Sunday, January 31, 2010

More with Marcus

Continuing in my discussion with Marcus, he responds to my contention that John 12:32 clearly says that Jesus will draw all to Himself: John 12:32 says "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” Jesus is not saying that all men - every single person is drawn to Jesus - all kinds of people are.This particular translations makes it clear - "all peoples". Brennon, you are definitely right that we do indeed agree that not everyone is drawn at the same intensity or even at the same time, but no one gets saved without that drawing.

The translation he used is one of my favorites, the NKJV. However, I think this translation falls short of capturing what this verse is saying. Most other translations say, "all men" and not "all peoples". In looking at the original Greek, you will see that that phrase is added in by the translators for clarity (as seen here). Thus, the verse would actually literally read "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself." Translating this to read this as a drawing of all kinds of people or something like that is showing a prior theological bent, because the Greek reading is just "all". You are correct, Marcus, that no one is saved without the drawing of Christ, but that is not what is being debated. We both agree on that.

We also agree that people frustates the desires of God to come to him. We don't want God. We don't look for Him. We never will if God does not initiate the relationship

Marcus, this isn't really the case. In Calvinism, God has chosen a select few to bestow His grace on. When He does this, this grace is irresistible, in that it is outside the capability of the will of man to resist this. Man cannot frustrate the purpose of God in drawing them irresistibly. This is what a major portion of this debate boils down to; is God's grace such that it can be resisted or not? We both agree that it is necessary. I have displayed clear passages of man resisting the Holy Spirit and frustrating the desire of God. This is because God allows this measure of freedom so He might have a genuine love relationship with His creatures.

Regarding Acts 13:46 - what else can an unregenerate man do but reject Jesus?

This is the point though. It's clear that Stephen recognized the work of the Holy Spirit in these people's lives. They were resisting the teaching and drawing of the Holy Spirit in the teachings of Stephen. Thus, the work of the Holy Spirit can be resisted by men.

I admit that I don't read Greek, nor can I use the grammar well but I don't see any difference between the two definitions. I mean to put something in place or to arrange something really isn't different firom fixing or determining or appointing with regards to that which is being τάσσω.

Arminians believe that God must put in place the ability to believe in the gospel. He arranges circumstances for people to hear the gospel and respond. The work of the Holy Spirit on the heart is also arranging for a person to believe. This is all very similar to what the Calvinist believes except we contend that it is not an irresistible work. God allows a person to resist if they choose. If they cease resisting, He will complete the transformation, regenerating their heart. If we are to say that God "fixes" or "determines" a time for an individual to believe, then it is an irresistible and predetermined act and impossible to see where the responsibility of man lies.

I think scripture plainly gives complete credit four our accepting the call to repentance and our rejection as own fault. I don't see how they shut the door because the door was shut for them in the first place.

I'm not sure what you're saying here completely. As for the door shutting, Acts 13:46 says, "Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, 'It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.'" They rejected it. They judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. It's clear that the offer was open and genuine and able to be accepted by these people, but they thrust the gospel from themselves. It wasn't withheld by God, it was pushed away by men.

I also think that James White deserves more credit than what you have stated.

I will confess I'm not a big fan of James White, nor of Steve Gregg. I'm sure they're both brothers in the Lord, but I disagree with the tactics of the former and the latter I don't really know that much about.

You have articulated the salvation process as I would have about 10 years ago. What changed my mind was the realization that all people are hell bound as a default.

But Marcus, I agree that people are hellbound by default.

It's not up in the air, until a person makes a decision - from the time you are born and accountable for your sins (we'll skip the babies, young children, and mientally handicapped for now) you, me, all people deserve hell. And the understanding that no one can be saved unless they are drawn

This isn't a point of disagreement between us. We agree here.

If I understand you, you are saying that God tweaks a person just enough so that they can make a free decision.

Then you haven't understood me Marcus. I have tried to make crystal clear that the grace of God is completely necessary in every aspect of salvation. It is God alone who works on our heart, drawing and calling us for salvation. It is God's work alone that saves. Our only command is to stop resisting and put our faith in Jesus for our salvation. As Arminius writes:

In reference to Divine Grace, I believe, 1. It is a gratuitous affection by which God is kindly affected towards a miserable sinner, and according to which he, in the first place, gives his Son, "that whosoever believers in him might have eternal life," and, afterwards, he justifies him in Christ Jesus and for his sake, and adopts him into the right of sons, unto salvation. 2. It is an infusion (both into the human understanding and into the will and affections,) of all those gifts of the Holy Spirit which appertain to the regeneration and renewing of man -- such as faith, hope, charity, &c.; for, without these gracious gifts, man is not sufficient to think, will, or do any thing that is good. 3. It is that perpetual assistance and continued aid of the Holy Spirit, according to which He acts upon and excites to good the man who has been already renewed, by infusing into him salutary cogitations, and by inspiring him with good desires, that he may thus actually will whatever is good; and according to which God may then will and work together with man, that man may perform whatever he wills.

In this manner, I ascribe to grace the commencement, the continuance and the consummation of all good, and to such an extent do I carry its influence, that a man, though already regenerate, can neither conceive, will, nor do any good at all, nor resist any evil temptation, without this preventing and exciting, this following and co-operating grace.1(emphasis mine)

He also said:

"Concerning grace and free will, this is what I teach according to the Scriptures and orthodox consent: Free will is unable to begin or to perfect any true and spiritual good, without grace. . .I confess that the mind of a natural and carnal man is obscure and dark, that his affections are corrupt and inordinate, that his will is stubborn and disobedient, and that the man himself is dead in sins. And I add to this -- that teacher obtains my highest approbation who ascribes as much as possible to divine grace, provided he so pleads the cause of grace, as not to inflict an injury on the justice of God, and not to take away the free will to that which is evil.2

I agree with that completely. Man is never able in his natural state to do any true spiritual good. This is why God is the one who seeks us. It's not just a "nudge," Marcus. He is imploring us to come to Him.

However, if God has to and does nudge you just enough so that you can says yes (and you would not say yes otherwise) why doesn't he nudge everyone so that they say yes and no one has to go hell?

Because some resist this calling. He calls all but not all respond.

Okay. The problem is we know that by default no one has faith.

It's not a problem though, Marcus. I agree with you on this.

What is it that make a person say "Yes" after by definition they said "No,"?

In this question you're assuming that something must make us choose something. That is begging the question.

Scripture says that they say "No" because it is the only choice they can make. (Romans 8:5-8; Hebrews 11:6)

That passage from Romans are dealing with man in his natural state. If God shows His grace to someone, they can exercise faith.

Calvinism does not explain why the elect are chosen other than that God wanted to do

I didn't say it does. But in being chosen by God from eternity past, you are automatically better than the non-chosen pagan.

No. Scripture says that it is God causing us to accept God

Actually scripture only affirms that God enables us to come to Him.

Matthew 11:27 does not say that Jesus chooses to reveal the Father to everyone either

Jesus says He chooses who to reveal the Father to, and then says "come to Me ALL you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." This is Jesus extending the gospel to anyone who will respond, not just a select few. This is widening the gospel call, not restricting it.

How can you say that God does not cause us to enter into union with Christ in that we can't go unless He enables us to do so?

Enabling someone to do something doesn't mean they will necessarily do it.

I admire William Lane Craig (WLC) but I have to disagree with him on this, partly. He rejects that we are hostile to God prior to conversion.

He absolutely does not, Marcus. On page 46 of the third edition of Reasonable Faith, Craig writes, "Here the Holy Spirit's ministry is threefold: he convicts the unbeliever of his own sin, of God's righteousness, and of his condemnation before God...This is the way it has to be. For if it weren't for the work of the Holy Spirit, no one would ever become a Christian" (emphasis his).3 He goes on to affirm that natural man does not seek God in the next sentence, quoting from Romans. You can read the page online here.

His theology does not address this problem. Your's attempts to but tries to hold on to libertarian free will.

I have the suspicion, Marcus, that you're taking someone's second hand word for this, as I have just shown that Craig does deal with this. His and my position are virtually identical on this point.

The truth is if it's going to keep my butt out of hell, I'll be God's puppet but I think it's way more complicated then that

The problem that arises from this kind of determinism is God as the author of sin.

Um, but that is what Paul wrote.

No, Paul did not write God chose us to be in Christ. He wrote that He chose us in Christ.

Sorry this response took so long. I have been busy lately. God bless you, brother.

1 James Arminius, Works Of Arminius - The Grace Of God,

2 James Arminius, Works Of Arminius - Grace and Free Will,

3 William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (Illinois: Crossway Books, Third Edition 2008), p. 46


Marcus McElhaney said...

Thanks for your response. I'm learning a lot through the interaction. Tag you are it

Kevin Jackson said...

Very well articulated.

T. James Archibald said...


Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?MK8;17

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.LK24;45

The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.LK18;34

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to hardenRM9;18

And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me."RM10;20

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.RM10;10

What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened,RM11;7

As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."HEB3;15

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you upJM4;10

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."JM4;6

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.1PT5;6

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.MT18;4

"He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them."JN12;40

25At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 27“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.MT11

10The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 11He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.MT13

"For many are invited, but few are chosen."MT22:14

T. James Archibald said...

also the greek word for 'all' in john 12;32 is pantas(wouldn't surprise me if that's where we get our prefix 'pan' ie pandemic) which comes from the word 'pas'. Both can mean either each individual person, or all kinds of people.

καγὼ ἐὰν ὑψωθῶ ἐκ τῆς γῆς, PANTAS ἑλκύσω πρὸς ἐμαυτόν.
And I if I be lifted up from the earth will draw all men unto me.

καὶ PAS ὅστις ἀφῆκεν οἰκίας ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ἢ ἀδελφὰς ἢ πατέρα ἢ μητέρα ἢ τέκνα ἢ ἀγροὺς ἕνεκεν τοῦ ἐμοῦ ὀνόματός, πολλαπλασίονα λήμψεται καὶ ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσει.
And every one that hath forsaken houses or brethren or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my name's sake shall receive an hundredfold and shall inherit everlasting life-MAT19:29

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς PAS ὁ λαὸς εἶπεν· τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.
Then answered all the people and said His blood be on us and on our children-MAT27:25

here's a link to all the uses of PANTAS(without PAS)