. There is something special about this giving to Jesus which produces belief in those who have been given. Not only this, but the belief produced is different from the belief of one who initially accepts Jesus but ultimately turns away. In other words, the "belief" in v. 40 is not the kind of belief that anybody can have because not everybody was given to the Son.

    As a side note, the Greek word for "draw" can literally be translated "drag off" or "impel." This meaning is often used by universalists in conjunction with John 12:32 (and John 3:16, of course) as a proof-text. In Reformed theology, salvation of the elect begins with the act of regeneration by God. Without a regenerate heart belief and faith could not save. This is why I distinguish between a rational intellectual assent to the proposition(s) of salvation (which includes believing and having faith to some extent) and the sort of looking and believing we find in v. 40.

    By Blogger jared, at Saturday, April 14, 2007 6:51:00 AM  

  • Gayla
    I want to make my point as clear as I can to you.
    Let's say an unbeliever is talking to a believer. And the unbeliever said this: "I don't believe in your God, in the Old Testament He had men, women, and children all killed! I don't believe in that kind of God!" So the believer tells this person this "God is sovereign He can do of His good pleasure!"
    Gayla would God be represented fairly with what God has made Himself known to us?
    I don't believe so, even though that is true. We know more about God, His Character. We know there is things He cannot do because they would violate His Character. We know God cannot lie! He tells us that He is love! The believer needs to give the unbeliever as much information about God as God has made known about Himself.
    That God always does what is right (Hosea 14:9). That God is always just (Isa 45:21). That God is long-suffering and merciful and full of grace (Psalm 86:15). I would tell the unbeliever that God did not destroy these people until their sin reached it's full (Gen 15:16;Deut 9:4).
    Is God sovereign? Yes, but we cannot assassinate His Character to make that point!
    Is God the Spiritual Good Samaritan? From what He has made known about Himself to us I would say YES! alvin

    By Anonymous alvin, at Saturday, April 14, 2007 12:30:00 PM  

  • Jared,

    Yes it was a compliment. I was especially impressed with this article. I really appreciate your attitude in this and it gave me the confidence to pursue a topic with you that quite often results in turmoil and division. ;-)

    While I agree with you concerning truth and God, not all truth is put forth to us in such a divine manner. While even the heavens declare God’s glory it is God’s own Spirit that testifies of His Son and this I find unique. If the belief in Christ is “produced” in us would that mean that the truth is given to some but not others? How would that differ from secret knowledge? I am also concerned with the two types of belief you referenced. What distinguishes the one from the other? Can a person know which type of belief they have?

    I would disagree that those who see Christ are given to Him prior to belief, as belief in vs. 40 is prerequisite to being given. I think vs.27 establishes that eternal life is contingent upon doing the work of God and vs. 29 defines that work as belief in Christ. While I know there are numerous scriptures that would better support the concepts you’ve offered I do not find in these verses any evidence that belief in Christ is either automatic or guaranteed or that there are two types of belief in Christ, one effective and one not. I do find clear evidence to support the fact that those who believe in Christ are guaranteed everlasting life.

    By Blogger Kc, at Saturday, April 14, 2007 2:18:00 PM  

  • Rose (& Matthew),

    Your argumeents would be great ... IF you were God! Or if God's ways were even similar to our's. God is not bound by the limitations and logical rationale that our finite minds are stuck with.

    God makes it quite clear that the ONLY reason He chooses any one is for His glory ... Does this sound familiar? "having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,"

    That is ALL we know... it is for the praise of His glory! His glory alone! To attempt to go beyond that is to go further than God has allowed our human minds to understand. It is, frankly, arrogant to think that you make choices that same way that God does. How small is God?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Saturday, April 14, 2007 7:07:00 PM  

  • Anon, so is God beyond logic?

    Could God make a square circle or a problem that He could not solve?

    If you want to engage in the project of theology, you must presume that discourse about God is meaningful. That means assuming that God's acts are logical.

    It would be quite improper to assume that we could understand all God's purposes, but it is consistent with what we know about God that whatever His actions, they are logical. God is a god of order, not of chaos.

    God chooses for His own glory, but His glory is accomplished by fulfilling His purposes. It is logical that God might fulfill those purposes through making a random choice of persons. However, if He has chosen for a reason, logically that reason relates in some way to the persons chosen.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, April 15, 2007 6:36:00 AM  

  • Hi my anonymous Toledo friend,
    You are erecting a straw man that is a person who thinks they can understand God's mind ... attack that stuffed person all you want ... for it is not me!! I do not feel that I can comprehend God's mind.

    Matthew does make a good point though. I think God has given us a mind for a reason!

    You are not seeing the forest for the trees. The only difference between those chosen and those not chosen is belief in Christ. I have noticed that the determinists are the ones that have the difficulty with the logic of this question.

    KC (above) made it really simple. Whaddaya know? He is not a determinist.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Sunday, April 15, 2007 11:57:00 AM  

  • I am truly sorry I entered this disussion. I knew better. Please allow me to exit graciously.
    Thanks you!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, April 15, 2007 1:29:00 PM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    Yes, I'm jumping in late, but this is a good discussion.

    Matthew:"God chooses for His own glory, but His glory is accomplished by fulfilling His purposes. It is logical that God might fulfill those purposes through making a random choice of persons. However, if He has chosen for a reason, logically that reason relates in some way to the persons chosen."

    Can I answer this comment with some questions? First, can we agree that God chose the nation of Israel? No matter how we believe that plays out, the Bible still explicitly states that God chose Israel, right? Was there some quality about those people that God saw, some characteristic that made Him choose them? Or was it for no reason at all? Or was is it for His purpose and reasons that only He knows that may or may not be tied to those people?

    And frankly, there are many "illogical" things about God. Is logical that the Creator of life could die? Is it logical that the God who no one can see and live could take on a human form that many people saw and lived? Is it logical that the payment for sin is death, but if we just believe in Him, He gives us life? I don't think it's beyond God to defy our logic.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Monday, April 16, 2007 6:37:00 AM  

  • kc,

    I can certainly concede that the gospel truth is unique in that it is specifically revealed by God's own word, not all truth is revealed this way. It is equally true that God's own Spirit testifies of Jesus and His work; not only this, but His Spirit testifies and confirms with our own spirit. This is how we can know we are saved.

    I say that the truth of the gospel is readily available to all men but the manifestation of faith (genuine acceptance of that truth) is only given to some. So knowledge of the gospel is not secret, but to whom and how God gives faith and acceptance of that knowledge to particular individuals is secret and known only to Him. That is why I say the original question creates a false dichotomy; just because we don't know God's reason for choosing some and not others doesn't mean there are no reasons. To make the reason either about us or random is to place limitations on God that I am not willing to place.

    As for the two types of belief, what distinguishes them is that one is produced by man without reference to regeneration (this is not genuine) and the other is produced within the work of regeneration (that is why I say it is of God). A person can know they are saved through any number of things; knowing you are saved is between you and God. The person who does not have genuine faith cannot (or does not) know he isn't saved.

    It is interesting that you bring vs 27 and 29 into this discussion. I can agree that eternal life is contingent upon doing the work of God and that the work is belief in Jesus. Look at verse 27 a little more closely: "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." We see here that not only is the work God requires of us given to us by the Son, but only those who have been sealed by the Father will be given this work.

    These two verses do not oppose any of the concepts I've been offering; they are in full support. This theme runs through the entire chapter. The Father gives to the Son who, in turn, gives to us. We are not involved in the process of salvation outside of getting it. It begins with God and ends with God, that is why it is guaranteed. This is why Jesus can say He will lose none of those given to Him.

    By Blogger jared, at Monday, April 16, 2007 8:15:00 AM  

  • Ten Cent

    "First, can we agree that God chose the nation of Israel?"

    God either chose Israel randomly out of the nations or else He chose them for a reason.

    As argued above, a reasoned choice must in some way relate to the thing chosen. As a thing is a sum of characteristics. Therefore at least one characteristic must be involved in the reason.

    "And frankly, there are many "illogical" things about God."

    Then God is a god of chaos who could never be worthy of worship.
    Life ultimately has no meaning because meaning is impossible.

    "Is logical that the Creator of life could die?"

    Have you forgot about the incarnation? The Word became a man and a man can die.

    "Is it logical that the God who no one can see and live could take on a human form that many people saw and lived?"

    According to all who are orthodox in theology, yes.

    "Is it logical that the payment for sin is death, but if we just believe in Him, He gives us life?"

    The payment of death was paid by our Lord. There is nothing illogical here.

    "I don't think it's beyond God to defy our logic."

    It is not our logic. Nobody decided that 2+2=4 or that a triangle has three sides. They are part of the order of the universe.

    You might suggest that this order is purely abitrary, but then life has no meaning. God could both love us and hate us at the same time. God offer us salvation and withdraw it at the same time. God could lie to us and yet be telling the truth. Such a god could commit suicide if he wanted.

    Unless logic and order is internal to God, then He is a god of chaos who is utterly unworthy of worship.

    All theological discourse presupposes the meaningfulness of truth. To deny the logic of divine purpose is to deny any meaningfulness to theological discourse.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, April 16, 2007 8:16:00 AM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    You said: "Then God is a god of chaos who could never be worthy of worship.
    Life ultimately has no meaning because meaning is impossible."


    You'll notice that I put "illogical" in quotes in my last comment. That's supposed to be a clue to the fact that I don't believe it illogical when viewed through God's eyes, but through our own. We perceive it to be illogical.

    If faith is that determing characteristic, then Ephesians 1:4 becomes illogical. "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him."

    If faith is the determining charactersitic then how can He choose us before we have faith as this verse seems to indicate? Or do you have a different interpretation of this verse?

    You'll also notice that I said at the end of my last comment that it's not beyond God to defy OUR logic. Because according to OUR logic, it is not possible for the God of the universe, creator of everything to be able to become His own creation. But His ways are not our ways, He defys our logic. And logic would tell you that once someone dies, that person CANNOT live again. Yet He defys our logic and He lives. I'm not saying there isn't any logic, I'm saying that our logic is not necessarily the end of every argument. If it were, then no matter how hard people argued, the world would still be flat.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Monday, April 16, 2007 9:34:00 AM  

  • Ten Cent, I think you have a major problem when you start talking about 'our logic' and 'God's logic.'

    The result of such thinking is that it is no longer possible to comprehend any discourse about God.

    If God operates outside the parameters of logic, then ultimately it is impossible to be certain of the meaning of any statement about God.

    I notice that you quoted Scripture in your comment. That presupposes a meaning to the concept of truthfulness. Yet if God is acting outside the parameters of logic, then it is possible that God might be lying in that passage (and telling the truth at the same time).

    "If faith is the determining charactersitic then how can He choose us before we have faith as this verse seems to indicate?"

    Now you are reasoning about God's choice. Your comment presupposes that we can rationalize about God's choice. You are making the assumption that this divine discourse is meaningful under logical constraints.

    Yet if God is beyond logic, then it is possible that God has chosen the elect and also decided not to choose anyone at all.

    "If faith is the determining charactersitic then how can He choose us before we have faith as this verse seems to indicate?"

    Sorry, you are saying that it is illogical that an omnipotent being can raise somebody from the dead? That a being that can do anything cannot do something? Are you sure your logic is not faulty here?

    "I'm not saying there isn't any logic, I'm saying that our logic is not necessarily the end of every argument. If it were, then no matter how hard people argued, the world would still be flat."

    Okay, maybe there are four-sided triangles. If you had a blog, you could maybe post a photograph of one.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, April 16, 2007 11:16:00 AM  

  • Hi Matthew,

    OK, point taken. You have proven me to be illogical.

    So will you allow me to back track? What if I answer number 1, God chooses elect individuals on the basis of characteristics they posess. What then is the next step in your agrument. Is it to discover what that characteristic is?

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Monday, April 16, 2007 11:50:00 AM  

  • Jared,

    I would likely state your first paragraph verbatim.

    We would agree concerning the availability of the truth of the Gospel, however I find the term “manifestation of faith” confusing at best. It is Christ who is made manifest and faith in Him is the certainty, confidence and trust that are consequential to accepting Him for who He is, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. The only way this would not be manifest is if the testimony of God is not accepted, not believed. I find the concept of a given acceptance contradictory. We must accept what God reveals but do you say it is God that accepts it in us?

    I think “not genuine belief” is better defined as not believing. Isn’t it true that the preaching of the Gospel is foolishness to those that perish? I think it unreasonable that any man would believe what He considers to be foolishness. Would a person really believe what they do not genuinely believe?

    I think verses 24 through 34 represent the broader context for Christ’ explanation in verses 35 through 40. He opens and closes His discourse with the necessity of belief in His person to be one of His as opposed to those who followed Him for the sake of their belly. I am uncertain of the reason for your emphasis on “give” as I would agree it is Christ who gives us eternal life.

    I think that to say this text is not in opposition to the concepts you propose would require that God believe for us as opposed to us believing in Christ. In essence we are not required to believe, we are made to believe and this would negate the meaning of the word and the concept of believing entirely. I would say that beyond this point we are very close in our understanding, however the implication of this point on any concept of election is enormous.

    By Blogger Kc, at Monday, April 16, 2007 3:23:00 PM  

  • kc,

    If salvation is all of God then both the faith and the grace that we are saved by must be from Him. It is exhibited in us, but is not from us. By ourselves we are not capable of producing the type of belief that results in salvation. If we could, then we wouldn't need the Holy Spirit or regeneration. A concept of salvation in which we play the determining role is couched in Pelegianism; it assumes there is a tiny bit of good in man, enough so that he is able to accept the truth of the gospel if he so chooses. But if this is the case, then salvation is not all of God. It no longer is God saving those who, from before creation, already belong to Him. The manifestation of faith, the exhibiting of a true, living and saving faith will only be found in those whom the Father has chosen. Those chosen are given to the Son and the Son will lose none of them.

    As I have said, I distinguish between genuine and non-genuine belief because there are those who now profess to be Christians (i.e. they appear to believe) who will not enter heaven. I can concede this point, however, because a non-genuine belief is, from a salvific viewpoint, practically not believing.

    You're missing the key in verse 27, Christ doesn't just give eternal life. We have both already agreed that the "meat" is the work of God which is belief in Jesus. Read the verse again; the meat produces eternal life (we agree here) and it is the meat that Jesus gives us. The phrase "eternal life" refers back to "meat" not forward to what Jesus gives: Jesus is the one who gives us the meat which, in turn, brings eternal life.

    We are both required to believe and made to believe, however we are still the ones believing. God doesn't believe for me even though He is the cause and source of my belief. Salvation is all God's work; we believe because Jesus has given us the "meat which endureth" and because the Father has given us to the Son. The disciples once asked Jesus why He spoke in parables. Jesus replied: "Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." Do you think Jesus asked permission to give this knowledge to His disicples? No. Did the disciples have a choice about receiving this knowledge? No. Is it fair that Jesus reveals this knowledge to us and, quite deliberately, not to others? This is not a question I can answer. God does the choosing, God imparts knowledge of His mysteries to those whom He chooses, God is the one who saves and God is the one who keeps. Who are we to question why? On what basis shall we judge God? Our mission is to spread the word, not to figure out who is chosen.

    By Blogger jared, at Monday, April 16, 2007 7:37:00 PM  

  • Ten Cent, I believe the elect have been chosen on the basis of the response to the Gospel. But that is beyond the scope of this post.

    My point is simply that either the elect are chosen on the basis of a charcteristic or no reason at all.

    God Bless

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Tuesday, April 17, 2007 1:18:00 AM  

  • I just love this post and comments.

    Matthew,
    This is one of my all time favorites!

    I especially like the last several comments by you, Matthew.

    Ten Cent, thanks for getting in on this. What a fun discussion.

    By Blogger Rose~, at Tuesday, April 17, 2007 8:49:00 AM  

  • Jared,

    I am confident that what we each seek to gain here is each other’s understanding so then to your credit I would claim victory. I think you have clearly and concisely presented your perception in such a way as to be clearly and easily understood. I know that requires some very admirable traits and qualities. I would like to give credit to you and thanks to God for each one. I am also pressed to expose my perception as clearly and provide you the same opportunity for scrutiny and rebuttal that you’ve afforded to me.

    In all honesty I consider it a grammatical error to assign the object of what Jesus shall give in vs. 27 as being labor instead of eternal life. I know however, that for either of us to concede on this point would require we abandon our perception on the basis of this one verse and I would not consider that a reasonable request. ;-) I think many of the differences in our understanding are highlighted in the first sentence of your reply. On the surface these differences may appear to be semantic but I think my reasoning will become clear with my explanation.

    Where you would say that salvation is all of God I would say it is all by God. If it were all of God there would be no need for belief at all. We would simply “become” saved at the appointed hour. Where you would say salvation is by grace and faith I would say it is by grace through faith. If it were by faith then we could rightly say we had part whereas if it is through faith then we simply say that through faith, not by it or because of it, we become part of God’s great salvation plan.

    I must confess that I reject the definition of regeneration as determined by Systematic Theology as being unbiblical. I find no scriptural evidence to support the notion that the scriptural meaning of regeneration is new birth. To regenerate is to renew what already exist whereas the spirit birth is the act of the creation of a new creature in Christ by God. So while I would agree that regeneration is necessary I would dismiss the notion that being born again is prerequisite to eternal life as opposed to actually being the beginning of eternal life itself. If we were born again prior to being saved it could not be said that we are saved while yet dead in sin.

    Given my understanding I would say that if election is the unconditional choice of God then both the faith through which we are saved and the grace by which we are saved must be from Him. Since I claim my faith as my own and my responsibility to God for what I believe then I say that election is in Christ alone and apart from Him there are none elect.

    By Blogger Kc, at Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:50:00 AM  

  • kc,

    You are more than welcome to consider it a grammatical error in verse 27, I am not the one who wrote it. Eugene Peterson paraphrases it this way in The Message: "Don't waste your energy striving for perishable food like that. Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last." Another paraphrase from the CEV: "Don't work for food that spoils. Work for food that gives eternal life. The Son of Man will give you this food, because God the Father has given him the right to do so." The NLT eliminates "food" completely and just carries the idea that "food" and "eternal life" are the same thing: "But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval." Even the wordy Amplified conveys this: "Stop toiling and doing and producing for the food that perishes and decomposes [in the using], but strive and work and produce rather for the [lasting] food which endures [continually] unto life eternal; the Son of Man will give (furnish) you that, for God the Father has authorized and certified Him and put His seal of endorsement upon Him." Again, you are free to believe that all of these translators are mistaken, but it seems pretty straightforward to me.

    I don't see the substantial difference between the following phrases: (1) "Salvation is of God." (2) "Salvation is by God." (3) "Salvation is from God." I once made the distinction that you make but it now appears inconsequential. These two sentences mean the exact same thing: (1) "We are saved by grace through faith" (2) "We are saved by faith through grace." The point Paul is making in Ephesians is that it is not of ourselves, the faith and the grace are both gifts from God (lest we boast). Read the book of Galatians and then tell me that salvation is not "by faith." In fact, do a phrase search of "by faith" and "by grace" and tell me which one salvation comes by. Here, I'm afraid, it is indeed mere semantics.

    As for regeneration, I will not delve into the ordo salutis; suffice it to say that, as far as Reformed/Covenant theology is concerned, regeneration would be the equivalent of spiritual conception which results in birth. That is, regeneration comes prior to being born again. Perhaps an analogy can help:

    Jesus is the Good Shepherd and His people (those chosen) are the sheep. Now, there are lost sheep and there are found sheep. You and I are found sheep, but there are lost sheep as well. The Shepherd calls for them and they hear His voice, yet still they are not found. Finally the Shepherd recovers His lost sheep and brings him back to the fold. Regeneration takes place when that lost sheep first hears His voice and new birth takes place when the sheep is safely in the arms of the Shepherd. Maybe the sheep is like the thief on the cross where salvation does not come to him until shortly before death. Or maybe the sheep is like me and was raised in a home with other sheep. In any case, regeneration comes before salvation.

    Faith is not something you give to God, rather it is something God has given to you. To be sure you are the one exercising that faith and you are the one responsible for it. However, it is your faith because it has been given specifically to you. This means it is for you and, by all means, you should claim it as your own; but it is from God (again, lest we boast).

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, April 17, 2007 1:44:00 PM  

  • Jared,

    I apologize if my words left the impression that I found error in the composition. I intended to express I found error in the reading but as you have pointed out you are not alone in your interpretation and I know you are aware that I am neither but again my belief is my own.

    I am uncertain why you once held the distinction I do regarding by and through but concluded them inconsequential. I appreciate your recommendation, as it never occurred to me to read the book of Galatians or to do a word search (grin). I do find that by our faith we accomplish many things but that God accomplishes salvation through it. Again I find that our interpretation of the Ephesians passage varies with our presuppositions and understanding on election.

    I am sorry you were unable to find time to read the articles I referenced but I am certain you are very busy. I appreciate the time you have taken to convey your understanding and I wish you the best in all your future endeavors. ;-)

    Kc

    By Blogger Kc, at Tuesday, April 17, 2007 3:02:00 PM  

  • kc,

    I did read both articles. I was correcting a misrepresentation of what reformed/covenant theology understands as regeneration. We do not equate regeneration with salvation. I also agree that we are elected in Christ and that we are saved through faith by grace. Was I saved before the foundation of the world since that is when I was elected? Certainly not, since I did not even exist. I was saved when I accepted the truth of the gospel, called upon Jesus as my savior and believed that His work in life, death, resurrection and ascension is the guarantee of my salvation.

    My conclusions about "by" and "through" are because both of these are true: I am saved by grace and I am saved by faith. The Greek prepositions for "by" (Strong's 1722) and "through" (Strong's 1223) are used interchangeably throughout the New Testament. Also, Ehpesians 2:8 in the Greek does not contain the word "by" (Strong's 1722) in it at all.

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, April 17, 2007 6:04:00 PM  

  • Jared,

    Please forgive me for concluding you had not read the articles and accept my apology as well as my gratitude for taking away from your time to pursue this.

    I admit I am no authority on either the Reformed /Covenant Theology of men such as Piper or the Reformed/Dispensational Theology of men such as Mcarthur. My understanding on some of the various forms of Reformed Theology is from articles I have read and discussions with my friends who claim to be either PCA or Reformed Baptist. I am certain there are many who would claim the same position they hold and disagree with their representation. I have found many variations among those claiming to hold a Reformed Theology and have even had some attempt to persuade me that I do as well. I am certain we would agree I do not. ;-) For this reason I try to avoid using a doctrinal, denominational or theological label when identifying certain beliefs though I do use a philosophical classification where it would seem evident or appropriate but even this often causes offense. I will say that given your explanation we are close to agreement concerning regeneration as having place in the conception of the spirit birth though I disagree with your association in the analogy of the sheep. I do not find anyone apart from Christ hearing His voice but rather the Holy Spirit of God convicting us of unbelief and drawing us to Christ prior to “conception”. I will, however, respect your wish to avoid further discussion of the specific order.

    I concede it is best not to argue for a distinction between “by” and “through” as it really is semantic and I appreciate you pointing this out. I think my understanding is better represented in the distinction between those times when God uses our faith to accomplish His will in us and the times that we accomplish His will by or through our faith. Would you find that distinction scriptural?

    I do not wish to press for agreement concerning the defining characteristic(s) for God’s choice in election. I do hope to clarify my reasoning for proposing it is solely the belief in Christ in lieu of accepting any unknown or untold characteristic required to support a presupposition of predestination. If it is true that we are not saved prior to being in or given to Christ and that only by believing in Him do we gain entrance in Him and it is true we are condemned apart from Him then it is true we are only elect in Him. To say otherwise is to say that at some point the elect are condemned, which is an obvious contradiction. If then God is no respecter of persons the only defining characteristic that is common to all the elect is belief in Jesus Christ.

    By Blogger Kc, at Wednesday, April 18, 2007 1:23:00 AM  

  • If there is a reason for God choosing us, it must relate in some way to a characteristic we posessed, posess or will posess.

    How do you know this? God's ways are not our ways.

    Can you please answer that?

    By Blogger Marcian, at Wednesday, April 18, 2007 7:01:00 AM  

  • kc,

    I understand and am sympathetic, to a certain degree, with your reluctance to label beliefs with denominational, doctrinal and theological tags. The sheep analogy isn't the greatest; I would clarify a bit more by saying that the lost sheep isn't apart from Christ, since it is still His sheep. Nevertheless, I think we are mostly in agreement.

    I agree that we can make a distinction between God using our faith (and us) to accomplish His will and us using our faith to accomplish His will. I would further say that often we cannot distinguish these two happenings.

    My understanding of election does not afford me an opinion about the defining characteristic which merits election. However, if there is such a characteristic then belief in Jesus is the most likely (and logical) candidate. I believe election is prior to belief; this means that belief cannot be the reason for election. If election is "according to His own pleasure" and His own pleasure is without reason or basis as far as we are able to discern, then so be it. I find no importance in knowing why God chose me but in knowing that God chose me.

    By Blogger jared, at Wednesday, April 18, 2007 10:45:00 AM  

  • Marcian,

    A person is a sum of characteristics.

    If God has a reason for choosing person A and not choosing person B, the reason must in some way relate to the two persons. Otherwise it is not a real reason.

    If the choice relates to the person, it relates to a characteristic she poesses, as a person is a sum of characteristics.

    Every Blessing in Christ

    Matthew

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Wednesday, April 18, 2007 11:08:00 AM  

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